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Nuclear News - 6/8/2010
PGS Nuclear News, June 8, 2010
Compiled By: Brandi Bohannon

A.  Iran
    1. IAEA Awaiting Response From US, France, Russia on Iran Deal, Tehran Times  (6/8/2010)
    2. Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant to Go into Operation in August - Putin, RIA Novosti (6/8/2010)
    3. UN 'To Adopt' Dourth Round of Iran Nuclear Sanctions, Barbara Plett, BBC News (6/8/2010)
    4. Bomb Concern Makes Iran "Special Case" :IAEA Head, Reuters (6/7/2010)
    5. Iran Says UN Watchdog Misinterpreted Tehran Tests, Nasser Karimi, Associated Press (6/3/2010)
    1. U.S. Urges N. Korea to Stop Provocations, Abide by Denuclearization Pledge: State Dept., Hwang Doo-hyong, Yonhap News Agency (6/6/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors Begins June Deliberations, Steve Heiser, Nuclear Street (6/8/2010)
    2. Russia, Turkey Sign Deal on Monitoring Nuclear Safety, RIA Novosti (6/8/2010)
    3. Turkey, Russia Sign Nuclear Deal - UPDATED, World Bulletin (6/8/2010)
    4. IAEA Calls on Syria to Cooperate, United Press International (6/7/2010)
    5. Italy, France in Nuclear Power Agreement, United Press International (6/7/2010)
D.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Germany Mulls Nuclear Extension, United Press International (6/7/2010)
E.  Nonproliferation
    1. Myanmar Reportedly After Nukes, Song Shengxia , Global Times (6/7/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. At Laboratory Outside of Las Vegas, US Officials Prepare For Response to Nuclear Terror, Star Tribune (6/8/2010)

A.  Iran

IAEA Awaiting Response From US, France, Russia on Iran Deal
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

The IAEA is still awaiting an official response from the United States, France, and Russia to Iran’s proposal for a fuel swap deal, the IAEA chief said at the start of a meeting of the agency's 35-nation Board of Governors on Monday.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said he had forwarded the proposed agreement to Washington, Paris, and Moscow for their views immediately after receiving it from Iran on May 24.

“I am now awaiting their responses, and will continue to consult with all concerned parties on this matter,” Amano said, according to the Agence France-Presse.

Diplomats close to the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog have said the so-called Vienna group of countries had drawn up a joint response to Tehran's proposal and were expected to hand it over to Amano imminently.

Under a deal brokered by the IAEA in October 2009, the United States, Russia, and France had originally proposed they take most of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) and turn it into the much-needed fuel for a research reactor in Tehran that makes radioisotopes for cancer treatment.

But Iran refused to take up the offer, saying it was not confident that the West would provide the nuclear fuel after it received the uranium from Iran.

On May 17 Iran drew up an alternative deal with Brazil and Turkey under which Iran would store 1200 kilograms of its LEU in Turkey for about a year until it receives the nuclear fuel rods needed for the medical reactor.

Israel on IAEA agenda

The IAEA Board of Governors meeting, scheduled to last all week, has a heavy agenda, and will focus not only on Iran but also on Syria.

And Arab countries have succeeded in putting Israel on the agenda for the first time since 1991.

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, but it maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to deny or acknowledge its nuclear arsenal.

Amano recently asked member states for ideas on how to persuade Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept IAEA inspections.

On Monday, Amano said he had received replies from 17 governments out of a total 151 so far.

“Following the meeting of the board, I intend to remind those governments which have not done so to provide their replies at their earliest convenience,” the Japanese diplomat said.

“I will report to the board and the general conference in September.”

Washington's envoy to the IAEA, Glyn Davies, said discussion at this point was “premature”

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Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Plant to Go into Operation in August - Putin
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

The Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran will go into operation according to schedule in August, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

"In August we will complete work... and operations will begin," he said during talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

Putin arrived in Turkey earlier on Tuesday to attend the third summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA)

The construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant began in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant.

