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Nuclear News - 8/26/2004
RANSAC Nuclear News, August 26, 2004
Compiled By: Samantha Mikol


A.  Nuclear Terrorism
    1. The wrong nuclear threat, Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune (8/26/2004)
    2. Washington accused of ignoring nuclear terror threat, Andrew Gumbel , The Independent (8/22/2004)
B.  Chemical Weapons Disposition
    1. Over 76 tonnes of lewisite disposed of in Saratov region, Interfax (8/23/2004)
C.  Sub Dismantlement
    1. Japanese Official Inspects Nuclear Sub Decommissioning In Russia, AFP (8/23/2004)
    2. Japan to dismantle Russian submarines, UPI (8/20/2004)
D.  G-8 Global Partnership
    1. UK gives Murmansk 15 million pounds for spent nuclear fuel facility , Bellona Foundation (8/26/2004)
E.  Nonproliferation Diplomacy
    1. U.S. pressure on Russia has no effect on completion of Bushehr power plant: envoy , Tehran Times  (8/22/2004)
F.  US-Russia
    1. ANALYST CALLS FOR U.S., RUSSIAN ACCORD ON CENTRAL ASIA AND CAUCASUS, RFE/RL Newsline (8/20/2004)
G.  Russia-Iran
    1. Russia denies Iran's nuclear plant facing delays, Reuters (8/26/2004)
    2. Iran's $1.1bn nuclear project, Associated Press (8/23/2004)
H.  Nuclear Industry
    1. ARMENIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO RESUME WORK AFTER CAPITAL REPAIRS, Gamlet Matevosyan, RIA Novosti (8/26/2004)
    2. Analysis: Nuclear Power Gaining Popularity, UPI (8/25/2004)
I.  Links of Interest
    1. U.S. nuclear reductions, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (9/1/2004)
    2. JOINT DOCTRINE FOR COMBATING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (7/8/2004)



A.  Nuclear Terrorism

1.
The wrong nuclear threat
Steve Chapman
Chicago Tribune
8/26/2004
(for personal use only)


On Sept. 10, 2001, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith arrived in Moscow to discuss the administration's efforts to protect Americans from being slaughtered by enemies striking out of a clear blue sky. President Bush, you see, saw the danger and was taking action. His chief defense initiative in his first eight months in office was to build a national missile defense to knock down ballistic missiles launched against us.

The next day, the American people discovered that North Korean missiles were not the chief peril facing the nation. Nor were they even the most immediate nuclear threat. It turns out that Al Qaeda had been in the market for nuclear devices that could be smuggled into the U.S. For these new terrorist dangers, national missile defense was pathetically irrelevant.

Yet the president, having made up his mind early on, was not about to let the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks change his mind. Recently, he said critics "are living in the past. We're living in the future." Declared the president, "We say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America and the free world, `You fire, we're going to shoot it down.' "

Faced with a system that could shoot down a missile, Bush would have us believe, tyrants would slink away and leave us in peace. In fact, an American missile defense--even if it works, which is by no means certain--would be a modest obstacle for any enemy with weapons of mass destruction.

Any nation that can build nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles can build enough of them to overwhelm our anti-missile system. It can also equip them with cheap, simple equipment to foil our interceptors. In this scenario, most defense experts agree, the advantage lies with the attacker, not the defender.

And while the defender must stop 100 percent of all incoming warheads to be successful, an attacker can inflict catastrophic damage on us with a penetration rate of 10 percent, 5 percent or even 1 percent.

But the enemy doesn't need ICBMs. A short-range rocket fired from an innocent-looking boat just off our coast could easily fly under the planned system. Or the boat could steam into New York Harbor, where an atomic bomb could be detonated. Or terrorists could sneak a nuclear device into Mexico and truck it across the border.

What we learned on Sept. 11 is that Al Qaeda doesn't hit our strong points, but our weak ones, of which there are still many. Given that, building a national missile defense is like buying flood insurance for a wooden house located in an arid wildfire region.

This program is especially puzzling when you consider that more plausible threats are getting shortchanged. Consider the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which provides funds for securing and destroying nuclear weapons and bomb fuel in the former Soviet Union.

