3. G-8 Leaders Call For Stronger Nuclear Regulation, Fiscal Caution
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Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations called for a larger role for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in ensuring nuclear safety in the aftermath of the crisis at Japan's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
A final communique issued on May 27 at the conclusion of the G-8 summit in Deauville, France, pledged solidarity with Japan as it rebuilds following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11. The statement paid respect to those who died in the disaster and the courage of those who survived.
But the leaders also warned that a Japanese economy weakened by the disaster was a risk factor for the global economy and called on Japan to show fiscal responsibility in its efforts to fund its rebuilding process.
A bill to the government from reconstruction that could eventually reach 10 trillion yen ($122 billion) is seen as a major risk for the financial markets.
During the G-8 summit, Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged that Japan would not withhold information about the Fukushima accident from the international community.
"It is the responsibility of Japan to share with the international community our experience following the Fukushima accident," he said. "We will provide the international community with all information related to the accident with the maximum possible transparency."
He suggested five measures to improve nuclear plant safety, including stronger IAEA guidelines and increasing the coverage of treaties related to nuclear safety.
The G-8 leaders' declaration included several of Kan's proposals, calling for more international conferences on nuclear safety and for emerging economies to sign up to international agreements.
Discussions on strengthening regulations are expected at a ministerial-level meeting of the IAEA to be held in Vienna from June 20.
The evaluation of the safety of existing nuclear plants as well as the standards of construction for new nuclear plants built in emerging economies are expected to be on the agenda.
But putting together international guidelines that would attract support beyond the richest nations may require compromise. Emerging economies are likely to argue that they cannot afford the newer, more expensive nuclear equipment that very strict regulation might require. Countries in areas where there are frequent earthquakes may also oppose tighter regulation in that area.
Meanwhile, Ben Rhodes, the U.S. deputy national adviser for strategic communications, told a May 26 news conference in Deauville held by White House officials that confusion in the supply chain in the wake of the quake and tsunami was an extremely important issue for the global economy.
The failure of parts deliveries from Japan forced auto factories in the United States to temporarily suspend production. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said those stoppages had demonstrated just how closely the two economies were interconnected.
At the May 26 G-8 session, Kan sought to allay concerns, explaining the efforts being made to get industrial production back on its feet.
He said, "We view the rebuilding process after the disasters as an important opportunity to resuscitate Japan, and we will make every effort in that area."
The G-8 declaration also pointed to the risks to the global economy from rising petroleum and food prices.
Monetary easing policies pursued by various governments after the financial crisis of 2008 helped to fuel increases and the effects of the large fiscal expenditures following that crisis are still being played out. The worsening of Japan's fiscal condition after the March 11 disaster is seen as a further risk factor.
A high-ranking official of an international organization said, "What experts are concerned about is the risk to the global economy from the advanced economies."
Available at: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105280186.html
Iran has announced it will host another two-day conference in the capital, Tehran, to unite efforts for the nuclear disarmament across the globe.
The second international conference on nuclear disarmament entitled "Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None" will run from June 12 and 13, 2011 in Tehran. The event is expected to be attended by some 50 researchers on nuclear arms control and non-proliferation, Mehr News Agency reported on Monday.
Tehran hosted the first international “Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None” conference on April 17 and 18, 2010.
Iran was among the original countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and was also the first nation to propose the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
The treaty, which came into force in 1970, is one of the international community's main set of rules regarding nuclear disarmament and the prevention of proliferation.
There are 190 signatories to the treaty. However, Israel, along with India, Pakistan and North Korea, has refused to endorse it.
Since 1958, when Israel began building its Dimona plutonium and uranium processing facility, it has secretly manufactured scores of nuclear warheads, earning reputation as the sole owner of such weapons in the Middle East.
According to Jane's Defense Weekly, Israel has between 100 and 300 nuclear warheads; most of them are probably being kept in unassembled mode but can become fully functional "in a matter of days.”
Available at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/182469.html
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov says imposing new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program is inefficient.
"This method completely exhausted itself," RIA Novosti quoted Ryabkov as saying on Friday.
"We are not ready to accept the logic."
On June 9, 2010 the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing a fourth round of sanctions on Iran under intense pressure by the United States and its allies, which claim Iran's nuclear program may have potential military aspects.
Shortly after the UN sanctions, the US imposed fresh unilateral sanctions against Iran's financial and energy sectors, encouraging other countries to abandon investment in the Iranian market.
The US then pressured Japan, Canada, and Australia to impose similar unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic, targeting investment in energy-related industries.
Iran says that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to use the peaceful applications of nuclear energy for electricity generation and medical research.
