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Nuclear News - 12/9/2010
PGS Nuclear News, December 9, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Calls for Formation of 6+1 Group, PressTV (12/8/2010)
    2. No Progress Evident in Iran Nuclear Talks, Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times (12/8/2010)
    3. Common Issues Focus of Istanbul Talks, PressTV (12/8/2010)
    4. UAE Wants UN to Lift Sanctions Against Iran, Gulf Times (12/8/2010)
    5. Iran Terms Geneva Talks 'Constructive', PressTV (12/7/2010)
    1. China Will Help with 'Problems' Like North Korea: US, Michael Langan, AFP (12/8/2010)
    2. China Slams 'Irresponsible' US Report on North Korea, AFP (12/7/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. India, France Ink 2 Pacts on Nuclear Safety, The Hindu (12/9/2010)
    2. START Treaty: Obama Confident New Nuclear Pact with Russia Will Pass Senate Muster, Jim Kuhnhenn, The Christian Science Monitor (12/8/2010)
    3. Russia, U.S. to Increase Nuclear Cooperation - Rosatom Chief, RIA Novosti (12/7/2010)
D.  Nuclear Security
    1. Study on Nuke Safety Planned, Philippine Information Group (12/8/2010)
    2. Nuclear Warheads Ready for Missile Test, UPI (12/7/2010)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Prime Minister Urged to Look at Nuclear Energy Future, Christian Kerr, The Australian (12/9/2010)
    2. Kudankulam Nuclear Reactor to be Operational by Early Next Year, The Economic Times (12/8/2010)
    3. Saudi Seen Generating Power From Nuclear in 10 Years, Reuters (12/7/2010)
    4. South Korea Plans to Spend $39 Billion on New Nuclear, Coal and Gas Plants, Shinhye Kang, Bloomberg (12/7/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Iran Agrees to 2011 Talks in Turkey, Associated Press (12/7/2010)
    2. Chu Urges Congress to Look to Nuclear Power, Frederic J. Frommer, Business Week (12/7/2010)

A.  Iran

Common Issues Focus of Istanbul Talks
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Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili insists that the upcoming comprehensive talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Istanbul will focus on “common concerns.”

Iran's top negotiator referred to “existing debates and concerns such as nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and cooperation in making peaceful nuclear energy accessible to other nations” as potential issues of common concerns to the negotiating parties.

The Iranian chief negotiator added that the Istanbul summit can succeed “if it follows up on discussions about cooperating on common points,” based on agreement reached during the Tuesday multifaceted talks, IRNA reported.

Jalili and EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton opened the comprehensive talks between Iran and the P5+1 member states - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany - in Geneva on Monday after Western powers expressed willingness to return to the negotiating table.

The two sides ended the third round of the multifaceted talks in Geneva on Tuesday and agreed to hold the next round of talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul late January.

Jalili also reiterated that the rights of the Iranian nation are non-negotiable and that talks cannot continue “under the shadow of pressure.”

The Iranian official also stated that during the recent talks “we communicated our views and said that Europe is paying heavily for some of the wrong policies that they have adopted, based on their miscalculations.”

Meanwhile, Monday's talks focused on last week's terrorist attacks in the Iranian capital of Tehran targeting two Iranian nuclear scientists.

Jalili lashed out at the West's silence over the attacks, which left one Iranian scientist dead and another injured.

On November 29 unknown terrorists assassinated Iranian academic Majid Shahriari by a bomb attached to his car as he was on his way to Shahid Beheshti University, where he was a professor.

Shahriari's wife, who was accompanying him at the time of the attack, narrowly escaped death with injuries.

In a similar attack on another lecturer the same day, the terrorists attached a bomb to the vehicle of Professor Fereydoun Abbasi, another academic with the University of Shahid Beheshti. Abbasi and his wife, who was riding with him in the car, managed to escape the incident with minor injuries, as he was reportedly alarmed when the bomb was attached to his automobile.

