US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here Monday that international sanctions have made it "much more difficult" for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
Kicking off a three-country Gulf tour, the chief US diplomat also accused Iran of opposing a negotiated Palestinian-Israeli settlement to distract attention from fears it is bent on becoming a nuclear-armed country.
"The most recent analysis is that the sanctions have been working," Clinton told university students in Abu Dhabi in a programme to be broadcast on the Arab television channel, MBC.
"They have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions. Iran has technological problems that has made it slow down its timetable," the chief US diplomat said.
"So we do see some problems within Iran. But the real question is how do we convince Iran that pursuing nuclear weapons will not make it safer and stronger but just the opposite?" she said.
Clinton has in the past said sanctions have begun to hurt Iran economically, forcing it to return to negotiations, but she has not previously said Iran's nuclear programme has been affected.
Iran says its aims are peaceful, denying charges by Israel and the West that its uranium enrichment work masks a drive for nuclear weapons.
Clinton's remarks echoed those made in Israel about Iran's nuclear timetable slowing down.
As her plane landed here Sunday at the start of a Gulf tour, Clinton urged Arab states in the Gulf to stay focused on sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.
"We don't want anyone to be misled by anyone's intelligence analysis," Clinton told reporters.
"We expect all of our partners who share that concern (over Iran)... to stay as focused as they can and to do everything within reason that will help to implement these sanctions," she said.
In Jerusalem on December 29, Israel's strategic affairs minister Moshe Yalon said Iran's nuclear programme has been beset by difficulties, leaving Tehran still about three years away from being able to build nuclear weapons.
She raised anew concerns that a nuclear-armed Iran would fuel an arms race in the region.
Clinton also accused Iran of complicating efforts for Arab-Israeli peace.
"Let me just be very blunt here. There is very little doubt that Iran does not want to see any kind of negotiated peace between the Israelis and Palestinians for its own purposes," Clinton said.
"It wants to keep its attention off of what is the big concern for the future, which is a nuclear-armed Iran with weapons that threaten its neighbours and beyond," she said.
The United States accuses Iran of financial and military support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and the militant Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.
She also defended President Barack Obama's administration against charges from her interviewer it has failed to deliver on its promises to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
"The United States is committed to a two-state solution," she said, adding Washington sought a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
"And we are pursuing that every single day," she said, adding the administration was trying to build trust between the two sides for them to take the risks needed for a settlement.
She revived US charges that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat missed an opportunity for peace while her husband Bill Clinton was president in 2000.
She however praised the progress that the US-backed Palestinian Authority has made toward building the institutions needed for a state.
"Let's make sure we don't let this moment pass," Clinton said, referring to the Obama administration's commitment to peace.
Clinton's five-day tour will also take her to Dubai, Muscat and Doha.
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The Iranian authorities have arrested a "network of spies" which they say was behind the assassination of a nuclear scientist a year ago, state TV reports.
In a brief statement, the authorities said the network was linked to Israel's Mossad secret service.
Iran blamed US and Israeli agents for the killing at the time.
Separately, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said international sanctions have slowed Iran's progress towards developing nuclear weapons.
Massoud Ali Mohammadi, a 50-year-old university lecturer at Tehran University, was killed by a remote-controlled bomb on 12 January 2010 as he left his home in Tehran.
Iran's intelligence ministry said Mossad had used bases in certain European and non-European countries as well as Iran's neighbouring states for the purpose of the assassination, as well as other activities, Fars news agency reported.
The ministry said months of complicated measures and access to sources in the Israeli regime led to the finding of "very important and sensitive" information about Mossad spy teams, which inflicted heavy damage on Israel's information and security structures, Fars reported.
Iran has blamed the intelligence services of Israel, the US and the UK over bomb attacks against two top nuclear scientists in November last year, Majid Shahriari, who died, and Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, another top nuclear expert who was wounded in a similar attack.
At the time, Iran's state media said Mr Mohammadi had been assassinated by counter-revolutionaries, Zionists and agents of the "global arrogance".
Washington later dismissed the accusation as "absurd".
