1. Diplomats: West opposed to IAEA nuke aid to Syria
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The U.S. and key allies object to an International Atomic Energy Agency offer to help Syria as it considers building a nuclear power plant because of suspicions it secretly worked on a program that could make nuclear weapons, diplomats said Friday.
The feasibility study carries a price tag of just of over $350,000, according to a copy of the confidential document describing it, which The Associated Press has obtained.
Considering suspicions about Syria, one of the diplomats said the cost is a problem for Western countries that provide most of the nuclear agency's budget when "it comes to explaining to the taxpayer at home how that money is being spent."
Beyond that, the diplomats said the U.S., Britain, France, Australia and other key members of the 35-nation board are concerned the assistance would send the wrong signal about a country under IAEA investigation.
Syria denies wrongdoing. But it has been under suspicion since Israeli war planes destroyed a facility more than 13 months ago that the U.S. says was a nearly completed plutonium-producing reactor built with North Korean help. Plutonium can be used to arm nuclear warheads.
The IAEA would help "select the most favorable nuclear power plant" and offer related help, according to the proposal.
Before the U.N. agency's next board meeting, starting Nov. 27, the U.S. and its backers are considering whether to openly oppose the project ï¿½ but obstacles stand in the way.
Resistance spearheaded by Washington led two years ago to the board effectively denying Iran technical help in building a plutonium-producing reactor, even though the Islamic Republic denies wanting to build a nuclear weapon.
But Tehran is under U.N. sanctions for defying the Security Council on demands that include a stop to construction of the reactor which ï¿½ like its uranium enrichment program ï¿½ can produce fissile warhead material. Syria is not.
That difference is leaving some nations that supported the U.S. on IAEA aid to Iran lukewarm about Syria, said one of the diplomats. He and four others discussing the issue with the AP asked for anonymity because their information was confidential.
Additionally, Western countries worry that too much pressure on the agency and Syria about the project might backfire. It could draw complaints from developing nations of Western attempts to deny them IAEA aid and thus deflect attention from the investigation of the alleged secret nuclear program.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the U.N. agency would have no comment.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is expected next week to circulate a confidential report to board members outlining the state of play in his agency's investigation. Diplomats told the AP last week that soil or earth samples collected by agency experts this summer at the bombed site revealed minute traces of processed uranium and other elements worth a follow-up.
Syria's nuclear chief Ibrahim Othman has said his country would wait for final environmental results before deciding how to respond to repeated IAEA requests for additional visits.
But a diplomat attending a closed agency meeting in September told the AP that Syrian Ambassador Mohammed Badi Khattab suggested his country would not allow further visits to the bombed facility and three other suspicious sites under any circumstances because it was still technically at war with Israel and was concerned any additional IAEA investigation would expose some of its non-nuclear military secrets.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ibbvKrJ2zpXsF5F9tM_rtfLwd8MAD94ERJ4O0
1. Russia to scrap all decommissioned nuclear submarines by 2012
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Russia will scrap all decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines by the beginning of 2012, a shipyard official said on Friday.
"All decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines will be disposed of in 2010, or no later than the start of 2012," said Vladimir Nikitin, general director of the Zvezdochka ship-repairing facility in Severodvinsk in northern Russia.
Nikitin said more than 200 out of 250 nuclear submarines built in the Soviet Union and later in Russia have so far been scrapped, many of them with financial support from other countries like Norway, Japan and the United Kingdom.
The official said the program to dismantle nuclear submarines from the Northern Fleet had almost been completed and the majority of vessels due to be scrapped are currently with the Pacific Fleet.
"At present, we must focus on the Pacific Fleet because the dismantling process is slower there," Nikitin said.
Zvezdochka is Russia's biggest shipyard for repairing and dismantling of nuclear-powered submarines. According to Nikitin, the shipyard has the capacity to dismantle up to four nuclear submarines per year.
During the dismantlement, spent nuclear fuel is removed from the submarine's reactors and sent to storage, the hull is cut into three sections, and the bow and stern sections are removed and destroyed. The reactor section is sealed and transferred to storage.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081114/118304346.html
A sailor set off the fire extinguishing system on a Russian nuclear submarine that killed 20 people in the deadliest incident since the sinking of the Kursk eight years ago, Interfax reported, citing the Prosecutor-General's Office.
The crew member of the Akula-class vessel switched on the system without authorization, the news agency cited Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the investigative arm of the prosecutor's office, as saying.
``He has already admitted his guilt,'' Markin said.
Twenty-one people were also injured in the accident that occurred during trials in the Sea of Japan when toxic gas used as a fire suppressant was pumped into the vessel.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=abvS1fWYYfUg&refer=europe
1. Israel urges "greater force" vs Iran nuclear work
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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Sunday for a stronger international campaign against Iran's nuclear program, to "thwart it with greater force."
"We must increase our measures to prevent Iran from achieving its devious goals," Olmert said in a speech to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. "Iran cannot become nuclear."
Israel and the West fear Iran may be using nuclear technology to develop a nuclear weapon, which the Jewish state sees as a potential threat to its existence. Iran says its nuclear program is solely for energy purposes.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE4AF22L20081116
1. S.Korea likely to provide nuclear deal aid to N.Korea - source
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South Korea is likely to provide aid agreed under a deal with North Korea despite differences in the North's nuclear verification process, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on Sunday, citing a diplomatic source.
"With consultations with respective countries, 3,000 tonnes of steel pipes is likely to be processed soon," Yonhap quoted the source as saying.
As a part of a deal it reached with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, the energy-starved North was to receive one million tonnes of heavy fuel oil, or aid of equal value for freezing operations at Yongbyon. It has received about half that amount so far.
Earlier in the week, North Korea had said the process of inspectors removing samples from a plutonium-producing nuclear plant was an infringement on its sovereignty and was not part of a disarmament-for-aid deal reached in six-party talks.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-36527520081116
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