1. Designation of A.Q. Khan and Associates for Nuclear Proliferation Activities
U.S. Department of State
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Today, January 12, 2009, the Department of State announced that sanctions will be imposed on 13 individuals and three private companies for their involvement in the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. This announcement comes after a multi-year U.S. government review of the available information pertaining to the activities of this network.
We believe these sanctions will help prevent future proliferation-related activities by these private entities, provide a warning to other would-be proliferators, and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to using all available tools to address proliferation-related activities.
Dr. A.Q. Khan led an extensive international network for the proliferation of nuclear equipment and know-how that provided “one stop shopping” for countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons. He and his associates provided Iran and Libya with centrifuge components, designs, and, in some cases, complete centrifuges. The United States also believes that Khan and his associates provided centrifuge designs, equipment, and technology to North Korea. Dr. Khan also provided Libya with nuclear weapon designs. With the assistance of Khan’s network, countries could leapfrog the slow, incremental stages of other nuclear weapons development programs. In 2004, following Libya’s welcome decision to renounce its nuclear program, the United States removed from Libya items it had received from the network.
The network’s actions have irrevocably changed the proliferation landscape and have had lasting implications for international security. Governments around the world, including Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, and Malaysia, worked closely with the United States to investigate and shut down the network. Governments have also joined together to put in place United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 to criminalize proliferation and have worked cooperatively to establish the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to enhance international tools to interdict and prevent trade in sensitive technologies.
Many of Dr. Khan’s associates are either in custody, being prosecuted, or have been convicted of crimes. Dr. Khan publicly acknowledged his involvement in the network in 2004, although he later retracted those statements. While we believe the A.Q. Khan network is no longer operating, countries should remain vigilant to ensure that Khan network associates, or others seeking to pursue similar proliferation activities, will not become a future source for sensitive nuclear information or equipment.
Complete statement available at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/01/113774.htm
2. Nuclear monitoring pact between UN watchdog and US enters into force
UN News Centre
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An Additional Protocol to the nuclear safeguards agreement between the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United States that boosts access to nuclear information and sites has now entered into force, making the US the last of the five nuclear-weapon States party to a key global non-proliferation pact to fulfil this obligation.
The Additional Protocol entered into force yesterday when US Ambassador Gregory Schulte formally handed over the notification of the completion of the country’s ratification procedures to IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
With the entry into force of the US’ Additional Protocol, all five nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have fulfilled their undertaking, assumed at the time of approval by the IAEA Board of Governors of the Model Additional Protocol in 1997, to conclude such agreements, the Agency said in a news release.
The Vienna-based IAEA said the entry into force of the US’s Additional Protocol contributes to efforts aimed at achieving universal application of this key document which grants the Agency complementary inspection authority to that provided in underlying safeguards agreements.
A principal aim is to enable the IAEA inspectorate to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities. Under the Protocol, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites.
To date, 118 countries have signed an Addition Protocol with the IAEA and 89 countries have ratified it.
Available at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29488&Cr=iaea&Cr1
1. Barack Obama signals that door is open to talks with Iran
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Barack Obama signalled a new era in relations with Iran yesterday and vowed to take swift action on the Middle East peace process.
In his most wide-ranging television interview since his election, the president-elect made clear the scale of the challenges confronting him at home and abroad.
He vowed to act immediately on the US economy and the Middle East crisis and promised to engage with Iran. Mr Obama will be sworn in as president next Wednesday, Australian time.
Last week, William Perry, a former Clinton-era defence secretary, said Mr Obama was likely to face a "serious crisis" with Iran over its nuclear ambitions in his first year in office.
Mr Obama did not disagree with that analysis yesterday, saying: "Iran is going to be one of our biggest challenges." Tehran was exporting terror through Hamas and Hezbollah, and "pursuing a nuclear weapon that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East".
However, Mr Obama said, the US had to take a "new approach" to Iran, with a "new emphasis on being willing to talk". "We anticipate we're going to have to move swiftly in that area."
Mr Obama has faced growing criticism in recent days over his refusal to comment on the Israeli offensive in Gaza. He has defended his silence by saying US foreign policy can be directed by only one president at a time.
He vowed yesterday to engage with the Middle East "on day one", but indicated his policy towards Israel would not substantially change from that of the Bush administration. He stood by his comment during a visit in July to the southern Israeli town of Sderot - a frequent target of Hamas rockets: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."
