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Nuclear News - 12/8/2009
PGS Nuclear News, December 8, 2009
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. 'Iran Can Now Produce Nuclear Bomb', Rebecca Anna Stoil, Jerusalem Post (12/8/2009)
    2. Iran Ready for Fuel Swap If West Wins Back Trust, PressTV (12/8/2009)
    3. Iranian Nuclear Scientist Abducted by US: FM, AFP (12/8/2009)
    4. US Sounds Fresh Warning to Iran Again, PressTV (12/7/2009)
    5. France Urges Firmer Sanctions on Iran, Khaleej Times (12/6/2009)
    6. Fuel Supplier Cutting Off Iran on Behalf of Israel, Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Arutz Sheva (12/6/2009)
    7. US Eyes January for New Iran Sanctions, Matthew Lee and Jennifer Loven, Associated Press (12/5/2009)
    8. Iran Calls on IAEA Members to Make Up For Mistake, PressTV (12/5/2009)
    9. Iran Says It Needs 20 Uranium Enrichment Sites, PressTV (12/4/2009)
    1. Obama Sending Envoy to North Korea, CBS News (12/8/2009)
    2. Bosworth Offers No Concessions in Pyongyang Talks, Indira A. R. Lakshmanan and Stuart Biggs, Bloomberg (12/8/2009)
    3. Bosworth Not to Discuss Peace Treaty, but Resumption of 6-Way Talks: State Dept., Hwang Doo-hyong, Yonhap News Agency (12/7/2009)
    4. North Korea Not Yet Developed Nuke Delivery System: Expert, Hwang Doo-hyong, Yonhap News Agency (12/6/2009)
C.  Pakistan
    1. U.S. Believes Pakistan Nuclear Arms Are Secure: Gates, Reuters (12/6/2009)
D.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. India and Russia Sign Civil Nuclear Agreement, Vladimir Radyuhin and Sandeep Dikshit, The Hindu (12/8/2009)
    2. Russia, U.S. Agree to Maintain Expiring Nuclear Arms Pact, Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times (12/5/2009)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Government Urged to Realize Nuclear Power Plant Plan, Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post (12/8/2009)
    2. Constellation CEO Shattuck Urges United Nations to Back Nuclear, Scott Dance, Baltimore Business Journal (12/7/2009)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Chronology of North Korea Visits by High-Profile U.S. Figures, Yonhap News Agency (12/8/2009)
    2. A Nuclear Watchdog's Parting Shots, Joby Warrick, The Washington Post (12/6/2009)
    3. North Korea Nuclear Disarmament Deals, Reuters (12/5/2009)

A.  Iran

'Iran Can Now Produce Nuclear Bomb'
Rebecca Anna Stoil
Jerusalem Post
(for personal use only)

Israel's most challenging strategic problem is the Iranian nuclear program, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told members of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, during which he also painted a pessimistic view of the situation along Israel's northern border.

"In the last year, two things have happened: Iran has advanced its military nuclear program, and Iran has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the international community," Netanyahu told the committee, adding that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was Israel's "central problem."

"Our highest interest is in preventing Iran's [nuclear] armament," he said.

To that end, Netanyahu added, "there is coordination with America regarding Iran - information and intensive assessment - and diplomatic coordination cannot be ruled out."

He did, however note that "it is not clear if cooperation by Russia and China against Iran will continue, but at this time, we do have an agreement."

"The use of the Internet and Twitter against the Iranian regime is a great thing," said Netanyahu. "In past years, Iran was portrayed as an unpleasant regime, but today there is deep hatred on the part of part of the Iranian nation against the regime. It is trickling out and constitutes a very important resource for the State of Israel."

Maj-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, the head of Military Intelligence's research division, told committee members that Iran has succeeded in enriching 1,800 kg. of uranium, which is "more or less enough for one-and-a-half nuclear bombs."

Iranian proxy Hizbullah, Netanyahu added, has also increased in its power and influence.

"If before, we related to Hizbullah as a militia on the side, today it has become the real Lebanese army," he said.

Hizbullah "has supplanted the Lebanese army as the significant force. It is arming itself and organizing itself like a regular army. The Lebanese government and Hizbullah are growing interconnected, and they will share joint responsibility for any attack on Israel," the prime minister warned.

Baidatz presented the committee with information that tens of thousands of Hizbullah fighters and rockets were deployed both north and south of the Litani River, and noted that the rockets currently deployed threatened the southern parts of Israel as well as the north.

In light of the information, Netanyahu went on to say that UN Resolution 1701, which was formulated following the Second Lebanon War in an attempt to prevent the re-armament of Hizbullah, had "totally collapsed."

"It did not withstand the test of reality," he said.

The prime minister drew parallels between the failed resolution and any possible final status agreement regarding the West Bank, asserting that "that is why any future arrangement in Judea and Samaria must be better and withstand the test of reality. Any future entrance of rockets and missiles to Judea and Samaria must be prevented as part of a future agreement. There must be direct oversight by Israel on future security arrangements, something that didn't happen in Gaza or Lebanon."

Netanyahu also addressed negotiations with Syria, reiterating that Israel was willing to engage in direct contact with Damascus, but that if a third-party moderator was necessary, that Israel would prefer France over Turkey, the previous choice for mediator.

