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The Rosatom Exemption: How Russia’s State-Run Nuclear Giant Has Escaped Sanctions

The French nuclear conglomerate Framatome has so far refused to end its cooperation with Rosatom. In December 2021, Rosatom and Framatome announced the signing of a “strategic cooperation” agreement to expand efforts to develop nuclear fuel and technologies.

And while more than 1,000 Western firms have either suspended or ended operations in Russia due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Framatome doesn’t appear ready to join them. 15 June 22, Europe has grappled with how to end its Russian energy addiction more than ever since Vladimir Putin launched his country’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The executive body of the 27-nation European Union agreed a plan in May to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas by two-thirds by the end of the year, with a total phaseout of all Russian fossil fuel planned by the end of 2027. Coal, already on the outs in much of the bloc, will be banned by August.

But absent from sanctions, let alone discussion, is Rosatom, the Russian state-run nuclear power giant, despite a written appeal in the early days of the invasion from Ukrainian activists and NGOs to blacklist the company and ban nuclear fuel imported from Russia.

Brussels is not alone. When U.S. President Joe Biden announced a U.S. ban on Russian oil, natural gas, and coal imports in March, there was no mention of Rosatom. The Biden administration reportedly considered sanctioning Rosatom but backed off after nuclear industry lobbying and Biden’s plans to include nuclear power as part of the transition to clean energy, Reuters reported.

Rosatom’s footprint is deep in the global reactor and nuclear fuel business. That type of economic sway may explain why Russia’s nuclear industry “has managed to stay out of the limelight” during talk of sanctions, explained Oksana Ananyeva, an energy-policy analyst at the Ukrainian NGO Ekodia, one of the signatories of the March appeal addressed to Biden and EU leaders.

“One of the reasons for that is certainly the heavy reliance on uranium and nuclear fuel as most of the 32 countries that use nuclear power rely on Russia for some part of their nuclear fuel supply chain,” Ananyeva told RFE/RL.

The Numbers

Russian nuclear power radiates far beyond its borders. Of the 439 nuclear reactors in operation around the world in 2021, 38 of them were in Russia, an additional 42 were made with Russian nuclear reactor technology, and 15 more under construction were being built with Russian technology, according to a study published on May 23 at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Russia is also a source of uranium, the key ingredient in nuclear fuel. Europe gets some 20 percent of its uranium from Russia. The United States relies on Russia for 16 percent of its uranium, with another 30 percent from two of Moscow’s close partners, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Russia owned 40 percent of the total uranium conversion infrastructure in the world in 2020 and 46 percent of the total uranium enrichment capacity in the world in 2018, according to the Columbia University report.

An EU Rethink On Nuclear Power?

In recent years, Rosatom is reported to have been part of nuclear-power industry lobby efforts to convince the EU to embrace nuclear as the bloc considers how to move faster to cleaner forms of power. According to Greenpeace, new EU nuclear capacity could be worth an estimated 500 billion euros ($521 billion) of potential investment.

The EU is scrambling to meet a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 to prevent catastrophic global warming. Part of that process is defining what is and what isn’t a climate-friendly investment. Leaders in Brussels are seeking approval from EU countries and the European Parliament to include nuclear energy as a sustainable investment in its “taxonomy” policy for labeling green investments.

Rosatom has been accused by Greenpeace of using lobbying connections, which the environmental NGO describes as “reminiscent of nesting Russian dolls,” to press for the inclusion of nuclear energy in the taxonomy of sustainable investments, much like Russian energy firms Gazprom and LUKoil have done to include fossil gas.

In a report released on May 17, Greenpeace said its research had uncovered that Russian energy companies, including Gazprom, had met with EU commissioners and senior officials either directly or through subsidiaries and lobby groups at least 18 times since the European Commission published its action plan on sustainable finance in March 2018.

Beyond fuel, Rosatom is hoping to build new nuclear reactors, which are the core of its business. Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil, has voiced opposition to proposed EU bans on Russian energy. It also has plans with Rosatom to build new reactors at its Paks nuclear power plant.

