Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are to launch military exercises on Monday with the firing of different range ballistic missiles, the state news agency IRNA reported.
The exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-6, are to start on Monday, said a Guards commander, General Ami Ali Hadjizadeh, quoted by IRNA, without specifying how long the manoeuvres will last.
"Short-, medium- and long-range missiles will be fired, especially the Khalij-Fars, Sejil, Fateh, Ghiam, and Shahab-1 and -2 missiles," he said.
The general, whose force carries out wargames each year in the Gulf region, said the latest exercises were "a message of peace and friendship to the countries of the area."
In late May, Iran said it had equipped the Revolutionary Guards with a new surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, which was built locally and test-fired last August.
Iran says it has a wide range of missiles, some capable of striking targets inside arch-foe Israel as well as US bases in the Middle East.
The Islamic republic regularly boasts about developing missiles having substantial range and capabilities, but Western military experts cast doubt on its claims.
Iran's missile programme is under the control of the Guards.
Its space and missile programmes have been a concern in the West, which fears Tehran is developing a ballistic capability to launch potential nuclear weapons which it suspects Iran aims to develop under the guise of its civilian atomic programme.
Iran has steadfastly denied these Western charges, saying its nuclear and space programmes have no military objectives.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jzAVc7FiwL1cYUpFI9yV9cCmeNfA?docId=CNG.c92f962cd2eadb85ecab8f1c1e49cd4b.71
The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved broad economic sanctions against Iran, bringing the Jewish state into line with measures taken by other governments.
"The government of Israel authorised economic sanctions against Iran and companies that trade with it," a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.
"These steps include a series of administrative and regulatory measures that will place Israel at the international forefront regarding the imposition of sanctions on Iran," the statement said.
The measures, which do not need further parliamentary approval, were taken after a committee found in March that, despite years of calling for tough international action against arch-foe Iran, Israel's existing legislation did not live up to public policy.
"The committee's recommendations are an important step in the struggle against Iran's nuclear programme," Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.
"These recommendations ensure that Israel will stand alongside other countries at the forefront of sanctions against Iran, in order to cause the Iranian regime to abandon its plans to develop nuclear weapons," he said.
The issue gained prominence in recent months after a prominent Israeli firm was named in alleged illegal trade with Tehran.
Israel's Ofer Brothers Group owns a major international shipping business which is under investigation after being blacklisted by Washington last month for alleged dealings with Tehran.
According to the US State Department, Ofer Brothers and its alleged subsidiary, the Singapore-based Tanker Pacific, were involved in selling a tanker to an Iranian firm under sanctions last September.
The firm has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying it had no ties to Tanker Pacific and that the State Department had made an "unfortunate mistake."
The allegations caused uproar in Israel, which has repeatedly called for tougher international sanctions against its bitter enemy.
Animosity between the two countries has grown under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly spoken of the Jewish state's demise.
The United Nations imposed a fourth found of sanctions against Iran in June 2010, after Tehran refused to suspend uranium enrichment, the most sensitive part of its nuclear programme.
Israel, the United States and other governments suspect the programme is a cover for developing a nuclear weapons capability, an ambition Iran strongly denies.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g4yo45YsBuRlYjPBj2x0tYe1Na-A?docId=CNG.c9cde10db53b7b578203134cc9ebbef5.11
Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei says recent unilateral sanctions imposed by the US against Tehran are an extension of Washington's hegemonic policy in the Middle East.
On Thursday, the US imposed a new round of unilateral sanctions against Tidewater Middle East Company, which operates seven port facilities in Iran, the country's state-owned airline, Iran Air.
The measure prohibits any transactions between American entities and the Iranian companies.
“These measures are a kind of deception tactic used to divert the attention of American citizens from the US government's numerous failed and fruitless internal and foreign policies,” Mohammad Khazaei said in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Khazaei described the US policies in imposing sanctions against civilians as a threat against a UN member state, and violation of Washington's commitments according to the international law.
“The main objective of these measures is to deprive Iranian people of their basic rights such as transportation.”
The UN Security Council adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in June under intense US pressure, which claims Iran's nuclear program may have potential military applications.
Shortly after the UN sanctions, the United States imposed fresh unilateral sanctions on Iran's financial and energy sectors, encouraging other countries to abandon investment in the Iranian market.
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.
Available at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/186121.html
4. Joint Statement of Secretary Geithner and Secretary Clinton on Iran Sanctions
US Department of Treasury
(for personal use only)
The U.S. Departments of Treasury and State today released the following statement from Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary Hillary Clinton on additional U.S. sanctions against Iran:
“Today, the United States imposed sanctions on Tidewater Middle East Company, an operator of Iranian ports owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that has links to Iranian proliferation activities. We also imposed sanctions against Iran Air, which was designated for providing material support and services to the IRGC and Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), and also has facilitated proliferation-related activities. Today’s sanctions also exposed an Iranian individual and entity for their ties to a company that provided support and weapons to Hizballah on behalf of the IRGC.
“The IRGC’s illicit activities and its increasing displacement of the legitimate Iranian private sector in major strategic industries, including in the commercial and energy sectors, are deeply troubling. The IRGC also serves as the domestic “enforcer” for the Iranian regime, continues to play an important proliferation role by orchestrating the import and export of prohibited items to and from Iran, is involved in support of terrorism throughout the region, and is responsible for serious human rights abuses against peaceful Iranian protestors and other opposition participants.
“Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a top U.S. government priority and we remain deeply concerned about Iran’s nuclear intentions. The United States is committed to a dual-track policy of applying pressure in pursuit of constructive engagement, and a negotiated solution.
“On June 9, 2011, the P5+1 countries (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States) re-affirmed their concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and their commitment to a diplomatic solution in their statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors. Many other governments have also expressed serious concerns about the behavior and policies of the Iranian leadership and have urged Iran to change course and seek a path of negotiation. Yet, in the face of this unified international message, Iran has continued to violate its international obligations and disregard our attempts to start meaningful negotiations over its nuclear program.
“For this reason, the United States is convinced that the international community must continue to increase and broaden the scope of pressures on Iran. We welcome steps such as the European Union’s designation of more than 100 entities and individuals last month and the improved implementation of sanctions against Iran that we are seeing around the world.
“This month, the United States amplified our sanctions against Iran’s leadership through a comprehensive initiative aimed at Iran’s dangerous behavior--its continued proliferation activities, its human rights abuses, and its destabilizing activities in the region.
“On June 9, we sanctioned the Iranian security forces for human rights abuses. Earlier this week, we continued our efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which the UN Security Council 1737 Sanctions Committee noted has been involved in several violations of UN Security Council resolutions on Iran.
