China insisted on Thursday that six-party disarmament talks remain the way to defuse conflict over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, despite Pyongyang abandoning the process and expelling U.N. inspectors.
Beijing appears set on acting in public as if North Korea has not dismissed the talks as "useless", announced it would never return to the table and said it would restart a plant that makes bomb-grade plutonium.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu instead repeated her government's call for calm and said a "consensus" still exists among the negotiating powers.
"We hope that all sides will exercise calm and restraint and be far-sighted in paying attention to the big picture, together striving to advance the six-party talks process," Jiang told a regular news conference.
China's unwavering approach appears aimed at eventually coaxing Pyongyang back to negotiations, but not all the six-party powers were so unruffled.
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors left North Korea on Thursday after Pyongyang told them to leave the Yongbyon complex, which can make plutonium, the material used by North Korea in its first and only nuclear test blast in 2006.
"Naturally, this evokes disappointment although these actions were not a surprise -- the North Korean side had warned of such a possibility," said Grigory Logvinov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's envoy for special affairs, according to Interfax news agency.
Beijing's handling of impoverished North Korea has wobbled in past days, suggesting policy makers did not anticipate the full force of Pyongyang's anger.
China backed a U.N. Security Council statement on Monday condemning North Korea for launching a rocket on April 5 that other powers said violated an earlier resolution. Until that statement Beijing had avoided open criticism, instead suggesting it was a legitimate satellite launch.
Since then China has avoided joining other powers in publicly criticising North Korea's even more vehement response.
"We generally like to handle problems under the table, rather than applying public pressure," said Xu Guangyu, a former Chinese military officer who now works in the government-backed China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
"It's a difficult situation, but I think China will remain restrained and low-key... China will wait until the United States has a new proposal on the table."
The six-party talks bring together North and South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, and from their start in 2003 they have been a proud display of Beijing's growing diplomatic stature.
Washington has also said it remains committed to the talks, which sealed an earlier deal whereby North Korea agreed to "disable" its Yongbyon nuclear plant in return for energy aid.
South Korea on Thursday also urged the North to return to the table.
"We have suggested through the presidential statement of the U.N. Security Council that North Korea come to the table of the 6-party talks to discuss the problem," South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told reporters after meeting his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo.
But North Korea may continue using its nuclear capabilities to test the other powers in coming months, said a nuclear expert at a South Korean government-affiliated think tank, who asked not be named due to the sensitive subject matter.
"North Korea can reverse the disablement steps slowly and deliberately to take full advantage of each move to add to its leverage in the negotiating process," he said.
"I believe the reprocessing facilities can be fully restored in three to six months," he said. "But it would take about a year to restore the reactor."
Other experts have said it would also take the North a year at least to make enough new fuel rods to restart the dilapidated Yongbyon reactor.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKSP42338020090416?sp=true
2. Expelled UN Nuclear Inspectors Leave North Korea
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U.N. nuclear experts left North Korea on Thursday after the communist regime ordered their expulsion amid an escalating standoff over the regime's recent rocket launch.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency left the main site in Yongbyon north of Pyongyang after removing all seals and switching off surveillance cameras, IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said in a statement.
They arrived in Beijing on a flight Thursday, but declined to speak to reporters.
Four U.S. experts monitoring the nuclear plant in Yongbyon were also preparing to depart after North Korea ordered them out, the State Department said. A small group of experts have been rotating into Yongbyon since November 2007.
U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said their departure would be "a step backward."
The expulsions come after the U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's April 5 rocket launch as a violation of previous resolutions barring the North from ballistic missile-related activity. The U.S., Japan and other nations have accused North Korea of using the launch to test long-range missile technology since the delivery systems for sending satellites and missiles are similar.
North Korea, which claims the right to develop a space program, said it launched a satellite into orbit and reacted furiously to the U.N. censure by vowing to boycott international disarmament talks and restart its nuclear program.
China, which is Pyongyang's only major ally but backed the U.N. rebuke, urged calm and restraint.
"We hope all parties could proceed from the long-term and overall interest, exert calmness and restraint and properly handle relevant issues so as to devote themselves to safeguarding the six-party talks," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
Russian special envoy Grigory Logvinov called the North's move "disappointing," but held out hope for the resumption of nuclear talks.