The Bush administration has furnished fewer dollars for this effort than the Clinton administration proposed back in the peaceful days before Sept. 11.

According to a recent report by Harvard University's Project on Managing the Atom, "The amount of nuclear material secured in the two years immediately following the 9/11 attacks was actually less than the amount secured in the two years immediately before the attacks." Though critics say the real obstacle is not money but lack of cooperation from Moscow, Bush has yet to make it his paramount priority with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The second urgent danger is a terrorist shooting down a commercial airliner.

There are as many as 700,000 small, inexpensive shoulder-fired missiles in circulation in the world--like the Stinger missiles the United States shipped to Afghan rebels in the 1980s.

In 2002, terrorists believed to be connected with Al Qaeda fired one unsuccessfully at an Israeli airliner in Kenya.

Yet the administration acts as though the threat won't materialize until the 22nd Century. Anti-missile devices are already available and in use on Israeli airliners, as well as Air Force One, but nothing has been done to protect America's commercial fleet. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), whose bill would provide $10 billion to equip all 6,800 commercial airliners, has not been able to get the president's support.

It's a lot of money--until you compare it to the human and economic harm that would result from a single plane being shot down. And, notes John Pike, director of the defense research institute GlobalSecurity.org, "One year of the missile defense budget would protect all our airliners from Stingers."

Bush says his missile defense plan means he's living in the future. But it's no help against the gravest dangers, which are right here in the present.



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2.
Washington accused of ignoring nuclear terror threat
Andrew Gumbel
The Independent
8/22/2004
(for personal use only)


The Bush administration insists that its top priority is keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. But in a withering new book, one of America's foremost nuclear weapons experts argues that the White House has been so heedless of the threat that nuclear armageddon in one or more US cities is now "more likely than not" over the next decade.

Graham Allison, a former defence official under both Republican and Democratic administrations and now a leading researcher at Harvard, describes the Bush administration as "reckless" for its failure to secure fissile materials around the world and its apparent lack of interest in preventing North Korea and Iran from becoming nuclear powers. In his book Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, Mr Allison lays out a series of measures to minimise the risk that al-Qa'ida or another group could either build or buy a nuclear weapon and then smuggle it into the United States.

He demonstrates that the Bush White House, for all its bullish rhetoric, has taken none of them.

"No one observing the behaviour of the US government after 9/11 would note any significant changes in activity aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring the world's most destructive technologies," he writes. At the same time, al-Qa'ida is known to have taken steps to obtain nuclear weaponry since 1992, and has publicly stated its ambition to kill four million Americans.

"On the current course," Mr Allison concludes, "nuclear terrorism is inevitable." The most likely scenario, according to security experts, is that al-Qa'ida or another group would buy or steal fissile material and then construct its own bomb, using science that has been in the public domain for 30 years. Hence the urgent need to secure the world's relatively restricted stockpiles of that fissile material - either highly enriched uranium or plutonium. However, a programme for securing nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union, pioneered by US Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, has been so poorly funded that it will take another 13 years to finish at the current pace. "The incandescent and incontestable fact is that in the two years after 9/11, fewer potential nuclear weapons' worth of highly enriched uranium and plutonium were secured than in the two years before 9/11," Mr Allison told The Independent on Sunday.

A further 43 countries have varying amounts of fissile material as by-products of their civilian nuclear power industries, but as things stand the US is only willing to take this off their hands if they pay for the privilege.

Mr Allison described the Bush administration's approach to North Korea and Iran as "paralysis" - offering neither carrots nor sticks to prevent those countries becoming full nuclear weapons states. If North Korea developed a full nuclear production line - carrying with it the distinct possibility of selling parts or technology to the highest bidder - it would be "the greatest failure of American diplomacy in all our history".

A nuclear North Korea would almost certainly induce Japan and South Korea to develop their own programmes. And the Bush administration is talking about new nuclear tests and the development of so-called "mini-nukes" and atomic bunker-buster bombs.

Mr Allison ascribed many of the White House's failures to the war in Iraq, which, he says, has diverted attention and eaten up resources in a country that had neither nuclear weapons nor a nuclear weapons programme.

