1. Australia pledges to unblock Russian nuclear deal - Lavrov
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Australia has assured Russia that it will do everything possible to ratify a nuclear cooperation deal with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
Australia announced on September 18 that it could abstain from the ratification of a deal for the supply of nuclear fuel to Russia over fears that Moscow may refuse to honor commitments under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The announcement came after the Australian parliament's international treaties committee had recommended that the government abstain from the ratification of the deal.
"Australia assured us that measures would be taken for a successful ratification," Lavrov said after talks between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
In September 2007, the Russian nuclear power chief, Sergei Kiriyenko, and the then Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, signed in Sydney a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement. Australia, the global leader in uranium production, agreed to supply fuel to Russia for conversion and use in its nuclear reactors.
The deal enables nuclear companies in both countries to sign direct contracts. A possibility is also envisaged for companies in third countries to place orders with Russia for the handling of Australian uranium, including conversion, enrichment and the production of fuel for nuclear power plants.
A previous bilateral agreement signed in 1990 allowed Russia to process Australian uranium, but only for third countries.
Australia has around half of the global uranium reserves. Russia holds third place, with prospected uranium reserves of over 1 million metric tons.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20081124/118477694.html
The State Department is reiterating that retrieving samples from North Korean nuclear sites is part of the agreement it reached with Pyongyang last month on verifying that country's nuclear program. U.S. officials say they expect the verification deal, including sampling, to be approved by all six parties to the Chinese-sponsored nuclear negotiations next month. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Though North Korea continues to insist it will not allow inspectors to remove samples from its nuclear sites, State Department officials say it is part of the agreement senior U.S. and North Korean diplomats made last month, and that sampling should be in the anticipated six-party protocol on verification.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Sunday at the APEC summit of Pacific countries in Lima, Peru that China will convene a long-awaited meeting of all six parties to the North Korea nuclear talks December 8th in Beijing.
The heads-of-delegation meeting is intended to ratify the October 11 U.S.-North Korean agreement on verifying the declaration of its nuclear program Pyongyang made last June.
U.S. officials have maintained since then the accord includes standard terms of recent international disarmament accords, including sampling.
But recent news accounts have indicated that sampling was a verbal agreement between U.S. and North Korean negotiators, and recorded only in notes by U.S. chief delegate Christopher Hill.
At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said whatever form the sampling commitment may be, it is a part of the U.S.-North Korean agreement and should be in the six-party verification plan as well.
"What we are going to work is to formalize this agreement. Regardless of which form it may be in, it is an agreement. That does no change it," said McCormack. "So what we hope is going to happen at this next six-party heads of delegation meeting is that this is agreed upon and put in a form that all the members of the six parties can validate."
A senior State Department official told reporters the United States has good records of all the conversations and understandings between Assistant Secretary of State Hill and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan.
He said he expects all those terms to be adopted in written form by the six parties when they meet in Beijing. In addition to the United States, North Korea and host China, the talks also include South Korea, Russia and Japan.
On a related matter, State Department Spokesman McCormack noted with concern the decision by North Korea to sharply cut back links to the South in a growing rift between the two Koreas.
McCormack said the United States has always encouraged direct discussion and direct interaction between the two, and North Korea can only benefit from greater contact with the rest of the world, including South Korea.
Available at: http://voanews.com/english/2008-11-24-voa68.cfm
1. Solana 'worried' by Iran's lack of cooperation on nuclear issue
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European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Friday he was "worried" by an international watchdog's report that Iran is not cooperating with calls to stop its sensitive nuclear work.
"I am worried (by) the report of the Agency in Vienna," Solana told reporters after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued its report on Wednesday.
Solana, tasked with the United States and five other world powers with presenting proposals to the Iranians to stop uranium enrichment, recalled that it is the second IAEA report to say "they are not cooperating.
"And some of the figures he offers about the quantities, the number of centrifuges, are troublesome," Solana added.
A top diplomat close to the IAEA said Iran was using some 3,800 centrifuges on November 7 and was ready to get 2,200 more working.
The IAEA in a restricted report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, said that "contrary to the decisions of the (UN) Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities."
