U.S. intelligence agencies now suspect that Iran never halted work on its nuclear arms program in 2003, as stated in a national intelligence estimate made public three years ago, U.S. officials said.
Differences among analysts now focus on whether the country's supreme leader has given or will soon give orders for full-scale production of nuclear weapons.
The new consensus emerging among analysts in the 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community on Iran's nuclear arms program is expected to be the highlight of a classified national intelligence estimate nearing completion that will replace the estimate issued in 2007.
The unclassified summary of the 2007 document said the U.S. intelligence community had "moderate confidence" that Iran's nuclear weapons work had halted in 2003. In a footnote, it stated that weapons development was defined as warhead design and not the enrichment of uranium, which has continued unabated contrary to the Iranian government's agreement not to develop uranium enrichment techniques outside International Atomic Energy Agency controls.
A senior U.S. military officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity last week revealed that the new argument among analysts is over Iran's decision to move forward with weaponization.
"There is a debate being held about whether the final decision has been made. It is fair to argue that the supreme leader has not said, 'Build a nuclear weapon.' That actually does not matter, because they are not at the point where they could do that anyway."
The officer, who is knowledgeable about operational matters and intelligence on Iran, said Iran's nuclear program is well-advanced and moving toward the point at which a weapon could be built.
"Are they acting as if they would like to be in a position to do what the supreme leader orders if he gives the thumbs up at some point down the road? The answer to that is indisputably yes," the officer said.
Newsweek magazine first reported Saturday that the new estimate was being drafted and may be released as soon as next month.
The new estimate is under debate as the Obama administration seeks to gain international backing for more sanctions against Iran, and amid growing political opposition to the Tehran government from Iran's "green movement" in recent months.
Iran's government has repeatedly denied that its uranium enrichment is part of a nuclear weapons program.
The new estimate also is expected to update testimony by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, who told Congress in March that Iran "has not decided to press forward" with work to put a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
Since his testimony, however, Iran was forced to disclose a new parallel uranium enrichment facility near Qom after U.S. and allied intelligence agencies discovered the previously undisclosed site at a military base.
In addition, an internal document from the International Atomic Energy Agency made public last fall concluded that Iran at least had the know-how needed for weaponization, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The 2007 national intelligence estimate prompted harsh criticism from U.S. allies and some members of Congress and the Bush administration, who said the document had been "politicized" to undermine any policy that would authorize a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview that "they wrote a political document in 2007 to embarrass President Bush which everyone uniformly agrees was a piece of trash."
The congressman added, "I am glad the intelligence community is redoing it. They were wrong in 2007 when they were doing it, they were wrong by a significant degree. Why would I take the one in 2010 they are doing any more seriously, just because I like the outcome?"
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, also said the 2007 estimate was flawed. "I think the idea Iran has not restarted with moderate confidence, it is a little like debating whether the glass is half full or half empty. Moderate confidence does not mean much and many intelligence agencies, such as the ones in Britain, France and Germany, disagreed that the weaponization did not exist in 2007," Mr. Albright said in an interview.
Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment.
Available at: http://washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/19/review-says-iran-never-halted-nuke-work-in-2003/?feat=home_headlines
2. World States Showing 'Realism' on Nuclear Issue: Iran
(for personal use only)
Iran said on Tuesday that world powers involved in UN-backed talks on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme were showing "traces of realism" after they failed to decide on new sanctions.
"Speaking of sanctions is repetitive and it is not constructive," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.
"Some Western countries ... should correct their approach and be realistic about our (nuclear) rights. And we feel there are traces of realism to be seen," he added.
Mehmanparast was echoing comments on Monday by the Islamic republic's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
"We are ready to help with the realistic approach and at the same time we will wait for public and back-stage developments on Iran's nuclear case," Mottaki told reporters.
World powers made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany met in New York on Saturday but failed to reach an agreement about new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear defiance.
The six are concerned about Tehran's rejection of a UN-brokered deal under which most of Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU) stockpile would be shipped abroad to be further enriched into reactor fuel.
Iran has come up with its own counter-proposal of a staged and simultaneous swap of LEU with nuclear reactor fuel. This has been largely rejected by world powers, insisting Tehran accept the International Atomic Energy Agency offer.
The New York meeting brought together senior officials from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
But China, signaling its reluctance to back tougher sanctions pushed by the West, sent a lower-level diplomat, winning praise from Tehran.
Washington and its Western allies fear that Iran is secretly developing fissile material for nuclear weapons under the cover of its uranium enrichment programme.
Tehran, which is already under three sets of sanctions for refusing to suspend enrichment, vehemently denies the charge.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jiKk1jp5VOV8Ux4Q7i2PFO9MNXww
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israeli leaders in Berlin Monday she's willing to back new sanctions on Iran.
Merkel and her deputies met jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his ministers in an historic joint cabinet meeting in Berlin. During the session, Merkel told Netanyahu that Iran must answer demands for transparency in its nuclear fuel enrichment program, the BBC reported.
The British broadcaster said the bilateral cabinet session -- the second between the countries in two years -- was the first held in Germany.
Also discussed at the meeting was the fate of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive since June 2006 in the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, whose release is being negotiated by a German mediator.
The BBC said the two leaders and their cabinets also discussed Middle East peace process, economic cooperation and environmental issues.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/International/2010/01/18/Merkel-willing-to-back-new-Iran-sanctions/UPI-54681263845189/
4. Iran Plans to Tighten Security on Nuclear Scientists
Fars News Agency
(for personal use only)
Iran plans to boost security measures to shield its nuclear scientists from potential terror attacks by the enemies, Tehran's Governor-General Morteza Tamaddon revealed on Sunday, a few days after a renowned university professor and nuclear scientist was assassinated in northern Tehran.
"(Prior to this incident) A series of arrangements and measures were already in place to protect the nuclear scientists, which have now been boosted," Tamaddon told FNA.
