Ahem, gather round folks! It seems Uncle Sam has left his top-secret nuclear toys at a playground in Ukraine and is now gently reminding Russia to keep its hands off. This fascinating tidbit comes courtesy of a sternly-worded letter from the US Department of Energy sent to Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm.
In this riveting piece of correspondence, Andrea Ferkile (who holds the esteemed title ‘director of the Energy Department’s Office of Nonproliferation Policy’) warns that Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar is not just any old reactor. No siree Bob! It contains U.S.-origin nuclear technical data that are export-controlled by none other than Uncle Sam himself.
Now, you might be wondering – what does “export-controlled” mean? Well, it means if there are goods, software or technology that could potentially undermine U.S. national security interests (like say…a blueprint for Captain America’s shield?), they’re subject to U.S. export controls. Basically – don’t touch without permission!
What makes this situation even more tantalizing is that Russian forces currently have Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, in their control. It seems they got a bit too trigger-happy and the plant has been frequently disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid due to intense Russian shelling. This is causing Europeans to break out in cold sweats about potential nuclear accidents.
Despite being under the watchful eye of Mother Russia, it’s Ukrainian staff who are pulling all-nighters at Zaporizhzhia while Rosatom manages things. The Energy Department’s letter informs Rosatom that any Russian citizens or entities handling U.S. technology would be considered “unlawful”. Cue dramatic music!
CNN tried reaching out to Rosatom for comment but alas, no word yet! Perhaps they’re busy drafting a reply?
Satellite images show changes Russia are making to occupied nuclear plant. It’s like watching a reality TV show…but with potential global implications.
The letter gets into the nitty-gritty, explaining that it would be unlawful under U.S. law for any non-authorized persons, including Russian citizens and entities, to fiddle around with such technology or technical data without express permission from the Secretary of Energy.
Rosatom’s response to this strongly worded ‘keep your mitts off’ message is still unknown. But don’t worry! The authenticity of the letter has been confirmed by none other than Shayela Hassan, deputy director of public affairs for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Hassan even went on record saying that DOE doesn’t comment on regulatory activities (because why spill more teaSponsored Product when you can keep everyone guessing?). But there’s another twist! A second letter revealed that Uncle Sam had no record of authorizing any transfers of this technology to any Russian national or entity. Ouch!
In their defense, the U.S. has been pretty open about supporting Zaporizhzhia plant and even bragged on its website in June 2021 that they had helped implement new maintenance procedures at the reactor.
Whoops! A previous version of this story incorrectly reported who first unearthed these juicy letters. It was actually RBC Ukraine – talk about a plot twist!
US warns Russia not to touch American nuclear technology at Ukrainian nuclear plant | CNN Politics