The governments of Japan and South Africa have submitted candidates for IAEA Director General to the Agency´s Board. Japan has nominated Ambassador Yukiya Amano and South Africa has nominated Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty.
The two candidates were nominated in line with a process announced by the Board in October 2008. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei´s term of office expires on 30 November 2009. He has served as Director General since 1997 and has stated that he is not available for a fourth term of office.
At the October 2008 Board meeting, Chair Taous Feroukhi informed Governors that the closing date for submitting nominations had been set for 31 December 2008.
In order to be appointed a candidate must secure a two-thirds vote of the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors. If a two-thirds majority is not achieved, the nomination process begins again.
The Board intends to make an appointment by June 2009. The appointment will then be submitted for approval at the IAEA General Conference in September 2009.
Available at: http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2008/dgcandidates.html
2. The President Approves Ratification of the U.S. - IAEA Additional Protocol
U.S. Department of State
(for personal use only)
On December 30, 2008, the President signed the instrument of ratification for the Protocol Additional to the Agreement between the United States of America and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards in the United States of America (“The Additional Protocol”). Ratification will be completed with deposit of the instrument with the IAEA in Vienna next week.
Additional Protocols with non-nuclear weapon states improve the IAEA’s capability to detect clandestine nuclear weapons programs by providing it with increased information about and access to nuclear fuel cycle activities. By adopting an Additional Protocol for the United States, the President has underscored the U.S. commitment to combating nuclear proliferation.
The President’s action gives us a stronger foundation from which to encourage other states to adopt the Protocol. The President has spearheaded international efforts to bring about universal adoption of the Additional Protocol. To date, 118 countries have signed an Additional Protocol and 89, including the United States, have ratified it.
Available at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2008/dec/113550.htm
The United States and the Lebanese Republic today signed an agreement in Beirut to begin a cooperative effort to detect, deter, and interdict illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material. The agreement paves the way for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to work with the Lebanese Customs Administration and other government agencies in Lebanon to install radiation detection equipment and associated infrastructure at the port of Beirut and the port of Tripoli.
Under this cooperative framework, NNSA and the Lebanese Customs Administration may also collaborate on installing radiation detection equipment at other points of entry in Lebanon in the future. NNSA will also work with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Commission to equip land border crossings. In addition to providing equipment and related infrastructure, NNSA will also train Lebanese officials on the use of the equipment and provide for maintenance of the equipment for a specified period.
“This agreement represents a major step forward in our efforts to prevent global smuggling of radiological and nuclear materials because of Lebanon’s geostrategic position as an east-west transit point for goods and people,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey. “NNSA appreciates Lebanon’s partnership in this critical mission.”
NNSA has ongoing efforts in various countries in the Middle East where it is working to expand and strengthen Second Line of Defense cooperation throughout the region. This effort is part of the NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program, which works collaboratively with foreign governments at border crossings, airports, seaports and other points of entry to install specialized radiation detection equipment and associated communications equipment. The SLD Program also provides training to host government border guard officials and other personnel to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials. NNSA has installed similar equipment at over 230 sites around the world.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Available at: http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2259.htm
As the Barack Obama administration takes shape ahead of the January inauguration, the president-elect and his national security team are shaping future North Korea policy. Sources here and abroad say the U.S. State Department may create a new office exclusively for North Korea’s nuclear issues and designate a special envoy to handle the matter.
Prominent players from Obama’s presidential campaign, liberal Washington think tanks and national security advisers from the Bill Clinton era are considered likely candidates to both lead efforts to denuclearize the North and handle diplomacy with all of East Asia and the Pacific region.
“The idea of having an ambassadorial post for the North’s nuclear issue has been circulating in both Democratic and Republican circles since the presidential campaign, though opinions differ on how high-level the position should be,” said a senior Seoul official who asked for customary anonymity.
The State Department’s current assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs is in charge of overall diplomacy in the region. But Christopher Hill, who has been in the job since 2006, has been mostly tied up with Pyongyang’s nuclear issues, highlighting the need to create a position to handle that matter alone.
Indeed, Hill is the most likely candidate to fill the new post. A former ambassador to South Korea, he has been the lead figure in the years-long nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
Another possible candidate is Frank Jannuzi, Obama’s chief aide on Korean affairs during the presidential campaign. Jannuzi, a senior adviser to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, worked with Vice President-elect Joe Biden when Biden was the committee’s chairman.
If Hill leaves his current position for the new one, the person most likely to fill his shoes is Kurt Campbell, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific and former director of the National Security Council staff. He is currently the chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security and the founder and head of StratAsia, a strategic advisory company focused on Asia. Campbell is likely to benefit from his status as a long-time Hillary Clinton supporter who has advised her on Asia issues, according to senior diplomats here.
Other contenders to replace Hill include Jannuzi; Jeffrey Bader, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution; and Michael Schiffer, Obama’s chief Japan advisor during the campaign.
Another prominent North Korea specialist who has previously worked in the State Department is also expected to secure a high profile post. Wendy Sherman, a Clinton-era special advisor to the president and secretary of state and a North Korea policy coordinator, is likely to become Hillary Clinton’s senior advisor on North Korea issues.
She not only accompanied former Secretary of State Madeline Albright to Pyongyang during her 2000 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il but also helped create the U.S.-North Korea Joint Communique with the North’s Foreign Ministry. The communique laid out comprehensive measures to end war on the Korean Peninsula and normalize Washington-Pyongyang relations.
Diplomatic observers here also wonder who will advise Obama on East Asia issues in the new National Security Council. While Obama designated James Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security advisor, sources say Bader, a former director of Asian affairs for the NSC and an Obama campaign advisor on Asia, is likely to become the president’s special assistant for Asian affairs. Bader has repeatedly expressed the view that Washington’s Korea policies should take place within the picture of overall Asia, rather than focusing on Korea’s political peculiarities. He has indicated Washington may hold a presidential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, highlighting the importance of direct dialogue with even enemy states.
