1. Iranian Official Says Geneva Talks Constructive
Xinhua News Agency
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Iranian National Security Deputy Advisor Ali Baqiri said here on Monday the latest round of talks between Iran and the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany (G5+1) in Geneva was constructive.
The two-day talks held earlier this month, ended with both sides agreeing to meet again in late January in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul.
Meanwhile, Baqiri, at a press conference held in Iran's embassy in Damascus, accused Western intelligence services of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, saying "when sanctions imposed on Iran by the West and the UN failed, they resorted to these mean acts."
In November, one of Iran's top nuclear scientists was killed and another was injured in bomb attacks in Tehran.
Iran has been under sanction pressure by the United States, European Union and other western countries over its controversial nuclear program which the West believe are moving to the atomic weaponry developments. However, Tehran denied the allegations, claiming that its nuclear program is for civilian and peaceful purpose.
Baqiri, arriving in Damascus on Saturday, has met with Damascus- based Palestinian leaders, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-12/27/c_13666699.htm
A senior Iranian lawmaker has scoffed at a new round of unilateral US sanctions against the Islamic Republic as a “childish” move by the West to press Tehran.
“These sanctions are the West's childish approach against Iran and they suppose such measures will impair the Islamic Republic's stance in the Istanbul talks,” Head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Friday.
On Tuesday, the United States imposed fresh unilateral sanctions on several Iranian companies it accuses of involvement in Iran's nuclear energy program.
The US Treasury Department on Tuesday singled out two banks, an insurance company and a local shipping line, while the new sanctions also target former Iranian Energy Minister Parviz Fattah.
The latest round of sanctions follows talks between Iran and the P5+1-- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US, plus Germany -- in Geneva earlier this month, where the two sides agreed to continue talks in January in Turkey.
“The Islamic Republic considers dialogue a logical approach but the US -- who fails to reach its goals in the arena of negotiations -- try to use the childish policy of sanctions to pressure Tehran,” Boroujerdi pointed out.
“If US officials had ability and logic in the international arena, they would have been able to defend their viewpoints in the Geneva talks,” the Iranian lawmaker was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Boroujerdi further downplayed sanctions against his country as a futile measure the West has taken against the Islamic establishment of Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The senior lawmaker speculated that both the US and Europe would eventually accept Iran's mastery in nuclear science. “They will agree that the Islamic Republic has in effect joined the world's nuclear club."
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/156953.html
1. Analysts: North Korean Provocations to Increase in 2011
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North Korea could fire missiles at South Korea next year, analysts predicted Monday, as the isolated North's hostility toward the outside world deepens while it undergoes a hereditary transfer of power.
Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula following a series of provocations from the North this year. More recently, however, as South Korea responded angrily with threats of its own, Pyongyang has shown some restraint.
Expect the pendulum to swing back in the other direction in 2011, the Institute for National Security Strategy warned in a report published last week and posted to its website Monday.
The country could conduct a third nuclear bomb test and wage more attacks on front-line islands — like Yeonpyeong, which was bombarded in shelling that killed four South Koreans last month, the report said. North Korea may even fire missiles and more artillery at front-line South Korean islands, chief researcher Lee In-ho told The Associated Press after the report's release.
The Yeonpyeong attack came eight months after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on a Pyongyang in which 46 sailors were killed.
North Korea accuses the South of triggering the Yeonpyeong attack by carrying out military drills from the island, and denies involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan.
However, such hostility is often used to drum up solidarity in the military at times of transition, and this year North Korean leader Kim Jong Il announced he would hand power to his third son: the young, inexperienced Kim Jong Un.
And the provocations are expected to become only more serious next year as North Korea pushes to cement the son's leadership and achieve its goal of building a "powerful, prosperous nation" in 2012, the 100th anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung's birth, the Institute for National Security Strategy said in a report published last week and posted to its website Monday.
The 20-something was promoted to a four-star general and appointed to key ruling part posts in September to mark his formal political debut — the clearest signs yet that he is being groomed to succeed his 68-year-old father.
Kim Jong Il, who himself inherited leadership from his father, Kim Il Sung, reportedly suffered a stroke in August 2008, intensifying speculation about what's next for the isolated nation he rules with an iron fist.
Next year, the report said, new provocations could range from firing at Yeonpyeong and other border islands and shelling South Korean guard posts along their land border to attempts on the lives of North Korean defectors in the South.
"A state of limbo in South-North Korea relations is inevitable," the report said.
North Korea may also carry out a third atomic test to bolster its nuclear capability and ratchet up pressure on the U.S. to acquiesce to its calls for direct talks to gain aid and other concessions, researcher Lee said.
