Guyana's opposition leaders said on Wednesday the government may be helping Iran enrich uranium and damaging ties with the United States with a plan to have Iran map the South American country's mineral resources.
Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo, who traveled to Tehran last week, announced the upcoming visit of a team of scientists from Iran, which is facing heavy criticism from the United States and its allies over its nuclear enrichment program.
Iran raised eyebrows last year with offers to help map uranium deposits in Venezuela, where leftist President Hugo Chavez supports Tehran's nuclear program.
"Iran makes no secret of its search for uranium, it is doing the same in Venezuela," says Rafael Trotman, top legislator for the opposition Alliance for Change Party.
"There are known uranium deposits in Guyana and so it doesn't take much speculation to figure out what is going on."
He said this could sour relations with the United States, a major provider of development aid that plans to spend $52 million over the next five years to fight AIDS in Guyana, and is financing other trade, investment and governance programs.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes but Western powers suspect it is seeking to make weapons.
Guyana's Foreign Ministry did not comment on the accusations.
Iran has also agreed to give Guyana $1.5 million to build an institution to train specialist doctors as part of an unrelated cooperation deal.
Trotman said the nuclear mapping accord contrasts with the country's standard practice of requiring investors to secure a prospecting license before mining for minerals including gold and diamonds in the country's vast provinces.
A Canadian company is currently in Guyana exploring for uranium. The company, U308 Corp. (UWE.V: Quote), has exclusive uranium exploration rights in an area covering approximately 1.3 million hectares that straddles the edge of the Roraima Basin in Guyana.
Uranium is found naturally in a variety of forms but only a particular adapted form of the mineral -- rather than simply the mined ore -- can be used for electricity or explosives.
This type, called U-235 to represent its mass, is present in less than 1 percent of mined ore.
Available at: http://ca.reuters.com/article/companyNews/idCAN0319086020100203?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=companyNews&rpc=401&sp=true
Iran said on Wednesday it had launched a Kavoshgar-3 rocket capable of carrying a satellite, a move Washington described as a "provocative act."
Western powers fear Iran is trying to build nuclear bombs and that the long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit can also be used to launch warheads. Iran says its nuclear programme is solely to generate electricity.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the launch was a huge breakthrough which would help break "the global domineering system" -- a reference to Iran's Western foes.
"A launch like that is obviously a provocative act," White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters.
"But the president believes that it is not too late for Iran to do the right thing -- come to the table with the international community and live up to its international obligations."
France, which together with the United States, Britain and Germany is discussing a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, said it would press for strong measures against Tehran at the United Nations, with time running out for a political solution.
"We are going to seek the adoption of a new resolution at the United Nations incorporating strong sanctions," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said.
On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad had struck a more conciliatory note, saying Iran was ready to send its enriched uranium abroad in what appeared to be an easing of its position in the dispute.
Speaking at a ceremony unveiling satellite technology, Ahmadinejad said Iran hoped to send astronauts into space soon.
State Press TV showed a rocket blasting off from a desert launchpad leaving a thick vapour trail. The home-built Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3) carried "living organisms," it said.
ISNA news agency said the capsule successfully returned to earth with its "passengers" -- a mouse, worms and two turtles.
"NOT A THREAT"
Mark Fitzpatrick at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies said the launch was one of a series and not particularly more significant than others.
"They contribute to Iran's ballistic missile capabilities, but do not foretell an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) capability or anything else capable of threatening Western Europe or the U.S. homeland," Fitzpatrick said.
Western counter-proliferation sources also said the Kavoshgar-3 was not a military system and was not a threat.
The rocket, propelled by liquid fuel, was a testing device for space systems that normally rises about 100 km (60 miles) above the surface of the earth before returning on a parachute.
In May 2009, a U.S.-Russia assessment estimated Iran was six to eight years away from producing a ballistic missile able to deliver a 1,000 kg nuclear warhead to a range of 2,000 km.
On Monday, a Pentagon report said Iran had expanded its ballistic missile capabilities and posed a significant threat to U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East region.
