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Nuclear News - 12/8/2011
PGS Nuclear News, December 8, 2011
Compiled By: Michael Kennedy

A.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Japan Mulls $13 Billion Fukushima Bailout, Linda Sieg and Kentaro Hamada, Reuters (12/8/2011)
    2. Stepping Towards Nuclear-Free Middle East, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, Inter Press Service (12/7/2011)
    3. Greenpeace Breach of EDF Nuclear Sites ‘Unacceptable’, Tara Patel, Bloomberg, Bloomberg (12/7/2011)
    4. Metsamor Reprieved: Power Plant Likely to Not Be Decommissioned As Scheduled, Armenia Now (12/7/2011)
B.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Slovakia and US to Cooperate Against Nuclear Trafficking, The Slovak Spectator (12/8/2011)
    2. U.S., China Move to Stop Smuggling of Nuclear Materials, Melanie Lee, Reuters (12/7/2011)
    3. Obama, Clinton Praise Indonesia Over Nuclear Treaty, Agence France-Presse (12/7/2011)
    4. Russian-Czech Nuclear Energy JV Planned, Brian Kenety, Czech Position (12/7/2011)
    5. Amid Court Claims, Russia Offers 'Unique Bargain' for Bulgarian Belene NPP, Sofia News Agency (12/6/2011)
    6. India, US Seeking Common Ground on Civil Nuclear Issue, The Economic Times (12/6/2011)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Gates Discussing New Nuclear Reactor With China, Associated Press (12/7/2011)
    2. Nuclear Power to Become 'Foundation' of Country's Electrical System, Du Juan, China Daily (12/7/2011)
D.  North Korea
    1. US Officials Due in Seoul to Discuss NK, Myanmar, The Korea Times (12/7/2011)

A.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Japan Mulls $13 Billion Fukushima Bailout
Linda Sieg and Kentaro Hamada
(for personal use only)

The Japanese government may inject about $13 billion into Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) as early as next summer in a de facto nationalization of the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, sources said on Thursday.

Tepco's future as an independent firm has been in doubt since an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant in March, triggering the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years and leaving it with huge compensation payments and clean-up costs.

In addition to public capital, the government and Tepco will also seek additional loans from banks, sources said, but the full scale of any Tepco bailout remains unclear.

Some analysts expressed doubt that the government would take the drastic step of taking control of the giant monopoly, which still has political clout, but the idea has proponents in some sections of Japan's ruling party.

"You have an essentially bankrupt operation, and if you are going to save it, it's going to cost a lot," said Andrew Dewit, a Rikkyo University professor who writes about energy policy.

"You've got a very bad picture getting worse, and dithering just ups the cost."

Tepco President Toshio Nishizawa was mentioned as saying a public fund injection could not be ruled out. "It is better to keep all options, so I don't deny it," Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying in an interview on Thursday.

Tepco has made progress in bringing the Fukushima plant under control and is on track to declare a "cold shutdown" -- when water used to cool the reactors is stable below boiling point -- before the end of the year.

But decommissioning four reactors at the plant is set to cost at least 1.2 trillion yen ($15.4 billion), a sum that would render Tepco insolvent if drastic measures to shore up its financial base were not taken, media reports said.

The Mainichi newspaper reported earlier on Thursday that the government planned to inject at least $13 billion and perhaps as much as $27 billion, while Kyodo news agency said the total bailout could reach 3 trillion yen ($38.5 billion) over four years, with half coming from private borrowings.

A government-run bailout fund would buy new stocks such as preferred shares to be issued by the utility, sources said.

Shares in Tepco slid as much as 17 percent before regaining some ground to end down 11 percent at 244 yen.

"The report got investors worried that Tepco could possibly become insolvent," said Hiroyuki Fukunaga, CEO of Investrust. "If they need 1 trillion yen to avoid that, then the money is not coming from anyone but the government."

Tepco would need to get shareholder approval to raise the ceiling on the number of shares it can issue at its next annual meeting in June.

