In this week’s issue, we document Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s civil nuclear facilities since its invasion began in February and the current status of the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Chernobyl nuclear facilities. We spotlight the Biden administration’s plans to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative and promote a small modular reactor project in Romania. Finally, we highlight key nuclear technology, security, and political developments, reports, and analyses.
Russia's Attacks on Ukraine's Civil Nuclear Facilities

Yeseul Woo, Della Ratta Fellow, Partnership for Global Security

At the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany, President Biden joined European and Asian partners and laid out the new Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). The purpose of this partnership is to offer an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by narrowing infrastructure gaps around the world, strengthening the global economy and supply chains, and advancing international security through strategic investments. Notably, the United States committed a further $14 million toward a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study to provide the basis for the deployment of a small modular reactor in Romania. This U.S. initiative underscores the importance of the growing nexus between climate change, nuclear energy, and global security.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
At the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Russian occupying forces are planning to drain the cooling pools in order to search for alleged weapons belonging to workers. According to Ukraine, several plant workers were detained and tortured to coerce confessions that they had dropped some weapons, explosives, or shells into the concrete basins of the cooling pools. Ukraine’s Energoatom emphasized that if Zaporizhzhia is left without cooling, it could become a threat to nuclear safety due to the risk of spent fuel overheating and equipment failure.
As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) terminated its international agreements with Russia concerning cooperation in the field of nuclear safety. The agreements terminated include a cooperation agreement from 1996 and an information exchange agreement from 2002.
According to a new article, Russian soldiers controlling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are detaining workers and subjecting them to brutal interrogations in a search for possible saboteurs. Many Ukrainian workers have already left the nuclear plant, raising concerns as to who will operate it and whether the reactors will remain safe. Russian forces have fortified the outside of the plant with trenches and heavy artillery, complicating Ukrainian attempts to retake the facility and raising concerns about the security of nuclear material at the site.
In response to reports on the conditions faced by operators of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant under Russian occupation, the IAEA expressed its concerns about the welfare of the Ukrainian staff and requested sending a mission to verify the plant’s safety. In addition to ensuring the well-being of Ukrainian workers at the power plant, physical inventory verifications need to be carried out in person by inspectors.
Russian occupiers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant told heads of the plant’s subdivisions that Russia wants to put the power plant under Rosatom’s control by September 1. Ukraine responded saying that the objective is incompatible with reality. Energoatom has estimated that there are about 500 Russian troops at Zaporizhzhia.
Nuclear Collaborations
Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom said that it received permission from Egypt’s nuclear regulatory authority to start building the El-Dabaa nuclear power plant. Rosatom said the permission allows it to start construction of the first power unit out of four planned at the site. Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to build Egypt’s first nuclear plant back in 2017.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) agreed with the Kazakhstan Nuclear Power Limited Liability Partnership (KNPP) for cooperation in the construction of new nuclear power plants. The agreement also includes cooperation in the application of nuclear technology, human resources development, and residents’ acceptance. Under Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, KNPP has been evaluating the possibility of building nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan, with construction currently planned to begin in 2029 and complete construction in 2035.

French nuclear company EDF signed five cooperation agreements with Polish companies in the nuclear sector during the fifth Polish-French nuclear industry day. The companies EDF signed agreements with were Uniserv, Telefonika Kable, Polimex Mostostal, Sefako, and ZRE Katowice. Poland plans to deploy up to six nuclear reactors at multiple sites by 2040, and EDF submitted an initial offer in 2021 for a contract covering the procurement and construction of 4 to 6 EPR reactors.

Czech nuclear utility CEZ announced that U.S. company Westinghouse and French company Framatome will begin the delivery of fuel assemblies for the Temelin nuclear power plant in 2024. The goal is to become independent of Russian-supplied fuels. CEZ has secured Westinghouse and Framatome as fuel assembly suppliers to ensure the diversity of nuclear fuel supplies to Temelin and the Dukovany nuclear power plant. Before 2016, Russian company TVEL had been the sole supplier of nuclear fuel to the Czech Republic’s two nuclear plants.

