1. Australia, US to Lay Path for Nuclear Disarmament
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The United States holds high-level security talks with Australia on Thursday as the longtime allies find a new convergence of views on the need to abolish nuclear weapons.
Afghanistan and North Korea's long-range missile test will also figure high on the agenda for the full-day annual meeting, which brings together the two countries' foreign affairs and defense chiefs.
The session marks the first substantive talks between the Pacific nations since US President Barack Obama held a warm first summit with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the White House two weeks ago.
The talks "will cover, in depth, a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Wednesday after meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.
"We have few better friends in the world than Australia."
Smith said the alliance between Australia and the United States has "served us very well for over 60 years."
"It's an indispensable part of our strategic security and defense arrangements," he added.
Smith and Clinton will be joined in Thursday's talks by Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The talks come days after Obama delivered a major speech in Prague where he laid out a vision for a world without nuclear weapons.
The speech was likely music to the ears of Rudd -- described by some analysts as a "political soulmate" to Obama -- who last year charted out his own path for nuclear disarmament.
Smith and Fitzgibbon, in a statement before heading to the US capital, described Obama's speech as "landmark."
They said the Washington talks "will include Australia and the United States' shared goal of a world free of nuclear weapons."
Rudd last year set up a commission on nuclear disarmament with Japan after he visited Hiroshima, where more than 140,000 people died in the world's first nuclear attack.
"Hiroshima reminds us of the terrible power of these weapons," Rudd said at the time.
"And we must be committed to the ultimate objective of a nuclear weapons-free world," he said, in words echoed a year later by Obama.
Rudd set up a commission of experts co-chaired by Australia and Japan who will seek to lay the groundwork for next year's review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The last review conference of the treaty in 2005 ended in disarray, with then US president George W. Bush's administration unenthusiastic about entering international commitments on disarmament.
Obama has sharply changed course, saying he will ask the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bars any nuclear explosions for any purpose around the world.
But a number of countries remain holdouts to the test ban treaty, among them China, India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan.
Rudd had visibly uneasy relations with Bush, a close ally of the previous conservative Australian prime minister John Howard.
The four ministers are expected to discuss the campaign to root out extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- a key priority for the Obama administration.
European nations offered more than 3,500 troops during Obama's tour to join the effort to help stem a tenacious Taliban-led insurgency.
Australia has some 1,100 troops in Afghanistan. Rudd has pledged that Australia will stay in Afghanistan "for the long haul" but has stayed reticent on whether he would commit more troops.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jr7W5cr3X6RjxdV_MbBP67jWvMFQ
2. Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Chief: US Must Ratify Pact
Charles J. Hanley
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Senate opponents of the nuclear test-ban treaty face "a new ballgame" 10 years after they rejected the global pact, the treaty's chief said Tuesday.
If the U.S. and other key nations fail again to ratify the pact, the world will become a place with "more fissile material in more facilities with more people to handle it, representing a risk of (nuclear) terrorism," said Tibor Toth, executive secretary of the treaty's preparatory commission.
"Probably what you will have to do is revisit the benefits of the treaty from a wider perspective, from a post-2001 viewpoint," Toth told The Associated Press.
The Hungarian diplomat was in Washington to meet with Senate staff and take part in a conference on nuclear nonproliferation organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The conference was dominated by talk of President Barack Obama's speech Sunday in Prague, Czech Republic, laying out plans to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Obama said he aimed to "immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," or CTBT.
Although a 1963 treaty bans nuclear tests in the atmosphere, oceans and space, the CTBT would ban all nuclear weapons tests everywhere, including underground, both as a step toward disarmament and to block weapons proliferation.
In 1999, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected the pact almost entirely along party lines with a 48-in-favor, 51-against vote. Approval requires a two-thirds majority.
Opponents objected to the treaty's monitoring system being unable to detect a cheater's small underground nuclear test, and that the soundness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would come under question if tests could not be conducted.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said March 27 he has begun the process of bringing the treaty back before the Senate.
Appearing on Tuesday's conference panel with Toth, physicist Sidney Drell, a longtime U.S. government adviser on nuclear weapons issues, noted that the government's weapons laboratories have since determined that the weapons' plutonium "pits" have a lifetime, "conservatively," of 85 to 100 years.
"That concern, having weapons more than 20 years old, has been removed in the past 10 years," Drell said.
