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Nuclear News - 9/24/2009
PGS Nuclear News, September 24, 2009
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Official Statements
    1. Remarks by the President to the United Nations General Assembly (excerpted), President Barack Obama, The White House (9/23/2009)
    2. Remarks by President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia After Bilateral Meeting, President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev, The White House (9/23/2009)
B.  Iran
    1. Iran to Ask for Nuclear Fuel at Talks Next Week, George Jahn, Associated Press (9/24/2009)
    2. Momentum Grows for Iran Nuclear Sanctions, Channel NewsAsia (9/24/2009)
    3. Exiled Group Says Iran Working on Nuclear Triggers, James Mackenzie, The Star (9/24/2009)
    4. Ahmadinejad Skirts Nuclear Issue in Speech, CBS News (9/23/2009)
    5. Six Powers Demand "Serious Response" from Iran, Louis Charbonneau and Arshad Mohammed, Reuters (9/23/2009)
    1. North Korean Nuke Bases Targetted - General, Agence France-Presse (9/24/2009)
    2. Japan's New PM Takes Lead in Talks Over North Korean Nuke Row, Channel NewsAsia (9/24/2009)
    3. South Korea, Japan Hold Summit on DPRK's Denuclearization, Xinhua News Agency (9/24/2009)
D.  Pakistan
    1. US Concerned Over Pakistani Nuclear Scientist's Release, Daniel Ryntjes, Channel NewsAsia (9/24/2009)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Canada Pushes Nuclear Technology in Asia, Andrew Mayeda, The Vancouver Sun  (9/23/2009)
F.  Nonproliferation
    1. U.N. Security Council Adopts Measure on Nuclear Arms, Helene Cooper and Sharon Otterman, The New York Times (9/24/2009)
    2. Obama Arms Summit Skirts Iran, North Korea Disputes, Bill Varner and Janine Zacharia, Bloomberg (9/23/2009)
    3. Britain Proposes "Global Bargain" to Curb Nuclear Proliferation, Xinhua News Agency (9/23/2009)
    4. U.S. Places Priority on Nuclear Nonproliferation Over Disarmament, The Mainichi Daily News (9/22/2009)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Brazil Defends Iran Nuclear Rights, The Intelligence Daily (9/24/2009)
    2. Fact Sheet on the United Nations Security Council Summit on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament UNSC Resolution 1887, The White House (9/24/2009)

A.  Official Statements

Remarks by President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia After Bilateral Meeting
President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev
The White House
(for personal use only)

“PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I want to welcome President Medvedev to the United States and New York. As you all know, I had the great pleasure of visiting him in Moscow, and he extended extraordinary hospitality to both myself and my family. More importantly, we got a lot of work done that I think will be bearing fruit in the months and years to come.

And I have to say publicly how much I appreciate the excellent working relationship that President Medvedev and I have been able to develop during our meetings, not only bilaterally but also at the various summits that we've attended.

We've had an excellent discussion that touched on a number of areas that our teams have been working on together over the last several months. In particular, we discussed the progress that's being made on the START treaty. And both of us are confident that we can meet our self-imposed deadline to get an agreement that substantially reduces our nuclear missiles and launchers by the end of the year.

So we spent the bulk of our time talking about Iran. As I said in my speech today, the United States is committed to a strong non-proliferation regime. And we are committed to upholding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that strikes a bargain with all countries. That bargain says that countries are able to pursue peaceful nuclear technology; that they commit not to pursuing nuclear weapons; and those nations that have nuclear weapons make commitments to start reducing their stockpiles.

As the two major nuclear superpowers, we have made a commitment that we will reduce our nuclear stockpiles and move forward on our part of the bargain. And many other countries are abiding by the international commitments and norms that have been established by the NPT.

Unfortunately, Iran has been violating too many of its international commitments. So what we've discussed is how we can move in a positive direction that resolves a potential crisis, not just in the Middle East but that can cause enormous problems to the non-proliferation regime worldwide.

I believe that Russia and the United States shares the strategic objective that Iran can pursue peaceful energy sources but that it should not pursue nuclear weapons. I believe we also share the view that this should be resolved diplomatically, and I am on record as being committed to negotiating with Iran in a serious fashion to resolve this issue.

Russia, as a major leader, I think believes that such an approach is possible, as well. But I think we also both agree that if Iran does not respond to serious negotiations and resolve this issue in a way that assures the international community that it's meeting its commitments, and is not developing nuclear weapons, then we will have to take additional actions and that sanctions, serious additional sanctions, remain a possibility.

We have an opportunity for a P5-plus-1 meeting with Iran in October. I hope that Iran seizes the opportunity to follow the path that both the United States and Russia would prefer in making a decision to live up to its international commitments, abandon nuclear weapons, and to fully join the international community in a way that I think will ultimately enhance the peace of the region and the prosperity of the Iranian people.

And once again, I just want to personally thank President Medvedev, but also the Russian people, for the leadership that they're showing on the world stage. I'm confident that when the United States and Russia work on critical issues like nuclear non-proliferation, that the world rallies behind us and that we will be able to bring about the kind of international peace and security that I think we all want.

PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV: (As translated.) I'll try to make my comment briefer because, unlike my colleague, President Barack Obama, I still have to deliver my statement from the United Nations rostrum.

I agree that indeed recently we have witnessed very positive changes in our relations, with established, constructive, friendly working relations that allow us to tackle difficult issues that not only the two countries face, but also the entire world.

Today we've discussed a range of issues -- Mr. President listed them. Indeed, we communicate on regular basis. We personally meet quarterly and we talk on the phone regularly. So those personal contacts are not an exotic prank, but rather a manifestation of good working relations.

Indeed, we discussed new START treaty. We are satisfied with the current pace of work. The teams that were tasked to work on this matter work very successfully, we're satisfied with the work. We believe that they will be able to stick to the time schedule and that in due time we will have every (inaudible).