In December, Iran said it test-fired a long-range, upgraded Sejil 2 missile. Britain said at the time the launch was of serious concern and underlined the case for tougher sanctions.
The Iranian president made no mention of the nuclear row at the aerospace event.
Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday Iran was ready to send its enriched uranium abroad in exchange for nuclear fuel. He appeared for the first time to drop Tehran's long-standing conditions on a deal with global powers.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaking in Turkey on Wednesday, said Tehran was considering the swap option.
"The swap formula is a more confidence-inspiring formula compared to other formulas. For that reason, we have to keep that formula on the table," he told a news conference in Ankara.
He said Iran was in talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russia, France and the United States in Vienna.
The United States said that if Iran was serious it should tell the IAEA. Russia said it would welcome an Iranian decision on enrichment and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Iran must make real concessions and not just talk about them.
"If that doesn't happen and it's all just tactics, the international community will agree on further measures. Then sanctions cannot be ruled out," he told N-24 television.
Analysts believe that because of the threat of sanctions, Iran is trying to buy time to evade more domestic pressure. Ahmadinejad has been in favour of the deal because he wanted to win some legitimacy following last year's disputed presidential elections that have triggered anti-government protests.
"Ahmadinejad wanted a deal, wanted some sort of agreement with the international community, especially with the United States, because it is clear he thought he would be able to use a foreign policy success to enhance his domestic standing," Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told Austrian broadcaster ORF.
"The deal is not struck just because the president says Iran is ready for a deal ... This is simply a sign that Iran is ready to come back to the negotiating table."
U.S. General David Petraeus told Reuters this week any military strike on Iran to quash its nuclear ambitions could have the unintended consequence of stirring nationalist sentiment to the benefit of Ahmadinejad's government.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6116G520100203
3. Iran Urged to Submit 'Updated' Nuclear Swap Proposal
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The West has urged Iran to submit a formal offer to the UN nuclear watchdog after the Iranian president said his government was ready to negotiate over a fuel swap deal.
Under a deal backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran would send most of its domestically-produced low enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further enrichment.
The 20 percent enriched uranium then would be used to fuel the Tehran research reactor that produces medical isotopes for cancer patients.
Iran had earlier called for the swap deal to take place on its own soil, arguing that if it ships the bulk of its enriched uranium, there will be no guarantee that the fuel would eventually reach the country.
However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that the country would have "no problem" sending out its stock of LEU to be further refined into nuclear fuel for the research reactor in Tehran.
"Even if we sent our 3.5 percent [enriched] fuel abroad, it would cause no problem," Ahmadinejad said, adding that the controversy about the nuclear swap deal was unnecessary.
"Inside [the country], some said that if we send our nuclear fuel abroad, they (the West) will not give us enriched fuel," but if the suppliers renege on providing nuclear fuel to Iran, it will prove that the countries which signed the nuclear swap deal are not reliable, he noted.
The president reiterated that Iran, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is entitled to enrich uranium for civilian purposes and if the sides cannot agree on a deal, the country would be left with no choice but to domestically produce the fuel.
Following president Ahmadinejad's remarks, Western countries demanded that Iran submit a formal proposal to the IAEA over the deal.
"If Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments reflect an updated Iranian position, we look forward to Iran informing the IAEA," spokesman for the US National Security Council Mike Hammer said.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told journalists that "if there is a new approach, Iran has to submit its proposals to the IAEA in Vienna, then the international community can evaluate them."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was "pessimistic" about the remarks and added that he believed Iran was "trying to buy time."
Russia and Britain, however, said that they would welcome Iran's readiness to accept the proposal as a "positive sign."
China also underlined the 'urgent' need for the continuation of talks over the Iranian nuclear issue.
"We need to try and find a solution as quickly as possible through negotiations," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Wednesday.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=117801§ionid=351020104
The United States has said that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) are scheduled to talk on imposing sanctions on Iran in a few days' time.
The talks are aimed at resolving the differences with China, which favors dialogue with Iran over the country's nuclear energy program, AFP reported.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Tuesday night that Washington has communicated "very forcefully to China that this is an issue... that's important to them, just as much as it's important to us and to others in the region."
