1. Al-Qaeda Interest in Nuclear Weapons 'Strong': US
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The United States delivered a chilling warning Monday that Al-Qaeda's interest in nuclear weapons was still "strong" and said the risk of nuclear terrorism was "real," "serious" and "growing."
American officials said ahead of a 47-nation nuclear security summit here that there was intelligence that Osama bin Laden's group was continuing to pursue its "murderous agenda" by trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
But they did not characterize that intelligence, or disclose whether Al-Qaeda was making progress in stealing unsecured enriched uranium and plutonium stocks or was active on the nuclear black market.
"Al-Qaeda has been engaged in the effort to acquire a nuclear weapon for over 15 years, and its interest remains strong today," said John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top anti-terrorism and homeland security advisor.
Brennan said he had "no indication that Al-Qaeda has a nuclear weapons capability," and was "determined" that the group would never get one.
But he warned: "the threat of nuclear terrorism is real, it is serious, it is growing," adding that there was "indisputable" evidence that dozens of terrorist groups had sought weapons of mass destruction.
Brennan's comments reflected a subtext to the nuclear conference -- how realistic are dire warnings that terror groups could acquire the materials for a weapon, and then turn them into a deliverable atomic device.
In the same vein, Obama must use the meeting, which closes on Tuesday, to convince fellow world leaders, that their nations are just as at risk from the spectre of nuclear terrorism as the United States.
Brennan stressed that the capacity of al-Qaeda to procure nuclear weapons was directly linked to the vulnerability of nuclear materials, so the best way to reduce the threat was to protect unsecured stockpiles.
His comments came as Obama prepared to welcome leaders and senior officials from 46 other nations to the nuclear security summit, and Ukraine announced it would dispose of all its highly enriched uranium by 2012.
Washington is trying to encourage other nations to take similar steps, and wants global powers to agree a set of concrete actions to safeguard nuclear material in weapons, nuclear reactors at at other sites.
Obama on Sunday conjured up the dire prospect of a nuclear attack on New York, London or Johannesburg, and warned that Al-Qaeda would have "no compunction" against using a device that could hundreds of thousands of people.
The thought of nuclear terrorism has worried US policymakers for years, but the threat took on horrific new dimensions following the September 11 attacks in 2001 -- the worst-ever strike on US soil.
Brennan would not say whether the threat posed by vulnerable nuclear stocks had got worse in recent years, but said the increasing prevalence of nuclear power generation could prove a headache in the coming years.
"As you have an expansion of nuclear programs, peaceful programs, there is going to be an increase in the nuclear by-products that come out of those facilities, as well as the expertise that is available to run them."
"But the availability of this material is going to be a factor of how well we're able to plug those gaps, plug those holes and address the vulnerabilities that are out there."
A new Harvard University report published on Monday said that the threat still loomed large from nuclear terrorism, despite some progress in securing vulnerable materials.
The Securing the Bomb 2010 report, found there had already been 18 documented cases of theft or loss of plutonium or highly enriched uranium.
It noted a 2010 break-in by unarmed peace activists at a Belgian base where US nuclear weapons were reportedly stored and a 2007 armed attack on a South African site housing hundreds of kilograms of highly-enriched uranium.
"Nuclear terrorism remains an urgent danger to world security, and securing nuclear weapons and materials within four years would dramatically reduce the risk," said Associate Professor Matthew Bunn of Harvard University's Project on Managing the Atom, who authored the report.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iAvlmz326AR1ILsk0aeEiCVqYY2A
Too many governments around the world don't believe terrorists can "go nuclear" and that complacency is slowing efforts to lock down the makings of atomic bombs, experts said Monday on the sidelines of President Barack Obama's nuclear security summit.
"There are a number of people inclined to think that maybe concerns about nuclear terrorism are alarmist, that terrorists could never make a functioning nuclear weapon," said former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of an international nuclear study commission.
Evans and others, who staged an unofficial parallel "summit" of more than 200 specialists from dozens of countries, said they believe a crude nuclear weapon is within the capabilities of al-Qaida and other groups.
