1. West Was Not Interested in a Compromise with Iran: ElBaradei
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Former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said that the West was never interested in a compromise with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“We were in fact on the verge of a solution on several occasions. The Iranians were willing in 2003, but the administration of then U.S. President George W. Bush was not,” former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made the remark during an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel on Tuesday.
ElBaradei stated the West never tried to understand the fact that Iran wanted recognition as an equal partner. ElBaradei called the United States and EU’s reluctance as the main problem in solving Iran’s nuclear issue.
“I adhere strictly to the facts, and part of that is that the Americans and the Europeans withheld important documents and information from us. They weren't interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change -- by any means necessary,” Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize winner stated.
Commenting on the U.S.-EU hypocrisy during the nuclear negotiations, ElBaradei said, “…They engaged in trickery. The West never tried to understand that the most important thing for Iran was getting recognition and being treated as an equal.”
Commenting on the trial of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ElBaradei said, “The military council in Egypt has no other option than to try Mubarak and bring everyone else to justice who is responsible for human rights violations or corruption. If the president had resigned right away, at the beginning of the revolution, as I advised him to, he would have preserved the chance of a dignified departure.”
“It's outrageous. First the military leadership gives him enough time to move his money, and then he's allowed to claim poverty. Giving Mubarak the opportunity to make this statement was a serious mistake. This self-righteous portrayal, this insistence of not having a fortune, these clumsy attempts to clear his name -- this is what fuelled the protests once again.”
Available at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=239101
Iran's Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani says the Islamic Republic has never deviated from the peaceful nuclear path toward military objectives.
“Based on reports released by the [International Atomic Energy] Agency (IAEA) there have been no deviations in Iran's peaceful nuclear program,” Larijani was quoted by Fars news agency as saying on Wednesday.
Larijani made the remarks in a meeting with visiting Deputy Head of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Chen Zhili in Tehran.
Iranian speaker stressed the importance of recent regional developments and said the Islamic republic welcomes China's constructive role in the region and international community.
Zhili arrived in Tehran on Sunday at the invitation of the Iranian Majlis and met with Deputy Speaker of Iran's parliament (Majlis) Seyyed Shahabeddin Sadr on Monday.
The two senior lawmakers called for the promotion of parliamentary cooperation between the Islamic Republic and China.
The Chinese legislator also met with the Iran-China Parliamentary Friendship Group Director Hossein Sobhaninia during her visit.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/175896.html
1. South Korea Calls for Stronger Global Response to North Korea Nuke
Yonhap News Agency
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The international community should step up efforts to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons programs as they pose a serious risk to both global security and nuclear safety, an issue highlighted by the recent nuclear crisis in Japan, a ranking South Korean official said.
Delivering a keynote speech at the Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday (local time), South Korea's Second Vice Foreign Minister Min Dong-seok said North Korea's nuclear facilities, including its recently revealed uranium enrichment program (UEP), could have major political and social consequences for the world.
"In defiance of the international community's repeated calls for denuclearization, North Korea has pursued nuclear weapons programs, announcing withdrawal from the NPT and conducting two nuclear tests," Min said, referring to the multilateral Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.
Denouncing the UEP as a "clear violation" of U.N. resolutions and a 2005 agreement among member nations of the six-party denuclearization talks, the minister called for a "unified and resolute" response that will push North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," according to a transcript of his speech released by South Korea's foreign ministry.
"We are also concerned about the safety of North Korea's nuclear facilities," Min said. "Needless to say, Pyongyang's failure to comply with international standards and practices in constructing nuclear facilities spells high vulnerabilities for the region in the event of a natural disaster."
Japan's nuclear crisis following a March 11 earthquake and tsunami has sparked concern in South Korea that it may fall victim to a possible disaster at North Korea's nuclear plants.
"To learn from the recent accident, the three Northeast Asian countries -- Korea, Japan and China -- will make efforts to strengthen trilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear safety," Min said. "Such efforts will also need to take place on the international level."
Min also called for support for the second round of a Nuclear Security Summit to be hosted by South Korea next year.
