Russian Uranium

The Pentagon has recently shared its worries about Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear agency, furnishing China with highly enriched uranium for fast-breeder reactors. John Plumb, the US assistant secretary of defense for space policy, remarked that it was “very disturbing” to view the cooperation between Russia and China on this issue.

At a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces posture hearing, Mr.Plumb was briefed about the issue and expressed his concern over Russia and China’s cooperation on the matter, saying it was “very troubling.”

Plumb added:

“They may have talking points around it, but there’s no getting around the fact that breeder reactors are plutonium, and plutonium is for weapons. So I think the [Defense] Department is concerned. And, of course, it matches our concerns about China’s increased expansion of its nuclear forces, because you need more plutonium for more weapons.” 

The Russian incursion into Ukraine has caused Moscow to be effectively disconnected from the west. As a result, the Russians have been attempting to develop closer relationships with Beijing and are also trying to procure various types of weapons from them.

Sergei Lavrov
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov (Source: DIP Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation/Wikimedia Commons)

Moscow Aligns With Beijing

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated at a G20 gathering in India that Moscow is eager to further its relationship with Beijing.

Beijing has made no denunciation concerning the Russian invasion, and the US has cautioned China against arming the Kremlin.

According to Plumb, China is quickly broadening and diversifying its nuclear arsenal. He went on to mention that both China and Russia are considering the possibilities of utilizing nuclear weapons, space warfare, and long-range strikes to counter the US and its associates.

Recently, Russia has chosen to discontinue its participation in the New START treaty, the only existing treaty that limits the possession of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia to 800 delivery systems and 1,550 operational warheads each.

The agreement between Washington and Moscow also allows for swapping information pertaining to strategic nuclear arsenals and for a maximum of 18 inspections annually.

Nuclear Power Plant
(Source: Bret Arnett/Flickr)

Despite  US protests, China National Nuclear Corp. still accepted fuel from Rosatom for the CFR-600 reactor, which is of Russian design, with liquid metal instead of water used to regulate its operation. Information about this transaction was provided to Bloomberg by the Royal United Services Institute, a London research center. 

In the video below, CBS News talks about China’s plans for global dominance through nuclear expansion.

The extension of the Russian-Chinese nuclear partnership has significantly influenced the attempts to hinder nuclear proliferation. According to the RUSI data, the amount of highly-enriched uranium Russia exported to China for the CFR-600 between September and December is almost seven times more than the total amount taken out of circulation worldwide due to US and IAEA efforts in the last three decades.