North Korea has vowed to walk out on international talks to end its nuclear programme, and said it would restore its disabled nuclear reactor.
The unusually strong statement follows criticism by the UN Security Council of its recent rocket launch, which critics say was a long-range missile test.
North Korea says its launch was part of a peaceful space programme, designed to put a satellite into orbit.
China and Russia have appealed for the North to return to negotiations.
China, Pyongyang's closest ally, called for "calm and restraint" from all sides.
A Foreign Ministry statement said that Beijing hoped "all sides will... continue to advance and push forward the six-party talks and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".
Moscow expressed regret at the North's decision, while Japan said it "strongly urges" Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table.
Last week, Japan renewed unilateral economic sanctions against North Korea for another year because of its rocket launch.
The six-party talks, involving North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US, have seen many setbacks since they began more than five years ago.
North Korea now says it is walking out for good, after describing the UN action as an "unbearable insult".
The North Korean Foreign Ministry said the UN statement - condemning its rocket launch and tightening existing sanctions - infringed its sovereignty and "severely debases" its people.
The ministry said it would "strengthen its nuclear deterrent for its defence by all means".
The North also said that it would restore its partially disabled Yongbyon nuclear reactor - the fuel source for its 2006 atomic test.
Pyongyang partially dismantled the plant in 2008, as part of an international agreement which guaranteed it aid and diplomatic concessions in exchange for disabling its nuclear facilities.
The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this latest instalment of the North Korean drama has been seen by many analysts as a predictable attempt by Pyongyang to gain the attention of the new US administration.
How far the North Koreans are really willing to go in unpicking the current deal is not clear, he says.
With growing uncertainty about the internal political dynamics in Pyongyang, and a much tougher sounding leadership in South Korea, it may not be easy to get these talks back on track, our correspondent says.
Pyongyang's defiant response came shortly after the 15-member Security Council unanimously condemned the long-range rocket launch on 5 April.
The council also ordered the UN Sanctions Committee to begin enforcing both financial sanctions and an existing arms embargo imposed after the 2006 tests.
There had been hope that the unified statement could pave the way for a return to the talks, which have stalled over the inability to verify the shutdown of Yongbyon.
North Korea had previously threatened that any criticism of the rocket launch would cause it to walk away from the negotiating table.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7997481.stm
2. North Korea Says to Re-Start Nuclear Arms Plant
Yoo Choonsik, Chris Buckley and Linda Sieg
(for personal use only)
North Korea said on Tuesday it was no longer bound by an international nuclear disarmament deal and would re-start its plant that makes arms-grade plutonium after the U.N. chastised it for launching a long-range rocket.
TIM CONDON, ECONOMIST AT ING FINANCIAL MARKETS, SINGAPORE:
"Market players have come to view belligerent North Korean statements as bargaining ploys that are not to be taken at face value, which is how I interpret the lack of a reaction in financial markets to the news."
ZHANG LIANGUI, EXPERT ON NORTH KOREA AT THE CENTRAL PARTY SCHOOL IN BEIJING:
"North Korea has always used the six-party talks as a tool for delay. I don't think that North Korea has ever really abandoned its goal of developing nuclear weapons, and this statement lays that bare.
"In a sense, this may be a good thing, because it could help end the delay and disunity and put a stop to illusions about the six-party talks.
"The Security Council statement may have triggered North Korea's threats, but that was really only an excuse. North Korea has never taken the talks seriously, and the Security Council statement has given them the excuse they wanted to pull out...
"It's made clear the essence of the North Korea nuclear issue, which is simply that North Korea wants a nuclear weapons capability.... The international community has been so reactive and divided and North Korea has taken advantage of that once again."
SHI YINHONG, REGIONAL SECURITY EXPERT AT RENMIN UNIVERSITY IN BEIJING:.
"This is a response to the U.N. Security Council statement, including to China....North Korea's statements are always a mixture of bluff and real threats, but I think the threats are more real this time, and I think they'll continue for the next few months at least."
Shi said North Korea's actions were being driven by domestic imperatives, and would not be easily shaped by international pressure.
"The rocket launch and all of this is for domestic consumption. North Korea is entering a phase where the succession issue is crucial, and that will dominate their behaviour....They're likely to ignore external pressure."
LEE JONG-WON, KOREA EXPERT AT TOKYO'S RIKKYO UNIVERSITY:
"This is in line with North Korea's statement (of what it would do). They had said that if there was a U.N. resolution, the six-way talks would be finished and de-nuclearisation invalidated. Now they are trying to use the 'nuclear card' to put pressure on the United States and the Obama administration to resume direct negotiations"
"Their objective is to improve ties with the United States. Their methods are military but their objectives are political and diplomatic. They are not aiming at war, but at better relations. These are the only methods they have."
