1. Ahmadinejad Has "Fair" Proposals for U.N. Nuclear Meet
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Iran will put forward "practical and fair" proposals on disarmament and world security at a meeting of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which starts on Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.
Ahmadinejad was speaking to Iranian media upon arrival in New York, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported.
Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic bombs, will be one of the most hotly debated topics on the sidelines of the month-long NPT review conference, a meeting held every five years.
Western diplomats expect Ahmadinejad to mark its opening by accusing the United States of using fears about proliferation as a pretext to deny developing nations access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in breach of the NPT.
Iran, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity, not bombs.
It has often said nuclear arms have no place in its defense doctrine and called on the United States and other countries with such weapons to dismantle them.
"Iran will submit practical, fair and clear proposals in regard to world security and disarmament in this conference," Ahmadinejad said, without giving details.
"Disarmament and the peaceful application of nuclear energy are two important world topics. The Islamic Republic regards disarmament as an influential topic in world peace and will follow up on that," Ahmadinejad added, Mehr reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak several hours after Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West.
Last week she predicted that the Iranian president might not receive a very warm welcome in New York City and said that Iran's record of violating the NPT was "indisputable."
The United States, Britain, Germany and France are negotiating with Russia and China on a possible fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE6421AQ20100503
2. Clinton Says It's Time for Strong Iran Penalties
Charles J. Hanley
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, accusing Iran of "flouting the rules," called Monday for a strong international response to Tehran's alleged development of a nuclear weapons program.
Earlier in the day, the first in a monthlong conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected such allegations, saying Washington has offered not "a single credible proof."
Because of suspicions Iranian uranium enrichment is designed to produce bombs, the U.S. is negotiating with other Security Council nations here to impose a fourth round of U.N. economic sanctions against Iran.
Clinton proposed that the nonproliferation treaty be strengthened by introducing "automatic penalties" for noncompliance, rather than depending on such drawn-out council diplomacy.
Iran's actions have "placed the future of the nonproliferation regime in jeopardy," she said.
The secretary of state also announced a new U.S. initiative on stockpile "transparency" that would provide previously undisclosed details about the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The Obama administration was expected to release a more precise accounting of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in Washington later in the day.
Iran's Ahmadinejad, addressing delegations of 189 treaty nations, denounced the Obama administration's refusal to rule out the use of U.S. nuclear weapons.
"Regrettably, the government of the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran," Ahmadinejad said.
He referred to the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review's provision retaining an option to use U.S. atomic arms against countries not in compliance with the nonproliferation pact, a charge Washington lays against Iran.
Ahmadinejad also invited U.S. President Barack Obama to join a "humane movement" that would set a timetable for abolishing all atomic arms, weapons he called "disgusting and shameful."
As the Iranian president spoke, the U.S. delegation, of working-level staff, walked out of the General Assembly hall, as did several European delegations, including the French and British.
Opening the conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon directly challenged Tehran.
"The onus is on Iran to clarify the doubts and concerns about its program," the U.N. chief told the delegates.
He called on the Tehran government "to fully comply with Security Council resolutions" demanding that it halt enrichment, which Washington and others contend is meant to produce the nuclear fuel for bombs in violation of Iran's NPT obligations.
Later, Yukiya Amano, head of the U.N. watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, said his inspectors could not confirm all of Iran's nuclear material is devoted to peaceful activities. He called on Iran to "clarify activities with a possible military dimension."
Ahmadinejad, the only head of state participating in the conference, complained that the U.S. and its allies were pressuring Iran "on the false pretext of probable diversions in their peaceful nuclear activities without providing even a single credible proof to substantiate their allegation."
The Iranian leader reiterated his country's support for establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, an Arab-backed idea aimed at Israel's unacknowledged nuclear arsenal of perhaps 80 bombs. He also called on the U.S. to dismantle its tactical nuclear weapons on NATO bases in Europe.
Ahmadinejad's appearance came at the start of a four-week diplomatic marathon meant to produce a consensus final document pointing toward ways to better achieve the NPT's goals of checking the spread of nuclear weapons, while working toward reducing and eventually eliminating them.
The treaty is regarded as the world's single most important pact on nuclear arms, credited with preventing their proliferation to dozens of nations since it entered into force in 1970.
Treaty members gather every five years to discuss new approaches to problems, by agreeing, for example, that the IAEA should be strengthened. The only countries that are not treaty members are India, Pakistan, North Korea, all of which have nuclear arsenals or weapons programs, and Israel, which has an unacknowledged nuclear arsenal.
