1. Iran: We've Developed New Model of Nuclear Centrifuges
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“Iran has built a new generation of centrifuges for enriching uranium and is testing them, the official news agency IRNA quoted its nuclear energy agency chief as saying on Tuesday.
"Iranian scientists have made a new generation of centrifuges that are currently undergoing necessary tests," Ali Akbar Salehi told a Tehran news conference as reported by IRNA.
"Chains of 10 centrifuges are now under test," he said, and the number in each chain "will be gradually increased."
Salehi did not say when the new model of centrifuge would be introduced to the production line in its Natanz enrichment plant but said it was stronger and faster than those now in operation.
Iran says it is enriching uranium only to low levels suitable for electricity generation and is committed to non-proliferation safeguards maintained by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Citing intelligence reports, the West suspects Iran has secretly researched how to fuel atom bombs with highly enriched uranium. Iran has denied this and said the intelligence, unverified but deemed credible by the IAEA, was fabricated.
A senior diplomat close to the IAEA said there appeared to be little new in Salehi's announcement. The IAEA has reported Iran testing advanced models of centrifuges for more than two years but found no sign of them being phased into production lines.
Ahmadinejad: Iran will cut off the hands of any who dare attack
Also on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a military parade in Tehran that Iran would "cut off the hands" of anyone who attacked the country.
"Iranian armed forces will cut off the hands of any attackers before they pull the trigger," he said in an address at a parade broadcast on state television to mark the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September 1980.
Hundreds of troops marched past the official podium packed with top officials, followed by military hardware including Ghadr, Sejil and Shahab-3 long-range missiles which are made in Iran.
Television commentators said the Shahab-3 missile had a range of 2,000 km, putting Israel within striking distance.
Shorter range missiles, unmanned planes and locally made jet fighters - Saegheh and Azarkhsh, artillery and rockets were also on display.
Trucks drove past bearing slogans reading "Down with Israel" and "Down with USA". Iran has always played down any threats of possible U.S. or Israeli attacks on Iran and says it is well-prepared to respond if any such strike was made.
"No power in the world is daring enough to attack Iran as we are more experienced and powerful than ever," Ahmadinejad said at the parade.
The United States and its allies are seeking to intensify UN sanctions on Iran over the Islamic country's disputed nuclear program, which the West fears is intended to build nuclear weapons. Iran has repeatedly denied this.
Iran has repeatedly condemned the military presence of the U.S. and its allies in neighboring countries. "The roots of all conflicts in the region is the presence of foreign troops," Ahmadinejad said.
After Ahmadinejad spoke, a military plane that flew over the parade crashed on the outskirts of Tehran. There were no reports of injuries.
Washington and Israel do not rule out military action against Iran over the nuclear issue.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his American counterpart Robert Gates during a visit to Washington on Monday that Israel would not take any option regarding Iran off the table, and urged Washington to set a time limit on its diplomatic efforts.
Israel means what it says when it comes to Iran's contentious nuclear program, Barak told Gates.
Israel's deputy foreign minister earlier Monday made similar comments regarding Iran, saying Israel has not given up the option of a military response to Tehran's nuclear program.
Danny Ayalon's remarks came after Russia's president said his Israeli counterpart had assured him the country would not attack Iran.
Tehran will hold talks on October 1 with major powers worried about the Islamic Republic's nuclear strategy
Available at: http://www.worldpress.org/feed.cfm?http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1116169.html
“Iran stopped meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency last year over Western allegations of covert Iranian nuclear weapons work because the nuclear agency was demanding access to the designs for its Shahab-3 missile and other secret military data, according to both Iranian and IAEA officials.
The United States and other Western states have cited Iran's refusal to cooperate with the IAEA on resolving issues related to intelligence documents on a purported covert nuclear weapons programme as further evidence of its guilt.
"They've been asking for Shahab-3 drawings for about a year," Iran's ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told IPS in an interview. "We found out a year ago and that's when we stopped the meetings with IAEA."
A senior official of the IAEA familiar with the Iran investigation, who insisted on anonymity as a condition for being interviewed, confirmed to IPS that the agency had requested not only that Iranian officials discuss the details of the Shahab-3's reentry system, but access to the actual engineering designs for the missile.
"We want them to explain to us that the design studies are not for nuclear weapons," said the official. "We're saying, you say you've done reentry vehicle reengineering [on Shahab-3], so show us some documentation."
The latest IAEA report, dated Aug. 28, notes that the agency "has been unable to engage Iran in any substantive discussions about these outstanding issues for over a year", but it does not link the Iranian disengagement to the demand for military secrets.
The Sep. 15, 2008 report said, however, that in a Sep. 5 letter Iran had "expressed concern that the resolution of some of these issues would require Agency access to sensitive information related to its conventional military and missile related activities."
Asked whether this request would not compromise Iran's national security secrets, the official conceded to IPS, "Yes there will have to be some compromise on their part, because the charges are serious. If someone is accused of nefarious crimes, it is in their interest to share a little of their security to show they are baseless."
Defending the IAEA's request, the official said, "All verification is a compromise of national security. Natanz [the Iranian uranium enrichment facility] is the most heavily verified enrichment plan in the world. It's a compromise of national sovereignty."
Soltanieh said he had protested the demand for such conventional military secrets at meetings of the IAEA Governing Board in 2008 and 2009. "They denied they asked for this information," said Soltanieh.
The Iranian ambassador first expressed concern about being asked to give the IAEA access to national security secrets about its missiles and other conventional military technology in a letter to ElBaradei Sep. 5, 2008.
The September 2008 IAEA report strongly implied without saying so explicitly that the agency was seeking access to actual plans for the missile. It said the IAEA had "proposed discussions with Iranian experts on the contents of the engineering reports examining in detail modeling studies related to the effects of various physical parameters on the reentry body from the time of the missile launch to payload detonation."
The most recent report of the IAEA, dated Aug. 28, 2009, referred to "the need to hold discussions with Iran on the engineering and modeling studies associated with the re-design of the payload chamber referred to in the alleged studies documentation to exclude the possibility that they were for a nuclear payload."
In a letter to IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei Sep. 4, 2009, Soltanieh complained that the report which had just been released had "reflected the unjustified previous requests by your staff in Tehran [for] discussing with Iranian military staff the issue of missiles and explosives!"
He noted that the director general had on several occasions "emphasised that the Agency is not intending to enter into the domain of the national security of Member States".
The agency also requested "additional information and documentation, and access to individuals, in support of [Iran's] statement about the civil and conventional military applications of its work in the area of EBW detonators," according to the September 2008 IAEA report.
The IAEA further asked to meet individual scientists named in one of the intelligence documents as being part of the purported Iranian nuclear weapons research programme. The senior IAEA official acknowledged in the interview with IPS, however, that it would be relatively easy for an outside agency to identify individuals who belonged to an organisation.
"It's not difficult to cook up such a document," the official said.
In his letter to ElBaradei, Soltanieh said these IAEA requests represented "interference in confidential conventional military activities of a Member State, related to its national security..."
The IAEA has offered to "discuss modalities that could enable Iran to demonstrate credibly that the activities referred to in the documentation are not nuclear related, as Iran asserts, while protecting sensitive information related to its conventional military activities."
But the senior IAEA official interviewed by IPS made it clear that such modalities would not preclude access to the documentation on the Shahab design.
