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Nuclear News - 12/29/2009
PGS Nuclear News, December 29, 2009
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Nuclear Plant 'Immune to Conventional Strike', AFP (12/28/2009)
    2. Iran Not Opposed to Exchange of Nuclear Fuel In a Third Country, Tehran Times  (12/28/2009)
    3. Russia: No Proof of Military Nuclear Plans in Iran, PressTV (12/26/2009)
    4. Senate to Vote on Iran Gas Sanctions in January, PressTV (12/25/2009)
    5. Maverick Iraqi Politician Claims Iran Could Go Nuclear Within Weeks, Heather Robinson, Jerusalem Post (12/25/2009)
    6. Iran Plans Satellite Launches Next Year, CNN (12/23/2009)
    1. Pakistan May Have Helped North Korea Build Nuclear Bomb, Philippine Times (12/28/2009)
    2. North Korea Built Plant for Uranium Enrichment: Report, AFP (12/28/2009)
    3. Russia's Lavrov Says Six-Party Talks With North Korea 'Mandatory', RIA Novosti (12/28/2009)
    4. North Korea May Detonate 3rd Nuclear Device: Think Tank, Yonhap News Agency (12/25/2009)
C.  Pakistan
    1. US Terror Suspects in Pakistan 'Had Nuclear Site Maps', Belfast Telegraph (12/28/2009)
D.  Nonproliferation
    1. U.S. Missile Shield Holding Up Nuclear Deal-Putin, Gleb Bryanski, The Star (12/29/2009)
    2. Iran to Host Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, Tehran Times  (12/28/2009)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Indo-Japan Talks on Nuke, Defence Cooperation, The Hindu Business Line (12/26/2009)
F.  Nuclear Energy
    1. South Korea Eyes Nuclear Contract With Turkey, AFP (12/28/2009)
    2. UAE's Four Nuclear Plants To Provide 25 Percent Electricity Demand By 2020, Bernama (12/28/2009)
    3. South Korea Wins Landmark Gulf Nuclear Power Deal, Amena Bakr and Cho Mee-young, Reuters (12/27/2009)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Police Arrest Nuclear Whistleblower Vanunu, Liel Kyzer, Haaretz (12/29/2009)
    2. Medvedev: Russia to Develop New Nuclear Missiles, Jessica Golloher, VOA News (12/24/2009)

A.  Iran

Iran Not Opposed to Exchange of Nuclear Fuel In a Third Country
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced late on Thursday that Tehran is not opposed to a simultaneous exchange of its low-enriched uranium for a higher enriched fuel in another country.

However, Mottaki said the West must first prove its sincerity that it will not backtrack an exchange deal.

“We have no problem for exchange of uranium on the soil of another country but they must first build confidence and prove their goodwill,” Mottaki said on IRIB’s channel 2 “Special Program”.

“The ball is in their own court, they should answer us,” Mottaki said in an address to the 5+1 group (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany).

Iran has already demanded guarantees that it will receive the 20 percent enriched uranium if it agrees to a trade for its low-enriched uranium.

Mottaki had disputed Western claims that Iran has rejected the proposal to exchange its low-enriched uranium for 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor.

In the first stage Iran is ready to exchange 400 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, Mottaki told reporters on the sidelines of The Manama Dialogue on Dec. 12.

Mottaki said Western powers should provide Iran with 20 percent enriched fuel it needs for its Tehran research reactor because it is a humanitarian issue, otherwise the country will produce the fuel itself.

Research reactor in Tehran manufactures medical radioisotopes for cancer treatment.

Tender for producing nuclear plants

The top diplomat also stated that Iran is planning to hold soon a tender for building 10 new nuclear power plants in line with the country’s plan to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity annually.

Yemen conflict

Commenting on the war in Yemen, Mottaki said the country is in a difficult situation and killing Yemeni civilians will not benefit anyone.

If Saudi Arabia is concerned about its borders with Yemen, it can defend its borders but interfering in Yemen’s affairs will not solve any problem, he commented.

He dismissed allegations that Iran is interfering in Yemen’s affairs, saying Yemeni officials have acknowledged that Iran is not meddling in their internal matters.

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Iran Nuclear Plant 'Immune to Conventional Strike'
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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Iran's recently disclosed second uranium enrichment plant is "immune" to conventional bombing.

"The new site near Qom is meant for enrichment. What was revealed by the Iranians had been built over years and is located in bunkers that cannot be destroyed through a conventional attack," Barak told parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee.

Iran notified the UN nuclear watchdog in September that it was building a second enrichment plant near the central shrine city of Qom, after Washington accused it of covertly evading its notification responsibilities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Confirmation of the construction work drew criticism not only from Western governments but also from the United Nations.

