In this week’s issue, we examine four critical issues that are instrumental in reshaping the future international order. We spotlight Cameco and Brookfield Renewable’s proposed purchase of Westinghouse Electrical Company and its implications for the global nuclear market. Finally, we highlight key nuclear technology, security, and geopolitical developments, reports, and analyses.
Four New Realities Shaping the Future
New assessments of a world in dramatic transition were delivered this week like lava erupting from an angry volcano. At the center were four key issues - China, Russia, technology, and governance.
The EU, the UK, and the U.S. all presented new analyses of how the world has, and is, changing and what steps need to be taken to effectively shape the future in favor of freedom, openness, security, and prosperity.
The newly minted U.S. National Security Strategy opens with a clear statement from the president that, “We are in the midst of a strategic competition to shape the future of the international order.”
The strategy recognizes that Russia will continue its role as a disrupter of regional security and global stability. But while Russia will be a continuing and serious challenge that needs to be contained, it is not America’s preoccupation.
The major target of the strategy is China – “This strategy recognizes that the PRC presents America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge.”
The core of the struggle with China is over technological superiority. The strategy notes, “Technology is central to today’s geopolitical competition and the future of our national security, economy and democracy.”
At the heart of the technology competition are semiconductors that power today’s high-tech economy. According to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Secretary, one goal is to out-compete the PRC by preserving technological advantages and re-shoring chip manufacturing. At the moment the U.S. is 100% dependent on chips made by Taiwan and South Korea.
But another action this week hints at a harder line approach then just beating China with brain power. The U.S. administration announced new controls on the export of artificial intelligence and semiconductor technologies to China.
This is part of a new U.S. “Modern Industrial and Innovation Strategy,” one that recognizes that “markets alone cannot respond to the raid pace of technological change…[and]…abuses by the PRC.”
But it also is an effort to strangle “with an intent to kill” China’s technological strength and by extension the military, commercial and surveillance applications of its high-tech advances.

This export control action is controversial, and China called it “sci-tech hegemony” by the U.S. that will disadvantage developing economy nations.
However, the U.S. is not alone in its assessment of changing global circumstances and responses. The reclusive head of Britain’s shadowy Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence agency gave a high-profile speech in Australia that identified the current state of the world as in, “a period of generational upheaval.”
A key driver of current and future geopolitical competition, according to his presentation, is the fact that “technology leadership is moving East” and that this has an impact on values, prosperity, and security.
The GCHQ director noted that this technology competition is creating a “moment of reckoning” for democratic nations because along with the battle for technological superiority is the need to control the “standards that govern it.” This is a values fight that must be won by the West, he noted.
These themes were further echoed in a speech this week by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy, but they were made specific to the challenges of Europe.
“[I]t is a world of radical uncertainty,” he noted, where the “black swan will be the majority” and Europe will have to come to grips with the fact that “we have decoupled the sources of our prosperity from the sources of our security.”
He stated that, “Our prosperity has been based on cheap energy coming from Russia…And the access to the big China market.” Both dependencies are now significantly and negatively impacted by the hostile actions of Russia and China.
The High Representative had plenty of criticism for the U.S. including the security uncertainty created by its political divisions and upheavals and the impact that rising interest rates are having on developed and developing economies.
But, at the center of the global transition, he noted, is the “US-China competition…that will restructure the world.” This will coexist besides the “democracies vs. authoritarians” divide.
The restructuring already is being evidenced in the fight to re-write the international rules.
A major theme of the U.S. security strategy is the belief that, “the post-Cold War era is definitely over.” That was a period that sought to integrate post-communist Russia and the emerging economic power of China into an international order created and largely managed by western nations and institutions. That approach has not aged well.
The second big challenge is the need to address cross-border concerns, including climate change, energy security, and nuclear nonproliferation. Solving these issues requires international cooperation but that approach will be tempered by the hard and hostile new realities being presented by China and Russia.
The U.S., EU, and UK analyses underscore four new realities. The world has dramatically changed. The international order is being reshaped. Technology and its governance structures will determine who leads the shaping. It can’t be led by China or Russia.
