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Nuclear News - 2/9/2010
PGS Nuclear News, February 9, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. U.S. Wants Sanctions in Weeks as Iran Ups Enrichment, Reza Derakhshi and Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (2/9/2010)
    2. Iran Official: Window for Nuke Deal Open, Tom Evans, CNN (2/9/2010)
    3. Fresh Calls for Iran Sanctions, Al Jazeera (2/9/2010)
    4. IAEA Fears Iran Move Hurts Chances for Atomic Deal, Reuters (2/8/2010)
    5. Netanyahu Makes Every Anti-Iran Effort in Russia, PressTV (2/8/2010)
    6. Iran Reports 'Very Good' Nuclear Talks, UN More Muted, Simon Sturdee, AFP (2/6/2010)
    1. China's Role Positive in Efforts to Resume North Korea Nuclear Talks: Seoul Official, Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency (2/9/2010)
    2. Kim Wants 'Nuclear-Free Korea', Al Jazeera (2/9/2010)
    3. Envoys Expected to Press North Korea on Nuclear Talks, Jun Kwanwoo, AFP (2/7/2010)
C.  India
    1. Government Mulls Nuclear Trade Policy, The Economic Times (2/9/2010)
    2. 'Nuclear Power Vital for India's Future Energy Needs', Business Standard (2/9/2010)
    3. Indian Government Hails Test of Nuclear-Capable Missile, Channel NewsAsia (2/7/2010)
D.  Nonproliferation
    1. Iran to Host International Nuclear Disarmament Summit, PressTV (2/7/2010)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. China Plans Three Westinghouse Nuclear Plants - Paper, The Star (2/9/2010)
    2. Argentina Announces Completion of Third Nuclear Plant by End of the Year, Merco Press (2/8/2010)
    3. Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant Running After 1 More Test, PressTV (2/8/2010)
    4. Egypt to Build Its First Nuclear Power Plant, RIA Novosti (2/8/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Interview With Iran Rep. to IAEA Soltanieh, PressTV (2/9/2010)
    2. Fissile Material Puzzle, Khalid Iqbal, The Nation (2/8/2010)
    3. Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Says, Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg (2/5/2010)

A.  Iran

Fresh Calls for Iran Sanctions
Al Jazeera
(for personal use only)

The United States and France have said new sanctions against Iran are the only option after Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it will begin enriching higher-grade nuclear fuel to a level of 20 per cent.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said that Iran should face "strong sanctions" over its nuclear programme, a French official said following a meeting between the two men in Paris.

Earlier on Monday, Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, said that Tehran had handed an official letter to the UN's atomic agency saying that his country would begin enriching the fuel from Tuesday.

Soltanieh said that Iran would use its nuclear stockpile to enrich uranium to supply its Tehran research reactor which produces medical isotopes.

Earlier, speaking to al-Alam, Iran's Arabic-language state television station, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the country's atomic energy organisation, said Tehran planned to build 10 new facilities over the next year where the enrichment could be carried out.

Iran had said in November that it planned to build the enrichment plants but had not given a timescale.

Sanctions call

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said on Monday that he did not believe Iran had the ability to raise the enrichment level of its uranium and that the move by Tehran was "blackmail".

"One could call it diplomacy, but if that is what is then it is truly negative," said Kouchner.

"That is not serious and we, alas cannot apply anything other than sanctions since negotiation is not possible."

Gates also said more pressure had to be applied to the Iranian government.

"We must still try and find a peaceful way to resolve this issue," Gates said.

"The only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track but it will require all of the international community to work together."

Asked about the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran over its nuclear programme, Gates said: "Everybody's interest is in seeing this issue resolved without a resort to conflict."

Kouchner said all the major powers apart from China were in favour of a fourth round of UN-backed sanctions.

However, he said there was no deadline for reaching an agreement and added that he did not fear that any Israeli action was imminent.

Western powers accuse Iran of attempting to build nuclear weapons but Tehran says its nuclear programme is for purely civilian purposes.

Difficult change

Alireza Ronaghi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran, said: "It's a new phase in Iran's nuclear achievement, but it is not going to happen overnight.

"A very difficult design process will have to take place. They'll need to change the existing capacity that consists of 4,000 - 5,000 centrifugal machines.

"It will also infringe upon Iran's current capacity for enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 - 4 per cent, which is necessary for its current nuclear programme.

