1. Crisis Over Iran Atom Work May Peak in 2011: Expert
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The dispute over Iran's nuclear programme risks turning into an all-out crisis next year unless Tehran shows seriousness in negotiations expected to resume next month with world powers, an expert on nuclear diplomacy said.
Iran could face further U.N. sanctions and its mounting uranium stockpile could prompt a military strike by arch-foe Israel, Mark Fitzpatrick, an Iran watcher at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.
"I think we could be in an out and out crisis in a year's time," Fitzpatrick said.
Though no firm dates have been given, Iran's negotiators are expected to meet with representatives of the five members of the Security Council and Germany -- the so-called P5+1 -- in Vienna next month, Fitzpatrick said.
The former U.S. diplomat said he believed more foot-dragging by Iran on discussing curbs on its nuclear programme will lead to fresh moves to impose additional U.N. economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Israel could launch a military strike even before Tehran makes a decisive step toward enriching uranium to weapons grade. Military action by Israel or the United States would raise the specter of wider conflict in the Middle East.
"My worry is that Iran won't overtly cross the line, but that it will miscalculate how close it can get before it crosses an Israeli tripwire," said Fitzpatrick.
"And I'm not sure Iran knows where Israel's tripwires are. I'm not sure Israel knows where its tripwires are," he said.
Iran has diced with those risks for years, but the margins for error are becoming dangerously fine, he said.
Iran's successful tests of the Sajjil, a solid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000 km, that can be fired from deep inside Iranian territory at targets in Israel, or potentially regional rival Saudi Arabia, have heightened a sense of growing unease.
Picking his words carefully to avoid assuming that Iran had already made up its mind to arm the Sajjil with a nuclear payload, Fitzpatrick said such missiles were regarded as only strategically important for delivering nuclear weapons.
"Iran's the only country that has developed these kind of missiles with a range of 2,000 km or more that hasn't developed nuclear weapons at the same time. So that's another reason why there's concern about Iran's intention."
Israel has not declared itself a nuclear weapons state but is assumed to be one.
Fitzpatrick reckons the Jewish state has around 200 nuclear weapons, and should eventually submit to limits in order to secure peace in the wider Middle East. But he said Israel's arsenal shouldn't be used to argue for Iran's right to violate international accords by building nuclear weapons capability.
Iran has enough low enriched uranium (LEU) to make two nuclear weapons, if it decided to enrich to weapons grade, according to western nuclear analysts. By next year it could make as many as five.
Fitzpatrick expected Iran to want to try to make world powers revive an already rejected offer, brokered with Turkey and Brazil in May, to swap some 1,200 kg of its stockpile of LEU for fuel rods for use in Tehran's Medical Research Reactor.
When it was first proposed a year ago that would have represented 75 percent of Iran's stockpile, but now it amounts to about 40 percent devaluing the suggested swap as a confidence building measure.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69H4UG20101018
2. Iran 'Ready to Discuss Fuel Swap' in Nuclear Talks
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Iran said on Monday it is ready to discuss the issue of exchanging atomic fuel in upcoming talks with world powers about its overall nuclear programme, ISNA news agency reported.
"We are ready to hold simultaneous talks with the 5+1 and the Vienna group about the fuel swap," ISNA quoted Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
Iran and the 5+1 -- the permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- are to hold talks on Tehran's overall nuclear programme on November 15-18.
The talks, which have been deadlocked since October 2009, are aimed at addressing Western suspicions Iran is masking a weapons drive under what the Islamic republic says is a purely civilian atomic programme.
Iran is engaged in separate negotiations with the Vienna group comprising France, Russia, the United States and the UN atomic watchdog over the issue of procuring nuclear fuel for a Tehran-based research reactor.
Those talks have also been blocked since the middle of last October after the two groups failed to reach an agreement over the initial proposal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The UN watchdog's proposal envisaged Iran sending 1,200 kilogrammes of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for conversion into the fuel rods required for the Tehran reactor.
In May, Iran responded by its own counter-proposal brokered by Turkey and Brazil, which was cold-shouldered by the West which later backed new UN sanctions against Iran on June 9.