Enriched uranium can make the fuel for nuclear power plants but in highly extended form can also produce the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

Along with Western governments, Israel suspects Iran of seeking to develop a weapons capability under the guise of a civil nuclear programme, an accusation Tehran denies.

Along with its US ally, Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, has refused to rule out a resort to military action to prevent Iran developing a bomb.

Barak said he feared Iran could develop a weapon by 2011.

"I believe that by early 2010 Iran will hold threshold technology (for building a bomb). That means that if it wanted, it could develop nuclear weapons within a year from obtaining threshold technology," a senior official quoted him as telling the parliamentary committee.

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Russia: No Proof of Military Nuclear Plans in Iran
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As Western powers batten down the hatches and prepare sanctions against Tehran, a senior Russian official says there still is no proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

In remarks published on Friday, deputy Russian foreign minister Alexander Saltanov reiterated that Moscow is not convinced that Iran seeks to weoponize its nuclear program, and moreover he has not been shown any corroborative evidence confirming that the country has any such plans.

"Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon. It may be more like Japan, which has nuclear readiness but does not have a bomb," Primakov told The Jerusalem Post.

In order to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear work, Washington and a number of European countries have vowed to push for new UN sanctions early next year.

But the calls for renewed pressure were once again snubbed by China and Russia.

Saltanov said while "Iran has a positive potential" to cooperate with the West on its nuclear case, it is most evident that a military solution against the Tehran government would only make matters worse.

"If Israel attacks Iran it will cause great instability and will only postpone the Iranian program, not end it," noted the Russian official.

Israel routinely threatens to bomb Iran's enrichment sites, arguing that the country's nuclear work is a mortal threat to Tel Aviv, which ironically is reported to have the Middle East's sole nuclear arsenal and 200 nuclear warheads at its disposal.

This is while Iran, unlike Tel Aviv, is a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has opened its nuclear facilities to routine inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog.

In response to Israeli war threats, Tehran warns that if Tel Aviv steps out of line, it will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to maritime traffic, including the 15 or so supertankers that sail through on a daily basis to deliver the world's oil supplies.

A recent report by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has confirmed that if the United States or Israel decide to bomb Tehran's nuclear sites, Iran's naval modernization and maritime capabilities have reached a point where it can shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

"Given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran," said the intelligence report, which was revealed by Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin in November.

It notes that while Iran's ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz may be transitory, the impact would undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the already-fragile world economy.

"[World economies would suffer] a serious economic impact from a sustain closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum supplies and (liquefied natural gas)," ONI said.

On the same note, the report adds that not only has Tehran acquired "increasingly sophisticated systems" from China and Russia, but the “modernization” of the Iranian navy is to an extent that would help the government carry out such a closure if need be.

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Maverick Iraqi Politician Claims Iran Could Go Nuclear Within Weeks
Heather Robinson
Jerusalem Post
(for personal use only)

Iraqi parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi is warning that Iran is much closer to attaining nuclear capability than most sources, including the International Atomic Energy Agency and the US State Department, believe. In fact, he predicts the Iranians could have a nuclear capability - and may announce that they have it - as soon as next month.

"We are receiving information which says Iran is so close to producing an atom bomb," Alusi said in an interview earlier this month, the latest in a series of interviews conducted since September. "All the international community, they don't realize how close [the Iranians] are to the goal... The Iranians will surprise us one day [soon] and say, 'We have it.'"

Alusi said he cannot reveal his sources of this information, because that would place in grave and imminent danger individuals within the Iranian "establishment" who risked their lives to share it with him.

"I am talking about Iranian insider information. Very clear, from inside Iran," he said. "There are people within Iran who want to be normal... They know this is a dangerous regime. You see how they treat their own people... Iran is terrorizing the world already. What will they do once they have the bomb and they are stronger?"

Asked whether his sources are members of the Iranian government, or Iranian nuclear scientists, Alusi said he could not be more specific, but that they are "people who are part of the system in Iran, but [who] do know how dangerous it will be if the fascists are in control. They are wanting a normal situation to live, and they know this might be their last chance."

Alusi's estimate, which is that Iran will have nuclear capability by January or February, "sounds a little soon... [but] it's not outside the realm of possibility," according to Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, who has consulted for the CIA and Defense Department.

According to Israeli intelligence, however, Iran already has sufficient low-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon but has yet to reach the breakout stage and begin enriching uranium to higher levels, needed for a nuclear weapon. Even once this happens, it would take the Iranians some time to perfect the weapons program and manufacture a warhead. This would likely take a few years - until 2014, according to Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

An ideological pioneer, Alusi has frequently been ahead of the curve. Iraqi-born and bred, he fled to Germany in 1977 after being sentenced to death by Saddam Hussein for circulating anti-Ba'athist flyers. Following Saddam's ouster, he returned to Iraq with his two sons to accept a leadership position in the Supreme National Commission of de-Ba'athification.

