1. Iran to Review Ties With Countries Over IAEA Vote
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Iran's parliament will review the Islamic republic's relations with countries that voted against its nuclear activities at the International Atomic Energy Agency last week, the speaker said on Thursday.
"Iran had proper cooperation with the agency's board of governors, but the recent resolution calls for careful studies on the vote in parliament's national security committee," Ali Larijani was quoted as saying by official IRNA news agency.
"Parliament will review Iran's relations with those countries that voted for the recent resolution against us."
The IAEA board angered Iran last week by censuring it for covertly building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom, in addition to its main IAEA-monitored one at Natanz, and calling for a halt to construction.
The resolution passed by a 25-3 margin with six abstentions, smoothed by rare backing from Russia and China, which have blocked global attempts to isolate Iran, a trade partner for both, in the past.
"The West's claim that Iran seeks nuclear weapon is a big lie ... Iranian nation stays firm on its chosen path," state broadcaster IRIB quoted Larajani as saying.
The United States and its allies fear Iran's nuclear energy program could allow the leading OPEC producer to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says it has no such intention.
Iran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for the IAEA vote. On Tuesday a foreign ministry spokesman had said Iran would take unspecified legal action over the IAEA vote.
Iran has resisted a deal with Western powers that would see its low-enriched uranium sent abroad for processing into uranium for making fuel.
Western countries are brandishing the threat of more U.N. sanctions on Iran which could target its imports of gasoline.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE5B220W20091203
Speaking after a meeting with Iran's nuclear negotiator in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday reiterated his support for Iran's right to nuclear technology and to enrich uranium. Al-Assad and Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran's national security council, also discussed regional and international issues, including ongoing tensions in the Palestinian territories, a statement from the Syrian presidency said.
It is "Iran's right, as it is the right of other state signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to enrich (uranium) for peaceful purposes," al-Assad said.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moalem said his country would back Iran if it sought to enrich some of its uranium holdings to 20 per cent, as Iran has threatened to do if talks with the West failed to produce a deal that would supply Iran with the nuclear fuel it seeks.
Soon after Jalili arrived in Damascus, an explosion killed at least four people on a bus full of Iranian pilgrims visiting a Shiite holy site on the outskirts of the capital, witnesses and doctors said.
In remark's carried by Syria's official news agency, Syrian Interior Minister Said Mohammed Sammur said the explosion had been caused by a fault with an air pump used to inflate tyres, and not by a bomb.
Available at: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/297544,syria-iran-has-right-to-nuclear-technology.html
3. Ahmadinejad Hits Out at Russia for Backing IAEA Resolution
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Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad has said Russia "made a mistake" when it backed the UN nuclear watchdog's recent resolution on Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) censured Iran for withholding information on its controversial nuclear program in a resolution last week. It also urged Iran to freeze construction of its newly revealed uranium enrichment facility in Qom.
"Russia made a mistake. It made an incorrect analysis of the current international situation," Ahmadinejad told the national TV.
He added that the recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities in Iran were not a "bluff" and Tehran would go ahead with the program.
"There is no room for bluff in this regard. We are set to achieve everything that was declared," Ahmadinejad said
Iran's government instructed the country's nuclear organization on Sunday to start building five new plants and outline locations for another five within two months. The facilities will be similar to the existing facility in Natanz. The Iranian leader has set a goal to produce about 250-300 metric tons of nuclear fuel annually.
The Iranian president added that his country had no plans to report to the IAEA on its nuclear projects.
"We are not obliged to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency about our nuclear facility construction plans unless the technology is imported," he said.
"Sanctions will have no effect. Aggressors will regret it as soon as they put their finger on trigger," he said.
A diplomatic source said on Tuesday Russia would back sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program if an international consensus is reached.
"If there is a consensus on sanctions, Russia will not remain in isolation," the source said.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20091202/157065661.html
A former international weapons inspector assessed Tuesday that engaging Iran on its nuclear program hadn't worked and called for a containment and deterrence regime to accompany an increase in pressure on Teheran.
David Albright, who once worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that "negotiations are going nowhere" and urged a comprehensive program of sanctions, increased regional missile defense, regional arms control and more aid to Israel as well as concessions on Jerusalem's alleged nuclear weapons program.
"There needs to be a reorientation toward this kind of strategy," Albright said, speaking to The Jerusalem Post after participating on a Foundation for Defense of Democracies panel on preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.