"Regardless, these are the things that many conservatives in Iran think will make the country's hand stronger in negotiations with the West."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, on Sunday instructed Salehi to start the production of higher-grade nuclear reactor fuel.

But Salehi has also suggested that production would be halted if Iran received fuel enriched to 20 per cent from abroad.

Iran has expressed its readiness to exchange its low-enriched uranium for higher-grade fuel, but has demanded amendments to the UN-drafted IAEA plan, under which Iran would export its low-enriched uranium abroad for enrichment.

"Iran would halt its enrichment process for the Tehran research reactor any time it receives the necessary fuel for it," Salehi said.

Draft proposal

The UN plan was drawn up in early October in a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, between Iran and six world powers - the UK, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany - and later refined at a meeting in Vienna.

The talks in the Austrian capital came up with a draft proposal that would take 70 per cent of Iran's low-enriched uranium to reduce its stockpile of material that could be enriched to a higher level, and possibly be used to make nuclear weapons.

That uranium would be returned about a year later as refined fuel rods, which can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material.

Ahmadinejad had last week appeared to support the deal in an interview on state television, but on Sunday he blamed the West for the stalemate over the deal.

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Iran Official: Window for Nuke Deal Open
Tom Evans
(for personal use only)

Iran's envoy to the International International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the window for nuclear negotiations is still open -- even as tensions rise over Iran's decision to defy the world on uranium enrichment.

"If they (other countries) come to the conclusion that they had better have a cooperative environment or approach rather than the language of threat, and they are ready to come to the negotiating table, our proposal is still on the table," Ali-Asghar Soltanieh told CNN's Christiane Amanpour Monday.

But the new enrichment program at the Natanz plant would begin Tuesday, he said.

"As (of) tomorrow, the steps will start in fact under the full scope, safeguards, and the supervision of the (IAEA) inspectors."

Hours earlier, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Iran will begin enriching uranium up to 20 percent, compared to 3.5 percent now. The U.S. National Research Council says such a step is the threshold for uranium capable of setting off a nuclear reaction. The U.S. and other countries immediately condemned Iran's announcement, saying it means sanctions against Tehran are much more likely.

Many world powers say Iran is on a path towards making nuclear weapons. Iran, though, insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran has defied repeated United Nations resolutions and three rounds of previous sanctions designed to persuade it to freeze uranium enrichment.

Last October, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany gave Iran a deadline of January this year to accept a deal on sending some low-level uranium out of the country for enrichment. Tehran did not accept that deal and instead made a counter offer, details of which have not been disclosed. In the past, the Iranians have signaled concerns about whether any fuel they send out of the country would ever be returned.

Soltanieh said Iran had decided to advance its enrichment program because it had been waiting months for international action.

"For nine months, we have hesitated to do so because we wanted to give the opportunity for the others. We think the framework of the IAEA (is) to have some sort of international cooperation to open a new chapter of cooperation, rather than confrontation."
He said Iran will produce enough nuclear fuel for Tehran's research reactor, which he said is roughly about 116 or 120 kilograms.

Iran said the research reactor will produce medical isotopes. Until now, only a few countries were known to have the technology for such work.

Soltanieh insisted Iran does have the expertise to move forward with its nuclear program, despite skepticism about its technical capabilities from other countries.

"We have in fact the infrastructure and the technology know-how. We have already been able to manufacture the fuel rods," he added.

"Of course, it is the first experience... but we have proved that we will be able to do it. And this is, in fact, the confidence that Iranian scientists have got."

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U.S. Wants Sanctions in Weeks as Iran Ups Enrichment
Reza Derakhshi and Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the United States wanted a U.N. Security Council resolution "within weeks" to tackle Iran's nuclear programme as Iran said it had begun making higher-grade nuclear fuel.

The Islamic Republic, which denies its programme has military aims, defied the international community by announcing on Sunday that it would enrich uranium to 20-percent purity for a Tehran reactor making medical isotopes for cancer patients.

As tensions with the West rose and Russia indicated it could back fresh U.N. sanctions, members of an Islamic militia threw stones at the Italian embassy in Tehran.

The big powers have already stepped up discussions on how to respond to Iran and what form a possible fourth set of U.N. sanctions over its still-expanding nuclear programme could take.

