Warren Buffett likes to portray himself as the multi-billionaire cheapskate who feels great pain from every dollar bill that leaves his wallet.
But there's no sign today of that stingy public persona he sometimes exaggerates for laughs.
Buffett says in a statement from Sam Nunn and Ted Turner's Nuclear Threat Initiative that it will be a "pleasure" to write a $50 million check, fulfilling his promise to help fund an internationalnuclear fuel bank.
Back in 2006, Buffett offered the money if the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency could raise another $100 million from one or more countries around the world.
It took several years, but that goal was met and the IAEA formally voted yesterday (Friday) to create a multinational nuclear fuel bank that will serve as a reliable source of reactor fuel for nuclear power plants, so that countries won't have to make that fuel themselves.
As the Washington Post notes today, "The same centrifuges used to prepare uranium for power plants can also be used to enrich it to higher, weapons-grade levels."
That's why the U.S. and other countries are worried about Iran's efforts to make nuclear fuel, despite that country's assertions that it is only trying to make electricity.
Buffett says in the Post, "Essentially what we're saying to the world is, if you want to be in the peaceful use of nuclear power, you don't have to have those enrichment facilities."
In the NTI statement, Buffett (an advisor to the group) is quoted as saying, "The IAEA fuel bank is an investment in a safer world and an essential tool in reducing nuclear dangers. I believe that the fuel bank will help reduce the risk of enrichment proliferation globally. It will be a pleasure to write a check for funds that will help reduce global dangers.”
Buffett tells the New York Times, "I've never been $50 million lighter and felt better." He hopes the bank will at least partially put the nuclear "genie back in the bottle" because the "spread of weapons of incredible destructive capability is the No. 1 problem facing mankind."
In an interview withReuters, Buffett says he may be contributing even more money to efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction:
"Throughout my lifetime I will be interested in this subject and I will back that interest up with money... If the project sounds like a good one and has any real chance of reducing the probabilities of the terrible use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons I'm prepared to put up significant money... Something can come up that requires a million dollars or something can come up that requires a $100 million."
Calling the threat of WMDs the biggest problem facing mankind in the 21st century, Buffett said, "We really have to prevent weapons of tremendous potential harm being used by these people who have evil intentions ... this is not a problem that we can wish away."