"You need to shift more toward a policy of pressure. Sanctions and offers of negotiations are not enough." Still, he indicated that he backed both measures, and that the former should be a comprehensive "economic tax" which inflicts pain on the Islamic republic.
Two Iranian experts who participated in Tuesday's panel, though, called for any sanctions to be targeted and focus more narrowly on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and other leading political-military actors so that those behind Iran's aggressive stance would be hurt rather than the general public.
They also called for sanctions to be implemented in the context of pressing Teheran for democracy and human rights, arguing that that would help undermine the regime more than focusing on the nuclear issue.
"Sanctions implemented in the name of human rights, in the name of democracy, would help Iranian civil society," said Farhad Khosrokhavar, author of 14 books on Iran, Islam and radicalism, who said money reaped by the IRCG and similar groups doesn't reach the middle class anyway.
Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that the US administration could do more in general to help the reformers, who have opposed the current leadership ever since the contested presidential elections in June were held.
"The administration could stand to be more outspoken about rights issues is Iran, and [indicate] that we recognize which is the right side of history," he said.
That perspective was particularly important since it is the nature of the current regime that most needed to change for there to be headway on the nuclear issue, according to Sadjadpour: "The underlying problem we have is the character of the regime more than its nuclear ambitions." Khosrokhavar stressed that obtaining a nuclear capacity, in addition to opposing the US, was too important to the current regime to make it inconceivable that it would abandon the effort in a deal with the West.
"I don't think this government can make any major concessions on the nuclear issue because their identity is based on it," he said. "Their own survival is related to the nuclear issue." And Sadjadpour said that when Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, felt threatened internally or externally, his default position is "always defiance" and that "you never compromise under pressure."
Still, Albright raised questions about the reformers on the nuclear issue and criticized opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi for pushing to scuttle aspects of a US-Iran arrangement on nuclear processing.
Such "opportunism," he contended, "doesn't help." The Iranian experts appearing alongside Albright, however, defended the Iranian opposition as having little choice but to support the nuclear program publicly given their delicate position, and Khosrokhavar argued a new regime lead by the reformists would be "much more flexible" toward the US on the nuclear program.
Sadjadpour also pointed out that "the opposition is far less belligerent towards Israel." However, they assessed that the reformers are unlikely to head a new regime any time soon.
"This movement isn't able in the current configuration to topple the government," said Khosrokhavar, but since the government couldn't suppress it entirely, a certain "malaise" had taken over.
In the meantime, he said, the government is looking to break the deadlock and find a way to break apart the opposition, and suggested "they are keen to have some kind of military confrontation with the West" to justify doing just that.
Albright voiced opposition to a military option, questioning how seriously it would set back the Iranian nuclear program, but he said that it was important to make clear the US would respond aggressively to any attack.
To this end, he said it was also important for military aid to Israel to be bolstered as well as other defensive military measures taken to protect against a scenario in which Iran's program wasn't stopped.
Albright said that Israel should be willing to make small concessions on testing and other aspects of its own nuclear program to foster contributions from the Arab world and keep countries like Egypt from also attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.
"You need to take some air out of the balloon," he said of the Israeli nuclear program. "If there's nothing done by Israel than it's harder for the Arab states to make concessions."
Available at: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1259243057235&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
Iran has warned Western powers against sanctions on the Islamic Republic, saying any stop in Tehran's crude exports could lead to price hikes.
"Iran is one of the world's major oil producers and any cut in Iran's supply of crude will, undoubtedly, cause prices to surge," Mehr news agency quoted Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi as saying on Tuesday.
The comments came as major powers threaten Tehran with further sanctions, including a fuel embargo, over its nuclear activities.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution, backed by the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China, urging Iran to stop all construction work at its new enrichment plant, Fordo.
Mirkazemi said that imposing an embargo on Iran — the world's fifth largest crude producer — would not harm the country's oil industry.
Iran has the world's second and third largest gas and oil reserves respectively.
He also called on members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) not to increase their oil output during their December 22 meeting.
"We should exert effort to reach price stability in the market," he said, adding that "These days the situation is not right to raise output."
The minister also noted that Iran plans to attract a total of $35 billion investment annually in its energy sector over the next five years.
"For the next five years' development plan, the target is at least $35 billion per year, both in foreign and local investment, for the upstream section of the oil and gas industry."
Mirkazemi also rejected a report that Iran has granted Turkey with a right to sell its natural gas to other countries.