After meeting Rosatom’s chief executive in Istanbul on May 5, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement that the planned construction of the two new blocks at Paks served Hungary’s strategic interests.

Szijjarto said the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority was reviewing the requests for permits submitted by Rosatom and once these are approved the project could enter its next phase.

The project, awarded in 2014 without a tender to Rosatom but plagued by delays, has often been cited as a sign of warm ties between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Putin.

While Hungary appears to be going ahead, Finland has announced it is pulling out from its planned reactor project with Rosatom. On May 2, the Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima said it had scrapped a contract with Rosatom citing delays and increased risks due to the war in Ukraine.

Rosatom, which owns a 34 percent stake in the consortium through a Finnish subsidiary, said on May 6 that it will demand compensation for the “unlawful termination” of the contract.

Europe’s Dependence

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June 16, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

New documentary shows Soviet disinformation over the true horror of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown

On April 26, 1986, the core of the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear
Power Plant near Pripyat melted down, causing a nuclear accident that
released airborne radioactive contamination for about nine days in what is
still classified as the worst nuclear disaster in history, both in cost and

Stories around the Chernobyl disaster have been told time and
time again, most notably in the critically-acclaimed HBO limited series

Now, HBO is returning with yet another Chernobyl project, but
this time without the dramatization. As part of HBO Documentary films,
Emmy-winning filmmaker James Jones (“Mosul”) is debuting his film
“Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes.” Thirty-six years after the initial disaster,
“Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes” presents recently uncovered archival footage
and recorded interviews with those who were present during the disaster and
subsequent fall out, as a means to show the reality of just how horrific
the Chernobyl disaster actually was, and the deplorable lengths the Soviet
government went in an attempt to cover up what really happened.

It’s estimated that over 200,000 people died as a result of the Chernobyl
disaster, but the official Soviet count lists it only as 31. The Soviet’s
mishandling of the crisis utilized misinformation and distortion tactics
still used today, led citizens to greatly distrust authorities, and
contributed to the end of the Soviet Union. According to the official press
release, “Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes” is the “full, unvarnished true story
of what happened in one of the least understood tragedies of the twentieth

 Slash Film 3rd June 2022

June 6, 2022 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Russia Withdraws From Nuclear Arctic Safety Program with Norway, Amid Safety Concerns

Russia has announced its withdrawal from a nuclear safety program in the
Arctic region, furthering concerns experts have raised about a new period
of heightened nuclear risks. On Tuesday, representatives of Russian state
nuclear agency Rosatom said Norway would no longer be welcome to
participate in radiation safety projects the Nordic country had helped

The move closes nearly three decades of a bilateral partnership to
deal with nuclear safety in the aftermath of the Cold War. The announcement
has been seen as Moscow’s direct response to Norway’s recent decision to
freeze funding to the high-level joint commission after the invasion of
Ukraine. Norway has provided Russia with more than 2 billion euros to help
secure radioactive dumpsites and improve safety at power plants.

 Newsweek 2nd June 2022

June 4, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Energy sanctions on Russia – Russia’s nuclear supply chain should be sanctioned, too

As numerous countries in the west consider taking aim at Russia with energy sanctions over Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, Russia’s dominance in the nuclear energy sector is being overlooked, a paper from ColumbiaUniversity’s Center on Global Energy Policy warns.

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags into its fourth month, the European Union has
struggled to wean itself off Russian fossil fuel imports ­– the profits of which help fuel Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine.

But the Columbia paper, authored by Paul Dabbar, a former undersecretary of Energy for
Science at the Department of Energy, and Columbia researcher Matthew Bowen, suggests that Russia’s nuclear technology sector should also be the focus of economic boycotts.

From reactor construction to fuel fabrication, Russia occupies a predominant position on world nuclear markets. Of the 439 nuclear reactors operated around the world as of 2021, 38 were in Russia
itself and another 42 were built with Russian or Soviet technology.

