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Russian nuclear company Rosatom says US ban on its uranium detrimental for market


Rosatom criticizes the US ban on Russian low-enriched uranium

Bill passed by US House, Senate, awaiting president's signature

Rosatom says the US and global markets will be primarily hurt

  • Author
  • Vladislav Vorotnikov
  • Editor
  • Richard Rubin
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power

The US ban on Russian low-enriched uranium imports would have a detrimental impact on the global nuclear fuel market as well as on the US, Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has told S&P Global Commodity Insights.

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The US Senate April 30 approved legislation aimed at banning imports of Russian low-enriched uranium that is produced in Russia or by a Russian entity. The bill, which had previously passed the House of Representatives, has gone to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The ban, scheduled to come into effect 90 days after the date of enactment, includes provisions for waivers designed to address domestic supply concerns for nuclear reactors through 2028, potentially mitigating the immediate impact of the ban on the US nuclear industry.

Rosatom said it was aware of the US Congress' approval of the bill banning the import of enriched uranium from Russia, emphasizing that the move would have negative consequences on the global market.

"Such initiatives, with a clearly political undertone, have a negative impact on the sustainable functioning of the global market for nuclear fuel products and services and, ultimately, will affect the nuclear industry in countries adopting such non-market decisions," Rosatom said in a a May 5 email, without elaborating.

Rosatom added that the basic principle the Russian nuclear corporation had been following for decades, that of supplying enriched uranium to operators of foreign nuclear power plants, was that the nuclear market should be shielded from geopolitical turbulence.

"Our priorities are to fulfill contractual obligations and preserve partnership relations with our customers," it said.

Rosatom declined to say how the US import ban could impact its operation, only noting that its "strategy includes the widest possible geographic diversification of uranium product supplies to foreign customers interested in cooperation."

Rosatom also said "a pragmatic and balanced approach plays a crucial role in the implementation of ambitious nuclear development programs during the current global energy transition and the dynamic growth of needs in nuclear products and services."

Rosatom is a major supplier of nuclear fuel, its components and nuclear reactors globally. European and North American nuclear operators have been seeking to reduce their dependence on Russian industry for enriched uranium and nuclear fuel since the February 2022 invasion by Russia of Ukraine, although in the US and Europe a proportion of nuclear fuel or its components come from Russia.

No major sanctions have been imposed on Rosatom's nuclear fuel operations.

US nuclear industry officials have said they were concerned about the potential for Rosatom to respond to a US enriched uranium ban by unilaterally cutting off supply to the US, although Rosatom has said it intended to meet contractual deliveries if possible.