US wants to push Russia and China out of nuclear fuel market

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The US Department of Energy proposes restricting imports of nuclear fuel from Russia and China. The goal of the new strategy is to gain America’s leadership in nuclear power. However, the elimination of dependence on foreign supplies is not such an easy task.

The plan to conquer the market has been submitted for approval to the Donald Trump administration. They decided to change the strategy for several reasons. Firstly, this is due to the loss of market share. In Russia, the most reliable, inexpensive and technologically advanced projects of nuclear power plants are still. And secondly, China is rapidly developing its nuclear energy industry.

According to experts, the PRC is currently working on its needs in this area, it has a growing nuclear sector and virtually no export. But this is only a matter of time. The Chinese Foreign Ministry almost immediately said that the information in the report was untrue and politicized.

“I saw this report,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “It also says that Russia and China in their cooperation in the field of nuclear energy cannot, like the United States, adhere to high standards of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; moreover, they are reducing standards tool for marketing goods. This is completely untrue. The United States uses various reasons to discredit and deter our cooperation with other countries. China categorically rejects the erroneous practice of the United States politicizing Cooperation in the field of nuclear technology. ”

As for Russia, technological superiority allows Rosatom to win tenders for the construction of nuclear power plants around the world. The state corporation ranks first in the world in the number of projects abroad – 36 power units in 12 countries. Among them are Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Hungary, Egypt, India, Iran, China, Nigeria, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Finland. In addition to the construction of stations, Russia exports nuclear fuel and enters into contracts for the enrichment of natural uranium, is engaged in geological exploration and its production abroad.

Russia’s share in the global nuclear fuel market exceeds 16 percent. Now all Rosatom projects are being implemented in accordance with the schedule despite the pandemic. Only in Bulgaria the tender was postponed due to coronavirus. Projects are designed for 10 years in advance. Their total volume is about 135 billion dollars.

States have been purchasing relatively inexpensive Russian uranium for more than 30 years. At the end of 2018, a Rosatom subsidiary delivered products to 19 American customers for $ 800 million. This is the largest share in the structure of foreign orders – about 50 percent. For example, the European region accounts for no more than 30 percent, in particular, deliveries go to the UK, Spain, Finland, France, Switzerland and Sweden.

In the USA, Rostatom supplies enriched uranium product from which nuclear fuel is then made. A new report by the working group states that Russia’s quota is 20 percent. And supplies need to be continued, but gradually they can be reduced. But to prohibit the document offer a completely different – a new development of the Russian company.

“We don’t supply nuclear fuel to the United States as such. This is a well-known thing,” says Alexander Uvarov, editor-in-chief of the Atominfo industry portal. “Our cartridges are hexagonal, quadrangular, square. There is a project on creating square-format cartridges designed for “Western reactors. There have already been tests. These tapes have been said separately – they want to ban them. Either cut them or ban them by presidential decree when such deliveries will be discussed.”

To create a uranium reserve in the US budget for 2021 laid 150 billion dollars. The new strategy provides for an increase in uranium mining and processing, the use of American innovations and investments to strengthen leadership, as well as a nationwide approach to supporting the industry. By the way, at the end of last year, the American Westinghouse signed a long-term contract with the Finnish company for the supply of nuclear fuel. She also supplies raw materials for Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

Since the end of the Cold War, the share of own uranium in US consumption has declined from 49 to 5 percent. It’s all about expensive enrichment technology. US manufacturers working with minimal load asked to allocate a quota of 25 percent of the market to them and protect them from competition from Russian state-owned companies. But Donald Trump, after an annual investigation by the Department of Commerce, refused to impose any restrictions.

Now in the world there are only three large suppliers of enriched uranium – one from Russia and two from Europe. This is the Urenco concern, it has large factories in England, Germany and the Netherlands. And the French who use his technology. If necessary, the concern can increase capacity for the United States. But so far this has not been done because of the price.

“Let’s think about why they still haven’t done this,” suggests Alexander Uvarov, editor-in-chief of the Atominfo industry portal. “Why is it profitable for them to buy enriched uranium from Russia. Probably, if they switch to purchases only from Urenco, it will hit the price “When there is one monopolist, the difficulties always begin with buyers.”

All proposals of the working group are designed for more than one year. The US Department of Energy also offers to provide US companies with state funding, as is done in Russia and China, for the construction of nuclear power plants in third countries. But this is only an attempt to reduce the gap, experts say, and not the leadership that they dream of in America.

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