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Iran Calls for Formation of 6+1 Group
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proposed the formation of a new group dubbed 6+1 to expand nuclear cooperation between Iran and the six major powers (P5+1.)

"Under the current circumstances, Iran and the P5+1 [Russia, China, Britain, France and the US plus Germany] are ready to produce nuclear material, exchange nuclear cooperation and resolve problems in the world to set up a new body called the 6+1 Group," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in a meeting with university students in the central province of Markazi on Wednesday.

He insisted on the rights of the Iranian nation and said, "Iran will never compromise on the rights of its nation to nuclear fuel cycle, 20-percent uranium enrichment and construction of power plants."

"The West had better cooperate with Iran on the nuclear issue," he added.

He noted that it is necessary to build 20 nuclear power plants inside Iran to meet domestic needs and said, "The Islamic Republic is ready for cooperation so that they [Western countries] can build the power plants in Iran."

"Otherwise, the Iranian youth will construct all these atomic power plants needed in the country in the near future," the Iranian chief executive added.

Ahmadinejad stressed that Iran has a transparent stance on international developments and stated that Tehran would never violate the rights of nations.

He reiterated that Iran would never tolerate war, aggression, occupation and disrespect towards other nations.

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No Progress Evident in Iran Nuclear Talks
Paul Richter
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

A long-awaited meeting with Iran on its disputed nuclear program ended without visible progress on Tuesday, dealing a stinging setback to the Obama administration's strategy built on patient diplomacy and tough economic sanctions.

U.S. and European officials had portrayed the two days of meetings as a test of whether the Islamic Republic would consider limits on an atomic research program that many nations fear is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran agreed to meet again next month in Istanbul, Turkey, but showed no interest in curbing its nuclear research — and it rebuffed a U.S. invitation to a formal bilateral meeting with American officials.

After what one senior diplomat, characterizing the talks Monday and Tuesday, called "very difficult discussions," Tehran's chief delegate, Saeed Jalili, announced that Iran wouldn't even discuss halting uranium enrichment at the upcoming Istanbul gathering.

The Geneva meetings appeared to have yielded less than the last time Iran and the six involved world powers met, in October 2009, when Iran and the other participants worked out an agreement that would have limited Tehran's access to its enriched uranium in exchange for help with fuel for a medical reactor. That deal fell apart within weeks.

Washington's current approach to Iran calls for outreach combined with tough economic sanctions.

But Tuesday's outcome has cast doubt on two premises of the administration's strategy: that economic sanctions can pressure Iran to curb the program and that the U.S. and its allies can persuade the Iranians through diplomacy to bargain away their nuclear card, said Ray Takeyh, a former administration advisor on Iran now with the Council on Foreign Relations.

The administration's strategy "has met a test, and thus far it hasn't distinguished itself," Takeyh said.

The lack of results in Geneva is also likely to bring new pressure on the Obama administration from those — including lawmakers from both parties — who worry that its "strategic patience" may not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

The six nations negotiating with Iran — China, Russia, the U.S., France, Germany and Britain — have been trying to resurrect talks with Tehran since they were broken off 14 months ago. They would like to persuade Iran to begin phased talks aimed at offering Tehran economic and diplomatic benefits in return for concessions on the nuclear program.

The United Nations Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran in June. In July, the U.S., the European Union and other American allies imposed additional sanctions.

Diplomats said the two sides spent most of their time this week in Geneva talking about the nuclear issue, even though some Iranian officials had said in advance that they wouldn't discuss it. But Western officials were unable to persuade the Iranians to commit themselves to an agenda in Istanbul centered on the nuclear program, diplomats said, and some officials added that they were worried Iran was just seeking delays.

But Western diplomats also claimed some headway, noting that there were earlier concerns that Iran might not come to Geneva at all, or would focus only on other issues, such as Tehran's complaints about Israel's nuclear program.

