The disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June is raising questions about whether he defected and gave the West information on Iran's nuclear program.
Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday accused the United States of involvement in the disappearance of Shahram Amiri, who reportedly worked at a university linked to the elite Revolutionary Guard military corps.
In a sign of the sensitivities surrounding Amiri, Iranian officials have not even publicly identified him as a nuclear scientist, referring to him only as an Iranian citizen. Amiri's wife has said he was researching medical uses of nuclear technology at a university.
Amiri vanished several months before the September revelation of a uranium enrichment plant near Qom.
Available at: http://archive.gulfnews.com/region/Iran/10355769.html
2. IAEA Undertakes to Supply Nuclear Fuel for Tehran Reactor: MP
(for personal use only)
The International Atomic Energy Agency has undertaken to supply nuclear fuel to Iran for its Tehran nuclear reactor that produces isotopes for medical use, MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Tuesday.
“According to its commitment, the agency has to supply Iran’s required (nuclear) fuel, thus it has requested the U.S. and Russia to supply this fuel to Iran,” Boroujerdi, the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee chairman, told reporters in the parliament.
Experts from Iran and the IAEA are to meet in Vienna on October 18 to study Iran’s request for 20 percent enriched uranium for the Tehran nuclear reactor.
He noted that Iran’s uranium is enriched to about 3.5 to 5 percent.
Elsewhere in his interview, he said the meetings held between Iranian Foreign Ministry officials and the U.S. diplomats during the Geneva talks were related to Iran’s package of proposals and not to relations between the two countries.
However, he said that the U.S. is willing to hold talks with Iran and has expressed this view several times.
Negotiators from Iran and the six powers gathered in Geneva to discuss Iran’s updated package of proposals on Thursday.
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=204810
3. Russia Denies Claim About Iran's Nuclear Program
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A Russian security official has denied a report that Israel has presented evidence to Moscow that shows Russian experts are helping Iran develop a “nuclear weapon”.
Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia's national security council, declared on Tuesday that there are no intelligence reports to substantiate the claim.
Britain's Sunday Times, citing Russian and Israeli sources, had reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had shown Russian leaders the evidence during his mysterious visit to Moscow on September 7.
"At the moment, I do not know of any secret services or other agencies having given us information about our companies or individuals," AFP quoted Patrushev as saying.
Israel, which is the only player in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons, has repeatedly accused Iran of trying to develop a military nuclear program.
However, unlike Israel, Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has declared that its nuclear program will never be diverted to military objectives. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency has never found any evidence indicating that Iran's nuclear program has been diverted.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=108017§ionid=351020101
The United States and its allies may impose sweeping sanctions on Iran if Tehran fails to allay fears it is building nuclear weapons, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
Iran, however, dismissed the threat, saying previous sanctions against it had been ineffective and arguing that foreign companies recognized the benefit of trading with the oil-rich nation.
Stuart Levey, the U.S. Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told U.S. lawmakers that Washington was working to build as much international support as possible for a "comprehensive" plan of stronger sanctions.
"It (the U.S. strategy) takes into account that no single sanction is a 'silver bullet' -- we will need to impose measures simultaneously in many different forms in order to be effective," Levey told the Senate Banking Committee.
President Barack Obama has warned Iran to come clean about its nuclear program, which Washington fears is a cover to build atomic weapons, or face "sanctions that bite." Tehran says its program is designed only to produce electricity.
Iran last week agreed with six world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- to allow inspectors access to its newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.
Washington has had restrictions on U.S. business dealings with Iran for a long time. But the disclosure of the plant -- it is the second such facility acknowledged by Iran -- has prompted both Congress and the Obama administration to take a closer look at expanded sanctions in the standoff.
"Because financial measures are most effective when imposed as part of a broad-based effort with support of the largest possible international coalition, we are working closely with our allies as we put together this strategy," Levey said.
He was not specific about possible measures. Publicly, officials are reluctant to discuss the steps they are considering, wary of creating an impression that they view diplomacy as merely a smokescreen for eventual sanctions.
Iran's finance minister said U.S. sanctions and pressure on international banks to cut ties with Tehran have had little effect, as many foreign companies find trading with Tehran to be profitable.
"It's not necessary for us to circumvent the sanctions. Our partners will find a way to come forward," Shamseddin Hosseini told reporters on the sidelines of an International Monetary Fund and World Bank meeting in Istanbul.
"Therefore after many years of sanctions, Iran continues to progress to and do its business. There are many secure ways to do business."
The White House is being urged to consider a wide range of options, including choking off gasoline supplies. That approach is favored by Senate banking panel chairman Chris Dodd, who said he would move forward this month with legislation.
Hosseini said sanctions on refined petroleum products would have little effect on Iran's economy because it can increase domestic refinery output and reduce consumption.
U.S. officials are also looking at ways to discourage big financial firms from providing insurance for shipments to Iran. Senators also heard from two lawmakers who favor allowing U.S. pension funds to divest in companies that invest in Iran.
Trade groups, however, tend to favor multilateral actions, fearing tougher unilateral sanctions may hurt U.S. allies.
Some U.S. senators expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of existing sanctions on Iran and the possibility that the Obama administration would be rewarded for its policy of engaging Tehran in negotiations.