Russia's nuclear fuel producer TVEL has said it will deliver its next fuel shipment to Bushehr a year after the plant is launched.

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UN 'To Adopt' Dourth Round of Iran Nuclear Sanctions
Barbara Plett
BBC News
(for personal use only)

A resolution to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran is ready for a vote by the UN Security Council.

They target Tehran's nuclear programme, which Western nations suspect has military aims, claims Iran denies.

UN diplomats expect the resolution to be adopted by as early as midweek, even though some Security Council members may not support it.

The final version expands a limited arms embargo, and toughens financial restrictions and shipping inspections.

The exact timing of the vote depends on agreement of annexes listing individuals and entities subject to asset freezes and travel bans.

Diplomats say that could happen as early as Wednesday and there is little doubt the resolution will be adopted.

A number of states could abstain or vote against, but none of these have veto powers.

They include Turkey and Brazil, which say fresh sanctions would be counter-productive.

They argue that a nuclear fuel swap deal they brokered with Iran is a fresh opportunity for diplomacy.

At their request, the Council is expected to hold an extra meeting to discuss Iran ahead of the vote.

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Bomb Concern Makes Iran "Special Case" :IAEA Head
(for personal use only)

The U.N. atomic watchdog chief on Monday deflected an Arab push for Israel's nuclear work to receive the same scrutiny as Iran's, saying Tehran's failure to dispel fears over its intentions made it a "special case."

Yukiya Amano said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could not inspect presumed nuclear power Israel in the same way it does Iran until Israel signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Jewish state says it cannot discuss the issue as long as many of its Arab and Islamic neighbors -- most of which do not recognize Israel -- remain hostile to its existence.

The U.N. nuclear body is investigating NPT member Iran over proliferation concerns. Iran rejects Western suspicions that it is covertly pursuing a nuclear weapons programme and its IAEA envoy said Israel's atomic capability was the bigger issue for Middle East security.

But, with the U.N. Security Council expected to vote on new Iran sanctions this week, Amano indicated the case of Israel and Iran were not comparable.

The main issues remained Tehran's escalating uranium enrichment -- in defiance of U.N. resolutions demanding a halt -- and its failure to grant unfettered access to his inspectors.

"Iran is a special case because, among other things, of the existence of issues related to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme," he said, opening a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors.

Amano also said he was waiting for a response from big powers on a plan for Iran to part with some of its nuclear material in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor.

Western officials have made clear that they are unsure about the latest plan, brokered by Turkey and Brazil, which comes eight months after a similar idea to ease nuclear tensions was outlined with the help of the IAEA.

Amano said things had changed since the IAEA made its offer, with Iran starting higher-grade nuclear enrichment and the fact that its low-enriched uranium stockpile had doubled in size.

"These are the differences," he said, adding that he would however not provide a judgment on the value of the new offer.


Arab states will try to add pressure on Israel later this week when the board debates Israeli nuclear capabilities at their request. They want Amano to help implement an IAEA resolution urging Israel to enter the NPT and put its nuclear sites under agency safeguards. He will report in September.

"The reports on Iran and Israel are not of the same nature," Amano said.

It will be the first time the IAEA's policy-making board addresses the topic since 1991, at a time of wider international scrutiny of Israel state after its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy a week ago.

A U.N. conference in New York to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) last month also put Israel in the spotlight at the behest of Arab nations.

Israel said it would likely provide a response on the issue later this week. "This discussion is continuing over time, it is not new for us," envoy Ehud Azoulay told reporters.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied having nuclear weapons but is presumed to have a significant arsenal.

Iran is an NPT member and has granted some access to the IAEA but is seen by the West as a treaty renegade and potential bomb risk because it failed to report sensitive nuclear activity.

Iran said the IAEA should concentrate its efforts in the Middle East on Israel, Tehran's regional arch-foe.

