The Department of Energy’s 10 CFR §810 regulations apply to US persons “who engage directly or indirectly in the production of special nuclear material outside the United States.” The Office of Export Control Policy and Cooperation in DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is responsible. “Special nuclear material” means plutonium, uranium-233, or uranium enriched above 0.711 percent-by-weight in the isotope uranium-235.

The Department of Energy interprets this broadly, to cover most activities involving the transfer of nuclear reactor technology outside the United States. Specific activities named in the regulation are “…fluoride or nitrate conversion; isotope separation (enrichment); the chemical, physical or metallurgical processing, fabricating, or alloying of special nuclear material; production of heavy water, zirconium (hafnium-free or low-hafnium), nuclear-grade graphite, or reactor-grade beryllium; production of reactor-grade uranium dioxide from yellowcake; and certain uranium milling activities.”  

Compared to the EAR and the ITAR, the regulations at 10 CFR §810 are brief.  They identify activities that require the NNSA’s specific authorization as well as “generally authorized” activities that don’t require prior approval by NNSA. Because relying on general authorization can be uncertain, they provide a “Request for Interpretation” mechanism.  

Specific authorization is required to:

  • Furnish information or assistance to countries listed in §810.8(a) – generally, those without sufficient treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards
  • Furnish information or assistance countries not listed in §810.8(a) involving:
    • Production reactors
    • Accelerator-driver subcritical assembly systems
    • Enrichment
    • Reprocessing
    • Fabrication of nuclear fuel containing plutonium
    • Production of heavy water
    • Research reactor over 5 megawatts

Some of the activities that are generally authorized are:

  • Furnishing public information 
  • Participation in open meetings sponsored by educational, scientific or technical organizations
  • Furnishing information or assistance to prevent or correct a radiological emergency (if you notify DoE in advance and they don’t object)
  • Furnishing information or assistance to improve the operational safety or reduce danger to the off-site population of an existing civilian reactor in countries listed in §810.8(a)
  • Furnishing information or assistance to countries not listed in §810.8(a) if it does not involve the technologies listed as requiring specific authorization

Note: an update to the 10 CFR Part 810 regulations is in progress, and may take effect early in 2015. The Department of Energy issued a Notice of proposed Rule Making on September 7, 2011, and in response to public comments issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule Making on August 2, 2013.