- The U.S. depends on Russian state-operated firm Rosatom for nearly 50% of global uranium enrichment, essential for the nation’s nuclear energy production.
- America’s reliance on Russian nuclear supply chains continues despite sanctions, inadvertently funding Russia’s defense sector and creating a critical vulnerability in energy security.
- The Biden administration is seeking $2.16 billion to boost domestic uranium enrichment capabilities, emphasizing the urgency to diminish dependence on Russian nuclear fuel for national security and energy independence.
The United States has enough uranium to power the country for 100 years but lacks the nuclear fuel enrichment capacity to become self-reliant. As a result, the nation is dangerously reliant on Russian nuclear energy supply chains to keep the lights on. This is problematic on several levels. Not only does it undercut and water down the West’s energy sanctions on Russia to condemn the ongoing war in Ukraine, it also severely compromises the United States’ energy security.
The United States is reliant on nuclear energy for nearly a fifth of the national energy mix (18.2%, according to the Energy Information Agency). In fact, the U.S. is the largest nuclear energy producer in the world, accounting for a whopping 30% of global production. But while the United States is first in the world in terms of nuclear energy production, it’s far from first place in terms of uranium enrichment capacity to produce nuclear fuel. That distinction belongs to Russia. Indeed, almost 50% of the world’s uranium enrichment is conducted by Russian state-operated nuclear energy firm Rosatom.
Companies in the United States sent nearly $1 billion to Russian state-operated nuclear energy firm Rosatom in 2022 alone, according to the Royal United Services Institute in London. That’s a serious chunk of change for an economy that the West is supposedly trying to choke off. “That’s money that’s going right into the defense complex in Russia,” Scott Melbye, executive vice president of uranium miner Uranium Energy and president of the Uranium Producers of America, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. “We’re funding both sides of the war.”
In fact, throughout the entire energy sanctions timeline following the illegal invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, the Russian nuclear sector has never stopped raking in export revenue. While sanctions from the United States, the European Union, and their political