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Nuclear News - 11/23/2010
PGS Nuclear News, November 23, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Stuxnet 'Hit' Iran Nuclear Plans, BBC News (11/22/2010)
    2. Iran to Hike Atomic Output Despite Possible Talks, Arab News  (11/21/2010)
    3. UK to Restrict Exports to Iran, Jamie Doward, The Guardian (11/21/2010)
    4. India Backs Iran Nuclear Energy Rights, PressTV (11/21/2010)
    1. North Korea Has Potential to Make More Nukes: Gates, The Dong-a Ilbo (11/23/2010)
    2. U.S. Open to North Korea Talks Despite Nuclear Advances, Jeremey Laurence, Reuters (11/22/2010)
    3. U.S.: North Korea's Reactor Claim Defies Vow, UPI (11/22/2010)
    4. No Decision on Tactical Nuclear Weapons in South Korea: US, AFP (11/22/2010)
    5. North Korea Nuke Revelations Stir US Policy Worry, Associated Press (11/22/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Gates Warns of Fallout if Russia Arms Treaty Fails, Bloomberg (11/20/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. U.K.’s Nuclear Delays May Cost $600 Million, Critchlow Says, Catherine Airlie, Bloomberg (11/22/2010)
    2. Hyperion Consortium Will Design Nuclear Tanker, Nuclear Engineering International (11/19/2010)
    3. Poland Joins Nuclear Energy Agency, Nuclear Engineering International (11/19/2010)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Iran Nuclear Talks Likely in Geneva Next Month: EU, AFP (11/22/2010)
    2. Turkey Accedes to a Missile Defense Plan, Hurriyet Daily News (11/22/2010)
    3. French Nuclear Giant Areva to Postpone Capital Increase to 2011, Xinhua News Agency (11/22/2010)
    4. Commission on Nuclear Energy Begins to Take Shape, All Africa (11/19/2010)
    5. Lugar Applauds the Secure Storage of Spent Plutonium Fuel in Kazakhstan, Office of Sen. Richard Lugar (11/16/2010)

A.  Iran

Stuxnet 'Hit' Iran Nuclear Plans
BBC News
(for personal use only)

The Stuxnet worm might be partly responsible for delays in Iran's nuclear programme, says a former UN nuclear inspections official.

Olli Heinonen, deputy director at the UN's nuclear watchdog until August, said the virus might be behind Iran's problems with uranium enrichment.

Discovered in June, Stuxnet is the first worm to target control systems found in industrial plants.

Iran has denied that delays to its nuclear plans were caused by Stuxnet.

Technical problems
Interviewed by Reuters, Mr Heinonen said there were many reasons for the ongoing delays at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant - a key part of the nuclear power generation process.

Uranium is typically enriched or concentrated by being spun in centrifuges at high speed.

Mr Heinonen said the technical complexity of creating centrifuges had also contributed to the delays in Iran's nuclear programme.

"One of the reasons is the basic design of this centrifuge... this is not that solid," said Mr Heinonen, a former deputy director at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Quizzed about whether Stuxnet could have contributed to the delays, he said: "Sure, this could be one of the reasons... there is no evidence that it was, but there has been quite a lot of malfunctioning centrifuges."

Analysis carried out by security firm Symantec shows that a Stuxnet-infected controller in an industrial plant would make the devices it was connected to run at very high speeds almost indefinitely.

Symantec's research also suggests that Stuxnet was designed to hit motors controlling centrifuges and thus disrupt the creation of uranium fuel pellets.

Figures gathered by security firms show that 60% of all the infections caused by Stuxnet were on machines in Iran.

An IAEA report released in September shows that about 160 centrifuges in Iran's nuclear plants had been taken offline in only a couple of months. No reasons were given for the devices being shut down.

However, Iran has always denied that the Stuxnet worm had anything to do with the ongoing delays to its nuclear power programme. Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant is due to start generating power in Janaury 2011, two months later than originally planned.

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India Backs Iran Nuclear Energy Rights
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Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao says the New Delhi government supports Tehran's right to peaceful nuclear energy.

