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Nuclear News - 4/20/2010
PGS Nuclear News, April 20, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Says to Start Work on New Enrichment Plant, Ramin Mostafavi, Reuters (4/19/2010)
    2. US 'Still Interested' in Nuclear Fuel Swap with Iran, AFP (4/19/2010)
    3. Iran to Talk with Security Council on Nuke Deal, Khaleej Times (4/19/2010)
    4. Backup Plans for Iran, Peter Spiegel, The Wall Street Journal (4/19/2010)
    5. 'Disarmament Summit Showed Promise', PressTV (4/19/2010)
    6. Iran Slams US as 'World's Only Atomic Criminal', Farhad Pouladi, AFP (4/17/2010)
    1. North Korea Dismisses Seoul-Proposed Nuclear Deal as 'Absurd', Yonhap News Agency (4/17/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. US and Russia Highlight Nuclear Partnership, Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press (4/19/2010)
    2. France, Kuwait Sign Nuclear Power Deal, UPI (4/19/2010)
    3. Bangladesh to Sign Nuclear Plant Deal with Russia, AFP (4/18/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. All States Must Have Access to Peaceful Nuke Energy: Kuwait, Kuwait Times (4/19/2010)
    2. South Korea To Support UAE, Jordan Nuclear Infrastructure Building, Bernama (4/19/2010)
    3. Singapore to Start Feasibility Study Into Nuclear Energy, Today (4/19/2010)
    4. Riyadh Seeking Nuclear Energy?, UPI (4/19/2010)
    5. Saudi Arabia Sets Up Nuclear Energy Science Centre, Reuters (4/17/2010)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Former State Leaders Kick Off Nuclear Disarmament Summit in Hiroshima, The Japan Times (4/20/2010)
    2. Russian Floating Nuclear Power Plant Gets Corrosion Protection, The Motorship (4/19/2010)
    3. US Puts Economic Squeeze on Iran, Jon Leyne, BBC News (4/16/2010)

A.  Iran

'Disarmament Summit Showed Promise'
(for personal use only)

The success of the "Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None" summit in Tehran has exceeded all expectations, says conference secretary Mehdi Akhondzadeh.

A two-day international conference on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of atomic weapons kicked off in the Iranian capital on Saturday in a bid to address one of the most important global concerns.

"The presence of foreign delegations in the conference was beyond our expectations," Mehr News Agency quoted Akhondzadeh as saying in a panel discussion on Monday.

The discussion, which was held on the morning of the second and final day of the conference, reviewed the highlights of the talks, which presented a wide range of practical solutions to the looming threat of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Among the highlights discussed in one of the panels were the grave threat posed by Israel's atomic arsenal and its refusal to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Referring to the double standard strategies of nuclear-armed states and their allies, the panel warned against their selectivity and said that impartiality should be used when implementing the non-proliferation policy.

The second meeting of the conference is scheduled to be held in April 2011.

Available at:§ionid=351020104

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Backup Plans for Iran
Peter Spiegel
The Wall Street Journal
(for personal use only)

As the White House's campaign to impose international sanctions against Iran extends months beyond deadlines, some U.S. officials are pushing for other options to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

In one of the clearest signs of the growing concern among top Obama officials over how the U.S. should respond to Iran's accelerating nuclear program, Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January wrote a three-page memo warning that the U.S. needed new policies to deal with Iran's progress toward developing a nuclear weapon.

According to a U.S. official who read the memo, it raised new concerns about how to verify if Iran had developed enough technology to build a nuclear bomb and how to contain Tehran if it became a nuclear power.

Mr. Gates's memo came amid rising concerns in the administration that time was running out for efforts to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Senior U.S. officials have been engaged in a debate about whether to push for tough sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council—which have faced opposition from countries such as China—or to go for a quick U.N. resolution with limited effectiveness.

The Gates memo, the existence of which was reported Sunday by the New York Times, sent ripples through the upper reaches of the administration, according to the U.S. official. "Did it stir up a bunch of new meetings and PowerPoint presentations? No," said the U.S. official. "But a memo from the secretary of defense about anything carries weight, and I think the Gates memo had the desired effect."