Iran's enemies, especially the United States and Israel, are eager for intelligence on the design of the Shahab-3's reentry vehicle.
According to a detailed analysis by the Armed Combat Information Group (ACIG), the upgraded version of the Shahab-3 has an improved guidance system and warhead, as well as completely new re-entry vehicle with a different guidance system based on rocket-nozzle steering rather than a spin-stabilised re-entry vehicle.
The new reentry vehicle is smaller than the previous version, according to the former head of Israel's Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation. That gives the improved version greater precision.
But the most significant feature of the new variant, according to the ACIG analysis, is the capability for changing trajectory repeatedly during re-entry and in the missile's terminal phase. That capability allows the Shahab-3 to evade the radar systems associated with Israel's Arrow 2 missile.
If Israeli and the United States were able to get more information on the design of the reentry vehicle, they would be able to make adjustments in the Arrow 2 system to increase its effectiveness against the Iranian missile.
The IAEA secretariat is well-known to be major source of intelligence on Iran for the United States and Israel. In the 1990s, 10 of the 35 members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations in Vienna were Central Intelligence Agency personnel, according to the 2007 book "The Italian Letter", by journalists Peter Eisner and Knute Royce.
Ambassador Soltanieh told IPS that the IAEA safeguards department, to which the Iranians pass much sensitive information, has repeatedly leaked that information – usually out of context - to journalists for stories portraying the Iranian nuclear programme in a menacing light.
"Leakage of confidential information is a matter of serious concern," said Soltanieh. "In many cases, we give information to inspectors and soon it is in the media."
A Western diplomatic source in Vienna who insisted on not being identified said, "I don't think it would help a lot to get the specific plans of Shahab-3." For one thing, he observed, "They could be working on other studies and we wouldn't know about it."
The official admitted that it was "always difficult to prove that something is nonexistent".
Nevertheless, it would be "much safer for Iran to compromise on these issues than to keep its present attitude," the official said.
Available at: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48509
“The Iranian president has said his country sees no need for nuclear weapons, while insisting Iran will not abandon its pursuit of nuclear energy.
In an interview with US network NBC Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not explicitly rule out the possibility that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons.
He said simply that it was "not a part of our programmes and plans".
Meanwhile, Iranian security forces were on alert ahead of an annual rally expected to draw opposition leaders.
The opposition figures, who reject Mr Ahmadinejad's re-election in June, have called on their supporters to turn out in large numbers at the Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally, which is being held in support of the Palestinian cause.
In his interview with NBC, the Iranian president said he did not "see any problems" with the elections.
Talks to resume
Speaking about Iran's nuclear programme, Mr Ahmadinejad said his country would not yield to pressure from the UN, the US and European states.
Western powers maintain Iran is covertly developing nuclear arms, a charge Iran denies.
They have called on Iran to suspend its programme of uranium enrichment, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.
Mr Ahmadinejad is due to address the UN General Assembly next week, and Iran is due to hold fresh talks on its nuclear programme with world powers next month.
"If you are talking about the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes, this will never be closed down here in Iran," he told NBC.
Asked repeatedly whether there were any conditions under which Iran would develop a nuclear weapon, Mr Ahmadinejad each time replied that Iran had no use for such arms.
"We don't need nuclear weapons," he said.
"Without such weapons, we are very much able to defend ourselves."
Questioned about the disputed elections in June, the Iranian leader defended their legality. Iran's election laws are built on "the strongest... foundations," the president said, and "the law prevails. I don't see any problems."
Mr Ahmadinejad claimed victory, but opposition supporters who claimed the vote was rigged staged mass protests.
Officials say at least 30 people were killed in the protests that ensued, while opposition groups put the figure at more than 70.
In the Iranian capital, Tehran, security forces were braced for Friday's rally.
Television pictures showed thousands of people marching in the city. Opposition supporters wearing green - Mr Mousavi's party colours - were taking part in the rally with pro-government supporters, AFP news agency reported.
Mr Ahmadinejad is due to give a speech at a university later.
Among the opposition leaders expected to appear at the rally were Mir Hossein Mousavi, who emerged as Mr Ahmadinejad's main challenger, and Mehdi Karroubi.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps said it would deal "decisively" with any effort to stage an opposition protest.
Former BBC Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says opposition groups have not managed to hold a big rally for over two months and this is an opportunity, though one fraught with danger, for them to show they are still in contention.
It remains to be seen, he adds, whether security forces will take action against possible passive displays of defiance, such as the wearing of green, the colour adopted as the symbol of the reform movement led by Mr Mousavi.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8262174.stm
“Iran experts at the U.N nuclear monitoring agency believe Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and worked on developing a missile system that can carry an atomic warhead, according to a confidential report seen by The Associated Press.
The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that those officials share Washington's views on Iran's weapon-making capabilities and missile technology — even if they have not made those views public.
The document, titled "Possible Military Dimension of Iran's Nuclear Program," appeared to be the so-called IAEA "secret annex" on Iran's alleged nuclear arms program that the U.S., France, Israel and other IAEA members say is being withheld by agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei — claims the nuclear watchdog denies.
It is a record of IAEA findings since the agency began probing Iran's nuclear program in 2007 and has been continuously updated.
The information in the document that is either new, more detailed or represents a more forthright conclusion than found in published IAEA reports includes:
-The IAEA's assessment that Iran worked on developing a chamber inside a ballistic missile capable of housing a warhead payload "that is quite likely to be nuclear."
-That Iran engaged in "probable testing" of explosives commonly used to detonate a nuclear warhead — a method known as a "full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system."
-An assessment that Iran worked on developing a system "for initiating a hemispherical high explosive charge" of the kind used to help spark a nuclear blast.
In another key finding, an excerpt notes: "The agency ... assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device (an atomic bomb) based on HEU (highly enriched uranium) as the fission fuel."
ElBaradei said in 2007 that there was no "concrete evidence" that Iran was engaged in atomic weapons work — a source of friction with the United States, which has sought a hard-line stance on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The document traces Iran's nuclear arms ambitions as far back as 1984, when current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was president and Iran was at war with Iraq.
At a top-level meeting at that time, according to the document, Khamenei endorsed a nuclear weapons program, saying "a nuclear arsenal would serve Iran as a deterrent in the hands of God's soldiers."
He and other top Iranian leaders insist their country is opposed to nuclear weapons, describing them as contrary to Islam. They argue that Iran's uranium enrichment program and other activities are strictly for civilian purposes.
Senior U.S. government officials have for years held the view that Iran has the expertise to make a bomb.
The Obama administration said Thursday it was scrapping a Bush-era plan for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the decision came after U.S. intelligence concluded that Iran's short- and medium-range missiles were developing more rapidly than previously projected and now pose a greater near-term threat than the intercontinental ballistic missiles addressed by the plan under former President George W. Bush.
The AP saw two versions of the U.N. document — one running 67 pages that was described as being between six months and a year old, and the most recent one with more than 80 pages and growing because of constant updates. Both were tagged "confidential." A senior international official identified the document as one described by the U.S. and other IAEA member nations as a "secret annex" on Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has called reports of a "secret annex" misinformation.
The document is based on intelligence provided by member states, the agency's own investigations and input from outside nuclear arms experts under contract with the IAEA. Iran is under three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze enrichment, the key to making both nuclear fuel and weapons-grade uranium. It is blocking IAEA attempts to probe allegations based on U.S., Israeli and other intelligence that it worked on a nuclear weapons program.