"India's stand on the Iran nuclear issue has been consistent," Nirupama Rao said at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) conference on India's relations with the Persian Gulf littoral states.

"We support the right of all states, including Iran, to peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with their international obligations," The Times of India quoted her as saying.

Nearly 100 delegates from India and the Persian Gulf region are participating in the two-day conference, inaugurated Saturday by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari.

In a politically-motivated move, the US accused Iran of developing a military nuclear program and used this pretext to pressure the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran's financial and military sectors in June.

Iranian officials have repeatedly refuted the charges, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran has a right to use peaceful nuclear technology.

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Iran to Hike Atomic Output Despite Possible Talks
Arab News
(for personal use only)

An Iranian lawmaker dealing with foreign policy said on Sunday Iran will increase its production of nuclear fuel despite a possible resumption of talks with major powers over its disputed uranium enrichment program.

Iran will probably try to blunt international pressure on it to curb enrichment once it resumes talks with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The venue and agenda of the talks have yet to be agreed upon.

“Iran will increase the production of nuclear fuel to secure its needs,” Esmail Kowsari, a member of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency, without giving details.

Since the last round of talks between Iran and big powers in October 2009, Tehran has continued to stockpile low-enriched uranium (LEU) and now has enough for at least two atomic bombs, experts say, if it was refined to a much higher level.

Iran, a major oil producer, says it wants only LEU for the running of nuclear power plants to boost its electricity supply.

In remarks that could deepen Western suspicion Iran will try again to avoid addressing its enrichment drive, Kowsari joined other Iranian officials in asserting that Tehran may not discuss its nuclear program at all.

“From the viewpoint of the Islamic Republic, the nuclear issue has been finished and raising that in this round of negotiations has no point,” he said, according to Mehr.

Differing Agendas

Iranian officials have said Tehran would be willing to address general global political and economic issues.

Similar talks last year yielded a deal in principle under which Iran would have shipped out the bulk of its stock of low-enriched uranium in exchange for higher-enriched fuel for a Tehran reactor that makes isotopes for cancer care.

That understanding unraveled when Iran backed away from its terms and later started producing higher-enriched uranium itself, raising Western concerns about an advance toward the threshold of weapons-grade material.

In June, the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, reiterating its demand that it suspend enrichment — a process which some countries fear could lead to Iran producing bomb-quality fuel.

The Islamic Republic has also been hit by more far-reaching sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed them as no more effective than a “used handkerchief.”

Ahmadinejad has also asked the powers to declare their opinion on Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal and whether they come to the table as Iran’s friend or foe — issues Western diplomats say are irrelevant to the essence of the talks.

Iran’s arch-foe Israel has not rule out striking Tehran militarily to prevent it from getting an atomic bomb, if diplomacy fails.

The six powers want Iran to suspend enrichment activities which can have both civilian and military uses, in exchange for trade and diplomatic benefits on offer since 2006.

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UK to Restrict Exports to Iran
Jamie Doward
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

Britain is to further restrict exports to Iran after the government admitted there was a risk that specialist equipment currently approved for sale to the Middle Eastern country could help it develop its nuclear programme.

Until this month the government had allowed British companies to export items such as nickel alloy pipes, vacuum pumps, radiation detectors, spectrometers, heat furnaces and specialised gaskets.

The equipment was included on an EU list of "dual-use items which may have potential utility to Iran's nuclear programmes" but which could be exported on a case-by-case basis.

However, Mark Prisk, the business minister, acknowledged in a parliamentary statement that the risk Iran was using the equipment to develop its nuclear programme was "so great that we need to go further".

In a notice to British exporters, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills said: "All licences will be refused except in cases where there is manifestly no risk."

There are growing concerns that the Iranian regime is close to developing a nuclear capability which, combined with its missile technology, would mean the country could pose a threat to southern Europe and many other countries in the Middle East.

Iran is subject to six UN sanctions resolutions, but there is evidence it has been circumventing attempts to restrict its economic activities. Last month Nigerian authorities reportedly seized a shipment of weapons apparently dispatched from Iran, which if true would represent a significant breach of UN sanctions.

