1. Richard Nixon Planned Nuclear Strike on North Korea, July 8, Telegraph, Peter Foster
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The United States drew up plans for a tactical nuclear strike against North Korea in 1969, but quickly stepped back from the brink fearing it would trigger an all-out war, newly declassified documents in Washington have shown.
The planned strike saw US bomber pilots being put on high alert following the North's shooting down of a US spy plane over the Sea of Japan in April 1969, killing all 31 Americans on board.
Documents released by the National Security Archive in Washington detail plans for Operation Freedom Drop which included conventional war and a nuclear attack using bombs 20 times the size of that dropped on Hiroshima.
A memo dated June 1969 to Richard Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, listed "pre-co-ordinated options for the selective use of tactical nuclear weapons against North Korea" to knock out 12 key command centres, airfields and naval bases.
The memo also outlined a more drastic option that would have completely nullified Pyongyang's capacity to retaliate against the US strike.
"An attack with nuclear weapons with a yield of 70 kt [kilotons] each to neutralise the North Korean air order of battle in response to a North Korean air attack on South Korea," the memo said.
"All 16 major North Korean airfields can be struck under this option." The levels of tension at the time of the North Korean downing of the US spy plane were extremely high, according to a former US bomber pilot, Bruce Charles, who told National Public Radio in Washington that he was ordered to make preparations for a nuclear strike.
Hours after the North Korean attack, Mr Charles said he was summoned by his commanding officer. "When I got to see the colonel, it was very simple. He described the shooting down of the EC-121 about a hundred miles at sea. And that he had a message, which he showed me at that time, saying to prepare to strike my target," Mr Charles told NPR.
However after several hours of waiting, the order was given to stand down. "The order to stand down was just about dusk, and it was not a certainty. The colonel said, 'It looks like from the messages I'm getting, we will not do this today. I do not know about tomorrow,'" Mr Charles recalled.
Despite the memos showing that Washington considered using extreme force against North Korea, historians say that it was actually quickly apparent that Nixon and Kissinger had backed away from the military option.
Two days after the US plane was shot down President Nixon held a press conference in which appeared to be moving away from military retaliation, drawing widespread acclaim for his show of restraint.
Robert Wampler, a historian who works for the National Security Archive and posted 16 of the key documents online, said that it was clear from reading the file of more than 1,700 papers that the US military high command were unconvinced of the wisdom of going to war.
"The military produced the options, ratcheting up the level of military force all the way to all-out war and to using nuclear weapons," he told NPR, "But constantly you find the military saying, 'But the risks probably still outweigh the potential gains,'."
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/7878422/Richard-Nixon-planned-nuclearike-on-North-Korea.html
North Korea warned Wednesday of a "do-or-die" battle if the UN Security Council adopts statement condemning it for a deadly attack on a South Korean warship earlier this year.
If the council adopts a document "pulling up (North Korea) even a bit through sordid collusion and nexus," the North will regard this as "an intolerable and grave infringement" on its dignity, a state committee said.
The North's army and people "will not rule out a just, do-or-die battle to protect the sovereignty of the country," the Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by state media.
South Korea, pointing to the findings of a multinational investigation, has accused its communist neighbour of torpedoing the 1,200-tonne corvette with the loss of 46 sailors near the disputed Yellow Sea border on March 26.
The South has announced its own reprisals, including cutting off most trade, with strong US support. It has also asked the 15-member Security Council to condemn its neighbour.
Unlike many other nations, China and Russia, two of the council's five permanent members, have not publicly accused Pyongyang of being behind the sinking.
The North has denied any involvement in sinking the corvette and has previously threatened a military response to any UN censure.
The nuclear-armed state said last week it would bolster its nuclear weaponry with an unspecified new method in response to what it called US hostility.
Last September Pyongyang announced it had reached the final stage of enriching uranium, a second way of making nuclear bombs in addition to the country's plutonium-based operation.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hxAtmro55uX4txGC56op2jpAMvbA
1. U.S. Ready to Cooperate With Israel on Civilian Nuclear Use, Steinitz Says
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The U.S. is willing to cooperate with Israel on civilian nuclear technology, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said, calling it a major achievement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Washington visit.
“This is a breakthrough,” Steinitz said at a conference in Tel Aviv. “It includes a clear recognition of Israel as very, very responsible and reliable with regard to nuclear technologies.”
