Uranium Enrichment:

Unresolved Trade Issues Leave Uncertain Future for U.S. Uranium Industry

RCED-92-194: Published: Jun 19, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed: (1) increasing U.S. imports of natural and enriched uranium from the Soviet Union; (2) an ongoing antidumping case initiated by U.S. uranium miners; (3) other factors that will play a large role in determining the future of the domestic uranium market; and (4) the Department of Energy's (DOE) uranium inventories.

GAO found that: (1) imports of Soviet uranium increased from about 1.5 million pounds in fiscal year (FY) 1989 to over 6.5 million pounds in FY 1990, an increase of over 300 percent; (2) another 6.8 million pounds of Soviet uranium entered the country in FY 1991, about 17 times more than in FY 1986; (3) although the majority of U.S. imports of foreign uranium continue to come from other countries, such as Canada and Australia, Soviet imports now represent 17 percent of annual U.S. requirements; (4) domestic uranium miners filed an antidumping petition, claiming that they had been injured by the sale of Soviet uranium and related enrichment services at less than their fair market value; (5) a preliminary investigation determined that the domestic uranium industry may be materially injured or threatened by imports from the Soviet Union; (6) the dissolution of the Soviet Union creates uncertainty as to how future uranium sales activities will be conducted and increases the possibility that some highly enriched uranium will be converted to commercial fuel for sale to nuclear power plants; and (7) DOE does not intend to purchase any natural uranium in the foreseeable future, because of its already large uranium inventories, and expects to feed its own natural uranium into its enrichment plants with some of the natural uranium that was set aside in FY 1985 for defense purposes.