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Nuclear News - 9/1/2009
PGS Nuclear News, September 1, 2009
Compiled By: Matt Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Jerusalem Wants IAEA Report on Iran Released, Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post (8/31/2009)
    2. "The Whole Truth"? On Disclosure by the IAEA, Ephriam Asculai & Emily B. Landau, Right Side News (8/31/2009)
    3. Iranian Nuclear Threat Targets U.S., Israel, Chris Wessling, Newsmax (8/30/2009)
    1. Storm Over North Korea-Iran Arms Vessel, Donald Kirk, Asia Times (9/1/2009)
    2. North Korea’s ‘Charm Offensive” a Will-O-the-Wisp?, Rajaram Panda, Global Politician (8/31/2009)
    3. Russia Deploys Missiles Along Border with North Korea, Tony Halpin, Times (London) (8/29/2009)
    4. A Mellowing North Korea Is Yet to Forgo Nuclear Ambitions, Anita Gutierrez-Folch, Finding Dulcinea (8/26/2009)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. India, Namibia Sign Uranium Supply Deal, Samay Live (8/31/2009)
D.  Links of Interest
    1. Ganging Up on Iran, Linda Heard, Arab News  (9/1/2009)
    2. Dummy Fuel for Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Received, Economic Times (8/31/2009)
    3. New Study Will Contribute to Better Understanding of Nuclear Ignition, Physorg (8/31/2009)

A.  Iran

"The Whole Truth"? On Disclosure by the IAEA
Ephriam Asculai & Emily B. Landau
Right Side News
(for personal use only)

“The (likely) penultimate report of outgoing IAEA director general ElBaradei on the nuclear situation in Iran was leaked to the press on Friday, August 28, 2009. The report contains information that Iran is pressing forward with its uranium enrichment activity, while steadily increasing its capacity to do so. With regard to evidence of "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear program, the report notes lack of progress in clarifying with Iran the outstanding questions regarding information on its development of the nuclear explosive mechanism and the accompanying warhead delivery systems.

Contrary to expectations, the report contains no reference to what has recently been reported, that the IAEA is in possession of additional and more incriminating evidence against Iran that it has so far refused to make public.

The technical facts included in the IAEA report and the ensuing predictions are clear: should Iran decide to produce the core for its first nuclear explosive device, it can do so already, by utilizing some of its enrichment capacity to enrich existing stocks of low enriched uranium (LEU) to high levels (HEU). In about six months it should have enough LEU for further enrichment for a second core. This estimate is based on Iran's present operating capacity. However, Iran has almost doubled the number of installed gas centrifuge enrichment machines, without yet operating the additional machines.

One speculation for adding machines without operating them is that Iran is refraining from carrying out provocative actions before the West assesses its behavior toward the end of September, along the same logic whereby after a year of resistance it suddenly permitted inspections in Arak (the heavy water reactor) and allowed increased inspections at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. Should the additional centrifuges be put into operation, the rate of production of LEU will be increased accordingly. In addition, Iran is developing more advanced gas centrifuge machines, which will have an increased capacity if and when installed and running.

With this technological achievement, the potential production of nuclear explosive cores remains a political decision. Should Iran decide to use the known stocks of LEU for this purpose, the good news is that it will become known to the inspectors within a short period of time. Unfortunately, however, in its present mode of operation the IAEA cannot be depended on to announce this to the world; more likely, it would begin its routine of asking Iran for explanations, trying to clarify intentions, waiting for answers and corroborating them with other sources, and so on.

We see this bureaucratic foot dragging reflected in the report's discussion of the "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program, which includes the particularly naive complaint that "the constraints placed by some Member States on the availability of information to Iran are making it more difficult for the Agency to conduct detailed discussions with Iran on this matter." Why would any country agree to share sensitive intelligence information with Iran, and put its sources at risk? This attitude is reflected also in the IAEA report on Syria, which was published the same day. The IAEA received no cooperation from Syria on the matter of the bombed reactor site at Dair Alzour, which led the Director General to "call on other States, including Israel, which may possess information which may have led them to conclude that the installation in question had been a nuclear reactor, to make such information available to the Agency." Surely the IAEA has all the information it needs to arrive at the conclusion that the bombed installation was indeed a nuclear reactor under construction.

