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Nuclear News - 6/23/2009
PGS Nuclear News, June 23, 2009
Compiled By: Luke Wagoner

A.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Third Round of Russia-U.S. Nuclear Talks Opens in Geneva, RIA Novosti (6/23/2009)
    2. Abolishing Nuclear Weapons a Slow Process, Says Evans, Scott Bevan, ABC News (6/23/2009)
    3. UAE, S.Korea Sign Nuclear Cooperation Pact, Reuters (6/22/2009)
    4. Britain, Jordan Sign Nuclear Pact, AFP (6/22/2009)
    5. Russia Ready for Deep Nuclear Arms Cuts: Medvedev, Oleg Shchedrov, Reuters (6/20/2009)
    6. Obama-Backed Nuclear Fuel Bank Plan Stalls at IAEA, Sylvia Westall, Reuters (6/18/2009)
    1. U.S. Keeps Close Eye On North Korean Ship, Jay Solomon and Yochi J. Dreazen, Wall Street Journal (6/23/2009)
    2. US and China Set for Defence Talks on N.Korea, AFP (6/23/2009)
    3. Russia Backs Five-Nation Talks on North Korea, RIA Novosti (6/22/2009)
C.  Pakistan
    1. Qaeda Vows to Fire Pakistan Nukes at US, PressTV (6/22/2009)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Medvedev Visits Namibia with Eye on Uranium, AFP (6/23/2009)
    2. A Balance of Nuclear Power for Germany, World Nuclear News (6/22/2009)
E.  Iran
    1. Son of Shah Says Protesters Defeat Could Lead to Nuclear War, AFP (6/22/2009)
    2. Netanyahu: Iran Cannot be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Weapons, CNN (6/21/2009)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Global Reactor Capacities, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (6/23/2009)
    2. Testing Times for Nuclear Watchdog, Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera (6/23/2009)
    3. Non-Proliferation 'Going in Circles', World Nuclear News (6/19/2009)

A.  Nuclear Cooperation

Abolishing Nuclear Weapons a Slow Process, Says Evans
Scott Bevan
ABC News
(for personal use only)

An Australian-driven commission aimed at promoting global debate about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has wrapped up a three-day meeting in Moscow.

The Russian and American presidents are due to hold their own talks on nuclear weapons cuts next month.

The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament has used its Moscow get-together to meet senior Russian government officials.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have also addressed the meeting.

They argue that with the US and Russia talking about reducing their nuclear arsenals, now is the time to intensify the push for a comprehensive treaty to abolish nuclear weapons.

Commission co-chair Gareth Evans says that is the ultimate goal but it will take a lot of time.

"Nobody's coming to that party for the foreseeable future; it is going to have to be a step-by-step approach," he said.

The Commission has also held talks in Moscow with representatives of the world's nuclear power industry.

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Third Round of Russia-U.S. Nuclear Talks Opens in Geneva
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

The third round of comprehensive Russia-U.S. talks on a new strategic arms reduction pact opened on Monday in Geneva, a Russian diplomat told RIA Novosti.

The first two rounds of Russia-U.S. arms reduction talks were held on May 19-20 in Moscow and on June 1-3 in Geneva. The U.S. team of negotiators is led by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, while the Russian delegation is headed by Anatoly Antonov, director of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Security and Disarmament.

"The talks are being held behind closed doors at the U.S. mission [in Geneva]," the source said, adding that they will continue until June 24.

The Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START 1), which expires in December 2009, obliges Russia and the United States to reduce nuclear warheads to 6,000 and their delivery vehicles to 1,600 each. In 2002, a follow-up agreement on strategic offensive arms reduction was concluded in Moscow. The agreement, known as the Moscow Treaty, envisioned cuts to 1,700-2,200 warheads by December 2012.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama agreed during their London meeting in early April that the talks would commence virtually immediately.

According to a report published by the U.S. State Department in April, as of January 1 Russia had 3,909 nuclear warheads and 814 delivery vehicles, including ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers.

The same report said the United States had 5,576 warheads and 1,198 delivery vehicles.

