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Nuclear News - 1/29/2009
PGS Nuclear News, January 29, 2009
Compiled By: Helene Picart

A.  Iran
    1. Japan, Iran Agree on Afghanistan, not Nuclear Push, The Daily Times (1/29/2009)
    2. Iran Uranium Stocks Enough for Export, PressTV (1/28/2009)
    3. IAF Chief: Diplomatic Efforts to Prevent Nuclear Iran 'Unsuccessful', Hanan Greenberg, Ynet News (1/28/2009)
    4. Clinton Urges Iran to Show "Willingness to Engage" in Talks, Agence France-Presse (1/28/2009)
B.  India
    1. India Risks Losing its Nuclear Ally in Washington, Sarah Davison, The National (1/29/2009)
    1. Seoul Welcomes N. Korean Leader's Call for Denuclearization Amid Lingering Doubt, Kim Hyun, Yonhap News Agency (1/28/2009)
    2. Six-Party Talks on Peace Regime Due in Moscow, Jung Sung-ki, The Korea Times (1/28/2009)
    3. Clinton Says Six-Party Talks "Essential" on North Korea, John Whitesides, Reuters (1/27/2009)
    4. N. Korea Can Be Made to Give up its Nuke Weapons in Half-a-Day: Carter, (1/27/2009)
D.  Russia
    1. G8 Cash not Enough for Arms Disposal, Says Russia, Dmitri Solovyov, Reuters (1/28/2009)
    2. Russia Scraps Plan to Deploy Nuclear-Capable Missiles in Kaliningrad, Luke Harding, The Guardian (1/28/2009)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Extract Uranium Find May Be Among Best for Decades, Cath Hart, The Australian (1/29/2009)
    2. UAE Aims for Nuclear Power, Andres Cala, Energy Tribune (1/28/2009)
    3. India to Soon Announce Details of Signing Safeguards Agreement, Indopia (1/27/2009)
    4. Japan Nuclear Capacity to Fall as Chubu Scraps Units, Osamu Tsukimori, Reuters (1/27/2009)
    5. Britain Starts Search for New Nuclear Build Sites, Daniel Fineren, Reuters (1/27/2009)
F.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Predicting the Future, Protecting the Environment, International Atomic Energy Agency (1/26/2009)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. An Inside Look: India’s Procurement of Tributyl Phosphate (TBP) for its Unsafeguarded Nuclear Program, David Albright, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel, Institute for Science and International Security  (1/28/2009)
    2. Russia and Iran Get Strategic, Erik Leaver, Foreign Policy in Focus (1/27/2009)

A.  Iran

Japan, Iran Agree on Afghanistan, not Nuclear Push
The Daily Times
(for personal use only)

Japan and Iran agreed on Wednesday to work together for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, but Tehran rejected Tokyo’s call for a suspension of its nuclear programme.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dispatched special envoy Samareh Hashemi for talks in Japan, a close US ally which nonetheless keeps cordial relations with the Islamic republic. In talks with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Hashemi “acknowledged and supported Japan’s efforts in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan”, a foreign ministry statement said. “He said that Japan and Iran would be able to cooperate in this field.” Nakasone replied that it was important for Iran to play a “constructive role” in neighbouring Afghanistan working with the international community. Earlier this month, Japan said it would send civilian officials to Afghanistan in the coming months to take part for the first time in NATO-backed reconstruction efforts. Officially pacifist Japan has pledged two billion dollars of aid to Afghanistan and keeps a refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean as part of the US-led “war on terror”.

During the meeting, Nakasone urged Iran to stop enriching uranium in an effort to “win the trust of the international community”, the statement said. But the Iranian envoy only repeated Tehran’s position that the country’s nuclear activities were for peaceful purposes.

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Clinton Urges Iran to Show "Willingness to Engage" in Talks
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged Iran to show "willingness to engage meaningfully" with the world community and said a US envoy would join multilateral talks next week on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

"With respect to Iran, there is a clear opportunity for the Iranians, as the president expressed in his interview, to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community," Clinton told reporters.

"Whether or not that hand becomes less clenched is really up to them. But as we look at the opportunities available to us, we're going to have a very broad survey of what we think we can do," Clinton said in her first news briefing.

"In an interview with Al-Arabiya satellite television network, President Barack Obama said Monday the United States would offer Iran an extended hand of diplomacy if the Islamic Republic's leaders "unclenched their fist."

Obama said he would in the next few months lay out a general framework of policy towards Tehran, in the interview with Dubai-based satellite television network.

