Created: 5/29/1958

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The Current Status of the Soviet Nuclear Power Program


This report wot prepared by the Nuclear Energy Division, Office oJ Scientific fnledigcnce. Central InfelJigence Agency, fl woj approved by the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee which is composed ot representatives of tho Departments ol Stale, Army, Navy, Air force, Ihe Atomic Energy Commission, lhe Joinf Slaff, and Ihe Central Intelligence Agency. Jhc FBI abstained, Ihe subject being oalude of its jurisdiction. See appropriate loolnotes. how-ever, /or the diuenting trfmm of the Navy member.



The Current Status of the Soviet Nuclear Power Program

the problem

To determine the current status of the Soviet nuclear-electric power program and its expected growth

summary and conclusions

L Inhe Sovietsuclear power program callingotal totalled capacitylectrical megawatts (EMW)that thecr program will not attain this figure0 were containedoviet replyN questionnaire inhichrogram calling for three large stations and four experimental stations, the total capacity of which appeared to beMW. Two of these large stations were ratedMW apiece and each were to comprise two pressurised water-moderated, water-cooled reactorssame general type as athe third, ratedMW. was to use two reactors modeled after the first atomic power station atraphite-moderated and water-cooled. The four experimental stations wouldotal capacity ofMW. In, wc estimated that the Soviets couldMW0riority effort.

Recent statements by Soviet officials indicate that only two of the large stations are actually under construction, and these arc in early stages. One PWR station is now to be completed0 while the station with graphite-moderated reactors will probably have only one reactor ofMW capacity installed by the endhus, if all four experimental stations arc completedhe USSR would thenotal ofnsteadMW of Installed nuclear-electric generating capacity.

The above capacity probably does not include any power obtained from dual purpose reactors optimized for plutonium production with by-product electric power. Such reactors would be located al Soviet classified fissionable material production sites. We estimate that the Soviets willr more EMW from such reactorshis would giveotal of atMW of installed nuclear-electric generating capacity at that time.'

Despite the fact that the goalMW during the Sixth Five-Year Plan obviously will nol be mel. leading Soviet authorities are still quoting this figure in

Navy footnote on page i.

connecUon wilh nuclear power plants. This indicates that the Soviet program has probably not been modified downwards, but only stretched out In time. Thisdecrease In the amount of nuclear generating capacity to be installed0 indicates that the Soviets were overly optimistic with regard to their ability to solve quickly the technical problems associated with building and operating largescalc power reactors. (The slippage in Soviet plans for building nuclear power stations is illustrated by the chart on the next page.)


The Soviet Sixth Five-Ycar Plan6 announcementfor tho construction ot nuclear-electric power stations with an Installed capacitylectrical megawatts (EMW> by the end1 The most authoritative discussion of this program was given by Academician I. V. Kurchalov at Harwell in6 in his speech "Some Aspects of Atomic Power Development in the USSR" Kurchalov staled that "five prototype atomic power stations wUI be built ineriod. According to this program, lhe stations will be put Into operationome will go Into operationnd some" Kurchatov earlier in the speech had stated that the large power stations wouldapacityMW each. Two of the stations would employ pressurized-watcr reactors, one would use graphite-moderated, water-cooled reactors of the "First in the World" Atomic Power Station (APSype, and the station of the third type would employ gas-cooled, heavy-water moderated reactors. Kurchatov continued as follows: "In addition to these three types of large atomic power stations, wc will build and put into operation severalatomic installations with electric powerMWe then listed fouroiling-wateromogeneous thoriumraphitc-moderated. sodium-cooled reactor;ast plutonium breeder. Kurchatov mcnttoncd five prototype atomic power stations and then specified only four UrgeIt Is not clear whether the fifth was composed of the four experimental reactors or was one of thc three types previously described. In. The Soviet Atomic Energy Program, we estimated that the Soviets would not achieve their goalMW of installed nuclear-electric generating capacity by the end0 evenery high-priority effort.

The first hint that all was not well with the USSR's nuclear power program came in7 in the form of the Soviet replynited Nations questionnaire on nuclearhe following changes were noted from Kurchatov's Harwell speech:o mention was made of the station using heavy-water moderated, gss-cooled reactors-o date was set for completion of the two large PWH stations (caUed Project I) and Uie graphite-moderated reactor station (called Project) the power level was fixedMW for the PWH stationsMW for Uieype staUon. The Soviet reply to Uie UN questionnaire thusotal installed capacity ofMWn. we estimate that thc Soviets couldMW0igh-priority effort.

