In a letter to Rosatom last month, the US Department of Energy warned Russia not to alter key nuclear technology at a Ukrainian nuclear power facility.
Andrea Ferkile, director of the Energy Department’s Office of Nonproliferation Policy, informs Rosatom’s director general that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar “contains US-origin nuclear technical data that is export-controlled by the United States Government” in a March 17, 2023 letter reviewed by CNN.
US export controls apply to goods, software, and technology that could harm national security.
The Energy Department letter comes as Russian soldiers continue to control Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Zaporizhzhia, which Russia took after its invasion of Ukraine last February. Due to Russian shelling, the facility is frequently isolated from Ukraine’s electrical supply, raising European fears of a nuclear accident.
Rosatom runs the Ukrainian-operated plant. The Energy Department wrote to Rosatom that it is “unlawful” for Russians to handle US technology.
The letter states, “It is unlawful under United States law for non-authorized 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 authorize others to do the same, without such Russian entities becoming authorized recipients by the Sec.
Rosatom may have responded to the letter. CNN said that the letter is genuine.
RBC Ukraine reported the letters.
The National Nuclear Security Administration’s deputy director of public affairs, Shayela Hassan, confirmed the letter’s authenticity.
She added: “The Secretary of Energy has the statutory responsibility for authorizing the transfer of unclassified civilian nuclear technology and assistance to foreign atomic energy activities. DOE doesn’t discuss regulations.”
CNN reviewed Ferkile’s October 24, 2022 letter to the Energy Department’s Inspector General, which lists the US technology exported to Ukraine for use in the Zaporizhzhia plant and states that the department has “no record of any current authorization to transfer this technology and technical data to any Russian national or entity.”
In June 2021, the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced on its website that “the United States helped implement new maintenance procedures and operations at the reactor that should ultimately strengthen energy security” in Ukraine.
CORRECTION: The original news outlet that reported the letters was misattributed. RBC Ukraine.