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Nuclear News - 8/31/2010
PGS Nuclear News, August 31, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant: Political Maneuver of Russia, Xinhua News Agency (8/30/2010)
    2. Larijani: Iran Ready for Nuclear Talks, PressTV (8/29/2010)
    3. Iran Will Make Final Decision on Talks, PressTV (8/29/2010)
    4. Iran Says Talks With U.S. Should Be Under "Equal Conditions", Xinhua News Agency (8/29/2010)
    5. Korea’s Iran Sanctions May End Up at 'Symbolic' Level, Tehran Times  (8/29/2010)
    6. Iran Has Material for 1-2 Atom Bombs--Ex-IAEA Aide, Reuters (8/26/2010)
    1. Seoul Won't Insist on Cheonan Apology Before 6-Party Talks, The Chosun Ilbo (8/30/2010)
    2. U.S. to Unveil Fresh Sanctions on North Korea, The Korea Herald (8/29/2010)
    3. Carter Leaves North Korea with Freed American, Nuke Pledge, Lim Chang-won, The Sydney Morning Herald (8/27/2010)
    4. DPRK to Use Nuclear Deterrent if Attacked: Diplomat, Xinhua News Agency (8/27/2010)
C.  Nonproliferation
    1. US, Others Urged to Ratify Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Khaleej Times (8/27/2010)
    2. Moldova to Send Seized Uranium to Germany: Police, AFP (8/26/2010)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Cambodia Denies Media's Report on Nuclear Power Plant, Xinhua News Agency (8/30/2010)
    2. Merkel Says Extending German Nuclear Power by Up to 15 Years Is `Sensible', Tony Czuczka, Bloomberg (8/29/2010)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. EU to Help Iraq Dismantle Old Nuclear Facilities, Aseel Kami, Reuters (8/29/2010)
    2. China Seeks Fresh Nuclear Talks with North Korea, Reuters (8/28/2010)
    3. Anti-Nuclear Testing Conference Looks at Semipalatinsk Legacy, Central Asia Newswire (8/26/2010)
    4. Green Light for Green Energy - Egypt Building Nuclear Station, Global Arab Network (8/26/2010)

A.  Iran

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant: Political Maneuver of Russia
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

With the help of Russian experts, fuel loading into Iran's first nuclear power plant, which started on Aug. 21, is set to finish in a week, after which the Bushehr nuclear power plant will become operational.

The construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant was started in 1975 by German companies, but was halted after the United States imposed embargo on hi-tech supplies to Iran following the country' s 1979 revolution. Russia signed a contract with Tehran in 1995 to complete the construction, after which the project was delayed again due to the lack of funding and other political reasons.

Before the fuel loading began, the western countries led by the U.S. had demanded Russia postpone fuel injection into the Bushehr nuclear power plant until Iran could prove it had no intention of developing nuclear weapons.

However, Russia replied the Bushehr plant project is a necessity to persuade the Islamic Republic to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and implement its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

National interests were behind Russia's risking angering the U. S. to help push ahead the Bushehr nuclear power plant after long- time delay.

Unwilling to ruin its relations with either side, Russia wants to strike a balance between its relations with Iran and the West. In order to maintain the cooperation with the western countries, Russia voted in favor of the UN security council resolution 1929, adopted on June 9, imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran, which irritated the Islamic Republic and caused strong reactions from the Iranians.

The angry response rattled Russia, who also wants to have relatively good relationships with Iran, a key player in the Mideast issues and the world economy. The famous Persian Gulf and Hormuz strait are of great significance to global oil supply. About 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil shipments passed the Hormuz strait everyday.

Iran is also an obstacle to U.S. expansion in the Middle East. It can be made use of by Russia to bargain with the U.S. when discussing other important international issues.

Observers say Russia is very clear about Iran's significance to it. Out of its own interests, Russia would love to take flexible actions concerning Iran's controversial nuclear program and maintain the bilateral relations instead of leaving Iran alone.

