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Nuclear News - 3/31/2009
PGS Nuclear News, March 31, 2009
Compiled By: Helene Picart

    1. UN Offers Aid for Bolivia to Exploit Uranium, Wang Guanqun, China View (3/28/2009)
    2. Nuclear Security Fund Receives Key Financial Support, IAEA (3/27/2009)
    3. Vote Impasse Reopens Race to Head U.N. Atom Watchdog, Mark Heinrich and Sylvia Westall, Reuters (3/27/2009)
    1. Expert: NKorea Has Several Nuclear Warheads, Kim Hyung-Jin, Associated Press (3/31/2009)
    2. N. Korea Warns Seoul not to Participate in Proliferation Initiative, Yonhap News Agency (3/30/2009)
    3. US, SKorea, Japan Coordinate on NKorea Launch, Agence France-Presse (3/30/2009)
    4. N. Korea Warns Any U.N. Action Will Rupture Six-Party Talks, Kim Hyun, Yonhap News Agency (3/26/2009)
C.  Iran
    1. Iran Nuke 'a Couple of Years' Away: Petraeus, Agence France-Presse (3/30/2009)
    2. Pentagon Chief Favors Sanctions to Press Iran, Anthony Boadle, Reuters (3/29/2009)
    3. Ryabkov: No Reason for Preventing Iran’s Peaceful Nuclear Activities, Islamic Republic News Agency (3/28/2009)
D.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Economic Crisis, Nuke Proliferation to Top Obama-Singh Talks, Business Standard (3/31/2009)
    2. South Africa, China Join Forces in Commercialisation of Pebble Bed Nuclear Technology, PennEnergy (3/30/2009)
    3. Hitting Reset: US, Russia Face Tough Nuclear Talks, Mike Eckel, Associated Press (3/29/2009)
    4. RF not to Trade Off ABM Problem With Iran Nuclear Program - Medvedev, ITAR-TASS (3/29/2009)
E.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Commercial Arm of Atomic Energy Agency to Be Sold, Frank Prenesti, Reuters (3/30/2009)
    2. Toshiba Said to Buy Majority Stake in Nuclear Fuel Company, Megumi Yamanaka, Bloomberg (3/30/2009)
    3. Belgian Firm Appeals Nuclear Tax: Report (3/29/2009)
F.  Nuclear Energy
    1. China Energy Arm Plans to Up Nuclear Capacity, Agence France-Presse (3/30/2009)
G.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Emergency Ministry Expects to Begin Storing Radioactive Waste in Storage Facility at Chornobyl Nuclear Plant in June-August, Kyiv Post (3/27/2009)
H.  Links of Interest
    1. Cumbrian Lab Spearheads Nuclear Industry Change, The Whitehaven News (3/30/2009)
    2. The Nuclear Option: UK's Multibillion-Pound Renaissance Moves Up a Gear, Sarah Arnott, The Independent (3/25/2009)


UN Offers Aid for Bolivia to Exploit Uranium
Wang Guanqun
China View
(for personal use only)

The United Nations announced on Friday its disposition to cooperate with Bolivia on the exploration and exploitation of uranium mines.

The official in charge of the UN atomic energy program, Mohamed El-Baradei, said after a meeting with Bolivian President Evo Morales that apart from the exploration of uranium mines, the Bolivian government is also evaluating the UN aid programs of health, animals diseases, improvements of the agriculture production, sustainable use of the water resources.

El-Baradei said the meeting was positive and that the UN seeks to carry out projects of nuclear development in Bolivia, adding that they are programs of science and technology transfer.

Bolivia has uranium bed, but the government has classified the information as "reserved."

According to reports from the Canadian company Mega Uranium-Intrepid Mines, the uranium mine is situated in the plateau.

Meanwhile, the National Service of Geology and Mining (Sergeomin) identified 11 locations with uranium in natural state in the district of Cotaje between the towns of Huari in Oruro and Sevaruyo in the border area between both departments and Mulato River in Potosi.

But technical reports say that those are not uranium concentrated beds, but "small points"; and the amount of the reserves are unknown due to lack of investment in the quantification work.

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Nuclear Security Fund Receives Key Financial Support
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The UK is to double its contribution to the IAEA´s Nuclear Security Fund to £4 million (€4,33 million) from £2 million (€2,125 million) given in 2006. The Fund is a voluntary funding mechanism for Member States established to support the IAEA´s activities in nuclear security aimed at preventing, detecting and responding to nuclear terrorism.

Speaking to an international audience of diplomats and scientists convened in London for a conference on nuclear energy and proliferation, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the move as part of the country´s Global Threat Reduction Programme (GTRP) aimed at improving nuclear security around the world.

"In addition to the £270 million the UK has spent on global threat reduction projects since 2002, and a further £36.5m we will spend each year for the foreseeable future, we are doubling our contribution to the IAEA´s Nuclear Security Fund," he said.

Mr. Brown also spoke about the future role of the IAEA envisaging a substantial expansion of its remit as part of the global effort to reshape the international architecture that deals with proliferation. The changes would be significant.

"A central role in the security of fissile material, a clear and proactive mandate to inspect - with enhanced powers of inspection to cover not just civil programmes, but also eventually military programmes, more support and training for an inspectorate that will cover both the extension of civil nuclear power and the monitoring of abuses of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and binding guarantees about the safeguards in place," he said.

