Sergey Kondratiev, Principal Director on Economic Studies at the Institute for Energy and Finance, commented on the uranium supply from Russia to the United States to the electronic publication "Vzglyad".
"Once upon a time, the United States was a leader in nuclear energy, and along with the Soviet Union, they controlled most of the uranium enrichment and fabrication of nuclear fuel. Many nuclear projects – for example, French, Japanese, Korean – have de facto grown out of the American nuclear project. But in recent decades, the American nuclear industry has lost its position very much," Sergey Kondratiev says.
"For a long time, the United States was one of the world leaders in production, but in recent years it has been dramatically declining. Now the USA is neither in the top 10, nor even in the top 15 of the largest uranium producers. All raw materials are imported," the expert notes.
Why did the United States turn from the leader of the nuclear industry into an outsider?
The main reason is the signing of the HEU-LEU agreement in February 1993 (and later the contract). This is an intergovernmental agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States on the processing of highly enriched weapons–grade uranium into low-enriched uranium - into fuel for the US nuclear power plants.
According to him, the global problem is that the consumption of nuclear fuel will only grow. If oil and gas in the West make forecasts about a decrease in demand for them, then for nuclear fuel everyone is confident of its growth.
"This contract was, in fact, not profitable for the Russian side, because the price of our fuel was low. But, strange as it may sound, it was this contract that in many ways led to the decline of the American industry itself. American nuclear power plants have access to ultra–cheap Russian fuel, and local producers began to suffer losses and leave the market," Kondratiev says. That's why there is only one plant left in the country, the capacity of which the White House now wants to increase by 15%.
"However, the key problem for the entire industry is that current fuel consumption is already higher than production. And the difference between production and consumption is covered by Russian stocks of weapons-grade uranium. This situation did not develop yesterday, but has been going on for the past two decades, everyone knows about it. It was hard to invest in new mining projects, it fell, so the demand was covered by Russian reserves. But stocks are not eternal," the analyst says.
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