Preempting Nuclear Enrichment

  • Overseas
  • 2010

Philanthropist Warren Buffett is an adviser to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit led by former Senator Sam Nunn that seeks to reduce threats from atomic weapons. Working through the NTI, Buffett announced a $50 million pledge in 2010 toward the construction of the world’s first nuclear fuel bank—which would guarantee countries a supply of uranium to operate their nuclear power plants. This would allow the more than 30 countries considering building their first nuclear power plant to proceed without setting up their own uranium enrichment facilities. Enrichment facilities, once in place, can be used to create not just electricity-generating fuel but also bomb-grade fuel, worsening the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Buffett’s contribution represented the single largest philanthropic gift in the worldwide effort to slow nuclear proliferation. And it bore fruit in April 2015, when Kazakhstan signed an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency establishing the low-grade uranium fuel bank on its territory.