Iran continues to send signals of its willingness to pursue further cooperation with Russia at the Bushehr NPP site. The construction of two new energy reactors might soon commence on the Persian Gulf coast. Russia has its own reasons to pursue such cooperation. Moscow needs an infrastructure project that would serve as an anchor in Russian-Iranian relations.
It is too soon to speak about North Korea rejoining the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The changing of the ruler in that country is no reason to believe that the situation will evolve. But we certainly must use this window of opportunity to make some progress toward reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Any decisions on the proposed second Bushehr reactor would have to wait until Iran answers the key remaining questions on its past undeclared nuclear activities. Meanwhile, commencing power generation at the NPP can have a positive influence on Russian-Iranian relations.
Russia’s negative image in nuclear security, export controls and nonproliferation dates back to the early 1990s; it is based on a combination of real problems that existed at the time and Hollywood-like stories in the media. Until recently, that image has often stood in the way of practical contacts and politicized nuclear energy cooperation between Russia and the United States.
The situation in Japan, unless it deteriorates dramatically, is unlikely to seriously influence the development and modernization plans of those countries that have been developing the nuclear power industry for a long time. The main reason is that no alternative energy source on the table today can match nuclear power in capacity terms.