1. Clinton Says U.S. Committed to Diplomacy With Iran
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is committed to a diplomatic solution to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear arms program.
“We remain committed to pursuing every diplomatic avenue available” in order “to persuade Iran to forgo a nuclear weapons program,” Clinton said today in Wakefield, Quebec, after a meeting with her counterparts from Canada and Mexico.
She spoke after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was forced out of Iran’s cabinet by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who named the country’s atomic energy chief to replace him.
The U.S. relationship with Iran “is not toward any individual,” Clinton said. “It is toward the country, the government, which is complex and challenging to deal with.”
Last week’s talks in Geneva among Iran, the U.S., China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. represented “a good start,” Clinton said. “It wasn’t more than that, but it was a good start.”
Iran agreed to more talks about its nuclear program, in a meeting set for January in Istanbul.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-13/clinton-says-u-s-committed-to-diplomacy-with-iran-update1-.html
The Federal Government fears a nuclear confrontation between Iran and Israel could draw Australia into another war in the Middle East, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and published in Fairfax newspapers today.
The cables present Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd as being very "supportive" of Israel and he is praised for his tough stance against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But the cables also reveal serious concerns within Australia's intelligence bureaus that Australia and the US could be drawn into a nuclear war if Iran and Israel come to blows.
Dr Michael Wesley, executive director of the Lowy Institute, says the revelations are interesting but hardly surprising.
"That's the nightmare scenario that's worried a lot of people for a long time," he said.
"Even though Israel hasn't formally acknowledged that it has nuclear weapons, most people understand that it is a nuclear-armed state.
"Obviously with Iran rapidly gaining those capabilities and having made some fairly uncompromising statements about wiping Israel off the face of the map, you would have to think there would be a considerable threat if Iran does get nuclear weapons."
It has been a tough few weeks for Mr Rudd, who has withstood a barrage of embarrassing revelations contained in the WikiLeaks cables.
Among the cables were perceptions within the US embassy that he is a micro-manager as well as more potentially damaging remarks revealing he favours a tough stance against China.
But for now at least it appears Mr Rudd is among friends in Israel.
He is presently touring the Middle East, where he took the time to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
Mr Rudd paid his respects to those who died in the Holocaust and admitted Australia could have done more to help Jewish people before World War II.
"We as Australia among the other nations of the world attended the conference at Evian in 1938 and we, in Australia, like so many countries around the world, closed our hearts," he said.
"What we did then as a nation was wrong and we know what happened when others did the same."
Dr Wesley says the WikiLeaks cables with the most potential to harm Australia's foreign policy are the ones with the revelations about China.
"The Chinese are, to use a well-known phrase, brutal realists themselves," he said.
"They had little doubt about where Australia stood, so probably in terms of its embarrassment value, it gives them a chance to exercise a tiny bit of leverage against Rudd in particular.
"But I don't think it's a huge revelation to the Chinese."
Dr Wesley says most of the cables will do little more than embarrass those people named.
"It basically puts some issues on the table that probably the Government would rather not be out in the open," he said.
"A lot of what governments do depends on them keeping their rather frank assessments of each other secret and not in public view.
"If some of this material, for instance, impacts on Australia's image in China or any other country, then that will be a step backwards.
"But in terms of actual hard strategic interests, I don't think it will do a lot of damage."
WikiLeaks has still only released a small percentage of the 250,000 documents it is believed to possess.
Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/12/13/3091889.htm
3. Iran's President Abruptly Fires Foreign Minister
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Iran's president abruptly fired his foreign minister Monday and named the nuclear chief as acting top diplomat, the latest sign of a rift at the top levels of the Islamic theocracy as the country faces intense pressure from the West over its nuclear program.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave no explanation for the change in a brief statement on his website. But the fired diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, is seen as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And the president may be aiming to install a figure more personally loyal to himself as Tehran resumes critical talks with world powers over the nuclear program that has brought four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Iran.
The nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, is one of Ahmadinejad's 12 vice presidents.
