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Nuclear News - 2/11/2010
PGS Nuclear News, February 11, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski


A.  Iran
    1. Iran Proclaims New Success In Uranium Enrichment, CBS News (2/11/2010)
    2. U.S. Ready to Offer Iran Alternative to Nuclear Plan, Jill Dougherty, CNN (2/10/2010)
    3. Obama Turns Up the Heat on Iran, AFP (2/10/2010)
    4. U.S. Sanctions Target Iran Guard Corps, UPI (2/10/2010)
    5. Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Plan Causes Doubts About Its Sincerity-Moscow, Itar-Tass News Agency (2/9/2010)
    6. Brazil Cautions on Sanctions Against Iran, Reuters (2/9/2010)
B.  DPRK
    1. UN Envoy Meets With North Korea's No. 2 Official, Hyung-Jin Kim, ABC News (2/11/2010)
    2. Thailand Drops Case Against Air Crew with North Korea Arms, AFP (2/11/2010)
    3. UN Envoy in North Korea to Spur Nuke Talks, Hyung-Jin Kim, The Guardian (2/10/2010)
C.  India
    1. Australian Minister Rules Out Uranium Export to India, Afshan Subohi, Dawn (2/11/2010)
    2. India Will Test 5,000-KM-Range Nuclear-Capable Missile, AFP (2/10/2010)
D.  Pakistan
    1. Pakistan is My Biggest Worry: Biden, AFP (2/11/2010)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. IAEA Ready to Assist Belarus in Nuclear Infrastructure Development, Belarusian Telegraph Agency (2/9/2010)
    2. Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine to Discuss Nuclear Safety, Kyiv Post (2/9/2010)
F.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Nuclear Power Best Choice to Preserve Environment, Samia Badih, Gulf News (2/11/2010)
    2. Italy Approves Decree on Nuclear Sites Selection, Reuters (2/10/2010)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. How Dangerous is Iran's Uranium Enrichment Plan?, Mark Heinrich, The Star (2/10/2010)
    2. Utah to Consider Second Radioactive Waste Dump, Brock Vergakis, Associated Press (2/9/2010)
    3. Nuclear Incident Involved British Columbia Territory, Keremeos Review (2/9/2010)



A.  Iran

1.
Iran Proclaims New Success In Uranium Enrichment
CBS News
2/11/2010
(for personal use only)


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Thursday that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program a day after the U.S. imposed new sanctions.
Ahmadinejad reiterated to hundreds of thousands of cheering Iranians on the anniversary of the 1979 foundation of the Islamic republic that the country was now a "nuclear state," an announcement he's made before. He insisted that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons.

It was not clear how much enriched material had actually been produced just two days after the process was announced to have started.

David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said that any 20-percent enriched uranium produced just a few days after the start of the process would be "a tiny amount."

The United States and some of its allies accuse Tehran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear weapons but Tehran denies the charge, saying the program is just geared toward generating electricity.

"I want to announce with a loud voice here that the first package of 20 percent fuel was produced and provided to the scientists," he said.

Enriching uranium produces fuel for a nuclear power plants but can also be used to create material for atomic weapons if enriched further to 90 percent or more.

"We have the capability to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent but we don't enrich (to this level) because we don't need it," he said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Iran announced Tuesday it was beginning the process of enriching its uranium stockpile to a higher level. The international community reacted by discussing the imposition of new U.N. sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury Department went ahead on Wednesday and froze the assets in U.S. jurisdictions of a Revolutionary Guard general and four subsidiaries of a construction firm he runs for their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.

Tehran has said it wants to further enrich the uranium - which is still substantially below the 90 percent plus level used in the fissile core of nuclear warheads - as a part of a plan to fuel its research reactor that provides medical isotopes to hundreds of thousands of Iranians undergoing cancer treatment.

But the West says Tehran is not capable of turning the material into the fuel rods needed by the reactor. Instead it fears that Iran wants to enrich the uranium to make nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad restated Iran's position that it was not seeking to build nuclear weapons.

"When we say we do not manufacture the bomb, we mean it, and we do not believe in manufacturing a bomb," he told the crowd. "If we wanted to manufacture a bomb, we would announce it."