At three of seven past conferences, delegates failed to produce a declaration, including in 2005, at a time when the U.S. administration, under President George W. Bush, was unenthusiastic about arms control talks.
Obama has steered the U.S. back onto a negotiating track, including with a new U.S.-Russian agreement to reduce their thousands of long-range nuclear arms. Despite that, Libran N. Cabactulan, the Philippine diplomat who is president of this 2010 NPT conference, said he finds the No. 1 goal of many treaty nations is to press the NPT nuclear powers — also including Britain, France and China — to move more rapidly toward disarmament.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iP_c47WRWDs-U5bRaYXA9xgrrmhwD9FFJ2H80
Iran is challenging U.S. naval power in the Middle East with an array of offensive and defensive weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday.
"Iran is combining ballistic and cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, mines, and swarming speedboats in order to challenge our naval power in that region," Gates told a conference of U.S. Navy advocates outside Washington.
Gates did not elaborate on the perceived Iranian threat.
His remarks were part of a review of budget and shipbuilding trade-offs facing the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and they came the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations in New York.
Gates said last week he was satisfied with the pace of U.S. planning to thwart Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and other Western nations suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran says the program is to generate electricity.
Pentagon planners have been drawing up military options in case President Barack Obama opts to use force against Tehran. U.S. leaders repeatedly have said that would be an option of last resort if sanctions and diplomacy failed.
Iran's naval forces include several anti-ship coastal defense missile batteries as well as submarines, missile boat and naval aviation units, according to an unclassified version of a Pentagon report on Iranian military power sent to Congress last month.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE6423WJ20100503
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brings his nuclear case to New York on Monday, turning a U.N. treaty conference into a stage for Tehran's long-running showdown with the Western powers over its uranium enrichment program.
The only head of state participating, Ahmadinejad was one of Monday's scheduled kickoff speakers for the monthlong session, to review the workings of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Departing Tehran on Sunday, the Iranian leader made clear he would assail U.S.-led efforts to impose a new round of U.N. sanctions on his country for refusing to stop its enrichment program, which Washington and others contend is meant to produce the nuclear fuel for bombs in violation of Iran's NPT obligations.
"Under the pretext of prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation, they impose heavy pressures on independent countries," Ahmadinejad complained to reporters.
He is also expected to counter with a denunciation of the United States and other nuclear-armed nations for their slow movement toward disarmament. "The atomic bomb has become a tool for bullying, domination and expansionism," he said Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, following Ahmadinejad to the U.N. stage later Monday, suggested over the weekend he was coming to New York "to divert attention and confuse the issue."
"We're not going to permit Iran to try to change the story from their failure to comply" with the NPT, she said on Sunday's "Meet the Press" on NBC.
The U.S. delegation will find an ally in U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said last week that "the onus is on you" — Ahmadinejad — to prove the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, as Iran claims.
While delegates assess the state of the NPT in U.N. conference halls, American and European diplomats will be working elsewhere to reach agreement with the sometimes reluctant China and Russia on a fourth round of U.N. Security Council economic penalties to impose on Iran.
Although Ahmadinejad's presence meant the first-day agenda was dominated by the Iran issue, it was only the beginning of a four-week diplomatic marathon meant to produce a consensus final document pointing toward ways to better achieve the NPT's goals of checking the spread of nuclear weapons, while working toward reducing and eventually eliminating them.
The treaty is regarded as the world's single most important pact on nuclear arms, credited with preventing their proliferation to dozens of nations since it entered into force in 1970. It was a grand global bargain: Nations without nuclear weapons committed not to acquire them; those with them committed to move toward their elimination; and all endorsed everyone's right to develop peaceful nuclear energy.
The 189 treaty members — every nation but India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, all of which have nuclear arsenals or weapons programs — gather every five years to discuss new approaches to problems, by agreeing, for example, that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear inspection agency, should be strengthened.
But the NPT conference cannot easily "name and shame" an alleged treaty violator, such as Iran, since as a member state its delegation would block consensus.
At three of seven past conferences, delegates failed to produce a declaration, including in 2005, at a time when the U.S. administration, under President George W. Bush, was unenthusiastic about arms control talks.
President Barack Obama has steered the U.S. back onto a negotiating track, including with a new U.S.-Russian agreement to reduce their thousands of long-range nuclear arms. Despite that, Libran N. Cabactulan, the Philippine diplomat who is president of this 2010 NPT conference, said he finds the No. 1 goal of many treaty nations is to press the NPT nuclear powers — also including Britain, France and China — to move more rapidly toward disarmament.
