1. Hawkish Israeli Minister Drafts Nuclear Iran Plan
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Hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has commissioned a report on how to prepare for a nuclear-armed Iran as doubt mounts about the efficacy of preventive action, an Israeli source said on Monday.
Publicly, Israel has pledged to deny the Iranians the means to make a bomb but its previous, centrist government also discreetly drew up "day after" contingency plans should Tehran's uranium enrichment pass the military threshold.
At the time, rightist opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israel to consider preemptive strikes against its arch-foe's nuclear sites. Now prime minister, Netanyahu has reined in such rhetoric while not ruling out the use of force.
In a sign the government is examining a full range of options, Lieberman, the most hawkish member of Netanyahu's coalition, has ordered ministry strategists to draft a paper on "what to do if we wake up and discover the Iranians have a nuclear weapon," said the senior Israeli political source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Foreign Ministry planners are also preparing a report on possible responses should the Palestinians unilaterally declare a state taking in all of the occupied West Bank, where continued Israeli settlement has bogged down U.S.-sponsored peace efforts.
Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal. Its aircraft bombed Iraq's atomic reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie against Syria in 2007.
But many independent experts believe Israeli forces could not take on Iran alone. The Iranians have dug in, dispersed and prepared to defend many of their nuclear facilities.
Even were its warplanes to manage a successful sneak attack, Israel would almost certainly suffer retaliatory Iranian missile salvoes worse than the short-range rocket attacks of Lebanese and Palestinian guerrillas in the 2006 and 2009 border wars.
There would be a wider diplomatic reckoning: World powers are in no rush to see another regional conflagration, especially while sanctions are still being pursued against an Iranian nuclear program which Tehran says is peaceful.
The planning department of Israel's Foreign Ministry is one of several units guiding government strategy. Chief among these are the National Security Council and an inner cabinet made up of Netanyahu and six other top ministers, including Lieberman.
Netanyahu's office declined comment on the Lieberman initiative. A senior Israeli official said: "The government's position is that all attempts have to be made to prevent Iran from going nuclear."
The Israelis have voiced cautious confidence in sanctions. But they also believe Tehran could have a nuclear warhead as soon as 2012-2014, an assessment shared by some in the West.
Israeli defense officials have placed a priority on improving the national missile shield and bolstering a network of civilian bomb shelters -- a posture that may herald resilience in the face of an eventual nuclear-armed Iran or a bracing for reprisals should Israel strike Iran first.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69O0XA20101025
Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has stressed that Iran's nuclear case should be resolved through negotiations and diplomacy.
"Any country seeking to develop peaceful nuclear energy has the right to do so, and Iran cooperates with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which deals with nuclear energy," Mammadyarov said in a conference on international relations in the Azerbaijan's capital city, Baku.
The US and its allies accuse Iran of developing a nuclear weapon program. Tehran rejects the accusations, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and geared to generating electricity.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
Mammadyarov went on to say that Azerbaijan is keen on expanding cooperation with the Islamic Republic as the two neighbors share many commonalities.
"Iran is our closest neighbor, and we try to build cordial neighborly relations," Trend news agency quoted him as saying.
"We use Iranian territory to get to Nakhchivan. We are bounded with a number of joint projects. The Iranian side is now building a railroad in Astara," he added.
"Periodically we hold talks with the Iranian side, in particular with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki," Mammadyarov concluded.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/147971.html
3. Iran Parliament Rejects Talks on Uranium Enrichment Suspension
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Iran's parliament said Sunday that the government should not enter any nuclear negotiations aimed at coercing Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.
The deputy head of the parliament's national security commission said the West should not think that sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council would force iran to relinquish its rights.
Mohammad-Esmail Kowsari said that instead of focusing on Iran's legitimate right to pursue peaceful nuclear projects, the parties should prove their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and explore ways to enable global nuclear disarmament.
The office of European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has proposed resuming nuclear talks with Iran on November 15-17 in Vienna. The proposed talks would include the 5+1 major powers - the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany.
Iran welcomed the initiative, but chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said the agenda would need to be clarified first.
Analysts say that there are gaps that need to be bridged, with Tehran preferring to discuss global issues such as disarmament, Israel's nuclear arsenal and the financial crisis in the Middle East and around the world, while the Western powers insist that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Tehran views this demand as unacceptable.
