1. Iran Views Russia as Main Partner in Nuclear Deal
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Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran regards Russia as the main party in the latest nuclear proposal.
Although Russia, the United States, and France have been mentioned in the draft agreement on exporting Iran’s enriched uranium, Iran views Russia as the main party, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said in Vienna on Wednesday.
“We have announced that we are willing to cooperate with Russia within the framework of an agreement. Although certain other countries, including the U.S. and France, have been mentioned in the draft agreement, the main party in the agreement will be Russia,” he told ISNA on Wednesday shortly after a meeting in Vienna in which diplomats from Iran, the U.S., Russia, and France produced a draft agreement on exporting Iran’s enriched uranium.
Under the draft deal, a large consignment of Iran’s enriched uranium would be shipped out of the country for processing into fuel to make medical isotopes in a research reactor in Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had said on Tuesday that Iran does not need to obtain nuclear fuel from France.
Since Paris has failed to live up to its commitments to deliver nuclear fuel to Tehran in the past, the Islamic Republic has asked that France be removed from the list of potential suppliers of enriched uranium to the country, Mottaki stated.
However, sources close to the talks have said the French delegation apologized to Iran on Wednesday for their country’s past conduct toward Iran and asked IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to make an effort to put France back in the draft agreement with Tehran.
Soltanieh said the draft agreement will be studied and Iran has not yet decided whether to accept or reject the proposal.
The talks were constructive and successful and Iran has made its expectations clear to the negotiating parties and is waiting for their response, he added.
According to an agreement drafted by the IAEA director, all countries involved in the talks have until Friday to approve the proposed deal.
Soltanieh stated that Iran’s stance in the Vienna negotiations was based on the country’s national interests.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran… based on its national interests… will continue interacting (in order) to obtain fuel for the Tehran reactor,” he said
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=206120
2. Iran Will Not Renounce Enrichment Rights: Salehi
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Iran has said it will not renounce its right to enrich uranium to more than five percent purity even if it strikes a deal for a third party to do it, as Israel expressed scepticism over its true intentions.
"As we have said before, we will not give up our rights," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, was quoted by state-owned Iran newspaper on Thursday as saying.
"There is actually no need for us to enrich uranium to more than four or five percent purity as the reactors that we use need uranium enriched to a maximum of five percent," he said.
"So, enrichment to five percent is the highest level that we want for our reactors. But that does not mean that we will renounce our right to enrich uranium level to a higher level."
Diplomats say the UN atomic watchdog drew up a draft agreement on Wednesday for Russia to process Iranian low-enriched uranium to the 20 percent required by a research reactor in Tehran and for France to turn it into fuel form.
That followed two and a half days of talks in Vienna also involving the United States.
"Iran has the capability to enrich uranium to 20 percent but prefers to obtain the fuel from abroad," Salehi said.
"This policy has numerous hidden messages that I would rather not go into," he added, without elaborating.
Salehi said the volume of partly enriched uranium that would be sent abroad under the deal was "not large" and "not a big deal," but he did not elaborate.
Diplomats have said the document includes demands that Iran ship out most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium for further processing by another country.
Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that lies at the heart of Western concerns about Iran's nuclear programme. It produces fuel for civilian reactors, but in highly extended form can also make the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei has asked Iran and the major powers to give their views on the draft by Friday.
Russia warned that it was too early to draw conclusions on the extent of progress but said that the return to the negotiating table was positive.
Foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in Moscow the talks "testify that we can resolve in a civilized and mutually respectful manner the questions that are a matter of interest for the participants."
However Iran's regional arch-foe Israel expressed scepticism about the negotiations.
"We must make sure that this is not a manoeuvre to gain time," the Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai as saying.
"I am not underestimating the agreement, but we need to concentrate the pressure and keep it up at full intensity. Our goal is to neutralise Iran's ability to obtain nuclear weapons."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai said: "Israel is worried about the outcome of such an agreement.
"We hope that world leaders will not stick their heads in the sand and ignore the risks," he told public radio.
The sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, Israel has never ruled out a resort to military action to stop Iran achieving a nuclear capability.
Both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed concerns about the Vienna talks in meetings with the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who was wrapping up a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories on Thursday, public radio said.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jW-VccUuQEl3vlAKn9c_fKytNPlg
Israel said on Thursday that its atomic expert met an Iranian official as part of Middle East nuclear talks, in the archfoes' first direct contact in 30 years, but Tehran denied the encounter.
