In this week’s issue, we examine the latest movements in the U.S.-South Korea-Saudi Arabia nuclear relationship and the controversies and opportunities it is creating. We spotlight the recent decision by a U.S. district court to dismiss Westinghouse’s case against Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) regarding the intellectual property of its nuclear reactor designs. Finally, we highlight recent developments in nuclear policy and governance, international collaborations, and geopolitics.
Controversial Advances on Korean and Saudi Civil Nuclear Stalemates
The fractious nuclear energy issues between the U.S, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia seem to be rolling toward potential resolution, but the process is generating concern.
The nuclear cooperation challenges have been both bilateral between the U.S. and each nation and triangular because the Saudi desire for nuclear power likely runs through Seoul and Washington.
The movement is on two fronts. The most prominent is the Biden administration’s push for a Saudi-Israeli peace agreement. The other is the decision of a Washington, D.C. court to dismiss an American corporation’s lawsuit against Korean nuclear companies.
The Saudi-Israeli negotiation is as complex as it is potentially historic. If completed it likely will result in a peace agreement between the two nations, concessions to the Palestinians, U.S. security guarantees to Saudi Arabia, a reduction in Saudi-China high-tech engagement, and U.S. support for the nascent Saudi nuclear power program.
The nuclear energy plan potentially would set new precedents.
China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner and the Kingdom has been in discussions with Beijing regarding its desire to build new nuclear power plants. China’s President Xi visited Riyadh last year to shore up economic and energy ties, including nuclear cooperation. These developments undermine U.S. objectives.
The U.S. also has been discussing civil nuclear cooperation with Riyadh for some time. But those talks have foundered as bilateral relations chilled during the early stages of the Biden administration, and as a result of non-proliferation requirements for cooperation that the Saudi’s have opposed.
The non-proliferation issues center around the U.S. insistence that uranium enrichment is not possessed by the kingdom and that the nation accept the International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards agreement’s Additional Protocol. This allows for more intrusive inspections to assure no nuclear weapons work is occurring.
In a 2008 Bush administration MOU, the Saudi’s agreed “to not pursue sensitive nuclear technologies…in contrast to the actions of Iran” (a reference to uranium enrichment) and to build nuclear power cooperation, “in accordance with evolving International Atomic Energy Agency guidance and standards” (indicating the Additional Protocol).
Under the emerging bilateral peace agreement, the previously frozen U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperation discussions have revived and Saudi Arabia is again requesting U.S. assistance with its nuclear program. 
But the development of this assistance is a very complex and sensitive matter. And its contours will have significant implications for long-standing U.S. non-proliferation standards and the global nuclear order.
Recent reports indicate discussions on whether a Saudi uranium enrichment site could be in-country but under U.S. supervision and security. This is being pitched as part of a potential U.S.-Saudi Nuclear Aramco, a reference to the original 1930’s Arab-American oil partnership with the U.S.’ Standard Oil company. A cautionary note is that what started as a joint oil company ended with Saudi Arabia nationalizing the company in 1980 by purchasing the shares of the participating American corporations in the wake of the 1970’s oil shock.
Because any concrete move to allow Saudi Arabia to control uranium enrichment is a non-proliferation red line, the U.S. national security advisor noted that the administration is “interested in the IAEA’s view” on nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia.
This move perhaps indicates that the U.S. wants the Agency’s strongest safeguards strategy for a potential Saudi-based uranium enrichment program. Alternatively, it could be a probe of the mechanisms by which enrichment equipment could be transferred. Or it could be a search for international political top cover for a controversial idea. For any or all of these explanations, the U.S. will encounter Russian, Chinese, and non-aligned nation interests in the Agency’s decision making.
A further complicating factor is that Iran has effectively argued it has a sovereign right under its non-proliferation commitments to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. This was accepted under the multilateral nuclear constraint agreement, the JCPOA. The Saudi’s are pressing forward the same sovereign rights argument.
The problem is that Iran has used its uranium enrichment to support a nascent nuclear weapons program, including racing to enrich uranium above weapons thresholds after the demise of the JCPOA. And Saudi officials have recently and repeatedly stated that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons it will too. It will not be reassuring if both countries have the capacity to produce weapons grade uranium based on these precedents. 
Mindful of the nuclear weapons potential of uranium enrichment, the Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister recently stated that “we’re not going to agree to any nuclear weapons program with any of our neighbors.”
Surprisingly however, he noted that Israel may accept a Saudi uranium enrichment program, depending on the details, perhaps obliquely referring to U.S. oversight. He remarked that the Saudi’s can go to China “tomorrow” and ask for a domestic enrichment capability as part of a reactor export package. Saudi Arabia has underscored the China option.
As a result of that possibility, the Israeli minister indicated that deep U.S. involvement in a Saudi nuclear program was preferable for the long term to a deal with China.
American officials seem to agree with that assessment. But the situation throws into sharp relief the implications of America’s decline as a nuclear power exporter. China and Russia now offer viable reactor alternatives along with financial sweeteners and potentially dangerous technology supplements. This leaves Washington playing catch-up, navigating a nuclear policy knot, and having to adjudicate its competing strategic interests.
These circumstances further intersect with the nuclear export ambitions of South Korea.
The Korean nuclear industry is well regarded in the Middle East, having effectively constructed four reactors in the UAE. The Korean government is eager to expand its nuclear exports, as the Emirates was its first and last major reactor export deal. Saudi officials have indicated support for Korean nuclear reactors based on the UAE experience.
However, Korean export objectives have led to serious conflict between the major Korean and American nuclear companies, KEPCO/KHNP and Westinghouse, over intellectual property that the American company claims is in the Korean reactor. That would make it subject to U.S. export approval. Because the U.S. does not have an agreement for nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia it would curtail the ability of Korea to send their reactors to Saudi Arabia.
This commercial dispute has dragged on for years, but now seems to have settled on two pathways. One is arbitration between the two companies over the IP issue. The second is a lawsuit by Westinghouse against KEPCO and KHNP. That suit has now been dismissed by the court while the outcome of the arbitration process is not yet determined.
While the legal outcome is likely unwelcome for Westinghouse and it is appealing it, the decision may offer an opening to finally end the IP fight and use the arbitration process to make a deal that would release the Korean reactors from U.S. export oversight.
This could include a Korean IP buyout or related result. Such an outcome would free South Korea to export reactors to Saudi Arabia without U.S. approval but with Washington in a supporting role. It would give South Korea a new market while Westinghouse focuses on Poland and other Central European nation bids, decreasing competition between the companies.
It is unclear how the Saudi-Israel peace agreement will develop but it will have significant nuclear and security implications if successfully concluded along current lines.
Ultimately, it could strengthen the U.S.-Korea-Saudi nuclear energy partnership. And that could prevent China or Russia from creating a new nuclear power colony in the region. It also could reframe U.S. non-proliferation requirements for Saudi Arabia from demanding prohibitions to offering incentives for restraint and transparency. But uranium enrichment is the third rail of nuclear nonproliferation, and if the U.S. grabs it, it will be assuming very significant risk and should be fully prepared for a shock.
Ken Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

