UN Secretary-General Ban Kim-moon is mulling a direct role in six-nation nuclear talks with North Korea and appointing a UN Korean Peninsula coordinator. According to an internal report entitled ï¿½Korean Peninsula: United Nations Policy and Strategyï¿½, the UN is hoping to get Ban and the world body involved in tackling the North Korean nuclear problem. It aims to supplement weak points in the six-nation setup and overcome obstacles in its aid projects to North Korea.
The report was written by the UN Department of Political Affairs in the form of recommendations to Ban. It urges proactive measures to boost UN activities on the Korean Peninsula and stresses the need to promote the six-party talks and start political dialogue with Pyongyang to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free.
As concrete steps, it suggests the UN chief should take part in the denuclearization process using his authority and put high-level UN coordinators in charge of the UNï¿½s aid programs for North Korea. It outlines options including direct political dialogue with North Korea and Banï¿½s participation in the nuclear talks as a negotiator or an observer. It stresses the need for the UN to make its own proposals for denuclearization and call on countries to support the UNï¿½s aid activities.
Ban is expected to appoint a UN envoy in charge of Korean Peninsula affairs to coordinate efforts. However, the report says he first needs to win approval and cooperation from the countries in the denuclearization talks and UN Security Council members. As part of its efforts, the UN also plans to call regular meetings among agencies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF. It will also hold regular dialogue with senior North Korean officials to discuss aid to the povertyicken country.
The secretary-general has yet to make a decision on the recommendations but is expected to approve them since he has promoted the appointment of an envoy and called for consistent UN action to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem since taking office early this year, a UN official said. Ban apparently wants to visit North Korea soon.
1. Iranian Negotiator Sees Grounds for Resolution on Nuclear Standoff
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Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani told the press in Tehran on June 6 that his recent talks in Madrid have led him to believe there are grounds for a resolution to the impasse over Iran's nuclear program, ISNA reported.
Larijani said he held "very transparent and clear" talks with the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and that Solana proposed ideas that will be studied by mid-ranking officials in the next two weeks, ahead of the next planned meeting between the two top negotiators. He said the two sides also discussed how to make good use of the more "rational and reasonable" atmosphere that Larijani said now surrounds Iran's nuclear program.
Asked if his negotiations will include the West's request that Iran stop uranium enrichment and related activities, Larijani said, "The direction of our discussions is essentially of a different kind." He said Iran's ability to clarify certain outstanding questions for the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) could contribute to a solution, and might help preclude further sanctions on Iran.
He criticized what he called the "political" move to transfer Iran's dossier from the IAEA to the UN Security Council, which, he said, has discredited the IAEA.
1. Bulgaria Reporting Progress in Quest for Energy Security
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In Varna and throughout Bulgaria, just over 40% of all electricity needs are provided using nuclear energy.
With nuclear plants providing two-fifths of its electricity, Bulgaria is looking to strengthen its base for energy security. Among the plans are two new nuclear plants at Belene, a project making progress after years of delays.
Over the coming decade, Bulgaria is expected to show a significant increase in its electric power demands, Lubomir Velkov, Executive Director of the National Electricity Company, said this week at the Annual Meeting of the Bulgarian Atomic Forum (Bulatom) in Varna. He said that progress toward building the Belene plant is a welcome sign for the country. "Bulgaria and other countries in the region already are experiencing shortages of electricity," he said.
The Belene plants are needed as replacements for four reactors that have been shut down at Kozloduy. Mr. Velkov noted that before the shutdown, Bulgaria not only met most of its own electricity needs, but ranked among Europeï¿½s top exporters of electric power.
Speaking at the Conference, Mr. Yury Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, emphasized that "the development of nuclear power is considered by many countries as a mechanism for increasing the security of supply" and for protecting the climate and environment. He said that the IAEA is looking forward to continued cooperation on a range of activities as construction of Belene moves ahead.
The Bulatom Conference is being attended this week by more than 150 participants from the Bulgarian nuclear community, and from Europe, the United States, Russia, the IAEA, and European Commission. The Conference was opened by the President of Bulatom, Mr. B.Manchev; the Minister of Energy, Mr. R. Ovcharov; and the IAEAï¿½s Mr. Sokolov.
Speakers and participants in the Forum congratulated the IAEA on the occasion of its 50th anniversary and expressed their appreciation for the IAEAï¿½s work to help countries develop and safely use nuclear power technology. Also noted was Bulgariaï¿½s cooperation and support to the work of the IAEA.
1. Dismantlements of Nuclear Weapons Jump 50 Percent
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Meeting President Bush's directive to reduce the country's nuclear arsenal, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that it has increased the rate of nuclear weapons dismantlements by 50 percent over last year's level, and will continue at the sharply higher rate for the rest of the year.
"NNSA is committed to carrying out the President's vision of the smallest stockpile consistent with national security needs. By dismantling nuclear weapons safely and efficiently, we are ensuring that the weapons can no longer be used again. This increased dismantlement work demonstrates that this country is serious about nonproliferation," said Bill Ostendorff, NNSA's acting administrator.
At the beginning of fiscal year 2007, NNSA established a goal to increase the dismantlement rate of retired nuclear weapons by nearly 50 percent, but because of dramatic improvements in procedures, tools and policies NNSA was able to reach this goal four months ahead of schedule. In order to increase its dismantlement capacity, NNSA made substantial investments in previous years across the nuclear weapons complex to hire additional technicians, purchase the right equipment and tools, and develop better safety and security procedures.
In 2004, President Bush directed that the size of the nuclear weapons stockpile be reduced nearly 50 percent by 2012 - making it the smallest since the 1950s. As a result of the increase in dismantlements and reductions, today's stockpile is one-quarter of its size at the end of the Cold War.
"Since taking his oath of office, this President has authorized a nearly one-half reduction in the size of U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. This shows a true commitment to shrinking our country's nuclear forces," said Ostendorff. "At NNSA, we've been able to make the President's commitment a reality by investing wisely in the people and tools necessary to get the dismantlement job done."
Increasing the dismantlement rate of excess warheads is a key part of NNSA's future plans to transform and reduce the nuclear weapons stockpile and develop a supporting infrastructure that is smaller, and more modern, efficient and secure to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Meeting this highly ambitious dismantlement goal took the effort of NNSA's entire nuclear weapons complex. This includes the three national nuclear weapons design laboratories (Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratories), and the Kansas City Plant, the Savannah River Site, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and the Pantex Plant. The dismantlement process begins at Pantex where the high explosives are removed from the special nuclear material, and non-nuclear components are either processed on site or are sent to other facilities within the complex. Y-12 further dismantles the uranium components. Other non-nuclear components are sent to Savannah River (e.g., pressure storage devices) and Kansas City (e.g., electrical components) for final processing. NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation moves the special nuclear material and some parts between sites, ensuring that the work is completed securely and on-schedule.
Once the weapons are dismantled, the plutonium will be placed in highly secure storage, until a facility is constructed and operating to turn the material into a fuel to be burned. NNSA's plutonium disposition program aims to eliminate a total of 68 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium both in the United States and in Russia, and is based on a 2000 nonproliferation agreement between the two countries.
Last year, NNSA dismantled the last W56 type nuclear weapon in the U.S. stockpile. The 1960's era system was safely and securely taken apart, never to be included among the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile again.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. Visit www.nnsa.doe.gov for more information.
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