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates told Fox News: "I think it's going to take some period of time -- I would say weeks, not months -- to see if we can't get another U.N. Security Council resolution," according to the transcript of his interview.


State television quoted Iranian nuclear agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying that "enrichment to 20 percent started in the Natanz facility under the supervision of the (International Atomic Energy Agency)."

This followed a failure to agree on a swap with major powers, under which Iran would send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for 20-percent-pure fuel rods for the reactor.

Despite its denials, Western powers fear Iran is enriching uranium with a view to producing nuclear weapons.

Iran currently enriches uranium to 3.5 percent purity.

Salehi said Iran had set up a chain of 164 centrifuges to refine the uranium to 20 percent purity. He said the production capacity was 3 to 5 kg a month, above the Tehran reactor's needs of 1.5 kg, ISNA news agency reported.

Although a nuclear bomb requires about 90 percent purity, getting to 20 percent is a big step because low-level enrichment is the most time-consuming and difficult stage of the process.

Iran currently has no nuclear power plants able to use the low-enriched uranium it has already produced, and also lacks the technology to convert the 20-percent pure uranium into the fuel rods needed to run the medical reactor.

"I think Iran all along intended to enrich to 20 percent," said Mark Fitzpatrick, proliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, "ostensibly to supply the research reactor but also to gain experience enriching to higher levels that would prove useful for weapons production."

Russia, which in the past has urged talks rather than punishment, said Iran's move to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity was a clear breach of United Nations resolutions.

"Political-diplomatic methods are important for a resolution, but there is a limit to everything," said Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the presidential Security Council, according to Interfax news agency.


Among the big powers only China, which can block any U.N. sanctions, has remained unswervingly opposed to punishing Iran.

On Tuesday it urged increased diplomatic efforts, calling for all sides to work towards a deal on the fuel exchange plan.

Possible targets for any new sanctions include Iran's central bank, the Revolutionary Guards, who Western powers say are key to Iran's nuclear programme, shipping firms and its energy sector, Western diplomats say.

Last week Italy said it was blocking new Italian investments in the sector. It was not clear if this had prompted the protest at the Italian embassy in Tehran.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said members of Iran's Basij militia had attacked the embassy with stones.

"About a hundred Basij dressed as civilians tried to assault the embassy shouting 'Death to Italy' and 'Death to Berlusconi (Italian Prime Minister)'," he told the Senate in Rome, adding that police had intervened to "stop a full-blown assault."

Analysts say Iran will need a few months to reconfigure the Natanz plant to refine uranium to higher purity.

It may also have difficulty obtaining crucial components due to U.N. sanctions, said the analysts.

Salehi told state TV late on Monday that Iran was still prepared to carry out the fuel swap if its conditions were met:

"The president announced that we will start production of 20 percent enriched uranium, but he has kept the doors of interaction open ... which means we would stop working (enrichment to 20 percent) if they provide us the necessary fuel."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Iran's sworn enemy Israel, widely believed to be the region's only nuclear armed state, demanded immediate sanctions against Iran.

"Iran is racing forward to produce nuclear weapons," Netanyahu told European diplomats. "This means crippling sanctions and these sanctions must be applied right now."

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IAEA Fears Iran Move Hurts Chances for Atomic Deal
(for personal use only)

The U.N. nuclear watchdog fears Iran's plan to start producing higher-enriched uranium will damage chances to save a proposed atomic fuel supply deal between Tehran and world powers, its spokeswoman said on Monday.

She confirmed Iran had notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intention to begin refining uranium to a higher level on Tuesday -- a move that will heighten Western suspicions of an Iranian quest to develop atomic bombs.

"IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano noted with concern this decision, as it may affect, in particular, ongoing international efforts to ensure the availability of nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (via the IAEA-brokered draft deal)," spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in a statement.

"(Amano) reiterated the agency's readiness to play an intermediary role on the issue of the Tehran Research Reactor."

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Netanyahu Makes Every Anti-Iran Effort in Russia
(for personal use only)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow to persuade the Kremlin into backing tougher sanctions against Iran, days after media reports revealed that Tel Aviv has dispatched two warships to the Persian Gulf.

The three-day trip, planned weeks ago, will see Netanyahu making every effort in convincing Russian government officials to join the Western-led campaign for additional sanctions against Iran's enrichment activities.

One Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on conditions of anonymity that Netanyahu will have a hard time wooing the Russians, who are helping Iran build a nuclear reactor in the southern city of Bushehr and have so far appeared reluctant in imposing sanctions on the country.

This will be Netanyahu's first official visit to Moscow as Prime Minister. Earlier in September, he paid a secret trip to Russia which lasted less than 24 hours.

The visit comes amid a flurry of reports that two Israeli warships have passed through the Suez Canal on Thursday and are expected to reach Iran's southern waters in the Persian Gulf within the next four days.

Egyptian maritime sources leaked the details to Yediot Ahronot on Saturday, adding that Cairo has adopted tight security measures to ensure the safe passage of the Israeli ships through the canal.

Tel Aviv, which is reported to have an arsenal of 200 atomic warheads itself, accuses Iran of having the intention to develop nuclear weapons and routinely threatens to reduce the country's enrichment sites to rubble.

This is while Iran, unlike Israel, is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has opened its enrichment facilities to UN inspection.

A report released by the US Office of Naval Intelligence in December has confirmed that if Israel decides to bomb Tehran's nuclear sites, Iran's naval modernization and maritime capabilities have reached a point where it can seal off the Strait of Hormuz, through which nearly 40 percent of the world's oil supplies pass.

"Given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran," said the intelligence report.

"[World economies would suffer] a serious economic impact from a sustain closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum supplies and (liquefied natural gas)," ONI said.

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Iran Reports 'Very Good' Nuclear Talks, UN More Muted
Simon Sturdee
(for personal use only)

Iran's foreign minister said he held "very good" talks Saturday on a possible breakthrough deal on nuclear fuel but the head of the UN atomic watchdog said there were no fresh proposals from Tehran.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said that Manouchehr Mottaki had made "no new proposals" to him in the talks, held on the sidelines of a major security conference in Munich, Germany.

"Our meeting covered a variety of areas. That included of course in Iran and the Tehran research reactor. We had a very interesting discussion ... There was not a new proposal. We exchanged views," Amano told reporters.

Mottaki was tight-lipped on what exactly was discussed, but insisted that Iran was serious about striking a deal and that he believed an agreement was possible "in the near future."

"We discussed and exchanged views about a wide range of issues ... We also exchanged views about the proposal that is on the table. I tried to explain the views of the Islamic republic of Iran for the director general," he said.

Mottaki said that such a deal, which would be seen as an important breakthrough in Iran's standoff with the West, "would be a way out of the present conditions."

Iran appeared to reject last October a deal proposed by the IAEA for Iran to export low-enriched uranium (LEU) to France and Russia to be further purified into fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly made an apparent about-turn on Tuesday, however, saying on national television that he would have "no problem" sending some LEU abroad.

EU and US officials, wearied by years of fruitless talks to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and ease concerns about its atomic ambitions, suspect the move is brinkmanship to avert a fourth round of sanctions.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates said in Ankara that talks on "some kind of other deal on the research reactor" than that proposed by the IAEA would have to take place within the formal setting of the Vienna-based agency.

"My view is, that's a discussion that the Iranians would better hold with the IAEA than at the Munich conference or in press conferences by president Ahmadenijad if they are prepared to take up the original proposal," he said.

The EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton agreed that Tehran had to talk to the IAEA.

"Iran must now respond to the director general of the IAEA," she said in Munich. "The Tehran research reactor proposals are an attempt to build badly needed confidence."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country, along with fellow UN Security Council member China, is seen as less keen on more sanctions, also urged Iran to work through the UN watchdog.

"What we want from Iran is to verify very specific questions, raised time and again by the IAEA a long time ago, it is not a difficult thing to do," he said in Munich.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said any fresh sanctions must target Tehran's ability to develop nuclear weapons "and not be expanded to cultural, humanitarian, economic parts of Iranian activity."

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power plant in the city of Bushehr.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Friday in Munich that Beijing was sticking to its position that a "mutually acceptable" solution to the spat could "somehow" be found.

"This issue has entered a crucial stage. The parties concerned should, with their overall long-term interests in mind, step up diplomatic efforts, stay patient and adopt a more flexible, pragmatic and proactive policy," he said.

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China's Role Positive in Efforts to Resume North Korea Nuclear Talks: Seoul Official
Lee Chi-dong
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

A flurry of diplomatic activity on North Korea bodes well for the fate of the troubled six-way talks on the communist state's nuclear program, a senior South Korean government official said Tuesday.

