In this week’s issue, we discuss how nations are rethinking Russian and Chinese nuclear power projects due to national security concerns. We also spotlight the IAEA’s recent conference on nuclear law which covered issues related to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Finally, we highlight nuclear technology, security, and commercial developments.

National Security Ascends as Nuclear Power Priority
The first domino has fallen in the unravelling of Russia’s control of the international nuclear reactor market. Finland has terminated a contract with Russia to build a large new nuclear power plant, pushed over the edge by the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom, stated that the Finnish decision was “absolutely incomprehensible.” However, what’s completely clear is that this is the beginning of loosening Rosatom’s grip on global nuclear exports driven by concerns about national and energy security.
Concurrent with Finland’s decision, the U.K. Prime Minister visited the aging Hartlepool nuclear power station and declared that he wants to build a new nuclear power plant every year in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, including Russian oil and gas. Talks have already taken place with South Korea’s state utility, Korea Electric Power Corporation.
While the reactor-a-year ambition is unrealistic, it is consistent with Britain’s new energy security strategy which proposes to build eight new nuclear plants by 2050. Expanding nuclear energy has been on the agenda in Britain for years, and it previously flirted with a collaboration with China in this effort. That partnership collapsed last summer under the weight of concerns about allowing Chinese state-financed companies to have deep involvement in British strategic infrastructure.
At the heart of this decision are security concerns, including the authoritarian overreach of China’s ruling party in domestic and international affairs, the danger posed by control of a major power source by a foreign nation, and the disconnect between China’s and the U.K.’s humanitarian values. Other European nations also have pushed China and Russia out of their nuclear projects.
These decisions are a clear manifestation that national security has re-emerged as a dominant consideration in global economic and energy thinking. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine crystalized this security primacy.
There now seems to be a building wave of interest in “friendly sourced” technologies. U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, in a recent speech to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, called for reshaping trade relationships and unstable supply chains around, “trusted partners.”
This theme was further amplified in a recent interview with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase and Co., the largest bank in the U.S. His key theme was the centrality of national security in international energy and economic affairs. He stated that, “If I was in the White House the only thing I’d be doing now is national security.” 
He further made the case that a Cold War-like separation of the democratic and authoritarian worlds was occurring around strategic supply chains, noting that “I’d be thinking every day about how we create more secure energy, rare earths, commodities, wheat…to protect the western world.” 
He advocated for democratic nation allies continuing to work together beyond their support for Ukraine to permanently protect global security. He stated that these allies need to coalesce, “not just for military purposes but for global economic, strategic, [and] investment purposes” in order to create a safe world. He noted that in order to establish the new, secure supply lines, the U.S. will have to consider financial subsidies and a form of industrial policy.
There is a hazard in placing too much value on the opinion of one person, but JPMorgan manages about $3 trillion in assets that are distributed around the globe. Its responsibility is to protect and grow those assets. So sometimes it pays to listen to people outside the blinkered political system about what matters and needs to happen in a rapidly evolving international system.
Of course, for the expansion of nuclear energy, one serious challenge posed by pushing Russian and Chinese state-owned nuclear companies to the sidelines on new nuclear projects, is how to finance the building of expensive reactors in market economies. Russia and China have used their cash infusions to gain international market share. Western nation investors have been more hesitant about providing the resources required to expand nuclear energy.
A good approach to solving this problem is contained new legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Risch and Manchin, to reduce China and Russia’s influence in international civil nuclear energy programs.
A key provision of the bill calls for the establishment of a Strategic infrastructure Fund Working Group to determine “how best to structure a Fund to finance projects critical to national security.” The Fund would support rare earth elements and critical minerals, microprocessors, and other strategic investments in addition to civil nuclear technologies. It also expands the role of the Export-import bank and allows allies nation contributions for civil nuclear facilities and goods. It could be used to prepare nations that want nuclear energy, but don’t have experience, to operate the technology safely and securely, a prerequisite for deployment.
