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Nuclear News - 1/27/2011
PGS Nuclear News, January 27, 2011
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. US, Germany Urge Tougher Iran Sanctions, PressTV (1/26/2011)
    2. Turkey Interested in Continuation of Nuclear Talks, Says Official, Hurriyet Daily News (1/26/2011)
    3. Israel: Sanctions on Iran Not Working, PressTV (1/26/2011)
    4. Tehran Only Trusts Russia in Nuclear Fuel Exchange: Iranian Envoy, Tehran Times  (1/26/2011)
    5. Russia Supports Further Talks with Iran on Nuclear Issue: FM, Xinhua News Agency (1/25/2011)
    1. South Korea Seeks Talks with North Korea Next Month, AFP (1/26/2011)
    2. Obama Backs Seoul and Demands North Korea Give Up Nukes, Andrew Quinn and Jack Kim, Reuters (1/26/2011)
    3. North Korea's Uranium Enrichment Rapped, UPI (1/26/2011)
    4. South Korea Wants UN Debate on North Korea Nuclear Project, AFP (1/25/2011)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Russia's Upper House Unanimously OKs New START, Associated Press (1/26/2011)
    2. Japan, Turkey to Discuss Civil Nuclear Agreement, The Mainichi Daily News (1/25/2011)
    3. Pakistan Warns Against India Nuclear Support, AFP (1/25/2011)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Turkey Links Possible French Nuclear Bid to EU Accession Deal, Platts (1/26/2011)
    2. MPs 'Skeptical' That Nuclear Power Stations Will Be Built on Time, Rowena Mason, The Telegraph (1/26/2011)
    3. Poland One Step Closer to Building Nuclear Plant, Warsaw Business Journal (1/26/2011)
    4. Construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant to Begin in September, RIA Novosti (1/25/2011)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Reactor Glitches Become Regular Occurrence in Russia’s Northwest, Bellona Foundation (1/26/2011)
    2. Russia to Continue Developing Missile Defense System, RIA Novosti (1/26/2011)

A.  Iran

Israel: Sanctions on Iran Not Working
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The new chief of Israel's military spy agency says sanctions against Iran's nuclear energy program have not been working.

Israel's military spy agency chief Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi made the comment on Tuesday in his first briefing to parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee since taking up the role in November, AFP reported.

Kochavi also expressed disagreement with the US assessment that sanctions have been hurting the Islamic Republic.

He stated that Iran is not working on the production of nuclear weapons, but added that the Islamic Republic could produce bombs within years — an allegation that Tehran has always denied.

Kochavi further pointed out that it was unlikely that Iran, which currently enriches uranium to 20 percent, would start enriching it to the 90 percent level needed for making a bomb.

Iranian officials have repeatedly refuted Western allegations that Tehran is following a military nuclear program, slamming what they call the double standards adopted by the West, in particular Israel -- the only player of the Middle East that possesses nuclear arsenal. Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity and medicines.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and thus has the right to enrich uranium to produce fuel. Tel Aviv has not signed the NPT.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

Tehran also accuses the Israeli regime of being behind assassinations of Iranian scientists.

Professor Ali-Mohammadi, a lecturer at the University of Tehran, was killed by a booby-trapped motorbike in the Iranian capital in January 2010. The bombing took place near the professor's home in the Qeytariyeh neighborhood of northern Tehran.

On November 29, unidentified terrorists attached bombs to the vehicles of Iranian university professors Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi and detonated them. Professor Shahriari was killed immediately, but Dr. Abbasi and his wife sustained minor injuries and were rushed to hospital.

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Tehran Only Trusts Russia in Nuclear Fuel Exchange: Iranian Envoy
Tehran Times
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Iran’s permanent ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Organization has expressed Iran’s readiness to directly exchange uranium with Russia without the participation of the United States and France.

According to the Interfax news agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh made the remarks in a live interview with the Moscow-based radio network “Echo of Moscow” on Friday.

On May 17, 2010, Iran, Turkey, and Brazil issued a declaration, according to which Iran was to ship 1200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel to power the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment. According to the agreement, the exchange was to take place in Turkey under the supervision of the IAEA and Iran.

-No need for U.S., French intervention in nuclear fuel exchange

Soltanieh said, “There is no need for the project involving the Americans; the Russians would be responsible for enrichment,” the University 5 Daily News reported.

Iran only trusts Russia in the issue of nuclear fuel exchange, he added.

