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Nuclear News - 11/7/2011
PGS Nuclear News, November 7, 2011
Compiled By: Michael Kennedy

A.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Vulnerable to Theft: Report, Agence France-Presse (11/5/2011)
    2. Atomic Energy Officials Hold Talks on N-Plant, IBN Live (11/4/2011)
    3. Report Reveals 'Missing Results' of EU Nuclear Stress Tests, Martin Banks, The Parliament (11/3/2011)
B.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. India Keen for Nuclear Energy Cooperation With Japan, Official, The Mainichi Daily News (11/5/2011)
    2. Turkish PM Asks for S. Korea's Participation in Nuclear Power Plant Project, Chang Jae-soon , Yonhap News Agency (11/4/2011)
    3. Areva, Kazatomprom Sign Deal to Produce Nuclear Fuel For Asia, Christopher Pala, Fox Business (11/4/2011)
    4. Areva Suspends CAR Uranium Mine Project, Bate Felix, Reuters (11/3/2011)
C.  Iran
    1. An Inside Look at the Base Where Iran is Developing Nuclear Weapons, Yossi Melman, Haaretz (11/6/2011)
    2. France and China Make Fresh Pleas to Tehran to Stop Nuclear Development, Nick Hopkins, Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Julian Borger, The Guardian (11/4/2011)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Dalai Lama: A Role for Nuclear Power in Development Process, Yoree Koh, The Wall Street Journal (11/7/2011)
    2. Scientist: India Should Quit Nuclear Power, United Press International (11/3/2011)
    3. Ma Outlines Taiwan’s Nuclear Energy Policy, Rachel Chan, Taiwan Today (11/3/2011)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. The $64 Billion Question, The Economist (11/5/2011)
    2. Iran's Nuclear Ambitions Have Already Started a War With West – a Covert One, The Guardian (11/3/2011)
    3. Analysis: Struggle for Energy Supply Pushes SE Asia to Nuclear, Reuters (11/3/2011)

A.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Vulnerable to Theft: Report
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

Pakistan has begun moving its nuclear weapons in low-security vans on congested roads to hide them from US spy agencies, making the weapons more vulnerable to theft by Islamist militants, two US magazines reported Friday.

The Atlantic and the National Journal, in a joint report citing unnamed sources, wrote that the US raid that killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May at his Pakistani compound reinforced Islamabad's longstanding fears that Washington could try to dismantle the country's nuclear arsenal.

As a result, the head of the Strategic Plans Divisions (SPD), which is charged with safeguarding Pakistan's atomic weapons, was ordered to take action to keep the location of nuclear weapons and components hidden from the United States, the report said.

Khalid Kidwai, the retired general who leads the SPD, expanded his agency's efforts to disperse components and sensitive materials to different facilities, it said.

But instead of transporting the nuclear parts in armored, well-defended convoys, the atomic bombs "capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads," according to the report.

The pace of the dispersal movements has increased, raising concerns at the Pentagon, it said.

Pakistan has long insisted its nuclear arsenal is safe and the article quotes an unnamed official from the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency saying: "Of all things in the world to worry about, the issue you should worry about the least is the safety of our nuclear

The Pentagon declined to comment on the article but a senior US military official told reporters in Washington Friday that the United States remains confident Pakistan's nuclear weapons are secure.

"I believe the Pakistan military arsenal is safe at this time, well guarded, well defended," said the military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The article, based on dozens of interviews, said the US military has long had a contingency plan in place to disable Pakistan's nuclear weapons in the event of a coup or other worst-case scenario.

The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has for years trained for a potential "disablement campaign" that its forces would lead and that would require entering more than a dozen nuclear sites and seizing or defusing atomic weapons, it said.

The operation would use sensitive radiological detection devices that can pick up trace amounts of atomic material and JSOC has even built mock Pashtun villages with hidden mock nuclear-storage depots at a site on the East Coast to train elite Navy SEAL and Delta Force commandos, the report said.

Although Pakistan has suggested it might shift towards China and forsake its ties to Washington, Chinese officials have reached an understanding in secret talks with US representatives that Beijing would raise no objections if the United States opted to secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons, said the report, citing unnamed US sources.

