1. Russia Voices Doubts Over Turkey-Brokered Iran Nuclear Deal
Hurriyet Daily News
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Russia's foreign minister has brushed off Iran's recent criticism as an emotional outburst and voiced doubt Thursday about whether Iran would fulfill the terms of a deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey aimed at resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Despite Russia's years of efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute, the response from the Iranian side has been unsatisfactory, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in comments that indicated growing dismay with Iran in Russia.
After years of resistance, Russia is now supporting possible new sanctions against Iran over concern that it is developing nuclear weapons. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took Russia to task for this on Wednesday, saying it was difficult to gauge whether the Kremlin was a friend or an enemy. "This statement is being interpreted as emotional," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.
Moscow, like Washington, has reacted coolly to the nuclear fuel deal aimed at defusing the standoff that was brokered by Brazil and Turkey earlier this month, a stance that has clearly disappointed Tehran.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev cautiously welcomed the deal but also expressed concern that it might fail to allay the main fear of the international community about Tehran's uranium enrichment operations.
Delivering an extraordinary broadside against a country that has traditionally been seen as enjoying the closest political ties to Tehran of any major world power, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a stinging attack against Russia on Wednesday, accusing it of "siding with those who have been our enemy for 30 years."
"The Tehran declaration (on a fuel swap) is the best opportunity. We took an important step and said something very important. There are no excuses left," Ahmadinejad said in the speech addressed to U.S. and Russian leaders.
"Today it has become very difficult to explain Mr. Medvedev's behavior to our people. Iranians do not understand whether they are our neighbor and friend standing by our side or are after other things," he said in the speech delivered in the southeastern city of Kerman.
"We hope Russian officials will pay attention, make amends and not let Iranians put them in line with their historic enemies. If I were in the Russian president's shoes I would be more cautious in commenting and decision making about issues pertaining to the great and strong nation of Iran."
Signed last week, the Brazil-Turkey-brokered nuclear swap deal calls for Iran to deposit a large part of its uranium stockpile in Turkey in exchange for better-enriched nuclear fuel destined for a research reactor in Tehran.
Expressing frustration with Iran in the standoff over its nuclear program, Lavrov gave no indication of how the deal might affect Russia's stance on a U.S.-drafted resolution in the U.N. Security Council calling for Iran to be punished with a new round of sanctions. "There are no 100 percent guarantees. Very much will depend on how Iran will approach its commitments. If it strictly abides by them, Russia will actively support the scheme proposed by Brazil and Turkey," Lavrov said.
"We welcome this deal. If fully implemented, it will create very important preconditions not just for the solution of the concrete problem - supplies of fuel for this reactor - but for improving the atmosphere for the renewal of negotiations," Lavrov added in televised remarks.
On Monday, Iran formally notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of its agreement to the nuclear fuel swap deal, under which it would ship some low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for higher-grade fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
Western governments have been dismissive of the deal, arguing that the international community needs to keep up the pressure on Tehran to heed U.N. Security Council demands over its nuclear program.
Brazil and Turkey had written letters to the leaders of the United States, France, Russia and Mexico, stressing the importance of the nuclear fuel swap agreement and saying it indicated Iran's readiness for dialogue.
Iran is already under three sets of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to suspend the sensitive process, which lies at the center of Western fears that the program is cover for a drive for a nuclear weapon. Iran denies any such ambition.
2. Ahmadinejad Urges Obama to Accept Nuke Swap Deal
Ali Akbar Dareini
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Iran's president on Wednesday urged Barack Obama to accept a nuclear fuel swap deal, warning the U.S. leader will miss a historic opportunity for improved cooperation from Tehran if the offer is rejected.
The remarks came just a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tehran's offer — submitted Monday to the U.N. nuclear watchdog — was inadequate and did not address international concerns about Iran's atomic ambitions.
Washington has denounced the Iranian proposal, brokered last week by Brazil and Turkey, as an attempt by Tehran to avoid a new round of U.N. sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which the West fears is geared toward nuclear weapons.
"There are people in the world who want to pit Mr. Obama against the Iranian nation and bring him to the point of no return, where the path to his friendship with Iran will be blocked forever," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a rally in the southern town of Kerman.
Ahamdinejad also issued a stern warning to Russia, saying Moscow's support for the U.S.-led push for new U.N. sanctions against Iran was contrary to the two countries' neighborly and friendly relations.
Iran proposed last week to ship much of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for nuclear fuel rods needed for a Tehran medical research reactor. The swap would diminish Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium that can possibly be used in making atomic bombs, if the uranium is enriched to a higher, weapons-grade level.
