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Nuclear News - 7/27/2010
PGS Nuclear News, July 27, 2010
Compiled By: Brandi Bohannon

A.  Iran
    1. EU, Canada Adopt New Sanctions Against Iran , Slobodan Lekic , Associated Press (7/27/2010)
    2. Turkey Can Stop Iran Getting Nuclear Bomb, Says Cameron , Nicholas Watt , The Guardian (7/27/2010)
    3. Iran Delivers Response to IAEA, PressTV (7/26/2010)
    4. Iran Says Nuclear Talks After Ramadan , Reuters (7/25/2010)
    5. Iran Eyes Nuclear Fusion Energy , PressTV (7/24/2010)
    1. N. Korea Will Bolster Nuclear Deterrence in a New Advanced Manner: Official , Sam Kim, Yonhap News Agency (7/26/2010)
    2. North Korea Nuclear Talks Must Wait to Avoid 'Cold War' Divisions , (7/26/2010)
    3. S. Korea, U.S. Stage Anti-Submarine Exercises in East Sea, Kim Deok-hyun, Yonhap News Agency (7/26/2010)
    4. Hong Kong to Continue Implementing U.N. Sanctions on N. Korea , Kim Young-gyo, Yonhap News Agency (7/23/2010)
    5. Clinton Shares Concern Over N.Korea-Myanmar Military Ties , My Sinchew (7/22/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Panel Recommends Japan Allow Entry of U.S. Nuclear Weapons, Asahi Reports , Sachiko Sakamaki, Bloomberg (7/26/2010)
    2. US-Russia Nuke Treaty Facing Hurdles in US Senate , Desmond Butler, Associated Press (7/23/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Ground Laid for First Nuclear Reactor , Taylor Luck, The Jordan Times (7/27/2010)
    2. Vietnam Designs Plan Against Nuclear Incidents , VietNamNet Bridge (7/27/2010)
    3. China Looks to Build Nuclear Plant in SA as it Seeks Growth in Africa, Zweli Mokgata , Times Live (7/25/2010)

A.  Iran

EU, Canada Adopt New Sanctions Against Iran
Slobodan Lekic
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

The European Union and Canada on Monday adopted new sanctions against Iran, targeting the country's foreign trade, banking and energy sectors.

The moves are the latest in a series of measures taken by the international community in an effort to halt Iran's nuclear program. The EU's measures, which leaders agreed to in principle in June, also blacklist Iran's shipping and air cargo companies.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denounced the EU decision.

"Moving toward confrontational measures and supporting unilateral actions and damaging the atmosphere are not considered by us to be a good use of the opportunity," Mehmanparast said, according to the state television network's website.

Iran denies that it is working on a nuclear weapon, saying its program is intended solely for peaceful purposes such as energy-generation.

EU foreign ministers in Brussels called the restrictions a "comprehensive and robust package" focused on trade, financial services, energy, and transport, with visa bans and asset freezes for Iranian banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

The ministers reaffirmed the EU's commitment to work for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, and backed a call to Tehran to resume meaningful negotiations. The EU's new measures will come into force in the next few weeks, after they are published in the bloc's official gazette, officials said.

"I think today we sent a powerful message to Iran, and that message is that their nuclear program is a cause of serious and growing concern to us," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

"But our objectives remains to persuade Iranian leaders that their interests are served by a return to the table," Ashton said. "Sanctions are not an end in themselves, our objective is, was, and will be to bring Iran to the table to resolve this issue."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner welcomed the announcements by the EU and Canada and portrayed them as further evidence of Iran's isolation.

"The message to Iran's leaders is clear: Meet your responsibilities or face increasing isolation and consequences," the joint statement from the two cabinet secretaries said.

Tehran has sought to deflect pressure and further sanctions by displaying a willingness to talk about nuclear issues — a line reinforced Monday by Tehran's senior envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Iran is ready to go back to the negotiating table" quickly to discuss exchanging some of its enriched uranium for fuel rods for Tehran's nuclear reactor, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh told reporters in Vienna.

He spoke after presenting revised proposals on a possible swap to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, who was expected to relay them to the U.S., France and Russia — the three nations engaged with Iran in such an exchange.

No details of the latest offer were available. But under a similar deal in May with Brazil and Turkey, Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. In exchange, Iran would get fuel rods made from 20 percent enriched uranium. That level of enrichment is high enough for use in research reactors but too low for nuclear weapons.

Among concerns by opponents of the deal is that Iran has continued to churn out low-enriched material and plans to continue running a pilot program of enriching to higher levels, near 20 percent — a level from which it would be easier to move on to creating weapons-grade uranium.

