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Nuclear News - 7/20/2010
PGS Nuclear News, July 20, 2010
Compiled By: Brandi Bohannon

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Will not Back Down in Nuclear Standoff: Ahmadinejad , Turkish Weekly (7/20/2010)
    2. Larijani: Iran Against Nukes , PressTV (7/20/2010)
    3. Security Council 'Insult' Iran, Turkey, Brazil: Iran Speaker , AFP (7/20/2010)
    1. Japan Says It Isn’t Seeking Bilateral Meeting with North Korea , Bill Austin, Bloomberg (7/20/2010)
    2. US, South Korea to Stage War Games Next Week , AOL News (7/20/2010)
    3. U.S. Reviewing More Sanctions on North Korea: South , Reuters (7/19/2010)
    4. U.S. Ready to Talk to N.Korea in Right Circumstances , Yahoo News  (7/15/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Pakistan Defends Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with China, Lu Hui , Xinhua News Agency (7/19/2010)
    2. Russia, Ukraine to Consider Joint Atomic Project , RIA Novosti (7/19/2010)
    3. Japan, France Agree to Cooperate on Safe Nuke Technologies , Yang Lina, Xinhua News Agency (7/16/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Philippines "Seriously" Considering Nuclear Power Plant: Energy Secretary , Xiong Tong , Xinhua News Agency (7/20/2010)
    2. Deputy Undersecretary From Ministry of Energy, Turkey to Present Update on the Current Nuclear Power Developments in Turkey, Zawya (7/19/2010)
    3. NAEC, NNRA Clash over Nuclear Safety Bill , Vanguard  (7/19/2010)
E.  Nuclear Security
    1. Myanmar's Nuclear Plans Under Fire , Marwaan Macan-Markar, Southeast Asia (7/21/2010)
    2. Report: Hill Fails Again to Account for Nuke Inventory , Utah News  (7/19/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Creating a Next Generation Nuclear Material Security Architecture , Kenneth Luongo, President , Partnership for Global Security, Partnership for Global Security (7/15/2010)

A.  Iran

Iran Will not Back Down in Nuclear Standoff: Ahmadinejad
Turkish Weekly
(for personal use only)

Iran will not step back an inch in its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in Qazvin on Monday.

No sanctions resolution can force Iran to relinquish its right to access to nuclear technology, he added.

The president stated that the imposition of sanctions on Iran has not only proven to be counterproductive but has actually helped the country consolidate its self-sufficiency.

Since they imposed sanctions on Iran in 2006, the country’s industrial exports have nearly tripled in Qazvin and some other provinces, he noted.

“If they step up their pressure now, our industrial complexes will be able to become competitive at the international level,” he added.

He also criticized the Western powers for using threatening language toward Iran over its nuclear activities and called it a mistake.

“Knock yourself out with your sanctions. Every piece of machinery or equipment that you don’t sell to us, we will make here at home,” he said.

“We’re interested in reasoning and dialogue, but you don’t seem to have anything to do other than imposing sanctions, closing a few bank accounts, or inspecting some ships, which you cannot do. If you want to show your teeth, we will sit down and watch your show. But we still advise you to listen to us. It will be in your own best interests,” he added.

And the Iranian nation will always be prepared to stand up to any country seeking to impede Iran’s progress, Ahmadinejad said.

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Larijani: Iran Against Nukes
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Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani reiterates that the country has always been against proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He made the remark in a meeting with his Greek counterpart Philippos Petsalnikos on the sidelines of an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference in Geneva.

Larijani also lashed out at certain powers for chanting empty slogans while continuing to develop and modernize their nukes.

The top Greek parliamentarian, in turn, underscored his country favors peace and nuclear non-proliferation.

He then touched upon Tehran-Athens relations, saying the two sides enjoy great potential for boosting ties.

He highlighted the parliaments of both countries can play a key role in enhancing reciprocal ties

The Greek parliament speaker also said Iran and Greece have the potential to work together closely to help settle the Palestine and Cyprus issues.

Larijani, in turn, invited his Greek opposite number to visit Iran.

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Security Council 'Insult' Iran, Turkey, Brazil: Iran Speaker
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The UN Security Council and the United States "insulted" Iran, Turkey and Brazil, by imposing fresh sanctions despite a nuclear deal between the three parties, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday.

