Uzbekistan's Nuclear Power Program and Its Impact on Regional Politics, Security, and Energy Balance
(Middlebury Insitute of International Studies)
In 2018, Uzbekistan announced its plans to build a nuclear power plant with Russia. This paper examines Uzbekistan's decision to embark on a nuclear power program by analyzing the country's motives to go nuclear and why it chose to do so in cooperation with Russia. It will also address certain security concerns which need to be considered when a country decides to develop nuclear technologies. The author believes that Uzbekistan's pursuit for nuclear power is foremost politically driven. It is a matter of national pride and prestige for Uzbekistan to host the first nuclear power plant in Central Asia. Uzbekistan's nuclear alliance with Russia will give a new spin to regional politics. Such development will counterbalance other sources of power, such as hydropower and natural gas, allowing Uzbekistan more leverage in its energy exports. The paper will also stress the responsibility of a nuclear newcomer to develop proliferation resistant technologies which will not compromise this country's adherence to nonproliferation regime and treaties. Findings for this paper will be derived from open source regional and Western literature and news reports, including official statements on this subject matter by Uzbek, Russian, other Central Asian officials, and international experts. The author will also interview experts from Uzatom (Agency for the Development of Nuclear Energy) to support her observations. The author hopes that this paper with help provide an understanding of Uzbekistan's motives in developing nuclear energy. It will also contribute to the general body of scholarly literature on nuclear newcomers and how the decision of one country in the region to go nuclear can affect regional power and energy balance.
Political Economy of Mining and Energy in the Post-Soviet Space