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Nuclear News - 11/10/2009
PGS Nuclear News, November 10, 2009
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran’s First Priority is Buying Uranium for Tehran Reactor, Tehran Times  (11/9/2009)
    2. Ahmadinejad Seeks Dialogue on Nuclear Issue, PressTV (11/9/2009)
    3. Obama: Hard for Iran to Make Quick Decisions, Caren Bohan and Ross Colvin, Reuters (11/9/2009)
    4. Clinton Says Nuclear Race Not in Iran's Interest, AFP (11/9/2009)
    5. Iran: ElBaradei's Turkey Plan Was Rejected Before, PressTV (11/8/2009)
    6. Iran's Jalili Wants Nuclear Enrichment Deal 'Quickly', AFP (11/8/2009)
    7. Israel Says Threat of Attack on Iran, No Bluff, PressTV (11/8/2009)
    1. North Korean Leader Afraid His Country 'Might Become Like Iraq', The Chosun Ilbo (11/10/2009)
    2. US to Send Envoy to North Korea for Nuclear Talks, Associated Press (11/9/2009)
    3. France's North Korea Envoy in Pyongyang, AFP (11/9/2009)
C.  Pakistan
    1. Pakistan's Army Rejects U.S. Journalist's Nuclear Remarks, Xinhua News Agency (11/9/2009)
D.  Nonproliferation
    1. Medvedev: Arms Control Deal with US Can Be Reached, Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press (11/8/2009)
    2. Iran, North Korea Top Clinton's Overseas Agenda, Matthew Lee, Associated Press (11/8/2009)
    3. Germans Press for Removal of US Nuclear Weapons in Europe, Julian Borger, The Guardian (11/6/2009)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Ten Nuclear Stations to Be Built in Bid to Prevent Energy Shortage, Robin Pagnamenta, The Times  (11/10/2009)
    2. Power for U.S. From Russia’s Old Nuclear Weapons, Andrew E. Kramer, The New York Times (11/9/2009)
    3. Britain’s Nuclear Strategy May Cause Destruction of Kalahari Desert, Thaindian News (11/9/2009)
    4. Kenya Plans Nuclear Plant in Five Years, The Peninsula (11/8/2009)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Defending the Arsenal, Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker (11/9/2009)
    2. Swiss Open Probe of al-Qaida Nuke Physicist Case, Balz Bruppacher and Alexander G. Higgins, Associated Press (11/9/2009)
    3. Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons, Reuters (11/8/2009)

A.  Iran

Ahmadinejad Seeks Dialogue on Nuclear Issue
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran has proposed that it purchase highly enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor to pave the way for more cooperation.

At a press conference in Istanbul after a session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Ahmadinejad said Tehran is seeking dialogue and cooperation not confrontation.

He noted that the Western opposition to Iran's nuclear program is political and not legal or technical.

“The only way is… cooperation and dialogue with Iran,” the president said, adding, “We made them a proposal: Stop the confrontation with us and choose the way of cooperation and dialogue.”

Following three days of negotiations in Geneva starting on October 19, the major powers put forward a proposal, suggesting that Iran send about 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium stockpile out of the country in exchange for metal fuel rods for the Tehran medical research reactor, which manufactures medical radioisotopes.

Iran has said that it would accept the essential elements of the proposal but has also sought modifications to the formula.

Ahmadinejad said that certain countries had “sided against Iran because they want to rule the entire world.”

“Peaceful nuclear energy is a natural right of Iran,” Ahmadinejad added.

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Clinton Says Nuclear Race Not in Iran's Interest
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said pursuing nuclear weapons was not in Iran's own interest as she pressed Tehran to accept a UN-backed deal.

Clinton said in a television interview aired late Monday that the United States has many reasons for distrusting Iran, including its "support for terrorism," such as its backing for the Islamic movements Hezbollah and Hamas.

"We've always said that every option is on the table. Our goal is to prevent or dissuade Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," Clinton told "The Charlie Rose Show" on public broadcaster PBS during a visit to Germany.

Clinton said President Barack Obama's administration has tried to "create a new dynamic" by telling Iran, "'Look, we don't have to trust or love each other to understand that it is in our interest to try to stabilize the world.'"

"It is not in Iran's interest to have a nuclear arms race in the Gulf, where they would be less secure than they are today. It is not in Iran's interest, to the Iranian people's interest, to be subjected to very onerous sanctions," she said.

Under the UN-backed deal, Iran would rely on Russia and France to process low-enriched uranium to fuel a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.

The Islamic republic would be left without sufficient material to make a nuclear weapon, at least from stockpiles known to the international community.

Clinton said that much of the reason for the delayed Iranian response stemmed from domestic politics after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor of hotly disputed elections.

"We understand the internal political dynamics, and we've been, I think, patient in helping them to see that we're serious," she said.

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Iran’s First Priority is Buying Uranium for Tehran Reactor
Tehran Times
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Iran will only exchange its low-enriched uranium after it receives the 20 percent enriched uranium promised in the latest nuclear deal, a leading lawmaker said on Sunday.

Iran’s first priority is to buy uranium for the Tehran research reactor with a purity of 20 percent, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi told reporters.

