German Chancellor Angela Merkel ramped up the pressure on Iran Tuesday over its disputed nuclear programme, saying next month would be a critical time for the world community to decide on sanctions.
Speaking after talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Merkel said that the theme of sanctions would be tackled in February when France holds the rotating chair of the United Nations Security Council.
"I think February will be the crucial month," Merkel said.
Asked whether Berlin would support a military solution to the dispute, Merkel replied: "Germany wants a diplomatic solution to this conflict and therefore we consider sanctions to be the next step."
Merkel said the sanctions should be agreed within the United Nations but "if China or Russia or other countries do not go along with the Security Council, then a group of like-minded countries should aim for the same result."
Peres said his country had "nothing against the Iranian people but rather the Iranian regime."
"I would firmly urge the international community to act as soon as possible in order to dismantle the threat to world peace which is being articulated in the Iranian regime," he said.
Asked whether it was possible to compare Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Adolf Hitler, Merkel said: "The fact that the Iranian president has questioned Israel's right to exist is completely unacceptable for a German chancellor."
Merkel said there had already been "clear reductions" in Germany's trade with Iran, although she acknowledged there was a "long tradition of economic cooperation" between the two countries.
Any sanctions against Tehran would only work if they were applied "over the widest possible basis," she added.
Earlier Tuesday, one of Germany's largest firms, Siemens, denied it had acted illegally after rights groups accused the industrial group of selling technology to Iran that could be used to monitor the Internet.
Peres was due Wednesday to address the parliament on International Holocaust Remembrance Day to pay tribute to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis, including his grandparents and uncle.
The president, who was accompanied to Germany by Holocaust survivors of German origin, attended a memorial service Tuesday at platform 17 of the Grunewald train station from where thousands of Berlin Jews were expelled to Nazi labour and death camps.
Peres' trip came exactly a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Berlin for a meeting between the German and Israeli cabinets dominated by the Middle East peace process and the Iranian nuclear programme.
On Thursday, the president was due to leave Germany for Davos in Switzerland where he will join world leaders and top officials at the World Economic Forum.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ibqmcmmTFa8-0DpABvYE9uwEkUEA
2. EU Endorses UN Sanctions on Iran, Delays Own Move
James G. Neuger and Leon Mangasarian
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European Union foreign ministers sought tighter United Nations sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, while putting off unilateral EU penalties.
A day after Iran said it is poised to announce fresh progress on its nuclear goals, the 27-nation EU said it wants to assemble the broadest possible front to isolate Iran.
“Our strategic objective remains a negotiated solution,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters after an EU meeting in Brussels. “We started to consider the appropriate further measures to accompany work under way in the Security Council. We just have to wait and see.”
Today marked an informal deadline for the EU to consider a U.S.-led push for tighter penalties after Iran balked at Western calls for a halt to uranium enrichment and the opening of its nuclear labs to outside inspectors.
Europe’s waiting game is likely to strengthen factions in the Iranian leadership that want to press ahead with the nuclear program, said Emanuele Ottolenghi, head of the Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute and author of “Under a Mushroom Cloud: Iran, Europe and the Bomb.”
“A further signal from key players in the international community that they’re not in a rush to put pressure on the regime will only strengthen those in Tehran who refuse to abide by international standards,” Ottolenghi said.
Iran’s ‘Good News’
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday said “good news” on advances in uranium enrichment will be made public before the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic on Feb. 11.
Iran needs to refine its low-enriched uranium to 20 percent purity to operate a research reactor. Uranium enriched above that threshold can set off the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion.
The EU is Iran’s top trading partner, with machinery and transport equipment making up more than half of exports of 14.1 billion euros ($20 billion) in 2008. Oil and energy products accounted for 90 percent of the EU’s imports of 11.3 billion euros.
Katerina Dalacoura, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics, questioned whether sanctions would dent Iran’s economy, which suffered from 7.4 percent annual inflation in November.
“Economically the sanctions won’t bring much because Iran’s economy is already in such bad shape,” Dalacoura said by phone. Sanctions “often end up hurting the wrong people. This is what happened with the Iraq sanctions in the 1990s.”
