1. 'Clinton Warns North Korean Leader of Further Isolation'
The Korea Times
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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that his nuclear program will lead to further isolation, a report said Thursday.
Clinton made the remarks during his talks with Kim in Pyongyang, Tuesday, American television network ABC reported.
The former president, meanwhile, briefed top security officials at the White House on his North Korea trip which brought two detained journalists home, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Gibbs, however, did not elaborate on the briefing, saying a more formal and in-depth debriefing will be conducted soon.
``We are going to get a fuller briefing,'' the spokesman said. ``We are trying to coordinate schedules.''
Instead, he noted that Pyongyang must show a different attitude to ease tensions that have mounted due to its recent nuclear test and missile launches.
``If they would like to see a greater international breakthrough, then they just have to come back to live up to the responsibilities that they entered into,'' he said.
He continued, ``We are going to continue to ensure that we take actions to enforce recently passed Security Council resolutions to ensure there is not the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.''
ABC said a source who attended the White House briefing said that Clinton had conveyed to Kim the same message he tried to express through the 1990s.
The message was that ``North Korea's nuclear program will not make that country safer and more secure, but rather will continue to lead to further international isolation,'' the report said.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that the former president discussed a range of issues in the three-hour talks with Kim and told him that North Korea could gain benefits if it released detained South Korean and Japanese abductees.
Robert Wood, deputy spokesman of the U.S. Department of State, did not confirm the report, stressing Clinton was there on a ``private humanitarian mission.''
``He may have had some discussions about various issues with the North Koreans,'' he said. ``I don't have any details on any of those conversations.''
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/08/113_49770.html
2. Obama Tells NK `No Nuke Dismantlement, No Dialogue`
The Dong-a Ilbo
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U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday ruled out talks with North Korea if Pyongyang does not give up its nuclear program despite North Korea’s release of two American journalists.
“We were very clear that this was a humanitarian mission,” he told NBC in an interview. “We have said to the North Koreans there is a path for improved relations, and it involves them no longer developing nuclear weapons and not engaging in the provocative behavior that they’ve been engaging in.”
The Obama administration has apparently put particular emphasis on this principle to prevent sending the wrong message to North Korea or disrupting international efforts for sanctions against the communist country.
On if former President Bill Clinton’s visit to North Korea might lead to a breakthrough in engagement with North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also told NBC, “It’s not something we’re counting on.”
She said she hopes Pyongyang will “make the right choice.”
The White House and the State Department also gave news briefings in the same tone, saying there is no change in the dire situation.
One informed source said, “Sending a special envoy for the journalists’ release had been discussed since before the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum in mid-July. The Obama administration’s position has been consistent since that time.”
Experts, however, say strained Pyongyang-Washington relations could soon see a thaw. Signs have appeared that the North Korean leadership has sought bilateral dialogue for several weeks. Washington also believes that Pyongyang’s typical cycle is to commit provocation after provocation, followed by dialogue and then by further provocations.
What Bill Clinton will bring to Obama is fueling speculation. Administration officials told the Wall Street Journal that Bill Clinton and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il discussed many issues, including incentives to get Pyongyang to resolve the fates of South Koreans and Japanese being held in North Korea.
The possibility that Kim suggested a summit with Obama also cannot be ruled out.
Obama also told a news conference that Bill Clinton would have made interesting observations while in Pyongyang.
Administration sources told the Wall Street Journal that while Obama will reject giving compensation to North Korea for belatedly keeping its promises, he can allow high-level direct contact to deal with the nuclear issue.
Available at: http://english.donga.com/srv/service.php3?bicode=060000&biid=2009080785798
1. Japan Opposition Backs Obama's Nuclear-Free Plan
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Japan's main opposition Democratic Party, which has a good shot at winning power in a general election this month, said on Thursday it backed U.S. President Barack Obama's call to rid the world of nuclear arms.
In the western city of Hiroshima to remember the victims of the world's first atomic attack in 1945, party leader Yukio Hatoyama also said Japan should appeal to world leaders to eschew nuclear arms.
