Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, a member of the Bundestag, a chairwoman of the Bundestag Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and a member of the Greens party of Germany has written a letter to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier (CDU) where she expresses her concern over the recent deal between two foreign companies, specializing in nuclear fuel production. The politician believes that this could compromise the public safety in Germany, Handelsblatt reports.
Russian TVEL Fuel Company and French Advanced Nuclear Fuels (ANF), in Lingen, Lower Saxony, have concluded a deal of joint production of nuclear fuel assemblies for NPPs. TVEL is a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom which, along with the building of NPPs, is engaged in the development of Russian military projects. In its turn, ANF belongs to French company Framatome – a subsidiary of the French state-owned energy conglomerate EDF.
In her letter, which was seen by Handelsblatt, Sylvia Kotting-Uhl writes that the partnership could be “a measure to facilitate exports of nuclear fuel or also the first step towards a complete takeover” of the fuel assemblies’ production in Lingen.
The “inconsistent” export control policy pushed Russia to behave in this way, Sylvia Kotting-Uhl believes.
Already in 2019 and 2020, the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) has issued export licences for the transportation of depleted uranium from the uranium enrichment plant at Gronau, North Rhine-Westphalia, to the Russian city of Novouralsk. The latter is one of a few Russian nuclear cities which remain closed, since the activity carried there is kept in secret. In addition, since 2019, BAFA has been issuing export licences for the supply of enriched uranium from the fuel element factories of ANF in Lingen and Urenco in Gronau to Russia. The recipient companies Mashinostroitelny Zavod PJSC and TENEX are Rosatom subsidiaries, as well.
“With this material, the danger of military use is even greater,” she writes in her letter to Peter Altmaier.
Germany’s “inconsistent” export control policy disregards the EU law, the politician says. The export of uranium to Russia requires strong verification that there is no risk of military use or transfer to military end users. A legal opinion commissioned last year by Germany’s Green party says about the illegality of the export.
Kotting-Uhl was denied access to the BAFA’s related documents. The politician concludes her letter with an appeal to Altmaier to oppose the establishment of the “joint venture” with Russian participation and to stop uranium exports to Russia.
BAFA and the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology did not share her criticism. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs said that the Ministry does not comment on business transactions.
With regard to exports of dual-use goods to Russia, the Federal Government applies a “restrictive export control policy” and examines “end-user-related in individual cases whether there are concrete indications that there is a risk of a military end-use”, the spokeswoman stressed.
The BAFA holds the same opinion, saying that it did not share concern on the military use of uranium being exported to Russia.
The critics’ position towards the deal of Russian TVEL and French ANF is reinforced by the reluctance of these companies to share information regarding the purpose of their deal. More detailed information about the companies’ plans cannot be obtained. When asked, ANF’s parent company Framatome only stated that it does not comment on ongoing business projects. The company did not answer whether there was a possibility of exporting uranium to Russia that could be used for military purposes.
In the meantime, on the 11th of March, the Federal Cartel Office in Germany had already approved the deal.