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Nuclear News - 6/19/2009
PGS Nuclear News, June 19, 2009
Compiled By: Luke Wagoner

A.  Iran
    1. Dagan: Iran Will Have Nuclear Bomb by 2014, Jerusalem Post (6/17/2009)
    2. IAEA Chief: Iran Would Like Nuke Option, UPI (6/17/2009)
    3. Iran 'Will Not' Deprive Nation of Nuclear Power, PressTV (6/16/2009)
    1. US Prepares for N.Korean Missile Launch on Hawaii, Dan De Luce, AFP (6/18/2009)
    2. China and Russia Pressure N Korea, BBC News (6/18/2009)
    3. N. Korean Missile Possibly at Launch Site in Musudan-ri Report, Associated Press (6/17/2009)
C.  Syria
    1. IAEA Chief, Israel Lock Horns Over Syria, Simon Morgan, AFP (6/18/2009)
    2. Syria Plays Down Uranium Find by UN Nuclear Agency, Associated Press (6/16/2009)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Japan to Help Other Countries Develop Nuclear Power, AFP (6/19/2009)
    2. Obama-Backed Nuclear Fuel Bank Plan Stalls at IAEA, Sylvia Westall, Reuters (6/18/2009)
    3. Report: 100 New Reactors Would Result in Up to $4 Trillion in Excess Costs for U.S. Taxpayers and Ratepayers, PRNewswire (6/18/2009)
    4. Uzbekistan, Japan Agree on Joint Uranium Exploration, RIA Novosti (6/18/2009)
    5. Nuclear Fusion Power Project to Start in 2018: Official, AFP (6/18/2009)
E.  Nuclear Industry
    1. WorleyParsons in Nuclear Deal with Egypt, Clancy Yeates, Sydney Morning Herald (6/19/2009)
    2. Nuclear Nations Rush to Lock in Uranium Deals, Cameron French, Reuters (6/18/2009)
F.  Non-Proliferation
    1. Arms Talks Ahead Of Obama Visit , Conor Sweeney, Reuters (6/18/2009)
    2. US Officials Linked to AQ Khan's N-network, S. Rajagopalan, The New Indian Express (6/17/2009)
    3. The 2009 Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, U.S. Department of State (6/15/2009)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Ending a Dream, or Nightmare, The Economist (6/18/2009)

A.  Iran

Dagan: Iran Will Have Nuclear Bomb by 2014
Jerusalem Post
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Mossad chief Meir Dagan said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will have a nuclear bomb ready for use by 2014.

Speaking to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee several days after the disputed Iranian elections, Dagan said that "what matters is the position of the [supreme] leader and this has not changed. The riots take place only in Teheran and one more region, they won't last for long." Dagan said the riots won't become a full-fledged revolution.

The violence in the wake of the elections in Iran and allegations of vote rigging are not different from "any other democracy… the discussion within the Iranian elite… is an internal affair."

Dagan said Israel would in fact have an easier time explaining the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons to the world when the country is led by a hardline fanatic president [reelected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] than if Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is seen as a moderate, would win the election. "We mustn't forget Mousavi is the one who started the nuclear program."

Regarding the nuclear threat, Dagan said Iran was closely following US response to recent threats made by North Korean despot Kim Jong Il. "If they see that the American policy can't bend or break North Korea, this will certainly affect the Iranians in future talks with the US. The Americans decided to try soft power on the Iranians… Iran thinks the world will come towards it."

Iran, according to Dagan, "wants to be like Egypt was in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a lot of cooperation between Iran, North Korea and Syria. The notion of an Iranian nuclear weapon is an existential threat to Israel and has to be removed."

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IAEA Chief: Iran Would Like Nuke Option
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Iran appears to be mastering nuclear technology so it could have the option of a nuclear weapon, the head of the international nuclear watchdog IAEA said.

Mohammed ElBaradei, director general of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, told the BBC that countries with nuclear weapons were perceived and treated differently than countries without such an arsenal.

"It is my gut feeling that Iran would like to have the technology to enable it to have nuclear weapons," ElBaradei said in the interview published Tuesday. "They want to send a message to their neighbors, to the rest of the world, 'Don't mess with us.'"

"But the ultimate aim of Iran, as I understand it, is they want to be recognized as a major power in the Middle East," he said.

In broader terms, ElBaradei said the greater threat was the possibility of an extremist group getting a hold of a nuclear weapon, because the idea of deterrence doesn't apply.

The only safe future, he told the British broadcaster, was nuclear disarmament led by existing nuclear powers that, between them, have 27,000 atomic warheads.

