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Nuclear News - 4/15/2010
PGS Nuclear News, April 15, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Nuclear Security Summit
    1. IAEA Hails Results of Nuclear Security Summit, Xinhua News Agency (4/14/2010)
    2. South Korea to Host 2nd Nuclear Summit As It Eyes Bigger Role in International Community, Xinhua News Agency (4/14/2010)
    3. Nuclear-Fuel Recycling Debated as Obama Holds Summit, Viola Gienger, Bloomberg (4/13/2010)
    4. Summit Agrees to Protect Nuclear Stocks 'In Four Years', BBC News (4/13/2010)
    5. Mexico to Slash Weapons-Grade Uranium, UPI (4/13/2010)
B.  Iran
    1. Brazil Still Discussing Iran Trade Finance Plan, Shaimaa Fayed, Reuters (4/14/2010)
    2. Six Powers Meet Again on Iran Sanctions, Associated Press (4/14/2010)
    3. Medvedev: Iran 'Ignoring Questions' About Nuclear Program, Jill Dougherty, CNN (4/14/2010)
    4. US Officials: Usable Iran Bomb Not Imminent, Associated Press (4/14/2010)
    5. Iran Could Have Nuclear Weapon in 3-5 Years: Top US Official, Olivier Knox, AFP (4/14/2010)
    6. Turkey Wants Details on Proposed Iran Sanctions, Associated Press (4/14/2010)
    7. Iran Announces Batch of Higher Enriched Uranium, Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press (4/14/2010)
    1. Seoul Summit to Pressure North Korea, The Korea Herald (4/14/2010)
    2. North Korea Renews Call for Peace Treaty With U.S. Before Denuclearizing, Yonhap News Agency (4/14/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Korea, US to Tackle Nuclear Energy Pact, Na Jeong-ju, The Korea Times (4/14/2010)
    2. Bangladesh OK's Nuclear Power Plant Deal with Russia, Reuters (4/13/2010)
E.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Mongolia to Develop Biggest Untapped Uranium Field With Russia, Yuriy Humber , Bloomberg (4/14/2010)
    2. Canada Loses Status as Biggest Uranium Producer After 17 Years, Anna Stablum, Bloomberg (4/13/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Experts Praise Nuclear Security Summit, Call for Follow-through and Accountability, Fissile Materials Working Group (4/14/2010)
    2. Who Are The World's Nuclear Powers?, Reuters (4/13/2010)
    3. Video: Next Generation Nuclear Security Summit, Fissile Materials Working Group (4/12/2010)
    4. Presentations: Next Generation Nuclear Security Summit, Fissile Materials Working Group (4/12/2010)
    5. Obama Endorses Work of Nuclear Experts Group, Fissile Materials Working Group (4/8/2010)

A.  Nuclear Security Summit

IAEA Hails Results of Nuclear Security Summit
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

As the nuclear security summit wound up on Tuesday, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hailed the achievements made at the convention.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said at a post-summit press conference that representatives from 47 countries had an extensive discussion about the nuclear security issue and pledged wide and strong support for the IAEA's activities, which was a great achievement.

He noted that during the summit, some countries pledged more contribution to the IAEA which is in need of resources to implement its programs to provide information and advice as well as other assistance to its member states.

The director general warned that the threat of nuclear terrorism is real and immediate and the IAEA receives one new report every two days on average, informed of incidents involving illicit trafficking of nuclear or radiological materials.

Although the nuclear security summit has yielded a communique and a work plan on how to secure nuclear materials and facilities, Amano believes whether the goal can be fulfilled depends on how many efforts countries can actually make in this regard.

Amano also applauded Chinese President Hu Jintao's speech at the panel session about the nuclear security issue. It was the first time for a Chinese leader to air China's views on nuclear security at a multilateral event.

"I highly commend the efforts by China," he said.

The two-day nuclear security summit was concluded on Tuesday night, with participating countries agreeing to strengthen international cooperation in securing nuclear materials and facilities and stemming nuclear terrorism.

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South Korea to Host 2nd Nuclear Summit As It Eyes Bigger Role in International Community
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

As South Korea was chosen to host the Second Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, the country is swarming with high-expectations of expanding its role in the international community.

A number of reasons have been cited for South Korea's selection to host the Second Nuclear Security Summit, namely its regional significance, utilization of safe nuclear technology, and strong alliance with the United States.


South Korea was selected as the host of the Second Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, as U.S. President Barack Obama's nomination of South Korea was unanimously approved by all participants of the first-ever Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. "I am pleased to announce that President Lee (Myung-bak) has agreed to host the next Nuclear Security Summit in the Republic of Korea in two years,"Obama said at the opening of a plenary session. "This reflects South Korea's leadership regionally and globally," Obama added.

Lee in response vowed to do his best to make the next summit a success, expressing high hopes for hosting the second international forum on nuclear energy and security.

"The successful hosting of this event would serve as the first step towards achieving mankind's dream of a nuclear-free world," Lee said."This is a profoundly historic meeting, and it has special meanings for a place like the Korean Peninsula, where constant nuclear threats exist," he said.