"(Israel) is a serious security concern for the region and the world at large," Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters, criticizing "crimes against humanity in Gaza. This sort of violation of international law plus nuclear capability is very dangerous for the security of the whole world."

Some Western diplomats questioned of why it was necessary to discuss Israel before Amano's report was ready.

India, Pakistan and North Korea are also outside the NPT.

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Iran Says UN Watchdog Misinterpreted Tehran Tests
Nasser Karimi
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Iran's atomic energy chief claimed on Thursday that the U.N. nuclear watchdog misunderstood the nature of the experiments at a Tehran laboratory mentioned in the agency's latest report.

The report underscored the West's concerns about Iranian nuclear ambitions and came as the U.N. Security Council inches toward imposing a new round of sanctions on Tehran for refusing to suspend its nuclear enrichment.

Ali Akbar Salehi said the International Atomic Energy Agency's report earlier this week made a "misinterpretation" in a reference about pyroprocessing — a procedure that can be used to purify uranium metal used in nuclear warheads.

Salehi, according to the semiofficial Isna news agency, said the Tehran lab experiments deal with uranium production, not pyroprocessing.

"The experiments have no relation to pyroprocessing," he said. "We believe the agency used this false report about a process that has not yet taken place, with the purpose of influencing public opinion."

Salehi stressed such "mistakes" would backfire and only damage IAEA's reputation.

He added that the Tehran lab experiments sought to produce uranium metal from depleted uranium, which is an effective shield against harmful radiation. Salehi said Iran has plentiful stocks of depleted uranium but didn't elaborate on the source of the material.

In January, Iran told the IAEA it had carried out pyroprocessing experiments, prompting a request from the agency for more information — but then backtracked in March and denied conducting such activities.

IAEA experts last month revisited the site — the Jabr Ibn Jayan Multipurpose Research Laboratory in Tehran — only to establish "that the electrochemical cell had been removed" from the unit used in the experiments, according to the report.

Salehi said this was "not correct" and that Iran did not remove any equipment from the lab. He didn't elaborate but Isna quoted him as saying Iran would provide the IAEA with evidence at an unspecified later date.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iranian's envoy to the IAEA headquarters in Vienna already criticized the report in comments made Wednesday in the Austrian capital.

The U.S. and its allies are concerned Iran's program strives to make nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies and says uranium enrichment is for peaceful purposes only, such as energy production.

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U.S. Urges N. Korea to Stop Provocations, Abide by Denuclearization Pledge: State Dept.
Hwang Doo-hyong
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

The United States Monday urged North Korea to stop provocations and take steps to fulfill its pledge for nuclear dismantlement.

"We don't have any particular comment on the internal political machinations in North Korea," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. "We certainly hope that the North Korean leadership will understand the situation it has placed itself in, and that it needs to take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, comply with international law and to stop provocative behavior."

Crowley was responding to the appointment earlier in the day of Jang Song-thaek, the brother-in-law of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, as vice chairman of the all-powerful National Defense Commission in an apparent move to allow Jang to help groom the North Korean leader's third and youngest son, Jong-un, as heir apparent.

"If some reformed North Korean leadership takes those steps, then they would be actually serving the interests of their people," he said. "We know what they should do. What we don't know is what they will do. And we certainly don't know why these changes are taking place at this time."

The leadership change comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the North's torpedoeing of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in the Yellow Sea in March, killing 46 sailors.

South Korea severed all ties with North Korea, except for the joint industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong, and took the case to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions after an international team of investigators concluded last month that a North Korean mini-submarine torpedoed the Cheonan.

North Korea denies involvement and has threatened all-out war if sanctioned.

South Korea and the U.S. will conduct a joint military exercise in waters near the scene of the sinking late this month as a show of force against North Korea with the participation of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

"We're looking at a range of options in terms of additional capabilities, exercises, other training programs, and then with the U.N. we would expect the Security Council to bring up this matter, and that we expect there to be a strong statement coming out of the U.N. at the appropriate time in the future that makes clear to North Korea that these kinds of provocations and threats to regional stability will not be tolerated," Crowley said.

