1. EU Tightens Sanctions On Iran Over Nuke Program
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The European Union on Monday expanded sanctions against Iran over worries about its nuclear program.
The EU foreign ministers decided to impose an asset freeze and travel bans on several additional Iranian officials and more than 100 companies with links to the nuclear program. Precise figures were not immediately available.
"It is very important that the European Union is taking this stand," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"It is important not to forget while so many things are happening and changing in the Middle East, that Iran continues with its nuclear program," Hague said during an intermission in the foreign affairs meeting.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton deplored the lack of progress regarding talks with Iran and dismissed the latest contact with Tehran which, she said, "unfortunately just reiterated the old Iranian positions."
"We want them to move forward with the nuclear talks," she said.
Last month, the EU ministers also imposed similar travel and asset sanctions on 32 Iranian officials for human rights abuses.
"It's very important that we keep the pressure on for the people and try to stop them going ahead with executions, with the approach they take to their people," Ashton said.
Iran has been under scrutiny for nearly a decade after revelations that it was running a secret uranium enrichment program. It has already been hit with four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt the activity.
Last week, the United States and the EU demanded that Iran return to the international talks over its nuclear program and prove to the world that its atomic intentions are peaceful.
The two have been unsuccessful in persuading Iran to openly discuss its atomic program, which the U.S. and its allies believe is a cover for nuclear weapons development. The last round of talks in January ended in failure.
The White House said it welcomed Monday's EU's decision.
"So long as Iran refuses to fulfill its international obligations, the international community will respond by continuing to hold Iran accountable, implement fully all U.N. Security Council resolutions and aggressively counter Iranian proliferation activities," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement released while President Barack Obama was traveling in Ireland.
"The United States remains fully committed to the peaceful resolution of international concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program," Carney said.
Iran says it is pursing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hEB9ile3syCbZ8YB0rhD41NaHQtg?docId=00cf39606f8b4165bc29898e06eb156e
2. Iran Invites China To Visit Disputed Nuclear Sites
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Iran invited China on Monday to send experts to see its nuclear facilities, the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in Beijing, in a fresh effort to persuade the world that its atomic activities should not attract sanctions.
Speaking in English, Salehi also told an audience of researchers and diplomats that China could trust Iran as a stable supplier of oil to fuel its rapidly growing economy.
The Iranian foreign minister's visit comes as Western governments continue to press his country over its disputed nuclear ambitions, highlighting China's importance as an economic and diplomatic buffer for Tehran.
"We said we are ready to receive experts from China, nuclear experts, to come and visit our nuclear installations in Iran," Salehi said, describing his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
"Rarely any country in the world opens up its nuclear facilities and institutes to the outside world, but since we are certain of the peacefulness of our nuclear activity, we have extended this invitation to a friendly country like China," said Salehi, who previously ran Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation.
Salehi appeared to renew something like the offer that Iran made in January to open its nuclear sites to envoys from Russia, China, the European Union and other governments.
None of the four Western powers seeking to resolve the long-running Iran nuclear dispute -- the United States, Britain, Germany and France -- received invitations that time.
But Salehi said all members of the "P5 plus 1" negotiating group -- China, Russia, the United States, France, Britain and Germany -- could take up this latest offer.
"We extend the same invitation to the five plus one, if they want to come and see," he said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on Salehi's offer. Foreign Minister Yang told Salehi that China wanted to "constantly advance bilateral relations", the official Xinhua news agency reported.
But in January, China did not take up Tehran's offer, and it would be unlikely to break ranks with the other big powers this time.
BIG OIL PURCHASER
China is nonetheless a big purchaser of oil from Iran, which has been shunned by Western powers who say Tehran is seeking to develop the means to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, and China has repeatedly urged the Western powers to be more flexible in negotiations.
Salehi stressed Iran's importance as an oil supplier in his comments at the China Institute of International Studies, a government-run think tank.
