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Nuclear News - 12/21/2010
PGS Nuclear News, December 21, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski


A.  Iran
    1. US Commander Mike Mullen Reassures Gulf States on Iran, BBC News (12/18/2010)
    2. Iran-P5+1 Talks to Continue in Brazil, PressTV (12/18/2010)
    3. Iran Atomic Chief Salehi Takes Charge as New FM, AFP (12/18/2010)
B.  DPRK
    1. North Korea Agrees to Restart UN Nuclear Inspections: Richardson, AFP (12/20/2010)
    2. Pyongyang Issues ‘Massive Nuclear Disaster’ Threat, The Dong-a Ilbo (12/20/2010)
    3. UN Council Holds Emergency Meeting on Korea Crisis, Reuters (12/19/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Medvedev to Push for Military, Nuclear Deals in India, Giles Hewitt, AFP (12/20/2010)
    2. U.S. Republicans Fail to Amend Arms Treaty with Russia, Xinhua News Agency (12/19/2010)
D.  Nuclear Security
    1. Concern Grows Over Myanmar Nuclear Program, UPI (12/20/2010)
    2. WikiLeaks Cables: Bulgarian Nuclear Project 'Dogged by Safety Concerns', Tim Webb, The Guardian (12/20/2010)
    3. Egypt Claims it Refused Nukes from Blackmarket After Soviet Collapse, Noha El-Hennawy, Al-Masry Al-Youm (12/20/2010)
    4. WikiLeaks: Yemen Nuclear Material Was Unsecured, Associated Press (12/20/2010)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Egypt to Discuss Nuclear Plans in Paris, Washington, Adel Elbahnsawy, Al-Masry Al-Youm (12/20/2010)
    2. Malaysia Aims to Build 2 Nuclear Power Plants, Agence France-Presse (12/19/2010)
    3. International Conference on Nuclear Energy Underway in Jordan, Xinhua News Agency (12/15/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. DPRK Says "Feel No Need" to React to South Korean Artillery Drill, Xinhua News Agency (12/20/2010)
    2. Ahmadinejad Says World Powers Must 'Engage' Iran, Hiedeh Farmani, AFP (12/18/2010)
    3. Jordan to Install Four Radiation Monitoring Stations in February, Zawya (12/18/2010)



A.  Iran

1.
Iran Atomic Chief Salehi Takes Charge as New FM
AFP
12/18/2010
(for personal use only)


Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi officially took charge on Saturday as the Islamic republic's new foreign minister after his predecessor was fired by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, media reports said.

Iranian media reported that Salehi will be the interim foreign minister until the parliament officials endorses his appointment.

Under Iranian law, the president has to submit his nominations for ministerial posts to parliament for approval.

Salehi, who continues to head Iran's atomic energy body, took charge officially at a function which was also the farewell ceremony for his predecessor Manouchehr Mottaki who however was not present, media reports said.

Mottaki, 57, was fired on December 13 by Ahmadinejad during an official visit to Senegal.

His dismissal came after he hailed as a "step forward" remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear energy programme.

Clinton had told the BBC that Tehran could enrich uranium for civilian purposes in the future, but only once it has demonstrated it can do so in a responsible manner and in accordance with Iran's international obligations.

Mottaki's comments appeared to cut across the Islamic republic's official position, repeated almost daily, that its enrichment of uranium is non-negotiable.

Mottaki's sacking also came just days after Iran held crunch talks in Geneva on December 6 and 7 with world powers over its controversial nuclear dossier. Further talks are scheduled for next month in Iran's neighbour Turkey.

Salehi, 61, who was appointed atomic energy chief on July 17, 2009, has been a driving force behind Iran's atomic programme, and during his tenure, the country's first nuclear power plant has come on line.

Before taking up the post, he was deputy chief of the Jeddah-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Salehi is a PhD graduate of the prestigious MIT in the United States.

He served as Tehran's representative in the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency during the presidency of the reformist Mohammad Khatami.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ivwo7HpZJjdYxZT0NgTrISVrz4Wg?docId=CNG.9522fc9927aef9fcf793ea6745b5b4e0.451


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2.
Iran-P5+1 Talks to Continue in Brazil
PressTV
12/18/2010
(for personal use only)


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hinted that after talks with major world powers in Turkey, Tehran plans to continue negotiations in Brazil and then Iran.

