The world must engage and not isolate Iran in the push for Middle East peace, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday, and Iranian leaders should negotiate with Western nations for a solution to concerns over its nuclear program.
But visiting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — the first Iranian leader to visit Brazil since pro-U.S. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi toured the South American country in 1965 — made no promises and defiantly said Iran would try to improve its uranium-enrichment technology if it can't buy enriched uranium abroad.
"If the people ask us to produce ourselves, we should do it and the opportunity we tried to create for the other side will be lost," said Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly denied allegations by the United States and its European allies that Iran is embarking on a nuclear weapons program. Iran insists the program is only for peaceful purposes.
Commenting on the fate of three American hikers detained in his country, Ahmadinejad said it is up to Iran's judicial system to determine whether they will be released or punished, though he hopes any punishment would not be severe.
The Americans were detained by Iranian authorities after having crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in northern Iraq in July. The U.S. says the three were innocent tourists on an adventure hike and accidentally crossed into Iran.
"We are not happy with them making this big mistake. They are now in the hands of our judiciary," Ahmadinejad said. "A judge will decide about their situation. We hope the sanction will not be too heavy."
The family of one detained hiker appealed to Iranian authorities to show compassion, in a statement released to The Associated Press.
"We don't understand why this case remains unresolved with no sign of progress," said the relatives of Josh Fattal, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park. "We very much hope the authorities will show compassion, as the president said, and release our loved ones. It's been too long."
After a three-hour private meeting, The Iranian and Brazilian presidents didn't say whether they discussed Iranian war games that started a day earlier, driving oil prices higher.
Ahmadinejad's remarks on uranium enrichment came less than a week after Iran indicated it would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, effectively rejecting the latest plan brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency and aimed at delaying Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon.
Under the IAEA plan, Iran would export its uranium for enrichment in Russia and France where it would be converted into fuel rods, which would be returned to Iran about a year later. The rods can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material.
While Silva said on his weekly radio show that there's good reason not to isolate Iran, he also suggested — but did not insist — that Ahmadinejad could work harder to negotiate the stalemate over the nation's nuclear program.
"I encourage your excellence to continue engagement with interested nations in order to find a just and balanced solution to the Iranian nuclear question," the Brazilian leader said.
For Ahmadinejad, the visit to Brazil could provide some measure of political legitimacy for his nation as it engages in large-scale war games aimed at protecting its nuclear facilities from attack and refuses to back down from developing a nuclear program. And for Brazil, it helps boost the nation's growing global political clout.
Oil prices rose above $78 a barrel Monday amid deepening tensions in the Middle East following the start of the war games and boasts by an air force commander that Iran could deter any military strike by Israel.
Silva, who again defended Iran's right for a peaceful nuclear program, gave Ahmadinejad a big bear hug and called for diplomacy to push for peace in the Middle East and ease tensions between Iran, the United States and other nations.
"There's no point in leaving Iran isolated," the Brazilian leader said on his radio program hours before the two met. "It's important that someone sits down with Iran, talks with Iran and tries to establish some balance so that the Middle East can return to a certain sense of normalcy."
Ahmadinejad didn't utter the word Israel during his comments, but said that Iran wants a Middle East with "prosperity, progress and security for all nations."
In the past, the Iranian leader has called for the destruction of Israel, which is voicing its own concern about Iran's push in Latin America. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Brazil and Argentina in July and last week, respectively — the first such high-level visits in decades.
The Silva-Ahmadinejad meeting was condemned by U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York state Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He ridiculed a pledge by Ahmadinejad to support Brazil for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and said Silva made a "serious error" by meeting with the Iranian president.
Palestine Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas was also in Brazil last week.
Silva, a deft negotiator whose skills were honed as a union leader, says a new tactic is needed with the Iranians that shouldn't be as punitive as the U.S. or European approach.
The Iranian leader will next visit allies in Bolivia and Venezuela to shore up more South American support, but the visit with Silva was significant because he is a center-leftist viewed by Washington as a counterweight to the strident leftist Bolivian and Venezuelan presidents.
"Those concerned about Iran's penetration into Latin America don't think this is an overly helpful visit," said Ray Walser, with The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank. "Ahmadinejad can go back to Iran say, 'Look, Brazil says we're normal. Our nuclear program, they green-lighted us.'"
The Iranian president repeated in an interview Sunday with Brazil's Globo TV that homosexuality goes against human nature.
Brazil, which enriches uranium for its own nuclear energy program, has flatly said it would not sell enriched uranium to Iran, or any other nation.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hpMM6JS5YfbQUiJuUhlV_vcq9w7wD9C5KS3O0
2. Iran Completes 1st Stage of Drills to Protect Nuclear Facilities
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Iran's armed forces have completed the first stage of a large-scale air defense exercise to protect the country's nuclear facilities, the ISNA news agency quoted the air force and air defense staff as saying.
The five-day exercise, dubbed Asemane Velayat 2, started Sunday and comprises three stages. It covers a vast area in the northwest, west, south and southwest of the country.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and Iran's regular armed forces are involved in the exercise.
"In line with the exercise plan, the second stage starts immediately upon the completion of the first stage," the staff said.
Iran frequently holds military drills and shows off modern weaponry in an effort to demonstrate its readiness to thwart any attack against its nuclear facilities.
The West led by the United States accuses Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program but the Islamic Republic says it needs nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.
The U.S. and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran to stop the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
A senior official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps said Saturday that Iran would retaliate against Israel, if attacked.
"If the enemy attacks Iran, our missiles will strike Tel Aviv," Mojhtaba Zolnoor, supreme leader representative in Revolutionary Guards, was quoted by the ILNA news agency as saying.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20091124/156959497.html
3. Iran Does Not Oppose Uranium Going Abroad: Spokesman
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Iran does not oppose sending its controversial low-enriched uranium abroad as long as there is a simultaneous exchange inside the country of nuclear fuel processed by world powers, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said simultaneous exchange inside Iran of its 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium with 20 percent pure uranium processed abroad would act as the guarantee required by Tehran.