We talked about missile defense with my colleague, President Obama. We talked that the decision that he took was reasonable and that reflected the position of the current U.S. administration on missile defense, and also takes into consideration our concerns on the missile defense which is needed for Europe and for the world. And we are ready to continue this work with our U.S. colleagues in this direction, as well as with our European colleagues, of course.

We also discussed other issues, we have devoted lots of our time to the Iranian problem my colleague, Mr. President, rightly mentioned. Our task is to create such a system of incentives that would allow Iran to resolve its fissile nuclear program, but at the same time prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. That's why we, as responsible members of international community and, indeed, two nuclear superpowers, should send great signals in that direction.

I told His Excellency, Mr. President, that we believe we need to help Iran to take a right decision. As to also have sanctions, Russia's belief is very simple, and I stated it recently. Sanctions rarely lead to productive results. But in some cases sanctions are inevitable.

Finally, it is a matter of choice. And we're prepared to continue and to work together with the U.S. administration both on Iranian peaceful program and on other matters.

Most importantly, we've learned to listen to each other once again. And that is of great importance both to the future of relations of the two countries and the two peoples.

That is why I would like to give special thanks to you, Barack, for your cooperation on these matters.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

Q What's been the response to your speech?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I've been in too many meetings. I don't know. But I'm looking for your review, Jake.

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Remarks by the President to the United Nations General Assembly (excerpted)
President Barack Obama
The White House
(for personal use only)


“First, we must stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the goal of a world without them.

This institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man's capacity to kill had to be contained. For decades, we averted disaster, even under the shadow of a superpower stand-off. But today, the threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity. If we fail to act, we will invite nuclear arms races in every region, and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine.

A fragile consensus stands in the way of this frightening outcome, and that is the basic bargain that shapes the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It says that all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; that nations with nuclear weapons have a responsibility to move toward disarmament; and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them. The next 12 months could be pivotal in determining whether this compact will be strengthened or will slowly dissolve.

America intends to keep our end of the bargain. We will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. We will move forward with ratification of the Test Ban Treaty, and work with others to bring the treaty into force so that nuclear testing is permanently prohibited. We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons. And we will call upon countries to begin negotiations in January on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons.

I will also host a summit next April that reaffirms each nation's responsibility to secure nuclear material on its territory, and to help those who can't -- because we must never allow a single nuclear device to fall into the hands of a violent extremist. And we will work to strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat nuclear smuggling and theft.

All of this must support efforts to strengthen the NPT. Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences. Let me be clear, this is not about singling out individual nations -- it is about standing up for the rights of all nations that do live up to their responsibilities. Because a world in which IAEA inspections are avoided and the United Nation's demands are ignored will leave all people less safe, and all nations less secure.

In their actions to date, the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope. We respect their rights as members of the community of nations. I've said before and I will repeat, I am committed to diplomacy that opens a path to greater prosperity and more secure peace for both nations if they live up to their obligations.

But if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East -- then they must be held accountable. The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear.


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B.  Iran

Exiled Group Says Iran Working on Nuclear Triggers
James Mackenzie
The Star
(for personal use only)

“An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Thursday it had identified two previously unknown sites where it said Iran is working on developing high-explosive detonators for use in atomic bombs.

The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said the sites were part of a unit affiliated with Iran's ministry of defence called "Research Center for Explosion and Impact", known under its Farsi language abbreviation Metfaz.

The NCRI's information could not be verified.

The accusation came as international pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear programme has built up, with six world powers demanding on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic provide a "serious response" at talks on Oct. 1 or risk further sanctions.

Iran says its programme to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel is designed for peaceful electricity generation. Western countries, citing intelligence being pursued by U.N. nuclear inspectors, suspect it is trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

Mehdi Abrishamchi, a senior NCRI official, said the centres appeared to be close to being able to produce viable detonator systems that would be vital components in any nuclear bomb.

"In my opinion, they are not very far," he told a news conference in Paris but added: "It's difficult to give any precise figures with these kind of issues."


He provided an address in eastern Tehran as the site of a command and research centre where he said computerised simulations on penetration and impact were carried out.

He also gave another location, a village called Sanjarian some 30 kilometres to the east of the Iranian capital, which the NCRI said was the venue for manufacture of components used in the detonation systems.

Abrishamchi said the information had come from the group's sources in Iran and had been gathered from "dozens of sources at different levels of the Iranian regime's various organs".

He said the NCRI had passed on the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog whose probe into intelligence allegations of past Iranian nuclear weapons research has been stonewalled by Tehran.

But the IAEA said last month the intelligence suggesting Iran linked projects to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude and revamp a missile cone in a way that would fit a nuclear warhead was compelling. It said Iran must do more to resolve suspicions than issue denials without backup evidence.

The NCRI, with thousands of followers in Europe and the United States, exposed Iranian uranium enrichment research in 2002 that had been hidden from the IAEA. Its subsequent record on reporting Iranian nuclear activity has been spotty.

It claims to have huge backing within Iran although Western analysts say its support is hard to gauge and is limited because of its collaboration with Iraq during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

The main faction within the NCRI opposition umbrella movement is the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), based in Iraq, which European states agreed this year to remove it from a list of banned terrorist groups.

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Iran to Ask for Nuclear Fuel at Talks Next Week
George Jahn
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

“Iran's president says his country will ask the six world powers at nuclear talks next week for imports of highly enriched uranium — material that the U.S. fears Tehran wants to use to arm nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies having nuclear weapons aspirations and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his country was seeking to buy uranium that is highly enriched — or near that level — to fuel a small research reactor.

He also made clear that Iran is seeking uranium that is enriched only to 20 percent — the threshold for the high-enrichment level but substantially below the 90 percent-plus grade needed for nuclear warheads.

"We are interested in purchasing it, and we'd like to offer that as an issue to expand discussions on the table for the next meeting," he told the AP on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

That request could put the U.S. and its five negotiating partners in a bind at the Oct. 1 talks in Geneva. Until now, Iran has produced only low-enriched uranium, but it could use refusal of its request as a pretext to start producing high-enriched material.

