Chapter 4. Nuclear Technologies: Between Security Risks, Sanction Policies and Development Opportunities

April 15, 2024

A stable architecture of global security is unthinkable without a sustainable and controlled regime of nuclear nonproliferation or nuclear security. Regulatory functions are vested in multiple treaties, conventions, and relevant international organizations. The turbulence and uncertainty of the global political climate today have given rise not only to new challenges and threats, but also to new, sometimes unexpected, opportunities. The following analysis offers a closer look at the matter in question.

Nuclear technologies: public good or prohibitive risks?

In December 1942, a team of scientists led by Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist who had immigrated to the United States, successfully completed the first ever controlled nuclear chain reaction, using a uranium-graphite reactor called Chicago Pile 1. The reactor was a crude construction consisting of uranium and graphite blocks stacked up in a pile which suggested the name[1]. In the subsequent historically short period, spanning the lifetime of just one generation, the world saw the development of the first atomic bombs, the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, over 2.000 nuclear weapons tests, and disastrous nuclear accidents at the Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011). But at the same time the new technology has brought about hundreds of nuclear power plants generating electricity and heat around the world, millions of people cured by radiotherapy, and ionizing-radiation sources helping out in space, industry and agriculture. Clearly, there was a very good reason for proposing the Atoms for Peace program that was announced at the United Nations back in 1953 by the US president Dwight Eisenhower and that led to the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1957.

On 26 July 1954, the world’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) with a capacity of 5 MWe was commissioned in Obninsk (USSR) followed by 45 MWe Calder Hall (UK) in 1956 and 67 MWe Shippingport (USA) in 1958. Those projects laid the foundation of a peaceful nuclear industry.

“Today the 410 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries provide approximately 369 gigawatts of installed capacity, supplying some 10% of the world’s electricity and around a quarter of all low-carbon electricity. There are 58 reactors under construction in 31 countries; these are expected to provide about 60 gigawatts of additional capacity”. 

Statement of the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to the Sixty-Seventh Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference
September 25, 2023
Source: IAEA (

In its updated version of the NetZero Roadmap published in 2023, the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that the role of the nuclear power has been revised upwards and expected to reach 916 gigawatts (GW) by 2050[2]. The IAEA’s projection under the optimistic scenario puts the number at 873 GW by 2050 with the nuclear power’s contribution to the electricity mix going up to 14 percent against the current 9.8 percent[3].

What we see today is the second wave of the nuclear renaissance. While in the 1970s and 1980s, new nuclear power reactors were connected to the grid at a rate of up to 30 units every year, in the aftermath of the disastrous meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 many countries revised their nuclear power plans. It took more than ten years for governments to recapture their interest in developing the sector. And that was when the Fukushima accident hit the industry hard in 2011. The future of nuclear power was precariously hung in the balance. Germany, which operated 17 active reactor units at the time, succumbed to the pressure of the green movement and agreed to phase out nuclear generation from its energy balance in favor of alternative power sources (the last three German nuclear power plants were decommissioned in April 2023). And yet, considering the severe political-cum-energy crisis raging throughout Europe, it cannot be ruled out that the nuclear option might be back on the agenda in Germany.

A critical enabler for modern nuclear power development has been its inclusion in Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For a long time, opponents of nuclear energy refused to recognize the obvious environmental benefits of nuclear technology. In 2022, the IAEA announced its Atoms4NetZero initiative at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, and in September 2023, IAEA held the Scientific Forum on Nuclear Innovations for NetZero as part of itsannual General Conference. Over the past decade, the IAEA has supported almost 500 projects related to climate change adaptation in more than 100 countries around the world, investing over 110 million euros in support. Nuclear energy remains the second largest source of low carbon electricity generation globally and has historically avoided the emission of around 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). Renewable energy sources (solar, wind, tidal, etc.) are top-rated performers for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, but they are not without some significant downsides that have become evident with their wide-spread adoption: lack of stability and reliability, dependence on natural factors, environmental changes, limited power output, etc. Of course, it is up to governments to take ultimate choices about the energy mix, but it seems more reasonable to have a balanced energy portfolio rather than persist with the uncompromising either/or approach.