A U.S. District Court dismissed Westinghouse’s year-long case against Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco). The court ruled that a private entity does not hold the legal standing for enforcement of U.S. export restrictions. It noted that the authority to enforce export law is delegated exclusively to the U.S. Attorney General. In response, Westinghouse announced that it will appeal this decision. Westinghouse filed a lawsuit against KHNP last year based on an intellectual property dispute that sought to block the company from providing export controlled reactor information to Poland and other countries.
The Impact of the Ukraine Invasion on Nuclear Affairs and Exports
The IAEA warned of a potential threat to nuclear safety as they reported hearing numerous explosions last week at the Zaporizhzhia plant as fighting spiked in the area surrounding the plant. While there was no damage to the plant, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated, “I remain deeply concerned about the possible dangers facing the plant at this time of heightened military tension in the region.” The IAEA has continually expressed concerns that the fighting could cause a potential radiation leak from the plant, one of the world’s largest nuclear power stations.
Nuclear Collaborations
Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar says that talks between Turkey and China are nearing a deal for the construction of a nuclear power plant in eastern Thrace and may be finalized in a few months. The Vice Administrator of China’s National Energy Administration He Yang and State Power Investment Corporation Senior Vice President Lu Haongzao were among the senior officials from the Chinese government. This newest deal is part of Turkey’s ambitious nuclear program to produce 20GWe in the future. Russia is already building a power plant in Akkuyu, and talks are ongoing with both Russia and South Korea for a second plant in Sinop.