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Iran Ready for Fuel Swap If West Wins Back Trust
(for personal use only)

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman says Tehran will be ready for a nuclear fuel swap only after the West can win back its trust.

Speaking at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Ramin Mehman-Parast said Iran had lost trust with Western countries so they needed to provide conditions that would regain Iran's trust before any exchange of fuel.

"Because of the attitude of some Western countries, we have lost trust in them. They have never kept their promises. Naturally we cannot so easily trust them [but] if they can provide conditions in which they can win our trust then we will be ready to exchange fuel."

Mehman-Parast however said that any possible swap of fuel with the West was "not in contradiction" with the fact that Iran will start enriching 20 percent uranium, reasoning that Tehran needed the fuel in the future. He said Iran had a long-term plan for nuclear fuel production.

The mid-October nuclear proposal discussed in Vienna envisages Iran shipping out most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to be further enriched and returned to the country for the Tehran medical research reactor.

Iran has sought modifications to the draft proposal, arguing that a guarantee for the return of the fuel is its major concern. Iran says certain Western countries' failure to stick to their previous commitments is the source of Iran's distrust.

Tehran has asked for some alterations in the draft that would allow the exchange to take place inside Iran.

The spokesman also dismissed the end of the year as the deadline for Iran over its nuclear work and called it a "wrong approach" that would be of no avail.

He also said that further sanctions against Iran would yield no results, reiterating that Iran will not relinquish its inalienable rights despite such threats.

Mehman-Parast concluded that Iran will reduce its commitments to the UN nuclear watchdog to "minimum" required if the West denies Iran its rights.

"If our rights … are not restored then we won't have to undertake any more measures beyond our commitments with the agency. We have made maximum commitment. We'll do the minimal commitments that we are required to."

Tehran has maintained that it will continue cooperation with the IAEA, but has also warned that attempts aimed at denying Iran its nuclear rights could reduce the country's cooperation to "a legally mandated minimum," which means it would not venture beyond its legal obligations.

Iran has, however, asserted that despite mounting Western pressure it will not pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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Iranian Nuclear Scientist Abducted by US: FM
(for personal use only)

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Tuesday accused the United States of abducting its nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri who went missing in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

"Based on existing pieces of evidence that we have at our disposal the Americans had a role in Mr. Amiri's abduction," Mottaki said at a press conference in Farsi which was translated into English by Press TV channel.

"The Americans did abduct him. Therefore we expect the American government to return him."

Mottaki said Amiri had travelled to Saudi Arabia to perform the minor Muslim pilgrimage when he disappeared.

"He disappeared in Saudi Arabia and naturally we ask the Saudi government to look into the case.... Saudi Arabia must be held accountable in this regard."

Earlier Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Mehr news agency that Riyadh had handed Amiri over to Washington.

Mehmanparast also acknowledged that Amiri was a nuclear scientist, something which Iranian officials had previously evaded to reveal.

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US Sounds Fresh Warning to Iran Again
(for personal use only)

While the Western powers have been pressuring Iran to accept a US-backed proposal over Iran's nuclear fuel supply, the White House says it is still open to nuclear negotiations with Tehran but the time is running out.

US National Security Advisor James Jones said on Sunday that the White House is "still open to nuclear talks" with Tehran, but "the clock is ticking" towards the end of the year.

The remarks comes as Western powers, spearheaded by the US, have been keeping the heat on Iran to accept a proposal which would see Iran ship its Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) abroad for further processing and have it returned for use in the Tehran research reactor, which produces medicine.

Iranian officials rejected draft deal which was first floated by the Obama administration, saying there are no guarantees that the country would in fact receive the fuel it requires.

Iran says it will consider the offer if the nuclear swap takes place within the country's borders, but the US says the proposal is unchangeable.

The United States along with other major powers including France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China have also drafted a resolution at the UN nuclear watchdog against Iran's nuclear program, demanding the country halt construction of the Fordo nuclear facility.

Iran, however, says the West's demand to stop construction at Fordo has no legal basis and such a move would not be within the framework of Tehran's legal obligations.

Iran says it has fully cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency and all its nuclear activities have been under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog.

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France Urges Firmer Sanctions on Iran
Khaleej Times
(for personal use only)

France called on Sunday for tougher sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

“The time has come to seek firmer sanctions against Iran,” secretary of state for European affairs Pierre Lellouche said on the French Jewish radio station Radio J.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out on Sunday at the United States and Britain, labelling them Tehran’s main “enemies” and warning they will fail to isolate Iran over the nuclear issue, state television said.

Tension over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme has peaked in recent weeks after it rejected a high-profile nuclear deal brokered by the UN atomic watchdog.

World powers object to Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme, as the process can be used to enrich the material to produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or to make an atomic bomb. Iran insists it is enriching uranium for peaceful ends.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to build more uranium enrichment facilities, raising the possibility that the US Security Council could seek to pass further sanctions.

Lellouche recalled on Sunday that Iran has refused a UN-mediated offer to send its uranium stockpile to Russia and France to be refined for use in a medical reactor.

Tensions have risen between Tehran and Paris since Iran’s election in June, notably over the detention of French academic Clotilde Reiss, who was arrested in Iran during a government crackdown after the vote.

Iran also snubbed France in October during international talks on the nuclear issue.