The recent allegations concerning the IAEA's withholding of evidence on Iran's developing a military nuclear program cast the IAEA in an unfavorable light. The explanation for this is not clear, but media reports concur that the person arguing for caution and secrecy with regard to Iran is the Director General himself. That important information might possibly be intentionally omitted from the IAEA periodic reports by ElBaradei is appalling. The case against Iran hinges on such information, which is essential for confronting Iran with the full weight of a determined and coordinated international response.

Evidence of disagreements within the IAEA itself over the question of disclosure of information regarding Iran first surfaced 18 months ago, when on February 25, 2008, IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards, Olli Heinonen, elaborated on the public IAEA report that was published three days earlier. In a closed-door meeting that was quickly leaked to the press, Heinonen presented to the 35-nation IAEA board new details about Iran's nuclear program: research into key technologies needed to build and to deliver a nuclear bomb. At the time, Heinonen was quoted as saying that some of the research carried out by Iran was not consistent with any other application than the development of a nuclear weapon.

In an attempt to minimize the significance of the information Heinonen presented, ElBaradei, in his report to the Board of Governors on March 3, said that Iran had clarified most of the outstanding questions except for the alleged studies regarding possible weaponization activities. Still, enough concern was raised by Heinonen's evidence to facilitate agreement on a third set of sanctions in the UN Security Council in March 2008, albeit not very strong ones.

Most likely, internal differences of opinion within the IAEA over disclosure continue with regard to the current material on Iran. Yet with so much dependent on this kind of information and the conclusions that can be drawn as to Iran's nuclear weapons development, the international community cannot afford to allow the IAEA to have any other agenda than a technical one. If there is incriminating evidence, it must be disclosed - period.

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Jerusalem Wants IAEA Report on Iran Released
Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post
(for personal use only)

“Israel wants the International Atomic Energy Agency to release a classified report on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons experiments, government officials said Sunday, following Friday's release of an IAEA report that was welcomed by Teheran as "positive."

Although the report said that Iran was stonewalling about "possible military dimensions" to its nuclear program, the report was far less critical of it than Israel would have liked.

According to government officials, the IAEA has another document that is a summary of everything the agency knows about Iran's nuclear program, but which has remained classified. Israel is keen on getting that document released, but has limited leverage since it is not a member of the IAEA.

The current head of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, did not agree to release the document, and the decision to do so will now go to his successor, Japan's Yukiya Amano, due to take office on December 1.

The Associated Press reported some 10 days ago on the existence of a secret IAEA summary of Iran's alleged weapons experiments, based on agency investigations and US and other intelligence reports.

AP quoted senior Western diplomats as saying the information concerned allegations that Iran had actively pursued research into developing nuclear warheads.

ElBaradei, according to the AP report, has opposed the document's publication out of the fear that this would make Iran even more intransigent and less likely to cooperate with the IAEA, and push the US or Israel closer to a possible military strike on Teheran's nuclear facilities.

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Iranian Nuclear Threat Targets U.S., Israel
Chris Wessling
(for personal use only)

“Concerns about Iran's nuclear capabilities — and their potentially devastating impact on America — are mounting, a special report from Newsmax.TV reveals.

The Islamic republic has test-fired missiles capable of reaching Israel, southeastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Mideast — and published reports say Iran is within a year of developing its own nuclear bomb.

Security experts warn that even one nuclear device in the hands of a rogue nation could be used against the United States in a devastating electromagnetic pulse attack, an intense burst of energy from an exploding nuclear warhead high above the Earth.

So why isn't the Obama administration doing more to prevent a nuclear nightmare?

“I get very, very nervous about it,” Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., told Newsmax.TV's Kathleen Walter. “I think Iran will have a nuclear weapon. I think now it's only a question of when.”

The United States is caught in the middle of a Mideast faceoff between one of its strongest allies, Israel, and Iran. Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, and Israel refuses to rule out a preemptive strike against its adversary, while insisting that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

If the United States tries to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons, its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has vowed a campaign of bloody revenge.

