1. Turkey To Withdraw From Nuclear Fuel Deal If West Imposes Sanctions On Iran
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Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday Turkey will withdraw from a newly agreed nuclear fuel swap deal if the West imposes a new round of sanctions on Iran.
Turkey sees "no need" for further UN sanctions against Iran after Tehran signed a deal Monday to ship its low enriched uranium abroad, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul Tuesday.
Dismissing the West's doubts over the Iranian intention and their talk of further sanctions, he added that the discussion of sanctions will only spoil the atmosphere, China's Xinhua news agency said.
On Monday, Iran, Brazil and Turkey have signed a deal for nuclear fuel swap in Turkish territory.
Available at: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=499204
The EU has cast doubt on whether European powers will scrap efforts to impose sanctions against Tehran, only hours after Iran signed a nuclear fuel swap declaration.
Iran announced the declaration on Monday after intense trilateral talks with Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent UN Security Council members opposed to US lobbying for slapping tougher sanctions on Iran.
"This is a move in the right direction but it does not answer all of the concerns raised over Iran's nuclear program," a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told AFP.
"If this reported agreement delivers... of course we welcome such a move," a spokesman for Ashton told AFP.
The US and Russia have billed the visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to meditate the deal as Iran's "last change" to avoid a fourth round of UN sanction targeting its banking and shipping industries.
However, the 27-member bloc has warned Iran that it may impose unilateral sanction if the UNSC resolution fails to pass. This is while veto-wielding permanent members of the UNSC China and Russia are also urging a diplomatic end to the nuclear standoff.
The US and its European allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a smokescreen for developing nuclear weapons.
As a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Tehran argues that it has the right to a civilian nuclear program aimed at electricity generation and medical research.
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Iran made an apparent concession over its nuclear program, but big powers expressed skepticism and analysts said the move seemed intended to split the international community and avert planned new U.N. sanctions.
Tehran agreed with Brazil and Turkey on Monday to send some of its uranium abroad, reviving a fuel swap plan drafted by the U.N. with the aim of keeping its nuclear work in check.
But Iran made clear it had no intention of suspending domestic enrichment the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
"There is no relation between the swap deal and our enrichment activities," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told Reuters.
He told Iranian television the deal was a move toward nuclear cooperation and "stopping sanctions."
Iran launched work to enrich uranium to a 20 percent level in February. Further enrichment would be needed to make weapons.
The White House said Iran must take steps to prove its nuclear program was for exclusively peaceful purposes.
"Given Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments ... the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns," a spokesman said.
"I think we are making steady progress on a sanctions resolution."
A State Department spokesman said the United States would "engage Iran anywhere, anytime, provided Iran is prepared to address the international community's concerns about its nuclear program," but would continue to pursue new sanctions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the fuel swap deal a "historic turning point."
"My expectation is that after this declaration there will not be a need for sanctions," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said, echoing a statement by Brazil.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would oversee the nuclear material under the plan, said it had seen the declaration and was waiting for Iran to agree to the "relevant provisions" in writing.
Britain said work on a new U.N. sanctions resolution must go on. Iran's move "may just be a delaying tactic," said Foreign Secretary William Hague.
France said the deal would not resolve core concerns.
"Let us not deceive ourselves, a solution to the (fuel) question, if it happens, would do nothing to settle the problem posed by the Iranian nuclear program," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed similar concern. "One question is: will Iran itself enrich uranium? As far as I understand from officials of that state, such work will be continued. In this case ... those concerns that the international community had before could remain," Medvedev said.
Medvedev spoke by phone to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva later and "positively assessed joint efforts by Brazil and Turkey to promote a political and diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem," a Krelin statement said.
"After this, we need to decide what to do: Are those proposals sufficient or is something else needed? So I think a small pause on this problem would not do any harm," he said.
Washington has been leading a push to impose new sanctions, and especially to win the backing of permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia and China.
Analysts say Monday's agreement may allow Tehran to stave off a fourth round of sanctions and help the leadership reassert its authority after months of anti-government unrest that followed a disputed presidential election last June.
A European Commission spokesman said the deal might be a step in the right direction, but details needed to be seen.
AHMADINEJAD CALLS FOR MORE TALKS
Lula, Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clinched the agreement after hours of talks in Tehran, Iranian state media reported. Turkey and Brazil are both non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Iran said it had agreed to transfer 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey within a month and in return receive, within a year, 120 kg of 20 percent-enriched uranium for use in a medical research reactor.
Iran, which says its atomic program is purely for peaceful purposes, had earlier insisted any such transfers must take place simultaneously and on its territory.