"It's probably one of the few -- I'm not saying the only -- reliable sources of energy that China can depend on, so looking from this perspective, China and Iran they need each other," he said, adding that his government did not come "under the influence" of other world powers.
The United States has lobbied China to turn more to Saudi Arabia and other more pro-Western states for its oil imports.
The United Nations Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment programme.
China has back those U.N. sanctions, but used its veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council to resist demands for more expansive penalties that would cover oil and other major economic ties with Iran.
Trade between Iran and China grew to $29.4 billion in 2010, a rise of 38.5 percent on the previous year, reflecting the oil trade and growing Chinese exports to Iran.
Salehi said that trade could grow to $50 billion "in the next few years".
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/23/iran-china-idUSL3E7GN0AG20110523
President Barack Obama vowed Sunday to "keep up pressure" on Tehran to prevent the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons, as he condemned its support for extremists in the region.
Outlining US and UN sanctions imposed on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime, Obama said Iran is now "virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system."
"We're going to keep up the pressure... So let me be absolutely clear -- we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," he added to roaring applause from the audience at the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC Policy Conference.
The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany have engaged in on-again, off-again talks with Iran aimed at halting its uranium enrichment program, which Washington fears masks a drive to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charges and claims its program is peaceful.
Obama also pointed to Iranian "hypocrisy" in "claiming to support the rights of protesters while treating its own people with brutality."
He said Iran was funding, arming and otherwise supporting violent extremists.
"So we will continue to work to prevent these actions, and we will stand up to groups like Hezbollah, who exercise political assassination and seek to impose their will through rockets and car bombs," said Obama.
Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite militant group in Lebanon, is blacklisted as a terrorist group by the United States.
The UN Security Council has adopted four sets of sanctions against Iran, the most recent in June last year, over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process that lies at the heart of Western concerns.
A panel of experts that monitors the sanctions said Iran was circumventing them but that its nuclear work had been impaired.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iKOS_B9mSprx6EMSyMpOQKZhlYEg?docId=CNG.2961e630fcbff1b543b086131b6b10f5.e41
A team of specialists from the UN atomic watchdog arrived in Japan on Monday to join other international experts investigating Japan's nuclear crisis.
A sixong delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flew to Tokyo's Narita airport from Vienna in preparation for a fact-finding mission from May 24 to June 2.
In all, a 20-member mission will compile a report on the emergency to be presented to IAEA member states next month at a ministerial-level conference in Vienna.
Tokyo has said the IAEA team is likely to visit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 and has leaked high levels of radiation into the environment.
But Jim Lyons, director of the IAEA's division of nuclear installation safety, said the itinerary was not finalised.
"We are going to be mostly in Tokyo but I think we're going to try to visit the site," Lyons told reporters ahead of their departure from Vienna. "That's the plan."
Asked which other sites the experts would visit, he replied: "I don't know. There are a lot of negotiations going on to determine where we can go."
The IAEA announced last week the mission, headed by Mike Weightman, chief inspector of nuclear installations in Britain, would comprise 20 experts from 12 different countries.
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), which runs the power plant, forecast later in the day that the planned construction of a system to treat radioactive water from the reactors was unlikely to be completed until mid-June.
TEPCO has asked French nuclear group Areva to set up the system, which is designed to remove radioactive particles from the water and is a key step to repairing cooling systems and preventing further leakage of radioactive water.
Contaminated water has spilled into the Pacific while engineers have been battling to bring the plant into stable "cold shutdown", which is expected to happen some time between October and January.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5igCZLhHdIPB3zX3xf4DJYJ-FB9Pw?docId=CNG.3d900581fffa7766f0c0b69709f235d0.681
The leaders of China and South Korea agreed Sunday to bolster efforts to aid Japan's disaster recovery as they met with the Japanese prime minister to smooth over differences on Tokyo's handling of its post-tsunami nuclear crisis.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan hosted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Sunday's summit. Japan hoped the meeting would present a unified front after Beijing and Seoul criticized its response to the nuclear crisis, and that it would lead to an easing of restrictions on the export of Japanese produce.