Iran recently agreed to meet Oct. 1 with the U.S. and five other world powers seeking curbs on its atomic activities for the first time in more than a year. But Tehran says it is not prepared to discuss its nuclear activities.
Presented with excerpts from the earlier paper, the senior international official said some of the wording and conclusions were outdated because they had been updated as recently as several weeks ago by IAEA experts probing Iran for signs it was — or is — hiding work on developing nuclear arms.
At the same time, he confirmed the accuracy of the excerpts, including Khamenei's comments, as well as the IAEA assessment that Iran already had the expertise to make a nuclear bomb and was well-positioned to develop ways of equipping missiles with atomic warheads.
An official from one of the 150 IAEA member nations who showed the AP the older version of the document said much of the information in it has either never been published or, if so, in less direct language within ElBaradei's periodic Iran reports first circulated to the agency's 35-nation board and released to the public. That was confirmed by the senior international official.
The officials providing the information both insisted on anonymity because of the confidentiality of the document, which they said was meant to be seen only by ElBaradei and his top lieutenants.
In the case of Khamenei, there is only an oblique reference in the annex to ElBaradei's Iran report of May 26, 2008, saying the agency had asked Tehran for "information about a high level meeting in 1984 on reviving Iran's pre-revolution nuclear program." The international official said the Iranians denied that Khamenei backed the concept of nuclear weapons for his country.
The agency said earlier this year that Iran had produced more than 1,000 kilograms — 2,200 pounds — of low-enriched, or fuel-grade, uranium. That is more than enough to produce sufficient highly enriched uranium for one weapon, should Iran choose to do so, and its enrichment capacities have expanded since then.
The document concludes that while Iran is not yet able to equip its Shahab-3 medium-range missile with nuclear warheads, "it is likely that Iran will overcome problems," noting that "from the evidence presented to the agency, it is possible to suggest that ... Iran has conducted R&D (research and development) into producing a prototype system."
The Shahab-3 missile has a range of up to 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers), putting Israel within striking distance, and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The document also says Iran already could trigger a nuclear blast through "methods of unconventional delivery" such as in a container on a cargo ship or carried on the trailer of a truck. ElBaradei last month urged Iran to cooperate with IAEA efforts to probe allegations of a weapons program.
That Aug. 28 report noted that the information on Tehran's alleged weapons program shared by board members "need to be addressed by Iran with a view to removing the doubts ... about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."
But in an indication that ElBaradei also is concerned, he departed from the cautious language characterizing his Iran reports last week.
He told a closed meeting of the IAEA board that if the intelligence on Iran's alleged weapons program experiments is genuine, "there is a high probability that nuclear weaponization activities have taken place — but I should underline 'if' three times."
The U.S., Israel, France and other nations critical of Iran's nuclear activities have for months said that ElBaradei was withholding a "secret annex" on Iran in the IAEA's electronic archives that they say goes far beyond the information and conclusions published by ElBaradei in his regular reports on Iran.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged ElBaradei earlier this month to publish his confidential information, saying it contained "elements which enable us to ask about the reality of an atomic bomb." Israel's Haaretz daily cited unidentified government officials as demanding the same.
The agency denies it is hiding information from the board. IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire has said claims otherwise are "misinformation or misinterpretation," and described them as "having no basis in fact."
Asked about the discrepancy between the agency denial that it was withholding information and the existence of the document, the senior international official said the report was at this point an "internal and constantly changing" record of what the IAEA knows and concludes about Iran. As such, he said, circulating it, even only to IAEA board members, would be counterproductive.
Only after the agency has concluded its investigation and drawn final conclusions would it share the information with the board, he said, adding that he could not say when that would be.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j9EVzzCsT-QwKFtWDzgF6ZLue6BgD9APALJ03
5. IAEA Denies Report It Is Sure Iran Seeking Atom Bomb
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”The U.N. nuclear agency has no proof that Iran has or once had a covert atomic bomb program, it said on Thursday, dismissing a report that it had concluded Iran was on its way to producing nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reaffirmed IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's September 9 comment that allegations the agency was sitting on evidence of Iranian bomb work were "politically motivated and baseless."
"With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapons program in Iran," an IAEA statement said.
The IAEA received information from a variety of sources that might be relevant to verifying that a state was not hiding nuclear bomb research or development, it said.
All information on Iran that the IAEA had vetted has already been shared with its 35-nation Board of Governors in reports by ElBaradei.
Diplomats close to the IAEA have told Reuters it has no "smoking gun" evidence of Iran currently trying to apply nuclear technology to its ballistic missile program. Two diplomats repeated that position after Thursday's media report.
The IAEA is investigating what it calls credible Western intelligence material suggesting Iran in the past researched ways of revamping the cone of a Shabab 3 missile to fit a nuclear warhead.
The inquiry also touches on alleged Iranian plans for test-detonations of explosives at high altitude IAEA experts see as suitable for no other purpose but an atom bomb.
INTELLIGENCE COMPELLING, NOT PROVEN
While the IAEA has cited no proof of a bomb project, it reported on August 28 for the first time that the intelligence was compelling and Iran must do more to resolve suspicions.
The Associated Press quoted what it called a classified IAEA document as saying agency experts had agreed Iran now had the means to build atomic bombs and was heading toward developing a missile system able to carry a nuclear warhead.
It said the document seemed to be a "secret annex" detailing evidence of Iranian nuclear "weaponization" work which officials in Israel, Iran's arch-enemy, and France accused ElBaradei of withholding.
A diplomatic source close to the IAEA said the agency had no "secret annex" but did maintain a classified running analysis of its findings on Iran that, however, contained no final conclusions about Iran's nuclear behavior or ambitions.
"It's a work in progress. It's an assessment of where the probe stands. It's more than a listing of evidence about the alleged military dimensions the IAEA has published so far."
ElBaradei told the agency's board last week that his non-proliferation inspectors had serious concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions "but we are not in a state of panic.
"That is because we have not seen diversion of nuclear material (from declared civilian uses), we have not seen components of nuclear weapons. We do not have any information to that effect," he said.
Iran has acknowledged some activities outlined in the intelligence and denied they had nuclear use. But it is withholding documentation, refusing access to locations and officials for interviews needed by the IAEA.
Iran has repeatedly said it is enriching uranium only for electricity, not eventually for fissile bomb material, although it has no nuclear power plants to use low-enriched uranium.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE58G60W20090917?sp=true
1. China Calls on Bringing Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue Back to Dialogue
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“China on Tuesday called on related parties to push the return to dialogue of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.
"As situation in the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia shows signs of thawing, China would like to make concerted efforts with parties to bring the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue back on the track of dialogue at an early date," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told the regular news briefing.
Jiang' comments came days after Chinese President Hu Jintao's special envoy Dai Bingguo visited the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) last week.
During his stay in Pyongyang, Dai presented Hu's letter to top DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. The DPRK side said it will continue the denuclearization goal, work towards Korean Peninsula peace and prosperity and resolve relevant issues through bilateral and multilateral dialogue.
Both sides agreed to enhance the bilateral ties through communication and cooperation in various areas, Jiang said.
"As a close neighbor of the DPRK, China attaches great importance to Korean Peninsula situation, denuclearization and peace and stability in Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia, "Jiangsaid.