Steinitz did not give further details of U.S. support, which came six weeks after President Barack Obama backed a United Nations resolution that called for a 2012 conference on a nuclear-free Middle East and said Israel should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel hasn’t confirmed or denied it has nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration’s approval of the language used in the May 28 UN declaration had created “a lot of concern in Israel,” said Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University outside Tel Aviv.
Agreement to hold the 2012 meeting enabled the U.S. to address a demand of Arab nations as President Barack Obama pressures Iran to halt its nuclear program. Arab states have said Israel has a nuclear arsenal that must be part of the discussion.
Steinitz also said that U.S. support for Israel’s proposal to upgrade the current indirect peace talks with Palestinians to direct negotiations was another achievement of Netanyahu’s visit. The Israeli premier said in Washington that he’s willing to negotiate the future of West Bank settlements “right away” if Palestinians agree to meet in face-to-face talks.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-08/u-s-ready-to-cooperate-with-israel-on-civilian-nuclear-use-steinitz-says.html
2. Jordan, Germany Discuss Nuclear Safety and Control
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Officials from the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission, JNRC discussed with a German nuclear delegation ways to bolster cooperation between the two countries in nuclear safety and control.
JNRC Chairman Jamal Sharaf briefed officials form the German Reactor Safety Authority (GRS) on the commission's role in nuclear monitoring and control and steps taken to prepare infrastructure and legislation regulating nuclear work in the Kingdom.
Sharaf also spoke about the JNRC's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in nuclear safety, particularly combating the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.
The German team pledged to provide the commission with expertise and laboratory equipment needed to combat trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials.
The two sides agreed to organize a visit for a JNRC team to Germany to take a first-hand look at the European nation's expertise in nuclear safety and control.
Available at: http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=8822
Representatives of the nuclear power industry and of states seeking to unload their nuclear waste praised the legal arm of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for halting an Obama administration effort to bring the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project to an end.
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected the administration’s effort to withdraw an application for licensing of the dump that had been submitted by the Bush administration in June 2008. The board members said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu already has the authority to withdraw the application. However, Chu withdrawing it would not kill the project. The Energy Department was seeking to have the application withdrawn “with prejudice,” which meant it could not be re-filed, conceivably killing the project.
State officials in various states with nuclear power plants praised the decision to keep the application active. Idaho and Washington, which have dumps of their own, also praised the decision because they want the content of their dumps moved into a Nevada dump.
The panel used an argument from Vietnam—“We can’t pull out now because we’ve invested so much already”—in making its decision.
“The [NRC] has variously described the adjudicatory portion of the proceeding on the application of the Department of Energy (DOE) for authorization to construct a national high level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as ‘unusual,’ ‘extensive,’ and ‘unique.’ Ensuring that these labels remain current and valid, we now have before us DOE’s motion to withdraw with prejudice its 17-volume, 8600-page construction authorization application … an application submitted just a little over 24 months ago, but over two decades in the making and undergirded by millions of pages of studies, reports, and related materials at a reported cost of over 10 billion dollars.”
The interest of the nuclear power industry and other states in the Yucca dump was demonstrated by their interest in the proceedings.
“Conceding that the Application is not flawed nor the site unsafe, the Secretary of Energy seeks to withdraw the Application with prejudice as a ‘matter of policy’ because the Nevada site ‘is not a workable option.’ In response to the Secretary’s action, we also have before us five new petitions to intervene in the ongoing proceeding filed by the State of Washington (Washington), the State of South Carolina (South Carolina), Aiken County, South Carolina (Aiken County), the Prairie Island Indian Community (PIIC), and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), as well as the amicus curiae filing of the Florida Public Service Commission. In addition to DOE and the NRC Staff, which are regulatorily designated parties, there are currently ten admitted parties and two interested governmental participants in the ongoing high-level waste (HLW) proceeding.”
Available at: http://www.newsreview.com/reno/content?oid=1450524
Britain's nuclear watchdog has revealed plans for dealing with an increased amount of radio-active waste generated in the country.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA) solution to radioactive waste is to dump it deep underground in a £4 billion specially designed facility.
The plans is put forward in the NDA's latest 'Geological Disposal: Steps towards implementation' published today (July 7)
Only two sites in Cumbria have so far come forward to express an interest in having the site constructed on their land, but the Government will make the final decision on its location.