North Korea does not have diplomatic relations with the U.S., which supported the South during the 1950-53 Korean War and keeps more than 28,000 troops in South Korea to protect the ally against any aggression. The peninsula remains in a state of war because the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
"North Korea aims to stoke tension by committing more provocations to force the U.S. to come to the negotiating table," Lee said. "If that doesn't work, the North may carry out a third nuclear test."
There are signs North Korea is preparing an atomic test at a northeastern detonation site, the report said, but didn't elaborate. Pyongyang also carried out underground nuclear tests in 2006 and in 2009, drawing widespread international condemnation and sanctions.
The institute is affiliated with the National Intelligence Service, South Korea's main spy agency, and the report was jointly written by about 20 institute researchers. However, researchers say the report does not represent their organization's official view.
On Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak promised relentless retaliation if provoked again, saying he was not afraid of war with the communist North.
"Fear of war is never helpful in preventing war," Lee said in a regular radio address. "The armed forces must respond relentlessly when they come under attack."
Initially criticized as weak in the wake of the Yeonpyeong attack, Lee has gone on the offensive in the past few weeks, repeatedly lancing angry threats of retaliation if the North strikes again, staging a series of military drills, and ordering more troops to front-line islands.
North Korea, for its part, has also kept up the rhetoric with the country's defense chief threatening recently to launch a "sacred" nuclear war against the South.
State TV broadcast a lengthy documentary Monday chronicling leader Kim's recent public activities, including his attendance at the ruling Workers' Party convention in late September and a massive military parade in October.
Several shots zoomed in on his son, dressed in a blue civilian suit with his hair slicked back, raising his red Workers' Party membership card during the party meeting.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gKow-xrsNlMAX-HkgAtbSygY7sZg?docId=c157fb7052f84ef9aadddf656a44db1b
2. Lee Says South Korea Not Afraid of War with North Korea
Yonhap News Agency
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President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that South Koreans should not fear war with North Korea although his government is eager to keep peace on the peninsula.
"If (we) are afraid of war, we can never prevent war," Lee said in his biweekly radio address, the last of this year.
His remarks represent Seoul's firm stance to deal resolutely with the communist neighbor's provocations down the road.
The conservative Lee administration came under harsh public criticism for being too feeble and passive in handling the North's deadly artillery attack on the Yellow Sea border island of Yeonpyeong last month. It was the North's second major unprovoked attack on South Korea this year following the torpedoing of a naval ship in March that killed 46 sailors.
"North Korea committed the provocations without reluctance, misjudging our patience and desire for peace," Lee said. "We have clearly realized the fact that only strong counteractions to military provocations are able to deter war and safeguard peace."
He said the South had tolerated the North's belligerence in hopes of maintaining peace on the peninsula, but he stressed that his military should cope with any future attacks without mercy.
Lee also reiterated calls for the South Korean people to boost unity in dealing with the North, a longstanding source of ideological rifts.
"There can't be 'you' and 'me' separately when it comes to national security with our life and the country's fate at stake," Lee said, adding the North's goal is to split public opinion here.
"If our people become one and show united power, North Korea can't dare to challenge us," he said. "We learned valuable lessons from the Yeonpyeong incident."
Concluding his speech, the president said South Korea aspires to reunify with the North peacefully.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/12/26/38/0401000000AEN20101226002600315F.HTML
3. North Korea Boasts Restraint, Warns It Is Running Out of Patience
Yonhap News Agency
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Warning its patience is running out, North Korea praised itself Monday over its decision not to react to a high-stakes South Korean live-fire drill that had taken place near the countries' volatile Yellow Sea border earlier this month.
The Dec. 20 exercise on the island of Yeonpyeong took place amid the highest tension between the two Koreas in years, after the North bombarded the island last month and threatened to mount a deadlier attack should the South conduct another live-fire drill on it.
Despite the threat, the North refrained from retaliation, belittling the exercise as something that "does not even deserve a passing notice." Analysts said the restraint substantiated their observation that the impoverished communist country chooses to refrain from provocation when its foes are on full alert.
"Armed clashes have not occurred in the Yellow Sea of Korea despite the dangerous collusion between the U.S. and South Korean war-like forces," the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary.
"This is entirely thanks to the pluck, the self-restraint and steadfast will of the DPRK to preserve peace. But there is a limit to its patience, too," said the commentary, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. The DPRK is the acronym for the North's official title, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The Nov. 23 shelling of Yeonpyeong, an island home to 1,300 South Koreans -- many of them fishermen -- left two marines and two construction workers dead in the first such indiscriminate attack on South Korean soil since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has vowed strong retaliation for the attack while public sentiment toward North Korea has sharply deteriorated. The U.S. has denounced the North for the attack while analysts said Pyongyang may be tempted to mount further provocations on the South in an effort to exploit cross-border tension as it seeks to accelerate its ongoing hereditary power succession.
