Kazakhstan Current Affairs

IAEA opens world’s first low Enriched Uranium bank in Kazakhstan

The UN global nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has opened world’s first low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Oskemen in Kazakhstan.

The bank is owned and managed by IAEA. It will be the first of its kind LEU bank not to be under control of any individual country. The IAEA also manages 123 tons of uranium in Angarsk, Russia but it is under the control of Russian government.

Key Facts

The LEU Bank has reserve capacity to store 90 tons of LEU, the essential ingredient needed to make the fuel for light-water nuclear reactors, which generate electricity. This reserve is enough to fully load a light-water reactor capable of supplying electricity to a large city for three years.

The IAEA has established a series of strict criteria for member state purchasing uranium from the bank. The project was funded by donors, including the United States, European Union, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Norway and Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Purpose of Bank

Last resort Supply:  It will serve as last resort source of LEU after IAEA member countries are unable to either produce fuel or if it becomes unavailable on the international market for whatever reason. It will ensure that in the event of an international crisis or similar circumstances, countries dependent on nuclear power would still have access to uranium.

Non-proliferation efforts: It will discourage countries from developing their own uranium enrichment capacities as seen supposedly that peaceful use of enriched uranium can be converted into weapons-grade level.

No disruption to nuclear fuel trade: It will not disrupt usual trade of nuclear fuel purchased in the open market or by bilateral agreement between countries.

Peaceful use of atomic energy: It will ensure peaceful use of atomic energy without the need to develop a costly enrichment program. It will assure that suppliers in the international markets do not manipulate prices or when LEU ceases to be supplied for political reasons.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

IAEA is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. It was established as an autonomous organization in 1957 through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute. It is independent of the United Nations but reports to both the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and Security Council (UNSC).The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

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UNGA elect Ethiopia, Bolivia, Sweden and Kazakhstan as non-permanent UNSC members

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has elected Ethiopia, Bolivia, Sweden and Kazakhstan as the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

These newly-elected countries will have two-year term starting from 1 January 2017 till 31 December 2018. They will replace Spain, Malaysia, New Zealand, Angola and Venezuela.

The voting for these countries in the UNGA was conducted by secret ballot in which members of the UNGA had voted.

Key Facts

  • Bolivia (183 votes) and Ethiopia (185 votes) were chosen from Group of Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa region respectively.
  • Sweden (134 votes) won from the Group of Western Europe.
  • Kazakhstan won from the Group of Asia Pacific against Thailand.

About United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

  • UNSC is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations (UN).
  • It is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security as well as accepting new members to the UN and approving any changes to its UN Charter.
  • Powers: (i) establishment of peacekeeping operations, (ii) establishment of international sanctions, (iii) authorization of military action through UNSC resolution.
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • Members: It consists of five permanent, veto-wielding members – China, Russia, France, UK and US along with 10 non-permanent members.
  • The non-permanent seats are allocated according to a rotation pattern set by the UNGA in 1963, to ensure a proportionate representation over time from different parts of the world.
  • Of the 10 members, 5 are from African and Asian states, 1 from Eastern European states, 2 from Latin American states and 2 from Western European and Other states.

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