Parliament member Vali Esmaeili said Iran should not allow world powers to impose any preconditions for the talks.
"The West should understand that Iran will never give up its nuclear rights and suspension of uranium enrichment," he said.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization chief, Ali-Akbar Salehi, proposed a uranium-swap deal as a basis for talks with the 5+1 group, to compromise on demands from both sides.
The swap deal - storing Iranian low-enriched uranium in Turkey and exchanging it with nuclear fuel from Russia and France for a medical reactor in Tehran - was raised during the previous round of negotiations a year ago in Geneva.
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/iran-parliament-rejects-talks-on-uranium-enrichment-suspension-1.320865
A senior Iranian lawmaker says if the world's major powers seek to negotiate with Iran, they should begin by responding to Tehran's previous questions and demands.
Deputy Head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Esmail Kowsari said the request by the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany -- for talks has been reviewed by the commission and Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.
On October 14, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton proposed three-day talks over Iran's nuclear program in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna, expressing hope that Tehran would “respond positively” to the offer.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki welcomed the new offer for the resumption of talks over Iran's nuclear energy program, and later said Tehran is negotiating with the P5+1 to determine the exact date and venue for talks.
"The [National Security and Foreign Policy] Commission believes that if the P5+1 want to negotiate [with Iran] they should respond to our previous questions and demands," Kowsari told IRNA on Sunday.
"If this group has expressed its readiness for negotiations, they should respond to our demands," the Iranian lawmaker said, adding that the West cannot first impose sanctions on Tehran and then ask for the resumption of negotiations.
Kowsari on Saturday announced that the basis of Iran's negotiations with the P5+1 would be the three questions raised in the letter written by Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili to Ashton.
In his letter, Jalili said all the involved parties must prove their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's pillars of global disarmament, non-proliferation and the right to peaceful nuclear technology.
He called for the clarification of the nuclear ambiguity of Israel -- widely believed to be the Middle East's sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal.
Jalili also reiterated that any approach which does not square with the package of proposals offered by Tehran in May 2009 is a 'reactionary and unconstructive' move which will not be accepted by the Iranian nation.
Ashton on Saturday reissued her invitation for Iran to hold talks on its nuclear program next month, saying, "The main focus of the meeting would be on the question of the Iranian nuclear program, not excluding any other items pertinent to the discussion."
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/148073.html
1. South Korea Willing to Consider Regularizing Nuclear Talks
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea is willing to consider holding six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs on a regular basis if Pyongyang demonstrates denuclearization commitments through action and the stalled negotiating process resumes, an official said Monday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun made the remark after a report said that China's chief nuclear negotiator Wu Dawei had proposed during trips to Japan and the United States in August and September that the six-party talks be held every month.
Officials involved in the nuclear talks have held discussions on the negotiating process, and there was also an "exchange of opinions" on the need to hold the negotiations on a regular basis "as a way to strengthen the six-party system," Kim said.
"But it should be an issue that should be dealt with after the six-party talks resume," Kim said. "North Korea should first demonstrate sincere denuclearization commitments through specific actions so as to win trust from related countries and the international community."
Should the nuclear talks reopen, the issue of regularly convening the forum could be discussed in order to sustain the momentum for dialogue, Kim said.
The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been stalled since the last session in December 2008 due to a North Korean boycott. Prospects for reopening the process have diminished in the wake of a March sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on Pyongyang. The North denies any role in the sinking.
Pyongyang has indicated its willingness to return to the negotiating table in recent months, but Seoul and Washington have urged the North to take responsibility for the ship sinking and prove through action that it is serious about abandoning its nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/10/25/72/0301000000AEN20101025004400315F.HTML
2. North Korea Justifies Nuclear 'Treasured Sword'
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North Korea said its nuclear arsenal "serves as a treasured sword", amid reports the secretive state could be preparing for a third nuclear test.
The bellicose claim came amid a visit by a Chinese military delegation, as well as intense world interest after Pyongyang lay the ground work for the future succession of ruler Kim Jong-Il's youngest son Kim Jong-Un.
North Korea was "entirely right when it opted for having access to nukes", the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary, adding the communist country needed to protect itself.
The North has long justified having the weapons saying they are to counter a similar threat from the United States.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a global nuclear safeguard accord, was not doing its job properly, the official commentary late on Saturday said.
