Visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said here on Wednesday that Israel will keep all options against Iran's any potential threats or attacks.
Speaking to reporters after talks with U.S. officials, Barak said: "I repeat what I have always said, we are not taking any options off the table."
Israel, which is believed to be the only Mideast country that has nuclear weapons, has repeatedly described Iran's uranium enrichment as a threat to its existence, and has vowed to take all possible measures to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is for civilian use only. However, after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran cut all relations with Israel and withdrew its recognition of the Jewish state.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/04/content_11483270.htm
2. Iran Nuclear Showdown at 'Decisive Point': Obama
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US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the nuclear showdown with Iran had reached a decisive point but that Tehran had the right to peaceful nuclear power if it abided by international treaties.
Obama, who broke with former US policy of isolating Tehran, said it would be hard to "overcome decades of mistrust" but he had made clear to Iran's leaders and people that the United States was prepared to move forward in relations with Iran.
"But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons we have reached a decisive point.
"This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path."
In an apparent reference to Israel, believed to be only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, Obama said he understood protests "that some countries have weapons that others do not."
He added that this was why he reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a nuclear-weapons-free world.
He said that "any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
Iran has resolutely maintained its right to a nuclear programme which it insists is purely for peaceful means.
This has put it on a collision course with Western powers who suspect it of seeking nuclear weapons.
Iran's arch-foe Israel has refused to rule out a military strike to ensure Tehran does not become a nuclear-armed nation.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ix2OIrSv5CzQopxX5e8dSb02LHtw
The US President yesterday told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad he had six months to drop the nuclear development programme. He warned the US would step up sanctions and use "tough, direct diplomacy" if Tehran did not co-operate.
Iran claims it is developing nuclear power to generate electricity. But the US and Britain fear it is close to producing atomic weapons. Mr Obama wants Tehran to come clean about its plans.
Speaking ahead his first visit to the Middle East this week, he warned: "It is in the world's interests for Iran to set aside ambitions for a nuclear weapon."
Mr Obama will use a speech in Egypt this week to try to rebuild relations between the West and the Muslim world - resentments that were inflamed by US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks by militant Islamists.
He talked about "misapprehension" on both sides and insisted: "What we want to do is open a dialogue."
He said he was optimistic about the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis, but warned there would be no quick results.
But al-Qaeda's second-incommand urged Egyptians not to be seduced by the "polished words" of the "criminal" US President.
In an audio recording posted on an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist website, Ayman al-Zawahri said: "Obama''s bloody messages... will not be concealed by public relations campaigns or theatrical visits or polished words."
Available at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2009/06/03/obama-demands-that-iran-axes-nukes-by-2010-115875-21410652/
4. Sarkozy tells Iran to Seize Nuclear Talks or Suffer
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French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned Iran on Wednesday it faced deeper international isolation if it did not agree soon to talks with the world's biggest powers on Tehran's nuclear program.
Sarkozy agreed to a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Wednesday at which French officials said Mottaki would deliver a message from the "highest Iranian authorities" on the highly disputed nuclear program.
But before Mottaki had left the building, Sarkozy's office issued a statement suggesting no breakthrough was made and urging Iran to seize the chance for talks with the powers -- France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China.
"He (Sarkozy) underlined the importance and seriousness of the initiative by the 'six'," the French statement said, urging Iran to accept talks offered by the powers.
"Failing that, Iran will expose itself to constantly growing international pressure on all levels," it added. The U.N. Security Council has passed several rounds of sanctions against Iran for failing to heed calls to suspend uranium enrichment.
The six powers have offered Iran a package of economic and other incentives in exchange for which they want Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for power plants or, potentially, a nuclear weapon.
They have invited Iran to talks and asked that it suspend its uranium enrichment work while initial negotiations take place, but Iran has so far rejected the advances.
The powers suspect Iran is secretly developing the ability to produce a nuclear weapon, but Iran says it only wants to master atomic technology to generate electricity.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is prepared to hold talks with Iran to resolve the dispute, but Washington has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails.
"There is almost a last chance to negotiate and it must be seized," a senior official in Sarkozy's office told reporters.
The senior French official said the message Mottaki brought from Tehran was that the Iranians were putting the finishing touches to a counter-proposal to the package of incentives.
"The president (Sarkozy) told them 'hurry up because time is running out'. He said they have to be real, positive counter-proposals," the official said.
