In this week’s issue, we discuss the progress made towards supporting the climate-nuclear-security nexus agenda, and key issues that need to be addressed next year in order to sustain the positive momentum. We also spotlight a recent executive order from the Biden administration, committing the federal government to procure 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030. Finally, we highlight a new journal article discussing the opportunities and challenges for safe small modular reactor development in Southeast Asia for addressing decarbonization and energy resilience.
As our last newsletter of the year, we wish all of our friends and followers a happy holiday season, and we look forward to engaging with you in 2021!
The Nuclear-Climate-Security Nexus: Five Key Issues for 2022
This year the climate-nuclear-security nexus entered the mainstream. Now the stakes for success are more serious. There are five major issues that need to be addressed in 2022 to continue this year’s progress.
The most high-profile issue is sustaining the rising acceptance of nuclear energy as a major contributor to the global quest for zero-carbon energy.
In 2021, a number of nations made positive statements about the need for nuclear power as both a foundation of stable zero-carbon energy production and a complement to renewable energy, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Russia, China, India, and Brazil.
The president of the European Union all but asserted that nuclear energy would be part of the EU clean energy taxonomy. Although that bruising battle for inclusion continues, the Netherlands is the latest nation to re-commit to nuclear energy as part of its climate objectives. And they join countries in Central and Eastern Europe that are exploring the expansion of nuclear energy to replace fossil fuels.
Perhaps most surprising was the reversal of position by three nations, Japan, South Korea, and France, on the value of nuclear energy in meeting their clean energy commitments by mid-century.
This shift has political, economic, and energy roots. Japan has a new prime minister and France and South Korea have major upcoming elections. But the swing was helped along by the demonstration of renewable energy intermittency in Britain, the gouging gas prices delivered from Russia, and the intensifying technology competition with China.
The second issue for 2022 is making more progress on the development, licensing, and preparation for demonstration of the next generation of small reactors. The U.S. has committed significant resources to the development and demonstration of both small modular and advanced reactors. But other governments are also aggressively pursuing these technologies, including Canada, France, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China.
There are two key questions for the democratic nations on this list.
First is whether they will sustain this technology development effort through to successful completion or wilt in the face of inevitable setbacks, complications, and criticism. Second is whether they will find a way to cooperate or compete with one another.

The answer will impact the third key issue for next year - nuclear export and geopolitics.
There is a pressing need to devise a way to overcome the significant advantages that Russia and China have in the next-gen nuclear market. Russia is already dominating the large reactor export business, although opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe are now skewing toward the U.S. And it already has deployed a small floating reactor, has deep state-backed financing, and has signed nuclear agreements with dozens of nations, preparing the way for its technology.
China has made major inroads in the developing economy world through the Belt and Road Initiative, which is financing many energy and infrastructure projects. While it has been stymied in exporting large reactors to the U.K. and Eastern Europe, the BRI relationships can provide a conveyor belt for its small reactor exports.
The U.S. and its democratic allies are not yet doing enough to counter Russia and China by cultivating the nations that are most interested in next-gen nuclear power. There is no clear strategy for securing commitments from key export market nations. And there’s not enough money or creative thinking about how to build nuclear energy support capabilities in these nations that are connected to democratic nation technologies and standards.
The control of the export market will impact the fourth major issue for 2022 - effectively evolving nuclear nonproliferation and security requirements for next-gen reactors. Historically, the nations that dominate the market write the rules.
Adapting safeguards to reactors that are fueled online rather than through traditional methods is a serious issue that needs a high-standards response. The leading fuel cycles are emerging, and the pace of safeguards adaptation needs to be quickened.
Because these reactors will be smaller and potentially remotely deployed they could face different security vulnerabilities. Dangerous global neighborhoods with active terrorist organizations are a particular concern. The security of these reactors is paramount with new approaches required.
Finally, there’s finance. The recent decision to take NuScale public through a special purpose acquisition company opens the opportunity for increased private sector investment. This, potentially, is an important step forward for emerging nuclear companies, which have been very dependent on government financing, smaller scale private investment, or in the case of NuScale, major investment from a parent corporation. The development of this SPAC deal will be watched. If shareholders approve it that could catapult next-gen nuclear into the investment mainstream, unlocking new finance streams.
This year was pivotal for the nuclear-climate-security nexus. It has emerged as an important intersection of critical global challenges. But complacency in the face of this year’s success is not an option. 
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security 

