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Nuclear News - 10/13/2009
PGS Nuclear News, October 13, 2009
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Says Western Pressure Will Not Affect Nuclear Decisions, Elizabeth Arrott, VOA News (10/12/2009)
    2. Ahmadinejad Sees No Obstacle to Nuclear Talks, Fiji Live (10/12/2009)
    3. UK Places Trade Restictions on Two Iranian Firms, AFP (10/12/2009)
    4. Clinton Warns Iran of Need for Nuclear Progress, Jeff Mason, Reuters (10/11/2009)
    5. Iran to "Blow Up Heart" of Israel If Attacked: Official, Reuters (10/9/2009)
    1. Report: North Korea Fires 5 Short-Range Missiles, Kwang-Tae Kim, San Luis Obispo Tribune (10/12/2009)
    2. Clinton Says North Korea’s Missiles Won’t Deter Talks, Brian Lysaght and Janine Zacharia, Bloomberg (10/12/2009)
    3. Pressure on Pyongyang to Restart Nuclear Talks, The Peninsula (10/12/2009)
    4. North Korea 'Flexible' on Nuclear Arms Talks, Elaine Kurtenbach, The Scotsman (10/11/2009)
C.  India
    1. PM-Obama Meet in Mind, India and US Move on Nuclear Fuel Talks, Pranab Dhal Samanta, India Express (10/13/2009)
    2. India Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile, Ashok Sharma, The China Post (10/12/2009)
D.  Pakistan
    1. Security of Pakistan Nuclear Weapons Questioned, Chris Brummitt and Pamela Hess, Associated Press (10/12/2009)
E.  Nonproliferation
    1. Clinton Visits Russia to Discuss Iran, Nuclear Treaty, Lachlan Carmichael, AFP (10/13/2009)
F.  Nuclear Energy
    1. More Aussies Back Nuclear Power: Poll, 7 News (10/13/2009)
    2. Bulgaria: Sarkozy Offers Help for Bulgaria's Nuclear Plant Belene, Seeurope (10/13/2009)
    3. Belgium Delays Nuclear Phase-Out Until 2025, Expatica (10/13/2009)
    4. UAE Passes Law for Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy, Thaindian News (10/12/2009)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. 'Nuclear Threat' to Power Grids, BBC News (10/13/2009)
    2. Resolved: Denuclearise, Al Ahram (10/9/2009)
    3. Biological Weapons Convention Must be Fixed, Experts Say, Martin Matishak, Global Security Newswire (10/8/2009)

A.  Iran

Ahmadinejad Sees No Obstacle to Nuclear Talks
Fiji Live
(for personal use only)

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that talks in Geneva on his country's nuclear programme had been positive and he saw no obstacle to continuing discussions with world powers.

"We have a positive opinion of the meeting in Geneva," Ahmadinejad told state television.

"I don't think there will be problems in the coming negotiations. If some people want to create problems, they will not succeed, and if they succeed, they will hurt only themselves," said Ahmadinejad when asked about comments earlier by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton warned Tehran that the international community "will not wait indefinitely" for the Islamic republic to meet its obligations on its disputed nuclear programme.

"The international community will not wait indefinitely for evidence that Iran is prepared to live up to its international obligations," Clinton said after talks in London with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

She said the talks on Iran's nuclear programme on October 1, involving the 5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, were a "constructive beginning" but she said they "must be followed by action".

However, just days ahead of the Geneva talks, Iran angered global powers when it revealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

The next stage in the talks comes on October 19, when officials from Iran, the United States, Russia, France and the IAEA are to meet in Vienna to work out the deals under which Tehran has said it is ready to buy 20 percent pure uranium from abroad.

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Iran Says Western Pressure Will Not Affect Nuclear Decisions
Elizabeth Arrott
VOA News
(for personal use only)

The Iranian government is rejecting Western pressure to move quickly on disclosing information about its nuclear program. At the same time, it is facing renewed opposition from candidates in the June presidential election to discuss allegations of fraud.
Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said Tehran will not be affected by deadlines or threats about its nuclear activities.

Speaking at his weekly news conference, Qashqavi said Iran is ready to discuss getting enriched uranium from other countries. But he stressed this did not mean Tehran would be dependent on foreign powers, adding, "we will definitely secure our needs" for fuel.

His comments come one day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the world will not wait forever for Iran to meet its international obligations on nuclear issues.