"We believe that there is a chance to return to the negotiating table — nobody has burned bridges and the door has not been slammed shut," Logvinov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Russia's chief nuclear envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin, has getting the talks back on track is the "most important task," according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in 2006 but later agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in return for shipments of fuel oil under a 2007 deal reached with China, Russia, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. The process has been stalled since last year by a dispute over how to verify North Korea's past nuclear activities.
North Koreans, meanwhile, were basking in a two-day holiday celebrating the April 15 birthday of late founder Kim Il Sung.
Kim and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il, are the focus of an intense personality cult in the nation of 24 million people.
APTN in Pyongyang broadcast footage of Kim Jong Il making a rare public appearance for the holiday by joining North Koreans for a celebratory display of fireworks Tuesday night on the eve of his father's birthday.
Kim waved to the crowd of cheering citizens gathered for the fireworks in central Pyongyang.
Kim, 67, made no major public appearance for months after reportedly suffering a stroke last August. He presided over the first session of the new parliament last week — his first state event since last year — in a closely watched appearance.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5bCbd3G8qFoX7H4TvQbUWvBQ08QD97JGSMG0
The United States is trying to balance punitive actions against North Korea while encouraging the country to resume nuclear disarmament talks, officials said.
While the Obama administration Thursday proposed imposing U.N. financial sanctions on 11 companies it says are involved in Pyongyang's trade in ballistic missile technology, aides also were saying North Korea should return to talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, The Washington Post said.
North Korea expelled international inspectors and said it would restart its nuclear facilities in reaction to the U.N. resolution condemning the North's rocket launch this month. North Korean leaders also walked away from the so-called six-party talks on dismantling its nuclear program involving the Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration is "anxious for the North Koreans to come back to the table, the same place where in September 2005 they made an agreement to dismantle their nuclear program."
In New York, The United States Wednesday gave a U.N. sanctions committee a list of companies officials say helped North Korea buy and sell ballistic missile equipment in violation of U.N. resolutions, the Post said. The Security Council instructed the sanctions committee to reach agreement on a list of firms by April 24. If the committee cannot reach an agreement, the Security Council indicated it will try to approve the list by April 30.
Available at: http://www.upiasia.com/Top_News/2009/04/16/Obama-seeks-balanced-reaction-to-N-Korea/UPI-72401239881020/
Amid rising tensions with North Korea, South Korea has delayed a widely expected announcement that it will join a US-led initiative to curb trade in weapons of mass destruction.
The announcement that Seoul would join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was originally set for Wednesday.
North Korea, a leading exporter of missiles in recent years, has warned that Seoul's participation would be tantamount to a declaration of a war.
Media reports and an aide said President Lee Myung-Bak has grown cautious about the issue, following Pyongyang's furious response to a UN Security Council statement censuring its April 5 rocket launch.
The North has announced it is quitting six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and will restart the plants which produce weapons-grade plutonium.
"President Lee's underlying attitude is to be cautious when handling the sensitive PSI issue," an aide told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The aide refused to elaborate on why the announcement was postponed or whether Seoul has changed its decision to play a full part in the PSI.
Under previous governments Seoul was only an observer in the drill aimed at stopping ships and aircraft, for fear of souring relations with its communist neighbour.
DongA Ilbo newspaper, quoting a presidential source, said Lee had questioned if this was the right time for the announcement.
"The government has not changed its decision to participate in the PSI. President Lee just wants to choose the date of the announcement more carefully," the source said.
Chosun Ilbo newspaper said hawks from the foreign ministry want an early announcement, while doves -- mainly from the unification ministry, which handles cross-border relations -- want a postponement.
Wednesday was the North's biggest holiday, the 97th anniversary of its founder's birth.
The fate of a South Korean worker detained since March 30 at the Seoul-funded Kaesong industrial estate could also complicate the issue.
The North claims he criticised its regime and tried to persuade a local woman worker to defect, but has blocked access to the employee.
Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan has repeatedly said Seoul will play a full part in PSI. His deputies say Seoul is consulting other countries.
China suggested Wednesday the time was not right for Seoul to sign up.
"The current situation is already too complex and China doesn't want it to become further complicated," its ambassador to Seoul, Cheng Yonghua, told a lecture when asked how Beijing views Seoul's move to join the PSI.
"We hope for respective parties to maintain positive and active attitudes and believe that tension should not be heightened," Yonhap news agency quoted Cheng as saying.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5giFe_6XTonBAsQAmW9TZ568LCoVQ
1. Gates Warns Against Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuclear Facilities
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)
Amid increasing suggestions that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned this week that such a strike would have dangerous consequences, and asserted that Tehran's acquisition of a bomb can be prevented only if "Iranians themselves decide it's too costly."