Iran and the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US, plus Germany -- wrapped up two days of multifaceted talks in Geneva, Switzerland on December 7.

The comprehensive talks were held between Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the P5+1, after the West expressed willingness to return to the negotiating table.

Both sides have agreed to hold the next round of talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul in late January.

“I hope in talks in Istanbul, then in Brazil and then Tehran we could reach a framework of cooperation… this is to everyone's benefit,” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with IRIB on Saturday.

"There were positive points in [Geneva] talks… I think it is time that their [the P5+1] confrontational policy turns into interactional policy,” Ahmadinejad added.

"Using illegal leverage, the [UN] Security Council and economy is not right, especially in front of a great nation such as Iran."

The nuclear program excuse was an opportunity for the West to obstruct Iran's progress, the Iranian president said.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in June under intense pressure from the US, which claims Iran's nuclear program may have potential military applications.

Iran says that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to the peaceful applications of nuclear technology for electricity generation and medical research.

Iranian officials maintain that having numerous neighbors and a diverse range of trade partners gives the country a special economic obscurity, and have rendered the sanctions ineffective.

Ahmadinejad added that in recent years all Western efforts was to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, but they failed.

"The sanctions and resolutions were not effective… they turned into opportunity and motivation and increased the speed of Iran's progress," the president concluded.

Iran has announced that it will negotiate the issue of a nuclear fuel swap with the Vienna group -- France, Russia, the US, and the IAEA -- within the framework of the Tehran declaration, and that its multifaceted talks with the P5+1 will not include the nuclear issue.

Iran signed a declaration with Turkey and Brazil on May 17 based on which Tehran agreed to exchange 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil with nuclear fuel.

Available at:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/156084.html


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3.
US Commander Mike Mullen Reassures Gulf States on Iran
BBC News
12/18/2010
(for personal use only)


The top US military commander has reassured Persian Gulf nations of Washington's support in the face of regional concerns about Iran.

Speaking in Bahrain, Adm Mike Mullen said Tehran was a threat to peace but that the US "takes very seriously our security commitments in the Gulf region", AP news agency reported.

Gulf leaders have expressed fear over Iran's nuclear programme, which the US says is aimed at making a nuclear bomb.

Iran says its intentions are peaceful.

Adm Mullen held talks with the king of Bahrain, which hosts a large US naval base and lies across the gulf from Iran.

The US was "very ready" to meet any challenge from Iran, he said. "There are real threats to peace and stability here, and we've made no secrets of our concerns about Iran."

Iran has consistently denied that its nuclear programme is geared towards weapons, but was recently subjected to a fourth round of UN sanctions aimed at curtailing its nuclear activities.

However, Adm Mullen expressed fear that Iran was not being deterred.

"From my perspective I see Iran continuing on this path to develop nuclear weapons, and I believe that that development and achieving that goal would be very destabilising to the region."

He said he hoped Iran would one day become "responsible regional and international players", but he said he had not yet seen any evidence of this.

He said "all options remain on the table" for dealing with Iran, but repeated his view that a pre-emptive military strike was not favourable.

Earlier this month, Iran and world powers resumed nuclear talks in Geneva, which both sides characterised as positive, although there was no sign of a breakthrough.

Available at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12027220


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B.  DPRK

1.
North Korea Agrees to Restart UN Nuclear Inspections: Richardson
AFP
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


North Korea has agreed to permit the return of UN nuclear inspectors as part of a package of measures to ease acute tensions on the peninsula, US troubleshooter Bill Richardson said Monday.

In a statement issued as he visited Pyongyang, Richardson said North Korean leaders also agreed to negotiate the sale of nuclear fuel rods to a third party, "such as South Korea", and to discuss a military commission and hotline.

Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN, said also he was "very encouraged" that North Korea's military had forsaken retaliation after South Korean forces held a live-fire artillery drill on a flashpoint border island.

"During my meetings in Pyongyang, I repeatedly pressed North Korea not to retaliate," the New Mexico governor said.

"The result is that South Korea was able to flex its muscles, and North Korea reacted in a statesmanlike manner. I hope this will signal a new chapter and a round of dialogue to lessen tension on the Korean peninsula," he said.

