Iran will accept the broad framework of a UN-brokered uranium deal but wants "very important changes," state television said on Tuesday, adding Tehran will offer its formal response within 48 hours.
As state-owned Arabic-language television Al-Alam said Iran will demand key changes to the deal, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tehran has the right to pursue nuclear technology.
Officials, meanwhile, continued to express conflicting views on the draft that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said amounted to "wasting of time."
"Iran will accept the broad framework of the deal, but wants very important changes in it," Al-Alam said, quoting a source close to Tehran's nuclear negotiating team.
Without elaborating, it said Tehran will give its response within "48 hours."
State-owned English language television Press TV reported that Tehran will not shift its entire stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) -- as hinted at by the proposed deal -- indicating Tehran would demand changes to it.
The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which drafted the deal, refused to comment on the reports, saying it is awaiting an official response from Tehran.
But Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, welcomed Iran's reported acceptance and said he hoped to talk to Iranian officials on Wednesday, although he did not think the deal required any great adjustments.
"I would hope to have contact tomorrow, probably telephonically," Solana told reporters after talks with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
Since 2006, Solana has been negotiating on behalf of world powers to try to persuade Iran to enter talks on suspending enrichment work in exchange for political and economic benefits.
"The deal was a good deal and I don't think this requires fundamental changes," said Solana, adding that "it's very difficult to know what it means: important changes."
The television reports come a day after Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in a first official response, said Iran might ship part of its LEU abroad, but buying the fuel from a foreign supplier was still an option.
France says the deal calls for Tehran to export to Russia more than 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of its 3.5 percent LEU for refining up to 20 percent purity for fueling a Tehran research reactor that makes medical isotopes.
World powers back this, as they fear Iran intends to enrich its LEU to even higher levels and use it to make atomic weapons. Another plus from their perspective is that the Tehran facility is closely monitored by the IAEA.
Tehran says its enrichment drive -- the most controversial aspect of its nuclear project -- is for peaceful purposes only.
Ahmadinejad once again rammed home this point, saying in a statement that "when an illicit regime (Israel) possesses nuclear arms, one cannot talk about depriving other nations of a peaceful nuclear programme."
The IAEA drafted the uranium exchange deal during Vienna talks held between Iran and France, Russia and the United States earlier this month.
Iran was to give its response to the deal last Friday but delayed it to this week amid stiff opposition from some top officials.
Influential hardline MP Mohammad Kosari, a member of parliament's committee on national security and foreign policy, said he "rejects the deal," which he says will also "be rejected by the majlis (parliament) by a high margin."
It was unclear whether parliament's approval was essential for the deal.
But committee chairman Alaeddin Borujerdi said Iran should hand over its LEU in batches as it would help in "confidence-building" with world powers.
"We provide part of 3.5 percent enriched uranium to the party in the deal and once we receive the 20 percent, we give another batch of 3.5 percent," Borujerdi was quoted as saying by ILNA news agency.
"In other words not all the fuel (LEU) will be handed over in one batch."
Iran is estimated to have 1,500 kilos of LEU at its enrichment plant in the central city of Natanz, produced in defiance of three sets of UN sanctions.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ioSosHHYmlfQtFDxWzi56YJbDXWQ
Turkey's prime minister accused Western powers of treating Iran unfairly over its peaceful nuclear program, in an interview Monday in which he referred to the Iranian president as a friend.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Recep Tayyip Erdogan downplayed Western concerns that Iran wants to build nuclear weapons as “gossip”, and implied that the accusers were guilty of hypocrisy.
“There is a style of approach which is not very fair because those (who accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons) have very strong nuclear infrastructures and they don't deny that,” he said.
“The permanent members of the UN Security Council all have nuclear arsenals and then there are countries which are not members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which also have nuclear weapons.
“So although Iran doesn't have a weapon, those who say Iran shouldn't have them are those countries which do.”
Erdogan also said a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations would be “crazy”, according to the newspaper.
“If the idea is to devastate Iran or somehow erase it altogether I don't think that would be right,” he added.
“On the one hand you say you want global peace, on the other hand you are going to have such a destructive approach to a state which has 10,000 years of history. It is not correct.”
Turkey, a NATO member, has in recent years improved ties with Iran, its eastern neighbor, and sought to help resolve the nuclear dispute.
Erdogan said of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “There is no doubt he is our friend. We have kept very good relations and we have had no difficulty at all.”
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=206501
3. Bernard Kouchner: Iran and Israel in 'Race to Confrontation'
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Iran's nuclear ambitions have started a "race to confrontation" with Israel and the world's leading powers must break the deadlock before the Jewish state "reacts", according to France's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner.
Bernard Kouchner stressed the urgency of reaching agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme and removing the risk of a pre-emptive strike by Israel.
During an official visit to Lebanon's capital, Beirut, the minister told The Daily Telegraph that time was running out.
"They [the Israelis] will not tolerate an Iranian bomb. We know that, all of us. So that is an additional risk and that is why we must decrease the tension and solve the problem. Hopefully we are going to stop this race to a confrontation," said Mr Kouchner.
"There is the time that Israel will offer us before reacting, because Israel will react as soon as they know clearly that there is a threat."
Six world powers, including France and Britain, met Iranian officials in Geneva on Oct 1. They want the Islamic Republic to obey five United Nations resolutions and stop enriching uranium, a process which could produce the essential material for nuclear weapons.