One of the many unintended negative consequences for Russia of its invasion of Ukraine is the falling support for its nuclear exports and the rising importance of national security as an energy priority. This opens many opportunities for democratic nations to reassert their role in the international nuclear market. The dawning realization in the financial community that national security and secure supply chains again are paramount could pry open the private-public sector financial collaboration that is needed to support this important global security goal.

Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held a five-day conference in Vienna on nuclear law amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Industry, governmental, and academic experts are delving deep into pressing nuclear legal issues, the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, and the development of small modular reactors that could generate electricity. Of particular concern to IAEA experts is that Russia has placed its nuclear forces on a heightened state of readiness. This IAEA event follows the first ever Agency Conference of the Parties to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in late March, a nuclear security milestone.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports

Following a meeting with EU ambassadors and the commissioner, Germany threw its support behind demands to sanction uranium imports from Russia in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Germany also indicated that it will actively support a complete phaseout of Russian oil. While the European Commission is working on proposals for a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, it is not clear how soon sanctions on Russian nuclear imports to the EU could be imposed.
The IAEA confirmed that a group of eight of Russia’s Rosatom specialists had been sent to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to demand daily reports on confidential issues from its management. The Russians requested reports related to administration and management, maintenance and repair activities, security and access control, and nuclear fuel handling. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia NPP was captured by Russian forces on March 4, and some of the plant’s facilities have been damaged by Russian shelling.
The IAEA is probing a Ukrainian report that a missile had flown directly over a nuclear power station near Yuzhnoukrainsk. IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi added that had such a missile gone astray, it could have had a severe impact on the physical integrity of the plant and even led to a nuclear accident. Ukraine’s government has previously accused Russia of sending rockets directly over Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
To cut its dependence on Russian imported uranium and nuclear fuel, Slovakia is looking to develop domestic uranium. Slovakia currently has two notable uranium deposits in the east part of the country, but citizens of nearby villages will have to agree before mining can begin. Additionally, it will likely take several years to kickstart mining operations as a means of solving the current shortage of nuclear fuel.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima has scrapped its contract for Rosatom to build the planned Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant. Originally approved in 2014, Fennovoima cited repeated delays and risks due to the war in Ukraine as reasons for abandoning the contract.
Despite some European countries choosing to accelerate their nuclear programs in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there are numerous factors that will prevent these reactors from coming online in a timely manner to address the current energy crisis. The majority of Europe’s nuclear power comes from an aging fleet of reactors, and the newer generation of reactors under consideration by countries such as France and the United Kingdom would struggle to come online before 2030. Meanwhile, Germany continues its commitment to decommission its remaining reactors and entirely phase out nuclear energy.
Ukraine has asked the IAEA for a comprehensive list of equipment it needs to operate its nuclear power plants, including radiation measurement devices, protective material, computer-related assistance, and power supply systems. Next week, IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi is due to visit the Chernobyl power station and said that he would hand over radiation monitoring equipment and personal protective equipment. Ukraine has four nuclear power plants connected to the national grid, although two at the Zaporizhzhia facility are still under Russian control.
Russia has severed its gas connections to Bulgaria and Poland after the two countries refused to pay for new shipments in rubles. While the gas continues to flow for the time being, the two countries expect shipments to be halted on short notice. Bulgaria and Poland are now racing to find alternative sources of energy to stabilize their respective economies. Analysts at Goldman Sachs stated that alternatives are likely to be found and the event will only cost “modest physical impact. Further ruptures in the European energy market continue to highlight the role that nuclear energy can play in the coming years.
Nuclear Collaborations
As the United Kingdom looks to build more nuclear power facilities, British business minister Kwasi Kwarteng met with state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) to discuss investment in the British nuclear industry and the potential construction of Korean new-generation nuclear power stations. Talks between the two countries’ officials are ongoing.
The United States and Armenia signed a memorandum of understanding concerning civil nuclear cooperation this week. The MoU will improve cooperation on nuclear energy security and enable the United States to deepen strategic cooperation in connection with the ongoing U.S.-Armenia Strategic Dialogue.
A Russian delegation visited Egypt to inspect the construction work at the Dabaa nuclear power plant. After media reports suggested a delay in the implementation of the plant in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing sanctions. Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) insists that they hope to speed up the plant’s implementation and construct the facility on schedule in order to avoid costs of $2 million for each day of delay. Rosatom and Egypt originally signed the contract to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in 2015, and the Dabaa facility will have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts through four reactors.