Earlier, a report suggested that Turkey intends to acquire 50 percent of Iran's gas marketing rights.
"Iran's policy is to sell its gas directly to the final consumers," he said.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=112665§ionid=351020103
6. Iran to Enrich Uranium to 20 Percent for Needed Fuel
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Days after Iran announced that it would start building ten new industrial scale enrichment plants, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran will start enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent.
Addressing a crowd in Iran's central province of Isfahan, President Ahmadinejad said the West has been making efforts to get in the way of Iran's nuclear progress.
"We asked for 20 percent enriched uranium fuel which according to the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) they can provide us with. However, they refused to do so," President Ahmadinejad said.
"God willing, Iran will produce [nuclear] fuel enriched to a level of 20 percent," the Iranian president announced.
The remarks came as earlier Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Baqeri warned that should the IAEA fail to provide Iran's needed fuel, the country would move to enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent on its own.
The new nuclear development comes as Tehran's research reactor has run out of fuel after years of operation and therefore Iranian nuclear officials called on the IAEA to provide the required fuel for the medical reactor.
"Based on legal terms, we have no problem to obtain the fuel for the Tehran reactor as enrichment to a level of more than 5 percent or 20 percent is not prohibited to be carried out by different countries [that are signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)]," Baqeri, who is a deputy to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said earlier.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=112687§ionid=351020104
7. 'No Place for A-Bombs in Iran's Defense Doctrine'
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran does not need nuclear weapons to defend itself against enemies and emphasized that the country is ideologically opposed to nuclear weapons.
“[Nuclear] bombs have no place in Iran's defense doctrine,” Ahmadinejad told Iran's IRIB Channel One in a live interview on Tuesday night.
“The West's claims that Iran is trying to develop nuclear bombs are totally baseless, and we have repeatedly declared that we don't want to develop [nuclear] bombs,” the Iranian president stated.
“The Leader (of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei) has declared that we are ideologically opposed to [nuclear] bombs,” Ahmadinejad added.
Tehran has repeatedly declared that its nuclear program is peaceful and is being pursued within the framework of international regulations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found a shred of evidence indicating that Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=112637§ionid=351020104
8. Russia Not to Stand Aloof on Iran Sanctions - Source
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Russia signaled impatience with Iran and growing acceptance of the West's threat of sanctions on Tuesday, pointing to Tehran's plans for new nuclear enrichment projects as a reason for pessimism about a diplomatic solution.
Russia would not be isolated if other powers reached a consensus on Iran sanctions, said a senior Russian diplomatic source, in Moscow's most critical comments yet in the ongoing dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme.
"If there is a consensus on Iran sanctions, we will not stand aside," said the diplomatic source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
"We will be thinking about sanctions but this is not an issue of the next few hours or weeks," the source said, adding that Moscow did not want to complicate the situation with threats against Tehran.
Tehran caused an international outcry on Sunday when it announced plans to build 10 more uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for a rebuke by the U.N. nuclear agency for covering up an enrichment project for at least two years.
Western powers, Russia and China backed a U.N.-drafted nuclear fuel deal in October that was designed to allay international concern about Iran's atomic activities, but Tehran declined it.
"We will not contribute to the complicated situation with threats of sanctions but we will have in view such prospects ... we are not going to remain isolated," the source said.
Iran's announcement that it planned to build new enrichment centres did "not add optimism to talks with Iran", the source said, adding that Russia wanted Iran to cooperate openly and consistently with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We would rather have Iran cooperating more openly and consistently with the IAEA and showing clear steps to lift concerns -- which are gaining greater foundation -- than introducing sanctions against Iran," the source said.
Analysts said the comments showed that Moscow is tiring of Iran's failure to allay Western fears about its nuclear programme and also irritated by growing criticism at Russia's failure to deliver S-300 air defence missiles.
"In terms of general dynamics of course Russia is moving closer to sanctions," said Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, who said Moscow was irritated with Tehran for not accepting its offer to enrich uranium.
"Russia is for sure angry at Iran for a few reasons, not only the general attitude of Iran. The Iranians are also very irritated at Russia's stance, for example threatening an international court case against Russia over the failure to deliver S-300s," he said.
