In his first State of Union address to Congress, US President Barack Obama warned Iran that it will face "growing consequences" over its nuclear work if ignores its “obligations.”
He used his address to Congress on Wednesday to show how he intends to govern in the next three years. He also delivered a warning to Iran.
President Obama claimed diplomatic efforts had "strengthened" the US position in dealing with countries that he said are violating international agreements, referring to Iran and North Korea.
"That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences," he said.
He also accused Iran of "violating international agreements in pursuit of" nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology and is in line with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory.
On Wednesday, a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would seek support for new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran during her stay in London this week.
According to the official, the former first lady will hold private meetings with the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to garner support for new Iran sanctions.
Earlier this month, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) met in New York and failed to agree on a new round of sanctions.
During the meeting, Russia and China called for patience and restraint in dealing with Iran over its nuclear program.
Available at: http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=117267§ionid=351020104
The international community is moving toward consensus on imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.
Clinton was speaking in London after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, part of a series of meetings focused on Iran held on the sidelines of international conferences on Afghanistan and Yemen.
Russia -- which along with China has been less eager to push for new U.N. sanctions on Tehran -- was now "very willing" both to work with the United States and to consider "appropriate pressure" as a next step, she said.
"In the course of many consultations including today we believe that there is growing understanding in the international community that Iran should face consequences for its defiance of international obligations," Clinton told reporters.
Lavrov, speaking to Russian reporters after the meeting, stopped short of openly supporting new sanctions. But he warned that patience with Tehran was running out, according to remarks quoted by state-run RIA Novosti.
"It is clear that one can't wait forever, and our partners are already talking about the need to discuss further measures in the U.N. Security Council," he said.
Clinton, who is officially in London to focus on Afghanistan and Yemen, is nevertheless engaged in extensive diplomacy on Iran, trying to win support from both Russia and China for new sanctions if Tehran does not act to ease concerns over its nuclear program.
Tehran says its only goal is generating nuclear energy, but Washington accuses it of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Russia and China approved three previous rounds of sanctions against Iran but used their clout to water them down. The Kremlin has indicated it could support new sanctions but also cautioned against rushing to punish Iran, saying that this could be counterproductive.
WHAT ABOUT CHINA?
Clinton and another senior U.S. official involved in the discussions characterized Russia's position as supportive of the U.S. effort, with the U.S. official saying only "tactics" over eventual sanctions needed to be worked out.
"From the very beginning there is agreement that pressure is part of the equation," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"I can't tell you when or what a Security Council resolution (on sanctions) will actually look like -- I'm confident that within a few weeks we will be able to begin the negotiation process in earnest in New York."
The countries negotiating with Iran include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- plus Germany, the so called "P5+1."
Of these, China has appeared the most reluctant to embark on a new sanctions track against Iran, one of its major crude oil suppliers. Beijing sent a relatively low level official to talks earlier this month in New York, which ended inconclusively.
Clinton, who was due to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Thursday, was asked what might change his mind on the issue of applying more pressure soon.
"On Iran, I don't think there is a mind to change," Clinton said. "I think there is an openness. I think there is an awareness of the importance of the international community standing together with respect to Iran," Clinton said.
"The P5+1 Has been unified up until now with respect to every action that we've taken ... and I am working toward a point where we will continue to be unified and send a very strong message to the Iranians."
One senior Western diplomat said the P5+1 are trying to schedule a conference call on Iran before the end of this week, and will have in hand U.S.-drafted "elements" of a Security Council sanctions resolution.
The diplomat declined to give precise details, though he made clear that it could contain new measures targeting members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, adding new names of individuals or companies to existing sanctions lists.
Clinton declined to confirm this, saying "I'm not going to preview or pre-empt what we're doing."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60Q72A20100127
3. Gulf Should Not Allow Iran Attacks From US Bases: Iran
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Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said on Wednesday that Arab states in the Gulf should not allow the United States to launch attacks on the Islamic republic from bases in the region.
"States in the region which house US military bases should know that these bases must not be used against Iran. The region should not become a launchpad for aggression against Iran," Larijani told a news conference in Kuwait.
Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, all members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, are home to major US military bases. Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
Larijani, however, assured Gulf neighbours that Iran "does not want to inflict any harm on the GCC states," and charged that the United States was scaring the Gulf from Iran to promote its presence in the region.