Westinghouse’s CEO Patrick Fragman and the president of Ukraine’s Energoatom Petro Kotin signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) concerning the development and deployment of AP300 small modular reactors (SMR) in Ukraine. This MoU follows a previous agreement between the two parties for the construction of nine AP1000 units in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said, “Ukraine has every prospect of becoming one of the clean energy leaders and increasing nuclear generation capacity both through the construction of new high-capacity power units and through the installation of SMRs.”

South Korean company Hyundai Engineering & Construction (HEC) has signed numerous agreements with Polish Institutions and construction companies to access the country’s nuclear power and infrastructure markets. HEC is also establishing an office in Warsaw to create a “bridgehead” to enter other Eastern European markets. On September 12, HEC signed a business agreement for new nuclear business with the Polish Association of Construction Employers (PZPB), and the two companies plan to seek active cooperation measures to discover new nuclear power plant projects.

Canada and Romania signed a $3 billion export development deal that will see two new nuclear reactors built in Romania. The two new reactors will join two existing Candu reactors at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant. Romania is looking to develop its nuclear relationships with more countries in order to reduce its dependence on Russian nuclear fuel and technology.

French nuclear utility Framatome and Hungary’s Ministry of Energy agreed to strengthen their relationship in the field of nuclear energy, including in such areas as fuel supply, research and development, and implementation of new technologies. Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana stated that the memorandum confirms the utility’s commitment to contribute to the diversification and security of fuel supply for the existing European nuclear fleet. Hungary currently operates the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, which houses four Russian-supplied pressurized water reactors.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and ORLEN Synthos Green Energy (OSGE) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the decarbonization of the Polish and European power sectors by looking into opportunities to invest in small modular reactors (SMR). The MoU aims to provide both parties with an enabling framework for developing SMRs based on GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 SMR technology. ENEC and OSGE will also work together to identify other specific areas of mutual cooperation.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) signed a project development agreement with the government of Laos to develop a renewable energy base in the north of the country. The base will include wind, solar, hydro and energy storage capabilities that will feed into an existing power line, which transfers power generated in Laos to China’s Yunnan province with a second planned 500 kV power line planned. Laos is a member of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and has already hosted numerous significant infrastructure investments, with energy exports to China forming a key part of the nation’s developmental strategy.

Energoatom has sent its first batch of Ukrainian-mined uranium to Canada where it will be converted into natural uranium hexafluoride as part of the company’s agreement with Cameco. This is part of the fulfillment of a series of bilateral contracts signed between Energoatom and Cameco earlier this year. Energoatom President Petro Kotin said the agreement provides for the supply of the entire volume of uranium mined at the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant.

Energoatom President Petro Kotin and ConverDyn President Malcolm Critchley signed a confidentiality agreement (CA) and memorandum of understanding (MoU) relating to the conversion of uranium, which the Ukrainian company will help the country towards a complete fuel cycle. Kotin said that the cooperation has opened an additional opportunity to provide additional services for uranium conversion and diversification of its supply. Additionally, the future cooperation with ConverDyn includes the construction of a plant for the conversion of mined uranium into uranium hexafluoride (UF6).

Indonesian power company Pertamina NRE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Denmark’s Seaborg to investigate the deployment of Seaborg’s compact molten salt reactor (CMSR) Power Barge in Indonesia. Pertamina NRE and Seaborg will use the assessment to scope an initial project where the commercial deployment of the CMSR Power Barge is feasible and commercially viable. Followed by the initial project results, potential follow-up projects will be considered.
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The United States and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a deal for Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel in exchange for helping Saudi Arabia develop a civilian nuclear power program with uranium enrichment on Saudi soil. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed top Israeli officials to cooperate with U.S. negotiators as they try to reach a compromise. While neither the United States nor Israel has so far agreed on a plan that would allow uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia, doing so would represent a reversal in decades of policy in both countries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed that his country would seek to acquire a nuclear arsenal if Iran developed one. This statement adds doubts on a potential U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperation deal that is currently under negotiation. While the Biden administration currently seeks to ensure that Saudi Arabia cannot achieve uranium enrichment as a result of a deal, Saudi Arabia has asked for a deal which would not contain the tough non-proliferation restrictions that normally accompany nuclear cooperation agreements.