“If we cannot buy 20 percent enriched uranium for the Tehran reactor, we can exchange it in a limited way on the provision that we receive the 20 percent enriched uranium before” delivering the 3.5 percent enriched fuel, the MP added.

He went on to say that the decision on the nuclear deal will be dependent on the results of talks between Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, and IAEA officials.

The nuclear fuel talks between Iran, Russia, the United States, and France in Vienna concluded on October 21 without a final agreement, but IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei presented a proposal for the four countries to study and said he hoped that all parties would give a firm response to his draft deal by October 23.

Under the draft deal, a large consignment of Iran’s enriched uranium would be shipped out of the country for processing into fuel rods with a purity of 20 percent, which would be used by a research reactor in Tehran that manufactures medical radioisotopes.

On October 23, diplomats from Russia, France, and the United States submitted their formal approvals of the deal to process Iran’s nuclear fuel abroad.

However, several senior Iranian officials, including Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, have strongly criticized the deal, saying it is neither logical nor legal.

Boroujerdi criticizes Russia for reneging on S-300 deal

Boroujerdi also said Russia must keep its promise to sell advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.

“The S-300 missile issue is an old issue and if the stories which are quoted represent Russia’s official position, it shows a new chapter has been opened by the Russians in reneging on their promises.

“Our cooperation with Russia is extensive and if the negotiations get nowhere and they do not fulfill their contract, it will be a negative point in the two countries’ relations,” he noted.

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Obama: Hard for Iran to Make Quick Decisions
Caren Bohan and Ross Colvin
(for personal use only)

An unsettled political situation in Iran may be complicating efforts to seal a nuclear fuel deal between Tehran and major world powers, President Barack Obama said on Monday.

Obama told Reuters in an interview that the United States had made more progress toward global nuclear non-proliferation in the last several months than in the past several years.

"But it is going to take time, and part of the challenge that we face is that neither North Korea nor Iran seem to be settled enough politically to make quick decisions on these issues," he said at the White House.

Obama said the United States, along with Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, had made a "fair" offer to Iran that would allow it to have a legitimate civilian nuclear program while allaying suspicions that it was seeking to build atomic weapons. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

The proposal by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency calls for Iran to transfer about 75 percent of its known 1.5 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment by the end of this year, then to France for conversion into fuel plates for a Tehran reactor that produces radio isotopes for cancer treatment.

In talks with six world powers in Geneva on October 1, Iran agreed in principle to the draft deal.

But the deal has since stalled over details and goals and Iranian suspicions that any nuclear fuel sent abroad will not be returned to them.

"Although so far we have not seen the kind of positive response we want from Iran, we are as well positioned as we've ever been to align the international community behind that agenda," Obama said.

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Iran's Jalili Wants Nuclear Enrichment Deal 'Quickly'
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Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator said Sunday he wants to reach agreement "as quickly as possible" on a UN-brokered plan to provide Iran with enriched uranium for a Tehran reactor, state television said.

Saeed Jalili, speaking at a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, also said Iran wishes to continue discussions on a package of proposals it has put to the P5-plus-1 countries -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

The television's website quoted Jalili as saying that he hopes talks with world powers on a draft deal for the supply of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel "will be completed as quickly as possible."

He added: "Tehran still welcomes the discussions (with the P5+1) on the basis of its package of proposals."

The six powers held talks with Iranian negotiators in Geneva on October 1 on Tehran's package of proposals, during which they agreed in principle on Iranian uranium being sent to a third country to be enriched and used for the Tehran reactor.

Further talks were held between Iran, France, Russia and the United States in Vienna on October 20, when a UN-drafted proposal on the supply of nuclear fuel to the Tehran reactor was discussed in depth.

The world powers have endorsed the plan drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's atomic watchdog, but a final response is still awaited from Tehran.

Jalili emphasised that the negotiations on nuclear fuel are commercial and economic in nature and that further talks must take account of technical and economic matters raised by Iran.

Earlier on Sunday, ISNA and Mehr news agencies quoted Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, as saying the UN-drafted proposals are still on the table a day after suggesting that Tehran could reject the deal.

"Our first option is to buy fuel of 20 percent (enrichment), but if we cannot buy it we could make a limited exchange on condition that first we get fuel of 20 percent," he said, adding that Iran's Supreme National Security Council will take the final decision.

Borujerdi had said on Saturday that Iran has decided to reject proposals from major powers for the supply of nuclear fuel.

Under the plan thrashed out in the Vienna talks, Iran would ship out most of its own stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU) in return for 20 percent enriched fuel.

The scheme was designed to assuage fears that Iran could otherwise divert some of its LEU and further enrich it to the much higher levels of purity required to make an atomic bomb.

Iran insists it nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating electricity.

Government newspaper Iran carried a report on Sunday in which it quoted experts as saying some of Iran's enriched uranium could be stored within the borders of the Islamic republic under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during the fuel exchange process.

"Some experts affirm that while waiting for 20 percent fuel to be made (by a third country), Iranian uranium (enriched at 3.5 percent) be stored inside Iran under IAEA control before being sent abroad," the paper said.