Tamaddon made the announcement just a few days after an Iranian nuclear physics scientist and university professor, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, was assassinated in a terrorist bomb attack in northern Tehran.
The 50-year-old professor was killed in a booby-trapped motorbike blast on Tuesday in front of his house in Qeytariyeh neighborhood in northern Tehran.
Tamaddon blamed the Zionists and Americans for the assassination of Ali Mohammadi, adding that the terror attack undoubtedly shared many similarities with Israeli assassination plots and attempts on Lebanese and Palestinian figures.
"Use of a remote control and pellets in the structure of the bomb reveal that this (assassination) plot has been devised by Israelis and Americans," he reiterated.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week took the Zionist regime responsible for the terrorist attack on the Iranian nuclear scientist.
The report of experts on the explosion scene indicates that the assassination was conducted through the methods of the Zionists, Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with provincial elites and university professors in the southwestern province of Khuzestan on Thursday.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810271594
5. Spokesman Urges 5+1 to Acknowledge Iran's Nuclear Rights
Fars News Agency
(for personal use only)
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast on Sunday viewed failure of the Group 5+1 to agree on further sanctions against Tehran as "natural", and called on the group to recognize Iran's nuclear rights.
The only way for the 5+1 members was to officially acknowledge Iran's right to use peaceful nuclear technology, Mehman-Parast told the Islamic republic news agency.
Officials from the Group 5+1 - Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States plus Germany - who had gathered in New York to consider possible sanctions against Iran over its peaceful nuclear program, failed to reach an agreement on Saturday.
Mehman-Parast said the 5+1 programs and talks over Iran's nuclear program are doomed to failure as long as they fail to adopt a realistic approach towards the issue by endorsing Iran's rights to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
Pointing to numerous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifying that Iran had no deviations from international regulations in its nuclear programs, the spokesman stressed that the failure of talks like the one which concluded work last night was because they were carried out with political drives.
Regarding China's move to dispatch a low-level delegation to the talks, the spokesman said some countries, including China, were of the opinion that such negative measures as well as sanctions are of no use at all and that any politically-motivated move would go nowhere.
As for the Solidarity Games of the Islamic Countries which Iran is to host, he said Iran has already proposed some delay in the commencement of the games so that the details of the procedures are well discussed.
He noted that Iran has volunteered to host the games and will focus on all details, including the designing of medals.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810271072
6. West's Sanctions Have No Impact on Iran's National Economy: Official
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
The Head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines Mohammad Nahavandian said Sunday that West-imposed sanctions on Iran have no impact on its national economy, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Referring to a meeting the G5+1 held in New York on Saturday to discuss a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, Nahavandian pointed out that the former three series of sanctions proved no impact on Iran's national economy, the report said.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany(G5+1), ended a meeting on Saturday in New York with no clear agreement over the Iranian nuclear issue.
Pushed by Washington and its Western allies, the UN Security Council has since 2006 snapped three sets of sanctions on Iran in a bid to force the Islamic republic to terminate uranium enrichment activities.
Previous experience indicated that such policies are ineffective and Iran is going ahead with economic development, said Nahavandian.
"Ill-wishers seek to tighten grip over Iran's economic development, but vigilance of Iranian nation and economic experts will be vital to nullify the policy," he was quoted as saying.
The West accuses Iran of covertly building nuclear weapons, while Tehran maintains that its nuclear program is intended to generate electricity for its population.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/18/content_12827207.htm
7. China, Russia Agree to Consider Sanctions on Iran, EU Says
(for personal use only)
China and Russia agreed today to consider imposing tougher United Nations sanctions on Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, European Union political director Robert Cooper said.
“Consideration of appropriate further measures has begun,” Cooper told reporters after he met in New York with representatives of the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Cooper described his statement as the “consensus” of the meeting at EU offices.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that most of the discussion was about the so-called “second track” of the group’s strategy on Iran, meaning sanctions. The first track is negotiations to resolve the conflict over the intention of Iran’s nuclear program.
Kang Yong, a counselor at China’s mission to the UN, represented his government and was the lowest-level diplomat to attend the meeting. He didn’t speak to reporters.
Zhang Yesui, China’s ambassador to the UN, said on Jan. 5 that this was “not the right time” for sanctions and called for more negotiations to reach an accord.
Cooper said the six nations that met today are “concerned” by Iran’s “insufficient” cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and refusal to agree to further meetings. The group agreed that Iran’s response to an Oct. 1 proposal to enrich uranium needed for a reactor that produces medical isotopes was “inadequate,” Cooper said.
Sets of Sanctions
The UN Security Council has adopted three sets of sanctions intended to compel Iran to stop enriching uranium and scale back its nuclear program, which the U.S. and Europeans believe is intended to produce a weapon. Iran insists the program is only for civilian energy projects.
“It was inconclusive in a sense because we did not make any decision,” Ryabkov said of the meeting. “We have started the next chapter of this saga. We have confirmed our desire to have a meeting with the Iranians on the basis of the Oct. 1 proposal. We believe there is still time for meaningful political engagement and efforts to find a solution.”
U.S. Under Secretary of State William Burns said the meeting was “very useful.” The U.S. had set a Dec. 31 deadline for Iran to respond to the enrichment proposal.
The most likely sanctions would target Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and shipping companies that allegedly have violated a UN arms embargo, and would bar nations and international lenders such as the World Bank from giving any grants, loans and other financial aid to Iran except for humanitarian or development purposes.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aWfXfF8SU714
8. Russia: We Are Considering Iran's Nuclear Offer
(for personal use only)
Russia says Iran's proposal is under consideration, as time runs out for Moscow, Paris or Washington to accept Tehran's conditions on a nuclear fuel deal.
“In early January, Tehran presented the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with additional proposals... We are considering them and are hoping to come to agreement,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Friday.