As for verification, Toth pointed out that his organization's monitoring system detected North Korea's very small nuclear test in 2006, and has since strengthened its capabilities.
"No test of military significance can go undetected," the treaty chief said.
Meanwhile, "on the proliferation side, it is a totally new ballgame. There is a terrorist nexus," Toth told the AP. Treaty proponents point to fears that Pakistan's developing nuclear arsenal might fall into extremist hands in an increasingly unstable nation.
Pakistan and the U.S. are two of nine nations whose ratification is still required for the test-ban treaty to take effect. The others are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran and Israel. Proponents believe a U.S. ratification could lead to these other "dominos" falling into line.
Otherwise, a total of 180 nations have signed the treaty and 148 have ratified it, including nuclear weapons powers Russia, Britain and France.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jy52j09fgZafDUFu5GuyPhvrcAfAD97DS5580
Russia has shipped the year's first batch of low-enriched uranium from dismantled nuclear warheads to the United States, a nuclear power company says.
Atomenergoprom says the shipment that left Tuesday marks the first delivery of 2009 at a new price approved by the governments of both countries, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports.
A bilateral accord between Russia and the United States known as the Megatons to Megawatts agreement seeks to convert 500 metric tons of high-enriched uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium for use in U.S. commercial reactors, RIA Novosti said.
The agreement signed in 1993 expires in 2013.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/08/Russian-uranium-headed-to-United-States/UPI-59551239203062/
China wants Iran and other powers to pursue contacts aimed at eventually defusing a long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear activities, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday.
The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said on Wednesday they would ask EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to invite Tehran to talks to find "a diplomatic solution" to Iran's nuclear program.
China, host of six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program, is a close energy and trade partner with Iran, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said her government welcomed the signs of renewed engagement.
It has a long-standing policy of favoring negotiated solutions to nuclear disputes with both Iran and North Korea. And the warm words on Thursday suggest it sees renewed hopes of progress.
"We are glad to see an improvement in relations between the United States and Iran," Jiang told a news conference.
"We also support any suggestions to appropriately solve the Iran nuclear issue though negotiations and dialogue. We encourage Iran and other parties to have active contacts to seek an all-round, appropriate and long-term solution to the Iran nuclear issue."
As a big oil customer of Iran and veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China has been a focus of efforts to overcome the standoff with Iran.
China has backed past limited sanctions on Iran, but resisted steps that would threaten their energy and economic ties. Iran is China's third biggest supplier of imported crude oil, behind Saudi Arabia and Angola.
Breaking with past U.S. policy of shunning direct talks with Iran, President Barack Obama's administration said the United States would join in nuclear discussions with Iran from now on.
The big powers' statement was markedly more conciliatory than in the past when Western officials often threatened to ratchet up sanctions against Iran or did not rule out military action.
Last month, Obama offered a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement with Iran.
Until now, U.S. policy has made any negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program conditional on Tehran giving up uranium enrichment work the West believes is aimed at building an atomic bomb-making capability.
Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, says its nuclear program is only aimed at generating electricity.
Iran celebrates its National Nuclear Day on Thursday when analysts expect President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to announce Iran has mastered the final stage of nuclear fuel production.
China is bound by U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions forbidding support for or contact with individuals or companies linked to Iran's missile and nuclear programs. This week, the U.S. government slapped sanctions on a Chinese metals company and six Iranian companies suspected of collaborating on a scheme to transfer missile and nuclear technology from China to Iran.
Jiang said China had very strict export controls to prevent nuclear proliferation.
"But we oppose related U.S. departments using their domestic law to sanction a Chinese company," she added.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5381DP20090409?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=10112&sp=true
2. Iran Celebrates Nuclear Day as Big Six Invite Tehran to Open Talks
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to disclose the country's new atomic developments on Iran's Nuclear Day holiday on Thursday in the central city of Isfahan.
Ahmadinejad is to inspect the Natanz plant near Isfahan, where currently 6,000 centrifuges are operative and according to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, at least 4,000 more centrifuges are to be installed during the current year.
According to the ISNA news agency, the Iranian president is also to inaugurate the Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) in another section of Isfahan.
Iranian media report that the launch of the FMP would mean that Iran has mastered the final stage of the lengthy nuclear fuel production process.
The FMP is reportedly able to produce nuclear fuel tablets, rod and assemblies for Iran's Arak 40-megawatt research reactor, to be launched within the next two or three years.