"It is possible, plausible and, over time, probable" that a "determined and well-financed" terrorist group will set off a nuclear blast somewhere, said U.S. nonproliferation expert and ex-ambassador Robert Gallucci.
The assembled scientists, arms negotiators, policy scholars and others applauded Obama's hosting of the two-day summit of leaders of almost 50 nations, to rally support for his goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide within four years. But the experts said the job would require a long-term commitment and leadership by the U.S. In particular, they urged the U.S. to ratify a 2005 treaty amendment requiring protection of its domestic nuclear materials.
"It's a remarkable fact that the host of this nuclear security summit hasn't gotten around to ratifying this amendment," said Harvard University's Matthew Bunn. "It's a little embarrassing."
Evans, familiar with the presummit negotiations among governments, said he expected Tuesday's final communique would focus on the need for more countries to ratify the amendment.
Pakistani physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy warned Pakistan and India are building up their nuclear arsenals and questioned Pakistan's assurances that security is airtight for its bomb material.
"Unfortunately, I do not see this concern either in Pakistan or India about nuclear terrorism," he said. "Both countries do not see the seriousness of this situation."
Terrorists with a crude bomb wouldn't necessarily target American or European cities, Gallucci said. "Any country that has suffered serious terrorist attacks, foreign or domestic, needs to take this threat seriously."
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5je2r_eRi_-vYLyAXQYTkuxKCliBwD9F1NLN00
President Hu Jintao leaves Beijing Monday on a 10-day, four-nation trip to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and cement relations with emerging South American economies.
Hu will be among some 40 heads of state and representatives of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union attending the nuclear summit initiated by US President Barack Obama. The summit is mainly aimed at deterring nuclear terrorism, which the US considers a top threat to its national security.
Nuclear experts have described Hu's attendance at the summit as of great significance to global efforts in fighting nuclear terrorism.
Kenneth Luongo, president and founder of the Partnership for Global Security and co-chair of the Fissile Materials Working Groups (FMWG) - a group of more than 40 leading nuclear security and non-proliferation experts - said: "It is enormously important that Hu is coming. It shows China's commitment to the prevention of nuclear terrorism and to nuclear security not just in the country but globally."
Fu Mengzi, an expert on Sino-US relations, said China - as a "notable nuclear power" and a permanent member of the UN Security Council - has a special responsibility to prevent nuclear threats.
US nuclear experts said they hope to see more cooperation between China and the United States in this area.
"China has done a lot (in nuclear security) and there is more to do. I would like to see cooperation between China and the United States grow beyond cooperation between civilian agencies and include military agencies," said Professor Matthew Bunn of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, co-principal investigator for the Project on Managing the Atom.
China is very important to the US and the world, said Alexandra Toma, a nuclear security expert with the group Connect US Fund. "The Chinese can bring their expertise and experience into the discussion."
However, some Chinese nuclear experts consider the summit a means by which the US will press other nuclear countries, including China, for more compromises in their nuclear arms strategies.
The US signed a landmark disarmament treaty with Russia on Thursday, and according to Zhang Xiaodong, deputy chief of the Chinese Association for Middle East Studies, the agreement now pushes the status of other nuclear countries, including China, into the limelight.
The US is trying to gain the upper hand to press others to follow suit, said Wu Miaofa, an analyst at the China Institute for International Studies.
The US and Russia vowed to limit their nuclear warheads to 1,550 each over the next seven years.
"Even as the US pledges a 'nuclear-free world', it has announced plans to spend billions of dollars in updating its nuclear laboratory and advance its missile defense system which has prompted some countries to seek to develop their missile systems and nuclear weapons," Wu said.
China put forward a non-nuclear policy 46 years ago, and other countries should learn from it, said Wu.
China advocated as early as in 1964 - the year it tested its first nuclear bomb - that the world's nuclear weapons be destroyed completely. China also pledged that it would not use its nuclear weapons first and will not use them against countries without nuclear capability.
Hu will leave for Brasilia from the US to attend the Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) summit April 14, and also visit Venezuela and Chile.
Available at: http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/6946626.html
President Obama is asking world leaders to commit to a new international offense against nuclear terrorism — a threat so dire that it could challenge "our ultimate survival."