“The steps we have taken this week seek to limit Iran’s ability to use the global financial system to pursue illicit activities. We have made important progress in isolating Iran, but we cannot waver. Our efforts must be unrelenting to sharpen the choice for Iran’s leaders to abandon their dangerous course.
“The United States and our partners remain fully committed to a diplomatic solution with Iran. However, until Iran is prepared to engage seriously with us on such a solution, we will continue to increase pressure against Iranian entities of concern.”
Available at: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tgg.aspx
1. North Korea’s Nuclear Enrichment: Capabilities and Consequences
(for personal use only)
North Korea’s pursuit of uranium enrichment should not, and has not, come as a surprise. The pre-eminence of Juche, the political thesis of Kim Il Sung, stresses independence from great powers, a strong military posture, and reliance on national resources. Faced with an impoverished economy, political isolation from the world, and rich uranium deposits, nuclear power—both civilian as well as military—fulfills all three purposes.
History and hindsight have shown a consistency in North Korea’s efforts to develop its own nuclear capability. One of the first steps North Korea took was to assemble a strong national cadre of nuclear technicians and scientists. In 1955, North Korea established its Atomic Energy Research Institute. In 1959, it signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to train North Korean personnel in nuclear related disciplines. The Soviets also helped the North Koreans establish a nuclear research center and built a 2 MW IRT nuclear research reactor at Yongbyon, which began operation in 1969.
Throughout the 1970s, North Korea continued to develop its nuclear capabilities, pursuing a dual track approach that was consistent with the idea of nuclear self-reliance. While engaging in discussions to obtain Light Water Reactors (LWRs) from the Soviet Union, North Korea proceeded with parallel studies on graphite moderated gas cooled reactors, using publicly available information based on the Magnox reactor design. North Korea also carried out plutonium separation experiments at its Isotope Production Laboratory (IPL), and successfully separated plutonium in the same decade. The North Koreans worked on the design of a reprocessing plant for which, the chemical process was modeled after the Eurochemic plant. When negotiations to acquire four LWRs from the Soviet Union failed, North Korea had already embarked on its indigenous nuclear program. Throughout the 1980s, North Korea constructed a 5MWe reactor, fuel fabrication plant, and a reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, with no known documented external help and with minimal foreign equipment procured. When the joint statement on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was concluded in December 1991, all three facilities had been fully operational for a number of years, with two additional (50 MWe and 200 MWe) graphite moderated gas cooled reactors under construction.
The Enrichment Route
North Korea’s closed society and isolationist position has made it immensely difficult to accurately gauge its nuclear activities. Pyongyang has gone to great lengths to hide much of its nuclear program, including its enrichment route. Nevertheless, there have been indications, including procurement related evidence, that point in the direction that North Korea has been actively pursuing enrichment since the mid-1990s, with likely exploratory attempts made up to a decade earlier.
It is clear that North Korea received a key boost in its uranium enrichment capability from Pakistan through the A.Q. Khan network. Deliveries of P-1 and P-2 centrifuges, special oils, and other equipment from Pakistan to North Korea in the late 1990s were acknowledged by former Pakistani President General P. Musharraf in his memoirs, “In the Line of Fire.” President Musharraf also wrote that, separately, North Korean engineers were provided training at A.Q. Khan’s Research Laboratories in Kahuta under the auspices of a government-to-government deal on missile technology that had been established in 1994. In all likelihood, North Korea also received the blue prints for centrifuges and other related process equipment from the Khan network during that period of time.
In the late 1980s, North Korea acquired vacuum equipment from a German company. While such equipment was primarily meant for North Korea’s fuel fabrication plant then under construction, some of the vacuum pumps could have been used for enrichment experiments. But additional attempts made in 2002 to again acquire vacuum technology after the completion of the fuel fabrication plant strongly pointed to its use for enrichment purposes. Evidence of North Korea’s procurement activities in the late 1990s to the early 2000s showed its objective to achieve industrial or semi-industrial scale enrichment capacity, based on a more efficient Pakistani P-2 centrifuge design. In 1997, an attempt was made to acquire large amounts of maraging steel suitable for manufacturing centrifuges. In 2002/2003, North Korea successfully procured large quantities of high strength aluminum from Russia and the United Kingdom, another requirement in making centrifuges. A simple tally of the amounts and types of equipment and material sought by North Korea suggests plans to develop a 5000-centrifuge strong enrichment capacity. This appears consistent with a separate earlier enrichment offer A. Q. Khan had made to Libya.
For North Korea to have embarked on procuring equipment and materials meant for a (semi)industrial scale enrichment facility, it is highly likely that the known Uranium Enrichment Workshop (UEW) at Yongbyon, which in reality approximates a full sized facility, is not the only one that exists. More workshops would have been needed to serve as test beds for pilot cascades of P-1 and P-2 centrifuges prior to (semi)industrial scale enrichment operations. While we have signs of North Korea’s enrichment goals, the final picture remains unclear given that the actual amount of items procured remains unknown. This problem is compounded by the fact that the North Koreans have and are continuing to source nuclear material and equipment from several parties. Moreover, there remains a high degree of uncertainty concerning the level of North Korea’s enrichment technology development.
In April 2009, after expelling IAEA inspectors, North Korea publicly announced for the first time that it was proceeding with its own enrichment program. To reinforce its intentions, North Korea followed up with a letter to the UN Security Council on September 3 to confirm that it was embarking on an enrichment phase. In November 2010, the North Koreans unveiled to Siegfried Hecker, a pre-eminent nuclear expert and former director of the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, an enrichment facility in Yongbyon with 2000 centrifuge machines similar to the P-2 version, built with maraging steel rotors. The scale, level of sophistication, and brazenness for the North Koreans to have built a (until then) secret enrichment facility at the same site of a previously IAEA-monitored building, caught international attention. The plant is proof of North Korea’s steady pursuit to include uranium enrichment as part of its domestic nuclear fuel cycle.
What does this mean in terms of North Korea’s enrichment production capacity?
2000 centrifuges when operating at full capacity are sufficient to annually produce 1.8 tons of low enriched uranium (LEU) or at 3.5% U-235. This projected output is consistent with the needs of a small LWR currently under construction that was also shown to Dr. Hecker. North Korea may however face some material and quality limitations that would restrict enrichment output. On the other hand, such an enrichment plant can also easily be used for military purposes. There are two options to proceed with to make high enriched uranium (HEU): reconfigure the current 2000 centrifuge installation or add 800 new centrifuges for that purpose. An additional 800 centrifuges would be able to convert annually 1.8 tons of LEU to 40 kgs of HEU, an amount sufficient for the country to generate the necessary fissile material needed for one or two new nuclear bombs. Currently, North Korea is estimated to have between 25-40 kg of plutonium stocks, an earlier ingredient it had used to build and test its first bomb in 2006. Should North Korea use its current 2000ong centrifuge capacity on an uninterrupted basis to produce 1.8 tons LEU annually, and have additional 800 centrifuges to enriched LEU further to HEU, we can expect its HEU stocks to exceed its current plutonium stockpile after three years.