"All in all, I would say this is a start," a senior Obama administration official said. "We never expected to be able to judge progress based on this one meeting."

For Iran, the meetings were a success in a number of ways. Iranian officials drew attention to their complaints, including their accusations that the West or Israel was behind the slaying of an Iranian nuclear scientist last week, and the wounding of a second scientist. Iranian officials also publicized their insistence that they would not agree to curbs on their nuclear program — a view that is popular in Iran.

Mark Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. nonproliferation official now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, defended the administration's efforts, saying any engagement with the Iranians would have to begin slowly.

But he added that the administration can't afford to have the diplomacy last too long because Iran is likely to have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon within a little more than a year.

"They'd better get cracking," he said.

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UAE Wants UN to Lift Sanctions Against Iran
Gulf Times
(for personal use only)

The UAE foreign minister said yesterday the Gulf country wants the UN to lift its sanctions against Iran, but the Islamic Republic has to co-operate with the international community in quashing mistrust over its nuclear programme.

“We want the Security Council to go back and end the sanctions on Iran, but we want Iran to help in this as well,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said earlier yesterday world powers should lift sanctions against Tehran if they want the latest nuclear talks in Geneva to succeed. Talks in Geneva started on Monday between Iran and representatives of the U.K., China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.

The UN passed its latest round of sanctions on Iran last June in relation to a nuclear programme which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes. The UAE, a major trading partner with the Islamic Republic and also a strong ally of the US, has had to balance respecting the UN’s financial penalties against its centuries-old commercial ties with Iran.

“We’ve also been talking to the Iranians that if there are any issues that are creating any mistrust...these issues have to be resolved quickly and in a transparent manner,” Sheikh Abdullah said at a closing press conference at the annual GCC summit in Abu Dhabi.

“Diplomacy is the way forward.”

US intelligence leaked through WikiLeaks appeared to disclose a stronger concern by Gulf Arab leaders over a potentially nuclear-armed Iran than Gulf states have traditionally expressed publicly.

GCC Secretary General HE Abdulrahman al-Attiyah said at the same press conference yesterday the documents “created a kind of misunderstanding” and “cannot be taken seriously.”

In a statement after their two-day meeting in Abu Dhabi, the six members of the GCC said they viewed developments in the Iranian nuclear issue with “extreme worry” and called on the country to abide by international law, but they also denounced the use of force against Iran.

Sheikh Abdullah said the countries of the Gulf region had always upheld Iran’s right to a peaceful nuclear programme. “If it’s willing to come clean to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), it will be a much more important and effective member of the region,” he said.

Already in a common market, the GCC also agreed to take down some further trade barriers. Companies from any GCC state can now open branches in other member states and enjoy equal treatment.

The leaders recommended adopting a serious strategy on water to be endorsed by the GCC Supreme Council and to be added to the priorities of diversification of energy sources and food security.

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Iran Terms Geneva Talks 'Constructive'
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Iran's first and second rounds of talks with the P5+1 in Geneva have been positive and constructive, Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Abolfazl Zohrevand says.

The two rounds of intensive talks were “positive and progressive” and that all delegates of the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the US, plus Germany -- agreed on that, Zohrevand told IRNA late on Monday.

The Iranian official added that the focus of the third round of talks scheduled for Tuesday will be on the framework of future negotiations.

Iran and the major global powers resumed talks on Monday after a lull of more than a year and agreed to continue negotiations over nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful nuclear cooperation.

Zohrevand also emphasized that a key point underlined by Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili during the Monday talks was that Iran's nuclear rights are non-negotiable.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton is heading the 5+1 in the multifaceted talks in Geneva.

Dialogue between Iran and the P5+1 was stalled in October 1, 2009, after the Vienna Group attempted to pressure Iran to ship most of its low-enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for reactor fuel from potential suppliers such as Russia and France.

In a letter to Ashton in October, Jalili welcomed the offer to resume talks but emphasized that the time and venue of the proposed talks must be convenient for all sides. Eventually, on the last day of November, Iran agreed on Geneva as the venue of the comprehensive talks with the P5+1.