But he also accused the White House of a failure of imagination, an odd combination of denial and fatalism."They don't get that this is a preventable catastrophe," he said. An effective "war on nuclear terrorism", Mr Allison argued, would cost around $5bn (�2.75bn) per year. "In a current budget that devotes more than $500bn to defence and the war in Iraq," he suggested, "a penny of every dollar for what Bush calls 'our highest priority' would not be excessive."



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B.  Chemical Weapons Disposition

1.
Over 76 tonnes of lewisite disposed of in Saratov region
Interfax
8/23/2004
(for personal use only)


A facility at Gorny in the Saratov region for the disposal of chemical weapons has disposed of more than 76 tonnes of lewisite, a highly toxic chemical agent.

"A total of 76,539 kilograms of lewisite had been disposed of at the Gorny facility as of August 23," a spokesman for the Federal Industry Agency told Interfax on Monday.

The Gorny plant operates around-the-clock without days off or holidays, the spokesman said. The disposal process proceeds under the immediate control of inspectors from the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.


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C.  Sub Dismantlement

1.
Japanese Official Inspects Nuclear Sub Decommissioning In Russia
AFP
8/23/2004
(for personal use only)


A top Japanese official Monday launched a five-day visit to Russia's Far East during which he will check up on a Tokyo-funded decomissioning programme of idle Russian nuclear submarines.
Japan's Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Kazunori Tanaka is due to inspect facilities currently dismantling some of the 40 nuclear submarines decommissioned by Russia's Pacific Fleet as part of a Japan-funded programme to ensure nuclear safety in the region.

"The cooperation between Japan and the Far East has huge strategic and geopolitical importance not only for both countries but also for the blossoming and the stability of northeast Asia as a whole," Tanaka said Monday.

Japan has already poured 250 million dollars in the Star of Hope decommissioning programme, under which 40 nuclear submarines are due to be dismantled over nine years.

The scheme was signed one year ago during a visit by Japan's Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi in Russia's Far East.


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2.
Japan to dismantle Russian submarines
UPI
8/20/2004
(for personal use only)


Japan plans a second project to help Russia dismantle its nuclear submarines in early 2005, after completing the breakdown of a first submarine this autumn.

In October, Japan will finish the dismantlement of a Victor-III multipurpose submarine at a dockyard near Vladivostok in Russia's far eastern coastal region, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Friday. Spent nuclear fuel has already been removed and the vessel has been cut up.

Dismantled in the second project will be a Victor-I class multipurpose submarine, also moored near Vladivostok, the paper said. Both countries surveyed the submarine in July.

About 40 retired Russian nuclear submarines, a legacy from the Cold War era, have been left to rust, still containing their nuclear reactors.

Japan agreed in October 1993 to help dismantle the nuclear vessels, following an incident in which nuclear fuel leaked into the sea and its traces were later found in the Sea of Japan.

Japan has so far provided Russia with aid totaling about $230 million, some of which was used to build a facility in Vladivostok to dispose of low-level radioactive waste.


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D.  G-8 Global Partnership

1.
UK gives Murmansk 15 million pounds for spent nuclear fuel facility
Bellona Foundation
8/26/2004
(for personal use only)


According to the UK Government News Network, the money is part of the UK's contribution to a $20 billion pledge by G8 countries designed to counter proliferation of nuclear material, nuclear safety and ecological concerns in the former Soviet Union. It builds on �33 million already committed by the UK Government.

The money will be used to pay for an interim nuclear storage facility and 50 storage casts at Atomflot base in Murmansk. This will allow spent fuel currently being stored on board the Lotta, a nuclear fuel supply ship, to be safely stored on shore. It will also allow the Lotta to collect further fuel from outlying sites such as Andreeva Bay for safer storage. Speaking from Moscow where she was on an official visit , Ms Hewitt said: "The spent nuclear fuel at Atomflot presents a major nuclear security and environmental concern for the area. Securing it safely on land is a high priority for the Russian Federation and the wider international community. I am pleased the UK is able to help as part of its G8 commitment." Construction is due to start this autumn, with completion due early 2006.

