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Nuclear News - 11/2/2010
PGS Nuclear News, November 2, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Agrees to Resume Negotiations on Nuclear Program After Yearlong Break, Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg (11/1/2010)
    2. Iran Does Not Need Nukes To Be 'Strong', PressTV (11/1/2010)
    3. Atom Bomb Would Be Strategic Mistake: Iran Envoy, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (11/1/2010)
    4. No Uranium Plan with Iran: Bolivia, PressTV (11/1/2010)
    5. Israel In No Position to Strike Iran, PressTV (11/1/2010)
    6. Iran Calls on G5+1 for "More Interaction" on Nuclear Talks, Xinhua News Agency (10/31/2010)
    1. Six-Party Talks for the Sake of It Won’t Work: Lee, JoongAng Daily (11/1/2010)
    2. South Korea FM Agrees with U.S., Russian Peers to Resolve North's Nuke Weapons, Yonhap News Agency (10/30/2010)
    3. South Korea Rejects North's Proposal to Resume Military Talks, Kim Deok-hyun, Yonhap News Agency (10/29/2010)
C.  India
    1. Selling Uranium to India More Harmful Than Beneficial, The Economic Times (11/1/2010)
    2. India Will Soon Have Potential to Launch Nuclear Warhead from Land, Air or Water, Hindustan Times (10/31/2010)
    3. No Private Role in Operating Nuclear Plants, Says Minister, Express News Service (10/30/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Areva to Sign China Nuclear Deals - Report, Reuters (11/1/2010)
    2. Singapore PM Says Nuclear Power Plant Possible "During My Lifetime", Platts (11/1/2010)
    3. Vietnam Signs Nuclear Power Deals, UPI (11/1/2010)
    4. German MPs Green Light Nuclear Revival, UPI (10/29/2010)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Iran to Help Bolivia Develop Nuclear Program, PressTV (10/30/2010)
    2. NNSA Welcomes Anne Harrington as Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Programs, United States Industry Coalition (10/25/2010)

A.  Iran

Atom Bomb Would Be Strategic Mistake: Iran Envoy
Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

Building nuclear bombs would be a strategic mistake for Iran, its envoy to the U.N. atomic agency said on Monday, and a leading Western expert said Tehran should be taken seriously when it insists it will not obtain such arms.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested the Islamic Republic could never compete in terms of the numbers of warheads possessed by the nuclear-armed major powers.

It would therefore be at a disadvantage in relation to these countries if it developed atomic bombs, Soltanieh said.

"That is the reason we will never make this strategic mistake," he told a conference at IAEA headquarters in Vienna. "We are as strong as those countries without nuclear weapons."

He was speaking a few days after Iran said it was ready to resume negotiations with the six powers involved in efforts to defuse a long-running dispute over its nuclear programme.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran is seeking nuclear arms capability and wants Tehran to curb its activity.

Iran says its activities are solely aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more oil and gas.

In September, an IAEA report said Iran was pushing ahead with its nuclear work in defiance of tougher sanctions introduced on the major oil exporter in recent months.

It also voiced growing frustration over what the U.N. nuclear watchdog sees as Tehran's failure to address concerns about possible military dimensions to its programme.

Soltanieh said Iran had called on the six powers -- the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia -- to come to the negotiating table without preconditions.


Five of them are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and recognized nuclear weapons states.

If Iran also decided to acquire such arms, would it ever be able to compete with them? Soltanieh asked and added: "I can tell you that 100 percent no ... therefore we would be in a disadvantageous situation."

Gareth Evans, co-chair of an international commission which last year issued a report on eliminating nuclear threats, told the same gathering he believed Iran "is to be taken seriously when it says it will not actually weaponise."

There are "a number of reasons for thinking that Iran will ... stop well short of actually making nuclear weapons that it may soon have the capability to produce," the former Australian foreign minister said in a speech.

They included the risk of an Israeli attack, zero Russian and Chinese tolerance for an Iranian bomb, even tougher international sanctions and the fact that Islam does not accept weapons of mass destruction, he said.

"This is not a factor to which Western cynics would give much credence but I have to say it is echoed very strongly in every private conversation I've ever had with Iranian officials," Evans, a veteran diplomatic trouble-shooter, said.

