1. India, U.S. to Hold Talks on Nuclear Liability Law
Xinhua News Agency
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India and the United States will hold talks next week on nuclear cooperation to sort out differences over India's nuclear liability regime, reported Indo- Asian News Service Saturday.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will hold talks with Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Monday in New Delhi, which are expected to focus on resolving issues related to India's nuclear liability regime, said the report.
The guidelines or the Implementation Rules relating to the nuclear liability law were notified by the Indian government last month, clarifying separate responsibilities of both suppliers and buyers once an accident occurs.
The issue of nuclear liability law in India figured prominently in discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama when they met on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bali, Indonesia last month, according to local media reports.
During the talks, India had made it clear that it will work within the framework of its domestic laws, indicating that it will not give in to any pressure from outside. But the United States said that India should let its domestic law on nuclear liability conform with international law.
Both sides will try to find some "common ground" on an issue that is holding up the operationalization of the nuclear deal between the two countries signed years ago, the report quoted reliable sources as saying in New Delhi.
France, another nuclear technology supplier to India, has accepted India's guidelines on nuclear liability.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2011-12/10/c_131299064.htm
2. Russia to Start Direct Uranium Supplies to Japan – Rosatom
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The Russian state-run civil nuclear corporation Rosatom may start direct supplies of enriched uranium to Japan following ratification of a bilateral agreement in Japan's Diet, Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said on Friday.
"The document ... is very important for practical cooperation. In particular it paves the way for direct deliveries of enriched uranium to Japan, not through the third countries as is the case now," Novikov told RIA Novosti.
Ratification of the agreement will radically simplify supply routes, general director of Rosatom's sale subsidiary, Alexei Grigoriyev, told RIA Novosti.
"It meets with Tenex's plans ... to set up a new and more profitable route to transport enriched uranium products through Russian ports in country's Far East," Grigoriyev said, adding that nowadays the company had to deliver the products to Japan from St Petersburg's port.
The ratification of the bilateral agreement also gives opportunities to deliver higher quality products to Japan and enrich Japanese regenerated uranium, stored in Europe, in Russia.
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/business/20111210/169643374.html
3. Myanmar Denies Working With North Korea on Atomic Weapons
Aung Hla Tun
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Myanmar denied it had been cooperating with North Korea on nuclear weapons technology, the first time it has commented on speculation that the two internationally ostracised states might be working together to build atomic weapons.
The denial follows a landmark visit just over a week ago by Hillary Clinton in the first trip by a U.S. Secretary of State to the country in 55 years, setting the stage for rapprochement with Myanmar after decades of isolation from the West.
The weekly Pyi Myanmar quoted parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann as telling reporters after he met Clinton last week that Myanmar did not have any cooperation with North Korea on nuclear technology.
It was the first time a top official has publicly commented on the issue.
"During my visit to North Korea as a general, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperating between the two armed forces. It was not on nuclear cooperation as is being alleged," the weekly quoted the 64-year-old Shwe Mann as saying.
"We studied their air defence system, weapons factories, aircrafts and ships. Their armed forces are quite strong so we just agreed to cooperate with them if necessary," said Shwe Mann, who had been number three in the former military government.
He is thought to have led a high-level delegation to North Korea in late 2008. Exile media published documents and pictures relating to the visit in 2009.
During her brief visit, Clinton urged Myanmar's new leaders to end illicit contacts with North Korea, which has long been trying to build a nuclear arsenal and for which it had been heavily sanctioned by the international community.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/12/09/myanmar-north-idINDEE7B809320111209
4. PGE Steps Away From Projects with Russia, Lithuania
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Poland's top utility PGE will not take part in building a planned nuclear power plant in Lithuania and is no longer in talks with Russia's Rosatom on energy imports from Kaliningrad, the company said on Friday.
Earlier this year, Lithuania selected a consortium of General Electric and Hitachi to build a 1.3 gigawatt plant by 2020 and invited PGE to participate in the project.
"In the face of conditions that PGE found unacceptable at this stage and taking into account other key projects, we have decided to suspend our participation in this project before its takes the form of any formal obligations," PGE CEO Tomasz Zadroga was quoted as saying in a statement. Lithuania's government said it would go ahead with the nuclear plant's project despite PGE's decision.
"Decision... is not critical. We would continue seeking our goals, we will continue working with our regional partners and strategic investor (Hitachi)," Arvydas Sekmokas, Lithuania energy minister, told journalists.