At a first-ever summit of 47 countries to address the problem of "loose nukes," Obama will push for specific steps toward his goal of securing in four years the world's vast quantity of vulnerable nuclear material, such as uranium that could be enriched for a weapon. The summit begins today, but discussions will start in earnest Tuesday.
Obama said "the single biggest threat" to U.S. security is the possibility of a terrorist organization with a nuclear weapon.
"If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating," he said Sunday before meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, who is attending the summit.
Also attending: presidents, prime ministers and kings from countries such as Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Jordan.
Obama continues one-on-one meetings with leaders today, and on Tuesday, the group will sign a "high-level communiqué" that recognizes the seriousness of the threat and outlines efforts to secure or eliminate vulnerable stockpiles, according to Gary Samore, the White House senior adviser for non-proliferation.
The summit is "intended to rally collective action," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes says.
The meetings will present their own security challenge for the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies because there will be so many world leaders at one time in Washington.
Samore says several countries will announce plans to eliminate or better protect their stockpiles.
Securing nuclear material is a challenging but necessary job "because the global stockpile of nuclear weapons materials is large enough to build 120,000 nuclear bombs (and) because Osama bin Laden considers it his religious duty to obtain nuclear weapons and to use them against the United States," says Alexandra Toma of the Fissile Materials Working Group, a 40-member coalition dedicated to securing nuclear material.
Five countries — the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and France — are internationally recognized nuclear powers and have signed on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which pledges to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technology. India, Pakistan and North Korea also have nuclear weapons, and Israel is suspected of having warheads, according to the non-partisan Arms Control Association. Israel does not admit or deny having them.
The United States and Russia hold the overwhelming majority of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, the material that could be used to build a crude but devastating bomb.
According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nuclear-security group run by former Democratic senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, there is no comprehensive inventory of the world's nuclear material. But 672 research reactors have been built worldwide and 272 operate in 56 countries, most at universities or other research centers where security is lax, the group says.
"Much of the nuclear materials that are potentially vulnerable or could be used for nuclear weapons are actually in the hands of private industry, so government regulation is a very important component," Samore says.
Some of the material already has been stolen, according to Harvard University's Matthew Bunn, author of Securing the Bomb. "Nuclear theft is not a hypothetical worry," he says. "It's an ongoing reality."
The International Atomic Energy Agency, a watchdog arm of the United Nations that monitors the use of nuclear power and technology, has documented 18 cases involving the theft or loss of plutonium or weapons-grade uranium, mostly occurring in the former Soviet Union. The IAEA says a majority of these cases have not had a pre-identified buyer and "amateurish character" and "poor organization" have been the hallmark of some of the cases involving unauthorized possession of materials.
In Prague last year, Obama said, "Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound."
Government efforts have been made to secure nuclear material in recent years. Last week, the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) worked with officials in Chile to remove nuclear material from reactors near Santiago and transport it to the USA.
The agency has removed all significant amounts of highly enriched uranium from 18 countries, helped convert 60 reactors in 32 countries to the use of safer, low-enriched uranium and closed seven reactors.
The NNSA also has secured highly enriched uranium in more than 750 buildings worldwide and safely stored 2,691 kilograms of nuclear material.
Despite those efforts, in 2008, the Commission for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction warned, "Unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack" by 2013.
Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-04-11-nukesummit_N.htm
5. Ukraine to Get Rid of Highly Enriched Uranium: U.S.
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Ukraine will get rid of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by 2012, the White House said on Monday in the first tangible result from a 47-nation summit aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Ukraine intended to remove a "substantial part of its stocks" this year and would convert its civil nuclear research facilities to operate with low enriched uranium fuel.
The United States would provide financial and technical assistance to Ukraine and was likely to store some of the highly enriched uranium on U.S. soil, he said.
The move by Ukraine, which voluntarily gave up the nuclear weapons it had inherited with the collapse of the Soviet Union, is designed to make it harder for terrorists to get hold of fissile material that could be used in an atomic bomb.
