U.S. and North Korean negotiators began a two-day meeting in Geneva on Monday, the second such encounter since six-party talks on nuclear disarmament collapsed more than two years ago.
The session, which follows talks in New York in late July, is aimed more at managing tensions on the divided Korean peninsula than resuming stalled regional talks on ending the North's nuclear programs.
"Talks have started. They are in the room and talking," a U.S. official said outside the American diplomatic mission in Geneva where the two sides were meeting in a conference room.
The two delegations, who are staying at the same Geneva lakeside hotel, held a roughly two-hour morning session and were to return after separate lunches at 2:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. EDT).
U.S. officials have described the talks as "exploratory" and aimed at keeping Pyongyang engaged so as to avoid any "miscalculations" by the reclusive nation.
U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth, accompanied by his successor Glyn Davies, and veteran North Korean nuclear negotiator Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan lead the respective delegations.
U.S. officials and analysts were keeping expectations low, despite a slight easing of tensions between American ally South Korea and North Korea and Pyongyang's repeated calls for resuming nuclear talks.
The six-party talks, including North Korea's ally China as well as Russia, Japan and South Korea, fell apart in 2009 when North Korea quit the process after U.N. sanctions were imposed following its second nuclear test.
China wants North Korea to deepen talks with the South and the United States in the hope of restarting nuclear negotiations, the Chinese vice premier told his North Korean counterpart, state media reported on Monday.
The six-party forum offers the North economic aid in return for dismantling its nuclear program which is believed to have yielded enough fissile material to make up to 10 atomic bombs.
Last year, the North unveiled a uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, which opens a second route to make a nuclear bomb along with its plutonium program, and argued it was for peaceful purposes. It says uranium enrichment falls outside the realm of previous six-party negotiations.
A September 2005 agreement reached by all sides does not specifically refer to uranium enrichment, only stating that the North must cease all nuclear activities.
Seoul and Washington insist that Pyongyang must first halt its nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment program, before six-party talks can restart.
South Korea said last week that Pyongyang's defiance over uranium enrichment remains the biggest hurdle.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has stated his readiness to return to the nuclear talks "without any preconditions." He says the North remains committed to fulfilling the September agreement with the aim of denuclearizing the entire peninsula.
Analysts say there is little chance the North will ever give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, seen as the ultimate bargaining chip and most effective deterrent against attack from the South, and that six-party talks are a long way off.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ruled out troop cuts in Asia as part of U.S. belt-tightening as he arrived in Japan on Monday, flagging concerns about a "reckless" North Korea and Chinese military assertiveness.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/24/us-korea-north-us-idUSTRE79N1Y020111024?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews
Jordan has warned Japan that if the Diet fails to ratify a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation accord by yearend, a Japan-France consortium will miss out on the chance to win a lucrative contract to build the country's first nuclear power plant, diplomatic sources said Saturday.
Khaled Touqan, Jordan's energy and mineral resources minister, met with Japanese officials in early October and requested that the Diet endorse the accord by the end of December, when the successful bid will be selected, the sources said.
A consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and French nuclear power company Areva SA is competing with Russian and Canadian firms to win contracts worth more than $4 billion (about ¥300 billion) to build the nuclear power plant.
Touqan said Jordan still believes Japan's nuclear technologies are among the best in the world, despite the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis, but stressed that Jordan cannot place an order with a Japanese company unless the Diet approves the pact in time, they said.
During the Diet session that ended in late August, the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee decided against holding a vote on the pact after an expert pointed out problems with the supply of coolant water at the planned site in Jordan.
But after inspecting the planned construction site and concluding the problems will likely be overcome, the Foreign Ministry is now urging both the ruling and opposition parties to put the accord to a vote, according to the sources.
The pact, which sets a legal framework for exporting nuclear power technologies for peaceful use and ensures nuclear nonproliferation, was signed by the two countries in September last year and has already been approved by the Upper House.
The accord will enable Japan to export nuclear power technologies and related equipment to Jordan, but some lawmakers in both the ruling and opposition parties remain cautious about ratifying it.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's government is promoting the export of Japan's nuclear technologies, while seeking to reduce the nation's dependence on atomic power in light of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster.