"Iran is not opposed to sending uranium abroad, but is considering how to do that," Mehmanparast told a news conference.
He said Tehran wanted a "100 percent guarantee" that it would receive the fuel required for its research reactor and "one of the guarantees is a simultaneous exchange of fuel inside the country."
Iran and world powers have been at loggerheads for weeks, failing to reach a nuclear fuel deal aimed at allaying Western concerns over Tehran's nuclear programme.
The West, led by Washington, fears Iran might otherwise covertly divert some of its LEU stocks for further enrichment to the much higher levels required for a bomb, an ambition Iranian officials strongly deny.
Enrichment of uranium lies at the heart of Iran's nuclear controversy as the material can be used to power nuclear reactors as well as to make the core of an atom bomb.
To defuse the crisis, the UN atomic watchdog brokered a deal last month under which Iran would send 1,200 kilogrammes (2,640 pounds) of LEU, or 70 percent of total stocks as of October, to Russia and then France for conversion into fuel required for the internationally-supervised Tehran reactor.
But Iran has rejected that deal amid stiff opposition from senior officials who oppose sending the LEU in one go. They fear the West might renege on its side of the bargain.
And a top Iranian official involved in nuclear negotiations with the West also said the simultaneous exchange of uranium would be the best guarantee to resolve the current impasse.
"They (world powers) said that our 1,200 kilogrammes of 3.5 percent enriched uranium should be transported for further enrichment to 20 percent level by Russia and then to be converted into fuel by France for the Tehran reactor," Ali Bagheri, deputy secretary of Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council said.
"Iran has no problem in transporting its 3.5 percent LEU, but needs a 100 percent guarantee it will get the fuel for the Tehran reactor and one of the guarantees is the simultaneous exchange of fuel inside Iranian territory," he told hardline newspaper, Kayhan.
For his part, top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalali told state-owned Arabic language Al-Alam television channel the Islamic republic wanted "concrete guarantees it would get the fuel for the Tehran reactor."
"If there is no concrete guarantee, we have other options," he said, indicating Iran that could enrich its LEU to 20 percent or buy it abroad.
World powers have threatened to levy fresh sanctions against Iran if it fails to come clean on its atomic programme. They still hope Tehran will accept the UN-drafted deal and send its LEU abroad in one go.
"We would prefer that the Iranian regime follow through on the opportunity to engage," Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher said on Sunday.
But she warned that "if persuasion doesn't work, pressure is going to have to be the next line of action." She suggested a further round of sanctions against Iran, already under three sets of sanctions for defiantly enriching uranium in the central city of Natanz.
The United States and Iran's arch-foe Israel have never ruled out military action also against Tehran to halt its galloping nuclear drive.
Iran regularly boasts of its military advancements and abilities to thwart any military strikes, particularly against its nuclear installations.
Since Sunday its military has been conducting manouevres aimed at defending the facilities.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gbi0qsN1a-CqEGPUw3ERm1Xdx8xQ
4. Iran Official Warns Russia of Legal Action Over S-300
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Iran can take legal action if Russia refuses to fulfill its commitments to deliver an advanced missile defense system to the Islamic Republic, a senior military official said on Tuesday.
Iranian officials have voiced growing irritation at Russia's failure so far to supply the S-300 missile system, which Israel and the United States do not want Tehran to have.
"The Russians, surely under the pressure of the Zionist lobby and America, refuse to fulfill their commitments," the official IRNA news agency quoted Brigadier General Mohammad Hassan Mansourian as saying.
"And because this is an official agreement it can be pursued through international legal bodies," said Mansourian, who is deputy head of Iran's air defenses.
Moscow, which is under Western pressure to distance itself from Iran over a long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, has not followed through on proposals to ship the missiles to Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Russia last month for not providing the S-300 to Iran. Like Israel, Washington has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row over Iran's nuclear program.
The West suspects Iran is seeking to build nuclear bombs. Tehran says it only seeks to generate electricity.
The truck-mounted S-300PMU1, known in the West as the SA-20, can shoot down cruise missiles and aircraft. It can fire at targets up to 150 km (90 miles) away.
Iranian officials say the country can produce a S-300-style system by itself, if Russia does not deliver it. Iranian media say a new anti-aircraft defense system will be tested during war games this week.
In another possible source of strain in Moscow-Tehran ties, Russia earlier this month announced the latest delay to Iran's first nuclear power station. It said technical issues would prevent its engineers from starting up the Bushehr plant reactor on the Gulf coast by the year's end.
Diplomats say Russia uses the Bushehr reactor, and major arms contracts, as levers in relations with Tehran.
Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security council, has backed three sets of mild sanctions on Iran since 2006 over its nuclear work. But it has so far blocked any strong measures against its traditional ally.
A senior MP last week said Russia was using the Islamic Republic as a "pawn" in Moscow's dealings with other powers such as the United States.
But the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said on Tuesday that work on Bushehr was progressing as planned.
"The West is trying to harm our relations with Russia ... the reactor is progressing based on our agreements and Russia is doing more than it should. The Bushehr plant will be inaugurated in 2010," ILNA news agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandidateFeed1/idUSTRE5AN21R20091124
5. Iran Said Ready for Uranium Exchange on Its Soil
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Iran's Foreign Ministry says the country is ready to exchange its low-enriched uranium with a higher enriched one, but only on its own soil.
Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the exchange on Iranian soil is one of the "100 percent" guarantees that the government is seeking in regard to its enriched uranium.
With the insistence on a simultaneous swap on its territory, Iran is effectively rejecting a U.N.-brokered plan designed to delay its ability to build a nuclear weapon. Under the plan, Iran would export its uranium for enrichment in Russia and France where it would be converted into fuel rods, which would be returned to Iran about a year later. The rods can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iRqjZV1Meppj40hTs8IBOv4DdsQwD9C5Q73G0
6. Ahmadinejad Heads to Nuclear Backers Brazil, Venezuela
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Faced with mounting pressure over his country's atomic ambitions, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Brazil on Monday in a bid to boost ties with Latin America's biggest economy and a rare backer of Tehran's nuclear programme.
