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Nuclear News - 2/19/2009
PGS Nuclear News, February 19, 2009
Compiled By: Helene Picart

    1. First Nonproliferation, Then Denuclearization, Jeong Jae Sung, The Daily North Korean (2/19/2009)
    2. Obama Not to Accept N. Korea's Nuclear Status: Ex-Envoy, Kim Hyun, Yonhap News Agency (2/18/2009)
    3. State Department Says Nuclear-Free Korea Remains U.S. Goal, VOA News (2/18/2009)
    4. NKorea Running Secret Nuclear Plant: Report, Agence France-Presse (2/17/2009)
B.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Six-Way Meeting on Peace Regime Opens in Moscow, Yonhap News Agency (2/19/2009)
    2. Moscow: Iran Key to US-Russia Rapprochement, PressTV (2/17/2009)
C.  Iran
    1. Iran Urges Global Nuclear Disarmament, Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters (2/19/2009)
    2. Iran Cooperation Poor, But Slows Nuclear Growth-IAEA, Francois Murphy, Reuters (2/18/2009)
    3. Israel Launches Covert War Against Iran, Philip Sherwell, The Telegraph (2/16/2009)
D.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Russia Could Spend $7 bln on Turkish Nuclear Plants, Alfred Kueppers, Reuters (2/19/2009)
    2. China Eyes Independent Nuclear Power Development, Zhang Xiang, China View (2/18/2009)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Vietnam Speeds Up Preparation for 1st Nuclear Power Plant, China View (2/19/2009)
    2. Kuwait Eyes Nuclear Power with French Help, Eman Goma, Reuters (2/18/2009)
    3. Yushchenko: Ukraine Planning to Extend Terms of Operation of Nuclear Reactors, Kyiv Post (2/18/2009)
F.  Nuclear Terrorism
    1. Indian Navy Warns of Nuke Threat From Sea, Starts Building New Aircraft Carrier, Wu Qiang, China View (2/18/2009)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA (2/19/2009)
    2. Global Threat Reduction Programme: Sixth Annual Progress Report 2008, Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (2/12/2009)


First Nonproliferation, Then Denuclearization
Jeong Jae Sung
The Daily North Korean
(for personal use only)

From the beginning of the Obama administration, and with Hillary Clinton’s arrival in the region, the North Korean “denuclearization issue” has at last been cast into the spotlight. Various proposals have been made as to what should be done next, such as “acknowledging the North as a nuclear state,” “the U.S. simply losing interest in the nuclear issue,” and “focusing on nonproliferation rather than nuclear abandonment.”

At an academic conference sponsored by the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) titled “The Direction for Resolving the North Korea Nuclear Issue and the Forecast for Change in the North Korean Regime,” which was held at Seoul Plaza Hotel on the 18th, the indications of change in the U.S.’ North Korea policy were discussed.

Cho Min, Chief of the Unification Policy Research Center in KINU, predicts that, “Achieving complete North Korean nuclear abandonment and reaching an agreement to normalize U.S.-North Korea relations will be difficult. So the U.S. will probably first focus on nonproliferation, and then will approach North Korea’s nuclear issue with denuclearization as the long-term goal.”

He stated, “North Korea will capture the U.S.’ attention by promising ‘we will not produce further nuclear weapons in the future,’ because North Korea knows the U.S.’ utmost concern is nonproliferation. It will also most likely take the stance of wanting acknowledgment for nuclear materials and weapons which have been produced already.”

He then forecasted, “The Obama administration will ultimately pursue a policy of ‘first nonproliferation, then denuclearization.' North Korea will also take the position of being verified after nuclear disarmament through a mixture of long-term and step-by-step tactics.

He added, “It is highly possible that the U.S. will approach the North Korean nuclear issue in order, starting from the nonproliferation issue, through nuclear reduction (with the U.S. and Russia,) and then to nuclear abandonment in the long run. The U.S. and North Korea will accordingly reach an agreement on nonproliferation, try to reduce nuclear weapon numbers and seek a realistic compromise of heading towards eventual denuclearization.”

He also maintained that the North, whose goal, he believes, is to earn recognition as a nuclear power by waiting and sitting on the fence of the dynamic relations surrounding the Korean peninsula, and the U.S., which wants a nuclear-free world, has no other choice but to try to seek a happy medium.