Prime Minister Taro Aso, his Liberal Democratic Party's poll ratings sagging ahead of the August 30 poll, reaffirmed Tokyo's self-imposed ban on nuclear weapons.
Tensions in the region were heightened in May when neighboring North Korea conducted a nuclear test.
"Realizing a nuclear-free world as called for by U.S. President Obama is exactly the moral mission of our country as the only atomic-bombed state," Hatoyama, quoted by Kyodo news agency, told a ceremony marking the 1945 attack.
He was backed by the mayor of Hiroshima, where more than 260,000 people died from the bomb, either from the blast or later from the effects of the nuclear explosion.
Japan often refers to its position as the only country to suffer nuclear attacks when calling for the abolition of atomic weapons. The United States dropped a second atomic bomb on the southern city of Nagasaki days after the attack on Hiroshima.
While many in Japan oppose nuclear arms, Tokyo benefits from the shelter of a "nuclear umbrella" extended by its biggest ally, Washington.
Aso said Japan stood by its fundamental non-nuclear principles "and take the lead within the international community to abolish nuclear weapons and bring about lasting peace."
But, speaking to reporters after attending the main commemorations, he said the nuclear umbrella was vital as it was unlikely all nuclear powers would give up nuclear arms at once.
"It's hard to say that a country will abandon (nuclear weapons) right away when another does," he said.
A former government official said in recent interviews that Tokyo had secretly agreed with Washington in 1960 that Japan would allow stopovers by U.S. military aircraft or vessels carrying nuclear weapons. Japan denies having made such a deal.
More than 1,000 people gathered for a protest in central Hiroshima against the use of nuclear weapons. Many had come to protest against an anticipated speech by a former air force official who has called for Japan to be a nuclear power.
Toshio Tamogami was fired as air force chief of staff last year after he wrote an essay arguing Japan had not been an aggressor in World War Two. He was set to appear at an event hosted by a lobby group that backs traditional values.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090806/ts_nm/us_japan_nuclear
2. UN Special Non-Proliferation Meeting Leaves out Countries of "Concern"
Xinhua News Agency
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The special meeting of the UN Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament to be chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama next month will focus on a range of issues without dealing with specific countries, said the United States top envoy to the UN here on Wednesday.
"There are many, many issues out there that are important and relevant that go beyond individual countries," Susan Rice told reporters. "We want to secure loose nuclear material within four years. We want to start a follow-on agreement. We want to ratify CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). We want to have a fissile material cut-off."
The special session, to take place on Sept. 24 during the annual general debate of the UN General Assembly, will host the heads of state of the other 14 Security Council members, according to a statement made by Rice on Tuesday.
Rice said it was too early to say who would come but she added that the UN session will be "one of the rare occasions in which the Security Council has met at the heads of state level."
"It is a topic this council has been focused on and seized with and which I think all of our colleagues agree merits the highest level attention," said Rice, who made the comments after addressing the Security Council on peacekeeping operations.
In Prague in April, Obama pledged his commitment to working towards a world free of nuclear weapons and voiced his support for the CTBT, which bans all nuclear explosions for military or civilian purposes and which the U.S. has yet to ratify.
Meanwhile, members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- reaffirmed their support in May for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a convention to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, and urged all NPT signatories to ensure "a successful and balanced review" at the conference in 2010.
"The NPT review conference is an important milestone and we are very much committed to working to making it a success," said Rice. "And to the extent that this session in the Security Council can lend a positive impetus to that, we would find that very valuable."
Only four recognized sovereign states are not parties to the treaty: India, Israel, Pakistan, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The DPRK acceded to the treaty and withdrew it in 2003.
Even though Iran has signed the NPT, the United States has vowed to curb Tehran's nuclear program over fears that it could be months away from enriching enough uranium for a warhead. Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program is for legitimate energy needs.
"We are dealing with the individual countries every day in the Security Council, as we just have, I think quite effectively, with North Korea and as we continue to review and to deal with the situation of Iran," Rice said.