Susan Rice, the new US ambassador to the United Nations made her debut Monday when she pledged vigorous" and "direct" nuclear diplomacy with Iran but warned of increased pressure if Tehran refuses to halt uranium enrichment.

The five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany (known as the P5-plus-1) have offered Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for halting its uranium enrichment program, which the West sees as a cover to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

But Tehran is pressing on with sensitive nuclear fuel work, insisting that its nuclear program is peaceful and solely geared toward electricity generation.

The Security Council has already adopted four resolutions -- three of which included sanctions -- requiring Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

"The P5-plus-1 talks, which will reconvene next week, I believe, are an already existing vehicle that we will again monitor," she said.

She did not give details about the gathering but the State Department's acting spokesman Robert Wood said a meeting of political directors from the State Department and foreign ministries is planned for next week in Germany.

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IAF Chief: Diplomatic Efforts to Prevent Nuclear Iran 'Unsuccessful'
Hanan Greenberg
Ynet News
(for personal use only)

The commander of the Israeli Air Force called the international community's diplomatic efforts to block Iran's nuclear program as "frustrating and unsuccessful".

"The methods employed by the UN, the Arab world and the International Atomic Energy Agency (to thwart Tehran's nuclear armament) have not bore fruit," Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan told the Fourth Ilan Ramon Annual International Space Conference, which began Wednesday at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center.

The IAF chief stressed that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was vital to global stability, adding that the issue would remain at the top of Israel and the international community's agenda.

He added that the "radical axis that begins with Iran extends to the Middle East and includes Hizbullah and Hamas."

As for the recent IDF offensive in Gaza, Nehushtan said that caused the international community to take action to prevent arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. "The global arena understood that this is an issue that is likely to undermine the stability of the whole world."

He said that the most essential achievement of the operation is harnessing the support of many countries to prevent arms smuggling, and not the physical damage caused to the smuggling tunnels, which, he noted, the Palestinians can easily rebuild.

Nehushtan continued to say that the purpose of the incessant rocket fire on the Negev region, which prompted Israel to launch its military offensive in Gaza, was to "gradually pulverize the population," adding "the people on the other side (Gaza) aren’t stupid; they know exactly what they're doing."

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Iran Uranium Stocks Enough for Export
(for personal use only)

Iran rejects reports claiming the country is running out of raw uranium for its nuclear program, saying it has spare capacity for export.

Veteran Iranian diplomat Mahmoud-Mehdi Soltani said Wednesday that Iran's uranium deposits have not been kept confidential, adding that many of them were discovered prior to the 1979 Revolution -- under the Shah's regime - by Western countries.

Iran is not only capable of supplying fuel for the Bushehr nuclear plant, but can also act as a major exporter," the Iranian official added.

Exploration activities have shown proven reserves of about 3,000 to 5,000 tons of uranium in Iran.

Continued exploration efforts in the country led to the discovery of three new uranium ore sites in central Iran in 2006.

Deputy Chief of Iran's nuclear research and technology, Mohammad Qannadi said in 2006 that the resources were located in Khoshoumi region, Charchouleh and Narigan in central Iran.

The Wednesday comments on Iran's potential to export uranium came after a report by The Times cited diplomatic sources as saying that Iran's stockpile of yellow cake uranium, produced from uranium ore, is close to running out and could be exhausted within months.

The British newspaper said Britain's Foreign Office late last year ordered its diplomats in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Brazil -- all major uranium producers -- to lobby the governments of these countries against the sale of uranium products, specifically yellow cake, to Iran.

The report came just months after Western intelligence claimed Iran had accumulated enough enriched material "for a bomb".

Western countries have confronted Iran over its uranium enrichment program, and imposed three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against the country.

Iran says it is seeking the nuclear technology for civilian purposes - such as generating electricity for its growing population.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has conducted seventeen snap inspections since March 2007 at Iranian nuclear facilities, also said in its latest report that Iran plans to fabricate low enriched uranium targets "for the production of molybdenum for medical purposes".

The U-235 content in natural uranium is over two orders of magnitude lower than that required for weapons grade uranium - a level above 90 percent.

Uranium enriched above the natural U-235 abundance -- 0.72 percent -- but to less than 20 percent is called low-enriched (LEU).

The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed in its November and latest report that Iran has only managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level "less than 5 percent" (LED).

The level of U-235 in low enriched uranium is suitable for use in light-water nuclear reactors.

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B.  India

India Risks Losing its Nuclear Ally in Washington
Sarah Davison
The National
(for personal use only)

Barack Obama and his promise of change are music to the ears of most people, but not in India, where George W Bush is sorely missed.

