Despite Iran's voluntary efforts to shed light on the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, the French president has urged world powers to toughen sanctions against Tehran.
"Sanctions are beginning to produce their effects. We must reinforce the sanctions," Nicolas Sarkozy said during a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday.
Iran has long described such sanctions as illegal under international law, saying that such measures will not prevent Tehran from pursuing peaceful nuclear technology.
The remarks came after representatives from Iran and the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany -- wrapped up a new round of comprehensive talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul over the weekend.
Following the talks, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, who headed the Iranian delegation, said Tehran was "still prepared for further negotiations with the P5+1, based on common issues."
Washington and its allies accuse the Islamic Republic of developing a military nuclear program. Tehran has repeatedly refuted the charges.
Under Western pressure, the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran's financial and military sectors in June.
Tehran argues that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the country has the right to use peaceful nuclear energy.
Earlier in January, Iran invited international diplomats to visit the country's nuclear sites as a goodwill gesture aimed at highlighting the "transparency" of its nuclear program.
Last week, representatives from the IAEA, the Non-aligned Movement, Group of 77 and the Arab League made a two-day tour of the country's nuclear facilities.
The delegates, who represented more than 120 countries, visited the heavy water reactor in the central Iranian city of Arak and toured Iran's Natanz enrichment facility.
Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that the envoys published a report on their visit on Friday, adding that the content of the report was positive.
“In this report, in addition to an elaborate description of the visit and the explanations offered [by Iranian experts], the envoys' observations and excerpts from the points offered by Secretary of National Security Council Saeed Jalili and caretaker Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi have been included,” he said.
Soltanieh stated that the report serves as a clear message to the world, confirming the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activity.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/161726.html
Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says he's optimistic over the prospect of future nuclear talks with world powers.
His remarks, came after the five permanent members, of the UN Security Council plus Germany, wrapped up the latest round of talks with them, WITHOUT any progress.
Ahmadinejad adds, that it'll take time and several rounds of dialogues to settle ALL the issues surrounding his country's nuclear program, but he's hopeful discussions will eventually lead to a positive outcome.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, said, "I think within these two or three sessions of talks, important discussions took place, and the two sides became familiar with each other's viewpoints. There is a good situation now, and if both sides are committed to justice and respect, agreements can be reached in further sessions."
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/video/2011-01/24/c_13704517.htm
3. China: Iran Nuke Issues Can Not Be Solved After One Meeting
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The Iranian nuclear issue cannot be resolved in just one or two discussions, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Sunday, a day after a high-level meeting aimed at addressing Tehran's nuclear plans ended in disappointment.
Two days of talks in Istanbul with the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain failed to persuade Iran to make concessions on its nuclear program, or even agree to hold further discussions.
"The Iranian nuclear issue is complicated and sensitive, and obviously cannot be comprehensively resolved through one or two rounds of dialogue," Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong said, according to a brief statement posted on the ministry's official website.
"But still, each side needs to be dedicated to talks and negotiations in a flexible and pragmatic spirit, create mutual trust and make efforts to solve the issue comprehensively and appropriately," Wu added.
China has backed U.N. Security Council resolutions pressing Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear activities, but has close energy and trade ties with Iran and has opposed unilateral sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70M0AL20110123
4. Iran Blames the West for Failure of Nuclear Meeting, Ready for Further Talks
Xinhua News Agency
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Iran blamed the western countries on Sunday for the failure of a nuclear meeting in Turkey and said that it is still ready for further talks.
Six world powers, namely the five permanent members of the UN Security Council including the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, plus Germany (P5+1), wrapped up nuclear talks with Iran without any progress in Turkey on Saturday.
Iranian lawmaker, Kazem Jalali, said Sunday that western countries, in particular the U.S., were responsible for the failure of the Istanbul talks.
The Islamic Republic entered the talks with clear offers and transparent, logical and practical stance, but unfortunately the West failed to seize the opportunity, Kazem Jalali was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
He said that Istanbul talks seemed to bring fruitful results, but some western countries and in particular the U.S. officials chose to make troubles in Istanbul talks as they used to do in the past.
The lawmaker reiterated that "they (Westerners) should end threat, sanction, pressure ... so that joint concerns could be dealt with based on collective respect."
He criticized the remarks of the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton concerning Iran's preconditions in the nuclear talks and said that her words are a "diplomatic mistake".
Ashton told a news conference at the end of the two-day talks in Istanbul on Saturday that P5+1 were "disappointed" with Iran's stance in the nuclear talks and its preconditions were unacceptable.