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Fuel Supplier Cutting Off Iran on Behalf of Israel
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Arutz Sheva
(for personal use only)

The Swiss trading company “Glencore” is cooperating with Israel and reducing oil supplies to Iran while continuing to ship to Israel in order to force Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program, according to the Paris-based Intelligence Online newsletter.

“Although it doesn't hesitate to deal with countries even more isolated than Iran, Glencore appears to have abandoned Tehran in favor of one of its oldest and most loyal customers, Israel,” the newsletter said.

Glencore has been exporting oil to Israel since 1973, but the company’s operations are considered among the most secretive in the world. Former Israeli commandos are the bulk of its security personnel.

The trading company is the legal successor to Marc Rich and Company. Rich, who once held a majority of Glencore, is not directly connected with the company today but is known to have “secretly co-operated with Israel's intelligence service Mossad and even with the U.S. State Department,” he recently told Daniel Ammann, author of "The Secret Lives of Marc Rich - The King of Oil.”

Rich, who was born to a Jewish family in Belgium before his family fled to the United States, used to buy oil from Iran and sell it on to Israel.

Glencore had been one of the three principal suppliers of gasoline to Iran, which lacks refining capacity for its needs, but has reduced its exports to Iran since the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Iran Calls on IAEA Members to Make Up For Mistake
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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has advised the countries that supported a recent anti-Iran IAEA resolution to make up for their "mistake."

Mottaki said on Saturday that the recent resolution against Iran was a "tactical mistake" and the West needed to set it right, IRIB reported.

"Those countries that voted 'yes' to the resolution against the Islamic Republic of Iran still have time to make up for their mistake and return to the right path."

Last Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s Board of Governors passed a new resolution against Iran over the construction of its Fordo enrichment plant, located outside Tehran.

While resolutions passed by the Board of Governors generally focus on technical issues — as opposed to political ones — and are usually either passed or rejected unanimously, the last week resolution failed to win the support of ten member states.

Malaysia, Venezuela and Cuba voted against the resolution. Among those that voted yes were Russia and China. The move was surprising in light of the voting history of the two veto-wielding powers, who have repeatedly supported a peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear issue.

Mottaki said passing the resolution, which indicated the West's double standards, prompted Iran's Foreign Ministry to write critical letters to certain countries that approved the resolution. He also said that Iran has sent letters of appreciation to those countries rejecting the resolution.

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) Ali Akbar Salehi said in an exclusive interview with Press TV Friday that Iran saw no logic behind the move and maintained that further sanctions will not make the country bow to Western demands.

"It will not really disturb us to the extent that they think would make us give in to their wishes," he said.

Tehran has maintained that it will continue cooperation with the IAEA, but has also warned that attempts aimed at denying Iran its nuclear rights could reduce the country's cooperation to "a legally mandated minimum," which means it would not venture beyond its legal obligations.

Iran has, however, asserted that despite mounting Western pressure it will not pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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US Eyes January for New Iran Sanctions
Matthew Lee and Jennifer Loven
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

The Obama administration is looking to press in early January for a new round of United Nations sanctions against Iran for its continued defiance of demands to come clean about its nuclear program, U.S. officials said Friday.

As President Barack Obama's year-end deadline looms for Iran to comply with demands to prove its atomic activities are peaceful, the administration is reaching out to European allies, Russia and China to win support for new penalties at the U.N. Security Council after its membership changes Jan. 1, the officials said.

Senior U.S. diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her chief deputy James Steinberg, raised the urgency of the matter with European foreign ministers at high-level meetings in Athens and Brussels this week ahead of a summit of European leaders.

The sanctions package is not yet "coherent," one official said, but may include U.N. penalties aimed at elements of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the United States already has applied, and on Iran's petroleum industry, which the Obama administration is considering.

The official said there are still disagreements over how far to push on sanctions, noting that some moves could affect world oil markets. "We are looking to find what everyone can agree will be most effective and have the least impact on the Iranian people," the official said.

That official and others spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal administration thinking on the evolving sanction proposals.

The State Department said Friday the administration was hoping for a strong statement on Iran, including a mention of possible sanctions, from the Dec. 10 and 11 European Council session in Brussels.

"There will be a broad discussion on next steps in that meeting," spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters. "The E.U. is expected to have a written statement on Iran."

"Our focus is shifting more towards the pressure track," he added.

Senior diplomats moved this week to win backing from Russia and China, which are generally opposed to sanctions and have balked at imposing new penalties.

Clinton herself discussed Iran with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels. And she is dispatching the third ranking U.S. diplomat, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, William Burns, to Beijing next week.

Burns, who represents the United States at meetings of the six-nation group trying to persuade Iran to meet its international obligations, will be in the Chinese capital for talks on Iran and other issues on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kelly said.

Burns will try to persuade China to attend another possible meeting of the six-nation group before Christmas to discuss sanctions, the officials said. That meeting could set the stage for a referral of sanctions to the U.N. Security Council in January. China, though, has so far resisted scheduling it, the officials said.

With Iran's continued resistance, its disclosure in September of a secret uranium enrichment plant and its recent threat to build 10 more, U.S. officials believe they can win Russian and Chinese support.

An Iranian nuclear official said Friday that Iran will not answer to the U.N. nuclear watchdog about the plan for new enrichment sites beyond the barest minimum required under the international nonproliferation treaty.

