Archive for the ‘NRC’ Category

Legislation Passed for Historic Nuclear Cooperation between US and India

Saturday, December 9th, 2006 by Jill Kincaid

After three decades of attempting to restrain India’s nuclear activities, historic legislation has been passed, and will probably be signed by the President, creating a dramatic initiative on US/India nuclear cooperation. One of the last orders of business of the 109th Congress was to pass the act allowing nuclear cooperation in a civil capacity with India. The final bill, named the “Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006” was passed on December 9, 2006.

The bill will allow the President to waive provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 assuming that certain conditions are met by India. These conditions include the negotiation and implementation of a nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries.

The implications could be great for US and other companies who are already in discussions with Indian officials in preparations for the new Indian market. The Indian government anticipates boosting its civil nuclear capacity in the range of 50,000 watts in the coming 20-25 years. This will create opportunities for companies in the nuclear power market worldwide.

The legislation that has hindered India/US cooperation in the past 30 years stemmed from India’s detonation of a nuclear test in 1974 and India’s claims that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was discriminatory. After a multitude of meetings between US and Indian officials over the past several years, the US decided that the time was right to relax the regulations if India agreed to a number of conditions. These include the agreement to not detonate another nuclear weapon. Another “deal-breaker” would be if the US determines that the new cooperation is benefiting India ’s weapons program.

If India meets the conditions set forth by the United States, controls on nuclear-related exports to India will, in all likelihood, be relaxed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy could allow transfers of nuclear reactors, technology, and related equipment to India. The conditions are complex and may take some time to complete so it may be quite a while until nuclear cooperation can actually begin.

Government Gives, Grabs Graphite

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005 by Scott Gearity

Following the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s determination that nuclear grade graphite for non-nuclear end use is not an “item or substance” that is “especially relevant from the standpoint of export control because of [its] significance for nuclear explosive purposes”, the NRC and BIS simultaneously promulgated new regulations on July 21 moving jurisdiction over all nuclear grade graphite for non-nuclear end use from NRC to BIS. (See the NRC rule and its BIS counterpart.) Apparently the wheels of science have turned rather rapidly when it comes to graphite production since NRC first implemented regulations restricting the mineral’s export. According to NRC, technology improvements mean that most of today’s US graphite is now “nuclear grade”.

(Historical tangent: Graphite can be used as a neutron moderator in nuclear reactors, enabling chain reactions. Nazi Germany’s quest for a nuclear weapon failed largely due to their use of impure, boron-laden graphite in their reactors.)

Now NRC will only retain jurisdiction over nuclear grade graphite for nuclear end use. That means graphite with both a purity level of less than five parts per million boron equivalent and planned for use in a nuclear reactor. The BIS regulation updates ECCN 0C005 to mirror the NRC’s slimmed-down jurisdiction and also creates a new ECCN 1C298 for graphite with a purity of less than five parts per million boron equivalent and a density greater than 1.5 grams per cubic centimeter. Graphite classified under 1C298 will carry a license requirement to countries listed in NP Column 2 on the Commerce Country Chart (pdf).

Wassenaar Arrangement Implementation Roundup

Saturday, July 30th, 2005 by Scott Gearity

On July 15, the Bureau of Industry and Security published a massive final rule implementing the decisions made at the December 2004 plenary meeting of the Wassenaar Arrangement. Other Wassenaar participants have already taken similar steps to codify the group’s changes at a national level or will do so in the near future. In addition to the Wassenaar-conforming revisions to Commerce Control List Categories 1-9, BIS also took this opportunity to add or expand some unilateral US controls.