"Today Ukraine announced a landmark decision to get rid of all of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by the time of the next nuclear security summit in 2012," Gibbs told reporters at a nuclear summit hosted by President Barack Obama.
"This is something that the United States has tried to make happen for more than 10 years. The material is enough to construct several nuclear weapons," Gibbs said.
Diplomats said the summit's final communique may urge nations to convert nuclear reactors using highly enriched fuel into reactors using low enriched fuel, which is harder to adapt to produce nuclear weapons.
Gibbs said the United States was a more secure location for the highly enriched uranium than many other places in the world and lauded Ukraine for its decision.
"This demonstrates Ukraine's continued leadership in non-proliferation and comes in an important region where we know a lot of highly enriched uranium exists," he said.
Gibbs said the location for the 2012 nuclear summit would likely be announced on Tuesday.
The goal of the Washington summit is to reach a common understanding on the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and agree on a plan to secure all loose nuclear material within four years to prevent terrorists from getting it.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63B54120100412
6. Washington Nuclear Security Summit of High Importance -- IAEA
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stressed on Saturday the importance of Washington Nuclear Security Summit in facing nuclear terrorism.
Director of Department of Nuclear Safety and Security in IAEA Anita Nilsson said, in a press release, that the Washington Nuclear Summit, set for Monday, would be vital in fighting nuclear terrorism.
She also noted the role of the IAEA in supporting these efforts.
Nilsson said that the large number of participants in the summit reflected the real threat of nuclear terrorism, noting that measures to reduce and eliminate these threats would be discussed.
Further, she said that the IAEA could help countries of effective national nuclear security systems, in order to face any possible attempts of possessing radioactive nuclear material for terrorist purposes.
Available at: http://www.khabrein.info/news/Washington_Nuclear_Security_Summit_of_high_importance____IAEA_1270960457/
1. Russia's Medvedev Says Energy Sanctions Against Iran Unlikely
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev doubts that energy sanctions will be imposed against Iran.
"If we're talking about energy sanctions, I'll tell you my opinion. I don't think on that topic we have a chance to achieve a consolidated opinion of the global community," Medvedev told the ABC News TV channel.
He also said trade or arms trade sanctions were unlikely to be imposed.
"Sanctions should be smart. They should not lead to humanitarian catastrophe where the whole Iranian community would start to hate the whole world. And we're worried that there are a significant number of people who have radical opinions. Do we want these radical thoughts to be sent out to the whole world?" Medvedev said.
Medvedev is in Washington for an April 12-13 summit on nuclear safety.
Russia has consistently said that it wants to see the Iranian nuclear dispute resolved through diplomacy. However, Russia seems to be moving closer to the U.S. stance that sanctions are unavoidable.
"Tehran is not responding to a number of constructive compromise proposals and we cannot close our eyes to this," Medvedev said on Thursday.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20100412/158540072.html
Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog spurned the US nuclear summit opening on Monday, saying any decision taken at the conference is not binding on nations absent from the event.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a key member of the Iranian team engaged in negotiations with world powers over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, also accused Washington of being the "real" threat to global peace given its large nuclear arsenal.
"The outcome of the Washington conference is already known. Any decision taken at the meeting is not binding on those countries who are not represented at the conference," Soltanieh told ISNA news agency.
US President Barack Obama was later Monday to open the nuclear security summit which is being attended by leaders of 46 other countries.
Iran, which is at loggerheads with the United States over its atomic programme, is not represented at the conference.
But the US State Department has said that efforts to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear programme will be a "significant" topic during the meeting.
Iran has been under mounting global pressure to abandon its nuclear programme, with Western powers fearing it wants to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says the programme is peaceful and only meant to produce energy.
Iran has already been slapped with three sets of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the spectre of more looms, spearheaded by Washington and some western nations.
The two-day Washington summit aims to raise issues of safeguarding unsecured uranium and separated plutonium stockpiles and averting the nightmare scenario of extremist groups acquiring nuclear weapons.
Soltanieh said it was Washington that was "the real threat to international security with its nuclear weapons."