Therefore, Russia hopes to take Bushehr nuclear power plant as a political maneuver to show its kindness to Iran to make the latter think the Russians are taking the Iranians' side. That can explain why Russia expressed its opposition immediately after the U.S. and EU imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, and all of a sudden began to push ahead with the Bushehr nuclear power plant which had been delayed for many times.

When attending the fuel loading ceremony of the Bushehr power plant, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, said the plant was a great and unique international project implemented by Russia, noting his country had fulfilled its commitments to the Bushehr power plant.

"Bushehr power plant operates under IAEA supervision and any country which performs under the supervision of IAEA has the right to peaceful nuclear energy," said Kiriyenko.

His comments showed Russia is lending Iran a hand amid tough sanctions imposed, and signified Russia is not opposed to Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy, which can gain Iran's gratitude to Russia.

Russia now is also actively engaged in mediating the deadlocked crisis over Iran's nuclear issue. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Aug. 20 urged to hold a meeting soon to discuss a fuel replacement scheme for Iran's research reactor, adding Russia would like to invite officials from Turkey and Brazil to participate. The two countries signed the Teheran Declaration with Iran on May 17, according to which Iran will ship most of its low- enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for the 20 percent uranium fuel needed for its reactor.

What Russia wants is to please Iran and win hearts and minds of the Iranians, thus having an upper hand in dealing with Iran's nuclear issue and forcing the West, especially the U.S., to make concessions to Russia over other key international issues.

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Iran Says Talks With U.S. Should Be Under "Equal Conditions"
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday Iran will enter talks with the United States only under "equal and respectful conditions," local English language satellite Press TV reported.

Mehmanparast said that the United States urges for restoring relations with Iran but it needs to prove that it will never keep hostilities with Iranians.

"If the U.S. seriously seeks to revive relations with Iran, it should make changes in its attitude. Washington should prove that it will never repeat previous mistakes and will not pursue hostile policies towards the Iranian nation," Mehmanparast was quoted as saying.

"The U.S. officials should accept that rights of nations must be respected," he said.

Referring to the U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran and the threats that U.S. officials have directed toward the Islamic Republic, he said that "such conduct will not work toward a country like Iran."

"Under such circumstances, the talk of negotiating with Iran will be completely meaningless and reflect a contradiction in U.S. policies," said Mehmanparast.

Following UN Security Council's sanctions against Tehran over its sensitive nuclear program, U.S. President Barack Obama in July signed a new Iran sanction bill into law, which is described by him as "striking at the heart" of Iranian government's nuclear ability.

In August, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said that the United States has a plan in place to attack Iran, if it is necessary.

Iranian officials have rejected the possibility of a U.S. attack on the country over its controversial nuclear program and called the claims as a psychological war.

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Iran Will Make Final Decision on Talks
(for personal use only)

A senior Iranian lawmaker says Tehran will make the final decision about the West's call for holding negotiations with the Islamic Republic on its nuclear program.

"The West has called for holing talks with Tehran and the Iranian officials will make the decision about the issue," spokesman for the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran's Parliament (Majlis) Kazem Jalali said on Sunday.

He stressed that talks would definitely be constructive should be fair and purposeful and protect Iran's nuclear rights, Mehr News Agency reported.

Jalali said that after the UN Security Council imposed the fourth round of sanctions resolution against Iran in June, member states of P5+1 - Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany - raised the issue of holding talks with Iran.

"They are still calling for negotiations with Iran," he added.

Jalali noted that an Iranian parliamentary delegation has invited a European delegation to visit Iran in the near future and hold talks with senior Iranian officials.

The lawmaker expressed hope the visit would portray the real image of the Islamic Republic and clear misunderstandings.

The remarks came after Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said earlier in the day Tehran has never refused nuclear talks with the West.

"Iran had earlier raised the issue of negotiations on the nuclear case within the framework of P5+1 or the Vienna group," Larijani said.