Jordan plans to start operating the plant by 2019.
Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111023a2.html
Australia said Thursday Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to pull out of a meeting of Commonwealth leaders next week has nothing to do with Canberra's refusal to sell New Delhi uranium.
Singh has decided to skip the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, hosted by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, but gave no explanation.
This led some commentators in Australia to conclude it was in retaliation for the Labor party's policy of not selling uranium to India because it is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Dennis Richardson said that was "flat wrong".
"There is not the slightest suggestion of that by the Indian government," he told a Senate estimates committee.
Although Australia uses no nuclear power, it is the world's third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, exporting some 9,600 tonnes of oxide concentrate annually worth over Aus$1.1 billion (US$1.1 billion).
It also holds the world's largest reserves of uranium.
Richardson said Singh's no-show was related to domestic issues and the fact that CHOGM comes shortly before the G20 leaders summit in France on November 3-4.
"Mr. Singh wishes to limit time out of his country," he said.
"I'm quite confident that Mr. Singh's decision does not relate to the issue of uranium."
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari will instead represent India at the Perth meeting from October 28-29.
Composed mainly of former British colonies, the 54-nation CHOGM will be officially opened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
CHOGM officials said they expected all other heads of state to attend.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jDZDmAs-vQ02wefiuyQz5WkhXcwQ?docId=CNG.b386ee2679a07087a13a4808dee6523f.531
3. Japan Asks Turkey to Proceed With Talks on Nuclear Power Plant Deal
The Japan Times
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Japan is asking Turkey to continue talks on a nuclear plant deal in the latter country, while confirming plans with the United States to strengthen their bilateral technical cooperation on atomic power.
The moves came Tuesday during talks between industry and trade minister Yukio Edano and his counterparts from Turkey and the U.S. in Paris on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency.
The overtures signal the government's willingness to pursue the export of nuclear power technology as an economic boost while seeking to reduce domestic nuclear dependence in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Since December, Turkey has given two Japanese companies — Toshiba Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Co. — priority rights to negotiate a deal to build a nuclear power plant.
But amid the devastating accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tepco signaled in July its intention to withdraw from the project. The focus is now on whether Turkey wants to continue the discussions.
Edano asked Turkey's energy minister, Taner Yildiz, to move the talks forward. "I would like you to continue (to positively) evaluate Japan's technology," he was quoted by Japanese officials as saying.
Yildiz indicated he will consider the matter in a forward-looking manner, the officials said.
In a separate meeting, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu pressed Edano to explain Tokyo's current stance on its atomic energy policy.
Edano said Japan intends to make use of its technology and knowledge of nuclear power in the international arena, while reducing its dependence on atomic plants for electricity generation at home.
To do so, the government will further promote Japan-U.S. cooperation, Edano was quoted as saying.
Edano also reached a basic agreement with Guenther Oettinger, the European Union's energy commissioner, to hold a ministerial dialogue on energy between the two sides next spring.
Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nb20111020a1.html
U.S. and Thai authorities have announced the completion of the first training workshop to combat nuclear proliferation.
The National Nuclear Security Administration completed the first-ever Pilot Weapons of Mass Destruction Commodity Identification Training workshop in Bangkok with Royal Thai Customs and the Royal Thai Government, an NNSA release said Thursday.
The comprehensive training program for customs officers is aimed at strengthening Thailand's ability to prevent the smuggling of sensitive commodities that could be used by terrorists or states involved in nuclear proliferation, the release said.
With the completion of the workshop, the course will be taught primarily by officials from the Royal Thai Government from now on, the NNSA said.
"Our work with Thailand to detect illicit WMD commodity transfers is an important example of NNSA's collaboration with international partners to respond to shared nuclear security threats," said Anne Harrington, NNSA deputy administrator for defense nuclear non-proliferation.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/10/20/US-Thailand-finish-nuclear-workshop/UPI-23791319135503/?spt=hs&or=tn
1. EU Threatens Iran With New Sanctions Over Nuclear Drive
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The European Union warned Iran on Sunday that it risks new sanctions if it fails to return to international talks aimed at easing concerns about its disputed nuclear programme.
