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Nuclear News - 4/19/2011
PGS Nuclear News, April 19, 2011
Compiled By: Matthew Kapuscinski

A.  Iran
    1. Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan Ink Statement on Joint Cooperation, Xinhua News Agency (4/17/2011)
    2. Iran Test-Fires Home-Made Missile System: Media, Xinhua News Agency (4/16/2011)
    1. No Apology from North Korea, No Progress in Talks, Na Jeong-ju, The Korea Times (4/18/2011)
    2. Inter-Korean Dialogue Comes First Before Six-Party Talks: South Korean, U.S. Officials, Xinhua News Agency (4/16/2011)
C.  Japan
    1. Nuclear Crisis Could Push Japan Growth Below IMF Forecast: Official, The Mainichi Daily News (4/19/2011)
    2. State Takes Flak Over Tepco's Plan, The Japan Times (4/19/2011)
    3. High Levels of Radiation at 2 Reactors, Yomiuri Shimbun (4/19/2011)
    4. TEPCO Announces It Will Take 6-9 Months to End Nuclear Crisis, Japan Today  (4/17/2011)
D.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Turkish Plant Resistant to Magnitude 9.0 Quake, Hurriyet Says, Benjamin Harvey, Bloomberg (4/18/2011)
    2. Korea-U.S. Study Set on Storage of Spent Nuke Fuel, Joong Ang Daily (4/18/2011)
    3. EU-Swiss Talks on Nuclear Tests, Oettinger Tells Tages-Anzeiger, Bloomberg (4/16/2011)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Kazakhstan to Supply 2100 Tonnes of Uranium to India’s Nuclear Plants by 2014, The Nation (4/17/2011)
    2. Parties Joust Over Costs of German Nuclear Shutdown, Deutsche Welle (4/16/2011)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Vladivostok Seaport to Decontaminate Radioactive Japanese Cars, RIA Novosti (4/18/2011)
    2. Undaunted by Japan, Jordan Continues Nuclear Drive, Taylor Luck, The Jordan Times (4/18/2011)
    3. Q+A: Japan's Nuclear Owner Aims for Shutdown of Reactors, Reuters (4/18/2011)
    4. Israel Becomes CERN Nuclear Group Member, AFP (4/17/2011)

A.  Iran

Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan Ink Statement on Joint Cooperation
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan inked a statement to promote tripartite cooperation, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

The final statement was signed by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali- Akbar Salehi and his Turkish and Azerbaijani counterparts Ahmet Davutoglu and Elmar Mammadyarov at the end of their first trilateral meeting in Iran's northwestern city of Orumiyeh.

The statement underlined the "excellent relations" among the three countries and described their common culture and civilization as a good basis for the further reinvigoration of their ties, said Fars.

The three ministers called in the statement for the regional cooperation and respecting countries' territorial integrity and national borders, which, it said, will have positive effects on the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts, said Fars.

The three top diplomats also stressed the importance of justice in regulating international relations and full respect for all countries' rights of access to development, science and technology, including civilian nuclear technology within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without any discrimination, said Fars.

The three sides also agreed to establish trilateral economic commission to promote economic cooperation, local ISNA news agency said on Sunday.

They also agreed on cooperation among the three countries' intelligence and security agencies in fighting terrorism, organized crimes, drugs trafficking and human and weapons smuggling, said ISNA.

At the opening ceremony of the first trilateral meeting on Saturday, Salehi said the trilateral cooperation among Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan can "serve peace and stability" in the region, Press TV reported Sunday.

"Trilateral cooperation among Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey is not only in the interest of the three countries, but also in the interest of the entire region," Salehi was quoted as saying.

The meeting "can lay the proper foundation for expanding cooperation with other regional countries and serve peace and stability in the region," Salehi said, adding "all the three countries stress the necessity of resolving regional disputes in a peaceful and just manner, and believe that expanding relations and economic cooperation in the region could help establish and guarantee peace and stability."

Before the three-way meeting, Turkey and Iran opened on Saturday a new border crossing between Turkey's eastern province of Van and Iran's West Azerbaijan province to cement bilateral ties, Turkish media reported.