Any agreement on removing sanctions on Iran would need to be accompanied by it accepting intrusive monitoring and inspection arrangements, Evans said.

He suggested this could give the international community about a year in "lead time in which to respond to any evidence of real intent to move to weaponization."

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Iran Agrees to Resume Negotiations on Nuclear Program After Yearlong Break
Ladane Nasseri
(for personal use only)

Iran would favor opening the next nuclear talks with world powers to all nations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

“If more countries join the talks, better results will be achieved as international issues, which concern different nations, will be discussed,” Mehmanparast was quoted as telling the state-run Mehr news agency yesterday.

Mehmanparast did not elaborate on which nations, aside from the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany, that Iran would like to see at the meeting.

Iran, under pressure from international economic sanctions, agreed to restart talks over its disputed uranium enrichment activities, after Nov. 10, the European Union said last week.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the envoy of the U.S., UK,, France, Russia, China plus Germany on the nuclear program, is in talks with Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili over the timing and location of the nuclear talks, Ali- Akbar Javanfekr, the presidential adviser for press affairs said in an Oct. 30 interview.

Details regarding the meeting “will be announced in coming days,” said Javanfekr, who spoke on the sidelines of a media exhibition in Tehran.

The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran’s nuclear program of being a cover for the development of nuclear weapons, a charge the Persian Gulf country rejects, saying it needs the technology to secure energy for its growing population.

Iran “has never turned away from negotiations,” Javanfekr said. “We have a rational stance and have things that need to be said.”

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Iran Does Not Need Nukes To Be 'Strong'
(for personal use only)

Iran is as strong as world powers even without having the nuclear weapons they have stockpiled, says the Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Speaking at a Monday conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the possession of nuclear weapons would be a "strategic mistake" for Iran and would put the country in a "disadvantageous situation."

"We are as strong as those countries without nuclear weapons," he added.

The US, Israel and their European allies have accused Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

Iran says its nuclear program is completely peaceful and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which it is a signatory.

In its latest report in September, the IAEA reiterated for the 22nd time that the nuclear material in the country are under the agency's supervision and are sealed and observed by its security cameras and observers.

Soltanieh said Iran had called on the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- to come to the negotiating table without preconditions.

Iranian presidential advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr said on Sunday Tehran would not discuss its nuclear program with the P5+1 in the upcoming multifaceted talks.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also said that the multifaceted talks could yield "serious" agreements if the six major world powers show more interaction.

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Israel In No Position to Strike Iran
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Iran's ambassador to the Netherlands has downplayed any Israeli strike against the country, saying Tel Aviv is not in a position to target Tehran.

"The Israelis are wise enough not to attack Iran, because they know the consequences of such an action and that Iran will give them a crushing response," Kazem Gharibabadi said in an interview with The Hague Center for Strategic Studies.

The Iranian diplomat touched upon Israel's defeat against Lebanon's Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 as well as its failure in the Gaza war and said, "The Israeli regime was defeated against Hezbollah's small army. It also faced failure in the Gaza war. With respect to these facts, how can it wage a war against Iran?" he asked.

Gharibabadi dismissed as false the claims that Iran's peaceful nuclear program would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East region, holding Tel Aviv responsible for any likely danger.

"The Israeli regime is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the region and is not a signatory to any international disarmament convention," the Iranian envoy noted.

Former US President Jimmy Carter has confirmed the existence of an Israeli nuclear arsenal, which he says includes between 200 to 300 warheads. Decades of recurrent reporting and aerial footage have also confirmed the possession.

Gharibabadi said the Islamic Republic is not in need of nuclear arms and such weapons have no place in Iran's doctrine.

The Iranian official described the West's stance on Iran's nuclear program as politically motivated.

"It is very surprising that they talk about an imaginary Iranian bomb, while more than 23,000 nuclear warheads are being stockpiled at their arsenals," he concluded.

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No Uranium Plan with Iran: Bolivia
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Bolivia says it has no plans for joint uranium exploitation and exploration projects with Iran, although the two countries have agreed to build a nuclear plant in the South American country.