The North's top nuclear envoy Kim Kye-gwan arrived in Beijing Tuesday as Wang Jiarui, a top Chinese Community Party official in charge of international affairs, wrapped up his trip to Pyongyang.

In a meeting with Wang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly reiterated Pyongyang's commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, although no further details were disclosed.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon's top political adviser Lynn Pascoe was also due in Pyongyang later Tuesday.

"Those brisk diplomatic efforts are a positive sign in efforts to bring North Korea back to the six-party talks," the official told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity.

He added that the nuclear talks may be resumed at an early date, given the pace of diplomatic efforts.

"It is hard to expect when the six-way talks will be resumed but it is clear that a positive mood is being created," he said.

The official said South Korea has no plan yet to send its own special envoy to Pyongyang, however.

"We will first need to monitor the development of diplomatic efforts by China and other related parties," he said.

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Kim Wants 'Nuclear-Free Korea'
Al Jazeera
(for personal use only)

North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong-il, has reiterated his country's goal of a nuclear-free peninsula in talks with a visiting Chinese envoy.

Kim held talks with Wang Jiaru, head of the Chinese Communist Party's international department, on Monday in Pyongyang, a meeting that analysts said may indicate moves towards resuming six-nation negotiations on the North's nuclear ambitions.

According to Chinese state media reports on Tuesday, Kim reiterated "the country's persistent stance to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

In another high-profile visit to the country, Lynn Pascoe, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, is expected to arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday.

The North Korean leader also sent Kim Kye-gwan, his top nuclear envoy, to Beijing on Tuesday raising speculation that the stalled disarmament talks could be set to resume.

China is the North's biggest benefactor and is seen as having the most influence on the reclusive state.

China's official Xinhua news agency also reported that Pyongyang will promise to make progress in nuclear disarmament in return for Chinese economic aid.

The stalled aid for disarmament talks, brokered by Beijing, bring together envoys from the US, Russia, Japan, China and North and South Korea.

'Dedicated to denuclearisation'

According to South Korean media, Wang's trip is his fifth since 2004, and that he has met with Kim on all previous visits.

A year ago, Kim assured Wang that North Korea remains "dedicated to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" and wanted to move international talks forward, according to Xinhua.

North Korea walked away from disarmament talks last year in protest at international condemnation of a long-range rocket launch.

The country later conducted a nuclear test, test-launched a series of missiles and restarted its plutonium-producing facility, resulting in widespread condemnation and tighter UN sanctions.

As conditions for returning to the talks, the North wants Washington to agree to hold formal peace talks aimed at ending the 1950-1953 Korean War, as well as a lifting of UN-backed sanctions.

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Envoys Expected to Press North Korea on Nuclear Talks
Jun Kwanwoo
(for personal use only)

A senior Chinese official trying to restart stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations held more talks in North Korea Monday, as Pyongyang accused Seoul of plotting to topple its regime.

The visit by Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party's international department, comes shortly before UN chief Ban Ki-moon's top political adviser Lynn Pascoe is due in Pyongyang.

South Korean media forecast that Wang, who has met leader Kim Jong-Il several times in the past, would hold another meeting with him later Monday on the last full day of what Beijing calls a "goodwill" visit.

China hosts the six-party nuclear talks which its ally North Korea quit last April, a month before staging a second nuclear test.

Beijing's Xinhua news agency said Wang Monday met Choe Thae-Bok, a senior official of the North's ruling communist party. They reaffirmed their friendship and "exchanged views on other issues of common concern," it said.

As conditions for returning to the nuclear forum, the North wants Washington to agree to hold formal peace talks and seeks a lifting of United Nations sanctions.

In an apparent conciliatory gesture to Washington, Pyongyang on Saturday freed a US missionary who had crossed the border last December 25 on a lone campaign to publicise its rights abuses.

The message to Seoul was less conciliatory.

A statement from two North Korean security ministries said Pyongyang has a secret strike force to counter what it called Seoul's plots.

"We have world-level ultra-modern striking force and means for protecting security which have neither yet been mentioned nor opened to the public in total," the statement on official media said without elaborating.

The North, which often alleges such plots, cited Seoul's demands that Pyongyang undertakes to scrap nuclear weapons before any broader settlement of differences.