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Iran Test-Fires Home-Made Missile System: Media
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Iran has successfully test-fired its latest air-defense missile system dubbed Sayyad-2, local semi- official Fars News Agency reported on Saturday.

Sayyad-2 air-defense system has been tested recently and will be unveiled in the near future, Lieutenant Commander of Khatamolanbia Air Defense Base Colonel Abolfazl Farahini was quoted as saying.

The commander said the hawk systems optimized by the Iranian experts have undergone warm-testing at Khondab nuclear facility near the central city of Arak and successfully hit their targets, stressing that the test was aimed at assessing the level of preparedness of Iran's defense systems deployed to defend Iran's sensitive nuclear facilities.

Its previous version Sayyad-1, which Iran had unveiled earlier, is a two-staged surface to air missile. Equipped with a 200- kilogram warhead and with a speed of 1,200 meters per second, it can not only be deployed to destroy the targets with low Radar Cross Section (RCS) at low and medium altitudes, but also be used in electronic warfare.

Sayyad-2 is an upgraded version and enjoys higher precision, range and destruction power than its previous version, FNA reported.

Iran has made considerable progress in the past decades over the development of medium and long-range missiles, and Teheran has reiterated that its missile capability is "a defensive tool against invasions."

In February, Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari announced that Iran has put smart ballistic missiles with three-fold ultrasound speed in mass production, but without elaborating further details and the type of the missiles.

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No Apology from North Korea, No Progress in Talks
Na Jeong-ju
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)

South Korea plans to demand an apology from North Korea for its deadly attacks last year during the proposed talks between the chief nuclear negotiators from both Koreas, a senior Seoul official said Monday.

“If there is no apology from North Korea, it is impossible for us to move forward with the denuclearization talks. That’s the bottom line,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The suggestion came as the two Koreas are moving to hold dialogue on the North’s nuclear program to pave the way for the resumption of the six-party talks, which have been stalled since December 2008.

“We welcome any talks with North Korea to resolve pending inter-Korean issues. However, our position is that there will be little progress in the denuclearization process if the North keeps ignoring our calls to address its past wrongdoings,” the official said.

Sources from Cheong Wa Dae said President Lee Myung-bak shared such a view with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton when they met at Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday.

Clinton told Lee that the two countries are currently maintaining a stronger security alliance than at any other time and will continue to cooperate closely on North Korea, according to the presidential office.

Last week, China’s top nuclear envoy Wu Dawei proposed after a meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Beijing that the nuclear delegates of the two Koreas hold dialogues first to reopen the six-nation talks. North Korea reportedly wants direct talks with the United States before restarting the multilateral talks.

Presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jeong reiterated that North Korea should show sincerity first.

“There are still many things the two Koreas need to iron out. There will be improvement in inter-Korean relations only when the North acts in a responsible manner,” Kim told reporters.

Officials here said Seoul and Washington have agreed that Pyongyang must show in deeds as well as in words that it is committed to the cause of denuclearization, calling such a move a precondition to the resumption of the six-party talks.

Seoul has urged Pyongyang to address its past provocations highlighted by a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in March last year and the shelling of a border island last November. The torpedo attack killed 46 sailors, and the artillery attack left two marines and two civilians dead.

“The most important thing is that the two Koreas should have productive talks in a sincere manner to create a turnaround in their relations as well as the denuclearization talks,” a presidential aide said.

Unification Minister Hyun In-taek also noted the importance of the North’s sincere attitude toward denuclearization as well as apologies for attacks but stopped short of deeming them prerequisites.

“I’m not saying those things are necessarily preconditions for North-South dialogue, but without them it would be very difficult to produce results,” he said.

The two Koreas held working preliminary military level talks in February, which did not lead to senior-level dialogue over Seoul’s request that theNorth take responsibility for the two provocations by the North in 2010.

If the inter-Korean nuclear talks should open, Wi Sung-lac, South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy is expected to meet with Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s vice foreign minister and chief nuclear envoy, in either Panmunjeom or a third-country, Korea watchers forecast.