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Iran 'Will Not' Deprive Nation of Nuclear Power
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Iran's ambassador to the IAEA says Western powers should learn to live with the fact that Tehran 'will never' abandon its low-level nuclear work.

Ali-Ashgar Soltaniyeh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, said Wednesday that the Western powers should come to terms with the reality that Iran has managed to master the enrichment technology.

Western countries should also cope with it that Iran will continue its uranium enrichment, albeit with the full cooperation of the UN nuclear watchdog,Soltaniyeh explained.

Soltaniyeh said that over the past six years, UN nuclear officials have published over 20 reports regarding Iran's nuclear activity -- all of which confirm the non-diversion of Iran's uranium enrichment.

The UN nuclear watchdog has so far made "21 unannounced inspections" of the country's nuclear facilities.

Washington and a slew of European powers accuse Tehran of trying to create nuclear weapons capability. Iran, however, dismisses the allegation, saying its uranium enrichment is solely aimed at peaceful energy production.

Soltaniyeh asserted that the Iranian government and people stand united on the nuclear issue. Therefore we will never deprive our great nation of the peaceful use of nuclear technology at any rate.

Iranians see nuclear development as a sign of national independence, similar to the oil, nationalized in 1951, in spite of fierce western opposition.

The Mossadeq government, which led the oil nationalization movement was brought down in the 1953 coup d'tat engineered by the CIA.

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China and Russia Pressure N Korea
BBC News
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Russia and China have urged North Korea to return to the negotiating table over the future of its nuclear programmes.

In a joint statement the two powers expressed "serious concern" about tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Their move came after North Korea had threatened a "thousand-fold" retaliation against the US and its allies if Pyongyang were provoked.

China and Russia have already signed a United Nations resolution approving tougher sanctions against North Korea.

The reclusive state held a nuclear test and launched missiles in May, has torn up peace agreements signed after the Korean War in 1953, ejected international nuclear energy monitors, and threatened more tests.

China and Russia issued their joint statement after a series of meetings in Russia. Nine out of 14 pages focused on economic issues.

These included a deal for Russia to supply China with oil for 20 years, and cooperation agreements in coal and natural gas production.

Time to talk

The statement issued by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pressed for a peaceful resolution of the Korean standoff and the "swiftest renewal" of the now-frozen six-party talks involving their countries as well as North and South Korea, Japan and the United States.

"Russia and China are ready to foster the lowering of tension in Northeast Asia and call for the continuation of efforts by all sides to resolve disagreements through peaceful means, through dialogue and consultations," the statement said.

Analysts said the direct mention of concern about developments in North Korea was a clear sign of growing impatience with Pyongyang even among its allies.

In Vienna, at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, diplomats said China and Russia joined other nations in calling on North Korea to return to talks.

The Chinese delegate said the international community needed to respect North Korea's sovereignty, but urged the Pyongyang regime to come back to the table "and the rest of us to show calm and restraint," a diplomat told reporters.

North Korea stopped cooperating with the IAEA in mid-April, ordered the agency to remove all containment and surveillance equipment from the Yongbyon nuclear facilities and asked IAEA inspectors to leave the country.

Shared borders

North-eastern China, and Russia's Far East, share borders with North Korea.

China has long been a rare friend to North Korea, having fought on its side against US-led forces in the Korean War of 1950 to 1953.

Moscow was one of North Korea's strongest backers during the Cold War. After the 1991 Soviet collapse, China was the only country with any real clout with North Korea, although Moscow has tried to nurture ties in recent years.

This week, North Korea threatened a "thousand-fold" military retaliation against the US and its allies if it is provoked.

The warning came after US President Barack Obama said that a nuclear-armed North Korea posed a "grave threat" to the world.

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US Prepares for N.Korean Missile Launch on Hawaii
Dan De Luce
(for personal use only)

The US military has moved additional defenses to Hawaii in case North Korea launches a missile towards the Pacific island chain, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said.

The decision to deploy missile defense weaponry to the remote US state came as the US military tracked a North Korean ship possibly carrying cargo banned under tougher UN sanctions.

It was the first vessel to be monitored under the UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang last week after the Stalinist regime carried out an underground nuclear test on May 25.

Gates said Washington was watching North Korea for missile activity and that there were concerns Pyongyang might "launch a missile... in the direction of Hawaii."

He said he had approved the deployment of THAAD missile defense weaponry to Hawaii and a radar system nearby "to provide support" in case of a possible North Korean launch.

And he said that ground-based defenses in Alaska were also at the ready.

"I would just say I think we are in a good position should it become necessary to protect American territory," he said.

