Iran's ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog has described the latest IAEA report on Tehran's nuclear work as "unbalanced."
In a note to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a copy of which was obtained by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the report was neither balanced nor factual.
Soltanieh said the report did not mention Iran's "explanations" and the "correspondence" between Iran and the Agency.
The report instead went into "unnecessary" technical details that only created ambiguities over Iran's nuclear work, he said.
"Unfortunately, the [IAEA] director general's report has been prepared in such a way that the tiresome outdated issue of the alleged studies has once again been brought out as a new issue."
He added that the issue of the alleged studies, which was mentioned in the report, was "not authenticated" and did not bear any "confidentiality stamps."
"Why does the new report not reflect the critical issue that the alleged studies lack any authentication as stressed by former director general Mohamed ElBaradei?" he queried.
The current UN nuclear watchdog head, Yukiya Amano, issued a report about Iran's nuclear program on February 18.
Amano, in his first report on Iran's nuclear activities, once again verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran but called on Tehran to further discuss and cooperate on the issue of the alleged studies.
The US and its allies insist that Iran should cooperate with the IAEA over their so-called "alleged studies" of weaponization. Such studies purportedly implicate Iran in pursuing a "green salt project, high explosives testing, and a missile re-entry vehicle project."
Iran considers such documents to be forged, demanding that the IAEA provide Tehran with copies of the documents so that Iran can inform the Agency of its assessment. IAEA has so far failed to provide the documents to Iran.
Soltanieh said the allegations are an attempt to confuse the public, and are damaging the credibility of the UN agency.
Available at: http://presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=119452§ionid=351020104
2. Medvedev Urges Transparency in Iran Nuclear Work
(for personal use only)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said that transparency can resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff with the West.
"I think the way out of this situation is responsible behavior by Iran itself," AFP quoted the Russian president as saying in an interview with the French magazine Paris-Match on Thursday.
"We believe that Iran's nuclear programs should conform to the demands of international organizations like the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Organization], and also that work in this area should be transparent for oversight," Medvedev went on to say.
"So far, unfortunately, there are many problems here," he further explained.
The US and its Western allies have accused Iran of seeking to build an atomic bomb. Tehran, however, says its nuclear program is peaceful in nature.
Russia has repeatedly declared that it does not support sanctions against Iran, saying Moscow favors a diplomatic solution to the issue.
The Islamic Republic says it is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and, unlike Israel, neither believes in atomic weapons nor, as a matter of religious principle, intends to access such weapons.
Moreover, the Iranian government has repeatedly called for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction throughout the globe.
Iran's nuclear facilities and enriched uranium remain under the supervision of IAEA inspectors, as outlined in the NPT Safeguards Agreement.
The UN nuclear watchdog has carried out the highest number of inspections in Iran, compared to any other country throughout its history and has found nothing to indicate any diversion toward weaponization.
Available at: http://presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=119461§ionid=351020104
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday progress was being made in lining up further support for U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.
During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in Washington, Clinton said "tremendous progress" has been made in efforts to persuade Russia to accept further sanctions in response to Iran's ongoing nuclear development program. She also said progress has been made in convincing China further sanctions are in Beijing's interest, Voice of America reported.
Russia and China have been the most reluctant Security Council members to go along with further sanctions, VOA said.
Clinton testified Wednesday progress was being made with Russia largely because of President Barack Obama's engagement with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. She said "an arms race in the Gulf" would not be in China's interest because it would "further destabilize the major oil producers."
"And I think we've made a lot of progress," she said. "Now we don't come out and have a press conference every time we have these meetings. But I have seen over the past year the attitudes about Iran evolve."
Clinton testified the Iran sanctions issue leads her diplomatic agenda, VOA reported.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/02/24/Clinton-Progress-on-Iran-sanctions/UPI-98061267058655/
4. Iran Says Can Deal With Gasoline Sanctions-Report
(for personal use only)
Iran is prepared to deal with any sanctions on its gasoline imports that world powers might impose over the country's disputed nuclear activities, a senior oil official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Iran's hardline rulers have repeatedly shrugged off the impact of sanctions imposed on the country over its expanding nuclear work, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear programme is peaceful.
