As Iran started injecting fuel into the core of its Bushehr nuclear power plant, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington does not see the reactor as a threat.
Clinton pointed out that the United States has no problem with Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant because its Russian uranium fuel will be returned after it is used.
"What they (Iranians) are doing is starting a reactor that is, based on everything we know about it and everything that the Russians have informed us about it since they have worked with the Iranians over many years to build this reactor, strictly for peaceful purposes," she said in a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindeleggar in New York on Tuesday.
The US official's remarks came hours after the Islamic Republic began injecting fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
Fuel assemblies were earlier transferred to the Bushehr nuclear plant under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The power plant will become operational once all 163 fuel assemblies are injected to its core. According to Iranian officials, the reactor will begin generating electricity in early 2011.
"Our problem is with their (Iranians) facilities at places like Natanz, and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons program," she said.
Clinton further expressed hope that future talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries - Russia, China, France, Britain and the US plus Germany - would be resumed soon.
On October 14, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposed a three-day round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 over Tehran's nuclear program to be held in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna, expressing hope that Tehran would "respond positively" to the offer.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki then welcomed the new offer for the resumption of talks and expresses hope that Tehran and the P5+1 would come to an agreement on the date, place and the content of the proposed talks.
Iranian officials have repeatedly refuted the Western allegations, stressing that Tehran is only interested in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/148444.html
Iranian Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazaei has called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to pay attention to international demands.
"Adoption of a resolution at the committees of the UN General Assembly in condemnation of nuclear weapons of the Zionist regime (Israel) shows the international community's call that the Security Council should pay heed to it," IRIB website quoted Khazaei as saying on Wednesday.
"The resolution indicated concern of the international community over nuclear weapons of the Zionist regime in the Middle East region," he added.
"Officials of the Zionist regime are not committed to any international regulations. This has led to an international consensus against measures of the regime," the Iranian diplomat went on to say.
Khazaei pointed to the US unilateral support for Israel and added, "The adoption of the resolution was a serious alarm to Israel and its allies to stop paying no attention to the world public opinion."
The international community agreed in May to put pressure on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In a 28-page statement, all 189 NPT signatories reached a deal for the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
The statement also highlighted "the importance of Israel's accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards."
Despite signing the agreement, Washington has sharply criticized mentioning Tel Aviv in the statement.
"We strongly oppose efforts to single out Israel and will oppose actions that jeopardize Israel's national security," US President Barack Obama said in late May.
Israel is widely believed to be the sixth-largest nuclear power in the world and the sole possessor of an atomic arsenal in the Middle East.
For 40 years, with the help of Washington, Tel Aviv has successfully prevented its undeclared arsenal of approximately 200 atomic warheads from becoming public.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/148433.html
3. China's Cut in Iranian Oil Imports Is Nuclear `Warning,' Petromatrix Says
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A reduction in China’s imports of crude oil from Iran may be a “warning sign” regarding the Middle Eastern country’s pursuit of nuclear technology, according to consultants Petromatrix GmbH.
China cut crude imports from Iran in the period from January to September compared with a year ago even as the world’s biggest energy consumer shipped in more oil, Petromatrix said. It decreased supplies from Iran to 415,000 barrels a day, from 499,000 a day last year, Petromatrix said, citing data from the Beijing-based Customs General Administration.
“It might be a first warning sign,” Olivier Jakob, Petromatrix’s managing director, said in a telephone interview from Zug, Switzerland. “China is still importing a lot. It might be showing to Iran, ‘you’re not going to participate in our growth.’”
The United Nations in June passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran that restrict financial transactions. The U.S. on July 1 passed additional sanctions targeting fuel importers and banks, and European Union governments followed by banning investment and sales of equipment to Iran’s oil and natural-gas industries.
BP Plc said today it’s too early to know whether its North Sea Rhum natural-gas field venture with Iranian Oil Co. U.K. Ltd. will shut because of European Union measures against the Middle Eastern nation.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-26/china-s-cut-in-iranian-oil-imports-is-nuclear-warning-petromatrix-says.html
Iran began loading fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant on Tuesday, moving closer to the start-up of a facility that the U.S. once hoped to stop over fears of Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Iranian and Russian engineers started moving nuclear fuel into the main reactor building in August but a reported leak in a storage pool delayed injection of the fuel into the reactor.
"Fuel injection into the core of the reactor has begun," the state television announced.