Visagino Atomine Elektrine (VAE), the Lithuanian company in charge of the nuclear plant project, said in a separate statement on Friday it had signed an agreement with U.S. Exelon Nuclear Partners, LLC, part of Chicago-based Exelon Corp , the biggest U.S. nuclear reactor operator, to supervise the project. Lithuania's government has said it planned to sign the concession and shareholders' agreements with the strategic investor and regional partners, including Latvia and Estonia, by end of this year or the beginning of 2012.
Russia's Rosatom plans to build a first 1 gigawatt unit in the Kaliningrad-based nuclear power plant by 2016, with a second unit going online in 2018.
Warsaw also named PGE to build Poland's first nuclear power plant due early in next decade with capacity of 3 gigawatts.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/09/pge-idUSL5E7N92SU20111209
5. Czech PM Offers Talks With Austria on Nuclear Plan
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Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas on Thursday offered to hold public talks with neighbouring Austria over his country's plans to build two new nuclear reactors, repeating a proposal he made to Germany last month.
Necas has made clear the Czechs are willing to hold discussions even though European law does not require them to do so for nuclear expansion plans that have raised concern in both Germany and Austria.
"This week I signed basically the same offer and the same letter to Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellor (Werner) Faymann," Necas told a parliamentary committee. "We are proposing the possibility of public debate."
Majority state-owned utility CEZ plans to build two additional units at its Temelin plant and then potentially up to three other units in Slovakia and at its Dukovany plant.
Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse, an alliance of Russia's Atomstroyexport and Czech company Skoda JS, and France's Areva, are bidding to build the units in the biggest-ever Czech procurement deal.
A government policy paper has also proposed the building of a string of new atomic plants in the central European country, including boosting reliance on nuclear to 80 percent of all energy needs by 2060.
The nuclear push has stirred opposition in Austria - whose border lies some 50 km (30 miles) from CEZ's Temelin nuclear plant - as well as in Germany which announced a retreat from nuclear following Japan's Fukushima disaster in March.
Opponents cite Fukushima as evidence that nuclear power is unsafe while Czechs see nuclear as a key plank in ensuring future energy security for the former Soviet block nation, which gets most of its gas supplies from Russia.
Vaclav Bartuska, the Czech energy ambassador overseeing the Temelin tender, told Reuters last month debates in Germany might include town hall meetings and could start next year.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/08/czech-nuclear-idUSL5E7N82J520111208
1. France to Strengthen Nuclear Security After Break-Ins: EDF
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France will beef up security at its nuclear plants after Greenpeace activists broke into two facilities, the head of energy firm EDF said on Friday, denouncing the stunt as "stupid".
"This was a stupid act of intrusion, it's intolerable," EDF chief Henri Proglio said in the French city of Lyon.
EDF will "learn lessons and reinforce its anti-intrusion systems" to "ensure it's more difficult in the future" to break into nuclear facilities, he said.
On Monday, nine activists from the environmental group broke into the Nogent-sur-Seine plant near Paris and two into the Cruas plant in southern France in an action Greenpeace said was aimed at exposing the vulnerability of the facilities.
The 11 were arrested and are to face charges in court in January.
Proglio repeated EDF's assertion that it had immediately identified the intruders but did not move against them because it was clear they were not armed.
"No sensitive site was breached," he said.
France, the world's most nuclear-dependent country, relies on atomic power for 75 percent of its energy and operates 58 reactors.
But the country's reliance on nuclear power has been increasingly called into question since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which prompted Germany to announce plans to shut all of its reactors by the end of 2022.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5igxErF2iYCKdSuCSO8ec4ry4IS8A?docId=CNG.5cbb5adf472564d8ca0e0b3587eca98b.1b1
2. TEPCO to Depend on Foreign Companies for Fukushima Plant Insurance
The Mainichi Daily News
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to seek insurance from foreign companies for its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as Japanese insurers have refused to renew coverage expiring in January, industry sources said Friday.
Japanese nuclear plant operators are required to have insurance contracts with the government for accidents caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami waves, and with private-sector insurers for other accidents. Without insurance, they would have to give the government massive deposits.
A consortium of 23 Japanese property and casualty insurers have decided not to renew their contract with TEPCO for the plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, prompting the utility to look for other insurers or make deposits.
If TEPCO failed to obtain insurance and to provide deposits, such operations as the extraction of nuclear fuel rods from the damaged reactors could be deemed illegal.
