Russia has lost its place on stage at a key international nuclear summit in Washington that takes place next week, as United States authorities seek ways to limit the influence of Kremlin-controlled atomic fuel and technology suppliers on the global market.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Thursday that executives from Rosatom and Russia’s industry regulator were dropped from the agenda of next week’s meetings in the US capital. White House officials have been considering for months ways to reduce the Kremlin’s influence on global nuclear markets, where state-owned Rosatom continues to be the biggest exporter of nuclear fuel and reactors.
Russia has come under increased pressure at the IAEA for endangering nuclear security following the seizure of Europe’s biggest atomic-power plant early in its war against Ukraine. The Zaporizhzhia station, with six reactors designed to generate a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity, has subsequently been targeted by artillery and missiles, threatening to provoke a radiological accident.
Western nations have sought to isolate Russia from the world stage, including at the next Group of 20 summit in Bali. White House officials are taking extra steps to ensure President Joe Biden doesn’t encounter his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, next month on the Indonesian island.
US officials had warned that a Russian presence risked turning the October 26-28 meeting into a diplomatic nightmare. Russians have been replaced at next week’s event in Washington by senior US officials, including Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Nuclear officials from Argentina, China, Poland and South Africa are also on the revised agenda.
IAEA Director Rafael Mariano Grossi is also being urged to consider new rules to hold member states responsible for violating atomic safety standards.
“Nuclear installations should not be subject to the threat of attack”, wrote the IAEA’s International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group in a diplomatic note circulated last month. “It may be worthwhile to undertake the development of a formal instrument, perhaps even a code of conduct”.
US attempts to punish and potentially sanction Russia’s nuclear industry have run into roadblocks because of Rosatom’s systemic importance to global markets.