Iran's Foreign Ministry says Tehran will continue its peaceful nuclear program, rejecting the possibility that the country may be harmed by further sanctions.
Addressing reporters during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said Iran has always pursued its nuclear program in full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Mehman-Parast added that Iran's nuclear energy plan should not be politicized, asserting that imposing new sanctions against Iran would not be a "constructive" approach.
"If they follow such an approach and try to deprive themselves of Iran's potential they will harm themselves and nobody else… This approach is not an affective path. It is not the right thing to do either," he said.
"Instead of recognizing the rights of committed nations who have had full cooperation with the IAEA and instead of meeting their requirements, they would be politicizing the issue," he added.
Mehman-Parast said Tehran welcomes talks on its nuclear package, and is willing to accept a staged nuclear fuel swap, if its demands are met.
"Iran is ready to exchange its 3.5 percent enriched fuel with uranium that had been processed to a level of 19.75 percent, if the other side agrees to a staged transfer," he explained.
The Islamic Republic insists its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes and rejects Western claims that it intends to pursue a military agenda.
The US and its allies are constantly threatening Iran with the possibility of imposing sanctions on the country.
The two sides of the dispute came close to ending their standoff by sealing a deal back in August, but the powers' refusal to appease Iran's concerns over details of the agreement led to a temporary breakdown in talks.
The draft deal required Iran to send most of its domestically-enriched low-grade uranium out of the country for further refinement of up to 20 percent.
Iran needs the higher-enriched fuel for use at the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for medical purposes.
Despite having accepted the general aspects of the draft, Iran refused to officially accept the proposal, as its concerns about the other side's commitment to its obligations were not addressed.
Tehran wanted "concrete guarantees" that it would receive the promised fuel in exchange for the low-grade uranium it sends out of the country.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=115950§ionid=351020104
2. IAEA Did Not Receive Information of Uranium Deliveries by Kazakhstan to Iran
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IAEA did not receive information of deliveries of uranium by Kazakhstan to Iran. The official representative of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Askar Abdrahmanov, informed.
The diplomat named the information that Kazakhstan carried out negotiations with the Islamic Republic Iran concerning uranium delivery an "insinuation".
He underlined that all the references of this information are anonymous that demonstrate unauthenticity of this information. "The references to the anonymous sources and unknown documents show groundlessness of these insinuations," he said.
As informed earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan denied the information of the negotiations of Kazakhstan with Iran on uranium sales.
"All activities of Kazakhstan in the uranium sphere are conducted according to the IAEA standards," Y. Ashikbayev said, making comments on the information of Associated Press on negotiations on uranium sale by Kazakhstan to the Islamic Republic Iran.
According to RosBusinessConsulting that cited Associated Press, Iran and Kazakhstan have secretly agreed on delivery to the Islamic Republic of 1350 tons of purified uranium concentrate for $450 million. The parties plan to sign the documents within the next weeks, the report prepared by the special services for IAEA states.
Available at: http://www.kt.kz/index.php?lang=eng&uin=1141192228&chapter=1153507013
There are signs that negotiations with Iran over a nuclear fuel swap have resumed despite the expiration of the end-of-year deadline for a deal set by President Barack Obama.
While the Obama administration has stepped up talk of expanding sanctions on the regime’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iranian news reports and U.S. official sources say that Iran has recently returned a formal counter offer to swap low enriched uranium, or LEU, in exchange for nuclear fuel cells produced in the West.
The proposal comes as Iranian news reports say that the Iranian foreign ministry has announced that it is giving the international community two months to consider its fuel swap proposal before undertaking the higher enrichment for its nuclear medical program itself.
A U.S. nonproliferation hand confirmed Sunday that Iran had offered a formal response in late December or early January. While the Iranian fuel-swap response was said to have been conveyed by the highest levels of the Iranian government, U.S. officials contacted Sunday gave no public indication that they have any interest in the counter-offer.
“The Iranians have been saying different things for weeks, but what matters is whether they will accept the IAEA's proposed TRR deal, which they agreed to in principle on October 1 but then walked away from,” an administration official said. “They know what they need to do to satisfy the international communities concerns and to date they have not done so.”
The Tehran Research Reactor proposal, or TRR, calls on Iran to immediately send 1,200 kg of its LEU to Russia, and France would in return supply Iran with nuclear fuel cells for medical use. The plan would have left Iran without enough fissile material to enrich for use in a nuclear weapon, putting time back on the clock for international negotiations on the nation’s nuclear program.
Iran’s counter-offer also proposes sending the 1,200 kg abroad – probably to Turkey – but in batches, starting with a first shipment of 400 kg. The offer seems to establish Iran’s willingness to export the LEU out of the country, which would satisfy a key Western condition.
“My understanding is that they [U.S. officials] have not given up on the TRR deal,” one Washington Iran hand said on condition of anonymity Sunday. “They need it. So if there was a chance of salvaging something …. They still want to get a deal.”
“As long as under no situation over the next year there is enough LEU to produce a bomb, whether Iran ships out the fuel in one, two or three batches, is just a logistical issue,” he said.
NSC nuclear czar Gary Samore and his shop and the U.S. mission to the IAEA in Vienna would be best placed to handle talks about a deal, it was suggested.
One source told POLITICO that an agreement between Iran and the “P5+1” - as the group composed of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. is known - could be announced in “the very near future.”