MP Mike Gapes, a member of the foreign affairs select committee who follows the situation in Iran closely, said extending the banned exports list was a logical move. Gapes denied that the move represented a belated realisation that Britain should police exports to Iran far more stringently. "It's a general tightening, it's not just designed to check Iran's nuclear programme but its economic activites, too," Gapes said.

He warned: "The clock is ticking. The danger is this Iranian regime is set on establishing a nuclear weapons capability in the near future. Then what do the Israelis do?"

Iran's military last week practised a series of war games in anticipation of an Israeli or United States airstrike on its nuclear facilities.

However, the US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, has said that sanctions now appear to be having an effect."I personally believe they are intent on acquiring nuclear weapons, but also the information we that have is that they've been surprised by the impact of the sanctions," Gates said, adding that the measures had "bitten much harder than they anticipated."

Gates warned military action could not stop Iran's nuclear programme and would only make it "deeper and more covert".

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North Korea Has Potential to Make More Nukes: Gates
The Dong-a Ilbo
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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that North Korea has the potential to produce more nuclear weapons by using its new uranium enrichment facilities.

Arriving in Bolivia for a North and South American defense ministers’ meeting, Gates told reporters, “My view is that the North Koreans have had an ongoing nuclear program for a long time and have -- and probably have some number of nuclear devices. An enrichment plant like this, assuming that’s what it is, obviously gives them the potential to create a number more. But I believe they have nuclear weapons.”

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based think tank dedicated to nuclear issues, said chances are high that the North secretly installed centrifuges separately from the 2,000 centrifuges shown recently to an American nuclear expert.

Institute director David Albright and senior researcher Paul Brennan announced this through attachments to their report posted in the institute’s Web site Sunday, commenting on a report by Stanford University professor Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North’s nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

Albright said, “When the process to dismantle nuclear facilities was completed in April last year, there was no plant for centrifuge production in Yongbyon,” adding, “The fact that North Korea built a plant that produced 2000 centrifuges so fast suggests that this plant might not be the North’s first facility for centrifuges.”

After meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. point man on North Korean issues, told reporters in Seoul Monday, “(North Korea’s uranium enrichment activities) constitute clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, September 19, 2005 Joint Statement, and agreements reached during the six-way nuclear talks,” adding, “This is a very difficult problem that we have been struggling to deal with for almost 20 years.”

On the outlook for the resumption of the six-way talks, he said, “My crystal ball is foggy, but I would never declare any process dead. It`s still breathing. The six-way talks remain alive and we hope to be able to revive them.”

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No Decision on Tactical Nuclear Weapons in South Korea: US
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The United States has no immediate plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea, the Pentagon said on Monday, after Seoul raised the possibility amid fresh tensions with North Korea.

With Pyongyang claiming it had a working uranium enrichment plant, the United States was holding talks with allies but it was too soon to say what action might be taken, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.

"The US and our international partners are consulting on what steps to take in light of this new information. So I'd say it's premature to talk about any specific steps," Lapan said.

He declined to comment whether restoring tactical nuclear arms to South Korea was one of the options under consideration.

South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young in parliament raised the possibility of asking the United States to deploy tactical nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn from the South in 1991.

His ministry later said he only meant that "all possible options could be reviewed."

Revelations over the weekend about a modern, new uranium enrichment plant in North Korea equipped with at least 1,000 centrifuges triggered international alarm, with Washington, Tokyo and Seoul voicing serious concern.

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North Korea Nuke Revelations Stir US Policy Worry
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

The United States and its partners have pushed North Korea for years to abandon its atomic ambitions, but the North has conducted two nuclear tests and now claims it has 2,000 centrifuges producing uranium for a new reactor.

Critics say this shows that U.S. policy of shunning direct talks with North Korea until it agrees to abide by past nuclear commitments is not working; these critics say North Korea, for its part, is determined to win Washington's acceptance that it is a nuclear power.

North Korea launched nuclear and missile tests last year. The Obama administration has not held direct, official talks with Pyongyang since an international finding that a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors.