The U.S. and its allies argue that the sanctions are in response to Iran's refusal to freeze all enrichment activities and not in response to Tehran's fuel swap offer.

EU exports to Iran — mainly machinery, transport equipment and chemicals — amounted to euro14.1 billion ($18.2 billion) in 2008. Imports from Iran, the EU's sixth largest energy provider, amounted to euro11.3 billion, with energy being 90 percent of the total.

The new European restrictions come on top of a fourth round of sanctions imposed last month by the U.N. Security Council to curtail Iran's nuclear program.

The new EU restrictions are similar to measures adopted by the Obama administration, which has imposed penalties against additional individuals and institutions it says are helping Iran develop its nuclear and missile programs.

In Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the country's new measures will include a ban on any new Canadian investment in Iran's oil and gas sector, and restrictions on exporting goods that could be used in nuclear programs.

Iranian banks will also will be barred from opening branches in Canada and Canadian banks will not be able to operate in Iran.

"These sanctions are in no way intended to punish the Iranian people," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "These targeted measures are designed to hamper attempts by Iran to develop nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs" and to persuade the country to engage in negotiations.

A spokeswoman for Cannon said sanctions work best and the message is stronger if they are coordinated with other nations," though she did not say specifically that Canada had coordinated with the EU.

"You're likely to see in the next coming days and weeks that other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan will also announce sanctions against Iran," Melissa Lantsman said.

Also Monday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Tehran should stop its "irresponsible rhetoric" and take steps to end disagreements on its nuclear program. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday accused Moscow of turning against Tehran and joining the U.S. in spreading lies about its nuclear program, in the latest sign that Iran is drifting apart from a one-time key backer.

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Turkey Can Stop Iran Getting Nuclear Bomb, Says Cameron
Nicholas Watt
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

Prime minister uses Ankara speech to call on Turkey to tell Tehran of international community's 'serious intent'.

Turkey should use its links with Iran to persuade Tehran to change course on its nuclear programme, David Cameron said today.

As Ankara pledged to ignore tough new EU and US sanctions against Iran, the prime minister urged it to stress the "serious" intent of the international community towards Tehran.

Cameron raised the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions after Turkey responded to the new EU and US sanctions by saying it would press ahead with increased trade links with Tehran.

Turkey is to abide by UN sanctions, agreed last month, which are focused on individuals and companies linked to Iran's nuclear and missile programmes, but will not implement the wider US and EU restrictions on banks.

Last month, the US congress passed legislation that will shut any banks with ties to Iran or any companies selling petroleum products to Tehran out of the US market.

The EU is planning to ban all new investment in the Iranian oil and gas sectors by European companies.

Cameron used a speech to business leaders in Ankara to deliver a plea for a united front.

"Which European country could have the greatest chance of persuading Iran to change course on its nuclear policy?" he asked, responding to his own question in Turkish to say: "Of course, it's Turkey."

The prime minister said Turkey's special position as a bridge between east and west gave it a key role with Iran. "It's Turkey that can help us stop Iran from getting the bomb," he added.

"Let's be frank about this. Iran is enriching uranium to 20% with no industrial logic for what they are doing other than producing a bomb.

"If Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful, why won't Iran allow the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to inspect? Why does Iran continue to seek to acquire military components? And why does Iran continue to threaten Israel with annihilation?"

In May, Iran reached agreement with Turkey and Brazil to export 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium in return for fuel rods for a civilian reactor. Cameron said he hoped this understanding could help "see Iran move in the right direction".

But he cast doubt over Tehran's intentions, saying: "Even if Iran were to complete the deal proposed in their recent agreement with Turkey and Brazil, it would still retain around 50% of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

"So we need Turkey's help now in making it clear to Iran just how serious we are about engaging fully with the international community."

The prime minister, who also used the speech to make a passionate case in favour of Turkey's bid to join the EU, praised it as one of the few countries that can build understanding between Israel and the Arab world.

However, he conceded that the recent shooting of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on the Gaza flotilla by Israeli commandos had harmed relations.

"Turkey's relationships in the region, both with Israel and with the Arab world, are of incalculable value," Cameron said. "No other country has the same potential to build understanding between Israel and the Arab world.

"I know that Gaza has led to real strains in Turkey's relationship with Israel. But Turkey is a friend of Israel. I urge Turkey and Israel not to give up on that friendship."

He condemned the Israeli raid on the flotilla and criticised conditions in Gaza. "The situation in Gaza has to change," he said. "Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."

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Iran Delivers Response to IAEA
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Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency has delivered Tehran's official response to Western queries about the tripartite May 17 fuel swap declaration.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh handed Iran's letter to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano during a Monday meeting, IRNA reported.

