1. UN Cameras Set Up at N.Korea Atom Complex - Diplomat
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U.N. monitors have set up surveillance cameras needed to help verify a continued shutdown of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, a diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday.
Half-a-dozen IAEA monitors will exit the Stalinist state this weekend after completing the installation of cameras and be replaced by a smaller team of two to keep watch, the diplomat said in Vienna, where the U.N. agency is based.
"It will be an ongoing verification process now, a regular rotation of monitors with cameras and seals on the equipment, minding the store. We're not aware of any difficulties."
An initial team of 10 IAEA monitors confirmed last month that Pyongyang had shut its Yongbyon nuclear complex, the source of weapons-grade plutonium used in a nuclear test explosion last October that shocked the world.
North Korea had expelled IAEA inspectors in 2002 after a 1994 disarmament deal fell apart.
Last February, Pyongyang agreed with five powers to mothball its nuclear infrastructure in return for a first instalment in massive energy aid to the impoverished state. The five are the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.
But they face an uphill battle in planned negotiations to get paranoid North Korea to carry out full nuclear disarmament by disabling its atomic facilities, accounting for all its nuclear devices and materials and doing away with them.
The United States said on Monday there could be a ministerial meeting as early as September between North Korea and four other countries to advance the disarmament process.
But a potential stumbling block to the disarmament-for-aid deal arose on Wednesday when North Korea called on regional powers to give it 50,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil a month.
India is free to test nuclear weapons under a much-touted nuclear deal with the United States, the country's prime minister said Monday as lawmakers opposed to the pact noisily demanded the agreement be scrapped.
The civilian nuclear cooperation deal reverses three decades of American policy by allowing the U.S. to send nuclear fuel and technology to India, which has never signed major international nonproliferation accords and has tested atomic weapons in the past.
Since it was first announced in July 2005, the agreement has been praised as a cornerstone of an emerging partnership between India and the United States after decades on opposite sides of the Cold War divide. But it has also drawn criticism in both countries.
In India, many critics simply oppose closer ties with the United States, arguing that the pact could allow Washington to dictate foreign policy to New Delhi and undermine the country's cherished nuclear weapons program.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insisted that was not the case in a speech to lawmakers Monday. The deal, he said, is ``another step in our journey to regain our due place in global councils.''
As for fears it could stymie the weapons program, which does not fall under the scope of the pact, Singh said: ``This agreement does not in any way inhibit, restrict or curtail our strategic autonomy or capabilities.''
While India retained the right ``to undertake future nuclear tests if it is necessary in India's national interest,'' the country nonetheless remained committed to its unilateral moratorium on tests, put in place after New Delhi detonated a weapon in 1998, he added.
As he spoke, lawmakers from the Hindu nationalist opposition and from communist parties that support Singh but oppose the deal sought to drown out the prime minister, shouting, ``cancel the nuclear deal!''
Similar protests by lawmakers earlier in the day forced the house to adjourn until Singh spoke in the afternoon.
Singh's speech follows the sealing of a technical pact, known as the 1-2-3 agreement, which details how nuclear cooperation between New Delhi and Washington is to work. India got nearly everything it wanted in the 1-2-3 agreement, including the right to stockpile and reprocess atomic fuel.
The deal also does not contain a test ban, and some clauses have been interpreted to mean that an Indian test would not automatically scuttle the deal if the move followed tests by either Pakistan or China, India's major rivals.
But Congress last year included a test ban when it created an exception for India to American laws that prohibit civilian nuclear cooperation with countries that have not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
That law, which was needed before the technical agreement could be worked out, has been seized on by Indian opponents as evidence that the U.S. is seeking to constrain the South Asian country's long-standing weapons program.
Although the Hindu nationalists have no chance of the defeating the deal, which does not need to be approved by Parliament, Singh's coalition government needs the communists for its parliamentary majority.
Still, few people believed the communists would bring down the government over the matter.
American critics, meanwhile, worry the deal will stymie U.S. anti-proliferation efforts, especially in Iran, and some have pointed to a lack of a test ban to support their case. Despite those concerns, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told reporters in New Delhi on Sunday that he was confident the pact would get congressional approval.
Lieberman, on a three-day visit to India, said he hoped the agreement would transform the U.S.-India relationship ``into the most important bilateral relationship we have in the next century of our history.''
Once U.S. lawmakers approve the deal, India needs to make separate agreements with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an assembly of nations that export nuclear material.
An Iranian MP says that Iran is to file a lawsuit against Russia at The Hague, because Russia has not fulfilled its undertakings towards Iran.
Rashid Jalali, a member of Foreign Policy and National Security Commission, said that Iran is to file the lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the next few days, according to the Aftabnews website.
"Russia has violated a treaty which obliges it to provide the nuclear fuel necessary for Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant."
Jalali pointed to the recent remarks made by Russian officials who have said no nuclear fuel will be sent to Iran unless Iran carries out the provisions of the UN Securoty Council sanctions and added that "our agreement with Russia should not be affected by political affairs since Iran's nuclear activities date back to some 35 years ago, but the West and Russia are politicizing Iran's nuclear programs."
"As far as nuclear activities are concerned, we have always maintained that Iran should not rely on the West and Russia and we should develop it ourselves," Jalali concluded.