Last autumn, Mr Bush helped India lift a three-decade ban on nuclear trade, prompting the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to tell the US president, who left office with only a 22 per cent favourability rating, that India “loved” him.

New Delhi’s intelligentsia cringed, but Mr Singh was not lying.

Unfortunately for India, there is now a new US president who is firmly committed to nuclear nonproliferation.

Lifting the nuclear trading ban without a requirement that India sign the Nonproliferation Treaty was controversial, both inside and outside India. Critics complained it rewarded India for developing nuclear weapons on the sly using fissile material provided for civilian purposes.

They also objected to India’s continuing refusal to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

But the ruling Congress Party was jubilant, interpreting the move as a seal of approval for India’s nuclear weapons programme. “Without compromising on our weapons programme, without compromising on our fast-breeder reactor programme, without signing the NPT, the CTBT or the Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty, India has been able to access the entire spectrum of civil nuclear commerce on very much its own terms,” Manish Tiwari of Congress said at the time.

It has also sparked a nuclear arms race just as Mr Obama attempts to calm the region, including Afghanistan, where it is fighting a Taliban insurgency. Pakistan has promised to beef up its nuclear arsenal, while Russia and China have reacted badly to India’s determination to achieve a US-sponsored ballistic missile defence shield.

The Indian deal has also made it much harder for the United States to negotiate effectively with Iran to end its nuclear programme.

Some thought that the initiative for the deal came from New Delhi, with its rickety grid and constant power blackouts and brownouts; India has since announced plans for up to 30 nuclear reactors.

Some also suggested that the US civilian nuclear industry pushed Mr Bush into it. Others said Mr Bush is solely to blame.

“The commercial aspect from the United States’ point of view is secondary to the strategic political dimension,” said Achin Vanaik, head of the political science department at the University of Delhi.

“The initiative for this deal, actually, did come from the Bush administration, not from New Delhi, and it was motivated primarily by the desire to consolidate and deepen the strategic relationship.”

The Bush administration actively encouraged New Delhi to view itself as a “strategic partner” of the United States, and a counterweight to an emerging China, said M K Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat.

“Delhi’s priority is to use the deal to provide the context for access to sensitive US military technology within the overall framework of the ‘strategic partnership’,” Mr Bhadrakumar told Asia Times.

The only problem, he said, is that the US-China relationship is established and relatively stable, despite – or perhaps even because of – the financial crisis.
“Obama threatens to shake up the daydreamers in Delhi,” he said.

Mr Obama’s commitment to nonproliferation is firm. He has promised to make ratification of the test ban treaty a priority, and has threatened automatic international sanctions on any nation – including India – that refuses to comply with the Nonproliferation Treaty.

Mr Obama supported lifting the ban partly because it provides a solution to India’s crippling electricity shortage. But he quickly wrote to Mr Singh to clarify that he viewed the deal as a “central element” of US nuclear weapons policy.

That means adherence to the test ban treaty, including a total and verifiable production ban on fissile material, as well as much more stringent accounting of all its nuclear material. It is unlikely that New Delhi will go along with this, but given US weakness in the civilian nuclear industry, Washington may not have much to bargain with. “We don’t need them,” one observer said. “The deal is signed.”

Mr Singh kept the letter under wraps for weeks, indicating both some unease about Mr Obama, and some concern about the durability of the strong US-India ties that developed under Mr Bush.

Mr Bhadrakumar speculates that the “strategic relationship” may have existed less in reality and more in the minds of Mr Bush and Mr Singh.

Mr Bush is now gone, and Mr Singh is now absent from office after undergoing heart bypass surgery at the weekend. He was moved out of intensive care at a New Delhi hospital yesterday, the Press Trust of India reported, and is making a “speedy recovery” at the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences, doctors were quoted as saying.

Mr Singh’s government faces an election before May 15, in which the Hindu nationalist party – the Bharatiya Janata Party – is expected to make a strong showing. The BJP opposes the deal, but only because it thinks it places too many restrictions on India.

In the meantime, many energy experts say India is making a mistake investing in outmoded civilian nuclear projects rather than an renewable energy infrastructure that has limited political or environmental effect.

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Seoul Welcomes N. Korean Leader's Call for Denuclearization Amid Lingering Doubt
Kim Hyun
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

South Korea on Wednesday welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's reported commitment to a nuclear-free peninsula and moved to restrict an anti-Pyongyang propaganda campaign in the South as deep freeze in inter-Korean relations continued.