This will require new funds from the international community. "If the International Atomic Energy Agency is to play this enlarged and reformed role, its safeguards regime would also need to be further strengthened."

"The IAEA very much appreciates the contributions from the UK and other donors. A strong commitment to safety and security is indeed an indispensable enabler for nuclear technology and international cooperation. The IAEA welcomes the Prime Minister´s statement of support for the Agency´s efforts to improve nuclear security," said Deputy Director General Tomihiro Taniguchi, Head of the IAEA´s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

Nuclear Security Symposium

The IAEA is to host an International Symposium on Nuclear Security in Vienna from 30 March to 3 April 2009.

The event will provide policymakers and experts from more than 90 countries with the opportunity to determine how to best coordinate their efforts to improve nuclear security, manage radioactive sources, and combat nuclear terrorism.


Originally set up in 2002 for a period of three years, the IAEA´s Nuclear Security Fund was extended in September 2005 when the IAEA Board approved a new Nuclear Security Plan covering the period 2006-2009. Implementation of this plan has been almost wholly dependent on the donation of extra-budgetary contributions by Member States and others.

Safety programmes and the Safeguards Programme include activities that, whilst established to support safeguards and safety objectives, also support the objectives of the nuclear security programme. These programmes are largely funded by the IAEA Regular Budget and supported by other extra-budgetary contributions. Financial support from the Nuclear Security Fund is used to enhance or accelerate implementation of these activities for nuclear security purposes. The UK is the third largest contributor to the Fund after the USA and the European Union.

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Vote Impasse Reopens Race to Head U.N. Atom Watchdog
Mark Heinrich and Sylvia Westall
(for personal use only)

U.N. nuclear watchdog governors failed to agree on a successor to Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday after five rounds of voting, opening the field to new candidates who might bridge rich-poor divisions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency was keen to avoid a long delay installing a new chief as it confronts mounting challenges, including Iran's disputed pursuit of nuclear technology that could yield atomic bombs and a shortage of money needed to uphold its anti-proliferation mandate.

Yukiya Amano, 61, Japan's envoy to the IAEA, was the favorite but fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required in the final vote by the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors against South Africa's Abdul Samad Minty, 69.

Voting was split largely along rich and poor nation lines. Industrialized states backed Amano, developing states Minty.

"The slate of candidates is considered to have been wiped clean," Ambassador Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, chairman of the Vienna-based governing board, told reporters.

New contenders -- including some Latin Americans who may be waiting in the wings -- have 28 days from Monday to throw their hats in the ring, followed by another closed-door ballot in May.

A Japanese foreign ministry official told Japanese journalists Amano would re-enter the race. Minty said he would have consultations with supporters before deciding what to do.

ElBaradei, who leaves office in November after 12 years, said he hoped for a candidate with the support of all members. "I just hope that the agency has a candidate acceptable to all...north, south, east, west because that is what is needed."

ElBaradei, who shared the Nobel peace prize with his agency in 2005, had at times tense relations with Western powers, clashing with the Bush administration over what he saw as its aggressive approach to Iran.

His critics accused him of speaking outside of his remit and being soft on countries under agency inspection -- accusations he dismissed as political attacks on the IAEA's impartiality.


"A consensus candidate (is needed), someone who doesn't mark out clear differences like this ... between the developed and developing countries. Someone for both," Feroukhi told Reuters.

The IAEA's mandate is a politically tricky balancing act -- to catch secret nuclear bomb programs and to coordinate global cooperation in sharing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Diplomats said Amano and Minty failed to convince many they could bridge disputes between industrialized member states that already have nuclear energy and developing nations pressing for a share of it despite concerns about proliferation risks.

Minty voiced bitterness at Friday's outcome. "We were hopeful that those that advocated change and a relationship with the developing world based on trust and partnership would...have implemented these noble ideals, but sadly it appears as this has only remained as good intentions," he said in a statement.

With around half-a-dozen compromise candidates waiting in the wings, Feroukhi planned consultations to see if a consensus might emerge for one candidate

Possible fresh nominees included:

* Luis Echavarri, Spanish director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's nuclear energy agency.

* Rogelio Pfirter, Argentinean head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague and a seasoned former nuclear treaty negotiator.

* Milenko Skoknic, Chile's ambassador to the IAEA and Feroukhi's predecessor as board chairman.

IAEA officials hope a change in U.S. foreign policy under President Barack Obama might shore up their efforts to prevent the stealthy spread of nuclear weapons technology.

Obama has signaled readiness to talk without preconditions with Iran and Syria, both subject to IAEA investigations now at an impasse, and eventually double the agency's budget.

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Expert: NKorea Has Several Nuclear Warheads
Kim Hyung-Jin
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

North Korea is believed to have several nuclear warheads that could be mounted on a missile, an international security expert said Tuesday ahead of a rocket launch that regional powers suspect will test weapon delivery technology.

But Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based North Korea expert for the International Crisis Group, stressed it is unclear if the communist nation has mastered the technology necessary to miniaturize the warheads and put them on Rodong missiles, which have a range of 620 to 930 miles (1,000 to 1,500 kilometers). The North is believed to have five to eight warheads, he said.

