1. Israel to Europe: Iran Ships Augur Nuclear Spread
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Iran's dispatch of two navy ships to the Mediterranean Sea should serve as a warning to Europe about the nuclear proliferation risk posed by Tehran, Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday.
Israel has voiced discomfort at the arrival of the Iranian frigate and support vessel, which passed through the Suez Canal en route to Syria on Tuesday in the Islamic republic's first military use of the strategic waterway in Egypt.
"This is a cheap provocation by Iran. The passage of the ships does not in itself present a threat on our region, but the real threat, clear as a warning light, is to Europe and the entire world," Peres said in a speech during a visit to Spain.
"Iran is developing nuclear weaponry ... and when nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terror groups, or Iranian proxies, European capitals will be under an existential threat," he said, according to a transcript provided by his office.
Iran says its uranium enrichment is for energy needs only and has defied international sanctions aimed at curbing its disputed nuclear programme. Tehran described the naval mission to Syria, Iran's ally and a fellow foe of Israel, as a training run. Allowing their Suez transit was a difficult decision for Egypt's interim government, in power since the Feb. 11 ouster of U.S.-aligned President Hosni Mubarak. Analysts say Iran sees itself benefiting from the upheaval across the Arab world.
Available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/egyptNews/idAFLDE71M12G20110223
China Wednesday called for an early resumption of the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament amid tensions between the two Koreas.
The call was made by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who arrived in Seoul where concerns remain about the North's uranium enrichment program and its recent actions, including the shelling of a South Korean island last November.
Yang, who met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, said, "We will continue to make joint efforts with relevant countries, including South Korea, to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, restore six-party talks at an early date, and realize the goal of denuclearization," the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Seoul wants North Korea to take responsibility for the deadly island shelling and last May's sinking of its war ship that killed 46 sailors before the six-party talks can resume. The South also wants the North to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization as concerns rise about the North's uranium enrichment program, which could be used to make nuclear bombs.
However, China, one of the members in the talks, which also include the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, and Japan, wants all issues to be discussed only after the talks resume, Yonhap said.
Yang's trip comes as the U.N. Security Council gets ready to decide whether the uranium enrichment program violates its resolutions against the North, the report said. Pyongyang has said the program is for peaceful purposes.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/02/23/China-calls-for-talks-resumption/UPI-72041298463439/
2. Lee Calls for China's Constructive Role Over North Korea Nuke
Yonhap News Agency
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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called on China Wednesday to play a "constructive role" in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, as he met with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, according to Lee's office Cheong Wa Dae.
Lee also stressed that a genuine change in North Korea's attitude is necessary for the peace on the Korean Peninsula, it said.
In response, Yang reaffirmed "Beijing's objection to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons development and expressed hope for the improvement of South-North Korean relations," presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said.
The minister also said his government wants to forge a free trade agreement with South Korea at an early date, she added.
Yang arrived here on Wednesday for a two-day stay. Earlier in the day, he had talks with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan, during which they agreed to push for the resumption of the six-way talks on the North's nuclear program.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/02/23/34/0401000000AEN20110223011800315F.HTML
3. North Korea Accuses South Korea of Provoking November Attack on Border Island
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea claimed Wednesday that the attack on a South Korean border island last November was in response to a provocation made by the South, its state-run news agency said, citing an open letter issued by an investigative team Pyongyang launched to look into the incident.
"Our military sent a telephone message to the puppet government ... in order to keep peace and stability on the peninsula by preventing military confrontation but the group of traitors turned to its artillery on Yeonpyeong Island and fired toward our territorial waters," said the letter carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
"No military would condone such warmongers bent on firing toward its own territorial waters," it added, apparently justifying its attack on Yeonpyeong Island.
The claim by North Korea's investigative team from the National Defense Commission came as tensions remain high between the two Koreas after two marines and two civilians were killed in the North's Nov. 23 shelling of the island located near its western sea border with the communist country.
About eight months earlier, the North torpedoed a South Korean warship near the western sea border, killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang denies any involvement in the attack.
South and North Korea recently held their first military talks since the Yeonpyeong incident, but the efforts ended in failure because the regime refused to acknowledge its responsibility for its recent provocations.
Observers here believe that the North's claim that the Yeonpyeong Island bombardment was provoked by the South is intended to blame Seoul for the failed military talks.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/02/23/25/0401000000AEN20110223012500320F.HTML
5. U.S. Dismisses Bilateral Dialogue with North Korea, Calls for Inter-Korean Talks: State Department
Yonhap News Agency
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The United States Tuesday dismissed any bilateral dialogue with North Korea on easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, urging the North to first improve ties with South Korea.
