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Nuclear News - 9/14/2010
PGS Nuclear News, September 14, 2010
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Ahmadinejad to Visit NY for UN Meeting, PressTV (9/13/2010)
    2. Iran Urges Change in P5+1 Structure, PressTV (9/13/2010)
    3. IAEA Report Influenced by Security Council Wording, Iran Tells Amano, Tehran Times  (9/13/2010)
    4. Row Over UN Inspectors in Iran to Dominate IAEA Meet, Channel NewsAsia (9/12/2010)
    5. Finesse Needed on "Difficult" Iran-Russia Senator, William Maclean, Reuters (9/12/2010)
    6. Iran Dissidents Pinpoint Alleged Nuclear Site, Jay Solomon, The Wall Street Journal (9/10/2010)
    1. U.S. Mission to China on North Korean Sanctions Delayed Amid North Korea's Conciliatory Gestures, Hwang Doo-hyong, Yonhap News Agency (9/14/2010)
    2. U.S. Envoy Says Optimistic About Engagement with DPRK, Xinhua News Agency (9/13/2010)
    3. Rare North Korea Meeting Could Start Wednesday: Report, Reuters (9/13/2010)
C.  India
    1. India to Approach IAEA on Liability Convention, The Hindu (9/11/2010)
D.  Nonproliferation
    1. Nuclear Scrutiny to Turn to Israel, Jay Solomon, The Wall Street Journal (9/11/2010)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. TEPCO to Boost Renewable Energy, Expand Overseas, Yuko Inoue, Reuters (9/13/2010)
    2. EDF's De Rivaz Says First New U.K. Reactor Should Start Production in 2018, Kari Lundgren and Lars Paulsson, Bloomberg (9/13/2010)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Kingdom Enters Second Stage of Talks Over Nuclear Plant, Taylor Luck, The Jordan Times (9/14/2010)
    2. UN Nuclear Chief Chides Iran, Defends Monitors, George Jahn, Associated Press (9/13/2010)
    3. Merkel's Nuclear Plans Are Legally Sound, German Minister Says, Patrick Donahue and Nicholas Comfort, Bloomberg (9/13/2010)
    4. Barack Obama to Authorize Record $60bn Saudi Arms Sale, Ian Black , The Guardian (9/13/2010)
    5. Nuclear-Armed Pakistan Expected to Chair IAEA Board, Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (9/9/2010)

A.  Iran

Ahmadinejad to Visit NY for UN Meeting
(for personal use only)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit New York to attend a UN General Assembly meeting on disarmament, the UN chief says.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted that the meeting will be held on Sep. 24.

The UN chief will discuss Iran's nuclear program with the country's top officials during the forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly, reports say.

Ban also called for further cooperation on the part of the Islamic Republic to help resolve the standoff with the West over the country's nuclear program.

"On numerous occasions I have been urging and use this opportunity to urge again Iran to extend its cooperation [with the International Atomic Energy Agency] and to resolve all outstanding issues," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

"I will have an opportunity to meet with the officials from the Iranian leadership, possibly with the President of Iran during the General Assembly," he added.

Iran maintains its insistence on exercising its legitimate rights to pursue a civilian nuclear program and has fiercely rejected Western allegations that it may be after nuclear armaments. The Islamic Republic has also repeatedly called for a global nuclear disarmament, a call ignored by the very nuclear powers that accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The 65th session of the UN General Assembly will open in New York on Tuesday.

Created in Geneva in 1978, the Conference on Disarmament negotiated biological and chemical weapons conventions but has been unable to carry out significant work since 1998 because members could not agree on priorities.

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IAEA Report Influenced by Security Council Wording, Iran Tells Amano
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

The Iranian ambassador to the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog submitted a letter to IAEA Deputy General Yukiya Amano on Monday, saying the report about Iran’s nuclear program has duplicated certain parts of UN Security Council Resolution 1929.

