1. Diplomat, Scientist Among 11 Iranians 'Held by US'
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Iranian media published a list on Wednesday of 11 Iranians, including a truck driver, a former diplomat and a nuclear scientist, who it claims are being held in the United States or other countries.
The Mehr news agency said the foreign ministry is "vigorously" pursuing diplomatic means to obtain the release of the Iranians, three of whom have allegedly been detained in countries outside the United States on Washington's request.
Among those mentioned in the report are nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri and Alireza Asgari, a former deputy defence minister who disappeared in Turkey three years ago and has been transferred to the United States, according to Mehr, which cited unspecified documentary evidence.
The report came out on the same day Saudi Arabia strongly rebuffed claims it was involved in the disappearance of Amiri, who the Iranians claim was kidnapped in June while on pilgrimage to Mecca, and is now being held in the United States.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said earlier this week that Amiri was "abducted" by Washington with the collusion of Saudi Arabia.
Two others have also allegedly been moved to the United States.
One is Amir Hossein Ardebili, who Mehr said was arrested two years ago in Georgia and following "a show trial... is due to be sentenced next week." The other is Mahmoud Yadegari, a truck driver reportedly arrested in Canada earlier this year.
Two of those mentioned, businessman Mohsen Afrasiabi and Majid Kakavand, a student, were arrested in Germany and France, respectively, the news agency said.
A third, Nasrollah Tajik, former ambassador to Jordan, was allegedly detained in Britain.
Iranian media say he was involved in nuclear deals violating US sanctions imposed on Iran.
Four more Iranians, Baktash Fattahi, Amir Shahrzad Amir Gholikhani, Ali Amir Nazmi and Hassan Saeed Keshari, are being held in US jails "for baseless reasons and without being tried," Iran's economic newspaper Donay-e Eqtesad said on Thursday.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gu2_XzKAmGR8Mfs3kAczqkFJ3sZQ
2. Iran to Limit Cooperation With IAEA if New Resolution Issued: MP
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MP Kazem Jalali of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said on Wednesday that Iran will “greatly reduce” its cooperation with the IAEA in case the UN Security Council issues any new resolution against Tehran.
In an interview with the Mehr News Agency, the MP pointed out that Iran would not be obligated to do its duties fully while the UN Security Council’s decisions are “purely politically motivated”.
IAEA resolution was not proportionate with inspections
The IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution against Iran on September 30. The resolution criticized Iran for beginning construction of a new uranium enrichment facility at Fordo and demanded that it immediately halt its construction.
Jalali said the resolution was not based on the agency’s inspections which was declared by its former director general Mohammad ElBaradei.
The resolution was “purely politically motivated” which was ratified under a pressure from major powers, the parliamentary committee spokesman emphasized.
The Iranian cabinet has voted overwhelmingly in favor of a directive that requires the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to formulate plans for the construction of 10 more uranium enrichment facilities on the scale of the Natanz nuclear plant within two months.
The directive envisages the construction of five plants, for which the land has already been set aside, to begin within two months.
According to the Fourth Development Plan (2005-2010), Iran’s nuclear power plants should eventually generate up to 20,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, so the administration should supply the power plants with the needed nuclear fuel by establishing new enrichment plants, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday.
Declaration of Fordo was indicative of Iran’s goodwill
The MP emphasized the declaration of the Fordo nuclear power plant showed Iran’s goodwill.
Jalali added the relations between Iran and the United States could be improved if the U.S. provided nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor.
U.S. President Barack Obama could prove his goodwill by taking Iran’s nuclear dossier out of the Security Council agenda and providing nuclear fuel for the Tehran reactor, the veteran lawmaker observed.
He also reiterated that Iran will produce nuclear fuel with a purity of 20 percent if other countries decline to sell it.
According to a deal drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran would exchange a large consignment of its low-enriched uranium for 20 percent enriched uranium for the Tehran reactor, which produces radioisotopes for medical treatment.
Iran has not yet accepted the proposal insisting that there is no guarantee that the Westerners would give Iran the 20 percent enriched uranium after they take the 3.5 enriched uranium out of Iran.
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=209551
3. Former IAEA Chief Calls on Western Countries to be Patient on Iranian Nuclear
Xinhua News Agency
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Former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammed ElBaradei called on the Western countries to keep patience on Iranian nuclear issue, saying, "Sanctions are not the solution."