However, Iran announced that it will negotiate the issue of a nuclear fuel swap with the Vienna Group -- France, Russia, the US, and the International Atomic Energy Agency -- only within the framework outlined in the Tehran Declaration, jointly issued by Iran, Brazil and Turkey last May.

The Tehran Declaration provides for an Iranian nuclear fuel swap in Turkey, where Iran would send its low-enriched uranium for a guaranteed exchange of higher-enriched fuel required by the Tehran research reactor that produces radio isotopes for Iran's cancer patients.

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China Will Help with 'Problems' Like North Korea: US
Michael Langan
(for personal use only)

The United States downplayed differences with China and voiced optimism that Beijing's cooperation in time would help limit North Korea's "provocative" military acts.

"China has a critical role to play" in tamping down skyrocketing tensions on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of what Washington has described as belligerent behavior by Pyongyang, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said.

After North Korea's deadly shelling of a South Korean island last month, President Barack Obama phoned his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao this week to encourage China to rein in its unpredictable ally Pyongyang.

Trilateral talks in Washington on Monday brought together the United States, Japan and South Korea -- but not China, even though the others said Beijing was key to pressuring the North.

"It appears to be the flavor of the week, if you were to read the newspapers... that somehow the US-Chinese relationship is experiencing a serious downturn or freeze, or whatever the expressions are," Steinberg said in a speech at the Center for American Progress.

"We believe in the interest of both the United States and China... to work together to achieve solutions to the world's most vexing problems."Steinberg said in a speech at the Center for American Progress.

The State Department later announced that Steinberg will lead a delegation to China December 14-17, where he will discuss "regional security issues, including recent developments on the Korean Peninsula."

North Korea shelled a South Korean border island on November 23, killing two marines and two civilians days after revealing a new uranium enrichment plant that sparked anger in Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.

China is North Korea's only major ally and the impoverished country's economic and political lifeline.

A Washington Post report Tuesday indicated a change of tack by the Obama administration in its approach to China, suggesting the White House was losing patience with Beijing.

But Steinberg stepped back from the tense talk about China and sought to put a less distressed face on the latest potentially dangerous developments involving North Korea.

"We welcome the rise of a successful, strong and prosperous China that plays a greater role in global affairs," he said, adding that tensions on the Korean Peninsula underscored the need for greater cooperation.

"We want to work with China to address this challenge," he stressed, and cited "important successes" in the past that have demonstrated the two powers were able to work effectively together.

He also blamed North Korea's current behavior, not China's actions or inaction, for greater strains currently in northeast Asia.

Steinberg said Pyongyang needed "a strong message of the necessity of the North Koreans to exercise restraint -- that's what is creating the instability and the fragility.

"There does not seem to be effective restraints on North Korea engaging in these provocations," he said. "And we have to take steps to make clear that the danger comes from this kind of provocative behavior."

John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a speech that "China has a fundamental responsibility to its neighbors and to the rest of the world... not to turn a blind eye to North Korea's provocations.

"No other country has as much influence over North Korea as China does. And it has to use that influence" to inform North Korea "its behavior is unacceptable," Kerry stressed.

Steinberg also reiterated the US position that any renewed talks with North Korea would need to be preceded by some "concrete steps" by Pyongyang.

"We need a clear indication from North Korea" that it is respecting its commitments," he said.

On the hot-button human rights issue, Steinberg stressed: "this is an important subject matter between our two countries."

"We hope that China will take positive steps on human rights including the release of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo," Steinberg said.

In Oslo, the Nobel Institute said that 19 countries will shun Friday's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo for the jailed Chinese dissident after Chinese pressure for a global boycott.

But in Beijing, China slammed the Nobel committee ahead of the prize ceremony, calling its members "clowns" and saying most of the world backed China.

