North Korea blasted Japan on Tuesday for passing the blame over stalled nuclear disarmament talks, insisting Tokyo is responsible for the deadlock by not fulfilling its obligations.
The criticism came in response to Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, who a day earlier denounced Pyongyang's reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods as "not constructive" and urged the country to return to the six-party talks.
"Kawamura's absurd speech, the same as a dog's barking in the moonlight, is not even worth discussing," North Korea's Cabinet newspaper Minju Joson said in a commentary.
"The Japanese reactionary forces... are pointing their finger at us and seriously provoking the Korean military and the people," the paper said, warning, "This is not empty talk."
"But now that he is taking issue with the Sept. 19 joint statement and passing the responsibility for wrecking the six-party talks to us, we must bring up the matter," it said. The joint statement refers to a landmark agreement the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia reached in 2005 to resolve the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
The nuclear talks have been in limbo since late last year due to disputes over how to verify Pyongyang's past nuclear activity. Tension spiked markedly after North Korea's rocket launch on April 5, which led to a series of punitive reactions from the international community.
The U.N. Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the launch, prompting Pyongyang to withdraw from the six-party talks in protest. Last week, the Security Council's sanctions committee froze foreign assets of three North Korean firms suspected of aiding the country's nuclear and missile programs. In response Pyongyang swiftly announced it has begun reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods to extract plutonium, used to make nuclear bombs.
Kawamura said in a press conference that Japan will fulfill U.N. sanctions and closely work with the U.S. to push the nuclear talks forward.
North Korea accused the Japanese government of politicizing its rocket launch to fend off internal criticism. Japan also failed to provide its share of energy aid promised to Pyongyang under a six-party deal and tried to link an "irrelevant" abduction issue to the nuclear negotiations, the newspaper said.
Under a 2007 deal, Pyongyang was promised 1 million tons of energy aid from the five other nations, and about three quarters of it has been delivered so far. Japan refuses to provide its share of the energy until North Korea's past abduction of its citizens are accounted for.
North Korea's party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, also lashed out at South Korea's foreign minister over his stern messages aimed at Pyongyang. The paper accused Yu Myung-hwan of trying to "maliciously harm his brethren, riding on the back of foreign forces," by pushing for Seoul's participation in a U.S.-led security campaign, the Proliferation Security Initiative, and interfering with inter-Korean issues.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/04/28/68/0401000000AEN20090428003600315F.HTML
North Korea is cleaning the nuclear reprocessing facility at Yongbyon for extracting plutonium for nuclear weapons. A South Korean official said there was "no evidence yet showing that North Korea has put the reprocessing facility into full operation again. We assume the North is cleaning it in preparation for operation because many personnel and vehicles are arriving at the reprocessing facility and removing something."
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told the official KCNA news agency, "The work of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods has begun."
"Reprocessing the spent fuel rods will contribute to reinforcing [North Korea's] self-defensive nuclear deterrence by all means," he added.
A senior South Korean government official said, "Saturday announcement came a few hours after the UN Security Council's Sanctions Committee put three North Korean companies on a blacklist. We assume that the North will put the reprocessing facility into operation sooner or later in protest at the UN sanctions."
A Foreign Ministry official said since the reprocessing facility has been disabled, it will take a month or two for the North to put into operation again.
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/04/27/2009042700851.html
3. S. Korea to Urge N. Korea to Rejoin NPT in Upcoming International Meeting
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea plans to reiterate its call for North Korea to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) during a major international meeting early next month, officials here said Monday.
South Korea will send Oh Joon, deputy foreign minister for international organization, global issues and treaties, to the Third Preparatory Conference for parties to the NPT to be held in New York from May 4-15, they added.
"Deputy Minister Oh will call for North Korea to rejoin the NPT in his keynote speech during the session," a ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
North Korea declared withdrawal from the NPT in 2003.
Moon Tae-young, ministry spokesman, said earlier in the day the forthcoming NPT meeting is meaningful as it comes as U.S. President Barack Obama seeks to bolster the regime which many observers say was weakened during the Bush administration.
"It is the first NPT meeting since the launch of the Obama administration," Moon said in a press briefing. "It is notable that the meeting takes place amid growing global interest in disarmament and nonproliferation."
