1. Iran Says U.N. Decisions on Atomic Plans Worthless
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Iran will not abandon its atomic goals because of U.N. sanction resolutions that are "just a pile of papers", President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.
The Security Council has imposed two sets of limited sanctions because of Iran's failure to heed a demand to halt nuclear work the West believes is aimed at building atomic bombs. Tehran denies any such military plans.
"Some people tell us Iran's case is at the (U.N.) Security Council but we tell them those (decisions by the Council) are just a pile of papers. They don't have any value for us," Iran's ISNA news agency reported Ahmadinejad as saying.
Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, held talks in Rome on Tuesday with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who is representing world powers in a bid to end the atomic row.
Both sides described those talks as "constructive". Further discussions are expected by the end of November.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran works in the framework of the law. As we have said we want to talk and negotiate and we are ready to answer if there are any questions or ambiguities," Ahmadinejad told reporters after a cabinet meeting, ISNA said.
Six world powers have agreed to delay any further U.N. penalties until at least November. They want to see if Iran is cooperating with the U.N. watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in answering questions about Tehran's nuclear intentions and to await a report by Solana.
In comments carried by Iran's Mehr News Agency, Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to consider "constructive" proposals from Europe but said they should not adopt the "devilish behavior" pursued by the United States, Iran's arch foe.
The United States says it wants a diplomatic solution to the standoff but has not ruled out military action if that route does not work.
The president does not have the final say in nuclear policy or other matters of state in Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ultimate authority and has also said in the past that the Islamic Republic would not buckle under pressure.
1. Israel PM says Russia Pledged Not to Supply Nuclear Fuel to Iran
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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that during his visit to Moscow last week, the Russian president assured him that Moscow would not supply nuclear fuel to Iran, the Haaretz daily reported.
Olmert met with President Vladimir Putin last Thursday, a day after the Russian leader returned from a summit of Caspian States in Iran. During the talks in the Kremlin, the prime minister urged Putin to support international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The Kremlin confirmed that the sides had discussed Tehran, but did not give a detailed account of the negotiations.
The Israeli paper quoted Olmert as telling a meeting with Jewish groups in London on Tuesday: "I can reveal one detail of my meeting with Russian President Putin last week. Russia has decided not to supply nuclear fuel to Iran, in spite of all the declarations and the rumors. Russia understands the implications of its decision, and understands that the international community expects it not to supply that nuclear fuel."
The Israeli premier held a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier on Tuesday, at which Brown agreed to push for stronger sanctions against Iran, both through the European Union and the United Nations Security Council.
Olmert said: "If we come to terms today with the Iranian nuclear program, in the future we will need to pay an unacceptable price, one that we cannot tolerate. This is a long process that will not be resolved in the near future, but I am optimistic."
During his visit to Tehran last week, President Vladimir Putin said there was no firm evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. He also said Russia would complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iraq, and that Russia would supply nuclear fuel to the country.
Russian nuclear equipment export monopoly Atomstroyexport has been building Iran's first nuclear power plant despite opposition from Western countries.
Putin said Russia would start supplying fuel to Bushehr when a commissioning date is set, and contract obligations are amended.
"Under International Atomic Energy Agency rules, nuclear fuel will be supplied several months before a nuclear reactor is commissioned," he said.
1. Photos Said to Show Israeli Target in Syria ï¿½ Paper
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Independent experts have satellite imagery of what they believe to be a Syrian nuclear site targeted in an Israeli air strike last month, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said the photographs taken before the Israeli attack show buildings under construction similar in design to a North Korean reactor, the newspaper reported.
They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for a reactor, the Post said, citing experts David Albright and Paul Brannan of ISIS, a research group that tracks nuclear weapons and stockpiles.
Israel, an important ally to the United States in the region, has confirmed it carried out an air strike on Syria on Sept. 6 but has not described the target. Syria said only that the target was a building under construction.
Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, said the size of the structures suggested that Syria might have been building a gas-graphite reactor similar to the one North Korea built at Yongbyon, the paper reported.
According to an ISIS report to be released on Wednesday, the Euphrates River site is just north of the desert village of At Tibnah in the region of Dayr Az Zawr and about 90 miles (145 km) from the Iraqi border, the Post reported.
The Washington Post said some nuclear experts urged caution in interpreting the ISIS photos, noting the type of reactor favored by North Korea has few distinguishing characteristics visible from the air.
"You can look at North Korea's (reactor) buildings, and they look like nothing," John Pike, a nuclear expert and director of GlobalSecurity.org, told the Post.
The New York Times reported last week the site targeted by Israel was modeled on a facility North Korea used for stockpiling atomic bomb fuel.
Syria has one declared, small research nuclear reactor under safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has denied hiding any nuclear activity.
1. Sarkozy Announces Nuclear Cooperation with Morocco
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Tuesday that France and Morocco had decided to cooperate on civil nuclear energy.
"We have decided to launch a new project, that is civil nuclear energy," Sarkozy said at a state dinner held in his honour by Morocco's King Mohammed VI at the royal palace in Marrakesh.
Earlier on Tuesday Sarkozy told Moroccan lawmakers he would like to see the country create a civilian nuclear subsidiary in partnership with France, in the wake of reports that the French nuclear industry could do a deal to build a reactor to furnish electric power to the industrial town of Safi on the Atlantic coast.
"Future energy sources should not be the exclusive domain of more developed countries as long as international conventions are respected everywhere," he said.
"Saying that, it is also a way for me to convey to Iran that cooperation is possible and that we are not condemned to confrontation," he added, referring to the international standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme.
The Western powers suspect Tehran is secretly seeking to develop nuclear weapons, while Tehran says it is strictly to produce needed energy.
Both France and Morocco have appointed officials to develop their civil nuclear energy cooperation, the French president said.
Sarkozy arrived in Morocco on Monday for a three-day state visit, and has already officiated over the signing of over two billion euros (2.8 billion dollars) in business deals.
Top among them was an accord for French firm Alstom to build a high-speed TGV train link between the cities of Tangiers and Casablanca, jointly with the French state rail firm SNCF and the RFF rail track company, providing both rolling stock and signalling and safety equipment.
France will also build the Moroccan navy a multi-purpose frigate worth 500 million euros and modernise 25 Puma military helicopters and 140 army vehicles.
Sarkozy on Tuesday also said it is "essential to improve a controlled legal influx of people between the two coasts of the Mediterranean," as the European Commission unveiled in Brussels its new "blue card" labour scheme aimed at attracting highly qualified immigrants to the European Union.
King Mohammed VI said that Morocco wants an "advanced status" with the European Union, and called upon France to help push its European partners to grant his north African country closer ties.
Morocco, which signed an association agreement with the EU in 1996, has repeatedly asked for "advanced status" as an EU partner.
Nuclear powerï¿½s prominence as a major energy source will continue over the next several decades, according to new projections made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has just published a new report, Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power for the period up to 2030.
The IAEA makes two annual projections concerning the growth of nuclear power, a low and a high. The low projection assumes that all nuclear capacity that is currently under construction or firmly in the development pipeline gets completed and attached to the grid, but no other capacity is added. In this low projection, there would be growth in capacity from 370 GW(e) at the end of 2006 to 447 GW(e) in 2030. (A gigawatt = 1000 megawatts = 1 billion watts).
In the IAEAï¿½s high projection - which adds in additional reasonable and promising projects and plans - global nuclear capacity is estimated to rise to 679 GW(e) in 2030. That would be an average growth rate of about 2.5%/yr.
"Our job is not so much to predict the future but to prepare for it," explains the IAEAï¿½s Alan McDonald, Nuclear Energy Analyst. "To that end we update each year a high and low projection to establish the range of uncertainty we ought to be prepared for."
