1. World Powers Still Mishandling Iran’s Nuclear Program
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The world’s powers continue to mishandle the Iranian nuclear threat – and the optimal time for striking at Tehran’s nuclear program has long passed – according to two leading Israeli authorities on Iran’s nuclear program.
Emily Landau and Giora Eiland – both senior research fellows at the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University (INSS) – said in a briefing with a small group of journalists Thursday that while Iran’s goals are clear, the solutions to its nuclear designs are much less obvious.
“We’re in a state of limbo,” said Landau, director of arms control and regional security at the INSS. “Nothing is happening right now on Iran.”
Landau contrasted Tehran’s unambiguous nuclear ambitions with the disparate, often conflicting, interests of the so-called P5+1 Countries – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany, who have led efforts to confront the Islamic Republic’s nuclear drive.
“There’s basically no plan,” Landau said. “Every state in the P5+1 is following its own national interest. Iran is one part of the national interest of each, and it’s not necessarily number one – and maybe not number two, three or four.”
“The name of Iran’s game over the last eight years has been playing for time,” she continued.
It’s clear Iran is pursuing military nuclear capability, and “it’s less relevant whether Iran wants to develop nuclear warheads, put them on missiles and deploy them – or whether it’s going for a Japan model,” Landau concluded.
Though not actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program, Japan has the technology and know-how to produce nuclear weapons within about six months, according to experts.
For non-proliferation efforts against Iran to progress, Landau said the US will have to drastically change its diplomatic mindset.
“Negotiating with Iran on the nuclear issue is not the same as negotiating with it to improve US-Iranian relations,” Landau said. “This is not about engagement and confidence-building… The nuclear issue is going to be a hard bargain.”
She listed three elements to improving US policy in Iran.
First, Washington must apply more forceful sanctions backed by a credible threat of consequences, should Iran violate them. Second, she said the US has to show it’s “in the driver’s seat” to determine the time and place of negotiations – and setting its own terms in “framing” those negotiations. Third, the US must be clearer about the incentives it plans to offer the Islamic Republic for ceasing its nuclear activity.
Landau also spoke about containment: the idea that the West can live with a nuclear Iran as it did with the USSR and China. The problem, she said, is that deterring a nuclear state from using its weapons depends on the existence of a credible threat – and US credibility with Iran is at its lowest point in years.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week that the world must make clear that Iran would face “credible military action” if sanctions do not shut down Tehran’s nuclear program.
In an interview with CNN, he said it was clear Iran was pursuing its nuclear ambitions despite international sanctions, and was getting closer to obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
“They have enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs,” he said. “The only thing that will work is if Iran knew that if sanctions fail there will be a credible military option.”
Netanyahu said if military action were taken, he would prefer it be led by the US.
Eiland, a retired IDF majorgeneral and former national security adviser, told journalists the most auspicious time for confronting Iran’s nuclear program was three years ago.
“Most of the important assets were located in a few key sites, and poorly protected,” he said. “Iran didn’t – and still doesn’t – have very advanced air defense systems. From a purely military point of view, the best timing was three years ago. Unfortunately, from a political point of view, it wasn’t quite so good, and therefore wasn’t considered.”
Eiland also outlined four key questions Israel must ask itself before embarking on a strike of Iranian facilities.
First is a question of whether Jerusalem has reliable intelligence about Iran’s principal nuclear facilities and targets. Assuming it does, secondly, he added, Israel must determine whether it has the ability to send enough sorties to attack those targets.
Third, it must decide whether it is feasible to fly over hostile countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
More important than the other variables, Eiland said, is the question of results.
“Let’s assume we’re successful in questions one, two and three. Then what?” he asked. “What would be the real damage that would be caused to the Iranians? What would be the delay that we would produce for the Iranians in producing nuclear weapons? If it’s only weeks and months, it’s insufficient. If years, it may be worthwhile.”