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Atomic Energy Officials Hold Talks on N-Plant
IBN Live
(for personal use only)

The two top officials of the Indian nuclear establishment Friday met Tamil Nadu's Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi and discussed ways to allay the fears of people in Koodankulam and neighbouring villages where the mega Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is being set up.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) chairman and managing director S.K. Jain flew in here and met Sarangi for nearly 45 minutes at the state secretariat, sources said.

India's nuclear power plant operator NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW reactors with Russian technology and equipment at Koodankulam, around 650 km from here. The first unit is expected to go on stream in December. The project is estimated to cost around Rs.13,160 crore.

Villagers fear for their lives and safety in case of any nuclear accident and the long-term impact it would have on the population.

Speaking to reporters about the meeting, Banerjee said the talks were constructive.

According to him, the discussions were about the measures to be taken in holding talks with the villagers opposed to the nuclear power project and the issues to be deliberated with the state government formed panel.

He said the expert committee set up by the central government would soon interact with the people after working out the modalities.

Banerjee said the hot/trial run of the first reactor was like text book performance.

Queried about the demands of people to close down the project, Banerjee said: "We respect public sentiment."

However, he said the essential maintenance work at the first reactor has to be carried out as any changes in the parameters would result in irreparable damage.

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Report Reveals 'Missing Results' of EU Nuclear Stress Tests
Martin Banks
The Parliament
(for personal use only)

The environmental group Greenpeace has published a map allowing citizens in every European country to see how nuclear plants fared under so-called 'stress tests'.

After the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March, the EU told all nuclear power plant operators to carry out tests, hand over and publish the results by 31 October.

They are meant to see whether plants can stand up to extreme scenarios, including earthquakes, floods, loss of power and cooling.

It is claimed, however, that several regulators have failed to disclose the results to the public, despite being urged to do so by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, the organisation that designed the tests.

Initial Greenpeace analysis of the 10,000 or so published report pages revealed "missing results".

The multiple-reactor failure that struck at Fukushima was supposed to be examined, but is "missing from results," says Greenpeace.

The threat of airplane crashes were also a promised part of tests, but are "largely ignored", it says.

Greenpeace EU nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp said, "Fukushima taught us to think the unthinkable and these tests have forced plant managers to do a little of that.

"But there are major blind spots – why are evacuation plans for towns and cities ignored? Why is reactor age not properly considered? Why did the authorities promise, but fail to look at the danger of multiple-reactor failure and large airplane crashes?"

"Where national regulators are more independent from operators, and therefore more rigorous, tests were more thorough, such as in France.

"Others have failed to publish substantial information, including the Czech Republic, Sweden and the UK."

He added, "The Czech Republic submitted a seven page report on its six reactors, compared to Slovenia's 177 page report on its single reactor."

Following the deadline, the European commission will now prepare an interim report for the meeting of EU energy ministers of 9 December.

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B.  Nuclear Cooperation

India Keen for Nuclear Energy Cooperation With Japan, Official
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

India is keen to have nuclear cooperation with Japan as it is the only country which has immense technology in the field, a key Indian official dealing with nuclear energy said Friday.

"Japan is a country which has the technology for nuclear reactor for design, construction, equipment and manufacturing," S. A. Bhardwaj, director (technical) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., said in a meeting with a group of editorial writers from Kyodo News and 11 member newspapers who are currently visiting India.

Having cooperation with Japan in the nuclear energy field is the first priority for the government-owned corporation, Bhardwaj said.

He said the Indian government has taken additional steps to ensure the safety of its nuclear power plants across the country in the wake of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant triggered by the March disaster in Japan.

Some of the safety measures, which were already in place after tsunami hit the southern Indian coast in 2004, have been rechecked further, he said.

"Besides, we have done assessment in two parts. One was very quick assessment of whether (nuclear) plants can withstand a tsunami or floods and we have seen there are sufficient
margins in our plants," he said.

The government has also done a quick assessment for earthquake impact as well, he said, adding a detailed work is still going on.

India and Japan have recently agreed to move forward bilateral talks to conclude a civilian nuclear pact.

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Areva, Kazatomprom Sign Deal to Produce Nuclear Fuel For Asia
Christopher Pala
Fox Business
(for personal use only)

France's Areva SA (AREVA.FR, ARVCY) and Kazakhstan's Kazatomprom signed deals Friday in Kazakh capital Astana during a visit by the French industry minister to mine uranium and produce nuclear fuel for the Asian market, a statement issued by his press office said.

