1. Nations Back Global Threat Reduction Initiative
Global Security Newswire
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More than 90 nations agreed Sunday to support a U.S. initiative to reduce the vulnerability of nuclear and radiological materials worldwide. U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) in May and received a broad endorsement for the effort during a two-day ï¿½partnershipï¿½ meeting here.
Abraham indicated Saturday that the United States would direct another $3 million toward initiative activities, adding to the more than $400 million already committed.
The threat reduction initiative seeks to identify and secure potentially dangerous materials at international nuclear research reactors. In particular, the program seeks to prevent terrorists from acquiring fresh highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel ï¿½ which could be used to create a nuclear weapon if enough were stolen ï¿½ as well as spent reactor fuel, which could be used to make ï¿½dirty bombs.ï¿½
The weekend meeting was jointly coordinated by the United States and Russia and held in the shadow of the adjacent International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters, as officials there discussed Iranï¿½s nuclear activities.
The GTRI effort was described by one U.S. official as being ï¿½like motherhood: everyone is for it,ï¿½ and a number of recent successes have bolstered its startup. In particular, the United States has financed or administered several missions to transfer fresh HEU fuel, from research reactors in Eastern Europe and central Asia, back to Russia, the original supplier.
Despite these successes, implementation of the global effort poses daunting obstacles, according to experts here. The hurdles consist of an incomplete inventory of nuclear materials worldwide, the cost of implementing reactor security or conversion measures, and some nationsï¿½ resistance to surrendering materials they believe give them more international standing.
The hopes for the program are ambitious.
ï¿½The challenge we face in the 21st century ï¿½ is not just a challenge related to securing dangerous materials,ï¿½ Abraham said in his opening statement to the meeting. ï¿½Rather, the challenge that confronts us is directed at thwarting the aims of senseless killers, killers always searching for more treacherous means to sow terror and death.ï¿½
To date, U.S.-sponsored missions have returned weapon-usable materials from a number of research reactors to Russia. These missions include the repatriation of 48 kilograms of HEU fuel from Serbia, 14 kilograms from Romania, 17 kilograms from Bulgaria, nearly 17 kilograms from Libya, and most recently 11 kilograms of enriched uranium from Uzbekistan.
In addition, the United States recently retrieved spent nuclear fuel assemblies it had provided to research reactors in Germany.
More missions are expected in the near future, with Russiaï¿½s top nuclear official Alexander Rumyantsev announcing Monday that discussions were under way to remove fresh fuel from Ukraine and the Czech Republic, and that efforts to collect spent fuel are being negotiated with Uzbekistan and Serbia.
These missions, however, have dealt only with known stocks of fresh and spent fuel.
A looming problem might be to simply identify and locate all the nuclear materials in the United States and Russia as well as the material those nations have supplied to the world over the past five decades.
ï¿½The first task we must undertake involves creating an official inventory of high-risk materials worldwide, which includes, but is not limited to, materials located at enrichment plants, conversion facilities, reprocessing plants, research reactor sites, fuel fabrication plants and temporary storage facilities. It also includes the kinds of material that could be used in a [radiological dispersal device],ï¿½ Abraham said.
This task would certainly be complicated at a global level, experts here said, but of more worry perhaps would be the initial problem of creating an accurate database of materials located in the former Soviet Union.
ï¿½We are well aware of the location of research reactors and critical assemblies,ï¿½ Rumyantsev said in a press briefing Sunday.
However, two U.S. officials said that the movement of nuclear research materials was so pervasive during the Soviet era that Russia does not have a complete understanding of where the materials are today.
An additional hurdle could be paying for the initiative on a global scale. The United States has so far funded the operations, but the plan calls for more expensive activities, such as converting HEU-fueled reactors to use lower enrichment levels.
A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report noted that in the United States itself there are eight research reactors that could be converted to use low-enriched fuel, but so far no funds have been allocated for that work.
Also hindering the initiativeï¿½s progress is the prospect that some nations could be reluctant to abandon their nuclear facilities, according to Bill Potter, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
In Russia alone, Potter said, no research facility has completely parted with its highly enriched uranium. The Russian sites ï¿½do attach importance of certain kinds to the presence of HEU,ï¿½ he said.
Therefore, in applying that experience to other former Soviet states and the wider world, it is critical that U.S. officials work diligently to understand what factors are important ï¿½ including financial and political ï¿½ to both site officials and national leaders, Potter said.