In September 2004, he traveled to Israel to attend a counterterrorism conference. He did so because, in his words, he believes "Israel is a modern state and an important part of the Middle East."

Then, in February 2005, terrorist insurgents murdered his two sons, Ayman, 30, and Gamal, 22, apparently as payback for Alusi's visiting the Jewish state - a taboo in Iraqi society. Minutes after the attack, he told reporters, "Even if these terrorists try to kill me again... peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists."

Refusing to be intimidated, Alusi continued to build his political party, the Iraqi Democratic Nation Party, which his sons had helped him establish. In December 2005, voters elected him to parliament as an independent.

In early September 2009, before Iran announced the existence of a previously unknown uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom, Alusi told this reporter there were other major Iranian nuclear sites in addition to the four known to the international community. Now he says that in addition to the five currently known, there are even more Iranian nuclear sites.

In September, he also told this reporter that Iranian scientists were working feverishly to develop "[the] missiles and atom bomb program together." Soon afterward, Iran began testing short-and medium-range missiles, as well as the Shihab-3, a long-range missile that can reach Israel.

Earlier this month he said, "I believe the atom bomb will be declared... by January, February, with a nuclear bomb and missiles [to launch it]."

Alusi believes Teheran's announcement in late November that it intends to build 10 new uranium enrichment sites is a ploy designed to mislead the West into thinking Iran is farther away than it actually is from attaining nuclear capability.

Alusi said that the Iranian government cannot be appeased by compromise or concession. He believes they are determined to assert their hegemony; hence their brazen missile-testing.

Asked whether he thinks a military operation to set back Iran's nuclear program will prompt a surge in terrorism, Alusi argued this reasoning is flawed. "The opposite is correct," he said. "If Iran has [nuclear capability], there will be more terror attacks... If [after it attains nuclear capability] there is any clash, hundreds of thousands will die, at least."

He emphasized that admittedly painful sacrifice in the short-term will avert a catastrophic scenario in the long-term.

"We will pay a price [with a limited military operation to set back Iran's nuclear program], but nothing compared to the price if Iran has this kind of weapon and … all the international community will be in danger."

While the Iranian government is belligerent, those at the helm of its war machine are clear in their motives, which include the determined desire to become a superpower, according to Alusi. "They have goals. They want DC to accept them as a superpower. You don't know them. We do," he said.

Although he says he is generally averse to war, he believes a military operation is the only option now, the sooner the better. For every month that elapses, the human and environmental costs of undertaking such an operation will be greater, Alusi cautioned.

"Why do international leaders wait?" he said. "To act now is best to save [the most] human beings. In several months, the danger of radioactivity to human beings and nature will be far worse."

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Senate to Vote on Iran Gas Sanctions in January
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US plans to impose new sanctions on Iran may come into play sooner than expected as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows to bring the legislation to a vote in the coming weeks.

"This important piece of legislation...would impose new sanctions on Iran's refined petroleum sector and tighten existing US sanctions," Reid said in a Thursday colloquy with Senators Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).

He added that the new round of sanctions are aimed at halting what he described as Tehran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

"As we move forward with these negotiations, I want everyone to know that I am committed to getting this legislation to the floor sometime after we return in January," he added.

His remarks received the instant backing of fellow Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Christopher Dodd, who claimed in the same vein that his "primary goal with this bill is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability."

Earlier in April, a bipartisan slate of US senators and lawmakers, tabled a motion that advocated the imposition of tough sanctions against countries that sell refined petroleum, including gasoline, to Iran.

Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter but, according to US estimates, the country relies on gasoline imports to meet 40 percent of its domestic demand.

On December 15, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed a similar legislation dubbed as the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act and the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act.

Sanctions have played a key role in Washington's strategy to force the Tehran government into halting its nuclear activities. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Washington cited 'suspicions' about Iran's nuclear plans and accused the country of attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

This is while Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and unlike some of its regional neighbors has categorically asserted that its plans aim to generate electricity for a growing population.

The Security Council, under pressure from key members such as Washington, has also adopted three sets of sanctions against Iran over what it claims to be the country's nuclear activities.

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Iran Plans Satellite Launches Next Year
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Iran plans to launch satellites into orbit early in the New Year, its defense minister told the semi-official Fars news agency Wednesday.

"This satellite, which was built by Iranian scientists, is a big step for the continued presence of Iran in space and for taking advantage of the opportunities offered in this field," Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said.

The launches of the Tolou satellites -- which means "sunrise" in Farsi -- are scheduled to take place in February and March, according to Fars.

Iran launched its first satellite, Omid, in February, an event that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed at the time as a "source of pride" for the Islamic republic.

The U.S. State Department expressed "grave concern" over the launch.

