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Nuclear News - 11/15/2011
PGS Nuclear News, November 15, 2011
Compiled By: Michael Kennedy

A.  North Korea
    1. Pyongyang Offers Talks for Inter-Korean Summit, Lee Tae-hoon, The Korea Times (11/13/2011)
    2. North Korea Says New Reactor to Start Soon, Agence France-Presse (11/10/2011)
B.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Australia Moves to Lift India Uranium Ban, Agence France-Presse (11/14/2011)
    2. ‘Condolezza Rice Right, I Was Unsure of Indo-US N-Deal in 2005’, The Times of India (11/13/2011)
    3. Pakistan to Buy Two Nuclear Power Plants From China, Zafar Bhutta, The Express Tribune (11/11/2011)
    4. Russia May Build More Nuclear Power Plants in Iran, RIA Novosti (11/10/2011)
C.  Iran
    1. U.S. Demands Iran Respond to IAEA Report Within Days, Associated Press (11/12/2011)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Shikoku Elec to Become 2nd Japan Utility to Submit Reactor Test Results, Risa Maeda, Reuters (11/13/2011)
    2. Japan Allows Partial Glimpse Inside Crippled Nuclear Plant, Shinichi Saoshiro, Reuters (11/12/2011)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Westinghouse Manager Says Temelín Bid and Jobs Part of Bigger European Picture, Chris Johnstone, Czech Position (11/14/2011)
    2. Lithuania’s Nuclear Plant May Cost Between 3 and 5 Billion Euros, Milda Seputyte, Bloomberg (11/10/2011)
    3. Commissioning of India Kudankulam Nuclear Plant Delayed, BBC News (11/10/2011)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Behind Iran's Nuclear Quest: An Ancient Civilization's Pride and Insecurity, Time (11/13/2011)
    2. In Kudankulam, a Protest Fuelled by Local Fears, Not Foreign Hand, The Hindu (11/12/2011)
    3. Nuclear Export Policy Misguided, The Japan Times (11/11/2011)
    4. Israel's Nuclear Ambiguity May Be Nearing an End, Haaretz (11/11/2011)

A.  North Korea

Pyongyang Offers Talks for Inter-Korean Summit
Lee Tae-hoon
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)

A senior North Korean official has expressed Pyongyang’s willingness to hold an inter-Korean summit to “The Elders,” a group of former state leaders and renowned global figures, a U.S.-based Korean scholar familiar with the group said Sunday.

The scholar said the official sought help from the group in holding a high-level meeting with South Korea early next year to negotiate a possible summit between its leader Kim Jong-il and President Lee Myung-bak.

"A North Korean official handling inter-Korean projects met key figures of The Elders in August in New York and asked them to convey the North's willingness to hold a high-level meeting in January to the South," Yonhap News Agency quoted the scholar as saying.

The scholar, asking for anonymity, said a delegation is scheduled to visit Seoul this week to deliver the proposal and then travel to Pyongyang to fine-tune the meeting.

“The North Korean official suggested that details of the high-level meeting should be fixed no later than the end of the year,” he said, adding that he asked a foreign and security policy official at Cheong Wa Dae to attend the preliminary talks.

According to a source, The Elders are considering joining the high-level inter-Korean talks as a third party, but has decided to exclude former U.S. President Jimmy Carter from the trilateral meeting.

The source said they will keep Carter away from participating in upcoming inter-Korean talks as the Lee administration has been at odds with the former U.S. President’s North Korean activities and advocacy of removing sanctions against the communist regime.

He said the global diplomatic team will likely choose former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland as the head of its delegation and propose the meeting take place in January in Sweden, which has a policy of neutrality.

Returning from a three-day trip to the North in April, Carter said North Korean leader Kim was ready for a summit with President Lee at any time. The former U.S. President said he failed to meet Kim, but the latter expressed his intent to meet Lee at any time on any subject in a written message read to him by a North Korean official just before he left the communist regime.

President Lee, whose five-year term ends in early 2013, has expressed willingness to hold an inter-Korean summit as well, but insisted that Pyongyang must first take responsibility for past attacks and declare its intent to abandon its nuclear programs.

The North carried out two surprise attacks against the South near the maritime border in the West Sea, killing 50 people including two civilians

Lee, however, has softened his hard-line posture against Pyongyang in recent months in an apparent move to mend souring ties by replacing the unification minister and resuming aid to the Stalinist regime.