Isfahan's FMP can also produce nuclear fuel assemblies for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is a joint project with Russia with its first phase scheduled to be completed later this year.
The FMP in Isfahan will convert enriched uranium hexafluoride into uranium dioxide (UO2) powder, which is to later be processed into pellet form, Tehran's Press TV said on its website.
The pellets will then be stacked into tubes of corrosion-resistant metal alloy called fuel rods. The finished fuel rods will be assembled together to build up the nuclear fuel core of a power reactor.
Tehran says that its nuclear program is only for civilian and peaceful purposes, but the West fears that Iran might use the same technology for making nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad has said that Iran would be ready for negotiations with the West on allaying fear about its alleged military program. However, he has rejected international demands that Tehran suspend its nuclear enrichment work.
On Wednesday, the United States said it would join other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in talks with Iran about its nuclear activities. This marks a significant shift from former President George W. Bush's position that the US would not enter talks with Iran until it suspended all nuclear activities.
Available at: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4164049,00.html?maca=en-en_nr-1893-xml-atom
3. Iran Must Show World its Desire for Peace: Russia
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Iran must convince the international community that its nuclear programme has exclusively peaceful purposes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.
The comments came as key powers were to invite Iran to hold direct talks on its nuclear activities and as Iran marked a national nuclear day.
"What's needed from Iran is that it convinces us all of the exclusively peaceful character of its nuclear programme," Lavrov said in an interview with Russian media outlets including the RIA Novosti news agency.
Underlining Russia's relatively close ties with Iran however, he reiterated Moscow's view that there is no evidence Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
"There's no evidence that this programme has a military dimension. But several countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have questions Iran needs to explain," he said.
On Wednesday the United States, Russia and other key powers said they would invite Iran to hold direct talks on the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.
Western nations suspect that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme under cover of its stated aim of developing civilian nuclear energy. Iran denies such claims.
Russia has been building a nuclear power station for Iran at Bushehr and is to supply the fuel needed to run the facility, which Iran's critics say means the Islamic Republic should have no need to enrich its own uranium fuel.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gBvCLrZ-Uq9vy0D7a03iGVllUR0A
Efforts by the Obama administration to re-engage with Iran advanced a step and skidded backward all in the same day, underscoring the difficulties the new president faces as he tries to improve U.S. relations with its longtime foe.
First, administration officials said U.S. diplomats would attend group talks with Iran over its suspect nuclear program. That would be a major departure from President George W. Bush's policy of isolation from a nation it once deemed to be evil.
But then Iranian authorities announced that detained American journalist Roxana Saberi had been charged with spying for the U.S. and would be put on trial next week. Washington has appealed for her release since she was detained more than two months ago.
For a generation, the official exchanges between the U.S. and Iran have largely been limited to talks over security in Iraq and Afghanistan. Diplomatic relations had ended in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and subsequent hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said he was willing to open direct talks with Iran. Last month, he recorded a video addressed to the Iranian people in which he said the U.S. was prepared to end years of strained relations if Tehran toned down its bellicose rhetoric.
The State Department said Wednesday the United States had decided to be present at the table "from now on" when senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany meet with Iranian officials to discuss the nuclear issue.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States would now be a "full participant" rather than an observer in the talks, which include the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — along with Germany.
"We believe that pursuing very careful engagement on a range of issues that affect our interests and the interests of the world with Iran makes sense," Clinton said. "There is nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon."
The six-nation group said in London on Wednesday that it would invite Iran to attend a new round of talks that have been deadlocked over Iran's refusal to stop developing components that can be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran denies charges it is seeking atomic arms and insists its program is designed to produce power.
The group has offered Iran a package of incentives to stop enriching and reprocessing uranium. Tehran has thus far rebuffed the offer despite the fact that its refusal has led to the imposition of three rounds of economic, trade and financial sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the administration believes a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue requires "a willingness to engage directly with each other on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interests."
"We hope that the government of Iran chooses to reciprocate," he added.
Earlier Wednesday, Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said his country welcomes talks with the United States if they are based on "honesty, justice and respect," one of the strongest signals yet that Tehran may be prepared to respond positively to Obama's calls for dialogue.
Yet, at the same time, an Iranian judge ordered Saberi to go to trial. Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, N.D., and is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, has been living in Iran for six years. She has reported from there for several news organizations, including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.