Since coming to power in 2005, Ahmadinejad has sought to form bonds with leftist south American leaders, and enjoys "brotherly ties" with fiercely anti-US Hugo Chavez, president of Brazil's neighbour, Venezuela.
His five-day trip will also take in Venezuela as well as another left-leaning South American country, Bolivia.
On the way home, Ahmadinejad will stop off in the West African countries of Senegal and Gambia.
The Islamic republic's influence in arch-foe the United States' back yard has unnerved Washington and its key Middle Eastern ally Israel amid speculation Venezuela and Bolivia might be providing uranium to Iran for its controversial nuclear programme.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has backed Iran's nuclear development programme as long as it is peaceful, as Brazil seeks to up its diplomatic profile by playing a mediating role in the Middle East.
Lula, who hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres earlier this month, is firmly against sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance and has called for diplomacy and talks.
Israel accuses Iran of seeking atomic bombs and along with the United States has never ruled out a military option to thwart the nuclear drive. Iran denies it seeks atomic weapons.
At the moment, the West is still hoping to receive a positive response from Iran on a UN-brokered nuclear deal aimed at allaying their fears that Iran could use its enriched uranium to make a bomb.
In an interview with AFP in September Lula said he believed US-led criticism of Iran was reminiscent of Washington's fallacious justification for the war in Iraq.
"Even today, those leaders in favour of the war in Iraq are unable to explain why they invaded if there were no chemical weapons. Well, I am seeing the same sort of things starting to happen over Iran," he said.
Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
Ahead of Monday's visit Ahmadinejad welcomed Brasilia's support for Tehran's nuclear drive.
"While there is an unfair polemic in Western countries against Iran's peaceful nuclear programme, the people of Brazil side with the Iranian people," Ahmadinejad said in a statement.
"If the Brazilian people and the Iranian people are united on issues such as the Zionist regime's cruel attack on the defenceless people of Gaza, this will show a mutual desire" for peace, he added.
During the visit Ahmadinejad is expected to discuss cooperation in the areas of technology, oil production and space exploration.
In his trip to Bolivia, which sits on South America's second largest gas reserves, Ahmadinejad and his counterpart Evo Morales will hold a private meeting and sign bilateral agreements, La Paz has said.
And in Venezuela, the Iranian hardliner is expected to receive a warm welcome given his warm relations with Chavez, as the two leaders are known for their populist economic policies and strong anti-US tirades.
Chavez, who also supports Tehran's nuclear programme, has himself been a regular visitor to Iran since the presidency of Ahmadinejad's predecessor Mohammad Khatami, the reformist president.
Although Cuba is not on Ahmadinejad's itinerary, Iran has also been stepping up its ties with Havana over the past few years with the latter even reducing tariffs on dozens of imported Tehran goods.
Since his disputed re-election in June Ahmadinejad has been dogged by mass protests by opposition supporters charging the polls were rigged, and the regime has come under fire abroad for its violent suppression of protests.
Ahmadinejad has also faced criticism at home by his political rivals over the benefits of seeking allies thousands of miles away in Latin America.
And the United Nations human rights committee blasted Iran for "serious, ongoing and recurring" human rights violations, in a non-binding resolution adopted on Friday.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/1019782/1/.html
7. Iran Wants Nuclear Fuel Guarantees, Warns Against Air Attack
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Iran's envoy to the UN atomic watchdog said on Sunday that Tehran wants a guaranteed supply of fuel for a research reactor as a military chief warned that any attack on its nuclear sites would be crushed.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reiterated that Tehran is ready for further talks on supplying fuel for the internationally supervised reactor in the capital.
"The main issue is how to get a guarantee for the timely supply of fuel which Iran needs," Soltanieh was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
"We are ready to have negotiations with a positive approach, but because of lack of confidence with the West, we need to have those guarantees."
He spoke days after the Islamic republic rejected a deal brokered by the IAEA which proposed that Tehran send most of its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France for conversion into fuel for the research reactor.
However, Iran said it was ready for a simultaneous exchange inside the country of its LEU for nuclear fuel supplied by the West.
Western powers strongly back the IAEA-drafted deal as they fear Iran could further enrich its LEU for use in making atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
A senior US official on Sunday urged Iran to "engage" with the West over its nuclear programme.
"We would prefer that the Iranian regime follow through on the opportunity to engage," Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, told the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada.
"If persuasion doesn't work, pressure is going to have to be the next line of action," she warned in a reference to possible further sanctions.
But, she added, "I don't believe (military action against Iran) is on the table now."
The United States and Israel have never ruled out military action to prevent Iran acquiring a bomb. Israel is widely suspected to be the Middle East's sole -- albeit undeclared -- nuclear-armed power.
A commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday that its air defences would annihilate Israeli warplanes if they attacked.
"Their F-15 and F-16 fighters will be trapped by our air defence forces and will be annihilated," Guards' air wing chief Amir Ali Hajizadeh told Fars news agency as war games aimed at honing a response to any assault on Iran's nuclear sites began.
"Even if their planes escape and land at the bases from which they took off, their bases will be struck by our destructive surface-to-surface missiles."
An aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that if Iran was attacked, it would retaliate against Tel Aviv in Israel.
Enrichment lies at the heart of the Iran nuclear controversy. Enriched uranium can be used to power reactors, but in purer form it can also be used in the fissile core of an atomic weapon.
Soltanieh said that under IAEA rules, member states can enrich uranium to any level.
"There is no limit to enrichment for members of the IAEA. There is no ceiling," he said. "The member countries are however required to declare to the agency their enrichment levels and the agency has to verify it."
He clarified that Iran's main enrichment plant in the central city of Natanz was enriching uranium to five percent purity.