To cover costs, Asia's biggest utility is pushing for hikes in electricity charges. It also wants permission to restart nuclear reactors, particularly those that have been idled at its biggest plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

Five of the seven reactors at that plant are off-line for checks or repairs, and two more are scheduled for planned shutdowns before May 2012.

But the ruling party has concluded that the public would be unwilling to accept higher electricity fees, particularly at a time when it is being asked to accept a hike in the sales tax to cover social security costs, Mainichi said, while restarting idled reactors is difficult due to public fears about safety.

Pushing Tepco to accept capital would also allow the government to pursue drastic reform of energy policy, including separating power generation from distribution, the paper said.

But experts questioned whether the two would necessarily go hand in hand. The government aims to finish a review of national energy policy, including nuclear power, by next summer.

"Nationalization could be a first step toward such reforms as splitting generation and distribution," said Rikkyo University's Dewit. "But whether this is a trial balloon and gets shot down in the short run,
who's to say?"

The Mainichi report said a government panel led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura could, in the new year, announce plans to inject public funds, though Fujimura told reporters the issue of public funds was not now on the table.

Tepco is due to announce new steps in the coming days, which include an increase in its planned cost cuts over 10 years by 100 billion yen to 2.64 trillion yen as well as the sale of a thermal power plant, a source has said.

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Greenpeace Breach of EDF Nuclear Sites ‘Unacceptable’
Tara Patel, Bloomberg
(for personal use only)

Security at French nuclear installations will be tightened after Greenpeace activists broke into two Electricite de France SA atomic plants, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.

“This was not acceptable,” Gueant said today in parliament. “Rules on the security of all sensitive installations including nuclear will be reviewed.”

Greenpeace campaigners broke into the plants on Dec. 5 to highlight what the environmental group said was a lack of security. The intruders spent about four hours in the Nogent- sur-Seine plant southeast of Paris and about 14 hours inside the grounds of the Cruas installation, the organization has said. EDF has confirmed the intrusions. A probe is ongoing, Gueant said.

France’s nuclear regulator is carrying out safety checks at atomic installations in France to determine whether they are safe following the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima station. The audits are examining whether the sites are able to withstand earthquakes, floods and loss of power and cooling systems.

Their scope should be widened to test for other risks such as terrorist attacks, plane crashes and computer bugs, Greenpeace said.

“The police chose not to use force against the intruders so as not to put lives in danger,” according to Gueant, referring to the break-in at Nogent-sur-Seine. “The physical integrity of the site was never threatened and no one was able to penetrate into the area where nuclear energy is produced.”

Greenpeace and EDF have been in conflict for years over France’s power production, more than three-quarters of which is nuclear. Atomic safety has received more scrutiny in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, with opposition parties in France calling for some reactors to be shut down.

A surprise visit to EDF’s Paluel nuclear plant by the atomic regulator last week uncovered safety shortcomings in an exercise simulating the need to restart power during an accident.

The exercise “didn’t comply with the expected exactness” required for an accident procedure, the regulator said in a document published on its website. Procedural rules weren’t clear in some cases and keys for some equipment were missing, the regulator said in a letter to EDF asking for modifications.

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Metsamor Reprieved: Power Plant Likely to Not Be Decommissioned As Scheduled
Armenia Now
(for personal use only)

In the opening speech at the 12th sitting of the Atomic Energy Security Council (AESC) on Tuesday President Serzh Sargsyan made implications that the Armenian government will likely delay the decommissioning of Metsamor nuclear power plant that was originally expected to start by 2017.

“Armenia has a strategic program of energy development, where the nuclear energy development program plays a pivotal role. Only the existence of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) in fundamental energy production will ensure the necessary energy security level in the country. For this very reason any discussion over the fate of the second energy unit is closely connected to the time frames for the construction of a new nuclear energy unit. It is obvious that in case of a delay in the introduction of the new power-generating unit, we will have to solve the issue of extending the exploitation of ANPP’s second power-generating unit,” said the president addressing the council.

