US working on uranium strategy, weighs ban on Russian imports: Energy secretary

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US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Thursday that the United States was working on a strategy to ensure steady uranium supply and that the country should not be sending any more money to Russia.

Republican Senator John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, asked Granholm at a hearing on President Joe Biden’s proposed FY2023 budget whether the president would ban imports of uranium used for US nuclear energy as a way to further weaken Russia.

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“I’ll let the president make that statement but I can say that this is a point on which I think we have a lot of agreement. We should not be sending any money to Russia for any American energy or for any other reason,” she said.

She said the Energy Department is currently working on a broad uranium strategy to ensure steady uranium supply for US nuclear requirements.

Biden in March banned the import of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal, but not uranium. Russia is the third largest supplier of uranium in the United States.

The US power industry relies on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear power plants.

It had been lobbying the White House to allow the imports despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Granholm said the United States was working to ensure it can supply Low-Enriched Uranium to fuel existing light water nuclear reactors.

“If we move away from Russia right away, we want to make sure we have the ability to continue to keep the fleet afloat,” she said.

A full federal uranium strategy is going through the interagency review process, she said.

Read more: Rising oil prices buy Iran time in nuclear talks: Officials

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