The opening of the 67th session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) took place on 25 September in Vienna (Austria), which annually brings together representatives of 177 IAEA member states to discuss current issues in the nuclear industry. The Minister of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan Almassadam Satkaliyev, CEO of Sovereign Wealth Fund Samruk-Kazyna JSC Nurlan Zhakupov, CEO of NAC Kazatomprom JSC Yerzhan Mukanov, representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, RSE National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan, RSE Institute of Nuclear Physics of the RoK Ministry of Energy and Mangistau Nuclear Energy Plant LLP are taking part in the Conference on behalf of Kazakhstan.
The conference includes thematic sessions, bilateral meetings, a scientific forum and an exhibition at which Kazakhstan’s pavilion is presented.
On the first day of the Conference, a side event was held dedicated to the IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium Bank (“IAEA LEU Bank”), which is located on the territory of Ulba Metallurgical Plant JSC (a subsidiary of Kazatomprom). The LEU Bank entered operational stage in 2019 with the aim of providing IAEA member states that do not have uranium enrichment technologies with a guaranteed supply of raw materials for the production of nuclear fuel.
“The Bank is one of the existing assurances of nuclear fuel supply, but it differs from the others by the fact that it is owned and controlled by the IAEA; hence it meets all applicable provisions of the IAEA safety standards. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work achieved by the IAEA Secretariat, Kazakhstan, Ulba Metallurgical Plant and other interested parties”, said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General.
The Minister of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan Almassadam Satkaliyev emphasized that Kazakhstan continues to consistently advocate for strengthening global nuclear security:
“Since the declaration of its independence, Kazakhstan has demonstrated peaceful direction of its international course, which determines its guidelines and reflects its commitment to modern international legal principles. The placement of the IAEA LEU Bank in the territory of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant means recognition of the highest level of safety that meets the most stringent international standards, as well as the availability of appropriate qualifications and experience of the plant’s personnel”.
In total, the LEU Bank contains about 90 tons of low-enriched uranium, which does not exceed 10 percent of the amount of uranium that was previously stored at UMP as its own production reserves.
“Kazakhstan stands at the forefront of global uranium extraction, accounting for over 40% of the world’s production. We are dedicated in our commitment to advancing the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the guidance of the IAEA, and we wholeheartedly support international efforts aimed at ensuring global stability”, said Nurlan Zhakupov, CEO of Samruk-Kazyna JSC.
In 2023, the first stage of re-certification of the cylinders stored at the LEU Bank was implemented, which was carried out on filled cylinders for the first time in the world. Stage II of recertification of the remaining cylinders is planned to be carried out in 2024.
“The creation of fuel banks will not disrupt the market mechanisms of the nuclear industry and will become an acceptable alternative to the proliferation of sensitive technologies. The IAEA’s LEU reserves will contribute to the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and ensuring access of states to peaceful nuclear technologies. In addition, the creation of LEU Bank will not infringe on the rights of IAEA member states to create their own production capabilities within the nuclear fuel cycle. We believe that this multilateral mechanism should not be politicized nor be discriminatory, but should be accessible to all states that comply with guarantee agreements”, noted Yerzhan Mukanov, CEO of Kazatomprom.
The 67th session of the IAEA General Conference will last from 25 to 29 September. Based on the results of the Conference, a number of important decisions will be made in the development of the global nuclear industry.
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