The president opted instead to direct the establishment of a working group to examine the U.S. nuclear fuel supply.
President Donald Trump declined to impose trade remedies on uranium imports, despite Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ opinion that such imports threaten to impair U.S. national security.
Trump stated his decision in a memorandum released Friday, marking the final outcome of a nine-month Commerce Department-led investigation into the national security impacts of uranium imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
“Although I agree that the secretary’s findings raise significant concerns regarding the impact of uranium imports on the national security with respect to domestic mining, I find that a fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain is necessary at this time,” the White House memorandum states.
Ross in April sent the White House a report on the executive branch’s investigation into uranium imports.
In his memo, Trump directed the establishment of an interagency Nuclear Fuel Working Group to develop recommendations for “reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production” and the submission of a report to the White House by the end of Oct. 10 on the working group’s findings, including recommendations “to further enable domestic nuclear fuel production if needed.”
Though Trump determined uranium imports don’t threaten to impair U.S. national security, he said in the memo that he agreed with Ross that U.S. uranium supply is “an issue of national security.”
That statement was highlighted in a joint press release by both petitioners for the Section 232 investigation — UR-Energy and Energy Fuels.
The companies said the U.S. lacks any domestic uranium enrichment capabilities for national security applications and that they “stand ready” to support the Nuclear Fuel Working Group as it conducts its study.
The U.S. currently imports approximately 93% of its commercial uranium, compared to 85.8% in 2009, the memo says.
Other Section 232 investigations resulted in the U.S. collecting 25% tariffs on imports of steel and 10% tariffs on imports of aluminum from most countries.
A Section 232 investigation into automotive imports resulted in Trump in May ordering U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to enter negotiations with trading partners to address any threatened impairment of national security posed by automotive imports.
Commerce in March initiated a Section 232 investigation into titanium sponge imports. Commerce is due to submit its report on that investigation to the White House no later than Nov. 29.