Russia is now the largest player in the global nuclear reactor market, with Rosatom, its state-owned nuclear company, securing 60 percent of recent sales. Analysts say that by offering favorable financing from Moscow, Rosatom is able to significantly lower costs to countries interested in building reactors while developing strategic leverage over a country’s economy and energy systems.
The reason for this, according to energy experts from the Council of Foreign Relations, is that nuclear power is seeing a revival in emerging economies which are seeking nuclear energy technology from abroad.
“China and Russia are racing to dominate this space and win geopolitical leverage through potentially predatory state financing and full construction and operation packages. The United States, which used to lead in nuclear technology exports, has fallen behind because of restrictive export regulations,” energy analysts Varun Sivaram, Madison Freeman and Sogatom Saha write.
As Madison Freeman writes in Defense One, Russia and China are poised to exploit their emerging dominance in the international nuclear energy market, presenting significant national security risks for the United States.
According to the analysts, to get back in the game—and secure economic and security advantages that the growing export market presents—the United States should simplify export controls and invest in innovative nuclear technologies. To begin the task, the White House should turn to Saudi Arabia, which is looking to develop its own nuclear energy program.
But the chances for this are slim at this time, since the state-owned nuclear companies of China and Russia are directly lobbied for by top leaders, and their projects are given major financial support by state banks. Without this form of state support, U.S. companies find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to sell their product to foreign governments, experts say.