U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials have called on North Korea to acknowledge responsibility for the sinking and express a sincere willingness to disarm before talks can resume. North Korea denies it launched the torpedo that sank the warship.

Critics bemoan what they see as a lack of urgency and focus in Washington, which they say fails to deal with a frightening security threat. The Obama administration, they say, has repeatedly played down North Korean provocations and has appointed Stephen Bosworth as its special envoy spearheading negotiations, a part-time diplomat who also serves as dean of Tufts University's Fletcher School.

"Like his predecessors, President Barack Obama is learning the hard way that the only thing worse than negotiating with North Korea is not negotiating with North Korea," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the private Arms Control Association in Washington.

Kimball said current claims that the North has quickly and secretly built a uranium enrichment facility demand that Washington and China — the North's only major ally and a member of stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament negotiations — "directly re-engage North Korea in talks aimed at containing and verifiably freezing the North's bomb program."

On Monday, Bosworth defended U.S. policy.

"I would not at all accept that our policy toward North Korea is a failure," Bosworth said after flying to Seoul to meet South Korean officials. "They are a difficult interlocutor," he said of the North, "but we're not throwing our policy away."

While the North's uranium program is disappointing and provocative, he told reporters, it isn't surprising. "This is not a crisis," Bosworth said.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley echoed his words, saying the Obama administration would take its time to assess the available information. He said the revelation of the new uranium enrichment facility would violate Pyongyang's obligation to stop pursuing nuclear weapons but also may be what he called a "publicity stunt."

The comments contrasted with those of U.S. military officials, who warned that the new facility could speed up the North's ability to make and deliver viable nuclear weapons.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it could enable North Korea to build "a number" of nuclear devices beyond the handful it is presumed to have already assembled. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, called North Korea "a very dangerous country."

The latest predicament came about when a U.S. scientist, Siegfried Hecker, posted a report over the weekend that said he was taken, during a recent trip to the North's main Yongbyon atomic complex, to a small, industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility.
Hecker, a former director of the U.S. Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, is regularly given rare glimpses of the North's secretive nuclear program, but he called Pyongyang's new efforts "stunning."

Uranium enrichment would give the North a second way to make nuclear bombs, in addition to its known plutonium-based program. At low levels, uranium can be used in power reactors, but at higher levels it can be used in nuclear weapons.

New satellite images also show construction under way at Yongbyon for what the North says is a light-water nuclear power reactor. Such a reactor is ostensibly for civilian energy purposes, but it would give the North a reason to enrich uranium.

The flurry of reports come as North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly tries to pave the way for his inexperienced youngest son to become heir. The North, subject to harsh international sanctions, may also be looking to force the resumption of aid-for-disarmament talks.

Washington has long pushed North Korea to give up its nuclear programs.

Under the Clinton administration, the U.S. negotiated a "framework agreement" with North Korea that froze its nuclear weapons program. In exchange, the U.S., Japan and South Korea agreed to provide the North with two reactors that would produce electricity but posed a lesser risk of nuclear proliferation. The agreement came undone during the Bush administration, which accused the North of pursuing a secret uranium enrichment program.

It was only in 2003 that the United States joined forces with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea in the on-again off-again six-party talks. Those talks ended in December 2008 and have not resumed.

Lee Chul-ki, a political scientist at Seoul's Dongguk University, said North Korea has been disappointed that the Obama administration's policy hasn't changed much from the Bush administration's hard-line stance. North Korea, Lee said, wants to show the United States that it will continue to bolster its nuclear capability if Washington doesn't change policy.

Some North Korea observers argue that the North's major goal is to get Washington's acceptance of it as a nuclear power. They call for a strategy that focuses on improving relations and trying to cap the number of weapons in North Korea's nuclear arsenal.
Such talk often gets blasted by conservatives as rewarding a government that brutalizes its citizens, and the Obama administration has said it is not interested in a nuclear cap.

Two of Hecker's companions on his trip, Robert Carlin and John Lewis, wrote in Monday's Washington Post that the news of the centrifuges will spark criticism that negotiations have proved worthless and that what is needed is increased international pressure on North Korea.

