This is the last issue of PGS’ Nuclear News for 2022. It will return in January 2023. In this week’s issue, we spotlight the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s draft advanced reactor regulations proposal and criticism of it. We also highlight key nuclear technology, security, and geopolitical developments, reports, and analyses.
Happy Holidays from the Partnership for Global Security!
Our next issue of Nuclear News will be available in early January.
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a 1,252-page draft rule on the deployment of advanced nuclear reactors. This proposed revision of NRC regulations was required by the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) which was signed in 2019. NEIMA required the NRC to establish a regulatory framework for use by “commercial advanced nuclear reactor applicants for new reactor license applications.” The purpose was to support the Congress’ objectives of demonstrating advanced reactors by 2027 and then moving them to deployment. Billions in recent federal funding has been dedicated to achieving these objectives, driven by the need for clean energy, global energy security, and nuclear power geopolitics.
Immediately after the NRC’s draft release, the Breakthrough Institute published its critique of the document. Instead of establishing a risk-informed and performance-based foundation for new regulations that would facilitate advanced reactor technology, Breakthrough’s analysis asserts that the NRC draft essentially copied and pasted the older prescriptive rules for light water reactors, along with a standard for radiation that makes it economically impossible for advanced nuclear facilities to compete.
A Bloomberg opinion piece highlighted the disconnect between the increasing political enthusiasm for the next generation of nuclear energy inside the Biden administration and across the American ideological aisle, and the potentially suffocating impact on innovation of the NRC’s draft rule.
Both Breakthrough and Bloomberg conclude that without a revision of the draft toward a truly modernized and risk-informed licensing framework, there is little reason to expect that the first U.S. advanced reactors will be demonstrated and licensed by the end of the decade.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
The IAEA has made the decision to send IAEA teams to all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in an effort to avert a war-zone catastrophe. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the missions are aimed at securing the plants and recording attempts to externally influence them, in particular by Russian shelling. A small team of IAEA officials has already been at the Zaporizhzhia plant for months trying to maintain the facility.
As the United States and other countries are considering the development of advanced reactors, currently all of the commercial supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) comes from Russia. This supply chain dependency has become a substantial impediment because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and some advanced reactor developers, including TerraPower, have decided to delay project startup because of the limited availability of HALEU outside of Russia.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that there is an agreement on removing heavy weapons from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and that talks were underway on the modalities around the deal. France is also hosting an international conference in Paris to provide urgent aid to help Ukraine get through the upcoming winter as Russian forces continue to target civilian infrastructure across the country. In response to Macron’s announcement, a Kremlin spokesperson claimed that Russia had not placed any heavy weapons at the Zaporizhzhia power plant.
According to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, a deal aimed at protecting the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is close. Grossi has been negotiating a deal with Russia that would create a security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant to protect it from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Previously, Russia’s RIA news agency reported that Moscow had outlined its position on the creation of the safety zone and was awaiting a response.
Nuclear Collaborations
Poland’s Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ) signed a cooperation agreement with U.S. nuclear utility Westinghouse defining the path forward for Poland’s first nuclear reactors. The agreement sets out the next steps, including site layout, licensing and permitting support, engineering services contracts, and procurement and construction planning services. In November, the Polish government selected Westinghouse to construct Poland’s first AP1000 nuclear reactors.
Finnish utility Fortum and Swedish company Kärnfull Next AB signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore opportunities in developing small modular reactors (SMR) in Sweden. The companies said the collaboration will allow them to jointly address Swedish SMR projects which could lead to concrete feasibility studies. The agreement is part of Fortum’s two-year feasibility study to explore nuclear business opportunities in Sweden and Finland.
Rosatom announced that its Internexco GmbH subsidiary and Brazil’s Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) have signed a contract for the supply of 330,000 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride to the Angra Nuclear Power Plant. According to documents on the INB website, the tender will last between 2023 and 2027. Rosatom added that it hoped the contract would open access to the Brazilian market for uranium products.
