The United States has said that a nuclear fuel plan offered to Iran will not be changed after Tehran called for the UN-brokered deal to be reviewed.
Speaking in Morocco on Monday, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, urged Tehran to fully accept the deal which had already been agreed to in principle, saying "we are not altering it".
"This is a pivotal moment for Iran," she told reporters after conferring with senior government officials from several Gulf nations, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan.
"Acceptance fully of this proposal ... would be a good indication that Iran does not wish to be isolated and does wish to co-operate with the international community."
Earlier on Monday, Iran asked for a technical review of the plan designed to restrain its potential for making a nuclear bomb.
The UN plan requires Iran to ship about 70 per cent of its uranium abroad for conversion into fuel before being sent back to a Tehran reactor monitored by the UN nuclear watchdog.
The US and other Western countries are concerned that Iran may be enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists its programme is strictly for research and energy production.
On Monday, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog urged Iran to immediately clarify its response to the proposal, which is backed by the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said "a number of questions and allegations relevant to the nature" of Iran's programme remained, and called for confidence building measures on all sides.
"The issue at stake remains that of mutual guarantees amongst the parties," he said in his final address to the UN General Assembly before ending his tenure later this year.
"This is a unique and fleeting opportunity to reverse course from confrontation to co-operation and should, therefore, not be missed."
ElBaradei added that "trust and confidence-building are an incremental process that requires focusing on the big picture and a willingness to take risks for peace".
Last week the IAEA said it had received an "initial response" from Iran to the deal.
Iran's foreign minister said the country was not rejecting the offer but Iranian officials have sent mixed signals on the plan.
Iran has indicated interest in purchasing ready-made uranium from abroad rather than shipping its low-enriched uranium for further enrichment.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief envoy to the IAEA, told The Associated Press news agency that Iran wants "to buy the fuel from any supplier".
Some experts say Iran has little reason to trust the West and for that reason may be in no hurry to cut a deal.
"Iran believes time is on their side for now," said Mustafa Alani, a regional analyst at the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai.
Available at: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/11/2009112224334930145.html
2. Britain, Russia, Others Urge Iran to Respond to Uranium Proposal
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Britain, Russia and their international partners want a "prompt response" from Iran on a uranium enrichment proposal, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Monday.
"We both want to see a prompt response from the Iranian regime in respect of the Tehran research reactor proposal," Miliband said at a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
"We both want to see a positive response to the offer that was agreed by the E3 +3 ... in May 2008."
The E3 + 3 refers to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the United Nations' nuclear watchdog -- has given Iran another 48 hours "to come up with a serious response," Miliband said
"That's what we all want to see," he added.
Last week, Iran said it tentatively agreed to the IAEA's proposal, but then proposed its own conditions.
The initial draft was supported by the United States, France and Russia. It calls for Iran to ship low-enriched uranium outside the country for refinement, possibly to Russia. The material would be shipped back to Iran in a form usable for civilian purposes.
However, Tehran proposes that its uranium be enriched on Iranian soil by a third country, under IAEA supervision, ElBaradei said last week. Iran said another possibility would be sending out the uranium in several shipments, not in one bulk stockpile, he said.
Iran says the IAEA is responsible for sending it 20 percent-enriched uranium, which Iran says is needed for the reactor at Tehran University. That concentration is insufficient for making weapons.
The United States and other nations are trying to eliminate Iran's weapon-making capabilities, although Iran says it wants uranium solely for civilian purposes.
Speaking on Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also called on Iran to respond quickly to the offer or, he warned, France would not accept Tehran's response.
In his final speech to the U.N. General Assembly, ElBaradei on Monday said Iran needs "to be as forthcoming as possible in responding soon to my recent proposal, based on the initiative of the U.S., Russia and France, which aimed to engage Iran in a series of measures that could build confidence and trust and open the way for comprehensive and substantive dialogue between Iran and the international community.
"This is a unique and fleeting opportunity to reverse course from confrontation to cooperation and should, therefore, not be missed," he said.
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/11/02/iran.nuclear/
3. ElBaradei Asks Iran for Quick Response on Nukes
Michael Astor and George Jahn
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The head of the U.N. nuclear agency urged Iran on Monday to clarify its response to a U.S.-backed proposal that would have Tehran ship most of its nuclear material abroad for processing.
Iranian officials sent mixed signals on the proposal with the foreign minister saying Monday that option still exists and a senior diplomat suggesting the opposite. The proposal would have Tehran export 70 percent of its enriched uranium — enough to make a bomb — and then have it returned as fuel for its research reactor.
The contrasting messages appear designed to keep the international community off balance on how far Iran is ready to go in accepting the original proposal.
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Mohamed ElBaradei said "a number of questions and allegations relevant to the nature" of Iran's program remained, and he called for confidence building measures on all sides.