So far, Iran has adamantly refused. Its officials agreed to another meeting before the end of this month but declined to fix a date.
France, Britain and America have pledged to review their policy at the end of this year. If there is no agreement, they will probably urge the UN to impose more economic sanctions on Iran.
But Mr Kouchner made clear his personal scepticism. He fears that tightening the existing sanctions would simply impoverish ordinary Iranians, weaken the opposition and fail to influence the regime.
"Certainly, the upper people in the Iranian government, they will not suffer from sanctions. But the people of the bazaar and the people on the street, the women and the youngsters, they will certainly suffer from that," said Mr Kouchner.
"So this is a problem. It is not a discovery. I have witnessed sanctions all over the world and it's always targeting the poor people more than the rich people."
Mr Kouchner said the priority was still "dialogue". More sanctions might become necessary "in the coming months", but he would be reluctant to impose them.
"We are not looking for sanctions and as I said my personal experience is not to look for sanctions targeted on people. There is an opposition, people are demonstrating, very courageously they were in the streets. Why are we targeting them? I don't know. We are not for the time being looking for sanctions."
Iran has blamed Britain for the mass protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supposed re-election in June. Mr Kouchner said these accusations were designed to divide the West.
"They are targeting the Brits and all the time they are trying to separate the French and the Brits. We cannot fall for such a simple tactic," he said.
Iran has not given a clear answer to a proposal that would allow the renewal of a civilian reactor in Tehran. The idea is that Iran would export about 80 per cent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and then France for processing into new fuel rods.
Iran first said "yes" in principle, but declined to agree any practicalities and ignored a deadline of last Friday set by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Tehran now promises a reply on Wednesday.
White House officials have said that a rejection of what they called a "bona fide" offer would signal that Iran had no intention of pursuing a negotiated settlement. There is growing pessimism that the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad no longer considers the proposed deal "in a favourable light", as Iranian negotiators suggested last week, and his regime is seeking to test the mettle of President Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, IAEA inspectors visited a previously undeclared nuclear plant outside the holy city of Qom on Sunday. Iran had kept this enrichment facility secret until America, Britain and France disclosed its existence last month.
The inspection of the facility, likely to last three days, is expected to be one of the most intrusive ever mounted in Iran, despite insistence in Tehran that the IAEA mission is purely "routine".
The monitors are expected to demand to see engineering drawings of the plant and to seek permission to interview scientists, engineers and architects involved with the site. Iran has denied similar requests in the past, but is under much greater pressure now after having been caught out in an apparent attempt to cover up the existence of the Qom plant.
The inspectors will also ask Iranian officials whether there are other hidden plants that feed the Qom facility with nuclear material.
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/6431007/Bernard-Kouchner-Iran-and-Israel-in-race-to-confrontation.html#
4. Iran Would Need 18 Months for Atom Bomb - Diplomats
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Intelligence agencies estimate that it would probably take Iran a minimum of 18 months to develop a nuclear weapon if it chose to build one, Western diplomats and intelligence officials said.
For years the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Britain's MI6, Israel's Mossad, their French and German counterparts and other spy agencies have been struggling to penetrate Iran's secretive nuclear program, often disagreeing internally and with each other on when Iran could have a nuclear weapon.
Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and says Western spies are lying when they suggest Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Some officials at the U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna have warned against exaggerating the case against Iran, as happened with prewar Iraq.
But several Western diplomats told Reuters that the top spy agencies generally agreed that Tehran would need at least 18 months to build an atomic weapon if it decided to make one -- a much shorter timeline than some of the agencies' publicly released assessments of Iran's nuclear plans.
"It's not a formal assessment or formal agreement but a rough agreement that we can all work with more or less," one Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. He said it was a "worst-case scenario," not the most likely one.
Another Western diplomat confirmed the agreement, adding that the assessment was based on the assumption that Tehran would need at least six months to purify its uranium stocks to weapons-grade level and another 12 months for "weaponization" -- building the actual nuclear weapon.
The minimum possible timeline is crucial because it gives an indication of how much time the six countries spearheading efforts to persuade Iran to halt its enrichment program -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- have before Tehran could theoretically have an atomic weapon.
Iran has so far rejected offers of economic and political incentives from the six in exchange for suspending enrichment, despite getting hit with three rounds of U.N. sanctions.
A plan under discussion in Vienna that would move most of Iran's low enriched uranium stocks to Russia and France for enrichment and fabrication into fuel rods would add another 12 months onto the timeline if Tehran accepts it, the diplomats said. Tehran needs a specialized fuel assembly for a medical reactor but is reluctant to send its uranium abroad.
The diplomats also pointed out that the 18-month estimate did not account for technical obstacles and bottlenecks that could be expected to slow down the process of building an actual weapon. Nor does it assume Tehran has already made a strategic decision to build such a weapon.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence said in February that Iran would not realistically be able to a get a nuclear weapon until 2013. Mossad Chief Meir Dagan was more cautious, saying recently that it would take the Iranians until 2014.
But an Israeli official linked to the country's security cabinet described the 18-month timeline as "reasonable."
A recently retired Israeli government intelligence analyst who still has access to briefings also said the reasoning was solid: "You can argue about the timeline -- a few months here or there -- but that's not relevant to the big picture."
David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security think-tank, said it was in line with information he has.
"It's consistent with what I was told by a senior European intelligence official," he said.
