Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Sunday that Russia is determined to continue cooperation with Iran and its stance regarding the country will not change.
In an exclusive interview with IRNA correspondent, Alexei Borodavkin said: “Despite some countries’ demand in the Munich Security Conference for a change in Russia’s policy on Iran, Russian officials see no reason for doing so.”
Expressing his pleasure with the upward trend in Tehran-Moscow cooperation, Borodavkin said: “Russia successfully continues ties with its old neighboring country of Iran.”
He told IRNA that the launch of Bushehr Atomic Power Plant will take place according to the schedule, “It will be put into operation in August and its main contractor would be Russia’s Atomstroyexport,” according to the agreement inked by the Iranian and Russian officials in 1995.
“Iran and Russia attach importance to regional security as well as stability in the Caspian Sea based on mutual interests.”
“Economic cooperation between Tehran and Moscow is being followed in the growing trend and the volume of trade exchange between the two countries hit dlrs 3.2 billion in 2008.”
He added the two countries work on various projects in the nuclear, gas and oil fields as well.
Referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that will initiate an international conference on Afghanistan in March at which Iran is to act as an observer, Borodavkin hoped Iran would play an active role at that conference and bilateral ties between the two nations would further develop.
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=189432
Russia does not intend to toughen its policy toward Iran regarding its nuclear program, a senior Russian diplomat said Monday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it's necessary to intensify international efforts to reach a political settlement of the Iranian nuclear standoff. But Ryabkov added that Russia has no intention to take a harsher attitude to Iran, Russian news agencies reported.
"Our stance on the Iranian nuclear program has no elements which could be interpreted as toughening of approach," Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
The U.S. has accused Iran of supporting terrorism and secretly seeking to build nuclear weapons — charges that Iran denies.
Russia has developed close ties with Iran and is building its first nuclear power plant. Moscow has supported limited U.N. sanctions on Iran, but opposed the U.S. push for tougher measures.
President Barack Obama has signaled a new willingness to engage Iran, whose relations with the Bush administration were long strained.
Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Najar arrived in Moscow late Monday for talks with his Russian counterpart on bilateral military ties, the Interfax news agency reported.
Russia has supplied weapons to Iran, despite U.S. and Israeli complaints. However, Russian officials have rejected claims that they have provided Iran with powerful S-300 air defense missiles.
Anatoly Isaikin, head of the Russian Rosoboronexport state arms-selling monopoly, was quoted in an interview published earlier this month as saying that it had not supplied S-300s to Iran yet but was ready to do so if ordered by the government.
Interfax said that Najar will likely push for delivery of S-300s during his visit to Russia.
Ryabkov said Monday that ending the Iranian nuclear standoff could also help advance U.S.-Russian talks on possible cooperation on missile defense.
"As soon as there is a shift toward restoring confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, opportunities will open for deeper talk on prospects for cooperation on missile defense," Ryabkov said. "We are studying signals from the U.S. administration, and, for our part, have made proposals on how we can cooperate in the missile defense field."
Russia has fiercely opposed plans by George W. Bush's administration to deploy a battery of missile interceptors in Poland and a related radar in the Czech Republic. Moscow has rejected the U.S. claims that the sites were intended to counter prospective missile threats from Iran, saying the facilities threaten Russia's security.
The Kremlin has voiced hope that Obama's administration will dump the missile defense plans.
Obama has not said how he intends to proceed. But he has stressed that the system has to be cost-effective and proven and that it should not divert resources from other national security priorities.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iBLHJGdHUD5xKiB9QYH6NlZhfTXgD96CSI0G0
1. Israel Cautions Anew Against a Nuclear-Armed Iran
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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a forum of military chiefs on Monday that Israel would regard a nuclear-armed Iran as an "existential threat" that would speed up a regional arms race.
Israel's military spokesman released Barak's comments after the United Nation's nuclear watchdog chief said global nuclear disarmament work was being hampered by Arab perceptions Israel wasn't abiding by a non-proliferation treaty.
Barak told a closed forum of military chiefs at a strategy session that if Iran obtained atomic weapons it would pose a "central threat to world order," the statement said.