"I therefore urge Iran to be as forthcoming as possible in responding soon to my recent proposal, based on the initiative of the U.S., Russia and France, which aimed to engage in a series of measures that could build confidence and trust," ElBaradei said in his final address before stepping down after 12 years as chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The U.S. and other powers are concerned Iran may be enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its program is strictly for research and energy production.
Iran's mixed messages also appeared geared toward pushing the plan's main backers into further talks, something those countries oppose as a delaying tactic.
In his address, ElBaradei also dismissed the growing calls for sanctions to dissuade Iran from its nuclear ambitions saying that they "too often hurt the most vulnerable and innocent."
He said the Security Council should instead focus on "conflict prevention and address the insecurities that lie behind many cases of proliferation such as mistrust and unresolved conflict."
Some experts say Iran has little reason to trust the West and for that reason may be in no hurry to cut a deal.
"Iran believes time is on their side for now," said Mustafa Alani, a regional analyst at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai.
The dispute allows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hard-line allies to claim the high ground as defenders of Iran's national dignity through its strides in nuclear technology. It also provides Ahmadinejad a chance to broaden support after June's disputed elections, because even his harshest opponents take pride in Iran's nuclear accomplishments.
In a posting on a government Web site, Ahmadinejad scolded the West for what he called a history of broken promises. Iran, he said, "looks at the talks with no trust."
On Monday, ElBaradei called for confidence building measures on all sides.
"The issue at stake remains that of mutual guarantees amongst the parties," ElBaradei said, adding "trust and confidence-building are an incremental process that requires focusing on the big picture and a willingness to take risks for peace."
Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, blasted ElBaradei for failing to cite Israel, which is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, for failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
"This regime (Israel) as the only non-party to the NPT in the Middle East is the main obstacle in establishing the nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East," he said, adding "As we have stressed time and again, Iran's nuclear program is, and has always been for peaceful purposes."
While Iran insists it is interested only in enriching uranium for use in a future network of nuclear reactors, it has amassed more than 3,300 pounds (1.500 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium — more than enough to arm a nuclear warhead.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who spoke to reporters in Kuala Lumpur, simply replied "No," when asked if his country had rejected the plan that would commit his country to ship out most of its enriched uranium.
Instead, he said Iran has three options to procure fuel for its reactor; to buy the fuel from other countries; to enrich the uranium domestically, or to accept the U.N.-brokered plan.
In contrast, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief envoy to the IAEA, said Iran wanted to purchase ready-made uranium from abroad for the research reactor.
"We want to buy the fuel from any supplier," he told The Associated Press, fending off repeated questions on whether this meant the rejection of the export plan.
Soltanieh's comments were the most concrete statement yet by a government official of what the Iranian government wanted.
But the U.S. and its allies are unlikely to accept anything substantially less than the original plan, which aimed to delay Iran's ability of making nuclear weapons by at least a year by divesting Iran of most of its enriched uranium and returning it as research reactor fuel.
"We are waiting for Iran to accept formally the agreement," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday. "We are waiting for this answer. If this answer is dilatory as it seems to be, we won't accept it."
If 70 percent of Iran's uranium is exported in one shipment — or at the most two shipments in quick succession — Tehran would need about a year to produce enough uranium to again have the stockpile it needs for one weapon.
It is relatively simple to turn fuel-grade uranium into weapons-grade material.
Ahmadinejad's government has also raised some red flags by indicating it will take decades before any Iranian nuclear network is in place, meaning Iran has no immediate use for the enriched uranium it has accumulated.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jfrAD7FF0odpgvyQtPQnIrnDCeOgD9BNLKMG0
Iran has said it wants the UN's nuclear watchdog to establish a committee to review a deal aimed at easing Western fears over its nuclear programme.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the country had passed a request to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) two days ago.
Mr Mottaki said Tehran had "some technical and economic considerations".
Under the plan, most of Iran's enriched uranium would be sent abroad to be turned into fuel rods for research use.
This is seen as a way for Iran to get the fuel it needs, while giving guarantees to the West that it will not be used for nuclear weapons.
Speaking to reporters at a meeting of foreign ministers from eight Islamic countries in Malaysia, Mr Mottaki said Iran had considered the proposals it had agreed with the IAEA and the US, France and Russia.
"We have some technical and economic considerations on that," he said.
"Two days ago, we passed our views and observations to the IAEA, so it is very much possible to establish a technical commission in order to review and reconsider all these issues."
The UN-brokered plan would require Iran to send about 1,200kg (2,600lb), or 70%, of its low-enriched uranium to Russia by the year's end for processing.
Subsequently, France would convert the uranium into fuel rods for use in a reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.
