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Russia’s €200m nuclear exports untouched by EU sanctions

euobserver, By INVESTIGATE EUROPE, BRUSSELS, 8 October 22,

“Russian nuclear terror requires a stronger response from the international community [including] sanctions on the Russian nuclear industry and nuclear fuel.” Those were the words Ukraine’s president Volodomyr Zelensky tweeted in August, after the shelling of a nuclear power plant in the country.

Since the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the European Union has passed multiple sanctions packages aimed at hurting the Russian economy and reducing its ability to finance the war. Sanctions have included personalities, products of all kinds, and of course, fossil fuels.

But so far, nuclear sanctions were always left out.

On Wednesday 28 September, history repeated itself again. The European Commission proposed another sanction package against Russia, the eighth since the beginning of the invasion. It includes additional trade restrictions and an oil price cap for third countries. But still nothing on nuclear cooperation with Russia and imports of Russian uranium, even if many called for it.……………………..

Europe’s dependency

The reason for this resistance can be explained in one word: dependence. So far, an import ban on uranium or other sanctions on the Russian nuclear energy sector has only been discussed in EU circles, but never formally proposed.

“The European Commission never proposed it because the impact would be stronger for some Eastern member states, that are heavily-dependent on Russian infrastructure and technologies, than for Russia itself,” one diplomatic source told Investigate Europe…………………….

In economic terms, the EU countries paid around €210m for raw uranium imports from Russia in 2021 and another €245m from Kazakhstan, where the uranium mining is controlled by Russian state-owned company Rosatom.

Raw uranium imports from Russia to EU utilities were 2,358 tonnes last year, almost 20 percent of all EU imports. Only Niger (24.3 percent) and Kazakhstan (23.0 percent) were bigger uranium trade partners, according to the 2021 annual report from the EU body, Euratom Supply Agency (ESA)………

France is the EU nation most reliant on nuclear energy

Europe works closely with Russia for its nuclear energy production……..

The role of France

Many governments, first and foremost the French, have pushed for Germany to break their dependence on Russian natural gas. But its own dependency on Russian uranium is shrouded in silence.

France imports on average around 20 percent of the needed raw uranium from Kazakhstan, where the uranium mining is controlled by Rosatom, according to Le Monde.

Green MEP Michèle Rivasi, a strong opponent of nuclear energy, exemplifies the French-Russian nuclear connection by citing Henri Proglio, the former CEO of EDF, the French semi-public main electricity company, who sits on the international advisory board of Rosatom.

“If Macron had asked Proglio to resign, he would have done so of course,” she told Investigate Europe. French dependence is not only on uranium imports, but also on nuclear waste treatment and many other activities, she said.

MEP Christophe Grudler, of the Renew Europe party, supports the exclusion of nuclear activity from the EU sanctions. In his view, one cannot impose sanctions against Russian gas (there is no embargo planned yet, unlike for crude oil) and then against Russian uranium. Unless we want a general blackout, he says.

“We must not forget that the nuclear business is not only about the power plant,” Grudler told Investigate Europe. “It is also about steam turbines. One of the world’s leading players, if not the leading one, is the French technology [company] Arabelle. However, we should not forget that two thirds of the turbines are sold… to Rosatom.”

According to some French media reports at the start of the year, Rosatom was set to acquire a 20 percent stake in GEAST, the manufacturer of the Arabelle turbine for nuclear power plants………………………………………..

In the meantime, Europe will continue to feed Russia’s finances — while adopting sanctions to drain the Kremlin’s treasury.


October 7, 2022 - Posted by | EUROPE, politics international

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