"Developing a space launch vehicle that could ... put a satellite into orbit could possibly lead to development of a ballistic missile system," State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood told reporters. "So that's of grave concern to us."

The Pentagon called the February launch "clearly a concern of ours."

"Although this appears to be satellite, there are dual-use capabilities that could be applied to missiles, and that's a concern to us and everybody in region," Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said at the time.

For Iran, the planned launches are an important step for its military.

"Using these modern technologies, Iran's armed forces are capable of catching the enemies off guard, identifying their software and hardware potential and depriving the enemy of movement and maneuverability," Vahidi told Fars.

The development comes as the international community considers additional sanctions against Iran should Tehran not answer questions about its nuclear program. Western powers fear Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons, an allegation Tehran denies.

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North Korea Built Plant for Uranium Enrichment: Report
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North Korea may have constructed a plant to manufacture a gas needed for uranium enrichment in a development that would indicate that Pyongyang had opened a second way to build nuclear weapons as early as the 1990s, The Washington Post reported late Sunday.

Citing a previously unpublicized account by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb program, the newspaper said North Korea may have been enriching uranium on a small scale by 2002, with maybe 3,000 or even more centrifuges.

Pakistan helped North Korea with vital machinery, drawings and technical advice for at least six years, the report said.

The Post said Khan's account could not be independently corroborated. But one US intelligence official and a US diplomat said his information adds to their suspicions that North Korea has long pursued the enrichment of uranium in addition to making plutonium for bombs.

It also may help explain Pyongyang's assertion in September that it is in the final stages of such enrichment, the paper noted.

Khan described his dealings with the country in official documents and in correspondence with a former British journalist, Simon Henderson, who said he thinks an accurate understanding of Pakistan's nuclear history is relevant for US policymaking, the report pointed out.

The Post independently verified that the documents were produced by Khan.

Khan's account of the pilot plant depicts relations between the two countries' scientists as exceptionally close for nearly a decade, the paper said.

Khan says, for example, that during a visit to North Korea in 1999, he toured a mountain tunnel, according to the report. There his hosts showed him boxes containing components of three finished nuclear warheads, which he was told could be assembled for use atop missiles within an hour.

His visit occurred seven years before the country's first detonation, prompting some current and former US officials to say that Khan's account, if correct, suggests North Korea's achievements were more advanced than previously known, and that the country may have more sophisticated weapons, or a larger number, than earlier estimated, The Post said.

But Siegfried Hecker, a former Los Alamos National Laboratory director who was allowed to see some North Korean plutonium during a visit to its nuclear facilities in January 2004, said after hearing Khan's description of the trip he remains unconvinced that the country in 1999 had enough fissile material on hand to make such weapons.

The Post quotes Hecker as saying that Khan may have tried to get himself "off the hook" by implying that his own illicit technical assistance to Pyongyang was irrelevant because "these guys already had nuclear weapons."

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Pakistan May Have Helped North Korea Build Nuclear Bomb
Philippine Times
(for personal use only)

Pakistan may helped North Korea find a second way to build nuclear weapons as early as the 1990s, the Washington Post reported Monday citing a previously unpublicised account by the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb.

North Korea constructed a plant to manufacture a gas needed for uranium enrichment and may have been enriching uranium on a small scale by 2002, with 'maybe 3,000 or even more' centrifuges, it said citing notorious Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The influential US daily also quoted Khan as saying that Pakistan helped the country with vital machinery, drawings and technical advice for at least six years.

The Post said Khan's account could not be independently corroborated as North Korea's nuclear programme is among the world's most opaque.

But one US intelligence official and a US diplomat cited by the Post said Khan's information adds to their suspicions that North Korea has long pursued the enrichment of uranium in addition to making plutonium for bombs. It may also help explain Pyongyang's assertion in September that it is in the final stages of such enrichment.

Khan's account of the pilot plant, which he says North Korea built without help, is included in a narrative that depicts relations between the two countries' scientists as exceptionally close for nearly a decade.

Khan says, for example, that during a visit to North Korea in 1999, he toured a mountain tunnel. There his hosts showed him boxes containing components of three finished nuclear warheads, which he was told, could be assembled for use atop missiles within an hour.

'While they explained the construction (design of their bombs), they quietly showed me the six boxes' containing split cores for the warheads, as well as '64 ignitors/detonators per bomb packed in 6 separate boxes,' Khan said.

Khan said, however, there was a tacit agreement between the two governments that his laboratory 'would advise and guide them with the centrifuge programme and that the North Koreans would help Pakistan in fitting the nuclear warhead into the Ghauri missile' - his country's name for its version of the Nodong missiles that Pakistan bought from North Korea.

Pakistan gave North Korea vital equipment and software, and in return North Korea also 'taught us how to make Krytrons' - extremely fast electrical switches that are used in nuclear detonations and are tightly controlled in international commerce.

