In this week’s issue, we highlight recent developments in Poland related to small modular reactor development. We also spotlight key announcements and resolutions from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 65th annual General Conference. Finally, we cover the U.S. decision to suspend the shipment of radioactive materials to China.
Commentary to Return in the Next Edition
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security 

The IAEA 65th annual General Conference was held from September 20th to 24th. At the conference, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm issued a statement on behalf of President Biden, highlighting the importance of “fighting COVID-19, confronting the climate crisis, and blunting the existential threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons.” During the conference, the U.S. was selected to host the 5th IAEA International Ministerial Conference in Washington D.C. in October of 2022.
Nuclear Collaborations
The IAEA 65th annual General Conference has adopted several resolutions, including an agreement between North Korea and IAEA detailing North Korea’s compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Other resolutions include IAEA safeguards in the Middle East, staffing the IAEA’s secretariat to include more women in positions of power, and general radiation and nuclear security measures.

Poland has taken several new steps to prepare for nuclear technologies. Polish company KGHM has partnered with American NuScale Power and fellow Polish company Piela Business Engineering (PBE) Molecule to develop small modular reactor (SMR) technology to replace existing coal-based energy sources. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Cameco, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Synthos Green Energy (SGE), and GEH SMR Technologies Canada, Ltd. The companies have agreed to collaborate on the evaluation of a potential Canadian supply chain for a fleet of BMRX-300 SMRs in Poland.  

The White House has released a statement about the growing partnership between the U.S. and India to collaborate on a number of global challenges, such as climate change and Indo-Pacific security. According to the statement, the two nations will work together to follow through with the Westinghouse contract to build six AP-1000 reactors in Kovvada, India. The statement also asserts that the U.S. will “continue joint efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear materials.”

The UK government is currently in talks with American company Westinghouse about a multi-billion pound deal to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Anglesey, Wales. If the deal is approved, then the plant would be operational in the mid-2030s. The creation of this plant would be crucial, as approximately half of the UK’s current plants are set to close in the next few years.

Chinese firm Wison Heavy Industry has signed a contract with Rosatom to help build two Russian floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs). For $226 million, Wison will build the hulls for the FNPPs, which will power the Baimsky mining and processing plant in Russia’s far east region of Chukotka.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an order suspending the shipment of radioactive materials and deuterium, a hydrogen isotope, to China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). The NRC cited national security concerns, determining the order “necessary to further the national security interests of the United States and to enhance the United States’ common defense and security consistent with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.”

British Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson has announced Britain’s commitment to clean energy, including nuclear power, shifting from its current 40% clean energy use for electricity to a total of 100% by 2035. This comes as the PM confirmed that the UK government is having discussions regarding proposals for a new NPP.

Fumio Kishida has won the Liberal Democratic Party’s election for Japan’s new Prime Minister amidst the debates focusing on the future of Japan’s energy supply. PM Kishida looks to continue the previous administration's energy policy towards renewable energy and nuclear power with a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by 2030. 

Czech President Miloš Zeman signed an act into law allowing state-owned companies to purchase electricity from NPPs. The law allows the electricity to be bought at a fixed rate for at least 30 years, with the possibility of extension. 

The South African Cabinet has approved the construction of the Multipurpose Reactor (MPR). MPR will replace Necsa’s Safari-1 research reactor, which is set to be decommissioned in 2030. MPR will be responsible for radioisotope production and expanding research capabilities and outputs. 

The Romanian government has adopted the Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate Change to address five key aspects of energy policy for countries in the European Union. Under this plan, two new CANDU units will be built at the Cernavoda NPP by 2031, doubling Romania’s nuclear power supply. The plan also supports research and development efforts for the nation’s ALFRED lead-cooled fast reactor design. 

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has announced its successful refuelling of the Royal Military College of Canada’s (RMC) SLOWPOKE-2 research reactor. This work was done by CNL’s environmental remediation, engineering, and radiation protection teams, which extended the reactor’s life for another 30 years. 
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
U.S. Company Kairos Power submitted the preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its application of the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor. The demonstration reactor, which is scheduled to be built in Oak Ridge Tennessee, is looking to hire at least 55 people to work on site. 

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has awarded $7 million to be split evenly between South Carolina and New Mexico for workforce development and education programs for Historically Black Colleges & Universities, Hispanic institutions, and tribal colleges & universities, which will help contribute to NNSA’s commitment to a diverse workforce. 

Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts wrote a letter to the Biden Administration, voicing his concerns regarding the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) organizational changes. Senator Markey specifically highlighted the removal of the lead official from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), who is usually responsible for drafting the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review, a crucial aspect of the Administration’s Integrated National Security Strategy. 

Pilgrim NPP in Plymouth, which stopped producing electricity two years ago, is finally removing radioactive fuel from its reactor building, which still maintains a high level of security. This is the latest step in the plant’s decommissioning process. The removed radioactive fuel will safely be stored outside in special steel and cement casks.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies
Researchers at the University of Michigan have demonstrated a new augmented reality technology to advance the development of components for nuclear reactors. The machine is designed to test nuclear reactors’ materials and parts for damage, using real-time image based detection. The augmented reality technology can be programmed with SMART practices, making nuclear operations more efficient. 

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has opened a new fusion research center at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The facility will house many test rigs, including the Combined Heating and Magnetic Research Apparatus (CHIMERA), the only device able to test prototype components that simulate conditions inside a fusion power plant.
Noteworthy Research
The DOD’s Strategic Capabilities Office has released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the construction of the Project Pele mobile microreactor in Idaho. The EIS, per the National Environmental Policy Act, allows for a 45 day public comment period on its release. There will be two public hearings (available via livestream) on October 20th in Idaho for citizens to voice their concerns and opinions.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report to Congress, calling on them to come up with a permanent solution for the commercial use of nuclear fuel. The report addressed four key recommendations, including amending legislation about the reconstruction of the Nuclear Waste Fund and promoting the Department of Energy’s involvement in the development and implementation of an integrated waste system.  

A recent study conducted by Aurora Energy Research addressed the need for both nuclear energy and renewables for hydrogen production. In conjunction, nuclear energy and renewables cut dependency on fossil fuels and facilitate rapid decarbonization, which will allow the UK to become net-zero by 2050. 

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has published a report on how to inform future generations of nuclear waste disposal sites and how to properly handle them. SSM took the findings of a previous project, known as the Preservation of Records, Knowledge, and Memory Across Generations (RK&M) conducted by OECD Nuclear Energy Agency as the basis for its report. SSM reviews the methods proposed by RK&M, so that future generations do not inadvertently affect the final repository. 
The Nuclear Conversation
Financial Times, October 7

Vox, October 5

Wall Street Journal, October 4 

IAEA, October 4

Regina Leader-Post, October 4

The Washington Post, October 3

The Hill, October 2

CNBC, October 2

Atlantic Sentinel, October 2

MZconsultinginc, September 30

Spectator, September 29

The Breakthrough Institute, September 29

Reuters, September 28

The Washington Post, September 28

The Dispatch, September 28

The Hill, September 28

Utility Dive, September 28

Forbes, September 27

IAEA, September 27

Foreign Affairs, September 27

The National Interest, September 26

New York Daily News, September 26

Valley News, September 25

Euractiv, September 23

Morocco World News, September 23

The Washington Post, August 12
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