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

A strategic partnership of Cameco Corporation and Brookfield Renewable Partners seeks to acquire Westinghouse Electrical Company for a total enterprise value of approximately $8 billion. Closing of the transaction is expected in the second half of 2023, subject to certain conditions. This development highlights significant changes in the international nuclear market. First, it is major market-based decision that underscores that nuclear energy increasingly is viewed as a viable global contributor to zero-carbon energy along with renewables. Second, it represents a strategic consolidation that will offer integrated nuclear fuel services from western allies that can compete with, and potentially supplant, Russia’s and China’s offerings. Third, it could be a harbinger of greater cooperation among democratic nation nuclear companies in the growing international reactor market. Fourth, the transaction is in sync with the recently released U.S. National Security Strategy and speeches from the British government and the European Union that highlight the importance of winning the technology competition with China and strengthening energy security by replacing Russia.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
Following Russia’s escalation of attacks against Ukraine, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The talks were arranged as part of efforts to establish a safety and security zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, with Grossi stressing the urgency of the need to implement a protection zone as soon as possible. Grossi had previously met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the issue and plans to meet with Zelenskyy again this week.
As Russia intensifies the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to take control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. However, Ukraine’s Energoatom president Petro Kotin rebuked Russia’s proclamation by announcing that he was taking control of the plant after Zaporizhzhia’s previous director general decided to leave his position. Russia’s move to seize complete control of the power plant comes as Russia seeks to formally annex the Zaporizhzhia region as Russian territory, which has been condemned by Ukraine as an illegal land grab. Additionally, IAEA Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi also described the Zaporizhzhia plant as belonging to Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials are considering whether to restart two reactors at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in order to ensure that its safety equipment remains undamaged and operational. Energoatom president Petro Kotin said the company could decide to restart the reactors before the winter approaches. The move comes nearly a month after Energoatom shut down the plant in order to prevent a potential nuclear disaster.
After being detained by Russian forces, the head of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, has been released. Murashov was arrested by Russian patrols on his way from the nuclear facility last Friday and allegedly blindfolded and detained in an undisclosed location. Following his detainment, Murashov announced he would not resume his role as the director of the plant, with administration being transferred to Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom.
During Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, reports of intimidation and abduction of staff personnel continue to surface. Ukrainian officials say the Russians have sought to intimidate the staff into keeping the plant running through beatings and other abuse. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, about 4,000 Zaporizhzhia plant workers have fled, and more than 1,000 people have been abducted by Russian forces from the nearby city of Enerhodar.
The Russian ship Mikhail Dudin, carrying uranium from the French port of Dunkirk, has traveled across the North Sea to the Russian port of Ust-Luga. This is the third time in just over a month that the Russian vessel docked in Dunkirk to transport uranium fuel to and from Russia, despite protests from local environmental groups such as Greenpeace France. While the European Union has agreed to curtail its use of Russian oil and gas, its member nations continue to import and export nuclear fuel, which is currently not under EU or U.S. sanctions.
As Western governments and utilities seek to reduce their reliance on Russian enriched nuclear fuel, French state-controlled uranium producer Orano SA is considering growing its capacity by almost 50% to enrich radioactive ore into nuclear fuel. The cost of this capacity extension from 7.5 million to 11 million separative work units at the George Besse II nuclear facility is estimated at $1.3 billion. According to Orano SA, the company will need client commitments in order to make a final decision in 2023, which would allow the first part of the extension to be commissioned by 2028.
Nuclear Collaborations
The Czech Republic’s CEZ and Canada’s Ontario Power Generation (OPG) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the deployment of nuclear technology, including small modular reactors (SMR). OPG is planning to deploy an SMR at its Darlington site with the aim of the SMR being operational by the end of the decade. Earlier this year, CEZ said it had allocated space at its Temelin nuclear power plant as a possible site for the country’s first SMR.
The U.S. and Canadian nuclear regulatory agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), signed a charter agreement to harmonize the regulation of small modular reactor technologies. The focus will be on GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 SMR. The agreement comes after the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) previously announced plans to work together to develop and deploy SMRs in the United States and Canada. The new agreement aims to enhance the regulators’ pre-application activities with OPG and TVA.
The U.K. Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) and Tokamak Energy have signed a five-year framework agreement for closer collaboration on developing spherical tokamaks as a route to commercial fusion energy. UKAEA oversees Great Britain’s nuclear fusion program, hosting the world’s largest fusion research facility: Joint European Torus. Both the UKAEA and Tokamak Energy have spherical tokamak devices, with Tokamak Energy expecting to unveil the world’s first high-field spherical tokamak facility in the mid-2020s.