The White House over the weekend said Mr. Gates's classified analysis hasn't prompted a rethink within the administration over how to deal with Iran. "It is absolutely false that any memo touched off a reassessment of our options," said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama. "The administration has been planning for all contingencies regarding Iran for many months," Mr. Rhodes said.

In a statement issued Sunday, Mr. Gates said his memo was intended to outline new policy decisions that must be taken in light of the administration's move to "a pressure track" following Iran's rejection of a U.S.-backed compromise that would have frozen Iran's enrichment program.

"The memo was not intended as a 'wake up call' or received as such by the president's national security team," Mr. Gates said. "It presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision-making process."

The need to give Mr. Obama more options for dealing with Iran emerged before Mr. Gates issued his memo, addressed to National Security Adviser James Jones. In his December guidance to his staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, directed them to prepare military options for the White House should Mr. Obama require them.

Navy Capt. John Kirby, Adm. Mullen's spokesman, said the guidance was directed at Adm. Mullen's staff, and not the White House. "It was not—and should not—be construed as a message to the White House or anyone else that Iran policy was in need of more attention," Capt. Kirby said.

Adm. Mullen, speaking Sunday at Columbia University in New York, reiterated that military options were still on the table, but said he continued to believe a strike on Iran could have "unintended consequences" and destabilize the region.

The U.S. has been pushing for tough sanctions against Iran, but such a move would likely require extended negotiations, since China has long resisted such measures, only joining negotiations on this issue this month. Those pushing for more-limited sanctions argue that the U.S. and the European Union could follow quickly with more-severe sanctions on their own.

Mr. Gates alluded to that path in remarks last week during a visit to Peru, where he suggested that he supported a quick move to get rudimentary sanctions through the U.N. so that others could take firmer action.

"I think what is important about the U.N. resolution in many respects is less the specific content than the isolation of Iran by the rest of the world," Mr. Gates told reporters.

"A U.N. Security Council resolution provides a new platform, if you will, a new legal platform for individual countries and organizations, such as the European Union, to impose much more stringent, specific sanctions."

Mr. Gates in not alone in this view. The same day, William Burns, the No. 3 official at the State Department, told a congressional hearing that he believed that the U.N. resolution would clear the way for the EU and other countries to "amplify the impact" of whatever U.N. sanctions are agreed to.

Mr. Burns said that even without a new U.N. resolution, some of Europe's largest and most important oil and financial institutions—including energy groups ENI and Total as well as financial giants Allianz, HSBC and Deutsche Bank—have already pulled their business out of Iran.

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Iran Says to Start Work on New Enrichment Plant
Ramin Mostafavi
(for personal use only)

Iran will start work on a new uranium enrichment nuclear plant, a senior official said on Monday, part of a big expansion of its nuclear programme which has contributed to fears in the West it aims to build a bomb.

Defying Western pressure to curb its sensitive nuclear work, Iran announced in November it planned to expand its enrichment activities by building 10 new sites. The announcement was condemned by the United States and its European allies.

"The president has confirmed the designated location of a new nuclear site and on his order the building process will begin," Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, a senior adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the semi-official ILNA news agency.

"New locations on which the plants should be constructed this year have been determined and the construction will start stage by stage," Samareh-Hashemi was quoted as saying.

Iran's top nuclear official Akbar Salehi told Reuters in February that Iran would start construction of two enrichment sites by March 2011.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has been seeking information from Iran about its vow to build 10 sites, a plan which analysts believe may be largely bluster for now as it would take many years if not decades to execute.

Iran has not notified the International Atomic Energy Agency about the new site, a diplomat close to the Vienna-based body said. Under IAEA rules, countries are obliged to notify the agency as soon as they decide to build a nuclear facility.

Failure to notify the IAEA would not automatically mean the agency would take any action; member states would have to vote on whether action should be taken.

Iran has said it will only alert the agency of a new plant six months before nuclear materials are to be brought into it.


Washington is pushing for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions on Iran in the coming weeks to pressure it to halt its enrichment-related work, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

Iran started higher-level enrichment in February, saying it needed the 20 percent enriched fuel for a research reactor in Tehran making medical isotopes. Such potent material is not necessary to generate electricity.

Western officials fear Iran's move to escalate enrichment is ultimately meant to advance it on the road to generating weapons-grade uranium -- enriched to 90 percent purity.