The special session, on the other hand, is an opportunity for the council "to continue its thinking and to concert its action" in nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, she said.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-08/06/content_11832512.htm
Israeli President Shimon Peres warned visiting U.S. Republican congressmen the Middle East will turn into a nuclear zone if a chance for peace is missed.
"If Israel misses the chance for peace, the Middle East will become an uncontrollable nuclear zone and there will be no turning back," a statement released by Peres's office quoted him saying.
Peres met the U.S. delegation led by Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the House Republican whip, in Jerusalem Tuesday and discussed the peace process, the Iranian nuclear threat, and Israel-U.S. relations, Israeli media reports said.
Peres told the congressmen Iran and others in the region must be prevented from pursuing nuclear weapons, The Jerusalem Post said.
Israel should ask itself two questions, Peres said, what kind of peace can it obtain and what will happen if peace is not achieved, a statement released by his office said.
Cantor told Peres the group's visit is to "reconfirm the message that the U.S. Congress stands staunchly behind Israel in its struggle and we are here to strengthen the U.S. Israel relationship," the statement said.
Peres noted Israel is making enormous efforts to improve the quality of life for West Bank Palestinians and has removed military checkpoints and eased restrictions, allowing the Palestinians to enjoy greater freedom, the statement quoted him saying.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/08/05/Peres-warns-of-a-nuclear-Middle-East/UPI-63251249492436/
4. Thailand Investigating Suspected North Korea-Myanmar Nuclear Link
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The Thai government is investigating suspected nuclear collaboration between Myanmar's military regime and North Korea following media reports here that Myanmar is building a secret nuclear reactor with Pyongyang's help.
However, Thai National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri said a probe by national intelligence agencies has not yet found any indication that the reports were true.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vimon Kidchob said the Thai embassy in Myanmar had not found any evidence of nuclear collaboration between North Korea and Myanmar.
Ms Vimon said Bangkok believed that Myanmar would adhere to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ) agreement which came into force in 1997 after being signed by all members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
''I am confident that all members of the SEANWFZ are adhering to this principle,'' she said.
The United States has voiced concern over alleged clandestine military collaboration between Myanmar and North Korea in international media reports.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conveyed Washington’s views on reported Myanmar-North Korea military cooperation to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Phuket last month.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley told newspersons in Washington early today that the US was trying to find out the nature of the military cooperation between Myanmar and North Korea.
''We do have concerns about the nature of cooperation between both Burma North Korea, and any other country. I think, over time, we would like to clarify with Burma more precisely the nature of its military cooperation,'' Mr Crowley was quoted as saying.
However, Washington has been encouraged by Myanmar’s apparent collaboration with international efforts to penalise Pyongyang following North Korea's second nuclear test earlier this year.
The US official referred to the recent turning back of a North Korean ship that was reported headed towards Myanmar.
''There was this North Korean ship. There were reports that it was headed to Burma. But eventually the ship turned around, and we noted that the Burmese at the time had pledged that they would fully implement the UN sanctions,'' the US official said.
''It's hard to say whether that Burmese decision had something to do with the ship turning around, but it turned around,'' Mr Crowley told reporters.
Available at: http://www.newkerala.com/nkfullnews-1-85669.html
A group of 20 people infiltrated the site set aside for Egypt's first nuclear power plant with a video camera, a leading Cairo daily reported Friday.
Employees discovered the group Egyptians and foreigners on the land reserved for the Ministry of Electricity's Dabaa nuclear power plant project on Egypt's north coast on Wednesday evening, al-Masry al-Youm reported, citing an anonymous source in Egypt's nuclear agency.
The group said they were filming the land for sales materials to use in marketing it to foreign investors in tourism, according to the newspaper's source, who claimed they were involved in 'a secret scheme' to 'steal the only land suitable for Egypt's nuclear dream.'
Al-Masry al-Youm said the group had infiltrated the site from the east with the aid of a security guard.
The planned nuclear power plant is slated to be built on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, prime real estate for summer resorts.