U.S. electric utility Westinghouse and Italian nuclear company Ansaldo Nucleare signed a new cooperation agreement to deploy lead-cooled fast reactors (LFR). The two companies plan to advance a common design, combine experience, and align respective partner and supply chain organizations.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) to convert the Kindai University Teaching and Research Reactor from high-enriched uranium fuel (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU). The agreement also calls for the secure transport of all the facility’s HEU to the United States for either downblending to LEU or disposition. The United States also has helped remove and transport HEU from three other Japanese facilities earlier this year.
This week, the German government failed to approve a draft law to put on reserve two of the country’s last nuclear power plants beyond their planned phase-out due to disagreements within the German cabinet. Monday’s decision was delayed due to objections from the Finance ministry, which viewed that the proposed continued operation of only two nuclear power plants was insufficient. Germany had planned to complete a phase-out of nuclear power by the end of the year, but a collapse in energy supplies from Russia prompted the government to keep two plants on standby until April 2023.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) is expected to face extra liability of nearly $1 billion next year upon reassessing its spent nuclear fuel management costs. The unit cost of managing spent nuclear fuel is estimated to rise by 100% for both light-water and heavy-water reactors in 2023 compared to the unit price applied this year. The upward adjustment is due to a reassessment of spent nuclear management cost, which has not been made by KHNP since 2012.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will build six “next generation” EPR reactors, instructing Electricite de France (EDF) to break ground for the first unit by 2027. The other five EPRs are set to be built over the next decade with all of them completed by 2035. The government estimates that the six reactors will cost $498.8 billion, with EDF promising that the next generation of EPRs will not repeat the cost overruns and schedule delays of the first two EPR units deployed.
In response to the European Union’s new green taxonomy, Austria has filed a challenge against the EU decision to declare nuclear fuel and natural gas as clean energies. Austria says it is seeking to enlist other countries to support its legal action, with Luxembourg confirming it would join Austria. Last November, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Denmark jointly called for nuclear power to be excluded from the rules when the EU was still drafting them.
Strikes by workers in France have reduced power generation at EDF’s nuclear reactors by 1.4 gigawatts and lowered hydropower output by 220 megawatts. Four reactors were affected by the strike, and maintenance work on an additional 11 reactors has been suspended. The strike is part of a larger movement throughout France over wage demands and pensions, with the ongoing strikes potentially disrupting EDF’s plans to return the nuclear fleet from its recent low capacity.
The head of Japan’s nuclear regulator said that a rule that limits the operating life of the country’s nuclear power plants to 60 years is expected to be removed from the country’s regulations. Currently, Japan has legislation limiting nuclear reactors’ service period to 40 years, with a possible extension of 20 years. The potential change is in line with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s goal of extending the lifespan of Japan’s nuclear plants to reduce carbon emissions and provide a stable electricity supply.
A new peer review service was launched by the IAEA at the 66th IAEA General Conference in Vienna in an effort to support countries that face limited resources and capacities for the management of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS). The Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources Technical Centre (DSRS TeC) peer review aims to increase and enlarge the accessible pool of resources and support for sustainable management of DSRS. The DSRS TeC will review the technical proficiencies, operational processes, quality management, and capabilities of a facility at a regional level and beyond.
U.K.-based MoltexFLEX has unveiled its FLEX molten salt reactor, described as an advanced lower-cost nuclear reactor. The reactor will use a system with two molten salts which will allow the reactor’s heat to be extracted through natural convection. MoltexFLEX hopes to have its first reactor operational by 2029.
Energy firms Nuclearelectrica and Nova Power & Gas have launched a joint venture, RoiPower Nuclear, for the development and deployment of small modular reactors in Romania. According to the announcement, RoPower will be tasked with developing a NuScale VOYGR-6 power plant at the site of a former coal-fired plant in Doicesti. RoPower will aim to complete the nuclear power plant within a decade, which will house a total of 462 megawatts electrical nuclear capacity.
In Australia, nine coalition senators moved to introduce a Private Senators Bill that would remove the nation’s nuclear energy ban and promote nuclear power as a safe and low-emission source of energy. The push to overturn the nuclear energy plan is intended to initiate discussions regarding Australia’s future energy supply and nuclear energy’s possible role. The ban on nuclear energy originated in 1998 when the government needed to trade it off to get parliamentary support for the construction of a medical radiation facility.
