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Nuclear News - 3/31/2011
PGS Nuclear News, March 31, 2011
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Jails Nuclear Scientist Shahram Amiri, The Australian (3/31/2011)
    2. US Sanctions On Belarusian Firm Over Iran Engagement, RTT News (3/29/2011)
    1. Delegates From North Korea, U.S. Agree to Solve Problems via Dialogue, Yonhap News Agency (3/30/2011)
    2. China Nixes Taking Nuclear Program to U.N., UPI (3/29/2011)
    3. North Korea on High Alert for Radiation from Japan: Scholar, Sam Kim, Yonhap News Agency (3/29/2011)
C.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Discovery of Plutonium on Nuke Plant Grounds Suggests Fuel Rods Badly Damaged, The Mainichi Daily News (3/31/2011)
    2. Fears Nuclear Shutdown Could Take 30 Years, Shigeru Sato and Yuji Okada, The Sydney Morning Herald (3/31/2011)
    3. Tepco To Scrap 4 Reactors At Crippled Nuclear Plant, Nikkei (3/30/2011)
    4. KEPCO Puts Safety First in Building UAE Nuclear Plant, Kim Tae-gyu, The Korea Times (3/30/2011)
D.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Czech Republic Partners With France on Nuclear Energy Support, Ladka Bauerova, Bloomberg (3/29/2011)
    2. Armenia Willing to Share Nuclear Experience with Turkey, Officials Say, Hurriyet Daily News (3/29/2011)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. India to Make Its Nuclear Regulator Independent, Xinhua News Agency (3/30/2011)
    2. Slovenian Nuclear Power Plant Restarts, Associated Press (3/30/2011)
    3. Reprocessing is the UK Way Forward, Says Report, Nuclear Engineering International (3/30/2011)
    4. Indonesia Needs Nuclear Power Plants: Official, Xinhua News Agency (3/29/2011)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. What is Going On at Japan's Damaged Nuclear Reactor?, Reuters (3/29/2011)
    2. What If Gadhafi Had Gone Nuclear?, Michael Oren, The Wall Street Journal (3/29/2011)

A.  Iran

Iran Jails Nuclear Scientist Shahram Amiri
The Australian
(for personal use only)

A nuclear scientist at the centre of a spying row last year between Iran and the US has been jailed in Tehran and could face the death penalty.

Shahram Amiri, who returned to Iran in July after apparently defecting to the US, is under investigation for divulging secrets about Iran's clandestine uranium-enrichment program, The Times has learnt.

Sources inside Iran have confirmed Mr Amiri's arrest. If convicted of treason, he will almost certainly be executed.

The arrest adds a twist to this mysterious tale of claim and counterclaim. Mr Amiri, 33, was given a hero's welcome when he returned to Iran last year, with the regime claiming he had been a double agent leaking false information to the US.

The physicist vanished during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. He had worked at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, closely connected with the Revolutionary Guard and a centre for nuclear research.

US media reported he had defected in a long-planned CIA operation. Tehran accused Saudi intelligence of kidnapping Mr Amiri and handing him to the Americans. The CIA declined to comment. The operation blundered when US intelligence failed to extract Mr Amiri's wife and son to join him.

Angered by this betrayal, Mr Amiri reached out to Tehran in a series of bizarre videos released on YouTube and broadcast on Iranian state television. Sources in Tehran say his family was placed under enormous pressure, with the regime threatening to arrest his wife and kill his son.

Mr Amiri said in the videos he had been kidnapped and drugged by American and Saudi agents and smuggled to the US, where he had been tortured.

In July, he walked into the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington and sought refuge, saying he was on the run from the CIA. In fact it is believed he was dropped off outside the building. US State Department officials dismissed his story as a "fairytale".

Mr Amiri was reunited with his family amid joyful scenes at Tehran airport, the regime claiming an intelligence coup over the US.

His arrest will test even Tehran's formidable powers of spin. Washington has also been embarrassed by the Amiri affair, concerned that the scientist's plight will damage efforts to persuade further officials to defect.