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China Slams 'Irresponsible' US Report on North Korea
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China on Tuesday slammed a report that the United States has accused Beijing of "enabling" North Korea to start a uranium enrichment programme and to launch attacks on the South as "irresponsible".

The Washington Post reported late Sunday, citing an unnamed senior US official, that China had encouraged the hardline regime in Pyongyang to "behave with impunity".

"We feel the accusation is irresponsible," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters. "China's efforts (to maintain peace and stability) have been witnessed by all."

North Korea shelled a South Korean border island on November 23, killing two marines and two civilians, and then it revealed a uranium enrichment programme that alarmed US scientists.

China is North Korea's only major ally, and the impoverished country's economic and political lifeline.

The Washington Post report indicated a change of tack by the administration of US President Barack Obama in its approach to China, suggesting the White House was quickly losing patience with Beijing.

"The Chinese embrace of North Korea in the last eight months has served to convince North Korea that China has its back and has encouraged it to behave with impunity," the paper quoted a senior administration official as saying.

"We think the Chinese have been enabling North Korea."

In the wake of the shelling, Beijing called for emergency talks among the envoys to stalled six-nation negotiations on North Korean denuclearisation, which involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

But Washington, Seoul and Tokyo baulked, instead holding their own three-way meeting in the US capital on Monday, at which they called on Beijing to help rein in its wayward ally.

"We appreciate Beijing's initiative to propose an emergency six-party gathering. However, we first need an appropriate basis for the resumption of talks," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan added: "We would like China to have a more clear stance in giving warning to North Korea and to contain these provocative actions by North Korea."

When asked for China's response to being excluded from the talks in Washington, the foreign ministry spokeswoman again called on its regional partners to agree to wider negotiations.

"The responsibility for safeguarding peace and stability should be shouldered by all parties in the region. We call on all parties to positively respond to our proposal for talks," Jiang said.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

India, France Ink 2 Pacts on Nuclear Safety
The Hindu
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Besides the five agreements in the nuclear field that were announced on December 6 by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) during the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, two more agreements between India and France were signed here on the same date in the area of nuclear safety. For some reason, these were not included in MEA's announcement.

The first is an agreement between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). This is for exchange of technical information and cooperation in regulation of nuclear safety and radiation protection. It was signed by AERB Chairman S. S. Bajaj, and ASN Chairman Andre Claude Lacoste.

According to AERB Secretary R. Bhattacharya, the accord provides for exchange of information in the development of nuclear plant safety review process. It also provides for exchange of experts and technical and regulatory information relating to radiation protection and safety of nuclear facilities.

“This agreement renews and updates the existing arrangement, which is in force since 1999 and subsequently renewed in 2005,” says an AERB release issued on Wednesday.

The second agreement is on technical cooperation between the AERB and the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). Called the AERB-IRSN Framework Agreement for general cooperation in nuclear safety, it was signed by Mr. Bajaj and Jacqus Repussard, Director General of IRSN.

The agreement covers areas such as exchange or secondment of staff, exchange of materials or software, joint studies and joint projects in the area of nuclear safety.

Interesting addition

An IRSN press release, issued on Wednesday from Paris, however, has an interesting addition. “By signing this agreement,” it said, “both organisations are illustrating their resolve to enhance cooperation in this massively important field, particularly within the context of the forthcoming construction of two EPR nuclear reactors at the Jaitapur site.”

While the implication of this statement is not very clear, Mr. Bhattacharya said there was no particular reference to Jaitapur in the actual agreement.

However, since the AERB would be involved in the technology assessment and review of the European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs), this agreement provided for general exchange of information on the EPR technology in the development of the review process by AERB, he said.

IRSN is the technical support organisation for the ASN just as the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) is for the AERB. This agreement basically extends to the AERB the earlier scientific and technical cooperation that was in existence for over 10 years between the IRSN and the BARC.