Available at: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2899430
2. North Korea issues New Year denuclearisation pledge
(for personal use only)
North Korea greeted the New Year by repeating its pledge to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons and hinting it could work with Barack Obama when he becomes the U.S. president, editorials said on Thursday.
The communist North, which uses joint editorials in its state newspapers on New Year's Day to lay out its policy priorities for the year, also pledged to rebuild its faltering economy and improve the quality of life for its 23 million people.
"The independent foreign policy of our republic to denuclearise the Korean peninsula and defend peace and security of Northeast Asia and the rest of the world is demonstrating its validity more fully as the days go by," a joint editorial said.
North Korea has often pledged to get rid of its nuclear programme, estimated to have produced enough plutonium for about eight bombs, but has dragged its heals in disarmament talks for about 15 years despite being offered sweeteners to lift its economy out of desperate poverty.
The United States last month called for a halt in heavy fuel oil aid to punish the North for failing to agree at international disarmament talks to a system to verify the claims it made about its nuclear arms programme, considered one of the greatest security threats in Asia.
Analysts said the energy-starved state, whose economy is smaller now than it was 20 years ago, could see a downward slide in production if it lost out on the fuel aid promised to it as a part of the nuclear deal it reached with five regional powers.
"The Workers' Party of Korea and the government ... will develop relations with the countries friendly towards us," it said in an editorial in what could be a hint that it is willing to work with Obama.
North Korea has had a running war of words with the Bush administration, calling its members "political pygmies" and "gangster-like philistines" but has refrained from making any critical comments of Obama, who takes office later this month.
The North also warned: "Our arms would never tolerate any act of provocation of the enemy but punish it mercilessly."
North Korea threatened to reduce its rich South Korean neighbour to ashes last year after political wrangling led Seoul to suspend aid handouts that were roughly equal to about five percent of the North's estimated $20 billion a year economy.
"A radical turn should be brought about in the efforts to improve the standard of people's living," one editorial said without directly mentioning, as had been done in previous years, problems caused by chronic food shortages.
North Korea, which suffered severe crop losses due to flooding in 2006 and 2007, had one of its best harvests in years in 2008 but still did not produce enough food to feed its people, according to a report last month by an agency in the South.
North Korea relies on food handouts from international aid agencies such as the U.N. World Food Programme, while the United States in 2008 pledged to provide major food aid.
The North said it wanted to boost numerous sectors such as mining, steel, chemical and agriculture.
The editorials offered their typical glowing praise of leader Kim Jong-il and his "songun" policy of putting the military first. There was no comment on Kim's suspected stroke in August or a hint of a succession plan in Asia's only communist dynasty.
"The army and people of the DPRK (North Korea) will surely build a great, prosperous and powerful nation in this land with the might of single-minded unity, upholding the songun revolutionary leadership of Kim Jong-il," an editorial said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSSEO337506
3. North's nuke dismantling over unless Japan sends fuel: diplomat
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)
A senior North Korean diplomat warned Monday that Pyongyang will stop dismantling its nuclear facilities unless Japan fulfills its obligation to provide North Korea with energy assistance under a six-party deal.
"Unless Japan implements the heavy fuel assistance, the activities will be suspended," the Beijing-based diplomat, who is a participant in the six-party talks, was quoted as saying by lawmaker Yoshihiro Kawakami after a meeting in the Chinese capital.
Kawakami, a Democratic Party of Japan member of the House of Councilors, said the North Korean diplomat strongly criticized Japan's policy of refusing to provide energy aid until there is progress in resolving the abductions dispute.
The diplomat said 90 percent of the work to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex, which is capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, has been completed under the terms of last year's denuclearization-for-aid deal reached among the six parties.
However, completion of the remaining 10 percent depends on Japan's willingness to fulfill its obligations under the deal, the diplomat said, according to Kawakami, who is a secretary general of a nonpartisan parliamentary league formed to promote the normalization of Japan-North Korea diplomatic relations.
Under last year's deal, North Korea was promised energy aid equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil in exchange for the disablement and for submitting a list of its nuclear programs.
Japan's backing away from its obligation constitutes a "violation of the agreement," the diplomat was quoted as saying.
In recent months, North Korea has slowed its nuclear dismantling to a snail's pace because the promised aid has yet to be delivered in full.
Besides Japan, the U.S. has said it will provide no more oil shipments until the North agrees in writing to a verification regime that details specific ways of checking the accuracy of the information it provided about its nuclear programs.
On the dispute over abductions of Japanese, Kawakami said the North Korean diplomat told him he believes Pyongyang has already launched, administratively, a committee to reinvestigate the abduction cases, but he indicated the investigations have not commenced.
"If Japan ends its economic sanctions, the investigations will undoubtedly proceed," the diplomat was quoted as saying.
Available at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081230a2.html
1. Turkey continues nuclear steps with peaceful use guarantee
Ercan Yavuz Ankara
(for personal use only)
After passing legislation on the construction and operation of nuclear power stations and the sale of the energy generated on May 11, 2007, Turkey has taken another step toward full utilization of nuclear energy by drafting a bill on nuclear energy that guarantees the nation will use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The 57-article nuclear energy bill drafted by the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) will soon be sent to the Prime Ministry. After conducting its routine inspection, the Prime Ministry will send the bill to Parliament for enactment. The Turkish move to pass a nuclear bill comes against a backdrop of tensions between the US and Iran over Iran's uranium enrichment program, which the American administration says is geared toward the creation of nuclear weapons.