 Bellona 26th May 2022

May 28, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Five reasons that Russia’s nuclear exports will continue, despite sanctions and the Ukraine invasion. But for how long?

By many measures, Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company,
Rosatom, has primacy in the global nuclear energy market. At any given
moment, the firm provides technical expertise, enriched fuel, and equipment
to nuclear reactors around the world.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and,
more acutely, the Russian military’s dangerous actions at the
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have
many countries rethinking their dependence on Russian nuclear products and
searching for alternatives.

Additionally, the ensuing global effort to
cripple Russian access to international markets calls into question the
viability of current contracts, government licensing, and financial
instruments involved in Russia’s nuclear exports.

Concurrently, the invasion has highlighted the lack of energy source diversification across
Europe. Headlines have focused on how several European countries decided to
phase out or delay plans to build new nuclear power plants in the wake of
the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi disaster and, instead, increase imports of
Russian oil and natural gas to feed their electric grids’ baseload needs.

Now, in response to the sudden European effort to minimize dependence on
Russian imports, the United States has sent tankers of liquefied natural
gas (LNG) to European ports. Additionally, the United States and partners
are releasing a round of oil from their strategic stockpiles to stabilize
market prices. For oil and natural gas supplies to Europe, there are some
immediate alternatives available.

However, for nuclear power plants,
swapping in alternative supplies is causing serious dilemmas and could lead
to stranded assets.

 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 17th May 2022

May 19, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Ireland condemns Russian TV for showing simulated nuclear attack off Irish coast

 A Russian state TV report that simulated a nuclear attack launched off the
coast of County Donegal has caused consternation in Ireland. Dmitry
Kiselyov, a pro-Kremlin presenter on Channel One known as “Vladimir
Putin’s mouthpiece”, on Monday showed a video of an underwater missile
wreaking apocalypse on Ireland and the UK. Russia could “plunge Britain
into the depths of the sea” using an unmanned underwater vehicle called
Poseidon, he said. “The explosion of this thermonuclear torpedo by
Britain’s coastline will cause a gigantic tsunami wave up to 500 metres
high. Such a barrage alone also carries extreme doses of radiation. Having
passed over the British Isles, it will turn what might be left of them into
a radioactive desert.”

 Guardian 3rd May 2022

May 5, 2022 Posted by | media, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia Just Tested the World’s Largest Nuclear-Tipped Missile

Putin claims the weapon can hit any target on Earth, but there’s less than meets the eye.

BY KYLE MIZOKAMI, APR 29, 2022 Russia has tested the world’s largest and heaviest nuclear missile, the RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The missile, which lifted off from northern Russia last week, weighs 458,000 pounds, or as much as 11 F-22A Raptor fighters.

Sarmat can deliver up to ten thermonuclear warheads and has the range to strike anywhere on Earth. But as powerful as it is, the missile has distinct trade-offs that could make it less impressive than it sounds……………

April 30, 2022 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s Antiquated Nuclear Warning System Jeopardizes Us All

As the war in Ukraine’s pits Russia against the West, it’s time to look at Moscow’s weak satellite systems, which raise the chances of nuclear conflict. by David K. Shipler

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a heightened nuclear alert level, much of the world has worried that he might go nuclear in his war against Ukraine. But there is another concern: a false alarm from Russian early-warning systems, which experts believe are dangerously vulnerable to errors.

The risk of a catastrophic mistake has been a threat since the outset of the nuclear age, but miscalculation becomes more likely in a period of heightened Russian-American tension. Leaders would have only minutes to make fateful decisions, so each side needs to be able to “see” clearly whether the other has launched missiles before retaliating. Ambiguity in a moment of “crisis perception,” the Rand Corporation has noted, can spark “conflict when one nation misinterprets an event (such as a training exercise, a weather phenomenon, or a malfunction) as an indicator of a nuclear attack.”     