Tehran has said it is still willing to swap low-level enriched uranium for higher-grade fuel enriched abroad -- a move which would help address fears about Iran's enrichment activities -- but the exchange must happen on Iranian soil.

The West believed it had persuaded Iran, at talks in Geneva last October, to hand over some of its uranium stocks to be enriched abroad, but that deal fell apart soon afterwards.

Samareh-Hashemi said any import of enriched uranium would not mean Iran planned to stop its own enrichment.

"The domestic production of (nuclear) fuel does not contradict importing it," he said.

"We have started to produce uranium domestically based on our need to provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor and this will continue until our needs are met."

In a separate development, state-owned Jam-e-Jam daily said Iran's ambassador to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, would soon be stepping down as his term was coming to an end. Soltanieh was not immediately available to comment.

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Iran to Talk with Security Council on Nuke Deal
Khaleej Times
(for personal use only)

Iran plans to hold talks with all 15 members of the UN Security Council in an effort to break a deadlock over a nuclear fuel deal, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday.

Mottaki said the deal could be finalised in “two weeks” if all sides showed the necessary will.

“In the coming days, we have plans to have direct talks with 14 members of the Security Council and one (set of) indirect talks with a member,” he said, in reference to Washington, which does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran.

“The talks will focus on the fuel exchange (deal). They will be conducted by Iran’s missions in those countries,” he told a press conference after a two-day nuclear disarmament conference hosted by Tehran.

An October 2009 UN-drafted deal to supply nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor by shipping out Iran’s low-enriched uranium in return for higher-grade nuclear fuel produced by Russia and France has hit a deadlock.

The two groups are now at loggerheads as Iran insists it will only be open to a simultaneous exchange to take place inside the Islamic republic, a condition rejected by the world powers.

Washington is leading global efforts to impose a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran amid the deadlock, in a bid to halt Tehran’s nuclear programme which it suspects masks a weapons drive, a charge denied by Iran.

While the United States, Britain and France have shown readiness for new sanctions, the other two UN veto-wielding members — Russia and China — have been hesitant to back such a proposal.

Mottaki said a deal was still possible.

“In principle the issue of fuel exchange has been agreed upon... We think... details could be worked out,” he said, adding that the deal could be operational “within two weeks.”

Tensions have risen further after Washington last week unveiled its new nuclear policy, which officials in Tehran say raises a “nuclear threat” against their country.

Mottaki said any attack against Iran would be like “playing with fire.”

“Those who think of attacking Iran are playing with fire. They will very well realise the consequences of their actions,” English-language Press TV quoted him as saying at the press conference.

“We don’t believe they will attack. We do not see they have the capacity on the ground.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday dismissed a report in the New York Times that a memo he sent to the White House in January about Iran’s nuclear program was intended as a “wake-up call” to the Obama administration.

“The New York Times sources who revealed my January memo to the National Security Advisor mischaracterized its purpose and content,” a statement from Gates said.

It was simply a policy document setting out defense planning as the Obama administration sought to begin applying more pressure on Iran over its suspect nuclear activities.

“The memo was not intended as a ‘wake up call’ or received as such by the president’s national security team,” Gates said.

“Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision making process.”

Earlier on Sunday, in his closing remarks at the Tehran nuclear conference, Mottaki said the forum had rejected any attack on civilian atomic sites as a “violation of international laws.”

The Tehran conference discussed the need to “move toward regions stripped of weapons of mass destruction, especially in the Middle East,” and for Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he said.

Israel, which has never ruled out attacking Iran’s controversial nuclear sites, is widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole but undeclared nuclear weapons power.

Washington too has not ruled out a strike on Iran.

On Saturday, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei branded the United States the world’s “only atomic criminal,” while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Washington to be “suspended” from the UN nuclear watchdog.

Available at:§ion=middleeast&col

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US 'Still Interested' in Nuclear Fuel Swap with Iran
(for personal use only)

The United States said Monday it is "still interested" in an offer to swap nuclear fuel with Iran after Tehran said it would talk with the entire UN Security Council to break the deadlock.

"We're still interested in pursuing that offer if Iran is interested," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, even as Washington consults with its international partners about imposing tougher sanctions against Iran.