In conclusions adopted at an EU summit, the council of 27 EU states "urges Iran to respect all obligations under international law."
"It expresses its continued concern over the expansion of Iran's nuclear and missile programmes, in violation of UNSC (UN Security Council) and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Resolutions," it said.
EU leaders also voiced worries about Iran's "lack of cooperation with the IAEA in addressing outstanding issues, including those pointing to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme." Talks between Iran and the so-called E3+3 -- Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States -- have hit a dead-end as Tehran refuses to meet international demands to freeze its dispute atomic programme.
"We urge Iran to enter into constructive and substantial talks with the E3+3 in a way to arrive at a comprehensive, negotiated, long-term solution of the nuclear question in order to avoid possible further restrictive measures," EU leaders said.
At the same time, EU leaders said they were asking their foreign ministers "to prepare new restrictive measures to be decided upon and to be implemented at the appropriate moment in the case that Iran continues not to cooperate seriously nor to meet its obligations."
The European leaders reiterated the "commitment of the European Union to work for a diplomatic solution of this issue."
The United Nations, the United States and the EU have already imposed a raft of sanctions against Iran since 2007 over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment activities.
EU leaders voiced satisfaction over new sanctions imposed by the 27-nation bloc over Iran's "unacceptable human rights violations" and measures against five Iranians in connection with a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jNWtbfEkJ9qJdooDOlQkZCZc6kxA?docId=CNG.7a1f679ced5b40465c22d8e765ab2046.581
2. Iran Nuclear Talks Could Resume Soon - EU's Ashton
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Major powers are willing to meet with Iran within weeks if it is prepared to "engage seriously in meaningful discussions" and address concerns about its nuclear programme, the European Union's foreign policy chief told Tehran in a letter on Friday.
In a long-awaited response to an offer of talks last month from Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Catherine Ashton made clear her position that there must be no repeat of the last round of talks, which took place in January in Istanbul and ended with no progress.
EU foreign policy chief Ashton has been leading efforts on behalf of six countries -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany and non-Western powers China and Russia -- to negotiate with Tehran over its disputed atomic activities.
Iran has said it is willing to resume discussions, but insists that other countries recognise its right to enrich uranium, a major stumbling block, particularly for Western diplomats who see it as an unacceptable precondition.
They want Iran to agree to suspend enrichment activity which they suspect forms part of a covert weapons programme, and answer questions raised by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
If Iran is ready to discuss concrete confidence-building measures without pre-conditions, "we would be willing to agree on a next meeting within the coming weeks at a mutually convenient venue," Ashton said.
"I welcome your suggestion to resume talks, in order to take fundamental steps for sustainable co-operation," she said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Her response to Jalili comes amid heightened U.S.-Iran tension. The United States accused Iran this week of a plot to kill the Saudi envoy to Washington, a charge Iran rejected as an attempt by its arch foe to further isolate it.
In Vienna, the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is next month expected to issue a report on Iran that will strengthen suspicions that it may be working to develop a nuclear missile. The document may provide the West with new arguments to impose further punitive steps on Iran.
But divisions have emerged among the six powers over the report, with Russia and China signalling concern it could hurt any chance for diplomacy and arguing Iran should be given time to study its content before it is published.
Western diplomats often accuse Iran of seeking further negotiations to buy time for its nuclear programme without making any major concessions.
The United Nations has tightened sanctions on Tehran, and the six powers have offered Iran economic and political incentives if it suspends enrichment.
Iran says it needs refined uranium for a planned network of power plants, and has the right to produce it.
"When moving to continuation of our talks, it is crucial to look for concrete results and not to repeat the experience of Istanbul," Ashton said. "We have to ensure that when we meet again we can make real progress on the nuclear issue."
She said the goal "remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear programme.