Nuclear powerï¿½s share of worldwide electricity production rose from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 16 percent in 1986, and that percentage has held essentially constant in the 21 years since 1986. Nuclear electricity generation has grown steadily at the same pace as overall global electricity generation. At the close of 2006, nuclear provided about 15 percent of total electricity worldwide.
The IAEAï¿½s other key findings as of the end of 2006 are listed below.
There were 435 operating nuclear reactors around the world, and 29 more were under construction. The US had the most with 103 operating units. France was next with 59. Japan followed with 55, plus one more under construction, and Russia had 31 operating, and seven more under construction.
Of the 30 countries with nuclear power, the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear ranged widely: from a high of 78 percent in France; to 54 percent in Belgium; 39 percent in Republic of Korea; 37 percent in Switzerland; 30 percent in Japan; 19 percent in the USA; 16 percent in Russia; 4 percent in South Africa; and 2 percent in China.
Present nuclear power plant expansion is centred in Asia: 15 of the 29 units under construction at the end of 2006 were in Asia. And 26 of the last 36 reactors to have been connected to the grid were in Asia. India currently gets less than 3% of its electricity from nuclear, but at the end of 2006 it had one-quarter of the nuclear construction - 7 of the worldï¿½s 29 reactors that were under construction. Indiaï¿½s plans are even more impressive: an 8-fold increase by 2022 to 10 percent of the electricity supply and a 75-fold increase by 2052 to reach 26 percent of the electricity supply. A 75-fold increase works out to an average of 9.4 percent/yr, about the same as average global nuclear growth from 1970 through 2004. So itï¿½s hardly unprecedented.
China is experiencing huge energy growth and is trying to expand every source it can, including nuclear power. It has four reactors under construction and plans a nearly five-fold expansion by just 2020. Because China is growing so fast this would still amount to only 4 percent of total electricity.
Russia had 31 operating reactors, five under construction and significant expansion plans. Thereï¿½s a lot of discussion in Russia of becoming a full fuel-service provider, including services like leasing fuel, reprocessing spent fuel for countries that are interested, and even leasing reactors.
Japan had 55 reactors in operation, one under construction, and plans to increase nuclear powerï¿½s share of electricity from 30 percent in 2006 to more than 40 percent within the next decade.
South Korea connected its 20th reactor just last year, has another under construction and has broken ground to start building two more. Nuclear power already supplies 39 percent of its electricity.
Europe is a good example of "one size does not fit all." Altogether it had 166 reactors in operation and six under construction. But there are several nuclear prohibition countries like Austria, Italy, Denmark and Ireland. And there are nuclear phase-out countries like Germany and Belgium.
There are also nuclear expansion programmes in Finland, France, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Finland started construction in 2005 on Olkiluoto-3, which is the first new Western European construction since 1991. France plans to start its next plant in 2007.
Several countries with nuclear power are still pondering future plans. The UK, with 19 operating plants, many of which are relatively old, had been the most uncertain until recently. Although a final policy decision on nuclear power will await the results of a public consultation now underway, a White Paper on energy published in May 20071/ concluded that "...having reviewed the evidence and information available we believe that the advantages [of new nuclear power] outweigh the disadvantages and that the disadvantages can be effectively managed. On this basis, the Governmentï¿½s preliminary view is that it is in the publicï¿½s interest to give the private sector the option of investing in new nuclear power stations."
The US had 103 reactors providing 19 percent of the countryï¿½s electricity. For the last few decades the main developments have been improved capacity factors, power increases at existing plants and license renewals. Currently 48 reactors have already received 20-year renewals, so their licensed lifetimes are 60 years. Altogether three-quarters of the US reactors either already have license renewals, have applied for them, or have stated their intention to apply. There have been a lot of announced intentions (about 30 new reactorsï¿½ worth) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now reviewing four Early Site Permit applications.
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