Larijani said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had received letters from US President Barack Obama requesting for help so "we can embark on a new path" on the nuclear dossier.

But when Turkey, Brazil and Iran announced a nuclear fuel swap deal in May, Washington expressed reservations.

Under the accord signed May 17, Tehran would ship around half its stock of low-enriched uranium to Turkey and months later receive a supply of more highly enriched uranium suitable for research and medical use.

The United States also led the push at the UN Security Council for fresh sanctions against Tehran.

"After that what the Security Council and the US did is like an insult to these three countries -- Iran, Turkey and Brazil," said Larijani.

"They gave a mission to (Turkey and Brazil) and ... we had a deal and after that they betrayed them," added Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator.

Asked for his assessment of Iran and Russia's relationship after Moscow backed the UN sanctions, Larijani said: "The relationship we have with Russia is normal."

But he stressed that he was opposed to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's statement last week calling for Tehran to provide explanations over its nuclear ambitions and to cooperate with the international community.

"I am opposed to what President Medvedev has said. With Mr Putin we have defined a very active diplomacy and relationship," he said, referring to the former Russian president who is now prime minister.

"We don't want to live in a kind of political fantasy world.

"The reality is that the Russians know very well that we don't have nuclear weapons and the Americans know it too. Therefore it is not really justified when they expressed any concerns about something that they know very well about," claimed Larijani.

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Japan Says It Isn’t Seeking Bilateral Meeting with North Korea
Bill Austin
(for personal use only)

Japan said it isn’t seeking a bilateral meeting of foreign ministers with North Korea during an Asian security summit in Hanoi this week.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada “has no intention at this point” of meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui Chun, Hidenobu Sobashima, deputy press secretary at the ministry told reporters in the Vietnamese capital today. They might have a chance to meet naturally during the summit, he said.

Japan is part of the six-party forum that is seeking to persuade North Korea to resume talks on dismantling its nuclear weapons program. South Korea has ruled out any resumption unless North Korea apologizes for the March 26 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, which an international panel blamed on Kim Jong Il’s regime.

The six-party talks, also involving China, Russia and the U.S., haven’t convened since December 2008. Japan proposed a bilateral meeting with North Korea, Nikkei English News reported earlier today, without citing a source for the article.

North Korea on July 10 expressed a willingness to return to disarmament talks, a day after the United Nations Security Council adopted a statement falling short of blaming the country for the Cheonan attack. South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan on July 18 dismissed the North Korean overture as a ploy to divert attention from the sinking.

North Korea withdrew from the six-party process after UN sanctions imposed in response to missile tests. The country exploded a second nuclear device in May 2009 after conducting its first test in 2006.

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US, South Korea to Stage War Games Next Week
AOL News
(for personal use only)

The U.S. and South Korea announced today that they'll hold joint military exercises next week in the Sea of Japan to send a "clear message" against North Korean aggression.

The drills from Sunday until Wednesday will include an American aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, and about 20 other ships and submarines, as well as 100 aircraft and 8,000 U.S. and South Korean troops, according to a joint statement from both militaries.

Four F-22 Raptor fighter jets will also take part, with U.S. pilots conducting training missions with their Korean counterparts for the first time, said U.S. Adm. Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, according to Agence France-Presse.

"These defensive, combined exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop, and that we are committed to together enhancing our combined defensive capabilities," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in the statement carried by several news agencies.

Gates is in South Korea to meet with local officials, and he will be joined there Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The two will continue talks with South Korean officials and also visit the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that borders North Korea, Reuters reported.

Washington has voiced strong support for Seoul and backed its efforts to win international censure of North Korea, after Pyongyang was implicated in the sinking of a southern warship that killed 46 sailors in March.

"We stand fully prepared to respond militarily to any further North Korean provocation," Gen. Han Min-Koo, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in the joint statement.

North Korea denied any involvement in the Cheonan's sinking and has warned that any retaliation could heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula and even spark a nuclear war. The two rival Koreas are technically still on a war footing since their 1950-53 war ended without a peace treaty. But recent tensions over the Cheonan have brought them closer than ever before to renewed conflict.

Next week's war games are the latest in a series of exercises the American military has conducted with Seoul, a longtime U.S. ally in Asia. These particular drills were first announced last month, but today was the first indication of their timing.

North Korea's state-run media reacted to today's news of the upcoming drills, saying they represent "very dangerous saber rattling."