Although described by the Iranian media as a nuclear scientist, scientists in the UK and the US said, from his substantial body of published research, Mr Mohammadi was unlikely to have been working on Iran's nuclear programme.
They said his expertise was in another field of physics altogether - quantum mechanics.
Sanctions delay Speaking in Abu Dhabi as part of a tour of the Gulf, Mrs Clinton said sanctions had made it much more difficult for Tehran to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
She said Tehran had also been facing technical problems, but she did not get drawn into discussing a timeline.
She called for international pressure to be maintained, and urged caution about a recent Israeli government assessment that Iran was still three years away from being able to build a nuclear weapon.
It is the first time the Obama administration has so openly and publicly claimed that Iran's nuclear programme is facing difficulties, says BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas, who is travelling with Mrs Clinton.
Mrs Clinton is in the Gulf partly to urge Washington's allies in the region not to let up the pressure on the Iranian leadership and to continue enforcing UN sanctions, our correspondent adds.
There has been much controversy over Iran's nuclear activities.
Tehran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes, but the US and other Western nations suspect it of seeking to build nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12149864
Iran says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is fully aware of its responsibilities and does not need EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton to remind it of its tasks.
The reaction came after Ashton declined Iran's invitation to tour country's nuclear facilities, including Natanz enrichment facilities and Arak heavy water reactor, saying the task should be carried out by the IAEA.
Last Tuesday, Tehran invited envoys representing geographical and political groups in the Vienna-based IAEA, including some members of the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the US plus Germany --, the European Union, the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, to tour Iran's nuclear sites.
"We will be welcoming the fact that Iran is interested in having those visit at the sites, but the role and responsibility for doing that rests with the IAEA,” Ashton said.
Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran's Majlis (parliament) Alaeddin Boroujerdi slammed Ashton's rejection of Iran's invitation, saying there is no logic behind the West's decision to decline Tehran's offer.
"The Islamic Republic has demonstrated its sincerity through inviting representatives and diplomats of various countries to visit its nuclear sites," IRNA quoted Boroujerdi as saying on Sunday.
Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the IAEA is currently conducting its inspections regularly and its cameras are active too, the senior Iranian legislator added.
Iran's invitation comes ahead of multifaceted talks with six major world powers, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany scheduled for late January in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
“What the countries such as the United States are doing is only inventing excuses because the invited states can get familiar with Iran's nuclear sites by visiting them, Boroujerdi argued.
The senior Iranian politician cited Iran's initiative as the state's winning card in the upcoming Istanbul talks.
“Europe has turned down Tehran's offer, because it does not want to face this positive privilege of the country in future talks,” he further explained.
The Vienna representatives of different countries paid a similar visit to Isfahan's Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in 2006.
During the visit, which is scheduled for January 15 and 16, the visiting ambassadors are set to meet with Iranian officials as well.
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of pursuing secret military intentions in its nuclear work, a claim strongly rejected by Tehran.
Iran has repeatedly refuted Western claims that it is following a military nuclear program, arguing that as a member of the IAEA and a signatory to the NPT, it has the right to use peaceful nuclear energy.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/159443.html
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on Arab nations in the Persian Gulf that do business with Iran to step up enforcement of international penalties against Tehran.
Clinton tells reporters who traveled with her from Washington that Iran's nuclear program is "a serious concern." She says the U.S. expects its allies in the Gulf and elsewhere to "do everything within reason" to help ensure that the sanctions are in place.
She arrived Sunday in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It's the first stop of a three-nation tour that includes visits to Oman and Qatar.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gwUmA9H5ktuZm1Q8bOzJ97L102aQ?docId=e6d59a4c3acf4f9993fb435b6b735877
A senior Iranian lawmaker says the upcoming comprehensive talks between Iran and the world powers aim at clarifying the country's position in solving global problems.
“During the talks in Istanbul the nuclear rights of our nation will not be discussed, what will be addressed will be Iran's participation in resolving international problems,” Mohammad Karamirad, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said on Sunday.
Iran and the P5+1-- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany -- spearheaded by EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, met in December.