It quoted the unnamed experts as saying that Iran needs "116 kilos of uranium enriched at 20 percent (for its Tehran reactor) and to match that quantity, 800 kilos of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent are needed and could be shipped abroad in two phases."

The newspaper said such a deal could allay the concerns of the various parties.

"A first shipment of 60 kilos of uranium enriched at 20 percent could be sent to Iran, which will deliver simultaneously 400 kilos of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent," the report said.

"An extra 400 kilos of uranium enriched at 3.5 percent would be shipped abroad 15 months later in exchange for 60 kilos of fuel, in line with the IAEA proposals," the newspaper added.

A spokesman for the IAEA said on Saturday that they were "still waiting for the formal response" from Iran's envoy to the UN atomic watchdog, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

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Iran: ElBaradei's Turkey Plan Was Rejected Before
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Iran has again turned down an offer by the UN nuclear watchdog requiring the country to ship its enriched uranium to neighboring Turkey.

"This proposal which was made by the chief of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a long time ago was rejected by Iranian authorities at the time," a well-informed source told ISNA on Sunday.

The source talking on condition of anonymity said that, "It seems the IAEA chief is trying to take advantage of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Turkey to gain media coverage on a closed issue."

The UN nuclear watchdog has suggested Turkey as the third country in a draft deal that would provide Iran with fuel for its Tehran research reactor.

The outgoing head of IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei said on Friday that Turkey could enter the proposal as the third-country destination, According to Bloomberg website.

"It should work." ElBaradei had said on Public Broadcasting's Charlie Rose television show. “Iran has a lot of trust in Turkey."

ElBaradei said that the US government would also agree to the suggestion since the Obama administration is "very comfortable with Turkey."

ElBaradei added that though he has not yet presented the idea to Turkey, he was confident that Ankara would accept the idea to hold the material in IAEA custody.

Iran would then get fuel for its research reactor in Tehran from Russia, he added.

The mid-October nuclear draft discussed in Vienna envisages Iran shipping out some portions of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be converted into metal fuel rods and returned to the country for the Tehran medical research reactor.

Tehran says that modifications must be made to the draft deal to safeguard the country's interests.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated in a televised program late Thursday that Iran's 'economic and technical' concerns should be taken into consideration.

"The Islamic Republic examines all the proposals. We have examined this proposal; we have some technical and economic considerations (which need to be addressed)," he said.

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Israel Says Threat of Attack on Iran, No Bluff
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Following years of persistent threats by Israel to attack Iran, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister rejects speculations that the warnings are just a bluff, insisting they are very real.

Nearly three weeks after three consecutive days of nuclear negotiations between officials from Iran, the United States, Russia and France, Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon accused the Tehran government of stalling tactics.

Speaking to Sky News on Saturday, Ayalon accused Iran of not being sincere in its negotiation with the P5+1 over its uranium enrichment program.

"If Iranian behavior and conduct continues as they have exhibited so far, it is obvious that their intentions are only to buy time and procrastinate," Ayalon said.

The Israeli official went on to repeat long-standing military threats against Iran, insisting that a military option will not be taken off the table against the country if other measures fail.

Insisting that the threat is real and not a bluff, Ayalon said, "The one who's bluffing is Iran, which is trying to play with cards they don't have."

The renewed threat comes as earlier in October, Ephraim Sneh, a former Israeli deputy defense minister, said that time was running out for action to stop Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

"If no crippling sanctions are introduced by Christmas, Israel will strike," Sneh said. "If we are left alone, we will act alone."

Iran faces pressure to halt its nuclear enrichment, as world powers claim its program is aimed at building a nuclear bomb.

Along with world powers, Israel — the sole possessor of a nuclear warhead in the Middle East — accuses Iran of efforts to develop a nuclear bomb, maintaining that a "nuclear Iran" is the prime existential threat to its security.

Tehran, however, has denied seeking nuclear weapons and called for the removal of all weapons of mass destruction from across the globe.

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North Korean Leader Afraid His Country 'Might Become Like Iraq'
The Chosun Ilbo
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Japanese state-run broadcaster NHK reports that when Kim Jong-il met with then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Pyongyang in 2002 the North Korean leader said he was afraid his country would become like Iraq.

Kim is also believed to have said he cannot surrender the country's nuclear activities for the sake of the regime's survival.

The new revelations surfaced after NHK claimed it had obtained a highly classified document detailing the exchange between Koizumi and Kim.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-il is very healthy and foreign media reports about his youngest son Jong-un as heir apparent are only rumors, according to a senior North Korean military official who spoke to Japanese journalists in China.

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France's North Korea Envoy in Pyongyang
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France's special envoy on North Korea, Jack Lang, arrived in Pyongyang on Monday, state media reported, on a five-day mission expected to include talks on the North's disputed nuclear programme.

Lang told AFP last week he hoped to "start a dialogue" with the reclusive state's leaders, adding that Pyongyang's nuclear drive and the establishment of French diplomatic ties with North Korea would be on the agenda.