"The new US (nuclear) policy proves Islamic Republic of Iran's argument that the US is not committed to any global rules and regulations," he said referring to Washington's latest nuclear policy unveiled last Tuesday.
Top Iranian officials led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have expressed deep anger at the policy, which limits Washington's use of its nuclear arsenal but singles out Iran and North Korea as exceptions.
Iran, meanwhile, will hold its own two-day nuclear disarmament conference on April 17 and 18.
Iran is yet to unveil the list of participants attending its conference but officials say delegations from the UN nuclear watchdog and the UN would be attending.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gGZ-ttZb6SAgE5shbubZMZudsZ2g
3. U.S., Israeli Attack on Iran Would Be 'Unacceptable' - Russia Military
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Any airstrike against Iran by the United States or Israel would be "unacceptable," the chief of the Russian General Staff Nikolai Makarov said on Monday.
"This is a last resort that exists in the plans of both the United States and Israel," Nikolai Makarov said.
Western powers suspect that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at making weapons, while Tehran claims it is pursuing nuclear technology for its civilian energy needs.
Makarov said that the Iranian leadership should also take into account that "the whole world is concerned about the [nuclear] problem."
"We should hear Iran and Iran should hear us and the global community, and undertake measures," Makarov added.
He also said that other states are likely to follow suit if Iran develops nuclear weapons.
"If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it might become an impetus for other states, and lead to further expansion of the nuclear club," he said, adding the Russian military department was against such a scenario.
He added that Russia's decision on whether to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran should be made by the country's leaders.
"This decision should be made at state level. We, the military, will follow the leadership's commands," Makarov said.
Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of at least five S-300 air defense systems to Tehran in December 2005. However, Moscow has not so far honored the contract, which many experts say is due to pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv.
Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and have expressed concern over S-300 deliveries, which would significantly strengthen Iran's air defenses.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20100412/158538895.html
4. Iran to Complain to U.N. Over Obama Nuclear "Threat"
Ramin Mostafavi and Hashem Kalantari
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Iran will lodge a complaint with the United Nations about what it sees as U.S. President Barack Obama's threat to attack it with nuclear weapons, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Obama made clear last week that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons -- something Tehran interpreted as a threat from a long-standing adversary to attack it with nuclear bombs.
"The recent statement by the U.S. president ... implicitly intimidates the Iranian nation with the deployment of nuclear arms," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised meeting with military and security officials.
"This statement is very strange and the world should not ignore it since in the 21st century, which is the era of support for human rights and campaigning against terrorism, the head of a country is threatening to use nuclear war."
Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the semi-official Fars news agency Iran would lodge a formal complaint to the United Nations, a move backed by a letter signed by 255 of Iran's 290 members of parliament.
Obama is pressing other global powers to agree to a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies.
Reflecting fears of attack on its nuclear sites from the United States or its closest Middle East ally Israel, the defense ministry said Iran had started producing a prototype of an advanced anti-aircraft missile system.
"The Mersad air defense system ... is able to destroy modern aircraft at low and medium range altitude," the ISNA news agency on Sunday quoted Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi as saying.
"The mass production of this product has begun and in the course of the current year a large number of them will be delivered to the armed forces," he said.
While Iran hopes the development of its own system will make it more self-sufficient in weapons defense, it is also urging Russia to resist Western pressure not to deliver the S-300 missile defense system it has ordered.
On Friday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran's nuclear program was "irreversible" despite limits on importing foreign technology and the threat of new sanctions, and he unveiled a prototype of an improved centrifuge which would enrich uranium faster than existing models.
Western analysts say Iran has exaggerated progress in the past to bolster domestic pride about its nuclear program and to improve its bargaining position with major powers.
The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization played down the idea that Iran faced big technical hurdles.
"Iran's nuclear issue is not a technical issue ... we are not in a hurry. Second generation centrifuges will be mass produced in the next few months ... in a year we will have prototype cascades of the third generation," Ali Akbar Salehi told ISNA.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63A0I920100411?rpc=401&
Iran unveiled its third generation of nuclear centrifuges and a facsimile of the nuclear fuel produced for the Tehran research reactor at a ceremony held on Friday at Milad Tower to commemorate the country’s National Nuclear Technology Day.