An investigative judge involved in the case told state TV that Saberi was passing classified information to U.S. intelligence services, an accusation North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said was "very hard to believe."
Clinton said the U.S. was "deeply concerned" by the reported charges and was seeking information from Swiss diplomats in Tehran who represent American interests in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Clinton did not speak to whether the Saberi case would complicate the administration's outreach efforts, although she repeated a call for her "speedy release and return to her family."
Saberi was one of three missing or detained Americans mentioned in a written message passed by U.S. officials directly to Iranian diplomats last month at an international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague, Netherlands, that Clinton attended. Iran has yet to respond to the message, which sought information about the three and was another break with past U.S. policy.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iVp6OcsznLJpeFv8SenE_EhxIpmgD97EQGUG0
5. Ahmadinejad: Iran Ready to Contribute to Global Disarmament
Islamic Republic News Agency
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Iran is ready to contribute to global disarmament.
President made the remarks in a meeting with families of martyrs in Isfahan on Wednesday.
Iranian resistance urged some big powers to change their literature in dealing with Iran, he said adding, "We are ready to cooperate with those claiming to manage global disarmament."
He added, "We are ready to handle such a big task based on rules and regulations and the big countries are the priorities (for this)."
The motto of global disarmament is a correct word but not for creating obstacles for those who wish to use nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes, he said.
The idea of global disarmament will be promoted worldwide very soon, underlined the Iranian president.
All praise the Iranian culture and civilizations and believe that the country should play a vital role at the highest level in global developments, he said adding that under such circumstances no one can dare to threat Iran.
"Some claim that they have given us incentives to continue our progress but we tell them these are not incentives, we have attained these success through the sacrifice of our people," he said.
On recent comments such as "We are to stretch our sincere and friendship hands to Iran," he said the issue calls for discussion because this is not an incentive but it is the resistance of the Iranian nation which was the root cause of such offer."
Iranian nation has always remained victorious, he said.
Iranians seek dialogue based on justice, mutual respect and dignity, underlined the president.
Culture of sacrifice, revolution and martyrdom-seeking has now engulfed the world like a wave, said President Ahmadinejad.
Available at: http://www5.irna.ir/En/View/FullStory/?NewsId=426334&IdLanguage=3
Vice President Joe Biden issued a high-level admonishment to Israel's new government Tuesday that it would be "ill advised" to launch a military strike against Iran.
Biden said in a CNN interview that he does not believe newly installed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would take such a step. Even so, his comment underscored a gap between the conservative new Israeli government and the Obama White House on a series of questions, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran.
While the Obama administration has made a series of recent overtures to Tehran, the Israelis have grown more confrontational out of concern that the Islamic Republic's increasing nuclear know-how could one day become an existential threat.
Netanyahu signaled several times during his election campaign that he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. "I promise that if I am elected, Iran will not acquire nuclear arms," he said in one appearance, "and this implies everything necessary to carry this out."
With his brief comment Tuesday, Biden became the highest-ranking administration official to caution the Jewish state against a military strike. In the interview, Biden was asked whether he was concerned that Netanyahu might strike Iranian nuclear facilities.
"I don't believe Prime Minister Netanyahu would do that. I think he would be ill advised to do that," Biden said.
"And so my level of concern is no different than it was a year ago."
But many U.S. officials believe Israel is serious. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told senators this month that the Israeli government may be "so threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon that it would take preemptive military action to derail or delay it."
Other U.S. officials have made it clear in the past that they would prefer that Israel not carry out a strike against Iran. Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned last summer against military action.
"This is a very unstable part of the world," he said then. "And I don't need it to be more unstable."
Among other concerns, U.S. Defense Department officials worry that Iran might retaliate by striking at U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq.
Differences between U.S. and Israeli officials also are emerging on key issues involving the Palestinians. Netanyahu has not embraced Washington's goal of an independent Palestinian state, and some of his key supporters favor expanded Jewish settlements in the West Bank, an idea criticized by President Obama.
But U.S. views are important to the Israelis. Steven J. Rosen, a former policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential lobbying group, said a decision by Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities "depends to a large extent on the impact such a strike might have on the United States." He made the comment in a blog, the Obama Mideast Monitor.
Many top officials in the Obama administration have said they believe the costs of a U.S. attack on Iran would outweigh any benefits, and they are considered less likely to favor military action than the Bush administration.