Using his strongest language on the subject to date, Gates told a group of Marine Corps students that a strike would probably delay Tehran's nuclear program from one to three years. A strike, however, would unify Iran, "cement their determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them," he said.
Israeli officials fear that the Islamic Republic may gain the know-how to build a bomb as early as this year. Several of them have warned that Israel could strike first to eliminate what it considers an existential threat.
Iran responded this week to the Israeli declarations, asking the United Nations to intervene to stop the threats.
Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, sent a letter Tuesday to the president of the U.N. Security Council denouncing "unlawful and insolent" threats of an attack. He said the threats violated international law and the U.N. Charter, and urged the organization to respond.
Israeli officials would probably seek the cooperation and approval of their American allies before carrying out any such strike, experts say.
One reason is that Israelis may want U.S. clearance to fly over Iraq, and possibly help with aircraft refueling or other aspects of the operation. In addition, a strike could set off retaliatory Iranian attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, straining relations between the two allies.
Though the Obama administration has not ruled out the use of military force, several officials have indicated strong opposition to using it. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden said Israel's new conservative prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, would be "ill advised" to launch a strike.
Shimon Peres, Israel's president, said in an interview with Israel's Kol Hai Radio on Sunday that Israel would attack if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn't drop his plans for the nuclear program.
"We'll strike him," Peres said in the interview.
Netanyahu has also hinted at the possibility of an Israeli attack, describing the Iranian program as an "existential threat."
Obama administration officials are exploring whether they can convince Tehran through negotiations to give up its nuclear ambitions. Officials have said they are ready to try to intensify economic and political sanctions on Iran if diplomacy doesn't work.
Gates told students at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., that while President Obama "needs the full range of options," in his view "we need to look at every way we can to increase the cost of that program to them, whether it's through economic sanctions or other things."
The Defense secretary said other nations need to put more emphasis on arguments that a bomb would diminish rather than improve Iran's security, "particularly if it launches an arms race in the Middle East."
Gates' comments were delivered on Monday and first reported by the Army Times newspaper. A Defense official confirmed their accuracy.
The comments by Gates and Biden suggest that in their private conversations, U.S. officials are discouraging such a course, even though officials say they would never deny Israel's right to act in self-defense.
Available at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-iran16-2009apr16,0,5208507.story
2. France: Iran Must Freeze Nuke Work During Talks
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France insisted Wednesday that Iran must suspend "sensitive" nuclear work during any talks with the international community on its disputed atomic programme.
France's reiteration of its tough line came after the United States was forced to deny reports that it was ready to soften its own stance and open negotiations without Tehran first halting uranium enrichment.
A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said that France stood by the proposition made to Tehran in 2007 by the six-nation Iran contact group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States.
Under this initiative, Tehran would halt all nuclear activity beyond its civilian site in Bushehr, including all uranium enrichment, while the contact group would in exchange promise not to seek new UN economic sanctions.
During the limited period of this so-called "double freeze", Tehran and the contact group could begin substantial negotiations on the future of Iran's nuclear programme, spokesman Romain Nadal said.
Like the United States, Nadal said, France was open to a "dialogue" with Iran at any time to improve relations, but said formal talks on the nuclear programme could only go ahead under the conditions of the 2007 offer.
On Tuesday the US press reported that President Barack Obama was preparing to change tack and open talks with Tehran without a prior enrichment freeze. The White House denied the reports.
Western powers fear that Tehran's nuclear programme is aimed at building an atomic bomb, but Iran insists that it merely seeks to produce peaceful civilian energy.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hm5qqUVPzsV7P1B9HT-IA--rq8lg
3. Iran Preparing New Proposals for Nuclear Dispute
Ali Akbar Dareini
(for personal use only)
Iran's president said Wednesday he is willing to forget the past and build a new relationship with the United States, adding that he is preparing a new package of proposals aimed at breaking the impasse with the West over his country's nuclear program.
The remarks by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to thousands in the southeastern city of Kerman took a conciliatory tone not usually heard in his speeches.
"The Iranian nation is a generous nation. It may forget the past and start a new era, but any country speaking on the basis of selfishness will get the same response the Iranian nation gave to Mr. Bush," Ahmadinejad said.