"This move shows not only the internal tensions but the primacy of the nuclear issue as Iran's main foreign policy objective," said Rasool Nafisi, an expert on Iranian affairs at Strayer University in Virginia.
Just a week before the shake-up, Iran resumed negotiations with six world powers over its suspect nuclear program after a long hiatus and another round is planned for early next year. Four sets of U.N. sanctions appear to be biting into the Iranian economy and Ahmadinejad may be looking for a loyal foreign minister who will help him clinch a deal with the six powers to ease the punitive measures.
Mottaki, foreign minister since 2005, was fired in the middle of a tour of African nations that took him to Senegal, where he delivered a message from Ahmadinejad to the West African nation's leaders on Monday, according to the official IRNA news agency.
Mottaki made no immediate public comment on his dismissal.
A fourth round of sanctions was imposed in June over Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a key part of its nuclear program that is of international concern because it can be used both for making reactor fuel and atomic weapons. Iran insists its aims are entirely peaceful, but the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency says its years of investigating have not been able to confirm that.
The sanctions are making it more difficult for Iran to trade with the outside world.
The president of Iran's chamber of commerce, Mohammad Nahavandian, said last month that import prices for most goods have risen by 15 to 30 percent because of sanctions. That is because companies, particularly Asian firms, are bumping up prices because they know Iran is now a desperate market and insurance is difficult — if not impossible — to obtain on shipments to Iran.
And many European firms avoid dealings with Iran or their banks refrain from transactions with Iran.
Some of the tensions between Ahmadinejad and Mottaki have spilled out into public in this closely guarded nation.
In the past year, Mottaki opposed a decision by Ahmadinejad to appoint his own special foreign envoys to key areas such as the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea region. Mottaki found the appointments embarrassing to the Foreign Ministry and allegedly took his complaint to the supreme leader. Khamenei has final say in all state matters in Iran. He also runs the nuclear program and stands at the top of the clerical leadership that rules the country.
Khamenei reportedly sided with Mottaki, forcing Ahmadinejad to moderate his position and change their title only to the level of advisers.
The difference was exposed in September when Mottaki publicly attacked Mohammad Baghaei, one of the four trusted foreign policy envoys appointed by Ahmadinejad, calling him an "inexperienced" figure who was "creating problems for the country's foreign policy." Mottaki overtly said that parallel foreign policy work must be avoided, a clear reference to Ahmadinejad appointees who operated outside the Foreign Ministry.
Iranian media have also reported in the past year that some lawmakers were pushing for Mottaki to be dismissed, arguing that he failed to adequately defend Iran at international organizations such as the United Nations.
Mottaki's dismissal also amounted to a show of force by Ahmadinejad as he battles with rivals within Iran's conservative camp — a split that grew during the turmoil sparked by his disputed re-election a year and a half ago. Mottaki has been an ally of one of those critics, parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who accuses the president of overstepping his bounds and seeking to cut parliament and others out of key decisions.
Mottaki was a backer of Larijani's presidential campaign in the 2005 election, which Ahmadinejad won. Nonetheless, he became Ahmadinejad's foreign minister.
It was not immediately clear how long Salehi — who holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. — would remain in the caretaker role. The semiofficial Fars news agency said Mohammad Ghannadi, a prominent nuclear scientist, is expected to replace Salehi as the new nuclear chief — an indication Ahmadinejad wants him to keep the job permanently. Ghannadi is currently Salehi's deputy at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
Salehi — or any other candidate — has to win a vote of confidence from the 290-seat parliament to be appointed to the job.
Prominent conservative lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi says he was stunned to hear the news, saying the parliament was not aware of Ahmadinejad's decision to dismiss Mottaki, according to khabaronline.ir news website.
The president thanked Mottaki for his more than five years of service — spanning Ahmadinejad's entire time in office.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she did not expect Mottaki's dismissal to affect the nuclear talks, which should continue regardless of the officials involved.
"Our relationship with Iran is not toward any one individual," Clinton said during a visit to Canada. "It is toward the country, the government, which is complex and challenging to deal with because it is not just one channel, there are several channels because of the way their government is established."