In 2002 G8 Leaders pledged to provide up to $20billion over 10 years for a new global partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Prime Minister announced that the UK would make up to $750 million available to fund projects in pursuit of the partnership's aims.

According to the UK Government News Network, Great Britain�s funded work in North West Russia includes:
- �2 million on management of spent nuclear fuel stocks at Andreeva
Bay, a former waste nuclear materials site for the Russian Navy.
- �11.5 to dismantle two nuclear submarines, The Murmansk and The Archangel.
- �5 million on development of technical flotation solutions for transportation and storage of decommissioned submarines (funded jointly with the US and Norway - Arctic Military Environment Co-operation).
- �10 million contribution to the EU Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (to fund further environmental projects in north west Russia).

Other projects supported by the UK in Russia include:
- �5 million towards the Nuclear Safety Programme supporting some 26 projects to encourage the adoption of Western standards of safety and regulation for their operating plant as well as providing systems, training and expertise.
- More than 20 projects to to help retrain former weapon scientists and technicians with a commercial focus consistent with non-proliferation priorities.



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E.  Nonproliferation Diplomacy

1.
U.S. pressure on Russia has no effect on completion of Bushehr power plant: envoy
Tehran Times
8/22/2004
(for personal use only)


Iran�s ambassador to Moscow Gholamreza Shafei says Russia will complete Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant despite the U.S. threats.

The U.S. threats against Russia have had no effect on the project and hopefully the project will become operational at the scheduled time, Shafei told the Mehr News Agency.

Shafei also said the ties between Tehran and Moscow are on the rise.

In a recent visit to Moscow U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once again asked Russia to stop nuclear cooperation with Iran.


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F.  US-Russia

1.
ANALYST CALLS FOR U.S., RUSSIAN ACCORD ON CENTRAL ASIA AND CAUCASUS
RFE/RL Newsline
8/20/2004
(for personal use only)


Delaware State University Professor Sergei Lopatnikov, writing in "Argumenty i fakty," No. 33, argued that Russia should not compete with the United States in the Caspian region, Central Asia, or the Caucasus, and that Moscow should sign a formal Eurasian-Atlantic Treaty with the United States on the model of NATO. He contended that the U.S. military presence in these regions is more beneficial than harmful for Russia because it helps to block the penetration into Russia of Islamist extremism, not only into Chechnya and Daghestan but into the interior regions of Russia as well. In addition, Lopatnikov argued, the U.S. presence could counter the influence in those regions of China, which is strategically much more threatening to Russia because of Russia's weakness in Siberia and the Far East. Lopatnikov's proposed Eurasian-Atlantic treaty would include the United States, Russia, and all the Caucasus and Central Asian countries. Such a treaty, he said, would assuage Russian concerns
about the unchecked penetration of the United States into these regions and U.S. concerns about Russian cooperation with Iran.


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G.  Russia-Iran

1.
Russia denies Iran's nuclear plant facing delays
Reuters
8/26/2004
(for personal use only)


Russia's top nuclear body rebuffed on Thursday Iran's announcement that an atomic reactor Moscow is building for the Islamic state, long an irritant in Russia-U.S. relations, faced further delays.
Russia has been building the Bushehr plant in southern Iran since the early 1990s despite strong criticism from Washington which says Tehran can use it to make a nuclear bomb.

According to the latest start-up schedule seen by Reuters, Bushehr is due to come on stream next year and reach full capacity in 2006. But on Sunday, Asadollah Sabouri, Iran's senior nuclear official, said the plant would not start working until October 2006.

"I don't know what that is all about. We have not been officially notified of any delays. In fact, there are no delays," said Nikolai Shingaryov, a spokesman for the Russian Atomic Energy Agency.

"We intend to start it up in 2005. And we will do so."

Washington says Iran seeks weapons of mass destruction and has called on Russia to ditch the $800 million Bushehr project.

It also fears Iran would use the 1,000-megawatt plant as a cover for the transfer of other sensitive nuclear technology.

But Iran says it has no atomic weapons plans. Moscow also denies any suggestion that Tehran could make a bomb on the basis of the power station's technology.

