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Nuclear News - 12/5/2008
PGS Nuclear News, December 5, 2008
Compiled By: Matthew Giles

A.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Bahraini King Meets With Medvedev, Ethan Wilensky-Lanford, Moscow Times (12/3/2008)
B.  Iran
    1. Iran to build 2 more nuclear reactors, PressTV (12/2/2008)
C.  India
    1. Nuclear business to top Medvedev agenda in Delhi, Sandeep Dikshit, The Hindu (12/5/2008)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. MIT solves plasma problem for clean fusion energy, helps France, Rick C. Hodgin , TG Daily  (12/3/2008)
E.  Threat Reduction
    1. Obama to appoint czar to stop nuclear and biological attacks, Bryan Bender, Boston Globe (12/2/2008)

A.  Nuclear Cooperation

Bahraini King Meets With Medvedev
Ethan Wilensky-Lanford
Moscow Times
(for personal use only)

President Dmitry Medvedev and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa agreed to cooperate on nuclear energy and promote economic ties after a meeting between the two leaders at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

After the meeting, Medvedev said there were "inexhaustible resources for building up" relations between the two countries and pointed to the nuclear energy and aluminum sectors as prime areas for cooperation, Interfax reported.

The Bahraini delegation said they supported Russia's initiative to host a Middle East peace conference during the first half of next year.

"We are hoping that this conference will be very useful in putting an end to the crisis in the Middle East," said the Bahraini ambassador, Abdulhameed Hasan, in a telephone interview.

At an earlier event on Tuesday, Bahraini businessmen and government officials praised Russian technological experience and described investment opportunities at home.

"We need, for example, help with trains, factories and heavy industry," said Sharif Mohamed Ahmadi, chairman of the industrial committee of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Why not get the benefit of Russian experience to help Bahrain?"

Russian officials, meanwhile, offered to help Bahrain develop its nuclear energy capabilities.

"We can help build small-capacity nuclear power plants which will enable the kingdom to more accurately regulate its thermal balance," said Sergei Kiriyenko, head of state atomic agency Rosatom, Interfax reported.

Representatives of Vneshekonombank and the Bahrain Development Bank signed a memorandum of understanding on increasing joint investment programs and trade and supporting small and medium-sized businesses.

Presenters from both countries described their nations as ripe for investment.

The Bahrain side highlighted a 2006 free-trade agreement between Bahrain and the United States, which was the first country to do business in the free-trade zone.

"Any company interested in doing business in the United States would do well to set up in Bahrain," said Hasan Fakhro, Bahrain's minister of industry and commerce.

Russian participants similarly said that this country could use foreign investment inflow.

"In terms of projects in the real sector, our economy is still growing," said Pyotr Fradkov, deputy chairman of Vneshekonombank. "We need to find any type of investment inflow from any region of the world."

Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, chairman of Ithmaar Bank, said he has been interested in setting up an Islamic bank in Moscow for many years but has found it difficult to get a license. With the onset of the financial crisis, he said, Islamic banking standards have become more appealing.

"We do not go into speculation," said Abdulla-Janahi. "We did not have the Lehman Brothers paper, so we did not get affected there."

He said his bank had begun working with the International Bank of Azerbaijan to acquire real estate in Moscow.

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B.  Iran

Iran to build 2 more nuclear reactors
(for personal use only)

The deputy director of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh, said that instead of completing the second unit at the Bushehr plant, Iranian authorities have decided to build two new reactors.

"IAEO officials plan to build two new units with a capability of 1,000 MW each, rather than completing the second unit of the Bushehr nuclear reactor," IRNA quoted Fayyazbakhsh as saying on Tuesday.

Work on the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is in its final stage. IAEO spokesman Mohsen Delaviz said in November that the plant is scheduled to become fully operational in 2009.

"The commissioning stages of the Bushehr nuclear plant have begun, and we are hopeful that the plant will be launched in 2009, as per the agreement we have with the Russian party," said Delaviz.

Russia's Atomstroyexport has been helping Iran in the construction of a nuclear power plant capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity annually under a contract signed in 1995.

The Russian company also trains Iranian specialists and has so far delivered eight fuel shipments to the reactor.

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C.  India

Nuclear business to top Medvedev agenda in Delhi
Sandeep Dikshit
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived here on Thursday with a pact on furthering nuclear cooperation capping the agenda.

