Iran's top nuclear official says the country's current supply of 20 percent-enriched uranium stands at 30 kg, as Tehran steps up efforts aimed at nuclear self-sufficiency.
Iran currently has 30 kg (66 lb) of 20 percent-enriched uranium and has launched new exploration projects, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi told a Press TV correspondent.
"We have also discovered good vein deposits at the Gachin uranium mine in [the southern port city of] Bandar Abbas and are preparing for extractions," the AEOI chief went on to add.
He said that the new discovery has "extended the life of the Gachin mine."
Earlier this week, Salehi announced the launch of uranium exploration projects in the country's southern and central regions.
"Since launching the Bushehr nuclear power plant, we have prioritized uranium exploration to be able to answer our [fuel] needs fully and domestically," Salehi said on Monday.
The announcement comes amid a standoff with the West over US-led accusations that Iran is following a military nuclear program -- a charge repeatedly refuted by Tehran.
As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iranian officials say Tehran will continue to pursue its right to use peaceful nuclear energy.
The UN Security Council and Western powers have imposed several rounds of sanctions and adopted unilateral measures against Iran's energy, financial and military sectors.
The moves have hampered negotiations aimed at resolving a row over Iran's enrichment program at the level of 20 percent.
Tehran says it is only continuing the enrichment to provide fuel for a nuclear research reactor. In an attempt to speed negotiations, Iran also signed a nuclear declaration with Brazil and Turkey on May 17, announcing readiness to swap 1,200 kg of its low enriched uranium with fuel on Turkish soil.
However, three weeks later the UN Security Council imposed its fourth round of sanctions.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/147460.html
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili says a date has not yet been set for nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 group.
Jalili told Press TV on Tuesday, “What we have always announced is that we welcome talks… In the letter I wrote to Ms. Ashton, I explained the atmosphere, the bases, and the topics of the talks.”
He had said earlier that “dialogue on cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only option" for the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany.
Deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Abolfazl Zohrevand, said that a letter on the resumption of the talks has been received from the head of the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, “but the letter only addresses issues such as where, when and how long the talks should be and does not deal with more important issues such as the framework, aim and direction of the talks.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran welcomes any purposeful fair talks that respect the rights of nations.
He said that negotiations could yield “fruitful” results if they were held in an atmosphere of “cooperation” rather than confrontation.
On Thursday, the EU foreign policy chief put forth the proposal to hold a three-day round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group over Tehran's nuclear program in mid-November.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki welcomed the new offer for the resumption of talks over Iran's nuclear energy program.
Dialogue between Iran and the P5+1 group, which Ashton represents, has been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two sides met in Geneva.
In a letter to Ashton dated July 6, Jalili said that while Iran is still ready to resume talks with the group of six world powers, a number of conditions would first have to be met.
"Once the direction of the negotiations becomes clear, Iran will be ready for talks on constructive international cooperation to remove common concerns," wrote Jalili in response to a letter by Ashton in mid-June.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday re-emphasized the importance of observing the Islamic Republic's previous preconditions for holding talks with the P5+1.
He said that the six major powers should determine whether they are committed to IAEA regulations and announce whether their objectives of talks are cooperation with Iran or enmity towards the Islamic Republic.
President Ahmadinejad also urged the P5+1 countries to announce their views about Israel's nuclear bombs.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/147404.html
3. Venezuela to Stand By Iran Under Any Circumstances, Chavez Says on Visit
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who’s making his ninth visit to Tehran, pledged that his country will stand by Iran “under any circumstances.”
“Venezuela pursues the increasing of ties with Iran as a holy matter,” Chavez said yesterday during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to a report published on the Iranian president’s website.
“Independent nations have potential and if they consolidate, they can multiply their power in the face of imperialism,” Chavez was quoted as saying.
Iran’s ties with Venezuela have intensified since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. Both countries are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Ahmadinejad and Chavez have used their nations’ oil wealth to pay for social programs benefiting the poor.
The two presidents are also outspoken critics of U.S. foreign policy, which they characterize as imperialistic.
Ahmadinejad thanked Chavez, whom he has called a “brother,” for backing the Persian Gulf nation in combating international sanctions aimed at forcing it to curb its nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran maintains its program is civilian and needed to generate electricity for a growing population.
