Iran will not object to changes in the system of IAEA inspections as long as they do not threaten the country's national security, says Iran's envoy to the UN agency.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh said any changes in the system of inspections carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency should be based on the agency's safeguards and inspection agreements signed by member states.
"Any move which crosses the red line of the country's national security is not acceptable and member states will not let the agency go beyond the members' obligations," IRNA quoted Soltanieh as saying on the sidelines of an IAEA conference in Vienna.
The Iranian envoy also said Tehran is not against the use of the latest technologies in IAEA inspections since it highlights the "scientific" aspect of inspections, which has been overshadowed by "political" issues.
"Such an approach…will reduce tension caused by political issues since scientific facts will be the base for passing judgments," he added.
Soltanieh further criticized the "politicization" of Iran's nuclear issue, saying Iran's nuclear dossier would have been sent out of the UN Security Council a long time ago if it was not for political issues.
Iran barred two IAEA inspectors from entering the country in June, saying they had leaked information to the media before the official issuance of the agency's report on Iran's nuclear program.
In its latest report in September, the IAEA said Iran's decision was "hampering" the efforts of agency inspectors visiting Iranian nuclear facilities.
However, the report reiterated for the 22nd time that the nuclear material in the country is under the agency's supervision and are sealed and observed by its security cameras and observers.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/149339.html
2. Outgoing Intelligence Chief: Iran Can Already Produce Nuclear Bomb
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Iran is busy setting up two new nuclear installations, according to the head of Military Intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin. Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yadlin said that MI has indications that work has began on the installations, but did not comment on the sources.
Yadlin also told the MKs that Iran has sufficient enriched uranium to manufacture a single nuclear device and may soon have enough for making another bomb.
Tuesday was Yadlin's last appearance before the Knesset panel as head of Military Intelligence. He is due to step down after five years in the post.
Yadlin's briefing covered the entire spectrum of the security situation facing Israel and the region. "The recent security calm is unprecedented but there should be no mistake that there are efforts [by elements] in the area to grow stronger. The next military confrontation will not be between Israel and another country, but between Israel and two or three different fronts at the same time. It will not be similar to anything we have grown accustomed to during the Second Lebanon War or Operation Cast Lead," he warned.
Yadlin also said that Syria has undertaken an intensive procurement program of advanced military hardware from Russia, and that nearly everything that comes off the manufacturing line is being delivered to the Syrians.
"The systems in question are advanced, mostly mobile, and are capable of hitting air force aircraft. The effective, deadly missiles will make it more difficult for the air force to have freedom of operations," he said.
Syrian's acquisition of anti-aircraft weapons will substantially hinder the ability of Israel Air Force to gain command of the air over Syria in time of war.
"In the past we estimated that within 48-72 hours we would command the sky over Syria. Currently the assessment is that it will take more time and we will have more losses," Yadlin said.
Referring to Iran, Yadlin said that there are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 centrifuges busy enriching uranium to levels of 20 percent. "It is only a matter of time and continuously running the centrifuges until they reach 90 percent enrichment and could make military use of the material," sources who participated in the briefing said.
The Iranian nuclear installation at Qom, which was uncovered by western intelligence a year ago, is still being built under the supervision of inspectors. Iran has declared that it intends to construct 10 more installations, and information is emerging that currently two are underway.
Yadlin said that Israel continues to deter its enemies on three levels: air power, technological edge and intelligence. He said that in order to overcome these Israel's enemies have invested in offensive missiles and improvement of their air defenses.
He said that Hezbollah is continuing to grow stronger in Lebanon and has acquired advanced weaponry. Assessments in Israel are that the advanced weapons being transferred to Syria may make their way to Hezbollah in due time.
Yadlin also revealed that a great deal of data collected by the investigators of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was stolen by Hezbollah when its men attacked investigators who came to question a doctor who had been at the scene of the killing.
He also hinted at the strike on the purported Syrian nuclear installation, when he said that during his tenure he had faced two nuclear programs.
"I changed three defense ministers, two chiefs of staff and two prime ministers, I had two wars and confronted two nuclear programs in enemy countries. I headed a team of thousands who work 24 hours a day to collect information that the enemy is not handing out freely, information that must be taken out of difficult places and that needs to be processed, questioned and prepared in the form of insights that can be passed on to be used by my clients," Yadlin said.
With regards to the Palestinians, Yadlin said that reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is unlikely, and that tensions between the two groups are only getting worse. Also, he does not believe that the PA has a real chance of returning to power in the Gaza Strip. He said that the breakout of a new intifada is also not expected to occur any moment. However, he warned that in view of the armaments available to Hamas, "an Operation Cast Lead II will be much more complicated."