Iran has in the past favoured holding talks over the fuel swap separately and not during negotiations on its overall nuclear programme.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jZwXfzYxE-s5JBKSDB_-hnEr6dVQ?docId=CNG.aec298041bd87d0d6ae2ef88e13bcbcd.7a1
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stresses the importance of observing the Islamic Republic's previous preconditions for holding talks with the P5+1.
"They should determine whether they are committed to regulations of the (International Atomic Energy) Agency (IAEA)," said Ahmadinejad in an address to the people of the northwestern Iranian province of Ardebil on Sunday.
The Iranian chief executive added that the P5+1 countries should announce whether their objectives of talks are friendship and cooperation with Iran or enmity towards the Islamic Republic.
"You should say whether you are following rational and regulations in talks or intend to issue sanctions," he said.
President Ahmadinejad also urged the P5+1 countries to announce their views about Israel's nuclear bombs.
He said the group's silence on the issue means it is not committed to IAEA regulations and supports Israel's nuclear missiles, while it does not follow wisdom and friendship in talks.
"Iran will hold talks in another way with those who spoke to the country with hostility," the chief executive reiterated.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/147064.html
Following the proposal of major powers for nuclear talks in November, a US senior diplomat says the 'ball is in Iran's court' and the West awaits Tehran's response.
"In fact, as was announced, Catherine Ashton of the EU has extended an invitation for Iran to meet next month in what we hope will be serious discussions on Iran's nuclear program,” US State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said on Saturday.
On Thursday, Catherine Ashton proposed three-day talks over Tehran's nuclear program in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna, expressing hope that Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili would “respond positively” to the offer.
"[Ashton] looks forward to constructively engaging with Iran next month," her spokesperson said.
Crowley added that as US President Barack Obama had announced earlier, the door to diplomacy is still open for Iran, and the West is "awaiting Iran's response," The Hindu reported.
"The door has been open to Iran for some time, and really - literally, the ball is in Iran's court," Crowley said. "We hope they'll respond to Catherine Ashton and hope we can begin a sustained dialogue with Iran."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Friday welcomed Ashton's offer, saying that as announced earlier, "October or November… is a good time for the re-establishment of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 -- China, France, Russia, the UK and the US plus Germany-- from Tehran's perspective."
Although Iran has announced its readiness to resume talks on its nuclear program, it has also stressed that any negotiations must be conducted within the framework of the Tehran nuclear declaration.
Iran issued a nuclear declaration with Turkey and Brazil based on which Tehran agreed to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel.
The US and its allies used their influence on the UN Security Council to impose the fourth round of sanctions against Iran over allegations that Tehran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, in its several reports, has also verified the country's non-diversion from peaceful purposes.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/146962.html
A spokesman for the foreign ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Saturday the DPRK was ready for resumption of the six-party talks, official news agency KCNA reported.
In answering a question raised by the KCNA about a recent DPRK Foreign Ministry delegation visit to China, the spokesman said the DPRK was ready for the resumption of the denuclearization talks but would not act hastily. It would make ceaseless patient efforts "now that the U.S. and some other participating countries are not ready for them".
The spokesman said the delegation had "an exhaustive and candid discussion on DPRK-China relations, the resumption of the six-party talks and the regional situation".
The DPRK remained unchanged in its will to "implement the Sept. 19 joint statement adopted at the six-party talks for denuclearizing the whole Korean Peninsula", the spokesman said.
The DPRK delegation, headed by First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan, visited China on Oct. 12-16.
The statement, which was approved at the fourth round of the six-party talks held in Beijing on Sept. 19, 2005, called for further talks to form a permanent peace system on the Korean Peninsula.
The six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, South Korea, Russia and Japan, are a multilateral dialogue mechanism brokered by the Chinese government in an effort to seek a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
One of the stumbling blocks of the talks is the verification issue. The U.S. side claims that inspectors, according to the deal reached with the DPRK, could take samples away from the DPRK's nuclear facilities, but the DPRK insists that it has never agreed.
The DPRK announced a pullout from the six-party talks in response to a U.N. decision to apply sanctions in 2009 following rocket tests by the DPRK, leaving the future of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula shrouded in uncertainty since.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-10/16/c_13560650.htm
2. North Korea Blasts Naval Drill as 'Declaration of War'
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North Korea on Saturday blasted South Korea for hosting a multi-national naval drill aimed at preventing the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, calling it an "open declaration of war".