Feed material in the form of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) is needed in sufficient quantities to power 2000 centrifuges. While no UF6 fabrication plants have been found in North Korea, its existence at undisclosed sites(s) has been traced as far as back in year 2000, when subsequent investigations revealed that North Korea had shipped UF6 to Libya. What this also means is that North Korea’s UF6 production was conducted in violation of the Agreed Framework and Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement that were in force during at that time.
Implications and Consequences
On March 22, 2011, North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, portrayed Libya’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons as a mistake that opened the country to NATO intervention following its domestic Arab Spring uprising. Such conclusions drawn by North Korea make an already difficult case to engage North Korea to give up its nuclear weapon deterrence that much harder. At the same time, the alternative of disengagement will in all likelihood bring about greater problems.
In engaging North Korea, several key hurdles have to be tackled. First, North Korea shows a poor proliferation record. It was the suspected supply source of UF6 to Libya via the A.Q. Khan network. There is also mounting evidence that North Korea was involved in the construction of a secret nuclear reactor at Dair Alzour in Syria that was subsequently destroyed in 2007. It is plausible that North Korean personnel assisted Syria in building the reactor. There are also allegations of North Korean assistance provided to Myanmar’s emerging nuclear activities, which makes the point of proliferation of North Korean human expertise and know-how an added concern.
Second, North Korea has demonstrated its capability and intent to further develop the full range of its nuclear arsenal including: missiles, precision machining, working with high strength raw materials, and boosting uranium enrichment. Third, with North Korea publicly embarking on uranium enrichment, the prospect of achieving a denuclearized Korean Peninsula has dimmed even further. In contrast to the 1991 Joint Statement that denounced enrichment and reprocessing on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has now reinterpreted the ban to cover only enrichment and reprocessing for military purposes, but not the right to enrich for civilian purposes.
What can be done?
We need to continue to step up international efforts at tightening export controls and nonproliferation efforts, making it more difficult for North Korea to obtain as well as proliferate in nuclear material and technology. We also need to do better in negotiating a comprehensive inspection and verification scheme when the Six Party Process addresses the verification phase. The Agreed Framework had limited the IAEA verification activities to Yongbyon, which gave North Korea the possibility to develop its enrichment and related capabilities elsewhere. That may have proven to be the best compromise at that time. But the consequences have been telling. Given the current nuclear situation in North Korea, a different approach would be needed if we want to progress substantially and significantly on properly safeguarding North Korea’s nuclear program. A full disclosure of the country’s historical and current nuclear activities will be necessary under any new agreement negotiated, alongside robust inspection rights for the IAEA. Avenues must also be sought to restrict and reduce North Korea’s sprint to build up on its nuclear arsenal. Added political will from all involved in the Six Party Talks will be needed to resolve the wider security and stability issue in Northeast Asia.
Engaging North Korea will continue to demand patience, while the possibilities for progress remain uncertain and uneven. But with much at stake, we have no choice but to get the end game right.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------  Magnox reactors were designed in the United Kingdom originally to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. The first such graphite moderated gas cooled reactor was built in the mid-1950s to Calder Hall in the UK. Design features of the reactor were subsequently declassified.
 Eurochemic was a research plant dedicated to the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. It was owned by thirteen countries which shared and widely published technologies developed. The plant, located in Dessel, Belgium, operated from 1966 to 1974.
 (Semi)industrial plants are used to demonstrate that the process is working properly to produce enriched uranium before proceeding with a full scale expensive investment. At this stage one can still do adjustments to the process. In chemical the industry, this is often called to a pilot plant. (Semi)industrial plants have customarily about 1000 centrifuges when the full size enrichment plants can have tens of thousands of centrifuges.
 S. Hecker, Redefining Denuclearization in North Korea, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, December 20, 2010.
 North Korean engineers indicated to Dr. Hecker that the capacity of the centrifuges they had built was 4 kgSWU/year.(Separative Work Unit, SWU, is a measure of work expended during enrichment process). The performance of the North Korean centrifuge appears to be lower than 5 kgSWU/year which is often attributed to the Pakistani P-2 centrifuge.
Available at: http://38north.org/2011/06/heinonen062211/
A senior South Korean official said Monday his government could temporarily put sensitive issues behind it once the stalled dialogue with North Korea resumes, hinting at growing flexibility to tackle the current stalemate.
Since the latest attacks last year, Seoul has suspended aid and dialogue, with firm determination not to do the North any favors until it admits responsibility for the deaths of dozens of military personnel and two civilians. While this attitude has been generally well-received by citizens here, it has been viewed as a major hurdle to restarting the multinational talks aimed at denuclearizing Pyongyang.
Issues over the attacks “don’t necessarily have to be dealt with in” the proposed nuclear talks between the two Koreas, the senior Seoul official, who recently attended the Seoul-Washington foreign ministers’ meeting, said.
“Yes, they can be dealt with as two separate issues ... and receiving an apology is not the precondition for any kind of talks,” he said on the condition of customary anonymity.
“This, however, does not mean we can forget about the attacks altogether and does not change the fact that a responsible attitude must be taken by North Korea,” the official added. “In the long run, North Korea’s attitude to this matter will affect all situations.”
The six-nation talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, have been suspended since the end of 2008 after Pyongyang walked from the negotiation table, claiming other dialogue partners had failed to keep promises.
Backed by its traditional ally China, the North has been increasing efforts to restart the talks, apparently desperate to secure food assistance to feed its people.
Upon Beijing’s suggestion, South Korea proposed holding nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang as the first step to resume larger-scale peace talks involving other regional powers. North Korea, however, discarded its reconciliatory gesture toward the South and has been upping hostile rhetoric since earlier this month.
“I am pretty sure North Korea is well aware of our position and that we are waiting for it to accept our offer for talks,” the Seoul official said, adding his government does not have immediate plans to make another official proposal for talks with Pyongyang.
South Korea is observing Washington’s decision-making process on the resumption of food aid to Pyongyang and the purported summit meeting between Russia and North Korea, the official said.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110627000663
Japan began a campaign Sunday to convince communities hosting nuclear reactors to let operations resume, with several local governments blocking nuclear power generation after the atomic crisis in Fukushima.
Central government officials held a briefing in Saga prefecture, where two reactors at the Genkai power plant are among several across the country that were halted for regular checks when a huge quake and tsunami hit on March 11.
Local officials have since withheld routine consent for operations to resume, citing safety concerns after the tsunami triggered a crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has leaked radiation into air, soil and sea.