France is the only major European country not to have formal relations with Pyongyang.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced the arrival of Lang, a former Socialist culture minister who has also served as French President Nicolas Sarkozy's special envoy to Cuba, in a brief report.

Lang refused to comment directly when asked if talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il were on the cards. French diplomatic sources said Monday such a meeting had still not been confirmed.

"We're going to Pyongyang on Monday with a willingness to start a dialogue... one that is as wide-ranging as possible... with the top leaders," Lang told AFP in an interview shortly after his arrival in Beijing.

He qualified the trip as a "fact-finding mission to gather information, and impressions." Lang was due to return to China on Friday.

France is not part of six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, which bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

But it is one of five veto-wielding permanent UN Security Council members and Lang said Paris could "play a certain role" in international efforts to resolve the standoff.

Lang has already discussed North Korea's nuclear programme with senior US, Japanese and South Korean officials. In Beijing, he met with Chinese officials and Korea experts, including State Councillor Dai Bingguo on Monday.

The North quit the six-party talks in April after the United Nations censured its long-range rocket launch. It conducted an atomic weapons test in May, the second since 2006.

Pyongyang has said it is ready to return to the multilateral forum hosted by China but only if it is first granted bilateral talks with Washington.

The US said Friday it was open to sending an envoy to the North, but insisted that Pyongyang prove it is serious about giving up its nuclear ambitions.

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US to Send Envoy to North Korea for Nuclear Talks
Associated Press
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The Obama administration has decided, after months of deliberation, to accept an offer by North Korea to send a special envoy to Pyongyang for direct talks on nuclear issues, two administration officials said Monday.

President Barack Obama will send envoy Stephen Bosworth, although no date for his trip has been set, the officials said. The officials discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced.

It would be the first direct one-on-one U.S. talks with North Korea since Obama took office in January.

The administration hopes Bosworth's meeting would be a step toward persuading the North Koreans to return to nuclear disarmament negotiations with the U.S. and four partner countries — Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. North Korea quit those negotiations in April and vowed never to return.

As a way to pressure North Korea to return to the negotiating table, Washington has been seeking international support for strict enforcement of a U.N. sanctions resolution adopted in June to punish the North for its May 25 nuclear test.

North Korea escalated nuclear tensions this year. It conducted a long-range rocket launch, quit the six-nation talks on ending its nuclear program, restarted its nuclear facilities, carried out its second-ever nuclear test and test-fired a series of ballistic missiles. But in August it said it welcomed direct talks with Washington, while holding out on broader negotiations.

The last six-nation talks took place in Beijing in December 2008.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling this week to Singapore, where she will meet Wednesday with Asia-Pacific foreign ministers for talks that will center on North Korea. Obama also will be in Asia this week; his visit will include stops in Japan, China and South Korea, where the prospects for progress on North Korea is certain to be a major topic.

Jeffrey Bader, a senior Asia adviser to Obama said last week that the United States was prepared to send Bosworth to North Korea for direct talks, but only if the North understands that such contact must set the stage for scrapping its nuclear program. Some have speculated that the North Koreans' motivation for inviting Bosworth to Pyongyang is to demand U.S. recognition of North Korea as a nuclear weapons state — a move the U.S. resists.

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C.  Pakistan

Pakistan's Army Rejects U.S. Journalist's Nuclear Remarks
Xinhua News Agency
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The Pakistan's army Monday rejected as absurd remarks by an American journalist that Washington is making plans to help secure Islamabad's atomic weapons.

In his article in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh alleged that the United States has a covert team ready to fly into Pakistan at a moment's notice and defend nuclear installations from attack.

"We do not need any help for security of nuclear assets," Chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majeed.

Hersh also said he has evidence the U.S. administration has been working on "highly sensitive understandings" with Pakistan's military that would let the U.S. military provide "added security for the Pakistani arsenal in case of a crisis."

Majeed said Pakistan has an effective safety system for its nuclear assets and reports that Islamabad is seeking U.S. help for its arsenals are misleading.

Hersh also claimed that a "highly classified" emergency response team had already been activated within the past few months in response to a report that a Pakistani nuclear component had "gone astray".

"We can not share sensitive information with anyone," the Pakistani General said. He added that Pakistan's security institutions can meet any challenge.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Sunday that no compromise would be made on national interests, security and the nuclear program of the country.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that it was "simply preposterous" that Pakistan would allow any country direct or indirect access to its nuclear arsenal, which are safe under "multi-layered custodial controls."

Calling the media reports regarding alleged Pak-U.S. negotiations on Islamabad's nuclear arsenal "false and baseless", U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson on Sunday also said U.S. had no intention of seizing the country's nukes.

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D.  Nonproliferation

Iran, North Korea Top Clinton's Overseas Agenda
Matthew Lee
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Nuclear impasses with Iran and North Korea are the dominant issues for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on her trip to Europe and Asia, which begins with a stopover in Germany to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall.

Developments in both stalemates are expected in the coming days with international patience running out over Iran's refusal to come clean about its suspected nuclear program and North Korea's refusal to return to stalled disarmament talks.