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US Sanctions On Belarusian Firm Over Iran Engagement
RTT News
(for personal use only)

The US has sanctioned a Belarusian state-run firm over its involvement in Iran's energy sector, reports said on Tuesday.

Belarusneft has been penalized for investing around $500 million as part of an agreement signed with Tehran's NaftIran Intertrade Company for developing the Jofeir oilfield, according to the US State Department.

Following Washington's decision, Belarusneft has been barred from entering US markets and will hitherto become ineligible to receive US government contracts.

Under American laws, foreign firms with investments over and above $20 million in Iran would face sanctions.

The US has often accused Iran of financing its secretive nuclear program through funds realized through sale of its vast energy resources. Also, Washington and its allies believe that Tehran's nuclear program is aimed at building nuclear arms.

Iran on its part has consistently denied the accusations and instead said the program is meant for peaceful purposes. Besides, the Shia nation has often claimed its sovereign right to seek nuclear energy as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In June, the UN Security Council (UNSC) imposed further punitive sanctions on Tehran over its continuing nuclear defiance.

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Delegates From North Korea, U.S. Agree to Solve Problems via Dialogue
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

A North Korean high-ranking diplomat said Wednesday that delegates from North Korea and the United States have reached an agreement to solve their ongoing problems through dialogue and negotiations in an unofficial meeting held here.

"Both sides have agreed that concerns (over North Korea's nuclear issue) should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations, not confrontation," said Ri Gun, director general of the North American affairs bureau of North Korea's foreign ministry.

"(Delegates from the two countries) have seriously discussed each other's opinions and have shared various views."

His remarks came as he prepared to depart Berlin's Tegel Airport, ending his a week-long trip to Berlin to attend a seminar hosted by the Aspen Institute, a U.S. think tank, to exchange opinions with some former U.S. officials on reopening the six-party talks.

A North Korean delegation led by Ri arrived in Germany Thursday.

During the seminar hosted by the Aspen Institute between Monday and Tuesday, the two sides have discussed issues including the normalization of the U.S.-North Korea ties and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, according to an Aspen Institute official.

North Korea has long sought direct talks with the U.S. over its nuclear programs, but the U.S. has sided with South Korea in demanding a clear demonstration of the North's denuclearization commitment before any form of dialogue can resume.

The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have been stalled since their last session in late 2008 due to the North's missile and nuclear tests the following year.

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China Nixes Taking Nuclear Program to U.N.
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China won't budge on its opposition to taking the issue of North Korea's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, Beijing said.

North Korea's uranium-based program was a key topic of conversation when the foreign ministers of South Korea and China met Tuesday, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

But there was no change in China's position, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry said.

China opposes putting the matter before the U.N. and said it must be dealt with in six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

South Korea wants the Security Council to define the illicit nature of the uranium-enrichment program before reopening the six-party talks.

A definition would prevent Pyongyang from claiming that its program is for peaceful purposes.

Currently Beijing is North Korea's last remaining major ally.

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North Korea on High Alert for Radiation from Japan: Scholar
Sam Kim
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea is on high alert for any possible radioactive damage from an unfolding nuclear crisis in neighboring Japan, a senior North Korean scholar said Tuesday during talks with South Korea on a possible volcano eruption in the communist state.

Yoon Yong-geun, head of a North Korean delegation who traveled earlier in the day to this South Korean border town of Munsan, did not elaborate, but his comments offer a rare hint into the level of alarm in North Korea over the nuclear crisis in Japan.

"We are actively watching, worrying that radioactive contamination may reach us" from Japan, where firefighters are struggling to contain radioactive leaks from a northeastern nuclear plant hit by the major earthquake and ensuing tsunami, Yoon said.

Despite the direction of winds that normally blow from west to east, traces of radioactive material have been detected in South Korea, raising alarm, according to a nuclear safety agency here.

"Due to the proximity, (events in Japan) seem to affect us," Yoon told four South Korean scholars attending the first-ever inter-Korean talks on ways to respond should a volcano erupt in the North.