The third generation of centrifuges is more efficient and can enrich uranium faster. The separating power of these centrifuges is six times higher than its predecessors.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Ali-Akbar Salehi made speeches outlining the country’s nuclear achievements at the ceremony.
Ahmadinejad said sanctions cannot hinder Iran’s nuclear progress. “No country can halt the Iranian nation’s progress,” he stated.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Ahmadinejad called the new nuclear arms reduction treaty, known as the new START pact, which was signed by the United States and Russia in Prague on Thursday, a big lie.
He reiterated Tehran’s position that Iran is prepared to conduct a nuclear fuel swap and to share its nuclear expertise with its neighbors.
Ahmadinejad proposes new bloc of countries seeking nuclear disarmament
Ahmadinejad said nuclear disarmament will not be materialized by those who produce and possess nuclear weapons.
For over 60 years, they have been saying that they seek to curtail the production of nuclear weapons, but all their policies have focused on the development of such weapons, he noted.
He also called on independent countries to make efforts to establish a new grouping with the goal of eradicating nuclear weapons.
Bushehr plant to come on stream by summer
Salehi announced that the Bushehr nuclear power plant would become operational by summer.
The AEOI director also announced that the sites where the new enrichment facilities will be built have been selected.
On the geological studies, he said considerable reserves of uranium have been found in Yazd Province and new exploration projects are under way.
In conclusion, Salehi elaborated on the country’s nuclear achievements, saying they have applications in the medical, agricultural, and industrial spheres.
Final test of Bushehr nuclear power plant conducted
The main and final test needed before the Bushehr nuclear power plant can start producing electricity was also conducted on Friday.
The warm-water test at the 1000-megawatt Bushehr plant was carried out and all the facility’s equipment was examined at high temperatures.
Iran has announced that it needs to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear energy over the next two decades to meet the energy demands of its growing population.
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=216993
1. South Korean Government: South Korea, U.S. Do Not See DPRK as Nuclear Power
Xinhua News Agency
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Seoul's foreign ministry said Monday South Korea and the United States do not recognize the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a nuclear power, playing down U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent remark that Pyongyang possesses up to six nuclear weapons.
"The international community, including South Korea and the U.S. , has maintained a firm position that North Korea (DPRK) cannot obtain nuclear power status," the ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun told reporters in a press briefing.
Kim's remark comes in apparent contrast with Clinton's description last week of the DPRK as a country that has already acquired up to six nuclear weapons, despite the U.S. government's official position not to acknowledge Pyongyang as a nuclear weapons state.
The foreign ministry said Seoul and Washington see eye to eye on the issue, apparently belittling the comments of the top U.S. diplomat.
"We understand that Secretary Clinton's remark was meant to emphasize the importance of the international community's efforts to denuclearize the North," Kim said, adding that she is believed to have mentioned the DPRK along with Iran as an example of countries "actively seeking" nuclear arms.
"There could be many different assessments on the North's nuclear capabilities, but we believe specifics should be confirmed through thorough verification," the spokesman said.
Pyongyang conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and has refused to return to nuclear disarmament talks hosted by China.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-04/12/c_13247476.htm
Pyongyang will never abandon its nuclear development program, but the belligerent dictatorship of Kim Jong Il will not launch a nuclear attack, according to the highest-level defector from North Korea.
Hwang Jang Yop, who served as secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and was an aide to Kim, also said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Thursday that Japanese citizens abducted by the reclusive country might still be alive.
Hwang, who defected to South Korea in 1997, visited Japan from Sunday through Thursday. It was his first trip to Japan in 13 years.
In the one-hour interview at a hotel in Tokyo, Hwang was asked if it was possible for North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
He replied, "Absolutely not."
But he also said: "Pyongyang is often threatening (other countries), saying that it will soon start a war. But it will not use nuclear weapons."
Observers of North Korea say the purpose of the nuclear program is mainly to strengthen Kim's grip on power as his health deteriorates.
The defector said the North Korean regime is in no danger of collapsing for the time being because Kim has consolidated his power by promoting only those who show unconditional loyalty to him.