Yet another board
The bill foresees the establishment of a Turkish Nuclear Regulatory Board (TNDK) as an independent body free from the influence of the state, politicians and individuals. The board members will take an oath before the administration board of the Supreme Court of Appeals before taking office. They must swear that they will conduct their duties with utter care, honesty and impartiality; that they will not act contrary to the provisions of the nuclear energy law or allow violation of these provisions; that they will not allow people to gain unfair benefits; that they will abide by the principles of equality; and that they will prioritize the security and safety of individuals, society and the environment.
The TNDK may request all sorts of information or documents from the applicants or authorized people provided that principles of confidentiality are preserved. If necessary, the TNDK may allow information which is not regarded as a state secret or professional or trade secret to be accessible to national or international organizations, public authorities or the general public.
The prime minister will nominate a number of candidates that is twice the number of seats on the board. The candidates must be university graduates with flawless career records and at least 10 years of experience. The president will eventually select and appoint board members from among these nominees. Board members will serve four-year terms and can be reappointed.
TDNK board members and employees must hold classified information and trade secrets that they become privy to during the performance of their duties in the highest of confidence, only disclosing them to those individuals authorized by law to receive the information. Board members are forbidden from using any such information for personal or other benefit. Board members must file a declaration of property within one month after taking or leaving office, in addition to once every two years during their terms.
Peaceful purpose guarantee
Article 1 of the nuclear energy bill is on "peaceful use" and stipulates that "the nuclear energy and radiation sources are used only for peaceful purposes within the borders of the Turkish Republic." The bill requires TNDK authorization for nuclear activities in Turkey. As the board is supposed to authorize and inspect nuclear activities by real or corporate persons, it will be held responsible for such activities.
The proposed legislation specifies in detail the measures that must be taken to prevent human exposure to radiation, and again, the TNDK is responsible for setting security criteria. Licenses for nuclear activity will be issued by the TNDK and will be nontransferable to third parties. Licenses must be procured from the TNDK to operate nuclear facilities, radiation facilities, radioactive waste processing facilities and uranium or thorium ore processing plants.
In cases of urgency where security, safety or national security is or may be at risk, auditors may restrict or suspend authorizations within limits set by the TNDK.
Failure to obtain the authorization set forth in the nuclear energy bill for conducted activities specified therein will be punishable by law. The real or corporate persons who transport nuclear fuel, radioactive material or radioactive waste or who operate nuclear plants, radiation facilities or radioactive waste processing facilities will be responsible for providing financial guarantees concerning liabilities toward third parties. Such persons will be responsible also for contributing to the national radioactive account concerning the radioactive waste produced during their activities.
The bill also rearranges the duties and powers of the TAEK. In addition to the TAEK, a new commission will be established, the Turkish Atomic Energy Commission. The new commission will be made up of the undersecretaries of the Prime Ministry, the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Industry and Trade Ministry, the Health Ministry, the State Planning Organization (DPT) and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), as well as the TAEK president. The Turkish Atomic Energy Commission will work out the principles of a national policy on the use of atomic energy for the nation's interests and approve plans and programs in this field.
Available at: http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=163149
2. Russia to build uranium conversion plant in Far East in 2009
(for personal use only)
Work to design and construct a uranium production and conversion plant will start in Yakutia, Russia's Far East in 2009, the head of a local mining company said on Tuesday.
"Pre-design work initiated by Rosatom [Russia's nuclear power corporation], which has a 100% stake in the plant, is being carried out, and investment feasibility study to run until March 2009 has started," said Alexander Morozkin, general director of the Elkon mining plant.
The plant will annually process up to 5,000 tons of uranium ore, priced at within $80 per kg. The average world price of 1 kg of uranium is between $170 and $250. The plant will also produce gold and silver, and molybdenum has also been discovered at the Elkon deposit.
Over 8,000 new jobs will be created, along with infrastructure, including social facilities, which are due to be built, Morozkin said.
Federal and regional funds, as well as private investment will be used to finance the project.
Russia proposed plans in early 2007 for a nuclear center in Angarsk, 5,100 km (3,170 miles) from Moscow, to enable countries, including Iran, to develop civilian nuclear power without having to enrich their own uranium.
The planned network of uranium enrichment centers, which would also be responsible for the disposal of nuclear waste, will work under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
According to state-controlled nuclear power company Atomenergoprom, Russia will see an almost 30% year-on-year-increase in exports of uranium products and uranium-enrichment services in 2008.
Considering the volume of uranium produced by the Zarechnoye Russian-Kazakh joint venture, uranium output could rise to 3,841 metric tons, the company said in a statement earlier this month.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081230/119225126.html
Jordan is examining a location near Aqaba for the establishment of the Kingdom's first nuclear power plant, expected to be built within eight years, with plans in place for further reactors, a senior official said.
"We are currently looking at the region outside of ASEZA in order to use seawater for cooling requirements," Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan told The Jordan Times, adding that a tender will be floated this week inviting 10 international firms to carry out site studies in order to determine the most suitable location for the reactor.
According to Toukan, the commission's preferred location is within the Aqaba Governorate, 8km east of the Gulf coast, a site that will have the potential to house four individual power plants and will be under study for the next 18 months.
The tender for the construction of the plant, slated to produce between 750-1100 MW, is expected to be floated in mid-2010, with initial construction work due to commence in 2012.
Although the tender will be open to a variety of international companies, the commission is looking solely at Generation III reactors, the most advanced nuclear technology with the latest active and passive safety features currently available, Toukan said.
These include the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) technique currently used in Japan, the AP1000 pressure water reactor produced by US company Westinghouse, the Advanced CANDU Reactors manufactured by Canada, French pressurised water reactor technology, the Russian light water reactor and methods applied by South Korea's Korea Electric Power Corporation.
Under the JAEC strategy and timelines set by foreign companies, the Kingdom's first nuclear power plant will be operational within eight years, according to Toukan.