"The crisis between Israel and the U.S. is a given, but the Palestinians took it out of all proportion - in an effort to bypass the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and achieve international recognition of a Palestinian state," Yadlin said.
He said that the Palestinian Authority security forces are operating against Hamas in the West Bank because they want to avoid a repetition of what took place in the Gaza Strip. Yadlin estimates that PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not intend to resign, at least not in the foreseeable future, and remains steadfastly opposed to the use of terrorism.
Yadlin believes it is possible to reach an agreement with Abbas on the refugees issue based on quotas of refugees that Israel will allow into its territory.
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/outgoing-intel-chief-iran-can-already-produce-nuclear-bomb-1.322544
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has renewed Tehran's call for a response from the West regarding the clarification of any upcoming multifaceted talks with the P5+1.
“Iran and the P5+1 have expressed readiness on the resumption of talks only, but the details are yet to be clarified,” Mehmanparast said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
The Iranian spokesperson also called on the opposite side to step up "interaction" in the comprehensive talks.
He said that the timing, venue and content of the multifaceted talks with the group of six world powers --US, UK, Russia, France and China plus Germany -- should be clarified with “content” as the top priority.
“The details pertaining to the content of negotiations are the main issues and we think both sides should continue their interactions to reach an agreement on it,” IRIB quoted Mehmanparast as saying.
In response to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's call for the resumption of talks, Iran's Supreme National Security Council said in a recent letter that it welcomed P5+1's willingness to resume the comprehensive talks.
Regarding nuclear talks with the West, the spokesman added that Iran was ready to talk with the Vienna Group -- the US, Russia, France and the IAEA -- on providing fuel for Tehran's research reactor.
According to Mehmanparast, the basis of talks with the Vienna Group was the May 17 fuel swap declaration.
Iran, Turkey, and Brazil signed the declaration in Tehran, under which Tehran expresses readiness to exchange 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil with 20 percent-enriched nuclear fuel.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/149294.html
1. North Korea 'Continues Nuclear Arms Development'
The Chosun Ilbo
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Seoul believes North Korea has started research into nuclear fusion, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said Tuesday.
"We believe it is highly likely that the North is turning nuclear materials into weapons through a uranium enrichment process," he added.
He said the South believes Pyongyang has some 40 kg of plutonium which could be turned into warheads for ballistic missiles and is seeking to reduce the size of its nuclear bombs. It was previously assumed that the North is a long way from making nuclear devices small enough to fit on a missile.
Kim said the ministry is carefully monitoring signs of unusual activity at the North's nuclear test site. "There are no clear signs of the North preparing for another nuclear test," he said.
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/11/03/2010110300350.html
2. North Korea Estimated to Have 40 Kilograms of Plutonium: Defense Minister
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea is believed to have produced some 40 kilograms of plutonium, the main ingredient of an atomic bomb, and to be miniaturizing nuclear weapons to improve their mobility, South Korea's defense minister said Tuesday.
"We believe that North Korea owns 40kg of plutonium and continues attempts to miniaturize atomic weapons," Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers.
Kim's assessment on North Korea's plutonium stockpile is about 10kg less than what the United States estimates. The U.S. believes North Korea had produced about 50kg of the weapons material, which experts say would be enough for six to eight atomic bombs. Kim said North Korea's ballistic missiles could be used as "useful means" to carry nuclear bombs along with its fleet of bombers.
North Korea, which conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, has shown no signs that it owns a working nuclear bomb.
Asked about the possibility of another nuclear test by North Korea, Kim replied, "There is a possibility, but no clear signs (of a third nuclear test) have been observed yet."
South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities have been keeping a close watch on the movements of vehicles and personnel at the North's previous nuclear test site, Kim said.
North Korea has also made progress in its uranium enrichment program, which could give Pyongyang a second way to develop nuclear weapons in addition to the plutonium-based program, Kim said.
"I think it's quite possible for North Korea to build nuclear weapons through the uranium enrichment program," the defense minister said.
North Korea officially quit six-party talks, a forum aimed at ending its nuclear development in exchange for incentives, in April last year and conducted the second nuclear test a month later.
The six-party talks, which also involve South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, were last held two years ago. Chances of their resumption have been dim after Seoul blamed Pyongyang for sinking one of its warships in March.
