(Montel) France’s energy ministry on Monday denied the operation of its nuclear power plants depended on Russia after a Greenpeace report said France had tripled imports of Russian enriched uranium last year.
France resorted only “to a very modest extent to natural uranium enrichment services in Russia, as well as conversion and re-enrichment services for reprocessed uranium to improve cycle efficiency”, the office of energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Montel.
The country “could totally do without it as this last activity can be entirely substituted by natural uranium”, it added.
In Greenpeace’s report on the links between the French nuclear industry and Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom, it said France was “bound hand and foot” to Russia.
Rosatom was controlling a large part of natural uranium imports from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which last year represented 43% of the natural uranium France imported, it said.
The firm “currently has the only reprocessed uranium enrichment plant in the world”, Greenpeace said, and nearly all the transits of nuclear materials across the Russian border required a permit issued by the company.
Contract termination demand
The environmental group had asked the French government to demand the termination of EDF, Orano and Framatome contracts with Rosatom’s subsidiary Tenex, and to stop opposing European sanctions against the Russian group.
Any sanctions “must impact” the economy of the targeted country, the ministry responded.
“Sanctions on the nuclear sector would generate a modest impact on Russia, much weaker than sanctions on gas, for example, which are not considered at this time,” the office said.
“Conversely, the termination of the last remaining contracts relating to the reprocessing of fuels would generate a more advantageous compensation for Russia than their continuation at the minimum,” it said.