The Theatre High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weaponry, coupled with the radar system, are designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.

US and South Korean officials have said North Korea might be readying another ballistic missile test after three previous launches in 1998, 2006 and this year.

Pyongyang said its latest April 5 launch put a satellite into orbit, while the United States and its allies labeled it a disguised test of a Taepodong-2 missile theoretically capable of reaching Alaska.

But North Korea has yet to demonstrate it has the ability to build a nuclear warhead that could be fitted onto the tip of one of its ballistic missiles.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been running high after Pyongyang carried out its second nuclear test last month.

A US defense official confirmed that the military was monitoring a flagged North Korean ship that might be carrying nuclear or missile-related cargo in violation of new UN sanctions.

"There is a particular ship that we are closely monitoring," the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The US military had been tracking the ship, the Kang Nam, for "several days now," said the official.

The ship could provide the first test of the UN Security Council resolution adopted a week ago that bans shipments of arms and nuclear and missile technology to and from North Korea.

Under compromise language favored by China and Russia, the UN resolution calls for inspections of ships but rules out the use of military force to back up the searches.

The sanctions allow for the US Navy and others to ask to inspect North Korean vessels and ships flagged from other countries suspected of carrying banned cargo.

"We intend to vigorously enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 to include options, to include, certainly, hail and query," Admiral Mike Mullen, the top US military officer, told reporters at the joint news conference with Gates.

If the ship refuses the search, then the vessel would be directed to a nearby port, Mullen said.

"The country of that port... is required to inspect the vessel and to also keep the United Nations informed, obviously, if a vessel like this would refuse to comply," he said.

Mullen would not confirm whether the military was tracking a particular North Korean vessel.

The United Nations resolution calls on member states to inspect ships if there are "reasonable grounds" that a vessel may be carrying illicit cargo.

Analysts say North Korea could get around the shipping measures by transporting banned cargo by air and exploiting provisions that prohibit the use of military force.

However, experts say the financial sanctions in the UN resolution could prove more effective against the isolated Stalinist state.

On Saturday, the North vowed to build more atomic bombs and start enriching uranium for a new nuclear weapons program, in response to the UN sanctions.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun meanwhile reported that Tokyo's defense ministry believes North Korea might now be planning to launch a two-stage or three-stage Taepodong-2 missile towards either Japan's Okinawa island, Guam or Hawaii.

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N. Korean Missile Possibly at Launch Site in Musudan-ri Report
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

North Korea may have recently transported a long-range ballistic missile, presumably an improved version of the Taepodong-2 missile, to a launch site in Musudan-ri on the country's northeastern coast, a South Korean daily reported Wednesday.

A special North Korean train, which last month transported a long- range rocket or intercontinental ballistic missile to a launch site in Dongchang-ri on the country's west coast, recently moved from a missile research center in Sanum-dong in the suburbs of Pyongyang to another launch site in Musudan-ri in North Hamgyong Province along the Sea of Japan coast, the Chosun Ilbo said, quoting a South Korean government source.

South Korean and U.S. authorities believe the North may have transported a second intercontinental missile to the launch site, the report said, noting that North Korea launched a long-range rocket from Musudan-ri on April 5, which had also been transported by special train.

This time, the special train returned to the suburbs of Pyongyang after staying in Musudan-ri for a couple of days, the report said, referring to the information obtained through U.S. reconnaissance satellite.

Earlier reports said North Korea has recently prohibited vessels from navigating in the mid- and upper parts of the Yellow Sea close to Dongchang-ri for nearly two months until the end of July.

Seoul and Washington are wondering whether Pyongyang will launch two long-range missiles from both launch sites -- in Dongchang-ri and Musudan-ri -- at the same time or whether the train is just a smokescreen to confuse watchers, the report said.

North Korea apparently has three to four intercontinental ballistic missiles and may be keeping one or two more at the research center in Sanum-dong, it said.

North Korea has threatened to launch another missile in protest against U.N. sanctions against its nuclear test last month.

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C.  Syria

IAEA Chief, Israel Lock Horns Over Syria
Simon Morgan
(for personal use only)

UN watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei sparred with an Israeli envoy on Thursday after being accused of bias in the handling of an investigation into Syria's nuclear activities, diplomats said.

The United States meanwhile accused Syria of obstructing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe into allegations that it was building a secret nuclear reactor at a site that was bombed by Israeli jets in September 2007.

Israeli ambassador Israel Michaeli made his accusation to ElBaradei during a debate on Syria at a meeting of the IAEA's 35-member board.

Michaeli urged ElBaradei, an Egyptian, "to avoid political bias in dealing with Syria's nuclear file."