The next round of talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China — as well as Germany is scheduled for January.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0uSxui7UI2O36svp4q6KQCy_xNA?docId=64a63125e21d472591b9ba7ce914684c
The Turkish ambassador to Tehran says Turkey will only host talks between Iran and the six major world powers and will not participate in the negotiations.
“Since Iran was interested in talks being held in Turkey, and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, the US, and Germany) had a positive view toward this matter, Turkey accepted Iran's proposal,” Ambassador Umit Yardim said on Monday.
Last week, Iran and the P5+1 group wrapped up two days of multifaceted talks in Geneva, Switzerland.
At the comprehensive talks, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili represented Iran and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton represented the P5+1 group.
Both sides agreed to hold the next round of talks in Istanbul in late January.
“As you know, Turkey is sensitive toward Iran's nuclear issue after signing the Tehran declaration, because this matter is also related to regional issues,” ISNA quoted Yardim as saying.
The foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, and Brazil signed a declaration in Tehran on May 17, according to which Iran would ship 1200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel rods to power the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment.
The nuclear declaration gives Iran a guarantee since the low-enriched uranium is to be stored in Turkey and would be returned if Iran does not receive the 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel within one year.
However, the US and its allies snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council to press for the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran over the country's civilian nuclear program, which they claim is cover for a nuclear weapons program.
Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected the accusations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has the right to use nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes and to enrich uranium to produce fuel.
And the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/155327.html
1. Ex-US Intel Chief Foresees South Korea Military Action
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The former chief of US intelligence has warned that South Korea has lost its patience with provocations by North Korea and "will be taking military action."
Retired admiral Dennis Blair, who was director of national intelligence until May, said he did not think that hostilities would escalate into a larger war with artillery attacks on Seoul because North Korea knows it would lose.
"So I don't think a war is going to start but I think there is going to be a military confrontation at lower levels rather than simply accepting these, this North Korean aggression, and going and negotiating," he said on CNN's State of the Union.
Blair said the North had gone beyond its usual pattern of brinkmanship with an artillery barrage on a South Korean island that killed four people November 23, and the sinking in May of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 sailors.
"So South Korea is beginning to lose patience with the North, which there was a great deal of patience," said Blair, who just returned from South Korea.
Asked what that meant, the retired admiral said, "It means they will be taking military action against North Korea."
His comments came as South Korea was preparing to go ahead with live fire drills off its coasts, but not near the contested maritime border with the North in the Yellow Sea.
North Korea's artillery attack on the island of Yeonpyeong was the first on a civilian area since the end of the Korean war in 1953.
Amid a flurry of diplomatic attempts to defuse regional tension, Beijing has called for an emergency meeting between chief delegates to long-stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear disarmament.
The North's leader Kim Jong-Il told Dao Bingguo, a visiting senior Beijing official, that Pyongyang was willing to rejoin the talks if other neighbors also agree to come forward, Yonhap news agency reported, citing a senior diplomatic source in Seoul.
But Blair suggested that South Korean leaders would continue to take a tough line against Pyongyang, and that such an approach would have wide popular support.
"In fact, a South Korean government who does not react would not be able to survive there," he said.
He said China had less influence on North Korea than some believe because of its fear of instability on its border, which the North "can sort of turn on any time they want."
"That being said, China's policy is not commensurate with the overall stature and growth of China," he said. "They still have a policy of the weak, which is, 'Don't want anything to happen in North Korea, no instability there. Let's just keep things divided, a divided peninsula.'"
Instead, China should talk with the United States and South Korea about the future of Korea, he said, saying a united peninsula free of nuclear weapons and that did not threaten China was possible.
Blair also suggested in the interview that the administration of President Barack Obama had been distracted by its focus on the Middle East.