Following is an excerpt of Ali Asghar Soltanieh’s letter to Amano:

Although the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran’s nuclear program, which was submitted to the agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors on September 6, declared that there was no diversion in Iran’s nuclear activities, it appears that the report was influenced by outside pressure.

The report contained a plethora of details about the technical aspects of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, which is a breach of the confidentiality of sensitive information about the nuclear activities of member states.

The report on the detailed technical aspects of Iran’s nuclear activities shows that the IAEA had complete access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities and materials, and thus the claim that Iran has not fully cooperated with the agency is unfounded.

In the report, there were a number of demands that exceeded the provisions of the comprehensive safeguards agreements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Based on the IAEA Statute and the safeguards agreement, the Islamic Republic of Iran clarified why the United Nations Security Council resolutions against Iran are illegal and unjustified. The case of Iran’s nuclear program was unlawfully referred to the UN Security Council, and the council adopted an inappropriate approach, issuing politically motivated, illegal, and unjust resolutions against Iran.

The report duplicated certain parts of Security Council Resolution 1929 in an unprecedented manner. This is not an appropriate way for an independent professional agency to present its reports and (thus) to play political games with certain countries.

Based on the modality plan on resolving the “remaining issues” about Iran’s nuclear activities, the issue of “alleged studies” was dismissed as a remaining issue. The IAEA did not allude to the former IAEA director general’s report on Iran’s nuclear program, which indicated that the alleged studies documents were forgeries and that no nuclear devices and materials mentioned in those studies had been found.

It is unfortunate that despite numerous comprehensive explanations delivered prior to the report, your report did not mention information that your predecessor included in his reports. Thus it was an unjust report.

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Iran Urges Change in P5+1 Structure
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Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says talks with major world powers (P5+1) requires a change in the structure of the group which has been offered by Tehran.

"Talks on fuel swap will be held only within the framework of the Vienna group (the US, Russia, France and the International Atomic Energy Agency)," Mottaki said in a press conference with Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Alain Be'douma Yoda in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Monday.

"Negotiations can begin by the time the IAEA prepares the ground," he further explained.

The Iranian top diplomat criticized the positive approach of the P5+1 to the imposition of the fourth round of sanctions resolution by the UN Security Council on the Islamic Republic after Iran, Turkey and Brazil issued a joint declaration on the enriched-uranium swap.

"The P5+1 showed its lack of honesty. So, a change in structure of the group is necessary," he went on to say.

Mottaki said new mechanisms intended by the Islamic Republic within the P5+1 have been announced, adding Tehran welcomes negotiations within the framework stipulated in the May 17 Tehran Declaration.

Based on the declaration, Iran agreed to exchange 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium on Turkish soil with fuel for the Tehran research reactor.

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Finesse Needed on "Difficult" Iran-Russia Senator
William Maclean
(for personal use only)

Russian nuclear energy support is intended to encourage Iran to play by global arms rules, a top Moscow senator said on Sunday, arguing Tehran's hardline Islamists responded best to diplomatic "chess", not "rugby".

Describing the Islamic republic as a difficult neighbour, Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Federation Council of Russia, or upper parliament chamber, said Moscow had no hidden agenda in building and supplying fuel to Iran's first nuclear power plant.

Russia's role at the plant, inaugurated last month near the Gulf city of Bushehr, was aimed at securing Iranian compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. body that seeks to counter nuclear proliferation, he said.

"We do not have any illusions about the character of the Iranian regime at all," he told a Geneva meeting of the International Institute of International Studies think tank.

"That is why, if we cooperate with Iran in the field of nuclear energy when we do Bushehr, this is how we try to keep these guys playing by the rules of the IAEA."

"This is the only legal mechanism to keep them cooperating with the international institutions."

Western countries fear Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons but Tehran rejects the accusation, saying its atomic activities are peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

To ease proliferation concerns, Russia will take back spent rods that could be used to make weapons-grade plutonium.


Margelov suggested a delicate factor in the Kremlin's approach to Iran was concern about potential Islamist subversion among Russia's Muslim minorities.

"We have to play chess with them. We do not believe, in our oriental policy, in playing rugby," he said.