Oh is scheduled to meet with Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, on the sidelines of the meeting, added Moon.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/04/27/15/0401000000AEN20090427005500315F.HTML
4. Seoul to Propose Holding Talks With N. Korea Next Week: Sources
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea will propose holding inter-Korean talks next week on a troubled joint industrial park project in the communist North, informed sources said Monday.
The talks will be a follow-up to a meeting held last week in Kaesong, where the North demanded negotiations on wage increases for North Korean workers there and an overall review of contracts.
"The government will likely send its proposal this week," a source said, asking not to be identified.
An official had earlier said Seoul was considering holding a "preliminary meeting" with North Korea to discuss the agenda for the next round of talks, as well as the date.
Another source said Seoul will likely propose holding the talks next Thursday.
"It depends on whether North Korea will agree to our proposal, but it (the meeting) will likely be held after Children's Day," which falls on Tuesday, the source said.
At last week's meeting, Pyongyang demanded Seoul set a date for the next round of talks at the earliest date possible, according to officials here.
North Korea has said the talks will focus only on issues related to the Kaesong industrial complex, such as its demand that South Korean firms start paying land use fees from 2010 instead of 2014 as earlier agreed.
Seoul, however, says the two Koreas must also discuss other inter-Korean issues, including the release of a South Korean worker detained at Kaesong.
The worker, said to be an engineer in his 40s, was detained on March 30 after being accused of criticizing its communist regime and trying to incite a female North Korean to defect to the South.
The North has denied access to the South Korean, who works for Hyundai Asan, the South Korean developer and operator of the Kaesong complex.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2009/04/27/59/0401000000AEN20090427004300315F.HTML
The UN Security Council Sanctions Committee last Friday listed three North Korean companies whose assets will be frozen in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1718 of 2006, which suspends all activities related to North Korea's ballistic missile program and requires it to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs.
The firms, Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., Korea Ryongbong General Corp. and Tanchon Commercial Bank are suspected of dealing in nuclear technology and missile technology.
"For the purpose of implementing resolution 1718 the committee has agreed to update a lengthy list of items, materials, equipment, goods and technology whose import to and export from the DPRK are prohibited," said the Sanctions Committee chairman, Turkish Ambassador to the UN Baki Ilkin. "This update includes some of the latest technologies relevant to ballistic missile programs."
UN member nations will be immediately sent the list and must freeze all financial assets of the blacklisted North Korean firms and cease transactions with them.
These three firms had already been under sanctions by the U.S. government for alleged dealings in weapons of mass destruction with Iran, Yemen and Pakistan.
North Korea's Deputy UN Ambassador Pak Tok-hun told reporters his country will reject "whatever decision the UNSC makes." He added the rocket launch on April 5 that sparked the renewed sanctions was for the purpose of a satellite launch.
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/04/27/2009042700233.html
1. U.S. Envoy to Visit Gulf Over Iran's Nuclear Program
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The U.S. State Department said Monday it will send its special Persian Gulf envoy to the region as part of continued diplomatic efforts to steer Iran away from its suspected quest for nuclear weapons.
It will be the first trip to the region for Dennis Ross since he was named to the position in late February.
The State Department said Ross will begin his trip Tuesday and will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. He will be accompanied by the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, and National Security Council official Puneet Talwar.
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1081728.html
U.S. congressional Democrats joined Republicans in calling for tougher action against Iran, with two bills seeking sanctions in the works in the two chambers.
A measure expected to be introduced in the Senate this week would authorize sanctions against companies involved in supplying gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran, Politico reported. A similar bill is being developed in the house.
Congressional leaders of both parties have warned the Obama administration that its policy of engaging Iran should not last too long before employing harsher measures aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear program, the Washington publication reported Sunday.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian power, but it has refused to suspend production of low-enriched uranium, despite U.N. Security Council sanctions.
While advocating engagement publicly, administration officials said privately that having a congressional threat of sanctions isn't so bad because it might make direct talks the United States is offering Iran and its allies more productive.
At least one member of Congress agrees, Politico said.