The two Koreas held summit meetings in 2000 and 2007 under Lee’s two liberal predecessors and agreed on a series of reconciliation and joint economic projects.

The inter-Korean relationship worsened after President Lee took office in February 2008 and took a tougher stance on the North, linking major aid and economic cooperation with the dismantlement of Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

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North Korea Says New Reactor to Start Soon
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

North Korea will soon start operating a new home-built nuclear reactor, its official news agency said Thursday in a commentary one year after Pyongyang publicly disclosed the plant.

"The day is near at hand when a light-water reactor entirely based on domestic resources and technology will come into operation in the DPRK (North Korea)," the agency said.

It made the remark in an article deriding US and South Korean suggestions that the North's economy is near breakdown, but gave no details or date.

Pyongyang disclosed the light-water reactor and an apparently functioning uranium enrichment plant to US scientists who visited its Yongbyon nuclear complex on November 12, 2010.

One of them, Siegfried Hecker, said he and colleagues were shown a 25-30 megawatt experimental light-water reactor (LWR) in the early stages of construction.

Hecker said in a report the target date for operation was said to be 2012, "which appears much too optimistic".

He was also shown a uranium enrichment plant (UEP) with 2,000 centrifuges whose purpose was said to be to produce low-enriched fuel for the new reactor.

Hecker said both facilities appeared designed mainly for civilian nuclear power, but the UEP could readily be converted to produce highly-enriched uranium for bombs and the LWR could
be run to produce plutonium.

The United States and its allies are demanding that Pyongyang shut down the uranium enrichment plant before six-nation talks on the North's nuclear disarmament can resume.

The North insists that the talks restart without preconditions.

The country's existing plutonium stockpile -- estimated to be enough for six to eight atomic bombs -- came from a decades-old gas graphite reactor at Yongbyon that was shut down in 2007 under a six-party accord.

Hecker said in his 2010 report he saw no evidence of continued plutonium production at Yongbyon.

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B.  Nuclear Cooperation

Australia Moves to Lift India Uranium Ban
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

Prime Minister Julia Gillard moved Tuesday to lift Australia's controversial ban on uranium sales to India in a bid to strengthen relations with the fast-growing country.

While Canberra exports uranium to China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States, India has been excluded because New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a prerequisite her Labor Party puts on sales.

But Gillard said it was time to change, with the subject likely to dominate the annual Labor Party conference in Sydney next month where any policy change will need to be ratified.

"One of our nearest neighbours is India, long a close partner. The world's biggest democracy. Growing at eight percent a year," she said in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Yet despite the links of language, heritage and democratic values, in one important regard we treat India differently.

"We will not sell it uranium for peaceful purposes -- although Canada is preparing to -- while policy allows us to export it to countries such as China, Japan and the United States."

The prime minister, who returns to Australia Tuesday from the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation summit in Hawaii, said it made economic sense in "the Asian century" to boost ties with the nuclear power.

"It is time for Labor to modernise our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India. As in other areas, broadening our markets will increase jobs," she

Gillard stressed that any sales to India would have to be accompanied by guarantees that uranium would only be used for power facilities and not military purposes.

"We must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export," she said.

This included strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and "strong bilateral undertakings and transparency measures that will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes".

Although Australia uses no nuclear power, it is the world's third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, exporting 9,600 tonnes of oxide concentrate annually worth over Aus$1.1 billion (US$1.1 billion).

It also holds the world's largest reserves of uranium, with 23 percent of the total, according to the World Nuclear Association.

The conservative opposition in Australia has for years been calling on Labor to change its policy so the country can tap into the lucrative and expanding Indian market. New Delhi has also been pressuring the government.

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‘Condolezza Rice Right, I Was Unsure of Indo-US N-Deal in 2005’
The Times of India
(for personal use only)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday agreed that former US national security adviser Condolezza Rice was correct in noting in her recent book that he had initially in 2005 been reluctant to back the Indo-US nuclear deal as he felt unsure whether Indian public opinion would back the initiative.

"I don't remember the sequence...I have not read the book. But I think it is do with an early visit to the US. I wasn't sure whether the people of India will be convinced about the pact," Singh said while returning from the Saarc summit at Maldives.

In her book No Higher Honor, Rice who served the Bush administration as NSA and later secretary of state, has said that she found then external affairs minister Natwar Singh more keen on a statement that would set the course for a nuclear deal with India. Rice has written that it needed an early morning meeting with Singh to put the deal on the agenda for a meeting between Singh and then president George W Bush.

