The government promises to enhance the transparency of its nuclear safety checks introduced since the crisis erupted at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, including disclosing all exchanges between atomic regulators and utilities, industry minister Yukio Edano said Tuesday.
Edano also said the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency will accept questions and requests from the public via email about the reactor stress test process.
Under the stress tests, modeled on the nuclear safety reviews conducted in the European Union, utilities will study the extent to which key installations would be able to withstand the impact of extreme natural disasters occurring on unexpected scales.
After the first phase of the assessment, the government will decide whether to allow the restart of reactors that have been idled for maintenance and inspections
The second stage of assessments will determine whether nuclear plants should remain in operation.
The first phase is currently under way, with Kansai Electric Power Co. becoming the first utility to report the results of its stress tests on a reactor to NISA on Oct. 28.
Edano said the agency has questioned Kepco on several issues in written form in relation to the report, and those exchanges will be disclosed on the agency's website.
"In principle, exchanges between the agency and plant operators will be made public," said the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which has NISA under its wing.
Kansai Electric submitted its assessment on reactor 3 of its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture. It is currently undergoing a regular check.
The Nuclear Safety Commission began an inspection Tuesday of the nuclear power plant in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, to collect data on the effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami for its revision of guidelines on atomic plant designs.
More than 10 members of the panel's subcommittee and secretariat arrived later in the day at the Tohoku Electric Power Co. plant, which suffered limited damage in the March disaster, unlike the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant located about 117 km to the south. Both are on the Pacific coast.
The team would like to learn the underlying reasons for the differing impacts on the plants from the March disaster, according to an official of the panel's secretariat.
When the quake hit the Onagawa plant, all three of its reactors shut down automatically. The Tohoku Electric Power plant, built on elevated ground, maintained its reactor cooling functions, enabling them to be stabilized.
The team is expected to determine how far up the ground the tsunami encroached as well as the impact of the quake on the buildings housing the reactors, according to the official.
At the Fukushima No. 1 plant, the quake cut off the outside electricity supply, causing the reactor cooling functions to fail. Tsunami then breached the low-lying plant's premises and caused extensive damage, including to the cooling systems.
The guidelines, which came into effect in 1990, were last revised in 2006. Its safety provisions chiefly concern earthquakes and only have limited references to tsunami.
Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111109a4.html
The members of the national committee of experts, who held talks with the State panel on Tuesday, said that they would go in for the next round of talks on Koodankulam nuclear plant as soon as possible.
Speaking after the talks, panel member A E Muthunayagam said that the issue will be approached considering two factors — people’s welfare and nation’s development.
“People’s welfare will not be sacrificed for the national development and we will get back to the next level of talks as soon as we get the answers for the questions posed by the protesting groups,” Muthunayagam said.
He said the panel, for last two weeks, has been studying the background of the nuclear power project and the scope, status and other factors. It was a positive sign that both the groups agreed upon national development and people’s welfare. The talks proceeded smoothly and the State panel was cooperative, he added.
The concerns and the fear of people will be addressed properly and it was the mandate of the committee.
“We have nothing to do with the ongoing protest and we will concentrate on allaying the fears of the public about the project,” he said.
No definite timeline has been fixed for the next round of talks but the panel will ensure that they will get back as soon as possible, Muthunayagam added.
The committee was ready to talk with any team or forum but it should be meaningful since the matter is very technical. Commenting on the effect on fish breeding due to the plant, Muthunayagam said that it should be studied and the facts should be appropriately presented by the opposite group to prove the impact.
Available at: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/next-round-of-talks-soon/200573-60-118.html
3. UAE Nuclear Regulator to Tighten Safety Enforcement
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The UAE’s nuclear regulator has no immediate concerns about the handling of radioactive equipment but will move to ensure all licensees abide by new industry regulations, its communications advisor has said.
Officials from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) on Tuesday confirmed it had recovered a radioactive device that had been missing for several days, promoting concerns that rules regarding radioactive equipment are not tough enough.
