In 1993, the United States agreed to buy 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium from Russia. This uranium was extracted from dismantled nuclear weapons over a 20-year period. USEC, Incorporated, (the company that acts as an executive agent for the United States) paid Russia about $1.6 billion for more than 3,000 metric tons of low enriched uranium blended from highly enriched uranium. Five of these deliveries to USEC have been delayed because, among other reasons, Russia was dissatisfied with the revenue it ws getting from the sales. By the end of 1999, USEC had received about 19 metric tons less than the agreement called for at that point in the contract. The U.S. government and USEC expect that the shortfall will be made up in the next few years. In addition to the uranium obtained from dismantled nuclear weapons, Russia is also proposing that the United States buy newly produced uranium processed in its commercial facilities. GAO recommends that this arrangement be assessed to determine its impact on the nuclear fuel industry and national security.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs||The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs should direct the chair of the Enrichment Oversight Committee to study and report to Congress on the benefits and the national security implications to the United States, in addition to the impact on the domestic nuclear fuel industry, of importing newly produced low enriched uranium (LEU) from Russia as is being proposed in USEC's current negotiations with Techsnabexport on the price of the enrichment services component of LEU to be delivered to the United States through 2013.|
|Office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs||The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs should direct the chair of the Enrichment Oversight Committee to prepare and transmit to Congress a contingency plan that would detail the circumstances under which a replacement for USEC would be needed, the criteria for choosing the entity or entities (including U.S. government agencies) that would serve as the replacement, and the specific procedures to be followed in the event that USEC withdraws or is replaced as executive agent for the highly enriched uranium agreement.|