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) signed a memorandum of understanding with Poland’s National Centre for Nuclear Research on the provision of nuclear fuel. The MoU sees KAERI looking to supply fuel bundles to Poland’s MARIA research reactor on a trial basis in 2024 before qualifying for nuclear fuel supply in 2026. While the MARIA reactor is currently the only operational nuclear facility in Poland, Poland has recently been moving forward with plans to build commercial nuclear power plants.
NuScale Power announced it has awarded two new contracts to Framatome to design fuel handling equipment and fuel storage racks for its VOYGR power plant. Framatome will be partnering with American Crane and Orano to design and adapt its existing fuel handling equipment and high-density spent fuel storage rack designs to meet the VOYGR power plant’s needs. This marks a critical supply chain and manufacturing development step as NuScale hopes to deploy its technology by the end of the decade.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
Russia submitted its bid for the contract to build Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear power station. The bid will be for two light water design commercial nuclear reactors similar to the Russian VVER units being built at the Akkuyu site in Turkey. In September, Saudi Arabia began the process to issue a license to build the station, with additional bids expected to come from China, France, and South Korea.
Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated that nuclear energy is a key tool to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas while also helping provide a cheaper alternative for European countries struggling in the current energy crisis. He told Fox News that his government believes it needs to step up when it comes to building more nuclear power. Sweden’s government is in contact with Swedish industry in order to finance the building of new nuclear reactors.
Japan’s Minister of Industry has drawn up a set of guidelines for the greater use of nuclear power, presenting the guidelines to an advisory panel. The guidelines call for the collaboration of all those concerned to restart offline reactors and for next-generation reactors to be developed to replace decommissioned ones. The ministry also plans to effectively extend reactors’ operation beyond the current 60-year cap.
Unit 1 of South Korea’s Shin Hanul Nuclear Power Plant has entered commercial operations. The unit has been in test operation since July, with the power plant’s second unit scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2023. Earlier this year, South Korea’s government laid out a new energy policy that aims to maintain nuclear power’s share of the national energy mix at a minimum of 30% by 2030.
Three energy companies, Westinghouse, Electricite de France (EDF), and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) are currently being considered to build the Czech Republic’s newest nuclear reactor at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant. State-controlled power company CEZ says final bids for the contract to build the reactor will be placed at the end of September 2023, with a winner announced in 2024. The government estimated that the project would cost around $6.22 billion and should become operational by 2036.
According to recent polling from Polish state research agency CBOS, 75% of the Polish public is now in favor of developing nuclear energy. This is a drastic increase from just 39% approving of nuclear energy last year. The findings come amid the ongoing energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Polish government’s plans to develop the country’s first commercial nuclear power plants.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford marked the beginning of site preparation for Canada’s first grid-scale small modular reactor (SMR) at Darlington. Constructor E.S. Fox was previously awarded the contract to deliver early site preparation work. The new SMR will be Ontario’s first nuclear reactor in a generation, delivering enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.
The Netherlands plans to build two new nuclear power plants in the town of Borssele. The new power plants are expected to start operating in 2035. The Netherlands’ only other working nuclear power plant is being kept operational longer in the face of the ongoing energy crisis in Europe.
Unit 3 of the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah Nuclear Power Plant has reached 100% power capacity for the first time as part of its testing activities. The milestone brings the third unit of the four-unit Barakah power plant one step closer to beginning commercial operation, which is currently scheduled for early 2023. Barakah Units 1 and 2 are already commercially operational, with Unit 4 in the final stages of construction.
The United Kingdom’s government has allocated £102 million to support both nuclear and hydrogen innovation, with £77 million committed to nuclear energy. As part of the funding, the British government will look to develop the next generation of nuclear modules in the form of high-temperature gas reactors (HTGR). The funding aims to get a demonstration project up and running by the end of the decade.
Electricite de France extended the maintenance halts at two nuclear reactors by several months, warning that it may have to carry out lengthy repairs at seven other reactors next year as well. The restart of EDF’s Penly-2 unit has been delayed from January to June 2023, with the Golfech generator also pushed to June. While EDF has returned many units to service in several weeks, its aging reactor fleet looks set to run far below optimal capacity this winter and further strain European power supplies.