But one Western intelligence official expressed doubt that Iran would be able to produce a bomb so quickly, describing the 18-month minimum timeline as unrealistic. "Do they have the knowledge and wherewithal to produce highly enriched uranium now?" the official said. "I'm skeptical."
The diplomats who described the timeline said there was much about Iran's nuclear program that intelligence agencies and the Vienna-based U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were ignorant about because of Tehran's secretiveness.
"We are all very mindful of what happened in Iraq," one diplomat said. "There is so much we don't know."
One of the justifications for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 had been U.S. and British assertions -- now known to have been erroneous -- that Iraq's late leader Saddam Hussein had revived his clandestine nuclear arms program.
The diplomats said it was very possible Iran had another undeclared enrichment plant hidden somewhere, similar to the recently exposed site near Qom which IAEA inspectors visited for the first time on Sunday. The Qom site's existence was revealed last month by the United States, Britain and France.
One intelligence official told Reuters that even if Iran had another such plant it would probably not be able to produce significant quantities of enriched uranium and would therefore not have much of an impact on the presumed timeline.
The diplomats said Western intelligence agencies continued to have their disagreements on Iran, above all regarding the U.S. 2007 National Intelligence Assessment (NIE) that concluded Iran had ended its nuclear weaponization program in 2003.
Israeli and European intelligence experts disagree with that assessment and believe Iran's research on fabricating a nuclear weapon has continued. The diplomats said U.S. intelligence agencies were considering revising the 2007 NIE.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-43441320091026
5. Mottaki: Iran Will Comment on Nuclear Deal Soon
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Following the approval of the US, Russia and France to an IAEA-brokered draft proposal on nuclear fuel supply, Iran's foreign minister says Tehran will express its views about the deal soon.
"We may give money to supply the fuel as we did in the past or we may deliver part of the fuel that we currently possess but we do not need," Mottaki told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Monday referring to the draft on supplying fuel for Tehran research reactor.
"Making a decision about the two options is on Iran's agenda. We will announce our decision within the next few days," he added.
The deal is expected to supply uranium enriched up to 20 percent for the Tehran reactor, which produces medical isotopes for treating cancer to more than 200 hospitals across the country.
The proposal was drafted after delegates from Iran, France, Russia and the United States as well as experts from the UN nuclear watchdog gathered in Vienna on October 19 and discussed the uranium deal.
The Iranian minister reiterated that Iran would continue its legal activities on peaceful nuclear technology and said, "This issue has nothing to do with supplying fuel for Tehran reactor."
On Friday, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh informed the agency that Iran wants to examine the draft of the agreement more closely before giving its final answer.
In its most recent statement, the IAEA said that Iran needs more time to consider the nuclear fuel agreement.
Iran says the offer is in line with the country's transparency policy and is a measure aimed at confidence-building over its peaceful nuclear activities.
In his Monday remarks, Mottaki said all countries have to move toward achieving nuclear energy regarding the fact that an end of fossil fuels supply is nearing.
"We want nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for no one… Different countries have expressed their readiness to build new nuclear power plants in Iran," he added.
Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is entitled to enrich uranium to provide fuel for its under-construction nuclear power plants based on the regulations of International Atomic Energy Agency-- the only body with the authority to intervene in nuclear programs around the globe.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=109644
6. UN Nuclear Team Plans More Inspections of Iran Site
Ladane Nasseri and Ali Sheikholeslami
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United Nations nuclear inspectors, on a three-day visit to Iran, plan more examinations of a recently disclosed uranium-enrichment site, state-run Mehr news service said.
Inspections at the enrichment plant known as Fordo, some 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Tehran near the city of Qom, started yesterday. The International Atomic Energy Agency team will carry out several visits and compare information provided by Iran with data collected at the site, Mehr said.
The plant, whose existence was revealed last month, is Iran’s second facility after Natanz to enrich uranium and isolate isotopes to generate fuel used in a nuclear reactor. The IAEA inspects such sites to determine whether they comply with the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
Iran on Oct. 23 missed a deadline for its response to a proposal by the IAEA to ship most of its stock of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further processing. The country said it would reply to the IAEA this week about the plan, under which the material would be returned as metal rods that could only be used in a reactor and not in a nuclear weapon. Uranium enriched to higher concentrations can be used to form the core of a bomb.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki confirmed today an earlier IAEA statement that Iran may send some of its low- enriched uranium abroad for additional enrichment. Mottaki said the alternative would be to purchase nuclear fuel without transferring any of Iran’s stockpile, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency cited him as saying in Tehran. Iran will give its reply in the next few days, Mottaki said.
“Iran’s legal activities in the field of peaceful nuclear technology will continue,” Mottaki said today. He said the research is separate from the provision of fuel for a Tehran reactor, a facility making isotopes used in cancer treatment and covered by the talks with the IAEA that concluded on Oct. 23.
Parliament prefers purchasing fuel for the Tehran reactor, Alaeddin Borjuerdi, head of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, told the Iranian Students News Agency today, hinting that lawmakers may not favor sending Iran’s existing stockpile abroad for further enrichment.
Acceptance of the Tehran reactor deal by Iran would improve prospects for further talks over its atomic program, which the U.S. and its allies say may be designed to build nuclear weapons. Iran rejects the accusations, saying its program is solely civilian.
The deal “put on the table is a very good one,” Alastair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura International Plc in London, said today in an e-mail. “It would see some ratcheting back of sanctions, thereby easing a little at least the economic situation” in Iran.