Nesterenko's comments came as the P5+1, five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, prepared to meet in New York to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
Russia hopes that, during the Saturday meeting, nuclear negotiators will be able to agree on the latest proposals Iran has presented regarding a plan to provide the country with further enriched uranium, said the spokesman.
Iran insists its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes, rejecting Western claims that it intends to pursue a military agenda.
Israel, the US and their European allies continue to maneuver on the idea that Iran has a military nuclear program, despite contrary announcements made by the UN nuclear watchdog, the United States' main spy agencies, and, more recently, comments made by Pentagon's top intelligence official.
The two sides of the dispute came close to ending their standoff back in October, when representatives from Iran and three of the six powers gathered in Vienna to discuss a nuclear fuel deal.
However, the meeting did not quite end in success although both parties had accepted the general aspects of the deal.
The temporary breakdown in talks came when Russia, France and the US showed no inclination to appease Iran's concerns over details of the agreement.
The draft deal required Iran to send most of its domestically-processed low-enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country for further refinement of up to 20 percent.
Iran needs the higher-grade fuel for use at the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for medical purposes.
Iran refused to officially accept the proposal, as its concerns about the other side's commitment to its obligations were not addressed.
Tehran wanted "concrete guarantees" that it would receive the promised fuel in exchange for the low-grade uranium it sends out of the country; based on the argument that Western powers had not carried out past commitments in several cases.
Meanwhile, Tehran set a two month deadline, which will end by February, for either of the supplier countries to accept that the fuel exchange be carried out in a two-staged simultaneous swap.
So far, the US has refused to heed Iran's concerns, saying that the current craft offered to Tehran will not change.
US officials, such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, insist that the Saturday meeting will focus on "exploring the kind and degree of sanctions that we should be pursuing" against Iran.
Russia and China, however, have been taking a quite different tone. Beijing had repeatedly asserted that the dispute over Iran's nuclear program must end in a diplomatic way.
China's ambassador to the UN has called for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, saying that it is not the right time to impose new sanctions on Iran.
“This is not the right moment for sanctions,” Zhang Yesui, who currently chairs the UN Security Council, told reporters in New York earlier this month.
The Russian spokesman also made a similar call during the Friday press conference, urging relevant parties to exert more efforts in a search for mutually acceptable solutions to the issue.
"We believe that there is still some room for maneuvering on the negotiating track," Nesterenko told a press briefing.
"Iran stated more than once that the country would launch the additional enrichment of its low-enriched uranium to 20 percent independently," he said.
The spokesman was pointing to Iran's warnings that it will be forced to produce the higher enriched uranium on its own if the deal is not sealed, as it is close to running out of fuel for the Tehran reactor.
Russia will be sending Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov to New York. China, however, has announced that a lower-ranking diplomat will be representing Beijing in the P5+1 talks.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116268§ionid=351020104
9. Six-Power Iran Meet Takes No Decision on Sanctions
(for personal use only)
Six major powers discussed on Saturday prospects of further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, but China made clear it opposed more punitive action at the moment, participants in the meeting said.
"It is inconclusive in the sense that we didn't make any decisions right away," Russian delegate Sergei Ryabkov told reporters after the three-hour meeting of diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
The meeting came after Iran ignored President Barack Obama's Dec 31, 2009, deadline to respond to an offer from the six powers of economic and political incentives in exchange for halting its nuclear enrichment program.
Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. Iran says its program is designed to generate electricity so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.
The European Union, which hosted the meeting at its New York office, said that despite the lack of a concrete outcome, further sanctions were now on the big-power agenda and the six would be in contact again soon to continue the discussions.
All the powers except China sent top level Foreign Ministry officials known as "political directors" to Saturday's meeting. But Beijing, which said earlier this month that it was not the right time for new sanctions, sent only a mid-ranking diplomat from its U.N. mission, who left without speaking to reporters.
China's virtual snub of the meeting -- one Western diplomat said its level of representation "couldn't have been lower" -- dismayed the four Western powers in the group.
They had hoped to reach an agreement on whether to begin drafting a new Security Council resolution on a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran.
Several diplomats who attended the meeting said the Chinese delegate reiterated Beijing's position that it does not support further sanctions against Iran at the moment but was careful not to rule out the possibility of backing them later.
CHINESE MOTIVES, IRAN POLICY UNCLEAR
Western diplomats said China's motive for sending a low-level official was unclear. Senior EU official Robert Cooper told reporters that all six -- including China -- remained "committed to the two track approach" of engagement and possible further sanctions.
Several diplomats, however, raised doubts about China's commitment to the sanctions track and hoped that Beijing remains fully on board with the other five powers.
But they said that China's decision to stick with the group while it discusses sanctions sent a strong signal to Tehran. "The credible threat of further pressure does create some leverage over the Iranian system," one said.
Senior EU official Robert Cooper told reporters it was not a meeting for decision-making but for a "stock taking and to see the way ahead." He added, "We will continue to seek a negotiated solution, but consideration of appropriate further measures has also begun."
The U.S. representative, William Burns, said, "It was a very useful session."
Three previous rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions have targeted Iran's nuclear and missile industries, but Iran has shrugged them off and said it plans to pursue its right to enrich uranium. Both Russia and China lobbied hard to dilute the measures in all three sanctions resolutions.
The U.S. and European delegations believe Iran has had enough time to respond to what they describe as a generous offer. But China's U.N. ambassador, Zhang Yesui, said on January 5 it was not "the right time or right moment for sanctions because the diplomatic efforts are still going on."
Negotiating a new sanctions resolution will most likely take months, Western diplomats predict.
But several Western diplomats said they hoped the process of negotiating a new resolution would be over by May, when signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty gather to discuss ways of upgrading the treaty to deal with threats like Iran and North Korea.
Western officials have said privately that Russia was "on board" for more sanctions, provided they are not too tough.