"This compelled (North Korea) to pull out of the NPT and have access to nuclear deterrent legitimately in order to protect the sovereignty and security of the country," it said.
The isolated and impoverished North withdrew from the NPT in 2003.
Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's biggest-selling newspaper, reported Thursday that the North appeared to be preparing for another nuclear test, citing an unidentified government source.
US satellites had detected movements of personnel and vehicles at the site where Pyongyang carried out its first two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, the report said.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday that another atomic weapons test would be "provocative" but said he did not have any evidence to support the South Korean report.
Pyongyang said on Saturday it was willing to resume stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks but would not be "hasty" because the United States and some other parties were "not ready".
China, the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline, is pressing to restart the forum, which groups the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, and began in 2003.
But prospects for renewed negotiations have been clouded by South Korean and US accusations that the North torpedoed one of Seoul's warships in March with the loss of 46 lives, a charge Pyongyang denies.
The Chinese military delegation paid tribute to the North's late president Kim Il-Sung Sunday on the second day of a four-day trip to mark the 60th anniversary of Chinese forces' intervention in the Korean War, KCNA said.
After arriving in the capital on Saturday, Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, said close ties between the two countries would be handed down through the generations.
Jong-Un's status as leader-in-waiting was effectively made public after Pyongyang made him a four-star general and gave him key ruling party posts late last month.
Kim Jong-Il has visited China twice this year. The last visit, in August, was seen by many analysts as a bid by the North Korean leader for Chinese support for the dynastic succession.
Beijing fears the collapse of North Korea and resulting instability on its borders and thus provides heavy aid and trade support to its neighbour, experts say.
The South's Yonhap news agency meanwhile reported that Seoul and Washington have shelved a plan to stage a joint exercise involving a US aircraft carrier later this month in the Yellow Sea.
The exercise was cancelled over fears that it could heighten regional tensions ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Seoul, it said.
China has bristled at the idea of a US aircraft carrier group patrolling waters near its coast.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gJO01_cjTH1-4ZLz2-TXdpRYii4A?docId=CNG.f7a863e7d7e438e78226801eafdd191f.441
1. India Not Ready to Budge on Nuclear Liability Bill
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Ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's November visit to India, New Delhi has reportedly told the United States that it is not ready to amend the Nuclear Liability Bill passed by Parliament.
US companies like White Westinghouse and General Electronics have expressed apprehension over the recently passed Nuclear Liability Bill that gives the operator the right to recourse and impose liability on the suppliers in case of a nuclear mishap.
Major reservations have been expressed about Clause 17 (B) of the Bill.
India insists that the Bill that has been approved, not in favour of companies of a particular country, but to provide level-playing field to all the nuclear suppliers.
India is also expected to join the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) of nuclear liability.
US companies are run privately and are finding it extremely difficult to bear liability risks whereas other suppliers like Russia and France's Areva are government run. The US companies say that the liability bill is not in tune with the global regime and have asked India to display more flexibility.
US companies are eyeing a large pie of the potential 150 billion dollar civil nuclear technology industry in India.
According to sources, India will also be raising the issue of US funding to Pakistan and will be asking the US to bring more accountability and set a mechanism to monitor the aid given to Pakistan.
The doses of aid being given to Pakistan are used sanguinely by India centric Pakistan and the money is misused by Pakistan against India.
US has recently announced 2 billion dollars as a military aid to Pakistan.
Available at: http://sify.com/news/india-not-ready-to-budge-on-nuclear-liability-bill-news-national-kkyvkdggiaa.html
2. India Ready to Seal Nuclear Deal with Japan: PM
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India is ready to seal a civilian nuclear deal and boost trade ties with Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, as New Delhi looks to prove its friendship in the wake of Tokyo's bitter territorial spat with Beijing.
"I am confident that we will be able to conclude an agreement (on a civilian nuclear deal), which will be a win-win proposition for both of us," Singh told a group of Japanese media, before heading to Tokyo to meet his counterpart Naoto Kan on a three-day trip starting Sunday.
Singh said India would like Tokyo to be its partner in nuclear energy, noting that Japan has "one of the highest and most advanced nuclear technologies."
Japan and India launched talks in June on signing an atomic civilian cooperation agreement that will allow Tokyo to export nuclear power generation technology to energy-hungry India.