Contradicting Pakistani statements that the government had no involvement in such sensitive transfers, Khan says his assistance was approved by top political and Army officials, including then Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who currently oversees Pakistan's atomic arsenal.

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Russia's Lavrov Says Six-Party Talks With North Korea 'Mandatory'
RIA Novosti
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that circumstances for the resumption of talks with North Korea on its controversial nuclear program have improved.

"The resumption of six-party talks [with North Korea] is mandatory, and now circumstances for holding them are a bit better than earlier," Lavrov said at a news conference after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada in Moscow.

"We consider it necessary to discuss all questions that arise in a particular format, taking into consideration the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council remain in force," he said.

The Russian foreign minister answered negatively, when asked a question on whether certain parties are attempting to push Russia and Japan out of the talks.

"I do not think that someone seriously intends to move Russia, Japan or any other participant in six-party talks aside," he said, adding the attempt to hold direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang undertaken by the U.S.'s previous administration had not simply "failed," but has "contributed to the current worsening of the situation."

Katsuya Okada said in his turn that "the only way for them [the North Koreans] to overcome the current situation is to return to six-party talks."

He said the Japanese government intended to discuss issues with North Korea "on a complex basis".

The six-party talks, involving Russia, Japan, China, the United States, North and South Koreas came to a halt in April when Pyongyang pulled out of the negotiations in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution imposing further sanctions on North Korea for its new missile tests and an underground nuclear test in early June.

When asked the question on whether North Korea will produce new rockets or nuclear weapons in 2010, Lavrov said "I have no such information as of now."

Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy to North Korea, visited the country earlier this month. The South Korean Yonhap news agency quoted diplomatic sources as saying the U.S. was ready to establish a center for bilateral cooperation in North Korea if the country returns to negotiations.

During consultations in Moscow last week, Bosworth said the U.S. will sign a peace treaty with North Korea only if it abandons its controversial nuclear program.

The North recently hinted that it was willing to return to the talks, but insisted it first negotiate directly with the United States to repair "hostile relations."

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North Korea May Detonate 3rd Nuclear Device: Think Tank
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea may detonate a third nuclear device and provoke border clashes in the future that could escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula, a report by a state-run think tank said Friday.

In a report on possible developments in 2010, the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) warned Pyongyang may test another nuclear device to show the world that it has no plans to give up its atomic weapons program.

"Such a step could highlight that North Korea is a nuclear power," the report said. It added that North Korea might even launch an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching U.S. territories in the Pacific and the western coast of North America.

The communist country tested its first nuclear weapon in October 2006 and another more powerful device on May 25. The explosion that took place earlier in the year is estimated to have had a yield five times that of the 2006 device.

"The recent explosion has been estimated to have had a 4-kiloton yield, indicating that the North has made headway in developing an operational nuclear weapon," the latest findings said.

KIDA said that if the international community starts to accept the North as a nuclear power, this can cause public opinion in South Korea to move toward building up its own nuclear deterrent capabilities.

In addition, the institute said the North may try to incite military clashes along the inter-Korean border.

It said if the North were to invade islands in the Yellow Sea just south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), it could trigger a strong response by South Korea. Such developments may cause the dismantlement of the armistice regime signed after the Korea War (1950-1953) and weaken the NLL that has been the de facto sea border between the two countries.

There has been a total three clashes along the NLL so far, with the latest taking place on Nov. 10.

KIDA, meanwhile said that although clashes along the 248-kilometer demilitarized zone could take place, such events will probably be short firefights between troops, while air-to-air combat is not likely due to the North's weak Air Force assets.

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C.  Pakistan

US Terror Suspects in Pakistan 'Had Nuclear Site Maps'
Belfast Telegraph
(for personal use only)

Pakistan police are trying to determine whether five arrested Americans planned to attack a nuclear power complex.

The young Muslim men from the Washington DC area, were picked up in Pakistan earlier this month in a case that has spurred fears that Westerners are travelling there to join militant groups.

Pakistani police and government officials have made a series of escalating and, at times, seemingly contradictory allegations about the men's intentions, while US officials have been far more cautious, though they, too, are looking at charging the men.

A Pakistani government official said that the men had established contact with Taliban commanders and planned to attack sites in Pakistan.

Earlier, local police accused the men of intending to fight in Afghanistan after meeting militant leaders.

The men had a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex that along with nuclear power facilities houses a water reservoir and other structures, said Javed Islam, a senior police official in the Sargodha area of Punjab province.

He stressed the men were not carrying a specific map of any nuclear power plant, but rather the whole of Chashma Barrage.

The detained men had also exchanged emails about the area, Islam said.

"We are also working to retrieve some of the deleted material in their computers," he said.

Pakistan has a nuclear weapons arsenal, but it also has nuclear power plants for civilian purposes.