The talks, the first between the two sides in more than a year, took place after Western powers expressed willingness to return to the negotiating table. The next round of comprehensive talks between Iran and the P5+1 will be held in Istanbul on January 21 and 22.
Iran has repeatedly said that any talks with the P5+1 will not include the nuclear issue as the case has been "resolved." The country is, however, willing to discuss the issue of a nuclear fuel swap within the framework of the Tehran declaration.
The declaration signed between Iran, Turkey and Brazil on May 17, 2010 in Tehran, provides for the Islamic Republic to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for the higher enriched fuel it needs for the Tehran research reactor which produces radioisotopes for treatment of cancer patients.
The trio's agreement was issued as part of efforts to end the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.
The US and its European allies, however, snubbed the declaration and used their influence on the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear work.
The US and other Western nations accuse Iran of developing nuclear technology in order to build weapons -- and allegation strongly refuted by Iran.
Iran says that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to the peaceful applications of nuclear technology for electricity generation and medical research.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/159348.html
6. Iran Increases Stockpile of Higher Enriched Uranium, Defying UN Demands
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Iran has increased its stockpile of uranium enriched to higher levels, the country's nuclear chief said Saturday, in defiance of UN demands to halt the program.
Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi also said Iran has built a plant to make nuclear fuel plates and rods in Isfahan. That would allow Iran to produce its own reactor fuel and give it more leverage against the West. But Western experts have disputed whether Iran has the technological capability to produce plates and rods when Tehran made similar claims in the past.
Iran's refusal to stop enrichment lies at the heart of its dispute with the West over the country's nuclear program.
Salehi, who is also Iran's acting foreign minister, said Tehran now has 40 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, up from 30 kilograms reported in October.
Uranium enriched to 20 percent is enough to produce fuel for a medical research reactor but far below the more than 90 percent required to build fissile material for nuclear warheads.
A deal for the West to provide fuel for the reactor has fallen apart in the deadlock over Iran's broader nuclear program, which the West suspects is designed to develop atomic bombs. Iran denies the allegations, and says the program is peaceful.
Iran says fuel for the Tehran research reactor that produces the medical radioisotopes will run out in September, leaving it without the materials needed to diagnose and treat 850,000 cancer patients across the country.
"We've produced nearly 40 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium. We hope to inject the first Iranian-made fuel assembly into the Tehran reactor by September," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
Salehi said Iran initially had no intention to enrich uranium to 20 percent but was forced to do so after world powers refused to provide it nuclear fuel.
The UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions this summer against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for bombs.
Iran started producing the 20 percent-enriched material in February 2010, saying the production rate was about three kilograms (6.6 pounds) each month.
Iran is producing the 20 percent level from its own stocks of low-enriched uranium, which has a 3.5 percent purity and is needed to fuel an electricity-generating reactor.
Salehi insisted Saturday - something Iran has been claiming for months - that it has the rare technology needed to produce the fuel rods.
"We've set up an advanced plant to produce fuel plates in Isfahan," he said. "With the completion of this plant in Isfahan, we are among few countries that can produce both fuel rods and fuel plates," Fars quoted him as saying.
Production of fuel rods by Iran would give it an independent source of fuel for the Tehran research reactor and future nuclear power plants - and another bargaining chip in negotiations with the West.
"The more they delay the talks, we will move forward. After some time, the issue of fuel swap will be meaningless," Salehi was quoted as saying.
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/iran-increases-stockpile-of-higher-enriched-uranium-defying-un-demands-1.335905
1. South Korea Presses North Korea to Show More Conciliatory Behavior
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korea pressed North Korea Monday to get more serious about the way it proposes talks between the sides, insisting that Pyongyang accept responsibility for its series of provocative acts.
North Korea proposed Saturday in a statement released through its official media that the two countries quickly hold talks to discuss ways to revive their stalled exchanges, a gesture apparently aimed at restoring the flow of economic support from the South.
Unification Ministry Chun Hae-sung said in a briefing that Pyongyang has yet to send a formal proposal to Seoul and that Saturday's statement falls short of being "a sincere overture, considering its form and content."