Jiang said consultation through dialogue and peaceful resolution to relevant issues has been Chinese government's consistent stance. "Six-party talks is a practical and reliable method to fix DPRK nuke issue through dialogue and consultation."
Launched in 2003, the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue involved China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan.
The six-party talks have been stalled since the last round in Beijing last December.
Available at: http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/6764909.html
2. North Korea at Brink of Possible New Nuclear Disarmament Talks
The China Post
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“U.S. President Barack Obama said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was firmly back in control of his country and the erratic communist state may be set to return to negotiations on ending its nuclear arms program.
World leaders gather in New York this week for a U.N. summit and later in Pittsburgh where dialogue partners at the disarmament talks will try to coordinate a new approach to coax Pyongyang back to the table, 10 months after talks broke down.
Here are some events that could unfold after Kim pledged last week to return to dialogue in a bilateral or multilateral format.
U.S., North Korea To Sit Down, Pyongyang Content
U.S. officials are expected to sit down with North Koreans after the U.N. General Assembly that begins on Monday to discuss the nuclear issue. No formal concessions are being given to the North by the United States by agreeing to meet, but it is a key diplomatic coup for Pyongyang both at home and abroad. The meeting will likely pave the way for the North's return to talks.
Negotiations Resume, Tensions Taper Off
North Korea has declared the six-party talks over for good because it said the United States has schemed to turn negotiating partners against it and by doing so infringed on its sovereignty. But some analysts said the North had left the room open for a return to the existing six-way framework.
If and when the talks resume, South Korea, the United States, China, and, if they are invited back to the table, Japan and Russia will try to strike a “package deal” that will compensate the North for a quick and accelerated dismantlement of its nuclear program, a South Korean official said. That will be a departure from two previous and defunct deals which laid down the process in several stages.
North Korea Sticks To Nuclear Arms, World Leaders Move On
Few analysts believe the North will ever scrap its nuclear arms program and pledge peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world. The likelihood is slim as long as Kim Jong-il is in power and if the North succeeds in third-generation dynastic succession where one of his sons take over. Regional powers have failed to bind the North to a disarmament deal in the past 20 years and Pyongyang has not only kept its nuclear arsenal but successively raised the stakes every time there was a change of government in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo. As long as there is continuation of the North's leaders and not in other countries, the North will never be bound to a disarmament deal, experts say.
Sanctions Remains, North Squeezed
North Korea's return to negotiations does not mean world powers will let up on U.N. sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests this year. Officials in Seoul and Washington have said they will not repeat the mistake of adopting tough U.N. sanctions, only to shelve them in efforts to coax the North back to negotiations.
Propaganda Cycle Complete, New One Kicks Off
The North has carefully orchestrated a return to ascendancy for leader Kim Jong-il after questions were raised about his absolute control over the communist state when he was thought to have suffered a stroke a year ago.
The cycle began when a frail Kim returned to the national spotlight at the annual meeting of the state's parliament in April, when he had his term as leader extended.
Shortly after that, the North launched a massive national 150-day Speed Battle campaign that was aimed at celebrating Kim's leadership through shows of military might that included a nuclear test in May and mobilizing all the state to increase industrial and farm output.
It was supposed to end on the Oct. 10 anniversary of the founding of the communist state's ruling Workers' Party. But the North's state media said on Monday the campaign had been extended by 100 days, in a move analysts said indicates that U.N. sanctions for the nuclear test may have made it more difficult for the state to reach its goals. Once the campaign is complete, Kim, 67, could use its culmination to prepare for its succession in Asia's only communist dynasty with his youngest son being tipped as the most likely heir.
Available at: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/commentary/reuters/2009/09/22/225670/North-Korea.htm
3. South Offers Grand Bargain to North Korea to Give Up Nuclear Weapons
The Christian Science Monitor
(for personal use only)
“South Korea's president offered North Korea a "grand bargain" Monday in which the North would receive much-needed economic assistance in return for giving up its nuclear program.
The proffered deal may be impoverished North Korea's "last chance" to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid, President Lee Myung-bak said during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where he is attending the UN General Assembly this week.
The move comes as the Obama administration said that engaging the reclusive North Korean regime directly may be the best way to bring it back to denuclearization talks. But administration officials also said that China, the nation that wields the most influence over the North, must do more to bring North Korea back into multilateral negotiations.
Bloomberg reports that Mr. Lee said the terms of a "grand bargain" would be decided by the nations involved in the six-party talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il walked away from those negotiations, which involved the US, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia, after the UN condemned his regime's launch of a missile in April. The North tested a nuclear device for the second time in May.
The move is a departure from the previous approach of offering rewards to the North for incremental progress, reports The Korea Herald. Seoul is refusing to "buy the same horse twice," according to the newspaper.
"Some may call this rhetoric, but to us, this signals that most of the international community, possibly even China, is willing to let the current sanctions on the North continue until the ultimate deal is reached," said one [Foreign Ministry] official declining to be identified….
Foreign Ministry officials stressed that the "grand bargain" strategy is significant because it shows that even if the six-party talks are revived, they would no longer allow Pyongyang to reap rewards every step of the way as it did under the previous incremental approach.
The newspaper also reported that critics contend the North will not make any concessions until it achieves coveted bilateral talks with the US.
The Christian Science Monitor reported Friday that Mr. Kim said he was open to bilateral and multilateral talks after a visit from a Chinese official. The Monitor reports that Seoul has expressed deep reservations about direct US-North Korea talks. South Korea wants the North to agree to denuclearization before any new agreement, and also fears being marginalized by direct talks. The US has assured South Korea that any direct talks would only be aimed at bringing the North back to the multilateral negotiations, according to the Monitor.
South Korea's foreign minister told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday that the South would not oppose talks if that was their only aim, the Associated Press reports. The AP also reports that US officials said they expect China to urge the North to return to six-party talks.
An editorial in The Korea Times argues that Lee likely felt prompted to propose the "grand bargain" by the US's move toward bilateral talks, and his speech was aimed at cautioning the US to deal carefully with the North.
Lee must have felt an urge to make clear that the U.S., South Korea and other allies should no longer play into the hands of North Korea because the Stalinist country has yet to show any sign of change in its quest for nuclear weapons…. Lee said, "We must not repeat our mistake of the past 20 years when we allowed the North Korean nuclear issue to return to its starting point by agreeing to a nuclear freeze and rewarding the North for such an agreement while ignoring the fundamental issue of complete nuclear dismantlement."
The mistake certainly refers to the acceptance of North Korea's "salami strategy" under which the reclusive country had only made "thin slices" of concessions for large incentives while keeping its nuclear program intact.
Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0922/p99s01-duts.html
4. South Korea: North Korea Seeks Recognition as Nuclear State
(for personal use only)
“North Korea is insisting on direct talks with the United States in an attempt to obtain recognition as a nuclear state, Seoul's top diplomat said Friday, warning that the North's atomic bombs are intended to target South Korea.
The remark — implying that the communist nation has no intention of giving up atomic weapons — is the latest in a series of warnings that a wary South Korea has issued ahead of possible one-on-one negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.
After escalating tensions for months with nuclear and missile tests, Pyongyang recently offered to hold direct talks with the U.S. — a longstanding demand from the reclusive North which maintains it had to develop atomic bombs to cope with what it calls "U.S. nuclear threats" — which Washington denies making.
