In this week’s issue, we celebrate the elevation of the Global Nexus Agenda into the global mainstream. The exploration of the intersection of nuclear energy, climate change, and global security began as an experimental joint project between PGS and NEI under the Global Nexus Initiative. It now has evolved into an international priority. We spotlight an Atlantic Council report on the potential of nuclear power to contribute to the United States’ and Japan’s clean energy plans. Finally, we highlight key nuclear technology, security, and geopolitical developments, reports, and analyses.
The Global Nexus Has Gone Mainstream
Seven years ago, the Partnership for Global Security and the Nuclear Energy Institute launched the Global Nexus Initiative as a first-of-its kind experiment in whether non-traditional partners could effectively collaborate at the intersection of nuclear energy, climate change, and global security. It gathered numerous international experts from diverse disciplines to work through these issues.
Last month at COP 27 in Egypt, an event that gathered more than 100 Heads of State and Governments and had over 35,000 participants, the Global Nexus Agenda was squarely at the center of the international mainstream.
A leading manifestation of the rising role of nuclear energy as a climate response was the first ever nuclear-related pavilion at a COP, the IAEA’s #Atoms4Climate venue. The pavilion was host to over 40 events on the intersection of nuclear technology and carbon reduction.
At its launching, the IAEA’s Director General stated that it is “a reflection of how things are changing…[and that] Nuclear is already part of the solution, and nuclear will continue to be on this path.”
Just a few years ago, the IAEA DG made the first Agency speech at a COP in Madrid, despite being cautioned against it because of prejudices against the role of nuclear power in responding to climate change.
Now circumstances have changed. The nuclear energy community had its largest presence ever at COP 27 and additional nuclear companies joined the U.N.’s 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Compact. The signatories now include NuScale, TerraPower, Terrestrial Energy, Westinghouse, Nuclearelectrica, Constellation Energy Corporation, Energy Harbor, Xcel Energy, and NEI.
The U.S. government at COP 27 also was active in supporting nuclear energy as a climate response, with the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate announcing an SMR demonstration in Ukraine and advances in nuclear power development in Romania.
The U.S. Energy Secretary stated that, “People understand atoms now as being a really important piece of the clean energy future.”
However, not only has nuclear power been accepted as a climate response it has moved beyond that zero-carbon value and is being embraced as a pathway toward energy security and away from fossil fuel dependence on Russia and unstable suppliers.
A high-profile manifestation of this is the U.K. government’s decision to take an $840 million stake in the construction of the new Sizewell C nuclear plant. That deal paid off China General Nuclear and eliminated it as a 20% partner in the plant’s financing.
The decision is part of Britain’s move away from China as a sensitive technology partner, with the Prime Minister noting that the “golden era” of relations with China was over and had been “naïve.” He further noted that China was moving toward even greater authoritarianism and therefore “poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests.”
Outside of the developed world, there are significant clean energy needs. As the Breakthrough Institute has noted, sub-Saharan Africa uses the same amount of electricity as Spain, but has 18 times its population. Most African countries are highly dependent on fossil fuels or hydro power that is being impacted by climate change.
They, and many other developing nations, suffer from significant energy poverty. There is great possibility for nuclear energy in Africa, with Ghana a key target for SMR deployment.
Of course, the competition from Russia and China for that developing economy market continues.
China is already well ahead of all western nations in cultivating the developing world through the Belt and Road Initiative. And despite its raging conflict in Ukraine and the wanton destruction of energy infrastructure as a weapon of war, just last week Russia signed about 50 agreements on nuclear energy primarily with African entities.
There now is significant government and private sector financing pouring into the future of nuclear energy. This means that the U.S. and its allies need to sharpen their outdated strategy for developing the smaller nuclear markets of the future and updating their models for joint collaboration. It also means that they need to move faster to develop the nuclear security and governance regime that will be required for the deployment of these next-generation technologies.
The elevation of the Nexus Agenda as a global priority is a remarkable development. It underscores the dramatic transformation in the international energy, security, and climate landscape over just a few years. Its value is based on the new reality that the intersection of nuclear energy, climate change, and global security is necessary to meet the seriousness of the moment. Delivering on the promise is essential.
