Department of Commerce, Rosatom sign draft amendment to uranium agreement

September 15, 2020, 12:03PMNuclear News

The U.S. Department of Commerce and Rosatom on September 12 initialed a draft amendment extend the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation, signed in 1992. Rosatom is Russia’s state atomic energy corporation.

Should the amendment receive final approval, it will extend the agreement to 2040.

Ross

What they’re saying: “This draft agreement represents an important step forward for the American nuclear industry,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “If finalized, it will contribute to the restoration of America’s nuclear energy advantage and protect the domestic industry from dumped Russian uranium.”

Specifics: According to the DOC, the draft amendment would accomplish the following:

■ Reduce U.S. imports of uranium from Russia. Under the current agreement, Russian uranium exports are limited to approximately 20 percent of U.S. enrichment demand. Under the amended agreement, the figure would drop to an average of about 17 percent over the next 20 years and would be no higher than 15 percent starting in 2028.

■ Strengthen existing protections for the U.S. commercial enrichment industry. By extending and reducing the agreement’s export limits, the draft amendment would enable the U.S. commercial enrichment industry to compete on fair terms.

■ Establish unprecedented protections for U.S. uranium miners and the U.S. uranium converter. Under the current agreement, Russia can use its entire export quota for the sale of not only the enrichment component of the low-enriched uranium, but also the natural uranium concentrates and conversion components of the LEU. By contrast, the amended agreement would allow only a portion of the export quota to be used for the sale of the natural uranium components (concentrates and conversion) from Russia. On average, this portion would be equivalent to approximately 7 percent of U.S. enrichment demand and no higher than 5 percent starting in 2026.

■ Fix “returned feed” provisions in the existing agreement that prejudice U.S. uranium miners. Under the agreement as it stands, foreign-origin returned feed—i.e., natural uranium delivered by U.S. customers to the Russian exporter in exchange for enriched uranium—can be delivered to the Russian exporter, enriched in Western Europe, and then exported to the United States outside the agreement’s export limits. The amended agreement would require foreign-origin returned feed that is enriched in third countries to be subject to the agreement’s export limits if exported back to the United States.

■ Allow for the fulfillment of U.S. customers’ preexisting contracts for Russian uranium. There are U.S. companies that already had contracts to purchase uranium from Russia before the DOC launched negotiations to extend the agreement beyond 2020. The limits in the updated agreement are structured to enable the majority of these contracts to be fulfilled.

Comments requested: The DOC is releasing the draft amendment for public comment, with a due date of September 28. The amendment is available to registered users at access.trade.gov (reference case number A-821-802), and it will also be published in the Federal Register. The DOC is seeking to finalize the amendment no later than October 5.


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