In this issue, we highlight news on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy program and proposed US legislation to impose strict non-proliferation conditions on a nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia. We also note the meeting between President Trump and US nuclear executives to discuss strengthening the industry’s competitive position, China’s potential role in the UK’s nuclear energy sector and plans by the Spanish government to phase out nuclear energy by 2035. Lastly, we share two new reports - from Clearpath and the European Atomic Forum - on the essential role of nuclear power in meeting climate goals. 
Will Saudi Arabia’s future nuclear power program include a partnership with China and Pakistan? Or will the U.S. and its allies offer the Saudis a creative proposal that meets its energy needs and keeps a tight lid on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and beyond? A Next Generation Nuclear Alliance could meet these goals and check the growing domination of China and Russia in civil nuclear power deals around the globe.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. A miscalculation could upend decades of non-proliferation progress.
Interviews on the margins of the recent Munich Security Conference sharpened the standoff between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on their potential civil nuclear cooperation. A new congressional report raises questions about the depth of the political support for the U.S. alone to provide nuclear technology to the kingdom.
The U.S. is rightly pushing to ensure that the Saudis will not be able to convert their peaceful nuclear technology for weapons use. But the Saudis know that the technology they want is available through state-owned companies in Russia and China, countries that prize geopolitical influence as much as proliferation prevention. Those nations can offer incentives to reactor buyers that private companies and democratic countries cannot match.
Russia’s strategy is working - a recent analysis stated that it currently controls 50% of the light-water reactor (LWR) construction and fuel supply market, while the U.S., Korea, France, Japan and China combined account for another 40%.
China is rising as a supplier while the U.S. is retreating - a trend some U.S. companies are trying to reverse . A look at China’s proposed role in the U.K. nuclear program underscores its long-range nuclear supply strategy . It wants to prove its LWR technology in a high regulation country and then market it globally with attractive financing and geopolitical strings .
This advantage could carry into the market for next-generation reactors, which are smaller and less costly than LWR designs. Here too, state-backed companies will have an edge because of their demonstration test beds, full range of financing, and commitment to integrating nuclear power export into their geopolitical strategy.
The domination of one or two countries in the next-generation reactor market will have serious implications for the governance structure for these nascent technologies. Historically, the dominant nuclear supplier significantly influences the non-proliferation, security and safety regimes. If it is Russia and China, will they prioritize these values to the same degree as the U.S. when it was the leader?
The very real potential for authoritarian nations to control international nuclear commerce in the 21st century should worry the U.S. and its allies and force them to rethink whether their cutthroat competition with one another still makes sense in the current international environment. A consortium model may offer a much better and more realistic option.
A Next Generation Nuclear Alliance beginning with the U.S., South Korea and Canada, and incorporating Japan, France, the U.K., and perhaps India could offer a mix of talents and capabilities that make this grouping a potentially potent counterweight to the nuclear supply advantages of Russia and China. One way to think about it is that some nations are better at the hardware of nuclear power – hot production and supply lines, while others excel at the software – design, governance, operations, regulation, and education. Together they can offer a package of technological, governance, financial, and security advantages that the international community may find very attractive.

There should be no mistake, a Next Generation Nuclear Alliance is a difficult, complex process to contemplate and there’s no shortage of cold water that can and will be aimed at the idea. But if democratic values, governance leadership, and global security are nuclear export priorities in this century then it may be essential to pursue it.
Ken Luongo, President of Partnership for Global Security
There is a strong case to be made for the societal value of nuclear power in the 21st century that is compelling and globally important.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The U.S. ambassador to the European Union (EU) is encouraging Europe to overcome current trade tensions with the U.S. and work together to compete against China for the development of critical infrastructure in the Western World.

At their seventh EU-International Agency Energy Agency (IAEA) annual meeting, senior officials agreed to further enhance cooperation in training, research, and development in civil nuclear energy.

Spain’s energy minister announced plans to decommission all nuclear power plants (NPPs) by 2035, in an effort to have 100% of its electricity come from only renewable energy by 2050. Spain produced 40% of it electricity from renewable sources in 2018, and nuclear energy accounts for 20% of its electric generation.

The increasing civil nuclear collaboration between the UK and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) to develop nuclear power projects in the UK is facing tough criticism, as there is growing public anxiety about Chinese involvement in sensitive infrastructure.

The Russian government has given approval for its new floating NPP, Akademik Lomonosov, to be stationed in Chukotka, a small district located in the Far East region of the country.

South Africa, currently the only country in Africa to have nuclear power, will discuss energy cooperation with Russia during its next high-level bilateral meeting.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
Multiple U.S. nuclear energy developers met with President Donald Trump to ask for help winning contracts to build power plants in the Middle East and overseas, in an effort to make U.S. nuclear power more competitive globally.
The Congressional House Oversight and Reform Committee is opening an inquiry into possible security issues related to the proposed nuclear project in Saudi Arabia. In a new report, the Committee states that the current administration sought to rush the transfer of American nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the law. IP3 responded with a press release.
In a recent resolution, the House of Representatives expressed support for the IAEA stating that it played an “indispensable role in strengthening nuclear security and safety around the globe.”
Three U.S. Senators (Jeff Merkley, Rand Paul, and Ed Markey) introduced bipartisan legislation that would require any civilian nuclear deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to meet the “gold-standard” of non-proliferation.
Exelon has filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating that three of its NPPs in Illinois are at risk of early retirement because of financial and economic reasons. A spokesman from Exelon stated that their plants are “economically challenged due to market flaws that aren’t valuing zero-carbon nuclear power for its environmental and grid resiliency benefits.”
President Trump signed an executive order to spur the development and regulation of artificial intelligence (AI), which many regard as a response to China’s 2017 announcement that it wants to become the world leader in AI.
The Green New Deal is sparking debate on the role of nuclear power. The resolution introduced by Congressional Democrats is seen as a framework and calls for getting 100% of the nation’s energy “through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,” which puts nuclear power in the conversation.
Nuclear Consensus

Rosatom and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) jointly published three books on nuclear energy at the Ekushy Book Fair 2019. The goal is to provide young people with primary knowledge of nuclear energy and clear up misconceptions.
Noteworthy Research

The European Atomic Forum (FORATOM), in a new position paper, states that nuclear energy can help the EU achieve a sustainable and low-carbon future while providing reliable and affordable electricity.

Clearpath released a new report titled, “ Clean Energy Solutions Must Include Nuclear.” This report argues for a more comprehensive and aggressive strategy that focuses on carbon emissions and allows all proven low-carbon emitting technologies to play a role.

In the latest Energy Policy journal, a report was published by Jessica Jewell, Marta Vetier, and Daniel Garcia-Cabrera on nuclear cooperation agreements signed or announced between 2000 and 2015. The report offers insight into the current geopolitical layout of the nuclear industry.
The Nuclear Conversation
For more than a decade, 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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