While Iranian negotiators tentatively approved the TRR deal in October, the proposal came under fire in the Iranian parliament, and Iran hadn’t until now formally replied to the offer.
The closed nature of Iran’s nuclear program and the political upheaval there since the disputed June elections have made it difficult to interpret the nature of that silence, which could be a delaying device, a failure to achieve consensus with the government, or an attempt to win domestic political points by holding out on a deal until after the deadline had passed.
The U.S., for its part, has been working to balance a level of support for political dissidents in Iran with its negotiations with the government on its nuclear program.
Iranian news reports last week cited Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, saying Iran was offering the west a two-month period to consider its offer as a goodwill gesture.
“On the request of certain impartial countries who asked Iran not to enrich uranium for two months in order to give the West some time to respond, [Mehmanparasat] said, ‘To show our goodwill to the international community, we agreed with this request, and one month has passed since that time and one month is left,’” the Tehran Times reported last Monday. “’If the other side responds to Iran’s request in the remaining time, we will start the work. Otherwise, we will make the necessary decision.’”
Nonproliferation experts contacted Sunday said they were not aware of a halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment.
In its analysis of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report, however, the nonproliferation group ISIS noted that Iran was holding its enrichment rate steady and was not using all of the centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment facility. But it wasn’t clear if technical problems or a political decision or something else accounted for the unused centrifuges.
“There’s a lot more uncertainty now about whether the slow-down in the operation of centrifuges has its origins in technical difficulties, the change in leadership of the Iranian nuclear program, or an Iranian decision to deliberately slow the program down in order to give diplomatic solution a chance to work,” ISIS’s Jacqueline Shire told POLITICO Sunday.
The administration official did not say whether the U.S. had indications that Iran had halted or drastically slowed down its uranium enrichment.
The Iranian proposal to send the LEU to Turkey, a Muslim nation that’s been increasing its economic ties to Iran, could help set the stage for any agreement.
“I believe that Turkey can be an important player in trying to move Iran” away from what the U.S. and other nations suspect is a nuclear weapons program, President Obama said after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in December.
Available at: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/31334.html
A senior Iranian lawmaker says that Iran will enrich uranium up to 20 percent purity to power the Tehran Research Reactor should Western countries refuse to supply the country with the required nuclear fuel.
“The Tehran reactor produces medicine for 800,000 people. The parties engaged in negotiations with Iran to supply the 20 percent [enriched] fuel are advised to stop the procrastination. Otherwise, Iran will begin 20 percent enrichment,” the chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee told IRNA on Sunday.
MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi rejected the allegations made by Western media outlets and officials that Tehran is ready to swap uranium in a third country, such as Turkey.
“Iran's stance that the nuclear fuel swap must take place in Iranian territory will not change. The West should try to find a way out of the current stalemate rather than creating a brouhaha,” he stated.
Tehran rejected a December 31 deadline set by the United States for Iran to accept a deal to swap its low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel outside Iran. The Islamic Republic calls for “concrete guarantees” for the return of its fuel, since in the past, some Western countries have reneged on their nuclear commitments to Tehran.
Under a draft deal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran would have been required to send most of its domestically-produced low-enriched uranium abroad, where it would have been processed into fuel rods with a purity of 20 percent.
The 20 percent enriched uranium would have been transported back to Iran to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, which manufactures medical radioisotopes.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=115851§ionid=351020104
5. Lawmaker Lauds Iran's Move to Set Up Fordo Nuclear Plant
Fars News Agency
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A senior Iranian legislator on Monday hailed construction of a new uranium enrichment plant in Fordo, near the holy city of Qom, as a wise move made by Tehran to defuse enemies' threats.
"Given the threats posed by the enemies against our country's indigenous and advanced nuclear technology, the (Iranian) authorities moved to set up a new site for (uranium) enrichment in a strategic and well-calculated measure," Rapporteur of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Kazzem Jalali told reporters.
Jalali further said that the commission members visited the new nuclear site on Monday and were briefed by the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and his deputies about the latest developments as well as the ongoing construction process at the site.
He noted that the speed of the project is favorable, and expressed the hope that the site would go online in the near future.
The Fordo site will be Iran's second uranium enrichment plant - after the Natanz facility in central Iran - for the production of nuclear fuel enriched to a 5 percent grade.
The Islamic Republic informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the plant's existence September 21, long before the due time specified in the IAEA rules and regulations.
Tehran also informed the UN nuclear watchdog agency that the site, which remains under construction, would enrich uranium only to the low 5 percent purity level suitable for power plant fuel.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810211625
Iranian envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday that he and his colleagues from Cuba and Egypt, as the Troika of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), met with IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano to discuss NAM's expectations.
"The Iranian, Cuban and Egyptian envoys, as NAM's troika, met with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Genral Yukia Amano last week and expressed their demands and expectations," Iran's Residing Representative to the agency Ali Asqar Soltaniyeh told FNA.
He said that during the meeting, which was the troika's first since Amano moved into office, they also criticized the agency's performance.
Soltaniyeh declined to reveal any further detail on the meeting and its possible results or outcomes, but observers speculate that the criticism and protest leveled by the NAM troika at the UN nuclear watchdog may pertain to a resolution recently passed by the IAEA Board of Governors against Iran.
Japanese Diplomat Yukiya Amano took the office as director general of the IAEA on December 1, replacing Mohammad ElBaradei, who has been heading the IAEA for the last 12 years.
Iran, Cuba and Egypt formed the Non-Aligned Movement's troika during the 15th NAM summit meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in July.
