1. UAE Calls for Safeguards Against Nuclear Threats
Indo-Asian News Service
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has called for developing effective safeguards for non-nuclear states against the growing threats or risks from nuclear weapons.
Addressing the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly Saturday, UAE's delegation member Hind Abdulaziz Alowais observed that nuclear disarmament has suffered a serious set-back, and urged a bigger role for the UN nuclear watchdog, WAM news agency reported Sunday.
Alowais pointed out that nuclear technology has been acquired by some states through bilateral cooperation with nuclear weapon states outside the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) while nuclear states have been working to make their arsenals more lethal.
'Some nuclear states have improved and developed nuclear weapons and their delivery system with a view to making these weapons more effective, while some others have introduced new types of offensive weapons in contravention with the non-proliferation system', he said.
Alowai also emphasised what he called attempts by certain nuclear states to develop a new concept for the strategic-defence doctrine based on nuclear weapons. 'The new concept is built on an offensive strategy, not a defensive one', he added.
'Therefore, we stress the importance of developing a universal, unconditional instrument that provides the necessary safeguards for non-nuclear states against any threats or risks that might result from the use of existing nuclear arsenals,' Alowai said.
1. IAEA Sees "Good" Iran Cooperation ahead of Talks
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A U.N. nuclear agency official described cooperation with Iran as "good" ahead of talks on Monday about Tehran's atomic work, after an Iranian warning that new U.S. sanctions could harm ties.
Iranian news agencies quoted Olli Heinonen, deputy director of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as making the brief comment upon arrival in Tehran for a new round of negotiations with senior Iranian officials.
Iran and the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog agreed in August on a timetable to answer outstanding IAEA questions about the nuclear programme, prompting world powers to postpone a third round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran until at least November.
Monday's meeting takes place amid rising Iran-U.S. tension. Washington, which has said the IAEA-Iran deal fails to address the core U.N. demand that it halt sensitive nuclear work, last week imposed new bilateral sanctions on Iran.
Previous rounds of talks in Tehran have lasted several days.
Iran rejects accusations it is seeking atom bombs and former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who remains an influential figure, on Friday said the latest U.S. measures could push Tehran to rethink its relations with the IAEA.
But when asked about Iran's cooperation with his agency, Heinonen said it was "good" even though much remained to be done, according to two Iranian news agencies, IRNA and Mehr.
"We have done many things, but much work remains and I hope we can do that," IRNA quoted him as saying at Tehran's airport.
Iran, which stonewalled IAEA investigators for years, is to provide answers in phases by the end of the year under the August agreement.
Mohammad Saeedi of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation voiced hope negotiators in this round could wrap up talks on Iranian centrifuges used to enrich uranium, which Tehran says is for fuelling power plants but the West fears has military purposes.
"We had two rounds of extensive talks with the agency, with clear and frank discussions," Mehr quoted him as saying. "Iran will continue cooperation as long as the agency has questions."
Iran uses a 1970s vintage of centrifuge, called P-1s, prone to breakdown if spun at high speed for long periods. It is researching an advanced P-2 model, which can refine uranium much faster, at sites off limits to IAEA inspectors.
IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei will report to the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors in mid-November. If Iran has not answered sensitive questions by then, Western powers say they will move to have harsh U.N. sanctions adopted against Iran.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed two sets of limited sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt enrichment.
North Korea Monday promised to start disabling nuclear plants this week, a South Korean official said as a six-nation meeting discussed compensatory energy aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
"Basically what the North Korean side said was that North Korea is moving to disable its nuclear facilities from November 1 and faithfully implement its second-phase denuclearisation measures under the February agreement..." Lim Sung-Nam told reporters.
In return, he said, "it expects the other five nations to provide the economic and energy assistance promised in the February 13 agreement in a timely manner."
Lim heads Seoul's team to the two-day meeting at Panmunjom on the heavily fortified inter-Korean border.
A European legislator said separately the communist state was committed to the February deal between the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan.
"For the North Korean side, they mentioned they will fulfil everything what they have signed in the six-party talks," said Hubert Pirker, an Austrian member of the European Parliament, after a week-long visit to North Korea.
After more than four years of stalemate, during which the North tested its first atomic weapon, efforts to permanently shut down its production of weapons-grade plutonium are gathering pace.
The hardline communist state agreed in February to declare and disable its nuclear programmes in return for one million tons of heavy fuel or equivalent energy aid, and later set a year-end deadline for this.
In July it shut its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and four related facilities and allowed inspectors from the UN atomic watchdog back into the country.
The disablement, to be supervised by US experts, aims to ensure the plants cannot quickly be brought back on line.
Lim, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said the energy-starved country had already provided a list of energy equipment and assistance it wants to receive in return for its nuclear shutdown.
An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the list included large amounts of steel and other supplies needed to repair and maintain thermal power plants. The road ahead could be bumpy "primarily because we'll be discussing extremely technical issues," Lim cautioned.