This is exactly the rationale that Rosatom State Corporation has embraced in the recent years by augmenting its traditional nuclear energy business with wind energy projects (the company has already commissioned as many as nine wind farms totaling 1000 MW in such Russian regions as the Stavropol Oblast, Rostov Oblast, and the Republic of Adygea)[4]. By developing its clean energy sector Russia definitely contributes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Sustainable development means going beyond the improvement of living conditions and environment for the people of today in order to provide a comfortable setting for the generations to come. Nuclear technologies, without doubt, play a big role in achieving the SDGs. The IAEA is directly involved in programs to implement nine out of 17 SDGs set out by the UN.

Now back to the nuclear industry. Today, the global NPP construction race is led by China. The last decade saw the Asian giant nearly triple its nuclear power capacity up to 53.18 GW and 55 reactor units[5]. China ranks third in the world by the number of operating nuclear reactors. On this score, the top five nuclear nations are: the United States (93 reactor units), France (56), China (55), Russia (37), and South Korea (26)[6]. Interestingly, the United States took a very long break in building nuclear power facilities from 1996 to 2023 when АР 1000 Vogtle-3 power unitentered into commercial operationfollowing ten years of construction.

Figure 4. The Countries with the Largest Number of Nuclear Reactors. Number of Operational Reactor Units by Country (as of February, 2024).
©Compiled by PIR Center based on PRIS IAEA, 2024

Increasingly more countries obtain nuclear generation capability, with the first national nuclear power plants being constructed or already commissioned in Bangladesh, Belarus (two VVER-1200 units at the Ostrovets NPP, the second unit reaching the designed full capacity in September 2023), Egypt, Türkiye, and the United Arab Emirates (three power units at Barakah NPP became operational back in 2020-2022, the construction of the fourth unit is nearing completion). Europe shows some interest in building new nuclear power plants too. The potential novices include Poland that announced in September 2023 the plans to build its first NPP on the Baltic coast in partnership with America’s Westinghouse and Bechtel consortium, which had contracted to build six АР1000 reactor units with a combined capacity of 9 GW at approximately 25 billion dollars[7]. The stated project cost, however, raises some questions.

Rosatom State Corporation, for example, is building the Akkuyu NPP with four VVER-1200 reactors at 22 billion dollars in Türkiye. The construction of four APR-1400 units at the above-mentioned Barakah NPP in the UAE by South Korea’s KEPCO is estimated at 24 billion dollars. Yet, the costs as well as durations of NPP projects may differ quite significantly. What is invariably the same are the enormous front-end costs, high capital expenditures, and very long payback periods after the sale of generated power (10-30 years). This is where the government sector has a clear advantage over private investors with its ability to bankroll nuclear facility construction with government loans.

Let’s have a closer look at the Rosatom State Corporation’s Akkuyu NPP project in Türkiye which provides an excellent illustration of different approaches to nuclear industry development. From 2010 when Russia and Türkiye signed the intergovernmental agreement to build a nuclear power plant, it took as long as 8 years to obtain the license for building the first power unit and pour the first concrete in its foundation. The project involves simultaneous construction of all the four power units, which is unique for the global nuclear construction industry that commonly follows sequential 1+1 or 2+2 construction process depending on specific projects. In 2023, Rosatom State Corporation brought in nuclear fuel for the first power unit and installed the core catcher at the fourth unit[8]. Fuel loading and the first criticality testing of the first reactor is scheduled for October 2024. The project is carried out under the build-own-operate (BOO) delivery model, also a unique proposition on the global nuclear market. The power plant operator, Akkuyu Nuclear JSC (with Rosatom State Corporation as a major shareholder), will be selling electricity throughout the service life of the reactors, or 60 years with possible extensions, and will charge fixed rates during the first 15 years. The critics of the project point out that the construction is funded by Russia alone and does not involve any financial commitments on the part of Türkiye[9]. Besides, there has been some seismic activity observed in the region.

