Nuclear Energy Institute urges Congress to support US-China nuclear trade

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) urged Congress this week to continue nuclear trade between the United States and China because failure to do so could have severe repercussions for the U.S. economy.

Marvin S. Fertle, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based NEI, sent a letter July 21 to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Harry Reid, D-Nev, urging them to oppose S.J. Res. 19, a Senate resolution to disapprove the U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement currently under review in the U.S. Senate.

The NEI said non-renewal of the U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement will cost the United States billions of dollars in exports and thousands of American jobs. The current agreement is set to expire in December.

Failure to renew the agreement for nuclear energy trade between the Unites States and China would greatly reduce U.S. influence on global nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation, the letter said. 

Daniel Lipman, NEI vice president, suppliers and international programs, told PNW in a written statement, “China is the world’s largest market for nuclear technology and services. Major Chinese contracts awarded to U.S. nuclear energy suppliers have created billions of dollars in exports and tens of thousands of American jobs, and U.S. companies have just begun to tap the potential of this market.”

Not renewing the measure would allow other countries, such as China and Russia to capture additional market share.

“China has incorporated diverse reactor and fuel-cycle technologies from multiple partner countries other than the United States,” Lipman said. “The Chinese government has undertaken a massive building program, 26 reactors today are under construction there, that roughly aims to triple China’s electricity production at nuclear power plants by 2020. By 2030, its nuclear energy capacity is planned to reach 150 gigawatts; one-and-a-half times that of the United States.”

Also at issue, the letter said, was national and world defense.

“Without renewal, all cooperation between the world’s two largest economies on commercial nuclear energy technology and construction projects would cease,” Lipman said.

Lipman added disapproval undermines U.S.-China engagement on nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation. U.S. engagement with China has brought about significant advances in China’s nuclear nonproliferation policies and practices, and U.S. equipment and technology exports have enabled China to deploy the safest technologies, including a U.S. advanced reactor design that has been standardized for most of China’s planned nuclear power stations.

Although non-renewal would have grave consequences, Lipman said, “We’re encouraged about the prospects for renewal.”

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