Both sides have lined up a large number of agreements but most of them are aimed at covering up in case substantive agreements in defence fail to materialise.

“Both sides are still negotiating on several issues for quite some time but there has been no consensus. The nuclear agreement is the only highlight for now. But the atmosphere is better than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Moscow visit in February,” said informed sources.

What is being billed as a three-day visit is actually a one-day working visit. Mr. Medvedev arrived in the evening and all his official engagements take place on Friday. He will leave for Moscow on Saturday morning.

Russia is offering a new power plant AES-2006, which incorporates a third generation VVER-1200 reactor of 1170 MW. This is an advanced version of the VVER-1000 being installed a Koodankulam. The new reactor will operate at higher thermal power of 3200 MWt with a longer life span of 50 years. The sources said it can withstand an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale and a direct hit from a fighter aircraft. All reactors will be supplied with lifetime guarantee of fuel. Russia has claimed substantial current experience in such projects. Its ongoing projects include building of five reactors at home and seven abroad.

Russia is building the first and second power units for the Koodankulam nuclear power plant. The proposed agreement scheduled to be signed during Mr. Medvedev’s visit envisages the construction of at least four more nuclear power plants. Thus Russia will become the first country with which cooperation in concrete terms has materialised after India was accepted in the international civil nuclear community.

Apart from this, both sides are attempting to stitch some defence deals with representatives of Tactical Rocket Systems engaged with Defence Ministry officials. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited officials are also discussing the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding with Sukhoi on developing and producing a slightly larger short distance civilian aircraft than the regional jet developed by the Russian company. Apart from Dr. Singh and Mr. Medvedev issuing a joint declaration after their summit meeting on Friday, a host of agreements and statements of intent have been lined up. These include a political declaration, a list of priorities for enhancing the strategic partnership next year and four memoranda of understanding between Roscosmos and Indian Space Research Organisation, stock market regulators, customs training institutes and agencies for probing financial transactions, respectively. They will also sign an agreement on tourism for 2009-10.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

MIT solves plasma problem for clean fusion energy, helps France
Rick C. Hodgin
TG Daily
(for personal use only)

MIT researchers have solved a major problem in the area of fusion power research - how to safely, accurately and in a controlled way, contain and stabilize the hot plasma core of a fusion reaction without losing heat or creating turbulence. While still "decades away," according to researchers, from generating more power than it consumes, this latest research takes us over one huge hurdle and paves the way for France's upcoming 10x larger fusion reactor, ITER.

Alcator C-Mod reactor

In operation since 1993, MIT's Alcator C-Mod reactor has the highest magnetic field and plasma pressure of any fusion reactor in the world. It's also the largest reactor operated by any university. It's part of the Alcator Project in MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC). This latest research builds on the team's multi-year effort in an attempt to find a reliable method of guiding, directing and containing the hot plasma core using radio waves.

By directing the newly discovered array of radio wave emissions at the extremely hot donut-shaped plasma core, which is millions of degrees Fahrenheit, MIT has now been able to encase it and make it stable. In fact, the data in their reactor indicates there's enough stability to support France's upcoming International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which will be 10x larger than MIT's. It is currently being built in France and will be operational before the year 2020.

Plasma in motion

Over the past few decades, several experiments around the world have been carried out in an attempt to find ways of moving plasma around inside the core vessel. They've looked for ways to do this in a way which do not lose heat and prevents turbulence, as turbulence reduces reactor efficiency.

The techniques employed prior to this latest discovery have long been known to be insufficient to power future reactor cores like the one being built in France.

The new findings are also quite surprising to many theoretical physicists. According to a lead physicist on the project, Yijun Lin, "Some of these results are surprising to theorists." Co-lead on the project, John Rice, said, "...there is no satisfying theoretical foundation for why it works as it does. But the experimental results so far show that the method works, which could be crucial to the success of ITER and future power-generating fusion reactors. Lack of a controllable mechanism for propelling the plasma around the reactor is potentially a showstopper."

Brilliant light

One interesting aspect is the potential danger should plasma escape the field. Were its high energy electrons able to touch the steel walls of the inner chamber, for example, they would melt through it like butter. While this poses no risk to the operators as there is more than sufficient shielding, it does damage hardware.