The commission is already going ahead with plans for a second plant, which would potentially be linked to the Red Sea-Dead Sea water conveyance programme.
Available at: http://pepei.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=ARTCL&SubSection=Display&PUBLICATION_ID=6&ARTICLE_ID=348923
Work on two new nuclear power reactors was inaugurated on 26 December - just 11 days after a ceremony for the start of work on six other units.
The latest units to officially enter the construction phase are at Fangjiashan, near the existing Qinshan nuclear power plant in Zhejiang province.
That region of China, which borders the Shanghai municipality on the country's east coast, has a population of over 47 million but is short of energy resources. Dignitaries attending the 26 December 'first concrete' ceremony praised the contribution already made by the five reactors at Qinshan as promoting economic and social development.
The latest project will see two CPR-1000 reactors provide another 2160 MWe. The dates scheduled for the start of their commercial operation are December 2013 and October 2014.
Nuclear power production started at Qinshan in 1994 with the operation of a relatively small 279 MWe domestically-designed reactor. Four more units - two of 610 MWe and two of 665 MWe - started up between 2002 and 2004, and another two of 650 MWe are under construction at the moment.By 2014, when the adjacent Fangjiashang units start, the 'Qinshan Base' will boast nine reactors and around 6300 MWe of nuclear capacity.
China National Nuclear Corporation, which has the task of implementing the mass deployment of CPR-1000s, said this project would have 'far-reaching significance' and an 'irreplacable role of demonstration' for future nuclear plans. CNNC said the total cost of the project would be 26 billion yuan ($3.8 billion), which equates to $1760 per kWe, slightly more than the $1565 recently quoted for the six-reactor Yangjiang plant.
There are currently 439 nuclear power reactors operating worldwide, with 11 of these in China. Ten new Chinese units are now under construction, and by 2020 Chinese planners expect to have around 60 GWe in nuclear capacity - a total of about about 55 reactors. By 2030, some 130 GWe could be sourced from around 100 reactors.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=24217
Leading economic institutes have warned that the German economy could suffer if the government refuses to delay the country's planned phaseout of nuclear energy.
According to a report published by the news agency DDP on Sunday, a number of top institutes, including the Munich-based Ifo, the Rhineland-Palatinate institute RWI in Essen, and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin fear that the consequent higher electricity costs would increase pressure on consumers and the economy at large in what are already difficult times.
“After we have gotten over the financial crisis, our biggest problem will be energy shortage,” the president of the DIW, Klaus Zimmermann, adding that Germans should “significantly delay our withdrawal from nuclear power.” This would also weaken Germany's reliance on fossil fuels, he pointed out.
A delay is, however, only likely to happen if a centre-right coalition of the conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats takes power in the general election next autumn.
Thomas Straubhaar, director of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), emphasised that “our main concerns should be first: safety, and second: profitability.” He said that unsafe nuclear power plants should be shut down, but that the rest should be left running as long as they fulfill safety standards.
The president of Ifo, Hans-Werner Sinn warned: “As an industrial economy we are dependent on cheap energy.”
Christoph M. Schmidt, head of the RWI, spelt out the economists' solution. “It would be advantageous to all three points of the energy-politics triangle if the majority of the nuclear power stations were left running longer than is currently planned. It would be more profitable, it would lower greenhouse gases, and it would secure our energy supply.”
Schmidt also pointed out that if Germany's nuclear power plants were shut down, the country would be forced to import nuclear power from France or the Czech Republic, and the population would be subject to the same safety risks.
But heavy criticism of the institutes' position has come from the environmental protection organisation BUND, whose chairman Hubert Weiger vehemently rejected the claims. “This is pure lobbying for energy companies. The even larger protests against the (nuclear waste) transports in November, which again highlighted the lack of adequate disposal of radioactive waste, shows what people think of this kind of approach.”
Available at: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20081228-16403.html
South Korea on Sunday announced a massive investment plan to build more power plants, including 12 new nuclear reactors in the next four years, to meet growing energy demand.
It plans to spend 37 trillion won (28.5 billion dollars) between 2009 and 2022 constructing 12 commercial reactors and 19 thermoelectric power plants, the ministry of knowledge economy said in a statement.
The ministry said 12 nuclear reactors -- including eight under construction -- would be completed by 2012.
Eleven of the thermoelectric power plants to be built by 2022 would be fuelled by liquefied natural gas, seven by coal and one by fuel oil, it said.
South Korea, which relies heavily on oil imports, has tried to reduce its dependence on crude, diversify energy sources and cut down on the emission of greenhouse gases amid increasing power demand at home.
The country now has 20 commercial nuclear reactors and 85 thermoelectric power plants fuelled by either coal, gas or oil.
Nuclear power plants meet 34 percent of the country's total electricity demand this year, and they will cover 48 percent by 2022, the ministry said.
It said the country's total electric power generating capacity would increase to 100.89 million kilowatts by 2022, up from 71.36 million now.
The country would remove 22 old existing power generating units, including 13 thermoelectric power plants run by heavy fuel oil, it aded.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ih_p0bDh1pQ3NTgSYKyGEauHs5eA
1. Russia to raise nuclear missile output fourfold
Tom Parfitt and Julian Borger
(for personal use only)
Russia has thrown down a new gauntlet to Barack Obama with an announcement that it will sharply increase production of strategic nuclear missiles.
In the latest of a series of combative moves by the Kremlin, a senior government official in Moscow said the Russian military would commission 70 strategic missiles over the next three years, as part of a massive rearmament programme which will also include short-range missiles, 300 tanks, 14 warships and 50 planes.
Military experts said the planned new arsenal was presumed to consist of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) rather than submarine-launched missiles. If this is the case, the plans represent a fourfold increase in the rate of ICBM deployment. The arsenal will include a new-generation, multiple-warhead ICBM called the RS-24. It was first test-fired in 2007, with first deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov boasting it was "capable of overcoming any existing or future missile defence systems".