"It was none other than the U.S. that egged those forces on to spark off the above-said shelling incident and escalate the tension on the Korean Peninsula," the Rodong Sinmun said, reiterating the North's claim that the South provoked the North first on Nov. 23.
"The puppet regime of South Korea is so despicable and coward that it cannot maintain its power even a moment without the protection of its American master," it said. "Its desperate efforts to do harm to the DPRK in reliance on this master would only precipitate its self-destruction."
North Korea refuses to respect the de facto Yellow Sea border that was drawn by a U.S. general at the end of the Korean War. Three deadly naval skirmishes have taken place near the boundary since 1999.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/12/27/50/0401000000AEN20101227005000315F.HTML
4. U.S. to Send Another Nuke-Powered Aircraft Carrier to Northeast Asia
The Chosun Ilbo
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The U.S. will deploy another nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Northeast Asia in response to North Korea's threat of a "sacred war" using nuclear weapons, media reports said. The Ronald Reagan will bring to three the number of U.S. aircraft carrier fleets in the west Pacific, joining the George Washington in Japan and the Carl Vinson that just arrived in Guam.
China's official Xinhua news agency said the new addition could raise tensions in the region, with the Chinese military already calling it the biggest threat to China and North Korea in six decades.
Commissioned in 2003, the Ronald Reagan can carry more than 6,000 sailors and over 80 aircraft. According to a dedicated website, it is scheduled for deployment in the west Pacific in 2011.
Available at: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/12/27/2010122701080.html
1. Nuclear Plants: India, Russia to Counter China in South Asia
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India and Russia have decided to work together in the field of nuclear commerce. The two countries will help set up smaller nuclear power plants in South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, sources said. This, according to South Block sources, is a key outcome of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India.
China is active in most South Asian countries, building infrastructure in a big way, and hence, the India-Russia joint initiative will be an attempt to counter that as well.
India and Russia agreed “to consider cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with third countries”. Negotiators from New Delhi and Moscow said both sides are confident of executing projects jointly. Sources said both sides said the projects in South Asian countries will yield economic and political dividends. South Asian countries, sources said, need smaller nuclear power plants, generating 200-250 MW of power.
Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are energy starved, and India is helping them by linking their grids with its own. In case of Bangladesh, India is making efforts to link its eastern grid through its border in West Bengal, while in case of Sri Lanka, India is planning to lay underwater cables to connect the power grids in both countries.
For the first time, Russia has also recognised India as a “supplier state” in the nuclear business — both in terms of equipment and fuel.
Available at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/N-plants--India--Russia-to-counter-China-in-South-Asia/729704
The new Russia-US nuclear arms pact may have been hailed as historic but analysts said that all Moscow really has to do is phase out Soviet-era missiles and warheads that are already out of date.
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was ratified by the US Senate on Wednesday after a passionate months-long debate and given initial approval by Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament two days later.
It will face two more hearings in Russia and almost certainly come into force within the next few months.
The first nuclear pact in two decades has been feted as vital to global security because it reduces old warhead ceilings by an impressive 30 percent and sets a streamlined new inspection procedure designed to eliminate cheating.
The new START limits each side to 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed long-range missiles -- including those fired from submarines -- and heavy bombers.
The two sides may also have up to 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers and bombers.
But analysts said that Russia's real problem was that even these lower missile and launcher ceilings were too high for the country to keep pace with the United States.
Soviet-era missiles such as the Saber SS-22 are rapidly approaching their expiry date and technical specifications mean the weapon has no purpose if its nuclear warheads are taken out of commission.
"START is not the problem here," said the respected military commentator Alexander Golts. "The problem is that Russia has to retire more delivery vehicles because of 'old age' than it has the funds to produce."
The United States had 2,019 more warheads deployed on its launchers and bombers than Russia under START data reported by the US State Department in July 2009.
Independent estimates from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists said that in late 2009 the United States in fact had 2,200 "operational" nuclear warheads and 2,500 more warheads in reserve that could be activated if necessary.
Russia on the other hand was believed to have had a total of 2,600 operational long-range warheads covered by START.
But the required phase-out of old missiles is not the only thing working in Russia's favour. New counting rules will also allow it to attribute just one warhead per bomber even if it carries more -- a point insisted on by Moscow during the treaty negotiations.