Sunday's briefing was broadcast online, but only seven government-selected local residents were allowed to attend, while the meeting venue was not disclosed to the public.
In a press conference after the 90-minute briefing, one of the seven complained that it had been "way too short".
Another participant said: "Officials used many technical terms that were too difficult to understand. Since I didn't understand, I cannot agree with their explanation."
Dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the building against the government's nuclear policy.
"This is a programme designed to lead to an approval for the resumption of operations of the Genkai reactors. We cannot accept that," one of the protesters, Hatsumi Ishimaru, 59, was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.
Nuclear energy makes up about a third of Japan's overall energy supply, but the government has faced stiff criticism from the public on the issue since the Fukushima crisis forced the evacuation of thousands of local residents.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1137355/1/.html
2. Japan PM Adds Cabinet Jobs on Tsunami, Nuke Crisis
(for personal use only)
Japan's prime minister on Monday created two Cabinet posts to oversee the nuclear crisis and tsunami reconstruction efforts as he hopes to shore up his administration against criticism of its handling of the crises.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan named Ryu Matsumoto as reconstruction minister and made Goshi Hosono his minister in charge of handling the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
He also gave special advisory positions to two other senior politicians.
The moves are seen as an attempt by Kan to strengthen his hand against a growing number of critics who perceive a lack of leadership following the March 11 disaster.
He has said he would be willing to step down, but only after significant steps are made toward putting Japan's recovery on a solid footing. He has also set several preconditions, including the passage of budget bills and a renewable energy measure.
"I'm aiming at (stepping down) after achieving those bills," Kan told a news conference late Monday.
Hosono, who has been director of the government's nuclear crisis task force, will also be in charge of power conservation. An electricity shortage is expected in Tokyo because of the nuclear crisis, and the government has taken several steps to prevent problems.
Matsumoto, previously Kan's environment minister, will be replaced by Justice Minister Satsuki Eda, who will hold a double portfolio. Popular Cabinet member Renho will become an advisor, along with Shizuka Kamei, the leader of a smaller party in parliament.
"The main purpose of the new appointment is to push for reconstruction from the disaster and take steps to prevent another nuclear accident," Kan said. "Three months have passed since the disaster. It's time to start thoroughly discussing how we can be better prepared."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano earlier Monday announced the new lineup, in which he also serves administrative reform minister, taking over Renho's former post. Renho uses one name.
The earthquake and tsunami disaster left about 23,000 people dead or missing on the northeast coast, and touched off the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
The disaster brought out deep rifts within Kan's party and has strengthened the largest opposition bloc, which has slammed his response as dithering and poorly coordinated.
Kan's support with the voters is also slipping.
A major newspaper reported Monday that support for his Cabinet has fallen to 26 percent, with 42 percent of the respondents saying he should be replaced as soon as possible. The telephone poll of 893 voters was conducted over the weekend by The Nikkei, a conservative business daily, and the TV Tokyo Corp. A poll of that size would normally have about a 3 percent margin of error.
The result marked a two-percentage-point drop for the Cabinet. Sixty-five percent of the respondents said they did not support the Cabinet.
Kan took office just over a year ago. He is Japan's fifth leader in four years.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hXrwdkuJMg_ylOUUhQtwbw3eARZQ?docId=354c2fbbd2304cf8be6ed248ef2a3650
3. Most Japanese Oppose Nuclear Reactor Restarts: Poll
(for personal use only)
Nearly 70 percent of Japanese oppose the restart of nuclear reactors halted for maintenance work, a poll showed on Monday, even though keeping them shut could mean power blackouts this summer and higher electricity bills.
Public fears about nuclear power have grown due to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi plant, where workers are struggling to control radiation leaks from meltdowns after reactor cooling systems were knocked out by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The loss of generating capacity due to the closure of Fukushima and other plants, exacerbated by the refusal of local governments to sanction the restart of other reactors shut for routine maintenance, has raised the prospect of blackouts when power demand peaks in the summer.
Thirty-five of Japan's 54 commercial reactors are currently shut, including the six at Fukushima, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
Before the crisis, nuclear power provided about 30 percent of Japan's electricity, a figure that fell last month to about 20 percent.
The poll by the Nikkei business daily also showed that 47 percent want to cut the number of nuclear plants, up 5 percentage points from the previous poll in May.
Media reported on Monday that Chugoku Electric Power in western Japan is being refused permission by the governor of Yamaguchi prefecture to build a nuclear plant on landfill in a cove at Kaminoseki on the Seto Inland Sea.
Local residents oppose the plant, which the utility aimed to have in commercial operation by March 2018.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/27/us-japan-poll-nuclear-idUSTRE75Q07620110627?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=401
4. Radioactive Cesium From Fukushima Expected to Reach U.S. West Coast in 5 Years
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)
Radioactive cesium leaking from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is estimated to reach the West Coast of the United States in five years after its density declines considerably, according to a semi-governmental research institute.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has compiled a map predicting how cesium-137 will spread throughout the Pacific Ocean in the long term. Cesium-137, whose half life is 30 years, is one of the radioactive substances leaking from the crippled nuclear power station.
It estimates that cesium-137 from the plant will spread in the shape of an ellipse -- as far as about 4,000 kilometers off the coast of Japan -- in one year. It then predicts the substance will reach Hawaii three years later and the U.S. West Coast five years from now. However, the agency says that by that time, its density will have declined significantly.
By September, half a year after the March 11 disaster, the amount of cesium-137 will have declined to around 0.08 becquerels per liter of sea water at most, an amount estimated in the ocean in the 1950s when the sea was contaminated with radioactive substances deriving from U.S. nuclear tests.
JAEA also estimates that in seven years, the amount of cesium-137 leaking from the plant will fall to around one-tenth of the density of nuclear test-derived cesium that still remains in the ocean.
Based on these estimates, JAEA also predicted the levels of internal exposure to radiation of those who eat fish and other marine products that inhabit the sea areas where the highest levels of radiation will be detected as of April next year.
Japanese people will have an annual internal exposure to 0.0018 millisieverts on average, judging from the average amount of seafood they eat a year.
JAEA senior researcher Masanao Nakano said the amount will not pose any threat to people's health, noting that it is about 1/500 of the upper limit on individuals' annual exposure to radiation.
JAEA's prediction does not take into account the radioactive materials accumulating on the sea bottom.
The map predicting the spread of cesium-137 can be viewed by accessing the JAEA website: http://www.jaea.go.jp/
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110627p2a00m0na009000c.html
1. Concluding Statement to IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety
(for personal use only)
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety has achieved its main goal, which was to pave the way for an enhanced post-Fukushima global nuclear safety framework.