Available at: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?ID=212930&R=R1
2. Malaysia: Equipment Headed to Iran Suspected to Make Nuclear Weapons
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Malaysian police said Friday that they had found equipment they suspect could be used to make nuclear weapons smuggled on board a ship headed to Iran.
National police chief Ismail Omar told The Associated Press that the cargo was seized from a Malaysian-registered ship traveling from China to Tehran while it was docked at a central Malaysia harbor. Authorities are investigating whether the equipment could be used to make nuclear weapons.
Malaysian International Shipping Corp. confirmed in a statement to the AP that police confiscated two containers from the MV Bunga Raya Satu on March 8. It said a freight forwarder had declared the contents as "goods used for liquid mixing or storage for pharmaceutical or chemical or food industry."
Police said they had received a tip that the items were being shipped illegally and did not have a special permit required under Malaysia's anti-trafficking law.
Malaysia passed that law last year to curb the trafficking of nuclear weapon components after being linked to the illegal supply of sensitive technology to countries including Iran and Libya.
The Malaysian shipping company said the vessel continued its journey without the seized items March 9.
Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/18/malaysia-equipment-headed-iran-suspected-make-nuclear-weapons/
3. Netanyahu: Only Fear of Possible Strike Could Stop Iran's Nuclear Progress
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday the world must make clear that Iran would face "credible military action" if sanctions do not shut down Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
Netanyahu, in an interview on CNN, said it was apparent Iran was pursuing its nuclear ambitions despite international sanctions and was getting a lot closer to obtaining nuclear arms.
"They have enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs," he said. "They still have to re-enrich it again but that is what they are doing.
"The only thing that will work is if Iran knew that if sanctions fail there will be a credible military option."
Asked what would constitute a credible military action, Netanyahu said: "It means action that will knock out their nuclear facility."
The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.
Iran denies Israeli and Western allegations that it is enriching uranium to produce atomic arms and maintains that its program is for peaceful energy needs.
Netanyahu said if military action was taken, he would prefer that it be lead by the United States.
He said a nuclear-armed Iran would not be just a concern for Israel because it would pose the risk of proliferation.
"This is not just our problem. This is the problem of Europe, and the United States," he said.
In a wide-ranging interview, Netanyahu also said he was not surprised that Saudi Arabia had dispatched forces to Bahrain after weeks of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf Arab island state.
"I think they are concerned with a possible Iranian takeover of Bahrain, which would put Iran effectively within spitting distance of the Arabian Peninsula," Netanyahu said of Saudi Arabia.
"Saudi Arabia is working to protect its own interests. But there is a very large global interest in making sure the world's oil wells, that the largest reserves of the world's oil supply do not fall into Iranian or pro-Iranian hands," he said.
Asked about the pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world, Netanyahu said the Middle East would have "a brilliant future" with real democratic change.
However, he said that if Iran remains immune to change "and meddles in other places and transforms them into so-called Islamist republics... I would say that is the worst nightmare."
On the peace with the Palestinians he said, “I think it’s possible to achieve this peace," but spoke at length about various Israeli leaders' efforts to reach an agreement – in vain.
The Palestinian unity government with Hamas, he warned, would kill off the peace process. "What do I negotiate with Hamas, the method of our termination?," he asked.
He questioned how is it possible to be for peace with Israel and also for peace with Hamas, which he said wants to destroy Israel, and likened such a situation to a peace agreement with Al-Qaida.
Netanayhu reiterated his familiar position that it’s impossible to impose peace – and that Israel needs a partner.
If Mahmoud Abbas wants a peace, he said, he should stop flying around the world. "Ramallah is ten minutes away from Jerusalem" and both sides should sit down and negotiate “until smoke comes out", the way Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan, Netanyahu said.
Seven Israeli prime ministers tried to make peace with the Palestinians, he said, but yielded no results. “They refuse to say they recognize a Jewish state. I want to hear this clear statement,” he said.
He called the Fogel family murder in the settlement of Itamar “horrific savagery” and after describing the murder in details, promised: “We are now looking for the killers. We’ll find them”.