The National Intelligence Service, South Korea's main spy agency, said it could not confirm Pinkston's remarks.

North Korea says it will send a communications satellite into orbit between April 4 and 8. The U.S., South Korea and Japan think the communist regime is using the launch to test long-range missile technology, and they warn Pyongyang would face sanctions under a U.N. Security Council resolution banning the country from ballistic activity.

Japan is particularly concerned because the North has designated a zone near Japan's northern coast where debris could fall. Tokyo has deployed battleships and Patriot missile interceptors to protect the area and Tokyo. The North reiterated Tuesday that any attack on its satellite would be an act of war; Japan has said it will only try to protect itself from debris if the launch fails.

"North Korea should listen to the international community, and we strongly urge the North to refrain from the launch," said a resolution passed unanimously in both houses of Japan's parliament. Prime Minister Taro Aso said Tokyo will take the issue to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment if the launch takes place.

"It would be crucial for the international community to make concerted action," Aso told a news conference.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency claimed Japan is trying to blow the rocket launch out of proportion to justify developing its own nuclear weapons program and divert attention from political problems.

If Japan tries to intercept the satellite, the North's army "will consider this as the start of Japan's war of re-invasion more than six decades after the Second World War and mercilessly destroy all its interceptor means and citadels with the most powerful military means," KCNA said.

China, North Korea's neighbor and often-estranged ally, continued to appeal for all the powers in the region to show restraint and "refrain from any action that would further complicate the situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing.

Pinkston said the communist nation has two underground nuclear warhead storage facilities near bases for its medium-range Rodong missiles, which are capable of striking Japan.

He said he obtained the information from intelligence officials from a country or countries that he wouldn't identify.

"Their assessment is that North Korea has deployed" and assembled "nuclear warheads for Rodong missiles," Pinkston told The Associated Press.

Kim Tae-woo, a missile expert at the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, said the North has been focusing on efforts to mount nuclear warheads on the Rodongs because the long-range Taepodong series has not been fully deployed yet.

"Rodong is the most likely weapon to be mounted with nuclear warheads," Kim said. He said it's also "natural" for the North to try to put a nuclear warhead on a missile with a longer range.

Two U.S. destroyers are believed to have departed from South Korea to monitor the rocket launch. South Korea is also dispatching its Aegis-equipped destroyer, according to a Seoul military official who asked not to be named, citing department policy.

Further fueling tensions, hundreds of U.S. and South Korean troops planned to conduct an air assault exercise Tuesday. Pyongyang has strongly condemned similar joint drills in the South as preparations to invade the North.

The two allies conducted large-scale annual exercises for 12 days in March, prompting angry reaction from Pyongyang, including threats to South Korean passenger planes and a repeated halts in cross-border traffic.

Adding to the complexity of the situation on the Korean peninsula, the North announced Tuesday that it will indict and try two American journalists accused of crossing the border illegally from China on March 17 and engaging in "hostile acts."

The North may try to use the detentions as a bargaining tool after the rocket launch, said Yang Moo-jin, an analyst at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

Separately, a South Korean worker was detained Monday at a joint industrial zone in the North for allegedly denouncing Pyongyang's political system and inciting North Korean workers to flee the communist country.

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N. Korea Warns Seoul not to Participate in Proliferation Initiative
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea said Monday it will take stern measures if South Korea participates in U.S.-led multilateral efforts to interdict the North's transfer of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, calling it a "declaration of war."

"If the South takes part in the multilateral operations, called the Proliferation Security Initiative, over our plan to launch a rocket, we will immediately take a stern countermeasure," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman, Moon Tae-young, indicated last week that the South could join the U.S.-led PSI if North Korea proceeds with its planned rocket launch in early April. Pyongyang says it is aiming to place a satellite in orbit, a claim Seoul and Washington dismiss as a cover for a ballistic missile test.

Last month, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said his country may now need to expand its participation in the PSI. "Under these circumstances, in which North Korea is developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, it is time for South Korea to reconsider its participation in the PSI," he said at a parliamentary hearing.

The North's statement also said Seoul's participation in the PSI would represent a "violent challenge to our dignity and autonomous rights and an unpardonable crime to lead the whole nation into a nuclear war."

South Korea will be forced to take responsibility for the consequences of its participation in the PSI, it said.

South Korea has participated in the PSI as an observer since 2005. Under the previous liberal administration of President Roh Moo-hyun, Seoul limited its role for fear of straining ties with North Korea, one of the initiative's prime targets.

The U.S. administration under Barack Obama said that it would seek to expand the PSI into a global campaign aimed at stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials worldwide.

The PSI, now with 93 member states, has been routinely criticized by Pyongyang as an example of Washington's hostile policy against North Korea.

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US, SKorea, Japan Coordinate on NKorea Launch
Agence France-Presse
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US, South Korean and Japanese envoys to the North Korean nuclear disarmament talks have discussed how to "maintain close coordination" if Pyongyang test fires a missile, an official said Monday.

US envoys Stephen Bosworth and Sung Kim each held separate meetings on Friday with their counterparts Wi Sung-lac of South Korea and Akitaka Saiki of Japan, according to Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman.