Amidst Finland’s push to increase its nuclear energy capacity, its much-delayed Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor is now estimated to begin operation on September 30 instead of the end of July. The date for reaching the full 1.6 GW output at the reactor has been pushed back several times already due to technical setbacks.
The Chinese government has given the green light to the construction of six full-size PWR reactors at three separate sites. Four of these reactors are based on the Westinghouse AP1000 design but have undergone significant indigenization as CAP1000 reactors. Two additional reactors will be China’s Hualong PWRs.
Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) submitted a “technical and price offer” for the construction of six APR-1400 reactors in Poland. The Polish government noted that it has received proposals or offers from three nuclear vendors thus far: KHNP, USA-based Westinghouse, and France’s EDF. Poland’s nuclear program foresees six reactors of between 1-1.5 GWe with the first starting up in 2023 and subsequent ones coming every two years.
As Poland is moving forward with plans to adopt nuclear power, U.S. engineering company Bechtel signed memoranda of understanding with 12 Polish companies for the potential development of two new civil nuclear power plants. The companies provide services ranging from earthwork and infrastructure construction to concrete, tunneling, and electrical installation. Bechtel and Westinghouse Electric Company are jointly preparing a front-end engineering design for the Polish government’s consideration for a three-reactor plant on the Baltic Sea coast using Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors.
Korean company Doosan Enerbility is set to begin manufacturing main equipment for NuScale small modular reactors under a newly signed agreement. Doosan will begin production on forging dies for upper reactor pressure vessels, which are expected to be used in the first commercial development of NuScale’s VOYGR power plant which will be built at the Idaho National Laboratory. The two companies signed an initial business collaboration agreement in 2019 and completed a manufacturability review in 2021, and Doosan will now be working on component prototype development.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
While the European Union looks for ways to sever its dependence on Russian nuclear energy and fuel, French energy supplier EDF confirmed that half of France’s nuclear power plants are currently out of action due to routine maintenance or defects. In the meantime, EDF is forced to buy electricity from the European grid and reduce its expected electricity output for 2023. While nuclear energy usually generates about 70% of France’s electricity, the closures have led critics to raise questions about nuclear energy’s reliability amidst the ongoing energy crisis.
Britain’s Rolls-Royce is taking on hundreds of workers to help the company produce small modular reactors. Rolls-Royce stated that its SMR plans could eventually create 40,000 jobs in the United Kingdom and generate £52 billion in economic benefits when fully operational. The company’s SMR subsidiary hopes to be building power stations by 2029.
As Turkey moves forward with building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, protestors demonstrated in Cyprus to voice their disapproval of the reactor. Opponents to the plant’s construction contend that Akkuyu lies near a seismic fault line and that a potentially powerful earthquake could cause a radioactive leak and affect Cyprus, which is just 60 miles offshore from Akkuyu. The first of Akkuyu’s four reactors is scheduled to become operational next year, with Rosatom constructing the plant and holding a 99.2% stake in the project.
As the United Kingdom continues to deal with the ongoing energy crisis, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vows that a new nuclear power station will be built at Wylfa in Wales. The British government has been in talks with two U.S. firms interested in building a nuclear power plant at Wylfa, but no agreement has been reached yet. A previous plan to build a new power station at Wylfa collapsed back in 2020.
While Japan is struggling with rising fuel prices, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that the country must consider using more nuclear power. Japanese lawmakers have been calling for nuclear reactor restarts to accelerate, and Kishida called for regulations in place to be made more efficient to help the process. Japan imports almost all of its energy needs, and Japan has been dealing with record high prices for liquefied natural gas and coal.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will establish a demonstration hydrogen production project at the High-Temperature Test Reactor (HTTR) in Oarai. The Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) launched a tender in February for a demonstration project for the use of the HTTR for the mass production of hydrogen, with MHI conducting technical studies on hydrogen production using the mechanism and high-temperature gas reactors. Later this year, JAEA and MHI will carry out the conversion, licensing procedure, equipment modification, and testing in stages.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said that the United States is working on a strategy to ensure steady uranium supply and that the country should not be importing nuclear reactor fuel from Russia. The Biden administration previously banned the import of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal in response to the war in Ukraine, but not uranium. The U.S. power industry currently relies on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear plants.
