Date: March 27, 2023
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden have pledged to coordinate efforts to develop secure and reliable nuclear fuel supply chains in North America and build partnerships to help ensure access to low-enriched uranium. They will launch a one-year task force to accelerate cooperation on critical clean energy opportunities and supply chains, and Canada is to join a US-led programme to support small modular reactors (SMR).
The leaders issued a joint statement during Biden’s visit to Canada on 24 March in which they restated their commitment to accelerating the North American clean energy transition as well as setting out how Canada will join the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) programme, providing funding and in-kind support.
“Our enduring partnership is based on a mutual commitment to shared security, shared prosperity, and shared democratic values, including the importance of fighting climate change and an abiding respect for human rights and the rule of law. As the closest of friends and allies, we remain committed to making life better for people on both sides of our shared border and to building a more free, equitable, secure, and prosperous world,” they said.
“Canada and the United States will also coordinate efforts to develop secure and reliable North American nuclear fuel supply chains and build broader partnerships with longstanding allies and partners, both of which will help to ensure access to low enriched uranium, including High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium,” the statement added.
The FIRST programme was launched by the US Department of State in 2021 to provide capacity-building support to partner countries developing nuclear energy programmes to support clean energy goals, under the highest international standards for nuclear safety, security, waste management and non-proliferation. The programme uses the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Milestones Approach as a baseline for infrastructure development and nuclear security support. The Department of State committed an initial USD5.3 million of investment to support FIRST projects, and the programme has so far seen the USA engage with countries including Armenia, Ghana, the Philippines and Romania.
The one-year Energy Transformation Task Force, chaired by the US Special Presidential Coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, will work across the spectrum of the clean economy to accelerate cooperation on critical clean energy opportunities and supply chains, including amongst other things critical minerals and rare earths, grid integration and resilience, and advanced and conventional nuclear energy.
“Economic policy, climate policy, and security policy aren’t just connected; they’re one in the same,” Trudeau said in a joint press conference. The Energy Transformation Task Force will accelerate work on clean energy and clean tech, including securing and strengthening electric vehicle and critical mineral supply chains, he said. “Of course, an integrated approach means creating good middle-class jobs for workers on both sides of the border, and it will make our collective economic growth stronger and more resilient.”