The Untied States and its Western allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, pressuring Tehran into abandoning its uranium enrichment program.

Iran has rejected the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is entitled to continue its enrichment program under the full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Korea’s Iran Sanctions May End Up at 'Symbolic' Level
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

Korea will follow the U.S. lead and impose sanctions on Iran but their severity, regarding a branch of an Iranian bank in Seoul, will likely end up as symbolic rather than substantive, officials here said Friday.

A Seoul delegation is now in Washington to fine-tune the level of punitive measures. A separate delegation will visit Tehran.

The officials said that Korea is not in a position to go as hard as the U.S. wants on Iran because of its close trade ties with the Middle Eastern country, among other factors.

“What we will do with Iran will be the level of a ‘gesture,”’ an official told The Korea Times. The word, used in everyday conversation in Korea, oftentimes means a move with no heart or a step taken to just placate a counterpart.

“We will try to make room for further talks via direct and indirect channels,” he said.

The remarks come at a time when firms doing business in the Middle East are demanding the government help them survive the U.S.-led sanctions. Some of them have already lost big contracts as a result of the aggravated relationship with Iran.

“Companies are complaining that the government should let them carry on their businesses with Iran as long as the deals are not related to nuclear weapons,” said Kim Yong-suk, chief of the Middle East team at KOTRA, the state trading assistant agency. He estimates some 2,000 Korean firms will be affected by the international sanctions.

At the center of the controversy is Bank Mellat, an Iranian state bank that has its only East Asia branch in Seoul, which has been under an audit by financial regulators. An official of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said evidence of wrongdoing found was not as strong enough to justify severe punishment, such as the closure of the branch.

“Not all, but many of Korean exporters to Iran have used Bank Mellat for receiving payment,” Kim of KOTRA said. “Small firms are more vulnerable because they do not have financial firewalls like big firms do.”

On Wednesday, the government announced a financial rescue plan for companies that may be adversely affected by sanctions on Iran. Under the plan, the government will provide small firms with 18-month rollovers on maturing loans, and offer new loans of up to 500 million won for three years at low rates.

An official at the financial regulating body said the rescue plan should be seen as a gesture of goodwill to Iran.

“Its message is that the Korean government is helping firms doing business with Iran, which are struggling not because of Korea’s own sanctions but because of sanctions imposed by other countries,” he said.

Iran is Korea’s 15th largest trading partner, and the volume of exports and imports increased significantly in the first half of this year. Direct trading between the two countries amounted to some $10 billion last year.

Korean cars, electronics, TV dramas and taekwondo are popular in Iran, while Iran supplies about 10 percent of Korea’s crude oil demands.

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Larijani: Iran Ready for Nuclear Talks
(for personal use only)

As the US expresses optimism about future talks on Iran's nuclear program, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says Tehran has never refused nuclear talks.

US State Department spokesman P J Crowley on Thursday said the United States is hopeful that talks between Iran and P5+1 - Russia, China, France, Britain and the US as well as Germany -- and with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tehran's nuclear issue will be held in the next few weeks.

"We are hopeful that the constructive meetings, both at the IAEA and with the P5+1, can be set up in the next few weeks," Crowley said.

He added that there are discussions ongoing between Iran, IAEA and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton.

The Iranian Parliament speaker reacted to the remarks, saying, "We have never declined negotiations and at certain juncture they left the negotiations table."

"Iran had earlier raised the issue of negotiations on the nuclear case within the framework of 5+1 or the Vienna group," ISNA quoted Larijani as saying on Sunday.

"Nothing new has happened and Iran raised no new issue," he added.

The upcoming round of nuclear negotiations between Iran, the Vienna group, and the P5+1 will open in mid-September in an unprecedented climate of trust.

But aside from focusing on the nuclear standoff, the talks are certain to open a new chapter in Iran-EU relations.

The Vienna group, comprising the US, Russia, France and the IAEA, has in recent months declared its readiness to resume nuclear discussions with Tehran.

