It’s getting harder to send anything from the US to Russia, including radioactive materials and nuclear-related equipment. Below are some recent examples of actions that the US government has taken to clamp down on nuclear trade with Russia. In this ever-changing geopolitical landscape, exporters must maintain export compliance vigilance for the items and technology they export.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
A specific license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was needed for many exports of radioactive material to the Russian Federation, even before February. But as of May 17, any radioactive materials that you previously could export from the US under the NRC’s general license (i.e., without NRC’s prior approval) now requires NRC’s prior approval through issuance of a specific license. The NRC has not stated whether it will review specific license applications under a “presumption of denial” standard—the NRC Order is silent on the issue—but the national security rationale for the Order suggests US companies will need to justify their exports to Russia beyond what would normally be explained in a specific license application.
Department of Commerce
The regulatory changes also apply to nuclear industry-related equipment. The Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR) include restrictions on equipment and components that are incorporated into nuclear facilities, such as generators, turbine-generator sets, steam turbines, and heat exchangers, as well as scrubbers, airlocks, process control systems, reactor simulators, and large transportation casks for high-level radioactive material. In March and April, the regulations changed to require an export license to Russia under a “policy of denial” for these components.
But Commerce didn’t stop there. Commerce also is now requiring an export license for many types of equipment and components that previously were designated as EAR99; previously among the least restrictive items under the EAR. These restrictions are helpfully listed by Harmonized Tariff Schedule codes, making them easier to look up and evaluate, in Supplement 4 to Part 746 of the EAR. In addition, any item, regardless of export classification, being sent to a Restricted Party, a military end-user or military end-use, or other restricted end-use, requires an export license from the Bureau of Industry and Security.
If you are responsible for your company’s export compliance program, then please continue to be vigilant. Let company management and your sales department know that the regulations are changing rapidly in an unprecedented way. Sales and transfers to Russia that were approved in the past may not be approved going forward. And if you approved an export internally last week, or even yesterday, then plan to revisit that approval before your company actually ships or transfers the item, software, or technology. And please feel free to contact us if you have questions.