The Nuclear Security Summit, initiated by President Obama, is a world forum where global leaders from more than 40 countries gather to discuss international cooperation towards a nuclear-free world and prevention of nuclear terrorism.


The South Korean presidential office alluded to the country's regional significance and exemplary role in developing the safe use of nuclear energy as major reasons for its selection to host the second summit.

"Since (South) Korea is directly involved in trying to solve the issue of North Korea's (DPRK) nuclear weapons program, the hosting of the next summit is expected to achieve various effects.

"It is expected to help rally the international community to make a stronger commitment to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem," Cheong Wa Dae said.

Local newspapers said the selection could work as the international community's "warning sign" towards the DPRK's recalcitrance against calls for denuclearization, evaluating the move as President Obama's recognition of South Korea as its " major ally" in battling the DPRK's nuclear development.

President Lee expressed his willingness to welcome the DPRK to the second summit, however, added preconditions are progress in DPRK's denuclearization process by joining the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and resuming the currently stalled six- party talks.

Meanwhile, South Korea's remarkable advancement in the safe utilization of nuclear technology has garnered much international accolades as it is also cited as one of the main reasons for choosing South Korea as the next host.

Exemplifying its safe nuclear energy use, South Korea currently operates 20 nuclear reactors across the country that generates 36 percent of its total energy use -- and no major accidents or reports of malfunctions have occurred since its first nuclear reactor was built in 1978.

And backed by the country's "low-carbon, green-growth" initiative, it is planning to add 19 more nuclear power plants, increasing its reliance on nuclear energy to 59 percent by 2030.

The close alliance between South Korea and the United States was also a major reason in naming the Asian country as the host of the next summit, Lee's office said, as it reflected the close diplomatic ties between the leaders of the two countries.

"The U.S. played a significant role in South Korea's hosting of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, and it goes on to show the close relationship between the two countries built on profound trust and cooperative ties," Cheong Wa Dae said.

"As the host of the 2012 summit, the South Korean government will make certain that all the participating countries will be able to examine implementation of the measures they committed to at the Washington Nuclear Summit while assisting them in establishing new goals,"the presidential office added.


Following Tuesday's announcement, the overriding sentiment in South Korea is that the country may elevate its status in the global community as it will host both the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012 and the G20 Summit this November -- the highest-level conferences in global nuclear security and world economic development, respectively.

"South Korea's hosting of two premier forums on global economy and security proves it is playing a leading role in both of the fields," Kim Eun-hye, spokeswoman of the presidential office said.

Both events will bolster President Lee's "Global Korea" campaign, which is aimed at elevating South Korea's international status, as local media dubbed Tuesday's announcement as "a critical opportunity for South Korea to play a leading role in important global issues, including nuclear security."

South Korea has also been active in exporting its nuclear power technologies recently, as it signed a 40 billion U.S. dollar deal with the United Arab Emirates late last year to build four reactors there, further cementing its presence in the international nuclear power industry.

The inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in Washington was the largest gathering of global leaders called by a U.S. president in recent history, and the second meeting to be held in South Korea in 2012 will be the largest international summit the country has ever hosted in its history, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

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Mexico to Slash Weapons-Grade Uranium
(for personal use only)

Mexico and Ukraine have pledged to eliminate their weapons-grade uranium as 47 nations gathered at a nuclear security summit in Washington.

Mexico's pledge was announced by the White House Tuesday, a day after a similar commitment by Ukraine was unveiled.

Mexico will cooperate with the United States, Canada and the International Atomic Energy Agency to convert highly enriched uranium into lower-grade fuel, BBC News reports.

The two-day summit, the largest hosted by the U.S. government since the end of World War II, has U.S. President Barack Obama meet with 46 world leaders, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao. It is aimed at ensuring that the world's nuclear materials don't fall into extremists' hands.

"I think at the end of this we're going to see some very specific, concrete actions that each nation is taking that will make the world a little bit safer," Obama said Monday.

The summit in Washington comes a week after the United States and Russia signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty and only a few days after Obama softened the U.S. nuclear policy, vowing not to use nuclear weapons against countries that don't have them.

The new policy wouldn't spare Iran or North Korea, neither of which was invited to the summit because of the controversy surrounding their nuclear programs. Iran will have its own nuclear security summit this weekend.

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Nuclear-Fuel Recycling Debated as Obama Holds Summit
Viola Gienger
(for personal use only)

A dispute over the recycling of nuclear fuel by reactor suppliers such as France’s Areva SA surfaced in Washington as U.S. officials sought to skirt the issue during President Barack Obama’s summit.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and former U.S. ambassador-at-large Robert Gallucci called for an end to the fuel-recycling practice yesterday at a conference of experts being held in parallel with Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit.

The summit focuses on keeping separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium out of the hands of terrorists, and Evans and Gallucci said that recycling creates stockpiles of dangerous materials ripe for theft. The practice is drawing attention as the number of nations pursuing nuclear power for their energy needs is expected to double by mid-century, according to the White House.

The position of Evans and Gallucci drew a retort from Areva’s former director of non-proliferation and international institutions, who is attending the meeting of experts.