While that is decided scientists and engineers within the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD), part of the NDA, are considering all of the issues created by increased nuclear waste.
The RWMD's managing director, Bruce McKirdy, said: "We are sometime away from construction and operation of a geological disposal facility, but our work also supports the Government's site selection process.
"This allows us to provide as much information as possible to those communities who are interested in potentially hosting a facility."
If the facility was given the go-ahead it could be operational by 2040 and would remain it used until it was filled with radioactive waste.
Mr McKirdy added: "We realise our plans are at the very early stage of this programme and that implementation is dependant on the successful working in partnership with potential host communities and with UK Government."
Available at: http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=18367
3. Australian PM Will Not Change Plans on Nuclear Waste Dump
Xinhua News Agency
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday said the federal government's position on building a nuclear waste facility in the Northern Territory remained unchanged.
Before the 2007 election, Labor Party promised to throw out the previous Howard government's plans to build a receptacle for low and medium-level radioactive waste at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.
Traditional owners from Muckaty Station have signed a deal with the Commonwealth offering their land for a nuclear waste dump.
According to Australian Associated Press, indigenous rights and anti-nuclear campaigners had hoped the unpopular nuclear waste plan, which was set to be challenged in the federal court this month, would be halted under Labor's new leadership.
During a visit to state Darwin on Wednesday, Julia Gillard said the arrangements made under former prime minister Kevin Rudd's leadership will remain in place.
"We need, as a nation, to solve the problem of where we will store low and medium-level waste ... generated in processes valuable to the whole community like nuclear medicine," Gillard said.
"There is a further process to go through in relation to Muckaty and we will go through that process."
Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) spokesman Dave Sweeney said it was a disappointing decision.
"New leadership is a good time to review bad decisions, and Muckaty is a very bad decision," Sweeney told Australian Associated Press.
"We do have the responsibility to store our national radioactive waste effectively and responsibly, but we can't do that in a manner that's inconsistent with international standards and practice."
ACF last week launched its "Dump the Dump" campaign, raising money to campaign against the Muckaty proposal in the lead-up to the federal election.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-07/07/c_13388393.htm
1. Combating Nuclear Smuggling Falls Short, According to Report
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In April 2005, a Presidential Directive established the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within the Department of Homeland Security to enhance and coordinate federal, state, and local efforts to combat nuclear smuggling abroad and domestically.
The DNDO was directed to develop, in coordination with the departments of Defense, Energy, and State, an enhanced global nuclear detection system of radiation detection equipment and interdiction activities. (DNDO refers to this system as an architecture.) DNDO is to implement the domestic portion of the architecture.
Federal efforts to combat nuclear smuggling have largely focused on established ports of entry, such as seaports and land border crossings, and DNDO has also been examining nuclear detection strategies along other pathways.
Over the past 7 years, the Government Accountability Office has issued numerous recommendations on nuclear or radiological detection to the Secretary of Homeland Security, most recently in January 2009.
DHS has made significant progress in both deploying radiation detection equipment and developing procedures to scan cargo and conveyances entering the United States through fixed land and sea ports of entry for nuclear and radiological materials since GAO's 2006 report.
While DHS reports it scans nearly 100 percent of the cargo and conveyances entering the United States through land borders and major seaports, it has made less progress scanning for radiation in railcars entering the United States from Canada and Mexico; in international air cargo; and for international commercial aviation aircraft, passengers, or baggage.
DHS efforts to prevent the smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials into the United States through gaps DNDO identified in developing the nuclear detection architecture remain largely developmental since GAO's 2009 report. The gaps DHS identified include land border areas between ports of entry into the United States, international general aviation, and small maritime craft such as recreational boats and commercial fishing vessels.
These gaps are important because of their size, volume of traffic, and the difficulty of deploying available radiological and nuclear detection technologies. DHS's actions to address these gaps consist primarily of efforts to develop, test, and deploy radiation detection equipment; conduct studies or analyses to identify and address particular threats or gaps; develop new procedures to guide scanning for radiation; and develop and learn from pilot programs.
DHS does not yet have a strategic plan for the global nuclear detection architecture, but DHS officials said they began working on a plan earlier this year and expect to complete it by fall 2010 -- 2 years after GAO last recommended this to DNDO -- and more than 7 years after analysts first identified the need for a comprehensive plan in October 2002.
