Uranium Week: Foreign Policy Limbo

Weekly Reports | Oct 22 2019

The uranium industry is still waiting to find out whether waivers of US sanctions on Iran will be extended beyond next week’s expiry, ensuring activity ground to a halt last week.

-Waivers set to expire October 29
-20% of US nuclear fuel supply at risk
-BHP uranium sales tumble

By Greg Peel

The uranium market remained in a holding pattern last week. The market had waited 90 days for the Trump Working Group report on the US nuclear fuel cycle but the deadline came and went. A 30-day extension has reportedly been granted as the Group further develops its recommendations.

This suggests it was the Working Group which needed an extension, not the Administration needing an extension because the report was due right in the middle of the last US-China trade talks.

Either way, this is one reason for utilities in both the US and elsewhere to hold off on major supply commitments until it is clear what if any restrictions, tariffs, or anything else may be forthcoming.

Another reason for uncertainty is the Russian Suspension Agreement with the US which both parties are currently reviewing ahead of the agreement’s expiry in late 2020.

But for now the primary focus, and source of uncertainty, is the October 29 expiry of the waivers of sanctions on Iran.

When the US dropped out of Obama’s deal with Iran with regard its nuclear program, sanctions were applied but waivers were also granted to those companies already invested in supporting Iran with its nuclear power objectives. If these waivers are not reinstated, sanctions would apply to said companies, jeopardizing some 20% of US nuclear fuel supply, industry consultant TradeTech reports.

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