Polish state-owned energy company Enea SA signed an agreement with U.S. small modular reactor (SMR) developer Last Energy to cooperate on the deployment of SMRs. The two companies will initially cooperate on the development and construction of SMRs, with the further possibility of establishing a joint company that would implement Last Energy’s SMR technology in Poland. Meanwhile, French energy company EDF has signed further cooperation agreements with Polish companies to support its offer of supplying four to six European Pressurized Reactors (EPR).
Saskatchewan-based company SaskPower announced that GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 small modular reactor has been chosen for potential use in the Canadian province. Saskatchewan’s provincial government previously announced its intention to collaborate with the governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Alberta on the development of a Canada-wide fleet of SMRs to help reduce carbon emissions. Ontario Power Generation has also selected GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 SMR for its Darlington New Nuclear Project.
GE Steam Power has signed a $165 million contract with the Indian state-owned enterprise BHEL for the supply of three nuclear steam turbines. India’s first phase being developed is for four nuclear units at the Gorakhpur nuclear power plant and two at the Kaiga plant. In 2018, GE and BHEL signed a business cooperation agreement and a License and Technology Transfer Agreement, which enabled GE to manufacture the 700 MW nuclear steam turbines for India’s nuclear power units.
U.K.-headquartered nuclear reactor developer Newcleo has successfully raised $316 million and announced it has contracted France’s Orano for feasibility studies on the establishment of a mixed plutonium-uranium oxides production plant. Newcleo launched the equity issue to raise financial resources for deploying the Generation IV MOX fuel reactors in March. A new manufacturing plant would be used for Newcleo’s 30 MW prototypes in France and the United Kingdom, while MOX fuel has already been approved for use in French fast nuclear reactors.
Uzbekistan and Russian nuclear company Rosatom are discussing how to optimize the cost of building Uzbekistan’s first nuclear power plant. Uzbek Deputy Energy Minister Sherzod Khodjaev admitted that the nuclear project is more expensive than other types of electricity and thus Uzbekistan needs to reduce the construction cost and ensure Rosatom will help operate the plant for its operational life of 50 to 60 years. Uzbekistan’s concept of the development of nuclear energy planned to start the construction of a nuclear power plant in 2022, with the first power unit being commissioned in 2028.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that global nuclear power capacity will need to double by 2050 in order for countries to reach net-zero emissions targets and help ensure energy security as countries try to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The current global nuclear capacity is 413 gigawatts (GW), and the IEA says that figure will need to increase to 812 GW, with annual power capacity increasing 27 GW annually in the 2030s. Around 63% of nuclear power production comes from plants that are over 30 years old, and nuclear plants in advanced economies could shrink by one-third by 2030 without action.

In response to an ongoing heat wave in Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that his government will use nuclear reactors to their fullest extent in order to supply electricity. With most of the country’s nuclear reactors currently offline, Kishida stated the government would work to speed up the review process to restart dormant units. The Japanese government also issued alerts this week of possible power shortages as a result of the heat wave.

Hungary plans to extend the lifetime of the Paks nuclear power plant and will make assessments on costs and feasibility next month. Technology and Industry Minister Laszlo Palkovics said the nuclear plant could have up to 20 additional years of service. The Paks nuclear power plant currently has four small Russian-built VVER-440 reactors with a combined capacity of about 2,000 megawatts.

In Sweden, state-owned utility Vattenfall AB announced it will start an 18-month study on whether it’s plausible to build at least two small modular reactors adjacent to the Ringhals nuclear power plant. The first of these small reactors could start operating in the early 2030s if the pilot study finds it to be profitable. The Swedish government previously stated that the country is facing an energy crisis and that all technologies should be considered in boosting the energy supply.

The Netherlands’ cabinet will reveal plans to develop two nuclear power stations. The government’s coalition agreement will prepare for the construction of new nuclear power plants, and the government is allocating €5 billion for the initial development of these plants. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Gazprom cutting gas supplies to the Netherlands, a majority in the Dutch House of Representatives has urged the Climate and Energy Minister to develop further plans for nuclear energy.

The sixth unit of the Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant in China has entered commercial operation. The unit is the second of two ACPR-1000 reactors built as part of Phase II of the plant, with the reactor connected to the grid in May of this year. With all six units of the Hongyanhe plant operational, it is now China’s largest nuclear power plant in operation and the third largest in the world, with a total installed capacity of more than 6.71 million kilowatts.