"In order to start such a process, our initial objective is to engage in a confidence-building exercise aimed at facilitating a constructive dialogue on the basis of reciprocity and a step-by-step approach," the letter added.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/10/21/idINIndia-60055220111021
3. Signs of Big Power Divisions Over Iran Nuclear Report
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Russia and China have urged the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief to give Iran time to study and respond to allegations of possible military-linked atomic activities before he publishes a report on the issue next month, diplomats said on Friday.
The move by Moscow and Beijing may be a sign of divisions among the six major powers -- also comprising the United States, France, Germany and Britain -- on how to best handle the long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.
Russia, which has commercial and other links with Iran, has proposed a step-by-step effort to defuse the nuclear standoff but Western diplomats have given the plan a cool response.
Iran has said it is willing to resume nuclear talks, and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a letter to Tehran on Friday a meeting between Iran and the powers could take place soon if Iran agreed to "engage seriously" over its nuclear programme.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop atomic weapons and have gradually increased the sanctions pressure on Tehran, which says it needs to refine uranium for a planned network of power plants.
Director General Yukiya Amano of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to present in detail next month the reasons for why he said in September he was "increasingly concerned" about Iran's nuclear work.
Western diplomats believe the document will heighten suspicions that Iran may be working on developing a nuclear missile and that it will strengthen their case to impose additional punitive measures on the major oil producer.
But the Russians and Chinese ambassadors to the IAEA presented a joint demarche to Amano this week arguing that Iran should be able to see the information and comment on it before it was published, one Vienna-based envoy said.
Apparently concerned that the report's timing could box Iran into a corner and damage any prospects for diplomacy, the envoy said they urged Amano to give Iran the "chance and time" to review and reply to its content.
Diplomats this week said that Russia feared that the upcoming IAEA report would undermine Moscow's initiative to resolve the nuclear dispute with Tehran.
Russia and China have backed four rounds of U.N. sanctions on Iran since 2006 over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear work that could have both civilian and military uses.
But they criticised the United States and the European Union last year for taking extra unilateral steps against Iran and Moscow has signalled its opposition to any new U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Since negotiations between the powers and Iran foundered in January, Russia has advocated a phased plan in which Tehran would address concerns that it may be seeking nuclear weapons, and be rewarded with an easing of sanctions.
Iran has said it is willing to resume discussions, but its insistence that other countries recognise its right to enrich uranium is a major stumbling block, particularly for Western diplomats who see it as an unacceptable precondition.
The Russian plan "could still provide some way forward, but it would need to be adjusted so that sanctions weren't lifted until real Iranian cooperation was gained," nuclear analyst Peter Crail said.
"Given the lukewarm response the proposal received from Tehran, I don't think there is anything that the IAEA report is likely to jeopardize on that front," said Crail, of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
Available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE79K5EU20111021?sp=true
1. Growing U.S. Interest Seen for Nuclear Test Ban Pact
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U.S. politicians are showing growing interest in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests, the head of the agency set up to monitor the ban said on Thursday, but it is uncertain when or whether lawmakers will adopt a pact that they rejected in 1999.
Tibor Toth, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), said approval by the U.S. Senate would be a "game changer" for the landmark treaty that was negotiated in the mid-1990s but has yet to take effect.
"I welcome increased interest in what we are doing," Toth told Reuters in an interview, adding this came from both Democrats and Republicans in the United States.
"In the last six-eight months, each three weeks on average, we had some sort of visit from the United States. We had nearly 10 percent of the U.S. senators in different delegations visiting us."
There is widespread international support for the test ban treaty, which has been ratified by about 155 states, but it cannot come into effect because some nuclear powers like the United States and China have not yet done so.
Proponents say U.S. ratification of the pact -- which Toth said had helped cut the number of tests to two in the last 10 years, both in North Korea, from several hundred in previous decades -- could encourage other holdouts to sign on.
The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama said in May it was preparing a push for approval of the treaty, arguing that Washington no longer needs to conduct such tests but needs to stop other countries from conducting them.
But it has not given a precise time when it would seek a Senate vote on the treaty, which the chamber rejected when fellow Democrat Bill Clinton was president. A two-thirds majority would be needed for approval.
