1. Iran's Nuclear Chief Could Meet EU's Ashton In Turkey
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Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili could hold talks with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in Turkey, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
"Ms Ashton had requested a meeting several times. Iran agreed to this but the date has not been set yet. About the venue, as Turkey suggested that it be held there, we do not see a problem with that," Ramin Mehmanparast said.
He told reporters that Jalili, who is secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, would represent Tehran in the talks.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jTCz4u3totFwivEz4U2rgcMq3vuQ
Ashton said in Brussels on Monday that she was prepared to hold talk with Iranian leaders, but only about its controversial nuclear programme.
"We should wait and see what issues she wants to discuss," Mehmanparast said, insisting that Iran's nuclear programme was a matter for discussion with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"If she wants to bring up international issues, we will examine them and the nuclear fuel swap has its own formula," the spokesman said.
Ashton asked Ankara to contact Iranian authorities and try to organise talks on behalf of the six world powers involved in efforts to persuade Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, a spokesman in Brussels said.
Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend the sensitive nuclear enrichment and risks further sanctions over its continued defiance.
The West has long accused the Islamic republic of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear energy programme, charges Tehran denies.
Iran has also dragged its feet on a UN-brokered deal presented in October that would see most of its low enriched uranium stockpile shipped out of the country to be further enriched into nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
The deal stalled after Iran insisted the two materials be exchanged simultaneously within its borders.
Mehmanparast said on Tuesday that Iran had been discussing "a new formula" for the nuclear fuel swap with Turkey and Brazil -- both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The two countries are opposed to fresh sanctions against Iran and have stepped up efforts for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip "Erdogan will be in Iran at the same time as the Brazilian President" Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is due to make an official visit to Tehran from May 16 to 17, the spokesman said.
"Talks will be held" with both leaders on the nuclear fuel deal, he said.
2. Iranian Foreign Minister Calls For Disarmament And A World Free Of Nuclear Weapons
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The Iranian top diplomat said the world, especially the NAM members, are concerned with failure to meet main objectives of the NPT, so the time has come to fully dismantle such weapons. "That's the most important segment of the NPT which has been put into oblivion," he added.
Noting that number of the nuclear arms possessors has increased over the past few decades and little works have been done to reduce the weapons, Mottaki said nuclear arms are root causes of threat and full elimination of such arms and a world free of such weapons are prime demands of nations.
Turning to the Tehran Disarmament Conference, dubbed as 'Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None', Mottaki said that fortunately the logical slogan has been welcomed by the world nations and gains more addressees day by day.
"All countries should in general and the NAM states in particular spread and strengthen the culture of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide," he said.
Available at: http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/05/11/iranian-foreign-minister-calls-disarmament-and-world-free-nuclear-weapons
Iran only seeks "objective guarantees" in a nuclear fuel swap deal but will study "other proposals" to discuss them in future meetings, says a top Iranian nuclear official.
"On the nuclear fuel swap deal, our stance is based on receiving 20-percent enriched uranium in return for the 3.5-percent enriched uranium," Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told reporters on Sunday.
"They had set other conditions... but our condition is [that they offer] objective guarantees," he added.
Under a proposed nuclear fuel swap deal, Iran would send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing and conversion into fuel rods for the Tehran research reactor, which produces radiomedicine for cancer patients.
Negotiations on the deal came to a standstill after Western countries failed to provide Iran with guarantees that the fuel would be delivered in a timely manner.
Brazil and Turkey have recently stepped up efforts to broker an agreement between Iran and France, Russia and the US.
Salehi said, "Different countries have made proposals, which we are studying and discuss in talks with these countries." He did not give any details on the new proposals.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will both visit Tehran in mid-May to hold talks on the issue on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 15 (G15).
Both Brasilia and Ankara have repeatedly voiced their opposition to a new round of US-proposed sanctions against Tehran.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=125930§ionid=351020104
4. Surprise Dinner Fails To Break Iran Nuclear Deadlock
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A surprise, high-profile UN dinner failed to break the deadlock with Iran over its nuclear plans as the United States called it a "missed opportunity" and kept up the pressure Friday for UN sanctions.
