The project for Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant in Belene has met the international "stress-test" safety requirements, announced Russian state company Atomstroyexport, which is supposed to construct the Belene NPP.
"The multilateral analysis and international expert evaluations prove that the Belene NPP project provides for the highest safety level. This safety level meets all international standards and refers to the new generation of nuclear reactors 3+," Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russian state corporation Rosatom, said in a statement to the Bulgarian media Tuesday.
The report for the stress-test of the Belene NPP project has been drafted by Atomstroyexport, Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK, and international consultancy Worley Parsons.
It has focused on the technical project for the 2000 MW plant, and the Safety Probability Risk Analysis with respect to endurance to natural disasters.
The stress-test report has used the criteria of the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association. It has analyzed the potential consequences of earthquakes, floods, extreme climate factors as well as measures for crisis management.
The effects of a failure of the Belene NPP security systems in the event of calamities such as power loss and severe damages have also been researched, ASE said.
"The risk analysis has confirmed the reliability of the project solutions for the Belene NPP," the Russian company said.
The "stress-test" report on the Belene NPP project has been presented to the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulation Agency.
The mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the discussion of the additional assessment report for the safety of the Belene plant is to arrive to Bulgarian on December 12, 2011.
Nuclear stress-tests have been initiated after the devastating earthquake on March 11, 2011, damaged badly Japan's Fukushima NPP leading to radiation leaks.
Regardless of its meeting of safety standards, the fate of the Bulgarian Belene NPP project continues to remain unclear because of the continued haggling between Bulgaria and Russia for its cost, among other disputes.
Bulgaria and Russia have just reached an agreement to extend the negotiations over Belene nuclear project by another six months as of the beginning of October amidst continuing haggling over its price and feasibility.
Available at: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=132662
United Nations nuclear inspectors plan to meet Syrian officials this month to try to kickstart a long-stalled probe into a suspected reactor site bombed to rubble by Israel in 2007.
A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based U.N. agency, said on Tuesday that a meeting was scheduled to take place in Damascus on October 24-25.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said last month Syria had offered to cooperate with the agency's investigation into the destroyed Dair Alzour site after years of stonewalling.
Amano said he was hoping to get "full information" about Dair Alzour. The IAEA has also repeatedly asked for information about other sites that may have been linked to it.
U.S. intelligence reports have said that before the Israeli raid Dair Alzour had housed a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic weaponry.
Syria says it was a non-nuclear military facility, but the IAEA concluded in May that Dair Alzour was "very likely" to have been a nuclear reactor that should have been declared.
Western diplomats have expressed caution about previous offers of cooperation from Damascus.
Some Vienna-based diplomats have suggested that Syria's crackdown on pro-democracy protests could further complicate efforts to get the Arab state to cooperate on the nuclear issue.
In June, the IAEA board of governors voted to report Syria to the U.N. Security Council, rebuking it for failing to cooperate with the agency's efforts to get concrete information on Dair Alzour and other sites. Russia and China opposed the referral, highlighting divisions among the major powers.
Syria denies harboring a nuclear weapons program, as does its main regional ally Iran.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/04/us-nuclear-syria-iaea- idUSTRE79333P20111004
3. Nuclear Power Plant No. 2 Safe from Fuel Oil Leak: EPA
Focus Taiwan News Channel
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A fuel oil spill that polluted waters off northern Taiwan after a gravel vessel ran aground will not pose a safety hazard to the country's No. 2 nuclear power plant, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said Tuesday.
Andy I-fu Shen, deputy director of the EPA's Department of Water Quality Protection, said the spill had not yet spread to waters near the power plant, which is located about 10 kilometers down the coast from where the vessel met with disaster.
"The movement of the spill might be determined by seasonal winds and coastal currents," Shen said, adding that the EPA worked with state-utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) and the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to lay down oil containment booms as a precautionary measure.
The No. 2 nuclear power plant draws some of its cooling water from the nearby ocean.
