US imports of Russian uranium won’t be affected by President Biden’s ban on Russian energy. The text of the executive order signed by President Biden does not include uranium in its list of banned Russian energy products.

Russia accounts for just a sliver of American oil consumption, but together with its Central Asian allies provides the USA with nearly half of a key energy resource.

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Nuclear power plants account for about 8.9% of US energy needs, including 20% of the country’s electricity, but America has no active uranium production or processing facilities, leaving it entirely dependent on imports.

The National Energy Institute, a trade group of US nuclear power generation companies, had engaged in heavy lobbying of the White House to keep Russian uranium deliveries off any sanctions plans amid fears that their inclusion could cause a dramatic surge in US electricity prices.

The [US nuclear] industry is just addicted to cheap Russian uranium, a source familiar with the lobbying effort told Reuters last week.

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Texas and Wyoming are known to have large reserves of uranium, and several US firms have expressed an interest in the resumption of domestic mining and processing if long-term contracts with the industry could be secured.

The Trump administration proposed the creation of a $150 million strategic uranium reserve in 2020, but the effort has yet to gain traction despite support for the idea from the Biden team. The oil industry seems to be too powerful.

The United States has been heavily dependent on imports of uranium from Russia and the former Soviet Union since the early 1990’s.

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In 1993, Vice President Al Gore and Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin made a 20-year, $11.9 billion deal on the delivery of over 550 metric tonnes of highly enriched uranium from scrapped Russian warheads to the USA for use in American nuclear power plants.

The agreement was shrouded in secrecy at the time that it was signed, and subsequent investigations by Russian lawmakers and media revealed that the real value of this uranium was at least $50 billion, and possibly as much as $400 billion.

This uranium provided for about 10% of all electricity generated in the USA over a 15 year period, pumping out more than 7 billion megawatt hours of energy, equivalent to about 15 billion barrels of oil, or 3.5 billion tonnes of coal.

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The Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement has subsequently been criticized as an act of national betrayal by the Yeltsin administration, with Russia said to have lost 90% of its weapons-grade uranium as a result of the deal.

After the agreement ran out, the USA and Russia’s Rosatom signed new commercial contracts on the delivery of Russian uranium to the USA, but now at fair, internationally-set market prices.

Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2022.

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10-03-22 12:05

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10-03-22 12:06