The Obama administration also claimed that Iran's dinner invitation to all 15 UN Security Council members on Thursday is another sign that Tehran is worried about its international isolation and that US diplomacy is paying off.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the US and other guests at the dinner hosted by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki failed to bridge gaps over a proposed nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran.
In a "frank and professional exchange" with Mottaki, US diplomat Alejandro Wolff and other council representatives "pointed out the significant flaws and shortcomings in Iran's approach," Crowley said.
"Mottaki focused on the Iranian counterproposal to the Tehran research reactor, which deviates in significant ways from the balanced IAEA proposal that Iran agreed to and then walked away from last October," Crowley said.
"But we see this as yet another missed opportunity by Iran to meet its international obligations," Crowley said.
In a bid to boost trust, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposed last year that Iran send most of its lower-grade uranium abroad to be further enriched and sent back for medical research purposes.
The United States has been spearheading a drive for a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions. It is trying to get Iran to stop enriching uranium, which can be used as fuel either for civilian power reactors or atomic weapons.
However, China is the main holdout to tougher sanctions on the UN Security Council, along with Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon. A previously reluctant Russia now appears more open to sanctions.
But Crowley said that, during the dinner, both Russia and China joined "in pressing Iran... to change its course."
China and Russia along with Britain, France and the United States are the permanent five veto-wielding members of the Security Council.
Crowley also said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile Friday reviewed efforts for a new sanctions resolution in a conference call with senior diplomats from France, Britain, Germany and the European Union.
"There's still work (for a resolution) to do. And we will... be moving that forward in the coming weeks," Crowley said.
Later he said: "We look forward to a very strong, united, international statement that tells Iran it's got to change course and meet its fundamental obligations."
Japanese ambassador Yukio Takasu, who was at the dinner hosted by Mottaki in the residence of the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, said later there were no talks that evening about sanctions.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department's director of policy planning, told department colleagues that Iran is trying all the harder to engage the international community in a bid to stop its growing isolation.
"President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad coming to the UN, the dinner last night... I read these as signs that the government is quite worried," Slaughter told diplomats and Foreign Service staff in a speech broadcast to journalists.
The Iranians are trying hard than in the past "to try to stop anything that will make them more isolated. I read that as some sign of our success," Slaughter said.
Ahmadinejad was the only head of state to travel to the United Nations for the first two days of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.
And the dinner invitation to the 15 council members -- with journalists observing all but diplomats from Nigeria and Gabon showing up -- yielded one of the highest-level US-Iran contacts since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since April 1980, and face-to-face encounters between the countries' senior officials are rare.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iMJqgM-jTezPKsPETId2OyqZ8sbQ
1. US links SKorean Explosion To NKorean Nuke Talks
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The State Department warned Monday that the future of North Korean nuclear disarmament talks depends on an investigation into the sinking of a South Korean naval ship that exploded near the border with the North in March.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg's comments were a show of solidarity with South Korea, a U.S. ally that has reacted with fury and grief at what many in the South consider a North Korean attack. The investigation complicates diplomatic efforts to restart negotiations aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.
Steinberg said that the United States wants a thorough investigation into the March 26 explosion of the Cheonan, which killed 46. In a speech at the Brookings Institution think tank, he also pledged to "follow the facts where they point."
"How we proceed is going to depend first on the clarity on the cause of the sinking of the Cheonan," Steinberg said.
North Korea must demonstrate willingness to abide by past nuclear disarmament commitments, he added, and "more broadly, (to) ending its belligerent and threatening behavior toward its neighbors."
Steinberg wouldn't discuss what specific actions the Obama administration might take should North Korea be found to have sunk the naval vessel. Investigators have reached no conclusions yet.
"We can't be indifferent to this event. This is a deep tragedy for South Korea and the people of South Korea are entitled to as full an explanation as possible as to what caused it," Steinberg said. "Until we have clarity about this, I think it's important for us to be careful about how we move forward, leaving open any of the possibilities."