Making nuclear power more competitive without compromising nuclear safety is a priority objective to safeguard the future of the industry. Another big headache for the nuclear sector is the disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and radioactive waste. SNF is not waste per se as it can be reprocessed to recover over 90 percent of valuable materials that can be reused to establish the so-called closed nuclear fuel cycle. The author took part in the development and adoption of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management and remembers the lively discussion over the importance of not defining spent nuclear fuel as waste. Hence, the awkwardly long title of the convention. The construction of fast-neutron reactors that use MOX fuel is a major step towards the closed fuel cycle (BN-800 at the Beloyarskaya NPP is a case in point).

Sadly, there is no universally accepted technology today for optimized disposal of spent fuel and radioactive waste which only keeps growing with every passing year. Spent nuclear fuel is accumulating in storage at a rate of approximately 7000 tonnes of heavy metal (HM) per year globally, and the stored inventory is around 320 000 t HM[10]. Some proposed disposal solutions include waste vitrification and long-term burial in deep wells and in the mountains that could be later retrieved to recover and reuse valuable components with the help of new technologies (postponed solution).

Decommissioning of nuclear power plants is another Achilles’ heel of the nuclear industry. This is an extremely protracted and expensive process, especially if a nuclear site has to be decommissioned all the way to greenfield status. Nuclear power plants are aging. Overall, 203 reactors have been completely shut down throughout the history of the nuclear sector, but only 21 of them have been fully decommissioned.  Today, the industry is transitioning from the deferred dismantling strategy (which involves reactor defueling after a certain period of time and keeping the facility under control for a long time (decades) until residual radiation goes down to safe levels) to immediate dismantling. The latter takes five years to allow for decay and prepare for dismantling and about 15 years to complete the main decommissioning phase[11].

Figure 5. Nuclear Reactors Life Time.
Source: IAEA

Over the recent years, many industry players stepped up the development of small and medium reactors. Small modular reactors (SMR) are reactors with a power output of 10 to 300 MW. Units with less than 10 MW output are termed micro modular reactors (MMR). According to recent IAEA data, over 80 SMR projects are currently underway in 18 countries. Of course, the SMR concept could not have sprung out of nowhere. Their origins go back to propulsion systems of nuclear submarines and research reactors that provided the basis for modern design ideas. As their name suggests, SMRs are considerably smaller in terms of size, electricity and heat output, and cheaper to build compared with conventional nuclear power plants. Modularity makes it possible to manufacture and assemble the equipment into a single package at the factory and ship it in one piece to its destination. Russia’s floating NPP Akademik Lomonosov with two KLT-40S reactors built by Rosatom State Corporation and stationed in the Arctic port of Pevek in Chukotka is a bright example of such reactor design applications.

SMRs are particularly suited for countries with small power consumption or remote and hard-to-access locations. They allow for longer periods between refueling in comparison with the usual gigawatt reactors. Maintenance and safety costs are also small unlike those of big units. SMR’s do not require construction of many kilometers of power lines to transmit electricity. All of the above-mentioned makes such reactors attractive for private investors. One of the main challenges though is the problem of choosing the appropriate technology concept amid numerous offerings from SMR developers because, apart from the absence of serial production, these are mostly pilot solutions that require extensive trial runs in real-life operating conditions. So, technology performance can be a potential risk. The process to establish a legal and licensing framework for SMRs has only just begun. Furthermore, the reduction in reactor size results in a higher cost of generated power[12].

In reviewing nuclear applications in various sectors of the economy and associated risks of nuclear proliferation it is important to mention the sources of ionizing radiation or radioisotopes. Of the 1700 discovered isotopes about 160 are used in industry, medicine, agriculture, hydrology, and other areas. Space industry widely uses space nuclear power systems for global satellite communications, Earth monitoring and other applications. Pervasiveness and relative accessibility of radioisotopes increase the risk of bad actors using them to build and set off the so-called dirty bomb. Most dangerous in this context are Category 1 radiation sources, namely Cs-137, Co-60, Sr-90, and others.