"They are our neighbour -- our difficult neighbour -- and believe me through the 1990s we still do not know how many Islamic sport camps have they deployed in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and the Caucasus."

"It's difficult to do politics in the Oriental countries, and we know that."

The Kremlin is struggling to contain a growing Islamist insurgency in its North Caucasus region. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov this month called on militants in heavily Muslim Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, in central Russia where there has been very little violence linked to Islam, to conduct attacks.

Iran remains under intense international pressure to stop uranium enrichment, something the West says it no longer needs to do as it can acquire nuclear fuel from abroad.

Moscow is also struggling to balance trade ties with Tehran and warmer relations with the United States, which is eager for Kremlin support to rein in Iranian nuclear activities.

Tehran's refusal to cease enrichment has resulted in a series of U.N. sanctions and tougher unilateral measures by the United States, the European Union and elsewhere.

In a report earlier this month, the IAEA said that Iran was pressing on with its nuclear programme in defiance of the sanctions and hampering the U.N. nuclear watchdog's work by barring some inspectors.

Iran has voiced anger over Moscow's backing of the sanctions in the Security Council, where Russia holds veto power.

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Row Over UN Inspectors in Iran to Dominate IAEA Meet
Channel NewsAsia
(for personal use only)

Accusations that Iran is hampering the UN atomic watchdog's investigation into its nuclear programme by vetoing key inspectors look set to dominate the IAEA's week-long meeting this week.

The 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency is to convene for its traditional September meeting starting Monday with a packed agenda.

In addition to topics ranging from nuclear security to the agency's two-yearly programme performance report, governors will be formally notified of the appointment of a number of deputy directors general, including the successor to the IAEA's top inspector Olli Heinonen, who resigned last month.

And the board will also prepare for the agency's annual general conference -- which brings together all 151 member states -- being held the following week and where Arab states are expected to target Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal.

Once more, however, it will be the IAEA's latest reports on Iran and Syria, circulated to member states last week, that will likely be the focus of attention at the board meeting.

The Iran report complained that the Islamic republic was hampering the agency's work by barring experienced inspectors.

It found that Tehran was continuing to increase its stockpile of both low-enriched and higher-enriched uranium in defiance of UN orders to halt any such activity until the IAEA can determine the true nature of Iran's nuclear programme.

It said that Iran was still refusing to answer questions about possible military dimensions to its work.

And although the head of Tehran's atomic agency Ali Akhbar Salehi boasted last month that sites had been chosen for 10 new uranium enrichment facilities, Iran has not provided the agency with any information about those sites, as it is obliged to do under its safeguards agreement.

On Thursday, Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed Iran was building a new uranium enrichment site in Abyek, about 120 kilometres (70 miles) northwest of Tehran.

But Iran denied the allegation and experts have also expressed scepticism about the reliability of the information.

Diplomats close to the IAEA said the Iran report showed that Tehran, instead of helping to allay Western fears about a possible covert nuclear weapons programme, was only undermining any confidence in the proclaimed peaceful nature of its work.

The so-called "de-designation" of inspectors was "troubling", even if Iran was perfectly within its rights to vet IAEA inspectors coming into the country, as every member state is, the diplomats said.

It was the first time that experienced inspectors who had already been working in a country for a long time had suddenly had their permits revoked, they said, suggesting it was a way for Iran to intimidate and dissuade inspectors from asking too many awkward questions.

The IAEA's latest report on Syria was similarly frustrating, diplomats said.

It showed that Damascus was still stonewalling, two years after the agency launched an investigation into allegations that Syria had been building a covert nuclear reactor at a remote desert site with the help of North Korea until it was bombed by Israel in September 2007.

The IAEA could press for a mandatory "special inspection" to resolve the allegations. But diplomats said there was much debate within the agency over whether to resort to such a measure at this stage.

The last time special inspection powers were invoked was in the case of North Korea in 1993.

In the end, the hardline communist state still denied the IAEA access and went on to develop a nuclear bomb capacity in secret.