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START Treaty: Obama Confident New Nuclear Pact with Russia Will Pass Senate Muster
Jim Kuhnhenn
The Christian Science Monitor
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Pushing a top foreign policy priority, President Barack Obama expressed confidence Wednesday the Senate would quickly ratify a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms pact that secured a major endorsement — former President George H.W. Bush.

The president also reiterated his insistence that Congress approve a tax deal he negotiated with Republicans, urging lawmakers to examine the details of the compromise and "get this done."

Obama drew specific attention Wednesday to Polish support for the treaty after meeting with Poland's president, Bronislaw Komorowski, in the White House Oval Office.

The treaty, known as New START, has been a central piece of Obama's agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress. Ratification has bogged down as Republicans have sought assurances that the remaining U.S. arsenal would continue to be modernized.

Obama, noting he has discussed the pending treaty with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, said: "I am confident that we are going to be able to get the START treaty on the floor, debate and completed before we break for the holidays."

Later, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "I think if they voted on it right now it would pass."

Bush — who signed the original START treaty with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1993 — added his support Wednesday with a brief statement: "I urge the United States Senate to ratify the START treaty."

Komorowski, seated at Obama's side, said New START ratification would be an investment in a better and safer future.

"We are not able to fully reset and delete 1,000 years of uneasy history with Russians, but we do not want to be an obstacle," Komorowski said, speaking through a translator. "We want to be a help in the process of resetting the relations between the Western world with Russia."

Komorowski's visit to the U.S. comes two days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Poland as part of an effort between the two neighbors to increase political, economic and cultural contacts.

Some Republicans, most prominently Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, had expressed worries that the nuclear treaty would cause unease among allies in Eastern Europe. Obama said he emphasized U.S. determination to "stand by Poland in its defense and its security needs."

Obama said international allies, including Poland, and "basically the entire national security apparatus of previous Democratic and Republican administrations" have come out in support of the treaty — all of which, he says, gives him confidence the Senate will ratify the deal.

The treaty would cut the limits on strategic warheads to 1,550 for the United States and Russia from the current ceiling of 2,200. The pact also would establish new procedures to allow both countries to inspect each other's nuclear arsenals to verify compliance.

In recent days, a number of Republicans have voiced support for the agreement, increasing its chances of ratification. Republicans, however, have also insisted that they would not take up any other issue until Congress completes action on the tax plan and on a a broad spending measure to continue paying for government operations.

The tax plan is facing vigorous Democratic opposition in Congress. Obama forcefully rejected suggestions he had abandoned his allies to cut an agreement with the GOP.

"I think it is inaccurate to characterize Democrats, writ large, as quote-unquote betrayed."

He said economists predict higher job growth in 2011 and 2012 if Congress passes the agreement. It would extend expiring Bush-era tax rates to all taxpayers for two years. The deal avoids a tax increase next year. It also includes a 13-month extension of jobless benefits and a one-year cut in payroll taxes.

He urged lawmakers to "examine the agreement, look at the facts, have a thorough debate, but get this done. The American people are watching."

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Russia, U.S. to Increase Nuclear Cooperation - Rosatom Chief
RIA Novosti
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Russia may boost nuclear cooperation with the United States, the head of the Rosatom state-controlled nuclear corporation, Sergei Kiriyenko, said on Tuesday after talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rosatom signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy on transferring Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel.

"One of the issues on which we can cooperate with the United States is new reactor technology, including fast-neutron reactors, high-temperature reactors as well as low energy reactors, and maybe even mobile ones," Kiriyenko said.

Kiriyenko said there was great demand on medium-energy reactors in developing countries and the Russian-U.S. nuclear project would be able to meet it.

Russia and the United States can create joint nuclear products in the future, the Rosatom chief said.

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D.  Nuclear Security

Study on Nuke Safety Planned
Philippine Information Group
(for personal use only)

A study on safety standards for nuclear energy will begin next year, the Department of Energy (DoE) said yesterday.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras told reporters the department is awaiting terms of reference for the study from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"We're going to start the safety standard study for nuclear energy [next year]. The DoE will be the lead agency for this, but we will be working with other agencies and with the ASEAN," he said.