The ministries also criticised efforts by the South's military to defend the disputed Yellow Sea border -- where the North fired artillery late last month -- and "reckless" operations to destabilise the North.

They complained about "the daily escalating" scattering of propaganda leaflets by balloon, which were now penetrating deep into the country from border areas.

Despite the tough talk, the North has been pushing to revive business projects with the South since it was hit by tougher sanctions for its missile launches and nuclear test last year.

The two sides held talks Monday about a possible resumption of tours which earned the cashapped state tens of millions of dollars a year before they were suspended.

South Korea's unification ministry said it would demand safety guarantees before it restarts tours to the North's Mount Kumgang resort.

Seoul suspended the trips after soldiers in July 2008 shot dead a Seoul housewife who strayed into an off-limits military zone there.

The North has long been hostile to the South's conservative government, which linked major aid to progress in denuclearisation. It blamed Seoul for the tourist's death and refused to let it hold an on-site investigation.

The unification ministry said the North must explain during Monday's talks in Kaesong how the tragedy happened and must adopt measures to prevent any recurrence.

About 1.9 million visitors, mainly South Koreans, have visited the Seoul-funded Kumgang resort since it opened in 1998. Over a decade the tours earned the North a total of 487 million dollars.

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C.  India

'Nuclear Power Vital for India's Future Energy Needs'
Business Standard
(for personal use only)

The growing energy needs of a developing country like India could only be met by ramping up nuclear power capacity, former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairperson and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) secretary Anil Kakodkar has said.

“India’s total power demand-supply gap will widen to 412 Gigawatt (412,000 Megawatt) by 2050,” Kakodkar said delivering a lecture on ‘Perspectives in Nuclear Energy’ as part of the Lucknow University (LU) Convocation Week here.

To bridge this chasm, the country would need to import 1.6 billion tonnes of coal annually by 2050 to generate enough power to meet the energy demands.

“The only practical solution to meet the heightened energy demand would be to increase nuclear power generation in future,” he said adding India had already proved its credentials as a leading nuclear technology state.

He said nuclear energy was safe, secure, sustainable and had no residual issue.

“Already 16-17 per cent of the energy needs in developed economies are being met with nuclear power,” Kakodkar, who had played a strategic role in clinching the 2008 Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, added.

There are 16 operating nuclear reactors in the country, while a couple of more would join the league.

“However, we have to move in a calibrated and cautious manner before the domestic private sector is drawn into partnering the nuclear power generation space,” the eminent scientist later told Business Standard on the sidelines.

He noted the private sector had to come in after a stage, since the public sector Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) was cash rich and had enough resources to generate 10,000 Mw power.

“The nuclear power sector has a different business dynamics as these projects cannot be left midway, a dimension which the private sector has to learn before foraying,” he observed.

Kakodkar, who is a former Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) director, informed the current nuclear power capacity stood at 4,000 Mw, while projects totalling 7,000 Mw were underway. “Besides, other 10,000 Mw projects have also been proposed.”

He was in the team of scientists, which had successfully carried out Pokhran-I (1974) and Pokhran-II (1998) nuclear tests.

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Government Mulls Nuclear Trade Policy
The Economic Times
(for personal use only)

The government may frame a policy for undertaking international civil nuclear commerce that will also have specific provisions for conducting trade with countries where it has not signed a bilateral agreement on the peaceful use of atomic energy. India has signed operational agreements on peaceful use of atomic energy with countries such as US, France, Russia, Canada.

The department of atomic energy (DAE)-formulated draft guidelines for supply of nuclear and non-nuclear materials, equipment and components from such counties will be required assurance of their peaceful use by the two governments, said a government official requesting anonymity.

The draft guidelines provide that all future nuclear commerce (even with countries where India has no agreement) would be subject to fulfilling the conditions contained in operational agreements on peaceful use of atomic energy. These agreements provide that nuclear commerce would happen only with peaceful use assurance, application to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, provision of adequate physical protection, conditions for re-transfer, confidentiality of information and intellectual property rights. The proposed policy will facilitate civil nuclear commerce and help accelerate the growth nuclear power generation capacity in the country, he said.

“As India will be required to give assurance to the governments of supplying countries for any nuclear trade happening between entities in the two countries, it is necessary to have a policy resolution,” he said.

“The policy will be finalised after taking views of all stakeholders,” said the official. The draft guidelines also provide for strict monitoring mechanism in all future arrangement of civil nuclear commerce. Trading entities will have to keep the DAE in the loop all times for such transactions.

