Uranium ore from Uzbekistan to be shipped via Riga port this year; Security Service points to possible violations of EU sanctions

  • 2024-05-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Uranium ore from Uzbekistan is to be shipped to France via Riga Port this year, however, the State Security Service points to a possible risk violating the European Union sanctions as the uranium is to be transported through Russian territory, TV3 reported last night.

According to TV3, Russia is one of the largest suppliers of nuclear fuel and raw materials to both Europe and the United States, but last week the United States took the first step in imposing sanctions on the Russian nuclear industry by banning imports of enriched uranium. Europe is considering following suit. This means that the European nuclear industry must seek new suppliers of raw materials in order to reduce its dependence on Russia. Latvian authorities have been informed about a plan to transport Uzbek uranium ore to France via Latvia.

The companies involved still have to obtain permits from the security and environmental services, but the fact that the uranium is to be transported through Russian territory is an insurmountable risk, said TV3.

Dace Satrovska, head of the Radiation Safety Center of the State Environmental Service, explains that such shipments are regulated by international rules. Uranium ore concentrate must be transported in special sealed drums placed in a container. About 30 such containers are to be shipped via Latvia about once a month.

LDz Cargo, which is supposed to transport uranium ore by rail, has not yet applied for a license. In the meantime, a license has already been received by Rigas Universalais Terminalis, which will transport it by ship. CMA CGM Latvia, a subsidiary of the French shipping company in Latvia, has also applied for a license. The entire uranium ore transit chain is organized by forwarder Railway Logistics Service.

Freeport of Riga CEO Ansis Zeltins told TV3 that the port had been informed about the process.

According to TV3, the uranium will come from Uzbek state company Navoiyuran and shipped to France. French nuclear energy company Orano announced last year a multi-million investment in uranium mining in Uzbekistan, but the company has not confirmed whether the proposed uranium ore concentrate shipments are meant for Orano.

The State Security Service believes that all shipments via Russia present a high risk of a violation of the sanctions. However, the service also emphasizes that there is currently no ban on imports of uranium ore from Russia into Europe. The only exceptions are raw materials from Ukraine's occupied territories of Sevastopol, Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

According to the Security Service, in the current circumstances any transactions with C.I.S. countries should be carefully assessed to ensure that they are not used as a cover to circumvent sanctions. At the same time, investigation of such transactions and shipments is complicated by the fact that they involve countries which are not bound by the EU sanctions.