One hint of the Obama administration's intentions may lie in its choice of top experts.
Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, has hired longtime Iran expert Vali Nasr. Dennis Ross, senior administration advisor for Southwest Asia, has hired Ray Takeyh, another veteran Iran expert.
Both Nasr and Takeyh have advocated diplomatic engagement with Tehran.
Available at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-biden-israel-iran8-2009apr08,0,2388127.story
1. S. Korea Supports N. Korea-U.S. Direct Dialogue within the Six-Party Framework
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S. Korea Supports N. Korea-U.S. Direct Dialogue within the Six-Party Framework, The Hankyoreh, 4/9/2009 Amid talks by the international community over how to respond to North Korea’s rocket launch, the South Korean government is believed to have determined that it would support direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington under the framework of the six-party negotiations. An official at the South Korean government on April 8 said, “South Korea and the U.S. share common ground that the missile issue should be dealt with through the framework of the six-party talks,” the official said. In March, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had proposed that North Korea‘s missile issue be on the agenda of the six-party negotiations.
At first, the strategy to deal with North Korea’s missile issue with possibilities of compensation at the six-party talks was seen as an intention to lure North Korea to a negotiating table. The idea was to let North Korea enter the talks by indicating the amount of return they could receive had the possibility of increasing.
For the U.S., the strategy of discussing the North‘s missile issue at the six-party talks was gaining acceptance because it was seen as a strategy that shares both responsibility and risk. Similar to the process of the missile talks between North Korea and the U.S. in 2000, the U.S. could present the offer to launch North Korea’s satellites into orbit in exchange for a suspension of missile launches. Alternately, Russia could offer to launch North Korea‘s satellites instead. What’s more, the strategy anticipates China‘s corrections and arbitration whenever talks between North Korea and the U.S. hit an impasse.
For South Korea, the six-party talks are the only way to stabilize diplomatic relations amid severed inter-Korean ties. Analysts see this as the reason why government officials have emphasized the need to resume the negotiations.
With the fact that North Korea’s long-range rocket launch is viewed as a sensitive issue between Pyongyang and Washington, “six-party talks” and a “North Korea-U.S. dialogue” have simultaneously appeared in official statements. Accordingly, the experts roughly agree that North Korea and the U.S. may be able to reach a broad agreement on the North Korea missile issue before the six-party negotiations as a step towards normalizing North Korea-US relations.
Other experts disagree, however, expressing concerns that if North Korea‘s missile issue is added as an agenda item to the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, it could hinder progress from being made for a long time. A diplomatic expert, who asked not to be named, said, “It would take quite a long time for them to reach a ‘deal’ because they have to set up timetables for nuclear dismantlement and missile compensation.”
Available at: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_northkorea/348872.html
2. Possible for North Korea to Conduct Second Nuclear Test
Yang Jung A
The Daily North Korean
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The Minister of National Defense Lee Sang Hee said on the 7th regarding North Korea's long-range rocket launch, "When looking back over the past, it is possible that North Korea will export the missile technology which it has recently developed. This seems to be one of several intentions behind the launch."
Minister Lee was attending a meeting related to diplomacy, security, and unification issues at the National Assembly. He made the comment in agreement with Grand National Party (GNP) member Yoo Ki June’s assertion, "I suspect that the North's long-range rocket launch is a sort of commercial advertisement to promote the sale of its weapons to the world."
Yu Myung Hwan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, stated regarding North Korea's intent, "Its aims seem to be to tighten internal solidarity, export missiles, and influence the U.S. and international society's public opinion in order to get an edge on the U.S. in possible negotiations."
Minister Lee replied to the question, "Once the North has succeeded in developing small nuclear warheads as well as extending the distance of its long-range rocket, then will it not receive recognition as a country that can contribute to nuclear proliferation around the world?" with, "I do not have intelligence on whether or not North Korea has successfully miniaturized its nuclear weapons, but if it develops these weapons simultaneously with long-range rockets or transportation tools, then the peace and safety on the peninsula as well as in the world will be threatened."
Regarding the possibility of a second nuclear test by the North, he expressed, "North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, so there is always the possibility that it will conduct a second round of experiment without additional full preparation."
Minister Yu also pointed out, "Bearing in mind the fact that North Korean citizens are languishing in hunger, launching a 300 million dollar rocket under the pretext of developing outer space is completely unacceptable. Whether the object of the launch was a rocket or a missile, I cannot help but to think that there was clearly another purpose."