South Korea for the first time played a full part in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) on Thursday, with warships and aircraft from four countries staging an exercise off the southern port of Busan.
The reclusive North, where leader Kim Jong-Il is paving the way for his son Kim Jong-Un to succeed him, is nuclear-armed.
"The (South Korean) puppet regime revealed its criminal plot to ruin the hard-won atmosphere for dialogue and peace and to drive inter-Korean ties to the edge of a war by hosting the PSI," the North's Minju Joson daily said.
"This is an outright military provocation and an open declaration of war against us," the official daily of the North's government said in a commentary, according to Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency.
In a separate commentary the North's ruling communist party's official daily, Rodong Sinmun, said the country would build up its armed forces 1,000-fold should the United States continue its military threat against it.
The North already has one of the largest standing armies in the world.
The South says the drill does not target specific countries but the Minju Joson said the exercise was aimed at interdicting and searching ships that belong to the communist state.
About 10 warships and aircraft from South Korea, the United States, Japan and Australia took part in the one-day manoeuvres.
"A naval blockade, which can be seen only during wartime, must not be tolerated," it said, adding the exercise was aimed at "seizing, inspecting and searching our ships and blockading our ports."
"Illegal provocative acts such as the PSI would bring nothing but military conflicts and worse inter-Korean relations," it warned.
South Korea was previously only an observer in the initiative for fear of offending its communist neighbour. After the North's second nuclear test in May last year, it said it would become a full member.
Seoul announced it would host the latest exercise after accusing Pyongyang of torpedoing one of its warships in March and killing 46 sailors.
The North denies carrying out the attack.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gmMgoLu8BROe0kqPQJJMH8qi9Jdg?docId=CNG.593f1e4f6a2d705601bddc80ee51c323.621
3. Senior North Korean Diplomat Ends Visit to China
Yonhap News Agency
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A senior North Korean diplomat returned home Saturday after a five-day trip to China which included talks on long-suspended international talks on the North's nuclear programs, a source here said.
North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, who for years has served as Pyongyang's top envoy to six-party nuclear disarmament talks met with China's nuclear envoy Wu Dawei, said the source, requesting anonymity.
Kim also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the source said, disclosing that the North Korean official returned home earlier in the day.
It was Kim's first trip to China since he was promoted to the No. 2 foreign ministry post in last month's personnel reshuffle. Before the reshuffle, Kim was one of several vice ministers in the foreign ministry.
In a statement posted on its Web site on Friday, China's Foreign Ministry said Kim and Wu "had a frank and in-depth exchange of views" on the situation of the Korean Peninsula and the six-party talks.
China in the statement also urged other countries involved in the nuclear negotiations -- South Korea, the U.S., Japan and Russia -- to "work together through contact and dialogue to further relax the situation and create conditions and atmosphere for the resumption of the six-party talks."
North Korea quit the six-party talks in April, 2009 and conducted a second nuclear test a month later.
In recent months, Pyongyang has signalled its willingness to return to the negotiating table, but prospects for resuming the talks have dimmed since the March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North.
Seoul and Washington have urged North Korea to take responsibility for the sinking, a charge Pyongyang denies, and show its seriousness through action about giving up its nuclear programs.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/10/16/8/0301000000AEN20101016001600315F.HTML
4. U.S. Says Won't Remove Sanctions on DPRK for Nuclear Talks
Xinhua News Agency
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U.S. State Department said on Friday that the United States will not remove sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for the resumption of six-party nuclear talks.
Sanctions on DPRK "exist for a very good reason: because North Korea consistently has failed to live up to its international obligations," said department spokesman Philip Crowley.
"We have no intention of removing those sanctions as an enticement for a dialogue," said Crowley.
Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Kim Kye Gwan, DPRK' s first vice minister of foreign affairs, had arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other senior Chinese diplomats regarding the resumption of six- party talks.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-10/16/c_13559675.htm
1. Islamabad May Seek Civil Nuclear Deal in Talks with US
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Pakistan will renew its demand for a civilian nuclear deal with the US along with a request for a supply of latest weapons to Islamabad in its forthcoming strategic talks with the US, scheduled in Washington on October 22, official sources said yesterday.
