The United States relies on nuclear energy for nearly 20% of its national power, and at 30% of global production, it is the largest nuclear energy producer in the world. However, the U.S. depends on Russia’s state-operated Rosatom for almost 50% of global uranium enrichment necessary for its nuclear energy production.
This dependence funds Russia’s defense efforts and represents a significant vulnerability for the U.S. The Biden administration is asking for $2.16 billion to boost domestic uranium enrichment to offset dependence on Russian nuclear fuel. Although the U.S. has enough uranium to power the country, the nuclear fuel enrichment capacity is lacking. This waters down energy sanctions on Russia to condemn the ongoing war in Ukraine and threatens energy security.
Companies in the U.S. paid nearly $1 billion to Rosatom in 2022 alone, according to the Royal United Services Institute in London, in effect funding both sides of the war.5
Rosatom’s services, however, will be challenging to replace. Rosatom’s subsidiary Tenex is the only company globally providing commercial sales of Haleu, a high-assay, low-enriched uranium that could be a key fuel source for small modular reactors, a new technology gaining traction.