But the proposal did not deter U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — the five permanent Security Council members — from agreeing on a draft fourth set of sanctions against Iran for refusing to completely halt uranium enrichment, as demanded by the United Nations. Clinton, speaking Tuesday in the Chinese capital, Beijing, called Iran's proposal a "transparent ploy."
Tehran's offer is similar to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies last year pressed Iran to accept, but which the Mideast nation then rejected.
"If they (U.S. and its allies) are truthful when they say they seek cooperation ... they should accept this offer," Ahmadinejad said. "But if they seek excuses, they should know that the path to any interaction will be closed."
"Mr. Obama must know that this proposal is a historic opportunity ... (Obama should) know that if this opportunity is lost, I doubt the Iranian nation will give a new chance to this gentleman in the future," he added.
Like the U.N.-backed plan, Tehran's proposal would commit Iran to shipping 2,640 pounds (1,200 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium for storage abroad — in this case to Turkey. In exchange, Iran would get the higher-enriched uranium fuel rods within one year.
Although it seems to be a significant concession, Tehran is believed to have more nuclear material stockpiled since the International Atomic Energy Agency first made the proposal last October. The figure is estimated at about 5,500 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of low enriched uranium.
Iran's insistence that even with the deal it will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent — from which it can produce weapons-grade material much more quickly than from lower levels — is an even greater problem for the West.
Ahmadinejad on Wednesday also singled out Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, saying the neighboring country's leader had caved in to U.S. pressure for new sanctions on Tehran.
"Justifying the behavior of Mr. Medvedev today has become very difficult," he said. "The Iranian nation doesn't know whether (Russians) ultimately are friends, whether they stand by us or are after other things. This is not acceptable."
The unusually harsh words for Russia reflect a strain in Tehran's relations with Moscow, a longtime trade partner of Iran with more leverage over it than Western nations. Ahmadinejad said Moscow had no excuse for giving in to U.S. pressure, and urged Medvedev to change his stance.
"I hope Russian leaders and officials pay attention to these sincere words and correct themselves, and not let the Iranian nation consider them among its enemies," he said.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, and that uranium enrichment is meant exclusively for power generation. Tehran needs the fuel rods to power the research reactor, which also produces medical isotopes to treat cancer patients.
Ahmadinejad warned the reactor is running out of fuel, and stressed that the IAEA has a responsibility to supply nuclear fuel needed by member countries.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iRqjZV1Meppj40hTs8IBOv4DdsQwD9FUH3TO5
US Congressional leaders have decided to delay a new round of sanctions against Iran, waiting for multilateral embargos against Tehran's nuclear program by the United Nations.
Negotiations have been underway to combine separate Iran sanctions bills -- passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate -- into one bill for US President Barack Obama to sign into law.
The House has called for the finalization of the proposed measure by the end of May, which is expected to tighten US sanctions on Tehran and companies worldwide that do business with Iran.
However, Democrat chairmen of the negotiating committee Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Howard Berman said on Tuesday that they would wait to see whether the UN Security Council would pass a US-brokered draft resolution on new sanctions on Iran.
"We have always said that tough multilateral sanctions are the most effective means to persuade Iran to cease its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability," AFP quoted Berman and Dodd as saying in a joint statement.
The democratic leaders, however, vowed to pass "a package of tough US sanctions in the latter half of June."
The bills already approved by the House and Senate would target companies worldwide that supply gasoline to Iran and prevent them from doing business with the United States.
This is while the US-proposed draft of UN sanctions target Iranian banks and call for the inspection of vessels suspected of carrying cargo related to Iran's nuclear or missile programs.
The US and its Western allies have been making efforts to put a halt to Iran's uranium enrichment activities, charging that Tehran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons.
The Iranian government, however, strongly rejects the allegations, insisting that its nuclear program is aimed at the civilian applications of the technology such as meeting the increasing energy demands of the country and medical research.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=127824§ionid=351020104
4. Experts say Iran Nuclear Deal is Technically Impossible
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The uranium fuel agreement Iran struck with Turkey and Brazil is technically impossible as it fails to allocate enough time to make the fuel, a Western diplomat said here Monday.
¨It is technically impossible since the Iranians want the fuel to be made within a year but it will take at least one and a half years,¨ said the diplomat, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue.
The accord calls for Tehran to ship around half its stock of low-enriched uranium to Turkey and later receive a supply of more highly enriched uranium it needs for its Tehran research reactor (TRR), which makes isotopes for medical use.
The United States backed the deal in order for Iran to reduce its stockpile of uranium below the amount needed to make a first bomb.
Iran's uranium enrichment activities are at the heart of fears about its nuclear program because highly enriched uranium of over 90 percent purity can be used to make an atom bomb.
Iran has been enriching uranium up to five percent in what it says is an attempt to make low-enriched fuel for civilian power reactor use.