Founded in 1955, the NAM groups some 118 member states accounting for 56 percent of the global population.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810211492
7. Iran Prefers Fuel Purchase for Tehran's Reactor
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Amid speculations about the fuel supply for Tehran's research reactor, Iran's top nuclear official says the Islamic Republic prefers to buy fuel from other countries.
"Iran has the potential to enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent. We should inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the issue at the first step and then start making necessary changes in the production line and enriching uranium," the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying on Sunday.
"However, Iran prefers to buy the needed fuel from abroad," he added.
He moved to explain Iran's reasons to buy fuel and said, "We seek to interact with countries."
"We have the potential to produce the fuel but prefer to use this capability at a time in which we decide to reveal intentions of the West to the public opinion in Iran and the world," Salehi said.
However, he emphasized that the issue of fuel exchange is still on the table, saying, "We just want concrete guarantees that we will receive 20-percent-enriched uranium in exchange for our uranium."
"The simultaneous fuel swap inside the Iranian territory is the guarantee that we are after."
After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Western companies working on Iran's nuclear program refused to fulfill their obligations even though they had been paid for the project in full.
Tehran and Paris had signed a deal, under which France agreed to deliver 50 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to Iran, a promise which was never fulfilled.
Despite being a 10-percent shareholder and entitled to France's Eurodif output, Paris has refused to give any enriched uranium to Iran.
In January 1978, Germany's Kraftwerk Union, which, according to a 1975 contract, was obliged to complete the Bushehr reactor, stopped working on the nuclear project while 50% of one reactor and 85% of another were completed.
Iran had paid Germany in full, totaling billions of dollars, for the two nuclear facilities in Bushehr.
Salehi pointed to IAEA's regulations regarding supplying fuel to member states and said, "The Statute of the IAEA does not oblige member states to ask the agency to supply them with nuclear fuel. Neither are we obliged to obtain our much-needed, 20-percent-enriched uranium through a swap deal."
Tehran has earlier announced that it will start enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent should the Western sides keep refusing to supply Iran with the needed fuel.
The development comes as Tehran's research reactor, which produces radiomedicine for cancer patients, is running out of fuel after years of operation, prompting Iranian nuclear officials to call on the IAEA to provide the required fuel for the medical reactor.
In order to keep the heat on Iran and force the country to accept a Western-backed offer for its nuclear fuel needs, world powers have drafted a German-sponsored resolution at the IAEA demanding that Iran stop the construction of its new Fordo nuclear facility.
Floated by the Obama administration, the fuel draft deal requires Iran to send abroad most of its low enriched uranium (LEU) to be further processed and then returned to the country for use in the Tehran research reactor.
Iranian officials rejected the proposal arguing that there were no guarantees that the country would in fact receive the fuel it requires, since some Western countries have previously failed to adhere to their nuclear commitments to Tehran.
However, Iran later agreed to exchange its uranium if it takes place inside the country.
The US has refused to consider Iran's concerns and insists the draft deal is “unchangeable.”
Iran's nuclear program was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States, as part of the 'Atoms for Peace' program.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=115829§ionid=351020104
8. Petraeus: U.S. Has Plan to Deal With Iran's Nuclear Program
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In addition to diplomacy and sanctions, the United States has developed contingency plans in dealing with Iran's nuclear facilities, a top U.S. military commander told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, did not elaborate on the plans in the interview, to be aired Sunday. But he said the military has considered the impacts of any action taken there.
"It would be almost literally irresponsible if CENTCOM were not to have been thinking about the various 'what ifs' and to make plans for a whole variety of different contingencies," Petraeus told Amanpour at the command's headquarters in Tampa.
Iran's nuclear program has become a thorn for the United States and its allies, and Washington has sharpened its tone on dealings over Tehran's program. The Islamic republic maintains the program is for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other Western nations fear Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons.
Israel has called Iran's nuclear program the major threat facing its nation.
When asked about rumors that Israel could attack Iran's facilities, Petraeus declined to comment about Israel's military capabilities. But when asked about the vulnerability of the facilities, Petraeus said Iran has strengthened the facilities and has enhanced underground tunnels.
Still, the facilities are not bomb-proof.
"Well, they certainly can be bombed," he said. "The level of effect would vary with who it is that carries it out, what ordnance they have, and what capability they can bring to bear."
Iran is holding out on a United Nations-backed deal on its nuclear program that includes enriching uranium. The country had until the end of 2009 to accept the deal offered by the "P5 plus one" -- permanent U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany. Instead, Iran countered, giving the West until the end of January to accept its own proposal.
The general said he thinks there is still time for the nations to engage Iran in diplomacy, noting there is no deadline on the enactment of any U.S. contingency plans.
He added, however, that "there's a period of time, certainly, before all this might come to a head, if you will."
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/09/petraeus.iran/index.html
9. UAE, Germany Urge Iran to Abandon 'Uncooperative' Nuclear Stand
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The United Arab Emirates and Germany said on Sunday that Iran must do more to allay the international community's concerns about its nuclear programme or fresh sanctions would be likely.
Following a meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said he hoped Iran would cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog.
"We are very concerned about Iran's non-transparent behaviour with regard to its nuclear programme," he said after talks with his visiting German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.
"That is based on its lack of cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). We want more active cooperation from Iran. That would be in the interests of the world, the region and Iran itself."
