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IAEA Sets Up International Nuclear Fuel Reserve In Kazakhstan

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has decided to set up a reserve bank for reactor fuel in Kazakhstan, which countries could fall back on if they are cut off from the international uranium market.

The IAEA fuel bank was developed amid concerns that other countries could follow Iran's example and build uranium enrichment plants, which can be used both for making reactor fuel and nuclear bomb material.

The Vienna-based IAEA said that its governing board on June 11 approved the reserve of up to 90 tons of low-enriched uranium (LEU), enough to power a large city for three years with a standard-sized reactor.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said the reserve in the Kazakh city of Oskemen will be operational in about two years' time.

The U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) proposed setting up the bank in 2006.

Through NTI, U.S. investor Warren Buffett funded one-third of the $150-million IAEA fuel bank.

Another third came from the U.S. government, while the European Union, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Norway and Kazakhstan also contributed.

With additional reporting by dpa

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