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 Astana, August 14:  On 27 August, 2015, the government of Kazakhstan will sign an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on establishing an international low-enriched uranium (LEU) bank in the country in 2017. The ceremony will take place in Astana and will be attended by delegates from countries that have supported the project, including the five permanent members of UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK, US), EU, Norway, Kuwait, the UAE.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano will sign the agreement on behalf of the organisation, while Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov will sign on behalf of the host country.

The fuel bank will provide countries with reliable access to fuel for their nuclear energy plants. It will be located at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP) in Ust-Kamenogorsk (Oskemen), a city in north-eastern Kazakhstan.

Erlan Idrissov, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, said: “The signing of this agreement is a significant step that will facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation, an objective which Kazakhstan has worked tirelessly towards. The LEU fuel bank is an important vehicle that will help create a safer world. I am grateful to the IAEA and to our funding partners for this opportunity.”

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was left with the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, which it renounced and dismantled over the first decades of its independence. The country has since consistently campaigned for an end to nuclear testing and supports a number of non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives.

Kazakhstan’s efforts to promote nuclear security and non-proliferation

·         On independence, Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth biggest nuclear arsenal, which it inherited from the Soviet Union. Since then Kazakhstan has been a vocal supporter of nuclear arms control.

·         On 27 August the government of Kazakhstan will sign an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to establish an international low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel bank in the country in 2017.

·         Kazakhstan believes its decision to relinquish nuclear weapons can serve as a useful example for other states. It has used its close diplomatic relations with the Government of Iran to urge its near neighbour to follow its lead and swear off nuclear arms. In 2013 Kazakhstan hosted two rounds of nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Iran.

·         According to the annex to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran may choose to sell its excess enriched uranium to the IAEA LEU bank in Kazakhstan when it becomes operational.

·         Kazakhstan is a party to START-I, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The country signed an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in February 2004 and is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

·         In December 2009, the UN General Assembly unanimously accepted a resolution put forward by Kazakhstan proclaiming August 29, the day when in 1991 President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on the closure of Semipalatinsk Test Site, as the ‘International Day against Nuclear Tests’.

International cooperation

·         Since independence, Kazakhstan has played a constructive role in regional and international security.

·         The rebuilding of Afghanistan is a major priority for Kazakhstan. The country has provided humanitarian aid, more than 1,000 student scholarships, and training programmes for the police.

·         Kazakhstan is bidding to join the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 as a non-permanent member.

·         Kazakhstan is increasingly playing a more active role as an international donor. The government has decided to formalise this by establishing an international development organisation called KazAid.

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Japan©