1. South Africa: Bold State Bid to Put Country Back On Nuclear Map
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The government yesterday launched its draft policy on nuclear energy, which seeks to create a new industry around nuclear power generation to take advantage of SA's rich uranium deposits, develop technology and create tens of thousands of jobs.
The mineral and energy affairs department unveiled plans to promote the recycling of spent nuclear fuel as well as to rebuild SA's uranium enrichment capacity, which was originally developed for nuclear weapons but was voluntarily dismantled before 1994. Now, enrichment would be for peaceful purposes only, with the aim of producing nuclear fuel for SA's own new nuclear reactors and for the international market.
The plans are set out in a draft nuclear energy policy and strategy that the department unveiled yesterday, after the cabinet approved it for public comment last week.
The department hopes to finalise the policy before the end of this year. It follows President Thabo Mbeki's commitment in his state of the nation address in February to accelerate work that would pave the way for SA to increase its reliance on nuclear and renewable energy.
The department's chief director for nuclear energy, Tseliso Maqubela, said yesterday the nuclear policy aimed to ensure SA diversified its energy sources away from coal, addressing security of supply and global climate change concerns. "There is no way we can have a primary energy source such as uranium which we don't use fully," he said. Maqubela said it was envisaged that nuclear power would account for more than 15% of SA's total power generation capacity by 2025- 30, more than double the current 6%.
Eskom CE Jacob Maroga said last month the utility's aspiration was that half of the 40000MW it planned to add to its generating capacity over the next 20 years would come from nuclear, in line with its aim of cutting its dependence on coal to less than 70% by 2025, from the present 88%.
Eskom is due to detail plans for its new conventional nuclear power stations in March . Maqubela said it was looking at 4000MW of nuclear power in the first phase of the building programme and the figure would be increased from there.
The government is also looking to the experimental pebble bed technology to generate nuclear power in future years and has been working to bring international partners into the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project. Department director-general Sandile Nogxina said yesterday, however, the government would go ahead with the PBMR even if it did not get international partners .
But it would look for foreign partners who could come in on building the infrastructure for recycling spent fuel. SA does not have that infrastructure . Nogxina said that in the long term, the government wanted SA to be able to compete globally in the whole nuclear value chain, including the recycling of uranium.
The draft policy document proposes to recapitalise the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa, formerly the Atomic Energy Corporation) to co-ordinate investment in nuclear research and development and innovation. There will be a single national nuclear safety regulator, in the National Nuclear Regulator. But the document also proposes the creation of several new institutions, including a new national nuclear security agency, a national radioactive waste management agency and a national nuclear architectural capability. The policy makes Eskom the only generator of nuclear power, though Maqubela said the door was not closed for private sector participation, though this would have to be in partnership with Eskom.
On the mining side, Maqubela said the government would look to provide incentives to encourage the mining and beneficiation of uranium locally.
Nogxina also said the cabinet's approval last week of the Energy Master Plan did not imply that only Transnet could build a new fuel pipeline from Durban to Gauteng. P rivate sector consortium IPayipi has also applied to the National Energy Regulator to build the pipeline. Transnet's application still had to go through the regulatory process. The cabinet's endorsement in no way excluded participation of the private sector, he said.
Libya is sitting on a stockpile of almost 200 barrels of uranium despite agreeing in 2003 to dismantle its nuclear programme, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The revelation that Libya has not yet complied with the international agreement to get rid of its supply of uranium will be a particular blow to the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, after his recent move to deepen ties with the regime of Col Muammar Gaddafi. It will also be an embarrassment to France's first lady, Cecilia Sarkozy, who travelled to Libya last month to help negotiate the release of the six Bulgarian and Palestinian medics accused of infecting children with HIV.
Within days of that visit, France signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya involving the possible construction of a nuclear reactor for civilian purposes.
The uranium, in the form of 1,000 tonnes of yellow cake ore, is being stored at a military base at the desert town of Sabha. Nuclear experts with knowledge of the stockpile estimate its value at about 200 million pounds(Dh 1.48 billion).
Uranium is used to power nuclear power stations, but it can also be enriched to make nuclear weapons.
The Sabha base was linked with Libya's nuclear weapons programme in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2004. The base, some of which is believed to be underground, was also alleged to have been a chemical weapons facility.
After Col Gaddafi officially abandoned Libya's nuclear weapons programme in December 2003 in return for the lifting of US and European sanctions, the IAEA was supposed to oversee the country's disposal of its uranium.
An official close to the situation said: "Gaddafi has gone through the proforma process with the IAEA but he has delayed and delayed. He wants to use the uranium as a bargaining chip to get a reactor."
However, there is a view among nuclear experts that Gaddafi is very unlikely to be allowed to have a nuclear reactor, even if it is used for civilian purposes, due to fears Libya could use the technology to restart its military nuclear programme.
The US, UK and other member states of the IAEA, the world's nuclear watchdog, do not believe Libya should be given nuclear know-how, sources said, and are likely to block France's attempt to strike a deal with Gaddafi.
Questions might also be asked about how Libya came to possess the uranium in the first place. Industry insiders believe it was mined in Niger and acquired by Libya during the period of sanctions.
If France were to strike a deal with Libya over nuclear energy, the work would almost certainly be carried out by Areva, the largest nuclear company in the world.
A spokesman for Areva said discussions between France and Libya were "more political and not at this time commercial".
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