“Recycling in the proper manner in good conditions can be a support to non-proliferation efforts,” Caroline Jorant, who is leaving Areva to become a consultant, told the meeting organized by the Fissile Materials Working Group, which is supporting Obama’s efforts.

Areva, the world’s largest supplier of nuclear reactors, is the biggest maker of so-called MOX, a mixture of plutonium and uranium oxide. The fuel includes reprocessed plutonium from a spent nuclear fuel processing plant.

Arms Control

The issue, a bone of contention between arms-control advocates and other scientists, is not among those central to the Obama summit, as administration officials seek to forge a consensus among 47 nations on working harder to keep nuclear materials away from terrorists.

“Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history -- the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up,” Obama said today at the summit.

The gathering of world leaders, the latest step by Obama to lay groundwork for ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, is the biggest by a U.S. president since the post-World War II meetings that established the United Nations.

Administration officials said last week they deliberately avoided some of the more contentious issues that wouldn’t have won support from all the participants. The decision was to focus strictly on securing raw materials and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism.

‘Broad and Deep’

“We believe that this in particular is an area where there is a very broad and deep international consensus,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on an April 9 conference call.

Evans said he is concerned that the recycling issue isn’t on the agenda.

“To sort of pretend that this is an issue that’s not a security issue at all,” as some advocates of the process have said, “really is just not plausible,” Evans told his audience.

Reprocessing fuel that has already been used in a reactor so that it can be used again in certain types of plants is different from a plan the U.S. and Russia have agreed on to dispose of 34,000 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough material for about 17,000 nuclear weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will sign the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement today. It was agreed to in principle by then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin in June 2000. Disputes between the two governments over protocols to implement the accord delayed action until now.

Commission Study

Obama hasn’t taken a stance on the specific issue of nuclear-fuel recycling, and a proposal under the administration of President George W. Bush to have the U.S. government set up an international spent-fuel recycling program is stalled.

Obama directed Energy Secretary Steven Chu in January to form a blue-ribbon commission to study “all alternatives for the storage, processing and disposal of civilian and defense used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste” in a way that would be “consistent with U.S. nonproliferation goals.”

The panel is led by former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton of Indiana and Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

Obama has pledged to support nuclear power with steps such as government loans for new reactors as one way to provide a cleaner energy source in his drive to combat climate change.

Nations looking to nuclear power as an essential part of energy strategy “should make sure that plutonium recycling in any form is not part of their plans,” said Gallucci, now president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which finances projects aimed at reducing the risks of nuclear weapons.

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Summit Agrees to Protect Nuclear Stocks 'In Four Years'
BBC News
(for personal use only)

The leaders of almost 50 countries have pledged to secure all vulnerable nuclear material within four years.

US President Barack Obama said the joint action plan agreed at a summit in Washington would make a real contribution to a safer world.

The plan calls for every nation to safeguard nuclear stocks and keep material out of terrorists' hands.

Earlier, Russia and the US signed an agreement to dispose of 68 tonnes of surplus weapons-grade plutonium.

Terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon and, if they ever succeed, they would surely use it

The combined stockpiles - 34 tonnes from each country - are said to be enough to make 17,000 nuclear warheads. US officials said it would be used as fuel in civilian reactors to generate electricity.

The US will provide $400m of the funding for the disposal of Russia's plutonium, which Moscow estimates will cost up to $2.5bn (£1.63bn).

Several other countries - including Mexico, Chile and Ukraine - had earlier agreed to give up their stocks of highly-enriched uranium.

'Non-state actors'

At the end of the unprecedented 47-nation nuclear security summit, Mr Obama announced that the assembled world leaders had agreed a work plan to counter the danger of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists.

One way or another these issues - proliferation, arms control and the security of nuclear materials - are all bound together. They will be discussed again at the forthcoming review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York in May.

In many ways all of Mr Obama's recent efforts - the revised US nuclear doctrine, the new Start treaty with Russia, this nuclear security conference - are all preparation for that event. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

It is widely regarded as ailing, badly in need of repair. That is the next item on Mr Obama's nuclear "to do" list.

"Today, we are declaring that nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security," he said.

"We also agreed that the most effective way to prevent terrorists and criminals from acquiring nuclear materials is through strong nuclear security."

"[This] is a testament of what is possible when nations come together in a spirit of partnership to embrace our shared responsibility and confront a shared challenge," he added.

In a joint communique, the leaders agreed to non-binding measures to "secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years" and to "prevent non-state actors from obtaining the information or technology required to use such material".

They said they would co-operate more deeply with the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and share information on nuclear detection and ways to prevent nuclear trafficking.

But increased security should "not infringe upon the rights of states to develop and utilise nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and technology", they added.

Progress is to be reviewed at a summit in South Korea in 2012.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, who is at the summit, says the deal depends upon the will of participating governments to take action.

There can be no guarantees of progress, but it is clear the Obama administration intends to keep this issue at the top of the global agenda, he adds.


Earlier, Mr Obama warned that although the risk of nations using nuclear weapons had lessened, "the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up".

"Terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon and, if they ever succeed, they would surely use it," he said.

"Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world, causing extraordinary loss of life and striking a major blow at global peace and stability."

He warned that a quantity of radioactive material just "the size of an apple" would be enough to kill thousands of people.

The two-day summit is the biggest international meeting hosted by the US since 1945.

It is taking place without representatives of Iran and North Korea, neither of which were invited by the US because of disputes over their nuclear programmes.

In a defiant move, Iran has announced that it will hold its own nuclear summit in Tehran this weekend with the foreign ministers of 15 countries.

It is estimated there are about 1,600 tonnes of highly enriched uranium in the world - the type used in nuclear weapons.

Experts agree that virtually all of it is held by the acknowledged nuclear-weapons states, most of it in Russia.

Last week, the US and Russia signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start), committing them to each reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 - 30% lower than the previous ceiling.

Mr Obama has also approved a new nuclear policy for the US, saying he plans to cut the nuclear arsenal, refrain from nuclear tests and not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them, unless they do not comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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B.  Iran

Brazil Still Discussing Iran Trade Finance Plan
Shaimaa Fayed
(for personal use only)

Brazil has not finalised a plan to fund exports to Iran, the Brazilian trade minister said on Wednesday referring to a move that would boost engagement with Tehran as Western states seek to tighten sanctions.

Brazil wants to increase exports to Iran, which reached $1.2 billion last year and included beef, steel, and car parts. Experts say the real figure is higher as many goods are shipped via Dubai.

Brazil's finance minister, Guido Mantega, said on Tuesday the government would finance exports of food to Iran.

"We are discussing the possibility to have a fund for financing exports from Brazil to Iran," Development, Industry and Trade Minister Miguel Jorge said in Cairo after holding talks in Tehran this week.

Asked if Brazil was concerned about sanctions on Iran, the minister told a news conference: "The question should be driven to the companies ... They are not worried about the possibilities of the sanctions."

Brazil said on Tuesday that United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme could make the Islamic Republic more radical and cause its population to revolt.

Brasilia has urged continued dialogue with Iran even as Western powers push for a new round of sanctions in the U.N. Security Council over a programme they believe is aimed at developing nuclear bombs. Iran denies any such aims.

Jorge was in Cairo for talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, that included discussion of a free trade agreement with the North African country, which is also the Arab world's most populous nation.

German carmaker Daimler (DAIGn.DE) said earlier on Wednesday it will almost entirely sever business ties to Iran, including halting a plan to export trucks, citing the policies of the current Iranian leadership.

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Iran Announces Batch of Higher Enriched Uranium
Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Iran has succeeded in producing its first significant batch of further enriched uranium, the country's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday, a move defying U.N. demands to halt the controversial program.

The uranium has been enriched from around 3.5 percent to 20 percent purity, needed to fuel a medical research reactor, Salehi said, according to the ISNA news agency. That level is far below the more than 90 percent needed to build a nuclear weapon, but U.S. officials have expressed concern Iran may be moving closer to the ability to reach weapons-grade level.

Washington is accelerating its campaign for a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend enrichment, as demanded by the United Nations. Salehi's announcement was a further sign of Tehran's determination to push ahead with the program.

Tehran began the further enrichment in February after talks stalled over a U.N.-brokered proposal that the United States hoped would at least temporarily leave Iran unable to produce a warhead. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon, a claim Iran denies.

Under the proposal, Iran was to send 2,420 pounds (1,100 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium abroad, where it would be further enriched to 20 percent and converted into fuel rods, which would then be returned to Iran for use in the research reactor. Doing so would leave Iran with insufficient low-enriched uranium to further purify to weapons-grade level.

But Iran made counterdemands on the deal that the U.S. and its allies rejected, saying they would thwart the goal of the swap. Among Tehran's proposals were that the swap be simultaneous or that smaller amounts of low-enriched uranium be sent abroad.

Iran says a nuclear fuel swap with the West proposed under the U.N.-drafted plan still is on the table, saying there was tacit agreement on the amount and timing of the exchange but that the two sides need to talk on the venue.

The U.S. is working to gather support at the United Nations for a new round of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend enrichment entirely, as demanded by the United Nation.

Salehi's announcement was a sign Iran was determined to move ahead in the program.

He said so far 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of 20 percent enriched uranium has been produced. He said just over 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) a month was needed to run the research reactor in Tehran.

On Feb. 11, days after the further enriching began, Iran announced that it had succeeded in producing a few ounces (grams) of the material.

However, Iran must first process the material into fuel rods, and it is not clear if it yet has the know-how to do so. The research reactor produces medical isotopes, including material for treating cancer and other diseases that the government says will go to treating some 850,000 people.

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Iran Could Have Nuclear Weapon in 3-5 Years: Top US Official
Olivier Knox
(for personal use only)

Iran could make enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb in one year but would most likely not be able to field a usable weapon for 3-5 years, top US military officials said Wednesday.

General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, also cautioned often impatient lawmakers that a limited US military strike was not likely to be "decisive" in halting Tehran's suspect atomic program.

