Biden bans Russian uranium imports, crucial for nuclear fuel supply

The White House announced that President Joe Biden signed a law banning Russian enriched uranium on Monday (May 13), marking Washington’s latest endeavor to disrupt President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ban on imports of the fuel for nuclear power plants begins in about 90 days, although it allows the Department of Energy to issue waivers in case of supply concerns.

Notably, Russia holds the title of the world’s leading supplier of enriched uranium, with approximately 24% of the enriched uranium utilised by US nuclear power plants originating from the country.

The law also unlocks about $2.7 billion in funding in previous legislation to build out the US uranium fuel industry.

“Today, President Joe Biden signed into law that will strengthen our nation’s energy and economic security by reducing, and ultimately eliminating, our reliance on Russia for civilian nuclear power,” Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said in a statement.

Sullivan further said that the legislation aligns with the multilateral objectives established with our allies and partners, reflecting commitments made in December alongside Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom to jointly invest $4.2 billion to enhance uranium enrichment and conversion capabilities.

The waivers, if implemented by the Energy Department, allow all the Russian uranium imports the US normally imports through 2027.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said that Washington’s decision surprising in global economic relations, but will not bring any results.

“The balance between exporters and importers of uranium products is being disrupted,” the Russian embassy in Washington cited Antonov as saying in a post on its Telegram messaging channel.

(With inputs from agencies)

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