Partnership for Global Security: Leading the World to a Safer Future
Home Projects Publications Issues Official Documents About RANSAC Nuclear News 4/15/13
Location: Home / Projects & Publications / News
Sitemap Contact
Google www PGS
Nuclear News - 6/14/2011
PGS Nuclear News, June 14, 2011
Compiled By: Eli Ginsberg

A.  Iran
    1. Iran MP Slams IAEA Silence On Israel, PressTV (6/13/2011)
    2. 'US Trying To Take Control Of IAEA', PressTV (6/12/2011)
    3. Six Powers Push Defiant Iran To Address Nuclear Fears, Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (6/9/2011)
B.  Syria
    1. IAEA: Bombed Syrian Plant Linked To Three More Suspected Nuclear Sites, Jack Khoury, Haaretz (6/12/2011)
    1. South Korea: North Korea May Have Miniaturized Nuke Warhead, Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press (6/13/2011)
    2. US Intercepted North Korea Ship Over Arms Fears, Agence France-Presse (6/13/2011)
    3. South Korea Says Invitation To North Korean Leader Remains On Table, Yonhap News Agency (6/13/2011)
D.  Japan
    1. Kan Calls For Reform Of Power Industry, Japan Times (6/12/2011)
    2. Nuclear Power Groups Will Conduct Joint Post-Fukushima U.S. Safety Review, Simon Lomax, Bloomberg (6/9/2011)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Italy Nuclear Power Probably Dead After Referendum-PM, Gavin Jones, Reuters (6/13/2011)
    2. Rosatom To start Building Nuclear Station In Belarus This Fall, Beltele Radio Company (6/12/2011)
    3. Senate Passes Nuclear Power Legislation, The Warsaw Voice. (6/12/2011)
    4. German Nuclear Exit Costs EU$10.8 Billion, Welt Am Sonntag Says, Richard Weiss, Bloomberg (6/12/2011)
    5. Swiss parliament Cements Decision To Go Non-Nuclear In Landslide Vote, Paving The Way For Renewables, Bellona Foundation (6/10/2011)
    6. German Nuclear Ban Spurs French Atomic Imports: Chart Of The Day, Lars Paulsson, Bloomberg (6/9/2011)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Survey Finds Wide Gulf In Global Opinion On Nuclear Power, Asahi (6/10/2011)

A.  Iran

Iran MP Slams IAEA Silence On Israel
(for personal use only)

An Iranian lawmaker deplores the silence of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Israel's nuclear activities, urging the international community to take a firm stance on the regime's nukes.

“Although the Zionist regime (Israel) is the only possessor of nuclear arms in the (Middle East) region, the IAEA, the US and Western countries have made no comment yet in this regard,” a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said on Monday.

“The IAEA and countries which claim to defend non-proliferation of nuclear weapons have neither issued any resolutions to stop Israel's nuclear activities nor have they taken any measures to (urge) the regime to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” he added, Majlis news agency (ICANA) reported.

The Iranian legislator also warned against the “serious threat” of Israel's nuclear warheads and pointed out that Israel has lobbied Western countries and the US to convince them to pursue double-standard policies on the regime's nuclear program.

Hosseini emphasized that Israel should inform the international community of its nuclear warheads which could be detrimental to all humans across the world.

Israel, widely believed to be the sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East with over 200 undeclared nuclear warheads, pursues the policy of "deliberate ambiguity" on its nuclear program.

Tel Aviv has rejected global demands to join the NPT and does not allow IAEA inspections to observe its controversial nuclear program.

Available at:

Return to Menu

'US Trying To Take Control Of IAEA'
(for personal use only)

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltanieh says the US is trying to deprive the UN body of its independence.

“The US government is trying to take the independence of the IAEA away from it, and control this international organization from New York,” Soltanieh said on the sideline of the second International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Tehran on Sunday.

“When the Americans raised the issue of Iraq and making weapons of mass destruction, the agency and its nuclear weapons inspector Hans Blix did not accept it,” Soltanieh said.