Cartwright agreed with Democratic Senator Jack Reed that US-sought sanctions on Iran were not "a magic wand" and told the Senate Armed Services Committee: "Military activity alone is not likely to be decisive either."

Pressed by lawmakers, Cartwright said it would take the Islamic republic one year to make enough weapons-grade uranium and 3-5 more years to field such a weapon if and when it made the decision to pursue such a plan.

He warned he was making "an historical estimate" and stressed "I can't tell you what problems they will encounter" but "experience says that it's going to take maybe 3-5 years" for Tehran "to have a deliverable weapon that is usable."

Iran denies Western charges that its atomic program hides a covert quest for nuclear weapons, but has defied UN demands that it freeze its uranium enrichment process, drawing several rounds of international sanctions.

Cartwright and Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, the head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, declined to say whether the US spy community had revised its 2007 finding that Iran's nuclear weapons program is dormant.

Burgess told the committee that a new US National Intelligence Estimate was in the works but that "we do not have insight that the regime has made the decision to move in that direction."

US officials say Iran could act on separate tracks to build up its ability to make a nuclear weapon and the missile technology to deliver it, making it hard to determine how close Tehran is to having an atomic arsenal.

"There are many pieces to this puzzle," US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy told the lawmakers. "I think there's always a question of what you don't know."

Flournoy repeated that "all options are on the table" -- code for the possible use of military force -- but underlined: "At this moment in time, we believe that there are other options that need to be pursued in their fullest."

To that end, the United States is pursuing a new round of UN sanctions on Iran with "urgency," and believes that Russia and China, long reluctant to back such measures, are "likely" to sign on, a top US diplomat told the hearing.

"I think it is likely that we will be able to produce a Security Council resolution," said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns. "I hope very much in weeks. We're going to work very, very hard."

He was speaking as the six major powers resumed closed-door talks in New York Wednesday seeking to hammer out a new sanctions package with a US draft resolution on the table, a diplomat familiar with the talks said.

But asked whether Moscow and Beijing would agree to cut off Iran's imports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products, as envisioned by the US Congress, Burns replied: "That's going to be very difficult to achieve."

Republican Senator John McCain expressed frustration at repeated, unfulfilled warnings of coming US sanctions, saying: "We keep pointing the gun. We haven't pulled a single trigger yet, and it's about time that we did."

In his testimony, Burgess said Iran had a "largely defensive" military posture and was "unlikely to initiate a conflict intentionally or launch a preemptive attack" but could temporarily close off the nearby Straits of Hormuz -- a key shipping route for Middle Eastern oil.

And "Iran has gone to great lengths to protect its nuclear infrastructure by locating facilities in buried, hardened facilities. It also seeks to protect them by acquiring sophisticated air defense systems," he said.

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Medvedev: Iran 'Ignoring Questions' About Nuclear Program
Jill Dougherty
(for personal use only)

Iran is ignoring questions from the international community about its nuclear program, using "small phrases" to make "small suggestions," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.

Medvedev said he does not support crippling sanctions that can hurt the people of Iran, "but if nothing happens, we will have to use sanctions."

The Russian president made his remarks during a question-and-answer session after a wide-ranging and, at times, humorous speech at the Brookings Institution, a prestigious Washington think tank. The address came at the end of a two-day summit on nuclear security hosted by President Obama.

Sanctions, Medvedev said, should be "smart" and "universal," aimed at one result, and should be discussed with the main countries that will take part in them.

The Russian president described the nuclear summit as a "complete success" and said nuclear terrorism "is a threat to all of us."

Asked what the next steps on non-proliferation should be, Medvedev said "more work" and ratification of the START arms control agreement, which he signed with Obama in Prague, Czech Republic, last week.

"It would mean Obama and I did not work in vain," he said.

The two presidents, he said, had agreed that ratification of the START treaty in the U.S. Senate and in the Russian Duma should be "simultaneous." The next 10 years, he said, will be peaceful, as long as "things contained in the agreement's preamble" do not happen.

"We worked out a statement that the treaty will be in effect as long as anti-ballistic-missile principles will not contradict the principle of the treaty," he explained.

Russia continues to oppose U.S. plans for a missile defense shield that Moscow claims would make Russia vulnerable to attack.

Asked his opinion on the recent political violence in the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgystan, in which the president was pushed from power, Medvedev said he believes "it is on the verge of a civil war."

'We don't want it to turn into a failed state," he said. "If it happens, it will attract terrorists and create the basis for radical movements." The task now, he said, is to help Kyrgystan to "form a viable government motivated by the interests of the Kyrgyz people."

The 44-year-old president drew laughs from the audience of Russia experts and politicians as he described his tech-savvy relationship with the 48-year-old American president. He said that statesmen can "become slaves" to the information provided to them by their aides. By using the Internet, he said, whatever he and Obama read, they can check out online.

"It's a very important advance," he said, "it's an alternative source of information."

He said Obama and he "don't e-mail each other" but added "maybe that would be a good idea. We could exchange e-mails or text messages," which he said would be faster and more direct.

Medvedev said he used to read the paper and watch TV in the morning, but now he does everything online, following media "that love the Russian president, that hate the Russian president."

