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Kazakhstan pushes ahead with nuclear fuel bank plan

December 21, 2010 - Astana

Kazakhstan is pushing ahead with an international plan for it to host a global nuclear fuel bank to allay fears of Iranian raw material enrichment, despite Iran's lukewarm response to the plan when it received the go-ahead from the world's nuclear watchdog at the start of this month.

"The decision about setting up the international fuel bank has already been approved. There's no way back on this," Kairat Umarov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, said in an interview.

He added: "Considering that all the necessary conditions on infrastructure and on the safeguarding facilities, everything is in place, I don't think it will take too much time for us to establish the whole thing."

The Central Asian republic has sought to put itself at the forefront of the world's nuclear non-proliferation efforts ever since it voluntarily let go of the vast Arsenal of nuclear weapons left behind on its territory, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's Foreign Minister and Atomic Energy Agency head, moved to undermine the scheme just two days after its approval, announcing that Iran would push ahead with developing its own plants to enrich uranium, rather than opting to use the fuel bank.

"Its conditions are for countries which do not have the capability to produce, and given the Islamic Republic's capability to produce, this proposal is unacceptable for us," Salehi said on Iranian TV.


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