"And I think these events in East Asia have made us realize that there are big United States interests out there and we are going to have to provide steady leadership in more than one region of the world," he said.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hPygiaUmdnHUbYG5EhCgLksLJKwg?docId=CNG.d17e4b4251cf887af9f26758f0b95e46.21
2. North Korea Threatens South Korea with Nuclear War
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North Korea warned Monday that U.S.-South Korean cooperation could bring a nuclear war to the region, as the South began artillery drills amid lingering tension nearly three weeks after the North's deadly shelling of a South Korean island.
The South's naval live-fire drills are scheduled to run Monday through Friday at 27 sites. The regularly scheduled exercises are getting special attention following a North Korean artillery attack on front-line Yeonpyeong Island that killed two South Korean marines and two civilians.
The Nov. 23 artillery barrage, the North's first assault to target a civilian area since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, began after the North said South Korea first fired artillery toward its territorial waters. South Korea says it fired shells southward, not toward North Korea, as part of routine exercises.
After the attack, South Korea staged joint military drills with the United States and also pushed ahead with more artillery exercises, despite the North's warning that they would aggravate tension.
A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer tried to play down the significance of this week's drills, saying they are part of routine military exercises and would not occur near the disputed western Korean sea border where last month's attack took place. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office policy, gave no further details.
North Korea, however, lashed out at Seoul, accusing South Korea of collaborating with the United States and Japan to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang.
That cooperation "is nothing but treachery escalating the tension between the North and the South and bringing the dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over the Korean peninsula," Pyongyang's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has often issued similar threats during standoffs.
In a show of unity, top diplomats from South Korea, the United States and Japan met in Washington last week and said they would not resume negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program until the country's behavior changes. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited South Korea last week and warned Pyongyang to stop its "belligerent, reckless behavior."
On Monday, South Korean and U.S. defense officials met in Seoul for one-day discussions on North Korea and other issues that are part of regular defense talks, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.
At the opening of the meeting, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Schiffer said "the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Korea and with the Korean people in the face of recent North Korean provocations," referring to South Korea by its formal name.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg was also set to visit China later this week for talks on North Korea amid international pressure for Beijing to use its diplomatic clout to rein in North Korea, its ally. After the China meeting, senior U.S. officials accompanying Steinberg will travel on to Seoul and Tokyo.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, meanwhile, leaves the United States for North Korea on Tuesday. Richardson, who has often acted as a diplomatic troubleshooter, has made regular visits to North Korea and has also hosted North Korean officials in New Mexico.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iathaAQSRtbaLS7NjwXbufzth84w?docId=213775b00a134e28b0ce9a4d35f17d9a
3. Russia Prods North Korea on Nuclear Programme, Attack
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Russia's foreign minister told his North Korean counterpart on Monday that Moscow was deeply concerned over Pyongyang's uranium enrichment efforts and condemned an attack on a South Korean island, the ministry said.
Meeting with the reclusive North's Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov also urged Pyongyang to abide by a 2005 commitment to abandon its nuclear programme, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Lavrov "expressed deep concern in connection with information about the creation...of industrial uranium enrichment capabilities," it said.
North Korea described details of its expanded nuclear programme late last month, saying it had thousands of centrifuges for uranium enrichment -- a second potential route to a nuclear bomb in addition to its plutonium programme.
The revelations came a week after a North Korean artillery attack killed four people on a South Korean island, the first time the North hit a civilian area on South Korean soil since the Korean war in the 1950s.
Lavrov told Pak that the attack "deserves condemnation," the Russian ministry said.
Lavrov also suggested U.S.-South Korean military exercises have added to tension on the Korean Peninsula and stressed the need to resolve it without any further use of force.
Media were not invited to any part of meeting, and the North Korean foreign minister made no apparent public comments.
In an interview published on Friday by Interfax news agency, Pak said that the "hostile and confrontational policy" of the United States and South Korea justified "strengthening our defense potential with a focus on nuclear deterrent forces".
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests -- in 2006 and 2009 -- and is believed to have enough fissile material to make between six and 12 bombs.