The Kyiv summit, hosted in the Ukrainian capital to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, was attended by 65 nations and international organizations, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/04/20/29/0401000000AEN20110420003300315F.HTML
2. South Korea, U.S. Inch Toward North Korea Talks
The Korea Herald
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Facing the increasing need to deal with North Korea’s ongoing nuclear ambitions, South Korea and the U.S. appear to be softening their once firm stance not to resume dialogue until the communist state apologizes for attacking Seoul last year, according to officials and reports Tuesday.
International efforts to achieve North Korea’s denuclearization have been stalled as tensions between the two divided Koreas spiked following last March’s torpedoing of a South Korean warship and the November bombarding of a border island.
While hoping to reopen dialogue with Seoul as well as five partners in the denuclearization talks, Pyongyang continues to deny involvement in the deadly attacks. The six-nation disarmament talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since the end of 2008.
“I didn’t say they had to apologize for the Cheonan incident,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a press briefing in Washington, citing the North’s March torpedoing of the South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors. “What I said is we need to see clear, consistent behavior ... for us to talk about next steps diplomatically.”
Toner’s comments echo those of officials here who say the Seoul government is readying itself to discuss nuclear issues with North Korea even without an apology.
China, host of the six-party talks and North Korea’s traditional ally, suggested nuclear envoys of the two Koreas meet to pave the way for resumption of larger-scale peace talks, a proposal Seoul said it was ready to accept.
The North, which refuses to add nuclear issues to the agenda of inter-Korean dialogue, has so far not made any comment on the issue. Pyongyang claims it does not have to discuss denuclearization with Seoul as its nuclear weapons are not aimed at attacking Seoul, but prepared as deterrence against the U.S.
A senior South Korean official had said earlier that “nuclear envoys of the two sides could meet without North Korea’s apology.”
The longstanding allies, however, persist that North Korea must prove in some way its commitment to mend ties with Seoul and also put into action its pledge to disarm ahead of talks.
“South Korea and the U.S. are together on the fact that North Korea must show an earnest attitude toward denuclearization as well as inter-Korean relations for talks to move forward,” Cho Byung-jae, spokesman of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry told a regular press briefing Tuesday.
North Korea “cannot expect relations with the South to improve without first expressing regret” toward its provocations last year, the spokesman added.
Toner had also urged Pyongyang to focus on resolving issues with Seoul to rejoin the international aid-for-denuclearization talks.
“A successful rapprochement between North and South Korea is an essential first step before we can consider getting involved diplomatically again or even talk about six-party talks,” he said. “We’re not going to have talk for talk’s sake.”
During her talks with Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton reiterated her government’s position that improved ties between the two Koreas come before reopening of any international talks, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said after their meeting over the weekend.
Seoul and Washington are also working closely on taking North Korea’s new uranium enrichment program to the U.N. Security Council, viewing it as a potential threat and a breach of its previous pledge to disarm, officials said.
Meanwhile, Washington reinforced Tuesday its trade restrictions against North Korea to prevent the reclusive state from importing weapons.
Under the U.N. Security Council Resolution, the U.S. has extended the restrictions against Pyongyang since 2009. The restrictions are to expire on June 25 unless otherwise stated by President Barack Obama.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110419000801
1. IAEA Expects Radiation Leak From Fukushima Nuke Plant to Decrease
The Mainichi Daily News
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The International Atomic Energy Agency expects the amount of radiation released by the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan to decrease substantially if the plant operator's work to bring it under control goes as planned, a senior IAEA official said Tuesday.
Denis Flory, IAEA deputy director general and head of the agency's department for nuclear safety and security, said at a press conference, "If things go as foreseen and taking into account all the measures that are foreseen in this road map, the new amount of release will be decreasing and decreasing and the total amount would not be much different from what it is today."
Flory referred to a road map presented by Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Sunday, which aims at bringing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into a stable condition within six to nine months.
"This road map is meant to decrease and eventually stop the release of radioactivity," Flory said.
