President Donald Trump has issued a presidential memorandum concluding the Section 232 Investigation into the effect of uranium imports on U.S. national security and declining at this time to take any further action on uranium imports. Instead, the president is establishing a United States Nuclear Fuel Working Group (Working Group) to develop recommendations for reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production.
In January 2018, Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. jointly submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) for relief under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 from imports of uranium products from state-owned and state-subsidized enterprises in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (see Trump and Trade Update of January 17, 2018). In July 2018, Commerce initiated the investigation and informed the Department of Defense of the matter (see Trump and Trade Update of July 18, 2018). Any action would have likely had a disproportionate impact on Canada, the most significant source of imported uranium for the United States.
In the presidential memorandum, Trump acknowledged Commerce’s findings that (1) uranium “is being imported into the United States in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States as defined under section 232 of the Act,” (2) the United States imports approximately 93 percent of its commercial uranium, compared to 85.8 percent in 2009, and (3) increased production by foreign state-owned enterprises “have distorted global prices and made it more difficult for domestic mines to compete.” Despite these concerns, Trump stated that he does not agree with the determination of a national security risk and is seeking a “fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain” through the establishment of the Working Group. The Working Group will examine “the current state of domestic nuclear fuel production to reinvigorate the entire nuclear fuel supply chain, consistent with United States national security and nonproliferation goals.” A report to the president from the Working Group must be submitted by October 10, 2019, setting forth its findings and making recommendations to further enable domestic nuclear fuel production if needed.