"We told them the Iranian nation will never give in to bullying and illogical remarks," Ahmadinejad added.

Western powers blame Tehran for rejecting an internationally endorsed plan to defuse the situation by having Iran export its low enriched uranium for enrichment abroad and returned as fuel rods for the Tehran reactor.

Iran, in turn, asserts it had no choice but to start enriching to higher levels because its suggested changes to the international plan were rejected.

The president said Iran will triple the production of its low-enriched uranium in the future but didn't elaborate.

"God willing, daily production (of low enriched uranium) will be tripled," he said.

A confidential document from the U.N. nuclear agency shared Wednesday with The Associated Press said Iran's initial effort at higher enrichment is modest, using only a small amount of feedstock and a fraction of its capacities.

Available at:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/11/ap/middleeast/main6196816.shtml


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2.
Obama Turns Up the Heat on Iran
AFP
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)


US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday that he would isolate the Islamic republic with a "significant regime of sanctions" if it continued to set its stall on developing nuclear weapons.

Stepping up the heat on Iran's leaders at an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama said the six key world powers were "moving along fairly quickly" to toughen measures against Tehran.

He indicated that his administration had made headway in persuading Russia to overcome its traditional resistance to imposing new sanctions on Iran, even if there was still some opposition from China.

"It's moving along fairly quickly," Obama said, referring to negotiations on what to do next involving six leading world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

Iran announced on Tuesday it has begun work to enrich uranium to 20 percent, which it says is for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

The move suggested Iran was spurning a four-month-old proposal by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to ship most of its stocks of 3.5-percent enriched uranium abroad so that it can be further upgraded to fuel the reactor.

Experts say that once Iran enriches uranium to 20 percent, it can proceed to the 93 percent needed to produce nuclear weapons since the technology is the same. Iran maintains the enrichment is purely for civilian energy purposes.

"Despite the posturing that the nuclear power is only for civilian use... they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponization, and that is not acceptable to the international community," Obama said.

After months trying to engage Iranian leaders and persuade them to accept the UN-brokered deal to defuse the crisis, Obama said the world must be prepared to pressure Iran to change course, even if the "door is still open" to negotiations.

"What we are going to be working on over the next several weeks is developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to them how isolated they are from the international community as a whole," Obama said.

In Moscow, the powerful head of Russia's national security council, Nikolai Patrushev, said Tehran's announcement that it had started work to produce 20 percent enriched uranium cast doubt on its claims not to be pursuing weapons.

Patrushev indicated the Kremlin's patience in trying to seek dialogue with Tehran was wearing thin.

"Political and diplomatic methods are important for regulating, but everything has its limit," Patrushev was quoted as saying by Russian state news agencies.

His comments were an unusual expression of concern from Moscow, which has long said there was no evidence that Iran was pursuing anything other than a civilian nuclear energy program.

China was alone among the six powers in calling for more talks to resolve the impasse.

"We hope the relevant parties will exchange views on the draft deal on the Tehran research reactor and reach common ground at an early date which will help solve the issue," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister of Turkey, a country with good ties with both Iran and the West, is to visit Iran next week to push for a diplomatic solution to the stand-off.

Washington has called the latest Iranian moves "provocative" and along with France is pressing ahead with moves at the UN Security Council for a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates "thinks this is a matter of weeks, not months," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters in Paris, where Gates met French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the Iranian decision to further enrich uranium "puts us in a much stronger position" to move ahead with plans to "pressure" the Iranian government rather than its people.

US officials have discussed sanctions targeted at Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which is responsible for the country's nuclear program and is behind the crackdown on anti-government protests there.

"Iran is increasingly isolated," Crowley told reporters in Washington.

The loudest call for sanctions came from Israel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for "crippling" measures against Tehran during a gathering of European Union ambassadors in Jerusalem.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jA10BAAARcLt0x3P3aSsaXl5D1NA


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3.
U.S. Ready to Offer Iran Alternative to Nuclear Plan
Jill Dougherty
CNN
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)


In what appears to be an attempt to call Iran's bluff on its nuclear program, the United States is poised to offer Tehran a way to obtain medical isotopes that Iran says it desperately needs to treat cancer patients, according to the State Department.