The IAEA completed its follow-up Safety Aspects of Long-Term Operation (SALTO) mission evaluating units 1 and 2 of Mexico’s Laguna Verde nuclear power plant. The team said the plant has made numerous improvements, such as improved aging management of mechanical components, developing a comprehensive training program for power plant management, and improving the process for data management in support of long-term operation. The plant’s operator has obtained a license renewal to extend the operating lifetime of unit 1 to 60 years and has applied to extend operation of unit 2.

In a statement made to leaders of the multilateral forum G7, representatives of the global nuclear industry urged them to consider nuclear power as a sustainable solution to cut fossil fuel use and support extending the operating life of nuclear reactors for as long as possible. The industry leaders also called on G7 leaders to include nuclear energy in green financing frameworks and raise national nuclear capacity targets in future energy mixes. Some of the organizations in the statement included the Canadian Nuclear Association, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, the Nuclear Energy Institute, and the World Nuclear Association.

The IAEA completed its Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission to India. The IAEA mission concluded that India’s nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), showed a strong commitment and professionalism to ensuring nuclear and radiation safety in the country. The IRRS also recommended that the Indian government ensure that the AERB maintains its independence and continue its international engagement on the development of safety standards.

Czech energy company CEZ is acquiring the nuclear energy services firm Skoda JS from the Russian engineering group OMZ. Since 2004, Skoda JS has been part of OMZ, with the new move by CEZ meant to avoid the risks of international sanctions against Russian companies having an impact on key supplies for CEZ’s nuclear power plants. Skoda JS has manufactured and supplied 21 VVER-440 type reactors and 3 VVER-1000 type reactors in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Germany.

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Environment, total greenhouse gas emissions in the country increased 3.5% in 2021 to 679.6 million tons. According to the National Center for Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research (GIR), almost 87% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the energy sector.

The United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant will begin fuel loading for its third reactor. The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) will deploy inspectors to oversee the fuel loading to ensure the fuel loading and testing processes are completed according to requirements. FANR expects to start looking at the operating license application for the fourth and final unit in the fourth quarter of this year.

Russian nuclear power company Rosatom and the head of the Russian Republic of Sakha signed an agreement on promoting the construction of a small nuclear power plant based on the SHELF-M integral pressurized water reactor (PWR). The agreement will see the two sides develop and approve a roadmap for the implementation of the project this year. The Republic of Sakha is also due to get another Rosatom-designed small nuclear power plant based on the RITM-200 reactor that is scheduled for commissioning in 2028.

Commercial operation of Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant will be delayed for another three months due to foreign material issues in the turbine’s steam reheater. Finland now expects the test production phase to be completed in December 2022, which is when the unit’s regular electricity will start. This setback is just the latest in a long list of interruptions for the Olkiluoto 3, which has been under construction since 2005.

The IAEA completed its International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission in Finland, carried out at the request of the Finnish government and hosted by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). The scope of the mission included a review of the legislative and regulatory framework for the physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material in Finland. The mission observed that Finland has further strengthened its nuclear security capabilities while also providing suggestions to support Finland in enhancing and sustaining nuclear security.

