Former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn leaves Atlanta today for Kazakhstan. There, on Tuesday, the co-founder and co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative will dedicate the building and facilities for something called the Low-Enriched Uranium Bank.
The whole idea is to stop the growth in the number of countries that develop nuclear weapons. Many developing countries need low-enriched uranium for their nuclear electric power plants, and they can buy that on the commercial market. But, if they worry that their market supply of uranium could be cut off—for whatever reason—they might start their own enrichment programs, and that could lead to developing bomb-grade uranium.
So, after a 12-year international effort, with funding from several nations—and with the help of $50 million from investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet — the Low-Enriched Uranium Bank will open next year. It will store 90 metric tons of low-enriched uranium, and make it available to countries that might face a supply interruption in the regular market.
In a conversation with Denis O’Hayer on "Morning Edition," Nunn described the bank as an insurance policy, so nations can have a reliable supply for their power plants, without going to the huge expense of building their own enrichment programs — which could end up developing nuclear weapons, too. He also talked about the recent exchange of threats between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (The expanded version also includes thoughts about the president's newly-announced strategy for the war in Afghanistan.)