In particular, he urged, "To the extent that suspicions of North Korea's weapons sales to Iran, Pakistan, and Syria have been confirmed, sanctions against suspicious North Korean vessels going to foreign countries is absolutely needed. Through this opportunity, we will not only be actively participating in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), but will also wholly review our policy towards North Korea."
GNP member Kim Dong Sung also maintained, "Examine PSI cases; no inspections have been made in international waters, and under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea it is impossible to conduct searches of vessels without the agreement of the flag state, so war is not feasible. The Inter-Korean Maritime Agreement prohibits the prevention of weapons exports by North Korea to foreign countries, so this must be prevented by joining the PSI."
Yu remarked, "The cost for the rocket launch is estimated to be between 300 million and 600 million won, which is over 1/10th of North Korea's budget (approximately $35.3 billion). Five hundred billion won can buy over two million tons of corn. Such an amount can more than meet their estimated 1.17 million ton food shortage in 2009."
He added, "This is the same case as a mother going out to buy a fur coat or pearl necklace when her children are starving. However, there is a need to establish a program by which surrounding countries can provide financial support so that North Korea can abandon its nuclear weapons."
Available at: http://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?cataId=nk00600&num=4787
1. UAE Foreign Minister Meets US Secretary of State
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The UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met on Tuesday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
During the meeting, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed the UAE’s strong ongoing support for Afghanistan-Pakistan stabilization initiatives, for the Middle East peace process, and for multilateral efforts toward improving Gulf security.
The Foreign Minister also stressed the importance of the US-UAE Bilateral Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation, calling it a “model for the development of civilian nuclear energy programs.” Expressing appreciation for the United States’ role in promoting stability in the Gulf region, the Foreign Minister said, “The UAE will continue to be a very strong friend and ally to your great country.”
Speaking to reporters just prior to her meeting with the Foreign Minister, Secretary of State Clinton characterized the UAE-US bilateral relationship as “very close and constructive,” and described it as encompassing “a broad array of important issues.” Secretary Clinton added, “I’m looking forward to deepening and strengthening that partnership.”
With Secretary Clinton and in a separate meeting later in the day with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the Foreign Minister also encouraged the timely notification to the US Congress of the nuclear agreement, observing that it meets all of the guarantees and controls of Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act.
The Foreign Minister also noted that over the last year, the UAE had already endorsed the key elements of the nonproliferation framework presented by President Barack Obama in his speech last Sunday in Prague. The UAE has made a binding commitment not to enrich uranium or to reprocess spent fuel; committed to absolute operational transparency for civilian nuclear energy programs; endorsed international nonproliferation protocols; and supported the creation of an international nuclear fuel bank to assure security of supply and to remove any rationale for unilateral enrichment programs. Signaling its unqualified commitment to this goal, last year the UAE contributed $10 million to the International Atomic Energy Agency fuel bank, proposed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
With one of the world’s most intensive and comprehensive future energy programs, the UAE diplomat also explored expanding government-to-government cooperation on renewable energy and climate change with the US energy secretary.
”The U.A.E. has quickly become a leader in renewable energy, much as we are a global leader in oil and gas. Toward that end, no country is investing more per capita in alternative energy,” said UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba who joined the Foreign Minister in the meetings with Secretaries Chu and Clinton.
Available at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2009/April/theuae_April237.xml§ion=theuae&col
The UAE and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday signed an Additional Protocol to the safeguards agreement between the Agency and the UAE Government, establishing a procedure for inspections of nuclear facilities and operations.
The deal further strengthens the nation's commitment to non-proliferation as it evaluates a potential civil nuclear energy programme.
The agreement was signed in Vienna by Ambassador Hamad Al Ka'abi, UAE's Permanent Representative to the IAEA and Special Representative for International Nuclear Cooperation, and Dr Mohammad Al Baradei, IAEA Director General.
"This is an important step for the United Arab Emirates, and another demonstration of our nation's commitment to complete operational transparency and the highest standards of non-proliferation," Ambassador Al Ka'abi said.
The IAEA describes the safeguards systems as "a confidence-building measure, an early warning mechanism", in its work to ensure that nuclear programmes are not used for nuclear weapons purposes.
Among other measures, the Additional Protocol establishes a procedure for snap inspections of nuclear facilities, and provides guidelines for allowing inspectors access to facilities and information.