The Persian Gulf country is under three sets of economic sanctions for ignoring resolutions by the UN Security Council that call for the suspension of enrichment. The measures include a ban the sale of equipment that could be used in Iran’s nuclear work, block travel by certain individuals, and cut links to Iranian banks and companies involved in the program. The U.S. has its own set of sanctions against Iran, which amount to a near-embargo on trade.
Iran has told IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei it is considering the proposal “in depth and in a favorable light” yet needs until the middle of this week to reply, according to an IAEA statement on Oct. 23.
“Iranians are remarkably tough negotiators and always inclined to a very detailed dental inspection of any ‘gift horse’,” Newton said.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Iran’s failure to meet deadlines set by the world powers in connection with the disputed nuclear program would worsen the country’s relations with the EU.
“We have deadlines that have to be met,” Solana told reporters today before a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Iran has said the Fordo facility is burrowed inside a mountain to protect it from potential Israeli or U.S. strikes. Its disclosure raised concerns from world powers over the scope and goals of Iran’s nuclear activities.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601104&sid=af.Kt6huozlo
Iran ignored a U.N. deadline on Friday to respond to an international draft deal for it to cut an atomic stockpile the West fears could be used for weapons, and challenged the basis of the pact.
Iranian officials said they would give an answer only next week to the U.N.-drafted deal, which has been accepted by the other parties -- Russia, France and the United States.
They also said Tehran preferred to acquire enriched uranium abroad rather than send out its own for processing into fuel for nuclear medicine, as Western powers said it tentatively agreed to at Geneva talks on October 1 on ways to defuse growing confrontation over its disputed atomic aspirations.
Their remarks suggested that instead of engaging with the IAEA's draft, Iran was following a well-tested strategy of buying time to blunt Western pressure for harsher international sanctions while it presses on with nuclear research.
The U.N. nuclear agency said it had been told by Iran that it was considering the proposal "in depth and in a favorable light," but needed until the middle of next week to take a position -- flouting the IAEA's Friday deadline for responses.
It said International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei hoped Iran's reply "will equally be positive, since approval of this agreement will signal a new era of cooperation" after seven years of standoff.
The IAEA did not say why Iran required more time to decide.
It would require the Islamic Republic, whose nuclear secrecy and restrictions on IAEA inspections have raised alarm, to send 1.2 tons of its known 1.5-tonne stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France by the end of the year.
There it would be further processed, in a way that would make it hard to use for warheads, and returned to Iran as fuel plates to power a Tehran reactor that makes radioactive medical isotopes but is due to run out of its imported fuel in a year.
The deal would test Iran's stated intention to use enriched uranium only for peaceful energy.
It would also gain time for broader talks on world powers' ultimate goal: that Iran allay fears that it has a secret nuclear weapons program by curbing enrichment, in return for trade and technology benefits.
But the stance taken by Iranian officials could call into question plans to resume talks at the end of October and offered little to douse fears of a nuclear "breakout" risk in Iran.
INSPECTORS HEADING TO HIDDEN ENRICHMENT SITE
Underscoring concerns, senior IAEA inspectors prepared to head for Iran to examine an enrichment site on Sunday revealed by Tehran last month after Western spy services penetrated a three-year veil of secrecy. They were expected to stay 2-3 days.
Buying enriched uranium abroad would not only fail to reduce the domestic stockpile worrying the international community, but also require sanctions imposed on Iran since 2006 to be waived to allow it to import such sensitive nuclear material.
"Iran is interested in buying fuel for the Tehran research reactor within the framework of a clear proposal," Iranian state television quoted a member of Iran's negotiating team, who attended nuclear talks in Vienna this week, as saying.
"We are waiting for the other party's constructive and trust-building response."
A U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Washington still hoped Iran would answer positively next week. "Obviously we would have preferred to have a response today. We approach this with a sense of urgency," he told a regular news briefing.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was quoted as saying in Lebanon that "via the indications we are receiving, matters are not very positive" and said this augured ill for further talks between Iran and six big powers planned shortly.
"If these indications remain negative and there is no consensus on the expert level ... this will reflect negatively on the continuation of the political contacts at the level of the 5+1 meeting in Geneva."
A senior developing nation diplomat in Vienna with good contacts with the Iranians said he doubted Iran would agree to transfer the bulk of its LEU stockpile abroad.
"They will not want to lose much of their main bargaining chip, with negotiations pending on broader strategic issues in the nuclear file," he told Reuters.
ElBaradei hammered out the draft in three days of difficult consultations in Vienna with the four nations' delegations.
The deal would reduce Iran's reserve of LEU below the threshold that could yield enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon if refined to 90 percent purity. LEU is refined to 5 percent. The reactor's fuel is 20 percent pure.
The Islamic Republic says its nuclear energy program is only for producing electricity, but it is years away from having any nuclear power plants that would use LEU.
Iran has repeatedly rejected U.N. and IAEA calls on it to curb enrichment or grant unfettered U.N. inspections, meant to verify that it is not trying to develop nuclear arms covertly.
The six powers will pursue these issues with Iran at further talks at senior foreign ministry level set for Geneva. Iran's current pace of enrichment would replace the amount of LEU earmarked for processing abroad in a year or less.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE59M2GS20091023?sp=true
2. North Korea Completes Construction of Top Missile Base: Officials
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea has completed the construction of its largest and most sophisticated missile base on the west coast, laying the groundwork for improved intercontinental ballistic missiles, senior officials here said Monday.