Safety and security first

Nuclear and radiation safety and security are absolute and unconditional priorities for construction and operation of nuclear facilities and application of nuclear technologies in general. First of all, it is essential to understand the difference between nuclear safety and nuclear security. In Russian, like in some other languages, the terms safety and security can be translated by one word bezopasnost. Nuclear safety is most commonly defined as establishment of necessary operational conditions and prevention or mitigation of accidents that protect staff, communities and the environment against the exposure to excessive radiation. In other words, nuclear safety is a comprehensive combination of design, process engineering, organizational, legal, and environmental solutions that ensure safe management of nuclear and radioactive materials and proper functioning of nuclear facilities. With some simplification, in this case we use safety to mean process and operational safety. The Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents were caused primarily by violations of operational nuclear safety norms.

We will concentrate more on nuclear security, which provoked a rather heated debate concerning the choice of its translation equivalent in the Russian language. Having considered some Russian options that can be roughly translated as preservation/safe-keeping and protection, experts finally agreed on the interpretation of the term security as physical nuclear security (fizicheskaya yadernaya bezopasnost) that is the approved term used in the IAEA and other official documents in Russian. Nuclear security implies prevention and detection of, and response to, theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer, or other malicious acts involving nuclear material and other radioactive substances. Nuclear security and nuclear safety have in common the aim of protecting persons, property, society, and the environment against the effects of radiation. Security measures and safety measures have to be designed and implemented in an integrated manner to develop synergy between these two areas.

Although global community has developed and agreed the measures to establish an international nuclear security regime framework (conventions, the IAEA recommendations, etc.), the responsibility for nuclear security rests entirely with the state, which has to ensure the security of nuclear material, other radioactive materials, associated facilities, and associated activities under its jurisdiction. Each state aims to achieve nuclear security by creating its own nuclear security regime which is appropriate to that state. Besides, this is also required by confidential measures taken to protect nuclear materials and facilities in each state.

Insofar as reasonable and practical, the IAEA recommends the states to apply a set of 12 essential elements of an effective and appropriate nuclear security regime[13]. These are primarily the provisions for the establishment of a legislative and regulatory framework, assigning responsibilities and coordination between competent authorities, the identification and assessment of potential threats and risks, and response to nuclear security events. The recommendations also set out the state’s responsibility for international transportation of nuclear or other radioactive materials and contain provisions for international cooperation and assistance to other countries and international organizations (IAEA, INTERPOL, World Customs Organization (WCO), etc.) in case of emergencies.

Depending on the project, safety, and security costs for a typical NPP with the most widely used PWR 1000 reactors account for about 10-20 percent of the total construction budget. Historically, Russian-designed NPPs with 3+ generation reactor units have been built in conformity with the highest nuclear safety standards, including four barriers (fuel matrix, fuel cladding, main circulation circuit, and containment) and active and passive safety systems that provide reliable radiation protection. Protection systems of modern post-Fukushima nuclear power reactors are robust enough to withstand impacts of earthquakes, floods, and collision with a heavy aircraft, but are not intended for protracted military conflicts. Physical protection systems for nuclear materials and nuclear facilities are based, among other things, on the so-called Design Basis Threat (DBT). IAEA INFCIRC 225. Rev.5 defines DBT as follows: “The attributes and characteristics of potential insider and/or external adversaries, who might attempt unauthorized removal or sabotage, against which a physical protection system is designed and evaluated”[14]. The operator of a nuclear facility must ensure in the course of its operation safe and effective functioning of its physical protection systems, but in case of hostilities or warfare, the responsibility for providing due physical protection shall be born by the state, on which territory the nuclear facility is located.

Attacks on Zaporozhye ZNPP: recklessness or nuclear blackmail?

The crisis that has developed around the Zaporozhye NPP is unprecedented in international practice and absolutely unacceptable. This biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, consisting of six 1000 MW VVER reactors, is located on the left bank of the Dnieper River (Kakhovka Reservoir). It became fully operational in 1984. At that time, ZNPP was the most state-of-the-art and powerful power station built by the USSR’s nuclear industry. In March 2022, the ZNPP was brought by the Russian troops under control and since the referendum in September 2022 it has been under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. An executive order to that effect was signed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. ZNPP is operated by Rosenergoatom JSC, a subsidiary of Rosatom State Corporation. The plant’s staff and citizens of the nearest city of Energodar have made their choice for Russia. At the referendum held in September 2022, over 90 percent of the region’s population voted to join the Russian Federation.

