In this week’s issue, we discuss recent trends aligning the U.S. and allied nations' strategies on competing with Russia and China for control of critical industries, including clean energy technologies. We also highlight a journal article, “The Biden Administration and the ROK-US Nuclear Cooperation,” written by Ken Luongo detailing opportunities in the civil nuclear sector for American and South Korean collaboration. Finally, we bring attention to the new Build Back Better World Partnership launched by the G7 to “help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world.”
Incentivizing Impact in the Emerging Nuclear Market
The U.S. along with its G-7 and NATO allies painted a bullseye on China and Russia as major threats to democracy and global stability during back-to-back summit meetings.
But, delivering on President Biden’s commitment that, “the responsibility of our proud democracies [is] to step up and deliver to the rest of the world,” will be very challenging without some new and inventive approaches.
An innovative strategy from the U.S. government to telecommunications competition was recently outlined. It is a model for other strategic technologies, including next-generation nuclear energy.
The goal is to incentivize nations to reject China’s 5G systems and offer support to bolster that resistance.
The strategy provides financial and related inducements to lure nations away from Huawei’s and ZTE’s cheap equipment and China’s political influence.
The incentives strategy includes loans, training, workshops, and a handbook of case studies on how to resist China’s telecom siren song.
The training and case studies are useful, but the financing is the centerpiece. In Ethiopia, the U.S. recently offered up to $500 million in loans to successfully support the selection of an American-backed telecommunications consortium over Chinese competitors.
5G is a priority for Washington because of the cyber security and spying vulnerabilities of using China’s technology in sensitive industries, internet connected devices, and widespread telecommunications systems.
But clean energy and carbon emissions reductions are another major concern, and it is the primary policy umbrella of the Biden administration.
However, in the race to zero-carbon the U.S. does not control any of the key clean energy technology industries or their manufacturing capability.
China is the overwhelming leader in solar panel manufacturing. Europe and China are the key players in wind power. And China controls much of the critical minerals supply that are required for renewable technologies.
However, the two clean energy areas where the U.S. could exert market control are carbon capture and next-generation nuclear energy.

The U.S. and key allies, including Canada and the UK, are investing significantly in the potential offered by smaller nuclear reactors that are slated for deployment by the beginning of the 2030s. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has requested its largest budget ever for nuclear energy activities in 2022, with a significant focus on the advanced technologies under development.
But, even if technically proven, the economics of these new nuclear technologies will require scale, efficient production, and export markets. These are challenges upon which the new technologies could be wrecked if not managed effectively now.
That would lead to the domination of the international nuclear market by the two authoritarian nations that Biden and his G-7 and NATO allies are seeking to thwart.
Numerous actions are required by the democratic governments to ward off authoritarian control of global nuclear energy in this century. One step – cooperation on foreign nation reactor export – has already been agreed to by the U.S. and South Korea. This needs to be expanded to include other key nations as soon as possible.
Also, much more aggressive cultivation of the newcomer nuclear nation export market is required. That will help to drive reactor production scaling and keep Russian and Chinese technologies at bay.
This is where the 5G incentive strategy is instructive. Rather than leaving potential purchaser nations to sit on the sidelines, it makes more sense to lock up market share for these new reactor technologies in the near term.
That can be done by getting pre-commitment from nations to purchase U.S. or allied next-gen reactors by offering them the financial assistance, training support, and the cooperation agreement that will support their clean energy objectives, build their operational capacities, and undergird the highest international standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation.
This strategy builds on current nuclear engagement that centers expressions of nuclear interest and capacity building in inexperienced nuclear nations. What’s new is strategic, aggressive, and coordinated diplomatic and commercial outreach to nations that are most well suited to deploy the technologies based on key criteria including economic development trajectory, population growth, energy demand, and climate impacts. Right now, that target set includes about 25 countries.
Preventing authoritarian nation control of global nuclear commerce is an important policy priority that is not receiving the attention it requires at the top levels of government. The failure of democratic nations to control the next-gen nuclear market will create major global security and geopolitical dangers. The 5G incentive strategy offers a model for how to lock up a strategic market against determined competition. It should be a model for the updated next-gen nuclear energy strategy that is needed now.

Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

In The Korean Journal on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Energy, Ken Luongo authored an article titled, "The Biden Administration and the ROK-US Nuclear Cooperation." The article discusses the key policy challenges facing next generation nuclear deployment and opportunities for the U.S. and South Korea to jointly facilitate a clean, safe and secure deployment of these novel technologies. 
Nuclear Collaborations
G7 leaders launched the Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership, an initiative intended to “help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world.” Investments will focus on climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality. The leaders also committed to decarbonizing their industrial and innovation sectors including use of nuclear power in the summit communiqué
In a joint statement released by the U.S. and U.K. governments following President Biden’s visit to the United Kingdom, the leaders announced the creation of a ‘Strategic Energy Dialogue’ between the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The dialogue aims to yield stronger cooperation in areas such as nuclear energy.
Samsung Heavy Industries reached a partnership agreement with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to develop molten salt reactors to power ships and “tap into the market of floating nuclear power generation plants.”
The Ukrainian Ministry of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish a bilateral working group on nuclear security, nuclear safety, and emergency preparedness. The working group will discuss priorities, develop strategies, and ensure the effective implementation of nuclear safety projects.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
Iraq plans to build eight nuclear reactors by 2030 capable of producing around 11 GW to meet its rising energy demands and combat pervasive power shortages. The Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority claims to have already picked 20 potential reactor sites, and the organization has indicated that first contracts could be signed in the next year. While Kamal Hussain Latif, the chairman of the aforementioned agency, has said that Russia’s Rosatom will “implement” the $40 billion project, Rosatom said that it has only engaged in a dialogue with Iraq over both energy and non-energy applications of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. South Korea’s KEPCO also denied alleged discussions with Iraqi authorities.
Electricite de France (EDF) announced it will be shutting down its Dungeness B nuclear power station in the U.K. with immediate effect, seven years earlier than planned. The closure of Dungeness means that by 2024, five of the U.K’s eight nuclear power plants (NPPs) will be shut down permanently, with only one new plant, Hinkley Point C) under construction. EDF also admitted that safety issues at Torness in Scotland and Heysham 2 near Lancaster may force both plants to shut before their planned 2030 closure dates, raising further questions about Britain’s ability to meet its clean energy targets.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission approved the construction of China National Nuclear Power’s (CNNP) demonstration ACP100 small modular reactor (SMR) at Changjiang in Hainan province. CNNP’s SMR design passed a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2016, making it the first SMR to do so.
Construction of “the world’s first experimental demonstration power unit featuring a lead-cooled fast neutron reactor” is underway in Siberia. The unit, which is part of Rosatom’s Pilot Demonstration Energy Complex (PDEC), is intended to showcase the utility of the recently developed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel (MNUP) that is hailed as an optimal solution for fast reactors. Rosatom claims the novel fuel will provide a “practically inexhaustible fuel source for nuclear power.” The reactor is expected to enter operation in 2026.
Lithuania launched a legal process to assume control of power interconnections with Belarus as Unit One at the Astravyets NPP starts commercial operation. Since trial operations at the NPP began on November 3, 2020, there have been no commercial power exchanges between the two countries.
The Hungarian government announced its intent to build two new reactors capable of producing 1,200 MW each at its Paks NPP. The two units, which will be constructed by Rosatom, will replace the existing four units and increase the plant’s energy output from 2,000 MW to 2,400 MW.
Austria’s Federal Environmental Agency raised concerns over Hungary’s planned expansion of the Paks II nuclear power station, claiming it is built along an active seismological fault line. The Agency also asserted that the expansion does not comply with Hungary’s authorization process, leveling that the plant’s approval went against available scientific evidence and data. The ministry hopes to have discussions with Hungarian authorities to address the aforementioned issues.
The government of Sakha, a federal Russian republic, approved the installation of a SMR plant to supply energy to regional residents and the Kyuchus gold deposit. The planned unit will have a capacity of at least 55 MW. Construction of the plant is not expected to begin until 2024, and the plant is scheduled to be put into commercial operation in 2028.