"I believe that for the sake of having new military bases in the region... and control over its resources, the Americans and Zionists are trying to scare the region from Iran," he said.
"We feel that certain regional groups in addition to America and the Zionists are trying to create disputes between Iran and the states in the region. We will not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries," he said.
Larijani is concluding a three-day official visit to Kuwait during which he met with the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, and other leaders.
He said he discussed with Kuwaiti officials the security situation in the region, where he "America is stirring up wars and setting fires."
Kuwait has repeatedly said it opposed any military action against Iran, but has also urged Tehran to respect the resolutions of the international community.
Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said last week that Western warships stationed in the Gulf are "best targets" for the Islamic republic if its nuclear sites are attacked, Fars news agency reported.
Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened to deliver a "crushing response" and hit US targets, including its bases in the Gulf and neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan, if Iran's nuclear sites are attacked.
Larijani also said Washington and Israel will not "dare launch an aggression on Iran," over its nuclear programme.
"Israel will not dare attack Iran because it knows that if it carries out such an action, Iranian missiles will burn its lands," Larijani said.
The United States and its regional ally Israel, which accuse Iran of seeking atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, have never ruled out a military option to thwart Tehran's nuclear drive.
Iran denies the charges and has continued to expand its nuclear programme despite UN sanctions.
Larijani said Tehran is proud of helping the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas which fought wars against Israel in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
The Iranian official said that US President Barack Obama has "failed in his policy on the Palestinian cause as the (Israeli) siege on Gaza and the construction of Jewish settlements are continuing."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCreMORbixXv95T5hekHHctD7ZQw
The head of Siemens said Tuesday his company had quit taking orders from Iran. The announcement came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel predicted movement toward tougher sanctions over Tehran's nuclear enrichment program.
Siemens CEO Peter Löscher told shareholders on Tuesday that the Siemens board had decided in October 2009 to wind down business with the Islamic Republic. A number of bids were still open from before October, he said, but if they fall through Siemens will end its dealings with Iran by mid-2010.
Western countries believe Iran is building a nuclear weapons program, but Tehran says it needs enriched uranium exclusively for civilian use in nuclear power plants. The United States imposed a deadline at the end of 2009 for Iran to respond to a package of incentives to quit enriching uranium. Iran let the deadline pass, and Chancellor Merkel said Tuesday that the United Nations Security Council will now take up the question of tighter sanctions.
"The issue of sanctions on Iran will be on the agenda when France has the (Security Council) chair," she told a joint press conference with visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres. Peres was in Berlin to observe Holocaust Memorial Day, which falls on Wednesday.
Sanction talks would likely occur in February, Merkel said. France takes over the Security Council chair this month from China, which still opposes sanctions.
'A Long Tradition of Cooperation'
In spite of three rounds of milder sanctions imposed by the UN, Berlin has struggled to suppress high-tech exports to Iran. Siemens -- Europe's largest engineering firm -- sells about €500 million ($703.6 million) worth of goods to Iranian companies every year, according to Reuters. In 2009 that number amounted to 0.7 percent of its overall sales.
"There is a long tradition of economic cooperation (between Germany and Iran)," Merkel said at the press conference Tuesday. "There has been a significant reduction. But we believe it is only effective if you try to introduce international sanctions on as broad a base as possible. Germany will adhere to sanctions in all sectors that are affected."
German customs officers in December found €16 million worth of turbocompressors bound for Iran from a Siemens branch in Sweden. The compressors -- part of a larger €80 million shipment -- could be have been used in Iran's missile program, investigators said. A Siemens spokesman said there was nothing underhanded about the company's behavior, but he never addressed the shipment itself.
"Our business activities in Iran are exclusively for civil purposes and are in accordance with applicable international laws and regulations," he told SPIEGEL at the time.
Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,674320,00.html
Iran cannot keep the world waiting forever in the standoff over its nuclear programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Wednesday after talks with his US counterpart Hillary Clinton.
The US Secretary of State for her part said Iran's failure to agree to a UN-brokered nuclear fuel exchange deal aimed at breaking the impasse was seen as "a turning point" by other major powers involved in talks.