Confirming a CNN report, Richardson's statement said Pyongyang had agreed to allow the return of inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

North Korea in April 2009 pulled out of six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and ordered US and IAEA nuclear inspectors out of the country, after the UN Security Council condemned Pyongyang for an April 5 rocket launch.

It staged its second nuclear test a month later.

Tensions have soared anew since a North Korean artillery attack last month on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which killed four people including civilians and damaged dozens of homes.

In addition, the North's disclosure last month of a new uranium enrichment plant on top of its longstanding plutonium operation has sparked fears of a potential new source of bomb-making material.

Richardson said the North Koreans would allow "IAEA monitors access to North Korea's uranium enrichment facility".

They were also prepared to negotiate "a deal for a third party, such as South Korea, to buy fresh-fuel rods from North Korea".

They would discuss the military commission, grouping representatives from the two Koreas plus the United States, "to monitor and prevent conflicts in the disputed areas of the West (Yellow) Sea".

And they were ready to create "a hotline between the North Korean and South Korean militaries to avert potential crises", Richardson's statement said.

In Pyongyang over the weekend, Richardson met top nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-Gwan and Major General Pak Rim-Su, who leads North Korean forces along the tense border with the South.

Richardson was due to brief reporters in Beijing on Tuesday, after his flight out of Pyongyang was cancelled on Monday owing to bad weather.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hvm3RHPr0TAb8iBlBoSgR3BP84Aw?docId=CNG.83881cb4742d6ee8cf68ac1c3900d725.111


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2.
Pyongyang Issues ‘Massive Nuclear Disaster’ Threat
The Dong-a Ilbo
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


North Korea reiterated its threat Sunday of a “nuclear war disaster” if the South Korean military conducts a firing drill on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, adding the U.S. will have to take responsibility.

The North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “We need to clarify in advance who should take responsibility for a looming second Yeonpyeong incident,” adding, “The U.S. should take the primary responsibility for instigating (South Korea) to conduct an act of aggression.”

“The international community overall, including neighboring countries, urge an unconditional halt to the planned shelling drill on Yeonpyeong Island, but the U.S. is openly encouraging an attack,” it said. “We will calculate with the U.S. all extreme situations and aftereffects that occur on the Korean Peninsula.”

“If South Korea pushes ahead with firing drills and shells cross the Northern Limit Line, the South will inevitably embrace an explosion of political chaos on the Korean Peninsula and the resulting tragedy,” it added. “We will inflict decisive and unrelenting punishment on aggressors that infringe upon the sovereignty and territory of our republic.”

Between the Korean People, a Web site run by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, issued two commentaries saying, “If war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, a massive nuclear disaster far more severe and massive than the Korean War will inflict damage on the Korean people.”

“If shelling takes place on Yeonpyeong Island, it will generate a grave danger to peace on the Korean Peninsula and across Northeast Asia.”

The Chosun Shinbo, the official newspaper of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, a pro-North Korea group, also said, “Had South Korea not canceled its suggested airstrike on North Korea when the Yeonpyeong shelling occurred, it could have expanded to all-out war,” hinting at stern retaliation by Pyongyang if Seoul resorts to measures such as air strikes using fighter jets.

Available at:
http://english.donga.com/srv/service.php3?bicode=050000&biid=2010122031288


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3.
UN Council Holds Emergency Meeting on Korea Crisis
Reuters
12/19/2010
(for personal use only)


The U.N. Security Council began an emergency meeting on Sunday in hopes of preventing the escalating crisis on the Korean peninsula from spiraling out of control.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who called a news conference on Saturday about the spat between North and South Korea, said he hoped the 15 council members could agree on a unanimous statement that would send a "restraining signal" to both Seoul and Pyongyang.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a government source as saying that North Korea's military had raised an alert for artillery units based along its west coast ahead of a planned live-fire drill by the South.

Both the North and South have said they will use military means to defend what they say is their territory off the west coast. Recent Western attempts to get the Security Council to rebuke Pyongyang over a deadly artillery shelling incident last month and its nuclear program have been blocked by China.

Available at:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1922823020101219


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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

1.
Medvedev to Push for Military, Nuclear Deals in India
Giles Hewitt
AFP
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in India Tuesday, the latest in a line of visiting global leaders seeking military and trade deals with the world's second-fastest growing major economy.

Traditionally India's default defence supplier, Russia now faces stiff competition from Europe and the United States as India diversifies its sources of military hardware and becomes more demanding over pricing and quality.