As per the draft, such entities will first have to get authorisation from DAE. The importers will have to furnish details of the final contract for carrying nuclear commerce within 30 days of such authorisation. On delivery of items, the importing entity will again have to get the department’s certification and get it verified within 30 days of the transfer. The government will be within its rights to physically verify the deliveries. The DAE may also suspend or revoke an authorisation. Any authorisation will be specific to an individual entity and shall be non-transferable.

India has 17 operating nuclear power reactors and plans to increase the current capacity of 4,120 Mw to 10,000 MW by 2012. The signing of Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal is expected to increase India’s nuclear power generation capacity to 40,000 MW by 2020.

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Indian Government Hails Test of Nuclear-Capable Missile
Channel NewsAsia
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India successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile on Sunday, a defence ministry spokesman said, days after the government proposed a resumption of talks with Pakistan.

The surface-to-surface Agni-III missile with a range of more than 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles) was fired from Wheeler Island, off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa.

"It hit the target with pin-point accuracy and met all the mission objectives," ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told reporters in New Delhi.

The trial meant "now the missile system will be fully inducted into the armed forces," he said.

It was the fourth test of the weapon, which can carry conventional or nuclear payloads of 1.5 tonnes and uses solid fuel.

Defence Minister A K Antony congratulated organisers on the "remarkable success" of the project, which came as a breakthrough appeared possible in India's fraught relations with Pakistan.

India on Wednesday said it was open to foreign secretary-level talks with its neighbour, signalling an improvement in ties badly damaged by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

The two nuclear-armed nations launched a peace dialogue in 2004 that helped lower tensions but India halted talks after the Mumbai siege and refused to restart them until Islamabad brought those behind the attacks to justice and cracked down on militant groups on its soil.

India blamed the assault on its financial hub on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.

Observers said India's latest proposal of talks would not amount to a resumption of the full-scale dialogue, but would be a step in that direction.

The United States, battling the Taliban in Pakistan's neighbour Afghanistan, is keen to calm friction between New Delhi and Islamabad to prevent any further regional instability.

Pakistani officials have pushed Washington to persuade India to resume the dialogue, claiming the perceived threat from India limits Pakistan's capacity to fight Al-Qaeda and its own Taliban insurgency.

The rival countries have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two over Kashmir, which is divided between them but claimed in full by both.

Large separatist protests have erupted in Indian Kashmir over the last week, sparked by allegations that the police were responsible for the deaths of two teenage boys.

The Indian-built Agni-III missile was first tested in 2006 and brings major cities in China, such as Shanghai, within striking distance, defence analysts say.

The missile tested on Sunday was fired from a mobile rail launcher, government sources said.

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D.  Nonproliferation

Iran to Host International Nuclear Disarmament Summit
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Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast has said that Tehran will host an international conference on nuclear disarmament in three months.

“The Islamic Republic will host an international conference on nuclear disarmament which will be held in the Iranian capital Tehran in May,” Mehman-Parast said in an interview with Mehr News Agency on Sunday.

“We believe if those countries that have concerns about the use of nuclear weapons demonstrate a realistic commitment to disarmament, we would be witnessing a world void of nuclear weapons,” he asserted. “Those who possess such weapons must also show such commitment in practice by destroying their atomic armaments.”

“We insist that all countries must be committed to nuclear disarmament,” Mehman-Parast reiterated. “On that basis, a summit will be held in Tehran with the participation of the leading international figures and nuclear experts from diverse countries.”

Iran took a swipe at the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide and urged the international community to help promote global disarmament in late December.

"Iran has made a suggestion for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation to the international community," Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili said in Tokyo on December 20, 2009.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran and Japan have the potential to expand cooperation on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to establish a world free of nuclear arms," he added.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

China Plans Three Westinghouse Nuclear Plants - Paper
The Star
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China has finished initial design work on its first three inland nuclear power plants, all of which will use technology developed by Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba, China Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The paper quoted Wang Binghua, chairman of China's State Nuclear Technology Corp (SNPTC), as saying the three projects, using Westinghouse's third-generation AP1000 technology, will meet all requirements for construction to start this year.

The projects are at Taohuajiang in Hunan province, Xianning in Hubei province, and Pengze in Jiangxi province, the paper said.