He added the department will hire foreign consultants for the study and has been provided P100 million for this thrust under its proposed budget for next year.

The proposed 2011 national budget, now being discussed in a bicameral conference committee, is expected to be signed into law before yearend.

The study forms part of the Philippines' implementation of the ASEAN agreement to provide safety standards for nuclear energy.

The Philippines last July endorsed the ASEAN's Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network. The network is the body that will guide ASEAN in cooperation on civilian use of nuclear energy.

Under that framework, each ASEAN member nation will undertake its respective nuclear energy safety study.

The DoE had earlier said it has been given the mandate to study the possibility of the country developing its nuclear power generation capability.

Observers, however, have said that the country needs substantial investment in preparations for this energy option, since it still has to develop a sufficient number of experts with advanced studies in this field.

"Nuclear is shifting to smaller, package-sized facilities. You're really looking at 10 years down the line. It's going to take a while. We're not saying we're going there; we're saying we need to understand the new technology," said Almendras.

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Nuclear Warheads Ready for Missile Test
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The man who designed Russia's new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile said Tuesday nuclear warheads have been completed for another test.

Yury Solomonov told interviewers the nuclear payload will be ready for four Bulava test launches in December, the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The Bulava missile will be launched from the nuclear-powered submarine Yury Dolgoruky in the second half of the month, Solomonov said.

Russia's military expects the Bulava, along with the Topol-M land-based missiles, to become the core of the country's nuclear triad.

The Bulava SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of more than 5,000 miles.

A Bulava missile was successfully test-fired in late October in the White Sea.

It was the second successful firing in a month following several failures that officials blamed on manufacturing faults.

The Russian navy plans to deploy Bulava on the new Project 955 Borei class submarines.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Prime Minister Urged to Look at Nuclear Energy Future
Christian Kerr
The Australian
(for personal use only)

Australia should consider nuclear power as part of its climate change strategy, a European expert says.

Katherine Richardson, the visiting head of the Danish Committee for Climate Change Policy, the equivalent of the Gillard government's multi-party Committee on Climate Change, sees nuclear energy as part of the transition to a low-emissions economy.

A push by a group of government backbenchers for discussion of nuclear energy was rebuffed by the Prime Minister last week.

But Professor Richardson says nuclear power is "a question Australia ought to look at very, very closely".

She said the failure of international negotiations means countries need to develop their own solutions for tackling climate change.

She believes nations must consider their future energy security as well as the environment when making policy.

Her committee has suggested slowly increasing taxes on fossil fuels rather than introducing a carbon tax, pointing out that as supplies of oil and coal run low and become harder to obtain, prices will rise anyway.

"If you have a tax on carbon emissions it is the same thing as a tax on fossil fuels," she said, "but if carbon capture and storage comes on line and is economically viable then having a tax on emissions isn't going to move you away from fossil fuels.

"If your goal is to become independent of fossil fuels its important that you use economic mechanisms to get people to chose other forms of energy."

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Kudankulam Nuclear Reactor to be Operational by Early Next Year
The Economic Times
(for personal use only)

Construction of India's first large nuclear power plant has been completed at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and it will be made operational by early next year, a top Russian official has said.

Russia's state-run nuclear firm Atomstroyexport, which is carrying out the project with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), said the main equipment at the 1,000 mw capacity reactor has already been installed and currently various tests are being conducted to make it operational.

"The project is ready as on today. The main equipment has been tested and is in operation. The plant should go critical early next year," said Georgy O Kumani, vice president of Atomstroyexport.

He, however, said the date for operationalisation of the plant will be decided by NPCIL.

Currently, reactors in Tarapur atomic plant have highest capacity with each of the two reactors having a power production capacity of 540 mw.

Kumani said there is "no unsolved problems" in the unit which can create "stumbling blocks" for its early operationalisation. The work on the project had begun three years back.