"Unfortunately, there is a long history of failed policies designed to reign in Iran," said Richard Shelby, a Republican.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who also testified, said the dangers posed by nuclear weapons were the reason why "nothing is off the table" in dealing with Tehran's nuclear program.
Steinberg also acknowledged that Iran's failure to publicly disclosed the underground enrichment plant near Qom until last month indicated there "might be" other such undisclosed installations in Iran.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN06429899
U.N. experts will inspect Iran's newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant on Oct. 25, the IAEA nuclear agency chief said on Sunday, praising a shift "from conspiracy to cooperation" between Tehran and the West.
The underground nuclear fuel facility near the holy Shi'ite city of Qom had been kept secret until Iran disclosed its existence last month, setting off an international furore.
Iran agreed with six world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- in Geneva on Thursday to allow IAEA inspectors unfettered access to the site.
"IAEA inspectors will visit Iran's new enrichment facility, under construction in Qom, on 25th of October," International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammed ElBaradei told a joint news conference with Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi.
"It is important for us to have comprehensive cooperation over the Qom site ... It is important for us to send our inspectors to assure ourselves that this facility is for peaceful purposes."
The West suspects the Islamic state is covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies it.
U.S. National Security adviser James Jones said Iran did not appear to be closer to having a nuclear weapon. The New York Times said on Saturday that an IAEA report had concluded Iran has sufficient information to produce a bomb.
Jones said it was significant that Iran had agreed to inspections of the new uranium enrichment site near Qom.
"We now have an Iran that is willing to come to the table," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation" program.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran's cooperation with the IAEA had left no "vagueness" about its nuclear work.
"There are no ambiguous issues remaining because of Iran's good cooperation with the agency," Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with ElBaradei, state radio reported.
The IAEA says Iran needs to clarify some issues such as alleged studies by Iran on high explosives and a missile delivery system for a nuclear warhead.
ElBaradei said the IAEA and Iran disagreed over the timing of the disclosure of the pilot enrichment plant.
"Iran should have informed the IAEA the day they had decided to construct the facility," he told the news conference, referring to an IAEA transparency statute that was tightened in 1992 to require immediate notification of planned nuclear sites.
Previously a state had to alert the IAEA of a new site just six months before introducing nuclear materials into it.
Salehi rejected this, saying: "Ever since the unfair entry of the U.N. Security Council into Iran's nuclear dossier, we reverted to the old arrangement in protest at U.N. sanctions."
Salehi will discuss details of the inspection with the IAEA in Vienna on Oct. 19, ElBaradei said.
Iran has said the site, which has space for about 3,000 centrifuges, is about 18 months away from going on line.
Last Thursday's talks in Geneva are expected to win Iran a reprieve from tougher U.N. sanctions, although Western powers are likely to be wary of any attempt by Tehran to buy time to develop its nuclear program.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said the outcome of the Geneva talks was "agreement over the manner of continuing talks with six powers," the Abrar daily reported.
ElBaradei said that remaining differences could be resolved through diplomacy. "The relation between Iran and the world powers is shifting from conspiracy to transparency and cooperation," he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama has described the talks as a constructive beginning but warned that Tehran must do more to prove that it would not use its nuclear programme to produce atomic bombs.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Sunday that there was a small opening in the dialogue between Iran and the international community even if the country must answer questions over its suspected nuclear ambitions. "We are ready to no longer speak about sanctions, but we need to discuss what we call the heart of the matter, that is to say is this uranium enrichment dangerous or not?," Kouchner told RTL radio and LCI television.
Several U.S. lawmakers called on Sunday for new sanctions against Iran in the wake of the New York Times report.
"We've been lied to enough by Iran. I would hope that the President would go ahead and impose sanctions," Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia told the "Fox News Sunday" program.
But ElBaradei said there was no "concrete proof" that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons capability, adding that the IAEA remained concerned over the possibility.
Western officials said Iran had agreed "in principle" in Thursday's meeting to ship out most of its enriched uranium for reprocessing in Russia and France. It would then be returned to power a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-42898820091005
6. Iran Says No Change in Nuclear Stance After Geneva Talks
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There has been no change in the Iranian nuclear stance and the issue was not raised in the Geneva talks with the world powers, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Monday. "We have not raised anything about our right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology in the Geneva talks," the spokesman said.
Ghashghavi said the Geneva meeting addressed Tehran's proposal dealing with general global issues, but not the Iranian nuclear programme.
The spokesman said agreements reached on inspecting the new uranium enrichment plant south of Tehran on October 25, and a meeting in Vienna on October 19 on enriched uranium exchange were coordinated solely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran has painted the results of the Geneva talks and the visit by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to Tehran as Western acknowledgement of its right to pursue civil nuclear technology, including enrichment.
State television on Monday quoted Iran's atomic chief Ali-Akbar Salehi as saying that both inspection of the new site and exchange of uranium were covered under an agreement between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog.
Salehi said he would go to Vienna on October 19 to discuss with the US, Russia and France the new Iranian initiative to enricht 3.5-per-cent-enriched uranium from the Natanz plant in central Iran to 20 per cent through foreign countries.
The 20-per-cent-enriched uranium is supposed to be used for the Tehran reactor, which is a basic research reactor producing medical isotopes.
Salehi said he hoped ElBaradei's November report on Iran would normalize the Iranian nuclear dossier.