The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is a G-7 led international effort to prevent the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. It released its most recent newsletter with updates from its 31 member states.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The American Nuclear Society published a statement praising the California State Legislature for passing a bill that would support the option of continued operations of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The organization said that losing Diablo Canyon’s carbon-free power would significantly worsen California’s ongoing energy crisis. The bill’s funding enables California to decide at a later date whether to reverse the slated closures of Diablo Canyon’s two units.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced an amendment to the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program Guidance for the current open award cycle. The Amended Guideline revises the eligibility criteria to replace a requirement that a nuclear reactor not recover more than 50% of its costs from cost-of-service regulation or regulated contracts. To incorporate these changes and give potential applicants time to respond, the application period has been extended another 60 days to September 6.
Utilities and plant operators that are part of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) project that they could add 90 gigawatts of nuclear power to the U.S. electrical grid, nearly doubling their output over the next three decades. According to NEI CEO Maria Korsnick, this would translate to about 300 small modular reactors. About two dozen U.S. companies are developing advanced reactors, with some that could come online by the end of the decade if the technology succeeds, and federal regulators provide their approval.
Holtec International completed the acquisition of the Palisades Power Plant and the Big Rock Point site in Michigan. The decommissioning timeline for Palisades will be 19 years, with small modular reactors an option for future uses of the two sites. Palisade operated for more than 50 years and closed in May of this year, while Big Rock Point closed down in 1997 and has been fully decommissioned.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Orano Federal Services and Terrapower with Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) vouchers to access the DoE’s national laboratories. Orano is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a new technical study that updates the physical chemistry limits of uranium hexafluoride gas, and TerraPower is developing a molten chloride fast reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory. GAIN was established by the Office of Nuclear Energy to provide the nuclear community with access to technical, regulatory, and financial support.
U.S. company NuScale announced it is shifting from product development to project delivery by setting up the VOYGR Services and Delivery Business Unit. This unit will be tasked with the delivery of services and equipment associated with the sale, development, delivery, and commercial operation of VOYGR power plants (VOYGR™). The NuScale Power Module is the first small modular reactor (SMR) design to receive approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The U.S. Department of Energy signed a $100 million contract to fund moving nuclear waste from around the country to a repository near Carlsbad, California. The contract to carry out the transport was awarded to CAST Specialty Transportation, which will operate a transportation terminal within a 10-mile radius of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) site where waste shipments will be inspected before continuing to the repository. The waste will go to the WIPP, which permanently disposes of transuranic nuclear waste in a salt deposit about 2,000 feet underground.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded more than $61 million for 74 nuclear energy projects across the country. The projects will support nuclear technology development, infrastructure improvements, and career opportunities at more than 40 U.S. universities. The awarded funding will be divided into three main categories: research and development, infrastructure improvements, and career development.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
To improve the process of determining different attributes of nuclear materials, Texas A&M University’s Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives has developed a methodology for analyzing nuclear samples using machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence. The machine learning method produces identity marks through simulations and then stores the data in a 3D database. The work is being done through a consortium of national laboratories and universities supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to develop new methods of detecting and deterring nuclear proliferation.
NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy have selected three concept design proposals for a fission surface power system that could be ready to launch by the end of the decade for a demonstration on the Moon. NASA awarded contracts to three companies for the development of initial design concepts for a 40-kW class fission power system planned to last at least 10 years in a lunar environment. The Phase 1 awards will provide NASA critical information from industry that can lead to the joint development of a full flight-certified fission power system.
Belgian company Tractebel is leading the PULSAR consortium conducting research on dynamic radioisotope power systems (RPS) fueled by plutonium-238 for space applications. PULSAR aims to develop technology and capabilities in Europe to produce Pu-238 as space becomes a larger strategic and economic priority for Europe. The project is being funded by the European Commission's Euratom Research and Training Program.
Noteworthy Research
The British think tank New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI) published a report advocating for the adoption of nuclear energy in order for the United Nations to meet all of its Sustainable Development Goals. The report argues that the priority for preventing irreversible climate change is decarbonization rather than energy systems which are 100% dependent on renewables. The report cites Sweden and France as two countries that have made rapid reductions in carbon emissions by expanding their nuclear capacities. The report concludes with a list of priorities for the European Union to act on to reach carbon neutrality and recommendations for how to achieve more inclusive and efficient emissions reductions.
The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) released its Nuclear Energy Data report for the year 2021, containing information provided by NEA and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. The report noted that for members of both the NEA and the OECD, electricity production from nuclear power plants decreased partially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 36 reactors are planned to be retired from service by 2024, further reducing NEA countries' nuclear generating capacity by a total of 28 gigawatts of electricity. The report also notes that due to uranium market production cuts, uranium imports will continue to be necessary in order to meet reactor requirements. Finally, the report highlights the nuclear policies of NEA and OECD member states.
The Nuclear Conversation
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 28
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 28
Nature, June 28
The Diplomat, June 25
DW, June 24
The Guardian, June 23
DW, June 23
The Wall Street Journal, June 23
Council on Foreign Relations, June 22
The Washington Post, June 22
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 20
BBC News, June 20
The New York Times, June 18
World Nuclear News, June 17
Morgan Lewis, June 14
Bloomberg, June 13
Nuclear Engineering International, June 8
New 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.