The upcoming exercises are "aimed at further straining the already deadlocked inter-Korean relations and igniting a nuclear war against the DPRK (North)," the official Minju Joson newspaper said in a commentary. The commentary was excerpted by several South Korean and foreign media.

China -- North Korea's only powerful ally -- has not embraced an international panel's conclusion that Pyongyang was to blame for the Cheonan's sinking. China has also objected to such U.S.-South Korean military exercises, especially those held in the Yellow Sea close to Chinese coastal waters. Asked whether he's concerned that China finds such drills intimidating, Willard downplayed such worries.

"No, I'm not concerned. If I have a concern vis-a-vis China, it is that China exert itself to influence Pyongyang so that incidents like the Cheonan don't happen in the future," Willard told The New York Times.

Gates also said the exercises shouldn't worry China. "These exercises are off the coast of Korea, not off the coast of China. These are exercises like we have conducted for decades in the past," the U.S. defense chief told reporters. "There is nothing provocative about them at all."

In deference to China's position, a U.N. resolution issued this month condemned the Cheonan's sinking but stopped short of blaming Pyongyang outright.

The USS George Washington is due to arrive Wednesday in the South Korean port of Pusan, The Washington Post reported. The nuclear-powered ship is one of the largest warships in the world.

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U.S. Reviewing More Sanctions on North Korea: South
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The United States may implement additional sanctions on North Korea in response to the sinking of a South Korean warship, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said on Tuesday.

The U.N. Security Council on July 9 condemned the attack on the South Korean ship Cheonan in March but did not explicitly blame the North. Pyongyang denies all responsibility.

"Considering the threat to the stability of the Korean peninsula from the Cheonan incident, the U.S. is considering additional sanctions against the North," Yu said on YTN TV.

The Security Council adopted resolution 1874, which cut off Pyongyang's arms trade, last year, after the North's second nuclear test.

Tension on the Korean peninsula rose to new heights following the sinking that killed 46 South Korean sailors. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold a high-profile meeting in Seoul this week to respond to the North in a strong show of support for its military ally.

South Korea has suspended trade ties with its destitute neighbor and pledged to begin propaganda broadcasts from loudspeakers set up along the Demilitarized Zone border that divides the Korean peninsula.

The North has threatened to shoot at the loudspeakers and also warned of war if the Seoul imposed additional sanctions.

Yu said it was regrettable that North Korea had called for the resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks as "a ploy" to deflect accusations on the ship sinking.

"It is very important that the North admits to its role in the Cheonan incident and apologize, as well as pledge not to repeat similar behavior," he said.

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U.S. Ready to Talk to N.Korea in Right Circumstances
Yahoo News
(for personal use only)

The United States said on Thursday it wanted North Korea to give up "its provocative ways" and show some commitment to abandoning its nuclear programs before resuming diplomatic talks with Pyongyang.

A U.S. diplomat said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would discuss the issue as well as what actions the United States might take in response to North Korea's alleged sinking of a South Korea warship, the Cheonan, when she visits Seoul next week.

Pyongyang has denied responsibility for the March 26 incident in which 46 South Korean sailors died. The reclusive nation escaped censure from the United Nations, which last week condemned the sinking but in deference to China did not cite North Korea by name.

China, the closest North Korea has to an ally, has avoided taking a firm stand on who was responsible for the Cheonan's destruction.

Analysts believe Beijing fears that condemnation of Pyongyang could erode its limited leverage over North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and dash any hopes of persuading him to abandon his nuclear weapons.

"The United States and South Korea have always maintained ... that we are prepared under the right circumstances, to sit down in a dialogue with North Korea," Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters.

"But as (South Korean) President Lee Myung-bak has said on numerous occasions, we do not want to talk for talking's sake. ... there has to be a clear determination that North Korea rejects its provocative ways and embraces a path toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula," Campbell said.

The Pentagon said this week United States and South Korea were expected soon to approve a series of joint military exercises that aim to deter the North from any future attack.

The naval and air exercises in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan, likely to be finalized during the high-level talks next week in Seoul, go beyond those previously announced.