During the year 2023 Russia took all possible steps to keep the ZNPP safe and secure, despite the ongoing shelling and provocations by the Ukrainian forces. The IAEA’s Director General Rafael Grossi and his inspectors who are constantly present at the site have to do some fancy political footwork to keep denying the obvious. Mr. Grossi has more than once claimed that the head of the Kiev regime Vladimir Zelensky had personally promised him not to attack the Zaporozhye NPP.

Nevertheless, on October 8, 2023, Kirill Budanov who heads Ukraine’s military intelligence service admitted that Ukraine’s special forces had made at least three failed attempts to assault and capture the Zaporozhye NPP. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Budanov’s revelations about attacks against ZNPP should become a cold shower for the UN[15]. Moscow has repeatedly warned the EU that the Kiev regime has been blackmailing Europe, using the power station as a potential dirty bomb, whereas the IAEA’s representatives have long claimed that they were unable to determine the direction of the strikes against the plant.

“In August 2022, Ukrainian special operations forces crossed the Kakhovka Reservoir near Energodar using fast-moving boats in order to establish a foothold on the left bank for an attempted assault on the ZNPP. They were forced to retreat. After that, the GUR [Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate] made two more attempts to entrench themselves on the left bank of the Dnieper in order to capture the plant. The later operation involved several hundred personnel, including the commander of the so-called foreign legion Vadim Popik, as well as mercenaries from New Zealand and other foreigners”. 

Head of the GUR Kirill Budanov in an interview for Ukraine’s NV
October 2023
Source: TASS (

In May 2023, speaking at the meeting of the UN Security Council, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi outlined five principles to protect ZNPP[16]. They require that there should be no attacks from or against the plant, no heavy weapons based on its premises, including multiple rocket launchers, and all the critical infrastructure of the ZNPP should be protected from attacks and sabotage. Since the situation around the ZNPP is so dramatic and extraordinary, let us consider possible risks and consequences of hostilities intensification in the area.

The ZNPP has several radiation hazardous sites: dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, isotope storage for radiography, and fuel cooling ponds. The biggest concerns are the possible disruption of on-site power supply and cooling water shortages, although each reactor is backed up with three diesel generators and is complete with a 500 cubic meter clean condensate tank. Of the four overhead power transmission lines only one is operating during intermittent periods. Despite the significant shallowing of the Kakhovka Reservoir following Ukraine’s terrorist attack in August 2023, the cooling tanks are full as the water in them is circulated in a closed loop. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydropower plant led to a massive disaster and widespread flooding of the left-bank Kherson region, but ZNPP and Energodar are located further upstream of the Kakhovka Dam. The containment buildings of VVER-1000 reactor units are designed to survive the impact of a 20 tonnes aircraft.

At the moment, all the six reactors are in cold shutdown with loaded nuclear fuel. The unique design features of Zaporozhye NPP reactors make Chernobyl- or Fukushima-scale accidents very unlikely. As for its nuclear security, physical protection system of the ZNPP need to be reorganized under these force majeure circumstances along the lines that are different from the established practices. There is a higher risk of sabotage, both external and internal which can be perpetrated by insiders as the plant personnel remains largely unchanged.  One also cannot rule out possible cyberattacks by the Kiev regime. Ongoing drone attacks against ZNPP launched by Ukrainian operators almost every day call for the deployment of air defense including electronic warfare systems. Perimeter security is assigned to the National Guard Service of the Russian Federation until the situation has been resolved and gets back to normal.

The situation is now under control but should a loss of containment occur as a result of sabotage or direct artillery strikes damaging a loaded reactor or SNF storage, this could, in the author’s view, entail the pollution of the river system and radioactive soil contamination that could to some extent affect nearby territories.