But Japan, which was hit by World War II US atomic bombings, has warned India that conducting any new nuclear tests would force a halt to any civilian nuclear cooperation with the South Asian giant, as India has developed nuclear arms without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"With regards to tests, we have unilaterally declared a moratorium on explosive testing and we have no intention" of revising that commitment, Singh said in an interview broadcast by NHK.
Singh and Kan were Monday expected to declare the completion of talks on an economic partnership agreement (EPA), which Singh said would open up the fast-growing Indian market to Japanese firms.
"I attach great importance to the potential of the economic cooperation," Singh said. The EPA "will boost our trade and economic ties many-fold."
Japan's expertise in technology and India's "fast-extending market", if combined, can bring about "mutually beneficial growth opportunities" for both countries, Singh said, as quoted by Jiji Press.
Japan has long tried to enhance ties with emerging economies but its relations with China, Asia's other population giant, hit rock bottom in a row following Japan's arrest of a Chinese trawlerman last month in disputed waters.
Beijing reacted angrily to the arrest, cancelling all high level talks and civilian programmes as well as suspending exports of rare earth minerals crucial for Japan's high-tech industries.
India has seized on this blocking of exports as a chance to step into a gap, with Singh saying New Delhi and Tokyo can cooperate on the production of rare earth minerals in India.
"This should be an added incentive for many countries which have a potential to produce rare earths to take advantage of that opportunity," Singh said.
But he added that "It's our sincere hope" that any Japan-China disputes involving maritime activities or maritime boundaries will be "resolved peacefully through diplomatic channels."
Despite frequent diplomatic rows, China has replaced the United States as Japan's top trading partner in recent years, while India only ranks as Japan's 28th biggest trade partner.
India holds three percent of global reserves of rare earth minerals, accounting for two percent of global production, while China accounts for 36 percent of global reserves and 97 percent of global production.
State monopoly Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IREL) hopes to "attract Japanese businesses to the refining and processing fields to help boost our price competitiveness," the business daily Nikkei reported, quoting an unnamed senior IREL official.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gAFLyOjrf6CgUcZvp-8ZBGsRtrfA?docId=CNG.57e0818dd0c36f59b99307c62436bf2a.a1
3. Indian Scientists to Train in Israel for Nuclear Plant Security
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More than 100 senior scientists from India's Tarapur Atomic Power Plant, near Mumbai, will be soon travelling to Israel to get acquainted with the latest developments in safety norms for nuclear plants, a Pakistani paper said Sunday.
The decision to send the team of 130 scientists was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a report in the Urdu daily Jang said.
Among other decisions taken at the meeting, also attended by the home and defence ministers and the Atomic Energy Commission chief, was to change the security system at the Tarapur plant. According to the report, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was also present at the meeting.
It was decided to appoint the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) former director Joginder Singh as head of a committee to oversee the new security systems, the report said.
Available at: http://sify.com/news/indian-scientists-to-train-in-israel-for-n-plant-security-news-international-kkyr4dbfjba.html
The Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa, FNRBA, an umbrella association of national nuclear regulatory agencies in the continent, is to cooperate with South Korea in a wide range of areas in the field of nuclear and radiation safety.
This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between the FNRBA and the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, KINS, the nuclear regulatory agency in Korea. Professor Shamsideen Elegba, Director-General, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, NNRA, who is also the Chairperson of the Forum, signed for FNRBA while Professor Choul Ho Yun, President of KINS, signed for his organisation.
The MOU is widely seen as important to the 33 African countries which are members of the FNRBA, especially 22 of them pursuing a nuclear power programme for electricity generation like Nigeria. It is pertinent to note that South Korea has over 30 years experience in the safe operation of Nuclear Power Plants, NPPs, and has 20 NPPs in operation with six more currently under construction.
In addition, South Korea has the world's first International Nuclear Safety School which is an IAEA regional training centre in Asia, awarding up to Masters Degree in nuclear and radiation safety. It is noteworthy that two members of staff of the NNRA are currently on scholarship in that highly competitive programme.
The MoU, which is on a basis of equality and reciprocity, borders on areas of mutual cooperation between the signing parties especially in the areas of capacity building, staff training and sharing of experience. Both parties, under the MoU, can exchange experts and other scientific and technical personnel; participate in studies, symposia, seminars as well as other activities related to nuclear and radiation safety.
The MoU was signed in the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, where the signatories were among the delegates for the 54th International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA's, General Conference in which 151 member-countries of the IAEA discussed issues of global importance in the nuclear world.