“We will look into it. We do have ways and means to tackle this issue but it is long-term issue that we are trying to look at. [We are working on] safety and security issues together so our licensees understand these,” Ayhan Evrensel told Arabian Business.
Tougher regulations surrounding nuclear materials need to be implemented globally, he added. The agency has recently rolled out new legislation on the security of radiation sources.
“Across the world this is a phenomenon that needs to be tackled more thoroughly. Sources get lost in many countries. This is about the companies that are licensed to use these devices; they must have really a very thorough safety and security system in place.”
FANR on Oct 27 warned that a missing piece of industrial equipment, containing an Iridium (Ir-192) source used for industrial radiography, could cause injuries. The regulator confirmed Monday it had been found by a member of the public who reported it to the police.
FANR’s director of Radiation Safety Department, Dr John Loy, admitted in a statement to the UAE’s news agency, WAM, that the incident highlighted the “vulnerabilities” of its licensees.
“But it showed vulnerabilities on the part of our licensees in securing radioactive sources, and we will look into that,” he said.
“It also showed how closely local and federal authorities must work together,” he added.
The UAE is one of several countries in the Middle East looking to develop a nuclear programme in a bid to meet rising demand for electricity and boost fossil fuel exports. The world’s fourth largest oil exporter plans to build four nuclear reactors by 2020.
A number of countries worldwide have halted atomic programs after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused radioactive material to be released from its Fukushima plant.
Available at: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/uae-nuclear-regulator-tighten-safety-enforcement-429198.html
4. French Propose New 'Hard Core' Approach to Nuclear Safety
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France's IRSN institute of radiological protection and nuclear safety is proposing a new approach to ensuring the safety of nuclear installations based on a relatively simple set of measures designed to prevent severe accidents from becoming catastrophic ones.
The method, worked out in the context of France's national post-Fukushima "complementary safety evaluations," or ECS, centers on definition of a set of "hard core" systems, structures and components that are crucial to controlling an accident situation and preventing the spread of radioactivity into the environment, IRSN officials told journalists in Paris Monday.
Martial Jorel, head of IRSN's reactor safety department, said that with this approach a limited number of SSCs can be qualified to resist external events much more severe than those taken into account in the entire plant's design basis. Even if there were an earthquake or flood greater than most of the plant's systems are designed to resist, he said, the more "robust" equipment would be able to prevent a catastrophic accident such as the events that destroyed Japan's Fukushima I nuclear power plant on March 11.
Jacques Repussard, IRSN director general, said the analysis of French nuclear installations in light of the Fukushima events revealed that the threats to reactor safety of external events like earthquakes or flooding had not been taken into account as seriously as had internal accident initiators.
Repussard said that the new approach, if adopted, would require backfitting or replacement of some systems, such as the filtered containment vents at French reactors which are not currently seismically qualified.
Diesel generators and emergency fuel and water tanks could also be made robust against external events, the officials said.
By targeting certain SSCs, operators would not have to attempt seismic backfitting and requalification of hundreds of components in an entire plant, which would be prohibitively expensive if it could be done at all, Jorel said.
He added that EDF, in initial technical discussions, had expressed interest in using the new "hard core" method, as had other French nuclear operators like Areva, the atomic energy commission CEA, and the Institute Laue Langevin, which operates the High-Flux Reactor in Grenoble.
Available at: http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/8549928
5. Pakistan Trains 8,000 to Protect Nuclear Arsenal
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Pakistan is training 8,000 additional people to protect the country's nuclear arsenal, which the U.S. fears could be vulnerable to penetration by Islamist militants at war with the West, the Pakistani military said.
Those fears were heightened by a recent U.S. magazine article that quoted unnamed Pakistani and American officials as saying Pakistan transports nuclear weapons components around the country in delivery vans with little security to avoid detection — a claim denied by Islamabad.
Pakistan insists its nuclear arsenal is well-defended, and the widespread fear among many Pakistanis is that the main threat stems not from al-Qaida or the Taliban, but from suspected U.S. plans to seize the country's weapons. These fears were heightened by the covert U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
Washington has insisted it has no plans to seize Pakistan's weapons. But the recent article in The Atlantic magazine quoted unnamed American military and intelligence officials as saying the U.S. has trained extensively for potential missions in Pakistan to secure nuclear weapons or material that fall into the wrong hands.