The concern is that the fuel oil could contaminate the water used by the plant and damage the plant's cooling system itself.
Shen said the authorities have also prepared oil-absorbent sheets near Dawulun Port, Wanli Port and Waimushan Port -- the areas under biggest threat from the spill -- and will make use of them once the fuel oil closes in on the shoreline.
The spill occurred early Monday morning after the "Jui Hsing," a Panama-registered gravel vessel, ran aground near Keelung Harbor due to stormy weather. As of early Tuesday afternoon, six crew members were confirmed dead.
Available at: http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aSOC&ID=201110040010
1. Fears an Excluded Israel May Strike Iran's Nuclear Sites
The Sydney Morning Herald
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There are growing fears Israel's increasing isolation in the region has led it to consider a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, prompting a flurry of diplomatic activity and a public warning against any unilateral action from a former Mossad chief.
This week's visit by the US Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, is seen by some as a sign that the US is deeply concerned Israel could abandon the international sanctions regime against Iran and ''go it alone''.
Much has been made in the Israeli press of the fact Mr Panetta held his second meeting in two weeks with Israel's Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, where he stressed any action against Iran's nuclear program must be co-ordinated with the international community.
As Israel took an increasingly hard line on Iran, with the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that Iran's nuclear program posed a real threat to Israel and the rest of the world, the former Mossad chief Meir Dagan talked down the progress Iran had made on developing its nuclear program.
A military strike on Iran was ''far from being Israel's preferred option … there are currently tools and methods that are much more effective,'' he was reported as saying in Haaretz newspaper.
A spokesman for Mr Netanyahu played down the idea that Israel was considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran, pointing to interviews the Prime Minister recently gave in the US in which he urged the adoption of a tougher sanctions regime. When asked in one interview whether Israel would attack Iran, the Prime Minister noted: ''Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.''
Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations and the Arab Spring had ''eclipsed the Iranian issue'', which was the most important security concern for Israel.
''I do think that the Israelis are very concerned that the issue is no longer high on the international agenda,'' Professor Inbar said. He said the intervention by Mr Dagan could indicate the government was actively considering a pre-emptive strike.
''A successful strike [against Iran] would make Israel a real hero in the region,'' he said.
However, a senior fellow on Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, Bruce Riedel, said Mr Netanyahu's description of Iran as a threat to the entire world was overstating its danger. Iran was a dangerous country and a sponsor of terrorism but its military power was tiny when compared with Israel's, he said. ''Its weapons systems, most of which were bought by the Shah and are in many cases antiques, are slight in comparison to Israel.
''I think when you compare the balance of power, in virtually every field Israel is superior, starting with the fact that Israel has had nuclear weapons for nearly half a century and Iran, despite its claims, is not even close to developing them,'' adjunct Professor Riedel said.
He said Israel's increasing isolation in the face of the revolutions of the Arab Spring, and the recent Palestinian appeal in the UN, had led it to this point.
''It is a prime example of many Israeli politicians taking a 'worst case' approach to the developments in the region'', he said, but some of the developments could help Israel.
''The Arab Spring in Syria, for example, is in the process of removing one of Israel's oldest enemies - the Assad government - which will weaken Hezbollah and, in turn, Iran.'' However, an Israeli attack on Iran risked a war with Lebanon, Iran and possibly another war in Gaza, he said.
''No one is advocating this … but they want to divert the question away from Palestine, and the longer the issue is Palestine, the more isolated Israel is.''
The Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and Mr Netanyahu did appear to be considering their options regarding Iran, Moshe Ma'oz, an emeritus professor of Hebrew University's Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, said. He agreed with the assessment of Mr Dagan that any pre-emptive strike would be ''disastrous'', and instead urged Israel to settle the Palestinian issue as a way of reducing the tension with Iran.
''It will not solve the problem, but it will ease the tensions … and forge strategic alliances in the region on Iran.''
Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/fears-an-excluded-israel-mayike-irans-nuclear-sites-20111005-1l9m1.html
2. Former Mossad Chief: Iran Far From Achieving Nuclear Bomb
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Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said Monday that a military strike on Iran was "far from being Israel's preferred option," telling the Council for Peace and Security that "there are currently tools and methods that are much more effective."
Dagan also said Iran's nuclear program was still far from the point of no return, and that Iran's situation is "the most problematic it has been in since the revolution" in 1979.
But Israel's strategic situation is also "the worst in its history," he warned, adding that Israel itself has contributed a lot to this deterioration. As an example, he cited Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's decision to humiliate the Turkish ambassador last year by demonstratively seating him on a low chair.
Dagan made his remarks on the same day that visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta passed on a clear message from his boss in Washington: The United States opposes any Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
At a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Panetta stressed that any steps against Iran's nuclear program must be taken in coordination with the international community.
The United States, he said, is "very concerned, and we will work together to do whatever is necessary" to keep Iran from posing "a threat to this region." But doing so "depends on the countries working together," he added.
He repeated the word "together" several times in this context.
Panetta cited Iran's nuclear program as number one on the list of issues he had discussed with Barak. He voiced concern not only about the nuclear program, but also about Iran's support for terror, its efforts to undermine regional stability and the fact that it had supplied weapons that were used to kill American soldiers.
At the press conference, which took place at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, Panetta also stressed America's deep commitment to Israel's security.
His message for Barak, at their second meeting in two weeks, appeared to be simultaneously embrace and restrain: America is standing by Israel, but an uncoordinated Israeli strike on Iran could spark a regional war. The United States will work to defend Israel, but Israel must behave responsibly.
Washington has been worried by statements various senior Israeli officials have made recently that seemed to take an aggressive line on Iran. The issue has taken on new urgency because, in the view of many Western military experts, the window of opportunity for an aerial assault on Iran will close within two months.
In normal winter weather conditions, it would be very difficult to carry out such a complex assault.
During his visit, Panetta also urged Israel to conduct negotiations on a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority. Earlier, in a conversation with American journalists on the flight over, he had warned that Israel was suffering regional isolation following the crises in its relations with Turkey and Egypt.
Asked by reporters why the United States refuses to free Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for spying on Israel's behalf, Panetta replied merely that there is much opposition to freeing Pollard from within the administration, given the serious crimes of which he was convicted. Consequently, he said, U.S. President Barack Obama "and others" have made it clear that it won't happen.
Panetta also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as with senior PA officials in Ramallah. He made his way Tuesday to Egypt, where, according to reports in the Arab media, he will also discuss the release of Israeli-American Ilan Grapel, who was arrested a few months ago on suspicion of espionage.
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/former-mossad-chief-iran-far-from-achieving-nuclear-bomb-1.388090
3. Iran Will Become Major Exporter of Nuclear Equipment Soon: Nuclear Chief
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The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director has said on Tuesday that Iran will become a leading exporter of nuclear equipment in the near future.
“We have turned pressure and sanctions into opportunities. The country has attained self-sufficiency and, in the near future, we will be a major exporter of nuclear equipment in the world,” Fereydoun Abbasi told a gathering of young intellectuals in Tehran
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said that the AEOI has planned to construct new indigenized nuclear power plants to meet the target of producing 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity by the end of year 2025.
In September, Iran celebrated the initial launch of its first nuclear power plant, which is located near the port city of Bushehr on the coast of the Persian Gulf.
Once the plant becomes fully operational, it will generate 1000 megawatts of electricity, which will account for one-fortieth of the electricity output of the country.
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index.php/component/content/article/3201
4. Israel Fears Iran Will Copy Its Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity
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As Iran continues its development of a nuclear weapon, Israel is growing more concerned that the Islamic Republic will embrace a policy of ambiguity, similar to the policy upheld in Israel regarding its own alleged nuclear capabilities.