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Inter-Korean Dialogue Comes First Before Six-Party Talks: South Korean, U.S. Officials
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

The United States and South Korea agreed Saturday that inter-Korean dialogue on denuclearization should come first before the resumption of the long-stalled six- party talks, South Korea's foreign ministry said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived here late Saturday for talks with South Korean officials, makes an effort to "strengthen the alliance and to discuss cooperation on regional issues".

Upon her arrival, Clinton headed directly to the residence of her South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan for a bilateral meeting.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed ways to strengthen the two nation's strategic alliance, issues related to the free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides, the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula and last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, South Korea's foreign ministry said in a press release.

The two sides agreed to continue cooperation on the nuclear issue of the peninsula, stressing that, in order to restart the six-party talks, Seoul and Pyongyang should hold dialogue focusing on denuclearization first, and Pyongyang should show its sincerity through its actions.

The two ministers reiterated the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s uranium enrichment program is in violation of U. N. Security Council resolutions and its own commitments under the 2005 joint declaration, and agreed to press the international community to "sternly" deal with it.

On the bilateral relations, the two ministers agreed that the two nations should make more efforts to early ratify the FTA, and continue to push forward the transfer of wartime operational control and the relocation of U.S. troops' base in South Korea.

The two also discussed ways to push forward strategic dialogue between the two ministries.

The U.S. top diplomat will also meet with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Sunday before she travel to Tokyo.

Her brief two-day visit, the first one since the so-called "2+2 " meeting last July, which gathered foreign and defense ministers of both the two nations to exchange views on security and regional issues, came following a meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member countries in Germany.

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C.  Japan

High Levels of Radiation at 2 Reactors
Yomiuri Shimbun
(for personal use only)

High levels of radiation were measured Sunday by remote-controlled robots inside the buildings that house reactors Nos. 1 and 3 of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant--levels that would need to be lowered for workers to work inside the buildings, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Monday.

The agency said radiation levels were measured from 10 to 49 millisieverts per hour for the No. 1 reactor and from 28 to 57 millisieverts per hour for the No. 3 reactor.

"As things stand now, it would be difficult to send workers inside them to work. We need to lower the radiation levels or block them somehow," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokeman for the agency.

It marked the first time that radiation levels have been measured inside the buildings housing reactors Nos. 1 and 3 since hydrogen explosions occurred in these two units in the wake of the massive quake and tsunami on March 11.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the crisis-hit plant, used two U.S.-made robots to take the measurements.

Measurements at the No. 3 reactor, taken between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, found that the temperature inside was from 19 C to 22 C, the humidity from 32 percent to 35 percent, and the oxygen content of the air inside 21 percent.

At the No. 1 reactor, where measurements were taken between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., the temperature ranged from 28 C to 29 C, the humidity from 49 percent to 56 percent, while the oxygen content was 21 percent.

Inside the building housing reactor No. 3, the interior of which was also photographed by a robot Sunday, there was a large amount of debris found, making it impossible for the robot to advance further.

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Nuclear Crisis Could Push Japan Growth Below IMF Forecast: Official
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

Uncertainty surrounding the nuclear crisis coupled with power supply shortages could drag Japan's economic growth this year beneath the 1.4 percent increase forecast most recently by the International Monetary Fund, a senior IMF official said Saturday.

"Although our main scenario is 1.4 percent growth for 2011, we face downside risks, as it remains unclear how long the nuclear problem will continue and how power supply will affect the economy," Naoyuki Shinohara, IMF deputy managing director, said in an interview with Kyodo News.

Shinohara said the protracted nuclear problem at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is also likely to dampen consumer sentiment, dragging down economic activity.

In a semiannual World Economic Outlook report released earlier this week, the IMF trimmed Japan's projected growth rate to 1.4 percent for 2011 in terms of real gross domestic product, down from its previous 1.6 percent estimate in January, on the expected negative impact of the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami on the country's economic recovery.

Shinohara also noted that some emerging economies in Asia and Latin America are slow reversing their accommodative fiscal and monetary policies that were adopted in 2008 and 2009 amid soaring commodity prices.

"We need to take note of inflation concerns (in these emerging economies," he added.