The Dongchang-ri base has been under construction for several years, deepening outside concerns that North Korea is continuing to develop its capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
"The construction is as good as finished," one South Korean official said, asking for anonymity because he was speaking on matters of intelligence. "The necessary facilities are all there"
Another official said North Korea has been testing missile parts such as boosters at the site about 200km northwest of Pyongyang and only 70km west of the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.
"It's a leap in North Korea's ballistic missile development," the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity and adding the construction ended "only recently."
Analysts say the Dongchang-ri base is about three times larger than the Musudan-ri site where North Korea launched a long-range rocket in April, claiming that it put a satellite into space.
The launch on the east coast drew condemnations worldwide. The U.S. and South Korea denounced it as a thinly veiled test of a Taepodong-2 missile technically capable of reaching the western U.S.
Less than a month later, North Korea went ahead with its second nuclear test, triggering U.N. sanctions tougher than those imposed after the first one in 2006.
In June, South Korean officials said North Korea transported an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, by train to the Dongchang-ri site from a munitions factory near Pyongyang, fueling tensions already high from the nuclear blast.
Nam Sung-wook, who heads a research institute affiliated with South Korea's spy agency, said in July that the Dongchang-ri site would allow for testing of missiles with a range of over 3,000km.
The officials said the newest base is for ICBMs, which can fly at least 5,000km. The long-range rocket which the North fired in April is believed to have flown at least 3,000km.
North Korea has test-fired a range of short-range and mid-range missiles this year. The country, which has in recent months shown willingness to return to talks on its nuclear program, is believed to have up to 1,000 ballistic missiles, including 700 Scuds.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/10/26/45/0401000000AEN20091026006500315F.HTML
3. U.S. Again Urges North Korea to Return to 6-Way Nuclear Talks
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The United States reiterated its call Monday on North Korea to rejoin the six-party talks on ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear arsenals, following the direct contact between the two nations over the weekend.
The urging came as State Department spokesman Ian Kelly briefed reporters on Saturday's meeting in New York between Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks, and Ri Gun, director general of the North American affairs bureau of North Korea's Foreign Ministry.
"Ambassador Kim took the opportunity to once again lay out what our position is on the way forward with the ultimate goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and that we believe that the best way forward on that is through the resumption of the six-party talks," Kelly said.
Kim and Ri met at the U.S. office of the United Nations in New York, the first direct bilateral contact since the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama was launched in January.
Ri arrived in the United States to participate in private-sector forums -- one near San Diego, California on Monday and Tuesday and the other in New York Friday. He is due to stay in the United States until Nov. 2.
On the possibility of Kim and Ri having further talks, Kelly said, "There are no plans for further bilateral meetings at this conference, but I don't exclude that there won't be some side meetings with Mr. Ri Gun."
North Korea agreed in September 2005 to dismantle its nuclear programs in an aid-for-denuclearization deal struck at the six-party talks involving North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
But North Korea withdrew from the six-way talks in April to protest the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of its rocket launch, which was widely regarded as a long-range missile test. Pyongyang added to the tension by detonating a nuclear device for the second time in May.
Last month, Washington announced a plan to seek direct talks with Pyongyang as part of efforts to resume the six-party talks.
Available at: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9BJ02QG3&show_article=1
1. Suicide Attacker Hits Pakistani Military Complex
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A suicide bomber killed six people Friday near a military complex in northern Pakistan reportedly associated with the country's nuclear weapons program, as the government presses on with a week-old offensive against militants in the northwest.
The attack took place near a sprawling aeronautical facility in Kamra around 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Islamabad.
The site is often mentioned by foreign military experts and research groups as a likely place for storing parts of nuclear missiles or the planes that can carry them. The army, which does not give information on where its nuclear weapons are stored, has denied that the facility has any links to the weapons program.
The attacker was reportedly riding a bicycle and blew himself up at a checkpoint on a road leading to the complex, said police officer Fakhrialim Raja. Six people were killed, four of them civilians, he said.
The attack was part of a wave of violence sweeping Pakistan as its army presses ahead with an anti-Taliban offensive in the northwestern region of South Waziristan. At least 170 people have been killed in bombings and raids on western and security related targets in recent weeks.
The complex at Kamra has been targeted at least once before.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hkiMxbHNH0BqgpWA2ZG6VD6wVTmAD9BGI5DO1
In a clear attempt to mount pressure on India, the East Asia Summit (EAS) today called upon its member states to accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
“We encouraged those EAS participating countries that have not acceded to the CTBT to do so as it would serve as an impetus for having a successful NPT Review Conference,” said the Chairman’s statement adopted at the end of the day-long summit. It noted the intention of the Philippines in its capacity as President of the May 2010 NPT Review Conference to undertake wide and transparent consultations with parties to achieve a successful outcome of the conference.
India is among the countries which have refused to sign both the CTBT and the NPT, contending that the treaties were discriminatory in nature.
The summit, which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reaffirmed the member states’ commitment to combat people smuggling and trafficking in persons. It stressed the importance of continued bilateral and regional cooperative effort to contain people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes.
The summit leaders welcomed India’s initiative to revive the Nalanda University located in Bihar, noting that it was a great ancient centre of intellectual activity in Buddhist philosophy, mathematics, medicine and other disciplines.
In his statement at the summit, the Indian PM noted that many of the members of the grouping faced the spectre of terrorism. There were growing threats from non-traditional sources, such as piracy, transnational groups and extremist ideologies.