Russia and the United States are the most heavily armed of the nine nuclear powers, which include China, France, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Israel. (Iran is poised to join the club.) But only the U.S. has comprehensive surveillance of the globe, provided by three active geosynchronous satellites, with two in reserve, whose infrared receptors can spot missile plumes. That data is supplemented by radar, which gives the U.S. the capacity to double-check that a launch has actually occurred.

Specialists call this verification by both satellite and radar “dual phenomenology.” The Russians don’t have it, at least not reliably. They lack adequate space-based monitoring to supplement their radar.

What they have is a “terrible and dangerous technology shortfall,” according to Theodore Postol, a professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT and a former scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations………………………


April 30, 2022 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Over a third of the world’s uranium is supplied by Russian-owned sources

 The European nuclear power sector is highly dependent on imports of
Russian uranium, according to a report by NGOs Friends of the Earth Germany
(BUND), the Nuclear Free Future Foundation, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation,
Greenpeace and Ausgestrahlt.

In 2020, EU countries received 20.2 percent of
their uranium needs from Russia and another 19.1 percent came from Russian
ally Kazakhstan, according to the report. The dependency on Russian uranium
is highest in Eastern Europe, where 18 nuclear power plants are calibrated
to use the hexagonal fuel elements provided by Rosatom.

This Russian statecorporation also has shares in uranium mines in Canada, the USA and above
all Kazakhstan, making it the second largest uranium producer in the world,
the report states. More than a third of the global demand for enriched
uranium, which is needed for the operation of nuclear power plants, comes
from the Russian company. According to German nuclear power plant operator
PreussenElektra, Germany’s three remaining reactors are also mainly
running on Russian and Kazakh uranium. 

Clean Energy Wire 22nd April 2022

April 25, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia tests nuclear-capable missile that Vladimir Putin says will make enemies ‘think twice’

 SBS, 22 Apr 22, The Sarmat, dubbed Satan 2 by Western analysts, is among Russia’s next-generation missiles that Russia’s president has called “invincible”. But the Pentagon says it is not concerned by the test launch.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia has successfully tested the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, saying the weapon capable of carrying nuclear charges will make Kremlin’s enemies “think twice.”

The Sarmat, dubbed Satan 2 by Western analysts, is among Russia’s next-generation missiles that Mr Putin has called “invincible,” and which also include the Kinzhal and Avangard hypersonic missiles.

Last month, Russia said it used Kinzhal for the first time in warfare to strike a target in Ukraine, 

which Russia invaded on February 24………..

The Sarmat has been under development for years and so its test-launch is not a surprise for the West, but it comes at a moment of extreme geopolitical tension over the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s nuclear forces will start taking delivery of the new missile “in the autumn of this year” once testing is complete, Russian news agency TASS quoted Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos space agency, as saying on Wednesday………

Mr Barrie said the Sarmat’s ability to carry 10 or more warheads and decoys, and Russia’s option of firing it over either of the Earth’s poles, posed a challenge to ground and satellite-based radar and tracking systems.

The Pentagon said the test was not seen as threatening to the United States and its allies.

Moscow “properly notified” Washington of the test following its obligations………….

Igor Korotchenko, editor in chief of Russia’s National Defence magazine, told RIA news agency it was a signal to the West that Moscow was capable of meting out “crushing retribution that will put an end to the history of any country that has encroached on the security of Russia and its people”.

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ukraine can fight Russia ‘for 10 years’ claims Zelensky.

Ukraine can fight Russia ‘for 10 years’ claims Zelensky, as neo-Nazi led military suffers heavy losses & demands West supply ever more arms, 17 Apr 2022

Ukraine is not prepared to give up territory and is ready, if necessary, to fight Russia “for 10 years,” President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed. He also appeared to acknowledge that the current conflict effectively began in 2014, when Kiev first launched an operation to re-take the breakaway Donbass.

In an interview with CNN, Zelensky said that for Ukraine “the battle for Donbass is very important” for a number of reasons, adding that it could affect “the course of the whole war.” He stressed, however, that a diplomatic solution to the conflict is preferable.