“The possibility that Iran would adopt such a policy is growing,” a senior government official involved in defense-related issues told The Jerusalem Post.
On Monday, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will arrive for talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak that will focus on the Iranian nuclear challenge as well as US efforts to help Israel retain its qualitative military edge in the Middle East.
Panetta will be met by an honor guard at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv and will later in the day lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Panetta’s visit comes after a visit last week by Adm. James Stavridis, commander of the United States European Command (EUCOM).
Iran has mastered the fuel enrichment stage of its nuclear program and has proven its ability to enrich uranium to as high as 20 percent. General assessments are that if it so decides, it would take Iran just a number of months for it to enrich a sufficient quantity of uranium to over the 90% that would be required for one nuclear device.
Another alarming element for Israel is Iran’s announcement last month that it is moving a cascade of advanced centrifuges to the Fordo facility dug inside a mountain near Qom that Barak said in 2009 was immune to standard air strikes.
The current assessment in Israel is that Iran is working to accumulate a large quantity of low-enriched uranium that will enable it at a later stage to reprocess the material and enrich a larger quantity to higher levels and manufacture a number of nuclear devices.
“Iran very well could continue on its current course for a while, during which it continues to enrich uranium like it is today but without going to the breakout stage and publicly making a nuclear weapon,” the senior official said.
If that were to happen, the concern in Israel is that Iran would not immediately declare that it has developed a nuclear device – assuming that it did so without expelling international inspectors from Natanz – to avoid providing the world with the justification to either increase sanctions or to use military action to stop it.
Available at: http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=240286
1. Japan’s Role in Six-Party Nuclear Talks Uncertain
The Korea Herald
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North Korea has met with both the U.S. and South Korea on the resumption of the six-party talks aimed at its denuclearization. China and Russia have already spoken forcefully in favor of the talks’ resumption.
But what role Japan is willing to take should they resume is unclear.
This question is significant as the North has sought normalization with Japan for two decades to end its isolation and ease shortages in food and energy. Japan, along with the other members of the six-party talks, has also in the past promised aid to the North in exchange for the closing of the nuclear facility at Yongbyon.
But as the South and the U.S. appear to be warming to the idea of resuming the talks, relations between Japan and the North are as frosty as ever.
Kim Sung-han, professor of international relations at Korea University, believes Japan will not take a different position from its allies.
“Basically, Japan is on the same page with South Korea and the United States,” he said in a telephone interview. “Their government has not shown its own independent stance on the topic.” Kim highlighted the mutual sentiment among the U.S. and South Korea that the North must first take actions such as allowing the return of inspectors to Yongbyon and halting its nuclear tests and missile launches.
“I don’t know if these should even be called ‘conditions,’ but it is definitely the attitude of the U.S. and South Korean governments saying the North needs to meet these qualifications,” he said. “So the U.S. government and South Korea keep pushing the North Korean government to fulfill the pre-conditions seriously while Japan is just quietly following these two governments’ opinion.”
However, one Japanese expert at the Washington, D.C.-based Henry L. Stimson Center, a global security think tank, said that getting Japan to offer aid to the North again will not be easy. At least some of that has to do with issues unrelated to the North, including Japan’s volatile political environment ― current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is their sixth since 2006.
And then there is the March 11 earthquake, its resulting deadly tsunami and the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor.
“Even without the disaster on 3/11, the Japanese domestic political situation has been making it difficult for Tokyo to engage in the six-party process (and all the other major diplomatic initiatives),” said Yuki Tatsumi, senior associate at Stimson Center, via email.
And finally there is the ongoing distrust between the two sides, which dates back at least to Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea.
The left-of-center Democratic Party of Japan swept into office in 2009 following a historic election that drummed out the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party. Tatsumi, though, dismissed the idea that the DPJ would regard the North any differently than the LDP.