"Broadly speaking, it is important that the North shows a sincere attitude over peace on the Korean Peninsula and the advancement of inter-Korean relations," he said.
Since North Korea bombarded a South Korean island on Nov. 23, killing four people, the South has tightened even the most humanitarian aid to its impoverished neighbor. Relations had already been at the worst point in years after Seoul blamed Pyongyang in May for the sinking of a warship earlier that year.
North Korea has also alarmed the world by unveiling what it claims is a sophisticated uranium enrichment facility that could give the North another way of making nuclear bombs. The North, which routinely repeats its willingness to denuclearize, claims the uranium program is intended for peaceful energy use.
"On denuclearization, the North should show (steps) not in word but in deed. On inter-Korean relations, it should take responsible measures that our people can accept over the Cheonan sinking and the Yeonpyeong Island shelling," Chun said.
In its New Year's message, the North had professed its intention to seek dialogue with the South to defuse tension that arose over the November shelling of Yeonpyeong, while warning of a "nuclear holocaust" should enmity between the sides continue to rise.
South Korea says it will not fall for a charm offensive that may be followed by more provocation. It has also stepped up its defense posture in a move aimed at better deterring North Korean attacks and even retaliating harshly should another provocation arise.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/01/10/98/0401000000AEN20110110004600315F.HTML
2. South Korea Rejects North Korea's Call for Talks
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North Korea Monday officially proposed dialogue with South Korea, less than two months after launching a deadly bombardment of a border island, but a sceptical Seoul quickly rejected the offer.
The South said it was willing to hold government-level talks, but only if the North admits responsibility for a series of provocations and confirms a commitment to scrapping its nuclear programme.
The North's official news agency said three state bodies sent notices to the South's unification ministry calling for talks and announcing the reopening this Wednesday of a Red Cross border liaison office.
They proposed holding a working-level contact in the North's border city of Kaesong on January 27, and suggested talks between Red Cross organisations from the two sides in the South's city of Munsan on February 1.
"Our side will not accept the North's proposals," said Lee Jong-Joo, spokeswoman for the ministry which handles cross-border contacts. "It's not time to hold such talks as proposed by North Korea."
The North on November 23 shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong island, killing four people including civilians and raising tensions to their highest level for years.
It also heightened security fears in November by disclosing a uranium enrichment plant to visiting US experts.
"First of all, Pyongyang must show sincerity about its nuclear programme and take responsible steps over its provocations," Lee told AFP.
"That's why our side is proposing government-to-government dialogue to confirm their will."
The spokeswoman described the North's proposals as "disguised peace overtures" to try to show the international community that it wants peace.
"North Korea is proposing talks unilaterally to receive economic assistance and aid without admitting it is responsible" for a series of provocations, the ministry said in a separate statement.
These include the island attack, the sinking of a South Korean warship last March and the shooting of a South Korean tourist at the Mount Kumgang resort in July 2008, it said.
Such proposals are seen as part of Pyongyang's "usual strategy" to divide opinion in the South, the ministry said.
It called for government-to-government dialogue to determine whether the North is sincere about giving up its nuclear programme, and for a pledge by Pyongyang to take "responsible measures" over the provocations and not repeat them.
The North has previously rejected bilateral talks with the South on its nuclear ambitions, saying its deterrent aims to counter a US threat and talks must involve Washington.
The bombardment was the first shelling attack on a civilian area since the 1950-53 war. The South also says the North torpedoed the warship near the disputed border with the loss of 46 lives, a charge it denies.
After weeks of high tensions following the island attack, the North changed tack and called in a New Year message for improved relations.
It has also expressed conditional willingness to return to the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks which it abandoned in April 2009, a month before staging a second nuclear test.
The two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States make up the talks group. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo say Pyongyang must improve relations with the South and show sincerity about disarmament before they can resume.
For its part, the North wants United Nations sanctions to be scrapped and a US commitment to hold talks on a formal peace treaty before it returns to the discussions which have dragged on since 2003.
