The Commerce Department has started an investigation into the impact of uranium imports on US national security, a move that could result in tariffs and add another front to the Trump administration's trade fight.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testifies before a Senate Finance hearing on "Current and Proposed Tariff Actions Administered by the Department of Commerce" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2018.
Ross said the probe would canvass the entire US uranium sector from mining through enrichment and defense and industrial consumption. FCC deals blow to Sinclair-Tribune merger Ex-cyber officials demand to know security measures for 2020 Census It's time to confirm the US Export-Import Bank Board for our economic security MORE announced Wednesday that his agency would investigate whether uranium imports to the United States pose any threat to national security.
In a statement citing idle USA mines and massive layoffs in the us uranium mining sector over the past two years, Ross announced that he had accepted a petition from two USA energy companies to launch the probe.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday it will probe "whether the present quantity and circumstances of uranium ore and product imports into the US threaten to impair the national security".
USA production of uranium necessary for military and electric power has dropped to 5 percent of domestic consumption, from 49 percent, said Ross.
The new probe is the fourth launched by the Trump administration under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, previously a seldom-invoked Cold War-era law.
Canada and Kazakhstan are the main sources of U.S. uranium imports, each accounting for about a quarter of the total, followed by Australia, Russia and Uzbekistan, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.