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Nuclear News - 2/18/2010
PGS Nuclear News, February 18, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. 'West Must Accept Iran is 'Master of Enrichment': Envoy, PressTV (2/18/2010)
    2. Iran Refuses to Stop Enrichment in Return for Isotopes, AFP (2/17/2010)
    3. Amano to Present First Report on Iran's Nuclear Program in Days, Fars News Agency (2/17/2010)
    4. Iran Reacts to France, Russia, US Letter, PressTV (2/17/2010)
    5. Russia Delays Missile Delivery to Iran, Alexander Osipovich, AFP (2/17/2010)
    6. Iran Supreme Leader Lashes Out at Clinton 'Lies', Siavosh Ghazi, AFP (2/17/2010)
    7. Ahmadinejad Says Iran to Install Advanced Centrifuges, PressTV (2/16/2010)
    8. Iran to Continue Enrichment While Mulling Swap Offers, PressTV (2/16/2010)
    1. North Korea to Possess 14-18 Nuclear Warheads by 2019, Jung Sung-ki, The Korea Times (2/17/2010)
    2. UN Envoy Says DPRK Willing to Rejoin Six-Party Talks if Certain Issues Resolved, Xinhua News Agency (2/17/2010)
    3. U.S. Has No Immediate Plan to Invite North Korean Envoy for Talks: State Dept., Hwang Doo-hyong, Yonhap News Agency (2/17/2010)
    4. North Korean Nuclear Talks to Resume Soon: Seoul Minister, Tony Chang, Yonhap News Agency (2/17/2010)
C.  U.S.-Russia
    1. US, Russia Near 'Finish Line' on Nuclear Disarm Deal, Jim Mannion, AFP (2/17/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Rudd Rules Out Introducing Nuclear Power in Australia, Ben Sharples and Stuart Biggs, Bloomberg (2/18/2010)
    2. Russian Delegation to Discuss Turkey Nuclear Power Plant Plan, RIA Novosti (2/18/2010)
    3. India’s First Pair of 700 MW Nuke Plants to Be Ready by 2016, The Hindu (2/18/2010)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Netanyahu Says World Inching Closer to Israel's Position on Iran, Nir Hasson and Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz (2/18/2010)
    2. Sweden Considers Higher Penalties for Nuclear Reactor Accidents, Earth Times (2/18/2010)
    3. Deputy Secretary Poneman's Remarks at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit, Daniel Poneman, U.S. Department of Energy (2/17/2010)
    4. Hearing In Paris Delayed For Accused Iranian Nuclear Equipment Exporter, Tom Ramstack, All Headline News (2/17/2010)

A.  Iran

'West Must Accept Iran is 'Master of Enrichment': Envoy
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Iran's ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog insists that Tehran will not bow to the West's pressure on Tehran's abandoning of its enrichment activities.

"Iran will never give up enrichment at any price. Even the threat of military attack will not stop us," said Ali-Asghar Soltanieh in an interview with the New Statesman, a British current affairs magazine published Wednesday.

The Iranian ambassador reiterated that the West had to accept that Iran was a "master of enrichment."

"The West just has to cope with a strong Iran, a country with thousands of years of civilization that is now the master of enrichment. I know it is hard for them to digest, but it is the reality."

The US has been leading efforts to push Iran to accept a deal that demands Tehran to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing for the research reactor, which runs on 20-percent enriched uranium and produces medical isotopes for cancer patients.

Iran has called for "concrete" guarantees that the fuel would eventually be returned to the country, but such demand has been shrugged off by the West, particularly the US, insisting that the deal would remain intact.

Iran announced on February 9 that it had started enriching uranium to the level of less than 20 percent to meet the country's fuel requirements for a research reactor in Tehran, after the potential suppliers failed to provide the fuel under the UN deal.

Two days later, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad formally declared that Iran had successfully produced the first stock of the 20-percent enriched uranium, a declaration which was met with cynicism in the West.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with al-Arabiyya television aired on Wednesday that the US was seeking the “strongest” possible UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions on Iran over its nuclear work.

"We want to try to get the strongest sanctions we can out of the United Nations Security Council ... mostly to influence their (the Iranians') decision-making," the former first lady said.

The Iranian envoy, however, rejected such rhetoric emphasizing that the language of threats demonstrates a "colonialist mentality." He said that threatening Iran with more sanctions or a military action would further complicate the issue.

"By threatening Iran with the Security Council, with sanctions, with military action, you are just making life more difficult for yourself. It doesn't work."