North Korea has been beckoning other members recently, saying that it is willing to rejoin the forum. South Korea demands that the communist neighbor shows in action its willingness to denuclearize and apologize for the ship sinking.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/11/02/97/0401000000AEN20101102006900315F.HTML
3. U.S. Expert Visits North Korea Amid Stalled Nuclear Talks
Yonhap News Agency
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A well-known American expert on North Korea, who served as Washington's envoy in negotiations with Pyongyang, arrived in the communist nation Tuesday, according to the North's state media, a trip that could be used to gauge the prospects of resuming international nuclear talks.
Charles Pritchard, president of the U.S.-based Korea Economic Institute (KEI), arrived in Pyongyang, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch without giving further details.
A diplomatic source in Seoul said Pritchard plans to stay in the North for three or four days for meetings with North Korean officials, which are expected to include discussions on the stalled six-party nuclear talks.
He is scheduled to visit South Korea early next week for discussions on his North Korea trip, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Pritchard served as U.S. envoy for negotiations with North Korea and in other posts handling Pyongyang under the administrations of former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He is one of the best-known experts on Korean Peninsula issues.
The six-party nuclear talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have been stalled for nearly two years since the last session in December 2008. Prospects for reopening the negotiations have been thrown into further doubt after the March sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North.
Pyongyang has indicated willingness to return to the negotiating table in recent months as its economic difficulties deepened in the wake of a series of sanctions it received for its nuclear test last year and the ship sinking.
Seoul and Washington, however, have rejected the overtures, saying the North should first prove through action that it is serious about abandoning its nuclear programs and take responsibility for the ship sinking before the nuclear negotiations can resume. Pyongyang denies any role in the sinking.
KEI is a not-for-profit, educational organization affiliated with the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), a Seoul-based research institute funded by South Korea's government.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/11/02/79/0301000000AEN20101102008300315F.HTML
1. India May Keep Nuclear Law, Won't Shield General Electric as Obama Visits
Bibhudatta Pradhan and Archana Chaudhary
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India is unlikely to alter its nuclear law to shield General Electric Co. and other U.S. equipment suppliers from accident claims, derailing hopes of deals during President Barack Obama’s visit starting Nov. 6.
“There is no question of tweaking or changing the law -- that’s not possible,” Prithviraj Chavan, minister for science and technology, said in an interview yesterday. Rules will be set to define the responsibility of each stakeholder, he said.
U.S. companies have refrained from signing contracts for a share of $175 billion of nuclear power projects planned in India, which wants to boost atomic generation 13-fold by 2030. India enacted a bill in August that makes suppliers such as GE, whose equipment generates about one-third of the world’s power, potentially liable in the event of a nuclear accident.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government added the clause allowing compensation claims against suppliers to gain enough lawmaker votes to pass the bill before Obama’s visit.
The South Asian nation set a 15 billion rupee ($337 million) cap on payouts by state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India, with the government responsible for damages beyond that. After paying compensation, the atomic power monopoly can seek money from suppliers for defective equipment or material.
“This is the risk the American companies have to take,” said Bharat Karnad, a security analyst at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research. “There is no way around it. The parliamentary act on nuclear liability overrides any obligation India may have, like the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.”
India, which signed the convention in Vienna last week, needs suppliers, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric Co., to meet its nuclear power generation target. The signing is a positive step that provides an internationally established system of liability protection for the benefit of all parties, GE said in an e-mailed statement Oct. 29.
Westinghouse is “hopeful that India will move toward implementing a nuclear liability policy that is consistent with the international norm,” spokesman Scott Shaw said in an e-mail yesterday. France’s Areva SA didn’t immediately respond to e- mail seeking comment.
U.S. companies, trailing their French and Russian state- owned rivals, which have sovereign backing, have held talks with India’s nuclear operator.
“We’ve had a series of discussions with the U.S. suppliers and we are confident that some kind of agreement will be worked out,” Jagdeep Ghai, finance director at Nuclear Power, said Oct. 30.
Areva, the world’s biggest maker of atomic reactors, is awaiting French parliamentary and regulatory approvals to sign contracts with Nuclear Power. Russian companies won orders for as many as 16 nuclear reactors from India during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country in March.
India won access to atomic fuels and technology in September 2008 after the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted a three-decade ban on exports to the country on a proposal made by former President George W. Bush after the two countries signed a civilian nuclear accord.
“The main story is we have fulfilled all the commitments made to President Bush in 2005,” Chavan said, referring to obligations under the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement. “We are hopeful that all companies will come and do business with us.”
The government inserted the liability clause after some political parties, including the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, fought attempts to shield foreign suppliers from compensation claims. Their stand was bolstered June 6 by public outrage over two-year jail terms awarded to former senior employees of a local unit of Union Carbide Corp. for their role in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
The leak of poisonous gas at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal city killed 3,800 people. Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., which acquired Union Carbide in 1999, says all liabilities were settled in a $470 million accord between Union Carbide and the Indian government in 1989.