"Through submitting an official letter, I expressed the Islamic Republic of Iran's readiness to engage in negotiations over fuel [provisions] for the Tehran nuclear reactor," Soltanieh said.

Soltanieh added that the details of the letter addressed to the Vienna group -- Russia, France, the US and the IAEA -- would be revealed later and stressed, “Our very clear message was that we are ready for negotiations and meeting over fuel for the Tehran reactor.”

Iran's IAEA envoy said Amano had welcomed the response, urging quick talks to resolve the stand off over the country's nuclear program.

While Western powers accuse Iran of pursuing a covert military nuclear program, Tehran denies the charges and argues that as an IAEA member state and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it has the right to the use of peaceful nuclear technology.

In an attempt to ease Western concerns, Iran, Turkey and Brazil signed a fuel swap declaration on May 17 under which Tehran agreed to exchange 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil with fuel for its medical research reactor.

Earlier on Monday, the European Union adopted new sanctions against Iran which mainly target investment in and technical assistance to Iran's refining, liquefaction and liquefied natural gas sectors.

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Iran Says Nuclear Talks After Ramadan
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Iran will be ready to hold negotiations with world powers on its nuclear program after the month of Ramadan ends in early September, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday.

Separately, Mottaki said technical discussions could begin immediately in Vienna on the details of a proposed nuclear fuel swap and a letter to this effect would be delivered to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday.

The West fears Iran's secretive uranium enrichment program is a veiled quest to develop nuclear weapons capability. Tehran denies this, saying it seeks only electricity from enrichment so it can export more of its oil wealth.

Mottaki said the talks after Ramadan would be between Tehran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France -- as well as Germany (P5+1) who have been locked in a protracted standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

"That belongs to 5+1 with Iran," he said of the talks.

Earlier on Sunday, Mottaki met the foreign ministers of Turkey and Brazil, their first meeting since the three struck a tentative swap accord in May that failed to prevent fresh U.N. sanctions against Iran.

Brazil and Turkey have characterized the proposed fuel deal as a way to build confidence for the broader negotiations involving the six world powers, represented for now by the EU's foreign policy chief, on an overall nuclear settlement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier Mottaki had confirmed Iran was ready to start negotiations with Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief.

Ashton wrote to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili last month inviting him to resume negotiations. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in the first half of September.


Iran agreed in May to send some of its enrichment uranium stockpile abroad in exchange for medical reactor fuel, reviving a deal in principle which the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, brokered in October, only to see Tehran back out of it.

The May accord, which has not been carried out, failed to prevent fresh sanctions from the United Nations, European Union and United States adopted over the past two months.

But Davutoglu has said he still saw a chance of Iran carrying out the swap on the basis of their agreement and said Iran would propose in its letter to the IAEA that "technical negotiations" begin as soon as possible.

Under the May deal, Iran agreed to transfer 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey within a month and in return receive, within a year, 120 kg of 20 percent-enriched uranium to keep Tehran's medical research reactor running.

But Western diplomats have dismissed the revived plan.

They said that removing from Iran 1,200 kg -- enough, if highly enriched, to make an atom bomb -- was less significant than when it was first brokered in October because Iran's LEU stockpile had doubled in the interim.

At the time of the original October pact, 1,200 kg comprised about 70 percent of Iran's known LEU reserve.

The Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran in June. Brazil and Turkey voted against, irked by the West's dismissal of their deal which they said obviated the need for any more sanctions.

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Iran Eyes Nuclear Fusion Energy
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Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali-Akbar Salehi says Iran seeks to conduct nuclear fusion research in an effort to break into the alternative energy.

Iran has launched serious "fusion research today," Iranian media outlets quoted Salehi as saying on Saturday.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the national program on nuclear fusion, Salehi also said that some 50 scientists have been employed to work on the project.

Iran initiated the study phase of the project at the AEOI headquarters in the capital Tehran on Saturday where scientists in relevant fields are expected to join the effort for the construction of the first indigenous nuclear fusion reactor and a pilot plant.

Nuclear fusion is the process by which some light atomic particles, such as hydrogen isotopes, merge to form a heavier atom with the release of significant amount of energy.

It is clean and less costly and but so far the almost-weightless isotopes have refused to join together for commercial purposes.

"It takes 20 to 30 years before this process can be commercialized but we have to use all the capacity in the country to provide the necessary speed for fusion research," ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.

Harnessing the energy yield of large-scale fusions could help reduce the global electricity needs and entail less atomic waste which occurs with the fission of nuclear materials like plutonium and uranium.

