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Project To Eliminate Kazakh Nuclear Fuel Unveiled

8 October 2005 -- A U.S.-based nonprofit group and Kazakh officials have unveiled a $2 million project to eliminate 2.9 tons of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

Under the project, the nuclear fuel containing highly enriched uranium from a Soviet-built nuclear reactor in western Kazakhstan will be blended down so that it cannot be used to make bombs.

The project was initiated and funded by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

According to NTI, the fuel was transported last year from the Mangyshlak nuclear power plant to the Ulba Metal Plant in the eastern Kazakh city of Ust-Kamenogorsk, where it is expected to be blended down by the end of the year.

NTI co-Chairmen Sam Nunn and Ted Turner presented the project today at the Ulba plant in the presence of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The project has been monitored by the UN nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA chief Mohamed el-Baradei congratulated NTI and the Kazakh government on the project, saying it could serve as a model in other countries.

El-Baradei and his agency were yesterday informed that they would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.