“Venezuela’s progressive and brotherly stance in condemning the sanctions of oppressive countries against the Iranian nation is proof of the two countries’ deep and solid relations,” Ahmadinejad said yesterday.
Chavez’s visit is aimed at furthering energy ties with Iran, local media reported yesterday. Before flying to Tehran, Chavez was in Russia, where he secured an agreement for Rosatom Corp., the Russian state-run nuclear holding company, to build Venezuela’s first nuclear power plant.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-20/venezuela-to-stand-by-iran-under-any-circumstances-chavez-says-on-visit.html
4. Iran Says European Nations Refusing to Fuel Planes
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Iran said on Tuesday some Western companies were refusing to refuel its planes in Europe and warned it would "confront" such measures, which it deemed illegal under international law.
"Unfortunately, some Western companies have adopted inappropriate measures," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters when asked to comment on reports that Iranian planes were being refused jet fuel at London's Heathrow airport.
"We advise their governments that this issue... is against the illegal UN Security Council resolution, and under international law it is an unlawful act."
Mehmanparast warned that Iran would not tolerate such measures.
"We will definitely not tolerate such inappropriate actions by some companies and measures to confront such actions are on our agenda," he said.
The Washington Post reported at the weekend that several major oil firms, including British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell and Q8, have abruptly cancelled jet fuel delivery contracts with Iran Air, Tehran's state carrier.
The report said the cancelled contracts had hit Iran Air flights departing from destinations such as Amsterdam, London and Stockholm as they were now forced to make lengthy fuel stops either at an airport in Germany or one in Austria where Total of France and OMV of Austria are still providing fuel for the airline.
It said that Iran Air's re-fuelling problems came as the US attempts to pressure the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear programme by targeting those who do business with Iran in the fields of finance, insurance, and transportation.
The UN Security Council imposed its fresh set of sanctions on Iran on June 9, which were followed by several unilateral punitive measures from several countries, including the United States.
The US measures target the key energy sector of Iran, including products such as gasoline and jet fuel.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j-gw81ym_A-vXLoaTVcFJ45WAkHw?docId=CNG.737890bf1c048f30ee89ce13aa9232f5.e1
1. South Korea Says Open to Calls for Six-Party Talks
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South Korea is open to calls for resuming international talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear arms program if Pyongyang pledges to honor a 2005 deal, a senior official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The unidentified Foreign Ministry official, speaking to domestic media, did not specifically link a resumption of six-party talks to the North conceding it had sunk a South Korean navy ship, signaling a possible softening of a hardline demand by Seoul.
South Korea has previously said the North must admit responsibility for sinking its ship in March and take "sincere measures" concerning the incident before it returned to the talks that have been stalled for two years.
"If North Korea shows sincerity and makes a verbal pledge to implement nuclear disablement steps equivalent to 750,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil it had received from the international community, we can accept the resumption of the six-way talks," the official was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
North Korea had been given the fuel oil as initial compensation for steps it had taken through 2008 to freeze its nuclear activities, which it had since called irrelevant.
"It must also allow the return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors or declare moratorium on its nuclear facilities," the official was quoted as saying.
The ministry could not confirm the official's reported comments but said they did not mark a departure from Seoul's position that it rested on the North to show it was sincere about disarmament and peace on the Korean peninsula.
Under a landmark deal reached by the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and China, the North agreed to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and return to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
In a subsequent accord on implementing that deal, the North agreed to shut down and seal its nuclear facilities and invite international inspectors to oversee disarmament steps.
The North was offered economic aid in return for those steps, including an initial shipment of 1 million metric tons of heavy fuel oil.
Two years ago, North Korea walked away from the six-way talks which had begun in 2003, saying it would not deal with the United States which was intent on undermining its leadership.
But in an about-turn, the North said in July that it was willing to return to dialogue, and China, which hosted the forum, had been working behind the scenes for a resumption.
Analysts said the North was being squeezed hard under U.N. sanctions imposed after its defiant nuclear and missile tests last year that deepened its economic woes, and may be trying to return to the six-way talks which had promised to be a source of lucrative aid.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6981MS20101020
2. Dialogue Partners Reaffirm Aim to Denuclearize North Korea
The Korea Herald
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Five partners of the multinational talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea reaffirmed their longstanding goal to achieve a nuclear-free Northeast Asia during a meeting in Seoul on Tuesday, which the communist state did not attend despite its apparent willingness to restart negotiating.