"We do not have the same view of the urgency of the situation. We probably do not, at this point, have the same view regarding the ... steps that we think are ... necessary at this particular time," he went on to say.
"But that's why we're having this ongoing engagement, as we did in New York recently, as we will in the upcoming days, you know, when our P5+1 political directors have a chance to consult again," he further explained.
According to a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the six powers envoys would consult in a few days either directly or in a conference call.
"We expect to get together in some form in the next week or so," the US official said.
He also pointed out that it was "expected" that the political directors would consult, without confirming whether China's political director would be available.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu declared that there was still room for negotiation to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
The P5+1 met in New York on January 16 but failed to reach a decision on further sanctions against Iran.
Washington and its allies accuse Tehran of pursuing a military nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), however, has repeatedly said that it has found no evidence supporting the allegation.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, confirming the non-diversion of nuclear material in country's functional and under-construction plants.
Iran also denies the allegation, saying that it needs nuclear energy to produce electricity to meet the country's growing demand.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=117763§ionid=351020104
Gordon Brown has called for further sanctions against Iran as a test of the international community's "strength".
The prime minister said Iran was continuing to defy the UN in seeking to develop nuclear weapons "under the cover" of a civil nuclear programme.
If Tehran did not start to co-operate, it must be "isolated", he told MPs.
Mr Brown said he was "shocked" by reports Iran may execute nine more people accused of inciting violence after last year's disputed election.
He said Tehran had a duty to respect the right of its citizens to peaceful protest.
Facing questions from senior MPs, Mr Brown said he believed the time had come for further sanctions against Iran for its continued defiance of the UN over its nuclear programme.
Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful and has refused to halt uranium enrichment programmes.
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently said that 20 years of undeclared nuclear work in the country had undermined international trust in its intentions.
Mr Brown said evidence suggested Iran was developing "materials" whose purpose was clearly not for use in civilian nuclear development.
He said Tehran was defying five UN resolutions and faced a "choice" over whether to co-operate with the international community or face further international action.
"What we now, I think, have to do is accept that if Iran will not make some indication that it will take action that we have got to proceed with sanctions," he said.
"I'm sorry that it has come to that, but I think it's essential that the international community shows that it has strength in this matter by imposing these sanctions."
Mr Brown said a "balance" had to be struck between concerns that sanctions would harm ordinary Iranians and the need to send a clear message to the Iranian leadership, insisting that the international community's fight was not with the Iranian people.
Mr Brown said he believed the EU would agree to take action quickly and then it would be up to the US, Russia and China, in concert with the EU, to decide what further steps would be taken.
The US said last month that Iran faced significant new sanctions unless it "changed course".
Existing sanctions have targeted banks and other firms with close links to the Iranian leadership but China and Russia have blocked more extensive restrictions.
Diplomats suggested on Tuesday that the UK, Germany, France and the US hoped to blacklist Iran's central bank and firms linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8493970.stm
6. Official Downplays West's Attempts to Wear out Iran's Nuclear Drive
Fars News Agency
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Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Undersecretary for International and Foreign Policy Affairs Ali Baqeri dismissed the pressures exerted by certain western countries on Iran to restrict its peaceful nuclear activities.
"The displeasure or inimical attitudes of certain western countries will not limit the legal activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a responsible member of the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) and NPT (the Non-Proliferation Treaty)," Baqeri told a group of visiting Pakistani journalists here in Tehran.
A number of the western countries are seeking to deny Iran's right to build nuclear power plants under the pretext that Tehran enjoys huge fossil fuel resources, while the same countries have endorsed nuclear agreements on nuclear power plant construction with certain regional countries whose oil and gas resources are tens of times larger than those of Iran, he said.
Elsewhere, Baqeri blasted the politically-driven claims by certain countries against the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, and stressed, "Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) have no room in the Islamic Republic's defense doctrine."
Ha also underlined Iran's right to use peaceful nuclear technology, and said all Iran's nuclear activities are monitored and supervised by the IAEA and the UN nuclear watchdog agency is inspecting the non-diversion of Iran's nuclear activities from peaceful to military means.
