1. Insider Cites Sloppy Work at Iranian Nuclear Plant
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A Russian engineer who worked on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during the final stages of construction says inexperienced workers, poor oversight and layers of bureaucracy contributed to a rash of equipment failures that delayed the reactor's startup for almost a year.
A U.S. expert said the engineer's account added to concerns about the long-term safety of the Middle East's first nuclear power station, for years a source of tension between Iran and the United States.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Alexander Bolgarov predicted that Iran's inexperience with nuclear power means it will rely on Russia to operate the reactor for the next five or six years. "They still do not have a nuclear culture necessary to run such a plant," said the Moscow-trained engineer, who returned home to Lithuania this spring after two years in Iran.
Bolgarov helped shepherd Bushehr through most of its shaky startup and is one of the first insiders to grant an on-the-record interview about the secretive project. The $1 billion plant was built by the Russian company Atomstroyexport and commissioned in a ceremony Sept. 13.
In the interview last month in Riga, Latvia, Bolgarov disclosed previously unreported details of glitches that plagued Bushehr as technicians struggled to get it started.
Careless welders failed to flush rusty sludge that was later found in fuel assemblies in the reactor core, he said, and other technicians may have mishandled a test that wrecked one of the plant's emergency pumps. He also said that the plant shut down in August after bearings on one of its huge turbines malfunctioned.
But Bolgarov disputed reports that Bushehr's computerized control system had been infected last year by Stuxnet, the computer worm, which attacked other Iranian nuclear facilities.
Western computer and nuclear experts said the malware may have caused 1,000 of almost 9,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant to spin out of control and self-destruct.
While Iran has long insisted it is only interested in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the U.S. and other countries suspect Tehran is seeking the technology and expertise needed to begin producing nuclear warheads.
John Bolton, an undersecretary of state for arms control during the George W. Bush administration, had advocated an air strike on Bushehr during the late stages of construction. He and others argue that its spent fuel could be diverted and reprocessed to yield plutonium for nuclear weapons.
But many U.S. officials and experts said this is unlikely because Tehran has agreed to buy Bushehr's uranium fuel rods from Russia and return the plutonium-bearing spent fuel to Russia for reprocessing. Tehran could renege on this deal, but only at the risk of further international isolation.
"Bushehr is not a stepping stone to a nuclear weapons program," said Olli Heinonen, a former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Heinonen and others are more worried about Iran's uranium reprocessing plants at Natanz and Fordo, as well as its Arak heavy water research reactor, now under construction. All are capable of producing weapons-usable fissile material.
David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, said Bolgarov's description of construction errors raise questions about Bushehr's safety. "It's a little disturbing," he said, because hidden flaws in the facility could lead to a major accident in five or 10 years.
A 30-year-old German-made emergency cooling pump malfunctioned during testing last winter. Bolgarov said he was never able to determine if a plant technician was monitoring the pump during the test, as required, to ensure the critical piece of machinery worked properly.
After the accident, the plant's three other German-made emergency pumps were examined and found vulnerable to similar problems. Concerned that pieces of the failed pump had contaminated the core, Iranian officials removed Bushehr's 163 fuel-rod assemblies for examination in February and reinstalled them in April.
Aware of the challenges Iran faces, Russia has agreed to help run Bushehr for at least two years and possibly as many as five. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has sealed contracts to build Russian reactors to Turkey, Vietnam and Bangladesh — places that, like Iran, have zero experience with nuclear power — and wants to build reactors in other non-nuclear countries like Jordan, Egypt and Venezuela.
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/22/ap/government/main20110270.shtml
2. Iran 'In Talks' With Russia Over New Nuclear Sites
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Iran is in talks with Russia to build new nuclear facilities, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday.
"We are in talks with Russia on construction of new nuclear power stations," Ahmadinejad told the Russia Today TV channel.
Iran may accept an offer from any other country willing to cooperate, he said.
Ahmadinejad was speaking just two weeks after the Bushehr nuclear power station, Iran's first such plant, was connected to the national grid.
The Russian-built facility began operating at a low level in May.
Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was "increasingly concerned" that Iran may also be working on a nuclear warhead. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano pledged to publish new information to back up the statement.
Iran maintains its nuclear plans are entirely peaceful.