While meeting with Peruvian President Alan Garcia Perez in Lima, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said North Korea still poses a threat to global peace and stability, as does Iran.

"President Obama greatly appreciates the Peruvian government's support for nonproliferation, especially to send a message of unity to Iran and North Korea that their actions pose a threat to the peace and stability of the world community," she said, according to a transcript released by the State Department.

It is not clear at the moment whether China, North Korea's staunchest communist ally, will support any bid by South Korea and its allies to condemn North Korea at the Security Council.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo is due in Beijing Tuesday to seek support for rebuking Pyongyang, which China has not yet officially blamed for the Cheonan's sinking. China has only stressed the need to "avoid conflict" and "maintain peace and stability" on the Korean Peninsula.

While it took only two weeks for the council to adopt resolutions against North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests, most analysts say more time is needed for a response to the naval assault, perhaps a non-binding presidential statement or a resolution with or without sanctions.

Chun said last week that Seoul wants to send "a symbolic and political message" to "head off a recurrence of this kind of military provocation" rather than seek additional sanctions, apparently in recognition of the lukewarm attitude of China and Russia, another veto power.

North Korea is already subject to an overall arms and economic embargo for its nuclear and missile tests.

"We have every means to impose sanctions unilaterally or multilaterally in cooperation with our allies, without additional Security Council action," Chun said.

In a related move, the Security Council earlier in the day extended for one more year the mandate of the group monitoring the implementation of U.N. sanctions on North Korea, officials here said.

The council ordered the group of experts from seven countries, including the five veto-wielding powers and South Korea and Japan, to present another report in November, after one in April that said Pyongyang has been evading the sanctions to proliferate nuclear and missile technologies to the Middle East and Myanmar.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors Begins June Deliberations
Steve Heiser
Nuclear Street
(for personal use only)

At the start of the Conference, the United States announced a new proposal for a 100 million US dollars IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative, and pledged 50 million US dollars for that fund over the next five years

In his opening address at the Board of Governors meeting, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano touched on IAEA activities related to a range of nuclear issues including nuclear safety and security, technical cooperation, verification of nuclear non-proliferation as well as the Agency´s program and budget. Excerpts from his speech follow:

NPT Review Conference

"I warmly welcome the fact that the NPT Review Conference unanimously adopted Conclusions and Recommendations for Follow-on Actions in the three areas that relate to Agency activities. It was very encouraging that a call was made to all States parties to ensure that the Agency continues to have all the political, technical and financial support it needs to effectively meet its responsibilities. I am confident that, with the support of all of its Member States, the Agency will continue delivering excellent results in all areas of its work.

"At the start of the Conference, the United States announced a new proposal for a $100 million US dollars IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative, and pledged $50 million US dollars for that fund over the next five years. I am very grateful for that initiative and encourage other Member States in a position to do so to match this commitment. This additional funding would enable the Agency to significantly increase its support for Member States in key areas such as health care and nutrition, food security, water resource management, and infrastructure development for the safe and secure use of nuclear power.

"Personally, I was especially gratified that the Review Conference welcomed our focus on cancer control as a priority issue in 2010. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that this year´s Scientific Forum, which will take place on 21-22 September here in Vienna, will focus on fighting cancer in the developing countries. I expect this conference to be a major event, at which existing partnerships will be consolidated and enlarged to confront this crucial challenge of our time. I strongly encourage Member States to participate in the Forum."

Tehran Research Reactor

"The Board will recall that my predecessor, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, proposed a draft agreement last October under which Iranian low enriched uranium would be shipped for further enrichment in Russia and processing into fuel in France. The proposed agreement was accepted at that time by the United States, Russia and France.

"I received a letter from Iran dated 24 May, in which Iran officially declared its agreement with the Joint Declaration by the Foreign Ministers of Iran, Brazil and Turkey which was signed on 17 May in Tehran. At Iran´s request, the Agency immediately conveyed Iran´s letter to the Governments of France, the Russian Federation and the United States, and asked for their views. I am now awaiting their responses, and will continue to consult with all concerned parties on this matter."