Yoon, deputy head of a volcano research institute, added underground water fluctuated by 60 centimeters and mud was found in spring water in his country after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan on March 11.

His comments come amid speculation Pyongyang is trying to turn around the badly frayed inter-Korean ties by appealing to heightened woes over natural disasters following the Japanese quake.

Earlier this month, the North proposed a government-level meeting to discuss a possible eruption at Mount Paekdu, a 2,750-meter-high peak that sits on the border between China and North Korea.

In a counter-proposal later accepted by the North, South Korea, which suspects Pyongyang is in dire need of aid, has downgraded the talks to a civilian level of academic nature.

Mount Paekdu, the highest on the Korean Peninsula, last erupted in 1903, but experts have recently warned that it may still have an active core, citing topographical signs and satellite images.

The concerns further rose after a magnitude-7.3 earthquake hit northeastern China in 2002. Some argue North Korea's nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 have also stimulated the core of the mountain.

Mount Paekdu is considered sacred by people of both Koreas. It is mentioned in South Korea's national anthem while Pyongyang claims its 69-year-old leader, Kim Jong-il, was born there, one of the most conspicuous elements of the personality cult surrounding him.

The relations between the Koreas remain at the worst point in years after a series of incidents that claimed dozens of South Korean lives last year, including the North's bombardment of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in the Yellow Sea.

In an effort to defuse tension, the sides held colonel-level defense talks in February but to no avail as the North continued to refuse to accept responsibility for the incidents, including the March sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea.

Experts have warned that an eruption at Mount Paekdu would cause political and economic chaos, even thwarting the stability of the communist regime in Pyongyang. In Europe last year, an Icelandic volcano caused massive flight disruptions, paralyzing air traffic and stymieing various political and economic activities.

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C.  Nuclear Safety

Discovery of Plutonium on Nuke Plant Grounds Suggests Fuel Rods Badly Damaged
The Mainichi Daily News
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The discovery of plutonium on the premises of the troubled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant suggests that overheating nuclear reactors are more badly damaged than previously thought, experts say.

Plutonium in low quantities has been detected in soil samples from around the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Experts believe the plutonium came from at least one of the reactors there.

"Considering the ratio of radioisotopes, it undoubtedly came from nuclear fuel," said Kazuya Idemitsu, professor of nuclear fuel engineering at Kyushu University.

There are several different kinds of plutonium with varying atomic weights. In the samples from around the nuclear plant, there was about 100 times more plutonium-238 than any other isotope. Furthermore, the plutonium-238 found in the Fukushima samples differs from that in the fallout from nuclear tests conducted overseas.

Normally, the nuclear fuel including the plutonium is prevented from melting and being emitted into the environment by a protective sheath. However, if a reactor overheats and the sheath sustains damage in the process of reacting to water, the fuel can become exposed, setting the stage for radioactive gases such as iodine to leak out. Even at this point, though, the plutonium itself is not released.

"I think plutonium was detected because the fuel was exposed, broke into pieces and leaked into the environment, perhaps when the hydrogen explosion occurred," said Kunio Azuma, a former member of the Nuclear Safety Commission, referring to the hydrogen explosions that blew apart the buildings housing the No. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

The fuel pellets in the fuel rods can withstand higher temperatures than the sheath. However, sudden cooling -- such as seawater being poured over the rods -- will fracture the pellets inside. The fact that technetium and cerium -- found in the pellets under normal conditions -- were detected around the nuclear plant and in stagnant water in one reactor building supports the view that the plutonium came from scattered nuclear fuel.

Professor Idemitsu believes that there is a high possibility that the plutonium turned into fine powder and seeped out together with cooling water, rather than being scattered into the air. The level of radiation in the stagnant water in the No. 2 reactor in particular is about 1,000 times higher that that of the No. 1 and 3 reactors.

"As compared to the No. 1 and 3 reactors that exploded outwards, I think the inward explosion at the No. 2 reactor had more destructive power. Because the quantities of the radioactive substances are rather large, there is a possibility that some percentage of the fuel rods was broken," Idemitsu said.