The Jewish state also said it was worried about a draft deal drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency aimed at allaying Western suspicions over Iran's nuclear programme.
The spokeswoman for Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) Yael Doron told AFP the commission's representative had held several meetings with an Iranian official "in a regional context" and under Australia's auspices.
Doron declined to give details of the meetings, but the Haaretz daily said the officials discussed the chances of declaring the Middle East a nuclear-free zone during the talks in September, the first between the two archfoes to be officially disclosed since the shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979.
Haaretz said Meirav Zafary-Odiz, IAEC director of policy and arms control, and Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's delegate to the IAEA, met several times in Cairo at the end of September.
Also at the meeting were representatives of the Arab League, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Saudia Arabia, as well as European and US officials, the daily said.
It said the meeting was held under the auspices of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation set up at the initiative of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Iran's state television website dismissed the reports.
"This lie is a kind of psychological operation designed to affect the constant success of Iran's dynamic diplomacy in the Geneva and Vienna meetings," atomic organisation spokesman Ali Shirzadian was quoted as saying.
He was referring to talks Iran held in the two cities in recent weeks on its uranium enrichment programme.
Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, has never ruled out a resort to military action to stop Iran's nuclear drive which the West suspects is aimed at making nuclear weapons but Tehran insists is only for peaceful ends.
At one of the Cairo meetings, Soltanieh asked Zafary-Odiz: "Do you or do you not have nuclear weapons," Haaretz said, citing unnamed participants in the meeting. The Israeli smiled but did not respond, the daily said.
Soltanieh said Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons and did not endanger Israel. He insisted Tehran did not hate Jews, though it opposes Zionism, the daily said.
Israel considers Iran its greatest strategic threat after repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust was a "myth" and that Israel was doomed to be "wiped off the map."
The announcement of the Cairo meeting came after the IAEA handed Iran and world powers a draft deal brokered after crunch talks in Vienna between Iran, Russia, the United States and France, according to the UN nuclear watchdog.
Diplomats said the document included demands that Iran ship out most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium for further processing by another country.
The United States, Russia and France had insisted on the point, because it would allay fears that the uranium -- which Iran's hardline rulers have produced in defiance of the UN Security Council -- could be used to build an atomic bomb.
But Israeli officials remained sceptical.
"The Iranians are more sophisticated than we are accustomed to think," the Yediot Aharonot daily quoted Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai as saying. "We must make sure that this is not a manoeuvre to gain time.
"I am not underestimating the agreement, but we need to concentrate the pressure and keep it up at full intensity. Our goal is to neutralise Iran's ability to obtain nuclear weapons," he added.
And Interior Minister Eli Yishai told public radio that "Israel is worried about the outcome of such an agreement. We hope that world leaders will not stick their heads in the sand and ignore the risks."
Available at: http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-world/israel-says-it-held-nuclear-talks-with-iran-20091022-hb6k.html
4. Eyeing Iran, Israel Tests Missile Defenses with U.S.
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Israel and the United States launched a major air defense drill Wednesday as part of what Israeli public radio called preparation for a faceoff with Iran.
During the two-week maneuvers, dubbed Juniper Cobra, some 1,000 American personnel will mesh ground- and ship-based missile interceptors like the Aegis, THAAD and Patriot with Israel's Arrow II ballistic shield, defense officials said.
Spokesmen on both sides insisted the biennial drill was unrelated to world events, but Israel Radio quoted an unnamed commander as saying it served "to prepare for a nuclear Iran."
The United States and other world powers are trying to talk Tehran into giving up nuclear technologies with bomb-making potential, while the Israelis watch warily from the sidelines.
Israel, which is assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has hinted it could resort to force to prevent its arch-foe attaining the means to threaten its existence.
But some analysts believe that tactical limitations, and U.S. misgivings about pre-emptive strikes, may compel Israel to accept a more defensive posture with the help of its top ally.