As Clinton departed early Sunday for Berlin, U.S. officials said they anticipated that the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog soon would give up hope that Iran would accept a confidence-building deal under which it would ship uranium abroad for further enrichment. That would set the stage for consideration of new U.N. Security Council penalties against Tehran.

In addition, the officials said the U.S. is nearing an announcement that it will send a special envoy to North Korea in a bid to get the North to resume the negotiations, known as the six-party talks. The envoy, Stephen Bosworth, has been invited by the North Koreans, but the Obama administration has not yet accepted.

The centerpiece of Clinton's two days in Berlin will be celebrations marking the anniversary of the Nov. 9, 1989, opening of the wall, the symbolic end of the Cold War. But behind the scenes, in meetings with German and other visiting foreign officials, the Iran question looms.

The administration is seeking support for fresh penalties against Iran. In particular, the U.S. is hoping for help from Russia, which along with China, has in the past resisted and is giving mixed signals about whether it will back them if the uranium transfer proposal is rejected.

Clinton will be at events with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, all of whose countries are involved in the Iran talks. U.S. officials said Iran will be a prime topic of conversation.

"This is a pivotal moment for Iran, and we urge Iran to accept the agreement as proposed," Clinton told reporters in Washington last week after meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. "We will not alter it and we will not wait forever."

The proposal would see Iran send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium — around 70 percent of its stockpile — for reprocessing in Russia in one batch by the end of the year as a way to ease concerns that the material would be used for a bomb — something Iran denies.

France would then convert the uranium into fuel rods that would be returned to Iran for use in a reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes. Fuel rods cannot be further enriched into weapons-grade material.

Western officials say Iran agreed to the deal in principle, but there have been recent conflicting signals about it and senior Iranian lawmakers are demanding that the government reject it. The International Atomic Energy Agency is attempting to persuade Iran to accept the deal; Clinton and others say time is running out.

"Our patience is not unlimited," she said.

From Berlin, Clinton goes to Singapore, where she will meet Wednesday with Asia-Pacific foreign ministers for talks that will center on North Korea.

Jeffrey Bader, a senior Asia adviser to Obama said Friday that the United States is prepared to send Bosworth to North Korea for direct talks, but only if the North understands that such contact must set the stage for the scrapping of its nuclear program.
Bader said no decision has yet been made about when or how that trip would happen.

But two other U.S. officials said Saturday that an announcement may be imminent, possibly ahead of or during President Barack Obama's Asia trip, which begins Wednesday and will include stops in Japan, China and South Korea — all key players in the six-party talks.

North Korea said last week it had reprocessed 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods and extracted enough plutonium to bolster its atomic stockpile, raising the stakes in an apparent effort to push the U.S. into direct negotiations.

The North pulled out of the six-party talks in April in protest at international criticism of a long-range rocket launch. It then conducted its second-ever nuclear test in May and a series of ballistic missile tests.

After her meetings in Singapore, Clinton will make a brief stop in the Philippines on Thursday to show U.S. solidarity with the nation as it recovers from a series of devastating typhoons. Clinton then returns to Singapore to join Obama for the rest of his Asia trip.

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Medvedev: Arms Control Deal with US Can Be Reached
Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press
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Russia and the United States have a good chance of reaching a new nuclear arms reduction deal before year's end, but other nuclear powers must join disarmament efforts, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in remarks released Saturday.

Medvedev also told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine he has been working well with his predecessor Vladimir Putin, and predictions of a rift between him and Putin — widely seen as pulling the strings in Russia — are overblown. The Kremlin released a transcript of the comments.

"No one must have any doubts that our 'tandem' has been working quite harmoniously," Medvedev said. "As you can see, predictions that we will have a falling out so far have failed to materialize."

The U.S.-Russian arms control talks are moving at a good pace, Medvedev said.

"We have every chance to agree on a new treaty, determine new (weapons) levels and control measures and sign a legally binding document in the end of the year," he said in remarks released by the Kremlin.

He sounded less upbeat about the prospect of the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.

Russia and the United States both say they are committed to negotiating a successor deal to their 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. That arms reduction treaty has gradually slashed both sides' arsenals but is set to expire Dec. 5.

In July, U.S. President Barack Obama and Medvedev agreed that the current talks should reach an accord to reduce both countries' arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 nuclear weapons within seven years.

Medvedev told Der Spiegel that other nuclear powers have been reluctant to join in disarmament efforts.

"A nuclear-free world is our shared ideal for which we must aspire, but a road to that is difficult," he said. "It takes not just the United States and Russia renouncing nuclear weapons, but other countries as well."

Putin anointed Medvedev as his preferred successor and moved into the prime minister's job after the 2008 presidential election. Putin said in September that he and Medvedev would "come to an agreement" on who would run for president in the 2012 election, leading to speculation that the two would decide on a predetermined winner.

Medvedev maintained that Putin meant to say they would discuss who should run for president to "avoid elbowing each other."

"He did not say that we would decide between us who will be the next president," Medvedev said. "This would be ridiculous."

"I do not wish to one day find myself and Vladimir Putin resembling the aged leaders from the Soviet Communist Party Politburo standing on Lenin's Mausoleum in similar coats and hats."