The Iranian envoy added that Washington, however, “used this pretext to attack Iraq and used this as an excuse to add the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”

Soltanieh explained that the US planned to add another Protocol to the NPT through making claims about Iran's peaceful nuclear program.

The United States, Israel and a number of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program.

As a signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, Iran maintains that it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

“…this US policy failed and we will not allow a binding document beyond the Additional Protocol to be approved in the IAEA,” Soltanieh concluded.

The second International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation began in Tehran on Sunday.

Nuclear experts from more than 40 countries, ambassadors and representatives from international bodies such as the United Nations and the IAEA are attending the two-day conference in the Iranian capital.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Six Powers Push Defiant Iran To Address Nuclear Fears
Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

Russia and China joined Western powers on Thursday in telling Iran its "consistent failure" to comply with U.N. resolutions "deepened concerns" about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme.

The United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China issued the statement a day after Iran said it would triple production of high-grade uranium and shift it to an underground bunker which would be protected from possible U.S. or Israeli air strikes.

Russia and China have in the past been less inclined to try to isolate Iran over its uranium enrichment which Tehran says is solely to generate electricity. Western nations suspect the Islamic Republic wants to enrich uranium to a higher level so as to be able to make nuclear weapons if it chooses.

"We call on Iran to cooperate fully with the agency," said a joint statement by the six powers at a closed-door session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

"Outstanding issues need to be resolved in order to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme." It did not mention Iran's plan to expand enrichment.

Washington's envoy said separately that Iran's plan to speed up enrichment with a more advanced model of centrifuge machines in a mountain bunker showed its "brazen" and deepening defiance of international demands to curb the activity.

Iran's refusal to halt enrichment has led to four rounds of U.N. sanctions on the major oil producer, as well tighter U.S. and European Union restrictions on top.

World powers have also offered Tehran trade incentives to give up enrichment, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday no inducement could persuade Iran to stop. U.S. President Barack Obama said further sanctions were likely.


Iran's IAEA representative hit back at a tense board meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, vowing to resist Western pressure.

Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh launched a verbal attack on IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano and accused him of bias.

The Japanese IAEA chief has taken a blunter approach to Iran than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, saying in his first report on the country early last year that he feared it may be working to develop a nuclear-armed missile.

"He is not doing his job. Instead, with his reports, he is paving the way for more confrontation between member states," Soltanieh told reporters.

But the six powers united to throw their weight behind Amano, who last month asked Tehran to provide access to sites and officials to help answer the agency's queries.

Iran rebuffed the request.

The United States and Israel, Iran's arch-adversaries, have not ruled out military action to knock out Iranian nuclear assets if diplomacy fails to resolve the eight-year-old dispute.

Iran says it is refining uranium to the 3.5 percent level for electricity production and to 20 percent purity for medical applications.

But its decision last year to raise the level of enrichment beyond that needed for power plant fuel to 20 percent increased disquiet in the West because this would bring Iran significantly closer to the 90 percent threshold suitable for bomb fuel.

Available at:

Return to Menu

B.  Syria

IAEA: Bombed Syrian Plant Linked To Three More Suspected Nuclear Sites
Jack Khoury
(for personal use only)

London-based Al-Hayat newspaper revealed Sunday a correspondence between the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Amano said the Syrian nuclear plant bombed in 2007 was linked to three more sites. The locations of the sites and their functions were not discussed.

Last February, the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung revealed details concerning a second nuclear site built secretly by Syria, which adds to the plant international media said Israel bombed in 2007. According to the report, the site was located near the town of Marj al-Sultan, near Damascus, and was believed to be a uranium conversion plant.

On Thursday, the IAEA decided to report Syria to the Security Council for covert atomic work, a U.S.-led move coinciding with Western condemnation of Damascus' crackdown on opposition protests.

Russia and China voted against the proposal, highlighting big power divisions on the issue. The 15-nation council in New York has the power to impose sanctions, as it has done four times over Iran's nuclear program.

A few weeks ago Amano confirmed for the first time that the target allegedly destroyed by Israeli warplanes in the desert area of Dair Alzour in September 2007 was actually a reactor under construction.