According to Jeon Bong Geun, a Professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs & National Security, “North Korea should be considered an ‘illicit nuclear-power country. While the Bush administration mostly took an interest in North Korea’s nuclear abandonment, the Obama administration has been approaching the issue by listening to what the North’s demands are.”

Professor Jeon elaborated, “Starting from the reality of the North’s nuclear capability, the emphasis should be put on working towards improving U.S.-North Korea relations and establishing a peace regime.”

Meanwhile, Hideaki Mizukoshi, Minister for Japan in South Korea, insists, “Only by linking the nuclear issue to the missiles and the human rights issues in general can the Northeast Asia region head towards genuine peace. The U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliance should be strengthened so that the nuclear issue can be resolved.”

In particular, Minister Mizukoshi added, “North Korea is trying to divide the U.S., Japan, and South Korea. The latter three nations should adjust their policies on North Korea and hold a consistent position in the case of the North continuing to demand compromise in defiance of agreements.”

Regarding whether or not to acknowledge North Korea as a “nuclear country,” Cho said, “The reality of possessing nuclear weapons and acknowledging them are different things. International society, including the U.S., does not recognize the North’s nuclear status. Were they to do so, the North’s bargaining power would only be raised and would aid their negotiating potential.”

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Obama Not to Accept N. Korea's Nuclear Status: Ex-Envoy
Kim Hyun
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

The new U.S. administration will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state, but will instead push stalled negotiations forward through tough, experienced officials, a former envoy to South Korea said Wednesday.

North Korea has sought to establish itself as a nuclear weapons state since conducting its first atomic weapon test in 2006.

"We don't know whether they are actually weaponized devices," Thomas Hubbard said in a Seoul forum, "What we do know for sure is that we will not recognize North Korea's nuclear power."

Hubbard, who was the U.S. ambassador to South Korea from 2001-2004 under the Bush administration, and who advised the Obama campaign on North Korea, said the new administration will seek both direct and multilateral talks with Pyongyang in a break from Bush's approach.

"I think the Obama policy will be quite different from Bush policy," he said, recalling the day in 2002 when Bush called North Korea part of an "axis of evil" as "the worst day of my 40-year professional career."

"I'm also impressed with the lineup of senior officials selected by the Obama administration to deal with North Korea," he said in the forum titled "Directions to Resolve the North Korean Nuclear Issue and Prospects for Changes in North Korea."

Stephen Bosworth, a former ambassador to Seoul reportedly named as chief U.S. envoy on North Korea, is "a tough negotiator with deep experience" who will engage Pyongyang, but never "cozy up" to its claim of nuclear-armed status, he said.

"They will make negotiations work," he said, "I don't see any John Bolton in this (line-up)." Bolton, a former U.S. envoy to the United Nations, was a vocal critic of engagement on Pyongyang.

North Korea has been dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex north of Pyongyang under an aid-for-denuclearization accord reached in 2007 with the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. The six-party negotiations are now on hold, with the Obama administration yet to roll out its North Korea policy.

In future negotiations, North Korea is expected to seek nuclear status by offering to give up further arms development, a strategy tailored to the new U.S. administration focused on non-proliferation, a Seoul expert said.

Cho Min, an analyst with the Korea Institute for National Unification, a Seoul-based state-run think tank, said Pyongyang has demonstrated it will give up "future nuclear weapons" by starting to disable the Yongbyon complex, but has deliberately left unclear its position on several atomic weapons it is believed to have already developed.

"On condition that it will observe 'non-proliferation,' which is the biggest concern of the new U.S. government, it will try to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state," he said.

In a message apparently intended for Obama, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 17 that it will retain its nuclear weapons even after relations with Washington are normalized. Pyongyang demanded the U.S. remove what it described as nuclear threats against it, referring to U.S. military forces stationed in South Korea that provide a nuclear umbrella for Seoul.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in the South as a deterrent against Pyongyang's aggression, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. South Korea and the U.S. will hold their joint annual war exercise next month.

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State Department Says Nuclear-Free Korea Remains U.S. Goal
VOA News
(for personal use only)

The State Department said Tuesday the complete dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program remains the goal of the Chinese-led six-party negotiations with Pyongyang. The comment followed an assertion by a leading U.S. academic that North Korea appears determined to retain a small arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The State Department says while the Obama administration is reviewing all aspects of U.S. policy toward North Korea, it has not changed the ultimate objective of achieving a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.