The U.S. withdrew its opposition to the plant after Russia satisfied concerns over how it would be fueled and the fate of the spent fuel rods.
Worries remain, however, over Iran's program to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel since the process can also be used to create weapons grade material.
Iran says the 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant, built with the help of Russia, will begin generating electricity in early 2011 after years of delays.
Under a contract signed between Iran and Russia in 1995, the Bushehr nuclear power plant was originally scheduled to come on stream in July 1999 but the start-up has been delayed repeatedly by construction and supply glitches.
Iranian officials have sporadically criticized Russia for the delays, some calling Moscow an "unreliable partner" and others accusing Russia of using the reactor as a lever in nuclear diplomacy with Iran.
Russia began shipping fuel for the plant in 2007.
At the plant's inauguration on Aug. 21, Iran's Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi had said loading the fuel into the reactor core would take place over two weeks and the plant would then produce electricity two months later in November.
Earlier this month, he said that the start up was postponed because of a small leak. Originally there had been speculation that a computer worm found on the laptops of several plant employees might have been behind the delay.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hKU6Wspok1KXOxdVk5c-vx0AfaSA?docId=451a15d2080e4f9ba82d814efe639d73
5. Qatar Will Not Permit US to Launch Attacks Against Iran From Its Territory
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Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, declared to the daily The Financial Times that the US would not be allowed to use its base in Qatar to launch attacks against Iran. He recommended the US reconstruct its relations with Teheran. "As a neighbor to Iran, and we have lived with Iranians for a long time together, we believe that the best thing is dialogue. The Americans should speak with Iran. The Iranians are all the time mentioning that their nuclear (program) is there for peaceful purposes. What is the role of the United Nations, the Security Council? They should go and check this".
Discharging the notion that Iran poses a threat to the region, the Emir said it is Israel to be aware of, since it possesses the most dangerous weapons, the nuclear ones. He declared that Qatar never thought to support the US against Teheran or the Lebanese Hezbollah. Regarding Tel Aviv, the Emir of Qatar said his country was the only one in the region to entertain a trade office with Israel and still, during Israel's military offensive against the Gaza Strip, was not allowed to send mobile clinics to the Gaza Strip to help the injured or send food supplies to feed the needy.
Available at: http://www.arabmonitor.info/news/dettaglio.php?idnews=31974&lang=en
1. No Fundamental Change in DPRK's Nuclear Position: South Korean FM
Xinhua News Agency
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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has no fundamental change in its position on denuclearization, South Korea's new foreign minister said Wednesday.
"Considering North Korea (DPRK)'s U.N. speech on Sept. 29 and what it has since been saying, I believe there has been no significant change in its position," foreign minister Kim Sung- hwan told reporters in his first official press briefing after taking office.
"The government believes that the North (Korea) should show its will for denuclearization through action rather than words," Kim added.
He made the remarks amid expectation that the stalled six-party denuclearization talks, involving China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, might soon resume, following the DPRK leader Kim Jong-il's reported show of willingness to return to the negotiating table.
The upcoming summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi will provide a chance for officials involved in the six-party talks to meet and exchange opinions on the issue, the minister said.
Kim, who came to power after a high-profile nepotism scandal forced his predecessor Yu Myung-hwan out of his job, did not offer any drastically new comment on the inter-Korean relations, currently at low ebb following Pyongyang's alleged torpedo attack in March on a South Korean warship, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.
He said he will continue to urge the DPRK to "take responsible measures" regarding the alleged attack, which Pyongyang denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, the DPRK is going through an apparent power transition, but the South Korean government "will have to wait and see" what kind of changes it will bring about, the minister said.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-10/27/c_13578090.htm
2. Lee MB, Clinton to Discuss 6-Way Talks on Margins of East Asian Summit: State Department
Yonhap News Agency
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Vietnam later this week to discuss the resumption of the six-party nuclear talks and other bilateral and regional issues, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
The one-on-one meeting will take place on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Hanoi for three days from Thursday, Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told reporters.
"One of the things that Secretary Clinton will want to discuss with her Korean counterpart and also with the president is Korean views on the way forward associated with both their direct diplomacy with North Korea, and also the prospect for resumption of six-party talks," Campbell said.
The six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs have been deadlocked since early last year, when Pyongyang walked out over U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests.