Ahead of the negotiations, the foreign ministers of the six nations — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany — were meeting Wednesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss how to get Iran to stop uranium enrichment. Russian news agencies cited an official in the Russian delegation as saying Moscow does not rule out new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

U.N. sanctions on Iran are meant to prohibit exports of sensitive nuclear material and technology. The international community is unlikely to give Iran enriched uranium closer to weapons-grade level at a time when it wants Tehran to stop enrichment.

In the enrichment process, uranium oxide is processed into uranium hexafluoride, which then is spun to varying degrees of enrichment, with low-enriched uranium used for nuclear fuel and upper-end high-enriched uranium used for nuclear weapons.

Security Council refusal to waive the sanctions could give Tehran a plausible reason to turn to its own facilities and produce high-enriched uranium.

Since Iran's program was discovered seven years ago, it has put thousands of centrifuges online to churn out enriched uranium. But the International Atomic Energy Agency says the more than a ton of enriched material it has amassed is all below the 5 percent level and well below the 20 percent highly enriched mark.

Still Iran's accumulation of well over 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of low-enriched uranium gives it more than enough material to produce enough weapons-grade uranium through further enrichment for one nuclear weapon.

Ahmadinejad, who has ruled out any compromise on enrichment at the Geneva talks, touched on the issue of enrichment levels in his comments to the AP, saying Iran was enriching only "to the grade of 3 1/2 percent ... basically for our power plants."

Such low-enriched uranium can only be used for nuclear fuel — something Iran says it will need as it expands an ambitious civilian nuclear network.

But low-enriched uranium can be processed reasonably simply into higher grades, all the way up to weapons grade, stoking international fears of Tehran's ultimate aims — and three sets of Security Council sanctions since 2006 meant to crimp Iran's program.
Tehran's small and creaky research reactor has not figured highly in international concerns. But — unlike Iran's planned reactor network that Tehran says will be fueled on enriched uranium below 5 percent — it runs on fuel enriched to just below the 20 percent, highly enriched threshold. In announcing the import request, Ahmadinejad suggested the more than 30-year-old 5-megawatt reactor, which Tehran says is needed for medical and scientific research, had used up its reserves of 19.75-level fuel, adding "we cannot produce that (level) at this moment."

"It appears that fuel is running out," said David Albright, whose Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security has closely tracked Iran's nuclear program for signs of covert proliferation. "But they can't buy any because of the Security Council sanctions, so they would need an exemption."

Such a waiver is unlikely, said a senior Western diplomat whose country is on the 35-nation IAEA board and who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

But refusal could provide Iran with a pretext to reconfigure its enrichment program at the central city of Natanz to move to the next level — producing uranium at or near the highly enriched 20 percent level.

Albright said even producing the relatively small amount of more highly enriched material that the Tehran reactor would need would be of concern because it would increase Tehran's know-how — and make producing weapons-grade material easier, should Iran choose to go that route.

"The international community is in a bind," he said. "It's not in their interest to make exemptions to the (U.N) resolutions that Iran refuses to abide by.

"At the same time, they don't want enrichment at Natanz to go above 5 percent."

Of additional concern, he said, would be the fact that the Iranians would be expected to turn any more highly enriched fuel into uranium metal, further perfecting that technology.

He said the Tehran reactor uses enriched uranium metal as fuel. But weapons-grade uranium is also turned into uranium metal — and then shaped into warhead form.

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Momentum Grows for Iran Nuclear Sanctions
Channel NewsAsia
(for personal use only)

“World powers leading talks to rein in Iran's suspect nuclear ambitions have upped the pressure on the Islamic republic, as momentum grew toward imposing new sanctions.

As Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appeared to make a major policy shift by countenancing tough new nuclear sanctions, the global powers said Wednesday they still had "serious concerns" about Tehran's nuclear programme.

Top diplomats from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - plus Germany called on Iran to meet its international obligations as they prepared for talks next week in Geneva.

"Iran's nuclear programme remains a matter of serious concern to the international community," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in reading a statement from the six powers.

"We acknowledge the recent measures taken by Iran regarding its cooperation with the IAEA and encourage Iran to cooperate further with the IAEA to resolve the remaining issues which need to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme."

He called on Iran to implement all the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council "to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme at the earliest possible date."

He said the group, known as the P5 + 1, expects "a serious response from Iran" on October 1.

Russia meanwhile moved closer than ever before to Washington's position that the Islamic Republic should face crippling sanctions unless it makes concessions on its nuclear programme in the talks.

"Sanctions rarely lead to productive results, but in some cases sanctions are inevitable," Medvedev said, after talks with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The apparent US and Russian convergence came as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the annual debate.

Obama said after the talks at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York that time was running out for Iran to open the doors of its nuclear programme to the rest of the world.

"Serious additional sanctions remain a possibility," the president said, calling on Tehran to "seize the opportunity" at the talks with the P5 + 1.

While stiffening his position, Medvedev did call on the international community to send the right signals and incentives to Iran to convince it to halt what Western powers and Israel claim is a cover to produce nuclear weapons.

"We need to help Iran to (make) the right decisions," he said.

US officials welcomed the remarks.

"We are in a different place in US-Russia relations, said Michael McFaul, the top official responsible for Russia on Obama's National Security Council, adding there was no "daylight" between the sides on the Iran issue.

"I cannot improve on what President Medvedev said. He could not have been clearer."

Taking a more conciliatory tone than his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama has asked Iran to accept an outstretched hand of friendship and engage with the United States on nuclear and other issues.

But on Wednesday, Obama urged world leaders to hold Iran - as well as North Korea - to account for their nuclear programmes, warning they threatened to take the world down a "dangerous slope."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also warned Iran against "making a tragic mistake" by assuming the international community will stand idly by while Tehran pursues what he called a military nuclear programme.