The United States, along with "other countries," will present a new proposal to the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide Iran with those isotopes, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday.

"Our point is, if Iran feels it has a specific need, we are willing to engage constructively and try to identify ways in which the international community and potentially the United States can meet that need," Crowley said.

The move appeared to be a response to Iran's announcement Monday that it will carry out its own uranium enrichment to 20 percent to provide fuel to make the isotopes. The United States, along with other countries, questioned Iran's motives for that enrichment, saying it increases Iran's ability to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Crowley told reporters that under the new proposal, the international community would "facilitate Iran's procurement of medical isotopes from third countries."

"There are alternatives," Crowley said. "The Iranian decision to improve their processing to 20 percent is an unnecessary step." Providing the opportunity to buy the isotopes directly, Crowley said, would be the "fastest and cheapest" way for Iran to avoid running out of isotopes and could help "build confidence."

Iran uranium enrichment course 'not acceptable,' Obama says

Tehran separately has rejected an IAEA proposal under which it would ship most of its low-enriched uranium out of the country for further enrichment by Russia. France would process that uranium into fuel rods that would then be returned to Iran.

The new offer from the United States comes as Washington and other major countries move closer to imposing harsh new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which those countries say is designed to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

President Obama told reporters on Tuesday that the international community will try to pressure Iran more if Iran is not willing to cooperate.

"What we are going to be working on over the next several weeks is developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to them how isolated they are from the international community as a whole," Obama said.

Presenting details of the latest proposal, the State Department spokesman said, "We stand ready to work with Iran, we stand ready to address its legitimate needs, but we need to see Iran come to the table prepared to address our concerns and the concerns of the international community regarding its nuclear ambitions."

Available at:
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/09/us.iran.nuclear/


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4.
U.S. Sanctions Target Iran Guard Corps
UPI
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)


The U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday it has targeted Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for new economic sanctions.

Stuart Levey, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said one individual and four companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards have been added to a blacklist established by a White House order freezing the assets of those seen connected with Tehran's alleged efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

The move comes as a sense of urgency over Iran's uranium enrichment has been heightened by an announcement from Tehran indicating it is stepping up its nuclear program. U.S. President Barack Obama responded this week by saying additional U.S. sanctions were being considered on Iran.

Wednesday's action targets Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, and Corps Gen. Rostam Qasemi, who is also the commander of the construction headquarters, described as an engineering arm that serves to generate income for the corps.

"As the IRGC consolidates control over broad swaths of the Iranian economy, displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a select group of insiders, it is hiding behind companies like Khatam al-Anbiya and its affiliates to maintain vital ties to the outside world," Levey said.

Available at:
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/02/10/US-sanctions-target-Iran-Guard-Corps/UPI-50731265828311/


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5.
Brazil Cautions on Sanctions Against Iran
Reuters
2/9/2010
(for personal use only)


Brazil cautioned on Tuesday against a new round of U.N. sanctions in response to Iran's expanded nuclear program and urged Western powers to step up dialogue instead.

"We don't want Iran to have nuclear arms, let there be no doubt about that. They, like other countries, have the right to a peaceful (nuclear power) program," Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters in the capital Brasilia.

"We want to reach certainty (on Iran's program) through dialogue and peaceful means," Amorim said.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that a new push for international sanctions against Tehran was moving along fairly quickly and should be completed in the next few weeks.

Calls for a fourth set of United Nations sanctions against Iran surfaced after its government announced on Sunday that it would start producing 20 percent enriched uranium for a reactor making isotopes for cancer patients.

On Tuesday it announced the work had begun.

Iran says its nuclear program has peaceful purposes, but Western countries suspect the Middle Eastern nation wants the fuel to produce nuclear weapons.

Brazil has lobbied for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last November. The emerging Latin American power has said that isolating Iran could be counter-productive.

Asked on Tuesday about growing international pressure for sanctions against Iran, Amorim said sanctions tended to cause mostly suffering for the residents of the nations targeted rather than their governments.

"In the case of Iraq, I saw much suffering of the Iraqi people. Infant mortality went up enormously and I saw that (sanctions) had no real impact on Saddam Hussein," Amorim said.