Russia, which proposed a new arms reduction agreement with the U.S. in 2005, expects Washington to agree on a deal that would restrict not only the numbers of nuclear warheads, but also place limits on all existing kinds of delivery vehicles.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on June 20 he hopes the U.S. has a good understanding of Russia's position, voiced by President Medvedev, that any arms cuts should also involve a resolution on the controversial issue of a planned U.S. missile defense shield due to be deployed in Central Europe.

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Britain, Jordan Sign Nuclear Pact
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Britain and Jordan signed a nuclear cooperation pact here Monday, with Foreign Secretary David Miliband hailing the country's "transparent" approach to developing nuclear energy.

Miliband inked the deal with Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh in the sidelines of a visit by King Abdullah II, saying Britain was committed to helping the energy-poor Arab country develop its civil nuclear programme.

"If we are to move the world to a low-carbon economy, then nuclear power needs to be an important part of the energy mix," Miliband said after the signing, while Prime Minister Gordon Brown met the Jordanian monarch.

"But it needs to be developed in a safe and secure way... Jordan?s nuclear power programme is fully transparent making it a model for countries considering developing their own civil nuclear programmes," he added.

Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, and several other Arab countries have announced plans for nuclear power programmes, faced with Shiite Iran's controversial atomic drive.

In February Iraq's Electricity Minister Electricity Minister Karim Wahid invited France to help his country build a nuclear plant.

In March Jordan said four international firms have proposed to build a nuclear plant in the kingdom to help generate power and desalinate water.

Jordan's 1.2 billion tonnes of phosphate reserves are estimated to contain 130,000 tonnes of uranium, whose enriched form provides fuel for nuclear plants.

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UAE, S.Korea Sign Nuclear Cooperation Pact
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The United Arab Emirates signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea on Monday to allow the transfer of technology and equipment to the Gulf Arab state, the official WAM news agency said.

The agreement will allow South Korean firms to compete with U.S. and French rivals for contracts under the UAE nuclear energy programme.

The agreement "stipulates that the government of South Korea would help the UAE in building its peaceful nuclear programme ... over 20 years", WAM reported.

Unlike its neighbour across the Gulf, Iran, the UAE has won Western backing for its nuclear energy plans that would help the world's third-largest oil exporter meet rising demand for electricity without tapping export crude.

The deal was signed during a visit by South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo. The UAE plans to build a number of reactors to meet an expected requirement for an extra 40,000 megawatts of electricity by 2017.

The United States has been at odds with Iran over the Islamic Republic's atomic plans, which Washington says are aimed at building a bomb, a charge Tehran denies vehemntly.

The UAE has vowed transparency. It said it would draw up legislation to govern the sector and establish a regulatory authority and an international advisory board of experts.

In May, U.S. President Barack Obama approved a nuclear energy deal with the UAE worth potentially billions of dollars to U.S. energy companies.

U.S. firm GE (GE.N) and Westinghouse Electric Co, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp (6502.T), stand to secure a big share of the expected $40 billion market if the U.S. Congress approves the deal.

The UAE has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to have its first nuclear power plant ready in 2015, an IAEA director said last month. The IAEA believes this is optimistic, the director said.

French firms also plan to compete for the business. France's Total (TOTF.PA), Suez (LYOE.PA), and state nuclear reactor maker Areva (CEPFi.PA) said last year they planned to develop two third-generation reactors in the UAE.

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Russia Ready for Deep Nuclear Arms Cuts: Medvedev
Oleg Shchedrov
(for personal use only)

Russia is ready to dramatically cut its nuclear stockpiles in a new arms pact with the United States if Washington meets Russia's concerns over missile defense, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday.

"We are ready to reduce by several times the number of nuclear delivery vehicles compared with the START-1 pact," he told a news conference in Amsterdam.

"As far as warheads are concerned, their numbers should be lower than envisaged by the Moscow 2002 pact," he added.

He was referring to an interim pact called the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) which commits the sides to further cuts in their arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.

A new arms pact to follow the 1991 START treaty, which expires on December 5, is at the center of efforts by Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama to improve bilateral ties which sank to post-Cold War lows under the previous U.S. administration.

A successor treaty aimed at cutting long-range nuclear weapons amassed by the former superpower rivals during the Cold War arms race will be a major topic at talks between Medvedev and Obama in Moscow next month.

Negotiators from both sides are expected to start a new round of consultations on a new pact next week, Medvedev's spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told reporters.