KIM TAE-WOO, NUCLEAR EXPERT, KOREA INSTITUTE FOR DEFENCE ANALYSIS, SEOUL:
"This is a much stronger response than I had expected when taking into account that the UNSC's final choice turned out to be the weakest among the possible choices.
"I think much still depends on U.S.-North Korean bilateral dialogue, including whether the six-party talks are really to die. In 1993, the situation was much more serious but eventually North Korea and the United States started direct talks and opened a dialogue phase."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSP172512
3. Prolonged Stalemate Expected as N. Korea and U.S. Assess Post-Launch Ties
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
The often-troubled six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear program stand at a crossroad again, as the unpredictable communist plays a game of diplomatic brinkmanship.
In a counter-punch to the U.N. Security Council's tough reaction to its rocket launch earlier this month, the North said Tuesday it will "never" return to the negotiating table.
The threat to terminate talks by the North is not its first, but the latest message represents the strongest yet, hinting at a drawn-out stalemate, if not complete abandonment of the disarmament talks
While South Korea's top nuclear envoy took the North's announcement seriously, he refused to call the current situation a "crisis" for the six-way talks.
"I think it is part of a North Korean-style game," Wi Sung-lac told Yonhap News Agency. He said the stalemate is a chapter in a long process of dealing with the defiant North. "Now is a confrontational phase that could be turned into a dialogue phase some day," he said.
His comments reflect Seoul's stance of not overreacting to the North's every threat.
In fact, when North Korea conducted a nuclear test in October 2006 despite warnings from regional powers, many expected the demise of the six-way talks.
But North Korea and the U.S. resumed contact in a deal brokered by China, just three weeks later in Beijing. The six-way talks also involving Russia and Japan were reconvened in December.
If history is any guide, North Korea is likely to come back to the talks after a confrontational period in the wake of its provocative rocket launch.
North Korea watchers say Pyongyang is aware that it has more to lose than gain by terminating the six-way talks, in which its dialogue partners promise huge economic and political incentives for denuclearization.
South Korea's conservative government is determined to take a long-term approach toward Pyongyang, seeking the resumption of the talks and also pushing for sanctions under a U.N. resolution. Seoul is also about to announce full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative, a U.S.-led anti-proliferation campaign strongly protested by North Korea.
Analysts said the ball lies between the U.S. and North Korea after the North's rocket firing, the U.N. reaction, and Pyongyang's response.
"The North Korean foreign ministry's statement is viewed as mainly directed at the U.S.. It describes Japan as a pawn of the U.S. It says the U.N. unilaterally accepts the U.S. opinion," Dongguk University's Prof. Ko Yu-hwan said.
He expected there will be talks between North Korea and the U.S. at some point to pave the way for the resumption of the six-way talks. "It is uncertain which side will begin the initiative."
Mitchell Reiss, former senior American diplomat, pointed out that the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama remains committed to the multilateral nuclear talks.
"It is difficult to say at this point precisely how the U.S. will react, but the Obama administration has made clear that its priority is getting the North to return to the six-party talks," said Reiss, who is now vice-provost of international affairs at the College of William and Mary.
An unexpected breakthrough may come from U.S. efforts to win the release of the two female American journalists held by North Korean authorities. The two, while traveling to the porous China-North Korea border area on a news assignment , were arrested last month for allegedly intruding into the North.
The U.S. may send a high-level envoy to North Korea to discuss their release, which will provide a face-saving chance for bilateral talks.
"What was a simple consular incident at first has developed into a high-profile political and diplomatic case," a South Korean foreign ministry official handling North American affairs said.
Experts are also paying close attention to the role of China, North Korea's closest ally and the largest donor to its impoverished neighbor.
China, which chairs the six-party talks, is apparently eager to salvage the negotiations.
"North Korea's adamant threat of quitting the six-way talks may reflect its complaint over China's approval of a strongly-worded U.N. Security Council statement," a diplomatic source said. "China will try to appease North Korea in a bid to bring North Korea back to the talks."
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/04/14/66/0401000000AEN20090414008200315F.HTML
4. S. Korea Consults With U.S. on its PSI Role: Ministry
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
South Korea has informed the United States and some other allies of its plan to join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), officials here said Monday.
"We consulted with allied countries including the U.S. on the issue," foreign ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said in his regular press briefing. "We notified them of our plan."
Moon did not provide details including when and how the notification was made, as well as the countries' responses.
"I don't want to go into details as I think you can guess (their responses)," he added.
He reaffirmed that the government will soon decide when to announce its participation in the PSI, taking into account the U.N. measure against North Korea's April 5 rocket launch. The PSI, launched in 2003 by the U.S., is a global effort to stop the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. North Korea is apparently a main target.
The 15-member U.N. Security Council is about to issue a presidential statement condemning the launch which Pyongyang claims was aimed at sending a satellite into orbit but is suspected to be cover for a long-range missile test.