National Defence magazine editor Igor Korotchenko told the RIA Novosti news agency that Russia was now likely to keep just 390 missiles and bombers as it looks to save money ahead of a new round of strategic reductions in 2020.
And Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov saw nothing but the treaty's advantages as he defended it parliament Friday.
"We will not have to make any cuts to our strategic offensive weapons," Serdyukov told sceptical lawmakers from the Communist opposition. "But the Americans -- they will indeed have to make some cuts."
"Serdyukov is right," said Moscow's Centre for Disarmament Director Anatoly Dyakov. "Russia has already met its launcher obligations. It only has 560 of those.
"We have more warheads. But if you take the old SS-20s out of commission -- they each have 10 warheads and have been in service 10 years past their expiry -- then you really do not need to take any additional measures," said Dyakov.
The feared SS-20 was eliminated under a landmark 1987 disarmament agreement but the Centre for Defence Information said that Russia now had 120 modified SS-N-20 missiles deployed on its submarines.
The maths also works in Russia's favour because START focuses exclusively on "strategic" nuclear weapons that are designed to destroy large populations or damage the enemy's ability to wage war.
These missiles are for the most part fired over great distances and have been the US weapon of choice during the Cold War.
The United States thus has a strategic superiority over Russia -- which in turn enjoys an advantage in "tactical" weapons used in smaller campaigns around its periphery.
A White House spokesman told Sunday's New York Times that Washington was now "seeking to initiate negotiations" with Moscow on tactical weapons and Russian lawmakers agreed that those talks would probably happen next.
"I am afraid that this is something Russia will not be able to avoid," the upper house of parliament's foreign affairs committee chairman Mikhail Margelov told Moscow Echo radio.
But he added: "We should definitely support START."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iHFWsGwNyJwp1w2jwTrP0j1MxRkQ?docId=CNG.cdc63f449543115516a6ee1f2c569704.171
3. Japan Eyes Civil Nuke Deals With States Resisting Inspection Protocol
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Japan is seeking to promote civil nuclear cooperation with nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which have not ratified a protocol to allow snap inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, as Tokyo aims to increase infrastructure exports including nuclear power generation technology under its economic growth strategy, government sources said Saturday.
Japan has been advocating ratification of the Additional Protocol for safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, but the move could signify a shift to placing more importance on exports of nuclear power plants than nuclear nonproliferation, analysts said.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed a positive stance on promoting civil nuclear cooperation with Egypt at a meeting on Japanese infrastructure exports attended by some Cabinet ministers in October, the sources said.
But Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara expressed caution regarding the promotion of Japanese exports of nuclear plants to Egypt at the meeting, saying Egypt has yet to ratify the protocol, they said.
Egypt has refused to ratify the Additional Protocol.
Japan has been seeking to expand exports of nuclear power generation technology to other countries after securing a basic accord in October to build two nuclear reactors in Vietnam, according to the sources.
Tokyo has already started unofficial talks with Brazil on nuclear cooperation and is eyeing negotiations with Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey, which have either ratified or will ratify the Additional Protocol, they said.
Brazil has not ratified the Additional Protocol, but it has concluded a bilateral pact with neighboring Argentina on inspections, ensuring a certain degree of transparency in its nuclear program, the sources said.
Available at: http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/4769074
The US government plans to resume nuclear arms negotiations with Russia next year in hopes of securing legal limits on the smaller, battlefield nuclear weapons, The New York Times reported.
The newspaper said these weapons are viewed as the most vulnerable to theft or diversion.
Tactical weapons generally refer to those with ranges of 300 to 400 miles (480-645 kilometers) or less.
In 1991, then-president George H.W. Bush announced that he would unilaterally withdraw most tactical nuclear weapons from forward positions, the report said.
Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev soon reciprocated, and thousands of tactical bombs were withdrawn or eliminated.
But today, The Times said, the United States retains about 500 tactical weapons, and experts say about 150 to 240 of them are still stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
Russia has between 2,000 and 6,000 of them, depending on the estimate, the report said.
US officials have said Moscow had moved more of them closer to NATO allies as recently as last spring in response to the deployment of US missile defense installations closer to its territory, the paper pointed out.
Experts warned that it would be hard to persuade Russia to give up its advantage without getting something in return, The Times said.
If not a concession on missile defense, these experts said Russia would certainly want to talk about paring back the large stockpiles of stored strategic weapons that are also not covered by the new START treaty, the report said.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jAJ8XHxgsm3WDGe4NgbcDAygk8Gg?docId=CNG.bce9273597dcaae5307ada7c2bfd1a6b.4d1
Australian Premier Colin Barnett has stepped up his call for the nation to start planning for a nuclear future.