US-led calls for more sanctions against Iran have mainly received a chilly welcome by China, a veto-wielding member of the UNSC, which insists that diplomacy can work.

Iran says it is still open to talks with the West over a nuclear fuel swap provided that its conditions and concerns are valued.

Tehran has, however, maintained that a fuel swap with Western countries does not require Iran to relinquish other means of acquiring the fuel, including the enrichment of uranium domestically.

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Amano to Present First Report on Iran's Nuclear Program in Days
Fars News Agency
(for personal use only)

New Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano is slated to present his first report on the latest developments in Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA Board of Governors this week.

Amano is most likely to give out his report on the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguard agreements and UN Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran tomorrow or Friday.

The IAEA Board of Governors' seasonal meeting is slated to be held on March 1-5, and the Director General's informal reports are conventionally issued 2 weeks earlier.

Amano took office as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on December 1, replacing Mohammad ElBaradei, who has been heading the IAEA for the last 12 years.

Amano won the IAEA secret ballot as chief of the UN nuclear watchdog on July 3 with 23 supporters out of 35 members of the Board of Governors.

He also received 11 no votes and one abstention. His rival from South Africa Abdul Samad Minty received 12 votes.

The 62-year-old Japanese, a graduate of the Tokyo University Faculty of Law, joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry in April 1972.

Amano has held increasingly senior positions in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, notably as Director of the Science Division, Director of the Nuclear Energy Division and Deputy Director General for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs.

He was appointed Director-General for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs in August 2002 and Director-General of the Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Science Department in August 2004.

He represented Japan as a Governmental Expert on the UN Panel on Missiles in April 2001 and in the UN Expert Group on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education in July 2001.

In 2005-2006, Amano was the Chair of the Board of Governors for the IAEA.

He also served in Japan's embassies in Hanoi, Washington and Brussels.

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Iran Reacts to France, Russia, US Letter
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Iran says any proposal offered by the West that would include the shutdown of the Tehran research reactor would be out of the question.

“We will not consider any proposal that would lead to the closure of Tehran's research reactor,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday.

Mehmanparast said it was totally unreasonable to expect Tehran to close down its own facilities and import medicine and nuclear-related technology.

He added that Iran would only give thought to proposals that are based on "interaction and cooperation."

The spokesman's remarks came in response to a letter by Russia, France and the US to the UN nuclear watchdog, which suggested that Iran close down its Tehran's research reactors and obtain its much-needed medical isotopes from the world market instead.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Press TV, read that if Iran does not wish to accept a UN-opposed nuclear fuel swap deal, "We note that these (radioisotopes) are available in the market and could be obtained as a reasonable, timely and cost effective alternative to the IAEA's proposal."

The three partners said in their letter that they "recognize Iran's need for assurance that the project would be fully implemented."

However, they went on to count a number of provisions incorporated into the existing draft that, according to the three parties, provides the necessary assurances regarding their "collective commitment" to fulfill the IAEA proposal.

The US has been leading efforts to push Iran to accept a deal that demands Tehran to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing for the research reactor, which runs on 20 percent-enriched uranium and produces medical isotopes for cancer patients.

Iran has called for "concrete" guarantees that the fuel would eventually reach the country's soil but the demand has been shrugged off by the West, particularly the US, which has reiterated the deal would remain intact.

Buying fuel from the international market as an alternative source was not mentioned in the initial IAEA-backed proposal but France on Tuesday denied that the letter was presenting a new alternative to Iran.

French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bernard Valero said that the letter was merely reminding Iran of the global community's objectives, IRNA reported.

Iran announced on February 9 that it had started enriching uranium to the level of less than 20 percent to meet the country's demand after potential suppliers failed to provide the required fuel.

Two days after that, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran had successfully produced the first stock of the 20 percent-enriched uranium, a declaration which was met with cynicism in the West.

Iran says it is still open to talks with the West provided that its "conditions" and "concerns" are valued.

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Iran Refuses to Stop Enrichment in Return for Isotopes
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Iran will not suspend its sensitive high level enrichment in return for radioisotopes as offered in a letter by three world powers to the UN atomic watchdog, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"It is not at all rational to say that Iran should not produce (isotopes and uranium) and stop its (enrichment) plant and that they will provide its needed medicine," ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told ISNA news agency.

"We will not examine offers which lead to the shutting down of Tehran reactor," said the spokesman, in an almost word-for-word repetition of a statement he made on February 10.

Iran started enriching uranium to 20 percent on February 9 to fuel its Tehran research reactor making medical radioisotopes amid international concern over its atomic ambitions.