Sheikh Abdullah noted that the UN Security Council could soon pass a fourth round of sanctions to try to force Iran to abandon sensitive nuclear work, which the West fears is a cover for an atomic weapons programme.
Tehran denies wanting to acquire a nuclear bomb.
"We hope that Iran will behave so cooperatively that sanctions will not be necessary," the UAE foreign minister said.
"We in the United Arab Emirates as a neighbour state are particularly affected by what Iran is targeted by but also everything it does."
He added that his country could serve as an "example" for the transparent use of nuclear energy, pointing to a 20.4-billion-dollar deal with South Korea to build four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates.
Westerwelle, who is on a tour of Gulf states and whose country is one of six working to convince Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA, said he and Abdullah were in "broad agreement."
The ministers also discussed the security of Yemen amid reports that Westerwelle planned to visit the strife-ridden country on Monday, and negotiations to end a continuing hostage crisis there.
Westerwelle declined to comment directly on either issue.
"The hostage-taking is of course a barbaric act that we condemn," he said, referring to a German family of five and a Briton who were abducted in Yemen last June.
"We are doing everything we can to allow the hostages to return to their loved ones," he said, but declined to discuss specifics.
On Yemen, Westerwelle said: "I would not like to talk about travel plans at this time for various reasons."
Delegation sources also said they would not confirm the reports.
Long-standing concerns that Yemen has become a haven for Islamic militants were thrown into sharp focus when a Nigerian man allegedly trained in Yemen was charged with trying to blow up a US-bound jet on December 25.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed the botched attack and has called for attacks on Western interests in Yemen.
Germany is by far the largest European contributor of development aid to Yemen with some 79 million euros (114 million dollars) earmarked for the impoverished country for 2010-2011.
During talks earlier on Sunday in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, and the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Westerwelle also discussed Yemen.
Sources said the emir and Westerwelle agreed that a lasting solution to the internal conflicts on its borders, with a Shiite rebellion in the north and the rise of a secessionist movement in the south, could only come through dialogue.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9lAtsU68aWKXbdl40OK1jix_LEQ
10. Lawmaker: Iran Specifies Location for 10 New Nuclear Sites
Fars News Agency
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Member of the Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Karami-Raad told the Iranian students news agency that the issue of finding locations for the country's new nuclear sites has been discussed in a meeting between the Head of Iran's Nuclear Safety Organization and a number of officials from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
He noted that during the said meeting, the Iranian officials also discussed initiating physical measures to protect the sites and strengthen the safety codes.
The Iranian lawmaker further noted that the new sites will be set up with high quality standards and output.
Earlier in December, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran is through with the first phase of construction of five new nuclear plants as it has located proper sites for its new nuclear facilities.
Addressing a cabinet meeting, President Ahmadinejad also added that the next move would be locating proper sites for another five nuclear plants.
Tehran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to build 20 nuclear plants to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi underlined on November 30 that these sites are due to be established in mountainous areas and each of them enjoys the capability to produce nuclear fuel for a nuclear power plant.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810190862
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki slammed Western powers on Saturday for taking advantage of Iran's nuclear program to interfere in the country's internal affairs.
"Western countries know that Iran does not seek to produce nuclear weapons," Mottaki said in a meeting with Malaysia's new ambassador to Tehran, Mohamad Sadik Kethergany. "However, they intend to use it as a pretext for interfering in the internal affairs."
Mottaki praised growing ties between Tehran and Kuala Lumpur and said the two sides have the potential to improve economic and cultural cooperation.
The United States and Israel accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear pursuit.
After imposing rounds of unilateral sanctions against Iran, the US rallied its European allies — Britain, France and Germany — to coerce the UN Security Council to pressure Tehran into abandoning its program.
Iran, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is entitled to pursue nuclear technology for civilian purposes.
Malaysia supports Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=115735§ionid=351020104
1. North Korea Seeks US Peace Pact Before Scrapping Nuclear Weapons
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North Korea on Monday called for talks on a treaty to formally end the Korean War, saying it wants better ties with the United States and an end to sanctions before pushing ahead with nuclear disarmament.
The foreign ministry statement was the first time the North has publicly stated its position on the disarmament negotiations since US envoy Stephen Bosworth visited Pyongyang last month.
Bosworth was trying to persuade the communist state to return to the six-nation talks it abandoned last April, a month before staging a second nuclear test. No firm agreement was reached.
In Washington, White House officials dismissed the North Korean proposal, saying the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula needed to be taken up first in six-party talks.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said North Korea needs to "come back to the six-party talks in dealing with this issue" and "give up the idea of a nuclear state on the peninsula."
"We've got to get back to the six-party talks and see the seriousness with which North Korea pursues those talks," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters travelling with her to Hawaii.
Clinton said a "return to six-party talks would open the door for a consideration of an appropriate relaxation of sanctions, but it's a condition precedent."
North Korea's statement on Monday said "repeated frustrations and failures" in the talks - which began in 2003 and group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan - showed the need to build confidence among parties concerned.
"If confidence is to be built between the DPRK (North Korea) and the US, it is essential to conclude a peace treaty for terminating the state of war, a root cause of the hostile relations, to begin with," said the statement carried by official media.
The North has long called for a treaty to officially end the 1950-53 conflict, which terminated only with an armistice, leaving the parties technically at war. A US-led United Nations force fought for the South and China backed the communist North.
Six-party agreements in 2005 and 2007 envisage talks on a peace treaty but only in return for full denuclearisation. The North said the peace pact should come first.
