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Nuclear News - 8/5/2010
PGS Nuclear News, August 5, 2010
Compiled By: Brandi Bohannon

A.  Iran
    1. AP Exclusive: Iran Defiant in Nuclear Documents, George Jahn, Associated Press (8/5/2010)
    2. Ahmadinejad Urges US to Join Nuclear Swap Talks, AFP (8/4/2010)
    3. US Pushing Japan for Iran Sanctions , PressTV (8/4/2010)
B.  North Korea
    1. S.Korea Warns N.Korea on Eve of Naval Drill , Nam You-Sun, AFP (8/4/2010)
    2. US Negotiator Says NKorea Not Ready for Talks , Associated Press (8/4/2010)
    3. Pyongyang Touts Nuclear Weapons Progress , Yoshihiro Makino, Asahi (8/2/2010)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. US, Vietnam in Nuke Talks , News 24 (8/5/2010)
    2. In Paris, Pak Prez Seeks Nuclear Deal , The Times of India (8/3/2010)
    3. Kerry Says Russia Nuclear Treaty Has Enough Votes to be Ratified by Senate , Viola Gienger, Bloomberg (8/3/2010)
D.  Nonproliferation
    1. UN Chief in Nagasaki Calls for Nuclear Disarmament , Associated Press (8/5/2010)
    2. Indonesia, Japan Agree to Reduce Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon , Peoples Daily Online  (8/4/2010)
    3. US Still Concerned about A.Q. Khan Network , Deccan Herald  (8/4/2010)
    4. IAEA Should Look at Mandatory Syria Inspection: U.S. , Adrian Croft, Reuters (8/3/2010)
E.  Nuclear Security
    1. Russia Moves Radioactive Material from Nuclear Site , AFP (8/4/2010)

A.  Iran

AP Exclusive: Iran Defiant in Nuclear Documents
George Jahn
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

As Iran and world powers prepare for new nuclear talks, letters by Tehran's envoys to top international officials and shared with The Associated Press suggest major progress is unlikely, with Tehran combative and unlikely to offer any concessions.

Two letters, both written late last month, reflect Iran's apparent determination to continue the nuclear activities that have led to new rounds of U.N., EU, and U.S. sanctions in recent weeks over fears that Tehran might be seeking to develop nuclear arms.

At the same time, world powers preparing to talk to Tehran are unwilling to cede ground on key demands concerning Iran's uranium enrichment activities, dimming prospects that the new negotiations will ease tensions.

Iran insists it want to enrich uranium only to make fuel for a planned reactor network and denies accusations that it will use the program to make fissile warhead material.

But international suspicions are strong. Tehran hid its enrichment program until it was revealed from the outside. And it acknowledged constructing a secret nuclear facility last year to the International Atomic Energy Agency last year only days before its existence was publicly revealed by the U.S. and Britain.

Since its enrichment program was unmasked eight years ago, Tehran has defied four U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to pressure it into freezing enrichment. Sporadic negotiations between Iran and all or some of the permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany have also failed to make headway.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, in its latest tally in June, said Iran was now running nearly 4,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges and had amassed nearly 2.5 tons of low-enriched uranium that can be used for fuel.

That's also enough for two nuclear bombs if enriched to weapons-grade levels.

Reinforcing his country's hard line, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday warned the West against "resorting to lies and hue and cry" in attempts to pressure his country into making nuclear concessions.

The letters, provided to the AP by a European official on condition he not be named because of their confidential nature, address two sets of talks tentatively set to resume this fall.

In one negotiation round, the U.S. Russia, China, France Britain and Germany will again push for an Iranian commitment to freeze enrichment. The other will try to revive talks between Iran Washington, Paris and Moscow on a fuel swap for Tehran's research nuclear reactor.

A letter addressed to Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, slams her offer to resume talks a day after the U.N. Security Council passed its fourth set of sanctions, calling it "astonishing," and describing subsequent E.U. and U.S. sanctions as "even more astonishing."

"This kind of behavior ... is absolutely unacceptable," says the letter, from Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

The second letter says that "irrational conditions" imposed by the West are blocking a new round of the fuel swap talks. Addressed to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano and signed by Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief IAEA delegate, the letter accuses the five permanent members of the U.N. security council of poisoning the atmosphere "through (the) imposition of another illegal resolution."