In the meantime, Mr Mottaki said, Iran would "continue enrichment" for its nuclear needs. Observers in Tehran say the government may not want to ship most of its enriched uranium in one go - a condition the Western powers may not accept.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8337192.stm
5. Iran to Seek Fuel Supply Guarantees in Next Round of Talks
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After holding three days of nuclear discussions with Western powers, Iran says it is ready for the next round of talks in order to ensure that its technical concerns regarding the issue of a guarantee for the supply of nuclear fuel are addressed.
Speaking to Press TV on Monday, Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh expressed the Islamic Republic's readiness to buy its needed nuclear fuel from global suppliers.
"We are ready to buy [the fuel] from any supplier under the full surveillance of the IAEA … as we bought from Argentina about 20 years ago with the cooperation of the IAEA. The core issue is assurance and guarantee for [the] supply of the fuel," Soltaniyeh said.
Following three days of nuclear negotiations between officials from Iran, the United States, Russia and France, Western powers put forward a proposal that Iran ship much of its enriched uranium abroad for reprocessing into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.
Soltaniyeh said the IAEA is mandated to fulfill Iran's request from suppliers, and called for the agency's cooperation in providing its needed enriched uranium in the form of fuel rods.
"The (International Atomic Energy) Agency is mandated to fulfill such peaceful and humanitarian request in accordance with articles I and II of the statue,” Soltaniyeh told Press TV.
He said, "This is a chance for fuel suppliers to prove their political will to enter into technical cooperation for such humanitarian projects."
Referring to a past nuclear cooperation with France during which Iran paid for its needed fuel and did not receive it, Soltaniyeh stressed that the fuel supply guarantee is the core concern for Iran.
"We had constructive preliminary discussions in Vienna from October 19th to 21st at the IAEA headquarters. We are ready for the next round of technical discussions in order to make sure that our technical concerns especially the issue of guarantees for the supply of fuel is taken into consideration," he explained.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=110253§ionid=351020104
Senior Iranian lawmakers yesterday rejected a UN-backed plan to ship much of the country’s uranium abroad for further enrichment, raising more doubts about the likelihood that Tehran will finally approve the deal.
The plan would requires Iran to send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium - around 70 percent of its stockpile - to Russia in one batch by the end of the year, easing concerns among the United States and its allies that the material would be used for a bomb.
After further enrichment in Russia, France would convert the uranium into fuel rods that would be returned to Tehran for use in a reactor that produces medical isotopes.
Iran has indicated that it may agree to send only part of its stockpile in several shipments. Should the talks fail to help Iran obtain the fuel from abroad, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium to the higher level needed to power the research reactor domestically.
The Tehran reactor needs uranium enriched to about 20 percent, higher than the 3.5 percent-enriched uranium Iran is producing for a nuclear power plant it plans to build in southwestern Iran. Enriching uranium to even higher levels can produce weapons-grade materials.
“We are totally opposed to the proposal to send 3.5 percent enriched uranium in return for 20 percent enriched fuel,’’ senior lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency as saying.
Boroujerdi, who heads the parliament’s National Security Committee, said the priority for Iran was to buy nuclear fuel and hold on to its own uranium. He also said there was no guarantee that Russia or France will keep to the deal and supply nuclear fuel to Iran if Tehran ships them its enriched uranium.
Kazem Jalali, another senior lawmaker, said Iran wants nuclear fuel first before agreeing to ship its enriched uranium stocks to Russia and France even if it decides to strike a deal.
“They need to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran first . . . the West is not trustworthy,’’ the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
Jalali said Iran needs fuel and putting conditions to deliver it for the research reactor is unacceptable.
“Countries possessing fuel are required, under international rules, to provide fuel for such reactors. Putting conditions is basically wrong,’’ he said.
Jalali said Iran holds a 10 percent share in a Eurodif nuclear plant in France purchased more than three decades earlier but is not allowed to get a gram of the uranium it produces.
“Iran is a shareholder in Eurodif but doesn’t enjoy its rights. This shows the French are not reliable,’’ Jalali said.
Areva, the state-run French nuclear company, has described Iran as a “sleeping partner’’ in Eurodif.
Available at: http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2009/11/01/in_iran_opposition_to_uranium_plan_grows/
The Russian ambassador to Tehran Alexander Sadovnikov said that the proposal of enriching Iran's low grade uranium abroad benefits Iran.
"Receiving Iran's low grade uranium for making reactor fuel is an honest proposal which will favor Iran and help solve the Iranian nuclear issue," the official IRNA news agency quoted the Russian ambassador as saying on Sunday.
The draft agreement, presented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggests to ship most of Iran's existing low-grade enriched uranium to Russia and France where it would be processed into fuel rods with a purity of 20 percent.