"Right now we're focused on inter-Korean dialogue," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. "Obviously, we have long supported dialogue between North and South Korea."
Crowley was responding to the report that North Korea has asked for defense ministers' talks with the U.S. through the North Korean mission in the United Nations in New York.
North Korea earlier this month walked out of preparatory talks to revive high-level inter-Korean military dialogue, citing South Korea's demand for an apology for the North's shelling of a South Korean border island and the torpedoing of a South Korean warship that killed 50 people, including two civilians, last year.
South Korea and the U.S. want the North to apologize for the provocations before moving to resume six-party talks on ending the North's nuclear weapons programs in return for a massive economic aid and diplomatic recognition by Washington and Tokyo.
The talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been deadlocked for more than two years over the North's missile and nuclear tests and other provocations.
The walkout dampened the reconciliatory mood Pyongyang has launched in recent weeks, apparently to attract much-needed food and economic aid to the impoverished state, which has been under tougher U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests in early 2009, through the resumption of the aid-for-denuclearization talks.
China, North Korea's staunchest communist ally, wants the six-party talks to reopen as soon as possible without any conditions attached.
Seoul and Washington also want the U.N. Security Council to address the North's uranium enrichment program revealed in November that could serve as a second way of building nuclear bombs in addition to its existing plutonium program, despite Pyongyang's claims it is producing fuel for power generation.
U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Wednesday that the North apparently has more uranium enrichment facilities than the one in its nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of its capital Pyongyang, that was revealed last year.
China, a veto power within the Security Council, opposes the council dealing with the uranium program, citing lack of concrete evidence and its possible adverse impact on the early resumption of the multilateral nuclear talks.
Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, last week warned of further provocations from North Korea within months as part of the ongoing effort by leader Kim Jong-il to cede power to his youngest son, Jong-un, in an unprecedented third-generation hereditary power transition in any communist state.
The 28-year-old heir apparent, who like his father lacks a proper military background, is believed to be trying to rally support from the military, the only power base in the impoverished but nuclear-armed communist state, amid a chronic food shortage and the economic plight.
A joint team from the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization is currently in North Korea to assess the North's food situation, aggravated by the poor harvest, severe winter weather and the foot-and-mouth disease that reportedly led to thousands of people starving to death this winter.
The U.S. said last week it does not have immediate plans to provide food assistance to North Korea unless the North enhances transparency in the distribution of food aid, which was suspended in early 2009 amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests and controversy over the openness of food distribution.
Reports have said that North Korea recently completed the construction of a new, sophisticated missile launch site on its western coast near the Chinese border, in an apparent bid to test-fire another ballistic missile that can reach the mainland United States.
Pyongyang reportedly is also digging a new tunnel to prepare for a third nuclear test.
President Barack Obama received a special briefing on North Korea's weapons of mass destruction on Feb. 9. The website of the national intelligence director's office showed a picture of Obama at the Oval Office with Joseph DeTrani, director of the National Counterproliferation Center, and Sydney Seiler, deputy national intelligence manager for North Korea.
Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will appear at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week regarding North Korea's provocations, and Wi Sung-lac, South Korea's chief nuclear envoy, is due in Washington later this week to discuss North Korea with his U.S. counterparts.
North Korea detonated nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009, and conducted long-range missile tests three times - in 1998, 2006 and 2009 - which were seen as a partial success.
The North is believed to have at least several nuclear weapons, with some experts saying it may have already developed nuclear warheads small enough to be mounted on ballistic missiles.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month that North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons will pose a threat to the U.S. within five years. The defense chief urged North Korea to impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing to help revive the stalled six-party talks.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2011/02/23/26/0301000000AEN20110223000200315F.HTML
Russia's Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin says Moscow is against the alliance's proposal to set up two different missile systems, the NATO system and the Russian system.
The United States and Russia have been at loggerheads over a new anti-ballistic missile system for Europe, with Moscow calling for a shared control of the system, and Washington refusing to share the responsibility for protecting its member-states with any third party, a Press TV correspondent in Moscow reported Tuesday.
NATO favors two separate but coordinated missile defense systems, which include the NATO and Russian systems. However, Moscow insists on a European system together with the alliance, with joint centers for detecting threats and a joint decision-making procedure.
Meanwhile, Rogozin, who has recently been appointed as the Kremlin's special representative for missile defense talks with NATO member-states, frowned upon the idea on Tuesday.
"Russia should either join the European missile defense system, or receive guarantees that this system will be no threat to its strategic interests," he stated.
The Russian envoy further noted that Moscow sees no missile threats in northern Europe, and the two sides regard each other as potential threats, and that would prevent the cooperation from going forward.