“There will certainly be a discussion on the review of the existing legal environment for nuclear liabilities during the Obama visit,” said Arvind Mahajan, executive director at consulting firm KPMG India Pvt. in Mumbai. “It’s clear that the existing law has a bit of an overhang from Bhopal.”
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-02/india-may-keep-nuclear-law-won-t-shield-general-electric-as-obama-visits.html
1. Britain, France to Share Nuclear-Test Facilities, Carriers
Kitty Donaldson and Helene Fouquet
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Britain and France will share nuclear-testing facilities and use each other’s aircraft carriers under treaties on defense cooperation signed today.
The two accords, signed by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy after talks in London, will also allow the formation of a joint troop expeditionary force capable of deploying at short notice.
Cameron hailed a “new chapter” in defense cooperation, saying the agreements will allow the countries to cut defense costs while retaining their global military clout. Together, the nations represent 45 percent of Europe’s military budget, 55 percent of its operational forces and 70 percent of its military research and technology.
“Britain and France are and will always remain sovereign nations able to deploy our armed forces independently and in our national interests when we choose to do so,” Cameron told a joint news conference with Sarkozy. “It is about defending our national interest. It is about practical, hard-headed co- operation.”
One of the treaties will allow for a team of Britons to share testing resources at Valduc, 28 miles (45 kilometers) northwest of Dijon, France. A French team will share nuclear technology development at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, 45 miles west of London.
“While we will always retain an independent nuclear deterrent, it is right we look for efficiencies in the infrastructure required to develop and sustain our separate deterrents,” Cameron said. The British government estimates sharing nuclear facilities will save hundreds of millions of pounds.
Both nations will retain sovereignty over their own nuclear experiments and data. The agreement will preclude the sharing of submarine patrols or the transfer of nuclear warheads.
“It’s an unprecedented decision and shows a level of confidence between our two nations never reached before in our common history,” Sarkozy said. “These are two great European nations that are adding up and combining their efforts”
The U.K. is cutting its defense budget by about 8 percent by 2015, part of an attempt to tackle its record budget deficit. It is seeking ways to make up future shortfall in its military capability. The treaty will bind both nations for 50 years.
An Anglo-French joint expeditionary force, which will not be a standing military unit, could include a rapid-reaction force and be deployed as soon as next year. In the event of its use, both countries will agree an overall political and military strategy. Troops will act under a single commander of either nation.
The troops will communicate in English, in line with the operational policy of deployments by joint forces under command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Britain and France will also share each other’s aircraft carriers. Cameron said Oct. 19 that the U.K. will press ahead with the construction of two aircraft carriers, although the launch of the first will be deferred to 2020 from 2016 and only one will be in operation at one time.
The countries plan to share the use of whichever carrier the U.K. brings into service first, probably HMS Queen Elizabeth II, alongside France’s Charles De Gaulle carrier when one is out of service. Neither country will be obliged to deploy its carrier in the service of the other.
Training and Maintenance
Today’s agreements also include plans to support training and maintenance on Airbus SAS A400M military transport aircraft and greater cooperation on unmanned air vehicles, missile systems and complex weapons systems.
Also discussed was the possibility France will absorb any spare capacity that is available when the U.K. takes delivery of its future strategic tanker aircraft for air-to-air refueling.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde met her U.K. counterpart George Osborne today, Immigration Minister Eric Besson met Damian Green, Defense Minister Herve Morin saw Liam Fox and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner held talks with William Hague.
Those meetings contained discussions about satellite communications, counter-terrorism, cyber security and the security of the Channel Tunnel, the transport tunnel that links Britain and France.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-02/u-k-france-to-share-nuclear-test-facilities-carriers-in-defense-treaty.html
2. Russia, Qatar Sign Memorandum of Cooperation on Peaceful Nuclear Use
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Russia and Qatar signed on Tuesday a memorandum of cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The document was signed in Moscow by Nikolai Spasski, the deputy director of the Russian state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom, and the Qatari ambassador to Russia, Ahmed Saif Al-Midhadi.
The two countries agreed to cooperate in the development of Qatari laws regulating the use of nuclear energy, scientific research, as well as in the construction of nuclear reactors.
The signing of the agreement comes as Moscow is preparing for a three-day visit by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani due to begin later in the day.
After the signing ceremony, Spasski said the memorandum contained a "roadmap for further moves" in the two countries' nuclear cooperation and is to be followed by an intergovernmental agreement on the issue.