Director of the AEOI Ali-Akbar Salehi had previously said that the execution of Iran's nuclear fusion plans could enable the country to generate electricity in this manner within the next two decades.

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N. Korea Will Bolster Nuclear Deterrence in a New Advanced Manner: Official
Sam Kim
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea will further bolster its nuclear deterrence "in a new advanced manner to cope with the increasing nuclear threat of the U.S.," a top North Korean military official said on Monday.

"This is a legitimate sovereign right of the DPRK and a mode of merciless counteraction of its revolutionary armed forces as they have always emerged victorious in the fight against the enemies by displaying the pluck and offensive spirit of Mt. Paektu," Kim Yong-chun, minister of the People's Armed Forces, was quoted by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency as saying at a meeting to mark the 57th anniversary of the truce of the Korean War.

DPRK, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is the North's official title.

"Should the U.S. imperialists and the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors finally ignite a new war of aggression in Korea despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, it will mobilize the tremendous military potential, including its nuclear deterrence for self-defense and thus wipe out the aggressors and blow up all their strongholds. By doing so it will clearly show what a real war will look like and completely eradicate the root cause of war," Kim said.

Kim's remarks follow a series of North Korean threats since Sunday that have blasted the South Korea-U.S. joint drills in the East Sea.

North Korea will go ahead with a "strong deterrent" based on its self-defensive policy if it determines the United States has abandoned its intent to resolve the March sinking of a South Korean warship through dialogue, a pro-Pyongyang daily said Monday.

The warning by Chosun Sinbo, a newspaper published by a group of pro-North Korean residents in Tokyo, comes as South Korea and the United States are holding massive maritime drills in the East Sea in protest of the sinking blamed on North Korea.

Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the sinking that the North denies any role in. Chosun Sinbo, considered aligned with the regime in Pyongyang, said the drills only raise military tensions and do little to stop the North from "continuing to strengthen its nuclear deterrent."

"The military drills that run counter to an atmosphere for dialogue is highly likely to instantly turn around the mood" that appeared to thaw after the U.N. Security Council recently urged talks over the sinking, the paper said in a commentary.

The warning further raises speculation that the North may be considering conducting its third nuclear test after two in 2006 and 2009. The isolated country, believed to have enough plutonium to create at least six atomic bombs, claims it is developing nuclear arms to defend itself against U.S. plots to topple its regime.

In a related development, Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, warned that the U.S. will pay "a high price" if Washington continues to raise tension.

On Sunday, the North's National Defense Commission, the highest seat of power, warned the country will start "a retaliatory sacred war" to counter the drills while the foreign ministry issued a similar threat.

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North Korea Nuclear Talks Must Wait to Avoid 'Cold War' Divisions
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South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan said resuming six-party nuclear talks with North Korea too quickly risks deepening public divisions between China and the U.S. and renewing “Cold War” behavior.

China and Russia have refrained from joining the U.S. in supporting South Korea’s accusation that North Korea torpedoed one of its warships in March. China has criticized U.S.-South Korean naval drills aimed at deterring North Korea that began yesterday.

“It’s quite an unfortunate tendency that people think China and Russia are backing North Korea while the United States and Japan support South Korea,” Yu said in a July 24 interview in Hanoi, where he attended the Asean Regional Forum last week. “It’s like a revival of a Cold War paradigm. It’s not the right time to jump on the six-party talks.”

South Korea has held “very intensive” discussions with China following the sinking, and the two countries share the same goal of maintaining peace in the region, Yu said. Relations with China are much more important than this one issue, Yu said.

South Korea is China’s fourth-biggest trading partner after the U.S., European Union and Japan, with two-way commerce of $156 billion last year, Chinese commerce ministry figures show. China-North Korea trade was $2.7 billion, the data show.

North’s Offer

North Korea, which has boycotted the nuclear forum since December 2008, offered to return to the table after the United Nations Security Council refrained from blaming it for the March sinking of the Cheonan, which a South Korean-led international panel said was caused by a torpedo attack by the North. North Korea should take steps to show its sincerity, such as rejoining the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty or disabling its Yongbyon reactor, Yu said.

“Even China and Russia agreed that it’s not the right time to jump start the six-party talks,” Yu said at the forum, which was attended by all the participants in the nuclear discussions. “We should have proof that North Korea is sincere enough to negotiate on this nuclear issue.”

China said July 13 the disarmament forum is the only way to achieve long-term peace on the Korean peninsula. While China expressed a desire to start the talks in a July 23 meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hanoi, there was a sense of acknowledgment that the time isn’t yet ripe, an official who traveled with Clinton told reporters that day, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

North Korean Torpedo

The panel said in May that the Cheonan sank near the disputed sea border after being attacked by a North Korean mini- submarine. North Korea denies responsibility and the Security Council statement adopted on July 9 didn’t name a culprit.