Flory also said the agency wants to send a first fact-finding mission of international experts to the site before a high-level meeting on nuclear safety takes place in Vienna at the end of June.
Together with those experts, the IAEA will help to assess the situation at the Fukushima plant and suggest "the best way to improve the situation and meet the targets of this road map," he said.
He also said it will be necessary to assess the condition of other nuclear plants, such as the nearby Fukushima Daini plant and the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture, which were also affected by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan on March 11. Nuclear plants in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were automatically shut down after the quake.
"There will be a need to assess if they are in a good condition after the earthquake or if there are measures which need to be taken," he said. "This will be our role, to help assess the situation based on IAEA safety standards."
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110420p2g00m0dm010000c.html
2. Tepco Must End ‘Whack-a-Mole,’ Cover Fukushima Reactors as Typhoons Loom
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. must speed up plans to cover reactors at its crippled nuclear plant and drain tainted water to prevent more radiation leaks as Japan’s cyclone season approaches, engineering professors said.
In 2004, eight cyclones passed over or skirted Japan’s Tohoku region, where the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station is spewing radiation after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The earliest was in May that year, according to Japan’s weather agency data. The eyes of two storms passed within 300 kilometers of Tohoku last year, the data show.
Last month’s disaster wrecked the plant’s cooling systems, triggering the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. The roofs of three buildings were damaged in blasts as water inside reactor cores and spent-fuel ponds boiled away. The utility known as Tepco plans to install temporary covers within nine months, and concrete ceilings over the “medium term.”
“The buildings should be covered at least before the typhoon season is in full swing by late July,” said Tadashi Narabayashi, a professor of nuclear engineering at Hokkaido University. “Tepco’s actions are like a game of Whack-a-Mole because the company keeps reacting after the event.”
Tepco said on April 17 it will start erecting temporary covers for the damaged building within three months provided radiation falls to levels at which workers can begin construction. The work is expected to be completed in the next three to six months, according to the action plan, which lists the “possibility of the cover being damaged by a big typhoon” as a risk.
The Japan Meteorological Agency doesn’t make forecasts for how many tropical storms or typhoons are expected to approach Japan, Hajime Takayama, a weather forecaster at the bureau, said by telephone.
“It’s quite possible for a typhoon to hit the Tohoku region while maintaining its strength, although most tend to make landfall in the south,” Takayama said.
The temporary covers are the only measures planned at the moment to protect against typhoons, Takeo Iwamoto, a Tepco spokesman, said by phone. The company may install them faster than the plan announced on April 17, he said.
The Fukushima plant, 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of Tokyo, has six reactors, three of which were shut for maintenance when the earthquake and tsunami struck, leaving almost 28,000 people dead or missing.
Reactor buildings weakened by explosions may suffer further damage if a typhoon hits them, while strong winds and rain could scatter radioactive materials and water, said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University.
Tepco has been pouring millions of liters of water to cool the reactors and spent fuel after the accident, which has flooded basements and trenches near the buildings that house them. Some highly contaminated water leaked into the sea and the utility has dumped less toxic fluids into the ocean.
“Heavy rain may cause radioactive materials to soak further into the ground and enter the water table," Unesaki said. ‘‘This could affect drinking water.’’
Tepco started pumping contaminated water out of trenches near one of the reactor buildings that were damaged by the blasts, Junichi Matsumoto, a Tepco general manager, said April 19. The company aims to move 10 million liters (2.6 million gallons) of the contaminated water to a storage unit and expects to complete the transfer in 26 days.
‘‘It will be too late to start preparations once a typhoon approaches,’’ said Narabayashi of Hokkaido University. ‘‘It’s a basic risk principle that you proactively take measures against circumstances that are predictable.’’
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-20/tepco-must-end-whack-a-mole-cover-fukushima-reactors-as-typhoons-loom.html
Experts with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency conducted an expert safety evaluation for Ukrainian NPPs and concluded that they meet the modern requirements of the IAEA's nuclear security, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday.