Iran is building a second enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom. Its disclosure in September triggered outrage in the West, prompting world powers to threaten fresh sanctions if Tehran did not come clean on its atomic project.
Tehran is already under three sets of UN sanctions for enriching uranium at Natanz.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ixvA4pAKTkHsRM8YXdUtIjjIcCEw
Mohamed ElBaradei, the departing chief of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, said Iran's continued refusal to accept tighter scrutiny of its nuclear activities would likely force the international community to impose new sanctions.
Though he described sanctions as a "grievous violation of human rights" that "affect the weak" and "do not solve problems," Mr. ElBaradei said Iran's continued intransigence regarding its nuclear program would likely lead world powers to increase their pressure on Iran.
"The ball is in Iran's court," Mr. ElBaradei said in a brief interview after delivering a speech on his 12-year tenure as the International Atomic Energy Agency's Director General.
Mr. ElBaradei, who is set to retire from the agency at the end of November, said he still hoped Iran's leadership would accept a plan to address concerns about its nuclear activities but acknowledged that it was "a fleeting opportunity."
He urged the international community to continue to engage with Iran, saying that "small steps and negotiations" are necessary to achieve results.
"We can threaten to use force, but this is a bridge to nowhere," Mr. ElBaradei said.
Diplomats familiar with the talks say Western powers will wait until the end of the year for Tehran to accept a deal brokered with Iran this fall that would require the country to ship some of its uranium stockpile abroad for reprocessing into fuel for a medical-research reactor.
Mr. ElBaradei's remarks came as top officials from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China -- plus Germany, met in Brussels to discuss the standoff with Iran.
The group issued a statement expressing disappointment that Iran had failed to respond to proposals aimed at calming worries about its nuclear ambitions. They urged Iran "to engage seriously with us in dialogue and negotiations."
The six said they viewed Iran's failure to notify the IAEA about the existence of an underground uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom as a breach of Iran's safeguards agreement with the agency and "in defiance of several UN resolutions."
The officials said they would meet again soon to decide about next steps.
International criticism of Iran's nuclear program escalated in September after the existence of the Qom facility came to light. President Obama has said the facility appears to be designed to produce fuel for a secret military program.
Mr. Obama has called for a two-track policy of negotiations backed by the possibility of sanctions, should the talks fail to lead to an agreement that would restore confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.
At the U.N. Friday, Iran drew criticism for how it handled the aftermath of the country's disputed presidential election. The General Assembly's human-rights committee passed a resolution condemning Tehran's violent response to protests against the results of the June balloting as "serious ongoing and recurring human-rights violations."
Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's ambassador to the U.N., called the Canadian-sponsored resolution "politically charged and motivated."
Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125876739528158463.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
1. China, North Korea Pledge to Strengthen Alliance
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Chinese and North Korean defence chiefs have pledged to strengthen their military alliance -- dating back to the Korean War -- during talks in Pyongyang, state media said Monday.
The move came after Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie arrived in North Korea for talks Sunday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Liang told a reception by Pyongyang's defence chief Kim Yong-Chun that the bilateral relationship was "sealed in blood" when he and other Chinese troops fought the 1950-1953 Korean War on the North Koreans' side.
"No force on earth can break the unity of the armies and peoples of the two countries and it will last forever," Liang said, according to KCNA.
"It is the fixed stand of the Korean army and people to invariably consolidate and develop the DPRK (North Korea)-China friendship, which has stood all trials of history," Kim Yong-Chun said.
The defence chiefs then had "comradely and friendly" talks, according to the report.
KCNA said Liang arrived in Pyongyang by plane Sunday, inspected an honour guard, attended a fete, presented a gift for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and met with Kim Yong-Chun, but gave no more details on his itinerary.
Chinese state media announced Friday that Liang would be on a three-nation tour of North Korea, Japan and Thailand from Sunday to December 5.
The trip comes as Stephen Bosworth, US special representative for North Korean policy, is scheduled to visit the communist state on December 8 in order to persuade it to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
North Korea quit the talks in April, a month before it tested a second atomic weapon. Pyongyang said last month it was ready to return to the talks, but only if bilateral meetings with the US make progress.
The six-nation talks, which began more than six years ago, group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
China has hosted the talks since 2003.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iXdRqAD0XnPPxicfN5lx3qy2claw
A group of American experts on Korean affairs was scheduled to visit North Korea for four days from Saturday to meet with key officials involved in Pyongyang's nuclear program, informed sources here said.
Jack Pritchard, president of the Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Scott Snyder, director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation, and Nicole Finneman, director of research and academic affairs at the KEI were to fly to Pyongyang via Beijing and stay from Nov. 21-24, a senior diplomatic source said, requesting anonymity.
"The group led by Pritchard will visit North Korea today after having consultations with the U.S. government," the source said. "They are likely to meet with key North Korean officials involved in the country's nuclear program."
The trip is expected to play a role in Washington-Pyongyang relations before Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korean policy, visits Pyongyang on Dec. 8.
Sources said that they will brief the U.S. government on the result.
After months of provocations, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed his willingness to come back to the six-party talks on ending his country's nuclear program and invited Bosworth to visit Pyongyang.
After his summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he will send Bosworth on Dec. 8.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/11/21/30/0401000000AEN20091121001000315F.HTML
1. France Not for India-Like Nuclear Pact with Pakistan
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Much as Pakistan has been trying to project in recent months that France’s initiative for a “strategic relationship” with it was on the same lines as that with India, a top French government official made it categorically clear that in no case would it include a civil nuclear cooperation deal.
In response to a query as to whether Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s claim that Paris had decided to initiate a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Islamabad, the official dismissed it outright saying there was no truth in that statement.
Talking to The Hindu here, he said: “I can say that nothing like it is on the table. We [France] would like to ensure safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal but there is no question of getting into an India-like civil nuclear pact with them. Nothing like it is happening.”