Pakistan rarely reveals details about its nuclear program or the security around it. The announcement by the Pakistani military that it is training an additional 8,000 people to protect the nuclear arsenal could be seen as a response to the magazine article.
"This (group) comprises hand-picked officers and men, who are physically robust, mentally sharp and equipped with modern weapons and equipment," said the Pakistani military in a written statement Sunday.
The statement was released in conjunction with the graduation of 700 of these security personnel. The ceremony was attended by Maj. Gen. Muhammad Tahir, head of security for the Strategic Plans Division — the arm of the Pakistani military tasked with protecting the nuclear arsenal.
Tahir "reiterated that extensive resources have been made available to train, equip, deploy and sustain an independent and potent security force to meet any and every threat emanating from any quarter," according to the statement.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry also put out a statement Sunday calling the allegations in the article in The Atlantic "pure fiction."
Fear that the U.S. could seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons is driven by widespread anti-Americanism in the country. Despite billions of dollars in American aid, 69 percent of people in the country view the U.S. as an enemy, according to a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center in June. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The U.S. Embassy said Monday that it has confidence that Pakistan is aware of the range of threats to its nuclear arsenal and has given high priority to securing its weapons and material.
It quoted President Barack Obama as saying in March that he feels "confident about Pakistan's security around its nuclear weapons programs. But that doesn't mean that there isn't improvement to make in all of our nuclear security programs."
Classified American diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks last December indicated that the U.S. was concerned that Islamist militants could get their hands on Pakistani nuclear material to make an illicit weapon.
Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world, according a memo from December 2008.
An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in July estimated that Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 90-110 nuclear warheads. The country first successfully conducted a nuclear weapons test in 1998 in response to the nuclear program of its archenemy India.
The U.S. has pushed Pakistan to increase security at its nuclear facilities but has sometimes encountered difficulty. Islamabad agreed "in principle" in 2007 to an operation to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani nuclear reactor, but it was never carried out because of domestic opposition, said a May 2009 diplomatic cable.
Pakistan said in response that it refused the operation because its own nuclear security would prevent the material from getting into the wrong hands.
Militants have continued their attacks throughout Pakistan. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives Monday as a former government official greeted others outside a mosque in northwestern Pakistan on an important Islamic holiday, killing the official and his guard, police said.
The blast after morning prayers in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when the attack occurred, said Ijaz Khan, a senior local police officer. Malik Hanif Khan Jadoon and his guard were killed and nine others were wounded, said Khan.
Jadoon used to be a senior official in Swabi and was a member of the Awami National Party, a Pashtun nationalist party whose members have often been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-trains-8-000-protect-nuclear-arsenal-114624948.html;_ylt=Aus7Cko3PLw.4sU27U4z_e5vaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTRhOWdncTc0BGNjb2RlA3ZzaGFyZWFnMgRtaXQDVG9wU3RvcnkgV29ybGRTRgRwa2cDM2FiY2JiNDEtYmVlYS0zNDAxLThjZGQtM2Y0Zjk3MjllMGZhBHBvcwM0BHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyAzg1MDUyNDYwLTA5M2MtMTFlMS1iYWY1LThkYzdlNTU1YThhNg--;_ylg=X3oDMTFqOTI2ZDZmBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdAN3b3JsZARwdANzZWN0aW9ucw--;_ylv=3
1. Iran Sought Miniaturized Nuclear-Weapon Design to Fit Missiles, IAEA Says
Jonathan Tirone and Margaret Talev
(for personal use only)
Iran continued working on nuclear weapons at least until last year, including efforts to shrink a Pakistani warhead design to fit atop its ballistic missiles, a report from United Nations inspectors said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, drawing on evidence collected over eight years, reported yesterday that Iran carried out “work on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components.”