All of China's existing nuclear projects are on the coast. Future inland projects will also use AP1000 technology, SNPTC said.

Westinghouse and U.S. engineering firm Shaw Group Inc are already building four AP1000 reactors at two sites in Shandong and Zhejiang provinces.

Westinghouse is competing with France's Areva, Russia's Rosatom and Chinese technology for market share in China, which is planning a massive nuclear build as part of a push to wean itself off coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Two third-generation reactors designed by Areva are being built in southeast China's Guangdong province.

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Argentina Announces Completion of Third Nuclear Plant by End of the Year
Merco Press
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Argentina will complete work on its third nuclear power plant by the end of the year, Planning Minister Julio De Vido said at a press conference. Last April, De Vido said work on the plant, called Atucha II, wouldn't be finished until the first or second quarter of 2011.

De Vido said the government also will finish new work on the bi-national Argentine-Paraguayan Yacyreta hydroelectric plant this year. Once finished, the two projects will add 2,000 megawatts to the national power grid, he said. That will increase Argentina's total power generation capacity by about 10%, he said.

The energy tsar downplayed recent power outages, saying they have affected only 0.5% of users, but that figure refers only to clients in Greater Buenos Aires. Blackouts have affected millions of users in other areas.

The Atucha II plant, which is expected to generate around 700 megawatts, will provide about 3% of Argentina's total power output. Atucha II was originally supposed to come online more than 20 years ago in 1987. The project was stalled for 14 years because of “inexplicable” political and economic reasons, De Vido said last year.

Atucha II is being built in front of Atucha I.

The 360 megawatt Atucha I came online in 1974 while the country's second nuclear power plant, the 650 megawatt Embalse, began operating a decade later. Nuclear power typically accounts for around 5% of Argentina's electricity.

Argentina re-launched its nuclear power program nearly three years ago amid worsening energy woes. Shortages of natural gas used to power conventional generation plants began to appear in early 2004.

To meet its generating needs, Argentina has to import gas from Bolivia as well as liquefied natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago.

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Egypt to Build Its First Nuclear Power Plant
RIA Novosti
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Egypt will build its first nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean coastal town of El-Dabaa, reviving the country's civilian nuclear power program after more than two decades, the El-Ahram newspaper said on Monday.

Egyptian authorities announced in 2007 plans to build nuclear power facilities in the country to meet the increasing demand for electricity.

The north African state's nuclear program was originally suspended after the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986.

The paper quoted Egyptian energy minister Hassan Younes as saying the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant would take about 9 years. He said the decision to build the plant in El-Dabaa was based on a report by a team of international experts.

The minister was quoted as saying the construction would cost from $1.5 to $2 billion.

Russia, the U.S., China and the European Union support Egypt's peaceful nuclear program and have offered their assistance to the country's government.

In March 2008, during Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's visit to Moscow, Russia and Egypt signed an agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The document stipulates Russia's right to participate in tenders to build nuclear power facilities in Egypt.

In 2009, the Egyptian authorities officially invited Russia to participate in a tender to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant

Egypt, which possesses large reserves of uranium ore, has two experimental nuclear reactors, one of which was constructed in 1958 by the Soviet Union. The other was bought from Argentina.

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Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant Running After 1 More Test
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Iran's atomic chief says the long awaited launch of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the South of the country will be complete after one more test.

"We have successfully completed a test known as the 'metallic sphere' and are now contemplating the warm water test in order to get the power plant open and running," Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday.

"After the mentioned tests we will be able to load nuclear fuel to the core of the reactor," he added.

According to the Bushehr project manager, Mahmoud Jafari, preparations for the warm water test will take about 50 days due to the vastness of the project area.

In January 1978, Germany's Kraftwerk Union, which according to a contract was obliged to complete Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor, stopped work on the project with one reactor 50 percent complete and the other reactor 85 percent finished.

In 1995, Russia was granted the contract to complete the work on the Bushehr nuclear power plant, a project that has so far been delayed by the Russian contractor, Atomstroiexport.

The Bushehr plant was originally scheduled to be completed in 1999 but the work has repeatedly been postponed.

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F.  Links of Interest

Interview With Iran Rep. to IAEA Soltanieh
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Fissile Material Puzzle
Khalid Iqbal
The Nation
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Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Says
Jonathan Tirone
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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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