"The degree of dictatorship has become 10 times stronger than that in the era of his father (Kim Il Sung)," Hwang said.
Hwang said 20 percent of the country's revenues become ruling party funds that can be used freely by Kim.
"Fifty percent is used in the military field, and the remaining 30 percent is offered for the lives of the people," Hwang said.
As for reasons why North Korea abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, Hwang said, "Pyongyang needed Japanese-language (speakers) to train spies to engage in activities in Japan."
Hwang said he didn't know much about the fates of the Japanese who were taken to North Korea. "But there is a possibility that some are still alive," he said.
After North Korea in 2002 acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese, five returned to Japan. But Pyonygang said the others were dead. Japan has disputed Pyongyang's claims about the deaths.
Hwang said a resolution in the conflict will require Japan to isolate and pressure Kim "mentally" by appealing the human rights issue to international society, as well as gain cooperation from China.
Available at: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201004090421.html
1. Pakistan Nuclear Weapons at Risk of Theft by Terrorists, US Study Warns
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Pakistan yesterday came under increased pressure over its nuclear arsenal when a Harvard study warned of "a very real possibility" that its warheads could be stolen by terrorists.
The rising concern about poorly-guarded nuclear weapons and material was the subject of an extraordinary two-day summit which began in Washington yesterday. Last night, Ukraine became the latest country to volunteer to give up its stores of highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used in weapons, and switch its research reactors to low-enriched uranium.
There was still considerable anxiety at the Nuclear Security Summit over the safety of more than 2,000 tons more HEU and weapons-grade plutonium stored in 40 countries. There were also persistent doubts over the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, assured Barack Obama the country has an "appropriate safeguard" for its arsenal, understood to consist of 70-90 nuclear weapons.
However, a report by Harvard University's Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, titled Securing the Bomb 2010, said Pakistan's stockpile "faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth".
Experts said the danger was growing because of the arms race between Pakistan and India. The Institute for Science and International Security has reported that Pakistan's second nuclear reactor, built to produce plutonium for weapons, shows signs of starting operations, and a third is under construction.
At their White House meeting on Sunday, Obama pressed Gilani to end Pakistan's opposition to an international treaty that would ban the production of new fissile material for nuclear warheads, plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU), but the Pakistani leader showed no signs of bowing to the pressure, US officials said.
Pakistan's insistence that India reduces its stockpile first prevented talks on the fissile material cutoff treaty from getting under way in Geneva last year. Yesterday, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, added to the pressure on Pakistan by calling for talks at the multilateral conference on disarmament to start, warning that "nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats we face today".
Both the US and Britain have declared themselves satisfied with Pakistan's security measures for its nuclear weapons, despite the rise of the Pakistani Taliban and other extremist groups. But yesterday's Harvard report said there were serious grounds for concern.
"Despite extensive security measures, there is a very real possibility that sympathetic insiders might carry out or assist in a nuclear theft, or that a sophisticated outsider attack (possibly with insider help) could overwhelm the defences," the report said.
It also warned that weaknesses remained in measures Russia had taken in recent years to guard its nuclear stockpile, the world's largest.
The nuclear security summit, which began yesterday in Washington, brings together leaders and officials from 47 nations, with the aim of focusing global attention on the danger of nuclear terrorism. The summit will endorse Obama's goal of locking up the world's stockpiles of plutonium or HEU within four years.
The Harvard report warned that the world "is not yet on track" to meet that deadline. Its author, Matthew Bunn said: "Sustained White House leadership will be needed to overcome complacency and convince policymakers around the world to act."
As a contribution to the aims of the summit, the US and Russia are due to sign an agreement in Washington to take 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium out of their reserve stockpiles and use it for the generation of nuclear power. Other leaders are being called on to make concrete pledges in the main session today.
Last week, Malaysia adopted much-delayed export controls to prevent its ports being used as channels for the black market in nuclear equipment. Last month, Chile shipped all the HEU from its research reactors to the US for safekeeping.
Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/12/pakistan-nuclear-weapons-security-fears
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