The document shows that Iran worked to redesign and miniaturize a Pakistani nuclear-weapon design by using a web of front companies and overseas experts, according to the report and an international official familiar with the IAEA’s probe. Such a warhead could be mounted on Iran’s Shahab-3 missile, which has the range to reach Israel, according to the IAEA.
The report adds to international pressure on Iran to answer questions about its program. It was released amid reports in Israeli media that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pressing his Cabinet to support possible military action to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
The U.S. and European nations may pursue additional sanctions against Iran following the report’s release and are waiting to see how Iran responds, according to two U.S. officials who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. Iran already is under UN sanctions and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Iranian government agencies, financial institutions and government officials.
France and its allies are ready to impose “unprecedented sanctions” on Iran if it doesn’t fully cooperate with the IAEA, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in a statement today.
China and Russia, two veto-wielding UN Security Council members, questioned the timing and outcome of the IAEA report. Russia suspects the authors of some comments in document of “political dishonesty,” according to a statement by Moscow’s Foreign Ministry. The report should trigger “dialogue and cooperation” without triggering “new instability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said.
The administration officials said the IAEA’s conclusions don’t conflict with U.S. intelligence estimates that Tehran’s government scaled back nuclear-weapons development in 2003 while maintaining the capability to resume. The officials said Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts have proceeded sporadically since 2003 and that the U.S. believes advancement since then hasn’t been dramatic.
In its report, the Vienna-based IAEA said, “some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003” and “some may still be ongoing.”
Until now, atomic inspectors had only voiced concerns publicly about the “possible existence” of weapons work in Iran.
State-run PressTV said Iran “has rejected” the IAEA report as “unbalanced and politically motivated.” Iran has told IAEA inspectors that evidence used against the Persian Gulf country was forged.
The agency’s report brought calls in the U.S. for tougher action against Iran.
It’s “further proof that the U.S. and other responsible nations must take decisive action to stop the regime from acquiring a nuclear capability,” said U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who is chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The IAEA report also “could increase the risk of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities” and therefore “justified a certain risk premium on the price of oil,” Commerzbank wrote yesterday in a research note. Crude oil for December delivery rose $1.28 to $96.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since July 28. Futures are up 5.9 percent this year.
Iran worked on high-explosives design and the development of a neutron generator, the part of an atomic bomb that starts a nuclear chain reaction, according to the senior international official.
“Iran embarked on a four-year program, from around 2006 onward, on the further validation of the design of this neutron source,” the IAEA said in the report, citing one member state that shared information with inspectors.
The agency revealed details of “large-scale high- explosives” experiments conducted near Marivan in 2003. The experiments would have helped Iran calibrate the explosive impact of a bomb’s uranium core, according to the report.
“The information comes from a wide variety of independent sources, including from a number of member states, from the agency’s own efforts and from information provided by Iran itself,” the IAEA said in the document.
It is the first time that the IAEA has published a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s nuclear-weapons work. Data before 2003 are more complete than information seen afterward, according to the senior official. The agency shared a copy of the information with Iranian authorities before the report was published, the official said.
Iran increased its supply of 20 percent-enriched uranium to 73.7 kilograms (162.5 pounds) from 70.8 kilograms reported in September at a pilot nuclear facility in Natanz about 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Tehran, the IAEA said. Iran has produced 4,922 kilograms of uranium enriched to less than 5 percent compared with 4,543 kilograms in the last IAEA report.
About 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, if further purified, could yield the 15 kilograms to 22 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium needed by an expert bomb maker to craft a weapon, according to the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Center, a non-governmental observer to the IAEA that is funded by European governments.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-08/iran-worked-to-miniaturize-weapon-design.html
2. Israel's Lieberman 'Urges Crippling Sanctions' on Iran
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Only crippling sanctions against Iran's central bank and its oil and gas industries will force Tehran to halt its nuclear drive, a senior Israeli minister said in remarks published on Tuesday.
According to the Maariv newspaper, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the only thing which would cause Iran's Islamic regime to sit up and listen was a series of "crippling sanctions."
His remarks were made ahead of the publication of a key report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is expected to provide fresh evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons drive.
