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Nuclear News - 4/30/2008
PGS Nuclear News, April 30, 2008
Compiled By: David Dreilinger

A.  North Korea - Syria
    1. Bush Says Syria Nuclear Disclosure Intended to Prod North Korea and Iran, Steven Lee Myers, New York Times (4/30/2008)
    2. Syrian Reactor Capacity was 1-2 Weapons/year: CIA, Randall Mikkelson, Reuters (4/28/2008)
B.  US - Russia
    1. U.S. and Russia Nuclear Security Cooperation on Track, NNSA (4/25/2008)
    2. U.S. and Russia Cooperate to Eliminate Dangerous Nuclear Material, NNSA (4/24/2008)
C.  Iran
    1. Iran President says Peace Proposal to Russia is 'Comprehensive', AFP (4/29/2008)
    2. A Tantalizing Look at Iran�s Nuclear Program, William J. Broad, New York Times (4/29/2008)

A.  North Korea - Syria

Bush Says Syria Nuclear Disclosure Intended to Prod North Korea and Iran
Steven Lee Myers
New York Times
(for personal use only)

President Bush said Tuesday that last week�s disclosure of what senior American officials called evidence of a nearly completed nuclear reactor in Syria was intended to warn North Korea and Iran about the dangers of spreading nuclear weapons.

Mr. Bush also defended his administration�s decision to keep that evidence secret for more than seven months after Israeli bombers destroyed the Syrian building on Sept. 6.

The International Atomic Energy Agency last week criticized the United States for withholding information about the site and Israel for destroying it, saying both actions undermined efforts to verify whether it was a nuclear reactor being built with the assistance of North Korea.

Making the first remarks in public about the Israeli attack by any American official, Mr. Bush said that his administration maintained a cloak of secrecy to avoid the risk of further military conflict in the region, including possible Syrian retaliation against Israel. He said that risk of conflict �was reduced� now.

Mr. Bush did not explain why exactly the administration disclosed the information at this point, but the timing coincided with renewed efforts to persuade North Korea to abide by last year�s agreement to acknowledge all of its nuclear activities. The North Korean activities include what administration officials assert are a still undisclosed program to enrich uranium and the sale of nuclear technology to countries like Syria.

�We also wanted to advance certain policy objectives through the disclosures, and one would be to the North Koreans to make it abundantly clear that we, we may know more about you than you think,� Mr. Bush said at a White House news conference.

Senior officials have signaled that the administration may accept a less-than-full disclosure, allowing North Korea, for example, not to explain its nuclear cooperation with Syria in the kind of detail that American officials have now done.

In his remarks on Tuesday and at Camp David on April 19, the president appeared to back off such a compromise. He restated his demand that North Korea make �a complete disclosure� about its proliferation and enrichment activities.

Senior officials showed videos and photographs last week documenting what they said was evidence of North Korean aid in the design and construction of a plutonium reactor in eastern Syria.

The officials offered the most extensive information about the Israeli military operation, revealing that Israeli bombs had badly damaged the building, but that the Syrians worked feverishly for more than a month to dismantle the ruins to conceal evidence of nuclear activity. Israeli officials have never discussed the strike publicly.

Even as senior officials were making their case, a State Department delegation held a new round of talks with the North Koreans last week, but the talks failed to make progress in getting a declaration, which is now four months overdue.

Mr. Bush said that the disclosure of a covert Syrian reactor, which Syria has denied, should persuade other countries to support United Nations Security Council resolutions intended to keep Iran and other countries from developing nuclear arms.

�We have an interest in sending a message to Iran and the world for that matter about just how destabilizing a nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East,� he said.

Mr. Bush also criticized the militant Islamic group Hamas as an obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but he passed up a chance to criticize former President Jimmy Carter, as his aides have, for meeting with Hamas leaders last week.

�Foreign policy and peace is undermined by Hamas in the Middle East,� he said when asked whether Mr. Carter�s meetings had undercut his efforts. �They�re the ones who are undermining peace. They�re the ones whose foreign policy objective is the destruction of Israel. They�re the ones who are trying to create enough violence to stop the advance of the two-party state solution.�

Asked about the political crisis in Zimbabwe, Mr. Bush sharply criticized President Robert Mugabe, saying he had �failed the country.�

He also made it clear that he was disappointed with other countries in the region for not doing more to support the opposition in Zimbabwe. That was an indirect but clear reference to South Africa, whose president, Thabo Mbeki, has called the dispute over last month�s elections an internal matter.

