Russian control of US uranium supply is a huge national security problem

The Trump administration is to be commended for its “energy dominance” policy with respect to oil and natural gas production, but on domestic uranium mining, used for nuclear power generation and national defense purposes, it is the United States that is being dominated.  Fortunately, the administration is considering new corrective measures to address this vulnerability to ensure America’s energy and national security.

The U.S. has become overdependent on foreign uranium. Today, we have the world’s largest commercial nuclear reactor fleet, but our domestic mining industry supplies less than 2 percent of its uranium needs. Instead, foreign uranium accounts for the vast majority of our uranium supply with imports from Russia and countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) amounting to over 40 percent of the uranium loaded into U.S. nuclear power reactors.

In 2019, the U.S. uranium mining industry forecasts production here at home will be less than is required for even one of the nation’s 98 operating reactors, and they will not be supplying any uranium for defense purposes.

The U.S. nuclear fuel cycle industry has been subjected to years of excessive imports and other price insensitive supply sources that are not part of a normal free market system.  The result is near domination of the market from regions with elevated geopolitical risks, often with agendas contrary to U.S. interests.

The precarious nature of the industry has not gone unnoticed, and the U.S. Department of Commerce is in the process of investigating the effects of uranium imports on national security. One of the prominent issues is a flood of price insensitive supply from State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s).

SOE cost structures are heavily subsidized by their governments. Their operations have less stringent safety requirements, regulatory frameworks and their operating processes are not near the standards required for U.S. companies.  Moreover, capital access from their governments is not comparable to traditional financing.

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