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Republicans urge Biden to prevent French work with Russian nuclear power company


By Timothy Gardner and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two influential Republican U.S. lawmakers have urged President Joe Biden to prevent a French company from working on civil nuclear power projects with Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom, saying doing otherwise would help fund Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

In a letter seen by Reuters, Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged Biden to not waive sanctions on Russia, saying it would allow French-owned Electricite de France, or EDF (EPA:EDF), to engage in nuclear power projects with Rosatom.

The sanctions, which Biden issued by executive order in 2021 and later amended, address national security threats posed by foreign activities of the Russian Federation.

“This waiver will result in more money in Putin’s coffers to fund his brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and suppression of democracy,” the lawmakers said in the letter, dated May 6. “We urge you to reject this proposal.”

“We believe the only way to influence the administration’s decision is to go public,” a spokesperson for Risch told Reuters.

Biden last month signed into law an aid package with nearly $61 billion in military assistance for Ukraine. He is expected to sign a ban recently passed by Congress on imports of Russian enriched uranium.

The lawmakers said exempting EDF from U.S. sanctions would allow it to purchase a subsidiary of a U.S. company that had been engaged in nuclear power projects with Rosatom in Hungary, Turkey and Egypt, projects that have been suspended for years due to sanctions.

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The lawmakers said over-dependence on Russian energy poses a threat to transatlantic security, and “it is incomprehensible that your administration would consider actively perpetuating this dependence.”

The White House’s national security council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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