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-only-fear-of-possibleike-could-stop-iran-s-nuclear-progress-1.349942?localLinksEnabled=false
International nuclear safety standards will need to be strengthened after the crisis at a Japanese atomic power plant triggered by an earthquake and tsunami, the U.N. nuclear agency chief said on Monday.
But Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), acknowledged it could be difficult to make such rules mandatory.
Safety issues are the responsibility of individual countries and the IAEA is not a "nuclear safety watchdog," he said.
But "in some areas, certainly, the standards should be strengthened," he told reporters. For example, it should be assessed whether current recommendations regarding major natural events such as tsunamis were sufficient or not.
Japan's emergency at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant has also put the spotlight on how the IAEA is equipped to deal with a crisis that could have cross-border implications.
Serving 151 member states, the Vienna-based agency is tasked with promoting the safe and peaceful use of nuclear power but lacks the ability to enforce safety standards it recommends -- unlike its powers to curb possible atomic weapons proliferation.
Asked whether he believed the IAEA's safety recommendations should be obligatory, Amano said this would not be easy.
"It depends on the member states' intentions and I know already views are very different," he said. "It is not like an accident happens, let's change the standards and all will be better, it is not so simple."
Amano, a Japanese national, earlier told the IAEA's 35-nation board that the agency's role in nuclear safety and standards may need to be re-examined, without elaborating.
NUCLEAR STILL "IMPORTANT" ENERGY OPTION
The IAEA has faced criticism for failing to provide fast information at the beginning of the disaster to both its member states and the public.
The agency had said it was reliant on the information given to it by Japan, and Amano traveled to Tokyo last week to press authorities there to give his office faster and more data.
"Lessons will need to be learned and the IAEA is where that discussion should take place. A thorough review of the accident will be necessary, in which peer review will have an important role to play," Amano told the closed-door meeting.
"The current international emergency response framework needs to be reassessed," he said, adding it was largely designed following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Japan's nuclear situation remained very serious and high levels of radioactivity had been detected in the area of the plant, but there was no doubt it would "effectively overcome" the crisis, Amano said.
He spoke after engineers managed to rig power cables to all six reactors at the Fukushima complex and started a water pump at one of them to reverse the overheating that has triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
Some workers were later evacuated from one of the most badly damaged reactors when smoke briefly rose from the site.
Amano said some countries were now reviewing their nuclear energy plans in view of events in Japan. But "nuclear power will remain an important and viable option for many countries as a stable and clean source of energy," he said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/21/us-japan-nuclear-amano-idUSTRE72K2PH20110321
A nuclear industry whistleblower who helped design protective containment vessels for reactors has attacked the Japanese government, its nuclear industry and regulators over their safety record.
Dr Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer, resigned from his job at the Toshiba Corporation over safety concerns.
Toshiba supplied two of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that was stricken by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Dr Goto criticised his country's record on nuclear safety.
"We have the government commission overseeing nuclear safety standards and in my opinion they are not doing their job," he told ABC correspondent Eric Campbell last Thursday in Tokyo in an exclusive interview for Four Corners.
Around 300 engineers are working round-the-clock at Fukushima to contain the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
They have been spraying the reactors with sea water so fuel rods will not overheat and emit radiation. Hopes for a more permanent solution depend on connecting electricity cables to reactivate on-site water pumps at each of the reactors.
Working in suits sealed by duct tape, engineers have managed to re-establish power cables to the No. 1, 2, 5 and 6 reactors and plan to start testing systems soon.
But Dr Goto says the Fukushima crisis shows Japan has not yet learned the lessons of history.
"At Three Mile Island the nuclear fuel melted. Fuel is melting here now," he said.
"We have to design reactors to withstand melting fuel rods. Right now the reactor will break down due to the heat generated by the melting rods."
Dr Goto alleges that in Japan's nuclear industry profits take precedence over safety standards.
"No-one says it officially or openly. When setting standards for future earthquakes, the thought is of money - how much is it going to cost?" he said.