Yerevan has been under pressure from the United States and the European Union to shut down the plant ever since one of its two reactors was reactivated in 1995. Armenian officials have insisted, however, that the reactor, which provides about 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity, is safe enough.

“We can understand the donor countries’ position on the need for the Armenian side to be the co-financer of the works aimed at increasing the security level of the power plant. There are, however, certain difficulties in that respect…” said the president, explaining that in 2010 the prices for gas were raised, but electricity prices were kept the same for the fear of deepening social vulnerability of the population. “But the prices for nuclear fuel have increased as well as the cost of renovation.

Consequently, the power plant’s tariff margin [the difference between the nuclear fuel and electricity tariff] is insufficient to cover all the expenses,” he said adding that they are looking for additional resources.

Sargsyan also stressed that no matter what it takes but “we have to make sure that the second check of the plant scheduled for late 2012 early 2013 confirms tangible progress in increasing the security level of the plant exploitation… for this purpose we have decided to hold stress-testing of the ANPP’s functioning energy unit. The European Union has promised to help us in timely implementation of the test, the results of which will be ready in the second quarter of 2012.”

Chairman of the Council, German nuclear scientist Adolf Birkhofer assured that Armenia’s Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is in proper condition and is in accord with European and US standards and added that the recent “misinformation” by Turkey and Azerbaijan on the safety of the plant are not true.

“Such statements have always been made. There have been similar statements about the German Nuclear Power Plant, but this does not correspond to reality,” Berghoffer said at the end of the AESC meeting (referring to the recent Turkish and Azeri statements, voiced after the earthquake in Van last month, claiming that the Metsamor plant poses a threat to the region).

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Stepping Towards Nuclear-Free Middle East
Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
Inter Press Service
(for personal use only)

Representatives from over 65 organisations and countries convened in Amman, Jordan last week in an effort to lay the groundwork for the United Nations’ goal of creating a Middle East without nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

"More than 11 specialised tracks were discussed throughout the meeting, (including) most importantly, the role of UN instruments in declaring the Middle East as a nuclear weapons free zone, the security implications of a (weapons of mass destruction free zone), prospects of establishing a nuclear fuel cycle, (and) nuclear security in the Middle East," explained Ayman Khalil, director of the Arab Institute for Security Studies (ACSIS), one of the conference organisers.

Called ‘Laying the Grounds for 2012: Opportunities for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Security’, the three-day conference highlighted challenges that persist in the lead-up to the UN’s 2012 conference on creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

The May 2010 review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – which takes place every five years – called for this UN-sponsored conference. In October, it was announced that Finland would host the conference, and that Finish under secretary of state for foreign and security policy, Jaakko Laajava, would facilitate it.

"The meeting (in Amman) provided a forum for coordination and exchanging views amongst national, regional and international parties (and) highlighted challenges, requirements and prerequisites for active participation and engagement by all states of the region in the 2012 process," Khalil told IPS.

In 1995, the final statement of the NPT Review and Extension Conference called upon all states in the Middle East to build a region free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and urged other states to promote nuclear non-proliferation.

"All States of the Middle East that have not yet done so, without exception, (must) accede to the (NPT) as soon as possible and to place their nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards," the final statement read.

Signed into force in 1970, the NPT aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology, and further the goal of nuclear disarmament around the world. In all 190 parties are currently signatories to the Treaty, including the five official nuclear-weapons states: China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

It is widely believed that Israel, which hasn’t signed the NPT, is also in possession of nuclear weapons. According to Khalil, this unwillingness to sign the NPT is the biggest obstacle to creating a nuclear-free Middle East.

"Despite the willingness of all states in the region to create a (nuclear weapons free zone) in the Middle East, the establishment of such a zone remains unachievable. The biggest obstacle, of course, is the non- commitment of some states to the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Khalil said.