At the current rate of nuclear deployment, China is projected to surpass the United States as the world’s largest nuclear power producer within the next decade. The United States currently leads the world in nuclear power production with a 30.3% global share, while China is second with a 15.6% share. However, China’s 10-Year annual growth rate is currently at 15.6% while the United States’ growth rate is near 0.

The South Korean government is offering a comprehensive support program worth up to 400 million won ($300,639) annually to local nuclear companies with the aim of fostering 60 new nuclear equipment exporters by 2027. Through the program, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy aims to help smaller companies contribute to South Korea’s nuclear technology export plans. The current government hopes to export 10 Korean-designed nuclear power plants by 2027.

Ukraine has loaded the first Westinghouse designed fuel into Ukraine’s Rivne Nuclear Power Plant. Westinghouse and Energoatom signed a nuclear fuel contract in 2020 as part of Ukraine’s efforts to diversify its fuel supplies away from Russia. Rivne units 1 and 2 are Russian-designed VVER-440 models, with Ukraine switching to Westinghouse fuel permanently following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Indian officials revealed the country’s dedicated efforts to deploy small modular reactors (SMR) following the G20 summit’s Delhi Declaration. The Delhi Declaration highlighted the importance of advanced nuclear technology and the design and development of SMRs and underscores that countries will collaborate in research, innovation, development, and deployment of novel civil nuclear technologies.

The IAEA wrapped up its Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission to Poland, hosted by the country’s National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA). The review team determined that Poland’s nuclear regulatory framework is in line with IAEA safety standards and its regulatory body is competent and prepared for the launch of the country’s nuclear power program. The IRRS team concluded that the main challenge in Poland was to implement robust measures to ensure that the PAA is effectively independent and continues to be properly resourced.

The United Kingdom government announced plans to support its homegrown UK Fusion Strategy by investing up to £650 million ($811.8 million) through 2027 in a suite of research and development programs to support the country’s fusion sector and strengthen international cooperation. The new research and development package would include new facilities to support fusion fuel cycle capabilities and innovation, a “fusion skills” package to develop skills and capacity, and other measures to accelerate commercial fusion energy. This announcement follows the U.K. government’s decision not to associate with the Euratom Research and Training program or the Fusion for Energy program.

The United Kingdom has opened the search for private investment in the Sizewell C nuclear project, inviting potential investors to register their interest. The British government announced last year that it would support Sizewell C with around $895 million while taking a 50% stake during its development phase. The Sizewell C Nuclear Power Plant was originally approved in 2022, and is currently being built by Électricité de France (EDF).

The IAEA reported that its independent sampling and analysis of water near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant shows that the tritium levels have remained below Japan’s operational limit. The contaminated water is being treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALP) which has more than 1,000 tanks on site. The IAEA will continue to have a presence on site for as long as the treated water is being released.

The Iranian government has informed the IAEA of its decision to withdraw the designation of several experienced IAEA inspectors assigned to conduct verification activities in Iran under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Safeguards Agreement. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi strongly condemned the unprecedented measure and blow to an already strained relationship between the IAEA and Iran. A spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry blamed the E3 and the United States for using the IAEA Board of Governors to ruin the atmosphere of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA.

According to Australian Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen, replacing Australia’s coal-fired power stations with small modular nuclear power reactors would cost A$387 billion ($249 billion). Further adding that Australia would need 71 SMRs to replace the 21 gigawatts of coal-fired power, Bowen stated that the high cost makes any transition from coal to nuclear unfeasible. Australia has banned nuclear power development since passing the Nuclear Activities Prohibition Act in 1983.

South Korea completed the loading of fuel at unit 2 of the Shin Hanul Nuclear Power Plant. The company will now conduct reactor physics and systems testing to confirm the operation and safety of essential facilities under normal operating temperature and pressure conditions. The unit is expected to enter commercial operation in about six months’ time following the completion of test runs.

European Union lawmakers will allow nuclear power to be used for ammonia and hydrogen production in order to pass new legally binding targets to expand renewable energy development in the European Union. France’s nuclear power sector is a key beneficiary of the allowances made by lawmakers as part of the deal. As a result, France’s nuclear plants can produce and market hydrogen that may be used by industry as a replacement for fossil fuels.

