On September 21, 2020, Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev delivered a statement at the plenary session of the IAEA General Conference, which opened in Vienna (Austria).

In his speech, he stressed that in the challenging times of the pandemic and the economic crisis it triggered, “nuclear power has yet again demonstrated its stability, environmental sustainability, safety and cost-effectiveness.” In this situation the IAEA “has demonstrated that it is an efficient and highly demanded international organization. Building on its unique expertise, the Agency has promptly arranged supplies of the state-of-the-art coronavirus diagnostic equipment to the countries that needed it most. Russia has not stayed behind either and provided financial support to the IAEA.”

Alexey Likhachev said that the nuclear industry in Russia had also been faced with the coronavirus challenge. “We have passed this test successfully: none of our construction sites have halted work in the course of the epidemic. Neither in our country, nor abroad. Power Unit 2 of Leningrad NPP-2 with the VVER-1200 reactor reached criticality in August. The construction of two power units at the site of Kursk NPP-2 with the innovative VVER-TOI design is also in progress. Using this opportunity, I congratulate our Belarusian partners on the commencement of the start-up stage of Ostrovets NPP that took place in August. This is the first NPP with VVER-1200 Generation 3+ reactor located outside of Russia,” he said.

The head of Rosatom also mentioned the commissioning of the world’s first of a kind floating NPP with two smaller-capacity reactors that took place in May. “The floating NPP in Pevek demonstrates unique opportunities of using floating power units in remote and hard-to-reach areas.

The construction of smaller reactors could mark the start of a new era in the world nuclear industry in the coming years. In this context, I suggest conducting, under the auspices of the IAEA, an update of the existing international rules and regulations related to smaller nuclear power plants. The impact of smaller capacity generation was first explored in the framework of the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles - INPRO, which marks its 20th anniversary this year.”

He also said that the current IAEA General Conference falls on the year of the 75th anniversary of the Russian nuclear industry. “Throughout all these years, we have been working to address global challenges. Rosatom’s mission reads “High technologies at the service of people”. Our job is to improve people’s life standards, and, ultimately, to contribute to the sustainable development of humankind. We build NPPs in Russia and globally, we develop non-power sectors and nuclear science, we help other countries master high technologies and create the nuclear infrastructure.”

Alexey Likhachev said that a comprehensive Nuclear Science and Technology Development Programme had been designed in Russia, which is one of the country’s nation-wide projects. “The President of the Russian Federation has already signed the respective decree about it. Two-component nuclear power engineering, closed fuel cycle, small- and medium-capacity NPPs, plasma technologies and thermonuclear fusion are our mid-term priorities. I am sure that if we remain committed to the principles of partnership, professionalism, and trust, if we prevent politicization of the nuclear industry, then we will handle all the challenges. The main prerequisite for this is uniting efforts of all the interested parties in various formats of mutually beneficial cooperation, with the IAEA playing the central role. On my part, on behalf and upon the instructions of the national leadership of my government I reiterate that Russia will continue to support the IAEA in all the domains.”