Russia's economic interests in Iran include building the Bushehr atomic power station. Once a source of disagreement between Russia and the West, the United States now says the plant removes any need for Iran to have its own uranium enrichment programme.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-44379320091201?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=401
1. U.S. Lays Out Goals Ahead of Talks with North Korea
Yonhap News Agency
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The top U.S. diplomat in South Korea on Thursday laid out goals her country seeks to achieve when its special envoy on North Korea visits Pyongyang next week to revive multinational talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
President Barack Obama's senior North Korea envoy, Stephen Bosworth, is set to fly into Pyongyang on Dec. 8 for a meeting with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju.
Kathleen Stephens, U.S. ambassador to South Korea, told a forum here that the trip will "take place in the context of the six-party talks with the purpose of facilitating early resumption of the six-party talks," which include the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the U.S.
The trip will also focus on securing North Korea's reaffirmation of a 2005 six-party agreement, she said, adding it includes Pyongyang's "commitment to the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner."
The agreement calls for the North's nuclear dismantlement in return for hefty economic aid, diplomatic recognition and establishment of a permanent peace regime to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Stephens, however, ruled out the issue of U.S. forces in South Korea as part of the negotiations between her country and North Korea, which has called them a threat to its survival and pushed for their withdrawal.
"We've always been clear that when we talk about the peace regime, or peace treaty, peace agreement, the issue of the U.S.-R.O.K alliance is not on the table," she said. "That is a lasting commitment we have, and that is not on the table."
The R.O.K stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official title.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea, which was slapped with a fresh set of U.N. sanctions when it conducted its second nuclear in May this year.
In an apparent bid to curb free market activities, the communist country recently conducted its first currency revaluation in 17 years, according to outside observers.
Stephens, citing her experience in other countries that had gone ahead with similar reforms, expressed remorse over the fate of North Koreans whose economic struggles have likely deepened due to the revaluation.
"It makes me feel sad for the long suffering people of North Korea," she said, speaking at the forum organized by the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, a local think tank.
Stephens said the most wide-ranging economic deal between her country and South Korea warrants review by the sides after Obama indicated in his recent trip to Seoul that the two-way free trade agreement should come under discussion before being ratified by the parliaments of the countries.
"The renewed attention over the last few months is important," she said, citing concerns expressed by the automotive industry in her country over the deal.
"This is an area we'll have to have some discussions about," she said, adding that the U.S. has "not gotten to the point of developing those ideas" based on the comments collected from the auto industry.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/12/03/18/0401000000AEN20091203008600315F.HTML
2. North Korea Not Ready to Resume Nuclear Talks - Russian Senator
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The North Korean leadership is not yet ready resume six-party talks on its nuclear program, the speaker of the upper house of Russia's parliament said after his visit to the country.
The six-party talks on ending the North Korean nuclear program came to a halt in April when Pyongyang pulled out of the negotiations in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests.
"No, they are not yet ready [to resume talks]," Sergei Mironov said, commenting on his visit to the country last week. He said that at the meetings, North Korean officials "adopted quite a harsh negotiating tone."
During his visit, Mironov met with Prime Minister Kim Yong Il, Chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) Choe Thae Bok and President of SPA Presidium Kim Yong Nam.
The Russian official said that he did not discuss a possible resumption of North Korean nuclear tests during his visit.
The country is banned from conducting nuclear or ballistic missile tests under UN Resolution 1718, adopted after North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.
However, Pyongyang carried out a second nuclear test on May 25 this year, followed by a series of short-range missile launches, and has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies.
The move led to the UN imposing new sanctions on North Korea banning the import and export of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20091202/157069523.html
3. Seoul Says North Korea Seeking to Buy Time to Make Nukes
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South Korea Wednesday questioned North Korea's calls for a peace treaty with the United States, declaring its real aim is to buy time to make more nuclear weapons.
The comments by Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan came six days before a US envoy is scheduled to visit the communist state to try to persuade it to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
"North Korea's talk of a peace pact is aimed at buying time and continuing developing nuclear weapons so that it may be recognised as a nuclear state," Yu told a forum.
The minister also said any bilateral US-North Korea peace treaty directly linked to the settlement of the nuclear issue would not be proper.
The North's position is that it has already resolved all inter-Korean issues through the 1992 Basic Agreement signed with Seoul and that a peace treaty should be signed with Washington, Yu said.
"But any peace treaty must come through discussions involving the four parties concerned, South Korea, North Korea, the United States and China," he stressed.
A US-led United Nations Command fought for the South in the 1950-53 war while Chinese troops supported the North. The conflict ended only with an armistice and not a formal peace treaty.