Iran's hatred of Israel “is rooted in ideology,” said Walid Phares of Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “The Iranian regime is jihadist, and they do not acknowledge nor accept the idea that a non-Islamic, non-jihadist state could exist in the region.”

Although Iran is thousands of miles from America's shores, its belligerent actions could have far-reaching repercussions. A regional war or nuclear attack could cause an already shaky U.S. economy to collapse.

Even scarier is the growing threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack, security analysts say. Such an attack could destroy all electronic devices over a massive area, from cell phones to computers to America's electrical grid, experts say.

“Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can't support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity,” said Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. “That would be a world without America, as a practical matter. And that is exactly what I believe the Iranians are working towards.”

President Barack Obama has committed the U.S. government to a diplomatic approach for resolving the high-stakes nuclear dispute, but Iran has rebuffed Obama's overtures. Meanwhile, Congress is working on legislation to grant Obama the power to impose crippling sanctions on Iran if the talk-first approach doesn't work.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., says such sanctions are long overdue.

“A nuclear Iran is a threat to the Iranian people, to Israel, to the Middle East, to the national security of the United States. And what is Congress doing about it? Nothing. We have proposed legislation time and time again to have real, substantial sanctions leveled against Iran. Now, we like to point fingers and say the U.N. has not done enough, but really we should be pointing the fingers at ourselves.”

The Obama administration has pressed Israel to halt all settlement building and to refrain from attacking Iran, hoping such efforts will lure Iran and other Mideast Arab nations to the negotiating table.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, says that sort of approach is wrong.

“[Obama] says Arabs can keep building in the West Bank, Arabs can keep building in eastern Jerusalem . . . but Jews can't. There's no other way to define this than racist.”

Time is running out to stop Iran, Klein says.

“America should say that everything is on the table and we will pursue whatever is necessary – military option, severe sanctions, whatever is necessary to stop these weapons. This is serious business. Al-Qaida has made clear how seriously they can harm American interests, and with nuclear weapons it's just beyond belief the horror that can ensue.”

But some critics are pushing for less intervention.

“Arguing for sanctions against Iran, and threatening them with bombs, or encouraging Israel to bomb Iran makes no sense whatsoever,” said Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. “So many other times this argument has been won by pure economics . . . This is what brought the Soviets to their knees – it was financial.”

Others wonder whether the United States missed the perfect opportunity to disarm Iran, failing to take advantage of the widespread turmoil and push for reform that occurred in the aftermath of the country's disputed recent presidential elections.

“Eventually the Iranian regime, if not reformed from the inside, is going to get the nukes, is going to use them in a deterrence fashion, and eventually if there is a confrontation it may use them for real,” Phares said. “This revolt of Tehran may well become another Iranian revolution. Now its success is conditioned by how far the United States and the international community go in assisting this democratic movement.”

The more time Obama devotes to the diplomatic approach, critics warn, the more time Iran has to realize its nuclear ambitions and even sell its technology to other nations or terrorists.

“I think the president's learning a lesson,” Hoekstra said. “I mean, the president was brutal on the previous administration on foreign policy, saying, you know, 'Your policy on North Korea is bad; your policy on Iran is bad.' Everywhere and anything the former president did in foreign policy was terrible [according to Obama], and he was going to come in and fix it. I think he's finding out that foreign policy is hard.”

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Storm Over North Korea-Iran Arms Vessel
Donald Kirk
Asia Times
(for personal use only)

“The seizure by the United Arab Emirates of a ship carrying North Korean rocket-propelled grenades and other conventional weapons, reportedly for delivery to Iran, belies the seriousness of North Korea's moves toward reconciliation in recent weeks.

United States analysts believe the primary motive for North Korea's conciliatory gestures may be to get the US and other countries to ease up on the enforcement of tougher sanctions on North Korea's exports of weapons imposed after North Korea conducted its second underground nuclear test on May 25.

The export of apparently conventional weapons to Iran might not have been a reason to hold the Australian-owned vessel and confiscate its cargo, before the United Nations Security Council
firmly imposed the sanctions on June 12. Previous UN sanctions were not as tough - and were often ignored by North Korea's closest friends and one-time Korean War allies, China and Russia.