“We cannot give up our territory, but we must find some kind of dialogue with Russia,” Zelensky said, adding that talks will not be conducted “on the basis of the Russian ultimatum.”

Zelensky said dialogue is needed to prevent more deaths, though he claimed his country “can fight the Russian Federation for ten years.”

He said the Ukrainian forces in Donbass are some of “the best military” the country has. “It is a large grouping. And Russia wants to encircle them and destroy them,” Zelensky claimed, adding that he was talking about “44,000 professional military men who survived a great war from the beginning of 2014.”

“This is why it is very important for us to preserve that part of our army.”

Asked by the CNN presenter if Ukraine will be victorious in the conflict, Zelensky said, “Yes, of course.”

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

RT comments:

 It seems that Russia agrees Donbass is important, that’s why it focused on liberating Donbass, and it did so by luring the US-proxy army in Ukraine away to Kiev.

 Maybe it’s possibly, technically, true; [ country “can fight the Russian Federation for ten years.”] although the economies of the West would probably have bankrupted themselves by then, even if they were able to recruit ever more cannon fodder from their terrorist armies elsewhere, and these terrorists wouldn’t be fighting on the territory that Russia has already taken control over; it’s also not clear that the multipolar alliance would tolerate a decade of attacks without serious retaliation.

 It remains to be seen what’s left of the Ukraine as we know it in 10 weeks, never mind 10 years. Zelensky’s acting experience has certainly fooled a great many people into thinking otherwise, but the facts on the ground, such as the heavy losses of Ukraine’s military bases, troops, territory, and its endless begging for more money and arms, reflect a proxy army in dire straits: Ukraine is smashed, this is how it will be repaired

April 19, 2022 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia warns of nuclear weapons in Baltic if Sweden and Finland join NATO

Russia warns of nuclear weapons in Baltic if Sweden and Finland join Nato,

Lithuania plays down threat, claiming Russians already have such weapons in Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad Guardian,   Jon Henley and Julian Borger 15 Apr 2022

Moscow has said it will be forced to strengthen its defences in the Baltic if Finland and Sweden join Nato, including by deploying nuclear weapons, as the war in Ukraine entered its seventh week and the country braced for a major attack in the east.

However, the Lithuanian defence minister, Arvydas Anušauskas, claimed on Thursday that Russia already had nuclear weapons stored in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Lithuania and Poland. That claim has not been independently verified, but the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reported in 2018 that nuclear weapon storage bunkers in Kaliningrad had been upgraded.

The Russian former president Dmitry Medvedev, a senior member of Russia’s security council, said on Thursday that all its forces in the region would be bolstered if the two Nordic countries joined the US-led alliance.

Medvedev’s threat is the latest of many instances of nuclear sabre-rattling from the Kremlin aimed at deterring western military intervention on behalf of Ukraine.

“We’re obviously very concerned,” said the CIA director, William Burns. “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.”

But Burns added: “While we’ve seen some rhetorical posturing on the part of the Kremlin, moving to higher nuclear alert levels, so far we haven’t seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that we would reinforce that concern.”

Finland and Sweden are deliberating over whether to abandon decades of military non-alignment and join Nato, with the two Nordic countries’ leaders saying Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has changed Europe’s “whole security landscape”.

Their accession to the alliance would more than double Russia’s land border with Nato members, Medvedev said. “Naturally, we will have to reinforce these borders” by bolstering ground, air and naval defences in the region, he said.

Medvedev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, explicitly raised the nuclear threat, saying Finnish and Swedish Nato membership would mean there could be “no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic – the balance must be restored”.

Russia had “not taken such measures and was not going to”, he said. “But if our hand is forced, well … take note it wasn’t us who proposed this.”

Russia borders the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, said Moscow would take the security and defence measures that it would deem necessary if Sweden and Finland join Nato, adding that the move would seriously worsen the military situation and lead to “the most undesirable consequences”.,,…………………..