In a meeting with a visiting Chinese official last week, Kim said he does not want to raise tension on the Korean Peninsula and hopes to work with China to advance the six-way nuclear negotiations, according to Chinese state media.

"If these remarks are true, we view them positively," Kim Ho-nyoun, spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry handling North Korea affairs, said in a briefing after the Lunar New Year's holiday.

"Our government has a consistent position of developing inter-Korean relations through dialogue," he said.

In his first appearance to a foreign guest in nearly half a year, Kim Jong-il was quoted by China's Xinhua news agency as saying, "The North Korean side will commit itself to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and hopes to co-exist peacefully with other involved parties."

He also told the visiting Chinese party official, Wang Jiarui, that North Korea "does not want to see tensions emerge on the peninsula."

Under a 2007 deal, North Korea has been disabling its nuclear facilities in exchange for energy and diplomatic incentives from regional countries grouping South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. But the denuclearization process is now on hold due to a dispute over how to verify the North's past nuclear activities.

North Korea has beckoned the new U.S. administration of Barack Obama to roll out an engagement policy toward it after eight combative years with George W. Bush.

Washington welcomed with caution the North Korean leader's call for a denuclearized peninsula. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said on Friday that Kim's remarks were "a good thing" but added, "we hope to see the North adhere to what it agreed to."

In an apparent attempt to not provoke Pyongyang, the Seoul government on Wednesday announced it will outlaw the use of North Korean bills for an anti-North Korea propaganda leaflet campaign.

Organizations of North Korean defectors and families of abducted South Koreans said earlier this month that they will send North Korean money along with a new batch of leaflets set to be flown to North Korea in February.

Pyongyang has repeatedly condemned the leaflet campaign as "provocative."

"The government's position is that it should not permit bringing in North Korean bills, due to concern that it may damage the order of inter-Korean exchanges," unification ministry spokesman Kim told reporters.

The activists have been sending the leaflets via gas-filled balloons across the border, hoping to inform the North's citizens of the nature of their regime and of the outside world. The leaflets attack leader Kim as a prodigal womanizer who relishes expensive wine and cars.

The activists started to insert U.S. one dollar bills in the flyers in April last year to encourage more North Koreans to pick them up. But rumors that North Korean authorities are incarcerating those found with $1 notes prompted them to replace them with North Korean currency, the activists said.

Paik Hak-soon, a senior fellow with the Sejong Institute, an independent think tank, viewed the decision to ban the use of North Korean bills as a positive step for inter-Korean relations, but said that was not enough to break the impasse.

"Small action is better than no action, but the ban is only about North Korean money, not the leaflet campaign as a whole that aims to directly attack the North Korean leader," he said.

Kim Young-soo, a political science professor of Sogang University, said the government should not interfere with the activists' campaign. He questioned whether the North Korean leader is sincere about denuclearization and inter-Korean relations, pointing to Pyongyang's continuing saber-rattling against Seoul.

"We don't know yet whether leader Kim is genuinely committed to denuclearization," he said, "If his remarks were only meant to be diplomatic and ceremonial, our unification ministry has acted too hastily."

Pyongyang recently intensified its tirades against Seoul after President Lee Myung-bak named his hawkish foreign policy adviser, Hyun In-taek, as new unification minister. Hyun was a close policy adviser to Lee during his presidential campaign and helped him formulate a tougher stance on North Korea's nuclear program than his liberal predecessors.

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Six-Party Talks on Peace Regime Due in Moscow
Jung Sung-ki
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)

A new round of six-party working group talks on the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is expected to be held next month in Moscow, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

The expectation comes with reports that Russia's chief nuclear negotiator, Alexander Losyukov, is visiting Pyongyang.

The peace regime working group is one of the five working groups which the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia agreed to create in 2007 to resolve the deadlock over the North's nuclearization issue.

Since then, two rounds of working-level talks on the peace mechanism to replace the truce on the peninsula have been held.

Seoul officials expect the third round of talks to be held from Feb. 19 to Feb. 20.

South and North Korea remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a ceasefire, not a permanent peace treaty.

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Clinton Says Six-Party Talks "Essential" on North Korea
John Whitesides
(for personal use only)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday the six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program were "essential" to diplomatic approaches to the isolated Communist state.

Clinton said the talks, which include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been helpful for all participants.

"The six-party talks are essential. They have not only been a useful forum for the participants who deal with the challenge of North Korea's nuclear program but the other issues that are part of the North Korean agenda," Clinton told reporters.

Under the six-party talks, North Korea in 2005 agreed to abandon all its nuclear programs. But Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in 2006 and has been slow to carry out agreements on disabling its plutonium program.