"The conclusion of the peace treaty will help terminate the hostile relations between the DPRK and the US and positively promote the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula at a rapid tempo," it said.
The foreign ministry said talks on a peace pact could be held either at a separate forum or in the framework of the six-party talks.
"The removal of the barrier of such discrimination and distrust as sanctions may soon lead to the opening of the six-party talks," it said.
The United Nations tightened weapons-related sanctions after the North's nuclear test and missile launches last year.
Monday's statement mentioned only a peace pact with the United States and Kim Yong-Hyun, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University, described it as unrealistic.
"I believe the US will not accept it as North Korea has long tried to exclude South Korea in such talks," he told AFP.
"The proposal is aimed at taking the upper hand in future negotiations and securing more concessions when talks resume with the US or South Korea."
However, Kim said Pyongyang might return to the six-party talks even though its statement carried preconditions.
The North reiterated that it would not have needed to develop nuclear bombs without what it sees as US hostility.
In a New Year editorial message it called for an end to hostile relations with the United States and vowed to work towards a nuclear-free peninsula.
South Korea has been sceptical of calls for early talks on a peace pact.
Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan has said the North may try to bring the issue into the six-party dialogue in an attempt to stall negotiations on scrapping its nuclear programme.
On Monday Robert King, the Obama administration's new envoy on human rights in North Korea, said relations could only improve once Pyongyang improved its "appalling" rights record.
Baek Seung-Joo, of Seoul's Korea Institute for Defence Analyses, said the statement indicated the North was heading back towards the six-party talks.
"There exists a discrepancy between North Korea and the others, notably South Korea, in sequencing the tasks of denuclearisation and striking a peace treaty on the Korean peninsula," he said.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/1029868/1/.html
2. U.S. Rejects DPRK's Call for Peace Treaty Talks
Xinhua News Agency
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The United States rejected Monday the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s proposal to discuss a peace treaty before denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, with the White House and State Department both calling on the DPRK to honor its obligations in denuclearization.
White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in a daily briefing that the DPRK has to come back to the six-party talks and take steps towards denuclearization for the peace treaty issue to advance, "if they're willing to live up to those obligations, then we will make progress in those talks."
He said this is not a step for the United States to take, but rather a step for the DPRK.
Later in the day, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley also said the issue in front of the DPRK is "saying yes, coming back to the six-party process, and then we can begin to march down the list of issues that we have, beginning with the nuclear issue ... then we are perfectly willing to have other kinds of discussions."
He noted in the Joint Statement of September 2005 agreed upon by the six-parties, namely the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States, establishment of a peace regime and normalization of relations among all parties concerned must be preceded by denuclearization.
Pyongyang said earlier Monday that it would discuss reaching a peace treaty with relevant state parties to replace the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War, either in the framework of the six-party talks, or in a "separate forum." It said the conclusion of the peace treaty would help promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/12/content_12793191.htm
North Korea's 2009 nuclear test occurred just 1.2 miles from its first atomic test in 2006, U.S.-based scientists said Sunday.
The epicenter of the 2009 test was determined by analyzing seismic waves created by the two blasts and recorded at nine seismic stations in Japan, South Korea and China, said Lianxing Wen, who teaches geophysics at the State University of New York in Stony Brook.
Wen and a graduate student, Hui Long, said they narrowed the margin of error on the May 5 test site to within 153 yards, compared with a 2.3-mile margin of error determined by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The findings were published in the January edition of Seismological Research Letters of the Seismological Society of America.
The findings could help Asian monitors more quickly pinpoint the locations of any future nuclear tests by North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/International/2010/01/10/Site-of-second-nuke-test-pinpointed/UPI-36811263140000/
1. US, Russia Continue START Talks as Russia Vows to Develop Nuclear Arsenal
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Both the United States and Russia said Monday that negotiations over a replacement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) continue, giving no indication as to when a new treaty could be expected to replace the one that expired December 5.
“We continue to work with our Russian counterparts on trying to find an agreement that, quite frankly, that works for both sides,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Talks between US and Russian negotiators are set to resume in Geneva after Russia celebrates the Orthodox holiday of Old New Year on January 14.
"The negotiations go on, and the delegates are concentrating on the soonest achievement of final agreements concerning the new treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive armaments," a Russian Foreign Ministry source told Interfax on Monday.
In December, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev said they were "quite close" to an agreement, that some “technical details” still needed to be sorted out.
But comments by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin just before the New Year indicate that the two countries may be farther from a deal than their leaders let on.
“What is the problem?" Putin responded on December 29 when asked why a deal wasn't yet done. "The problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one.”
"By building such an umbrella over themselves, our [US] partners could feel themselves fully secure and will do whatever they want, which upsets the balance," he added.
The US has long tried to separate strategic arms talks from discussions over missile defense, apparently with little success as Putin reiterated Moscow’s plans to continue to develop new nuclear weapons to offset US plans. Moscow welcomed Obama's September decision to abandon President George W. Bush's proposed missile shield in based in Poland and the Czech Republic, but it's clear that suspicion lingers over Obama's plans for a more sea-based European missile shield.
"To preserve the balance, we must develop offensive weapons systems, not missile defense systems as the United States is doing," he said. "The problems of missile defense and offensive arms are very closely linked."
Russia has been developing the sea-based Bulava ballistic missile and the land-based RS-24, both capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads.