Application of Safeguards in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea

"As the Agency has had no inspectors in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea since April last year, I have nothing to report to the Board on any activities of the IAEA in relation to the DPRK.

"However, let me recall that the DPRK continues to be bound by the obligations imposed on it by relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. For example, under UNSC Resolution 1718 (2006), the DPRK is required to act strictly in accordance with the NPT and its IAEA Safeguards Agreement and to provide the IAEA transparency measures extending beyond these requirements. The relevant resolutions of the IAEA General Conference also confirmed the need for the full implementation of the DPRK´s comprehensive safeguards agreement with the Agency.

"The recent increase in tension on the Korean Peninsula reminds us that the security situation in this region remains extremely sensitive and underscores the need to address the nuclear issue as early as possible. I urge the DPRK to fully implement all relevant nuclear non-proliferation obligations. I also call on all parties concerned to make concerted efforts for a resumption of the Six-Party Talks at an appropriate time, with the ultimate aim of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran

"While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

"The necessary cooperation includes, among other things, implementation of relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, implementation of the Additional Protocol and of modified Code 3.1, as well as clarification of issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran´s nuclear programme.

"Key developments since the March Board include Iran´s continued enrichment of uranium up to 20% U-235 at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz, and Iran´s announcement of its intention to install a second cascade for this purpose and connect it to the first one. This necessitated a new safeguards approach, which is now being implemented with Iran´s cooperation.

"As the Report makes clear, Iran´s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement requires the Agency to seek to verify both the non-diversion of nuclear material from declared activities and the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. I also need to mention that Iran is a special case because, among other things, of the existence of issues related to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme. I request Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations, including its Additional Protocol."

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic

"As my report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Syrian Arab Republic shows, Syria has not cooperated with the Agency since June 2008 in connection with the unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and some other locations. As a consequence, the Agency has not been able to make progress towards resolving the outstanding issues related to those sites. It would also be helpful if Israel shared with the Agency any relevant information which it may possess in this regard.

"Since my last report, the Agency has performed a physical inventory verification at the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) with Syria´s cooperation. Syria has provided information on previously unreported laboratory-scale uranium conversion and irradiation activities at the MNSR and additional explanations concerning the presence of anthropogenic natural uranium particles. Syria subsequently submitted inventory change reports concerning the newly declared nuclear material. The information provided by Syria is still being assessed.

"I urge Syria to cooperate with the Agency on all issues in a timely manner and to bring into force an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement to enable the Agency to verify the correctness and completeness of Syria´s declarations."

Israeli Nuclear Capabilities

"As the Board is aware, the General Conference last year adopted a resolution expressing concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities and called upon Israel to accede to the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. The General Conference requested me to work with the concerned States towards achieving that end and report to the Board and the General Conference at its fifty-fourth regular session in September on the implementation of this resolution.

"I wrote to the Governments of Member States in April 2010 requesting them to inform me of any views that they might have with respect to meeting the objectives of this resolution. As of today, I have received replies from 17 Governments. Following the meeting of the Board, I intend to remind those Governments which have not done so to provide their replies at their earliest convenience. I will report to the Board and the General Conference in September.

"The Secretariat is also following up the relevant provisions of the resolution of the General Conference on the Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East."

The Board of Governorns meeting is being held at the IAEA´s headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

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Russia, Turkey Sign Deal on Monitoring Nuclear Safety
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Russia and Turkey signed on Tuesday an agreement on the monitoring of nuclear safety.

The document was inked by representatives from Russia's state safety watchdog, Rostechnadzor, and Turkey's Atomic Energy Agency.

The signing ceremony was held at a meeting between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Putin arrived in Turkey on Tuesday to attend the third summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and hold bilateral talks with top officials from Turkey and other countries.