According to the Austrian newspaper Kurier that will be released on Thursday, he told the paper in an interview that with regard to Iranian nuclear issue, the international community "should have patience. Iran is no immediate threat."
"Some people want to show that Iran will have a nuclear bomb tomorrow. It will not, we have not seen, at least," he said. He suggested that in dealing with Iranian nuclear issue "there is no reason for hasty decisions."
Baradei also noted that the dispute between Iran and the West might be solved only through dialogue. Isolation and sanctions could not solve the problem, but "will lead to more conflicts."
He said "Today we know that the decision for war had been made one year before we started our inspections." The accusation that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons at that time "was a scam," he said.
Baradei was appointed as director-general of IAEA in 1997 and stepped down on Nov. 30, 2009. During his terms, Iranian nuclear issue had become the focus of international attention.
Some Western countries accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons secretly under the cover of civilian use of nuclear power, which was denied by Iran.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/10/content_12621637.htm
4. Iran Specifies Locations for 5 New Nuclear Sites
Fars News Agency
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday that Iran is through with the first phase of construction of five new nuclear plants as it has located proper sites for its new nuclear facilities.
Addressing a cabinet meeting, President Ahmadinejad also added that the next move would be locating proper sites for another five nuclear plants.
Tehran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to build 20 nuclear plants to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
In a reaction to the western media reports that establishment of ten other enrichment facilities in Iran is a political bluff, Ahmadinejad said, "Our decisions are clear and it is not hard to test them, everything we said in the past came true."
Meantime, the Iranian president rejected speculations that the decision to build 10 new nuclear plants was a move in retaliation for a recent resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors.
"Months ago, we tasked the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) with finding locations for the new sites," Ahmadinejad explained.
He once again underlined that Iran's nuclear dossier was closed two years ago, and lambasted efforts by certain countries to continue discussions on the issue.
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi underlined on November 30 that the Iranian government has decided to build 10 nuclear plants.
He noted that these sites are due to be established in mountainous areas and each of them enjoys the capability to produce nuclear fuel for a nuclear power plant.
Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Mohammad ElBaradei, who left IAEA as the head of the international body, presented his last report on Iran's nuclear issue to the 35 members of the IAEA Board of Governors three weeks ago.
ElBaradei in his report on implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran announced that "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear materials in Iran".
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8809181563
5. Iran to Hit Israeli Nuke Sites if Attacked-Minister
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Iran would strike back at Israeli weapons manufacturing sites and nuclear installations if the Jewish state attacks the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Israel has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve an international dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs. Iran denies the charge and says it would retaliate if attacked.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran's armed forces are fully prepared," Vahidi told reporters during a visit to Syria, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. If attacked by Israel, Iran's first targets would include various weapons manufacturing sites and "unconventional nuclear centres", Vahidi said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSDAH94161220091209
6. Iran Tries to Reassure IAEA Over New Uranium Units
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Iran's plan to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants was not aimed at confronting the UN atomic watchdog, which censured Tehran last month, the state television website reported.
He also said Iran will continue to build the new plants, adding that sites for five of the 10 units had been finalised.
"The news that we announced (about the new plants) was not to confront the board of the agency, as we had assigned the (Iranian) atomic energy organisation to locate several sites (for the new plants) months ago," the website quoted him as saying.
"We recently even asked them (Iran's atomic agency) about the delay" in identifying the sites, Ahmadinejad said, adding that Iran has always "acted on its decisions, which are definite."
Soon after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) condemned Iran for building its second uranium enrichment plant late last month, Ahmadinejad announced his government's decision to build 10 new plants.
Iranian Vice President and atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said at the time that the plan to build the new plants was a response to the IAEA decision.
"The decision taken today is a firm reply to the indecent move by the five-plus-one in the latest IAEA meeting," Salehi said on November 29, referring to the six world powers comprising the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany who backed the IAEA resolution.
Twenty-five of the IAEA's 35 members voted against Tehran for building the second enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.
The IAEA vote also followed Iran's rejection of a UN-brokered deal with major powers that would have seen it supplied with fuel for a Tehran reactor that produces medical isotopes in return for allaying Western concerns by shipping out most of its stocks of low-enriched uranium.
Ahmadinejad slammed "illogical interactions" in the international arena but stressed that Iran does not "welcome arguments and harsh words."