Managing director of National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company Farid Ameri said Iran had stockpiled enough gasoline, and also its refineries could produce enough motor fuel for domestic use in case of any sanctions.
"Iran's gasoline reserves have increased one billion litres since the start of the current Iranian year (which started on March 2009)," said Ameri, state television reported.
Iranian media reported in January that Iran had raised its stockpile of gasoline to 2.4 billion litres.
Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, imports 40 percent of its gasoline to meet domestic demand because it lacks refining capacity.
This makes the Islamic state vulnerable to any punitive measures by the West that targets trade. Iran has been slow in attracting foreign investment to develop its energy sector because of political instability and sanctions.
Iran has been trying to boost gasoline production by using petrochemical refineries. Iran said in November that petrochemical facilities could be used to produce about 14 million litres of gasoline per day, raising total output to 58.5 million litres.
"Our refineries are capable of producing enough gasoline to meet the domestic demand," said Ameri.
The United States and its European allies want United Nations sanctions for a wider gasoline import ban on Iran. Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognise, called on Monday for an immediate embargo on Iran's energy sector.
Western diplomats believe that China, along with fellow veto-wielder Russia, would block any U.N. sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector. Chinese state companies are selling gasoline to Iran.
Some energy experts have said fuel sanctions on Iran would raise prices but not stop supplies because the country has porous borders.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKHAF42967420100224?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=11700
Japan has offered to enrich uranium for Iran to allow it access to nuclear power while allaying international fears it might be seeking an atomic weapon, the Nikkei business daily reported Wednesday.
Tehran had not yet given a concrete response, but the issue was expected to be discussed Wednesday in Tokyo by Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, the daily said in an online report.
World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran is at loggerheads with world powers for not accepting a deal drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency that would supply it with nuclear fuel for a research reactor if it transfers the bulk of its low-enriched uranium.
Iran has so far failed to take up the IAEA offer under which Russia would enrich its uranium and France would process it, and Tehran this month said it had itself begun enriching uranium to a higher level.
The Nikkei daily, without citing sources, reported that the proposal for Japan to enrich uranium for Iran was floated in December, with US approval, when Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili visited Tokyo.
Japan, the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs, has strongly supported efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
Available at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3853864,00.html
The EU is preparing tough sanctions against Iran's energy and financial sectors, according to a confidental list of proposals drawn up for EU foreign ministers and obtained by Spiegel Online. The measures, aimed at forcing Iran to back down in the nuclear dispute, would have a dramatic impact on the economy.
The statement by the EU foreign ministers after their meeting in Brussels on Monday sounded harmless: the EU would stick to its "dual track" approach of threatening economic sanctions and offering negotiations to stop Tehran developing nuclear weapons.
So far, however, that strategy hasn't worked. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced plans on Monday to build two new uranium enrichment plants despite warnings issued by the UN Security Council, the US and Europe. "The world powers should not be worried as all our nuclear activities are strictly supervised by the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a press briefing in Tehran on Tuesday.
But such assurances don't wash with the Europeans anymore. The EU wants to massively ratchet up the pressure on Tehran -- and the instruments have already been prepared. Behind the scenes, EU finance and trade experts have worked out a confidential catalogue of possible sanctions. SPIEGEL ONLINE has obtained that catalogue, a 13-page "non-paper on political and economic context of sanctions against Iran."
Energy and Finance Sectors to be Targeted
The proposals aren't just aimed at expanding existing sanctions such as trade embargos for military and nuclear products and travel bans for Tehran's bomb builders. For the first time, the EU is envisaging a program that targets the entire Iranian economy. In order to maximize the impact, the experts are recommending measures to hit the energy and financial sectors, where the regime is particularly vulnerable, the document says.
Iran is the second-biggest oil producer in the OPEC cartel and is well endowed with gas reserves. Some 80 percent of its exports come from oil and gas. But the country can't stay in business for long without international help. It needs foreign investments for the urgently needed development of new fields as a replacement for expiring reserves. If that investment isn't forthcoming, output will fall rapidly.