"If, after the IAEA report comes out, the United States does not lead an initiative of crippling sanctions against Iran, this will mean that the United States and the West have accepted a nuclear Iran," the paper quoted him as saying on Monday.
"Crippling sanctions" meant targeting Iran?s central bank and its oil and gas industries, he said.
Only such a course of action would yield real results and show Tehran's Islamic rulers that continuing the nuclear race would endanger Iran?s future as well as their chances of continuing to govern, Lieberman said.
The new IAEA report is likely to be circulated among IAEA members on Tuesday or Wednesday, and will focus on Iran's alleged efforts towards putting radioactive material in a warhead and developing missiles, diplomats say.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iyGpG7l18rSs0uzpX3msQLJkLJSA?docId=CNG.4307f27c234fe9dcea92d70e06b1cd62.351
3. U.S. Mulls Iran Sanctions But Not on Oil, Central Bank
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The United States may impose more sanctions on Iran, possibly on commercial banks or front companies, but is unlikely to go after its oil and gas sector or its central bank for now, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
The official spoke after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, completed a new report that said Iran has worked on developing an atomic bomb design and may still be conducting relevant research.
Citing what it called "credible" information from member states and elsewhere, the agency listed a series of activities applicable to developing nuclear weapons, such as high explosives testing and development of an atomic bomb trigger.
"I think you will see bilateral sanctions increasing," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
However, because of Russian and Chinese opposition, chances for another U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran for its atomic program are slim, the official said.
"We will be looking to impose additional pressure on the Iranian government if they are unable to answer the questions raised by this report," a second U.S. official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "That could include additional sanctions by the United States. It could also include steps that we take together with other nations."
The United States has long suspected Iran of using its civil nuclear program as a cover for developing a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful and designed to generate electricity.
Russia and China are likely to oppose a fifth Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran, leaving the United States with few options but to tighten its own extensive sanctions and try to persuade others to follow suit.
"From our side, we are really looking to close loopholes wherever they may exist," the first U.S. official said, adding that U.S. sanctions are so comprehensive that "there is not a whole lot out there other than the oil and gas market -- and you know how sensitive that is. I don't think we are there yet."
Asked where additional U.S. sanctions might come, the official said: "You want to look for other commercial banks, further identify and go after some of these front companies ... we want to try to clamp down on some of that."
The official also played down the chances of sanctioning Iran's central bank, which is the clearinghouse for much of its petroleum trade, the mainstay of the Iranian economy.
"That is off the table" for now, he said. "That could change, depending on what other players (think). I don't want to rule that out but it is not really currently on the table."
The official said there were limits to how much pressure the United States, acting on its own, could place on Iran without targeting the petroleum industry or the central bank.
"The reality is that without being able to put additional sanctions into these key areas, we are not going to have much more of an impact than we are already having," he said. Existing sanctions are hurting Iran, he said.
The official said he hoped the latest IAEA report, which was obtained by Reuters, would help to persuade Russia and China that Iran's nuclear ambitions were not benign.
"This report, I think will demonstrate to some of the skeptics, and I am talking of Russia and China, that clearly Iran was involved in a nuclear weapons program up to 2003 and probably is still continuing work in that area."
However, he acknowledged it was unlikely Russia and China, which hold Security Council vetoes, would back additional multilateral sanctions and said it may even be hard to persuade them to support a new IAEA board of governors resolution.
"Hopefully, they will move toward supporting a resolution in the (IAEA) board but for them to do so it would have to be very anodyne," he official said. "But the reality is getting further sanctions at the U.N. is probably not doable."
Senator John McCain, the Republican U.S. presidential nominee in 2008, said the United States should be doing more to persuade Russia and China to crack down on Iran.
"This is clearly a rogue nation and for us to sit there and watch the Russians and Chinese veto sanctions which could affect Iranian behavior is in my view not acceptable," McCain told the Reuters Washington Summit.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/11/08/us-nuclear-iran-usa-idUKTRE7A76MF20111108
The leaders of South Korea and Vietnam agreed Tuesday to closely work together to promote cooperation in the civilian nuclear energy sector.