"Iran expressed its readiness to deposit its LEU within one month. On the basis of the same agreement the Vienna Group should deliver 120 kg fuel required for Tehran research reactor in no later than one year," a joint declaration said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran's LEU would be under the supervision of the Vienna-based IAEA in Turkey. The IAEA would be notified within a week about the swap deal, he said.
Ahmadinejad called on the five permanent Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain -- and Germany to open new negotiations with his country.
"They should welcome the major event that took place in Tehran and distance themselves from the atmosphere of pressure and sanctions to create an opportunity for interaction and cooperation with Iran," he said.
Western diplomats say Iran is trying to give the impression that the fuel deal is at the center of problems with the West, rather than its nuclear ambitions as a whole.
They also said removing from Iran 1,200 kg of LEU -- enough, if highly enriched, to make a nuclear weapon -- was less significant now than when it was first proposed because in the months of wrangling over the original IAEA swap deal, Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile has almost doubled.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64G18A20100517
4. Iran Ready To Ship Uranium To Turkey For Nuclear Swap
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Iran agreed to hand to Turkey about half of its enriched uranium in exchange for fuel to run a medical reactor, possibly thwarting U.S. efforts to step up international sanctions over the Iranian atomic program.
Iran is ready to ship the low-enriched uranium for safekeeping in Turkey within a month of the U.S. and other powers agreeing to the swap, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on state television today. Within a year, Iran expects to get a shipment of reactor-grade fuel for use in the research reactor in Tehran, he said.
“There is no opportunity or excuse for sanctions now,” Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said in televised comments.
The agreement, brokered by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes as the U.S. has been rallying support for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against the Persian Gulf state. A UN-brokered plan, under which Iran would ship the low-enriched uranium outside the country for processing into reactor-grade fuel by Russia and France, has been stalled for months with Iran citing a lack of trust in the U.S. and Western nations.
Iran had said it was willing to adopt the proposal, provided the exchange was simultaneous and takes place on Iranian soil. The West rejected the conditions.
The deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey won’t prevent Iran from continuing to enrich uranium, including to higher concentrations, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
The activity of “enrichment to 20 percent inside our country will still continue,” Ramin Mehmanparast said after the signing of the deal, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of its atomic energy program. Iran, which has the world’s second-largest reserves of oil and gas, says its activities are solely civilian and it needs to secure energy for its growing population.
Alistair Burt, a British foreign minister, said Iran’s actions “remain a serious cause for concern.” A push for sanctions will continue until “Iran takes concrete actions” to meet its obligations, Burt said in an e-mailed statement.
German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans told reporters in Berlin today that Iran must still fulfil its obligations under UN resolutions on its nuclear program regardless of any fuel deal and suspend all domestic uranium enrichment.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said that Iran must inform the UN atomic agency in writing of today’s agreement.
“Only then can we judge the seriousness of the Iranian response,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Let’s not forget the Iranians have made multiple contradictory statements on this subject in recent months.”
The deal is likely to make it harder to win support for more UN sanctions from China and Russia, among the veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, said Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.
“There will be certain countries in the West that will see this as Iran trying to delay the inevitable, which is going to be harsher sanctions,” Karasik said in a phone interview from Istanbul. “It will create divisions among members of the Security Council.”
Problem for Obama
The deal also may represent a problem for U.S. President Barack Obama as U.S. lawmakers try to impose unilateral sanctions to limit gasoline sales to Iran, said Trita Parsi, head of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council, the largest U.S.-Iranian association.
“Congress may still push forward its extraterritorial sanctions bill, citing other concerns with Iranian behavior,” Parsi said in an e-mailed comment. “With the November elections only months away, President Obama may face some stiff opposition from Congress, even over a deal that meets America’s red lines on the nuclear issue.”
Lawmakers have pursued the sanctions as UN talks over financial penalties dragged on. U.S. officials estimate Iran might be able to enrich enough uranium for one bomb in about a year and may be able to construct a weapon in three to five years.
The agreement with Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent members of the Security Council that oppose sanctions against Iran, came as the country hosted the leaders of the G15, a group of developing nations. Lula visited Tehran at the head of a Brazilian delegation that also focused on expanding trade ties.
A senior Israeli government official said Iran is exploiting Brazil’s goodwill over the nuclear deal. The official spoke anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to comment.
The swap, which will provide Iran nuclear fuel enriched to 20 percent and in a form usable only in the Tehran reactor, would be carried out under the supervision of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said state-run Press TV. Inspectors from the IAEA and Iran would be stationed in Turkey to monitor the fuel, said Mottaki.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said during a visit to Ukraine today that there may be “concerns by international community,” and that he will speak to his Brazilian counterpart tonight.