The move comes as world powers seek to convince Iran to accept a UN-brokered deal to supply Tehran with nuclear fuel for the reactor in exchange for its low-enriched uranium being taken out of the country.

The United States, Russia and France on Tuesday said in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran's escalation of its uranium enrichment further undermined international trust in its nuclear drive.

The three said they "recognise the need in Iran for medical radioisotopes" which are "available on the world market and could be obtained as a responsible, timely and cost effective alternative to the IAEA's proposal."

Amid the threat of new sanctions President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that negotiations over the IAEA-drafted nuclear fuel exchange were "not closed yet."

He expressed readiness to buy the material from abroad, even from Iran's arch-foe the United States.

Echoing the president's comments, Mehmanparast said that Iran would "examine the issue of buying 20 percent enriched uranium or even an exchange (of uranium) under conditions desired by our country."

"But in the absence of mutually-agreed proposals, we are losing time, the reactor fuel is running out and 850,000 patients await its medical products," the spokesman said.

Ahmadinejad indicated Tehran could suspend higher grade enrichment if world powers supplied it the required fuel for the reactor.

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Iran Supreme Leader Lashes Out at Clinton 'Lies'
Siavosh Ghazi
(for personal use only)

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying she had spread "lies" against the Islamic republic during a tour of the Gulf.

"Those who have turned the Persian Gulf into an arms depot in order to milk regional countries for money have now dispatched their official to go around the Persian Gulf and spread lies against Iran," Khamenei said, referring to Clinton at a meeting with visitors from the northwestern city of Tabriz.

Khamenei said recent moves by Washington officials were "suicidal" for the United States, state television reported.

Clinton on Tuesday wrapped up a visit to the Gulf during which she drummed up support for new round of UN sanctions against Tehran for pressing ahead with its sensitive uranium enrichment programme in defiance of repeated Security Council ultimatums.

During her trip, Clinton said that Iran was moving towards a "military dictatorship" and that there was no "evidence" to support Tehran's claim that its nuclear programme was entirely peaceful.

Clinton's tour of Qatar and Saudi Arabia aimed to isolate Iran from its Arab neighbours and to put pressure on Tehran's ally Beijing to drop its resistance to UN sanctions targeting mainly Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Last week, Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, which Washington and other world powers say adds to evidence it is seeking a nuclear weapon.

Tehran denies the charge, insisting its goal is peaceful nuclear energy and research.

On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad adopted a twin-track approach warning world powers against imposing sanctions but suggesting that Iran could suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.

"If anybody seeks to create problems for Iran, our response will not be like before. Something in response will be done which will make them (the world powers) regret" their move, Ahmadinejad told a Tehran news conference.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran could suspend enriching uranium to 20 percent if world powers supply it with the fuel required for a Tehran medical research reactor.

"We are not insisting on doing this (20 percent enrichment) although we have the capability. If they supplied the (uranium enriched to) 20 percent, the situation may change," he said, when asked if Iran would stop the controversial enrichment started on February 9.

Iran and world powers are deadlocked over a UN-drafted deal which aims to ship out Tehran's low-enriched uranium abroad for refinement by France and Russia to 20 percent purity and return as fuel for the Tehran reactor.

Iran insists the exchange of uranium must be simultaneous and carried out on its own soil. Western governments are strongly opposed to the demand.

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Russia Delays Missile Delivery to Iran
Alexander Osipovich
(for personal use only)

Moscow has delayed the delivery of advanced air defence missiles to Iran, Russian officials said Wednesday, in the latest sign of strained ties between Moscow and Tehran.

The announcement of the delay in the controversial contract to sell S-300 missiles to Iran came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow in a bid to add new pressure on Iran.

"The delay is due to technical problems. The delivery will be carried out when they are resolved," Alexander Fomin, deputy head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, told Interfax news agency.

Fomin, whose service oversees Russian arms exports, made the comments while attending a defence exhibition in New Delhi. He did not clarify what the problems were or how long it would take to fix them.

The engineer in charge of building the S-300s said there were nothing wrong with the missiles and called the delay a political decision.

"There are no technical problems with the S-300 systems. This is a political issue," Vladimir Kasparyants, head constructor of air defence systems at Almaz-Antey, the company that builds the S-300, told Interfax.

Russia's S-300 contract with Iran has raised hackles in the United States and Israel, which believe that Tehran could use the missiles to defend its nuclear facilities against attack.

Western powers suspect that Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb under the guise of its civilian nuclear energy programme, although Tehran says the programme is peaceful in nature.

Neither the United States nor Israel have ruled out air strikes in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Analysts say that S-300s could greatly complicate such air strikes.

