Iran says it has produced 17kg (37lb) of uranium enriched to 20%, in defiance of United Nations efforts to halt its nuclear programme.
The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said the country could now produce up to 5kg every month.
There has been no independent verification of the claims.
Iran says the fuel is needed to power a medical research reactor, but Western powers accuse Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The announcement by Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the atomic energy body and is also the Vice-President of Iran, adds another element to the row between Iran and the UN over its disputed nuclear programme.
On Monday, Iran barred two inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog - the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - from entering the country, saying they had published an "untruthful" report.
All this comes the wake of a fourth round of UN sanctions imposed just two weeks ago and even tougher measures announced by both the US and the European Union.
Iran started refining uranium to 20% purity - up from around 5% previously - in February, saying it aimed to make fuel to power a research reactor that produces isotopes for treating cancer and for other medical purposes.
The move alarmed Western nations as it was seen as a significant step towards making weapons-grade uranium, which is 90% enriched.
Experts say that Iran's claim that it has produced 17kg of uranium enriched to just under 20% is impossible to verify.
In an IAEA report at the end of May, Iran was estimated to have about 11kg of this material and indications were that it was capable of producing it at a rate of about 3kg per month.
If Iran were to claim significant advances in its capacity to produce this more highly-enriched material, it might well lead to questions about how many centrifuge cascades it was devoting to this work, says the BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.
Many experts outside the country question if Iran is actually capable of turning the enriched uranium hexafluoride into the necessary fuel assemblies for the reactor, our correspondent adds.
Iran had hoped to avoid the latest UN sanctions by offering to send some of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad in return for higher grade fuel.
The offer, brokered in May by Turkey and Brazil, revived a deal struck with major Western powers in October 2009.
But Western diplomats said the fuel swap was no longer viable as Iran had increased its LEU stockpile considerably in the meantime.
Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10403527.stm
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki blames nuclear-armed states for the failure of efforts aimed at global disarmament, calling for a world free from weapons.
"Nuclear-armed countries are responsible for failure of efforts aimed at dismantling nuclear weapons," IRNA quoted Mottaki as saying at the International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea Littoral States in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat on Thursday.
He voiced Iran's full support for dismantling nuclear weapons in Central Asia as part of Tehran's push for international nuclear disarmament.
The Iranian minister expressed confidence that such moves would be "fruitful" in tightening security in countries of the region.
Mottaki said that using the issue of such weapons as a tool to achieve political aims is the worst form of "blackmailing" and called on the international community to prevent nuclear-armed countries from accessing such weapons.
He went on to say that the first step towards global disarmament is that nuclear-armed countries must outline a timetable for dismantling their atomic weapons and added, "Otherwise, all efforts aimed at establishing a world free of nuclear weapons will be futile."
Mottaki also stressed that Israel, which is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, endangers the region's peace and security.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov inaugurated the one-day conference on Thursday, which was also attended by Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and deputy foreign ministers from Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Azerbaijan.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=131814§ionid=351020101
3. Iran Says It Will Set Nuclear-Talks Terms Next Week
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran next week will announce conditions for its participation in proposed talks on the dispute over its nuclear program, which this month prompted a fourth round of United Nations sanctions.
“The countries that imposed sanctions against Iran are scared,” which is why they have asked Iranian officials to take part in talks, Ahmadinejad said today. “The Islamic Republic will talk about it with them in a way that will make them regret what they did,” he said, calling the UN Security Council sanctions “laughable.” His comments were carried on the government’s information website.
The U.S. and its allies remain committed to pursuing diplomatic engagement with Iran as well as imposing pressure, even as the June 9 sanctions are put into effect, the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, William Burns, said at a June 22 Senate hearing in Washington.
Iran has refused Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment, saying the nuclear development is necessary for civilian purposes such as power generation. The U.S. and its allies say the work may be aimed at weapons production.
The Persian Gulf country said yesterday it has 17 kilograms (37 pounds) of 20 percent-enriched uranium, more than triple the amount UN nuclear inspectors found there in April. A weapon could be made by enriching 150 to 200 kilograms of 20 percent uranium to a concentration of 80 to 90 percent, say analysts including Paul Ingram, executive director of the London-based British American Security Information Council.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-24/iran-says-it-will-set-nuclear-talks-terms-next-week.html
Despite Iran's decision to refuse entry to two International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, its envoy to the agency says inspections remain ongoing.
Speaking to reporters in Vienna on Tuesday, Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh explained that while the two individuals that were barred from entry to Iran are no longer "designated inspectors," other inspectors can still visit the country's nuclear sites.
"Inspections are continuing without any interruption," Soltanieh added.
The senior official went on to criticize the two inspectors for disclosing false information about Iran's nuclear work to the Western media, saying that "we have to exercise extra vigilance about the performance of the inspectors to protect confidentiality of their work."