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/business/news/20111209p2g00m0bu246000c.html
3. UN’s Atomic Regulator Funds Terror Fight While Fukushima Response Starved
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Nine months after the worst nuclear disaster in decades, the world’s atomic-energy watchdog has yet to dedicate additional money to improve reactor safety.
The delay has prompted the U.S. to call for the International Atomic Energy Agency to prepare a budget for its so-called action plan and to clarify how it will respond to future nuclear emergencies. The United Nations-funded agency said the allocation will be determined after a team draws up the “main activities associated with the action plan,” according to a Dec. 5 statement to Bloomberg News. Money wasn’t included in the IAEA’s budget agreed to in September.
The agency classifies safety as one of its top three priorities, yet is spending 8.9 percent of its 352 million-euro ($469 million) regular budget this year on making plants secure from accidents. As it focuses resources on the other two priorities -- technical cooperation and preventing nuclear- weapons proliferation -- the IAEA is missing an opportunity to improve shortcomings in reactor safety exposed by the Fukushima disaster, said Trevor Findlay, a former Australian diplomat.
“The IAEA did not seize the opportunity of this dreadful event to advance the agency’s role in nuclear safety,” said Findlay, who is finishing a two-year study of the Vienna-based agency at Harvard University. Director General Yukiya Amano “has been tough on Iran and Syria, but not when it comes to nuclear safety.”
The IAEA was founded in 1957 as the global “Atoms for Peace” organization to promote “safe, secure and peaceful” nuclear technology, according to its website. A staff of 2,300 work at the IAEA’s secretariat at its headquarters.
Its mission statement encapsulates the same conflict as Japan’s failed nuclear-safety regime: playing the role of both promoter and regulator of atomic power, according to scientists, diplomats and analysts interviewed by Bloomberg News.
About half of the IAEA’s budget is devoted to restricting the use of nuclear material for military purposes, and the agency has spent a decade investigating Iran’s atomic program because of suspicion the country is developing weapons.
As the agency targeted weapons, the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant capped years of faked safety reports and fatal accidents in Japan’s atomic-power industry. The country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency was in a conflict of interest because it was under the control of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which had a mandate to promote nuclear power.
The IAEA “accepted for years the overlap between regulation and industry in Japan,” said Johannis Noeggerath, president of Switzerland’s Society of Nuclear Professionals and safety director for the country’s Leibstadt reactor. “They have a safety culture problem.”
The agency encourages “safe, secure and responsible use of nuclear energy in those countries that independently decide to embark on a nuclear power program,” said Gill Tudor, an IAEA spokeswoman. “Part of the agency’s mandate is to advise and work with independent national regulators.”
Since coming to office in 2009, Amano has spent five times more money fighting terrorism and preventing proliferation than on making the world’s 450 nuclear reactors safer, UN data show.
The agency’s safety division garnered little respect in U.S. diplomatic cables that described the department as a marketing channel for countries seeking to sell atomic technology.
They also questioned the credentials of Tomihiro Taniguchi, the IAEA’s former head of safety who helped create the regulatory regime in Japan, which is being blamed for failings that led to the Fukushima disaster.
“The department of safety and security needs a dedicated manager and a stronger leader,” U.S. IAEA Ambassador Glyn Davies wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy website. “For the past 10 years, the department has suffered tremendously because of Deputy Director General Taniguchi’s weak management and leadership skills.”
The U.S. backed Amano’s bid to replace Mohamed ElBaradei in 2008 because he was believed to be supportive on confronting Iran. ElBaradei was accused by the U.S. and its allies of overstepping his IAEA mandate in seeking compromise solutions to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Amano was “solidly in the U.S. court,” according to a U.S. cable in October 2009 released by Wikileaks. The U.S. IAEA mission declined to comment on the cables.
By the time Amano reached office, the IAEA’s nuclear-safety division had downplayed the threat from natural disasters. In 2010, the director general’s first full year in office, anti- terrorism spending rose at three times the rate of safety expenditure.
“Tsunamis, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes have affected many parts of the world and nuclear installations everywhere responded admirably,” Taniguchi said in a December 2005 speech. “The design and operational features ensured that extreme natural conditions would not jeopardize safety.” Taniguchi was also an executive of Japan’s Nuclear Power Engineering Corp., which promotes public acceptance of the operation of atomic-power plants, before joining the IAEA.