Medvedev has championed the rule of law and civil rights, but critics say he has remained in Putin's shadow and failed to add substance to his pledges.

Medvedev told Der Spiegel that Russia could back sanctions against Iran if it fails to take a constructive stance in international talks over its nuclear program.

The statement echoed Medvedev's earlier comments, but Putin has warned that the threat of sanctions could thwart talks. Putin also has said, however, that there is no real difference between him and Medvedev on the subject.

Asked to comment on Putin's famous remark that the Soviet collapse represented "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century," Medvedev challenged his mentor.

He said the Soviet breakup was a "serious, dramatic" event, but added that World War II and the 1917 Bolshevik revolution were real catastrophes.

Medvedev also set himself apart from Putin by sharply criticizing the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

"From the point of view of the law, killing of a huge number of compatriots for political or unsubstantiated economic motives is a crime," he told Der Spiegel. "The rehabilitation of those involved in these crimes is impossible, no matter what economic achievements were made then and how well the state mechanism was built."

Putin has sidestepped discussion of Communist crimes, and critics have accused him of whitewashing history and encouraging a more positive view of Stalin.

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Germans Press for Removal of US Nuclear Weapons in Europe
Julian Borger
The Guardian
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Pressure is growing within Nato for the removal of the remaining US nuclear weapons on European soil, and for a new doctrine for the alliance that would depend less on nuclear deterrence.

The initiative is being driven by the new German government coalition, which has called for the removal of American nuclear weapons on its territory as part of a Nato strategic rethink.

The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, the driving force behind the new policy, raised the issue during talks in Washington today with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Earlier this week, Westerwelle assured the Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that Germany would consult its allies on the removal of the estimated 20 nuclear weapons left on its soil.

The Germans have backing from the Belgians and Dutch. The new Norwegian government also called for a debate within Nato, as it revises its basic doctrine, known as the strategic concept, due to be completed in the first half of next year.

Des Browne, a former British defence minister now chairing a cross-party parliamentary group on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, argued: "These moves bring out into the open a topic which for too long has been discussed by diplomats and technocrats only. [It] makes possible a genuine debate between allies about the role of nuclear weapons in Nato strategy, as set out in the strategic concept which guides alliance generals."

The current Nato concept, written in 1999, says: "Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to Nato provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the alliance. The alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe."

It is that clause that is now under scrutiny, in a push to downgrade the role of nuclear weapons in global security. In France two former prime ministers, Alain Juppe and Michel Rocard, as well as a retired general, signed a joint letter to Le Monde newspaper calling for "the structured elimination of nuclear weapons" and arguing that France should be prepared to negotiate on its own independent deterrent.

The letter was a challenge to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has resisted the calls for eventual nuclear abolition led by Barack Obama and Gordon Brown.

There are an estimated 200 US weapons – mostly tactical – left in Europe, deployed in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

Their future is also being debated within the Obama administration as it prepares a new "nuclear posture review" due early next year.

The president is reported to have personally intervened in the Pentagon's drafting of the review to ensure that it reflects the commitment he made in a speech in Prague in April, committing the US to the eventual goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Ten Nuclear Stations to Be Built in Bid to Prevent Energy Shortage
Robin Pagnamenta
The Times
(for personal use only)

Ten nuclear power stations are to be built in Britain at a cost of up to £50 billion as the Government tries to prevent the threat of regular power cuts by the middle of the coming decade.

The nuclear industry welcomed the plans, but critics said that ministers had acted too late to avoid an energy crunch caused by the closure of ageing coal-fired stations.

Although the sites were known to be in line for development, the announcement signals the Government’s increasing ambition for nuclear power.

Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, intends that construction of the stations should be quick enough to help to meet Britain’s 2050 target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent while bolstering energy security as North Sea gas supplies decline.

The announcement comes after a radical shake-up in planning laws. Under powers awarded to the Government last month, local authorities have been stripped of the right of veto over new nuclear plants and other key energy projects. Decisions will instead be taken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, which was created to slash the period required to secure consent for energy projects from seven years to one year.

Mr Miliband said: “The current planning system is a barrier to this shift. It serves neither the interests of energy security, the interests of the low-carbon transition, nor the interests of people living in areas where infrastructure may be built.”

The reactors should meet at least a quarter of electricity demand by 2025. “New nuclear is right for energy security and climate change and will be good for jobs too,” Mr Miliband said.

“The threat of climate change means we need to make a transition from a system that relies heavily on high-carbon fossil fuels to a radically different system that includes nuclear, renewables and clean coal power.”

None of the plants, which will cost at least £4 billion each, will be ready before 2017 — too late to replace eight coal-fired stations earmarked for closure by 2015.

Greg Clark, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, branded Mr Miliband’s statement a “declaration of a national emergency for our energy security”.

He said: “Every one of the measures contained in this statement should have been brought forward ten years ago when they had the chance to secure the investments that are so desperately needed to keep the lights on, keep prices down and cut carbon emissions. Why did they leave it so late?”

Last month Ofgem, the energy regulator, warned that Britain may face blackouts within four years owing to a supply shortage.

Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas, which is a partner with EDF, welcomed the changes.

