Sanctions aimed at stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons are having an impact on that country, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday.
"We know that they are concerned about the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions are biting more deeply than they anticipated, and we are working very hard at this," he told reporters in Australia.
He said he disagreed with a recent assertion by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a military threat was the only way to influence Iran's nuclear policies.
"I disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions that it needs to, to end its nuclear weapons program. We are prepared to do what is necessary, but, at this point, we continue to believe that the political-economic approach that we are taking is, in fact, having an impact on Iran," he said.
But Gates noted that "when it comes to Iran, all options are on the table."
The United States and other countries believe Iran is trying to develop the technology to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran consistently denies its program has a military aim.
Iran is now subject to four sets of U.N. sanctions, while the United States and the European Union have also imposed separate penalties on Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium.
Still, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said his country's resolve has not diminished.
"They thought they can weaken the Iranian nation through imposing sanctions and posing threats, but Iranians have showed integrity, convergence and strength," he said in October.
But Iran's foreign minister said Sunday that the country has agreed to new talks about its controversial nuclear program with the United States and its allies, Iran's official news agency reported.
Iran made the offer through Turkey, a potential host for the talks, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.
A spokesman for Turkey's Foreign Ministry confirmed to CNN that Ankara, the capital, received a formal request from Iran to hold the next round of talks in Turkey.
"Since we always believe that there should be a diplomatic solution to this issue, we just said we would do our best to hold this meeting in Turkey," said Selcuk Unal of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. "There's nothing fixed yet -- no date, no time."
Unal added, "The other P5 and one should also say OK," referring to the "P5+1" group. The group consists of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- along with Germany.
But others have advocated a military solution to stop Iran's nuclear program.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Saturday the United States should consider neutering Iran's navy and air force if Tehran does not halt its nuclear program.
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, the South Carolina senator told reporters that there will come a point where Iran's nuclear program will reach the state that a conventional limited air strike "won't take them out."
"We're probably even past that point," he said.
"Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we're to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime's ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that's a different military scenario. It's not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back," said Graham, one of his party's top voices on defense.
The talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group have been on hold for more than a year, but Iran signalled recently it is ready to come back to the table.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the six powers have been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two groups last met in Geneva, Switzerland.
Gates and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to reporters in Australia Monday after discussing international policies with Australian leaders on a three-day trip.
Efforts in Afghanistan were a key topic of conversation, Clinton said.
"We're convinced that starting next year, there will be parts of Afghanistan that will be under control of the Afghan government and its security forces," she said.
Clinton said there was no specific timetable for that transition because it will be based on conditions as they evolve.
Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/11/08/iran.us.options/?hpt=Sbin
2. Israeli PM Asks U.S. for Military Threat on Iran
Xinhua News Agency
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Sunday that only a "credible" military threat can deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon, media reports said.
"The only way to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons is by creating a credible threat of military action against it if it does not halt its race to acquire a nuclear bomb," the reports quoted Netanyahu as telling Biden in New Orleans, where they are attending the general assembly of Jewish Federations of North America.
Netanyahu said sanctions have hurt Iran but are not stopping its efforts to pursue nuclear weapons.
According to Israeli estimates, the only time that Iran stopped its nuclear program was in 2003, when the Gulf country believed there was a threat of military action.
Israel sees a nuclearized Iran as a threat to its very existence and has refused to rule out the possibility of launching military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
For the United States, Israel's staunch ally, military option is not ruled out either. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said in early August that "Military actions have been on the table and remain on the table" for curbing Iran's nuclear ambition.
The highest-ranking U.S. military officer told the NBC TV network that "I hope we don't get to that, but it's an important option, and it's one that's well understood."
The Obama administration preferred sanctions and diplomacy at the moment in dealing with Iran's nuclear program, which Mullen described as a "dual-track" strategy.
Last round of talks over Iran's nuclear program broke down in Geneva in October last year, and in May this year, the UN Security Council slapped new sanctions on Tehran followed by unilateral actions by the United States and several other countries.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is for civilian use, while the west countries reject it as a guise for developing nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Iran announced Sunday that it is ready for holding fresh nuclear talks with the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany in Turkey.
In addition to Iran's nuclear program, Netanyahu's five-day visit to the United States focuses on his stalled direct negotiations with Palestinian National Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
They agreed to meet each other once every two weeks when they began direct talks in early September in Washington under the auspices of the Obama administration, but they have not seen each other since Sept. 15 after they finished a second round of talks.