Iran denies seeking the bomb and has threatened to retaliate for any attack by firing its medium-range missiles at Israel.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE59K15N20091021
5. IAEA Lays Out Draft Nuclear Deal for Iran, West
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Iran and Western powers have agreed to consider a draft nuclear deal proposed by the UN nuclear watchdog after three days of crunch talks in Vienna.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said the draft agreement, which he says could dramatically reduce international concerns over Tehran's enrichment activities, has been sent to Iran, Russia, the United States and France on the third and final day of the negotiations.
"I have circulated a draft agreement that in my judgment reflects a balanced approach to how to move forward," said ElBaradei after the meeting broke up around 1 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) in Vienna.
"I very much hope that people see the big picture — that this agreement could pave the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community," he added.
Details have not been confirmed, but the plan is believed to involve Iran trading its low-level uranium with higher level.
Iran has repeatedly maintained that it prefers to buy the fuel rather than exchanging it.
ElBaradei said the countries have until Friday, October 23, to inform the UN nuclear body whether they accept the compromise.
His comments come as diplomats from Iran, France, Russia and the United States gathered in Vienna for talks on a deal to supply highly-enriched uranium for Tehran's research reactor.
Tehran's research reactor, which supplies medical isotopes for treating cancer to more than 200 hospitals in Iran, requires uranium enriched up to 20 percent.
Western countries have proposed that Iran export low-enriched uranium to Russia for further refinement, then on to France for fabrication into fuel assemblies.
But France, due to its past failure to fulfill obligations to provide Hexa-fluoride gas to Iran, was later removed from the list of potential suppliers.
Press TV's correspondent to Vienna said the French diplomats were nevertheless included in the talks after they formally apologized for their breach of agreement in the past.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=109241§ionid=351020104
Israel was largely mum Wednesday on reports that Iranian negotiators had expressed support for a deal that - if accepted by their leaders - would delay Teheran's ability to make nuclear weapons by sending most of its known existing enriched uranium to Russia for processing.
International Atomic Energy Agencychief Mohamed ElBaradei said that representatives of Iran and its three interlocutors - the US, Russia and France - had accepted the draft for forwarding to their capitals. ElBaradei said he hoped for approval from all four countries by Friday.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate, praised the draft, saying it was "on the right track," while emphasizing that senior Iranian officials in Teheran still had to sign off on it.
"We have to thoroughly study this text and also (need) further elaboration in capitals," Soltanieh told reporters.
The apparent breakthrough came on the third day of talks in Vienna which aimed to overcome differences over Iran's nuclear intentions.
Both the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry had no comment on the development, saying it was premature to discuss, since all that was being talked about at this time was a draft.
Government officials said it was too early to rejoice, because Iran had talked about sending enriched uranium to Russia for processing in the past, only to backtrack a short while later.
While the government's formal position was to refrain from commenting on the issue, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i expressed satisfaction on Wednesday, telling Army Radio this showed "that the international pressure is working, but it must continue so that Teheran will not have a bomb."
ElBaradei said he had "circulated a draft agreement that in my judgment reflects a balanced approach to how to move forward."
"Everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to look at the future, not at the past, trying to heal the wounds," the IAEA chief added. "I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community."
Neither Soltanieh nor Elbaradei gave details of what was in the package. But diplomats told The Associated Press that it was essentially the original proposal drawn up by the IAEA that would commit Teheran to shipping 75 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile to Russia for further enrichment.
The official IRNA news agency in Iran quoted "informed sources in Vienna" as saying that Iran had not signed a deal.
"Iran has not signed any deal about meeting the fuel needs of the Teheran reactor," IRNA quoted the unidentified informed sources as saying.
It said reports that Iranian negotiators had expressed support for a draft deal on sending uranium for processing were "aimed at imposing psychological pressure on Iran... but Iran won't heed such pressure and will only decide on the basis of its national interests."
Sending such a large amount of Iran's enriched uranium outside the country would temporarily get rid of most of the material it needs to make a bomb.
After that material is turned into metal fuel rods, it would then be shipped back to Iran to power its small research reactor in Teheran, according to the draft.
Soltanieh suggested that his country - which held at least one one-on-one meeting with the American delegation - had wrested concessions from Washington in exchange for any agreement.
"One of the aspects in addition to the fuel is the control instrumentation and safety equipment of the reactor," the Iranian negotiator said. "We have been informed about the readiness of the United States in a technical project with the IAEA to cooperate in this respect."