Available at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201010250637.html
2. Russia, Ukraine to Sign Deal on Aircraft, Nuclear Power Joint Ventures
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Russia and Ukraine will sign agreements on aircraft construction and nuclear power joint ventures following an intergovernmental committee meeting in Kiev on October 27, Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told RIA Novosti on Monday.
"We'll sign a whole number of agreements (at the committee's meeting). So far, it is absolutely evident that there are two of them, on aircraft construction and nuclear power cooperation," Azarov said.
The Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers have already ordered the relevant ministries to organize full-scale cooperation in aircraft construction between the Russian United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and Ukraine's state-run Antonov aircraft manufacturing concern. Initially, the joint venture is expected to work out proposals for integrating UAC and Antonov and providing marketing and after-sales service for Antonov aircraft.
In early October, the Russian Federal Nuclear Power Agency announced Russia and Ukraine were working on a joint venture on uranium enrichment.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/business/20101025/161079931.html
3. US Confirms ‘Talks’ on Pakistan Civil Nuclear Deal
South Asian News Agency
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Special US representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has confirmed that the officials of the two countries have talked privately about transfer of civilian nuclear technology to Pakistan.
Speaking to a group of reporters at the State Department here on Thursday ambassador Holbrooke said: “Private talks, in order to be productive, have to be private. So that is really what I want to say on that.”
He said that US was aware of Pakistan’s strategic goals and desires. “We have asked for more information about the civil nuclear technology transfer to see if it fits with international regime,” he added
He said the meeting betweenPresident Obama and the Pakistan delegation in the White House lasted over 30 minutes and President Obama announced that he would visit Pakistan next year and has invited President Zardari to come to Washington.
Ambassador Holbrooke said the United States accepts that Pakistan has a legitimate interest in Afghanistan. He said there were no formal negotiations or dialogue with the Taliban, however, the US and ISAF support Afghan-led peace initiative.
He acknowledged that Pakistan-India tensions affect the Afghan situation, however, he ruled out any mediation between India and Pakistan to sort out the Kashmir issue. “We want tension between India and Pakistan to be lowered but will not mediate between the two nations,” he added
To another question Holbrooke said United States would not interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan. “We support democratically elected government and do watch the situation in Pakistan with interest. We respect all political leaders of Pakistan including President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif”. He said it is the right of the people of Pakistan to decide who should be their rulers.
He said trilateral talks between Pakistan, Afghanistan and United States would resume next year. Agencies add: President Barack Obama has assured Islamabad of US commitment to economic and democratic development of Pakistan and said he is alive to the country’s regional security concerns, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said.
Briefing journalists after a Pakistani delegation’s 50-minute meeting with the US leader, the federal information minister and ambassador Husain Haqqani said Obama recalled his long association with Pakistan. Obama said the US wants stability in Pakistan and has no evil designs toward the country. Obama said the US does not want to see Pakistan weakened militarily and economically.
The US president said he would pay a visit to Pakistan and also extended an invitation to President Asif Zardari to visit Washington, the Pakistani officials said. Obama also voiced his support for stability of Pakistan’s democratic institutions.
Following strategic dialogue between Pakistan and US, ministerial level talks will take place today (Friday) wherein recommendations evolved by 13 working groups will be presented.
Committees on agriculture, public diplomacy and defence have already held their meetings. Meeting on security issues and women empowerment will take place today.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will represent Pakistan in ministerial level meeting. Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will assist him. Several federal secretaries will also be present over there. The US delegation will comprise US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Richard Holbrooke, US Chairman Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, CIA chief Leon Panetta and National Security Adviser James Jones respectively. Demand for US operation in North Waziristan will also be the key subject of dialogue. Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Admiral Mike Mullen would give important briefing to the conference in this respect. Matters related to nuclear drone technology, violations of Pakistan borders and Indian interference in Afghanistan would also feature in the conference.
“President Obama’s announcement to visit Pakistan in 2011 and invite President Zardari to Washington are very significant events,” with regard to strengthening bilateral relations, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a group of Pakistani journalists Thursday. The Obama administration is helping both civilian government and the Pakistan Army to grapple with flood recovery challenge, Holbrooke added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador in US Husain Haqqani phoned Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday to apprise him of details of the meeting of Pakistani delegation with President Barack Obama.