Ashton said no further meetings were planned but the door remained open for Iran if it chose to respond positively.
"We have not left table of talks so far and we are ready for negotiations," but the talks should be meaningful and based on recognition of Iranian nation's nuclear rights, Jalali said, according to ISNA.
"Ashton's remarks resulted from a diplomatic mistake, since Iran has always declared its readiness; and today the ball is in the western countries' court," Jalali was quoted as saying.
On Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran is ready and hopeful about the future talks with the world powers.
However, the talks should aim at recognizing the nuclear rights of Iran and other nations, he made the remarks in the Iranian northern city of Rasht when addressing a crowd.
The condition for the "good results" to be achieved from the future talks is that the world powers should be committed to "law, justice and respect," added Ahmadinejad.
Iran did not expect the issues over its nuclear program be settled in four or five sessions, said the president.
He also pointed out that Iran is ready for cooperation with the powers, adding that it is better for the West since Iran has achieved the nuclear technology and nothing can force it back on its path forward.
Earlier in the day, an Iranian nuclear official Ali Baqeri said Tehran is ready to hold talks regarding the nuclear fuel swap issue within the framework of mutual cooperation.
The two-day Istanbul meeting did not plan for further talks in the near future.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-01/23/c_13703809.htm
5. Iran Says No to Bilateral Nuclear Talks with U.S. in Istanbul - Agency
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Iran has rejected a proposal to hold bilateral talks on its nuclear program with the United States in Istanbul, where a meeting between the Iran Six and Teheran is now being held, Reuters reported on Saturday citing an Iranian official.
The last week, Iranian Acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran would not discuss its nuclear program in Istanbul.
"We will absolutely not recognize the negotiation if the other side wants to negotiate on the issue of the [Iranian] nuclear dossier," Salehi said.
The Iran Six, which comprises Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany, has been trying since 2003 to convince Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program and to alleviate concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
The West, led by the United States, suspects Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program, but the Islamic Republic, under a few sets of international sanctions already, insists it needs nuclear power only for civilian purposes.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20110122/162249686.html
6. Ashton: Iran's Stance at Nuke Talks "Disappointing"
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Six world powers were "disappointed" with the stance taken by Iran during nuclear talks in Istanbul, and its preconditions were unacceptable, European Union foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton said on Saturday.
Adressing a news conference at the end of the two days of talks, Ashton said there were no further meetings planned at present, but the door remained open for Iran.
"The process can go forward if Iran chooses to respond positively," she said. "We now wait to hear...whether Iran will respond on reflection."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE70L04C20110122
1. South Korea Mulls Talks With DPRK Over Denuclearization
Xinhua News Agency
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South Korea is considering proposing a preparatory meeting with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for talks over ending its nuclear program, the unification ministry said Monday.
South Korea has accepted the DPRK's proposal last week to hold high-ranking inter-Korean military talks to discuss pending military issues, including its alleged torpedo attack and shelling of a South Korean border island, and is mulling separate talks between high-ranking government officials from the two sides to discuss denuclearization.
The defense ministry also said it plans to propose a date for a working-level meeting this week to prepare for the high-ranking military talks Pyongyang proposed.
"Ministries concerned are currently discussing details of the proposals," ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-ju told reporters in a press briefing, without further divulging.
The talks, if held, will mark the first major contact between the two estranged neighbors after they suspended nearly all exchanges following a series of military provocations by Pyongyang.
They would also follow the recent summit between the Chinese and U.S. leaders, who called for improved inter-Korean ties and Pyongyang's commitment to its pledges of denuclearization.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-01/24/c_13704816.htm
Beijing has welcomed proposed talks between military officers from North and South Korea, the first since a deadly artillery attack sent relations on the peninsula into a tailspin.
"We welcome and support the move by North Korea and South Korea to improve their relations through dialogue, moving towards reconciliation and cooperation," said foreign affairs spokesman Hong Lei, according to a posting on the ministry's website.
"We hope this dialogue will bring about a positive result."
Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang became increasingly fraught during 2010, marked by the sinking of a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 sailors in March and the deadly shelling of a border island in November.
But since the beginning of the year, North Korea has made a series of overtures to the South, and on Thursday Seoul said it would accept an offer of high level military talks.
Seoul's unification ministry, however, stuck to its terms for dialogue -- that the North accept responsibility for the two attacks, promise no repetition and show sincerity about nuclear disarmament.