"The discussions were constructive and substantive," Duguid said.

"The parties discussed how to maintain close coordination in the event of needing to respond to a North Korean missile test, and how to improve the six-party process to move forward," Duguid said.

The remaining parties in the six-party disarmament negotiations are China and Russia.

Kim, the representative to the six-party disarmament talks, also hosted an informal trilateral meeting with his two counterparts on Friday, Duguid added.

Duguid had no further details on the talks involving Kim and Bosworth, who is the US representative on overall North Korea policy.

Global concern has been mounting about North Korea's announcement that it would launch a communications satellite between April 4 and 8.

The United States, Japan and other allies believe Pyongyang is actually testing a missile that could, in theory, reach across the Pacific to Alaska or Hawaii.

In Tokyo on Monday, Kyodo News reported that Rear Admiral James Kelly, the commander of the US Naval Forces in Japan, said that US forces in Japan were prepared.

"I wouldn't lose sleep at night. Japan is very safe," Kelly said at the US naval base of Yokosuka at the mouth of Tokyo Bay, Kyodo News reported. The US forces are "postured the right way" to respond to the launch, Kelly said.

In Washington on Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told US television that the United States would probably not shoot down the missile -- although it might reconsider if the rocket were headed for Hawaii.

Gates said the US government believed the launch was "intended as a mask for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile," but that this type of missile did not have the range to reach Alaska.

Duguid said a rocket launch is not only barred by UN Security Council resolution 1718 but preceding resolutions as well, but he had no details.

"There are precedent UN Security Council resolutions that also have stopped or called for North Korea to stop any ballistic missile development," he said.

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N. Korea Warns Any U.N. Action Will Rupture Six-Party Talks
Kim Hyun
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea warned Thursday that any U.N. action against its satellite launch will rupture the six-party denuclearization talks and prompt Pyongyang to reverse the disabling process of its key nuclear reactor.

Any action by the U.N. Security Council against the launch -- whether a presidential statement or even an attempt to consider it -- will be considered a "hostile act" that nullifies the meaning of the nuclear talks, a spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry said in an interview carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

The spokesman said he wanted to clear the air over a statement the North Korean foreign ministry issued Tuesday. The previous warning said the six-party talks will break down should the U.N. sanction it over its satellite launch.

"We would like to remind once again that there are not a few countries in the world that launched satellites but the UNSC has never dealt with nor taken issue with the satellite launches by other individual countries," the unnamed spokesman said.

"The UNSC's discussion on the DPRK's projected satellite launch for peaceful purposes itself, to say nothing of its adoption of any document containing even a single word critical of the launch whether in the form of a 'presidential statement' or a 'press statement,' will be regarded as a blatant hostile act against the DPRK," he said.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

The U.S., Japan and South Korea have threatened U.N. sanctions should the North go ahead with the launch, suspecting it is a cover for a long-range missile test. Nuclear envoys from the three countries are set to meet in Washington on Friday to coordinate their responses.

The "hostile act" will be a breach of a landmark agreement that the six nations -- the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia -- reached in 2005 in the spirit of mutual respect and equality, the spokesman said.

"The moment the September 19 joint statement is ignored due to such an act the six-party talks will come to an end," he said.

Also, the denuclearization process "will be brought back to what used to be before their start," he added.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb in 2006, began disabling its major nuclear facility in Yongbyon in late 2007, and the U.S. removed the North from its list of terrorism-sponsoring nations in October last year under the six-party framework aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear program. But the process stopped late last year due to a dispute over how to verify the North's past nuclear activity.

North Korea has given notice to international aviation and shipping monitors it will launch communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 into orbit sometime between April 4-8. Pyongyang warned that any foreign attempt to shoot down the satellite will lead to a war.

On Tuesday's statement, the foreign ministry spokesman rejected the argument used to oppose the North's rocket launch, which is that the technologies used for shooting a satellite and a missile are indistinguishable. The U.S. and Japan have already put their own satellites into space, meaning they have more advanced missile technology, the spokesman noted.

"The brigandish logic that they may launch as many satellites as they please but the DPRK should not be allowed to do so is a revelation of hostility towards it," he said on Tuesday. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

"The above-said assertion made by those countries is just the same far-fetched assertion that both kitchen knives and bayonets should be targets of disarmament as both are similar to each other," he said.

A pro-Pyongyang newspaper hinted Thursday that North Korea may resort to a second nuclear test should the United Nations sanction it.

The Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper that conveys Pyongyang's position, compared the current situation to the run-up to North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006. Pyongyang detonated its atomic bomb in October that year after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution punishing the North for its missile test three months earlier.
"If the fuss over sanctions repeats in historical amnesia, it may trigger North Korea's ultra-hardline response again," it said.

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C.  Iran

Iran Nuke 'a Couple of Years' Away: Petraeus
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

Iran is still "a couple of years" away from having enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon, the commander of US forces in the Middle East said Sunday.

"The bottom line: we think it's a couple of years away in that regard. It could be more, could be a little bit less," General David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, said in interview on CNN.

"There are certainly a lot of facts that we don't know about what goes on inside Iran," he added.