Conditions deteriorated in recent months with the sinking of the warship Cheonan, blamed on North Korea. Seoul and Washington have called on the North to apologize for the sinking and show a commitment to denuclearization before returning to the nuclear talks. Pyongyang denies any role.
North Korea in recent weeks made conciliatory gestures with the invitation of scores of foreign journalists to broadcast a massive military parade and other events attended by leader Kim Jong-il and his heir and youngest son, Jong-un.
North Korea also proposed a military dialogue with South Korea and talks on a new round of family reunions for those separated by the division of the Korean Peninsula.
The conservative Lee administration also sent 5,000 tons of food aid to North Korea, the first aid since his inauguration in early 2008.
Lee's liberal predecessors provided about 400,000 tons of food and fertilizer each to North Korea every year, but he suspended the shipments and conditioned the resumption on the North's commitment to nuclear dismantlement.
"We've welcomed some of the preliminary steps that have taken place between the North and the South," Campbell said, reiterating his position that Pyongyang should improve ties with Seoul before returning to the nuclear talks.
"I think we have stated very clearly and categorically what our position is in terms of what we need to see," he said. "It is also the case that we are extraordinarily closely linked with South Korea in our overall strategy. And I think we're just looking forward to this next step in terms of the secretary's interactions to make sure that we go forward together."
Campbell said North Korea is still opaque to him despite reports of the third-generation power transition to Jong-un.
"I think this is not something that is going to reveal itself overnight," he said. "It's going to take a substantial period of diplomacy, interaction and consultations with friends and allies."
Reports indicate that North Korea is preparing for another nuclear test at a site where two nuclear bombs were detonated, one in 2006 and another last year, as the 27-year-old heir seeks support from the military, a possible motive for the torpedoeing of the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors.
Kim Jong-un last month was given the rank of four-star general and named vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party.
The party post to control the 1.2 millionong military is seen as a sure road to leadership of the communist North, just as in China, where Vice President Xi Jinping was appointed to the same position of the Chinese Communist Party earlier this month to replace Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2012.
The North recently began new construction at Yongbyon, where a nuclear cooling tower was demolished in 2008 as part of the six-party process, apparently to resume extracting plutonium for nuclear bombs. The North is believed to have produced several nuclear warheads.
"We expect that one of the issues that will come up in all of our stops is an opportunity to exchange views about what we are witnessing in terms of developments inside North Korea," Campbell said. "We will try to maintain very clear coordination and discipline on our overall approach to prospective diplomacy with North Korea."
Clinton will embark on a two-week tour of Asia Wednesday that will bring her to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.
The tour comes amid growing rivalry between the U.S. and China in East Asia over disputed islands in the South China and East China seas and the currency war ignited by U.S. calls for China to sharply appreciate its yuan.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/10/27/13/0301000000AEN20101027000100315F.HTML
Myanmar is carrying out a secret atomic weapons programme that could "really speed up" if the army-ruled country is aided by North Korea, according to a top nuclear scientist.
The comments follow a June documentary by the Norwegian-based news group Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) that said Myanmar was trying to develop nuclear weapons, citing a senior army defector and years of "top secret material".
Robert Kelley, a former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), inspected the files smuggled out of Myanmar by Sai Thein Win and said the evidence indicated "a clandestine nuclear programme" was underway.
"This is not a well-developed programme. I don't think it's going very well," he told the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand late Tuesday.
"But if another country steps in and has all of the knowledge, the materials, and maybe the key to some of the things that are plaguing them, including bad management, this programme could really speed up."
Kelley said North Korea was "certainly the country I have in mind".
Myanmar, which is holding its first elections in two decades on November 7, has dismissed the reports of its nuclear intentions and brushed aside Western concerns about possible cooperation with North Korea.
The DVB documentary gathered thousands of photos and defector testimony, some regarding Myanmar's network of secret underground bunkers and tunnels, which were allegedly built with the help of North Korean expertise.
The United States has expressed concern about military ties between the two pariah states, and said it was assessing the nuclear allegations against Myanmar, which would be "tremendously destabilising" to the region.
The Southeast Asian nation has also come under fire for the upcoming polls, which Western governments believe are a sham aimed at entrenching the rule of the army generals behind a civilian guise.
Kelley doubted their nuclear programme would succeed without outside help.