This stems back to the North’s abduction of Japanese citizens between 1977 and 1983. Kim Jong-il himself apologized for 13 abductions in 2002, and the North later returned five abductees and produced evidence that the rest had died.
However, Japan later disputed whether a body North Korea returned to Japan was really Megumi Yokota ― a Japanese national kidnapped as a 13-year-old in 1977 who the North claims committed suicide in 1994. Japan also has said that as many as 12 of its citizens may still be in the North.
If so, this means the North’s admission and its actions since, intended to normalize relations between the two, have actually had the opposite effect.
“It makes it completely impossible for Japanese political leaders to appear to be ‘flexible’ toward North Korea,” Tatsumi said.
In July, a delegation of Japanese lawmakers, joined by relatives of the kidnapping victims, pleaded with the U.S. not to give food aid to North Korea. Aid, they said, would be diverted away from those in need and would take pressure off the regime to reveal the truth about the fate of those kidnapped.
At the time, the Japanese government reaffirmed that it had no plans to provide aid to the North.
Until there is a convincing effort by the North to reveal what happened to those Japanese citizens, Tatsumi said Japan will not be interested in providing additional aid, and the other nations involved in the process may have to proceed without their help.
“... It is simply not permissible for the Japanese government to appear ‘soft’ on North Korea, especially when there is no meaningful progress in the abduction issue,” she said.
“I think it is ultimately the responsibility for the Japanese government to define what the ‘resolution of the abduction issue’ means,” she said. Family members of the victims, such as Megumi Yokota, are likely to continue to insist that the abductees are still alive in North Korea and not settle for anything short of their return.
“But it is probably not realistic to hope for such kind of ‘resolution,’” said Tatsumi, who also doubts the North will be able to produce convincing evidence that the abductees died.
“If that is the case, the Japanese government must come up with a formulation by which it can begin to re-engage in the six-party talks while continuing to press North Korea on this issue,” she said. “But in the absence of that development, it is too politically poisonous for any Japanese leader to advocate for Japan to provide any types of aid to North Korea.”
Even if the six-party talks were to resume, Tatsumi said she does not expect any type of breakthrough in the near future.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20111005000870
South Korea named a former senior diplomat to China as its new chief nuclear negotiator, apparently noting the growing importance of Beijing in restarting multinational effort on disarming North Korea.
Lim Sung-nam, formerly minister at the Korean Embassy in China, will officially take the new post beginning Thursday, taking over from his predecessor Wi Sung-lac who served as Seoul’s special representative for peace and security affairs on the peninsula from 2009-2011.
The role of the chief nuclear envoy is important as members of the six-nation dialogue are continuing discussions over when and how to resume the stalled denuclearization talks.
The multinational dialogue, involving the two Koreas, China, Russia, the U.S. and Japan, has been suspended since the last round at the end of 2008 after Pyongyang left the talks claiming other dialogue partners had failed to keep their promise over aid.
North Korea, suffering from deepening financial and diplomatic isolation, has been striving to return to the aid-for-denuclearization table with China as the mediator between other regional powers.
Lim, educated at South Korea’s top Seoul National University and Harvard University in the U.S., joined the Foreign Ministry in 1981.
The 53-year-old senior diplomat has served various posts including special advisor to the foreign minister, director-general at the North Korean nuclear affairs bureau in the ministry and senior coordinator for Seoul-Washington security cooperation.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20111005000793
3. N. Korea Rejects Preconditions for Nuclear Talks
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North Korea on Tuesday rejected US preconditions for a resumption of long-stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, saying Washington is trying to shift the blame for the failure to restart dialogue.
"If preconditions are necessary for the resumption of the talks, it is essential to set preconditions on the basis of equality for all," the North's official news agency said.
"The DPRK (North Korea) calls for resuming the talks without preconditions. But the US is creating wrong impression that there are things which the DPRK has to do first for the resumption of the talks," it said.
"The US talk about preconditions is little short of an artifice to shift the blame for the failure to resume the six-party talks onto the DPRK."