�It�s really incumbent upon the nations in the neighborhood to step up and lead,� Mr. Bush said, �and recognize that the will of the people must be respected and recognize that that will come about because they�re tired of failed leadership.�

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Syrian Reactor Capacity was 1-2 Weapons/year: CIA
Randall Mikkelson
(for personal use only)

A suspected Syrian reactor bombed by Israel had the capacity to produce enough nuclear material to fuel one to two weapons a year, CIA Director Michael Hayden said on Monday.

Hayden said the plutonium reactor was within weeks or months of completion when it was destroyed in an air strike last September 6, and within a year of entering operation it could have produced enough material for at least one weapon.

"In the course of a year after they got full up, they would have produced enough plutonium for one or two weapons," Hayden told reporters after a speech.

The reactor was of a "similar size and technology" to North Korea's Yongbyon reactor, Hayden said, disputing speculation it was smaller than the Korean facility.

"We would estimate that the production rate there would be about the same as Yongbyon, which is about enough plutonium for one or two weapons per year," he said.

Hayden's comments were the first statement on the suspected reactor's capacity, and his first public remarks since the United States released photos of what it said was a secret nuclear reactor built with North Korean aid.

Syria has denied the U.S. charges and accused Washington of involvement in the air attack by Israel, which is believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

A diplomat close to the U.N. nuclear watchdog and outside analysts have said the U.S. disclosure did not amount to proof of an illicit arms program because there was no sign of a reprocessing plant needed to convert spent fuel from the plant into bomb-grade plutonium.

The United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency has also criticized the United States for waiting until this month to share its intelligence. The delay complicates the IAEA's effort to confirm whether the facility was a plutonium reactor.


Hayden said the United States lacked the liberty earlier to pass on the intelligence, which he said was acquired in a "team effort." ABC News reported in October that Israel had obtained pictures of the Syrian complex from an apparent mole and showed them to the CIA.

"We did not have complete control of the totality of the information," Hayden said. U.S. officials have declined to identify sources of the intelligence.

Asked whether Washington had eventually gotten approval to pass on the intelligence, Hayden said, "One would never share the intelligence without consultation with that nation, as a general principle."

A senior Bush administration official said at a briefing last week the intelligence was disclosed this month in part to pressure North Korea in disarmament talks to fully acknowledge its nuclear and proliferation activities, and to widen the circle of U.S. lawmakers briefed on the issue.

Congressional support is key to President George W. Bush's goal of making progress toward ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Senior intelligence officials said at the briefing they told Bush the Syrian facility was a plutonium reactor built with North Korean cooperation and intended to fuel a nuclear weapons program.

They acknowledged their confidence level was relatively low over its purpose as a weapons facility, due to limited evidence.

The officials said there was no reprocessing facility in the area of the destroyed reactor, but declined to further discuss their views of any Syrian reprocessing capability.

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B.  US - Russia

U.S. and Russia Nuclear Security Cooperation on Track
(for personal use only)

U.S. and Russian officials today concluded a four-day meeting to discuss continued progress on nuclear nonproliferation and security work under the U.S.-Russia Bratislava Nuclear Security Initiative. During the meeting, officials from the Department of Energy�s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Rosatom confirmed that nuclear security upgrades at Russian sites are on schedule for completion by the end of 2008.

�We continue to make progress in our joint efforts with Russia to detect, secure and dispose of dangerous nuclear material,� Deputy Administrator William Tobey said in Washington. �We are working hard to ensure that the security upgrades that we are completing are sustained in the future, and that a strong security culture is maintained.�

At this week�s meeting in Cairo, NNSA and Rosatom officials reviewed detailed project schedules and progress in other areas such as training, inspections, guard forces, nuclear security regulations development, secure transportation of nuclear materials, and security culture.

The two sides discussed specific strategies for expediting work and avoiding delays, in particular strengthening control of contract implementation schedules and sending senior Rosatom management to sites to ensure that work remains on track to meet the 2008 Bratislava-scope deadlines. NNSA officials also outlined plans for Russia to assume responsibility for funding and sustaining security upgrades beginning in 2013.

NNSA�s Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) Program works in the Russian Federation, the former Soviet Union, and other countries to secure potentially vulnerable nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials by upgrading security at nuclear sites, consolidating these materials to fewer sites with existing enhanced security systems, and improving nuclear smuggling detection capabilities at border crossings.