Washington has repeatedly demanded that Beijing put pressure on its recalcitrant ally -- something China has publicly appeared unwilling to do.
US President Barack Obama told his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, who has been in Washington this week, that North Korea poses a threat to American territory.
Obama said the US was considering redeploying its Asia-based forces to counter any possible attack from the North.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jMoco4IzygLfh33x95hfp0iqaUPQ?docId=CNG.0a687712ffe53e5e40c68adf7e648abe.261
4. Denuclearization Still Top Agenda Between Koreas: Ministry
Yonhap News Agency
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The denuclearization of North Korea remains an unexpendable issue for South Korea even as Seoul prepares for talks with Pyongyang over a pair of other security issues, an official said Friday.
The comments by Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung mean that South Korea will continue to press North Korea to agree to separate talks on the nuclear programs the communist state operates.
On Thursday, North Korea proposed holding "high-level" military talks with South Korea on the Nov. 23 artillery exchange between the sides and the sinking of a South Korean warship in March last year.
South Korea accepted the proposal within hours, after having refused for weeks to hold talks with the North until Pyongyang was ready to discuss the sinking of the Cheonan, its artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island and its nuclear arms ambitions.
"High-level governmental talks are also needed to confirm (North Korea's) commitment to denuclearization, which is the most important pending security issue," Chun said in a briefing.
North Korea argues its nuclear programs must be negotiated mainly with the United States because its atomic weapons are aimed at deterring an American invasion. Since a conservative government took power in 2008, South Korea, however, has demanded the issue be discussed also with Seoul in bilateral dialogue because atomic bombs pose the greatest threat to its national security.
The proposal on Thursday, signed by North Korea's defense minister and addressed to his South Korean counterpart, came on the heels of a joint statement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington, which called for sincere and constructive dialogue between the Koreas as an "essential step."
In a related development, South Korea's defense ministry said Friday that it plans to propose holding a preparatory meeting with North Korea next week ahead of the high-level inter-Korean talks.
The defense talks, if held, will be the first between the divided Koreas since North Korea's artillery attack on the western South Korean island killed two marines and two civilians and raised regional tensions to the highest level in years, if not decades.
North Korea argues it attacked because the South first fired at its side. Concerning the March sinking of the Cheonan warship, North Korea denies any role, demanding that Seoul accept an inspection team from Pyongyang to jointly verify its cause.
In May, a multinational investigation team led by Seoul concluded that a North Korean torpedo sank the ship, killing 46 sailors in the Yellow Sea.
Unveiling its proposal through the official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea said Friday it is "firmly willing to resolve all pending military issues" during its high-level talks with the South.
The proposal went on to say that the agenda would be "about defusing the state of military tension on the Korean Peninsula and the expression of opinions on the Cheonan incident and the Yeonpyeong artillery exchange," the KCNA said.
South and North Korea remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/01/21/33/0401000000AEN20110121004100315F.HTML
5. South Korea Accepts North Request for First Talks Since November Shelling
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South Korea said it will accept North Korea’s proposal to hold military talks, their first contact since Kim Jong Il’s regime shelled a South Korean island in November, killing four people.
South Korea decided to hold talks with North Korea after the communist nation yesterday said it was willing to discuss the artillery attack as well as the March sinking of a South Korean warship, according to an e-mailed statement from the Unification Ministry in Seoul. North Korea proposed discussing “ways to defuse military tensions,” the statement said.
The meeting will be the first between the two countries since Sept. 30, when their militaries failed to make progress on getting North Korea to acknowledge it sank the warship, killing 46 sailors. A renewed dialogue also comes amid exchanges among nations involved in stalled talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, including President Barack Obama’s meeting with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao this week in Washington.
Obama said Jan. 19 he “appreciated China’s role in reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula” and that he had agreed with Hu “that North Korea must avoid further provocations.” China is North Korea’s major political ally and economic benefactor.
“It’s not just North Korea, which is desperate for talks, but South Korea must have also felt international pressure to engage the North to help ease tensions,” said Paik Hak Soon, director of inter-Korean relations at the Sejong Institute outside Seoul. “Once dialogue resumes, the momentum will keep building to set the mood to discuss the North’s nuclear program.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg will visit South Korea on Jan. 26, before traveling to Japan and China, the State Department said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the three Asian countries last week when he said engagement between South Korea and North Korea should be made before broader disarmament discussions can resume.