And, possibly worse, the oil-rich country is largely dependent on the import of oil products such as gasoline and diesel. Without fuel imports, its transport system would quickly collapse. The regime is trying to build refineries, but it needs foreign know-how and capital for that too.
Financial Sanctions to Choke off Imports
The EU planners regard financial sanctions as even more effective, and have come up with an array of options. The EU could, for example, obstruct Tehran's access to Iranian currency reserves located abroad. And one could banish the Iranian central bank from the international circulation of money and credit. Cross-border money transfers would be made virtually impossible and Iran would have huge problems paying for imports -- that would hurt the supply of products needed for its nuclear program.
A further proposal: if Western insurance companies stop guaranteeing investments in Iran, many investors will prefer to withdraw. If Europe blocks export credit guarantees that are a routine part of interrnational trade, deliveries to Iran would be more risky or at least significantly more expensive. The EU plan also suggests limiting diplomatic and other official contacts with Iran, a move that would be primarily symbolic but significant just the same, it says.
The 27 EU members haven't decided on sanctions yet. But European governments are more determined than ever to raise the pressure on Iran, especially after the IAEA said in a report last week that Iran may now be working to develop a nuclear-armed missile.
The Europeans needs a decision by the UN Security Council as a stable legal foundation for their new sanctions. That will only happen with the support of the veto powers Russia and China. But the West also wants to secure the backing of countries such as Brazil, Turkey and the Gulf states for sanctions. That would make it harder for Iran's leadership to argue that it's being victimized by a "Western conspiracy" or the "vassals of Israel."
Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,679853,00.html
Iran has formally set out its terms for giving up most of its cache of enriched uranium in a confidential document — and the conditions fall short of what has been demanded by the United States and other world powers.
Washington dismissed the document — seen by The Associated Press on Tuesday — as a "red herring" and warned it would consult with its allies on new penalties on Iran to punish it for its nuclear defiance.
The document says Tehran is ready to hand over the bulk of its stockpile, as called for under a deal brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency and endorsed by the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany.
But Iran adds that it must simultaneously receive fuel rods for its research reactor in return, and that such an exchange must take place on Iranian territory.
The Iranian offer was sure to be rejected by the six powers, which have waited for nearly six months for such an official answer.
The United States and others fear Iran's nuclear program is geared toward making nuclear weapons, while Tehran claims it is simply to provide more power for its growing population. The United Nations has slapped sanctions on Iran for its defiance on nuclear issues.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the chief Iranian delegate to the IAEA, told the AP the document — his letter to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano — was "formally reflecting" his country's position, which has been expressed to the IAEA and to the media in various forms.
The U.S. and its allies have previously said there can be no significant deviation from the original deal, which would commit Iran to shipping out its nuclear material first and then waiting up to a year for it to be turned into fuel for its reactor, which makes medical isotopes.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington that Iran's counterproposal was unacceptable.
"It doesn't say anything new," Crowley said. "We've heard this before. We think that the arrangement that we put on the table in Geneva is the right one. The Iranian response in essence is, in our view, a red herring." He said Washington would discuss "appropriate next steps, including prospective sanctions," with its allies.
Nor was the British Foreign Office impressed by the new document.
"We continue to support the original deal," the Foreign Office said a statement. "Iran has continually failed to respond fully to that proposal."
"It is clearly for the interested parties to respond but it is hard to see how this latest 'offer' properly addresses these issues," said the statement.
The statement was issued after Amano met in London with British officials including Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
The letter to Amano — dated Feb. 18 — says Iran is "still seeking to purchase the required fuel in cash." However, it was unclear how Iran would do that, because there are no stockpiles of fuel specifically made for its reactor.
Iran is ready to exchange its low-enriched uranium for the fuel rods "simultaneously in one package or several packages in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the letter says.
World powers insist that Iran ship out most of its enriched uranium first then wait for the fuel rods because that would delay Iran's ability to make a nuclear weapon by leaving it with too little material to make a warhead.