Iran says it is operating a civilian nuclear-energy program and rejects Western suspicions that it is trying to build weapons. Iran has ignored three sets of sanctions designed to force it to come clean on its nuclear ambitions.
“We are moving very strongly toward sanctions,” Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said. “We’ll start with UN sanctions and if that doesn’t work, we’ll go to EU sanctions.”
As veto-wielding members of the Security Council, China and Russia loom as obstacles to tighter sanctions. China indicated its reluctance by sending a junior official to a Jan. 16 meeting of the five Security Council powers plus Germany.
“The sanction instrument is a very blunt one, so it should be used with extreme care,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said. “Our aim is to get the Iranians to the negotiating table and to have a political solution.”
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aEG4RtRmkR8s&pos=8
3. Top Iranian Security Official's Visit to Russia Called Off
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The reported visit to Russia on Tuesday of Iran's top security official and chief nuclear negotiator has been postponed indefinitely, the ISNA news agency reported on Monday.
Iranian news agencies reported earlier on Monday that Saeed Jalili was due to in Moscow on Tuesday for a three-day visit that would include meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev and other officials to discuss bilateral relations, regional and international issues.
The Fars and MEHR agencies said the trip had been postponed to allow for additional preparation.
A Russian government source confirmed to RIA Novosti earlier that Jalili would meet with his Russian counterpart, and with the Russian leadership.
Iran's IRIBNews agency said that Jalili would be accompanied by Ali Bagheri, deputy for foreign policy and security maters.
Mediators from the Iran Six, which includes Russia, are currently discussing the transition from talks to new sanctions in response to Iran's refusal to fold its controversial nuclear program.
Russia has a history of close ties to Iran, including in nuclear energy through construction of the Bushehr power plant, but is seen as having moved closer to the U.S. position on imposing new sanctions.
Iran, which is already under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. Western powers suspect it of pursuing an atomic weapons program.
The Iran Six - Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany - have long been trying to persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment not only through sanctions but also in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives.
Iran Six envoys last met in New York on January 16, but in the face of Chinese resistance to a tougher course of action decided against immediate sanctions in the hope of finding new political and diplomatic solutions to the problem.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20100125/157680643.html
4. Ahmadinejad Hints Iran Resolved to Make 20% Nuclear Fuel
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hinted on Sunday that Tehran would itself pursue uranium enrichment to higher levels if the West spurns its offer of a phased fuel swap, promising Iranians "sweet" news soon.
Ahmadinejad said Iran will make an announcement regarding the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity when the nation next month marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.
"Iran has given a chance to Western countries," he was quoted as saying by Fars news agency when asked by reporters about Iran's deadline to world powers over the controversial nuclear fuel deal.
"Therefore, during the 10 days of dawn (February 1 to 11) we will announce good news regarding the production of 20 percent enriched fuel in our country," he said of the period marking the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"This news is so sweet that it will make any Iranian and any freedom-loving person in the world happy. This news is about Iran's scientific advancement," Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
The UN atomic watchdog has offered a proposal which sees the bulk of Iran's low-enriched uranium of 3.5 percent purity being sent to Russia and France in one batch for further enrichment to 20 percent and then returned as fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
Enriched uranium of 20 percent purity is used as fuel to power nuclear reactors and Iran needs it for its internationally monitored Tehran facility.
Iranian officials, however, have offered a counter-proposal of a phased fuel swap and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki gave the West an end-January deadline to accept the Iranian plan.
World powers led by Washington are against Iran enriching uranium as it can also used to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.
The West suspect Iran wants enriched uranium -- despite three sets of UN sanctions -- so that it can make atomic weapons. Tehran says its nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating electricity.
Western powers have indicated that Iran has effectively rejected the UN-brokered proposal put forward in Vienna talks hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog.
But Mottaki insists Iran has not rejected "the principle" of the nuclear fuel deal.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, amid increasing international frustration with Tehran, has vowed Washington "will not be waited out" and "not back down" in the face of Iranian defiance.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, meanwhile, will travel to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, according to ISNA news agency.
Moscow has long been a nuclear partner of Tehran and has built Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr but it is still to be operational.