The higher-level enriched uranium would be transported back to Iran to be used in a research reactor in Tehran for the manufacture of medical radioisotopes.
Moscow has tried hard to make the talks fruitful, a need for rapid settlement of Iran's nuclear issue as a matter of importance for the security and stability of the region and contributing to the regional peace, Sadovnikov told IRNA.
The ambassador added that Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council fully supports Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities and would help develop this industry in Iran. His country has repeatedly announced that any threats and sanctions will only further complicate the situation.
Iran has sent an oral indication to IAEA asking for amendment of the draft agreement. The details of the amendment have not been published yet.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/01/content_12369627.htm
8. IAEA’s Offer Meets Teheran’s Needs – French Foreign Ministry
Itar-Tass News Agency
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The International Atomic Energy Agency’s offer to Iran meets that country’s needs, the French Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
“The proposed agreement in its present shape meets Iran’s demand for radioisotopic products for medical purposes,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
He recalled that the draft agreement with the Iranian side implied Teheran’s handover of 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched Uranium to Russia for its further enrichment to a level of 19.75 percent.
“This is another confidence-building instrument, in addition to the demands the international community put forward to be sure about the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program,” Valero said.
The French diplomat addressed Teheran with a fresh call for giving a formal reply to the IAEA. Earlier on Friday Paris made a similar statement to that effect. So far the Iranian authorities have offered only a verbal reply containing proposals for amending the draft agreement.
Available at: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14488429&PageNum=0
1. North Korea Says It Has Produced More Fuel for Nuclear Bombs
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North Korea announced Tuesday it has produced more plutonium for its atomic weapons programme, a day after threatening to "go its own way" unless Washington agrees to direct talks on the nuclear standoff.
The isolated communist country had "successfully completed reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods by the end of August" at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
"Noticeable successes have been made in turning the extracted plutonium weapon-grade for the purpose of bolstering up the nuclear deterrent," it said.
The comments indicated growing impatience at Washington's delay in accepting Pyongyang's offer of high-level bilateral talks.
On Monday its foreign ministry pressed the United States to agree to such talks, and said these could lead to a resumption of stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament negotiations.
"If the US is not ready to sit at a negotiating table with the DPRK (North Korea), it will go its own way," the ministry added.
Experts believe the 8,000 spent reactor fuel rods could produce enough plutonium for one or two nuclear bombs, in addition to the North's current stockpile which could perhaps be used to create six to eight weapons.
The North quit the six-party talks in April after the United Nations censured its long-range rocket launch, and vowed to restart the nuclear programme which it shut down under a 2007 six-party pact.
It conducted an atomic weapons test in May, the second since 2006.
In September the North also said it was in the final stages of an experimental highly enriched uranium programme -- a second way to make atomic weapons.
KCNA in a separate report Tuesday said the North was working hard to expand production of mineral resources including uranium. It said the uranium was intended to fuel a light-water reactor which is to be constructed.
Seoul officials quoted by Yonhap news agency confirmed Monday that the North has apparently reopened the plutonium reprocessing plant.
After months of bellicose moves including a series of missile tests, the North in August began making peace overtures and invited the US special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to visit Pyongyang.
In early October leader Kim Jong-Il told Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao his country was ready to return to six-party negotiations, but only after it has talked directly to the United States to improve "hostile relations."
The North has long sought direct high-level talks with the United States and is unenthusiastic about the multilateral framework which also involves South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
Washington says it is open to such talks but these would be limited to bringing Pyongyang back to the six-party framework. It says it has made no decision on any visit by Bosworth.
Many analysts suspect the North wants US recognition as a nuclear-armed state, possibly in return for guarantees of non-proliferation. Washington says it will never recognise a nuclear-armed North.
Pyongyang could also be trying to ease the impact of tougher United Nations sanctions imposed after the latest nuclear test.
China -- the North's sole major ally, leading trade partner and top energy supplier -- is often seen as crucial in pressuring the North.
But the International Crisis Group, in a report Tuesday, said Beijing is reluctant to tighten the screws on Pyongyang for fear of destabilising its regime and prompting a flood of refugees across the border.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1015584/1/.html
2. North Korea Appears to Have Restored Plutonium-Generating Plant: Officials
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea has apparently restored its facility used to produce weapons-grade plutonium at its main nuclear complex that had been mothballed under a six-nation accord, officials here said Monday.
"The reprocessing factory appears to have been restored to its earlier conditions," a senior defense official said, citing satellite photos that also showed a continuous stream of workers in and out of the site in Yongbyon, 90km north of Pyongyang.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/11/02/0401000000AEN20091102006900315.HTML
3. North Korea Says U.S. Must Make the Next Move in Nuclear Talks
Seonjin Cha and Sangim Han
(for personal use only)
North Korea said the United States must make a decision on talks between the two countries, a condition set by the regime in Pyongyang to rejoin multilateral negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program.