Medvedev said on May 14 that Lula’s trip to Tehran “may be the last chance” for a negotiated solution before the UN Security Council considers new sanctions.
Further UN sanctions may penalize Iran’s banking, shipping and insurance industries.
Turkish officials have several times stated their readiness for their country to serve as a venue for a swap of low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel that can be used in the Tehran reactor for medical purposes, such as the production of isotopes.
Turkish and Russian officials reached an accord on May 12 for Russia to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, with four reactors, at a cost of about $20 billion.
Uranium enrichment is at the center of world powers’ concern with Iran’s nuclear program. The material can fuel a reactor or, enriched to higher degrees, form the core of a bomb.
The 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium that would be shipped to Turkey represent more than half of Iran’s stockpile, according to a Feb. 18 report by the IAEA, which said Iran had amassed 2,065 kilograms (4,533 pounds) of low-enriched uranium and had begun to churn out higher-enriched variants for the Tehran reactor.
In October, when the original proposal was made, the IAEA estimated Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile at 1,763 kilograms.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aYBUGjoQuu64
5. Russia: Iran's Deal With Turkey May Not Be Enough
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has cautiously welcomed an agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey, but added that the deal may fail to fully satisfy the international community.
Medvedev said that Iran's plans to continue uranium enrichment could continue to cause international worries.
Iran agreed to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey after talks with Brazil and Turkey. The agreement appeared similar to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months.
Medvedev said during a trip to Ukraine that Iran apparently still intends to continue its own uranium enrichment, and that would continue to cause concerns.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but the U.S. and others believe it's pursuing a nuclear weapons bid.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in a surprise nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country's disputed atomic program and deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions.
The deal, which was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, was similar to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran — at least temporarily — of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.
Iran, which claims its nuclear program is peaceful, dropped several key demands that had previously blocked agreement. In return for agreeing to ship most of its uranium stockpile abroad, it would receive fuel rods of medium-enriched uranium to use in a Tehran medical research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer treatment. It was not immediately clear what would happen to the stockpile once the fuel rods were received.
The United States had no immediate comment, but Germany and Britain greeted the news with caution.
Britain's government said it was awaiting confirmation of the reports on Iran's deal with Turkey and insisted it remains committed to new sanctions against Tehran.
"Our position on Iran is unchanged at the present time," Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman Steve Field told reporters. "Iran has an obligation to reassure the international community, and until it does so we will continue to work with our international partners on a sanctions resolution in the United Nations Security Council."
German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans noted that the question remains whether Iran suspends enrichment of nuclear material at home, raising a possible sticking point since the agreement reaffirmed Tehran's right to enrichment activities for peaceful purposes.
Iran's Foreign Ministers spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran will continue to enrich uranium to higher level despite the deal reached Monday.
"Of course, enrichment of uranium to 20 percent will continue inside Iran," the official news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.
For months, Iran has haggled over the terms, making counterproposals that were repeatedly rejected by the U.S. and its allies. With the deal announced Monday, Tehran seems to have agreed to almost all of the original terms. However, making the deal with Turkey and Brazil may have been more palatable, allowing Iran to argue that it did not bend to American pressure.
"It was agreed during the trilateral meeting of Iranian, Turkish and Brazilian leaders that Turkey will be the venue for swapping" Iran's stocks of enriched uranium for fuel rods, Mehmanparast said on state TV.
Washington has cited the Iranians' intransigence against the original deal as proof of the need for new U.N. sanctions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the new deal meant Iran was willing to "open a constructive road."
"There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure," he told reporters in Iran, according to Turkey's private NTV television.
Monday's deal was announced after talks between Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
The main difference from the U.N.-drafted version is that if Iran does not receive the fuel rods within a year, Turkey will be required to "quickly and unconditionally" return the uranium to Iran. Iran feared that under the initial U.N. deal, if a swap fell through, its uranium stock could be seized permanently.
The U.N. proposal also said Russia and France would process the Iranian uranium to higher levels, then send it back as fuel rods.
The process would begin one month after a final agreement is signed between Iran and its main negotiating partners, including the United States and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran dropped an earlier demand for the fuel exchange to happen in stages and is now willing to ship abroad its nuclear material in a single batch. It also dropped an insistence that the exchange happen inside Iran as well as a request to receive the fuel rods right away.
While kept under international supervision in Turkey, the uranium would still be considered Iranian property until Iran receives the fuel rods, said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, called Monday's deal historic.
The United Nations has already imposed three rounds of financial sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The process is key to concerns over its program, because it can produce either low-enriched uranium needed to fuel a nuclear reactor or the highly enriched uranium needed to build a warhead.