Looking ahead to the IAEA's general conference starting September 20, diplomats said Western countries would seek to dissuade Arab states from tabling a resolution targeting Israel.

Last year, they secured narrow backing for a resolution calling on the Jewish state to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And diplomats suggest a similar text could be put forward again this year.

But Western countries are concerned that singling out Israel, widely believed to be the only power in the region with nuclear weapons, would be divisive.

And it could jeopardise the agreement reached in New York in May for a regional conference in 2012 to advance the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East, the diplomats argued.

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Iran Dissidents Pinpoint Alleged Nuclear Site
Jay Solomon
The Wall Street Journal
(for personal use only)

Iran is developing an underground military installation in the mountains west of Tehran, according to U.S. officials and Iranian dissidents, but the facility's exact purpose is in dispute.

An Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, on Thursday told a Washington news conference that the site, which it called Javad-nia 2, is a nearly completed uranium-enrichment facility aimed at fast-tracking Iran's nuclear program.

A U.S. official disputed the MEK's finding that the construction site in western Iran is nuclear, and urged caution.

"This facility has been under construction for years, and we've known about it for years," said the U.S. official. "While there's still some ambiguity about its ultimate purpose—not unusual for something that's still taking shape—there's no reason at this point to think it's nuclear. The Iranians put military stuff in tunnels, too."

The MEK said the facility is 85% complete and adjoined to a major Iranian military garrison. The dissidents said they didn't believe that cascades of centrifuges, which are used to produce nuclear fuel, have been introduced to the mountainous site. But they said that three halls to house the centrifuges have been built and that the Iranian government has spent roughly $100 million developing the facility.

"This type of work has gone undetected and is expanding," said Soona Samsami, an MEK representative.

The MEK has played a significant role in recent years exposing some of Iran's covert nuclear activities. In 2002, it disclosed the existence of Iran's nuclear installations in the cities of Natanz and Isfahan. Subsequent investigations conducted by the United Nation's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, verified the MEK's claims and set off the international community's current standoff with Tehran over the nuclear program.

Independent nuclear experts said the MEK's information was plausible given Tehran's public claims that it is preparing to build 10 new enrichment plants at underground sites in the coming years. Last year, Iran acknowledged to the IAEA that it had been building a covert uranium-enrichment facility outside the Iranian holy city of Qom.

Still, the experts said the satellite imagery provided by the MEK on Thursday was inadequate for verifying the presence of a new enrichment site. They noted that Iran is developing underground facilities at a number of locations inside Iran, many of which are believed to have military, but not nuclear, purposes.

"It's conceivable this is a nuclear site, as Tehran has announced it would build new enrichment facilities underground," said Paul Brannan of Washington's Institute for Science and International Security, which is focused on combating nuclear proliferation. "But without knowing what's exactly inside those tunnels, it's impossible to verify."

A spokesman for Iran's mission at the U.N. didn't respond to messages seeking comment.

The U.S. State Department has designated the MEK a terrorist organization for assassinating U.S. officials inside Iran during the 1970s.

The organization also collaborated with Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein to launch military strikes against Iran's theocratic government. The MEK is currently contesting the U.S. government's terrorist designation in a Washington district court and says it gave up its armed struggle in 2001.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the MEK has provided useful information in the past. But they also say some of its information has been inaccurate or exaggerated. Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes.

The IAEA released a quarterly report this week on the status of Iran's nuclear program and criticized Tehran for limiting the access of the Agency's inspectors. The report stated that Iran has failed to answer questions concerning its alleged efforts to develop nuclear warheads and triggering devices. And the report said Iran continues to expand its production of nuclear fuel, though not as quickly as some Western intelligence agencies had projected.

Mr. Brannan and other nuclear experts say the IAEA should be pressing Tehran to allow access to the underground facilities currently being developed. They said that the facility cited by the MEK on Thursday might not be nuclear, but others could be.