Gamal Mubarak, the president's son and the second-highest-ranking member of the ruling National Democratic Party, in 2006 announced the country's intention to develop a peaceful nuclear power programme, subject to international safeguards.
The Australian power company WorleyParsons in June signed a 900-million-dollar consultancy agreement to help the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority build the country's first nuclear power plant.
That agreement came weeks after talks with the US firm Bechtel, which had originally won the contract, stalled in May.
Available at: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1494140.php/Report-Egyptian-nuclear-reactor-site-infiltrated
2. NRC Considering Stronger Oversight Of Radioactive Materials
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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing to strengthen oversight of radioactive materials by limiting the amount of radioactive material allowed in generally licensed devices.
“I believe this proposed rule is a positive step forward in increasing the accountability of these materials,” NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko said. “I look forward to receiving input from the public on the agency’s proposal.”
The proposed rule would require owners of approximately 1,800 devices, an estimated 1,400 general licensees nationwide, to apply for specific licenses for the devices. This change applies primarily to fixed industrial gauges.
Requiring specific licenses for such devices would improve the safety, security and control over the gauges by bringing them under increased regulation, making it harder to accumulate a risk-significant amount of radioactive material or to procure a device through subterfuge.
The proposed rule was published Aug. 3 in the Federal Register for public comment, and is available online here: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-18438.pdf.
Generally licensed devices typically contain radioactive material in a shielded, sealed housing. Their design includes inherent radiation safety features so the device may be safely used by someone with no radiation training or experience. Examples include gas chromatographs used in chemical analysis, static eliminators, ice detection devices and certain in vitro kits used in clinical or laboratory testing. Owners of such devices must fulfill certain recordkeeping requirements, but because of the built-in safety features, they do not have to apply to the NRC or a state regulatory agency for a specific license to possess or use the radioactive material.
The devices that would be affected by the proposed rule fall into Category 3 or the upper limits of Category 4 of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) categorization of radioactive sources. The U.S. government considers Category 1 and Category 2 sources to be the most sensitive from a security standpoint. While sources in lower categories are considered less sensitive, the NRC is concerned that a small number of Category 3 or certain Category 4 sources together could be equivalent to a Category 2 amount of radioactive material.
The proposed rule would require specific licenses for devices containing radioactive material equal to or greater than 1/10th of the IAEA’s Category 3 level. This requirement would improve NRC monitoring of the location and use of radioactive materials of higher activity and enhance the accountability and control of such devices. The more stringent requirements of the specific licensing process would minimize the potential for aggregation of radioactive materials to quantities of concern, thereby enhancing the NRC’s ability to protect public health and safety. The proposed rule would also clarify the applicable requirements when a device authorized under a general license is instead held under a specific license.
Available at: http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2009/08/06/nrc-consideringonger-oversight-of-radioactive-materials-1828.aspx
Prime Minister Taro Aso stressed on Thursday the need for Japan to stay under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, while opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama supported President Barack Obama in seeking a nuclear-free world.
"Located next to a country possessing nuclear arms and thinking of making an attack by using them, Japan is in alliance with the United States, which tries to use its nuclear arsenal as a deterrence," Aso told reporters, referring to North Korea, after attending Hiroshima's annual ceremony marking the atomic bombing.
"It is not true to say if someone unilaterally abandons them, everyone else will follow," Aso said. "It is unimaginable that nuclear weapons will be altogether abolished around the world."
Aso made the comments while reiterating that Japan seeks a nuclear-free world.
"Realizing a nuclear-free world as called for by U.S. President Obama is exactly the moral mission of our country as the only state to have been hit with atomic bombs," said Hatoyama, president of the Democratic Party of Japan.
At a ceremony in Hiroshima organized by the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, Hatoyama said Japan should lead the world in efforts to abolish nuclear arms, particularly at the coming U.N. review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty next May.
He said to attain that goal, it is important to appeal directly to leaders of other countries, and he is willing to work for an early realization of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.
Available at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090807a3.html
4. US Air Force Sets Up New Command for Nuclear Forces
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The US Air Force on Friday launches a new Global Strike Command responsible for nuclear forces after two major mishaps raised doubts about the supervision of the country's atomic weapons.
