1. U.S., Russia Never So Close on Iran Nuclear Issue: Diplomat
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The positions of Washington and Moscow on the Iranian nuclear issue "have never been so near," said U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle here on Wednesday.
Beyrle told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that neither the United States nor Russia needs a nuclear arms race in the East Asia and the Middle East.
The nuclear non-proliferation treaty remains effective as long as the two sides synchronize their stances, said the ambassador, adding that otherwise current situations would be further jeopardized.
Washington was mulling over the switch from dialogue to sanction against Tehran, said Beyrle.
If Iran turned down the draft deal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to which so far it has not responded, then one should prepare for something more serious, said Beyrle.
Under the IAEA draft deal, most of Iran's existing low-grade enriched uranium should be shipped to Russia and France, where it would be processed into fuel rods with the purity of 20 percent. The higher-level enriched uranium will then be transported back to Iran.
However, Tehran rejected a Dec. 31, 2009 deadline imposed by the U.S. administration to accept the deal and posed its own ultimatum earlier this month.
The West shall either sell nuclear fuel to Iran, or swap nuclear fuel for Iran's enriched uranium in smaller batches instead of at once as the U.N. plan requires, said Tehran.
The United States and its Western allies have been accusing Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons under the disguise of civilian nuclear power. Iran has denied the accusation and stressed its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
Discussions held on Saturday between negotiators from Iran, five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany on the Iranian nuclear issue in New York ended with no clear agreement.
Available at: http://english.cctv.com/20100121/101096.shtml
Iran's Foreign Ministry says Tehran has not made any new proposal regarding a proposed fuel swap deal, describing reports to the contrary as "Western media hype."
"Iran has offered no new proposal concerning the supply of fuel to the Tehran research reactor," Mehr News Agency quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast as saying on Wednesday.
"Our views are the same as what was previously announced and basically there has been no new development regarding the issue" he said.
"Iran is ready to exchange fuel in stages. Should both sides accept the basis of the proposal, discussions may be held over the approach," he added.
"We are still waiting for the response of the other party," the spokesman underlined.
This is while, diplomats say Iran has formally rejected a proposed deal to ship most of its low-enriched uranium abroad, and receive the 20 percent-enriched uranium at a later date.
Iranian officials earlier said that Tehran has always insisted on a simultaneous exchange of enriched uranium.
Iran had earlier announced that it would enrich uranium up to 20 percent purity, should Western countries refused to supply the country with the required nuclear fuel.
The enriched uranium will be used to power the Tehran Research Reactor, which provides radiomedicine for some 800,000 cancer patients.
While the West accuses the Islamic Republic of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear pursuit, Iran says it is entitled to pursue the technology for civilian purposes, urging nuclear powers to abandon their atomic arsenals.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116630§ionid=351020104
3. Iran to Unveil Three New Home-Built Satellites: Report
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Iran will unveil three new satellites in February, a report said Wednesday, amid Western concerns that Tehran is using its nuclear and space industries to develop atomic and ballistic weapons.
ISNA news agency quoted Communications Minister Reza Taghipour as saying that one of the three home-built communications satellites is still under construction.
Taghipour named the three satellites as Toloo (Dawn), Ya Mahdi and Mesbah-2, but did not elaborate on exactly when they would be launched.
Ya Mahdi, Taghipour said as quoted by ISNA, was an "experimental satellite" and the launch would be for testing camera and telecommunications equipment.
Mesbah-2, which is under construction, "is a low-orbit telecommunication satellite for storing and sending messages," he said.
"It can do different tasks, not as a 24-hour link, but it can be used for limited communication applications."
Iran's defence minister Ahmad Vahidi said Wednesday that Toloo is a "reconnaissance satellite," ISNA reported.
Vahidi had previously said Toloo would be unveiled during celebrations in early February marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
He said last month that Toloo was designed by Sa Iran, also known as Iran Electronics Industries, an affiliate company of the defence ministry.
"Needs of armed forces in operations are met with local and reliable equipment of the defence industries of this ministry," Vahidi was quoted as saying.
Iran's first home-built satellite, the Omid (Hope), was launched last February to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
The launch sent alarm bells ringing in the international community, which voiced concern over Iran's development of technology that could be used for military purposes.
The West suspects Iran of secretly trying to build an atomic bomb and fears the technology used to launch space rockets could be diverted into developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Tehran denies having military goals for its space programme or its nuclear drive.
Iran had earlier announced it was building seven new satellites, including three for high orbit positions.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCDd1NvNvsNUIU4Us1P-aYbvT9HA
4. Powers 'Shifting to Sanctions' in Dealing with Iran
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A senior US diplomat says the six major powers that are involved in nuclear talks with Iran are considering a transition from negotiation to new sanctions.
"At present, we are considering the possibility of a transition from dialogue to sanctions because we have always had two parallel ways," RIA Novosti quoted the US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle as saying on Wednesday.
"The hope is always there that Iran could finally respond positively on IAEA proposals, but if not, we have to be prepared for something more serious," Beryrle added.
The remarks come as an IAEA spokeswoman, Gill Tudor, on Wednesday declared that a UN-brokered deal for nuclear swap between Iran and the West is "still on the table."
Political directors from the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) met in New York on Saturday to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast on Wednesday reiterated that Iran is ready to accept the nuclear swap deal if takes place in stages.
"Iran is ready to exchange fuel in stages. Should both sides accept the basis of the proposal, discussions may be held over the approach," Mehman-Parast said.