"There exist a number of other challenges that make this objective quite challenging, namely the existence of an Arab-Israeli conflict, and the possession and development of nuclear programmes in the region," Khalil said.

In recent months, various governments placed sanctions on Iran after reports surfaced that the country was building up its nuclear weapons arsenal and capabilities, a charge that Iranian officials have consistently denied.

The situation has raised fears of a confrontation between Jerusalem and Tehran that could ignite the entire region. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the world "to stop Iran's race to arm itself with a nuclear weapon before it is too late."

According to Khalil, however, "putting both Iran and Israel in the same basket may be a complicating factor," since Iran is a signatory to the NPT and has so far committed to IAEA inspections, while Israel is a non-signatory to the NPT and has so far maintained an ambiguous policy.

"Israeli non-conventional capabilities were addressed in the meeting (in Amman). Israel being the only state who has not signed the NPT and currently is acquiring nuclear weapons to achieve deterrence against modest conventional capabilities of its neighbors qualifies to the description of ‘undisciplined child’," Khalil said.

"Obviously if the 2012 process is to succeed, both Iran and Israel have to be active participants in the proposed meeting."

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B.  Nuclear Cooperation

Slovakia and US to Cooperate Against Nuclear Trafficking
The Slovak Spectator
(for personal use only)

On December 7 Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a common action plan between the two countries in Brussels aimed at fighting illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials and related technologies, the SITA newswire reported.

Dzurinda said that Slovakia and the United States were determined to bolster international and regional cooperation in detection, investigation and prosecution of nuclear traffickers.

The document consists of forty-four priority measures. The SITA newswire said it pledges the two countries to cooperate to battle nuclear terrorism and features specific projects, for instance, upgrade of equipment detecting radiation, training of experts, sharing experience with neighbouring countries and installation of technical equipment at borders.

"Implementing these projects will help create a safer and more stable international community," the press department of the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry told SITA.

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Obama, Clinton Praise Indonesia Over Nuclear Treaty
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised Indonesia for ratifying the nuclear test ban treaty CTBT, a move which brought the pact one step closer to coming into force.

Obama said the move by a country where he spent four years as a boy showed the “positive leadership role” that Indonesia could play in combating the spread of nuclear weapons.

“I urge all states to sign and ratify the agreement so that it can be brought into force at the earliest possible date,” Obama said.

The president also said that he will continue to press the US Senate to ratify the treaty, which he said was important to future US security.

“America must lead the global effort to prevent proliferation, and adoption and early entry into force of the CTBT is a vital part of that effort,” Obama said.

The Senate blocked ratification of the treaty in 1999 and it has still not been ratified, despite a pledge by the Obama administration to seek such a step.

Advocates say US ratification of the treaty would send an important signal to the rest of the world on the importance of checking nuclear proliferation.

But US critics of the treaty argue that by committing itself to a long-term binding pledge never to test nuclear weapons, the United States could undermine confidence in its atomic weapons arsenal.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also praised Indonesia’s move.

“The United States, which has observed a moratorium on nuclear explosive testing since 1992, is committed to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and to its early entry into force,” she said.

“The United States calls on all governments to declare or reaffirm their commitment not to conduct explosive nuclear tests, and we urge all states that have not yet ratified the treaty to join us in this effort,” Clinton said in a statement.

So far, the CTBT, which aims to outlaw all nuclear explosions, has been signed by 182 states but 44 key states — all with nuclear technology — need to ratify it before it can come into force.

With Indonesia’s vote, 36 of these countries have now ratified the treaty.

But among those still missing are North Korea, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, India, China and the United States — all states known to have or suspected of developing nuclear weapons.

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Russian-Czech Nuclear Energy JV Planned
Brian Kenety
Czech Position
(for personal use only)

Russia and the Czech Republic will sign an agreement to establish a joint venture to promote the exchange of advanced technologies in the civilian nuclear power sector during the two-day visit to Prague of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

Medvedev, who is due to arrive in the Czech capital at 7:00 p.m. this evening, will also discuss bilateral trade and cooperation in the energy, transportation and technology sectors with his counterpart, Václav Klaus (who invited him for the visit), and Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS).