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

The Atlantic Council released a report on the potential for nuclear energy to contribute to the United States’ and Japan’s clean energy plans. In the context of worsening climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both countries are pursuing conventional and advanced nuclear development. However, several obstacles remain such as the length of reactor construction and licensing process, as well as social constraints. These potential challenges will require extensive collaboration between the United States and Japan.
The COP 27 Summit: Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Developments
At this year’s COP 27 Climate Summit, nuclear advocates have been present and active. Supporters took the opportunity to emphasize that nuclear energy has a clear contribution to provide towards the summit’s goals. In addition to the IAEA’s #Atoms4Climate pavilion, the European Nuclear Society hosted a slew of side events while engaging in discussions with nongovernmental organizations, the IAEA, and national delegates.
On the sidelines of the COP 27 Climate Summit, India submitted its long-term low-emission development strategy (LT-LEDS) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The strategy includes a three-fold increase in nuclear energy capacity by 2032 and will also explore the potential deployment of small modular reactors (SMR). All parties to the Paris Agreement on climate change are required to submit their LT-LEDS, yet only 57 of the 194 parties have done so to date.
At the IAEA’s #Atoms4Climate pavilion at COP 27, Romanian nuclear joint venture RoPower Nuclear and Italian steelmaker Donalem signed a memorandum of understanding to explore cooperation and investment opportunities. The agreement relates to RoPower’s ongoing project to build a small modular reactor (SMR) at Doicesti.
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry and the Ukrainian Minister of Energy German Galushchenko have launched an initiative to build a small modular reactor in Ukraine to produce hydrogen and ammonia. The project aims to promote decarbonization of energy sectors through the production of clean hydrogen and demonstrate Ukraine’s leadership in clean energy through advanced technologies. The partners in the pilot program include an international consortium made up by the Argonne National Laboratory, Energoatom, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, and a number of private companies.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
Following an onslaught of Russian missile strikes last week damaging Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, all four of Ukraine’s operating nuclear power plants were disconnected from the national electrical grid. This was the first time in the 40-year history of Ukraine’s nuclear energy industry that all units had been shut down at the same time. All of the power plants are currently being backed up by emergency diesel generators.
According to Ukraine’s military, Russian forces have banned Ukrainian technicians from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant if they refused to sign contracts with Rosatom. There was no immediate comment from Russia regarding the allegation. The power plant has been operated by Ukrainian personnel throughout the war despite being under Russian control.
According to the IAEA, repeated shelling of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant came dangerously close to compromising key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant. Although radiation levels at the site remain normal and there were no reports of casualties from the shelling, the IAEA team at the plant reported damage to a radioactive waste and storage building, an electrical cable to one of the reactors, and condensate storage tanks. IAEA Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi added that it was fortunate a potentially serious nuclear incident did not happen.
Following renewed shelling at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with Rosatom’s director general, Alexey Likhachev, and other Russian officials to discuss the situation and possible safety measures. The men reportedly discussed the role that the IAEA mission has been playing in ensuring safety, as well as the possible establishment of a safety and security protection zone around the power plant.
Russian missiles are reported to have damaged two nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Missiles knocked one plant offline in Khmelnytskyi while a second power plant in Rivne was forced to reduce the energy produced after Russian strikes damaged the power lines that connect it to the national electricity grid. IAEA director Rafael Mariano Grossi commented that these developments showed that all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities are vulnerable as Russia continues its invasion.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has issued a $1.1 million grant for the procurement of essential fire safety equipment at the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine. The funds are intended to finance the urgent procurement of fire safety equipment that is required to re-establish the zone administration’s capacity to prevent, detect, and fight fires across the zone. During their occupation, Russian military forces destroyed and looted much of the specialized firefighting and forestry equipment in the area.