"NATO and Russia must negotiate and agree to give up military planning against each other. This fundamental deal will lift all other problems," Rogozin added.
US President Barack Obama, on the other hand, has vehemently rejected shared control of the missile system on the grounds that it would give Russia responsibility for protecting NATO from nuclear missile threats.
The two sides have agreed to formulate terms for cooperation by June as a special group under Rogozin is set to be formed to coordinate missile defense talks with NATO.
Moscow is fiercely opposed to the deployment of the alliance's missile systems near its borders, saying it would threaten its national security and destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe.
Kremlin has warned if NATO ploughs ahead with its plans and no agreement is reached with Moscow, it would develop its own missile systems.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/166590.html
2. Saudi Arabia in Agreement to Explore Nuclear Power
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Saudi Arabia has signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with France that advances the kingdom's atomic energy programme.
The agreement for co-operation in developing peaceful uses for nuclear energy is the first such accord signed by the kingdom.
The pact "allows Saudi experts to study the French technology options, their financial requirements and implications for developing qualified national human resources", Saudi and French officials said yesterday in a joint statement.
France is Europe's biggest developer and user of nuclear power, relying on it for about 80 per cent of the country's electricity. The French nuclear industry has been seeking contracts to build and operate nuclear facilities in emerging markets, including in the Middle East.
In 2009, a French consortium was among those shortlisted to bid on the US$20 billion (Dh73.45bn) main construction contract for Abu Dhabi's first nuclear plants but lost to a rival South Korean group.
Facing 8 per cent annual growth in domestic power demand, "Saudi Arabia has decided to make use of alternative energy resources, such as atomic energy, solar energy, geothermal energy and wind energy", said Dr Hashim Yamani, the president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (Ka-Care).
"This will enable Ka-Care to carry out a comparison between the alternatives available to the kingdom in its long-term programme aiming at building alternative energy plants for electricity production and water desalination."
The statement cited recent economic forecasts indicating that Saudi power demand would triple by 2032, requiring the installation of 80 gigawatts (gw) of additional power generation capacity.
But nuclear and large-scale renewable power in Saudi Arabia will take years to develop.
The kingdom burns oil to generate more than 50 per cent of its electricity, which causes air pollution and cuts into the amount of crude it can export.
It is investing heavily in new gas-fired power plants while seeking to develop sufficient additional gas production to fuel them. But some analysts predict Saudi Arabia will soon join the growing list of Gulf states importing gas.
Siemens Energy of Germany announced yesterday it had won an order for more than $1bn of turbines, steam generators and other parts for a Saudi power and water project at Ras Az Zawr.
The 2.4gw gas-fired plant is scheduled to start supplying electricity to a large aluminium project in early 2014, while also producing drinking water for Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/saudi-arabia-in-agreement-to-explore-nuclear-power
3. UK Companies Eye Tie-Ups with Indian Nuclear Businesses
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UK civil nuclear industry has firmed up plan for technical as well as financial tie-ups with the Indian counterparts.
As a beginning, UK’s industrial major Sheffied has signed a joint venture pact with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) to make forging equipment not only to cater to the needs of nuclear industries from India and the UK but also the global market. Besides, Hindustran Construction Company has inked MoU with Amec plc for consulting services for fabrication of nuclear plants. UK’s Nuvia, which is the nuclear specialist, covering both civilian and defence sectors, across the complete lifecycle from New Build, through Operations and Maintenance, to final decommissioning and waste disposal, has joined hands with Punj Lloyd.
Lady Judge, former chairman of UK Atomic Energy Authority and business ambassador told Business Standard “BHEL chairman has offered to set up a working group to finetune JV arrangement in order to global assignments.” She informed that India’s engineering giant L&T has tied up with Rolls Royce to work in the field of instrumentation control. Moreover, Serco, which offers operational, management and consulting expertise in nuclear sector, plans to increase its presence in India’s nuclear sector. Undoubtedly, India is leading the present nuclear renaissance and industries from the UK and India will have amply opportunities of mutual benefits. She said Indian and UK universities and educational institutions are currently spending 1.4 sterling each on research and training in the nuclear sector.
Lady Judge, who was in Mumbai along with a high level delegation of British companies engaged in civil nuclear sector headed by Keith Parker, said UK has launched nuclear addition of 16 GW through private sector companies and the first unit is expected to be commissioned in 2018. On the other hand, India plans to increase its nuclear capacity to 25 per cent at 63 GW by 2032 from the present level of 3 per cent.
“One thing is clear that nuclear energy will help provide energy security, energy independence and address climate change issue. The business communities of both sides have a very important role to play in making sure that they do continue. UK and Indian industries can explore number of opportunities in nuclear support, equipment manufacturing and installation, operation and maintenance, monitoring and control system and education and training,” she added.