Despite these potential threats to the initiativeï¿½s progress, optimism abounded at the weekend meeting. Rumyantsev reported that 13 of the 17 nations with HEU-fueled research reactors have agreed to switch to low-enriched fuel. The remaining four face technical hurdles that will need more time to overcome, he said, but the problems would be solved.
ï¿½Together with the U.S. Department of Energy, we will certainly bring this job to conclusion,ï¿½ Rumyantsev said.
1. U.S. supports return of highly enriched uranium to Russia
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The U.S. has given a positive assessment to the return of highly enriched uranium from Uzbekistan to Russia, says a letter from U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.
Rice stressed the role the Uzbek leadership played in implementing the first experimental project of returning spent fuel to Russia, the Uzbekistan presidential press service told Interfax on Tuesday.
She said in the letter that Uzbekistan's decision would help others take similar steps.
The letter also noted that Uzbekistan's cooperation in this area creates an example for other countries, because there is an effort to stop using highly enriched uranium in research reactors around the world.
Uzbekistan's efforts will help provide safe and secure storage as well as the recycling of spent fuel to be used for commercial purposes, and, in this way, will strengthen the security of Uzbekistan, Central Asia and the entire world, the letter said.
Transportation of unused nuclear fuel from Uzbekistan to Russia, which is to be refined into low enriched uranium that would be unusable in nuclear weapons, took place on September 9, the presidential press service said.
The transportation of fuel was conducted with help from IAEA experts and the U.S. Energy Department.
1. US expert sketches nightmare nuclear terrorist attack on major city
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A trained nuclear engineer using material the size of an orange could build an atomic bomb to fit into a van, proliferation expert Laura Holgate said Wednesday, sketching a nightmare scenario of a terrorist attack on a major city.
She recalled that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center in New York in 1993 with a van loaded with conventional explosives.
Holgate told reporters at a meeting in Vienna of the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was "not widely shared and understood" how risky the current situation is, especially since terrorists would not necessarily need top-level scientists to build a bomb.
The nuclear threat remains the big one, and all too real, said Holgate, a senior member of the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) think tank and a former US Department of Energy official for disposal of plutonium.
She said the "raw material for nuclear terrorism is housed in hundreds of facilities in dozens of countries and inadequately secured."
"That's the central point of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative" which the United States and Russia have launched to repatriate highly enriched uranium (HEU) and to convert nuclear research reactors from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) use.
"We know nuclear theft is happening already," she said, saying that one institute in Russia has documented "23 attempts over eight years to steal nuclear bomb-making materials."
"We know these failed. We don't know how many succeeded and went undetected," Holgate said.
She also said she did not think terrorists had yet a nuclear weapon. "If terrorist organizations had been able to do this (obtain one), they would have used it by now," Holgate said.
The stakes are high.
"A nuclear device going off in any large city around the globe is going to kill millions of people," she said.
"The economic damage can be in the trillions (of dollars) and it can also be global," she said.
"This is in contrast to a dirty-bomb threat that tends to be hyped," she said about concern that terrorists could use conventional bombs with radioactive materials, contaminating areas with radiation rather than destroying them with the blast of an atomic bomb.
Holgate said a problem in making sure that nuclear materials are not lying where terrorists can get them is that there is "lack of acceptance" within the Russian government that "their material is not adequately secured and that there is a relationship between terrorism and these materials."
But she said the Russians seemed to be more aware of the threat since the Beslan school tragedy and a recognition of "weaknesses" in the Russian system, due to bribes and poor security.
The United States and Russia have produced most of the highly radioactive material now spread throughout the world.
Holgate said the United States and the then-Soviet Union gave out 20 tonnes of HEU in the 1950s and 1960s as part of the Atoms for Peace program for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
"Keeping track of where this HEU is now kilogram by kilogram is difficult." she said.
In addition, over 1,000 tonnes were created by the United States and the Soviet Union for their weapons programs, and there is no minute accounting for this.
William Potter, from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a California-based think tank, said that in addition the Soviet Union and now Russia have some seven icebreaker ships which use nuclear fuel enriched to about 60 percent, Potter said.
HEU is uranium enriched to over 20 percent, but weapons grade uranium starts at 80 percent enrichment for the U-235 isotope.
Holgate said terrorists could do without the sophistication needed for small bombs. "A truck size is probably a more relevant size," since such a bomb could be made with lower levels of HEU.
It is not only Iran or North Korea, which may raise concerns about nuclear developmentsVasily BubnovThe head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammad el-Baradei, said at a conference in Vienna that over 40 countries had nuclear programs developing. However, Baradei added, the countries might aim their programs at the creation of the nuclear weapon.