“If the U.S. is not ready to have a face-to-face meeting, we will go our own way,” the official Korean Central News Agency said, citing a foreign ministry spokesman. “It’s time for the U.S. to make a determination” as the North has already clarified its position.
The U.S. wants to bring North Korea back to multinational talks with China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. North Korea said in April that it was abandoning the six-party talks for good after the United Nations Security Council condemned the country for launching a missile over Japan. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon on May 25.
Since then, Kim Jong Il’s regime has shown signs of softening its stance.
Last month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spent three days in the North, where he said the nuclear issue occupied four of the 10 hours of discussions he had with leaders including Kim. During that visit, Kim said he would be willing to return to six-party talks, depending on the outcome of bilateral negotiations with the U.S.
The administration of President Barack Obama responded by saying it was willing to hold bilateral negotiations that lead North Korea to “complete denuclearization.”
Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korean policy, may visit Pyongyang late this month, Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri said last week, citing unidentified sources. U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly denied any decision had been made.
The North Korean government in a letter to the United Nations dated Oct. 1 said that dismantling its nuclear weapons is “unthinkable even in a dream,” and that it won’t disarm unless the United States does.
North Korea and the U.S. should sit “facing each other” to find out “a reasonable solution,” the KCNA quoted the foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
Last week, North Korean nuclear negotiator Ri Gun held talks with American counterpart Sung Kim in the U.S.
There was “no practical discussion” in the meeting with regard to setting up bilateral talks, KCNA said.
The U.S. and North Korea need to clear their “hostile relationship” before any meaningful progress can be made in the six-party talks, the news agency said.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=a_M72dxjNDAw
4. Seoul Wants North Korea's Denuclearization by 2012: Presidential Aide
Yonhap News Agency
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Seoul aims to denuclearize North Korea no later than 2012, the year set by Pyongyang for the country to become a prosperous and powerful nation, a top-level presidential aide in Seoul said Monday.
"We (the international community) have spent 16 years in dealing with North Korea ... but have failed to approach the core issue. We must set a target time frame," Kim Tae-hyo, presidential secretary for national security strategy, said at a seminar in Seoul.
Kim was highlighting several preconditions for President Lee Myung-bak's "grand bargain" proposal over the denuclearization of North Korea. His comment also suggests that Lee would seek to end the North's nuclear program before his five-year term ends in early 2013.
The year 2012 marks the birth centennial of the communist country's founder, Kim Il-sung, and the year when his son and current leader Kim Jong-il turns 70. Pyongyang has declared a goal of building a "great, prosperous and powerful" nation by then.
"The year 2012 should mark the abolishment of the North Korea's nuclear program, not the completion of the country's goal to become strong and prosperous," the aide said.
The grand bargain, first mentioned by Lee during his visit to the U.S. in September, envisions a package deal in which members of the six-party talks on ending the North's denuclearization provide it with security guarantees, massive economic aid and other incentives in return in a single-phased deal that does not necessitate further negotiations.
After months of provocations, highlighted by long-range rocket and nuclear tests, the communist North has sought to reach out to the outside world and invited Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, to visit Pyongyang.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/11/02/71/0401000000AEN20091102006700315F.HTML
1. Russia to Contribute $6.5M to Global Nuclear Security Fund
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Russia plans to contribute $6.5 million to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund (NSF) in 2010-2015, Russia’s envoy to the UN said.
The NSF is a voluntary funding mechanism established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to support, among others things, the implementation of nuclear security measures to prevent, detect and respond to nuclear terrorism.
“Russia has made a decision to allocate a large voluntary contribution to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund - $1.5 million in 2010 and $1 million annually in 2011-2015,” Russia’s envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin told a meeting of the UN General Assembly Monday, adding that he hoped the money would contribute to the strengthening of the system of nuclear safety.
The official also said that Russia contributed 23.6 million roubles (over $800,000) to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund in 2009 and would continue making voluntary contributions in line with prior agreements with the IAEA.
Available at: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/russia-to-contribute-65-mn-to-global-nuclear-security-fund_100269154.html
2. Russia-U.S. Weapons Talks on Track: Kremlin Adviser
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Russia and the United States are on track to sign a new deal to reduce their arsenals of nuclear weapons by the time a previous agreement expires next month, a Kremlin aide said at a policy conference in Morocco.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty known as START-1 runs out on December 5 and negotiators have been working to prepare a new detailed treaty to be signed by the two nations' leaders.
President Barack Obama and Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev agreed in July on the outlines of a preliminary deal to replace the landmark 1991 treaty but negotiators are still working through several technical issues.