While both letters say Iran is ready to talk, the one to Ashton — the point person for the six big powers — sets the bar perhaps unreachably high, suggesting that Tehran is prepared to come to the table only if the other side ends its "hostility," avoids "any kind of pressure or threat" and states its "clear position on the nuclear weapons of the Zionist regime."

The previous meeting between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany in October ended inconclusively on an enrichment freeze but led to agreement to start the fuel swap negotiations. That, in turn foundered after Tehran balked at shipping out most of its low-enriched uranium in exchange for fuel rods for the research reactor.

While Iran says it is now ready for a swap, its interlocutors say the terms must be renegotiated because Tehran has since enriched much more uranium, meaning that it would still have enough to enrich to weapons grade even if it now shipped out the original amount agreed upon.

Additionally, Iran is now enriching to higher levels, which can be turned into weapons grade uranium more easily — material it says it needs to turn into fuel rods after the deal stalled last year. The West demands the process be stopped before any consideration of new fuel swap talks.

In what the West sees as a further complication, Iran has enlisted Turkey and Brazil in pressing for a return to the fuel swap talks essentially under the original terms now rejected by its interlocutors. Russia has welcomed Iranian calls to invite Brazil and Turkey to the negotiations, while the U.S. and France are skeptical.

"The Iranians say they want to meet without preconditions, then they lay out a bunch of preconditions," said a Western official from a European capital who is familiar with the issue. The official, who asked for anonymity because his information is confidential said there is a "long way to go before we know who will be at the table, and when."

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Ahmadinejad Urges US to Join Nuclear Swap Talks
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the United States on Wednesday to join talks on a nuclear fuel swap deal, reiterating that Tehran was ready to start talks near the end of the month.

Ahmadinejad also repeated an offer to hold talks with US President Barack Obama on "global problems" at the UN General Assembly in September, although Washington has rebuffed his proposal.

"He (Obama) missed the opportunity last year for a fuel swap; today this opportunity is on the table again," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech in the city of Hamedan in western Iran.

"We are ready for talks based on respect, justice and Iran's proposals after mid-Ramadan (late August) and we advise him (Obama) not to miss this opportunity," Ahmadinejad said.

Iran said on Sunday it was seeing a "positive" feedback from the Vienna group -- United States, Russia and France -- over the proposal brokered by Brazil and Turkey to supply Tehran with nuclear fuel.

The May 17 proposal by Iran, Turkey and Brazil, known as the Tehran Declaration, stipulates that Iran send 1,200 kilogrammes (2,645 pounds) of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for 20 percent high-enriched uranium to be supplied by Russia and France at a later date.

The world powers led by Washington had previously cold-shouldered the plan, and backed a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran on June 9.

The UN sanctions have been followed by unilateral punitive measures imposed by the United States and the European Union.

The world powers suspect that Iran is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian atomic programme, while Tehran insists its nuclear programme has no military aims.

On Tuesday Washington rebuffed a call by Ahmadinejad for face-to-face summit talks with Obama.

Overlooking the US reaction, Ahmadinejad repeated Wednesday, "We are ready to talk to Mr Obama before the nations and present our solutions for global problems and define the roots of the crimes and problems in the world."

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US Pushing Japan for Iran Sanctions
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The US has initiated efforts to push Japan into imposing new sanctions against Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

Robert Einhorn, US State Department's special adviser for non-proliferation and arms control met with Japanese officials at the US embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

Einhorn, accompanied by Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Glaser, called on Japan to follow Europe's example and take "strong measures" against Iran.

"Japan imports a lot of oil from Iran, but the steps we are asking Japan to take would not interfere in any way with Japan's energy security, its imports of oil from Iran," AFP quoted Einhorn as saying.

"Japanese adoption of these strong measures would not adversely affect the economy of Japan," Einhorn claimed.

Despite massive international efforts by US officials to push other countries to impose additional sanctions on Iran, Tehran continues to insist that sanctions are futile and will not affect its economy nor its will to exercise the legitimate right to pursue civilian nuclear technology.

Remarks by US officials come a day after the Japanese government reportedly announced plans to follow the US lead to impose additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

The Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan approved a set of additional sanctions on Tuesday, including a freeze on the assets of 40 organizations and one individual, the official Kyodo news agency reported.

Iran has stressed that sanctions have no impact on its economy, saying they will only hurt those countries, which have taken such measures against Tehran.

Iran in May agreed to send its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel for the Tehran research reactor.

The decision, however, was cold-shouldered by the West, with the US drafting a resolution, which was approved by the UN Security Council in June.

