The U.S. Department of Commerce and the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, this week signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation. This amendment extends the Agreement through 2040 and reduces U.S. reliance on uranium from Russia during that time period.
“This landmark agreement will contribute to the revitalization of American nuclear industry, while promoting America’s long-term strategic interests,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “It represents yet another success for the Trump Administration’s America First approach to international trade agreements.”
The amendment is unchanged from a draft amendment released for public comment on September 11, 2020. The amendment will:
- Extend the life of the agreement. Previously, the agreement was set to expire on December 31, 2020 – which would have resulted in unchecked imports of Russian uranium, potentially decimating the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle in the United States. The amended agreement will not expire until 2040 at the earliest.
- Reduce U.S. imports of uranium from Russia. Prior to the amendment, the Agreement allowed Russian uranium exports to meet approximately 20% of U.S. enrichment demand. Under the amended Agreement, this figure will drop to an average of approximately 17% over the next 20 years, and will be no higher than 15% starting in 2028.
- Strengthen existing protections for the U.S. commercial enrichment industry. By extending and reducing the Agreement’s export limits, the final amendment will enable the U.S. commercial enrichment industry to compete on fair terms.
- Establish unprecedented protections for U.S. uranium miners and the U.S. 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 (i.e., a process for converting natural uranium so that it is suitable for enrichment). By contrast, the amended Agreement will allow only a portion of the export quota to be used for the sale of natural uranium and conversion from Russia. On average, this portion will be equivalent to approximately 7% of U.S. enrichment demand, and no higher than 5% starting in 2026.
- Fix “returned feed” provisions in the existing Agreement that prejudice U.S. uranium miners and the U.S. converter. Under the previous Agreement, foreign-origin returned feed (i.e., natural uranium delivered by U.S. customers to the Russian exporter, in exchange for enriched uranium) could be delivered to the Russian exporter, enriched in Western Europe, and then exported to the United States outside the Agreement’s export limits. The amended Agreement would subject the foreign-origin returned feed that is enriched in third countries and exported back to the United States to the Agreement’s export limits, thereby encouraging the competitiveness of U.S.-origin natural uranium.
- Allow for the fulfillment of U.S. customers’ pre-existing contracts for Russian uranium. There are U.S. companies that entered into contracts to purchase uranium from Russia prior to and around the time that Commerce engaged in negotiations to extend the Agreement beyond 2020. The limits in the agreement are structured to enable the vast majority of these contracts to be fulfilled.
In light of the finalized amendment, Commerce 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 and resumption of the underlying antidumping investigation, as could have occurred absent a finalized amendment.
Commerce’s Enforcement and Compliance unit in the International Trade Administration, which negotiated the amendment to the Agreement, is responsible for vigorously enforcing U.S. trade law and does so through an impartial, transparent process that abides by international rules and is based on factual evidence provided on the record.
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