The new missiles will be part of a £95bn defence procurement package for 2009-2011, a 28% increase in arms spending, according to Vladislav Putilin of the cabinet's military-industrial commission. There will be further increases in spending in the following two years.
The new military procurements follow the war in Georgia in August. Russian forces easily routed Georgian troops, but the conflict exposed weaknesses in the Russian army, including outdated equipment and poorly co-ordinated command structures. The defence ministry said it would carry out drastic reforms, turning the army into a more modern force.
Vladimir Putin on Monday urged cabinet officials to quickly allocate funds for new weapons and closely control the quality and pace of their production. Military experts said the construction of 70 long-range nuclear missiles in the next three years represented a Russian attempt to strengthen its bargaining position with Washington, in talks aimed at agreeing new nuclear weapons cuts when the current treaty in force, Start I, expires next December.
Moscow's strategy appears to be to challenge Obama's new administration as soon as it takes office on 20 January. On the day Obama was elected the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, announced plans to station short-range Iskander missiles in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave as a counter to American installation of its missile defence system in eastern Europe.
Ruben Sergeev, an expert on disarmament issues, said Moscow was afraid of falling behind in a new arms race.
"Russia is decommissioning its old liquid-fuel missiles from the Soviet era at a rate of several dozen every year," he said. "The Kremlin knows that if it doesn't increase production of ICBMs rapidly now then it will have no chance of getting a new arms reduction treaty out of the US, which has much greater quantities of missiles." Negotiations on a successor to Start I have been bogged down in detail, and hamstrung by the Bush administration's lame duck status.
The chief US negotiator, John Rood, said last week that the latest sticking point was Russian insistence that the new treaty cover long-range delivery systems, such as bombers and missiles, intended for conventional arms as well as nuclear warheads. The US wants the treaty to focus solely on nuclear warheads.
Moscow has also signalled that it would supply Tehran with new surface-to-air missiles in defiance of US opposition. Washington has asked for more information on the sales, fearing the weapons being sold include long-range S-300 missiles, which have a 120km (75 mile) range. They could threaten US planes in Iraq, and could also protect Iranian nuclear sites from aerial attack.
The US has set aside its own plans for military action against Iran for now, but US officials hoped that fear of an Israeli strike would make Iran more amenable to suspending its enrichment of uranium.
Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/24/russia-nuclear
1. France to tap 5,000 tonnes of uranium from Niger as of 2012
African Press Agency
(for personal use only)
French nuclear group AREVA will as of 2012 tap one of the world’s largest uranium deposits located in the Northern Niger region of Imouraran to produce an annual 5,000 tonnes of uranium, APA learned here.
The government of Niger granted AREVA a licence to tap the Imouraren deposit, and the deal is expected to usher in the founding of a joint business with the French group holding more than 65 per cent of the capital against 33 percent for Niger.
AREVA also announced Monday the firm would create some 1,400 direct permanent jobs and many other indirect ones, with the tapping expected to double Niger’s production to make the country the world’s second largest uranium producer.
In January 2008, the French nuclear group had its mining contracts with Niger renewed for 2008 and 2009, based on forecasts for that the purchase price would rise by 50-percent.
In a statement to the press, AREVA CEO Anne Lauvergeon, who is visiting Niamey, announced that the company would invest over 1 billion euro in the Imou-Araren mine located in the Agadez region, which is convulsed by an armed conflict that broke out two years ago.
Meanwhile, the price of a pound of uranium oxide in Niger will hit the 40-dollar mark before increasing again in 2009, after rising from 22 dollars to 32 dollars in 2007.
The relationships between the French nuclear group and Niger went sour in 2007, after the government deported the firm’s local manager on grounds that the company was supporting the Movement of Nigerians for Justice (MNJ) rebels active in the north.
Furthermore, Niamey revised its rates by opening its mining market to Chinese, Canadian and Australian entrepreneurs due to the booming world prices of uranium fuelled by an increasingly strong demand from countries raising the nuclear share in their electricity productions.
Available at: http://www.apanews.net/apa.php?page=show_article_eng&id_article=84871
The Americans are coming. India is to receive its first commercial nuclear mission after the signing of its historic nuclear deal with the US on October 11, 2008 in Washington. The intent of this visit is to establish an advantage in the projected $150 billion business potential with India.
It is learnt that the US India Business Council (USIBC) and NEI is bringing the largest trade mission ever to visit India over the next few days. While details of the delegations agenda while in India are still under wraps, it is expected that it will meet with senior Indian government officials, the leaders of India's top public-sector undertakings, and senior executive counterparts from Indian companies.
The mission includes over 50 senior US commercial nuclear executives representing more than 30 of the world's leading commercial nuclear companies including General Electric, Westinghouse, Bechtel Nuclear, The Shaw Group, Babcock &Wilcox, Black & Veatch, CH2M Hill, Uranium One, Thorium Power, and USEC, among others.
The Indo-US nuke deal was historic, marking the end of 34 years of US sanctions on nuclear trade with India, as well as a turning point in the bilateral relationship of these two democracies.
The landmark deal also unleashes billions of dollars of investment between India and the West. According to the CII, the agreement could open up around $27 billion in investments in 18-20 nuclear plants over the next 15 years, while lobby group Imagindia Institute has said the overall economic benefits accruing to India's economy as a result of nuclear trade could touch $500 billion by 2030.
According to a Reuters report, the deal is expected to double nuclear power's share in India's electricity supply to upto 7% in the next two decades. With nuclear fuel in short supply, India's nuclear power plants are running at 55% of their capacity of about 4,000 megawatts.
India's electricity supply, about 15% short of demand in peak hours is also expected to get a boost, but any new nuclear power plant may take a decade to be completed, leaving the country dependent of coal and liquid fuels.