While the US possesses and has used nuclear weapons in the past, ironically against Japan, it is activly pressing its allies to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran, which does not possess nuclear weapons nor does it seek to develop such weapons.

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B.  North Korea

S.Korea Warns N.Korea on Eve of Naval Drill
Nam You-Sun
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South Korea warned North Korea Wednesday it would not tolerate provocations during an upcoming naval exercise in the Yellow Sea, after Pyongyang threatened "strong physical retaliation" for the drill.

"Our military will keep a close eye on our enemy, be ready under any circumstances during the training and will not tolerate any type of provocation," Rear Admiral Kim Kyung-Sik told a briefing.

A spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP separately that if the North fired at the South, "we will stage an immediate counter-attack".

The five-day anti-submarine drill starting Thursday is a response to the North's alleged torpedo attack in March on a South Korean warship which killed 46 sailors.

Military officials said 29 ships, 50 fixed-wing aircraft and 4,500 army, navy, air force, marine and coastguard personnel would take part.

They said marines stationed on islands near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the North would stage live-fire exercises, but naval ships would stay far south of the line.

Kim said the exercise would be a legitimate defensive drill in the South's waters aimed at warning the North against future provocations.

In a joint show of strength on the eastern side of the Korean peninsula, the US and South Korean military last week staged one of their largest joint naval and air drills.

The allies plan more joint drills this year but this week's exercise will involve only South Korea.

The United States has also announced new sanctions on the North to punish it for the alleged attack on the South Korean warship, the Cheonan, and to push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

The North vehemently denies it attacked the Cheonan. It also disputes the maritime border in the Yellow Sea, which was the scene of several naval clashes in the past, saying it should run further to the south.

The Cheonan went down near the border and a multinational investigation concluded it had been torpedoed by one of the North's submarines.

The North's military Tuesday dubbed the upcoming exercise a "direct military invasion". It said "reckless naval firing" by the South would be countered "with strong physical retaliation".

Pyongyang threatened nuclear retaliation for last week's joint drill, which ended without incident.

A South Korean newspaper said Wednesday the North had moved long-range anti-aircraft missiles close to the border as tensions rose over the warship.

Chosun Ilbo quoted a military source as saying some SA-5 missiles had been moved to areas near the border, where they pose a potential threat to South Korean jets.

A separate media report said the United States, as part of its new sanctions, is expected to blacklist three key North Korean figures suspected of handling secret funds for leader Kim Jong-Il.

Yonhap news agency, quoting a South Korean government source, said one of the three is Kim Tong-Myong, head of the North's Tanchon Commercial Bank.

"The US is paying special attention to three people, including Kim Tong-Myong, who operate North Korea's secret funds abroad," the source was quoted as saying.

"If they are included in the new sanctions, it could deal a blow to North Korea's leadership."

The North has indicated conditional willingness to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks after the UN Security Council failed directly to censure it for the Cheonan incident.

But senior US State Department Robert Einhorn said he was unsure whether Pyongyang was ready to resume negotiations, given its recent behaviour.

"North Korea's actions raised legitimate questions in the minds of people about whether they are actually prepared to live up to their obligations to disarm completely, verifiable and irreversibly," he said in Tokyo.

"If the North Koreans are sincere... they have to take convincing tangible steps," said Einhorn, who visited South Korea and Japan to co-ordinate enforcement of sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

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US Negotiator Says NKorea Not Ready for Talks
Associated Press
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North Korea's recent actions indicate it is not yet ready to rejoin multilateral talks aimed at getting it to give up its nuclear weapons program, a senior U.S. negotiator said Wednesday.

Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said North Korea's recent alleged sinking of a South Korean warship — which Pyongyang denies — and its aggressive rhetoric suggest it is not willing to make serious commitments toward denuclearization.

"I don't know that we are ready today to resume those talks," Einhorn told reporters in Tokyo. "North Korea's actions raise legitimate questions about whether they are willing to live up to their commitments."

Five nations — China, Russia, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan — have been trying for years to convince North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for aid and other concessions.

North Korea walked out of those talks last year after being condemned by the U.N. Security Council for firing a long-range rocket. Weeks later, North Korea carried out a nuclear test, its second.

Both nuclear tests resulted in Security Council resolutions, one in 2006 which imposed sanctions and another in 2009 that tightened them.