Iranian officials are to meet with Western powers later this month to discuss enriching uranium abroad. The deal would ease fears that Iran is trying to boost the material to the level needed for nuclear weapons.

Even as the Iranian government is trying to deflect international pressure, it is still dealing with the fall-out of its disputed presidential election in June.

The pro-reform Sarmayeh newspaper is reporting two defeated candidates, Mir Houssein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are demanding time to speak on state television about their allegations of electoral fraud.

Amal Hamada, a political science professor at Cairo University, says even if the government were to allow them the opportunity, it would likely not amount to much.

"The talk issue is not going to be anything serious, other than buying time for both the Iranian regime and the Iranian opposition, because as far as the Iranian regime is concerned, no steps are being taken in the direction of bridging the gaps with the opposition anymore," Hamada said.

The foreign ministry spokesman also addressed British repercussions from the election. Asked about the British Museum's reversal on loaning Iran an artifact because of the political situation following the vote, Qashqavi said the decision is "irrational, illogical and illegal."

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UK Places Trade Restictions on Two Iranian Firms
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The government has ordered financial companies to stop trade with two Iranian firms, Bank Mellat and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, amid alleged nuclear links, a minister said on Monday.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Treasury minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry said the measure was taken because Bank Mellat had provided services to an organisation "connected to Iran's proliferation-sensitive activities."

It had also been "involved in transactions related to financing Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programme," she said.

The shipping firm had "transported goods for both Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes," she added.

"Financial and credit institutions will no longer be able to enter into new transactions or business relationships with these entities, nor to continue with existing transactions or business relationships unless they are licensed by HM Treasury," McCarthy-Fry said in a written statement.

Western powers suspect Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge strongly denied by Tehran.

World powers including Britain were outraged when Iran revealed last month that it was building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

But a Treasury spokesman said Monday's announcement was not connected to the latest developments in the stand-off.

The next stage in six-party talks on Iran's nuclear programme comes on October 19.

Officials from Iran, the United States, Russia, France and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet in Vienna to work out the deals under which Tehran has said it is ready to buy 20 percent pure uranium from abroad.

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Clinton Warns Iran of Need for Nuclear Progress
Jeff Mason
(for personal use only)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that international powers would not wait forever for Iran to prove it was not developing nuclear bombs.

British foreign minister David Miliband, whom Clinton met in London, said Iran would never have a better opportunity to establish normal ties with the rest of the world but that it had to start behaving like a "normal country."

Iran agreed at a meeting with six world powers in Geneva on October 1 to allow U.N. experts access to a newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom.

Clinton said the meeting was a constructive beginning but added that it had to be followed by action.

"The international community will not wait indefinitely for evidence that Iran is prepared to live up to its international obligations," Clinton said at a news conference.

Iran suggested on Sunday that it may embark on further refining of uranium -- comments likely to add to concern among Western powers, which suspect Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear bombs. Iran denies the charge.

Negotiations are due on October 19 in Vienna on a proposal to send Iranian uranium abroad for processing and then return it to Tehran.

The Islamic state has repeatedly rejected demands to halt its sensitive nuclear work, despite three rounds of U.N. sanctions since 2006.

Progress in the Geneva talks was seen as heading off calls for an immediate round of tougher sanctions in the near future.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state television on Sunday the Vienna meeting would be a test.

"The October 19 meeting is a test for fruitful cooperation (with the West) in the future," Ahmadinejad said. "Failure of the meeting and imposing sanctions on Iran would hurt the West more than Iran."


Britain and the United States are part of a group of six world powers seeking to defuse the row with Iran over its nuclear program. Miliband said Iran had to earn the right to be trusted on its nuclear program.

"I think that Iran's history of covert, secret programs ... explains why the international community does not have confidence in the Iranian regime's protestations about the purely peaceful aspects or purely peaceful purposes of their nuclear program," he said.

Clinton criticized the Iranian leadership for the way it had handled protests over a presidential election in June.

"With Iran it is tragic that a country with such a great history, with so much to give to the rest of the world, is so afraid of their own people," she told reporters.

"The way that they are utilizing secret prisons, and detentions and show trials, is a reflection of the discontent that they know people feel toward the current leadership."

Her comments follow a report on Saturday that an Iranian court has sentenced three people to death over street unrest that erupted after the election in June and links to exiled opposition groups.