Russia has shown growing impatience with Iran as tensions have mounted in the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, after years in which the two countries enjoyed friendly ties.

On Tuesday, Russia joined the United States and France in criticising a new push by Iran to step up uranium enrichment, and Moscow said it could not exclude a new round of sanctions against Iran.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met Tuesday with Netanyahu, the prime minister of Iran's arch-foe Israel.

Netanyahu came to Moscow seeking to win the Kremlin's support for "biting sanctions" against Iran, and he has also been outspoken in his criticism of Russia's S-300 sale to the Islamic Republic.

Russia has been secretive about the missile contract, but Interfax has reported that it calls for Moscow to sell Tehran five batteries of S-300PMU1 missiles for 800 million dollars (530 million euros).

The S-300PMU1 -- codenamed the SA-20 Gargoyle by NATO -- is a mobile system designed to shoot down aircraft and cruise missiles.

Iran has expressed frustration with the delay in the missile delivery, and last week a top Iranian military commander said Tehran would build its own air defence missiles that would be even better than the S-300s.

Separately, Iran announced on Wednesday that it had arrested two Russian nationals last week on the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic revolution and that one of them would face charges.

One of the Russians "was arrested for illegal entry into the country and referred to the judiciary" while the other was released, Tehran's prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolarabadi told ISNA news agency.

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Ahmadinejad Says Iran to Install Advanced Centrifuges
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Amid a White House campaign to drum up support for new anti-Iran sanctions, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned on Tuesday that world powers would "regret" any moves against the country.

"If anybody seeks to create problems for Iran, our response will not be like before," Ahmadinejad told a press conference in the capital city of Tehran.

"Something will be done in response that will make them [the world powers] regret [their action]," he said. "However, we prefer they steer towards cooperation [with Iran]."

The remarks came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was wrapping up her visit to the Middle East, where she stopped in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to seek the backing of the Arab world's heavyweights against Tehran's nuclear drive.

Iran says its nuclear program is directed at the civilian applications of the technology and has called for the removal of all weapons of mass destruction around the globe.

The West, however, accuses the country of seeking military means in its pursuit. The United States has spearheaded efforts to slap new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, after the country announced the production of the first batch of 20-percent enriched uranium to make fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

At the conference, President Ahmadinejad said negotiations over a nuclear fuel deal with France, Russia and the US were not over. He said Iran still welcomed a deal that would see a "simultaneous" swap.

"The proposal for the fuel exchange is not closed yet. We have announced that we will exchange within a just framework," he said. "We are ready for an exchange even with the United States. The US can come and give us their 20 percent fuel and we will pay them if they want, or we can give them 3.5 percent fuel."

"But the swap should take place simultaneously and we will put our fuel under the supervision of the [UN nuclear] agency in Iran."

Iran is currently under three rounds of UNSC sanctions resolutions, which call on the country to abandon its enrichment work. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), however, Iran is entitled to continue its drive for civilian purposes.

President Ahmadinejad boasted that Iran has adapted to the sanctions, which, he said, have put the country on a path of constant progress.

President Obama, Guantanamo Bay Prison and 'Change'

Ahmadinejad said his American counterpart should seek a practical method to implement change, and should carry out his promise of shutting down the Guantanamo prison.

"President Obama came to power with the promise of hope," Ahmadinejad told a press conference in Tehran. "[He promised] to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay in one year, where anything that happens is against all human rights."

"People were kidnapped and snatched and are being kept without lawyers and judges and are being tortured," the Iranian president said. "We do not know who they are, but this behavior is against human rights."

US Vice President Joe Biden said in remarks aired Sunday that 11 of the suspects held at the prison would be tried, some eight years after the detention center was set up.

The Bush administration argued that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions, after the Justice Department said the prison, located in Cuba, could be considered outside US legal jurisdiction.

In January 2009, President Barack Obama signed an order to shut down the facility within the year.

However, the administration has faced increasing trouble in finding new homes for the detainees with many US allies refusing to admit them on their soil.

On the issue of Iraq, Ahmadinejad said President Obama is pressing Baghdad to allow Baath — the political party of former dictator Saddam Hussein — back into the country's political system.

He said the move runs counter to the US intentions of invading Iraq in 2003, which was aimed at toppling the Baath regime.

Ahmadinejad also advised the Obama administration to find a practical way to implement the promise of change.

On February 11, the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, President Ahmadinejad touched on the subject and warned his American counterpart that he is "missing opportunities" to do what the American people want.