Syria, an ally of Iran, denies harboring a nuclear weapons program and says the IAEA should focus on Israel instead because of its presumed nuclear arsenal.

Available at:

Return to Menu


South Korea Says Invitation To North Korean Leader Remains On Table
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

South Korea said Monday its previous offer to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to next year's international security summit in Seoul remains on the table.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak unveiled the offer during a trip to Berlin last month on condition that Pyongyang firmly commits to nuclear disarmament and apologizes for last year's two deadly attacks on the South.

A North Korean committee handling the propaganda issue has denounced Lee's proposal as "ridiculous," though Seoul officials have said they did not consider the initial reaction to be an official response.

On Monday, a senior South Korean official told reporters that Seoul's offer is still on the table. "We have not withdrawn our offer," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

Seoul is scheduled to host the Nuclear Security Summit in March that would bring together about 50 world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

The offer, if realized, would give a rare opportunity for the reclusive North Korean leader to travel to Seoul for summit talks with Lee and potential encounters with Obama and other world leaders.

Kim held summit talks with Lee's two liberal predecessors in Pyongyang, first in 2000 and again 2007.

The North has long yearned to hold a bilateral meeting with the United States as a way to address its nuclear program. Pyongyang said it developed nuclear weapons to guarantee its security against the perceived threat posed by Washington.

Still, the prospect of Kim's trip to Seoul next year has further dimmed in recent weeks as the two Koreas accused each other of distorting the facts of their secret meeting in Beijing last month.

The North claimed that Seoul negotiators said the secret meeting was arranged to try to set up inter-Korean summit talks and that Seoul negotiators offered an envelope of cash as an inducement.

However, Seoul insisted the meeting was aimed at winning North Korea's apology for its two deadly attacks on the South last year that killed a total of 50 people, most of them soldiers.

Seoul has made Pyongyang's apology for the two attacks a key condition for improving inter-Korean relations and resuming the stalled six-party talks on ending the communist regime's nuclear weapons programs.

Pyongyang has also threatened to disclose its alleged voice recordings of their secret meeting.

The Seoul official challenged Pyongyang to make public the recordings and stressed again that there was no envelope of cash.

Available at:

Return to Menu

South Korea: North Korea May Have Miniaturized Nuke Warhead
Hyung-Jin Kim
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

North Korea may be able to load a nuclear warhead atop a missile, though South Korea has no substantive evidence the North has the technology to do it, Seoul's defense chief said Monday.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and is thought to have enough plutonium for at least a half-dozen weapons. But experts doubt whether the North has mastered the miniaturization technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told a parliamentary committee there is a "possibility" the North may have developed such a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

"I judge it's time for it to have succeeded in miniaturization," Kim said, according to a National Assembly-run webcast. "Considerable time has passed (since the two nuclear tests). Looking at other countries' cases, there is a possibility the North may have succeeded."

Kim, who was answering a lawmaker's question, said his belief is just an "assumption" and South Korea has not acquired any intelligence supporting it.

Kim also told lawmakers he believes the North's short-range missile launch two weeks ago was a test of a rocket with improved range and accuracy. "I think the North succeeded in that test," he said.

Earlier Monday, Kim's ministry submitted to the parliamentary committee a report saying North Korea has been conducting naval infiltration drills off its east and western coasts in recent days. "Chances for surprise attacks ... are increasing," Kim said, according to his office.

International talks on ending North Korea's nuclear threat have been stalled for more then two years, and in November, North Korea revealed a uranium enrichment facility that could give it another way to make atomic bombs.

The Koreas are technically still at war after the 1950s Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Seoul blames the North for two deadly attacks last year in which 50 South Koreans were killed.

North Korea in recent weeks has threatened to attack South Korea to protest its troops' use of photos of Pyongyang's ruling family as targets during firing drills.

Available at:

Return to Menu

US Intercepted North Korea Ship Over Arms Fears
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

The US Navy intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles or other weapons to Myanmar and made it turn back, a senior US official said Monday.

The comments by Gary Samore, special assistant to President Barack Obama on weapons of mass destruction, confirmed reports of the incident, which happened last month, in The New York Times and South Korean media.