"The Russians are uncomfortable with the changing scenario and Medvedev needs to convince India why Moscow should remain our regular defence provider," said retired Indian Army general and military scholar Afsir Karim.

Medvedev's lobbying trip comes hard on the heels of similar visits by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, as well as US President Barack Obama.

All three announced deals and framework agreements worth billions of dollars, and the Russian president will also be looking to seal key accords on the supply of military fighter jets and the construction of nuclear power stations.

In an interview published in the Times of India on Monday, Medvedev said he viewed the growing competition for India's booming defence market with "serenity and pragmatism".

"We are ready to compete, the main point being that the fight for contracts is fair," he said.

The president will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday and then travel the next day to India's financial capital, Mumbai.

Wary of China's military modernisation drive, India is embarking on what global consultancy firm KPMG has described as "one of the largest procurement cycles in the world".

Between now and 2016, India's defence sector is expected to spend 112 billion dollars on capital defence acquisitions, KPMG said in a recent report.

Among the deals on offer is a 12-billion-dollar contract for 126 fighter jets and Medvedev will be pushing hard for India to select the Russian-made MiG-35.

But European and US aeronautical giants including Dassault Aviation, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. are also bidding for the tender.

The president will seek to finalise an agreement for the joint production of a fifth-generation fighter with stealth capabilities that could be worth up to 30 billion dollars, with India planning to induct as many as 300 of the aircraft.

New Delhi and Moscow enjoy close ties that date back to the 1950s and even as India looks to build new strategic partnerships, analysts say Russia retains a competitive edge as a tried and tested ally.

"India needs to keep in mind the fact that, in this changing and complex global order, preserving the trust of a consistent supporter is very important to meet the challenges that may arise in the future," said Pallavi Pal, a researcher at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.

On the nuclear front, Russia is already building two reactors in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Medvedev is hoping to seal deals for two more during his visit.

Energy-hungry India is one of the world's biggest markets for nuclear technology with ambitious plans to reach a nuclear power capacity of 63,000 megawatts by 2032, from the current level of 4,560 megawatts.

Medvedev is scheduled to take time out during his stay in Mumbai, the capital of India's Bollywood film industry, to visit a movie studio.

Bollywood films are popular in Russia where they are regularly shown on a number of private TV channels.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5id8ZlOdeuLHfL45lLwVVseVVIkzA?docId=CNG.60eb4047766bf2f855b1e742fd8c9784.961


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2.
U.S. Republicans Fail to Amend Arms Treaty with Russia
Xinhua News Agency
12/19/2010
(for personal use only)


U.S. Senate Republicans on Saturday failed to amend an arms treaty with Russia, which they allege limits U.S. efforts to develop missile defense system.

The Democrats killed the amendment by a vote of 59 to 37 in the 100-member Senate, with four not voting. The amendment sought to strike language in the preamble to the treaty regarding the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms.

Though the language in the preamble is not legally binding, leading Republican senators allege that the treaty could limit U.S. efforts to develop its missile defense system. Senator John McCain and others sponsored the amendment, which would mean renegotiations with Russia and killing of the treaty.

President Barack Obama on Saturday wrote to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and majority leader Harry Reid, assuring them that "the new START treaty places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile defense programs."

He told them that "as long as I am president, and as long as the Congress provides the necessary funding, the United States will continue to develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect the United States, our deployed forces and our allies and partners."

In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama again argued for quick Senate approval of the new START treaty he signed in April with Russia President Dmitry Medevedev, stressing that "ratifying a treaty like START isn't about winning a victory for an administration or a political party, it's about the safety and security of the United States of America."

The pact would limit each country's strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current ceiling of 2,200, and establish a system for monitoring and verification. U.S. weapons inspections ended a year ago with the expiration of the 1991 arms control treaty.

"Every minute we drag our feet is a minute that we have no inspectors on the ground at those Russian nuclear sites," Obama said. "It's time to get this done."

The treaty is seen as a major achievement in foreign policy for the Obama administration. Obama is eager to see it pass the Senate this year, he has put off his scheduled departure on Saturday for Honolulu, Hawaii, for vacation in order to guide the treaty through before the holiday break.

The Senate is scheduled to continue debate on the treaty on Sunday for the fifth consecutive day.