Iran has several times demanded a return of its dossier from the UN Security Council in New York to Vienna, as well as the end to financial sanctions against the Islamic state for having defied UN resolutions on suspending uranium enrichment.
During a two-day visit to Tehran, ElBaradei urged Tehran to implement the IAEA Additional Protocol which would enable the UN agency to make unannounced inspections of Iran's nuclear sites.
According to the IAEA chief, that would increase international trust towards the Iranian nuclear programme.
Tehran has signalled that would consider implementing the protocol if the Iranian dossier was returned to the IAEA and sanctions lifted.
The West suspects Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. The IAEA has repeatedly asked Iran to clarify open issues in its nuclear dossier, also regarding possible weaponization studies.
Available at: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/288722,iran-says-no-change-in-nuclear-stance-after-geneva-talks.html
Iran, praised by the UN atomic watchdog chief for deciding to cooperate with world powers over its nuclear programme, said on Monday it will head with a "positive" approach into the next round of talks later this month.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi reiterated at a news conference that the Iranian nuclear programme was peaceful in purpose and dismissed Western demands that Tehran offer guarantees to this effect.
Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States are to meet again on October 19 for more discussions on Tehran's nuclear programme after talks last week in Geneva, the first in 15 months.
Ghashghavi said he was not in a position to make a "judgment" about how the next round of talks would proceed, but he said that Tehran "was going forward with this positive approach."
"We think it is constructive because the fact is that the negotiations are going forward," he said. "Its continuation shows that there is material to talk about in the future. We see no reason to be pessimistic."
Iran tentatively agreed in Geneva to ship some of its stocks of low enriched uranium abroad for processing into fuel for an internationally supervised research reactor in Tehran.
Ghashghavi stressed that Iran had the capability to enrich the uranium to the required 20 percent purity itself but had chosen to look to others to carry out the sensitive work.
"We will discuss the mechanism with other parties willing to provide the enriched fuel on October 19," he said.
On Mohamed ElBaradei's weekend visit to Tehran, Ghashghavi said the outgoing UN atomic chief had "praised Iran's cooperation" over the nuclear file.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head flew in to the Iranian capital on Saturday to work out the procedures for UN inspections of Iran's newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.
After a series of meetings with Iranian officials, ElBaradei told reporters on Sunday that UN experts would visit the site on October 25.
He also said that the controversy over Iran's nuclear programme can be solved through dialogue. "At present we are shifting from confrontation to cooperation and I am asking Iran to continue its transparency," ElBaradei said.
"We are now on an appropriate path. The agency and the international community and Iran have started constructive talks."
The disclosure by Tehran prior to last week's Geneva talks that it is building a second nuclear enrichment plant inside a mountain at Qom triggered worldwide outrage.
Late on Sunday, Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran would install its "domestically built new generation centrifuges" in the Qom plant, but did not offer details on the type of centrifuges -- the device that rotates at supersonic speed to enrich uranium.
Salehi also said that the UN inspection on October 25 was of a "routine" nature, adding that the IAEA was under pressure from some world powers. "One cannot rule out the pressures of some powers on the IAEA," he said.
Ghashghavi was adamant on Monday that Iran's nuclear programme was purely for peaceful purposes.
"There is no military diversion in our nuclear activities. How can we prove the non-existence of something?" he asked. "Such issue cannot be proved. There is no nuclear weapon" in Iran.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hiBKnv6ahDBA4ftpN3QkJrxJcXAA
8. Israel Names Russians Helping Iran Build Nuclear Bomb
Uzi Mahanimi, Mark Franchetti, and Jon Swain
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Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has handed the Kremlin a list of Russian scientists believed by the Israelis to be helping Iran to develop a nuclear warhead. He is said to have delivered the list during a mysterious visit to Moscow.
Netanyahu flew to the Russian capital with Uzi Arad, his national security adviser, last month in a private jet.
His office claimed he was in Israel, visiting a secret military establishment at the time. It later emerged that he was holding talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and President Dmitry Medvedev.
“We have heard that Netanyahu came with a list and concrete evidence showing that Russians are helping the Iranians to develop a bomb,” said a source close to the Russian defence minister last week.
“That is why it was kept secret. The point is not to embarrass Moscow, rather to spur it into action.”
Israeli sources said it was a short, tense meeting at which Netanyahu named the Russian experts said to be assisting Iran in its nuclear programme.
In western capitals the latest claims were treated with caution. American and British officials argued that the involvement of freelance Russian scientists belonged to the past.
American officials said concern about Russian experts acting without official approval, had been raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a report more than a year ago.
“There has been Russian help. It is not the government, it is individuals, at least one helping Iran on weaponisation activities and it is worrisome,” said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
However, Israeli officials insist that any Russian scientists working in Iran could do so only with official approval.
Robert Einhorn, the special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is understood to believe that Russian companies have also supplied material that has been used by Iran in the production of ballistic missiles.
The disclosures came as Iran agreed at talks in Geneva to submit to IAEA inspections of its newly disclosed enrichment plant, which is being built under a mountain on a military base at Qom. Iran revealed the plant to the IAEA to pre-empt being caught out by an imminent announcement from western governments, which had discovered its existence.
