The US Cuts Off Russian Uranium Imports

Image: Syed F Hashemi

The US is shutting its doors to Russian uranium. This week, the Senate unanimously passed a near-total ban on imports of the nuclear fuel from Russia, seeking to sever ties and apply pressure as the country continues its war in Ukraine.

“Our bipartisan legislation will help defund Russia’s war machine, revive American uranium production, and jumpstart investments in America’s nuclear fuel supply chain.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who cosponsored the bill, said in a statement. “This is a tremendous victory.”

The ban takes effect 90 days after the president signs the bill.

Avoiding the crunch: US nuclear plants that rely on Russian uranium to keep things up and running will have access to waivers until 2028.

  • That reliance is why uranium has been left off the list of sanctioned fuels for so long.
  • An immediate ban could cause a 20% surge in the enrichment spot price of uranium, analyst Jonathan Hinze told Bloomberg.
  • In 2022, 12% of US uranium ore was purchased from Russia, and 24% of enriched uranium imports came from Russia, per US Energy Information Administration data.

The plus side…Appropriators set aside $2.7B in the 2024 DOE budget for domestic high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) production, but the funding depended on banning Russian uranium imports. Once the bill is signed into law, those funds can be allocated to specific projects.

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