The IAEA conducted its Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in Bangladesh to assess the country's regulatory framework for safety against IAEA safety standards. The mission stated that Bangladesh is committed to continuous improvement of nuclear radiation safety while also identifying areas for possible improvements. Areas where improvements can be made to enhance nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure include updating the legal framework for nuclear and radiation safety and developing Bangladesh’s human resources plan.
The IAEA conducted its Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning, and Remediation (ARTEMIS) mission to Finland. During the mission, the IAEA team visited the Onkalo geological disposal facility for used fuel, which would be the world’s first such facility for used fuel. The team found that Finland is committed to the safe, secure, and sustainable management of radioactive waste while also making several recommendations and suggestions to maintain and enhance the safe management of radioactive waste and used fuel.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing a breed of battery for space missions that would be powered by nuclear waste. Ministers at the ESA’s ministerial council meeting in November agreed to fund the $30 million program that aims to deliver heat and electricity units powered by the radioactive element americium 241. The ESA hopes that the technology will allow missions to operate by the early 2030s.
India’s NTPC Ltd. is planning to build a massive nuclear fleet, installing 20 to 30 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2040. The state-run company is considering the deployment of small modular reactors as they would be quicker to build and easier to adjust to grid requirements. While India already has 22 operational reactors, India’s government hopes that a new nuclear fleet will aid the nation’s push to curb emissions and hit net-zero by 2070.
Indonesia’s nuclear regulatory agency, BAPETEN, announced that Indonesia aims to develop a nuclear power plant by 2039. The agency’s Director, Haendra Subekti, said that Indonesia is looking for investors to help finance the plant’s construction. Indonesia hopes that adopting nuclear energy will help achieve the country’s net zero emissions target and support domestic needs for electricity.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AOEI) said construction of a 300 megawatt electrical (MWe) pressurized water reactor has begun, with Darkhovin identified as the site for the new reactor. The project will take an estimated 8 years and cost $1.5 to $2 billion to complete. Earlier this year, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced a new nuclear industry strategy for the next 20 years.
China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) began equipment installation work at the ACP100 small modular reactor (SMR) demonstration project at the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant. CNNC announced the launch of the project to construct an ACP100 SMR at the Changjiang site back in 2019.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The Department of Energy finalized its contract with Centrus Energy for the production of HALEU at the Piketon facility in Ohio. The first phase of the contract will see demonstration production of HALEU at Piketon by the end of 2023, with Centrus adding that it could scale up the facility to commercial production capacity if given sufficient funding.
Nine senators authored a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Energy Development Finance Corporation (DFC) urging the DFC to begin financing nuclear energy projects abroad. The senators are lobbying the DFC to assert the United States’ authority by financing nuclear projects and seeking additional opportunities to attract new applicants. Russian nuclear exports have dominated the international market and China is seeking a foothold, creating the necessity for the United States to partner with countries interested in adopting nuclear energy and purchasing U.S. nuclear technology.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently passed the International Nuclear Energy Act. This legislation, led by Senators Jim Risch and Joe Manchin, would promote engagement with ally and partner nations to develop a civil nuclear export strategy that would offset Russia and China’s growing influence on international nuclear energy development. Among other actions, the International Energy Act would create programs to facilitate international nuclear energy cooperation to develop financing relationships, training, education, market analysis, security, and governance required.
The owner of the shuttered Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, Holtec International, will reapply for federal funding to revive the plant. The company applied for funds through the U.S. Energy Department’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program after the plant was officially shut down in May, but its application was denied in November. Applications for the next round of funding begin in January 2023.
Energy Fuels Inc. and Strata Energy have been awarded contracts to supply natural uranium concentrates to establish a federal reserve of domestically produced material. The reserve is intended to be a backup source of supply for U.S. nuclear power plants in the event of a significant market disruption. Energy Fuels also announced that it has applied to join the HALEU Consortium which was launched by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.