But Iran's continued rejection of the deal appears to have worked in its favor.
When the agreement was drawn up nearly six months ago, it foresaw Iran exporting about 1.2 tons of low-enriched material for further enrichment in Russia to near 20 percent and then reprocessing in France into fuel rods. Back then, that would have been about 70 percent of the Iranian stockpile.
But Iran has continued to enrich since, and now has about 2 tons of low-enriched uranium.
That means that even if Iran now agreed to ship the requisite 1.2 tons, it would still be left with about 800 kilograms (1,765 pounds) — about two-thirds of what is needed to enrich further to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Iran continues to enrich in defiance of the U.N. Security Council, saying it has a right to do that to make nuclear fuel.
Along with Tehran's opposition to the deal endorsed by the six powers, its recent decision to start further enrichment to near 20 percent has led to a Western push for a fourth set of Security Council sanctions.
Concerns have grown because it is much easier to enrich to weapons-grade uranium from the 20 percent level than from Iran's current 3.5 percent stockpile.
Iran insists that its activities are peaceful. But an agency report prepared last week says the IAEA is worried Iran may currently be working on making a nuclear warhead — suggesting for the first time that Tehran had either resumed such work or never stopped when U.S. intelligence thought it did.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100223/ap_on_re_eu/iran_nuclear
1. North Korea Blasts War Games Amid Bid to Revive Nuclear Talks
(for personal use only)
North Korea's military on Thursday accused South Korean and US troops of planning a surprise attack, and said it could respond with atomic weapons, as diplomatic efforts intensified to revive nuclear disarmament talks.
Pyongyang's military described upcoming US-South Korean manoeuvres as "pilot operations and nuclear war exercises" aimed at mounting a surprise pre-emptive attack on it.
The military said it would retaliate for any attack "with our powerful military counteraction, and if necessary, mercilessly destroy the bulwark of aggression by mobilising all the offensive and defensive means including nuclear deterrent".
The statement from the General Staff was carried on the communist state's official news agency.
The North routinely criticises war games staged in South Korea as a rehearsal for invasion, while Seoul and its ally Washington say they are purely defensive.
The Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise from March 8-18 will draw 10,000 US troops stationed in South Korea plus 8,000 from abroad, and an undisclosed number of South Korean troops.
On the diplomatic front, a US envoy trying to restart six-nation nuclear disarmament talks said they could resume very soon if North Korea called off its boycott.
"We are prepared to resume six-party talks in the very near future," Stephen Bosworth told reporters on arrival in South Korea, his second stop in a three-country mission.
But the envoy, who earlier held talks in China which hosts the six-party forum, said he did not know whether the North would rejoin the talks.
China said it was closely consulting other parties to try to reopen talks soon.
"At present the six-party talks is certainly facing an important opportunity to work out of the current dilemma and move forward," said foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
The talks grouping the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States were last held in December 2008 before getting bogged down in disputes over verifying disarmament.
In April last year, the North declared the forum "dead". It staged its second atomic weapons test and ballistic missile launches before indicating readiness in principle to return to dialogue.
Estimates vary but the North is thought to have enough plutonium to make around eight atomic weapons. It is not known whether it could deliver them by missile.
Bosworth, the US special envoy on North Korea, met his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei in Beijing on Wednesday to assess prospects of resuming negotiations.
South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-Lac also met Wu during a two-day visit to Beijing that began on Tuesday.
Wi, quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency, said on Wednesday the future was unclear.
"We will have to wait and see because it is still not clear how the consultations (on the resumption of the talks) will go," he added.
The North has two conditions for returning to dialogue: the lifting of UN sanctions and a US commitment to discuss a formal peace treaty on the Korean peninsula.
"We could not see any significant changes (to North Korea's demands)," a South Korean official told Yonhap after the Wi-Wu meeting.
Some analysts believe Pyongyang is raising tensions on the peninsula to make its point that a formal peace pact is needed. The 1950-1953 war ended only with an armistice.
