In this week’s issue, we discuss the scale of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how the U.S. and its allies have responded to China’s expanding economic influence, particularly in developing economies. We also spotlight a CNBC article discussing how the war in Ukraine and climate change are shaping the role of nuclear energy. Finally, we cover the latest nuclear security-related developments occurring in Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion. 
 Western Nation Responses to the Belt and Road Initiative
This graphic depicts the scale of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and compares it to initiatives recently proposed by Western nations as “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent” alternatives to BRI.

There are no existing official figures on the total value of loans and investments made in BRI projects globally. However, the China Global Investment Tracker, published by the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, estimated the value of China’s overseas investment and construction under BRI to $838.04 billion, from when BRI was first announced in 2013 to 2021.

Western allies have been crafting their responses to BRI and China’s expanding economic and geopolitical sphere of influence. As the graphic makes clear, it is unclear whether these counter initiatives can compete with, and become viable alternatives to, the extensive BRI network.

Most recently, in December 2021, the European Union unveiled its Global Gateway Initiative, a €300 billion infrastructure spending plan. The initiative aims to boost EU supply chains and projects in “the digital, climate and energy, transport, health, education and research sectors” across the world.

At COP26 in November 2021, the United Kingdom announced its Clean Green Initiative which will provide over £3 billion in financing to support clean technology and infrastructure projects in developing countries over the next five years.

In June 2021, President Biden and the G7 nations launched the Build Back Better World (B3W) global infrastructure initiative aiming to “narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world.” While no official figure on B3W’s financing capacity has been released, the U.S. has identified approximately 50 projects and will announce details this year. Previously, under the BUILD Act of 2018, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) was highlighted as a leading alternative, with a $60 billion investment cap to support infrastructure projects around the world.

Please note: All monetary values are converted in $USD to scale the graph appropriately.

Daniel Kim, Program Director, Partnership for Global Security

A new CNBC article discusses how the war in Ukraine and climate change are shaping the nuclear industry. In the article, PGS President Ken Luongo provides input on the “sea change” in sentiment about nuclear energy. The article notes that the future of the nuclear power industry is being pushed on both by climate change and security fears prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Right now, it's a "teeter-totter" between these forces.
Nuclear Collaborations
NuScale Power and Dairyland power have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the deployment of NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) technology. La Crosse, Wisconsin-based Dairyland delivers electricity for 24 distribution cooperatives and 17 municipal utilities in four northern states. The MOU signing means the cooperative will explore adding NuScale’s SMR to its generation portfolio.
Bulgaria and Greece have begun bilateral talks for a new nuclear plant (NPP) in Bulgaria to be used by Greece under a 20-year contract. This comes as Bulgaria had announced advanced preparations in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and planned to source alternative energy to maintain the nation’s energy security.
U.S. company TerraPower and Southern Company have agreed to design, construct, and operate the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) in Idaho National Laboratory. This will be the first fast-spectrum salt reactor in the world. The project has been selected for funding by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and is scheduled to reach first criticality in late 2025.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have signed a MOU to work on decarbonization technologies. The partnership will focus on carbon capture technology. In addition, the partnership will explore new nuclear reactor technologies. 
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
Russian military attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear power infrastructure are unprecedented and were condemned the IAEA Board of Governors, with only Russia and China – two of thirty-five nations - voting against the resolution.
Russian military forces have taken control of the Chernobyl NPP. The U.S. has expressed outrage at Russia reportedly taking nuclear plant workers as hostages, as reactor staff could further prevent deterioration of the facilities’ safety. The IAEA claims there has been no further destruction to the remaining power plants or nuclear storage facilities. More recently, Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator stated that the NPP has been disconnected from the nation’s power grid, and no longer has an external electricity supply. The IAEA has called for ‘maximum restraint’ to avoid actions that could put the facilities at further risk.
As Russian forces continue their offensive, Europe’s largest NPP in Zaporizhzhya has come under attack. A fire was reported at the plant after Russian tanks fired on nuclear blocks. catastrophe. All of the safety systems at the plant had been reported safe and the plant had not seen leaks of radioactive material.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi claimed that the developing situation in Ukraine as a whole is of ‘grave concern’. Ukraine has a total of 15 nuclear reactors that are now at risk of sustaining damage. Out of these, six have stopped producing power to the grid. Two Ukrainian nuclear waste sites have sustained damage amid the Russian invasion. Missiles have hit a nuclear waste disposal site in Kyiv, and a similar depot has suffered damage in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.

Significant energy and financial sanctions have been levied against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. However, Hungary has refused to cancel a key NPP construction deal with Russia. And Turkey’s Akkuyu Russian-supplied NPP is still under construction, with Unit 1 now in place. The VVER-1200 is expected to become operational next year.
Due to the precarious situation in Ukraine, Belgium has decided to shift positions on its policy of phasing out nuclear energy. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia also has caused Germany to reassess its planned phaseout of nuclear power, as they assess policy solutions to relieve themselves from dependence on Russian gas.

Construction of the multi-purpose 125 MWe, ACP100 SMR has been underway since July of 2021 after approval from China’s National Development and Reform Commission. On February 28th, the lower body of the containment was put into place. The project is reportedly 42 days ahead of schedule.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has formalized the nation’s position to include nuclear energy in its energy mix, by weighting political, economic, social and environmental objectives. The government stated nuclear energy is a viable option for a stable and reliable source of energy. The Philippines has ongoing discussions with Russia and South Korea on the potential use of small modular reactors (SMR).

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol has vowed to overturn the previous administration's nuclear-phase out policy and develop the nation into a global leader in nuclear technology and the export market. Yoon has vowed to "win orders for more than 10 nuclear power plants from overseas by 2030."
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The U.S. DOE has formulated a plan for American energy independence and security. The United States will begin increasing the availability of minerals such as Neodymium for batteries and are needed components for renewable energy. The U.S. is hoping this will attract a skilled workforce and bring the country closer to its green energy goals. Although Uranium had been removed from the ‘critical materials’ list determined by the U.S. Geological Survey, the DOE may restore its status in a new list.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has reversed its decision to allow three NPPs to run for 80 years. The regulator is now arguing for an environmental survey before the country's longest-running NPPs can continue operation. Many electric companies however have said that nuclear plants remain critical for the transition from fossil fuel energy.
X-Energy has delivered four sets of prototype reactor protection equipment for the Xe-100 SMR. This model is one of the two SMR designs selected by the DOE to receive federal funding under the Advanced Reactor Development Program. X-Energy plans to site four Xe-100s in Washington State by 2027. 
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
Despite objections from legislators, the Kemmerer nuclear plant–to be built in Wyoming–will continue to use Russian uranium. Many Wyoming legislators are arguing for a local uranium solution. This is part of the greater push to remove Russia from U.S. energy. Officials claimed TerraPower could not rely on unstable countries like Russia for advanced reactor fuel, a fact officials recognized even before the Ukraine invasion last week.
Noteworthy Research
IEA, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has published a 10 point plan to reduce the European Union's reliance on Russian gas. The proposed measures, which include maximizing generation from low-emissions sources like nuclear and bioenergy, could bring down Russian gas imports by over one-third while reducing EU emissions. 
The Nuclear Conversation
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