The new administration of President Barack Obama is undertaking a review of the U.S. approach on North Korea.

"We are going to pursue steps that we think are effective," Clinton said in her first meeting with State Department reporters since taking over the top diplomat's job last week.

"It is important that I underscore what we see as the significance of the six-party talks. They have been useful not only vis a vis North Korea but among the participating nations in related matters in the region," she said.

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N. Korea Can Be Made to Give up its Nuke Weapons in Half-a-Day: Carter
(for personal use only)

Carter was quoted by Fox News as saying during an Associated Press interview on Monday that he believed North Korea would be willing to give up its nuclear weapons for U.S. diplomatic recognition, a peace deal with South Korea and America, and if it got new atomic power reactors and free fuel oil.

"It could be worked out, in my opinion, in half a day," Carter said.

Last week, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said it would give up its nuclear weapons only if Washington establishes diplomatic relations with the regime and the U.S. ceases to pose a nuclear threat to the North -- an apparent reference to Pyongyang's long-standing claim that American nuclear weapons are hidden in South Korea.

Both Seoul and Washington deny the accusation.

"I went over there in 1994 and I worked out a complete agreement with (former North Korean President) Kim Il Sung to eliminate all nuclear programs, and to let International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors come in without impediment," Carter said.

"President Clinton adopted that and put it into effect," in effect agreeing to give North Korea fuel oil and modernized, safe atomic reactors in exchange for dismantling its old reactors and allowing unfettered U.N. inspections, he added.

Carter's and Clinton's deals to dismantle the North Korean nuclear program -- then consisting of reactors with only a theoretical weapons-building capacity -- were shelved when President George W. Bush took office in 2001.

Anxious to dismantle the country's atomic program, five regional powers hashed out a 2007 deal promising energy and other aid to Pyongyang in exchange for nuclear disarmament, but the agreement has been hindered by disputes between North Korea and the United States over how to verify what nuclear activities the country had undertaken in past decades.

Carter believes the deal could be accomplished almost instantly, with good will.

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D.  Russia

G8 Cash not Enough for Arms Disposal, Says Russia
Dmitri Solovyov
(for personal use only)

Russia said on Wednesday it might have to slow down destruction of its huge Soviet-era stocks of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction because its G8 partners were not providing enough funds to carry out the work.

The Group of Eight industrialised nations clinched a $20 billion deal in 2002 to help Russia get rid of chemical, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and stop them falling into the wrong hands.

The programme, dubbed "the G8 Global Partnership," aims to help destroy chemical weapons, dismantle ageing reactors aboard decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines and dispose of fissile materials.

"The problem is, while Russia meets its obligations in full, the rest of the G8 nations which made this commitment up to now have met these obligations by 40-45 percent," said Andrei Bokarev, a senior finance ministry official and one of Russia's G8 point men.

"Taking into account the current situation shaping up amid the global crisis, naturally there appear big doubts that these funds will be made available in the volume needed," he said.

"In this case we will be forced to either slow down the earlier announced tempo of processing chemical and other types of weapons, or we will start looking for additional funds in Russia in order to offset a lack of funds from our G8 partners."

Russia's then President Vladimir Putin, who is now a powerful prime minister, said after reaching the 2002 deal Russia had no security problems and denied that weapons of mass destruction could pass into the hands of militant groups or "rogue states" like Iran, Iraq or North Korea.

But Moscow admitted at the time that there was an ecological threat from remaining Soviet-era stocks of chemical weapons and nuclear waste.

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Russia Scraps Plan to Deploy Nuclear-Capable Missiles in Kaliningrad
Luke Harding
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

Russia today announced it was abandoning plans to deploy nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its European Kaliningrad outpost – a sign that Moscow wants improved relations with the new US administration.

Defence officials said the Kremlin's proposals to station short-range missiles in the small Baltic territory next to Poland had been "suspended".

The move followed Barack Obama's decision to review the Pentagon's controversial missile defence shield in central Europe.

The Kremlin has been incensed by the Bush administration's plans to site missile interceptors and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Moscow believes the plan upsets Europe's strategic nuclear balance and targets Russia, but the Bush administration insisted it was intended to defend against a threat from Iran.

Obama has not yet decided whether to press ahead with the scheme or to abandon it, although indications suggest he is sceptical about its value.

This afternoon the state-run ITAR-Tass news agency cited a Defense Ministry source as dismissing the report that Russia had abandoned plans to deploy the missiles. But the initial leak, published in Russian newspapers and by the Interfax news agency, suggests that Moscow is keen to test the Obama administration's possible response.