He added it would "dramatically accelerate nuclear proliferation in the region."
Israel is believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, though it has never acknowledged such a program or ever testing atomic weapons.
The Jewish state has long denounced Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its existence and also cites remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying Israel should be wiped off the map.
U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Tehran of tougher sanctions if it does not halt its disputed nuclear work, but in a departure from his predecessor George W. Bush, said last week he also saw the possibility of diplomatic openings with Iran.
Iran says it seeks nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, in order to generate electricity.
Writing in the International Herald Tribune, Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, referred on Monday to Arab perceptions of Israel in the context of global nuclear disarmament efforts.
"The nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel."
ElBaradei said further that Israel was "the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons," referring to a global nuclear non-proliferation treaty never signed by the Jewish state.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/burningIssues/idUKTRE51F4MU20090216?sp=true
The new chief of US intelligence has confirmed the findings of a 2007 intelligence report that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
Dennis Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee that his organization has assessed that Tehran does not have nuclear weapons design and weaponization work.
A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), issued in November 2007 by the sixteen US intelligence agencies, clarified that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
The 2007 intelligence report was widely seen as a setback for Bush administration efforts to pressure Iran and halt its nuclear program.
The UN nuclear watchdog, which has carried out the highest number of inspections in its history on Iranian nuclear sites, has also found nothing to indicate that the program has diverted toward weaponization.
Blair also acknowledged that Tehran has made significant progress in its uranium enrichment program during the past two years.
"Although we do not know whether Iran currently intends to develop nuclear weapons, we assess Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop them," said the retired admiral.
He, however, did not elaborate on how his organization can assess that Tehran intends at a minimum level to keep open the option to develop nuclear weapons.
The US official added that the intelligence agency believes Iran is unlikely to be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon before 2013.
"US intelligence assesses that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon, and does not yet have enough fissile material for one," he affirmed.
Blair confirmed that the international community remains divided in dealing with the country's nuclear drive. Both Russia and China are against the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activities.
The UN Security Council, influenced by the Bush administration, has intervened in Iran's nuclear dossier, slapping three rounds of sanctions against Tehran.
Iran, a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says the only aim of its program is the civilian applications of the technology.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=85571§ionid=351020104
1. Ending Nuclear Impasse Is Up to North Korea: Clinton
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested on Tuesday North Korea would have to make the first move to improve its relationship with the United States by ending its nuclear programs.
Speaking a day after Pyongyang said it had the right to launch a long-range missile, Clinton said such a test would be "very unhelpful" and that Washington was watching very closely to see if North Korea ends its "provocative" actions.
South Korean media reports say Pyongyang has been preparing to test its longest-range Taepodong-2 missile, which is designed to reach as far as Alaska but has never flown successfully.
Officials in South Korea have also been anticipating a short-range missile test near a disputed sea border where navies from the two countries have clashed in the past.
"The possible missile launch that North Korea is talking about would be very unhelpful," she told a news conference in Tokyo after talks with her Japanese counterpart.
Clinton repeated an offer of a peace treaty, the normalization of ties and aid if North Korea eliminated its nuclear weapons program, the topic of long-running, six-country talks. She first made the offer in a speech last Friday.
There has been no response to the offer yet from Pyongyang.
"If North Korea abides by the obligations it has already entered into and verifiably and completely eliminates its nuclear program, then there will be a reciprocal response, certainly from the United States," Clinton said.
"But the decision as to whether North Korea will cooperate in the six-party talks, end provocative language and actions, is up to them -- and we are watching very closely."
NO TURNING CLOCK BACK
Talks between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions have been stymied for months because of Pyongyang's refusal to agree to a system to verify the dismantling of its atomic programs.
China, the closest thing North Korea has to an ally, appealed for "dialogue and coordination" to reduce tensions.
"We hope related parties realize that maintaining the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is in accord with the common interests of all sides," said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular news briefing.
While the Obama administration has said that it is reviewing its policies on North Korea, Clinton has made clear the United States will continue to pursue the six-party talks.
In recent weeks, North Korea's harsh rhetoric has increased sharply, including a threat to destroy the wealthy South, in anger at the hardline policies of its President Lee Myung-bak.