The comments here came in response to a published assertion by U.S. Asia scholar Selig Harrison that North Korea appears adamant in holding on to the small arsenal of nuclear weapons it is understood to have produced in recent years, and is unlikely to be willing to negotiate anything other than a cap on its weapons holdings.

Harrison, a former Washington Post Asia correspondent and now a scholar with the Washington-based Center for International Policy, said in a Washington Post column Tuesday that he visited North Korea last month and found a hardening of policy there - apparently related to the reported illness of the country's leader, Kim Jong-il. Harrison said he was told by North Korean officials the communist state was ready to rule out building additional weapons, but that relinquishing already-weaponized nuclear material would depend on how Pyongyang's relationship with Washington evolved - a seeming roll-back from its 2005 agreement-in-principle to disarm in return for various benefits.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Gordon Duguid said the desired "end state" of the six-party negotiations continues to be a nuclear-free Korea. "Any move to change the six-party process, or not to live up to the commitments to the six-party talks, of course would be of concern," he said. "However, the North Koreans have agreed, have made commitments to the international community and particularly to the members of the six-party talks, to carry our certain functions, certain activities that will provide the actions-for-action moves that we will take. So they should focus on those commitments that they have made rather than statements that are not particularly helpful."

North Korea agreed in principle to ultimately scrap its nuclear program including weapons in return for energy aid and diplomatic benefits from the other parties to the Chinese-led talks, which include South Korea, Japan and Russia in addition to North Korea, the United States and host China.

The negotiations have been stalled for several months over Pyongyang's refusal to accept a verification plan for the declaration of its nuclear assets and activities it made last June.

The nuclear talks have been a key issue in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Japan, which ends Wednesday. She has said in Tokyo the United States expects North Korea to fulfill its obligations, and that reported plans by Pyongyang to test a long-range missile would be "very unhelpful."

Asia scholar Harrison said in his commentary Tuesday that the hard-line stance he encountered in Pyongyang suggests the United States might have to accept the idea of a nuclear North Korea and formulate policy accordingly.

A senior official here said while Harrison is a private citizen, North Korea has used him as a conduit for relaying official views before and that he expects him to be in touch with State Department officials on his latest trip.

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NKorea Running Secret Nuclear Plant: Report
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

North Korea is operating a secret underground plant to make nuclear bombs from highly enriched uranium (HEU) despite denying that such a programme exists, a South Korean newspaper said Wednesday.

Dong-A Ilbo, quoting an unnamed senior government source, said South Korea and the United States have shared intelligence on the plant in Yongbyon district.

Seoul's National Intelligence Service refused comment on the report.

"Despite North Korea's denial that uranium enrichment programmes exist, South Korea and the United States have shared information that North Korea has built an uranium enrichment plant which is in operation," the source told Dong-A.

Dong-A said both countries believe the facility can produce HEU for nuclear bombs. It said the plant is located at Sowi-ri in Yongbyon, North Pyongan Province, where the North's plutonium-based nuclear complex is situated.

The source was quoted as declining to give further details such as the technological level and the output of highly enriched uranium.

The North in 1994 signed a deal with the United States to shut down its admitted plutonium-producing reactor complex at Yongbyon in return for various incentives.

Washington's claims in 2002 of a secret HEU programme torpedoed the 1994 deal and sparked a new nuclear crisis. Pyongyang rejected the US allegations and restarted its reactor in protest.

A fresh round of nuclear disarmament talks began in 2003, involving both Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia. The talks focused on more pressing concerns about the plutonium programme, which fuelled a 2006 atomic bomb test.

Yongbyon has been shut down in return for energy aid as part of a 2007 pact. But talks on the next stage -- full denuclearisation in return for diplomatic ties with Washington and a formal peace pact -- are stalled by disputes over verifying the North's acknowledged nuclear activities.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visits Seoul on Thursday and Friday, told a Senate confirmation hearing last month Washington is still concerned about the HEU programme.

"Our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear programme -- both the plutonium reprocessing programme and the highly enriched uranium programme, which there is reason to believe exists, although never quite verified," she said.

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B.  Nuclear Cooperation

Six-Way Meeting on Peace Regime Opens in Moscow
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea and its five dialogue partners in the often troubled nuclear talks began a two-day meeting of working-level officials in Moscow to discuss peace and security in Northeast Asia.

The third working group meeting on the Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism is to explore detailed ways to bring lasting peace to the region. Russia has already presented a second draft of guiding principles, organizers said.