On Thursday Russian atomic energy chief Sergei Kiriyenko said the Bushehr plant would start up this year.
"All the work is going as scheduled. The tests are a success. This year will be the year of the launch of Bushehr," he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
In recent months Medvedev has indicated that Moscow could back fresh sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
Earlier this week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow does "regret" Iran's refusal to accept the UN-brokered fuel plan.
He noted that the UN Security Council had the capacity to "study further measures on Iran" but did not come out explicitly in support of further sanctions.
"Acting with a logic of punishing Iran... is not a sober approach," he said.
Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, an influential Iranian lawmaker with close ties to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reiterated on Sunday that Tehran will not give up its right to nuclear technology.
"There is no reason for Westerners to pressurise us... and if they want to impose new sanctions, then the Iranian nation will not give up its (nuclear) right," Haddad Adel was quoted by state television website as saying.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j1UZ4HXH8ANVNfRb6q6-CTbBdpFA
5. Ahmadinejad Promises 'Good' News on Iran Nuclear Plans
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Iran will declare "good news" concerning nuclear fuel plans when the nation marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution next month, local news agencies reported.
When asked by reporters about Iran's deadline to the West over the nuclear fuel deal and when Tehran will produce 20 percent enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad said: "During the 10 days of dawn (February 1 to 11), we will announce good news in this regard," the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.
"This news is so sweet that it will make any Iranian and any freedom loving person in the world happy. This news is about Iran's scientific advancement," the Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
The UN atomic watchdog has offered a proposal which sees the bulk of Iran's low-enriched uranium being sent to Russia and France for further enrichment to 20 percent level and then returned as fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
Iranian officials, however, have offered a counter-proposal of a phased fuel swap and foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki gave the West a one-month "ultimatum" to accept the Iranian plan.
Iranian officials have threatened that Tehran will enrich uranium on its own to the 20 percent level if the West fails to meet its end January deadline on the counter-proposal.
World powers led by Washington are against Iran enriching uranium, the core of the controversy concerning Tehran's nuclear programme.
They suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make atomic weapons, a charge denied by Tehran which says its nuclear programme is solely aimed at generating electricity.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gsIbV3keL8CjSu40zyNaWuLoSVgw
6. Iranian Statesman to Go to Moscow on Three-Day Visit for Talks
Itar-Tass News Agency
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Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili goes to Moscow on Tuesday for a three-day visit, reported Iranian news agencies on Sunday.
According to their information, Jalili will hold talks with the Russian leadership. The sides will discuss international and regional problems as well as questions of bilateral cooperation. Jalili will be accompanied by his deputy for foreign affairs Ali Bagheri during his trip.
The council secretary heads the team of Iranian negotiators on the nuclear problem. According to earlier statements by officials of the Islamic Republic, Iran hopes to receive a reply by the end of January to its proposals on an exchange of nuclear fuel. Tehran insists that the exchange should be made gradually and only in the Iranian territory.
It is planned that during the operation, Iran will receive fuel (enriched to 19.75 percent of uranium) for its Tehran research reactor (for medical aims) instead of its low-grade uranium (less than five percent). If the proposal is not approved, Iran announced that it intends to produce fuel for the research reactor on its own.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Sunday that “good news” would be made public concerning additional uranium enrichment in Iran during the celebration days (early in February) of the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution.
The International Atomic Energy Agency suggested a framework agreement late last October, under which the Islamic Republic was suggested to export 1.2 tonnes (around 75 percent of accumulated in the country) of low-grade uranium for enrichment in Russia and subsequent production of nuclear fuel in France for the Tehran reactor.
However, Iran insists that export and deliveries of uranium should be made simultaneously and gradually – by batches of around 400 kilos.
Available at: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14749814&PageNum=0
1. South Korea OKs Talks With North Korea Despite Threats
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South Korea agreed Monday to hold talks with North Korea on restarting lucrative tourism projects in the communist state, despite Pyongyang's weekend threat to attack its neighbour.
The unification ministry, responding to a proposal from the North, said it sent a message suggesting the talks be held on February 8 at the Kaesong joint industrial estate just north of the heavily guarded border.