Available at:
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/19/c_13655341.htm


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D.  Nuclear Security

1.
Concern Grows Over Myanmar Nuclear Program
UPI
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


The United Nations is pressing Myanmar over a possible nuclear program, though former U.S. diplomats said they doubt any activity is malicious.

Myanmar is a signatory to the U.N. Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, though the International Atomic Energy Agency in at least two letters called on the military junta to clarify its nuclear intent.

In a letter to the Myanmar government, the IAEA is asking to visit some suspected nuclear sites, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Washington says Myanmar is a transfer point for North Korean arms shipments Iran and Syria.

U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks to London's Guardian newspaper quote a Myanmar source as saying North Korea was building a secret nuclear site in the foothills west of Rangoon.

Myanmar was suspected as far back as 2002 of wanting to develop a nuclear weapon with North Korea's help, the Guardian adds. U.S. diplomatic cables from 2004 cite "alleged" North Korean involvement in underground facilities in the isolated Central Asian country.

But Mark Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. State Department official working on non-proliferation issues, told the Journal the fears may be overblown.

"North Korea has been trying to sell missiles to Myanmar for some years ... but there's no clear evidence of a nuclear program," he said.

Available at:
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/12/20/Concern-grows-over-Myanmar-nuclear-program/UPI-87781292859521/


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2.
Egypt Claims it Refused Nukes from Blackmarket After Soviet Collapse
Noha El-Hennawy
Al-Masry Al-Youm
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


Egypt claimed it turned down offers of nuclear expertise and material following the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to a US diplomatic cable recently posted on the whistle blower site Wikileaks.

The cable, dated May 2009, includes briefings on a bilateral meeting held between US Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller and Egypt's ambassador Maged Abdel Aziz, on the margins of the Preparatory Committee for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT] in New York.

"Finally, in an apparent attempt to portray Egypt as a responsible member of the international community, Abdel Aziz claimed that Egypt had been offered nuclear scientists, materials and even weapons following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Egypt had refused all such offers," reads the cable.

When Gottemoeller asked Abdel Aziz how he knew this to be true, Abdel Aziz replied that he was in Moscow at that time and had direct personal knowledge, according to the cable.

At the same meeting, the Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations said Egypt was unwilling to wait "fifty more years" before the 1995 resolution on a nuclear-free Middle East was implemented, according to the leaked diplomatic document.

Abdel Aziz voiced the usual concerns of Egypt regarding Iranian attempts to acquire nuclear arms, contending "a new approach" needed to be developed so the Iranian question does not hinder progress on implementing the resolution.

Like many Arab countries, Egypt has consistently expressed unease with Iranian aspirations to develop its nuclear capacity and to establish itself as a dominant force in the region. While Egyptians have expressed their opposition to such attempts by Iran, they insist that Israel too should be forced to give up its atomic arsenal.

Pressured by the nuclear hype in the region, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced the resumption of a decades-old national nuclear program in 2007, maintaining that the project is only for the peaceful end of generating electricity.

In a speech on Sunday, Mubarak affirmed that a bid for Egypt's first nuclear station will be held within weeks.

Available at:
http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/wikileaks-egypt-claims-it-refused-nukes-blackmarket-after-soviet-collapse


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3.
WikiLeaks Cables: Bulgarian Nuclear Project 'Dogged by Safety Concerns'
Tim Webb
The Guardian
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


One of Britain's biggest energy suppliers, which wants to build half a dozen nuclear reactors in the UK, helped develop one in Bulgaria which was "dogged by ongoing serious safety concerns", according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

The German firm RWE, which owns npower and supplies electricity and gas to 6.7 million UK customers, bought a 49% stake in the project in December 2008 and quit as a strategic partner in October 2009. RWE said its decision to pull out of the troubled €7bn reactor project was due to the fact that "the project's financing could not be finalised within the agreed period". It said "safety issues were not a factor".

But its involvement in such an apparently shoddy project, which the cables claimed "reeked of side deals" even before RWE bought the 49% stake, could hurt its reputation over safety and cast doubt on its judgment in selecting who to work with on reactor projects.

In December 2007, environmental groups including Greenpeace condemned the European commission's approval of the project. Approval came despite the former Bulgarian nuclear regulator publicly calling for it to be blocked on safety grounds the month before.

