1. Kazakh upper house approves nuclear-free zone treaty of C Asia
Xinhua News Agency
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Kazakhstan's upper house of parliament on Thursday approved Central Asia's nuclear-free zone treaty.
The treaty now awaits President Nursultan Nazarbayev's signature to take effect.
The treaty prohibits the conducting of nuclear experiments and the development, production and acquisition of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices in the zone.
Signatory states also shall not allow the storage of radioactive nuclear wastes in the zone.
The approval of the treaty will facilitate international cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear power, as well as reinforce peace and security, according to a statement issued by the International Affairs, Defense and Security Committee of Kazakhstan's lower house.
The establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia will also enhance the international nuclear non-proliferation system, the statement said.
Five Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan signed the nuclear-free zone treaty on Sept. 8, 2006, in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.
Semipalatinsk was the primary testing site for the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons before it was closed.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/12/content_10493738.htm
The presidents of Russia and Argentina Wednesday sealed an array of cooperation deals, including in nuclear energy, and vowed to work together to promote a "multipolar world."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and visiting Argentinian counterpart Cristina Kirchner held talks in the Kremlin that focused on promoting economic relations beyond trade towards areas like nuclear energy or military cooperation.
The two heads of state signed a political cooperation declaration calling for "serious reforms" of the global economy and backing multipolarity in the world.
Russia's nuclear agency Rosatom signed an agreement on "cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy" with Argentina's planning and state investment ministry. Further details were not released.
"We must reformulate the rules in the spheres of economics, finance and security," Kirchner, who is on her first visit to the country, told reporters after the talks.
"Living in the world without rules is bad, but even worse is living in the world where rules exist only for the weak and where the strong constantly break them," she said in a thinly veiled reference to the United States.
Medvedev, who has just returned from his tour of Latin America that included staunch US critics Venezuela and Cuba, struck a similar tone.
"The domination of one state -- the strongest, the largest, the most successful, is certainly inadmissible."
However, he cautioned that the two countries did not plan to cooperate "at the expense of anyone."
Medvedev said the talks also focused on possible participation of companies like state oil producer Rosneft in projects with Argentina.
"We have an opportunity to develop cooperation in the gas sphere, including in the construction of a gas pipeline to link Argentina and Bolivia," he added.
Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said after the talks Russian oil and energy companies, including Gazprom, have ramped up cooperation with companies in Argentina in the past months.
He added that participation of Gazprom in the pipeline project would ease access to gas fields in Bolivia and "guarantee efficiency of decision-making."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g8FUqxfAIPsgoHyySDz17g1Xj3aA
1. North Korea Nuclear Talks End; No Verification Accord (Update1)
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Talks on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program ended without an agreement on how to verify the extent of its atomic work, possibly denying the U.S. administration a chance to complete the task before President George W. Bush leaves office.
The latest round of negotiations with North Korea, also involving South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, broke up after a fourth day of discussions in Beijing yesterday. The government in Pyongyang rejected a document drafted by China’s delegation that would allow international inspectors to remove soil and waste samples from North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor.
“The North Koreans had an opportunity here. There was an open door, and all they had to do was walk through it, because five of the members of the six-party talks had all agreed on the verification protocol,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters. “Because they decided not to work with us, and the talks have devolved because they wouldn’t put it in writing, we are going to have to rethink some of this, action-for-action.”
The negotiations, hosted by Chinese officials, were intended to establish verification procedures, provide a schedule for disabling the Yongbyon plant and plan the delivery of energy aid to North Korea. The aid was promised in a disarmament agreement reached with North Korea in February 2007.
“We had some very ambitious plans for this round,” the U.S. chief negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, told reporters at a Beijing airport before flying to Washington late yesterday. “Unfortunately, we were not able to complete some of what we wanted to do.”
The six nations in the talks haven’t announced a schedule for the next round of negotiations, Hill said, declining to comment on whether another session would be possible before U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes office on Jan. 20.
North Korea indicated last month it won’t allow sampling, stalling implementation of the disarmament accord. Hill said previously that sampling is “the core focus” of efforts to verify North Korea’s disclosures about its atomic work.