Seoul has not directly blamed North Korea for the sinking, and Pyongyang has denied involvement. Suspicion, however, has focused on the North, given its history of attacks.
South Korea's defense minister said Monday that traces of an explosive chemical substance used to make torpedoes were found in the ship's wreckage.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has reportedly said his country is willing to return to the nuclear talks it abandoned in December 2008.
Steinberg said that China, the North's major ally and the host of the nuclear talks, has played "an important and constructive role" as diplomats discuss the Cheonan sinking.
"We very much hope that during this recent visit of Kim Jong Il to China that they had on opportunity to share with him their concerns about North Korea's behavior and to make clear that we are watching very closely to see how events unfold in connection with the Cheonan," Steinberg said.
The two Koreas remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hYphBjQpSQaF-1iOItH4PhHufOGwD9FK6IPG0
2. N. Korea Seeks 'Favorable Conditions' For Nuke Talks
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea confirmed Saturday that it wants to create "favorable conditions" for the resumption of the six-way talks on ending its nuclear program and improve ties with China despite a generational change down the road.
The communist nation's tightly-controlled media reported that its leader Kim Jong-il delivered the message to Chinese President Hu Jintao in their summit in Beijing earlier this week. Saturday's reports by the North's state news agency, leading newspaper and broadcaster came a day after Chinese media provided relatively detailed reports on the Kim-Hu summit, which drew keen attention from the outside world as it sought signals about the North's stance on the long-stalled six-way talks over its nuclear program and the March 26 sinking of a South Korean naval ship.
As Kim wrapped up his five-day journey to China, the first in four years, on Friday, Pyongyang's media only confirmed Kim's visits to the fast-developing Chinese cities of Dalian and Tianjin and Beijing without mentioning the Kim-Hu summit.
The North's official news agency, the KCNA, said that in his meeting with Hu, Kim "expressed the DPRK's willingness to provide favorable conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks together with other parties to the talks, declaring that the DPRK remains unchanged in its basic stand to preserve the aim of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula."
DPRK is an acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Kim also promised to "implement the joint statement adopted at the six-party talks and pursue a peaceful solution through dialogue." Among a set of agreements signed in the talks is the Sept. 19 2005 Joint Statement, in which the North agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for political and economic incentives.
The reported remarks by Kim fell short of expectations by some analysts here that North Korea may announce a plan to return to the nuclear talks, which also involve South Korea, the U.S., Russia and Japan. But South Korean officials regarded the comments as a sign that North Korea is withdrawing its boycott of the negotiations.
North Korea quit the negotiations in protest of the U.N.-led sanctions imposed on it for conducting long-range missile and nuclear tests last year.
The U.S. made clear that the North should first change its attitude. "If Kim Jong-il wants to create favorable conditions for the six-party talks, he can do exactly what we have outlined for months and years: meet international obligations, pursue the commitments that it made in the joint communique in 2005, cease provocative actions that destabilize the region," said Philip Crowley, State Department spokesman. "We'll be guided by those actions."
Seoul maintains a firm position that the six-party talks should be reconvened only after the cause of the ship sinking near the inter-Korean sea border is discovered -- and North Korea is punished, if it is found responsible. Investigators said the 1,200-ton Cheonan might have been torpedoed after finding traces of gunpowder on its wreckage.
South Korea is hoping for cooperation from China, which hosts the six-party talks, in dealing with the issue. Skepticism has grown here that Beijing will not unilaterally support Seoul, however.
There has been no report indicating that Kim and Hu discussed the Cheonan issue.
The North's leader emphasized the importance of Pyongyang-Beijing relations. "The long- standing DPRK-China friendship will remain unchanged despite the passage of time and the replacement of one generation by a new one as it stood tempest and test of history," he was quoted as telling Hu.