According to an agreed-upon draft, expected to be endorsed formally on Tuesday (Seoul time), the Security Council concludes the North's launch contravenes Resolution 1718, which prohibits the communist nation from conducting a ballistic missile test.
"If the presidential statement is adopted, the U.N. Security Council would be able to send a clear message to the international community on North Korea by issuing a swift and unified response," Moon said.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/04/13/20/0401000000AEN20090413004000315F.HTML
The United States has welcomed Iranian interest in holding dialogue to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.
"We welcome the fact that they're interested in having a dialogue," US State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters on Monday, but at the same time said that Iran needed "to show the international community that its nuclear program is a peaceful one," AFP reported.
Calling Iran's nuclear issue 'important' to the international community, Wood claimed that the world was very 'skeptical' about the long disputed matter.
"We encourage Iran to come forward and provide the international community with all of the assurances that it requires to be convinced that Iran is pursuing a peaceful nuclear program," he added.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the US, France, Britain, Russia, China -- plus Germany had declared in a Wednesday statement that they would ask the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, to invite Tehran to a meeting to find 'a diplomatic solution' to the country's nuclear issue.
"We strongly urge Iran to take advantage of this opportunity to engage seriously with all of us in a spirit of mutual respect," the six powers said.
In a telephone conversation with Solana, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili welcomed the idea of talks based on the clear understanding of international realities and developments.
Jalili also said that Iran would issue an official statement in response to that of the P5+1.
Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), says its nuclear program is solely aimed at peaceful purposes. The West, though, accuses Tehran of developing a covert nuclear military program.
Under US pressure, the UN Security Council has slapped three rounds of resolutions on Iran over its nuclear program.
Iran says it is open to talks based on justice and respect, rejecting any precondition for dialogue over its nuclear case.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=91352§ionid=351020104
The United States could be set to scrap its demand that Iran stop enriching uranium in the early stages of talks on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, local media reported Tuesday.
The New York Times said US and European diplomats have considered allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium for some period while talks get off the ground, a sharp shift in policy.
The administration of former president George W. Bush had insisted that Iran mothball its enrichment program before talks begin, amid fears that the activities may be part of a nuclear weapons program.
Tehran had rejected that proposal, arguing that it had a legitimate right to run a civil nuclear program -- including the enrichment of uranium -- under international law.
"We have all agreed that is simply not going to work -- experience tells us the Iranians are not going to buy it," the New York paper quoted a European diplomat as saying.
If approved the shift in tactics is likely to provoke outcry in Israel, which says Iran is trying to prevaricate while it continues to build a nuclear weapon.
Enriching uranium so that it can be used for nuclear power -- or building a weapon of mass destruction -- lies at the heart of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.
The so-called P5-plus-1 -- the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany -- have long offered Iran trade, financial and other incentives in return for halting its uranium enrichment program.
But so far Tehran has refused, leaving diplomatic efforts deadlocked.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iLHLZxg-5TXlSJVQ4Dqe2mqQv86Q
Iran is planning to join the countries possessing the technical ability to construct nuclear power plants, announces a top Iranian nuclear official.
Mohammad Saeedi, Deputy Head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), gave an upbeat forecast for the country's nuclear agenda on Sunday, saying the Islamic Republic will join an elite group of countries capable of building nuclear power plants.
Earlier in 1997, IAEO officials gave assurance that it would take five to six years to master the lengthy nuclear fuel production process. Today the agency believes that Iran would be able to build nuclear reactors within the next ten years, said the Iranian nuclear official.
Iran's first nuclear reactor in the southern port city of Bushehr was built with Russian help.
Saeedi applauded the sheer genius of Iranian scientists who managed to perfect the country's nuclear fuel cycle in spite of the mounting international pressure.
The West, spearheaded by Washington, has accused Tehran of nuclear weapon development ----- an allegation that has been rejected by Iran, the UN nuclear watchdog, and senior weapon experts in the West.
"They (Iranians) don't have one (nuclear weapon) and say they're not interested in one," assured Paul Kerr, an arms control expert at the Congressional Research Service on Friday. "The reactor is under safeguard. They can't [create weapons-grade plutonium] without getting caught."
Iran announced fresh advances in the country's steady drive to master nuclear technology on Thursday as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the country's first Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) in the central city of Isfahan.
According to Iranian nuclear officials, the country now has "around 7,000" centrifuges installed at its Natanz facility -- a milestone from the 5,600 that were already in place.
The newly-launched reactor is slated to produce pellets of uranium oxide that could be used to fuel a heavy-water reactor in the central city of Arak due to be completed some time between 2011 and 2013.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=91271§ionid=351020104
Iran has welcomed an offer of talks with six world powers over its nuclear programme, state television says.
Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili spoke to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and discussed the proposals, Iran's news agency ISNA said.
"[Iran] welcomes discussion with the group of six for a constructive cooperation", Mr Jalili said.