"Let the Americans hand over all their information on missile defense and we are ready to hand over all the information on offensive weapons systems," said Putin.
Available at: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/01/us-russia-continue-start-talks-as-russia-vows-to-develop-nuclear-arsenal.html
2. EU Helps Lebanon Control Movement of Radioactive Material
Global Arab Network
(for personal use only)
The work of an EU-funded project that assists Lebanon in strengthening its infrastructure to ensure better border control on the movement of radioactive material is the focus of the latest Eurojar article published in the Lebanese daily L’Orient LeJour.
The feature said the project, launched in August 2008 with a budget of €2.1 million and implemented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has a long term vision and impact that extends to other sectors including trade, security and public health. "There was a need to modernise the detection and border control systems. This control is accomplished by installing metal detectors for legal or illegal radioactive material, whether declared or not," says Customs Consultant Helen Nasr.
The project consists of two components: the first one is the installation of a network to detect radioactive materials at borders; the second is the establishment of an institutional infrastructure and cooperation between various stakeholders to strengthen the national response mechanisms.
Under the project, most of the equipment has been purchased, the installation of metal detectors is underway and handheld equipment to be used by patrols is already available. "The training will begin during the first quarter of 2010, and the programme will be included in the curriculum of the Institute of Finance for purposes of long-term vision and sustainability," said Marc Maouad, the project’s manager. Training sessions for trainers are already completed, while the curriculum is being developed.
Eurojar is one of 13 projects funded across the ENPI under EuropeAid’s €19 million Regional Information and Communication Programme, which seeks to increase awareness and understanding among the citizens of the area, about the EU, its policies and relations with their countries. The Eurojar budget amounts to €1.5 million and the project will last for one year.
Available at: http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/201001104305/Related-news-from-Lebanon/eu-helps-lebanon-control-movement-of-radioactive-material.html
3. UN Chief Pledges to Build on UN Summit Chaired by Obama to Work for a Nuclear-Free World
Edith M. Lederer
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged Friday to do everything in his power to build on the historic U.N. summit chaired by President Barack Obama and advance the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world.
Ban said he will be pressing for progress on disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation at a number of major events this year.
"Today, there is a new window of opportunity in disarmament and nonproliferation," he said. "Last year, we saw several encouraging developments. This year, we have much on which to build — and a heavy agenda going forward."
Ban's comments to a closed-door meeting with the heads of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the organizations overseeing the treaty banning chemical weapons and the nuclear test ban treaty were released by the United Nations.
The U.N. chief said he will build "on the historic Security Council summit last September" which unanimously approved a U.S.-sponsored resolution — with Obama presiding — aimed at halting the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately eliminating them.
The sweeping strategy endorsed by the U.N.'s most powerful body urged action on a long list of proposals before the international community and in various ways reaffirmed support for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The 1968 accord, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts, aimed to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the five original weapons powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China.
The council resolution called for negotiation of a treaty banning production of fissile material for nuclear bombs and establishment of internationally supervised nuclear fuel banks, to keep potential bomb material out of more hands — both items on Obama's agenda. It also urged states to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the 1996 pact banning all nuclear bomb tests, another Obama goal.
Ban said he will promote the universality of all treaties, encourage the Security Council "to provide political support for the full implementation of treaty obligations and the strengthening of the treaty organs," and attend a number of conferences to advance nonproliferation efforts.
"I pledge to continue to do everything in my power to advance the goal of a world free of weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Later this month, Ban said he will attend the Conference on Disarmament, a 65-nation U.N. body in Geneva, which will hopefully start talks on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty banning production of nuclear bomb material.
The conference was deadlocked for 12 years trying to open talks on a treaty, a stalemate resulting in part from opposition by former President George W. Bush's administration. Obama's reversal of the U.S. position in an April speech led the conference to adopt an agenda for talks in May, but resistance from Pakistan — a nuclear-armed nation — has stalled further progress.
In early February, Ban will attend the Global Zero Summit in Paris, which is expected to bring hundreds of international leaders to the French capital to discuss a step-by-step plan for the phased, verified elimination of nuclear weapons. He will then attend the 46th Munich Security Conference which will address the major security challenges including nuclear proliferation.
The secretary-general said he also will attend the summit on Nuclear Security that Obama is hosting in Washington in April to bring government leaders together to consider cooperative efforts to track and protect weapon-usable materials and to safeguard against nuclear terrorism.
These events "will help generate momentum" for the five-year review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at U.N. headquarters in New York in May, Ban said.
The last review conference in 2005 was unable to agree on an agenda until nearly three weeks after it started — a major factor in its failure. By contrast, delegates agreed on an agenda in May. Zimbabwe's U.N. Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku, who chaired the preparatory meeting, credited Obama for reversing Bush's policy.
Chidyausiku said then that there wasn't enough time to agree on recommendations to the conference that balanced the three pillars of the treaty — disarmament by the nuclear powers, preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy — but he was optimistic about progress at the review conference in May.
"The differences — they were not major," Chidyausiku said. "With time, we could have done it."
Available at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-un-un-nuclear-agenda,0,4263686.story
Carol Browner, President Barack Obama's top energy and climate adviser at the White House, also said the United States was pleased with the outcome of the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen and would work with international partners on a binding treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the future.
"We have not built a nuclear plant in this country in a long time but we want to work with the industry to make that happen in the not too distant future," Browner said in a live chat on the White House website.
