PODOLSK, Dec 5 — Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom today unveiled a new type of reactor for the future Chukotka icebreaker, as part of Moscow’s ambitions to develop a northern maritime route linking Asia and Europe.

Moscow hopes the development of a northern sea route, made possible by global warming and the consequent melting of glaciers, will enable it to redirect its hydrocarbons — now under Western sanctions — to Asia.

“The RITM-200 reactor is the newest reactor which will be part of the energy system of all modern icebreakers,” Vladislav Paikov, deputy director of ZiO-Podolsk, part of Rosatom’s engineering division, said at a presentation ceremony in Podolsk.

Paikov said the reactor type, two of which were presented on Tuesday, is “much lighter, much more compact and more powerful that previous similar reactors”.

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Maxim Kulinko, deputy director general of Rosatom’s Northern Sea Route Directorate, said the Chukotka icebreaker was planned to be ready for use by 2026.

He said the vessel would be suited both to sea voyages and river traffic, adding that Russia was putting in infrastructure to transport 150 million tons of cargo through the maritime route by 2030.

“RITM-200 as the head of the nuclear icebreaker is critically important for this infrastructure to be created and to work,” Kulinko said at the ceremony.

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Nuclear-powered icebreakers are more suited to the Northern Sea Route than diesel ones because of the power required and limited refuelling possibilities.

Russia has the world’s only nuclear icebreaker fleet. — AFP