But they added in the column that what actually is needed is a thorough review of U.S. policy toward North Korea, "analysis of the facts as we best know them and an honest assessment of the options."

Daniel Pinkston, Seoul-based analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank, said that only frustration will come from insisting on a complete abandonment of the North's nuclear programs.

"I don't know if there's anything you could do that would satisfy the current leadership, to make them feel secure, where they could abandon their nuclear weapons," Pinkston said of the North.

But he said that engagement may make sense if officials believe it's possible to follow a "slightly less ambitious policy" — for instance, one that involves capping the North's nuclear weapons, slowing the program down or getting a look at what the North has actually accomplished.

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U.S. Open to North Korea Talks Despite Nuclear Advances
Jeremey Laurence
(for personal use only)

The United States and its allies on Monday accused North Korea of being a danger to the region after it showed off its latest advances in uranium enrichment, but Washington said it was still open to talks.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young raised the temperature when he hinted at the possibility of redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in response, but his department quickly attempted to tone down his comment.

The reported sighting of more than 1,000 centrifuges at its main nuclear complex appears to confirm the impoverished North, which has a plutonium-based atomic program, is working to create a second source of arms-grade nuclear material.

It comes as Pyongyang is pressing regional powers to resume talks on its atomic weapons program -- about the only real leverage it has with the outside world.

"It is the latest in a series of provocative moves by the DPRK ... it is a very difficult problem we have been struggling to deal with for 20 years," U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth told reporters in Seoul, referring to the North by its acronym.

"This is not a crisis. We are not surprised," said Bosworth, who is on the first leg of a tour of east Asia. "My crystal ball is foggy, but I would never declare any process dead," he said when asked about the fate of regional six-party talks. "We have hope that we will be able to resuscitate (them)."

The North's reported nuclear advances, including work on a light-water reactor, come nearly two months after Kim Jong-il started the transition of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Analysts say he wants to use nuclear muscle to boost his son's credentials with the military.

Washington is particularly worried by the threat of North Korea -- whose ravaged economy has long relied heavily on arms exports -- selling nuclear weapons material to other states. It has conducted two nuclear tests to date and is believed to have enough fissile material to make between six and 12 bombs.

The latest flurry over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions follows comments over the weekend by Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University that he had been shown more than 1,000 centrifuges during a tour of the Yongbyon nuclear complex this month. North Korea said they were operational.

It is impossible to verify the North's claims, which it first announced last year. International inspectors were expelled from the country last year, but Washington has said since 2002 that it suspected Pyongyang had such a program.

The North Koreans told Hecker they had 2,000 centrifuges in operation, but the U.S. team that visited the country was unable to verify that they were working. Hecker said North Korea described the program as aiming to generate electricity.

The North has said it wants to resume multilateral talks, but Washington and Seoul have said they will only consider a return to the negotiating table when Pyongyang shows it is sincere about denuclearization.

By showing its nuclear hand, analysts say North Korea is seeking to gain leverage in any aid-for-disarmament negotiations in stalled six-way talks with regional powers China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

Despite leaving the door open to talks, the U.S. State Department made clear it did not want to revert to a pattern of giving North Korea economic or diplomatic benefits only to see Pyongyang renege on its promises.

"We will not be drawn into rewarding North Korea for bad behavior," department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington. "They frequently anticipate doing something outrageous or provocative and forcing us to jump through hoops as a result. We're not going to buy into this cycle."

Earlier, the White House said U.S. representatives were in the region to discuss North Korea with allies and coordinate a response.

Some analysts believe the United States may have little choice but to walk down such a path, suggesting that any new talks might aim less at persuading the North to eliminate its nuclear programs entirely and more at constraining them.

"I do think that they will find a way to go back into talks in the next five or six months," said Jack Pritchard, a former State Department official responsible for dealings with North Korea who visited the country earlier this month.

"There is no indication that the North Koreans are ready, willing or able to talk seriously about denuclearization at this point," he added, saying Kim Jong-il's effort to build the credibility of his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, meant "they can't negotiate away what little leverage they have."