Crowley was referring to an October 2009 UN-drafted deal to supply nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor by shipping out Iran's low-enriched uranium in return for higher-grade nuclear fuel produced by Russia and France.

The two groups have been at loggerheads for months as Iran insists it will only be open to a simultaneous exchange to take place inside the Islamic republic, a condition rejected by the world powers.

But Crowley told reporters that "we're still interested in taking that step," the fuel swap offer from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"At the heart of this was the proposal that Iran would ship out significant amounts of enriched fuel and there would be an exchange for a corresponding amount of fuel suitable for" the Tehran medical research reaction," he said.

"Iran has never agreed to that element of the offer," he recalled.

However, he said the deal would "need to be updated" as Iran has been operating centrifuges that enrich uranium in the seven months since the offer was first made.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran plans to hold talks with all 15 members of the UN Security Council in an effort to break the deadlock over the nuclear fuel deal.

Mottaki said the deal could be finalized in "two weeks" if all sides showed the necessary will.

He said the Iranians would have "direct talks" with 14 council members and "indirect talks" with the remaining one, referring to Washington, which does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran.

"The talks will focus on the fuel exchange. They will be conducted by Iran's missions in those countries," Mottaki said.

Washington is leading global efforts to impose a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran amid the deadlock, in a bid to halt Tehran's nuclear program which it suspects masks a weapons drive, a charge denied by Iran.

While the United States, Britain, France and even Russia have shown readiness for new sanctions, China -- the remaining veto-wielding Security Council member -- has been more reluctant to consider such a proposal.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview aired last week that while he agreed sanctions were needed to halt Iran's nuclear drive, they should not crack down on its oil trade.

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Iran Slams US as 'World's Only Atomic Criminal'
Farhad Pouladi
(for personal use only)

Iran appealed on Saturday for "atomic criminal" the United States to be suspended from the UN nuclear watchdog at a disarmament conference it is hosting.

At the opening of the two-day meeting, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out any use of atomic weaponry as "haram," meaning religiously banned under Islam.

Iran also called for changes to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Iraq, Lebanon and Syria voiced support for Tehran's "peaceful" nuclear programme and demanded Israel join the NPT "without conditions."

Khamenei branded the United States an "atomic criminal" in a message read out by an aide at the nuclear disarmament conference, Tehran's answer to a summit held in Washington earlier this week.

Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went a step further and called for Washington's suspension from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) along with all other nations which possess nuclear arms.

"Only the US government has committed an atomic crime," said the message of the all-powerful Khamenei who formulates Tehran's foreign policy, including its nuclear strategy.

"The world's only atomic criminal lies and presents itself as being against nuclear weapons proliferation, while it has not taken any serious measures in this regard," he said.

Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency Iran has defiantly pushed ahead with its controversial nuclear programme despite three sets of UN sanctions, attacked the present structure of the UN Security Council, the IAEA and the NPT.

"An independent international group which plans and oversees nuclear disarmament and prevents proliferation should be set up," he told the conference attended by several foreign ministers and UN officials.

He said those countries which "possess, have used or threatened to use nuclear weapons should be suspended from the IAEA and its board of governors, especially the US."

Ahmadinejad's remark was expected to irk allies Russia and China, two nuclear states with veto powers in the Security Council that have so far hesitated to back a fourth set of sanctions against Tehran.

"The right to veto, which is undemocratic, inhumane and unfair, should either be annulled, or if some insist on having this right, then some countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe should also have the right to veto in order to reduce its negative outcomes," he said.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have been angered by Washington's new nuclear policy unveiled last week.

The policy limits the countries against which Washington might use its nuclear arsenal but singles out Iran and North Korea as exceptions for flouting Security Council resolutions over their nuclear programmes.

Ahmadinejad also called upon "independent countries" to review the NPT, of which Iran is a signatory and as such considers it has the right to enrich uranium, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

"The presence of those possessing weapons, especially the US, prevents the drawing up of a fair treaty," he said.

Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi later in an interview on English language Press TV channel demanded that "a clear date be mentioned for global nuclear disarmament."

Before the first day ended, the foreign ministers of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq jointly blasted Israel, Middle East's sole but undeclared nuclear weapons power.