"According to international regulations, all IAEA member states are entitled to the acquisition of civilian nuclear technology while the Agency is tasked to inspect non-diversion of its members from the contents of the NPT," the Iranian official reminded.
Iran and the West are at loggerheads over Tehran's nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive to produce electricity so that the world's fourth-largest crude exporter can sell more of its oil and gas abroad and provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
The US and its western allies allege that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program while they have never presented corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations against the Islamic Republic.
Analysts believe that the US's opposition with Iran is mainly due to the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran's nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.
Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West's calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.
Tehran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, saying that renouncing its rights under the NPT would encourage world powers to put further pressure on the country and would not lead to a change in the West's hardline stance on Tehran.
Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
Tehran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA's questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Available at: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8811131571
1. Peace Treaty the Best Route to Denuclearization: DPRK State Media
Xinhua News Agency
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The conclusion of a peace treaty would push forward the Korean peninsula's denuclearization process, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) official KCNA news agency said Wednesday.
In a commentary, KCNA said a peace treaty would help build confidence between the DPRK and the United States to end hostile relations and give strong impetus to the denuclearization process.
It was illogical to assert that the establishment of the peacekeeping regime was a matter to be taken up after the nuclear issue was settled. "This was nothing but an artifice to dodge the proposal," KCNA said.
It said denuclearization talks had been held for years without addressing the issue of peace, which proved anything that started without confidence could never gain good results.
The DPRK's proposal was to put an end to the vicious cycle of distrust and to build confidence to advance the denuclearization course, it added.
The country's official newspaper, Rodong Simun, on Tuesday also called for giving priority to a peace treaty, saying the most "realistic way" of preventing another war in the Korean Peninsular was to replace the outdated Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty as soon as possible.
On Jan. 18, Pyongyang renewed its demands of negotiating a peace treaty and lifting sanctions before it would return to the six-party talks, saying failure of the discussion on concluding a peace treaty would consequently "push back the process of denuclearization."
But the U.S. later dismissed the proposal, reiterating that Pyongyang must first return to the six-party talks.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-02/03/c_13162375.htm
2. US Official: North Korea Must Return To Nuke Talks
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North Korea's return to the nuclear disarmament process is an essential next step before any discussions about political and economic concessions can begin, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
The American's remarks were a response to nuclear-armed North Korea's repeated call for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War as well as diplomatic relations with the U.S. before it agrees to return to the disarmament negotiations it walked away from the last year.
Pyongyang cites the U.S. military presence in South Korea as its main reason for building a nuclear weapons program. North Korea is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen nuclear bombs, and last year revealed it has a uranium enrichment program that would give it a second way to make atomic weapons.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters in Seoul that getting the talks back on track is a top priority. The talks involve six nations: the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, Russia and China.
"It is essential ... to make very clear to our North Korean interlocutors that the essential next step is really the six-party talks, not discussions on other matters," he said. "It's possible to have discussions on other matters within the six-party framework. But that six-party framework is essential going forward."
No discussion about easing sanctions, a peace treaty or diplomatic relations can take place before the disarmament talks are back on track. North Korea must also prove it will honor previous commitments to disarm, he told South Korean reporters earlier Wednesday, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Communist North Korea has twice tested nuclear bombs, in 2006 and last May, and test-fired long-range missile in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions barring the regime from developing its nuclear and missile programs.
President Barack Obama's top intelligence official said Tuesday that North Korea relies on its nuclear weapons program because of a crumbling military that cannot compete with South Korea.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, in congressional testimony Tuesday, described a North Korean army that struggles with aging weapons; poorly trained, out-of-shape soldiers; inflexible leaders; corruption; low morale and problems with command and control.
North Korea, Blair said, has little chance of reversing a huge gap in military capabilities with South Korea and so "relies on its nuclear program to deter external attacks on the state and to its regime."
A military fracas off the west coast last week underlined the precarious security situation in the region.