The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative announced vouchers to four businesses to help support the development of several U.S. advanced reactor designs. The four companies chosen are Dow, Flibe Energy, Oklo, and Radiant Industries. The companies will be provided access to the research capabilities and expertise at the Argonne National Laboratory and the Idaho National Laboratory to help advance their projects.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted an application from TRISO-X for the first ever fuel fabrication facility focusing on the use of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). The decision is an important step in bringing the United States’ first commercial-scale advanced nuclear fuel facility into operation, which will be located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility is expected to be a significant participant in future advanced reactor deployment in the coming decades.
Advanced reactor developer TerraPower announced that it expects to delay the Natrium demonstration reactor by at least two years. TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused the only commercial source of HALEU fuel to longer be a viable part of its supply chain, limiting TerraPower’s ability to manufacture HALEU fuel in time to meet the proposed 2028 in-service date. In response, TerraPower has been working with the Department of Energy, Congress, and private stakeholders to explore potential alternative sources of fuel.
The Department of Energy (DoE) announced that its scientists have produced the first ever fusion reaction that yielded more energy than the reaction required at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. This is an essential step for the United States to develop a utility-scale pilot plant that could deliver nuclear energy from fusion to America’s electrical grid. The next stage will be to prove that the technology can work in commercial reactors.
Advanced nuclear fuel company Lightbridge signed two agreements with the Idaho National Laboratory’s contractor Battelle Energy Alliance. In collaboration with the Department of Energy, the first phase of work will culminate in irradiation testing of fuel samples at INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR). Subsequent phases of work under the two agreements will include post-irradiation examination of the irradiated fuel samples, loop radiation testing in the ATR, and post-irradiation examination of uranium-zirconium fuel rodlets.
BWXT Technologies and government officials announced the landmark production of TRISO nuclear fuel to power the first microreactor built in the United States. Under a $37 million award from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), BWXT will manufacture a core for Project Pele, TRISO fuel for additional reactors, and coated particle fuel for NASA.
NuScale Power, Shell Global Solutions, and other researchers are developing a concept for hydrogen production using electricity and process heating from NuScale’s VOYGR reactor. A NuScale control room will evaluate the dynamics of the integrated energy system and include models for the solid oxide electrolysis cell system (SOEC) for hydrogen production. The research will consider the number of NuScale power modules needed for use in SOEC hydrogen production and the quantity of hydrogen stored.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued the license to GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy America (GEH) for the possession, transfer, and storage of radioactive material at the Morris Operation Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) in Illinois. Despite the ISFSI being dormant, the NRC says continued storage of the spent fuel at the facility is necessary as Congress has not established a permanent national repository. The subsequent renewed license will last until 2042.
Noteworthy Research
The United Kingdom’s parliament released a briefing on the current state of nuclear energy and its potential expansion. This report reviews the evidence surrounding the construction of new nuclear power stations, such as Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C, and the ways in which nuclear power might contribute to emission reduction targets. The report has multiple key messages, including that new designs will require further development and won’t be available until at least the 2030s, as well as encouraging mechanisms for private investors to reduce or share financial risk with consumers in order to minimize nuclear construction costs.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency published a report on how nuclear countries can minimize the cost of capital in building new nuclear reactors. The report explores a new framework for analyzing the cost of capital for nuclear new-build projects on the basis of work under the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) Initiative on Nuclear Funding. The key insight is that capital can be substantially lowered if the different risks pertaining to such projects are properly understood, optimally managed, and fairly allocated.
The Nuclear Conversation
The Japan Times, December 19
The Washington Post, December 18
The Diplomat, December 14
The New York Times, December 13
Canary Media, December 13
NPR, December 13
The Economist, December 12
The Economist, December 12
USA Today, December 9
ASME, December 8
Power Mag, December 7
DW, December 6
Cardinal News, December 5
Nikkei Asia, December 5
CNBC, December 2
The Washington Post, December 2
Canary Media, December 1
Power Mag, December 1
The Daily Signal, November 30
The Breakthrough Institute, November 29
Bloomberg, November 28
News items and summaries compiled by:

Patrick Kendall, Program Manager, 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.