The U.S. is studying the offer, saying such talks could be worthwhile to get the North back into six-nation disarmament negotiations — that also involve China, Russia, South Korea and Japan. Pyongyang pulled out of the talks in April to protest international criticism of a rocket launch that other nations suspected was a test of long-range missile technology.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Thursday that the U.S. will "make some judgments in the very near future" on the bilateral talks offer after consultations with other countries.
South Korea says it does not oppose direct U.S.-North Korea dialogue if it is aimed at resuming the six-party talks.
But officials, including President Lee Myung-bak, have cautioned against any hasty optimism, saying that the North has shown no willingness to disarm. They say recent conciliatory gestures from Pyongyang — including resumption of inter-Korean projects and the release of U.S. and South Korean detainees — are just because it feels the pain of U.N. sanctions on its weapons exports and financial dealings that were imposed after a nuclear test it conducted in May.
"The reason North Korea is repeatedly insisting on direct talks is because it wants to be recognized as a nuclear state in order to proceed with arms reduction talks with the U.S.," Seoul's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said in speech Friday at the Korea Chamber of Commerce, according to his office.
Yu also said the North's atomic bombs are aimed at South Korea, saying the communist neighbor's goal has long been to unify the divided nations by force.
The U.S. has long said it will never recognize Pyongyang as a nuclear power.
On Thursday, Yu told a parliamentary committee that U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang should continue to be enforced unless the North takes "visible" steps to disarm.
Meanwhile, a presidential envoy from China — the North's principal ally — has been in Pyongyang for talks with North Korean officials.
Dai Bingguo, special envoy of Chinese President Hu Jintao, met with First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, considered Pyongyang's top foreign policy brain and the main nuclear strategist, on Wednesday and met with the North's No. 2 leader Kim Yong Nam on Thursday.
Details of their discussions were not available. It is widely believed the nuclear row was a key topic.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090918/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_nuclear_1
“India has thermonuclear capabilities, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan has emphasised, saying the scientists who raised doubts about the 1998 nuclear tests in Pokhran had personal motives to do so.
Narayanan spoke to CNBC-TV18′S Karan Thapar in an interview to be broadcast Monday night. He insisted that India had the thermonuclear device - the first time a government official has made this statement publicly after the recent controversy.
“We have thermonuclear capabilities. I am absolutely sure. Even if we are hit, we will have enough to be able to deliver something,” said Narayanan.
Former senior DRDO official K. Santhanam had raised doubts that India’s thermonuclear test in 1998 had not worked.
“I have chosen my words very carefully - (the yield was) 45 kilotons… And nobody… including Santhanam, who has absolutely no idea what he is talking about… knows, for that matter any one else can contest what is a proven fact by the data which is there,” said the NSA.
He said the Atomic Energy Commission had last week given the “most authoritative” statement on the efficacy of the 1998 nuclear tests and no more clarification was required from the government.
Narayanan indicated that the sudden statements by Santhanam and other senior nuclear scientists could be a result of personal rivalries within the scientific community.
He rejected the suggestion that a panel of scientists could review the Pokhran test results, asserting that it would be difficult to get neutral, independent scientists who could investigate the matter.
“Which peer scientists are we going to bring in (for a panel)? All those peer scientists are part of the establishment or are sceptics,” he said.
Narayanan said he was aware of reports that Pakistan had increased its nuclear arsenal. He stated that India will suitably respond to do whatever is required in national interest to increase nuclear deterrence.
“The fact that a country not friendly is building up its arsenal is a concern… We will do what we have to do.”
He added: “We have absolutely no intention of changing no-first use doctrine. We are committed to (it).”
On Pakistan reportedly diverting US technology and weapons for use against India, Narayanan said India had taken up the matter a number of times with the US but the latter had only responded by offering the same equipment to India.
But he admitted that India was worried about the modification of Harpoon missiles by Pakistan.
Available at: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/india-has-thermonuclear-capabilities-nsa_100250010.html
2. India Seeks Out Britain, France, Russia Over NPT, CTBT
(for personal use only)
“India is concerned about a proposed UN Security Council resolution urging countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and has contacted Britain, Russia and France to ensure that its nuclear deals are not be affected, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan said.
The UN draft resolution is spearheaded by the US and is likely to be passed this week when President Barack Obama chairs a special session of the Security Council.
"We have talked to countries with whom we have entered into agreements, like France. We have also talked to the UK with whom we are negotiating an agreement. And I will be talking to Russia in a day or two," Narayanan told the CNBC channel in an interview to be telecast Monday.
A draft of the UN resolution, published on the website of an American newspaper Politico, calls upon all states "that are not parties to the NPT to accede to the treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states so as to achieve its universality at an early date, and pending their accession to the treaty, to adhere to its terms".
It also asks states to "refrain from conducting a nuclear test explosion and to sign and ratify the CTBT, thereby bringing the treaty into force at an early date".
Narayanan said he was "not worried about the proposed resolution".
He said the fact that countries like Canada was approaching India for a bilateral nuclear deal showed the resolution was not a deterrent. "We have (had) positive responses," he said.
Narayanan, however, said the resolution will figure in talks with his US counterpart in the coming weeks.
"This issue has already been raised. Americans have come to us and whatever happens to the resolution will not affect (the) civil nuclear agreement (between India and the US)," he said.
On Saturday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India was committed to strengthening disarmament and promoting a global consensus on the issue. India's permanent mission in the UN is monitoring the resolution, Rao said.
"India is also in touch with friendly countries" over the draft resolution, Rao said when asked if India will face increased pressure from the US to sign the CTBT.
Available at: http://www.samaylive.com/news/india-seeks-out-britain-france-russia-over-npt-ctbt/657716.html
“The U.S. shift on missile defense is part of a broader White House strategy to signal its commitment to disarmament and moving toward eventually eliminating America's nuclear-weapons stockpile.
The strategy includes developing and enforcing treaties aimed at banning atomic-weapons testing and the production of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.
"There's more happening this year on the disarmament front than what's occurred over the past decade," said a senior U.S. official working on nonproliferation issues.
The crucial first step, said U.S. officials, is the successful completion of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia by year's end. The treaty aims to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. President Barack Obama views a signing of the treaty this year, which is by no means assured, as a key signal of its intentions to the international community and Congress.
Republican lawmakers and conservative disarmament experts said they were bracing for a battle. Developments in Iran's and North Korea's nuclear and long-range missile programs, for example, could make a test ban treaty even more difficult to pass than a decade ago. They also said the speed at which Mr. Obama was pursuing his disarmament strategy could lead U.S. adversaries to try to exploit the shifting environment.
"When it comes to disarmament, haste often makes waste," said Henry Sokolski of Washington's Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a bipartisan think tank. "In this case, it could also encourage other countries to exploit our over eagerness to sign on the dotted line."
The Russian negotiations are seen as the start of a much broader, and sequenced, disarmament strategy that U.S. officials said they would be pursuing in coming months. Mr. Obama is dispatching envoys overseas in support of a United Nations conference in May focused on strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Next Thursday, Mr. Obama will lead a meeting of the U.N. Security Council that is focused on curbing global nuclear-weapons stockpiles. His administration has also drafted a Security Council resolution calling for the elimination of all atomic weapons. Washington hopes to pass the resolution next week.
The White House pledge to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is expected to be a key battle in Mr. Obama's strategy over the next year.
President Bill Clinton initially signed the pact, which bans all testing of atomic devices, in 1996. But the Senate later rejected the treaty.