"I think it's safe to say the people of Thailand are safe for the next few years because these people don't know what they're doing. I wouldn't want to give them more than a few more years," he said.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hYCGxKn9EzxJqbPAfqM74WICGkcA?docId=CNG.e3cbbf9f1076ed9b3efd06509091aa95.451
2. Argentina to Start Uranium Enrichment Next Year
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Argentina is going ahead with plans to start enriching uranium as the first major step toward expanding its nuclear program.
Argentine officials indicated enrichment of the fuel would be for civilian use and a precursor to Argentina building more nuclear power stations to add to the current inventory of two plants in operation. A third nuclear power generation facility is scheduled to come on stream.
Announcing the program, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called the country's existing and planned nuclear power plants "strategic nuclear resources," an unusual term for what the government says is a clearly civilian-use nuclear program.
Argentina under military dictatorship came close to developing nuclear facilities for military purposes. The project was put on the back burner but never abandoned when elected representatives succeeded military rule.
Since last year, however, Argentina has embarked a major review of its military infrastructure while carrying on a vigorous campaign to advance its claim of sovereignty over the British-ruled Falkland Islands.
Argentina and Britain went to war over the islands in 1982 after a junta-backed Argentine military force seized control of the territories and was beaten back by Britain. The 74-day conflict led to more than 1,000 deaths but didn't silence Argentine claims over the Falklands.
British-backed exploration for hydrocarbons in the Falkland Islands waters gave new momentum to Argentine claims.
Fernandez said the planned start of uranium enrichment in 2011 signaled the relaunch of Argentina's nuclear program.
"We are returning to Argentina a right that we should never have renounced, such as managing strategic nuclear resources that had been abandoned during the 1990s," she said in a televised speech when she visited the Pilcaniyeu uranium enrichment plant in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro.
Officials said the enrichment process would be to produce fuel for Argentina's two existing reactors and a third scheduled to be commissioned next year.
Both of Argentina's existing nuclear power plants, the Siemens-built Atucha I and Embalse in the province of Cordoba, are in need of extensive refurbishment. The 360-megawatt Atucha I, commissioned in 1974, and the 650-megawatt Embalse, started a decade later, contribute only a small part to Argentina's electricity consumption.
Critics cite inefficiencies and waste of resources among problems that have prevented the two plants from operating to full capacity. Refurbishment and upgrade will cost tens of millions of dollars that Argentina doesn't have.
It remains unclear if Argentina's military nuclear development plan is also up for review. The plan was launched in the 1990s and its existence was neither confirmed nor denied.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2010/10/26/Argentina-to-start-uranium-enrichment-next-year/UPI-64461288128980/
3. U.S. Cautious About South Korea's Pyroprocessing Technology for Spent Nuke Fuel: State Department
Yonhap News Agency
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The United States said Tuesday it was still cautious about South Korea's plans to introduce pyroprocessing technology for spent nuclear fuel.
"Let me just say that that's an issue of ongoing diplomacy between the two sides, very technical," Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters. "We're working closely to ensure that there is an understanding of what expectations are, not only to the United States, but other authorities associated with this going forward."
The remarks came just one day after the sides concluded the first formal talks here on rewriting a bilateral nuclear pact that expires in 2014.
The State Department earlier in the day released a readout of the talks between Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, and Cho Hyun, deputy foreign minister for multilateral and global affairs.
The statement said that the sides "discussed a proposed joint study of nuclear power reactor spent fuel disposition options, including pyroprocessing."
"They agreed that technical experts would meet soon to work out the scope of the study and the venue and schedule for completing it," it said. "Both sides expect the new agreement to ensure the continuance and further development of the robust bilateral cooperation they have enjoyed in atomic energy for more than fifty years, as well as to further contribute to the strengthening of their alliance by enhancing cooperation in nuclear research and development, industry and commerce in the future."
A 1974 nuclear agreement bans Seoul from enriching uranium or reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
Facing a lack of storage facilities, South Korea hopes to adopt pyroprocessing technology, considered to be less conducive to proliferation because it leaves separated plutonium, the main ingredient in making atomic bombs, mixed with other elements.
The Bush administration did not oppose South Korea building facilities to research pyroprocessing technology, but the Obama administration is said to be less favorable to pyroprocessing, seeing little difference with traditional reprocessing in terms of proliferation, and favors interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.
Washington fears South Korea's reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel might undermine global nonproliferation efforts and provoke North Korea and Japan.
South Korea, which produces 36 percent of its energy at 20 nuclear power plants, has to deal with more than 10,000 tons of nuclear waste at storage facilities that are expected to reach capacity in 2016.