The book's revelation is interesting as Natwar Singh has often been seen as a cold warrior suspicious of US motives, while Singh is believed to have been keen on cooperation with Washington. The PM said that after he was convinced that the deal would be in India's interests he backed it fully. Singh had earlier said that the deal proved to be watershed in ending nuclear isolation while boosting ties with the US.

In reply to another question, Singh said the rules and regulation of the civil liability for nuclear cooperation bill will soon be tabled in Parliament and he would like to await the response of US nuclear suppliers who have raised questions over tough conditions that can make insurers reluctant to offer contracts related to deals executed in India.

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Pakistan to Buy Two Nuclear Power Plants From China
Zafar Bhutta
The Express Tribune
(for personal use only)

Pakistan has planned to purchase two nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 2,000 megawatts from China, which will be utilised for setting up Karachi Nuclear Power Plant-2 (Kanupp-2) and Kanupp-3 and help mitigate the energy crisis.

According to documents available with The Express Tribune, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) are likely to enter into an agreement to conduct a joint study to finalise design modifications, which would enable Pakistan to acquire two nuclear power plants, each having power generation capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

After completion of this project, a contract for establishing Kanupp-2 and Kanupp-3 will be negotiated.

The Planning Commission has said CNNC may be asked to grant intellectual property rights for the existing 1,000-megawatt plant and suggest steps which could help Pakistan avoid violation of property rights.

China has three state-owned corporations, which can own and operate nuclear power plants, including China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company (CGNPC) and China Power Investment Corporation (CPIC).

CGNPC currently operates four nuclear power plants of 3,758 megawatts in China and also involved in 16 other projects having capacity of 25,000 megawatts, which are under construction. The company’s focus has been on three-loop 1,000-megawatt plants.

The Planning Commission also questioned whether PAEC had approached the three nuclear power plant developers in order to ensure fair competition in offering the plants. “Moreover comparison of intellectual property rights of other nuclear power plant vendors may also be brought out,” the commission said.

In an attempt to increase power generation capacity, the government focuses on developing nuclear energy on a relatively bigger scale. Accordingly, the Energy Security Action Plan has envisaged increasing the share of nuclear power by installing 8,800-megawatt nuclear power plants by 2030.

The import of nuclear power plants will lead to electricity generation at cheaper rates compared to the thermal source, contributing to tackling the power crisis. About a month ago, power shortages reached their peak at around 8,000 to 8,500 megawatts, forcing long hours of outages across the country.

The load-shedding has disrupted industrial activity, denting overall economic growth of the country, which stood at 2.4 per cent last fiscal year.

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Russia May Build More Nuclear Power Plants in Iran
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Russia is studying an Iranian proposal to build more reactors at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the head of Russia's state-controlled nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said on Thursday.

"We are currently studying the proposal, as the international community has no concerns about the construction of nuclear power generation units," Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko said.

The project, if approved, would require amendments to an intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Iran, he said.

A nuclear energy industry expert, editor-in-chief of the Atominfo news portal Alexander Uvarov, said that the 1992 Russian-Iranian intergovernmental agreement envisaged the construction of four nuclear reactors in the country.

"As far as I remember, the intergovernmental agreement envisages the construction of four NPP units," the expert said. "Despite the international sanctions on Iran, currently there are no legal obstacles to Russian-Iranian discussions on building new units, especially as far as
Bushehr is concerned."

The first unit at Bushehr has capacity to generate 1,000 megawatts. It was launched in mid-September.

Under a bilateral agreement, approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Russia will operate the plant, supply its fuel and take away all the spent fuel for the next two or three years, but will eventually hand over full control to Iran.

The construction of Bushehr has taken more than three decades and has been dogged by delays.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1995 to complete the plant, which German
companies first began back in 1975.

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C.  Iran

U.S. Demands Iran Respond to IAEA Report Within Days
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Iran must respond soon to a report by the UN atomic agency alleging that it is working secretly on developing a nuclear weapon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday while attending a Pacific Rim summit.

Clinton said she discussed the issue with her counterparts gathered in Hawaii who also expressed serious concern over the issue.

“Iran has a long history of deception and denial regarding its nuclear program and in the coming days we expect Iran to answer the serious questions raised by this report,” Clinton told reporters.

“The U.S. will continue to consult closely with our allies on the next steps we can take to increase pressure on Iran,” Clinton said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency showed satellite images, letters and diagrams to 35 nations earlier Friday in Vienna as it sought to underpin its case that Iran apparently is working secretly on developing a nuclear weapon.