The United Arab Emirates is now asking the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council what to do with the weapon-laden cargo of the ANL Australia which was carried in crates marked as machinery parts when the vessel was boarded at Dubai.

A UN diplomat whose country is represented on the sanctions committee told the Financial Times that the vessel has now been allowed to leave the UAE. He said the consignment had been ordered by Iran's TSS, a company said to be linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and previously subject to international bans on importing weapons-related items. The UAE has confirmed that the exporting company was an Italian shipper, Otim, which exported the items from its Shanghai office.

But Tehran has denied these reports as a as "Zionist" conspiracy aimed at diverting global attention from the positive results of a new UN nuclear watchdog report on Iran's nuclear program, the local Fars news agency reported.

The seizure of the ANL Australia, which took place about a month ago, was the first made under the new sanctions. Indian authorities detained and searched a North Korean vessel in early August, but found only sugar on board. UN resolution 1874 bans all arms exports from North Korea and authorizes states to search suspicious ships and seize and destroy banned items.

Another North Korean vessel, believed to be on its way to Myanmar, turned back to North Korea in June after a US destroyer, the USS John McCain, tailed it as it was sailing south off the China coast.

The ANL Australia has been seized as North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appeared to be looking for ways to draw the US into the two-sided dialogue that he has long sought in place of six-party talks, to which the North has said it would not return. The UN Security Council sent letters to Tehran and Pyongyang on August 25 informing them of the seizure, demanding a response within 15 days.

Kim began his goodwill offensive on August 4 when he met with former US president Bill Clinton for three hours and 17 minutes. Clinton flew back to Los Angeles bringing with him two female journalists who had been held for 140 days after they were picked up on North Korea's Tumen River border with China filming a piece on North Korean human-rights issues.

Although Clinton flew on a private plane provided by a wealthy California business figure, on a visit that the White House insisted was "unofficial", he obviously relayed messages and briefed US President Barack Obama on his return to the US.

Kim Jong-il followed up that gesture by releasing a technician working for Hyundai Asan, the company responsible for developing the special economic complex at Kaesong and the tourist zone at Mount Kumkang. Kim had met with the Hyundai Asan chairwoman, Hyun Jeong-eun, and he has since let down restrictions on access to the complex and re-opened the city of Kaesong, an ancient Korean capital beside the zone, to South Korean tourists.

Kim Jong-il has also agreed to allow the first reunions in nearly two years of Korean families separated by the Korean War. South and North Korean negotiators have set a date for the reunions in late September, with them scheduled to take place in the Kumkang zone above the North-South line by the east coast. The Kumkang zone, the site of a number of previous reunions, has been closed to tourism since North Korean guards last year shot and killed a South Korean woman tourist who had wandered outside the zone to look at the sunrise.

In the latest move, North Korea at the weekend freed the four-man crew of a small South Korean fishing boat that was picked up in late July after straying into North Korean waters on the east coast. The release of the crew contrasts with North Korea's refusal to release several hundred other fishermen from boats seized off both the east and west coasts in the last few decades.

In addition to these moves, North Korea sent a delegation to Seoul for the funeral on August 23 of Kim Dae-jung, the former South Korean president who met Kim Jong-il for the first inter-Korean summit in June 2000. Members of the delegation met South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak, despite North Korean media regularly labeling him a "traitor" for his hardline stance on Pyongyang.

Kim Dae-jung's death on August 18 set off a wave of national mourning that North Korea is attempting to exploit by showing an interest in reconciliation - but without any plans to make concessions on its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

While waging a goodwill offensive, North Korea clearly needs to maintain if not increase its international arms trade as a source of badly needed revenue for its downward spiraling economy. North Korea also wants to circumvent financial sanctions included in the UN resolution. The sanctions have made North Korea a pariah in the global financial system whose institutions refuse to carry on normal business with North Korean companies.

North Korea's desire to shake off the sanctions is believed to rank ahead of concerns about Kim Jong-il's health as the reason for all the gestures of reconciliation.

Some observers have speculated that Kim, who reportedly suffered a stroke more than a year ago, wants to improve the atmosphere while grooming his youngest son, Kim Jong-un to replace him. His appearance in video footage with Clinton and then with the Hyundai Asan woman suggests he may not be nearing death, as some had thought, though clearly he appears drawn and has lost considerable weight.