Iran says its uranium enrichment programme is for peaceful nuclear energy, denying charges it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

But patience appeared to be wearing thin as Iran steadfastly refuses to halt its uranium enrichment.

Speaking about the threat of nuclear proliferation from both Iran and North Korea, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said "we are ready to consider further sanctions" against them.

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Ahmadinejad Skirts Nuclear Issue in Speech
CBS News
(for personal use only)

“Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country is ready to shake all hands "that are honestly extended to us."

Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, he announced Iran's commitment to participate in building durable peace and security worldwide for all nations while defending the country's legitimate and legal rights.

This appeared to be a reference to Iran's nuclear program, which was not mentioned in his speech.

Ahmadinejad portrayed Iran as a defender of poor developing countries, lashing out at unbridled capitalism which he said has reached the end of the road and will suffer the same fate as Marxism. The U.S. delegation walked out.

The Iranian leader's sometimes-rambling speech also touched on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, where he said foreign forces spread "war, bloodshed, aggression, terror and intimidation"; the U.N. Security Council, which he said needs to be reformed; and the recent "glorious and fully democratic election" in Iran.

Ahmadinejad did not specifically mention the issue of the country's nuclear program. Tehran has recently ratcheted down its rhetoric on the nuclear issue, echoing President Barack Obama's call for eliminating nuclear weapons, but it has shown no sign of ending what the U.S. considers a clandestine effort to develop a nuclear weapon.

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, Obama stuck to his two-pronged approach to Iran - acknowledging its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy while warning of unspecified penalties if it veers onto the weapons path.

"We must insist that the future not belong to fear," he said.

Meanwhile, with a diplomatic wink and nod, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev opened the door Wednesday to backing potential sanctions against Iran as a reward to President Barack Obama's decision to scale back a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe.

While U.S. and Russian officials denied a flat-out quid pro quo, Medvedev said Obama's pivot on the missile program long loathed by Moscow "deserves a positive response." Obama himself has said his missile decision created Russian good will.

"We believe we need to help Iran to take a right decision," Medvedev said as the two leaders met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The prospect of a unified U.S.-Russian stance on new sanctions would put Iran under added pressure to yield some ground on its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad has taken a softer tone on many matters since arriving in New York for the U.N. meetings, emphasizing his interest in improving relations with the United States and expressing an openness to include nuclear matters on the negotiations agenda.

He has given no sign, however, that his country is willing to bargain away its nuclear program, which he insists is for peaceful purposes only.

Obama's chief Russia adviser, Mike McFaul, told reporters after the meeting with Medvedev that there was no deal with Moscow on missile defense. But, pressed further, he said: "Is it the case that it changes the climate? That's true, of course. But it's not cause-and-effect."

A member of the Russian delegation, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Russians, said Moscow's final position on the question of imposing further sanctions would be determined, to a large extent, by Medvedev's consultations here.

The U.S. and Russia are among six countries that will hold talks in Europe next week with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Obama wants to reserve the possibility of pursuing tougher sanctions if those meetings lead to no restraint by Iran in the weeks ahead. And yet Russia, which has strong economic ties with Tehran, has stood in the way of stronger action against Iran in the past.

In remarks to reporters with Medvedev at his side, Obama said both agree that negotiations with Iran are still the best approach.

"We also both agree that if Iran does not respond to serious negotiations and resolve this issue in a way that assures the international community that it's meeting its commitments, and is not developing nuclear weapons, then we will have to take additional actions and that sanctions, serious additional sanctions, remain a possibility," Obama said.

Medvedev told reporters that the intent is to move Iran in the right direction and to ensure that it does not obtain nuclear weapons.

"Sanctions rarely lead to productive results but in some cases are inevitable," he said through an interpreter.

Medvedev also mentioned that his government welcomed Obama's decision last week to scrap a Bush administration plan for a missile defense system to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic. He gave no indication that his remark about the sanctions on Iran was a diplomatic payoff for Obama's missile defense move.

The public rhetoric Wednesday on Iran's nuclear program suggested little improvement in the long-shot outlook for a diplomatic breakthrough next week when the U.S. will, for the first time, fully participate in European-led talks with Iran.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was meeting Wednesday with her counterparts from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to prepare for the Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva.

In his speech Obama did not mention the Geneva talks, which fulfill a campaign pledge to engage adversaries. He framed the Iran issue as central to his broader push to strengthen international limits on the spread of nuclear weapons.

Obama singled both Iran and North Korea, which has made more progress than Iran in becoming a nuclear power, as countries that now are at a crossroads.

"Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences," Obama said.

The risk for Obama, in the case of Iran, is that the government will use the new talks to stall for time even as international patience wears thin. That is essentially what has happened with North Korea, which agreed at one stage to dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities but then balked and has since defied the will of the U.N. by conducting underground nuclear tests and test-launching missiles.

Obama came into office promising a more vigorous diplomatic effort with Iran, which also stands accused by the U.S. of supporting international terrorism, undermining Mideast peace efforts and secretly supplying arms to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama has not ruled out the eventual use of military force to stop Iran, but his focus now is on diplomacy.

In the meantime, Iran is expected to continue expanding its capacity for enriching uranium, the building block of a nuclear weapon. Still, Ahmadinejad said Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons and favors a push for global nuclear disarmament.

"We are not pursuing a nuclear weapons program," he said in the AP interview Tuesday night at his New York hotel.

The Iranian leader insisted that it is the United States that bears the greatest burden in nuclear disarmament. The U.S., he noted, possesses thousands of weapons, is the only country in history to have used them in war and refuses to promise never to initiate another nuclear attack.

Iran, he said, is "the wrong address" for delivering international pressure to pull back.

Obama, however, indicated that Iran needs to clarify its intentions and the nature of its nuclear work by cooperating more fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. agency that is supposed to monitor nuclear programs to ensure they are not used to make weapons.

Countries that refuse such cooperation make the rest of the world less safe, Obama said.

"In their actions to date, the governments of North Korea and Iran threaten to take us down this dangerous slope," he said.