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/world/20110922/167036104.html
A fishing boat full of drunken sailors accidentally rammed a nuclear submarine off the coast of Kamchatka early Thursday, Interfax reported, citing Navy sources.
The crew of the Svyatoi Georgy, or St. George, which had surfaced and had its navigation lights turned on, saw the fishing boat coming, but attempts to contact its crew via radio or get their attention with flares proved unsuccessful, likely because the captain was not at the bridge, and the entire crew was drunk, the report said.
Both ships suffered minor damage as a result of the collision, which caused no injuries. There was no radiation leak, but the submarine is undergoing repairs.
The collision is the latest in a summer of maritime debacles in Russia. In late July, an overloaded party boat rammed into a moored barge on the Moscow River, sinking on the spot and killing nine people. Earlier that month, the Bulgaria riverboat capsized and sank, claiming the lives of 122.
Available at: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/drunken-fishermen-ram-atomic-submarine/444198.html
2. Pakistan Has Boosted Safety, Security of Nuclear Installations: FM
Associated Press of Pakistan
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Pakistan told the United Nations Thursday that steps have been taken to augment the safety and security of the country’s nuclear installations and materials in order to provide energy in a safe and responsible manner.“Revival of economy and socio-economic development of our people is the foremost priority of the Government of Pakistan. Safe and sustainable nuclear energy is essential to advance our development agenda,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who opened the meeting, said that Fukushima nuclear plant accident along with the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago serve as a wake-up call for the world’s people.
“The effects of nuclear accidents respect no borders. To adequately safeguard our people, we must have strong international consensus and action. We must have strong international safety standards,” the UN chief told the meeting on the margins of the annual general debate of the General Assembly.
In her speech, Khar underscored the need for taking into account the differentiated nature of countries’ needs and circumstances while evolving a strengthened nuclear safety regime. “Effectiveimplementation of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Action Plan on Nuclear Safety would inter-alia depend in large measure on the degree of international assistance and cooperation to the developing countries.
“On our part, we have already begun a comprehensive safety review of the existing power plants in areas such as site studies, safety systems, emergency power systems, off-site emergency preparedness etc,” the foreign minister said.
“Such safety appraisal will also be applicable to our future nuclear power plants.” Pakistan, she said, has more than three decades of experience in safe reactor operations, backed by a professional corps of experts as well as technical and engineering infrastructure to provide technical support to our power plants.
“We are ready to assist interested states in the experience and expertise that we have gained in the area of nuclear safety under the IAEA auspice.”
On the recent trends affecting non-proliferation regime, the foreign minister said Pakistan believes in an equitable, non-discriminatory and criteria-based approach to advance the universally shared goals of non-proliferation and promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
“We also hope that considerations of nuclear safety and nuclear security would facilitate, not hinder, the pursuit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy for advancing the development agenda and offsetting environmental degradation.”
Available at: http://ftpapp.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=155149&Itemid=39
The UN atomic agency on Friday confirmed the existence of raw uranium in Libya after US news channel CNN reported that new regime forces had found potentially radioactive material.
"We can confirm that there is yellow cake (raw uranium) stored in drums at a site near Sabha in central Libya," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.
She said that the uranium, stored by the government of the now-fugitive Moamer Kadhafi, had been declared to the IAEA and that it hoped to be able to examine the material "once the situation in the country stabilises."
The alleged discovery appeared to contradict a statement from the United States last month, however, that all Libya's yellow cake was at another site at Tajura near Tripoli.
Raw or unprocessed uranium, which has low radioactivity levels, needs to be enriched using a highly complex and expensive procedure before it can be used in nuclear power generation or in atomic weapons.
Libya agreed in 2003 to renounce its activities aimed at developing weapons of mass destruction as part of a rapprochement with Western countries that saw sanctions lifted and sensitive nuclear materials removed.
CNN reported that military forces loyal to the country's National Transitional Council took on Thursday a crew to two large warehouses, one containing thousands of blue barrels.
Several of the barrels were marked with tape saying "radioactive," and several plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape, CNN said.
Forces loyal to Libya's new regime this week captured Sabha, Libya's largest desert city in the deep south, from forces loyal to Kadhafi.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCIu1mFKkWEc8IDk3RVleXon2Lkg?docId=CNG.6cb7e09286a06427c39844fc27898f2a.3f1
4. Ban Ki-Moon Nuclear Safety Meeting: U.N. Secretary General Urges Better Security at Plants
The Huffington Post
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U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged strong international action Thursday to boost safety and security of nuclear power plants against accidents and terrorist attack.