U.S.-Russian nuclear security has been a top priority for Presidents Bush and Putin, and the two announced the Bratislava Nuclear Security Initiative in 2005 in which the United States and Russia committed to accelerating the completion of security upgrades at Russian nuclear facilities by the end of this year. The two Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to nuclear security in Sochi, Russia on April 6. To date, NNSA has completed security upgrades at more than 85 percent of Russian nuclear weapons sites of concern. This week�s discussion focused on efforts to complete similar upgrades on the balance of sites.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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U.S. and Russia Cooperate to Eliminate Dangerous Nuclear Material
(for personal use only)

Following a meeting in Cairo with Russian officials to discuss continued progress on nuclear nonproliferation and security initiatives, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the U.S. and Russia have eliminated 10 metric tons (22,000 pounds) of Russian weapons-usable nuclear material. This material, equivalent to 400 nuclear weapons, was successfully converted by downblending highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) under a joint U.S.-Russian program.

Converting excess HEU from Russian facilities eliminates a proliferation risk while making additional material available for Russian power and research reactor fuel. These activities also support efforts to consolidate storage of nuclear material in Russia into fewer buildings and sites.

�This important milestone highlights progress in U.S.-Russian nonproliferation cooperation,� said NNSA�s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey. �Our efforts to convert this material have successfully reduced the supply of dangerous nuclear material, while our consolidation efforts have decreased the cost of securing the material.�

The joint U.S.-Russia Material Consolidation and Conversion (MCC) program helps reduce the proliferation risk associated with nuclear material inside Russia. Under the MCC effort, NNSA teams have worked with their Russian counterparts at Luch, a Russian nuclear institute in Podolsk, and the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dmitrovgrad over the past nine years to reach this milestone.

The MCC program converts excess Russian HEU that is not from weapons and complements NNSA�s work to eliminate Russia�s excess weapons-origin HEU. Earlier this year, NNSA and Rosatom marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the HEU Purchase Agreement, which converts weapons-origin HEU to LEU that is then sold to U.S. utilities for power production.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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C.  Iran

A Tantalizing Look at Iran�s Nuclear Program
William J. Broad
New York Times
(for personal use only)

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Iran President says Peace Proposal to Russia is 'Comprehensive'
(for personal use only)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that a "comprehensive" package offered to Russia was aimed at "eradicating" the threats of war.

The comments follow statements by Tehran's top national security official that he had held talks with his Russian counterpart on a new Iranian proposals to solve world problems, including the nuclear standoff with the West.

Ahmadinejad, after meeting Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, said the "comprehensive" package was based on mutual friendship.

"We have offered a proposal for comprehensive cooperation and constructive dialogue based on friendship and sustainable security to eradicate threats of war," Ahmadinejad told reporters.

"Its a valued issue we have proposed to discuss with them," the Iranian leader said, without giving further details of the proposals, which appear to be a wide friendship treaty rather than a specific offer to end the nuclear crisis.

On Monday Iran's top national security official Saeed Jalili said after talks with Russia's Valentin Sobolev that Tehran planned to have a "good basis for negotiations" with the West.

The package also appears to emphasise what Iran sees as its growing power in the world and the supposed decline of Britain and the United States.

"The world is no longer unilateral," Jalili told a news conference alongside Sobolev, the acting head of Russia's security council.

It would be a major surprise if the package contained any concession from Iran to break the deadlock in the nuclear standoff as Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said Tehran will not budge.

The West fears Iran wants to use nuclear technology to make an atomic weapon but Ahmadinejad in New Delhi insisted that developed nations planned to monopolise nuclear energy to meet their needs.

"They (the West) want to deny the world cheap nuclear energy and they are bringing political pressure on countries to discourage them from their nuclear energy programmes," Ahmadinejad said.

"The ruling parties of the world (West) want all the good things exclusively for themselves and their stand that we are building nuclear weapons is a lie," he said through an interpreter.

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr, a much delayed project due to come online in 2008. It is also contracted to supply nuclear fuel for the facility.

With robust political and economic ties with Tehran, Moscow has played a key role in the nuclear standoff.

It has repeatedly urged the West to solve the crisis through diplomacy but as a veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent member it has also backed three resolutions imposing sanctions against Tehran.

Moscow has also told Tehran it currently has no need to enrich uranium on its own soil and should obey the resolutions' calls to stop the process, which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

India, which carried out nuclear weapons tests in 1998, is bound to Russia with a 20-year friendship treaty.

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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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