Analysts today said if confirmed the Russian move - which follows a phone conversation this week between Obama and Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev - could open the way for renewed dialogue on other issues that divide the two countries.

"The earlier Russian announcement that they were going to deploy missiles ... and point them at NATO allies was unwelcome. If that decision has now been rescinded, it is a good step," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said today.

Today's Russian move can be interpreted as a Kremlin olive branch to the new US team and a tactic to put pressure on Obama to scrap the shield.

"These plans have been suspended because the new US administration is not pushing ahead with the plans to deploy the US missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic," an official told the Russian state news agency, Interfax.

"Russia does not need to deploy Iskanders in the Kaliningrad region if the US does not install its missile defence facilities in eastern Europe."

In November, the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, said Russia would station Iskanders in Kaliningrad – the former German city of Königsberg, which was seized by the Soviet Union after the second world war.

He warned that they would be directly pointed at the US nearby defence and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, and said Russia would use radio-jamming equipment to wreck the Pentagon's new missile defence system.

Today's apparently conciliatory move appears to have been timed to coincide with a major speech by Vladimir Putin at Davos, Switzerland, later today.

The Russian prime minister is attending the world economic summit instead of Medvedev – a clear sign that he remains in charge.

He is expected to put forward his ideas for a change in the world economic order and deliver his assessment of what caused the global economic crisis.

He is also likely to put the boot into Ukraine, blaming the chaotic government in Kiev for this month's gas crisis, which left much of Europe without Russian gas.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Extract Uranium Find May Be Among Best for Decades
Cath Hart
The Australian
(for personal use only)

URANIUM explorer Extract has unveiled the maiden resource for its Rossing South uranium mine in Namibia, announcing the project could be one of the world's premier uranium deposits.

The Perth-based company said the initial resource of 108.3 million pounds of uranium oxide at a grade of 430 parts per million marked Rossing South as "one of the most significant uranium discoveries in decades".

"Future resource upgrades have the potential to propel Rossing South into the top ten global uranium deposits by contained metal," the company said in a statement to the ASX.

Extract managing director Peter McIntyre said the resource grade exceeded expectations by "a considerable margin".

"The grade of 430ppm U308 had confirmed Rossing South as the highest-grade granite-hosted deposit in Namibia," Mr McIntyre said.

Feasibility work would now commence on Zone 1 as well as further drilling to establish a larger resource over the next six months, he said. Despite what several analysts described as a positive result, the otherwise robust market did not react strongly to the news yesterday, nudging up the share price just half a cent by the close of trade.

"Perhaps the market was expecting something a bit bigger," Hartley's analyst Andrew Muir said.

Mr Muir said ongoing uncertainty about what Extract shareholder Kalahari Minerals -- which kyboshed a recent merger with Extract -- had possibly dampened market sentiment regarding the Rossing South result.

Mr Muir said the Rossing South result was comparable to Bannerman's Etango prospect, also in Nambia.

"The amount of uranium is pretty similar. However Extract's grade is significantly higher in the Rossing South resource," he said.

"Although it is higher grade than Bannerman it looks a bit narrower in parts and it has a bit of soil over the top, whereas Bannerman actually has outcrops."

Intersuisse analyst Paul Gooday said he was surprised by the flat market response.

"They've come out today with a great announcement," he said.

"The market is asleep, it's a matter of the market waking up."

The term price of yellowcake has fallen to about $US70 a pound but is expected to rally to about $US80 a pound by 2010 on the strength of additional demand from China and India.

John Wilson, from Resource Capital Research, said Extract was "one of the more exciting uranium plays at the moment".

"It looks very encouraging, it's an exciting area and an exciting project - there's lots of upside," he said.

Shares in Extract rose slightly yesterday to close at $1.47.

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UAE Aims for Nuclear Power
Andres Cala
Energy Tribune
(for personal use only)

The clock is ticking for President Barack Obama regarding the spread of nuclear power technology in the Middle East. Obama has less than three months to endorse a civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates that was finalized just a few days before George W. Bush left office.

The deal was hailed by the US and the UAE as a framework for future deals to promote peaceful nuclear technology while safeguarding against military uses. But the possibility of more nuclear capability in the Middle East complicates discussions about Iran, which is pushing its own nuclear program.

The UAE has agreed to snap inspection and complete disclosure to the International Atomic Energy Agency and it has promised to forego the nuclear enrichment or reprocessing cycles that could produce weapons-grade material. Iran has not.