It should be taken into account that Ukraine currently operates three nuclear power plants: Rovno (2 VVER-440 and 2 VVER-1000 reactors), Khmelnitsky (2 VVER-1000 reactors), and South Ukraine (3 VVER-1000 reactors). There is a possibility, which should not be ruled out, that the Kiev regime may try and use these power plants as a nuclear shield and orchestrate high-profile provocations to put the blame on the Russian forces.

On October 16, 2023, speaking at the meeting of the UN General Assembly First Committee, which deals with disarmament and security issues, Russia’s representative stated that the security personnel of ZNPP neutralizes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) launched by Ukraine almost on a daily basis. He also emphasized that the site of the power plant has never been used to launch any attacks or to deploy any heavy weapons or service ammunition[17]. The actions of the Kiev regime completely fall within the definition of nuclear terrorism. Ukraine’s combat drones attacked the city of Kurchatov near the Kursk NPP, and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that it had prevented the attempts by Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups to prepare sabotage actions at Smolensk and Kursk NPPs[18]. The situation around ZNPP is changing every day, so new stories and developments may have emerged since the writing of this material. Concluding this discussion, it is important to stress again that nuclear blackmailing is unacceptable and criminal behavior.

Sanctions against Russian nuclear industry: tricky choices

The European Union has so far adopted 12 packages of economic sanctions against Russia, including major Russian gas, oil and other energy and transportation companies. Surprisingly though, such state-run corporate giant as Rosatom State Corporation is not on the blacklist. Why? To answer this question, it is necessary to explain that Russia is the world’s leader in building new nuclear power plants in other countries and its contracts clearly stipulate that nuclear fuel is to be supplied by Russia and then returned to the country of origin which eases the plant-operating state’s headache associated with SNF and radioactive waste. Most international construction contracts for nuclear power plants were signed before the Special Military Operation. After February 2022, Finland was the only country that, for political reasons, unilaterally terminated its agreement with Russia to build the Hanhikivi 1 NPP. Finland’s subsequent steps towards fast-track accession to NATO only confirmed the position of Helsinki and its anti-Russian sentiment.

Rosatom State Corporation also holds over 40 percent of the global uranium enrichment market and nearly 17 percent of the nuclear fuel market share. Dozens of countries – and not just those operating Russian/USSR-designed power plants – buy Russian enriched uranium and nuclear fuel. For example, in 2022, the United States alone imported around 550 tonnes of enriched uranium from Russia, whereas France increased its imports of Russian uranium to produce fuel for its own NPPs at the amount of 359 million euros[19]. This is why France, along with Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria vetoes sanctions against the Russian nuclear sector. The European Union has about 110 operating nuclear power reactors, 20 percent of which run on Russian uranium and about 30 percent use the fuel supplied to the European market by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan uranium companies where Rosatom State Corporation is often a shareholder[20]. Clearly, Eastern European countries that still operate Soviet-designed VVER-440 reactors cannot forego Russian fuel, spares, technical maintenance, etc., without compromising on their national energy security, and even less so amid the ongoing pan-European energy crisis.

Besides, let’s not forget that Russia is the biggest producer and exporter of radioisotopes that have wide-ranging applications discussed earlier. Introduction of sanctions against Russian radioisotope producers could immediately lead to the shortages, specifically, of Со-60 or Cs-137 that are extensively used in radiotherapy. It would be hard to explain to cancer patients why their radiation treatment has to be postponed due to sanctions.

However, while the EU is struggling to get its dissenting members be united on the sanctions against Rosatom State Corporation as the above-mentioned countries have a strong case to argue, individual states have imposed unilateral restrictions. Of course, Ukraine was the first to do so. By his executive order of February 5, 2023, Vladimir Zelensky introduced sanctions against 200 Russian companies related to the nuclear industry for a period of 50 years, thus destroying, with a stroke of his pen, all the engineering, economic and research ties that had developed over the previous decades. In April 2023, the US government for the first-time imposed sanctions on Rosatom State Corporation’s affiliates. One of them is Rusatom Overseas Inc. JSC that is focused on global markets promoting Russian centers of nuclear science and technology and hydrogen energy projects. The US has also black-listed Kovrov Mechanical Plant and VPO Tochmash JSC that manufactures unique centrifuges for uranium enrichment. By this move Washington is apparently trying to get rid of potential competitors on the global market. The US sanctions, though, do not affect supplies of Russian uranium to the American market. In other words, it is business as usual.