Available at:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0910876520100209


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6.
Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Plan Causes Doubts About Its Sincerity-Moscow
Itar-Tass News Agency
2/9/2010
(for personal use only)


The Iranian decision to start higher-enriched uranium production makes more profound the doubts about Tehran sincerity in the nuclear program, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.

Iran announced that it would bring low enriched uranium to 20% grade.

“The Iranian decision to start higher-enriched uranium production not only disagrees with resolutions of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors but also deepens doubts about the Iranian sincere wish to lift the remaining international concerns about its nuclear program,” the diplomat said.

“Definitely, we are disappointed with the Iran step, which did not allow diplomats to agree on mutually acceptable ways of the fulfillment of the IAEA proposal of higher-enriched uranium fuel production for the Tehran research reactor outside Iran,” he said. “We are confident that further discussion of possible ways of the fulfillment of that project would have yielded results within a short time and become a major step towards the restoration of confidence in the exclusively peaceful atomic program of Iran and an appropriate atmosphere for the dialog.”

The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization officially confirmed the start of higher-enriched uranium production on Tuesday. Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi told the news agency ISNA that the works were underway to order of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the eyes of IAEA representatives.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Iran did not refuse to exchange low-enriched fuel for high-enriched one. “Like we said before, there are three options: it is possible to buy fuel abroad, to exchange [low-enriched fuel for high-enriched one] and to enrich fuel inside the country. None of these variants excludes the others. It is even possible to use all the three options simultaneously,” he said.

Available at:
http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14804262&PageNum=0


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B.  DPRK

1.
Thailand Drops Case Against Air Crew with North Korea Arms
AFP
2/11/2010
(for personal use only)


Thailand said on Thursday it had decided to drop charges against the crew of a plane carrying sanctions-busting weapons from North Korea and ordered the five men deported.

The attorney general's office said it was not in the national interest to pursue the case against the Belarussian pilot and four-member Kazakh crew and said they would instead face trial in their home countries.

"The trial here will not benefit Thailand so we have decided to drop the charges," Thanapich Mulapruk, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said in a statement.

"Their countries of origin want to try the men in their home countries."

No decision has been taken on what to do with the seized haul, which was found December 11 on a US tip-off after the crew requested to land their Ilyushin-76 plane at Thailand's domestic Don Mueang airport for refuelling.

The men, who claimed they were carrying oil drilling equipment bound for Ukraine, were initially charged with possessing illegal weapons and ammunition, smuggling weapons and other banned products and failing to report the cache.

The 35-tonne cargo, which included missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, is now being held at an air force base north of Bangkok.

"The plane landed to refuel. Those arms were not aimed at attacking Thailand so the trial does not benefit (us)," Thanapich added.

The United Nations banned all North Korean arms exports in a tougher resolution passed in June following Pyongyang's latest missile and nuclear tests.

The Bangkok case is believed to be the first airborne arms cargo from Pyongyang to have been seized since then.

A flight plan obtained by investigators showed the plane was bound for Iran -- which has denied it was the destination -- while US intelligence chief Dennis Blair has said it was headed to the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the time that the United States was "very pleased" with the seizure of the weapons and that it "demonstrates the importance of international solidarity behind the sanctions".

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Bangkok said she could not immediately comment on Thursday's developments.

Thai prison authorities handed the men over to police for fingerprinting before they were released to immigration officials for deportation, but the men's lawyer, Somsak Saithong, said that would not take place until at least Friday.

"They arrived as pilot and crew so it would not be fair to fly them out on a commercial flight. But we wait to see when they will be ready (for deportation) and when their plane will be ready," Somsak said.

Kazakhstan and Belarus both petitioned Thailand to ask for their nationals to be released for trial in their home countries.

Analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn university, said the decision to release the men was a blow to the United States.

"It will be received as another point against Thailand in the American scheme of things," said Thitinan, adding that Thailand did not want to gain enemies by proceeding with the case.

"I think the conclusion here was that the North Koreans have sparred with the Americans and there's a UN resolution on this, but why should Thailand be dragged into it?" he said.

The five men had been held at the same jail as Russian alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout, dubbed the "Merchant of Death".