Formed in 1975 under the aegis of the US Chamber of Commerce, USIBC is a business advocacy organisation representing 300 of the largest US companies investing in India, joined by global Indian companies, seeking deeper US-India commercial ties.
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is the policy organisation of the nuclear energy and technologies industry that seeks to ensure the formation of policies promoting the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the US and around the world.
According to the USIBC, the US commercial nuclear industry leads the world in size, performance, innovation, and engineering worldwide. The US is the largest generator of electric power in the world with 27% of the world's total installed capacity and nearly double the number of reactors as France.
Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Business/India_Business/US_nuclear_mission_to_visit_India/articleshow/3939455.cms
3. Areva unit seeks US permit for uranium enrichment
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A unit of France's Areva Group on Tuesday applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to build a $2 billion uranium enrichment plant in Idaho, the company said.
Areva Enrichment Services, based in Bethesda, Maryland, last May announced plans to build the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility 18 miles from Idaho Falls. The plant, which will be near a federally run lab where nuclear energy work has been done for more than 50 years, is to open in 2014.
Areva is one of three companies planning newer-technology uranium enrichment plants to serve the 104 U.S. nuclear power reactors. Every year, these reactors need 13 million to 14 million separative work units (SWU), which measure the amount of work expended during uranium enrichment.
Three new U.S. uranium enrichment plants are to have the capacity to produce nearly 13 million SWU a year by 2015.
If an expected renaissance for nuclear power in the United States occurs, need for all three new plants is clear. The three companies said that even if demand does not grow as expected, there will be enough demand for all three plants, including supplying the international uranium market.
The NRC says it expects to get applications for construction of 34 nuclear reactors by 2010, and has already received license applications for about half that figure.
The only U.S.-based uranium enrichment plant now in operation is owned by USEC Inc in Paducah, Kentucky. That plant can make up to 6 million SWU a year. Its gaseous diffusion technology is more than a half century old and uses 95 percent more electricity than the newer centrifuge technology of the three new plants.
Areva's Idaho plant will be capable of producing 3 million SWU a year, said company spokesman Jarret Adams.
USEC may lower production in Kentucky once it opens -- expected by 2012 -- a 3.8-million SWU/year centrifuge plant on the site of its shuttered gaseous diffusion plant in Piketon, Ohio. The new USEC plant is to cost about $3.5 billion and is under construction, said USEC spokesman Jeremy Derryberry.
European consortium Urenco's Louisiana Energy Services (LES) began construction in 2006 of the biggest new centrifuge enrichment plant, called the National Enrichment Facility, in Eunice, New Mexico.
It is to open its first stage by fall 2009 and by 2011 be able to make 3 million SWU a year. Full build-out by 2014 will allow 5.9 million SWU a year, said LES spokeswoman Brenda Brooks.
LES will not say more about the cost of the plant than it will be more than $3 billion.
Areva's Adams said the NRC is expected to take up to 2.5 years to decide on the Idaho plant application.
The U.S. Department of Energy plans to issue $2 billion in loan guarantees for uranium enrichment and both Areva and USEC have applied for the full $2 billion in loan guarantees.
Tax incentives of about $400 million offered by Idaho for the new plant helped Areva decide on Idaho rather than a proposed site in New Mexico, an Areva spokesman said in May.
The French government owns more than 80 percent of Areva Group.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idUKN3035445420081231
4. EDF Wins EU Antitrust Approval to Buy British Energy (Update3)
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Electricite de France SA, the world’s biggest operator of nuclear plants, won conditional European Union antitrust approval to buy British Energy Group Plc for 12.5 billion pounds ($18.7 billion), allowing the French utility to become the largest power producer in the U.K.
Approval from the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulator in Brussels, is dependent on EDF’s agreement to sell two non-nuclear power plants in the U.K., electricity in the British wholesale market and land on which a new reactor may be built, the commission said today in a statement.
The Paris-based, state-controlled utility agreed in September to buy British Energy, the U.K.’s largest electricity producer, and gain control of eight atomic stations. The purchase will add commercial clients to the 5 million households supplied by EDF’s British unit and allow the company to build at least four new-generation Evolutionary Power Reactors in the U.K.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is seeking to expand nuclear power to replace aging generators, cut energy imports and lower carbon dioxide output. The U.K. this year passed a law requiring an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels. Under the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, Britain is obliged to cut greenhouse gases 12.5 percent.
‘More Expensive’ Deal
The terms of the EU endorsement “will make the deal more expensive for EDF because it will get less existing generating capacity, but this was to be expected,” Standard & Poor’s equity research analyst Alicia Carrasco said today by phone. “When EDF decided to buy British Energy it was looking for future growth in nuclear power in the U.K.” EDF already operates 58 reactors in France, which produce 77 percent of the country’s electricity.
EDF fell 80 cents, or 1.9 percent, to close at 40.84 euros in Paris trading, the biggest one-day decline in a week. British Energy rose 0.2 percent to 771 pence in London.
“Although the combined entity would not have extremely high market shares, the commission found during its investigation that the transaction, as initially notified, would have been likely to raise serious competition concerns in four main areas,” the commission said in the statement.
The decision is conditional upon EDF’s commitment to divest the 790-megawatt gas-fired Sutton Bridge plant, owned by EDF Energy, and another at Eggborough, a 1,960-megawatt coal-fired station owned by British Energy. Bondholders have an option they can exercise next year, which they got as part of a 2002 deal that prevented British Energy from collapsing.
The EU was concerned that the merged company may “withdraw electricity supplies from the market in order to increase price,” according to the statement. That “would have led to a reduction of liquidity which could have had negative effects in both the wholesale and the retail supply markets.”