The result, in the words of the Ministerial Declaration agreed by you on Monday, will be a strengthening of nuclear safety, emergency preparedness, and radiation protection of people and the environment worldwide.
I am grateful to all of you for your active participation and for the constructive spirit seen throughout the week's deliberations.
The Ministerial Declaration outlines a number of measures to improve nuclear safety and expresses the firm commitment of IAEA Member States to ensure that these measures are actually implemented.
Collectively, our Member States have expressed their sense of urgency, as well as their determination that the lessons of Fukushima Daiichi will be learned and that the appropriate action will be taken.
I am grateful to you, Mr. President, and to the Chairs of the three Working Groups, for steering the Conference to its constructive conclusions. I also thank the keynote speakers, panellists and all participants for their valuable contributions. We have seen differences of opinion in some areas, which is entirely natural, but I am struck by how much broad agreement there has been on the fundamentals.
I am particularly encouraged by the fact that the proposals I made in my opening statement on Monday enjoyed widespread support.
As you may recall, these were: to strengthen IAEA Safety Standards; to systematically review the safety of all nuclear power plants, including by expanding the IAEA's programme of expert peer reviews; to enhance the effectiveness of national nuclear regulatory bodies and ensure their independence; to strengthen the global emergency preparedness and response system; and to expand the Agency's role in receiving and disseminating information.
This is not about process - it is about results. The Declaration agreed here this week must be translated into action - and it will be. This will require hard work from all Member States, and from the IAEA, in the years ahead.
This week's deliberations will give me valuable guidance as I prepare the Action Plan on the way ahead, which will be submitted to the IAEA Board of Governors and General Conference in September. Important meetings on nuclear safety are already planned in the next 18 months.
The primary goal is to make nuclear power plants as safe as humanly possible, as quickly as possible. But it is also important to rebuild long-term public confidence in the safety of nuclear power. For that, tangible outcomes are needed, and we must maintain our sense of urgency. We must also be fully transparent.
I have been in touch with the Commission on Safety Standards to suggest that it begin reviewing IAEA standards on the basis of the views expressed by Member States this week. Likewise, I am inviting the INES Advisory Committee to consider ways of making the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale more effective as a communication and information tool.
We will also press ahead with detailed proposals in other areas for which we have direct responsibility, such as implementing an expanded programme of expert peer reviews.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to conclude by thanking you once again for making this Ministerial Conference a success, for your support for the work of the IAEA and for your guidance.
I am confident that, as a result of your work here this week, measurable and lasting improvements will be made in the safety of all nuclear power plants throughout the world.
Available at: http://www.iaea.or.at/newscenter/statements/2011/amsp2011n014.html
2. IAEA Chief: Concrete Result Needed for Any Iran Visit
Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)
The U.N. nuclear chief said on Friday he would consider accepting an invitation to visit Iran but stressed it would have to yield concrete results, urging Tehran to address suspicions of military-linked atom activity.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he had agreed in a meeting with Iran's atomic energy head Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani this week that the two sides needed to talk.
But he said they remained far apart on substantive issues related to Iran's cooperation with the IAEA and Tehran's refusal to heed U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding it suspend sensitive nuclear work.
Amano, who has taken a blunter approach towards the Islamic state than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, met with Abbasi-Davani on the sidelines of a week-long, international nuclear safety meeting in the Austrian capital.
Abbasi-Davani said after the June 21 meeting he had held "very good" and "transparent" talks with Amano and that he had invited him to visit the Islamic state's nuclear facilities.
Asked about the invitation, Amano told a news conference: "I will consider visiting Tehran at an appropriate time but a constructive, concrete result is needed if I visit."
It was the first time they had met since Abbasi-Davani, a nuclear scientist, was appointed head of Iran's atomic agency earlier this year.
The United Nations has imposed sanctions on him because of what Western officials said was his involvement in suspected nuclear weapons research.
Amano, who said in a report last year that he feared Iran may be working to develop a nuclear-armed missile, said he had raised the issue of activities linked to the military in the country.
"I asked for their cooperation to clarify these activities," he said. "There is no difference of view to continue the dialogue," Amano added. "But of course on substantial issues ... there is difference, it is obvious."
VIRTUAL NUCLEAR STATE
Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran rejects the charge and says its nuclear programme is aimed at generating electricity.
For several years, the IAEA has been investigating Western intelligence reports indicating Iran has coordinated efforts to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude and revamp a ballistic missile cone so it could take a nuclear warhead.
Iran says the allegations are baseless and forged.
Its 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. Enriched uranium can have both civilian and military purposes.
A former head of IAEA inspections worldwide, Olli Heinonen, said Iran seemed determined to at least achieve the capability to make a nuclear weapon, and the country could next year have enough fissile material for an atomic device.
Heinonen, who resigned from the IAEA in 2010 and is now at Harvard University, made the comment to the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday.
"It appears that Iran is determined to, at the very least, achieve a 'virtual nuclear weapon state' capability, or in other words be in a position to build a nuclear device, if it so decides," the Finnish nuclear expert said.
"Based on present output capacity at Natanz and barring stops or slowdowns, Iran is able to generate sufficient amounts of fissile material at minimum for a nuclear device, sometime in 2012," he said, referring to Iran's Natanz enrichment plant.
Available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFLDE75N0SG20110624
3. IAEA Head Sees Wide Support for Stricter Atom Safety
Sylvia Westall and Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)
The U.N. atomic agency chief said on Friday he had broad support for his plan to strengthen international safety checks on nuclear power plants to help avoid any repeat of Japan's Fukushima crisis.
Speaking after an unprecedented international meeting on nuclear safety, Yukiya Amano said there had been some differences among senior nuclear officials and regulators from the IAEA's 151 member states at the week-long talks in Vienna.
"But I am struck by how much broad agreement there has been on the fundamentals," he said in closing remarks.
"I am particularly encouraged by the fact that the proposals I made ... enjoyed widespread support."
He said he was optimistic that member states would support efforts to raise the necessary cash for enhanced safety steps.
"I don't think we have sufficient financial resources to fund the future activities created by the Fukushima accident."
The June 20-24 ministerial conference, hosted by the IAEA in Vienna, was aimed at launching global action to improve safety after Japan's Fukushima emergency, caused by an earthquake followed by a huge tsunami on March 11.
Amano on Monday called for nations to carry out risk assessments on all their reactors within 18 months, to make sure they could withstand extreme natural events of the kind that crippled the power station in Japan's northeast.
The veteran Japanese diplomat also proposed strengthened international safety checks, or peer reviews, on reactors worldwide organised by the U.N. body.
Diplomats said this part of the plan could meet resistance from those which want to keep safety an issue strictly for national authorities.
MEETING "BETTER THAN HOPED"
But on Friday the IAEA's member states appeared to have shown unity on a topic that is high on the political agenda in several countries and has come under intense public scrutiny.