The fuel swap deal on the table since October was touted as a way to reduce tensions and ensure Iran cannot build a bomb in the short term. The material returned to Iran in the form of fuel rods cannot be processed beyond its lower, safer levels. Iran needs the fuel rods to power an aging medical research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.
Under the agreement announced Monday, Iran will ship most of its enriched uranium — about 2,600 pounds, or 1,200 kilograms — to Turkey to be kept under U.N. and Iranian supervision. In return, it will get fuel rods containing uranium enriched to higher levels needed for the research reactor, Mehmanparast said.
Iran first reached out to Turkey and Brazil in its efforts to avoid tougher U.N. sanctions for its refusal to stop enriching uranium altogether. Both countries are non-permanent members of the Security Council.
Monday's deal was signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries.
Mehmanparast said a letter will be sent to the IAEA within a week to pave the way for a final agreement.
"Should they be ready, an agreement will be signed between us and the group," he said, referring to the U.S., France, Russia and the IAEA.
A month later, the uranium — currently enriched to a level of 3.5 percent — would be sent to Turkey, where it would be stored under IAEA and Iranian supervision, Mehmanparast said. The fuel rods would contain material processed to just under 20 percent.
Enrichment of 90 percent is needed to produce material for nuclear warheads.
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6. White House Notes Iran Nuclear Deal Skeptically
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The White House on Monday showed deep skepticism about Iran's new deal to ship low-enriched uranium off its soil, saying it has the chance to be "positive step" but warning that the deal still allows Iran to keep enriching uranium toward the pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
"Given Iran's repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran's nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a written statement to the media.
In a deal struck with Turkey and Brazil, Iran said it would export much of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey. In return, Iran would get fuel rods of medium-enriched uranium to use in a Tehran medical research reactor. The move was seen as an attempt by Iran to prevent a looming round of United Nations sanctions.
But the nations leading the charge for more punitive action against Iran over its nuclear defiance, including the U.S., were hardly swayed.
Gibbs said that Iran still must make clear that its nuclear program is intended only for peaceful purposes "or face consequences, including sanctions."
The U.N. has already imposed three rounds of financial sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The process is key to concerns over its program, because it can produce either low-enriched uranium needed to fuel a nuclear reactor or the highly enriched uranium needed to build a warhead.
Iran's decision to continue its program to enrich uranium to near 20 percent is a direction violation of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions, Gibbs said.
The White House spokesman added that the declaration issued out of Tehran is also vague about Iran's willingness to meet as promised with the set of countries working to resolve the nuclear standoff — the U.S, China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany.
An original U.N. proposal called for the Iranian uranium stockpile to be sent to Russia to be further enriched to 20 percent, then turned into fuel rods to power a Tehran medical research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer treatment. The material returned to Iran as rods cannot be processed beyond its lower, safer levels.
Questioned later in a briefing with reporters, Gibbs said the deal does nothing to change the steps, or timing, of the U.S. pursuit of international sanctions against Iran. He said Iran's proposal is less than what it agreed to last October — a deal never came to fruition.
"The words and the deeds of the Iranian leadership rarely coincide," Gibbs said.
He said Iran must submit its proposal to the International Atomic Energy Agency for formal consideration.
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North Korean President Kim Jong-il's recently completed visit to Beijing, which came on the heels of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's trip to attend the 2010 Shanghai Expo, has testified to China's unprecedented clout over strategic developments in the Korean Peninsula.
Yet despite Dear Leader Kim's positive signals over reopening the six-party talks on denuclearization, it has become increasingly unlikely that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) administration will do much to oblige Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
Instead, the leadership under President Hu Jintao is banking on fast-growing economic links with the Democratic People's Party of Korea (DPRK) - and Kim's reliance on Beijing's blessings for the continuation of the Kim dynasty - to ensure that China's interests will not be hurt by North Korea's accession to the nuclear club.
Beijing's apparent softened line toward Pyongyang, however, could antagonize both South Korea and Washington, which are counting on China to crack the whip on a regime that has displayed more signs of roguishness in the past few months.
While the global media's interest in the Kim visit is focused on the nuclear issue, this hardly had pride of place in statements released by the Chinese and North Korean authorities. After Kim's tete-a-tete with Hu on May 5, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted the North Korean supremo as saying "the DPRK remains unchanged in sticking to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula", adding, "Kim said the DPRK will work with China to create favorable conditions for restarting the six-party talks."