The fuel Iran needs for its research reactor is just under 20 percent enriched, a level closer to weapon-grade.
Iran formally notified the UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna Monday of its nuclear fuel swap deal with Turkey and Brazil.
Delegates from the three countries handed to the IAEA a letter about the May 17 deal struck in Tehran.
The IAEA did not immediately comment on the content of the letter but according the text of the agreement released last week Iran has ¨expressed its readiness to deposit its LEU (low enriched uranium - 1200 kg) within one month.
¨On the basis of the same agreement the Vienna Group should deliver 120 kg fuel required for TRR in no later than one year,¨ the May 17 text said.
The diplomat said this means that if Iran has not received its fuel in one year, it could take its low enriched uranium back from Turkey, where it is to be deposited, and so boost its stockpile.
Washington-based nuclear expert David Albright said it could take two years to make the fuel and this was a ¨real show-stopper¨ for the deal.
The fuel, said Albright, would be in the form of metal plates, which have to be densely concentrated with the right uranium isotope for the level of enrichment required.
Western governments have been dismissive of the new swap deal, saying it fails to address concerns about Iran's nuclear program which Tehran insists is for civilian purposes.
Available at: http://www.france24.com/en/20100525-experts-say-iran-nuclear-deal-technically-impossible
If the United States pursues new U.N. sanctions, Iran will abandon plans to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey, an Iranian leader said.
The comments by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani were made Sunday. Iran was to present its Turkey agreement to the International Atomic Energy Agency Monday, The New York Times reported. The accord called for Iran to store about half of its low-enriched uranium in Turkey and receive more highly enriched fuel after about a year from a third country for use in a medical reactor.
Because the deal did not call for Iran to end its uranium enrichment, which violates demands by the Security Council, the United States said it secured agreements with other major powers, including Russia and China, to impose a new set of sanctions on Iran.
Larijani, a former chief nuclear negotiator, said U.S. President Barrack Obama had asked for Turkey's help in mediating the nuclear dispute, then rejected a deal the country helped arrange, Iran's government-backed Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Iran's Parliament doesn't control the country's nuclear policy, but it does have the authority to force the government to change its relationship with the IAEA, the Times reported. For example, Iran could further restrict the agency's inspectors, or bar their entry into the country altogether.
The Times said it was unclear whether Larijani's remarks reflected the position of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/05/24/Iran-threatens-to-abandon-nuke-deal/UPI-99971274715067/
Moving to evade new U.N. sanctions, Iran on Monday formally submitted its plan to swap some of its enriched uranium for reactor fuel and urged world powers to defuse tensions by accepting the deal.
The development was unlikely to deter the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — which last week agreed on a draft outlining the fourth set of sanctions against Tehran for refusing to give up uranium enrichment.
But Turkey and Brazil support Tehran. They are co-sponsors of the fuel swap deal, and Iranian officials told The Associated Press that diplomats from both countries joined with an Iranian representative in handing the proposal on Monday to Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Their backing is important in blunting a sanctions push because they are elected Security Council members that carry weight among some of the eight other countries chosen for temporary council memberships. They have signaled they will vote against new sanctions, which must be approved by 10 of the 15 council members.
"We expect others to seize this unique opportunity," Iranian envoy Ali Ashgar Soltanieh told the AP.
Brazil and Turkey also are important for Washington.
Brazil is South America's largest nation and has a dominant role on the continent, while Turkey, a key NATO ally and a traditional regional U.S. mainstay, has moved to develop an increasingly independent voice.
Beyond seeking to flex their muscles, support of Tehran by these two nations is a reflection of their own nuclear priorities. Brazil has a sophisticated nuclear program that includes uranium enrichment, while diplomats say that Turkey has implicitly expressed interest in domestic enrichment as part of any future large-scale civilian nuclear program.
The deal would commit Iran to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. In exchange, Iran would receive, within one year, higher-enriched fuel rods to be used in a U.S.-built medical research reactor.
The pact mirrors a swap proposed in October in which Iran would have shipped the same amount of low-enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for higher-enriched material for its research reactor. That deal fell apart over Tehran's insistence that the swap take place on Iranian soil.
On its face, the latest plan seems a significant concession, with Iran agreeing to ship its material to be stored in Turkey and to wait up to a year for higher-enriched uranium from France and Russia. However, Iran is believed to have much more nuclear material stockpiled now.
In October, swapping 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) would have left Iran with less than the 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of material needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb. Since then, Iran has continued to churn out low-enriched material and started enriching uranium to an even higher level — from 3.5 percent to near 20 percent.