ElBaradei has frequently hit out at Israel for not informing the IAEA of its concerns about the suspect site in Syria before bombing it.

"Israel has responded timely and in good faith to the question addressed to it regarding the possible origin of the uranium particles, traced in the site of the nuclear reactor in Dair Alzour," Michaeli said in remarks, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Traces of uranium were found at the site -- known alternatively as Dair Alzour or Al-Kibar -- which Damascus claims came from the Israeli bombs that razed the building.

"Therefore the repeated calls by the director general on Israel to cooperate with this investigation are redundant," the envoy added, accusing ElBaradei of "publicly bashing at Israel."

The IAEA chief was angered by Michaeli's remarks, and according to a transcript of his comments obtained by AFP, described the Israeli envoy's statement as "totally distorted."

"We work here in an organisation that is an organisation of international law. We apply international law, not selectively, but across the board," ElBaradei said.

"When Israel took it upon itself to destroy a facility, what was claimed to be a nuclear facility, without giving the agency the opportunity to verify that ... this was not only making it almost impossible for us to establish the facts, but it was a clear violation of international law," he said.

While the Israeli envoy had said Syria should be "deplored and condemned... Israel, with its action, is deplored by not allowing us to do what we are supposed to do under international law," ElBaradei continued.

Israel "is not even a member of the regime to tell us what tools are available to us," ElBaradei said, referring to Israel's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"We would appreciate it if you could stop preaching to us how we can do our jobs."

And he added: "You cannot sit on the fence, making use of the system, without being accountable."

Israel is widely considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state.

ElBaradei rejected the accusation of bias.

"To say that I am biased, I will not dignify that with a response. I will leave it to the board, who can decide whether we are doing our work with the required impartiality and professionalism," he said.

Syria was the main focus of debate on the fourth day of the IAEA meeting, which was expected to end later on Thursday.

Damascus denies that Dair Alzour was a nuclear reactor, claiming it was a disused military facility.

It has only allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the site once, and has since turned down requests for follow-up inspections and access to other sites.

The IAEA has said the building bore some characteristics of a nuclear facility and that UN inspectors had detected "significant" traces of man-made uranium at that site, as yet unexplained by Damascus.

In its latest report, the IAEA revealed that inspectors had now found uranium particles at a second site -- a research reactor near Damascus -- that would not normally be expected there.

It was too early to say whether the uranium particles at the two sites were in any way connected, according to the IAEA.

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Syria Plays Down Uranium Find by UN Nuclear Agency
Associated Press
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Syria's nuclear chief is suggesting the U.N. nuclear agency's discovery of new uranium traces in the country do not harden allegations that Damascus has a hidden nuclear program.

Ibrahim Othman's comments are the first from Syria about the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent announcement that it found unexplained traces of uranium at a Syrian site for the second time.

Othman played down the discovery Tuesday and described it as only "one particle or two particles."

The IAEA has been investigating Syria since Israel bombed a Syrian site in 2007 that the U.S. says was a secret nuclear reactor built with North Korean help.

The agency's 35-nation board is preparing to debate allegations that Damascus was running such a program.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Japan to Help Other Countries Develop Nuclear Power
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Japan launched an organisation on Thursday to help other countries promote nuclear power generation which is increasingly in demand in the age of global warming, officials said.

The new body, the International Nuclear Energy Cooperation Council, comprises representatives from government branches, power utilities, nuclear power plant makers and research organisations, they said.

It will help the makers' overseas expansion while there are requests from Asian and Middle East countries for Japan's help in the field, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"Nuclear power plants have been revalued from the viewpoints of ensuring energy sources and dealing with global warming," Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai told an inaugural meeting of the council.

"Japan has a long track record in safe operation of nuclear power plants and it has become a model for peaceful use of nuclear power," he said.

The council will train people from other countries who will take charge of designing and operating nuclear power stations. It will also help other countries develop infrastructure for the safe operation of nuclear power plants.

About 30 countries, including Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates, are planning to develop nuclear power, public broadcaster NHK reported.

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Nuclear Fusion Power Project to Start in 2018: Official
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An experimental reactor that could harness nuclear fusion, the power that fuels the Sun, will begin operation in southern France in 2018, the project's governing body announced Thursday.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) should be fully operational in 2026, the ITER Council said in a communique after a meeting in Japan.

The seven-nation council endorsed a "phased" completion of the multi-billion-dollar reactor, with a target date for "first plasma" by the end of 2018.

ITER is designed to produce 500 megawatts of power for extended periods, 10 times the energy needed to keep the energy-generating plasma -- a form of radioactive gas -- at extremely high temperatures.

