Interview With Jim Cornell Of NuCore Energy, LLC

In our recent podcast, we interviewed Jim Cornell, CEO and President of NuCore Energy, LLC, a Delaware company that advises businesses operating across the commercial nuclear fuels market. Jim has 22 years of experience in the nuclear fuels market and was the former CEO of Nukem, Inc., one of the largest suppliers of nuclear fuel in the world. While at Nukem, Jim served as one of the principal negotiators of the historic US-Russia Megatons to Megawatts agreement and negotiated long-term uranium marketing arrangements with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

In addition, he developed long-term teaming arrangements with major industry participants including General Electric, Westinghouse, Cameco, Areva, and Babcock and Wilcox.

You can listen to the full interview here:

In this interview, Jim discusses:
  • The balance between Russian and US nuclear non-proliferation and why Russia is choosing to dismantle its warheads for the uranium contained therein and the US is not
  • The relative cost advantages and disadvantages of downgrading the warheads versus mining a new supply of uranium
  • The percentage of the overall uranium market that the Russia-US HEU deal represents
  • Russia's ability to meet increased global uranium demand
  • The Russian incentive to sell natural gas and cling to nuclear energy
  • How nuclear power as an energy source compares to reusable energy sources such as wind, wave, and solar
  • Fukushima and the relative safety of nuclear energy


Uranium Investing News: Can you tell us what it was like being part of the negotiations with the Russians on the Megatons to Megawatts agreement?

Jim Cornell: Well essentially, I put the teaming agreement together. It was Cameco and Areva in which we participated as a collective leader to purchase all of the feed material that was derived from the HEU Contract and a separate agreement was entered into with USEC, the US Enrichment Corporation to acquire the enrichment services that were derived from the HEU. And the unique feature of this transaction was that it was government to government agreement but it was actually carried out by the private sector and at that time the US government was unwilling to commit its own resources in support of this transaction and so had asked the private industry to do that. And that's how this whole deal came about.

It's extremely unique, one of the largest, the most significant nonproliferation transactions in history without question. It was the conversion of approximately 25,000 Russian nuclear warheads into 500 tons of high-enriched uranium which in turn was blended down into lower-enriched uranium that could be burned in reactors, most of which was burned in US reactors surprisingly. Most people were not aware of that fact that Russian HEU material was being used to produce a significant amount of electricity in United States over the last ten years.