“I made contributions to significantly improving safety systems around the world,” Taniguchi said when asked about the U.S. cables. Now a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he lectures graduate students on nuclear security.
The IAEA’s own mission to promote atomic power may also contradict the Convention on Nuclear Safety.
“Each contracting party shall take the appropriate steps to ensure an effective separation between the functions of the regulatory body and those of any other body or organization concerned with the promotion or utilization of nuclear energy,” says article 8.2 of the convention.
In the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports to Congress and is responsible for the licensing and oversight of atomic power operators, according to its website.
The IAEA has been tarnished by a series of nuclear-safety mishaps, including the combustion of plutonium in 2009 at an Austrian lab and a mishandled vial that contaminated part of a Belgian facility in 2011, according to the agency.
One IAEA plant inspector fell into a Czech nuclear-fuel cooling pond in 2007, according to four officials who declined to be identified. The agency won’t make public a full list of incidents involving its own staff.
“IAEA inspectors and field workers are largely on their own when it comes to safely carrying out their jobs,” said Robert Kelley, a former IAEA director who led inspections in Iraq. “They receive little guidance or support and they are very dependent on the facilities they are inspecting to protect their health.”
The agency’s failure on Fukushima is due to its timid leadership and an over-reliance on Japanese data, said Findlay, who will present the Center for International Governance Innovation’s report on the IAEA in Vienna in April. “The agency’s self-promotion led outsiders to naturally expect the agency to leap into action, so it only has itself to blame for that.”
Japan’s public remains uneasy about the reactors at Fukushima, which are still exposed to damage from earthquakes, said Akio Matsumura, a former diplomat and chairman of the World Business Academy. The absence of independent information about the meltdown compounds those fears, he said.
“The IAEA has disseminated reports on updates at Fukushima, but the source of the information is the Japanese government,” Matsumura said. “If the Japanese government chooses to remain opaque in its dealings, then the IAEA reports will be useless.”
The IAEA had to deflect criticism from its members for weeks following the Fukushima disaster because it refused to analyze risks from the meltdown. The U.S. NRC provided more risk assessments than the IAEA by independently widening the areas it labeled dangerous around the reactors beyond where Japanese officials set limits.
The Fukushima meltdowns have already spread more radiation over Japan than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs combined, Arnie Gunderson, a U.S. nuclear engineer who testified before the NRC on the Fukushima meltdowns, wrote in an e-mail. The stricken plant is expected to be brought under control before the end of the year, according to Tepco.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-08/un-s-atomic-regulator-funds-terror-fight-while-fukushima-response-starved.html
French state-owned nuclear giant Areva is to announce significant losses when it unveils its new corporate strategy this week, Industry Minister Eric Besson said on Sunday.
"I can confirm that Areva will announce losses, in all likelihood they will be significant," Besson told France's Radio J.
Areva CEO Luc Oursel is to meet with investors on Monday to present the new strategy, which follows decisions by some governments to drop nuclear power after Japan's Fukushima disaster and which is expected to involve major job losses.
The strategy will be released publicly on Tuesday.
"The exact figures are for Areva President Luc Oursel to announce and explain," Besson said.
Sources told AFP last month that Areva was planning to cut at least 2,700 jobs and slash investments by 40 percent to generate at least 750 million euros ($1 billion) in annual savings by 2015.
Areva and the government have denied French jobs will be lost and the job cuts are most likely to affect the company's operations in Germany, which has announced plans to shut all of its reactors by the end of 2022.
Besson said the losses could be pegged in particular to depreciation of assets, including the UraMin uranium mines in Namibia that Areva purchased in 2007.
He said he expected Areva to set up a "special committee" to investigate the deal that saw UraMin "bought at a very high (cost) level".
He also confirmed that Areva's third generation EPR nuclear reactors being built in Finland and in Flamanville in northern France would "cost much more to build than was expected".
He added however that Areva was in talks on selling EPR reactors with "many countries who continue to invest in nuclear," including China, India, South Africa and Britain.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h4uqRkiE8L-5Zg7hVUzeUR2r-ulA?docId=CNG.83b864429e5546a58ebb4887d6972217.7e1
Russia on Saturday rejected conspiracy theories over the involvement of foreign hands in the anti-Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNP) stir.
Speaking to Express after the inauguration of a seminar on ‘Globalisation and Food Security’ at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in association with All India Foreign Medical Graduates Association here on Saturday, Deputy Consul General of Russia Sergey Soloviev said that there was no involvement of foreign hands in Koodankulam protests.