In response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the National Assembly of Bulgaria voted to ensure the licensing for the supply of non-Russian nuclear fuel and for a contract to be concluded by 2024. The motion called on the government to support the country’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency in assessing and licensing alternative fuel suppliers. Thus far, all front-end fuel cycle services in Bulgaria have been provided by the Russian TVEL fuel company, but Bulgaria also signed an agreement with Westinghouse in 2021 to license VVER-1000 fuel for the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.
Nuclear Collaborations
Russia hosted ATOMEXPO 2022 in Sochi. Over the course of the conference, Russia signed roughly 50 agreements on various businesses related to nuclear energy. Most of the countries which signed agreements with Russia were from Africa, such as Rosatom’s agreements with Burundi and Zimbabwe. Rosatom also signed several agreements with Russia’s allies in Europe and Central Asia, such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Orano Mining signed a tripartite agreement with the Mineral Resources of the Republic of Uzbekistan (GosComGeology) and state-owned enterprise Navoiyuran to cooperate on the development of new uranium mines in Uzbekistan. Orano has partnered with GosComGeology since 2019, when they created a joint venture to develop uranium exploration and mining activities in Uzbekistan’s Kyzylkum province.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research signed a new agreement that adds the basic design of a research reactor at the Polish research facility. The new agreement supplements an earlier agreement between the two organizations, providing for research and development cooperation on a research reactor and collaboration in the development of high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and Candu Energy signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in numerous areas such as decommissioning waste. They will also work together on a system to exchange technology, information, and experience. In addition to securing nuclear plant dismantling capabilities, the MoU will also serve as an opportunity to advance into the overseas decommissioning market.
Russian nuclear fuel company TVEL and the Egyptian Atomic Energy Agency signed an agreement for the supply of low-enriched fuel components for Egypt’s ETRR-2 research reactor. The products covered by the deal include uranium components as well as products made of aluminum alloy and powder. These items are within the 2020 framework of a 10-year contract signed with TVEL for the supply of fuel components to the ETRR-2 reactor.
The United States and the Philippines opened talks on a deal for the Philippines to build nuclear power plants with American technology. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Philippine President Bongbong Marcos met as part of the U.S. Asian trip to deepen security and economic ties. Talks on a civil nuclear-energy agreement with the Philippines will aim to deploy advanced reactor technology to help the Philippines meet its energy needs.
The United States and Thailand will cooperate to develop nuclear power through a new class of small reactors. The White House said it will offer technical assistance to Thailand to deploy small modular reactors as part of the Net Zero World Initiative. The White House did not give a timeline but said it would support Thailand in its goal of going carbon neutral by 2065.
South Korean construction giant Doosan Enerbility announced that it was awarded a $1.2 billion contract with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) for the construction of the turbine island at the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant in Egypt. Doosan Enerbility said it will be building a total of 82 buildings and structures, including the turbine island, water treatment and air conditioning systems by 2029. KHNP previously signed an agreement with Rosatom subsidiary Atomstroyexport JSC to construct numerous buildings at the El Dabaa power plant.
Romania announced that the United States will provide funding worth more than $3 billion for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Romania. The funding will be granted by the Washington-based Export-Import Bank, enabling Romania to cover about a third of the amount necessary for the construction of two reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. Construction is expected to commence in early 2023.
Nicaragua signed a cooperation agreement with Russia in the field of non-energy applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Rosatom stated on its website that the agreement establishes the basis for bilateral cooperation on issues such as raising public awareness on nuclear technologies, the development of Nicaragua’s nuclear infrastructure
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The United Kingdom will invest £679 million to become a 50% partner with Electricite de France (EDF) in the ongoing Sizewell C nuclear project. The money allows for China General Nuclear (CGN) to exit the project as the UK government has cited security concerns while reviewing Chinese investments in British infrastructure. The British government added that EDF would also provide additional investment to match the UK stake.
Austria lost its court challenge against the European Commission decision allowing Hungary to expand its Paks nuclear power plant. Austria sued the Commission back in 2018 when the European Commission approved Hungary’s plan to build two Russian-built reactors at the Paks site, arguing that the Commission did not make the right decision in granting state aid to the project. Austrian lawmaker Angelika Winzig also highlighted the risks of a nuclear accident.