RWE said: "RWE adheres to very strict safety standards and criteria. For each project RWE is involved in, safety has the highest priority. The reason for RWE to withdraw from the Belene project was that – because of the international economic and financial crisis – financing of the project could not be clarified in due time. RWE has advised our Bulgarian partners to the difficulties of financing already at an early stage."

The release of the cables comes amid growing safety concerns over an impending global "nuclear renaissance" with more than 1,000 reactors expected to be built by 2030, according to the World Nuclear Association. Countries which could turn to nuclear power for the first time include Albania, Bangladesh, Kenya, Venezuela and Syria.

In August 2008, RWE's CEO, Jürgen Grossmann, responded to questions about reports of its possible involvement in the over-budget and behind-schedule project: "It is remarkable, isn't it, that the possible involvement of RWE in the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Belene, Bulgaria, based on state-of-the-art technology is being described as irresponsible."

The cables claim that despite its due diligence, RWE's confidence had turned to "buyer's remorse" within weeks. In the cable, the US ambassador cited local contacts as saying there was a rush to start construction so that the project would keep RWE on board. RWE had reportedly said that it would not provide funding until it sees the "first concrete poured", signalling the start of construction. Belene project experts privately expressed "serious concerns" that if safety practices continued to be ignored "it could pose a huge risk". RWE's partner, the state-owned Bulgarian electricity company, NEC, which held 51% of the project, declined to comment on any of the allegations.

RWE was said to be "in the dark" on most on-site and technical issues. This was despite a previous cable claiming that the company in February had demanded to review all Belene-related agreements.

The same February 2009 cable reported "RWE worries about the project's lack of transparency and the need to work with Atomstroyexport [the Russian lead contractor]. RWE wants to enforce European business practices". RWE was reported around that time to be in talks with a number of European energy groups, including Belgium's Electrabel, to offload half its stake but did not find any buyers. "RWE realises that working with Russian and Bulgarian companies in the energy sector is a 'poisonous combination' for European investment" the cable added.

The cable also reports: "When Bulgarians talk about the Belene nuclear power plant, they increasingly do so in hushed tones. Issues of delays, financing woes, non-transparent horse-trading and side deals, Russian influence … and the interests of well-connected politicians and energy oligarchs inevitably come up."

RWE's statement continued: "RWE's participation in projects guarantees a high degree of ethical business behaviour and openness to concerns of all stakeholders. We ensure that each project is in line with European standards with regard to transparency and information to the public. It is therefore common practice within all our projects that RWE's or a similar code of conduct will be applied. The same has been true for the Belene project for which a code of compliance was developed and should have been implemented; we would have thereby introduced dedicated instruments against corruption.

"We have raised these issues with NEC and the Bulgarian government and they confirmed that this was a shared mutual understanding. RWE has signed a joint venture agreement with NEC in December 2008 after intense pre-assessment of the project. Under the joint venture agreement the companies involved agreed to jointly continue the project development work, and further advance the project.

"The potential joint construction and operation of the new power plant would not have gone ahead until all relevant safety-related, legal, economic and organisational aspects had been settled during this phase."

Available at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/20/wikileaks-cables-bulgarian-nuclear-project


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4.
WikiLeaks: Yemen Nuclear Material Was Unsecured
Associated Press
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


A storage facility housing Yemen's radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week after its lone guard was removed and its surveillance camera was broken, a secret U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks revealed Monday.

The message, dated Jan. 9, relates the worries of a Yemeni official, whose name was removed, about the unguarded state of a National Atomic Energy Commission facility. He pushes the U.S. embassy to urge his own government to secure the material.

"Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen's nuclear material," the official is quoted as saying in the cable, which appeared on the website of the British Guardian newspaper.

Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, hosts a particularly active branch of Al-Qaida that has not only repeatedly attacked the Yemeni government but attempted several attacks against the U.S. including last year's failed plot to blow up an airliner in Detroit on Christmas.

On Jan. 7, Yemeni Foreign Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the ambassador that "no radioactive material was currently stored in Sanaa and that all 'radioactive waste' was shipped to Syria."

According to the cable, the radioactive material was used by local universities for agricultural research, Sanaa hospital and by international oil companies.

The facility's lone guard was removed on Dec. 30, 2009, reported the cable and its single closed circuit TV camera had been broken for the last six months.