During a summit held at Cheong Wa Dae, President Lee Myung-bak and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang adopted a joint research proposal to build two nuclear reactors in the Southeast Asian country, under the “Overall Joint Proposed Plan.”
Under the plan, government officials and scientists of the two countries will launch a joint study to investigate the necessary conditions to construct Korea’s nuclear reactor model, dubbed APR 1400, in Vietnam.
The presidential office didn’t unveil details of the proposal at the request of the Vietnamese side.
The approval means Korea has inched closer to get an order to construct nuclear power plants in the Southeast Asian country.
Vietnam reportedly plans to build 10 nuclear reactors to meet soaring demand for electricity.
It signed a nuclear power plant deal with Russia last October. Under the plan, Russia will construct two reactors in the southern province of Ninh Thuan.
The Southeast Asian country clinched another power plant deal with Japan.
In 2009, Korea exported its first nuclear technology to the United Arab Emirates after it signed a deal to build four nuclear reactors in Abu Dhabi.
Since then, the government has pushed the export of its nuclear reactor technology overseas.
The nuclear push, however, met a major challenge after a tsunami and ensuing earthquakes devastated the eastern part of Japan in March. This led to meltdown in some Fukushima nuclear reactors in the neighborhood of the earthquake-torn region.
The nuclear crisis in Fukushima caused several governments, including Germany, to rethink their plan to build nuclear reactors to meet soaring energy demand.
But countries like China and Vietnam announced they would not drop the plan to build nuclear reactors as they need to meet demand for electricity.
During the summit, Lee and Sang agreed on a 12-point Korea-Vietnam Joint Statement.
The two sides agreed to expand trade and investments so that they can achieve $20 billion in trade earlier than 2015 the two sides set earlier.
“We worked closely not only in trade but also other areas such as culture and defense as human-to-human contacts are active in both nations,” presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha said.
The leaders of Korea and Vietnam also agreed on high-level contacts and human-to-human exchange programs.
Nearly 110,000 Vietnamese people are living in Korea as migrant workers or spouses.
Vietnam shared the idea that its development partnership with Korea played a catalyst role in upgrading its socio-economic status.
The Korean government pledged to keep helping the Southeast Asian nation achieve growth with the mid-term development strategy.
Lee and Sang agreed to launch a symbolic cooperation program to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationships. Under the plan, the two sides will consider a training program for judges and the establishment of a magnet high school in Hanoi.
The Vietnamese leader arrived in Seoul Tuesday for a three-day state visit.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/11/116_98394.html
3. RWE/EON Nuclear Group Approached by Third Parties
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The UK nuclear joint venture between German rivals RWE and EON has been approached by third parties to join the consortium, the CEO of RWE's UK business told Reuters on Tuesday.
"There are people who are interested, it's an option," said Volker Beckers.
"The UK has become for many strategic and nonategic investors, meaning from outside the energy industry, more attractive provided the Electricity Market Reform comes with the right outcome."
He refused to give further details on whether talks have started or which companies have expressed an interest.
RWE and EON, through the Horizon joint venture, plan to build a series of new nuclear power plants in Britain.
Britain is in the process of passing a power market reform which will shape the industry for decades to come.
Beckers said the outcome of the package would determine whether the nuclear group will take a final investment decision in early 2015.
Beckers also said RWE's ongoing talks with Russia's Gazprom included options for the gas company to take stakes in existing UK assets as well as the possibility to get involved in projects which have been approved.
"The talks for the UK are predominantly about existing assets but could also include assets which are consented but not built," he said.
RWE and Gazprom last month extended exclusive discussions about cooperating in the European power market.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/11/08/uk-energy-britain-idUKTRE7A734H20111108
4. NNSA Conducts Bilateral Technical Nuclear Forensics Exercise with the United Kingdom
National Nuclear Security Administration
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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA successfully tested the readiness of U.S. and U.K. laboratories to perform nuclear forensic analysis on collected material samples following the detonation of an improvised nuclear device over the U.K.
The test was conducted during Exercise Opal Tiger, which ran Oct. 3-28, and was part of a much larger National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NTNF) program that includes a number of federal departments and agencies.