"The uranium issue is not on the agenda, neither in any agreements. We have not decided on anything about uranium and still we do not have conditions to do it. We do not have any plan for this issue," Xinhua quoted Bolivian Economy Minister Luis Arce as saying on Sunday.

Arce dismissed media reports that Bolivia had launched joint projects with Iran to exploit uranium, saying during the recent visit by Bolivian President Evo Morales to Iran, the two countries held no talks on uranium because Bolivia has no studies or research in hand regarding what its reserves of that substance might be.

"We still haven't talked about uranium. I think that we're still not in shape to do so. We have to make studies, analyses and investigations to be able to speak about uranium," the minister said.

The Bolivian minister expressed his country's regret for efforts by certain politicians from the opposition and some media reports to describe relations between Iran and Bolivia as a threat to world peace.

The remarks came after President Morales confirmed on Saturday that Bolivia plans to build a nuclear plant with Iran's help, stressing the facility would be for peaceful purposes.

"There is nothing to lie about: One of the things we are working on with Iran is of course to have a nuclear plant, to generate energy," Morales said.

The Bolivian president arrived in the Iranian capital, Tehran, for a three-day official visit last Sunday to strengthen bilateral ties and seek more Iranian investment in the South American country.

During his meetings with Iranian officials, Morales invited Iran to establish a stronger presence in Bolivia. The two countries also signed five memoranda of understating following the talks.

Iran, as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, seeks to use the peaceful applications of nuclear energy for electricity generation and medical research.

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Iran Calls on G5+1 for "More Interaction" on Nuclear Talks
Xinhua News Agency
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Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Sunday called on the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany (G5+1) to have "more interaction" with Iran before and during the upcoming nuclear talks for satisfactory results.

Mehmanparast suggested the G5+1 to have "more interaction" with Iran in order to reach a "serious agreement" with the country on its controversial nuclear issue, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The two sides are in touch and if they show more interaction, we can reach a serious agreement about ... the agenda of this round of talks," he was quoted as saying.

Both Iran and the parties "should make more agreements about the time, venue and details of the talks," the spokesman added.

Mehmanparast also noted that Tehran believes the next round of talks will be "good."

"Iran has repeatedly announced its readiness for talks," said the spokesman stressing that the atmosphere of the talks should change from its previous "aggressive tone" into a more " constructive one with the cooperation of all countries," said the report.

"We had announced our readiness for the talks many times," Mehmanparast said, adding that Iran is ready for the talks even before the proposed date.

On Friday, the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in Brussels that Iran has announced that it was ready to resume talks over the nuclear program after Nov. 10.

"Now, what is necessary, for both sides, is to further contact each other, make agreements on the details and content of the talks," Mehmanparast told Fars.

Earlier in the day, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, media adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that Iran will not talk about its nuclear issue in the upcoming meeting with G5+1, unless they announce their views over the atomic weapons Israel possesses and specify whether they are talking with Iran as a friend or an enemy.

"Our talks with G5+1 has a specific framework, and the president (Ahmadinejad) has already detailed ... conditions for the resumption of the talks," Javanfekr said, adding that these " are our conditions for the (resumption) of the talks."

"Parties of the talks (G5+1) should give transparent response to the questions (conditions) of the president concerning the nuclear weapons of Israel and their aims of the talks," he was quoted as saying.

Talking to Fars on Sunday, Javanfekr also emphasized that Iran' s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili had announced that Iran is ready for the talks if the conditions are met.

On Friday, Jalili said in a letter to Ashton that Iran welcomes "the willingness of the G5+1 to return to the talks with Iran."

The United States on Friday welcomed Iran's willingness to resume talks about its nuclear program after a one-year break, saying the U.S. has long sought to have a sustained engagement and discussions with Iran on a range of issues.

"The G5+1 will be at the table, whenever this meeting does take place, prepared to engage seriously," U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters at a press briefing.

"And we hope that Iran will do the same," Crowley added.

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Six-Party Talks for the Sake of It Won’t Work: Lee
JoongAng Daily
(for personal use only)

Wrapping up a three-day summit in Vietnam, President Lee Myung-bak returned to Seoul on Saturday with several diplomatic achievements under his belt - ranging from brokering a tripartite meeting with China and Japan amid those two countries’ territorial and trade rows, to reconfirming efforts to fast-track the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement.