On economic integration of the East Asia region, Manmohan Singh said India had signed comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPA) agreements with Singapore and South Korea and a trade in goods agreement with ASEAN. “We are in discussions with Japan, China, Thailand and Malaysia and other countries to conclude agreements of a similar nature,” he added.
Available at: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091026/main3.htm
The incoming German government has renewed calls for the remaining U.S. nuclear warheads to be removed from Germany.
"We will take President Obama at his word and enter talks with our allies so that the last of the nuclear weapons still stationed in Germany, relics of the Cold War, can finally be removed," Guido Westerwelle, Germany's next foreign minister, said Sunday at a congress of his Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in the German government. "Germany must be free of nuclear weapons."
The remarks come a day after Westerwelle's FDP and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union agreed on the basic policies for their center-right coalition government.
Merkel on Saturday upon the policy plan's presentation in Berlin said she was generally supporting the plan to withdraw the U.S. warheads but stepped on the diplomatic brakes by pledging that there would be no pressure from Berlin.
"We do not want any independent action here," she said, cautioning Westerwelle, who seems to be eager to score points with the nuclear weapons issue here in Germany.
In Germany, an estimated 20 to 30 warheads (the German government doesn't give any figures) remain at a German Luftwaffe base in Buechel, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Westerwelle as an opposition leader had urged Berlin to do more to remove the nuclear weapons; after 11 years in the opposition, he will soon be part of the German government. Westerwelle will take office as foreign minister later this month, a position many say is not a perfect fit for him.
While his FDP is a strong proponent of trans-Atlantic ties, Westerwelle is an expert in economic and finance policy and has little foreign policy experience.
He is notorious for his poor English skills and was recently lampooned when he refused to answer a journalist's question in English, snapping at the BBC reporter, "This is Germany here."
Among Merkel's Conservatives, not everyone is happy about Westerwelle's public diplomacy.
Earlier this year CDU lawmaker Ruprecht Polenz in an interview with Berlin-based newspaper Tagespiegel warned against "laying down the law or pressurizing the Americans in this matter." A senior foreign policy expert, Polenz said it was up to the Americans to decide how they wanted to protect their troops.
Over the past two decades Washington has significantly reduced the number of nuclear weapons in Europe -- from a record Cold War height of more than 7,000 to an estimated 240 bombs today. And even those explosives have diminished in significance, as nuclear warheads today aren't dropped from B2 bombers, but are mounted on long-distance missiles.
The remaining bombs are stationed in five NATO countries: Italy, Turkey, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2009/10/26/German-FM-wants-US-nukes-out/UPI-37351256578313/
1. Areva to Start Work at Indian Nuclear Power Plant
Power Engineering International
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Areva is preparing to start work at the proposed 1650 MW nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, according to the French foreign trade ministry.
"We have already signed an MoU between NPCIL, Areva and we are preparing for the construction of the civil nuclear plant located in Jaitapur," Foreign Trade Minister of France, Anne Marie Idrac told reporters.
French firm Areva would supply the equipment for the nuclear power project to be developed by state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
Both India and France have agreed to set up six units of European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) over the next 12 to 15 years, and the total funding needs for setting up 10 GW capacity is about at 1trn rupees ($21.5bn).
NPCIL recently said it has tied up funds for the Jaitapur power project. The project requires an investment part of which would come from external credit assistance (ECA).
The ECA will be from a consortium of five French banks, including BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, HSBC and Calyon. NPCIL would also borrow from both Indian and French financial institutions.
Available at: http://pepei.pennnet.com/display_article/370386/6/ARTCL/none/none/1/Areva-to-start-work-at-Indian-nuclear-power-plant/
1. Iran Expects Russia to Honor Bushehr Commitments on Time
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Tehran expects Moscow to launch Iran's first nuclear power plant as scheduled, the Iranian foreign minister said on Monday.
Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, earlier said the Bushehr plant was 96% complete, almost all of the equipment had been installed, and that after testing the plant would go into full operation.
"We [Iran] expect Russian company Atomstroyexport and the Russian government, which supervises the company's work, to honor their commitments to launch the Bushehr nuclear power plant ... on time," Manouchehr Mottaki said.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko earlier said Bushehr could be launched by the year's end.
The construction of the Bushehr plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy siege in Tehran.
Russia signed a contract with Iran to complete the plant in February 1998, originally due for completion at the end of 2006. The date was postponed several times over financial problems and Iranian claims that Russia was reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and suspicions of a covert nuclear weapons program.
Iran has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, used in both electricity generation and weapons production. Tehran has repeatedly rejected the demand, insisting it is pursuing a purely civilian program.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20091026/156592297.html
2. U.A.E. Cabinet Backs Nuclear-Energy Accord With U.S., WAM Says
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The United Arab Emirates cabinet approved an atomic-energy agreement with the U.S., a necessary step to awarding construction contracts for reactors in the Persian Gulf nation, state-run WAM news agency reported.
Earlier this year the two countries signed an accord to cooperate on developing a civilian atomic-energy program in the U.A.E., the agency said on its Web site today.
The U.S. said earlier this month that it would talk to the U.A.E. to formalize the agreement after a 90-day congressional review period ended Oct. 17. “We’ve completed all of our internal procedures for it to enter into force,” Ian Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said in a press briefing Oct. 22.
A French group including Areva SA, Total SA, GDF Suez SA and Electricite de France SA is competing for U.A.E. power-plant contracts against groups led by General Electric Co. and Korea Electric Power Corp.