He was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 while allegedly agreeing to supply missiles to Colombian rebels. The Thai government is perceived to have worked closely with Washington on that case and is appealing a court decision rejecting a US request for his extradition.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j3qpE9y3cQnUsqXBBFgwrPuFCgkA


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2.
UN Envoy Meets With North Korea's No. 2 Official
Hyung-Jin Kim
ABC News
2/11/2010
(for personal use only)


The highest-ranking U.N. diplomat to visit North Korea in years met Thursday with the communist regime's No. 2 official as part of an international push to get Pyongyang to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks.

U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe sat down with Kim Yong Nam, broadcaster APTN reported from Pyongyang. As head of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the official is second in the chain of command after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Pascoe, making a four-day trip to the North Korean capital, verbally conveyed a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Kim Jong Il, according to APTN. The message and a gift from the South Korean U.N. chief later were relayed to Kim himself, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency reported, without providing details.

As they met in Pyongyang, top nuclear negotiators from North Korea and China held talks Thursday in Beijing for a third straight day to discuss how to jump-start the six-nation talks aimed at depriving the North of its bombs program in return for aid.

North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan was in Beijing at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, and the two exchanged views on the six-party talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Thursday.

The rush of diplomacy raised hopes of a breakthrough on restarting the negotiations involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. Kim Jong Il told a high-level envoy from Beijing on Monday that Pyongyang is committed a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

North Korea walked away from the negotiations last year during a standoff over its nuclear and missile programs but has been reaching out to Washington, Seoul and Beijing in recent months.

Analysts say the about-face shows the regime is feeling the pinch from sanctions and may agree to return to the talks in exchange for aid. Impoverished North Korea relies on outside handouts to feed its 24 million people, and the food shortage is expected to be worse this year, the state-run Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul said.

Analysts say the about-face shows its government is feeling the pinch from U.N.-imposed sanctions and may agree to return to the talks in exchange for aid. Impoverished North Korea relies on outside handouts to feed its 24 million people, and the food shortage is expected to be worse this year, the state-run Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul said.

North Korea wants the sanctions eased and is seeking a peace treaty with the U.S. formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War before it returns to the disarmament talks.

The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan, meeting in Seoul, said North Korea must return to the disarmament talks and show progress on denuclearization before any discussions on a peace treaty or sanctions can be held. Washington also says Pyongyang must return to the talks before any discussions about political and economic concessions.

"We shared the view that North Korea's return to the six-party talks and substantial progress in its denuclearization must be made first," South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told reporters Thursday.

"Sanctions are having an effect" on North Korea, Kazuo Kodama, press secretary at Japan's Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Seoul. "We will pursue the avenue of dialogue and at the same time apply pressure."

Available at:
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=9803454


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3.
UN Envoy in North Korea to Spur Nuke Talks
Hyung-Jin Kim
The Guardian
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)


A senior U.N. envoy pressed ahead Wednesday with international efforts to get North Korea back into nuclear disarmament talks, during the world body's first high-level visit to the reclusive state in nearly six years.

In Beijing, top nuclear negotiators from North Korea and China were to meet again Wednesday, a day after discussing how to restart the six-nation nuclear talks aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its atomic weapons program in return for aid, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

The meeting in China was believed to have focused on the North's calls for U.N. sanctions to be lifted and a peace treaty signed with Washington formally ending the Korean War before it returns to the disarmament talks, Yonhap reported, citing unidentified diplomatic sources in Beijing.

The flurry of diplomacy heightened speculation that there could be a breakthrough to jump-start the stalled talks, which include the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

"This is a sign that the resumption of the six-party talks is imminent," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. The North's top negotiator "is expected to tell Chinese officials about North Korea's disarmament plan in a more concrete manner" — probably in return for aid from Beijing, he said.

U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe was greeted Tuesday by North Korean officials at an airport on the outskirts of Pyongyang, according to footage broadcast by APTN in the North's capital.

Pascoe said the aim of his visit was to find "ways we can cooperate better," according to the footage. "So it should be quite useful we hope."