The opening of the command marks a shake-up that followed the botched handling of nuclear weapons and the subsequent sacking of the air force's top civilian and military leaders last year.
The command, located at Barksdale Air Force base in the southern state of Louisiana, will combine nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 bombers as well as the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force -- which had previously been under the Air Force Space Command in Colorado.
"We needed to refocus on the nuclear mission and not lose sight of that," Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley told reporters ahead of Friday's ceremony.
He said there had been some "painful lessons" but the new command would "reinvigorate our nuclear enterprise."
An outside panel headed by former defense secretary James Schlesinger concluded that the US Air Force had for years given the nuclear forces a lower priority and failed to manage the mission with rigor.
The panel found "an unambiguous, dramatic and unacceptable decline in the air force's commitment to perform the nuclear mission and, until very recently, little has been done to reverse it."
Two widely-publicized incidents raised questions over the air force's handling of its nuclear mission.
First came the inadvertent transfer from one US base to another of nuclear-armed cruise missiles under the wing of a B-52 bomber in September 2007.
Then the Pentagon discovered that nuclear weapons components had been inadvertently shipped to Taiwan in 2006.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates soon fired the air force's top civilian and military leaders in June 2008.
The ICBMs in the 20th Air Force, part of Air Force Space Command, are due to shift to the new command in early December and bombers from the 8th Air Force are scheduled to move to the command in February, officials said.
Three-star General Frank Klotz will lead the new command, which comprises 23,000 airmen.
While the nuclear role would take the top priority, the command would also be ready to employ conventional weapons, including a giant "bunker buster" bomb due to be ready next year, said air force chief of staff, General Norton Schwartz.
The general said the new command included an elaborate inspections regime with regular outside oversight.
"We have made a special effort to make the inspections more demanding, more invasive, more challenging," Schwartz told reporters.
"My judgment was that perhaps the inspections had not been as rigorous as we needed in the past. So we adjusted that," the general said.
He also said setting up a command would ensure the nuclear forces received equal status with other missions in the air force and would help develop a cadre of airmen with relevant skills.
The nuclear forces previously were perceived as a secondary mission, especially after the end of the Cold War.
"The key thing here is we ended up focusing on other things and understandably perhaps, but we are now wiser," Schwartz said.
Arms control talks with Russia and a major nuclear strategy review underway at the Pentagon had highlighted the importance of the nuclear forces, Donley said.
Donley and Schwartz discussed the command at a briefing Wednesday at the Pentagon. But the air force barred the release of their remarks until Friday as officers wanted to avoid the announcement coinciding with Thursday's anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.
The attack killed some 140,000 people, either instantly or in the days and weeks that followed.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hcJrEkpPFI7S6O7brJyd-AQ4FnQg
A nuclear cooperation deal has been signed by Russia and Turkey, while finance for Turkey's build project is revised in progress towards nuclear power's introduction.
Sergei Kiriyenko signed off the accord, which is a prerequisite to any commercial contract for nuclear development, yesterday during prime minister Vladimir Putin's visit to the Turkish capital Ankara. The head of the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency, Zafer Alper, signed for Turkey.
The country has been aiming to begin using nuclear power for decades. Its latest request for tenders stated that contracts for new reactors would be placed on a build-own-operate basis, where the vendor would manage the plant and finance the construction. For its part, Turkey would guarantee to buy certain volumes of power at an agreed price up to the end of 2030 and at the market price thereafter.
Unfortunately the details of the terms proved unsatisfactory for most and in the end only a Russian-led consortium actually submitted a bid. This disapointment for Turkish planners was doubled when the cost of the Russian bid worked out far above the current market price for power.
Progress since then has been slow, but both sides have engaged in finding a way to make the project feasbile and the cooperation agreement could be taken as a sign of their seriousness. The Russian group has revised its bid, but it remains relatively high in the opinion of the Turkish government. The latest moves include an offer from Turkey to take a 25% stake in the project in exchange for a further reduction in price. Energy minister Taner Yildiz explained this option last week in an interview with CNN Turk.