The Western powers had originally hoped to sanction Iran's energy sector but dropped the idea months ago when it became clear Russia and China would never accept it.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60F0PO20100116
1. North Korea Renews Demand for Lifting of Sanctions
(for personal use only)
North Korea has renewed its demand for the lifting of sanctions before it will return to stalled talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs.
The North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday that the sanctions should be removed for the resumption of the six-nation talks.
North Korea said it "is nonsensical for (it) to sit at the negotiating table with those countries that violate its sovereignty."
The U.N. Security Council slapped on tough new sanctions last June, strengthening an arms embargo and authorizing ship searches on the high seas, after North Korea carried out a long-range missile launch and its second underground nuclear test.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a similar call for the lifting of sanctions last week.
Available at: http://asia.news.yahoo.com/ap/20100118/tap-as-koreas-nuclear-510daa6.html
South Korea's reported contingency plan to handle a potential regime collapse in North Korea has angered the North's ruler Kim Jong Il, who controls a tattered economy and famine-hit population amid tough international sanctions.
Seoul's local newspapers reported last week that the South Korean government has drawn up a contingency plan to administer the North in the event of regime collapse, a coup or a popular uprising in North Korea.
The North's National Defense Commission on Friday threatened a "sacred retaliatory battle" against South Korea, calling the alleged plan a move to overthrow Pyongyang. It was the first time for the country's top decision-making body, led by Kim, issued a statement since it was founded in 1998.
In a show of its readiness to translate the threat into real military action, the North conducted a joint drill by the army, navy and air force under direct guidance of Kim, who rules the country in the capacity of the top military commander, the North's state-run media said Sunday.
It also marked the first time for the North to disclose Kim's inspection of a military exercise since he became supreme commander of the People's Armed Forces in December 1992, South Korean officials said.
In line with the military move, Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said Monday that North Korea will not return to international nuclear talks unless its security is guaranteed and a "hat of sanctions" against it is removed.
Seoul's "administrative contingency plan" envisions the South's role in stabilizing the North in case of an emergency, to Seoul's largest newspaper Chosun Ilbo and another newspaper Munhwa Ilbo, reported.
"Under the plan, an administrative headquarters to liberate the North" will be formed in the North and headed by Seoul's unification minister to bring the northern half of the peninsula "under emergency rule," the reports said.
The plan, code-named Rehabilitation, also calls for the South to take the lead in rebuilding the North's ruined economy, under President Lee Myung-bak's much-touted plan to triple the North's per capita income to $3,000 within the next 10 years.
The news reports said the plan addresses five possibilities: the death of Kim; a coup or severe power struggle; a public uprising; a huge outflow of refugees; and tougher sanctions or military attacks from outside.
In a furious response, the North said the plan aimed to "topple our republic," vowing to stage "a sacred nationwide retaliatory battle to blow up the stronghold of the South Korean authorities."
"A holy war for retaliation will be embarked upon to sweep away the base of South Korean authorities who have led and supported this plan, including the presidential house," the NDC statement said.
During his first inspection tour of the joint exercise by the army, navy and air force, Kim Jong Il urged the military to bolster its capabilities so as to be become "invincible revolutionary armed forces."
"With the order for the start of the maneuvers, flying corps, warships and ground artillery pieces of various kinds showered a merciless barrage at the 'enemy group' in close coordination, thus shattering the 'enemy camp' to pieces and turning it into a sea of flame," the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported.
The exercise demonstrated the North's "merciless striking power" against anyone trying to infringe on its territory, it said.
The contingency plan was made apparently in the belief that the future of the North is increasingly uncertain due to Kim Jong Il's rumored poor health and the North's deepening economic troubles under international sanctions.
Kim is thought to have suffered a stroke in August 2008, and to have long been plagued by chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease. His health is the subject of intense interest because the 68-year-old has not formally named someone to succeed him.
Given the nature of the North's decades-long one-man dictatorship, the abrupt death of Kim without an indisputable successor could lead to a power struggle and sudden regime collapse, South Korean analysts and officials say.
The Seoul government said Monday it was deeply regretful that the North made such threats on the basis of "unconfirmed media reports."
"The North's response indicated an anger of Kim Jong Il and his military over the South's contingency plan," an intelligence source said. "The South should not rule out the possibility of a real action from the North."
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/01/18/Seoul-contingency-plan-angers-N-Korea/UPI-41651263825742/
3. South Korea: Talks With North Still on Despite Threats
(for personal use only)
North and South Korea will hold talks this week on developing their joint industrial complex in the North despite Pyongyang's threat to break off all dialogue and negotiations, an official said Monday.
Following reports of a South Korean contingency plan to handle any unrest in the isolated North, Pyongyang threatened Sunday launch a "sacred nationwide retaliatory battle" and vowed to cease all communication with the South.
But Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said that the North has informed her government that it will allow Seoul officials to cross the border to attend Tuesday's talks in the city of Kaesong.
The talks will allow the two sides to assess their joint tour of industrial parks in China and Vietnam undertaken last year to get ideas about how to further develop the Kaesong complex.
Kaesong, which combines South Korean capital and technology with cheap North Korean labor, is the most prominent symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. About 110 South Korean factories employ some 40,000 North Korean workers.
Also Monday, North Korea issued a statement renewing the country's demand that international sanctions be lifted before it will return to stalled negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs.
The statement, issued by North Korea's Foreign Ministry, said "it is nonsensical for the (North) to sit at the negotiating table with those countries that violate its sovereignty."
Last year, Pyongyang quit the six-party talks — with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States — in anger over international condemnation of a prohibited long-range rocket launch.
The North "is not opposed to the six-party talks and has no ground whatsoever to delay them," the statement said, but added that it would not return to them while under sanctions.
"The dignity of (North Korea) will never allow this to happen," the statement said.
The U.N. Security Council slapped tough new sanctions on the North in June, strengthening an arms embargo and authorizing ship searches on the high seas, following the missile launch and an underground nuclear test.