While Tehran insists it has no nuclear arms ambitions, it could produce weapons grade uranium much more quickly from the 20 percent level
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j9EVzzCsT-QwKFtWDzgF6ZLue6BgD9FT6MAG0
1. S. Korea to Communicate with U.N. Security Council Over Sunken Ship as Early as Next Week
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea plans to ask the U.N. Security Council as early as next week to take up North Korea's deadly sinking of a southern warship, an official said Thursday, setting in motion what is expected to be a complicated process to punish Pyongyang.
South Korea plans to make the request through a letter to the Council's chairman, now Mexico, stressing that the sinking is a grave international security matter that merits Council action, the official said on condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivity.
A multinational team of investigators announced last week that North Korea sank the South Korean naval ship Cheonan on March 26 in an unprovoked torpedo attack near their tense Yellow Sea border. Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed.
Many countries around the world have condemned the North, but prospects of U.N. punishment for the regime are unclear because China, a veto-wielding permanent member, could block it. Beijing has taken a vague stance on the issue without denouncing Pyongyang.
"I believe we can raise the Cheonan incident with the Security Council as early as next week after putting in maximum efforts to try to persuade China," the official said.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to visit South Korea for talks Friday with President Lee Myung-bak that will be followed by a three-way summit between South Korea, China and Japan on the southern resort island of Jeju. The sinking is expected to dominate those meetings.
"The specific timing for a U.N. referral will be determined" after the summit meetings, another government official said. "But it won't be too late so as not to lose momentum" created by last week's announcement of the investigation outcome and subsequent diplomatic events.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun told reporters that no decision has been made as to the specific timing of a referral, but South Korea believes that the case should be brought to the Council as early as possible.
Kim also said South Korea's independent measures to punish the North, such as halting trade with the communist neighbor, are not meant to escalate tensions but are aimed at "sending an appropriate message over North Korea's wrong behavior" so as to lead the regime onto "a right path and ensure peace and stability on the peninsula in a long term perspective."
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a brief stopover in Seoul on her way home from China to reiterate Washington's full support for South Korea's handling of the disaster, including referring it to the Security Council.
Clinton called the North's attack "unacceptable" and said the international community has "a responsibility and a duty" to respond, an apparent attempt to pressure China. She also said the U.S. is considering unspecified "additional options" to hold "North Korea and its leaders accountable."
South Korea hopes to get the Council to adopt a resolution containing fresh sanctions or toughen existing ones -- adopted after North Korea's nuclear tests in 2007 and 2009.
North Korea has denied any role in the sinking and ratcheted up belligerent rhetoric, issuing threats to go to an "all-out war" if it is punished, bolster its arsenal of nuclear weapons and strike down propaganda facilities South Korea plans to set up along the border.
Pyongyang has also declared it would cut off any remaining ties with Seoul, expelled South Korean government personnel from a joint industrial complex in its border town of Kaesong and threatened to close the factory park -- the last remaining symbol of reconciliation.
On Thursday, the North said it was withdrawing all its military safeguards with South Korea.
Seoul's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said North Korea is at an "important crossroads" and urged Pyongyang to choose a better future by ending provocations and becoming a responsible member of the international community.
"I think it's a time of choice for North Korea," Yu was quoted by his office as saying in an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK. "We don't want tensions. North Korea should also understand that provocations won't do it any good at all."
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/05/27/44/0301000000AEN20100527008800315F.HTML
2. N.Korea Says Has Right to Step up Nuclear Deterrent
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North Korea said on Monday that it had the right to expand its nuclear deterrent and had developed nuclear arms in a transparent manner, its official media reported.
Although its stance on nuclear weapons was not new, the statement issued by the North's KCNA news agency came just hours after South Korea announced measures to punish Pyongyang for sinking one of its naval ships in March.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSEW00219420100524
2. NPT Agreement Expected To Be "Weak," Says Western Envoy
Xinhua News Agency
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The final agreement at the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is expected to be weak, a Western diplomat said here on Monday.
"The final document will be weak because it will be the only way to have a document," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The month-long Review Conference will conclude on Friday, with a consensus agreement aimed at strengthening the three pillars of the NPT: disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The last NPT Review Conference in 2005 was largely considered a failure when state parties failed to reach an agreement on a number of issues, including concrete steps that could be taken to implement the 1995 Middle East Resolution, which calls for a nuke- free region.
This time around, the existence of a final document in and of itself will be used as a measuring stick for progress, despite the likelihood that it will be watered down, said the diplomat. Success will be based on three key factors: a consensus document, "balanced" action plans among all three pillars, and something on the Middle East.
That would be sufficient for many countries, said the diplomat, adding that anything could happen over the next three days of negotiations, which could derail the process.
A number of key challenges still exist between the five nuclear powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and the Egypt-led bloc of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The most difficult challenge appears to be in drafting a consensus document on the implementation of the 1995 Middle East Resolution.
