Russia says it doesn't need US fuel for Zaporizhzhia

20 April 2023

Russia will switch the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant back from US-made nuclear fuel as soon as possible, according to reported comments from Renat Karchaa, an adviser to Rosenergoatom's CEO. It follows a CNN report that the US Department of Energy had sent a letter saying that the occupied plant in Ukraine "contains US-origin nuclear technical data that is export-controlled by the United States Government".

IAEA staff on a recent mission to Zaporizhzhia (Image: IAEA)

According to the CNN report the US DOE letter says: "It is unlawful under United States law for non-authorised persons, including, but not limited to, Russian citizens and Russian entities, such as Rosatom and its subsidiaries, to knowingly and willfully access, possess, control, export, store, seize, review, re-export, ship, transfer, copy, manipulate such technology or technical data, or direct, or authorise others to do the same, without such Russian entities becoming authorised recipients by the Secretary of the US Department of Energy.”

On Thursday, Russia's Tass news agency reported that a commentary by Rosatom says: "We have informed the Russian Foreign Ministry on our readiness to discuss with the American side the issues it is interested in within the framework of existing agreements between the government of the Russian Federation and the government of the United States on cooperation in the area of peaceful nuclear development."

The document reportedly says that Russia always "observes all international obligations in the field of non-proliferation and export control", and adds, according to the Tass report, that this position "fully covers" the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Meanwhile, a report by Reuters, citing Interfax, said that Karchaa had said the plant had about four years' worth of US-made fuel in reserves but would seek to replace it with Russian fuel as quickly as possible.

In a report of his comments by Tass, Karchaa is quoted as saying that the USA should negotiate with Russia over the presence of the nuclear fuel at the plant in a "constructive" manner, saying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could be involved and "all issues are resolved at the negotiating table between equals". It also says "he reiterated that Russia needs neither US nuclear fuel, nor US technologies".

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with six units, is Europe's largest. In recent years Ukraine has been diversifying its nuclear fuel supplies - since the war began it has halted all Russian fuel supplies. Zaporizhzhia is on the front line of the Russian and Ukrainian forces and has been under Russian control since its military took it by force in early March 2022. It has continued to be mostly operated by its Ukrainian staff. It has suffered some shelling over the past year and also had to rely on emergency diesel generators for essential safety functions when external power was lost. The IAEA has warned about the risks of military action in the vicinity of a nuclear facility and has been seeking to get the two sides to reach an agreement on safety and protective measures for the plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News