Iranian Minister of Mines and Industries Ali Akbar Mehrabian has played down sanctions against the Islamic Republic, saying anti-Iran sanctions have no place in any country in the world.
“We heard about 'crippling sanctions' from enemies many times. Last year, they intended to adopt a resolution to disrupt economic activities in Iran but they are completely disappointed now,” IRNA quoted Mehrabian as saying on Tuesday.
He added that the country's enemies are so disappointed with the thwarted sanctions that “they do not pursue the issue of sanctions anymore.”
“The enemies have reached an understanding that they cannot stop Iran's progress and ideology. The Islamic Republic continues to make progress in different fields day by day through its national will,” the minister pointed out.
Enemies thought that they could inflict damage on giant foreign companies to oblige them not to cooperate with Tehran through blocking Iran's economic and banking activities abroad, Mehrabian noted.
However, they could not inflict the least damage on the country that would stop the Iranian nation's move, he stressed.
The US and its allies, who accuse Iran of developing a military nuclear program, used this as a pretext to pressure the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran's financial and military sectors in June, 2010.
Iranian officials have repeatedly denied the charges, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran has a right to peaceful nuclear technology.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/178004.html
1. Clinton Urges North Korea To Mend Ties With South Ahead Of Talks
The Korea Times
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday urged North Korea to improve ties with South Korea through inter-Korean dialogue before any resumption of the six-party nuclear talks.
"And with respect to North Korea, we have made consistently clear what we expect from North Korea in its actions in the future," Clinton told reporters after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto at the State Department. "We would like to see them engaging in meaningful dialogue with the South in the first instance, prior to any other steps that might be taken."
Clinton made the remarks as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has conveyed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's proposal for an inter-Korean summit and a resumption of dialogue with the U.S. anytime to discuss any subject.
After concluding a three-day visit to North Korea, Carter said in Seoul Thursday that he did not meet with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, but added he was given a "written message" from Kim.
In a separate press briefing, Jacob Sullivan, the State Department's director of policy planning, echoed Clinton.
"We have consistently said that we believe that North Korea has to take meaningful steps to improve inter-Korean relations, that North-South talks are an important opportunity for North Korea to demonstrate its sincerity through dialogue and to take tangible steps to improve North-South relations," Sullivan said.
The South Korean government has not yet officially responded to Kim's summit proposal, amid some officials having shown skepticism about the sincerity of his intentions given the fact that such an important proposal was made through a third party.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan Monday downplayed the significance of Carter's North Korean tour, calling on North Korea to engage South Korea directly.
"We've also consistently said that we don't believe in talks just for the sake of talking," Sullivan said. "So the North has a clear sense of what it has to do, which is improve North-South relations and demonstrate a change in behavior, including by ceasing provocative actions, taking steps toward irreversible denuclearization, and complying with its commitments under the 2005 joint statement and under the Security Council resolutions, both 1718 and 1874."
Discussions are underway among members of the six-party talks, including the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia to revive the talks, the official said. The talks have been stalled over the North's nuclear and missile tests and other provocations last year.
"But the core principle of the importance of North Korea showing through its behavior that it is meaningfully altering its course is something that is deeply shared by the United States and South Korea," he said.
Seoul and Washington want Pyongyang to address South Korean grievances over the North's torpedoing of a warship and the shelling of a border island that killed 50 people last year before any resumption of the six-party talks.
North Korea refused to apologize for last year's provocations and walked out of a rare inter-Korean dialogue in February.
South Korean chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac met with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, in Seoul Tuesday to agree on the need for North Korea to have a bilateral nuclear dialogue with South Korea first and then another bilateral discussion with the U.S. ahead of a plenary session of the multinational denuclearization-for-aid talks.
Another sticking issue is the uranium enrichment plant Pyongyang revealed in November, which triggered concerns that it might serve as another way of making nuclear weapons separate from its existing plutonium program.