The current draft document calls on all Middle East states to convene at a United Nations meeting sometime in 2012. Israel, which is not an NPT signatory, has said any meeting on the issue should be tied to the Middle East peace process, something Arab nations disagree with.
The idea is to have everyone on board, which means no preconditions, said the diplomat, adding that it would be very difficult to name specific countries in the region without jeopardizing their presence at the meeting.
As a result, there might be a final document that calls for a meeting but would not name any specific countries, a major concession for many delegations at the negotiations.
"We want something so that all countries come to the table," said the diplomat. "But it's so fragile, it's so difficult."
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2010-05/25/c_13313369.htm
3. U.S., Egypt Strive for Mideast Nuclear Arms Ban Deal
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The United States and Egypt are working to bridge differences on a proposed Middle East nuclear arms ban, an idea that could one day force Israel to scrap any atom bombs it has, U.N. diplomats say.
The U.S. efforts to secure a deal with Egypt and other Arab countries reflect Washington's concern to win their backing for sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program by offering a concession over U.S. ally Israel, even though Washington says such a ban is impossible without peace in the Middle East.
Western diplomats say that the success or failure of a month-long meeting on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) currently under way in New York hinges on the sensitive negotiations on an Egyptian proposal to hold a conference on establishing a zone free of nuclear arms in the Middle East.
"If we can't get a deal on the Middle East in the next few days, the NPT review conference will probably collapse," a Western diplomat told Reuters. "It's what happened in 2005."
Another Western diplomat familiar with the talks was guardedly optimistic. Despite the appearance of a chasm separating the Arabs from the United States and the four other permanent U.N. Security Council members, "informal conversations indicate the sides are not in reality too far apart," he said.
"The next few days will be critical," the envoy added.
NPT review conferences are held every five years to take stock of and assess compliance with the anti-nuclear arms pact. They make decisions by consensus, which makes it difficult to reach agreements, since all 189 NPT signatories have a veto.
The last review conference in 2005 was widely viewed as a failure. It collapsed due to Egypt's outrage at the failure to move forward on the Middle East nuclear-arms-free zone idea and developing nations' anger at the United States for refusing to reaffirm disarmament pledges from 2000.
Both Egypt and the United States are eager to avoid another collapse. Cairo does not want to be labeled as a spoiler again, while the United States wants an outcome that helps ratchet up the pressure on Iran and supports President Barack Obama's determination to move toward a world free of nuclear arms.
If there is no deal on the Middle East, envoys say, there can be no agreement on a final declaration that "names and shames" Iran and North Korea and acknowledges the disarmament steps the big powers have taken, which Washington and its allies want.
The United States and the four other countries allowed to keep nuclear arms under the NPT -- fellow Security Council veto powers Britain, France, China and Russia -- have been negotiating with the Arabs on the sidelines of the NPT meeting, which concludes at the end of next week, to secure a deal.
Egypt, which chairs the powerful 118-nation bloc of non-aligned developing nations, circulated a proposal to all 189 NPT signatories calling for a conference by next year on ridding the Middle East of nuclear arms in which all countries in the region would participate.
Washington came up with a counterproposal, which calls for "the convening of a conference in 2012-2013 of all states of the Middle East to discuss implementation of the 1995 resolution in its entirety."
The 1995 resolution adopted by NPT signatories calls for making the Middle East a zone without atomic bombs or other weapons of mass destruction, and notes that the Middle East peace process could help to make it a reality.
Israel neither confirms nor denies having nuclear arms.
Egypt has insisted that both Israel and Iran would have to participate in such a conference, even though Tehran does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Western diplomats agree, but say that Israel would be reluctant to participate.
Still, the Jewish state could be persuaded, they say.
"Israel will attend if the cost of not attending is higher than the cost of attending," a senior Western diplomat said.
Among the possible enticements for Israel would be to ensure that any such regional conference also covers biological and chemical weapons, not just nuclear arms, as well as regional security and other issues, Western diplomats said.
Like nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, Israel never signed the NPT and is not officially at the NPT review conference. Egypt and Syria are outside the chemical weapons convention that bans production, stockpiling and use of chemical arms.
Diplomats say the sticking points include the format for such a conference and the question of whether it should be organized by the United Nations, as the Arabs would like.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64K12C20100521?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews
The President of Mexico's Senate Carlos Navarrete says civilian nuclear energy does not solely belong to super powers and belongs to all nations worldwide.
"Access to modern technologies namely the nuclear is the legitimate right of all nations and we strongly support this," IRNA quoted Carlos Navarrete as saying on Tuesday in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
Iran's Foreign minister is currently in Mexico where he is holding talks with the country's senior officials.
Mexico is currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
The five veto-wielding members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- agreed last week on a US-proposed draft resolution for further sanctions against Iran.
