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Manchin, Barrasso, Cardin, Capito, Booker, Cramer, Coons, Risch and Murkowski Urge U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to Eliminate Prohibition on Supporting Civil Nuclear Energy Projects

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, ENR Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso, Ben Cardin (D-MD), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jim Risch (R-ID) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sent a letter to Scott Nathan, Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), urging DFC to begin financing nuclear energy projects and support the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology.

The Senators said in part, “Bipartisan support for advanced nuclear is based not only on its promise to reduce emissions and potential to deliver global clean energy at scale to support economic development but also on the understanding that U.S. global leadership in this field is vital to our core national security interests. International demand for U.S. advanced nuclear technology has only intensified in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s severe energy crisis. Numerous countries, including some with 123 Agreements for peaceful cooperation firmly in place, are interested in partnering with the U.S. on advanced nuclear projects that could qualify for DFC support. Exporting new and advanced nuclear technologies like small modular and micro-reactors would support our allies’ growing energy security needs and allow DFC to meet its mandate to facilitate growth in lower-income countries. Further, prioritizing and deploying U.S. nuclear technologies complements our broader foreign policy objectives to counter Russian and Chinese efforts to use civil nuclear exports for their own political and economic ends.”

The full letter is available below or here.

Dear Mr. Nathan:

In 2019, a bipartisan group of Senators urged the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to eliminate its “categorical prohibition” against supporting civil nuclear energy projects.

We were pleased that in 2020, the DFC announced the modernization of its nuclear energy policy. The announcement officially lifted the agency’s prohibition on financing nuclear energy projects, enabling it to support civil nuclear projects according to the United States’ broader commercial, development, environmental, energy, geopolitical, and national security interests. Given the current war between Russia and Ukraine, and the threat that conflict poses to the global nuclear fuel supply, we urge the DFC to begin financing nuclear energy projects. 

The DFC is capable of playing a key role in supporting the continued development and future deployment of U.S. advanced nuclear technology abroad. Advanced nuclear energy technologies have received clear bipartisan congressional support, including through the passage of the Energy Act of 2020. The passage of recent legislation has directed billions of dollars to advanced nuclear demonstration projects that are scheduled to be built in the U.S. and commence operation by the end of the decade.

Bipartisan support for advanced nuclear is based not only on its promise to reduce emissions and potential to deliver global clean energy at scale to support economic development but also on the understanding that U.S. global leadership in this field is vital to our core national security interests. International demand for U.S. advanced nuclear technology has only intensified in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s severe energy crisis. Numerous countries, including some with 123 Agreements for peaceful cooperation firmly in place, are interested in partnering with the U.S. on advanced nuclear projects that could qualify for DFC support. Exporting new and advanced nuclear technologies like small modular and micro-reactors would support our allies’ growing energy security needs and allow DFC to meet its mandate to facilitate growth in lower-income countries. Further, prioritizing and deploying U.S. nuclear technologies complements our broader foreign policy objectives to counter Russian and Chinese efforts to use civil nuclear exports for their own political and economic ends. 

Russian and Chinese nuclear export bids are backed by state financing and government-to-government concessions. Thus, the DFC’s involvement in U.S. nuclear export projects is crucial to the viability and competitiveness of U.S. nuclear technologies, to support long-term diplomatic partnerships, and to our continuing stewardship over the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation. Given the greater national priorities at stake, we urge the DFC to pursue opportunities to implement this critical authority by financing nuclear projects and seeking additional opportunities to attract new nuclear energy applicants.

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