Diplomacy remains the preferred path to changing that direction, he added.

"But if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East - then they must be held accountable," he said.

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Six Powers Demand "Serious Response" from Iran
Louis Charbonneau and Arshad Mohammed
(for personal use only)

“Six major powers have agreed that Iran must give a "serious response" at October 1 talks in Geneva on its disputed nuclear program, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Wednesday.

"We expect a serious response from Iran and will decide, in the context of our dual track approach, as a result of the meeting, on our next steps," Miliband said, reading a statement agreed on by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

He added the six powers also agreed that Iran should "cooperate further with the IAEA to resolve the remaining issues which need to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, in Vienna has been urging Iran to explain what it has said are credible Western intelligence reports suggesting Tehran has conducted research into building a nuclear warhead. Iran says the intelligence is fabricated.

Senior officials from the six powers last met with an Iranian delegation in July 2008 to discuss their offer of economic and political incentives for Tehran in exchange for a suspension of all of Iran's sensitive nuclear activities.

Iran has yet to respond to the offer but has ruled out halting its nuclear program, which it says is intended solely for the generation of electricity. Western powers fear Tehran is amassing the capability to build atomic weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Iran denies.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear after the meeting that the United States and its allies were serious about the "dual-track approach" with Iran -- pursuing talks with Iran while considering further U.N. sanctions if Tehran ignores U.N. demands that it freeze its enrichment program.

"No one should underestimate our intention to follow through on either or both of these tracks," she told reporters. "It depends on Iran's response."

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Japan's New PM Takes Lead in Talks Over North Korean Nuke Row
Channel NewsAsia
(for personal use only)

“Japan's new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Wednesday took the lead in talks among his Asian-Pacific partners to stand firm against North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programmes, officials said.

"Harmonisation is necessary for resolving the issue," Hatoyama told Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on the sidelines of this year's United Nations General Assembly, according to a Japanese government official.

"But sometimes we need to impose sanctions," said Hatoyama, who took office a week ago, ending more than half a century of nearly unbroken rule by a conservative party in Japan.

Rudd backed Hatoyama's remarks, the government official said, adding the two leaders agreed to work together to monitor other countries carrying out UN economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear tests.

"We have to take stern action, including implementation of UN Security Council resolutions," Hatoyama told reporters following his first meeting with US President Barack Obama.

In a separate meeting, Hatoyama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak agreed to confirm "unshakable relations" among Japan, South Korea and the United States over the North Korean provocation.

Hatoyama and Lee agreed they "will never tolerate North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development, which is a threat to peace and stability of not only East Asia but the world," the official said.

Earlier in the day, Hatoyama also called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to enhance cooperation with Moscow to resolve the nuclear row, the Japanese official said.

Medvedev, whose country has traditionally maintained cozy ties with Pyongyang, stopped short of agreeing to Hatoyama's remarks, only saying: "I would like to deepen discussions on the issue in various occasions."

North Korea quit six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear programme - which bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States - in April after the United Nations censured its long-range rocket test.

Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan has vowed to maintain the country's hardline stance against North Korea, which is reviled by many Japanese due to its abductions of Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s to train as spies.

However, Hatoyama has reached out to Asia and some lawmakers in his party have sought greater emphasis on starting dialogue with the North. The regime's number two, Kim Yong-Nam, recently voiced hope for "fruitful relations" with the new government.

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North Korean Nuke Bases Targetted - General
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

“South Korea could mount swift and precise attacks on North Korea's nuclear bases should war break out on the peninsula, Seoul's incoming top military officer said today.

General Lee Sang-Eui, named as next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Seoul had a list of major targets its forces would strike first should a conflict erupt.

Nuclear weaponry would pose the greatest threat, he told a parliamentary confirmation hearing, pledging to "mobilise all means available to precisely and swiftly strike'' such bases.

New Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young told his own confirmation hearing last week that Seoul knew where the North was storing its nuclear arsenal.

Mr Kim said Seoul could strike the sites through quick consultations with Washington if North Korea tried to fire a nuclear weapon at the South.

General Lee, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said the North was believed to have up to 40kg of plutonium, enough to build at least six nuclear bombs.

After months of hostility including missile and nuclear tests, Pyongyang began making peace noises to Washington and Seoul in August.

South Korean officials have expressed scepticism about the overtures, saying the hardline communist state has not changed its fundamental attitude.

Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan accused the North last week of developing nuclear weapons to launch an attack on the South and "communise'' the peninsula.

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South Korea, Japan Hold Summit on DPRK's Denuclearization
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

“South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. meetings, discussing bilateral ties and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea's presidential office said Thursday.

The bilateral talks came on the sidelines of the U.N. meetings on Wednesday (local time), during which the two leaders shared views on ways to tackle the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear issue, the presidential office said.

According to the presidential office, the two leaders also agreed that it was in need to implement U.N. Security Council sanctions and to bring the DPRK to the six-party talks, vowing continuous bilateral cooperation on the matter.

Lee and Hatoyama also jointly called for international cooperation to make the DPRK give up on its nuclear attempts, stressing that a 'complete' withdrawal is necessary.

"It is better to resolve the issue through dialogue, but we need to keep pressure on the North (DPRK) through international cooperation if necessary," Hatoyama was quoted as saying by Lee Dong-kwan, Seoul's top secretary for public relations.

The meeting came amid the DPRK's recent conciliatory gestures towards the United States and the outer world, which, however, South Korea said to be largely prompted by the U.N. sanctions.

The restrictive measures were placed on the DPRK shortly after its second nuclear test in May, which they conducted one month after it announced to quit the six-party denuclearization talks.

The two leaders, in the meantime, exchanged views on enhancing bilateral ties, with the Japanese prime minister saying his party was "courageous enough" to "look straight in the face of history."

Lee and Hatoyama also promised to closely work on global issues, such as green growth and climate change.

The bilateral summit, first to be held since Hatoyama came into office, followed Lee's meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier Wednesday, during which the leaders also discussed the DPRK's nuclear issues and two-way relationships.