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State Takes Flak Over Tepco's Plan
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)

A blueprint for ending radiation leaks and stabilizing reactors at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant drew a lackluster response Monday, as polls showed diminishing public support for the government's handling of the disasters.

The plan issued by Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the weekend, in response to a government order, is meant to be a first step toward letting some of the tens of thousands of evacuees from near Tepco's stricken plant return to their homes.

Those forced to flee due to radiation leaks after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out the plant's power and cooling systems are frustrated that their exile will not end soon. And officials acknowledge that unforeseen complications, or even another natural disaster, could set that timetable back even further.

"Well, this year is lost," said Kenji Matsueda, 49, who is living in an evacuation center in Fukushima after being forced from his home 20 km from the plant.

"I have no idea what I will do. Nine months is a long time. And it could be longer. I don't think they really know."

Pressure has been building on the government and Tepco to resolve Japan's worst-ever nuclear power accident, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan is facing calls for his resignation.

"You should be bowing your head in apology. You clearly have no leadership at all," Masashi Waki, a lawmaker from the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, shouted during an intense grilling of Kan and members of his Cabinet in the Diet Monday.

"I am sincerely apologizing for what has happened," Kan said, stressing the government was doing all it could to handle the unprecedented disasters.

Tepco President Masataka Shimizu looked visibly ill at ease as lawmakers heckled and taunted him.

"I again deeply apologize for causing so much trouble for residents near the complex, people in Fukushima and the public," Shimizu said.

Polls by several national newspapers released Monday showed widespread dissatisfaction, with more than two-thirds of Japanese surveyed unhappy with how Kan's administration has dealt with the nuclear crisis.

"Nothing concrete," said a headline in the Mainichi newspaper of the plan.

"The nuclear timetable does not show enough consideration for the residents," said the Nihon Keizai, a financial newspaper.

A majority of those surveyed in the polls by the Mainichi, Nihon Keizai and Asahi newspapers expressed support, though, for tax increases to pay for reconstruction of areas devastated by the tsunami.

Goshi Hosono, an adviser to the prime minister and member of his nuclear crisis management task force, said the government would closely monitor Tepco's implementation of its crisis plan and hoped it could be carried out ahead of schedule.

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TEPCO Announces It Will Take 6-9 Months to End Nuclear Crisis
Japan Today
(for personal use only)

Tokyo Electric Power Co said Sunday that it aims to bring the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to a stable condition known as a ‘‘cold shutdown’’ in about six to nine months, while restoring stable cooling to the reactors and spent fuel pools in about three months.

At a news conference in Tokyo, company Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata announced the utility’s schedule ‘‘for the moment’’ for bringing the complex in Fukushima Prefecture under control, while offering an apology for the ongoing nuclear crisis.

“We sincerely apologize for causing troubles,” Katsumata said. “We are doing our utmost to prevent the crisis from further worsening.”

Katsumata, who was hammered by questions over his management responsibility, told reporters he was considering stepping down because of the crisis. “I feel very responsible,” he said.

Katsumata said he was not sure when the tens of thousands who had been forced to flee their homes because of the crisis could go back, but Trade Minister Banri Kaieda said some could return home within six to nine months.

“Of course, some people will be unable to return home, but we will keep everyone informed,” he said, adding that the government hoped TEPCO could contain the radiation sooner than the schedule announced Sunday calls for.

Evacuees who have been forced to abandon their homes, jobs and in many cases their farms were unconvinced by TEPCO’s plan.

“I don’t believe a word they say,” said Yukio Otsuka, 56, a private school owner whose home is about 5 kilometers from the facility.

Goshi Hosono, an adviser to the prime minister and member of his nuclear crisis management task force, said he understood that people might be frustrated by the timeline.

But he added, “There is no shortcut to resolving these issues. Though it will be difficult, we have to go step by step to resolve these problems one by one.”

TEPCO said it needs three months to achieve ‘‘steady reduction’’ in radiation, and an additional three to six months to control radioactive emissions and curb radiation substantially.

It said it is addressing the immediate challenges of preventing hydrogen explosions at the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors and emission of water contaminated with high-level radiation from the No. 2 reactor.