The rare encounter between a senior Iranian politician and the leader of a major power took place nine days before Iran's presidential election, in which incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces a challenge from moderates seeking a thaw with the West.
Sarkozy is due to meet Obama on Saturday in France and Iran is certain to be high on the agenda.
"The window of opportunity (for Iran) opens on the morning of June 13 and ends in the autumn. Obama said by the end of the year but it will no doubt be well before the end of the year," the official said.
Sarkozy also denounced comments by Ahmadinejad on Wednesday in which he called the Holocaust a "great deception."
"The president (Sarkozy) condemned the remarks made on this day by the Iranian president calling into question the reality of the Holocaust," the statement said, adding that the comments were "unacceptable and deeply shocking."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE55261R20090603?sp=true
1. No Radioactive Materials Found Since Nuclear Test
The Korea Times
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South Korean authorities have failed to confirm the authenticity of North Korea's May 25 nuclear test as no radioactive material has been found over the East Sea, officials said Thursday.
Normally, radioactive materials such as krypton-85 and xenon-135 are released after a nuclear test ― krypton-85 remains in the air for several decades as clear evidence of a test.
In October 2006, a U.S. WC-135 reconnaissance plane detected radioactive materials over the East Sea a couple of days after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test.
In that context, some experts question if the North really did conduct a test.
Other military officials and experts say radioactive materials may have spread rapidly and been dispersed after the test due to strong winds.
There is also the hypothesis that North Korea might have revamped its underground test facility to prevent radioactive leaks.
``It is expected to take more time to confirm the nuclear test,'' a military source said, asking not to be named. ``But unless krypton-85 is detected, it will be difficult for the international community to confirm the alleged test.''
South Korea has been checking air samples for radioactive material at a military facility in Dongducheon, north of Seoul.
The latest nuclear test by the North, the second of its kind in two-and-a-half years, has sparked debate on the Stalinist state's nuclear capability. Estimates of the size of the explosion vary from 1 to 2 kilotons, to as high as 10 to 20 kilotons.
The higher estimate would match the power of the bombs America dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945 to end World War II.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/06/116_46271.html
The United Arab Emirates has released their short list of candidates to build the country’s first nuclear power plant. The teams include companies from the United States, France, Japan - and Korea.
Three consortiums made it to the final decision-making stage, including a French team led by Areva, a Japan-U.S. team led by Hitachi and GE, and a Korean team led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation.
The UAE plans to build 12 to 16 nuclear power reactors worth between $40 billion and $60 billion in total over the course of 20 years.
According to AFP, French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the UAE on May 25 to 26, accompanied by executives from Areva, a leading nuclear reactor producer in France, in what reportedly was an attempt to help the company win the bid. U.S. President Barack Obama approved a U.S.-UAE nuclear cooperation deal on May 20, a move also interpreted as meant to help American companies make inroads into the nuclear power market in the UAE.
Korean government officials led by Prime Minister Han Seung-soo are also putting their heads together to work out ways to help the Korean team win what would be this country’s first nuclear reactor export deal.
Many energy experts say a nuclear renaissance is coming. In past decades, nuclear power was shunned due to potential disasters and environmental impact. But as technology develops further and oil costs remain high, countries are scrambling to go nuclear. Rising awareness about global warming has also played a part, as modern nuclear reactors emit relatively little carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Even Italy and Sweden, which once banned nuclear reactor development, now say they will build more.
The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates around 300 new nuclear reactors worth around $560 billion will be built by 2030. And the Korean government says that if Korea wins just 10 percent of the bids for those 300 reactors, it could become a major export industry like semiconductors, shipbuilding and automobiles, already big business here.
And the government is confident Korea can compete when it comes to nuclear technology.
“Technologically, Korea is ready to export nuclear power plants,” said Jang Mun-hee, senior researcher at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. “But the size of each project is so huge that winning a bid should be backed by the government, politically and diplomatically.”
Available at: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2905740
China's nuclear power generation is estimated to reach around 5% of the country's total power output by 2020, according to National Energy Administration (NEA). The target is superior to the original one set in 2007, which targeted for a nuclear power capacity of 40 million kilowatt (kW) by 2020, taking up 4% of the total power capacity, as reported by Xinhua news agency.
Sun Qin, NEA deputy head, said that with a power capacity of 800 million kW at present and an estimated 1.4 billion kW to 1.5 billion kW by 2020, this is the time to adjust the goal to match China's fast energy development.