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D.  Pakistan

US Concerned Over Pakistani Nuclear Scientist's Release
Daniel Ryntjes
Channel NewsAsia
(for personal use only)

“The release of the Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan from prison has prompted concern from the United States that he might again begin trading nuclear know-how and technology.

Khan was first questioned by Pakistani authorities after making deals with countries like North Korea, Libya, China and Iran.

Now allegations have surfaced that the Pakistani government sanctioned his work.

Khan was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 for trading nuclear secrets and technology to countries like North Korea and Iran.

In the UK's Sunday Times, Washington-based analyst and journalist Simon Henderson has published sections of a letter written by Khan prior to his arrest.

"The letter is a statement to his wife, of what he did and under who's instructions did he do it. And it is quite clear that everything that he did was with the approval and indeed at the instruction of successive Pakistani governments," said Henderson.

Leonard Spector, Washington Director of the Monterey Institute, Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, said this new evidence needed to be interpreted in context.

"One can understand why Khan might have written a letter like that. In the hopes of maybe protecting himself, something that he could use against the Pakistani government if they came after him," he said.

Henderson accused the Bush administration of turning a blind eye to the truth of Pakistani government involvement because they needed cooperation from Pakistan in the post 9-11 period.

The current administration says it is still concerned about Khan.

Ian Kelly, State Department Spokesman, said: "We believe he remains a risk for proliferation. For that reason we stay in close contact with Pakistani authorities to ensure that there is no proliferation risk from him or from any other source from within Pakistan."

Henderson said assumptions about Khan's story were incorrect.

"The narrative that everyone accepts at the moment, which was that he was a rogue agent, that he was doing it for money, personal greed and Pakistan has now drawn a line under this. That narrative needs to be re-worked, adjusted, corrected," he said.

Spector suggested the real story was somewhere in between Pakistani government involvement and crude self-interest.

"I think as time went on, it became a little more of a business, certainly in the Libyan case, maybe less so in the North Korean case. But I think along the way, whether it was done at the behest of the government or done as a freelance operation, one imagines that Khan made some money from this. I mean he really did live fairly lavishly," he said.

The US State Department hasn't yet addressed the notion of Pakistani government involvement or what they knew or what they now know.

These are certainly sensitive questions for a US administration that insists that it's working closely with Pakistan to ensure that there's no further proliferation of any nuclear technology, information or hardware.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Canada Pushes Nuclear Technology in Asia
Andrew Mayeda
The Vancouver Sun
(for personal use only)

“Trade Minister Stockwell Day will sign a treaty with Kazakhstan on Thursday that will clear Canada to export nuclear technology to the ex-Soviet republic, part of a push by the government to drum up business for Canada's nuclear industry in Central Asia and India.

Day wrapped up a trip to Ukraine on Wednesday during which he launched free-trade talks with that country and promoted the Candu nuclear-reactor technology developed by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

"We have a very clear indication that they want to see Candus as part of their nuclear energy future," Day told Canwest News Service in an interview from Kyiv.

After signing the nuclear co-operation agreement in Kazakhstan, Day will travel to India to open a trade office in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat state. Day said the government is also putting the finishing touches on a nuclear co-operation agreement with India and hopes to have a deal done in as little as a month.

"It's just a matter of getting the final i's dotted and t's crossed," he said.

In addition to opening doors for AECL, the trade mission could generate opportunities for Canadian uranium producers such as Saskatchewan-based Cameco.

But critics warn that nuclear supplies sold to countries such as Kazakhstan could end up in the wrong hands and they argue that selling nuclear technology to India, which isn't party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, sends the wrong message about Canada's stance on nuclear weapons.

Michael Byers, Canada research chair in international law and politics at the University of British Columbia, said selling nuclear technology to Kazakhstan presents a "huge proliferation risk."

Some non-proliferation experts have raised concerns that radioactive material could be smuggled out of Kazakhstan and into the shadowy trade routes through nearby Afghanistan. Under President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has been plagued by accusations of corruption and human-rights abuses.

"If the nightmare scenario is al-Qaida acquiring nuclear weapons or a dirty bomb, then selling nuclear technology to Kazakhstan is the last thing we should want to do," said Byers.

However, Day noted that other developed countries that compete with Canada to export nuclear technology, including the United States and France, have signed similar deals with Kazakhstan. "By us not signing, AECL would clearly be left out of the loop," the minister said.

A group of nuclear suppliers that includes the U.S., France, Russia and Canada agreed last year to waive restrictions on purchasing civilian nuclear technology that had been imposed on India for its refusal to commit to non-proliferation. However, controversy has surrounded Canada's efforts to break into the nuclear market in India, which bought Canadian reactor technology for civilian use, then used it to develop nuclear weapons in the 1970s.

"If the minister is in India flogging nuclear technology, it's essentially another step toward accepting that the (non-proliferation) regime doesn't apply," said Byers.

Regardless, AECL faces an uphill battle convincing foreign countries to buy its reactor gear, said John Cadham, a doctoral research fellow at Carleton University in Ottawa who has authored a forthcoming study on the Canadian nuclear industry. This summer, the Ontario government suspended plans to build a new nuclear power plant after expressing concerns about the future of AECL's reactor business, which the federal government has put up for sale.

"If AECL can't be successful selling new reactor technology in Ontario, how's it reasonably going to expect to be successful selling internationally?" he said.

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F.  Nonproliferation

U.N. Security Council Adopts Measure on Nuclear Arms
Helene Cooper and Sharon Otterman
The New York Times
(for personal use only)

“The United Nations Security Council, with President Obama acting as chairman, unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday morning aimed at increasing deterrents for withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and decreasing the likelihood that a civilian nuclear program can be diverted toward the development of advanced weapons.

The resolution is aimed at ensuring full compliance with international arms agreements from countries like North Korea and Iran, which have either banned inspectors or severely limited their access. Mr. Obama said, though, that the resolution was not about singling out nations, but about ensuring that international agreements have real-world heft. “We must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced,” he said.