The New York Times said the ship was intercepted south of the Chinese city of Shanghai by a US destroyer on May 26.

In an interview with Yonhap news agency, Samore identified the cargo ship as the M/V Light and said it may have been bound for Myanmar with military-related contraband, such as small arms or missile-related items.

"We talked directly to the North Koreans. We talked directly to all the Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar, urging them to inspect the ship if it called into their port," he was quoted as saying.

"The US Navy also contacted the North Korean ship as it was sailing, to ask them where they were going and what cargo they were carrying."

North Korea is subject to international and United Nations sanctions designed to curb its missile and nuclear programmes.

UN Resolution 1874, adopted in June 2009, one month after the North's second nuclear test, toughened a weapons embargo and authorised member states to intercept such shipments.

Another North Korean ship, the Kang Nam I, was forced to reverse course in 2009 after being suspected of trying to deliver military-related supplies to Myanmar.

The New York Times said the Light was registered in Belize, whose authorities gave the United States permission to inspect the ship.

It said the US destroyer McCampbell caught up with the Light somewhere south of Shanghai and asked to board the vessel under the authority given by Belize.

The paper, quoting unidentified US officials, said the North Korean refused four times. But a few days later, it stopped dead in the water and turned back to its home port, tracked by US surveillance planes and satellites.

"Such pressure from the international community drove North Korea to withdraw the ship," Samore was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

"This is a good example that shows that international cooperation and coordination can block the North's weapon exports."

The United States has frequently expressed concern at military ties between Myanmar and North Korea.

Last month Deputy US Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun expressed concern directly to Myanmar's new army-backed government.

US diplomatic memos released last year by the website WikiLeaks said Washington has suspected for years that Myanmar ran a secret nuclear programme supported by Pyongyang.

A top Myanmar official told visiting US Senator John McCain this month that his country is not wealthy enough to acquire nuclear weapons.

Available at:

Return to Menu

D.  Japan

Kan Calls For Reform Of Power Industry
Japan Times
(for personal use only)

Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday called for "fundamental reform" of Japan's electric power industry amid the nuclear crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Kan made the remarks at the first meeting of a newly launched panel on the promotion of renewable energy that includes intellectuals and celebrities, referring to the nation's current system of 10 regional power monopolies.

During the meeting, Softbank Corp. President Masayoshi Son said the introduction of a system for the purchase of electricity at fixed prices is necessary to make it easier to enter the electricity generation business.

Son, who has called for the state to break with nuclear power, also said that 33 of Japan's 47 prefectures, including Kanagawa, Nagano and Shizuoka, plan to participate in joint projects with his telecom company to build solar and wind power plants across the country.

Kan pledged to reduce dependence on nuclear power after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima plant.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Nuclear Power Groups Will Conduct Joint Post-Fukushima U.S. Safety Review
Simon Lomax
(for personal use only)

A nuclear review by the U.S. power industry will weigh safety upgrades at domestic plants after Japan’s reactor crisis, helping investors estimate costs from the worst atomic accident in 25 years.

“We are frequently asked by the Wall Street community how much is this going to cost, and we simply don’t know yet,” Chip Pardee, chief operating officer for power generation at Exelon Corp. (EXC) and chairman of the industry’s Fukushima Response Steering Committee, said yesterday at a news conference in Washington.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, the Electric Power Research Institute and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations introduced the panel yesterday. The 12-member committee will “learn the lessons” from Japan’s nuclear crisis, which began three months ago tomorrow, and “apply them at our plants,” said Tony Pietrangelo, the energy institute’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

U.S. reactors are getting closer scrutiny from regulators after a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out power lines and backup generators at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, about 135 miles (217 kilometers) north of Tokyo.

Without electricity to run cooling systems, some fuel rods overheated and melted, causing fires, explosions and radiation leaks in the worst nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. A Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force conducting a 90-day review of U.S. reactor safety after the Japan earthquake is scheduled to release a report next month.

Tougher regulations from the NRC aimed at preventing disasters similar to Japan’s may cost the U.S. nuclear industry more than $10 billion, according to a Bloomberg Government study released in April.