START-1 stipulates that neither side can deploy more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and no more than 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles, which includes intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and bomber aircraft.

A Kremlin source said Medvedev's remarks amounted to instructions to Russian arms negotiators.

But the Kremlin chief again made clear that progress on START was linked to the future of the U.S. missile shield project.

Russia deplores U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile shield in Eastern Europe. It sees the move as a threat to Russia's national security and says it will not achieve its declared aim of averting a missile attack from Iran.

In a separate statement posted on the Kremlin web site and distributed by Kremlin officials to journalists, Medvedev said: "We cannot agree to the U.S. plans of a global Missile defense system."

"I would want to stress that cuts proposed by us are only possible if the United States lift Russia's concerns (about missile defense)," he added.

"In any case, the connection between offensive and defensive strategic weapons should be reflected in the new treaty," Medvedev's statement said.

Russian leaders see signs of the Obama administration taking a more cautious approach to the missile defense project and feel some kind of compromise can be worked out.

Earlier, Russia has proposed to the United States to work on a joint missile defense system and use its radars in southern regions, which can monitor the Indian Ocean zone.

Medvedev also said Russia was concerned about U.S. plans to deploy non-nuclear warheads on strategic missiles, which it says reduces the chances of solid verification of any future treaty and increases security threats.

The Russian president also reiterated Russia's insistence that deployment of strategic weapons in the outer space should be banned.

"We need a solid, verifiable document," Medvedev said.

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Obama-Backed Nuclear Fuel Bank Plan Stalls at IAEA
Sylvia Westall
(for personal use only)

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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U.S. Keeps Close Eye On North Korean Ship
Jay Solomon and Yochi J. Dreazen
Wall Street Journal
(for personal use only)

The Pentagon continues to trail a North Korean cargo ship believed headed toward Myanmar, in part because U.S. officials worry that Pyongyang plans to transfer major weapons systems and possibly nuclear technologies to the repressive Southeast Asian country, current and former U.S. officials said.

North Korea has used Myanmar ports and airstrips to transfer arms and contraband to third countries, including Iran, these officials said. Myanmar's military government also has purchased on the open market technologies that are potentially usable in a nuclear program, and North Korean arms companies involved in the nuclear trade have become active in Myanmar, said U.S., Asian and United Nations officials.

North Korean workers, meanwhile, have aided Myanmar's military junta in building underground tunnels near the new capital city of Naypyitaw that could have military applications, say U.S. officials.

U.S. and U.N. officials said there could be nonmilitary reasons to explain Myanmar's actions, and they acknowledge there is no "smoking gun" to back fears of nuclear proliferation inside the Southeast Asian country. But U.S. and Asian diplomats draw strong similarities between the military governments in Pyongyang and Naypyitaw and their efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction as deterrents against U.S. power.

"Given North Korea's nuclear trade to Syria, its attempts to sell Scuds to Myanmar, and its ongoing sales of conventional arms, there's reason to be worried about a WMD relationship," said Michael Green, who tracked Myanmar as a top adviser to former President George W. Bush. In 2004, Myanmar's military junta was in negotiations to buy Scud missile parts from Pyongyang, but the Bush administration convinced Myanmar to back off.

Pentagon officials said Monday that the U.S. Navy continues to track a North Korean cargo ship, in an operation that could serve as a test case for U.N. sanctions enacted last month to try to choke off Pyongyang's weapons trade.

The cargo ship Kang Nam left North Korea on Wednesday and has been trailed by the USS John S. McCain heading south toward the Myanmar coast, according to Pentagon officials. A second U.S. destroyer, the USS McCampbell, is set to pick up the trail with the aid of a P-3 reconnaissance plane.

Pentagon officials said the guided-missile destroyers haven't been given orders to intercept the Kang Nam and hadn't requested permission to do so. "Right now, we're just watching," a Pentagon official said.

North Korea analysts said the cat-and-mouse game highlights a potential weakness in last month's U.N. Security Council resolution concerning North Korea. The measure only allows U.N. member states to inspect vessels with the consent of the nation whose flag the ship is flying. Since North Korea is unlikely to give such permission, U.S. officials acknowledge that they are largely powerless to stop and search the Kang Nam. The resolution also calls for ships seeking port services from U.N. member countries to be refused, but that is unlikely to come up in this case.