But there is a silver lining. Ironically, sanctions have unlocked unique opportunities for developing Russian technologies, first of all, such as Russian-made software products to support IT import substitution in the nuclear sector. The design of nuclear power plants and their process control systems require sophisticated engineering calculations, including those to ensure compliance with extra-high nuclear safetystandards. All these complex multi-layer work processes are carried out by supercomputers with specialist software products to match. Starting from 2018, i.e., before the Special Military Operation, Rosatom State Corporationhas been implementing its Digital Import Substitution Program to successfully develop domestic IT products for the nuclear industry.

“Russian engineering capability in construction and maintenance of nuclear power facilities is not just strong but virtually unrivalled in the world”. 

President Vladimir Putin’s Speech at the Russian Energy Week
11 October 2023
(Unofficial translation)
Source: Official Website of the Russian President

Things to remember

Over the eighty years of their history, nuclear technologies have become an integral part of the world civilization. They bring energy, heat and light to millions of people, help to cure diseases, contribute substantially to global sustainable development of and lay down the groundwork for comfortable living for generations to come. Nevertheless, nuclear technologies are a potential source of disasters with devastating consequences. Therefore, nuclear and radiation safety and security is an unconditional priority for the global community as well as individual nations. It is critical to improve modern technologies, reinforce existing and, probably, set up new efficient international institutions and mechanisms to coordinate efforts in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear security.

[1] Акатов А.А., Коряковский Ю.С. Росатом: история и современность. Энциклопедия атомной отрасли. –  М. Росатом, 2015. URL:

[2] Net Zero Roadmap: A Global Pathway to Keep the 1.5 °C Goal in Reach // IEA, 2023. URL:

[3] Nuclear Technology Review 2023 // IAEA, 2023. URL:

[4] NovaWind JSC. URL:

[5] In Operation & Suspended Operation // PRIS IAEA. URL:

[6] Power Reactor Information System // IAEA. URL:

[7] Westinghouse and Bechtel Team Up to Build Poland’s First Nuclear Plant // Power Technology, September 22, 2023. URL:

[8] Official Website of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. URL:

[9] Почему в Турции критикуют российский проект АЭС «Аккую» //, 16 августа 2019 г.

[10] Nuclear Technology Review 2023 // IAEA, 2023. URL:

[11] Росэнергоатом объявил о переходе от «отложенного демонтажа» остановленных атомных энергоблоков на «немедленный демонтаж» // Научно-деловой портал «Атомная энергия 2.0», 23 ноября 2017 г. URL:

[12] Small Modular Reactors: Challenges and Opportunities // OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, 2021.

[13] Objective and Essential Elements of a State’s Nuclear Security Regime / Nuclear Security Fundamentals // IAEA Nuclear Security Series No. 20. URL:

[14] Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Revision 5) // IAEA. URL:

[15] Захарова сочла слова Буданова по ЗАЭС «холодным душем» для ООН // РБК, 9 октября 2023 г. URL:

[16] Глава МАГАТЭ предложил в Совбезе ООН пять принципов защиты Запорожской АЭС // ТАСС, 30 мая 2023 г. URL:

[17] Стало известно о ежедневных атаках БПЛА на Запорожскую АЭС //, 17 октября 2023 г. URL:

[18] В ФСБ раскрыли планы диверсантов по подрыву Смоленской и Курской АЭС // Рамблер, 15 октября 2023 г.URL:

[19] See: France is EU’s first importer of “Russian nuclear products”: study // Euractive, September 19, 2023. URL:

[20] Why EU Sanctions Don’t Include Russian Nuclear Industry // DW, July 19, 2023. URL:

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