The lack of a strategic plan has limited DHS's efforts to complete such an architecture, because although each agency with a role in combating nuclear smuggling has its own planning documents, without an overarching strategic plan, it is difficult to address the gaps and move to a more comprehensive global nuclear detection strategy.
DNDO's 4-year effort to develop an advanced radiation detection monitor is an example of the consequences of not having a strategic plan and not reaching consensus on such a plan with other federal agencies. In GAO's view, the proposed deployment of this monitor distracted DNDO from its mission to fully deploy the architecture and close the gaps it identified.
Also, in 2006 GAO recommended that the decision to deploy this monitor be based on an analysis of both benefits and costs -- which GAO later estimated at over $2 billion -- and a determination of whether any additional detection capability provided by the monitor was worth its additional cost. DNDO proceeded with advanced spectroscopic portal (ASP) testing without fully completing such an analysis.
Further, DNDO focused this monitor deployment effort on replacing components of the architecture where a radiation detection system was already in place--at established ports of entry -- and shifting its focus away from closing the gaps it identified in the architecture.
Available at: http://www.examiner.com/x-2684-Law-Enforcement-Examiner~y2010m7d7-Combating-nuclear-smuggling-falls-short-according-to-report
2. Nuclear Weapons Program Chief Pledges Better Governance
Katherine McIntire Peters
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After just one week on the job, Donald Cook, the new deputy administrator for defense programs at the Energy Department's quasi-independent National Nuclear Security Administration, said he believes agency operations can be improved and is embracing Energy Secretary Steven Chu's call for departmentwide governance reform.
"We're looking at policies, we're looking at procedures and at operations. And at the same time we're looking to hear views from the field on what it is that gets in the way of our desire to have operations that are clear, safe, secure, productive and meet the need," Cook said during a telephone briefing with reporters on Wednesday.
NNSA is responsible for the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile through government-owned, contractor-operated facilities at eight nuclear sites that support weapons activities.
"The intent of governance reform is to get the best out of the [management and operations] contractors and from across American industry that we can for the operation of the sites," Cook said. An engineer and scientist, Cook worked for 28 years at Sandia National Laboratories before becoming the executive director and chief executive officer at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the United Kingdom, a government-owned, contractor-operated enterprise that supports the Ministry of Defense. He was confirmed by the Senate and assumed his new position at NNSA on June 30.
NNSA has long been troubled by management shortfalls at its nuclear weapons sites. Last month the Government Accountability Office took the agency to task for its inability to reliably estimate the costs of operations and maintenance at weapons facilities. The issue is critical as Congress weighs the Obama administration's request for an additional $4.25 billion in funding for NNSA's nuclear weapons program between 2011 and 2015.
According to GAO's report, NNSA's problems stem partly from the fact the weapons sites use different cost accounting practices.
"Total costs to operate and maintain weapons activities facilities and infrastructure likely significantly exceed the amount NNSA justified to Congress in the president's weapons activities budget request," GAO found. For example, in 2009 Congress directed about $559 million for the Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities program at six sites, but the estimated expenditure for the work scope drawn from all funding sources was actually $1.1 billion at the sites.
While NNSA is implementing procedures that will lead to better cost information, the agency has chronically underestimated the costs of major facilities projects, among them a new chemistry and metallurgy research replacement facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a uranium processing facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The facilities are 50 to 60 years old and need to be replaced, Cook said. A major problem is NNSA has provided cost estimates to Congress that were premature, and thus incomplete.
"The key issue here is to not quote a cost too early," Cook said. "Engineering practice says you quote a cost which is appropriate to the level of design information that you actually know that you know."
In Cook's view, reliable estimates cannot be provided until the engineering design is 90 percent complete. "In the past, there hasn't been a formal time -- rarely was it less than 60 percent and occasionally it was more than 70 percent. But at the 90 percent point is the time at which we can commit to a cost estimate, including a cost range," he said, which he believes will not occur before early 2012.
Cook said he understands members of Congress are uneasy with such uncertainty, but providing a cost estimate that will surely turn out to be incorrect will not help, he added.