He gave no details, and it was unclear whether the equipment he was describing fell under a UN embargo on shipping sensitive nuclear-related material to Iran, which is under Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze enrichment.
While essentially technical, a deal that foresees Iran exporting most of its enriched material would have significant ramifications. It would commit Iran to turning over more than 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. That would significantly ease fears about Iran's nuclear program, since 1,000 kg. is the commonly accepted amount of low-enriched uranium needed to produce weapons-grade uranium.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner appeared to outline the contours of the deal, insisting that his country would not compromise on demanding that Teheran ship out most of its enriched material.
If Iran accepts the deal, "it must be before the end of the year, [and] there must be at least 1,200 kilograms - on that we won't back down," Kouchner told reporters in Paris.
Based on the present Iranian stockpile, the US has estimated that Teheran could produce a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015, an assessment that broadly matches those from Israel and other nations.
David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, which has tracked Iran for signs of covert proliferation, said any deal would buy only a limited amount of time. He said Teheran could replace 1,200 kg. of low-enriched uranium "in little over a year."
In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not specifically refer to the Vienna meeting or the potential deal, but said the US would engage with Iran if it was "serious about taking practical steps to address the international community's deep concerns about its nuclear program."
"The door is open to a better future for Iran, but the process of engagement cannot be open-ended. We are not prepared to talk just for the sake of talking," she said.
Available at: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1256037278701&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
7. US Calls Iran Nuclear Fuel Draft Deal a 'Very Positive Step'
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The Obama administration said Wednesday that a draft accord on shipping Iran's nuclear fuel abroad is a "very positive step," expecting the document to be approved here by the end of the week.
In Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Wednesday handed Iran, Russia, the United States and France a draft for approval by then that could greatly ease tensions over Tehran's nuclear drive.
Russia, France and Washington are pushing Iran to move forward an agreement -- reached in principle on October 1 -- to ship out most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium for further processing by another country.
"We greatly appreciate IAEA Director General (Mohammed) ElBaradei's skillful efforts and dedication to pursue this initiative of getting Iran to send out their low-enriched uranium to third countries," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.
"We think that the draft agreement presented by him today in Vienna was a very positive step," Kelly told reporters, adding various US government agencies still had to study the draft.
"It was acceptable to our team out there, but we want to give it ... a chance to be seen by a broader range of people in the interagency here," the State Department spokesman said.
"And we expect by Friday to be able to say that we approve it," he added.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jRZDsWRtqNKmB5ZF5OUpbomcJhDg
1. Gates: North Korea Still Threat to International Peace
Lara Jakes and Hyung-Jin Kim
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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that North Korea continues to pose a grave threat to international peace and pledged to maintain a nuclear deterrent in the region.
Gates and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Tae-young, said their two nations would never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. They accused the regime of undermining global security with atomic and missile threats, and said recent overtures from Pyongyang do not diminish the serious atomic threat.
Ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests conducted in April and May "clearly violate" U.N. Security Council resolutions and international disarmament agreements, they said in a joint statement following their talks.
The violations "undermine the global nonproliferation regime and constitute direct and grave threats to peace and stability" not only for South Korea and the region but also for the broader international community, they said.
Earlier, Gates reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defending ally South Korea.
"I want to reaffirm the unwavering commitment of the United States to the alliance and to the defense of the Republic of Korea," he said before going into talks with Kim. "The United States will continue to provide extended deterrence, using the full range of military capabilities, including the nuclear umbrella" to ensure South Korea's security.
North Korea sees Washington's nuclear deterrent as a key threat to its survival and long has maintained that it needs its own atomic program to defend itself against the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Gates and Kim said they agreed to cooperate closely on implementing two U.N. Security Council resolutions that seek to stop North Korea from engaging in ballistic missile activity and in working toward bringing North Korea back to disarmament talks that involve Russia, Japan, China, the U.S. and the two Koreas.
The strong stance from the top defense officials comes amid some signs of possible softening by North Korea after months of tension over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il said earlier this month that his country could rejoin six-party nuclear talks, depending on the status of direct talks with the U.S.
Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=8876887
2. China Committed to North Korea Sanctions: US Envoy
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A top US diplomat said Tuesday that China had expressed its commitment to implementing UN sanctions on North Korea aimed at getting the isolated nation to return to six-nation denuclearisation talks.