Despite U.S. fears, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in June it was unconcerned by Russia's construction of the plant.

To allay U.S. concerns Iran could extract plutonium, which can be used in atomic bombs, from spent fuel at Bushehr, Russia has pledged to sign a deal with Iran to oblige it to return all fuel to Russia after a decade of use.

Russian Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev is due to sign the document in Iran later this year.


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2.
Iran's $1.1bn nuclear project
Associated Press
8/23/2004
(for personal use only)


Brushing aside US accusations that it wants to build atomic weapons, Iran said it has contracted Russia to build more nuclear power plants, while claiming two European countries have also expressed interest in helping construct similar facilities.

Russia is rebuilding Iran's first nuclear reactor, which was begun by West Germany but interrupted during the 1979 Islamic revolution. Damage caused to the facility in Bushehr, a coastal town in southern Iran, during the 1980-88 war with Iraq also led to its inauguration being postponed from last year to August 2006.

Despite the delays and the project's $US800 million ($1.1 billion) cost, Iranian nuclear officials say they want Russia to build more nuclear reactors to help generate greater amounts of electricity.

"We have contracts with Russia to build more nuclear reactors. No number has been specified, but definitely our contract with Russia is to build more than one nuclear power plant," Asadollah Sabouri, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran in charge of nuclear power plants, told reporters.

The spokesman for Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Nikolai Shingaryov, told The Associated Press by telephone he is unaware of contracts for Russia to help build any reactors other than the one being built now at Bushehr.

He said the original agreement signed during the 1990s called for Russia to help build two reactors at Bushehr, and that there have been discussions on the second one, but an actual contract would be needed to begin construction.

Sabouri said later Russia will build a second reactor in Bushehr and Iran is studying other sites here for more possible reactors. Most areas in Iran are prone to earthquakes, restricting choices for setting up nuclear facilities.

The Iranian official did not say when construction on any new nuclear reactors would begin, said Russia was obligated under a 1992 deal with Iran to build at least more than one nuclear reactor here, adding Tehran has carried out several studies and produced technical reports for the construction of new facilities.

Sabouri also revealed that at least two European countries had expressed interest in the projects, but refused to name them.

"They have given us documents expressing their readiness to join the projects. We welcome them. My message to the Europeans is that we have to pass the paperwork stage and go for binding contracts as soon as possible," he said.

The US accuses Iran of developing a program to make nuclear weapons but Iran has denied the charges, saying it is using nuclear technology to produce electricity, not atomic bombs.

Iran's Nuclear Energy Council says the country must produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear power plants by 2021 to meet Iran's increasing electricity needs.

"By 2021, Iran's electricity consumption will reach 56,000 megawatts and we need to have capability to produce 70,000 megawatts of electricity. Some 7,000 megawatts, about 10 per cent, will be met through nuclear power plants," Sabouri said.

Sabouri said the German-designed Bushehr plant being repaired and redesigned by Russia should be operational by August 2006. Repairing damage from the eight-year war with neighbouring Iraq, meeting safety regulations and redesigning the reactor has taken longer than expected.

"One of the reasons that it took a longer time was our attention to observing all nuclear standards on safety and environment," he added.

Sabouri said the Bushehr complex has the capacity to house at least four nuclear reactors.

During the Iran-Iraq war, work on a second nuclear reactor in Bushehr was partly completed before it sustained heavy damage during fighting. Sabouri said it was unfeasible to repair and rebuild that facility and Iran planned to construct a new reactor next to it.

Another possible site for building new nuclear reactors would be Darkhovein, a city close to the Arvand River in Khuzestan Province, south-western Iran, Sabouri added.

Despite US pressure against Iran, Russia has been reluctant to abandon the Bushehr nuclear reactor refit project, which is worth about $US800 million to Moscow. Sabouri said the project's cost would exceed $US1 billion.

He said Russia must provide Iran with nuclear fuel by the end of next year at the latest, or the Bushehr plant's inauguration will be delayed.

Tehran and Moscow have agreed to return the spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

"There is no ambiguity on returning the spent fuel. The Iranian government has already made the decision to return the spent fuel back to Russia. What we haven't agreed on with Russia is the expenses," Sabouri said.