Iran's nuclear drive: Advanced centrifuges

Referring to a new milestone in Iran's progress in nuclear science, Ahmadinejad said the country has tested a new generation of centrifuges that are capable of enriching uranium more than five times the output capacity of the standard P1's.

"We are in the final stages of testing a new generation of centrifuges that will increase fivefold our capacity to enrich uranium," he noted.

If the tests prove to be a success, he said, the new centrifuges will be installed and used in Iranian power plants in near future. "It goes without saying that we need new centrifuges to provide fuel for our nuclear installations."

Regarding the government's recent steps to domestically generate higher enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad said that the country would continue its efforts to fully meet the many requirements of its people.

"We have already started enriching uranium up to 20 percent and have managed to complete production of our first stock," he said. "Soon the whole world will be able to see that we [intend to use] this stock in our medical-research reactor in Tehran."

The Tehran research reactor produces medical isotopes.

On Western concerns about the nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said we publicize any activity that we carry out, or intend to do. "We cannot announce every thing that we don't do."

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Iran to Continue Enrichment While Mulling Swap Offers
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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has reiterated that Iran will follow through with its nuclear enrichment operations while considering fuel exchange offers by other countries.

Referring to a recent letter to the UN nuclear watchdog by the US, France and Russia on Iran's nuclear activities, Mottaki told reporters Tuesday, "The three countries have written a new letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which has been misinterpreted as a new proposal."

"Iran studies all feedbacks by different sides that are presented to the IAEA directly or indirectly. However, Iran will continue its domestic nuclear activities," he added.

The Iranian minister underlined that the country has the right to produce the fuel it needs for the Tehran research reactor while it continues negotiations for a potential nuclear fuel swap deal.

The Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi said Monday that the body has received proposals from the United States, Russia and France on a nuclear fuel swap.

"After Iran's decision to domestically produce 20-percent-enriched uranium, we received offers from Russia, America and France," Salehi said.

"We are currently studying them along with other proposals from different countries," he added.

Last week, Iran began enriching uranium to the level of less than 20 percent for a nuclear research reactor in Tehran which is running out of fuel.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last Thursday that Iran had produced the first batch of the enriched uranium.

However, France, Russia and the US denied reports on Monday that they presented new proposals on a nuclear fuel exchange to the IAEA.

"There is no new proposal on the table," said White House spokesman Mike Hammer.

"Mr. Salehi ought to know the only offer is the one which was proposed by the IAEA in October, and which has so far not received a satisfactory response," said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.

However, the "satisfactory response" that the French official has referred to has already been clearly rejected by Iran over the lack of any guarantees to the Islamic Republic on the timely delivery of the enriched fuel that the Tehran research reactor requires.

Under the original proposal put forward by the UN nuclear agency, Iran was to ship out the bulk of its enriched uranium stockpile to Russia and France, and receive the fuel back months later.

Meanwhile, the US, which has pushed for new UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran, has offered to help Iran obtain medical isotopes — which are being produced in the research reactor.

US State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said Wednesday that the White House hopes the offer would help to "build some confidence" with Tehran.

The offer, however, was deemed as 'illogical' by Iran, since it would inevitably lead to the shut-down of the Tehran research reactor.

Iran has repeatedly announced that it remains open to talks on a fuel swap with the West. However, Tehran insists that its conditions, mainly revolving around guarantee issues, must be taken into consideration if the West is interested in engaging in a fuel exchange deal with Iran.

Iran needs 120 kilograms (264 pounds) of 20 percent-enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran research reactor.

If the fuel for the Tehran research reactor completely runs out, there will be dire consequences for thousands of Iranians who depend on its radioisotope production for medical treatment.

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North Korea to Possess 14-18 Nuclear Warheads by 2019
Jung Sung-ki
The Korea Times
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A U.S. scholar said Tuesday that North Korea could produce up to 14 to 18 nuclear warheads by 2019 if multilateral talks on its denuclearization fail.

In a report, titled "Four Scenarios for a Nuclear North Korea," Joel Wit, a visiting fellow at the U.S. Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, said that North Korea's "current nuclear stockpile is believed to consist of sufficient plutonium to build four to eight weapons."

"By using existing stocks of fresh fuel, North Korea could produce a bomb's worth of plutonium each year from 2011 to 2013," he was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

Wit continued: "If North Korea is able to refurbish its fuel fabrication plant, that production rate could continue indefinitely with its arsenal reaching 14 to 18 weapons by 2019."

North Korea reportedly possesses several nuclear warheads, with some analysts saying it has already developed the technology to mount them on long-range missiles.

The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) reported in December that the North's military could accelerate efforts to deploy a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and mass produce warheads.