"We are still waiting for the response of the other party," he added.
Tehran has repeatedly declared that it will not give up the Iranian nation's nuclear rights under Western pressure.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116663§ionid=351020104
5. Stalled Atom Fuel Offer to Iran Still on Table-IAEA
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The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it still hoped to seal a draft deal on enriched uranium between Iran and big powers despite Tehran's rejection of terms meant to stop the material being used for atomic bombs.
Diplomats familiar with the International Atomic Energy Agency's contacts with Iran said on Tuesday that Tehran had notified the U.N. agency about two weeks ago that it could not accept central aspects of the draft deal. This followed months of dismissive or ambiguous remarks made through the media.
The United States quickly dismissed Tehran's reply as "inadequate." Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, delivered the reply to the agency's new director-general Yukiya Amano in a meeting earlier this month, diplomats said.
Iran's failure to meet an effective U.S. deadline of December 31 to accept the October plan devised by then-IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has prompted Western powers to start pursuing harsher U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
But IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor told Reuters: "The proposal made by the IAEA in October 2009, which was supported by France, Russia and the United States, continues to be on the table."
"The IAEA will continue to work in good faith as an impartial intermediary. We hope that agreement among the parties will be reached as quickly as possible (to) contribute to the establishment of confidence," said Tudor.
The IAEA appeared to be cautioning the West not to write off the deal or more diplomacy. Russia and China have also called for more negotiations, opposing more punitive sanctions which they believe may hinder a peaceful solution.
NUCLEAR FUEL SWAP
Under the deal Tehran would transfer 70 percent of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for conversion into special fuel rods to keep a nuclear medicine reactor running.
The arrangement aimed to reduce Iran's LEU reserve below the quantity needed for the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, if the material were refined to a high degree of purity.
Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons ability under cover of a civilian enrichment programme that Tehran says will fuel a future network of nuclear power plants so it can export more of its abundant oil and gas.
Iranian hardliners, however, have called the LEU reserve a critical strategic asset against arch-enemies, such as Israel.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast affirmed on Wednesday that Tehran's stance was unchanged and it had not reopened discussions with Western powers.
"We are prepared for the phased exchange of fuel. If the other side shows and announces its readiness, we can start talking about the details and review future steps," he told the semi-official ISNBA news agency.
Iran's current stockpile would be good for 1-2 bombs and it continues to enrich around the clock, albeit at a relatively slow pace due to apparent problems with ageing centrifuges.
A Western diplomat at the U.N. Security Council in New York said the deal seemed to have been definitively rebuffed by Iran and underlined Iran's lack of good faith, although the door was always open to further dialogue.
Available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE60J4YL20100120
Iran has told the head of the U.N. nuclear agency that it does not accept an international proposal committing it to quickly export most of the material it would need to make a nuclear warhead, diplomats said Tuesday.
For months, Iranian officials have used the media to criticize the plan backed by most of the world's major powers and to offer alternatives to one of its main conditions — that the Islamic republic ship out most of its stock of enriched uranium and then wait for up to a year for its return in the form of fuel rods for its Tehran research reactor.
While critical of such statements, the United States and its allies noted that Iran had yet to respond to the International Atomic Agency regarding the plan, first drawn up in early October in a landmark meeting in Geneva between Iran and the six world powers, and then refined later that month in Vienna talks among Iran, the U.S., Russia and France.
But Iran now also has told the IAEA — which chaired the Vienna talks — that it wants an alternative to the plan. Its version effectively rejects the key demand that it agree to a tight timetable in shipping out most of its enriched uranium supply, said the diplomats.
The talks in Vienna came up with a draft proposal that would take 70 percent of Iran's low-enriched uranium to reduce its stockpile of material that could be enriched to a higher level, and possibly be used to make nuclear weapons.
That uranium would be returned about a year later as refined fuel rods, which can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material. Iran maintains its nuclear program is only for the peaceful purpose of generating energy.
The Geneva talks grouped the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany around the negotiating table with Iran. Diplomats from three of those big powers said Tuesday that Iran's counterproposal to the IAEA was essentially a rehash of an already publicly floated offer that fell far short of the six nations' expectations.
In a Jan. 6 meeting with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the chief Iranian delegate to the agency, said his country would exchange enriched uranium only on domestic soil and only simultaneously for research reactor fuel, said the diplomats, who asked for anonymity because their information was confidential.
That would delay any exchange for at least a year or so — the time needed to make the rods for the Tehran reactor. And that, in turn would give Iran time to increase its enriched uranium stockpile to a level where it would still have enough to make a nuclear weapon even if it exported the 1.2 tons (1,100 kilograms) specified in the original draft agreement.
In addition, the Iranian counterproposal calls for exchanges in several tranches, said the diplomats. That, too, runs counter to the Western wish that Iran ship out most of its present accumulation of enriched uranium in one batch and thereby leave it with not enough to make a weapon.
"I'm not sure that they've delivered a formal response, but it is clearly an inadequate response," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington.
Repeated calls to the cell-phone number of Soltanieh, the Iranian chief IAEA delegate, were not answered Tuesday.
Around 2,200 pounds of low-enriched uranium are needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a single nuclear warhead, according to experts. Iran is believed to have well over that amount in its stockpiles and its thousands of centrifuges churn out new material by the day.
Iran points to nuclear deals with Western companies and governments that were put on ice after the Islamic Revolution overthrew the previous regime three decades ago in arguing it cannot trust that its interlocutors will deliver the fuel rods if it agrees to export most of its enriched uranium on good faith.