It also said it will put special covers on the heavily damaged buildings of the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

The nuclear plant has been crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, with the resulting damage causing radioactive materials to be emitted into the environment and forcing residents near the plant to be evacuated.

The company is focusing on cooling the reactors and spent fuel pools, decontaminating water that has been contaminated by radiation, mitigating the release of radiation into the atmosphere and soil and measuring and reducing the amount of radiation effecting the evacuation area, he said.

TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said that in addition to covering the reactor buildings, the company will also work with authorities to decontaminate areas affected by the radiation.

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said American nuclear experts ‘‘have been very supportive of what Japan is doing to take the appropriate steps’’ and will analyze a restoration plan unveiled by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co on a request to do so by Matsumoto.

The following is the gist of steps Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced Sunday that it will take to bring under control the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Gist of TEPCO plan

STEP 1 (In roughly three months)

—Filling containment vessels of Nos. 1, 3 reactors with water.

—Sealing with cement the part in No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel believed breached.

—Injecting nitrogen into Nos. 2, 3 reactors to avoid possible hydrogen explosion.

—Restoring circulatory cooling system for spent fuel pools.

—Installing facility to decontaminate highly tainted water and purify seawater.

STEP 2 (In roughly six to nine months)

—Bringing reactors into stable condition known as cold shutdown.

—Blanketing buildings housing Nos. 1, 3, 4 reactors with covering.


—Extracting fuel assemblies from pools holding spent fuel.

—Covering reactor buildings with containers, such as those using concrete.

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D.  Nuclear Safety

Korea-U.S. Study Set on Storage of Spent Nuke Fuel
Joong Ang Daily
(for personal use only)

Korea and the United States have agreed to carry out a joint study on safe ways to store spent nuclear fuel, including exploration of the feasibility of pyro-processing technology, the government said yesterday.

The Ministry for Education, Science and Technology said the two sides agreed to conduct two years of preliminary research until 2012 on a storage system that is technologically and economically viable and does not undermine global nonproliferation efforts.

The research project is the first part of a three-stage, 10-year cooperative program agreed upon in Washington last October.

The ministry said that officials who met in New Mexico last week concurred that a long-term, safe and economically sustainable storage system is needed to cope with a growing amount of nuclear fuel.

“The two sides will review pyro-processing of fuel from light water reactors, development of advanced safety technologies and comprehensive ways of dealing with spent fuel,” the ministry said.

Think tanks under the U.S. Department of Energy and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute will participate in the joint research project.

South Korea, which currently operates 21 commercial reactors, has 10,000 tons of highly radioactive waste held in temporary storage areas at the country’s four nuclear reactors.

Such holding areas, however, are expected to reach full capacity around 2016, making it imperative for a more permanent solution to be found.

Seoul had been looking into pyro-processing since 1997 as a way to reduce the size of spent fuel and make storage safer.

The ministry says that the process is relatively safe because it stores processed plutonium with various other elements. By doing so, it makes it harder for plutonium to be used to make nuclear weapons.

Critics, however, have countered that pyro-processing is basically not much different from conventional reprocessing and that such a step by Seoul will hurt ongoing nonproliferation efforts.

Allowing Korea to pursue pyro-processing technology of nuclear waste has been a sensitive topic in the ongoing negotiations between Seoul and Washington over revision of their bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, which is due to expire in 2014.

The nuclear pact has barred Korea from participating.

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Turkish Plant Resistant to Magnitude 9.0 Quake, Hurriyet Says
Benjamin Harvey
(for personal use only)

A nuclear power plant being built by two Russian companies on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast will withstand a magnitude-9.0 earthquake such as the one that damaged reactors in Japan, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The plant will also be built to withstand a tsunami, even if its electricity supply is cut off, Hurriyet said, citing comments by Alexander Superfin, general manager of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant Co.

The radiation leak in March at Fukushima, Japan, which has reactors built using 1960s technology, would be impossible in Turkey with the new design and security measures, Superfin said. He said he expected support from the government to overcome public opposition to the project, the newspaper reported.