Last week the six - US, Russia, China, France, UK and Germany - said that they were inviting Tehran for talks.
The group's statement also reaffirmed its members' commitment to a "dual track" strategy, promising economic and political assistance if Iran agreed to international demands to halt uranium enrichment operations, but tighter sanctions if it did not.
Mr Jalili also said Iran would issue an official statement in response to the six powers' offer, Iranian state TV reported.
His response came days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran was open to talks, as long as they based on a platform of respect and justice for Iranian rights.
Iran denies it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon and says its nuclear programme is designed to generate electricity.
The talks are based on international concern that Iran's nuclear programme is a cover to build atomic weapons.
Tehran has continued to enrich uranium despite lengthy negotiations in recent years with major powers and despite the imposition of sanctions by the UN Security Council.
Progress has been slow, but new US President Barack Obama recently used a video message to offer "a new beginning" to the Iranian people and leaders.
While not openly accepting Mr Obama's overtures, Iran's president has sounded a more conciliatory tone in recent weeks.
Last week he told German news magazine Der Spiegel that Iran speaks "very respectfully" of Barack Obama
"But we are realists. We want to see real changes," Mr Ahmadinejad said.
Enriched uranium can be used in nuclear power plants, but can also be used to make the weapons.
But Tehran has always insisted it is developing nuclear power for civilian purposes.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7996726.stm
5. Iran Says it Controls Entire Nuclear Fuel Cycle
(for personal use only)
Iran now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel with the opening of a new facility to produce uranium pellets, the Iranian president announced on Saturday.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced several times in the past that Iran has the knowledge necessary to enrich uranium ore into fuel pellets, but with the opening of the new facility, the Islamic republic says it now has the capability.
Speaking on state television Saturday, Ahmadinejad said the next step for Iran is to achieve proficiency in building nuclear power plants without help from foreign countries.
Iran is building a nuclear power plant with Russia in Bushehr, but the uranium fuel to power it is imported.
Tehran also plans to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in Darkhovin, in the southwestern Khuzestan province, which it will power with its own fuel.
The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is merely geared towards power generation.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jG7bnyWWJfgaYD-JwcqmImlpRujwD97G8GD01
The US has raised doubts about Iran's recent achievements in uranium enrichment activities, demanding that Tehran return to negotiations.
Iran's nuclear gains were greeted with skepticism after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday inaugurated the country's first Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) in the central city of Isfahan.
Ahmadinejad declared Iran's mastery of the final stage of the lengthy nuclear fuel production process.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she had doubts as to whether Iran had actually made enrichment gains, urging Tehran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and return to nuclear negotiations.
Her remarks came after the launch of Isfahan fuel facility and after Tehran announced that 7,000 centrifuges were put into operation in Natanz uranium enrichment facility.
Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Reza Aqazadeh, also announced that Iran plans to build more centrifuges to enrich uranium.
"We don't know what to believe about the Iranian program. We've heard many different assessments and claims over a number of years," Clinton said.
"One of the reasons we are participating in the P-Five-Plus-One (P5+1) is to enforce the international obligations that Iran should be meeting to insure that the IAEA is the source of credible information, because there is a great gap between what the IAEA observed about six or seven weeks ago, and what the Iranians are now claiming," she added.
The five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council -- the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - plus Germany said on Wednesday that they would ask EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to invite Tehran to a meeting to find 'a diplomatic solution' to Iran's nuclear program.
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons program -- a claim categorically denied by Iran. Iran has repeatedly asserted that its nuclear activities are peaceful and totally under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog.
Clinton, however, said that the US officials are not inclined to attribute any particular meaning to Iran's nuclear developments.
The remarks come as US president Barack Obama, who expressed willingness to engage directly in talks with Iran, has seemingly started a double-edged policy with Iran by continuing to accuse the Islamic Republic of pursuing a nuclear program aimed at military purposes.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials describe a real shift in US foreign policy towards Iran as a key to successful talks.
In his Thursday speech, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the new US administration to change previous attitudes and reverse the past policies if it seeks any negotiations with Tehran.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=91089§ionid=351020104
With bilateral relations apparently on a positive track under U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, Russia and the United States are expected to begin the first round of consultations on a new strategic arms reduction treaty by the end of April.
Though the Obama administration regards the arms reduction talks as its first practical step toward a nuclear-free world, Russia remains cautious on the actual outcome of the talks.
A NUCLEAR-FREE WORLD
While addressing nearly 30,000 people at Hradcany Square in downtown Prague on April 5, Obama called for reducing the world's nuclear arsenal and finally eliminating all nuclear threat in the world.
He said that "to put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same."
Earlier this month in London, Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev issued a joint statement, saying the two countries will work out a "new, comprehensive, legally binding" agreement on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms. Later Russian officials confirmed that the first round of consultations will begin by the end of April.
The joint statement said the new treaty would set lower limits for strategic weapons than the 2002 treaty, which called for reducing nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by the end of2012.
