Rosatom: Russia’s One Bright Spot (Thanks to Hillary?)

 

MedvedevIn a depressing address to glum members of the Duma last week, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev enumerated a long list of crises and problems confronting the Russian economy. Medvedev blamed the country’s dire economic conditions on the double whammy of sanctions and falling energy prices, and laid out the anti-crisis measures that his government is taking to prop up banks, municipalities, small and medium-sized business, and the automotive industry, among others.

Two-thirds through his speech, Medvedev turned to two pieces of good news: a record harvest and the successes of the nuclear energy industry, under the umbrella of Rosatom (“Russian atomic energy”), which builds nuclear power plants and weapons. Medvedev proudly characterized Rosatom as “stable” and praised that stability as “of critical importance” to Russia. Per Medvedev, Rosatom’s portfolio of nuclear power plant contracts rose from 12 in the previous year to its current 29. Medvedev praised Rosatom’s technology as cutting edge (contrary to its backward reputation from the Chernobyl era).

Medvedev, of course, did not mention any possible contributions Bill or Hillary Clinton may have made to Rosatom’s success, but the Kremlin propaganda machine claims Hillary Clinton either (A) had nothing to do with Rosatom’s acquisition of uranium reserves in North America or (B) that the transaction was America’s reset gift to Russia to promote warm relations.

According to analysts, no country can match Russia’s capacity to produce low-grade uranium. Moreover, 40 percent of U.S. nuclear power plants rely on recycled Russian uranium, lacking their own centrifuge enrichment capacity. No wonder Rosatom has been able to double its order book.