Opponents of the test-ban treaty argued it lacked inspection mechanisms to effectively protect against cheating. Some lawmakers also argued that the legislation hurt the ability to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons.
In recent weeks, the Obama administration has begun laying the groundwork for a new Capitol Hill campaign to sell the test-ban treaty.
The White House has asked the National Academy of Sciences to review ways the treaty could be enforced, as well as its impact on U.S. defense.
"At first, the key is to answer the technical questions" surrounding the test ban, said Thomas D'Agostino, director of the National Nuclear Security Agency, at the headquarters of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna. "The political issues will be addressed later."
U.S. officials hope that advances with START and the CTBT will allow the administration to persuade developing nations not to pursue nuclear weapons as they head into the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in May.
The White House argues that it will support the development of peaceful nuclear programs in these countries in exchange for a commitment to drop any efforts to produce nuclear weapons. The Obama administration also wants non-nuclear weapons states to agree to more intrusive inspections by U.N. organizations.
Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125323649104721767.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
“For the first time in a decade, a worldwide ban on nuclear testing could be within reach. The combination of a strong commitment from US President Barack Obama, along with new data on nuclear materials and the successful completion of a global nuclear-monitoring network, means that momentum is once again swinging in favour of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that would ban all nuclear explosions for military or civilian purposes.
At the end of this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead a delegation to the United Nations in New York City to discuss the treaty. The delegation will be the first from the United States in a decade, and scientists and other non-proliferation advocates hope that it will reinvigorate the negotiation process. "This will be a different kind of event with the [United States] back at the table," says Oliver Meier, a Berlin-based representative of the Arms Control Association, a non-profit group that provides analysis of arms-control measures. "I think we're as close to entry into force as we've ever been."
Described by former US president Bill Clinton as the "the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms control", the CTBT is seen as the next major step in reducing the threat from nuclear weapons. Proponents argue that a global ban on nuclear testing will prevent nations from obtaining nuclear capabilities and halt the further development of warheads in those countries that have them. A total of 149 nations have already ratified the treaty, but several countries — including China, Israel, Iran, North Korea and the United States — are holding out. Until these and other key states ratify the pact, it is not binding.
The United States is seen as a linchpin in the process, according to Meier; if it ratifies the CTBT, then other nations such as China, India and Pakistan may feel more pressure to do so. Clinton signed the treaty in 1996, but three years later, it fell well short of the 67 votes needed to ratify it in the Senate. The failure was in large part political, according to Jenifer Mackby, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington DC. Clinton was embroiled in a scandal with Monica Lewinsky, and opponents including Senators Jon Kyl (Republican, Arizona) and Trent Lott (Republican, Mississippi) spread doubt about whether the treaty would work.
Politics may have felled the treaty, but the arguments of opponents were technical. Doubters warned that the United States might need to return to nuclear testing in order to verify its ageing stockpile of weapons. They also claimed that it would be possible for nations to cheat by hiding the seismic signatures of a nuclear blast from a global monitoring network. At the time, scientists had little more than calculations to rebut these criticisms: a voluntary moratorium on US nuclear testing was only seven years old, and a global monitoring network had not yet been built.
"The process of monitoring has notably improved in the past ten years," says Paul G. Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University in New York, who helped carry out a review of the CTBT monitoring network for the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002. Perhaps most importantly, this network successfully detected two small nuclear tests from North Korea that occurred in October 2006 and in May of this year. In both cases, the seismic network picked up evidence of the explosion within minutes.
The scientific understanding of the US nuclear stockpile has also improved dramatically. Studies of ageing nuclear materials and computer simulations have shown that the stockpile is reliable and can remain so for decades to come without testing, according to Sidney Drell, a physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center of the National Accelerator Laboratory in California.
That doesn't mean that technical objections won't be raised this time around. Some US weapons scientists are already objecting to the treaty, warning that it could hurt the country's nuclear readiness in the long term. "Scientists are going to do what scientists do, they're going to raise their own individual concerns, and I welcome that," says Thomas D'Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the independent agency that oversees the US nuclear stockpile.
D'Agostino says that the Obama administration recently asked the National Academy of Sciences to update its largely positive 2002 assessment of the CTBT (see 'Test-ban treaty 'scientifically sound''). That assessment should be ready early next year, when the Senate debate on the treaty is expected to heat up.
Available at: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090921/full/news.2009.932.html
3. Global Network Detects Sign of Atomic Bomb Testing
Edith M. Lederer
(for personal use only)
“Iran, Israel and the five nuclear powers that are permanent Security Council members are part of a global network to detect signs of testing of a new atomic bomb, a positive sign of cooperation in the bid to halt the spread of such weapons, the head of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty organization said Friday.
The monitoring network has not been widely reported nor have its participants, including Iran, which the West believes is pursuing nuclear weapons, and Israel, which is widely believed to possess a nuclear arsenal but won't say as much.
Tibor Toth said at a news conference that a system to detect and verify atomic blasts that was started in 2000 now has 270 monitoring facilities and expects to increase the number to 340.
The stations rely on four technologies: seismic, sensing the shock waves of an underground blast; hydroacoustic, listening for underwater explosions; infrasound, picking up the low-frequency sound of an atmospheric test; and radionuclide detection, sampling the air for a test's radioactive byproducts.
The data is transmitted to the Vienna headquarters of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization and relayed to its signatory nations, including the U.S., which signed the pact in 1996, only for the Senate to reject it three years later.
Toth called the verification system an important step to address concerns of nuclear and non-nuclear states, and noted that it monitored North Korea's nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 "very well."
Toth spoke to reporters ahead of a high-level meeting on Sept. 24-25 on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting to press North Korea, India and Pakistan to first sign and then ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and to press the other six countries who have signed it to ratify it.
Major nuclear powers, including the United States, have observed moratoriums on testing since the 1990s, but India, Pakistan and North Korea all have tested bombs since the treaty was negotiated and opened for signatures in 1996.
The treaty has been signed by 181 countries and ratified by 149, but it cannot take effect until it is ratified by nine key holdouts — the U.S., China, North Korea, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt.
"I am very much optimistic because during the last 2-2 1/2 years we see a momentum building," he said. "We need action, action, action and leadership, leadership, leadership."
Toth praised President Barack Obama's April 5 speech in Prague in which he vowed to "immediately and aggressively" pursue treaty ratification by the Senate and to work with allies and other countries needed for ratification.
He said he was also encouraged that Indonesia's foreign minister indicated the country would ratify the treaty and China's foreign minister said the government was "working on the entry into force of the treaty."
"The ratification by the U.S. will play a leadership role and that leadership role is important," Toth said.
"I would like to emphasize, if you set aside the United States, the other outstanding ratifications are missing from Asia and the Middle East," he said. "It's an important reminder that the security of these regions can be enhanced, in my judgment, by this treaty, which is capping any potential arms races ... through taking the oxygen from the development of new weapons."
Toth said the five confirmed nuclear powers on the Security Council — Russia, France, China, Britain and the United States — are providing one-third of the monitoring stations and for the first time "they are undertaking legally binding obligations to be exposed to verification."
The U.S. is expected to put in place 42 stations, and during the last 8 years has already started operating 39 of them, he added.
"Iran is contributing with monitoring stations which are installed," Toth said, adding that his organization was working with Iran on getting the stations operational.
Annika Thunborg, spokeswoman for the test ban treaty organization, said Iran has "three or four" monitoring stations.