The U.S. and South Korean accuse North Korea of sinking a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors in the worst military attack on the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced new sanctions against North Korea during a recent visit to Seoul. Einhorn said on Monday those measures would further isolate the North financially and pinpoint "illicit and deceptive" activities such as drug trafficking, currency counterfeiting and the banned trade in conventional arms.

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Pyongyang Touts Nuclear Weapons Progress
Yoshihiro Makino
(for personal use only)

North Korea claims it has developed an improved nuclear weapons technology that will strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

Although Pyongyang has not been specific about what the new capability is, South Korean government analysts speculate that it may either involve downsizing nuclear bombs or an ability to use highly enriched uranium in bombs.

Nuclear fusion techniques, which Pyongyang in May claimed it had developed, might allow the North to load smaller bombs onto ballistic missiles, while using highly enriched uranium rather than plutonium would make it more difficult for the international community to monitor Pyongyang's access to raw materials for its bombs.

Pyongyang first referred to the new technology in a Foreign Ministry statement carried on the state-run Korean Central News Agency, on June 28. It said it was "strengthening (nuclear deterrence) with a new method."

On July 25, the Foreign Ministry's disarmament section chief Li Tong Il again seemed to refer to new capabilities, when he said: "We will further strengthen our nuclear deterrence in a variety of ways."

According to military sources, North Korea's established technological capabilities are equivalent to those required to make the "Fat Man" bomb which devastated Nagasaki in 1945. That device was dropped by a U.S. B-29 bomber and weighed nearly five tons.

North Korea announced in May that nuclear fusion experiments had been successful. The development of devices using nuclear fusion would improve the efficiency of fission reactions in bombs, allowing smaller weapons to be produced, or more bombs to be made from a given amount of plutonium.

To load its weapons onto missiles, North Korea needs to reduce their weight to about one ton, in the case of its long-range Taepodong missiles, and to less than 800 kilograms, in the case of its medium-range Nodong.

An alternative explanation of the statements coming out of Pyongyang is the development of an ability to use uranium in its weapons. North Korea is believed to already possess several plutonium bombs, but using uranium would make it more difficult for the international community to monitor the develoment process.

According to diplomatic sources, when North Korea notified China in advance of its plan to experiment with nuclear fusion, China was strongly opposed.

Any development of its nuclear weapon capability is likely to harm relations with China as well as South Korea, the United States and Japan.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

US, Vietnam in Nuke Talks
News 24
(for personal use only)

The US is in advanced negotiations to share nuclear fuel and technology with Vietnam, including a proviso that would allow Hanoi to enrich uranium on its own, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Congressional critics of the deal say the terms would undercut the more stringent demands placed on its partners in the Middle East, which had been required to renounce uranium enrichment in exchange for nuclear co-operation, the report said.

The newspaper cited US officials as saying that negotiators have given a full nuclear co-operation proposal to Vietnam, a former Cold War foe, and that they have started briefing the House and Senate foreign relations committees.

China, which shares a long border with Vietnam, has not been consulted, the officials said.

"It doesn't involve China," a top US official was quoted as saying.

A deal would allow US firms like General Electric Co and Bechtel Corp to sell nuclear components and reactors to Vietnam, the report said.


"If we're able to have US companies and technologies in play in Vietnam this gives the ability to exert some leverage," the US official was quoted as saying. "If we shut ourselves out, others may have different standards."

The Journal said the negotiations, which are led by the State Department, have accelerated in recent months.

The US and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bush administration in 2001 to pursue co-operation with the United States on securing fissile materials and developing civilian nuclear power.

The Journal said Vuong Huu Tan, director of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute, said the two sides reached an initial agreement on nuclear co-operation in March and hope to finalise it later this year.

He said Vietnam did not plan to enrich uranium.

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In Paris, Pak Prez Seeks Nuclear Deal
The Times of India
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France sees Pakistan as a reliable friend, President Ali Asif Zardari said on Monday after meeting his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. He said Islamabad is keen on a "serious and substantive engagement" with France in civil nuclear cooperation.

Zardari also called for the early establishment of a framework for a strategic dialogue between the two sides for the nuclear cooperation, an official statement said. Zardari is on his second visit to France in 14 months and had raised the issue of civil nuclear cooperation during his last visit too.

Referring to Pakistan's campaign against militancy, Zardari said his government "had built political consensus and given ownership to the war against terror" even as the country paid a "huge cost in terms of human and material losses".

It was "unfortunate if some people continued to express doubts and misgivings about our will and determination to fight the militants to the finish", Zardari said.