Officials and experts from South Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia gathered in Seoul for a two-day forum of the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue, during which members discussed regional security matters.
Established in 1993, the nongovernmental regional security forum also has North Korea as a member. Dispatching its first delegation in 2002, Pyongyang also attended last year’s session, which was held in the United States.
The newest gathering of the NEACD came as Pyongyang has recently been expressing a renewed willingness to rejoin the six-nation denuclearization talks. The talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia have been suspended since the end of 2008 after Pyongyang conducted a second atomic test.
“We actively discussed various aspects and necessities of resuming the six-party talks,” Kim Hong-kyun, director of the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s Korean Peninsula peace regime bureau, told the press after the meeting.
With its ailing leader Kim Jong-il apparently speeding up a power transfer to his youngest son who is still only in his 20s, North Korea is in desperate need to secure outside assistance and avoid further isolation by restarting the talks, pundits say.
North Korea has relied mostly on outside aid to feed its impoverished population of 24 million, often using its nuclear facilities as the main negotiating tool.
Seoul and Washington, which fought against Pyongyang during the 1950-53 Korean War, have been skeptical toward an immediate resumption of the negotiations, demanding the North to first come clean about attacking a South Korean warship in March.
South Korea and the U.S. believe North Korea torpedoed the Cheonan, resulting in the deaths of 46 young sailors. North Korea denies its role in the deadly disaster, while its last-remaining ally China has remained neutral.
While South Korea, the U.S. and Japan shared a similar position, China and Russia “expressed their own views” toward resuming the denuclearization talks, Kim added, indicating a lingering opinion gap over the methods and the timetable of restarting the negotiations.
“I delivered the (Seoul) government’s view on the sinking of Cheonan and how resuming the talks must be linked to whether North Korea shows an earnest attitude to denuclearize,” he said.
Director Susan Shirk of the U.S. Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation said Pyongyang is likely to “participate in future NEACD activities.
“I was in the DPRK recently and I talked with colleagues from the DPRK government, which is certainly happy to participate in future NEACD activities,” she said, addressing North Korea by its official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Participants of this year’s forum included U.S. special envoy to the six-nation talks Sung Kim, Kim of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry and Grigory Logvinov, Russia’s deputy envoy to the six-party talks.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20101019000660
3. Did North Korea Conduct 3rd Nuclear Test in May?
The Korea Times
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A lawmaker of the governing Grand National Party (GNP) claimed Tuesday that North Korea conducted its third nuclear test this year, noting that an unusually high level of a rare gas’s radioactive isotope was detected in an eastern coastal town near the inter-Korean border on May 15.
“Xenon-135 is a radioactive element produced only by nuclear fission. And what is also certain is that the gas came from North, considering the direction of the wind and air currents at the time,” Rep. Kim Seon-dong said.
Kim said the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) detected 2.45 mBq/m3 of xenon-133 and 10.01 mBq/m3 of xenon-135, the highest level recorded since the state-run nuclear regulatory body began operating Swedish Unattended Noble Gas Analyzers (SAUNA).
“The concentration ratio of the noble gas at its monitoring station in Geojin, Gangwon Province had remained below 0.55 since 2007, but suddenly jumped to 4.085 at 2:07 a.m. on May 15,” he said.
The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) confirmed that it detected a high concentration of xenon-135, but declined to comment further on the possibility of a nuclear test.
“Our job is analyzing data, not drawing a conclusion to such a complicated matter,” an official of the KINS said, complaining that lawmaker Kim compromised classified information to back his claim.
Many believed only the U.S. forces have the ability and means to detect the radioactive fission products on the Korean Peninsula.
The official, asking for anonymity, said that the military ruled out the possibility of a nuclear test in the North in late May as no major seismic activity was spotted at the time.
However, Lee Chun-ho, an aide to Rep. Kim, told The Korea Times that the government is believed to have detected an earthquake with magnitude 3 or lower three times on May 12.
On May 12, the North’s state-run newspaper the Rodong Sinmun reported that Pyongyang successfully carried out a nuclear fusion reaction to help develop clean energy.
Lee suspects that the Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies may have intentionally covered up the truth as they do not want to acknowledge the North’s technological breakthrough.
Kim Tae-woo, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, also told the paper that such a high level of xenon-135 and 133 could have only been produced as a result of a nuclear test.