Yet in Kim's talks with Hu, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top Chinese leaders, he made no reference to any possible steps that he might take to revive the six-party talks, such as temporarily halting Pyongyang's nuclear program. Nor did Hu or Wen say anything to pressure the North Korean dictator to wind down the Stalinist regime's efforts to manufacture weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Beijing's apparent acquiescence to Kim's nuclear brinksmanship is clear if comparisons are made with the harsh rhetoric the Hu leadership used soon after the DPRK detonated a nuclear device on May 25 last year. On that occasion, the Chinese Foreign Ministry reacted angrily and said Beijing was "resolutely opposed to the DPRK again undertaking a nuclear test in disregard of the global community".
Chinese diplomats began immediate consultations with Washington on a tougher set of United Nations sanctions against the DPRK, which were passed on June 12. The sanctions included a widened ban on arms exports from the DPRK, inspection of North Korean ships in international waters, and punitive financial measures.
Perhaps most significantly, state censors under the direct supervision of the CCP leadership allowed renowned Chinese scholars to, for the first time, openly criticize Beijing's erstwhile ally. Sun Zhe, an international affairs professor at Tsinghua University, said that Beijing should punish Pyongyang for "nuclear blackmail".
Pointing to the fact that most of the DPRK's WMD facilities are located near China's northeastern region, Central Party School Korea expert Zhang Liangui warned that any mishap would result in "China's economically resurgent northeast [provinces] bursting like a bubble". Zhang warned, "This is an unprecedented threat that China has never faced in thousands of years."
Even before Premier Wen visited the DPRK last October, however, it had become clear that the CCP leadership had decided that tough tactics would not work. Wen boosted economic and fuel aid to Pyongyang despite failing to get from Kim any concessions about de-escalating his nuclear program or reactivating the six-party talks.
At about the same time, Beijing effectively stopped observing DPRK-related United Nations sanctions. Last November, South African authorities seized a shipment of North Korean tank parts bound for the Republic of Congo. The cargo, which belonged to a North Korean company, had first been loaded onto a vessel in a northeastern China port.
More significantly, the CCP leadership seems reconciled to the fact that they could not stop the DPRK from attaining its decades-long goal of developing nuclear weapons and other WMDs. As Zhou Yongsheng, an international politics specialist at China Foreign Affairs University pointed out on the eve of the Kim visit: "It would be difficult for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal." "When Pyongyang didn't have the weapons, they were reluctant to abandon [efforts to develop them]," he explained. "Now that the DPRK already possesses the weapons, they would be even less willing to give them up."
Also disappointing to China's neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region is that Pyongyang's increasingly apparent involvement in the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan did not seem to have come up in Kim's discussions with top Chinese cadres. Neither Chinese officials nor the official media said anything about asking Pyongyang to clarify its role in the naval mishap in late March.
This was notwithstanding the fact that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had met Hu on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Expo on April 30 for the purpose of asking Hu to twist Pyongyang's arms regarding the Cheonan issue. Yet all that the Chinese leader did on the occasion was to express condolences for the Cheonan's victims.
Dissatisfaction with China's tame stance toward Pyongyang prompted the South Korean Foreign Ministry to lodge a formal protest with Beijing about Kim's visit. The South Korean media were more forthcoming about Seoul's frustration with China's DPRK policy. South Korea's largest paper, the Chosun Ilbo, criticized Beijing for remaining mum on the Cheonan issue while showering North Korea with more economic assistance. "Aid would end up neutralizing the effects of UN sanctions against Pyongyang following its second nuclear test last year and make a joke out of punitive measures the international community could take if the North is responsible for the sinking," the paper editorialized.
Irrespective of the global reactions to this latest twist in China's DPRK policy, the CCP leadership seems confident that it can enhance its leverage with Pyongyang through two potent weapons. One is helping the 68-year-old Kim ensure that his third son, Kim Jong-Un, can successfully take over power upon his demise. Secondly, Beijing hopes that North Korea's growing dependence on Chinese economic aid and investments will translate into Kim - and his successor - fully respecting China's geopolitical interests in the region.
Noted Renmin University political scientist Jin Canrong had this to say about the Kim visit: "The transfer of power is the number one issue, money is number two, and then the security situation."
Given the sensitivity of the succession issue, it is not surprising that neither the Chinese nor the North Korean authorities touched upon this matter in public.
This was despite speculation in the South Korean press that Dear Leader Kim had brought along his heir to China. It is understood, however, that since Kim fell seriously ill in 2008, the increasingly frail Dear Leader has repeatedly sought the blessings of the DPRK's only patron for a smooth-sailing transfer of power to his 26-year-old son.
Cementing bilateral economic ties was the centerpiece of the Kim visit. President Hu suggested to his visitor that "relevant departments of the two governments should discuss and explore ways on expanding economic and trade cooperation".
Premier Wen also told Kim that both countries should "make joint efforts to advance major cooperative projects, quicken the infrastructure construction in border areas and explore new cooperative fields and methods so as to benefit the two peoples".