"We are still optimistic about ... signing a new agreement this year which will imply huge progress for the world in this matter," Arkady Dvorkovich, a top adviser to Medvedev, said at a World Policy Conference in Marrakesh.
"We have a very good and constructive dialogue right now on this matter. I think the obstacles are mostly technical and we can complete in time," he said late on Saturday.
Talks on the pact may have been facilitated by President Barack Obama's decision to roll back the plans of his predecessor George W. Bush for a missile shield in Eastern Europe by deploying a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5A00O520091101
3. Turkey's PM: First Give Up Nuclear Weapons to Impose Iran Sanctions
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Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that countries opposed to Iran's atomic programme should give up their own nuclear weapons and described the sanctions imposed on his neighbour as arrogant.
He also said he wanted the Middle East, and then the whole world, to rid itself of nuclear weapons.
During a trip to Iran this week, Erdogan said he backed Tehran's right to peaceful nuclear energy and called its approach in nuclear talks with Western powers positive.
"... those who criticise Iran's nuclear programme continue to possess the same weapons," said Erdogan, according to an advance copy, carried by state-run Anatolian news agency, of a televised address he made at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).
"I think that those who take this stance, who want these arrogant sanctions, need to first give these (weapons) up. We shared this opinion with our Iranian friends, our brothers."
Erdogan also said Turkey wants the Middle East, and in time the world, to be free of nuclear weapons. "We want to live in a region completely purged of nuclear weapons. We want to live in a world in which nuclear weapons no longer exist," he said.
Erdogan has tried to expand Turkey's influence in the Middle East and make it a regional power since his party took office in 2002.
Erdogan also reiterated previous remarks that Turkey and Iran have set themselves a target of more than tripling annual bilateral trade by 2011 to $30 billion.
Iran says it enriches uranium for civilian applications and that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.
However, most experts estimate that Israel has at least between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, largely based on information leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in the 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a former worker at the country's Dimona nuclear reactor.
Israel, which has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year history, has not denied having nuclear weapons, but has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and open its facilities for IAEA perusal.
Israel also often threatens Iran an attack over its nuclear sites.
Available at: http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=49298
In the ocean of Australia's mineral exports, uranium makes up more than a drop - but not much more. The minerals industry shipped about $160 billion in commodities last financial year, and less than 1 per cent of that was uranium. But the story of uranium has never been just about the money. And as the global dash for supply heats up, whipped up by predictions of a doubling in the world's nuclear power generators in the next 40 years, one question is set to become more pressing: what will happen to the politics of yellowcake?
For decades, the uranium industry has been said to be on the cusp of a boom. In the 1970s, for instance, and more recently, prices have risen sharply. In the 1980s, the anticipated surge in global nuclear power ran up against the tragedy of Chernobyl. But for the industry's boosters, the coming decades look like the real deal.
The Government's official forecaster, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, is among the bulls. There are about 436 operational nuclear power plants in the world. On ABARE'S tally, another 64 will be commissioned within just the next six years. And, says Ziggy Switkowski, the chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, there are likely to be 1000 nuclear power plants by mid-century.
''There is a revival of interest in nuclear energy around the world,'' Switkowski says. ''And [the current] 440 [plants] are likely to be replaced by then as well. That suggests a continuing increase in demand for uranium.''
What makes nuclear power a potentially awkward fit for a country such as Australia is what makes it attractive to emerging economies such as China and India. There, deep wells of national savings exist to pay the hefty capital costs needed to build plants. Once built, the ongoing costs of running the plants are relatively low, with the cost of the yellowcake contributing about 5 per cent to 8 per cent of the running of a plant. And nuclear power will help countries reduce their carbon emissions.
India has 23 reactors either operating or under construction, and officials have flagged that the country plans to aggressively pursue the power source. By 2050, India hopes to supply as much as a quarter of its energy needs from nuclear power.
By 2014, the Chinese are expected to build another 21 power plants, on ABARE's figures. And in developed markets already reliant on nuclear energy - such as Japan and Korea - the existing plants are aging. Together, the two countries are expected to commission another 14 plants by 2014.
To be sure, the view that nuclear energy is enjoying a renaissance is far from universally shared. David Noonan, a nuclear-free campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, says nuclear energy remains unviable without massive slabs of state support. Only China and India, he says, have the capital to fund expansion programs. And other countries, such as Russia, have found alternative sources of energy much cheaper to come by. ''There is only one reactor being built in the western world,'' he says. ''And that's in Finland.''
Nevertheless, the demand for supply from the rest of the world has been building, particularly in the past three years. In Australia, which has about 40 per cent of the world's recoverable uranium at today's prices, spending on exploration has risen from about $20 million a year in 2004 to more than $200 million last year. Mine production is expected to increase by about 6 per cent a year. As a result, export revenue from uranium is projected to rise from $940 million this year to about $1.7 billion in 2014, says ABARE.