The North had wanted the talks held at Mount Kumgang, its resort on the east coast, on January 26-27.
On Sunday the North's military lashed out at South Korea's plan to launch a preemptive strike to thwart any nuclear attack, calling it "an open declaration of war."
The threat was sparked by comments last week from the South's defence minister, who said Seoul would have to launch such a strike if a nuclear attack from its neighbour was imminent.
Analysts say the sanctions-hit North seems eager to promote joint business projects with the South despite political tensions.
The tours to Kumgang earned the cashapped North tens of millions of dollars a year until they were suspended by the South in 2008.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5giZuf9P4NNXpPgo09C1kLIIFf27A
2. North Korea Responds Angrily to South's Talk of Pre-Emptive Strike
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North Korea will consider any pre-emptive strike that the South takes against its nuclear facilities as a declaration of war, its state media said Sunday.
The North was responding to recent remarks by the South Korean defense minister.
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said last week that his country could launch a pre-emptive strike on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities if it confirmed that the communist nation was preparing a nuclear attack.
The minister said that his country would have no choice but to strike first in such a situation.
On Sunday, the North Korean military angrily lashed out, saying the "reckless" remarks were an indication that its neighbor was not serious about improving inter-Korean relations.
"Our revolutionary armed forces will regard the scenario for 'pre-emptive strike' which the south Korean puppet authorities adopted as a 'state policy' as an open declaration of war," a North Korean military spokesman was quoted as saying by North Korea's official news agency.
The two countries have technically remained in a state of war since the Korean War ended in 1953, although relations had warmed somewhat in the last few years. The Korean conflict ended in a truce, but no formal peace treaty was ever signed.
But rapprochement talks between the two sides hit a wall after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008 with a tough stance toward the North.
Tensions rose further after North Korea abandoned the six-party talks last April, declaring them "dead", in anger over international criticism of its nuclear and missile tests.
The six-party talks, which bring together the U.S., North and South Korea, Japan, Russia and China, aim to negotiate a deal for North Korea to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and aid.
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/01/24/north.korea.attack.reaction/index.html
1. South Korea Seeks Collaborations in Nuclear Sector
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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday urged the Indian government to look at Korea’s expertise in civil nuclear energy production and strike mutually beneficial collaborations in developing India’s nuclear energy capabilities and making the sector globally competitive.
Confident after securing a multi-billion dollar order for reactors from the United Arab Emirates, the Korean nuclear industry has identified India as an attractive market. The Korean nuclear industry has been in touch with Indian public sector companies and despatched its senior officials to India in September last year for a business scouting mission.
Addressing captains of Indian industry and trade at a business meeting, the South Korean President said that in his meeting with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, the two sides discussed cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy among other issues. “I apprised him about the Korean capabilities in the sector and told him that this was a very productive area to collaborate for mutual benefit and it would make your nuclear energy sector globally competitive,” he said.
Mr. Lee urged Korean companies to invest in Indian growing economy and Indian companies to turn their attention to Korea. Business cooperation between the two sides, he said, would be productive and effective in view of the complementarities between the two economies and the competitive advantages enjoyed by the Korean and Indian companies.
He laid stress on people-to-people exchanges — of engineers, scholars and students — make the benefits arising out of the Korea-India CEPA more meaningful.
Investment destination In his address, Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma pointed out that India had become a major investment destination with a huge market for automobiles, consumer electronics — areas that Korean companies excelled in. The business community of the two countries could also engage in healthcare, IT and BPO sector, he said.
He was confident that the Korean President would create conditions for Asian integration to ensure that Asia plays a leading role in global affairs.
Confederation of Indian Industry president Venu Srinivasan suggested setting up of dedicated trade and investment promotion agencies in each country to bridge the information gap regarding procedures and regulations faced by potential businesses. These agencies could target Tier-2 and 3 cities in India, which were thriving centres of entrepreneurship and a few promising sectors could be shortlisted for targeted intervention, including automobiles, telecom, electronics and electrical machinery, textiles, leather and pharmaceuticals.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Harsh Pati Singhania pointed to the tremendous potential for technology transfer between small and medium companies of both countries and suggested that Korean companies could look at joint ventures as well as sub-contracting arrangements with Indian companies in the areas of semi-conductors, plastics, auto parts, agricultural instruments, textiles, multi-media, ceramic products, and software.