The United States and its European allies fear that Tehran intends to acquire a nuclear weapon under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, which Iran denies.

But Petraeus noted that to acquire a weapon, Iran must have enough highly enriched uranium, must make a warhead and have long-range missiles capable of delivering them. US intelligence believes Iran halted a secret program to design a nuclear weapon in 2003.

On the other hand, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, predicted last week that Iran will have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon within a year but is not rushing to produce one.

"The Iranian strategy is not to get a nuclear bomb as soon as they can so as not to give the world a reason to act against them," Yadlin told the Israeli parliament.

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Pentagon Chief Favors Sanctions to Press Iran
Anthony Boadle
(for personal use only)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday that economic sanctions would be more effective than diplomatic overtures in bringing Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program.

"Perhaps if there is enough economic pressure placed on Iran, diplomacy can provide them an open door through which they can walk if they choose to change their policies," Gates said on Fox News Sunday.

"I think the two go hand in hand, but I think what gets them to the table is economic sanctions," he said, commenting on diplomatic efforts to neutralize the nuclear plans of Iran and North Korean.

Gates clarified the Pentagon's view that Iran may have enough low-enriched uranium from centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facility, but it does not have the capability to enrich the material further to weapons grade.

The U.S. government suspected Iran could be "clandestinely" building an enrichment capability, he said, but added:

"We do not believe they are doing enriching beyond a low level at Natanz, and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) is in there, so we will know if they tried to do that."

In separate comments on Sunday, the chief of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, said Iran and the United States shared common goals in stabilizing Afghanistan.

"They don't want to see the Taliban and the extremist elements that sought sanctuary there before return to running that country," he said on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

"They want to see a reduction in the flow of the illegal narcotics that has trapped many of their own citizens in addiction," said Petraeus, who commands U.S. forces from the Arabian Gulf into Central Asia.

President Barack Obama announced a new war strategy for Afghanistan on Friday that will focus on eliminating al Qaeda militants in the rugged Afghan-Pakistan frontier region.

The Obama administration hopes to engage Iran on Afghan issues at a U.N. conference on Afghanistan in The Hague on Tuesday. Iran said on Thursday that it will attend the meeting proposed by Washington with delegates from 80 nations.

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, underlined Iran's interests in a stable Afghanistan on the same CNN program.

"In 2002 they helped stand up the Karzai government. They hate the Taliban and they need stability on their eastern frontier," Holbrooke said.

Despite "enormous differences" with Washington over its nuclear program and support for Hezbollah and Hamas, Holbrooke said "the door is open for Iran to participate in international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan."

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Ryabkov: No Reason for Preventing Iran’s Peaceful Nuclear Activities
Islamic Republic News Agency
(for personal use only)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday that global community has no reason to prevent Iran from carrying out peaceful nuclear activities.

Talking to Echo Radio in Mosccow, Ryabkov said Iran acts on its commitments within the NPT framework, which means that the international community has no reason to prevent it from continuing its peaceful nuclear activities.

He said global community has some problems with regards to Iran’s nuclear activities which should be tackled.

He added that all problems relating to Iran’s nuclear activities should be solved diplomatically.

The ground is prepared for settlement of Iran problem, he said, adding the the US and other parties involved in the case should seize this opportunity.

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D.  Nuclear Cooperation

Economic Crisis, Nuke Proliferation to Top Obama-Singh Talks
Business Standard
(for personal use only)

The first meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama at the G-20 meeting in London on April 1-2 will be dominated by the global economic slowdown, nuclear non-proliferation and reorientation of US policy towards Afghanistan-Pakistan.

Singh will meet Obama on the sidelines of the summit.

The meeting is significant because apart from Singh being one of the few world leaders who will meet Obama in a one-on-one meeting during the summit, there are points of convergence and divergence regarding these issues the duo would have to address.

Speaking here on Monday, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said India would advocate reform and regulation of international multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), besides ensuring transparency in their functioning. As was its stand in the G-20 summit in Washington last November, Menon said India would highlight the need to “eschew protectionist measures”. This is especially the case in the US, where as part of its multi-billion-dollar stimulus packages, tax breaks are being given to companies that prefer employing US citizens rather than outsource their operations abroad.

The contentious issue of visa restrictions that this move entails is a sticking point for the two leaders to tackle.

The other global issue that’ll take precedence is nuclear non-proliferation. Menon has said that India “would not stand in the way of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)” from taking effect, but would continue to be out of the CTBT’s fold in its current form due to its discriminatory nature. As Obama has nuclear disarmament high on his agenda, Singh would be keen to hear his views on a “proposed summit on nuclear terrorism, anti-satellite weapon agreement and the elimination of clandestine nuclear proliferation networks.”

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South Africa, China Join Forces in Commercialisation of Pebble Bed Nuclear Technology
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The advancement of the next generation of nuclear reactors has received a boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Beijing between the Chinese and the South African developers of pebble bed technology.

Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd (PBMR) of South Africa has been developing the pebble bed technology in parallel with the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET) of Tsinghua University and Chinergy Co Ltd of China, whose pebble bed concept is based on a 10 MW (thermal) research reactor that was started up in Beijing in December 2000 and achieved full power operation in January 2003.

INET is a top nuclear research and experimental institute in China.