It argues that its nuclear program is aimed at creating a peaceful nuclear energy network to serve its growing population. The U.S. and other nations believe Iran's nuclear program has the goal of creating atomic weapons.
The United States and its Western allies have been pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions. But with Russia, and especially China, skeptical of any new U.N. penalties, they have to tread carefully to maintain six power unity on how to deal with the Islamic Republic.
A meeting Saturday of senior diplomats from the six powers focused on possible new sanctions but participants said it reached no agreement.
"I don't think that we bridged the different views that the United States and others and China have about the — about the issue of sanctions," Crowley said. "These are long-standing concerns, and we'll continue to talk to China about them."
International concerns include Iran's refusal to heed U.N. Security Council demands that it freeze its enrichment program; fears that it may be hiding more nuclear facilities after its belated revelations that it was building a secret fortified enrichment plant, and its stonewalling of an IAEA probe of alleged programs geared to developing nuclear arms.
Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=9602562
1. South Korea Will Launch Preemptive Strike in Case of Imminent Nuclear Attack: Minister
Yonhap News Agency
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A preemptive strike would be the only way for South Korea to defend itself if it were to confirm North Korea has clear intentions of launching a nuclear attack, Seoul's chief of defense said Wednesday.
The latest remarks by Defense Minister Kim Tae-young come as the two Koreas opened a second day of talks on further developing a joint industrial complex in the North. The talks came just days after Pyongyang warned of armed action against the South over unconfirmed reports that Seoul has drawn up a contingency plan in case of a regime collapse in the communist country.
"We would have to strike (North Korea) right away if we detected that it has a clear intention to attack (South Korea) with nuclear weapons," Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a local defense forum.
"It would be too late and the damage would be too big if, in the case of a North Korean nuclear strike, we had to cope with the attack. There can be no changes to this principle."
Kim made similar remarks in 2008, then as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shortly after Pyongyang test-fired several short-range missiles off its west coast. In a show of anger, North Korea kicked out a number of South Korean officials then working at inter-Korean project sites. The country also threatened "more powerful" attacks of its own.
"We need to go strong in one hand while also striving not to let the talks slip away as there is a possibility of North Korea rejoining the six-party talks," the minister added.
Indicating a willingness to return to the stalled multinational negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons development, North Korea has been demanding that international sanctions on it be lifted. Pyongyang quit the talks with South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia last year in anger over international condemnation of a prohibited long-range rocket launch.
Minister Kim also hinted at Seoul's willingness to rediscuss with Washington the timing of a planned return of wartime operation control to South Korea, calling the current date for the move "a bad time."
Seoul, which is technically still at war with Pyongyang after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty, is slated to take back wartime operation control, or OPCON, from Washington on April 17, 2012.
The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) currently retains wartime control of South Korea's military, a legacy of the Korean War when the United States fought for South Korea against the North. South Korea regained peacetime command of its forces in 1994.
"The military must prepare for the worst situation, which would be to have OPCON returned to us in 2012," Kim said. "This is, however, not a matter to be solved within the country as it is a political promise made between states. Adjusting the time (of the OPCON transfer) would have to be discussed with Washington."
The militaries of South Korea and the United States have been working to replace the U.S.-led combined forces mechanism with a Seoul-led joint command system following a 2007 agreement.
Kim added the OPCON transfer and the departure of U.S. forces in South Korea were "two different matters," emphasizing all 28,500 U.S. troops stationed here since the Korean War will remain in the country.
"The United States' military support of Korea will actually be strengthened," he said.
The USFK had said last week the transition of OPCON will not affect ties between the two longtime allies.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/01/20/71/0301000000AEN20100120006700315F.HTML
1. Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant to be Under International Safeguards
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India will place the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant’s Units 3 and 4 in Rawatbhata under the India Specific Safeguards Agreement (ISSA) of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in accordance with the separation plan of Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.
“In 2010, the two units of Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant (RAPP) at Rawatbhata will be placed under ISSA and the process has already begun,” Nuclear Power Corporation Of India Limited (NPCIL) officials said.
IAEA officials would visit the sites to make appropriate arrangements for monitoring and enabling units 3 and 4 to come under the nuclear watchdog’s safeguards, officials said.
India has to place a total of 14 of its nuclear reactors under the IAEA safeguards, out of which eight - including units 5 and 6 of RAPP - are already under international safeguards since last year.
Tarapur Atomic Power station units 1 and 2, RAPP units 1 and 2 and Kudankulam Atomic Power station Units 1 and 2, were also brought under the umbrella agreement of ISSA last year.
The process of placing all the 14 reactors under ISSA will be completed in 2014, the officials said.
Available at: http://beta.thehindu.com/news/article82434.ece?homepage=true
1. Pakistan Blocks Agenda at UN Disarmament Conference
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Arms negotiators failed to start talks on Tuesday on cutting nuclear weapons when Pakistan blocked the adoption of the 2010 agenda for the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.
The conference, the world's sole multinational negotiating forum for disarmament, spent much of 2009 stuck on procedural wrangles raised by Pakistan after breaking a 12-year deadlock to agree a programme of work.
The impasse on Tuesday suggested 2010 would be another year of halting progress.
Pakistan, which tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, is wary of the proposed focus in the programme on limiting the production of fissile material, which would put it at a disadvantage against longer-standing nuclear powers such as India.
It therefore has an interest in delaying the start of substantive talks, diplomats say.