NuScale Power Corporation became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange after merging with the blank check company Spring Valley Acquisition Corporation. It raised $380 million through a deal with the special purpose acquisition company (spac). It’s trading symbol is SMR.
Michigan State University has opened a $730 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) with the goal of studying and exploring all forms of nuclear matter. The facility is now the world’s most powerful heavy-ion accelerator. Meanwhile, more Michigan state lawmakers are mulling expanding beyond Michigan’s existing power stations, and one proposed house bill would commission a feasibility study to be conducted on building nuclear energy in the state.
A spokesperson for California Governor Gavin Newsom stated that California is open to keeping the Diablo Canyon power plant operating and Governor Newsom even encouraged the plant’s owner to apply for funding under a Department of Energy’s $6 billion program designed to keep financially ailing plants in operation. In 2016, California entered a multiparty agreement to close Diablo Canyon’s and eliminate its generation capacity.
A recent audit report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found at least three instances of counterfeit, fraudulent, and suspect items (CFSI) in the United States’ nuclear power plants. The report discussed perceived insufficiencies in the NRC’s existing policies. The NRC will respond by implementing eight improvements to guard against the possibility of future CFSI components from making their way into American nuclear reactors.
In 2021, renewable electricity generation surpassed nuclear generation in the U.S. The increase in the electric power sector's renewable generation mainly came from more wind and solar generation as a result of more wind turbines and utility-scale solar power plants coming online. Nuclear-powered generation has remained relatively stable during the past decade because uprates at existing facilities have offset the retirement of several reactors.
The U.S. Department of Energy stated that it is working on resolving problems at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit in Idaho. The site has had two unanticipated shutdowns so far this year: it ran out of liquid nitrogen in January and then underwent a rapid automatic shutdown while testing with a simulant material in February. The plant was built to treat 900,000 gallons of sodium-bearing radioactive waste from processing spent nuclear fuel, but the DoE is paying fines for missing a deadline to convert the liquid waste into solid material.
The U.S. Department of Energy approved a new method to remove and process used fuel at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. The Accelerated Basin De-Inventory (ABD) mission will allow SRS to process all remaining used nuclear fuel in the L-Basin storage area using conventional processing. The ABD method will convert the dissolved nuclear material to forms that are proliferation resistant and can be safely stored for long periods with minimal maintenance.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
A new analysis underscores that nuclear arms control is being significantly disrupted by the rapid pace of technological advancement. Existing regimes, already under pressure from violations, suspensions, and withdrawals are failing to keep pace with technology trends.
Testimony to the U.K. House of Commons underscored the civil nuclear energy risks from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including cyber security concerns.
Noteworthy Research
The IAEA released its comprehensive report summarizing the situation in Ukraine regarding nuclear safety, security, and safeguards of nuclear facilities and activities involving radioactive sources. The report summarizes relevant aspects of the implementation of safeguards in Ukraine as well as actions taken by the IAEA in response to Ukraine’s request for assistance in re-establishing a sound nuclear safety and security regime for its nuclear facilities. Other topics covered include IAEA technical support and assistance as well as areas of nuclear safety and security that require further assessment.
The IAEA published its first report on the ongoing water discharge plan for Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. The report summarized progress in technical preparations for water discharge and included a summary of the task force’s review of the characteristics of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water. The task force report is the first in a series of reports due to be published as a result of IAEA missions in Japan to assess the water discharge against IAEA safety standards.
A new report from the Idaho National Laboratory titled “Global Market Analysis of Microreactors” identifies potential markets for microreactors in 63 countries and assesses their potential for commercialization between 2030 and 2050. INL states that microreactors can provide power for decades with minimal operating costs and maintenance. In the future, INL hopes that SMR technology and microreactors will provide an essential foundation for the expansion of renewable energy.
The Nuclear Conversation
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.