It will also test a number of key technologies for fusion including the heating, control and remote maintenance that will be needed for a full-scale fusion power station.

Preliminary trials would use only hydrogen. Key experiments using tritium and deuterium that can validate fusion as a producer of large amounts of power would not take place until 2026.

Launched in 2006 after years of debate, the pilot project at Cadarache, near Marseille, has seven backers: the European Union (EU), China, India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States. Kazakhstan is poised to become the eighth member.

Nuclear fusion entails forcing together the nuclei of light atomic elements in a super-heated plasma, held in a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak, so that they make heavier elements and in so doing release energy.

The process, used by the Sun and other stars, would be safe and have negligible problems of waste, say its defenders.

In contrast, nuclear fission, which entails splitting the nucleus of an atom to release energy, remains dogged by concerns about safety and dangerously radioactive long-term waste.

Four years ago, ITER was priced at around 10 billion euros (13.8 billion dollars today), spread among its stakeholders, led by the EU, which has a 45-percent share.

Five billion euros (6.9 billion dollars) would go to constructing the tokamak and other facilities, and five billion euros to the 20-year operations phase.

Last month, the British science journal Nature said construction costs "are likely to double" and the cost of operations "may also rise."

"We are in the process of calculating the final cost of the project," ITER spokesman Neil Calder told AFP. "The financing plan will be presented in November at the next meeting of the council."

If ITER is a success, the next step would be to build a commercial reactor, a goal likely to be further decades away.

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Obama-Backed Nuclear Fuel Bank Plan Stalls at IAEA
Sylvia Westall
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A uranium fuel supply plan hailed by U.S. President Barack Obama as a way to stem the spread of nuclear arms stalled in talks at the U.N. atomic watchdog on Thursday after resistance from developing nations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and industrialized nations argue that a multilateral uranium-enrichment center would best meet growing global nuclear energy demand while dissuading nations from building proliferation-prone enrichment plants themselves.

But emerging nations, who fear "multinationalizing" control over the fuel cycle would curb their right to home-grown atomic energy for electricity, rejected a request by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to develop a detailed plan for approval in September.

While developing states agreed to let talks go on, they warned others on the IAEA's 35-nation governing board against "attempts meant to discourage the pursuit of any peaceful nuclear technology on grounds of its alleged 'sensitivity'."

Diplomats in the boardroom said India led the objections. "A large number of delegations do not want to proceed," the Indian chief delegate said. Developing nations comprise about half the IAEA board, which makes key decisions by diplomatic consensus.

Current board chairman Taous Feroukhi of Algeria agreed there was no consensus to move forward and so referred the proposal to further "discussions and consultations."

"(Developing nation) delegations kept saying they felt this plan would hamper their inalienable and sovereign right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop their own nuclear fuel cycle," said a Vienna diplomat in the closed-door gathering.

"The bottom line is, the plan is not dead but discussions will continue with nowhere near the enthusiasm the IAEA Secretariat had hoped for," another diplomat told Reuters. "There will be a huge delay in getting this thing done."


The aim of an IAEA-supervised fuel bank is to provide low-enriched uranium from industrialized nations' stocks if recipients meet strict non-proliferation criteria. Uranium enriched to high levels forms the fissile core of atom bombs.

In a landmark speech on nuclear disarmament in April, Obama said the plan would give any country the benefits of nuclear power if they renounced atomic weapons, giving a hefty extra boost to a plan that was backed by the Bush administration.

"We should keep in mind that the purpose of these proposals is to expand, not to restrict, access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy," U.S. envoy Geoffrey Pyatt told the IAEA board.

The idea, which is not new, was given fresh impetus by Iran's expanding enrichment program which the West suspects is geared to yielding atom bombs, something Tehran denies. North Korea's nuclear tests have also added urgency.

The IAEA expects demand for nuclear power to rise rapidly, especially in unstable regions of the world, with over 60 states asking the IAEA to help develop their nuclear power potential.

Two main draft plans have been floated. An IAEA proposal said $150 million in donations pledged for the initiative could buy 60-80 tons of low-enriched uranium that would be offered to member states at market prices. Russia has offered to host an 120-tonne LEU reserve to supply the U.N. watchdog.

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Report: 100 New Reactors Would Result in Up to $4 Trillion in Excess Costs for U.S. Taxpayers and Ratepayers
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The likely cost of electricity for a new generation of nuclear reactors would be 12-20 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh), considerably more expensive than the average cost of increased use of energy efficiency and renewable energies at 6 cents per kilowatt hour, according to a major new study by economist Dr. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. The report finds that it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables.

