In this week’s issue, we detail the opportunities and challenges facing the United States’ and South Korea’s nuclear partnership and make recommendations for next steps. We spotlight Saudi Arabia’s nuclear power ambitions and the potential for the country to turn to China in order to deploy nuclear energy. Finally, we highlight key nuclear technology, security, and geopolitical developments, reports, and analyses.
FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITY: The Partnership for Global Security is currently seeking early career policy analysts interested in the intersection of nuclear energy, climate change, and global security. To apply for the Della Ratta Energy and Global Security fellowship, applications for the fellowship are due by May 1. The job description is listed here. Please send applications to [email protected].
U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Cooperation in a Complex World
U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Suk Yeol Yoon will hold their second bilateral summit on April 26 in Washington, D.C. It celebrates 70 years of partnership. In anticipation of that event, and because of the centrality of nuclear issues to the summit agenda, PGS has published a detailed overview of U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Cooperation in a Complex World, with a focus on bilateral civil nuclear partnership opportunities and challenges and recommendations for future actions. The document is available on the PGS website.
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

The New York Times recently reported on Saudi Arabia’s desire to work with the United States on the development of its nuclear power program. This request for cooperation was previously identified in a Saudi set of conditions offered as the price for normalizing relations with Israel.
U.S.-Saudi negotiations on a nuclear partnership have dragged on for years in part because the Saudi government refuses to agree to conditions that are intended to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons or helping other nations do so. Declining U.S.-Saudi relations caused the kingdom to exclude U.S.-based Westinghouse from its most recent nuclear reactor tender in the Summer of 2022. South Korea’s president has restrained Korean nuclear companies from bidding on the Saudi tender because of nuclear security concerns and because of a partial dependence of the Korean reactor on export-controlled U.S. technology.
In publicizing its interest in American nuclear cooperation, it is unclear if Saudi Arabia is signaling a willingness to moderate its nonproliferation stance to open the door to American and Korean reactors. Or if it is seeking to demonstrate to Washington that its red lines are forcing the kingdom to seek nuclear partnership with China or Russia, an outcome anathema to American officials. China is already working with Saudi Arabia on uranium processing, and the two sides issued a statement last December promising to cooperate on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. China is also Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi announced that the agency is shelving its proposal for a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. According to Grossi, there are signals that new fighting may break out soon near Zaporizhzhia, prompting the IAEA to focus on ensuring the physical protection of Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors. Grossi had previously lobbied for a security zone to be established around the Zaporizhzhia plant, but diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukraine have failed thus far. Elsewhere, Russia and Ukraine have ramped up their military forces in southern Ukraine, with a new round of explosions occurring in the nearby city of Melitopol.
During his recent visit to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the city of Zaporizhzhia. Grossi warned Zelenskyy that the situation at the Zaporizhzhia site isn’t getting any better as relentless fighting in the area keeps the facility at risk of a disaster. Also attending the meeting were other IAEA officials, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, and the head of Energoatom, Pedro Kotin.
Ukraine fears its Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could face a shortage of water to cool the reactors by late summer because Russian forces have let water out a reservoir that supplies the plant. The director general of Ukrhydroenergo, Ihor Syrota, voiced concern about what would happen if water levels fell further at the Kakhovka reservoir, which supplies both the plant and millions of people in southern Ukraine. Energoatom stated last month that the water level at the Kakhovka reservoir had dropped from 16 meters to 13.8 meters.
German officials have criticized plans by French nuclear company Framatome to produce nuclear fuel in a joint venture with Rosatom at a facility in western Germany. Officials in the state of Lower Saxony received a request for the Framatome-owned ANF facility in Lingen to be allowed to produce hexagonal fuel rod arrangements for Russian-designed VVER reactors. Germany stated that the request is now being closely scrutinized by state and federal officials due to Rosatom’s involvement and will consider whether Framatome’s application can be rejected due to security concerns.