South Korean government officials said the latest revelations, if true, posed "a very serious problem," adding they were in keeping with Pyongyang's pattern of behavior.

Asked by a lawmaker if the government was willing to consider reintroducing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, Defense Minister Kim told a parliament committee that the government "will review what you said."

He that such an option could be discussed next month at a newly created joint military committee to enhance deterrence against the North's nuclear programs.

The defense ministry moved to tone down the significance of his remarks saying that they were "made in the context that all possible options could be reviewed."

A senior ministry official told the Yonhap news agency that Seoul has never considered redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons, believed to have been removed from the South in the 1990s, as the country remains under Washington's nuclear umbrella.

Crowley, the U.S. State Department spokesman said he was not aware of any change in U.S. policy on the matter.

Japan said it could not accept the North's nuclear advances and that it would work with its allies to address the issue.

"North Korea's nuclear arms development can never be tolerated," Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters. "We would like to respond to the situation while cooperating firmly with the United States and other countries."

Crowley said the United States has long relied on China to try to influence North Korea and would expect Beijing to send "direct, clear, stern messages to Pyongyang."

Bosworth, who arrived in Tokyo on Monday, is due on Tuesday to visit China, which has yet to comment on the fresh reports.

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U.S.: North Korea's Reactor Claim Defies Vow
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North Korea's claims of building a new uranium enrichment facility contradicts pledges made to the international community, a White house spokesman said Monday.

"I'll just say that obviously their claims, if true, contradict the pledges and commitments that they've made repeatedly to the international community," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said concerning reports that the recluse Asian country was developing a uranium enrichment facility.

U.S. officials were traveling throughout the region to brief the country's partners and allies, as well as coordinating "a policy response to their actions," Gibbs said.

Stephen Bosworth, the top U.S. official addressing North Korea, said news that the reclusive country had developed a uranium enrichment facility was "disappointing" and the latest in a "series of provocative moves," South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

"That being said, this is not a crisis. We're not surprised by this," Bosworth said after meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. "We have been watching and analyzing (North Korea's) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time."

Gibbs said the Obama administration believes the six-party process involving China, Japan, Russia, the Koreas and the United States can play a vital role "if and when the North Koreans take that six-party process to move toward denuclearization seriously. ... The North Koreans have to be serious about living up to their obligations. And not having done so has put a sanctions regime in place that is the strongest that the country has ever faced and has greatly increased the price of their noncompliance."

Gibbs said the United States always has taken the nuclear threat from North Korea seriously "and we'll continue to do so."

The revelation of a uranium enrichment facility, located in Yongbyon, came after a U.S. security expert said North Korea had started building a light-water nuclear reactor that uses low-enriched uranium as fuel. A satellite image taken Nov. 4 showed the construction activity and another image released Monday displayed a building a U.S. scientist said contained "hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

Gates Warns of Fallout if Russia Arms Treaty Fails
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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday that Russian cooperation on U.S. priorities from the Afghan war to the diplomatic squeeze on Iran is at risk if the Senate doesn't pass a new nuclear arms treaty.

Gates also said lawmakers' failure to approve the pact would undermine the momentum for modernizing and overhauling the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

"There would be significant consequences" beyond the specifics of the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles, he said while in Chile for defense meetings.

The U.S. would lose the firsthand knowledge it now gets from onsite inspections in Russia, Gates said. The wider political fallout is hard to predict, he said, but could mean less Russian cooperation with overland supply routes for the war in Afghanistan.
He noted that Russia recently approved his request to allow special mine-resistant troop carriers to cross Russia on their way to the Afghanistan front lines.

Gates also said Russia had voted with the U.S. and other allies to impose the latest round of U.N. penalties against Iran over its nuclear program. Russia is a partner with Iran in a civilian nuclear power project and generally has been less concerned than the U.S. that Iran may be hiding a bomb program.

The Pentagon chief gave a forceful defense of the treaty against Republican complaints that it limits U.S. options for future missile defense plans.