"I don't think there's anything inconsistent about moving on both fronts -- maximum sanctions and maximum negotiations," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/27/Dems-GOP-seek-tougher-action-on-Iran/UPI-75571240838008/
The European Union on Monday urged Iran to take advantage of a change in US policy to seal a deal and end the standoff over its nuclear ambitions.
EU foreign ministers, at a meeting in Luxembourg, welcomed Washington's new attitude, saying it creates a "window of opportunity" for talks on Iran's atomic programme and other issues.
"The EU calls upon Iran to seize this opportunity to engage seriously with the international community in a spirit of mutual respect, in order to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue," they said in a statement.
Such a solution "will address Iran's interests, including the development of a civil nuclear power generation programme, as well as the international community's concerns.
"The evolution of our relations with Iran will also depend on it."
However Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in a television interview broadcast Sunday, said that his country was not ready to talk to the United States unconditionally.
"We should just have a clear-cut framework for talks," he said.
Those comments came a day after Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the United States and Israel for persistent violence in Iraq after two suicide attacks left scores of Iranian pilgrims dead.
Western powers fear that Iran's nuclear drive could be a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb, but Tehran insists it is aimed purely at generating electricity for a growing population.
The Europeans have been struggling since 2006 to persuade the Islamic republic to accept a package of political and economic incentives in exchange for an end to uranium enrichment.
Enrichment is a process for powering a nuclear reactor, but at highly refined levels the uranium can be used to build the core of an atom bomb, which many countries fear the Islamic Republic is trying to covertly develop.
Iran, which is labouring under three sets of UN sanctions, has refused to sit down at the negotiating table if it has to suspend uranium enrichment even before the talks begin.
While Washington is offering dialogue, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the new administration of President Barack Obama would be prepared to push for tough new sanctions against Iran if the dialogue fails.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gLiPRX1fYOHo1AKzrDIhVc4Ydwyg
4. FM Spokesman: Iran Not Threat to Others Despite West's Propaganda
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Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said on Monday that in spite of the West's propaganda, Iran is not threat to other countries, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Qashqavi criticized recent claims by "certain Western states" to portray Iran as a threat to other countries and referred to those allegations as "unrealistic fabrications," IRNA report said.
He made the remarks in his weekly press conference in Tehran, downgrading the attempts to "promote Iranophobia" and calling them" baseless propaganda."
"It is for about 300 years that Iran has posed no threat to any regional state," he added.
On Saturday, Tehran "expressed indignation over the anti-Iran statement" by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In her recent statements, Clinton said that Iran's Arab neighbors viewed the country as a bigger threat against them and the United States will consider imposing "very tough sanctions" against Iran if it rejects offers of engagement on its nuclear program.
She reiterated the stand to continue dealing with Iran in a diplomatic way, noting that "it is going to be a more successful engagement if our partners around the world understand they must work with us," including on consultations aimed at imposing tougher sanctions against Iran.
The United States and other Western countries claim that Iran intends to secretly develop nuclear weapons. The UN Security Council also requires Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity.
Iran, however, insists that its nuclear plan is only for peaceful purposes, vowing to continue its uranium enrichment activity despite pressure and sanctions from Western countries.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/27/content_11268719.htm
1. Five Candidates Throw Hat in Ring to Lead Nuclear Watchdog
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A total of five candidates have put themselves foward to succeed Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it was announced Monday, as the deadline for nominations drew to a close. With a deadline of midnight on Monday, diplomats said there was little likelihood of a last-minute sixth candidate coming forward.
The five come from Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Japan and South Africa.
The latest name to emerge was that of Jean-Pol Poncelet, a former Belgian Deputy Prime Minister who currently serves as a senior vice president at the French nuclear group Areva. The Belgian embassy in Vienna confirmed his candidacy on Monday.
The Japanese Ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, Yukiya Amano, as well as South Africa's representative, Abdul Samad Minty, have reentered the contest after failing to win a majority in a first voting session among IAEA governing board members in March.
Spanish nuclear expert Luis Echavarri, the head of the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is another one of the new candidates.
The fifth potential successor to the current director general is the Slovenian Ernest Petric, a former ambassador in Vienna who currently serves as a judge on his country's constitutional court.
Poncelet, 57, started his career as a plutonium fuel engineer. Between 1995 and 1999, he served as deputy prime minister, minister of defense and minister of energy of his country.