“The exercise enhanced collaboration in technical nuclear forensics between the U.S and U.K.,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. “Expanding international collaboration in nuclear forensics improves the ability of governments to identify the nature and source of interdicted or seized materials and weapons, as well as the source of a detonated weapon. I’m proud of the work of the men and women who were involved in the exercise.”
The U.S. effort, led by DOE and in partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is part of the U.S. Government NTNF program. This program includes the Departments of State and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in addition to DOE/NNSA, DoD, and the FBI.
When combined with information from law enforcement investigations and intelligence channels, nuclear forensics conclusions support the identification of those responsible for planned or actual attacks. Importantly, effective international collaboration creates a stronger deterrent by increasing the likelihood that perpetrators are identified and held accountable.
This exercise is a part of NNSA’s commitment to assisting and working with the international community. NNSA currently collaborates with more than 80 foreign governments and 10 international organizations with projects ranging from providing assistance to foreign governments in improving their emergency preparedness and response programs, to joint collaborative activities to improve emergency management infrastructure worldwide.
Available at: http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/opaltiger11711
1. CEZ Plans to Add Another Dukovany Reactor by 2032, CEO Says
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CEZ AS (CEZ), the Czech Republic’s largest power producer, expects to add one more reactor to the Dukovany nuclear power plant by 2032, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Benes said today.
The utility won’t build more than one more reactor in the four-unit Dukovany plant because of insufficient water supply, Benes said in an interview after a press conference in Prague.
CEZ is currently in the process of choosing a supplier for two further reactors at its newer Temelin plant, which should be hooked to the grid no later than 2025. The company doesn’t plan to build more reactors in other locations in the Czech Republic after Dukovany, he said.
Westinghouse Electric Co., Areva SA and a Russian-Czech group led by Rosatom subsidiary ZAO Atomstroyexport are competing for the Temelin contract. Benes previously said it is “quite possible” the winner would also build the Dukovany reactor.
Prague-based utility is also planning to build up to 2,000 megawatts of onshore wind farms in Poland by 2015, Benes said. The company will carry out the construction rather than buying already existing capacity, he said.
CEZ said today that third-quarter profit fell 79 percent after writedowns and a new tax on carbon emission credits. The company confirmed its full-year targets for net income and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-09/cez-plans-to-add-another-dukovany-reactor-by-2032-ceo-says.html
2. French Energy Minister Reaffirms Pro-Nuclear Stance
Geraldine Amiel and Nadya Masidlover
(for personal use only)
French energy minister Eric Besson Tuesday reaffirmed his stance in favor of nuclear energy, noting that lowering the share of nuclear in France's energy mix would dent the country's competitiveness, increasing power prices for companies and harming French energy independence and safety of supply.
Speaking during a conference of France's energy industry association, Besson noted that lowering the share of nuclear would also be detrimental to environment protection efforts, as nuclear helps to rein in France's carbon emissions.
"If we substantially reduce nuclear, we increase the use of fossil fuels, carbon gas emissions and we make France more dependent upon imports," Besson said during the Union Francaise de l'Electricite's conference.
"Your study strengthens my conviction that we must keep our nuclear basis, while developing renewable energies," Besson also said, referring to a study released by the UFE Monday.
The study found that France must spend EUR322 billion by 2030 in energy investments if nuclear is still 75% of France's energy mix. But the amount would increase to EUR382 billion if nuclear's share dropped to 50% and EUR434 billion if nuclear's share dropped to 20% by 2030.
"Currently, it is not possible to efficiently replace nuclear energy without having massive recourse to gas and coal," French state-controlled power group Electricite de France SA's (EDF.FR) Chairman and Chief Executive Henri Proglio said during the conference.
If France moved to an energy mix of 50% of natural gas and 50% nuclear, this would imply a 25% increase in CO2 emissions in France and a 150% increase for the electric network alone, Proglio noted.
Such a scenario would cause electricity prices to double, he said. "We would need to import EUR10 billion to EUR12 billion of gas a year," he added. "Renewable energies and mastering demand will not be sufficient to replace nuclear energy," he also said.