Pascoe's trip was the first to North Korea by a high-level U.N. official since 2004, according to Seoul's Foreign Ministry. The envoy is reportedly bearing a letter from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The four-day visit came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il assured visiting top Chinese Communist Party official Wang Jiarui that Pyongyang is committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The next day, Kim sent his chief nuclear envoy to Beijing for talks.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Tuesday that the United States supported talks between North Korea and China and hoped that the contact would lead to a resumption of the nuclear disarmament talks.

He said North Korea seemed to be saying the right things recently but added: "The right words must be followed by action. Words by themselves are not sufficient."

Crowley said he expected that that tough message would be delivered by the Chinese to the North Korean negotiator.

North Korea walked away from the talks last year during a standoff over its nuclear and missile programs.

Pyongyang, however, has been reaching out to Washington, Seoul and Beijing in recent months, and has taken tentative steps toward discussing how to get the process going again. Analysts say the about-face shows the regime is feeling the pinch from sanctions taken after its May nuclear test.

The North's chronic food shortage is expected to worsen this year, following a decrease in food production over the past year due to bad weather and the suspension of South Korea's fertilizer aid, according to the state-run Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul.

The North's total grain production for 2009 was estimated at about 4.4 million tons (4 million metric tons), down 9 percent from 2008, while the country needs 5.7 million tons (5.2 million metric tons) to feed its 24 million people per year, said institute researcher Kwon Tae-jin. He said about 2 million people could be "very seriously" affected by the worsening food shortage.

He said the North could resolve the shortage by drawing outside humanitarian aid after returning to the six-party talks and improving ties with the international community.

Pyongyang cites the U.S. military presence in South Korea as its main reason for building up its nuclear weapons program. Washington says Pyongyang must come back to the talks first before any discussion about political and economic concessions.

North Korea and the U.S. would meet soon for "final coordination" to reopen the six-party talks, said analyst Paik Hak-soon of the private Sejong Institute think tank in South Korea.

The mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in Seoul reported Wednesday that Kim Kye Gwan, the top North Korean envoy, was traveling with his English interpreter and speculated he may meet his American counterpart Sung Kim in an unidentified third country after his Beijing trip.

Available at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8938704


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C.  India

1.
Australian Minister Rules Out Uranium Export to India
Afshan Subohi
Dawn
2/11/2010
(for personal use only)


The Australian government does not intend to export uranium to India, according to Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Martin Ferguson.

Explaining his government’s policy on what he described as a sensitive issue, Ferguson told a group of Pakistani journalists on Wednesday that nuclear material could be supplied only to countries which met a set of pre-determined criteria.

“The Australian government’s policy is to supply uranium to those countries that are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and with which Australia has a bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement,” he said.

Ferguson, who visited New Delhi last week, said he had signed an agreement on renewable energy with India that was aimed at ending shortages in the country.

He explained that former Australian prime minister John Howard had agreed to consider sale of uranium to India.

However, Labour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had reversed the policy after assuming office in 2008.

Ferguson said the current Australian government was committed to doing away with discrimination against trade partners in Asia and beyond.

That was just one reason why the country could be expected to play a greater role in world affairs.

“We are well-placed in the current energy dialogue with our resource base and experience in renewable energy options,” he said.

Australia is the world’s eighth largest producer of energy, with its energy sector growing at more than 4 per cent annually for the past decade.

Available at:
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/06-australian-minister-rules-out-uranium-export-to-india-120-rs-05


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2.
India Will Test 5,000-KM-Range Nuclear-Capable Missile
AFP
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)


India will test a nuclear-capable missile with a range over 5,000 kilometres (3,000 miles) within a year, the country's top military scientist said Wednesday, which could stoke regional tensions.

"The next series of missiles is Agni-V, which has left the drawing board and is moving toward the first flight trial within the year," the country's chief military scientist V.K. Saraswat told a news conference in New Delhi.

India's current longest-range nuclear-capable missile Agni-III can travel a maximum of 3,500 kilometres and Saraswat announced the system was now ready for use by the military.

"It is the full deterrence that the country needs," he said.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jmjgd74YJDE8_5YBA4z5GpfDHzww


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D.  Pakistan

1.
Pakistan is My Biggest Worry: Biden
AFP
2/11/2010
(for personal use only)


US Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that his greatest concern was not Afghanistan, not Iraq, nor the Iranian nuclear crisis, but Pakistan.