Almost immediately after French President Sarkozy’s meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in May, Mr Qureshi had gone on record that France had made an offer to Islamabad for a civil nuclear deal on the same lines as had been initialled with India in 2008.
At that point of time, the French government qualified its initiative as being interested in ensuring the “safety” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Following the dismissal of Pakistan’s claim of a full-fledged agreement in the nuclear field, it is now clear that France cannot afford to have such a deal with it under the present circumstances.
In the event, President Sarkozy’s likely visit to Pakistan in the near future, as has been talked about earlier, would be more as a show of solidarity in its ongoing initiative against terrorism.
Mr Qureshi, it may be recalled, had stated earlier that France had expressed its readiness to civil nuclear technology to Pakistan to help it in tackling the acute power crisis.
According to the French government, it was ready within the framework of its international agreements “to co-operate with Pakistan in the field of nuclear safety” and ensure that “the Pakistani programme can develop in the best conditions of safety and security.”
Humanitarian aid France has pledged 12 million euros humanitarian aid for Pakistan and also reiterated its support for Islamabad’s fight against Taliban and other terror groups in the region.
The statement, therefore, was a matter of concern in India as it appeared that France was tending to overlook Pakistan’s proliferation record merely to further its business interests in the power sector.
Incidentally, France’s nuclear giant Areva is developing the new-age EPR reactors and is scouting for markets where there is demand for nuclear energy. It is already building two such EPR reactors in India.
Though India, like Pakistan, has not signed the NPT, it has succeeded in getting a clean waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group last year to carry out civil nuclear commerce, mainly on the strength of its impeccable track record on the non proliferation front.
The French official noted that the nuclear deal with India would be implemented in the “broadest possible way.”
Asked why France did not want to supply reprocessing technology to India, he said: “It will be comprehensive but the fact that India has not signed NPT is obviously a concern because what we do has to be in keeping with our international commitments.”
Available at: http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/21/stories/2009112161871400.htm
1. In U.S., Indian PM Touts Nuclear Deal, Infrastructure
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday completing a 2005 U.S.-India nuclear cooperation deal would boost investment opportunities in his country, a hopeful sign for U.S. companies eyeing India's potential $150 billion market in power plants.
Singh, speaking to U.S. business leaders on the eve of talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, said India's ambitious infrastructure build-up would propel growth amid a global slowdown and be open to foreign investors.
"We are currently finalizing the details that will make the agreement fully operational," he said of the civilian nuclear deal. "This will open a large area of commercial opportunity."
Singh and former U.S. President George W. Bush signed the deal in 2005, but India's parliament has to debate a new law to limit U.S. firms' liability in case of a nuclear accident. The United States has still not signed a nuclear fuel reprocessing agreement with India.
The Indian prime minister did not elaborate on what might be announced at his White House summit on Tuesday regarding the unfinished nuclear deal. But some experts familiar with the talks have said the two leaders might issue a joint statement on implementing a deal that would open India's potential $150 billion market in power plants to U.S. suppliers.
Singh said he and Obama would sign a set of agreements on energy security, clean energy and climate change to deepen cooperation in an economic relationship that has grown rapidly since India began opening its economy 15 years ago.
India's economy was hit by the global crisis and growth moderated to 6.7 percent in 2008 and was likely to grow 6.5 percent this year. But Delhi expects the growth rate to get back to 9.0 percent within three years, Singh told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a speech.
He urged the U.S. business community to take advantage of an improved approval and implementation process for infrastructure projects in India and to look at public-private sector projects being signed by his country's federal and state governments.
"We need massive investment in energy, transport and urban infrastructure to be able to support a high rate of economic growth," Singh said.
Two-way trade, was just $5 billion in 1990 and $14 billion in 2000. But commerce rose to nearly $50 billion last year, according to U.S. figures, making the United States India's largest trading partner.
Tuesday's summit is expected to highlight improvement in U.S.-India ties during the past 15 years and underscore shared values between the world's two biggest democracies. But Singh also underscored that India's view on climate change differs from that of the United States and other industrialized states.
"India was a latecomer to industrialization and as such we have contributed very little to the accumulation of greenhouse gases that cause global warming," he said in a separate speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Singh said his country wanted to join a global solution as long as it did not come at the expense of economic development and called on developed countries to make more resources and technology available to help poor nations fight climate change.
Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar told a separate gathering of businessmen that India-U.S. trade had doubled in the three years before the global financial crisis erupted last year and that U.S. exports had tripled during that period.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE5AM44720091124
India's nuclear-capable, medium-range ballistic missile has proved unsuccessful during its night-time test fire.
The army test-fired the surface-to-surface Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) from Wheeler's Island, Bhadrak district, around 7:50 pm (1420 GMT).
"The liftoff and the first stage separation was smooth. But it faltered just before the second stage separation and behaved erratically, deviating from its coordinated path," 'the Times of India' quoted a Defense Ministry official as saying on Tuesday.
"Further analysis to ascertain the cause is ongoing," he said on condition of anonymity.
Sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and a naval ship tracked the entire trajectory of Monday's test fire.
The launch, originally scheduled earlier this month, had been postponed due to some technical problems in its pneumatic system.
Agni-II, which can deliver a nuclear warhead to targets within a range of 2,500 kilometers (1,560 miles), measures 20 meters in length, one meter in diameter.
The missile, first tested on April 11, 1999, has a launch weight 16 tones and can carry a 1,000 kg conventional or nuclear payload.
The user training test was the first night-time launch since the beginning of a missile development program by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
India already has the nuclear-capable 3,000-kilometer range Agni-III missile while unconfirmed reports suggest it is building an Agni variant with a range of 5,000 kilometers.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=112051§ionid=351020402
3. U.S. and India Hone Nuclear Pact for Singh's Arrival
Amol Sharma and Jay Solomon
The Wall Street Journal
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India and the U.S. are pushing to tie up vital details of a nuclear-energy cooperation agreement approved by their legislatures last year, ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the White House Tuesday, said officials from both countries.