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U.S. Mission to China on North Korean Sanctions Delayed Amid North Korea's Conciliatory Gestures
Hwang Doo-hyong
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

A senior U.S. official has delayed a trip to China intended to seek cooperation in implementing sanctions on North Korea, the State Department said Monday, amid a series of conciliatory gestures from the North.

The trip to China by Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, "was put on hold, I think, at the request of the Chinese," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. "I think we are having to reschedule his travel to China this week." Einhorn oversees U.S. sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

Crowley said last week Einhorn would fly to Beijing this week "as part of an interagency team to talk to China about both Iran and North Korea, and implementation of the respective resolutions regarding these two countries."

The delay comes as North Korea is trying to defuse tensions created after the torpedoeing of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 sailors. Pyongyang vehemently denies any role.

The North in recent weeks proposed a new round of reunions of the families separated after the division of the Korean Peninsula at the end of World War II and the ensuing 1950-53 Korean War; returned seven crewmembers of a South Korean fishing boat caught along sea border last month; and requested aid to recover from recent flooding.

A senior State Department official, asking anonymity, denied the suggestion that Einhorn's delayed trip has something to do with the conciliatory gestures, saying, "I doubt it."

Einhorn simply "is not going to China this week," the official said.

Reports said that the recent diplomatic efforts to revive the six-party talks will be successful after Washington meets bilaterally with Pyongyang. The talks have been deadlocked over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests and the sinking of the Cheonan.
Chief nuclear envoys from South Korea, China and Japan visited Washington over the past couple of weeks to discuss the reopening of the multilateral nuclear talks, which also involve Russia.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said in Seoul earlier in the day that he looks forward to "a process of bilateral contacts and eventually multilateral contacts that would hopefully result in a resumption of the six-party process," although he added, "There is a lot of work to do before that happens."

Bosworth is on the first leg of a tour of Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.

Crowley tried to tone down Bosworth's remarks on the bilateral dialogue.

"He did say in his media appearance today that we'll be looking to see how, through bilateral contacts and multilateral contacts, we can advance towards de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the spokesman said. "I would just note that bilateral contacts can include any country within the six-party process, not just the United States."

China has urged the U.S. to have another bilateral dialogue with North Korea to pave the way for the resumption of the nuclear talks, but Washington first wants Pyongyang to show some commitment toward denuclearization and also take responsibility for the Cheonan's sinking.

Bosworth visited Pyongyang in December in the first high-level contact under the Obama administration, and talks for another one stopped in March in the wake of the Chenoan's sinking.

Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, last week called on Pyongyang to mend fences with South Korea before returning to the nuclear talks.

"We believe that it will be critical for there to be some element of reconciliation between the North and South for any process to move forward," he said.

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Rare North Korea Meeting Could Start Wednesday: Report
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North Korea's ruling party could start a rare conference to pick a new leadership as early as Wednesday, Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing a source close to the issue.

Workers' Party delegates from different areas of the country had gathered in Pyongyang as of Monday and a delay to the start of the conference could have been due to flooding in August, Yomiuri quoted the source as saying.

The source denied South Korean media reports that the secretive North's ruling party had delayed the conference due to leader Kim Jong-il's health, Yomiuri said.

The Workers' Party (WPK) conference, bringing together the secretive state's ruling elite for the first time in 30 years, was called to appoint a new leadership and likely anoint an heir -- Kim's youngest son -- to the ruling dynasty as Kim's health deteriorates.

The meeting had been due to start anytime between September 1-15.

South Korea, China, the United States and Japan will all be watching for clues as to how the transfer of power proceeds in a country with a military-first policy and enough fissile material for at least six to eight nuclear weapons.

South Korean media reported this week that the conference had been delayed by Kim's health, which had worsened after a whirlwind five-day trip to China last month.

The 68-year-old is suspected of suffering a stroke in 2008, and failed to appear in public for months until 2009. He also looked frail during trips to China, the isolated North's only major supporter, over the past few months.

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U.S. Envoy Says Optimistic About Engagement with DPRK
Xinhua News Agency
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A special U.S. envoy on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Monday he is optimistic about ending an impasse in resolving the DPRK's nuclear issues in the near future.