The Russian offer is to construct four VVER pressurized water reactors with 1200 MWe capacity each. AtomStroyExport would lead construction along with Park Teknik of the Turkish conglomerate the Ciner Group, while Russia's Inter RAO UES would operate the reactors.
As well as the cooperation deal, Turkey and Russia also signed a standard agreement on notification of radioalogical incidents.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP_Negotiations_near_an_end_for_Turkey_0708091.html
2. Turkey Could Take up to 25 pct Share in Nuclear Project
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The Turkish state could take a share of up to 25 percent in a planned nuclear power plant project if a price offer from a Russian-led consortium is cut, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Friday.
The tender to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant was held last year, and a consortium of Russia's Inter RAO (IRAO.MM: Quote, Profile, Research), Atomstroiexport and Turkey's Park Teknik submitted the sole bid.
Final approval of the bid has been delayed pending review of the price the consortium wants to charge for electricity from the planned power station.
"If the price from the nuclear power plant is lowered it is possible for the state to take a stake in the project," Taner Yildiz told broadcaster CNN Turk in an interview on Friday, the day after Turkey signed a raft of energy deals with Russia during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
"The stake the state could take may be 25 percent," he said.
The consortium has already lowered the planned price of electricity from the nuclear station by 27 percent after a slump in demand due to the economic downturn. The revised price of $0.1535 per kilowatt hour is still about double current rates.
Yildiz said before Putin's arrival that he expected the Russian consortium to lower its price offer.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idINL74858620090807
3. Russia Signs Deal to Build Turkey's First Nuclear Power Plant
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The prime ministers of Russia and Turkey signed an agreement Thursday on the two countries' nuclear cooperation and Russian firms' participation in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia would soon coordinate construction details with the Turkish authorities and start implementing the project.
"We intend to coordinate the details shortly and start the construction," he said after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan.
"The victory of a Russian-Turkish consortium in the tender to build Turkey's first NPP opens wide opportunities for our countries. Both sides are evidently interested in the project," Putin said.
He added that the Russian price to build the Turkish nuclear plant was 50% lower than the U.S. price.
The plant is due to be built on the Mediterranean coast near Akkuyu. A consortium made up of Russia' Atomstroyexport, Inter RAO UES and Turkey's Park Teknik participated in the tender.
Turkish nuclear authorities in May ruled that the consortium's tender proposal that included the construction of four 1,200 MW power units was in line with all technological criteria.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/business/20090806/155747143.html
4. Toward an Intelligence-based Nuclear Cooperation Regime
Foreign Policy Research Institute
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At their recent Moscow summit, Presidents Obama and Medvedev articulated a common concern over what Medvedev called “negative trends in the world” resulting from the emergence of aspiring nuclear players in the Middle East and elsewhere. But other than Obama’s expressed goal of locking down all “vulnerable” nuclear materials on an accelerated timetable, there was little suggestion of a proactive common strategy to stem the global proliferation dynamic. Developing such a strategy is an urgent nonproliferation priority and should be placed high on the agenda of a nuclear security summit meeting that the sides have scheduled for March 2010.
Russian-American collaboration against the spread of nuclear weapons needs to extend beyond conventional threat reduction programs underway in Russia and elsewhere for the past 15 years, to include the difficult and relatively uncharted area of sharing proliferation-relevant information, some of which may be sensitive. Our intelligence services, which now devote vast resources to spying on each other, could join forces by sharing information on states and terrorist groups intent on developing nuclear weapons, including their clandestine procurement attempts. This process could include sharing and comparing open-source information, information on the probable source of nuclear materials seized in transit, or clandestinely acquired information on groups and individuals involved in nuclear trafficking. While agreements exist committing the countries to exchange information on these matters, actual sharing remains woefully inadequate, both bilaterally and with international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Intelligence cooperation is vitally important, because the current nonproliferation regime is essentially reactive and containment-oriented. It is not well equipped to deal with the smuggling activities and nuclear procurement conspiracies of nation-states and terrorists. The nonproliferation treaty (NPT) and associated conventions and agreements obligate states in various ways. but of course do not bind sub-state actors or non-state entities: Besides, signatory states have been known to cheat, either maintaining covert weapons programs or helping those who do. Also, the ability of states to keep their nuclear houses in order has proved problematic in the past, especially in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse.