The DPRK supremo reciprocated by signaling his country's readiness to learn from the Chinese reform experience. "China's achievements are a great encouragement to the people of the DPRK" he said, adding that "the DPRK side welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in the country and will actively lift the level and quality of bilateral pragmatic cooperation".
Prior to arriving in Beijing, Kim visited Dalian in Liaoning province and Tianjin, north China's fast-developing business and high-tech hub. It is significant that for the first time, Kim brought along senior regional officials with experience in trade and foreign investment.
The South Korean press had reported that aides traveling with Kim were unusually aggressive in talking to potential investors in Dalian and Tianjin. Chuang Li Group, a Dalian-based company, recently signed a 10-year lease for a port in the North Korean city of Rajin.
The state-run corporations in Dandong on the Chinese side of the Sino-North Korean border are planning to lease two DPRK islands in the Yalu River for development into special economic zones. Earlier this year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that these enhanced economic ties, which were "normal exchanges and cooperation" between the two countries, would not constitute any violation of UN sanctions against the DPRK.
While the CCP leadership may feel satisfied about prolonging its "lips-and-teeth" relations with the DPRK, its failure to discipline Pyongyang could render the prospect for denuclearization even bleaker. Both Seoul and Washington have indicated that the six-party talks should wait until North Korea's role in the Cheonan disaster is cleared up.
When asked about the talks, chief US negotiator Stephen Bosworth said Washington was in a "posture of waiting" to ascertain factors behind the Cheonan's demise. "Our focus is on supporting the Republic of Korea as it tries to establish exactly what happened with the Cheonan," Bosworth said.
Other experts pointed out that given Pyongyang's don't-give-an-inch stance on its ongoing nuclearization program - and Beijing's redoubled backing for its client state - a reopening of the six-party talks could only result in little more rounds of mutual recrimination.
With Pyongyang having won new endorsements from its patron, there seems little that South Korea, Japan or the United States can do to prevent the increasingly determined Kim from reaching his lifelong goal of joining the nuclear club.
Available at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/LE18Dg01.html
1. Diplomats Candidly Discuss Nuclear Nonproliferation at Closed-Door Academy Meeting
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Every five years, representatives of the 189 nations that are signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) gather at the United Nations to review progress on the three pillars of the treaty: non-proliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Historically, the Review Conference has been marked by deep divisions between nuclear have and have-not nations. This year, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has played an important behind-the-scenes role in bridging that divide. By convening senior officials from aspiring nuclear nations, the Academy's Global Nuclear Future Initiative has provided a neutral forum for key players to candidly exchange ideas and approaches, free of the posturing that often dominates discussion in the public spotlight.
Last week, the presiding President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines, joined leaders of the Academy's Global Nuclear Future Initiative at an Academy-sponsored meeting here. Also participating were three former review conference presidents: Ambassadors Sergio Duarte of Brazil (currently the UN's High Representative for Disarmament); Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka; and Mohamed Shaker of Egypt.
Ambassador-level delegates from more than a dozen countries attended, along with the leaders of the Academy initiative, Steven Miller (Harvard University) and Scott Sagan (Stanford University), Robert Rosner (University of Chicago), and senior project advisor Stephen Goldberg (Argonne National Laboratory).
By taking a distinct and pragmatic approach to nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation issues, the Academy's initiative has yielded important, real-world results since it began in 2008. This work has had a direct impact on both domestic and international policy.
Working behind the scenes, the Academy has taken advantage of its convening power and wide range of expertise to bring diverse world-wide players to the table. These include representatives from nuclear industry and international organizations, as well as from those states now embarking on nuclear power programs whose views and concerns are often overlooked by the international community.
The Global Nuclear Future Initiative has led to a new network of policymakers and scholars dedicated to the security of nuclear energy. The findings and recommendations drawn from this work have been sought out and cited by senior officials in the White House and the Departments of Energy and State, and directly informed the work of the recent Global Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by President Obama in April.
The Academy has held a series of meetings on various aspects of the nuclear future, including an international meeting in Abu Dhabi in December 2009 which focused on the spread of nuclear power in the Middle East. Another international meeting will take place in Singapore in November 2010. A widely-cited special double-issue of the Academy's journal Daedalus and a series of papers dealing with the global nuclear future have also been published.
Available at: http://www.melodika.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28324&Itemid=54
The Philippine Delegation to the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) in New York, USA reiterated its call to establish more nuclear weapons free zones (NWFZs), particularly in the Middle East.
The Philippine Delegation particularly called for the implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East as soon as possible, which provides for the establishment of an NWFZ in the region.
Jesus Domingo, Minister at the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, urged the holding of an international conference on the Middle East soonest.