The United States, South Korea and Japan, where Bosworth will travel on Friday, say Pyongyang must return to dialogue and show seriousness about denuclearisation before other issues are discussed.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1039895/1/.html
2. Hu Meets North Koreans Amid Diplomatic Drive on Nuclear Talks
(for personal use only)
Chinese President Hu Jintao met a North Korean delegation in Beijing yesterday, where U.S. and South Korean negotiators were scheduled to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program today.
Hu held “friendly talks” yesterday with Kim Yong Il, director of the international affairs department of the Workers’ Party, and others in the visiting group, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported today. The report didn’t say whether the parties discussed North Korea’s nuclear program.
The meeting comes as envoys from the U.S. and South Korea converge in Beijing to discuss ways to resume disarmament negotiations that last took place in December 2008. President Barack Obama’s envoy Stephen Bosworth is due in Beijing today, and South Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung Lac traveled to the Chinese capital yesterday.
“China wants to show how it’s exerting its utmost efforts on the North Korea nuclear talks as the host country,” said Kim Yong Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “China’s role is more important than ever as it is they who can try to bridge the gap between North Korea and the U.S.”
North Korea has said it will return to talks only after sanctions by the United Nations Security Council are removed, a demand rejected by the U.S. The communist country has been under stricter UN sanctions, which ban arms trading and restrict financial transactions, since it detonated a second nuclear device in May 2009.
The U.S. is still waiting for a “signal” from North Korea on how to resume the nuclear discussions, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowleysaid this week.
Bosworth’s trip to Asia comes after he traveled to Pyongyang in December. Sung Kim, the chief U.S. negotiator to the six-party talks, is traveling with Bosworth on this week’s trip that includes stops in Seoul and Tokyo.
South Korea and Japan are participants in the talks, which also involve Russia.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a03KyXEWtcnk&pos=9
3. Korean Summit Needed Even if No Nuclear Breakthrough Guaranteed: Former Minister
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak should press for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il even if such a meeting is unlikely to produce a breakthrough in the standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear programs, a former unification minister said Wednesday.
Lee Jong-seok, who served under then-President Roh Moo-hyun in 2006, said a summit is the "most effective way" to build trust between the countries whose relations have limped along over the past two years.
But the former minister said that the North's leader is not likely to promise to give up his country's nuclear programs in a summit with the South because Pyongyang believes the issue should mainly be discussed with the U.S.
"President Lee will have a chance to directly tell Kim why it is important for the North to dismantle its nuclear programs," said Lee Jong-seok, who also served as deputy head of the presidential National Security Council under Roh.
"The meeting will inevitably serve as a forum to discuss the nuclear issue regardless of whether Pyongyang likes it or not," he said at a forum in Seoul. "But Lee should not expect Kim to promise to give up the nuclear project on the spot."
President Lee, a conservative who took office in early 2008 with a pledge to raise the nuclear problem more prominently in exchanges with North Korea, has said he is willing to meet Kim at any time only if Pyongyang guarantees the issue will be discussed concretely.
"President Lee is limiting his own room for maneuvers by stressing the nuclear issue as a pre-condition for agreeing to a summit," Lee Jong-seok said. He argued that Seoul should put more emphasis on the role of an inter-Korean summit in easing political and military tensions between the sides that fought the 1950-53 Korean War.
South and North Korea have held two summits since the war ended in a truce. Roh met Kim in 2007 in Pyongyang, while Roh's predecessor Kim Dae-jung met him in 2000.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/02/24/99/0401000000AEN20100224002300315F.HTML
4. Seoul Urges Pyongyang to Be More Open in Nuclear Talks
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)
Minister of Unification Hyun In-taek said Wednesday that South and North Korea should discuss the North Korea nuclear issue with "open minds."
His remarks came after President Lee Myung-bak said early this month that an inter-Korean summit would mean nothing if no progress is made in resolving the nuclear problem.
"The government is trying to head for a future based on improved inter-Korean relations," Hyun said at a seminar in Seoul. "The first step is a sincere inter-Korean dialogue. Through it, we have to get rid of any mutual distrust and build trust instead."