Lithuania began a new bid to push the European Union to impose sanctions on Russia’s nuclear energy industry. Lithuania’s proposal offers Hungary specific carve-outs of up to 9 years for the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, as well as opt-outs for France and other countries that currently have nuclear fuel contracts with Rosatom. For Russia’s nuclear sector to be sanctioned, all EU countries have to agree to impose sanctions, and Hungary has already vowed to oppose any curbs on the Russian nuclear energy industry.
Nuclear Collaborations
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. 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. The two sides will launch the one-year Energy Transformation Task Force to accelerate cooperation on critical clean energy opportunities and supply chains, and Canada will join the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japanese company Kyoto Fusioneering Ltd. (KF) to partner on technical services to support the growing international fusion reactor market, with a key focus on testing related to tritium. Under the MoU, CNL will work with KF to identify and co-develop fusion products and services, helping to accelerate the progression of fusion as a source of clean energy. The agreement is the latest in a recent series of fusion-related projects announced by CNL.
Grupa Azoty Police, the West Pomeranian University of Technology, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation signed an agreement to build a nuclear energy research facility based on Ultra Safe’s Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR) technology. Over the next six months, the parties will prepare a comprehensive research program and will jointly develop a plan for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the MMR. The collaboration will ultimately lead to the full-scale use of nuclear energy to power chemical processes and generate steam and hydrogen for Grupa Azoty Police’s plant.
U.S. group Westinghouse and Czech utility CEZ signed an agreement for Westinghouse to supply nuclear fuel for CEZ’s Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant starting in 2024. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, CEZ was looking for a new fuel supplier to replace Russian company TVEL. Last year, Westinghouse signed a nuclear fuel supply agreement with the Czech Republic’s other nuclear power station, Temelin.
Bulgaria’s energy ministry announced that agreements for pre-project studies are set to be signed with Westinghouse relating AP1000 reactors at the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant and with Electricite de France (EDF) for two 1000 megawatt units at Belene. The purpose of the pre-project studies is to look at the options for the projects, including using the existing equipment by integrating it into a modern complete system.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and Synthos Green Energy (SGE) will collaborate to shape a standard design for GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR). The three companies signed a technology collaboration agreement (TCA) to further a standard design, under which the companies will also develop a detailed design for key BWRX-300 power plant components, such as reactor pressure vessels and internals. The three companies will also form a “Design Center Working Group” whose purpose will be ensuring the standard design is deployable in multiple jurisdictions.
The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Kyoto Fusioneering (KF) signed a collaboration agreement to develop fusion-related technologies. The first project under the agreement will be the development of a fusion-grade silicon carbide composition system. KF already has several contracts with UKAEA to provide its expertise and services, most notably being appointed as a member of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) Interim Engineering Delivery Partner consortium.
The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in research and development for remote handling and maintenance of future nuclear fusion power plants. The MoU will see risk-driven research and development prioritization, knowledge-sharing involving welding, the development of electronic components, and skills transfer.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The European Union Parliament reached a deal on scaling up renewable energy this decade, providing a role for nuclear power in one of the last pillars of the bloc’s landmark green plan. The EU Parliament agreed to raise the 2030 renewable target to 42.5% of consumption from 32%. The deal also allows for countries such as France and Sweden to reduce their green hydrogen targets for industries by a fifth by 2030 if they mainly use nuclear power for producing the rest of their hydrogen and stay on track to meet their overall renewable goals.
UK Energy Security Secretary Grant Shaaps published the Powering Up Britain policy paper, documenting 12 measures the United Kingdom’s government will take to scale up affordable green energy and boost the country’s energy security. The paper notably describes nuclear energy as the critical baseload of the country’s future energy system, with the government launching Great British Nuclear (GBN) to drive the delivery of new nuclear projects. GBN aims to increase the share of nuclear power in the UK’s electricity mix to 25% by 2050.
Canada’s House of Commons released the 2023 Federal Budget. The budget introduces a new 15% refundable investment Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit, which is expected to cost $4.7 billion over four years starting in 2024. The budget also included the announcement of a 30% Investment Tax Credit for Clean Technology Manufacturing for investments in new machinery and equipment used to manufacture or process key clean technologies. Notably, nuclear energy projects are eligible for both credits.