Obama would have to send any deal with the UAE to Congress for approval. And it appears that Congress will demand that the UAE be more vigilant in trade matters as the emirate has been implicated in deals that have helped Iran and Pakistan develop their nuclear programs.

The Obama administration will also be pressured by Arab governments and economically by its allies, namely France. The UAE has signed agreements with Paris on nuclear cooperation and its companies Total, Suez-GdF and Areva have agreed to offer two new-generation European Pressurized Reactor plants, which could cost between $4 and $6 billion, according to several estimates. While Iran’s program is also of concern to Arab countries, the UAE needs more electricity options. Its booming economy has led to huge increases in electricity demand and it doesn’t have enough natural gas to meet that power demand.

Even if the nuclear deal is approved, it will likely take 15 years or so before the UAE could begin generating nuclear power. While US and UAE officials have said it could be as soon as 2017, the Arab country lacks even the most basic nuclear research facilities and it will face certain delays over the myriad of proliferation, geopolitical, environmental and regulatory concerns that need to be addressed. That is in stark contrast of Iran’s nearly 5,000 running centrifuges and the scheduled fueling of the country’s first reactor. The Russian-built Bushehr plant is expected to begin operation this year.

Global competition for scarce nuclear know-how may also delay the UAE’s aspirations. With Europe and Asia experiencing a nuclear renaissance and the US ready to follow suit, the industry is facing a shortage of skilled manpower. Thus, even if all goes well with Obama and Congress, the possibility of a nuclear-powered UAE looks to be many years away.

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Britain Starts Search for New Nuclear Build Sites
Daniel Fineren
(for personal use only)

Budding nuclear power plant builders have two months to nominate sites for the next generation of nuclear power stations in Britain, the government said on Tuesday.

Europe's biggest utilities, which have been clubbing together this month in readiness to build the nuclear power plants Britain hopes will replace an aging fleet of state built reactors, have until March 31 to submit their site proposals.

"The industry continues to gear up to invest and we are on course to see new nuclear feeding into the grid by 2018," Britain's Energy Secretary Ed Miliband told the Nuclear Development Forum on Tuesday.

"We'll be judging each site that gets nominated against the criteria we have set out today and there will be plenty of opportunities for local authorities and the public to have their say on the options tabled."

Britain's publically-run Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said last week it plans to nominate four of its facilities, including the Sellafield nuclear fuel processing plant.

French nuclear energy giant EDF, which is buying the owner of most of Britain's nuclear power plants, British Energy, has said it plans to build two reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk and two at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

It also plans to nominate sites at Heysham in Lancashire, Hartlepool in northeast England and Dungeness in Kent.

"Sites selection is a vital element of the framework for new build, but just one of a number of pieces that must be put in place if we are to address the urgent energy challenges the country faces," EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said in a statement.

"Subject to a robust investment framework being put in place in the right timescales, EDF Energy intends to build four new EPR nuclear reactors in the UK, with the first to be operational by the end of 2017."
Earlier this month German utilities RWE and E.ON joined forces to build nuclear power stations in Britain, while Scottish and Southern Energy and Spain's Iberdrola also plan to work together on new reactors.

The list of nominated sites should be published in spring, followed by a month-long public consultation and government assessment.

From 2010, developers may apply for planning permission for the sites which are found to be suitable.

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India to Soon Announce Details of Signing Safeguards Agreement
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India is soon expected to announce by when it would sign a country-specific safeguards agreement with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under which 14 reactors in all will be brought under its ambit.

"We are trying to complete all necessary steps. After a couple of days, we will announce the steps we have taken towards operationalisation of the nuclear deal along with the details on the signing of India Specific Safeguards Agreement (ISSA) with the IAEA," Ravi Grover, Director, strategic planning of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and a key negotiator, who is leaving for Vienna tonight, told PTI.

Once the ISSA is signed, India would place six reactors-- two units 1 and 2 of Tarapur in Maharashtra, units 1 and 2 of Kota, Rajasthan and two units at Koodankulam, Tamil Nadu-- which are under IAEA safeguards, under the ISSA, Grover said.

Grover said that besides the IAEA, the DAE is in talks with the US, France and Russia with whom civil nuclear agreements have been signed.

"We are also in talks with Kazakhstan with whom we signed an MOU for uranium fuel last week,"he said.

On August 1, last year, the IAEA Board of Governors had approved the ISSA and authorised Director General Mohammed ElBaradei to work out the details and the mandatory additional protocol requirements. And subsequently implement it.

ElBaradei had said according to Indian separation plan (civilian and military), a total of 14 reactors, including the six under IAEA, will be placed under safeguards by 2014.

