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14.02.2024

5 facts about Rosatom: Threats of further cooperation with the russian corporation

Sanctions on Rosatom remain on the agenda. In the absence of tangible sanctions pressure, the Russian nuclear corporation is actively working to increase its presence in Africa and Asia, offering its own nuclear technologies in promising markets. Rosatom also plays a significant role in the fulfilling the Russian state order for weapons production, as evidenced by numerous statements of officials. At the same time, the corporation is constantly expanding its scope of activities by developing noncore fields. 

The imposition of sanctions on all companies and organizations that are a part of Rosatom and are not directly involved in the maintenance of existing nuclear power plants or the supply of nuclear fuel should be an important step to stop active expansion of the nuclear giant. 

Sanctions on scientific and research organizations should be imposed as a matter of priority to deprive Rosatom’s subsidiaries of access to modern technologies and prevent them from participating in the international projects. Russian research institutes traditionally have a powerful manufacturing infrastructure that allows not only to conduct experimental research but also to manufacture equipment, in particular for the Russian military-industrial complex. 

Another restrictive measure should be the automatic inclusion of all new assets acquired by Rosatom, both inside and outside Russia, in the sanctions lists. This will limit the corporation’s “expansion” into related industries, which it develops to provide the Russian public sector with hightech products. 

In terms of strategic prospects, it is important to limit the influence of the Russian Federation in the global nuclear energy sector. One of the tools is to create a coalition in the IAEA to remove Russian representatives from leadership positions. Also, all programs of cooperation between Rosatom and the IAEA that are not related to monitoring the condition of operating nuclear power plants should be curtailed. 

Cooperation in terms of new technologies with an aggressor country legitimizes crimes committed by employees of the Russian corporation in the territory of sovereign Ukraine. The expulsion of Russians from the Department of Nuclear Energy and the reduction of Russia’s role and influence in the IAEA are essential. The IAEA Statute clearly states that membership entails not only rights and privileges, but also obligations and responsibilities, which Russia is violating with its war and nuclear terrorism. 

Another important step is to diversify the supply of enriched uranium and nuclear fuel to the countries of the sanctions coalition. Dependence on Rosatom is used as a weapon to promote pro-Russian narratives. The decisions of Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czechia, and Finland to refuse from Russian nuclear fuel are politically correct and should be implemented as soon as possible. This is also an example for Hungary, which has the greatest dependence on Russia and continues to increase it by pursuing the Paks II project.

Even after February 24, 2022, Rosatom continues many joint international projects and participates in technical and training events of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Russians continue to hold strong positions in the IAEA, including leadership in the organization’s structure. The gradual closure of data on Russian official Internet resources makes it difficult to analyze the corporation’s activities objectively. However, even the information published in the Russian media and on specialized resources shows that Rosatom plays a crucial role in the Kremlin’s political and military machine.

The Russian state corporation Rosatom is a very large structure, and scope of its activities is not limited to nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. The main difference between the “nuclear giant” and other state corporations of the Russian Federation is its powerful expansion into other sectors of the economy, which is not limited to nuclear technologies.

5 facts about Rosatom

Fact 1: Rosatom works for the Russian military-industrial complex

In recent years, cooperation between the Russian military machine and Rosatom structures has been actively expanding:

 ▬ Rosatom is developing a standardized ammunition for the T-14 Armata tank, which was supposed to be commissioned at the end of 2021; 

▬ Specialists of the Troitsk Institute of Innovative and Thermonuclear Research, which is a part of Rosatom, were involved in the development of technology to increase the service life of artillery barrels. The procurement documents name the Russian Ministry of Defense as a potential customer of new technology; 

▬ At the Army-2023 military-technical forum, the Scientific Research Institute of Instruments, which is a part of Rosatom, demonstrated its own development – the Obnaruzhitel system for searching for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); 

▬ The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile was developed jointly with the Novator design bureau and the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, a subsidiary of Rosatom.

In January 2023, The Washington Post published information on the possible involvement of Rosatom in the procurement of components, equipment and raw materials to support weapons production in Russia in 2022. Essentially, taking advantage of the absence of sanctions, the companies within Rosatom’s structure cancircumvent sanctions and help in the war against Ukraine. The article contains a link to a letter from the head of one of Rosatom’s departments, to which Ukrainian intelligence gained access.

Fact 2: Rosatom is a “friend” in the IAEA

In March 2022, Greenpeace International sent an appeal to the IAEA to immediately remove Mikhail Chudakov from the post of Deputy Director General. In April of the same year, this demand was supported by Switzerland. Many public organizations, government officials at various levels, and experts call for reducing the influence of Russians in the international organization that controls nuclear safety around the world. The reason for those calls is Chudakov’s many years of work in the structure of Rosatom and the successful international activities of the Russian corporation. The connection between these two facts may lie in Rosatom’s access to information received by the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy, headed by Chudakov. Also, Russian representatives can have a significant impact on the IAEA’s decisions, including those concerning the Ukrainian nuclear energy facilities.