During his official visit to Turkey in mid-May, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a deal on the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

The nuclear power plant is expected to be built near the Mediterranean port of Mersin in the Akkuyu area and put into operation in 2016-2019.

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Turkey, Russia Sign Nuclear Deal - UPDATED
World Bulletin
(for personal use only)

Turkey and Russia signed a nuclear cooperation deal in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Turkey Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) and Russia's Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision (ROSTECHNADZOR) signed a cooperation deal.

Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and Russian Deputy Premier Igor Sechin signed the agreement at a ceremony held at the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul.

Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who is in Istanbul to attend the Summit of Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA) also attended the ceremony.

The agreement foresees information and know-how exchange on licensing of nuclear facilities and activities.

Under the agreement, TAEK and ROSTECHNADZOR will cooperate in the areas of regulations for licensing and supervision, protection from radiation, management of quality of nuclear facilities, radioactive fuels and fuel waste management, and safety regulations for nuclear/radioactive materials and radioactive wastes, emergency reaction and readiness and training for supervisory personnel.

Yildiz said the Turkish parliament would vote within a few of weeks a deal with Russia to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

"The agreement we signed on the construction of the nuclear plant and electricity to be generated there will be submitted to the parliament for approval within next 2-3 weeks," Yildiz told reporters.

"Strong ties to contribute to regional peace"

The Turkish prime minister said that consolidation of relations between Turkey and Russia would contribute to regional peace, economic development and stability, particularly in the Caucasus.

Turkey's Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan defined multi-dimensional relations with Russia as a prior foreign policy item of Turkey.

"We aim to raise our trade volume to 100 billion USD in five years," Erdogan told a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Istanbul.

Erdogan and Putin met over breakfast at the Ciragan Palace on the sidelines of the The Third Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

The trade volume between the two countries dropped to 23 billion USD in 2009 due to the global economic crisis.

Erdogan said Turkey provided a great deal of its natural gas demand from the Russian Federation, and Turkey would take new steps for use of more natural gas in industry.

"Right to diversify energy sources"

One day after Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a gas deal, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Turkey has the right to diversify its energy sources.

Putin said, however, the amount of natural gas to be drilled from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas field cannot be compared with Russian natural gas.

Putin said Turkey's need for energy has increased in line with its growing economy, adding that Russia has been making up for the Iranian gas Turkey failed to get every winter over the past few years.

Turkey and Azerbaijan inked a deal on Monday that will ship 11 billion cubic meters of Azeri natural gas a year to Turkey beginning 2016.

Putin said transportation of gas was as important as supply problems and added that current pipelines were not enough to meet demand.

On Nabucco pipeline project, Putin said the project would of course be implemented if it is considered economically advantageous. However, he argued, Azeri natural gas would not be enough to feed this project.

Putin also stated that Russia was working on new projects to add two more lines to Blue Stream, a major trans-Black Sea gas pipeline that carries natural gas from Russia into Turkey, in a move to re-export Russian gas from Turkey to third countries.

"Putin meeting with Ahmedinejad"

Asked about Iran's nuclear program, Putin said that he could have a meeting with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Istanbul on the sidelines of the regional conference both leaders taking part.

Putin said obstacles in front of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should be removed, adding that UN Security Council decisions should not put Iranian people in a difficult condition.

"Defending rights of civilians"

The Turkish prime minister also said that Turkey would defend the rights of civilians who lost their lives in Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Turkey's Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would defend rights of the dead civilians of the flotilla in all international platforms.

"Our agonies will alleviate when justice prevails," Erdogan said.

Premier Erdogan's remarks came after the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31, killing eight Turkish and one U.S. citizen of Turkish descent and wounding almost 30 people.

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IAEA Calls on Syria to Cooperate
United Press International
(for personal use only)

Syria hasn't cooperated with international nuclear inspectors since June 2008 on some sites, the director of the IAEA told officials Monday in Vienna.

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the board of governors Monday that Damascus hasn't cooperated in investigations regarding its Dair Alzour site and "other locations."