The West says the plant is tailor-made for a secret weapons programme and proves Iran’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended only for peaceful purposes is a lie. The plant is designed to hold 3,000 centrifuges — enough to produce the material needed for one bomb a year.
Iran’s conduct over the next few weeks will determine whether the West continues its new dialogue or is compelled to increase pressure with tougher United Nations and other sanctions.
Ephraim Sneh, a former Israeli deputy defence minister, warned that time was running out for action to stop the programme. “If no crippling sanctions are introduced by Christmas, Israel will strike,” he said. “If we are left alone, we will act alone.”
A key test for the West will be whether Iran allows IAEA inspectors unfettered access to the Qom plant. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, was in Tehran this weekend to discuss this and Iran’s agreement, in principle, to ship most of its current stocks of low-enriched uranium to Russia so it can be used in medical research. President Barack Obama has told Iran he wants to see concrete results within two weeks.
While there is consensus in the West that Iran is trying to acquire the capability to build a weapon, the progress of its weaponisation programme is a matter of fierce debate among intelligence agencies.
The Americans believe secret work to develop a nuclear warhead stopped in 2003. British, French and German intelligence believe it was either continuing or has restarted. The Israelis believe the Iranians have “cold-tested” a nuclear warhead, without fissile material, for its Shahab-3B and Sejjil-2 rockets at Parchin, a top-secret military complex southeast of Tehran.
The vast site is officially dedicated to the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and explosives. Satellite imagery as early as 2003 has shown Parchin to be suitable for research into the development of a nuclear weapon, say western experts.
The Shahab-3B, which the Iranians test-fired last Monday, is capable of carrying a 2,200lb warhead. Its 1,250-mile range puts parts of Europe, Israel and US bases in the Middle East within its reach.
According to the Israelis, Russian scientists may have been responsible for the nuclear warhead design. But western experts have also pointed the finger at North Korea.
Available at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6860161.ece
1. North Korea Not Near Restoring Nuclear Plant-South
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South Korea's foreign minister said on Thursday there were no signs that the North was in the final stages of restoring an ageing nuclear plant, knocking down a report that operations could soon resume at the facility.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency on Tuesday quoted a government source as saying Pyongyang was in the final stages of restoring the Yongbyon complex, which when fully operational, can produce enough material for one nuclear bomb a year.
"What we know is that they are not yet at that kind of stage," Yu Myung-hwan said when asked whether the North was about to restore the five-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which is the secretive state's primary source of weapons-grade plutonium.
In 2007, North Korea began taking apart the Soviet-era facility that includes the reactor, a fuel fabrication plant and a plutonium separation facility under a six-way deal in return for aid and better global standing.
It said earlier this year it had resumed the part of the plant used to separate plutonium from spent nuclear fuel in anger at being punished by the United Nations for a long-range rocket launch widely seen as a disguised missile test.
On Tuesday, Pyongyang signalled it could return to the dormant disarmament-for-aid talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States that Pyongyang had declared dead six months ago.
Yu said that Pyongyang would still be subject to U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed after its nuclear test in May even if it returns to the nuclear disarmament talks.
"It is the position of not only South Korea and the United States but also Japan, Russia and China that sanctions cannot be lifted or suspended just because the North returns to dialogue," Yu said.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on a visit to Pyongyang he first wanted talks with Washington. The North sees such talks as key to ending its status as a global pariah that it argues gives it no choice but to have a nuclear arsenal.
Kim's comment came as Wen unveiled a massive package of aid and development projects for the North.
Yu said he did not believe the economic package from China, the North's biggest benefactor, was in violation of the Security Council resolutions.
Available at: http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/6185680/north-korea-not-near-restoring-nuclear-plant-south/
2. French Envoy Calls for Substantial Nuclear Talks
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France's recently appointed special envoy on North Korea said Wednesday there should be "real and concrete discussions" if international talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programs resume.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told the visiting Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, on Monday that Pyongyang is willing to rejoin six-nation nuclear talks depending on progress in its negotiations with the U.S., according to Chinese and North Korean official media.
That raised hope for North Korea's possible return to the talks, from which it withdrew after conducting a rocket test in April and a second nuclear test in May. The regime said earlier it would never return to the talks involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.
Jack Lang, the French envoy on North Korea who was appointed by President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, has been on a tour of the six nations involved in the negotiations to evaluate ways France can help end the nuclear standoff.
Lang, who arrived in Seoul on Tuesday from Japan, said there should be "real and concrete discussions" if North Korea comes back to the negotiating table.
"We hope that it will be not only the opening of discussions, but it will be the way to change completely the situation," Lang told reporters after meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.
Lang said he plans to visit North Korea around Nov. 10.
China said it welcomed North Korea's offer to return to the nuclear talks, saying late Tuesday that the six-party talks are the best way to achieve a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and they should resume as soon as possible.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Washington was aware of reports that North Korea would reconsider opening talks but said the United States had not gotten details of the meeting from the Chinese.
North Korea has been moderating its tone in recent weeks, signaling its willingness to resume a dialogue with the United States, China and other partners and backing away from the provocative behavior and rhetoric of the spring.