U.S. SHIFT OF NUCLEAR STRATEGY
Obama's speech in Prague marks a complete transformation in U.S. thinking about nuclear weapons, some analysts said.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, said that Obama has decided to make the elimination of all the world's nuclear weapons a central goal of U.S. nuclear policy.
"Obama may decide that the only purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter their use and that they should never be used or threatened to counter conventional attacks," Kimball said in his article published on Monday by the Moscow Times.
To start the new U.S. nuclear policy, Obama has chosen to negotiate with Russia on the new nuclear arms reduction treaty, said Kimball.
"The two sides will likely set lower limits on deployed strategic warheads -- to 1,500 or below on each side -- and the missiles and bombers used to deliver them," he said in the article.
"Given that no other state possesses more than 300 nuclear bombs, that simple shift in U.S. nuclear strategy would facilitate far deeper reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals -- to 1,000 total nuclear warheads each in the next five years -- and open a path for multilateral disarmament talks involving other nuclear-armed states," said the article.
However, to put the nuclear-free world into reality requires more efforts from other countries, according to Kimball.
"NATO countries and Russia should agree to put tactical nuclear weapons on the negotiating table and begin a process of accounting for and eventually dismantling these obsolete systems," said the article.
OBSTACLES LYING AHEAD
Although the U.S. expert is quite optimistic in Obama's nuclear policy, Russian analysts noted that a number of stumbling blocks remain on concluding the new treaty.
"Among them, the major one is the coordination of principles on the accounting of warheads, because there has been a lot of disputes on this issue over the years," the Interfax news agency quoted Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, a senior fellow with the International Security Center at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, as saying.
Indeed, earlier media reports estimated that the United States currently has at least 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads deployed and Russia between 2,000 and 3,000. But figures given out by Kimball citing independent experts showed that Russian arsenal of tactical nuclear warheads could be as high as 8,000.
Meanwhile, experts from Poland, the key location of U.S. missile defense system, believed that the United States and Russia together hold nearly 25,000 nuclear warheads, or 96 percent of the global nuclear arsenal, according to the Moscow Times.
Another obstacle lies right in the U.S. stance on its missile defense system.
While calling for a nuclear-free world, Obama also said in Prague that he would continue to pursue a missile defense system in Europe "that is cost-effective and proven" as long as the Iranian nuclear threat existed, Russian analysts pointed out.
"Obama's proposal of a nuclear-free world is not a propaganda move. The Americans have outlined a long-term policy that will benefit them. However, one cannot liquidate nuclear weapons without changing one's policy from positions of strength while at the same time developing an ABM system," the Vremya Novostei quoted Gen. Pavel Zolotarev, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, as saying.
"The Americans will not stop the deployment of a missile defense system in Europe," the daily Russian paper reported citing another expert Viktor Yesin, former chief of staff of Russia's Strategic Missile Force.
The only question is "whether Obama will limit it to 10 anti-missiles in Poland and one missile tracking radar in the Czech Republic or not," said Yesin.
Lastly but most importantly, some Russian analysts also noted that the Kremlin relies heavily on its nuclear arms for national security due to its "weak" conventional forces.
Russia's nuclear arsenal is the only military component that gives it hedge in dealing with the United States and other major powers, said Alexander Golts, deputy editor of the on-line newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal.
"This is precisely why Russia's military strategists see Obama's call for a decrease in nuclear weapons as another attempt to decrease Moscow's influence," he said in an article published on the Moscow Times.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/14/content_11182434.htm
Japan agreed to provide Jordan with support for its nuclear energy programme as the Middle East state plans to launch its first atomic power plant in 2017, officials said.
The five-year accord was signed in Tokyo as Jordan's King Abdullah II was making a three-day trip to the Japanese capital, said an official of Japan's energy agency.
Under the deal, which can be extended for another five years, Japan would help Jordan draft a development programme for construction of nuclear power plants and help develop necessary infrastructure, the official said.
Japan would also help Jordan train nuclear power plant workers and introduce safety measures and regulations, he said.
Japan, Asia's industrial powerhouse but poor in energy resources, is one of the world's leading users of atomic energy with more than 50 nuclear power reactors.
Earlier in the day, King Abdullah had lunch with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.
The king was later scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Taro Aso.
King Abdullah, who arrived here on Sunday, met Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone on Monday and urged Japan to play a role in stalled talks over the Middle East peace process.
This is his sixth trip to Japan since becoming king in 1999, following a visit in December 2006.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iwVQLlGRGm7U4q2g_ch_6asTMFnw
Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on 10/4/2009 that US President Barak Obama's recent initiative that called for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons must include Israel.
Abul-Gheit made the remark during a meeting with a US Congressional delegation where he commended Obama's move to clear the world of nuclear weapons.
He said that Israel must join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty because there should not be double standard policy when it comes to the world or Middle East security.