Russia shares a short border with North Korea, which was a beneficiary of Soviet largesse during the Cold War, but now has far less influence on Pyongyang than China.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6BC43U20101213
4. South Korea, U.S. Launch Joint Committee to Deter North Korea's Nuclear Threats
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea and the United States have formed a joint committee to make decisions about the alliance's nuclear policy, stepping up their commitment to deterring threats from North Korea's nuclear programs and other weapons of mass destruction, officials here said Monday.
The Extended Deterrence Policy Committee was officially set up at a meeting of the Security Policy Initiative (SPI) forum in Seoul earlier in the day between senior defense officials from the two nations, the South's defense ministry said in a statement.
"The Extended Deterrence Policy Committee was launched as the two sides signed terms of reference to systemize it," said a senior ministry official.
"Institutionalizing the committee is meaningful for the alliance because it paves the way for the two governments to draw up countermeasures against North Korea's nuclear threats and weapons of mass destruction," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
South Korea and the U.S. agreed to hold the first meeting of the committee in February or March of next year in Washington, headed by Deputy Defense Minister Chang Kwang-il and his U.S. counterpart, Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs.
South Korea and the U.S. agreed to form the committee at their annual defense ministers' meeting in October.
Extended deterrence means the U.S. can provide tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, conventional strike and missile defense capabilities to defend South Korea in case of an attack from North Korea. It is the first time for the U.S. to create such a committee with a non-NATO ally.
During the SPI talks, the allies also reaffirmed their commitment to respond firmly should North Korea strike the South again, after its Nov. 23 artillery on the South's border island of Yeonpyeong.
The SPI talks, the 27th of their kind, come as tensions run high on the Korean Peninsula following the North's island attack that killed four people.
The bombardment also injured 18 people and destroyed dozens of homes, marking the first attack by the North on a civilian area on the South's soil since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
South Korea and the U.S. have held SPI talks regularly since 2005 to discuss a wide range of military and defense issues. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops in South Korea to help defend its ally against North Korea.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/12/13/1/0301000000AEN20101213007700315F.HTML
2. India to Extend Ties with Russia in Defence, Nuclear Spheres
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India and Russia are likely to sign half-a-dozen agreements, including a long-pending one on co-developing and producing a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's two-day visit beginning December 21.
Another important agreement will be in the civil nuclear sphere where both sides will seek to fill in more details to the umbrella agreement signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow in December last year. India is willing to shift the Russian nuclear site from West Bengal and a concrete offer in this respect will be made during the visit.
The two sides are also expected to ink pacts in space and trade, the two areas where they have made tentative beginnings but want substantial cooperation to take place. Going by past trends, summit meetings help iron out many wrinkles that officials from both sides are unable to solve.
In particular, Russia will be seeking to address the hesitation by its banks to get involved in a big way. A mega diamond company Alrosa has already entered into deals with Indian companies and is looking to take the partnership forward.
From the Indian side, there is great interest in developing a long-term partnership in the pharmaceuticals sector. New Delhi is prepared to help reduce Russian dependence on imported drugs through joint ventures. But the entry of its companies has so far been on hold due to Russian reservations on doing away with clinical trials.
Delegations from both sides are also slated to hold discussions on greater cooperation in the oil sector. India is interested in getting a stake in Trebs and Titov oil fields where the participation of its companies has been stymied by tender conditions.
Besides these two fields, the Oil and Natural Gas Commission is also keen on taking forward its plans to get involved in the Bashkortostan gas field.
Reliance is interested in setting up a refinery in Russia, a move that could help it get a foothold in the Russian strategic oil and gas reserves that are being thrown open for commercial exploitation.
Fighter aircraft deal
Indian security concerns over its depleting fighter aircraft fleet will be reduced to some extent if both sides manage to ink the FGFA deal. Over time, at least 250 advanced fighters will be inducted into the Indian Air Force as a result of the agreement. Both sides have already agreed to jointly develop and produce military transport planes.