El-Baradei enumerated those countries, although experts believed that the IAEA's head implicated Iran, South Korea, several states in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Latin America and Canada, first and foremost. In other words, almost every part of the globe has a country (or countries), which may produce nuclear arms within several years.
The key document to regulate the issues of nuclear arms possessions is the Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed in 1986. According to the treaty, there are two categories of countries: nuclear and non-nuclear powers. Russia, the USA, Great Britain, France and China are de jure referred to the first category. All other states are categorized as denuclearized. The treaty binds the 185 signatory states not to produce or purchase nuclear weapons and recognize the control on the part of the IAEA. The document, however, does not make the countries shut down nuclear developments. The treaty only bans the proliferation of the nuclear weapon.
The treaty was originally concluded for the period of 25 years, it came into effect in 1970. The term of the document was prolonged in 1995. Several countries have never joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty at all. Two of those states have nuclear arms in their possessions - India and Pakistan. Israel is not a member of the treaty either, although Israeli authorities have never confirmed or rejected the nuclear possession of the state. North Korea pulled out from the treaty in 2003, which became an expression of the nation's protest against the US's pressure.
The countries that have nuclear programs are: Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and South African Republic. According to this list, it is not only Iran or North Korea, which may raise concerns about nuclear developments.
2. More Than 40 Countries Could Have Nuclear Weapons Know-How, IAEA Chief ElBaradei Warns
Global Security Newswire
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More than 40 countries may possess the technical knowledge to produce nuclear weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned Monday.
In addition to the declared nuclear weapons states, some ï¿½estimates indicate that 40 countries or more now have the know-how to produce nuclear weapons,ï¿½ IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in his keynote address to the agencyï¿½s general conference in Vienna. ï¿½We are relying primarily on the continued good intentions of these countries, intentions, which ... could ... be subject to rapid changeï¿½.
ElBaradei also suggested it was time to strengthen monitoring of nuclear activities, which until recent years has depended mostly on voluntary disclosure, the Associated Press reported.
Uncovered or suspected clandestine nuclear activities over the past two years in countries such as Iran and North Korea seem to have prompted ElBaradeiï¿½s remarks, according to AP.
The ï¿½relative ease with which a multinational illicit network could be set up and operate demonstrates clearly the inadequacyï¿½ of current nuclear export controls, ElBaradei said, referring to the nuclear black market revealed by the reported confession of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Nuclear technology is now so widespread that it is only political will which stops many countries from making nuclear weapons.
Iran denies it wants to build nuclear weapons
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN's nuclear regulatory body the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said recently that 40 countries could make the bomb if they wanted to.
The reason for this is that the technology legally used to enrich uranium to make fuel for nuclear power can easily be developed to make material for nuclear weapons.
A country could do this in secret or withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and do it anyway.
This is the Achilles' heel of the NPT - an agreement designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons while allowing countries access to nuclear power.
But if even only one or two of them go nuclear, or are thought to be doing so, it could bring tension and even war into their regions.
The United States has not ruled out the use of military action to prevent proliferation.
The US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton wrote in the Financial Times earlier this month:
"We are determined to use every resource at our disposal - using diplomacy regularly, economic pressure when it makes a difference, active law enforcement when appropriate and military force when we must."
Such a policy can be expected to continue under a second Bush administration. A President Kerry would probably be more cautious about the use of force.
Take Iran and North Korea, the two countries currently in the frame.
Iran says that it intends to enrich uranium to make fuel, claiming its right to do so. It is defying a demand from the IAEA for it to suspend its plan and await fuller inspections.
The US and others, including Britain, demand that Iran abandon enrichment altogether on the grounds that it cannot be trusted.
If Israel thought that Iran was using its enrichment capability to build a bomb, which Iran says it is not, it might attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel will certainly not give Iran the benefit of any doubt.
Only this week, reports emerged that the US was supplying Israel with 500 "bunker-busting" bombs which would be useful in any such attack. Israel has already started a diplomatic and media campaign to publicise its fears of Iranian intentions.
North Korea has withdrawn from the NPT and is said by British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell, who visited the country recently, to have produced possibly two nuclear devices already. Talks have so far failed to make it change its mind.
"A North Korean nuclear weapon could tip Japan and South Korea into making their own," said Dr Gary Samore, Senior Fellow for Non-Proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and a former official in the Clinton administration.