ISNA news agency, citing the head of the publication relations office of the Tehran provincial court, did not identify those condemned, giving only their initials.

It was the first official statement of death sentences in connection with the presidential poll, which the opposition says was rigged to secure hardline leader Ahmadinejad's re-election, and the huge opposition protests that followed.

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Iran to "Blow Up Heart" of Israel If Attacked: Official
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Iran would "blow up the heart" of Israel if it was attacked by the Jewish state or the United States, a Revolutionary Guards official was quoted Friday as saying.

"Even if one American or Zionist missile hits our country, before the dust settles, Iranian missiles will blow up the heart of Israel," Mojtaba Zolnour said, according to IRNA news agency.

Zolnour is a deputy representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the elite Guards force. Iranian officials have previously said Tehran would retaliate in event of an Israeli or U.S. attack.

Earlier this year, a senior commander said Iranian missiles could reach Israeli nuclear sites. Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed Middle East state.

Israel has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end a dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions, echoing U.S. policy, although Washington is engaged in a drive to resolve the issue through direct talks with Tehran.

The West suspects the Islamic state is covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran denies.

"The Zionist regime and the United States cannot risk attacking Iran," Zolnour said in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom on Thursday, citing Iranian military and technological advances, IRNA reported. Iran refers to Israel as the "Zionist regime."

At talks in Geneva on October 1, Iran agreed with six world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- to give U.N. experts access to a newly-disclosed uranium enrichment plant south of Tehran.

Iran and Western powers described talks as constructive and a step forward. However, underlying tension was highlighted before the meeting when Iran test-fired missiles with ranges that could put Israel and regional U.S. bases within reach.

The Geneva talks are expected to win Iran a reprieve from tougher U.N. sanctions, although Western powers are likely to be wary of any attempt by Tehran to buy time to develop its nuclear program.

Senior cleric Ahmad Khatami, leading Friday prayers in Tehran, said the meeting represented a "victory" for Iran.

"The Geneva conference was a very successful one and amounted to a victory for the Islamic Republic," he told worshippers.

"Up until the conference they were constantly talking about sanctions and suspension, but when the conference was held there was no talk of either sanctions or suspension," he said, referring to demands that Iran halt sensitive nuclear work.

World powers at the next round of talks aim to press Iran for a freeze on expansion of enrichment as an interim step toward a suspension that would bring it major trade rewards. Iran has repeatedly rejected such demands.

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Clinton Says North Korea’s Missiles Won’t Deter Talks
Brian Lysaght and Janine Zacharia
(for personal use only)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said North Korea’s test-firing of five short-range missiles today won’t deter the U.S. from working to resolve the dispute over the communist nation’s nuclear weapons.

“Our goals remain the same. We intend to work toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula that can demonstrate in a verifiable way that it is,” Clinton told reporters during a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland. “The international community will not accept their continuing nuclear program.”

North Korea fired the five missiles into the East Sea from an area south of Wonsan, Gangwon Province, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unidentified South Korean government source.

The missile test follows a pledge on Oct. 10 by the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea to work together to restart the so-called six-nation talks aimed at removing North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The U.S. and Russia are also parties to the talks.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, during a visit to Pyongyang on Oct. 5, won an assurance from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that he is willing to resume the disarmament talks.

The North Korean government in a letter to the United Nations dated Oct. 1 said that dismantling its nuclear weapons is “unthinkable even in a dream,” and that it won’t disarm unless the United States does.

North Korea said in April that it was abandoning the six- nation talks for good after the UN Security Council condemned the country for launching a missile over Japan. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon on May 25.

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Pressure on Pyongyang to Restart Nuclear Talks
The Peninsula
(for personal use only)

The solidarity displayed by the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea at a summit in Beijing could put further pressure on Pyongyang to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, analysts say. The leaders, who met on Saturday for three-way talks, called for the quick resumption of the long-stalled negotiations aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear drive, while also pledging to deepen regional cooperation.

The summit brought together Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and host Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao — who last week went to Pyongyang to discuss the issue with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il. “The three regional powers having a strong common stance will have put pressure on Pyongyang,” Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong, said.

He added that if all the five nations in the six-party talks—North Korea being the sixth—show the same unified front, “then Pyongyang will realise that it’s difficult to divide and rule, and therefore it has to come back to the negotiating table.”