The comments by Abolfazl Zohrehvand came days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was considering whether to scale back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency after it approved a resolution censuring Iran over its nuclear program.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is peaceful and insists it has a right to enrich uranium to produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

The U.S. and others believe Iran is using a civilian program to cover attempts to develop atomic weapons.

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Iran Says It Needs 20 Uranium Enrichment Sites
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The Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) of Iran says the country needs 20 enrichment sites to fulfill its total electricity demand.

"We are in need of 20 thousands megawatts that means 20 [times the amount the] Natanz [facility can produce]," Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said in an exclusive interview with Press TV on Friday.

"Now the government has decided to have ten sites with the same size as Natanz; of course when I say with the same size as Natanz it is concerning the amount of fuel that is produced and it is about thirty tonnes per year. Every site will be producing thirty tonnes per year which is enough for one nuclear power plant," he said.

Salehi added that Tehran will not pull out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). "I think the West is trying to force us out of the NPT because they have noticed that we are insistent about…heeding the NPT and this is not to the liking of the West," Iran's AEO chief said.

Salehi noted that Iran has neither introduced "any nuclear material" nor "any centrifuge equipment" to the Fordo enrichment plant, stressing that "It is only the basic infrastructure that has been constructed there."

Last Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a new resolution against Iran over the construction of its Fordo enrichment plant, located outside Tehran.

While the resolutions passed by the Board of Governors generally focus on technical issues — as opposed to political ones — and are usually either passed or rejected unanimously, the last week resolution failed to win the support of ten member states.

In the interview, the top nuclear official called into question the "logic" behind the resolution passed against Iran and maintained that further sanctions could not make the country bow to the Western demands.

"It (the move) will not really disturb us to the extent that they think would make us relent to their wishes," he said.

Salehi also advised the West against any confrontation with Iran, which he said could have "unknown consequences."

"I think it's about time to…get wise people around the table and try to find a way out that would save the faces of all who are involved in this fabricated Iranian nuclear crisis. I call it fabricated because it is really fabricated."

Iran has branded the resolution as a "politically-motivated" move aimed at piling up pressure on the country and warned that it could harm "the constructive atmosphere of cooperation."

Tehran has maintained that it will continue cooperation with the IAEA but has also warned that attempts aimed at denying Iran its nuclear rights could reduce the country's cooperation to "a legally mandated minimum," which means it would not venture beyond its legal obligations.

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Bosworth Offers No Concessions in Pyongyang Talks
Indira A. R. Lakshmanan and Stuart Biggs
(for personal use only)

President Barack Obama’s envoy to North Korea won’t offer any incentives to entice the regime to return to disarmament talks seven months after the country tested a second nuclear device, a U.S. official said.

Stephen Bosworth arrived today in Pyongyang, state media reported, becoming the most senior administration official to visit North Korea. His three-day trip will focus on getting Kim Jong Il’s regime to return to multilateral negotiations and reaffirm a commitment to abandon its nuclear arsenal, the official said yesterday on condition of anonymity.

While Obama has signaled a greater willingness than predecessor George W. Bush to engage the North in talks, he risks looking weak if the regime follows past practice in reneging on promises, said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies at Temple University’s Tokyo campus. Obama said Nov. 19 in Seoul that he wants to “break the pattern” of North Korea’s alternating between provocation and negotiation.

“Whether they can do it remains a big question,” Dujarric said. “The North Koreans won’t give up the nuclear program at a cost that’s acceptable to the U.S. or anybody else.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July held out the promise of full diplomatic relations, “a permanent peace regime and significant energy and economic assistance,” provided the North sticks to its disarmament pledges. North and South Korea have never signed a peace treaty following their three-year conflict that ended in 1953.

Worsening Relations

Bosworth’s trip comes after a year of worsening relations with the North that resulted in United Nations sanctions aimed at cutting off financing to the regime. Donor countries have also tightened aid as the country faces mounting difficulties feeding its people because of crop failures.

The UN imposed sanctions after North Korea fired a missile over the Sea of Japan on April 5. Kim’s government tested a nuclear device a month after and later said it would abandon the stalled multilateral talks with the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

China, the North’s biggest trading partner and host of the six-party forum, welcomed Bosworth’s trip.

Visit ‘Conducive’

“We support their contact and dialogue and hope this dialogue can be conducive to their mutual understanding and resolve their mutual concerns,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing. “We hope the dialogue can be conducive to the resumption of the six-party talks.”

Bosworth will visit Beijing later this week, she said.

The North Korean government’s move last month to revalue its currency has raised speculation that the regime’s grip on power has been loosened.

“Once North Koreans realized that they could progress in society by their own economic effort, this created an alternative to advancing only politically through the ranks of state organizations,” Rudiger Frank, professor of East Asian economy and society at the University of Vienna, wrote on the Web site of the Nautilus Institute this month.

He cited a burgeoning restaurant business and a mobile phone network estimated at 30,000 subscribers for Egyptian telecoms company Orascom Telecom Holding as evidence for the shift in power.

Rice Prices

While the revaluation may have been aimed at curbing the black market, resetting of prices has resulted in the cost of rice doubling, South Korean Buddhist aid group Good Friends said yesterday. One in four children are missing from school due to hunger, it said, without detailing how it derived the number.

North Korea has long wanted direct talks with the U.S., and extended an invitation to Bosworth four months ago.