The obligations that stem from the Additional Protocol and other international instruments will be taken into account in the upcoming nuclear law and regulations in the UAE.
Following the UAE's acceptance of the model Additional Protocol text developed by the IAEA, the UAE submitted a request for approval in February to the IAEA's Board of Governors.
Last month the Board approved the text and authorised the Director General to sign it with the UAE.
The nation's commitment to non-proliferation is detailed in the Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy, a document released in April 2008.
Available at: http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Government/10302502.html
1. Bidding on UK Atomic Agency's Three Sites Continues: NDA
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Bidding on the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's three sites that could potentially host new reactors is set to continue into next week, the NDA said Thursday.
The NDA said that bidding in the electronic auction for land at Wylfa in Wales, Bradwell in Essex, and Oldbury in Gloucestershire will continue on Tuesday April 14 after the long Easter weekend.
The auction will not close until 24 hours pass without a new bid at least GBP5 million higher than the last submitted offer.
The NDA said it was "delighted" with how the auction was proceeding so far.
"We are pleased that the innovative process applied to the sale is working well," said Sam Hounslow, project manager for the NDA sale.
"The level of competition for the three sites has obvious benefits for both the NDA and UK taxpayer as a result of the revenue being generated," Hounslow added.
NDA spokesman Bill Hamilton said March 31 he could not confirm or deny UK press reports that the auction has seen total bids exceeding GBP200 million ($293 million), with some reports subsequently speculating the bidding could raise up to GBP500 million.
Moreover, when winners are finally announced, Hamilton said the NDA will publicize which bidder won which site, but not how much they paid for it. The NDA will only give a total amount of revenue the NDA will gain from the auction, he said.
The auction began March 16 and was not expected to last more than a few days by industry observers. However, the process is more complicated than a straightforward auction, since conditional bids and bids involving upfront and/or deferred payments are allowed.
Such bids have to be put through a formula to determine which is the highest bid, according to Hamilton.
UK daily The Times said Monday that French utility EDF is bidding for Bradwell, a German consortium involving RWE and E.ON is bidding for Oldbury and Wylfa; and a group comprising Spain's Iberdrola, France's GDF Suez and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is pitching for all three.
Vattenfall of Sweden is also involved, the paper said.
The reactors, each generating as much as 1.6 GW of electricity, are expected to take five years to complete at a cost of about GBP4.5 billion each.
Three reactors could be built at Wylfa, depending on the technology chosen, with two each possible at the other sites.
Proceeds from the auction will assist the NDA to help fund the cost of decommissioning the country's ageing nuclear stations.
Available at: http://www.platts.com/Nuclear/News/8483842.xml?p=Nuclear/News&sub=Nuclear
2. GDF Suez Aims to Build 2 Nuclear Reactors in UK
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GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) aims to build between one and two new-generation EPR reactors in the UK by 2020 and does not rule out expanding in the U.S. atomic sector, the group said on Thursday.
GDF Suez has a nuclear power capacity of about 6,000 megawatts in Belgium, Germany and France.
"We have created a partnership with Iberdrola (IBE.MC) and Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) (SSE.L) with the aim to develop one or two EPRs on the British market," Pierre Clavel, member of the group's executive committee, told journalists at a seminar.
In a document handed to journalists, GDF Suez said it aimed to build the reactors by 2020 and that it was taking part in the selling of nuclear sites owned by the British Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and EDF (EDF.PA).
Britain's NDA last month launched an auction of 999-year leases on land near three of its nuclear power stations in the UK, at Wylfa in north Wales, Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Bradwell in Essex.
EDF, which bought British Energy in 2008, said it was planning to build two reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk and two other reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
British Energy owns eight nuclear reactors and numerous sites, which have the capacity to host new reactors.
German utility E.ON EONG.DE and smaller rival RWE (RWEG.DE) have joined forces to build British nuclear power stations.
EXPANSION IN THE U.S.
Dirk Beeuwsaert, deputy head of the European and global energy branch of GDF Suez, said the group did not rule out expanding in the U.S. nuclear sector despite regulatory restrictions.
"A non-American player can't own more than 50 percent of a nuclear power reactor and the effective management of operations has to be attributed to American nationals," Beeuwsaert said.
"I see limited opportunities for one player to take part in the nuclear revival in the U.S. It will be consortiums of several players. And in that type of consortium, it is very possible to be present," he added.