"There was very strong convergence of the different positions of the countries, the safety authorities and the operators," Andre-Claude Lacoste, chairman of France's Nuclear Safety Authority, told Reuters.
"It went better than we had hoped," he said, adding that there could be a divergence of views further down the line as Amano puts together his action plan for IAEA meetings in September.
Japan's crisis has prompted a rethink of energy policy worldwide, underlined by Germany's decision to close all its reactors by 2022 and Italy's vote to ban nuclear for decades.
Three reactors at the Japanese complex went into meltdown when power and cooling functions failed, causing radiation leakage and forcing the evacuation of some 80,000 people.
But even though IAEA states agree on the need for enhanced nuclear safety, they have voiced differing positions on how much international action is needed.
Russia wants to move towards making the agency's safety standards compulsory and fellow nuclear plant exporter France has also called for stronger international steps.
But other states are more cautious, stressing that safety is mainly a responsibility for national authorities. They are believed to include the United States and India, diplomats say.
Currently there are no mandatory, international nuclear safety regulations, only IAEA recommendations which national regulators are in charge of enforcing. The U.N. agency conducts review missions, but only at a member state's invitation.
Some delegates at the Vienna meeting said it was not necessary to make the safety missions mandatory, as peer pressure would force more countries to accept them.
The same applies to national reactor risk assessments, already under way in the European Union and elsewhere.
"Countries that don't carry out such stress tests are a bit suspect," Lacoste said.
Available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFLDE75N0II20110624
France will invest one billion euros ($1.4 billion) in future nuclear power development while boosting research into security, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday.
"We are going to devote a billion euros to the nuclear programme of the future, particularly fourth-generation technology," Sarkozy told a news conference, reviewing the government's "big loan" stimulus lending programme.
"We are also going to release substantial resources from the big loan to strengthen research in the sphere of nuclear safety," he added.
France produces most of its energy from nuclear power. Some countries, notably its EU neighbour Germany, have rejected nuclear power after the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hCdqd48cZg_017w3qfjcGvmLz4qA?docId=CNG.d5a93011b47fbce6bee79b902c28e943.271
Western Australia could lose more than $3 billion in economic growth and thousands of jobs after the state Labor Party "recklessly" voted to shut down any operating uranium mine if they won government, the uranium mining industry claimed yesterday.
The heavy-handed decision on Saturday could force mining companies to immediately halt their proposals, some of which are well advanced, amid uncertainty over whether they would be overturned under a new government.
The state Labor Party reaffirmed its ban on the controversial industry at its annual conference at the weekend, putting it at odds with the federal government and sidelining several unions.
In an even greater show of defiance, it also promised to close any operating uranium mine if it won government at the 2013 election.
Investment in uranium mining in WA has boomed since the Liberal-National government overturned a long-held ban on the industry after it came to power in 2008.
At least four projects are well advanced in the approval process and are expected to be operational by 2020, investing $1 billion in development.
The Australian Uranium Association conservatively estimates WA will earn $460 million in revenue from uranium mining by 2030, while the state's economic growth would be boosted by $3.2 billion over the same period.
It claims rural and regional areas also would benefit from the mines' associated infrastructure and employment.
Uranium mining is also supported by the state's two chief business lobby groups, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, which both advocate for nuclear power to help secure the state's energy supply.
However, there are fears the Labor position could have immediate effects.
"It's certainly not going to help the confidence ... of some of the companies that are involved in developing mines," Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Simon Bennison said.
"If companies are going to question whether the state is going to support development of uranium then they will be highly unlikely to want to go ahead if once they've developed the project the government's going to [shut it down].
"It's crazy [that] the federal government has a supporting policy for uranium mining in Australia and the states unfortunately vary on what their policy is."
South Australia and the Northern Territory are the only states with bipartisan support for the industry.
While critics claimed WA Labor's policy left the state open to expensive compensation claims, Australian Uranium Association chief executive officer Michael Angwin said companies were not interested in litigation.
He said last week more than 150 countries meeting in Vienna to discuss the Fukushima nuclear plant incident in Japan had affirmed nuclear power had a role in the world's energy portfolio.
"The world's demand for uranium will continue to grow as a result and WA Labor seems complacent enough not to want WA to be part of this," he said.
"They are the one who are out of step and don't seem to appreciate the significant economic benefits that the removal of the ban on uranium mining has had over the past 2 ½ years with massive increases in exploration and development expenditure and future economic benefits to come."
The AUA claims uranium exports would also prevent 1.5 billion tonnes of green house gas emissions by 2030.
However, conservation groups have thrown their support behind Labor, sighting the potential environmental impacts of a nuclear disaster.
Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore said the Opposition was playing politics, seeking to create a point of difference with the Liberal Party.
"How extraordinary it is that the party that claims to represent the interests of the ordinary working people, the Labor Party, for political reasons only, would seek to close down a potential industry which would create hundreds of jobs in WA," he said.
"Added to this the Gillard Government's mining tax and carbon tax [and they] will have a significant negative impact on confidence in the industry and the jobs that go with it."
Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson also blasted his state counterparts over the decision.
Available at: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/labors-uranium-ban-could-stall-3b-industry-20110626-1glik.html?from=watoday_sb
3. Nuclear Power Cannot Be Abandoned Due to Safety Concerns: Kalam
(for personal use only)
India cannot abandon nuclear power technology because of the safety concerns following the threat to nuclear power plants in Japan owing to the recent tsunami, former President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has said.
Interacting with students at P.S.R. Engineering College near Sivakasi on Sunday, Dr. Kalam said that any technology or system could not be abandoned for the risks it had. The world had not given up ships after the sinking of the Titanic. Similarly, aircraft and cars also had not been abandoned following accidents.
Japan was hit by earthquake and tsunami of unprecedented gravity that threatened its safety. World-wide, the safety of nuclear plants along the seashore was being reviewed. He hoped that reinforced safety designs would come up.
Dr. Kalam said that he would push for usage of thorium, which he said, was safer than uranium.
To a question on whether corruption could be rooted out in the country, he advised the youths to fight it with love and affection. He proposed that fight against corruption should begin at home.
“If you know that your father is corrupt, persuade him (to give up the corrupt practice). And the tool for that is your love and affection for him,” he told the students.
Stating that it was possible to eradicate corruption through this way, he said clean homes could clean up the society and thereby the nation. He asked the students to take a pledge of working and succeeding with integrity.
On using newer technologies in agriculture, he said technologies were indispensable for the future of farming operations in the country. “We are producing 235 million tonnes of foodgrains with the 170 million hectares of farm land. The size of the land would go down to 100 million hectares soon and the food grain requirement will double. Water availability will also go down,” he said.