“Even in the darkest days the agenda was adopted, because everything can be discussed under the agenda,” said one veteran official, unable to recall a similar delay in the past.
Adoption of the agenda at the start of the annual session is normally a formality, but Pakistan Ambassador Zamir Akram took the floor to call for the agenda to be broadened to cover two other issues.
Akram said the 65-member forum should consider conventional arms control at the regional and sub-regional level, in line with a United Nations General Assembly resolution sponsored by Pakistan and passed last year.
The conference should also negotiate a global regime on all aspects of missiles, he said.
“It is not our intention to create an obstacle but it's also not our intention to create a situation which is oblivious to what is happening around us,” Akram said.
The move forced the conference president, Bangladesh ambassador Abdul Hannan, to adjourn the meeting for consultations to find a consensus. He said he hoped to resume on Jan. 21 with a renewed discussion of the agenda.
Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the former Russian diplomat who heads the UN in Geneva and is secretary of the conference, said failure to adopt the agenda would be a move backwards, arguing that it was flexible enough to include all topics of concern.
But Akram said Pakistan did not want to work with a programme that was “frozen in time”.
Reaching a consensus is likely to prove difficult, as India rejected a discussion of regional conventional arms control, arguing that the conference should focus on global issues.
Diplomats said Pakistan's attempt to include regional arms control appeared directed at its bigger and better-armed neighbour.
The UN General Assembly also called on the conference last December to agree a 2010 work programme including immediate negotiations to ban the production of fissile material, in a resolution sponsored by Canada.
Available at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/03-pakistan-blocks-agenda-at-un-disarmament-conference-ss-09
1. India, Hungary Hold Talks on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation
The Times of India
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India and Hungary, the current chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), on Tuesday discussed civil nuclear energy cooperation. The European country's foreign minister Peter Balazs, who is currently on an official visit to India, also backed India's claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
Balazs met his counterpart S M Krishna and held talks on a range of issues from terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan to partnership in trade, investment, IT, pharmaceuticals, auto-components, energy, defence, security and agriculture.
In an exclusive interview to TOI just before his meeting with Krishna, Balazs said that he had come to India seeking to enhance bilateral ties and that Hungary would fully support India's candidature for a permanent seat in the UNSC.
"Hungary is in favour of a permanent seat for India. This is my first visit to India and I am glad to be here and learn about India's position on international issues like world economy, recession and the role of G-20,'' said Balazs.
He said that he looked upon his meeting with Krishna as an opportunity to exchange views on "the problems of the world'' including terrorism. On terrorism, however, Balazs refrained from making any comment on the Mumbai attacks and India's insistence on Pakistan dismantling the terror infrastructure which caused 26/11. "This is a very complex situation. Earlier there were countries which would go to war against each other. But now we have networks which are the main challenge. These networks cannot be identified with any one country,'' said Balazs.
"A good approach would be to find the sources of these networks and eradicate these centres,'' he added.
Balazs said that Hungary, which is a member of NATO and has troops deployed in Afghanistan, backed Obama's plan to initiate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by July 2011. "We have to go in the same direction. We have offered 200 more troops in addition to the 160 which are already there because if we don't have enough protection, things will be back to what they were earlier. However, our target is peace. We should look for a date where we can give direction to the Afghan people. And if that happens, we should leave as soon as possible,'' said Balazs.
Balazs admitted that there were differences within the EU over fixing emission cut targets but added that the group would soon arrive at a "common denominator''. While countries like France and Germany want a 30% cut by 2020 from the 1990 level, others like Hungary and Poland are opposing this. "We are meeting in February to reconsider our positions. We are not hiding our problems though. There is full transparency in what we are doing. EU has always managed to reach a compromise and it is likely to happen here also,'' he said.
Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-Hungary-hold-talks-on-civil-nuclear-energy-cooperation/articleshow/5477933.cms
Jordan and Spain signed an agreement on Wednesday to cooperate in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
"This agreement represents an important landmark in the Kingdom 's pursuit towards a fully-integrated program for nuclear energy," Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan said after signing the deal with Spain's Secretary of State for Commerce, Silvia Iranzo.
Under the agreement, Jordan and Spain will cooperate in using nuclear energy for generating power and desalination water as well as conducting research related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The two countries will also cooperate in the training of human resources, management of nuclear fuel and waste, nuclear safety and security, radiation and environment protection and drawing up laws related to the nuclear field among other issues, according to the JAEC.
Jordan is planning to build up to four nuclear reactors by 2040 with a potential to provide 60 percent of the country's energy needs.
In October 2009, Jordan announced the launch of the site feasibility study for the Kingdom's first nuclear power plant.
The plant, located about 12 km to the east of the Aqaba coastline, is expected to initially generate 750 to 1,100 megawatts of electricity and is scheduled to be operational by 2020.
The agreement with Spain is the eighth one for Jordan, which followed similar agreements with France, China, South Korea, Canada, Russia, Britain and Argentina.
The JAEC has also signed memoranda of understanding with the United States and Japan as the first step to sign nuclear cooperation deals with the two countries. The commission is also preparing to sign nuclear deals with Romania and the Czech Republic.
Available at: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news203712.htm
3. South Korea Eyeing Nuclear Cooperation with India
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Ahead of President Lee Myung-bak's visit to New Delhi, South Korea today said it is keen to forge cooperation with India in the nuclear energy sector as the two countries plan to upgrade their ties to strategic partnership.