"This underlies the government's decision making. They are thinking the costs could have a bad repercussion on the economy."
Dr Goto says one of his special research interests at Toshiba was how to make containment vessels stronger.
He says Japan's nuclear safety standards have been based on an insufficient acknowledgment of the potential severity of natural disasters.
"What's wrong with the standards is that the anticipated level of the worst-case-scenario earthquake is not correct," he said.
"Seismologists have different opinions and predictions. Some say bigger quakes are coming. Others say a big one is unlikely.
"Decisions have been made based on the opinion of the more optimistic seismologist and the opinions of the pessimistic ones are ignored."
The earthquake that shook Japan on March 11 was magnitude 9.0 - the strongest recorded earthquake in Japan, and far stronger than the country's nuclear industry had anticipated.
Despite this, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the Fukushima plant, boasted in its corporate publicity that its nuclear power stations were "designed for the largest conceivable earthquake" and that "all designs provide margins of safety capable of withstanding even natural disasters".
Further grim warnings are given in tonight's Four Corners by nuclear experts and activists who have been interviewed over the past week.
American Damon Moglen, director of Friends Of The Earth's climate and energy project, points to the presence of as much as a quarter of a tonne of plutonium in Fukushima's No. 3 reactor, which suffered an explosion last Monday.
"The problem there is, if that plutonium fuel is melting inside the core, if it's being vented out or if an explosion were to break the containment open, we could have - and we have as much as a quarter of a tonne of additional plutonium in that reactor - we could have radioactive releases containing plutonium, which would be just yet another horror to have to deal with," he said.
Dr Ziggy Switkowski, former chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), warns the crisis at Fukushima has done a "great deal of damage" to the industry.
"The nuclear industry has, over time, worked as well as it has because of people's confidence in the integrity of reactors and acceptance that many of the issues associated with the management of spent fuel and waste were properly handled," he said.
"But we've always understood, and we saw this happen in Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, that if the community trust is breached by whatever development, it will take a long, long time to recover it.
"I think this is a turning point for the industry."
Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/21/3168926.htm?section=world
3. Fukushima Nuclear Plant To Be Decommissioned: Government
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The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is in no condition to restart and is most likely to be decommissioned as it has caused many critical problems since a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, the top government spokesman suggested Sunday.
''Looking at the situation objectively, (the answer to the question of) whether it can be operated again is clear,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference, when asked whether the government plans to close the plant once its overheating reactors are brought under control.
It is the first time that a senior government official has mentioned about the likelihood of it being decommissioned.
Edano's remarks came at a time when Japan is in a flurry to grapple with the threat of a nuclear meltdown. He said what is now most important is containing the emergency situation at the plant.
When the government has yet to follow formal procedure, Edano said he cannot make a predicative statement over the fate of the plant.
''But with my objective views just stated, I suppose you would understand what it means,'' Edano said, when asked to confirm whether the government has already decided not to allow the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., to restart it.
The chief Cabinet secretary also told the news conference that Prime Minister Naoto Kan may visit near the crippled plant as early as Monday, for the second time since the quake occurred.
Available at: http://e.nikkei.com/e/fr/tnks/Nni20110320D20JF506.htm
4. Japan, China, South Korea to Partner on Nuclear Safety
The China Post
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Japan, China and South Korea, all involved in talks to rein in North Korea's nuclear program, agreed in Japan on Saturday to work together to increase nuclear-power safety, the South Korean foreign minister said.
The talks came eight days after a quake and tsunami ravaged a nuclear plant in northeast Japan.
New Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto was to brief his Chinese and South Korean counterparts Yang Jiechi and Kim Sung-Hwan on how Tokyo is handling the aftermath of the disaster, which has left 18,000 dead or missing.
The trio was also expected to discuss efforts to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table over its nuclear programs and lay the groundwork for a three-way leaders' summit to be held in Japan, possibly in late May.