The price for “yellowcake” has jumped about 12% to $65.50 per pound over the past month, breaching last year’s peak and reaching heights not seen since 2011. This milestone for uranium prices marks a big step towards nuclear power’s re-emergence as a critical carbon-free source of power. Uranium demand has risen due to governments seeking energy independence by extending the lifetime of the existing fleet of nuclear reactors.

Orano provided updates regarding its uranium enrichment plans and the ongoing political crisis in Niger. Orano revealed plans to extend enrichment capacity at its Georges Besse II uranium enrichment plant in France, and has also begun the regulatory process to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) there. Additionally, Orano confirmed it is reorganizing its work at its Niger facilities to mitigate the impacts from the recent military coup.

Rwanda will build a test nuclear reactor using a novel technology under an agreement between Rwanda’s government and Dual Fluid Energy Inc. The reactor will use a technique using liquid fuel and a lead coolant, which will produce less radioactive waste. The demonstration reactor is expected to be operational by 2026 and subsequent testing of the Dual Fluid technology is to be completed by 2028.

Germany plans to invest more than €1 billion ($1.07 billion) in fusion research over the next five years. Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger stated that a fusion reactor should become a reality in Germany as quickly as possible. Stark-Watzinger also announced a new program worth €370 million to strengthen fusion activities underway at the Institute for Plasma Physics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology until 2028.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will begin receiving applications for nuclear safety inspections of aged reactors ahead of the country’s new nuclear safety regulations that will take effect in June 2025. Under the new rule, all of the country’s reactors that will be operating for or beyond 30 years as of June 2025 will need to secure approval from the NRA for safety plans in advance. Nuclear power operators will have to obtain such permission every 10 years or less after their 30-year operating period is over.

An IAEA team of experts completed its follow-up review of long-term safety at the Ascó Nuclear Power Plant in Spain. The team reviewed the plant’s response to recommendations and suggestions made during the Safety Aspects of Long-Term Operation (SALTO) mission in 2021. The review team concluded that 12 of the 14 recommendations have been resolved by ANAV with work to be done on the resistance of electrical components and the management of the plant’s structural elements.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated that member states of the IAEA owe more than €200 million ($214 million) and that unless the payments are made, the IAEA will run out of money in a month’s time. In addition to addressing the urgent financial situation, governors were also briefed on the IAEA’s ongoing work in Fukushima, Ukraine, and Iran.

UK-headquartered MoltexFLEX says that a reevaluation of certain aspects of its FLEX molten salt reactor (MSR) design has led to a refinement of the design, which yielded a 50% boost in power output while maintaining previous targets for overnight capital cost and cost per MWh. The FLEX MSR is a small modular reactor design with an initial design output of 40MWth/16MWe, but, with the reevaluation, will now have an output of 60MWth/24MWe. According to MoltexFLEX, the underlying technology remained largely unchanged, but the design evolutions represent significant improvements.

British scientists have developed miniature, seed-sized nuclear fuel cells that could power flower-shaped reactors on the moon as soon as 2030. Developed by researchers at the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University in Wales, the new fuel cells are approximately the size of poppy seeds and are a type of tri-structural isotropic particle (TRISO) fuel. The cells are designed to power the Space Flower Micro Reactor, a conceptual car-sized fusion reactor designed by Rolls-Royce, and a leading candidate to power future moon bases as part of NASA’s Artemis Program.
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
While speaking at the Nuclear Energy Policy Summit 2023 in New York, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry stated that nuclear power will be essential for the world to accelerate its transition away from fossil fuels. Kerry reiterated the United States’ commitment to trying to accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy. Kerry also praised the recent Net Zero Nuclear Initiative, which was launched in early September.

The Department of Defense awarded a contract option to X-energy to develop an enhanced engineering design for a transportable microreactor suitable for both commercial and defense use under the Project Pele initiative. The second design complements the prototype microreactor currently being built by BWXT. Project Pele was launched in 2019 with the objective to develop a prototype mobile nuclear reactor, with the Department of Defense selecting BWXT and X-energy to develop a final design for the reactor.