Analysts say North Korea is using the missile threat to put pressure on President Lee to end curbs he placed on aid to the destitute state and grab the Obama administration's attention.
They say Pyongyang may feel it can extract more from the international community by raising tensions rather than by accepting Washington's olive branch.
In a gesture to the faltering government of Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Clinton plans to meet the families of Japanese citizens abducted decades ago by North Korean agents who wanted to use them to train spies.
She declined to say whether she thought former President George W. Bush had erred by removing North Korea from a U.S. terrorism blacklist before it addressed the abductee issue.
She appeared unhappy that, during the Bush administration, North Korea resumed reprocessing plutonium. That process had been frozen under an agreement negotiated by her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"If we could turn the clock back, we would not have let that occur," she said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE51E07H20090217?sp=true
2. S. Korea Expects Six-Way Gathering in Moscow to Break Nuke Deadlock
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korean delegates left Tuesday for Moscow to attend a six-nation meeting on peace and security in Northeast Asia, holding out hopes for a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations on the North Korean nuclear program.
The third working group meeting on the Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism, slated for Thursday and Friday, is to discuss detailed ways to bring lasting peace to the region and Russia has already presented the second draft of guiding principles, according to Hur Chul, director general of the foreign ministry's Korean Peninsula peace regime bureau.
Russia chairs the forum in the framework of the broader six-party talks also involving the U.S., China, and Japan. The other four working groups are designed to discuss energy assistance for North Korea, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, normalizing North Korea-U.S. relations and normalizing North Korea-Japan ties.
This week's gathering will set the stage for the first government-level contact among North Korea, the U.S., and the other parties since President Barack Obama's inauguration.
"The working group meeting is significant in that it could provide momentum to the stalled denuclearization process, although it is unlikely to produce an immediate tangible outcome," Hur, head of the South Korean delegation said just before his departure.
He said he has no plan yet for a separate formal meeting with his North Korean counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting.
Pyongyang is known to be sending Jung Tae-yang, vice director general of the foreign ministry's American bureau, while the U.S. will be represented by Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Alexander A. Arvizu.
"I think I will be able to meet him (Jung) naturally in and outside the venue of the session," he said.
Inter-Korean relations have ever worsened since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak assumed power a year ago with a pledge to take a carrot-and-stick approach toward Pyongyang. North Korea has churned out bellicose statements and missile threats in protest.
The Moscow meeting coincides with a trip by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Seoul, which is part of her first regional tour in her capacity as Washington's top diplomat. During her stay here, Clinton is expected to make clear Washington's will to focus on ridding North Korea of all of its nuclear program.
The six-way disarmament talks are in a stalemate again over how to verify Pyongyang's declaration of its nuclear program. The North has refused to allow international inspectors to take samples from its main nuclear site in Yongbyon. The latest session of the tumultuous negotiations was held in Beijing last December but no date has been set for the next round.
The South Korean delegation is scheduled to return to Seoul on Sunday.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/02/17/43/0401000000AEN20090217001100315F.HTML
3. Seoul Wants Complete Denuclearization of N. Korea: PM
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said Monday that Seoul wants a complete denuclearization of North Korea, and that the nations involved in the process do not approve of the country's possession of nuclear power.
"Complete abandonment," Han said during an interpellation session in parliament when asked by lawmakers what Seoul's ultimate goal is in the six-party framework on North Korea's nuclear program.
Han also stressed that excluding North Korea, the countries in the six-party talks do not approve of North Korea's possession of nuclear capability. The six-party talks involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
The prime minister also underscored that the communist state is not recognized as a nuclear power by the United Nation's Security Council.
North Korea conducted its first atomic test in October 2006. The Koreas remain in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
On the free trade agreement with the United States, Han said that Seoul has no intention to renegotiate the deal.
"We have not received (any demand from Washington) for a renegotiation, and have no plan to respond to the demand if there ever is one," Han said.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/02/16/71/0401000000AEN20090216006700315F.HTML
4. NKorea Would Only Use Nukes if Survival at Stake: US
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North Korea is unlikely to use its nuclear weapons unless Kim Jong-Il's regime feels mortally threatened, but the Stalinist nation remains a wide-ranging menace, a top official said.
Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama's director of national intelligence, accused North Korea of exporting missiles to Iran while observing that Kim himself remains very much in charge despite an apparent stroke last year.
"Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and proliferation behavior threaten to destabilize East Asia," Blair told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, presenting the US intelligence community's annual "threat assessment."
Before its shock nuclear detonation of October 2006, North Korea was believed to have enough plutonium for at least six atomic weapons and there are "increasing concerns" that it is still enriching uranium, Blair said.
But the retired admiral added: "Pyongyang probably views its nuclear weapons as being more for deterrence, international prestige and coercive diplomacy than for war-fighting, and would consider using nuclear weapons only under certain narrow circumstances.
"We also assess Pyongyang probably would not attempt to use nuclear weapons against US forces or territory unless it perceived the regime to be on the verge of military defeat and risked an irretrievable loss of control."
North Korea has staked out a tough stance in stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations involving the United States and four regional powers.
And US and South Korean officials say Pyongyang seems to be preparing to test its longest-range missile, which can theoretically reach Alaska.
North Korea in recent weeks has also intensified threats against the conservative South Korean government of President Lee Myung-Bak. It has scrapped peace accords, nullified the sea border and warned of possible war.
On prospects for the regime's survival, Blair noted continued food shortages, a slump in trade with Japan after the 2006 nuclear test, and a more recent decline in trade with South Korea as tensions have risen.
"Despite this poor economic performance and the many privations of the North Korean public, we see no organized opposition to Kim Jong-Il's rule and only occasional incidents of social disorder," he said.
"The state's control apparatus by all accounts remains strong, sustaining the dismal condition of human rights in North Korea."
Blair said meanwhile that "North Korea has sold ballistic missiles and associated materials to several Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, and, in our assessment, assisted Syria with the construction of a nuclear reactor."
The United States believes that a remote site in the Syrian desert called Al-Kibar had been a covert nuclear reactor close to completion, until it was razed to the ground by Israeli bombs in September 2007.
"We remain concerned North Korea could again export nuclear technology," the US intelligence boss said, as the six-party deal designed to disarm the Stalinist state falters.
Addressing intense speculation about Kim's health, Blair said the veteran strongman "probably suffered a stroke in August that incapacitated him for several weeks."
"However, his recent public activities suggest his health has improved significantly, and we assess he is making key decisions."
Kim appeared fit and showed no sign of having undergone brain surgery for his reported stroke when he met a visiting Chinese envoy on January 23, South Korean newspapers reported Tuesday.
Some reports in August said Kim, who turns 67 next Monday, had undergone brain surgery for the stroke. Other reports said he may have suffered partial paralysis on his left side.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ge9c-fX0AC2wCgc9Qdak-CrQ3LCA
1. S. Korea to Reconsider Role in Global Anti-Proliferation Drive: Minister
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea should counter North Korea's continued missile and nuclear threats by formally joining a U.S.-led anti-proliferation campaign, Seoul's top defense official told lawmakers on Monday.
"Under the situation in which North Korea is developing long-range missile and nuclear weapons, it is time for South Korea to reconsider its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)," Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said during a National Assembly session.
South Korea has participated in the PSI, harshly criticized by Pyongyang, as an observer since 2005 at the request of the U.S., its key ally. The preceding liberal administrations confined Seoul's role to supporting offshore drilling in an apparent effort to not further antagonize its communist neighbor, a prime target of a campaign launched by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2003.
"The government understands the purpose of the PSI, and we should determine the level of support ... (and) push for participation in stages in accordance with our situation," Lee added.
His comments came as the U.S. administration is expected to bolster the PSI, currently with more than 90 member states, to more closely coordinate international efforts on halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
With regard to the North's nuclear capability, the minister reiterated his previous assessment that Pyongyang has about 40 kg of plutonium, enough to produce six to seven bombs.
"But we need to review additional intelligence to see whether North Korea actually manufactured (nuclear weapons)," he said.