"The existing power units are being upgraded at the Ukrainian nuclear power plants to increase their security. Our country is the world's first to conduct a unique large-scale integrated assessment of the safety of all Ukrainian reactors as part of the joint project Ukraine - EU - IAEA," Mykola Azarov stressed. He recalled that recently, at the initiative of President Viktor Yanukovych, the National Security and Defense Council held a special meeting to identify a number of systematic measures aimed at improving the safety of Ukrainian NPPs, and the implementation of this decision was taken under the Head of State's personal control. In Ukraine, there are 4 nuclear power plants with 15 reactors having installed capacity of 13,888 MW.
Available at: http://www.nrcu.gov.ua/index.php?id=148&listid=143605
The world must prepare for more nuclear accidents on the scale of Chernobyl and Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the U.N. chief warned Wednesday, saying that grim reality will demand sharp improvements in international cooperation,
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others portrayed the growth of nuclear power plants as inevitable in an energy-hungry world as they spoke at a Kiev conference commemorating the explosion of a reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear reactor 25 years ago.
"To many, nuclear energy looks to be a relatively clean and logical choice in an era of increasing resource scarcity. Yet the record requires us to ask painful questions: have we correctly calculated its risks and costs? Are we doing all we can to keep the world's people safe?" Ban said. "The unfortunate truth is that we are likely to see more such disasters."
During a brief visit to the explosion site 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the Ukrainian capital earlier in the day, Ban proposed a strategy for improving nuclear energy security worldwide, including strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency and devoting more attention to "the new nexus between natural disasters and nuclear safety."
The ongoing crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was triggered by last month's huge earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that flooded the plant.
"Climate change means more incidents of freak weather," Ban said in Kiev. "Our vulnerability will only grow."
IAEA head Yukiya Amano, who accompanied Ban on the trip to Chernobyl, echoed those sentiments.
"Many countries will continue to find nuclear power an important option in the future, and that is why we have to do our utmost to ensure safety," he said, speaking a few hundred yards (meters) from the exploded reactor, which is now covered by a hastily erected sarcophagus.
The sarcophagus has gone past its expected service life and work has begun to build an enormous shelter that will be rolled over the reactor building. The new shelter, designed to last 100 years, is expected to be in place by 2015, but a substantial amount of money for the project is still lacking.
An international donors conference Tuesday in Kiev sought to raise euro740 million ($1.1 billion) for the shelter and a storage facility for the spent fuel at the plant's other decommissioned reactors. But in the face of global economic problems, some countries held back from making funding promises and the pledges only came to euro550 million ($798 million).
The Chernobyl explosion on April 26, 1986, spewed a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in the most heavily hit areas. A 30-kilometer (19-mile) area radiating from the plant remains uninhabited except for some plant workers who rotate in and several hundred local people who returned to their homes despite official warnings.
Zsuzsanna Jacab of the U.N.'s World Health Organization told the Kiev conference that some 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer had been diagnosed among people who were children and teens when exposed to the fallout. She said more cases are expected although "the magnitude is difficult to quantify."
Among the 600,000 people most heavily exposed to radiation — which apparently include the estimated 240,000 who worked on the first and most dangerous phase of the plant repair and clean-up — Jacab expects 4,000 more cancer deaths than average to be eventually found.
The U.N. figures have been criticized by the environmental group Greenpeace and others as severely understating Chernobyl's consequences. Even the lower figures represent "an unacceptable price paid by the affected communities," Jacab said.
Ban and others said the Chernobyl and Japan accidents highlighted the need for improved communication between countries about their nuclear programs. And Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, drew a political lesson from the crises.
"The more complex technologies become, the more complex societies become, the more important it is to involve civil societies, to have democratic institutions, a free press," he said.
Soviet authorities kept the Chernobyl disaster unreported for several days, and Japanese authorities have been criticized for initially providing insufficient information.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j2lvtSUh00bV9CZ-ykhAYce5xUsw?docId=7b1b0ae37b2c4019ab2994530e6e0a62
1. Czechs Back More Reactors, Boost CEZ as Germany Shuts Plants
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Some couples dream of a sunset wedding on a beach. Jana Sistikova and Antonin Pazdera exchanged their vows at a nuclear power station’s visitor center near the Czech Republic’s border with Germany.