In this context, technology will help produce food grains by using genetically modified seeds, new cultivation technologies such as soil testing, drip irrigation and organic farming, Dr. Kalam said.
Besides, farmers should adopt value-addition techniques for their produce.
Dr. Kalam wanted the students to become unique individuals. “Everyone has a page in the book of world history. You have to make the world read your page,” he said. For that, the students should have an aim, continuously acquire knowledge, work hard and possess perseverance.
The college chairman, R. Ramadoss, correspondent, R. Solaisamy, principal, V. Srinivasa Raghavan, and the principal of P.S. Rengasamy College of Engineering for Women, K. R. Viswanathan, were among those who spoke.
The Ramanathapuram Principal District and Session Judge, V. Balasundarakumar, and Virudhunagar Superintendent of Police Najmul Hoda were among those present.
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article2137098.ece
4. Pakistan to Build More Nuclear Plants to Overcome Energy Needs: PM
Associated Press of Pakistan
(for personal use only)
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Monday categorically stated that country’s nuclear capability was purely for peaceful purposes and it would build more power plants to meet its growing energy needs. Addressing participants of the “36th International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics and Contemporary Needs”, Gilani said Pakistan in this regard, would continue to comply with the requirements of International Atomic Energy Agency’s nuclear safeguard agreements.
He told scientists, scholars and researchers from across the country and abroad, here at the National Centre of Physics, that Pakistan required more electrical energy and has to rely on nuclear power to meet the demand. “Building and operating nuclear power plants is vital to country’s interests because of its severe energy deficiency,” Gilani said. Gilani said Pakistan believed in a meaningful coexistence and reconciliation, and would always strive for development and prosperity in the region. Prime Minister Gilani lauded the contributions of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission for basic and applied sciences, adding that the expansion in the country’s Civil Nuclear Power Program was commendable.
The Prime Minister recalled inaugurating the second unit at Chashma Nuclear Power Complex - C-II,that enhanced nuclear power generation to 625 Mega Watts. He said that based upon previous performance, the Atomic Energy Commission was not only poised to achieve the 8,800 mega watts Nuclear Power production by 2030. He hoped it would also look beyond 2030 to build more nuclear power plants, as directed by him following the inauguration of Chashma.
Gilani said the fate of countries today was determined by their economic competitiveness and stressed the need to understand and appreciate the implications of competition in the global market-driven economy.
He said keeping in view the pivotal role of science the government had allocated appropriate funds for the development of trained and qualified human resource. He said support would be provided to establish research laboratories to provide employment to this trained manpower.
The Prime Minister said the government was fully supportive of such activities and looked forward towards active collaboration with CERN - The European Organization for Nuclear Research, for innovative research resulting in major scientific breakthroughs.
He hoped this collaboration would provide increased opportunities for continuation of research in the country. He acknowledged the contributions of the country’s Noble Laureate late Professor Abdus Salam, who was the founder and a passionate supporter of International Nathiagali Summer College.
Gilani said the Nathiagali Summer College had over the years provided great stimulus to the scientific activities in the region particularly Pakistan. He said such forums have become a prestigious event in the scientific calendar of the developing world and have duly been recognized for discussing most recent trends and results in various fields of physics.
Gilani appreciated the productive efforts of country’s scientists in the fields of agriculture, biotechnology, industry and health, which he said had been largely possible owing to the investment in human resource development. He mentioned that Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto laid the foundations of pursuit of scientific knowledge in the country, which was bearing fruits today. He stressed utilizing of science as an intellectual pursuit to general progress, adding that industrialized nations must actively assist the less developed nations in this regard.
Chairman PAEC Dr. Ansar Parvez in his welcome address said it was only through science and technology that a nation can find its place in the select group of knowledge based nations. He stressed the need to undertake dedicated efforts to transform the society accordingly. Dr Parvez said the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission was currently providing health care through 14 nuclear medical centres, providing diagnostic treatment to more than half a million cancer patients.
He said two more centres would start functioning this year in Swat and Benazirabad (Nawabshah), while two more would be made operational at DI Khan and Bannu. He said the PAEC has also installed a Cyclotron and a Positron Emission Tomography and imaging facility at Lahore that would increase cancer diagnostic capabilities in Pakistan.
Dr Parvez said the PAEC was also revisiting safety measures after the Fukushima accident in Japan and to ensure effective emergency response system, in coordination with the National disaster Management Authority.
Director General CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) Dr Rolf Heuer stressed quality training of new engineers and scientists and said no nation can make progress in the world of science alone, but need to move in tandem.
He also appreciated Pakistan’s collaboration with CERN and for participating in its experiments to learn about the creation of universe by providing some engineering components and detectors.
Available at: http://ftpapp.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=143418&Itemid=2
5. Bulgaria's Kozloduy Nuke Plant Invests 125M Leva in Capacity Overhaul in 2010
The Sofia Echo
(for personal use only)
Bulgaria's nuclear power plant Kozloduy invested 124.7 million leva into the upgrade of its capacities in 2010, according to a report by the company presented on June 24 2011.
The overhaul was financed with the plant's own funds, 87 per cent of which was aimed at improving the safety systems of its fifth and sixth power units.
Among the plant's larger investments were also the replacement of high-pressure heating system at its sixth reactor and the construction of a spent nuclear fuel storage facility.
The company also spent 87.5 million leva on machinery and equipment purchases, another 24.4 million was poured into construction works, while the remainder was invested in research activities.
The nuke plant has so far collected 500 million euro for the decommissioning of its first four reactors. The procedure, however, will cost 1.1 billion euro, which made the Economy Ministry a month ago to request additional funds from the European Union for the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund (KIDSF).
Available at: http://www.sofiaecho.com/2011/06/26/1112927_bulgarias-kozloduy-nuke-plant-invests-125m-leva-in-capacity-overhaul-in-2010
6. Germany's Greens Back Merkel's 2022 Nuclear Deadline
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Germany's Green party on Saturday decided to accept a government decision to close all nuclear reactors by 2022 instead of pushing for an earlier deadline.
Ahead of the extraordinary meeting in Berlin, the party leadership called on members to support the government, although some of the 819 delegates are calling for Germany to abandon nuclear energy as early as 2017.
"Giving up nuclear energy is a victory for the Greens," said the party's co-leader, Claudia Roth.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet signed this month on a package of bills, prompted by Japan's Fukushima disaster, that foresee Europe's biggest economy being nuclear-free by 2022, and at a faster pace than envisaged.
Germany's nine reactors currently on line are due to be turned off between 2015 and 2022.
The seven oldest reactors were switched off after Japan's massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing reactors to overheat and radiation to leak.
Some EU nations have since reproached Berlin for not consulting its European partners before announcing the decision.