The report said Pyongyang would likely conduct a third nuclear test this year in an effort to be recognized by the international community as a nuclear state.

"Compared to the first test held in October 2006, the second (conducted on May 25, 2008) was evaluated to yield 4 kilotons of explosive power, five times more than the first one," it said. "This means North Korea has secured a substantial capability to make nuclear weapons."

Pyongyang has recently said it is ready to rejoin the six-party talks, which it has boycotted since early last year over U.N. sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests.

Its chief nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, will visit the United States next month as a follow-up to a trip to North Korea by Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, in December to discuss the resumption of the six-party talks.

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North Korean Nuclear Talks to Resume Soon: Seoul Minister
Tony Chang
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

Multilateral talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs are expected resume soon, Seoul's top diplomat said Wednesday, citing recent high-level meetings and exchanges between North Korea and China.

"I can't specify a date but (the six-party talks) will open in the near future," Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told members of the parliament's foreign affairs committee at the National Assembly.

The six-party talks, which group the divided Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have not been held since late 2008 because of a North Korean boycott. The North, however, has recently taken conciliatory gestures toward its rivals and signaled a willingness to rejoin the six-party aid-for-denuclearization talks.

Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of the Communist Party of China, visited Pyongyang last week to help resume the six-party nuclear talks. North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, also recently traveled to Beijing, raising speculation about the resumption of the stalled nuclear talks.

"It is a fact that there are movements (towards reaching a deal to reopen the talks) considering various circumstances," Yu said, citing the recent high-level exchanges between China and North Korea.

"I have no doubt on the talks' resumption as it is in line with North Korea's own interest," the minister said.

North Korea's nuclear negotiator is expected to visit the U.S. next month following a trip to Pyongyang in December by Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special envoy on North Korean affairs.

North Korea says that talks aimed at replacing the 1950-53 Korean War truce with a peace treaty should be launched and U.N. sanctions must be lifted if it is to rejoin the stalled six-party dialogue.

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U.S. Has No Immediate Plan to Invite North Korean Envoy for Talks: State Dept.
Hwang Doo-hyong
Yonhap News Agency
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The United States said Wednesday it has no plans to invite North Korea's chief nuclear envoy for another meeting to revive the stalled six-party talks on the North's denuclearization.

"I don't have anything to announce on that, not at this time," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

Reports said that Kim Kye-gwan will soon visit the U.S. to meet with U.S. officials on the sidelines of an academic seminar.

A diplomatic source here said that discussions are under way regarding Kim's visit to the U.S. for a seminar, but added, "No decision has been made yet on that."

The North Korean envoy last week visited Beijing to discuss the reopening of the six-party talks and a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea recently said it was ready to return to the six-nation forum, which it has boycotted since early last year over U.N. sanctions imposed after its nuclear and missile tests. But Pyongyang has also insisted on the lifting of sanctions before it returns to the talks.

A U.S. visit by Kim has been expected since the tour of North Korea by Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, in December to discuss the reopening of the nuclear negotiations.

Kim's Beijing trip followed the visit to Pyongyang by Wang Jiarui, head of the international liaison department of the Chinese Communist Party. Wang met early this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in the fifth such meeting for the Chinese official since 2004.

While meeting with Wang, the North Korean leader reaffirmed his nation's commitment to denuclearization, but also used language to underscore the North's demand for a peace treaty and the removal of sanctions as preconditions.

Washington has said it is open to those steps, but only after the North returns to the talks, which also involve South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

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UN Envoy Says DPRK Willing to Rejoin Six-Party Talks if Certain Issues Resolved
Xinhua News Agency
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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is willing to rejoin the stalled six-party nuclear negotiations if certain issues were resolved, UN political chief Lynn Pascoe said here Tuesday.

The DPRK has called for a lifting of sanctions and peace talks formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War before it returns to the nuclear talks, which also involve South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, said the UN official.

"The devil is in the details," Pascoe told reporters at the UN headquarters. But he declined to discuss the details, saying that the United Nations is only a "messenger" and not a member of the six-party talks.

The DPRK is willing to engage with the United Nations, said Pascoe, who returned Friday from his first trip to the DPRK.

During his visit to the DPRK, Pascoe met with President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong Nam and Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun to discuss a range of issues, including the nuclear issue, six-party talks, and UN-DPRK cooperation.

Pascoe told DPRK officials that international talks on denuclearization must be resumed "without preconditions or delay."

"Throughout, the discussions were friendly but frank," he said."I didn't try to soft pedal anything."