As far as India’s regulatory set up for nuclear sector is concerned, Lady Judge said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is doing fine job. “I do not expect India to follow regulatory set up of US, UK or other nuclear countries but should strengthen on its own. India’s regulatory system is well established,” she opined.
Available at: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/uk-companies-eye-tie-upsindian-nuclear-businesses/426207/
1. Poland Approves Nuclear Power Legal Framework Bills
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The Polish government said late Tuesday it had approved two bills which will create the legal framework for its planned nuclear power industry.
In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office said the weekly Cabinet meeting had decided to adopt a draft amendment to the country's Nuclear Energy Law which, among other things, creates the grounds for oversight of the investment process by the National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA).
The other bill covers preparations and the implementation of the investment.
The bills will now be sent to parliament for approval. The government wants to get them passed by the end of June to enable the signing of a commercial contract to build the first reactor by the end of 2013.
The government has tasked the country's largest power company Polska Grupa Energetyczna with organizing the construction of 6,000 MWe of nuclear generation at two sites, with the first unit to be commissioned in 2020.
It will likely be built in Zarnowiec, north of Gdansk near the Baltic Sea coast in north Poland. Poland fast-tracked the creation of a nuclear power sector in January 2009 during the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.
The government plans to meet 15% of its energy needs from nuclear power by 2030. Currently the country produces close to 95% of its power from coal or lignite.
Poland wants third generation reactor technology and it has signed a number of non-binding cooperation agreements with South Korea, Japan and the US. PGE has signed similar agreements with companies including Westinghouse Electric, GE Hitachi and EDF.
As Poland wants a design with commercial operation experience at the time of selection, that could narrow the choice down to Areva's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000, which are expected to be operating at that time.
PGE assumes that the construction cost of the first 3,000 MW plant will be between Eur3 million and Eur3.5 million per MWh, making a total cost of the project of between Eur9-10.5 billion (around $12.30-14.40 billion).
Available at: http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/8578933
2. Romania Nuclear Units Could Be Delayed Past 2017
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Two planned units at Romania's sole nuclear power plant could be delayed past the current 2017 deadline, an economy ministry official said on Wednesday.
Romania, which already has two 706 megawatt reactors at its Cernavoda plant -- accounting for a fifth of its power output -- planned to build the reactors in partnership with six firms.
But the project took a hit after Germany's RWE, Spain's Iberdrola and French GDF Suez withdrew last month, following the departure of Czech CEZ.
Romania is now left shouldering a heavier share of the project, estimated at roughly 4 billion euros and has said it will seek new investors.
"A delay is possible because the preparation part takes longer than estimated," ministry adviser Tudor Serban told reporters on the sidelines of a financial seminar.
Analysts have said the delay poses risks to future supplies, as Romania will need to shut down and replace a third of its power units by 2020. Its last major power generation project was its second nuclear unit which went on stream in 2007.
Serban said South Korean, Chinese, Russian and American firms, including Bechtel, had shown interest in partnering the state for the units, but no definite intentions were announced.
Asked whether its remaining partners, Italy's Enel (ENEI.MI: Quote) and a local unit of ArcelorMittal, were interested in raising their stakes in the units, Serban said: "In theory, yes. In fact, they want to know the extent to which the Romanian government is committed to the project."
Serban also said the ministry expected installed wind energy in Romania to jump to up to 3,000 megawatts in the next two-three years.
Available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFLDE71M18J20110223
3. IAEA to Socialize Nuclear Benefits to Indonesians
Xinhua News Agency
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will send delegations to socialize and to inform nuclear technology and its positive benefits in Indonesia, an expert said here on Monday.
Tri Murni Soedyartomo, president of Indonesia Women in Nuclear (WiN), said that Gabi Voigt, director of IAEA's Seibersdorf Laboratories and Eva Gianni, accounting officer of IAEA, will visit Indonesia around April or May. "Their mission is to give information and education that nuclear is not a frightening and sadistic thing. In fact, nuclear is useful for health as it could eradicate cancer, kill bad bacteria and other purposes. It also could be used to develop high quality seeds of rice and soybean, aside of generating electricity, " Soedyartomo told leaders of the People's Consultative Assembely.
She said that people who always talk about the horror of nuclear are those who do not really know about the energy.
She took an example of Japan that develops fast by using nuclear as power energy.
"Nagasaki and Hiroshima was bombed with nuclear (in 1945). But, they are not traumatized with nuclear. In fact, there are 55 nuclear reactors in Japan. Their industry is advanced as they have abundance of energy," she said. The Women in Nuclear is an international organization consisting of nuclear professional women from 64 countries.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-02/21/c_13742273.htm
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