Russia’s nuclear fuel producer TVEL, which supplies the Czech nuclear plant Temelín, and the Czech firm ALTA Invest are to sign an agreement on the establishment of the Technical Services Center “to enable the exchange of technologies for civil nuclear applications, including power generation,” RIA Novosti said, citing the Kremlin press service.

Russia remains a key energy supplier to the Czech Republic, meeting 80 percent of the country’s demand for natural gas and 70 percent of its oil needs, the report noted. A Russia-Czech consortium led by Rosatom is one of three bidders in the multi-billion dollar bid to expand the Temelín plant, run by the state-controlled electricity producer ČEZ, by two new reactor blocks — and the consortium’s bid for the tender is expected to top Medvedev’s agenda.

The Russian leader will also sign a bilateral strategic partnership agreement between the countries economic chambers — the “Declaration on industries’ modernization” — that aims to increase the competitiveness of the two countries, The Voice of Russia website reported on Wednesday.

In this regard, ALTA’s projects at a number of large Russian enterprises will also be discussed, along with the participation of Czech companies in the construction of railroads in Yamal, in the north of Russia, and the establishment of JVs in the construction, timber processing, food production and medical equipment sectors, the website said.

According to RIA Novosti, Russian-Czech trade totaled $6.6 billion in January-September 2011, marking an 11.4 percent growth year-on-year.

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U.S., China Move to Stop Smuggling of Nuclear Materials
Melanie Lee
(for personal use only)

The United States and China launched a radiation detection system at a Shanghai port on Wednesday, part of a global effort to halt smuggling of nuclear materials that can be used in bombs.

The equipment, installed in Yangshan, will be able to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials in cargo containers, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in a statement.

"This port demonstrates in a real, significant, symbolic way as well, the commitment of the Chinese government to detecting nuclear material and combating nuclear terrorism," Thomas D'Agostino, administrator of NNSA said in a speech in Shanghai.

The device is part of the NNSA's Megaports Initiative, the goal of which is to equip more than 100 seaports with radiation detection equipment to scan about 50 percent of global shipping traffic by 2018.

So far, 34 ports have been installed with the equipment.

The United States and China have a complicated relationship when it comes to nuclear arms proliferation.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran in the belief that its nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists the program is for peaceful nuclear energy purposes.

China's Foreign Ministry said last month it opposed unilateral sanctions against Iran after the United States, Britain and Canada said they would impose a new round of sanctions to halt its nuclear program.

Shanghai's main port became the world's busiest container port last year, handling more than 29 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2010.

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Amid Court Claims, Russia Offers 'Unique Bargain' for Bulgarian Belene NPP
Sofia News Agency
(for personal use only)

Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom's price offer for Bulgarian Belene NPP is spectacularly low and Bulgaria should hasten to accept it, said Rosatom's vice-director Kirill Komarov.

"Taking into account the raging economic crisis in Europe, we have made a very attractive proposal for Belene. It is hard to believe that we will ever make such a unique proposal to another country," said Komarov as reported by the Bulgarian National Radio Tuesday.

The Bulgarian and Russian parties have been long disputing the final price for the Belene NPP, with Bulgaria arguing that Russia's proposal of EUR 6.3 B is way to high, and setting a ceiling of EUR 5 B.

"Given our proposal, Bulgaria will have to invest not a penny more than it already has, getting in return
51% ownership over a brand new NPP," commented Rosatom's vice director.

In the past months, Rosatom and Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK filed two independent claims against each other at European arbitration courts over the much-delayed Belene NPP project.

Rosatom's EUR 58 M claim filed July at a court in Paris demands damages over delayed payments for equipment by the Bulgarian party.

In October, NEK filed a EUR 61 M claim at a court in Geneva against alleged delayed buying back of old equipment for Belene by the Russian party.