Abul-Gheit also affirmed that Egypt is ready to cooperate with the five nuclear states in attaining such peaceful aim, noting that the Middle East should be treated on an "equal footing" in this respect.
The foreign minister was hinting at Israel "which is the only state in the Middle East that has not joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
Abul-Gheit believed the NPT review Conference 2010 would be the real test for the five nuclear states to prove their good intentions and to put their words into action. The conference is to be held in New York in May.
Available at: http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/EgyptOnline/Politics/000011/0201000000000000010113.htm
4. Russia Considers Pakistan its Principal Nuclear Threat: Expert
Lalit K Jha
Press Trust of India
(for personal use only)
Describing Pakistan as the "principal" nuclear threat to Russia, an eminent foreign policy and security expert has claimed that Moscow would support any US endeavour to take away Islamabad's atomic weapons in case of any destabilisation in the Islamic nation.
"Russian authorities for many years have been indicating that Pakistan was a much more serious problem, both for nuclear proliferation and for nuclear terrorism, than Iran," Alexei Arbatov, Chairman of the Non-Proliferation Programme of Carnegie Moscow Centre, said at a recent seminar here.
"Russia has been living already for more than a decade within reach of Pakistani nuclear missiles and without any means to defend against them. So Russia considered and considers Pakistan to be the principal threat from the point of view of nuclear proliferation," he said.
Arbatov was a member of the Russian Parliament from 1994 to 2003 and Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee. Author of several books, he is also a member of the Advisory Council to the Foreign Minister and heads a panel on strategic planning for the Scientific Board of the Security Council of Russian Federation.
Available at: http://www.ptinews.com/pti/ptisite.nsf/0/5DECB3633306E1196525759500283C7A?OpenDocument
India is working on the ratification procedures of the India Specific Safeguards Agreement (ISSA), signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency on February 2 in Vienna, to place its civilian nuclear power plants for international inspection.
“We are working on the ratification procedures of the ISSA. Ratification is a legal step and is expected to be completed soon,” Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar told PTI on Sunday.
“We will catch up with the schedule mentioned in the agreement and place reactors classified as civilian as per the Separation Plan under a single umbrella. We will place first the newly constructed plants at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) Units 5 and 6 this year under the IAEA.”
The next step would be the filing of declaration of placing the civilian plants as per the Separation Plan, 2006, of the India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement. The following step would be notification of the same to the IAEA.
Asked whether India would be able to make use of the imported fuel, which have started arriving (from France and Russia), in its reactors appropriately as they have to be used only in safeguarded plants, Mr. Kakodkar said: “We will catch up with the schedule of the ISSA and the current consignment will be used in the RAPS Unit 2 as it is already under the IAEA safeguards.”
Some top officials in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said efforts were on to place the RAPS 5 and 6 under IAEA inspection and also to begin operation of these newly constructed plants within 2009 with the imported fuel.
“Efforts are on to make sure that RAPS 3 and 4 are placed under the IAEA in 2010 as per schedule and the required procedures are being carried out,” they said. With last month’s IAEA Board of Governors’ approval of India-specific additional Protocol, India has almost completed all its major commitments stemming from the July 18, 2005, statement of the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, the officials said.
Available at: http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/13/stories/2009041360211100.htm
It was touted as a deal that would change the global energy landscape, opening new vistas for global as well as Indian power companies. Yet just six months after the historic India-U.S. nuclear deal was signed, unshackling India’s nuclear power generation sector, analysts are predicting hurdles for the “huge opportunities” this sector was expected to open.
A plethora of challenges – including national security, regulatory risks, high costs, lack of clarity in policies, and above all the global economic meltdown – suggest that India’s nuclear renaissance will be a long, drawn-out process that could try the patience of utilities and equipment manufacturers, analysts say.
While India’s return to the international nuclear community tremendously improves the prospects of the nuclear power sector, it could take at least three years to see any real impact in terms of return on investment in the sector.
Last September India and the Untied States signed an agreement on nuclear energy cooperation that also allowed the 40-member Nuclear Suppliers Group countries to enter into nuclear trade with India, for civilian nuclear use.
The deal lifted a 35-year-old ban on India sourcing nuclear technology and fuel, imposed after the country conducted nuclear weapon tests in May, 1974. It also made India the only country to be allowed to develop and generate nuclear power for civilian use without committing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
As a corollary, India also gained access to U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time in more than 30 years.
The deal boosted the hopes of India’s starving energy sector. Within days of the NSG waiver, estimating a US$50 billion nuclear commerce market in the next five years, close to 40 local and global companies in the private and public sectors announced plans to participate in India’s nuclear power build-up.
They estimated that nuclear power would feature prominently in the US$150 billion power infrastructure investment India required over the next five years to sustain its economic growth.