“NFWZs should be fortified by the accession of all relevant states in each zone, particularly by Nuclear Weapons States. New zones should be established in other regions and sub-regions of the world,” Domingo said.
A nuclear-weapon-free zone is a region where countries commit themselves not to manufacture, acquire, test or possess nuclear weapons. There are presently five existing NWFZs namely, in Latin America (the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific (the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga), Southeast Asia (the 1995 Treaty of Bangkok) Africa (the 1996 Treaty of Pelindaba), and Central Asia (the 2006 Treaty of Semipalatinsk.
Available at: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/257646/nuke-weaponfree-zones-pushed
The Indian military successfully tested a nuclear-capable, medium-range ballistic missile off its eastern coast on Monday, a defence official said.
The surface-to-surface Agni-II, which can deliver a nuclear warhead to targets within a range of 2,500 kilometres (1,560 miles), was fired from a mobile rail launcher on Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa state.
The Agni-II has already been inducted into the services and Monday's "user test" was carried out by the army's Strategic Forces Command.
"The user trial of the missile was successful and matched all mission objectives," said S.P. Dash, the director of the test range.
It was the first outing for the Agni-II since the failure of a much-hyped night launch last November.
The missile, which is capable of carrying a one-tonne conventional or nuclear warhead, is one of a series being developed by India's Defence Research Development Organisation as a deterrent strategy against nuclear-armed neighbours China and Pakistan.
India already has the 3,000-kilometre range Agni-III missile -- the longest in the Agni series.
Unconfirmed reports suggest India is also building an Agni variant with a range of 5,000 kilometres.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ijLj1aLQ0qV4H5QA04NfT7K_YQSA
Japan has urged China to cut its nuclear arsenal or at least to stop stockpiling more atomic weapons, prompting a strong reaction from Beijing at their foreign ministers' talks, officials said Sunday.
The rare demand came when Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi at regional talks in South Korea Saturday, said Kazuo Kodama, the press secretary of Japan's foreign ministry.
The Japanese minister said China was the only one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- which also includes the United States, Britain, France and Russia -- that was still accumulating nuclear weapons.
"Amongst the P5, it is only China which is increasing its nuclear arsenal," Okada told Yang during the talks on Saturday, according to Kodama.
"Therefore I would like to request the Chinese government either to reduce the number of nuclear arsenals or at least commit ourselves not to increase its nuclear arsenals from the current level," he quoted Okada as saying.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on Sunday Yang had repudiated Okada's remarks and defended Beijing's nuclear policy.
"Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi refuted the irresponsible remarks by Japan on the spot," Ma said in the statement.
"He pointed out that China's nuclear strategy and nuclear policy is transparent. China's nuclear disarmament proposals and efforts are obvious. China's position is legitimate, transparent, and above reproach."
Yang emphasised China always advocates that nuclear weapons should be completely forbidden and destroyed completely, and it also firmly pursues a nuclear strategy of self-defence, Ma said.
China was the only nuclear-armed country that adhered to the no-first-use policy and promised unconditionally not to use or threaten to use such weapons against nuclear-free states or nuclear-free regions, Ma cited Yang as saying.
Yang stressed China never took part in any nuclear arms race and never deployed any nuclear weapons in other countries, while maintaining its nuclear power at the lowest level needed for its security, according to Ma.
Yang had also said he hoped Okada would put first their two countries' bilateral ties and the fundamental interests of their peoples, Ma added.
Seoul's Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, said Chinese officials felt "uncomfortable" with Okada's demand and even considered boycotting part of the programme at the talks in the southern city of Gyeongju.
Okada and Yang arrived in Gyeongju on Saturday to attend the two-day foreign ministerial meeting with South Korean host Yu Myung-Hwan.
The three foreign ministers discussed issues including the growing tension over the sinking of a South Korean warship near the border with North Korea on March 26, which has led to suspicion falling on the communist North.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iZ7Bv_WhCWbUhd9XNzSgISgfhlcw
1. IAEA Considers Indonesia Ready To Have Nuclear Power Plants: Official
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) considers that Indonesia is ready to have nuclear power plants as new energy source, an official said in an interview on Monday.
Responding to Xinhua's questions, Head of the National Atomic Agency (BATAN) Hudi Hastowo said that Indonesia has been preparing to have the power plants for a long time.
"And, the IAEA considers that we are ready. But why we haven't started yet?" he said, with such preparation, Indonesia only needs a decision from the president on the project.
According to Hudi, Indonesia already has 19 items that are almost ready.
He said 12 items that are considered ready, among others, are nuclear safety, safeguard, surveillance framework, radiation protection, power network, human resource development, environment protection, emergency mitigation plan, security and physical protection.