Observers interpreted Kim's comments as alluding to his plan to hand over power to his third son, Jong-un, who reportedly did not accompany his father on the China trip.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2010/05/08/60/0401000000AEN20100508002000315F.HTML
1. Cuba Complies With International Nuclear Regulations
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Cuba reiterated on Monday that the non proliferation of nuclear weapons is an essential step toward complete disarmament. Cuba Complies with International Nuclear Regulations
Addressing the main commission of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that is underway at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Cuba’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the world organization Rodolfo Benitez warned about the improvement and creation of new types of nuclear weapons as part of plans to develop modern anti-missile defense systems.
Benitez pointed out that Cuba complies with all its commitments as an NPT member and has received several inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In addition, he rejected the pressure that some nations exercise on the IAEA, particularly on its verification process, because he said “it could jeopardize its efficiency and credibility”.
“The approach that some countries use to try to impose ideas related to non proliferation and weapons control remains a double standard of international politics”, he concluded.
Available at: http://www.escambray.cu/Eng/cuba/cubanuclear100511904
2. NATO Parliamentarians Attend Opening Of Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference
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The future of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime depends, to a large extent, on the outcome of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which is taking place in New York from 3-28 May. A delegation of ten members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee (STC), led by STC Chairman Michael Mates (United Kingdom) and Vice-Chairman Senator Pierre Claude Nolin (Canada), participated in the opening session of the conference.
The meetings are expected to address key challenges facing the NPT, including strengthening the international safeguards system to curb nuclear proliferation, further steps to reduce existing nuclear arsenals, tackling cases of non-compliance, such as Iran’s nuclear programme, and promoting a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The NATO PA delegation had an opportunity to hear addresses by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and other prominent international leaders.
It is possible that this year’s conference will not repeat the failure of the previous Review Conference in 2005, mainly due to progress in the area of nuclear disarmament, namely the conclusion of the new START Treaty and the publication of the new US Nuclear Posture Review. However, deep disagreements still remain between some of the Non-Aligned Movement countries, which object to the introduction of more intrusive international verification measures, and official nuclear weapon states, which are being accused of disarming too slowly. It remains to be seen if a compromise among the members of the NPT will be found before the conclusion of the Review Conference.
The delegation also had briefings on New York City security issues, highlighted by the recent terrorist bombing attempt in the Times Square, and travelled to Norfolk to discuss the transformation of the Alliance at the NATO ACT headquarters. The group also heard from experts on the threat of bioterrorism in Washington D.C. at a roundtable organised by leading US biotech company Emergent BioSolutions.
Available at: http://www.defpro.com/news/details/15137/
1. Saudi Arabia, Japan To Boost Nuclear Cooperation
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Kyodo News Agency reported that Japan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to enhance cooperation in the area of atomic energy and to hold regular policy dialogue meetings on issues related to water businesses.
The agreement was reached during a ministerial-level meeting in Tokyo, during which Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil supplier to Japan, also expressed its continued commitment to help stabilize the petroleum market.
On atomic energy, particularly as it relates to electricity and water, the two countries agreed to conduct exchanges of visits at the government level, the report said.
Saudi Arabia, for its part, expressed its interest in Japan's technology in such fields, the official said. The first water policy dialogue was held in April and the second dialogue is scheduled to be held in June in Riyadh
Available at: http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093331250
An Israeli scientist is calling for his country to end a decades-long silence over its reported nuclear weapons capability and open its nuclear reactor to inspection.
Uzi Even, a Tel Aviv University chemistry professor and former worker at Israel's Dimona reactor, said US President Barack Obama's campaign for global nuclear arms reduction is a sign of changing times and Israel must get in step.
"We could open Dimona to international inspection," the former member of parliament with the left-wing Meretz party told Israeli army radio on Monday.
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Mordechai Vanunu, who also once worked at the top-secret Dimona plant, was jailed from 1986 to 2004 for passing what he said were details of its operations to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.
Since his release in 2004, he has been subject to a parole order barring him from travel or contact with foreigners.
Israel is widely believed to have around 200 nuclear warheads, but has a policy of neither confirming nor denying that, a stance which it calls "nuclear ambiguity."
"The policy of nuclear ambiguity, by which we fool only ourselves and nobody else, is not good for us any more," Even said.