Also, South Korea, which won a US$20 billion contract in December to build four nuclear reactors for the United Arab Emirates, has complained that the constraint on reprocessing has blocked its nuclear exports.
The U.S. maintains agreements with India, Japan and some European countries for the provision of technological assistance for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/10/27/26/0301000000AEN20101027000200315F.HTML
A conference with support of the Institute of Radiation Problems of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences will take place in Baku on 8 November.
The three-day conference will bring together scientists from Turkey, Russia, Austria, Korea and other countries.
Participants will hear presentations on status and prospects of atomic energy, problems of atomic and radiation security, radioecological situations. UK Embassy to Azerbaijan will demonstrate film on climate changes.
Available at: http://www.news.az/articles/society/25428
2. Nod for Malaysia's First Nuclear Power Plant Likely Soon
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The Cabinet is set to give its green light to build the country’s first nuclear power plant by 2021 as stipulated in the recently unveiled Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), but the choice of location remains a secret.
“The Cabinet has more or less agreed that nuclear power is an option,” Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said at a question and answer session after delivering his keynote address at the ABB Executive Forum yesterday.
He explained that the Government was deliberately looking at nuclear power as an option not only to meet Malaysia’s growing electricity demand post-2020, but also to further diversify the country’s energy mix as well as to ensure future energy security.
“It is very important for us to have a balanced power-generation mix to ensure reliability and security of supply to the people,” Chin explained.
He pointed out that Malaysia was presently “far too dependent on fossil fuels” for power generation, with 95% of the country’s power plant being fuelled by gas (58%) and coal (37%).
According to the ETP handbook, the Nuclear Power Development Steering Committee was already studying the possibility of delivering a twin-unit nuclear power plant with a total capacity of two gigawatts. The first unit is expected to be operational by 2021.
The plan laid out a development timeline of 11 to 12 years from pre-project commissioning.
“But we need to remember to sensitise the nation towards about what it means to deploy nuclear as a power source,” Chin conceded.
He added that his ministry was actively preparing the groundwork and engaging the public and educating them about the pros and cons of having nuclear power in the country.
“Our people have to accept the source without any fear of its traditionally (perceived) risks,” he said.
When asked about the choice of location of the proposed nuclear plant, Chin stressed that it was still a “P&C” (private and confidential) matter due to public sensitivity with regards to nuclear power.
On the cost of the nuclear plant, he said it was still early to talk about it. He expects the initial capital expenditure to be substantial but the operational cost, going forward, “to be quite manageable”.
According to the ETP handbook, building the twin-unit nuclear plant would require an investment of RM21.3bil up to 2020.
On the sale of the 2,400 MW Bakun hydroelectric dam to Sarawak government, Chin clarified that his ministry was not involved in the negotiation, as the Bakun dam was owned by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd.
Available at: http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/10/27/business/7303046&sec=business
3. Japan, Vietnam PMs to Discuss Nuclear Energy, Minerals
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The leaders of Japan and Vietnam are expected to discuss a nuclear energy pact and the joint development of rare earth minerals when they meet in Hanoi this weekend, a Japanese official said Tuesday.
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan will visit the Vietnamese capital for meetings of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations starting Thursday and a wider 16-nation East Asia Summit (EAS) on Saturday.
In Hanoi, Kan also plans to hold talks on Sunday with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, and "discuss an early signing of the pact between the two governments," a Japanese official said on condition of anonymity.
Japan and Vietnam have already reached a basic agreement on a nuclear energy pact.
Asked if the joint development of rare earth minerals will be one of the subjects, the Japanese official said it will be "highly likely," without elaborating.
The Japan-Vietnam summit follows a halt in shipments of rare earth minerals from China to Japan last month, according to Japanese industry sources, amid a simmering diplomatic row over disputed islets in the East China Sea.
Without fresh imports from China Japan's stockpile of rare earth minerals, which are used in the manufacture of high-tech goods, could dry up by March or April, a senior Japanese government official has warned.
"I have actively raised the subject in meetings with leaders of resource-rich countries, such as the possibility of jointly developing the resources," Kan earlier told reporters about rare earth minerals.
China controls more than 95 percent of the global market for the minerals.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i8fJiJqtnibahF0xdio-NXj7_NUg?docId=CNG.5a8fb2fbd292773edd5b18a29f896aaa.1a1
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