Is the global nuclear industry Russia’s latest power play?
Any concern regarding Russia’s nuclear stronghold over its near-neighbours is misplaced in light of Rosatom’s good-guy track record in the region, says Komarov. He points to Ukraine, a hotbed of energy geopolitics and simmering tensions. Both sides stand accused of using their positions within the vital flow of gas from Russia, through Eastern Europe to the West, to their own political advantage. But both co-operate seamlessly on nuclear energy, according to Komarov.
Ukraine relies on nuclear power for over 50pc of electricity, and 100pc of this is generated by Russian-designed reactors and fuelled by the Russian nuclear behemoth. “And you’ve never heard of any problems between Russia and Ukraine on nuclear issues, because there are none,” he says.
Despite global tensions between Russia and the West, Rosatom still supplies around 20pc of America’s enriched uranium and has a long history of relations with UK reactors. EDF’s Sizewell B nuclear reactor in Suffolk uses uranium solely sourced from Russia.
In part, these relationships endure out of necessity. The complex regulatory strictures which underpin the safety of the industry also bind countries together with tighter knots than the politics of the day.
“Everything in the nuclear industry is deeply connected to safety issues so it’s better to think not just twice but many, many times before relations break down,” says Komarov. “This is a world where competitors are often partners too. We try to fulfill our obligations, in accordance with contracts. That’s why we are able to operate without disturbances.
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