"We have been working with the nuclear industry to understand exactly what it is they need."
Congress authorized $18.5 billion for nuclear loan guarantees in 2005, hoping to revive development of the carbon-free source of energy.
Investment in nuclear power has dried up amid soaring costs after the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island but last year the U.S. Energy Department signaled it was eager to help the industry.
The United States now has 104 operating reactors. The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, says nuclear power provides almost 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply.
"The president believes that nuclear needs to be a part of our energy future," Browner said. "If you believe as we do that climate change is a serious problem ... then you need to be open to what are all of the ways in which we can produce energy in a clean manner."
The White House has been looking at ways to boost the role of nuclear energy in a climate change bill currently stalled in the Senate to attract support from opposition Republicans, such as former presidential candidate John McCain.
The bill is critical to the U.S. position in international talks to forge a binding global agreement to curb emissions blamed for heating the Earth.
U.N. countries agreed a non-binding accord in Copenhagen in December, which Browner said was a positive step.
"We're quite pleased with the outcome of Copenhagen," she said. "We're going to continue to engage with the rest of the world while we work here domestically to get our legislative bill passed."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60B04920100112?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&rpc=401
The Volgodonsk nuclear power plant reactor has been halted for repairs, a source at the Rosenergoatom state concern told Itar-Tass.
“The first unit of the Volgodonsk NPP was halted for current repairs at 9:20 a.m. Moscow time on Sunday,” he said.
According to the preliminary information, the power plant staff will pressurize steam generator pipes. The repairs may take four days. Radiation is normal inside and outside the power plant zone.
The automatic control system cut the reactor’s output by a third in the morning.
The problem was detected several days before New Year and the reactor was disconnected from the power grid.
The nuclear power plant is located on the bank of the Tsimlyanskoye dam lake, 13.5 kilometers away from Volgodonsk in the Rostov region. That was the first nuclear power plant started up in Russia after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
The unit halted on Sunday started commercial operation in December 2001. It has a 1,000-megawatt reactor of the VVER-1000 water-cooled water-moderated type. The same reactor is installed in the second unit, whose construction resumed in 2002 after a 12-year pause.
The second unit was started up in December 2009. Investments in that unit reached 12 billion rubles in 2008 and another 30 billion rubles in 2009.
The date of starting up the third and fourth units of the Volgodonsk NPP will be made by March 2010.
At present, Russia has ten nuclear power plants with 31 units. Their total rated capacity stands at 23,242 megawatt. Russian nuclear power plants hold one of the leading positions by security standards.
Most of Russia’s ten nuclear power plants are located in the European part of the country, and only one of them is equipped with a fast neutron reactor. The nuclear power plants based in Balakovo, Bilibino, Leningrad, Beloyarsk, Volgodonsk, Kalinin, Kola, Kursk, Novovoronezh and Smolensk produce 17% of the electricity generated in the country.
The Kola Nuclear Power Plant is situated in the polar region on the shore of Lake Imandra. In 1973–1984 it launched four units, including two with V-230 reactors and two with VVER-440 reactors.
The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant is the biggest electricity producer in Northwestern Russia. It is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, 80 kilometers southwest of St. Petersburg in Sosnovy Bor.
The Smolensk Nuclear Power Plant is the biggest NPP in the Nechernozem region of Russia. The plant is situated in Smolensk region, 150 kilometers from Smolensk, 180 kilometers from Bryansk and 350 km from Moscow.
The Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant is situated in the north of Tver region, 125 kilometers from Tver, 330 kilometers from Moscow and 440 kilometers from St. Petersburg, on the southern shore of Lake Udomlia. The plant covers a total area of 287.37 hectares.
The Kursk Nuclear Power Plant is situated 40 km southwest of Kursk on the left bank of Seim River. It operates four units with RBMK-1000 reactors (1000MW water-cooled graphite-moderated channel-type reactors).
The project of Volgodonsk Nuclear Power Plant with four VVER-1000 reactors was approved by the Soviet Energy Ministry on October 12, 1979.
The Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant is one of the biggest and most modern power plants in Russia. It has four units with VVER-1000 reactors (1,000MW pressurized-water reactors), built in 1985–1993. The 4th unit of Balakovo NPP was the first post-Soviet energy project in Russia.
The Bilibino NPP is located in the Chukchi Autonomous District and has a GBWR-12 reactor (graphite-moderated boiling-water reactor for combined heat and power). It has four units of 12 MWe and 62 MWt per operating unit.
The Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant is the only plant in Russia that has operated different types of reactors. The plant has been a testing ground for many innovative technological solutions.
Presently, the Beloyarsk NPP operates one 600MW fast-breeder reactor (BN-600). Launched in April 1980, it was the first industrial fast-breeder reactor in the world. Today, the 3rd unit of Beloyarsk NPP is the world’s biggest unit with fast-breeder reactor.
Fast neutron reactors or breeders, as they are called in the West, have obvious competitive advantages on the world atomic energy market, head of the Atomenergoprom State Corporation’s investment policy department Anton Kovalevsky said.
“For instance, the BN 600 fast reactor is being used exclusively in Russia, at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant,” he said. “This reactor may run on war-grade plutonium or spent nuclear fuel. Fast reactors capable of reprocessing fuel can lead the world and domestic energy industry out of deadlock.”
A modernized fast reactor, BN 800, will be commissioned at the nuclear power plant near Yekaterinburg by 2012, Kovalevsky said.