Canadian nuclear companies Cameco and Bruce Power extended their exclusive nuclear fuel supply agreement for an additional 10 years through 2040. The new deal extends fuel supply arrangements from 2017 and includes provisions for Cameco to supply 100% of Bruce Power’s uranium, conversion services, and fuel fabrication requirements. The announcement was made shortly after defueling was completed at the second unit to undergo refurbishment at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.
Rolls-Royce SMR Limited’s 470 MWe small modular reactor (SMR) design completed Step 1 of the United Kingdom’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and is progressing to the next phase. The SMR design has now entered Step 2 of the GDA, which is where the detailed technical assessment by the regulators is carried out. Step 2 is expected to last for 16 months.
Indonesia is exploring two sites on which to develop its first nuclear power plants. The first is in West Kalimantan, which was picked due to its low vulnerability to earthquakes, local government support, and electricity demand. The second option is the Bangka-Belitung islands for similar reasons. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Dadan Kusdiana added that the earliest commercial-scale nuclear reactor will likely start operating in 2039.
The Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) has granted the construction permit for the third power unit of the El-Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant. The construction of Egypt’s first nuclear plant is being done by Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, which began in 2022 and is anticipated to take until at least 2030. Last week, Rosatom announced that the first heavy and oversized equipment for the nuclear power plant arrived at the construction site.
The United Kingdom’s Environment Agency granted EDF Energy subsidiary NNB Generation Company three environmental permits for the planned Sizewell C Nuclear Power Plant in Suffolk. The permits allow NNB GenCo to dispose of and discharge radioactive waste, operate standby power supply systems using diesel generators, and discharge returned seawater. Meanwhile, Sizewell C and Associated British Ports (ABP) are developing plans to locate a unique Director Air Capture (DAC) facility at Lowestoft.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and Doosan Enerbility signed a $2.3 billion contract for the supply of the main equipment for units 3 and 4 of the Shin Hanul Nuclear Power Plant. Under the contract, Doosan Enerbility will supply the nuclear reactors, steam generators, and turbine generators for the two APR1400 units. Construction of the two units is due to begin next year.
Belgium’s National Institute of Radioelements medical isotope production facility has been converted to now use low-enriched uranium, thereby ensuring that all major global molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) production facilities worldwide no longer use high-enriched uranium (HEU). Mo-99 is the most widely used radioisotope in nuclear medicine and had been historically produced by irradiating HEU, which was a potential nuclear proliferation risk. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has helped convert similar facilities in South Africa, the Netherlands, and Australia.
According to an annual survey conducted by the Som Institute at Gothenburg University, the share of people who want to keep using nuclear energy in Sweden is at a record high of 56%. This is up from 42% surveyed last year. Sweden’s current government is planning to revive the nation’s nuclear industry after closing several reactors over the last decade.
Unit 3 of the Fangchenggang Nuclear Power Plant, the first of two CGN-designed Hualong One reactors at the site, has entered commercial operation. The pressurized water reactor completed a 168-hour test run on March 25, officially meeting the conditions for commercial operation. The Fangchenggang plant is planned to house six 1,000 MWe reactors.
France’s parliament voted in favor of the government’s nuclear investment plan with a majority of 402 votes against 130 votes in opposition. President Emmanuel Macron’s nuclear renewal plan aims to start construction of six nuclear power plants at a cost of $56 billion. Macron is also looking to regain the initiative with new reforms in the coming weeks after his government barely survived a non-confidence vote over the pension reform plan and subsequent protests.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
U.S. Senators Tom Carper, Shelley Moore Capito, and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced the bipartisan Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023. The ADVANCE Act aims to facilitate the United States’ leadership in advanced nuclear technology globally, develop and deploy new nuclear technologies, preserve the nation’s existing nuclear energy, and strengthen America’s nuclear fuel cycle and supply chain infrastructure. Among the directives of the bill include establishing a joint Commerce Department and Energy Department initiative to facilitate outreach to nations that are seeking to develop advanced nuclear energy programs.