South Korea and Japan meanwhile agreed to push for talks on forging their first military accord since Tokyo's brutal colonial rule over the Korean peninsula ended in 1945.
The agreement was reached between Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin and his visiting Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa in response to recent provocations by the North, Kim's ministry said in a statement.
"In particular, the two ministers shared views that North Korea's recent provocations, including the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island and the revelation of its uranium enrichment facility, can never be accepted," it said.
The defence chiefs agreed to launch discussions on signing two agreements to share military secrets and exchange military goods and services for peacekeeping, relief operations and exercises, it said.
Defence ministry officials said this could include information on the North's nuclear programme.
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A bilateral meeting with North Korea is still in the government’s plan, but Seoul will first test Pyongyang’s sincerity over its recent conciliatory gestures by seeking international action over its uranium enrichment program, government sources told the JoongAng Ilbo.
The sources said the government is close to deciding that before pushing forward with negotiations with the North, including inter-Korean talks, it will first bring the North’s recently disclosed uranium enrichment program to the UN Security Council in order to seek condemnation of the program.
“North Korea’s uranium enrichment program is in clear violation of Security Council resolutions and thus is subject to sanction by the international community,” said a Foreign Ministry official.
“Besides, it is based on the judgment that we could move forward toward dialogue with North Korea only after easing some of anti-North Korean sentiment at home as a result of the Security Council action.”
The official said the government is also taking note of the Security Council option because it will be a litmus test of the North’s sincerity in its proposal last Wednesday of “unconditional and early” talks with the South.
“If North Korea strongly resists a Security Council measure, it will prove that its suggestion of ‘unconditional talks’ is only a tactic to divert attention, lacking sincerity,” the official said.
The government recently lowered its get-tough stance toward the North and started mentioning the possibility of a bilateral meeting between the Koreas.
But Ministry of Unification officials dismissed the North’s proposal as insincere, saying it should first apologize for the two provocations last year, including the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
The officials said the North also needs to take “sincere” steps toward abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
In mid-November, the North revealed that it had a uranium enrichment facility, which raised concerns over the North’s possible development of a nuclear weapons program beyond its plutonium-based operation.
In the aftermath of that revelation, the Security Council discussed whether to issue a chairman’s statement to denounce the North, but the discussion lost impetus due to China’s tepid reaction and the North’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
“Depending on the decisions of [South] Korea and the United States, the Security Council will resume discussions over a plan to sanction the North as early as next week,” said the government official.
“It is possible that the extent of the punitive measures at the Security Council will be a chairman’s statement as was discussed in November.”
The consideration of the chairman’s statement, instead of a tougher punitive action, appears possible due to a potential negative reaction from China, which has said North Korea has the right to pursue nuclear programs for peaceful use.
“If a statement denouncing the North is adopted at the Security Council in January and North Korea does not strongly respond to it, maybe we would be able to see the development of a negotiation phase such as inter-Korean talks, talks between North Korea and the U.S. and talks between North Korea and Japan as early as February,” the source said.
Available at: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2930746
International support for the Kingdom’s nuclear programme expanded on Sunday as Jordan and Romania inked a nuclear cooperation agreement (NCA).
The agreement, signed yesterday by Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan and Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi brings to 10 the number of countries that have officially extended support for the country’s peaceful nuclear energy programme.
According to the JAEC, the deal will facilitate the transfer of know-how and training support as Jordan moves closer to its goal of constructing a 1,000-megawatt (MW) reactor within the next decade.
JAEC officials have previously expressed hope that the deal with Romania will lead to opportunities for the countries’ cadres to receive hands-on experience in nuclear power generation.
The NCA also paves the way for the sale of nuclear technology between the two countries.
Romania is currently operating two nuclear reactors, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the country’s electricity generation, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Romania’s first reactor went on line in 1996 while its second reactor was completed in 2007. Both are 655MW heavy water pressure reactors using Canadian CANDU technology from AECL, one of three vendors currently being vetted by JAEC to build the country’s first nuclear reactor.
The Kingdom has previously signed NCAs with Japan, France, Spain, China, South Korea, Canada, Russia, the UK and Argentina.