Any nuclear activity in Pakistan tends to come under scrutiny because of the nation's past history of leaking sensitive nuclear secrets due to the actions of the main architect of its atomic weapons programme, Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But as militancy has spread in Pakistan, officials have repeatedly insisted the nuclear weapons programme is safe.

Pakistani police plan to recommend that courts charge the five men with collecting and attempting to collect material to carry out terrorist activities in the country, police official Nazir Ahmad said.

The punishments for those charges range from seven years to life in prison.

Officials in both countries have said they expected the men would eventually be deported to the US, but charging the men in Pakistan could delay that process - Pakistan's legal system can be slow and opaque.

In an interview with The Associated Press yesterday, Punjab province law minister Rana Sanaullah said the men had established contact with Taliban commanders.

He said they had planned to meet Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Qari Hussain in Pakistan's tribal regions before going on to attack sites inside Pakistan.

The nuclear power plant "might have been" one of the targets, Mr Sanaullah said.

The FBI, whose agents have been granted some access to the men, is looking into what potential charges they could face in the US. Possibilities include conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group.

The US embassy would not comment on the potential charges or say what efforts Washington was making to bring the men back.

The five were arrested in Sargodha earlier this month, but are being held in Lahore.

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D.  Nonproliferation

U.S. Missile Shield Holding Up Nuclear Deal-Putin
Gleb Bryanski
The Star
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday U.S. plans for a missile defence system were the main obstacle to reaching a new deal on reducing Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons.

The two largest nuclear powers say they are close to agreeing on a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), although U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have yet to clinch a deal.

Asked by a reporter what the biggest problem was in the talks, Putin said: "What is the problem? The problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one."

Speaking to reporters in the Far Eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, Putin said the U.S. plans would fundamentally disrupt the Cold War balance of power and Russia would thus be forced to develop new offensive weapons.

The comments, from Russia's most powerful politician, showed the seriousness of the problems hampering talks on a replacement for START I and illustrated the deep unease still felt in Moscow over Washington's missile defence plans.

In September, Obama said the United States would scrap parts of George W. Bush's missile defence plans, a step seen as an attempt to allay Kremlin fears that the system was a direct threat to Russia.

Cutting the thousands of nuclear weapons accumulated during the Cold War is the centrepiece of Obama's efforts to "reset" relations with Russia, which the United States is pressing to offer more help on Afghanistan and Iran.


Russia's leaders have remained wary about Obama's revised missile defence plans, which are based on sea- and land-based missile interceptors in Europe.

"If we are not developing an anti-missile shield, then there is a danger that our partners, by creating such 'an umbrella', will feel completely secure and thus can allow themselves to do what they want, disrupting the balance, and aggressiveness will rise immediately," Putin said.

"In order to preserve balance ... we need to develop offensive weapons systems," Putin said, echoing a pledge by Medvedev last week to develop a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons.

Putin said Moscow wanted more information about the U.S. plans in exchange for details about Russia's deployed nuclear offensive missiles.

"The problems of anti-missile defence and offensive weapons are very tightly linked to each other," he said, adding that talks on a new treaty were moving in a generally positive direction.

Russia and the United States failed to agree on a successor to START I by Dec. 5, when the treaty was due to expire, and have extended it as they try to work out a new agreement.

Obama and Medvedev failed to clinch a deal when they met on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen earlier this month. No reason was given, although they said they were close to an agreement.

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Iran to Host Conference on Nuclear Disarmament
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

Iran plans to hold an international conference on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, a top Iranian security official said on Thursday.

Saeed Jalili, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary, made the remarks during his visits to the site of nuclear bombardment in Hiroshima and the city’s memorial museum.

He told also reporters that the U.S. must be stripped of its nuclear weapons and the veto right at the UN Security Council as the “least punishment” for dropping nuclear bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

Unfortunately, the U.S. was not censured for such a horrendous crime, instead, the country was awarded veto right at the Security Council, he said.

“The Hiroshima disaster showed that certain powers like the U.S. make no hesitation to kill innocent people whenever they find it meets their interests.”

60 years have passed since the tragedy took place and unfortunately, none of the U.S. presidents has come to Hiroshima to apologize for committing such a crime, he stated.

Even Barack Obama, who uses slogan of change, did not come to Hiroshima during his recent visit to Japan, he added.

“Of course, the real apology is that the U.S. is stripped of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction,” Jalili observed.

“I hope that the U.S. president accepts invitation by Hiroshima mayor and come to Hiroshima and apologize to (Hiroshima’s) people,” he noted.

The high-ranking official also said the fact that the U.S. and other major powers are not committed to eliminating their nuclear weapons, is “the biggest threat to global security”.

He called on the international community to pressure Washington to eradicate its atomic arsenal.

During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against Japan. The bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945, with roughly half of those deaths occurring on the days of the bombings.