Asked if he would repeat that remark now, he said: "That's a basic principle of any country - that they've got to protect their citizens."
Asked if he would make a clean break with George W. Bush on Middle East policy, Mr Obama said: "If you look not just at the Bush administration but what happened under the Clinton administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach."
Available at: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24903345-2703,00.html
US secretary of state designate Hillary Clinton vowed Tuesday that incoming President Barack Obama's administration will try a "new approach" toward Iran by engaging it diplomatically.
Clinton, who gave no immediate commitment that she would personally engage Iranian leaders if she is confirmed, said a new approach was needed because the one pursued by President George W. Bush's administration has not worked.
The Bush administration refused to engage in negotiations with Iran before it abandons its pursuit of uranium enrichment, which Washington fears could be used to build an atomic bomb.
"The incoming administration views with great concern the role that Iran is playing in the world," Clinton told a Senate confirmation hearing before Obama assumes office in one week.
She spoke of "its alleged sponsorship of terrorism, its continuing interference with the functioning of other governments, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons."
The new administration will try to do "everything we can" through diplomacy, the use of sanctions, through creating better coalitions with other countries concerned about Iran's alleged drive to build nuclear weapons, she said.
"We are not taking any option off the table at all," Clinton said, apparently alluding to the use of military might. "But we will pursue a new, perhaps different approach" that will serve as the cornerstone of what the Obama administration believes "is an attitude toward engagement that might bear fruit," Clinton said.
"We have no illusions" that engagement might produce results, Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But she recalled that Obama has said "that we're going to be trying new approaches, because what we've tried has not worked. They are closer to nuclear weapons capacity today than they were."
In reply to questions from senators, Clinton said it was too early to know whether she would conduct personal diplomacy with the Iranians or whether the United States would open a diplomatic post there called an "interests section."
Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=64961
3. Iran tells Obama: Don't repeat false U.S. charges
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Iran called on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Monday not to repeat what it said were false accusations levelled against the Islamic Republic by the outgoing administration in Washington.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and President George W. Bush has spearheaded a drive to isolate Tehran internationally. Tehran denies the charge.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman also suggested Tehran would respond in an "appropriate and timely" way to any change in U.S. behaviour towards the country, which is embroiled in a row with the West over its disputed nuclear plans.
Iran, which has not had diplomatic ties with the United States in three decades, has reacted cautiously to Obama's election victory, saying it is waiting to see whether his presidency will herald real change in U.S. foreign policy.
Obama, who takes office on January 20, last week said he views Iran as a "genuine threat" but still favours initiating a dialogue with it. On Sunday, he said he will take a new approach towards Tehran that will emphasise respect for the Iranian people and spell out what the United States expects of its leaders.
"We have to see whether or not this change in orientation (by Obama) is in practice and whether it will bring about fundamental change in the behaviour and stance of America in relation to Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told a news conference.
He said Obama should not "repeat past statements and instances whose falsehood has been demonstrated by Iran," a reference to U.S. accusations about Tehran's nuclear plans and other issues -- although he did not mention specific charges.
"This is a very important point and undoubtedly Iran will undertake an appropriate and timely measure proportionate with the new U.S. behaviour and action," Qashqavi said.
Obama said on Sunday he was concerned about the Islamic Republic's support of the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah and about Iran's nuclear enrichment, which he said could trigger a Middle East arms race.
Washington also accuses Iran of backing militants in Iraq, another charge Tehran denies.
In a shift from Bush's policies, Obama has said he would seek much broader engagement with Iran, saying he was prepared to offer it economic incentives to stop its nuclear programme but also that tougher sanctions could be imposed if it refused.
Professor Mohammad Marandi, who heads North American Studies at Tehran University, said he did not believe this would make Iran stop its enrichment activities.
Iran says its programme is aimed at producing electricity so that the world's fourth largest crude producer can export more of its oil and gas.
"Iran is adamant to pursue its nuclear rights ... I don't think they are going to be ready to halt enrichment," he said. "Obama has to recognise that Iran doesn't need American incentives."
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKTRE50B23R20090112?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
4. Report: U.S. rejected Israeli plea to attack Iran
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President Bush rejected several Israeli requests last year for weapons and permission for a potential airstrike inside Iran, the author of an investigative report told CNN.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists Iran's nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes.