India is not a nuclear novice. It already has 17 nuclear power plants, with six more under construction. But since the country was largely excluded from trade in nuclear plants or materials, despite generating nuclear power for 30 years, its technology and know-how are not up to date.
For instance, despite having the world’s second-largest reserves of thorium, a nuclear fuel, India's power plants are all based on uranium, a nuclear fuel and technology available only in the developed world, which had helped India build nuclear power plants before its nuclear weapon tests.
India's nuclear power generation amounted to just 3 percent of its total power generation capacity of 140 gigawatts in 2007-08. Plants in various stages of construction will add another 3.2 GW of capacity, bringing total installed nuclear capacity to 7.3 GW by 2012.
According to estimates by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, a local industry lobby, the deal could have helped India add another 40,000 megawatts of power in the next 15 years.
“Clearly, at least on paper, the opportunities are huge,” said Sumeet Agrawal, the India-based analyst at HSBC Securities and Capital Markets. “However, we don’t expect opportunities for utility companies to materialize soon due to many impediments including regulatory, safety and ownership issues.
“Despite initial optimism, it is too early to get excited about private sector participation,” he added.
The biggest impediment to India’s nuclear power plan is the changing dynamics of the sector; following the global economic meltdown, nuclear power in India has suddenly lost much of its attraction as a cost-effective way of generating power.
“What has happened since September 2008 hasn’t eliminated the advantages of nuclear power, but they have been compromised to a large extent,” said the HSBC study.
The study says that nuclear power generation is only competitive when the costs of fossil fuels – coal and gas – are high. The global meltdown that has made energy prices crash has made coal and gas more attractive in India. According to HSBC figures, the costs of gas and coal power generation in India have come down to 6.12 cents and 4.2 cents per kilowatt respectively.
“Further nuclear plants require high capital costs and have long gestation periods. This requires long-term funding and at reasonable rates of interest, both of which seem difficult if not improbable in today's money markets,” says Sanjeev Nayyar, a current affairs analyst who runs his own consulting firm.
Lack of clarity in Indian policies for private-sector participation is the other issue bothering analysts. India’s Atomic Energy Act 1962 prohibits private-sector players from setting up nuclear power stations. The act also restricts the nuclear generation business to government-owned companies.
“For the private sector to set up independent plants, the act will have to be amended, which may be a time-consuming exercise, especially with the general elections round the corner,” said the HSBC study.
Besides, private companies’ lack of experience in dealing with radioactive waste and technologies critical for national security could also become a serious issue.
“More importantly, is the government of India willing to change its mindset and trust the private sector with generation of nuclear power and dealing with radioactive waste?” asked Nayyar. “While some political parties in India may do so, it seems very difficult if a Third Front (leftist dominated) government comes to power. They could justify their stand by stating that countries like France, Russia and the U.S. allow foreign companies in the private sector to have minority stakes only.”
Given India’s current heavy dependence on fossil fuels, HSBC feels that nuclear power still makes sense in the long run, since it will enable the country to diversify the energy mix and help it to manage overall carbon emissions.
According to other studies, if coal-based power, which accounts for nearly 75 percent of India’s current generation, is allowed to continue to dominate until 2030, India would deplete its coal reserves completely in 48 years instead of the 100 years it is now expected to last.
Nuclear power scores over fossil fuels due to volatile prices. Moreover, nuclear scores over most fossil fuel technology when there are explicit costs associated with reducing emissions, said the HSBC study.
Available at: http://www.upiasia.com/Economics/2009/04/13/setbacks_in_indias_nuclear_power_plans/7629/
Sweden's ambassador to India, Lars-Olof Lindgren, is leading an industrial delegation to India to discuss nuclear risk management.
Sweden is already a leader in providing nuclear risk-management services and has shown interest in cooperating with India on nuclear power, the Hindustan Times reports.
Swedish companies like Sandvik, Sweco, SKB International AB and Relcon Scandpower AB will join France's Areva and U.S.-based Westinghouse and General Electric Co. on the list of international companies interested in investing in India's nuclear-power industry.
Areva and GE Hitachi will supply nuclear reactors to India, and now the Swedish companies will offer engineering and construction services as well as risk management, nuclear-waste disposal management, and research and development.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Energy_Resources/2009/04/13/Sweden-wants-in-on-Indias-nuclear/UPI-51071239662655/
The Russian company Atomenergoprom says the first batch of uranium pellets has been delivered to India as part of an international fuel supply deal.
The Russian civil nuclear industry company said in a statement that as per the long-term fuel agreement between India and Russia, a large batch of uranium dioxide pellets were sent to the Nuclear Fuel Complex in the Indian city of Hyderabad, the Press Trust of India said Friday.
"Thirty metric tons of pellets have been delivered to Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex for the production of fuel for 'Rajasthan' NPP," Atomenergoprom said of the nuclear power plant delivery.