Addressing recent events, the senior lawmaker stressed that Iran should not cease its efforts to attain its nation's legitimate rights and said that "Mexico will accompany Iran in putting all its efforts to end the nuclear impasse."
Mottaki also held separate talks with Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa Cantellano on Monday in Mexico City.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=127679§ionid=351020104
The United States has hinted that it would not oppose the China-Pak nuclear deal if it is in recognition with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) rules, said P J Crowley, the state department spokesman at a press meeting on Monday, May 24.
"We will seek to make sure that, should this deal go forward, it is in compliance with the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)," he said.
He said that he is not sure whether the issue would come up in the ongoing discussions with China as Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of the State, is in China. He said that US is talking to China more broadly about the implications of the nuclear deal.
Two noted American scholars on South Asia had previously hinted that there are signs of Obama administration to soften its response towards Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation
3. Texas May Get Nuclear Waste from Dozens of States
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Texas was all set to be part of an agreement with Vermont to dump nuclear waste in a remote region of the Lone Star state, and for the most part people living near the site were OK with it.
Now, though, that compact could mushroom to include waste from 36 other states, reinvigorating those who oppose the project to fight harder.
Environmentalists, geologists, the Texas League of Women Voters and others say the huge dumping ground will pollute groundwater and otherwise wreak havoc with the environment. The company that runs the site contends it'll be safe and many local residents applaud any expansion as a way to bring more jobs and prosperity to the West Texas scrubland.
"They got to put it somewhere," said Kathy Trevino, a retired nurses' aide who lives in Andrews, the closest Texas town to the site. "As long as they're safe and don't intentionally cause harm, I don't have a problem with it."
Opponents of the compact have an uphill climb in trying to stop the expansion. But they recently flooded the commission with thousands of comments critical of the rules that outline how the compact will handle other states' applications to dispose of the waste in Texas. That forced the panel to delay voting on those rules.
Also, more than a dozen state lawmakers have joined the opposition, saying the commission needs to slow down the approval process.
The 1,340-acre site owned by Waste Control Specialists is one of the nation's only dumps licensed to take all three categories of low-level waste.
The commission is proposing rules to regulate waste that would come in from other states. If approved, the facility would take the low-level waste which includes workers' clothing, glass, metal and other materials used at nuclear power plants, hospitals, universities and research labs. Currently those facilities store the waste at their own sites.
In the early '80s, the federal government began urging states to build low-level nuclear waste landfills, either on their own or in cooperation with other states in compact systems. Since then, South Carolina entered into a compact with New Jersey and Connecticut, agreeing to dispose of nuclear waste at a landfill that later accepted waste from dozens of other states.
Ten years ago, South Carolina lawmakers said they no longer wanted to be the nation's dumping grounds and in 2008 the facility began accepting waste from only its compact partners, leading other states to look to Texas to store their waste.
And there could be more nuclear waste in need of a home if President Barack Obama moves ahead with his plan to build dozens of new nuclear facilities.
Environmentalists are largely worried about toxins from the site leaking into groundwater beneath the scrub brush land that's brought oil prosperity to arid West Texas for nearly a century.
They point to South Carolina as an example. Tritium levels have been detected in groundwater beneath South Carolina's nuclear waste landfill that are above the Environmental Protection Agency's standard for safe drinking water. The company that runs the site acknowledged a leak, traced to the late 1970s, when the company says its disposal practices were not as advanced as today.
"I think it's horrible," longtime opponent Peggy Pryor said of the Texas site. "They still haven't proved to me that it won't leak into the aquifers."
Radiation safety experts said they understand opponents' concerns but questioned their validity.
"That does not mean there will be zero leaks," said Andy Karam, a radiation safety expert with 30 years experience. "It just won't hurt anybody. There won't be enough radiation to be harmful."
Company spokesman Chuck McDonald has said the site is safe and state and federal regulators approved it after exhaustive study and analysis.
An increase in volume from the other states' waste would mean more money. The county gets 5 percent quarterly of Waste Control Specialists' gross receipts from the waste disposal operation. Also, residents are backing the site with $75 million in bonds to build it.
Critics say the rules, which address process, don't address safety issues for waste trucked along Texas roadways nor do they make clear how much the state's financial liability goes up once the waste is here.
"Once waste comes into the state of Texas, the state of Texas accepts the economic burden ... through the remainder of time, so I think we need to slow down," said State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth.
The compact commission consists of two Vermont governor appointees and six who were appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.
Pat Bobeck, a geologist for more than two decades, left the state's environmental agency in 2007 when her recommendation against approving the site was ignored.
More waste, Bobeck said, means bigger problems.
"It's just like garbage in your garbage can — if you have more, it stinks more and faster," she said. "When profit becomes more important than safety, safety goes out the window."