The German move could have particular consequences for France which imports electricity from its neighbour.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hHgkwUsub_gsfdnCgKurTQjcJn2A?docId=CNG.eee2d5296933ea547bb4c1573cfbf432.421
Thousands of demonstrators formed a human chain outside France's oldest nuclear power plant on Sunday to demand the site be closed as the government mulls whether to extend its life by a decade.
The plant at Fessenheim, in Alsace, has become a flashpoint in the renewed debate over nuclear safety in France following the Fukushima disaster In Japan.
Its location near the German border has also made Fessenheim a point of tension between France, which is heavily reliant on its 58 nuclear reactors and has defended their safety, and Germany, which has decided to abandon nuclear power.
Ecology Minister Natalie Kosciusko-Morizet said on Friday there would be no decision until a report from the nuclear safety watchdog was submitted in early July and the results were in from safety tests set up in the wake of Fukushima.
Some 5,000 mostly German demonstrators stretched out over four or five km outside the plant on Sunday in a protest organised by French, Swiss and German associations, supported by France's socialist and green parties.
The No. 1 reactor at Fessenheim has been in service since 1977. The plant is operated by French power group EDF .
The demonstrators fear the site is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding, whilst EDF and the French nuclear safety authority say this has been taken into account in the plant's design and that risks are regularly reassessed.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/26/france-nuclear-edf-idUSLDE75P0CE20110626?rpc=401&
1. Seoul Nuclear Summit to Discuss Nuclear Security and Safety
Xinhua News Agency
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South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Monday that next year's nuclear summit, set to be held in Seoul, will focus on both nuclear security and nuclear safety, according local media.
Kim made the remark in a closed-door meeting in Seoul aimed to prepare for the summit.
Kim said the world leaders participating in the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Seoul will further discuss global cooperation on preventing nuclear terrorism, the major subject set at last year's NSS held in Washington.
But he also noted the radiation leaks from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant triggered by a strong earthquake and tsunami reminded the world of the importance of nuclear safety.
He stressed that strengthening both nuclear security and nuclear safety simultaneously is a way towards the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Seoul will make efforts to combine nuclear security and nuclear safety to seek for synergies at next year's nuclear forum, Kim said.
South Korea will host the next premier global forum on nuclear non-proliferation on March 26-27, 2012. More than 50 countries' leaders will be invited to attend the gathering along with representatives from some international bodies such as the United Nations, European Union, International Atomic Energy Agency and International Criminal Police Organization.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-06/27/c_13952776.htm
2. Singapore Pledges Support to Strengthen Nuclear Safety Standards
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Singapore will support the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) proposal to strengthen nuclear safety standards, with nuclear energy remaining an important source of energy for many countries, even in the wake of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant crisis in Japan.
In a statement yesterday, the Republic pledged support to the proposal by IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano, which includes forming an integrated international system to monitor and provide early warnings on radiological releases and a systematic review of all nuclear power plants.
Singapore was represented by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli and officials from various ministries and government agencies at the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna, which ended on Friday.
The proposal also called for ensuring the effectiveness and independence of national nuclear regulatory bodies, strengthening the global emergency preparedness and response mechanisms, having the IAEA provide analysis and possible scenarios in case of a nuclear and radiological accident, and enhancing the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale to make it a more effective public communications tool.
At the conference, ASEAN member countries also sought to boost the grouping's cooperation with the IAEA in enhancing safety standards in the region.
Available at: http://www.todayonline.com/Hotnews/EDC110626-0000078/Singapore-pledges-support-toengthen-nuclear-safety-standards
3. Russia Finds Nuclear Safety Faults After Fukushima
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Russia's nuclear power plants are dangerously under-prepared for earthquakes and other disasters, said a state review conducted after Japan's Fukushima accident and obtained Thursday by AFP.
The unusually candid survey was presented to a council chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev on June 9 and initially reported on its website by the Oslo-based Bellona environmental organisation.
Russia has until now steadfastly defended its 10 nuclear power plants and 32 reactors against criticism.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on April 30 pronounced the country's nuclear safety system "the best in the world".
But the State Council review revealed more than 30 weaknesses including reduced disaster safety standards and a lack of a clear strategy for securing spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste at many plants.
"The strength (stability) of engineering structures of most nuclear power plants does not meet current regulatory document requirements for stresses that occur from extreme natural impacts," the report said.
The report was released to senior government officials and a select group of Russian non-governmental organisations but not published in the state media.
It was supplied by two different sources to AFP.
Rosatom nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko mentioned recent improvement recommendations over the weekend and said the various fixes would cost around five billion rubles ($180 million).
But a spokesman for Rosatom called the readiness level of country's nuclear power plants "more than sufficient" and angrily denied suggestions that this was the report presented at the June 9 meeting.
"We do not consider this paper as official," Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said by telephone. "It was not considered by the State Council."
Sources said the nuclear readiness portion of the report was prepared not by Rosatom itself but a different state agency.
Environmentalists applauded the paper for the first time acknowledging Soviet-era shortcomings that have been criticised by watchdogs and Russian neighbours such as Norway for many years.
"We knew everything" in the report, Bellona's Russian nuclear programme director Igor Kudrik told AFP.
"But this is honest information from Rosatom itself that there are problems, and we are kind of surprised that they admitted it publicly in such a dramatic manner," he said.
The study pinned specific blame on some nuclear power plants while revealing weaknesses in the country's overall approach.
It noted "an absence of a single science and technology policy for handling radioactive waste at several new nuclear power plant reactors" and a shortage of qualified safety inspectors.
The Leningrad plant near Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg and the Kursk facility near the Ukrainian border were singled out for specific blame.
It said the solid radioactive waste storage facilities at both plants were more than 85-percent full and in need of a clear strategy for operations once they reach capacity.
"At the moment, none of the nuclear power plants has a full range (of equipment) for dealing with liquid radioactive waste," the survey added.
It also pointed to a lack of back-up in case of power outages -- the main problem experienced at Fukushima -- and insufficient protection for workers should leaks occur.
Bellona's Kudrik said the findings confirmed that Russia has never before tested its plants for calamities such as earthquakes or hurricanes and other severe storms.
"The most important thing here is that none of the nuclear power plants have been tested for potential impact. And impact here can mean not only earthquakes but also natural disasters such as strong wind," said the nuclear safety expert.
Countries such as Norway have been particularly concerned by the Kola plant in the northwestern Murmansk region. A severe storm knocked out its power and produced a small leak that led to an emergency shutdown in 1992.
Kudrik said the plant at the time had experienced "a near meltdown".
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h5IHQueDEmGEkHZBxaAB8ZaBWvJA?docId=CNG.e4a5c99551e28f7d9fd2b30cb3dcbf78.411
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