With such bullish predictions for world growth, the increase in supply is just what would be expected. But uranium is not a normal market. Government policy deliberately excludes miners in Australia, for example, from sending their yellowcake to India, one of the largest potential customers. All countries receiving uranium exports from Australia need to sign agreements that attempt to lock them into not using the material to power military resources. But India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would prevent the use of civilian nuclear material in the development of weapons, and Australia has resisted a supply agreement.
Russia, another potential billion-dollar trade partner, is still waiting in the wings. The Howard government signed a uranium supply agreement with the country in 2007. A year ago, however, a Labor-dominated committee recommending against ratifying the agreement, against the advice of the Government's own advisory body, the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office.
Despite ASNO's assurance that Russia was moving towards separating its civilian and military nuclear operations, and would allow inspectors in to monitor the civilian sites, the committee remained uncomfortable. ''While the committee notes ASNO's assurances, the committee also notes that … IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards failed to discover the efforts of Iraq and Libya to develop nuclear weapons,'' the committee's report said. For ASNO's critics in the nuclear non-proliferation movement, the report vindicated their view that Australia had little control over what happened to uranium once it leaves the country. Against Russian threats of an economic backlash, the Government has been sitting on the treaty since.
It is unclear, however, whether Government opinion has moved since that report, drawn up in the context of Russia's 2008 conflict with Georgia. ''The conflict undoubtedly had some influence on that committee,'' says Michael Angwin, the executive director of the Australian Uranium Association.
Last month, the same committee reported on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and had little to say about Australia's existing uranium export treaties. Noonan says the committee deliberately chose to focus on non-proliferation, at the expense of uranium exports, to secure a unanimous viewpoint.
Another result of the country's long political unease with the uranium sector is the unique patchwork of regulations in different states. The federal Labor Party shed its ''three mines'' policy in 2007; this July, the former anti-nuclear campaigner and present Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, approved the country's fourth mine, FourMile, in South Australia.
The policies of the states and territories, however, remain more ambivalent. South Australia permits both uranium mining and exploration, as does the Northern Territory. The Territory's resources minister, Kon Vatskalis, made much last week of his dedicated Chinese and Japanese investment strategy. ''We are expecting a number of significant announcements over the coming months,'' Vatskalis said, citing prospective investment deals across a number of commodities including iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, and uranium.
In Western Australia, the state's Coalition Government has rescinded the ban on uranium mining. The Labor Opposition is committed to reinstating the ban. And in Queensland, the Labor Government permits exploration but not mining.
A flipside of Labor's past angst over uranium is that the contours of the industry make it ripe for expansion. When Labor slapped its three-mines policy on the sector in 1984, a number of fledgling uranium projects were mothballed. These, many of which would have been made uneconomic by the fall in the uranium price in the 1980s, are now ripe for development.
The issue of foreign investment remains. The top end of the industry - BHP's Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, Beverley in South Australia, Ranger in the Northern Territory, and the Kintyre and Yeelirrie depots in Western Australia - will continue to dominate Australia's exports.
But at the smaller end, a host of explorers and smaller projects are attracting interests from foreign investors, mostly from China, Japan and Korea. Indeed, insiders say, just about every smaller project in the country has had some contact with a foreign investor.
For smaller miners and explorers, tying up an investment with a potential customer can be much cheaper than trying to raise money through the stockmarket. ''The sort of funding arrangements that potential users could offer is at a premium for what could be obtained through equity arrangements,'' says Mike Fewster, the executive director at Energy and Minerals Australia, which has projects about 250 kilometres from Kalgoorlie.
The initial interest from China started to heat up about 2006. By June 2007, Sinosteel had taken a 60 per cent stake in South Australia's Crocker Well project, alongside Pepinnini. More recently, China Guangdong Nuclear Power announced plans to buy 70 per cent of Energy Metals, a Perth-based explorer. Chinese investment has supported feasibility studies for a rare earths, phosphate, and uranium deposit in Central Australia for Arafura Resources.
There is talk that a number of other deals have been sounded out with Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board. ''There is no doubt that the Chinese and the Japanese are becoming much more interested,'' Angwin says.
Others note, however, that for all the talk of Chinese investment, there have been few agreements finalised. Noonan says there will be little need for smaller projects if the growth plans of the existing major mines and projects go ahead. If the expansion of BHP's Olympic Dam proceeds as proposed, uranium production will increase from 4000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes.
Warwick Grigor, the managing director of advisory firm Far East Capital, says he knows of about six cases in which potential Chinese investors have negotiated memorandums of understanding with uranium firms, only to back out of the projects. Grigor is even ready with a motive. ''In a lot of cases the Chinese have used these MOUs to get access to information and geological assessments,'' he says. ''I'm sure there's been a quite conscious data collection.''