The North agreed in 2007 to disable its nuclear facilities in return for international aid. In June last year, the North blew up the cooling tower at its main nuclear complex near Pyongyang in show of its commitment. But the denuclearization came to a halt later in 2008 as Pyongyang wrangled with Washington over how to verify its past activities.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iURO8fOyWVOA0ytFlaAGuC9F7R9wD9B64QEO0
3. North Korea Says Dismantling Its Nuclear Weapons ‘Unthinkable’
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North Korea said dismantling the regime’s nuclear weapons is “unthinkable even in a dream,” while signaling a readiness to return to disarmament talks with the U.S., China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.
The government in Pyongyang won’t give up its nuclear weapons unless the U.S. completely disarms, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry sent in a letter to the United Nations Security Council by North Korean Ambassador Sin Son Ho. The statement describes as “unimaginable” any reversal of North Korea’s 2003 withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The letter, dated Oct. 1, was released amid a report by the Korean Central News Agency that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il yesterday told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that his nation was conditionally prepared to return to the six-party talks.
North Korea said in April that it was abandoning the talks for good after the UN Security Council condemned the country for launching a missile over Japan. The country also tested a nuclear weapon. The U.S. said last month it would consent to direct discussions with Kim’s regime as part of the larger disarmament talks.
The North Korean statement also “totally rejects” the U.S.-drafted resolution on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament adopted on Sept. 24 with President Barack Obama presiding over a special session of the Security Council. Obama won unanimous adoption of a measure to curb the spread and testing of nuclear arms and move toward total disarmament.
The resolution is “peppered with the hegemonic ambitions of nuclear powers,” the statement said.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aJS46gmAKirs
North Korea says it is prepared to return to six-party talks on its nuclear programme as long as the US agrees to bilateral meetings first to improve “hostile relations” between the two countries.
Leader Kim Jong Il made the commitment after speaking with the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Monday. The move came as South Korea announced its Communist neighbour appeared to be preparing to reopen plutonium-producing plants that it shut before walking out of the six-party talks in April.
Face saving gesture
Analysts are cautiously optimistic about today’s development, but some have dismissed it as a “face saving” gesture designed to maintain its strong relationship with neighbouring China. Paul Ingram, executive director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) told Radio Netherlands:
“It’s very unpredictable as to how things will proceed in the future but it does appear that the Obama administration is prepared to play a negotiating game with the North Koreans…. So there is more hope as a result of this week’s developments but it can’t be said with any certainty that they’ll be able to move forward smoothly.”
Talks began in 2003
Talks between North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the US began in 2003 and the group reached deals in 2005 and 2007 under which North Korea shut down plants and began disabling them.
It quit the forum in April after the United Nations condemned its launch of a long-range rocket. In May it staged a second nuclear test which resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the UN.
The US says it wants to restart negotiations but will only do so with the aim of convincing Kim Jong-Il to completely end its nuclear programme. One positive sign is a planned visit by special US negotiator Stephen Bosworth later this month.
No immediate shutdown
But Paul Ingram says there is little likelihood Pyongyang will shut down all its nuclear operations in the near future:
“I don’t think the current regime in North Korea will give up its nuclear arsenal irreversibly until it can be more confident in its dealings with the international community and its own stability or if there is a regime change.”
Available at: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/north-korea-set-return-nuclear-talks
1. India's Nuclear Power Corp targets 63,000 MW by 2032
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With India having recently approved eight sites for new nuclear power plants, the state-run Nuclear Power Corp has set itself a target of 63,000 MW of atomic energy over the next 25 years, its top official has said.
"By 2032, we will be able to generate 63,000 MW of power. This will be done with a mixture of indigenous technology and foreign collaboration," S.K. Jain, chairman of the energy major, told IANS in an interview.
In the short term, Jain said he was looking forward to necessary approvals for the fifth and the sixth units of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station so that they can start functioning by January next year.
"I am hoping that if I get clearance from the International Atomic Energy Agency this month, then the fifth unit in Rajasthan will start operating at 100 percent power by early November and the sixth by January," he added.
Both the units will come under the agency's India-specific safeguards that will allow it to qualify for imported fuel. Besides, the indigenously developed prototype fast breeder reactor, under a three-phase project, is also under construction.
The government recently approved 15 new atomic energy plants at eight sites, which include four allocated for French, American and Russian companies.
These sites are Kumharia in Haryana, Kakrapar and Chchaya in Gujarat, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, Haripur in West Bengal, Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
These units will account for an additional generation of over 50,000 MW of power and add to the current installed capacity is 4,120 MW from 17 plants, the official said.
While France's Areva will build a 1,650-MW unit at Jaitapur, the Russians will get land in West Bengal for another project. Two American firms, General Electric and Westinghouse, are to be give land in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
During the interview, Jain ruled out majority foreign equity in nuclear plants in India and said the first phase of expansion after the India-US nuclear deal will be achieved by way of overseas collaborations with Indian public sector undertakings.
The Nuclear Power Corp recently signed agreements with three state-run companies, namely, the Indian Oil Corp, National Aluminium Co and NTPC, formerly called the National Thermal Power Corp.
Jain said two units at Kudankulam would be commissioned by next year, where the Russians were providing the technical cooperation. Work on the third and fourth units at Kudankulam, also with Russian help, is likely to start by year-end.
"We have got all the statutory clearances. After agreement at company level, it has to go to the cabinet. I hope that by the year end, the construction should start," Jain said.