Available at: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/asia/regional-news/2011/03/20/295318/Japan-China.htm
South Australian Mines Minister Tom Koutsantonis has proposed the development of a uranium enrichment industry in Australia and called for a potentially divisive debate at the ALP national conference.
In remarks that have split state and federal Labor, Mr Koutsantonis said Australia should maximise uranium profits and provocatively pointed to the nuclear crisis in Japan as proof that enrichment should be embraced.
"No deaths have been attributed to radiation (in Japan)," Mr Koutsantonis told the annual Paydirt uranium conference in Adelaide yesterday.
"I am not joining the chorus of naysayers. I urge you to step up to the plate and argue the safety of nuclear reactors. I will stand with you and argue that case."
Mr Koutsantonis said the old way of digging something out of the ground and sending it offshore had to change.
"We've got to start looking at uranium exports and how we can value add here to get the maximum bang for our buck," he said.
"One day, down the track, were going to have to start enriching uranium . . . we need to start the debate."
Senior minister Kevin Foley, the minister assisting Premier Mike Rann on the Olympic Dam expansion project, backed Mr Koutsantonis.
"I think what Tom has said is both sensible and inevitable," he said. "We should have a full-blown debate on the nuclear industry. There is no reason why the Labor Party should shy away from a debate about our nation's future."
A spokesman for Mr Rann said the federal government position to oppose uranium enrichment was clear and the state government supported that position.
Mr Foley denied the state ALP was split, saying the Premier was entitled to his view.
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday said he did not expect a change of federal Labor policy at this year's national conference.
"Minister Koutsantonis is entitled to raise these issues, however, the current national platform prohibits the establishment in Australia of nuclear power plants and all other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle," Mr Ferguson said.
Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear spokesman David Noonan yesterday said Mr Koutsantonis was "out of step with his own party and state and federal governments".
"I do not think there is any popular support for Australia to go down the nuclear industry path," he said. "We have seen the nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan and there is the potential that Australian and even South Australian uranium has been involved in those reactors that have been exploding in Japan."
Simon Mead, the ALP state secretary in resource-rich Western Australia, said the party platform did not support uranium mining or enrichment.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said public opinion would prevent the government from moving towards uranium enrichment.
Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/ministers-uranium-pitch-fires-up-debate/story-fn59niix-1226025692568
Cameco Corp remains confident that the long-term outlook for uranium is solid despite global anxiety over radiation from an earthquake-crippled nuclear plant in Japan, Chief Executive Jerry Grandey said on Monday.
Speaking to Reuters in an exclusive interview at the Mining and Steel Summit, Grandey said that while the so-called nuclear renaissance will be slowed by the crisis in Japan, more uranium will be needed in the next few years to fuel reactors already online and under construction.
Cameco, the world's No. 2 uranium producer, plans to double production to 40 million pounds a year by 2018. With contracts in place through 2017, the crisis will not have a material impact on the company's long-term outlook, Grandey said.
"We see no reason to slow down the doubling of production," he said. "Even if there is a pause or slowdown (in the nuclear plant buildout) as expected."
He said that while China has frozen approvals of all new nuclear power projects, he believes the country will still ramp up its nuclear output to at least 70 gigawatts from its current capacity of 11 gigawatts.
"I still don't see, even with a slight pause, why that wouldn't be achieved," Grandey said. "If they achieve by 2020 only 40 gigawatts, which is what's under construction and what's operating, they still would require 20 million pounds a year."
Current global uranium demand is about 180 million pounds a year, with mine output accounting for about 140 million pounds of that. The remainder comes from stockpiles and downgraded weapons-grade uranium.
"My sense is, given all those pieces, there isn't going to be much of a change in the supply and demand imbalance that we have, and in the need for new projects to come online in the next decade."
Grandey said he expects Cameco to meet its revenue forecasts for 2011. The company said last month that it expects revenues to rise by 15 to 20 percent this year.