‘Laughable’ Panel

The industry-led panel is “laughable” and U.S. officials shouldn’t give any weight to its findings, said Damon Moglen, a climate and energy project director for Friends of the Earth, a Washington-based group that opposes nuclear power.

“The nuclear industry owns an alarming track record of ignoring safety flaws and downplaying lapses, and it does not deserve the trust of regulators or the public,” Moglen said in an e-mail.

The U.S. nuclear industry believes its plants are safe, Pietrangelo said. The new panel, which includes representatives from operators such as New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. (ETR) and Xcel Energy Inc. of Minneapolis, will “triple check” existing safety procedures to find improvements, he said.

“We must continually evolve and improve standards of practice and adapt to events and new information,” he said.

‘Credible Regulator’

The industry’s post-Fukushima review will aid the work of the NRC, which is a “very strong, credible regulator,” he said.

“We want to work with our regulator,” he said.

The Fukushima committee will examine a range of safety issues, such as the ability of U.S. operators to cope with a “station blackout,” when power lines are cut and backup generators fail, Exelon’s Pardee said.

Storage pools filled with spent radioactive fuel rods will also be checked to make sure they won’t overheat during an accident, said Pardee, whose Chicago-based employer is the largest U.S. nuclear-plant operator.

The industry panel will assess how companies with nuclear reactors can standardize some disaster response plans, so they can “help one another” during a crisis, Pardee said. Some improvements may include the use of standard-sized fire hoses at nuclear plants and common radio frequencies, he said.

Emergency Response

The panel also will examine whether emergency-response plans must be changed to deal with a “multi-unit event,” Pardee said. Fukushima has six reactors and three units suffered meltdowns, the operator of the Japanese plant said.

The review will check safety systems at nuclear plants against the most recent estimates for “external events,” such as earthquakes and floods, according to a statement from the three power-industry groups.

The industry panel will work until at least the end of this year, according to the statement. The task may take longer because many details of the Fukushima disaster won’t be known for months, Pardee said.

“This will be a fairly protracted effort,” he said.

Since the earthquake in Japan, the NRC has inspected how U.S. plants are prepared to keep radioactive fuel rods from overheating and melting after “extreme events,” such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The NRC also studied the nuclear industry’s “severe accident” plans for bringing reactors under control if a meltdown can’t be prevented.

Agency inspectors have so far concluded U.S. nuclear plants are meeting safety regulations, with a few flaws in disaster- response preparations.

Almost one in five nuclear plants needed to improve plans for preventing meltdowns after large fires, explosions, electricity blackouts or extreme floods, the NRC said. While all nuclear plants have severe-accident guidelines, almost two in five don’t carry out drills on bringing a meltdown under control, according to the NRC.

Available at:

Return to Menu

E.  Nuclear Energy

Italy Nuclear Power Probably Dead After Referendum-PM
Gavin Jones
(for personal use only)

Prospects for nuclear power in Italy appear to have disappeared due to the probable result of a referendum, meaning the country must focus on developing renewable energy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said.

Speaking to reporters on Monday as Italians continued to vote in four referendums on various issues, Berlusconi said the result of the vote proposing to abandon plans to invest in nuclear energy appeared clear.

"Following the decision the Italian people are taking at this moment, we must probably say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy," Berlusconi said.

Available at:

Return to Menu

German Nuclear Exit Costs EU$10.8 Billion, Welt Am Sonntag Says
Richard Weiss
(for personal use only)

Germany’s exit from nuclear power will cost European Union countries as much as 7.5 billion euros ($10.8 billion) per year as prices for emission certificates for carbon dioxide rise by as much as 5 euros per metric ton, Welt am Sonntag said, citing estimates by Manuel Frondel of RWI institute.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Rosatom To start Building Nuclear Station In Belarus This Fall
Beltele Radio Company
(for personal use only)