To keep this from happening, researchers discovered that quenching the space around the core with argon or neon gas causes the plasma to convert its high heat directly into light. When this happens, for about one thousandth of a second, it becomes the brightest source of light on the planet - equivalent to roughly 1/1000th the total output energy of the entire United States in a single light source. This one-billion-watt light-bulb is contained within the core, however, and is not visible outside.

The reactor being built in France, which has a 10x larger core, will emit 1000x more light than MIT's reactor. This will make its millisecond light emission equivalent to the total energy output of the entire United States, roughly one trillion watts.

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E.  Threat Reduction

Obama to appoint czar to stop nuclear and biological attacks
Bryan Bender
Boston Globe
(for personal use only)

President-elect Barack Obama plans to appoint a new White House official to coordinate efforts to prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear or biological weapons, advisers say, giving the highest priority to thwarting a catastrophic attack that a bipartisan panel warns could come in the next five years.

Naming a top deputy whose sole mission is to oversee the government's wide-ranging efforts to ensure such an attack never happens would mark a significant break with the Bush administration, which in resisting such a post has maintained that US efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles and safeguard deadly pathogens are adequate.

A law requiring the position, passed by Congress more than a year ago and signed into law by President Bush, has been ignored for more than 15 months, in part because Bush opposes giving the Senate the power to confirm the official.

But Obama, whose first foreign trip as a US senator was to assess initiatives to lock down nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union, believes government programs lack coordination, are underfunded, and that having a top official to coordinate the efforts is crucial, according to three advisers with knowledge of the transition team's deliberations.

"I think it is a good idea and will probably happen" soon after Obama is sworn in Jan. 20, said one of those advisers, who asked not to be identified discussing private conversations with the president-elect.

The need for a top-level official to coordinate nonproliferation programs -- now spread across numerous agencies -- is expected to gain new urgency Wednesday with the release of the sobering new report that warns that without drastic new measures, the international community faces the real prospect of a nuclear or biological attack by 2013. Leaders of the commission that drafted the report said that terrorists have made it quite clear that the United States is their number one target.

"The simple reality is that the risks that confront us today are evolving faster than our multilayered responses," according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe. "Many thousands of dedicated people across all agencies of our government are working hard to protect this country, and their efforts have had a positive impact. But the terrorists have been active, too -- and in our judgment America's margin of safety is shrinking, not growing."

Vice President-elect Joe Biden, who has also been active in the Senate on nuclear nonproliferation, and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, named Monday by Obama as homeland security secretary, are to be briefed Wednesday on the report by commission co-chairmen, former Senators Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, and other panel members.

Asked why such an attack hasn't happened yet, Graham said on CNN today that "fortunately, thus far, we have been able to keep these materials out of the hands of terrorists. That prospect, however, is getting thinner and thinner as there are more nuclear states with more nuclear sites and materials. Biological materials are becoming ubiquitous around the world. What it will take is a few scientists prepared to become terrorists working with a terrorist organization to convert this possibility into a reality."

The 160-page report -- ordered by Congress last year as a roadmap for the next administration and completed after more than six months of study and access to classified intelligence briefings -- also calls for Obama to make it a top priority to stop nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, using diplomacy backed by credible threat of force; to beef up international efforts to slow the spread of nuclear weapons; and to work with Pakistan to eliminate terrorist safe havens and secure nuclear and biological materials in that country.

"Terrorist organizations are intent on acquiring nuclear weapons," it says. "Anyone with access to the Internet can easily obtain designs for building a nuclear bomb. Our crucial task is to secure the material before terrorists can steal or buy it on the black market."

Pakistan, Graham said, is the most likely source of terrorists armed with nuclear or biological weapons. "Pakistan is the intersection of the perfect storm," he said on CNN. "Terrorists occupy its northwest territories. It has had a history of proliferating nuclear materials. It is the sixth or seventh largest nuclear state in the world. It has an unstable government. It has a very -- to use the word acrimonious is an understatement -- relationship with India. It is the potential bombshell where terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will intersect."

The report also raises new alarms about the prospect of a biological attack, saying that too little focus has been given to controlling the ingredients for biological weapons -- even though they pose a "more likely threat" and facilities with pathogens, especially civilian labs, are less carefully guarded than nuclear facilities.

Terrorists could obtain the know-how to fashion biological weapons if terrorists find scientists willing to share or sell their knowledge, the commission warns. "The United States should be less concerned that terrorists will become biologists and far more concerned that biologists will become terrorists," the report says.

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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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