He spoke a day after the Obama administration said its immediate goal is to get Iran back to the negotiating table. Though the U.S. government declined to publicly discuss possible new strategies for dealing with Tehran on the nuclear issue, one senior official said they could involve allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium at its current level for some time.
That concession was agreed two years ago by the U.S. and five other powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. But they still want to wrest a commitment from Iran not to increase enrichment while arranging formal negotiations on a permanent nuclear agreement.
Ahmadinejad said "circumstances have changed" — an apparent reference to President Barack Obama's election and Iran's own progress in its nuclear program since talks with the world powers last year.
Iran says it now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel — from extracting uranium ore to enriching it and producing nuclear fuel. On Thursday, the country inaugurated a new nuclear facility producing uranium fuel pellets for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor — the final step in the long, sophisticated nuclear fuel cycle.
Ahmadinejad said Iran welcomes dialogue with the world powers provided that it is based on justice and respect, suggesting the West should not try to force it to halt its uranium enrichment program.
"Today we are preparing a new package. Once it becomes ready, we will present that package (to you)," the president said. "It is a package that constitutes peace and justice throughout the globe and also respects other nations' rights."
He was responding to the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia whose representatives said last week that they will invite Iran for new talks over its nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad boasted that Iran's resistance and progress in nuclear technology has forced Washington to retreat from its position.
"You know well that today you are suffering from weaknesses. You have no choice. You can't make any progress through bullying policies. I advise you to change and correct your tone and respect other nations' rights," he said.
Uranium enrichment can be used to produce fuel for both energy or nuclear weapons. The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Tehran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. But oil-rich Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jG7bnyWWJfgaYD-JwcqmImlpRujwD97ISGRO3
1. Pakistan Calls for Equitable Approach to Accomplish Nuclear Disarmament
Associated Press of Pakistan
(for personal use only)
Underscoring the need for total elimination of nuclear weapons, Pakistan told a UN panel Wednesday that the objective should be achieved through an equitable approach and genuine empathy for the security concerns of all states.
“At the same time”, Ambassador Farukh Amil said, “we have to avoid discriminatory application of non-proliferation norms and the resort to military and coercive means to counter proliferation”.
Amil, the acting permanent representative, said the cherished goal of “equal security for all”, as advocated by the 1978 landmark Special Session of the General Assembly, had been eclipsed by unilateralism, narrow geographical groupings and inadequate attention to developing country security concerns.
While there had been signs of improvement, more work was needed, he said in a debate in the Disarmament Commission.
Nuclear weapons continued to occupy a central place in military doctrines, and it was important to remember that the goal of their total elimination should not be ‘relegated to the sidelines’.
At the same time, the Pakistan delegate urged avoiding discriminatory application of non-proliferation norms and the resort to military and coercive means to counter proliferation.
Ambassador Amil said Pakistan’s proposal for convening a special international conference to create a ‘new consensus’ on disarmament and non-proliferation stemmed from a desire to see a regime that was in line with realities on the ground.
Such a consensus would be worthwhile only if it revived commitments by all possessor States to bring about complete, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament; made non-proliferation norms non-discriminatory; normalized the NPT relationship with non-NPT nuclear-weapon States; eliminated vertical proliferation; ensured fulfilment of every State’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy; and addressed the question of missiles in all respects.
The Pakistan delegate said it should also prevent the militarization of outer space; curb the numerical and technological escalation in conventional capabilities; ensure full implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons; rejuvenate the United Nations disarmament machinery; and address the question of fissile material on the basis of the Shannon mandate and the ‘Five Ambassadors’ (A-5) proposal for a universal non-discriminatory multilateral treaty.
Genuine international security could only be ensured by a holistic approach wherein major Powers eschewed ‘picking and choosing’ per national agendas and convenience, he said.
While regional approaches to security questions could strengthen global efforts, such initiatives could be hamstrung by procedural difficulties. He urged delegations to remember that the solution to global security concerns lay in strengthening the United Nations disarmament machinery.
Available at: http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=73703&Itemid=1
Kenya has signed a deal with the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration to partner on countering nuclear proliferation.
The NNSA, an agency in the Department of Energy, announced the Kenyan Ministry of Transport has agreed to upgrade the Port of Mombasa's infrastructure with next-generation radiation-detection equipment.