The MOU, based on mutual respect and appreciation for the developments achieved by both countries to date, is designed to facilitate cooperation on identified areas of common interest. South Africa and China hope to pursue collaboration in a number of strategic and technical areas relating to high temperature reactor (HTR) projects in both countries.

Prof Zhang Zouyi, Director of INET, says the MOU will create a strategic environment for the two parties to work together. He added that the MOU was the result of natural synergies between the South African and Chinese HTR project teams, which were highlighted at an HTR conference in Washington DC in 2008.

The Washington meeting was followed by a visit to South Africa by representatives from INET and Chinergy Co Ltd, earlier in 2009, in order to devise a framework for cooperation.

PBMR CEO Jaco Kriek welcomed the collaboration with China. He said the MOU will create interesting opportunities for the future commercialisation of the technology and strengthen supply chains in both countries, with the support of both the Chinese and South African governments.

As emerging economies, both South Africa and China have extensive energy requirements, with an emphasis on increasing nuclear energy as part of the energy mix.

"While the two projects have chosen slightly different technical approaches, we both fully believe that high temperature, gas-cooled reactors using pebble fuel offer the best potential for sustainable, clean, reliable and safe sources of energy globally," says Kriek.

He added that China's commitment to the technology, along with the ongoing PBMR project, further demonstrates the potential for advanced reactor technologies with passive, inherently safe characteristics.

"The pebble bed technology will bring a a new option to the energy market in the near future which offers flexible, smart grid solutions for electricity, customer-centric process heat and steam solutions for petrochemical industries, oil sands extraction and desalination. It will also pave the way to high temperature hydrogen production."

South Africa and China are widely recognised as world leaders in the field of high
temperature reactor design. Both South African and Chinese technologies use the same pebble fuel concept as a source of heat. The first commercial-scale plant (HTR-PM) in China will make use of indirect cycle, steam turbine systems, while PBMR has been developing a direct cycle gas turbine system.

The HTR-PM features two 250 MW (thermal) reactor modules and a 210 MW (electric) steam turbine-generator set.

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Hitting Reset: US, Russia Face Tough Nuclear Talks
Mike Eckel
Associated Press
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When Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev meet for the first time on April 1, a big part of "pressing the reset button" will be to rescue the two countries' dying arms control treaty and prevent a return to Cold War nuclear rivalry.

The "reset," Washington's image for redefining future U.S.-Russian relations, covers a tangle of issues. Critical among them is the replacement of one of the most important Cold War deals limiting the world's two largest nuclear arsenals — the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

START expires Dec. 5, and at their London summit, Obama and Medvedev are expected to announce talks on a new pact, whose outcome will color relations between Washington and Moscow for years to come.

But with an array of military and political issues to untangle, "the process will be very difficult," said Anton Khlopkov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Energy and Security Studies.

Signed in 1991 by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush, the 700-page START resulted in the largest nuclear reductions in history. Essential to that was a mechanism that allowed the two sides to inspect and verify each other's arsenals.

"If one thing or another isn't done, then we'll end up in a legal vacuum and we won't know anything about the condition of (each other's) nuclear forces," said retired Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, a former arms control expert with the Russian Defense Ministry.

According to the U.S. State Department, as of last July — the most recent official data available — Russia had about 4,100 warheads available for use on missiles based on land, on submarines and on long-range bombers. The United States had around 5,950. That includes warheads in storage — a major point of disagreement.

The talks are the first major arms control negotiations since 1997, when then-Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton made a new push to reach a START successor treaty that U.S. and Russian lawmakers would ratify.

That effort, however, was tied up for years by lawmakers in both countries and START II ultimately fell apart.

Instead the two powers produced the 2002 Treaty of Moscow, a page-long document committing them to slash their warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 in number. But it's considered far weaker than START.

With just eight months remaining before START expires, both Medvedev and Obama have signaled a desire to reach a new deal. Experts say the two nuclear giants could easily agree to cuts down below 1,700 warheads, if not further.

But a thicket of technical disputes, differing interpretations and lingering grievances make it unlikely that a negotiators will reach a comprehensive successor to START before the deadline, analysts say. More likely is that START will just be renewed or the two sides will reach an informal agreement that keeps some sort of arms control framework in place.

"I am not at all sure that the Kremlin actually wants to see the negotiations conclude quickly," military commentator Alexander Golts wrote in a recent column, arguing that Moscow will use the talks to boost its battered prestige as an equal negotiating partner with Washington.

However Hans Kristensen, a researcher with the Federation for American Scientists in Washington, says both sides have good reason to want a deal. "The Russians have every interest in landing some sort of agreement here," he said. "And the U.S. needs to cement a better relationship with Russians and turn this ship around."

Washington is looking to increase the number of strategic missiles it tips with non-nuclear warheads — for example, submarine-launched missiles that could be used to take out terrorist bases. Moscow argues that it would have no way of knowing whether such a submarine-launched missile is nuclear or not.

Russia, meanwhile, is developing the RS-24, a new type of missile that can carry multiple warheads. Washington says it's just an upgrade of an existing model, a violation of START. The Russian military, however, has said the new missile will be deployed in December after START expires — a signal that Moscow has no intention of abiding by START's restrictions on that type of weapon.