The North Korean military fired rounds of artillery toward the two Koreas' maritime border, prompting the South Koreans to fire warning shots. No injuries or damage were reported.
Pyongyang also has designated two new "naval firing zones" off the west coast, effective Feb. 5-8, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday. Two other no-sail zones, off the west coast, remain in place through March 29.
Despite the recent flare-up, Pyongyang agreed to hold talks on restarting joint tour programs in North Korea that had been suspended since tensions rose in 2008, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said Wednesday.
The tours to Diamond Mountain and the ancient city of Kaesong had been seen as promising examples of reconciliation between the two Koreas.
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/03/ap/asia/main6169043.shtml
1. Pakistan Nuclear Arsenal Safe: Top US Spy Chief
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Pakistan's military knows there were would "catastrophic consequences, primarily for Pakistan," if any of its nuclear bombs fell into the wrong hands, the top US intelligence chief said Wednesday.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's comments came one day after another top US national security official told the Senate Intelligence Committee that "vulnerabilities exist" in Pakistan's nuclear safeguards.
"The Pakistan army takes very seriously the security of its weapons, and they know the catastrophic consequences -- primarily for Pakistan -- if they were to get loose," Blair told the House Intelligence Committee.
"From what we see of the measures that they take, they are keeping them safe," Blair told lawmakers concerned about the stability of Pakistan and the fate of its atomic arsenal as it grapples with Islamic extremists.
On Tuesday, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess told senators that: "We have confidence in Pakistan's ability to safeguard its nuclear weapons, though vulnerabilities exist."
He did not elaborate.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCMKLI3DYgcMkGzZAH99f_p0DpYQ
1. Australia Blocks Iran Shipments Over Weapons Fears: PM
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Australia has blocked three cargo shipments to Iran under laws aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Thursday.
Defence Minister John Faulkner invoked the rarely used Weapons of Mass Destruction Act to block the shipments, Rudd said.
"If you look at the threat to regional and global peace which Iran poses in its current nuclear weapons programme, there is no alternative other than robust international action including in areas such as this," Rudd told public broadcaster ABC.
"We believe that national security, the national security interests of Australia, also demand this course of action," he added.
The centre-left leader would not be drawn on the contents of the shipments, saying only that Australia had acted "because we believe we must play the role of a responsible international citizen."
The Australian newspaper reported that at least one of the banning orders, all made in recent months, blocked a cargo of pumps which could have been used to cool nuclear power plants.
"If you look at the status of Iran's nuclear weapons programme, and their consistent thumbing of the nose to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the international community more broadly... there are no alternatives other than to maintain a hard line," Rudd said.
The United States and key allies Wednesday urged Iran to follow up on a surprise statement from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by formally committing to a UN-brokered deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.
Ahmadinejad's apparent overture was overshadowed by a rocket launch into space, which heightened fears Iran was developing ballistic weapons and was condemned by the White House as "a provocative act."
The West fears Tehran's uranium enrichment programme is masking efforts to produce atomic weapons, a claim vehemently rejected by the Islamic republic.
Iran strongly denies that either its space or atomic energy programmes are intended to build a bomb.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hV3OnqaT_y2Jp_3fvxB7GK7OHVhw
Visiting Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said here on Tuesday that the international community must insist with Israel that it renounce its nuclear weapons and become part of a nuclear-free Middle East, according to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).
In an exclusive interview with KUNA, Moussa said that he believed Israel could be made to comply and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and commit to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.
Israel refuses to divulge any information on its nuclear programs, but it is believed to have more than 200 nuclear warheads which it developed after a transfer of technology by France in the 1960s.
"Feasible or not, we have to insist on the establishment of an Israel free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the "Global Zero" conference here on nuclear disarmament.
"And if Israel is afraid that Arab powers are going to be nuclear, etcetera, and threatening them, the point is that no country would have the right to have nuclear weapons once we declare such a zone," the Arab League chief affirmed.
Moussa said that he felt there was hope of pressuring Israel and that this kind of pressure was coming from a variety of sources.
Asked who would best be qualified to pressure Israel on its nuclear weapons, Moussa simply replied, "the international community".