Titled "The Economics of Nuclear Reactors," Cooper's analysis of over three dozen cost estimates for proposed new nuclear reactors shows that the projected price tags for the plants have quadrupled since the start of the industry's so-called "nuclear renaissance" at the beginning of this decade -- a striking parallel to the eventually seven-fold increase in reactor costs estimates that doomed the "Great Bandwagon Market" of the 1960s and 1970s, when half of planned reactors had to be abandoned or cancelled due to massive cost overruns.

The study notes that the required massive subsidies from taxpayers and ratepayers would not change the real cost of nuclear reactors, they would just shift the risks to the public. Even with huge subsidies, nuclear reactors would remain more costly than the alternatives, such as efficiency, biomass, wind and cogeneration.

Dr. Mark Cooper said: "We are literally seeing nuclear reactor history repeat itself. The 'Great Bandwagon Market' that ended so badly for consumers in the 1970s and 1980s was driven by advocates who confused hope and hype with reality. It is telling that in the few short years since the so-called 'Nuclear Renaissance' began there has been a four-fold increase in projected costs. In both time periods, the original low-ball estimates were promotional, not practical; they were based on hope and hype intended to promote the industry."

Commenting on the study, former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford said: "This study makes clear that new nuclear reactors can only be built if taxpayers or customers assume the very large risks that investors would normally bear in the U.S. economy. Such subsidy to a mature industry -- already heavily subsidized -- is contrary to the fundamental free enterprise principles that protect customers and allocate resources efficiently. The risks of cost overruns, reactor cancellation, poor operation and the development of less costly competitors are real. All have happened to nuclear power in the U.S. before. If the enormous financial burden of assuming these risks falls on the taxpayers (in the form of loan guarantees), it will increase our national deficit and crowd out other borrowers needing federal credit support. If it falls on customers (in the form of ratemaking guarantees), it will create additional economic hardship and job loss ... Setting a quota of 100 new nuclear reactors by a certain date presumes -- against decades of evidence to the contrary -- that politicians can pick technological winners. Such a policy combines distraction, deception, debt and disappointment in a mixture reminiscent of other failed federal policies in recent years."

To pin down the likely cost of new nuclear reactors, the Cooper report first dissects three dozen recent projections of the cost of new nuclear reactors. Second, it places those projections in the context of the long sweep of the history of the industry with a database of the costs of 100 reactors built in the U.S. between 1971 and 1996. Third, it examines those costs in comparison to the cost of alternatives available today to meet the need for electricity. Finally, it considers a range of qualitative factors including environmental concerns, risks and subsidies that affect decisions about which technologies to utilize in an environment where public policy requires constraints on carbon emissions.

Among the key findings of the Cooper study are the following:

-- On average, the final cohort of "Great Bandwagon Market" reactors cost seven times as much as the cost projection for the first reactors of the Great Bandwagon Market.

-- The cost projections put out early in today's so-called "nuclear renaissance" were about one-third of what one would have expected, based on the reactors completed in the 1990s.

-- The most recent cost projections for new reactors are, on average, over four times as high as the initial projections used to spark the "nuclear renaissance." Unlike the 1960s and 1970s, when the vendors and government officials monopolized the preparation of cost analyses, today Wall Street and independent analysts have come forward with more realistic and therefore, much higher estimates of the cost of nuclear reactors.

-- Utilities and Wall Street analysts agree that nuclear reactors will not be built without massive direct subsidies from the federal government and/or ratepayers.

-- Analysis of the technical potential to deliver economically practicable options for low-cost, low-carbon approaches indicates that the supply is ample to meet both electricity needs and carbon reduction targets for three decades.

-- Considering economic risk and the environmental, safety and security issues associated with nuclear reactors shows that not only are nuclear reactors among the worst options we have available from the point of view of consumer pocketbook economics, they are also among the worst from the societal point of view.

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Uzbekistan, Japan Agree on Joint Uranium Exploration
RIA Novosti
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Uzbekistan and Japan have signed an agreement on the joint exploration of uranium deposits, a source in the Central Asian republic said.

The agreement was signed on Wednesday between the Uzbek State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources and the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.

"The Japanese side will invest about $500,000 this year in the project in the Navoi region [central Uzbekistan]. The project is expected to be completed in March 2010," the source said.

The parties are expected to split equally the potential profits, the source said.

Uzbekistan has the world's seventh largest uranium reserves and is the fifth biggest uranium producer. 40 uranium fields have so far been explored in the Central Asian republic.