“I don’t think there is involvement of any foreign hand in orchestrating the protests. France and the USA are also investing in reactors and what will they get if they fuel the protests,” asked Soloviev while rejecting the conspiracy theories.However, he did blame the priests stating that the ‘role of priests is not good.’
His statement comes in the wake of V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the PM’s Office, stating that the anti-KKNPP agitation was being funded by foreign agencies and an investigation was on to unmask the sponsors. He said the protests were due to the ignorance of the people about the nuclear issue and the need for energy to develop.
The diplomat said that after the Chernoboyl incident, the safety of Russian reactors has been upgraded. He, however, refused to comment on the nuclear liability law.
Earlier after inaugurating the seminar, he said the event was a prelude to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) international conference on food security which would be held in India in the next three months.
Available at: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/russia-sees-no-foreign-hand-behind-kstir/210806-60-118.html
3. Saudi Arabia to Spend Over $100bn on Nuclear, Solar
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Saudi Arabia will spend more than $100bn to build 16 nuclear energy plants over the next few years, a senior official has told a Saudi-US business forum in Atlanta.
Abdullah Zainal Alireza, Commerce and Industry Minister, also said the kingdom was keen to develop solar and other renewable energy technologies to reduce dependence on oil and gas, Saudi daily Arab News reported on Friday.
"We have allocated $3bn to produce solar energy panels in Jubail and Yanbu," he was quoted as saying.
Last month, Saudi Arabia said it will begin the tendering process to construct the first nuclear station by the end of next year. The site of the reactor will be announced by March.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are investing in nuclear power to help meet rising domestic demand for electricity.
The forum also discussed new investment opportunities worth $385bn in the kingdom in the key sectors of education, energy, electricity and water, transport and logistics, petrochemicals and infrastructure, the paper added.
Alireza said Saudi imports from the US are expected to cross $95bn or 23 percent of the total US exports to Arab countries by 2012.
"This amount is expected to double by 2015," the minister said.
Available at: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/saudi-arabia-spend-over-100bn-on-nuclear-solar-434339.html
4. Construction of Turkey's First Nuclear Power Plant Will Start in 2013
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First concrete is planned for 2013 in Turkey's first nuclear power plant to be constructed in the south of the country.
Rauf Kasumov, the deputy director of Akkuyu NGS Corporation, said on Thursday that the first concrete was planned for 2013.
"The first reactor will become operational in 2019," Kasumov told a press conference in the southern province of Mersin.
In May 2010, the governments of Turkey and Russian Federation signed an agreement to cooperate for constructing and operating a nuclear power plant.
"Advanced technology will be used in the power plant, which will prevent radiation leak," Kasumov said.
Kasumov said the project would totally be completed in 2022.
Fuel to be used in the nuclear power plant would be brought from Russia, and the waste would be sent back to Russia, Kasumov said.
Kasumov also said nuclear waste could be used for many times and therefore it was valuable, and if Turkey wanted to purchase the waste, nuclear waste could stay in Turkey.
The agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Turkey on cooperation in relation to the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu site envisaged establishing four units of 1,200 MWe Russian design VVER reactors.
In December 2010, Russia established a company, "Akkuyu NGS Elektrik Uretim Corp." (APC: Akkuyu Project Company) to built, operate and decommission the NPP units.
APC applied to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) in February 2011 for being recognized as an owner, according to the Article 6 of the Decree on Licensing of Nuclear Installations, and Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) recognized it as the owner.
In March 2011, APC started site investigations in Akkuyu for updating the site characteristics and parameters according to the national procedures laid out in the Decree on Licensing of Nuclear Installations.
Available at: http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/127646/construction-of-turkey-39-s-first-nuclear-power-plant-will-start-in-2013.html
Officials said Sunday denuclearization talks involving South Korea, North Korea and the United States are unlikely before the end of the year.
However, diplomatic efforts among the countries to organize nuclear talks are under way, Yonhap news agency reported.
Since early 2011, the United States and South Korea have held two meetings with the North about the country moving toward giving up its nuclear program before six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S. resume. However, North Korea has called for the resumption of the six-party talks without preconditions.
"The U.S. and the North as well as the South and the North have been exchanging signals, but it is still insufficient," an official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "There is a diplomatic maxim that unless everything is agreed, nothing is agreed."
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/12/11/No-Korean-nuclear-talks-before-years-end/UPI-39721323631687/?spt=hs&or=tn
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