“The French do not have to take part,” Soltanieh said. “I am convinced that, with existing technology in Russia, Moscow can make those fuel rods (uranium), so there is no need to involve the French.”

So far, the Russians have insisted that France’s collaboration is essential to carry out the project.

He expressed Iran’s readiness to negotiate with the Vienna group (the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States, France, and Russia).

“I do not know why Russia and other countries do not want to sit at the negotiating table with us in Vienna,” he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian ambassador said that Iran has not and will not abide by the UN Security Council resolutions since they are politically-motivated, lack legal weight, and violate the international law.

The hegemonic powers including the United States are using the UN Security Council as a tool, Soltanieh stated.

However, they have failed to pressure Iran, the top diplomat added.

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Turkey Interested in Continuation of Nuclear Talks, Says Official
Hurriyet Daily News
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Turkey’s government believes it can still play a role in facilitating talks between Iran and the West over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program despite being sidelined during recent negotiations in Istanbul, a Turkish official has said.

There is still a role for Turkey to play in future talks, a Turkish official who wished to remain anonymous recently told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

“But it will not be us pushing for an active role.” he said, implying Turkey may take modest initiatives and continue only if encouraged by both sides.

A two-day meeting last week between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group – composed of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – failed to produce a result, but the two sides have left the door open for further negotiations, the official said.

It remains uncertain, however, how the talks will resume in the absence of an agreement to meet again, with European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton insisting it was Iran’s responsibility to respond. “They know my phone number,” she told a news conference at the end of the talks.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his team came to Istanbul prepared to facilitate talks, yet Turkey’s involvement was unwanted by the P5 +1 group, with some suggesting European countries within the group do not want Turkey to play a more active role in the talks because they believe it is being used by Iran.

Davutoğlu hosted a dinner among the participants prior to the beginning of the talks but the photos of the dinner were not made available to the press afterwards due to the P5+1 group’s desire not to highlight Turkey’s role. Davutoğlu intervened only when the risk of a rupture in the talks was raised, the Daily News has learned.

Turkey voted against Iran sanctions at the U.N. Security Council last year after the nuclear swap deal it brokered with Iran was not accepted by the Western bloc.

“The approach of the West is not bringing results. It does not discourage Iranians; on the contrary they become more and more united behind their nuclear policies. Our approach, on the other hand, can encourage the Iranians to take a more flexible stance,” said the official.

The P5+1 group, however, believes the sanctions have started to hurt Iran – which was evidenced by Tehran’s desire to hold the latest round of talks in Istanbul, according to sources.

Iran was given some new proposals at the meeting while the nuclear swap deal still remains on the table, but must be renegotiated, the Daily News has learned.

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US, Germany Urge Tougher Iran Sanctions
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Despite numerous International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports verifying the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, the US and Germany threaten Iran with tougher sanctions.

In his annual State of the Nation address to the American people on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama announced that Washington would stay tough on Iran's nuclear program.

"Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before," Obama said.

The remarks came less than a week after representatives from Iran and the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany -- wrapped up their latest round of comprehensive talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Saturday.

On Sunday, one day after the multifaceted talks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed hope that appropriate results could be achieved in future sessions of negotiations “if the other side is determined and committed to justice, law and respect.”

He then went on to warn P5+1 officials against pursuing the path of Israel and urged them to get rid of pressure by certain "narrow minded" Zionist individuals “if you want talks to bear fruit.”

“In that case, grounds will be prepared for further interaction,” the Iranian chief executive stressed.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said she was disappointed with the fruitless talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, and urged further sanctions on Iran.

"It is up to Iran to dispel doubts which remain over its atomic program. Otherwise, things will continue along the sanctions route," she told a meeting of German diplomats.

The US and its allies, who accuse Iran of developing a military nuclear program, have used this pretext to pressure the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran's financial and military sectors in June.

Iranian officials have repeatedly denied the charges, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, Tehran has a right to peaceful nuclear technology.

As a goodwill gesture aimed at highlighting the transparency of its nuclear program, Iran invited international diplomats to visit the country's nuclear sites earlier in January.

Representatives from the IAEA, the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and the Arab League paid a two-day visit to Iran's nuclear facilities, including the heavy water reactor in the central Iranian city of Arak and the Natanz enrichment facility.

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Russia Supports Further Talks with Iran on Nuclear Issue: FM
Xinhua News Agency
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Russia stands for continuation of the talks on Iranian nuclear issue, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"Not all participants of the talks with the (Iranian) Secretary of Supreme National Security Council consider them (the talks) as a failure. It was very serious, very precise, blunt conversation about the issues which should be the essence of the future talks," Lavrov said, referring to last Friday's meeting between six major countries and Iranian representatives in Istanbul.

