Page last updated at 21:20 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 22:20 UK

Kazakhstan in nuclear bank offer

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, shakes hands with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev during a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, 6 April 2009
Nazarbayev made the announcement during a meeting with Ahmadinejad

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has offered to build a nuclear fuel bank on its territory.

He made the announcement in a joint press conference with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is visiting Kazakhstan.

The idea was first proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005, and is supported by both the United States and Russia.

The US allocated $50m (£33.5m) to the project in 2007.

"Regarding the creation of a nuclear fuel bank for nuclear energy, Kazakhstan could consider the possibility of hosting it on its territory, as a country which signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and voluntarily refused to have nuclear weapons," said Mr Nazarbayev.

Soviet tests

Under the scheme, a storage facility would enable countries to buy nuclear fuel, reducing the need for individual nations to develop their own enrichment programmes.

The fuel bank would produce enriched uranium, which is a necessary ingredient in nuclear power reactors, keeping stocks of it for sale.

Countries that are building nuclear reactors would not have to make their own uranium fuel - they could simply buy it from the bank.

It would be supervised IAEA, which inspects reactors.

Kazakhstan has about 20% of the world's uranium ore.

The country was in the past used by the Soviets to test atomic bombs.

Under Mr Nazarbayev's rule it voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons inherited from the Soviet Union, says the BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Almaty.

Mr Ahmadinejad said after the press conference that he supported the idea, but did not say whether his country would consider using such a bank.

Iran has steadfastly denied US allegations that it is enriching uranium to make nuclear fuel for use in nuclear weapons.

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