The six-way negotiations are hosted by China, a close ally of North Korea, and also include the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan. North Korea said on Monday during Wen’s trip to Pyongyang that it was willing to return to the six-party disarmament talks it quit in April, but only if it first was granted direct negotiations with the United States.

Washington has said it would agree to bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party forum, but that the goal must be a complete end to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons drive.

On Saturday, the three leaders said they would push “with other parties for an early resumption of the six-party talks, so as to safeguard the peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” in a statement issued after the summit.

Wen said the door was open to make real progress, urging nations to “seize the opportunity and make the most of it.” Takehiko Yamamoto, a professor of international politics at Waseda University in Tokyo, said “the way is now paved” for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table, thanks in large part to the Chinese premier.

“Wen’s diplomatic achievement is highly significant,” Yamamoto said. “There is no obstacle now that would hinder the US-North Korea talks to resume,” he said. “If the United States assures the North of the continued existence of its political system and its national security, I think it is possible to denuclearise the peninsula.”

Pyongyang has consistently said that it needs nuclear arms in the face of what it says is a nuclear threat from the US. At the summit, Lee said the three leaders had also agreed to cooperate on his “grand bargain” for North Korea — massive aid and diplomatic and security guarantees in return for a firm commitment to total denuclearisation.

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Report: North Korea Fires 5 Short-Range Missiles
Kwang-Tae Kim
San Luis Obispo Tribune
(for personal use only)

North Korea reportedly test-launched five short-range missiles - and may fire more - in what analysts said is an attempt to improve its bargaining position ahead of possible talks with the United States.

North Korea has recently reached out to the U.S. and South Korea following months of tension over its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year. Leader Kim Jong Il told visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week that his government might return to stalled six-nation negotiations on its nuclear program depending on the outcome of direct talks it seeks with the United States.

Washington has said it is considering holding talks with North Korea as part of efforts to restart the six-party negotiations.

Yonhap, citing a South Korean official it did not identify, said the KN-02 surface-to-surface missiles were fired from mobile launch pads and had a range of up to 75 miles (120 kilometers). It said North Korea launched two missiles in the morning and three more in the afternoon.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday confirmed the missile launches, but declined to identify the number and types of missiles fired on Monday off North Korea's east coast - the first since July, when the North test-fired seven missiles.

South Korea also has detected evidence that North Korea is preparing to fire short-range missiles off its west coast and has announced a no-sail zone there, Yonhap said, citing an unidentified government official.

South Korea's Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Belfast on Monday that American efforts to resume the nuclear talks with North Korea will proceed despite the new tests.

"Our goal remains the same," she told reporters after a meeting with Northern Irish business leaders. "Our consultations with our partners and our allies continues unabated. It is unaffected by the behavior of North Korea."

Clinton was to fly later to Moscow to meet with Russian leaders on a variety of issues, including nuclear reduction concerns.

South Korea's YTN television network carried a report similar to Yonhap's. It quoted an unidentified government source as saying North Korea had announced a no-sail zone in areas off the country's east and west coasts for Oct. 10-20 - an apparent indication the country could carry out more missile tests.

The reported launches appeared to be aimed at displaying North Korea's missile capability to bolster its negotiating hand ahead of talks with the U.S. and other countries to wrest more concessions, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, agreed and added that North Korea was unlikely to take more drastic steps such as its April long-range rocket test or May nuclear test.

Meanwhile, North Korea agreed to hold two sets of working-level talks with South Korea, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said Tuesday, a day after Seoul proposed the talks.

Officials from the two sides plan to meet Wednesday at a North Korean border city to discuss how to prevent Imjin River flooding from running through their heavily armed border, Lee said.

She also said Red Cross societies of the two sides plan to hold talks Friday to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Ties between the two Koreas soured after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office early last year with a pledge to get tough with the North's government. Tensions further heightened after North Korea conducted its long-range rocket and nuclear tests.

The Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, which means that the two Koreas are still technically at war.

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North Korea 'Flexible' on Nuclear Arms Talks
Elaine Kurtenbach
The Scotsman
(for personal use only)

North Korea is showing signs of flexibility over returning to nuclear disarmament talks, and other countries must seize the opportunity to get the negotiations back on track, China's premier has said.

"We need to seize the opportunity and make the most of it. This way it is possible to make further progress," Premier Wen Jiabao said after a meeting with leaders from Japan and South Korea.

The comments were Wen's first on meetings in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who told him the isolated communist country may end its boycott of the talks, depending on negotiations with Washington.