"I don't have a perfect picture of what is going on so it's useful," he added. He said he started a blog on his Web site "and now the governors are doing it." He said bureaucrats used to be scared of criticism from superiors; now, they're frightened by comments on Web sites.

In a strikingly candid comment, Medvedev said Russia is overly dependent on raw materials, and if the worldwide economic crisis had not happened, "we would be living on inertia."

"I'm happy the crisis happened," he said. It was bad that the economy fell and people lost jobs, he explained, but "it should change our mindset -- but so far it hasn't changed." He said ordinary Russians are waiting for oil prices to rise again "but the problem is this is top-down development."

He said the main challenge is to develop other areas of the Russian economy like technology, atomic energy, pharmaceuticals and energy efficiency.

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Six Powers Meet Again on Iran Sanctions
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Six major powers are holding a second round of talks on possible new sanctions against Iran for refusing to negotiate on its nuclear program, which the U.S. and others suspect is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

The United States and its Western allies are pressing for quick adoption of an array of tough sanctions, but Russia and China are still hoping that diplomacy will lead Iran to the negotiating table and have indicated they will only agree to much weaker measures if Tehran refuses.

On the table at Wednesday afternoon's meeting is a draft U.N. resolution circulated by the United States in January, with some changes proposed by Britain, France and Germany.

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Turkey Wants Details on Proposed Iran Sanctions
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Turkey says the big powers on the U.N. Security Council are not keeping other members informed about the sanctions against Iran being discussed.

Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that his country still opposes sanctions against one of its important neighbors.

Davutoglu said the five permanent members of the Security Council have not provided any details to rotating members, including Turkey, about the content of sanctions being discussed. He asked: "How can we decide if we don't have any idea about the sanctions?"

Davutoglu made clear that Turkey does not believe that any sanctions will help defuse the controversy over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

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US Officials: Usable Iran Bomb Not Imminent
Associated Press
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Iran could build a nuclear bomb in a year's time if it wants to, but would need more time to make the weapon usable against an enemy, U.S. officials told Congress on Wednesday.

A U.S. military attack on Iran is still an option to try to stop or slow progress to a bomb, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy said, but not an attractive one.

President Barack Obama has said he won't "take any options off the table with respect to Iran," Flournoy said. "Now, that means to me that military options remain on the table."

The administration has not concluded that a nuclear Iran is inevitable, Flournoy said, and considers the nation's potential to develop and use such weapons a primary national security threat.

Having said that Iran could amass sufficient highly enriched uranium to build one bomb in roughly a year, Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that a nation driving for a weapon generally needs three to five additional years to make the leap to a bomb it can field.

The timeline Cartwright cited Wednesday could be shortened if Iran pursued ways to deliver a weapon at the same time as it worked to build a bomb.

Iran is also pursuing an aggressive ballistic missile program, and with outside help could produce an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the United States, a top intelligence official told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

That is not the same thing as saying that Iran is closing in on the means to launch a nuclear attack on the United States, but the comments were among the Obama administration's most precise public assessments of Iran's military abilities and intentions.

"While it is unlikely to initiate a conflict intentionally or launch a pre-emptive attack, Iran uses its military forces to defend against both external and internal threats," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, told the committee.

Iran can temporarily restrict access to the strategic Strait of Hormuz and "threaten U.S. forces in the region and our regional allies with missiles," Burgess said.

Iran has concluded that the benefits of using terrorist groups as surrogates outweigh the costs, Burgess said, and has gone to great lengths to protect its nuclear infrastructure from any potential attack.

The officials would not publicly address whether the U.S. has changed its 4-year-old assessment that Iran isn't actively seeking a bomb. The U.S. government is preparing a new classified assessment of Iranian nuclear ability and intent.

The document is likely to conclude that Iran is at least three years from having a fully usable bomb, including the time it takes to test a weapon and attach it to a missile or other means to deliver it to an enemy shore. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the findings are classified, said Iran's recent testing and other development operations suggest a more active pursuit of weapons technology, but the officials cautioned that the intelligence assessment may not conclude that Iran is now on a full drive for the bomb.

The United States is leading what Flournoy's State Department counterpart said Wednesday is an urgent drive to apply new international economic sanctions on Iran that could help deter it from choosing the weapons path. The idea is that if an economically strapped Iran concludes that it stands to lose friends, trading partners and international standing by going nuclear, it might choose not to do so.

Testifying beside Flournoy at a sometimes tense Senate committee session, State Department Undersecretary William Burns predicted a resolution will merge from the United Nations Security Council within weeks, and that one-time holdout China will go along. The U.S. wants much more biting penalties than some fellow veto-holding members of the council will support, and Burns would not say how tough he expects the resolution to be.

Iran claims that its accelerated nuclear program is aimed only as producing energy, not weapons.

Iran's nuclear chief said Wednesday his country has produced 5 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium for a medical research reactor, a move in open defiance of the U.N. demands to halt the suspect program. The level of enrichment is well shy of the 80 or 90 percent pure uranium needed to build a nuclear weapon.