Available at: http://www.sananews.net/english/2010/10/23/us-confirms-talks-on-pak-civil-n-deal/
1. Korea Looks for Ways to Sway U.S. Over Nuclear Reprocessing
The Chosun Ilbo
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Korea could propose a memorandum of understanding to the U.S. about joint research on a safe method for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, a government official said on Sunday.
The two countries start talks in Washington on Monday about the revision of a bilateral nuclear energy agreement that expires in 2014 and prevents Seoul from reprocessing its own spent nuclear fuel rods. Korea is hoping that a technology known as pyroprocessing, which does not produce plutonium that is pure enough for nuclear weapons, may offer a way out.
Scientists in the two countries will also conduct separate research to review the feasibility of pyroprocessing.
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/10/25/2010102501003.html
In an attempt to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel, Japan is pushing a nuclear fuel cycle that will take spent nuclear fuel and reprocess it into new fuel for nuclear power plants. But the project is making poor progress. One problem is a hitch in the construction of a plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, that is to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.
In 1989 Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. applied for government approval to construct and operate the plant. The completion date of the plant recently was postponed from October 2010 to October 2012. This is the 18th time that the date has been pushed back since 1989.
Mainly relying on technology imported from France, the test run at Rokkasho to extract plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear fuel and purify them went fairly smoothly. But JNFL hit a snag in developing its own technology to contain high-level radioactive waste in glass.
It encountered one problem after another in a furnace that vitrifies such nuclear waste. It is extremely difficult to control the temperature of molten glass in which radioactive substances and other chemical substances are mixed. JNFL must overcome many obstacles before beginning a new test.
The nuclear fuel reprocessing plant is a core component of the nuclear fuel cycle. If the current furnace does not work well, JNFL will have to remodel it. This will delay the completion of the plant for many years.
Some 2.2 trillion yen has already been spent for the construction of the Rokkasho plant. Japan’s 10 power companies, which are the main shareholders of JNFL, have decided to add 400 billion yen as capital. If vitrification does not go well, the nuclear fuel cycle will stall.
Because of the snag in vitrification, the Rokkasho plant’s storage facility for spent nuclear fuel sent from the nation’s nuclear power plants is almost full. At each nuclear power plant, the average storage of spent nuclear fuel is two-thirds full. Nuclear power generation is, at least temporarily, one pillar against global warming. But it is on shaky ground.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20101024000269
3. Bulgaria's Energy Minister Optimistic on Nuclear Plant Investor
Sofia News Agency
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Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, voices strong optimism that the government would find another investor for the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in the Danube town of Belene.
Traikov spoke Saturday in an interview for Darik radio, but declined to give more details, avoiding to state that the NPP would not be build in case Bulgaria does not find an investor other than Russia.
Last evening, in a TV interview, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, mentioned holding talks with a strategic investor during his recent visit to the German province of Bavaria regarding the Belene project, but he did not offer more details either.
When asked if Bulgaria was ready to accept a loan from Russia, Traikov replied Saturday: "Why not, if its terms are favorable?"
The NNP's construction was frozen after the strategic investor, the German RWE, withdrew at the end of last year. The cabinet of the ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, led by Borisov, declared then the country had no interest in keeping its 51% shares in Belene, but vowed look for another European investor, which is yet to materialize.
Available at: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=121421
4. Lithuania Will Not Take Part in Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus
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Lithuania does not plan to take part in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus, the Baltic country's prime minister, Andrius Kubilius, said in an interview with the Ziniu radijas radio station on October 21, BelaPAN said.
While meeting with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in Minsk on Wednesday, Alyaksandr Lukashenka invited Vilnius to participate in the project. "Let's determine the cost and build together," the Belarusian leader said.
Mr. Kubulius said that Belarus had urged Lithuania to join the project in the past. "As far as I understand the offer was made again yesterday. We have repeatedly told the Belarusian side that we are not ready to consider such offers," he said.
The premier said that "Lithuania has its own plans as far as it concerns satisfying its electric power needs." "That's why it won't back out of existing agreements and build a nuclear power plant with a new partner," he noted.
A new nuclear power plant is to be constructed in Lithuania in a project joined by the two other Baltic states and Poland. Construction work is expected to begin in 2013.
Available at: http://naviny.by/rubrics/english/2010/10/21/ic_news_259_354039/
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