"I think it is important that there is no rushed decision," Toth said, speaking at agency headquarters in Vienna.
Obama, who will seek a second term next year, has made clear he sees the test ban pact as a step toward his vision of a world without nuclear weapons, like the new START arms reduction treaty the Senate approved last year.
Toth said the other countries which also need to ratify the ban for it to enter into force -- India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, North Korea, Indonesia and Egypt -- should not wait for Washington to act. Of that group, four states -- India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel -- are outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran is part of the NPT but the West accuses it of seeking to develop a capability to build atomic bombs. Tehran denies the charge and says its nuclear programme is aimed at producing electricity for peaceful purposes.
"I don't think Iran should wait for U.S. ratification, as other countries should not wait for U.S. ratification," Toth said. "This is where Iran can send a strong message."
At the time of the Senate vote 12 years ago, opponents argued that a permanent end to testing could erode the reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The country last carried out a test nearly 20 years ago. Some also questioned whether cheaters could be detected.
Toth said "many things" had since changed -- a system to monitor the ban is 80 percent ready and as many as 182 states have signed the treaty -- and that the U.S. administration was now seeking to educate senators about the treaty and its merits.
But asked whether he believed the pendulum was swinging in favour of the ban in the United States and whether there was a growing acceptance that it was needed, he said: "I think the jury is out and I don't want to predict what will come out."
His organisation has a verification regime to detect any nuclear blasts, including more than 280 monitoring facilities across the globe -- a system that helped track radioactive particles from Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident in March.
"It is a system which can catch the mouse," Toth said.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/idINIndia-60022520111020
1. China May Lower 2020 Nuclear Target by 10%, Association Says
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China, the world’s biggest energy user, may cut its 2020 nuclear power capacity goal by about 10 percent under a revised development plan to be announced this year, said a group tasked to help implement atomic policies.
“The government wants to address public concern over the safety of nuclear development,” Li Yongjiang, vice president of the China Nuclear Energy Association, said in an interview in Hong Kong, where he is attending an industry conference. “Capacity will fall somewhere between 60 and 70 gigawatts, as some planned projects have to be scaled back or canceled.”
China aims to install 70 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by the end of the decade, the National Energy Administration said last year. The government halted approvals of new atomic stations after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant and the disaster spurred a global review of nuclear energy development.
The government has completed safety checks on the country’s nuclear plants, and inspectors will submit their findings to the State Council, or Cabinet, Li said in a speech. China’s long- term plan to develop atomic energy is unlikely to change significantly, he said.
Growth in China’s nuclear power industry will slow over the next five years, compared with the last five years, Zhang Guobao, the former head of the energy administration, said in a speech posted on the website of the China Nuclear Energy Association in August. Zhang, replaced by Liu Tienan in January as head of the administration, is currently serving on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The CPPCC is a political advisory body led by the Communist Party of China.
The State Oceanic Administration said on April 7 that China in the future will limit the number of reactors to be built on the coast. The country, constructing more reactors than any other, has at least 14 atomic units in operation, according to data from the World Nuclear Association.
The country, which started operating its first commercial nuclear plant in 1994, is building at least 27 reactors and has 50 more planned, according to the association.
“Nuclear power’s strategic importance in China’s energy sector has not changed,” Cao Shudong, assistant to the president of China National Nuclear Corp., the country’s largest atomic plant operator, said in an interview. “The Japan nuclear accident only made china pay more attention to nuclear safety and adopt more advanced technology.”
China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration, a department under the Environmental Protection Ministry, will increase its staff including inspectors to more than 1,000 from about 300. By contrast, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has almost 4,000 people overseeing 104 reactors, according to the NRC website.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-21/china-may-lower-2020-nuclear-target-by-10-association-says.html
Europe's oldest nuclear reactor at Britain's Oldbury power station will close down 10 months earlier than expected in February next year after operator Magnox decided that running the 44-year-old reactor was no longer economically viable.
"After looking at different scenarios, we made the economic decision to end generation in February 2012," said a spokeswoman for Magnox, which is owned by U.S. nuclear services company Energy Solutions.