Available at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/26/stories/2010012660771000.htm
President Lee Myung-bak arrived here Sunday for a summit today with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on boosting bilateral relations and partnerships on the global stage.
On his way to New Delhi, Lee stopped over in Chennai on the southeast coast of India, where factories of Korean industrial giants Hyundai Motor and Samsung Electronics are located. It is the first visit to India by a Korean president since 2004.
Upon arrival in the industrial city of Chennai, he visited a Hyundai automobile plant to encourage workers, and met with about 20 Korean businessmen, including the heads of the local branches of Samsung Electronics, Lotte Confectionery and Doosan Infracore.
Lee said he appreciated the efforts by Hyundai workers who were playing their role as vanguards of civilian diplomacy well, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
Entering in 1998, Hyundai's factories produce about 600,000 vehicles per year, making them the carmaker's largest production lines abroad.
During his four-day stay in India, he will focus on strengthening his ``New Asia Initiative'' by laying the groundwork for closer economic ties with the rapidly developing economy.
At the planned summit, President Lee and Prime Minister Singh are expected to sign a pact on nuclear technology exchange for peaceful purposes, opening the way for Korean firms to participate in India's project to build nuclear reactors.
In an interview with The Times of India published Sunday, Lee said his government wants to participate in India's construction of new nuclear power plants, adding there is great potential for the two nations to cooperate economically and on the global stage.
Korea and India, which has a skilled workforce and is rich in natural resources, could join hands for ``green growth'' as part of efforts to fight climate change, he added.
``In particular, I hope Korea, with its superb technology, will take part in India's nuclear power plant construction projects,'' Lee said.
After signing a $20 billion deal to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates last month, Korea announced plans to nurture its indigenous nuclear plants into a key export item alongside automobiles, semiconductors and ships.
The two leaders will also seek ways to develop bilateral cooperation based on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the de-facto free trade accord that took effect earlier this month, the presidential office said.
In addition, Seoul hopes to export its KT-1 basic trainer jet to New Delhi, which is pushing for a project to replace its training aircraft in a bid to improve its defense capabilities. Korea has exported KT-1s to Turkey and Indonesia.
President Lee will move to the Swiss ski resort of Davos Wednesday to deliver an address at the World Economic Forum Thursday, in which he will outline Korea's commitment to playing a bridging role between developed and developing countries at the G20 Seoul Summit in November.
In particular, he will stress Korea's efforts to be a voice for Asian countries on the global stage in charting a roadmap for sustainable economic growth, and addressing pressing issues such as climate change. Lee will return home Saturday.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/01/113_59576.html
1. Pakistan Rules Out Fissile Talks for Now-Diplomats
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Pakistan has quietly informed world powers that it cannot accept the start of global negotiations to halt production of nuclear bomb-making fissile material in the near future, diplomats told Reuters on Friday.
The move represents a potential setback for efforts by both the Obama administration and United Nations to forge ahead with what is widely seen as the next step in multilateral nuclear disarmament.
Zamir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, disclosed Islamabad's position during a diplomatic lunch hosted by Chinese ambassador Wang Qun earlier this week, they said.
"We are not in a position to accept the beginning of negotiations on a cut-off treaty in the foreseeable future," Akram was quoted as saying.
The U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament (CD) is trying to launch negotiations to halt production of fissile material (highly-enriched uranium and plutonium) and clinch what is known in the jargon as a fissile material "cut-off" treaty or FMCT.
"The question was posed to him quite directly," said another envoy at the lunch, attended by more than a dozen senior diplomats from the 65-member Geneva multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, whose members include Israel, North Korea and Iran.
"There continues to be no indication they are ready to move forward with the negotiation," the diplomat told Reuters. "They feel that the strategic imbalance can only be addressed by further (fissile) production. They've made that pretty clear."
Akram told Reuters on Friday: "We have a position. I will articulate that position when the right time arrives."
"What I said was qualified by certain conditions," Akram added. "There are basic conditions about the nature of the discussions, whether it will be simply a cut-off treaty or take account of the issue of stocks."