He downplayed the North's underground nuclear test in 2006 as the detonation of a mere "nuclear device," not a nuclear bomb.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/02/16/58/0401000000AEN20090216006600315F.HTML
2. UN Nuclear Watchdog Seeks Hefty Budget Increase
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The U.N. atomic watchdog agency is asking members to approve an 11-percent increase to next year's operating budget as it works to keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands and monitor nonproliferation efforts, according to agency documents obtained Monday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency seeks to increase its present working budget for next year to euro336 million ($428.8 million) and is looking for an additional 1.5 percent boost in 2011 to euro341 million.
Beyond those requests, the restricted IAEA document asks members to earmark an extra euro26.3 million ($33.8 million) for capital expenditures — equipment, building costs and similar outlays it says it needs to deal with additional responsibilities that have developed over recent years.
In an accompanying letter, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei urged support for the proposed budget, which would expand activities meant to keep nuclear material from falling into terrorist hands, the monitoring of suspect programs such as Iran's, improve key facilities and upgrade medical and agricultural program mostly benefiting developing countries.
"Given the grave risk that nuclear materials could fall into the hands of terrorists, it is clearly unacceptable for our nuclear security program to remain predominantly reliant on uncertain ... voluntary contributions," wrote ElBaradei in comments posted on a Web site restricted to agency member states and shared with The Associated Press.
"Funding for nuclear safety also needs to be adequate and assured so the Agency can help to reduce the risk of potentially serious accidents."
ElBaradei said agency efforts to support aid requests from about 50 nations looking to introduce nuclear power also called for more financial support.
"We have reached a critical point," he wrote. "If we carry on with business as usual, the Agency's effectiveness and the quality of the services we provide to you will continue to erode to a dangerous level."
Like most U.N. organizations, the IAEA has been forced to accept zero or near zero budget increases for years even while seeing its nonproliferation responsibilities grow over the past decade as North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb, and Iran and Syria came under suspicion of seeking to develop atomic weapons. Growing interest in nuclear power has also stretched agency capabilities.
Agency officials have been heartened by stated commitments from the new U.S. administration to double the IAEA budget over the next four years, hoping that stance by Washington will trickle down to other members of the 144-nation organization. The U.S. pays for 25 percent of the IAEA's budget.
But a diplomat from one of the 35-nations of the IAEA's decision-making board said Monday there was "strong resistance from all corners" — developed as well as developing nations — to any significant increase.
Instead, most members were looking for further cost cutting from within, the diplomat said. He asked for anonymity in comments to the AP because he was not authorized to discuss the restricted document with the media.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i1qMKwgIa7_iM0HH5NJyQs606RJQD96CP9TG0
1. India to Overcome Nuclear Fuel Uranium Shortage
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India will soon overcome the shortage of indigenous nuclear fuel uranium, which has led the running of the country's nuclear reactors at half their available capacity for the past year, a senior government official said Tuesday.
"Nuclear trade restrictions on India have been fully lifted. The country has also signed nuclear fuel supply deals with foreign countries like Russia and France. So, the shortage will be overcome soon," said the official on condition of anonymity.
India's nuclear power plants have been working at about half their capacity due to shortage of nuclear fuel despite the efforts of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to tap indigenous uranium deposits.
The power plants are facing shortage of uranium supply due to the slow process of opening up of new uranium mines.
At present, India manufactures its nuclear fuel in the Nuclear Fuel Complex in the south Indian state of Hyderabad.
Seventeen other plants are now being constructed across the country to meet the demand of about one ton of nuke fuel everyday.
In its interim budget presented by the government on Monday, India has allocated 2.254 billion rupees for procuring a nuclear fuel inventory, a 62 percent hike as compared to the last financial year.
India's nuclear power stations supply about 50 percent of the country's total electric power.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/17/content_10835287.htm
2. U.S. Firms "Restless" Over India Nuclear Deal Delays
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U.S. firms are getting "very restless" over procedural delays in implementing a civilian nuclear deal with India when the United States is gripped by a severe economic crisis, the American ambassador to India said on Friday.