While in Asia, Clinton attend a regional conference in Vietnam at which she will have bilateral meetings with top Chinese, Indian and Japanese officials, Campbell said.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

Pakistan Defends Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with China
Lu Hui
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Pakistan on Monday defended its civilian nuclear cooperation with China to build two nuclear reactors and said the plants will be open to the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Speaking at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after their strategic dialogue, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there should be no fear about the safety of the nuclear power plants as Pakistan has 35 years of nuclear experience and there has been no untoward incident.

Qureshi said Pakistan is facing energy crisis, citing six to eight hours of power outage in urban areas and 10 to 12 hours in rural areas.

The energy crisis has badly affected the country's economic and agricultural sectors, the minister said, adding that the Pakistani government has embarked on plans to fill the energy gap, including building nuclear power for civilian use.

In late June, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the civilian nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan is for peaceful purposes and such cooperation is based on equality and mutual benefit.

The cooperation fully complies with the two countries' respective international obligations and is subject to the supervision of the IAEA, the spokesman said.

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Russia, Ukraine to Consider Joint Atomic Project
RIA Novosti
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Russian and Ukrainian experts will discuss setting up a joint nuclear generation project on Tuesday, Ukraine's major energy company said.

"A Russian-Ukraine meeting on equipment supplies to power stations in Russia and other countries will take place on July 20, 2010, at the Turboatom headquarters," Turboatom said in statement.

"In addition, the meeting will discuss conditions for the creation of a joint Russian-Ukrainian standard generation unit project to be constructed in a number of countries," the statement added.

The meeting will involve experts from leading Russian and Ukrainian atomic energy companies.

Economic and political ties between Russia and Ukraine have strengthened significantly since Viktor Yanukovych replaced pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko as president in late February.

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Japan, France Agree to Cooperate on Safe Nuke Technologies
Yang Lina
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Japan and France agreed here Friday to work together on developing high-level safe nuclear technologies.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon agreed as the top nuclear technology developers in the world, the two countries could cooperate in developing safe reactors.

"We agreed that it is important for the nuclear power industry to seek extremely high-level security," Fillon said at a joint press conference after the talks.

Kan said, "We discussed our cooperation on nuclear power (development) in reference to some concrete examples and agreed to promote such cooperation in an aggressive manner."

During their talks in Tokyo, Fillon also called on Japan to make effort to reduce its nontariff barriers to European imports if it is to seek a free trade accord with the European Union.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Philippines "Seriously" Considering Nuclear Power Plant: Energy Secretary
Xiong Tong
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

The Philippine government is " seriously" considering the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country to address the looming power crisis, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said on Tuesday.

The official said his office "almost" finished in studying the proposal for the country to utilize a nuclear power plant.

"We have to seriously, very seriously consider that (use of nuclear power) for the very long term," Almendras told reporters in Malacanang, Philippines' presidential palace.

Since the construction of a nuclear power plant will take years, Almendras said, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III could at least start it.

He added that this could be done "if the people will agree to it and if there's a location for it."

Aquino said earlier that he had ordered the energy chief to study the possible construction of a nuclear power plant in the Philippines.

But reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was erected during the time of then-President Ferdinand Marcos, could not be considered because it would be very costly, Aquino said.

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Deputy Undersecretary From Ministry of Energy, Turkey to Present Update on the Current Nuclear Power Developments in Turkey
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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is poised for an accelerated growth in nuclear power. Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey have all expressed a keen and urgent need to add nuclear power to their future energy mix. Recently, a flurry of international and bilateral agreements has been signed with current nuclear players to aid these nuclear-aspirants with their nuclear power programme.

Delivering a Keynote Address at Nuclear Power Middle East & North Africa 2010 on 28-29 September 2010, Mr. Metin KİLCİ, Deputy Undersecretary from Ministry of Energy, Turkey will present an update and insights into the current and future developments of Turkey's nuclear power development. He will be accompanied by Mr. Zafer Alper, President of Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, Ministry of Energy, Turkey. Turkey is just one of the 30+ international and regional nuclear stakeholders participating at the event this year.

Managing Director of Synergy Events, Mr. Frank De Kruijff said "We are delighted to have the participation of both the key regional and international participation such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, International Energy Agency, Arab Atomic Energy Agency at this event'. Through the exchange of experiences, we hope challenges and solutions will be identified which will allow the emerging countries make the right decisions to successfully develop their nuclear power programme

Growing energy demand, depletion of sources of current power supply, volatility of fossil fuel prices, global climate change, and ability to apply nuclear power to desalination projects coupled with the desire to sell hydrocarbons profitably in international markets has resulted in great interest in nuclear power for civilian usage.