“The six-party talks is a useful platform to negotiate the denuclearization of North Korea,” Yu said. “At the same time, we shouldn’t let North Korea use it to earn time to divert attention from the Cheonan incident.”

North Korea’s domestic agenda, including preparations for a leadership transfer to Kim’s youngest son, may make it difficult to engage in dialogue, Yu said. A plan to elect new leaders of the ruling Korea Workers’ Party in early September may provide some insight into the succession, he said.

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun argued at the Asean Regional Forum that the U.S. and South Korea fabricated the ship sinking to undermine his nation’s economic reconstruction efforts, Yu said. Pak spoke about the “tremendous results” of a campaign driven by Kim, who is “traveling to every corner of the country, encouraging economic programs,” he said.

Economic Failure

“That is clearly, they themselves recognizing the failure of economic development, so they may wish to find some excuse,” Yu said.

North Korea’s economy has been battered by the UN sanctions imposed after it detonated atomic devices in 2006 and last year. Kim’s regime, which has been reliant on outside handouts to feed its 24 million people since the mid-1990s, faces more sanctions by the U.S., targeted at government officials and the foreign banks that help sustain illicit arms deals.

The U.S. and South Korea began naval drills off the Korean peninsula’s east coast yesterday involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, prompting a North Korean threat to intensify its nuclear program.

“They crossed the red line. Attacking a naval ship is beyond the limit,” Yu said. “We should let them know that kind of provocation will bear consequences.”

South Korea plans to modernize its military hardware including improvements in submarine-detection equipment, some of which dates from the 1980s, Yu said.

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S. Korea, U.S. Stage Anti-Submarine Exercises in East Sea
Kim Deok-hyun
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

A fleet of South Korean and U.S. warships carried out massive anti-submarine exercises Monday with F-22 stealth jets flying the skies of South Korea to deter North Korea from any future attack, military officials said.

About 20 ships, 200 aircraft and 8,000 military personnel from the two nations are taking part in the four-day maneuvers aimed at sending a signal to the North, who is accused of sinking a South Korean warship in March.

As part of Monday's drills, four F-22 Raptors, the world's most advanced stealth fighter jet that can evade the North's air defenses, flew over South Korea for the first time, said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Remington, commander of the U.S. 7th Air Force.

The employment of F-22 jets for the drills demonstrates Washington's strong commitment to deter and defeat any provocative acts that threaten the stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, Remington said.

"As with all of our combined air assets in theater, the F-22s stand ready to respond in the defense of the Republic of Korea," Remington told a pool of journalists at Osan Air Base near Seoul, using South Korea's official name.

The air readiness exercise with the F-22 fighter jets "provides valuable combined training as well as demonstrates the resolve and support for our Republic of Korea allies," Remington said.

On the George Washington's flight deck, about 30 fighter jets, including F-22s, F-18s and other aircraft of South Korea, took off and landed six times earlier in the day, according to a pool report.

Rear Admiral Dan Cloyd, the top U.S. official in the exercises, said he was confident the drills will send a clear message to the North that any future provocations won't be tolerated, adding the aircraft carrier is keeping a close eye on North Korea's military moves.

"With these extraordinary capabilities, we are working together to deter and defeat any further North Korean provocations," Cloyd told reporters aboard the aircraft carrier.
South Korean officials said Monday's naval exercises were centered on anti-submarine warfare operations.

"Today's exercises focus on better detecting intrusions by an enemy's submarines and attacking them," Col. Lee Bung-woo, a spokesman for the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), told reporters earlier in the day.

On Tuesday, the third day of the drills, the allies plan to fire naval guns and artillery at an abandoned submarine disguised as a North Korean submarine, Lee said.

Firing underwater torpedoes, solidifying defense against sea and air intrusions by the North's special forces and air-to-air refueling were among exercise scenarios, according to Lee.

Monday's exercises consisted of simulated attacks on enemy submarines and live-fire drills by a squadron of fighter jets off the east coast, Lee said.

The drills are being conducted in international waters off Ulleung Island, about 120 kilometers east of the Korean Peninsula and far south of the North's waters, according to the officials.
North Korea continued its threats against the drills, its communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun saying Monday that South Korea and the U.S. "will have to pay a dear price if they persist in the criminal act" of holding the drills.

Despite the hostile rhetoric, South Korea's military has not detected any unusual activity by the North's military, said Won Tae-jae, a spokesman for Seoul's defense ministry.

