US considers tariffs on uranium imports

Enlarge / Rail trucks loaded with uranium ore wait for transportation at the uranium mine operated by Geam, a division of Diamo S.P. mining company, in Rozna, Czech Republic, on Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. Photographer: Vladimir Weiss/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Getty Images)

This week, the US Department of Commerce opened an investigation into the nature of uranium imports, ostensibly with an eye to imposing tariffs on ore and other uranium products.

Uranium is used in the production of nuclear energy, and currently only five percent of uranium used in the US nuclear energy industry comes from the US. The remaining 95 percent is imported from a variety of countries, with Canada leading, followed by Australia, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

The investigation announcement invokes Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which allows the federal government to assess imports on the basis of national security. Section 232 has been seldom used since it was signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, but it was used most recently this March by the Trump administration to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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