The plutonium found in the soil samples is 1-trillionth of 1 gram per kilogram. It is such a small quantity that it requires sophisticated analysis to detect it.

"We don't need to worry about its effect on our health at this stage. But the fact that highly radioactive water leaked down to the foundation of the reactor building is shocking," Idemitsu said.

"In view of the quantity of the contaminated water, the quantities of radioactive substances are rather great. It will take years to deal with this problem," said Azuma.

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Fears Nuclear Shutdown Could Take 30 Years
Shigeru Sato and Yuji Okada
The Sydney Morning Herald
(for personal use only)

Damaged reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant may take three decades to decommission and cost the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, more than ¥1 trillion ($12 billion), engineers and analysts said as fears grew over increasing radiation around the plant.

Four of the plant's six reactors became useless when seawater was used to cool them after the March 11 earthquake and a tsunami knocked out generators running cooling systems.

The reactors had to be decommissioned, the company's chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, said yesterday. He could not give a time frame.

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Mr Katsumata held a press conference after it was reported the radioactive core in a reactor at Fukushima appeared to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, raising fears of a big release of radiation at the site.

All the reactors will be shut down and the government has not ruled out sealing the plant in concrete, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, said.

Mr Katsumata apologised for the crisis and expressed regret to Fukushima residents and farmers over food affected by radiation discharged from the plant.

The Tepco chairman said it would be difficult to continue the company's involvement in the expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear plant. Other plans to export nuclear technology were likely to be shelved.

The reactors needed to be demolished after they had cooled and radioactive materials had been removed and stored, said Tomoko Murakami, a nuclear researcher at the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan.

The process would take longer than the 12 years needed to decommission the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania following its partial meltdown, said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University.

Radioactive iodine in seawater near the Fukushima plant reportedly rose to 3355 times the regulated safety limit on Tuesday afternoon, up from 2572 times the amount earlier in the day.

Richard Lahey, who was the head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the Fukushima units, said workers appeared to have ''lost the race'' to save the reactor , but there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel ''lower head'' of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Mr Lahey said.

''The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom … and at least some of it is down on the floor of the dry well.''

The government dismissed rumours of Tepco nationalisation but doubts over the future of Tokyo Electric, the largest power company in Asia, has coincided with mounting criticism of the nuclear emergency.

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KEPCO Puts Safety First in Building UAE Nuclear Plant
Kim Tae-gyu
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) broke ground for the decade-long nuclear power plant project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this month, with completion planned for 2020.

Along with its partners including Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Samsung Construction & Trade, KEPCO will build a total of four nuclear reactors in the oil-rich Gulf country.

KEPCO says that its technological platform based on the Advanced Power Reactor (APR)-1400 is a cutting-edge option to secure safety. But it is thinking of taking additional measures following global concerns due to Japans nuclear disaster.

In the aftermath of devastating earthquakes and resulting tsunami the nuclear power station in Fukuyama was damaged, leading to the release of radioactive materials into the air and nearby seawater.

``Safety comes first in any nation when it comes to nuclear energy. Our APR-1400 is one of the safest reactors in the world, which was picked after competition with outfits from France and Japan, KEPCO Senior Manager Kwak Yong-hak said.

``Equipped with multi-layer safety devices geared toward coping with such accidents as a meltdown or hydrogen explosion, the UAE facilities are designed to stand strong earthquakes or tsunami.

Hydrogen explosions took place at the Fukuyama station to cause leaks of airborne nuclear material. Worse, worries run high on the possible meltdown of spent fuel rods.

As concerns on nuclear safety surface even Korean President Lee Myung-bak stressed its significance during the ground-breaking ceremony on March 14.

Yet Lee also showed confidence in Korean techniques. Cheong Wa Dae quoted him as saying, ``I believe that Koreas nuclear technology would be a good model for the Middle East.

On Lees previous visit to the UAE at the end of 2009 Korea signed the nations first contract on nuclear exports involving the APR-1400, developed and used here.

As the largest energy deal in the Middle East, the contract was worth $18.6 billion and its value could double through a follow-up operation deal to be inked separately after completion of the plants.