The agreement provided for the creation of a plant to produce nuclear fuel for the Asian market. Construction could start immediately after the conclusion of a feasibility study at the end of the first quarter of 2012, the statement said.

The deals were part of a strategic partnership the two companies signed in 2009 to operate a joint venture named KATKO to operate mines that will extract 4,000 tons of uranium a year between 2012 and 2039 and broaden their cooperation in the upstream-nuclear cycle, the statement said.

They included a contract committing Kazakhstan to buy French solar panels to power the KATKO mines, according to the French statement.

They were signed in the presence of Eric Besson, the French minister of industry, energy and the digital economy, who was on a two-day official visit, and Asset Issikeshev, vice prime minister and industry minister of Kazakhstan.

After more than tripling its output in four years to become the world's largest producer of uranium, Kazakhstan stabilized its production this year to around 19,800 tons in order to avoid depressing prices. Kazatomprom, the state nuclear concern, is expected to produce about 11,000 tons, more than Canada or Australia.

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Turkish PM Asks for S. Korea's Participation in Nuclear Power Plant Project
Chang Jae-soon
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday asked for South Korea's participation in the Eurasian nation's nuclear power plant construction project, an official said, a request expected to revive suspended negotiations between the two sides.

Erdogan made the offer in summit talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak held on the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting in the French city of Cannes, senior presidential press secretary Choe Guem-nak said.

Lee welcomed the request and proposed to hold "substantive negotiations," Choe said.

Last year, South Korea and Turkey held intense negotiations on the US$20 billion project to build four nuclear reactors on Turkey's Black Sea coast. But the negotiations were suspended after the sides failed to work out key differences.

Japan had been expected to win the project. But Turkey's talks with Japan have reportedly been halted since March's nuclear power plant accident in Japan in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami.

South Korea is a global atomic energy leader that relies on nuclear plants for about 40 percent of its electricity needs. The country has also been trying to export nuclear power plants since Korean firms won a massive contract in late 2009 to build four atomic power plants in the United Arab Emirates.

During Friday's meeting, Lee and Erdogan also agreed to make joint efforts to conclude ongoing negotiations on a free trade agreement before the end of the year, Choe said. They also agreed to increase cooperation in the defense industry, he said.

Erdogan asked Lee to visit Turkey next year to mark the 55th anniversary of relations between the two countries, and Lee accepted the invitation, the official said.

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Areva Suspends CAR Uranium Mine Project
Bate Felix
(for personal use only)

French nuclear group Areva has suspended its uranium mining project in the Central African Republic for two years, following a fall in uranium prices after the Fukushima disaster, an Areva official said on Thursday.

Exploitation of the Bakouma mine, initially scheduled for 2010, then postponed to 2011, is at present unprofitable for the company, Jean Francois Milian, director general of Areva resources in Central African Republic, told a news conference.

"We have taken the decision to temporarily suspend the uranium exploitation project at Bakouma and wait for the trauma of the Fukushima accident to ease within the next year or two years," Milian said.

Since the Fukushima incident in March, which has hit nuclear projects around the world, uranium prices have fallen by about 30 percent. Areva has said is was reviewing its investments and may postpone some schemes.

About 100 people protested in front of Areva's office in Bangui on Thursday, following a rumour that the company will shutdown the operation for 22 years.

Milian said was untrue that Areva was shutting the scheme until 2033.

"Areva is confident of the Bakouma project. The mine holds about 32,000 tonnes of uranium. We have already spent 70 billion CFA francs ($147 million), so we are not going abandon the project after spending that much money," he said.

Milian said the company will maintain essential jobs at the mine, which employs about 180 people at the Bakouma site, adding that ore processing will continue during the suspension.

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C.  Iran

An Inside Look at the Base Where Iran is Developing Nuclear Weapons
Yossi Melman
(for personal use only)

Iran is pursuing its nuclear weapons program at the Parchin military base about 30 kilometers from Tehran, diplomatic sources in Vienna say. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to release a report this week on Iran's nuclear activities.

According to recent leaks, Iran has carried out experiments in the final, critical stage for developing nuclear weapons - weaponization. This includes explosions and computer simulations of explosions. The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported that satellite photos of the site reveal a bus-sized container for conducting experiments.