"A draft of the guiding principles of peace was drawn up as the first step in forming this mechanism. It was dispatched to all the participants in the 'sextet,'" Grigory Loginov, the ambassador at large at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Russia's news agency, Itar-Tass.

Russia chairs the forum in the framework of the broader six-party talks also involving the U.S., China, Japan, and the two Koreas. 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 sets the stage for the first government-level contact since U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration among the six nations.

Delegates expect no immediate tangible outcome from the meeting, as the six-way talks among higher-level envoys remain stalled over how to inspect North Korea's nuclear facilities in an effort to verify its nuclear declaration submitted in June last year.

South Korea is represented by Hur Chul, director general of the foreign ministry's Korean Peninsula peace regime bureau.

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Moscow: Iran Key to US-Russia Rapprochement
(for personal use only)

Moscow says Washington should end the standoff over Iran's nuclear case in order to win support for its controversial missile plans.

The Kremlin moved to set new conditions for the Obama administration on Monday, saying the White House should withdraw its accusations against Iran as the first step towards negotiating the deployment of a comprehensive missile system in Europe.

Washington has disseminated the idea that Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is secretly fostering a military nuclear program.

Iran, however, says it enriches uranium for civilian applications and that it has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said on Monday that missile talks with Washington hinges on whether it agrees to rectify its intransigent stance on Iran's nuclear program and help restore international confidences in the Islamic Republic.

"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.

The Russian official affirmed that under no circumstances would his country agree to toughen its approach vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear activities.

In recent weeks, the White House has strived to clinch a deal with Russia regarding a bid to station 10 silo-based missiles in Poland and a missile-tracking radar in the Czech Republic.

Moscow has sorely opposed the Bush-era missile plan, threatening to install short-range Iskander-M missiles in Kaliningrad -- a small strategic enclave near Poland - in response.

A senior US official speaking on condition of anonymity said on Saturday that Washington would slow down its missile plans on the condition that Moscow joins the White House in pressuring Tehran over its nuclear activities.

The offer, however, received a rather chilly reception from senior Russian officials. "The Kremlin sees no reason to change its policy toward Iran," Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexei Borodavkin, was quoted as saying on Sunday.

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C.  Iran

Iran Urges Global Nuclear Disarmament
Stephanie Nebehay
(for personal use only)

Iran called Thursday for global negotiations aimed at total nuclear disarmament, saying that the elimination of atomic weapons was the only guarantee against their use or threatened use.

Alireza Moaiyeri, Iranian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, addressed the Conference on Disarmament shortly before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was expected to issue its latest watchdog report on Iran.

Western powers suspect Iran is secretly trying to develop the capacity to make atomic bombs. Iran says its uranium enrichment program is only to meet growing electricity needs.

"The existence of nuclear weapons simply means that all states will continue to live with a permanent sense of insecurity," Moaiyeri told the Conference on Disarmament (CD).

"Along that line, the primary goal for the CD should be to remove this source of insecurity and to establish a world free of nuclear weapons."

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said in Paris on Tuesday that Iran was still not helping U.N. inspectors find whether it worked on developing an atom bomb in the past but that Tehran had slowed its expansion of a key nuclear facility.

ElBaradei's remarks suggested that progress on installing more centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment site was much slower than had been expected.

Moaiyeri said Tehran supported the start of talks on a fissile material "cut-off" treaty to ban production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium used for making nuclear bombs.

The pact should cover existing stocks of fissile material as well as future production, according to its envoy.

Iran also backed negotiations on preventing an arms race in outer space and on a legally binding instrument to provide security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states, he said.

The Geneva disarmament forum has failed to reach consensus needed to launch talks on any issue since clinching global pacts banning chemical weapons and underground nuclear explosions in the 1990s.

Diplomats hope the new U.S. administration will offer initiatives to revive the conference, given President Barack Obama's public commitment to furthering nuclear disarmament.

The CD's 65 members include the five official nuclear weapon powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- as well as nuclear-capable India, Pakistan and Israel, which is widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arms.

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Iran Cooperation Poor, But Slows Nuclear Growth-IAEA
Francois Murphy
(for personal use only)

Iran is still not helping U.N. nuclear inspectors find out whether it worked on developing an atom bomb in the past but Tehran has slowed its expansion of a key nuclear facility, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Paris, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had not been installing a significant number of centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, as quickly as it could have been.

"They haven't really been adding centrifuges, which is a good thing," ElBaradei said at a think-tank in Paris, adding: "Our assessment is that it's a political decision".