The minister continued that the two Koreas must get past the nuclear hurdle so that they can start to cooperate.
President Lee said that if an inter-Korean summit takes place, the nuclear issue should be put on the table.
"Unless there is progress (regarding the nuclear issue) in the summit, that meeting would be meaningless," Lee said.
His aides said that what Lee wanted to note was that he would not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il if no progress is made in denuclearization of the North or the abduction issue.
"The President remains firm on the stance," an aide said. "Nothing has yet to be determined but when to hold an inter-Korean summit is totally up to North Korea."
In an interview with the BBC last month, Lee said, "I can't say for sure it will be held soon but I think I can meet (Kim Jong-il) within this year."
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/02/113_61394.html
5. U.S. Envoy Says Seeking Fresh Momentum on North Korea
(for personal use only)
North Korea's neighbors and the United States want fresh momentum in trying to restart talks about ending Pyongyang's nuclear arms program, a U.S. envoy said, while giving no signs of an impending breakthrough.
Speaking in Beijing on Wednesday, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said his talks with Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei had addressed how to "try to regain momentum and get back to the negotiating table."
Bosworth is visiting China and then South Korea and Japan as North Korea's neighbors seek to restart stalled negotiations aimed at ending the isolated country's nuclear weapons program.
"I think everybody shares the view that it is important to get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible," he told reporters at a short news briefing, but added it would be premature to disclose how negotiations could be boosted.
North Korea quit the six-party disarmament talks -- also including South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia -- a year ago.
In May 2009, North Korea then staged its second-ever nuclear test in May 2009, drawing international condemnation and a fresh round of U.N. sanctions.
The North has said it could end its nuclear arms program if the United States drops what Pyongyang calls a "hostile policy," and it has also demanded that Washington agree to peace treaty talks and lift sanctions.
Washington has said North Korea's demands for aid and improved relations can be addressed only along with renewed nuclear disarmament steps by Pyongyang.
South Korea's envoy for the six-party talks, Wi Sung-lac, has also been visiting Beijing to discuss the issue.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61N3LK20100224?type=politicsNews
1. Medvedev, Obama May Talk on Arms Treaty, Russian Official Says
(for personal use only)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama may try to bridge differences delaying completion of a nuclear-arms reduction treaty in a phone call in a few days, a top Russian lawmaker said.
Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, told a forum in the Washington area yesterday that the conversation may be “decisive” in resolving the issues.
“The Russian side is a bit more pessimistic and they believe the disagreement is quite serious and we will need to have much higher flexibility from the American side,” Kosachyov told an audience at the Rand Corp. policy-research group in Arlington, Virginia.
The primary disagreement centers on U.S. plans for a missile-defense system in Europe and might require a separate treaty later to resolve, said Kosachyov, a member of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
The U.S. and Russia are seeking new terms for reducing nuclear warheads, bombers and missiles for an agreement that would replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired in December. Negotiators have been in on-and-off talks in Geneva for months, and U.S. officials have said major sticking points have been resolved.
Medvedev and Obama have called for a reduction of their nuclear arsenals to between 1,500 and 1,675 deployed warheads and between 500 and 1,100 delivery systems. The two presidents spoke by telephone about the issue at least once before, in January. The White House had no immediate comment late yesterday on the prospects for another conversation.
Under the now-expired treaty, the two nations made pledged cuts to fewer than 1,600 delivery vehicles, such as missiles, and less than 6,000 related warheads.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday told her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that “our negotiators are close to reaching an agreement,” department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters. She “encouraged Russia to continue to move ahead, push hard so we can reach an agreement in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Kosachyov said the chance to complete the nuclear talks in the next two or three weeks “is quite real.”
Russia wants stronger language in the new treaty related to U.S. plans for a missile defense system in and around Europe, Kosachyov told reporters after yesterday’s forum.
The U.S., wary of being limited in its plans for defenses against missiles from potential attackers such as Iran, has said such a system should be discussed separately from offensive weapons.