The JAEC is looking to sign similar arrangements with Turkey and Italy soon. Of the major nuclear powers, only the US has yet to sign an agreement with Jordan, with talks between the two countries ongoing.
Officials have prioritised the peaceful nuclear power programme as key to weaning the Kingdom off energy imports, which cost the country some 19 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2009.
Available at: http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=33328
Japan's trade minister has expressed interest in cooperating with Iraq on nuclear energy, the Iraqi interim electricity minister said on Monday after talks in Baghdad.
"We discussed this issue with the Japanese minister, and he desires to cooperate with Iraq in this field," Hussein al-Shahristani said at a joint news conference with Akihiro Ohata, asked if they discussed nuclear energy.
"Iraq will study developing its peaceful nuclear industry," Shahristani said.
The UN Security Council on December 15 ended key international sanctions in force against Iraq since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait that diplomats said will allow Baghdad to launch civilian nuclear activities.
Shahristani, who is a deputy prime minister, also said he would welcome Japanese participation in a planned fourth round of bidding for oil contracts in Iraq.
"Japanese companies are preparing to enter the next round of bidding," Japan's trade minister said.
The two also discussed development projects, including for the electricity sector, Shahristani said.
"We agreed on speeding up development projects," he said. "Japan is studying the possibility of providing long-term facilitated loans to guarantee projects, including electricity projects."
"A Japanese trade delegation will visit Iraq next month to discuss cooperation in the fields of energy, transportation and entering the Iraqi market to develop it," Shahristani said.
Iraq has a severe shortage of electricity.
The country saw violent protests last August over power supply cuts, after which the electricity minister resigned. Shahristani is the interim head of the ministry.
"We are keen on developing relations through improving cooperation in different fields such as industry and electricity, and we are ready to provide support to achieve development in Iraq," Ohata said.
Ohata, who is touring the region to promote Japan's infrastructure technology and seek stable oil supplies, was the first Japanese minister to visit Iraq since 2008.
The tour aims to encourage Japanese firms to do more business and invest in war-battered Iraq, as they remain cautious due to security worries, Japan's news agency Kyodo said.
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3. Medvedev Gives Final Nod to Russia-Japan Civilian Nuclear Deal
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Saturday signed an agreement into law on cooperation with Japan on peaceful use of atomic energy, the Kremlin said.
The framework accord, signed in Tokyo on May 12, 2009, were ratified by both houses of the Russian parliament in late December.
It outlines basic principles for the two countries' cooperation on civilian nuclear technologies exclusively, allowing Moscow and Tokyo to cooperate in exploring and developing uranium deposits, as well as the designing, constructing and operating of light water reactors.
The agreement also facilitates bilateral cooperation on nuclear safety, including radiation protection and environment monitoring, as well as on nuclear material deliveries.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-01/08/c_13681868.htm
1. Brazil to Approve Construction of Four Nuclear Power Plants in 2011
Nuclear Engineering International
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Brazil's Energy Minister Edison Lobao said on January 7 that the government wants four nuclear power plants in the country.
"We will approve the construction of these four (plants) this year," Lobao told a news conference. There are still no estimates for the capacity of the four new plants or the costs.
Brazil currently has two operational nuclear power plants, Angra 1 (657 MW) and Angra 2 (1350 MW).
At the beginning of January 2011 the Brazilian national development bank BNDES approved 6.1 billion Brazilian reais (3.6 billion US dollars, 2.7 billion euro) to finance work on Angra-3. Construction of the plant started in 1984 but halted two year later because of finance shortfalls. In 2007, a government energy policy committee authorised completion of the unit and the nuclear regulator granted a construction permit in May 2010. At the beginning of January 2011 the Brazilian national development bank BNDES approved 6.1 billion Brazilian reais (3.6 billion US dollars, 2.7 billion euro) to finance work on Angra-3. Construction of the plant started in 1984 but halted two year later because of finance shortfalls. In 2007, a government energy policy committee authorised completion of the unit and the nuclear regulator granted a construction permit in May 2010. Construction of the 1350MW plant is to resumed and the plant is due to be operational by 2015.