As the wedding party filed past the four giant concrete cooling towers of the Temelin atomic plant on a cold April day, the newlyweds applauded CEZ AS’s plans to start building two more reactors at the site.
Like most Czechs, the couple agree with the government’s nuclear expansion program, even as Japan battles the worst atomic crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. “We support nuclear plants,” said Sistikova, 25, an elementary school teacher who lives in the nearby village of Chrastany. “This way of generating electricity is safe and has a future.”
An opinion poll taken after Fukushima found that 55 percent of Czechs believe the country should build more reactors. In Germany, by contrast, anti-nuclear sentiment stoked by Japan’s disaster has led Chancellor Angela Merkel to halt the oldest plants and press to speed up a total exit from nuclear energy.
Germany’s nuclear retreat pushed European power prices to a 19-month high this month and has boosted CEZ shares, up 8.7 percent since the accident, over utilities like E.ON AG and RWE AG, both down more than 5 percent. The volume of Czech power exports to Germany has jumped as much as fivefold.
“The transmission capacities on the Czech-German border are very high, hypothetically allowing the Czech Republic to export over 20 terawatt-hours of electricity,” or about 25 percent of its total output, said Jan Tomanik, an analyst at Wood & Co. brokerage in Prague who advises clients to buy CEZ shares. “It allows CEZ to fully benefit from the upward move in the German power prices.”
CEZ shares gained as much as 1.1 percent and were up 0.2 percent to 880 koruna at 12:33 p.m. in Prague.
The Czech Republic currently exports one quarter of its electricity, the biggest percentage in the European Union, which also makes it the EU’s third-biggest exporter in absolute terms, according to the International Energy Agency.
The government “would have to be a bunch of fools” to put a lid on the Temelin project, Prime Minister Petr Necas said in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.
The landlocked country of 10 million with very little seismic activity was a member of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and sees nuclear as a way to lessen dependence on Russian natural gas imports. With limited capacity for generating electricity from renewable resources such as wind, water and solar energy, atomic generation is also a route to cutting emissions.
Sixty-nine percent of Czechs think the nation’s six reactors are safe compared with 14.5 percent who think they aren’t, according to a survey by Sanep polling agency conducted March 19, more than a week after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a partial meltdown at the Fukushima Dai- Ichi plant. Fifty-five percent believe the country should increase atomic capacity, the poll found.
The Czech nuclear plants, built according to a Russian design, are among Europe’s youngest. Dukovany was switched on in 1985. The construction of Temelin was temporarily halted after the 1989 collapse of the country’s communist regime and the two Russian-built reactors were subsequently equipped with Westinghouse Electric Corp.’s operating and safety systems. The plant was connected to the grid in 2000.
“We’re lucky that nuclear energy enjoys huge support in the Czech Republic,” said Martin Roman, chief executive officer of CEZ, central Europe’s biggest utility. “It’s the most ecological source of energy, it has absolutely no CO2 emissions,” he said in an April 11 radio interview.
The flow of electricity to Germany is higher than the level before Merkel ordered the shutdown, and was almost five times that level from March 15 to March 20, according to data from Czech grid operators CEPS.
Over one-third of state-controlled CEZ’s electricity is generated by nuclear reactors, and the percentage may increase if CEZ adds two more reactors to Temelin as planned. France’s Areva SA, Westinghouse and a Russian-Czech group led by ZAO Atomstroyexport are competing for the project, estimated by analysts to be worth as much as $12 billion.
EU Safety Regulations
While the government has pledged it will stick to its 2013 deadline for choosing the winner of the tender, tightening of nuclear safety regulations in the EU could slow things down and add to the cost, Wood & Co.’s Tomanik said.
“The risk of stricter safety requirements being implemented for new reactors could negatively affect the capex and timeframe of the construction of the two new blocks at Temelin,” he said. “There is a risk Germany will try to push ahead with measures against nuclear energy on an EU-wide basis.”
