EU favors establishment of IAEA nuclear fuel bank

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BRUSSELS, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) foreign ministers on Monday endorsed a plan for the UN nuclear watchdog agency to maintain an international nuclear fuel bank.

"The Council (of Ministers) decides to express its support for the establishment of a nuclear fuel bank placed under the control of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)," said the ministers in a statement.

They pledged to contribute up to 25 million euros (about 32 million U.S. dollars) to this project, once the conditions and modalities for the bank have been defined and approved by the Board of Governors of the IAEA.

The ministers believe that international efforts aimed at establishing multilateral mechanisms will provide states with increased energy security. "This may also offer a credible alternative to the development of national enrichment and reprocessing capabilities," said the statement, in indirect reference to Iran.

Tehran has refused to give up its nuclear program despite Western pressure. The West accuses Iran of ambitions to build an atomic bomb while Iran insists its program is purely for peaceful purposes.

The EU ministers said they wish to hold in-depth discussions in the near future on this issue with "third parties concerned."

"The nuclear fuel bank will be part of a broader effort to provide multilateral fuel supply mechanisms. Different solutions will have to be developed for different needs," said the statement.

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