The Obama administration hailed the resolution as a significant step forward. But officials said it was not binding, and would become so only if the Security Council required countries to take other steps, including making their nuclear exports subject to additional restrictions. Many countries have balked at that requirement, an indication of how difficult it may prove to toughen the treaty itself when it is up for review next year.

In their remarks after the resolution’s passage, both Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France expressed concern that the actions being taken against Iran and North Korea were not enough.

Mr. Brown called on the council to consider “far tougher sanctions” against Iran.

Mr. Sarkozy added, “What I believe is that if we have the courage to affirm and impose sanctions on those who violate resolutions of the Security Council, we will be lending credibility to our commitment to a world with fewer nuclear weapons and ultimately with no nuclear weapons.”

Thursday’s special session was only the fifth time that the Security Council had met at the summit level since the United Nations was founded in 1945, the White House said, and Mr. Obama was the first American president to preside over such a session.

The meeting, which was broadcast live, took place a day after Mr. Obama told leaders in a sweeping address to the General Assembly that the United States intended to begin a new era of engagement with the world.

As he opened the Security Council session on Thursday, he spoke of his vision of “a world without nuclear weapons,” a vision that the resolution reflected. The adopted text, Resolution 1887, “revitalized” the Security Council’s commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons, “urging” all states to work toward the establishment of effective measures of nuclear arms reductions and disarmament. It also reaffirmed that nuclear proliferation was a threat to international peace and security, the White House said in a fact sheet.

“We harbor no illusions about the difficulty” of achieving such a world, Mr. Obama said, “but there will also be days like today that push us forward — days that tell a different story.”

Along with heads of state, the room was filled with dignitaries, including the former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, the media mogul Ted Turner and Queen Noor of Jordan, all of whom have been active in disarmament efforts. But there was no sign of the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who had made a marathon General Assembly speech on Wednesday. The seat that was supposed to be occupied by Libya, one of the 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council, was filled by a Libyan diplomat.

The resolution, Mr. Obama said, endorses a global effort to help nations lock down all nuclear material in the next four years. It reduces the likelihood that nations will be able to turn a civilian nuclear program into a military one, in part by urging countries to put conditions on nuclear exports that would enable international inspectors to continue monitoring them even in a country that withdrew from the nonproliferation pact. That is a rare occurrence, but North Korea declared it was withdrawing in 2003, and inspectors were ejected.

Each member of the Security Council expressed its support for the resolution as a step toward a safer world.

Bringing increased sanctions against Iran as part of an international effort to prevent the development of nuclear weapons there will probably prove thornier, though the White House officials were greatly encouraged, they said, by progress made on the issue with Russia on Wednesday. Direct discussions about Iranian sanctions were not on the agenda at the Security Council meeting. A meeting involving Iran, the United States, and other major world powers is scheduled for Oct. 1.

Mr. Obama also met Wednesday afternoon with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia for the first time since Mr. Obama decided to replace a missile defense program in Eastern Europe with a version that Moscow perceived as less threatening. Although White House officials were loath to acknowledge any quid pro quo publicly, Mr. Medvedev signaled for the first time that Russia would be amenable to longstanding American requests to toughen sanctions against Iran significantly if, as expected, nuclear talks scheduled for next month failed to make progress.

“I told His Excellency Mr. President that we believe we need to help Iran to take a right decision,” Mr. Medvedev said, adding that “sanctions rarely lead to productive results, but in some cases, sanctions are inevitable.”

Persuading China to agree to toughen sanctions will be the Obama administration’s next hurdle. A Chinese government spokeswoman reiterated Thursday China’s long-standing opposition to increased sanctions against Iran, and as one of the Security Council’s five permanent members, China has veto power over decisions by the body. But Beijing has made some exceptions to its general antipathy toward sanctions in the past, including agreeing to a package of financial and trade restrictions against North Korea in June.

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Britain Proposes "Global Bargain" to Curb Nuclear Proliferation
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

“British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed on Wednesday "a grand global bargain" between nuclear weapon and non nuclear weapons states, saying such an effort would help curb nuclear proliferation.

Brown made the announcement while addressing world leaders attending the general debate of the UN General Assembly.

He said that with increasing nuclear-armed powers, "the risk is not just state aggression, but the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists."

"We are at a moment of danger when decades of preventing proliferation could be overturned by damaging rise in proliferation," he said.

"My proposal is a grand global bargain between nuclear weapon and non nuclear weapons states," he said.

Such a proposal will contain three elements, he said.

"First, let there by no ambiguity: Iran and North Korea must know that the world will be even tougher on proliferation and we are ready to consider further sanctions," Brown said.

"Britain will insist that the onus on non nuclear states is that in future it is for them to prove they are not developing nuclear weapons," he said.

Second, Britain will offer civil nuclear power to non nuclear states ready to renounce any plans for nuclear weapons, and third, all nuclear weapons states must play their part in reducing nuclear weapons as part of an agreement by non nuclear states to renounce them, he noted.

Brown added that in line with maintaining "nuclear deterrent," he has asked the national security committee to report on the potential future reduction of Britain's nuclear weapon submarines from four to three.

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Obama Arms Summit Skirts Iran, North Korea Disputes
Bill Varner and Janine Zacharia
(for personal use only)

“President Barack Obama will have Chinese and Russian support at the United Nations tomorrow for his bid to put the world body on record against the spread of nuclear weapons. That doesn’t mean those nations are ready to get tough with Iran or North Korea.
Obama, as the first U.S. president to preside over a UN Security Council meeting, will call for a vote on a draft resolution to curb the proliferation and testing of nuclear arms and to safeguard fissile materials. On those goals, he likely will have the unanimous backing of leaders gathered in New York, according to interviews with Security Council diplomats.