Yemeni officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the cable.

The cable said the embassy would push senior Yemeni officials to provide an accounting of its radioactive materials and ensure storage facilities were secure.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jmFHWOs60zRLLrCvkgWn-8Ba1Imw?docId=49882e720055416da78d52cee52476c4


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E.  Nuclear Energy

1.
Egypt to Discuss Nuclear Plans in Paris, Washington
Adel Elbahnsawy
Al-Masry Al-Youm
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)


Minister of Electricity and Energy Hassan Younis will hold talks in Washington and Paris in mid-January to discuss Egypt's plans to establish its first nuclear power station, according to a source at the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

Egypt will invite bidders for an international tender for implementation of the project in late January.

The same source reported a US readiness to train Egyptian personnel on running compressed water reactors, and said Younis will invite US companies specialized in compressed water reactors to take part in the bidding.

Egypt hopes bidders will not impose preconditions that could damage its future interests, according to the source.

The US government has arranged for visits by the Egyptian delegation to several nuclear plants run using compressed water, established by Westinghouse. Egypt has abandoned the idea of running boiling water reactors.

Younis will also discuss personnel training with US officials, according to the source. Egypt previously started training sessions with Russia.

Available at:
http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/egypt-discuss-nuclear-plans-paris-washington


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2.
Malaysia Aims to Build 2 Nuclear Power Plants
Agence France-Presse
12/19/2010
(for personal use only)


Malaysia is looking to build two 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants by 2022 to counter an "imbalance" in its energy supplies, the energy minister said Sunday.

Peter Chin's comments to state media follow his announcement in May that the cabinet had approved in principle the construction of the country's first ever nuclear power plant by 2021.

"Hopefully, by 2013 or 2014, we will able to finish evaluating (the requirements for the nuclear power plants)," Chin told the Bernama news agency.

Chin said the country was heavily reliant on fossil fuels for its electricity supply, with gas accounting for 64 percent of Malaysia's total energy generation and the rest coming from coal.

"We must get away from this. (It is) very much (an) imbalance. Most countries have a good balance," he added.

The nuclear plan has been attacked by environmental activists who say the government has not thoroughly considered other forms of energy generation such as solar, hydroelectric and wind power.

But Chin said the potential for renewable sources was limited.

"Yes, very good, everyone wants to say that we want renewables, but what about cost? Can we force the people to accept high tariffs?" he said.

"We want hydropower to assume a prominent role as it is clean, but this can only be achieved in Sabah and Sarawak (on Borneo island) where there is much potential -- but not in peninsular Malaysia."

State energy firm Tenaga has said it could construct the first nuclear power plant at a cost of 3.1 billion dollars.

Available at:
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view/20101219-309876/Malaysia-aims-to-build-2-nuclear-power-plants


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3.
International Conference on Nuclear Energy Underway in Jordan
Xinhua News Agency
12/15/2010
(for personal use only)


Arab and foreign nuclear experts on Wednesday gathered in the Jordanian capital of Amman to look into challenges facing developing countries in using nuclear energy.

During the third International Conference for Nuclear Energy started Wednesday here, the experts will discuss challenges related to human resources, infrastructure as well as social and economic impact of the use of nuclear energy, in addition to level of awareness on the use of nuclear energy, according to organizers.

Ekhleif Al Tarawneh, president of Al Balqa Applied University, which is the organizer of the three-day event, said at the opening of the conference that participants will also look into nuclear safety, security and the building of capacities of human resources among other related issues.

Participants will also talk about safe application of nuclear energy in fields of medicine, industry and agriculture, Al Tarawneh said.

The conference, organized in cooperation with the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission, brought about participants from over 19 Arab and foreign states.

Available at:
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/16/c_13650722.htm


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F.  Links of Interest

1.
DPRK Says "Feel No Need" to React to South Korean Artillery Drill
Xinhua News Agency
12/20/2010
(for personal use only)
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/20/c_13657024.htm


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2.
Ahmadinejad Says World Powers Must 'Engage' Iran
Hiedeh Farmani
AFP
12/18/2010
(for personal use only)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iIkpoPHfPk-toSsIamIwM0kdz..


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3.
Jordan to Install Four Radiation Monitoring Stations in February
Zawya
12/18/2010
(for personal use only)
http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20101219064429


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