Pressed on whether there was real hope that such pressure would bring results, he remarked: "Yes, of course, there is hope," noting the "reaction to the arguments in favour of Israel have been composed from several quarters in the conference." Asked about nuclear developments in Iran, he pointed out that the Iranian context would also be covered by the nuclear-free zone proposal that is supported by Arab nations.
"The Iranian dynamic could be also dealt with through the establishment of a zone free from nuclear weapons. But you cannot say there is an Iranian dynamic and we have to deal with it and totally ignore the Israeli dynamic," he told KUNA.
"This is our argument. As long as you say we don’t need a military nuclear program, so why do you tolerate the Israeli program," he asked.
He warned that there would certainly be proliferation if no solution was found to the nuclear problem, irrespective of what happens in the Middle East conflict.
"It is not a danger of proliferation. There will be (proliferation) as long as there is no solution to the nuclear problem. Not the Middle East situation, but the nuclear problem," he emphasized in the interview.
Available at: http://www.sabanews.net/en/news204846.htm
1. US Certifies India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement on Civil Nuclear Facilities
The Economic Times
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In yet another step towards full implementation of the India-US civil nuclear deal, President Barack Obama has certified that India has placed its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
Obama made the Congressionally-mandated certification Wednesday in a presidential memorandum to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to have it inserted in the Federal Register that records all government actions.
Obama's confirmation that India has formally agreed to provide the UN nuclear watchdog access to a specified number of nuclear reactors takes the deal yet another step closer to implementation of the landmark deal. Military facilities are excluded from the safeguards agreement.
But a couple of other crucial steps are still pending. India and the US are still negotiating an agreement on reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The two sides are said to be on track to complete the talks by August as provided under the deal.
India also needs to approve liability protection for US companies. The Indian cabinet has approved the necessary legislation, but it has yet to be placed before parliament.
In a presidential memorandum released by the White House, Obama wrote: "I hereby determine and certify that:
1. The agreement between the government of India and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities, as approved by the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency on August 1, 2008 (the 'Safeguards Agreement'), has entered into force; and
2. The government of India has filed a declaration of facilities pursuant to paragraph 13 of the Safeguards Agreement that is not materially inconsistent with the facilities and schedule described in paragraph 14 of the Separation Plan present in the national Parliament of India on May 11, 2006, taking into account the later initiation of safeguards that was anticipated in the Separation Plan."
Available at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Politics/Nation/US-certifies-India-IAEA-Safeguards-Agreement-on-civil-n-facilities-/articleshow/5534227.cms
2. Russia, USA May Sign Nuclear Reductions Treaty in First Half of 2010 – Margelov
Itar-Tass News Agency
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Russia and the United States may sign the new treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive armaments in the first quarter of this year, Chairman of the Federation Council International Affairs Committee Mikhail Margelov told Itar-Tass.
“The last details are being coordinated,” he said.
Margelov, who leads the Russian delegation to the Paris Global Zero summit, said he would fly to Washington on Wednesday. “We will prepare for the synchronous ratification of the new treaty together with American Senators,” he said.
“The treaty ratification at the Russian parliament is highly probable, but a lot of work must still be done at the U.S. Congress,” he said.
“The Russian-American treaty, which is bound to replace START I, must not fall victim of disagreements between the Democrats and the Republics, as it has happened to some other international documents,” Margelov said.
It may take about one month to ratify the treaty at the Russian parliament, he said.
Available at: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14782617&PageNum=0
1. Lithuania to Sign Nuclear Plant Deal at End 2010
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Lithuania plans to sign a shareholders agreement to build a new nuclear power plant at the end of this year, the country's energy minister said on Wednesday.
Lithuania is running an international tender to find a strategic investor to build a new nuclear power plant at an estimated cost of 3-5 billion euros ($4.2-$7 billion).
It had to close its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear power plant at the end of 2009.
It has picked five potential strategic investors to continue the tender and wants to narrow this to two by the middle of the year. It also wants neighbouring Poland, Latvia and Estonia to have a stake in the project.