Israeli jets bombed the Dair Alzour facility near al-Kibar in Syria in 2007. Intelligence officials said they believed the site was a nuclear reactor of North Korean design under construction since 2001.

IAEA inspectors found traces of uranium that went undisclosed by Damascus, though it was unclear if the uranium was from Dair Alzour.

Amano called on Damascus to cooperate with the agency "on all matters." He added that it would be "helpful" if Israel shared any information regarding Dair Alzour with the IAEA.

Syria claims the nuclear material was from the Israeli weapons used on Dair Alzour, though the IAEA discredited those claims.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad said in March that it was "important" for Damascus to consider a civilian nuclear energy program.

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Italy, France in Nuclear Power Agreement
United Press International
(for personal use only)

Italy signed an agreement with France marking the return of nuclear power to Italy after a referendum rejected it in 1986, official documents show.

Silvio Berlusconi signed a memorandum of understanding Monday authorizing the return to Italy of nuclear energy, which was turned down by referendum following the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, ANSA reported.

A statement said the companies, E.ON Italia and Paris-based GDF Suez, "will work in talks with national and local authorities to promote a stable, clear, predictable regulatory framework."

E.ON Italia is part of a large German-based energy corporation, and GDF Suez said between them they have experience from involvement in 30 nuclear plants in Germany, Belgium, France and Sweden.

There are plans in the agreement for four nuclear plants in Italy and five in France, ANSA said.

The head of Italy's
Green Party, Angelo Bonelli, wants a new referendum in February, accusing the government of carrying out a ''sensational fraud against the Italian public because nuclear power is not only dangerous for the environment and health but unsustainable from an economic point of view.''

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D.  Nuclear Industry

Germany Mulls Nuclear Extension
United Press International
(for personal use only)

The German government will extend the running times of its nuclear power plants by no more than 10 years.

The decision is the product of lengthy government consultations over the weekend, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reports. It would be a victory for Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen, who has campaigned for no or moderate running time extensions. A host of pro-nuclear state governors had lobbied to extend the running times by as much as 28 years.

The Berliner Zeitung writes that the careful extension course, which hasn't been confirmed by the government, was chosen to ward off any attempts to challenge the decision in court.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Berlin will unveil its overall energy strategy and a final decision on the lifeline of the country's nuclear power plants by the end of July.

But one thing is already clear: Germany's utilities will have to pay for longer running times. German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday said her government will tax the likes of Eon, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW for running nuclear power plants. The tax will hand Berlin an estimated $2.75 billion per year. It is part of a larger package of budget savings measures worth $100 billion until 2014, which Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle unveiled Monday.

Berlin said last year it is mulling extending the lifetime of Germany's youngest reactors by several years, vowing to scrap the nuclear phase-out plan that foresees to shut down all 17 reactors by 2021.

This has sparked significant opposition with political and public players. More than 120,000 people demonstrated against nuclear power in April, forming a human chain that stretched 75 miles through northern Germany.

The public opposition to nuclear has caused the government of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union and the free-market Free Democratic Party to revisit their positions regarding the energy source.

Both parties campaigned in favor of nuclear power, arguing that nuclear provides secure, relatively cheap carbon dioxide-free power and should remain in the mix until renewables are ready to take over. After the parties were elected in a coalition in September 2009, they were expected to quickly reverse the planned phaseout but Roettgen, of Merkel's conservatives, repeatedly questioned this plan, pointing to the fact that nuclear power is too unpopular with ordinary Germans and that the reactors should be shut down so that renewables can take over.

Germany's utilities are wary of the delay, not knowing where and when to invest.

They have recently been focusing on Britain's emerging nuclear market. Eon and RWE have decided to team up to build nuclear power plants there, promising to invest around $25 billion in the endeavor.