Shares of Cameco closed up 7.35 percent at C$31.09 on Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after tumbling over 21 percent last week.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/21/us-mining-summit-cameco-idUSTRE72K5N320110321
3. Massive Uranium Deposits Found in Andhra Pradesh
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Huge deposits of natural uranium, which promise to be one of the top 20 of the world's reserves, have been found in the Tummalapalle belt in the southern part of the Kadapa basin in Andhra Pradesh.
The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), which explores uranium in the country, has so far discovered 44,000 tonnes of natural uranium (U3O8) in just 15 line km of the 160-km long belt.
P.B. Maithani, Director, AMD, is confident that “the potentiality of the area is huge” and that it will be “one of the top 20 of the world's deposits where more than 60,000 tonnes of uranium is available.” He is sure that the uranium deposits will occur over the entire length of 160 km of the Tummalapalle belt with a “depth consistency” of about 400 metres. The uranium resources found so far can sustain a generation of 5,000 MWe of nuclear power.
Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, described the discovery as “very large although it is not a rich ore.” He added that “there is a possibility of further extension” of the ore on either side of Tummalapalle. About 4,000 tonnes of uranium deposits have also been found at Gogi in Gulbarga district of Karnataka. “Gogi is not a large deposit but it is a rich ore,” said Dr. Banerjee.
The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), meanwhile, is pressing ahead with the commissioning of a mine at Tummalapalle. It will have a state-of-the-art decline in a few months. A mill to process the uranium into yellow cake will start production at Tummalapalle next year. The yellow cake is converted into fuel bundles and fed into the nuclear power reactor. Both the AMD and the UCIL belong to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
Special type of occurrence
Mr. Maithani said: “The continuity and tonnage of the Tummalapalle deposits is very high although the grade is medium.” The AMD earlier worked in the area and found more than 14,000 tonnes of U3O8. After developing the leachability of the natural uranium ore and tackling other issues, the AMD started drilling again in the area. “We expect that the continuity will be there up to 160 km. There may be some barren sites in between. But geologically, they are the same — the same rock is above and below the ground,” he said. He was sure the belt would yield more than 60,000 tonnes of U3O8. He called Tummalapalle “a special type of occurrence and you don't get this in any other part of the world. It is strata-bound.”
“The nuclear energy programme of the country can be definitely tailored as per the availability of resources we have seen so far in just two blocks – Tummalapalle and Kanampalle. But there is a continuation at Motuntulapalle, Muthanapalle, Rachakuntapalle and so on. These are situated adjacent to Tummalapalle blocks. We are confident that sizeable resources can be added from this area,” said Mr. Maithani.
The AMD earlier found uranium deposits in Nalgonda district and it was confident that it could locate reserves in the adjoining Guntur district, where its men were working now.
About 4,000 tonnes of U3O8 deposits were discovered in the Bhima basin at Gogi in Karnataka. Gradewise, the Gogi ore was richer than the Tummalapalle ore but it did not continue over a long distance. “But we may get a number of Gogis with similar fracture/fault-controlled uranium-mineralisation setup in the nearby areas,” Mr. Maithani said.
“Fracture-controlled mineralisation of uranium has been found at Rohil in Sikar district in Rajasthan and the grade of the ore is similar to that of the Gogi ore. The Rohil belt is 130 km long and there is continuity of occurrence of uranium ore. The Rohil belt may yield between 5,000 tonnes and 10,000 tonnes of uranium,” he said.
In Meghalaya, about 10,000 tonnes (at Domiasiat) and 8,000 tonnes (Wakhyn) of deposits were discovered several years ago. But the UCIL was unable to mine them because of socio-economic problems, said S.K. Mathur, Scientific Officer, AMD.
India has 19 operating Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) that use natural uranium as fuel. It is building more PHWRs of 700 MWe capacity each.
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/andhra-pradesh/article1554078.ece
Japan's nuclear crisis is likely to prompt Southeast Asian states to look more carefully at their plans to tap atomic energy for power generation, the head of the regional bloc said Monday.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said Japan's struggle to prevent a reactor meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant will have a "psychological" impact on some ASEAN members.