The North quit the six-party forum on its nuclear disarmament in April 2009 and staged a second nuclear test a month later. It has expressed willingness to return but without prior conditions.
The United States and South Korea say the North must first show it is serious about the process, notably by shutting down a uranium enrichment programme which could be reconfigured to make bombs.
They also call for UN atomic inspectors to be readmitted to the North.
Last month, the nuclear envoys of South and North Korea held a second meeting in as many months to try to lay the groundwork for the resumption of nuclear talks. No significant progress was reported.
US and North Korean officials met separately in New York in late July, and there are media reports that another meeting is planned. The forum also includes China, Russia and Japan.
Peter Hughes, the outgoing British ambassador to Pyongyang, last week cast doubt on North Korea's willingness to denuclearise, saying its officials believe Libya's regime would have survived had it kept its nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iKr0fUw5SUVtmytZABCLu_81WRJA?docId=CNG.6185d845b10c9bd3444cb7c3c9426b41.371
2. British Firm Seeks Nuclear Partnerships with India
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Britain’s Lloyd's Register, well known for its maritime interests, is reportedly close to signing a nuclear agreement with India.
Lloyd's Register CEO Richard Sadler is currently in India to look for new business. Sadler told journalists that Lloyd's Register is a major advocate of nuclear power in shipping, commenting, "It will be the way forward and a safe way," The Asian Age reported.
Lloyd's Register is now involved with 30,000 megawatts of power projects in India as they inspect the manufacturing end of the supply chain to help ensure a consistent and reliable energy flow.
According to Sadler, Lloyd's Register’s non-maritime activities are now worth close to half of its total annual global turnover of $1.33 billion.
Sadler noted that Lloyd's Register have substantial business interests in China and could consequently help Indian power companies develop their supply chain, as there have been numerous complaints about cheap Chinese power equipment supplied to India causing problems and requiring expensive high maintenance.
Sadler added that Lloyd's Register is also interested in possible Indian defense contracting, commenting, "The Indian Navy is part of the Commonwealth navies and we see an opportunity in defense. We are already working with (India's engineering major, Larsen & Toubro Ltd.) L&T who have a defense contract with the Indian Navy."
Available at: http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/British-Firm-Seeks-Nuclear-Partnerships-with-India.html
3. IAEA Pledges to Help Vietnam Develop Nuclear Power
Malaysian National News Agency
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made a pledge to help developing countries like Vietnam to implement and apply nuclear energy in its economic development.
Making the pledge, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said IAEA will also to assist Vietnam in finalising a law on ensuring nuclear energy safety, building nuclear energy infrastructure, completing management apparatus in the field and sharing experience in applying nuclear energy in socio-economic development.
"Nuclear energy is not only for developed countries," Vietnam news agency quoted him as saying after meeting Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh at a reception here on Monday.
Amano also spoke highly of Vietnam's efforts to apply nuclear energy into socio-economic development and said he believes that Vietnam will soon be successful in the field.
Praising Vietnamese goverment's effort in ensuring nuclear safety, he hoped that the cooperation between IAEA and Vietnam will be further accelerated and more effective.
Meanwhile, Deputy PM Ninh said Vietnam's relatively fast economic development has produced an increasing demand for energy and nuclear energy is a solution that Vietnam needs in the future.
Vietnam pledges to apply nuclear energy to its socio-economic development for peaceful purposes, said Ninh.
Available at: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=617449
1. Japan Criticized for Pushing Nuke Plant Exports Despite Accident
The Mainichi Daily News
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Japan has been given the Fossil of the Day "award" at a U.N. climate change conference in Panama for pushing a scheme to promote its exports of nuclear power generation technologies to developing countries as a way of curbing global warming, an international environmental group said Monday.
The Climate Action Network, which groups some 700 nongovernmental organizations in 90 countries, said in a press release it had given Japan "first place" in the award for pushing for a mechanism for exporting nuclear technology despite the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The network said the Fukushima calamity "certainly destroyed the myth that nuclear power is safe and clean" and rapped Japan for its failure "to learn an important lesson from the accident."
