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Contrary to previous US calls for a ban on Russian uranium imports, the nation records its highest volume of uranium imports since 2005.
During the first half of 2023, the United States bought 416 tonnes of uranium from Russia, which is 2.2 times larger than in the same period last year and the largest amount since 2005, according to Sputnik‘s calculations from US federal statistical system data.
The US bought 188 tonnes of uranium from Russia during the first six months of 2022 and 418 tonnes in January-July 2005.
The US is only supplied with uranium-235 enriched fuel, which is the country’s main “radioactive” import. The analysis, however, also considered import data of natural and depleted uranium, which the US purchases from other countries.
The cost of Russian-imported uranium surged in 2023 to $696.5 million, marking the highest recorded value since 2002, the year when the US began to break down data every month. This notable increase saw supply costs skyrocket by 2.5 times compared to the previous year. Additionally, Russia’s slice of US uranium imports grew by an impressive 13 percentage points, now accounting for 32% of the total share.
The United States also made significant strides in augmenting its uranium acquisitions from the United Kingdom throughout 2023. The purchases witnessed a remarkable surge of 28%, totaling $383.1 million, which correspondingly equates to just under 18% of the aggregate imports. However, the most remarkable spike was evident in France’s exports, ballooning to $319 million, a remarkable 15% of the entire imports in 2023, as opposed to a mere $1.9 million in the previous year.
The US nuclear power industry has grown reliant on cost-effective enriched uranium sourced from Russia. Back in June, The New York Times reported that American companies were funneling approximately $1 billion into Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, for the acquisition of nuclear fuel that contributes to over half of the United States’ nuclear energy output.
This comes months after bipartisan legislation to ban imports of Russian uranium was introduced on March 9 by US Senators John Barrasso, Joe Manchin, Jim Risch, Martin Heinrich, Cynthia Lummis, Chris Coons, and Roger Marshall.
According to Barasso, a Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), under the pretense that “Every dollar we give to Russia supports Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine” argued the need to ban the import of Russian uranium and focus on local energy resources.
Barrasso said the local nuclear industry “is ready to transition away from Russian uranium” by focusing on local resources, such as those available in Wyoming, to boost production.
Instead of decreasing imports, however, the US has just marked a new record of uranium imports since 2005.