367 Items

Report - CNA's Center for Naval Analyses

Russia and the Global Nuclear Order

| March 2024

Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine illuminated the long profound shadow of nuclear weapons over international security. Russia's nuclear threats have rightfully garnered significant attention because of the unfathomable lethality of nuclear weapons. However, the use of such weapons in Ukraine is only one way—albeit the gravest— that Russia could challenge the global nuclear order. Russia's influence extends deep into the very fabric of this order—a system to which it is inextricably bound by Moscow's position in cornerstone institutions such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). From withdrawing from key treaties to stymieing resolutions critical of misconduct, Moscow has demonstrated its ability to challenge the legitimacy, relevance, and interpretations of numerous standards and principles espoused by the West.

President Putin takes part in the official ceremony for pouring the first concrete into the foundation of power unit #4 at Egypt's El-Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant via videoconference with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Kremlin on Jan. 23, 2024.

(Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Magazine Article - MEES

Egypt’s Nuclear Megaproject Faces Uncertainty As Russian Funding Squeezed

  • Nada Ramadan Ahmed
| Jan. 19, 2024

In an interview with Nada Ramadan Ahmed, North Africa Analyst with MEES magazine, she quotes Marina Lorenzini on the topic of the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant in Egypt: "Putin has used the Russian nuclear energy industry, through Rosatom, as a strategic export to build deep dependencies with geopolitically significant countries, such as Bangladesh, Egypt, and Turkey. So, even as times get tough in Moscow, Rosatom's foreign projects may not receive an immediate axe."

Other companies cannot necessarily replace Rosatom if needed, leaving Cairo "in a bind to negotiate with Moscow on a point-by-point basis on how to purchase and integrate new equipment. Moscow will likely not welcome such a move, and Cairo may not have a strong enough bargaining position, especially if it's not paying its bills on time, in order to introduce non-Russian supplies on site."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walk during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.

(Sergei Fadeyechev, TASS News Agency Pool Photo via AP)

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Why Egypt’s New Nuclear Plant is a Long-term Win for Russia

| Dec. 20, 2023

With 22 countries pledging to triple global nuclear energy production by 2050 at the COP28 climate meeting in Dubai, sincere prospects for growth in global nuclear energy market is on the table. Nonetheless, these 22 countries largely represent ones that have minimal ties with Russia’s nuclear exports or are seeking to decouple themselves from a current dependency. 

Many other countries are considering the option of nuclear energy, and several will turn to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company, Rosatom, to build their new reactors. Since assuming power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has developed Russia’s nuclear industry exports as a key piece of its energy and geopolitical portfolio. 

One country in particular has embraced a partnership with Rosatom: Egypt. In 2015, Russia and Egypt concluded an intergovernmental agreement that led Rosatom to build a $30-billion nuclear power plant near the Mediterranean coastal town of El Dabaa, about 170 kilometers west of Alexandria. With four Russian-designed, 1.2-gigawatt, VVER reactor units, the El Dabaa nuclear power plant is expected to generate more than 10 percent of total electricity production in Egypt and provide a consistent baseload power source for 20 million people.

Visitors tour past military vehicles carrying the Dong Feng 41 and DF-17 ballistic missiles at an exhibition highlighting President Xi Jining and his China's achievements under his leadership, at the Beijing Exhibition Hall in Beijing on Oct. 12, 2022.

AP Photo/Andy Wong

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

China’s Misunderstood Nuclear Expansion: How U.S. Strategy Is Fueling Beijing’s Growing Arsenal

  • M. Taylor Fravel
  • Henrik Stålhane Hiim
  • Magnus Langset Trøan
| Nov. 10, 2023

Among the many issues surrounding China’s ongoing military modernization, perhaps none has been more dramatic than its nuclear weapons program. For decades, the Chinese government was content to maintain a comparatively small nuclear force. As recently as 2020, China’s arsenal was little changed from previous decades and amounted to some 220 weapons, around five to six percent of either the U.S. or Russian stockpiles of deployed and reserve warheads.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, northern Japan, on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.


Newspaper Article - NBC News

China bans seafood from Japan after Fukushima nuclear plant begins releasing wastewater

| Aug. 24, 2023

“This is not a decision or set of steps that are happening in haste by any means, and this is a practice that is common and consistent around the world and with the nuclear energy industry,” said Marina Lorenzini of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

According to data posted online by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, water with much higher levels of tritium has been discharged by nuclear facilities in countries including China, South Korea, Canada and France in line with local regulations.

Lorenzini said that the IAEA’s active engagement in the Fukushima process “makes me feel a lot more comfortable and confident with the events we see playing out today.”

The IAEA said this week that it would maintain an onsite presence at the Fukushima plant, where it opened an office last month, and publish real-time and near real-time monitoring data.

“I think we have good reason to believe that this will be a well-monitored and well-maintained operation,” Lorenzini said.

Vertical dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel is depicted here.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Book Chapter - Springer Nature

Nuclear Waste

| Aug. 01, 2023

This chapter appears in Handbook of the Anthropocene: Humans between Heritage and Future.

Nuclear waste epitomizes the Anthropocene. Scientific discovery of nuclear fission in the 1930s ushered in the atomic age. The onset of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy production in the 1940s and 1950s then created a uniquely human problem with planetary implications. Today, 33 countries operate 442 nuclear power reactors, and nine countries possess nearly 13,000 nuclear arms. The result is high-level waste that is dangerously radioactive for millennia to come. Yet, there has never been a permanent waste solution in place. Technically feasible long-term nuclear waste storage options exist, but nearly all governments prefer riskier interim plans hidden from public view and debate. This chapter considers the likelihood of societies addressing the contentious environmental and economic politics of deep geological repositories; and it asks, how long will obfuscation of the risks of this unique Anthropocene challenge continue?

A view at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant across from the Kakhovka reservoir on which it relies for water and which has now been drained due to Kakhovka dam breach.

Wikimedia Commons/ Ralf1969

Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

The breach of Ukraine's Kakhovka dam and the nearby nuclear plant

| June 13, 2023

[I]f the Russians are not restrained in causing a major humanitarian and ecological disaster by blowing up a dam — as Ukrainian and Western leaders contend and is a war crime under the Geneva Convention — what else are they capable of? Would they cause a similar or worse calamity if the Ukrainian counteroffensive forces them to retreat from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant? After all, the Russian military reportedly mined the perimeter of the plant where tons of nuclear material is stored.

As the international community ponders these prospects, the ghost of the Chernobyl catastrophe, the world’s worst nuclear accident that in 1986 covered swaths of Ukraine and Europe in radioactive fallout, returns to haunt. The parallels are uncanny: Chernobyl, the Kakhovka dam destruction, and the potential disaster at Zaporizhzhia all expose the lies of the governments in Moscow and their callous indifference toward massive and needless human suffering.

Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachyov and Turkey's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez at the ceremony of the first delivery of Russian-made nuclear fuel to to Unit 1 of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on April 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Iliya Pitalev, Rossiya Segodnya via

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Cutting power: How creative measures can end the EU’s dependence on Russian nuclear fuel

| May 03, 2023

Rosatom has had a terrible record in Ukraine, including the annexation and illegal occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. The United Kingdom and the United States have applied some sanctions on Rosatom-connected entities, targeting members of company leadership, the sham Zaporizhzhia joint-stock company, and some Russian nuclear research centers. But several European countries are dependent—some entirely—on Rosatom’s products to support their nuclear power plants and energy security profiles. Some European utilities have demonstrated great urgency to develop alternative suppliers to Rosatom, the Russian global company that has largely maintained its dealings in nuclear fuel and construction of new reactors across the European market.