Yu noted that security guarantees for North Korea are already included in a joint communique signed between Washington and Pyongyang in 2000, in the final months of the Clinton administration.
The six-party talks group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Nuclear disarmament agreements signed at the forum in 2005 and 2007 envisage an eventual peace pact formally ending the war.
However the North quit the six-party talks in April and tested a second atomic weapon in May. Leader Kim Jong-Il said in October he was ready to return to the talks, but only if bilateral discussions with the United States are satisfactory.
Stephen Bosworth, US special representative for North Korean policy, is scheduled to visit Pyongyang on December 8 but Seoul officials have been downbeat about hopes for progress.
A senior official told a background briefing this week there was "no confirmed signal" that the North would return to the six-party talks.
"At the moment, we must say the prospects are dark," the official said.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1021982/1/.html
1. Obama Warns of Pakistani Nukes Falling Into Terror Hands
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US President Barack Obama described the Pak-Afghan border as the "epicentre" of violent extremism and said stakes are higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan with the danger of its nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terror groups.
"Our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan", Obama said while unveiling his much-awaited Af-Pak policy. "This is the epicentre of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat," he warned.
Obama sounded the alarm of nuclear weapons in Pakistan falling into wrong hands. "The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them," he said.
Obama announced 30,000 additional US troops for Afghanistan and a plan to start exiting from the war-torn country after 18 months.
Pakistani Taliban have targeted the country's nuclear installations on three occasions in the past and have threatened to lay their hands on the atomic arsenal, causing serious concerns in the West.
Available at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/obama-warns-of-pak-nukes-falling-into-terror-hands/548889/
1. Nuclear Plant Processes Under Review After Kaiga Incident
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The government today said it was reviewing processes and procedures at all nuclear power stations following the "deliberate" contamination of drinking water at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in which 92 employees suffered radiation.
Making a suo-motu statement in the Lok Sabha, minister of state in PMO Prithviraj Chavan there was no security breach or damage to KAPS and "all the plant systems are operating safely."
He said there was no radioactivity release in the environment due to the incident of drinking water contamination at Kaiga, which has been described as "mischief by an insider".
An interim report of an internal probe by Nuclear Power Corporation indicated possibility of mischief by an insider who had deliberately added some heavy water containing tritium to the drinking water cooler, he said.
"As regards the investigation, the local and central agencies are at work and the evidence like log books, close circuit TV footage, analysis of water samples etc are being used to ascertain the facts," he said.
Chavan said on November 24 urine samples of employees working in the combined service building for reactor units I and II showed higher than normal traces of tritium, a heavier isotope of hydrogen.
Available at: http://www.samaylive.com/news/nplant-processes-under-review-after-kaiga-incident/669732.html
The United Kingdom is keen to have a share of trade in the nuclear power plants, which will be built in India, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported a British envoy as saying here Tuesday.
"If the question is will UK build nuclear power plants in India, the answer is no. But we are keen to have partnership in providing technology and expertise for building these nuclear power plants," Deputy High Commissioner Western India, Vicki Treadell, said.
Treadell is leading a 15-member business delegation to explore the possibilities of trade partnership with business community here.
"AMEC, a British company, has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HCC for joint partnership in providing design expertise to build nuclear power plant in India," Treadell said.
Other British companies like Rolls Royce which have a niche expertise in manufacturing some parts for nuclear plants are also keen to take part in the development of nuclear plants, he said.
British High Commission senior trade and investment adviser Jitendra Jain said that an entire nuclear power plant could not be developed by a single company, pointing out those building it would reguire help from firms which were experts in different technology.
There were many British firms, which are experts in this area, and were keen to come to India, he added,.
After the Indo-US nuclear deal, India has announced big plans to increase nuclear power generation capacity in the country.
Available at: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=459314
1. Atomic-Blast Detection Station Established Near Iran
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A United Nations group seeking to outlaw nuclear-weapons tests has set up a detection facility near the border between Iran and Turkmenistan that can register the shockwaves of an atomic blast.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization built seismic station PS44 near Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, a “few kilometers” from the Central Asian country’s southern border with Iran, the Vienna-based group said yesterday in a statement on its Web site. The site adds to the group’s 337 stations worldwide designed to detect seismic activity and atmospheric radiation caused by nuclear explosions.
UN inspectors received intelligence material that included Iranian designs for a 400-meter (1,312-foot) deep shaft that could be used for testing a nuclear bomb, the world body’s International Atomic Energy Agency said in May 2008. The documents also showed plans for a control station 10 kilometers from the unidentified blast site, along with diagnostic equipment to monitor an explosion.