To that end, the Nonaligned Movement of 118 developing nations has submitted to the conference a detailed "plan of action" for moving toward global nuclear disarmament by 2030. One its earliest steps is full ratification and entry into force of the 1996 treaty banning all nuclear tests.
In the first concrete step associated with this 2010 meeting, Indonesia announced last week it would ratify the test-ban treaty. Obama has pledged to push for U.S. ratification of the pact, which was rejected by the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate in 1999.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iP_c47WRWDs-U5bRaYXA9xgrrmhwD9FF5URO0
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says there is no need for Tehran to gain the trust of Western nations since Iran abides by international regulations.
Arriving in New York to take part in a conference reviewing the 40-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), President Ahmadinejad also insisted that Iran considers disarmament an influential factor in global security and will accordingly pursue the matter.
Iran has "practical, impartial and clear proposals for this conference" to help the "global security and disarmament," the president said on Sunday upon his arrival at JFK airport.
In response to a reporter's question on ways to gain the trust of Western nations on the nuclear question, Ahmadinejad emphasized, "we should not offer ways to obtain their trust as Iran abides by the international law and acts within its framework," IRNA reported.
"Disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy are two most important global issues," he added.
Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to address the 2010 NPT Review Conference at the United Nations headquarters, left for New York at the head of a high-ranking delegation.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, senior Presidential Advisor Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, and the Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi will accompany the Iranian president during the visit.
The conference, which will run from May 3 to May 28, aims to review the global progress in fulfilling disarmament obligations set out in the NPT.
Before leaving Tehran, Ahmadinejad told reporters that nuclear weapons have posed "the single greatest threat" to the world for more than sixty years.
Ahmadinejad said that the possession of an atomic bomb has become "an instrument to serve the hegemonic and expansionist interests of a select few."
"Under the pretext of nuclear non-proliferation, certain countries exert political pressure on those merely seeking to pursue peaceful enrichment activities," said the Iranian president.
He went on to say that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has failed to fulfill its main obligations over the past four decades. One of the obligations the IAEA has failed to meet, Ahmadinejad said, was the disarming of all nuclear-armed states.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=125242§ionid=351020104
6. UN's Ban Says `Onus' on Iran to Dispel Suspicions
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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the "onus" is on Iran to clear up suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at building atomic weapons.
Ban has called on Iran to comply fully with U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that it halt its uranium enrichment program. He was speaking Monday at the start of a monthlong conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Ban has spoken at the 189-nation conference before Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad is to take the podium. Ahmadinejad is the only head of state participating in the conference.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iP_c47WRWDs-U5bRaYXA9xgrrmhwD9FFED6G0
Iran, whose nuclear dispute with the West has raised the possibility of new regional conflict, has developed a short-range defense system to combat Cruise missiles, its defense minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
"A new short range anti-Cruise defense system with the capability to fire 4,000 rounds of bullets per minute has been produced at the defense ministry and soon will be inaugurated," Ahmad Vahidi said on semi-official Fars news agency.
"We are at the design and production phase of various defense systems in the short, medium and long-range categories," he added, citing the Mersad air defense and Shahin missile defense systems.
Cruise missiles are guided missiles that operate at low level to evade radar detection. They can fly up to supersonic speeds carrying either conventional or nuclear warheads.
The U.S. administration said last month that Iran and North Korea were excluded from new limits on the use of U.S. atomic weapons -- something Tehran interpreted as a threat from a long-standing adversary to attack it with nuclear bombs.
Though the Islamic Republic seeks self-sufficiency in missile defense, it is urging Russia to resist Western pressure not to deliver the S-300 missile defense system it has ordered.
Washington is pressing other global powers to agree to a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies.
Iran held military exercises in the Gulf waterway and Strait of Hormuz last month in an apparent bid to show its readiness for any attack by Israel or the United States.
Analysts said it was also a message to U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states, which offer military facilities to U.S. forces.
Iran has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz. About 40 percent of the world's traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic narrows.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6410US20100502
A luxury 17-car train believed to be carrying reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pulled into China on Monday, reports said, in what would be his first journey abroad in years as his regime faces a worsening economy and speculation it may have torpedoed a South Korean warship.
Kim's visit, if confirmed, comes at an awkward time for Beijing. The Chinese leadership has been trying to get Kim to agree to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks stalled now for a year, and believed that it had won the North Korean dictator's assent last October.
Since then, however, prospects for negotiations have dimmed. Pyongyang has been unwilling to comply with requests from the U.S. to resume the talks, and tensions have risen between North Korea and South Korea, partly over the mysterious ship sinking in late March in which 46 sailors were killed.