Finland’s Olkiluoto-3 nuclear reactor has reached full power for the first time. The 1,600-megawatt unit is still in the testing phase, with regular production slated to begin in December of this year. The Olkiluoto nuclear power plant currently provides 40% of Finland’s electricity after imports from Russia were completely cut in May.
The state government of Ontario is considering refurbishing the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, which is currently set to shut down in 2025. Ontario is seeking approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to extend the plant for an additional year, which would give more of a cushion for the generation from new procurements to come online. Pickering Nuclear Generating Station accounted for 14% of Canada’s electricity generation in 2021.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
The heating up of the world’s largest melter for radioactive waste has begun at the Hanford site’s vitrification plant in Washington. The 300-ton melter must now remain hot continuously as it initially makes practice glass and eventually starts glassifying radioactive waste for the first time at the nuclear reservation. The Department of Energy’ goal is to start vitrifying radioactive waste stored in Hanford’s underground tanks by the end of 2023.
The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative awarded vouchers to three businesses to help support siting activities of advanced reactors and the development of a new recycling process for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. The vouchers provide funding to U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories to help businesses overcome critical technological and commercialization challenges. All three companies will gain access to the research capabilities and expertise of Oak Ridge National Laboratory to help advance their projects.
Nuclear waste shipments from Los Alamos National Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Power Plant (WIPP) numbered beyond U.S. Department of Energy goals for the past year. The DoE reported 52 shipments sent from Los Alamos to WIPP in the fiscal year 2022, 73% higher than the DoE’s previous goal of 30 shipments. Ramping up waste removal from Los Alamos comes as the New Mexico Environment Department and state lawmakers have called on the DoE to prioritize the facility for waste disposal.
U.S. Representative Byron Donalds has introduced legislation to help U.S. small businesses engaged or seeking to engage in the research, development, and deployment of advanced reactors. Dubbed the Nuclear Assistance for America’s Small Businesses Act, the bill has 10 fellow Republic cosponsors. The measure would amend the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) to allow small businesses to delay the payment of 50% of the pre-application fees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in New York is set to launch a demonstration project for the production of hydrogen. The U.S. Department of Energy is funding the electrolysis project with $5.8 million in grant money, making the plant the first nuclear hydrogen production facility in the country. Constellation Energy Corp, the owner of the plant, expects that hydrogen production will play an increasingly vital role in the company’s future.
Energy company Vistra announced that it is seeking to extend the operation of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant through 2053, an additional 20 years beyond its original licenses. The company has officially submitted its application for license renewal with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The current licenses for units 1 and 2 extend through 2030 and 2033 respectively.
The U.S. Department of Energy released draft guidance for the second award cycle of the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Project. The DoE is requesting feedback on the draft guidance for the CNC’s second award cycle, which describes the timelines, deliverables, and supporting information needed from eligible owners or operators of nuclear power stations that are projected to shut down.
A Michigan bill directing the state to study whether it could tap into new nuclear technologies is heading to Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The study would consider nuclear energy’s financial and environmental tradeoffs, and how Michigan could build an industry around emerging technologies such as advanced reactors. The study also comes as Michigan continues its push to reopen the Palisades nuclear power plant, which closed in May after its long-term power contract expired.
Noteworthy Research
The most recent World Nuclear Status Report was published for the year 2022. The report paints a detailed picture of reactor construction starts, closures, electricity generation, reactor age distribution, and other trends within the 33 countries that have operating nuclear reactors. The report found that while the amount of electricity generated by nuclear energy has increased 3.9% from last year, nuclear electricity generation is declining in many countries and falling behind other energy sources such as wind and solar power. Last year, nuclear energy’s share of global electricity generation dropped below 10% for the first time in four decades.
The IAEA released its report on climate change and nuclear power. The report includes case studies and contributions from 15 international organizations and experts outlining the potential role of nuclear technology in the global transition to a low carbon future. The report contains analysis of climate risks to existing nuclear sites and the actions that IAEA member states are taking to mitigate them, a regional assessment of the Middle East and Africa, and a discussion on how nuclear-related policies can shape markets and help allocate and share risk associated with nuclear projects. On October 26th, the IAEA will host the fifth International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report suggesting that the Department of Energy needs to improve its transparency in planning for the disposal of certain low-level waste. The report found that although the DoE’s assessments were extensive, they did not give rationales for preferring certain disposal options nor did they make clear what amount of waste would need disposal.
The Nuclear Conversation
News 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.