All reports the IAEA has so far issued on Tehran's nuclear activities verify that there has been no diversion in the country's civilian nuclear program.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/182154.html
1. Fukushima Nuclear Reactors Not To Be Affected By Typhoon Songda
Xinhua News Agency
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Typhoon Songda continued to move along the east coast of Japan on Sunday, causing travel disruption and hazardous conditions for commuters.Songda is Japan's second typhoon this year.
Strong winds and heavy rain thrashed Tokyo, causing flight disruptions at Haneda Airport. Warnings of landslides and flooding were issued in Kagoshima Prefecture early on Sunday, with some road closures. The typhoon is expected to move along the east coast through to Monday where it will weaken to a tropical storm. The troubled Fukushima nuclear reactors were not expected to be affected by the storm.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/video/2011-05/30/c_13900904.htm
2. IAEA Expert Team Inspects Crisis-Hit Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
Mainichi Daily News
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A group of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency on a fact-finding mission into Japan's worst nuclear accident inspected on Friday the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant in northeastern Japan.
An official of the plant operator said that the IAEA team checked how the tsunami that followed the March 11 massive earthquake damaged the plant, and looked from outside the buildings of the troubled Nos. 1 to 4 units, which lost their key functions to keep the nuclear fuels inside cool in the wake of the disaster.
Because of the quake and tsunami, believed to have been more than 14 meters high, the plant did not only lose its external power supply but also saw its emergency diesel generators for the Nos. 1 to 6 reactors flooded with water except for one.
The official at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that the IAEA team examined the surviving diesel generator, which helped the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors to achieve a stable state of "cold shutdown."
The IAEA team, led by Mike Weightman, the head of Britain's Nuclear Regulation Office, are scheduled to deliver their findings at a ministerial meeting on nuclear safety to be hosted by the IAEA from June 20 to 24 in Vienna.
A summary of the team's draft report is expected to be handed to the Japanese government on Wednesday, a day before the team members leave Japan.
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110528p2g00m0dm003000c.html
3. EU, Japan Join Forces To Improve Nuclear Safety
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Europe and Japan agreed Saturday to join forces in efforts to promote tighter international standards for nuclear safety in the wake of the atomic crisis in Japan.
"Going into the future, nuclear safety is a matter of great importance for Japan and the European Union, for the entire world, and for the Earth," Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said after an EU-Japan summit in Brussels.
At the same time, Kan urged the 27-nation EU to ease restrictions on Japanese food imports that were imposed over concerns of potential radioactive contamination following the Fukushima power plant accident.
"I have asked for relaxation measures based on scientific evidence," he told a news conference held alongside EU president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
"I have also received a response to that, that the EU also believes any measures should be based on scientific evidence," he said
Last month, EU authorities tightened the acceptable level of radiation in Japanese food imports after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, which was sparked by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March that killed 25,000 people.
The EU and Japan also agreed Saturday to cooperate in monitoring the impact of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, as well as implementing "comprehensive risk and safety assessments" at plants and encouraging other nations to do the same.
"Radiation does not stop at borders and neither should our collective responsibility. So when we talk nuclear, we talk global," Barroso said.
The Japanese nuclear crisis has prompted the EU to organise "stress tests" on the bloc's 143 nuclear reactors in order to evaluate their ability to survive earthquakes, floods and man-made crises such as plane crashes.
"We want these stress tests to go beyond Europe," Barroso said.
Nuclear safety was already high on the agenda of a G8 summit that Kan attended in Deauville, France, this week, where the leaders of the world's top economies called for stronger nuclear safety rules.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iLnqEAYBcsPhjyIGF_qoDUJykEQQ?docId=CNG.9c6144850b3e50088708ddc224d8815f.631
It may not be possible to meet a year-end deadline to contain the crisis at Japan's quake-hit nuclear power plant, officials of the plant's operator said.
An official of Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday other officials at the utility believe "there will be a major delay to work" to stabilize the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant because of core meltdowns at the plant's No.1, 2 and 3 reactors, Kyodo News reported.
The official said the meltdowns may have breached the fuel's pressure vessels, the report said.
The latest development likely will change the road map Tepco announced April 17 to bring the troubled reactors to what is called "cold shutdown" stabilization in six to nine months.
It may also force changes in any government effort to allow the return to homes of those evacuated from near the plant after it was struck by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that set off one of the world's worst nuclear crises.
On Sunday, the utility also reported the pump used to inject seawater into the No. 5 reactor and fuel pool had stopped for about 15 hours Saturday night due to motor problems before backup pumps could take over. The No. 5 reactor along with No. 6 reactor had been shut down for routine checkups when the March 11 struck and hence have remained stable thus far.
Kyodo reported if the situation at the No. 5 reactor had not been taken care of, the water holding its nuclear fuel could have evaporated, exposing the fuel.