Wolverine Power Cooperative signed an agreement with Holtec’s Palisades Energy LLC to purchase power to reopen the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant. Wolverine Power is committing to purchase up to two-thirds of the carbon-free power generated by the Palisades plant, and the agreement also contains a contract expansion provision to include up to two small modular reactors that Holtec intends to build and commission at the site. While the Palisades nuclear plant was decommissioned in 2022, Holtec is in the process of getting a federal loan approved by the Department of Energy to re-power the plant.

The Wyoming Energy Authority has contracted BWXT to assess the viability of deploying microreactors in the state of Wyoming. During phase one of the contract, BWXT will work with Wyoming industries to define the requirements basis for nuclear applications of base heat and power needs of the trona mining operations within the state, with BWXT also performing engineering work to further the design of BWXT’s Advanced Nuclear Reactor (BANR) microreactor system. Phase two will entail BWXT furthering the design basis of BANR to meet the specific needs of potential Wyoming end users.

Constellation Energy announced an hourly matching agreement that will see utility ComEd power all of its 54 offices and metered facilities with locally produced nuclear energy. The agreement means ComEd will be able to power its facilities with 100% clean energy produced at the same time and place it is consumed. The ComEd agreement follows a similar hourly-matching agreement between Constellation and Microsoft to power one of Microsoft’s data centers with nearly 100% nuclear energy.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released for public comment a draft site-specific environmental impact statement (EIS) concerning subsequent license renewal for the two reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Florida. The EIS’s preliminary conclusion is that any environmental impacts from the continued operation of the units for a period of 20 years beyond their current expiration date are not great enough that the option of license renewal would be unreasonable.

Representatives from Duke Energy met with South Carolina’s Public Service Commission to discuss the state’s increasing demand for power and how they plan to meet it. Congressman Jeff Duncan suggested that the two sides are looking at nuclear power to meet this demand, specifically by deploying small modular reactors (SMR). Duke Energy is already submitting the paperwork to build an SMR in North Carolina.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to review the Carbon Free Power Project’s application to begin early construction activities for one of the nation’s first small modular reactor (SMR) projects. If approved, the company can start pushing dirt at its proposed site in Idaho to build a six-module SMR project using NuScale Power’s technology. The first power module is expected to be operational by 2029.

The LENOWISCO Planning Commission is deep into the research phase investigating the possibility of Southwest Virginia becoming home to small modular reactors. Dominion Engineering assessed the feasibility of seven sites in Southwest Virginia and found all 7 to be viable. The commission’s goal is to fully evaluate the sites and present all viable options to energy companies interested in investing and start a supply chain study.

According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), California must leave all options on the table, including nuclear power, as it transitions to a clean-powered economy by 2024. CARB Chair Liane Randolph stated that California shouldn’t prematurely cross anything off the list in response to a question about whether she supports keeping nuclear power as part of California’s energy mix. California currently operates one nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon, but it is currently scheduled to be decommissioned in 2030.
Noteworthy Research
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy and the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center submitted a letter to the Biden administration to demand that any U.S.-Saudi nuclear deal abide by proper nonproliferation standards and prevent Saudi Arabia from being able to enrich uranium. The letter also calls on the U.S. President to require Saudi Arabia to agree to IAEA nuclear inspections under an Additional Protocol. The two organizations state that these requirements are identical to the ones that the Bush and Obama administrations secured from the United Arab Emirates.

Polish think tank Forum Energii released a report documenting European Union countries’ imports of Russian nuclear industry products between 2021 and 2022. The report found that EU countries imported Russian nuclear products worth €720 million, 22% more than in 2021. France was the leading importer of Russian nuclear industry products in 2022, with its imports jumping more than 250% compared to 2021. Despite recent efforts by the European Union to drastically reduce importing goods from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, this report highlights these countries’ ongoing dependence on Russian nuclear fuel and technology.

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) published a report forecasting the rising demand for uranium and the necessary growth in nuclear capacity to meet global climate change goals. The WNA report found that demand for uranium is expected to climb 28% by 2030 and nearly double by 2040. Additionally, the same report states that nuclear capacity is expected to rise by 14% by 2030 and surge 76% by 2040. These trends are a result of governments planning to ramp up nuclear power capacity to meet zero-carbon targets.
The Nuclear Conversation
News items and summaries compiled by:

Patrick Kendall, Program Manager, Partnership for Global Security

Michael Sway, 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.