"The major threat in the region is Israel which has nuclear warheads. Israel must join this treaty and take quick steps to destroy its nuclear weapons," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said.

His Lebanese counterpart Ali al-Shami said Israel should be "stripped" of its arsenal "since the atomic weapons of the Zionist regime are not inspected, there is a danger of these weapons being used in the future."

"This regime must join the NPT without any conditions."

And Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister of Iran's former foe Iraq, said: "We reject any threat against Iran and insist on Iran's rights to use peaceful nuclear energy."

The Jewish state, which has never publicly acknowledged having atomic weapons while maintaining a policy of deliberate ambiguity, has not ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities to halt its atomic programme.

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North Korea Dismisses Seoul-Proposed Nuclear Deal as 'Absurd'
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea on Saturday dismissed South Korea's proposal for a denuclearization deal with the North that seeks to completely rid the communist nation of its nuclear weapons in a single step, saying a decision to denuclearize will only come in the final stages of negotiations.

The North said Seoul's proposal for the so-called "grand bargain" was part of a smear campaign that does not even deserve serious consideration.

"The so-called 'grand bargain' is such a childish and clumsy plot that does not even deserve a mention," Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper published by the North's Workers' Party, said in a commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The proposed deal, suggested by Seoul last year, seeks to denuclearize the North in one step in exchange for massive economic assistance for the impoverished North.

The commentary said such a proposal does not consider the reason North Korea came to develop nuclear weapons in the first place.

"If they wish to talk about ways to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, they should at least understand the basic essence of the issue," it said.

"It is not only absurd to say they will discuss issues that will only come at the last stage of negotiations on the nuclear issue, but makes us wonder how they will resolve all the issues that are required to resolve the nuclear issue, such as the pullout of U.S. troops, end of joint military exercises and a peace treaty between the DPRK and the U.S., all at the same time," it said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korea refuses to attend the six-nation nuclear negotiations until U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang are lifted and the launch of discussions for an official peace treaty to replace the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War.

The armistice was signed by North Korea, China and the United States, acting on behalf of the U.N. combined forces, and left North and South Korea technically at war.

The nuclear negotiations, involving both South and North Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, were last held in December 2008.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

France, Kuwait Sign Nuclear Power Deal
(for personal use only)

France and Kuwait signed an agreement to develop nuclear energy in the Gulf country, a comeback for the French nuclear industry after it lost a key reactor deal in the United Arab Emirates.

After talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Mohammed al-Ahmad al-Sabah and French officials signed an agreement to develop a civil nuclear energy project Friday in Paris.

The deal will "permit the development of cooperation between France and Kuwait in several areas of nuclear energy," the French government said in a statement.

This is a major comeback for the French industry in the region, which lost a $20 billion deal to supply four reactors to United Arab Emirates to a South Korean firm.

At an international energy conference in Paris last month, Sarkozy said the world needed nuclear power to fight climate change. He added the technology should become accessible also to developing countries, urging international finance institutions such as the World Bank not to ignore nuclear when handing out development loans.

Growth isn't only happening in the Gulf region -- nuclear is experiencing a worldwide revival.

U.S. President Barack Obama this year handed loan guarantees to two new reactor projects launched in Georgia; the president said the technology is key to the American energy strategy, which hadn't seen new reactors since the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

India and China want the technology to fuel their economic growth and, across Europe, nations including Britain and several in Central and Eastern Europe are planning new reactors to increase energy security and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in their power mix.

The world's second largest nuclear nation behind the United States, France has a vested interest in fueling this revival.

The French industry is world-leading; it includes giants Reva and EDF, the designers of the European Pressurized Reactor. The third-generation PER is considered one of the most advanced in the world. However, the only two models under construction in Finland and France have been plagued by costly construction delays.

Meanwhile, another big nuclear nation -- neighboring Germany -- is considering extending the lifetime of its nuclear power plants beyond 2020.

Under current law, the 17 remaining German reactors are due to be shut down by the end of that year but the ranking coalition has promised to reconsider that plan. Berlin is about to commission studies on the best future energy mix and will announce its final decision on nuclear this falls.

While German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen has in the past lobbied for getting rid of nuclear power, his boss, Chancellor Angela Merkel has made clear that this wasn't an option anytime soon.