He said: “Britain has a power generation gap looming from 2015 onwards which will need to be filled by new low-carbon replacements, particularly nuclear, and speed of decision making is very important. The current planning system has been a significant barrier so moves to streamline the process are welcome.”

Each new reactor will generate up to 1.6 gigawatts — enough to power a city the size of Manchester — and should last for 60 years.

The first is likely to be built by EDF Energy at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and should come into service by the end of 2017. New reactors at Sizewell, Suffolk, Wylfa, Anglesey, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, are also likely to be among the first wave. Hartlepool, Co Durham, Bradwell, Essex, Heysham, Lancashire and three sites near Sellafield, West Cumbria, were also named.

Ministers have ruled out construction of a new plant at Dungeness, Kent, citing the risk it faced from rising sea levels.

Mr Miliband indicated three greenfield sites that might be suitable later on, although he cautioned that there were “serious impediments” to all of them. They are Kingsnorth, Kent, and Owston Ferry and Druridge Bay, both in the North East.

About 13 per cent of Britain’s electricity was generated from nuclear power reactors last year and the Government wants to raise this to 25 per cent by 2025.

Ben Ayliffe, the head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign, rejected the plans. “Miliband can name as many sites as he likes for new nuclear power stations, but the fact remains that the figures simply don’t add up,” he said.

“Our lawyers will be examining this announcement very closely. You can’t justify building more nuclear power stations when there is no solution to radioactive waste and when international regulators are saying there are huge uncertainties surrounding the basic safety of new reactor designs,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed last night that the Government was studying an exemption for electricity produced from nuclear reactors from the Climate Change Levy, a tax on energy use imposed on industrial companies. The levy, which was introduced in 2001, raises an estimated £1 billion per year for the Treasury.

Jeremy Nicholson, a spokesman for the Energy Intensive Users Group, an industry association that has lobbied for the tax break, estimated an exemption would be worth between £160 and £300 million per year to the nuclear power industry.

Last week EDF told The Times that it was unclear if the plants would be built without fresh government support.

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Britain’s Nuclear Strategy May Cause Destruction of Kalahari Desert
Thaindian News
(for personal use only)

Reports indicate that the hidden cost of Britain’s new generation of nuclear power could be the destruction of the Kalahari desert in Namibia and millions of tonnes of extra greenhouse gas emissions a year.

According to a report in the Observer, the desert, with its towering sand dunes and spectacular lunar-like landscapes, is at the centre of an international uranium rush led by Rossing Uranium, a subsidiary of the British mining giant Rio Tinto, and the French state-owned company, Areva, which part-manages the nuclear complex at Sellafield and wants to build others in Britain.

Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, is soon expected to release a batch of plans covering every aspect of Britain’s strategy to replace its ageing nuclear power stations.

The documents are expected to set out the government’s case on the need for nuclear power, based on the demand for secure, low-carbon energy supplies, the suitable sites and designs for new reactors, and how the decommissioning and safe storage of radioactive waste can be guaranteed.

It is not expected to consider the source of the fuel needed for the new reactors.

But, Rossing is expanding its existing giant mine - which already provides nearly 8 percent of the world’s uranium - into the Namib-Naukluft national park.

Areva has leased hundreds of square kilometres of the desert near Trekkopje, where it plans to build one of the world’s largest uranium mines.

At least 20 other mining companies from the UK, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere have also been given licenses to explore thousands of square kilometres of the national park and its surrounds, and six new mines, several of which would be in the park, are at the development stage.

The mines are all expected to be in open pits up to 200 metres below the desert sands.

With their waste heaps, acid plants and giant slurry ponds, they will extend over hundreds of square kilometres.

“Large areas of the desert will be inevitably devastated,” said Bertchen Kohrs, director of the Namibian environment group Earthlife.

“They will do immense damage. We fear that there will be major contamination of the ground water supplies,” Kohrs added.

Documents seen by the Observer suggest the mines would initially consume about 53 million cubic metres of water a year, more than 75 percent of the water presently supplied by the Namibian state water company.

The water will need to be pumped more than 56km to the mines from the coast.

The proposed expansion of the uranium mining would create mountains of waste radioactive sand.

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Power for U.S. From Russia’s Old Nuclear Weapons
Andrew E. Kramer
The New York Times
(for personal use only)

What’s powering your home appliances?

For about 10 percent of electricity in the United States, it’s fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, including Russian ones.

“It’s a great, easy source” of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Capital and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war.

But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn’t secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers.

Already nervous about a supply gap, utilities operating America’s 104 nuclear reactors are paying as much attention to President Obama’s efforts to conclude a new arms treaty as the Nobel Peace Prize committee did.

In the last two decades, nuclear disarmament has become an integral part of the electricity industry, little known to most Americans.

Salvaged bomb material now generates about 10 percent of electricity in the United States — by comparison, hydropower generates about 6 percent and solar, biomass, wind and geothermal together account for 3 percent.

Utilities have been loath to publicize the Russian bomb supply line for fear of spooking consumers: the fuel from missiles that may have once been aimed at your home may now be lighting it.