A typhoon was headed toward Japan Monday, but it was not yet known if the Fukushima plant would be in its path, the BBC reported.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/05/29/Fukushima-stabilization-deadline-in-doubt/UPI-85601306726698/
1. North Korea Renews Threat To Launch 'Physical Action' Against South Korea
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea threatened Monday that it will no longer engage with South Korea and will retaliate against Seoul for anti-Pyongyang "psychological warfare."
"The army and people of the (North) will never deal with traitor Lee Myung-bak and his clan," the North's powerful National Defense Commission said in a statement, referring to the South Korean president by name.
The commission headed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il also renewed a warning that the North "will take physical action without any notice any time against any target to cope with the anti-(North Korea) psychological warfare."
In April, North Korea threatened to launch "unpredictable and merciless" fire against South Korea over anti-Pyongyang leaflets.
South Korean activists and defectors, however, have continued to send hundreds of thousands of leaflets calling for a popular revolt to topple Kim, which the North sees as psychological warfare against it.
The latest harsh rhetoric came just days after Kim called for the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula during his summit talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.
Kim has said his country sincerely hopes for improved relations with South Korea, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.
The North's statement, carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, also represents the latest escalation of tensions on the peninsula following the North's sinking of a South Korean warship and shelling of a front-line South Korean island last year.
South Korea has repeatedly pressed the North to offer an apology for its two deadly attacks before improving inter-Korean relations and resuming the international talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.
"We will maintain our policy toward the North and make efforts to get the North to return to dialogue" a South Korean government official said on condition of anonymity, citing office policy.
The official noted that the North has a track record of employing such tactics as threat, provocations and dialogue offensive to achieve its policy objectives.
The North has repeatedly expressed its interest in returning to the disarmament-for-aid talks that it quit in 2009, but it has adamantly refused to take responsibility for the attacks that killed 50 South Koreans.
The North's statement also said it will cut off military communication lines with South Korea in the east and shut down its liaison office in Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort in the North that was an attraction for South Korean tourists.
The militaries of two Koreas still maintain functioning communication lines in the west and their Red Cross societies operate a separate telephone line in the border village of Panmunjom.
The closure of the North's liaison office in Kumgang appears unlikely to have any significant impact on the South as Seoul has already suspended the joint tour program since 2008 when a female South Korean tourist was shot dead.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/05/30/96/0401000000AEN20110530009200315F.HTML
2. South Korean Businessman Claims North Korea Developed Small Nuclear Warhead
Yonhap News Agency
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A South Korean businessman claimed Monday that North Korea has succeeded in mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile that can reach the United States.
Kim Young-il, the head of a small South Korean firm that has business ties with North Korea, said he heard the information from a person familiar with the North's missile development about a month ago.
He declined to give any further details, including the person's nationality, because of a government ban on South Koreans from holding unauthorized contact with North Koreans. But his comment indicated the person may be a North Korean.
He made the claim in a forum at South Korea's parliament in Seoul.
The National intelligence Service, South Korea's top spy agency, said it had no immediate comment.
The allegation, if confirmed, would tip the regional security balance and represents a threat Washington has feared.
A U.S. defense official said in January that North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons will pose a threat to the U.S. within five years. Some experts say Pyongyang may have already developed nuclear warheads small enough for missile payloads.
North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and test-fired ballistic missiles three times in 1998, 2006 and 2009.
Meanwhile, Kim also claimed North Korea has inked a deal with China to explore offshore oil reserves in waters between their countries.
The reserves are believed to be containing 20.5 billion tons of oil, Kim said, adding that he estimated that one-third of the oil reserves could be explored, an amount he says China can consume for about 30 years.
He declined to give any further details.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/05/30/48/0401000000AEN20110530009600315F.HTML
The UN Security Council urged North Korea to stop its nuclear development based on photographs of nuclear plants in the North that were revealed by the UN report earlier this month.
the UN 'Report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874' revealed the satellite pictures of the communist state's Yongbyon Nuclear Complex Fuel Fabrication Complex, and Uranium Enrichment Workshop.
The report said that the plants could be a serious threat as they are built for the military purpose.
The report was not officially adopted by the security council as the North's ally China refused to do so saying that the North's nuclear issue should be discussed at the six-party talks.
Available at: http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=116475&code=Ne2&category=2
1. France Criticizes German Retreat From Nuclear Power in Wake of Fukushima
Gregory Viscusi and Tara Patel
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The German government’s decision to close all its nuclear plants in a decade will lead to greater dependence on fossil fuels, increase carbon emissions and require imported atomic power, French officials said.