"The problems that we're trying to address are no less urgent than they were previously. And I am optimistic that at some point in the not too distant future, we can be back engaged," Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for DPRK policy, said in a meeting with Seoul's acting foreign minister Shin Kak-soo.

The two agreed that Seoul and Washington should stick to the two-track approach of seeking dialogues and sanctions at the same time when dealing with Pyongyang, the foreign ministry said in a press briefing following the meeting.

The envoy also met with Wi Sung-lac, his South Korean counterpart, to discuss stalled six-party talks over denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They met earlier this month in Washington, in a possible indication of a fresh momentum in reopening the moribund talks. Bosworth declined to tell reporters when exactly the talks can resume.

Seoul and Washington had said Pyongyang should first apologize for its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March before the nuclear talks can be reconvened, but a recent flurry of diplomatic activities have raised hopes for an earlier resumption. The DPRK denies its role in the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.

The six-party talks hit a snag when Pyongyang unilaterally pulled out of them in April 2009 in protest against the UN condemnation of its rocket launch.

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C.  India

India to Approach IAEA on Liability Convention
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

India is likely to begin discussions this month with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for accession to the international Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC).

The Indian delegation to the IAEA General Conference, which begins in Vienna on September 20, will hold separate talks with secretariat officials on the issue. It will be led by Department of Atomic Energy Chairman Srikumar Banerjee.

Promise to U.S.

In September 2008, India promised the United States that it would “take all steps necessary to adhere to the CSC.” The commitment was made in writing in the run-up to Congressional approval of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement in 2008.

The CSC has many provisions but the main reason Washington wants India in the Convention is that it would bar victims of an accident resulting from nuclear equipment supplied by an American company from approaching the U.S. courts for compensation.

One of the requirements for adherence is that the member countries must pass a domestic nuclear liability law in conformity with the model statute contained in the CSC annex.


U.S. analysts have criticised section 17(b) of the Indian liability law as finally passed by Parliament because it opens the door to claims against suppliers and thus makes India ineligible for the Convention.

Indian officials, however, insist, the nuclear liability bill is CSC-compliant.

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D.  Nonproliferation

Nuclear Scrutiny to Turn to Israel
Jay Solomon
The Wall Street Journal
(for personal use only)

Arab states are preparing to press for far greater United Nations controls over Israel's nuclear program, in a move that could complicate the Obama administration's broader nonproliferation campaign and Middle East peace drive.

Beginning Monday, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will hold two sets of meetings in Vienna aimed at strengthening international efforts to stanch the spread of atomic weapons.

Arab diplomats say they are preparing to use the conferences—for the second consecutive year—to pass a resolution through the IAEA's member states aimed at bringing Israel's nuclear program under tighter international controls.

The resolution seeks to pressure Israel into signing the U.N.'s principal counterproliferation document, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and to place Israel's nuclear assets under IAEA safeguards. A similar resolution passed last year.

Israel is believed to be the only Middle East country to possess atomic weapons. Its government neither confirms nor denies their existence.

The U.S. has already begun trying to head off the Arab initiative, according to American and Arab diplomats, due to concerns it will distract from the conferences' focus on the proliferation cases of Iran and Syria.

U.S. officials said they are worried the Arab-led resolution could antagonize Israel just as direct Mideast peace talks are resuming in Egypt next week.

At a White House news conference Friday, President Barack Obama revealed that he had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend the freeze on Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories when the moratorium expires on Sept. 26.

Speaking about the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mr. Obama said: "What I've said to Prime Minister Netanyahu is that, given, so far, the talks are moving forward in a constructive way, it makes sense to extend that moratorium, so long as the talks are moving in a constructive way."

U.S. officials also said the Arab-led resolution could also cause Israel to reject any participation in a planned 2012 conference aimed at establishing a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

"Another resolution singling out Israel and ignoring proliferation issues like Iran and Syria would seriously diminish the chances for convening a 2012 meeting," said Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, in an interview.