EDF confirmed plans to sell the two power stations and 5 to 10 terawatt-hours of electricity a year from 2012 to 2015.
“The European Commission’s decision marks a major step toward the conclusion of the acquisition of British Energy,” EDF said today in a statement, adding that it expects the takeover to become effective “in early January 2009.”
Centrica Plc, Britain’s largest energy supplier, said after the announcement that it’s still in talks to buy a 25 percent stake in British Energy.
Centrica Seeks Stake
“We welcome the Commission’s clearance,” Centrica Chief Executive Officer Sam Laidlaw said in a statement. “Having already raised financing from our shareholders, we now look forward to concluding our discussions with EDF for Centrica to acquire a 25 percent stake.”
Centrica, which is seeking production assets to reduce its exposure to energy price swings, said in October it was in talks with EDF on acquiring an interest in British Energy. Last month, the Windsor-based company got shareholder approval to raise 2.2 billion pounds in a rights offer to help fund the purchase.
As part of the EU approval, EDF must unconditionally divest a site potentially suitable for building a new nuclear station located at either Dungeness or Heysham in Britain, and end one of the merged entity’s three grid-connection agreements with National Grid Plc at Hinkley Point in southwest England.
EDF on Nov. 3 agreed with National Grid to connect a power plant to the U.K. transmission network at the site of the Hinkley Point nuclear station, where it plans to build two reactors.
The commission expressed concern that there are a “limited number of sites” for new atomic generators and “high concentration” in ownership. “British Energy owns many of the sites likely to be suitable for new nuclear build while EDF owns key land at two such locations,” it said.
When EDF announced the planned takeover Sept. 24, it agreed to sell land for nuclear development to competitors under an accord with the U.K. government to boost competition. EDF said at the time it planned to build two reactors at each of the Sizewell and Hinkley Point sites owned by British Energy, the first starting up in 2017.
EDF is seeking to connect a 1,770-megawatt plant to the grid at Hinkley Point from October 2019, according to information on National Grid’s Web site.
The commission asked EDF to sell the third grid connection because it would have gone “beyond its combined capacity expansion plans with the risk of unduly delaying power generation projects of its competitors.”
EDF also owns land next to a government-owned nuclear plant at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales. The utility on Oct. 8 got approval to connect a new power station to the transmission network at Wylfa from October 2017 and said it is a “good potential site for new nuclear build.”
NDA Seeks Interest
The U.K. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has invited expressions of interest for land next to Wylfa as well as at the Bradwell and Oldbury atomic plants.
“Part of the agreement that we have with the government is to create a credible site portfolio for others,” Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive officer of EDF’s U.K. unit, said Sept. 24. The company will probably sell for profit the land it acquired adjacent to nuclear sites over the past three years, he said.
EDF is also expanding in the U.S. The utility agreed on Dec. 17 to buy a 50 percent stake in Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s five reactors for $4.5 billion, prompting Baltimore-based Constellation to abandon a plan to sell itself to Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aEBtdMbyg8A0&refer=uk
1. Shortage of nuclear fuel hits Indian nuclear power plants
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India’s nuclear power plants have been working at about half their capacity due to shortage of nuclear fuel despite the efforts of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to tap indigenous uranium deposits. The power plants are facing shortage of uranium supply due to the slow process of opening up of new uranium mines.
“We are still waiting for various clearances from the Meghalaya government for developing an open cast mine to extract 375,000 tonnes of uranium deposits at Kylleng-Pyndeng-Sohiong and setting up of a processing plant at Mawthabah to feed immediate requirements of the nuclear plants,” said Swapnesh Kumar Malhotra, head of the public awareness division of the Atomic Minerals Division (AMD).
However, the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance government is yet to take a concrete decision on the Rs.10.46 billion mega project due to strong opposition within the alliance and other NGOs.
“It is an established fact that uranium is a highly radioactive element, which can unleash terrible contamination on people and the environment,” Khasi Student’s Union President Samuel Jyrwa said.
“The effect it will have on the health of the people will be crippling and deadly.”
Malhotra, however, sounded optimistic that the long-pending project would be executed soon. In fact, the central government has decided to sanction Rs.13 billion for development of infrastructure in the proposed uranium mining areas, provided the state government evolves a consensus over the mining issue.
“Even after making best use of all available domestic resources, it is impossible to meet the required electricity generation profile without Meghalaya’s contribution in supply of uranium from its vast reserve,” the AMD official said.
India currently has 17 operating reactors, with a total installed capacity of 4,120 MWs.
Available at: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/business/shortage-of-nuclear-fuel-hits-indian-nuclear-power-plants_100139008.html
2. India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear facilities
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India and Pakistan Thursday exchanged lists of their nuclear installations under an agreement to prevent attacks on each other's atomic facilities, despite the current tension between the two countries in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a list of the country's nuclear installations and facilities to an official of the Indian High Commission at 11 am (0530 GMT), an official statement said.
In New Delhi, the Indian side handed over its list to an official of the Pakistan High Commission at the Ministry of External Affairs.
The two nuclear-armed neighbours agreed in 1988 to exchange information about their nuclear installations on the first day of every year, and the accord was implemented three years later.
Pakistan and India, which have fought three wars since their creation in 1947, carried out tit-for-tat nuclear tests in May 1998.
Officials said tensions in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks would not affect the exchange of the nuclear lists.
India has blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks in its financial hub on November 26 that killed 173 people, including 26 foreign nationals.
Delhi has demanded that Pakistan extradite the terror suspects to India and take action against anti-India militants operating from its territory.
Islamabad condemned the strikes but says it will take action against anyone according to its own laws if India shares evidence.
India's Home Minister P Chidambaram said Pakistan was in "denial" over the attacks and was refusing to acknowledge evidence linking the militants and elements in Pakistan.
"If anyone is in a state of denial, anything that we give will be denied," Chidambaram told reporters in Delhi on Wednesday.