According to Sun, no final plan has been created yet to meet the goal as it needs additional work before it is reported to the State Council.
According to NEA, China would increase not only the quantity but also the quality of its nuclear power generation in revised mid-and-long term plan on nuclear power development.
"We expected to realize self-design, self-construction and self-management of our nuclear power facilities by 2020," Sun said.
Currently, China's nuclear power takes up 2% of the total power generation, while coal-fired power covers more than 80% of the total. Around 15% of the world's power generation comes from nuclear energy.
Available at: http://www.energy-business-review.com/news/china_to_accelerate_nuclear_power_development_090601
1. No Country Can Choose Who Can Hold Nuke Weapons: Obama
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President Barack Obama today said no single nation should "pick up and choose" which countries can have nuclear weapons and reaffirmed US' commitment to seek a world free from atomic arsenal.
In the backdrop of Iran's suspected efforts to build an atomic bomb , Obama also said the nuclear showdown with that country had reached a "decisive point" but that Teheran had the right to peaceful nuclear power if it abided by international treaties like the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT).
Obama's remarks came at a high-stakes speech at the Cairo University in which he tried to reach out to Muslims across the world.
In an apparent reference to Israel, believed to be only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, Obama said he understood protests "that some countries have weapons that others do not." He added that this was why he reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no country has nuclear weapons.
"No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons," he said.
He said that "any nation -- including Iran -- should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." Iran has stadfastly maintained its right to a nuclear programme which it insists is purely for peaceful means.
Available at: http://www.ptinews.com/pti/ptisite.nsf/0/283854164871C198652575CB00455DCA?OpenDocument
2. U.S. Sees Further Progress with Russia on START
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The United States expects to make further progress with Russia in talks aimed at cutting nuclear weapons stockpiles before a July summit between their two presidents, a top U.S. arms control official said on Thursday.
"We had very productive talks and we expect that productive trajectory to continue," Rose Gottemoeller, who led the U.S. delegation in the three-day Geneva round, told Reuters after addressing the United Nations-backed Conference on Disarmament.
Moscow and Washington are negotiating an accord to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) which expires on December 5.
The two sides are seeking to narrow differences before U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meet in Moscow on July 6-8.
"Our Presidents have directed that we report by July on our progress in working out a new agreement," Gottemoeller, who is acting U.S. under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, said in a speech to the Geneva forum.
Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told reporters in Moscow this week that it was not excluded that at least an outline deal could be wrapped up in time for the summit.
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 has said it 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.
The round ended on Wednesday without either side commenting.
TIME RIPE FOR FISSILE PACT
Gottemoeller also said that time was ripe for negotiations on a treaty banning production of atomic bomb-making fissile material (plutonium and highly enriched uranium), widely seen as the next step in multilateral nuclear disarmament.
The 65-member forum, breaking a deadlock of more than a decade, last week agreed on a work plan that would include negotiations on a so-called fissile cut-off treaty (FMCT).
"There should be no misapprehensions or illusions on the difficulty of our task," Gottemoeller warned the conference.
"This treaty has been on the international agenda for most of the nuclear age. It is time that we stopped talking about having an FMCT and got to work to complete it," she added.
Clinching a fissile pact would be a step toward nuclear disarmament, but the "finish line" is a vision conveyed by Obama -- a world free of nuclear weapons, Gottemoeller said.
Without naming names, she called for deeper respect for international rules aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons as well as "consequences for those who violate them."
The forum's members include the five official nuclear powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- India and Pakistan, both nuclear-capable, Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arms, and North Korea.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE55324A20090604?sp=true
Imagine a "dirty bomb" exploding in downtown Albany.
Now envision two bombs going off only blocks apart.
That very possibility was simulated Tuesday as hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement officials staffed would-be command posts on Albany Shaker Road to prepare for the potentially catastrophic event.
The reaction to the exercise, part of a three-day effort called "Empire 09," was staged around the county hockey facility near Albany International Airport. It featured radiation screenings, officials in white "space suit"-type outfits and aircraft to watch contaminated areas from the sky.
The exercise, hosted by the New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission, was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. It comes only weeks after the FBI arrested four alleged conspirators in a plot to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh.
"Our enemies are patient and they are ruthless," said Mary Kavaney, assistant secretary for public safety for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. "We can't let our guard down and this exercise shows we will not let our guard down."