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for failing to suspend enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for power plants or, potentially, bombs.

Major powers and ElBaradei suspect Iran is trying to develop the capacity to make nuclear weapons. Iran says it only wants to master atomic technology to meet its growing electricity needs.

In its last report on Iran in November, the IAEA said Tehran planned to start installing another 3,000 centrifuges early this year, adding to 3,800 already enriching uranium and another 2,200 being gradually introduced.

ElBaradei's comments, made two days before his next report on Iran is due to be issued, suggested that progress on installing more centrifuges at Iran's Natanz enrichment site was much slower than had been expected.

"Natanz is supposed to have 50,000 centrifuges. Right now they have 5,000," he said, adding that Iran had not added a "significant" number of centrifuges.


Iran had allowed access to nuclear sites to monitor activity there, but ElBaradei criticised Iran for its continued failure to cooperate with an IAEA probe aimed at clearing up the true nature of Iran's past nuclear work.

Various suspicious materials have been uncovered in more than five years of inspections, including a document showing how to craft uranium metal into hemispheres, which could only be used to make weapons. Iran says it never used the plan.

"No, I'm not obviously happy with the degree of cooperation ... They shut off any cooperation with the agency over the past few months," said ElBaradei, who has for years called on Iran to do more to help his agency's investigations.

"Iran right now is not providing any access or any clarification with regard to those studies or the whole possible military dimension," he added.

ElBaradei played down fears of an imminent Iranian bomb.

"They will have probably in a year or so enough low enriched uranium which, if converted to highly enriched uranium, and if they have the know-how to weaponise it and to deliver it, then they can have one nuclear weapon," he said.

But many other steps would have to be taken to produce a wepaon, such as walking out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, expelling U.N. nuclear inspectors and mastering the technology to produce a nuclear explosion, he said.

"If I go by the intelligence comunity in the U.S., they are saying that they still have 2-5 years to be able to do that -- to develop a weapon -- which to me means that we have at least enough time for diplomacy," he said.

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Israel Launches Covert War Against Iran
Philip Sherwell
The Telegraph
(for personal use only)

Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran's nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed.

It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime's illicit weapons project, the experts say.

The most dramatic element of the "decapitation" programme is the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran's atomic operations.

Despite fears in Israel and the US that Iran is approaching the point of no return in its ability to build atom bomb, Israeli officials are aware of the change in mood in Washington since President Barack Obama took office.

They privately acknowledge the new US administration is unlikely to sanction an air attack on Iran's nuclear installations and Mr Obama's offer to extend a hand of peace to Tehran puts any direct military action beyond reach for now.

The aim is to slow down or interrupt Iran's research programme, without the gamble of a direct confrontation that could lead to a wider war.

A former CIA officer on Iran told The Daily Telegraph: "Disruption is designed to slow progress on the programme, done in such a way that they don't realise what's happening. You are never going to stop it.

"The goal is delay, delay, delay until you can come up with some other solution or approach. We certainly don't want the current Iranian government to have those weapons. It's a good policy, short of taking them out militarily, which probably carries unacceptable risks."

Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst with Stratfor, the US private intelligence company with strong government security connections, said the strategy was to take out key people.

"With co-operation from the United States, Israeli covert operations have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the nuclear programme and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply chain," she said.

"As US-Israeli relations are bound to come under strain over the Obama administration's outreach to Iran, and as the political atmosphere grows in complexity, an intensification of Israeli covert activity against Iran is likely to result."

Mossad was rumoured to be behind the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a top nuclear scientist at Iran's Isfahan uranium plant, who died in mysterious circumstances from reported "gas poisoning" in 2007.

Other recent deaths of important figures in the procurement and enrichment process in Iran and Europe have been the result of Israeli "hits", intended to deprive Tehran of key technical skills at the head of the programme, according to Western intelligence analysts.

"Israel has shown no hesitation in assassinating weapons scientists for hostile regimes in the past," said a European intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. They did it with Iraq and they will do it with Iran when they can."

Mossad's covert operations cover a range of activities. The former CIA operative revealed how Israeli and US intelligence co-operated with European companies working in Iran to obtain photographs and other confidential material about Iranian nuclear and missile sites.

"It was a real company that operated from time to time in Iran and in the nature of their legitimate business came across information on various suspect Iranian facilities," he said.

