Warren Buffett. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Well-known American investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett turned heads on Thursday when it was confirmed that he'll be helping to fund an international low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel bank set to open in Kazakhstan in two years. According to Reuters, Buffett, together with the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), will donate $50 million to the project, with another $100 million coming from the European Union, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the US. Buffett is an advisor to the NTI, and their joint $50-million commitment was first announced back in 2006, according to a NTI press release put out Thursday. However, it was contingent on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) receiving a further $100 million in two-to-one matching funds, a condition that wasn't met until three years later. It then took until 2010 for the IAEA to sign off the bank's establishment, and until 2011 for Kazakhstan to express an interest in hosting the fuel bank. In the four years since then, the IAEA has been working out hosting details with Kazakhstan, finally granting operating approval this week. This week also saw the IAEA approve an agreement with Russia for the transport of LEU to and from the fuel bank. "The conclusion of the two agreements, with today's approval by the Board of Governors, represents a significant milestone for this important project, enabling us to proceed to full-scale implementation," said Yukiya Amano, director general at the IAEA. Why a fuel bank? Reuters states that the fuel bank will house LEU that can be used by IAEA member countries in the event of a disruption in the commercial market.