Seoul and Washington want that to be dealt with at the U.N. Security Council first. Pyongyang and Beijing insist the uranium be discussed only at the six-party talks.
Sullivan dismissed Carter's claim that South Korea and the U.S. aggravated the food shortages in North Korea by suspending humanitarian food aid for political reasons.
U.S. food aid to the North was suspended in early 2009 amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests and controversy over the transparency of food distribution.
Washington pledged to provide 500,000 tons of food in 2008, but delivered only 169,000 tons before the shipments were suspended in March 2009.
Sullivan said that the North Korean government should be held accountable for the food shortages.
"With respect to the issue of food aid, what I would say is that everyone should remember who is responsible for the plight of the North Korean people, and that is the North Korean government itself," he said.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/05/113_86165.html
2. China's Nuke Envoy To Visit N. Korea Amid Nuclear Deadlock
Yonhap News Agency
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China's chief nuclear envoy said Friday he plans to visit North Korea to coordinate efforts to revive six-party talks on the North, wrapping up a South Korean visit that coincided with a trip to Pyongyang by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Speaking to Yonhap News Agency before departing for China, Wu Dawei, however, said he did not yet have a specific timetable for his visit to North Korea, the focal point of the long-stalled talks that also group South Korea, the United States, Russia and Japan.
Wu declined to comment specifically on Carter's three-day trip to North Korea that ended Thursday, during which the former U.S. leader said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il proposed holding a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
Wu had proposed earlier this month that the nuclear envoys of the two Koreas first hold dialogue to set the stage for other forms of dialogue such as the six-party denuclearization-for-aid talks.
Carter did not meet with Kim Jong-il during his trip that also involved three other former Western leaders such as Mary Robinson of Ireland. After failing to meet with President Lee here, Carter left for the U.S. earlier in the day from Incheon International Airport.
Wu later left for China from the same airport, located west of Seoul.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2011/04/29/26/0301000000AEN20110429010200315F.HTML
3. North Korea Should Take Concrete Action For Summit: Seoul Official
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea's proposal for another summit with South Korea is not new, a senior official here said Friday, urging Pyongyang to follow through with "concrete" action to make such a meeting possible.
The official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, declined to elaborate on steps that the North should take. But he said he understands the prospect of a third summit between the divided Koreas is looming, describing it as "positive." Inter-Korean summits were held in 2000 and 2007.
The comments came a day after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told him via a "written message" that he was prepared to hold a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to discuss a gamut of issues between the countries.
"There is nothing in the message that we would consider new," the official said, acknowledging that the South has in the past put out feelers itself for a summit with the North. "But this message is too ambiguous. What we want is concrete action."
The official said he did not necessarily mean that the North should directly propose to the South, because "substance" matters more than how such a message is delivered. He described the developments over the past week as "not bad."
On Tuesday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan downplayed the significance of Carter's trip to North Korea, saying Pyongyang should instead tap direct channels of dialogue with Seoul.
Carter, who returned on Thursday with three other former Western leaders from their three-day trip, said in a press conference that the North was willing to negotiate with South Korea, the United States and any other parties with a stake in the Korean issue.
Carter said that he did not meet with the North's leader Kim Jong-il during the visit, but that a North Korean official read out Kim's personal message to the delegation just before they took their flight to Seoul.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/04/29/20/0401000000AEN20110429004000315F.HTML
1. Greenpeace Starts Radiation Testing Near Japan Plant
The Straits Times
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Greenpeace said on Tuesday it had begun testing water samples from the ocean near Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for radiation contamination.
The samples will be collected outside Japan's 20km territorial waters in line with government rules, Greenpeace said, adding that it would continue to press Tokyo for permission to study water within 20km of shore.
The plant has leaked radiation into air, soil and ocean since it was severely damaged by the massive March 11 quake and tsunami, and government readings at the end of March found levels of radioactive iodine-131 3,355 times the legal limit in nearby sea. Greenpeace has stressed the importance of an independent study of the level of contamination.