"I think it's a big country. It has nuclear weapons that are able to be deployed. It has a real significant minority of radicalized population," Biden said in an interview with CNN.

"It is not a completely functional democracy in the sense we think about it, and so that's my greatest concern."

President Barack Obama's administration has called on Pakistan to see greater urgency in the fight against extremism as the United States pours thousands more troops into Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists.

US officials have long been concerned that elements in the Pakistani establishment support extremists, despite the nation's offensives against Taliban strongholds in border areas.

They have urged Pakistan to expand its offensive against militants to North Waziristan, a stronghold for Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, known for attacking US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

But Pakistan has chosen not to target so-called Afghan Taliban or some other groups so far and analysts say Islamabad has retained ties to some Islamist militants as a hedge to protect its influence in neighboring Afghanistan.

Earlier this month US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told a senate committee that "vulnerabilities exist" in Pakistan's nuclear safeguards, without elaborating.

The next day he rowed back, trying to be reassuring by saying that the Pakistani military knew there were would be "catastrophic consequences, primarily for Pakistan," if any of its nuclear bombs fell into the wrong hands.

Available at:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jThzGbnFB0GLC5PJvEPBgqZ9Xr2Q


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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

1.
Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine to Discuss Nuclear Safety
Kyiv Post
2/9/2010
(for personal use only)


Belarus plans to hold consultations on nuclear and environmental safety with Lithuania and Ukraine soon as part of its project to build a nuclear power plant.

"In compliance with the established procedure, Belarus has forwarded reports detailing the environmental impact of this nuclear power plant to seven neighboring states. In the near future, Lithuania and Ukraine, which demonstrated their interest in this issue, will hold consultations with Belarus," Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk said in Minsk on Tuesday, addressing an IAEA workshop on the prospects of building infrastructure for the republic's atomic energy program.

Belarus has already completed an investment feasibility study and has drafted a report clarifying the effect its planned nuclear power plant will have on the environment, Mikhadyuk said.

This report was adjusted following public hearings, he said.

"After consultations with Lithuania and Ukraine, this report will be fine-tuned and submitted to a state commission for analysis," the official said.

Available at:
http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/59086/


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2.
IAEA Ready to Assist Belarus in Nuclear Infrastructure Development
Belarusian Telegraph Agency
2/9/2010
(for personal use only)


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is ready to assist Belarus in the development of a national nuclear infrastructure, said director of the Department of Nuclear Energy of the IAEA Jong Kyun Park at a workshop for senior government officials in Minsk on 9 February.

“The IAEA is ready to render assistance to Belarus in the development of infrastructure for the nuclear energy program. We will do everything possible to achieve success,” said Jong Kyun Park. Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus Mikhail Mikhadyuk, in turn, thanked the Agency for its help in the NPP construction in Belarus. “We have been working on the nuclear energy program for several years already, and we are strictly following the IAEA recommendations,” Mikhail Mikhadyuk said.

A reminder, the Energy Ministry of Belarus jointly with experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding a workshop for senior government officials and chiefs of the organizations involved in the national nuclear power development program. The event is organized as part of the IAEA technical cooperation program "Human Resource Development for Introducing and Expanding Nuclear Power Programs".

IAEA experts will make a presentation on a comprehensive approach to development of the infrastructure for the national nuclear power development program. The workshop will also highlight the development of the national nuclear infrastructure in Belarus, key aspects of management and commitments to be undertaken in connection with the development of nuclear power in the country.

Belarus is set to build a 2.4MW nuclear power plant. The first unit is scheduled to come on stream in 2016, the second one – in 2018.

Available at:
http://law.by/work/EnglPortal.nsf/0/ACA707DF560A07D5C22576C5004D99C9?OpenDocument


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F.  Nuclear Energy

1.
Nuclear Power Best Choice to Preserve Environment
Samia Badih
Gulf News
2/11/2010
(for personal use only)


As nations become conscious of the need to meet future energy demands and are looking for ways to leave a smaller carbon print, nuclear power is gradually emerging as the perfect solution.