It was stated today by Head of the State Nuclear Energy Corporation Sergey Kirienko at the International Nuclear Forum in Moscow. By Pavel Tukhto: The previous summit G8 in Deauville, the today's nuclear forum in Moscow, the forthcoming IAEA session in Vienna. After 'Fukushima' the main topic is common world standards for maintenance and building safety of nuclear stations. In actual fact, atomic engineering development pattern is being created now for next decades. (Bernard Bigo, Chair of the Commissariat for Atomic Energy of France) (Stephen Chu, Minister of Energy of the USA) Steady and safe atomic engineering development is possible only with international cooperation and switch to new technologies. In Moscow Head of Rosatom Sergey Kirienko has stated that the project of the Belarusian atomic power station meets all the 'post-Fukushima' requirements. Works on foundation pit construction will begin this fall. The Russian concern promises to build the first block by 2017, the second one - by 2018. According to Kirienko, the price formula has been already determined and the credit contract will be signed in the near future. (Sergey Kirienko, General Director of the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Russia) And according to experts, if the common world standards of atomic power station safety are accepted, it will remove many transboundary claims and speculation.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Senate Passes Nuclear Power Legislation
The Warsaw Voice.
(for personal use only)

The upper house of Polish parliament Senate has approved legislative changes allowing to build nuclear power stations in Poland. The legislation now awaits the president's signature to become law. The new regulations are planned to take effect on July 1, 2011.

Poland plans to build two nuclear power plants, each with the capacity of 3,000 MW. The first block of Poland's first nuclear power plant should go into operation in 2020.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Swiss parliament Cements Decision To Go Non-Nuclear In Landslide Vote, Paving The Way For Renewables
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

Lawmakers in Switzerland’s lower house of parliament Wednesday cemented in a landslide vote plans by the government to phase out use of all five of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2034, making it Europe’s second country to abandon nuclear power in favor of renewable energy in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis.

Germany’s government has opted for full closures of its nuclear power plants by 2022, and has already shut down eight of its plants, one which was already idle for maintenance when the tsunami slammed into Fukushima Daiichi on March 11, and the other seven of which represent the country’s oldest reactors. The German shut down will be voted on within a month in that country’s parliament, and little opposition is expected.

The Swiss ballot passed the National Council, parliaments lower house, with 101 votes in favor, 54 against and 36 abstentions, according to the Associated Press. It had the support of all parties except the pro-business Liberal Democrats and the nationalist Swiss People's Party.

Switzerland's upper house of parliament, the Council of States, must also approve the plan. The government will then have to submit a detailed proposal on exiting nuclear power to parliament.

Although Switzerland isn't prone to large natural disasters, opinion polls showed most Swiss favored shutting down the nuclear plants. The issue threatened to dominate the political debate ahead of parliamentary elections on October 23.

And May saw the largest demonstrations against nuclear power in Switzerland in 25 years.

The Cabinet is already in favor of decommissioning the country's reactors between 2019 and 2034, after they reach an average lifespan of 50 years.

Bellona nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer welcomed the decision of the Swiss parliament, calling the decision “rational.”

“This is a rational decision for Switzerland to make because after 2034, they would have to invest in building new nuclear reactors, and that is were tremendous costs come in,” he said. “We will therefore see that alternative energy can be installed more cheaply.”

Prolonging life spans of old reactors no longer feasible

Bøhmer noted that the quieter practice of simply extending reactor life spans is undergoing a radical reevaluation in Europe as it came to light that the 40-year-old reactor No 1 at Fukushima Daiichi – which has suffered explosions, water leaks and tremendous releases of radiation – had received a 10-year operational extension from Japanese regulators despite numerous fatal faults found during evaluations.

Chief among them was that the reactor’s backup power systems for the coolant system were corroded and vulnerable, and that the reactor would not be able to withstand an earthquake of any appreciable magnitude.

“Nuclear reactors are aging throughout the world and it is too dicey to prolong operational lifespans especially after what was revealed about extended operation life spans at Fukushima Daiichi,” said Bøhmer

Economic versus political momentum against nuclear

Bøhmer added that the decisions of Switzerland and particularly Germany, the world’s number four economic powerhouse, will create the economic momentum necessary for wide-scale application of renewables.