Israel has also used front companies to infiltrate the Iranian purchasing network that the clerical regime uses to circumvent United Nations sanctions and obtain so-called "dual use" items – metals, valves, electronics, machinery – for its nuclear programme.

The businesses initially supply Iran with legitimate material, winning Tehran's trust, and then start to deliver faulty or defective items that "poison" the country's atomic activities.

"Without military strikes, there is still considerable scope for disrupting and damaging the Iranian programme and this has been done with some success," said Yossi Melman, a prominent Israeli journalist who covers security and intelligence issues for the Haaretz newspaper.

Mossad and Western intelligence operations have also infiltrated the Iranian nuclear programme and "bought" information from prominent atomic scientists. Israel has later selectively leaked some details to its allies, the media and United Nations atomic agency inspectors.

On one occasion, Iran itself is understood to have destroyed a nuclear facility near Tehran, bulldozing over the remains and replacing it with a football pitch, after its existence was revealed to UN inspectors. The regime feared that the discovery by inspectors of an undeclared nuclear facility would result in overwhelming pressure at the UN for tougher action against Iran.

The Iranian government has become so concerned about penetration of its programme that it has announced arrests of alleged spies in an attempt to discourage double agents. "Israel is part of a detailed and elaborate international effort to slow down the Iranian programme," said Mr Melman.

But Vince Canastraro, the former CIA counter-terrorism chief, expressed doubts about the efficacy of secret Israeli operations against Iran. "You cannot carry out foreign policy objectives via covert operations," he said. "You can't get rid of a couple of people and hope to affect Iran's nuclear capability."

Iran has consistently asserted that it is pursuing a nuclear capability for civilian energy generation purposes. But Israeli and Western intelligence agencies believe the 20-year-old programme, which was a secret until 2002, is designed to give the ruling mullahs an atom bomb.

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D.  Nuclear Industry

Russia Could Spend $7 bln on Turkish Nuclear Plants
Alfred Kueppers
(for personal use only)

Russia's energy minister said on Thursday that a state-backed consortium could spend up to $7 billion on a project to build four nuclear reactors in Turkey, whose total cost is $18-20 billion.

Speaking on the sidelines of an energy conference, Minister Sergie Shmatko said a consortium led by state nuclear engineering firm Atomstroyexport and electricity trader Inter RAO (IRAO.MM) have submitted a letter of intent to participate in the Turkish government tender.

The consortium is also to include a Turkish minority partner that Shmatko identified as Chinar Group.

"We have to provide 30-35 percent of the funds from our own resources, and we will need to obtain the rest on the market," Shmatko said.

The Turkish government does not intend to provide any of the funding, he said.

Shmatko added that the four reactors would each have a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, and that the consortium could receive about $60 billion by supplying more than 400 billion kilowatt hours of power over 15 years.

Ankara is seeking to develop a nuclear power industry in order to reduce its reliance on foreign energy imports and boost capacity to meet growing demand. It wants atomic energy to cover 20 percent of the nation's electricity needs by 2030.

Shmatko said Turkey wants ultimately to build at least 25 nuclear reactors.

Atomstroiexport and partners Inter Rao and Park Teknik were the only bidders in a September tender for Turkey's first licence to build a nuclear power plant that could cost as much as $8 billion.

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China Eyes Independent Nuclear Power Development
Zhang Xiang
China View
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China can rely on and will promote the use of its own technologies in developing nuclear power projects, a senior energy official said Wednesday.

The proportion of domestic technologies and equipment used in the country's nuclear power projects should be required to reach a certain level, said Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration (NEA), at an NEA work conference here Wednesday.

He gave no details on what level would be appropriate, saying the use of independent technologies should be a "significant factor" to be considered in the planning, appraisal and approval of nuclear power projects.

China has 11 nuclear power reactors in operation, all using second generation technologies comprising mainly pressurized water reactors, but also including boiling and heavy water reactors. Three of these use domestic technologies, four use French designs, two use Canadian designs and the other two Russian.

The country has another 22 nuclear reactors under construction and 20 of them apply CPR-1000, the China-developed second-generation technology.

"China has made major breakthroughs in the research and development of some key nuclear power equipment," said Zhang. "The country can fully rely on its own technologies to support nuclear power development in the next two to three decades."

The third-generation technology, which uses light water reactors, is the latest and is considered safer and more efficient than previous designs.

Four nuclear power reactors in China, whose construction is scheduled to begin in 2009 and 2010, will use the third-generation technology designed by the U.S. firm Westinghouse.