The North has also said in recent days that it would not return to the nuclear negotiations before the signing of a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. Fighting in the 1950-53 conflict was stopped by a truce, not a treaty.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry told the North that the issues of sanctions and a treaty could be discussed only after the Pyongyang makes progress toward denuclearization.
Despite a series of threats last week, the impoverished North has also been reaching out to its rival in Seoul in what could be an attempt to win economic aid to relieve some of the pressure of the U.N. sanctions.
South Korea announced Friday that North Korea agreed to accept 10,000 tons of food aid which Seoul offered late last year to help relieve Pyongyang's chronic food shortages. It would be Seoul's first direct aid to the country under conservative Lee.
Lee's administration, however, still refuses to resume full-scale assistance, demanding that Pyongyang make progress in efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100118/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_tension_18
4. North Korea Threatens Military Action Over South Korea's Contingency Plan
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
North Korea on Friday threatened to attack South Korea's presidential office and suspend all inter-Korean dialogue, in an unusually strong criticism of Seoul's reported action plan to deal with any emergency in the North.
The warning was issued by the North's National Defense Commission, which is chaired by leader Kim Jong-il and holds the highest authority in the country. It is the first time since its establishment in 1998 that the defense commission has come forward over inter-Korean issues.
"Once the reckless provocative plan of the South Korean authorities to bring down the supreme headquarters of our revolution and the dignified socialist system is completed and put into practice," a spokesman of the defense commission said, "there will start a sacred nationwide retaliatory battle to blow up the stronghold of the South Korean authorities including 'Cheongwadae' (presidential office) that have led the drafting of the plan and backed it."
Pyongyang's saber-rattling, carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, came alongside its acceptance of humanitarian aid from Seoul.
South Korea expressed deep regret.
"We find it deeply regretful that North Korea took a threatening stance toward us based on some unconfirmed media reports," Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said in a statement.
The threat followed reports by some media in Seoul earlier this week that the South Korean government has recently renewed its action plan to cope with any contingency in North Korea. According to those unconfirmed reports, the new action plan, code-named "Recovery," was completed late last year to reflect changed inter-Korean relations. It suggests possible scenarios to deal with Kim's sudden death, a military coup, revolts of the population or other emergencies that may lead to a regime collapse.
Separately, it was previously reported that South Korea has another joint action plan with the United States called Operational Plan (OPLAN) 5029, which authorizes the entry of South Korean and U.S. troops into the North in case of those sudden changes.
The North's defense commission said such an emergency is "unimaginable" and the new action plan is purely to topple its regime. Should Seoul fail to apologize, it warned, North Korea will boycott inter-Korean dialogue and exclude Seoul in broader peace talks on the Korean Peninsula, possibly referring to the six-party talks on its nuclear program. The stalled regional forum involes the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
"The South Korean authorities should bear in mind that they will be thoroughly excluded from all the forthcoming dialogues and negotiations to improve the inter-Korean relations and ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula unless they make sincere apology for the crimes committed against the DPRK," the defense commission spokesman said.
The latest warning from Pyongyang is "very serious," noted Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. The statement effectively suspends all peace offers North Korea has recently made in line with its reconciliatory New Year joint editorial, including its proposal to hold inter-Korean talks next week and its message to accept Seoul's corn aid, Yang said.
"The statement by the National Defense Commission carries the very intent of Chairman Kim Jong-il. It stands above all others," Yang said.
He said any country would have contingency plans, but Seoul's failure to deny the media reports further infuriated Pyongyang.
"For us, it's a misunderstanding, but North Korea appears to be understanding the silence as an acknowledgment."
Earlier in the day, North Korea sent a faxed message to South Korea saying it will accept the 10,000 tons of corn aid offered in October. Pyongyang had delayed giving an answer, apparently disgruntled by the small scale of the aid and Seoul's demand for transparency in its distribution.
The Koreas are also set to hold talks on Tuesday to assess their recent joint industrial survey in China and Vietnam.
The Unification Ministry's deputy spokesperson, Lee Jong-joo, said, "North Korea has routinely protested" against contingency plans, and the upcoming talks will show "whether the latest warning would accompany real action."
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/01/15/96/0401000000AEN20100115009200315F.HTML
1. Elite US Troops Ready to Combat Pakistani Nuclear Hijacks
(for personal use only)
The US army is training a crack unit to seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants, possibly from inside the country’s security apparatus, get their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one.
The specialised unit would be charged with recovering the nuclear materials and securing them.
The move follows growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s military, a series of attacks on sensitive installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight.
“What you have in Pakistan is nuclear weapons mixed with the highest density of extremists in the world, so we have a right to be concerned,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer who used to run the US energy department’s intelligence unit. “There have been attacks on army bases which stored nuclear weapons and there have been breaches and infiltrations by terrorists into military facilities.”
Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan security research unit at Bradford University, has tracked a number of attempted security breaches since 2007. “The terrorists are at the gates,” he warned.
In a counterterrorism journal, published by America’s West Point military academy, he documented three incidents. The first was an attack in November 2007 at Sargodha in Punjab, where nuclearcapable F-16 jet aircraft are thought to be stationed. The following month a suicide bomber struck at Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra in Attock district. In August 2008 a group of suicide bombers blew up the gates to a weapons complex at the Wah cantonment in Punjab, believed to be one of Pakistan’s nuclear warhead assembly plants. The attack left 63 people dead.
A further attack followed at Kamra last October. Pakistan denies that the base still has a nuclear role, but Gregory believes it does. A six-man suicide team was arrested in Sargodha last August.
Fears that militants could penetrate a nuclear facility intensified after a brazen attack on army headquarters in Rawalpindi in October when 10 gunmen wearing army uniforms got inside and laid siege for 22 hours. Last month there was an attack on the naval command centre in Islamabad.