Lavrov said these future talks must touch other topics interesting for Iran. He said the date of the new talks has not been set up so far.

"We stand for continuation of such a dialogue. We have no other way but to find agreements which could be only political ones, mutually acceptable and based on the decisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UN Security Council," Lavrov was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

Earlier, European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, said the talks have brought no results. IAEA also said that Teheran did not present the proofs that its nuclear program was peaceful.

The West suspects Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons while Tehran holds its atomic energy program is peaceful.

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North Korea's Uranium Enrichment Rapped
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North Korea's uranium enrichment program is inconsistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions and its own commitments, a top U.S. official said Wednesday.

Speaking in Seoul where he stopped on the first leg of an Asian tour, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg urged the Communist country to take note of the "clear message" in last week's summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao, Yonhap news agency reported.

"It's very important that the international community send a strong message that the uranium enrichment program, indeed any uranium enrichment program by North Korea, would be inconsistent with its international obligations, with Security Council resolutions and with its own commitments," Steinberg said after meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.

The uranium enrichment program made known last November has raised concerns as it could be used to make more atomic weapons. The North is already under sanctions for conducting nuclear tests.

Obama and Hu "expressed concern" about the program, seen as important as China is the North's closest friend.

"I think the strong position that we've all taken and I think the clear message coming out of the summit between President Obama and President Hu should help drive that message home," Steinberg said.

Steinberg's Asia trip, which will also take him to China and Japan, comes as the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains tense because of the North's recent provocations and the six-nation talks on the North's denuclearization remain stalled.

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Obama Backs Seoul and Demands North Korea Give Up Nukes
Andrew Quinn and Jack Kim
(for personal use only)

U.S. President Barack Obama told North Korea to stick to its commitment to abandon atomic weapons, throwing his support behind ally South Korea ahead of talks to try to calm tension on the divided peninsula.

Seoul announced on Wednesday that it would hold its first meeting with North Korean officials since a deadly artillery attack on an island in the South in November.

"On the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons," Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

The two Koreas will meet at the border truce village of Panmunjom on February 11 for preliminary military talks to discuss last year's two deadly attacks against the South's Cheonan warship and the island of Yeonpyeong.

Seoul has held out the prospect of high-level military talks, possibly at ministerial level, if Pyongyang accepts responsibility for the attacks and agrees not to carry out such provocations again.

North Korea's foreign ministry said, without referring directly to the South's proposal for nuclear talks, that it was prepared to engage in any form of dialogue as long as it helped to reduce tension.

"It is our position that each party eliminate actions that will be seen as provocation by the other side by building confidence through dialogue and negotiations, and we are prepared to work to make that happen," an unnamed ministry spokesman said in comments carried by the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea denies it had anything to do with the sinking of the Cheonan and says the South provoked its artillery attack.

"To establish peace on the Korean peninsula and see true development of North-South relations, the North must accept these proposals," a South Korean unification ministry spokesman told a news briefing.

The South also wants separate bilateral talks with the North to ascertain its sincerity about denuclearization, an effort that comes as the Pyongyang urges regional powers to resume aid-for-disarmament negotiations -- so-called six-party talks -- it walked out of two years ago.

Few believe the North has any intention of honoring its 2005 pledge to denuclearize, citing revelations last November about its uranium program which give it a second route -- alongside its plutonium program -- to make a nuclear bomb.


Washington and Beijing, the North's only major ally, have both pressed the two Koreas to resolve their latest standoff before returning to the broader six-party process.

But analysts doubt the North will change its stand on the Cheonan attack, in which 46 sailors were killed, by admitting responsibility.

More likely, they say, Pyongyang may indicate regret about the killings of civilians during the Yeonpyeong attack.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg arrived in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss North Korea's recent efforts to restart dialogue, as well as Pyongyang's uranium enrichment program.

"We're beginning to make progress in persuading all the parties that we need to see concrete steps and sincere moves by North Korea to move forward, and if North Korea is prepared to move in that direction than we are prepared to do so as well," he told reporters.

Steinberg will also visit Japan and China.

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South Korea Seeks Talks with North Korea Next Month
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South Korea on Wednesday proposed holding working-level military talks with North Korea next month, in what would be their first dialogue since the North's deadly bombardment last November.