Stockpiles of fissile material already held by the five official nuclear powers (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) and others will be "germaine to the nature of the treaty that emerges", according to Pakistan's envoy.
"Will it be a simple ban, will it be a simple non-proliferation measure, or can it be a reduction of stockpiles which would mean a disarmament issue?" Akram said.
"Our view is that all critical issues should be on the table first and we should have an understanding of what we will talk about," he said. "If it is not in our national security interest then of course we can't be part of this process."
Pakistan only tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, and believes that efforts to ban the further production of fissile material would put it at a disadvantage to longer established nuclear powers -- including its nuclear-armed neighbour India, with which it has fought three wars since their independence in 1947.
Pakistan is resisting U.S. pressure to dismantle militant groups, including Afghan Taliban based on its soil, because it sees them as potential allies in its rivalry with India.
"Clearly they have very strong concerns," a diplomat said, referring to the fissile issue. "This is a very fundamental and sensitive issue back in Pakistan."
Pakistan blocked adoption of the conference's agenda for 2010 on Tuesday, calling for the inclusion of additional items, after holding up negotiations last year because of national security concerns about the focus of the talks.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sought to build bridges with the next generation of military leaders in Islamabad on Friday and end a "trust deficit" he said has hampered cooperation against Islamist militancy.
Pakistan is also suspicious of closer ties between the United States and India, particularly a civil nuclear deal that Washington signed with Delhi in 2008, ending the nuclear isolation imposed on India after it tested an atom bomb in 1974. It wants to exclude India from plans to stabilise Afghanistan.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idINLDE60K2D920100122?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews&rpc=401
U.S. President Barack Obama and Medvedev laid out plans last year to forge a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, called START, and reduce the arsenals of the two largest nuclear powers.
It is an important element of efforts to mend relations between Washington and Moscow, which plunged to post-Cold War lows after Russia's brief war with pro-Western Georgia in 2008.
Negotiators were unable to reach agreement by Dec. 5, when START I expired, and official negotiations in Geneva have not resumed after a break over the holiday period.
A top U.S. official indicated earlier this month that they would resume on Jan. 25, and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday he expected an agreement would be reached soon once negotiations resume at the beginning of February.
Any agreement must be ratified by lawmakers in both countries to take effect.
In July, Obama and Medvedev agreed that the new treaty should cut the number of nuclear warheads on each side to between 1,500 and 1,675, and the number of delivery vehicles to between 500 and 1,100.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-45646820100124?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=401
2. South Korea Seeking to Amend Nuclear Accord With US
The Korea Times
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South Korea is moving to hold behind-the-scenes discussions with the United States in a bid to amend an agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy.
Second Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo is scheduled to meet senior U.S. officials who deal with nuclear-related issues in Washington, Monday, ministry officials said. They include Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
Chun will exchange views on the bilateral agreement concerning atomic energy and the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty slated for May, the officials said.
In particular, the vice minister will explain the government's firm stance on nuclear non-proliferation and difficulties involved with keeping spent nuclear fuel.
The accord regarding civil uses of atomic energy bans the nation from reprocessing spent atomic energy as a measure against its possible use for military purposes.
It expires in 2014 and negotiations between the two countries are expected to begin in the first half of this year at the earliest to amend the pact.
Cho Hyun, chief negotiator and deputy foreign minister of multilateral and global affairs, will participate in a preliminary meeting for the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands next month.
He will meet with his U.S. counterpart Gary Samore, who serves as White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, to discuss the amendment issue, the officials said.
Those moves are also construed as part of efforts to smoothly proceed with a contract Korea signed with the United Arab Emirates to build four nuclear power plants in the Middle East nation.
Last Month, a South Korean consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corp won a $20 billion deal, the biggest single contract the country has ever won abroad.
"Once the U.S.-Korea and U.S-UAE nuclear cooperation agreements are valid, the country can smoothly proceed with the deal," a ministry official said, requesting anonymity. "But the agreement between Korea and the United States will be extended in the worst-case scenario, which will not affect the country's ability to fulfill the contract."