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Iran Has Material for 1-2 Atom Bombs--Ex-IAEA Aide
(for personal use only)

Iran has stockpiled enough low-enriched uranium for 1-2 nuclear arms but it would not make sense for it to cross the bomb-making threshold with only this amount, a former top U.N. nuclear official was quoted as saying.

In unusual public remarks about Iran's disputed nuclear programme Olli Heinonen, the former chief of U.N. nuclear inspections worldwide, told Le Monde newspaper that Iran's uranium reserve still represented a "threat."

Until he stepped down earlier this month for personal reasons, Heinonen was deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and head of its nuclear safeguards department, which verifies that countries' nuclear programmes are not being diverted for military use.

A no-nonsense Finn, he was one of the U.N. agency's leading experts on Iran, which denies Western suspicions that its nuclear programme is aimed at making bombs despite intelligence indications to the contrary, which he investigated for years.

In the interview published on Thursday, Heinonen said the Islamic Republic now possessed three tonnes of low-enriched uranium, material which can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, or form the core of a bomb if refined much further.

"In theory, it is enough to make one or two nuclear arms. But to reach the final step, when one only has just enough material for two weapons, does not make sense," Heinonen said in the interview carried out just before he left office.

In comments translated from English to French, he suggested this was not sufficient to constitute a serious bargaining chip in any negotiations with the United States, the Islamic Republic's old adversary.

"But this constitutes a ... threat," he said, apparently referring to Iran's LEU stockpile.

Heinonen said the United States estimated that Iran would need a year to convert its low-enriched uranium to higher-grade material, adding that this was a not a "bad estimate."

Top Pentagon officials told the U.S. Congress in April that Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon in as little as a year -- but would probably need three to five years to assemble, test and deploy it.

World powers hope that new U.N., U.S. and European sanctions imposed on Iran since June will persuade it to enter negotiations on its nuclear programme which the West hopes will lead to a suspension of all uranium enrichment activity.

Iran, which says its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its gas and oil, has repeatly ruled out halting enrichment, while keeping the door open for talks.

Heinonen is probably best known for giving a closed-door presentation to diplomats on Iran in 2008 which indicated links between projects to process uranium, test explosives and modify a missile cone in a way suitable for a nuclear warhead.

His department's five-year investigation based on Western intelligence funnelled to the agency helped harden IAEA concerns that Iran might have worked to develop a nuclear-armed missile and was still doing so.

Tehran says the intelligence is forged and that its atomic work is solely for peaceful purposes.

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Seoul Won't Insist on Cheonan Apology Before 6-Party Talks
The Chosun Ilbo
(for personal use only)

The government has suggested to China that the resumption of six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear program could proceed alongside discussions about the North's sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan, it emerged Friday.

Seoul had so far dug in its heels over the resumption of the talks unless the North apologized for the attack.

But some government officials expressed worries that Seoul could not stall the six-party talks indefinitely if Pyongyang and Beijing agree to give priority to them.

Foreign Ministry officials last Friday briefed Wu Dawei, the visiting Chinese chief nuclear negotiator, on Seoul's new position.

"Realistically, there is zero possibility of the North admitting its involvement in the Cheonan sinking and apologizing for it," a government official said. "But at the same time we can't just let it pass, which is what the North wants."

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U.S. to Unveil Fresh Sanctions on North Korea
The Korea Herald
(for personal use only)

The U.S. is expected to announce fresh sanctions on North Korea early this week with the aim of drying up cash sources for the communist regime in funding its nuclear weapons programs, a diplomatic source here said Saturday.

The U.S. has been putting its final touch on fresh financial sanctions targeting North Korea to punish Pyongyang for the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March and to force the regime to give up its nuclear weapons programs.

“The U.S. administration plans to announce a list of those subject to the fresh sanctions early next week,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

The list would include North Korean entities and people who have secured foreign currencies by selling conventional weapons overseas and buying luxury goods for the North‘s elite, the source said.