“For big power, the most environmentally friendly is nuclear,” said Dr Robert Hawley, Chairman of Lister Petter Group and Vice- Chancellor of the World Nuclear University.

The splitting of the uranium atom releases energy without the combustion of carbon, there is no production of greenhouse gases, which is the major waste product from fossil fuel, according to the World Nuclear Association.

“In the world, there are currently 53 nuclear reactors under construction,” Hawley said.

Four of those 53 plants will be built in the UAE, an investment that will cost the government $20 billion (Dh73 billion.)

The UAE’s strategy to leverage all available resources of energy from conventional to solar and nuclear has resulted in a balanced situation, Hawley said.

“I think it’s a very good example of a balanced judgement,” he said. “They’re not just going into nuclear power for power generation which is needed, but the government is also stressing energy saving and energy efficiency.”

The fact that uranium is not scarce geologically is one of the main advantages of nuclear energy.

“There’s plenty of uran-ium in the world,” Hawley said.

“Uranium suppliers in the world like Canada, Australia and other places are stable countries and if they sign a contract they will keep it.”

Solar energy

In terms of small amounts of energy, Hawley said that solar and wind energy have great potential for the future.

One of the major solar energy initiatives taken by the UAE is Masdar City, located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Masdar City is set to be the first carbon neutral and zero waste city in the world. It also holds a 10-megawatt solar power plant, the largest in the region.

“Solar energy is being used on the top of telecommunication towers, small villages in Africa for example and many other places around the world,” he said.

Available at:
http://www.ethiopianreview.com/news/30798


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2.
Italy Approves Decree on Nuclear Sites Selection
Reuters
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)


Italy moved a step closer to reinstating nuclear energy, abandoned more than 20 years ago, after the government on Wednesday gave a final approval to a decree setting criteria to select sites for new atomic plants.

The decree will pave the way for starting work on new plants in 2013 and production of the first nuclear power in 2020, Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola, a leading supporter of Italy's nuclear renaissance, said in a statement. Italy is the only member of the Group of Eight industrialised nations without nuclear power after it was banned by a public vote in 1987 following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. Silvio Berlusconi's government aims to rebuild the sector and produce 25 percent of power from nuclear plants.

"The decree is characterised by transparency and absolute respect to security of people and environment," Scajola said.

The decree sets general criteria to pick sites for nuclear plants and fuel and waste deposits, procedures for construction and operation of plants and a system of financial compensation for areas that agree to host nuclear stations.

Once Italy sets up a nuclear safety agency and outlines its strategy, sector operators will be able to propose the sites for new plants and present their projects for authorisation, the ministry said.

Italy's biggest utility Enel (ENEI.MI) and France's nuclear giant EDF (EDF.PA) plan to build four nuclear plants in Italy.

Public opinion in Italy has been generally hostile to nuclear energy. Local authorities have a crucial say in the approval of industrial projects and several Italian regions have already said they did not want to host nuclear plants.

The government has turned to Italy's Constitutional Court to overrule laws which bar construction of nuclear power stations in the southern regions of Puglia, Campania and Basilicata, Scajola said last week.

In an effort to sweeten the nuclear pill, the decree would ensure a wide participation of regional and local authorities as well as the population in permitting procedures and monitoring of construction and work of the plants, the ministry said.

Companies building the plants will make the compensation payments to areas which agree to host them, the ministry said.

Under the decree, the companies and Italy's nuclear decommissioning company Sogin will be in charge of nuclear plants' decommissioning once their life expires and a special national deposit will be created for nuclear waste.

Available at:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLDE61910720100210


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G.  Links of Interest

1.
How Dangerous is Iran's Uranium Enrichment Plan?
Mark Heinrich
The Star
2/10/2010
(for personal use only)
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/2/10/worldupdates/2010-02-10..


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2.
Nuclear Incident Involved British Columbia Territory
Keremeos Review
2/9/2010
(for personal use only)
http://www.bclocalnews.com/okanagan_similkameen/keremeosreview/lifestyles/83..


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3.
Utah to Consider Second Radioactive Waste Dump
Brock Vergakis
Associated Press
2/9/2010
(for personal use only)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hMSdLzDAdHpYWegCkb41SXyjNZ..


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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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