"They will continue to explore, but I think the sense of urgency will certainly be contained a little bit," Surin told reporters on the sidelines of a regional economic conference in Singapore.
"They will look more deeply, they will look more carefully and they will explore other alternative sources."
Surin was speaking as Japan continued efforts to restore power to the Fukushima plant, which suffered heavy damage from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11.
Workers were temporarily evacuated from part of the plant on Monday after a plume of smoke rose from one reactor, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co said.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said engineers were making "slow but steady progress" in dealing with the problem as they raced to fix disabled cooling systems and restore power, and fire trucks sprayed water to help cool reactor fuel pools.
Surin said the impact of the crisis would also drive the search for safer alternative energy sources.
"Alternative energy sources will certainly be given more focus, although that will take time," Surin said.
"They will certainly benefit from this new awareness that nuclear power is not an absolute guarantee for safety, and it will certainly lead to more research into the technology of even nuclear power itself just to convince everybody that it is absolutely safe."
Vietnam has already given the green light for the construction of its first nuclear power stations.
Estimated by experts to cost $11-18 billion, the initial plans call for four reactors with a total capacity of 4,000 megawatts to be built, with at least one expected to be operational from 2020.
Malaysia has also laid out plans to build its first nuclear power plant by 2021 and Singapore said atomic power was an option.
Indonesia and Thailand have also considered nuclear power stations but face strong local opposition at proposed reactor sites.
"Vietnam has been considering the Japanese technology, now it will have to need more convincing," Surin said.
"What happened in Japan is certainly something beyond expectations, beyond calculations, beyond the margin of safety that they have already built into the design... What happened could have some impact psychologically."
Available at: http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20110321-269310.html
2. Cyprus to Voice Concern Over Turkish Nuclear Plan, Minister Says
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Cyprus will raise Turkey’s plan to build a nuclear power plant on its southern coast at a meeting of European Union energy ministers today, said Antonis Paschalides, Cyprus’s commerce, industry and tourism minister.
“Turkey’s plans to construct a nuclear station at Akkuyu are a cause of concern after developments in Japan,” Paschalides said in an interview with Bloomberg News yesterday. “Akkuyu lies in an area with seismic activity and Cyprus is just 40 miles away.”
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said March 14 that Turkey will ask Russia’s Rosatom Corp. and Atomstroyexport ZAO, which have been picked to build the power plant, to tighten the planned safety standards.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou outlined Greece’s concerns about the plant to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Turkish counterpart, on March 18, according to an e-mailed statement from Papandreou’s office.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-21/cyprus-to-voice-concern-over-turkish-nuclear-plan-minister-says.html
The nuclear safety regulator of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was conducting a "very thorough review" in light of the crisis in Japan, a local English daily reported Monday.
William Travers, director general of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, said the body was examining the licensing application of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to build nuclear plants at the Braka site, a stretch of beach west of Ruwais, a town located some 240 km west of the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, according to The National.
"We have been following the developments caused by the devastating earthquake in Japan with great interest and vigilance, " Travers was quoted as saying.
"Once we fully understand the details of what has happened in Japan, we will use this information to enhance the safety of the peaceful nuclear power program here in the UAE," he added.
ENEC filed its application in December 2009 and hopes to have its first reactor operating at the Braka site by 2017. The review was expected to take more than a year and seismic safety is an issue that will be examined, Travers said.
Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in northern Japan, some countries announced either closures of their nuclear plants or safety reviews.
On Dec. 27, 2009, the UAE signed a 75-billion-dirham (about 20. 5 billion U.S. dollars) agreement with South Korea on the construction of four nuclear power plants in the country.
The UAE hopes to become the first Gulf state to develop a civilian nuclear program to help meet soaring demand for power. The first of the UAE's nuclear units is scheduled to produce electricity to its grid in 2017, the other three to be completed in 2020.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-03/21/c_13790526.htm
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