On Saturday, the three leaders met in Fukushima to demonstrate their joint desire for Japan's recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The disasters left more than 24,000 people dead or missing and sparked an ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Kan led a moment of silence for the victims, then thanked China and South Korea for their assistance.
"We are deeply grateful for the great help and assistance provided by China and South Korea," he said.
Japan has been particularly concerned that excessive fears over the contamination of Japanese produce have led to unnecessary trade restrictions. China and South Korea had both expressed fears over Japanese imports, and criticized Japan for allowing the release of water with high radiation levels into the ocean.
In a statement after Sunday's meeting, the leaders agreed that safety measures should be based on informed policy and overreaction should be avoided. Wen suggested he was willing to consider easing restrictions if proper safety was ensured.
Wen and Lee also agreed to bolster efforts to help Japan with its overall recovery.
The leaders also discussed security, with the Korean peninsula as the main topic.
Though closely intertwined economically, Japan, China and South Korea have a number of issues that have kept them at odds over the years. China is North Korea's most important ally, though it is seen as a threat by both Seoul and Tokyo.
Territorial disputes also have soured relations between Japan and its neighbors.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gkdemiNrfLrvd7KN8IkXw50o2AKw?docId=dbd4810a29c24b22814482a6e0856429
3. Giant Barge Arrives At Fukushima Plant To Store Radioactive Water
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A giant water-storage barge has arrived at Japan's quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to store highly radioactive waste water from the basement of a reactor building, Kyodo news reported on Saturday.
The plant was heavily damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will use the 136-meter-long, 46-meter-wide Megafloat as a storage site for contaminated waste water leaked from reactor buildings.
Reactor 1 suffered a near complete core meltdown in the March disaster, allowing 3,000 tons of water to leak into its basement.
Fuel rods at reactors 2 and 3 may also have largely melted.
TEPCO engineers have been pouring water into the reactors water to cool them in a bid to gain access to reactor buildings to restore the damaged cooling systems.
They have now scrapped the plan and are trying to create a cooling system by circulating the water which is already in the reactors.
The president of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, resigned on Friday after the company reported a record loss of $15.3 billion for the past financial year.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from a 20-kilometer no-go area around the plant, and TEPCO has been charged with paying compensation to families and businesses displaced by the country's worst nuclear crisis.
Available at: http://en.rian.ru/world/20110521/164150379.html
The United Nations on Friday launched a study of the health, safety and security impact of the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations would undertake "a U.N. system-wide study on the implications of the Fukushima accident" and present the findings at a high-level meeting on the implications of the crisis to be held during the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.
The report "will address a variety of areas, including environment, health, food security, sustainable development and the nexus between nuclear safety and nuclear security," Ban said in a statement.
"It will also present system-wide views on how to improve disaster risk preparedness," he said. "In producing this study, it is my intention to highlight the need to strengthen the capacity of the relevant international organizations, particularly the IAEA, recognizing its central role."
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukio Amano, said on Thursday that the Japanese nuclear crisis remained very serious though there were some signs of progress.
The IAEA, the World Health Organization and the World Food Program are among the U.N. agencies that will be carrying out the study.
The earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan in March triggered the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, raising questions about the future of nuclear energy and fueling public fears about the risks of atomic power plants.
"The effects of a nuclear plant disaster -- from prevention to clean-up -- should be more fully reflected in the assessment of how to ensure the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maximum safety," Ban said in the statement.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/20/us-japan-nuclear-un-idUSTRE74J74M20110520
At least 250 tons of radioactive water spilled into the Pacific Ocean from Japan's earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, officials said.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the radiated water leaked for 41 hours beginning May 10 from the No. 3 reactor at the site, where four of six reactors were damaged in the magnitude-9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, Kyodo News reported.