The Port of Mombasa nuclear non-proliferation infrastructure upgrade is part of the NNSA's ongoing Megaports Initiative. With the radiation-detection equipment installation, the Port of Mombasa joins 20 other major international ports taking steps to combat illicit nuclear trafficking.
"The Port of Mombasa is a major cargo-container hub in Africa and a strategic transit point in the international maritime trading system," Ken Baker, NNSA principal assistant deputy administrator for defense nuclear non-proliferation, said in a statement.
"NNSA appreciates the Republic of Kenya's partnership in our efforts to prevent the smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials."
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2009/04/15/Port-of-Mombasa-to-counter-nuke-threats/UPI-96041239818328/
3. Russia Offers India Role in Uranium Enrichment Project
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Russia is reported to have offered India the option of participating in a uranium enrichment project that would produce only low-enriched uranium and cannot be diverted for building nuclear weapons. Participation in the International Uranium Enrichment Centre (IUEC) at Angarsk, Siberia will, however, help the country secure guaranteed fuel supplies in the future.
The offer has been made at an investment summit with a visiting Indian delegation to Russia, headed by the Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar, on 9 April, reports said.
The offer of investment possibilities for India in the IUEC, which is being set up under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision, will boost India's energy security efforts, sources said.
The investment offer was made in lieu of India paying for nuclear fuel to be supplied to the Russia-built Koodankulam light water reactor units and to existing Indian pressurised heavy water reactor units that are to be fuelled by Russian firm TVEL under a bilateral pact.
The enrichment centre is being set up in collaboration with countries such as Kazakhstan, under the supervision of the nuclear watchdog, at the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant in Eastern Siberia.
The participation by India in the project, director of Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant Alexander Belousovhe said, would tackle the problem of guaranteed nuclear fuel supplies to Indian nuclear sector, according to sources.
The two sides have also discussed proposals regarding joint fundamental research, reports said, adding, chairman and MD of Nuclear Power Corporation SK Jain and Uranium Corporation of India chief R Gupta were also part of the Indian delegation.
Available at: http://www.domain-b.com/industry/power/20090415_uranium_enrichment_project.html
4. Turkey Pushes for Nuclear Arms-Free Middle East
Paul de Bendern
(for personal use only)
Turkish President Abdullah Gul called on Wednesday for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, hoping that a U.S.-Russian pledge to join forces to eradicate nuclear weapons will encourage the region.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have pledged to seek a deal by July on cutting their nuclear arsenals, work for a nuclear-free world and coordinate policy on Iran and North Korea.
Gul, in a speech to Bahrain's parliament, said: "The Middle East should be a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
"We are going through times where hopes for multilateral diplomacy to weigh in once again are on the rise. That is why I take the new U.S. administration's statements on disarmament and the joint statement by presidents Obama and Medvedev early this month very seriously."
Obama visited Turkey in early April and held talks with Gul.
Gul called on all countries in the Middle East to sign up to international arrangements for the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea also have declared nuclear weapons. Israel is widely understood to have a nuclear arsenal but maintains a policy of ambiguity.
Iran is suspected by Western powers of wanting to join the club. Tehran says its nuclear program is only to generate electricity. There is concern that Iran's nuclear power program will spur a proliferation drive in the Middle East.
Gul and the Turkish government under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have relaunched a push to help solve regional conflicts ranging from Iran to Israel-Syria peace talks.
Turkey has also offered to help end the standoff between the West and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.
"Turkey has always pointed out that any solution to the issue of the Iranian nuclear program should be found through diplomacy and peaceful means," Gul said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday Iran had prepared a package to resolve its nuclear dispute.
He was speaking after the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said they would ask European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to invite Iran to a meeting to find "a diplomatic solution to this critical issue."
It marked a shift in U.S. policy under Obama, whose predecessor George W. Bush shunned direct talks with Tehran as long as it pressed ahead with its nuclear activity.
Ahmadinejad did not give details about the package, which he said would be presented to the West soon.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE53E2IZ20090415
1. Rosatom Plans to Commission Reactor No 1 of Baltic NPP in 2016 – Kiriyenko
Itar-Tass News Agency
(for personal use only)
The Russian Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) plans to commission the first power unit of the Baltic nuclear power plant in 2016, Rosatom Director General Sergei Kiriyenko said on Wednesday at a conference on the development of Russia’s atomic energy industry.