Two months later, Areva's power plant in Maharashtra should also be able get the necessary approvals to start work on the ground, he added.
According to the company official, a major challenge has been cost-effective generation of power and the average tariff from nuclear plants, also called pooled tariff, was Rs. 2.28 per unit for the previous financial year.
"Kudankulam power cost will be very near the pooled tariff."
Jain said his company was also sitting on a mound of cash. "We are now Rs.30,000 crore ($6 billion) cash-surplus. For 10,000 MW to 12,000 MW, I don't need money from the government. I also enjoy a "Triple A" credit rating."
The real challenge, he said, is of consistent fuel supply, ramping up the supply chain and human resources. "We are looking for long-term agreements on services for fuel fabrication. We are also looking at stakes in Uranium mines abroad."
Available at: http://www.newkerala.com/nkfullnews-1-126920.html
2. The Reality is That India Will Remain Outside the NPT
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Nuclear weapon states must recognize the inextricable link between nonproliferation and disarmament, says IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
In the second and concluding part of his interview to The Hindu, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei speaks about the prospects for nuclear disarmament and the logic behind the international community’s decision to lift restrictions on nuclear sales to India.
The recent U.N. Security Council resolution on nonproliferation (UNSCR 1887) is being seen as a new commitment by the nuclear weapons states (NWS) to disarm. But while the text talks of ridding the world of nuclear weapons, it is short on the specific steps needed to get there — like no first use, and a Convention prohibiting the use of such weapons. In your opinion, how genuine a step forward is it?
I think there is definitely a new environment that dawned with President Obama coming to power. He has made it clear that his major commitment is to see that we start working towards a world free of nuclear weapons. This is a new environment, but it is coming after two wasted decades when the NWS made no significant effort to move towards nuclear disarmament in fulfilment of their [commitment] under the NPT.
There are obviously still a lot of questions, different approaches. I am not sure all the weapon states have the same view of how to go about it. You are right, how exactly we go about it is not yet [clear]. Do we start with a convention, with no first use, or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT)? There are lots of different approaches. And of course, each NWS sees things from its own strategic perspective. But one this is clear. The U.S. and Russia, which have 95 per cent of the nuclear weapons in the world, have committed to slash their arsenal by at least a third and hopefully that will come before December, before the START treaty lapses. There is also an agreement that the FMCT will be negotiated in Geneva. There is a commitment by Obama that he will take the CTBT to Congress for ratification, and again the hope that once the Americans join or ratify, the rest of the world will follow. All this would be a significant step in the right direction. That’s not the end of the road by any chance. There are a lot of confidence-building measures no first-use is one. I think a Convention will obviously come at the end, when we are really clear what kind of security system we will have. That remains a major challenge. We can still go to hundreds of weapons, but once we decide to go to zero, we have to have in place a new security system that assures every country its security is not diminished, that it is protected and that it has built in a very strong mechanism for detecting and deterring any country that might think of violating that. That’s why I continue to argue that we need to start working on that alternative security system in parallel now. That obviously requires a different Security Council, a different security paradigm, a very robust verification system, a very transparent international community in so far as making sure they are in full compliance. It is a lot of work. But hopefully the new resolution ushers in a new era. How fast we go, how committed the weapons states are we will have to see in the next few months.
The NPT’s core bargain was that the NWS are obliged to disarm. Yet, the latest resolution seems to present that obligation as a trade-off for the non-nuclear states conceding even more. Do you think they will succeed in this?
I don’t think they can. Quite frankly, the NNWS are also alert, are aware of the bargain that was struck in the NPT. The fact that the NWS did not really make good on their commitment by significantly moving to nuclear disarmament does not mean we need to have a new bargain. The bargain is there. They have to accelerate the implementation of their commitment. It has to be a parallel process. I don’t think the NNWS will move forward very much to tighten the nonproliferation regime except in sync with the NWS making good on their commitments. Only if the weapon states demonstrate that they are moving irreversibly towards disarmament through concrete [steps] can they have the moral authority to call on the rest of the world to tighten the nonproliferation regime. The shortcomings in the system will not be [remedied] unless the NWS understand the inextricable link between disarmament and non-proliferation.
As a strong backer of the India-U.S. nuclear agreement and the exception India won from some of the restrictions of the nonproliferation regime last year, do you feel there is a disconnect between the IAEA and NSG decisions on India and the latest U.N. resolution which essentially calls on India to sign the NPT?
I am not sure there is a disconnect. There are three countries outside the NPT. In the Middle East, Israel is the only country with nuclear weapons, the rest are all in the NPT, and there is a perception of security imbalance there. India and Pakistan are different because both possess nuclear weapons and there is a balance of power if you like. There are countries very insistent that Israel should join the NPT and there is lot of frustration in the Middle East as the result of what they perceive to be a security imbalance. Now, whether the UNSC language was targeting the three or just the one, in reality I don’t see them joining the NPT any time soon. India and Pakistan have said a number of times that they can only come into the arms control system in the context of global nuclear arms control agreement. And as much as the region wants Israel to join NPT, I can see the realistic possibility of that happening [only] in the context of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East and the context of peace and security.
So as DG, IAEA, your stand would be that this resolution really has no bearing on the obligations that India and IAEA have entered into.