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North Korea Renews Call for Peace Treaty With U.S. Before Denuclearizing
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea renewed its call Wednesday for a peace treaty with the United States, demanding an end to "the vicious cycle of distrust" between them before denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

"It is necessary to direct primary attention to building confidence between the DPRK and the U.S., the main parties concerned with the nuclear issue, in order to put the process of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula back on track," Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a signed commentary.

DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"There is no other alternative than to conclude a peace treaty if the vicious cycle of distrust between the DPRK and the U.S. is to be removed and the denuclearization process is to be pushed forward through confidence-building," said the commentary carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has stayed away from the six-way nuclear negotiations since they were last held in December 2008, demanding the start of peace treaty negotiations and removal of U.N. sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's missile and nuclear tests.

The 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice signed between North Korea, China and the U.S. which signed on behalf of the U.N. forces that fought in the conflict.

Seoul and Washington say a peace treaty eventually needs to be signed to formally end the war, but only when North Korea's denuclearization process is well on track.

"If the U.S. truly hopes for the denuclearization of the peninsula, it should stop insisting on the unrealistic assertion that the DPRK 'dismantle its nuclear weapons first,' though belatedly, and promptly respond to concluding a peace treaty with the DPRK," Rodong Sinmun said.

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Seoul Summit to Pressure North Korea
The Korea Herald
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Seoul’s hosting of the second Global Nuclear Security Summit in 2012 is expected to add to international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, experts here said yesterday.

Leaders of 47 countries have endorsed U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for securing all nuclear materials around the globe within four years to keep them out of terrorists’ reach at the first nuclear security summit that ended Tuesday in Washington.

A follow-up meeting will take place in Seoul in 2012, a decision unanimously approved by participating leaders in consideration of two points: South Korea neighbors North Korea and has complied with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“The participating countries appear to have taken into account the fact that the Korean Peninsula is exposed to direct nuclear threats. It is also a result of international recognition of South Korea as the most exemplary nation in terms of its peaceful use of atomic power,” a senior presidential official said.

The close Korea-U.S. alliance and cooperative ties between the two presidents were also reflected in the decision, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

“On the occasion of the 2012 summit, Korea will be able to widely publicize the superiority of its nuclear technologies in terms of safety, thereby further cementing the groundwork for the domestic nuclear industry to make inroads into overseas markets,” the presidential office said in a press release.

Seoul’s hosting of the next summit is also expected to help rally the international community to make a stronger commitment to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem.

Yu Ho-yeol, professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, said the summit in Seoul would have more than just a symbolic effect as it would serve as another opportunity to bolster international cooperation in settling nuclear issues.

“North Korea was not invited to the summit (in Washington) but is one of the targets of the new framework for international cooperation. The participation of China and Russia suggests that the neighboring countries would play a bigger role in efforts to denuclearize the North,” Yu said.

“Although it remains to be seen whether the North would rejoin the six-nation nuclear talks in the near future, the envisioned global efforts for nuclear security would definitely add to pressure on the North to give up its nuclear weapons program.”

President Lee Myung-bak told reporters in Washington that the North could be invited to the next meeting if it takes substantial steps toward denuclearization.

The year 2012 is especially critical for the region, with the North determined to turn itself into a “strong and prosperous country” by that year, the centennial anniversary of the birth of the country‘s late founder, Kim Il-sung, who is the father of the current leader, Kim Jong-il.

South Korea, the United States, China and Russia are expected to select new presidents that year.

“The hosting of the world’s largest security forum to discuss the nuclear issue, including that of North Korea, given the political situations in neighboring nations, is significant in that it will solidify peace on the Korean Peninsula,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

He said the second summit, to be held in the first half of 2012, will also help “solidify the international community’s will to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue as South Korea hosts it as a directly related party.”

“I think North Korea will feel a huge burden,” he said.

North Korea conducted two underground nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, but their success was disputed due to low explosion yields. But the communist nation is said to be advancing its nuclear weapons as well as missile technology.

The reclusive regime withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003 and has been boycotting the six-nation nuclear talks since December 2008.

For Seoul, hosting the next summit is an accreditation of its nonproliferation compliance. Seoul officials emphasize that South Korea is viewed as an exemplary country within the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty system.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Korea, US to Tackle Nuclear Energy Pact
Na Jeong-ju
The Korea Times
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South Korea and the United States have agreed to begin negotiations to revise a bilateral pact on the use of nuclear energy as early as possible, South Korean officials said Wednesday.

The nuclear accord, signed in 1974 and set to expire in 2014, requires South Korea to get consent from the United States to reprocess spent nuclear fuel as a measure against its possible use for military purposes.

Seoul has demanded a renegotiation as the country's storage facilities for spent fuel are expected to reach capacity in 2016.

"On the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C., the two allies held working-level talks to discuss a revision of the nuclear pact," a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity.

"Both sides agreed in principle to renew the accord as early as possible. The negotiations may begin in a few weeks."

The agreement reflects Washington's confidence in Seoul's commitment to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to form closer bilateral ties on tackling nuclear terrorism, the official said.

At the 47-nation summit in Washington, which ended Tuesday, South Korea was unanimously chosen to host the next nuclear summit in 2012.