The seizure of the vessel destined for Iran reflects the importance of a relationship nurtured by Kim in which Iran and North Korea have also been partners on everything from small arms to nukes.

North Korea has exported missiles to Iran while obtaining materiel and components for developing nuclear weapons with highly enriched uranium at their core. Iran insists it's nuclear program is only for producing energy while North Korea is only in the early stages of an enriched uranium program in addition to the long-established plutonium program at its complex at Yongbyon.

A sign of the tightness of the relationship between Iran and North Korea is that Iranian scientists were reportedly on the scene when North Korea tested a long-range Taepodong-2 missile on April 5 and at both its underground nuclear tests in October 2006 and again in May.

The seizure of the North Korean vessel at Dubai exposed the lengths to which North Korea is going to hide its international arms trade.

The ANL Australia was reportedly flying the flag of the Bahamas although ANL is headquartered in Melbourne. ANL is a subsidiary of CMA CGM, a global container ship firm headquartered in Marseilles.

Analysts believe the vessel and its cargo represent only a small portion of the business that North Korea is conducting in arms, including missiles.

Australian Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, when confirming the seizure of the vessel, said Australian authorities were now investigating whether ANL broke Australian laws in agreeing to transport North Korean arms. Australia, he said, took seriously its responsibilities to enforce UN sanctions.

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North Korea’s ‘Charm Offensive” a Will-O-the-Wisp?
Rajaram Panda
Global Politician
(for personal use only)

“After months of military provocations, North Korea has made some remarkable conciliatory moves to ease tensions in the Korean peninsula. It seems to be too early, however, to determine how sincere those moves are. Assuming that North Korea is indeed sincere in its efforts to resolve the nuclear issue, are the responses from the US and other countries involved in the Six-Party talks (SPT) going to be positive? As of now, there are conflicting opinions.

One section of opinion in the US suggests that the US should now relent on sanctions if it wants to draw Pyongyang to the talking table at ending the nuclear programs. This argument says that Pyongyang showed the first gesture to lower tension by freeing the detained two American journalists after Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang. The North also freed the detained South Korean businessman and offered to reopen frozen North-South business and tourism ventures. This was followed by the visit of a high ranking North Korean delegation to attend the funeral of the former South Korean President. The highlight of the delegation’s visit was that it delivered a message from the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak, the first formal communication since Lee took office about 18 months ago.

Pyongyang went further and invited the US official charged with managing relations with North Korea, Steven Bosworth, to visit the North in September for talks on its nuclear program.

Security analysts take a different perspective on North Korea’s such conciliatory moves. They attribute the tactical shift in Kim’s stance to the international sanctions imposed on the North after it conducted the nuclear tests in May had begun to bite on its finances. This group of analysts argues that the North has not even broached the nuclear proliferation dispute, which in fact isolated it from the international community. On the other hand, Pyongyang is only focusing on atmospherics by toning down the rhetoric in its efforts of diplomatic outreach. The truism is that the North has not shown any willingness to return to multilateral talks on denuclearization.

The US dilemma gets heightened when renowned outspoken US scholar, Selig Harrison, takes a contrarian view and says that he is the one who has the answer to the question what the US should do to stop North Korea from pursuing its nuclear weapons development programs. Harrison has visited North Korea 11 times since 1972 and regularly interviews powerful North Koreans. According to him North Korea is a struggling country that should be pitied, not feared. He further says that North Korea wants Washington to accept it as a nuclear power; eliminating the weapons would have to follow an improvement in relations. Though law makers take his views seriously, and supporters praise him as an invaluable link between two wary countries. his critic considers him as an apologist for a government that brutalizes its citizens and a mouthpiece for North Korea’s anti-American views.

Harrison runs the Asia program at the Center for International Policy, Washington, and sees himself as a “journalist in think-tank guise”. The Obama administration might find it of use if informal channels are used in the absence of high-level contact between Pyongyang and Washington, though conservatives in the US may get infuriated with this suggestion. The truism, however, is that the use of informal channel has proved effective, as was demonstrated by the release of the two journalists following Clinton’s private visit to the North and by the visit of Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, to the North on the invitation by North Korean diplomats.