"Anything that we have in mind now or in the years to come that ... we have even thought about is not prohibited," Gates said with frustration.

"The reality is, despite what anybody says, I as secretary of defense and the entire uniformed leadership of the American military, believe this treaty is in our national security interests."

Republicans led by Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona say they won't consider the treaty until the administration budgets adequate money for the nation's nuclear arsenal and the laboratories that oversee them. The treaty would reduce the limits on U.S. and Russian warheads, and Kyl says he needs assurances that the remaining nuclear arsenal is modernized and effective.

The administration has pledged $85 billion to maintain the nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years, in an attempt to address Kyl's concerns. Democrats might be less willing to go along with that plan if Republicans stall the treaty.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

U.K.’s Nuclear Delays May Cost $600 Million, Critchlow Says
Catherine Airlie
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More delays in Britain’s nuclear- energy program may cost the country 400 million pounds ($600 million) in lost profit and put the nation behind China, according to an analyst at Bain & Co.

“In nuclear we have probably fallen behind schedule by six months and risk falling even further behind if there any delays in electricity-market reform,” Julian Critchlow, the London- based head of global utilities at Bain, said by telephone today. Britain had “a unique opportunity to enact policy,” he said.

Chris Huhne, energy secretary for the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, said Nov. 17 that changes in energy regulation would be a “seismic shift” to secure investment in nuclear and renewable energy to reduce emissions. The U.K. plans to replace about a quarter of its fossil-fueled and nuclear power stations due to close this decade.

Rolls Royce Group Plc, BAE Systems Plc, Halcrow Holdings Ltd, and National Grid Plc are among companies investing in nuclear power station projects in Britain, Critchlow said.

Some 39 countries are planning to build about 300 new reactors over the next two decades, according to Bain. China is leapfrogging the U.K., while South Korea is already ahead in nuclear expertise, the consulting firm said.

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Hyperion Consortium Will Design Nuclear Tanker
Nuclear Engineering International
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A consortium of British, American and Greek interests have agreed to investigate the practical maritime applications for small modular reactors as commercial tanker-owners search for new designs that could deliver safer, cleaner and commercially viable forms of propulsion for the global fleet.

The Strategic Research Group at Lloyd's Register, Hyperion Power Generation Inc, British designer BMT Nigel Gee and Greek ship operator Enterprises Shipping and Trading SA are to lead the research into nuclear propulsion, which they believe is technically feasible and has the potential to drastically reduce the CO2 emissions caused by commercial shipping.

The research is intended to produce a concept tanker-ship design based on conventional and 'modular' concepts. Special attention will be paid to analysis of a vessel's lifecycle cost as well as to hull-form designs and structural layout, including grounding and collision protection.

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Poland Joins Nuclear Energy Agency
Nuclear Engineering International
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On 18 November 2010, Poland became the 29th member country of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA).

Minister Hanna Trojanowska, Government Commissioner for Nuclear Energy and Under-Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Economy, added that “NEA membership will help Poland realise the nuclear power programme which is the biggest industrial project in Poland since the Second World War.”

NEA Director-General Luis Echávarri said that the accession was particularly timely as the country develops its nuclear power programme.

In 2009, Poland’s Council of Ministers adopted the “Energy Policy of Poland until 2030” which maps out a long-term plan to meet rising energy demands by diversifying power generation sources and including nuclear power in its national energy strategy. As a result, the country is currently developing a nuclear energy programme and plans to build two nuclear power reactors, the first of which is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Poland is party to the main treaties and agreements on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and on co-operation with regard to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

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E.  Links of Interest

French Nuclear Giant Areva to Postpone Capital Increase to 2011
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

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Iran Nuclear Talks Likely in Geneva Next Month: EU
(for personal use only)

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Turkey Accedes to a Missile Defense Plan
Hurriyet Daily News
(for personal use only)

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Commission on Nuclear Energy Begins to Take Shape
All Africa
(for personal use only)

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Lugar Applauds the Secure Storage of Spent Plutonium Fuel in Kazakhstan
Office of Sen. Richard Lugar
(for personal use only)

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