“The Baltic nuclear power plant that will be built in the Kaliningrad region was not envisaged by the General Plan. However, we coordinated this issue with the Russian Energy Ministry in compliance with the governmental instructions,” he said, adding, “Currently, we have reached a certain decision.”
“This region needs electricity. Its demands are colossal due to the shutdown of the Ignalina nuclear power plant [the only NPP in the Baltic region – Itar-Tass],” Kiriyenko said.
“Poland has expressed intention to build a nuclear power plant, and our closest partner Belarus has similar plans,” he said.
“However, the Baltic NPP in the Kaliningrad region is of paramount importance to us,” Kiriyenko said. “At present, our crucial task is to include the construction of that nuclear power plant into the General Plan and to reallocate the funds, which we have already received.”
In his words, Rosatom does not ask additional monies for the construction of the Baltic nuclear power plant, “because the government chartered the agency to introduce a new model for drawing direct investments, including foreign and private, for the first time in the history of the country.”
As a result, the state will hold a 51-percent stake in the new NPP and 49 percent will belong to private investors, including foreign ones, Kiriyenko explained.
“Currently, we plan to set the task of commissioning the first unit of the Baltic NPP in 2016,” the Rosatom director general said.
Available at: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=13836043&PageNum=0
2. Russia to Allocate $1.5 Billion for State Nuclear Corp. – Putin
(for personal use only)
The Russian government will allocate 50 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) in additional capitalization for state nuclear corporation Rosatom, the prime minister said on Wednesday.
Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko asked for the assistance earlier in the day.
"I believe it is possible to support the application of the Energy Ministry and Rosatom for the additional capitalization of the corporation to the tune of 50 billion rubles," Vladimir Putin said.
Putin said nuclear power plants should generate 25%-30% of Russia's electricity and pledged more allocations to the corporation, despite the ongoing economic crisis. He said 26 nuclear reactors were to be built to reach this target.
"These are difficult, but realistic tasks," Putin told a conference devoted to the nuclear power sector.
Putin said the investment program at Energoatom, a subsidiary of the Atomenergoprom holding that oversees Russia's civil nuclear industry, stood at over 160 billion rubles ($4.8 billion) this year, including 73.3 billion (about $2.2 billion) in state funds.
The company currently operates 10 nuclear power plants with a total of 31 reactors.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090415/121134770.html
1. Iberdrola Eyes Energy Projects in Bulgaria-Govt
(for personal use only)
Spanish utility Iberdrola (IBE.MC) has expressed interest in investing in nuclear and renewable energy projects in Bulgaria, the government in Sofia said on Thursday.
Iberdrola is considering nuclear projects together with U.S. Westinghouse, which is modernising the Balkan country's sole nuclear power plant Kozloduy, the government said after senior Iberdrola officials met the Bulgarian prime minister on Wednesday.
The government's statement did not give other details.
The Socialist-led cabinet has been studying an option of inviting investors to build new reactors at the Kozloduy site on the Danube to restore its position of a leading power exporter in the Balkans and meet growing domestic demand.
Bulgaria had permanently shut four older Soviet-era reactors at Kozloduy in the past few years as a condition of joining the European Union in early 2007.
Kozloduy now has two remaining reactors.
Bulgaria and German power utility RWE (RWEG.DE) plan to build a new 2,000 megawatt nuclear power plant at Belene in northern Bulgaria, expected to come online after 2014.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKLG391020090416
The government has released a list of 11 sites in England and Wales where new nuclear power stations could be built.
The locations were nominated by companies interested in building the stations, and the government has given its initial approval to the sites.
Nine of the locations have previously had nuclear reactors, and the other two are close to Sellafield in Cumbria.
A month-long public consultation period now commences. The government wants the first reactors operational by 2018.
The nomination and approval process did not involve sites in Scotland or Northern Ireland because planning is a devolved issue.
The Scottish government opposes building new nuclear power stations.
But the UK government maintains it is necessary to close a looming "generation gap" because many existing nuclear and coal-fired stations are set to shut down.
"This is another important step towards a new generation of nuclear power stations," Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said.
"I want to listen to what people have to say about these nominations and I encourage people to log on to our website, read the information and let us have their comments."
The sites were nominated by the companies EDF, E.On and RWE, and by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which owns the sites of the UK's older generation of Magnox reactors, many of which have ceased operating.
The NDA is currently auctioning land on these sites, with EDF and E.On among the bidders.
By 2018, the Magnox fleet and most of the newer advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) will have come out of service, leaving the UK with just four operational nuclear stations.