Taking into account environmental, economic and sustainability aspects, it's obvious that Germany's nuclear power plants, "will have to run longer than until 2020," Merkel said last month in Berlin.

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US and Russia Highlight Nuclear Partnership
Edith M. Lederer
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

In a symbol of their new partnership, the United States and Russia urged all countries on Monday to follow their recent nuclear arms cuts by taking action toward the goal of global disarmament and a nuclear-free world.

Ambassadors from the former Cold War rivals joined forces at a U.N. General Assembly debate to tout the April 8 signing of a "New START" treaty that would shrink their arsenals to the lowest point since the frightening arms race of the 1960s.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called on all nations "without exception, and first and foremost those that have nuclear arsenals, to join efforts with Russia and the United States in this field and to contribute actively to the disarmament process."

"We are convinced that only through collective efforts we can succeed in achieving effective disarmament and a nuclear-free world," Churkin said.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice encouraged all countries to build on the recent momentum to make "real progress" on disarmament, nonproliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy at the upcoming five-year review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which begins on May 3.

In an unusual move, Rice and Churkin sent a note to U.N. member states last Wednesday saying they would address Monday's opening session of the debate on "Disarmament and World Security" to highlight the "New START" treaty signing. It "demonstrates the cooperative partnership between the countries in fulfilling our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and reaffirms our commitment to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons," they said.

The treaty, signed in Prague by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, signaled a bold opening in previously soured U.S.-Russia relations. If ratified by both nations' legislatures, it will shrink the limit of nuclear warheads to 1,550 each over seven years, down about a third from the current ceiling of 2,200.

Churkin, in his speech Monday, said the new treaty "heralds the transition to a higher level of cooperation between Russia and the United States in disarmament and nonproliferation" and lays the foundation for "new relations in the militaryategic area."

Rice called the signing "a major milestone" and said it delivered on President Barack Obama's pledge a year ago to take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.

"Our joint appearance here today is a sign of the much strengthened relationship between our two nations — a relationship built on candor, cooperation and mutual respect," she said.

At a 47-nation summit hosted by Obama last week, Medvedev and other world leaders endorsed the U.S. leader's call for securing all nuclear materials around the globe within four years to keep them out of the grasp of terrorists. The U.S. and Russia also completed a long-delayed agreement on disposing of tons of plutonium from Cold War-era weapons.

Rice said the United States "will work to reverse the spread of nuclear weapons and to build momentum for their elimination" at next month's conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT.

The 1968 treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts, aimed to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the five original weapons powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China. It requires signatory nations not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five nuclear powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and guarantees non-nuclear states access to peaceful nuclear technology to produce nuclear power.

In his speech to the General Assembly, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged that the NPT treaty become universal, which would mean nuclear powers India and Pakistan and Israel, which is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, signing on and North Korea rejoining.

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Bangladesh to Sign Nuclear Plant Deal with Russia
(for personal use only)

Bangladesh will sign a deal with Russia to build two nuclear power plants at a cost of at least three billion dollars in the electricity-starved Asian nation, Dhaka's atomic energy chief said Sunday.

The two sides would sign the agreement when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits Russia later this year, said Mosharraf Hossain. "We have finalised the deal. The cabinet early this week approved the draft," he said.

Russia will build the 1,000-megawatt plants near Bangladesh's northern town of Rooppur, with the projects expected to be finished by 2017.

Bangladesh has long suffered severe power outages due to demands imposed by its fast-growing economy, which has been growing at around six percent a year since 2004.

But the crisis has worsened this year, as the gap between demand and supply shot up due to years of under-investment in new power plants.

The International Monetary Fund last week said the country's economic growth would slide to five percent a year -- the worst performance in eight years -- largely due to the worsening energy crisis.

In 2007, Bangladesh received approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the industry's global watchdog, to set up a nuclear power plant.

Experts say Bangladesh's gas reserves are also fast depleting, forcing the country to look for alternative sources of energy.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

All States Must Have Access to Peaceful Nuke Energy: Kuwait
Kuwait Times
(for personal use only)

A senior Kuwaiti official yesterday asserted the right of all states and peoples to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and take advantage of advanced technology in this field.