Lee will embark on a four-day visit to India on Sunday, his first overseas travel this year, during which he will hold a summit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
Lee will seek to expand his country's relations with India beyond their traditional economic cooperation to a strategic partnership on diplomacy, security and global issues during his trip there next week, his aides said.
"The two sides plan to agree to (establish) a kind of (high-level) strategic dialogue on the political and security fields," Cheong Wa Dae, a senior official at the presidential office was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
When former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun visited India in 2004, the two countries agreed to pursue a "long-term cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity." "This time, we are in consultations with India to enhance the relationship by one notch," an official said.
Buoyed by a $20 billion-contract with the United Arab Emirates to build four nuclear reactors there, South Korea is also trying to make inroads into India's nuclear energy market, the report said.
"First, South Korea needs to have a nuclear energy pact with India," an official said. "There is no such pact between the two sides. There will be related discussions (during President Lee's trip)."
India's Ambassador to South Korea, Skand R Tayal also expressed hope for future bilateral cooperation in the nuclear power sector.
"South Korea's capacity to build and operate nuclear power plants is well-known," he said. "There have been preliminary contacts already between Korea Electric Power Corp. And India's Nuclear Power Corp. For possible partnership," Yonhap quoted Tayal as saying separately.
"India offers profitable opportunities to dynamic Korean companies to make India a base for manufacturing," he said.
"We are also looking for a strong partnership in the services sector. We hope that Indian IT companies would enter into major collaborative projects with Korean companies, which would be advantageous to both," the Indian envoy here said.
India and South Korea have significantly bolstered their economic cooperation recently, highlighted by their just-launched free trade deal, called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
Two-way trade totaled $15.5 billion in 2008 and the pact, which went into effect from January 1, is expected to boost trade volume by 15 per cent annually on average.
Lee and Singh will also agree to hold a joint committee meeting attended by their Trade Ministers in the later half of this year and lay out a joint vision for expanding mutual trade.
South Korea also needs to increase cooperation with India in diverse areas where they can create synergy by combining the competitive strengths of each nation, Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun said yesterday.
"Korea and India have a long history of exchange and cooperation based on common history and experience... Recently, we have seen significant progress in bilateral economic relations, especially in trade and investment," Yoon said at a ceremony here to mark the launch of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in South Korea.
"Despite such rapid increase in bilateral trade and investment, there are still large areas of cooperation for further growth, considering the size of both economies," he said.
The minister said cooperation in the private sector needs to be made in industrial areas where either country has competitive advantages.
"Korea can boast of its advantage in manufacturing industries, while India has strength in knowledge and service industries," he said.
"Economic cooperation also needs to be strengthened in building infrastructure, such as roads, railways, telecommunication networks, power generation and ports as India's economy shows rapid growth," he added.
Yoon said that both nations also need to work together in the science and technology field, where India has a competitive edge.
He also sought India's help to guide South Korea's space sector. South Korea recently launched its first rocket into space.
Available at: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/south-korea-eyeing-nuclear-cooperationindia/83601/on
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates discussed China's military buildup with Indian leaders in New Delhi on Wednesday and told reporters he wants talks with China on nuclear weapons, something Beijing has resisted.
Mr. Gates said after a meeting with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony that the two leaders discussed China's military modernization program and "what the intentions of that military buildup were."
"There was a discussion about China's military modernization program and what it meant," he said.
The defense secretary then said that while he did not speak for the Indians, the Pentagon wants to engage China in more routine, in-depth strategic talks "so as to avoid any miscalculations or misunderstandings down the road."
The Pentagon has held one meeting in recent months with China on its strategic nuclear weapons program, which remains shrouded in secrecy.
Efforts to hold more in-depth talks have been resisted by China, whose military views the Pentagon as its main potential enemy in a conflict over Taiwan. A defense official said Chinese military leaders fear that holding extensive nuclear talks would reveal secrets about its arms that could be used in nuclear targeting or cyberattacks.
China is building an array of new missile systems, including at least four systems that carry strategic nuclear warheads. They include the road-mobile DF-31 and DF-31A, the JL-2 submarine-launched missile and the long-range DH-10 land attack cruise missile.
U.S. intelligence officials have said little is known about the size of China's nuclear arsenal, the conditions under which it would be used and who controls it.
Mr. Gates said his discussions with Indian leaders on China were not extensive but focused generally on the "common interest in security of the Indian Ocean and security of the global commons, and the global commons meaning the air, sea, space, and if you're talking about the Internet, the ether, I suppose."
Tensions between India and China have heightened in recent weeks as a result of incursions by Chinese troops and aircraft near a disputed border between the two countries.
Mr. Gates was asked about concerns on China's cyberattack capabilities, which were highlighted recently by electronic strikes against Google and other U.S. companies in what many U.S. officials believe was a Chinese government-sanctioned strike.
On strategic nuclear talks with China, Mr. Gates said his past role in strategic nuclear talks with the Soviet Union were beneficial.
"I'm not sure those talks ever actually reduced any arms, but the dialogue over a long period of time with great candor about nuclear capabilities, thinking about nuclear options, thinking about how each side looked at nuclear weapons and at their military modernizations, I think played a significant role over time in preventing miscalculations and mistakes in the relationship between these two superpowers during the Cold War," he said.
"I think that kind of a dialogue with China would be most productive and frankly in the best interests of global stability."
Richard Fisher, a military affairs specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said Mr. Gates' comments are a sign the Obama administration is beginning to understand that China's nuclear buildup is undermining their arms control policies.