Code-named "Invincible Spirit," the four-day drills are intended to show the allies' strong deterrence against the North, which is accused of torpedoing the Cheonan warship and killing 46 sailors in March.

The North denied its responsibility for the attack and denounced the allegation as "sheer fabrication."

South Korea deployed its 14,000-ton Dokdo amphibious landing ship, 4,500-ton KDX-II-class destroyers, the 1,800-ton Son Won-il-class submarine and F-15K fighter jets for the drills.

This week's exercises are the first in a series of joint military drills by South Korea and the U.S. off the Korean Peninsula in the coming months.

In an apparent bow to strong complaints from China, the location of this week's maneuvers was moved to the East Sea from the Yellow Sea, where the Cheonan was attacked.

Officials said future drills would be staged in both waters.

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Hong Kong to Continue Implementing U.N. Sanctions on N. Korea
Kim Young-gyo
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

The government of Hong Kong affirmed its commitment Friday to continue implementing punitive U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea to end its nuclear ambitions.

"Hong Kong will continue to exercise vigilance in enforcing our regulation to effectively implement the United Nations Security Coucil sanctions against DPRK," Josephine Lo, an official at the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Hong Kong government, told Yonhap News, using the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Our law enforcement agencies will take appropriate actions on those found in violation of the laws," she said.

The comment was made after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement Wednesday that the U.S. will hit North Korea with a new set of sanctions to punish it for its sinking of a South Korean warship and prevent it from further provocations.

Those sanctions will "strengthen our enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874" adopted after North Korea's first and second nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, Clinton said at a joint press conference in Seoul after a meeting with South Korea's foreign and defense ministers.

Hong Kong legislated what is called the U.N. Sanctions Regulation in June 2007 to implement the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, according to Lo.

In January, Hong Kong amended the regulation to implement the new and expanded sanctions against North Korea under the Security Council Resolution 1874, she said.

A source here said earlier Friday that the United States has identified about 200 bank accounts with links to North Korea, and that the country is expected to freeze some 100 of those suspected of being used for weapons exports and other illicit purposes banned under U.N. resolutions.

The U.S. State Department said the U.S. will carry out new sanctions within two weeks to cut off money from illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and counterfeit currency or luxury goods flowing into the North Korean leadership.

North Korea has bristled at the announcement of new sanctions and Seoul's plan to conduct large-scale joint naval exercises with the U.S., claiming the moves pose grave threats to regional peace.

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Clinton Shares Concern Over N.Korea-Myanmar Military Ties
My Sinchew
(for personal use only)

The United States shared concerns with Vietnam on Thursday over exports of military equipment from North Korea to junta-ruled Myanmar, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Washington fears growing military ties between the states after a suspected arms shipment from North Korea to Myanmar and a report that the Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, has begun a nuclear weapons programme with Pyongyang's help.

After meeting Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem in Hanoi, Clinton told reporters she shared with him "our concerns about the exporting by North Korea of military material and equipment to Burma".

"We know that a ship from North Korea recently delivered military equipment to Burma and we continue to be concerned by the reports that Burma may be seeking assistance from North Korea with regard to a nuclear programme.

"That is a matter that is of concern to ASEAN, and of concern to the United States," she added in the Vietnamese capital, ahead of Friday's ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum.

Last month Myanmar brushed aside Western concerns about possible nuclear cooperation with North Korea, saying it had no intention of building an atomic bomb as alleged in a recent documentary by the Norwegian-based news group Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).

Myanmar's denial, run in its state media, also said recent nuclear allegations were aimed at undermining renewed dialogue between the United States and Myanmar in the run-up to elections later this year.

Washington began a dialogue with Myanmar's military rulers last year, but has sharply criticised preparations for this year's elections -- the first in 20 years -- as well as raising the nuclear concerns.

Clinton said Thursday that ASEAN was right to raise concerns in their Wednesday meeting about the planned polls in bloc member Myanmar.

She said the regime's lack of details or a date for the vote were "raising questions about their commitment to such elections".

"We'll be discussing further ways in which we can co-operate to alter the actions of the government in Burma amd encourage the leaders there to commit to... the betterment of their own people," she added.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

Panel Recommends Japan Allow Entry of U.S. Nuclear Weapons, Asahi Reports
Sachiko Sakamaki
(for personal use only)

A Japanese government panel will propose shifting defense policy to allow the transportation of U.S. nuclear weapons within the country and lift a ban on arms exports, the Asahi newspaper reported today.

The recommendations, in response to threats from North Korea and the rise of Chinese military spending, will be submitted to Prime Minister Naoto Kan next month. The panel recommends boosting Japan’s submarine capabilities as Chinese naval vessels are active in the area, the Asahi said, citing a draft of the proposal.