Soltanieh made the remarks after Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi announced a decision to ban two former IAEA experts from entering the country, arguing that they disclosed false and untimely information about Iran's nuclear activities.
The banning of the inspectors followed the passage of a US-sponsored Security Council Resolution imposing a fourth round of sanctions against Iran. The United States and its allies in Europe, Canada and Australia followed through by further adopting unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The UNSC resolution was approved despite the opposition of 118 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which backed Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Iran says it will not put a halt to its enrichment program as a result of UNSC sanction, adding that it will continue its nuclear work under IAEA's supervision.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=131630§ionid=351020104
1. 'U.S. May Freeze N. Korean Assets in Foreign Banks'
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The United States Wednesday did not preclude the possibility of freezing North Korean assets in foreign banks to effectively cut off resources for the North's development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Yonhap News reported.
"I'm not going to predict any particular step that we're contemplating, but these are steps that are available to us under existing U.S. international law," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley was quoted by the wire as saying in Washington.
He was responding to the question if Washington was considering freezing North Korean assets at foreign banks just like it froze more than US$25 million in North Korean accounts in Banco Delta Asia in Macau in 2005, Yonhap said.
The former Bush administration that year designated Banco Delta Asia as an entity suspected of helping North Korea launder money it earned by circulating counterfeit $100 bills called supernotes.
The U.S. lifted the freeze in early 2007 to entice the North to come back to the six-party talks on ending its nuclear weapons programs. Washington officials have said the freeze effectively cut off Pyongyang's access to the international financial system and dealt the nation a devastating blow.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20100624000518
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has decided not to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, U.S. sources said Tuesday.
Since South Korea concluded last month that one of its patrol ships was sunk by North Korea in March, some U.S. lawmakers have stepped up calls to reinstate North Korea as a state sponsoring terrorism.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley also admitted government officials were considering putting North Korea back on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. But the administration refrained from doing so, as given the current circumstances, it was judged difficult to meet the conditions needed for relisting, the sources said. The administration also wants to avoid provoking Pyongyang to the extent it conducts a third nuclear test.
State sponsors of terrorism, as defined by the U.S. State Department, are "countries determined to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism." To be considered for the list, it must be proved that the country in question had decisive influence on terrorist groups as they obtained funds, weapons, materials and secure areas for conducting operations.
U.S. officials examined North Korea's suspected involvement in supplying weapons to radical Palestinian Islamic group Hamas, but had yet to obtain evidence necessary for relisting North Korea, the sources said.
Available at: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/T100623003659.htm
3. US Mulled North Korea Nuclear Strike in 1969: Documents
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The United States studied a plan for a nuclear strike on North Korea in 1969 but advisers to then-president Richard Nixon concluded it was best to remain calm, declassified documents showed Wednesday.
The documents, obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, foreshadow present-day US frustration on how to handle Pyongyang following its nuclear tests and the sinking of a South Korean ship.
In 1969, North Korea shot down a US spy aircraft over the Sea of Japan (East Sea), killing the 31 personnel on board.
Despite US outrage, the new Nixon administration chose not to retaliate other than to order a continuation of flights and go ahead with naval exercises.
The documents, released after requests under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that the administration nonetheless charted out a series of options that included conventional and nuclear attacks.
In one contingency plan codenamed "Freedom Drop," the United States would use tactical nuclear weapons to destroy military command centers, airfields and naval bases in North Korea.
Civilian casualties "would range from approximately 100 to several thousand," said a classified memorandum by then-defense secretary Melvin Laird prepared for Henry Kissinger, who was Nixon's national security adviser.
There is no indication that the administration seriously considered a nuclear strike. The document stated that the United States could use one nuclear option if North Korea launched an air attack on the South.
In a document recounting a White House meeting, Kissinger is quoted as saying that his initial reactions to the spy plane incident "were probably naive" and that it was most crucial to prevent a "counter blow" from Pyongyang.
"The need is to look determined and, if the object is to prevent counter-responses, the action taken should be (a) powerful blow," Kissinger said.
"If a similar situation were to arise today, (Nixon) would probably either do nothing or select an option toward the extreme of the range of possibilities," Kissinger said.
The United States this week marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, which ended with an armistice and the peninsula still divided.
Since the conflict, the United States has repeatedly -- and sometimes begrudgingly -- relied on carrot-and-stick diplomacy with North Korea, concluding it was the only realistic option.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i5w1Z0eofTwNjH5k2TmZHBFED4bQ
1. 'N-reactors for Pak Totally Consistent with Int'l Obligations'
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China said its proposed two new nuclear reactors for Pakistan are "totally consistent" with its international obligations and safeguards of the IAEA, but remained mum on whether it would formally inform the NSG about its decision today.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the nuclear cooperation between the two countries was for peaceful purposes.
