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20 Mar, 2024 20:08

Washington pushes for Russian uranium ban

The move could help unlock funds for domestic development of the fuel for next-generation nuclear reactors, the energy secretary has reportedly said
Washington pushes for Russian uranium ban

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has called on Congress to ban uranium supplies from Russia in order to support domestic development of the fuel for next-generation nuclear reactors, according to a report by Reuters.

In December, US lawmakers tried to introduce a ban on imports of Russian uranium as part of the sanctions campaign against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. The bill, however, stalled in the Senate.

Under a deal struck by lawmakers, passing the ban would unlock funds to expand domestic uranium enrichment and to produce a special uranium fuel called high assay low enriched uranium, or HALEU, for next-generation reactors.

“Hopefully we can get that ban in place in order to unlock” those funds, Granholm was quoted as telling a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday. “I strongly hope and encourage that Congress does that so that we can move with alacrity,” she reportedly said.

Official statistics show the US imported $1.2 billion worth of Russian uranium last year, the most ever on record. According to RIA Novosti, the purchases doubled in December, to $193.2 million, following the attempt to ban Russian supply. The total value of uranium shipments for the year was up by 43%.

Russia has remained America’s top supplier of uranium in monetary terms and is the fourth largest in terms of volume, with Canada having the top spot, according to calculations by S&P Global.

The US has its own deposits of uranium, but they are not sufficient to supply the country’s nuclear power sector. Meanwhile, Russia has the world’s largest uranium enrichment complex, accounting for almost half of global capacity. According to some estimates, it would take at least five years of heavy investment for the US to break its dependence on Russian imports of enriched uranium used to fuel nuclear reactors.