The defence ministry said it sent a message to the North suggesting a meeting on February 11 at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

The meeting is aimed at setting the time, place and agenda for higher-level military talks. Both sides agreed last week to hold the high-level meeting in an attempt to ease months of tensions.

The meeting at Panmunjom would be the first since the North shelled a South Korean border island on November 23, killing four people including civilians and sending tensions soaring.

Seoul's unification ministry in a statement also urged Pyongyang to agree to hold separate talks on its nuclear programme.

A ministry spokesman said such talks were necessary to verify the North's will for "denuclearisation, peace on the Korean peninsula and the true development of inter-Korean relations".

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South Korea Wants UN Debate on North Korea Nuclear Project
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South Korea made a fresh call Tuesday for the United Nations Security Council to debate North Korea's uranium enrichment programme, which according to experts could produce more nuclear weapons.

The issue of UN referral "will be discussed intensively" when US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg visits Seoul Wednesday, said Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan.

He said it would also be raised when Alexei Borodavkin, Russia's chief negotiator to stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear disarmament, visits on Friday.

Talks with the visitors would focus on efforts to create a favourable atmosphere for resumption of the six-party process, Kim told a news conference.

"We will continue diplomatic efforts to make North Korea realise the international community's stern position that it will not tolerate its nuclear development," he said.

The North last November showed off an apparently functioning uranium enrichment plant to visiting US scientists. It says this is part of a peaceful energy programme.

Experts say it could easily be reconfigured to produce weapons-grade uranium, giving the North a second way to make a bomb in addition to an acknowledged plutonium operation.

The UN Security Council ordered the North to scrap all nuclear programmes when it imposed fresh sanctions after the country's second atomic test in May 2009.

Steinberg is visiting South Korea and Japan to brief them on last week's Washington summit between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. He will go on to China.

China, the North's sole major ally, for the first time publicly expressed concern at the uranium enrichment programme in a summit joint statement.

Obama and Hu also called for "necessary steps" to restart the six-nation talks which the North abandoned in April 2009.

The North has expressed conditional willingness to return, as China wants.

But the United States, South Korea and Japan say Pyongyang must mend ties with Seoul which were strained by a deadly artillery attack last November on a South Korean island.

They say the North must also show it is serious about the nuclear forum, which has been meeting on and off since August 2003.

South and North Korea have agreed to hold high-level military talks at a date to be fixed, following the North's request.

But Seoul demands that Pyongyang accept responsibility for past armed provocations and promise no repetition.

In addition to the shelling, it accuses the North of sinking one of its warships last March with the loss of 46 lives, a charge denied by Pyongyang.

Seoul's Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek, who handles cross-border affairs, said it was unclear whether the North was sincere in proposing talks.

He said the North must take "responsible measures" to account for the deadly incidents, and reaffirm its six-party pledge to denuclearise. Otherwise, inter-Korean relations "will never move forward".

Yonhap news agency, quoting government sources, said the South would propose a working-level meeting around February 11 to prepare for the high-level military dialogue.

North Korea, striking a softer tone after months of tough rhetoric, said Tuesday it wants reconciliation.

"There is no reason whatsoever for South Korea not to accept the (North's) sincere proposal for dialogue if it acts with reason in the common interests of the nation," said ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

Russia's Upper House Unanimously OKs New START
Associated Press
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Russia's upper house of parliament unanimously ratified the New START nuclear arms pact with the United States on Wednesday, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's efforts to "reset" ties with Moscow.

The treaty limits each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200, and also re-establishes a system for monitoring that ended in December 2009 with the expiration of a previous arms deal.

The approval by Russia's Federation Council came one day after it was passed by the lower house of parliament. It now has to be signed by President Dmitry Medvedev.

The pact was approved by the U.S. Senate last month after Obama pressed strongly for its passage, telephoning a handful of hesitant Republicans to lock in their votes.

Democrats sought to appease some Republican senators by allowing them to raise concerns about the treaty in an accompanying resolution. The resolution didn't affect the text of the treaty, but Russian legislators felt compelled to offer their own interpretation of the pact's provisions in their ratification bill and accompanying statements.

While the Senate resolution said the treaty shouldn't restrict U.S. plans to develop a missile defense system, the Russian ratification bill states that the treaty can only be fulfilled if emerging missile defense systems don't erode the Russian nuclear deterrent.

The Russian bill also mimics the Senate resolution's concerns that the remaining nuclear arsenal is effective by emphasizing the need to modernize Russia's nuclear forces.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told the upper house Wednesday that Russia was working to develop its own missile defense system, but didn't give any specifics.