Toth said "ratification of the treaty is a clear indication that countries have no intention to use nuclear energy in any other way than the peaceful use of nuclear energy ... so from that point of view it's important that Iran ratifies the treaty."
He said Israel "did not say no" to ratifying the treaty and is "positively contributing with monitoring stations to our work and scientific and technical involvement in our work."
"It would be an extremely important step_ and the right step in the right direction in my judgment — if Israel ratified the treaty," Toth said.
India, Pakistan and North Korea have not even signed the treaty and Toth urged them to consider whether the test ban was in their national interests.
He welcomed the "positive soul-searching" in India and stressed that even if a country ratifies the treaty before the United States, "it is not risking any strategic security interest" because the test ban doesn't come into force until all nine key holdout countries sign it.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hGEa5e_fQbqd78In1-kT2aooCuvQD9AQ5V9O2
4. Upcoming Meetings Can Rally Support for UN-Backed Nuclear Treaty, Says Official
U.N. News Center
(for personal use only)
“A set of meetings to be held next week at United Nations Headquarters could have a significant impact on efforts to bring the treaty banning nuclear testing worldwide into force, a senior official leading those efforts said today.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) has been signed by 181 countries and ratified by 149. However, it needs to be ratified by nine others – China, Egypt, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States – before it can enter into force.
Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), highlighted the conference to promote the treaty and its entry into force, which will take place on 24 and 25 September in New York.
In addition, US President Barack Obama is scheduled to chair a meeting of the Security Council on 24 September focusing on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the CTBT.
Mr. Tóth welcomed what he described as a “stronger interest” by the US on these matters. “I see an attention which is underpinning the preparations for the ratification discussion in the [US] Senate.”
He also noted that the National Academy of Sciences was requested to prepare a study which will provide the necessary information to the Senate and to those who will have to review the ratification.
There is also movement from other quarters, he added, including an indication by Indonesia that it will ratify the treaty. All in all, he said he is “very much optimistic” about the political momentum that has been building over the past two and a half years.
“The climate is much better now,” said Mr. Tóth. “We have sunny political weather.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also highlighted the “crucial window of opportunity” currently available regarding nuclear disarmament.
“More leaders are speaking out. The wind is at our back,” he said yesterday at his monthly news conference. “With a strong push by the right leaders, we can bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force.”
Available at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32121&Cr=ctbt&Cr1
1. Polish, Czech Governments Undamaged by U.S. Shield Decision
Gareth Jones and Jan Lopatka
(for personal use only)
“Polish and Czech right-wingers accused Washington of caving in to Russia after it dropped plans for a missile shield on their soil, but the move is not expected to harm the governments in Warsaw and Prague.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski, a conservative supporter of the shield, said his government shared blame for the demise of the U.S. project, but analysts say the economy is a far bigger priority than missile defense for Polish and Czech voters.
U.S. President Barack said on Thursday he was scrapping Bush-era plans to build missile interceptors in Poland and a radar site in the Czech Republic and instead proposed flexible, initially sea-based defense systems to protect against Iran.
Russia had fiercely opposed plans to deploy the shield in a region it had dominated until the fall of communism in 1989.
"Betrayal! The USA has sold us to the Russians and stabbed us in the back," said the Polish tabloid Fakt.
Czech daily Lidowe Noviny took a similar line. "Obama gave in to the Kremlin," it said.
Washington and its NATO allies in Prague and Warsaw always insisted the shield was aimed against Iran, not Russia, noting that 10 interceptors could not deter Moscow's nuclear arsenal.
In Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk's center-right, pro-EU government never embraced missile defense as keenly as its more conservative, Russophobic predecessor led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the president's twin brother, which it ousted in 2007.
This fact makes it difficult for the Kaczynskis to reap any electoral benefits from Obama's decision, though the president criticized the government in an article published in Fakt.
"Polish diplomacy and administration must bear part of the blame for the present situation. In the process of negotiation with the American side ... what was lacking was a feeling that the Polish government believes in the strategic character of the American presence in Poland," Kaczynski wrote.
Tusk is widely expected to challenge Kaczynski for the presidency in an election next year. Poland is also due to elect a new parliament in 2011. Tusk and his ruling Civic Platform should win both elections, according to current opinion polls.
"The Kaczynskis try to present themselves as the real patriots who are pro-U.S. and anti-Russian ... but few in Poland believed the missile defense shield would make us safer," said Pawel Spiewak, a sociologist at Warsaw University.
"As in Britain and the United States, foreign policy issues rarely have much impact on domestic public opinion, so I don't expect much impact from Obama's decision on politics here."
Polish officials have also stressed that a separate accord with Washington on defense cooperation still stands.
Under that deal, the United States will help Poland to upgrade its air defences by stationing a Patriot battery on its soil temporarily over several years. Technical talks are continuing on how to implement the Patriot agreement.
Unlike Poland, where Tusk has a big parliamentary majority, Czech politics is currently in a state of turmoil after a court ruling scuppered plans to hold an early election this autumn.
But there too, political analysts saw little impact from the U.S. decision on Jan Fischer's caretaker government. As in Poland, the Czechs' overriding priority right now is to bring a burgeoning budget deficit under control.
"There have been many polls showing most people are against missile defense but people would rank the topic very low on the list of issues they are interested in," said Petr Just, political science lecturer at Charles University in Prague.
"The opponents of the radar will be thumping their chests... but (the decision) will have no impact."
Still, Obama's decision may harm perceptions of U.S. reliability in ex-communist "New Europe," which has steadfastly supported Washington in Iraq and Afghanistan. Poland has lost 10 soldiers in Afghanistan, out of a 2,000ong contingent, and the Czechs have lost two of their 450 troops based there.
"(The east Europeans) will certainly be even more careful next time (the United States wants their support) and Washington may forget about the two countries joining any future "coalition of the willing" with any U.S. administration," the Warsaw-based DemosEuropa think-tank wrote in a commentary.
Poles are particularly irked that Obama chose to make his shield announcement on September 17, when they were marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland after Moscow clinched a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.
The day stands as a symbol for Poles of how big powers are prone to trample all over them when it suits them.
"It seems there are no Poland experts in the United States," said Radoslaw Markowski of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE58H1W320090918
1. Serbian Spent Nuclear Fuel Will Be Shipped To Russia
(for personal use only)
“During the 53rd IAEA General Conference, delegates from the Russian Federation and Serbia signed a trade contract, laying the groundwork for the final repatriation of spent nuclear fuel from the Serbian Institute for Nuclear Sciences at Vinča to the Russian Federation.
The Foreign Trade Contract (FTC) is a pre-condition for the spent fuel´s envisioned repatriation to Russia, setting out provisions for the safe and secure transport, reprocessing, storage and subsequent disposal of the high-level waste at Russian facilities. The FTC was signed by Mr. Sergey Kazakov, Director of the Russian Federal Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety and Mr. Radojica Pesic, General Director of the Serbian Public Company Nuclear Facilities.
Signing an FTC signifies that all funding for the project has been identified. With a price tag of US $25 million, the Vinča project is the largest FTC to date in the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return Programme. Full funding has been pledged for the project from Serbia and international donors, including the Czech Republic, Russia, USA, IAEA, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). A breakdown of the contributions are as follows (in US $): Serbia, 11 million; USA, 7 million; Russian Federation, 3 million; Czech Republic, 1 million; NT!, 0.1 million; and IAEA; 2.9 million.