Ban told a high-level meeting at the General Assembly that the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant after the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in March was a wake-up call for the world.
Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said in a statement that public confidence in nuclear power could be restored only if governments, regulators, plant operators and the IAEA worked together and were highly transparent.
Members of the 151-nation IAEA, based in Vienna, adopted Thursday a post-Fukushima nuclear safety plan but several influential member nations have complained that it is too timid because compliance is voluntary.
Japanese authorities have faced stern public criticism for their response to the Fukushima meltdown, the worst, radiation-spreading nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said they were working to complete the "cold shutdown" of the plant by the end of the year. He vowed that Japan would disclose to international community all information related to the accident in a swift and accurate manner.
He conceded that Japan had overestimated its preparedness for tsunamis. He said the emergency electrical supply and pumps needed to cool the reactors at Fukushima should not have been located where they could be submerged by the incoming sea water.
Amano said in his statement from Vienna that IAEA projections still show that global use of nuclear power is projected to grow significantly in the coming decades because of growing energy demand and concerns about climate change.
"The resolve of many developing countries to introduce nuclear power to meet their increasing energy needs remains undiminished," he said.
Viktor Yanukovych, president of former Soviet republic Ukraine where Chernobyl is located, made a strong appeal to strengthen the IAEA's ability to respond and analyze such accidents.
He also urged countries to renounce the use of highly enriched uranium as Ukraine has done, saying it would reduce risks of nuclear proliferation for military and terrorist purposes.
Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/22/ban-ki-moon-nuclear-safety_n_976876.html
5. France Says World Needs Tougher Nuclear Safety Measures
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The international community must boost nuclear safety with mandatory safety inspections and a rapid action force to contain disasters like Japan's Fukushima accident, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's 151 member states endorsed a program to help strengthen civil nuclear energy, outlining voluntary measures intended to help prevent any repeat of such an accident in the world.
But in a speech afterwards at a United Nations conference, Sarkozy said that while it was a step in the right direction, the world could not accept different standards.
"The highest requirements must be applied to everybody on all continents," Sarkozy said. "This must go through a harmonization of technical safety standards."
France draws 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants and is carrying out stress tests on its 58 reactors in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, when the Japanese nuclear site was damaged in an earthquake and tsunami.
The United States, India, China and Pakistan are among countries stressing the responsibility of national authorities, making clear they are opposed to any moves toward mandatory outside safety inspections of their nuclear installations.
France has proposed a plan to the IAEA that would include the establishment of an independent safety authority -- something Japan is supporting -- and a rapid cross-border intervention force to help in the event of a serious incident.
It has also proposed compulsory, regular and transparent outside safety inspections.
France recently had a deadly nuclear-related incident of its own. A furnace exploded at the Marcoule nuclear waste treatment site in southern France, killing one person, but there was no leak of radioactive material outside the furnace, France's ASN nuclear safety watchdog said. Sarkozy said France's quick communication of all details related to that incident was consistent with more stringent transparency requirements needed for nuclear safety matters.
After Sarkozy's speech, French minister for ecology, sustainable development, transport and housing, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, said it was unbelievable that safety inspections for nuclear military sites were still much more stringent than civil nuclear power.
"I don't disagree that non-proliferation is a problem for international security, but civil nuclear safety is not a national problem. It is a cross-border one ... we saw that with what happened at Chernobyl," said Kosciusko-Morizet.
"We can't keep going on with the idea that military nuclear power is an international subject and civil nuclear power a national one. There has to be cooperation on both."
The Fukushima disaster in March spurred calls for more concerted measures on nuclear energy worldwide, but many states fear that tougher measures would violate their sovereignty.
"Fukushima provoked a movement to raise the standards but not to change the scale," Kosciusko-Morizet said. "What we are proposing is to change the scale."
The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said from Vienna in a video address to the conference that the Fukushima accident, however terrible, would not bode the end of nuclear energy.
"In fact, the latest IAEA projections show that the global use of nuclear power will continue to grow quite significantly in the coming decades, although at a slower pace than in our previous projections," Amano said.