The six-party nuclear forum, also involving Russia, last met in December 2008. The government in Pyongyang has since detonated a second nuclear device in 2009 and revealed to U.S. scientists in November a plant for enriching uranium, providing another means of making atomic bombs in addition to a previously known plutonium-based program.
Romanson Co., a Seoul-based watchmaker with operations at the Gaeseong industrial complex operated by South Korea and North Korea, gained 5.5 percent as of 11:20 a.m. in Seoul trading, the most since Sept. 13. Shinwon Corp., which also operates at the complex in North Korea, rose 3.5 percent, compared with the benchmark Kospi index’s 1.1 percent loss.
North Korea proposed holding “high-level” military talks in early February after opening preliminary discussions later this month, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported today, citing a letter sent to South Korea yesterday. The letter was signed by Kim Yong Chun, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and addressed to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin, according to KCNA.
The preliminary talks may take place in mid-February, Yonhap News reported, citing South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok.
South Korea has resisted repeated North Korean proposals for dialogue on economic projects this month, saying any talks must first address North Korea’s two attacks last year. North Korea denies any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan warship, and says the shelling was provoked by South Korea’s infringement of territory that North Korea claims as its own.
The Unification Ministry said yesterday there should also be separate inter-Korean talks where North Korea should reaffirm its commitment to giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Obama said North Korea’s uranium program is in violation of its commitment to denuclearization, which he and Hu agreed was the “paramount goal,” according to a transcript on the White House website.
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak said on Jan. 15 the United Nations Security Council should discuss North Korea’s uranium program. Lee made the comments to visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara.
North Korea is already under Security Council sanctions for its two nuclear tests, helping its economy shrink 0.9 percent in 2009, according to data from the Bank of Korea in Seoul.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-21/south-korea-accepts-north-request-for-first-talks-since-november-shelling.html
Over two dozen regulatory workers received training on the tenets of nuclear safety this week as part of a first step towards wider US support for the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC).
Yesterday marked the closing of a nuclear executive workshop held as part of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (USNRC) International Regulatory Development Partnership (IRDP), an initiative to reach out to states developing nuclear regulatory agencies.
According to the IRDP, the workshop is the start of wider cooperation with the USNRC to identify shortfalls and challenges facing the JNRC and provide training to support its mandate.
During the four-day workshop, IRDP experts and JNRC staff identified various institutional gaps and discussed siting, licensing and inspection of nuclear plants.
Officials highlighted the importance of ongoing training, noting that even with the most modern laws and regulations, it comes down to human resources to ensure safe operation of nuclear facilities.
“The problem is always the manpower,” said Sergey Katsenelenbogen of the IRDP, adding that although developing a staff and a regulatory framework to license, build, operate power plants and uranium mining to keep up with a rapidly developing nuclear programme is a tall order, the Kingdom is not alone in facing such an obstacle.
“Jordan is not unique in facing these challenges; many countries are also and with smart planning, they can,” Katsenelenbogen noted.
JNRC Director Jamal Sharaf said the commission has made it a priority to bolster cooperation in the field of nuclear safety with the US, the first country to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Kingdom in the field of nuclear energy.
“The USNRC is a house of knowledge; they are the top regulator in the world, and we are lucky to have their support,” he said, adding that the commission will seek US support to develop a nuclear “safety culture” ahead of major milestones in the country’s peaceful nuclear programme.
Meanwhile, Sharaf noted that the commission has forwarded 26 draft safety regulations to receive feedback from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the EU and other international partners. Once the feedback is complete, the JNRC will forward the regulations to the Cabinet for approval, he said.
The safety framework is to be in place ahead of the opening of the country’s first nuclear facilities, a sub-critical assembly unit expected to be completed early next year and a 5 megawatt (MW) nuclear research reactor to be brought online at Jordan University of Science and Technology by 2015.
The Kingdom’s nuclear power programme calls for the construction of a 1,000MW Generation III reactor within the next decade.
In parallel with the introduction of nuclear power for electricity generation, uranium mining is expected to commence in the central region within the next few years.
Available at: http://jordantimes.com/index.php?news=33681
1. Egypt to Seek Atomic Reactor Bids, South Korea Offers Building Help
Mohamed Abdel Salam
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South Korea is seeking to help Egypt build its nuclear plants in a move to further enhance economic cooperation between the two countries, Reuters news agency quoted Seoul-based Yonhap news agency as saying on Thursday.