Israel approached the White House in early 2008 with three requests for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex, said New York Times reporter David Sanger. His article appears in the newspaper on Sunday.
According to Sanger, Israel wanted specialized bunker-busting bombs, equipment to help refuel planes making flights into Iran and permission to fly over Iraq to reach the major nuclear complex at Natanz, the site of Iran's only known uranium enrichment plant.
The White House "deflected" the first two requests and denied the last, Sanger said.
"They feared that if it appeared that the United States had helped Israel strike Iran, using Iraqi airspace, that the result in Iraq could be the expulsion of the American troops (from Iraq)," he said.
Bush, instead, persuaded Israeli officials to not proceed with the attack by sharing with them some details of covert U.S. operations aimed at sabotaging Iran's nuclear ambitions, Sanger said.
The ongoing operations are designed to undermine Iran's ability to produce weapons-grade fuel and designs it needs to produce a workable nuclear weapon, the newspaper said.
"We know that the U.S. has been trying to conduct covert industrial espionage, if you will, against Iran's nuclear program for many years," said CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. "[They have been] going to the suppliers, going other places; trying to make sure that things get messed up, if you will; that parts may not be what they should be; that certain processes may not work right. Anything that they can do to jam the work to delay the program."
Sanger said he based his report on conversations with intelligence officials, none of whom would speak on the record because of the topic's sensitivity.
"I suspect the Bush administration probably isn't going to comment very much on the details of this story, given the nature of this kind of intelligence operation and the sensitivity of the relationship with Israel," he said.
Sanger said President-elect Barack Obama, who said during the campaign he wants to engage in dialogue with Iran, now inherits the operation.
"He has got to figure out how to square the circle of having direct talks with the country while these are going on, or he could elect, I imagine, to modify this program or suspend it," Sanger said.
In his first post-election news conference, Obama said a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable." He also said he would help mount an international effort to prevent it from happening.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is for energy purposes only. It has been engaged in an escalating war of words with Israel, whom it accuses of trying to destabilize the republic.
Israel has said it will not rule out military action to halt Iran's nuclear aspirations.
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/11/iran.israel.nuclear/
Outgoing White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley warned that Iran will be the biggest Middle East challenge for the Obama administration.
“Negotiations with Iran, as some have proposed, without leverage on Iran will not produce a change in Iranian behavior or advance U.S. interests,” Hadley, one of the longest-serving national security advisers, said on Wednesday.
President-elect Obama has said in the past that he may be willing to reverse the Bush administration’s policy by offering direct talks with Iran. He said he would offer economic incentives for Iran to stop its nuclear program but has also warned that sanctions could be strengthened if Iran refused.
The Bush administration has aimed to impose tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran to stop its nuclear program, which the United States and its allies believe is for producing weapons and not for civilian purposes, as Iran has stated.
Hadley, in a farewell speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that Bush is leaving Obama “with significantly increased leverage on Iran.”
“The issue is how the new team will use this leverage to produce a different Iranian policy on its nuclear program, terrorism and Middle East peace,” he added.
Hadley also said the North Korean nuclear disarmament talks will provide an early challenge for the Obama administration.
“North Korea will test the new administration by once again trying to split the six parties and re-negotiate,” Hadley said, referring to the deal struck by the United States, South and North Korea, Japan, China and Russia for North Korea to give up its nuclear program in return for aid and concessions.
However, the process has stalled over how to verify North Korea’s nuclear activities, amid concerns that North Korea has a hidden uranium enrichment program. The nuclear disarmament has been one of the top priorities for the Bush administration, but the challenge to complete that initiative will be transferred to Obama. The Bush administration and the other negotiators will likely not be able to agree on a verification formula with North Korea before Obama takes office.
While Obama will be tested by Iran and North Korea, his first priority is to stabilize Pakistan, a fledgling democracy that Hadley argues has become a victim of terrorism. Winning the war in Afghanistan will largely depend on the situation in Pakistan, Hadley said.
If extremists succeed in destabilizing Pakistan, the resulting chaos will threaten the entire region, Hadley warned. Pakistan has an increasingly turbulent border region with Afghanistan.