At a Sunday news conference in Tokyo, utility spokesman Junichi Matsumoto told reporters Tepco has drafted plans to install a water-circulation system to cool the spent-fuel pools at the plant by the end of July, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Since the disaster, officials have scrambled to prevent the radioactive cores from overheating and releasing catastrophic radiation clouds. As of Sunday, part of the stop-gap measures still involved the use of fire hoses to pump water into the reactors, the Journal said.
Matsumoto acknowledged radioactive vapor can still be seen "depending on the weather and wind direction of the day," the Journal said.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/05/22/Japan-reports-more-radiation-leakage/UPI-28701306071295/
About 20,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear demonstration in north Switzerland on Sunday ahead of a government decision on the future of atomic energy in the country.
"At least 20,000" protesters joined the march near the town of Doettingen and the Beznau nuclear power plant, Switzerland's oldest, police and organisers said.
"It's the biggest demonstration in Switzerland against nuclear power since the Fukushima accident (in Japan)," spokeswoman for "Sortons du nuclaire" Maude Poirier told AFP. "These thousands of people who have come are sending a strong signal to the Swiss authorities.
"This shows that we are not a minority, that it's not only the Greens" calling for an end to nuclear power, she said.
The group said protesters had also come from Germany, Austria and France.
During the march, demonstrators held banners with slogans like: "No thanks to nuclear."
The Swiss government is set to decide Wednesday whether to mothball the country's five nuclear power plants.
After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago, Switzerland was the first country on March 14 to suspend plans to replace its ageing nuclear power plants.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gRRCclhXV0o_0ddzq9vvwz6JnxTg?docId=CNG.339c58d0f9a578a97e1f92a28710b422.121
Britain's nuclear plants are not at risk of the kind of natural disaster that caused Japan's nuclear crisis in March and they can continue to operate as normal, the chief inspector has said.
An enquiry was launched into the British nuclear industry after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that caused severe damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Mike Weightman, executive head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said: "The extreme natural events that preceded the accident at Fukushima -- the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent huge tsunami -- are not credible in the UK.
"We are 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) from the nearest fault line and we have safeguards in place that protect against even very remote hazards.
"Our operating and proposed future reactor designs and technology are different to the type at the Fukushima plant."
The inspector also said the risk of flooding was unlikely to prevent construction of new nuclear power stations at potential development sites in Britain, all of which are on the coast.
The British government is planning a new series of nuclear reactors on existing sites to maintain electricity supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions as an old generation of power stations are phased out.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said the report published on Wednesday provided the "basis to continue to remove the barriers to nuclear new build in the UK.
"We want to see new nuclear as part of a low carbon energy mix going forward, provided there is no public subsidy. The chief nuclear inspector's interim report reassures me that it can," he said.
Although the report said the nuclear plants could continue to operate, it made 26 recommendations for areas to be reviewed by the government, industry and regulators, to see if there are any measures which could improve safety.
The interim report released on Wednesday will be followed by a full report due in September.
Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110519/wl_uk_afp/britainenergyaccidentnuclearjapan_20110519072839
4. EU To Decide On Nuclear Stress Tests By June, Oettinger Says
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The European Union will probably agree on parameters for stress tests on nuclear power plants by next month, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.
The bloc is likely to reach an accord on the remaining “two or three” points in the next few days, and the tests may begin as soon as June 1, the commissioner said today at a press conference following a nuclear energy meeting in Prague.
The EU wants to reassess safety risks after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Oettinger wants the tests to include man-made threats such as terrorist attacks, going beyond the recommendation by the Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association, which has said the checks should focus on resistance to earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.
The Czech Republic is already testing its nuclear and other energy facilities for a potential terrorist attack, Prime Minister Petr Necas said at the press conference. Individual members of the European Union should remain in control of their respective energy policies, he said.
The Czech Republic, which plans to add two nuclear reactors at its Temelin power plant, is hosting a two-day nuclear energy forum in Prague. Czech Industry Minister Martin Kocourek and his French counterpart, Eric Besson, signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation yesterday in Prague.