In a speech delivered at the nuclear disarmament conference taking place in Tehran, Nasser Mehareb, the Acting Director of the Kuwaiti foreign ministry's Department for International Organizations, said, "The State of Kuwait reaffirms that all states and peoples have the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology for peaceful purposes.

Mehareb explained that the State of Kuwait strongly believes that the possession of any nuclear weapons does not bring security to any state, stressing that the proliferation of such weapons would increase tensions and conflicts between peoples, and could lead to a terrifying nuclear arms race in the region that would pose a threat to security and stability.

The senior foreign ministry official also expressed Kuwait's hope that all member states would comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to work closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He said that Kuwait stresses the importance of continuing dialogue and negotiations between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran, voicing Kuwait's concerns at the current international situation and stating that

Israel's policy of violating all international and humanitarian laws and its non-compliance with the NPT in defiance of the international community is a very dangerous attitude that undermines all constructive attempts by the Arab states and threatens peace and security in our region.

Kuwait calls on Israel to immediately accede to the treaty and abandon its nuclear arsenal and subject all its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency, said Mehareb, adding that Israel's situation is a clear violation of the balance of power and a constant concern for the Middle East.

The State of Kuwait calls on the international community to halt sales of scientific and technological means that contribute to the promotion of nuclear weapons in Israel or any other country seeking to develop its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction", he said.

The senior Kuwaiti official added that the international community is still experiencing many challenges that threaten the credibility of treaties and international conventions, asserting that these must be supported and fully implemented, but warning "We are still seeing a significant decline in achieving the universality of the NPT.

Mehareb said that the failure of some states to monitor the implementation of their commitments and their selectivity regarding the extent of their compliance with the treaty would adversely affect their credibility and undermine all the efforts and endeavors, as well as calling into question the NPT's objectives and universality and creating a rift in the mutual confidence between states, which threatens the issues of balancing security and regional and international stability.

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Riyadh Seeking Nuclear Energy?
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Oil giant Saudi Arabia may look to civilian nuclear energy to help shift to alternative sources of energy, the Saudi oil minister suggested.

Officials at the King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy in Riyadh announced during the weekend that they would draft a policy outlining civilian nuclear power projects in the country, the Emirati newspaper The National reports.

Saudi Arabia uses oil to meet the bulk of its national energy demands. The reliance on oil, however, has reduced the amount available for exports while contributing to increased levels of carbon emissions.

Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, said a shift to alternative energy sources would help sustain the oil sector for his country.

"Using alternative sources of energy that are reliable and sustainable for power generation and water desalination will reduce dependence on the hydrocarbon resources, which will prolong the life of the hydrocarbon resources and keep (them) as a source of income for a longer period," he said.

The United Arab Emirates has pushed for nuclear power to save oil for exports. The oil minister said his country "is witnessing sustained growth in demand for power and desalinated water due to high population growth and subsidized prices of water and power," suggesting Riyadh may follow suit.

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Singapore to Start Feasibility Study Into Nuclear Energy
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As more countries seek to explore the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes, the international community faces a dilemma: How does it juggle a nuclear non-proliferation regime while acknowledging the right of countries pursuing nuclear energy and technology for peaceful uses?

There are still about 20,000 nuclear warheads in the world, many of them on trigger alert, Singapore noted in its statement at the International Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Conference in the Iranian capital of Tehran, which ended yesterday.

And even with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which has limited the number of nuclear weapons states (NWS), the world faces proliferation concerns.

For example, the NPT did not stop North Korea from acquiring and testing nuclear weapons, while NPT member Iran has been suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons ambitions.

Moreover, India, Pakistan and Israel, who have or are believed to be nuclear-armed, are not part of the NPT, representing "a lacuna in the NPT regime".

"As interest in nuclear energy grows as a result of rising costs in traditional fuel as well as the concerns over climate change, nuclear technology will continue to spread without checks," the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in the statement. "These would include activities that could be used for a nuclear weapons programme (like) uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing."

"Non-state actors, particularly, terrorists groups, are believed to be keen on acquiring nuclear material and nuclear weapons to launch terrorist attacks."

Both NWS and non-NWS alike should adopt higher standards of nuclear safety and security to ensure that nuclear material and facilities under their control remain safe from theft or terrorist attack, urged the MFA, while export controls need to be tightened to prevent illicit trafficking of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.