“We recognize that Pakistan faces enormous economic, political and security challenges,” he said. “But we also understand that Pakistan has a better chance of confronting these challenges with a freely elected democratic government.”
Available at: http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/hadley-iran-is-biggest-middle-east-threat-2009-01-07.html
1. Brazil to produce enriched uranium on industrial scale
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Brazil will produce enriched uranium from next month in a factory in the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Nuclear Industries (INB) said Tuesday.
Brazil will use technology developed by the Brazilian Marine Technology Center in Sao Paulo (CTMSP) and the Institute of Energy and Nuclear Research (IPEN) to produce enriched uranium, according to Samuel Fayad, a high-ranking official at INB.
It will become the ninth country in the world to master the enrichment process of the mineral.
“The big breakthrough is that in future, we do not depend on external services for an important technology,” he told Agencia Brasil, Brazil's state news agency.
INB expects to produce all of the enriched uranium used in Angra 1 and 20 percent in Angra 2 by 2012, the two reactors at Brazil's sole nuclear power plant.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/14/content_10655762.htm
2. Brussels warns Slovakia against reopening nuclear plant
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The European Commission warned Slovakia Monday that its decision to reactivate an old nuclear reactor runs counter to EU law and was "not an option."
If the Slovakian government reactivates the Bohunice nuclear plant "that would be a clear violation" of the treaty which Bratislava signed to become an EU member, said commission spokesman Ferran Tarradellas.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said earlier in the day that his government would restart a nuclear reactor at the plant unless Russian gas supplies are restored to Europe on Monday.
The Soviet-type nuclear reactor at the Jaslovske Bohunice plant in western Slovakia was shut down on December 31 in line with the former communist country's pledge to the EU ahead of Slovak accession in May 2004.
The moves to restart it have drawn an angry reaction from neighbouring Austria but another neighbour, the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency, has been more lenient.
"For us the reopening (of the nuclear reactor) is not an option," Tarradellas stressed.
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs was to meet Slovakian Energy Minister Lubomir Jahnatek in Brussels later Monday to discuss the issue.
"We are not meeting them to tell them that we agree with a reactivation. That is impossible from a legal point of view as it runs contrary to European Union law," said Tarradellas.
Slovakia, which depends on Russia for 98 percent of natural gas imports, sent in via Ukraine, declared a state of energy emergency last Tuesday to economise on its gas reserves, estimated to last for six days.
The restrictions have forced large Slovak companies such as French carmaker PSA and its South Korean rival Kia Motors to halt production.
Slovak officials fear the pressure in the local gas pipelines could fall to such a level that it would no longer be possible to supply gas to eastern Slovak households during the extremely severe winter.
Russia and Ukraine are involved in a bitter wrangle over payments for Russian gas which has cut supplies to Europe via a key pipeline through Ukraine.
EU officials were meeting Russian and Ukrainian officials in Brussels Monday in a bid to solve the dispute and get the tap turned back on.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g1lzAN3MNfSXIehvR8LrXoVeYdfQ
Bulgaria might be forced to restart a nuclear power reactor it shut in 2006 if the cut-off in Russia gas supplies drags on, Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said on Monday.
The Balkan country, one of the hardest-hit in the Moscow-Kiev gas price dispute, has been able to cover the rise in power demand as many consumers switched to electric heaters and does not need additional power capacity for now, Stanishev said.
"We have informed the European Commission that if the gas crisis continues we would be faced with a situation where we would need to restart one of the shut nuclear reactors," he told parliament which held an extraordinary meeting over the gas cut.
Stanishev referred to two 440 megawatt Soviet-era units at Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant, Kozloduy.
Sofia closed down the two reactors at the end of 2006 as a condition to becoming a European Union member. Kozloduy has two remaining reactors at 1,000 MW each.
Slovakia, which last week declared a state of emergency, also plans to restart a nuclear power unit it shut down at the end of 2008.
The government in Bratislava said on Monday it would give the order for the restart of its Bohunice plant, criticised by neighbouring Austria as unsafe, if Monday's talks in Brussels did not give assurances of gas supply resumption.
Nuclear industry officials in Sofia said Bulgaria needed a green light from Brussels to restart one of the shut reactors and at least 30 days to prepare the unit for operations.
Stainshev said daily electricity consumption had jumped to nearly 7,000 MW and Bulgaria kept exporting 632 MW, mainly to Greece and the western Balkans.