Nuclear utility Eletronuclear was established in 1997 to build and operate thermal nuclear power plants in Brazil. It is a subsidiary of Eletrobrás, Eletronuclear the government controlled company that accounts for the generation of approximately 3 per cent of Brazil’s total electricity.
Available at: http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectionCode=132&storyCode=2058586
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has filed the construction license application for Braka Units 1 and 2 with the United Arab Emirates Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
The submittal follows a year-long process in which ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the Prime Contractor for ENEC’s program, documented the safety case for the UAE’s first nuclear power plants, as well as the proposed site, Braka, in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Construction License Application (CLA) is based substantially on the safety analysis done for, and licenses granted by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) to KEPCO for Shin Kori 3&4 units in Korea, the “reference plant” for the UAE program. The CLA documents were reviewed, verified and augmented by ENEC to meet FANR requirements. ENEC utilized outside consulting firms as part of its independent safety verification of the license application. Comments and analysis developed by ENEC were incorporated into the CLA prior to the submittal.
The “reference plant” concept is a fundamental part of ENEC’s procurement, construction and operations strategy. It ensures that KEPCO will construct a plant that is essentially the same as the “reference plant,” but supplemented with changes required to adapt to the UAE climatic conditions and any specific requirements of FANR. This “reference plant” philosophy enabled ENEC to prepare and submit the CLA one year following the awarding of the contract to KEPCO.
The submittal starts FANR’s review process, which ENEC expects will involve requests for additional information, and several meetings, which is typical for a nuclear construction license application to a regulator.
Totaling about 9,000 pages, the Construction License Application includes:
- The Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (PSAR), which includes a description of the plant design and a summary of the associated safety analyses.
- A Probabilistic Risk Assessment report, which demonstrates the low probability of a severe accident and provides assurance of public health and safety.
- An Independent Safety Verification Report, which meets the FANR requirement for an independent review of the PSAR.
- A preliminary Safeguards Plan, which provides information on how nuclear fuel and nuclear-related components will be kept secure, and in line with UAE safeguards commitments.
- The ENEC Quality Assurance Manual for design and construction, which details the processes ENEC uses to ensure the highest quality work in the program.
- The Physical Protection Plan, which lays out how ENEC will secure the facilities during construction.
The CLA takes into consideration necessary design changes to the Shin Kori plant, including those impacted by the high air temperatures in the Western Region; the higher temperature of the Arabian Gulf water as compared to the sea water in Korea; the potential for sandstorms at Braka; and the change in electric grid frequencies from 60 hertz, which is used in Korea, to 50 hertz, which is used in the UAE.
Concurrent with submittal of the construction License Application ENEC will submit the Nuclear Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) for the construction of the Nuclear Power Plant Structures related to Nuclear Safety. Approval of the Nuclear EIA by EAD will be required, in addition to the FANR Construction License Application, prior to ENEC beginning construction of the Nuclear Safety Related structures.
Earlier this year ENEC received from FANR a Site Preparation License, which, along with a Construction Environmental Permit granted by the EAD, allowed ENEC to conduct works related to the construction of features of the overall facility but not part of the civil Nuclear Power Plant, and works for Nuclear Power Plant structures not related to Nuclear Safety.
ENEC also announced in December that a review board set up in July has completed its first set of two meetings, and plans to meet three times this year.
The Nuclear Safety Review Board is made up of former USNRC chairman Dale Klein, former executive managing director of Korea's Daewoo Engineering Company Chang Sun Kang, former Bectel senior vice president E. James Reinsch, former STP NOC chief executive officer James Sheppard and former Japan Nuclear Safety Commission deputy chair Kunihisa Soda.
ENEC said that it established the NSRB in July to provide a review of the safety and effectiveness of the construction, startup and operations of the ENEC program, with a core emphasis on nuclear safety. The board reports to ENEC’s chief executive officer, Mohamed Al Hammadi.
“Our goal is to help ensure the success of the UAE nuclear project,” Dale Klein said. “The Board is focused on helping make the project a success by applying our experience and providing advice from a broad, international and independent perspective.”