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H.  Nuclear Industry

1.
ARMENIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO RESUME WORK AFTER CAPITAL REPAIRS
Gamlet Matevosyan
RIA Novosti
8/26/2004
(for personal use only)


The Armenian nuclear power plant, its work suspended for capital repairs, will be switched on on October 4. Capital repairs are carried out once in four years while a planned repair is staged every year.

This time the fourth turbine is to be repaired and the state of the reactor's metallic frame is to be fully checked. Besides, additional security measures and the re-fueling process will be introduced.

The process of closing the nuclear plant for capital repairs and re-fueling started in the early hours of July 30, 2004, a week after the delivery of the new nuclear fuel consignment worth $12 million had been accomplished.

The Armenian nuclear plant was commissioned in 1980 and closed in March 1989. It resumed its work in November 1995, following the acute energy crisis in the republic.

Equipped with the Russian reactor VVEP-400 of the first generation, the plant's second module generates the average of 30-40 percent of the republic's electricity. The station can function until 2016, according to experts.

In September 2003, the Armenian nuclear plant was passed for five years under trusteeship of the company INTER RAO UES, a subsidiary of the Unified Energy Systems of Russia and the Rosenergoatom concern.

The European Union has pledged to allocate 100 million euros for the conservation of the Armenian nuclear plant. But Armenian experts say that almost a million euros is required to set up alternative capacities in Armenia.


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2.
Analysis: Nuclear Power Gaining Popularity
UPI
8/25/2004
(for personal use only)


Nuclear power has become increasingly popular worldwide, particularly in the developing world, as a source of energy consumption, yet accidents involving radiation leaks continue in some of the world's safest nuclear plants. Amid rising oil prices, developing countries have little alternative but to depend on nuclear power.
Developing countries are increasing their nuclear power usage. Armenia has one working reactor; Bulgaria has two; Ukraine three, and Romania one. One nuclear power plant is under construction in Iran and three more are planned. A total of 27 nuclear power plants are under construction in developing countries.

Within the next several decades, energy consumption will at least double or triple in developing countries with growing populations and economies, according to Turkey's Hurriyet.

Building nuclear power plants is expensive, but their operational costs are relatively low. It is not difficult to obtain nuclear fuels such as uranium or thorium. Nuclear power plants also produce virtually no carbon emissions.

These power plants currently generate 16 percent of the electricity the world consumes, and currently account for 78 percent of electricity generation in France, about half of Belgium and Sweden's electricity, 28 percent of Germany's electricity, 20 percent in the United States, and 17 percent in Russia.

But even as nuclear power becomes increasingly popular worldwide, some developed countries are considering shutting down their plants amid plant malfunctions. Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden have decided to gradually phase out their nuclear power plants.

The oldest operating powerplant in Spain, the Jose Cabrera power station in Almonacid de Zorita, will be shut down on April 30, 2006. In 1994, more than 170 cracks were detected in the cover of the reactor vessel; the cracks were only repaired in 1997. Dismantling the station is expected to start in 2008 and completed in 2014 at a projected cost of $165 million, according to Spain's National Radioactive Waste Company.

Sweden's Nuclear Power Inspectorate intends to impose stricter safety measures on the country's nuclear power plants, which generate about half of the country's electricity, to bring the country into line with IAEA and UN standards, according to the Svenska Dagbladet. Renovation work will total $809 million. Citizens voted in 1980 to phase out nuclear power by 2010, but the deadline was scrapped in 1997 because the country had not worked out how to replace lost generating capacity.

Nuclear power plants have seen massive leaks throughout the decades in some of the world's safest plants as well as the world's worst, and increased safety measures by the IAEA and the UN nuclear watch dog have not helped prevent such leaks. The third-safest power plant in Russia, the Volgodonsk facility in the Rostov region, had to be stopped twice within the past nine months due to emergencies in November 2003 and January 2004.