The drill showed the aftermath of the "attack" -- two radioactive dirty bombs going off during the workday, one at Eagle and State streets, the other at Eagle Street and Madison Avenue.
Projected maps show evacuations, from mandatory to voluntary, would stretch from a wide swath of downtown Albany across the Hudson River to the city of Rensselaer.
Dirty bombs, which combine radioactive materials with conventional explosives, should not be confused with the nuclear weapons, said Dennis Michalski, spokesman for the state Emergency Management Office.
The two blasts in Albany would be expected to kill an estimated six people at the least, but also wreak untold havoc to the surrounding environment, officials said.
Among other drills, workers using laptop computers filled the inside of the county's hockey arena. Officials also allowed the media to not only inspect the various command posts, but wear necessary protective clothing.
Joseph Krol, associate administrator for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, said such drills are valuable, in part, to see what mistakes are made "so when the real thing happens, we will really be prepared."
The drill will continue through Thursday. Officials said residents may see a helicopter fly over or workers collecting would-be "samples" from downtown Albany and along the Hudson River and the Crossings park in Colonie.
"Part of what we have to do, whether it's an exercise or the real thing, we have to determine the boundaries," Darwin Morgan, a spokesman for the Department of Energy said. "It should be pretty transparent to the normal person seeing anything."
Available at: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=806113
Following revelations yesterday that the U.S. government accidentally published online a confidential report containing detailed information about the country's civilian nuclear sites and programs, Energy Secretary Steven Chu this morning said the Department of Energy is making extra efforts to ensure the security of the nation's nuclear sites.
Appearing before a House subcommittee, where he was testifying about budget issues, Chu said his understanding of the incident "is that someone made a mistake, probably at the government printing office, and released sensitive information."
The report, Chu noted, included a list with locations for spent nuclear fuel storage and "information on where some high-level uranium...is in our sites," such as within tunnels at certain federal government laboratories, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
"That is of great concern," Chu said. "We will be looking hard and making sure the physical security of those lab sites is sufficient to prevent people, terrorists, others from getting hold of that material."
Chu added: "That's all I can say at the moment."
According to reports, the 266-page government document, which was being prepared by the United States for the International Atomic Energy Agency, offers a detailed accounting of the country's civilian nuclear reactors and waste storage facilities.
Experts say much of this information, though sensitive, was already publicly available, and administration officials say its release did not compromise national security. It was posted on the Government Printing Office website but has since been removed.
Available at: http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/energy/2009/06/03/chu-we-will-look-into-nuclear-site-security.html
John McCain and Barack Obama -- presidential rivals last year -- agreed today on the need for progress to a world free of nuclear weapons.
McCain, the veteran Republican senator from Arizona, spoke on the Senate floor to mark the unveiling of a statue in the Capitol Rotunda of the late President Ronald Reagan, who also dreamed of a nuke-free world.
"This is a distant and difficult goal," McCain said. "And we must proceed toward it prudently and pragmatically, and with a focused concern for our security and the security of allies who depend on us. But the Cold War ended almost twenty years ago, and the time has come to take further measures to reduce dramatically the number of nuclear weapons in the world's arsenals. In so doing, the United States can – and indeed, must – show the kind of leadership the world expects from us, in the tradition of American presidents who worked to reduce the nuclear threat to mankind."
McCain called for a reduction in the US nuclear arsenal, while continuing "to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses, and superior conventional forces capable of defending the United States and our allies."
He also called for a more robust stance against Iran and North Korea, saying "the US must lead the world not only in reducing the size of existing nuclear arsenals, but also in reversing the course of nuclear proliferation. This requires a tough, and tough-minded, approach to both Iran and North Korea, both of whom have gotten away with too much for far too long."
Obama, who called for eventually ridding the world of nuclear weapons in a major speech in Prague in April, issued a statement welcoming McCain's speech.
"In my speech in Prague, I outlined my agenda for keeping the American people safe from the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, and I am grateful to John McCain for his leadership on these critical issues," he said in a statement. "I have outlined an ambitious strategy for promoting arms control and preventing nuclear terrorism and proliferation, which is already bearing fruit. I look forward to working with Senator McCain and the entire Congress to ensure that we accomplish these goals together for the American people and the security of the entire planet."
Available at: http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2009/06/obama_mccain_ca.html
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