Other thorny issues include the definition of "operationally deployed" missiles — whether a warhead on a shelf in storage, for example, should be considered "deployed" or not. The two sides differ strongly.

Russia has also said it wants cuts not only in warheads but also the missiles, bombers and submarines that carry them.

Also poisoning the atmosphere is the U.S. missile defense plan for Eastern Europe. Moscow intends to put the plan on the negotiating table, calling it a threat to its strategic deterrent.

Another impediment is military doctrine. Drastic cuts in arsenals will require military planners in both countries to markedly change how and where missiles are deployed in their so-called "triads" — the three-pronged strategy to ensure missiles can be fired either from land or from the sea or from the air.

Nearly 20 years have passed since the superpowers declared the Cold War over, and the counting of warheads may sound like something out of a time capsule. But to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Moscow's point man on arms control, they are critical to mending the damaged U.S.-Russian relationship

"To a certain extent, everything depends on how it goes with START," he told Ekho Moskvy radio on Friday. "The times are different now, but these are weapons that have the most influence on the general condition of international relations and on Russian-American relations in particular."

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RF not to Trade Off ABM Problem With Iran Nuclear Program - Medvedev
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that it is inadmissible to “trade off” with the United States a solution to the problem of deploying some components of the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system in Europe with the Iranian nuclear program.

“I don't think that any trade-offs are possible in this respect. Any information as to replace one issue with another one is not true, this is not a serious talk,” the Russian president said in an interview with the BBC Television on Sunday.

Medvedev recalled that Russia “maintains full-fledged relations with this state (Iran), but our position is based on well-known UN resolutions and approaches set forth by the IAEA, namely that Iran's nuclear programme should be peaceful.” “This is our public position, we have always informed Iranians about this,” the Russian leader added.

“But I have no doubt that we shall discuss both issues– that of ABM defense and of the situation around Iran's nuclear programme. I believe that President Obama thinks the same way,” Medvedev has made a forecast over a forthcoming meeting with the U.S. president next week.

The Russian president emphasized, “We wouldn't like to have any new nuclear missiles along our borders.” “The world has enough missiles without that and their multiplication does not assure the needed security. We are interested in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to be the main principle of human development for the years to come. We don't want any new members of the nuclear club; it's quite unnecessary,” Medvedev underlined.

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E.  Nuclear Industry

Commercial Arm of Atomic Energy Agency to Be Sold
Frank Prenesti
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The Atomic Energy Authority plans to sell its commercial unit, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said on Monday.

In a written statement, Mandelson said the government was looking to sell 100 percent of the unit, known as UKAEA Limited, which mainly performs nuclear decommissioning work.

Mandelson said the government would accept offers for a partial stake in the business and hoped to complete a deal before the end of July.

"The sale is recognition of the work done by management in creating a commercially viable enterprise that has become an important repository of key nuclear skills that will help ensure that the UK will remain at the forefront of the nuclear services industry," Mandelson said.

He said UKAEA has a "fledgling" consulting service business in the decommissioning sector which it will use to grow revenue.

"Within the UK an internationally there are a significant number of 'old' nuclear facilities for which decommissioning services will be required," Mandelson said.

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Toshiba Said to Buy Majority Stake in Nuclear Fuel Company
Megumi Yamanaka
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Toshiba Corp., Japan’s largest supplier of reactors, plans to buy a controlling stake in a nuclear fuel supplier to help compete with global rivals for new atomic power plants, officials said.

Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric Co. seeks to buy more than 50 percent of Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd. from Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. and Furukawa Electric Co., said two officials close to the negotiations who declined to be named before an announcement. Yuichiro Horiba, a spokesman at Osaka- based Sumitomo Electric confirmed the talks and said the companies have yet to reach a decision.

Better access to fuel may help Toshiba win orders as competition with France’s Areva SA and an alliance between Hitachi Ltd. and General Electric Co. intensifies. Nuclear power generation is set to increase as developing countries led by China and India build more reactors to meet demand and cut carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

“It’s more profitable to package reactors with the fuel,” Fujii Tomoyuki, an analyst at Okasan Securities Co., said by phone from Tokyo today. “Customers don’t want to take risks associated with the nuclear fuel business, and offering them together will help win orders.”

Toshiba spokeswoman Hiroko Mochida and Furukawa spokesman Toshinori Kimura declined to comment.

The two officials didn’t say how much Toshiba may pay for the proposed stake. The Yomiuri newspaper reported yesterday that Toshiba will buy all of Nuclear Fuel Industries at a cost of more than 20 billion yen ($205 million).

Hitachi Venture

Toshiba wants to buy a stake in Nuclear Fuel Industries partly because of concern that the company may be pushed out of another fuel venture with General Electric and Hitachi, one of the officials said.

Toshiba and Hitachi each own 24.5 percent of Global Nuclear Fuel Japan Co. while General Electric holds 51 percent. General Electric and Hitachi merged their nuclear energy business in July 2007, a year after Toshiba bought Westinghouse.

Toshiba, which is forecasting its first net loss in seven years, is focusing on nuclear energy as the global recession cuts profit from semiconductors, its main business. The company aims to win orders to build 39 reactors by 2015, it said in the mid-term business plan unveiled in January.