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NAEC, NNRA Clash over Nuclear Safety Bill
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The country’s ambitions to develop its nuclear energy resources may experience some hitches due to the looming clash of interest between the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) and the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NNRA) over a draft bill currently before the National Assembly.

Issues between the two foremost nuclear agencies in the country came to a head on Wednesday at a public hearing on a “Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act No. 19 of 1995, Enact the Nuclear Security and Safeguards Act and Re-establish the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority and For Matters Connected Therewith 2009,” conducted by the joint House Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Science and Technology, in Abuja.

The draft bill, submitted to the House by the Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Agency had sought, among other things, to repeal the existing Act establishing the agency and create an authority with far-reaching powers and responsibilities.
However, the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission has mounted a strong opposition to the passage of the new bill, claiming it would make the regulatory agency usurp the promotional aspects of nuclear energy programme in the country.

In his submission at the public hearing, the Director-General of NAEC, Dr. Erapamo Osaisai, urged the joint committee of the House to “stand down hearing on the draft Bill on Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards,” noting that many sections of the draft bill would lead to a state of confusion and anarchy in the highly sensitive nuclear sector.

According to him, the draft bill in its present form stipulates the regulatory responsibilities of the national nuclear regulator (NNRA), but goes further to ascribe to the regulator the functions of other statutory institutions.

He noted that, “The management of the implementation of a country’s atomic energy programme is a sensitive assignment with strategic implications. The draft bill has unwittingly empowered the NNRA to perform the very activities it is expected to regulate, which is a recipe for confusion in the sector.

“The responsibility for the development and enactment of a national comprehensive nuclear law is the responsibility of the focal national nuclear energy programme implementation agency, which undoubtedly is the NAEC.”

He added that, “The current approach being adopted in the draft Bill is aimed at ascribing promotional responsibilities to a nuclear regulatory agency. The international norm is a clear differentiation of the responsibilities of promoter from a regulator.

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E.  Nuclear Security

Myanmar's Nuclear Plans Under Fire
Marwaan Macan-Markar
Southeast Asia
(for personal use only)

When Southeast Asian foreign ministers gather in Hanoi this week for a series of annual security meetings, the region's most troublesome member, military-ruled Myanmar, is due to come under scrutiny after reports of its alleged nuclear ambitions.

Alarm bells have been going off in Southeast Asian capitals since the early June expose by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an Oslo-based broadcasting station run by Burmese journalists in exile, reported that the ruling junta intended to build nuclear weapons facilities.

Indonesia, the largest country in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is among those expected to seek an explanation from Myanmar during the meetings in the Vietnamese capital, which will run from July 20-23.

"Jakarta is concerned about this issue," a Southeast Asian diplomatic source said.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is expected to face similar queries from the Philippines, which in May had an envoy, Libran Cabactulan, chair the 2010 review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations' headquarters in New York.

At that meeting, Cabactulan urged delegates to work towards the treaty's common goals: disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The treaty, which entered into force in 1970, remains the cornerstone for building a global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

ASEAN, whose members include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in addition to Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, itself has a nuclear weapons-free zone agreement. The Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty came into force in 1997, the same year Myanmar became an ASEAN member. Myanmar signed the regional nuclear weapons moratorium treaty at a 1995 meeting in Bangkok.

Against the backdrop of reports of Myanmar's nuclear plans, the ASEAN prohibition on building and storing nuclear weapons now faces a serious challenge. "The issue will be raised at this meeting even though the concrete evidence may be hard to find," said Kavi Chongkittavorn, a columnist on regional affairs for Thailand's English-language daily The Nation. "This is about intention and motive."

According to media reports, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be in Hanoi to join ASEAN counterparts in a broader security forum, is likewise expected to seek clarification about Myanmar's nuclear intentions. Washington has also expressed concern about Myanmar's close links to North Korea, which is under sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.

UN Security Council Resolution 1874, adopted unanimously by the Security Council in June 2009 in the aftermath of an underground nuclear test by North Korea, also calls on UN members to search North Korean cargo ships, but Myanmar has reportedly not adhered to this provision.