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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

Indo-Japan Talks on Nuke, Defence Cooperation
The Hindu Business Line
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Civil nuclear cooperation, enhancing of economic and defence ties are some of the key issues to be discussed between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his Japanese Prime Minister Mr Yukio Hatoyama who arrives in the country tomorrow for his first official visit.

The new Japanese Prime Minister, who took over in mid-September, will reach Mumbai where he will pay tributes to the victims of 26/11 terror attacks and sign a condolence book in Trident hotel.

He will also interact with top Indian business leaders, including Mr Ratan Tata, before heading to New Delhi on Monday where he will hold delegation level talks with Dr Singh.

“The two Prime Ministers will discuss ways to expand, enhance and strengthen the India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership. They will also discuss regional and global issues,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mr Vishnu Prakash said while briefing the report ers about the upcoming visit. Dr Singh will also host a private dinner on Monday for the 62-year-old Japanese leader who is accompanied by his wife Ms Miyuki Hatoyama and senior ministers of his government.

The two leaders will sit down for delegation-level talks on Tuesday followed by a brief joint press interaction, he said. This will be the 4th Annual Summit between the Prime Ministers of India and Japan since 2006.

Asked if the two leaders will talk about cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy, Mr Prakash said the “entire gamut” is going to be discussed.

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F.  Nuclear Energy

South Korea Eyes Nuclear Contract With Turkey
(for personal use only)

South Korea is seeking a nuclear power plant contract in Turkey following its landmark 20.4 billion dollar deal with the United Arab Emirates, an official said Monday.

"Nothing has been decided, but we plan to bid for a nuclear power plant project in Turkey," a spokesman for state utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) told AFP.

Turkey is pushing to build four nuclear plants, each costing about five billion dollars, along the Black Sea coast and bids are expected to be called in the first half of next year, Yonhap news agency said.

A consortium led by KEPCO won a contract Sunday to build four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates after a summit between South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and UAE counterpart Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi.

The consortium, which includes five other South Korean firms, Westinghouse Electric of the United States and Japan's Toshiba Corp, will build four 1,400-megawatt light water nuclear reactors by 2020.

It won the deal against competition from two rival groups that included a consortium of French companies and another composed of the US company General Electric and Japan's Hitachi.

South Korean officials said the agreement could lead to additional contracts worth 20 billion dollars to operate and maintain the reactors over the next 60 years.

It came three weeks after Jordan selected a separate South Korean consortium as priority negotiating partner for a project worth about 173 million dollars to build a five-megawatt research reactor by 2014.

"It paved the way for exports of our nuclear power plants for the first time in our history," President Lee said Monday in his regular radio address.

Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said the deal was a "matter for congratulation". The Korea Herald said the contract "proves that Korea is emerging as a powerhouse to be reckoned with in the global market for nuclear power plants".

Analysts said the deal would help the country gain a foothold in the global nuclear business dominated by French, Japanese, US and Russian companies.

"As the Korean consortium won a mega nuclear reactor contract yesterday, South Korea will have an edge over other countries in future bids for nuclear reactors, due to the stability and security of Korean reactors," Shin Min-Seok of Daewoo Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.

South Korea, with few natural energy sources, operates 20 commercial reactors to provide 40 percent of its electricity needs.

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UAE's Four Nuclear Plants To Provide 25 Percent Electricity Demand By 2020
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Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC) Mohammed Al-Hammadi stressed that the four nuclear plants planned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will provide 25 percent of the country's electricity demand by 2020, according to the Emirates news agency (WAM)'s report on Monday.

The UAE is planning to construct a fleet of nuclear power plants at different locations of the country to meet the increasing demand for electricity.

"Ten locations have been chosen and agreed on with the South Korean side for constructing the new nuclear plants as per a set of relevant standards and conditions," WAM cited Al-Hammadi, as saying in a press conference held at ENEC head office.

Studies conducted by concerned bodies revealed that the UAE will need around 40000 megawatt and that the best solutions and the most environmentally-friendly solution is electricity generated by nuclear plants since nuclear fuel will be enough to power one plant for 18 month, Al-Hammadi explained.

Other studies, he noted, show that nuclear fuel could power a nuclear plant for 24 months since the third generation plants would work at 90 percent of their operation capacity, he noted.

According to the UAE's strategy, the processing of spent nuclear fuel (spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from plants is divided into three stages namely storing spent fuel inside the plants for ten years for cooling purposes, transferring it to lead containers for another ten years and storing it to containers made of concrete and steel for shipping it to producing countries for recycling under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he further explained.

Highly-qualified 75 nuclear experts and specialists from different countries were hired and they will be responsible for follow-up, technical supervision over the construction of the four nuclear plants which the highly experienced

A South Korean consortium won a contract today to design, build and help operate. Al-Hammadi noted that the agreement with Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), South Koreans will own shares of the company which will be responsible for the management and operating of the four nuclear plants.