Mr. Medvedev and Dr. Singh will also discuss the regional situation including Afghanistan where both sides are keen to avoid a situation that foists a fundamentalist, theocratic regime in Kabul. India will seek to address Russian reservations on the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline in this context and explain that economic development of Afghanistan, especially in Pashtun areas, would get a boost.
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article948540.ece
Agreements to support Russia's nuclear energy market, including plans to set up a facility to manufacture steam turbines, have figured in a list of strategic agreements signed by Alstom and major Russian energy companies.
The agreements were signed on 9 December in Moscow at a ceremony attended by Russian and French prime ministers Vladimir Putin and Francois Fillon. According to Alstom, the agreements confirm the French company's strategy to become a key partner for Russian infrastructure development. Agreements were also signed in the fields of hydro and thermal power generation and electricity transmission.
The nuclear agreements were signed under the Alstom-Energomash joint venture, which was established in 2007 to manufacture the conventional islands of nuclear power plants. These include a memorandum of understanding (MoU) detailing plans to set up a local facility to manufacture Asltom's Arabelle nuclear steam turbines and turbines for fossil fuel applications, as envisaged when the joint venture was first set up. The enterprise will also produce emergency diesel generators, according to Atomenergomash.
Atomenergomash CEO Vladimir Kashchenko said that building such a plant in Russia would enable the company to become Russia's number one supplier for turbines for nuclear power plants.
Another MoU was signed by Alstom and a joint venture between Russian energy company Inter Rao UES and Australian engineering company Worley Parsons to set up an engineering consortium to jointly design turbine islands for power plants based on Russia's VVER pressurised water reactor. Under the MoU, the Alstom-Atomenergomash joint venture will be responsible for component production, while Inter Rao-Worley Parsons will act as chief designer. According to Atomenergomash, the project's initial market is seen as nuclear construction projects in the Russian federation and other countries, although future expansion to non-nuclear applications is envisaged.
Alstom chairman and CEO Patrick Kron pointed to Russian plans to expand its power generation capacity to support the country's growing energy needs, including plans to nearly double its nuclear energy output by 2020. In addition, the country plans to double its hydropower capacity by 2030 and also has plans to improve energy efficiency through retrofitting, retirement and replacement of its existing fleet of thermal power plants.
"Russia has become over the last few years a strategic market for Alstom, both in the field of rail infrastructure and of power generation and electricity transmission," Kron noted.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Signing_flurry_for_Alstom_in_Russia-1312107.html
4. India, Germany Exploring Civil Nuclear Cooperation
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India and Germany are exploring the possibilities of a civil nuclear commerce partnership to take forward their strategic ties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said. Manmohan Singh, after a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Saturday, told reporters: "On the bilateral side, we deeply value Germany's consistent support, including in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for the opening of international commerce for India in the field of civil nuclear energy. We have discussed the possibilities of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy."
The prime minister said his meeting with Merkel also focused on promoting cooperation in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Chancellor Merkel told reporters that the bilateral ties between India and Germany were of "strategic nature" devoid of any trust deficit.
"Our partnership with India is of a strategic nature. Our goals are ambitious and there is no trust deficit, on the contrary we are cooperating very well," Merkel said
India has an ambitious plan of generating 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020. It has signed civil nuclear agreements with France, the US, Russia, Canada and Britain.
Speaking to reporters who accompanied the prime minister on his two-nation European trip on way back home, Secretary (West) in the ministry of external affairs, Vivek Katju, said Germany's competitiveness in this sector can help India in its ambitious civil nuclear programme.
"Germany has experienced significant competitiveness in this field. Their considerable power needs are met through nuclear energy. This will help us in our progress to generate civil nuclear energy. This will now be explored further," Katju told reporters on board the prime minister's special aircraft.
Germany has expressed its willingness to help India in developing turbine technology for nuclear reactors and also in safety measures for such plants.
The Indian prime minister was in Berlin on Saturday on a day-long visit after attending the 11th EU-India summit in Brussels on Friday, during which they announced a near-breakthrough in four years of stalled talks over the trade agreement.