Abbas insists on linking further talks with Israel's extended freeze on settlement building in the West Bank. He even threatened to take unilateral action of asking the UN to recognize a Palestinian state if Netanyahu continues his intransigence on the matter.
The Arab League on Oct. 8 gave Washington one month to revive the peace process.
Netanyahu told Biden that his country has made enough efforts to reach a peace settlement but has not received sufficient gestures in return. He added that the Palestinians must be stopped from taking unilateral action at the UN.
Netanyahu, who flies to New York on Monday and is scheduled to meet there with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is missing U.S. President Barack Obama who is on a four-nation Asian trip.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-11/08/c_13595803.htm
3. Iran Agrees to Hold Nuclear Talks With G5+1 in Turkey: FM, Xinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency
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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday that Iran has agreed to hold talks with the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany (G5+1) in Turkey, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
Mottaki made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting with his Singaporean counterpart George Yeo Yong Boon in Tehran, without referring to the time of the nuclear talks.
"The agreements on the venue of the talks (with G5+1) has almost been finalized," he said, adding that "We have informed our friends in Turkey that we agreed with the talks in this country (Turkey)."
Iran welcomes the consensus among the G5+1 members over Iran's viewpoints on the content of the talks, said Mottaki according to the report.
"The negotiations between the sides is moving well ... and we hope that the agreements on the date and agenda (of the talks) will be reached soon," he was quoted as saying.
"Iran has always had positive and constructive approach to the talks" Mottaki said emphasizing that "We hope the talks will start soon."
In October, the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in Brussels that Iran has announced readiness to resume talks over the nuclear program after Nov. 10 which had been suspended since October 2009 when the two sides met in Geneva.
In the month, the United States welcomed Iran's willingness to resume talks about its nuclear program after a one-year break, saying the United States has long sought to have a sustained engagement and discussions with Iran on a range of issues.
Western countries have called on Tehran to halt its sensitive nuclear program but the country ruled out the calls and insisted that its nuclear activities are aimed at civilian purposes.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-11/07/c_13595347.htm
The Iranian Parliament (Majlis) speaker says that the double-standard policy of the major powers vis-à-vis the nuclear and terrorism issues has caused a chaotic situation in the Middle East region.
At a meeting with Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo in Tehran on Sunday, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said that the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples of chaos caused by the double standards of the major powers.
Larijani also stated that Iran and Singapore have great potential to expand their relations in various areas.
The Singaporean foreign minister said that Singapore would like to see Iran play a greater role in Asia.
Singapore believes every nation has the right to access nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes, Yeo stated.
He went on to say that the era of the Westerners' domination of Asia has ended.
Commenting on the nuclear issue, Yeo said that the dispute over Iran's nuclear program can only be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/150048.html
Although Tehran has repeatedly said that multifaceted talks with the P5+1 group will not include the nuclear issue, the latter plans to update the technical details of its initial offer for nuclear fuel swap to Iran.
"There is no disagreement among the six (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) on the need to update the offer made to Iran in the autumn of 2009 and there is also no disagreement on the principle and parameters of this update," French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages said on Friday.
"This is about a mechanical update, because the centrifuges continue to turn. It's a simple, mathematical question," AFP quoted Fages as saying.
On October 14, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton proposed holding three-day talks over Iran's nuclear program in mid-November in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
Dialogue between Iran and the P5+1, which Ashton represents, has been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two sides met in Geneva.
During negotiations in Geneva, the Vienna Group -- France, Russia, the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency -- offered to ship most of Iran's low-enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for reactor fuel from Russia and France.
The Western refusal to offer Tehran objective guarantees in the fuel swap proposal, led to Iran issuing a nuclear declaration with Turkey and Brazil on May 17 to ease Western concerns.
Under the declaration, Iran agreed to ship most of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel.
The US and its allies, however, snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to press for fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
In a letter to Ashton, Iran's Supreme National Security Council welcomed the West's decision to return to negotiating table but emphasized that the time and venue of the proposed talks must be convenient for all sides.