During his three-day stay in Hanoi, Lee attended three summits and promoted his diplomatic initiatives focused on Asia. In addition to summit meetings with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Asean Plus 3 and the East Asia Summit, Lee also sought support for the upcoming G-20 Summit in Seoul.

One of Lee’s major achievements was confirming Korea’s role as a mediator by arranging a trilateral summit of the Northeast Asian powerhouses - China, Japan and Korea. Amid escalated tensions over a territorial dispute and subsequent trade conflict, Beijing unilaterally announced on Friday that it rejected a scheduled summit between Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

But Lee brokered a trilateral meeting, including Korea, to discuss sensitive bilateral issues, along with regional topics. Despite the tense relationship between Japan and China, the three leaders managed to reach an agreement on efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“The three leaders agreed that the six-party talks must not resume just for the sake of having talks,” said Blue House spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung after the trilateral summit Friday night. “They agreed that even if it takes time, the talks should resume when we are ready to bring about progress.”

Since the sinking of the South Korean Navy warship Cheonan in March, Seoul has been reluctant to sit down for the six-party talks unless Pyongyang issues an apology for the sinking. China agreed Friday not to rush potential talks, which appeared to indicate a subtle change in Beijing’s position.

Wen and Kan also discussed Beijing’s recent decision to block exports of rare-earth minerals from China to Japan. Rare-earth minerals are critical in the manufacturing of almost all advanced technological products, ranging from missiles to cell phones. China provides 97 percent of the world’s current supply of rare-earth minerals.

The export ban was prompted by a renewed territorial dispute between Japan and China over an island chain in the East China Sea called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Concerns about China’s willingness to use its economic clout in political or diplomatic disputes have increased as a result.

China Sea called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Concerns about China’s willingness to use its economic clout in political or diplomatic disputes have increased as a result.

“Kan raised the issue that Japan needs a stable supply of the rare earths,” Kim said. “Wen said China will continue to provide rare earths to the international community. He said that by cooperating with large consumers of the rare earths, China will continue to expand its sources of rare earths and try to develop alternative resources.”

After their official bilateral summit was canceled, Wen and Kan had a brief 10-minute encounter on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit on Saturday, according to media reports.

On Saturday, Lee met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and discussed issues of mutual concern. Clinton delivered a message from U.S. President Barack Obama, in which he said he wants to conclude negotiations to fine-tune the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement before the G-20 Summit in Seoul.

Lee added that he was also committed to concluding the deal, Kim said.

In addition to the seemingly nonstop schedule of meetings, Lee worked to get support for Seoul’s hosting of the G-20 Summit later this month, particularly at the East Asia Summit - the annual pan-Asian forum at which 16 regional countries discuss trade, energy and security issues.

The East Asia Summit is made up of the 10 Asean members, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The United States and Russia became official members of the group at Saturday’s meeting.

According to the Blue House, Lee promoted Korea’s initiatives, including the establishment of a global financial safety net, and sought support for other pending issues, including International Monetary Fund quota reform.

During his meetings with the Asean leaders on Friday, Lee and the 10-member association agreed to strengthen Korea’s ties to Asean.

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South Korea FM Agrees with U.S., Russian Peers to Resolve North's Nuke Weapons
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

South Korea's foreign minister met separately with his counterparts from the United States and Russia in Hanoi Saturday and agreed to push for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, South Korean officials said.

The South Korean foreign minister, Kim Sung-hwan, was in Hanoi accompanying President Lee Myung-bak who attended the East Asia Summit involving the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea.

On the sidelines of the summit, Kim met separately with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

During the meetings, the sides agreed that North Korea's sincere intention and actions to denuclearize should be a prerequisite for a resumption of the stalled six-party talks, South Korea's foreign ministry said in a news statement released in Seoul.

In the Kim-Clinton meeting, they agreed to further strengthen their countries' alliance to effectively respond to any threats from North Korea, it said.

"The two ministers pledged to hold another discussion in the near future on topics of mutual interest," a ministry official in Seoul said.

