US suspends authority to ship nuclear materials to China

7 October 2021

The US Federal Register on 1 October published a notice by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), dated 27 September with immediate effect, suspending the general licence authority under NRC regulations to export radioactive material and deuterium to China General Nuclear (CGN), CGN subsidiaries, or related entities.

The notice says: “The Executive Branch has determined that suspending general licence authority … for exports to CGN, CGN subsidiaries, and related entities is necessary to further the national security interests of the United States and to enhance the United States common defence and security consistent with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. This determination is an extension of the licensing framework for civil nuclear exports from the United States to China established by the Executive Branch in 2018. For this reason, the Executive Branch has recommended that the NRC suspend the general licence authority … for any exports of radioactive material and deuterium to CGN, CGN subsidiaries, and related entities.” The suspension will remain in effect until further notice.

The order effectively extends US policy, established by the Trump administration in 2018, regarding civil nuclear exports from the United States to China. That policy, instituted ostensibly to prevent China from illegally diverting US nuclear technology for military or other unauthorised purposes, was part of a wider policy of trade sanctions against China. 

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