The Soviet papers on nuclear power presented at Uie Belgrade World Power Conference* held in7 made seemingly slight, but important, changes in Uie situation reflected by the reply lo Uie UN questionnaire. First, the Soviet delegate. S. A. Skvorlsov, in discussions stated clearlyMW PWR-type station was being built (instead of "will ben Uic central European USSRetailed




















UNE mi

descrlpUon of the station was giveneparate paper. Quoting irom the latter paper. "It is expected that the station will begin to supply the grid" Ho such descrip. Hon was given in Belgrade for thcypeairly preliminary design of the latter being given only in the7 issue of "Atomnayaecond, it was not stated directly that fioo of thetations would be built, as it was hi the reply to the UN questionnaire.

The abovehe apparent dropping or deferring of theemploying heavy-water moderated, gas-cooled reactors and the implied decision to begin construction of Uie PWK station before Uieype seem lo indicate that Kurchatov Is the guiding hand in the soviet nuclear power program. In discussions with Western scientistsurcliatov Indicated that the gas-cooled, heavy-water system might not proceed much further. He also said that he personally did not favor Uiceactor and seemed in general to be promoting the economic advantages of tho PWK type.

In evaluating Uie Soviet nuclear power program, considerable weight has beer, given to thc reply to the UN questionnaire and Uie Belgrade papers because these seem toruer appraisal of their progress than releases aimed at the nations! audience. The Soviets have never stated directly that the original goalMW by Uie end0 will not be met. On Uic contrary, in the7 Issue of "Atomnaya. A. Nlkolaycv. Deputy Chief of Uie Main Administration on thc Use of Atomic Energy, blithely talksMW during the Sixth Five-Year Plan androgram essentially the same as that described by Kurchatov inhrushchev, as recently asrench newspaperUiat atomic power plantsapacityMW would be built within the next few years, omitting any reference"

Thus, any failures or lack ofic Soviet program must be inferred from their current statements on the large |iower stations. For example. G. V. Yor-makov of the Ministry of Electric Power StaUonsn discussing the Soviet nuclear power program, described Uic large PWR station under the caption 'The First Giant of Atomic Powere said that "its first secUonowerMW0 will produce industrial current which will be fed into the unified power systems of Uie Europeaneveral other articles mention only one large nuclear power staUon under construcUon inThus, it appears quite definite that only one large PWR staUon will be in operationhe tempo of construcUon of the large graphite-moderated station Is not described so explicitly by Uie Soviets, but Uie indications are that It Is not progressing as fast as Uie PWH and that perhaps only one reactorMW capacity will be Installed' "

In the absence of further evidence, we assume that the Soviets will accord priority to the construcUon of their four experimental reactors included in Uie Sixth Fivo-Year Plan. The completion of these projects should provide themotal otMW of installed nuclear -electric generating capacity

The above estimate is based enUrely on what the Soviets hare openly told us in conferences, questionnaires, or published statements. However, there Is good reason lo believe that the Soviets are using some of their plutonium producing reactors for byproduct power.urchatov said that the heat from future plutonlum-producing reactors would be used, and wc believe power Isogical use.

A. Inecent report describing the Tomsk atomic energythree reactors, one in operation, one almost ready for service, and the thirdInitial stages ofhe reactor in operation Is apparently areactor, but the second and third reactors have associated with thembuilding and cooling lowers. Reportedly,MW turbines Power-generating building, giving total by-product power of

MW. Since the Soviets may be obtaining by-product electric power from Plutonium production reactors at other sites,yshtym and Krasnoyarsk wcUiat the Soviets will obtain atr more EMW from such reactors'through

here exists the possibility that the Soviets in theirMW plan Included power from such dual-purpose reactors but decided to omit mention of this type ofhe reply lo the UN questionnaire and in their Belgrade papers. Even if the above dual purpose reactors were included In the original plan, the Soviets still would notUWhe evidence available at this time is not sufficient toositive conclusion as to whether dual-purpose production reactors were an integral part of the original program.

"The Navy representative disagree- with the estimate of by-produel electric power from plu-tordum production reactors He believes thatnly one possible conclusion from some hiChlr debatable Intelligence, and Hut other conclusions are more plausible. For Instancehis mZ formauon may relate to one or more of the four experimental power stations described InI;he information may relate lo prototype propulsion reactors not Included In the Dower urogram.


Speech lo the XX Congress of the Communist Part? of Ihe Soviet Union. Kurchulov. Pravda.anuary nso (U)

Some Aspect* of Atomic Power Development In the USSR.. Kurchatov. Sperch at Harwell.6 (Ol

1 May Ml (Ul

FDD Translation No. 6SI, Russian Papers on Nuclear Power Presented at the World PowerBelgrade.une 1M7


hua (Science and7 (U)

SovelsklySoyu*7 (U)

romyshiennaya Kkonomlcheskaya daieta (Industrial Kcoiwxntcanuary ISM (u)BIS. USSR ii WM. No.8 ravda Ufcrainv (Ukrainian0 August (TJ)


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