And "as a result of the lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the alleged studies and other associated key remaining issues of serious concern, the agency has not been able to make substantive progress," it added.
The United States has joined powers China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany in pushing for sanctions against Iran. The Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Solana said he hoped that the Obama administration will be "more engaged" in negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program and that it take part "fully" in the negotiations with the five other powers and Iran.
For the first time during George W. Bush's administration, third-ranking diplomat William Burns joined Iran's chief negotiator Said Jalili and their counterparts from the five other powers at talks in Geneva in July.
Having long insisted that Iran suspend enrichment before meeting its nuclear envoys, officials from the Bush's administration effectively dropped their pre-conditions, analysts said at the time.
Solana, who last met Jalili in August, hoped new contacts with Iran would take place soon.
"There may be another contact in November. Not at my level. It will be below my level. My deputy and their deputy. It is not confirmed yet. It would not be a big event with publicity, it would be a discrete meeting," he said.
The top EU diplomat said he did not expect new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran before the Obama administration assumes its duties on January 20.
"From here to the new administration, I don't think there will be fundamental change on new sanctions. It does not mean that we do not continue applying sanctions," Solana said.
The major powers are trying to get Iran to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for an offer of broad cooperation that was presented twice, once in June 2006 and then again in June this year.
Washington and its western allies charge that Tehran's nuclear program is a covert one aimed at building a bomb. Iran denies the charges, saying it is for generating electricity.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5igdfpJYv6o46VWYN0G3fJgFAJWSg
1. China threat behind US N-deal with India: Brajesh Mishra
Indo-Asian News Service
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More than a month after India wrapped up its nuclear deal with the US, former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra on Tuesday said the perceived threat from China to US interests in Asia prompted Washington to offer the deal to New Delhi in 2005.
Mishra also said that the trajectory of the India-US relations under the administration of president-elect Barack Obama remains unclear.
“Obama is an unknown quantity for India and a complex personality,” Mishra said at a seminar on the India-US nuclear deal, which reopens global nuclear trade for India after a gap of over three decades.
The seminar, organized by the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, explored the ramifications of the deal on strategic equations among Asia's leading players like China, Russia, Japan and ASEAN.
“The deal is done and the US (under Obama) is not going to go back on it,” he said.
Recalling his conversation with an unnamed US diplomat, he said the US felt that China's twin objectives around 2004 were to get the US to move out of Asia and to increase its military capabilities vis-a-vis Washington.
Washington later on conveyed these concerns to Beijing, Mishra said.
“After the Iraq war, around 2004 the sentiment in the US against China became stronger. The US felt that the Chinese kept Washington out of the East Asia Summit,” Mishra, who served as national security adviser under the former National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said.
“A broad strategic understanding was reached in Washington on how India and ASEAN could be co-opted to contain China,” Mishra.
“The objective was the same: to retain US preeminence in the region at all costs,” said Mishra, an influential Vajpayee aide.
“The deal will be a plus point in the India-US relations. But its strategic implications involves China,” he said.
Over the last three years, Mishra has made remarks in support of the nuclear deal, but has also voiced reservations about some of its aspects, which could negatively impinge on India's nuclear deterrence.
Mishra's cautious remarks in support of the nuclear deal sometimes put him at odds with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), during whose government he served as national security advisor. The BJP has opposed the deal on grounds that it will compromise India's nuclear sovereignty.
The Manmohan Singh government has denied many a time that the nuclear deal was driven by a larger plan of containing China.
Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary, partially agreed with Mishra and placed the deal in the larger strategic context of the US' quest for continuing hegemony of the world.
“Only China can challenge the hegemony of the US in Asia. It was felt that India is the only country that can balance China,” Mansingh said.
Mansingh, however, struck an upbeat note on the future of the India-US relations under the Obama dispensation.
”Although Obama has come to power on the promise of change, you will see the least amount of change in one area: India-US relations,” he said.
“There will be a continuity in strong India-US relations. Nothing is going to be as effective as India-US strategic partnership,” he added.
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=Cricket&id=78c93b0b-c92c-4711-bc85-827ad6edf4dc&&Headline='China+threat+behind+US+N-deal+with+India'
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