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12 Dec, 2023 12:00

US House approves Russian uranium ban

The bill has to pass the Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law
US House approves Russian uranium ban

The US House of Representatives voted on Monday to approve legislation that would bar the importation of enriched Russian uranium. The measure is part of Washington’s sanction policy against Moscow.

The bill now must pass the Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden before becoming law. The Senate will have limited time to vote on the proposal this year.

The legislation would ban Russian uranium imports 90 days after enactment. It contains waivers allowing the import of low-enriched uranium from Russia if the US energy secretary determines there is no alternative viable source available for the operation of a nuclear reactor or a US nuclear energy company, or if the shipments are in the national interest.

“The risks of continuing this dependence on Russia for our nuclear fuels are simply too great,” Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers said before the vote, as quoted by Reuters. “It’s weakening America’s nuclear fuel infrastructure, which has declined significantly because of reliance on these cheap fuels,” she added.

Allowed imports of Russian uranium under the waiver would reportedly be gradually reduced from about 476.5 metric tons in 2024 to 459 metric tons in 2027.

Russia owns about 50% of the world’s uranium enrichment infrastructure, which is critical for producing nuclear fuel. The country remains a major provider of uranium mining, milling, conversion, and enrichment services for US utilities. Last year, Washington relied on Moscow for about a quarter of its enriched uranium, US government figures show.

According to BloombergNEF’s head nuclear analyst, Chris Gadomski, Russia is the only commercially available source of special highly enriched reactor fuel known as Haleu that is needed for a new breed of advanced nuclear reactors currently under development.

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