Iran has rejected IAEA requests to discuss the test-site design. The U.S. and several major allies say that Iran’s nuclear program is cover for weapons development, an allegation denied by the government in Tehran, which says the work is for peaceful purposes such as electricity generation. Iran says that the documents on the possible test site are fake.
Iran is one the nine countries that have yet to ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. There have been more than 2,000 nuclear test explosions worldwide since the Manhattan Project’s Trinity trial in the U.S. in July 1945. The last detonation occurred May 25, when North Korea said it conducted a test, an event that was detected at 61 of the UN organization’s seismic stations.
The other eight countries that must ratify the treaty for it to come into force are China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the U.S.
The UN can detect a blast as small as 2.75 on the Richter scale, the treaty organization’s director, Tibor Toth, said in a report issued last month. A 1-kiloton blast, equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT, registers 4 on the Richter scale.
The atomic bomb that detonated over the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, at the end of World War II, was 15 kilotons and the bomb over Nagasaki, Japan, three days later had a force of 21 kilotons, according to the National Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group. The biggest nuclear weapon ever tested was the Soviet Union’s 50 megaton “Tsar-bomb,” detonated in October 1961.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601085&sid=ab_a09nGzc_Y
2. U.S. Won't Meet Nuclear Devices Cargo Scan Deadline
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The United States won't meet a 2012 deadline for scanning all maritime cargo for nuclear devices and other weapons because of costs and inadequate technology, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.
Placing radiation detection and imaging equipment in 2,100 shipping lanes worldwide that handle cargo bound for U.S. ports would cost $16.8 billion, Napolitano told a Senate panel. In addition, there would be "very high" operating expenses and "huge costs" borne by foreign governments, she said.
"Installing equipment and placing personnel at all of these ports, even the tiny ones, would strain government resources without a guarantee of results," Napolitano said.
The comments show the challenge the Obama administration faces in meeting targets set by Congress in a 2007 law enacting recommendations of the group known as the 9/11 Commission. The law set a July 2012 deadline for scanning each container before it is loaded on a vessel heading to the United States.
Under a pilot project begun in October 2007, Homeland's Customs and Border Patrol was able to scan only 3 percent to 5 percent of U.S.-bound containers on average at ports in Hong Kong and Busan, South Korea, according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday. The ports together account for almost 17 percent of containers shipped to the United States.
Efforts at ports in the pilot project have been hampered by equipment breakdowns, poor-quality scanning images and logistical difficulties of transferring containers to scanning areas, GAO found.
Available at: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_655970.html?source=rss&feed=7
1. Spain PM Open on Nuclear Plant Life Spans -Reports
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Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is willing to talk on extending the life span of nuclear power plants beyond 40 years, according to media reports on Thursday.
"The added value which a state pact on energy can offer may make us change our positions," Zapatero was quoted as saying in El Mundo daily.
Zapatero gave testimony to Congress on Wednesday on a sustainable economy bill tabled by his government, in which he said he was willing to reach a deal with opposition parties on energy policy.
The governing Socialists have pledged to phase out Spain's eight remaining nuclear plants in favour of a booming renewable energy sector, but have left open how long that will take.
Earlier this year, the government ruled that the small Garona nuclear plant would have to close in 2013, or three years beyond the life span it was designed for, in order to preserve jobs at a time of high and rising unemployment.
The rest of Spain's reactors are not due to turn 40 until between 2020 and 2027. They currently provide about 20 percent of the country's electricity.
Zapatero added, however, that the government's long-term plans did not foresee any new nuclear plants.
"On this government's horizon there is no and will be no room, will or interest in promoting new nuclear power stations," he said.
Government subsidies have helped Spain become the world's third-biggest producer of wind power and the second-largest of solar, in a bid to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on imported fuel.
Altogether, renewables supplied a third of Spain's electricity last month.
Spain's main opposition People's Party did not commit itself to building new nuclear plants in its election manifesto last year, but leader Mariano Rajoy has said he will keep Garona open if he wins elections due by 2012.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKGEE5B20GD20091203
2. IAEA-Led Missions Evaluate Nuclear Power Preparedness in Indonesia and Vietnam
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The IAEA will be conducting two Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions in the coming days to review Indonesia’s and Vietnam’s preparations for introducing nuclear power.