The South Korean official also met with his Russian counterpart, pledging to continue to persuade North Korea to denuclearize, thus promoting peace in Northeast Asia, the ministry statement said.

The six-party talks, which involve the two Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since late 2008.

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South Korea Rejects North's Proposal to Resume Military Talks
Kim Deok-hyun
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

South Korea rejected North Korea's renewed proposal to hold military talks and will stay away until the communist neighbor admits its responsibility for sinking a Seoul warship, the defense ministry said Friday.

Confirming what the North's state media reported earlier in the day, the ministry said it sent a message to Pyongyang on Thursday that it cannot accept the proposal.

The two Koreas held their first working-level military talks in two years on Sept. 30 for discussions on cross-border issues, but the two-hour meeting ended without progress as Pyongyang refused to apologize for its alleged sinking of the Cheonan.

A Seoul-led multinational investigation team concluded in May that the warship was downed by a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine near the Yellow Sea border. Forty-six sailors died in the sinking.

Last week, North Korea's military proposed resuming the talks on Oct. 22. In response, the South's defense ministry requested the North to clarify the agenda for the talks, including taking "responsible measures" for the sinking, but the North refused to do so, according to ministry officials.

"Our stance is that we won't respond to North Korea's dialogue (proposal) unless the North admits to and apologizes for the attack on the Cheonan warship," Army Col. Moon Sang-kyun told reporters.

"Talks would be meaningless if North Korea's stance and attitude on the attack on the Cheonan do not change," Moon said.

Earlier in the day, the North's military charged that Seoul's refusal was "an act of treachery."

"The South Korean puppet military authorities will have to keenly realize what a catastrophic impact their rejection of dialogue will have on the North-South relations," it said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.

Pyongyang had proposed the September military talks, saying it wanted to discuss measures to prevent clashes along the Yellow Sea border and other issues. At the talks, it demanded Seoul ban activist groups from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the North.

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C.  India

Selling Uranium to India More Harmful Than Beneficial
The Economic Times
(for personal use only)

Selling uranium to India would spell more damage than gains for Australia as it would raise the export revenue only marginally while giving out signals to nations like Japan and South Korea that Canberra was not serious on adhering to the non-proliferation treaty, a former diplomat has argued.

According to Richard Broinowski, a professor at Sydney University and a former diplomat to several countries like Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, the uranium sale may encourage other nations to develop nuclear weapons without necessarily fearing a cut-off of Australian supplies rather than follow the NPT.

"If there is an argument for uranium sales to India, it is that the damage has already been done to the NPT and the non-proliferation regime, and Australia might as well get in there and make a few bucks from selling uranium.

"But that argument has its faults," he said. He said that uranium sale would do very little to expand Australia's export revenue - which helps explain why the Australian Uranium Association supports the government's policy of prohibiting uranium sales to countries that have not signed the NPT.

"If Australia supplied one-fifth of India's current demand, uranium exports would increase by a measly 1.8 per cent. Even if all reactors under construction or planned in India come on line, Australia's uranium exports would increase by just 10 per cent," he opined.

The climate change "benefits" would be equally underwhelming, resting as they do on the dodgy premise that Australian uranium would replace coal rather than simply replacing uranium from another source or replacing renewable energy sources, he said.

"Second, while the non-proliferation regime has certainly been damaged, there is no justification for Australia to damage it further.

"Few countries support the opening up of nuclear trade with countries that refuse to sign the NPT. The 118 countries of the Non Aligned Movement voiced objections during the NPT Review Conference in New York this year," he wrote in 'The Age'.

Referring to the US deal to open up civil nuclear trade with India, Broinowski said India made no concessions whatsoever during the deal and it would be naive to imagine Australia could win concessions from India that the US was unable to do.

"Proponents celebrated the expansion of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards achieved under the US-India deal. However, under India's agreement with the IAEA, safeguards will be tokenistic and apply only to that part of the nuclear programme that India considers surplus to its military "requirements," he said.

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India Will Soon Have Potential to Launch Nuclear Warhead from Land, Air or Water
Hindustan Times
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India would soon have the potential to launch a nuclear warhead from land, air or water. For the first time, the country's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chief Srikumar Banerjee spoke about the weaponisation programmes undertaken to ensure minimum credible detterence. The announcement was made at the founder's day celebrations at BARC, India's main n-weapon complex, on Friday.