Workers at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant stand around the radioactive water decontamination system
Workers at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant stand around the radioactive water decontamination system "Sally" in this photo provided by TEPCO.
In a working group meeting on climate change in the Central American country, Japan refused to drop the option of including a scheme under which exporters of nuclear plants to developing countries can earn emissions credits in the so-called "clean development mechanism," the network said.
The mechanism under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol allows developed countries engaged in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries to acquire credits.
"This means the country still wants to export the technology that brought tremendous hardship upon its own nation to developing countries and then earn credits from this," the network said said. "It is inappropriate, irresponsible and even morally wrong, given the fact that the Fukushima reactors are still in a very dangerous situation."
Following the Fukushima disaster, the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl, Japan has vowed to reduce its reliance on nuclear power generation.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office in early September, has said Tokyo will deal with nuclear power technology exports based on lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.
Nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono defended Japan's stance at the U.N. conference, saying at a Tokyo press conference Tuesday that the country had simply repeated its existing position.
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111004p2g00m0dm048000c.html
2. Nuclear Seeps Back Into Favour as Japan Begins Energy Debate
Shinichi Saoshiro and Linda Sieg
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Former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan concluded in March that nuclear power was no longer worth the risk after the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years. His successor seems less convinced.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's month-old government let a panel of experts begin debate on Japan's energy policy on Monday, but Noda has already signaled that nuclear power could play a role for decades.
Six months after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant, which is still leaking radiation, critics say powerful pro-nuclear interests are quietly fighting back.
"It's been a real bad year for the 'nuclear village' but I don't think they are down and out," said Jeffrey Kingston, Director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Japan campus, referring to the utilities, lawmakers and regulators who long promoted atomic power as safe, clean and cheap.
Public concern about safety leapt after the Fukushima accident, which forced 80,000 people from their homes and sparked fears about food and water supply. Some 70 percent of voters polled in July backed Kan's call to phase out nuclear plants.
A series of scandals in which regulators and power companies tried to sway hearings on reactors has also dented public trust.
Noda has acknowledged that public safety concerns will make it tough to build new reactors, but on Friday stopped short of saying atomic power would play no role at all by 2050. He said decisions on reactors already under construction would have to be made "case-by-case."
The panel is led by the chairman of steel industry giant Nippon Steel Corp, a heavy user of electricity and considered partial to nuclear power, but also includes those opposed to atomic energy.
Public safety fears remain high. Tens of thousands rallied in Tokyo last month urging an end to nuclear power, a hefty showing in a country where taking to the streets is rare.
Their concerns include how to deal with increasing nuclear waste, such as the Fukushima reactors. Japan, the world's third-biggest nuclear generator, has postponed a decision on where to build a nuclear waste repository.
The operator of the crippled reactors, Tokyo Electric Power Co, faces a huge compensation bill, estimated at 4.5 trillion yen ($58 billion) for the two years through March 2013 alone, and will need funds from a government-backed scheme to stay solvent.
The government, analysts say, has made clear it views Tokyo Electric as too big to fail.
"That rickety scheme, though it is not explicit, would see the monopoly maintained and nuclear plants continue to be used," said Andrew DeWit, a Rikkyo University professor who writes about energy policy.
Yet Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who was chief cabinet secretary for former leader Kan and now oversees energy policy, said on Monday the panel should take into account a change in public views for atomic power.
"The debate should not start from the current status but rather show what the country should be in the future, then discuss how it can quickly approach there," he told the panel.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/03/us-japan-nuclear-policy-idUSTRE7920RA20111003
Finnish nuclear power consortium Fennovoima said it would build a reactor in Pyhajoki, northern Finland -- the first announcement of a new site anywhere in the world since the March disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan.