Redundancies matter in nuclear

Thanks to multiple safety features KEPCO believes that its UAE facilities would not face the same problems as those in Japan.

``The Fukuyama power station successfully withstood the earthquakes. When the main power was damaged, the auxiliary power supply worked to keep cooling the reactors, Kwak said.

``But the auxiliary supply was swept away by the tsunami to generate all the hydrogen explosions and meltdowns. By contrast, three more safety steps would be built into the UAE power station.

Kwak said that the emergency power supply system would be composed of two layers. If the first contingency generator breaks down, the alternative alternating currency (ACC) power generator will come on.

``Lets say that electricity is not available at all under the worst-ever tsunami. But our APR-1400 systems cooling mechanism will operate through self-generated power based on the steam without the help of electricity provided from the outside Kwak said.

``Then the hydrogen will not be created en masse. Lets assume that the amount of hydrogen goes up anyhow. Our final resort is the igniter, which burns hydrogen little by little when its amount hits a set level.

KEPCO points out that the UAE reactors couldnt suffer hydrogen explosions but is being cautious.

``If the facilities to be built in the UAE had been in Fukushima, we dont think they would have leaked any radioactive materials. The reactors would have been eventually revived, Kwak said.

``As far as safety is concerned, however, we cannot afford to be complacent. We plan to scrutinize ways to further increase the security of the UAE reactors in the future.

More safety measures

KEPCO is not currently considering drastically changing the designs and layouts of the UAE power station, which will be built in the Braka region, around 270 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi.

But it is ready to follow international guidelines in case the world comes up with a fresh framework on the construction and operation of nuclear facilities after examining the Japanese disaster.

``In the wake of the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents, the world beefed up security measures through in-depth analysis to be applied to all nuclear systems across the world, Kwak said.

``Similar procedures are expected to take place after the Fukushima case. Then we would follow the new guidelines in building the UAE power station.

Considered as the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, the Chernobyl disaster occurred in April 1986 in Ukraine to claim many lives. It is the only incident categorized as level seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

A nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island in the U.S. suffered a partial core nuclear meltdown in 1979. Radioactive matter flowed into the nearby river.

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Tepco To Scrap 4 Reactors At Crippled Nuclear Plant
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that it will scrap the four crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as the country struggles to bring the nuclear crisis under control weeks after a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

The utility said that while the cost of compensation in connection with the nuclear disaster will be daunting and will undermine it financially, the company will try hard to remain afloat and avoid nationalization.

''We have no choice but to scrap reactors 1 to 4 if we look at their conditions objectively,'' said Tsunehisa Katsumata, the company's chairman, at a news conference.

Since losing cooling functions following the deadly natural disaster on March 11, four of the six reactors at the nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo have leaked radioactive materials into the air and sea.

While workers are continuing efforts to prevent the reactors from overheating and restore their cooling systems, all six reactors at the plant have been stabilized to some degree, Katsumata said.

But as the cooling systems have yet to be restored for the Nos. 1-4 reactors to bring them into a stable condition called ''cold shutdown,'' the company, known also as TEPCO, will make maximum efforts, Katsumata added.

The Nos. 5 and 6 reactors were already in a state of cold shutdown.

''We apologize for causing the public anxiety, worry and trouble due to the explosions at reactor buildings and the release of radioactive materials,'' Katsumata said at the news conference at the company's head office.

Earlier Wednesday, TEPCO said its president, Masataka Shimizu, was hospitalized Tuesday for hypertension and dizziness.

His hospitalization came after reports that Shimizu had fallen sick on March 16 and taken some days off from manning a liaison office set up between the government and the utility to regain control of the plant.

Katsumata has already taken over Shimizu's role temporarily in leading efforts to bring the crisis under control, the company said, adding that Shimizu would return to work as soon as he recovers.

It will not take long for Shimizu to return to work and resume taking the lead in handling the crisis, Katsumata said.

As to the managerial responsibilities he and Shimizu should bear, Katsumata said, ''Our greatest responsibility is to put everything into bringing the current situation to an end and under control.''