Wen said he felt North Korea wanted to improve relations with the United States, Japan and South Korea, adding: "We support earnest and constructive dialogue between North Korea and the US."

He also stressed such bilateral contacts would help move the nuclear talks along. "The North Korean side showed flexibility. It said it is not opposed to the six-party talks and is willing to resolve the relevant issues through bilateral and multilateral talks.

Kim's offer of dialogue appears to reflect the North's keenness for direct engagement with Washington – a perennial demand.

The US has not yet publicly responded to Kim's apparent overture. But American officials have said talks with North Korea may be possible if they are part of the six-nation disarmament negotiations Pyongyang spurned after it was condemned for conducting a rocket launch in April and nuclear test in May.

Key to drawing the North back into disarmament talks – which include nuclear projects that can be used to make atomic weapons – are UN sanctions imposed after the rocket launch and nuclear test.

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C.  India

PM-Obama Meet in Mind, India and US Move on Nuclear Fuel Talks
Pranab Dhal Samanta
India Express
(for personal use only)

India has shared with the US the broad contours of setting up a dedicated national reprocessing facility to handle US-origin nuclear fuel. This is a key step forward towards concluding discussions on reprocessing before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Washington in November.

It’s learnt that both sides made considerable progress in the second round of talks held in Vienna last week and agreed to meet again next month so that negotiations are wrapped up before Singh travels to the US on November 24 as US President Barack Obama’s first state guest.

Under Article 6 of the 123 agreement, US recognised India’s right to reprocess imported fuel. It was agreed that arrangements and procedures would be settled through negotiations. Both sides agreed that the talks would start within six months of either side initiating the request and would have to conclude within a year.

The talks started in July and so the two sides have time until next July but have agreed to take advantage of the momentum building up ahead of Singh’s visit. For its part, India agreed to set up a dedicated national reprocessing facility under IAEA safeguards.

In the talks, headed by Department of Atomic Energy’s Ravi B Grover and US Director for nuclear energy affairs in the State Department Richard Stratford, India shared broad details of the facility it plans to set up. Once the procedures are agreed, sources said, India will get on to the task of building the facility.

Officials here say it’s important for the US to wrap up these talks to help clear the road for its ailing nuclear industry.

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India Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile
Ashok Sharma
The China Post
(for personal use only)

India test-fired a nuclear-capable missile Monday with a short range of 220 miles (350 kilometers), a defense ministry official said.

Monday's test was considered routine and unlikely to aggravate tensions with longtime rival Pakistan.

The surface-to-surface missile, "Prithvi-II" (Earth), was fired from a test range in Chandipur in the eastern state of Orissa as a trial by the army, the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

It can carry a warhead weighing up to 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms), the official said.

The Indian army already has inducted a shorter version of the missile, "Prithvi-I," with a range of 150 kilometers (95 miles). It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

India's current crop of missiles is mostly intended for confronting neighboring archrival Pakistan.

The two countries routinely test-fire missiles, but usually notify each other ahead of the launches in keeping with an agreement between the two nations.

They have been holding peace talks since 1994 aimed at resolving their differences, including their dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. The two countries have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over control of Kashmir.

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D.  Pakistan

Security of Pakistan Nuclear Weapons Questioned
Chris Brummitt and Pamela Hess
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

An audacious weekend assault by Islamic militants on Pakistan's army headquarters is again raising fears of an insurgent attack on the country's nuclear weapons installation. Pakistan has sought to protect its nuclear weapons from attack by the Taliban or other militants by storing the warheads, detonators and missiles separately in facilities patrolled by elite troops.

Analysts are divided on how secure these weapons are. Some say the weapons are less secure than they were five years ago, and Saturday's attack would show a "worrisome" overconfidence by the Pakistanis.

While complex security is in place, much depends on the Pakistani army and how vulnerable it is to infiltration by extremists, said a Western government official with access to intelligence on Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Analysts say a more realistic scenario would involve militant sympathizers getting work as scientists at the facilities and passing information to extremists.

"It's not thought likely that the Taliban are suddenly going to storm in and gain control of the nuclear facilities," said Gareth Price, head of the Asia program at London think tank Chatham House. "There are enough command-and-control mechanisms in place to prevent that."

A U.S. counterproliferation official in Washington said strong safeguards are in place and there is no reason to believe the nuclear arsenal is in imminent jeopardy of seizure by militants.