“Fast reactors can provide a closed fuel cycle of uranium 238, which means there will be no fuel limits for centuries to come,” he said. Innovative technologies based on fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle “will drastically resolve environmental problems of the atomic energy industry, as there will be no storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel in the future,” the expert said.
A fast neutron reactor or simply a fast reactor is a category of nuclear reactor in which the fission chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons. Such a reactor needs no neutron moderator, but must use fuel that is relatively rich in fissile material when compared to that required for a thermal reactor.
Russia is implementing a federal atomic energy program for the period of 2007-2015. It is planned to build ten nuclear power plant units and start the construction of another ten by that year, Rosatom Director Sergei Kiriyenko said.
In all, Russia will have 26 nuclear power plant units by 2030, seven of them, including the Novovoronezh NPP-2 and the Leningrad NPP-2, are already under construction. In the opinion of experts, it is possible to finish the construction of the fifth unit of the Kursk NPP by 2011. There will be new nuclear power plants in the Far East, the Kaliningrad region and in some other areas. It is planned to enlarge the share of nuclear power plants in the overall electricity output of Russia to 25% by 2030. “This share is currently 16%, as against 30% in a number of developed countries,” Kiriyenko said.
“Almost three trillion rubles will be spent on the atomic energy industry, including one trillion rubles in budgetary funds,” he said, adding that Rosatom would invest the rest.
“The world has entered a nuclear renaissance phase, and this is a new reality,” Kiriyenko said. “Russia was the first to commission a nuclear power plant, to build a nuclear-powered icebreaker and to start up a fast-neutron reactor. It is now building the first-ever floating nuclear power plant,” he said.
The growth of world energy prices gives the Russian atomic energy industry a chance to become a leader, experts said. Every sixth reactor in the world is running on Russian fuel. Russia is the world’s leader by the construction of nuclear power plants abroad.
Russian companies will take part in all tenders for building nuclear power plants abroad, Rosatom said. “Russia can also enlarge uranium exports manifold,” the corporation said. “An international uranium enrichment center has been formed in Russia’s Angarsk under the IAEA control. All countries wishing to develop their atomic energy industry are welcome to join it.”
In the opinion of leading researcher of the Russian Institute of Problems of the Safe Development of Atomic Power Alexander Valyayev, the construction of new nuclear power plant units in Russia by 2020 will reduce the amount of radioactive discharge into the atmosphere.
“The radiation hazard will be reduced through modernization of the existent systems and creation of new gadgets, larger safety awareness and new technologies,” he said.
Some reactors that have the highest radioactive discharge ratio will be decommissioned. It is the question of six RBMK-1000 and VVER-440 units of the Novovoronezh, Leningrad and Kola nuclear power plants, which will be stopped in 2016-2020.
There is no alternative to atomic energy, Valyayev said. In addition, atomic energy is safe enough. “In certain regions the natural radiation is way higher than the radiation emitted by nuclear power plants,” the researcher said.
In his words, Russia plans to commission 17 reactors, including a BN-800 fast neutron reactor, before 2020. “All the nuclear power plants with new units will be absolutely safe for local population even in case of the worst events,” Valyayev said.
The research was made to Energoatom order within the framework of the federal atomic energy industry development program for 2007-2010 and the period until 2020.
Available at: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14705992&PageNum=0
South Korea could make its second deal selling its domestically produced nuclear power plants abroad as a U.S. company is reportedly considering importing Korean nuclear reactors.
The Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), however, downplayed the reports, saying nothing has been confirmed. The state-run energy company led the Korean consortium that recently won the bid for a nuclear power generation project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Don Gillispie, CEO of Alternative Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI), met with officials of plant-related firms including KEPCO in Seoul to discuss a nuclear energy deal over the last couple of days.
The visit is aimed at finalizing negotiations to import the Korean advanced reactor, APR 1400, which would be built in Idaho and Colorado if the deal is completed, CNNMoney.com reported.
“We expect the agreement to be similar to the one with the UAE; such technology should give AEHI a serious competitive advantage.” Gillispie was reportedly said.
AEHI purportedly first talked with KEPCO and the Korean government a year ago. AEHI is the only publicly traded independent nuclear power plant developer in the United States willing to build power plants in non-nuclear states.
Its ongoing projects include Colorado Energy Park, which will accommodate nuclear energy in power generation along with solar power.
However, KEPCO said nothing concrete has been discussed during Gillispie’s visit. “We don’t see much likelihood of a deal,” a KEPCO spokeswoman told The Korea Times. “I’m afraid AEHI is going a bit too far in promoting it.”
“The nuclear industry deals with massive projects and is sensitive to safety. If we are to strike a deal with a private company, we would want a more sizeable one,” she said. AEHI is relatively small with a capitalization of just $200,000
South Korea became the world’s sixth exporter of nuclear plants after it won the UAE bid last month. The consortium of KEPCO, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp, and Doosan Heavy Industries beat out two rival bidders, top-notch global players in the industry, to snatch the largest-ever energy deal in the Middle East.
Other competitors in the race were a consortium of General Electric and Westinghouse Electric, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp, and a French consortium led by Areva SA, the leader in the nuclear energy industry.
The $40 billion contract is likely to lead to more agreements to build several more nuclear reactors of the same design in the UAE.
Nuclear reactors are expected to supply half of the country’s energy demand by 2020. Four 1.4-megawatt plants will be built in the initial stage of the project.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2010/01/123_58679.html
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