He is currently responsible for sustainable development and the improvement of quality processes at Areva.
In a first session of voting among the 35 countries on the IAEA board, Amano narrowly missed the necessary two-thirds majority, while Minty had the support of only 15 countries.
The United States and European countries supported Amano, as they saw him as a nuclear-policy expert who is considered to be less politically outspoken than Minty or ElBaradei.
The current IAEA head is to retire in November after 12 years in office. A new date for voting at the IAEA board has yet to be fixed.
The issue of Iran's suspect nuclear programme is top of the in- tray for the new director general, in what is a politically highly- sensitive role
The Malaysian top nuclear official Noramly Muslim was not fielded by his government, the embassy in Vienna said Monday. Ambassador Arshad Manzoor Hussain had said in early April that a final decision would depend on the list of other candidates.
Available at: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/266187,five-candidates-throw-hat-in-ring-to-lead-nuclear-watchdog.html
The U.N. nuclear watchdog has failed to use all its powers or to beef them up if inspectors are obstructed, leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in tatters, a former top agency official says.
The International Atomic Energy Agency seeks to catch covert diversions of nuclear energy into bomb-making and foster peaceful uses of the atom. Exposure of suspect nuclear activity in North Korea, Libya, Iran and Syria over the past decade has shaken the Vienna-based watchdog.
"The (nuclear) non-proliferation regime is increasingly challenged by states that exploit ambiguity in rules and rifts in the international community to pursue nuclear weapons capabilities without fear of reprisal," said Pierre Goldschmidt, who was global head of IAEA inspections in 1999-2005.
"Lax and inconsistent compliance practices threaten non-proliferation efforts by giving some states more leeway for evading rules than should be tolerable in an effective non-proliferation regime," he wrote in a paper for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank.
Goldschmidt said the IAEA was not fully applying the verification authority it already had. Moreover, he said, its 35-nation governing body could not agree on how to beef up such powers when obstructed by states under investigation.
To deter would-be proliferators, states had to fear that any secret bomb project was likely to be caught early and penalties -- condemnation by IAEA governors and possibly referral to the U.N. Security Council -- was not just possible but unavoidable.
"Unfortunately neither of these two deterrents is credibly in place today," said Goldschmidt, who is Belgian. As a result, the 39-year-old NPT had been "eroded to the point of collapse."
U.S. President Barack Obama says there must be "real and immediate consequences" for those caught flouting the NPT and he wants a significant boost in the budget for IAEA inspections.
Goldschmidt said the IAEA should reassert a right to impose mandatory "special inspections" in countries refusing to grant broad access to inspectors to resolve intelligence reports of stealthy work to weaponize nuclear materials.
He cited Syria, where inspectors last June found "significant" uranium traces at a spot alleged by Washington to have been a nascent plutonium-producing reactor before Israel bombed the target to rubble in 2007.
Syria denies the accusations but has also denied IAEA requests for a second visit to the site and to three others, as well as a look at debris from the bombing.
Goldschmidt said the IAEA had not applied a clause in Syria's nuclear safeguards agreement saying the agency could resort to a special inspection, allowing short-notice searches anywhere, if information provided by a country was not deemed "adequate for the agency to fulfill its responsibilities."
He suggested the IAEA looked hapless in repeatedly urging a state to voluntarily open up in response to repeated refusals, as it has been doing with Syria, as well as with Iran.
"If the only consequence is that the (IAEA) director-general reports at each Board meeting that no progress had been made, this will encourage any non-compliant state to adopt similar obstructive tactics," said Goldschmidt.
He urged IAEA governors to temporarily broaden verification powers to get around invocations of "national security" used by Syria and Iran to keep military sites in question off limits.
He said they should also require states to provide annual information on past and planned acquisitions of nuclear material and equipment. Nuclear material smugglers helped Iran launch its atomic program. Iran says it wants nuclear energy, not bombs.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE53Q1Y620090427?sp=true
1. China Rejects Japan's Accusation Over its Nuclear Policy
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China rejected Japan's accusation over withholding information about its nuclear policy here on Tuesday, saying the accusation was groundless.
Jiang Yu, spokeswoman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a regular press conference that China had all along advocated and positively supported the comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons and complete nuclear disarmament.
Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone accused China of withholding information about its nuclear weapons while delivering a speech in Tokyo on Monday.
The speech, entitled "Conditions towards Zero -- 11 Benchmarks for Global Nuclear Disarmament", came in supportive response to the remarks made on April 5 by U.S. President Barack Obama, who advocated a world without nuclear weapons and declared Washington's "moral responsibility to act" to that end.
"China supports the process of international nuclear disarmament, and has made unremitting efforts for it," said Jiang.
Jiang also stressed that China's nuclear policy was clear and transparent. "Japan's accusation is completely groundless."
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/28/content_11274603.htm
The first full-format talks by Russia and the United States on devising a replacement for the START arms-reduction treaty will take place May 18-20 in Moscow.
Monday's announcement by Russia's Foreign Ministry follows last week's U.S.-Russia talks in Rome that focused on procedural issues for getting the full-fledged discussions under way.
The ministry said in a statement that the Rome talks had "a businesslike, constructive atmosphere."
The goal is to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, before it expires in December. The deal capped the number of warheads and reduced ways of delivering them. Both sides have said they are ready for further cuts.
The new treaty is considered the first step in the no-nuclear agenda embraced by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a joint April 1 declaration.
The United States has 2,200 strategic nuclear warheads deployed; Russia has 2,800.
The two sides agreed to further warhead cuts in 2002, and Russian and American arms control experts believe that the START replacement treaty would seek to cut arsenals to 1,500 on each side.
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.
According to the U.S. State Department, as of 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 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 seven months remaining before START expires, both Medvedev and Obama have signaled a desire to reach a new deal.
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.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jPTc_tzXDZuJ9lo1w7hB-dXFpKrwD97QV1R00
1. Zardari Says Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons are Safe
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Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday ruled out the possibility of his country's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban.
In a wide-ranging interview with international media, Zardari spoke about the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, growing Taliban clout in Pakistan and his own political future.
"I want to assure the world that the nuclear capability of Pakistan is under safe hands," he said.
The Taliban's creeping advances toward the Pakistani capital of Islamabad in recent weeks has heightened fears in the United States about the stability of its nuclear-armed ally.
Western allies that need Pakistan's support to defeat al Qaeda and succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan, dread the idea of any threat to the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Zardari said Pakistan had a strong command-and-control system for its nuclear weapons that was fully in place.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with Fox News last week that the United States could not contemplate the possibility of the Taliban taking control of Pakistan's nuclear assets.
The Taliban began extending their influence across the volatile North West Frontier Province on the border with Afghanistan after Zardari this month reluctantly agreed to impose Islamic sharia law in Swat in the hope of ending violence.
The move raised concerns the year-old civilian government was ceding ground to the militants.
The Taliban in Swat this month said they were ready to give refuge to al Qaeda leader bin Laden in lands under Taliban control, triggering alarm in the West that the mountainous valley could become another sanctuary for the militants.
BIN LADEN'S WHEREABOUTS
Zardari said the whereabouts of bin Laden remained a mystery and there was a suspicion that he could be dead.
He said U.S. officials had told him that they had no trace of the al Qaeda chief and the same view was shared by his own intelligence agencies.
"There is no news," the president said. "They obviously feel that he does not exist anymore but that's not confirmed, we can't confirm that," he said, referring to Pakistani intelligence agencies.
Zardari said authorities in the northwest of the country had struck the deal with Islamists in Swat in line with the popular demand for a negotiated and political settlement of the issue.
However, he said parliament could reassess the situation after militants challenged writ of the government by extending their activities to other parts of the region.
He dispelled the impression that Pakistan launched the recent military operation against the militants in Lower Dir district, near Swat, under pressure from the United States, saying Washington was not "micromanaging" matters in Pakistan.
Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was elected to the office last year but his popularity has plunged after he locked horns with his main rival, Nawaz Sharif, last month in a confrontation over independence of judiciary.
Zardari said he enjoyed a "trustful relationship" with the military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half its 61 years of history, and was confident that he would complete his five-year term in office unless it was cut short by a military coup.
"I don't see (a military coup) possible at the moment in the present circumstances, whether it is international or local."