On steps taken for legislation for civil nuclear liability, Chairman Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar said,"the development of legislation is a long process. We are quite advanced on it presently and it should be done soon.

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Japan Nuclear Capacity to Fall as Chubu Scraps Units
Osamu Tsukimori
(for personal use only)

Japan's nuclear power generation capacity will fall by 1,380 megawatts, or 2.8 percent, to 47,935 megawatts from Friday, a government official said, reflecting a utility's move to scrap two nuclear reactors and replace them with a new one.

Chubu Electric Power Co (9502.T), Japan's third-biggest utility, said in December it would decommission its 540-megawatt No.1 and 840-megawatt No.2 generators at its sole Hamaoka nuclear plant, and build a new No.6 reactor to replace them.

The move reduced the number of nuclear power generators for commercial use in Japan, which has the world's third-biggest nuclear generation capacity after the United States and France, to 53 from 55.

Chubu said it made little economic sense to spend considerable time and money to improve the two reactors built over 30 years ago, which have been shut for years due to delays in upgrading their earthquake-resistance and other repair work.

Chubu's nuclear plant capacity will decrease to 3,504 megawatts from 4,884 megawatts as of Jan. 30, Chubu said.

The capacity decrease will not have an immediate impact on Chubu's nuclear power output, as the No.1 and No.2 Hamaoka units had already been shut down and had been scheduled to remain offline until March 2011 under the firm's original plan.

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F.  Nuclear Safety

Predicting the Future, Protecting the Environment
International Atomic Energy Agency
(for personal use only)

Issues of radiation safety and environmental protection go hand in hand. At the IAEA last week, experts from 40 countries examined the transfer of radionuclides to plant and animal life, to improve how risks are assessed and ultimately reduced.

"All nuclear facilities and uranium mines, in their day-to-day activities, release some amount of radioactive effluents into the environment, transferring to the food chain, the air you breathe or to the water you drink," says Didier Louvat, Head of the IAEA´s Waste and Environmental Safety Section. ”Of course, before governments give authorisation for a nuclear power plant to operate or for mining to take place, they have to assess the risk these releases can pose to the public and to the environment."

The IAEA has been working with nuclear safety organizations from various countries for decades to streamline the way such risks are assessed. It regularly hosts sessions through a programme called Environmental Modelling for Radiation Safety (EMRAS). It builds on work that began shortly after the 1986 Chernobyl accident, which released radionuclides over large areas of the former Soviet Union and Europe, and prompted a reassessment of the way risks associated with nuclear facilities are determined.

Environmental modelling involves a series of complicated mathematical calculations designed to forecast the effect that various events will have on particular environments and organisms living in those environments. For example, modelling is used to predict weather patterns on earth and in space. And when it comes to radiation safety, environmental models determine the likely effect that releases of radionuclides from nuclear facilities and uranium mines will have on the public, on plants and animals as well as on the land, sea and air.

The latest EMRAS meetings, which began 19 January 2009, with 110 participants from 40 countries at the IAEA´s Vienna Headquarters, will result in further harmonization on modelling radionuclide transfer to the environment. "The overall objective of the EMRAS programme is to help states build up their national capabilities to model the movements of radionuclides in the environment," explains Mr. Louvat. "In that way, they can better assess exposure levels of the public, plants and animals to ensure the right level of protection from harmful effects of ionizing radiation." To date, EMRAS has also focused on accident assessments, waste management and disposal, and uranium mining activities.

"EMRAS meetings attract many people," says Mr. Louvat, "because it’s one of the most effective opportunities they have to check the validity of the assessment models they use every day in their countries."

At these gatherings nuclear safety assessors test their models with different scenarios, compare results and eventually refine their mathematical calculations to better estimate the true impact of radionuclide releases. "The importance of a harmonised approach is that, if you have nuclear facilities bordering other countries, then it is important that assessments made in one country are compatible with assessment methods in the other country," he says.

Already produced and published is a safety guide on the control of radioactive discharges from nuclear facilities, technical reports, and other guidance. It includes a generic model that any country can use to assess the probable impact of nuclear-related activities. And it also includes technical reports on how transfer parameters are used to assess the impacts on land and on the marine environment.

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G.  Links of Interest

An Inside Look: India’s Procurement of Tributyl Phosphate (TBP) for its Unsafeguarded Nuclear Program
David Albright, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel
Institute for Science and International Security
(for personal use only)

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Russia and Iran Get Strategic
Erik Leaver
Foreign Policy in Focus
(for personal use only)

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

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