Bangladesh and Russia signed a framework agreement for Russian cooperation for Bangladesh's first nuclear plant.
Bangladesh aims to produce at least 2,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020 from two units of the proposed Rooppur plant and also to have nuclear energy account for 10 percent of its total power generation by that time, Bangladeshi state news agency BSS reports.
The agreement, signed Friday in Russia, calls for the transfer of materials, technologies, equipment and services to implement joint programs in the field of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Under the agreement, Russia will be responsible for the design and construction of nuclear power and research reactors as well as supply nuclear fuel and take back spent fuel. Training for Bangladeshi staff on how to run and maintain the plants will take place in Russia.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 billion, with most of it to be provided domestically, officials said.
"We decided to engage the builder of the project on bilateral state-to-state basis instead of going for (a) time-consuming international bidding process," said an official with Bangladesh's Science and Information and Communication Technology Ministry.
The agreement calls for the project to be supervised by the governments of Bangladesh and Russia through a joint coordination committee.
Last May, the countries signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to enhance cooperation for peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Bangladesh is in the grips of a serious energy crisis. The country produces up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity each day, falling short of the minimum daily demand of 6,000 megawatts, the power ministry says.
Bangladesh's electricity supply meets less than 75 percent of peak demand, a World Bank report shows. Only about 47 percent of households have access to electricity.
An editorial in Bangladesh's The Daily Star newspaper applauded the deal, calling it "a milestone" in the history of Dhaka-Moscow relations that "introduces a new dimension to bilateral cooperation in our part of the world" and "signifies a new direction in energy policy prioritization and diversification."
"With our acute need for power, not just for domestic consumption but, more crucially, for industrial purposes, the agreement reassures us about a way out of the woods," the editorial said. "More to the point, it is a sign that in its enlightened national interest, Bangladesh can and must strike deals with nations willing to do business with it in a cooperative manner and with full understanding of the principles governing relations between nations."
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/05/24/Bangladesh-Russia-sign-nuclear-power-deal/UPI-13831274719417/
2. Israel's Peres Denies South Africa Nuclear Weapons Deal
BBC News Online
(for personal use only)
Israel's President Shimon Peres has denied a report which claims there was an alleged nuclear pact between Israel and apartheid South Africa.
Documents to be published in a new book show Israel agreed to give South Africa nuclear weapons in 1975, the Guardian newspaper has reported.
Mr Peres was Israel's defence minister at the time and was named in the Guardian article.
The news comes as tension over nuclear weapons in the region is increasing.
Mr Peres' spokeswoman, Ayelet Frisch, said there was "no basis, no foundation in reality" for the reports.
"We regret that the paper used in the story documents by the South African government officials rather than documents that present the facts," a statement given to the BBC said.
"Israel did not conduct any negotiations for the sale of nuclear weapons to South Africa and none of the aforementioned documents are original signed Israeli documents that confirm the existence of such talks of such negotiations."
The president is going to write a letter to the Guardian demanding "the right facts" be reported, the statement said.
The Guardian reported that the previously secret documents, unearthed by American academic Sasha Polakow-Suransky, provided the first official documentary evidence of the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons.
Israel operates a policy of "ambiguity" over its nuclear programme, but in 1986 Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu revealed details of a nuclear reactor in Israel. The Federation of American Scientists estimates Israel could have produced up to 200 nuclear weapons.
The Guardian also said the documents could undermine any claim that Israel might make that it is a responsible country and can be trusted to hold nuclear weapons, while Iran is not.
The alleged deal also indicates the strength of the relationship between the Israeli government and apartheid South Africa, the Guardian said.
Weapons 'in three sizes'
The secret documents were declassified by the post-apartheid South African government.
They include minutes of secret meetings between officials of both countries - one cover note is apparently signed by PW Botha, then South Africa's defence minister, and Mr Peres.
They refer to an offer of Israeli weapons "in three sizes" this is thought to refer to conventional, biological and nuclear weapons.
The original documents state the "very existence of this agreement" were classified as "secret and shall not to be disclosed by either party".
But the evidence contained in the report could be argued to be circumstantial, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Tim Franks says.
A previously declassified memo written by South Africa's military Chief of Staff laid out the benefits to South Africa of acquiring Israel's Jericho ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads attached.
That memo was written on the same day as the meetings between South Africa and Israel in which Mr Peres now denies were negotiations for nuclear weapons.
In the end, the South Africans rejected the deal because it was too expensive.
They developed their own nuclear weapons programme, which was dismantled between 1983 and 1993.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10146075.stm
3. Nuclear Deal to be Sealed with Argentina During MoS Visit
The Financial Express
(for personal use only)
In a bid to indicate to Argentina its keenness for cementing relationship in the energy sector, minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur will visit Argentina to seal the civil nuclear cooperation deal, which has received approval from the Cabinet. The minister will visit capital Buenos Aires from May 23-27 .