Local fishermen have already been ordered to stop catching certain kinds of fish, especially konago or sand lance, which have shown high levels of radioactivity.
Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story/STIStory_664105.html
The Japanese government has estimated that compensation for damages resulting from the country's nuclear crisis could reach four trillion yen ($49 billion), a report said Tuesday.
Half the money will come from Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, with the rest coming from other electricity companies, the Asahi Shimbun said, without citing sources.
The came as TEPCO calculates its earnings and prepares its future budget, the Asahi said.
The Japanese government has officially refused to estimate the total liability for compensation, saying that Tokyo would not put any cap on TEPCO's burden.
The Fukushima plant was heavily damaged by the deadly earthquake and tsunami of March 11, and has since been releasing radioactive materials to the environment.
The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their houses, businesses and farms.
Officials hope to bring the plant to a cold shutdown by the year end.
Under the envisioned scheme, once TEPCO runs out of money to pay damages claims, it would receive funding from a special financial body to be created by it and eight other power companies, the Asahi said.
The government would initially put public money into the body, which will return it over the next decade, the newspaper said.
TEPCO -- which supplies about one third of Japan's total power demand and services the Kanto region, including Tokyo -- would increase its power tariffs by 16 percent, the Asahi said.
In addition, the government believes it will cost 1.5 trillion yen to decommission the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and 1.0 trillion yen to fuel thermal power plants to meet electricity demand, the Asahi said.
TEPCO has said it will cut jobs and sell assets to reduce costs.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ibthWfrpAi7BUvqpoo6uivd1mmvQ?docId=CNG.a06b8d6954f5a1831260ef488b80a425.a91
3. Radiation Leaks From Fuel Rods Suspected At Tsuruga Plant
The Mainichi Daily News
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Leaks of radioactive substances from fuel rods are suspected to have occurred at a nuclear power plant in Tsuruga, the Fukui prefectural government said Monday, citing a rise in the level of radioactive substances in coolant water.
The operator, Japan Atomic Power Co., will manually shut down the No. 2 reactor of the plant on the Sea of Japan coast and examine the primary cooling system for it. The local government denied that the levels of radioactive substances could threaten the nearby environment.
According to Japan Atomic, 4.2 becquerels of iodine-133 and 3,900 becquerels of xenon gas were detected per cubic centimeter Monday, up from 2.1 and 5.2 becquerels, respectively, during previous measurements conducted last Tuesday.
It is possible that a pinhole has been created in a zirconium alloy encasing fuel pellets, according to sources at Japan Atomic.
The company said the planned shutdown is a precaution following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power station caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Japan Atomic's regulations require a reactor to be halted when the amount of leaked iodine reaches 40,000 becquerels.
The company said it will increase the frequency of measurements to once a day from once a week before deciding when to shut down the reactor.
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110503p2g00m0dm027000c.html
4. Radioactive Cesium Found In Sewage Sludge In Fukushima
Keiichi Yazaki and Keiichi Kitagawa
(for personal use only)
Highly radioactive cesium was detected in sewage sludge and molten slag--a sandy substance created by incinerating sewage sludge--at sewage treatment facilities in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, the Fukushima prefectural government said.
Airborne radiation levels around the facilities were also significantly higher than in other areas of the city. The prefectural government said May 1 it is determining if radioactive substances generated by incinerating the sewage sludge could have spread from the facilities.
Results of an inspection conducted April 30 by the prefectural government showed 26,400 becquerels and 334,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium (the latter of which is about 1,400 times the level before the Great East Japan Earthquake) were found in sewage sludge and molten slag, respectively, at wastewater treatment facilities in the Hiwada area of Koriyama.
Since there are no guidelines established by the central government for disposing of highly radioactive sewage sludge, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was scheduled May 2 to discuss with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency how to handle the radioactive sludge.