Kan’s government by December will update national defense guidelines based on the recommendations of the panel, headed by Keihan Electric Railway chief executive Shigetaka Sato. Other recommendations include allowing joint weapons development with other countries besides the U.S., the paper said.

Implementing the proposals would mark a shift away from Japan’s three anti-nuclear principles of never developing, possessing or permitting nuclear weapons on its soil. The principles were adopted after World War II, which ended with the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan has also barred the export of weapons since 1976.

Japan in March confirmed the existence of long-denied Cold War agreements that permitted U.S. nuclear-armed warships to visit the country’s ports. The U.S. provides for Japan’s security under a 1960 bilateral treaty, and almost 50,000 American troops are stationed on Japanese soil.

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US-Russia Nuke Treaty Facing Hurdles in US Senate
Desmond Butler
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

The once smooth path for Senate ratification of a major nuclear arms control agreement with Russia is looking a little dicier.

Conservatives opposing New START, a replacement for a Cold War-era treaty, are trying to make it an issue in November's congressional elections.

While they are unlikely to kill the agreement, they could force Democrats to delay a ratification vote until after the election. That could be damaging to President Barack Obama. A narrow victory after a lengthy, contentious debate could destroy his hopes for achieving more ambitious goals, including further reductions of nuclear weapons and ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty.

"A delayed ratification with a close vote would be a blow to U.S. leadership around the world," said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a foundation that advocates a world free of nuclear weapons. "People would doubt the president's ability to negotiate other agreements."

The administration still hopes to win approval for New START before the Senate begins its summer break in August. To do that would require the support of at least eight Republicans, along with all 57 Democratic and two independent senators to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate.

The administration is expressing confidence, but so far only one Republican senator, Richard Lugar of Indiana, has announced his support.

Administration officials say they could wait until the "lame duck" session that takes place after November's election, but before new lawmakers are sworn in. The White House does not want to postpone a vote until next year because Republicans are expected to pick up seats in the election.

Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the New START agreement in April. It would shrink the limit on strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country, down about a third from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would make changes in the old treaty's procedures that allow both countries to inspect each other's arsenals and verify compliance.

An affiliate of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has taken the lead in opposing the treaty. The Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group, has started a petition drive and may run political advertisements on the issue during the election season. It also is lobbying in the Senate.

Though arms control is hardly a major issue in a campaign season dominated by economic worries, the divisive political environment makes it difficult for Republicans to buck the conservative mainstream and hand Obama a victory that might be considered his top foreign policy achievement.

Tom Daschle, a former Democratic Senate Majority leader, who supports the treaty, says Heritage's influence may explain why so many Republicans have been reticent about taking a stand.

"It is certainly serious enough to silence some Republican senators," he said. He added that he expected enough Republicans eventually would come around for passage.

Heritage won some prominent support when a likely GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, announced opposition to the treaty in a newspaper column this month.

Some Republicans say that U.S. negotiators made too many concessions and that that the treaty does not establish adequate procedures for making sure the two sides abide by its terms. They also fear that Russia could use the treaty to limit U.S. missile defense plans.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and other Republicans are holding out support over another issue, insisting that the administration increase money available to maintain and improve existing nuclear warheads.

The administration appears willing to accommodate Republicans on that issue and has requested a 10 percent increase.

It has rejected criticism of the treaty, however, and has tried to win over Republicans by citing the support of some of the party's foreign policy luminaries, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former President George W. Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.

The administration says that Russia has strong incentives to abide by the treaty because the U.S. arsenal is technologically superior and the costs of maintaining large stockpiles is harder for Russia to bear.

The defeat of the treaty would damage Obama's efforts to repair U.S.-Russian relations and to rally international cooperation on eliminating nuclear weapons.

Administration officials say that Republicans will ultimately come around because rejecting the treaty would leave the two countries dangerously uncertain about each other's arsenals. The authority to conduct inspections expired with the old START treaty last year.

"There is a simple question to ask: What is this and what if we don't have the treaty?" said Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher, the State Department's top arms control official. "I think that the risk of not having this is significant."

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Ground Laid for First Nuclear Reactor
Taylor Luck
The Jordan Times
(for personal use only)

Work is now under way to establish Jordan’s first nuclear reactor following the signing of a $70 million soft loan agreement with South Korea on Monday.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and a South Korean consortium comprising the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute and Daewoo met yesterday to begin preparations for the country’s nuclear research reactor, a 5-megawatt (MW) reactor for teaching and training purposes.

The project officially commenced after the $70 million soft loan agreement was signed yesterday by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Jafar Hassan and South Korean Ambassador to the Kingdom Shin Bong-kil.