The U.S. has collected evidence that nine North Korean financial institutions operating overseas and at least two trading firms have been used for the regime’s illicit activities, such as trade in conventional arms, luxury goods and counterfeit money, the source said.

The U.S. is expected to add some 20 North Korean entities and individuals to its blacklist, which will face the fresh sanctions that include having assets frozen in the U.S. and being banned from dealing with American financial institutions, according to the source.

A U.S. paper, meanwhile, reported that Washington has begun weighing a fresh effort at engagement with the government of North Korea.

Citing unnamed officials and analysts, the New York Times said a new overture to Pyongyang would be preceded by additional pressure tactics.

But it suggests that the administration of President Barack Obama has concluded that pressure alone will not be enough to move North Korea‘s dictator, Kim Jong-il.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton solicited ideas from outside experts and former officials about the next steps in policy toward North Korea at a high-level meeting last week, the report said.

The consensus, even among the hawks, was that the U.S. needed to resume some form of contact with Kim, the paper said.

Clinton expressed impatience with the current policy, which is based on ever more stringent economic sanctions and joint U.S.-South Korean naval exercises, which have been launched in response to the sinking in March of a South Korean warship, for which South Korea blamed the North, The Times said.

Among those advocating a fresh overture to Pyongyang is Stephen Bosworth, the special envoy for North Korea, the report said.

He visited Pyongyang in December to explore the prospect of talks, but the Obama administration could not decide whether to schedule a follow-up meeting, The paper noted.

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Carter Leaves North Korea with Freed American, Nuke Pledge
Lim Chang-won
The Sydney Morning Herald
(for personal use only)

Former US president Jimmy Carter flew out of North Korea Friday after securing the release of an American citizen and a pledge from Pyongyang that it wants to resume nuclear disarmament talks.

The Nobel peace laureate left the reclusive communist state with Aijalon Mahli Gomes, an African-American who was jailed for illegally crossing into the North from China.

"At the request of president Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr Gomes was granted amnesty" by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, said a Carter Center statement.

Gomes, 30, was first detained in January and sentenced in April to eight years of hard labour and a fine of about 600,000 US dollars.

The US State Department welcomed his release, while stressing anew that Washington played no official role in Carter's mercy mission.

"We appreciate former president Carter's humanitarian effort and welcome North Korea's decision to grant Mr Gomes special amnesty and allow him to return to the United States," department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

Television pictures showed Carter escorting Gomes, dressed in casual trousers and a white polo shirt, up the steps of a private jet with North Korean officials on the tarmac.

"The measure taken by (North Korea) to set free the illegal entrant is a manifestation of its humanitarianism and peace-loving policy," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

KCNA also said Pyongyang had expressed its willingness through Carter to resume six-party talks which have been on ice since April last year.

The North has made similar declarations before but attached onerous conditions to any resumption of talks that have been ruled out by Seoul and Washington.

Pyongyang insists that UN sanctions are lifted and Washington agrees to talks on a peace treaty. In May, Kim told Chinese President Hu Jintao that he was ready to return to the nuclear talks.

The latest offer came just after Chinese nuclear envoy Wu Dawei visited Pyongyang last week, and while Kim Jong-Il is reportedly on a trip to China, the North's sole diplomatic and economic patron.

The North's number two leader Kim Yong-Nam, who met Carter Wednesday, expressed a willingness for the resumption of the six-party talks and the denuclearisation of the peninsula, KCNA said.

It said Carter had an "open-hearted" discussion with North Korean officials on relations between the two countries, the nuclear dossier and other "issues of mutual concern".

The North quit the nuclear talks, also involving South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, in April 2009 in protest at UN condemnation of an apparent missile test.

It carried out its second nuclear test the following month, sparking tougher UN sanctions.