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E.  Nonproliferation

Myanmar Reportedly After Nukes
Song Shengxia
Global Times
(for personal use only)

Speculations on Myanmar's nuclear ambitions reemerged this weekend after media reported Friday claiming that the Southeast Asian country is seeking to develop a nuclear program with assistance from North Korea.

Chinese analysts, however, questioned the reliability of the sources of the investigation, suggesting the report is related to the US' interest in reasserting its role in Southeast Asia.

A report by the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) said extensive documents and photos smuggled out of Myanmar by an army defector shows Myanmar is experimenting with uranium and trying to build a reactor or enrichment plant.

The DVB said its report was based on a five-year investigation that indicates that Myanmar is actively acquiring nuclear technology and expertise with help from North Korea.

It said the documents and photos obtained from Sai Thein Win, a former Myanmar defense engineer trained in Russia in missile technology, were examined by Robert Kelley, a US nuclear scientist and ex-director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Sai said he had defected from the military after working in a nuclear battalion in Myanmar tasked with making prototype components for missile and nuclear programs.

According to the report, two companies in Singapore with German connections sold many machine tools to the Myanmar government, notably the Department of Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE), which is closely asso-ciated with the Department of Atomic Energy, and probably a front for military purchasing for weapons of mass destruction.

But the machinery did not include all the necessary accessories to make the high-precision parts required for many missile and nuclear applications.

The revelations prompted US Senator Jim Webb to abruptly cancel a trip to Myanmar on Thursday. He said it would be "unwise" and "potentially counterproductive" for him to visit Myanmar as a result of the claim.

A senior Myanmar official, who declined to be named, told AFP that the accusations were "groundless," without elaborating.

Sun Xiaoying, a researcher on Southeast Asia with the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that she was skeptical about the unverified claim as the accusation is from former Myanmar military figures now living in exile.

The international community should "carefully differentiate between the peaceful use of atomic energy and efforts to seek nuclear arms," Sun added.

Myanmar signed an agreement with the IAEA in 1995 that it would not pursue nuclear weapons under a carefully defined standard international legal agreement.

However, speculation on Myanmar embarking on a nuclear program mounted a year ago when a North Korean freighter, the Kang Nam I, headed toward Myanmar with an undisclosed cargo. Tracked by the US Navy, the freighter changed course and returned home.

US and South Korean officials suspected the freighter to be carrying artillery and other non-nuclear arms, while a South Korean intelligence expert said the ship's mission appeared to be related to a Myanmar nuclear program and also carried Scud-type missiles, the AP reported. Both Myanmar and North Korea denied the allegation.

A UN report released last month said North Korea has been using front companies to export nuclear and missile technology and has helped Iran, Syria and Myanmar.

He Shengda, a scholar on Southeast Asian affairs at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, said Myanmar does not seem to be in a position to engage in nuclear weapons development.

"Economic development and political stability are most urgent for the authorities of Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962 and is expected to hold elections this year, the first of their kind in 20 years.

Jin Liangxiang, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told Time Weekly that the US has been using the hype on Myanmar's nuclear ambition to recast its role in Southeast Asia, which remains a nuclear-free region.

"To reassert its presence in the region, the US will surely use Myanmar's alleged nuclear ambition to intimidate its allies in the region," he said.

Strategically, it attempted to restrain China by creating a stir in Myanmar, a regional hub for transport via the Indian Ocean, Jin added.

Reuters commented that if the report about Myanmar's nuclear program were true, "it would change the strategic landscape of the region with Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, which are closely allied with Washington."

Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asian Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, warned that the Myanmar government could risk seeking nuclear weapons if it feels threatened by persistent external pressures.

The scenario is likely to be realized if Western countries stick to their current approaches, despite the fact that the development of nuclear weapons by Myanmar is against the law, Zhao said.
Under those circumstances, neither ASEAN nor China, Myanmar's largest donor, could succeed in persuading the regime to abandon its atomic weapons ambition, he added.

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F.  Links of Interest

At Laboratory Outside of Las Vegas, US Officials Prepare For Response to Nuclear Terror
Star Tribune
(for personal use only)

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