The resolution nonetheless avoids mentioning Iran and North Korea by name, reflecting disagreement among the U.S., China and Russia over how to deal with countries that are shirking their nuclear obligations. North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and has tested nuclear devices. Iran is pursuing elements of a possible nuclear-weapons program while ignoring international demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

“At a time when those two cases are really at the nub of why we are biting fingernails about the future of these weapons, you probably want to err on the side of getting specific” in a UN resolution, said Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. “If we let China and Russia dictate what the response will be, the game is over.”

Signal From Obama

Obama orchestrated the meeting during the opening session of the UN General Assembly to signal that reducing nuclear weapons worldwide is a priority, and to reverse some of President George W. Bush’s policies. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the accord might give a “beneficial impetus” to talks with China and Russia on how to halt Iranian and North Korean nuclear pursuits.

Chinese and Russian envoys who agreed to the resolution cautioned against such an expectation. They said the summit, which comes amid a U.S. effort to bring Iran into talks and to resume diplomacy with North Korea, doesn’t portend agreement on tightening pressure on either.

Chinese Deputy Ambassador Liu Zhenmin said his government insisted that the Security Council summit “should be confined to the overall review of nonproliferation issues.” The starting point was U.S. acquiescence that “no country-specific situations should be mentioned,” he said.

Russia, which is building a nuclear reactor for Iran and sells the country weapons, opposes tougher sanctions. China has long been cold to sanctions, saying it doesn’t want to interfere in another country’s affairs.

China-Iran Ties

China is helping Iran develop a major natural gas field, and Iran is one of China’s biggest oil suppliers.

The U.S. will try to align positions with China and Russia in a separate New York meeting today to prepare for Oct. 1 talks in Geneva between the Iranian government and the five permanent members of the Security Council, along with Germany.

The governments will confer on “what a reasonable degree of progress to expect would be,” John Sawers, Britain’s UN ambassador, said.

Iran has said the October meeting won’t include negotiations over its atomic work, and its UN ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, criticized the U.S. resolution’s affirmation of existing Security Council sanctions imposed on the Iranian nuclear and missile programs.

The U.S. has expressed concern at the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran may be close to having enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb, should its leadership decide to take that step. That assessment raises the possibility of tougher action against Iran should diplomacy fail.

‘Inexplicable’ Step

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said in an interview that discussions about new sanctions would be “inexplicable, and might even be counterproductive.”

Iran is addressing international concerns, Churkin said. The Russian diplomat forecast “difficult conversations” at the October meeting, the first involving Iran and European powers at which the U.S. will do more than listen.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sept. 18 the U.S. would still join the meeting after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again expressed doubts about the Holocaust, to “see what, if any, changes in approach, attitude, actions the Iranians are willing to entertain.”

Even without demonstrable progress on Iran this week, nuclear experts said the U.S. will move closer to positions Bush backed away from, including support for U.S. Senate ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Building Support

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based policy group, called Obama’s resolution the “kind of approach that can build support for the global nonproliferation system.” U.S. participation in a meeting to promote the test-ban treaty, which hasn’t entered into force, is a “tangible demonstration of the administration’s seriousness.”

The U.S. is also trying to strengthen the 1968 Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty by including a clause in the UN resolution that empowers nuclear exporters to get equipment back from a country that exits the accord, according to Scott Sagan, a nonproliferation expert at Stanford University in California.

“There’s nothing in the treaty that says you have to return anything,” Sagan said. “So we have the case of North Korea, which did withdraw, keeping material and technology they acquired while they were members of the treaty.”

Obama Speech

Obama, in a speech before the UN General Assembly today, outlined steps the U.S. was taking toward disarmament and warned that the “threat of proliferation is growing in scope and complexity.”

“If we fail to act, we will invite nuclear-arms races in every region and the prospect of wars and acts of terror on a scale that we can hardly imagine,” Obama said.

He described the “fragile consensus” that is holding together the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which says all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy and that nations without nuclear weapons shouldn’t seek them.

“The next 12 months could be pivotal in determining whether this compact will be strengthened or will slowly dissolve,” Obama said.

Obama said Iran and North Korea’s nuclear activities, without regard for UN demands, was taking the world down a “dangerous slope.” While holding out the prospect of engagement if Iran and North Korea “live up to their obligations,” Obama warned of consequences for non- cooperation.

“If the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards, if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people, if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East, then they must be held accountable,” Obama said.

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U.S. Places Priority on Nuclear Nonproliferation Over Disarmament
The Mainichi Daily News
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“Subtle differences remain between Japan and the United States over nuclear disarmament even though the overall gap on the issue is narrowing.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to dispatch a representative to the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was boycotted by the previous administration of President George W. Bush.

Moreover, Washington has unofficially notified Tokyo that it will support a draft of a U.N. General Assembly resolution on nuclear disarmament submitted by Japan, which the Bush administration had opposed.

Japan and the United States are now prepared to cooperate in multilateral talks on nuclear disarmament.

Nevertheless, subtle differences persist over policy priorities. While Japan attaches equal importance to both nuclear arms reductions and non-proliferation, the United States places priority on non-proliferation over nuclear arms reductions.

"The United States is pursuing nuclear arms reductions in order to achieve non-proliferation," a U.N. source explains.

The nuclear nonproliferation regime based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is on the verge of collapsing following North Korea's nuclear test.

Amid concern that terrorists may obtain nuclear weapons and nuclear substances since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Washington has deemed that it has no choice but to achieve a nuclear-free world in order to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. It thus made nuclear non-proliferation a realistic policy goal to protect its own national interests.

Japan has relied on the U.S.-led nuclear umbrella while working on nuclear arms reductions and non-proliferation in multilateral diplomacy, and has not regarded nuclear disarmament as a realistic policy goal.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada are required to cautiously ascertain how Obama's pursuant of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms reductions will affect bilateral relations between Japan and the United States.

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G.  Links of Interest

Brazil Defends Iran Nuclear Rights
The Intelligence Daily
(for personal use only)

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Fact Sheet on the United Nations Security Council Summit on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament UNSC Resolution 1887
The White House
(for personal use only)

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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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