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Tag Archives | Uranium

Sanctions against Russia look Great on Paper but they’re a Dead-End


Now that Crimea has voted to unite with Russia and Vladimir Putin has welcomed Crimea with open arms, the Western half of the world, especially the United States and the European Union, are talking at lengths about imposing sanctions on Russia in order to bring Vladimir Putin to his senses.

U.S. reliance on Russian uranium makes sanctions difficult

However, the task seems easier said than done. The United States is simply not in a position to impose long-term sanctions on Russia. Economic and political ties between the United States and Russia are surely not exemplary. Yet, one key American industry relies heavily on a particular import from Russia: fuel for nuclear power plants. American dependency on Russia for its nuclear fuel is not a new development. It dates back to the early 1990s, when the HEU-LEU scheme was launched after the demise of the Soviet Union. Under this scheme, highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russian nuclear warheads is processed into low enriched uranium (LEU) for use as fuel for American nuclear power plants.

While there are plans of reducing the need for nuclear energy, the United States still receives 100 GW of its power from nuclear power plants (compare this with Russia’s nuclear energy production of 230 GW). As a result, during 2014, 48 million pounds of uranium will be needed to fuel America’s nuclear power plants. Going by data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the total uranium Oxide produced within the United States is roughly 4.8 million pounds. Barely 10% of the total demand.

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Genocide in the Central African Republic

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Militants from the Central African Republic invaded the eastern Cameroonian village of Biti last month, attacking military installations, looting local shops, and further eroding hope that the CAR’s ongoing chaos can remain confined within its own borders.

CAR rebels in Northeastern region of Central African Republic. Source: UNOCHA

The chaos in the CAR has potential to negatively impact its neighboring states further, especially given the region’s ongoing conflicts and instability. Last month UN and French officials warned of looming genocide in this poverty-stricken, landlocked nation. Can the international community prevent it from happening?

Nearly nine months ago Western-backed CAR President Bozizé fell to a loose coalition of rebels — Séléka (“Alliance”). Michel Djotodia, Séléka’s leader and the CAR’s subsequent self-declared president, announced its dissolution in September as a result accusations that the coalition committed widespread atrocities following the coup. Since then, violence has continued unabated: Sectarian clashes, executions, torture, conscription of child soldiers, and sexual violence have increased in recent months. While the national death toll is unknown because the rural areas remain too dangerous for international workers to access, approximately 10 percent of the population is now believed to be displaced, and nearly a fifth are food insecure.

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