"It is clear that it is not possible to wait for ever," Lavrov said after the talks in London, where both he and Clinton are to attend an international conference on Afghanistan on Thursday.
The comments are the latest sign of apparent growing Russian frustration over Iran's refusal to agree a deal.
"We are disappointed that Iran has not reacted constructively to the proposals" offered by world powers, he said in remarks broadcast on Russian state television.
Clinton added: "Increasingly our partners around the world see Iran's refusal to agree... as a turning point."
A US official suggested it was now apparent more pressure would have to be applied to move the process forward.
"We've reached the reluctant conclusion that we need to go further on the pressure track," said the official.
Lavrov "said that we have the same vision, the same goal", the official added.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States have been negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear programme amid concerns that it is secretly developing fissile material for nuclear weapons -- which Iran denies.
Under the UN plan, Iran would hand over most of its stocks of low-enriched uranium in return for the supply by France and Russia of nuclear fuel enriched to the higher level required for a Tehran research reactor.
Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, is one of the few major powers to have close relations with Iran.
The United States has over the last months actively looked for explicit backing from Moscow for tougher sanctions against Tehran should the Islamic Republic continue with its defiance.
An official with Clinton said earlier that Washington was "working on the possible elements of a (UN) Security Council resolution and to take stock of existing Security Council resolutions and what additional actions can be taken to implement those."
Russia has traditionally been wary of further Security Council sanctions against Iran, but Lavrov indicated moves for additional measures were already afoot in New York.
"Our partners are already talking about the necessity of discussing additional steps at the Security Council so that we can move forward to the goals set by the international community," he said.
Moscow's capacity to provide technical help for the Iranian nuclear drive is seen by some analysts as giving it an unmatched power of leverage in Tehran.
Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr and the facility is due to finally come on line this year.
The West suspects Tehran is trying to develop an atomic bomb under cover of its civilian nuclear energy programme. Russia has said there is no evidence to support these accusations.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jW0MuGwbxHkv3vX5e1yUwDF13YsA
A top commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday that the country's armed forces will unveil several missiles and weapons at the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution next month.
Mehr news agency quoted commander Massud Jazayeri as saying: "Several missile and weapons projects will be unveiled during the 10 days of dawn (February 1 to 11) by armed forces."
Jazayeri's announcement comes less than a week after Tehran said it will reveal three new satellites in February.
Communications Minister Reza Taghipour said the three home-built communications satellites were Toloo (Dawn), Ya Mahdi and Mesbah-2. He did not give a specific date for the launching.
Iran had launched its first home-built satellite, the Omid (Hope), last February to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
The launch sent alarm bells ringing in the international community, which voiced concern over Iran's development of technology that could be used for military purposes.
The West suspects Iran of secretly trying to build an atomic bomb and fears the technology used to launch space rockets could be diverted into developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Tehran denies having military goals for its space programme or its nuclear drive.
But it has aggressively pursued a missile programme and repeatedly threatened to target US bases in the region and to block the strategic Gulf Strait of Hormuz waterway for oil tankers if its nuclear sites are attacked.
Washington and its ally Israel have not ruled out striking Iran's nuclear sites in a bid to stop its galloping atomic drive which they suspect is aimed at making weapons.
Iran is under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment and risks a further round after rejecting a UN-brokered deal to send its low enriched uranium abroad to be further refined into fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g96mSzjUjMnusAdI4uREbXuCzt1A
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday he hopes the chamber can take up legislation within the next few weeks that would authorize sanctions on companies that provide gasoline to Iran.
"The act will create new pressure on the Iranian regime to help stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," he said on the Senate floor.
"I am reaching out to Republican colleagues to help me find a path to get that done in the next few weeks," he said.
Reid said he had discussed the measure, sponsored by fellow Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, with the chamber's Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and "we're committed to finding a time to do this."
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in December authorizing President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on companies that directly provide gasoline to Iran, along with companies that provide insurance and tankers to facilitate fuel shipments.
In December, Reid made a commitment to bring up a similar Senate bill early in the new year. The two chambers will ultimately have to approve the same version before the measure can become law.
Iran lacks the refining capacity to meet its domestic gasoline needs and has to import up to 40 percent of its gasoline requirements to meet high domestic demand.