Mr Barnett says work should commence now to identify potential sites to build a nuclear power plant.
Mr Barnett told The Australian nuclear power was a "proven and safe source of energy" that could no longer be ignored.
Amid rising concern over climate change, he said nuclear was environmentally clean and its use in this country was inevitable.
"Therefore, Australia should begin work on addressing the planning issues around it," he said.
The Liberal Premier's comments coincide with growing pressure on federal Labor to review its longstanding opposition to nuclear power.
On Friday, Queensland Premier and ALP national president Anna Bligh added her voice to a chorus of Labor leaders seeking a review of the party's ban on nuclear power, most likely at the ALP national conference to be held next December.
Mr Barnett -- who opened the door to uranium mining in Western Australia as one of his first acts on becoming premier in 2008 -- said it was now time to take the next step.
He renewed his call for a nuclear power planning commission to be created.
Identifying potential sites in Australia for a reactor would be one of its primary tasks, he said.
It would examine technology issues and work on safety and regulation. "Most developed nations around the world draw between 20 and 30 per cent of their energy from nuclear power," he said. "Australia should also begin planning to have nuclear power as part of its energy mix."
State Labor leader Eric Ripper strongly rejected the push, and in a message to Ms Bligh said there would be little support from WA delegates if the issue was debated at the national ALP conference.
"Even setting aside the environmental and waste disposal arguments, nuclear power is just too expensive," Mr Ripper said.
Australia is the world's third-largest producer of uranium -- the key ingredient for nuclear power -- ensuring that any reactor would have a ready fuel supply.
Uranium mines in South Australia and the Northern Territory export more than $1 billion of yellowcake a year, and WA, which has up to 10 per cent of world uranium reserves, expects its first mine to be operating in two years.
BHP Billiton, Cameco, Toro Energy and Mega Uranium are all advanced with plans for uranium mines in WA.
Mr Barnett did not nominate a preferred site for a reactor but has previously ruled out WA, saying the state's energy grid was too small to cope with the massive injection of power a nuclear power station would bring.
WA Labor remains opposed even to uranium mining, although this could change in June when the issue is debated at its state conference as the party grapples with the reality that mines may be operating before the next election, due in 2013.
Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/barnett-pushes-nuclear-future/story-e6frg6nf-1225976832741
3. Iran Plans to Build More Nuclear Power Plants: Energy Minister
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Energy Minister Majid Namju has said that Iran plans to build more nuclear power plants.
“The administration specially supports investment in the expansion of nuclear power plants,” Namju said on Sunday.
He also announced that Bushehr power plant will start feeding the national power grid within a few months, adding that the administration has several plans for construction of new nuclear power plants.
On December 1, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced that the last phase of loading fuel into the core of the Bushehr nuclear power plant has been completed. AEOI Director Ali Akbar Salehi, who has also taken over as acting foreign minister, expressed hope that the plant would be connected to the national power grid by February 19, 2011.
When Bushehr nuclear power plant is first connected to the national grid, the reactor will be producing 400 megawatts of electricity and within three months it will reach 100 percent of its capacity and produce 1000 megawatts of electricity which accounts for one-fortieth of the electricity output of the country.
According to the Fourth Development Plan (2005-2010), Iran’s nuclear power plants should eventually generate up to 20,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.
Iran says it should reach a point to be able to produce 250 to 300 tons of nuclear fuel annually to meet the demand of the nuclear power plants, so Iran needs to manufacture and install 50,0000 new high-performance centrifuges.
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=232947
4. Nuclear Power Plant Application Filed to UAE Regulator
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Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), the company in charge of the UAE's plan to develop reactors, has filed a 9,000-page construction application to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.
The application, for the first two reactor units of the project, is the result of a year of planning and preparation demonstrating the safety case for the country's first power plants, to be situated in Braka, in the Al Gharbia region.
The plants will be built by the Korea Electric Power Corporation, which has modelled the designs for the two reactors on "Shin Kori" units three and four in Korea.
The application takes into consideration necessary design changes to the Shin Kori plant, including those impacted by the high air temperatures in the Western Region; the higher temperature of the Arabian Gulf water as compared to the sea water in Korea; the potential for sandstorms at Braka; and the change in electric grid frequencies from 60 hertz, which is used in Korea, to 50 hertz, which is used in the UAE, ENEC said.
"We believe this license application demonstrates that the technology for our proposed power plant is safe, that the plant can be built to the highest possible standards, and that the proposed site is appropriate," said Mohamed al Hammadi, the chief executive of ENEC.
Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/nuclear-power-plant-application-filed-to-uae-regulator
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