Iran’s chief envoy to the IAEA, however, rejected the presentation as based on material fabricated by the United States and its allies.

The IAEA report strongly suggested that Iran is using the cover of a peaceful nuclear program to produce atomic weaponry.

Iran is under UN sanctions for refusing to stop uranium enrichment — which can produce both nuclear fuel and fissile warhead material — and other suspected activities that the international community fears could be used to make atomic arms. It dismisses such allegations and says its activities are meant to be used only for energy or research.

Western diplomats hope a Nov. 17-18 meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation governing board will adopt a resolution denouncing Iran's nuclear activities and calling on Tehran to start addressing the agency's growing concerns about its aims.

But Russian and Chinese reluctance may hinder such steps.

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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Shikoku Elec to Become 2nd Japan Utility to Submit Reactor Test Results
Risa Maeda
(for personal use only)

Japan's Shikoku Electric Power Co said on Monday it would submit the results of a first-stage stress test on a nuclear reactor later in the day, the second utility to take this initial step in rebuilding public faith in atomic energy.

No reactors taken offline for routine maintenance have been restarted since a massive earthquake and tsunami in March triggered reactor meltdowns and the world's worst radioactive material leakage in 25 years at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi station in the northeast.

Kansai Electric Power Co submitted a set of results to the nation's nuclear watchdog in late October, as some utilities look to get reactors back online to help meet peak winter demand in January and February.

But it is not yet clear when the regulator and its supervisors, including Prime Minister
Yoshihiko Noda, will approve the stress test reports and when approvals by local authorities will pave the way for the reactor restart.

Currently, only 11 reactors with a capacity of 9,864 megawatts are generating electricity.

Five more reactors, of which three are Kansai's, are set to enter regular maintenance by the end of the year, which would leave just 11 percent of the country's total nuclear power capacity in use at that point.

When Kansai, Japan's second biggest utility, submitted the results of first-stage stress tests on the 1,180 MW No.3 reactor at its Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture on Oct 28, Trade Minister Yukio Edano said it would take several months before the firm could restart the unit.

Shikoku Electric, another highly nuclear reliant utility in the west, said it plans to submit on Monday afternoon the stress test results on the 890 MW No.3 reactor at its sole Ikata plant in Ehime prefecture to the trade ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

First-stage tests are on idled reactors which are ready to restart and second-stage tests apply to all reactors.

The stress tests evaluate each reactor's resilience to four severe events -- earthquake, tsunami, station blackout and loss of water for cooling -- and a reactor operator's management
of multiple steps to protect reactors.

Last week, NISA ordered the five commercial atomic power generators -- Kansai, Hokkaido
Electric Power Co, Tohoku Electric Power Co, Chubu Electric Power Co and Japan Atomic Power Co -- to submit plans to make sure their assumptions of the risk of tsunami and quakes
are up-to-date given the March 11 disaster.

The order to review safety assumptions will supplement the ongoing process to approve utilities' stress test reports.

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Japan Allows Partial Glimpse Inside Crippled Nuclear Plant
Shinichi Saoshiro
(for personal use only)

Conditions at Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, devastated by a tsunami in March, were slowly improving to the point where a "cold shutdown" would be possible as planned, officials said on Saturday during a tour of the facility.

Officials shepherded a group of about 30 mainly Japanese journalists through the plant for the first time since the meltdown of the plant's reactors, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

Cooling systems at the plant, 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, were knocked out by the powerful tsunami and evidence of the devastation was clear to see.

The nuclear reactor buildings were still surrounded by crumpled trucks, twisted metal fences, and large, dented water tanks. Smaller office buildings around the reactors were left as they were abandoned on March 11, when the tsunami hit.

Cranes filled the skyline in testimony to recovery efforts.

Journalists on the tour mainly stayed on a bus as they were driven around the plant and were not allowed near the reactor buildings. Still, they all had to wear protective suits, double layers of gloves and plastic boot covers and hair nets.

All carried respiration masks and radiation detectors.

"From the data at the plant that I have seen, there is no doubt that the reactors have been stabilised," Masao Yoshida, chief of the Daiichi plant, told the group.

The compound may still be littered with rubble, but Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the utility operating the plant, has succeeded in bringing down the temperatures at the three damaged reactors from levels considered dangerous.

They are confident they will be able to declare a "cold shutdown" -- when temperatures are stable below boiling point -- as scheduled by the end of this year.