Authorities expect a fresh US demand for military action against the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in North Waziristan, considered a hub of global terrorism by Washington and its other allies in the war on terror. “Pakistani foreign policy managers are giving final touches to the agenda for the Pak-US strategic dialogue and in this regard consultations with various ministries are also going on,” a senior official said.
Available at: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=392720&version=1&template_id=41&parent_id=23
2. South Korea, U.S. to Start Talks on Nuclear Energy Treaty
The Chosun Ilbo
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Korea and the U.S. will begin talks on Oct. 25 about the revision of a bilateral nuclear energy agreement, which expires in 2014. The agreement prohibits Korea from reprocessing its own spent nuclear fuel which is piling up in storage.
Cho Hyun, the chief negotiator in the talks, and Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department's special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control, agreed when they met in Seoul in August to start the talks in October.
A government official said last Friday the two countries will discuss differences in views between the two countries on how to handle spent fuel from nuclear power generation.
Separately, the two countries are expected to review the technical aspect, such as feasibility, economic efficiency and safety of Seoul's proposed solution, namely a process known as pyroprocessing. Pyroprocessing does not produce plutonium that is pure enough for nuclear weapons -- the reason for the prohibition.
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/10/18/2010101801009.html
3. Nuclear Pact with U.S. at Risk - Russian Lawmaker
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A nuclear arms treaty between Russia and the United States could collapse unless Washington ratifies it before next month's elections change the Senate's composition, a senior Russian lawmaker said.
The signing of the new START treaty in April was a step toward U.S. President Barack Obama's goal of "resetting" relations with the Kremlin, so its derailment would be a big setback for the White House's foreign policy agenda.
The treaty is not in force until it has been ratified by legislatures in both countries and Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, said this now hung in the balance.
The Kremlin ally said he remained hopeful that the Senate could ratify the treaty in the so-called lame duck session, when it re-convenes after the November 2 congressional elections but before newly elected senators take up their seats.
"If for whatever reason -- political, technical -- that does not happen ... then I think the agreement will have problems from the point of view of ratification, very big problems," Kosachyov told Reuters in an interview late on Saturday.
The agreement will cut strategic nuclear arsenals deployed by the former Cold War foes by 30 percent within seven years but leave each with enough to destroy the other. Its predecessor treaty expired in December last year.
"WORSE CASE SCENARIO"
Kosachyov said if Republicans made big gains in the Senate in next month's election, as many opinion polls suggest, it would not be possible to garner the two-thirds vote needed to ratify the new treaty.
"Many (Republican Senators) will be in principle against agreeing on anything with Russia. In that case we will have to start from scratch. That is the worst case scenario. Completely awful. For now I do not want to believe in it," he said.
"For now I am disappointed with how all this is going but I am optimistic because there are very good chances that it will be ratified in the lame duck session," Kosachyov said on the sidelines of the World Policy Conference in Morocco.
But he said: "If it (the treaty) collapses just because of internal political considerations of the United States, that would be very bad."
Some Republican senators say they worry the new treaty may limit U.S. missile defenses, and some want Obama to promise to spend more money modernizing the nuclear weapons that remain.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted the treaty to Russia's parliament, but he told lawmakers not to ratify the agreement before the full U.S. Senate has approved it.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE69G0UC20101017
4. U.S. 'Confident' in Russia Over its Nuclear Cooperation with Venezuela
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The United States will "watch closely" cooperation between Russia and Venezuela in the nuclear sphere, but has confidence in Russia regarding the observance of international nuclear non-proliferation obligations, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.
Russia and Venezuela signed on Friday an agreement on the construction of a nuclear power station in the South American country as part of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's visit to Moscow.
The agreement was reached in April 2010 during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to Caracas.
When asked during a daily press briefing in Washington if the United States had any concerns regarding the deal - considering that Venezuela had "a little bit of ties with Iran" - Philip Crowley said "well, this is something that we will watch very closely."
"It is certainly a right of any country to pursue civilian nuclear energy, but with that right come responsibilities and we would expect Venezuela, Russia, or any other country pursuing this kind of technology to meet all international obligations," Crowley said, adding "the last thing we need to do is see technology migrate to countries or groups that should not have that technology."