Pakistani police said five Americans from Washington who were arrested in Pakistan last month after trying to join the Taliban were carrying a map of Chashma Barrage, a complex in Punjab that includes a nuclear power facility.
The Al-Qaeda leadership has made no secret of its desire to get its hands on weapons for a “nuclear 9/11”.
“I have no doubt they are hell-bent on acquiring this,” said Mowatt-Larssen. “These guys are thinking of nuclear at the highest level and are approaching it in increasingly professional ways.”
Nuclear experts and US officials say the biggest fear is of an inside job amid growing anti-American feeling in Pakistan. Last year 3,021 Pakistanis were killed in terrorist attacks, more than in Afghanistan, yet polls suggest Pakistanis consider the United States to be a greater threat than the Taliban.
“You have 8,000-12,000 [people] in Pakistan with some type of role in nuclear missiles — whether as part of an assembly team or security,” said Gregory. “It’s a very large number and there is a real possibility that among those people are sympathisers of terrorist or jihadist groups who may facilitate some kind of attack.”
Pakistan is thought to possess about 80 nuclear warheads. Although the weapons are well guarded, the fear is that materials or processes to enrich uranium could fall into the wrong hands.
“All it needs is someone in Pakistan within the nuclear establishment and in a position of key access to become radicalised,” said MowattLarssen. “This is not just theoretical. It did happen — Pakistan has had inside problems before.”
Bashir Mahmood, the former head of Pakistan’s plutonium reactor, formed the Islamic charity Ummah Tameer-e-Nau in March 2000 after resigning from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. He was arrested in Islamabad on October 23, 2001, with his associate Abdul Majeed for alleged links to Osama Bin Laden.
Pakistan’s military leadership, which controls the nuclear programme, has always bristled at the suggestion that its nuclear facilities are at risk. The generals insist that storing components in different sites keeps them secure.
US officials refused to speak on the record about American safety plans, well aware of how this would be seen in Islamabad. However, one official admitted that the United States does not know where all of Pakistan’s storage sites are located. “Don’t assume the US knows everything,” he said.
Although Washington has provided $100m worth of technical assistance to Islamabad under its nuclear protection programme, US personnel have been denied access to most Pakistani nuclear sites.
In the past fortnight the US has made unprecedented formal protests to Pakistan’s national security apparatus, warning it about fanning virulent anti-American sentiment in the media.
Concerns about hostility towards America within elements of the Pakistani armed forces first surfaced in 2007. At a meeting of military commanders staged at Kurram, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a Pakistani major drew his pistol and shot an American. The incident was hushed up as a gunfight.
Available at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6991056.ece
Pakistan on Sunday categorically said that its nuclear arsenals were safe and there was no danger of their falling into the hands of anyone, as being propagated by the western media. “We trust our nuclear capabilities and there was no threat to them from anyone,” Abdul Basit said to report that a US elite unit is being trained to capture and defuse Pakistani nuclear weapons in an event of their fall into the wrong hands.
The spokesman said it was not for the first time that western media has speculated about Pakistan ’s nuclear program’s security. “We should not be scared of them (speculations), nor should we give them any importance,” Basit said a particular lobby in the western media is falsely propagating about the security of Pakistan ’s nukes. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar told newsmen that country’s nuclear program and assets are under very tight control.
Available at: http://dailymailnews.com/0110/18/FrontPage/FrontPage5.php
Renowned Nuclear Scientist of Pakistan Dr. Qadeer Khan has pointed out that Pakistan owing to its best missile technology can target every city of India and Pakistan got its nuclear capability without American assistance. He was talking to visit media fare on Saturday.
Talking to a private TV channel here on Friday, he disclosed that Pakistan had got the nuclear capability in 1984 and Pakistan had not utilized American assistance to for its atomic capability adding that during the decade of ninety annual budget of KRL (Kahuta Research Laboratories was allocated only $ 20-25 millions.
He also disclosed that he had written a letter to former Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif regarding permission for atomic explosions as he was threatened of possible sanctions that could be imposed on Pakistan, so he took the courage and directed to atomic explosion.
“Pakistan’s defence has been made incredible and let the history decide itself, what “I served for my country adding that I couldn’t forget the love and honour bestowed on me for my Nation”, the greatest patriot declared.
He also disclosed that Pakistan has assisted North Korea a little bit regarding their nuclear capability and CIA couldn’t detect about Pakistan’s nuclear capability even after ten years’ adding that Israel will never dare to interfere with Pakistan.
Responding to a query, he disclosed that former President Pervez Musharraf has threatened to hang him, unless he ‘admitted the mistake before the Nation for being responsible for transferring nuclear capability to other countries”.
Replying to another he pointed out that PML-N leadership was voicing vehemently about me during their election campaign but after the elections of 18th February they didn’t never even utter my name, adding that “I had no false notions that PML-N after assuming power in the federation will make me President of Pakistan”.
Available at: http://pakobserver.net/201001/17/news/topstories08.asp
1. Egypt Asks South Korea to Help Train Nuclear Energy Engineers
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
Egypt has asked South Korea to help train its nuclear energy engineers, the state-run Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) said Monday.
The agency said the Egyptian government has formally made the request with Seoul as part of its support program for developing economies.
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in Daejeon, about 160 kilometers south of Seoul. will be responsible for training the Egyptian engineers, although details of the training program have yet to be fixed.
From 2001 onwards, KOICA arranged programs to train 400 nuclear engineers from such countries as Vietnam, Indonesia and Nigeria.
It said interest in South Korea's commercial nuclear power generation capabilities has gone up sharply since Seoul signed a deal to build four reactors for the United Arab Emirates late last year.
The US$20 billion contract is the first export order received by the country, making South Korea the sixth exporter of nuclear reactors after the United States, France, Canada, Russia and Japan.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/business/2010/01/18/99/0501000000AEN20100118002300320F.HTML
Talks between the U.S. and Russia on a new arms control treaty have been difficult but the two sides have made great progress toward a deal on limiting their nuclear arsenals, President Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday.