The remaining funds for the $130 million nuclear research reactor will be provided by the JAEC, according to an agreement signed in March.

A planning ministry statement quoted Hassan as saying the funding deal is an “extremely important step towards building Jordan’s peaceful nuclear programme”.

“This is the signal of Jordan entering the nuclear age,” JAEC Chairman Khaled Toukan said during a ceremony to launch the project yesterday.

He underlined that the reactor will become the focal point for a national nuclear science and technology centre to educate and train future generations of Jordanian nuclear engineers and scientists.

“This important project will help us in developing the proper infrastructure to effectively implement Jordan’s nuclear energy programme,” Toukan stressed.

The Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR), which is set to be operational by 2015, is to be established at the Jordan University for Science and Technology in Ramtha, 67 kilometres north of Amman.

In addition to representing the first nuclear facility in Jordan, the research reactor marks the first export of South Korean nuclear technology.

According to Ned Xoubi, JAEC commissioner for nuclear fuel cycle and JRTR project director, the nuclear research reactor centre will include radioisotope production and training facilities.

Future expansion of the centre will include a fuel fabrication plant, as well as radioactive waste and cold neutron facilities, he added.

The reactor, which will be upgradeable to 10MW, will facilitate the training of nuclear operators and technicians as well as advanced nuclear research in neutron sciences and the commercial production of radioisotopes.

The research reactor will also allow for practical experience for Jordanians in nuclear energy, reactor physics, radiochemistry and radiation protection, Xoubi said during the inauguration ceremony.

There are currently 284 nuclear research reactors in 56 countries around the world, 64 of which are located on university campuses, according to JAEC figures.

The research reactor is considered a critical component of the Kingdom’s peaceful nuclear power programme, which aims to wean the country off energy imports, which cost 13 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009.

The programme entails the construction of 1,000MW Generation III reactor in a site near Aqaba, with plans for future reactors to support upcoming mega-projects and transform Jordan into an electricity exporter.

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Vietnam Designs Plan Against Nuclear Incidents
VietNamNet Bridge
(for personal use only)

A national plan to cope with nuclear incidents is being designed to confront nuclear incidents occurring in Vietnam and other countries that affect Vietnam, said a senior expert on nuclear energy.

Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute director Vuong Huu Tan said besides the national plan, provinces where have nuclear centers will have their own plans.

According to Tan, Vietnam is about to build over ten nuclear observatory stations along the Vietnam-China border in Lang Son and Quang Ninh provinces. This system can supervise and detect nuclear incidents from neighboring countries.

Related to China’s construction of a nuclear power plant in Guangxi province, around 60 km from Vietnam’s Mong Cai city, Tan said it is normal based on China’s geological conditions. Previously, China invited Vietnam to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of this plant, scheduled on July 30. However, China decided to not organize a big ceremony because of storms and it withdrew the invitation.

According to international conventions, in case nuclear incidents happen, the countries where the incidents occur must inform other countries that can be affected by the incidents.

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China Looks to Build Nuclear Plant in SA as it Seeks Growth in Africa
Zweli Mokgata
Times Live
(for personal use only)

The Chinese government may build a nuclear plant in SA as part of its investment in Africa's energy sector.

In a lecture, organised by the SA National Energy Association, Standard Bank's Thomas Orr said one of China's five major power-generation groups could invest in a nuclear plant in this country.

Orr, an investment banker in the bank's Africa energy office, was presenting a lecture on China's role in the continent's infrastructure drive.

Orr helped Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank, establish a branch in Beijing following the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's acquisition of 20% of Standard Bank in 2008.

About 530 million people in Africa have no access to electricity, according to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Chinese power projects in Africa include:

* A 600MW thermal (coal-fired) plant in Botswana;
* A 560MW gas-fired plant in Ghana;
* A 400MW hydro-electric plant on Ghana's Bui Dam;
* A 300MW hydro-electric project on Ethiopia's Tekeze Dam; and
* A 360MW hydropower project on Lake Kariba in Zambia.

In return, China will be looking for resources, Orr said. Africa supplies almost 40% of China's oil imports and has vast, untapped reserves of copper, iron ore and uranium. These will be vital in continuing to fuel the Asian giant, whose economy has grown by more than 10% annually for the past 30 years, lifting 600 million people there out of poverty.

"There is a national drive to survive and meet the needs of its 1.3 billion population which, 30 years ago, was poorer than Lesotho," Orr said. "There are lessons to be learnt here."

China has installed power capacity of 860GW, compared to 40GW in SA. It is looking to double its energy capacity in the next 10 years, which will mean going out into the world to source oil.

It now imports 52% of its oil and gas requirements.

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