South Korean officials have said the North wants to receive aid equivalent to about 500,000 tons of oil partly in the form of help to patch up its decrepit power plants, with the balance coming in actual fuel.
"In certain cases, we may need to make sure these items will, in fact, be used to repair and maintain the North's power plants," Lim said.
The North has so far received 50,000 tons of oil each from South Korea and China. South Korean oil refiner GS Caltex said a ship carrying 21,000 tons of heavy oil provided by the United States -- the first shipment of a 50,000-ton consignment -- would arrive in the North later Monday.
Pirker said he saw a sense of urgency from the North to meet its commitments.
"I think they understand that only the success of six-party talks can bring better economic development for the North, better cooperation between North and South Korea and bring back North Korea to the international community," he said.
If Pyongyang goes on next year to dismantle the plants, and hands over its plutonium stockpile and any nuclear weapons, it can expect normalised relations with the United States and Japan, a lifting of sanctions and a pact formally ending the 1950-1953 Korean War.
1. Mubarak says Egypt to Build Nuclear Power Stations
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Egypt will build several civilian nuclear power stations to meet its growing energy needs, President Hosni Mubarak said on Monday, but did not indicate when the programme would get under way.
The president made the announcement a few days ahead of the annual congress of his ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and a year after his politician son floated the idea of a peaceful nuclear programme.
Mubarak did not say how much the programme would cost or how funding would be secured.
"We have to face the fact that oil and gas in the end are non-renewable energy sources," Mubarak said in a speech after inaugurating an electricity station north of Cairo.
"And we also have to admit that we are facing a great challenge to meet increasing consumption."
Washington voiced support of Egypt's plans to develop peaceful nuclear energy a year ago after the idea was floated by Gamal Mubarak and then taken up by the president. China, Russia and Kazakhstan have also offered cooperation.
Gamal's initial proposal had been greeted with scepticism by opposition groups, which dismissed his announcement as a media stunt designed to bolster his political credentials.
Officials put Egypt's oil and gas reserves at 15.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 34 years at current production rates.
The elder Mubarak said rising oil prices would nudge the government's energy subsidies higher to around 50 billion Egyptian pounds in the current fiscal year starting in July, from 43.8 billion pounds in the previous year.
The 79-year-old president, in power since 1981, is widely believed to be preparing Gamal, a senior ruling party official, to succeed him. Both father and son deny this.
Political analyst Mustafa Kamel el-Sayyed said the plans to develop nuclear energy appeared serious, partly to show that the younger Mubarak has made good on his proposal as he prepares for another party congress.
But he said the government's intent could be gauged more accurately when it presents a new budget in 2008, and he was watching to see if allocations would be made for the programme.
"Otherwise it will be sheer propaganda," he added.
Cairo suspended a peaceful nuclear programme after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies said the first 1,000-megawatt reactor could be built at Dabaa on the Mediterranean in eight to 10 years if foreign investment is secured.
Egypt ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1981 and has two research reactors. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probed "failures" in reporting nuclear research in 2004, but concluded that the experiments were not weapons-related.
The president said Egypt would cooperate with the IAEA and other international partners on its plans "in a framework of transparency and respect to our commitment according to the non-proliferation system".
1. China May Also Adopt Third-Generation Nuclear Power Technology from France and Russia
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China will not rule out cooperating with France and Russia to introduce additional third-generation nuclear power technology into the country on top of U.S. technology that has previously been selected, a senior official was cited by state media as saying at an industry forum yesterday.
Ma Lu, the vice manager general of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., was reported by Xinhua news agency to have said at the China-ASEAN Power Cooperation & Development Forum that a lot of new capacity needs to be added in order for the country to successfully reach its target of 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power generating capacity by 2020.
For this reason, Ma noted that China could potentially cooperate with other countries aside from the United States, such as France and Russia, in order to introduce additional third-generation nuclear power technology.
China launched its initial bid for third-generation nuclear power technology in 2003. U.S.-based Westinghouse beat Frances's Areva and Russia's Atomstroyexport, and as a result, signed a contract in July this year with China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. to supply four AP1000 reactors. The reactors are destined to be installed in the provinces of Zhejiang and Shandong.
At one stage, Areva was supposed to supply two EPR reactors to the Yangjiang nuclear power project in Guangdong Province. However, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, the project's chief developer, chose domestically developed CPR 1000 technology for the project in the end.
French media reported in August of this year that Areva will instead supply EPR reactors for the Taishan nuclear power project in Guangdong Province. Such a plan has neither been officially confirmed nor denied.
China currently has 11 nuclear generation units in operation, including three domestically produced reactors as well as four from France, two from Russia and two from Canada.
State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. was jointly established by the country's State Council, the China National Nuclear Corp., the China Power Investment Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, and the China National Technical Import & Export Corp. in May this year. The State Council holds a 60 percent stake in the joint venture, while the remaining four stakeholders hold 10 percent each.
The company has been specifically authorized by the State Council to represent the country in its plans to introduce third-generation nuclear power technology.
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