The United States and major European Union countries say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. Tehran denies this and says its nuclear activities are purely civilian.
Iran's failure to meet a U.S. deadline of December 31 to accept a plan, brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to send abroad most of its enriched uranium has prompted the United States and five other world powers to start considering possible tougher sanctions against Tehran.
In Congress, many lawmakers in both parties are anxious to hand Obama more options for pressuring Iran to drop its nuclear work.
But it is not clear how keen the Obama administration is to use a broad-based option such as sanctioning the gasoline shipments. This could affect companies based in countries that are U.S. allies as well as destabilize Iran's economy, penalizing members of its protest movement along with the Iranian leadership.
Obama administration officials said last month they were looking at more targeted sanctions.
Tehran has been building stocks of gasoline as the threat of stricter sanctions grows.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60P4KK20100126?type=politicsNews
1. North Korea Steps Up Call for Peace Treaty Amid Seething Border Tension
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea stepped up its demand Wednesday for a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War amid tension that spiked after it fired artillery into its waters near the western sea border with South Korea.
The firing, which prompted the South to respond with warning shots, occurred near the Northern Limit Line that has served as a de facto boundary between the divided states, according to South Korean defense officials. Their navies clashed in a brief gunfight there in November last year -- the third such incident since 1999.
Analysts point out that the latest act of saber-rattling that comes after North Korea threatened a "sacred" attack against the South could be aimed at pressuring the U.S. and South Korea into embracing the North Korean demand for a peace treaty.
The Minju Chosun, a paper run by the North's cabinet, said a peace treaty is also essential for guaranteeing the success of six-nation talks on its nuclear arms programs, and described the U.S. call for the North to first rejoin the talks as "an act of insolence."
"If a peace treaty is forged between the U.S. and North Korea and trust is built, measures for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula will be created, removing the threat of war," it said.
"The reality shows that trust is needed to resolve the nuclear problem and other various problems," it said.
The commentary, dated Tuesday but released a day later, also reaffirmed the North Korean stance that the country will not return to the talks -- which also include South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Russia and China -- until sanctions on the country are removed.
The U.S. demand that the North first return to the talks "is an act of insolence that belies common sense," it said in the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Seoul.
In a New Year's message, Pyongyang said it would seek to improve relations with the outside world, including the South, marking a reversal from its earlier behavior that led to its second nuclear test in May last year. The test, which followed a long-range rocket launch, caused the U.N. to toughen its sanctions on the North.
Following the New Year's Day message, North Korea has repeatedly called for talks to formally end the Korean War with a peace treaty, arguing the armistice feeds U.S. hostilities against it and impedes progress in the denuclearization talks.
North Korea had said in December that waters just south of the NLL in the Yellow Sea are part of its "peacetime firing zone." On Tuesday, it declared "no-sail" zones in the areas in a typical move ahead of military drills.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/01/27/9/0401000000AEN20100127009300315F.HTML
2. US Urges Restraint From 'Provocative' North Korea
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The United States on Wednesday criticized North Korea as "provocative" and urged restraint after it fired artillery shells near its disputed maritime border with South Korea.
"The declaration by North Korea of a no sail zone and the live firing of artillery are provocative actions and as such as not helpful," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
North Korea had declared two "no sail" zones near the disputed border and fired more than 80 shells despite warning shots by South Korea.
The US Defense Department called for restraint in the Korean peninsula, where the United States stations some 28,500 troops in the democratic South. The maritime border was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002.
"Although this is a bilateral issue between the North and the South, we clearly are discouraging of any further acts of aggression which would in any way increase the tensions along this historically disputed boundary area," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told a news conference.
"We want to see everybody exercise restraint as they deal with this issue."
No one was hurt in the shelling, which some analysts said was partly aimed at highlighting Pyongyang's demands to the United States amid efforts to restart six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.
Crowley and Morrell both declined to comment on North Korea's motivations or any effect on US diplomatic efforts.
"It's always difficult to interpret the intentions behind North Korea's actions," Morrell said.
"We, however, have made it very clear that there is a path open to the North Koreans in the framework of the six-party talks to achieve the security and international respect that ...at least they say they seek," Morrell said.
"So provocative actions such as those that we saw yesterday are clearly not part of that path," he said.