April 19, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Fears sunken Russian warship Moskva was carrying nuclear weapons

There are fears that sunken Russian warship The Moskva was carrying nuclear weapons that could now cause a “broken arrow” incident.

Megan Palin, April 16, 2022  There are fears that sunken Russian warship The Moskva that is now believed to be resting at the bottom of the Black Sea was carrying nuclear weapons.

Maksym Marchenko, the governor of the Odesa region, said Ukraine struck the ship with two Neptune missiles and caused “serious damage” on Thursday.

The Russian Defence Ministry denied there had been an attack by Ukraine on the ship, which would normally have about 500 sailors aboard, and said the heavily damaged Moskva sank in a storm under tow after being gutted by fire.

Speaking at the Pentagon on Friday, a senior US defense official said the Moskva warship was hit by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles, prompting its sinking.

In a chilling revelation, sources say it’s likely that several nuclear missiles are on the sunken vessel, and there is now real concern that could lead to a nuclear accident – otherwise known as a “broken arrow” incident in American military slang.

Mykhailo Samus, director of a Lviv-based military think-tank; Andriy Klymenko, editor of Black Sea News; and Ukrainian newspaper Defence Express all warned today that the Moskva was designed to carry warheads which could fit in the nose of its supersonic P-1000 “Vulkan” missiles – designed to take out American aircraft carriers.

“On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units,’ Samus said, while Klymenko called on other Black Sea nations – Turkey, Romania, Georgia, and Bulgaria – to insist on an explanation. Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded,” he asked.

This is HUGE. Russia’s defense ministry admits Moskva, their flagship in Black Sea fleet, slava class cruiser, has SUNK! It was key to intelligence & air defenses for the Russian ships. IMO this is on the level big as stopping Russians from taking Kyiv.— John Spencer (@SpencerGuard) April 14, 2022

BlackSeaNews editor-in-chief Andriy Klymenko called for an urgent international probe into whether the Moskva was carrying nuclear weapons.

“Friends and experts say that there are two nuclear warheads for cruise missiles on board the Moskva,” he said…………..

April 16, 2022 Posted by | incidents, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense  Gates says it’s most unlikely that Russia would use chemical weapons in Ukraine

Gates says chances of Russia using chemical or nuclear weapons ‘pretty low’, The Hill, 13 Apr 22

…………………………………..   Gates said there are also no military reasons for Putin to use targeted nuclear weapons in Ukraine. 

“Again, what’s the military value of it? It’s really more of a terror weapon, at this point and the consequences of crossing that threshold are, I think, pretty consequential,” he said, also noting the geographical risk of such weapons. 

“The winds there blow from the west.  So radiation from the use of a tactical nuclear weapons in eastern Ukraine is going to end up in Russia,” Gates said………

April 14, 2022 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear corporation, exports nuclear fuel to Finland and others – has not been sanctioned by USA and Europe

Rosatom, which is the world’s biggest exporter of nuclear reactors and maintains a near-monopoly over the fuel they use to generate electricity, hasn’t been sanctioned by the U.S. and Europe. 

it’ll be “three to four years” before Russian fuel currently being used in Finland needs to be swapped out in full for new assemblies.

Europe’s other energy problem: relying on Russian nuclear fuel Bloomberg News | April 7, 2022  A day before Russia invaded Ukraine, it sent four highly-trained armed guards across the border on a special mission to deliver fuel to an aging nuclear power facility.

Reactors based on Soviet designs generate power across the former Cold War bloc, accounting for more than half of all electricity in Ukraine and around two-fifths in a swath of territory arching from Finland to Bulgaria. So the fuel shipment was routine enough — until President Vladimir Putin ordered his army to war. 

Russia and Ukraine agree the small security detachment arrived by train on Feb. 23 and was present as technicians unloaded a new batch of fuel rods at the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant 340 kilometers (210 miles) west of Kyiv. They differ wildly over what happened to the so-called Atomspetstrans guards as fighting began. 