“South Korea will work more closely with Egypt in infrastructure, finance, industrial complex construction, nuclear power plants, oil field development and fisheries,” the South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun Yoon was quoted as saying after he met his Egyptian counterpart Boutros Ghali in Cairo on Wednesday.
Egypt-South Korea trade reached a record high of US $2.85 billion during 2009.
In a related context, the Egyptian Electricity and Energy Minister Hassan Younis said on Sunday that Cairo will issue a tender for its nuclear power plants at the end of January and bidding companies will be given six months to present their offers.
Egypt is aiming to shift away from oil and gas to other sources and has said it wants to build four nuclear plants by 2025, with the first to start operating in 2019.
The Minister of Electricity noted that “the tender should be out by the end of January and is now being reviewed by the state council”.
The Egyptian Government hopes the new nuclear program will add capacity of up to 4000 megawatts by 2025.
“We have received interest for the bid from companies including France, the United States, China, Russia and Japan,” said Younes. The winner of the bid will be announced by the end of July or the beginning of August 2012, he added.
Egypt had invited several firms for consultancy and project briefings, including French nuclear reactor maker Areva, engineering group Alstom and Westinghouse Electric Co, a US-based unit of Japan’s Toshiba.
In 2009, Egypt signed a deal with Australia’s Worley Parsons for a nuclear power consultancy.
On Sunday, Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt’s biggest listed builder, said it had formed a joint venture with state-owned Arab Contractors to bid on nuclear projects in the Middle East, including Egypt’s first nuclear power plant. The plant will be located in Dabaa on the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Cairo has announced plans to establish four atomic energy reactors no later than 2025, with the first plant in Dabaa going online in 2019.
The minister said Egypt had no plans to pursue uranium enrichment, which can produce both reactor fuel and bomb-grade material.
“This is a peaceful nuclear program, so there are no problems,” Younis said.
Egypt has installed capacity of about 23,500 MW, but strained to meet demand during an unusually hot summer, leading to intermittent power cuts across the grid. It has said it aims for an additional 58,000 MW of capacity to the grid by 2027.
Available at: http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=24550
2. IAEA Review Finds UAE Nuclear Power Programme Progressing Well
Emirates News Agency
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded today an eight-day mission in Abu Dhabi that reviewed the nuclear power infrastructure of the United Arab Emirates.
The 12-member Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission of the IAEA found that the UAE understands its long-term commitments and responsibilities of nuclear power and is implementing its programme in line with the IAEA's "Milestones" approach.
The mission noted several areas where the UAE's approach could serve as good practices for other countries starting nuclear power programmes. These include cooperation between the regulatory bodies and the utility without compromising their independence, human resource development, a welluctured management system, and a strong safety culture.
"The UAE considers the INIR mission an important milestone for our civil nuclear energy programme," said Ambassador Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the IAEA, at today's exit meeting of the mission.
"I believe this mission once more highlights the nature and the progress of the UAE programme: We are open, we are transparent, we are developing a peaceful nuclear programme with the highest international standards," he added. "And we are eager to continue in our cooperation with the IAEA and follow its guidance." "Our emphasis on Emiratization of the nuclear workforce was well received. That is a confirmation that we are on the right track." The IAEA mission leader, Mr Jong Kyun Park, Director of IAEA Nuclear Power Division, agreed that "the mission was a success". He observed that no major gaps in the UAE's infrastructure were identified in the 19 areas covered by the review.
"The INIR Mission was conducted in a cooperative and open atmosphere with participation from various involved organizations in the UAE," Mr Park said.
"The team concluded that the development of the UAE's nuclear infrastructure is progressing well and in line with the IAEA's guidelines. This was the first mission to a country that has signed a contract for constructing nuclear power plants." The IAEA has so far despatched INIR missions to Jordan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. However, the mission to the UAE was a review of one of the most developed nuclear infrastructures among the IAEA Member States currently planning new nuclear power programmes.
The IAEA supports states interested in introducing nuclear power in their energy mix by providing standards, guidance, reviews and assessments, missions and assistance.
The IAEA's comprehensive "milestones" approach advises a country which intends to embark on nuclear power to integrate all aspects of their government, industry and educational institutions.
Hence, an INIR mission is a holistic review of a thorough self-evaluation of the country's nuclear power programme, based on IAEA guidelines, and is conducted upon request from the receiving state.
INIR is a recently-established tool designed to complement the IAEA Milestones document launched in 2007. The IAEA considers INIR as a valuable tool for promoting transparency and openness as it provides a comprehensive assessment of all facets of a nuclear power programme, spanning the regulatory body, utility and all relevant Government stakeholders involved.