Senior officials in the MEA told FE, “The Civil Nuclear Agreement with Argentina will be inked during the minister’s visit to the capital .”
The minister accompanied by senior officials will meet foreign minister Jorge Taiana and industry and tourism minister Debora Giorgi and discuss opportunities for bilateral cooperation in various sectors such as science and technology. The minister is also scheduled to watch a football match. Argentina now becomes the seventh country with which India would have signed a civil nuclear agreement following the lifting of a 34-year-old ban on nuclear commerce in September 2008 by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The agreement, which was signed during the visit of the President Cristina Fernando de Kirchner here in October 2009 has received Cabinet approval now and Kaur’s signing the agreement in Argentina will lead to its operationalisation.
It maybe recalled that the Agreement for Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was signed by Vivek Katju, secretary (West) in the MEA and the Argentine foreign minister Jorge Talana.
India has already signed similar pacts with the US, France, Russia, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Mongolia. According to officials, India and Argentina will make use of the synergies between them and the vast experience of their nuclear scientists and technologists.
“Taking into account their respective capabilities and experience in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, both India and Argentina have agreed to encourage and support scientific technical and commercial cooperation for mutual benefit in this field,” officials added.
Available at: http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Nuclear-deal-to-be-sealed-with-Argentina-during-MoS-visit/622665/
South Korea and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday settled a nuclear pact on safety guidelines for reactors to be build in the Middle East, government officials said.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the deal was signed in Seoul between Vice Science Minister Kim Jung-hyun and Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's nuclear ambassador.
The latest nuclear safety pact is a supplementary deal to their previous agreement reached last year to build four 1,400 megawatt reactors in the Middle East country by 2020.
"The pact calls for Seoul and Abu Dhabi to share and check safety requirements, technologies and regulations related to the construction of the reactors in the coming years," an official at the ministry was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.
The deal also calls on the Seoul government to help Saudi Arabia construct a nuclear safety control infrastructure.
In late 2009, the South Korean government struck a 40 billion U. S. dollars project to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, winning over its rivals such as the United States and France.
North Vietnam now intends to construct eight nuclear reactors, twice the number described in its existing plans, according to a statement by deputy prime minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, reported in Japanese newspaper The Nikkei on May 18. The overall programme cost is also expected to double to about 3 trillion yen.
Vietnam is currently planning to build southeast Asia's first nuclear power plants outside China. The project is in its first stage, which includes building a facility with two reactors in the southern province of Ninh Thuan. Construction is to begin in 2014, with the facilities to go onstream in 2020. The government plans to construct two more reactors in the first stage of its nuclear power project.
Aside from the four initially planned, Nhan said, four additional reactors will be built, but he did not reveal the locations or other details. He noted that six factors will be taken into account in awarding contracts, including the introduction of proven advanced technologies, the offering of low-interest loans and a stable supply of nuclear fuel over the long term. Vietnam will give priority to the partner that best meets these demands, he said.
Russia's state-owned nuclear power firm Rosatom is expected to win the order for the first plant. Toshiba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Hitachi Ltd have formed a consortium with the Japanese government to bid for the second plant.
China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), through its subsidiary China Zhongyuan Engineering Corporation (CZEC) has announced plans to supply desalinization reactors internationally. Known as ‘Green World Water’, the product will be marketed in partnership with US firm Alternative Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI). It will be available to order in the summer of 2010.
The reactors that power the desalinization units will come in 650 and 1100MWe sizes and can be tailored to produce water and electricity at a desired ratio. The designs are evolved from Westinghouse reactors currently operating in the USA, and were further developed by the French before being built in China.
The partnership and reactor design was an idea by AEHI CEO Don Gillispie, who began working with CNNC's subsidiary on the project over a year ago. While there have been some small units built in Asia, mostly for domestic consumption, a larger commercial version was not readily available to the world.
"I had the idea many years ago to build and market a desalinization unit powered by a commercial nuclear reactor, but when I first met with CNNC, the design was still in my head, so I sketched it onto a piece of paper. Since then, it has evolved into a design that can solve water problems around the globe," said Gillispie.
In a statement AEHI said: “the product will be the largest, cleanest, most efficient, most cost-effective converter of salt water to drinking water on the market.”
Several countries have already begun contacting AEHI about the desalinization reactor, and the company says it hopes to have several projects underway within a year.
"These deals are huge for AEHI, but they will also provide a tremendous benefit for many developing countries as over three billion people, half the world's population, don't have clean drinking water, according to National Geographic Magazine. These reactors will solve water issues, but they can also create needed power and produce thousands of jobs where they are desperately needed," Gillispie added.
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