North Korea last year tested a nuclear bomb for the second time and stormed out of the six-nation deal on ending its nuclear drive, although it later agreed to re-enter the negotiations.
But North Korea has since demanded that the United States first negotiate with it to draft a formal peace treaty to end the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gaOMYMEsHtRGV8U0oRBVupiayJtg
3. North Korea May Be Readying Missile Test - South Korea TV
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North Korea has declared a no-sail zone off its west coast, indicating it may be readying to test-launch missiles in the area, South Korean news broadcaster YTN on Tuesday quoted a military official as saying.
The area is near a contested sea border with the South that was the site of a brief naval clash in November between the states, technically still at war, that left a South Korean ship pockmarked with bullet holes and a North Korean vessel limping back to port in flames.
About a month before that clash, North Korea rattled regional security by firing short-range missiles off its east coast.
"We are closely monitoring the area to inspect whether this announcement was made as a part of their winter training or to launch short-range missiles," the unnamed official told YTN.
South Korean military officials said they were checking on the YTN report.
Destitute North Korea in recent weeks has signalled that it is ready to reduce the security threat it poses to economically vital North Asia by saying it could end its year-long boycott of international nuclear disarmament talks.
Analysts said the latest moves may be an attempt by Pyongyang to increase its leverage and win concessions to lure it back to the table in the disarmament-for-aid talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTOE60P091
Australia’s non-proliferation envoy Gareth Evans has slammed the India-United States nuclear deal, saying it is a major hurdle to the goal of a nuclear-free world.
“Everybody knows that from India’s point of view it was a brilliant success but from the point of view of non-proliferation objectives it wasn’t as helpful as it could have been,” Mr. Evans told journalists here.
Mr. Evans, who is the co-chair of the International Commission for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament — a joint initiative of the governments of Japan and Australia, was speaking after presenting a report, ‘Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers.’
One of the contributors for the report is the former National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra.
Mr. Evans said the commitments made by the Indian government were insufficient and set a bad precedent.
“It was a very bad deal from the point of view of non-proliferation and the kinds of principles that most of us are committed to simply because it did not demand enough of the Indian government in terms of issues such as non-production of fissile material or even non resumption of testing,” Mr. Evans said.
Nuclear war A nuclear war between India, Pakistan could cause severe “climate cooling” and have a devastating impact on agriculture worldwide, said the commission report.
“Just a limited regional nuclear exchange, for example between India and Pakistan, with each side attacking the other’s major cities with 50 low-yield Hiroshima-sized weapons, will throw up major concentrations of soot into the stratosphere, which would remain there for long enough to cause unprecedented climate cooling worldwide, with major disruptive effects on global agriculture,” the report said.
Available at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/27/stories/2010012759191000.htm
2. Jordan, Algeria Sign Nuclear Energy Cooperation Deal
Kuwait News Agency
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Jordan and Algeria signed here on Tuesday cooperation agreement in the fields of energy, nuclear energy, oil and gas.
The minutes of the agreement was signed of by the Jordanian Energy Minister Khalid Al-Erani and his Algerian counterpart Chakib Khelil, who is visiting Jordan to discuss ways of bilateral cooperation in the field of energy.
According to a statement from both parties, cooperation treaty includes oil derivatives, gas, renewable energy in addition to exchange of experience and studies that meet Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company's needs of certain oil products in Algeria.
Under the accord, both countries form task forces to study the possibility of initiating some projects such as setting up storage facilities for liquefied petroleum gas in Aqaba, Jordan, to be a regional center to provide the Jordanian and regional markets.
Minutes were signed by both parties specialized in nuclear energy and the exchange of expertise and technology in the field of prospecting and mining of uranium ores.
Head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Khalid Touqan and the Governor's of Algerian Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Dardour signed the minutes.
In a statement released after the minutes signature, Touqan asserted the importance of cooperation with different Arab countries to experience nuclear power generation, referring to the growing needs of the Kingdom of the energy and water in light of fluctuating energy supplies and increase of prices as well as growing scarcity of water resources.
Algerian minister Khelil expressed interest in cooperating with Jordan in the nuclear energy field of a peaceful use and welcomed the idea of signing an agreement on nuclear cooperation such as agreements signed by Jordan with eight member countries of the nuclear club.