The official, who commented on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter publicly, said there is a major difference between attacking a nuclear site and actually seizing and using the nuclear material stored inside.

Security at Pakistan's isolated nuclear installations is believed to be significantly higher than at the army headquarters, which was relatively relaxed by the standards of other nations.
Thousands of people and vehicles enter the headquarters compound in Rawalpindi daily, and the 10 attackers, while able to take dozens of hostages Saturday and kill 14 people before a commando raid ended the siege, never penetrated to the heart of the complex.

Pakistan is estimated to have between 70 and 90 warheads, according to Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists.

Shaun Gregory, an expert on Pakistani security at the University of Bradford in Britain, said militants have struck near an air base in Sargodha, where nuclear missiles are believed to be stored, and the Wah cantonment, where missiles that could carry nuclear weapons are believed to be assembled. He added that the attacks did not appear to have targeted nuclear weapons.

Pakistan uses armed forces personnel to guard nuclear weapons facilities, and it physically separates warhead cores from their detonation components, Gregory wrote in the July issue of The Sentinel, the monthly journal of the Combating Terrorism Center.

The components are stored in protected underground sites. The warheads themselves are electronically locked to ensure that they cannot be detonated even if they fall in terrorists' hands, Gregory said.

The Pakistan military carefully screens and monitors the officers vested with protecting the warheads, drawing them almost exclusively from Punjabi officers who are considered to have fewer links to religious extremists or with the Pashtun area of Pakistan, where the Taliban garners much of its support.

No action or decision involving a nuclear weapon can be undertaken by fewer than two persons. But Gregory acknowledged the possibility of collusion between cleared officers and extremists.

The personnel assigned to sensitive nuclear posts go through regular background checks conducted by Pakistan's intelligence services, according to a 2007 article in the journal Arms Control, co-written by Naeem Salik, a former top official at Pakistan's National Command Authority, which oversees the nuclear arsenal.

"It is being acknowledged by the world powers that the system has no loopholes," Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a military spokesman, said Monday. "The system is foolproof, as good and bad as their own systems."

The U.S. and the British governments agree there is little risk of a weapon falling into militants' hands.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there is no evidence "that has been shown publicly or privately of any threat to the Pakistani nuclear facilities, said.

Gregory said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he did not share Miliband's assertion, adding that "there is plenty of evidence of threat."

Individuals in the Pakistan military have colluded with al-Qaida in providing safe houses for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and individuals in Pakistan's civil nuclear sector have met with al-Qaida figures, including Osama bin Laden himself, Gregory said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton dismissed any suggestion militants could overthrow the government and gain control of the nuclear arsenal. "We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military's control over nuclear weapons," she said.

Kristensen said that while U.S. officials have said they have helped Pakistan increase security at its nuclear facilities, "they have not been allowed to go to those sites, so it's something they've had to do remotely."

Saturday's attack "somehow seems to show that the Pakistani military is perhaps a little overly confident" about some of its most important military facilities, he said.

"If a relatively small group of people is able to penetrate into their 'Pentagon,' then it might show something about the overconfidence of the Pakistanis, and that is worrisome — it's surprising that they were able to go in there relatively simply," Kristensen said.

He noted that the military headquarters is different from a nuclear facility. "One cannot compare insurgents going into an office building to them going into a nuclear facility for the nation's crown jewels," he added.

While stringent security checks on personnel are meant to prevent militant sympathizers from working at the facilities, Pakistan's nuclear establishment has seen serious leaks of nuclear knowledge and materials by insiders.

Top government scientist A.Q. Khan operated a global black market nuclear network for more than a decade until he was uncloaked by U.S. intelligence. And the CIA has confirmed a meeting between Khan associates and bin Laden before 9/11.

Israel has not taken a formal position on the danger of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. However, in a parliamentary briefing last year, Defense Minister Ehud Barak mentioned such a scenario as a nightmare for the world, according to security officials speaking on condition of anonymity because the session was closed.

"Pakistan's weapons are less secure today than they were five years ago, and it seems they're even less secure than under the Musharraf government," said Gerald Steinberg, professor of political studies and conflict management at Bar Ilan University in Israel, referring to the previous administration of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Steinberg said Israelis are becoming less confident of the U.S. ability to control events and put plans into action that would protect Pakistan's nuclear stockpile.