He said the father of the surviving attacker had confirmed to Pakistan's Geo TV network that the arrested terrorist was his son. "If that is not evidence then what is," he asked.
The Indian government Thursday also issued orders to set up anew National Investigation Agency, which is being established to deal with terrorism across the country.
The agency, being built along the lines of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States, was among other measures announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently to upgrade India's security and intelligence apparatus.
Available at: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/248499,india-pakistan-exchange-list-of-nuclear-facilities.html
3. 'US not worried about India's nuclear plants post Mumbai attacks'
The Times of India
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The US has said that it was "not really worried" about the security and protection of India's nuclear power plants in the wake of the Mumbai attacks that India has blamed on a Pakistan-based terrorist group.
"A nuclear power plant is not a hotel. You protect it differently," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said in Beijing last week after talks with Chinese officials in the wake of the Nov 26 terror attacks.
"I think one can expect that in helping India build nuclear power plants that they will also be built with adequate security and protection for the environment that they might face. So I wouldn't really worry about that too much," he said when asked if the attacks gave US any cause for pause about expansion of civilian nuclear power in India.
"I don't think Mumbai says anything about the vulnerability of nuclear power plants," he added, according to a transcript released here on Thursday by the State Department.
Boucher said the India-US civil nuclear deal came up for reference in only passing in talks with the Chinese that primarily focused on Pakistan, India and Afghanistan after the Mumbai terror attacks that claimed over 170 lives.
"We didn't really talk about the US-India nuclear deal very much. It sort of came up in passing as one of the things where we had found a way to cooperate recently," he said when asked about Beijing's earlier reported misgivings about the India deal.
"China, as you know, in the end supported the deal at the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Vienna," Boucher noted.
"We worked through a lot of issues with a lot of countries, including China, but in the end the whole group, everybody supported it, including China. So we welcome that and we're glad to be together on that. That was about the extent of the discussion," he said.
Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/USA/US_not_worried_about_Indias_nuclear_plants_post_Mumbai_attacks/rssarticleshow/3860687.cms
Enough highly enriched U.S. uranium to make about 20 nuclear weapons was sneaked back to the United States from Japan over a 12-year period until last summer in a secret operation aimed at keeping it out of terrorists' hands, a senior U.S. official and Japanese specialists recently revealed.
The uranium, which was provided to Japan by the United States to build five nuclear nuclear research reactors, totaled more than 500 kg.
Details of the special repatriation operations, initiated by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, a special wing of the Energy Department, have been kept under wraps for more than a decade for security reasons. The shipments began in 1996.
The unique nonproliferation project, called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, resulted in a total of 579.7 kg of HEU (highly enriched uranium) being returned securely to U.S. nuclear facilities, said Andrew Bieniawski, NNSA assistant deputy administrator for global threat reduction and director of the GTRI program.
"Japanese research reactors have been very successful in shipping their spent HEU fuel to the United States," Bieniawski said. "These shipments contribute to HEU minimization efforts worldwide and provide the reactors with a disposal path for their spent fuel."
Since the mid-1990s, U.S. administrations have accelerated nuclear nonproliferation activities worldwide in order to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Four of the five reactors are in Ibaraki Prefecture and managed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Two of its HEU-fueled reactors have already been closed due to proliferation concerns, and the other two were converted to use less-enriched uranium.
The density of Uranium 235 — and isotope key to chain reactions — in LEU is less than 20 percent, whereas weapons-grade HEU needs to be more than 90 percent pure. The JAEA was using 90 to 93 percent HEU fuel from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s, according to documents provided to Kyodo News.
The JAEA has sent 523 kg of spent HEU to the United States.
"The JAEA is an example for the world to follow. The JAEA has done 95 percent (of the entire repatriation)," Bieniawski said.
Takeshi Inoue, general manager of the Nuclear Material Management Office of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Science & Technology Center at the JAEA, said the JAEA plans to send over the remaining 5 percent in the next five years.
The other research reactor is in a suburb of Osaka and operated by Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute. The reactor, called KUR, started up in 1964 and used 93 percent-density HEU as fuel until it suspended operation in February 2006.
The institute is one of Asia's major nuclear training centers and accepts more than 3,000 researchers, including foreign students, each year.
KUR suspended its operations to remove HEU fuel and repatriate it to the U.S. Kyoto University had returned about 50 kg of HEU by the end of summer.
KUR will be converted to a LEU-fueled reactor by summer 2009, said Hironobu Unesaki, associate professor and director of the Office of Nuclear Material Management at the institute, who is a key contact with the NNSA for HEU repatriation and conversion operations.
The reactors were constructed in the 1960s in the context of "Atoms for Peace," the U.S. Cold War project advocated by President Dwight Eisenhower, which exported several dozen research reactors, HEU fuel and related technologies to allies including Japan, South Korea and South Vietnam. The Soviet Union rivaled this U.S. project and exported research reactors to its own satellite states.
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has become increasingly concerned about the exported reactors and the HEU, which could be used to develop nuclear weapons. In February 2005, President George W. Bush and then Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on a plan calling for upgrading the security at Russian nuclear facilities and accelerating efforts to return the HEU the two former Cold War rivals distributed to research reactors around the world.
Since then, the GTRI has ramped up the project and promoted worldwide operations with its Russian counterparts to secure "loose nukes" — the seeds of nuclear terrorism and other proliferation concerns.
The JAEA and Kyoto University have taken collaborative steps with the NNSA and paid expenses for shipping, storing and handling the HEU repatriated to the U.S., even though the Japanese government made no financial or manpower contribution to past or ongoing operations.
"The Japanese government hasn't taken any financial or human support for the HEU repatriation operations," said one official of the Nuclear Power Regulation Office at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.
Available at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081228a1.html
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