A "multilateral fuel assurance mechanism" could also prevent further spread of nuclear know-how, while providing countries interested in pursuing nuclear energy and technology the means to do so.

Singapore, which has not ruled out nuclear energy, will start a feasibility study "which will entail a careful and rigorous examination of the technical, economic and safety aspects of nuclear energy".

"This process is still at a preliminary stage, but we will enhance our cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and nuclear suppliers as our study progresses," said the MFA.

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South Korea To Support UAE, Jordan Nuclear Infrastructure Building
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South Korea will support nuclear infrastructure building in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, to meet its obligation as an atomic reactor exporting country, Minister of Education and Science Ahn Byong-man said.

"As an exporter of reactors, the country is charged with ensuring the safe construction and operation of nuclear facilities it builds abroad," Yonhap news agency, citing Byong-man as saying on Monday.

He made these remarks at a two-day International Nuclear Safety Forum here, which is attended by experts from Korea Institute of Nuclear, foreign countries and international organisations including the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano, to exchange views on nuclear safety issues.

He said that Seoul won an US$18.6 billion contract to build four commercial atomic power plants for the UAE late last year, and secured a deal to construct a 5 megawatt research reactor for Jordan worth an estimated US$134 million on March 30.

"To ensure that a safe infrastructure is set up, we are to establish close partnerships with countries that will operate South Korean-made reactors," he said.

He stressed that the country will abide by and support all existing international agreements, monitoring regimes, as well as technical and safety regulations to prevent accidents and ensure nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

South Korea aims to become one of the global top three exporters of nuclear reactors by 2030, he said.

Earlier this year, Seoul said that it wants to secure 20 percent of all new orders, which is equal to about 80 reactors. This will place it after the United States and France in the global market.

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Saudi Arabia Sets Up Nuclear Energy Science Centre
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Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said it would set up a scientific centre for civilian nuclear and renewable energy to meet rising demand for power and desalinated water, state news agency SPA said on Saturday.

Fast growing power demand is forcing Saudi Arabia to look at all sources of energy, the kingdom's deputy minister of electricity, Saleh Alawaji said last month.

Demand for power grew last year by more than 8 percent and is expected to grow to more than 60,000 megawatt (MW) by 2020.

The Gulf Arab state is investing $80 billion to boost installed power generation capacity to around 67,000 MW by 2020, up from 46,000 MW now.

King Abdullah ordered the creation of a science complex named after him which would be headed by former trade minister Hashem Bin Abdullah Yamani.

SPA gave no more details or timeframe for the project but said the complex would be based in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The centre would be in charge of promoting research and sealing future deals, SPA said. It would also oversee activities related to the use of nuclear energy.

"The kingdom is witnessing sustained growth in demand for power and desalinated water due to high population growth and subsidised prices of water and power," SPA said.

"Thus the use of alternative, sustainable, reliable sources to produce electricity and desalinate water reduces reliance on hydrocarbons ...extends the lifespan of hydrocarbon resources and preserves it as a source of income for a longer time," it added.

Saudi Arabia aims to increase the use of crude oil for power generation to 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) on a daily average by 2020 from 1.5 million BOE in 2009, Alawaji told Reuters earlier this month.

Last year, France's Economy Minister said Saudi Arabia and France were close to finalising a civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement.

The kingdom's Minister of Water and Electricity then said the Middle East's largest economy was considering building its first nuclear power plant.

Neighbouring Kuwait agreed on Friday with France to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The United Arab Emirates was the first Gulf Arab country to take the nuclear route, in a bid to meet rising electricity demand for a fast-growing population.

In December, it awarded a deal worth up to $40 billion, one of the largest ever awarded in the Middle East, to a South Korean consortium to build and operate four nuclear reactors on its soil.

The UAE, the world's third-biggest oil exporter, has plans to build its first nuclear reactor by 2017. It will also host the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) newly-created headquarters.

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E.  Links of Interest

Former State Leaders Kick Off Nuclear Disarmament Summit in Hiroshima
The Japan Times
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Russian Floating Nuclear Power Plant Gets Corrosion Protection
The Motorship
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US Puts Economic Squeeze on Iran
Jon Leyne
BBC News
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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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