The new treaty is to succeed the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which expired on Dec. 5. Washington and Moscow had hoped to reach a deal before the end of the year, but were unable to resolve outstanding problems.
"The negotiations will continue," Medvedev said. "They are not going easily, but in general we have reached agreement with the Americans on many points."
Another round of negotiations is scheduled for Jan. 25 in Geneva.
Medvedev spoke during a televised meeting with the leaders of the four parties in Russia's parliament, which would have to ratify any new arms control agreement before it could take effect.
The party leaders argued that procedures for the two countries to keep an eye on each other's nuclear arsenals should not be too intrusive, Russian state news agencies reported.
The 1991 treaty required each country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-fourth, to about 6,000, and to implement procedures for verifying that each side was sticking to the agreement.
Medvedev and President Barack Obama agreed in July to reduce the number of nuclear warheads that each country possesses to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years as part of a broad new treaty.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100116/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_us_arms_treaty_2
1. Brazil to Renew Construction of Third Nuclear Power Plant
(for personal use only)
Brazil will restart building its third nuclear power plant in February after a suspension of some 24 years, the country's nuclear energy company Eletronuclear announced on Monday.
The renewal of Angra 3's construction, which was supposed to begin last December, had to be postponed since the local government of Angra dos Reis, a southern city where the plant is located, had revoked its construction license, said Leonam Guimaraes, assistant to the president of the state-owned company.
The delay will consequently move the operation date of the plant from May to July 2015, said Guimaraes.
Construction of Angra 3 started in 1984, but was put on hold two years later due to pressure from the media and environmental groups.
Last year, Brazil's Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao announced plans to complete Angra 3 and build more nuclear plants.
Available at: http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/3790086
The association of southeast Asian Nations (Asean) raised the signal during its summit in Cebu in 2007: Its member-nations would include nuclear power among the mix of energy to be able to sustain their increasing energy requirements as the countries are fast developing.
President Arroyo herself then said that the Asean leaders underscored the need to improve energy-use efficiency, and diversify energy supply through the development of alternative-energy sources, such as biofuels and “civilian nuclear power.”
Some of the Asean nations carried out their plan to go nuclear.
Five of the 10 Asean countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam—are moving for the construction of nuclear power plants in their respective countries, said visiting nuclear expert Dr. Sueo Machi, Forum for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA) coordinator of Japan and former commissioner of Japan Atomic Energy Commission. He spoke at the Public Seminar on Nuclear Energy by the FNCA at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) headquarters in Quezon City.
The time frame for the start of operation of the nuclear power plants is from 2015 to 2021.
The Asean countries’ use of nuclear power “is very significant, very important in terms of energy security because it contributes to diverse energy sources,” Machi, a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the BusinessMirror in an interview.
“It will be very important for their economic development because it enhances competitiveness,” he pointed out.
Machi said that nuclear power is suited to developing countries because it is around 14 times cheaper than solar power.
“Solar energy is very expensive; you need a big area for the panel. In Japan, if you have a 1-gigawatt [GW] power plant using solar [energy], you need the whole area of [34.5 kilometers circular] Yamanote [railway] line covered by solar panel. And in case of wind power, you need three times more area,” he explained.
He added that it is also “very important in terms of mitigation of carbon-dioxide [CO2] emission.”
Machi said in the interview that Indonesia—which is planning to put up its first two nuclear power plants of 1-GW capacity each in 2015 and 2017—is still awaiting the signing by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of a law that would provide for the establishment of a company that would put up and run the power plant.
Thai officials have decided to construct two power plants—1 GW in 2020 and 1 GW in 2021—but it is yet subject to Cabinet approval.
Machi said documents are being prepared, “like a feasibility study,” to be submitted to the Cabinet in the first half of 2011.
He said nuclear experts in Thailand have already identified some “candidate sites” for the power plants.
The Vietnamese National Assembly approved in early December 2009, Machi said, the plan to have four nuclear power plants constructed in the socialist country at 1GW each in 2020 and 2021.
Experts have identified two sites with two power plants to be constructed on each site.
He said it took Vietnam almost five years before it was able to finally approve its plan.
Vietnam will have to determine next the design of the power plants based on the preliminary feasibility study made by experts.
“Now they will make a full feasibility study and design, including what type of reactor they will use—the pressurized-water reactor, boiling-water reactor, or Candu [Canada Deuterium Uranium] reactor. They will do detailed analysis of design in connection with costs and many other [concerns],” he said.
Of all the Asean countries planning to construct nuclear power plants, Malaysia “is a little bit behind,” Machi said.
It is still in the stage of doing a feasibility study, which will have to be approved by the Cabinet.
“[However], there are newspaper [reports] saying the [Malaysian] government is very positive on nuclear power. The public already knows it, but the Cabinet and Congress still have [to make the] final decision,” he said.
Two decades after the 600-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) was mothballed, the Philippine government announced in July 2006, through its Science and Technology department, that nuclear energy is included in the long-term energy-development program of the Arroyo administration, an energy mix that also include fossil fuels, geothermal and renewable power.
This led to the National Power Corp. (Napocor) asking the Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) to conduct a feasibility study on the BNPP last year.
Napocor announced in December that Kepco has recommended that the BNPP could be rehabilitated. (Kepco has been running Kori 2, an “exact copy” of BNPP, for two decades already, making the Korean company an expert in the use of the same generation of power plant.)
Last week Napocor said it would decide on whether it would recommend the recommissioning of the 600-megawatt BNPP after Kepco has submitted this month the cost estimate and time frame needed to rehabilitate the power plant.
At the same time, Napocor president Froilan Tampinco said the state power agency is yet to decide on whether it will take part in the rehabilitation of the mothballed BNPP, which was never operated since its construction was finished in 1986.