These contributions are in addition to the contribution of US $11.1 million from the European Community and US $4.9 million from NTI, which are being directed towards repackaging severely degraded spent nuclear fuel canisters, preparations for shipment, and transport to Russia.
In his comments prior to the signing the FTC, Serbian Deputy Minister Bozidar Djelic welcomed the project´s benefits, neutralizing Vinča´s vulnerability to nuclear terrorism, while also addressing serious environmental concerns.
In turn, US National Nuclear Security Administrator Thomas D´Agostino noted that the signing was important for setting this essential work in motion and as evidence of the concrete benefits for countries that cooperate in strengthening their non-proliferation efforts.
Located on the outskirts of Belgrade, the "Institute for Nuclear Sciences (Vinča)" was set up as a research centre in the former Yugoslavia in the 1950s. A civilian nuclear research reactor loaded with high-enriched uranium was housed at the site. The area was also a central radioactive waste collection and consolidation centre for the former Yugoslavia. For nearly 45 years, all the former Yugoslavia´s dangerous radioactive waste and other radioactive sources were collected. Although the reactor went offline in 1984, the radioactive waste and sources from around the country continued to accumulate. International concern about Vinča mushroomed in the 1990s after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, which led to increased international cooperation to remediate the site and reduce the radiological risk.
In 2004, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-governmental organization dedicated to non-proliferation, provided $5 million in initial seed funding to tackle the situation at Vinča. The Vinča Institute Nuclear Decommissioning (VIND) project is part of the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return Programme, a project borne out of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.
For over a decade, the IAEA has been engaged in the Vinca facility's decommissioning. The condition of the reactor´s spent fuel raised safety concerns in the mid-1990s, sparked by the Agency's fact-finding missions. Since then, the IAEA's technical cooperation with Serbia has intensified in the areas of safety, and more recently, security. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei visited the facility in early July 2009, to assess progress at Vinča.
Available at: http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2009/09/22/serbian-spent-nuclear-fuel-will-be-shipped-to-russia-9225.aspx
“The United Nations chief of disarmament is cautiously optimism that next week's series of high-level meetings on atomic weapons will push world leaders to take committed steps towards nuclear disarmament.
In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Sergio de Queiroz Duarte said the time is ripe for world leaders to strengthen the international channels that prevent nuclear threats -- their use, sabotage, and proliferation.
This is a lofty goal to be sure, but one worthy of the 21st Century, said Duarte. Today, atomic weapons, as relics of a Cold War era, are not the tools of deterrence but an embodiment of the threat itself.
"I can hardly see what use nuclear weapons would have in defending any country's security," he said. "The mere existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to every human being on this planet."
This week, key events among heads of state will take place at the UN headquarters in New York. In an historic meeting on Sept. 24, U.S. President Barak Obama will chair a special Security Council session to discuss nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation -- the first time a U.S. president has led a Council debate.
The United States, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, holds the rotating Council presidency in September.
Duarte, who has served as the high representative for disarmament affairs since 2007, said it will be only the second time for the 15-nation Council to meet at such a high level in the name of nuclear disarmament.
"I think it's very timely that this is happening on the initiative of President Obama and I am sure that these will be distinctive, important landmark discussions of the Security Council," he said.
In part, the special session will provide world leaders the opportunity to reevaluate the meaning of security without relying on atomic weapons, said Duarte.
"How do you organize (security) in the absence of nuclear weapons?" he asked. "This is why a meeting like this is in the Security Council, because it will set nations to think how they can work towards this goal."
"I hope that one of the consequences of this meeting will be that nations at the highest level start to think seriously about how they are going to work in order to rid the world of nuclear weapons," he said.
At the session, leaders are expected to discuss a U.S. drafted resolution that calls on all signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to begin talks on nuclear arms reduction and to negotiate "a treaty on general and complete disarmament."
Experts have long called the 1970 NPT as being too weak and ineffective to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, which is often wielded as instrument of partisan foreign policy.
Duarte said next year's NPT review conference will provide the opportunity to strengthen the treaty so long leaders make it work in its three pillars: non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful existence.
"If we have the treaty work on only one of these three aspects, I think we are doomed for failure," he said.
On the same day as the special Council session, foreign ministers will begin a two-day meeting in the UN basement to promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The treaty will be 13 years old on Sept. 24.
The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions on Earth, essentially taking the oxygen out of developing new nuclear weapons by forbidding testing.
The treaty has been signed by 181 nations and ratified by 149.
Foreign ministers at the CTBT conference are expected to issue a final declaration calling upon countries to ratify the treaty.
For the first time since 1999, the United States will participate in the conference, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Though it has the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world, the United States has not ratified the treaty, citing the ability of verify compliance.
In the last eight years, the U.S. has put in place 39 monitoring stations out of a total of 42, an indication that even during the Bush administration aspects of the CTBT were still being pursued.
Duarte said he was encouraged by recent signs from the United State, which has shown "increased and renewed interest" in promoting the CTBT's entry into force.
"We know that this is not an easy process but we are confident that this will prevail at the end and the United States will soon ratify the treaty," he said.
Executive Secretary of the CTBT implementing agency Tibor Toth told reporters last Friday that countries which had not ratified the treaty had to do some "soul searching."
"They have to determine whether the treaty is in their best interest or not," he said.
To eternal idealists like Duarte, it is in humanity's interest to enjoy a day free from the threat of nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a reception in the UN Delegates Dining Room last Friday, Duarte said that working towards complete disarmament is not just a "quixotic crusade" for some impractical goal; it is the only logical path to be followed.
"Nuclear disarmament is not some fanciful, utopian dream," he said. "While difficult to achieve, it offers far more than each of its possible alternatives as a concrete, practical means to avoid any future use of nuclear weapons."
The alternatives promulgated in the past have been pledges of no-first use, nuclear deterrence, and protective measures like missile defense systems. None of these approaches, said Duarte, have rid the threat or the desire to attain weapons of mass destruction.
In his speech, Duarte quoted Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who once said that he could resist anything -- except temptation. It is this constant temptation to acquire bigger and better nuclear warheads that the collective membership of the United Nations must aim to quash.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-09/21/content_12086167.htm
“Member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed Thursday to call for a Middle East free of nuclear arms.
With more countries supporting the resolution than last year, at the IAEA’s annual general conference, 103 countries voted in favour, none against. Only four abstained - including the United States and Israel. Last year, 13 countries abstained on a similar resolution.
Consensus on the resolution was reached only after an indirect reference to Iran and Syria was included in Egypt’s draft text.
A deal was reached in discussions in the last days involving Egypt, Israel, Sweden - holding the current European Union presidency - and the United States, according to diplomats.
Alluding to Iran and Syria, the final text of the adopted resolution called on all states in the Middle East to “to cooperate fully with the IAEA within the framework of their respective obligations.”
The IAEA said in a recent report that it has made no headway in confirming whether Iran conducted research related to nuclear weapons in the past.
The Vienna-based nuclear agency has also been trying in vain to get more access to Syria, in order to verify whether a site bombed by Israel in 2007 was indeed a secret nuclear reactor under construction.
“We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected here today in the discussions that we’ve had on this issue this week,” US ambassador Glyn Davies said.
Available at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2009/September/middleeast_September416.xml§ion=middleeast&col=
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