Iran has announced that it would negotiate the issue of nuclear fuel swap with the Vienna Group within the framework of the Tehran nuclear declaration, and the multifaceted talks with the P5+1 would involve other issues.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/149884.html
1. No Signs of North Korea Nuclear Processing: US Envoy
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There are no signs North Korea has resumed nuclear activity at the site where it previously produced weapons-grade plutonium, a former US envoy was quoted as saying after a trip to the country.
Charles Pritchard, former top negotiator with North Korea, was quoted as saying on Saturday that the Yongbyon complex -- where the isolated state processed plutonium for past nuclear tests -- did not appear to be in operation.
"My reaction is that the reactor, the 5-megawatt reactor, remains shut down, the cooling tower is still destroyed," Pritchard told reporters after a five-day trip to North Korea, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.
"So at this point, I don't believe there is any additional reprocessing or anything going on" at the reactor, the former top US negotiator with Pyongyang said at a Beijing airport, according to Kyodo.
South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young said in October that Pyongyang was restoring facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, its source of weapons-grade plutonium in the past.
He added it was "quite possible" that Pyongyang was also enriching uranium for nuclear weapons.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper in South Korea reported in October, citing unidentified government sources, that North was preparing for a third nuclear test. But US and South Korean officials said there was no evidence of this.
Pyongyang had invited Pritchard, Washington's special envoy to the North under former President George W. Bush, to visit the country, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported last month, citing a diplomatic source.
Pritchard, who also served as senior director for Asian affairs for former president Bill Clinton, now heads the Washington-based Korea Economic Institute.
Six-party talks aimed to curb the North's nuclear ambitions have been at a standstill since the last meeting in December 2008.
In April 2009 North Korea stormed out of the forum, involving two Koreas, China, Japan, the US and Russia. A month later it conducted its second nuclear test.
The North has recently said it is willing in principle to return to the long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks. But Seoul and the United States say it must first improve cross-border ties and show a commitment to disarmament.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gOJPNN00QFuvWaAWrDJ5P5Mgd1vw?docId=CNG.c96427dd6e06d7f836ed19209642823a.01
1. India and U.S. to Cooperate on Clean Energy, Shale Gas
Patricia Zengerle and Alister Bull
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India and the United States have agreed to cooperate on energy projects, including shale gas and clean energy, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama told a press conference on Monday.
The two countries will set up a research and development center for clean energy in India and will provide annual funding of $5 million each for five years, with matching investment from the private sector, they said in a joint statement.
"We agreed to deepen our co-operation in pursuit of clean energy technologies, including the creation of a new clean energy research center here in India, and continuing our joint research into solar, biofuels, shale gas and building efficiency," Obama said.
The statement said initial priority areas for the research center would be "solar energy, second-generation biofuels and building efficiency." The agreement initially runs for 10 years.
India, which has one of the world's lowest power consumption rates per capita, has set a power generation target of 62,000 megawatts by March 2012. It now has around 165 gigawatts of installed generation capacity.
Around two-thirds of the country's electricity is generated from thermal power now, using coal, gas and liquid fuel.
India is looking at alternative sources of energy to plug gaps in its supply and demand for electricity which lead to frequent power cuts.
Nuclear and hydro electricity generation account for less than a quarter of India's total output currently.
Its crude oil needs are met largely through imports, with make up around four-fifths, as near double-digit economic growth gobbles up energy. So far, its own oil exploration has provided insufficient flows.
The agreement on shale gas calls for the United States to carry out studies on resources and for cooperation on identifying areas with shale gas potential. Indian personnel will be trained in assessing resources.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A712N20101108
2. Obama: US and India Can Cooperate on Nuclear Issue
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President Barack Obama says the United States and India can work together to "secure the world's vulnerable nuclear materials."
Obama made the assertion in a speech Monday night to India's parliament, saying both countries have a responsibility to work against nuclear proliferation and saying the two share that goal, among many.
The president said that Washington and New Delhi can work together to "pursue a vision that Indian leaders have espoused since independence — a world without nuclear weapons." He said countries must have peaceful programs, and abide by world rules, specifically mentioning Iran.
Obama noted the new START treaty he negotiated with Russia to reduce nuclear arsenals. He has asked the Senate to ratify the pact during its post-election session beginning next week.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hIdCu4eV9EGajVADB3vdi71bnEZw?docId=87cf27ad62c449dd9d2e47c6b2336f04
3. US May Back India's Bid to Enter Nuclear Suppliers Group
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An announcement on India's plans to gain entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) could come through during the current visit of the US President, Mr Barack Obama. India is vying to enter the elite nuclear club and chances are that it could be considered for an “observer” status in a step towards membership, sources involved in the exercise said.