Available at: http://www.zawya.com/Story.cfm/sidZAWYA20100127075007/Jordan,%20Algeria%20sign%20nuclear%20energy%20cooperation%20deal%20
3. Medvedev, Obama Want New Arms Deal Completed Soon
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama agreed on Wednesday to order the speedy completion of a new strategic arms reduction deal, the Kremlin said.
"The heads of state expressed their satisfaction at the good progress made during the recently completed Moscow round of talks on preparation for the signing of a new strategic nuclear forces deal," a Kremlin statement said.
The statement added that Medvedev and Obama had agreed during their "constructive and friendly" telephone conversation to give their delegations orders to complete the deal "in the near future."
Medvedev said on Sunday the new arms cuts pact with the United States was "95%" agreed on.
A new document to replace the START 1 treaty, which expired on December 5, has not been signed yet over disagreements on verification and control arrangements to be included in the document.
The new treaty's outline, as agreed on by the Russian and U.S. presidents, includes cutting nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 operational warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.
Medvedev and Obama pledged at their first meeting in April 2009 to replace the START I treaty as part of broader efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20100127/157699115.html
Nigeria yesterday moved another step forward in its aspiration to establish a nuclear power plant, with the commencement of a three-day manpower training workshop aimed at generating the critical mass of manpower needed to drive the national nuclear programmes.
The manpower development programme is an important part of the strategic plan for implementation of the country's nuclear power programme.
As part of its effort to achieve set national objectives, the National Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) said it is pursuing a deliberate policy to promote and coordinate relevant programmes aimed at capacity building, infrastructure development and human capital development, to generate the required manpower.
NAEC, which is the focal national agency mandated to drive the country's nuclear power programme, said the strategic plan constitutes the first of the three milestones required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the successful and sustainable introduction of a nuclear power plant.
The agency said it has recruited 40 young scentists who are undergoing a three-month intensive training programme in nuclear science and engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
At the successful completion of the training course, the agency said the students would form the nucleus of those that drive Nigeria's nuclear power programme, having acquired the basic knowledge in nuclear science and engineering.
Speaking at the flag-off of the training workshop in Abuja, Director-General, Sheda Science and Technology complex, Prof. Sunday Thomas said government is working on a plan to develop indigeneous manpower capacity that would run the nuclear power plant in line with international best practices.
Available at: http://allafrica.com/stories/201001260368.html
2. UAE Looks to Follow South Korea's Example for Nuclear Future
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The four imposing reactors at the birthplace of South Korea’s nuclear programme rise from a point on the verdant coastline, their grey domes surrounded by drab square buildings.
The construction site at Kori where South Korea is building its newest reactors, plants similar to those planned for the UAE, are a hive of activity. The existing reactors, the first of which was built in 1978, are silent, however. And that is just how the South Koreans like it.
The plants here are almost never shut down for technical trouble, a point of pride for a country that set out to make nuclear power a low-risk commodity. Together, South Korea’s plants now supply as much as 40 per cent of the country’s electricity.
Chae Wan Hee, a vice president for Korean Hydro and Nuclear Power at the site, said the company’s safe operating history comes down to rigorously training workers in the nuclear plants “to prevent human-incurred accidents in operation and maintenance”.
Next door to the operating plants – at the construction site of the point’s seventh nuclear plant – the first model of a new design is coming together in a set of modules that are lifted into place by tall cranes. The 5,000 workers are running ahead of their target to have the plant operating by September 2013, and officials say they have yet to sustain a single injury on the work site since construction started more than two years ago.
The uniform and highly disciplined approach to nuclear plant construction is the key to why the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) awarded a US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn) contract last month to Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) to build a fleet of reactors in the UAE.
ENEC officials said they were convinced that the Korean firms could construct four highly efficient reactors by 2020 at relatively low cost.
ENEC has a long-term plan modelled on the Korean system of uniform design and economy of scale: it intends to build all four reactors at the one site it eventually chooses, and also has signalled that it would prefer to stick with the same design as reactors are added.
But in the meantime, expansion at Shin Kori, the new side of the Kori site, will go on.
By the end of 2014, this cluster of nuclear reactors will grow to eight and generate an amount of electricity equivalent to the consumption of Abu Dhabi emirate on the hottest summer day.