The nuclear deal was a breakthrough in relations for two nations that were ideologically opposed during the Cold War, and Mr. Singh staked his political reputation to get it approved by a reluctant Indian Parliament.
But American companies haven't yet been able to begin selling their technology and services because of remaining regulatory roadblocks.
"We have made tremendous progress" on the nuclear talks, Timothy Roemer, U.S. ambassador to India, said in New Delhi this week. "We are pushing hard to see a successful conclusion to these issues."
Negotiators from the two nations were due to meet in Washington on Saturday as part of an effort to formalize the pact. The negotiators will focus on an agreement to make sure low-enriched uranium sold by U.S. companies to Indian companies for use in their reactors doesn't end up reprocessed as weapons-grade fuel.
The Obama administration is also seeking greater safeguards for the handling of enriched uranium, and needs a guarantee from India, a nuclear-armed nation, that the fuel won't be used for military purposes, according to officials briefed on the talks.
Washington is also awaiting official assurances from New Delhi -- which refuses to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- that it won't pass on its nuclear know-how.
Also delaying the conclusion of the nuclear deal is the passage of an Indian law providing U.S. companies with liability protection in the case of nuclear accidents. Companies such as General Electric Co. say the law is a prerequisite for entering the Indian market. India plans a major expansion of nuclear production by 2020 as part of a broader plan to meet rising energy demand.
Senior Indian officials have told U.S. counterparts that they plan to introduce the liability legislation in the coming session of Parliament.
The Obama administration calls its ties with India one of Washington's most important strategic partnerships. U.S. officials said President Obama and Mr. Singh will announce a string of joint projects focused on education, clean energy and defense, following their Tuesday morning meeting at the White House.
On Monday, Mr. Singh will be hosted at a lunch by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mr. Obama will host a state dinner for him on Tuesday night.
"We are putting in place now a wide range of bilateral cooperation to really reflect the new level of engagement." Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said this week in Washington.
Mr. Singh's visit comes almost a year after gunmen from Pakistan led an assault on Mumbai, India's financial hub, which left at least 170 people dead. The U.S. and India have since stepped up intelligence-sharing and counterterrorism cooperation, and are moving to formalize those arrangements, said Indian and U.S. officials.
Despite growing ties, the U.S. and India are still working through a number of contentious issues, said South Asia experts.
Discussions about the nuclear pact dominated Mr. Singh's trip to Washington in 2005, when former President George W. Bush's administration was pushing aggressively for the deal. Mr. Obama came into office pledging to develop a "regional" solution to South and Central Asia's instability, and specifically cited the need to resolve India's conflict with Pakistan over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
The White House initially envisioned its special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, playing a direct role in mediating the Kashmir issue, according to U.S. officials. But New Delhi pushed backed against any direct American role.
The Obama administration also continues to debate India's growing economic and diplomatic role inside Afghanistan. U.S. officials have publicly praised New Delhi's developmental assistance to Kabul. But privately, officials in Washington say New Delhi's involvement could be driving Pakistan to support the Taliban out of fears of being encircled by India's presence in Afghanistan.
India also remains wary of Washington's regional relationship with China. Indian officials voiced dismay this week after Mr. Obama signed a communiqué with his Chinese counterpart pledging to jointly cooperate to promote stability in South Asia.
New Delhi viewed the statement as the U.S. allowing Beijing to police the countries to its south and west.
"We don't want to be subordinated to China in South Asia," said C. Raja Mohan, an influential Indian strategic analyst, at a Washington policy forum this week.
Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125876806713958491.html
1. Russia, US Strive for Nuclear Deal by Dec 5: Minister
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Russia and the United States are working to reach agreement on a new nuclear accord to replace the treaty which runs out next week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
"The current agreement expires on December 5. The presidents have given their delegations the task of doing everything to ensure a new agreement is ready by then," Lavrov said.
It is up to US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to decide where and when it will be signed, Lavrov added.
The United States said on Monday it was hopeful the negotiations to reach a new agreement by the start of the December would succeed.
Washington and Moscow are negotiating a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that was signed just before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
During a visit by Obama to Moscow earlier this year, the two presidents called for a reduction in the number of nuclear warheads in the Russian and US strategic arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years.
Obama and Medvedev said earlier this month they were on target to agree by the end of the year the text of a new treaty.
But a senior White House adviser warned there was not time for the successor to the agreement to be ratified by December 5, meaning a temporary bridging deal would be needed.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091124/pl_afp/russiausnucleardisarmament
2. U.S., Russia Study Ways to Extend START Verification
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U.S. negotiators working to conclude a new strategic arms treaty with Russia are discussing ways to continue nuclear weapons monitoring until the new accord can be ratified, a State Department spokesman said on Monday.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed in July to work on a new treaty that would cut their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads.
The current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between Russia and the United States expires on December 5. Negotiators in Geneva are hopeful of reaching a draft agreement around that time, but the deal would still have to be ratified by both sides, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
"The negotiating teams continue to work very hard in Geneva. They have agreement on a number of issues but they are also trying to work out some of the areas where they need to come together," he said.
"Because the treaty has to be ratified by the respective legislatures, we ... know that we are not going to have a ratified treaty that can enter into force," Kelly added. "So we are having discussions with Russia to see how we can continue some of the transparency and verification measures ... until the treaty is ratified."
Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill last week that would permit Russian arms experts to come to the United States to carry out inspections permitted under the START treaty.
The measure would let Obama approve the inspections as long as the Russians extended similar permission to U.S. arms experts.
Lugar, in a Senate speech, said extending the START verification mechanism was particularly important because it is also used to monitor the 2002 Moscow Treaty on strategic nuclear forces.
Kelly said the Lugar legislation was part of the effort to extend the START weapons inspection and verification regime.
"Since we recognize we're not going to have a fully ratified treaty in both capitals, we're looking at ways that a number of provisions can remain in effect in this period between December 5 and whenever the new treaty is ratified," he said.