"It was good, effective and successful for close to 40 years, but over 40 years many things changed and now I am telling you clearly, this policy is no longer in our interest."
However, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told an Israeli parliamentary committee on Monday that no policy shift was planned and that he did not see one being forced upon Israel by Obama.
"I don't think there is a real danger or threat to Israel's traditional position, as it has been expressed over the years," he told the foreign affairs and defence committee.
"The link between us and the United States is more complex than it may appear."
Media reports have said that the United States agreed in 1969 that as long as Israel did not test a nuclear weapon or publicly confirm that it had one, Washington would not press it on the issue.
"The understanding we have with the United States and other countries for many years has been quite effective," Strategic Affairs Minister Dan Meridor told reporters on Monday. "It need not change."
He did not elaborate.
Egypt is leading non-aligned nations in a push to convene a conference next year on turning the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons.
Meridor dismissed as unimportant reports that Egypt had tabled a motion on Israel's nuclear weapons status for a June meeting in Vienna of UN watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"From time to time this issue is raised at the IAEA and other places," he said. It's not the first time it's mentioned and it's not the first time we'll find a way, with the rest of the world, to deal with it."
3. Obama Resubmits US-Russia Nuclear Energy Pact to Congress
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President Barack Obama on Monday resubmitted a US-Russia nuclear energy cooperation pact to Congress, after the deal fell into limbo following Moscow's conflict with Georgia in 2008.
The agreement will allow US and Russian companies to form joint ventures in the nuclear sector and gives the go-ahead for exchanges of nuclear technology between the two countries.
Agreed between US president George W. Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2007 and signed the following year, the agreement was never approved by the US Senate and was pulled from consideration as relations with Moscow worsened after the Georgia war.
Obama's move was the latest step of his effort to "reset" ties with Moscow, which have seen the agreement of a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the two sides working together on the Iranian nuclear crisis.
"I approve the proposed agreement and have determined that the performance of the agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to... common defense and security," Obama wrote in a memorandum.
The so-called "1-2-3" agreement will also let Russia reprocess spent nuclear fuel originating in the United States, which accounts for most of the world market, in a move that has raised fears of Russia being turned into a nuclear dump.
Russia has long pressured the Obama administration to revive the pact, saying it is being withheld for political reasons.
The deal's prospects in Congress are not clear, however, with some of Obama's Republican foes feeling that the administration is making too many diplomatic and political concessions to Moscow.
The pact is not a treaty so does not require approval, but must be sent to Congress for a 90-day review period, during which lawmakers can vote to kill it off if they disagree with it.
The Obama administration last month highlighted the need to safeguard nuclear fuels and waste at a major international non-proliferation summit in Washington.
Preventing the spread of nuclear materials around the world is a key foreign policy aim of Obama's administration, and the president has called for the eventual limitation of all nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ht3zOsuZVkSxx5BBhwFzK2PNmJwA
The United States said it was carefully reviewing China's plans to build two civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan, urging all nations to respect non-proliferation commitments.
The China National Nuclear Corporation has agreed to finance two more civilian reactors at the Chashma site in Pakistan, despite fears abroad about the safety of nuclear material in the Islamic nation.
China earlier built two reactors for Pakistan. But Beijing in 2004 entered the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a cartel of nuclear energy states that forbids exports to nations lacking strict safeguards by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that discussions were underway about the issue and the United States has not "reached a final conclusion."
"But it's something we're obviously looking at very carefully," Steinberg said in response to a question at a forum at the Brookings Institution.
"I think it's important to scrupulously honor these non-proliferation commitments," he said. "We'll want to continue to engage on the question, about whether this is permitted under the understandings of the IAEA."
Some analysts believe that China was emboldened to go ahead with the deal after the United States in 2008 signed a landmark nuclear agreement with Pakistan's arch-rival India.
India, like Pakistan, refuses to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But former US president George W. Bush in reaching the deal praised India's track record on non-proliferation.
By contrast, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, confessed in 2004 to sending nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, although he later retracted his remarks.