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E.  Nuclear Industry

WorleyParsons in Nuclear Deal with Egypt
Clancy Yeates
Sydney Morning Herald
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WorleyParsons will help deliver two new nuclear power plants in Egypt and Armenia, as the engineering company pursues growing interest in the contentious energy source.

In a deal worth $US160 million, WorleyParsons will manage the engineering and construction of Egypt's first nuclear power plant, which will have a capacity of 1200 megawatts.

The firm will also provide consulting services to Armenia's government over plans to build a new nuclear plant, which could be worth more than $US430 million.

WorleyParsons shares jumped on the news and closed 5 per cent higher at $24.13.

The company beat the US contracting giant Bechtel for the Egyptian project, which is intended to diversify the country's energy mix out of oil and gas.

The news comes amid increasing global interest in nuclear power as a "green'' alternative to coal-fired electricity.

Last month energy ministers from the richest eight countries in the world stressed the role of nuclear power in addressing worries about carbon emissions and security of energy supply.

WorleyParsons is already building the Belene nuclear plant in Bulgaria, where it has an office providing power consultancy services across Europe, Africa and the former Soviet Union.

"We are absolutely delighted to be awarded this contract,'' the company's chief executive, John Grill, said. "WorleyParsons has been working in the Egyptian power sector for over 25 years and this contract reaffirms our commitment to the country.''

Power projects made up for around 10 per cent of WorleyParsons' revenue in the 2007-08 financial year, while fossil fuels projects such as oil exploration made up 73 per cent of its revenue.

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Nuclear Nations Rush to Lock in Uranium Deals
Cameron French
(for personal use only)

A global shift toward nuclear power is prompting countries to rush to lock in long-term access to tight supplies of uranium, and China and India look to be the next players to get in on the action.

A tie-up between Rosatom, the Russian state-owned producer, Rosatom and Canada-based miner Uranium One announced this week is just the latest in a series of moves on the part of Asian and European countries to lock in uranium supply to fuel construction of dozens of new reactors over the next decade.

"I think increasingly the supply of reactors is being tied to security of supply of nuclear fuel," said Divya Reddy, an energy analyst with the Eurasia Group in Washington.

Rosatom secured a 17 percent stake in Uranium One and a long-term supply deal in exchange for a half stake in the Karatau mine in Kazakhstan.

Uranium One is also trying to close a C$270 million ($240 million) 20 percent share sale and supply agreement with Japan's Toshiba Corp, Toyko Electric Power Co, and Japan Bank for international Cooperation, while uranium miner Denison Mines recently agreed to sell 20 percent of itself to Korea Electric Power Corp.

Reddy sees more activity from Russia as it strives to expand its influence in the nuclear industry, but said the most likely sources of demand in the longer run will come from Asia, including India, which last year signed a deal ending a three-decade ban on nuclear trade with the United States.

"There is definitely growth in demand from developing countries. China would be the biggest market, India probably next," she said.

China, with the most ambitious nuclear power expansion plans, has been in talks with top uranium miner Cameco about a potential supply deal, a company spokesman confirmed.

Australia is also mulling selling uranium from BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine to China, provided it is not used in Beijing's weapons program.


Led by China, India and Russia, more than 100 new reactors will be built over the next decade, Cameco estimates, all part of a global push to reduce dependence on greenhouse gas-producing power sources such as coal.

With new reactors expected to be larger on average than the 426 currently in operation, generating capacity would grow by 28 percent, the company says.

"Over 10 years, the demand for uranium will definitely continue to rise, and there will be a need for new mines and new solutions," said Mike Goldenberg, director of nuclear fuel markets at New York-based Evolution Markets.

Meanwhile, state-run Russian and Kazakh nuclear concerns have been busy signing deals with countries such as China and Japan to export nuclear industry and technology.

Traditionally a small industry with production dominated by Canada in recent years, the uranium sector has come alive of late as rising demand has driven prices up sharply from the $7 a pound they were trading at in 2000.

Spot uranium, which peaked at $136 a pound in 2007, was at $53 a pound this week.

Kazakhstan has leveraged its massive reserves into a rapidly expanding industry, while Australia is also ramping up production with several mines in the planning stage.

Uranium One CEO Jean Nortier said last week that Africa could emerge as the next hot spot for the mineral, where uranium is often found in copper and gold deposits.

Equinox Minerals, for instance, plans to build a uranium mill to process ore from its Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.

Increases in production will be necessary to keep afloat an industry that is already sharply in deficit.


Mined production last year fell short of consumption by about 60 million pounds, with the shortfall made up largely by recycled material and diluted enriched uranium from decommissioned nuclear weapons, sold by Russia under an agreement with Western producers that will end in 2013.