Officials here indicated that dealing with the nuclear threats of North Korea and Iran, and establishing binding measures against terrorist groups will be high on the agenda at the 2012 meeting.

President Lee Myung-bak said in Washington that he was willing to invite North Korea to the next nuclear summit if it promises to abandon its nuclear ambitions. He returned to Korea, Wednesday.

The country is seeking to complete the revisions of the pact with the U.S. by 2012 and secure the right to reprocess spent fuel in an effort to address growing energy needs here.

The revision, however, could be an extremely sensitive issue and draw international protests because spent fuel and enriched uranium can be used to produce nuclear bombs.

According to the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, the nation uses 4,000 tons of uranium annually to operate 20 commercial reactors nationwide. They supply almost 40 percent of Korea's electricity.

Researchers say once South Korea is allowed to reprocess, about 95 percent of spent fuel can be recycled as an energy source and only 5 percent will become waste.

The revision is also vital for South Korea to further prepare for stiff competition with France, Japan and other nations to secure lucrative overseas deals to construct nuclear power plants.

Last year, a consortium led by the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. won a $20 billion contract to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates, the biggest single contract the country has ever won abroad.

The country is seeking to become a major exporter of commercial reactors amid forecasts that the global demand for nuclear energy will grow continuously.

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Bangladesh OK's Nuclear Power Plant Deal with Russia
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The government in energy-starved Bangladesh has given approval for a deal with Russia to build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant, officials said on Tuesday.

"The approval was accorded at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina late on Monday," Hasina's press secretary Abul Kalam Azad, told Reuters.

He did not say when the deal would be signed.

Bangladesh plans to set up the nuclear power plants at Rooppur, 200 km (125 miles) northwest of the capital Dhaka, to help deal with growing power shortages.

Officials from both sides recently sorted out terms and conditions and the two countries clinched an initial agreement on the project last year, energy officials said.

The plant is expected to cost up to $2 billion and to begin generating electricity by 2014, the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources said.

Growing concern over power shortages led Bangladesh to consider nuclear as natural gas reserves are fast depleting and most coalfields remain unexploited.

The country has nearly 60 power plants, mostly decades old and all fuelled by gas and coal.

A power official said the country of 150 million experiences daily power shortfalls of 2,000 megawatts. Peak-hour demand stands at about 5,500 megawatts.

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E.  Nuclear Industry

Mongolia to Develop Biggest Untapped Uranium Field With Russia
Yuriy Humber
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Mongolia will develop its biggest untapped uranium field in a venture with Russia after revoking Khan Resources Inc.’s permit to exploit the Dornod resource.

The Asian country’s state-owned KOO MonAtom will hold at least 51 percent in a venture with Russia’s government-run ARMZ Uranium Holding and possible partners from Japan or China, according to Mongolia’s Nuclear Energy Agency. Bayarbayasgalan Tudevbazar, nuclear materials chief at the agency, commented in an e-mailed response to questions on April 9.

Toronto-based Khan Resources said yesterday a unit had its Dornod license annulled after accusations it failed to deal with breaches of the law. The company denied any violations and said it would challenge the agency’s decision. Spokesman Jonathan Buick didn’t respond to e-mails seeking comment.

Development of some of the world’s largest untapped mineral resources has been delayed in Mongolia by political infighting and a lack of funds. The nation plans to set up companies to manage the resources and may sell shares to global investors, Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold said in February.

The uranium venture, called Dornod Uranium, will be registered in Mongolia “in the very near future,” Tudevbazar said, confirming the cancellation of Khan’s license.

In November, ARMZ bid 65 Canadian cents a share for Khan, to see it trumped by China National Nuclear Corp. with a 96-cent offer this year. ARMZ let its offer lapse, Khan said in March.

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Canada Loses Status as Biggest Uranium Producer After 17 Years
Anna Stablum
(for personal use only)

Kazakhstan boosted output to become the leading uranium miner last year, delivering almost 28 percent of the world’s nuclear fuel and ending Canada’s 17-year run as the top producer, Ux Consulting Co. said in a report.

Global output rose to 132 million pounds of uranium oxide concentrate, up 16 percent from 2008, with Kazakh production accounting for 80 percent of the increase as new mines started up, the Roswell, Georgia-based company said in a report yesterday.

“Canada slipped into second place with 2009 production totalling nearly 26.5 million pounds,” or 20 percent of world output, UxC said, adding that Canadian production increased 13 percent during the year. Kazakhstan mined about 36.5 million pounds, according to the report.

Uranium for immediate delivery dropped 25 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $41.50 a pound in the week through yesterday, UxC said in the report.

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F.  Links of Interest

Experts Praise Nuclear Security Summit, Call for Follow-through and Accountability
Fissile Materials Working Group
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Who Are The World's Nuclear Powers?
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Presentations: Next Generation Nuclear Security Summit
Fissile Materials Working Group
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Video: Next Generation Nuclear Security Summit
Fissile Materials Working Group
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Obama Endorses Work of Nuclear Experts Group
Fissile Materials Working Group
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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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