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Kerry Says Russia Nuclear Treaty Has Enough Votes to be Ratified by Senate
Viola Gienger
(for personal use only)

Senator John Kerry said he has enough votes to ratify a treaty with Russia to cut nuclear weapons, a priority for President Barack Obama, though he delayed a committee vote to round up more bipartisan support.

Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, put off a roll call by the Foreign Relations Committee until after the Senate returns in September from a month-long recess. The extra time may help get more Republicans on board, Kerry said. Democrats control the Senate 59-41, with 67 votes, or two-thirds, needed for ratification.

The president “believes as I do the treaty will be stronger with a larger vote in favor of the treaty,” Kerry told reporters on a conference call in Washington today. “If, on the other hand, people decide to make it partisan, we will deal with that at that moment, and people will see that for what it is.”

The annual United Nations General Assembly in late September also may spur congressional support, he said. The U.S. will need to set an example of arms cuts as Obama and other top officials press their counterparts to impose more of their own sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program to complement UN penalties adopted earlier this year, Kerry said.

Republicans including Arizona Senator Jon Kyl have balked at a treaty they say could hamstring U.S. plans for a European missile defense system that Russia opposes. The agreement would replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, that expired in December and left the former Cold War rivals with no way to verify each other’s nuclear weapons.

Strategic Warheads

The treaty requires each nation to further limit deployed strategic warheads to no more than 1,550, from 2,200 now, and no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed land-, air- and sea- based launchers. It also updates measures to verify compliance.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the treaty is particularly important because Russia is putting more focus on modernizing its nuclear weapons as finances and a shrinking military recruiting base squeeze its ability to develop conventional forces.

Republicans have demanded more assurances that an Obama plan to maintain the existing U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons will get the $80 billion in funding promised over the next decade.

“We could have passed the treaty out in May,” Kerry said.

He dismissed the absence of publicly stated support from most Republicans, saying he’s confident he has the votes. “I don’t care what people say publicly. The answer is yes, I do.”

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D.  Nonproliferation

UN Chief in Nagasaki Calls for Nuclear Disarmament
Associated Press
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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the abolishment of nuclear weapons Thursday during a visit to Nagasaki, one of two Japanese cities devastated by U.S. atomic bombs in the closing days of World War II.

Ban toured the Atomic Bomb Museum and met with six survivors during his visit, the first by a U.N. chief to Nagasaki. More than 70,000 people were killed when the U.S. bombed the southern Japanese city on Aug. 9, 1945.

"My visit here has strengthened my conviction that these weapons must be outlawed, either by a nuclear weapons convention or by a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments," Ban said in a speech at Nagasaki's Urakami Cathedral.

The cathedral, just 2,000 feet (600 meters) from the bomb's hypocenter, was completely destroyed and was rebuilt along with much of the city after the war.

Ban said nations must work together to create a world free from nuclear weapons.

"The only way to ensure that such weapons will never again be used is to eliminate them all," he said. "There must be no place in our world for such indiscriminate weapons."

Ban is to visit Hiroshima on Friday to attend the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city on Aug. 6, 1945. About 140,000 people were killed or died within months in Hiroshima. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II.

U.S. Ambassador John Roos will also attend the ceremony in Hiroshima, becoming the first representative sent by Washington to the annual commemoration.

Nuclear powers France and Britain will also send representatives to the Hiroshima ceremony for the first time.

Former President Jimmy Carter visited Hiroshima's Peace Museum in 1984, after he was out of office. The highest-ranking American to visit while in office is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who went in 2008.

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Indonesia, Japan Agree to Reduce Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon
Peoples Daily Online
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Indonesia and Japan have agreed to a joint attempt to push progress in a world disarmament agenda despite opposition from several countries that posses a nuclear arsenal, local media reported on Wednesday.

"Indonesia and Japan, as well as a number of other countries, will have a special meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Tuesday.

"Every nation's position is already crystal clear. What we want to emphasize now are attempts to bridge all these positions. Indonesia and Japan are trying to identify common grounds so our approach will be constructive."

He said Australia would also join Indonesia and Japan.

Marty was speaking to reporters after a bilateral meeting with Japanese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Osamu Fujimura on the sidelines of a two-day special ministerial meeting to review Millennium Development Goals at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta.

Fujimura said Japan and Australia were planning to meet on the issue.

"During my meeting with Marty, I expressed our hope for him to participate in the planned meeting," Marty was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

Marty said that this year provided fresh momentum and keeping the disarmament issue alive would help create progress in the agenda.