France’s Areva SA is one of the three bidders for construction of the Temelin reactors. The other bidders are Westinghouse Electric Corp. and a Russian-Czech group led by ZAO Atomstroyexport. Temelin’s owner, state-controlled CEZ AS, is scheduled to pick a winner in 2013.
“Even though each candidate offers a different solution, all three offer very high quality and are equal,” Kocourek said last night after the signing of the agreement.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-19/eu-to-decide-on-nuclearess-tests-by-june-oettinger-says.html
1. US And Britain Set Up Joint Security Body: Reports
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A new joint security body set up by Britain and the United States is to be unveiled at the start of President Barack Obama's two-day visit to London later this week, Britain's newspapers reported Monday.
The "National Security Strategy Board" will be chaired by British National Security adviser Peter Ricketts and his US counterpart, Tom Donilon, and is being established to help coordinate long-term foreign policy agendas.
Details of the initiative are due to be announced on Tuesday, as Obama arrives in Britain to begin a two-day official state visit.
"The new board will allow us to look ahead and develop a shared view of emerging challenges, how we should deal with them and how our current policy can adapt to longer-term developments," an adviser to British leader David Cameron told The Times.
"It reflects a welcome further development of our close relationship on foreign and defence business," he added.
The board, which is expected to meet several times a year, will address the response to the ongoing "Arab Spring" uprisings as part of a broader brief to examine rogue states and the threat from international terrorism.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague maintained Sunday that the "special relationship" between the two countries remained strong despite suggestions in Britain that Obama was not as UK-friendly as some of his predecessors.
"It is very special. I think the longer a US administration is in power the more they appreciate that," he said.
"You can see that in government," he added. "The co-operation that I see every day in intelligence matters is without parallel in the world.
"So is our nuclear co-operation. Our armed forces are working together with intimate closeness."
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1. Bulgaria's Energy Minister Speaks On Nuclear Safety Standards
The Sofia Echo
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Stress tests of Europe's nuclear power plants should be neutral to technology and need to ensure the levels of safety for all existing and new nuke plants within the European Union and neighbouring countries, Bulgaria's Energy Minister Traicho Traikov said during the 6th European Nuclear Energy Forum in Prague.
"Complying with the highest safety standards for nuclear power has a key role in the development of the sector after the accident at Fukushima. At the same time, the requirements should not be impossible to fulfill, as they could block the technological and commercial development of nuclear energy," he said.
According to the Minister, Brussels needs to introduce uniform standards and rules for nuclear facilities construction in the bloc.
Meanwhile, Traikov considers that Bulgaria has one of the most advanced projects for new nuclear capacities.
"We have already invested significant resources and therefore we are highly committed to find a balance between safety, full potential for technological improvement and at the same time not be too restrictive to the project," the Minister said.
Bulgaria launched a safety check at its nuclear power plant in Kozloduy on March 22 2011, which is not part of the stress tests to be conducted by the EU. After Brussels decides on the criteria for the Europe-wide checks, the facility will start a new stress test in June, Bulgaria's Nuclear Regulatory Agency head Sergei Tsochev said.
Available at: http://www.sofiaecho.com/2011/05/23/1093861_bulgarias-energy-minister-speaks-on-nuclear-safety-standards
2. Power Plants Vulnerable To Hackers: Security Firm
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US computer security research firm NSS Labs warned that it uncovered new ways that hackers could sabotage power plants, oil refineries or manufacturing operations.
"This is a global problem," NSS chief executive Rick Moy told AFP.
"There are no fixes to this right now," he continued. "Bad guys would be able to cause real environmental and physical problems and possibly loss of life."
NSS said that it shared its findings with the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team and was briefing legitimate industrial facilities that are at risk but was revealing little publicly for the sake of safety.
NSS researcher Dillon Beresford reported finding "multiple vulnerabilities" in Siemens programmable logic controllers (PLCs) used in plants worldwide to automatically regulate temperatures, pressures, turbine speeds, robot arms and more.
Those are the same devices targeted by a Stuxnet virus evidently crafted to disable an Iranian nuclear facility.