The DVB's investigative report, entitled "Burma's Nuclear Ambitions" pointed to Myanmar-North Korean collaboration in building a network of tunnels for military purposes in the secretive nation. The report has already prompted the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send a formal letter of inquiry to the junta, which has denied the DVB's findings. The military regime has also issued two formal statements denying it has any nuclear ambitions.

Those statements, however, have not turned the heat off the regime. Proliferation experts have entered the fray, arguing that "Myanmar's nuclear ambition is apparently real and alarming", according to one commentary recently published in The Nation.

"Although [Myanmar’s] pursuit of nuclear weapons has long been rumored, the [DVB] documentary contains new information from a recent defector who provided DVB with photographs, documents and a view from inside the secretive military that should finally put to rest any doubt about Myanmar's nuclear ambition," wrote Robert Kelly, a recently retired director of the IAEA, in that commentary.

"The evidence includes chemical processing equipment for converting uranium compounds into forms for enrichment, reactors and bombs," Kelly added. "Taken altogether in [Myanmar’s] covert program, they have but one use: nuclear weapons."

ASEAN's latest troubles with Myanmar come on top of mounting pressure from Western nations and human-rights groups for ASEAN to urge the junta to enable a free and fair general election it has promised to hold within this year.

ASEAN is already grappling with the plight of tens of thousands of refugees from Myanmar who have fled due to the army's campaign against separatist rebel groups, as well as the estimated two million undocumented migrant workers who have left a crumbling economy.

Thus far, ASEAN has not viewed this exodus as an urgent threat to regional security. But the nuclear threat could end its silence and cooperation with Myanmar, analysts suggest.

"For decades, Myanmar's ruling regime has been regarded primarily as a menace to its own people," Aung Zaw, editor of Irrawaddy, wrote in Monday's edition of the Bangkok Post newspaper. "But with recent reports confirming long-held suspicions that the junta aspires to establish [Myanmar] as Southeast Asia's first nuclear state, there is now a very real danger that it is emerging as a threat to the rest of the region."

"Myanmar is not North Korea, but the country's military rulers are no less capable than their fellow despots in Pyongyang of holding their neighbors to ransom if they believe their own survival is at stake," he added. "They have taken the first steps toward realizing their nuclear dream; now the international community must act to prevent it from becoming a nuclear nightmare for the rest of us," Aung Zaw wrote.

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Report: Hill Fails Again to Account for Nuke Inventory
Utah News
(for personal use only)

Hill Air Force Base was one of the worst offenders in a list of nine military facilities that failed to properly account for nearly 1,000 nuclear-related items, according to an article in The Air Force Times.

The Times article, based on an Air Force audit conducted last year, indicated none of the accounting errors compromised the safety or security of any weapons.

The discrepancies came, however, in the wake of an international debacle in which contractors at Hill mistakenly sent sensitive components of ballistic missiles to Taiwan. The nuclear missile fuses had mistakenly been labeled as helicopter batteries.

That error caused tension with China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, and may have violated international treaties. The scandal led to the immediate ouster of the Air Force’s two top officers. Later, the Department of Defense punished six more generals from the Air Force, including two previous commanders of Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Center and the former commander of the base’s maintenance wing.

The recent audit examined 25 bases that take part in the nuclear mission in order to assure the security of an inventory of more than 18,000 nuclear weapons-related items valued at $1.7 billion, according to the Times, a private news-gathering organization owned by Gannett Company, Inc.

At the nine bases, auditors found 932 items on site but not listed on “accountable records,” according to the Times. Almost half of the assets were at two of the installations: Hill Air Force Base, Utah; and Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

“Now that we know what those areas are, we are concentrating on improving them,” Air Force officials said in a statement responding to the audit. “Although none of the findings show compromises in safety, security and reliability of nuclear weapons sustainment, we continue to hone our training, processes and procedures to ensure we provide the best possible support.”

Calls to Air Force staff members representing Maj. Gen. Andrew Busch, who commands the Hill logistics center, were not immediately returned.

When Busch took the reins of Utah’s highest profile military command last summer, he said the base “has recommitted itself to the basic fundamentals of our profession, especially as it applies to oversight and control of sensitive components.”

Among other things, he said, the base was “strengthening our supply chain management” when it comes to sensitive weapons parts.

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F.  Links of Interest

Creating a Next Generation Nuclear Material Security Architecture
Kenneth Luongo, President , Partnership for Global Security
Partnership for Global Security
(for personal use only)

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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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