Even Japan's Mihama plutonium-thermal plant, considered the world's safest power plant, saw four workers killed when steam leaked from a turbine reactor on August 9.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported the accident as the worst ever in Japan's nuclear powerplants: Trust was lost and the accident will have a great impact on future nuclear power development. And as nuclear powerplants get older and older, problems like pipe corrosion and equipment malfunction may increase.

Following the Mihama accident, Greenpeace Russia has expressed concerns over conditions at Russian nuclear plants. Japan's nuclear power plants are among the best in the world, Greenpeace said in a press release on Aug. 10. But in 2003, Japan failed to disclose the critical state of several of its reactors, which led to an immediate halt in operations at several nuclear plants.

Greenpeace reported that major disasters in Russia's nuclear plants were similar to the accident in Japan. There will be accidents as long as the nuclear power industry exists, and there could be a new Chernobyl at any moment, Russian Greenpeace head Ivan Blokov told Interfax on Aug. 8.

Russia has a history of accidents. Three people were killed in an accident at the Leningrad nuclear powerplant on February 6, 1974. The facility was the venue for another disaster in autumn 1975, which involved a radiation leak that continued for more than a month. Fourteen people were killed in an accident at the Balakovo nuclear plant on June 27, 1985.

A radiation leak also happened on U.S. soil when the 1979 Three Mile Island reactor leaked radioactive material.

Despite such malfunctions, developing countries continue to construct nuclear plants. A newly-built reactor in Ukraine, launched at the Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plant, went offline due to massive overheating on August 13. Ukraine has had several radiation leaks throughout the decade, according to Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative reports.

Equipment problems have also developed in two China-based power plants which Russia helped China build. Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Head Alexander Rumyantsev said that glitches arose in one reactor's equipment but hopes to eliminate those glitches within the next two months. Regarding another reactor close to Beijing, Rumyantsev told Interfax on Aug. 12, Some parts of the equipment, however, have started to malfunction, but we know how to fix them.

Slovenia's only nuclear power plant shut down automatically on August 10 as a safety precaution after a mistake occurred in the system that regulates the amount of nuclear reaction taking place in the reactor. According to a statement from the Nuclear Power Plant Krsko, the control rods that regulate the amount of fission lost power after their power source broke down on the evening of Aug. 9.

Another issue to consider is that nuclear technology can be used to make weapons as well as electricity. China and Pakistan signed a contract to supply a reactor pressure vessel for the second phase of the Chashma Nuclear Power Station in Pakistan. China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation Deputy General Manager Huang Guojun said Pakistan had pledged that technology would be used solely for peaceful purposes with no transferal to a third parties. It is difficult to ignore the fact that nuclear technology has benefits in addition to its primary function of electricity generation.

With no oil or gas of its own, Turkey has been debating the issue of construction of nuclear power plants in the country. But even if Turkey decides not to construct nuclear plants of its own, the country will be affected by any accidents that may occur in nearby countries -- just as in the case of the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

Earthquake-prone countries such as Armenia may see disastrous radiation leaks to one of its units if an earthquake occurs. One of Armenia's power plant units has been shut down for repairs and nuclear fuel loading in late July, according to plant General Director Garik Markosian.

Proper disposal of nuclear waste, meanwhile, is a growing problem in developing and developed countries. In short, nuclear power plants may be environmentally friendly and cheaper to operate generating a cheaper source of energy consumption - but with the risks the plants pose, no one wants to live near one.

Until about 2 billion years ago, it was impossible to have any life on Earth. That is, there was so much radiation on Earth you couldn't have any life - fish or anything. Gradually, about 2 billion years ago, the amount of radiation on this planet reduced and made it possible for some form of life to begin. It started in the seas, I understand from what I've read. And that amount of radiation has been gradually decreasing because all radiation has a half-life, which means ultimately there will be no radiation. Now, when we go back to using nuclear power, we are creating something that nature tried to destroy to make life possible, said Admiral Hyman Rickover, known as the father of the U.S. nuclear navy.



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I.  Links of Interest

1.
U.S. nuclear reductions
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
9/1/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.thebulletin.org/issues/nukenotes/so04nukenote.html


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2.
JOINT DOCTRINE FOR COMBATING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
7/8/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_40.pdf


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