Parchin serves as a base for research and development of missile weaponry and explosive material. It also has hundreds of structures and a number of fortified tunnels and bunkers for carrying out explosive experiments.

As far back as eight years ago, U.S. intelligence sources received information indicating that the bunkers would also be suitable to develop nuclear weapons. According to that information, Iran conducted experiments there to examine its capacity to simulate a nuclear explosion.

The Iranians rejected an IAEA request to visit Parchin, saying that IAEA rules permitted the organization's member states to deny such visits to military bases. Now, eight years later, the site is again suspected as a location for covert military nuclear activity.

Sources say that this time around, the IAEA report will contain clearer language on military aspects of the Iranian nuclear program. The report is in the final drafting stages and will need the approval of the IAEA's director general, Yukiya Amano.

According to information leaked to the media, the report will include a 12-page appendix with details including documents and satellite photos that support the contention that, in violation of its international obligations, Iran is covertly developing nuclear weapons.

The report is also expected to detail Iranian's progress on uranium enrichment at its Natanz facility and state that the Islamic Republic still refuses to disclose information on various aspects of its atomic program. This in turn arouses suspicions that Iran is hiding information and is indeed developing nuclear weapons.

Previous IAEA reports have said Iran already has four and a half tons of uranium at Natanz that are enriched at 3.5 percent. If such a quantity is enriched to 90 percent, something Iran has the capacity for, it will be enough to produce fissile material for four or five nuclear bombs.

The report is expected to state that Iran has also begun to install centrifuges at a facility near Qom that is built underground to shield the site from an air attack.

Both the Natanz and Qom sites, however, are subject to regular visits by IAEA inspectors.

Any decision on moving to the final stage in a nuclear weapons program would largely be up to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with the assistance of two military advisers.
In any event, diplomats say it is unlikely the IAEA's governing board will condemn Iran when it meets on November 17 and 18. It might take months to convince China and Russia to support a board resolution that could be the first step toward additional UN sanctions, they say.

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France and China Make Fresh Pleas to Tehran to Stop Nuclear Development
Nick Hopkins, Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Julian Borger
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

Iran faced mounting pressure over its nuclear ambitions when France and China made separate pleas to Tehran ahead of a crucial report next week.

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday condemned Iran's "obsession" with developing nuclear capability, and said any attempt to engineer atomic weapons was a clear violation of all international rules. Though he appeared to rule out any imminent military campaign, he said France would be prepared to act if Israel was under threat. "France will not stand by with arms crossed," he said.

China also urged the Iranians to be less confrontational and said the regime needed to co-operate fully with the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), which is due to publish its latest bulletin on the republic's nuclear ambitions next week. It was time for Iran to show
flexibility and sincerity, an official said.

Tehran, however, stepped up its rhetoric as the perceived hypocrisy from the US caused anger.

At a rally to mark the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, tens of thousands of protesters heard Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, accuse Washington of waging terrorism against the country.

As demonstrators chanted "Death to the USA", Jalili said a dossier of alleged crimes would be presented to the UN, and that it included assassination plots. Three Iranian nuclear scientists have been shot in recent years, the most recent in July.

Tehran says the killings were instigated by the US and Israel, and that the scientists were targeted because they were on a list of nuclear experts identified in sanctions brought against the regime.

"This question still remains … why people on the US sanctions list are assassinated in Iran," said Jalili. "What relationship exists between assassinations and US sanctions other than terrorists being directed by the US?

"The US is employing terrorism to promote its objectives ... we will sue the United States. The UN needs to take the necessary measures to prosecute and punish the US government for directing terrorist activities [against Iran]."

According to Fars, the semi-official news agency, protesters held a poster of President Barack Obama which read "wanted, dead or alive" and "Obama terrorist".

Another said that developing a nuclear programme was Iran's absolute right.

The crowd also showed its support for the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The US has accused the Quds of masterminding terrorism abroad, including the attempt to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington exposed last month. Iran has denied involvement in the plot and insisted that it is not intending to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is only interested in developing atomic energy for civilian purposes.

The IAEA has written a number of reportschallenging these claims, and the next one is thought to contain the most authoritative detail yet casting doubt on Tehran's assurances.

It is estimated that Iran already has enough weapons-grade uranium to make up to four weapons. Western diplomats are increasingly concerned that the regime is hiding some of its centrifuges, which enrich uranium ore, inside the fortified military base at Qom – which may
be beyond the reach of missile attacks.