“It’s not surprising that, among the aspects of verification, the North Koreans would have the biggest problem with sampling,” Victor Cha, a Georgetown University professor in Washington who engaged in the North Korea negotiations when he worked at the State Department, said in a telephone interview. “It leads to revelations that they don’t want us to know about.”
Removing the samples would allow inspectors to determine how much weapons-grade plutonium North Korea had produced before it began disabling the Yongbyon plant last year. North Korea has said inspections of nuclear sites would violate the country’s sovereignty and that the rules for verification should be agreed upon at a later stage in the disarmament process.
Under the 2007 accord, North Korea, which tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, agreed to scrap its atomic program in return for normal diplomatic relations with the U.S. and Japan, along with energy aid equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil. About half of the amount has been delivered to North Korea.
“Russia was scheduled to deliver the next shipment of heavy fuel oil to the DPRK,” Darby Holladay, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement, referring to the communist nation by its official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Given the DPRK stance at the six-party heads of delegation meeting in Beijing this week, that situation is under review.”
South Korea’s chief negotiator, Ambassador Kim Sook, declined to comment on whether energy aid would continue. He chairs a sub-committee under the six-nation forum that is arranging the energy aid.
“This is a very sensitive matter,” Kim told reporters in Beijing yesterday. “The issues of energy and verification are interlinked. I’ll have to report back to the Foreign Ministry about the results of this round and we would have to carefully examine how to proceed.”
The U.S. removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in October in exchange for the regime’s agreement on certain verification details, including sampling.
“If this has to be credible, there has to be sampling,” Cha said. “I think both the Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration don’t want an agreement where the North Koreans pretend to give up their nuclear weapons and where we pretend to believe them.”
The Chinese government issued a statement at the end of the talks yesterday, saying that the six parties “evaluated the progress made towards agreement on terms for verification.” It didn’t specify what that progress was.
“The fact that we engaged sincerely, and at times, heatedly, in discussions about verification can be quantified as progress,” South Korea’s Kim said.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a9KEdt83kZ.Y&refer=home
The United States warned Thursday that it will "rethink" its approach to North Korean nuclear disarmament after the latest round of six-country negotiations collapsed in Beijing.
"It's too early for me to say what the next steps are," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said after the talks failed to yield agreement on a mechanism to verify North Korea's statements about its atomic programs.
"Because they decided not to work with us, and the talks have devolved because they wouldn't put it in writing, we're going to have to rethink some of this action-for-action, which is what we had said we would do."
Perino referred to a landmark six-nation deal in February 2007 that promised diplomatic and economic incentives -- including energy aid -- to North Korea in return for giving up the nuclear programs it spent decades developing.
Another White House official said the talks' failure would affect US energy shipments to North Korea, but did not offer details.
Earlier, chief US envoy Christopher Hill departed Beijing after four days of talks, blaming Pyongyang for refusing to agree on a protocol to verify a historic declaration it made in June about its nuclear activities.
The six countries in the negotiations -- North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States -- had sought to formalize a verification mechanism agreed to in principle, verbally, in October.
"The idea was to put all of this on a piece of paper so that everybody could understand what had been agreed to in the verification discussions," and North Korea refused, said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
So "all the parties said, 'OK, let's adjourn the meeting, go back to capitals, think about it, and we'll keep working this process,'" McCormack said, saying "North Korea on this question is isolated."
North Korea's stance on sampling of material to be taken away for analysis was a sticking point, McCormack confirmed. The material "covered not just plutonium, but HEU (highly enriched uranium) and proliferation activity," he said.
With no date set for more talks, the deadlock this week all but dashed US President George W. Bush's hopes to make progress on North Korean disarmament before Barack Obama moves into the White House on January 20.
"What's unfortunate is that the North Koreans had an opportunity here, there was an open door and all they had to do was walk through it because five of the members of the six-party talks had all agreed on a verification protocol," said Perino.
The negotiations have suffered countless setbacks since they began in 2003 and did not stop Pyongyang from testing its first atomic bomb in 2006.
Perino indicated that it was unlikely Washington might backtrack on taking Pyongyang off a US terrorism blacklist, but warned that "one of the things people think about is energy assistance."
The next step was for Hill to report on the faltered discussions, she said.
"He is now on his way back to the United States and I'm sure he'll be briefing principals as soon as he possibly can," said Perino. "We'll keep you updated on next steps."