Addressing concerns about Russia being forced to disarm under the treaty, he said that Russia now has a significantly smaller number of missiles and bombers than the treaty allows anyway.

"The treaty doesn't constrain us in any way," Serdyukov said. "Its parameters considerably exceed our potential today."

Even after a decade of beefing up its arsenals, Russia won't reach the treaty's upper limit, he said, adding that Russia doesn't need a larger number of nuclear weapons to protect itself.

"We have a program envisaging how many missiles we will put on duty in the next decade ... but even then we still won't reach the treaty's parameters," Serdyukov said.

Aging Soviet-built-missiles still form the core of Russia's nuclear forces, and the military has struggled to build their replacement. The Bulava missile, intended for the latest generation of Russia's nuclear submarines, has suffered a string of test failures and it remains unclear when it will be ready.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the ratification, saying it was "good news for international security and stability."

"It will make an important contribution to strengthening transparency, predictability and cooperation," he said in a statement. "I also hope that political momentum generated by this treaty will help (NATO) and Russia to make concrete progress in their strategic partnership, including in the field of missile defense."

NATO has approved a plan for a U.S.-led missile defense in Europe last fall and invited Russia to join. Medvedev was receptive of NATO's proposal but has not made a definite commitment.

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Japan, Turkey to Discuss Civil Nuclear Agreement
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

The Japanese and Turkish governments will hold their first talks in Ankara on Tuesday and Wednesday on a bilateral nuclear treaty to pave the way for Japan to secure an order for the construction of an nuclear power plant in the northern Turkish city of Sinop, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The two countries agreed in December to conclude within a three-month period whether Japan would receive the order.

Turkey's negotiations with South Korea regarding the order have been stalled since last November due to differences over pricing.

A civil nuclear agreement sets a legal framework for the peaceful use and transfer of nuclear power technologies.

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Pakistan Warns Against India Nuclear Support
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Pakistan warned on Tuesday that growing international support for rival India's nuclear programme would force Islamabad to bolster its deterrence and destabilise the region.

In the opening session of the 2011 Conference on Disarmament, Pakistan's ambassador Zamir Akram sharply criticised reported moves to bring its neighbour into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and other bodies that allow trade in nuclear materials, including for weapons.

"Apart from undermining the validity and sanctity of the international non-proliferation regime, these measures shall further destabilise security in South Asia," Akram said.

"As a consequence Pakistan will be forced to take measures to ensure the credibility of its deterrence. The cumulative impact would be to destabilise the security environment in South Asia and beyond," he told the 65 nation conference.

He said Pakistan maintains its opposition to negotiations on a ban on the production of new nuclear bomb-making material, a lone public stance that has blocked the Conference on Disarmament despite pressure from major powers.

US disarmament ambassador Laura Kennedy told journalists last week that negotiations on a ban, a Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT), were a priority for Washington.

"We believe that this is long overdue, it?s a priority. And this sense of urgency is not, again, simply one of the United States, but is widely shared," Kennedy said.

Akram earlier told journalists that Pakistan "would like a treaty that deals with stocks not just future production."

Nuclear powers broke more than a decade of deadlock in May 2009 by agreeing on a work plan at the world's only multilateral arms control forum, which can only make decisions unanimously.

The plan included full negotiations on a fissile material ban, as well as talks on nuclear disarmament, the arms race in space and security assurances for non-nuclear states.

However, the disarmament conference has slumped back into deadlock since then, as Pakistan raised fresh objections.

"We believe that we need to build a capacity that is a credible deterrence at the lowest levels," Akram explained earlier, adding that Pakistan would nonetheless not seek to entirely match India's nuclear capability.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was expected to push for progress in the conference during a visit to Geneva on Wednesday.

Diplomats widely regard the FMCT as a key building block in breaking the spread of nuclear weapons.

But non nuclear states as well as some countries with smaller atomic arsenals insist on parallel progress on the other issues, especially full nuclear disarmament by the big powers.

Parts of the Geneva plan, including the fissile ban, underpinned an agreement between 189 nations including the major powers at the UN's nuclear non proliferation (NPT) conference last May.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

MPs 'Skeptical' That Nuclear Power Stations Will Be Built on Time
Rowena Mason
The Telegraph
(for personal use only)

The Energy Committee said it was "skeptical" that Britain's target of switching on two nuclear power stations a year between 2020 and 2025 would be reached.