Critics, however, see Harrison as credulous and that North Korea is using him to try to renegotiate the terms of already settled nuclear agreements with the US. After his latest visit to the North last January, Harrison offered a suggestion that was contrary to the long-standing US policy: with the North demanding recognition as a nuclear weapon state, Washington should refocus its strategy on trying to cap the number of weapons in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The Obama administration remains inflexible and has refused to accept “halfway measures”.

Obama might as well give some serious consideration in defining his North Korea policy. It may be remembered that following the 1994 accord, which froze North’s nuclear facilities, Harrison’s three-hour conversation in the same year with Kim Il Sung had laid the foundation for President Jimmy Carter’s visit to North Korea. According to Bruce Cumings, a North Korea specialist and University of Chicago history professor, it was Harrison who helped avoid another war by bringing Washington and Pyongyang together. It was a different matter that after the Bush administration claimed North Korea had embarked on a secret uranium program, the 1994 accord fell apart in 2002.

Obama is aware that the situation and circumstances in 2009 are totally different from what was in 1994. Now North Korea faces UN sanctions aimed at curtailing its lucrative missile trade following its long-range rocket launch in April and nuclear test in May. The US wants the North to rejoin the US in disarmament-for-aid talks that also include South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. Pyongyang considers these dead and wants only direct talks with the US, which the latter refuses to conduct outside the SPT framework. North Korea also wants to be recognised as a nuclear power. The members of the SPT reject this.

After failing to obtain the required backing from its chief benefactor, China, North Korea’s made peace overtures by demonstrating emotional outpouring at Kim Dae-Jung’s funeral probably to lessen the tough sanctions. It may be remembered that after Lee Myung-bak came into power in 2008, he put the brakes on policies of open-ended aid that funneled billions to North Korea in a policy that Kim Dae-jung had begun a decade ago. Lee demanded reciprocity form its largess. In response, Pyongyang shut down inter-Korean business and tourism projects. Now that the sanctions have begun to bite the economy and the country needs money, Kim has become conciliatory.

The obvious reason why Pyongyang is opening up to the South is MONEY. North Korea’s economy is in tatters. It suffers from years of mismanagement and has not been able to withstand global sanctions. The crucial farm sector has been hit by heavy rains. It has lost aid from the South, roughly equal to about 5 per cent of its estimated $17 billion a year GDP. Its crucial source of hard currency is being dried up following imposition of sanctions for the nuclear test aimed at cutting off its arms trade. North Korea needs foreign currency to buy items abroad needed for its military and nuclear programs as well as to purchase perks for its ruling elite and the military. The ‘Dear Leader’ is suspected to be suffering from cancer and has already chosen his youngest son to succeed him and therefore wants a peaceful transition to power. It is therefore necessary for him to keep the military happy.

North Korea may be having the intention to rebuild its main nuclear plant that had been disabled under the SPT. Resumption of the SPT does not seem likely in view of Pyongyang’s preference for direct talks with the US. Needs for money probably has led Kim Jong Il to recast his policy towards its southern neighbour. Kim met the chairperson of the powerful Hyundai Group, a major investor in the North for about a decade. Both agreed to resume stalled business ties. Kim is likely to project this meeting in such a way that it wills one of South Korea’s leading conglomerates has great respect for Kim.

If tourism is resumed at Mount Kumgang, located in North Korea and run by a Hyundai affiliate, North Korea can expect to earn millions of dollars a year. Pyongyang is also seeking to increase wages and rents paid at a joint factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, run by the same Hyundai affiliate. Pyongyang again expects to earn few million dollars from this, if the deal is through. It is possible Kim Jong Il is expecting that by improving ties with South Korea, the latter would resume supplying food and fertilizer aid. South Korea used to send about 400,000 to 500,000 tons of rice and about 300,000 tons of fertilizer to North Korea every year. That stopped after Lee took office in February 2008.

It is too early to say who is going to be the winner OR if Kim Jong Il will succeed in getting what he wants. South Korea is not alone this time and obtaining compliance of all the concerned parties on a common stand on North Korea is not easy. While diplomacy will remain at play that North Korea will lose in the process seems to be the more probable scenario.

