Arctic Boost? Russia Offers South Korea Cooperation on Nuclear Icebreaker Project


Russia could help South Korea build a nuclear reactor for oceanic ships based on the RITM-200 reactor, which will be installed in the brand new Russian atomic icebreakers, according to a report released by the Russian nuclear company, Rosatom’s subsidiary.

“In November 2017, during the meeting in Nizhny Novgorod, representatives of the Korean Institute of Atomic Energy Research (KAERI) reported that the Korean side is currently considering the possibility of developing  a new reactor with the power of 150-200 megawatts for ocean vessels based on the RITM-200 reactor design,” the report says.

The Russian side said it was ready to cooperate with the Korean side in the building of a nuclear reactor if Korea sends its official request for cooperation with Russia and has the necessary approval from state-owned Rosatom,” the document added.

The RITM-200 is a nuclear reactor developed by the company OKBM Afrikantov and is intended to be installed in nuclear breakers and floating atomic stations.

Back in July, Rosatom published an informative video on the nuclear breaker Leader project, which will be the most powerful ship of this type in the world.

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The Leader will be able to navigate “at an economically viable speed of 22 kilometers per hour” through ice up to two meters thick and, at most, can overcome layers of ice up to four meters.

The construction of the nuclear icebreaker is considered an investment for the the Arctic that will allow an active and sustainable development of the inhospitable region, famous for its natural wealth and great logistical potential.

The leader’s predecessor, the Sibir icebreaker, is only being built in Russian shipyards and is the most powerful on the planet (60 megawatts), but will give way once the new project is finished. The Arctic is rich with oil and gold and allows for travel time between Europe and Asia to be shortened.

Many experts suggest that the Arctic will be an increasingly relevant geopolitical flashpoint in the 21st century. One particularly important index of Russia’s Arctic capacity will be its leading icebreaker and reactor technology, and especially the extent to which it shares such with other countries, for instance South Korea, or keeps such to itself.

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