GDF plans to take part in the construction of France's second Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) at the site of Penly in northwest France, with works expected to start in 2012 and operations in 2017.
Separately, GDF Suez said it wanted to see a strong team at the head of Italian utility Acea.
GDF Suez has a joint venture with the Italian company in the power sector, but wants to expand its alliance with the Rome utility to include gas activities.
GDF Suez said an agreement could take "a few months" but that it was studying other options.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSL948857220090409?sp=true
3. China Close to Firing Up Its Fast Nuclear Reactor
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Russian nuclear-energy company Rosatom reported yesterday that a subsidiary had completed construction of an experimental nuclear reactor in Beijing. At 25 megawatts, the reactor's power output is small, but it sends a big message about where nuclear technology may be heading--especially after the Obama administration's effective cancellation of plans to store spent U.S. nuclear fuel at an underground repository below Nevada's Yucca Mountain.
The Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor is so named because the neutrons produced in its core are not "moderated" with water like those that generate heat in nearly all commercial nuclear reactors. The faster neutrons can burn some nuclear waste and generate more fissile material, helping to deal with the thorny problem of waste storage as well as energy independence.
Fast reactors have proved difficult to operate because most rely on highly flammable liquid sodium for cooling. But their promised benefits keep the hope alive. As Rosatom puts it in its press release, "Just like in Russia, China's nuclear strategy is based on the use of fast reactors as this type of reactor ensures the most efficiency [sic] use of nuclear fuel. CEFR is a project of national significance."
China's experimental reactor is to be loaded with fuel this summer. If all goes well, the plan is to follow up with a larger scale "prototype" before proceeding to commercial-scale plants in about 2035.
China may not be alone. Japan is pushing forward with plans to restart a 280-megawatt fast reactor at Monju that was idled by a sodium fire within months of start up in 1995, and has not run since. India and Russia, meanwhile, are both building large fast reactors.
And in the United States? The Bush administration pointed the U.S. nuclear R & D toward recycling spent fuel in fast reactors, and that approach is back in the spotlight now that Obama has frozen development of Yucca Mountain. A blue-ribbon panel may be struck to set a new course for U.S. spent fuel. But some politicians are already calling for recycling the waste, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The United States will need an interim solution if it opts for recycling in fast reactors. They will not be ready for commercial operation for at least two decades, according to a report issued by the OECD's Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency last month. Japan, which is basing its future energy policy around fast reactors, does not anticipate that it will begin to displace conventional pressurized water reactors until after 2050.
Available at: http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/energy/23320/
1. Japan Local Chiefs to Meet on Restart of Atomic Plant
Michio Nakayama and Shigeru Sato
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Three local leaders will meet in Japan’s north tomorrow to discuss whether to grant final approval for the restart of a Tokyo Electric Power Co. nuclear plant, the world’s biggest, which was shut by a temblor in 2007.
Niigata prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida will hold a 30-minute meeting starting 1:30 p.m. local time with Kashiwazaki Mayor Hiroshi Aida and Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada at the governor’s office in Niigata City, Takeshi Kumakura of the prefecture’s nuclear safety division said by telephone today.
Asia’s largest generator needs approval from the three leaders before resuming a reactor at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant. A local safety panel told Izumida on April 7 it agreed with the central government’s verdict that the unit is ready to restart. The 1,356-megawatt No. 7 reactor is the first of seven to have undergone structural strengthening work after an earthquake in July 2007 shook the station more than was assumed possible in its design.
The plant, which accounts for about 10 percent of Tokyo Electric’s total capacity, was closed after the 6.8-magnitude tremor caused radiation leaks and a fire. The shutdown forced the utility to buy more oil, coal and natural gas at peak prices to fuel thermal plants, leading it to post a loss for the first time in 28 years for the year ended March 2008.
A restart of the No. 7 reactor will save Tokyo Electric about 70 billion yen ($700 million) in fuel-procurement costs annually, Kyodo News reported today, citing the utility’s Executive Vice President Ichiro Takekuro.
Analysts have projected a return to profit for the company in the year started April, from a predicted loss of 45 billion yen a year earlier, according to five estimates in a January Bloomberg survey.
The trade ministry on Feb. 13 approved the restart of Kashiwazaki Kariwa No. 7, saying the reactor was “properly” repaired and would remain safe during an earthquake.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=a7w4rXInGabs&refer=japan
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