The US has led efforts to put pressure on Iran through sanctions, but the White House has apparently backed away from introducing further, potentially crippling restrictions because of fears it would destabilise oil markets when the global economy is teetering on the brink. The Los Angeles Times said the weakness of the American economy had made Obama think twice.
However, a senior US security official, quoted anonymously by Reuters, made it clear that the administration regards Iran as its prime concern. "The biggest threat to the US and to our interests and to our friends, I might add, has come into focus and it's Iran," said the official, who was speaking at a forum in Washington. He said he did not believe Iran wanted to provoke a conflict and added that he did not know whether the Islamic state had decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Beijing's intervention is potentially significant – it has repeatedly urged the IAEA to be patient with Iran. But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei made clear that Tehran needed to co-operate with the nuclear watchdog.

"The IAEA should adopt an impartial and objective stance and seek positive co-operation with Iran to clarify certain questions," he said. "Iran should also show flexibility and sincerity and have earnest co-operation with the IAEA. China opposes the use of force or the threat of the use of force in international affairs. At present, avoiding any new upheaval in the Middle East is extremely important."

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Dalai Lama: A Role for Nuclear Power in Development Process
Yoree Koh
The Wall Street Journal
(for personal use only)

The Dalai Lama has been an active voice opposing nuclear weapons. But after a whirlwind trip touring the tsunami-devastated northeastern patch of Japan for the first time, the religious figure said he is not absolutely against the promotion of nuclear energy.

Instead, the Dalai Lama on Monday said he is in support of using nuclear energy for peaceful means as a way to bridge the socioeconomic gap in developing countries in the absence of more efficient alternative energy sources.

“There is still many developing countries with a huge gap between rich and poor…millions of people’s lives remain under the poverty level and we have to think about these people,” the 76-year-old spiritual leader said at a news conference on Monday morning in Tokyo. He noted that other energy sources like wind and solar are too inefficient to put into realistic practice to meet
the needs of fast-developing countries.

The Dalai Lama was steady in this view during his weekend trip to the northeastern region, which included a brief stop in Fukushima prefecture where he spoke at a university in Koriyama city. Located nearly 40 miles from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Koriyama city lies far outside the mandatory evacuation zone around the plant, but traces of radioactive contamination in school playgrounds and produce has made monitoring
efforts a daily part of the residents’ new way of life.

The Dalai Lama led a mass prayer in memory of the March 11 victims when he came to Japan in April, but did not travel to the affected areas.

On Monday, he urged people on both sides of the contentious nuclear argument to look at the issue “holistically.” “Just to look at it from one side then to make a decision is not right,” he said. While speaking to the benefits of nuclear energy, however, he underlined the holistic lens needed to be pointed at the issue of risk as well. Nuclear energy specialists “should take maximum sorts of preparations.”

Even then, he warned that no amount of preparation can completely rule out danger. Riding a car, eating a meal, and even sitting in the very venue of the news conference always comes with a degree of risk: “There is still 1% (chance) of danger,” he said, shaking his body from side to side as if being rocked by an earthquake.

But the Dalai Lama said that the ultimate fate of using nuclear power should be a democratic choice. “In the end if the people want to eliminate (it) then it’s up to the people,” he said.

Separately, the Dalai Lama had a word of advice to younger Japanese: mind your traditional values.

“I really admire you Japanese people. You really built a healthy democratic society. It is industrialized and you also keep to your centuries-old traditional values. That’s good,” he said during his opening remarks.

“I’ve heard that one of your traditional values is to respect the elderly people,” such as when “old ladies or old gentlemen are on the bus or train. Previously if one person comes the younger one used to stand and share the seat. But that kind of situation I’ve heard that has little bit degenerated. So I think you should pay more attention to traditional values.”

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Ma Outlines Taiwan’s Nuclear Energy Policy
Rachel Chan
Taiwan Today
(for personal use only)

ROC President Ma Ying-jeou said Nov. 3 that the government is committed to ensuring the safe operation of Taiwan’s nuclear facilities while working toward establishing a nuclear-free homeland.

“Our energy policy is formulated in a practical and responsible manner, adhering to the principles of zero power rationing, maintaining stable electricity prices and reducing carbon dioxide emissions to meet international goals,” Ma said.