On June 8, the National Nuclear Laboratory, the U.K.’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, released its 2021 strategic plan. The strategic plan includes legally binding net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050, recognizing that achieving such a goal requires nuclear energy.
The government of South Korea plans to apply for a preliminary feasibility study for SMRs this fall. This announcement comes after the recent U.S.-South Korea summit in which the two nations agreed to cooperate on nuclear energy development and exports.
Kinetrics, a Canadian company, announced its plans to design, build and operate a collaborative clean energy innovation campus called Helius in Toronto, Ontario. The campus would provide the infrastructure and technical expertise necessary to support the development, demonstration and commercial deployment of SMRs.
The UK Treasury announced the formation of the Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG) to oversee the government’s delivery of a common framework intended to provide clear standards that would establish when investments or financial products can be defined as environmentally sustainable. Part of the GTAG’s work will include incorporating nuclear power into the taxonomy.
The Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII), a Canadian non-profit, launched a new study to evaluate the technical and economic viability of hydrogen production from emissions-free nuclear power. It will also determine the viability of a local pilot project and explore the potential economic impacts in terms of job creation and potential export revenues.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) intensified its efforts to meet its nuclear electricity generation target set by the government under the Energy Security Plan. The Plan calls on PAEC to generate 8,800 MW of electricity by 2030. To meet this target, the PAEC is identifying potential sites for NPPs, and investing in training and education of a skilled workforce. The nation’s six existing nuclear reactors, which are located at two sites, have a gross capacity of 2,530 MW, and a 1,100 MW unit is currently under construction at the Karachi NPP.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The U.S. Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which will invest $250 billion in research and development, education, American manufacturing, space exploration, and a variety of other domains to combat China’s rising economic and political influence. The bill includes a number of provisions pertaining to nuclear energy and technology intended to curb China’s growing nuclear arsenal via strategic cooperation and dialogue and compete with China’s Belt and Road initiatives by providing responsible development alternatives.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm launched the Energy Earthshots Initiative to “accelerate breakthroughs of more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within the decade.” The first ‘Earthshot’ is the Hydrogen Shot, which will strive to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen production from sources like nuclear energy by 80% in order to help America meet its clean energy goals.
The two-unit expansion of the Vogtle NPP in Georgia is facing further delays that are expected to push the commercial operation date of the project back to the summer of 2022. The project is already five years behind schedule and will end up costing double the original expected cost.
Members of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus released a $1.25 trillion infrastructure spending framework. The framework is intended to provide a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure following the collapse of talks between the Biden administration and Senate Republicans and includes $10 billion for nuclear energy and power investments. A bipartisan group of 10 senators also reached a deal on a proposal that would cost $974 billion over five years and focus on upgrading physical infrastructure.
The Fusion Industry Association (FIA) called on Congress to include fusion as part of any infrastructure legislation as talks over the infrastructure package continue. The FIA proposes Congress adopt a $1 billion Milestone-Based Fusion Energy Development Program that would ensure fusion energy is available to the American consumer in the coming decades and secure the U.S.’s role as a leader in fusion technology.
On June 7, the DOE’s Idaho Operations Office announced the start of a 31-day public review period on the final environmental assessment proposal to construct a microreactor at the Idaho National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT). The sodium-potassium-cooled thermal microreactor, known as the Microreactor Applications Research Validation and Evaluation (MARVEL), will produce 100 kW of electricity and be fueled by high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).
A broad coalition of stakeholders in the nuclear energy industry sent a joint letter to the original Senate sponsors and cosponsors of the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA) expressing their support for the bill and urging the Senators to reintroduce and advance the legislation. ANIA would help enable the deployment of nuclear energy at a rapid enough scale to support decarbonization of the U.S. economy.
The People’s Power League filed a motion with the Montana Secretary of State’s office to reverse the passage of House Bill 273, which repealed a 43-year-old bill mandating a statewide vote on any proposed nuclear power facility and was signed into law on May 7, by putting it up as a ballot issue. The League hopes the public will vote to overturn House Bill 273 in order to give the people of Montana a say in nuclear power development in the state.
