Nuclear Industry: Vital Russian Uranium

The World Nuclear Industry Report 2022 highlights Russia’s role as a uranium producer and a leader in the international market for new nuclear power plant construction.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spotlights operation of commercial nuclear power plants during all-out war, bombing of commercial reactor facilities, occupation of nuclear facilities by enemy forces, and operation of reactors under physical threat guessedObserve that the world’s nuclear power plants are not designed to operate under these conditions Global Nuclear Industry Status Report 2022 (WNISR 2022).

half of the world’s natural uranium

The report notes that while the war in Ukraine has exposed Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from Russia, little attention has been paid to the extent of its interdependence with Russia’s nuclear sector. About half of the natural uranium imported by the European Union (EU) in 2020 came from Russia and two former Soviet states, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Five days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began and a day after the EU closed its airspace to all Russian aircraft, the Slovak government gave Russian aircraft special permission to bring fresh nuclear fuel assemblies into the country. rice field. Slovakia is operating six of her Russian-designed VVER reactors, producing more than half of its electricity by 2021. Her two additional units, under construction at Mochovce since 1985, are due to start up soon using Russian fuel.
Shipments to Slovakia weren’t the only ones that got an exceptional flight permit for Russian nuclear fuel. In addition to Slovakia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Hungary, it operates VVER and relies on Russian fuel. The only other manufacturer, Westinghouse, has so far supplied his VVER fuel mainly to Ukraine. Ukraine started moving away from Russian fuels a few years ago, but only about half of its 15 reactors have converted to alternative fuels. His other European VVER operators have expressed interest in this option in the past, and that interest has clearly increased over the past six months.

Critical Role of Rosatom

There are many other services provided by the Russian nuclear industry, as well as joint activities with several EU organizations. Rosatom We have been cooperating with the French company EDF for 30 years in many fields.
In 2009 Rosatom acquired the former German nuclear fuel manufacturer Nukem. Nukem now specializes in decommissioning. In December 2021, Rosatom and EDF subsidiary Framatome signed a “long-term cooperation agreement”, and in early 2022, Rosatom subsidiary TVEL acquired a stake in Framatome’s fuel processing plant in Lingen, Germany. was ready to get.
Rosatom would also acquire a 20% stake in Arabelle’s turbine manufacturer GEAST.These turbines generate power for Rosatom’s European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) and VVER plants. Sanctions against Rosatom would deprive EDF’s subsidiary, his GEAST, of a major customer, as Russia dominates a narrow international market for nuclear new construction.

Sensitive sanctions against Russia

The European Parliament explicitly seeks to include the nuclear sector in its sanctions against Russia. Do these commercial interdependencies explain why this call was not followed up?
The occupation by Russian forces of two nuclear facilities, Chernobyl and Zaporizhia, and the involvement of Rosatom personnel in the forced operation of the facilities by Ukrainians raises questions about the relationship between commercial enterprises, both public and private, and Russian state enterprises. there is
It also raises questions about the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency’s executive director, Rafael Mariano Grossi, visited Ukrainian nuclear sites and confirmed Rosatom’s presence in Zaporizhia. While Grossi is pushing for the creation of safe zones around nuclear facilities, his Mikhail Shudakov, former head of Rosatom Enterprises, remains its deputy director and head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Energy Division. .

with the help of the IAEA

The IAEA General Assembly has started on September 26, 2022. An important issue is to clarify the basic conditions for future technical cooperation. Today, Russia is the country with the newest power plant construction projects in the world, many if not most with her IAEA support. It is of utmost importance for the IAEA to clarify the conditions under which Russia, state-owned Rosatom and its many subsidiaries will be considered responsible partners in future nuclear cooperation. Nuclear Industry: Vital Russian Uranium

Back to top button