Meanwhile, the ministry is expected to ask all municipalities in eastern Japan to measure radiation levels in sewage sludge at sewage treatment facilities.
The Fukushima prefectural government believes that rainfall caused radioactive substances on the ground to flow into sewage systems, leading to a high concentration of radiation at the sewage treatment plant. Eighty tons of sewage sludge are generated per day at the facilities, while 2 tons of molten slag is created by firing 70 tons of the sewage sludge in a furnace at the plant, the prefectural government said. The remaining 10 tons are shipped to cement companies for use as materials.
Since the onset of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident on March 11, about 500 tons of sewage sludge have been shipped to cement companies. The prefectural government is currently tracking the shipment routes to find out where the sewage sludge is now. All the molten slag, however, has been safely stored at the facilities with plastic-sheet covering.
The prefectural government has decided to suspend shipments to cement companies while instructing staff at the sewage treatment facilities to carry radiation dosimeters at all times. It also plans to implement the same inspections at 22 other sewage treatment facilities in the prefecture.
The radiation levels observed around the facilities on May 1 ranged between 1.8 and 3.4 microsieverts per hour, significantly higher than the level of about 1.6 microsieverts per hour around the Fukushima-Koriyama joint municipal hall, about 10 kilometers from the facilities.
Available at: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105020098.html
Workers started installing an air filter Monday in the quake-damaged building housing the No. 1 reactor at Japan's nuclear power plant, officials said.
Operators of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say the filter is intended to cut down the high radiation level so workers can go in and set up a system to cool the troubled reactor, Kyodo News reported.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers could be allowed in the building as early as Thursday. It would be the first time anyone has set foot inside since March 12, the day after the plant was crippled by the devastating 9-magnitude quake and tsunami.
Kyodo also reported a source said Japan's system to predict the volume of radioactive materials emitted in a nuclear accident failed to work as designed because power to the measuring equipment was lost.
In another development, the Fukui prefectural government said Monday it is suspected radioactive substances from fuel rods has leaked from a nuclear power plant in Tsuruga.
Increased radioactivity in coolant water has been detected at the plant, Kyodo said.
Japan Atomic Power Co. will manually shut down the No. 2 reactor of the plant and examine its primary cooling system, the news agency said. The local government said the radioactivity is not a threat to the nearby environment.
Japan Atomic said 4.2 becquerels of iodine-133 and 3,900 becquerels of xenon gas were detected per cubic centimeter Monday, up from 2.1 and 5.2 becquerels, respectively, April 26.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/05/02/Filters-to-trap-Japanese-nuclear-radiation/UPI-58551304388200/
1. Five Arrested In Terror Alert Near Nuclear Site
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Police said on Tuesday they had arrested five men close to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant under counter-terrorism laws.
The arrests were made after Prime Minister David Cameron urged the country to remain vigilant against potential reprisals following the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. forces.
Police said they were unaware of any link between the arrests and bin Laden's death.
The men were arrested on Monday after officers conducted a stop check on a vehicle near the Sellafield site in Cumbria.
The men are all aged in their 20s and from London.
A spokesman for the police's North West Counter Terrorism Unit declined to comment on media reports the men had been filming the site.
"There were suspicions from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary that led to some arrests. There were some suspicions about them near to the perimeter fence," he said.
A police counter terrorism source said the arrests were not preplanned. "The local officers felt there was enough to arrest them. It's a case of seeing if there is anything to it."
Police held the men under section 41 of the Terrorism Act, which allows officers to arrest people suspected of terrorist offences and hold them for 48 hours without charge.
The men were being transferred to Manchester to be questioned by counter-terrorism officers.
Local police were alerted by officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a specialist force which provides protection for civil nuclear licensed sites.
Fifty-two people were killed in London in 2005 when al-Qaeda inspired suicide bombers blew up underground trains and a bus.