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US Still Concerned about A.Q. Khan Network
Deccan Herald
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Possible revival of the A.Q. Khan run nuclear-smuggling network is an area of ongoing concern for Washington even as Islamabad claims the notorious Pakistani scientist is out of business.

"Obviously, the A.Q. Khan network has - or is responsible for some of the most serious cases of proliferation in recent decades," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters Tuesday when asked to comment on an article in the Washington Times.
"We have worked intensively with Pakistan and other countries to shut down that network," he said.

"And while A.Q. Khan himself is out of business, according to the government of Pakistan, we watch his network very closely for signs that others within his realm are still in business."

"It is something - it's an ongoing focus of ours, and because we - this is a part of our broad international effort to try to stem sources of proliferation around the world. So it is an area of ongoing concern," Crowley said.

The Times reported last week that scientists, engineers and financiers involved in the A.Q. Khan nuclear-smuggling network are being contacted by several governments in an effort to lure these specialists out of retirement.

The development is raising concerns among US intelligence agencies about the revival of the proliferation network that was thought to have been shut down years ago, it said.

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IAEA Should Look at Mandatory Syria Inspection: U.S.
Adrian Croft
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The U.S. envoy to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday it should consider pressing for a mandatory special inspection in Syria to resolve allegations of covert atomic activity.

A confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, obtained by Reuters in May, said Syria had revealed some details of past nuclear experiments to U.N. inspectors. But it was still blocking access to a desert site where secret atomic activity may have taken place.

U.S. intelligence reports said the desert site, bombed to rubble by Israel in 2007, had been a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor under construction, geared for atomic bomb fuel.

Syria allowed the IAEA to inspect the site, known as either al-Kibar or Dair Alzour, in June 2008 but has not allowed the agency to revisit it since then.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy to the IAEA, said a "number of countries" were beginning to ask whether it was time to invoke the IAEA's "special inspection" mechanism.

"Syria...would love to just stave off any serious action to get to the bottom of what they were doing at al-Kibar," he told reporters in London.

"Our position is we are not going to postpone this indefinitely, we can't. The agency needs to do its duty and it needs to get answers to these questions. A special inspection is one of the tools that is available, so that's something that needs to be considered," he said.

The IAEA lacks legal means to get Syria to open up because the country's basic safeguards treaty covers only its one declared atomic facility, an old research reactor.


Special inspections give IAEA inspectors the authority to look anywhere at short notice in a member state, beyond declared nuclear plants.

The IAEA last resorted to special inspection powers in 1993 in North Korea, which still withheld access and later developed nuclear bomb capacity in secret.

If Syria failed to comply with an IAEA request for a special inspection, the agency's Board of Governors could find Syria "in non-compliance" with its safeguards accord, experts say.

Davies said the IAEA might look at a special inspection for Syria this year but he cautioned against raising too many issues at once, saying Iran was "the greatest threat at the moment."

The U.N. Security Council, the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran in recent months over its nuclear program, which Iran says is peaceful but that the West suspects is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

Iran backed out of a tentative plan brokered by the IAEA and world powers in October under which it would ship some low-enriched uranium abroad in return for medical reactor fuel. Tehran showed revived interest in the deal in May after talks with Turkey and Brazil.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said in Singapore on Monday that talks to revive the plan could start within months. [nSGE6710II]

Davies said there was a proposal at the IAEA in Vienna for a preparatory "organizational meeting" to see if there was a basis for moving forward on the medical reactor fuel plan. But a date for this meeting might not be set for several weeks, he said.

He said Washington wanted answers to a series of questions about Tehran's position on the proposed fuel swap.

Davies suggested that Turkey, and perhaps also Brazil, could have a role to play at some stage of the negotiations.

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E.  Nuclear Security

Russia Moves Radioactive Material from Nuclear Site
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Russian authorities have been forced to remove radioactive material from a top secret nuclear research facility to protect it from encroaching wildfires, the country's nuclear chief said Wednesday.

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's nuclear agency, however reassured that there was no danger to nuclear security.

"All explosive and radioactive materials have been taken away," he told a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev.

"I can guarantee that even in an extreme situation with squalling winds there is no danger to nuclear security, no threat of radiation, explosions, or environmental consequences," he added.

The nuclear facility in Sarov, a city still closed to foreigners, lies in the central Nizhny Novgorod region, east of Moscow, which is one the the areas worst hit by the wildfires.

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