Ambassador Philip Goldberg, the US envoy charged with North Korean sanctions, told reporters he discussed the measures with Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei during talks in Beijing.
The UN sanctions were imposed following North Korea's nuclear test in May.
"There is a commitment to implementing the sanctions with the overall goal of returning to the denuclearisation discussions," Goldberg said following the talks.
"We are focussed on the nuclear, missile and proliferation activities of North Korea, targeting those entities and individuals involved in those programmes," said Goldberg, who arrived in China on Monday.
During Goldberg's talks in Beijing, both sides agreed North Korea must be brought back to the six-party talks on denuclearisation that include the two Koreas, hosts China, the United States, Japan and Russia, he said.
During a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Pyongyang earlier this month North Korea said it was willing to return to the talks but only if it first was granted direct negotiations with the United States.
On Tuesday, Goldberg reiterated the US position that it would agree to bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party disarmament forum, but that the goal must be a complete end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons drive.
"That process continues, all with the overall aim of returning to the multi-lateral discussions on denuclearisation," Goldberg said, without saying when such discussions would be held.
Goldberg was due to leave China on Wednesday, a US embassy spokesman said.
The spokesman said he did not know whether Goldberg had further meetings planned in China.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gHhnSZa6g2vUehdEVa9VG1GA5Vrg
1. Terror Attacks A Worry but Pakistan Nuclear Stockpile is Safe: Hillary
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The continuing and sustained terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including the recent attack on its army headquarters, and the past record of the nuclear black market operated by the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb A Q Khan, are certainly cause for concern and remain so, but that country's nuclear arsenal is secure, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
Clinton, in an interaction that followed a major foreign policy speech on nonproliferation at the US Institute of Peace, admitted that Washington has to do something soon to ramp up the propaganda war in Pakistan where the US, for all the massive economic largesse it has provided that country, remains highly unpopular among the populace, which she said had been riled up by false reports in the Pakistani media.
Asked how the Obama administration was planning to address both the issues of the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal due to the militancy and the ongoing proliferation threat compounded by those directly engaged in the country's weapons programme, Clinton said, "Those two concerns are part of each and every engagement that we have."
However, she said, "We have been reassured about the security of the nuclear stockpiles and facilities," and acknowledged, "It is obviously a matter that we are watching very closely for the very reasons that you mention."
"First, the continuing threat of proliferation, which we watch and try to monitor any signs of, and the Pakistani government and military know of our continuing questions about that. And of course, the militant attack that we saw last week and the continuing organised attacks on government targets, including the military itself and the intelligence services by Taliban, Al Qaeda and related extremists."
But Clinton reiterated that "We don't think those attacks pose a threat to the nuclear command and control or access. But we have certainly made our views known and asked a lot of questions and are supporting the Pakistani government in their courageous efforts against these extremists. This, to us, is one of the most important steps they can take to make sure that these questions that you raise are going to be answered satisfactorily."
On how the Obama administration intends to expedite the counter-propaganda in Pakistan, that the massive US presence in the region was to secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, the secretary of state admitted, "I think we have, as a government, not done a very good job in responding to what you rightly call propaganda, misinformation, even in some instances disinformation, about our motivations and our actions in Pakistan."
"This became clear to me as we were doing our review," Clinton said, "And I saw how often there were stories in the Pakistani media that were totally untrue, but we were not responding as effectively as we need to."
Consequently, she said under the supervision of Judith McHale, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, "We have undertaken a very thorough analysis of what better we could do, and we are moving very rapidly to try to fill that void."
Clinton disclosed that "We have a new team going to Pakistan. A public affairs officer may be already there. We have adopted a news approach, which is we do not leave any misstatement or inaccuracy unanswered."
She acknowledged that "it may be that people won't believe it at first, but we intend to counter a lot of this propaganda with the best weapon we have, namely, the truth. And, we are going to be much more aggressive in interacting with the Pakistani media."
Clinton said, "It is unfortunate that there is a lot of mistrust that has built up with respect to the United States. And, I think we saw that in some of the reactions on the Kerry-Lugar legislation, which we'd been working on and consulting with the Government of Pakistan for many, many months."
"And, the ultimate passage of it we saw as a great milestone in our relationship, and we were very concerned when the reaction was so volatile and negative," she added.