The Sellafield site, in operation since the 1940s, includes a number of nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities and waste treatment plants.
Sellafield is owned by Nuclear Management Partners, a consortium of American engineering company URS, British engineering firm Amec and French nuclear reactor maker Areva. It was operating as normal on Tuesday.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/05/03/uk-britain-sellafield-idUKTRE74226O20110503
The foreign ministers of Germany, Japan, and eight other nations have held talks on ways to prevent the proliferation of nuclear material. Germany's foreign minister urged the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to come into effect. It is now one year since a non-proliferation treaty review conference was convened and its recommendations agreed to. But diplomats say very little practical work has been done.
Guido Westerwelle, German Foreign Minister, said, "We encourage all countries that have not ratified it to do so as soon as possible. We demand a legal ban on the production of nuclear materials meaning for weapons. For that a resurrection of the Geneva convention is necessary. If that is not successful,we shall find alternatives, such as approaching the general assembly of the United Nations."
The Berlin meeting also focused on the nuclear crisis in Japan in the wake of that country's natural disasters. Japanese Foreign Minister Take-aki Matsu-moto informed the ministers about the latest developments at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. He said Japan will be contributing significantly to the international efforts of providing safety to nuclear power plants.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/video/2011-05/01/c_13854086.htm
1. German Next-Day Power at 2011-High on Less Wind
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German power for next-day delivery advanced to its highest level this year as production from wind was forecast to remain below average through at least May 13 and reactor halts cut capacity in Europe’s biggest market.
Output from wind turbines, a less predictable source of energy than nuclear, coal or gas-fired generation, will decline tomorrow to about 3,000 megawatts from almost 4,000 megawatts today, Berlin-based Markedskraft Deutschland GmbH said in an e- mailed report. The average for this time of year is 6,000 megawatts. Wind produced 6.8 percent of Germany’s power in 2009.
Prices are also gaining as utilities halt nuclear reactors for regular maintenance after the government in March ordered the closure of the country’s oldest plants. E.ON AG closed its Grohnde reactor yesterday until May 28 and RWE AG on May 1 shut its Gundremmingen B reactor until at least May 23.
“We are expecting an increasing impact of the maintenance periods in Germany and France these days, which is adding upward price pressure to the current market situation,” analysts at Markedskraft said today in the report.
Baseload day-ahead electricity gained 1.85 euros, or 3.1 percent, to 61.85 euros ($92) a megawatt-hour, the highest level since Dec. 20, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. Baseload is delivered around the clock.
The corresponding day-ahead contract on the Epex Spot SE exchange in Paris declined 2.3 percent to 59.81 euros a megawatt-hour.
German power for next-year delivery fell for a second day in three. The European benchmark dropped 0.9 percent to 59.34 euros a megawatt-hour, according to broker prices. The country, Europe’s biggest economy, also gets power from lignite, natural gas and solar stations.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-03/german-next-day-power-at-2011-high-on-less-wind-nuclear-halts.html
3. Kudankulam Reactor To Become Operational In A Month
(for personal use only)
The first reactor at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), with a capacity of 1000 MW, will be “fully operational in another month or so,” a senior official said.
“We are conducting test run for all operations and have found the operation satisfactory,” site Director of KKNPP Kasinath Balaji told PTI over phone.
The site is in the process of testing all its operation including its four diesel generators, assembling the reactor with dummy fuel, conducting hydro test of the primary and secondary systems, coolants tested and has submitted the review to Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
“We are presently in the process of raising the temperature in the reactor. We have submitted all the necessary documents to AERB. Once we get the clearance from AERB, we will go for hot run,” Dr. Balaji said.
“Since it is first of a kind, there is some delay in the process. By another month and a half, we shall start producing,” he said, when asked about the delay in starting production.
The unit, located in Tirunelveli district, was originally supposed to begin commercial operations in December 2007. The unit will use Russian technology, reactor and fuel.
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article1985553.ece
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