The INIR missions, which help evaluate a country´s nuclear infrastructure status, identify areas where further work is needed. The mission is comprehensive and assesses the effectiveness of the national nuclear power programme planning, as well as safety, security and safeguards.
"The INIR missions are designed to help countries think through their international obligations and national responsibility before making an informed decision to pursue nuclear power," says Anne Starz, the Technical Head for Infrastructure and Planning of IAEA´s Nuclear Power Engineering Section.
Starz, who works closely with countries that are introducing nuclear power, says both Indonesia and Vietnam have been working with the IAEA on considerations about their respective nuclear power programmes.
"Both countries felt that it is a good time to invite international experts to review their programmes and get advice on how to reach the next milestone in developing their nuclear power programmes," she adds.
The guidelines for conducting INIR missions were published in March 2009, and the first INIR mission was conducted in Jordan in August 2009. The IAEA also offers more specific review services, including regulatory reviews and reviews of operational safety.
"Several countries have indicated an interest in hosting IAEA-led INIR missions in the coming year," informs Starz.
The IAEA plays a unique role in providing these evaluations because of its position as an international organisation and a body that has technical expertise from all over the world.
"Countries have confidence that they will get unbiased advice about nuclear power and useful feedback from renowned international experts and Agency staff."
Available at: http://www.iaea.or.at/NewsCenter/News/2009/nuclcapability.html
Iran's long-delayed first nuclear power plant has been tested successfully, a senior Iranian nuclear official announced on Monday.
“A 250 bar (atmospheric) pressure test has been successfully carried out at the Bushehr nuclear plant,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Mohammad Ali Salehi said at a press conference with visiting Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko in Tehran.
In February, tests were carried out at the power plant using “dummy” fuel rods loaded with lead in place of enriched uranium to simulate nuclear fuel.
But the Russian energy minister refused to say when the nuclear power plant would become operational.
“There is no need to make another (start date) promise,” IRNA quoted Shmatko as saying.
“We have been working on this power plant jointly with a sense of responsibility, and the plant will be fully operational in a short time,” he added.
The comments come after some reports suggested that the Russians would again postpone the start-up of the Bushehr power plant.
Western corporations began the construction of the Bushehr facility in the 1970s. However, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Western companies reneged on their commitments and pulled out of the project due to political pressure from Washington.
Iran then turned to Russia to complete the project. In 1992, Tehran and Moscow signed a deal to complete the construction of the nuclear power plant.
The Bushehr plant was originally scheduled to be completed in 1999, but its start-up has been repeatedly delayed.
Moscow said earlier this year that the plant would come online before the Iranian New Year, which occurs on March 21, 2010.
Available at: http://tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=209105
A delegation from the US Department of Energy is currently on a visit to the Kingdom in preparation for a megaproject to enhance ongoing nuclear security measures across the country.
The delegation arrived earlier this week to prepare along with the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) for the Megaports Project to bolster security at the Kingdom’s entry points and prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials.
The delegation of 13 officials and engineers will spend the next week reviewing specifications of the Kingdom’s borders and ports for the installation of new state-of-the-art radiation portal monitors under the initiative, JNRC Spokesperson Yumn Habjouqa told The Jordan Times yesterday.
The Megaports Project entails increasing the number and quality of radiation monitoring stations in the country and training JNRC staff.
Currently, 12 such stations are present at entry points including the Jordan-Syria Free Zone and the Aqaba Port as well as the Jaber and Karama border crossings.
The new monitoring equipment is expected to increase inspections and detection of radioactive materials at the country’s border crossings, some of which receive up to 8,000 trucks per day, according to the commission.
The delegates are expected to visit monitoring facilities within Jordan and at the country’s borders, with installation of the new equipment expected to begin by the end of the month, according to the commission.
The megaproject comes in light of major upcoming developments in the Kingdom's peaceful nuclear programme, such as the subcritical assembly of the nuclear research reactor in Irbid, estimated to begin within two years, and uranium mining, expected to commence in 2012.
Recent developments also include the formation of the National Nuclear Safety and Security Committee, which has convened twice to increase authorities' coordination on nuclear safety.
The committee, headed by the JNRC, comprises the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Interior, the Public Security Department, the Civil Defence Department, the Jordan Armed Forces, the General Intelligence Department and the Legislation Bureau.
Authorities expect the construction of the country’s first nuclear reactor, slated for a site near Aqaba, within the next decade.
Available at: http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=22040
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