"The cooperation is totally in consistent with our international obligations and entirely meant peaceful purposes and is under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and supervision," he said in response to a question.
On reports that China would formally inform the 46- member NSG in New Zealand today about the deal with Pakistan, he said he has no information in this regard.
Earlier, in a written response to questions sent by PTI, the spokesman said: "I would like to reiterate that for some years China and Pakistan have cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy and such cooperation complies with international obligations of the two countries and completely for peaceful purposes."
"It is also subjected to IAEA safeguards," he said.
China's plans to build two nuclear reactors came to light when state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced in April this year that it will export nuclear power reactors to Pakistan in a USD 2.375-billion agreement.
This is in addition to two nuclear reactors built by China at Chashma in Pakistan's Punjab province.
The US had last week asked China to clarify the details of the deal, but stopped short of publicly opposing it. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had on Tuesday said India was monitoring the debate on the issue. Yesterday, the state-run 'China Daily' said Beijing is likely to go ahead with its decision to "finance" the construction of two 650 MW nuclear power plants in Pakistan disregarding the concerns raised by India and the United States.
It is expected to announce its decision at the Nuclear Security Group meeting being held in New Zealand today, the paper had said.
Available at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/nreactors-for-pak-totally-consistent-with-intl-obligations/638023/
2. Greenpeace Cautions Turkey over Russia Nuclear Deal
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Greenpeace, together with the Green Party of Turkey and the Global Action Group, has criticized a nuclear cooperation deal Turkey signed with Russia earlier this month because it will, they say, put Turkey in a difficult position vis-a-vis the European Union and expose it to the dangers posed by nuclear energy.
On June 8, Turkey and Russia signed a nuclear cooperation deal in İstanbul that foresees an exchange of information and know-how on the licensing of nuclear facilities and activities. Civilian and political activists convened a press conference yesterday to disclose the details of that agreement and added that it will endanger Turkey’s interests.
“The agreement, signed under unfair competition conditions, cuts off ties with the EU, restricts the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency’s [TAEK] authority on security, puts forward no solution for the problem of nuclear waste and forms a huge obstacle to the foundation of a smart energy system,” the activists’ statement read.
They also argued that the construction of a nuclear power plant in Mersin’s Akkuyu district will increase Turkey’s dependence on Russia for energy because Turkey will buy electricity produced there from Russia. The activists suggest that the government should immediately cancel the agreement and instead speed up its investments in renewable energy, for which they said no remarkable progress had been made so far in Parliament.
Available at: http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=213949
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh embarks on an official bilateral visit of Canada June 27, immediately following the G-20 Summit.
Indian officials in New Delhi said he is also scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and may even sign a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact.
Canadian officials remained non-committal.
"Canada and India are developing the tremendous potential of our relationship by rapidly expanding commercial, cultural and educational ties," said Harper in a statement.Â "I look forward to working with Prime Minister Singh to further capitalize on our shared strengths."
But in the clearest indication yet about an impending civil nuclear deal, among other agreements likely to be signed, Harper's chief spokesperson and communications director Dimitri Soudas said in a briefing to the South Asian media this week: "As a direct result of (Harper's) November visit (to India), the two leaders announced the completion of negotiations of a nuclear cooperation agreement.
"This agreement will enable Canadian companies to participate in commercial civil nuclear power opportunities and promote other forms of civil nuclear cooperation with India."
The contours of the civilian nuclear deal on the lines India has signed with the US, Russia, France and host of other nations were outlined during Harper's visit to India in November last year, officials in New Delhi said.
"The agreement will cover a large ambit of peaceful nuclear applications," IANS quoted Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, as saying.
According to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, India and Canada may also sign specific pacts on energy, culture and social security.
Here in Toronto, Joseph Caron, Canada's High Commissioner to India, added that among other issues, "our respective governments are very concerned about extremism in every form, particularly if it becomes violent." He declined further specifics on the issue.
Available at: http://www.southasianfocus.ca/community/article/90051
4. IAEA Says Ready to Cooperate With Egypt on its Peaceful Nuclear Program
Xinhua News Agency
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday it was ready to cooperate with Egypt to build nuclear power stations for the country.
IAEA supports Egypt in its bid to establish a peaceful nuclear program and is ready to cooperate with Egypt in this regard, said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano during a visit to Cairo.
The UN nuclear watchdog chief indicated the agency had proposed to send a mission to Egypt to help with the country's projects. He talked with Egyptian Foreign Minister Abul Gheit about the steps for Egypt's nuclear power plants on Tuesday.
In October 2007, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced a plan to build several nuclear power stations to meet the country's increasing demand of electricity.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/23/c_13363742.htm
1. Ukraine Seeks to Supply Reactors with Its Own Uranium
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Ukraine is seeking to supply its nuclear reactors with uranium mined in the country from 2015, Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Natalia Shumkova said.