I believe so. These are two different things. The India-U.S. deal did not make any judgment nor has the IAEA made any judgment they neither blessed nor condemned India being outside the NPT or having nuclear weapons. They accepted as a reality for the time being that India is outside the NPT and has its military nuclear component but the deal in my view has been much more forward looking, much more strategic ... It brought India as a partner in the whole nuclear order, and was the only way to bring India on board in preparation for nuclear disarmament — you cannot think of nuclear arms control agreement without India being part of it. The agreement also does not add or diminish from the fact that India has military components for its programme but it focuses on how much this nuclear trade will help India’s development and energy needs. And I am very glad the NSG accepted this and India has already started to make use of this, signing agreements with Russia, France, Namibia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
And, of course, India is also looking at nuclear exports.
Yes, looking at India’s fantastic base of scientists, R&D in the nuclear field, India could be a hub for support to all developing countries that are looking for nuclear power for development.
Do you think at some point in the future, once Pakistan allays the international community’s concerns about its proliferation record, the world may have to find some way of bringing Pakistan in to the regime?
Pakistan has been frustrated that India got a nuclear deal while it did not and in the beginning they were opposed to it. My advice to them was that you really need to support the deal because it creates a good precedent for you, that once you put your nuclear activities in order — particularly in the aftermath of the AQ Khan network and all that — you should be able to get a similar deal and I would support a similar deal for Pakistan under appropriate circumstances because again Pakistan needs energy. Sometimes, the international community needs to be pragmatic. It is ideal that we have the NPT universalised but we know this won’t happen. These three countries have a complex security perception and we should not just stick to ideology but see how pragmatically we can move step by step.
Available at: http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/article30065.ece
1. ElBaradei: We Made Little Progress on Denuclearization
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The UN nuclear watchdog Chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, says regional and global stability can only be achieved through total nuclear disarmament.
"I have always taken the view that the world would only be safe when we have a world free from nuclear weapons," ElBaradei said in a joint press conference with the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi in Tehran on Sunday.
ElBaradei, who was responding to a question by Press TV's reporter Gisoo Misha Ahmadi added: "The region of the Middle East can only see regional stability and regional security when it is established as a nuclear weapon free-zone."
The head of UN nuclear watchdog acknowledged that denuclearization is a goal on which the International Atomic Energy Agency had made little progress.
"Unfortunately on… Middle East free from nuclear weapons we haven't made much progress there is still a major difference between Israel on the one side and Arab countries and Iran on the other side."
Israel-- which has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year-old history-- is the region's sole nuclear-armed power with what is believed to be an arsenal of over 200 ready-to-launch atomic warheads. It is also one of the only three regimes in the world that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The IAEA director-general claimed, however, that Tel Aviv agrees "the long-term goal of a nuclear free zone in the Middle East."
"I hope we should be able to make progress in the near term because there is no stability in my view, there is no enduring security in the Middle East without having the Middle East free from all inhumane weapons, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons biological weapons," he said.
ElBaradei also commented on the future of global disarmament and criticized nuclear armed states for maintaining their nuclear stockpiles.
"On a world free from nuclear weapons unfortunately the weapons states did not really make good on their commitment for 30 years under the NPT," ElBaradei said.
However, he did say that the new US administration's approach towards disarmament has given him "a glimmer of hope that we are on the right track".
"Recently [US President] Barack Obama has taken an initiative for the world to complete concrete steps towards a world free from nuclear weapons.
"They are negotiating now, the US and Russia negotiating an agreement to cut their nuclear arsenal to one third by the end of the year…. We should focus on abolishing this nuclear weapon not only in one region but in the entire globe."
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=107804§ionid=351020104
1. Germany's Atomic Energy Phase-Out: Nuclear Poker Heats Up in Berlin
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It seems a foregone conclusion that Berlin will back away from the nuclear energy phase-out legislated in 2002. But with power companies set to profit handsomely, the bluffing has begun.
With the best election-day result in their history behind them, Germany's business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) promised tough negotiations as coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives begin on Monday.
But another set of negotiations on the horizon promises to be even tougher. Both the FDP and Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) have expressed a desire to revisit a 2002 law which calls for Germany's nuclear reactors to be taken offline by the beginning of the 2020s. The new government would like to extend the deadline, a move that could generate as much as €60 billion in extra profits for Germany's three largest energy companies. The question, though, is what E.on, RWE and EnBW will offer in return. Indeed, politicians from both parties over the weekend seemed eager to counter concerns that Germany's energy branch was in for a huge windfall. Andreas Pinkwart, a leading FDP politician, even said that his party could imagine backing away from an extension of reactor lifetimes.
"Should the energy companies not accept our conditions, then the current phase-out plans will not be changed," Pinkwart told SPIEGEL in the issue which hit newsstands on Sunday.
Volker Kauder, CDU floor leader in the Bundestag, Germany's parliament, also reiterated demands for the energy companies to forego much of the additional profit that could fall to them. He told the German public television station ARD on Sunday that up to €50 billion could be generated for the promotion of renewable energies.
Both were referring to preliminary plans that would see Germany's energy giants paying billions into an alternative energy fund should reactor lifetimes be extended.
The German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) also got into the act on Monday by demanding that, should reactor lifetimes be extended, that energy prices be cut across the board. "The best thing would be if the additional revenues were passed directly on to the consumer in the form of price cuts," IHK President Hans Heinrich Driftmann told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung in an interview printed on Monday.