Entry into the NSG — the 46-nation cartel that sets the rules for global nuclear commerce — would offer a big boost to India's attempts to source uranium from global suppliers as well access to “dual-use” technology from member-nations.
Besides, India's aspiration to emerge a global manufacturing base for nuclear reactors, including nascent plans to export indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor units, would get a leg up if it were to be admitted into the nuclear mainstream through the NSG membership.
It would also get a say in framing nuclear export control rules.
The Obama administration's support for an Indian membership in the NSG would be based on its non-proliferation record.
Expectations are that the US will agree to work with the NSG to formulate an “entry criterion” for India.
Washington will have to move a proposal within the Group for easing its entry rules for India, which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
At its 20th Plenary Meeting in Christchurch on June 24-25, the NSG said, “…It noted actions taken to adhere to the NSG guidelines and the voluntary commitments made by India.”
India is betting on US diplomacy to push through the proposal, as happened two years ago when the country was granted a waiver from the NSG's rules.
On its part, India had underlined its strong commitment to non-proliferation, ahead of the US President's visit.
The broad parameters laid out for taking a participation decision include the concerned nation's ability to supply items covered by the Annexes to Parts 1 and 2 of the NSG Guidelines.
These include items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use such as nuclear reactors and fuel, and also nuclear related dual-use items and technologies.
Besides, an enforcement of a “legally-based” domestic export control system which “gives effect to the commitment to act in accordance” with the NSG Guidelines; support of international efforts towards non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of their delivery vehicles and adherence to the NPT or an equivalent international nuclear non-proliferation agreement, are the other prerequisites.
Available at: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2010/11/07/stories/2010110751400100.htm
1. India, U.S. Ink Pact to Set Up Global Nuke Center in Haryana
Xinhua News Agency
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India and the United States Monday inked a pact to set up a Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership in the northern state of Haryana to promote research and development of as well as to strengthen global nuke security.
India's Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy Srikumar Banerjee and U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer signed the agreement on the sidelines of the talks between U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the national capital.
"The Center (central government) will facilitate deliberation and discussions of international experts on various issues including innovation in nuclear reactors and the nuclear fuel cycle, development of proliferation-resistant reactors, security technologies and the effects of radiation exposure," Banerjee told the media.
He said India would also conduct short-term training courses for international nuclear experts in nuclear security.
"As countries having advanced nuclear technology, both India and the U.S. would like to promote cooperation on initiatives aimed at strengthening global nuclear security and addressing threats of nuclear terrorism, and cooperating in programs for capacity building of interested states," the official added.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-11/08/c_13596994.htm
2. NATO Missile Defense Shield in Turkey May Threaten Iran, Russia - Experts
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Possible deployment of the elements of the NATO missile defense shield in Turkey is targeted against Iran and may pose a threat to Russia's security, Russian experts said on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday Turkish media said Ankara would agree to deploy a missile-defense system on its territory if its three conditions were accepted.
First, the Turkish authorities insist on building NATO, but not the U.S. missile defense system. Second, the anti-missile shield should be deployed in the all alliance's states-members. And third, Turkey would not allow NATO to turn it into the alliance's frontline state as it was during the Cold War.
"Turkey wants to be equally respected both in the West and in the East...Turkey wants to entrench itself as a key empire of the entire continent," Sergei Demidenko of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis said.
"Geographically Turkey is the closest to Iran, while politically it is one of Iran's enemies," another Russian leading political expert, the head of the Institute of Political Studies, Sergei Markov said. "It is Iran's enemy because Turkey is the ally of the United States...but first of all they both [Turkey and Iran] compete for the leadership in the Islamic world."
The President of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs, Leonid Ivashov said the ongoing deployment of the anti-missile defense shield in Europe is aimed to "neutralize Russia's nuclear missile potential."
"We do not have other powers, except of the nuclear missile potential, to protect even the single parts of our territories," Ivashov said.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, while commenting on Turkey's plans to deploy anti-missile shield said that NATO should exclude any formula that confronts Turkey with a group of countries in its threat definitions and planning.
"We do not want a Cold War zone or psychology around us," Davutoglu added.