Russia and Qatar already have active energy contracts, including through OPEC and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
Qatar, which has the third largest natural gas reserves in the world, behind Russia and Iran, moved to develop peaceful nuclear energy in cooperation with other Arab countries in 2006, which was supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20101102/161176375.html
1. Nuclear Watchdog Resists Deadline in Abu Dhabi Plant Evaluation
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The independent nuclear watchdog will not be bound by pressure to meet any schedule when it begins evaluation of a proposed nuclear power plant project this year, its chief said yesterday. The nuclear plants planned for Abu Dhabi, the first of their kind in the Arab world, need to undergo a lengthy safety check by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), expected to begin in December.
The company behind the reactors, the Abu Dhabi Government's Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), wants to have the first plant up and running in seven years. But William Travers, FANR's director general, says his agency will take as much time as it needs to complete the review.
"If you want to keep pressure on people on the programme to perform, I think it's not a bad idea to set ambitious targets," he said. "I don't see it binding to FANR."
"Being the regulator means that ultimately we have the authority to make a judgment. At the end of the day if FANR is convinced of an issue or a problem, I think it ends there. The expectation is that when we make a safety judgment we won't be second-guessed."
A rough timeline for the review is 18 months, he said, depending on the quality of ENEC's application. Regulatory review has delayed nuclear power projects in Europe, the US and South Korea for years. FANR, designed by law to be fully autonomous, has worked hard to demonstrate its independence from ENEC and other government entities.
It receives a budget from the federal Government but will soon begin levying fees on ENEC and other applicants, such as operators of specialised medical equipment, Mr Travers said.
FANR will in the coming weeks pick one or more technical consulting firms that will give it the technical expertise to evaluate ENEC's application in detail, he said.
ENEC's reactor will be built by a consortium of South Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco).
The design, known as the APR-1400, is under construction at several sites in South Korea, but has not yet been approved by any other country's regulator.
FANR will rely heavily on the results of a safety review conducted by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, Mr Travers said, but will ultimately complete its own review.
He endorsed the US-designed reactor system, known as System 80+, on which the Korean model is based.
"I happen to know the Combustion Engineering 80+ system, and I know it's an improvement on previous designs that are already operating safely in the US," he said.
The backup safety system of the APR-1400 was called into question by Finland's nuclear regulator, STUK, earlier this year.
STUK was not convinced it could contain radioactive material in the event of a reactor meltdown, the agency's director general, Jukka Laaksonen, said in August.
The agency required Kepco to design a concrete "core-catcher" that would sit under the core and act as a last line of defence.
FANR, however, would align with the US, Japan and other countries in taking the position that a core-catcher was not needed, Mr Travers said.
"We think we're aligned in the way we're developing our approach with a large part of the world," he said.
Certain approaches to nuclear safety had an "asymptotic" effect on the level of safety, making the design negligibly safer, he added.
"If you look at safety goals, like the probability of 10 to the minus six [one in a million] kind of an accident, it really becomes in some ways a question of working the asymptote on the curve," he said. "How much more benefit are you going to get as you work the bottom of that curve?"
He said transparency was crucial. "We first go out to governmental agencies for comment on our draft regulations," he said. After that, most of the regulations will be posted on FANR's website, attracting feedback from the public. Some of these proposals will be presented to the regulator's board.
Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/nuclear-watchdog-resists-deadline-in-abu-dhabi-plant-evaluation
2. Construction of Belene Nuke Plant 'Very Important' - Bulgarian PM Borissov
The Sofia Echo
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Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borissov confirmed support to the Belene nuclear power station project, ahead of a November 13 2010 official visit by Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and two days after Simeon Dyankov's statement that the state would not provide funds for the projects' development as long as he is Bulgaria's Finance Minister.
Borissov and Putin will mainly discuss energy projects, which are expected to be carried out successfully, excluding the Bourgas–Alexandrupolis oil pipeline, since its construction may lead to environmental problems, Borissov said in an interview with Russian news agency Itar-Tass.
"I think that the construction of the Belene NPP is extremely important," Borissov was quoted as saying.
The South Stream pipeline is the other significant project for the country, Borissov said.
Bulgaria is currently seeking a new strategic partner for the plant after the withdrawal of Germany's RWE. On October 23, after a visit to Germany's province of Bavaria, Borissov said that the Government had attracted a new investor for the Belene nuclear power station project.
Meanwhile, state-run power utility NEK continues to pay Russia regularly for the frozen project.
Available at: http://www.sofiaecho.com/2010/11/03/986437_construction-of-belene-nuke-plant-very-important-bulgarian-pm-borissov
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