Germany legislated the phase out of nuclear energy in 2002 when Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was still at the helm together with his coalition partners, the Greens. Schröder lost the 2005 election to Merkel, but his Social Democrats (SPD) carried on in government as Merkel's junior coalition partner, making the phase-out untouchable. The SPD collapse in elections a week ago, though, has opened the door to those within Merkel's party and inside the FDP who would like reactor lifetimes extended.
The issue, though, remains a controversial one. Some 60 percent of Germans are in favor of the phase out, according to a recent survey carried out by Emnid.
Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,653302,00.html
2. UAE Aims For First Gulf Nuclear Reactor in 2017
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The United Arab Emirates aims to have a nuclear reactor -- the first in the Gulf Arab states -- in commercial operation in 2017 as part of a $40 billion atomic energy program, a top official said on Sunday.
"Today we are in the advanced stage of evaluation before moving into the implementation stage and so far it is positive," Hamad Al Kaabi, the Gulf Arab state's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters.
"Plans are on track for the first reactor to be commercially operational in 2017," Kaabi said.
He said the world's third-largest oil producer had also set up a Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation, with former IAEA technical adviser William Travers as director-general, to promote safety, security and radiological protection.
The UAE has already pledged to buy the fuel it needs, in order to avoid having to carry out its own enrichment of uranium, the fuel for nuclear power plants, which if further refined can be used to make bombs.
Western concerns about diversion of enriched uranium for possible bomb-making are at the heart of an international dispute over Iran's nuclear program. Iran, across the Gulf from the UAE, denies pursuing atomic weapons.
Record oil revenues have driven an economic boom that has strained domestic power grids in the UAE. To keep the export cash coming in, Abu Dhabi is looking to nuclear energy to help cap fuel burned for power at home.
The UAE anticipates its electricity needs will rise to 40 gigawatts in 2020 from 15.5 GW in 2008, the Eurasia Group consultancy said.
The planned facility will likely provide about 3 percent of power supply to the domestic market by 2020 with the start-up of about 1 GW of nuclear power, rising to about 15 percent by 2025, consultancy Wood Mackenzie said.
Kaabi declined to provide details on when contracts would be awarded or how many reactors would be built, saying this came under the purview of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC), the body responsible for building the plant.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE5932HF20091004
3. Myanmar Says Nuclear Ambitions Are Peaceful - Japan
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Japan said on Saturday it had been assured by military-ruled Myanmar that it was not developing nuclear weapons even though it was working with Russia on a nuclear energy programme.
Myanmar has remained tight-lipped about its nuclear plans, despite speculation it has been receiving help from North Korea to build nuclear facilities near its remote capital with the intent of developing a weapon.
Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win told his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada that his country was seeking Russia's expertise, but only in developing a peaceful energy programme for its people.
"(Nyan Win) told Japan's foreign minister that Myanmar has no intention to have a nuclear weapon," Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama told reporters on the sidelines of a Mekong-Japan ministerial meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
"Myanmar has conducted a consultation to have assistance from Russia for a peaceful use of nuclear energy."
Kazuo did not say if the issue of any nuclear links with North Korea was discussed.
Academic researchers said in August Myanmar was building a secret nuclear reactor and plutonium facility in caves tunnelled into a mountain, citing intelligence from two defectors.
The defectors also said Myanmar, which has known reserves of uranium ore, had provided refined "yellowcake" processed uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel to Iran and North Korea.
The isolated country has been under Western sanctions for two decades and analysts say a nuclearised Myanmar could trigger an arms race in the region.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a security forum in Thailand in July that she was concerned about the possible transfer of nuclear technology to Myanmar from North Korea.
In reference to ties between North Korea and Myanmar, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, said there were "some signs that that cooperation has extended into areas that would be prohibited".
However, many analysts have said evidence of attempts to develop nuclear weapons is scant and have questioned the reliability of the defectors' information.
Available at: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/10/4/worldupdates/2009-10-03T201921Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_-428901-1&sec=Worldupdates
4. Lithuania to Build New Nuclear Power Plant, Seeks European Investors
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Lithuania is seeking European investors to underwrite construction of a new nuclear power plant.
The Baltijos Naujienos Akcijos news agency reported Thursday that Visagino Atomine Elektrine (Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant) head Sarunas Vasiliauskas said, "One of our conclusions is that a strategic investor is needed to implement the project, it could not be implemented without such an investor. An assessment of who could be that investor has been made. The main principle is that such projects are long-running and risky, hence the strategic investors could be large energy companies that could guarantee loans with their assets. Such companies are only present in the European Union."
Among the companies under consideration are Britain's Centrica PLC, Germany's Rheinisch-Westfalisches Elektrizitatswerk AG (RWE), Electricite de France, Germany's E.ON AG energy corporation, the Czech Republic's Ceske energeticke zavody (CEZ), Finland's Fortum Oyj, Italy's Ente Nazionale per l'Energia elettrica (ENEL), France's GDF Suez, Sweden's Vattenfall, U.S. company Duke Energy, Japan's Toshiba, France's Areva and Spain's Iberdrola.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2009/10/02/Lithuania-to-build-new-nuclear-power-plant-seeks-European-investors/UPI-54491254515404/
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