Rumors of a Kim trip, the first since one to China in 2006 and since the 68-year-old leader reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008, have circulated for months since Chinese President Hu Jintao invited the notoriously reclusive leader for a visit to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the allies.
China, which backed North Korea with troops during the 1950-53 Korean War, is North Korea's last remaining supporter and biggest provider of aid, and is widely seen as the country with the most clout with Pyongyang.
Kim's special armored train arrived early Monday to a phalanx of soldiers and police in the Chinese border town of Dandong, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. Kim is known to shun air travel.
Kim met local Dandong leaders before moving on, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in a release, citing sources in the border town who claimed they saw the North Korean leader.
The train then headed to the port city of Dalian, the Yonhap news agency said. A convoy of 15 limousines was seen arriving at the city's five-star Furama Hotel, the report said, citing unidentified sources in Dandong and Beijing.
Broadcaster YTN aired blurry footage of a man in sunglasses outside the hotel with an entourage, and identified him as Kim. Japan's Kyodo News agency, citing unidentified sources knowledgeable about China-North Korea relations, also said Kim and his party were seen at the swanky hotel.
A switchboard operator at the hotel, where the presidential suite runs more than $2,100 (15,000 yuan) a night, told The Associated Press that security had been tightened but she would not say whether Kim was expected.
There was no mention of the Kim trip to China in North Korean state media, which typically reports on his journeys after he returns home.
South Korean officials said they could not confirm Kim's whereabouts. A spokesman at the National Intelligence Service, the main spy agency, said he was investigating whether Kim was on board the train. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing agency policy.
China's Foreign Ministry and Communist Party were not available to comment Monday, a national holiday in China.
The timing of the visit — widely reported by South Korean and Japanese media — comes as a U.N. conference opens this week to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and explore ways to strengthen its controls on the spread of nuclear materials. A nuclear power, China is a backer of the treaty, but is expected to come under pressure to get North Korea to comply.
Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University south of Seoul, said he expected Kim to seek Beijing's help in addressing speculation that North Korea was involved in the downing of South Korea's Cheonan navy ship — and to ask for financial help in return for announcing Pyongyang's return to the nuclear talks.
North Korea quit the disarmament-for-aid talks a year ago, and then conducted a nuclear test that drew tightened U.N. sanctions. The regime's botched currency reform aimed at regaining control over the economy late last year is believed to have worsened its financial woes.
Tensions are also growing with South Korea. Seoul has not directly blamed North Korea for the sinking of the warship, and Pyongyang has denied involvement. But suspicion has focused on the North, given its history of provocations and attacks on the South. The two Koreas remain locked in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The South Korean warship went down March 26 near the spot where their navies have fought three bloody sea battles. North Korea disputes the maritime border.
Kim is believed to be grooming his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, to succeed him as leader of the impoverished, communist nation of 24 million.
The North Korean leader has a fleet of luxurious trains equipped with reception halls, conference rooms and high-tech communication facilities, said Lee Yong-guk, a former Kim bodyguard who defected to South Korea in 2005.
He usually travels with a battalion of security agents, he told AP.
In 2004, a massive explosion occurred near North Korea's Ryongchon Station just hours after Kim passed through from a trip to China. More than 150 people died and 1,300 were injured, North Korean state media said. In March, a report carried by China's official Xinhua News Agency cited rumors that the explosion was an attempt on Kim's life.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h3E49UxdCk4ET-lJTxp0S4kyWR7gD9FFA6FO2
2. South Korea Vows to Retaliate Over Warship Sinking
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South Korea's defense minister has said those responsible for the deaths of 46 sailors on board a warship that sank after an explosion must "pay a price".
Kim Tae-young promised "punitive action" against "the perpetrators who killed our soldiers."
He did not specify what form this could take. South Korea has not directly blamed North Korea - and Pyongyang has denied any role.
The Cheonan sank after a "close-range" blast that split it in two.
Last month, a mass funeral was held for the 46 sailors, including six whose bodies have not been recovered.
Many South Koreans believe North Korea sank the ship, correspondents say.
The ship has been salvaged from the sea bed and is being examined by an international team of naval experts trying to find out what caused it to sink close to the North Korean border on 26 March.
The South Korean defence minister has said a torpedo strike is among the most likely causes.
So far the investigation team has said only that they have found evidence of an underwater explosion and it is not known whether fragments of any weapon have been discovered.
Mr Kim said officials were scrutinising pieces of aluminium, a key material in making a torpedo, that were picked up from the disaster area.
"I believe that, by thoroughly and completely getting to the bottom of the incident to the maximum extent possible, we should deal some kind of blow against those forces which made our officers and men sacrifice their lives for their country," the defence minister said on KBS television.