He said Napocor prefers to do so with a legislative mandate.
A legislative measure, House Bill 6300, a consolidation of four bills calling for the recommissioning of the BNPP and asking for a $1-billion fund, is still pending in Congress. The bills, which stirred debates in and out of the House, have Tarlac Rep. Mark Cojuangco as one of the authors.
‘Difficult to understand why BNPP is not operating’
During the FNCA forum, Machi remarked: “It is difficult to understand why the Filipino people spent so much [$2.3 billion to construct BNPP], but could not open [it].”
“I think the crucial point is public acceptance. You [Philippine nuclear experts] have to have a good understanding and support by public to nuclear [power]. You [nuclear experts] must inform the people about the purpose of nuclear power, why you need nuclear power in this country. Maybe the people do not know,” Machi pointed out in the interview. “The public must be informed why you [the Philippines] need a nuclear power plant.”
The BNPP was mothballed in 1986 owing to opposition over its alleged structural defects, its being geologically unsafe, and the overprice and the corruption involved in its purchase.
But scientists have repeatedly belied the safety issues.
Nuclear experts said the BNPP structure is within international standards, a “Mercedes-Benz” of nuclear power plants, having been built to withstand earthquakes—as manifested by its having been unscathed by the Pinatubo Volcano eruption in 1991.
Likewise, Dr. Renato Solidum, director of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, earlier said there is no active fault line in the area. And if a fault line exists, he said the BNPP could be reinforced “by engineering design.”
Early last year, Dr. Carlos Arcilla, director of the National Institute of Geological Sciences at the University of the Philippines, disclosed to the BusinessMirror an electrical resistivity survey he did with Bureau of Soils geologist Mario Collado, which concluded that “no distinct evidence of geological structures like fault and fractures are identified [beneath the nuclear power plant].”
Arcilla has said that since studies have shown that no fault exists under or near the BNPP, the issue “should be laid to rest.”
He added that the claim of volcanic danger to BNPP “is a nonissue,” saying that the two recorded eruptions of Mount Natib occurred 27,000 years and 60,000 years ago.
Global nuclear-power renaissance and climate change
The sharp rise of international oil prices in 2006 pushed governments worldwide to scramble for alternative-fuel sources. At the same time, international expert reports confirming that carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels cause climate change, turned the search to fever-pitch—not only for alternative, but also for clean-energy sources.
Use of biofuels and renewable sources became fashionable. Nuclear power—which was practically ignored for two decades after the 1979 Three Mile Island and 1986 Chernobyl accidents—started its renaissance because besides being an energy source, it meets the requirement for a clean power source. continued on a5
Nuclear power is among the popular options to cut carbon emissions because it emits virtually no greenhouse gases. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it produces only 2 grams to 6 grams of carbon per kilowatt-hour. Or about the same as wind or solar power, and less than 1 percent of carbon produced by coal, oil or natural gas.
Machi told the seminar that for the operation of a 1,000 MW power plant for one year, a nuclear-powered plant emits 0.15 million ton of CO2, while one powered by coal emits 6.51 million ton of CO2.
He added that replacing a 1 GW coal-power plant by nuclear power saves 6.4 million ton of CO2 a year.
He also pointed out that the operation of 55 nuclear power plants in Japan, saved about 20 percent of total CO2 emission in Japan, he said.
Intl nuclear power development
The IAEA website on December 2, 2009, show that there are 436 operational nuclear power reactors and 53 are under construction.
The increased interest in nuclear power now is best shown in the big number of power plants being constructed. In 2007, there were only 30 nuclear power plants under construction. As of December 2009 there were 56.
It should be noted that South Korea, which operates Kori 2—BNPP’s “sister” power plant and constructed at the same time as the latter—now has 20 nuclear power plants with six new ones being constructed.
At the same time, Japan—which is crisscrossed by earthquake faults—has 53 operational nuclear power plants and two are being constructed.
China, has 11 nuclear power plants, with 16 more being constructed. China’s nuclear power plant-construction binge is inspired by its fast-growing economy, which requires more energy.
India has 17 nuclear power plants, with six more under construction.
US has the biggest number with 104 operational nuclear power plants and one under construction. It is followed by France with 59 nuclear power plants and one more coming.
Bangladesh, one of the poor Asian countries, is in the early implementation of its planned two 600 MW nuclear power plant project.
As Machi said, Japan needs nuclear power to sustain the energy requirement by its industries and homes.
“For Japan to further contribute to world development, we need nuclear energy,” he said.
So do the Asean countries which have decided to power their growing economic development with nuclear energy.
Available at: http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/science/20964-five-asean-countries-going-nuclear.html
German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle will make tough demands in talks with nuclear power operators over extending the lifespan of their plants, abstracts from a newspaper article quoted him as saying on Sunday.
The government would siphon off "at least half of additional profits which companies would achieve as a result of the lifespan extension," Bruederle said in an interview with the Handelsblatt business daily, ahead of publication on Jan. 18.
The legal treatment of such a deal could take various forms such as "for example a tax solution, but it could also be handled via a foundation or a special fund," Bruederle said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is committed to allowing longer running times for the 17 reactors than laid down in a 10-year old deal between a former government and the nuclear industry.
Power utilities including RWE (RWEG.DE) and EnBW (EBKG.DE) are faced with the prospect that some of their plants might have to be shut this year unless a new deal is brokered soon.
First talks between the government and the four nuclear operators, which also include E.ON (EONGn.DE) and Vattenfall Europe [VATN.UL], are scheduled at the Chancellery for late on Thursday.
But there are also differences within Merkel's coalition over the timing and shape of action -- conservative Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen is for going slowly while Bruederle, of the Free Democrats, wants a faster solution.
Bruederle told the paper he would prefer a "fixed price" solution hammered out amongst the four operators first, to avoid having to negotiate with each one individually.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE60G0CR20100117?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews&rpc=401
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.