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E.  Nonproliferation

Clinton Visits Russia to Discuss Iran, Nuclear Treaty
Lachlan Carmichael
(for personal use only)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began a mission to Russia on Tuesday to advance negotiations for a new US-Russian nuclear arms treaty and seek Moscow's help in curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

On her first trip here as chief US diplomat, Clinton is to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the key topics but also efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

A US official said Clinton, who consulted British allies on Iran on Sunday, will ask the pair "what specific forms of pressure Russia would be prepared to join us and our other allies in if Iran fails to live up to its obligations."

The senior State Department official, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that sanctions would be discussed as a form of pressure.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- plus Germany, or the P5-plus-1 want Iran to halt its disputed uranium enrichment programme.

The West fears the programme masks a drive for a bomb -- a charge denied by Tehran, which says it is for peaceful nuclear energy.

The United States, France and Britain raised the alarm about Iranian intentions when it disclosed in late September that Iran had secretly built a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

However, Iran has also taken a cooperative step since taking part in Geneva earlier this month in negotiations with the P5-plus-1.

And Medvedev delighted the United States last month when he said that in some possible situations sanctions would be "inevitable".

The P5-plus-1 has been instrumental in getting the UN Security Council to adopt three rounds of sanctions, although both Russia and China have until now resisted tougher sanctions.

The US official also said Clinton wants to discuss a proposal in which Iran could ship uranium to Russia for enrichment there, which would ease concerns about what it would be used for.

A source familiar with the US-Russian talks on Iran told the Kommersant daily on Monday "we are ready for sanctions only in the event that there are no significant changes for the better in the foreseeable future."

Clinton and Lavrov are also expected to discuss missile defence and negotiations to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Lavrov has called for "full clarification" about the new sea-based missile defence system.
The Obama administration unveiled the plan last month to replace an earlier version, backed by George W. Bush, to deploy missile defence facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic. Russia fiercely opposed Bush's plan.

START, which places strict limits on the US and Russian arsenals and is seen as a cornerstone of Cold War-era strategic arms control, expires on December 5 and negotiators have been seeking to thrash out a successor agreement.

Clinton, who last week rapped Russia's failure to bring to justice the killers of journalists and rights activists, is due Tuesday to meet members of Russian civil society to discuss Moscow's record on human rights.

Clinton will on Wednesday travel to Kazan, a mainly Muslim city in Tatarstan, the last stop on a five-day tour that has taken her to Zurich, London, Dublin and Belfast.

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F.  Nuclear Energy

Belgium Delays Nuclear Phase-Out Until 2025
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The Belgian government decided on Monday to delay the start of a progressive phasing out of nuclear power by 10 years until 2025.

"The government has decided to delay by 10 years the first stage of phasing out nuclear power," said the statement from the Energy and Climate Minister Paul Magnette.

Under a law passed in 2003, Belgium's seven reactors were scheduled to be shut down between 2015 and 2025.

Three of the reactors, two at the Doel plant in northern Belgium and one at Tihange in the south, were due to have been closed in 2015 after 40 years of operations but will now remain open until 2025.

In exchange for the three reactors remaining open, the main electricity producers will contribute between EUR 215 and 245 million to state coffers between 2010 and 2014, the ministry explained.

Magnette had called for the delay because of costs and energy security.

"This would guarantee security of supply, limit the production of carbon dioxide and allow us to maintain prices that protect consumer purchasing power and the competitiveness of our companies," he said earlier this month.

Belgium derives around 55% of its electricity from nuclear power.

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Bulgaria: Sarkozy Offers Help for Bulgaria's Nuclear Plant Belene
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed cooperation for the construction of Bulgaria's planned second nuclear power plant on the Danube, which has hit funding problems.

This was announced by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov after a meeting with the French president as he started a two-day working visit to France on October 12 2009.

"We are looking for European partners to make sure that the money that has been invested so far in the project does not go down the drain,” Borisov told journalists after the meeting.

In his words the French President has been impressed with the speed at which Bulgaria's nuclear sector is developing.

Sarkozy has reiterated the commitment of France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon to hold talks with French companies, potential investors in Bulgaria's planned second nuclear power plant in the town of Belene.

"Why do you say you are breaking up with Russia, if everything has been produced there?", Sarkozy asked Borisov, referring to the Russian participation in the project and the two Russian-designed 1000MWe units.