International focus on Israel's nuclear program has heightened considerably over the past year, to the chagrin of Mr. Netanyahu's government.

The Arab states scored a diplomatic coup last year at the IAEA's General Conference by securing passage of a resolution targeting Israel.

The Obama administration then signed on in May to a U.N. statement that calls for the holding of the 2012 Mideast conference and for Israel to accede to the NPT, stirring tensions between the U.S. and Israel.

U.S. officials have emphasized that the actions outlined in the U.N. statement can be taken only following significant advances are made in the Middle East peace process.

The Obama administration has also pressed the Arab states not to single out Israel, due to fears it could undercut the peace talks and distract the international focus away from Tehran's nuclear program.

Arab diplomats counter that the IAEA has done little to implement the Israel-focused resolution since last year.

The IAEA's director-general, Yukiya Amano, visited Jerusalem in August but got no new commitments from Mr. Netanyahu's government, according to Israeli and IAEA officials. The IAEA also hasn't provided any detailed new accounting to its members on the state of Israel's nuclear program.

IAEA officials say the agency has little leverage over Israel, specifically because Jerusalem isn't bound by the NPT.

Arab diplomats, however, say they are seeking a more detailed accounting from Mr. Amano on how Israel could comply with the new resolution.

The Arab countries are also seeking international consensus on banning nuclear cooperation with Israel until it signs the NPT.

"We don't like Amano's current approach," said an Arab diplomat briefed on the new resolution being prepared for the IAEA.

U.S. and European officials said they plan on using the IAEA meetings to intensify pressure on Iran and Syria.

The IAEA issued new reports this week that reprimanded both Tehran and Damascus for continuing to deny U.N. inspectors access to sites alleged to be involved in covert nuclear work. The IAEA particularly criticized Iran's decision to deny two U.N. staff any future entrance to the country. Washington fears Tehran is increasingly shutting down monitoring of its nuclear sites, as its ramps up the production of nuclear fuel.

Mr. Davies has said the U.S. and its allies might push in coming months for the IAEA to conduct a "special inspection" of Syria's alleged nuclear infrastructure. Such a measure would compel Damascus to comply with Mr. Amano's requests or risk facing a U.N. Security Council censure, if not sanctions. Iran was hit with its fourth round of sanctions in June for its defiance of the U.N.

Israeli warplanes in 2007 destroyed a facility near the eastern Syrian town of Dair Alzour that the U.S. believes was a nearly operational nuclear reactor built in cooperation with North Korea. A subsequent IAEA visit to the site found significant traces of natural uranium. And in its most recent report, the agency detailed what it said were unreported experiments conducted by Syria that could be utilized to produce nuclear fuel.

This month, Syria and the IAEA agreed to an action plan that would allow U.N. monitors greater access to Damascus's research reactor, where the experiments were held. But Syria has continued to deny the IAEA any new visits to the site destroyed by the Israelis two years ago, or to make available officials and documents related to the facility.

"It's important for the agency ... to resolve all questions about the scope of Syria's undeclared nuclear activities," said Mr. Davies. "Ultimately the issue is gaining unfettered IAEA access to the Dair Alzour site, which we are confident was a secret nuclear reactor."

Syria denies it was developing a nuclear reactor. And Syrian officials said the IAEA won't be allowed to visit sites that have military purposes.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

EDF's De Rivaz Says First New U.K. Reactor Should Start Production in 2018
Kari Lundgren and Lars Paulsson
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Electricite de France SA, the world’s biggest operator of nuclear reactors, remains “on track” to start output at its first new atomic plant in the U.K. in 2018, according to Vincent de Rivaz, the head of its U.K. operations.

The utility, based in Paris, plans to build four reactors at the sites of existing nuclear stations at Hinkley Point in southwest England and at Sizewell in the southeast. It’s currently constructing its 59th domestic reactor at Flamanville in Normandy, which has been delayed by as much as two years, while a plant in China is on schedule.