U.S. officials have made it clear that unless Kim meets previous agreements to disarm, there will be no further concessions. The first step would be returning to the multilateral talks and reaffirming commitment to a Sept. 19, 2005, joint statement by the six nations.

In that statement, the U.S. affirmed it had no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and no intention to attack North Korea. North Korea committed to abandoning nuclear weapons and coming into compliance with the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Temporary Engagement

The State Department has described Bosworth’s trip as a temporary direct engagement aimed narrowly at getting the regime back to six-party talks.

“The philosophy of the Obama administration is that you never win anything by not meeting with people,” said Dujarric. “It’s not like you’re making concessions, and you’ll always learn something.”

A former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Bosworth has traveled repeatedly this year in his new capacity to Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow and Beijing.

While North Korea has assured the U.S. that Bosworth will have high-level meetings during his visit, he isn’t expected to meet with supreme leader Kim.

Bosworth met yesterday in Seoul with the South Korean foreign minister and other top national security officials, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

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Obama Sending Envoy to North Korea
CBS News
(for personal use only)

After a year of tensions, President Barack Obama is sending a veteran diplomat to North Korea on Tuesday for the highest-profile talks between Pyongyang and Washington since he took office pledging to reach out to America's adversaries.

A key question is whether Stephen Bosworth can extract a firm commitment from Pyongyang to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks - whether North Korea is serious, this time, about peace on the peninsula.

Bosworth was scheduled to fly from a U.S. military base near Seoul to the North Korean capital Tuesday to see if the North will return to the international disarmament talks that it abandoned earlier this year.

Neither side has said which North Korean officials Bosworth will meet in Pyongyang during his three-day trip, though he is widely expected to sit down with Kang Sok Ju, the first vice foreign minister, who is considered the chief foreign policy strategist for reclusive leader Kim Jong Il.

"The main question is whether Bosworth will meet with Chairman Kim Jong Il," said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University. "Such a meeting would demonstrate that both the U.S. and North Korea intend to resolve the nuclear issue."

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday that Bosworth is seeking a meeting with "appropriate officials," but not with Kim Jong Il.

The State Department has said that the U.S. envoy has a narrow mission - to find out whether the North would return to the stalled disarmament talks - and would be carrying no inducements meant to lure the North back to the negotiating table. While Chinese and North Korean officials have suggested that Pyongyang might be willing to return, U.S. officials maintained that Bosworth did not know what the North would decide.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Monday that she hoped Bosworth would be successful in persuading the North Koreans to return to the nuclear talks and that the North would work for "a new set of relationships with us and with our partners."

This week's talks - the first direct U.S.-North Korean talks since Obama took office in January - come after a year of threatening rhetoric and rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The two Koreas remain in a state of war, their border guarded by hundreds of thousands of troops, because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

While democratic South Korea strives to become a global player and has the world's 15th largest economy, communist North Korea has retreated into isolation, with dwindling sources of aid in the post-Soviet era and few trading partners.

Pyongyang says it needs nuclear bombs to counter the strong U.S. military presence in South Korea. The impoverished country has also used the atomic threat to finagle aid and other concessions from regional powers wary of the unpredictable neighbor.

Fifteen years ago, Kang, the chief strategist, himself negotiated an agreement with Washington in 1994 to freeze Pyongyang's nuclear facilities in return for two light-water reactors safer for producing electricity.

That pact fell apart in 2002 after then-Assistant U.S. Secretary of State James Kelly said the North Koreans admitted to having a secret uranium enrichment program.

The North denied the charge. Then, it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and restarted its nuclear facilities, touching off an atomic crisis that led to the creation of broader, six-nation disarmament talks.

The six-nation talks - hosted by China and involving both Koreas, Japan, Russia and the U.S. - yielded a 2005 deal calling on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and the other security guarantees.

Months later, however, North Korea launched a long-range missile and conducted its first nuclear test.

A new pact in 2007 promised 1 million tons of energy aid and concessions in exchange for the step-by-step disablement of the North's nuclear reactor.

That process came to a halt in mid-2008 amid squabbling with Washington. Six-party talks in December 2008 yielded no progress.

North Korea followed up with threatening language directed at the U.S. and South Korea, whose president pledged to withhold aid until Pyongyang followed through on its nuclear commitments.

An April rocket launch - seen by many as a cover for a long-range missile test - earned the country U.N. Security Council censure. In anger, North Korea walked away from the disarmament talks, test-fired a series of missiles and conducted a second nuclear test.

The plight of two American journalists sentenced to hard labor after being arrested at the Chinese-North Korean border may have provided an opening for detente. During a surprise humanitarian mission in August to take the Americans home, former U.S. President Bill Clinton met for three hours with a beaming Kim Jong Il.

This week's carefully arranged talks won't break down, but they may not yield immediate results, analysts said.

North Korea has no choice but to rejoin the disarmament process since Washington has made it a condition of the bilateral contact, said Koh Yu-hwan of Seoul's Dongguk University. But he said North Korea likely will push for a U.S. commitment on a peace treaty.

The two sides must put an end to the past enmity, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper said last weekend.

"To guarantee a peace on the peninsula, North Korea and the U.S. - wartime rivals and the main players in the nuclear issue - should first take a procedure of ending hostile relations," it said.

