In this week’s issue, we identify how Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine has created the circumstances needed to de-throne it as the top global nuclear supplier. We also spotlight French President Macron’s ambitious plans for nuclear power in France, reviving the nation’s commercial nuclear program. And we highlight new policy developments in the United States in support of advanced nuclear technologies and the existing nuclear reactor fleet.
Breaking Russia’s Grip on Nuclear Energy Exports
Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has finally broken its energy spell on Europe. But this crack in Russian energy supremacy offers another valuable opportunity - to dethrone it as the world’s top global nuclear energy exporter.

Responsible nuclear supplier nations will need to act fast and in concert to achieve this objective.

There are three important messages about Russian irresponsibility that democratic nation exporters should now hammer home with potential nuclear energy importers.

First, Russia has so recklessly transcended established national borders and the international order that it cannot be trusted to assure effective nuclear governance around the globe. Its undermining of global nuclear security is underscored by intentionally creating a war zone in a nation with numerous operating nuclear power plants, raising the risk of radiation release.

Second, Putin’s Russia has an acute desire for client state subservience and a willingness to use energy as a political weapon. Potential nuclear customers of Russia should beware the impact on their sovereignty as there typically is a 100-year bilateral relationship that comes with nuclear reactor imports.

Third, energy security is essential for national security. This connection had fallen out of favor as nations walled off energy from security and sought to use it as a commercial means of maintaining peace. But that policy now has failed. Europe already is retreating from the energy insecurity resulting from its overdependence on Russian gas.

Some European nations are contemplating new nuclear plants as both an alternative to Russia’s energy supply and as a way to decarbonize their energy systems. Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic are all moving down this path. But they have rejected Russian technology.

Other EU nations moving forward with new nuclear plants are engaged with Russia but now rethinking that partnership.

Finland is reconsidering its joint nuclear plant project with Russia. It’s president stating that it will be reviewed in light of Russia’s invasion and that “security certainly will be one factor in the review.”

Turkey has a $20 billion agreement with Russia to construct four reactors at Akkuyu. That nation’s president rejected Russia’s Ukraine attack and stated that it is, “contrary to international law [and] a blow to the regional stability and peace.” This position could impact progress on the Akkuyu project.

This opposition to Russia’s international aggression, its bolstering of the energy-national security nexus, and its heightening of concern about who could next be devoured by the Russian energy bear likely will bleed over into non-European nations considering nuclear energy.

This could be an important factor in the international market for smaller reactors. Many of the nations most well suited for these technologies are developing economy countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. They need clean energy for their growing populations and economies.

But these nations are also new to nuclear power operations. They will want and need support systems for the safe and secure operation of these reactors from partners that they can rely upon and trust.

For the most advanced of these small technologies, those that have fuel cycles not based on traditional light-water technologies, there are numerous nuclear governance advancements that will be required to be developed. Safeguards to prevent nuclear proliferation need to be adapted and new nuclear safety and security guidance is needed.

The global community cannot allow Russia to seize control of the system for making these new rules by dominating the emerging small reactor market. That poses an undeniable global security risk.

The economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., EU, and other nations are one way of blunting Russia’s potential dominance of the small reactor market. These sanctions will impact Russia’s access to international capital which could curtail its ability to offer new nuclear nations its very generous financing for new nuclear plants.

This attractive financing has been state supported and the most alluring feature of Russia’s nuclear exports. Significantly curtailing this financing will decrease Russia’s advantages.

However, if Russian exports falter it is vital that western nations fill the void and not allow China to climb to the top of the nuclear export market. Trading one authoritarian nuclear supplier for another won’t make the world safer.

Russia has now provided the lever needed to pry away its grip on international nuclear supply. That control is a danger to current and future global security. The question is whether the western nation nuclear exporters can organize themselves to actually seize the advantage in this opportunity and do it quickly. 
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security 

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced renewed and ambitious plans for nuclear power. Macron has announced a ‘rebirth’ of French nuclear power, reviving interest in its commercial nuclear power program, and the planned construction of six new nuclear reactors, with the possibility of eight more. The plan would also extend the life of older nuclear reactors on French soil. This comes as Macron stated last year that France will build a small modular reactor (SMR) as well as two “megafactories” that produce green hydrogen from nuclear power by 2030.
This is part of France's greater strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 2050, as well as France’s long-standing goal for energy independence. 
Nuclear Collaborations
Polish Copper and Silver producer, KGHM Polska Miedź SA has begun collaborating with American NuScale Power, with hopes of deploying Poland’s first SMR power plant as early as 2029. Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in September of 2021, NuScale will assist KGHM in fields related to analysis of technical, economic, legal, regulatory, financial, and organizational factors. NuScale’s VOYGR SMRs are the first SMR design to receive approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued a joint statement expressing their intent to cooperate on a series of strategic areas, including nuclear energy construction in Brazil. This statement concluded a meeting between the Heads of State in which they discussed “small capacity nuclear power plants, both on land and floating plants.”
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
Russia has started construction on the world's largest marine reactor, to be used for an icebreaker vessel. The technology on the civilian vessel will use two RITM-400 SMRs, allowing it twice the speed of all current ice breaking vessels.
The Swedish Energy Agency has awarded SMR company, Swedish Modular Reactors AB, a fund of $10.8 million to construct a LeadCold SEALER, a 3 to 10 MWe advanced lead-cooled reactor, at the Oskarshamn plant site. The use of this technology will become a cost-effective fossil-free base power and advance Sweden’s goals to become a fossil-free society.
The UAE has begun studying advanced nuclear technologies to produce hydrogen as part of their respective decarbonization scheme. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is considering hydrogen generation as a promising alternative to their reliance on fossil fuels. The UAE began operation of the first commercial NPP in the Arab world in 2020.
South Korean presidential opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol stated that he would scrap the current Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phase out policy. Yoon vowed to make nuclear energy and advanced nuclear technologies, “a core engine to drive the country.”
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a Notice of Intent and Request for Information, seeking input from key stakeholders on the implementation of the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program to preserve the existing U.S. nuclear reactor fleet. The Civil Nuclear Credit Program was established under the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year.
The U.S. DOE has announced a $175 million initiative that will award 68 new research and development projects to support the nation’s transition to clean energy. The initiative will support solutions for a variety of sectors, including nuclear recycling.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) board of directors has approved the spending of up to $200 million to support the development of GE Hitachi’s SMR technology. GE Hitachi’s SMR is projected to begin operation as soon as 2032.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and advanced reactor vendor Oklo have signed an agreement to commercialize advanced nuclear fuel recycling. The project will support the development of electrorefining technology used to recycle fuel for advanced fission NPPs. 
Noteworthy Research
In a new Carnegie Endowment for International Peace commentary, entitled "Why Europe Is Looking to Nuclear Power to Fuel a Green Future," nonresident senior fellow Mark Hibbs discusses the recent proposal to include nuclear power and natural gas in the European Union (EU) Finance Taxonomy, and the implications for nuclear power investors.

Goldman Sachs has published a new report on the “EU Taxonomy Update - Inclusion of Natural Gas and Nuclear,” stating that the inclusion of nuclear power and natural gas would provide some stability to Europe’s volatile energy supply and support the phasing out of coal. The report provides details from the draft Taxonomy and assesses what the implications may be for corporates and investors.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) published a new report, criticizing the feasibility of NuScale’s SMR design. The report argues that, based on past trends in nuclear power development, the SMR design would cost significantly more than what the company projects, take much longer to construct, and impede efforts to deploy other zero-emission options.
The Nuclear Conversation
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.