North and South Korea are still technically at war, since the 1950-53 conflict ended without a peace treaty.
Over the years there have been several naval clashes off the west coast of the peninsula, in the area where the Cheonan went down.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8656852.stm
1. UN Atomic Agency Probing Delhi Radioactive Waste Scandal
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The UN atomic watchdog said on Saturday it is seeking more information about reports of a radioactive waste scandal at the University of Delhi, with one person already dead from radiation poisoning.
India's atomic energy regulator the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is currently investigating a claim that Delhi University buried radioactive material on its campus 20 years ago.
Delhi police also blame the university for dumping an irradiation machine containing radioactive cobalt-60 which ended up in scrapyard in New Delhi, where it killed a 35-year-old worker and put seven others in hospital.
International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Marc Vridricaire said the watchdog had become aware "of the possibility of a serious radiation emergency at Mayapuri in New Delhi" via media reports on April 9.
It had also seen media reports this week "of a fatality caused by exposure to radiation in Indian scrap metal yards."
As a result, the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre "has contacted India's Department of Atomic Energy to request information" and offer help, Vridricaire said.
The Indian Department of Atomic Energy had "confirmed the initial event," and the AERB had notified the IAEA that "multiple Cobalt-60 sources" had been located and secured, the spokesman continued.
Cobalt-60 is categorised as a radioactive source "that can cause permanent injury to a person handling the material even for a short time without appropriate safety measures and protection."
The IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre was "continuing to seek further information on this event," Vridicaire said.
"And the IAEA stands ready to assist Indian authorities upon request."
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/UN-atomic-agency-probing-radiation-leak/538228/H1-Article1-538037.aspx
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed nuclear-free zones Monday and said the United States supports worldwide peaceful use of nuclear technology.
Clinton later responded to a verbal attack Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched on the United States.
At the first day of the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, Clinton urged the U.S. Senate to ratify protocols to the Africa Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, which prohibit the development or testing of nuclear weapons within their respective geographic zones. She also lauded similar treaties in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Clinton also unveiled a campaign to raise $100 million to broaden access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, expanding International Atomic Energy Agency efforts to expand energy and humanitarian projects worldwide.
After Ahmadinejad accused Washington of threatening the use of nuclear weapons, Clinton said the United States "cannot let that rhetoric stand."
"Iran is the only country represented here found to be currently in violation of its obligations" under the treaty, she said. "As the IAEA Board of Governors has stated clearly and publicly, the Iranian government has repeatedly rejected the injunctions of the U.N. Security Council and refused to cooperate with the IAEA's investigation of its activities.
"Among other things, Iran's president today claimed that Iran had accepted the IAEA's proposal to refuel the Tehran research reactor. Iran has a history of making confusing, contradictory and inaccurate statements designed to convey the impression that it has adopted a flexible attitude toward the proposal. But we have seen no indication that Iran is willing to accept the IAEA's October proposal or any variant of that proposal that would achieve the confidence-building goals that were intended. If Iran has truly changed its position, it should provide a clear indication of that to the IAEA.
"Additionally, we repeat our call, on humanitarian grounds, for Iran to release the three young hikers who have been detained without charge or trial for more than nine months.
"In the meantime, it is up to the rest of the countries represented here to show that our shared commitment is greater than any effort to undermine it. We must use this conference to send potential violators a strong message that they will pay a high price for breaking the rules. Only if Iran hears that message clearly will it accept our standing offer to engage in good-faith negotiations, to live up to its obligations, and join with the rest of us here in making the world safer.
"I'm hopeful we will make progress during this conference, but the real progress will come from a sustained, long-term commitment to strengthening the NPT this month and for many months ahead. If we fail, we face the prospect of a new wave of proliferation. But if we build on our common vision, recognizing there is much more that unites us than divides us, we have an opportunity to set a new course, a new course for global non-proliferation efforts. And it is a course that the United States has embraced, and we are eager to move forward with the international community."
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/05/03/Clinton-hails-nuclear-free-zones/UPI-66151272921519/
1. Obama Administration Discloses Size of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal
Mary Beth Sheridan and Colum Lynch
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Shattering a taboo dating from the Cold War, the Obama administration revealed Monday the size of the American nuclear arsenal -- 5,113 weapons -- as it embarked on a campaign for tougher measures against countries with hidden nuclear programs.
The figure was in line with previous estimates by arms-control groups. But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that it was the very disclosure of the long-held secret that was important.
"We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can about the nuclear program of the United States," she told reporters at a high-level nuclear conference in New York, where she announced the change in policy. "We think that builds confidence."