EDF owns and operates France's 58 nuclear reactors and is currently building a 59th one, a third-generation EUR1,600 MW EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) in Flamanville, and seeks to build a second EPR in France in the coming years.
The country's nuclear focus stems from the need identified by the government back in the 1970s to secure energy supplies and lower its oil and gas import and until the Fukushima accident, the move to nuclear wasn't called into question.
Yet, since March, and as several European governments, notably Germany, have decided to end nuclear, the energy source has become part of a public debate, ahead of the presidential election in May next year. While French president Nicolas Sarkozy's government has reaffirmed its pro-nuclear stance, Francois Hollande, the Socialist party's contender, has hinted that the share of nuclear in the country's energy mix could be lowered.
The UFE study also found that prices paid by French households will increase by around 33% by 2030 if nuclear remains at around 70% of the country's energy mix, and would increase by 50% in a scenario in which nuclear accounts for 50% of France's energy mix.
Besson noted though that such a price increase estimate was "very high" and insisted the government wasn't committed by the study in that respect.
Available at: http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2011/11/08/french-energy-minister-reaffirms-pro-nuclear-stance/
1. Seoul Awaits Pyongyang’s Response on Nuclear Talks
Voice of America
(for personal use only)
A South Korean official says two rounds of talks with North Korea have left Pyongyang with a better understanding of what it must do to effect a resumption of six-party nuclear negotiations.
The senior official, who spoke Tuesday on condition he not be identified, told a group of reporters that South Korea's goal is to get the international talks re-started “under the right environment.”
He said North Korea now has a “much clearer” understanding of what it must do for that to happen, and that “the ball is in Pyongyang's court.”
He declined to speculate when Pyongyang might respond, noting that its nuclear negotiator got home from the latest talks just last week. He said the North's leaders will need time to digest what was discussed in those talks.
North Korea's nuclear negotiators held their second meeting with their South Korean counterparts in late September in Beijing and held a second round of talks with U.S. officials in Geneva late last month.
Two years ago, Pyongyang abandoned the six-party talks, under which it would receive economic and diplomatic benefits in exchange for dismantling its nuclear programs. But in recent months it has been pressing to have the talks re-started without conditions.
The United States and Seoul say Pyongyang must first shut down a newly disclosed uranium enrichment program and take other steps to demonstrate its sincerity. The other countries involved in the talks are China, Russia and Japan.
U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth said after last month's Geneva talks he was confident the two sides can eventually reach a deal.
Government officials in Seoul also say publicly they expect continuing progress towards an eventual resumption of multi-national talks. Privately, however, South Korean officials hold out little hope that Pyongyang is prepared to give up its nuclear weapons programs in a complete and verifiable manner, as is the goal of the other partners in the six-party talks.
Available at: http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/11/08/seoul-awaits-pyongyangs-response-on-nuclear-talks/
2. N. Korea's Uranium Program Close to Being Operational: Source
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
North Korea is close to being able to produce a small number of nuclear weapons per year through its uranium enrichment program (UEP) at the country's main nuclear plant, a senior South Korean official claimed Monday.
The official claimed the UEP at the Yongbyon nuclear complex is a "small industry" that can be used to mass produce atomic weapons, citing reports that there are some 2,000 centrifuges located there.
"It seems that North Korea has completed 70 percent of the process to be able to make one or two nuclear weapons per year," the official, asking for anonymity, told Yonhap News on the margins of a disarmament conference on the resort island of Jeju.
Pyongyang may have spent at least nine years establishing its UEP at Yongbyon, the official said, adding it is hard to monitor the nuclear facility in the communist state.
Seoul and Washington have insisted that Pyongyang suspend the program and allow international inspectors to verify the suspension ahead of the aid-for-disarmament six-party talks, which have been suspended since late 2008. Pyongyang insists on reopening the forum without any preconditions.
Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons, providing Pyongyang with a second way of building nuclear bombs in addition to its existing plutonium program.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2011/11/07/9/0301000000AEN20111107009300315F.HTML
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