Bulgaria has capacity to produce another 1,100 MW of power from hydro and thermal-power plants but that would not be enough to cover demand if the gas disruption continued for longer, Stanishev said.
The cut-off in gas supplies left hundreds of thousands without heat for several days in freezing weather last week and forced dozens of factories across eastern Europe to shut down.
Heat has been restored since Friday after utilities switched to alternative fuels.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idINLC35253220090112?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0
India on Thursday said it will scale up nuclear energy production to 60,000 megawatts by 2030 after signing the pending N-deals with more countries.
"It is our expectation to achieve generation of 60,000 MW of nuclear energy by 2030. The earlier target was 20,000 MW by 2020. The expectation has been increased with the kind of opportunities we are having now with more N-deals coming up for signing," Shyam Saran, Special Envoy to Prime Minister on the Nuclear Deal, told reporters here.
Saran said India has reached an agreement with Kazakhstan, Russia, France and there were letter of intent for generation of 10,000 MW of nuclear power in collaboration with the US.
"There are a large number of players and the capacity is going to be large," he said.
Saran said the Indian nuclear programme had for the last 40 years been intertwined between strategic and civilian programmes, which had been a bottleneck for private players to participate.
"Now India has prepared a separation plan, which would be completed by 2014. Until a complete separation takes place, bringing in private sector may create certain difficulty," he said.
The government, Saran said, would soon amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1962 to enable private participation in the civil nuclear programme that the Act had originally barred.
"The government doesn't have a closed mind on private participation in the nuclear programme. But the government is cautious about it, as it is a sensitive subject. It would take a while before allowing private participation," he said.
Available at: http://www.timeschennai.com/index.php?mod=article&cat=Business&article=12584
1. Uranium deal: NPCIL to ink pact with Kazakhstan
The Wall Street Journal
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Close on the heels of its agreement with a French nuclear major, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., or NPCIL, is likely to sign a three-year contract with Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom to get natural uranium stock for its pressurised heavy water reactors which will be under IAEA safeguards.
The agreement will be a part of the Indo-Kazakhstan Nuclear Cooperation pact which is expected to be signed on 23 January during the President Nursultan Nazabayev’s visit to India, NPCIL sources said, adding negotiations are on.
Under the proposed agreement, at least 120 tonnes of uranium will be imported from Kazakhsatan by NPCIL.
NPCIL had recently signed an agreement with French private major AREVA for 300 tonnes of uranium. It is also working with a Russian firm to import 2,000 tonnes of uranium so that India has enough stockpile to run all its plants which will be under International Atomic Energy Agency’s, or IAEA safeguards.
To ensure uninterrupted fuel for all those reactors under safeguards, NPCIL chairman and managing director S.K. Jain had recently said the corporation will be investing in uranium mines in Kazakhstan and Russia.
The first of the imported uranium is likely to be used for the newly constructed Rajasthan Atomic Power Plants units 5 and 6, which comes under the separation plan, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the department of atomic energy is working on details of India-specific safeguards agreement and additional protocol with the IAEA which are pre-requisite for the operationalisation of the nuclear commerce with India by any country. India had earlier signed civil nuclear co-operation agreement with US, France and Russia.
Available at: http://www.livemint.com/2009/01/12150615/Uranium-deal-NPCIL-to-ink-pac.html
2. Poland and US fight nuclear material trafficking
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An agreement between Poland and the United States regarding the deterrence, detection and interdiction of nuclear materials, known as the “Second Line of Defense” program, has been signed by the US Ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, and the Polish Deputy Ministers of the Interior and Finance.
In accordance with the US’ National Nuclear Security Administration’s program, Poland will receive new equipment to detect radioactive materials at border crossings. The program also provides education for border guards and customs officials.
“For the last ten years, thanks to the Second Line of Defense program, we have been able to strengthen the possibilities for many countries’ detection and prevention capabilities regarding radioactive material,” stated Ashe.
The Ambassador added that the new agreement simply intensifies the US and Poland’s cooperation in this area. “The threat of smuggling radioactive material by terrorists is not a figment of Hollywood’s imagination – it really can happen,” added Ashe.