Hee Yong Lee, a trained nuclear engineer who has constructed six nuclear plants, will work with ENEC to training UAE national human resources and engineers for the management, operating nuclear plants and help them get licensed as nuclear engineers.

The contract the South Korean consortium has won is among the biggest and most significant in the history of nuclear power plants construction, he noted.

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South Korea Wins Landmark Gulf Nuclear Power Deal
Amena Bakr and Cho Mee-young
(for personal use only)

A South Korean group won a landmark deal to build and operate four nuclear reactors for the United Arab Emirates, beating more favoured U.S. and French rivals to one of the Middle East's biggest ever energy contracts.

Under the $40 billion deal announced on Sunday, which Seoul said it hoped would kick-start an export drive for its nuclear technology, the first nuclear plant in the Gulf Arab region is scheduled to start supplying power to the UAE grid in 2017.

In stark contrast to the development programme launched by northern Gulf neighbour Iran, the UAE's nuclear ambitions carry the blessing of its ally the United States.

A consortium led by state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) (015760.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) aims to complete the UAE's four 1,400 megawatt reactors by 2020.

The South Korean president's office described the deal as "the largest mega-project in Korean history", while KEPCO said it was also it was in talks with Turkey to export two nuclear power reactors to Black Sea areas. [ID:nTOE5BQ003]

The U.S. and the UAE have a nuclear cooperation pact and U.S.-based firm Westinghouse Electric, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp (6502.T: Quote, Profile, Research), was part of the winning consortium.

It also includes Hyundai Engineering and Construction (000720.KS: Quote, Profile, Research), Samsung C&T Corp (000830.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) and Doosan Heavy Industries (034020.KS: Quote, Profile, Research). The UAE has pledged to import the fuel it needs for reactors -- rather than attempting to enrich uranium, the fuel for nuclear power plants -- to allay fears about enrichment facilities being used to make weapons-grade material.

Iran has long been at odds with the West over its declared plans to use enriched uranium to generate electricity, a programme the United States and European allies fear is a cover to develop the ability to produce atomic bombs.

South Korea hopes to use nascent nuclear programmes in the Middle East, which include developments in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as a springboard for expanding its nuclear industry, though the projects have fuelled concerns within the international community over a regional arms race.

"We are now expecting much bigger opportunities in entering overseas markets as winning the UAE nuclear deal will play a role of convincing those countries in the Middle East and other regions which are thinking of importing nuclear power reactors," KEPCO said in a statement.


The UAE, the world's third-largest oil exporter, needs the nuclear power to help meet an expected rise in electricity demand to 40,000 MW in 2020 from around 15,000 MW last year, amid a petrodollar-fuelled economic boom.

South Korea said it also hopes to build more plants in the UAE beyond 2020 to meet future demand.

"Considering the growth estimates in the UAE's power demand, South Korea expects to win additional projects to build nuclear power reactors in addition to this contract for four reactors," it said.

The South Korean group beat a French consortium and another group led by U.S. giant General Electric (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research). The $20 billion Korean bid was $16 billion lower than the French group's bid, an industry source said.

In addition to the deal to design and build the plants, the Korean consortium expects to earn another $20 billion by jointly operating the reactors for 60 years.


The choice of South Korea surprised some analysts, who had expected the deal to go to one of the other consortiums for strategic reasons.

"The UAE's choice must have been based on strictly commercial terms because in terms of political clout in the region it's nil," said Al Troner, president of Houston-based Asia Pacific Energy Consulting.

"Korea has a good track record in terms of safety and price and it's a surprise to see the U.S. and France are not part of the bid because they are the ones with the more political strength in the Middle East."

The emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is driving the UAE nuclear programme, holds most of the UAE's crude reserves, and has managed to avoid the worst of the global economic slowdown as well as the debt crisis that has hit neighbouring Dubai.

Dubai's debt crisis had cast a shadow over financing prospects for other Gulf borrowers but analysts expect blue-chip names like Abu Dhabi and Qatar to weather the fallout.

"These are long-term projects and many of the finance providers will look beyond what is happening today," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi-Credit Agricole Group in Riyadh. "The UAE's nuclear programme is a strategic project."

He said the UAE could issue bonds in future to fund the project, in addition to the usual mix of project financing methods such as export agencies and banks.

"I think by the time they do this (issue bonds), the Dubai storm will be over, plus Abu Dhabi would have a substantial windfall from oil revenues," he said.

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G.  Links of Interest

Police Arrest Nuclear Whistleblower Vanunu
Liel Kyzer
(for personal use only)

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Medvedev: Russia to Develop New Nuclear Missiles
Jessica Golloher
VOA News
(for personal use only)

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