Another White House official said privately that North Korean leaders may be calculating that they may get a better deal once Obama takes office, but added: "I think they're miscalculating."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jPC_7LN-2tYT-l5vuU1jbKgQ10Pw
Reports from Iran indicate the government has rolled up a number of workers in its nuclear research program for alleged spying.
CNN said Tuesday the report came from a "semi-official" news agency in Iran that has ties to the Revolutionary Guards.
The report offered sparse details and did not say which foreign nation the suspects were working for; however, Israel and the United States have been at odds with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program.
CNN said the reported arrests come two weeks after Iran's Fars news agency said three alleged agents of Israel's Mossad had been arrested. The report said the suspects spied on Iranian military and nuclear facilities and had been trained in Israel to carry out terrorist bombings and assassinations.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/12/10/Iran_media_says_three_nuke_spies_arrested/UPI-29951228932890/
Iran does not currently have the capability to build a nuclear weapon, a senior Russian diplomat was quoted as saying by Interfax and ITAR-TASS news agencies on Tuesday.
"One cannot say today that Iran can create nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them," Vladimir Voronkov, head of the Russian foreign ministry's department of European cooperation, was quoted as saying.
"This information is confirmed by all the services responsible for the collection and analysis of information," he added, in an apparent allusion to Russian intelligence agencies.
Contrasting the stances of Russia and the West on Iran's nuclear programme, he said that "the difference is that our partners want to use instruments of pressure. We do not consider such instruments to be always effective."
Russia has resisted tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, which the United States and Israel fear is being used as cover to develop an atomic bomb.
Iran vehemently denies the allegations, saying its nuclear programme is civilian in nature and aimed only at generating electricity.
Russia is one of the six countries negotiating with Iran over the nuclear issue along with the United States, Britain, China, France and Germany. It is also helping Iran build a civilian nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
Allegations that Tehran is seeking atomic weapons have raised fears that the United States or Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.
Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Gulf/Iran_cant_build_nuke_bomb_Russia/articleshow/3813836.cms
1. US nuclear trade mission to visit India in January
Press Trust of India
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The largest trade mission of US commercial nuclear executives will visit India next month to develop business alliances for meeting collective energy security demands and enriching technology collaboration.
The United States India Business Council (USIBC) in partnership with the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Department of Commerce have scheduled the visit to India for January.
"US companies are solidly committed to India - to the heart and spirit and soul of the people as was so courageously demonstrated in Mumbai just ten days ago. The time is ripe to develop business alliances that will chart a dramatic course for the future of both our countries in terms of meeting our collective energy security demands, enriching technology collaboration, and protecting the global environment" President of the USIBC Ron Somers said in a statement.
Since rescheduling the mission on November 27, USIBC and Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) have augmented the delegation with additional leading US commercial nuclear suppliers. In total, the delegation will include more than 50 senior executives representing more than 30 of the world's leading commercial nuclear companies.
"Courageous action by India's Government, backed by stalwart US support, culminated in conclusion of the historic deal barely two months ago. US industry, including many of the commercial nuclear suppliers on this mission, provided massive political support for the deal in Washington.
Through the USIBC-led coalition for partnership with India, US industry joined with Indian Americans and policy experts to win final approval by the US Congress for ending India's nuclear isolation" the top advocacy group has said.
Available at: http://www.ptinews.com/pti%5Cptisite.nsf/0/4123D0B9EF8BC2DB6525751A001D59F2?OpenDocument
1. Hong Kong's CLP mulls expanding nuclear capacity
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CLP Holdings (0002.HK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), one of Hong Kong's two electricity producers, said on Tuesday it is studying the feasibility of investing in two nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 2,000 megawatts.
CLP already owns 25 percent of a nuclear power joint venture at Daya Bay, in the bordering mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, with partner China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding.
"We would like to make more investment. Right now it's a feasibility study only. It's not a firm commitment idea," Andrew Brandler, CLP's chief executive officer, told reporters.
The company is looking to generate 20 percent of its power from renewable sources, including nuclear, by 2020, Brandler said. Renewables accounted for more than 5 percent of its energy portfolio at the end of last year, according to its website.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idUSHKG3360820081209
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