While Tepco had managed to stabilise conditions so workers could enter the reactor buildings, Yoshida said there was still danger involved for those working there.

The disaster prompted the government to declare a 20 km (12 miles) no-entry zone around the plant, forcing the evacuation of about 80,000 residents.

A cold shutdown is one of the conditions that must be met before the government considers lifting its entry ban.

As an emergency measure early in the crisis, Tepco tried to cool the damaged reactors by
pumping in huge volumes of water, much of it from the sea, only to leave a vast amount of tainted runoff that threatened to leak out into the ocean.

It solved the problem by building a cooling system to clean the radioactive runoff, using some of the water to cool the reactors.

A group of white tents houses the cleaning facility. In front were hoisted the flags of the United States, France and Japan -- the countries that provided the technology for the decontamination system.

"Every time I come back, I feel conditions have improved. This is due to your hard work ," Japan's environment and nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono told workers at the plant.

However, Hosono warned it would still take about 30 years to dismantle the reactors after a cold shutdown was achieved.

Workers engaged in the recovery effort are stationed at J-Village, a national soccer training centre near Daiichi that has been converted into an operational base.

Tepco says up to 3,300 workers a day arrive from J-Village, located on the edge of the 20 km no-entry zone.

At J-Village, workers on their way to the plant lined up at a white tent to change into protective gear. Every day when they return, the workers discard their protective clothing, which is treated as radioactive waste and stored.

A Tepco guide said every piece of discarded clothing has been kept there since March 17, about 480,000 sets heaped in large piles or put in bed-sized containers and stacked in rows.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Westinghouse Manager Says Temelín Bid and Jobs Part of Bigger European Picture
Chris Johnstone
Czech Position
(for personal use only)

Mike Kirst, Westinghouse’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is one of the key people in the US-based nuclear power construction company’s push to land the estimated Kč 200 billion contract to build two new reactors at Czech state-controlled power company’s ČEZ’s Temelín plant.

Like for its two rivals — a consortium led by Russia’s Russia’s Atomstroyexport and Czech nuclear industry supplier Škoda JS Atomstroyexport and France’s Areva — the clock is now ticking on Westinghouse to submit its bid to expand Temelín by July 2, 2012, and place itself in the best possible position to land the contract.

Kirst told Czech Position how the ČEZ contract is part of the company’s wider bid to get nuclear power plant contracts in Poland and the UK. As a result of this bigger picture, Czech companies might be able to position themselves for a more significant share of future European nuclear work — or could lose out to rivals as Westinghouse looks to select a European hub for a large proportion of its off-site, pre-production modular work. Much will depend on how the three ongoing nuclear projects pan out.

Q: What is your main selling point to ČEZ, given that your safety claims are well known?

A: Our main value is certainty; certainty as defined by different parameters. We think our technology exceeds the most stringent standards that there are today globally, even taking into account future requirements. The third-generation AP1000 reactor is extremely advanced and there should be no need for some additional upgrades. This is an important factor. There is certainty on licensing; our licensing will be completed in the U.S. in the next two weeks. The Czech Republic has a licensing methodology that is very similar to the US methodology. We feel that the Czech regulator will be supportive of our design. The others will have to go through the whole system.

There is also the certainty that all of our projects are on time and on budget. That is important when financing plays such a big part in the overall costs of such projects; you need to have reactors up and running and paying for themselves. It is important that you meet the time schedules. We have a modular production process so that you can you can make progress in parallel with on site construction and off-site work.

Q: With regard to that modular process, does that mean that large parts of these reactors could be built, for example, say in India or China?

A: These are large sections that we are talking about. It would be costly and [involve] a lot of risk to move them. We are looking for a regional modular facility for Europe and that will be constructed with regard to ongoing tenders [for nuclear facilities] in Poland and the UK. The Czech Republic has the possibility to provide this work as well if it can compete on quality and costs. We will put them [the offers for work] against ourselves and other companies in Europe. What is important here is quality not lowest cost.

Q: You mentioned the other nuclear plans in Poland and the UK, what are they and is there chance that the modular work could go there?

A: There are plans for new nuclear plants in Poland by 2020. ČEZ is indicating dates of somewhere from 2020-2023 [for completion]. There is a possibility work could go to Poland. There are places in Poland that would like to do this work. Ports are good places. For transport and access, clearly Poland would have an advantage. We will be putting everyone against everyone in this respect. The Czech Republic has a lot of valuable industrial know-how and can be a major source of supply in Europe. We are looking at regionalization, and the Czech Republic will certainly be a central hub of excellence.