But at times, recycled Soviet bomb cores have made up the majority of the American market for low-enriched uranium fuel. Today, former bomb material from Russia accounts for 45 percent of the fuel in American nuclear reactors, while another 5 percent comes from American bombs, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade association in Washington.

Treaties at the end of the cold war led to the decommissioning of thousands of warheads. Their energy-rich cores are converted into civilian reactor fuel.

In the United States, the agreements are portrayed as nonproliferation treaties — intended to prevent loose nukes in Russia.

In Russia, where the government argues that fissile materials are impenetrably secure already, the arms agreements are portrayed as a way to make it harder for the United States to reverse disarmament.

The program for dismantling and diluting the fuel cores of decommissioned Russian warheads — known informally as Megatons to Megawatts — is set to expire in 2013, just as the industry is trying to sell it forcefully as an alternative to coal-powered energy plants, which emit greenhouse gases.

Finding a substitute is a concern for utilities today because nuclear plants buy fuel three to five years in advance.

One potential new source is warheads that would become superfluous if the United States and Russia agree to new cuts under negotiations to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires on Dec. 5.

Such negotiations revolve around the number of deployed weapons and delivery vehicles. There is no requirement in the treaty that bomb cores be destroyed. That is negotiated separately.

For the industry, that means that now, as in the past, there will be no direct correlation between the number of warheads decommissioned and the quantity of highly enriched uranium or plutonium, also used in weapons, that the two countries declare surplus.

(This summer, Mr. Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia agreed to a new limit on delivery vehicles of 500 to 1,100 and a limit on deployed warheads as low as 1,500. The United States now has about 2,200 nuclear warheads and the Russians 2,800.)
Mr. Medvedev has reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to a 2000 agreement to dispose of plutonium, and both countries plan to convert that into reactor fuel as well.

An American diplomat and an official with a federal nuclear agency in Washington have confirmed, separately, that the two countries are quietly negotiating another agreement to continue diluting Russia’s highly enriched uranium after the expiration of Megatons to Megawatts, using some or all of the material from warheads likely to be taken out of the arsenals.

The government officials were not authorized to publicly discuss these efforts.

This possible successor deal to Megatons to Megawatts is known in the industry as HEU-2, for a High Enriched Uranium-2, and companies are rooting for it, according to Jeff Combs, president and owner of Ux Consulting, a company tracking uranium fuel pricing.

“You can look at it like a couple of very large uranium mines,” he said of the fissile material that would result from the program.

American reactors would not shut down without a deal; utilities could turn to commercial imports, which would most likely be much more expensive.

Enriching raw uranium is more expensive than converting highly enriched uranium to fuel grade.

To make fuel for electricity-generating reactors, uranium is enriched to less than 5 percent of the isotope U-235. To make weapons, it is enriched to about 90 percent U-235.

The United States Enrichment Corporation, a private company spun off from the Department of Energy in the 1990s, is the treaty-designated agent on the Russian imports. It, in turn, sells the fuel to utilities at prevailing market prices, an arrangement that at times has angered the Russians.

Since Megatons to Megawatts has existed, American utilities operating nuclear power plants, like Pacific Gas & Electric or Constellation Energy, have benefited as the abundance of fuel that came onto the market drastically reduced overall prices and created savings that were ultimately passed along to consumers and shareholders.

Nuclear industry giants like Areva, the French company; the United States Enrichment Corporation and Nuclear Fuel Services, another American company; and Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, are deeply involved in recycling weapons material and will need new supplies to continue that side of their businesses.

In the United States, domestic weapons recycling programs are smaller in scale and would be no replacement for Megatons for Megawatts. The Nuclear Fuel Services, in Erwin, Tenn., in 2005 began diluting uranium from the 217 tons the government declared surplus; so far 125 tons have been processed. It is used at the Tennessee Valley Authority plant.

The American plutonium recycling program is also well under way at a factory being built at the Energy Department’s Savannah River site in South Carolina to dismantle warheads from the American arsenal; a type of plutonium fuel, called mixed-oxide fuel, will come on the market in 2017.

In total, the 34 tons to be recycled there are expected to generate enough electricity for a million American homes for 50 years.

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Kenya Plans Nuclear Plant in Five Years
The Peninsula
(for personal use only)

Kenya hopes to build its first nuclear power plant in the next five years with help from France, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said yesterday. “We want to establish a nuclear plant. We want to start with a plant of the average of between 1,000 and 2,000 Megawatts (output) and we are looking at five years from now,” Odinga said in an interview. Odinga said nuclear power was one option Kenya was considering as it looked for ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

“We want to begin the cooperation right now so we can begin the training of personnel who will man this plant in the future, and France has offered to cooperate in that scheme of things,” he said.

France was more experienced in nuclear power than many other countries, Odinga said, as nearly 80% of the country’s energy is nuclear-generated, and Kenya hoped to draw on this expertise.

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F.  Links of Interest

Defending the Arsenal
Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker
(for personal use only)

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Swiss Open Probe of al-Qaida Nuke Physicist Case
Balz Bruppacher and Alexander G. Higgins
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

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Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons
(for personal use only)

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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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