Leaders of China, India and Pakistan all attended a major summit in Washington last month convened by President Barack Obama and pledged to work to preserve nuclear security.
Pakistan, a frontline state against Islamic extremism, has pressed the United States for a nuclear deal similar to India's. US officials have promised to listen but the deal is widely seen as a political non-starter in Washington.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iH6V221uDXi_9pOIorNd17PYnSvQ
1. Attempts Made To Acquire Finnish Technology For Building Weapons Of Mass Destruction
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The Finnish Security Police (SUPO) says that there have been attempts to use Finnish technology for the development of weapons of mass destruction. SUPO says that a few cases come to light each year, in which there have been attempts to acquire dual-use products for the development of weapons of mass destruction.
SUPO says that officials have managed to intervene early enough to keep the goods from ending up in the wrong hands. Usually the destination of the products would have been Iran, but occasionally, countries such as Syria, Pakistan, and North Korea have come up. These countries have not committed themselves to all international treaties which ban the development and manufacture of various weapons of mass destruction.
Some of the attempts to acquire dual-use goods are thwarted in connection with the export licence process. Such a licence is required when dual-use products, which can be used for conventional use or for the production of the more dangerous weapons, are exported outside the European Union.
Eero Aho, head of the export supervision unit of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, says that about 300 export applications are made each year. Fewer than ten applications a year are denied. Negative decisions usually stem from the fact that officials have more information than the companies on the possible applications of the products in the intended destination country.
“I do not remember a single case in which a Finnish company would have deliberately tried to deceive officials”, Aho says. He adds that about 2,000 products have been listed as having potential dual use capability. “For instance, even in a nuclear programme it is possible to use many different kinds of goods.”
SUPO says that there are attempts to deceive Finnish companies through skilful cover-up arrangements. A company might be told that the product is being sent to Switzerland, for instance, but it ultimately ends up outside Europe. In addition, the product might be taken outside Europe through subsidiaries located abroad. “If we suspect that a product might end up being used illegally through some indirect route, then the export will be prevented”, Aho says.
In recent years, exports of certain pumps and transformers to Iran have been blocked on suspicion that they might end up being used in a possible Iranian nuclear programme. SUPO says that there have been attempts to export dual-use goods from Finland to “sensitive” countries past the official licencing process.
SUPO chief inspector Martin Westerlund says that according to information from intelligence and security services, Finnish technology has been used in the development of weapons of mass destruction.
SUPO has held discussions on cases together with companies. According to Westerlund, ignorance on the part of the companies has been the main factor.
“There is nothing deliberate here. Every company is concerned about its own reputation. There can be situations in which a company does not even know that their products have dual-use potential.” Finnish Customs now has an investigation underway linked with dual-use products. Customs officials are not giving out information about the case yet.
Available at: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Attempts+made+to+acquire+Finnish+technology+for+building+weapons+of+mass+destruction/1135256728816
Russia and Turkey have shaken hands on all the details and commercial terms for the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in Mersin’s Akkuyu district, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko has announced.
In an interview with the Cihan news agency on Saturday, Shmatko said the price of the electricity to be generated by the nuclear power plant had also been agreed but that it is still too early to reveal it.
An international consortium consisting of Russia’s nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly Atomstroyexport, electricity export company Inter RAO UES and Turkish Park Teknik won a tender for the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in June 2009, but the deal was later scrapped by Turkish authorities on the grounds that the price for the electricity generated from the power plant was extremely high.
In early 2010 Turkey decided to proceed with a mutual agreement with Russia instead of conducting another tender and so shook hands with Russian authorities. “We expect that the basic documents will be signed as soon as possible and that the construction of the nuclear power plant will begin,” Shmatko said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be paying an official visit to Turkey on May 11 and 12, and the signing of the relevant agreement is included on the president’s agenda. Russia will undertake construction of the power plant and will also be responsible for all financing needs.
