In this issue, we highlight a nuclear cooperation agreement between the Czech Republic and South Korea, and a new investment program from the European Commission to develop low-carbon clean technologies. We also note remarks made by the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) urging the U.S. to maintain its global leadership in nuclear policy, and a push to remove restrictions that bar the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation from funding nuclear projects. Lastly, we share a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration stating that Japan’s imports of liquefied natural gas imports will drop as five nuclear reactors return to service.
The Pentagon is increasingly interested in small mobile nuclear reactors. It is reasonable to research this as a response to the need for reliable, portable, carbon-free power for bases and the battlefield. But, while the U.S. military usually gets what it wants, we should avoid an atomic flashback to the era when the needs and decisions of the nuclear Navy determined the designs of civilian nuclear plants. And we should use this opportunity to require that the defense department lead on strong nuclear governance, non-proliferation and security.
Three questions arise. First, will DoD drive next generation reactors more effectively into the global market? Second, will DoD dominance limit the future opportunity of more exotic advanced reactors? Third, is this a good idea for global security?
Early this year DoD issued a Request for Information (RFI) on small mobile nuclear reactor designs that can power forward bases. This was predicated on a 2016 Defense Science Board (DSB) task force report that examined the potential for small modular reactors to support forward and remote operating bases. That was spurred by language in a 2014 congressional defense bill. DSB recommended that the Army be designated as the leader for the assessment of these nuclear energy sources. Last year, the Army released a study on the benefits and challenges of mobile nuclear power plants that examined political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal/regulatory (PESTEL) issues.
Based on both reports, there is still a lot of work to be done on this nuclear option. But if DoD proceeds, will it propel the next generation nuclear industry?
The Army report clearly indicated a preference for very small modular reactors that are light-water cooled. There are examples of these reactors that are in various stages of design. Interestingly, the Army report notes that it does not have an interest in modifying reactors designed for commercial use for its military purposes because of the need to “ruggedize” the reactor. The RFI stated that it would down select 3 technology options and according to the Army Times, it seeks a demonstration by 2023 and an initial deployment at a remote site like Alaska or Guam.
Will the DoD preference for SMRs stilt the dynamic advanced reactor field?
At this point, the U.S. government has made a decision not to pick a winner among advanced non-light-water-cooled nuclear designs, but is supporting the R&D infrastructure for the burgeoning industry. However, the Army report considered advanced reactors using “more exotic cooling and/or moderating systems in their operation (e.g., liquid metal, molten salt, and high temperature gas)” to be a decade further behind SMRs and therefore, not ready for their needs. This assessment could influence the investment incentives for the more exotic technologies and impact the global market interest in them.

If the Pentagon proceeds, how will this impact global security?
To their credit, the DoD reports are not downplaying the potential risks and challenges associated with the field deployment of small mobile reactors. The Pentagon notes that land-based reactors would require additional legal authorities to operate in foreign nations, that regulatory authorities will have to be established or revised, and that there are safety, security and nonproliferation concerns.
The DSB task force did not consider any reactor designs using nuclear weapon grade uranium as a fuel in order to decrease proliferation dangers. And it did note that, if breached, the reactor could become “a dirty bomb.” A number of these challenges were further detailed in a new article opposing the deployment. But both the DSB and Army determined that on balance there was value in moving forward the process of further assessing small mobile reactors.
The Pentagon has a history of developing and driving technology forward for military applications that then result in significant advances for the civilian economy. The internet and GPS are two prominent examples. The military’s interest in next generation nuclear power can help to propel its preferred technology forward. But it also can limit the opportunity and financing for designs that it does not want. The Pentagon is a significant financial and political player and its preferences will weigh heavily as the technology sorts out. But while that happens it should lend its influence to ensure that the non-proliferation and security system for next generation nuclear systems are robust and effective. The last thing anyone needs is a radioactive bullseye on the battlefield.

Ken Luongo, President of Partnership for Global Security
There is a strong case to be made for the societal value of nuclear power in the 21st century that is compelling and globally important.
Nuclear Collaboration
Czech Engineering firm UJV Re has signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea’s Kepco Engineering and Construction Company to strengthen their cooperation in nuclear power plant (NPP) design and research.  
Nuclear Policy, Governance, and Geopolitics
The European Commission announced that it will invest over €10 billion for innovative, low-carbon clean technologies. The Innovation Fund aims to create financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest in the next generation of low-carbon technologies.

A parliamentary committee in the UK will examine potential financing options for energy infrastructure, including nuclear plants, following decisions by Hitachi and Toshiba to suspend the Moorside and Wylfa nuclear projects.

The Czech Republic outlined its plans to build nuclear reactors in the country, reporting that the government will sign a contract with state-owned utility CEZ to build two new reactors, with a supplier chosen by 2024.

Members of The World Association of Nuclear Operators voted to approve a new branch office and support center in China to make it easier to provide a "full range of services to operators located in the world's fastest-growing region for commercial nuclear power."
Domestic Civil Nuclear Developments
In remarks to a U.S. Senate panel, Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the U.S. must assert its leadership on nuclear policy before it is overtaken over by Russia and China. “Without effective policy action, the United States will be on track to lose a substantial proportion of its [nuclear] capacity. From my vantage point, this would be detrimental to both energy security and clean energy objectives,” he said.
Nuclear Industry advocates are encouraging the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to remove the restriction against funding nuclear generation projects as the agency transforms into the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.
A coalition of major institutional investors called on the 20 largest U.S. publicly traded electricity generators to work towards net-zero carbon emissions.
In Illinois, a new bill was introduced that would mandate the use of 100% renewable energy by 2050 but offered little information on the role of nuclear energy in the state.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz proposed that the state’s electricity providers generate all their energy from zero-carbon sources, including nuclear energy. This plan joins actions by other states to move toward carbon-free energy production.
In Utah, the House of Representatives passed the a resolution to support the development and construction of advanced nuclear reactors in the state.
Nuclear Security and Emerging Technologies

The US Department of Energy (DOE) launched its Versatile Fast Neutron Source project to provide fast neutron testing capability to aid the development of advanced nuclear reactor technology and fuel designs. The DOE statement also notes that the US is losing its leadership in the ability to test advanced reactor fuels and materials to its competitors, namely China and Russia. 
Noteworthy Research

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a short report stating that imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for Japan are likely to decrease by up to 10 percent in 2019 due to the return of five nuclear reactors to service last year.
The Nuclear Conversation
For more than a decade, the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) has developed actionable responses to global security challenges by engaging international, private sector, and multidisciplinary expert partners to assess policy needs, identify effective strategies, and drive demonstrable results.
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