US and Russia sign final amendment to uranium suspension agreement

8 October 2020

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom on 5 October signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation (Agreement). This amendment extends the Agreement until 2040 and reduces US reliance on uranium from Russia during that period, DOC said.

The original agreement was signed in 1992 after DOC suspended an anti-dumping investigation. It restricts the amount of Russian uranium products entering the US market through special quotas regulating the commercial export of Russian uranium. A series of amendments followed in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2008. The quotas, which were set in 2008 for the last time, were valid until 31 December 2020.

The amendment is unchanged from a draft amendment released for public comment in September. “This landmark agreement will contribute to the revitalisation of American nuclear industry, while promoting America’s long-term strategic interests,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. 

The amendment will:

  • Extend the life of the agreement. Its expiration would have resulted in unchecked imports of Russian uranium.
  • Reduce US imports of uranium from Russia. Previously the Agreement allowed Russian uranium exports to meet approximately 20% of US enrichment demand.  This will now fall to an average of approximately 17% over the next 20 years, and will be no higher than 15% from 2028.
  • Strengthen existing protections for the US commercial enrichment industry.
  • Establish unprecedented protections for US uranium miners and the US uranium converter. Previously, the Agreement allowed Russia to use its entire export quota for the sale of not only enrichment, but also natural uranium and conversion. The amended Agreement allows only a portion of the export quota to be used for the sale of natural uranium and conversion from Russia. On average, this will be equivalent to approximately 7% of US enrichment demand, and no higher than 5% from 2026.
  • Fix “returned feed” provisions in the existing Agreement that prejudice US uranium miners and the US converter. Under the previous Agreement, foreign-origin returned feed (i.e., natural uranium delivered by US customers to the Russian exporter, in exchange for enriched uranium) could be enriched in Western Europe, and t exported to the USA outside the Agreement’s export limits.
  • Allow for the fulfilment of US customers’ pre-existing contracts for Russian uranium.
  • In light of the finalised amendment, DOC issued a simultaneous determination that the ongoing 2017-2018 administrative review of the Agreement is moot. Thus, the administrative review will not lead to termination of the Agreement or resumption of the underlying antidumping investigation, as could have otherwise occurred.

In May this year, US Senators had asked DOC to extend the Russian Suspension Agreement, as recommended by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group. 

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