"Engaging China in a strategic arms dialogue may seem logical but it is fraught with dangers," he said. "China's military abhors 'transparency,' especially regarding nuclear weapon issues."
Available at: http://washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/21/gates-wants-nuclear-talks-with-china/?feat=home_headlines
2. High-Level Officials to Meet Next Month for Upcoming Nuke Summit: Source
Yonhap News Agency
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High-level representatives from South Korea, the U.S. and 41 other nations will gather in the Netherlands next month to hold a preliminary meeting for the landmark Nuclear Security Summit to open in Washington in April, an informed source said Wednesday.
"The preparatory meeting will take place in the Hague on Feb. 9," the source said, requesting anonymity. "It is largely aimed at drafting a joint statement to be issued at the end of the Nuclear Security Summit."
The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama has said it will convene the summit this spring to discuss ways to combat nuclear terrorism. The U.S. has not announced an exact schedule yet but the source said it will be held from April 12-13 in Washington.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his counterparts from 42 countries are expected to attend the summit.
Those nations had the first preparatory meeting of high-ranking officials in Tokyo in December and another round is likely to be held in Washington in March to fine-tune the wording of the joint statement.
South Korea plans to dispatch Cho Hyun. deputy foreign minister for international organizations, global issues and treaties, to the session in the Hague and the U.S. will be represented by Gary Samore, the National Security Council coordinator for arms control and non-proliferation, according to the source.
"The Nuclear Security Summit is designed in principle to discuss the nuclear terror threat. So the North Korean nuclear issue is not on the list of formal agenda items. But participants are expected to touch on the issue, as it is a serious setback to global security," the source said.
The North Korean nuclear crisis will likely draw more attention during the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which is scheduled to take place at the U.N. headquarters in New York from May 3-28. The conference is held every five years.
North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003. Regional powers are struggling to coax the communist state to rejoin the treaty.
The Obama administration is seeking to reinforce the NPT amid criticism that its predecessor was negligent in dealing with the system.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/01/20/86/0301000000AEN20100120002200315F.HTML
3. IAEA Discussing Nuclear Safety with Arab Officials
The Jordan Times
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Nuclear experts and engineers from across the Arab world are gathering in Amman this week to discuss the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and greater cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Experts, officials and technical staff of nuclear energy institutions from 11 Arab countries started their meetings in Amman Sunday for a workshop organised by the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) in cooperation with the IAEA.
Titled, "Regional Training Course on State Systems of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material (SSAC) for States in the Middle East with Limited Nuclear Material and Activities", the five-day workshop is designed to give participants the chance of examining required safety and security guidelines, especially those representing countries that have plans for a peaceful nuclear programme, like Jordan and the UAE.
Sultan Hamad Al Shamsi, the UAE's government relations coordinator at the Critical National Infrastructure Authority, said: "We are still in the first steps and are focused on security and site selection, so this workshop provides a good opportunity to build on that."
The UAE, like the Kingdom, is in the preparatory stages of their nuclear programme, which entails the establishment of up to four nuclear reactors.
Nada Abbas, physicist at the Sudan Atomic Energy Commission, said that Sudan aims to maintain strong bonds with the international agency despite the lack of a nuclear programme or activities.
"We still don't have nuclear materials in Sudan, but there are plans to establish a power plant in the foreseeable future. We are seizing this opportunity to become more familiar with IAEA requirements and establish more direct contacts," Abbas said.
Fadhel Hmood, senior physicist at the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology, noted that although Iraq does not have a nuclear power programme, it looks to increase relations with the IAEA, particularly in safeguarding nuclear materials.
Although most nations in the region have long-standing agreements with the IAEA, the course represents the first technical workshop of its kind held in the region, according to agency officials
Malik Derrough, IAEA senior inspector for state level coordination, told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the event that the workshop aims to bring technical staff in the region up to date on agency requirements and cooperation. It also aims to balance the needs of emerging peaceful nuclear programmes with Arab countries that do not have nuclear ambitions, he added.
Inaugurating the course on Sunday, JNRC Director Jamal Sharaf underlined the need for safeguarding nuclear materials in light of the increasing demand for nuclear energy for peaceful uses in the region, highlighting the SSAC as an effective regulatory tool.
Under the SSAC, national institutions and experts monitor the use, location and transport of nuclear materials and coordinate with the IAEA.
The course also covers the collection of data on nuclear materials, the role of national inspectors, legal assistance offered by the IAEA and additional protocols for the export, import and mining of nuclear materials, the JNRC said.
In addition to regulatory safeguards, the workshop addresses the legal framework of the NPT and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Participating countries include Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen.
Available at: http://dailyme.com/story/2010011900002494/iaea-discussing-nuclear-safety-arab-officials.html
Italy, which plans to reintroduce atomic power after a ban dating from the Chernobyl disaster, will announce sites for new nuclear plants in 2011, an official said on Wednesday.
Under-Secretary for Economic Development Stefano Saglia said the sites in the controversial program would be chosen in accord with regional governments, the ANSA news agency reported.
The centre-left governments of Naples' Campania region and that of Apulia, also in the south, have already said they would not host nuclear plants on their territory.
Italy's Greens sparked a fierce political debate in December when they released a list of sites they said the government was considering, and the issue is expected to colour regional elections in late March.
The far left lost all representation in parliament in the elections, and Berlusconi enjoys comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament.