China has highlighted technological innovation as a way of improving its industrial competitiveness and boosting the economy in the face of the global financial crisis.

The State Council, or the Cabinet, unveiled a support plan for machinery manufacturing industries early this month, encouraging the use of self-developed key technologies and equipment in major projects.

Zhang told the meeting that developing nuclear power is crucial to adjusting China's energy structure, saying advancing the development and use of independent technologies will significantly serve that purpose.

About 70 percent of China's electricity comes from thermal power stations. Coal burning has become a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The government has set a target for installed nuclear power capacity of 40 million kilowatts by 2020, which will need an estimated investment of 450 billion yuan (66.2 billion U.S. dollars).

The capacity totals 9.1 million kilowatts at present, or 1.1 percent of the country's total installed electricity generation capacity.

"We'll further adjust our plan to develop nuclear power and strive for a quite big increase in the share of nuclear power generation," said Zhang, without giving details. Last year, he told Xinhua that the installed nuclear power capacity could reach 60 million kilowatts by 2020.

Meanwhile, industry insiders say the absence of a standard system for domestic nuclear power equipment and a lack of funds is hampering China's bid to support home-developed technologies.

"The lack of a technical standard system will hinder the promotion of domestic nuclear power equipment and raw materials," said Zheng Dongshan, vice president of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group.

Zhang said the government aimed to establish a standard system for nuclear power technologies and equipment within five years.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Vietnam Speeds Up Preparation for 1st Nuclear Power Plant
China View
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Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission (VAEC)'s director Vuong Huu Tan said that Vietnam is speeding up progress to appraise of the investment report, the Vietnamese online newspaper reported on Thursday.

The report will be submitted to the National Assembly for approval in April, said Tan. The investment project will be designed following the approval of the investment report.

Tan said Vietnam is eying Westinghouse, one of the world's top technology providers, as its potential partner. Vietnam will also consider other partners.

Vietnam, however, is facing a number of difficulties regarding human and finance resources, said Tan.

Vietnam's first nuclear plant is planned to be built in the southern province Ninh Thuan, with a combined capacity of 4,000 megawatts and total investment of about nine billion U.S. dollars.

The construction of the plant is expected to begin before 2015 and put into operation by 2020. It is expected to produce nuclear electricity accounting for 15 to 20 percent of the country's total power output. 

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Kuwait Eyes Nuclear Power with French Help
Eman Goma
(for personal use only)

Kuwait is considering developing nuclear power with the help of a French firm to meet demand for electricity and water desalination, the country's ruler said in remarks published on Wednesday.

"A French firm is studying the issue," daily al-Watan quoted Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah as saying, adding that the oil-rich Gulf Arab state would only put nuclear power to civilian use and according to international laws.

Nuclear power would "save a lot of wasted fuel in electricity and water desalination plants", he said, giving no further details. The emir did not specifically refer to any French firm in his published remarks.

The comments came a week after a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Kuwait and a month after the United States signed a nuclear cooperation deal with the United Arab Emirates.

Iran, just across the Gulf from Kuwait, is facing international pressure to halt a nuclear enrichment programme it says is purely civilian but which the United States believes is aimed at developing an atom bomb.

Power demand has prompted the six U.S.-allied Arab members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to consider nuclear energy.

The UAE has also signed a nuclear cooperation deals with France, and pledged to work with the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA.

In January 2008, France's Total (TOTF.PA), Suez (LYOE.PA), and Areva (CEPFi.PA) said they would develop two nuclear reactors in the UAE with a possible start date of 2016. But according to Total's website no proposal has been made yet and no agenda approved by the UAE government. Kuwait, an OPEC oil exporter, is facing rising energy demands and has experienced power cuts in the past, especially during the hot summer months when air conditioning use rises.

It has said it is also building facilities to import liquefied natural gas from Qatar beginning in 2009 and is also considering importing gas from Iraq and Iran.

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Yushchenko: Ukraine Planning to Extend Terms of Operation of Nuclear Reactors
Kyiv Post
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It is possible to extend the terms of operation of Ukrainian nuclear reactors under a new technological policy, President Viktor Yushchenko has said.

"In order to ensure the effective operation of nuclear power generation, as well as the formation of an effective security policy and timely modernization, we raise the question of extending the terms of operation of [Ukraine's] nuclear reactors. This could be possible only through the use of a new technological policy," his press service quoted him as saying at a press conference in the town of Netishyn, Khmelnytsky region, while commenting on the results of a nuclear security council in Khmelnytsky region.