South Korea’s nuclear programme extends well beyond Kori: a total of 20 reactors are operating at four sites across the country. The government intends to increase that figure to 60 per cent by 2030.
South Korea’s uniform approach to reactor construction and operation has paid off in lower costs and has demonstrated that big innovations may not be the most cost-effective route to going nuclear.
“Advanced technology is good for marketing, but when it comes to design and construction, it causes difficulties,” said Dr Kim Shin-whan, a nuclear engineer and manager of business development at Korea Power Engineering Company, the KEPCO subsidiary that designs reactors.
The country’s fleet of reactors generates electricity at an average cost of 40 won (Dh0.12) per kilowatt-hour over their lifetime of operation – 2 won less than the country’s coal-fired power plants, said Dr Hwang Joo-ho, a nuclear expert at Kyung Hee University who was appointed by the government in 2004 to lead a committee to determine the true cost of nuclear power.
His findings, which included “hidden costs” such as the price of retiring the plants and finding a solution to nuclear waste, more than doubled industry estimates for nuclear energy’s cost at the time.
But the figure is still substantially lower than costs for producing electricity from nearly any other source.
“I would be very comfortable in saying this is the full cost nowadays,” Dr Hwang said. “Why are we saving money? The first thing is we’ve been lucky to have vertically or serially arranged companies” that incorporate the full range of expertise needed to build a reactor.
“Moreover, at one point we were completing one unit every year, so [the companies] got experience for engineering, procurement or construction.”
Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100126/BUSINESS/701269849/1005
A major uprate program is planned for the Leningrad power plant that should result in an extra 200 MWe of nuclear generating capacity.
Three reactors at the power plant could benefit from a change to use uranium fuel at a higher level of enrichment. This will boost thermal power output, officials said, while and increasing safety and using less uranium.
The swap from fuel enriched to 2.4% uranium-235 to new rods with an average enrichment of 3% will boost thermal power output by 5% - enough to yield 200 MWe in net output across the three reactors that could eventually use the new fuel.
The first batch of new fuel rods has been produced and delivered to the Leningrad plant. Measuring 3.65 metres long, they are enriched to 3.2% in the centre and 2.5% in the upper and lower portions. The rods include erbium to balance an increase in neutron flux within the reactor core. They should last eight to ten years.
Trial operation with the new fuel in Leningrad 2 was authorised by regulator Rostechnadzor in late 2009 and is expected to start soon. Subsequent operating data and experience will be reported back to Rostechnadzor, along with an application to amend the reactor's operating licence to make the change permanent. After this, the fuel could being use in Leningrad 3 and 4. Only unit 1 at the 3700 MWe power plant will be excluded because it does not share the same reactor control and protection systems.
Technical organisations including the Kurchatov Institute, Nikiet and Vnipiet took part in the drafting of these plans.
Leningrad nuclear power plant director Valery Lebedev emphasised the benefits the power boost would bring to the region, including related increases in tax payments to regional budgets.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF_Nuclear_fuel_to_boost_Leningrad_2501101.html
1. Namibia Uranium Production Up by Six Percent in 2009
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Uranium production in Namibia increased by six percent in 2009, according to figures released by the country's two producers Wednesday.
"Total uranium production for Namibia rose to 5,429 tonnes in 2009, a six percent increase compared to 2008," announced Robin Sherbourne, group economist of Old Mutual Namibia Wednesday.
Rio Tinto's Namibian Rossing Uranium mine reported a production of 1,166 tonnes for the fourth quarter of 2009, ending last December, which was 3.5 percent higher than the previous quarter according to Sherbourne.
Australian-owned Langer Heinrich Uranium, a subsidiary of Paladin Energy, produced 382 tonnes in the last quarter of 2009, an increase of 28.6 percent, after the company completed an expansion project.
"Paladin has concluded a new long term sales contract with a major Asian utility covering the supply of more than four million pounds uranium, commencing in 2012, on terms which will capture the expected strengthening market price," Paladin announced on its website Wednesday.
"Work is also well advanced on making a trial shipment of uranium directly to China to test and demonstrate the efficiency of logistics from Africa to Chinese conversion facilities."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ifhpHprKMl8AQF7WPXMjMajKMa0w
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