While a separate treaty on defensive weapons might be an option, Russia wants to ensure language in the arms-reduction treaty refers to a link between the two issues, Kosachyov said.
President George W. Bush’s administration withdrew the U.S. from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001 that had limited such defensive systems.
Clinton earlier this week in Washington reiterated a call for Russia to get involved in the missile-defense plan for Europe. U.S. officials have said a Russian radar station would be a useful addition. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, responded yesterday, saying he was skeptical the U.S. intends Russia as an equal partner in such a system, according to the Interfax news agency.
Kosachyov is in Washington as part of an annual exchange between members of his panel and their counterparts on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by California Democrat Howard Berman.
The Obama administration is seeking Russia’s cooperation on Iran, Afghanistan and the nuclear weapons treaty even while backing expanding NATO’s membership among former Soviet republics over the objections of leaders in Moscow.
Russia also has expressed concern over the intent of the U.S. missile-defense plans, which involve placing radar and missile sites in former Soviet bloc nations that are now members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with the U.S., Canada and other European countries.
The Obama administration, like that of Bush’s, says the missile defenses are intended to protect against a potential threat from Iran.
Russia has indicated it might support United Nations sanctions against Iran in a further effort to curb the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear program.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-24/medvedev-obama-may-talk-on-arms-treaty-russian-official-says.html
2. U.S. and UAE Bolster Cooperation in the Area of Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation
U.S. Department of Energy
(for personal use only)
As part of a trip to strengthen partnerships in the Middle East, today U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu signed an Implementing Arrangement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash. The Arrangement will enhance cooperation on civil nuclear energy and nonproliferation and facilitate joint training, exchanges, and seminars in nuclear safeguards and nuclear management systems. The training programs will complement Emirati capacity on safety, security and nonproliferation, while reinforcing U.S. support for a major regional ally.
Nuclear energy has a key role to play in a low-carbon future – helping satisfy the increasing demand for baseload electricity while reducing carbon emissions. The United States is engaging with countries around the world to enhance cooperation on nuclear energy, so countries can meet their energy needs while minimizing the risks of proliferation.
"This Arrangement is part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to peaceful nuclear power," said Secretary Chu. "We welcome this collaboration with the UAE to reduce carbon pollution through the development of clean sources of energy."
1. Russia to Spend $1.7 Billion on Nuclear Power Plant Projects - Putin
(for personal use only)
The Russian government will allocate 53 billion rubles ($1.76 billion) for the construction of new nuclear power plants, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Speaking in East Siberia at a meeting on energy investment, Putin also said that Russian energy companies had spent 66 billion rubles of 450 billion ruble investment funds on projects not connected to country's energy system.
He also said that over 10 billion rubles would be allocated for the repair of Siberia's Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant.
An accident at the plant last August killed 75 people and destroyed a turbine hall. The accident also destroyed three hydropower units and damaged the other seven.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100224/157985033.html
2. South Africa Eyes Multiple Nuclear Power Plants
(for personal use only)
South Africa plans to build multiple nuclear plants to plug the country's power deficit and reduce its carbon footprint, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Director General at the ministry of energy Nelisiwe Magubane said one plant only would not make sense economically.
"Nuclear is definitely on the table. We cannot build just one plant, it has to be a fleet," she told Reuters on the sidelines of an African utility conference in Durban.
Magubane said the nuclear plants will be used to replace ageing coal-fired power plants, adding that between 2020 and 2030 some 7,000 MW would need to be built.
"Because of liabilities like waste management we wouldn't want to leave it totally to private investors," she said.
The last attempt to build the country's next nuclear plant, led by state-owned utility Eskom [ESCJ.UL], has been scratched due to a lack of funding.
She said private investment would also help keep prices reasonable, adding that in comparison to prices offered elsewhere, the proposals put forward by the bidders in the last tender were "highly overpriced".
"We might have been overcharged for Nuclear 1 -- that's the consensus. The price was so crazy compared to what others are offering," she said.
Bidders in the nuclear plant included France's Areva (CEPFi.PA) and U.S. company Westinghaus.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE61M16X20100223?type=marketsNews
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.