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/usTopNews/idUKTRE53Q1M220090427?sp=true
2. Pakistan Building Third Nuclear Reactor at Khushab
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Even as the US remains focused on concerns over the Taliban’s relentless advance towards Islamabad, Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce plutonium at its Khushab nuclear facility, a Washington-based science think tank has reported.
Citing new satellite images of the facility, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said the imagery suggests construction of the second Khushab reactor is “likely finished and that the roof beams are being placed on top of the third Khushab reactor hall”.
“The operational status of the second reactor is unknown, but it could start in the near future,” said the report put together by ISIS president David Albright and senior research analyst Paul Brannan.
“Pakistan’s increase in plutonium production capability stands to accelerate an arms race with India. In the current climate, with Pakistan’s leadership under duress from daily acts of violence by insurgent Taliban forces and organized political opposition, the security of any nuclear material produced in these reactors is in question,” it said.
The two expressed concern that the current US policy, focused primarily on shoring up Pakistan’s resources for fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda, has had the “unfortunate effect of turning the United States into more of a concerned by-stander of Pakistan’s expansion of its ability to produce nuclear weapons”.
The report came out on a day when secretary of state Hillary Clinton voiced concerns over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons during a testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.
Clinton said: “The final thing I would say is, why are we so concerned about this? Well, one of the reasons is nuclear weapons”.
Available at: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Pakistan+building+third+nuclear+reactor+at+Khushab&artid=pQqZ2l/ffuU=&SectionID=oHSKVfNWYm0=&MainSectionID=oHSKVfNWYm0=&SectionName=VfE7I/Vl8os=&SEO
Four provinces have been identified as potential sites for a nuclear power plant, according to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat).
Kamol Takabut, Egat's assistant governor for power plant engineering, said the feasibility study was one-third completed and was on schedule to be finished in late 2010. The cabinet would then decide whether to go ahead with a plant that would be operational by 2020. The project could cost at least $2.6 billion.
Fourteen locations in six provinces have been surveyed for suitability. Potential sites in Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan have been eliminated due to community resistance.
Potential locations are in Chai Nat, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Chon Buri provinces. A nuclear power plant needs to be adjacent to the sea or a river to drain fresh water to draw heat from the system.
But if inland locations are impossible to establish, an isolated island off Chon Buri is also an option, Dr Kamol said, adding that three sites would be shortlisted for the government's consideration.
A sub-committee on public relations is also working on activities to promote understanding within local communities about the impacts and benefits of a nuclear plant.
Dr Kamol said that seven power infrastructure companies from Canada, Japan, Korea and the United States were offering their technologies.
"We are in the process of choosing the best option for a service provider that will provide the best solution for a power unit of 1,000 to 1,300 megawatts," he said. "Their equipment needs to be able to work well in higher temperature in Thailand."
Currently, there are 439 nuclear power plants in 30 countries, mostly in North America and Europe, and another 35 plants in 12 countries are under construction.
However, issues of safety management, radioactive waste management, and concerns over nuclear weapon development need to be tackled properly to ease concerns about having a nuclear power plant, he added.
Available at: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/economics/15753/4-provinces-are-potential-nuclear-sites
2. Spain's 500 MW Garona Nuclear Plant Back on Line
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Spain's 500 megawatt Garona nuclear plant went back on line over the weekend and was working at full power after an unscheduled halt on Friday, operators said.
Data from the nuclear watchdog CSN and national grid operator REE (REE.MC) showed eight nuclear plants were working normally and generating 5,400 MW by 0800 GMT, or 16.6 percent of demand.
The Almaraz II and Vandellos II plants have halted for refuelling. Each has the capacity to produces 1,000 MW.
Garona is at the centre of a debate over the future of nuclear power in Spain, as it is the first of seven nuclear plants whose operating permits are up for renewal in the next two years.
The government has vowed to phase out Spain's nuclear plants in favour of a booming renewable energy sector, but has not ruled out extending their working lives.
Garona's permit expires on July 5, and the CSN is working on a technical report on whether the plant can run for another 10 years. The report will only be binding if it concludes Garona must close, otherwise the government has the final say.
The plant in the northern Spanish province of Burgos is jointly owned by Spain's two largest utilities, Iberdrola (IBE.MC) and (ELE.MC).
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKLR15670720090427
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