The president’s remarks came during a news conference at the Presidential Office attended by Vice President Vincent C. Siew, Premier Wu Dun-yih, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang and Atomic Energy Council Minister Tsai Chuen-horng.

According to Ma, the scheduled 40-year service period of the country’s three existing nuclear plants—the No. 1 and No. 2 facilities in New Taipei City, and the No. 3 plant in southern county of Pingtung—will not be extended, while the No. 4 plant in New Taipei City will only begin commercial operations after heightened safety requirements are met.

The No. 1 station may even be decommissioned early if the two units at the fourth plant enter stable commercial operation before 2016, the president said, adding that the national energy policy will be reviewed every four years once the new facility is on line.

“This approach is in line with Article 23 of the Basic Environment Act, which directs the government to make plans for gradually achieving the goal of becoming a nuclear-free country.”

Regarding the controversial No. 4 Longmen nuclear power plant, which has had its commencement date repeatedly postponed, Ma said that safety is the paramount principle in this matter. He added that additional improvement work is under way to reinforce safety at the plant in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that crippled the nuclear facility in March.

“In case of an emergency that exceeds safety standards, we would rather sacrifice the plant than risk the chance of causing a nuclear crisis.”

Echoing Ma’s remarks, Shih said the Ministry of Economic Affairs is calculating additional time and budget needed for the fourth plant’s improvement work and will announce its opening date early next year.

Since taking office in May 2008, the president said energy intensity dropped by an average of 2.72 percent from 2008 to 2010, saving NT$300.7 billion (US$9.95 billion). Annual carbon dioxide intensity fell 4.11 percent during the same period, reducing emissions by 6.8 million tons.

“The progress we have made in reducing national energy consumption and emissions is in line with my administration’s goal of transforming Taiwan into a green and low-carbon country,” Ma

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Scientist: India Should Quit Nuclear Power
United Press International
(for personal use only)

A leading Indian nuclear scientist has indicated that India should scrap its nuclear energy program.

MP Parameswaran, a former scientist with the Atomic Energy Commission, while acknowledging that India has invested heavily in nuclear power, stressed that the country "will be forced to spend (a) thousand times more than that in the eventuality of a nuclear disaster," he told India's Daily News and Analysis.

India aims to increase its capacity of nuclear power from the current level of less than 5,000 megawatts to 20,000 megawatts by 2020. But anti-nuclear sentiment in India has grown post-Fukushima, with mounting protests at nuclear power sites under construction.

"Has the issue of final disposal of radioactive waste been solved? Has the possibility of nuclear accidents, either due to human or mechanical or natural causes, been totally prevented? The answer is no," Parameswaran said.

The nuclear expert pointed to 750,000 megawatts of power projected for India by 2030 of which fossil fuels will account for 400,000 megawatts.

"A 10 percent increase in this can offset the shortage produced by the suspension of the nuclear energy program. We have all the expertise and production capacity to do this," he said.

At Kudankulam, construction of two 1,000 megawatt nuclear power reactors has been halted for several weeks because of protests by villagers concerned about the possibility of a nuclear accident and the long-term impact it would have on the population.

Parameswaran said the reactors at Kudankulam should be redesigned so they could be operated either with coal or natural gas.

A project of state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India, Kudankulam uses Russian technology and equipment.

En Dudkin, who heads a team of 130 Russian scientists and engineers working on the project told the Business Standard newspaper that Kudankulam "is the safest power plant in the world," noting that the design has been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency and certified by the European community and the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

The facility is designed to withstand a magnitude-6.0 earthquake, he said, and the containments protecting the reactor are designed to withstand a tsunami and forceful impacts such as that from a plane crash.

Dudkin said that for India and all major developing countries "there is no other alternative to nuclear energy," adding that it is "the most economic, safe and ecologically clean (energy source)."

India's energy consumption -- fueled mostly by coal -- continues to grow at about 6 percent annually even though nearly 40 percent of households have no access to electricity.

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E.  Links of Interest

The $64 Billion Question
The Economist
(for personal use only)

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Analysis: Struggle for Energy Supply Pushes SE Asia to Nuclear
(for personal use only)

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Iran's Nuclear Ambitions Have Already Started a War With West – a Covert One
The Guardian
(for personal use only)

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