Washington, US President Donald Trump announced that he would not impose quotas on uranium imports despite Department of Commerce’s findings that foreign uranium poses a threat to national security.
“At this time, I do not concur with the Secretary’s finding that uranium imports threaten to impair the national security of the US as defined under section 232 of the Act,” Trump said in a presidential memorandum released late Friday, referring to the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The announcement marked a division from the previous position of the US President, who has slapped tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products and threatened to levy auto tariffs citing Section 232 investigation.
“Although I agree that the Secretary’s findings raise significant concerns regarding the impact of uranium imports on the national security with respect to domestic mining, I find that a fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain is necessary at this time,” Trump said.
The US currently imports approximately 93 per cent of its commercial uranium, compared to 85.8 per cent in 2009. According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, the majority of imported uranium comes from Canada, Australia, Russia and Kazakhstan.
In its report submitted to the President in April, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said foreign state-owned companies “distorted global prices” and made it more difficult for domestic mines to compete.
Trump demanded that a working group develop recommendations for reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production within 90 days.
The Trump administration has repeatedly invoked the previously seldom-used Section 232, drawing strong opposition from domestic and international business community.
The investigation in foreign uranium is not initiated by the Trump administration by itself, but was requested by two US uranium mining companies, Ur-Energy Inc. and Energy Fuels Inc.
American nuclear power plants, however, opposed restricting the imports of uranium, fearing that they would face a higher cost if quotas went into effect, especially when their market share has already been encroached by shale gas and wind energy companies.
Some viewed the petition for Section 232 investigation as protectionist, saying that it is merely aimed at saving an industry that has been struggling over the past few years.