U.S. and Asian diplomats have voiced alarm about the growing military and trade relationship between North Korea and Myanmar. The two countries severed diplomatic ties in the 1980s after North Korean agents assassinated South Korean ministers on a state visit. But Myanmar formally opened an embassy in Pyongyang last year.

In August 2008, Washington worked with the Indian government to deny flyover rights to a North Korean Air Koryo jet, which Washington believed was moving missile components to Iran from Myanmar. Officials from one of North Korea's principal arms companies, Nomchongang Trading Co., have also become active inside Myanmar in recent months, former U.S. officials said.

Officials at Myanmar's embassies in Bangkok and Washington, D.C., and at the Ministry of Information in Myanmar didn't respond to questions about the country's alleged nuclear ambitions. North Korea has denied selling nuclear equipment.

Earlier this month, an online magazine of Yale University's Center for the Study of Globalization published photos believed to show tunnels being built under Myanmar's new capital of Naypyitaw with the help of North Korean technicians, ostensibly for military purposes. The accuracy of the photos couldn't be verified.

Several Myanmar citizens, some of them expatriates, have claimed direct knowledge of a nuclear-weapons program, including a reactor under construction near Maymyo, according to Myanmar experts. But the remote area is off-limits to outsiders without government permission and the reports haven't been independently confirmed.

Residents in the area say foreign technicians, including from Russia, have visited the town recently. Russia has acknowledged an agreement with Myanmar to help build a nuclear reactor and do civilian nuclear research, but says no projects have materialized.

Myanmar is a party to the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that went into effect in 1970, and thus has committed not to develop nuclear weapons. It also has reached agreements with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency to verify that Myanmar isn't diverting nuclear research, material, or technology to make nuclear weapons. Still IAEA officials have privately voiced their concerns about Myanmar's recent purchases of dual-use technologies.

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US and China Set for Defence Talks on N.Korea
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US defence officials are set to hold talks in China in which they will seek Beijing's support for world pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

The US military delegation, led by Michele Flournoy, undersecretary for defence, was to meet with officials from the Chinese defence ministry as part of the two-day talks.

"North Korea will factor in very strongly," a Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters in Washington over the weekend.

Pyongyang's recent nuclear test and missile launches have raised "great concern" in China, he said.

"We would hope that China would use whatever influence they have with North Korea to convince them to change their behaviour," the official said.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on June 12 that includes financial sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang carried out its second nuclear test last month and several missile launches.

North Korea has reacted defiantly to the latest sanctions, vowing to build more nuclear bombs.

Flournoy will also seek to promote better US-China defense cooperation amid concerns in Washington over Beijing's expanding military and a series of stand-offs on the high seas.

Washington would like to see more high-level visits by Chinese defense officials to the United States "so we can understand their continuing buildup and make sure the conditions for stability and peace are maintained," the official said.

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Russia Backs Five-Nation Talks on North Korea
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Moscow supports the idea of five-party talks on North Korea's nuclear problem to determine further steps in dealing with the current crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"We highly regard cooperation between the 'seven' [Russia, the United States, France, Britain, China, Japan and South Korea] in the UN Security Council," the ministry said in a statement.

"We are in favor of conducting five-party talks [between countries involved in six-nation talks on North Korea] to discuss further actions," the statement said.

The concept of five-party talks, which would exclude North Korea, has been gaining popularity after a summit between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama last week.

The South Korean leader has suggested that a new framework of dialogue may be needed to draw the North back to the negotiations.

The six-nation talks involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Under deals reached in 2007, the North began disabling a nuclear reactor and other facilities at Yongbyon under international supervision, in exchange for economic aid and political incentives, which included the deliveries of fuel oil to Pyongyang.

However, in December last year, a round of six-nation talks ended in deadlock over a U.S. demand that nuclear inspectors be allowed to take samples from North Korean facilities out of the country for further analysis.

The UN has recently imposed new sanctions on North Korea that forbid the import and export of nuclear material, missiles and all other weapons, with the exception of small arms. It has authorized the world's navies to enforce the ban. The sanctions came in response to a North Korean nuclear test on May 25.