Last year's multi-billion dollar deal has got bogged down by issues such as accident liability protection for U.S. companies which have lobbied hard for a slice of India's lucrative nuclear market.
Former U.S. President George Bush signed the agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the face of domestic critics who said it violated the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The deal, which will give India access to high-end technology and nuclear fuel for its reactors, brought India out of 30 years of nuclear isolation.
But the Indian government has so far only allocated sites for the construction of nuclear installations to France and Russia.
Both those governments shield their companies from liability for an industrial accident, unlike the United States, and American companies want New Delhi to help lift the burden.
"Two other countries have already been given sites and the American industry is getting very restless about the delay because they're anxious to get going," Ambassador David Mulford said at a conference in New Delhi.
Mulford made the case for a speedy implementation of the deal saying it would not only help India meet its growing energy needs but help the United States economy create jobs at a time when it was "suffering very, very severely".
"I think it's important that India should also think about how this investment initiative could help the United States economy, which India would like to see recover because it's one of the engines of growth in the world," he said.
India signed a pact earlier in February opening up its civilian nuclear plants to U.N. inspections as a condition of the deal.
India, which relies on imported oil for some 70 percent of its energy needs, says the nuclear supply pact will help feed energy demands in its expanding economy, while helping combat global warming linked to fossil fuel emissions.
It could bring in around $27 billion in investment over the next 15 years, says the Confederation of Indian Industry, and is expected to double nuclear power's share in India's electricity grid to 5-7 percent in the next two decades.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKDEL42978220090213?sp=true
1. Japan Atomic to Keep Nuke Reactor Open Beyond 2010
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Japan Atomic Power Co said on Tuesday it would continue operating the 357-megawatt No.1 nuclear generator at its Tsuruga plant in central Japan beyond 2010, due to a delay in the construction of new nuclear units.
The electricity wholesaler had originally planned to close the Tsuruga No.1 unit in 2010, and begin operations at the new Tsuruga No.3 and No.4 generators, each with capacity of 1,538 megawatts, from as early as that year.
But a revision to construction regulations in light of the government's new anti-quake guidelines has caused a delay in the launch of the new units until 2016 or later.
Japan Atomic Power said it could continue operating safely the No.1 unit -- which went online in 1970 and is Japan's oldest commercial reactor -- beyond 2010, and that it would decide at a later date when to halt the unit's operations.
The company supplies power output from the nuclear generator to Kansai Electric Power Co (9503.T), Chubu Electric Power Co (9502.T) and Hokuriku Electric Power Co (9505.T).
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKT8842220090217
Hungary's government will this spring formally propose doubling the country's nuclear power generating capacity at its Paks nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany told Parliament on Monday.
The expansion of the existing capacity is conditional upon approval by parliament.
"We will ask Parliament to approve the construction of additional units at the Paks nuclear plant, doubling its capacity," Gyurcsany said.
The existing nuclear plant, about 120 kms south of Budapest by the Danube river, currently generates about 2000 MW of electricity in four Russian-made reactors, providing the country 32 percent of its power needs according to the Hungarian Energy Office.
Much of the rest comes from gas-fired power plants, which produce 34 percent, and coal, which adds 18 percent. Imports cover eight percent, while renewable sources supply seven percent.
The Energy Office's data show that gas-fired plants represent most of the planned new power capacity in the country, including at least one very large project, a 2400 MW project in the works in eastern Hungary by Ukrainian-owned Emfesz Kft, according to news reports.
Hungary, like most other countries in the region, relies on Russian gas for 80 percent of its needs.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKLG1622720090216
3. Poland to Order Nuclear Reactor in 3-4 Years: Minister
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Poland will begin training nuclear system operators next year and order a reactor within 3 to 4 years in order to be able to launch a nuclear power station in 2020, Deputy Economy Minister Adam Szejnfeld said on Friday.
Szejnfeld met with officials from France's Ministry for Energy and European Affairs and with French reactor producer, the Areve group, in Paris on Wednesday.
On Tuesday the minister met officials of those firms interested in investing in Poland's energy sector, Electricite de France and GDF Suez, and Societe Generale bank.