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project announced defects have been discovered in the thermal shields and vacuum vessel sectors. Cracks up to 2.2 millimeters deep have developed in the pipes due to stress corrosion cracking, with ITER’s director stating that there would be consequences on the cost and schedule of deployment. ITER is a major international project to build a tokamak fusion device in Cadarache, France.
The United Arab Emirates’ Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) plans to implement a number of strategic projects and initiatives at the Barakah nuclear power plant that focus on carrying out oversight activities, research and development, and boosting national and international cooperation. The research and development activities will focus on capacity building of UAE nationals and directly support the safety regulation of operation of the Barakah plant. The Operational Plan covers the period 2023 until 2026.
Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum signed an agreement with Westinghouse Electric Company for the design, licensing, and supply of U.S. nuclear fuel. This agreement is meant to replace Russian fuel for the Russian-built reactors at the Loviisa nuclear power plant. Fortum is currently tied to its fuel agreement with Russian nuclear power company TVEL for the duration of their operating licenses, which are set to expire in 2027 and 2030.
The IAEA conducted its follow-up to the Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning, and Remediation (Artemis) mission in Germany. The scope of the mission covered all aspects related to the development and implementation of Germany’s radioactive waste management program. The team noted that the majority of the initial recommendations had been addressed and advised Germany to apply a consistent approach across future activities related to cost assessment of the radioactive waste management program, with two recommendations and two suggestions requiring further development.
A team of IAEA experts completed the Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission to the Saeul nuclear power plant in South Korea, marking the IAEA’s first inspection in the country for the APR-1400-type reactors. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) said the team conducted the mission between October 31 and November 17. OSART missions aim to improve operational safety by assessing safety performance using the IAEA’s safety standards and proposing recommendations for improvement where appropriate.
The IAEA plans to issue a report on the safety of treated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant before the start of its release into the sea, which is planned to begin around Spring 2023. The IAEA has been verifying the safety of the treated water based on international standards at the request of the Japanese government, conducting a five-day inspection in Japan that began on November 14. The IAEA said it will conduct another round of inspections in mid-January and then release a comprehensive report.
Initial site investigations have begun for the construction of a Korean-supplied nuclear power plant in Patnow, Poland. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) said it will establish project plans including plans for the construction process, construction cost, and financing for the project, proposing to finance 49% of the cost. KHNP and South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy previously agreed to develop plans for a new nuclear power plant with Poland’s Ministry of State Assets and two Polish companies.
Brazilian nuclear utility Eletronuclear announced that concreting has resumed at Brazil’s Angra-3 nuclear reactor for the first time since 2015. Amid a corruption probe into government contracts, construction of the Angra-3 unit halted in 2015 when the reactor was 65% completed. Preparations for the resumption of concreting began in February 2022 with the signing of a contract between Eletronuclear and the Agis consortium.
Lawmakers in the German Bundestag voted in favor of keeping Germany’s three remaining nuclear plants in operation until April 2023. Previously, Chancellor Olaf Scholz ordered the extension amid looming energy shortages caused by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The revisions to Germany’s Atomic Energy Law stipulate that there will be no new extension beyond April.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and private fusion developer General Fusion will pursue a series of joint projects to accelerate the deployment of commercial nuclear fusion power in Canada. The agreement will see them collaborate on projects in areas including feasibility studies, regulatory framework, power plant siting and deployment, infrastructure design, and testing and operations support. The overall aim is to develop fusion energy research capabilities within CNL to support the goal of constructing a General Fusion commercial plant in Canada before 2030.
According to the EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, the European Union will need up to $462 billion in investment just to keep the current level of its nuclear power generation capacity. At the European Nuclear Energy Forum in Prague, Simson noted that without immediate investment, around 90% of the existing reactors would be shut down by 2030. This year, the European Union is particularly focused on its nuclear power availability as surging energy prices have highlighted the importance of energy security.