However, professor Hwang Il-soon, a nuclear materials scientist at Seoul National University, raised the possibility that the North could have intentionally leaked the noble gas that it stored from past nuclear tests or reprocessing.
“Given that only xenon was detected and no major seismic activity was spotted, the North may have released xenon it had kept to make others believe it had conducted a nuclear test,” Hwang said.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/10/116_74808.html
4. North Korea Should Take Denuclearization Steps Before More Talks
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North Korea should bring international inspectors back to its nuclear facilities and declare a moratorium on nuclear activities before the stalled multilateral denuclearization talks can resume, a senior South Korean foreign ministry official told Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday.
''The least North Korea can do is to reinstate inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and to declare it would disable its nuclear facilities to a certain level,'' the official was quoted as saying.
The official also said the North should take actions matching the 750,000 tons of heavy fuel oil it has received under an aid-for-denuclearization deal.
Under an accord, the five negotiating partners had agreed to provide the North with 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil in exchange for the North's denuclearization steps.
Already, 750,000 tons of heavy fuel oil have delivered to the North.
The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since December 2008.
In April 2009, Pyongyang announced its pullout from the talks to protest the U.N. Security Council's censure of a rocket launch it conducted the same month that was widely believed to be a ballistic missile test.
In a major turnaround, North Korea has recently expressed readiness to restart the six-party talks.
Inter-Korean tensions have escalated since the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March, for which the North was held accountable.
An international panel of experts, led by South Korea, drew the conclusion a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo into the 1,200 corvette, killing 46 South Korean sailors.
North Korea has strongly denied its involvement in the naval incident.
Available at: http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/4596234
1. Colombia Tries to Stop Rebels from Getting Nuclear Arms
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Colombian police have created the first counter-nuclear arms unit in the region dealing with leftist rebels.
The new Centre for Nuclear Security will try to prevent members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) from obtaining nuclear material to make a "dirty bomb".
Intelligence officials say computers belonging to the Farc proved they had been trying to obtain nuclear material.
They believe the rebels intend to use the material to cause maximum damage.
Since 2008, when the Colombian army found several computers belonging to the slain Farc commander known as "Raul Reyes", the authorities have been working on a theory that the guerrillas have ambitions involving nuclear arms.
At a news conference in Bogota, the new head of the unit, Gen Rafael Parra, said emails found on the computers proved that since 2005 the Farc had been trying to buy nuclear material in Ukraine.
Venezuelan nuclear ambitions "It's clearly the intention of the Farc to obtain uranium in Europe. It's obvious that if it tries to do this, then it's for the sole purpose of using it against the people it has been terrorising for years," Gen Parra told reporters.
The inauguration of the centre comes just days after Colombia's neighbour Venezuela signed a contract with Moscow for a new nuclear reactor.
The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia says the Colombian authorities have long accused President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela of arming the Farc.
However, at the launch of the counter-nuclear arms centre one of its senior officials, Anitta Nilson, insisted there was no link between the new unit and developments in Venezuela.
She said the work of her unit was "in no way political".
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11580759
1. Obama Says Venezuela Has Right to Russian Nuclear Aid
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President Barack Obama has said Venezuela has the right to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme, but must "act responsibly".
Mr Obama was reacting to news Russia is to build a nuclear power plant there as part of a series of energy deals.
Mr Obama said he hopes to improve US-Venezuela relations and said the US has no interest in increasing tensions.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met Iranian leaders for talks expected to focus on energy.
"We have no incentive nor interest in increasing friction between Venezuela and the US, but we do think Venezuela needs to act responsibly," Mr Obama said at the White House.
Last week, Russian media reported the country will build two 1,200 megawatt nuclear reactors at a plant in Venezuela.
Also Rosneft, Russia's state oil giant, will buy a 50% stake in German refinery firm Ruhr Oel from Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA.
The agreement, worth $1.6bn (£1bn), was signed at the Kremlin during Mr Chavez's visit last week. However the cost of the nuclear deal was not immediately revealed, and it was unclear when construction was to be begin.
Mr Chavez has insisted Iran aim only for nuclear power. Despite the Opec member state's vast oil and natural gas reserves, it has suffered severe electricity shortages.
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11580469
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas Tuesday said that the choosing of a winner of the largest-ever Czech nuclear power tender will be delayed by a year to 2013.
