USA announces China export policy

12 October 2018

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has established a new policy framework on civil nuclear cooperation with China, following a government policy review led by the US National Security Council. The policy covers exports of technology, equipment and components, and material to China.

Westinghouse-designed AP1000s at Sanmen, China (Image: Westinghouse)

The policy guidance sets out a "clear framework" for the disposition of the DOE's authorisation requests for transfers to China under Part 810 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR part 810), currently on hold because of military diversion and proliferation concerns, the DOE said yesterday.

The DOE said the efforts are necessary "to strike an appropriate balance between the long-term risk to US national security and economic interests, as well as the immediate impact to the US nuclear industrial base".

For exports of technology, there will be a presumption of approval, contingent on end-user checks, for amendments or extensions for existing authorisations for technology transferred before 1 January 2018, with the exception of light water small modular reactors (SMR) and non-light water advanced reactors. New technology transfers for operational safety are also presumed approved, with certain contingencies, as are transfers required to support the sale of commercially available items.

There is a presumption of denial for exports related to light water SMRs, non-light water advanced reactors, new technology transfers after 1 January 2018 and any transfer to China General Nuclear (CGN) and/or its subsidiaries or related entities. Exports to non-CGN intermediaries and end users will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with risks including those to US national and economic security balanced against the economic and strategic benefits the export might provide.

For equipment and components, there is presumed approval for requests for exports to support continued projects such as the construction of AP1000s and "major identical components" similar in type and technology level to those commonly available; and for SMRs and advanced reactors with no technology transfer other than installation and operation. There is a presumption of denial for requests related to "direct competition with the United States" such as the Hualong One reactor, and for any transfer to CGN and its subsidiaries and related companies.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News