"These monitoring mechanisms are important," Kelly said. "You need to have some kind of mechanism to keep these means of monitoring in place and ongoing."
Estimates of current nuclear stockpiles vary, but the U.S.-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimated at the start of 2009 the United States had about 2,200 operationally deployed nuclear warheads and Russia had about 2,790.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE5AM4E020091123
3. Jordan Sees Great Potential for Nuclear Energy Co-op with China
Xinhua News Agency
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Energy-poor Jordan sees great potential for nuclear energy cooperation with China, Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"In Jordan, we see that China will be a major strategic partner with us in developing our nuclear energy program," Toukan said.
Currently, the Arab kingdom generates 2,200 megawatt of electricity annually and imports 95 percent of the energy it needs. It is planning to build four nuclear reactors by 2040 with the potential to provide 60 percent of the country's power needs.
As Jordan abounds in uranium reserves, estimated at some 140,000 tons, and other nuclear materials such as zirconium, the country is expected to produce annually 2,000 tons of yellowcake and about 300 tons of phosphate as of 2013, according to Toukan.
With the creation of the first two nuclear reactors by 2030, Jordan's energy generation capacity will be tripled to around 6,000 megawatt by using only 600 tons of yellowcake, said Toukan.
Jordan is now working with China on prospecting and reconnaissance of uranium mining mainly in Wadi Bahyya and Mafraq in the country, said Toukan, adding that "the potential there seems to be promising and commercially viable."
Jordan is also working with the Chinese to build a sub-critical assembly laboratory at the state-run Jordan University for Science and Technology, he said.
The nuclear energy chief believed that Amman would start to look at Chinese expertise in constructing nuclear power plants considering its need to build more nuclear reactors.
"I do believe that down the road, we will be looking at nuclear power plants designed and built by Chinese companies," said Toukan.
He said China is very supportive of Jordan in this regard, adding that "The Chinese government and the Chinese leadership have been very open to Jordan."
Jordan, which already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with China, France, Britain, South Korea, Argentina, Russia and Canada, is scheduled to sign a similar deal with Spain in December and another with Romania in January 2010.
"This demonstrates the confidence of the international community in Jordan and its ability to administer peaceful, open and transparent nuclear energy program," Toukan added.
Jordan is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to its additional protocol.
Well-trained manpower is a key to the success of Jordan's peaceful nuclear program, said Toukan, adding that the country has plans to build academies and institutes for specialized training on nuclear sciences and mining.
According to Toukan, Jordanian students are being sent to China, France, Russia, the United States and other European countries such as Germany for studies and training in this regard.
"I want to extend special thanks to the Chinese government that is generously giving us five scholarships on a yearly basis for students to do the masters and PhD in Chinese universities in nuclear-related studies," he said.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/21/content_12516291.htm
1. Iran Aims to Launch First Nuclear Plant by Late March
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The launch of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, delayed for technical reasons, will take place by the end of March 2010, the country's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran is counting on the Russian contractor in the Bushehr project, Atomstroyexport, to honor its obligations and launch the plant on time.
Russian and Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that work to finish the facility was progressing on schedule.
Russia has repeatedly delayed the launch of the $1 billion plant in Iran's south, over financial and technical issues. Iran is at the center of an international dispute over its nuclear ambitions, amid Western suspicions that the program has military goals, and is subject to UN sanctions.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said last week that Russia was close to finishing the construction of the Bushehr plant, and was making final adjustments.
The construction of the plant was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy siege in Tehran.
Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20091124/156968636.html
2. Turkey Starts Over as Nuclear Power Plant Tender Scrapped
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Turkey has had to postpone its decades-old desire of having a nuclear power plant as the Turkish Electricity Trading and Contracting Company (TETAŞ) on Friday evening cancelled a tender for the construction and operation of Turkey’s first nuclear plant.
In a brief statement, TETAŞ said its board of directors had unanimously decided to scrap the tender under Article 31 of the bid specifications, which gives TETAŞ the right to cancel the tender after the bid envelopes are opened, without any legal liability. The article also reads that the bidding parties may not make any claims due to the cancellation of the tender.
TETAŞ had held the tender for the construction and first 15 years of operation of the nuclear power plant on Sept. 24, 2008 and a consortium composed of Russian companies Atomstroyexport and Inter RAO UES and the Ciner Group’s Park Teknik won it as the sole bidder. The Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) approved the technical aspects of the consortium’s bid and sent the bid for the Cabinet’s evaluation. The Cabinet sent its opinion to TETAŞ and entered a two-month assessment period, scheduled to end on Nov. 24.
The decision to cancel was no surprise as the tender was already in jeopardy due to a recent verdict by the Turkish Council of State which ruled the tender legally invalid over issues such as power pricing. Upon loud criticism over the high price of the bid, the consortium had lowered its offer. The new price was $0.134-$0.154 per kilowatt hour (kWh), 27 percent lower than its original bid but still approximately double the current rates.
Sources close to the Energy Ministry say the ministry has already started plans to restart the tender for the plant in Mersin’s Akkuyu district, on the Mediterranean coast, and launch a second tender to build and operate a nuclear power plant in Sinop on the Black Sea in 2010. Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said on Monday of last week that Turkey will launch the second of three planned tenders in three to four months.
Turkey is seeking to cover an imminent shortfall in electricity as well as cut its dependence on foreign energy resources, mainly natural gas. The government’s plan was to designate atomic power an essential source of energy, meeting at least one-fifth of Turkey’s power needs within the next two decades.
The government guarantees 15 years of power purchases to encourage investment in the plant, but the winning companies still have to charge a premium to recoup nearly $8 billion in costs.
Turkey has cancelled four previous attempts to build a nuclear plant, with plans stretching back to the late 1950s, due to the high cost and environmental concerns.
The decision to cancel also had another dimension as regards international politics. The plant was part of a major push of deals Turkey had agreed with Russia earlier this year to increase cooperation on energy, such as Turkey’s permission for Russia’s South Stream natural gas pipeline to pass through its territorial waters and Russia’s promise to provide oil to Turkey’s Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.