In the future, he says, Chinese investors may be more interested in African projects, and the next wave of Australian investment could well come from Korea.
''In the past 12 months [Korean investors] have started to come out of the woodwork,'' Grigor says.
''Their government is taking quite a long-term view. They are mostly concerned about whether they can secure long-term suppliers.''
One question being asked in Canberra, however, is what will happen when the various smaller projects and explorers in the industry want to start mining. And nobody, as yet, has an answer to that.
Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/uranium-industry-at-the-crossroads-20091101-hrlu.html
1. Czech CEZ Says 3 Bid for Temelin Nuclear Tender
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Three companies have placed preliminary bids to build upto five nuclear reactors for Czech power firm CEZ (CEZPsp.PR), CEZ said on Tuesday, in what is expected to be the country's biggest-ever procurement deal.
CEZ Chief Executive Martin Roman confirmed that Russia's Atomstroyexport, the Westinghouse Electric unit of Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and France's Areva (CEPFi.PA) (CEPFi.PA) were the only bidders.
"We can confirm that no one else has bid apart from firms that declared they would bid," Roman said.
CEZ is expected to receive final bids toward the end of 2010 with a decision in late 2011 for the deal, which analysts say may be worth around 500 billion crowns ($27.93 billion).
In August, CEZ launched a tender for the construction of two nuclear reactor units at its Temelin power plant with an option to order upto three more nuclear units.
Analysts expect CEZ to build one of those blocks at its nuclear plant in Dukovany in the eastern part of the country and the other two in neighboring Slovakia's Jaslovske Bohunice power plant.
But some politicians have warned that awarding a deal to Atomstroyexport pose an energy security risk for the former communist bloc nation.
In central, eastern, and southeastern Europe, a number of countries are eyeing plans to build new reactors or to extend the lives of existing ones to meet growing demand and replace ageing power capacity.
CEZ has predicted the new units would be built in about 15 years, following an administrative process lasting about seven to eight years.
CEZ already runs two units at Temelin with combined capacity of 2,000 megawatts, along with four 440-500 megawatt units at the Dukovany nuclear plant in the east of the country.
The power group produced 26.6 terrawatt hours of nuclear power in 2008, while its coal plants produced 35.9 TWh of its total 64 TWh output that year.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/utilitiesSector/idUSL318146920091103
2. Bulgaria Confirms EC Permission for Nuclear Plant Construction
Sofia News Agency
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Bulgaria Foreign Affairs Minister, Rumiana Jeleva, stated Monday that Bulgaria has permission to construct Belene Nuclear Power Plant from the European Commission.
Jeleva, speaking after her participation in the “Energy Diplomacy and the EU Integrated Policy for Energy and Climate Change” conference in Sofia, said that “the one positive thing regarding the existing permission for constructing Belene NPP, is that there is such a thing.”
Regarding the pipeline Burgas-Alexandropolis natural gas pipeline Jeleva pointed out that there is new impetus to speak about the project, “especially after meeting of PM Borisov with our Greek partners.” It became clear, she said that the new Greek Government has the same environmental and the technological concerns as Bulgaria about implementing the project.
Concerning a possible new gas crisis, Jeleva said that problems can always be expected as Bulgaria is currently 100 % dependent from outside energy sources.
In her speech to the conference Jeleva said "Particular attention should turn to the specific features of Russian energy policy and Russia's role in European and global energy security," she added that her Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party would remain committed to the Nabucco pipeline project.
Jeleva concluded that “energy security requires the nascent Bulgarian energy diplomacy to take a more thorough look at the innovative energy technologies offered by the USA.”
Available at: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=109516
3. China's Nuclear Power Giant Buys From Private Businesses
Xinhua News Agency
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China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGN) announced Monday that it has signed contracts with 30 private enterprises to purchase 1 billion yuan (146 million U.S. dollars) worth of nuclear power equipments.
This is the first time that CGN, the only nuclear power enterprise in China with 129.8-billion-yuan gross asset, purchased from domestic private sector, said Huang Yicai, manager of CGN Zhejiang Province nuclear power project.
All the 30 companies are based in Zhejiang.
Most of the nuclear power equipments in China are manufactured by state-owned enterprises whose capacity has become inadequate with the rapid development of the clean energy industry, Huang said.
"Our cooperation with the private sector aims not only to supplement CGN's manufacturing capacity but also to boost the development of private enterprises and forge an industrial chain," Huang said.
In addition to the 1 billion-yuan deal, the group will soon sign 4-billion-yuan worth of contracts with private enterprises in Zhejiang, Huang said.
Nuclear energy accounts for less than 2 percent of China's overall power consumption, according to Huang.
Available at: http://english.sina.com/business/2009/1102/282187.html
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