The first phase of the plant will be completed in 2019 if construction begins in mid-2013, Hurriyet quoted Superfin as saying.

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EU-Swiss Talks on Nuclear Tests, Oettinger Tells Tages-Anzeiger
(for personal use only)

European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Swiss Federal Energy and Environment Councillor Doris Leuthard will discuss April 19 the criteria for stress-testing Europe’s nuclear power stations, Tages-Anzeiger reported today in an interview with the commissioner.

The EU and Switzerland may agree before the end of this year whether the Alpine country should join the European energy community, Oettinger told the newspaper.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Kazakhstan to Supply 2100 Tonnes of Uranium to India’s Nuclear Plants by 2014
The Nation
(for personal use only)

Kazakhstan has announced that it will supply 2100 tonnes of uranium to India's nuclear plants by 2014.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev made the announcement after talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Astana in Kazakhstan, PTI reported.

Singh said that India intended to increase its energy production five-fold in the near future.

The two leaders noted the need for expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation in this area while adhering to their existing obligations under multilateral nuclear regimes, a joint statement said.

India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 when Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm signed an MoU during Nazarbaev's India visit.

Under the contract, KazAtomProm supplies uranium which is used by Indian nuclear reactors. Kazakhstan has already supplied 200 tonnes uranium to India.

India is also exploring possibilities of joint exploration of uranium in Kazakhstan.

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Parties Joust Over Costs of German Nuclear Shutdown
Deutsche Welle
(for personal use only)

The German government, headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is set to introduce legislation by mid-June which will ultimately seal the demise of the country's 17 nuclear power stations. Now the focus of the country's energy debate has shifted to the question of how to pay for shutting down Germany's nuclear power plants without disrupting the economy.

The governing coalition of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), have stated flatly that they are opposed to raising taxes to finance the switch.

"I'm opposed to an energy tax," said the designated FDP chairman, Phillip Rösler. "I can assure you: With us there will be no tax hike to finance a changeover to renewable energies," he said.

CDU budget expert Norbert Barthle said "no new austerity packages are needed and I rule out tax increases."

But Barthle injected a caveat when asked by journalists about a possible rise in the cost of electricity.

"I cannot rule out that possible extra costs due to a quicker switch to renewable energies may have to be borne by consumers," he said.

A question of pace

The opposition Social Democrat parliamentary leader, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, warned against a hasty retreat from nuclear energy.

"Germany is not just any old country, but rather an important industrial center," he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper, emphasizing that energy had to remain affordable for all consumers.

"When we shut down eight nuclear power plants, we produce one third less electricity all at once, and depending on the time of year, this cannot be automatically substituted with renewable energies," Steinmeier said.

He added that Germany's aim has always been to cover its own energy needs itself.

"Buying in nuclear power from abroad is not a solution," he said.

Facts or fear-mongering

The environmentalist Green party, meanwhile, has warned against "fear-mongering" and "hysterical debates" about rising energy costs. Bärbel Höhn, the deputy parliamentary leader of the Greens, said the debate urgently needed solid facts and figures.

Höhn pointed to a government study in 2010, which forecast price increases of just half a cent per kilowatt hour over ten years during a gradual changeover to renewable energies.

Energy experts from the governing coalition, however, issued their own warning on Saturday, saying a quick withdrawal from nuclear power, starting now, would cost about 16 billion euros ($23 billion) over the next four years alone.

This figure, they said, comes from the costs for subsidizing the construction of alternative energy sources, the massive expansion of Germany's electricity grid which would be required to deliver energy from new locations and lost revenues of several billion euros from the nuclear fuel-rod tax introduced just last year.

In addition, they stressed, it was still absolutely unclear, who is going to foot the bill for such an ambitious project.

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F.  Links of Interest

Q+A: Japan's Nuclear Owner Aims for Shutdown of Reactors
(for personal use only)

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Undaunted by Japan, Jordan Continues Nuclear Drive
Taylor Luck
The Jordan Times
(for personal use only)

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Vladivostok Seaport to Decontaminate Radioactive Japanese Cars
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

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Israel Becomes CERN Nuclear Group Member
(for personal use only)

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