"It takes 3-4 years to order a reactor and 5 years to order a turbine. This means that we should submit orders in 3-4 years at the latest," Szejnfeld was quoted as saying by Polish news agency PAP.
Another challenge facing Poland is the creation of technical supervision and power station security, he said.
Poland has enough time to select the best technology provider and the best financing system, the minister added.
On Jan. 13, the Polish government decided that two nuclear power plants will be built in Poland by 2020.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/14/content_10816908.htm
The Government is now ready to issue uranium mining licences to two of the four investors who applied for them under the new legislation, Mines and Minerals Development Deputy Minister Boniface Nkhata has said. According to online mining news publication Miningmx.com, Mr Nkhata said at the ongoing Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town that the two licences would be granted before the end of the current quarter.
“Four mining companies have applied for uranium mining permits under recently established legislation and two of these will be granted the licences in the first quarter of 2009,” the minister said.
He said the developments in the world financial market had affected production in Zambia’s mining industry.
Zambia expects copper production to fall to around 600,000 tonnes this year from a planned 700,000 tonnes because of shutdowns in the sector grappling with low copper prices.
“For 2009, we were predicting 700,000 tonnes but we’ve revised that figure down to about 600,000 tonnes,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.
The Government had to back down from its higher tax regime because of the reversal of high copper prices, canning the windfall tax introduced last year and increasing capital allowance to 100 per cent to promote investment in the country.
Custom duties on copper have been abolished and copper and cobalt concentrates now qualify for an import deferment scheme for Value Added Tax purposes.
“These measures are aimed at reducing operating costs for the mining companies.
“Although the sector recorded positive growth, it was affected by the sharp decline in metal prices in the third quarter of 2008, thereby, dampening the prospects of higher growth and profitability,” Mr Nkhata told delegates.
Luanshya Copper Mines and Chambishi Metals have both suspended mining and metallurgical work.
In addition, exploration projects have been severely affected across the mining sector because projects have no revenue streams and are mainly dependent on stock exchanges and loans from the banks for financing.
On oil exploration, the deputy minister said the Government had demarcated 29 blocs for oil and gas exploration.
Available at: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18609&Itemid=108
2. NTPC, Nuclear Power to Spend $3 Billion on India Atomic Plants
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NTPC Ltd., which accounts for 20 percent of India’s power capacity, and Nuclear Power Corp. will spend as much as 150 billion rupees ($3 billion) to build new atomic plants in the next eight years.
The venture will initially construct two nuclear power plants of 700 megawatts each, Jairam Ramesh, junior power minister, said in Mumbai today. Its capacity will eventually rise to 2,000 megawatts, he added.
The plants will help more than double by 2017 the installed capacity of NTPC, India’s biggest generator. The government’s monopoly on nuclear power gives the state-owned producers an advantage over private companies.
India plans to add 60,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity by 2030 in a bid to end peak power shortages, which reached 13.8 percent in the 10 months to January.
The South Asian nation was barred from trading in nuclear technology and fuel for more than three decades until September, when the ban was lifted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India has since signed accords with the U.S., France and Russia.
Nuclear Power will hold 51 percent of the venture, Ramesh said. The companies will select locations for the plants in the next three months.
India, Asia’s third-biggest energy consumer, had an installed capacity of 147,458 megawatts on Jan. 31, Ramesh said in parliament yesterday. NTPC’s installed capacity is expected to increase to more than 75,000 megawatts by 2017, the utility said in a statement in April. Its current capacity is 29,894 megawatts.
Nuclear generating capacity will more than triple to 6,000 megawatts in the next year, Ramesh said. The nation expects uranium supplies from Russia and France to augment the fuel produced in the states of Jharkhand and Meghalaya, he said.
Nuclear Power will buy 2,000 tons of uranium from Russia’s state-owned OAO Tvel, according to an agreement signed in Mumbai, Sudhinder Thakur, executive director at the Indian company, said Feb. 11. A 1,000-megawatt reactor consumes about 200 tons of the metal in a year.
The accord with Russia is India’s first long-term uranium contract since the Nuclear Suppliers Group ended its boycott.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=a1KrwztctDh8&refer=india
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