End of September, Rosatom and NEK had agreed on a 14th annex to their contract for Belene NPP, allowing them to extend the deadline for final agreement on the project unitl March 2012.

Tuesday Rosatom's Komarov stated, as reported by the Bulgarian National Radio, that the Russian company is "ready to wait as long as necessary" until an agreement for the financing of the project is reached.

He also reiterated the willingness of Russia's Rosatom to single-handedly finance the finishing of Belene NPP.

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India, US Seeking Common Ground on Civil Nuclear Issue
The Economic Times
(for personal use only)

India and the US are expected to seek a common ground on the implementation of civil nuclear deal when Deputy Secretary of State William Burns travels to New Delhi later this month amid attempts by two sides to avoid rhetoric in public.

The issue which has been a matter of contention due to India's nuclear liability law is expected to dominate the discussions that Burns will have with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and with other officials.

Sources pointed out that despite strong reservations on this issue, after the Indian Government issued the Gazette notification last month, the Obama Administration has decided to not to come out with its view.

India and the US appear to have agreed to avoid finger-pointing in public on the contentious nuclear liability issue and are internally working to find out a common ground.

The consequence of the new approach is that the US government has officially held off any public comment on the Implementation Rules, preferring to work with India through quiet diplomacy.

In fact, there is no consensus both inside the US Government and the American corporate sector on how to respond to this nuclear issue, said a nuclear expert who is intimately knowledgeable about the situation and regularly interacts with government officials in the US and India, involved in negotiating on this subject, as well as with US nuclear industry and legal community.

"The US and India are trying to find a common ground to keep the hopes of civil nuclear commerce between the two countries alive," said the expert who requested anonymity given the sensitive nature of the ongoing negotiations.

It is learnt that the American corporate sector recently submitted to the State Department its viewpoint on India's Gazette notification.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

Gates Discussing New Nuclear Reactor With China
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.

"The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste," said the billionaire during a talk at China's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Gates said he had largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium. TerraPower says it has discussed its plans with India, Russia and other countries with nuclear energy programs.

The general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation, Sun Qin, was quoted in Chinese media last week saying Gates was working with it to research and develop a reactor.

"TerraPower is having very good discussions with CNNC and various people in the Chinese government," said Gates, cautioning the talks were at an early stage.

Gates says perhaps as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development over the next five years.

TerraPower says its traveling wave reactor would run for decades on depleted uranium and produce significantly smaller amounts of nuclear waste than conventional reactors.

"All these new designs are going to be incredibly safe," Gates told the audience. "They require no human action to remain safe at all times."

He said they also benefit from an ability to simulate earthquake and tidal wave conditions. "It takes safety to a new level," he said.

Since leaving Microsoft Corp., Gates has concentrated on philanthropy and advocating on public health, education and clean energy issues. He is an investor and strategic adviser to TerraPower.

Gates was at the Ministry of Science and Technology to talk about a joint project between China and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support innovative research and development to help alleviate poverty.

Gates said the ministry will help identify entrepreneurs and companies to manufacture new products in global health and agriculture to "change the lives of poor people," including new vaccines and diagnostics and genetically modified seeds.

"China has a lot to contribute because it's solved many of the problems of poverty, not all of them but a lot of them, itself, and many Asian, south Asian and African countries are well behind, whether it's agriculture or health," said Gates.

No specific poverty alleviation projects were mentioned.

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Nuclear Power to Become 'Foundation' of Country's Electrical System
Du Juan
China Daily
(for personal use only)

China will make nuclear energy the foundation of its power-generation system in the next 10 to 20 years, said a senior official on Tuesday.

The country will increase generation capacity by 2 billion kilowatts (kW) during that period, with as much as 300 million kW coming from nuclear power, said Shi Lishan, deputy director of the National Energy Administration's new-energy and renewable energy department, at the 21st Century Low-Carbon Chinese Development Summit held in Beijing on Tuesday.