With its nuclear technology, Seoul plans to have the first nuclear reactor start supplying power to the UAE grid in 2017 and the remaining three operating by 2020.
Korea first introduced atomic power in 1978 and currently has 20 nuclear plants in operation.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/01/116_59574.html
1. Toshiba, Korea Electric to Gain From Nuclear Boom, Nomura Says
John Duce and Shigeru Sato
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Korea Electric Power Corp., South Korea’s biggest power producer, and Toshiba Corp.’s engineering arm will be among companies to benefit most as Asia leads a global nuclear revival, Nomura International said in a report.
About 62 percent of nuclear power stations now under development will be built in Asia, and regional electrical equipment and plant builders are best placed to profit, according to the report.
About 200 gigawatts of nuclear capacity are now planned or under construction worldwide as governments encourage the use of non-fossil fuels as part of measures to combat global warming being negotiated under the Copenhagen Accord. China leads the world in developing atomic power, with 28 percent of new plants to be built by the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases, Nomura said.
“Asia is leading the world into a global nuclear renaissance,” Nomura International (HK) Ltd. analysts led by Ivan Lee said in their report dated yesterday. “Climate change is turning the spotlight on nuclear power as a low-carbon energy solution.”
China has 8.6 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity and this will likely rise to 70 gigawatts by 2020, the report said.
Shanghai Electric Group Co., China’s largest power- equipment maker, Dongfang Electric Corp., and utilities including Huaneng Power International Inc. will likely benefit from the drive, Nomura said.
Korea Electric, which led a group of bidders that won a $20 billion contract for four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates last month, is “well-placed” to boost exports of its plant operation and management services, according to the report.
Demand for new reactors at home and overseas, seismic reinforcement work and maintenance on older plants will drive mid-term profit growth at Toshiba Plant Systems & Services Corp., Nomura said.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=anymCWNVvFZU
Israel’s national electricity producer, Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), is considering building a plant for nuclear fuel as an alternative to the construction of another coal-power generating station. A host of obstacles face any plans for nuclear fuel, not the least of them opposition from environmentalists and the requirement that Israel sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Jordan already has announced plans to build a nuclear power plant, and the IEC might do the same, its deputy Chief Executive Officer Moshe Bachar said at a recent conference, reported by Globes.
"The era of chief electricity is over,” he said. “Environmental technology is significantly more expensive, despite technological improvements. In the coming years, we will have to create a mix of fuels, while conserving the environment and saving energy sources.”
He added that demand for electricity will grow because of an expected population growth of one million more residents by 2020, urbanization and extended life expectancy. IEC also is considering a gigantic solar energy plant as an alternative to a coal-fired station. A mammoth solar station would cover approximately 5,000 acres and cost $4 billion.
With natural gas also to be available following the discovery of huge reserves off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Bachar predicts that coal-fired electric generating stations, which are a major producer of pollution, will be used only as a backup in the distant future.
Environmentalists' opposition to nuclear power plants are based on fears of an earthquake, sabotage or a technical fault, all of which could cause a calamity because of radiation leaks.
Available at: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/135688
3. Saudi Not Considering Nuclear Power, Oil Adviser Says
Maher Chmaytelli and Ayesha Daya
(for personal use only)
Saudi Arabia is not considering developing an atomic energy program, even as neighboring oil producers pursue nuclear plants to meet power demand and diversify domestic energy sources.
“We are ruling out nuclear energy for now,” Mohammed Salim Sorour al-Sabban, who also heads Saudi’s United Nations climate negotiations, said in an interview in Riyadh today. “We are joining the International Renewable Energy Agency and we will focus on solar energy as a renewable.”
Saudi Arabia aims to boost solar energy projects and export electricity from such plants, al-Sabban said.
The world’s biggest oil producer is short on natural gas to fuel power plants and uses more expensive fuel oil for domestic electricity generation. The United Arab Emirates, the fourth- biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, awarded a $20 billion contract last month to a group led by Korea Electric Power Corp. to build four nuclear plants as growing infrastructure uses up domestic gas supplies.
Iran, the biggest OPEC producer after Saudi Arabia, says it is also pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, while the U.S. and its allies suspect it is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aFE3tGRwA484
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