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16 May, 2023 11:32

Paris justifies nuclear ties with Moscow

French energy giant EDF purchased 153 tons of enriched uranium from Russia last year
Paris justifies nuclear ties with Moscow

France will not withdraw from a contract with Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom for reprocessing uranium, as doing so would be beneficial for Moscow, the French energy transition minister has claimed.

Under the 2018 deal, regenerated uranium from France is delivered to Russia, where it is enriched and then sent back. The recycled uranium is used to run France’s nuclear power plants.

Terminating the contract would generate higher compensation for the Russian government than merely continuing imports at a minimum level, Agnes Pannier-Runacher told the BFM Business channel on Tuesday.

In March, Greenpeace reported that France had tripled imports of Russian enriched uranium in 2022. According to the organization, the deliveries confirmed France's dependence on the Russian nuclear industry, which has not been targeted by Western sanctions.

Pannier-Runacher later denied that the operation of France’s nuclear power plants depended on Russia, noting that France resorted only “to a very modest extent to natural uranium enrichment services in Russia, as well as conversion and re-enrichment services for reprocessed uranium to improve cycle efficiency.”

France “could totally do without it as this last activity can be entirely substituted by natural uranium,” the energy minister told Montel News at the time.

Statistics showed that last year the French energy corporation EDF purchased 153 tons of uranium enriched in Russia, the same level as in 2021. Russia accounts for 15% of enrichment activities for EDF.

France generates roughly 70% of its electricity from nuclear sources. The country has long been Europe’s leading electricity producer due to its massive fleet of atomic reactors, the world’s second largest after the US. However, last year more than half of them were shut down due to corrosion problems, maintenance and technical issues, adding to concerns over the energy crisis in the EU.

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