Shortly after Clinton's speech, the Pentagon issued a fact sheet saying that the number of working U.S. nuclear warheads had plummeted from a peak of 31,255 in 1967. In addition to the functioning weapons, thousands more have been retired and await dismantlement, the Pentagon said. Analysts estimate that number at about 4,500.
The Obama administration had debated for months whether to release the arsenal numbers, with some intelligence officials worrying they could give clues to would-be bombmakers about how much plutonium was required for a weapon. But Clinton noted that reliable private estimates of the stockpile were readily available.
The disclosures came on a day when Iran and the United States squared off over U.S.-led efforts to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, used the meeting to lash out at the United States and accuse nuclear nations of trying to unfairly deny much of the world the possibility to pursue nuclear energy programs.
But Ahmadinejad was greeted with a public scolding about his country's secretive nuclear program from the United Nations' top leadership. The comments by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the chief nuclear arms watchdog, Yukiya Amano, constituted an extraordinary rebuke of a head of state in the General Assembly hall.
The U.N. conference is to review the 40-year-old pact, which has checked the spread of the deadly weapons but is under strain because of the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. Obama has put the treaty at the center of his ambitious nuclear agenda. It is essentially a bargain: The five initial nuclear powers promise to gradually destroy their stockpiles, while other countries pledge to never develop them. In exchange, the other countries get help on developing nuclear energy programs, subject to U.N. monitoring.
At many past NPT review conferences, the nuclear "have-nots" blasted the "haves" -- particularly the United States -- for moving too slowly on their pledge to disarm. That argument has been championed by Iran, one of the 189 countries party to the treaty. The Obama administration has tried to show its compliance by touting achievements including its recent arms agreement with Russia.
In a blunt address to the conference, Clinton said the world was at a "crossroads" and faced a frightening "new wave of proliferation." The only way to avoid it was by strengthening global non-proliferation rules, she said.
"President Obama and I know . . . that there are doubts among some about whether nuclear-weapons states, including my country, are prepared to help lead this effort. I am here to tell you as clearly as I can: The United States will do its part," Clinton said.
She also announced a U.S. drive to raise $100 million over five years to help NPT members pursue nuclear energy, as long as they stuck to their commitments against seeking the bomb. Half would come from Washington, she said.
For all of its intense effort, the Obama administration thinks the month-long NPT conference will produce few concrete results. That's because conference decisions are made by consensus and, thus, can be blocked by Iran.
But U.S. diplomats hope to get a "supermajority" of countries that will agree to an action plan to pursue in other forums.
The Obama administration is separately seeking a fourth set of U.N. economic sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program.
In his speech, Ban called on Iran to cooperate more fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency and to comply fully with Security Council resolutions ordering it to stop reprocessing uranium, a key ingredient in a nuclear bomb.
"Let us be clear: The onus is on Iran to clarify the doubts and concerns about its program," Ban said in his address.
Ban said Tehran should accept a proposal by the IAEA to ship Iran's nuclear fuel abroad in exchange for a more purified form of uranium fuel to power the country's medical research reactor.
In a rare breach in protocol, Ban left the General Assembly hall for another meeting shortly before Ahmadinejad -- the only head of state attending the nuclear conference -- delivered his speech. When Ahmadinejad took the podium, he responded to Ban.
"The secretary general said that Iran must accept the fuel exchange and that the ball is now in Iran's court," Ahmadinejad said. "Well, I'd like to tell you and inform him as well that we'd accepted that from the start. . . . Therefore, we have now thrown the ball in the court of those who should accept our proposal."
Iran has repeatedly said it is willing to do the fuel swap, only to reverse course or add conditions.
Jabbing his finger in the air, the Iranian leader accused the United States and other nuclear states of manipulating the international arms-control system to preserve their nuclear privileges and to keep others from getting peaceful energy. The United States, France, Britain and other allied countries walked out in protest.
Addressing the conference, Amano said the agency remains unable to confirm that all of Iran's nuclear material is being used for peaceful purposes "because Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation."
Ahmadinejad laughed as he listened to a translation of Amano's remarks.
Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/03/AR2010050302089.html?wpisrc=nl_headline
2. Sheikh Abdullah Holds Meetings with Counterparts at NPT Review Conference
Emirates News Agency
(for personal use only)
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, held a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference at the UN headquarters in New York with a number of his counterparts.
Those who met Sheikh Abdullah also included Miguel Angel Moratinos, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and Stephen Smith, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia. They reviewed positions of their countries towards the main topics on the Conference agenda in addition to discussing bilateral relations and means of boosting them in various fields.