State Department spokesman Kelly said the issue of a peace treaty is "not on our agenda" and the issue should be discussed at the six-party talks.

Analyst Paik Hak-soon of the private Sejong Institute think tank said it was too early to expect a major breakthrough.

"It'll be a preparatory step ahead of full-fledged negotiations. They'll disclose their positions and listen to each other, find and understand what their common interests are and what differences they have," he said.

Bosworth was accompanied to the North by Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy for the North Korean nuclear talks, and by nuclear and Asia specialists from the Defense Department and the White House.

Bosworth is to return to Seoul on Thursday before continuing onto Beijing, Tokyo and Moscow to update the six-party partners before returning to Washington.

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Bosworth Not to Discuss Peace Treaty, but Resumption of 6-Way Talks: State Dept.
Hwang Doo-hyong
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

The U.S. will not try to hammer out a peace treaty with North Korea, but rather discuss the resumption of the six-party talks, stalled over U.N. sanctions for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests, the State Department said Monday.

Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, will be in Pyongyang for three days starting Tuesday, but apparently with a limited portfolio that does not include discussion of a treaty to replace the cease-fire that ended the Korean War.

"No, that's not on our agenda," said spokesman Ian Kelly. "I think you know, as in the context of the six-party talks, there are arrangements for bilateral working groups. So that would be the appropriate venue for that."

The six-party deals signed in 2005 and 2007 by the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia call for establishment of four working groups, including one to discuss the peace regime to replace the fragile armistice reached at the end of the 1950-53 war.

The others are on normalization of ties between North Korea and the U.S. and Japan, provision of economic aid to the North and dismantlement of the North's nuclear programs.

Kelly reiterated Washington's position that Bosworth's meeting with North Korean officials, the first official bilateral contact since the Barack Obama administration took office in January, will only address ways to reopening of the six-party talks without touching upon substance.

"It's a very simple agenda that Stephen Bosworth is going to Pyongyang with, and that's that we are having these talks to ensure a resumption of the six-party talks and to reaffirm the September 2005 joint statement and its goal of complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said. "This is an important meeting, but I'm not going to say that this is a be-all and end-all meeting."

The spokesman dismissed reports that Bosworth will present a road map for the North's nuclear dismantlement.

"I have no information about any kind of road map," he said.

He also discounted media speculation that Bosworth may meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, saying, "He is seeking a meeting with appropriate officials. I don't think he's seeking a meeting with Kim Jong-il."

Bosworth is expected to meet with Kang Sok-ju, first vice foreign minister, the immediate superior to North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Key-gwan.

A senior administration official, asking anonymity, would not confirm whether Bosworth will meet with Kang.

"We have received assurances from the North Koreans that there will be appropriate high level meetings. I don't want to speculate on precisely who they will be."

In a teleconference call arranged a day ahead of Bosworth's Pyongyang trip, the official emphasized that the U.S. will not offer new incentives.

"We don't intend to reward North Korea simply for going back to something that it previously committed to do," he said. "That's something we've seen in the past, but has proved to be counterproductive in terms of our overall goals. So there are no inducements or incentives other than the facts that should be reserved in the talks."

He was discussing the North's typical brinkmanship -- creating crises to get rewards in return for terminating them.

The official did not preclude the possibility of Bosworth extending his scheduled three-day stay in Pyongyang.

"We don't have a firm, fixed deadline," he said. "If the topic is very straightforward, we don't see the need for extended engagement here. We obviously would like to understand better what the North Koreans' perspectives are. That's the reason for having a face-to-face contact."

The official warned that Washington will "continue very strong enforcement" of U.N. sanctions "if the North confirms it is still unwilling to participate in the six-party talks."

He said that Bosworth will urge the North to return to the six-party talks and "move forward with denuclearization" if they want to "get out of the sanctions and become more integrated with the international community."

"So they have to take the first step if they want to achieve those things," he said. "There are ample reasons for them to do this. That's what Ambassador Bosworth will reiterate."

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North Korea Not Yet Developed Nuke Delivery System: Expert
Hwang Doo-hyong
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea's detonation of two nuclear devices in recent years does not guarantee its status as a nuclear weapons state due to lack of an adequate delivery system, a U.S. expert said Sunday.

"Two experimental nuclear test explosions don't make a nuclear arsenal," said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, in a statement on the Website of the FAS.

Kristensen added, "We are not aware of credible information on how North Korea has weaponized its nuclear weapons capability, much less where those weapons are stored. We also take note that a recent U.S. Air Force intelligence report did not list any of North Korea's ballistic missiles as nuclear-capable."

He was rebuffing the report by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency late last month that the FAS has confirmed North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, citing a report by the non-profit organization -- founded by the scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs -- with the aim of providing policy recommendations.

"[A nuclear arsenal] requires deliverable nuclear weapons, which we haven't seen any signs of yet. Perhaps the next statement could explain what capability North Korea actually has to deliver nuclear weapons."

The FAS report issued on Nov. 25 listed North Korea as among nine nuclear weapons state, along with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, Pakistan and India.

International efforts towards North Korea's nuclear dismantlement hit a snag recently as Pyongyang has boycotted the six-nation nuclear talks, citing international sanctions for its nuclear blast and missile tests earlier this year.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, arrived in Seoul Sunday on his way to Pyongyang two days later to revive the multilateral nuclear talks, which also involves South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

In early October when he met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed his willingness to return to the six-party talks pending the outcome of bilateral discussions with the U.S.