Ukraine aims to increase uranium production to 5,000 metric tons a year in 2020 and 6,000 tons in 2030, from 830 tons, Shumkova said at a conference in Kiev today. The eastern European country needs to invest 9.9 billion hryvnia ($1.25 billion) in uranium output through 2013, she said.
The ministry this week announced a tender to build a uranium plant and will pick a winner by early October, according to Shumkova. Russia’s OAO Tvel and Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co. have the experience to build the plant, she said.
Ukraine plans to construct a third nuclear reactor at its Khmelnytskyi power plant by 2016 and a fourth by 2017, Yuriy Nedashkovskyi, the president of DP NAEK Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned operator of nuclear power stations, said at the same event. The construction is worth 30.1 billion hryvnia, he said.
The country’s nuclear capacity will double by 2030 by extending the lifespan of current reactors by 15 years and by building new generators, Nedashkovskyi said.
Energoatom had first quarter net income of 380 million hryvnia, Nedashkovskyi said, without elaborating. Ukrainian nuclear power plants will produce 87 billion kilowatt-hours of energy this year, he said.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-24/ukraine-seeks-to-supply-reactors-with-its-own-uranium-update1-.html
Vietnam has announced a masterplan for the introduction of nuclear energy into the country. Some 14 nuclear power reactors are to be constructed at eight locations in five central provinces by 2030.
According to the plan, recently approved by Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the country will introduce nuclear energy through a three-phase program.
In the initial phase, between now and 2015, Vietnam will approve investment and locations, select contractors and train managers and technicians.
In the second phase, between 2015 and 2020, the country will finalize construction and put into operation the first 1000 MWe reactor at Phuoc Dinh in the southern Ninh Thuan province.
During the third phase, between 2020 and 2030, Vietnam wants to construct a further 13 power reactors. A second 1000 MWe unit at the Phuoc Dinh site will begin operating in 2012. Two further 1000 MWe units are planned there, with operation scheduled for 2023 and 2024 respectively.
Four 1000 MWe reactors are also planned for Vinh Hai in the Ninh Hai district. The first two are slated to begin operating in 2021 and 2022, with the second pair starting up in 2024 and 2025.
According to the plan, the country should therefore have some 8000 MWe of nuclear generating capacity in place by 2025.
In addition to Ninh Thuan, other sites for nuclear power plants have been identified in the provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Ha Tinh and Quang Ngai.
Two further 1000 MWe units are planned to begin operating in 2026. Over each of the following four years, one reactor of 1300 to 1500 MWe capacity is expected to be brought online. This would bring the country's nuclear capacity to between 15,000 and 16,000 MWe by 2030, when nuclear will account for around 10% of Vietnam's total electricity production.
In addition to building imported reactors, Vietnam aims to master nuclear power plant design technology during the final phase of the program. The country wants to partner with foreign companies to design its nuclear power plants with Vietnamese companies participating in nuclear power projects to account for 30-40% of the total construction value.
The Vietnamese government approved a nuclear power development plan in 2007, aiming for a 2000 MWe nuclear power plant to be online by 2020, and a general law on nuclear energy was passed in mid 2008. Since then work has been under way to develop the necessary legal and regulatory framework. In November 2009, the country's National Assembly approved a resolution on investment policy for the project.
Companies including Westinghouse, AtomStroyExport, Electricité de France, and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) have all been involved in discussions about supplying nuclear plants to Vietnam, and South Korea has also expressed an interest in the project. Vietnam has signed nuclear cooperation and assistance agreements with countries including Japan, France, China, South Korea, the USA and Canada.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Vietnam_plans_ambitious_nuclear_program-2406104.html
The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) said that "all things being equal" the country will have a 1000 MWe nuclear power plant in operation by 2019, according to a report in the Leadership newspaper. Earlier, during the inauguration of a new cabinet, the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, directed the Ministry of Power to focus on generation of electricity from alternative sources. He also brought the ministry directly under his supervision to ensure that the country attains its target of having 6000 MW of generating capacity in place by the end of 2010. Industry analysts believe that investing in power production from alternative sources would stop the sabotage of gas pipelines by militants in the Niger Delta and would help Nigeria increase its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The head of the NAEC, Erepamo Osaisai, said: "All things being equal, Nigeria will generate 1000 MW of nuclear electricity by 2019 and an additional capacity of 4000 MW ten years thereafter." He noted that the NAEC had begun full implementation of the National Strategic Program put in place by the government for nuclear power generation. While calling for adequate funding for the successful implementation of the nuclear energy program, Osaisai said that the NAEC would do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria was 'ranked among the comity of nations using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.'
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/indtalk.aspx
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