In the first bid that it won last year, the Russian consortium was asking 21 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. Facing fierce opposition from the public and the discontent of energy officials, the consortium lowered their bid to 12 cents per kWh. But, considering that Turkey currently pays an average of 8 cents per kWh for electricity, Ankara asked the Russian consortium to make a further discount, reaching at least 10 cents.
Available at: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-209783-105-russia-turkey-agree-on-nuclear-power-plant.html
Lithuania expressed its official disapproval of a plan pushed aggressively by the neighbouring Belarus to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) in the Belarusian town of Ostrovets, just 55 kilometres away from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. The former Soviet republic’s concerns were stated in an official note that was prepared by the Ministry of Environment and will be extended to Minsk, said the Lithuanian news agency DELFI.
Lithuania’s note of concern states, in particular, that Minsk has yet to deliver a comprehensive environmental impact evaluation report on the future NPP and asks that Belarusian officials hold a new hearing in Lithuania where such information may be made available to the public. Belarus, however, is not obligated to take Lithuania’s opinion into account, DELFI.lt reported.
“Having reviewed the environmental impact evaluation report, we do not approve of the construction of an NPP at the Ostrovets site on grounds detailed in our comments,” said the official document. “The evaluation is insufficient as the report has been limited to just the analysis of one site only. This contradicts regulations of the Espoo Convention which require that information on alternative sites be presented as well.”
Both Lithuania and Belarus, two neighbouring nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union, are parties to the 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context – or the Espoo Convention, called so because it was signed in the Finnish town of Espoo. Since the new NPP is projected to be built just 23 kilometres off the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, any harmful potential impact it may have will also affect the environment and well-being of the population of Lithuania. A bilateral discussion of the issue is thus a requisite procedure.
The Lithuanian environment ministry’s position note also sets forth critical comments with regard to the chosen site, the incomplete environmental impact report, the insufficiently detailed description of the future reactor, and the as yet to be established procedure for handling the resulting radioactive waste, among other issues.
The authors reiterate that, in accordance with the Espoo Convention, Belarus is required to provide data on alternative suitable sites for the NPP, something the environmental impact report failed to do.
Barring the absence of such sites, there is no other reason that would support the specific choice of Ostrovets as the future NPP location, and there is not enough rationale provided to justify the choice of the reactor design, either. The reactor chosen for the Ostrovets NPP is an experimental Russian design called VVER-1200 and touted by the Russian nuclear authority Rosatom and Atomstroiexport, a Rosatom structure which is in charge of intergovernmental cooperation agreements and which hopes to land the Belarusian NPP contract.
“As it is stated [in the environmental impact report], the reactor’s advantage is that its main equipment and protection systems have been tested on two Chinese reactors and that it will be possible to return spent nuclear fuel back to Russia for long-term storage. Other arguments are unclear,” the environment ministry’s note said.
The Lithuanians also say that, according to documents provided, the Ostrovets NPP will only be able to withstand the impact of a light aircraft.
“This means that it will not be protected against the potential crash impact of a passenger line aircraft. More and more world countries take the possibility of acts of terror into account and adopt the requirement that new NPPs be able to withstand impact damage from large passenger aircraft,” the note continued. “Lithuania will also set forth this requirement. Lithuania considers it unacceptable that a reactor will be built that does not meet this requirement.”
Lithuania is also worried about the NPP’s potential detriment to the Neris – a river that rises in Belarus, where it is called Vilija, and flows through Lithuania’s large cities of Vilnius and Kaunas, at which point it becomes a tributary of the Neman River. The Neris will be used to draw water to cool the future NPP’s reactors and as the dumpsite for the resulting wastewaters.
“Based on the information provided on the quantity of water that will be needed for reactor cooling, we cannot verify the reliability of the data and the validity of the conclusions made that there will be no negative impact on the river Neris and that its waters’ quantitative and qualitative indicators will not suffer,” the note said.
The environment ministry also cites estimates made by the Lithuanian Physics Institute which state that the Lithuanian capital will have to be subjected to forced evacuation should a serious accident occur at the projected Belarusian site.
Available at: http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2010/lithuania_no_to%20Belarus_nukes
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