Nuclear power was banned in Italy after a referendum held in 1987, the year after the reactor accident at Chernobyl, in the Ukraine, sent highly radioactive fallout over large areas of Europe.
The country's four nuclear plants operating at the time were shut down.
The centre-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced shortly after taking office in May 2008 that it would begin building nuclear power stations to solve the country's dependence on foreign oil and gas supplies.
Opponents to nuclear power would have to obtain 500,000 signatures on a petition to stage a new referendum at a time when public opinion has shifted considerably from just a few years ago.
The Berlusconi government has set the goal of meeting 25 per cent of its electricity needs through nuclear power by 2030.
It wants to build between eight and 10 plants, with the first reactors set to be operational by 2018-19.
Saglia said nuclear power would lower the price of electricity in Italy to 40 euros per megawatt hour from the current 65 euros ($A100).
Available at: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/italy-wont-unveil-nuke-sites-until-2011-20100121-mm7f.html
2. Iran to Launch First Nuclear Power Plant by Next Autumn
Fars News Agency
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Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi declared on Wednesday that the country's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr will come on stream by the next autumn.
"God willing, we will launch the Bushehr power plant in the first half of the next (Iranian) year (beginning on March 21)," Salehi told FNA.
Russia has been building the nuclear facility in Iran since 1994. The start-up of the station, originally scheduled to be completed in 1999, has been delayed on several occasions.
Noting that Russians are striving to complete the nuclear power plant at the earliest, Salehi reiterated that the minor differences between Tehran and Moscow over the completion of the nuclear facilities have been resolved.
"We hope to hear good news on Bushehr power plant in the first half of the (next Iranian) year as the plant has passed most tests successfully," he added.
In December, Salehi had announced that the power plant in Bushehr had successfully passed the main tests.
Western corporations began the construction of the Bushehr facility in the 1970s. However, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Western companies reneged on their commitments and pulled out of the project due to political pressure from Washington.
Iran then turned to Russia to complete the project. In 1992, Tehran and Moscow signed a deal to complete the construction of the nuclear power plant.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8810301488
Kuwait has signed a 20-year agreement with France to develop the Gulf state's nuclear industry, beefing up the Gulf states' leadership of an Arab drive to develop nuclear power that will reshape the region's energy policy.
The United Arab Emirates sealed a $20.4 billion deal in December for the construction of four 1,400-megawatt nuclear power plants with a consortium led by South Korea's state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corp. Westinghouse of the United States is part of the group.
The Korean corporation is one of the world's leading nuclear power specialists and operates 20 reactors worldwide.
Kuwait held talks with Areva of France, a major nuclear energy company that had hoped to win the emirates deal with the personal backing of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who visited Abu Dhabi in May 2009 to open a military base.
Kuwait's deal "is an intergovernmental agreement for cooperation between the French and Kuwait governments to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," Bernard Bigot, chairman of France's Atomic Energy Commission, told Kuwait's Parliament on Jan. 16. The emirates' first reactor is scheduled to start up in 2017. South Korea will also provide Jordan with its first nuclear plant by 2014.
Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, plans to build four nuclear stations.
In June, Cairo signed an agreement with Russia, which is building a nuclear reactor for Iran, that cleared the way for Moscow's involvement in building Egypt's nuclear power industry. The first plant is slated to be constructed on the Mediterranean coast at a cost of $1.5 billion.
Saudi Arabia's plans are not as advanced as the emirates', but the United States and France appear to be the front-runners to win the contract to launch the kingdom's nuclear program.
The emirates wants to be the first Gulf state to develop a civil nuclear program, largely to meet rising demand for electricity and for desalination plants, which provide the Gulf nations' water.
The emirates' oil reserves, primarily controlled by Abu Dhabi, are steadily declining and it does not produce enough natural gas to meet growing demand.
Abu Dhabi heads and largely funds the emirates' nuclear program.
Unlike its partner emirate Dubai, Abu Dhabi has emerged from the global economic meltdown in good shape and current estimates are that its economic growth will continue, with energy consumption more than doubling in the next decade, from 15.5 gigawatts to 40GW.
According to the World Nuclear Association, demand for energy in the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain -- is increasing by 10 percent each year.
Al Ahram, Egypt's leading newspaper, hailed the emirates for blazing "a new trail in the region, offering an example for all countries in the use of peaceful nuclear energy."
"For years, the matter of nuclear energy has been taboo," it commented in its weekly edition. "It was approached often with hesitation and sometimes deceit. …
"By launching a peaceful nuclear program and keeping it transparent, the U.A.E. aims to serve as a model for others."
The emirates federation also has a $41 billion deal with the United States under which it will buy nuclear fuel for its nuclear plants from the Americans. In return it pledges to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and not reprocess the spent fuel.
The U.S. Congress, mindful of the emirates' hefty trade with Iran across the Gulf and suspicions that includes material for Iran's contentious nuclear program, has sought to impose strict conditions on the federation's nuclear efforts.
Most recently, Democrats in the Congress demanded that President Barack Obama delay the deal after a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family was acquitted of torturing another man despite plainly doing so on a 45-minute videotape made public in May 2009.
But the administration has given no indication it plans to take any action that might jeopardize its relationship with the emirates, a close ally and the fourth-ranked producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Saudi Arabia, which has its own agreement with the United States on nuclear energy, is also facing power shortages as demand has surged because of rapid economic growth.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/01/20/Kuwait-Emirates-sign-up-for-reactors/UPI-11991264024129/
1. Korea Electric in Nuclear-Plant Talks With 5 Nations
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Korea Electric Power Corp. is in discussions with at least five countries to build nuclear-power plants after winning a $20 billion order from the United Arab Emirates last month, a company official said.
