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  1. Rod,
    You cite to the statute to prove your point. Yes, you appear to be correct about the better meaning of “production of any special nuclear material.” Unfortunately, statutes are of very limited value because of the deference (often called “Chevron deference”) that courts give to regulatory bodies. Where regulations that are deemed “legislative regulations” (regulations that are expressly directed to be written by Congress — usually with language such as “The Secretary shall provide regulations . . . “), the regulation has to be clearly contrary to the statute in order for the regulation to be struck down. I know that you are generally averse to legal action. In this sort of situation, that aversion is very well grounded.

    1. @Rick Armknecht

      Thank you for weighing in. I was hoping to attract some of the lawyers in the group to share their wisdom.

      I think there really is a case here in which the executive branch has far overstepped the bounds intended by Congress and established as precedent for the first 20 years after passage of the Atomic Energy Act.

      My sense is that there is more than a minor probability that the interpretation that the export control regime that is reasonable for direct or indirect engagement in the production of special nuclear material outside of the United States is being misapplied by extending the same regime to direct or indirect engagement in the peaceful utilization of special nuclear materials outside the United States.

      This is not a one man effort, but I think it is something worth organizing and developing. You in?

      1. Sure, Rod, I’m game (“Audacio Ad Inexplorata”, after all), but “Chevron deference” is really a favorite for federal judges. It gives them an “out” from having to do the job of deciding cases. I had one case before the 10th Circuit (“Toomer v. City Cab”) where my whole argument rested on a challenge to an ADA regulation. Under the regulations, the statutory requirements for wheelchair accessibility for “new” vans in cab fleets did not include vans that had been newly ACQUIRED by the cab company. Thus, used vehicles (e.g., a 1 month old vehicle) would not fit the regulatory definition of “new.” It was CLEAR that the basis for “Chevron deference” (the superior expertise of the administrative body) did not apply to the drafting of that regulatory definition. Result: my argument was ignored. It was subsumed in “footnote 1” of the opinion.
        The Supreme Court has discretion as to which cases it will review. The Courts of Appeal are legally obligated to hear all appeals — but that obligation is routinely ignored. Still, even if a lawsuit isn’t successful in and of itself, it can serve a valuable purpose in moving a position forward.

        1. Rod, What this sounds like is that the exec branch would have the latitude to interpret the law in a manner that would allow export of equipment w/o the hassles or to enforce the hassles – as their whims dictate. Recently we have seen a relaxation of the rules regarding IP for export to countries that have signed the 123. I hope we see this trend continue and we see a similar relaxation for equipment.

          1. @Lars Jorgensen

            Exactly. Whim of individuals vice “equal protection” and “rule of law.” Terrible way to treat such a valuable opportunity.

            Ripe for corruption and/or retaliation.

          2. Rod,

            I often tell people that I wish I had made engineering a career instead of law because I would prefer that my success depend on the laws of physics instead of the whims of judges.

  2. Rod, consider the case of ThorCon. ThorCon plans to license the manufacture of Molten Salt Reactors by foreign ship yard. I am sure that they do not plan to jump through government hoops on their way to market. They have no interest in licensing American manufacture of their reactor. As you are aware they have signed an agreement with a potential customer. ThorCon is not going to build the Indonesian reactors, that is what the ship yard will do. I would suspect that ThorCon has looked at the legal issues carefully.

    Terrestrial Energy of Canada will be building molten Salt Reactors within ten years. they can either build them in Canada and export them, or Terrestrial can Licence their manufacture in countries like India and China. If the United States cannot export Molten Salt Reactors, then the Canadian Nuclear Industry will simply take off, as there nuclear exports strart eating the coal industry’s lunch every where in the world but here.

    1. While nuclear is inherently superior to coal, I actually see a future for coal THROUGH nuclear.
      (1) Coal is mined & processed at the mine site with nuclear-powered low temperature carbonization.
      (2) The lighter fractions of the coal are employed to make plastics & other chemicals.
      (3) The char is sent overseas to nations that do not want (or should not have) nuclear reactors, but it is not burned.
      (4) Instead, the char is used in a carbon fuel cell — with much higher efficiency than combustion.
      (5) The very pure CO2 generated by the fuel cell is used to make methanol for transportation fuel (either as MeOH or processed into Dimethyl Ether, etc.)

      This road map would certainly make nuclear more palatable in coal-producing areas.

      1. @Rick Armknecht

        Concur. Coal is a valuable substance, especially when it is processed with the help of nuclear energy. The best locations for the processing plants would be near the coal deposits.

        Can you imagine the beneficial economic opportunities for places where the historically available opportunities were solely in digging coal out of the ground for shipment to distant power plants?

    2. Exports of equipment like pumps are still regulated and this may very well force us to choose non-US manufacturers 🙁 even when the US manufacturer has the better product and the better price. We’ll see how many of the US vendors want to go through the process to get a license to export.