“We have come upon a superb project which gives us the chance to enhance security not only in Poland but also on a global scale,” said Deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration, Adam Rapacki. He added that thanks to cooperation with the US, Polish border guards and customs officials were involved in a large action that isolated radioactive material on Polish soil in the 1990s.
“One would think that this is an imaginary phenomenon, one for the movies, but, I have to say that I personally lead such operations throughout the ’90s in which we seized numerous quantities of radioactive material – uranium and radioactive cesium particles specifically . Then, there were no sophisticated controls at borders, so today we have decided upon increased security measures,” assured Rapacki.
Deputy Finance Minister and head of customs, Robert Kapica, added that Poland is in a position to help trans-border threats and is committed to fighting against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Kapica stated that Poland joined the Second Line of Defense program when the International Atomic Energy Agency started to note the increase in incidents relating to the illegal transfer of nuclear materials across borders.
Poland has been a part of the bi-lateral and multi-party program since 2003. An additional program that Poland participates in is the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Since 2006, Polish sea ports and cargo docks have been participating in the Container Security Initiative.
Available at: http://www.polskieradio.pl/thenews/foreign-affairs/?id=99670
1. Nuclear Fait Accompli? Question Raised Over US Stance Against North Korea
The Korea Times
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Doubts continue over the U.S. policy of not recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state. A U.S. defense report said Monday that Pyongyang has developed nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, juxtaposing the communist country with two nuclear powers ― India and Pakistan.
The report was authored by the U.S. Defense Department's task force on nuclear weapons management, led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger. It said, ``North Korea, India and Pakistan have acquired both nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, while Iran is apparently headed down the same road.'' It also said that the derivative danger from North Korea or Iran is that they may pass nuclear weapons or nuclear technology to others, adding that proliferation elsewhere remains a strong possibility, particularly in East Asia.
It is not the first time that such a U.S. defense report has categorized North Korea as a nuclear power. On Nov. 25, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) published an annual report, ``Joint Operating Environment 2008,'' listing the North as one of five nuclear powers in Asia. It said, ``The rim of the great Asian continent is already home to five nuclear powers: China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia.''
Political and defense analysts here in South Korea cautiously speculated that the U.S. has virtually granted nuclear status to North Korea, although it officially denies it. When the November report raised brief controversy, the Bush administration reportedly promised to correct the ``mistake'' but the revision has yet to be made.
Besides, in its publication ``Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,'' the U.S Intelligence Council (NIC) described North Korea as a nuclear weapons state: ``The possibility of a future disruptive regime change or collapse occurring in a nuclear weapons state such as North Korea also continues to raise questions regarding the ability of weak states to control and secure their nuclear arsenals.''
Therefore, such reports have added fuel to the speculation that Washington has tacitly changed its policy to include Pyongyang as a de facto possessor of nuclear weapons. If the U.S. takes a realistic step to make North Korea a nuclear fait accompli, it may bring tremendous change to its policy on nuclear nonproliferation.
This might set a bad precedent since a pariah such as North Korea could join the nuclear club. The Bush administration has failed to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program despite some progress in the six-party talks for the North's denuclearization. The incoming Barak Obama administration will have to continue multinational negotiations to force the North to completely disable its nuclear facilities.
The first thing for Obama to do is clarify the U.S. position on the North Korean nuclear issue. Some pundits do not rule out the possibility that the U.S. government may recognize the North as a nuclear state and then focus on preventing it from proliferating nuclear weapons and technology to other countries. But the U.S. should not compromise international efforts to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear weapons-free. The U.S., South Korea and other six-party states must not allow the recalcitrant North to continue gambling with nuclear matters any more.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2009/01/202_37764.html
2. SKorean team to discuss buying NKorea fuel rods
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A South Korean team will visit North Korea this week to discuss buying unused fuel rods from its plutonium-producing reactor as part of a nuclear disarmament process, Seoul officials said Tuesday.
Analysts said the visit was a positive sign the North remains interested in completing the disablement of its declared nuclear plants, despite the failure of talks in Beijing last month.
In Washington, outgoing US President George W. Bush on Monday branded the communist state as "still dangerous" and said it may be operating a secret uranium-based weapons programme.
The foreign ministry in Pyongyang, in an apparent message to the incoming Obama administration, reiterated it would not give up its nuclear weapons until the US drops its "hostile" policy and establishes diplomatic relations.