"Some like Britain and the Zionist regime are trying to put obstacles in our way and they think they can win something, but in the 30 past years their character has been questioned."
World powers had backed the IAEA proposal under which Iran would send most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France for conversion into nuclear fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.
But Iran rejected the proposal last month, insisting it wanted to hand over its LEU at the same time it receives the 20 percent enriched uranium, and that the handover must take place simultaneously inside Iran.
In another mixed signal Salehi said that Tehran's priority was to procure the needed nuclear fuel for its Tehran reactor from abroad.
"We still prefer that this fuel (for the Tehran research reactor) be provided through the International Atomic Energy Agency," Salehi was Wednesday quoted as saying on the website.
"Iran's announcement for supply of fuel with 20 percent enrichment for Tehran reactor from abroad has hidden political messages which we hope the negotiating partners understand."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hhmmOJ92Y3l7_UloldsmxhEqyGdA
7. Iran: UN Observatory Near Border is Spy Station
Ali Akbar Dareini
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Iran accused world powers on Wednesday of trying to spy on the country with a newly built U.N. seismic monitoring station near its border to detect tremors from nuclear explosions.
Construction of the station was completed last week in neighboring Turkmenistan, a few miles from the Iranian border. It's one of 337 such stations worldwide that detect seismic activity set off by weak blasts and even shock waves from nuclear experiments.
Abolfazl Zohrehvand, an adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, said the international treaty that allows for setting up such observatories is an "espionage treaty."
"With the disclosure of the identity of such stations, it is clear the activity of one of them (in Turkmenistan) is to monitor Iran," Zohrehvand told state IRNA news agency.
Zohrehvand said the U.N. planned to set up more than one such station around Iran.
The U.S. and some of its allies suspect Iran's nuclear program is a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying the program is geared toward generating electricity.
A U.N. commission that seeks to ban all nuclear tests announced last week on its Web site that the new nuclear warning station has been set up between Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert and the Kopet mountain range.
The Vienna-based Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, or CTBTO, said the station has now been fully constructed and is currently undergoing testing.
Zohrehvand said the CTBTO is a "security and espionage treaty, even more dangerous" than the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's additional protocol, which allows intrusive inspections of nuclear facilities in member states. Iran is a member of both the CTBTO and the NPT.
The United Nations has demanded Iran freeze uranium enrichment. Tehran insists it has a right to enrich uranium to produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but enriched to higher levels, can be used at material for a nuclear bomb.
Iran and the West are deadlocked over a U.N. proposal for Iran to send much of its enriched uranium abroad. The plan is aimed at drastically reducing Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium in hopes of thwarting the country's ability to potentially make a nuclear weapon. So far, Iran has balked at the offer.
Recently, Tehran announced it intends to build the 10 new sites — a statement that followed a strong rebuke from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iRqjZV1Meppj40hTs8IBOv4DdsQwD9CFPGTO0
1. North Korea Agrees on Need For Six-Way Nuke Talks: Bosworth
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea and the United States have reached a "common understanding" on the need to resume the six-party nuclear talks and implement a 2005 historic deal on the North's denuclearization, a senior U.S. envoy said Thursday after a three-day trip there.
"We identified some common understandings on the need for and the role of the six-party talks and the importance of the implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement," Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, told reporters, referring to a document in which the North pledged to abandon its nuclear program in return for political and economic incentives.
He said, however, "It remains to be seen when and how the DPRK (North Korea) will return to the six-party talks," adding further consultations are needed among the other related parties -- South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia.
He said he had "extensive and useful talks in a candid and businesslike fashion with the North's Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju and its top nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan.
"I communicated President's Obama's view that the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the fundamental undertaking of the six-party talks, if resumed," he said.
As Obama has made clear, he added, the U.S. is prepared to work with its allies and partners in the region to offer North Korea a different future.
The path for North Korea to realize this future is to "choose the door for dialogue and the six-party talks and take irreversible steps for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.
Bosworth said he did not ask for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/12/10/17/0401000000AEN20091210010900315F.HTML
2. Senior US Envoy Held 'Candid' Talks With North Korea
Jean H. Lee
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President Barack Obama's envoy on North Korea said Thursday that officials in Pyongyang agreed on the need to resume nuclear disarmament talks but did not say when they would return to the negotiating table.
Stephen Bosworth sounded a hopeful note, calling his three-day visit to North Korea "very useful" and citing a "common understanding" with his North Korean counterparts on the importance of the denuclearization process.
The six-nation talks have been stalled for a year, during which time the reclusive communist regime has conducted a nuclear test and ballistic missile test-launches, and claimed it restarted its atomic program.
"It is certainly our hope, based on these discussions in Pyongyang, that the six-party talks can resume expeditiously and that we can get back to the important work of denuclearization," Bosworth told a news conference in Seoul after returning from Pyongyang.
The veteran diplomat's talks in North Korea were the first high-level contact between Washington and Pyongyang since Obama took office in January pledging to reach out to former adversaries.
Six nations — the two Koreas, the U.S., Russia, Japan and China — had been negotiating since 2003 on a step-by-step process to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program.
North Korea walked away from those talks earlier this year in anger over the international criticism of its ambitions to develop rocket technology, widely seen as a test of its long-range missile delivery system.
After months of rising tensions and inflammatory rhetoric, North Korea began reaching out to the U.S. and other participants in the six-party talks in recent months.
North Korea has long sought diplomatic relations with the U.S., which fought for the South Koreans during the three-year Korean War of the 1950s. Washington still has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, which technically remains at war with the North because they signed a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.
Pyongyang routinely accuses Washington of having designs to attack North Korea, and cites the U.S. military presence on the peninsula as a chief reason behind its push to build up its atomic arsenal. The U.S. denies seeking to invade the North.
In August, former U.S. President Bill Clinton traveled to the reclusive nation on a private humanitarian mission to negotiate the release of two detained American journalists. He sat for three hours with Kim Jong Il — the North Korean leader's first public appearance with a high-profile figure in a year — in a meeting that appeared to break the ice between the two nations.
Bosworth said Thursday that he did not request a meeting or meet with Kim Jong Il. North Korea's state media said Kim was traveling outside Pyongyang during the three days of Bosworth's visit.
He said he met with Kang Sok Ju, the first vice foreign minister considered Kim's chief foreign policy strategist, and top nuclear envoy Kim Kye Gwan.
Bosworth characterized the "candid" discussions as "exploratory talks" rather than negotiations, and said he did not succeed in gaining Pyongyang's firm commitment on returning to the disarmament talks.
It "remains to be seen when and how the DPRK will return to the six-party talks," he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "This is something that will require further consultations among all six of us."
But he added, "there is a common understanding" on the need to resume the disarmament process.
Bosworth said he conveyed Obama's message stressing the importance of the need for a "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
"As President Obama has made clear, the United States is prepared to work with our allies and partners in the region to offer North Korea a different future," Bosworth said, adding that discussion of a peace treaty could be part of future six-party negotiations.
"The path for North Korea to realize this future is to choose the door of dialogue in the six-party talks and to take irreversible steps to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," he said.
South Korea's unification minister, Hyun In-taek, called the flurry of diplomacy a "turning point."
"The situation on the Korean peninsula has become increasingly flexible. The peninsula and inter-Korean relations are now at an important turning point," he said Thursday, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Bosworth was accompanied by chief U.S. nuclear negotiator Sung Kim, as well as atomic and Asia specialists from the Defense Department and the White House. The delegation heads Friday to China, Japan and Russia to brief the six-party partners on the Pyongyang trip.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iURO8fOyWVOA0ytFlaAGuC9F7R9wD9CGEM3O0
1. Government Open to Private Investment in Nuclear Power
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The government would be open to considering private sector involvement in the nuclear power sector, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Monetk Singh Ahluwalia said on Wednesday.
While the government was committed to providing all necessary resources for the nuclear power programme, particularly the fast breeder reactor programme, it would welcome private investment as well as the sector expanded, he said addressing an international conference on infrastructure systems and services being held at the SSN College of Engineering here.
Speaking through videoconference from New Delhi, Mr. Ahluwalia pointed out that India’s nuclear power capacity today was only 3,500 to 4,000 MW. However, many experts projected that it would be 5,00,000 MW by 2050. “Are we going to expect to do that with the Central budget paying for all that expansion?” In the light of such a growth trajectory, “not all the financing has to come from the public sector,” he said.
Once it was established that the reactors were safeguarded, there was no logical reason to stay with the public sector alone, he said. Noting that there were numerous requests from private players, he said the government would address the question when the existing agreements with some other countries were redrawn.
Climate change impact
Mr. Ahluwalia felt that the increasing realisation of climate change impacts would bring new opportunities and challenges to the infrastructure sector.
Whether or not the U.N. talks at Copenhagen led to a comprehensive global deal, the Indian government laid out its own plans for action on both mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its impacts. “In a broader sense, they are both heavily infrastructure-related,” pointed out Mr. Ahluwalia. Increasing energy efficiency and switching from carbon-burning fuels to cleaner, greener energy technologies – hydro, nuclear and solar – would require huge investments in the energy sector.
It was also important to ensure that all infrastructure expansion took into account the need for a low-emissions growth path. “For a country with a booming infrastructure sector, it is essential to be able to leapfrog and embody new energy technologies in that expansion.” Much of it would have to come from the private sector, said Mr. Ahluwalia. “Actually, the government is not very good at anticipating new technologies. Ultimately, the injection of new technologies is a disruptive process…In our system, those in charge of old technologies have a disproportionate say in energy choices,” he said, explaining why private sector involvement was so critical.
With the mid-term review of the 11th Plan period coming up, policymakers must take into account that for the infrastructure plans for the next 20 to 30 years, new energy technologies must be included. While it would be expensive, it would also be cost-effective in social cost terms, he said, adding national and global subsidies must be provided to ease the way.
Available at: http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/10/stories/2009121058891200.htm
2. India to Supply Low-Cost Nuclear Parts For Export
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GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Ltd. and Westinghouse Electric Co. plan to use India as a low-cost supplier of nuclear parts for export to the U.S. and Europe, executives said Thursday.
"We see India as a very good supply chain for us to supply our world market," said Daniel Roderick, senior vice president at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, an alliance between General Electric Co. and Japan's Hitachi Ltd. based in Wilmington, N.C.
The decision was driven by cost pressures both companies face as they prepare to build nuclear reactors in India, and it would not have been possible if the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group had not lifted a three-decade global ban on nuclear trade with India last year.
In order to keep costs low enough to supply cost-competitive power to India, GE Hitachi said it plans to localize up to 70 percent of production, while Westinghouse plans to use local manufacturing and labor for up to 80 percent of its India work.
Once that expertise is transferred, both firms plan to turn to their Indian partners to help meet global demand for nuclear reactor parts.
GE Hitachi has signed cooperation agreements with three Indian companies: Larsen & Toubro Ltd., Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., and Bharat Forge Ltd. Roderick also said GE Hitachi would begin hiring to expand its India operations in January.
Westinghouse has signed an agreement with Larsen & Toubro and is negotiating three more, said Meena Mutyala, vice president for global growth at Westinghouse.
"India is very good in high-precision manufacturing," she said. "We plan to use that to the extent possible."
The earliest a new Westinghouse reactor could be up and running in India is 2018, she added.
GE and Westinghouse have each been allotted a site to build nuclear power plants with up to 10,000 megawatt capacity, as part of India's goal of ramping up its nuclear capacity to 63,000 megawatts by 2030 from 4,120 megawatts today.
Several roadblocks remain. The U.S. and India must finalize non-proliferation assurances before U.S. firms can export nuclear technology to India. The countries must also agree on a reprocessing agreement, which would make India the third, after Japan and a consortium of European states, to be able to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from the U.S. Finally, U.S. companies, unlike their government-linked French and Russian competitors, must wait for India to enact new legislation that gives private companies greater liability protection before they can build reactors here.
The Indian government is in the process of acquiring land for five proposed reactor sites, and there have been media reports of some farmer protests. As India industrializes, conflicts over land use have intensified, and violent farmer protests have derailed the plans of some of India's most powerful industrialists.
But S.K. Jain, managing director of the government-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., said the government is committed to paying people a fair price for their land, and said he was confident the acquisitions would go fast enough for construction to begin in 12 to 18 months.
"There will always be 3 to 4 percent who are never satisfied," he said. "It's a noisy democracy. I don't see major difficulties in this."
Available at: http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1129511&lang=eng_news&cate_img=35.jpg&cate_rss=news_Business
The United States and Russia said they were closing in on a successor arms reduction treaty that would further slash their nuclear arsenals and put their relations on a more solid footing.
"We're getting closer," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters here, asked about the prospect for an agreement to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). "We're optimistic that we can get one."
Earlier in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured "the agreement will be signed soon."
The former Cold War foes sounded confident notes just days after the START treaty expired with no agreement on a replacement despite intense negotiations to hammer out an accord under guidelines US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev set in July.
The presidents set as a goal slashing the number of warheads on either side to between 1,500 and 1,675 and the number of "carriers" capable of delivering them to between 500 and 1,100.
"We are two decades beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall, and still the United States and Russia deploy more than 2,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are on a high alert status and most of these weapons exist simply to deter their use by the other country," said Arms Control Association executive director Daryl Kimball.
"Obviously, the deal should be done well, but it needs to be done. This is a long overdue step."
US arms control experts said the intricacies of verification measures were likely holding up an agreement rather than any fundamental differences between the two sides.
They predicted negotiators would clinch an accord within weeks, if not days. The Russian daily Kommersant cited Russian officials Monday as saying they wanted an agreement by December 18.
None of the issues before the negotiators are "particularly hard, or particularly deal breakers," said Linton Brooks, the chief US negotiator of the START treaty.
Brooks, who also served under the previous administration of George W. Bush, noted that it took the United States and the Soviet Union four years to negotiate the START treaty, "and essentially all of that time was verification."
"Now, (that was a) more complicated treaty, greater suspicion, scenarios we don't worry about any more. Nonetheless, it suggests that what stretches this out is verification."
Particularly troublesome was how to count each side's nuclear warheads and verify any agreed reductions.
The START treaty does not provide a precedent because it counted only delivery systems, not warheads, and assumed that each bomber, intercontinental missile and submarine carried the maximum number of weapons.
The actual number of warheads that each side possesses is believed to be significantly lower than accounted for under START. And the new treaty is designed to measure the actual forces.
"So either you have to have all new attribution rules, or you have to say, 'No, what we're going to count is real, no joke warheads.' And then you have to have a way to verify it," Brooks said.
"It's not that there's any blinding new breakthrough that is necessary, but drafting the procedures to verify not the maximum number, but the actual number will be time consuming."
Russian reports have suggested that the hang-up was Russian demands that the United States end its continuous monitoring of Russia's leading missile production plant in Votkinsk, about 360 miles (580 kilometers) north of Moscow.
But Brooks said continuous monitoring at Votinsk no longer served a useful purpose, and the Bush administration had previously concluded it did not want to preserve it.
The United States wants to maintain other START verification measures, however, including those requiring notification and transparency about missile tests, he said.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gFkJyqffz3KWAC6h8EqU2tUaXkJA
1. China Struggles to Fuel Its Nuclear Energy Boom
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China is driving ahead with an ambitious programme to expand its atomic energy capacity over the next decade, raising questions about its ability to find the uranium it will need, at home or abroad.
Total capacity reached 9.1 gigawatts by the end of 2008, and the government fully expects to hit its official 40 gigawatt target well before the 2020 deadline.
China currently operates 11 reactors and has 17 under construction, but has 124 more on the drawing boards, according to industry group the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
The expansion programme will cause its demand for uranium to rocket 10-fold by 2030, making it the world's second biggest consumer of the radioactive metal following the United States, according the WNA forecasts.
Zhang Guobao, the country's senior energy official, has repeatedly stated that China intends to raise the bar "by a large margin", and those in the know believe it should easily smash its existing targets.
Pan Zhiqiang, director of science and technology at the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), one of the country's two major state-owned nuclear developers, said last month that "reaching 70 GW before 2020 will not be a big problem."
"There are also estimates that by 2030, total capacity will reach 200 gigawatts, and by 2050, 1,000 gigawatts," he said.
Concerns have been raised about the availability of sufficient fuel to feed the growing demand in China and elsewhere, but Pan discounted any immediate problems.
He claimed there was "absolutely no problem" finding the uranium to run 40 gigawatts of capacity, either within China's borders or through overseas acquisitions.
Over the longer term, however, others concede that acquiring enough of the key ingredient in nuclear power generation could be a big challenge.
"The uranium market in the future faces a lot of uncertainties with not a small supply shortage," said Zhou Zhenxing, who heads the uranium development unit at the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC), the second of China's big nuclear firms. RAISING THE BAR
When China announced in a 2006 policy document that it would aim for 40 GW of nuclear capacity by 2020, sceptics noted this meant finding the wherewithal to bring at least two reactors into operation every year. They also pointed out plans were already behind schedule, with no new projects due until 2011, and bureaucratic problems had already delayed others.
But momentum was quickly regained. China had 11 reactors in operation by the end of last year, using a variety of "second-generation" designs from Russia, Canada and France as well as its own research institutes, and there are now another 24 -- with 25.4 GW of capacity -- approved or under construction.
U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, now owned by Toshiba (6502.T) is building four of its new AP1000 reactors in coastal Zhejiang and Shandong provinces, securing a much-needed showcase for its untested "third-generation" designs. In exchange, China was granted a generous technology transfer agreement that would make the AP1000 the model for its own "localised" reactors.
Meanwhile, France's Areva (CEPFi.PA) agreed to build two of its European Pressurised Reactors for the Taishan nuclear project in southeast China's Guangdong.
China's own nuclear contractors are already looking well beyond the 40 GW target, with Zhou of CGNPC saying his company was already planning to increase capacity to 34 GW by 2020, up from the current level of 3.94 GW.
With every province and region keen to grab a stake in the lucrative nuclear sector, both CGNPC and CNNC have been scouring the country for potential projects. Every province along the eastern coast is building new reactors, and a multitude of cities in China's interior are also lobbying to become the country's first inland nuclear plant.
The need to feed such growing capacity has required the two state-owned giants to hunt the globe for new sources of fuel -- with CGNPC chasing uranium reserves in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Australia and Namibia, and CNNC signing deals to explore and develop in Mongolia and Niger.
China has been developing its own uranium mines since the 1950s, mainly in the remote northwest. But total output is a state secret, and it is unclear whether it will be enough to power the dozens of reactors due to go online before 2020.
According to figures from the China Nuclear Industry Association, China has currently developed only a third of the uranium required to fuel 40 gigawatts of capacity by 2020, and exploration needs to be stepped up if China wishes to avoid being exposed to the volatile foreign market.
"The exploitation rate of Chinese uranium mines is actually very low right now, so there is room to improve the supply volume," said He Kun, a professor at the Nuclear and New Energy Technology Research Institute at Tsinghua University.
Zhou of CGNPC said his company alone would need more than 10,000 tonnes of uranium per year by 2020.
With CGNPC likely to control about half of China's nuclear capacity by then, that would put total annual demand at around 20,000 tonnes, a massive increase on the 769 tonnes produced in 2008, according to World Nuclear Association estimates.
Pan of CNNC conceded that there was an urgent need to develop new mines for the longer term.
"Uranium supplies don't constitute an obstacle to the development of nuclear power in China, but we must strengthen our prospecting work, and our research into prospecting technologies. This is absolutely crucial."
Pan said the supply problem has been overstated, however, noting that both Japan and South Korea have managed to keep their reactors running despite having no uranium of their own.
"Uranium is a commodity and we can import it, and also participate in international uranium mining projects. People say that uranium isn't very plentiful, but I don't agree."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSPEK20761020091210?type=marketsNews
2. French Consortium Bids for Abu Dhabi Nuclear Deal
(for personal use only)
A consortium of French energy companies made a final bid on Wednesday night to sell at least two nuclear reactors to Abu Dhabi, the Chief Executive of state-owned EDF (EDF.PA) said on Thursday.
"We submitted the bid last night," Henri Proglio told reporters on the sidelines of a news conference at the Finance Ministry.
He did not say when he expected to hear from the government of Abu Dhabi on the outcome of the bid.
Power and gas group GDF Suez (GSZ.PA), oil major Total (TOTF.PA), and Areva (CEPFi.PA), the world's biggest nuclear reactor maker, bid for the Abu Dhabi contract nearly two years ago, and were initially seen as frontrunners.
But the French consortium, which EDF joined earlier this year after a request by the United Arab Emirates to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, recently appeared to be losing ground to a rival bid by Korea Electric Power Corp (015760.KS).
A consortium comprising General Electric (GE.N) and Japan's Hitachi (6501.T) is also bidding.
Proglio said on Wednesday that EDF would take the reins of the consortium and spearhead the effort to win the Abu Dhabi bid.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKGEE5B910620091210
3. Russia Pledges to Complete Iran's First Nuclear Plant on Time
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Russia is fully committed to completing the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant on schedule, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Thursday.
The plant in southern Iran is due to be launched in March 2010.
"Our cooperation with Iran on the construction of the nuclear power plant at Bushehr is being carried out in strict compliance with our international obligations. We are fully committed to completing this project," Nesterenko said.
He said that adjustments and start-up work are underway at the facility, and that Russian and Iranian specialists are currently working to resolve certain final technical issues.
The Russian diplomat stressed launch of the 1-GW plant should not be linked to the ongoing negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.
The construction of the facility was started in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy siege in Tehran.
Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant.
The launch date has been postponed many times over financial problems and Iranian claims that Russia was reluctant to finish the facility due to UN sanctions and suspicions of a covert nuclear weapons program.
Iran has been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, used in both electricity generation and weapons production. Tehran has repeatedly rejected the demand, insisting it is pursuing a purely civilian program.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20091210/157187470.html
Proposals are being worked upon at the Copenhagen summit to cut the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, prominent among which is the use of nuclear energy. A broad scientific consensus predicts that climate change will worsen dramatically when the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere rises above 450 parts per million.
The gasses that force climatic changes can be reduced, if the appropriate technologies are applied. For instance, power generation accounts for a third of all GHG emissions.
But, nuclear applications are powerful tools in understanding the drivers of climate change.
By recreating past climate events through nuclear reconstruction, the scientists can estimate the effect of future developments.
The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Laboratories, for instance, uses nuclear techniques and isotopes to map increasing ocean temperatures and acidification, as well as shifting ocean currents, which are growing threats for marine biodiversity and sustainability, as well as potent influences on weather and storm patterns.
Nuclear energy now supplies about 16 percent of world's electricity needs, yet is a nearly carbon-free energy source.
Nuclear energy is already reducing the impact of climate change and has in the past half-century helped to avoid as much in carbon emissions as hydropower.
Today, nuclear power plants reduce the annual global CO2 burden by two gigatonnes, or two trillion kilograms.
Over a nuclear power plant's life cycle, nuclear energy emits roughly the same amount of CO2 per unit of electricity generated as wind and hydropower, and less than renewable sources such as biomass or solar.
Significantly, it does so at an equal or lower cost per unit of electricity generated.
The IAEA helps Member States to build national capacity in conducting independent energy and environmental analysis and in developing strategic national energy plans.
This assistance involves transferring analytical and planning tools, and training national experts in their use to support the conduct of energy and electricity demand and supply studies, as well as the analysis of cost effective GHG mitigation options.
In agriculture, CO2 and other GHGs, such as nitrous oxide (N20) are also released.
The IAEA is developing and evaluating land management practices designed to capture atmospheric CO2 in soils and reduce N20 emissions to mitigate climate change, while improving crop growth.
The causes for soil degradation can be detected using environmental nuclide tracers.
The IAEA is also working to develop crop varieties able to absorb additional CO2 from the atmosphere and to utilize soil nitrogen more effectively.
Available at: http://business.rediff.com/report/2009/dec/09/copenhagen-nuclear-energy-turns-pivotal.htm
Authorities have officially ended the latest effort to introduce nuclear power in Turkey. A notice on the Turkish Electricity Trading Company's website said the tender for new reactors had been cancelled.
It brings a disappointing end to a troubled process to deliver reactors up to 4800 MWe, wanted by Turkish authorities since the 1970s. A tender for the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant, according to rules drawn up by the Turkish Atomic Energy Commission, ended in September 2008 with only one bid.
The Russian offer for four VVER reactors, put forward by AtomStroyExport in conjunction with Inter Rao and Park Teknik of Turkey, was far over the current price of electricity in Turkey and much work went into revisions to make the project feasible.
Several nuclear power projects have been proposed over the years in Turkey: In 1970 a feasibility study concerned a 300 MWe plant; in 1973 the electricity authority decided to build a 80 MWe demonstration plant but didn't; in 1976 the Akkuyu site on the Mediterranean coast near the port of Mersin was licensed for a nuclear plant. In 1980 an attempt to build several plants failed for lack of government financial guarantee.
In 1993 a nuclear plant was included in the country's investment program following a request for preliminary proposals in 1992 but revised tender specifications were not released until December 1996. Bids for a 2000 MWe plant at Akkuyu were received from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, Westinghouse & Mitsubishi as well as Framatome & Siemens. Following the final bid deadline in October 1997, the government delayed its decision no less than eight times between June 1998 and April 2000, when plans were abandoned due to economic circumstances.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN_Turkey_abandons_nuclear_bid_0912091.html
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