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-Germany-exploring-civil-nuclear-cooperation/Article1-637578.aspx
Kuwait and France are to buy into Areva to the value of €900 million in a move to help the nuclear group "pursue its development plan" with increased capital.
Some €600 million ($800 million) of the investment comes from the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), acting on behalf of the Gulf state. The remaining €300 million is from the French state, and will temporarily take the nation's holding in Areva from 8.39% to 10.2% ahead of its intended introduction of the new shares to ordinary trading in 2011.
The deal would involve a stock split to the ratio of 1:10, which Areva will have to propose to its existing shareholders. The company said the transactions "will enable the group to strengthen its equity and pursue its development plan with a reinforced capital structure."
Following the stock split, KIA and the French state will pay €32.5 per share to the values of their investments. The deal includes a shareholders agreement between France and KIA "providing in particular for the stability of KIA's stake in Areva for 18 months." KIA will not have a seat on the Areva supervisory board, noted an announcement, while France will "make its best effort" to introduce the shares it has bought to ordinary trading in the first half of 2011.
Areva takes part in almost the full scope of nuclear power activities, from uranium mining through power technology to waste management.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C_Kuwait_takes_Areva_stake_1312101.html
The Philippines plans to strengthen its international engagement in arresting nuclear proliferation amid the continuing tension in the Korean peninsula, while promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy at home.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo discussed these plans during his meeting with visiting Director General Yukiya Amano of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations, which is currently implementing technical cooperation projects in various nuclear applications in the country.
In May, the Philippines played a critical role in pushing for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, nonproliferation as well as disarmament during its presidency of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN headquarters in New York.
During his visit from December 8 to 11, Amano visited the controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant that the UN agency is eyeing for possible assistance should it be rehabilitated.
Romulo said in addition to science and technology area, the Philippines benefits from the IAEA’s safety and security pillar through the “review and assessment of the possible rehabilitation of the plant. The Agency can also assist the Philippines if and when the government decides to include nuclear power generation in its present energy mix.”
Amano also met with Science Secretary Mario Montejo and Energy Secretary Rene Almendras and they discussed the agency’s programs in providing training to Philippine scientists as well as providing additional equipment and technical assistance in the implementation of projects in the nuclear field.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde told the IAEA chief, who visited the Jose Fabella Reyes Medical Center to inspect its radiotherapy facilities, of the government plan to expand its current cooperation with the IAEA in the area of cancer radiotherapy through regular training on cancer research and treatment for Philippine health professionals.
The Philippines has been identified by the IAEA as an excellent pilot member-state for the peaceful use of nuclear energy projects.
Available at: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/12/12/10/philippines-widen-role-nuclear-energy
3. Egypt to Build First Nuclear Plant by End of Decade
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Egypt announced that it will have a fully operational nuclear power plant by the end of the decade. The country’s ministry of electricity said that they plan to be ready to go on nuclear power to support Egypt’s power needs by 2019.
The state-run MENA news agency quoted Minister of Electricity Hassan Younis saying that Egypt will also erect three other nuclear plants by 2025.
Younis added that international bidding for the plant’s construction will begin at the end of the year.
According to the ministry, costs are expected to be around $1.6 billion.
Last month, Younis was in Russia for talks with Russian officials on boosting cooperation programs between the two countries, with special focus on the nuclear sphere.
Younis inspected a number of power generation nuclear plants in Russia to get an idea of the technology to be used.
The minister also held talks with heads of Russian companies specialized in manufacturing nuclear plants’ components.
The companies expressed strong willingness to contribute to Egypt’s nuclear program.
Egypt and Russia approved the formation of specialized working groups of experts to activate agreement of cooperation in the fields of development and training Egyptian cadres, nuclear stations technology as well as assessment and development of crude uranium sources and developing infrastructure and legislative framework to put Egypt’s nuclear program into effect, Younis added.
For his part, Chief of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko hailed cooperation between Russia and Egypt in the energy sector.
Rosatom said it is willing to engage in a bidding contest for the right to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, Kiriyenko said following a meeting with Minister Younis.
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