The civil nuclear agreement may create more than 10,000 jobs, while commercial opportunities could exceed $40 billion, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601104&sid=a31hHwOiEXm4
3. Nuclear Energy Becomes Pivotal in Climate Debate
H. Josef Hebert
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Once vilified by environmentalists and its future dim, nuclear energy has become a pivotal bargaining chip as Senate Democrats seek Republican votes to pass climate legislation. The nuclear industry's long-standing campaign to rebrand itself as green is gaining acceptance amid the push to curtail greenhouse gases.
Nuclear power still faces daunting challenges, including what to do with radioactive reactor waste. Reactors also remain a tempting target for terrorists.
But 104 power reactors in 31 states provide a fifth of the nation's electricity while producing essentially carbon free power and no greenhouse gas emissions.
It's something the nuclear industry has been pushing in advertising and in lobbying on Capitol Hill for nearly a decade. But only recently has it begun to resonate, not only among industry supporters, but some skeptics as well.
"If you want to address climate change and produce electricity, nuclear has got to be a significant part of the equation," Marvin Fertel, president of Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry trade group, said in an interview.
Not unexpected from a top industry lobbyist. But the same is being heard from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, from a growing number of environmentalists, and from the White House where nuclear power otherwise has received tepid support.
The Senate this week will kick off three committee hearings on legislation to cap greenhouse gases from power plants and large industrial facilities, with an intent of cutting them about 80 percent by 2050. The House has already passed a bill.
It's chances in the Senate could hinge in part on whether demands by a handful of GOP senators for measures to help build new reactors are included in the bill.
A study by the industry-supported Electric Power Research Institute says 45 new reactors are needed by 2030. The Energy Information Administration puts the number even higher, at 70 new reactors. And the Environmental Protection Agency analysis assumes 180 new reactors by 2050 for an 80 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has applications for 30 new reactors, although only a handful likely will be built over the next decade.
Sponsors of the climate bill are far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster, but hope compromises could be forged to bring uncommitted centrist Democrats and some Republicans on board.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jsukLqyQ2R1X4f60DpGHPBX545lgD9BI1DQO0
France has accepted to help Kenya develop its nuclear potential, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said.
Mr Odinga, who jetted back in the country on Monday night, said world leaders had pledged to support the government’s efforts to harness nuclear energy.
He announced that the country may soon install the first ever nuclear plant to bridge the local energy deficit after the French government consented to a proposal to jointly develop a facility in Kenya.
“We have opened talks with the French to establish a nuclear energy reactor in the country as we also pursue expansion of green energy production to facilitate industrial development” he said.
He said France through the French Development Agency (DFA) had increased funding to geothermal related activities at a cost of Sh540 billion ($ 7.2 billion) to boost energy supply in the local market.
Mr Odinga said the better part of the grant was earmarked for the expansion of the Ol Karia geothermal plant whose impact was crucial for the country’s quest to realise the Vision 2030 dream.
He said the trip in France, China and Switzerland presented a forum to market the Kenyan dream to the developed world ahead of the global conference on climate change scheduled for December in Copenhagen.
The PM, however, challenged leaders of the developing nations to push for tangible and reasonable funding on environmental conservation initiatives to realise the desired impact of the activities.
He said the Sh7.5 trillion ($100 billion) British Premier Gordon Brown had proposed for mitigation of environmental issues in the third world ahead of the conference was insufficient.
Mr Odinga urged like minded nations to put up a spirited fight in advocating for a reasonable resource allocation to restore the fragile ecosystem to reverse the effects of climate change.
“Copenhagen is a do or die situation because it create a for a where nations can push for reasonable funding that can secure the adaptation and mitigation of the environmental concerns in developing world” he said.
The PM cited the Mau complex conservation initiative as a case in study which required sound financial resources at later phases to amicably restore the degraded water tower.
He took the opportunity to dispell fears that country had in recent past appeared leaning to the East at the expense of countries in West and insisted that cooperation with China was in good faith.
Mr Odinga put records straight that the partnership the government had with the Republic of China was mainly of infrastructural, cultural, educational and trade ventures for the mutual benefit of both nations.
He said the Chinese input in local economic growth could sway the outcome of the vision 2030 dream in a big way because the bilateral engagement treaded on key pillars of development.
“The relation with China is not at the expense of any other country whatsoever but we have joint initiatives in railway, roads, ports, airport and telecommunication sectors,” the premier stressed.
He said the coalition government would ensure that the clamour for dual citizenship among Kenyans in the Diaspora become a reality when the new constitution was in place.
Cabinet Ministers James Orengo, Prof Anyang Nyongo , Paul Otuoma and several MPs received the premier at the airport.
Available at: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/677870/-/uo3tkt/-/index.html
A three-member International Atomic Energy Agency team is in the country at the invitation of the Government to review and advise on measures to strengthen the regulatory framework for safety and security of radiation.
Head of delegation Mr Kgosietsile Leotwane said the team of experts would present Government with a report of its findings and recommendations.
"We will work with the Government of Zimbabwe to agree on an action plan to implement measures to enhance the regulation infrastructure in line with international standards," he said.
Mr Leotwane was speaking after meeting members of the Steering Committee on Radiation Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources.
He said the report would contain recommendations on addressing the country’s shortcomings, provision of equipment and training of staff.
Mr Leotwane, who is a radiation safety specialist, commended Zimbabwe for its dedication to protecting the environment from the effects of nuclear radiation and radioactive sources.