Pascoe, as special envoy of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also delivered a verbal message from Ban, as well as a leather-bound copy of the UN Charter to the DPRK, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters last Thursday.

The gift "was a leather-bound copy of the United Nations Charter in all six official languages," he said, referring to Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish -- the six official languages of the world body.

Pascoe, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, was the first high-level UN official to visit the DPRK since 2004.The move represented a renewed UN effort to engage the DPRK on humanitarian and other issues.

Pascoe's four-day visit was meant to open a high-level conduit for dialogue between the UN and the DPRK.

"We succeeded in doing that," Pascoe said. "There are plans to have further engagement in the next few months."

The UN has 39 staff members in the DPRK from agencies like the World Food Program, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the UNChildren's Fund, the UN Population Fund, and the UN Development Program.

The DPRK receives lower Official Development Assistance (ODA) per capita, roughly two to four U.S. dollars, from the UN comparedto 15 dollars for those living in Myanmar or Zimbabwe, said Pascoe.

"They definitely need the help," he said.

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C.  U.S.-Russia

US, Russia Near 'Finish Line' on Nuclear Disarm Deal
Jim Mannion
(for personal use only)

The United States and Russia are within sight of a new deal to slash their nuclear arsenals but certain "principles and elements" have yet to settled, a top US official said Wednesday.

"We are at the end game -- we see the finish line -- of negotiations in the START follow-on treaty," US undersecretary of state for arms control Ellen Tauscher told a conference on nuclear deterrence in Washington.

"There are principles and elements that are still yet to be finished in these negotiations. But I am confident that the teams are working hard and the finish line is within sight."

Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, who addressed the conference after Tauscher, said he agreed with "almost each and every word" that she had said about the state of the negotiations in Geneva.

"Mind you, the closer you come to the endgame the bigger each and every small detail becomes," he added.

The upbeat assessments were echoed in Moscow by the head of the Russian armed forces, General Nikolay Makarov.

"The accord is 97-percent finalized by the parties. Some technical issues remain which will be resolved very soon," Makarov said, according to Russian news agencies.

Negotiations on a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired December 5, have dragged on for months despite periodic reports that the two sides were near agreement.

The White House denied last week that differences with Russia on US missile defense plans in Europe were the reason for the delay.

But Kislyak said US missile defense plans for Europe were a source of uncertainty for Russia despite a more "reassuring" stance taken by President Barack Obama, who shelved plans for a radar and long-range missile interceptors.

"Now we are working on the issue of reducing nuclear weapons in an environment where the United States is introducing anti-ballistic capabilities," the ambassador said.

Citing reports from Bulgaria and the Czech Republic of new missile defense sites there, he said "we are not sure we fully understand how things are working out."

"We are not sure that the story we are hearing is the story that is going to develop within the timespan of the would-be treaty -- that is ten years," he said.

Tauscher said the latest US plan for phased deployments of medium and short-range interceptor missiles over the next decade in Europe was aimed at stopping missiles coming out of the Middle East, not Russia.

"We've not made an offer to Bulgaria about hosting any element of the phased adaptive approach," Tauscher said.

The plan calls for deployment of sea-based SM-3 interceptor missiles on ships in the Mediterranean next year, ground-based SM-3 interceptor missiles in Romania in 2015, and ground-based SM-3 interceptor missiles in Poland in 2018. Upgraded missiles would be deployed in 2020.

The broad outlines of a new treaty on nuclear weapons have been clear since a summit in July, when President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed to slash the number of warheads on either side to between 1,500 and 1,675.

The presidents also agreed that the number of carriers capable of delivering the warheads should be limited to between 500 and 1,100.

The United States has said it currently has some 2,200 nuclear warheads, while Russia is believed to have about 3,000.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

India’s First Pair of 700 MW Nuke Plants to Be Ready by 2016
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

India’s first set of indigenous 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, would be a reality in the next six years, as the excavation work at Kakrapar in Gujarat has already begun, NPCIL chairman and managing director S.K. Jain said.

The Centre had last October given a financial sanction of Rs 24,000 crore for four units of 700 MW of PHWRs, two each at Kakrapar and Rawatbhata in Rajashtan, he said.

“We will begin the first ‘pour of concrete’ next month in Kakrapar and in Rajasthan power project site for reactor raft, and wish to finish the construction of the plants within five years from that day,” Mr. Jain said at the 22nd annual Heavy Water Day here on Wednesday.

“Since the Centre has given financial sanction for these four, we will be completing the procurement order of all components by September this year,” he said.