Unit 3 of the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia began supplying its first electricity to the grid on April 1. Operators will now take the unit through a gradual power increase until it reaches its full power output, conducting tests to ensure all systems are operating together. The AP1000 reactor is scheduled to enter commercial operation by May or June of this year, with Vogtle unit 4 projected to enter service in late 2023 or early 2024.
The Department of Energy reported that the Savannah River Site’s (SRS) H Canyon facility recently initiated actions to recycle a small amount of used high-enriched uranium (HEU). The HEU will be downblended into high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which will help to provide fuel for advanced nuclear reactors in the United States. Savannah River National Laboratory had previously completed analyses to show that downblending of HEU from H Canyon’s liquid solutions could meet specifications needed for advanced reactors.
The Illinois State Senate voted to lift a three-decade-old ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state. Senate Bill 76 passed the Senate with a 39-13 bipartisan vote, and now moves over to the State House of Representatives for further consideration. State Senator Sue Rezin stated that ending the moratorium would create jobs, lower utility costs, and provide more reliable clean energy for Illinois residents.
The Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) finalized a high-level waste tank milestones agreement with state and federal regulators that will guide the cleanup of the South Carolina site, agreeing on revisions to the SRS Federal Facility Agreement (FFA). The revision to the FFA outlines the schedule for the waste removal and operational closure of the 16 oldest tanks at SRS. All 43 remaining tanks are slated to be operationally closed by 2037.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it will begin reviewing most of the standard design approval (SDA) application for NuScale Power’s uprated small modular reactor (SMR) technology. According to the NRC, portions of NuScale’s applications discussing steam generator safety performance under certain conditions require more information. NuScale submitted its SDA application in December 2022 for the VOYGR-6 power plant, which would house six 77-MWe SMR modules.
Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin has signed two bills into law that will support ambitions for Virginia to develop small modular reactors (SMR). The first bill creates the Virginia Power Innovation Fund for the research and development of innovative energy technologies, including those pertaining to nuclear power. The second bill creates the Nuclear Education Grant Fund to award competitive grants to higher education providers to establish or expand a nuclear education program. Youngkin currently envisions a commercial SMR providing customers with baseload power within the next 10 years.
Xcel Energy officials said that crews have repaired a leak at the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant in Minnesota, and the plant will resume producing power next week. The company temporarily shut down the plant last week after monitoring equipment detected more radioactive tritium was leaking into local groundwater. Xcel and state officials have said the leak did not pose any threat to public health, safety, or the environment.
Noteworthy Research
The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the IAEA released the Uranium 2022: Resources, Production, and Demand, the 29th edition of the “Red Book”. The report presents data on global uranium exploration, resources, production, and reactor-related requirements for the period of 2019 to 2021, along with projections of nuclear generating capacity and reactor-related requirements up to 2040. The Red Book found that global uranium resources decreased in the reporting period in contrast to slight increases seen in previous editions, and worldwide expenditures on domestic exploration and mine development continued to decrease.
According to a new report to be published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewable deployments worldwide will have to grow to 10,000 gigawatts by 2030 in order to meet the 1.5ºC pathway. Additionally, global energy transition investments must quadruple to $5 trillion to reach climate targets. The preview of the World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023 sets out three priority pillars that must be addressed simultaneously: physical infrastructure, policy and regulator enablers, and a well-skilled workforce. The full report is due out later this year.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report documenting that small modular reactors (SMR) can reuse coal plant electrical equipment and steam-cycle components. Combined with the reuse of transmission and administrative buildings, this could reduce SMR construction costs by 17% to 35%. Nearly one-fourth of the current U.S. coal-fired fleet is scheduled to retire by 2029, and the report states that 80% of evaluated coal plants have the basic characteristics needed to be repowered by an SMR.
The Nuclear Conversation
News items and summaries compiled by:

Patrick Kendall, Program Manager, Partnership for Global Security

Alex de Ramon, Della Ratta Fellow, Partnership for Global Security
For twenty-five years the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) has developed actionable responses to global security challenges by engaging international, private sector, and multidisciplinary expert partners to assess policy needs, identify effective strategies, and drive demonstrable results.