We signed an exclusivity deal with the Czech [nuclear safety and systems] company I&C Energo. They will be our principal supplier — and not just for the Czech Republic. This is high value and a high proportion of Czech work. This is an example of what we can bring. I&C Energo was originally set up by us [for original work by Westinghouse on the first two Temelín reactors] and then we sold it.

‘Both of these programs could come in quicker and could be larger than what is happening in the Czech Republic.’

Q: And what exactly are the nuclear projects in Poland and the UK?

A: In the UK a new joint venture [between E.ON and RWE] called Horizon is looking at three reactors at two sites. Ultimately, there could be a minimum of six or nine reactors. Poland is supposed to make a decision [on proceeding with its first nuclear plants] by the end of the year. There could be three reactors and up to 12. Both of these programs could come in quicker and could be larger than what is happening in the Czech Republic.

I should add here that in Poland and the UK, Russian companies will not be bidding. They were not invited to bid. You have to ask what future work they can offer when they are not involved in major programs in Europe.

Q: Coming back to the bidding documentation delivered by ČEZ at the end of October, was there anything in the 6,000 pages that was a surprise to you?

A: I have not read through all the pages, but I have looked through them. From first glance, it looks like what we expected. It is a very thorough and detailed document. A lot of time has been spent on this and it shows. There is nothing in there that could cause a major issue for us now.

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Commissioning of India Kudankulam Nuclear Plant Delayed
BBC News
(for personal use only)

Commissioning of a controversial planned nuclear plant in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has been delayed by a few months, officials have told the BBC.

Kudankulam plant Chief Superintendent MK Balaji said that the delay was due to public protests at the site which had disrupted building work.

He said that the site had been subjected to a total blockade by protesters since 13 October.

Protesters say the facility is unsafe and in an earthquake area.

They fear a repeat of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant. But officials say it is in a low seismic activity area.

The nearly $3bn plant - which has been either under design or construction for two decades - is equipped with two reactors built with Russian assistance.

"Definitely there is a delay," Mr Balaji told BBC Tamil.

"We have completed hot runs in August and are in the process of completing inspection work.

But the the public agitation has disrupted our work."

He said that there would be at least a "three to four months delay" in commissioning the first part of the plant, and because of that the second part was also likely to be behind schedule.

Mr Balaji strongly denied media reports that Russian scientists at the plant were planning to go back home because of the continuing protests.

He insisted that it was safe and that there was no possibility of a radiation leak, although still no decision has yet been taken on where to store nuclear waste. The government insists that no waste will be kept at Kudankulam.

On Monday former Indian president and scientist APJ Abdul Kalam - on a visit to the plant - said that it was fully safe.

He said it was equipped with "sophisticated safety features and there is no need to panic".

Mr Kalam said that he was neither a mediator nor a government envoy, but "a technologist".

"I support nuclear energy along with solar and wind power as it is a clean and green energy which is very much required for the country's rapid growth," he said.

But protesters said they were disappointed with Mr Kalam's support for the plant.

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Lithuania’s Nuclear Plant May Cost Between 3 and 5 Billion Euros
Milda Seputyte
(for personal use only)

Lithuania’s planned nuclear power plant in Visaginas may cost between 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion) and 5 billion euros, said Rimantas Vaitkus, chief executive officer of the Visaginas Nuclear Plant.

“I can confirm that we aren’t exceeding the price range,” Vaitkus said at a news conference in Vilnius today.

The Lithuanian government, along with its partners in Estonia, Latvia and Poland, is in talks with Hitachi Ltd. to build a nuclear power plant in the country. Lithuania picked Hitachi together with its Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. unit as a strategic investor and technology supplier to construct a nuclear plant in the Baltic country by the end of 2020.

The region is seeking to cut its dependence on energy imports after closing the Soviet-era Ignalina facility at the end of 2009. Lithuania plans to hold a 30 percent stake in the the plant, while the strategic investor and other regional partners would share the rest.

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F.  Links of Interest

Behind Iran's Nuclear Quest: An Ancient Civilization's Pride and Insecurity
(for personal use only)

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In Kudankulam, a Protest Fuelled by Local Fears, Not Foreign Hand
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

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Israel's Nuclear Ambiguity May Be Nearing an End
(for personal use only)

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Nuclear Export Policy Misguided
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)

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