In this issue, we highlight increased Russian and Chinese influence in the nuclear energy sector of the Middle East. We also note a House amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which attaches conditions to U.S. sales of nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, we include a report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office reviewing The International Atomic Energy Agency's nuclear security program. 
Recharging Nuclear Security
The Obama-era priority of strengthening global nuclear security and protecting all vulnerable materials has faded out like an old photograph. It was a unique and remarkable opportunity that launched four unprecedented heads-of-state summits in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. But its transformative potential was squandered.

It never built the durable bridge necessary for long-term engagement among the key stakeholders. It didn’t push the policy bounds of what reticent nations would bear. It left critical emerging issues unaddressed. And it ended abruptly, handing the leadership baton back to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

A new report makes clear that the IAEA’s handling of the nuclear security mission is in need of significant improvement. The results of this analysis are predictable because the summits were intended to supercharge a vital issue that was languishing in the international bureaucracy.

Despite its significant value, the IAEA does not excel at dynamism and creativity. And its consensus-based approach allows nations opposing creative policy proposals to effectively smother new ideas. Its nuclear security activities are built on a small foundation of Agency financing and a much larger, unstable base of “extra-budgetary” contributions from individual nations, keeping the agenda off balance and vulnerable.

One hand-off from the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process was a series of action plans for five different international organizations and initiatives. But much of it has fallen flat without the forcing focus offered by world leader’s attention.

Another enduring result was a collaboration among key nuclear security stakeholders in the non-proliferation and nuclear industry communities. This partnership has thrived and been expanded to include other key constituencies under the Global Nexus Initiative . But, the future effectiveness of global nuclear security requires more.

Strengthening global nuclear security requires that its agenda be expanded to enhance its relevance. The protection of nuclear materials and infrastructure from terrorist attack and exploitation remains vitally important. But the nuclear security agenda has become larger and more diverse in recent years.

Advances in emerging disruptive technologies including computing and cyber, materials science, UAVs and drones, artificial intelligence, and exotically fueled advanced reactors are rising security imperatives. The global community is not well prepared to respond to the implications of these new technologies. The negative consequences of that approach have already been demonstrated in the cyber security area.

The future of global competition is going to be defined by the race for technological superiority. The U.S. and its allies have some significant advantages at the moment. But they are failing to fully understand the important nexus of emerging and nuclear technologies. This poses a new and significant nuclear security challenge.

The global policy guardrails for these issues are going to be significantly influenced by those nations that are quick to analyze the implications and act to develop the required frameworks. This is especially important because the major nuclear powers are suspiciously circling one another on these and so many other issues. Creating international consensus in those circumstances will be very difficult.

There was a failure to fully exploit the potential of the last major push to strengthen nuclear security. That was a significant disappointment. The danger has now morphed and become more complex. Fading away from this challenge will be a significant risk to future global security.

Ken Luongo, Partnership for Global Security

PGS welcomes Camilla Ward as its inaugural Della Ratta Global Energy and Security Fellow. Camilla specializes in the role of nuclear energy in the 21st century; specifically, how to capitalize on emerging technological developments to enhance the safety and security of civil nuclear energy and the related geopolitical implications.

She holds an LL.B. (Honours) and B.A. (International Relations and Political Science) from the Australian National University and an LL.M. from the Georgetown University Law Center, with a focus on nuclear nonproliferation and security studies. She is admitted to the Bar in Australia and served as a lawyer for the Australian Government advising the Australian Radioactive Waste Management Taskforce.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
House Representatives adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting U.S. sales of nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia without safeguards preventing the development of nuclear weapons.

Saudi and Russian companies are exploring opportunities to expand existing cooperation in the energy sector, including nuclear, with Russia presenting its new mid-sized NPP to Saudi Arabia based on the VVER-600 reactor.

China National Nuclear Corp (CCNC) agreed with counterparts in the United Arab Emirates to jointly finance nuclear sector investment. Under the agreement, companies will set up an investment mechanism to facilitate CNNC’s efforts to expand Chinese nuclear technology and manufacturing capacity abroad.

China began construction of its first small modular reactor (SMR), Linglong One, on the southernmost island province of Hainan as part of the country’s plan to diversify its nuclear energy sector. 

The United Kingdom confirmed its plan to attract investors by having consumers pay for new NPPs, with taxpayers to pay a share of any cost overruns or construction delays.

The second heatwave to hit western Europe forced French utility EDF to cut nuclear power generation by around 5.2 gigawatts. In Germany, the Grohnde reactor was taken offline due to high temperatures in the Weser river.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has begun the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) to facilitate the deployment of SMRs in Canada, with the CNRI to provide reactor vendors access to research facilities.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
In response to the Uranium Miners’ Section 232 Petition, President Trump denied a request to implement a quota on uranium imports, citing that it does not threaten national security. However, he did call for a security analysis into the nuclear fuel supply chain.

The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) reached a significant milestone in its Carbon Free Power Project totaling subscription levels of executed power sales contracts over 150 MW. The projects would provide the nation’s first small modular nuclear reactor project producing a gross output of 720 MW of electricity. 

Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, suggested that she hopes to consider reviving spent nuclear fuel reprocessing as a feasible alternative to current federal waste disposal plans.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recommended scaling back inspections at nuclear reactors. These recommendations are being promoted by the nuclear industry as an efficient cost-saving mechanism but are receiving heavy pushback by opponents citing this as a threat to public safety.

As part of a long-term strategy to replace aging coal plants and reduce carbon emissions, the Logan Municipal Council unanimously voted to continue a project to build the country’s first SMR north of Idaho Falls.

The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 6 that will create financial subsidies to prevent FirstEnergy Solutions’ two NPPs, Davis-Besse and Perry, from closing down early. 
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies 
UK-based Moltex Energy is entering the U.S. nuclear market after receiving funding for research into structural composites that could enhance safety and reduce stable salt reactor construction schedules to 24 months.
Noteworthy Research
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new report reviewing The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) nuclear security program. GAO highlights member-state politics over the agency’s nuclear security role and the challenges they create for the Agency. The report also provides recommendations to improve IAEA priority setting, performance measures and funding stabilization.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued a second interim staff report as part of the Committee’s investigation into the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

The South Pacific Defense Ministers’ Meeting emphasized how defense organizations must be prepared to adapt to climate change. A Joint Communiqué was issued in addition to a report, Implications of Climate Change on Defense and Security in the South Pacific by 2030 .
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.
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