“Other countries will see that replacing nuclear power is far more costly than just going with renewable energy,” he said.

This in turn will make renewable energy prices more competitive, a development that could divorce the decision to maintain nuclear power from purely political aims.

“(These decisions) create an important momentum in terms of economics,” said Bøhmer. “The renewables market will get a big boost and the rest of the world will see that such technology really works.”

Italy primed to follow suit in referendum

An Italian court meanwhile has ruled that the results of a popular referendum on the country’s continued use of nuclear power that will be held next week will be considered as legally binding.

Despite attempts by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s efforts to champion nuclear power as a replacement for oil, the Corte Suprema di Cassazione said earlier this week in a statement that, "the court has declared admissible the request for a general referendum to abolish (...) nuclear power stations," Platts news agency reported.

The court ruling quashed Berlusconi’s attempted compromise at a temporary ban on nuclear energy, so if Italians vote in the June 12 and 13 referendum to end nuclear in their country, Italy to will be forced to explore alternative energy – and according to forecasts by many experts, this is something the Italian public is willing to do as radiation continues to spew from Fukushima Daiichi.

Italian power generator Enel has plans to build four large nuclear reactors in Italy in cooperation with French power company EDF.

The Italian government has already suspended indefinitely its plans to develop nuclear energy in an attempt to calm public fears after Fukushima Daiichi. But it has strongly opposed the idea of a general referendum on the issue.

Shutting down reactors primes Swiss adoption of CCS

As Switzerland’s five nuclear reactors, which are spread over four nuclear power plants, provide 40 percent of the country’s energy generation, dumping nuclear power will necessitate a massive shift to alternative and conventional energy sources.

Business sector opponents of the nuclear shut down have warned of spiking electricity prices and increases in carbon dioxide emissions.

But Bøhmer said that the market prices for Carbon Capture and Storage will also drop, which will still make it possible for countries to reach their emissions cut targets by 2050.

Swiss energy minister sees the alternatives

"Be constructive. We can do this," Energy Minister Doris Leuthard – who has spearheaded political efforts to shut down the country’s five nuclear reactors –told lawmakers after the vote Wednesday, AP reported.

Suggestions for increasing power in Switzerland include buying more natural gas and developing more water, sun and wind energy resources, plus geothermal and other small-scale power generating efforts.

Available at:

Return to Menu

German Nuclear Ban Spurs French Atomic Imports: Chart Of The Day
Lars Paulsson
(for personal use only)

Germany’s retreat from nuclear power has pushed its electricity prices above those of France for the first time in 16 months, spurring exports from French atomic plants as close as 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) to the border.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows the European benchmark for next year cost 59.80 euros ($86.75) a megawatt-hour yesterday, 1.05 euro more than in France. The German contract on June 6 rose above its French counterpart for the first time since February 2010 after Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed plans to abandon nuclear following the March 11 disaster in Japan. Deutsche Bank AG forecast electricity prices in Europe’s biggest economy may rise as much as 6 euros from 2012 as new capacity is needed.

“The gains in German power are all politically driven,” said Dieter Hluchy, a trader at Stadtwerke Hannover AG, a utility in Hannover, Germany. “As long as we are not able to put additional supplies online, there will be more electricity coming from France, the Czech Republic and Scandinavia.”

Nuclear accounted for 23 percent of power in Germany last year and meets more than 75 percent of demand in France, which exported 3,416 megawatts to its neighbor in the hour through 6 p.m. local time yesterday, more than twice as much as at the same time last year, according to European grid group Entsoe. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has offered to boost exports of mostly atomic power to Germany.

Germany will exit atomic energy by 2022. The country’s seven oldest reactors, halted in the second half of March after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan, won’t return, leaving France “in a favorable competitive position,” Sarkozy said June 7.

Available at:

Return to Menu

F.  Links of Interest

Survey Finds Wide Gulf In Global Opinion On Nuclear Power
(for personal use only)

Return to Menu

DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

To be automatically removed from our mailing list, click on the following link: Remove Me From The List

If you have questions/comments/concerns, please reply to

Section Menu:

© 2007 Partnership for Global Security. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.