U.S. agency submits uranium import probe to White House
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FILE PHOTO: The seal of the Department of Commerce is pictured in Washington, D.C., U.S. March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department has submitted to the White House the results of a national security investigation into uranium imports, a spokesman for the department said on Monday.
The “Section 232” probe was prompted by a petition filed by two U.S. uranium mining companies, Ur-Energy Inc and Energy Fuels Inc, complaining that subsidized foreign competitors have caused them to cut capacity and lay off workers.
U.S. nuclear power generators oppose the federal government taking action and have argued tariffs or quotas would increase costs for the struggling industry and possibly cause some reactors to shut.
The Commerce Department declined to discuss the recommendations because they are confidential.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in July 2018 the probe would canvass the entire U.S. uranium sector from mining through enrichment and defense and industrial consumption.
Uranium is used in the U.S. nuclear arsenal and powers the Navy’s nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines, along with 99 U.S. commercial nuclear reactors that produce 20 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States. Ross noted last year that the U.S. production of uranium has fallen to 5 percent of U.S. consumption needs from 49 percent in 1987.
Trump has 90 days to decide whether to act upon the recommendations.
Probes into steel and aluminum imports have led to tariffs and quotas on the metals, prompting retaliation from trading partners including Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
The Commerce Department in February submitted the results of a separate probe into whether imported cars and auto parts pose a national security risk.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Susan Thomas