A key obstacle to restarting the talks is the sinking in March of a South Korean warship, with the deaths of 46 sailors, an attack both South Korea and the United States blame on North Korea.

But the United States this week refused to rule out a resumption of the talks, possibly after the UN General Assembly late next month.

In Seoul, the Chinese envoy continued his mission Friday to push for the resumption of the talks.

South Korea expressed reservations about China's proposal for an informal meeting between Pyongyang and Washington and preliminary talks ahead of any resumption of the nuclear forum.

Carter, now 86, had previously made a landmark visit to Pyongyang in 1994 when the United States came close to war with North Korea over its nuclear programme. He helped defuse the crisis through talks with then-leader Kim Il-Sung.

On another mercy mission last year, former president Bill Clinton secured the release of American television journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were jailed after wandering across the North Korean border with China.

The United States had repeatedly voiced concern about the health of Gomes, whom two American doctors and a US consular official visited earlier this month in a Pyongyang hospital.

KCNA said in July that Gomes, a former English teacher in the South and reportedly a devout Christian, had tried to commit suicide and was being treated in a hospital.

Washington issued a travel warning soon after the release of Gomes, urging US citizens to avoid entering the North without "explicit official permission" or an entry visa from Pyongyang.

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DPRK to Use Nuclear Deterrent if Attacked: Diplomat
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will use its nuclear arsenal if attacked by the United States and South Korea, DPRK ambassador to Cuba Kwon Sung Chol said Friday.

"If Washington and Seoul try to create a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, we will respond with a holy war on the basis of our nuclear deterrent forces," said Kwon at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the DPRK.

"Our government will strive for the denuclearization of the peninsula and the establishment of a lasting peace as the beginning of the reunification process of the two Koreas," the diplomat said.

Despite obstacles created by the United States and South Korea, reunification will be achieved with the support of peace-loving peoples, like Cubans, he said.

Referring to the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan in March, Kwon said the situation required the strengthening of support and solidarity between peoples of the DPRK and Cuba.

South Korea blamed the DPRK for the sinking of Cheonan. The DPRK rejected the accusation and proposed to send an inspection group to the south to verify the evidence. However, Seoul rejected the proposal.

Kwon also thanked former Cuban leader Fidel Castro for his public warning on the incident that it could unleash a major conflict in the area.

"His articles are an encouragement to our people, who fight against the imperialism," the DPRK diplomat said.

Cuban Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas stressed the willingness of Havana and Pyongyang to boost their relations for the sake of their peoples.

Cuba and the DPRK established diplomatic relations on Aug. 29, 1960. The two nations are currently holding cultural and political events to mark the anniversary.

The 1,200-ton Cheonan with 104 crew members onboard sank near the maritime border with the DPRK on March 26 after an unexplained explosion. Only 58 sailors survived.

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C.  Nonproliferation

US, Others Urged to Ratify Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Khaleej Times
(for personal use only)

A UN-backed monitoring group urged the US and eight other countries on Friday to ratify a worldwide ban on atomic test blasts ahead of the International Day against Nuclear Tests this weekend.

“Now is the time for the nine states whose ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will bring it into force to show the political will and fully endorse it,” said the head of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Tibor Toth.

The CTBT, which bans nuclear blasts for military or civilian purposes, was drawn up in 1996 and has so far been signed by a total 182 countries and ratified by 153.

But nine key states, namely China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States, still need to ratify it before it can come into force.

US President Barack Obama has said that Washington is committed to ratifying the CTBT. But it seems likely to hold off doing so until after the new START or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty has first been cleared by the US Senate.

Last year, the UN General Assembly declared August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

The date was chosen because August 29, 1949, was when the then Soviet Union followed the US and detonated its first nuclear device, effectively starting the nuclear arms race.

The site of the first Russian test was at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan and a total of 450 bombs were tested there until 1991, when Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered the closure of the site, also symbolically on August 29.

“The declaration of 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests is an acknowledgement of the need to halt nuclear testing once and for all,” CTBTO chief Toth said.