It would also force a second Bush administration to decide whether to keep talking, to reluctantly accept a nuclear North Korea and impose sanctions, or try to destroy its nuclear plants.
The risk of that is great. It could start a general war on the Korean peninsula.
Tightening the Treaty
There is a move afoot to tighten the NPT which is reviewed every five years. The next review is in 2005.
The Bush administration has proposed a number of Treaty amendments, the most important of which would stop the spread of enrichment technology.
"The first proposal would close the loophole in the Treaty that allows states such as Iran and North Korea to pursue fissile material for nuclear weapons under peaceful cover.
"Enrichment and reprocessing plants would be limited to those states that now possess them," John Bolton told a nuclear conference earlier this year.
Another proposal would prevent the sale of nuclear fuel to countries without a rigorous inspection regime.
However, Washington is not relying on the NPT being made to work more effectively.
It has initiated a much more active campaign which it calls "counter-proliferation."
It has formed the "Proliferation Security Initiative" with like-minded countries.
Sometimes called an "action not an organisation", the PSI is aimed at disrupting the sale and shipments of nuclear components, if necessary by interceptions at sea.
The US has also got the Security Council to pass Resolution 1540 which insists that member states tighten procedures to try to stop what are called "non state actors" i.e. rogue scientists from selling their wares and expertise.
The A Q Khan network
One such rogue scientist was Dr A Q Khan, the "father " of the Pakistani bomb, who was found to be transferring his expertise, certainly to Libya and possibly to Iran.
Pakistan began its nuclear programme in the 1970s
An interception of some his equipment on the way to Libya took place last year when a charter ship was diverted to an Italian port.
Libya subsequently renounced its secret nuclear programme and has been rewarded by the lifting of sanctions.
Libya is now held up as an example of how a rogue nuclear state can be brought back into the international fold.
Non-nuclear and strongly anti-nuclear countries like New Zealand point to two further flaws in the NPT.
They complain that the nuclear powers accepted as such under the NPT (the US, Soviet Union (now Russia), China, Britain and France) have not worked for total nuclear disarmament as they are supposed to and as they re-committed themselves to at the last NPT review meeting in 2000.
This leads to claims that the NPT is a club used by the powerful, especially the US, to keep down the weak.
The other flaw is that a number of nuclear powers are not members of the NPT. These are Israel, India and Pakistan. They are therefore free of restrictions. Iran for one says that this unfair and that Israel should be forced to give up its nuclear weapons.
Israel in turn claims that it is in special peril.
India and Pakistan argue that if the US and others have weapons for defence and proclaim the value of the nuclear deterrence, then so should they.
However, the failure to bring them into the NPT has tempted others to join them outside. North Korea has done so.
However, there have been non-proliferation successes.
South Africa and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. The whole of South America remains nuclear-free.
"The number of countries in the NPT which have pursued nuclear weapons is very small. Libya has given up. North Korea has left. That leaves the question of Iran, " said Dr Samore.
1. Nonproliferation and disarmament go hand in hand
International Herald Tribune
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Seven foreign ministers speak out Nuclear weapons, a legacy of the cold war, today give rise to dangerous new perspectives. Old and new threats converge, putting at risk the security of us all.
Seven years ago the foreign ministers of our countries - Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden - joined together in a New Agenda Coalition to work toward a security order where nuclear weapons would no longer be given a role. Today, we are more convinced than ever that nuclear disarmament is imperative for international peace and security.
We are faced with the perils of nuclear weapons finding their way into more military arsenals and the risk that these old tools of deterrence might become new tools of terrorists.
Nonproliferation is vital. But it is not sufficient. Nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are two sides of the same coin and both must be energetically pursued. Otherwise we might soon enter a new nuclear arms race with new types, uses and rationales for such weapons and eventually also more warheads. And the primary tool for controlling nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, risks falling apart, with further proliferation as a consequence.
The nonproliferation treaty cannot be complied with ï¿½ la carte. It is a legally binding agreement, which relies on a fine balance between the commitments of the five nuclear-weapon states - China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States - and those of the nonnuclear-weapon states. The heart of the treaty is that the latter will not develop nuclear weapons in return for which the nuclear powers will reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons.
In 1995 and 2000 this bargain was further refined. In 1995, the nonnuclear-weapon states agreed to the indefinite extension of the nonproliferation treaty, provided that the nuclear powers pursued nuclear disarmament and that all worked toward the entry into force of the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty.
In 2000, the nuclear powers made an unequivocal undertaking to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, and all parties adopted a practical plan for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Since then, however, very little progress has been made.