Shimizu has rarely appeared in public since attending a news conference on March 13, two days after the natural disaster wreaked havoc on northeastern Japan.

Reactors at the roughly 40-year-old plant built on the Pacific coast of Fukushima Prefecture lost cooling functions after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami waves knocked out power, precipitating the nuclear crisis that has forced tens of thousands of local residents to evacuate.

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D.  Nuclear Cooperation

Armenia Willing to Share Nuclear Experience with Turkey, Officials Say
Hurriyet Daily News
(for personal use only)

Armenia has no intention of politicizing the country’s drive for nuclear power and is willing to aid Turkey in its quest for atomic energy, Armenian officials said.

“We have no intention whatsoever of turning the nuclear energy debate into a political issue and, as Armenian experts, we are willing to share our expertise and experience in nuclear energy with our Turkish and Russian peers,” Arthur Hovhannisyan, first deputy chairman of the RA State Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committee, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Turkish officials raising concerns over an aging nuclear power plant just over the border in Armenia merely do so out of political motives, former Armenian National Security Chairman Ashot Manucharyan told the Daily News. “There is nothing to be worried about, we are carrying out studies and measurements meticulously.”

Turkey has long been concerned about the possible dangers of the Haygagan Atomagayan nuclear plant in Metzsamor, just 16 kilometers from the Turkish border. Such worries are resurfacing following the recent nuclear catastrophe in Japan following a tsunami that left the Fukushima reactor stricken and leaking radiation.

Hovhannisyan also said overt Turkish concern for the condition of the Metzsamor plant was due to latent political motives.

“Leaving everything aside, it is impossible to have such a big earthquake in our region as they had in Japan, and even if we close the power plant down, we will never compromise security measures. Turkish people should have no doubts about that,” Manucharyan said.

“We are [also] showing utmost care not to cause a catastrophe like [Chernobyl],” Manucharyan said.

Collaboration offer for Akkuyu plant

Armenia also plans to build a new nuclear plant in the country in collaboration with Russia.

“It is not that we are building this new plant because the older one is a potential danger,” Hovhannisyan said. “On the contrary, we are investing for the future already knowing about our country’s forthcoming energy needs. It is interesting that as Turkey talks about our plant’s dangers, they are preparing for the launch of a nuclear plant [in Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin].”

Hovhannisyan said he had been closely following the developments about the Akkuyu plant that is also slated to be built in collaboration with Russia.

Hovhannisyan said the devastating Spitag earthquake of 1988 tested the durability of the Metzsamor plant, which is known to reside on a fault line. While the plant suffered no damage, the temblor killed thousands and caused extensive damage in Gyumri, the second-biggest city in Armenia.

Manucharyan said Armenia absolutely needed a new reactor equipped with the latest technology to supply the country’s energy needs. “Unfortunately we cannot trust our neighbors” for energy, he added.

According to an Anatolia news agency report in January, academics from Atatürk University in the eastern province of Erzurum had reportedly begun installing radiation measurement devices along the border to calculate the effects of an alleged radiation leak at the Haygagan Atomagayan plant. It was later revealed, however, that the devices were installed around the area to provide data for an earthquake map, not measure radiation.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry posted a disclaimer on its website denying the leak claims while the Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency also refuted the report.

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Czech Republic Partners With France on Nuclear Energy Support
Ladka Bauerova
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The Czech Republic has found a “strong” partner in France for supporting further development of nuclear energy, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tomas Huner said.

“We are very happy to have found a strong European partner that’s pro-nuclear,” Huner said today at an energy conference in Prague.

Development of nuclear energy is the country’s “absolute priority” even after the March 11 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic plant, Prime Minister Petr Necas said. The Czech Republic will continue using its six existing nuclear reactors and go ahead with plans to build two more reactors at the Temelin plant, according to Necas.