He added that future nuclear-power growth would reflect concerns about climate change, dwindling reserves of oil and gas and uncertainty about the supply of fossil fuels.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/22/us-un-assembly-nuclear-idUSTRE78L42M20110922
6. NNSA, Federal Customs Service of Russia Equip Every Border Crossing in the Russian Federation with Radiation Detection Systems
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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Federal Customs Service of Russia (FCS Russia) announced today the completion of their joint work on equipping all Russian border crossing points with sophisticated technology designed to stop nuclear and radiological smuggling. NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) program and FCS have now equipped all 383 border crossings with radiation detection monitors. The radiation detection systems detect and deter illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials across international borders. The systems are an integral component of border control and the international nonproliferation regime.
“By meeting our mutual goal of securing Russian border crossings, we have reduced the risk of illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials, strengthened our partnership in the international fight against terrorism, and taken a significant step in implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda,” said NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington.
Vladimir Malinin, First Deputy Head of FCS Russia, added that “FCS Russia highly values the kind of support rendered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Second Line of Defense Program in equipping Russian border crossing points with radiation control monitors.”
In 1996, SLD and FCS implemented a partnership approach, based upon cost-sharing, intended to improve technical capabilities. Since the signing of the first Protocol in 1998, NNSA and FCS have cooperated on the installation of stationary and portable radiation monitoring devices at Russian border crossings, as well as on the maintenance and sustainability of these systems. The radiation detection equipment complies with the highest standards and is tailored to the customs control techniques used by FCS. The equipment is a dependable tool in the interdiction of nuclear materials and radioactive substances smuggling.
In 2006, recognizing the ongoing importance of this work in combating the threat of international nuclear terrorism, SLD and FCS reached an agreement to jointly equip every crossing point in the Russian Federation with radiation detection devices by the end of 2011. SLD and FCS are also currently working on jointly installing a communications integration system. The sides have stated their intentions to integrate all Directorates, Customs Houses and border crossings by the end of 2015.
Available at: http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/fcsraddetect92211
1. Ukraine, U.S. to Sign Memorandum on High Enriched Uranium on Sep. 26
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Kiev and Washington will sign on September 26 a memorandum on the high enriched uranium that Ukraine pledged to remove from its territory, the Ukrainian foreign minister said.
"On Monday we are signing a memorandum with [U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton on the issue of high enriched uranium," Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Hryshchenko said in an interview with Ukraine's TV channel Inter late on Friday night.
The minister said the memorandum will also determine the schedule of works on the construction a modern nuclear research facility in Ukraine, but did not specify what the facility would be exactly intended for.
Ukraine, which was briefly left with the world's third largest nuclear arsenal after the breakup of the Soviet Union, agreed to give up the remaining stockpiles of highly enriched material by the next nuclear summit in 2012.
In February, the United States officially confirmed that it would render Ukraine $50 million in support of the country's nuclear security program.
The Nuclear Energy Institute puts Ukraine in its top five countries accounting for the largest percentage of generated nuclear energy. Almost half of the country's energy output comes from nuclear power plants.
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/world/20110924/167083551.html
2. Israel Sees "Positive" Arab Move at IAEA Meeting
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Israel welcomed as a "positive" move a decision by Arab states not to target the Jewish state with a resolution over its assumed nuclear arsenal at a global meeting of the U.N. atomic agency on Friday.
Arab delegations described this as a "goodwill" gesture ahead of talks later this year on efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons and an Egyptian-proposed conference in 2012 on creating a zone without such arms in the Middle East.
They said they would not submit a text entitled "Israeli Nuclear Capabilities" for a vote at this week's annual member state meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as they had in 2009 and 2010.
There was a rare conciliatory exchange between Israeli and Arab envoys during an otherwise heated plenary debate at the Vienna-based agency's General Conference, which has 151 members, that once again highlighted deep Israeli-Arab divisions.
Israel is widely believed to harbor the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, drawing frequent Arab and Iranian condemnation. The Jewish state is the only Middle East country outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Israel and the United States regard Iran -- and to a lesser extent Syria -- as the region's main proliferation threats, accusing Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear arms capability in secret.
At the IAEA's annual meetings in the previous two years, Arab states put forward a non-binding but symbolically important draft resolution that called on Israel to join the NPT and place all its atomic sites under agency supervision.