While the Stuxnet virus struck at PLCs through a plant's operating system software, Beresford discovered ways to reprogram the devices directly if they can be reached on a network, according to Moy.
"The security of these systems is not what it should be," Moy said.
"Comments were made that it took a nation state millions of dollars and teams of people to create Stuxnet," he continued. "We don't believe that to be true; it was not that hard to create these problems."
Beresford came up with the attacks in less than three months with a budget of $2,000 to $3,000 dollars, according to NSS.
NSS has shared its findings with the US Department of Homeland Security and Germany-based Siemens, which downplayed concerns that an attack could be pulled off outside the lab and said it was working to address the vulnerabilities.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ifXFW5AOE_-cN_vNEHYbfAL-iyow?docId=CNG.477403fb22cbf6f9627f77ef6427bad2.341
1. Russia To Push Restraint In Arab world, Nuclear Safety At G8
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will talk up the benefits of restraint in the Arab world and push for new rules on nuclear safety when he attends a key world summit in France this month.
On May 26 and 27 the Kremlin chief and his counterparts from the Group of Eight (G8) wealthy nations will meet for an annual summit at the seaside town of Deauville in Normandy.
The high-profile get-together follows the Arab Spring tumult that earlier this year ousted autocrats and reshaped nations in the Middle East and North Africa, and the G8 leaders will put their heads together to come up with a common strategy for the region.
“The centre of gravity (of talks) will lie in attempts to define what is happening there -revolutions, modernisation or the collapse of political regimes – and in deciding where the G8 can be useful,” said Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director of the USA-Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Reaching common ground will not be easy, however, as Moscow and the West have advocated different approaches to the Arab unrest, analysts say.
The West, the United States in particular, has encouraged the youthful masses seeking to win their freedom from tyrants and is currently involved in a military campaign against the regime of Moamer Kadhafi in Libya.
Moscow is likely to be a discordant voice at the summit as it urges against interference in what it considers to be the domestic affairs of sovereign nations.
“The discussion will be very difficult, based on the previous record,” Kremenyuk told AFP.
In March, Medvedev risked worsening his relationship with Vladimir Putin, his prime minister and mentor, by ordering Russia to abstain from the UN Security Council resolution on Libya that essentially authorised military action.
After the West launched a military operation in the North African country Medvedev accused it of exceeding the UN mandate and abusing Russia’s goodwill.
Russia said it would never support any possible UN resolutions to intervene with force in Moscow’s traditional ally Syria and would scrutinise any such attempts through “a huge magnifying glass.” You have to give states an opportunity to choose their own path of development and to give the Syrian leadership an opportunity to settle the domestic problems that exist there,” Medvedev said.
By comparison, US President Barack Obama has unveiled a multi-billion-dollar economic plan to reward democratic change in the region.
Washington also asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at the summit for “what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt.” The summit will also give Russia’s 45-year-old president a chance to speak assertively on other issues of global significance amid uncertainty at home about who will run for president in 2012 elections.
Analysts say Medvedev is keen to seek re-election but is expecting a nod from the 58-year-old Putin who shows no readiness to retire.
“Medvedev plans to urge his G8 counterparts to adopt a new convention on nuclear safety taking into account the lessons of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster,” said a person familiar with the summit’s agenda.
Marking 25 years since the world’s worst nuclear disaster with a visit to Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant last month, Medvedev said Russia had drawn up proposals for a convention aimed at ensuring the proper development of nuclear energy.
Vladimir Orlov, president of the Russian Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank that works with US experts on nuclear nonproliferation, expressed doubts the G8 was ready to discuss the new nuclear rules in earnest.
“But no one was ready for Fukushima, either,” he told AFP. “There is a vacuum around nuclear safety. Answers are needed.” On the summit’s sidelines, Medvedev plans to hold a separate meeting with Obama where he is likely to push for progress on missile defence.
The Kremlin chief is also likely to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan for separate talks.
Available at: http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/22/russia-to-push-restraint-in-arab-world-nuclear-safety-at-g8.html
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