Mr. Jain said the NPCIL is also initiating pre-project activities at the sites recently approved (in principle) by the Centre — Hissar in Haryana and Burgi in Madhya Pradesh where four more 700 MW (two at each site) are expected to come up.

“Our aim is to complete the pre-project activities within one to one and a half years,” he said.

When asked about the performance of the 220 MW plants, he said the plant load factors have increased to 60 per cent and “we expect 25 per cent more by the end of this year at least in Rajasthan nuclear island which is currently using imported Uranium fuel from France and Russia.”

On the techno-commercial negotiations with Russia and France for setting two more power plants in Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu and two at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Mr. Jain said a number of rounds of talks have already taken place and “we are confident that we will reach some agreement for the plant approval soon.”

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Rudd Rules Out Introducing Nuclear Power in Australia
Ben Sharples and Stuart Biggs
(for personal use only)

Australia, which holds the world’s biggest known uranium resources, has ruled out introducing nuclear power to the country and instead will pursue other low- carbon energy options, including ‘clean’ coal.

“Australia has multiple other energy sources and we will not be heading in the direction of civil nuclear power,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in Canberra today. Coal’s importance will remain “huge” until 2050 and carbon capture and storage can make it a cleaner power source, he said.

Rudd made the remarks after U.S. President Barack Obama announced federal aid to help license the nation’s first nuclear plant in three decades as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and dependence on fossil fuels. Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, will explore technologies including CCS, in which the nation leads the world, Rudd said.

CCS, which seeks to capture harmful emissions from coal- fired power plants and store them underground, may create a “time bomb” for future generations, said John Hepburn, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace Australia.

“There are concerns over whether it will actually stay underground, basically forever,” he said. “You may have to transport the carbon dioxide a long way to a suitable storage site, and there are risks associated with that.”

Australia has proposed cutting emissions by 5 percent by 2020. That target may rise to as much as 25 percent if a global climate protection agreement can be reached. Talks in Copenhagen last year failed to produce a legally binding treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

‘Coal-Intensive Economy’

To meet its climate goals, Australia shouldn’t rely on either nuclear power or fossil fuels, Hepburn said. Instead the country should aggressively conserve energy and use more renewable power. The country gets about 80 percent of its power from coal, the World Nuclear Association said on its Web site.

“Australia has probably the most coal-intensive economy on the planet,” Hepburn said. “The fossil fuel industry, and the coal industry in particular, have a large amount of political influence as a result.”

The country’s exports of power-station coal may be A$10.8 billion ($9.7 billion) in the year ending June 30, 2010, Canberra-based Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said in December. Volumes are expected to rise by 3 percent on the previous year due to higher mine output and expansion at Newcastle Port.

The U.S. government yesterday conditionally committed $8.3 billion to help Southern Co. and its partners build atomic reactors in Georgia. The Atlanta-based company will be the first to get federal aid under a five-year-old law aimed in part at helping add nuclear stations, which usually cost more and take longer to build than coal or natural-gas-fired generators.

No new nuclear plants have been licensed in the U.S. since the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

Australia is the world’s third-largest uranium producer, according to estimates from the World Nuclear Association.

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Russian Delegation to Discuss Turkey Nuclear Power Plant Plan
RIA Novosti
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A Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin will pay a two-day visit to Istanbul on Thursday to discuss the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant and other energy projects.

The two countries signed a joint statement on plans to build a nuclear power plant on Turkish soil during Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Moscow in mid-January.

Erdogan said his country was completing preparations for the signing of a formal agreement on the construction of a nuclear power plant on its territory. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia had "significant advantages over other competitors" in the deal.

The Haber Turk daily said the sides would discuss joint projects worth over $30 billion in total during the talks in Istanbul, including the construction of the South Stream and Blue Stream natural gas pipelines, as well as the Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline.
With bilateral trade reaching from $33.8 billion to $38 billion, according to various estimates, Russia is Turkey's largest trade partner. The two states are expected to treble the figure in the next five years.

Turkey is Russia's second largest hydrocarbon importer and fifth largest trade partner.

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E.  Links of Interest

Netanyahu Says World Inching Closer to Israel's Position on Iran
Nir Hasson and Cnaan Liphshiz
(for personal use only)

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Sweden Considers Higher Penalties for Nuclear Reactor Accidents
Earth Times
(for personal use only),sweden-considers-higher-penal..

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Deputy Secretary Poneman's Remarks at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit
Daniel Poneman
U.S. Department of Energy
(for personal use only)

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Hearing In Paris Delayed For Accused Iranian Nuclear Equipment Exporter
Tom Ramstack
All Headline News
(for personal use only)

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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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