"But we have confidence in Russia," he said.
Western powers fear that Iran, which is already under four sets of UN sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, may obtain advanced nuclear technologies, which would jeopardize security in the Middle East.
At Friday's signing ceremony in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev said cooperation with Venezuela in nuclear field does not constitute a threat for other countries.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20101016/160976559.html
The government has identified eight sites in England and Wales as suitable for future nuclear power stations while ruling out a further three.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said Dungeness in Kent and both Braystones and Kirksanton in Cumbria were not suitable for environmental reasons.
While nuclear had a key role to play, he hoped half of all new capacity by 2025 would come from renewables.
But he ruled out plans for a tidal energy scheme on the Severn estuary.
Funding a Severn barrage with public money would be "very costly", he said, and as finding private investment would be challenging, other options should be pursued.
The last Labour government approved eleven locations as suitable for new nuclear plants by 2025 - most on the site of existing plants - but this has been cut to eight as part of a revised draft policy statement presented to Parliament on Monday.
The possible locations are: Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk and Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey.
The BBC's Environmental Analyst Roger Harrabin said this did not mean the projects - which would be subject to planning permission - would go ahead as Mr Huhne has insisted there would be no public subsidies available for them.
Nuclear power is a potential flashpoint within the coalition government with many leading Lib Dems sceptical about the merits of a new generation of nuclear plants and the Conservatives more enthusiastic. Roger Harrabin said the definition of what constituted a subsidy was likely to be fought over in the coming months.
Critics say the UK is at risk of an energy crisis by the middle of the next decade when many of the existing nuclear plants will reach the end of their lives.
Mr Huhne said the country needed a diverse energy mix with contributions from all sectors but with more emphasis on renewables such as wind power.
"I'm fed up with the stand-off between advocates of renewables and of nuclear which means we have neither," he said.
"We urgently need investment in new and diverse energy sources to power the UK. We'll need renewables, new nuclear, fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage and the cables to hook them all up to the National Grid as a large slice of our current generating capacity shuts down."
Many Lib Dem MPs have traditionally been opposed to further nuclear expansion but Mr Huhne told the BBC the issue was not a "toxic" one among his colleagues.
A majority of MPs in Parliament - including most Conservatives and Labour members - are in favour of building more nuclear plants and Mr Huhne said the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition agreement had made it "very clear" nuclear would be included in the country's future energy mix.
"A deal is a deal. I am there to deliver it," he said.
The list of potential sites is confined to England and Wales as the Scottish government has said it is opposed to future nuclear expansion.
Environmental campaigners Greenpeace said the economics of nuclear power "simply did not add up".
"Lib Dem voters backed a party that supported renewable energy, opposed taxpayer handouts to the nuclear industry and supported full democratic engagement in the planning process," said Jim Footner, head of its climate and energy campaign.
"And local democracy is being kicked out of the door when it comes to nuclear sites. Lib Dem supporters must be furious that local communities will have little say about nuclear power stations in their area, other than choosing the colour of the gates.
"The Liberal Democrats need to stay true to their supporters by dropping the costly distraction of nuclear power and start investing in the clean, renewable and efficient technologies that will tackle climate change and provide tens of thousands of new British jobs."
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11564152
The state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. said Monday that along with Sumitomo Corp. of Japan, it has won a $1.5 billion deal to build and operate a power plant in the United Arab Emirates.
The gas-fired power plant, with a capacity of about 1,600 megawatts, will be built in Shuweihat, 260 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi, and is scheduled to begin operations in March 2014, KEPCO said.
The contract was awarded by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority.
Last year, the KEPCO-led consortium won a $20 billion project from the UAE to build four nuclear reactors in the Middle Eastern country.
Since a consortium led by KEPCO won a $20 billion deal to build four nuclear power plans in the UAE by 2020, the state-run energy firm has been showing more agressive moves to expand its overseas markets.
While concretizing similar projects to build nuclear reactors in Turkey, KEPCO has been invoved in dialogues with countries including Argentina, Malaysia and South Africa to enhance their cooperation regarding energy, as well as for possible prospective nuclear plant constructions.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/business/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20101018000922
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