It was approved in 2009 and then re-submitted last year to keep up the pressure on Israel. But it was defeated the second time around after intense lobbying by the United States, which argued that zeroing in on Israel would undermine wider efforts to ban nuclear weapons in the volatile Middle East.
In a surprise move, Arab countries decided last week not to push ahead with the text again this year, saying this was to give a better chance for the planned November 21-22 discussions and the 2012 meeting to succeed.
Hosted by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, the forum in two months' time will focus on the experience of other regions in the world which have set up zones free of weapons of mass destruction, including Africa and Latin America.
Arab states, Israel and other countries are expected to attend the talks, which are regarded as a way to kick-start a dialogue and help generate some badly needed confidence.
But few expect any substantial progress, with one Vienna-based diplomat saying there was not a "great deal" of optimism.
In a statement read by Lebanon's envoy, the Arab group said it had decided not to submit the Israeli resolution this year "for the sake of giving yet another final chance to ongoing international efforts (toward creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons) as well as a goodwill gesture from us."
An Israeli representative, while condemning "political diatribes" against his country made even though it was "gravely threatened by the alarming proliferation developments" in the Middle East, nevertheless welcomed the Arab move.
"We have cautiously defined it as a positive move," David Danieli, deputy director general of Israel's Atomic Energy Organization, told Reuters, using similar language as in his statement to the conference.
But, he added, it is also a "tactical" and a "very partial" decision as Arab states had signaled they had only postponed it until next year's IAEA conference.
Earlier, IAEA states adopted a resolution calling on all countries in the Middle East to join the NPT, without naming any state. Israel and the United States abstained in the vote.
Israel has never confirmed or denied having nuclear weapons under a policy of ambiguity to deter numerically superior foes.
Arab states, backed by Iran, say Israel's stance poses a threat to regional peace and stability.
As a result of Israel's refusal to place its atomic sites under IAEA monitoring "tensions keep escalating which might lead to an arms race in the Middle East with unpredictable consequences," the Arab group said in its statement.
Israel says it would only join the NPT if there is a comprehensive Middle East peace with its longtime Arab and Iranian adversaries. If it signed the 1970 pact, Israel would have to renounce nuclear weaponry.
Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, said he hoped the Arab decision not to table a resolution on Israel this year signaled a new beginning.
"The United States of America believes the time has come to put this issue behind us for the sake of true progress toward our shared goal of a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction," Davies told delegates.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/23/us-nuclear-mideast-iaea-idUSTRE78M3VO20110923
3. U.N. Nuclear Body Ends Annual Meeting in Disunity
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The United Nations atomic agency ended its annual member state meeting in disunity late on Friday, with delegates unable to adopt a resolution on a policy area central to its work in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
Two Western diplomats accused Iran, Cuba and Egypt -- the troika representing non-aligned states within the International Atomic Energy Agency -- of blocking attempts to find a consensus on a safeguards resolution.
One of them said the outcome would have no concrete impact on the agency's activities in seeking to make sure nuclear material is not diverted for non-peaceful purposes, a crucial task for the U.N. body under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
But "visually it is a demonstration of division in an important area," he said.
There was no immediate comment from the IAEA missions of Iran, Egypt or Cuba.
The annual General Conference of the IAEA's 151 member states traditionally adopts a number of texts, setting out general and often vaguely worded policy aspirations and guidelines.
But this year's meeting failed to agree on a resolution entitled "Strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system and application of the model additional protocol."
It had been submitted by some 30 Western countries, most of them from Europe.
"Egypt, Iran and Cuba refused to accept any resolution on procedural grounds," the diplomat said.
Safeguards refer to measures undertaken by U.N. inspectors to discover any attempt by non-nuclear weapons states to use atomic technology or material for developing weapons -- for example regular visits and camera surveillance of sites.
The diplomat said Iran, Cuba and Egypt wanted to include language in the resolution giving the agency a role in nuclear disarmament, apparently reflecting frustration on their part at the lack of fast progress on this issue.
Such a role was unacceptable to the five recognized atomic weapons states -- the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain -- which believe the IAEA is not the right forum for this, he said.
Another Western diplomat made clear his anger at the three countries, accusing them of demonstrating "a willingness to destroy any international consensus on the issue."
