Biden Signs Ban on Imports of Russian Uranium

( – President Joe Biden signed bipartisan legislation that would ban all imports of enriched uranium from Russia with special exceptions for companies with little to no other options.

On Monday, May 13th, Biden signed the Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act, which will not only ban imports of the mineral from Russia but will also unlock about $2.7 billion in funding for U.S. Department of Energy programs for developing nuclear fuel supply.

The bill, which unanimously passed through Congress last month, imposes a general ban on Russian uranium imports beginning 90 days after the law is enacted but with special exceptions. If they lack an alternative viable supplier, reactor operators can obtain a waiver that would allow the continued importation of Russian ore up to at least 2028.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, Congress moved to ban Russian coal, oil, and gas imports. Banning uranium will be trickier as roughly 20% of Russia’s supply is typically bought up by the U.S. for its reactors. The U.S. dishes out about $1 billion annually toward Russian nuclear fuel and the latest ban will cut off a major source of revenue for the Kremlin amid escalation in the ongoing war.

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser for the White House, said in a statement that the legislation would reestablish “America’s leadership in the nuclear sector.” The Biden administration will now have to establish new fuel supply programs to avoid disruptions, a move that will surely shake up the industry’s supply. Sullivan said relying less on Russian uranium ore would “help secure” America’s energy sector “for generations to come.”

One of the bill’s sponsors, GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said a week prior that Russia had a “chokehold” on America’s supply of uranium and that it was now coming to an end. Barrasso said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war machine” just “lost one of its cash cows.”

The loss of revenue for Russia follows an increase in revenue for Ukraine after Congress recently approved a foreign aid bill that would send about $61 billion to the nation, which Biden signed at the end of April.

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