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Russia Deploys Missiles Along Border with North Korea
Tony Halpin
Times (London)
(for personal use only)

“Russia has put defences on alert along its border with North Korea amid tensions over possible new missile tests by the secretive Communist regime.

The Kremlin ordered troops to deploy Russia’s most advanced missile defence system, the S-400, to intercept any threats from North Korea’s nuclear programme. General Nikolai Makarov, the head of the Russian army, said that a mobile battery of 32 surface-to-air missiles had been put into operation in anticipation of any Korean tests.

“We are taking these preventative measures as a security guarantee against faulty launches of the missiles and to guarantee that fragments of these missiles never fall on Russian territory,” he said. “We are concerned by the fact that the site in North Korea where it carries out its nuclear tests is located quite close to the Russian border.”

A senior Russian senator said that use of the S-400 system could not be ruled out, but he rejected any comparison between Moscow’s actions and the decision by the United States to build a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe. The US argues that the shield is necessary to deter attacks by rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea, but Russia has denounced the plan as a threat to its national security.

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee, said that the US was responding to “non-existent” dangers, while Russia was defending against “the emergence of real sources of threat”.

Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok is just 93 miles from its narrow border with North Korea. Six missiles test-fired by North Korea in 2006 reportedly fell in Russian waters in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea fired 11 short-range rockets with a range of up to 500km in two separate launches last month, defying a United Nations ban on ballistic missile activities linked to sanctions against its nuclear programme.

The regime in Pyongyang carried out a second underground nuclear explosion in May at the same time as it test-fired another series of short-range missiles. It also test-fired a long-range missile in April that is said to be capable of reaching Britain and the US.

Russia is a member of the six-party group, along with the US, China, Japan, North and South Korea, that is attempting to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The S-400 “Triumph” system has a range of up to 400km and is said to be capable of bringing down cruise and tactical missiles as well as aircraft using stealth technology.

The defence system was put in place as a Russian presidential envoy travelled to South Korea for talks yesterday with President Lee Myung-Bak. A Kremlin spokesman said that they discussed “issues relating to trilateral co-operation between Russia, South Korea, and North Korea”.

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A Mellowing North Korea Is Yet to Forgo Nuclear Ambitions
Anita Gutierrez-Folch
Finding Dulcinea
(for personal use only)

“Recent events indicate a thawing of North Korea’s relationship with its neighbors and the U.S., but have not yet led to the fulfillment of the country’s denuclearization promises.
The “Hermit Kingdom” Reaches Out

North Korea’s warming approach to international relations suggests a relaxing tension between the country and the United States, Bill Powell reports for Time magazine. Yet the question of North Korea’s denuclearization, discussed twice since 1994, remains unsolved.

Recent events such as former President Bill Clinton’s rescue mission for two captive journalists, North Korea’s liberation of a hostage South Korean businessman and a later attempt to reconcile with South Korea over the funeral of late President Kim Dae Jung, point toward an apparent conciliatory desire on the part of North Korea. As Time explains, Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung’s son, seems to be willing to “ste[p] back from the ledge and tr[y] to re-engage” with the United States and its allies whenever the situation gets overly tense.

North Korea’s potential cooperation, however, comes with conditions. According to what North Korean diplomats told Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., “Pyongyang would return to the negotiating table only if it could deal directly with the U.S. and not the other countries involved in the six-party talks” that were held during George W. Bush’s presidency, Time magazine reports.

At the same time, despite disapproval from the United States, North Korea has continued developing its nuclear weapons program, a move that violates the terms of the Agreed Framework, a treaty signed in October 1994 between both countries. This agreement “call[ed] upon Pyongyang to freeze operation and construction of nuclear reactors suspected of being part of a covert nuclear weapons program in exchange for two proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors," explains the Arms Control Association.

As Time Magazine explains, the Obama administration is willing to comply with North Korea’s desire for direct dealings with the United States, but “under no circumstances will they [and their South Korean allies] back off their demand for complete denuclearization in the North.” In exchange for this, however, the U.S. will offer economic aid that will run “in parallel” to the denuclearization progress.