On June 13, the reclusive communist state released a statement threatening "resolute military action" if the United States and its allies tried to isolate it, vowing to "weaponize" plutonium, and warning it would consider attempts to blockade it an "act of war."

The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated on Monday that there was no alternative to a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but said Moscow viewed the latest threats from Pyongyang as an open challenge to the world community.

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C.  Pakistan

Qaeda Vows to Fire Pakistan Nukes at US
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A top al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan says his men 'will' use Pakistan's nuclear weapons against the US, should they be able to get their hands on any.

"God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans and the Mujahideen would take them and use them against the Americans," Mustafa Abu al-Yazid said in an interview with al-Jazeera television.

The interview comes after US and Indian officials raised concerns over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal amid growing insurgency across the country.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Fox News in late April said the US was worried about the "unthinkable" in Pakistan -- that the Taliban and al-Qaeda could topple the government, and get their hands on "the keys to nuclear arsenal."

Officials in Islamabad, meanwhile, have ruled out the possibility of the nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the militants.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari maintains that his country has a strong command-and-control system for its nuclear weapons.

However, al-Yazid believes that pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan are capable of overpowering the military in the northwestern parts of the country.

"We expect that the Pakistani army would be defeated (in Swat) ... and that would be its end everywhere, God willing," he said.

The military claims to have killed nearly 1,700 militants since it launched a crackdown in the Swat valley and its adjoining districts two months ago.

This is while South Waziristan, in the lawless border region with Afghanistan, has been hit by air raids and military shelling in recent days.

The US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has turned the restive tribal belt between the two neighbors into a scene of daily violence.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Medvedev Visits Namibia with Eye on Uranium
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Uranium deposits in Namibia's deserts, which could make the country a top producer of the nuclear fuel, are drawing growing foreign interest, seen in this week's visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The first-ever visit by a Kremlin chief on Wednesday and Thursday is expected to include a delegation of hundreds, with an emphasis on reviving cooperation in uranium mining and energy production.

"The whole energy issue will be discussed," Namibia's charge d'affaires in Moscow told AFP.

Russia has shown interest in Namibia since 2007. An exploration license was awarded to a joint venture led by Tekhsabexport, a Russian state firm that sells uranium. Moscow offered Namibia its controversial technology for floating nuclear plants.

"Nothing has happened" since then, said Robin Sherbourne, group economist for South Africa's Nedbank in Windhoek. "We'll see what happens this time."

Such projects are spreading across this southern African country, which aims to benefit from renewed global interest in nuclear power with its large uranium deposits, which are currently mined at only two locations.

The main mine, Rossing, runs five kilometres (three miles) long and 350 metres (1,100 feet) deep -- but was threatened with closure in 2003 when prices for uranium oxide plunged to nearly nothing as the global supply was inflated by enriched nuclear fuel from the former Soviet Union.

But fears of climate change have revived the search for carbon-neutral energy, sending uranium prices back up.

More than 40 reactors are being built in 11 countries, notably in Russia. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects that at least 70 nuclear power stations will be built around the world in the next 15 years, doubling the global supply of nuclear energy.

Rossing -- majority owned by Australian giant Rio with a 68.6 percent stake, but with a 15 percent stake held by Iran, 10 percent by South Africa, and three percent by Namibia -- announced a 112 million dollar expansion in 2006.

The same year, Australia's Paladin Energy re-opened the Langer Heinrich mine, also located near the Atlantic coast.

That has propelled Namibia to the top ranks of global producers, behind only Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia, with output 4,366 tonnes of uranium oxide -- representing 10 percent of the world's production.

And the industry's growth is just beginning. The government awarded three licenses last year, and the French group Areva in 2007 bought the Namibian firm holding exploration Trekkopje, where production is expected to begin by year end.

"Namibia could increase its production to 42 million pounds (a four-fold increase) within five years, which could make us Number 1," Sherbourne said.

To achieve that, Namibia first must tackle two major obstacles.

The desert has no water needed to control the dust and radiation from the mines. Areva has built a desalination plant on the Atlantic coast, which could eventually meet the growing needs.

The country also lacks enough energy. Namibia already imports half of its electricity from South Africa, which is suffering an energy crisis itself.