British development firm Solway Community Power Company has selected the Rolls-Royce small modular reactor (SMR) for deployment in West Cumbria. The Rolls-Royce SMR is a 470 megawatts electrical (MWe) design that will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years. Previously, Rolls-Royce announced that four sites in the United Kingdom were prioritized to deploy the first Rolls-Royce SMR.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The Biden Administration approved conditional funding of up to $1.1 billion to prevent the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California. The Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) plant, which was set to fully shut in 2025, applied for funding in the initial phase of the DoE’s $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit program. PG&E Chief Executive Patti Poppe said the plant is also ordering more uranium fuel for the reactor, and dry casks for storing nuclear waste.
The U.S. Department of Energy rejected Holtec International’s application for funding to reopen the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan. Holtec bought the Palisades plant last May to decommission the facility, looking to reopen it with funding from the first phase of the Civil Nuclear Credit program. The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment as to why Holtec’s application was denied.
The first transuranic waste has been placed in a new panel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. Waste replacement began at the 8th panel of the WIPP facility, making it the only U.S. repository for the disposal of transuranic waste. The NRC issued its final environmental impact statement for the project in July, contending that it would pose minimal risk and recommending a license be issued. In response, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wrote a letter to the Biden administration demanding the government block the proposed nuclear waste site near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says it will step up scrutiny ​​of the V.C. Summer nuclear generating facility after determining that utility company Dominion Energy failed to properly identify and correct problems with a backup diesel generator at V.C. Summer. According to the NRC, the problems went on for weeks before Dominion acknowledged that they were resolved. The NRC added that the emergency diesel generator would not have been available for use in the case of a nuclear accident.
Toronto-based company Consolidated Uranium is buying ownership of the 3,000-acre Coles Hill uranium deposit in Virginia, which is believed to contain 133 million pounds of yellowcake uranium ore. Since 1982, the Virginia General Assembly has blocked mining at the deposit. However, Consolidated agreed to acquire the deposit following Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s comments that Virginia should go “all in” on innovation in nuclear energy.
The U.S. government and a unit of Centrus Energy Corp. signed an agreement to start producing fuel expected to be used in next generation nuclear reactors. The Department of Energy said that it and Centrus Energy will start the $150 million cost to demonstrate the production of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) at Centrus’ Ohio facility. The contract will enable the production of 20 kilograms of HALEU at the facility by the end of 2023.
Noteworthy Research
The Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have published a report that measures the potential nuclear waste attributions of three different small modular reactor (SMR) technologies. In terms of nuclear waste, each reactor offers both advantages and disadvantages over existing light-water reactors (LWR). The Natrium and Xe-100 reactors have significantly higher burnup than LWRs, which is correlated with lower waste production. The VOYGR pressurized water reactor design has a slightly lower burnup and thermal efficiency compared to an LWR. Overall, the study found that there appear to be no additional major challenges to nuclear waste management for SMRs compared to commercial-scale LWRs.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report exploring the merits and viability of different advanced reactor fuel cycles. This study includes fuel cycles that may use reprocessing for both existing and advanced reactor technologies, as well as the potential impact of advanced reactors and their fuel cycles on waste generation and disposal. The committee found that the top priority for the U.S. government is establishing a single-mission entity with responsibility for managing and disposing of advanced nuclear waste.
According to a report submitted by the CD Howe Institute to the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER), small nuclear reactors would be the cheapest option for carbon-free energy. In their report, CD Howe ranks the cost of various power sources, with nuclear power from small modular reactors (SMR) being the cheapest to operate once storage costs for wind and solar energy are accounted for. The report adds that Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of SMR technology.
The Nuclear Conversation
International Monetary Fund, December 1
The Financial Times, November 29
Utility Dive, November 29
National Review, November 22
American Nuclear Society, November 21
Bloomberg, November 21
World Economic Forum, November 21
The Washington Examiner, November 20
The Breakthrough Institute, November 18
Reason, November 17
The Breakthrough Institute, November 16
The Globe & Mail, November 16
Areo, November 16
DW, November 15
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 14
Washington Examiner, November 13
American Nuclear Society, November 10
Industry Week, November 9
News items and summaries compiled by:

Patrick Kendall, Program Manager, Partnership for Global Security

Yeseul Woo, 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.