U.S. officials have said they will not get into the substance of the nuclear talks in the upcoming bilateral session, despite the North's assertion that that should be the venue for resolving the standoff over its nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in May after one in 2006 and U.S. and South Korean intelligence authorities believe North Korea has several nuclear weapons.

The World Nuclear Stockpile Report written by Hans Kristensen of the FAS and Robert Norris of the Natural Resources Defense Council in September, said North Korea appears to have 10 nuclear weapons, although it added, "There is no publicly available evidence that North Korea has operationalized its nuclear weapons capability."

The North Korean warheads are part of 23,375 nuclear weapons being held by nine nuclear weapons states, according to the report.

Russia tops the list with 13,000, followed by the U.S. with 9,400.

France came in third with 300 nuclear warheads, China fourth with 240 and Britain fifth with 185. Israel has 80 nuclear weapons, Pakistan between 70 to 90 and India 60 to 80.

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C.  Pakistan

U.S. Believes Pakistan Nuclear Arms Are Secure: Gates
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The United States has helped Pakistan improve security arrangements for its nuclear arms and is "comfortable" the weapons are secure, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview aired on Sunday.

The Pakistani government has come under repeated attack from Taliban extremists, most recently on Friday when two suicide bombers eluded security and blew themselves up in a mosque in Rawalpindi, home to the country's military establishment, killing some 40 people.

The attack raised concerns about how the bombers penetrated what should have been one of the country's most secure areas. In light of the blasts, Gates faced questions about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arms.

"We are comfortable with the security of their weapons," he told CBS's "Face the Nation" program.

Asked how he could be sure, given reports the United States does not know where all the arms are located, Gates would only say that based on the information available, U.S. officials were comfortable with their safety.

"We have a good relationship with them. We've actually given them assistance in improving some of their security arrangements over the past number of years. This is not a new relationship. And I think just based on the information available to us, that gives us the comfort," he said.

Pakistan, which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, conducted several nuclear tests in 1998. The country is estimated to have at least 60 nuclear warheads, possibly stored in component form, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report in October.

Concern about nuclear safety in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington prompted former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to have the country's nuclear arsenal moved to six secret locations, the report said, citing press reports.

Proliferation is a concern with Pakistan. The father of the country's nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, was involved in supplying North Korea, Iran and Libya with materials related to uranium enrichment, the report said, and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden reportedly has tried to make contact with the network.

U.S. worries about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons have surfaced amid a cooling in relations between the two countries, which were close allies during the Cold War.

Anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan has been stoked by anger over the civilian deaths that have resulted from airstrikes by pilotless U.S. drones on Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the country.

For its part, Washington has been frustrated by Pakistan's reluctance to go after militants hiding in tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

"We have a lot of work to do to improve our mutual understanding with our Pakistani friends and allies," Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the "Fareed Zakaria GPS" program on CNN.

Holbrooke added that getting Pakistan to go after militant sanctuaries in the tribal areas was critical to U.S. efforts to turn the tide against the Taliban and its allies in neighboring Afghanistan.

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D.  Nuclear Cooperation

India and Russia Sign Civil Nuclear Agreement
Vladimir Radyuhin and Sandeep Dikshit
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

India and Russia have sealed a breakthrough long-term pact for expanding civil nuclear cooperation that is free from any restrictions on India and guarantees it against any curbs in the future.

Under the agreement signed on Monday during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow, Russia will set up more nuclear reactors in India, transfer the full range of nuclear energy technologies and ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel.

“Today we have signed an agreement which broadens the reach of our co-operation beyond the supply of nuclear reactors to areas of research and development and a whole range of areas of nuclear energy,” Dr. Singh told a joint press conference in the Kremlin.

He described the nuclear deal as a “major step forward in strengthening our existing cooperation in this field.”

The nuclear pact with Russia goes far beyond the bounds of the 123 pact with the U.S., which calls for the termination of ongoing nuclear cooperation and for the return to the U.S. of equipment and fuel already supplied to India in the event of the nuclear agreement being terminated.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made it clear Russia will not accept any foreign-imposed restrictions on its nuclear cooperation with India.

Asked whether Russia will continue unrestricted nuclear cooperation with India despite the G8 resolution restricting the sale of reprocessing technologies to non-NPT countries, Mr. Medvedev said: “That [resolution] does not change anything in our cooperation. It has a great future.”

The Russian atomic energy chief for his part said the issue of nuclear technology restrictions had never come up in Russia’s cooperation with India.

“We do not have and never had this problem with India. This is an issue between India and the U.S., so let them sort it out,” Russian nuclear energy Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko told reporters after the summit.

Mr. Kirienko suggested that Russia could eventually supply up to 20 nuclear reactors to India.

“We will build a total of six reactors at Kudankulam, another four to six reactors at the new site in West Bengal, and may well get a third site to build still more reactors ,” Mr. Kirienko said.

He specified that as per India’s request the additional four reactors Russia will set up at Kudankulam will be of the same VVER-1000 type as the two units already installed at the plant, whereas for other sites Russia may supply the next generation reactors of the VVER-1200 type that produce 1200 MWe of electricity.