In the afternoon UAE foreign minister attended a luncheon hosted by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State in honour of foreign ministers of a number of countries. The participants reviewed the positions of their countries towards the main topics on the Conference agenda.
Sheikh Abdullah also attended a reception hosted by Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines at the United Nations headquarters in honour of the President and members of the office of Review Conference on NPT.
Sheikh Abdullah will address the Conference today.
Available at: http://www.wam.ae/servlet/Satellite?c=WamLocEnews&cid=1267001480500&pagename=WAM/WAM_E_Layout&parent=Query&parentid=1135099399852
3. Iran-U.S. Dispute Dominates Opening Day of NPT Confab
William M. Reilly
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
A clash between Iran and the United States and a breakthrough announcement by Washington Monday dominated the opening session of the three-week-long review of the 40-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the UN Headquarters in New York.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed the departments of defense and energy were releasing the long-secret number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal and the number dismantled since 1991.
As promised, the Defense Department later said it had 5,113 nuclear warheads in the arsenal.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who led off the list of individual nations to speak, focused immediately on what he described as an inherent right of security threatened by the United States.
However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Iran for its non-compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council and not accepting a nuclear fuel exchange plan.
It was part of his plea to nations to make nuclear disarmament a reality.
Ban then left the dais where he normally sits during assembly sessions.
Technically, this was not a 192-member assembly session but a meeting of parties to the treaty. Still, it was seen as a snub.
France boycotted Ahmadinejad's speech, and representatives of eight other nations, namely Austria, Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States, walked out while he was speaking.
Before he began his formal remarks, the Iranian president interjected a reply to Ban.
"The secretary-general said that Iran must accept the fuel exchange and that the ball is now in Iran's court," Ahmadinejad said. "Well, I would like to tell you and inform him as well that we had accepted that from the start, and I would like to announce once again that is an accepted deal. Therefore, we have now thrown the ball in the court of those who should accept our proposal and embark on cooperation with us."
Iran has said before it was agreeable to the deal but backtracked later. However, it recently began talks with Turkey and Brazil on such an arrangement.
"Due to the distancing of some states from the teachings of the Divine Prophets, the shadow of the threat of nuclear bombs is cast over the whole world," Ahmadinejad said. "The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride. It is rather disgusting and shameful. And even more shameful is the threat to use or to use such weapons."
Obviously, the barb was aimed at none other than the United States.
He was not only highly critical of Washington, but the NPT itself and the IAEA, citing them for "the most possible pressures on non-nuclear weapon states under the pretext of proliferation risks, while those having nuclear bombs continue to enjoy full immunity and exclusive rights."
Iran vows its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.
Tehran already is under UN Security Council sanctions and members of that panel have been negotiating another resolution with additional sanctions.
Just seven speakers after Ahmadinejad, Clinton took to the same rostrum, read a welcoming statement from U.S. President Barack Obama, recalling some of the steps he has taken towards nuclear disarmament.
Such as last month when a deal was signed with Russia to lower the number of nuclear warheads Washington and Moscow have to 1,500 each.
"Each of our nations will have the opportunity to show where we stand," said Clinton, reading out the statement to delegates. "Will we meet our responsibilities, or shirk them? Will we ensure the rights of nations, or undermine them? In short, do we seek a 21st century of more nuclear weapons, or a world without them?"
Clinton then said she represents "a president and a country committed to a vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and to taking the concrete steps necessary that will help us get there."
The U.S. secretary of state said she came to the conference "with sincere and serious proposals to advance the fundamental aims of the NPT and strengthen the global nonproliferation regime."
This contrasted with the Iranian president's list of changes he proposed to change the treaty into the nuclear disarmament NPT.
Clinton said, "The vast majority of states are living up to their nonproliferation obligations. But a few outliers have demonstrated a determination to violate the rules and defy the international community. During the past decade, one state said it was withdrawing from the NPT after being caught cheating and subsequently announced two nuclear tests."
"Another has cynically claimed to be abiding by the treaty while violating its safeguards, expanding its enrichment program, failing to cooperate with the IAEA and ignoring the injunctions of the Security Council," she added, first referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and then to Iran.
"Iran's president offered the same tired, false, and sometimes wild accusations against the United States and other parties," she said.
"As the secretary-general said, in this regard, the onus is on Iran," Clinton said. "So far, it has failed to meet its burden. Iran is the only country represented in this hall that has been found by the IAEA board of governors to be currently in noncompliance with its nuclear safeguard obligations."