Shares in the company have tumbled 42 percent in the last six months, outpacing the 27 percent decline in the benchmark Topix index. The stock fell 8 percent to close at 263 yen at in Tokyo.

Nuclear Fuel Industries was formed in 1972 and sells atomic fuel rods to companies including Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co., the country’s biggest utilities. The company operates one plant at Ibaraki, north of Tokyo, and another in Osaka.

The world needs 32 new nuclear power plants a year to meet a goal of halving emissions by 2050, International Energy Agency Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said in June.

India plans to add 40,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity by 2020, while China has increased its goal to 75,000 megawatts from a previous target of 40,000 megawatts, the Shanghai Securities News said today.

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Belgian Firm Appeals Nuclear Tax: Report
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Belgian energy firm Electrabel launched a court challenge against a bid to levy hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in windfall tax on nuclear power companies, a report said on Saturday.

"The appeal was launched this week" in a Belgian constitutional court by Electrabel, a subsidiary of the French energy giant GDF Suez, the Belgian firm's spokesman Fernand Grifnee was quoted as saying by the newspaper l'Echo.

GDF Suez's chief executive Gerard Mestrallet has described the windfall tax, worth 250 million euros (332 million dollars), as "discriminatory and disproportionate," according to the newspaper.

The Belgian parliament passed the tax law in December. Energy Minister Paul Magnette had called for it on the grounds that investments in nuclear power stations have been recovered faster than expected, boosting company profits.

Magnette insisted on Saturday that the tax was "not discriminatory," speaking on the VRT television channel. His spokeswoman added that it was aimed at "all electricity producers."

Environmental group Greenpeace meanwhile said the tax was too small. Greenpeace spokesman Jan Vande Putte was quoted by the Belga news agency as saying that it should be raised to a billion euros per year.

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F.  Nuclear Energy

China Energy Arm Plans to Up Nuclear Capacity
Agence France-Presse
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China's energy sector will table a plan to nearly double its 2020 nuclear power capacity goal and is urging firms to acquire uranium abroad to build a fuel reserve, state press said Monday.

The country's energy administration wants to increase capacity to 75,000 megawatts, up from the 40,000 it had called for in a plan put forward in 2007, the Shanghai Securities News said.

The revised plan will soon be submitted to the State Council, the cabinet, for approval, Cao Shudong, a senior official with the National Energy Administration, told the paper.

The 75,000 megawatt plan was 5,000 megawatts more than previously reported.

China currently has a combined capacity of 9,100 megawatts at 11 nuclear reactors, Cao said, meaning the new plan, if approved, would call for an ambitious programme to construct new plants.

In the past year, China has approved the building of 40 nuclear reactors, Cao said, while the construction of several plants has already started.

China is banking on nuclear power as a cleaner alternative to coal, which currently covers about two thirds of its energy demand.

Chinese companies will also be encouraged to buy overseas uranium mines, as the lack of the resource is increasingly straining the country's ability to boost nuclear power supply, Cao said.

The reserve system will be built at both government and corporate levels, he added.

China's energy plans have given new hope to the global nuclear industry, represented by firms such as Areva of France and US-based Westinghouse, while offering a market for uranium suppliers such as Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton.

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G.  Nuclear Safety

Emergency Ministry Expects to Begin Storing Radioactive Waste in Storage Facility at Chornobyl Nuclear Plant in June-August
Kyiv Post
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The Ministry of Emergency Situations and protection of the Population against the aftermath of the Chornobyl Nuclear Catastrophe expects to begin storing the radioactive waste that accumulated as a result of the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in the specially equipped near-surface facility for storage of solid nuclear waste at the Chornobyl nuclear plant in the period of June-August 2009

Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Shandra announced this at a press conference.

"I think that we will be able to bring the radioactive waste in the summer," Shandra said.

According to him, the State Committee for Nuclear Regulation is presently completing the process of licensing the storage facility.

"The licensing is practically being completed now," he said.

According to him, all the work related to licensing and beginning of industrial operation of the storage facility is progressing according to schedule.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the State Committee for Nuclear Regulation decided on February 5 to postpone the licensing of the Tekhnotsentr state specialized enterprise (Kyiv region) to operate the storage facility because of shortcomings uncovered during inspection of the storage facility.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, on April 23, 2008, the storage facility was opened in the frames of the launching complex of the first stage of the Vector complex construction.

The storage facility was constructed by the RWE Nukem GmbH company (Germany) with money provided by the European Commission and as part of the international technical assistance for decommissioning of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.

The storage facility is one of three elements of the industrial complex on handling with solid radioactive wastes constructed in the frames of the international project on TACIS program.

Two other elements are the unit for extraction of the solid radioactive wastes of all categories from the currently existing storage and also the plant for sorting the wastes.

The designed capacity of the storage facility is up to 55,000 cubic meters

It is expected to fill up in 10 years after it begins operation, and the processes within it will need to be monitored for the following 300 years.

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H.  Links of Interest

Cumbrian Lab Spearheads Nuclear Industry Change
The Whitehaven News
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The Nuclear Option: UK's Multibillion-Pound Renaissance Moves Up a Gear
Sarah Arnott
The Independent
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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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