The Czechs also face opposition from neighboring Austria, which feels threatened by the proximity of both Temelin and Dukovany nuclear plants to its northern border. Austrian activists and politicians have expressed worries about safety at the two plants.
Back in Temelin, no such fears plagued the newlyweds. The couple, who are due to have a baby girl in August, took their vows in the mansion that serves as the plant’s information center, where visitors can watch a movie on how nuclear power works and look at models of reactors. CEZ has held two weddings in Temelin so far this year and has bookings for six more.
“We were intrigued as soon as we saw the pictures,” Sistikova said after the ceremony. “Then we came to visit Temelin and decided it was perfect.”
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-04-20/czechs-back-more-reactors-boost-cez-as-germany-shuts-plants.html
2. Federal Government All Aglow Over UAE Uranium Deal
The Sydney Morning Herald
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The federal government hopes to finalise a uranium sales deal with the United Arab Emirates by mid-2012, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson says.
Australia is the world's third largest uranium exporter and has three mines in operation, but does not use nuclear power.
Australia's existing uranium customers include the United Kingdom, United States and China.
Advertisement: Story continues below "I was in Sydney last week to continue discussions with United Arab Emirates ... to conclude negotiations as soon as possible with respect to our opportunity to actively sell uranium to the UAE," Mr Ferguson said at a business function in Perth on Wednesday.
The UAE would need to enter into a bilateral agreement with Australia, Mr Ferguson said.
"We'll pursue those discussions over the next 12 to 15 months or so."
The talks showed the government's stance on the uranium sector had not been affected by Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis, he said.
"Events in Japan have not altered the Australian government's position with respect to our uranium mining, export and nuclear power policies."
Mr Ferguson said he was working with the uranium sector to set up a national register for radiation dose levels among the industry's workers.
"It's something we promised in the lead-up to the 2007 election.
"It's been an issue I must say I first raised through my union in the 1970s when I was involved in recruiting uranium workers as members, so for me it's been a long standing interest.
"In my opinion, previous governments should have put a dose register in place and we will complete that task this year."
Available at: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/fed-govt-all-aglow-over-uae-uranium-deal-20110420-1dom5.html
Opposition to nuclear power is growing in France, the world's second-largest nuclear energy market behind the United States.
Environmental activists have staged demonstrations and launched hunger strikes to call for the closure of the Unit 1 reactor at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, one of France's oldest.
Built in 1977, the reactor is in eastern France about 1 mile from the German border, in an area that experiences frequent earthquakes.
Amid the unfolding nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in Japan, two Swiss cantons nearby called on the French government to close Fessenheim until its safety is guaranteed.
The reactor, just as the other 57 in the country, is run by Electricite de France. The company's Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio told French newspaper Le Figaro this week that Fessenheim and the other reactors are in an "excellent condition."
Fessenheim, he added, has been regularly modernized since it came online in 1978.
In the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear crisis, French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered stress tests for all French reactors. He didn't call for abandoning nuclear power, and such a move would be hard to realize: The 58 French reactors produce around 80 percent of the domestic power demand and make France an electricity exporter.
In neighboring Germany, home to 17 reactors that produce around one-fifth of the country's electricity demand, politicians took more drastic steps.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered comprehensive stress tests for all 17 German reactors and decided to shut down the seven oldest, most of them built during the 1970s, for at least three months. If their safety can't be guaranteed, they might be taken off the grid for good.
Merkel, who in the fall of 2010 decided to prolong the use of nuclear power in Germany, said last week her government would look for ways to drop the energy source "as soon as possible."
Sarkozy has vowed that he would close down any reactors that fail the stress tests.
However, he hasn't questioned recommendations made by the country's nuclear watchdog ASN to extend the running times of several older plants by another decade.
ASN has since said it would re-evaluate those recommendations after the stress tests. Eleven reactors will reach 40 years of operation within the next decade.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2011/04/20/In-France-opposition-to-nuclear-growing/UPI-18891303325110/
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