He said that all the three forces, the Army, Navy and Air Force, will have fully functional delivery systems.

“Our strategic programme will be further strengthened to assure minimum credible deterrents - our triad of the delivery system will be fully functional,” Banerjee said.

This would ensure that missiles carrying nuclear warheads could be delivered by the Army, Navy or Air Force.

The AEC chief also said that entry and exit points to the country, by land, sea and air, will be equipped with scanners of different kinds to provide security against any unauthorised movement of nuclear materials.

In the wake of Pokhran nuclear weapons tests conducted in May 1998, former prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee had said that India would have a minimum credible deterrent and the delivery systems for the Army, Navy and Air Force will be fully functional.

Also, this is for the first time since the embargo on civil nuclear co-operation was lifted in September 2008 that India has talked about its weaponisation programme to ensure minimum credible deterrence.

“Electromagnetic and high power microwave devices will be deployed in our missile defence system,” Banerjee also said. Deployment of electromagnetic and high power microwave devices in missile defence system would help our missiles home into targets with precision, he added.

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No Private Role in Operating Nuclear Plants, Says Minister
Express News Service
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As the country embarks on an ambitious civilian nuclear programme, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan on Friday said while private players could be involved as minority stakeholders, they could not be allowed as plant operators.

Chavan said India would not sign unequal treaties or accept the “two-tier system” of P-5 countries, adding a nuclear component would be present in bilateral exchanges with heads of state such as US president Barack Obama, who is due to arrive in India next week.

He was speaking at the founders’ day lecture of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) here on Friday.

Chavan, who is also the Minister of State for Science and Technology, said India would not accept any conditions while importing nuclear technology. He said environment concerns had to be met and pricing had to be competitive; only then nuclear technology would be imported.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Areva to Sign China Nuclear Deals - Report
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French nuclear reactor maker Areva (CEPFi.PA) will probably sign a $3 billion deal this week with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC) to supply 20,000 tonnes of uranium over 10 years, Les Echos newspaper reported.

The contract signing will come during a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to France starting on Thursday, the newspaper said in a preview of its Tuesday edition.

Areva could also announce progress in talks with CGNPC, one of the country's two major state-owned nuclear companies, to deliver two additional EPR nuclear reactors, Les Echos said, without saying how it obtained the information.

The French group could also restart talks with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the other of China's big nuclear companies, the paper said. Areva was not immediately reachable for comment.

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Singapore PM Says Nuclear Power Plant Possible "During My Lifetime"
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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that nuclear power is a viable, clean source of energy that produces low carbon emissions, and the island state "cannot afford to dismiss the option of nuclear energy altogether."

In addition, while a nuclear power project is not scheduled to start any time soon, a nuclear plant could be built in Singapore "during my lifetime," Lee said in response to a question as to when Singapore could consider building a nuclear power plant.

Lee was speaking at the Singapore Energy Lecture of the annual Singapore International Energy Week.

Nuclear energy is one of the viable solutions to global energy needs and to tackle global warming, as it is a clean source of energy which produces low carbon emissions, Lee said.

Yet, harnessing nuclear energy is a highly complex and long-term enterprise, and there are significant issues relating to safety and disposal of nuclear waste, the prime minister added.

"But without nuclear energy, the world cannot make sufficient progress in dealing with global warming," he said.

As such, Singapore should keep up with new developments, advancing technologies on new, smaller and safer nuclear reactors with more fuel-efficient designs that reduce the amount of waste produced, Lee said.

Singapore could also apply a "carbon price" for energy produced, if there is a global regime to curb carbon emissions, he said.

"We (will) need to impose a charge to induce consumers to change their behavior," Lee said, adding this could be achieved through a carbon tax or through a cap and trade scheme.

Presently, Singapore does not impose a carbon tax, but the government calculate a "shadow price" for carbon in its cost-benefit analysis to form policies and decision making process, the prime minister said.

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Vietnam Signs Nuclear Power Deals
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Vietnam signed nuclear power deals with Russia and Japan, leaders from the three countries said.