Available at: http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=45638&oref=todaysnews
1. Iran Admits Sanctions 'May Slow Down' Nuclear Work
Jay Deshmukh and Farhad Pouladi
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Iran acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that newly imposed sanctions "may slow down" its nuclear drive, including its sensitive uranium enrichment work, but said it will not halt it.
The comments by the head of Iran's atomic energy, Ali Akbar Salehi, were the first admission by a senior official of the impact of new UN sanctions imposed on June 9.
"One can't say sanctions are ineffective," Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Salehi as telling a press conference in the southern port city of Bushehr.
"If sanctions are aimed at preventing Iran's nuclear activities ... we say they may slow down the work, but will not stop the activities. This is a certainty."
Previously senior officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had been defiant in their dismissal of the new sanctions.
Speaking soon after the UN Security Council adopted the new measures, Ahmadinejad said they were like a "used hanky which should be thrown in the dustbin."
Salehi, who is one of several vice presidents, said the sanctions would not affect a nuclear power station nearing completion in Bushehr, which he visited on Wednesday.
But he said there could be some impact on Iran's uranium enrichment programme as it would now be more difficult to procure some equipment.
"The Bushehr site is not (affected) by the sanctions and Russian officials have repeatedly maintained that the sanctions are not targeting Bushehr," he said after inspecting the Russian-built plant, which he said would open in September.
"But on the issue of enrichment, we may face problems with some equipment such as measuring instruments," he said.
He added: "If we face a problem over this equipment, we will manufacture it."
Talks with the major powers on a plan drafted by the UN nuclear watchdog last October for the supply of fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor in return for Iran's shipping most of its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium abroad failed to bear fruit.
A fresh proposal brokered by Brazil and Turkey before the adoption of the new UN sanctions has been cold-shouldered by the West.
Salehi said Iran was "ready to negotiate" with the major powers over the fuel supply plan but he insisted that the talks should be on the basis of the proposal agreed with Brazil and Turkey.
He said the Tehran reactor was currently being run so as to ensure that the existing fuel "will suffice until September next year."
On Tuesday, Iran set this September 1 as a possible date for the resumption of talks with the major powers, provided they are genuine.
Its top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying the powers must first clarify whether the talks were aimed at "engagement and cooperation or continued confrontation and hostility towards Iranians."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters: "If Iran is serious about talking to the P5-plus-one (the major powers), then I think we're willing to meet.
"Obviously we'd have to evaluate the Iranian offer," Toner added.
Ashton's office said the world powers and the EU were "analysing" the content of the letter to provide a quick response.
A European diplomat said the letter was "more positive" than previous missives.
But President Barack Obama vowed the United States would keep up the pressure as he received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday.
"We intend to put pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behaviour that have made it a threat to its neighbours and the international community," Obama said.
Since the UN measures were adopted, both the United States and the European Union have slapped additional sanctions on Iran unilaterally.
Western governments suspect Iran's nuclear programme is cover for a weapons drive, something Tehran has repeatedly denied, insisting it is aimed solely at power generation and medical research.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i0_-dK7OSBB8MjMdnWb3Hrswn20w
2. Iran to Launch Nuclear Power Plant in September: Atomic Chief
Xinhua News Agency
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Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali-Akbar Salehi said Wednesday that the Bushehr nuclear power plant is to become operational in the Iranian month of Shahrivar (August 23 to September 22), the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Today, the last test of the nuclear plant before its commissioning was carried out successfully," he was quoted as saying before managers and staff of the Bushehr nuclear power plant on Wednesday.
"We have completed one of the most important phases dubbed hot test, which is the final test before launch of the plant," he said according to local ISNA news agency.
ISNA quoted him as saying that "37-year waiting for launch of the plant ends."
Last week, Salehi said "we are satisfied with cooperating with Russians and now 3,000 experts from the country (Russia) are working in the plant," he was quoted as saying.
Earlier in May, Head of Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom Sergei Kiriyenko said that the nuclear power plant in the Iranian southern city of Bushehr would be launched by August.
The country's 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant was originally constructed in the mid-1970s by Siemens of Germany, but was abandoned with the outbreak of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran and Russia, after reaching an agreement on nuclear cooperation in 1992, signed a contract in January, 1995 to finish the construction of the plant, the completion of which has been repeatedly delayed.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-07/07/c_13388575.htm
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