“Germany will be even more dependent on fossil fuels and imports and its electricity will be more expensive and polluting,” French Industry Minister Eric Besson said in a statement. German households pay twice as much for power than homes in France, where 80 percent of electricity comes from atomic plants, he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition today announced that all the country’s 17 reactors will close by 2022, reversing a plan pushed through parliament last year to extend the operation of the facilities by an average of 12 years. Merkel said in March that Japan’s Fukushima disaster, the worst nuclear crisis since 1986, forced her to rethink her support for atomic power.
“It’s hard to see how they will replace the energy,” Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of state-run Areva SA, the world’s biggest maker of nuclear equipment, said on BFM Radio. “I’m not sure there is enough Polish coal, and it creates carbon problems. Alternative energy sources are intermittent sources. I think they will do what Austria did in its time: import nuclear electricity from neighboring countries.”
The move “will result in higher electricity costs in Germany, with consequences for industry,” said Lauvergeon.
German Imports Germany is Europe’s largest power market, followed by France. Germany last year was a net exporter of power to France, sending 16.1 terawatt hours to the country compared with imports of 9.4 terawatt hours, according to data published by grid operator Reseau de Transport d’Electricite.
This trend was reversed last month following the accident at Fukushima and the subsequent decision by Merkel to halt Germany’s oldest reactors. In April, France was a net exporter of power to Germany for the first time since the summer months of June, July and August last year, according to RTE.
Merkel has repeatedly said that Germany must remain a net exporter of energy, stressing that there is no point closing German nuclear plants only to import nuclear power from other countries.
France has increasingly imported power in recent years amid cold snaps and heat waves when base electricity provided by Electricite de France SA’s 58 atomic reactors needs to supplemented by thermal or renewable sources.
EDF is developing a new atomic plant at Flamanville in Normandy and has plans for another in northern France at Penly. Since the Fukushima disaster in March, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is facing an election next year, has vowed to continue to invest in the atomic industry.
Carole Trivi, spokeswoman for EDF, the largest power producer in Europe and its largest operator of nuclear plants, declined to comment on the German government’s decision.
Polls Unlike in Germany, polls have shown the French to be more ambivalent about nuclear energy. A TNS Sofres poll in March indicated just 19 percent of respondents wanting a rapid reversal of the country’s reliance on atomic power.
“There’s a sensitivity, a passion about this issue that is unique in Germany,” Lauvergeon said. “This was a totally political decision, even if polls do show that it was supported by public opinion.”
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-30/areva-s-lauvergeon-says-germany-will-import-nuclear-power.html
Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.
The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.
Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen made the announcement following late-night talks.
Chancellor Angela Merkel set up a panel to review nuclear power following the crisis at Fukushima in Japan.
There have been mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany in the wake of March's Fukushima crisis, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami.
Mr Rottgen said the seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again. An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems, would also be shut down for good.
Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022, he said.
Mr Rottgen said: "It's definite. The latest end for the last three nuclear power plants is 2022. There will be no clause for revision."
Mr Rottgen said a tax on spent fuel rods, expected to raise 2.3bn euros (£1.9bn) a year from this year, would remain despite the shutdown.
Mrs Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats met their junior partners on Sunday after the ethics panel had delivered its conclusions.
Before the meeting she said: "I think we're on a good path but very, very many questions have to be considered.
"If you want to exit something, you also have to prove how the change will work and how we can enter into a durable and sustainable energy provision."
The previous German government - a coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens - decided to shut down Germany's nuclear power stations by 2021.
However, last September Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition scrapped those plans - announcing it would extend the life of the country's nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years.
Ministers said they needed to keep nuclear energy as a "bridging technology" to a greener future.
The decision to extend was unpopular in Germany even before the radioactive leaks at the Fukushima plant.
But following Fukushima, Mrs Merkel promptly scrapped her extension plan, and announced a review.
Germany's nuclear industry has argued that an early shutdown would be hugely damaging to the country's industrial base.
Before March's moratorium on the older power plants, Germany relied on nuclear power for 23% of its energy.
The anti-nuclear drive boosted Germany's Green party, which took control of the Christian Democrat stronghold of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in late March.
Shaun Burnie, nuclear adviser for environmental campaign group Greenpeace International, told the BBC World Service that Germany had already invested heavily in renewable energy.
"The various studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that renewables could deliver, basically, global electricity by 2050," he said.
"Germany is going to be ahead of the game on that and it is going to make a lot of money, so the message to Germany's industrial competitors is that you can base your energy policy not on nuclear, not on coal, but on renewables."
Shares in German nuclear utilities RWE and E.On fell on the news, though it had been widely expected.
But it was good news for manufacturers of renewable energy infrustructure.
German solar manufacturer, Solarworld, was up 7.6% whilst Danish wind turbine maker Vestas gained more than 3%.
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13592208
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