Ukraine told the International Atomic Energy Agency last week that they were disarmed and subsequently refused to return home. The Kremlin accused Kyiv of taking the four employees of state-owned Rosatom hostage. The IAEA is assessing the situation as it prepares to return monitors to Ukraine. 

The incident was just one nuclear flashpoint of a war that’s being fought amid a fleet of operating reactors as well as the entombed site of the world’s worst atomic accident at Chernobyl. 

But it also highlights another looming energy challenge for leaders on Moscow’s European periphery even as the continent moves to bar more Russian fossil fuels: how to cut their reliance on nuclear trade with a heavily-sanctioned Russia that many in the region want to further isolate.

“Countries are taking it a lot more seriously because of the situation,” top U.S. nuclear official Bonnie Jenkins said in an interview last month. “They are aware of their dependence.”

Rosatom, which is the world’s biggest exporter of nuclear reactors and maintains a near-monopoly over the fuel they use to generate electricity, hasn’t been sanctioned by the U.S. and Europe. 

Non-proliferation experts have warned that doing so could boomerang back by coaxing more countries to enter fuel markets. U.S. officials said last month sanctions would have to be carefully calibrated to avoid damaging allied economies, as well as other U.S. diplomatic efforts, like the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Those talks foresee continued supply of fuel to the Persian Gulf country’s Russia-built reactor. 

For Moscow, atomic exports remain a key geopolitical lever, and it’s using state financing to expand Rosatom’s reach with new units in China, India, Iran and Turkey, none of which have enforced war-penalties so far imposed on Russia. 

Nuclear fuel differs from commodities like gas or coal because it requires precision-engineered assemblies that conform to licensing requirements set by safety regulators. Trying to cut ties prematurely with Russia could imperil electricity supplies for almost 100 million Europeans in countries that rely on nuclear plants as their biggest source of clean energy.

Jenkins, 61, the U.S. State Department’s under-secretary for arms control and international security, cautioned the switch could take years.

Still, said Liisa Heikinheimo, deputy director general for energy at Finland’s Economy Ministry, “it’s a fact that an alternative supplier is needed. It’s about to be a problem that’s soon reality.”

Finland, where Fortum Oyj operates two Soviet-built VVER reactors 90 kilometers east of Helsinki, has tried to find alternatives to Russia. It contracted British Nuclear Fuel Ltd., now owned by Westinghouse Electric Co., in the 1990s but ultimately stuck with Rosatom’s competitive prices.

More recently, the U.S. Department of Energy and Ukraine worked with Westinghouse to dislodge Rosatom fuel from 15 operating reactors, which still supply more than half the country’s electricity after six weeks of war wrought billions of dollars in damages to infrastructure. 

Fuel made by Westinghouse, owned by private-equity investors at Brookfield Business Partners LP, now generates power at six Ukrainian units, with engineers needing until mid-decade to supply the rest. 

“Westinghouse started in Ukraine because of the government-to-government agreement with the U.S.,” said Jose Emeterio Gutierrez, the Spanish nuclear engineer who formerly led the company’s decade-long effort to compete with Rosatom. But nuclear-fuel market peculiarities, along with a Soviet technological legacy, makes diversification difficult, he said. 

Few nations possess the vast infrastructure needed to convert and enrich uranium ore into metal, which then has to be engineered into ceramic pellets and inserted into zirconium fuel rods with a safety tolerance measured in millimeters. A catalog of international regulations ensures that material isn’t diverted for weapons.

Rising demand for stable energy supplies, along with the European Union’s green label on nuclear power, could help to speed up the process. 

Slovakia, with four Russian-built units, pitched a fuel consortium last month to share costs. The U.S. is also involved, pledging last week to help the Czech Republic diversify fuel for its six Russian-designed reactors. 

But moving away from Rosatom will require time, said Heikinheimo, who figures it’ll be “three to four years” before Russian fuel currently being used in Finland needs to be swapped out in full for new assemblies.

(By Jonathan Tirone, Kati Pohjanpalo and Jesper Starn, with assistance from Thomas Hall)

April 9, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment