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Nuclear News - 12/15/2009
PGS Nuclear News, December 15, 2009
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Will Inform IAEA About New Nuclear Sites Only 6 Month Before Operation, Tehran Times  (12/15/2009)
    2. Iran Denies Working on Nuclear Bomb Component, AFP (12/15/2009)
    3. Discovery of UD3 Raises Fears Over Iran’s Nuclear Intentions, Catherine Philp, The Times  (12/14/2009)
    4. Israeli Says Some Time Left for Diplomacy on Iran, George Jahn, Associated Press (12/14/2009)
    5. Iran 'Ready to Swap Uranium for Fuel', CNN (12/13/2009)
    6. US Rejects Iran Nuclear Offer, Al Jazeera (12/13/2009)
    7. Iranian Scientist Who Vanished 'Gave Nuclear Secrets' to UN Inspectors Sent to Qom Site, Philip Sherwell and Peter Allen, The Telegraph (12/12/2009)
    8. Iran Needs Up to 15 Nuclear Plants-Foreign Minister, Raissa Kasolowsky, Reuters (12/12/2009)
    1. Bosworth Concerns Over DPRK's Uranium Enrichment Program: South Korea's Nuclear Envoy, Xinhua News Agency (12/15/2009)
    2. North Korea Seeks Both Nuclear Status and Normalized Ties: Military Chief, Sam Kim, Yonhap News Agency (12/14/2009)
    3. 5 Charged After North Korean Weapons Seized in Thailand, Apichart Weerawong, Associated Press (12/13/2009)
    4. US: Time for 'Strategic Patience' With North Korea, Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (12/12/2009)
    5. No Plans for Fresh North Korea Talks: US Envoy, AFP (12/12/2009)
C.  India
    1. India Capable in Terms of Nuclear Deterrence: Research Organization, Xinhua News Agency (12/15/2009)
    2. India Tests Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile, AFP (12/13/2009)
    3. India Has Credible Thermo-Nuclear Bombs in Its Arsenal: Claims Kakodkar, Associated Press of Pakistan (12/13/2009)
D.  Nonproliferation
    1. Australia, Japan Want Huge Cuts in Nuclear Arsenals, AFP (12/15/2009)
    2. U.S. to Help Boost Cambodia's Seaport Security for Avoiding Nuclear Smuggling, Xinhua News Agency (12/14/2009)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Kazakhstan Turns Into World's Leading Uranium Producer, RIA Novosti (12/15/2009)
    2. Russia to Give Priority to Indian Nuclear Reactors, Sandeep Dikshit, The Hindu (12/14/2009)
    3. Talks On for Nuclear Power Plants: French Envoy, The Hindu (12/13/2009)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Farsi and English Versions of Document on Neutron Initiator, ISIS (12/14/2009)
    2. Taiwan Investigates Report Iran Get Nuclear Parts Via Its Firms, Weiyi Lim, Bloomberg (12/12/2009)

A.  Iran

Iran Denies Working on Nuclear Bomb Component
(for personal use only)

Iran on Tuesday dismissed as a "scenario" hatched by Western powers a report alleging that it is working on a key component of a nuclear bomb.

"Some countries are angry that our people defend their nuclear rights," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.

When Western powers "want to pressure us they craft such scenarios which is unacceptable," he said.

"This claim has political aims and it is psychological warfare which has no basis at the International Atomic Energy Agency," he added.

He was reacting to a report in the British newspaper The Times which said on Monday it had obtained notes describing a four-year plan by Iran to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb which triggers an explosion.

The Times reported that foreign intelligence agencies dated the documents to early 2007 -- four years after US agencies had previously assessed Iran had suspended efforts to produce a weapons.

It said the documents detailed a plan to test whether the device works -- without leaving traces of uranium that the outside world could detect.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is solely for civilian purposes and rejects Western suspicions that it is covertly trying to develop a bomb.

Iran is under three sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and risks a further round after rejecting a UN-brokered deal to send its low enriched uranium abroad to be further refined into fuel for a research reactor.

Its enrichment work lies at the centre of Western concerns about its intentions as the process can produce fuel for nuclear reactors but in highly extended form can also be used to make the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

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Iran Will Inform IAEA About New Nuclear Sites Only 6 Month Before Operation
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

In keeping with a parliamentary demand that obliges the government to limit its cooperation with the IAEA from now on Iran will not go beyond its legal commitments in its interaction with the agency, an Iranian nuclear official said.

Likewise, Iran will not reveal the construction of new nuclear plants to the Vienna-based agency until six month before the operation, Ali Akbar Salehi, director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told the Mehr News Agency in an interview published Monday.

According to the NPT, member countries are required to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency about their newly-built nuclear facilities only six months before nuclear materials are supplied to the sites, he explained.

The move by the parliament came as the IAEA Board of Governors, under a pressure from the West, adopted a resolution censuring Iran for not informing the agency about the Fordo nuclear enrichment facility at the moment it started the project. Iran has informed the IAEA about Fordo plant 18 months before operation.

Salehi went on to say that Iran will continue its nuclear activities within the framework of international treaties.

The Article 4 of the NPT recognizes all member countries’ rights to have access to nuclear energy meant for peaceful purposes and to enrich uranium and Iran is not an exception, Iran’s former ambassador to the IAEA explained.

Considering the Majlis ratification which envisages the generation of 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity, the IAEO is required to lay the groundwork for the realization of this objective, he noted.

Building new nuclear enrichment plants is high on the agenda in order to feed new nuclear reactors to generate electricity, Salehi, a nuclear physicist, noted

On Iran’s options to provide nuclear fuel for the Tehran medical reactor, he said Iran prefers to buy 20 percent enriched uranium for the reactor in order to create an “atmosphere of cooperation” and provide the West with the opportunity to prove that they are bound to the international law.

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Discovery of UD3 Raises Fears Over Iran’s Nuclear Intentions
Catherine Philp
The Times
(for personal use only)

One formula stands out in the documents obtained by The Times: UD3, or uranium deuteride. Independent experts have confirmed that the only possible use for UD3 is as a neutron source, the trigger to the chain reaction for a nuclear explosion.

Critically, while other neutron sources have possible civilian uses, UD3 has only one application — to be the metaphorical match that lights a nuclear bomb.

UD3, when used in a neutron initiator, emits a stream of neutrons that ignite the core of a bomb, either weapons-grade uranium or plutonium. The stream of neutrons is released using high explosives to compress a core of solid UD3, creating fusion.

Foreign intelligence agencies are closely monitoring all of Iran’s weapons activities and a test explosion would not go unnoticed, which poses a problem to the covert development of a nuclear weapon.

An explosion could be explained as conventional weapons testing, but not if traces of uranium were left behind from the use of UD3. Such a discovery would be regarded as proof of weapons testing, and as a statement of Iran’s nuclear intent.

In the documents obtained by The Times, Iranian military scientists suggest a way around the problem: by running surrogate tests that substitute titanium deuteride for the uranium compound. They suggest “continuing the work of replacement materials such as TiD2 [titanium deuteride] in order to avoid U [Uranium] pollution in the production of UD3”.

Titanium deuteride would behave in the same way, producing a measurable flow of neutrons, but without leaving the traces of uranium. The explosion would also be smaller.

“They want to test the match without burning it,” a Western intelligence source said. “Then they can take it to the Supreme Leader and say, ‘We know it all works now.’ Then he has everything he needs for the moment, if it comes, that he gives the order to build a bomb.”

That order, according to the source, does not appear to have been made, and there is no evidence that it will. But even without it Iran is edging closer to nuclear latency — the immediate potential to assemble a bomb — effectively giving it a nuclear deterrent.

The last ingredient Iran requires is enough fissile material to arm a weapon. Estimates vary, but at present Iran’s known stockpile of low-enriched uranium is only just enough to arm one warhead — if that material were enriched further to weapons-grade. That stockpile of low-enriched uranium is under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision at Iran’s enrichment plant at Natanz.

However, the recent discovery of a nuclear facility near Qom, which was due to come online next year as a back-up enrichment plant, has renewed fears that Iran may have other secret sites where it is enriching or preparing to enrich uranium.

A proposal backed by the United Nations to remove Iran’s stockpile failed last week when President Ahmadinejad said that Iran would begin enriching its uranium to a higher grade, bringing it a step closer to producing the 90 per cent weapons-grade fuel needed for a bomb.

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Israeli Says Some Time Left for Diplomacy on Iran
George Jahn
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Israel's defense minister urged the world Monday to agree to tough new sanctions on Iran, suggesting that military strikes remained a final option should Tehran refuse to heed U.N. Security Council demands to curb its nuclear activities.

Ehud Barak indicated Israel was prepared to wait for an unspecified period of time to give more space to world power diplomacy in trying to end Iran's nuclear defiance.

"We still believe that its time for diplomacy, tough diplomacy," Barak told reporters during an official visit on the invitation of Norbert Darabos, his Austrian counterpart. "There is a need for tough sanctions ... something that is well and coherently coordinated to include the Americans, the EU, the Chinese, the Russians, the Indians."

At the same time, he said, "we recommend to all players not to remove any options from the table," just as "we do not remove it."

Both Israel and the U.S. administration have said all options remain — diplomatic language for military strikes — in attempts to strip Iran of the capability of turning what it says are peaceful nuclear activities into a program geared toward making nuclear arms.

Israel in particular is growing impatient after seven years of failed attempts to strip Iran of its capacity to make nuclear weapons.

During that time, Iran has moved closer to that status, even while insisting that its atomic program is meant solely to generate energy.

Its thousands of centrifuges have produced enough enriched uranium to produce two nuclear weapons — even though it maintains the stockpile will only be used for nuclear fuel and not for weapons-grade material.

It has only recently — and belatedly — revealed that it is building a second enrichment site and is stonewalling an International Atomic Energy Agency probe of allegations that it had experimented with making nuclear weapons.

As well, Iran threatened earlier this month to expand its enrichment program tenfold, while rejecting an IAEA-brokered plan to supply fuel for its research reactor if Iran exports of most of its enriched stockpile — a move that would strip it of its warhead material.

The White House has said Iran has until the end of the month to accept that plan and Barak suggested that Israel was willing to give the U.S. more — but not indefinite — time in mixing outreach toward Iran with the threat of further sanctions.

"There should be a time limit for all these attempts to block them through sanctions," he told reporters, warning that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons "will clearly ... initiate a nuclear competition."

"Think of Egypt, or Turkey or Saudi Arabia," he said. "They can hardly afford not being nuclear if Iran turns ... nuclear."

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Iran 'Ready to Swap Uranium for Fuel'
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Iran is ready to give up some enriched uranium in exchange for fuel that would power a reactor used in cancer research, the country's foreign minister said Sunday, according to Iranian media.

"We have explicitly declared that Iran is ready to exchange some 400 kilograms of 3.5 percent enriched uranium in Iran's Kish Island and receive 20 percent enriched fuel," Manouchehr Mottaki said, according to state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).

The report offered no further details on the plan.

The United States and other leading nations have been negotiating with Iran to send low-enriched uranium abroad, where it would be turned into material for use at the reactor.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has proposed that Iran send low-enriched uranium to Russia and then France for processing.

But a senior State Department official told CNN Iran's proposal does not appear to be consistent with the IAEA draft agreement.

"The terms of that agreement call for Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Russia in one batch, where it would be further enriched and then sent to France for fabrication into fuel assemblies," the official said.

"We remain committed to these terms. Unfortunately, Iran has been unwilling to engage in further talks on its nuclear program.

"The draft agreement reflects an extensive effort by the IAEA, Russia, France and the United States to respond positively to Iran's request for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes," the official said.

"It also offers an opportunity for Iran to begin to build confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. We urge Iran not to squander this opportunity."

The deal could reduce the amount of material Iran has to make a nuclear bomb. America and some of its allies fear Iran's goal is to produce a nuclear bomb, but Tehran has insisted its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

Mottaki, attending the Manama Security Meeting in Bahrain, said Iran has fully cooperated with the IAEA and is ready to continue its "constructive cooperation" with the so-called "P5+1" -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, according to IRIB.

Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's defensive doctrine, he said, and Tehran believes the era where nuclear weapons were effective leverage has come to an end, IRIB reported.

Last month, the IAEA board passed a resolution demanding that Iran stop construction on a once-secret nuclear enrichment facility near the Iranian city of Qom.

Thirty-five countries, including Russia and China, backed the measure, which also demanded that Iran stop uranium enrichment, which can be used for producing fuel for a nuclear weapon. Russia and China previously had resisted the push for imposing stronger sanctions on Iran.

In the wake of that resolution, Iran announced its Cabinet had authorized the construction of 10 new nuclear production facilities.

The White House warned Iran earlier this month it faces further sanctions if it does not abandon its enrichment activities and "forsake their nuclear weapons program," spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The outgoing head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour last month that timing is the top issue delaying a nuclear deal between Iran and the international powers.

Rather than sign on to the draft agreement outlining the swap plan, he said, Iran wants to ship out low-enriched uranium and simultaneously get back more enriched material, which would enable it to receive the fuel more quickly, ElBaradei said.

In his final report to the IAEA's governing board, ElBaradei said the agency had been able to verify that no known stocks of nuclear fuel had been diverted from authorized uses in Iran. But, he said, inspectors "have effectively reached a dead end" without further cooperation from Tehran.

On Sunday, Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, said in an address to lawmakers that ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has been targeted by enemies of Islam, including the United States and its allies.

"Mr. Obama's cheap remarks about IRI's (Islamic Republic of Iran's) internal affairs, as well as U.S. minister of state's statements accusing Iran of supporting terrorism all reveal their worries about IRI's increasing influence in the region," Larijani said.

On the nuclear issue, he said the United States and others don't want Iran to continue its nuclear activities under the framework of the IAEA.

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US Rejects Iran Nuclear Offer
Al Jazeera
(for personal use only)

The US has dismissed an Iranian offer to exchange nuclear fuel, saying it was inconsistent with a deal that would allow Iran to avoid further sanctions.

"Iran's proposal does not appear to be consistent with the fair and balanced draft agreement proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], the UN nuclear watchdog, a US official said on Saturday.

Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's foreign minister, proposed that the country swap 880 pounds (400 kilogrammes) of low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel in an exchange on Iran's island of Kish, in the Persian Gulf, as the first phase of a deal with world powers.
Deal breaker

However, according to the deal, in consultation with the US, Russia and France, the nuclear material was to be exchanged all at once as the IAEA believes that carrying it out in slow stages would leave Iran in control of enough uranium to make a bomb.

The IAEA had also previously ruled out a swap taking place inside Iran.

The US official, who declined to be named, said Iran's offer contained "nothing new" and urged the country to take up the existing IAEA proposal, which calls on Iran to send 2,645 pounds (1,200 kilogrammes) of its low enriched uranium to Russia "in one batch."

Under the plan Iran's uranium would be enriched to higher levels in Russia, turned into fuel rods in France and returned to power a research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.

The material in the fuel rods cannot be enriched to higher levels, denying Iran the ability to use it to make weapons.

Nuclear concerns

"We remain committed to these terms," the official said. "Unfortunately, Iran has been unwilling to engage in further talks on its nuclear programme.

"We urge Iran not to squander this opportunity."

In another change to the plan, Iran wants to receive the fuel rods immediately in simultaneous exchanges for its uranium because it says it is worried that France or Russia could renege on the deal.

Iran's stockpile of uranium is at the heart of international concerns because it offers Iran a possible pathway to nuclear weapons production if it is enriched to higher levels.

Tehran insists it only wants to use the material to produce fuel for power plants and for other peaceful purposes.

Last month, the 35-nation board of the IAEA endorsed a resolution from the six powers, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, criticising Iran for defying a UN security council ban on uranium enrichment and continuing to expand its operations.

It also censured Iran for secretly building a second enrichment facility and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction on it.

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Iran Needs Up to 15 Nuclear Plants-Foreign Minister
Raissa Kasolowsky
(for personal use only)

Iran needs up to 15 nuclear plants to generate electricity, its foreign minister said on Saturday, underlining Tehran's determination to press ahead with a programme the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

Manouchehr Mottaki, addressing a security conference in Bahrain, also cast further doubt on a U.N.-drafted nuclear fuel deal meant to allay international concern about the Islamic Republic's atomic ambitions.

"First I think we could just totally abandon the whole thing or we could propose something more moderate, a kind of middle way ... Iran has done that," he said.

Iran has sought amendments to the proposed deal, under which it would transfer stocks of low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad and receive fuel in return for a medical research reactor. Tehran says it could produce the fuel itself if it is not able to obtain it from abroad.

The proposal to farm out most of Iran's LEU reserves is aimed at minimising the risk of the country refining the material to the 80-90 percent grade suitable for a weapon.

Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its gas and oil.

"We need 10 to 15 nuclear plants to generate electricity in our country," Mottaki said. Iran has one nuclear power plant, under construction by Russia.

On Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he expected the international community to impose significant additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Iranian officials have repeatedly shrugged off the impact of such punitive measures. "It would be better not to experience that again," Mottaki said, referring to possible new sanctions.

He also appeared to say that Iran had told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Kish island, a free zone near the Straits of Hormuz, could be a point for handing over uranium to foreign parties for enrichment -- a proposal sure to meet with rejection from world powers.

"We presented the proposed mechanism from the Islamic Republic of Iran, about 1,000 to 1,200 kilos of (enriched) uranium of 3.5 percent grade that should be exchanged with the fuel we need in our reactor in Tehran," he said, in comments translated into English at the conference.

"In the first phase we can give you 400 kilos enriched uranium of 3.5 percent, which will be prepared by Iran and you give the equivalent ... of 20 percent uranium, and it should be exchanged simultaneously," he added.

Iran informally suggested Kish some time ago to the IAEA but Western countries object to such simultaneous transactions of small amounts of uranium on Iranian soil since that would not significantly cut down Iran's LEU stockpile.


Earlier this month, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran needed 20 uranium enrichment plants to provide fuel for its nuclear power plants.

That announcement came less than a week after Tehran said it would build 10 more sites like its Natanz underground facility, a statement that further heightened tension with major powers involved in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the row.

The 35-nation board of the IAEA last month voted to rebuke Iran for building a second enrichment plant in secret, near the holy city of Qom.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants or, if enriched much further, provide material for bombs.

Separately on Saturday, an Iranian news agency said four inspectors from the U.N. nuclear agency watchdog had arrived to inspect the newly-disclosed enrichment site near Qom.

It would be the fourth such visit to the site, ILNA news agency added, describing it as a regular inspection. It said such inspections should take place once a month, under an agreement between Iran and the Vienna-based agency.

Asked in Manama if Saudi Arabia or Turkey should join talks between Iran and the six major powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- Mottaki said: "There is no limit to the members of 5+1 (six powers). We believe other countries from the region could participate in the talks."

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Iranian Scientist Who Vanished 'Gave Nuclear Secrets' to UN Inspectors Sent to Qom Site
Philip Sherwell and Peter Allen
The Telegraph
(for personal use only)

Shahram Amiri briefed United Nations nuclear monitors in a clandestine meeting at Frankfurt airport just hours before they flew to Iran to inspect a hidden uranium enrichment plant, according to French intelligence sources.

An award-winning atomic physicist, Mr Amiri had worked at the heavily-guarded underground site at Qom. He was attached to a Tehran university named by the EU last year as part of the regime's nuclear-proliferation operations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was told of the existence of the Qom facility by the US and its European allies in September. But the meeting with Mr Amiri in October would have provided inspectors with key insider knowledge before they made the sensitive trip.

The scientist is the focus of an extraordinary international row stretching from the Gulf to Washington after Iran last week accused Saudi Arabia and the US of "terrorist behaviour" for allegedly colluding in his abduction.

The nuclear scientist, who is in his 30s, disappeared after arriving in in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage in late May, leaving behind his wife and extended family. The Saudi authorities say they do not know where he is.

But contrary to Iranian claims, Mr Amiri actually defected after an elaborate international cloak-and-dagger co-ordinated by the CIA, according to a well-connected French intelligence analysis website.

"The agency made contact with the scientist last year when Amiri visited Frankfurt in connection with his research work," Intelligence Online reported. "A German businessman acted as go-between. A final contact was made in Vienna when Amiri travelled to Austria to assist the Iranian representative at the IAEA. Shortly afterwards, the scientist went on pilgrimage to Mecca and hasn't been seen since."

The vanishing act was reminiscent of Cold War days between the Soviet Union and the West when spies - often scientists and diplomats - were spirited away in plots just as outlandish as any John le Carré thriller.

Heads have rolled at Iran's nuclear counter-espionage agency since his loss, and the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, raised his case in a private meeting with the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.

The Islamic republic has now linked the fate of three American hikers detained in Iran since July with a list of Iranian citizens, including Mr Amiri, who Tehran alleges are being held by the US. It appears to be proposing some form of trade in talks with Swiss intermediaries.

Officially, the US says it has no information on Mr Amiri's whereabouts, but the scientist is now believed to be in Europe, protected by a Western intelligence agency, in a CIA-led operation. He will be debriefed intensively by experts - who will also want to ensure that he is not an Iranian plant.

Four months after Mr Amiri disappeared, President Barack Obama, flanked by Gordon Brown and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, disclosed that Iran had built the buried uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

Western intelligence had developed information about the site over three years.

But Mr Amiri's intelligence about its inner workings - and especially security procedures - proved "extremely useful", a source close to France's overseas secret service, the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), told The Sunday Telegraph.

"Amiri has first hand knowledge of the site and this would have been the main subject of discussion," the source said. "The meeting was so secret that the inspectors who met Amiri were unlikely to have even known his name, let alone his background. He was just presented as a bona fide contact in the know about how Qom works."

French agents party to details of the Frankfurt meeting paint a picture of Amiri as one of the brightest young nuclear physicists of his generation, westernised and a good English-speaker.

"He would be an obvious conduit of information," said a source. "Why would the Iranians show four UN inspectors everything unless they knew what to ask for?"

The CIA launched a secret programme, dubbed "the Brain Drain", in 2005 designed to undermine Iran's nuclear programme by persuading key officials to defect. In the biggest previous coup, Revolutionary Guards general Ali Reza Asgari, the deputy defence mnister, vanished on a trip to Turkey in 2007.

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Bosworth Concerns Over DPRK's Uranium Enrichment Program: South Korea's Nuclear Envoy
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

U.S. Special Envoy to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Steven Bosworth, has expressed concern over the DPRK's uranium enrichment program during his visit to Pyongyang last week, Seoul's nuclear envoy said Tuesday.

At a working ruling party meeting held at the National Assembly, Wi Sung-lac, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, said, "there were no specific agreements reached between the two sides during the meeting, but Bosworth did express concern over the announcement of Pyongyang's uranium enrichment to North Korean (DPRK) envoys, including their Vice Foreign Minister Kang Suk-joo."

As the U.S. side officially expressed grave concern regarding the DPRK's uranium enrichment process during its meeting, this issue is expected to be raised at future nuclear discussions, according to Seoul's nuclear envoy.

"Bosworth said that it is clear this issue will be placed on the agenda as one of the primary issues once six-party talks resume," Wi was quoted as saying.

In response to this report, a government source told local Yonhap News Agency that "North Korea (DPRK) did not respond to the U.S.'s concern over this issue."

In a mail to the president of the UN Security Council last September, the DPRK announced, "the uranium enrichment experiment was successful and it is heading into the final bonding phase."

Amid escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Bosworth paid a three-day visit to Pyongyang last week in a bid to persuade the nation back to the pending six-party talks as well as to reconfirm the Joint Statement of September, 2005.

After wrapping up his trip, Bosworth told a press conference in Seoul that the two sides had reached a common understanding on the need to resume the six-party talks.

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North Korea Seeks Both Nuclear Status and Normalized Ties: Military Chief
Sam Kim
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea appears to be holding on to its ambition to be recognized as a nuclear state despite its pursuit of normalized relations with the outside world, South Korea's top general said Monday.

"It is our assessment that North Korea has not altered its strategic goal of simultaneously securing the status of a nuclear state and the stability of its regime through the normalization of North-U.S. relations," Lee Sang-eui, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a forum in Seoul.

His comments came after a U.S. special envoy flew to Pyongyang last week and held the first direct talks between his country and North Korea since U.S. President Barack Obama took office early this year.

South Korean officials say North Korea is trying to secure the survival of its regime by forging a peace treaty with the U.S. and dispose of the truce that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

The U.S., which refuses to recognize the communist state as a nuclear state despite its two atomic tests since 2006, demands the North dismantle its nuclear weapons programs before any peace deal.

"Through the reinforcement of its nuclear capabilities, North Korea is strengthening its bargaining power against the U.S. and pursuing direct talks," Lee said, citing the May nuclear test.

Describing North Korea as "blowing hot and cold," Lee said North Korea is also seeking the improvement of its relations with South Korea, which is also a signatory to the 1953 truce.

"It is our projection that Kim will continue to tighten his control (over the country), and pursue improved ties with the U.S. as well as a softening of sanctions for economic gains," he said.

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5 Charged After North Korean Weapons Seized in Thailand
Apichart Weerawong
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Five foreigners who crewed an aircraft carrying about 35 tons of weapons originating in North Korea have been charged with illegal possession of arms in Thailand, police said Sunday.

The men — four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus — were detained when an Ilyushin 76 transport plane, carrying explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and components for surface-to-air missiles, was impounded Saturday during a refueling stop at Bangkok's Don Muang airport, Thai officials said.

Thai authorities took the action because of a United Nations resolution banning the transport of certain weapons from or to North Korea, the Foreign Ministry said.

Police Col. Supisarn Pakdinarunart said the men denied the arms possession charges and were refused bail. They will appear in court Monday.

Air Force spokesman Capt. Montol Suchookorn said the chartered cargo plane originated in North Korea's capital Pyongyang and requested to land at Don Muang airport to refuel.

There were differing local media reports about the plane's destination with some saying it was headed to Sri Lanka and others saying Pakistan.

"I cannot disclose the destination of their plane because this involves national security. The government will provide more details on this," Supisarn said.

North Korea has been widely accused of violating United Nations sanctions by selling weapons to nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The latest U.N. sanctions were imposed in June after the reclusive communist regime conducted a nuclear test in May and also test-fired ballistic and other missiles. The sanctions were aimed at derailing North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but also banned the North's sale of any conventional arms.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand made the seizure because of the U.N. resolution.

"Once further details have been finalized, and all the proper checks have been made we will report all details to the United Nations sanctions committee," he said.

Local press reports said Thai authorities were tipped off by their American counterparts about the cargo aboard the aircraft. U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Turner said the embassy would not comment on the incident.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said it would take several days to obtain details on the incident, which would be reported to the United Nations, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

"People should not be alarmed because the government will ensure that the investigation will be carried out transparently. The government will be able to explain the situation to foreign countries," Suthep said.

Thai authorities said the weapons were moved by trucks amid high security Saturday night from the airport to a military base in the nearby province of Nakhon Sawan.

Experts in Seoul, South Korea, noted that the seizure came days after President Barack Obama's special envoy made a rare three-day trip to North Korea on a mission to persuade Pyongyang to rejoin six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

Envoy Stephen Bosworth said the two sides had reached common understandings on the need to restart the talks.

"There is a possibility that the incident could have a negative effect on moves to get the North to rejoin the six-party talks and a U.S.-North Korea dialogue mood," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

Baek Seung-joo of the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses said the seizure demonstrated a U.S. intention to continue to enforce sanctions on the North while also engaging in dialogue.

Arms sales are a key source of hard currency for the impoverished North. Baek said the North is believed to have earned hundreds of millions of dollars every year by selling missiles, missile parts and other weapons to countries like Iran, Syria and Myanmar.

In August, the United Arab Emirates seized a Bahamas-flagged cargo ship bound for Iran with a cache of banned rocket-propelled grenades and other arms from North Korea, the first seizure since sanctions against North Korea were ramped up.

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No Plans for Fresh North Korea Talks: US Envoy
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The United States and North Korea have no plans for follow-up talks on resolving a nuclear impasse, a senior US envoy said in Beijing on Saturday after ice-breaking meetings this week in Pyongyang.

Stephen Bosworth arrived in China late Friday as part of a lightning tour to brief officials in the countries involved in stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea about his meeting in Pyongyang.

While reiterating that talks with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-Ju and top nuclear envoy Kim Kye-Gwan were "very constructive", Bosworth noted: "We have not talked about the possibility of another bilateral meeting."

Bosworth's three-day visit to the North was the first official contact between Washington and Pyongyang since President Barack Obama took office in January pledging direct diplomacy with US adversaries.

The two sides agreed on the need to resume the six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations hosted by China but did not set a date. Bosworth said that issue "remains to be resolved".

"That is something that we will be watching and waiting for," he said.

The US envoy described his talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as "extremely productive and cordial meetings".

"We agreed that it is essential that the five parties in the six-party talks continue to work to maintain unity of purpose and unity of where we are in terms of our position," he said.

The six-party forum groups the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and hosts China.

In April, angry at international censure of its long-range rocket launch, the North declared the six-party talks "dead". It later said it had resumed making weapons-grade plutonium.

In May it staged its second nuclear test since 2006 and followed up with missile launches in July, attracting tougher UN sanctions.

In October, the North told key ally China it was ready to return to the talks, but only if direct dialogue with the United States proved satisfactory.

Bosworth confirmed that beyond the nuclear issue, the two sides had discussed the normalisation of relations, as well as an eventual peace pact, but said those talks fell within the six-party framework.

"We talked about all of those issues... these are all issues to which all six parties are committed to have negotiations and discussions on," the US envoy told reporters.

"As far as the immediate future is concerned, as Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton has noted, this may be a time to exercise a bit of 'strategic patience'," he added.

Bosworth, who visited Seoul immediately after his talks in Pyongyang, was to head from Beijing to Tokyo on Saturday, and then on to Moscow.

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US: Time for 'Strategic Patience' With North Korea
Mari Yamaguchi
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

The special U.S. envoy to North Korea said Saturday there is no immediate plan for more talks with the reclusive communist nation and urged patience from the countries seeking the North's nuclear disarmament.

Stephen Bosworth, in Tokyo to brief Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada about his three-day meeting with North Korean officials this past week, said the situation remained "difficult" and members of stalled disarmament talks should stick together to make a breakthrough.

Bosworth, who had briefed officials in South Korea and China in earlier stopovers, called his Pyongyang visit "very businesslike, very candid, forward-looking." But he said how and when the six-nation negotiations would resume is yet to be resolved.

"We shouldn't expect things to start moving dramatically because of the latest development," Okada told reporters after meeting with Bosworth. "We still need to be patient."

North Korea walked away from the talks — which involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, the U.S. and Russia — earlier this year following international criticism of its ambitions to develop long-range rocket technology. It vowed never to return.

It conducted a nuclear test in April and restarted its nuclear facilities, drawing widespread condemnation and tighter U.N. sanctions. North Korea called it an issue between itself and the U.S. and demanded bilateral talks.

After Bosworth's visit, North Korea stopped short Friday of making a firm commitment to return to the negotiating table, but its reaction raised hopes that the disarmament process could resume.

The North said it understood the need to resume the nuclear negotiations and would work with Washington to resolve remaining "differences."

"This may be the time to exercise strategic patience," Bosworth told reporters in Beijing earlier Saturday. "Everyone, including North Korea, may need to sit quietly for a bit and see what happens."

Bosworth's talks were the Obama administration's first high-level contact with North Korea. He said after leaving the North on Thursday that the two sides reached a "common understanding" on the need to restart the nuclear negotiations.

North Korea echoed that Friday, adding the meetings "deepened the mutual understanding, narrowed their differences and found not a few common points."

The two sides also reached an understanding on the importance of implementing a 2005 disarmament pact, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by its official Korean Central News Agency.

The 2005 pact calls for North Korea to end its nuclear programs in exchange for economic aid, security assurances and diplomatic recognition.

Analysts said thorny issues remain unsolved and it was too early to call Bosworth's mission a success.

"North Korea will only return to the talks after the U.S. offers it a face-saving move or substantial rewards," said Lee Sang-hyun of the Sejong Institute, a private security think tank outside Seoul.

Bosworth is to head to Moscow on Sunday.

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C.  India

India Capable in Terms of Nuclear Deterrence: Research Organization
Xinhua News Agency
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Trying to put an end to all doubts about India's nuclear capability, the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India Tuesday said that India is self-sufficient and capable in terms of deterrence.

"In terms of deterrence, India has the capability, which it needs to have. Any deterrence is the function of what is the threat against which you are creating it and in that particular aspect, we are totally self-sufficient. India's deterrence capabilities are fully safe and all the infrastructure required is also in place," DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat told media in the national capital.

"In terms of capability, what matters is the efficacy of your deterrence and not the numbers I can assure you that in terms of efficacy, we are at par with whatever adversaries we are looking at," he said in response to questions about the doubts raised by the country's two nuclear scientists K. Santhanam and P.K. Iyengar.

Santhanam, who coordinated the Pokhran II tests, in August claimed that the only thermonuclear device tested was a "fizzle" that is it failed to meet the desired yield. Iyengar had supported his claims.

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India Has Credible Thermo-Nuclear Bombs in Its Arsenal: Claims Kakodkar
Associated Press of Pakistan
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Dr. Anil Kakodkar, who has recently relinquished charge as Chairman Atomic Energy Commission claimed on Sunday that India had credible thermo-nuclear bombs in its arsenal. “I think that is guaranteed. The Army should be fully confident and defend the country. There is no issue about the arsenal at their command,” Kakodkar said in an interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN Devils Advocate programme.

When Kakodkar was asked about low yield of 1998 thermo-nuclear tests as pointed by four leading Indian scientists and international experts, Kakodkar claimed the yield of thermo-nuclear tests was verified, not by one method but several redundant methods based on different principles, done by different groups.

Review was made and “I had described the tests in 1998 as perfect and I stand by that,” he said.

Indian scientists Dr Santhanam, Dr Iyengar, Dr Sethna and Dr Prasad•have raised serious doubts about India’s thermo-nuclear tests of 1998 while Dr Santhanam said “we have hard evidence on a purely factual basis that not only was the yield of the thermo-nuclear device far below the design prediction, but that it actually failed”.

Dr. Santhanam had also said that the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) seismic instruments measured the yield as something between 20-25 kilotonnes which is hugely different from the claim put out by the Atomic Energy Commission that it was 45 kilotonnes.

Kakodkar said the instruments used by DRDO to measure the yield of the tests at that time did not work. “I myself had reviewed this immediately after the test and we concluded that these instruments did not work.”

“Well, let me first of all say that that DAE and DRDO - we both work together as a team. DRDO did deploy some instruments for measurements but the fact is that the seismic instruments did not work. I myself had reviewed all the results immediately after the tests and we concluded that the instruments did not work,” he said.

However, Dr Santhanam had said the Bhabha Atomic Energy Center accepted the DRDO’s instruments.

When asked in an article that Dr Santhanam had written recently on November 15, 2009 for the Tribune, he says: The Department of Atomic Energy - the department to which you were ex-officio secretary - is in fact hiding facts from successive Indian governments, from Parliament and from Indian people, Kakodkar said “well, as I said earlier, we are perhaps unique in giving out the maximum information and that too very promptly - immediately after the tests.”

When asked after raising doubts by senior Indian scientists is there any need to form a peer group to review the data of the tests, he said there was no need for a peer group review yet again.

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India Tests Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile
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India successfully tested a nuclear-capable ballistic missile from a ship near the east coast on Sunday, a defense official said.

The Dhanush, which has a short range of 350 kilometres (220 miles), is a navy version of the surface-to-surface Prithvi missile and can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads.

The missile was successfully fired from a ship in the Bay of Bengal, said S.P. Das, director of Integrated Test Range, a unit of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation.

"The test met all the requisite parameters," he said.

The Dhanush was last tested in 2007.

Last month, India conducted the first night-time test of a nuclear-capable, medium-range ballistic missile but the attempt failed.

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D.  Nonproliferation

Australia, Japan Want Huge Cuts in Nuclear Arsenals
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The centre-left prime ministers of Japan and Australia on Tuesday voiced support for a report calling for a cut of more than 90 percent in the world's nuclear arsenals.

The two leaders issued their appeal after the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament called for the global stockpile of nuclear weapons to be cut to 2,000 from 23,000 -- 22,000 of them held by the United States and Russia -- by 2025.

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd travelled to Tokyo to meet his Japanese counterpart, Yukio Hatoyama, for the launch of the report, which was commissioned by both their governments.

"A guidebook that will lead the world to peace is now complete, and this is really wonderful," Hatoyama said of the report.

Rudd called the report "an important framework for discussions and debate on non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament in what will be a critical year in 2010."

The report was written by a 15-member group headed by former Australian and Japanese foreign ministers Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi ahead of a global meeting next May to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Maintaining the status-quo is not an option," said Evans. "Nuclear weapons are the most inhumane weapons ever conceived... they outweigh any conceivable security benefits."

Evans said the United States and other nuclear powers should drop their "dual standards" of wanting to keep their own nuclear arsenals while pushing for non-proliferation elsewhere.

"That is simply not a sustainable nor a credible position," he said.

US President Barack Obama this year outlined his vision of a nuclear-free world and agreed with former Cold War enemy Russia to discuss a new accord on cutting their nuclear arsenals.

Washington and Moscow are working on signing the successor pact to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and are likely to announce a deal by the end of this month, Evans said.

Rudd was in Japan for a brief stop before leaving for climate talks in Copenhagen.

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U.S. to Help Boost Cambodia's Seaport Security for Avoiding Nuclear Smuggling
Xinhua News Agency
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The United States on Monday inked an agreement with Cambodia to help the latter to strengthen the seaport security to avoid the nuclear smuggling and other radioactive material in the country.

Carol A. Rodley, U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, and Cambodian Senior Minister Om Yen Tieng signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments at the Secretariat of the National Counter terrorism Committee (SNCTC) in Phnom Penh, a press release from the U.S. Embassy said. The agreement launched a cooperative effort to help deter, detect, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material.

"The agreement, known as the Megaports Initiative, paves the way for the Kingdom of Cambodia to install radiation detection equipment at the Autonomous Port of Sihanoukville," it said.

According to the agreement, in addition to providing equipment and related infrastructure, the United States will also train Cambodian officials on the use and maintenance of the equipment.

"The installation of radiation detection equipment at the port will improve Cambodia's ability to monitor cargo at this critical location and underscores the importance of the country's seaports in regional maritime security," it added.

It said that the Megaports Initiative is now operational at 28 ports around the world. Work is underway at additional ports in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Kazakhstan Turns Into World's Leading Uranium Producer
RIA Novosti
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Kazakhstan's uranium production will hit 13,500 metric tons in 2009, or up 58% from last year, making the ex-Soviet state the world's leading uranium producer, Kazatomprom said on Tuesday.

"Consolidated revenue from the sale of Kazatomprom's output in 2009 will exceed last year's level by 53%," the country's nuclear holding company said in a statement.

Kazatomprom earlier said it expected to receive a net income of 49 billion tenge ($326.6 million) in 2009.

The company is currently developing areas like natural uranium conversion and enrichment, fuel production for reactors, and the creation and operation of small and medium-sized reactors.

Kazatomprom is the national operator for the import and export of uranium, rare metals, nuclear fuel for power plants, special equipment and duel-purpose materials.

The company is wholly owned by the government of Kazakhstan.

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Russia to Give Priority to Indian Nuclear Reactors
Sandeep Dikshit
The Hindu
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Russia on Monday said it would prioritise the manufacturing of the nuclear reactors ordered by India despite a full order book position, and said the granting of reprocessing rights was not a problem.

Speaking to mediapersons days after India and Russia signed a wide-ranging civil nuclear agreement, Russian ambassador Alexander Kadakin said the return of "familiar freshness" in bilateral ties was largely due to the nuclear agreement.

Russia could build up to six more reactors at Kudankulam (where two are already coming up) and at least 10 more units at the newly allocated site in Haripur, West Bengal. In addition, it wanted India to make a quick decision on allocating a third site where Russia could put up more reactors.

"The costs would be lower because of India's readiness to build the reactors in a series instead of one after the other. We have full orders but India's requirement would be met on a priority basis," said Mr. Kadakin, who is on his second stint as ambassador here.

'G-8 not a problem'

On reprocessing, he felt Russia was in a better position than other countries like the United States because its domestic laws were not as stringent. Mr. Kadakin also did not foresee any problem in providing India with enrichment and reprocessing technology despite a G-8 resolution prohibiting its transfer to countries that had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"We shall act according to all international obligations, but that does not prevent us from guaranteeing the full nuclear cycle to India. It [the G-8 resolution] will not impede the implementation of the big nuclear agreement," he said of the pact, which analysts say should be termed "456" as it is a major improvement over the 123 agreement signed with the U.S.

Mr. Kadakin singled out the agreement to extend military technical cooperation by another decade as indicative of the mutual between the two countries, despite India's desire to look at other destinations for sourcing military hardware.

Russia, however, did not mind India scouting for arms from elsewhere. Diversification is "natural" because India's requirement for weaponry is growing, he said.

Unresolved issues

Mr. Kadakin acknowledged the one irritant in ties - the supply of spares for equipment sold by Russia.

"When I came back after five years, I found nothing had changed in this respect. The new agreement on post supply servicing of equipment carries some obligations by the Russians. The situation will improve but there are some objective problems," he said. The unresolved issues are the difficulty in sourcing spares from now-independent countries that were once part of the Soviet Union, and the stoppage of production of some platforms like the MiG-21. Talks are on for setting up a spares facility for MiG-21 fighters, Mr. Kadakin added.

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Talks On for Nuclear Power Plants: French Envoy
The Hindu
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Negotiations were on between France and India to set up two nuclear power plants in southern Maharashtra, French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont said here on Friday. Replying to questions at a press conference, he said the two 1,600 MWe European pressurized reactors (ECRs) would be set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and French company Areva. This could be followed by four more power plants.

He said the French Parliament had ratified the Indo-French nuclear agreement. The instruments of ratification would be signed by the governments soon.

In regard to processing of spent fuel, he said: “India is going to treat the spent fuel. In case of a surplus, reprocessing would be done in France.” He said the governments had decided to reopen high-level scientific cooperation, particularly in crucial areas such as nuclear energy. This would be followed by joint training programmes in the nuclear power sector.

Nearly 25 per cent of French exports to India were in aeronautics. It had been decided to identify new areas of cooperation, including agriculture and food products.

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F.  Links of Interest

Farsi and English Versions of Document on Neutron Initiator
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Taiwan Investigates Report Iran Get Nuclear Parts Via Its Firms
Weiyi Lim
(for personal use only)

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

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