He said attendance of various stakeholders at the meeting had impressed the delegation.
In the other countries the team had visited, stakeholders’ participation was either limited or not impressive, he said.
"The calibre of people we have here from all key Government ministries is evidence of the level of seriousness," he said.
The steering committee is composed of the permanent secretaries for Energy and Power Development; Health and Child Welfare; and Science and Technology.
The Home Affairs, Defence, Justice and Legal Affairs ministries were also represented in the meetings with the IAEA Advisory Mission. — New Ziana.
Available at: http://www.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=11805&cat=1
3. World Powers Discuss Unity on Iran Nuclear Deal: US
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The United States said world powers had spoken Monday of the need to maintain united pressure on Iran as Tehran weighs a UN-brokered deal aimed at ending the crisis over its nuclear program.
Earlier Monday a top Russian foreign ministry official urged the powers to show maximum patience, in the latest sign of Moscow's unwillingness to give Tehran tough ultimatums on the nuclear issue.
US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said representatives from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany had spoken earlier by telephone.
"They discussed the need for unity of the P5 plus one in our approach to the issue of Iran's nuclear program," he said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran would announce a decision on the deal, which envisages sending Tehran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad to be converted into nuclear fuel, within days.
Western powers have backed the deal as they suspect Tehran would process the uranium further on its own to higher purity levels and use it to make atomic weapons. Tehran denies the charge.
Kelly also indicated on Monday that EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana was in the process of trying to line up another meeting between the P5 plus one group and Iran.
"It's a matter of discussion between Mr Solana and the Iranian authorities, but nothing's been set in terms of follow-on meetings," he said.
The six powers held their first meeting in 15 months with Iran in Geneva earlier this month.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hOaSuvwcuadYVVKSA6vdYmDtVIyA
4. Japan Probes 1960s Nuclear Agreements With U.S.
The Wall Street Journal
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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates cautioned Japan this week against letting a fact-finding mission into decades-old secret nuclear-weapons agreements affect relations between the two countries, according to an official familiar with the matter.
In a meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa on Wednesday, Mr. Gates said Japan also should avoid letting the probe hurt the U.S.'s antinuclear-proliferation efforts, the official said. Mr. Kitazawa said the government would handle confidential information sensitively, said the official.
In April 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon, left, confers in his White House office with Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi of Japan.
Japan, the only nation that has endured nuclear attacks, forbids making, possessing and storing nuclear weapons on its soil. But under an understanding reached in the early 1960s, Japan agreed to look the other way when nuclear-armed U.S. ships used Japanese ports. A 1969 agreement allowed nuclear weapons to be stationed in emergency cases on U.S. bases on the island of Okinawa, after it was returned to Japanese control in 1972.
Many elements of the agreements have been disclosed previously. Both governments say the agreements no longer have teeth because nuclear-armed U.S. vessels no longer stop in Japan.
But Japan's new government, now controlled by the Democratic Party of Japan after August elections, has launched a fact-finding investigation to make the agreements public and show how they were kept secret.
"In the past, prime ministers and foreign ministers of this country repeatedly denied the existence of the secret agreements and that eroded the public's trust in the government's foreign policy," said Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.
Political analysts say the investigation is a largely symbolic move to show a change from governments run by the Liberal Democratic Party, which dominated Japanese politics for more than half a century, until last month.
"The DPJ wants to send a message to people that they have a new government with a different political style," said Norihiko Narita, president of Surugadai University and an informal political adviser to the DPJ.
The LDP said some secrecy was necessary. "Full disclosure of information on diplomatic negotiations doesn't necessarily guarantee the protection of national interest," the party's Policy Research Council said in a statement. "In conducting foreign policy, we always made our national interest and the well-being of our citizens the top priority, and disclosed what we could."
The investigation comes as the DPJ reviews Japan's overall foreign policy with a goal of giving Tokyo an equal role in its close bilateral ties with the U.S. Some experts say the probe seeks to discredit Japanese officials who had worked closely with Washington.
U.S. officials play down the potential impact of the investigation, saying the agreements are now out in the open and it is a domestic matter. "It is up to the Japanese government how they want to explore this," said Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs.
The investigation has created a buzz in Japan, where the secret agreements were long discussed but always officially denied. "I am very much looking forward to the DPJ showing us what we couldn't see before," said Masaaki Ota, a 42-year-old Tokyo flower-shop owner who supports the DPJ.
While the agreements have been something of an open secret in Japan, U.S. government documents concerning them have been gradually declassified for years. After the DPJ began the fact-finding mission, George Washington University Professor Robert Wampler posted online a package of relevant documents from university archives.
One 1969 memorandum by Jeanne Davis of the National Security Council to members of the Nixon administration discusses nuclear-weapons policy in Okinawa after the handover back to Japan. One option: "Japn [sic] now acquiesces in transit by naval vessels armed with nuclear weapons. This right would extend automatically to Okinawa. (This is sensitive and closely held information)."
Another 1969 memo, by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Alexis Johnson, describes an exchange with Japanese Foreign Minister Kiichi Aichi regarding the deployment and storage of nuclear weapons in Okinawa. "He said that [then Prime Minister Eisaku] Sato and we were, in event of renewal of hostilities in Korea, absolutely determined to implement this secret understanding and give full support to our actions in Korea," Ambassador Johnson quoted the foreign minister as saying.
Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125623748164901865.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
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