Centrus Energy Corp announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the company’s request to develop HALEU at a plant in Piketon, Ohio. The company plans to demonstrate the production of the new fuel by early 2022. Experts have expressed concern over the use of HALEU fuel for nuclear power purposes as it could be easier to convert into fissile material, the key component of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
Framatome, a subsidiary of the energy giant EDF, said that officials are investigating a buildup in the concentration of noble gases in the primary circuit of Unit 1 at the Taishan plant it part-owns in China’s Guangdong province. This comes after reporting by CNN that the company wrote to the U.S. DOE warning of an “imminent radiological threat,” accusing Chinese authorities of raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in question to avoid having to shut it down. EDF said that the performance issue in question is accounted for in the reactor’s operating procedures, and Framatome claims that Taishan-1 is operating within safety parameters.
The DOE announced that it will provide $6.4 million in funding for U.S. scientists carrying out seven research projects at the two largest stellarator fusion energy facilities in the world, located in Germany and Japan. Stellarator facilities provide an alternative to the tokamak fusion reactor design that dominates global magnetic fusion research.
A group of Republican senators introduced a bill that would require President Joe Biden to obtain congressional approval for any new nuclear agreement with Iran. The bill, in effect, gives the Senate veto power over any attempt by the Biden administration to reenter the JCPOA. This bill was introduced as Biden administration officials hold indirect talks with the Iranian government in Austria.
The DOE awarded $5 million to the West Virginia University Research Corporation to develop a cost-effective and scalable component for thermal power plants to improve their operation capabilities. The component, known as an additively-manufactured graded composite transition joint (AM-GCTJ), is expected to improve safety and eliminate problems with traditional welds, while helping plants generate more flexible, low-carbon power.
Russia’s Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk, which is affiliated with Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company, began pilot production of uranium-plutonium Remix fuel assemblies (TVS) for VVER-1000 light water reactors (LWRs). Experimental fuel rods and fuel assemblies using Remix fuel will be manufactured according to the TVS-2M design, which is one of the basic designs for VVER-1000 fuel. The Remix fuel comprises a mixture of uranium and plutonium derived from spent nuclear fuel reprocessing.
Noteworthy Research
A report released by the UK’s Clean Energy Ministerial explores the various paths countries and international organizations have taken to reach clean energy goals via nuclear innovation.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum released a new report that finds that annual investment in clean energy in emerging and developing countries (EMDEs) will need to increase sevenfold by 2030 if the world is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. While IEA scenarios dictate that renewable power should account for more than 90 percent of new EMDE generation capacity in the next decade, the report also notes that dispatchable, clean power (including nuclear energy) is critical to integrate the renewable capacity.
The Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, an institute of The Council on Strategic Risks, released ‘The World Climate and Security Report 2021’ was released. The report looks at the security dimensions of a changing climate and effective ways to address them.
Resources for the Future (RFF) released its ‘Global Energy Outlook 2021: Pathways from Paris. The report finds that current trends in energy development and investment fall far short of the levels necessary to meet emissions reduction targets. Consumption and generation of nuclear power are predicted to rise under all four analyzed policy scenarios, but organizational projections for the former range from 1 percent to 85 percent growth.
The University of Manchester Dalton Nuclear Institute released ‘Nuclear Energy for Net Zero: A Strategy for Action.’ The study seeks to address aspects of the UK’s national discussion on nuclear energy which are currently underdeveloped and provides a series of recommendations to help the British nuclear energy sector realize its potential.
The Nuclear Conversation
Korea Times, June 16
Defense News, June 15
Science Mag, June 11
E&E News, June 11
Euronews, June 11
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 10
Nuclear Newswire, June 10
World Nuclear News, June 10
Hogan Lovells New Nuclear, June 9
Eurasia Daily Monitor, June 9
The B1M, June 9
Nation World News, June 8
Utility Dive, June 8
World Nuclear News, June 7
VOA News, June 7
World Nuclear News, June 7
Arms Control Association, June 7
Forbes, June 5
Nuclear Newswire, June 4
The Hill, June 4
Science Direct, June 4
Investors’ Chronicle, June 3
Independent Commodity Intelligence Services, June 3
The Drive, June 3
International Atomic Energy Agency, June 3
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