Mr. Chudakov concentrates all information on the intentions to build new nuclear power plants, interest in the latest developments, and improving the efficiency of technological processes. He is the first to know about countries’ plans to develop nuclear energy programs. What happens next? And then potential customers receive stunning offers from the Russian Rosatom, backed by Russian government loans.

Fact 3: Rosatom is an integral part of Russian foreign policy

Rosatom is actively establishing cooperation with countries that intend to develop nuclear energy. In 2023 alone, nearly 20 agreements and memorandums of cooperation were signed (see Annex 2). The geography of the new expansion is aimed at Asian and African countries that are interested in affordable nuclear technologies. The advantage of the Russian proposal is the all-inclusive service: Rosatom designs, builds, maintains, provides fuel for the NPPs, disposes of spent fuel, and trains personnel. At the same time, even the construction is often financed by government loans:

 ▬ Astravets NPP (Belarus) – the Russian Federation allocated a loan of USD 10 billion for the construction of the plant; 

▬ Rooppur NPP (Bangladesh) – the Russian party allocated a state export loan of USD 11.38 billion; 

▬ El-Dabaa NPP (Egypt) – 85% of the project construction cost is financed by a state loan of USD 25 billion from the Russian Federation; 

▬ Paks II NPP (Hungary) – EUR 10 billion out of EUR 12.5 billion for the construction of new power units are covered by a Russian state loan.

A nuclear power plant maintained by Russians and using Russian nuclear fuel is an excellent tool for political influence. A striking example is Hungary, which is one of the countries most dependent on imports of natural gas and oil into the EU, especially from Russia. The country’s energy dependence is also significant in the nuclear power sector, as 100% of fuel used at the country’s only nuclear facility, Paks NPP, comes from Russia. The share of nuclear energy in electricity generation was 44% in 2021. Continuing the construction of a new stage of the NPP increases Hungary’s dependence on the aggressor country. 

Fact 4: Rosatom conducts large-scale activities in the occupied territories of Ukraine

Rosatom has been directly involved in the occupation of Zaporizhzhia NPP: the corporation’ employees have been exercising effective control over the nuclear facility since March 11, 2022. In October 2022, it was reported that a separate company, Zaporizhzhia NPP Operating Organization JSC had been established within Rosatom, to which Zaporizhzhia NPP employees were transferred to continue fulfilling their obligations. The IAEA mission at the plant repeatedly noted an extremely difficult the situation faced by the plant’s personnel and their families, and the Truth Hounds study cites the facts of abductions, torture and murder of plant’s employees and the involvement of representatives of the Russian nuclear giant.

According to information published by Russian media, Rosatom buys electricity generated in the occupied territories. It covers approximately 70% of consumption, so the additional 30% is purchased from Russian regions adjacent to the occupied regions at market prices. The operator that will sell this electric to suppliers in the occupied territories is also a Rosatom entity, Yediny Zakupshchik LLC. 

Fact 5: Rosatom is actively buying up new assets

After the commencement of the full-scale invasion, Rosatom has continued to expand its structure, which can be seen as continued expansion in the absence of sanctions. Recently, Rosatom has been actively acquiring high-tech companies, including foreign ones. In the last 12 months alone, several facts about Rosatom’s M&A operations have appeared in open sources: 

In December 2022, Rosatom acquired 50% of one of the largest Russian developers of certified software and hardware information security products, Kod Bezopasnosti LLC. The company’s products are certified by FSTEC, FSB, and the Russian Ministry of Defense. Despite its cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Defense, Kod Bezoposnosti LLC is not subject to sanctions. 

In May 2023, Rosatom’s share in the South Korean lithium-ion batteries manufacturer Enertech increased from 49.16% to 98.32%. The first share purchase was made by RENERA (a part of Rosatom) and was completed in 2021. Enertech is not on the sanctions lists, but RENERA is on the sanctions lists of the UK and Australia. 

In May 2023, it is reported that Rosatom has become a new owner of Ilmenit Tougan Mining and Processing Plant, one of the largest producers of titanium and zirconium in Russia. The transaction was completed by United uranium enterprises LLC, which is a part of the management scheme of the uranium holding ARMZ (Atomredmetzoloto JSC, a part of mining division of Rosatom). 

The full list of acquired assets is available in the analytics.

 

 

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Our platforms

https://ksep.energy/en/

Independent energy educational center

http://eiti.org.ua/

National website of Extractive Industries Transparensy Initiative in Ukraine 

http://ua-energy.org/

Information and analitical website “Ukrainian Energy UA-Energy.org” is unique   platform to inform