North Korea tested an atomic weapon in 2006 but the following year signed on to a six-nation aid-for-disarmament pact. As part of that agreement it is disabling the plants at Yongbyon which made weapons-grade plutonium.
The negotiations suffered a setback last month when negotiators could not agree ways to verify the North's declaration of its past atomic activities.
South Korea's foreign ministry said its deputy chief nuclear envoy Hwang Joon-Kook would lead a delegation of officials and nuclear technocrats that would arrive in Pyongyang on Thursday and travel on to Yongbyon.
South Korea has expressed interest in buying the rods for its nuclear power plants.
The team will check "technical and economic" aspects of possibly buying the rods, a ministry spokesman said. The North has declared 14,000 unused rods.
"This is a positive signal from North Korea," Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-Hyun told AFP. "It appears to be showing willingness to go ahead with the process of disabling its nuclear programme."
He said the visit, shortly before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the next US President on January 20, "is also seen as a message to Washington."
Kim Sung-Han, a nuclear expert at Korea University, agreed the trip should be regarded "positively, not negatively."
Hwang will be the most senior Seoul official to visit the North since relations soured in March, after South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak took office and promised a firmer line in relations.
The North has cut almost all official contacts with the South.
But Kim Yong-Hyun said Hwang's trip does not necessarily signal a thaw in inter-Korean relations.
The foreign ministry said the visit was agreed during the Beijing talks and the North recently accepted South Korea's proposal to send a delegation.
The talks group the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and host China.
Negotiations have not begun on the final phase of the 2007 pact, which calls for the scrapping of all nuclear weapons and material in return for aid, normalised ties between the North and the US and a formal peace pact.
"There will be no such case in 100 years' time that we will hand over our nuclear weapons first without the fundamental settlement of the US hostile policy toward Korea and its nuclear threat," the North's foreign ministry said late Tuesday in a statement.
It repeated demands for verification that US nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from South Korea. The US said this was done in the early 1990s.
"When the US nuclear threat is removed and South Korea is cleared of its nuclear umbrella, we will also feel no need to keep nuclear weapons," the statement said.
President Bush described the North as still a problem.
"There is a debate in the intelligence community about how big a problem they are. One of my concerns is that there might be a highly enriched uranium programme," he told a press conference.
"Therefore, it is very important that out of the six-party talks comes a strong verification regime."
North Korea has never admitted the existence of a highly enriched uranium programme, and US experts are unsure how developed it may be.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hWCpmumzJ_f30yHA0MiCfI3E7NhA
When Barack Obama becomes president next week, the thorny matter of Pakistan is expected to be high on his foreign policy agenda. Not only is Pakistan both a haven and target for violent Islamic extremists, but it is also a nuclear weapons state. The Pakistan government is trying to assure hostile and friendly governments alike that its nuclear arsenal is secure.
If there is one common hallmark of nuclear arms programs around the world, it is high secrecy. As a rule, governments don't like talking about their nuclear weapons, and like talking about the security surrounding them even less.
But lately top Pakistani officials have been talking to selected foreign journalists and researchers about this most sensitive topic. Most recently, New York Times reporter David Sanger secured an on-the-record interview with Khalid Kidwai, the Pakistani general in charge of nuclear security, for his new book on the challenges President Barack Obama will confront.
The increasing boldness of violent Islamic extremists in Pakistan has raised fears that its nuclear weapons are potentially vulnerable to theft or terrorist attack. In its December report, the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, called on the Obama administration to pay special attention to Pakistan's nuclear security.
Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford in Britain, says Pakistan has mounted a concerted effort to allay fears about nuclear weapons security as Mr. Obama assumes office. "I think what Kidwai is very keen to do is to reassure the international community that as things sort of get worse and worse in Pakistan in terms of terrorism and Taliban and all the rest of it that the Pakistan military can be trusted to keep these weapons safe and secure," he said.
Henry Sokolski, director of the Nonproliferation Education Policy Center, says Pakistan is publicly sending a two-pronged message to its closest Western ally and to its chief enemy.
"The first point would be, if you think you can target our weapons, India, they're secure, forget it. If you think you can find out where our weapons are, the United States, they're secure, forget it - and we're not going to give you that kind of access, no matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars you give us. These are two very important messages that any patriotic Pakistani logically would want to emphasize," he said.