Turkey's decision over missile defense system on its soil will be announced at the upcoming NATO summit in Lisbon due to be held on November 18-19.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/mlitary_news/20101106/161232299.html
1. Disagreements Snag Turkey-South Korea Talks on Nuclear Plant
Hurriyet Daily News
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Turkey and South Korea are yet to finalize negotiations regarding the construction of a nuclear plant in Turkey however talks are likely to be concluded during the Prime Minister’s trip to Seoul this week, an energy official said Monday.
As Turkey has said it remains open to proposals from other companies if better terms are offered for the project, estimated to worth about $20 billion, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız currently remains uncommitted to a deal with South Korea. "We have not been able to reach a conclusion yet," he said, following talks with South Korean Information and Economy Minister Kyun Hwan Choi in Ankara.
Yıldız said issues concerning financial terms, treasury guarantees and the distribution of shares in the planned company that would build and operate the plant are yet to be sorted out, according to reports from Anatolia news agency.
Turkey signed a preliminary deal with South Korea’s state-run KEPCO company in March, paving the way for talks aimed at concluding an inter-governmental agreement to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey’s northern province of Sinop, on the Black Sea coast.
Yıldız expressed hope for a breakthrough at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Seoul this week, to be attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.
Overriding opposition from environmentalists, Turkey signed a deal worth $20 billion dollars with Russia in May to build the country's first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu on the southern Mediterranean coast.
Ankara's objective is to have nuclear plants up and running in at least two regions by 2023.
Talks with Russia and South Korea came as part of renewed Turkish efforts to acquire atomic energy after an initial tender failed last year.
Turkey plans to build a total of three nuclear power plants in the hope of preventing a possible energy shortage and reducing dependence on foreign supplies. Ankara abandoned an earlier plan to build a nuclear plant at Akkuyu in 2000 amid a severe financial crisis and protests from local environmentalists.
Available at: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=disagreements-snag-turkey-s-korea-talks-on-nuclear-plant-2010-11-08
2. German Nuclear Waste Train Reaches Final Destination
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A train carrying nuclear waste across Germany, which has been held up by a series of protests by anti-nuclear activists, has reached its destination in the north of the country.
The waste, which was reprocessed in France, will be unloaded in Dannenberg and taken by road to a nearby disused salt mine in Gorleben for storage.
Police removed 3,000 protesters from the tracks who tried to stop the train.
More demonstrators have gathered along the road to Gorleben.
From midnight, police removed thousands of demonstrators from the railway line, and the train finally got moving again just after dawn, says the BBC's Stephen Evans in Germany.
Earlier, the train, which is made up of 14 wagons containing 123 tonnes of reprocessed nuclear waste in glass and steel containers, was halted after activists lowered themselves on ropes from a bridge over the tracks.
On Sunday, activists fought running battles with the police near Dannenberg, which is between Hamburg and Berlin, in an attempt to halt the train.
Officers used batons, pepper spray, tear gas and water cannon to disperse at least 1,000 protesters who were trying to sabotage railway tracks.
The protesters hurled fireworks and set a police car on fire near Dannenberg.
Sunday's clashes followed peaceful protests against the train on Saturday by tens of thousands of people.
Activists say neither the waste containers nor the site are safe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision recent to extend the lifespan of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants, which a previous government said would be phased out and despite strong public opposition, has highlighted the issue of the waste trains.
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11709320
New EU proposals for member states to bury their nuclear waste deep underground also would forbid its overseas export, officials said.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger defended the draft plan announced Wednesday as a necessary measure to enforce International Atomic Energy Agency safety standards.
"If an accident happens in one country, it can have devastating effects also in others," he said in Brussels.
Fourteen EU member states currently operate nuclear power plants.
The proposal could pose a problem for some EU countries that lack the suitable geological substrate for underground burial, EUobserver reported.
Oettinger said he was confident EU member states would adopt the plan even though similar legislation has been rejected in the past.
"Today the acceptance is much higher than in the past," he said. "We don't want to export nuclear waste to third countries, frequently with lower safety standards. That cheap solution is out of the question."
Russia is one country that stands to lose if the new requirements are approved, as it currently does a lucrative business in importing nuclear waste for burial in Siberia.
A number of African countries have expressed an interest in developing similar schemes, EUobserver said.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2010/11/04/EU-to-stop-export-of-nuclear-waste/UPI-74451288888240/
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