The conflict between North Korea and the United States has been ongoing since the onset of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea, the American zone of occupation. After the North’s infringement, the United Nations called for UN member countries to come to the South’s aid; The United States saw the invasion as a Communist challenge to the non-Communist world, and soon entered the fray. Chinese and Soviet Union forces came to the aid of North Korea. Though the two sides pushed and pushed back, they ended up settling on a truce where the war began: at the 38th parallel. It took two years to settle the truce, and the war finally ended on July 27, 1953.

The peninsula was devastated by the three-year conflict; much of its infrastructure was destroyed and most of its people were thrown into poverty. And the Cold War would continue elsewhere in the world for several decades. “The modern world still lives with the consequences of a divided Korea and with a militarily strong, economically weak, and unpredictable North Korea,” according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

In a test of its budding space program, South Korea launched its first rocket on Tuesday, “but failed to put a scientific satellite into its planned orbit,” Reuters reports. The covert objective of this launch was to rile North Korea, recently sanctioned by the U.N. because of a rocket experiment that was “widely seen as a disguised missile test.”

South Korean Science Minister Ahn Byong-man attempted to explain the launch’s failure at the South Korean space center later that day. “The first stage engine and the second-stage kick motor operated normally and the satellite separated, but it did not put it precisely in the target orbit,” he told Reuters.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

India, Namibia Sign Uranium Supply Deal
Samay Live
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“New Delhi: India and Namibia Monday signed five agreements, including one on civil nuclear energy which allows for supply of uranium from the African country.
This was decided at the start of President Hifikepunye Pohamba's five-day visit to India - which is the first state visit by a foreign head of state in the second term of the United Progressive Alliance, which was re-elected to power in May 2009.

After a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Pohamba had a discussion with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during which they especially laid stress on expanding economic ties.

"Our relations with Namibia have strong historical roots, which predate Namibia's independence. They are warm, cooperative and based on profound understanding of each other's aspirations," Singh said in a statement after the meeting.

He was referring to the fact that the first ever mission of South West African Peoples Organisation (Swapo) was given full diplomatic recognition by India in 1986, even before Nambia got full independence.

After the discussions, both countries signed five agreements, including one on supply of Namibian uranium to India.

Later, addressing captains of Indian Industry, Pohamba noted that uranium and diamonds were sectors ripe for Indian industry to enter the Namibian market.

"Among the agreements that we signed today (Monday) is the cooperation between us on uranium. I believe that we have the best uranium in the world," he said. Nambia is the fifth largest producer of uranium in the world.

After Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowed trade in nuclear technology and fuel with India, the South Asian country has been looking to ramp up its production of nuclear energy to meet its need for increasing electricity.

But, with limited domestic uranium reserves, India has been looking abroad to get assured supplies. It has already signed an agreement with Kazakhstan. Australia has, however, so far refused to supply uranium to India, unless it signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Indo-Namibian agreement in peaceful uses of nuclear energy allows for supply of uranium and setting up of nuclear reactors.

The Indian cabinet had last week also given the green light to the government to sign an umbrella agreement with Namibia in the lucrative area of mining.

The Namibian president also invited Indian industrialists to try and redress the balance of trade which was heavily in favour of India. While exports from India stood at $40 million for 2007-8, imports of Nambia were at nearly half at $21 million.

"We should, therefore, work hard to bring about more exports from Namibia to India," he said.

Pohamba asked for Indian businesses to look at Namibia for its diamonds, "which are the best in the world".

"This year, my colleague, minister of mines said, why can't we have some of the diamonds go to india, so that they can see the value of the Namibian diamond. I said go ahead. So that there are some packs of diamonds which came to India this year," he said.

India has been strongly advocating for the Africanisation of the diamond trade, where the countries get the benefit from the industry.

Later Monday evening, the Namibian president attended a state banquet in his honour thrown by President Pratibha Patil at the presidential palace.

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D.  Links of Interest

Ganging Up on Iran
Linda Heard
Arab News
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Dummy Fuel for Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Received
Economic Times
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New Study Will Contribute to Better Understanding of Nuclear Ignition
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