Available at: http://www.wam.ae/servlet/Satellite?c=WamLocEnews&cid=1293604847683&pagename=WAM/WAM_E_Layout&parent=Query&parentid=1135099399852
India is confident of commissioning the first-of-its-kind Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) next year with the technology challenges confronting it having been overcome. The 500 MWe reactor, being developed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), uses a unique mix of uranium and plutonium which significantly enhances the capability to generate electricity per tonne of fuel utilised.
"Our anxiety about technological challenges for the construction of the country's first 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is over and we are at the closure for technology delivery," IGCAR Director Baldev Raj told PTI.
The indigenously-developed PFBR is at an advanced stage of construction under the aegis of state-owned Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (BHAVINI) and is expected to be commissioned early next year.
Raj said the technology developed by scientists at IGCAR was unique and the Indian PFBR would be the first such nuclear plant to be commissioned.
Some other countries, including Korea, are also developing fast breeder reactors but they could be commissioned only in 2025.
"We are confident of successfully commissioning the PFBR and are very cautious to deliver high capacity and high safety reactor of the second stage of the country's three-stage programme closed fuel cycle," Raj said.
"The confidence has been reviewed by the DAE as well as commented upon by the international peer review -- all favourably," he said.
The sodium-cooled PFBR uses Uranium-Plutonium mixed oxide as fuel.
The scientists have also successfully loaded 1,500 tonnes of the molten sodium which will be the coolant of the reactor. The total requirement is about 1,700 tonnes.
"We do not see any concern in commissioning the PFBR," he said.
This is a result of decades of focused research at IGCAR towards mastering the technology with which we now have 400 reactor years of experience, he said.
"We were able to overcome the technological challenges due to synergistic efforts of scientists of IGCAR, BHAVINI, the Indian manufacturing sector and about 200 academic institutions who have network with us," Raj said.
He said the technology development was done seven to eight years before launching PFBR in 2003.
India plans to have at least five more 500 MW fast breeder reactors by 2020, two of which could be set up at Kalpakkam.
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Reactor-to-be-commissioned-next-year/Article1-653660.aspx
4. Saudi to Sign Nuclear Deal, Cut Fossil Fuel Use
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Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia wants to cut fossil fuel use within the next several decades, it said at an industry event where nuclear reactor maker Areva (CEPFi.PA) is set to sign a major deal with a Saudi partner.
Although it sits on the world's largest oil and gas reserves, Saudi Arabia is struggling to keep up with rapidly rising power demand as petrodollars have fueled a Gulf-wide economic boom as well as a rapid population growth.
Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of the French nuclear reactor company, told reporters that Areva will sign a partnership agreement with Saudi Arabia's Binladin Group for nuclear and solar energy. She gave no specific figure.
"We think that on solar thermal in Saudi Arabia there's an important market and we are partnering with Saudi Binladin Group to develop this," Lauvergeon said.
The agreement with Areva, which is 90 percent-controlled by the French government through direct and indirect holdings, was due to be signed on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia wants to cut domestic oil consumption within the next several decades as it diversifies its energy mix including nuclear, Hashim Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewables Energy, told reporters.
"You want to have an energy mix to save oil, and this oil we can leverage prices so we can sell it abroad to build these facilities," Yamani said.
"Nuclear would be adequate for the base load, we'll use renewables to add more capacity, there are some variations -- gas and oil will have to continue to help," he said.
Total Saudi power demand is expected to triple to 120 gigawatts (GW) by 2050 from around 40 GW in 2010, said Yamani.
"Nuclear and renewable energy will reduce dependence on fossil fuels by 2050," Yamani said, adding that nuclear and renewable energy would free up more oil for exports. "Saudi will need to invest upfront in nuclear energy, but the oil saved will contribute significantly to the costs."
Given the high costs of developing nuclear energy, one rule of thumb in the industry has been that nuclear becomes a viable proposition when oil is $90 per barrel, where current prices hover around for U.S. crude CLc1.
In 2010, Saudi consumed 3.4 million barrels per day of oil equivalent, Yamani said, but declined to comment on when the first nuclear power plant would be built. By 2028, Saudi Arabia would be consuming more than eight million boepd, he added.
There has been high interest in nuclear power on the Arabian Pensinsula.
A consortium of EDF, Areva, GDF Suez and Total lost a $40 billion nuclear deal in Abu Dhabi to a South Korean consortium in December 2009.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE70M0D620110123
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