The TVEL Corporation in Russia reached the $700 million fuel supply agreement with India's Department of Atomic Energy in February.
The uranium pellets being supplied by the Russian company will be used by India to fuel pressurized heavy water reactors, the Press Trust said.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/10/Russia-makes-first-Indian-uranium-delivery/UPI-92191239390210/
1. Taiwan Energy Debate to Pit President Ma Against Nuclear Power Opponents
(for personal use only)
Taiwan will debate ending an eight- year ban on new nuclear reactors to help curb emissions from electricity generation, potentially pitting President Ma Ying- jeou against critics who say atomic power is too dangerous.
“How we’re going to deal with nuclear energy is up for discussion,” Yeh Huey-ching, head of Taiwan’s energy bureau, said on April 7 in Taipei. A two-day state conference on energy starting tomorrow will bring together 205 government officials, scholars, executives and environmentalists and resolutions will be adopted as government policy.
Taiwan’s biggest power company favors building more reactors to help meet Ma’s pledge of cutting carbon emissions, reflecting the global resurgence of nuclear energy in countries from China to the U.S. Opponents say the risk of accidents from earthquakes and radioactive leaks is unacceptable.
“Nuclear power is an inevitable option because we want to cut carbon emissions,” Tu Yueh-yuan, chief engineer of state- run Taiwan Power Co., said on April 2. The company has room to add as many as 10 reactors at its existing nuclear power plants, she said. To authorize that, Ma would have to reverse a decision by his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian.
Chen’s government said in February 2001 the island will eventually end the use of atomic energy after nuclear plants in operation and one under construction are retired.
Ma, who took office last May, has pledged to cut carbon emissions to 2000 levels by 2025.
“So far there’s no reliable way to handle nuclear waste,” said Wang To-far, a former lawmaker who plans to attend the policy conference. “Using nuclear power may also slow the development of renewable energy.”
Taipower, as the island’s biggest electricity producer is known, operates six reactors and is building two more. Six of these are in the Taipei county, home to 17 percent of the island’s 23 million residents.
Atomic reactors provided 26 percent of Taiwan’s electricity in February, coal-fired generators 45 percent, while gas-fired stations supplied 18 percent, according to Taipower’s Web site. The balance comes mainly from oil, hydropower and wind turbines.
Taiwan sits along faults between the Philippine Sea and Eurasian Continental tectonic plates where quakes occur as the plates push together, spurring concern over safety of nuclear power plants. In September 1999, a temblor centered 150 kilometers south-southwest of Taipei killed 2,500 people.
“Taiwan’s demographics make nuclear a very dangerous proposition,” said Robin Winkler, a Taipei-based lawyer and former member of Taiwan’s environmental impact assessment commission. “If the issues of safety and waste could be solved, I could consider nuclear as an option, but to date, whether Taiwan or anywhere else, those issues haven’t been resolved.”
In Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Co. indefinitely shut the world’s biggest atomic station after an earthquake caused radiation leaks and a fire in July 2007. In August 2004, five workers were killed by a steam leak at a plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Co.
Taipower stores spent fuel rods at its plants, including the No. 3 nuclear power station, six kilometers (3.7 miles) from the beachside town of Hengchun on the island’s south. Less radioactive waste is kept on Orchid Island off the southeastern coast, where residents’ protests have forced the utility to search for a new dump site.
Taiwan should develop renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, instead of nuclear reactors, to help reduce carbon emissions, said conference delegate Wang.
Discussions at the conference will cover renewable power, prices and an energy tax, the energy bureau’s Yeh said. The government wants renewable energy to account for 15 percent of Taiwan’s electricity generation capacity by 2025, from 8 percent now, he said.
Available at: http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=919458&lang=eng_news&cate_img=83.jpg&cate_rss=news_Politics_TAIWAN
2. Pak to Construct Two Nuclear Power Plants With Chinese Help
Rezaul H Laskar
Press Trust of India
(for personal use only)
Pakistan has given a go ahead for construction of two more nuclear power plants of 340 MW each with the Chinese help at the Chashma complex at a cost of USD 2.37 billion, a media report said today.
The two plants, to be supplied by China, will involve a foreign exchange component of USD 1.75 billion, the Business Recorder newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
The government has approved the proposal, but it was not made part of the formal agenda of a recent meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council and was distributed among members of the panel and provincial officials at the end of the meeting without necessary details, the sources were quoted as saying.
"Please do not seek any details and clarification about the project. Approve it in the national interest," one official reportedly told the committee's meeting.
China had agreed in principle to provide two nuclear power plants to help meet Pakistan's growing electricity needs and was about to sign an agreement during a visit by the Chinese President to Islamabad.
However, China shelved the project after the issue was reported in the media, arguing that it would not indulge in any controversy, sources said.
Available at: http://www.ptinews.com/pti/ptisite.nsf/0/EF57F9253CE2E38F65257597002940DB?OpenDocument
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