Clinton said, "We have gone a long way in answering and putting to rest a lot of those misperceptions." On his recent trip to the region Senator John F Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-author of the legislation, "in between helping us very significantly answer concerns raised in Afghanistan, made a trip to Islamabad where he reiterated our approach," she explained.
However, she said, "This is going to take time. This is not something you can fix in a news cycle or by just snapping your fingers and asking people to believe you. You have to go at it day in and day out. And I was, frankly, quite surprised that we had not done much of this in an effective manner."
But, Clinton reiterated that "We're gong to remedy that," even while continuing to acknowledge that "There's no guarantee that people will pay more attention to what we say."
"At least we're going to be in the mix and we're going to be in the mix every day in getting out information that can be used by those who understand that the United States is hoping to be a good partner for not just the Government of Pakistan, but more importantly, the people of Pakistan," she added.
Available at: http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/oct/22/pak-nuclear-stockpile-is-safe-says-hillary-clinton.htm
1. Government’s Fast-Track Plan for Power Will Raise Hackles
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The Government is likely to anger local campaigners today as it announces a list of nuclear reactors, high-voltage power lines and giant wind farms that it wants to fast-track through Britain’s planning system by using new powers it obtained this month.
The list of 11 significant energy and transport infrastructure projects is being published today by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), a new government-backed body set up this month in the biggest shake-up to Britain’s planning regime in 60 years.
The IPC’s goal is to accelerate the process of securing planning consent for projects considered to be of national importance from as long as seven years at present to less than a year.
The projects include EDF’s plan to build two giant nuclear reactors at Sizewell, Suffolk, and Hinkley Point, Somerset, and two stretches of high-voltage transmission lines, totalling 54 miles (86km), linking them to the National Grid.
The proposed link to Sizewell includes 90 pylons and a 400,000-volt overhead cable passing through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Colchester.
Robert Erith, president of the Dedham Vale Society, which opposes the plans, that said he would fight them all the way: “The opposition is going to be massive. This is a priceless piece of landscape that is worth preserving.”
Sir Michael Pitt, the IPC chairman, said that the new body would weigh all opinions carefully. “The projects we are highlighting today raise important issues for the nation and for local communities, and we want the public to have confidence that their views will be heard,” he said.
“The IPC will not accept any application where it considers that the consultation process has been unsatisfactory or the community’s concerns have not been addressed.”
The list has been published as the CBI called for Britain to accelerate its plans for new nuclear stations.
Neil Bentley, the CBI director of business environment, said that Britain would need up to 12 new reactors by 2030 to avoid blackouts and meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
He said: “With most existing nuclear plants due to close within ten years, we urgently need new reactors to come on stream.”
Available at: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/article6884781.ece#
2. Alarm as Taiwan Wants to Extend Life of Oldest Nuclear Plant
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Taiwan wants to extend the life of its oldest nuclear power plant for another 20 years, the government said on Tuesday, triggering alarm among activists who fear it could put public safety at risk.
State-owned Taiwan Power Company has asked to keep using the Chinshan plant, operational since 1978 in a coastal area of north Taiwan, after the licenses of its two reactors expire in 2018 and 2019, the Atomic Energy Council said.
"The application is for extending the life of the plant's two generators from 40 to 60 years," the cabinet-level council said in a statement.
Conservation activists Tuesday voiced severe concerns about what they called a risky plan, also citing a shortage of space to store the nuclear waste.
"We strongly oppose the measure... We cannot afford taking such as risk," Gloria Hsu, a National Taiwan University professor, told AFP.
"Imagine a car originally designed for use for 10 years or so. Now people hope to use it for 30 years. Wouldn't you have safety concerns while driving such a car?" said Hsu, former chief of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.
The Atomic Energy Council pledged to screen the application for the two nuclear reactors according to "stringent standards".
"We will not approve the license renewal unless safety of the plant is ensured during the extended period," it said in the statement.
The issue has sparked a debate here as some favour renewing licenses for the plant, citing high fuel prices and global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Taiwan's carbon dioxide emissions could be 7.3 million tonnes lower each year if the nuclear power plant is allowed to keep running after 40 years of operation compared with shutting it down, government officials say.
Taiwan Power operates three nuclear power plants, while a fourth is being constructed.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1012657/1/.html
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