The 225 megawatt (MW) reactor located in Gloucestershire was granted permission to run until the end of next year, while a twin reactor on the same site shut down for good at the end of June.
Both units were initially scheduled to shut down three years ago, but high safety standards on the site earned them a few more years of operation, Site Director Phil Sprague said.
"Oldbury has provided the UK with a vital source of power for over four decades, something that everyone who has worked at the site, past and present, should be very proud of," Sprague said.
The Oldbury reactor is four years older than Europe's second-oldest reactors at Wylfa in Wales and Santa Maria de Gerona in Spain, which both opened in 1971.
The nuclear site has produced over 130 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity since 1967, enough to power 1 million homes for 20 years, and featured in television series such as Doctor Who and Top Of The Pops.
A nuclear new build joint venture between German rivals E.ON and RWE has bought the Oldbury site, as well as a site at Wylfa, as part of its plan to build around 6,000 MW in new nuclear plants in Britain by 2025.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/21/britain-nuclear-oldbury-idUSL5E7LL3B420111021
1. TEPCO Looks to Raise US $262m for Nuclear Payouts
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Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, plans to sell part of its stake in a wind power utility to raise funds for compensation payouts, a report said yesterday.
The embattled company will sell a 20 percent interest in Eurus Energy Holdings to trading firm Toyota Tsusho for an estimated ￥20 billion (US$262 million), the Nikkei Shimbum reported. Eurus Energy, Japan’s largest wind power utility, is a joint venture owned 60 percent by TEPCO and 40 percent by Toyota Tsusho.
Of the ￥20 billion TEPCO will receive from the sale, about half will be used to finance payouts for victims of the nuclear accident triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Nikkei said, without citing a source.
TEPCO declined to confirm the report because “no decision has been made on the issue,” it said in a statement.
TEPCO is required to raise funds to meet compensation costs — estimated by a government panel at ￥4.5 trillion by 2013 — through cost cuts, asset sales and other restructuring, in addition to securing further state help.
Eurus Energy operates wind farms in the US, Europe and South Korea, as well as Japan.
With renewable energy attracting greater attention worldwide, TEPCO will maintain a 40 percent stake in the firm with an eye toward reaping gains on a future initial public offering, the Nikkei said.
Available at: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2011/10/24/2003516520
2. Seven Months On, Japan Yet to Finalize Nuclear Evacuation Plan
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Japanese nuclear experts are considering widening the evacuation zone in the event of a nuclear disaster, more than seven months after the world's worst such disaster since Chernobyl.
Japan faced widespread criticism over its slow response in evacuating residents near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered fuel rod meltdowns after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is still leaking radiation.
A committee under Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission has been reviewing the country's nuclear disaster prevention guidelines, trying to learn lessons from the worst nuclear disaster since 1986.
It is considering creating a 30-km (18-mile) radius around nuclear power plants where residents should be ready to take shelter or prepare to evacuate, a draft document compiled by the NSC secretariat and released by the NSC on Thursday showed.
This compares with a current zone of a radius up to 10 km.
It is also considering recommending that local authorities in a 50-km radius from plants be prepared to provide iodine tablets that help prevent thyroid cancers from radiation exposure.
The committee is planning to revise the draft document and finalize recommendations on evacuation zones next month. It plans to come up with a mid-term review this year, while it may take years to fully revise the guidelines, an official at the NSC secretariat said.
About 80,000 residents were forced to evacuate from a 20-km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the radiation crisis and some 30,000 more left the 20-30-km radius zone, though some are starting to come back.
Hours after a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11 damaged the cooling systems of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the government told residents within a 3-km radius of the plant to evacuate.
The reactor troubles then led to fuel core meltdowns and massive leaks of radioactive materials. The government expanded the zone to a 10-km radius on March 12 and later that day to a 20-km radius. Many fled their homes as radiation levels rose.
The United States and some other countries had advised its citizens to stay out of a 80-km radius of the Fukushima plant.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/21/us-japan-nuclear-idUSTRE79K24420111021
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