Bulgaria's new center-right government has launched a review of Belene, questioning the need for new power capacity in Bulgaria as well as costs which it said could reach EUR 10 B.

State power utility NEK, which has a majority stake in Belene, has contracted Russia's Atomstroiexport, along with France's Areva and Germany's Siemens to build the plant. German utility RWE has been picked for a 49% stake.

But neither the previous Socialist-led government nor RWE have secured financing for the project. The new Bulgarian cabinet has said it will consider cutting its 51% stake to around 20-30% ina bid to attract more investors and funding.

The French president has also pledged that his country will be the main driving force to secure additional compensations for the closed reactors at Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

The aid would have to be approved by the EU's 27 governments and the European Parliament, which might not be easy considering constraints in the EU budget resulting from the economic crisis.

The meeting was attended by Bulgaria's Ambassador to France Irina Bokova, who was recently elected UNESCO Director General after defeating Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny in a suspenseful and drawn-out race.

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More Aussies Back Nuclear Power: Poll
7 News
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Almost one in two Australians believe nuclear power should be considered as an alternative to fossil fuels, a new Nielsen poll published in Fairfax newspapers suggests.

Forty-nine per cent of respondents to the poll said nuclear power should be considered for Australia's future energy needs, while 43 per cent were completely opposed, Fairfax newspapers said.

These figures demonstrate Australian attitudes may have changed as a 2002 Newspoll showed only 38 per cent in favour of nuclear power, with 51 per cent opposed.

The federal government however, is opposed to introducing nuclear power.

In the lead-up to the 2007 election, then-opposition leader Kevin Rudd said: "If you elect a Labor government, there will be no nuclear reactors in Australia, full stop".

Coalition voters backed more strongly consideration of the nuclear option, with 59 per cent in favour and 46 per cent of Labor voters in favour.

But only 13 per cent of Labor voters said they strongly supported the notion of nuclear power, with 24 per cent strongly opposed.

Mr Rudd on Tuesday says Labor remains opposed to nuclear reactors being built in Australia.

"We do not support nuclear power plants in Australia," Mr Rudd told ABC Radio.

"We believe (that) whereas some countries around the world have no alternative but to use nuclear power, that is not the case in Australia."

Mr Rudd called on the opposition to make its position on nuclear power clear.

"In the past they've left open the possibility of nuclear power plants around Australia," he said.

Labor remained focused on clean coal and renewable energy options, including large scale solar projects, the prime minister said.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett had a similar message.

"There are always going to be polls that appear at different times and give different readings of the temperature on issues," he said.

"But the key thing here is that this government has a comprehensive plan to deal with dangerous climate change.

"We have ruled out nuclear power because we have a wide suite of energy sources that we can draw on as we both manage and deal with climate change and provide the opportunity for sustainable livelihoods for Australians in the generations to come."

The Victorian government also says it will not be changing its stance against nuclear power.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said his government would not consider nuclear energy.

"We're not looking at that and really for Victoria that would not be a sensible solution," he told reporters.

"Many people do have ideological views about uranium but even putting those aside you still wouldn't go down that route for Victoria.

"We've got abundant potential I think in terms of renewable energy so the opportunities that we've got in wind and solar are quite phenomenal."

Mr Brumby said the state had significant supplies of natural gas, which emits much less carbon dioxide than traditional fuels.

He said the state also has 500 years' supply of coal.

"If we can be successful with carbon capture storage, in other words generate electricity from coal, but put all of the carbon underground ... then I think we've got the best of both worlds."

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UAE Passes Law for Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy
Thaindian News
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has told the UN that its nuclear programme is for generating electricity and would begin production in 2017, WAM news agency reported Monday.

Addressing the first committee on “Disarmament and International Security” at the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ahmed Al-Jarman, outlined his country’s nuclear programme.

“We would like to refer to the law issued by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This law emphasises the peaceful nature of the nuclear programme of the UAE, which will be operational in 2017 under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he said.

“The programme will be implemented in full transparency and in a manner that does not harm the environment and ensures public safety,” he said, adding that energy security is a legitimate right of all states without exception.

He said the nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, particularly in generating electricity for improving medical and industrial services.

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G.  Links of Interest

'Nuclear Threat' to Power Grids
BBC News
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Resolved: Denuclearise
Al Ahram
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Biological Weapons Convention Must be Fixed, Experts Say
Martin Matishak
Global Security Newswire
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