The second unit of Kudankulam power plant is expected to be made operational within a year of commissioning of unit-1.

The then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev had signed an agreement for the project in 1988 but it remained in limbo for 10 years due to political and economic upheaval in Soviet Union and its breakup in 1991.

The negotiations were held again in 2000 and MoU for the project was signed between India and Russia.

Asked about key features of the nuclear power plant, Kumani said the "best safety features" have been incorporated in the plant.

"This is a first kind of unit, probably in the whole world, having best safety features. As for example a technology called passive heat removing system has been installed in the unit for the first time in any nuclear power plant in the world," he said.

Kumani said considering the huge potential in the nuclear sector in India, Atomstroyexport has decided to set up a production unit to manufacture equipment required in construction of atomic power plants.

Cooperation between India and Russia in the nuclear field will increase further as India is our long-standing partner, he said.

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Saudi Seen Generating Power From Nuclear in 10 Years
(for personal use only)

Saudi Arabia is serious about developing civil nuclear energy within 10 years, which creates good opportunities for U.S. companies, a U.S. government official said.

"They seem to be very committed to having civil nuclear as part of what generates energy for them and to do it relatively quickly, like within the next 10 years," U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez told reporters late on Monday.

Fast-growing power demand is forcing the world's largest oil exporter to look at all sources of energy. The kingdom will need 40 gigawatts (GW) of base load power by 2030, which could be met by nuclear plants, a government official said in October.

Sanchez spoke after meeting officials at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, along with a U.S. business delegation including firms active in civil nuclear energy such as The Shaw Group Inc (SHAW.N).

The Gulf Arab kingdom has unveiled plans to develop nuclear energy to meet rising power demand, but no concrete progress has surfaced yet.

Demand for electricity in the desert country is rising at an annual rate of 8 percent and is expected to triple to 121,000 megawatts by 2032.

Sanchez said he saw "wonderful opportunities" for U.S. companies active in civil nuclear energy, despite Saudi Arabia's talks with other countries such as France and Russia on signing potential nuclear agreements.

"The Saudis know that Americans bring very, very good technology, and I think this is especially true in the civil nuclear space," he said.

"We have more operating nuclear reactors than any other country in the world ... and I think the Saudis want to pick from the very best technology."

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South Korea Plans to Spend $39 Billion on New Nuclear, Coal and Gas Plants
Shinhye Kang
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South Korea may spend 44 trillion won ($39 billion) building nuclear, gas and coal-fired power plants by 2024 to meet rising energy demand and replace old facilities.

The country may construct 14 more nuclear reactors, 13 coal-fired plants and 19 that use liquefied natural gas by 2024, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. The proposal is a part of a government power supply-and-demand plan that outlines investment for the next 15 years. The plan will be finalized by the end of this year.

South Korea, which imports almost all its oil, has been trying to cut reliance on crude and diversify energy sources after oil prices in New York climbed to a record $147.27 a barrel in 2008. The proposal is based on estimates that electricity consumption in the Asia’s fourth-largest economy will increase an average 1.9 percent annually through 2024.

Nuclear plants will provide 48.5 percent of power generation by 2024, up from an expected 32.7 percent next year, according to the ministry. The country will reduce reliance on oil-fired plants to 0.5 percent from 4 percent.

Under the proposal, renewable-energy sources may account for 8.9 percent of power generation, up from 1.8 percent, as the government is boosting investment in solar and wind power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing use of nuclear power and renewable energy will slow annual natural gas demand growth to 1.8 percent by 2024 from 5.6 percent between 2002 and 2009 and 17.3 percent between 1987 and 2002, state-run Korea Gas Corp. said in a separate report.

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F.  Links of Interest

Chu Urges Congress to Look to Nuclear Power
Frederic J. Frommer
Business Week
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Iran Agrees to 2011 Talks in Turkey
Associated Press
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