Available at: http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=193644
3. Iran Questions Russian Credibility Over Bushehr Plant
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A top Iranian official has questioned Russia's credibility for the completion of the Bushehr nuclear plant, saying the existing conditions have left Iran with no choice but to allow Russians to develop the plant.
“The problem regarding the Bushehr plant has a technical as well as a political aspect. The Russians… want to launch the plant under certain conditions, but we will not surrender to them,” Iran's deputy foreign minister Manouchehr Mohammadi said in a Monday speech at an Iranian university.
The Bushehr plant was originally scheduled to be completed in 1999 but its completion has repeatedly been delayed. Russia has recently announced the nuclear plant would not become operational, as promised, by the end of 2009.
Iran was left with no choice but to sign a deal with Russia to develop the Bushehr plant as Western countries had pulled out of the project, Mohammadi said.
After the originally German-built reactor was left unfinished by Berlin following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Russia was granted the contract to complete the nuclear power plant in Bushehr in 1995.
However, hindrance on the part of the Russian contractor, Atomstroiexport, has so far prevented the launch of Iran's first nuclear power plant.
Russia has cited 'technical' issues as the reason for the delays, ruling out that the decision is politically-motivated.
On Iran-US relations, Mohammadi said the issue can be considered from three aspects, namely negotiations, diplomatic relations and the resolution of differences.
However, the US has not taken practical steps in any of these aspects after the Islamic Revolution, he said.
Mohammadi said the Israeli lobby was acting against Washington's own interests by preventing the US from resuming relations with Iran.
“Despite [US President Barack] Obama's change in tone, there is still a double standard in the US policy towards Iran which has led to Washington's failure in this regard.”
Obama has repeatedly talked of a change in US policy toward Iran since he came to office in January.
However, Tehran says Washington has taken no practical steps to resume diplomatic relations with Iran.
The Obama administration continues to pressure American firms as well as foreign countries to stop investing in Iran's energy sector in a bid to bring Iran's nuclear program to a halt.
Meanwhile, Iranian assets in the US remain blocked and Obama has extended the unilateral US sanctions against Iran for another year.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=111980§ionid=351020104
4. South Africa May Have New Nuclear Power Plant by 2020
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South Africa, plagued by chronic power shortages, plans to have the country's new nuclear power plant up and running by 2020, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters told a nuclear conference. The new nuclear plant would produce 20,000 MW
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters announced that her ministry was to submit a proposal on the construction of a nuclear power plant to Cabinet next year. The department is currently engaging role-players such as the Science and Technology Ministry on the plan. "In February next year or early next year we will be submitting to Cabinet our plan," said Peters.
The minister said that a nuclear power plant would enhance the country's energy mix as traditionally South Africa has relied on coal generated electricity.
The introduction of nuclear technology will see the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
"If, for instance, we build the next generation nuclear fleet of 20,000mw, we estimate that we will create around 70,000 direct jobs in the South African economy. This figure will be much higher if we include approximately 300,000 indirect jobs that will be created throughout the entire nuclear value chain," said Peters.
ESKOM's Nuclear Power Program forms part of the Generation GroupÆs concern. Nuclear power offers a clean and efficient source of electrical energy. Coal-fuelled power stations are restricted to the vicinity of coal mines due to the high cost of transporting vast quantities of coal. As a result, there is an imbalance between electricity supply and demand centres in South Africa as indicated by the map. Nuclear power generation has a different set of locational requirements and is not restricted to coal mining areas. Nuclear plants can thus be sited closer to demand centers on the coast such as cities and heavy industries, thereby reducing transmission costs significantly.
Part of ESKOM's Nuclear Program is to select and acquire potential nuclear power plant sites on the coastline where there is a large demand for electricity and no local supply of coal. Such sites which also meet other nuclear plant requirements are a scarce national resource which need to be preserved for possible use in future. Koeberg Power Station, located on the Duynefontein site, supplies the greater Cape Metropolitan area with power and is an example of a well-sited nuclear plant. Being near to the main distribution area, there are lower transmission costs and fewer instabilities (in terms of power spikes and trips).
ESKOM Generation Group has identified four potential locations for nuclear power on the South African coast (namely Brazil, Schulpfontein, Bantamsklip and Thyspunt) through its Nuclear Siting Program.
The challenge is to make sure the country is able to develop the necessary technology. However, the minister said that the industry and role players would be given ample time to develop such technology before construction starts on the nuclear power station.
For South Africa to be able to produce nuclear power specialised skills will be needed and the minister said that the skills to perform the job will be first sourced in the country before looking abroad.
Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in Africa. Eskom generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors. Additional power stations and major power lines are being built to meet rising electricity demand in South Africa. Eskom will continue to focus on improving and strengthening its core business of electricity generation, transmission, trading and distribution.
Available at: http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2009/11/23/south-africa-may-have-new-nuclear-power-plant-by-2020.aspx
5. Slovenia Sees New Nuclear Plant by 2025 - Minister
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Slovenia expects to build its second nuclear power plant by 2025 at a cost of 3.5 billion to 5 billon euros ($5.21 billion to $7.44 billion), Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik said on Friday.
"The block will be built between the years 2020 and 2025. Nuclear energy is very attractive and necessary for Slovenia," Lahovnik told a news conference.
The decision on building the new plant is expected to be confirmed by parliament next year while a referendum on the issue was also possible.
The plant would be built next to Slovenia's sole nuclear power plant, Krsko (NEK). Energy firm Gen Energija, which operates NEK, told Reuters last month the new plant could be built by 2020.
Neighbouring Austria and Slovenian environmentalists have been pushing for an early closure of NEK, which is scheduled to close in 2023, but the government claims the plant is safe and is considering prolonging its life span by another 20 years.
Available at: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/11/20/worldupdates/2009-11-20T181754Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_-441245-1&sec=Worldupdates
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