"The Chinese are already out actively sourcing (uranium), and most recently, because they've just recently been allowed back in to the nuclear club, India has been courted by just about every nuclear technology supplier in the world," said George Topping, an analyst at Blackmont Capital in Toronto.

With mid-tier producers such as Uranium One and Denison already having taken on national partners, Topping expects uranium-hungry countries to seek supply deals with top producers such as Cameco BHP and Rio Tinto, and enter deals to finance smaller developers with viable projects.

"(Buying a stake,) that's the first choice, but if you can't have that, then you can finance companies with advanced deposits," he said.

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F.  Non-Proliferation

Arms Talks Ahead Of Obama Visit
Conor Sweeney
(for personal use only)

Russia said on Thursday that talks with the United States on reducing vast arsenals of Cold War nuclear weapons were proceeding constructively ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Moscow in July.

Finding a replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) before it expires on December 5 would mark a thaw in relations between the world's biggest two nuclear powers.

The two sides are seeking to narrow differences before Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meet in Moscow on July 6-8. Both countries have already stated their desire to "reset" relations, which deteriorated to near Cold War levels.

"There is an active negotiating process going on at the moment to work out an agreement that would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters at a weekly briefing.

"The negotiations are taking place in a constructive and business-like manner. We count on the presidents being able to make an announcement on interim results at the July summit," he said.

The next round of U.S.-Russia negotiations on START will take place June 23-24 in Geneva, he said. Two rounds of talks have already taken place.

Obama and Medvedev have said the new arms deal should cut stockpiles below those in the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), under which both sides are to cut their arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.

Russia also wants to link the nuclear talks to U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile shield in Europe and has pushed for the United States to put a limit on the number of delivery systems -- the rockets or other means that deliver weapons.

Nesterenko said the Summit agenda would concentrate on improving practical cooperation, for example on countering nuclear proliferation but would also discuss August's Afghan elections and broader political and economic ties.

"There is intensive preparation... and we hope for a highly productive Moscow summit," Nesterenko said.

A business forum attended by business leaders from both the United States and Russia will coincide with Obama's visit, Nesterenko said.

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US Officials Linked to AQ Khan's N-network
S. Rajagopalan
The New Indian Express
(for personal use only)

Top US officials allowed Pakistan in the 1980s to manufacture and possess nuclear weapons and were aware that the A Q Khan nuclear network was violating American laws, a US based watchdog has told the US Congress, citing a former CIA whistleblower.

Danielle Brian, executive director of Project on Government Oversight, told a Senate panel that CIA officer Richard Barlow, who then worked for the Pentagon, was fired for suggesting that the Congress should be made aware of the situation relating to Pakistans nuclear programme.

Brian related the Barlow episode to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee as one of the instances where whistleblowers have come to grief.

The brave, honest public servants deserve better than this second-class system. Bringing up Barlows findings, Brian said that working as a CIA counter-proliferation intelligence officer in the 1980s, he learned that top US officials were allowing Pakistan to manufacture and possess nuclear weapons, and that the A Q Khan nuclear network was violating US laws.

Barlow also discovered that top officials were hiding these activities from Congress, since telling the truth would have legally obligated the US government to cut off its overt military aid to Pakistan at a time when covert military aid was being funneled through Pakistan to Afghan jihadists in the war against the Soviets.

Brian said that after engineering the arrests of Khans nuclear agents in the US, he left to work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Top officials at the DoD (Department of Defence) continued to lie about Pakistans nuclear programme. Barlow objected and suggested to his supervisors that Congress should be made aware of the situation. Because Barlow merely suggested that Congress should know the truth, Barlow was fired, she said.

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The 2009 Plenary Meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
U.S. Department of State
(for personal use only)

The 75 partner nations of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (Global Initiative) will meet in The Hague, the Netherlands on 16-17 June for the 2009 Plenary Meeting. They will focus on enhancing the Global Initiative and international partnerships, including by sharing best practices among the Partner nations and will welcome Uzbekistan and Mauritius, nations that endorsed the Global Initiative since the 2008 Plenary Meeting, into the partnership. To date partners have conducted over thirty Global Initiative workshops, conferences, and exercises aimed to build capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to acts of nuclear terrorism. Partners of the Global Initiative will be joined by official observers from the European Union (EU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

The Hague Plenary is the latest opportunity for all Global Initiative partners “to develop partnership capacity to combat nuclear terrorism on a determined and systematic basis” as set out in their agreed Statement of Principles.

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G.  Links of Interest

Ending a Dream, or Nightmare
The Economist
(for personal use only)

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