"All parties will be involved in a shareholders agreement, including the strategic investor who will sign it, and we expect that to happen at the end of this year, maybe in the worst case scenario early next year," Lithuanian Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas told a Baltic infrastructure and investment conference in Latvian capital Riga.
Lithuania wants a strategic partner to own more than 50 percent in the plant. The shares for the regional national partners would depend on their investment, Sekmokas told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
Investors other than those already considered could be interested, he added.
"We believe that there could be other parties, financial parties, willing to invest," he said, adding this would be viewed in terms of national security and security of supply.
Lithuania has said it wants to build a new nuclear plant to decrease its energy dependence on Russia, its sole supplier of natural gas, which it uses to power a fossil fuel power station, which has replaced the Ignalina plant.
The government has said it expected large European utility companies, such as E.ON (EONGn.DE), EDF (EDF.PA), Iberdrola (IBE.MC), and Vatenfall to take part in the tender, which was issued in November.
Ignalina supplied more than 70 percent of Lithuania's electricity needs, but the Baltic state had to close the plant for safety reasons as its reactors were of the same design as the ones at the Chernobyl plant.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLDE6122AW20100203?sp=true
2. PLN Waiting for Government Decision to Go Nuclear
The Jakarta Post
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State power producer PT PLN is ready to go nuclear but has been left waiting for the government’s decision on the issue, an executive says.
PLN director of planning and technology Nasri Sebayang said Wednesday the government was putting its nuclear utilization policy on hold as evidenced in the absence of nuclear energy on the 2009-2018 power generation master plan.
“The master plan refers to the long-term national power generation plan for 2008-2025 which excludes nuclear power as an alternative source of electricity,” Nasri told Antara state news agency on the sidelines of a seminar on nuclear energy in Jakarta.
He said, however, PLN was well-prepared for a policy change that endorsed the operation of nuclear power plants.
PLN, he added, was conducting a continuous study on the utilization of nuclear energy to generate power, taking into account social, political and safety issues, and following new developments in nuclear technology.
The 2007 law on long-term national development planning stipulates that nuclear power plants may be operating between 2015 and 2019, despite the controversy.
Available at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/02/03/pln-waiting-govt-decision-go-nuclear.html
3. China to Build 6 Nuclear Facilities Near Mt. Baekdu
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)
A total of six nuclear power plants are expected to be built near Mt. Baekdu, which is regarded as a mystic mountain for Koreans, in 2012, according to the Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI).
Based on a publication about Jilin Province close to Mt. Baekdu, the KEEI said Tuesday that the province plans to construct nuclear facilities there with the aim of finishing them in 2012.
"Jilin Province is expected to invest a total of 85 billion yuan ― more than 14 trillion won ― this year on the nuclear projects," KEEI official Lee Moon-bae said.
"The plants are expected to be located near the west of Mt. Baekdu. The investment is part of the long-term plans of the world's most populous nation," he said.
Lee said that the Chinese government has channeled a substantial amount of money into nuclear facilities, which have been regarded as eco-friendly sources of energy around the world.
The China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CCNPG) has tried to set up a joint venture with a French nuclear player to team up with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Lee claimed that China has paid a lot of attention to nuclear power as conventional energy resources dwindle.
However, a majority of Koreans are unhappy with the idea of establishing the facilities near Mt. Baekdu, which is a renowned hot spring for Koreans both south and north of the 38th parallel.
"This would be the last place Koreans would choose as a location to establish nuclear facilities on the peninsula," said a Seoul analyst who asked not to be named.
"Obviously, as the place is adjacent to Mt. Baekdu, Koreans would not want to build nuclear plants there. I do not know how Jilin Province will react but If I were them, I would leave the region," he said.
When contacted, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said that the ministry has yet to receive any information.
The Korean government has teamed up with foreign governments such as that of France to build nuclear plants across the globe.
"Koreans have demonstrated a special feeling toward Mt. Baekdu. In my view, their feelings are understandable but at the same time, it is about how to create power for the benefit of the people," Lee said.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2010/02/123_60175.html
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