WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman officially issued a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed El Baradei donating nearly $50 million for the purpose of establishing an International Nuclear Fuel Bank (INFB). This donation builds on the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) close cooperation with the IAEA to provide financial and in-kind contributions that aid U.S. efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and combat nuclear terrorism.
"The United States fully endorses the establishment of an IAEA fuel bank as a critical step toward the safe and secure use of commercial nuclear power worldwide," U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. "We urge others to join us in making similar contributions and to take the steps needed to bring an IAEA fuel bank into being by the end of the year."
Once developed, the INFB will assure reliable access to nuclear fuel for clean energy production by countries willing to rely on the international market. This bank will provide an alternative to the pursuit of costly and proliferation-sensitive indigenous nuclear fuel cycle facilities, while helping meet future energy needs.
"Supporting the International Fuel Bank will help assure a safe and reliable supply of nuclear fuel, while also encouraging international cooperation and commitment to nonproliferation," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "NNSA is committed to safeguarding sensitive nuclear technology to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation or nuclear terrorism around the globe."
The U.S. contribution matches an initial $50 million pledge made by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in September 2006. The NTI grant is contingent on others making similar donations totaling $100 million and agreement by the IAEA on the framework for such a bank.
Last year, NNSA contributed $18.7 million to the IAEA and member states in support of the IAEA mandate, including efforts to help strengthen nuclear security and safeguards. The United States contributes roughly 25 percent of the IAEA's regular budget annually.
This contribution for the INFB complements ongoing U.S. initiatives in the area of international nuclear fuel assurances and exemplifies the U.S. leadership in this area. In September 2005, Secretary Bodman set aside 17.4 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to be blended to low enriched uranium (LEU) and held in reserve for states in good standing on nonproliferation that experience a fuel disruption.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
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