“The will to pursue a nuclear-weapon-free world is not in short measure but we need to observe August 29 as a time to act and not to wait,” he said.

“The hands of states seeking to develop nuclear weapons and the hands of those that already have them will be tied without their ability to test,” the CTBTO chief argued.

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Moldova to Send Seized Uranium to Germany: Police
(for personal use only)

Uranium seized from a suspected group of traffickers in the ex-Soviet state of Moldova will be sent to Germany to pinpoint its origin and degree of enrichment, officials said on Thursday.

Authorities in Moldova said this week they had seized almost two kilogrammes (around four pounds) of the radioactive substance Uranium-238 from a suspected group of traffickers, including former interior ministry officials.

"The Uranium-238 found in Moldova will be sent to the nuclear research centre in Germany for the identification of a producer country and the degree of enrichment of the radioactive substance," interior ministry spokesman Chiril Motpan told AFP.

"Talks with German experts are currently under way," he said, adding however it was still unclear how much of the substance would be sent. Moldova does not have laboratories to conduct the required analysis itself, he said.

Motpan reiterated the seized uranium was under guard, saying the operation to capture the radioactive matter lasted over a month.

"The country has not yet seen such a special operation before," he said. "It was the first time that contraband radioactive materials were intercepted in Moldova."

The suspected traffickers had wanted to sell the uranium for nine million euros (11 million dollars).

Experts have repeatedly expressed fears over traffickers obtaining nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union with the aim of selling them on to rogue groups in the hope of making the so-called dirty bomb.

The United States said Wednesday it gave technical assistance to Moldovan authorities over the seizure of the uranium.

Uranium-238 can be converted to create plutonium -- a source for nuclear power and nuclear warheads.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Cambodia Denies Media's Report on Nuclear Power Plant
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Cambodia Monday denied media's report that suggested the country might have deal with Iran to build a nuclear power plant.

Koy Kuong, spokesman of Foreign Ministry said Monday that Cambodia has not made any deal with Iran on anything related to nuclear power plant.

Koy Kuong made the statement following media's report that suggested during the recent visit to Iran. Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs might have discussed any issue on nuclear power plant.

Koy Kuong said, during the visit, there were only three documents were signed: cooperation in petroleum, economic cooperation and visa exemption.

Hor Namhong made an official visit to Iran early this month.

Cambodia has earlier expressed its interest, for the future, to access a nuclear power plant in order to secure sufficient power supply, but stressed it would not be any time soon.

Since June, Iran has been imposed with new sanctions by the United States, European Union and the United Nations in a way to stop its sensitive uranium-enrichment program which they fear of nuclear weapons production.

But the Irani government had denied the charge, saying the program was only for a peaceful purpose.

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Merkel Says Extending German Nuclear Power by Up to 15 Years Is `Sensible'
Tony Czuczka
(for personal use only)

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she favors an extension of the operating lifespan of German nuclear-power plants by as many as 15 years, less that utilities such as E.ON AG and RWE AG are hoping for.

Merkel, in an interview with ARD television in Berlin today, said that an extension of nuclear power by between 10 years and 15 years was “sensible.”

A government-commissioned report by the EWI Institute and Prognos AG, delivered to ministers on Aug. 27, recommends prolonging the use of atomic energy by between 12 and 20 years beyond a planned closure date of about 2022 agreed by a previous government, Der Spiegel magazine reported in this week’s issue. Merkel has said the government will present its energy policy program by the end of September.

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E.  Links of Interest

EU to Help Iraq Dismantle Old Nuclear Facilities
Aseel Kami
(for personal use only)

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China Seeks Fresh Nuclear Talks with North Korea
(for personal use only)

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Anti-Nuclear Testing Conference Looks at Semipalatinsk Legacy
Central Asia Newswire
(for personal use only)

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Green Light for Green Energy - Egypt Building Nuclear Station
Global Arab Network
(for personal use only)

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