Ken Luongo of the Partnership for Global Security says Pakistan fears not only an attack from India, but also worries that U.S. forces might try to seize Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in a crisis. "They're very concerned about the possibility that there will be a commando attack against their infrastructure, if we knew enough, in a crisis, and that at the end of the day they would end up with no [nuclear] weapons. And that's their worst fear."
General Kidwai, who heads the Strategic Plans Division, or S.P.D., gave away no secrets to the New York Times. But he is quoted as labeling Pakistan's nuclear security systems as foolproof.
But some foreign analysts believe the danger of internal penetration by extremists into the nuclear program is greater than a physical terrorist attack.
Brian Cloughley, a former Australian army attache' to Islamabad, believes the likelihood of such an infiltration is remote. "There is nothing against being an Islamist. I mean, after all, Pakistan is an Islamic country. But, of course, the sensors are out, if you like, for those who are ultra-religionist to the point of being extremist. And it's pretty doubtful that anyone could slip through this very fine mesh net of vetting to get a position of any influence or responsibility in the nuclear program," he said.
But other analysts point out there is really no way to know. Luongo says the new openness about nuclear security from General Kidwai and his S.P.D. rings somewhat hollow since Pakistan will not allow any outside verification of nuclear security. "It's all coming out of the S.P.D. officials, and there hasn't been any way to independently verify what exactly it is that they've done, or how they've instituted the [security] improvements, or how they're working. They won't let anybody close enough. This is all being done on kind of an arm's length basis," he said.
General Kidwai told the New York Times' David Sanger that the United States shouldn't lecture Pakistan on nuclear security since the U.S. Air Force lost track of some its nuclear weapons for some 36 hours in 2007. The incident cost the Secretary of the Air Force his job.
Available at: http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-01-13-voa68.cfm
1. PGE to spend up to 18 bln euros on nuclear plants
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Poland's largest energy producer Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) aims to build two nuclear plants of 3,000 MW each and estimates the cost at 15-18 billion euros, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday.
Poland's government on Tuesday gave PGE the manadate to build two nuclear plants to help the European Union's largest ex-communist economy diversify its energy sources.
PGE CEO Tomasz Zadroga said the company aims to have the first block operational in 2020 and will seek a partner to build and operate the plants.
"The stake (we will want to sell) is up for negotiations, but we want to keep the controlling stake," Zadroga told a news conference.
PGE will seek to gain external financing for about 80 percent of investments, he said.
About 95 percent of Poland's electricity is from coal-fired plants, but in order to meet the growing demand for energy and to replace the outdated installations analysts estimate about 1,000 MW of energy will have to be added annually. (Reporting by Patryk Wasilewski; editing by James Jukwey)
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idUSLE52494920090114
2. Kyushu Electric to Spend $5.9 Billion on New Reactor
Yuji Okada and Shigeru Sato
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Kyushu Electric Power Co., the monopoly power supplier to Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu, will spend 540 billion yen ($5.9 billion) to build a third nuclear reactor at its Sendai station.
The Fukuoka City-based utility today submitted a proposal to the governments of Satsuma Sendai City and Kagoshima Prefecture, the company said in a statement filed to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Construction of the 1,590-megawatt reactor is slated to begin in 2013 and operations will start by March 2020.
Kyushu Electric wants nuclear power to account for about half of its output, compared with 41 percent in the year ended March 2008. Japan, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, is boosting nuclear power generation to strengthen security of energy supplies and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
A feasibility study that started in 2003 and completed last month showed that it was environmentally viable to add the reactor, Kyushu Electric said in the statement.
The project is aimed at boosting electricity production from nuclear generation and reducing output of carbon dioxide blamed for global warming, it said.
Combined with its Genkai nuclear station in Saga Prefecture, also on Kyushu island, the utility operates a total of six reactors.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2006 compiled a report dubbed ``the Nuclear Nation Plan,'' stating its initiative to boost nuclear power generation.
Kyushu Electric's proposed reactor will be the 11th project in Japan that is awaiting construction, according to the trade ministry.
Japan has 55 reactors now and is the third largest generator of nuclear power behind the U.S. and France.
The world needs to build 32 new nuclear reactors and 17,500 wind-power turbines each year to halve emissions by 2050, the International Energy Agency said last year.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=aMlYp5v3KGzw&refer=japan
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