The reactor project, estimated to cost around 4-6 billion euros ($5-8 billion), comes as Finland tries to curb its dependence on Russian energy and help its metals and forestry businesses stay competitive.
Environmentalists oppose the project, citing the area's vulnerable vegetation and wildlife, while proponents of nuclear policies say the Finnish economy cannot afford to phase out nuclear power, as Germany is doing.
Finland's long, cold winters require high energy consumption, and its forest and steel sectors rely on cheap and stable electricity.
The site is due to provide energy to Fennovoima's shareholders including stainless steel maker Outokumpu, retailer Kesko and the local subsidiaries of Swedish metals firm Boliden. Construction in Pyhajoki, on the Hanhikivi peninsula, is expected to begin in 2015, and Fennovoima's chief executive said the company will choose a supplier in 2012 or 2013. Areva and Toshiba have been invited to bid on the project.
"We will get offers from equipment makers in January. After we have gone through those and chosen the deliverer, we can apply for construction permit from the government," CEO Tapio Saarenpaa told a news conference on Wednesday.
Fennovoima said it picked Pyhajoki over Simo, another municipality that was considered a leading candidate site, because of its lower seismic values and more solid bedrock.
Finland's parliament voted in July 2010 to back the building of two new nuclear reactors by Fennovoima and utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), raising Finland's total to seven.
The Fukushima disaster prompted Finland to launch a review of nuclear safety, but there has been little questioning among lawmakers over whether Fennovoima should proceed.
The country's supreme administrative court overruled appeals over Fennovoima's nuclear project on September 21, clearing the way for the site selection.
German utility E.ON has a 34 percent stake in Fennovoima through its Finnish subsidiary, and an official said nuclear energy was a cost-efficient way to produce energy.
"The additional safety measure which may be requested by the authorities after Fukushima will not significantly change the economic competitiveness of nuclear energy," Ralf Gueldner, who heads E.ON's nuclear fleet and is a member of Fennovoima's board, told reporters in Helsinki.
He added Finland was a "rather attractive site" for a nuclear reactor due to strong political support on the national and local level, and from the general public.
But not everybody is enthusiastic. Around 10 people demonstrated outside Wednesday's news conference in Helsinki, carrying plaques saying "E.ON E.OFF - German nuclear power to Finland? No thank you."
Environmentalists, who note the area's rare vegetation and location along a migratory route for birds, have said they will take the case to the European Union.
"The decision conflicts greatly with natural values in the area and shows disregard for environment and also EU legislation," local environmental activist group Pro Hanhikivi said in a statement.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-finland-nuclear-idUSTRE7941VD20111005
Members of several anti-nuclear groups who are part of the Stop New Nuclear alliance say they are barring access to Hinkley Point power station in Somerset in protest against EDF Energy's plans to renew the site with two new reactors.
The new reactors at Hinkley would be the first of eight new nuclear power stations to be built in the UK.
Stop New Nuclear spokesman Andreas Speck said: ''This is the start of a new movement. We intend this day to be a celebration of resistance against the Government and EDF Energy's plans to spearhead the construction of eight new nuclear power plants around the UK.
'This is blockade shows that people who understand the true dangers of nuclear power are prepared to use civil disobedience to get their voice heard.
''The Government has hoodwinked the public into believing that we need nuclear power to keep the lights on. But this is totally untrue.''
The protesters said they began their blockade at about 7am, with a theatrical troupe who "enacted a nuclear disaster scenario similar to Fukushima", the power plant which was badly damaged during the earthquake which struck Japan on March 11 this year.
Most are local people but demonstrators have also come from Belgium and Germany, a spokesman said.
Hinkley was one of eight sites the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed in June as being suitable for new nuclear power stations to be built.
The others are Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.
A spokesman for EDF Energy said the number of protesters was closer to 100 and they had not chained themselves to any structures at the entrance to the site.
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8803363/Protesters-blockade-nuclear-power-station.html
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