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2010-05/04/c_13277673.htm
4. NPT Review Conference from Today, India to Stay Out
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Over 150 nations, including Iran, will get together for an international review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but India will not be part of the deliberations during which the US is expected to push non- signatories to sign the pact.
The conference on NPT review will kick off here today and the Iran-West showdown over Tehran's nuclear programme is likely to dominate the proceedings.
India, which is not a signatory to the NPT has decided to stay out of the conference.
"We are not parties to the NPT and we will not be participating," an official at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN told PTI.
He said India would not be represented in the conference in any capacity not even as an "observer" country.
Available at: http://www.ptinews.com/news/636507_NPT-review-conference-from-today--India-to-stay-out
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has failed and Iran will propose changes, as he left for New York on Sunday to take part in a conference to review the NPT.
The hardline Iranian leader is to address the NPT conference on Monday, at the head of a delegation including Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
“The biggest threat to the world today is the production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. For more than 60 years, the atomic threat has influenced world relations,” Ahmadinejad told reporters before leaving for New York.
“The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in the past 40 years has not been successful in its mission. We have no disarmament or non-proliferation and some countries have even procured the nuclear bomb during this period.”
Iran is a signatory of the NPT, a creation of the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, and as such has the right to enrich uranium — the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.
Washington, its ally Israel — believed to be the only undeclared nuclear weapons power in the Middle East — and other world powers accuse Iran of masking a weapons drive under the guise of what Tehran says is a purely civilian atomic programme.
Ahmadinejad, who has refused to abandon the uranium enrichment programme and often lashes out at the NPT structure, said Iran’s delegation would propose changes to the treaty during the review conference.
“This is an important meeting. For some time now, committees have been formed to undertake a fundamental revision (of the NPT) in order to achieve the aims for which the IAEA was formed,” he said, quoted by Fars news agency.
“It is necessary to participate in this meeting at the highest level to offer the Iranian nation’s proposals to the world. If this meeting is successful in making fundamental reforms to the NPT, it will be a big stride forward towards world security,” he said.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Ahmadinejad would also “defend the rights of the Iranian people.”
He is also expected to urge other NPT signatories to pressure Israel to sign the treaty, at a time when Washington is pressing world powers to impose a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran for defiantly enriching uranium.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Ahmadinejad that he will fail if he tries to disrupt the New York talks.
“If President Ahmadinejad wants to come and announce that Iran will abide by their non-proliferation requirements under the NPT, that would be very good news indeed,” she said.
But if he thinks “he can somehow divert attention from this very important global effort or cause confusion that might possibly throw into doubt what Iran has been up to ... I don’t believe he will have a particularly receptive audience.”
Even before leaving for New York, Ahmadinejad’s trip has triggered a controversy with Iranian officials saying the United States had rejected visas for several members of his delegation.
Mottaki on Saturday accused Washington of holding the United Nations “hostage” by rejecting visas for Iranian delegates.
In Washington, a senior US official told reporters on condition of anonymity that Iran had asked for no less than 70 visas.
US lawmakers, meanwhile, have denounced Ahmadinejad’s plans to attend the NPT meeting.
“This is preposterous, and allowing it to happen will make a mockery of the effort to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorist groups,” 14 Republican senators wrote to Clinton.
“The US government has the legal authority to deny Ahmadinejad’s request and bar his entry.”
Available at: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2010/May/middleeast_May24.xml§ion=middleeast&col=
1. Cashapped Bulgaria Halts Construction of Second Nuclear Plant
(for personal use only)
Bulgaria has stopped construction of its second nuclear power plant until it finds a new investor and funds to complete the project, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told Tuesday's edition of the daily 24Casa.
"The country has no money for an atomic power plant," Borisov said. "We will build it when investors come."
The government has earmarked 7 million euros (9.25 million dollars) to conserve the construction site at Belene, on the Danube, 180 kilometres northeast of the capital Sofia.
The plant was originally to be built by Russian company Atomstroiexport for 4 billion euros. The firm had signed a contract with the previous, Socialist-led government, swept from power by Borisov's conservative GERB party swept in last year's July elections.
Borisov last week turned down a 2-billion-euro offer made by Moscow for a stake in the plant, which would have kept the construction work going.
Instead, Bulgaria plans to seek a full investor to finish its second nuclear plant, Borisov said.
Neighbouring Serbia had also expressed interest in a 5-per cent stake in the project, Borisov said, turning it into "a Balkan, European project."
However, it has been estimated that finding a new chief investor - to replace the German energy company RWE, which withdrew last autumn - may take around 18 months.
Available at: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/321915,cashapped-bulgaria-halts-construction-of-second-nuclear-plant.html
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