Yushchenko said that this would require financial expenditure. In this context, he stressed the need to review tariff policy.

"The tariff policy should be seriously improved," he said, adding that there are many options to prevent a rise in tariffs for the population.

The head of state said that the development of nuclear energy is a key issue in ensuring the country's energy security. Thus, Yuschenko said that nuclear energy should become an effective source of power for the national economy and ensure that traditionally imported energy resources are saved.

Yushchenko said that the development of the nuclear complex should be thoroughly discussed at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council.

Speaking of the outcome of the council at Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plant, he said that the discussions concerned ways to implement the country's energy strategy until 2030. He said that the participants in the council discussed whether this strategy should be revised.

"The No. 1 issue during this council was the removal of the security deficit existing on particular nuclear energy projects," he said.

Particular attention during the meeting was paid to the problems of handling spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.

"We should give a very clear answer to the way we ensure the proper storage of spent nuclear fuel, the disposal of [nuclear] waste, or the way we take a decision under the current scheme when spent nuclear fuel is sent to Russia and will be returned to Ukraine from 2013," Yushchenko said, adding that this problem has to be resolved quickly.

He said that the issue concerned a centralized storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, which should be set up after a number of respective laws are passed.

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F.  Nuclear Terrorism

Indian Navy Warns of Nuke Threat From Sea, Starts Building New Aircraft Carrier
Wu Qiang
China View
(for personal use only)

Indian Navy Wednesday warned of a potential nuclear threat from the sea route in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks which exposed the vulnerability of the country's coastline last November.

Indian Navy chief Admiral Suresh Mehta also confirmed that India will start building a second aircraft carrier at the end of this month with its homemade technology, equipment and materials.

At the inauguration of a seminar organized by the National Maritime Foundation in the capital of New Delhi on Wednesday, Admiral Mehta said, "Nuclear weapons may be smuggled into India in a cargo container."

"Today, 70-75 percent of global cargo is containerized. It is acknowledged that the container is the most likely means for terrorist organizations to illegally transport a nuclear weapon and, hence, there is a serious concern about container security," Admiral Mehta said.

He also asked for more stringent measures to scan thoroughly all the containers coming into India to ensure 100 percent security.

"Container is the most likely means for the terrorist organizations for illegal transporting of nuclear weapons", he said.

Ten terrorists used sea route to stage a high-profile attack upon Mumbai last November, killing at least 173 and wounding over 300.

The navy chief also called for closer coordination among the country's navy, coast guard and port authorities, such as setting up "control rooms" in the eastern and western naval commands.

"These (control rooms) are the measures we propose for greater coordination that a joint operation center functions from eastern and western command," he said.

The Indian government has recently decided to establish a coast command to strengthen what it called "grassroot" security at the country's long coastlines.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy chief confirmed news reports on Wednesday that the country will formally lay the keel of a homemade aircraft carrier at the end of this month.

India's first indigenous aircraft carrier will be in the waters by 2011 after a two-year construction, Admiral Mehta said.

"Our indigenous aircraft carrier is being constructed in Kochi (southern India). It has been three years since the work started. On Feb. 28, what we call keel laying of the carrier will take place," he said.

Local daily The Tribune reported on Wednesday that the 40,000-ton displacement vessel will be several times the capacity of naval worships that India has built so far.

"And with this, India will join a select band of NATO countries and Russia, which possesses the capability to build aircraft carrier," said the news report.

The navy chief said the building of a ship can be divided into seven phases: design, construction planning, work prior to keel laying, ship erection, launching, final outfitting, and sea trials.

He said many of the parts of the aircraft carrier have already been constructed and his estimation is that "it should be in the water in two years" with an estimated cost of 30 billion rupees (620 million U.S. dollars).

The Indian Navy has only one aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat.

The Indian military expects to have three aircraft carriers by 2015 to own a true blue water navy.

The Tribune said the carrier will have a crew of 1,400 officers and sailors and carry 30 aircraft in a mix of the MiG-29K, the Dhruv advanced light helicopter and the Kamov-31 Helix anti-submarine warfare helicopter.

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G.  Links of Interest

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1835 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Mohamed ElBaradei
(for personal use only)

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Global Threat Reduction Programme: Sixth Annual Progress Report 2008
Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
(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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