Both deals were announced Sunday in Hanoi as Russian and Japanese leaders attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

Under a $5 billion agreement, Russia will build Vietnam's first nuclear power plant, with two power units, each with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts. Construction is expected to start in 2014.

"If we reach the goals we have set, this power plant will account for a great share of Vietnam's energy market and will allow it to develop as a modern state that not only produces and processes oil but also uses other energy sources, which is very important in today's world," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said of the deal during a news conference broadcast on Russian state television, Voice of America reports.

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet also praised the agreement, saying it "demonstrates the special ties we have with Russia" and "indicates the confidence that Vietnam has in Russia's technology."

Vietnam's agreement with Japan for nuclear reactor construction is worth an estimated $14.4 billion and calls for two reactors in the southeastern Vietnamese province of Ninh Thuan with a combined output of 2 gigawatts, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper of Japan reports. They are scheduled to go online in 2021.

Observers regard the civil nuclear reactor deal as a major accomplishment for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration. It represents the first significant order since Japan set out on a policy of supporting exports of its technology overseas, the Financial Times reports.

Vietnam aims to generate as much as 20 percent of its energy from nuclear power by 2030 and to build 14 nuclear reactors by that time.

The country's demand for electricity is growing at an estimated rate of 15 percent a year. It faces frequent power outages and blackouts.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says half of Vietnam's domestic energy consumption comes from oil. Hydropower supplies about 20 percent of Vietnam's power, coal supplies about 18 percent and natural gas accounts for the remainder.

The United States and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding in March for cooperation in the nuclear power sector but Vietnam must first sign a formal Section 123 agreement before it can import nuclear technology from the United States.

Hanoi has previously signed bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, China, France, India, South Korea and Argentina.

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German MPs Green Light Nuclear Revival
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After a rowdy parliamentary debate and a media-heavy publicity stunt by Greenpeace, German lawmakers approved the government's plan to extend the lifetime of nuclear power in Germany.

Government parliamentarians threw their weight behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy bill that was adopted Thursday on a 308-289 vote. It would extend running times of the country's 17 nuclear reactors by 12 years on average.

The country had seen large anti-nuclear demonstrations in the weeks before the vote. On Thursday, 12 Greenpeace activists climbed the roof of Merkel's party headquarters and unfolded a large protest banner. Greenpeace says the bill mainly benefits Germany's four main utilities running the reactors -- Eon, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall Europe.

A few miles north, in the Reichstag, opposition lawmakers voiced similar objections. They're furious at the government for prolonging nuclear power after a previous government together with the utilities in 2000 had agreed that all reactors must go offline by 2021.

"You are dividing society where it was already agreed," said a fuming Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats and a former environment minister.

Juergen Trittin, of the Green Party, who, like his party colleagues, wore symbolic black, called the bill a "gift to the utilities" that "won't last four years."

The utilities with their reactors are expected to make tens billions of dollars in extra profits and had to agree only to moderate tax payments in return for longer running times.

The government argues the opposition is using the nuclear issue for political gains. It notes that the bill is mainly about green energy as it includes several ambitious measures to boost energy efficiency, increase the share of renewable energy generation and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"We in Germany will realize the most efficient, most climate-friendly and most competitive energy supply that exists in any industrialized nation in the world," Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said. He added the opposition was "stoking fears, not because it helps the people but because you think it helps you."

Germany aims to boost the share of renewables to 80 percent of the electricity consumption by 2050, halve the country's energy consumption by 2050 and reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

The government, however, with its nuclear decision goes against the majority of the population.

Germans are largely opposed to nuclear power and have staged several large-scale protests ahead of the vote.

The nuclear industry in exchange for longer running times agreed to pay around $380 million per year to support renewables and climate protection efforts, with total contributions to amount to $19 billion, the government said. The industry agreed to pay a new "fuel rod" tax of around $2.5 billion per year starting in 2011. The tax is less than expected and limited to six years, a clear negotiation victory for the utilities, observers say.

The opposition has vowed to challenge the bill n court if it isn't discussed in the upper house of parliament. Merkel's government would like to pass on talks in the Bundesrat since it recently lost its majority there.

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