France’s Areva AS is competing with Westinghouse Electric Co. and a Russian-Czech group led by ZAO Atomstroyexport for the contract to build two new units at Temelin. State-controlled CEZ AS (CEZ), which owns Temelin, will choose the winner of the tender by the end of 2013.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

India to Make Its Nuclear Regulator Independent
Xinhua News Agency
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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that his government will make its nuclear regulator the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) truly autonomous and independent in the wake of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima atomic complex in Japan, local media reported Wednesday.

"We will strengthen the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and make it a truly autonomous and independent regulatory authority. We will ensure that it is of the highest and the best international standards," Singh was quoted by the media as saying Tuesday.

Though the AERB is responsible for ensuring the safe use of nuclear energy, its lack of independence from the Indian government's Department of Atomic Energy has raised questions on its effectiveness as a regulatory authority.

"The people of India have to be convinced about the safety and security of our nuclear power plants. We should bring greater openness and transparency in the decision making processes which are related to our nuclear energy programme. We should also improve our capacity better keep the public informed about our decisions and issues that are of concerns to them," said Singh.

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Reprocessing is the UK Way Forward, Says Report
Nuclear Engineering International
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It would be cheaper for the UK to reprocess its spent fuel and reuse its plutonium stockpiles in mixed oxide (MOx) fuel than disposing of them as a waste, according to a new report from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE). The report, headed by Sir David King, former government chief scientific advisor, says that the UK has a "window of opportunity" to deal with its nuclear material and spent fuel management in order to maximise the value of its existing assets.

The UK-owned stockpile of separated plutonium is expected to reach 100 tonnes in the coming years. The country also has stockpiles of uranium from enrichment operations (tails) and reprocessing (REPU), and some 6000teHM of spent AGR fuel produced after 2007. Currently this material is classed as a zero-value asset. Going forward there are two options for this material - it can either be treated as a resource for recyling into new fuel or as a waste for disposal. Both approaches would require the development and management of plants at significant cost, however analysis of four different scenarios finds that there is an economic case for reprocessing.

The UK recently launched a consultation on its plans.

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Slovenian Nuclear Power Plant Restarts
Associated Press
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Slovenia's only nuclear power plant has restarted after being shut down for a week after what officials referred to as a minor incident.

Ida Novak Jerele, a spokeswoman for the Plant, Krsko, 18 miles (30 kilometers) west of Zagreb, said the system had restarted early Wednesday without problems.

It was switched off March 23rd after power lines from the plant to the Croatian capital stopped transmitting.

A previous attempt to restart the plant failed last week due to problems in the lubrication oil systems.

The plant, built by Westinghouse and owned jointly by Slovenia and Croatia, went into operation in 1983. It has one 2,000 megawatt reactor.

The last reported incident at the plant was in June 2008, when a faulty valve caused a water leak that raised alarms across Europe.

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Indonesia Needs Nuclear Power Plants: Official
Xinhua News Agency
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Indonesia still needs nuclear power plants despite the growing rejection amid Japan's nuclear power crisis, an official said here Tuesday.

Ahmad Farhan Hamid, vice speaker of People Consultative Assembly, said, "This nation still needs nuclear power plant. The most important thing is that we have to find the most stable place in the country. Kalimantan Island, as far as I know, is one of the most geographically-stable locations in Indonesia," said Hamid.

People's safety comes first in this matter, he said. "The second most important thing is the technology choice."

"Not only that we have to anticipate nuclear reactor leakage, but we have to think about how to manage nuclear waste, and others, " said Hamid.

According to Hamid, whatever the government decides, public safety must be put on priority.

"As long as public safety could not be guaranteed, of course, choice on nuclear power plants could not be taken in the near term, " said Hamid.

Following radioactive leakage in Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, rejection of nuclear power plant construction in Indonesia grows.

Ministers, officials and environmental activists voiced their objection to nuclear.

Coordinating Minister for Economy Hatta Rajasa said that a nuclear power plant is the last choice for Indonesia while Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said that Indonesia is not ready yet to have such a power plant.

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F.  Links of Interest

What If Gadhafi Had Gone Nuclear?
Michael Oren
The Wall Street Journal
(for personal use only)

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What is Going On at Japan's Damaged Nuclear Reactor?
(for personal use only)

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