Reasons why companies have nominated sites with existing nuclear capacity include the presence of grid connections and a community used to living with nuclear stations and the employment they provide.
In Anglesey, where the existing Wylfa station is scheduled to close next year, the council is actively lobbying for a replacement.
But in Oldbury in South Gloucestershire, a survey two years ago showed a majority of people wanted the site returned to nature rather than used for new generation capacity.
The two proposed locations that were not involved in the Magnox or AGR programmes are Kirksanton and Braystones, both close to Sellafield in Cumbria, which has the longest nuclear history of any UK community.
Many environmental groups remain unconvinced that the UK needs a nuclear renaissance.
"We believe the government must make the right efforts to pursue a low-carbon economy, and we believe nuclear doesn't have a role in that - in fact, it's a big obstacle," said Nathan Argent, head of Greenpeace's anti-nuclear campaign.
"We will continue to lobby the government to meet its legally binding targets on renewables, and to make sure it gets an energy efficiency programme up and running, which also has major potential for job creation," he told BBC News.
After the month-long public consultation, the government will publish a draft nuclear National Policy Statement (NPS) in the late summer or early autumn.
The NPS should be finalised next year. Part of its aim is to remove the scope for campaigners to prolong public enquiries by raising questions over the safety of, or need for, nuclear power.
Companies wanting to pursue new build will still have to take their plans through an application process run by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, a new government agency that will begin operations later this year.
Industry sources suggest the number of new stations constructed in the first tranche is likely to be substantially fewer than 11.
Building five, with two reactors apiece, is suggested as a likely scenario to meet the immediate target of replenishing the nuclear portfolio.
However, if the government decides to follow the low-carbon roadmap that its Committee on Climate Change published in December, this initial set of new stations will be the first of several.
The committee wants low-carbon electricity to power a substantial proportion of transport, including 40% of new cars sold by 2020, and to provide some of the space heating currently fuelled by burning gas and coal.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7999471.stm
3. Denison to Sell 20% Stake, Uranium to Korea Electric
Christopher Donville and Rob Delaney
(for personal use only)
Denison Mines Corp., a Canadian uranium producer, agreed to sell a 19.9 percent stake in the company to Korea Electric Power Corp. for C$75.4 million ($62.1 million) and supply the utility with uranium until 2015.
Korea Electric will buy about 58 million Denison shares for C$1.30 each, equal to yesterday’s closing price, Denison said in a statement. The agreement requires the Toronto-based mining company to sell as much as 690,000 pounds of enriched uranium a year to the state-controlled utility starting in 2010.
Seoul-based Korea Electric and other power companies in Asia are stepping up efforts to lock in supplies of uranium, the raw material in nuclear reactor fuel, amid concern about future shortages. China is urging its companies to acquire foreign supplies of uranium reserves as the country expands its nuclear- generating capacity, an official of China’s National Energy Administration said last month.
“There’s tremendous interest in Asia to build up uranium stockpiles,” George Topping, an analyst at Blackmont Capital in Toronto, said today in a telephone interview. “They want guaranteed delivery, not risky, early-stage uranium exploration.”
Korea Electric, South Korea’s largest utility, will have the right to appoint two directors to Denison’s board. Today’s agreement also allows parties nominated by Denison Chairman Lukas Lundin to buy an additional 15 million shares for C$19.5 million, Denison said in the statement.
The deal came together after initial talks in early March at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto, said Ron Hochstein, Denison’s chief operating officer.
Denison, which produces uranium in Canada and the U.S., has struggled to meet production targets, Topping said. Last month Denison said it temporarily idled two of its U.S. mines as the price of uranium for immediate delivery fell. Denison, which halted output at two other U.S. mines late last year, was in danger of breaching its debt covenants, Chief Executive Officer Peter Farmer said on a March 19 conference call with analysts.
“Denison has disappointed in terms of its ability to ramp up U.S. production,” Topping said. “Denison has over-promised and under-delivered.”
Hochstein said today in an interview from Toronto that the company’s days of “overly optimistic” production forecasts are a thing of the past.
“The company has changed, and we have learned from our experiences,” Hochstein said by phone.
Farmer, who is stepping down effective April 30, wasn’t immediately available to comment.
Denison gained 21 cents, or 16 percent, to C$1.51 at 4:15 p.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have risen 3.4 percent this year.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=aM551f2qemi0&refer=canada
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