The NSRB also contributed to the review of ENEC’s Construction Licenses Application for the proposed Braka Nuclear Power Plants.
The NSRB has established four sub-committees that will focus its work with ENEC on the following areas:
-Operations, Safety and Training
-Regulatory, Security and Oversight
-Construction and Project Management
-Engineering and Design
Following its initial meetings, the NSRB recommended that ENEC continue to work on strengthening its maturing relationship with KEPCO, the Prime Contractor for the UAE’s nuclear power program, given the long-term nature of the partnership the two parties have embarked upon. The Board also advised that ENEC work to further develop realistic succession plans for ENEC employees.
The UAE regulator FANR has announced two recent contracts with technical support companies to support the licence review.
Under the agreements, FANR's TSOs will provide engineering and technical services to support FANR’s review of its first construction licence application for a nuclear power plant in the UAE. They will work on areas such as management and quality assurance, design, systems and safety analysis.
Dr William Travers, FANR’s Director General, signed the contracts in Florida, US, with representatives of two consortia:
-BNES-ISL (made up of Baynuna Nuclear Energy Services and Information Systems Laboratories)
-NT (made up of NUMARK Associates Inc, AMEC NSS Ltd, TUV NORD and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland).
A similar agreement has already been signed with RISKAUDIT-IRSN/GRS.
“We are already working with Lightbridge, BNES-ISL and RISKAUDIT to gather worldwide experience and expertise in our regulatory organisation,” Dr Travers said upon signing the agreements.
Available at: http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectioncode=132&storyCode=2058535
3. Reprocessing Spent Fuel is Key to India Nuclear Programme: PM
(for personal use only)
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today commissioned the country's second Power Reactor Fuel Processing Plant and said reprocessing of spent fuel is the key to India's three-stage indigenous nuclear power programme.
Singh also described the commissioning of the plant here as a "significant milestone" in the country’s indigenous nuclear programme to help meet the country's current and future energy needs.
"Reprocessing is essential in the transition to the second stage of fast breeder reactors which we have begun, and in the subsequent third stage using thorium in advanced reactors," he said while stating that reprocessing of spent fuel is the key to the country's three-stage indigenous nuclear power programme.
Addressing a gathering after commissioning of the second Power Reactor Fuel Processing Plant at Tarapur, Singh said India has come a long way since the first reprocessing of spent fuel in India in 1964 at Trombay.
"The recycling and optimal utilisation of Uranium is essential to meet our current and future energy security needs.
The vision of the founding fathers of our nuclear programme, Jawaharlal Nehru and Homi Bhabha, was to achieve the mastery of the complete fuel cycle, thus enabling India to use our vast and abundant thorium resources in advanced nuclear power reactors," he said.
Congratulating scientists and engineers who were involved in the design, construction and commissioning of the complex and state-of-the-art facility, he said, "This is yet another instance that once we make up our mind, India can do anything."
Reprocessing the spent fuel will also ensure that India is better able to manage the wastes which are by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle, the Prime Minister said.
Tarapur itself is an outstanding example of nuclear energy’s capacity to provide the clean, safe and economical energy that the nation requires for its development and growth, he said adding that this site is home to the oldest boiling water reactors in the world.
"Here we have built our own reactors as well. And we have subsequently added the entire range of facilities covering the entire fuel cycle from fuel fabrication to reprocessing and waste immobilisation,"he said.
The atomic energy programme of India represents a very important and significant step towards technological and energy self-reliance and security, Prime Minister observed.
"That we have done so by the efforts of our own scientists and engineers is tribute to the vision of the founders of our atomic energy programme.
Given the advanced status of our indigenous programme and the capabilities of our scientists and engineers we can now confidently utilise the new opportunities that have been created with the opening up of international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy," he said.
Singh urged the scientific community to pay greater attention to capacity building, training and nurturing young and fresh talent which is in abundant supply in the country to to realise the potential of atomic energy to contribute to the nation’s development.
Available at: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/reprocessing-spent-fuel-is-key-to-india-nuclear-programme-pm/121536/on
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