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Russia, U.S. Agree to Maintain Expiring Nuclear Arms Pact
Paul Richter
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

The Obama administration and the Kremlin agreed Friday to continue the provisions of their keystone nuclear arms control treaty after its expiration today while they try to negotiate a follow-on agreement.

The two governments issued a statement saying that, because of their desire for stability, "we express our commitment, as a matter of principle, to continue to work together in the spirit of the START treaty following its expiration." The governments cited a "firm intention" to approve a new treaty at the earliest possible date.

President Obama's national security advisor, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., had raised hopes for a deal on the pact, telling Fox News this week that the president might be able to sign a new treaty when he is in Europe next week to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

U.S. and Russian negotiators, meeting in Geneva, have completed almost all of the text for the new treaty, Jones said.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said the two sides "continue to make progress." However, ratification of any new deal by the Senate and the Russian Duma is likely to take months.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, was put in place in 1991, five months before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has been the central pillar of the nuclear relationship between Russia and the United States.

The Obama administration has been eager to craft a new deal to help improve its relationship with Russia and to open the way for several other arms control and nonproliferation deals it hopes to conclude.

Obama administration officials view arms control as a potential bright spot in a foreign policy record burdened by Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and the Mideast.

Though U.S. officials once said they hoped to conclude the new treaty before START expired, it has been clear for months that prospects were not good.

One arms control analyst, Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the missed deadline was "disappointing but far from a tragedy."

But he predicted that Obama's agenda would be hurt if the new deal is not negotiated by May, when world powers are to meet to consider changes to a broader arms control pact, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If Russia and the United States haven't agreed to a new two-way deal by then, other nations "will be far less likely to support the ambitious agenda" that Obama has laid out, Young said.

The treaty is expected to cut the upper limit of warheads for each country by one third, to 1,500 to 1,675 warheads.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Government Urged to Realize Nuclear Power Plant Plan
Erwida Maulia
The Jakarta Post
(for personal use only)

The government has been urged to immediately realize its plan to build the country's first-ever nuclear power plant, a construction that has been delayed due to rejection from the community.

Roy Alex Sparinga, from the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas), said Monday that executing the plan was necessary to help Indonesia meet its growing demand for electricity.

He suggested that the government intensify efforts to improve the public's acceptance of the nuke plant, including by informing them about the "safety" and "benefits" of nuclear technology.

"Some measures that the government can continue and intensify are improving communication, consulting and spreading information about the safety and benefits of nuclear energy to the public," Roy said in his speech during the briefing with Lemhanas alumni by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Presidential Palace.

He added the government could plan alternative locations for the nuclear plant's site as the locals living at the planned construction site, at Muria Peninsula in Central Java, continued to strongly reject the plan.

"To boost the regions' acceptance of the site for the nuke plant, the government can develop an incentive system," Roy said.

"And to ensure the public is confident about safety standards, the technology used should comply with quality and facility standards of state-of-the-art nuke technology applied by developed countries already using nuke plants, such as France, Japan and South Korea."

In response to the suggestion, Yudhoyono agreed that further discussions with the public, including with members of the parliament and civil society groups, were needed to increase people's acceptance of the nuke plant's construction.

He said the construction should only begin when everyone was accepting of the idea.

"When we talk about nuclear energy, we need to think clearly and rationally, and we need solid reasoning behind the construction, such as the benefits the nuke plant may have for Indonesia in the future.

"We need to think about the pros and cons, people's perceptions, if its safe and the financing and location.

"If all aspects are considered and the concept is the only reasonable solution, then building the nuke plant should be deemed positive," Yudhoyono said.

He added, however, that constructing a nuke plant should not be done in a haste.

Yudhoyono cited the need to wait for up to 10 years to launch the construction.

Yudhoyono's view, however, is not in line with his subordinate.

Just last week, State Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata, who is a former researcher at the National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan), said that blueprints for the plant were in progress and that its construction would begin next year.

The nuke plant is expected to start operating in 2016, Suharna said.

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Constellation CEO Shattuck Urges United Nations to Back Nuclear
Scott Dance
Baltimore Business Journal
(for personal use only)

Constellation Energy Group Inc. CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III urged world leaders to include nuclear energy in any agreement struck this week in Copenhagen.

The United Nations is holding a climate change conference in Denmark to craft a policy to replace the Kyoto Protocol, an anti-global warming measure adopted in 1997. A new policy could set carbon emission standards and other plans to stop global warming for the years ahead.

Shattuck released a statement emphasizing that nuclear power is a key piece of U.S. emissions reductions goals and should be promoted worldwide.

“There appears to be a global consensus that the world needs to cut its emissions in half by 2050, compared to today’s levels,” Shattuck said. “Nuclear energy currently provides about 14 percent of the globe’s commercial electricity and that number needs to increase substantially if we are to meet the 2050 long-term goal.”

Nuclear power is a key area of investment and expansion for Baltimore-based Constellation (NYSE: CEG). The company is planning to use its newly signed joint venture agreement with French nuclear power EDF Group to build new nuclear generation starting with a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland.

President Barack Obama is slated to join the conference, which began Monday and ends Dec. 18.

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F.  Links of Interest

Chronology of North Korea Visits by High-Profile U.S. Figures
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

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A Nuclear Watchdog's Parting Shots
Joby Warrick
The Washington Post
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North Korea Nuclear Disarmament Deals
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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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