President Biden has signed an executive order (EO) that pledges to reduce emissions across the federal government and invest in American clean energy initiatives and manufacturing, by committing the federal government to procure 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030. The EO will help tackle the climate crisis in a way that creates well-paying jobs, grows industries, and makes the U.S. more economically competitive. Several non-governmental organizations, including the Breakthrough Institute and the Clean Air Task Force, have issued statements addressing the EO and its inclusion of nuclear energy. 
Nuclear Collaborations
Representatives from Russia and Nicaragua have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The MoU sets the foundation for the development of nuclear infrastructure in Nicaragua and its use in industry, agriculture, and medicine.
Rosatom and Serbia’s government have signed a framework agreement detailing plans to build a technology center in Serbia, including a cyclotron for medical isotope production. The center will take about three years to complete, with work set to begin in 2022.
Rosatom and Framatome have expanded their preexisting (MoU) by signing a new strategic cooperation agreement. The deal focuses on developing fuel fabrication and instrumentation and control technologies.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and U.S. utility cooperative Utilities Service Alliance (USA) have signed an agreement to collaborate on enhancing nuclear power plant (NPP) safety and performance. The agreement allows for KHNP and USA to exchange safety practices and expertise, a step in advancing U.S.-Korean civil nuclear cooperation.  
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The UK has decided to build a high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) for the country’s Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration Programme. The research program is designed to “prove the potential” of advanced reactors and have an operational demonstration unit by the early 2030s.
The Netherlands’ new coalition government has announced its support for new nuclear deployment in the nation. In its policy planning from 2021 to 2025 document, the government would provide approximately EUR500 million in financial support to build new NPPs.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has selected the BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) for the new Darlington nuclear site. OPG will work with GE Hitachi on the engineering, design, planning, preparing licensing and permitting materials, and site preparation activities. Set to be completed by 2028, this will be Canada’s first commercial, grid-scale SMR. 
The first nuclear heating project in Southeast China has begun operation. In its first phase, it will provide winter heating for 464,000 square meters of residential property. When fully operational, the project is projected to save 196 million kWh of electricity or 24,600 tons of coal a year.
China National Nuclear Corp’s (CNNC) Unit 6 of the Fuqing NPP has reached criticality for the first time. Unit 6 is the nation’s second Hualong One reactor to reach this milestone, with the first unit entering commercial operation in January.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $2 trillion Reconciliation Bill that would overhaul U.S. healthcare, education, climate, immigration, and tax laws. Now headed to the Senate, the package proposes extensive nuclear fission and fusion-related provisions.
U.S. Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Elaine Luria (D-VA) have introduced the Accelerating Nuclear Innovation through Fee Reform Act which would exclude the current NRC application review costs for advanced nuclear companies.
Kairos Power has submitted a construction permit application (CPA) to The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its Hermes non-power demonstration reactor. Kairos Power has proposed to build the 50-MWth advanced demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park Heritage Center in Oak Ridge. 
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
In a new report entitled "How the United States Can Use AUKUS to Strengthen Nuclear Nonproliferation," experts from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discuss the AUKUS security pact and the new nonproliferation precedent that it will set, prompting other nations to potentially pursue nuclear weapons. The report proposes steps that allied nations could help to reduce this nonproliferation risk.

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team has completed an 18 day operational safety review at France’s Belleville nuclear power plant (NPP). The mission determined that by introducing additional methods to prepare for accident management and using innovative approaches in training, the plant demonstrated a commitment to safety.
The NRC has approved Westinghouse Electric Company’s fuel energy transport code, PARAGON2, which is a key component for the company’s High Energy Fuel Initiative. High Energy Fuel Initiative provides customers with technologies and hardware utility to optimize their fuel capabilities.
The IAEA has completed an 8 day long Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) in Uganda. The INIR team reviewed Uganda’s infrastructure development for a nuclear power program and concluded that the country is committed to developing the required infrastructure for nuclear power in a coordinated approach with all stakeholders. 
Noteworthy Research
In a new journal article entitled “Accelerating safe small modular reactor development in Southeast Asia,” experts from a wide range of backgrounds discuss opportunities and challenges for SMRs in Southeast Asia for addressing decarbonization and energy resilience. The authors also present recommendations for utilities and policymakers to ensure the safe development of SMRs in the region.
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has published a report that investigates the changing needs of energy markets and the potential role that advancing nuclear technologies will play in low-carbon energy sources.
The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) has published Occasional Paper 2107. Eva M. Lisowski’s research on missile-struck reactors in the Middle East analyzes nuclear facilities’ vulnerabilities in regards to potential drone or missile attacks. 
The Nuclear Conversation
ABC News, December 14
New York Times, December 13
Forbes, December 12
War on the Rocks, December 12
Nuclear Newswire, December 10
World Nuclear News, December 9
Inside Climate News, December 8
Canadian Nuclear Association, December 6
CT Examiner, December 7
Gold & Silver Investing Channel, December 6
VT Digger, December 6
Forbes, December 6
The Hill Times, December 6,
Yahoo Finance, December 4
NPR, December 4
The Diplomat, December 3
Euractiv, December 3
Washington examiner, December 3
Neutron Bytes, December 3
Roll Call, December 3
Seapower Magazine, December 3
Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, November 29
For more than two decades, 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.
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