CEZ AS, the majority state-owned Czech electricity utility, was originally planning to pick the company in 2012 to expand its Temelin nuclear power plant with two new reactors and with options to build three additional reactors.
As reported earlier, all three companies already short-listed by CEZ in the prequalification round asked to hold more talks with the Czech power company on the technical aspects of the project, estimated to be valued at about $25 billion.
The short-listed companies are Westinghouse Electric Co., a U.S.-based unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp., France's state-owned Areva SA and Russia's state-owned Atomstroyexport.
Experts have said that despite extending the company-selection process, CEZ will still be able to meet its deadline of bringing the first of two new reactors at Temelin online in 2020.
Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303550904575561851818275846.html
2. New Company to Sell Nuclear Power Plants to Vietnam Will Be Launched on October 22
The Denki Shimbun
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Thirteen Japanese companies including the nine electric utilities as well as Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan will launch the International Nuclear Energy Development of Japan Co., Ltd. (JINED) on October 22 to develop proposals for Vietnam and other countries planning new nuclear power plant deployments. Shareholdings in the new company will be Tokyo Electric Power 20%, Kansai Electric Power 15%, Chubu Electric Power 10%, the joint public-private sector fund Innovation Network Corporation of Japan 10%, and 5% each by the remaining companies. Ichiro Takekuro will become president (CEO) of JINED concurrently with his position as Fellow of Tokyo Electric Power. The new company will have a total of 200 million yen of equity capital including 100 million of capital reserve. It will be headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.
JINED will coordinate proposals from the electric utilities, manufacturers, financial institutions and the government to develop comprehensive packages to support power plant projects in countries planning new deployments. It will serve as a central point for receiving requests from the emerging countries. The government will support the new company's activities through measures including nuclear power agreements and enhanced export insurance. The new company will focus initially on winning an order from Vietnam for a nuclear power project.
In November 2009, Vietnam's national assembly approved the construction plan for the country's first nuclear power plants. Construction of a total of four units at two sites is planned. Russia has won the order for two units while Japan is competing fiercely with France and others for the remaining two units.
Available at: http://www.shimbun.denki.or.jp/en/news/20101019_03.html
Nuclear power is too risky and expensive to be an energy option for Victoria, Premier John Brumby says.
One of the state's most powerful unions, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), on Tuesday slammed a push from the Committee of Melbourne for nuclear energy to be on the agenda.
The think tank, which includes some of the nation's largest engineering, legal and construction firms, published a report this week calling for a serious examination of nuclear power as an option to meet the state's future energy needs.
Mr Brumby said the state's power needs could be met by growing investment in green energy without going nuclear.
"The reason I've not supported that is, I think, nuclear power is expensive, there are some risks with that and we've had a longstanding policy in Victoria about a nuclear-free state," he told reporters.
"What we're wanting to do in Victoria is bring forward new renewable power and that's the way to go in the future."
ETU Victorian branch secretary Dean Mighell said the government had done "good work" in encouraging investment in solar energy.
"The worrying part for us is that nuclear would severely undermine that," he told AAP.
"Governments could ... say `well, we've cut emissions from brown coal because we've switched to nuclear, therefore we don't need to do anything more in the renewable energy sector'".
Mr Mighell said in 2007 he visited the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Texas and spoke with industry figures there.
He said after hearing that there were no regulations in place or a potential site nominated, the industry figures said it would be decades before nuclear power in Australia could become a reality.
"They said `well, we think it will be 20 years at least before you could flick the switch on a nuclear reactor in Australia'," Mr Mighell said.
"People seem to think you'll wave a magic wand and have a (nuclear) power station online in Australia.
"The reality is the last unit to come online in America took over 20 years to complete."
The Committee of Melbourne report also suggested the desalination plant under construction on Victoria's southeast coast may need to be expanded by a third and that a second desal plant might eventually be needed.
Mr Brumby said the plant had capacity to be upscaled from 150 gigalitres a year to 200 gigalitres should it be required in the next 12 to 20 years.
He disputed suggestions the desal plant would be insufficient to cater for population growth.
"I saw the report today saying we'd need a second or third desalination plant, I do not accept that, I think we've planned for the future," he said.
Available at: http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-national/nuclear-too-risky-and-costly-brumby-20101019-16rv7.html
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