On a practical level, cooperative U.S.-Russian security measures such as material protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) upgrades for direct-use materials and radiation monitors at border crossings offer limited protection against a range of unconventional proliferation threats: for example, collaborative thefts by well-placed insiders able to turn off alarms and defeat electronic surveillance systems; exports of highly enriched uranium and plutonium concealed in legal radioactive cargo; a decision by a senior state official to provide strategic nuclear wares to a an unauthorized end user (as Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan did with centrifuge enrichment technology for many years); and smuggling strategies that probe the sensitivity of radiation sensors with decoys or opt to circumvent official customs posts altogether.
Also, the modern safeguards technology the U.S. introduced in newly-independent states after the USSR’s demise were not yet widely deployed in the early-mid 1990s. This was a time of extreme malaise and prime proliferation risk in Russia’s nuclear complex, reflected in hundreds of thefts of nuclear and radiological materials. In fact, only last year was the gargantuan task of securing Russia’s vast stocks of fissile materials and warheads mostly completed. One wonders how much weapons-usable material has been stolen, secreted, or pushed onto the black market since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Similar concerns relate to the fate of the 21,000-plus tactical nuclear weapons deployed to the territory of the USSR just prior to its collapse. There have been persistent, if unconfirmed, reports in the Russian and international media that some Soviet-era tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) are held outside Russia or have simply disappeared. Russia and the international community need to address these troubling questions more forthrightly than they have in the past and collaborate in finding answers.
An immediate priority for the U.S. and Russia, along with other concerned countries, should be to detect and, where possible, disrupt smuggling chains for “loose” nuclear-related goods—that is to tamp down the shadowy networks that connect the sellers and ultimate end-users of these dangerous items. Not enough is known about such activities—how they are organized and financed; what front companies, criminal groups and other intermediaries are used; who the inside collaborators are; etc. Countries could jointly organize underground sting operations to flesh out buyer and end-user networks and possibly to recover nuclear material that has been removed from government inventories but has not yet fallen into the hands of our adversaries. Techniques such as offers of amnesty or even rewards for information on stolen caches also could be employed. Of course, it is inconceivable that a comprehensive interdiction and damage control strategy could be implemented successfully without cooperation of the security services, particularly those of the United States and Russia.
Finally, cooperative intelligence strategies could help clarify the link between clandestine nuclear transfers and the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities. In cases where a consequential leakage has occurred, information sharing can identify the origin of the theft, where the material is headed, and who the likely customers are. In the most serious cases, such as the transfer of a nuclear weapon or sufficient material to make one, intelligence could help guide joint operations against suspected recipients, which might range from diplomatic pressures to emergency response exercises to actually disabling an adversary’s nuclear arsenal.
Building an intelligence partnership with Russia will be no easy task. Russia and the United States have distinct, if overlapping, strategic interests as well as somewhat different assessments of the proliferation threat, particularly where Iran is concerned, so maintaining and expanding a unilateral U.S. collection capability is of central importance. Also, on the sensitive issue of nuclear leakage, Russia has in the past been reluctant to come forward with information on smuggling incidents, either out of embarrassment or out of fear of retaliation from the West. Surely some formula should be found to indemnify Russia, or any other country, against the possibility of nuclear security lapses such as those that may have occurred during the Yeltsin administration or in the chaos surrounding the break-up of the Soviet Union.
In any event, overcoming such obstacles is essential for Russia and the United States to prepare successfully for a post-proliferation world, maintaining vigilance against shadowy threats that may be waiting to strike in a time and place that we least expect.
Available at: http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200907.lee.intelligencenuclarcooperation.html
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