The UK needs a huge number of new nuclear power stations to make up for the coal-fired stations being switched off over the next decade. However, the committee warned that the Coalition's new planning system did not appear to be capable of making sure the 12 new stations are located in the right places to be linked up to the electricity grid.

"Hooking up this amount of nuclear and other generation to the national grid poses an unprecedented challenge," said Tim Yeo, its chairman. "Two plants a year is a very high target to reach. The [system] lacks any real framework for coordinating the process of siting and linking up the new power stations."

The MPs' report also cast doubt on current plans to make sure there is a deep hole for disposing of radioactive waste within 110 years. It called on the Government to insist that there are sufficient interim ways of storing the material before allowing new plants to be built.

The politicians argued the Government should have more right to dictate what type of power stations are built to stop the UK being "dangerously dependent on fossil fuels". The committee said it was "extremely concerned" that too many gas stations will be built under the new planning laws.

It said the new regime accountable to the Energy Secretary was an improvement on the old one directed by an independent watchdog.

However, it argued Britain remains unlikely to get the £200bn of investment in new generation that it needs under these rules.

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Poland One Step Closer to Building Nuclear Plant
Warsaw Business Journal
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All laws necessary for the launch of a nuclear power plant construction program in Poland are to be adopted by Parliament before the end of June, reports Rzeczpospolita.

At a press conference after a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that preparing the legislation in the first half of 2011 is an ambitious plan, but a realistic one.

The government discussed the planned nuclear power program and received information on the subject, prepared by the Economy Ministry. As anticipated, the government approved a draft amendment to the nuclear power law, which is expected to reach the Sejm in the next few days.

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Turkey Links Possible French Nuclear Bid to EU Accession Deal
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Turkey is interested in a possible bid from a French consortium to build the country's second planned nuclear power plant, but the success of any bid may be affected by France's continuing opposition to Turkey's EU accession, a spokesman for Turkey's energy ministry told Platts late Tuesday.

The spokesman said that the warning had been made by Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz in response to a question during a press conference Monday where he confirmed that under an agreement with Japan Turkey was engaged in exclusive talks with Japanese companies until the end of March.

"If that exclusivity agreement ends with no further agreement then we'll be open to bids from French companies," the spokesman said.

"However, irrespective of how good any bids are they may be rejected if France continues its opposition to Turkey joining the EU," he added.

In a separate statement circulated to the media late Tuesday, Turkey's energy ministry announced that Yildiz will receive Japanese ambassador to Ankara Nobuaki Tanakaya and a Japanese foreign ministry official Dr Matio Niogawa on an official visit on Wednesday afternoon.

Turkish energy ministry officials said earlier this month that the ministry had been approached by a consortium of EDF, GDF Suez and Areva over the planned construction of the country's second nuclear power plant at Sinop on Turkey's Black Sea, but that no concrete steps to formalizing talks would be taken for the next three months due to an existing exclusivity agreement with Japan signed in December concerning discussions on the same project.

That agreement prohibits Turkey from opening detailed talks with any other countries until the end of March while negotiations with Japan continue, and allows for the two sides to produce a feasibility study for a nuclear plant at Sinop and to discuss details of the plant's technical and financial specifications.

The plant under discussion with Japan will consist of four units of 1.35 GW, with Japan also being asked to fund the construction and operation of a "nuclear university" to train technicians in the development and operation of nuclear technology.

Officials have said the ongoing talks with Japan cover the possibility of Turkey offering offtake guarantees for the plant, but that any guarantee would be from Turkey's state power trading authority TETAS and would not be a sovereign guarantee from the Turkish treasury.

Previous exclusive discussions with Korea over the construction of a nuclear power plant on the same Sinop site foundered in November due to the Koreans' insistence on receiving treasury-backed offtake guarantees rather than guarantees from TETAS.

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Construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant to Begin in September
RIA Novosti
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The construction with Russian assistance of a nuclear power plant in Belarus will begin in September, the head of Russia's nuclear agency, Rosatom, said on Tuesday.

An inter-governmental agreement may be signed next month, Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said during a meeting with Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich.

He said a $6-7-million credit agreement is likely to be inked in June.

"The contract will envisage that the construction of the first unit will be finished by 2017, but given that we can speed up the process, it may be finished by 2016," Kiriyenko said.

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E.  Links of Interest

Reactor Glitches Become Regular Occurrence in Russia’s Northwest
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

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Russia to Continue Developing Missile Defense System
RIA Novosti
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