He said renewable energy will account for a greater proportion of the energy consumed during the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) period.

China now has 40 million kW of nuclear capacity, and an industry insider said it will have to add another 26 million kW each year to reach its goal. Achieving that will force the country to spend about 800 billion yuan ($125 billion) annually in the next 10 to 20 years.

The insider, who declined to provide his name, said China is developing third-generation nuclear technology that will help make nuclear plants safer and increase their generating capacity.

"If China puts more research and development into making equipment for nuclear generation, the high costs of nuclear plants will decrease to between 15,000 and 20,000 yuan a kW," he said. "That will make a great contribution to the industry."

China will not swerve from its goal of coming to rely more on nuclear power, said Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission, on Nov 22.

According to Shanghai Securities News, Zhang Guobao, former head of the commission's National Energy Administration, said China is likely to resume building nuclear plants in March. Zhang said the country will become the largest market for nuclear power in the world. The statement marked the first time a Chinese high official has released a schedule for the construction of nuclear plants since the country suspended approval of such projects in response to the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant brought on by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March.

With energy consumption increasing in China, the country cannot stop the development of nuclear power, said Zhang. He added that the country has meanwhile set a goal of obtaining 15 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2020.

The State Council announced on March 16 that it would suspend approvals for nuclear plant construction and ordered safety inspections at all plants.

On April 15, a national inspection group, composed of the National Energy Administration, National Nuclear Safety Administration and China Earthquake Administration, began checking the safety of nuclear plants under construction and in operation.

Shi said China's generation capacity will reach 1.05 billion kW by the end of the year.

He said the country's power supply will not be stable unless steps are taken to promote energy efficiency.

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D.  North Korea

US Officials Due in Seoul to Discuss NK, Myanmar
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)

U.S. special envoys dealing with North Korea and Myanmar policy will arrive in Korea Wednesday for separate visits to discuss the next steps in dealing with the traditionally repressive regimes, officials here said.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, will arrive in Seoul later in the day as part of his first East Asia tour since being appointed in October.

During his five-day stay in South Korea, Davies is scheduled to meet Thursday with Lim Sung-nam, Seoul's chief envoy to the stalled six-nation talks on denuclearizing North Korea. The two sides are expected to discuss the next steps in their efforts to revive the multilateral talks that have been suspended for nearly three years.

Both Seoul and Washington are apparently weighing the possibility of additional dialogue with North Korea over the resumption of the talks. They have each held two rounds of bilateral meetings with Pyongyang since July, but neither side has reported tangible progress.

The negotiations, also involving China, Japan and Russia, have been deadlocked over North Korea's continued nuclear defiance, including its development of a uranium enrichment program.

"We will jointly examine developments related to the North Korean nuclear issue and the six-party talks, and discuss our future course of action," Lim told Yonhap News Agency by phone. "(The talks) will be set within a large framework."

Davies will be accompanied by Clifford Hart, the U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks, among other officials.

In Seoul, they also plan to meet South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Unification Minister Yu
Woo-ik and National Security Adviser Chun Yung-woo, officials said.

Separately, Derek Mitchell, the U.S. special representative and policy coordinator for Myanmar, will also arrive in Seoul Wednesday for a two-day visit aimed at briefing South Korea on the results of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's historic visit to Myanmar last week.

On Thursday, he is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Lim and the respective chiefs of the South Korean Foreign Ministry's bureaus for North American affairs and South Asian and Pacific affairs, officials said.

Mitchell's visit comes as South Korea is also trying to improve relations with Myanmar in the wake of the new civilian government's recent democratic reforms.

"I expect the U.S. side to ask for our cooperation in efforts to open up Myanmar and continue its
reforms," said Park Hae-yun, director-general of the ministry's South Asian and Pacific affairs bureau.
Korea has key interests in the resource-rich nation due to its growing potential as an economic partner and its suspected collaboration with North Korea on missile and nuclear weapons development.

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