There are deeply disturbing signs pointing in the opposite direction. Instead of working toward the entry into force of the nuclear test-ban treaty, the United States, which was the first country to sign the treaty, has withdrawn its support. And China delays its ratification process year after year. Instead of eliminating nuclear weapons, some nuclear powers have plans to modernize or develop new kinds of nuclear weapons or new rationales for them.
Some even entertain the notion that nuclear weapons may be used pre-emptively against nonnuclear-weapon states. In Russia, nuclear weapons are increasingly seen as a possible defense against conventional weapons. Instead of destroying their nuclear warheads, the United States and Russia store them.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is an important step in the right direction, but it does not require the destruction of these weapons, does not include tactical nuclear weapons and does not have any verification provisions. The process is neither irreversible, nor transparent.
If the nuclear-weapon states continue to treat nuclear weapons as a security enhancer, there is a real danger that other states will start pondering they should do the same. Recent developments show that this has already happened.
What, then, can be done?
First, all parties must comply with their commitments under the nonproliferation treaty, and the treaty should be made universal. All states should raise the guard against the further spread of nuclear weapons. And the nuclear-weapon states must comply with their commitments and pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith. Any plans to develop new nuclear weapons, new uses, roles or rationalizations for their use, must be shelved immediately.
Second, the entry into force of the nuclear test-ban treaty should be pursued as a matter of urgency.
Third, talks on a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty should start immediately. The treaty would ban the production of key components of nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium, and form a cornerstone in the nuclear disarmament process.
It would impose restraints on India, Israel and Pakistan, the three states still outside the nonproliferation treaty. Together with the test-ban treaty, it would go a long way to uphold the nonproliferation treaty and strengthen the norm on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament.
The future depends on our actions.
This article was signed by Foreign Ministers Celso Amorim of Brazil; Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit of Egypt; Brian Cowen of Ireland; Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista of Mexico; Phil Goff of New Zealand; Nkosazana Dlimini-Zuma of South Africa; and Laila Freivalds of Sweden.
2. IAEA Director-General welcomes cooperation with Russia
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Mohammed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has welcomed Russiaï¿½s interest in finding ways to settle the problem of the storage and processing of nuclear waste, as well as its willingness to discuss the problem with IAEA. He said he was going to hold an international conference on those problems in Russia next year.
ElBaradei stressed that the problem of handling nuclear waste was rather acute. Some 50 countries, on whose territory used nuclear fuel is stored on a provisional basis, are trying to resolve it.
Mohammed ElBaradei spoke at a regular session of the IAEA General Conference, which opened here on Monday. A Russian delegation led by Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, is also taking part in its work.
The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) board of governors is to hold its session November 25, discussing the Iranian nuclear program. And now a few words about Moscow's possible position on Teheran's nuclear program during that session.
Moscow supported the latest IAEA resolution concerning the development of the Iranian nuclear program. But will Moscow agree to allow the UN Security Council to examine the Iranian nuclear file, if Teheran doesn't comply with specific provisions of the IAEA resolution? Well, this is a good question.
Russia and China voiced tough positions during the latest board-of-governors session, thus preventing the board from including the so-called "trigger mechanism", i.e. a provision on automatically sending the Iranian nuclear file to the UNSC, into the resolution. At the same time, this "compromise document" (to quote experts) is sending out a clear message to Iran. In short, the international community will adopt a "final decision" with regard to its nuclear program at the November 25 board-of-governors session.
The resolution is calling on Iran to declare a complete moratorium on all uranium-enrichment operations (as a confidence-building measure) and to unhesitatingly ratify an additional IAEA protocol to the IAEA-guarantees agreement. This additional protocol is an effective mechanism of IAEA activities, making it possible to conduct more prompt and augmented checks. However, Teheran opposes such checks today. Small wonder, the board-of-governors session examined among other issues a possible Iranian moratorium on all uranium-enrichment operations. Previous IAEA resolutions had repeatedly advocated such a moratorium on Iran's part.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has assessed this resolution, perceiving it as a compromise, which reflects the most important aspect, i.e. the prevailing opinion of IAEA member-countries to the effect that all remaining questions as regards Iranian nuclear activities should be answered as soon as possible. The Russian Foreign Ministry notes that the IAEA resolution provides specific guidelines for removing all remaining problems in the best possible way, that is, by means of cooperation. Among other things, the IAEA is calling on Teheran to once again impose a moratorium on all uranium-enrichment operations; Moscow, too, supports this call. Unfortunately, Teheran has partially revised its voluntary commitments in this field over the last few months, the Russian Foreign Ministry notes. Nonetheless, Russia hopes that every effort will be exerted this November (that is, when the IAEA board of governors holds its next session) in order to solve all existing problems and to ensure full compliance with the resolution's requirements. We hope that all the concerned parties will do their best in order to clarify all remaining issues and to facilitate normal, technical IAEA inspections in Iran, Foreign Ministry people noted.