In the U.K., where the company operates eight nuclear reactors after buying British Energy two years ago, EDF is “still on track to meet the overall timetable,” of generating electricity from a new reactor in 2018, de Rivaz, chief executive officer of EDF Energy Plc, said today.

“We are beginning to take the key decisions that will pave the way to our multibillion pound investment in the U.K.,” he said at a conference in London.

Utilities may spend as much as 6 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) per plant in Britain, Charles Hendry, the country’s minister of state for energy, said last month.

The Flamanville delay, which boosted costs by 25 percent to 5 billion euros ($6.4 billion), “allows us to capitalize on what we have learned” and the company is “applying lessons learned” in China, de Rivaz said today.

Hinkley Point, the first of the new plants, will boost the local economy by 100 million pounds every year during construction and employ 5,000 people, de Rivaz said. To date, the company has signed about 50 million pounds worth of contracts, the executive said.

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TEPCO to Boost Renewable Energy, Expand Overseas
Yuko Inoue
(for personal use only)

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), Asia's biggest utility, plans to bolster its renewable and nuclear energy operations and to expand its business in Asia, as it faces rising pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions and shrinking demand at home.

TEPCO said in a business plan unveiled on Monday that it will generate more than half of its power from non-fossil fuel sources in 10 years, up from one-third now, and invest 2.5 trillion yen ($30 billion) on low-carbon projects such as nuclear power facilities, liquid natural gas plants and development of a smart power grid.

It will also invest up to 1 trillion yen in growth areas, predominantly in overseas operations, with a focus on China and India.

Power companies account for about 30 percent of Japan's greenhouse gas emissions.

The sector is one of the world's biggest buyers of carbon credits from abroad and is expected to buy more as it struggles to meet self-imposed targets.

Japan's power companies have each pledged to cut CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour by 20 percent from 1990 levels over a five-year period to March 2013.

Japan's fuel oil use has been declining in the past few years as many industries shift to cleaner fuels for plant boilers and electricity companies move away from costly petroleum for their power generation needs.

"We are ready to participate actively in Asia's infrastructure projects," TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu told a news conference.

TEPCO aims to triple its overseas power generation to 10 million kilowatts in 10 years, mainly in China, India and other Asian countries, and will set up an office in Beijing by the end of March 2011, he said.

TEPCO aims to double profit from overseas businesses to 120 billion yen by the 2020/21 financial year.

Japanese firms have resolved to seek orders to develop nuclear power plants overseas, including in Vietnam, after they lost a nuclear plant order from the United Arab Emirates to South Korean firms.

TEPCO is among Japanese companies looking to offer technology for building nuclear power plants in Vietnam.

TEPCO will also hike its equity participation in LNG and uranium projects to stabilize its supplies, Shimizu said.

The company will increase its purchases of LNG from projects in which it participates to one-third of the total by 2020, up from the current 11 percent.

Acquisition of uranium from projects in which it holds a stake will rise to up to half of the total by 2020, from 8 percent at present.

TEPCO last month burned the highest volume of liquefied natural gas since August 2007, as a prolonged heat wave boosted demand for air-conditioning, monthly data showed on Wednesday.

TEPCO last month got the green light from Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission to restart operations at one of four nuclear reactors still shut at a quake-hit plant in northern Japan.

TEPCO will pump another 130.4 billion yen into Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd to help the company start operations at its nuclear reprocessing plant, boosting its stake in the company to 28.6 percent from the current 20.6 percent, the Nikkei business daily reported.

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F.  Links of Interest

Kingdom Enters Second Stage of Talks Over Nuclear Plant
Taylor Luck
The Jordan Times
(for personal use only)

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Barack Obama to Authorize Record $60bn Saudi Arms Sale
Ian Black
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

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Merkel's Nuclear Plans Are Legally Sound, German Minister Says
Patrick Donahue and Nicholas Comfort
(for personal use only)

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UN Nuclear Chief Chides Iran, Defends Monitors
George Jahn
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

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Nuclear-Armed Pakistan Expected to Chair IAEA Board
Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

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