“We’re in serious talks with Turkey, Jordan and Malaysia and we’ve attracted China and India’s interest,” Chung Kun Mo, a nuclear adviser to the South Korean state-run utility, said in an interview at his office in Seoul yesterday. “There are many countries knocking on our door. Even Kenya is interested.”
Korea Electric has gained 21 percent since a group led by the company won the U.A.E. contract on Dec. 27, beating Areva SA and General Electric Co. South Korea, aiming to secure $400 billion of nuclear plant contracts by 2030, should also tap electricity generation demand from African nations, Chung said.
“Developing markets including African countries would be a good target for South Korea as they lack experience and need more power capacity to meet demand,” said Choi Won Kyung, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co. “Korea Electric can win at least one order every year after successfully building the U.A.E. plants. The pie is getting bigger.”
Korea Electric is capable of building reactors cheaper and quicker than international rivals because the company has been adding nuclear generators at home “almost every year,” while the rest of the world took a cautious view on atomic energy over the past quarter of a century, said Chung, a former South Korean Science and Technology Minister who currently also advises the U.A.E. on nuclear power.
The cost of building Korea Electric’s APR1400 reactor is $2,300 per kilowatt, compared with $2,900 for Areva’s EPR and Japan’s ABWR, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said on Jan. 13.
The utility rose 3.9 percent to 41,600 won, the highest since Dec. 24, 2007. The benchmark Kospi Index gained 0.2 percent.
The average operation rate of South Korea’s 20 commercial reactors reached 93.3 percent in 2008, according to government data. That’s higher than the 89.9 percent rate in the U.S. and 76.1 percent in France, the world’s top nuclear-energy users. Atomic power accounts for almost 40 percent of South Korea’s electricity supply, more than double the global rate of 15 percent.
Most countries either scrapped or stalled nuclear-power plans after the 1986 Chernobyl reactor explosion. Poland rejected proposals to go nuclear after the accident in the former Soviet Union. The Italians voted to shut the country’s atomic plants in a 1987 referendum.
As of Dec. 1, 435 reactors are operating in the world, while 53 are under construction and 299 are expected to start up mostly within 15 years, according the World Nuclear Association.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aYFji5xgkN5A&pos=7
Work is set to begin on the first building to be constructed at the Iter platform in France after a contract for the Coil Winding Facility was signed. Meanwhile, test facilities to help prepare for the next stages in the international pursuit of nuclear fusion are progressing.
What the Coil Winding Facility will look like (Image: Iter) The contract for the Coil Winding Facility heralds the beginning of Iter construction at the Cadarache site. It will house the workshop where some of the international fusion project's largest components - the coils for the Poloid Field (PF) magnets - will be wound. Most of the components for Iter are being built at existing industrial installations in Iter's member countries, but five of the six PF coils - which range in diameter from 8 to 24 metres - are simply too big to be transported and therefore must be wound on site.
At 253 metres long, 46 metres wide and 19 metres high, the Coil Winding Facility will be one of the largest of the 39 buildings that will be erected on the Iter platform over the coming years. The construction contract was signed on 13 January by Didier Gambier of the European Domestic Agency and Francois-Xavier Clédat, president of the French consortium that will be building the massive structure. Work is expected to start in the middle of this year.
Iter is an international project aiming to demonstrate the use of nuclear fusion to produce useful energy, but will not actually generate electricity. Although Iter is not expected to achieve deuterium-tritium fusion until 2026, plans are already in place for the demonstration and prototype plants (known as Demo and Proto) that will come after it, ultimately leading to commercial fusion power plants.
Building for the future
One of the many considerations in such future power plants will be the development and characterization of materials that can withstand the intense flux of highly energetic neutrons in the deuterium-tritium plasma where fusion takes place. This is not a particular problem for Iter, but will be crucial in the later reactors. The International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF), a project to develop and investigate the special materials that will be needed in the successors to Iter, is also progressing towards the establishment of its own dedicated prototype facilities.
The building that will house IFMIF's prototype accelerator at Rokkasho (Image: Iter) IFMIF, launched in 2007, is currently in the engineering validation and engineering design activities (EVEDA) phase, and is developing prototypes to validate technologies for an accelerator and also a lithium test loop. Design activities for the IFMIF are taking place at various European and Japanese institutes, coordinated from Rokkasho in Japan.
The IFMIF accelerator will reproduce the conditions in an operating fusion reactor using accelerated deuterium interacting with a fast-flowing film of liquid lithium to generate neutrons of the required energy. According to IFMIF project leader Pascal Garin, the flux rate achieved in the accelerator will be slightly above that of a reactor, meaning that six years of irradiation would replicate the degradation equivalent to that seen in ten years of continuous operation of a fusion reactor.
The prototype for the accelerator is already being manufactured in various locations in Europe, and the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has already prepared a building at Rokkasho to host the facility, where components are expected to start arriving in 2011.
The lithium loop will also be located in Japan at a dedicated facility at Oarai.
"Four or five years from now, the IFMIF Engineering Design Report, the equivalent of the 2001 Iter Final Design Report, will be delivered," said Garin. "I hope that the process of deciding on a site for IFMIF will be launched before, in order to ensure some continuity between the current EVEDA phase and the construction phase."
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Fusion_projects_building_for_the_future-1901107.html
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