Meanwhile, four items that need sustainability are funding option, shareholders' involvement, supporting facilities and industrial involvement."What we are not ready are establishment of the second National Team for coordination, monitoring and evaluation; and establishment of the second National Team for determining ownership or operators," said Hudi.
He said that Indonesia has huge uranium reserves to support the power plants.
"Overall, we have uranium resources of 59,000 tons uranium oxide (UO), consisting of hypothetic category to indicated category in West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan provinces," said Hudi.
According to Hudi, the biggest reserves are in Papua Island that had yet to be explored.
He said the agency has been exploring several locations for the projects namely Bangka Belitung province, Banten province and East Kalimantan province.
Hudi said that investment for the project is influenced by several points, namely local content, location condition that includes tremor factor and geological condition, and government's subsidy, among others."According to the Nuclear Technology Review 2009 by the IAEA, the overnight cost to build a nuclear power plant in Asia ranges from 1,300 U.S. dollars/kilowatt electric to 3,700 dollars/ kilowatt electric, depending on location," he said.
On the other side, he said, Malaysia, Vietnam and Union of Arab Emirate have followed Indonesia with the project whereas they have less preparation.
"They have courage, management and capital," said Hudi.
He said that the countries composed programs by hiring outsiders.
"For example, former IAEA's Director General Hans Blix from Sweden was recruited by UAE to lead the project"s steering committee in the country. Meanwhile a former director of the United States of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) was chosen to chair UAE's Nuclear Surveillance Agency," he said.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2010-05/18/c_13301132.htm
Villagers and activists, who attended the first public hearing at Madban for the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) in Ratnagiri district, had come prepared to grill officials.
Referring to the Chernobyl disaster, social scientist Vivek Monteiro said: “That plant capacity was just 1,000 mega watt. But JNPP is 10 times the size of that reactor and will thus generate 10 times more nuclear waste and radiation.”
S.P. Dharne from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) differed saying: “The technology then was obsolete. JNPP will be built with the latest know-how.”
When an official said the per unit cost of power generated from the project would be up to Rs 2.46 a unit, Monteiro, who had filed a case against Enron, said: “Even Enron said the same thing, but ended up charging Rs 7 a unit. The cost per mega watt for the first decade will not be less than Rs 9.91 per unit.”
Except for four villagers, no one has accepted the compensation cheque of Rs 2.86 per sq ft. “We are dependent on our lands. What will we do if our only source of income is taken away,” said Meena Surve, a resident.
Of the 938 hectare across five villages – Madban, Niweli, Karel, Mithgawane and Ansure – 700 hectares will house six imported European light water reactors from France-based Areva, poised to generate 10,000 mega watts. At present, NPCIL has got the nod to build two reactors with 1,650 mega watt capacity each.
There was outrage when NPCIL officials said the government was still looking for a repository to store radioactive waste
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/N-plant-plan-meets-stiff-opposition/Article1-544651.aspx
Turkey’s energy minister said Sunday that the country was working on the construction of a nuclear power plant in the northern province of Sinop.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız said Turkey had reached a fruitful stage in its initiative to construct a nuclear power plant in the Black Sea province.
"Working groups will try to develop the agreement regarding Sinop soon," Yıldız said, adding Turkey may sign an agreement with South Korea if conditions allowed.
The minister said Turkey was also open to other proposals for the construction and finance of the nuclear power plant, and would reassess the situation if new proposals came from other countries.
Turkey aims to construct nuclear power plants capable of providing 8,000 to 10,00 megawatts of energy. To this end, the country plans to open both a planned nuclear power plant in Akkuyu hamlet of the Mediterranean province of Mersin, and the other in Sinop.
Turkey and Russia signed an agreement Wednesday to construct the nuclear power plant in Akkuyu while Turkey and South Korea signed a cooperation protocol in March to establish a nuclear energy power plant in Sinop.
South Korea currently has 20 nuclear power plants and is constructing eight others on its territory as it aims to have nuclear plants 40 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2020.
At an earlier speech Saturday, Yıldız said Turkey, Azerbaijan, Greece and Italy would hold a quartet on the natural gas summit.
Yıldız said he had a meeting with his Greek counterpart regarding a natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy via Turkey and Greece. “Within this framework, we will hold a quartet natural gas summit either in Turkey or Greece," Yıldız told reporters in Athens.
Turkey was a natural gas importing country, and the more pipelines passed through Turkey, the more beneficial it would be for Turkey and its citizens, Yıldız said. He also said Turkey and Greece could develop joint projects on wind energy.
Available at: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkey-to-construct-nuclear-plant-in-north--2010-05-16
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