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Senate Gives Final Approval to Domenici HEU Amendment

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Senate Gives Final Approval to Domenici HEU Amendment

-- Russia HEU Plan Included in FY2009 Defense Funding Bill Headed to President --

The Senate today gave final approval to U.S. Senator Pete Domenici's initiative to build on a successful U.S.-Russian nonproliferation program while protecting U.S. nuclear fuel markets and providing incentives for Russia to eliminate an additional 300 metric tons of weapons usable, highly enriched uranium (HEU).

The Senate today voted to send President Bush a funding package (HR.2638) that includes a continuing resolution (CR) and three FY2009 appropriations bills, including the FY2009 Defense Appropriations Bill that includes Domenici's Russia HEU Amendment. The House approved the CR-appropriations package Wednesday.

"The HEU amendment represents good policy and will work to put uranium to better uses than weapons, namely fuel for clean nuclear power. This plan will provide higher access to the U.S. market as a financial incentive for Russia to continue to eliminate its surplus weapons material."

The Domenici plan would accomplish several primary objectives:

• Support completion of the existing U.S.-Russia HEU Agreement by 2013 to downblend 500 metric tons of Russian HEU.

• Close a loophole created by a U.S. Court of International Trade ruling in September 2007 that would give Russia unrestricted access to the U.S. uranium enrichment market.

• Increase Russian access to the uranium enrichment market by 5 percent if it agrees to downblend an additional 300 metric tons of HEU—enough material for 12,000 nuclear weapons—after the 2013 expiration of the current U.S.-Russia HEU Agreement. The added market access would be above the 20 percent access provided in a bilateral Russian Suspension Agreement signed by the Bush Administration in February and codified in the Domenici legislation.

The United States today imports 80 percent of the enriched uranium that fuels its nuclear power plants, and Russia provides 42 percent of those imports. Overall, Russia possesses 50 percent of global uranium enrichment capacity, but only 7 percent of the world's nuclear reactors.

"I am grateful that will now enact policy that protects U.S. energy security interests, while also further reducing the prospects of nuclear proliferation," Domenici said.

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