BETHESDA, Md. – Centrus Energy Corp. (NYSE American: LEU) welcomed the release of today’s report from the White House Nuclear Fuel Working Group Report, which calls for “immediate action to support domestic uranium miners and restore the viability of the entire front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle” so that we can meet our national security requirements, strengthen our energy security, and win the global race to build and fuel the next generation of reactors around the world.
“We applaud the Administration’s commitment to restore America’s leadership in nuclear energy and technology,” said Daniel B. Poneman, Centrus President and CEO. “We welcome the support to fund R&D on high-assay low-enriched uranium and to complete the HALEU enrichment demonstration program. And we strongly support favorable consideration of the expansion of the American Assured Fuel Supply – including unobligated enriched uranium – and its merger with the new Uranium Reserve, to enable the United States to regain its lost self-sufficiency in the front end of the fuel cycle.”
From the dawn of the nuclear age through the 1980s, the United States dominated the global nuclear fuel market, which provided the U.S. leverage to insist upon the highest standards of safety and nonproliferation in exchange for U.S. exports of nuclear fuel. The collapse of U.S. uranium mining, conversion, and enrichment capabilities has greatly reduced this influence. The United States has gone from the world’s largest exporter of nuclear fuel to the world’s largest importer.
The last domestic uranium enrichment plant that could meet U.S. national security requirements was built in the 1950s and shut down in 2013. Without an enrichment facility employing U.S. technology for the first time since the 1940s, the United States now trails Russia, China, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, and North Korea. 100 percent of the world’s uranium enrichment capability is owned by foreign, state-owned corporations. As the report recognizes, these countries view their domestic nuclear fuel cycle industries as strategic national assets and instruments of their foreign policy.
The problem goes beyond uranium enrichment. U.S. uranium mining has fallen by 93 percent since 1980, and the sole U.S. uranium conversion plant has not operated since 2017. The Department identifies State-owned enterprises and competitor nations as a threat to the U.S. fuel cycle.
The report provides strong support for Centrus’ ongoing work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy to deploy centrifuges in Ohio that will demonstrate the production of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium, an advanced nuclear fuel that could power both existing reactors and the next generation of reactors around the world. Establishing an assured U.S.-based source of this new fuel is essential so that America’s innovative advanced reactor designers can compete in the global market against foreign companies that are backed by large, state-owned enrichment enterprises. Securing a strong U.S. role in the global market for advanced reactors and fuel is essential to our ability to set and enforce the highest nonproliferation standards around the world.
The report focuses on restoring the entire domestic nuclear fuel supply chain that is needed for national security missions. Foreign-origin uranium and foreign-owned enrichment and conversion all carry binding restrictions imposed by other governments prohibiting their use for U.S. national security purposes. That is why the report’s call to support unobligated production – meaning production with U.S. technology that is free from foreign government restrictions – is so important.
In addition, the report outlines other key steps that will help promote U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear technologies, including supporting the Virtual Test Reactor and moving forward with advanced reactor demonstration projects to power federal facilities.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration, our utility customers, U.S. fuel cycle companies, and other key stakeholders to reestablish America’s nuclear energy leadership,” Poneman concluded.