Judging by these statements, Moscow will, most likely, be guided by IAEA findings concerning the Iranian nuclear issue's future, while formulating its position on Iran's nuclear program during the November 25 board-of-governors session. It would be quite appropriate to note in this connection that the IAEA board of governors reserves the right to discuss the expediency of adopting subsequent decisions on the Iranian nuclear program. In other words, the IAEA would wash its hands of the entire affair, in case Iran doesn't comply with the resolution's provisions, thus entrusting the future of its nuclear program to the entire international community.
2. RUSSO-IRANIAN NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE AGREEMENT HELD UP-RUSSIA'S NUCLEAR POWER AGENCY
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The agreement on the storage of nuclear waste from the Bushehr plant is being held up by the absence of an appropriate commercial deal, Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Nuclear Power Agency, said Tuesday in a RIA interview.
Mr Rumyantsev pointed out that "the construction of the Bushehr power plant is the only cooperation project between Russia and Iran in the nuclear industry." "This project will be implemented in strict compliance with the international law and the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said.
The Russian official also said that in his view, the IAEA Board of Governors' resolution on the Iranian nuclear programs, which demands that Teheran stop its works to enrich uranium and respond to all of the agency's questions till November 25, does not cover the Bushehr station.
Rumyantsev is now in Vienna, where he is attending the 48th session of the IAEA General Conference as the leader of the Russian delegation.
1. Russia, EU discuss increasing uranium supplies ï¿½ Rosatom
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Russia is holding talks with the European Union to increase supplies of uranium to the European market, Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) chief Alexander Rumyantsev told Interfax.
"Talks are already underway on this issue," he said.
Asked about the possibility of increasing supplies of uranium, he said that Russia will be able to do this without affecting supplies to the domestic market.
A Rosatom expert told Interfax earlier that Russia has sufficient uranium supplies for its nuclear power needs for the next several decades. "Current uranium reserves and production volumes make it possible to say that in the near future Russian atomic energy companies will not experience a shortage of this material," he said.
The burial sites of roughly 20 derelict radiation sources have been discovered in Belarus, the country's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sychev said in a speech at the 48th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) general conference in Vienna.
"Investigation into two of these sites proved their actual radiation threat," Sychev said.
Currently, "funds are being searched for to continue investigations and for the development of a prototype project for removing these sources from unsanctioned storage," he said.
Belarus is counting on help from the IAEA for the solution of this problem, he said.
"Today it is obvious that reaching safety when using nuclear fuel and radioactive waste is only possible with the participation of all countries in the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management," Sychev said.
He urged the countries that have not signed the convention to do so.
1. U.S. and Norwegian Government Sign Statement of Intent on Nuclear Emergency Management
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In an effort to combat terrorism worldwide and to strengthen international emergency capabilities, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Paul Longsworth today signed a statement of intent (SOI) with the director general of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) Ole Harbitz to reinforce cooperation in nuclear emergency management.
The agreement between the NNSA and the NRPA affirms a strong commitment by the United States and Norway to bolster the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) emergency preparedness and response capacity and to encourage all member states of the (IAEA) to accede to and implement the Conventions on Assistance and Early Notification.
The SOI stresses the importance of the conventions and illustrates the complexity and effort required to address nuclear and radiological threats.
"It is very important for countries to strengthen emergency response capabilities, especially given recent terrorists events. We are proud to cooperate with the government of Norway in this important arena," said Longsworth.
The two countries will continue supporting implementation of the International Action Plan for Strengthening the International Preparedness and Response System for Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies while providing technical advice and assistance to countries worldwide. Additionally, they will continue addressing future performance measures to improve the advisory, assessment and evaluation, monitoring and recovery functions of emergency response.
NNSA's Office of International Emergency Management and Cooperation (IEMC) will work with Norwegian counterparts, under the SOI. IEMC works with foreign governments and international organizations to enhance worldwide emergency response capabilities. The program shares information and helps develop programs and infrastructure to protect the public, workers, and the environment. IEMC also provides vital support to the IAEA, including radiation detection equipment and technical assistance.
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