Windhoek is considering new coal or gas-fired plants, and has floated the idea of building a nuclear plant by 2018.

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A Balance of Nuclear Power for Germany
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

Germany's economy minister has said that nuclear power plants should operate for longer until favoured renewable technologies are ready to deliver.

Comments by Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg came during an interview with the daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung in which he was quizzed on possible coalitions for government. A federal election is set for Europe's most populous country on 27 September - and nuclear power is sure to be a campaign issue.

Guttenberg said that until the economics of alternative technologies improves, 'we need a limited extension' of Germany's 17 reactors, which provide 25% of power but are life-limited for political reasons only. Under current plans all would be shut down by 2022, meant to be replaced by wind and solar.

However, the phase-out should still go ahead even if delayed by a few years, Guttenberg said. He has nothing against the phase-out 'if economically viable alternatives establish themselves quickly enough.'

Guttenberg represents the Christian Social Union (CSU), currently sharing power with its sister party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) as well as the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Merkel herself has spoken out on the nuclear phase-out several times, describing it as 'absolutely wrong' but explaining that policy change is impossible under coalition arrangements with the SDP. The country's stance has left it isolated at the G8 meetings, where all other nations call for nuclear energy as an essential measure in the global push for low-carbon energy. Among the G20, only Germany and Australia oppose nuclear energy.

While there are hopes that an election campaign and new coalition could allow a freer energy policy, the SDP and the Greens - which polls predict to take about 25% and 13% of the vote each - remain firmly against any change to the phase-out. Indeed, it was the SPD under Gerhard Schroeder and the Greens that brought in the 'nuclear exit law' in 1998.

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E.  Iran

Son of Shah Says Protesters Defeat Could Lead to Nuclear War
(for personal use only)

The exiled son of the late shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, warned Monday of dire consequences for the volatile Middle East and the rest of the world if the popular uprising in Iran is crushed.

The defeat of the movement protesting the outcome of presidential elections 10 days ago would not only threaten global stability but could lead to nuclear war, Pahlavi told a news conference here.

"Their defeat will encourage extremism from the shores of the Levant to the energy jugular of the world," said Pahlavi, who left Iran a year before the ouster of his father, shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"At worst, fanatical tyrants who know that the future is against them may end their present course on their terms: a nuclear holocaust," Pahlavi told a room packed with reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.

Pahlavi urged Western media to continue to act as "the information artery connecting different parts of the freedom movement in Iran" by globally spreading the messages coming from the protesters inside the country.

The Iranian government has severely clamped down on foreign media coverage of the protests in Iran, which Pahlavi said were happening around the country and involve all walks of life from factory workers to academics.

Skirting the news blackout, Iranians have been sending messages and videos to news outlets or acquaintances outside the country using social networking sites, online video and photo outlets and micro-blogging source, Twitter.

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Netanyahu: Iran Cannot be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Weapons
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Israel and most of the world want regime change in Iran, but the main objective is to prevent the current Iranian leadership from developing a nuclear weapon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

Appearing on the NBC news show "Meet The Press," Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would destabilize the Middle East and threaten the entire world by triggering an arms race and supplying catastrophic weapons to terrorists.

"The goal is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said, adding that most governments in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere agreed. "We all don't want to see this regime acquiring nuclear weapons.… It's not merely an interest of Israel."

U.S. President Barack Obama is as committed as his predecessor to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power, Netanyahu said.

"It's my view that there's an American commitment to make sure that doesn't happen," he said.

Pressed on whether Israel would launch a unilateral attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, as it has in the past, Netanyahu said Israel "always reserves the right to defend itself."

"We are threatened as no other people are threatened," he said.

Netanyahu said Iran's violent crackdown Saturday on demonstrations in Tehran showed how the Iranian regime differed from true democracies. He noted that demonstrators were protesting outside his office as he spoke, and that unlike Iran, Israel was letting it happen rather than attacking its own people.

"Democracies do things differently," Netanyahu said.

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F.  Links of Interest

Global Reactor Capacities
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
(for personal use only)

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Testing Times for Nuclear Watchdog
Alan Fisher
Al Jazeera
(for personal use only)

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Non-Proliferation 'Going in Circles'
World Nuclear News
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