The West accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability in secret. Iran denies this, saying its nuclear program is designed to generate electricity.
Tehran often hits out at the United States over its atomic arsenal, and also criticizes the Islamic state's arch foe, Israel, and that country's assumed nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/24/us-nuclear-iaea-division-idUSTRE78M7GT20110924
4. Energy Minister Discusses Nuclear Cooperation With IAEA Head
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Electricity and Energy Minister Hassan Younis met on Wednesday with Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano to discuss future cooperation between Egypt and the agency regarding Egypt's nuclear program. The meeting follows recent Egyptian criticism of the agency for not guaranteeing nuclear non-proliferation in Middle East with regard to Israel.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the IAEA’s 55th general conference, held in Vienna, Austria, Al-Masry Al-Youm was informed. Younis and Amano discussed methods to enhance IAEA training programs for Egyptians as part of the ministry’s preparation for a future launch of an Egyptian nuclear program.
Amano confirmed his agency’s support for the Egyptian nuclear program through training programs, information and technical studies, as well as providing support to develop the Anshas nuclear reactor, said sources speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“Egypt supports the IAEA proposal to host preliminary talks among Arab countries and Israel to make the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons,” said Younis.
Egypt had earlier requested the IAEA disclose all of its available information about the Israeli nuclear program.
At the 151-nation meeting, a Syrian official said that Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal is a threat to world peace. Cuba and Venezuela also defended Iran’s right to a nuclear program.
Available at: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/498315
1. CIA Documents Shed Light on S. Korea’s Nuke Ambition in 1970s
The Korea Herald
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As the international community continues to grapple with how best to thwart North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, a Seoul-based publication has revealed declassified U.S. Central Intelligence Agency documents shedding light on South Korea’s own efforts to acquire nuclear weapons four decades ago.
Global Asia, a publication of the East Asia Foundation in Seoul, said the previously secret U.S. documents show that South Korea continued to develop nuclear weapons at least two years after Washington thought it had ceased during the 1970s.
Such a past can help shape sensible policies in the current regional efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program, scholars Peter Hayes and Chung-in Moon said in the Global Asia September issue.
Chung, Global Asia’s editor-in-chief and a professor at Yonsei University, and Hayes, director of the Nautilus Institute and a member of Global Asia’s editorial board, claimed Seoul’s former nuclear ambition was “largely triggered by eroding or ambiguous security assurances from Washington.”
The uncertainty left the late President Park Chung-hee wanting the country to have its own nuclear deterrent, they said in the article.
The scholars presented six main points.
First, the Park government engaged in considerably more proliferation of missiles and fissile materials and related technology than previously thought. Most historians of this period believe Park, under pressure from the U.S., halted the South’s nuclear program in 1976. The documents reviewed by Global Asia show that the program continued as late as 1978.
Second, Park’s efforts to make South Korea less dependent on U.S. military support through its nuclear weapons program put dangerous stress on the alliance, and wasted tremendous South Korean political capital with its American partner, while providing the South with very little in terms of actual nuclear technology or weapons.
Third, Park’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons may have influenced North Korea’s own threat perception at the time, and fueled the North’s desire to acquire its own nuclear weapons ― a fact that continues to be relevant today.
Fourth, as demonstrated by the crisis in 1976 involving perceptions of a threat from North Korea, it was not nuclear deterrence but rather conventional deterrence that managed to contain the crisis by convincing the North that conventional weapons possessed by the U.S. and South Korea, not nuclear weapons, posed the greatest threat to the North.
Fifth, given the arguments currently being made by some in South Korea about the need for the South to develop its own nuclear weapons in response to the North’s nuclear weapons program, the CIA documents reviewed by Global Asia raise the question whether such a policy would lead the South into the same cul-de-sac that Park’s policies did.
Sixth, these historical documents illustrate that engaging North Korea from a position of political, economic and military strength ― not extended nuclear deterrence ― remains the best policy option.
Available at: http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110925000203
North Korea wants to hold a second round of dialogue with the United States, possibly next month, as part of renewed efforts to restart talks on disabling the North's nuclear weapons programme, a South Korean official said on Thursday.
In a sign that the long-stalled regional talks are now firmly back in the picture, foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae told reporters in Seoul that the two Koreas were closing in on agreement to reconvene the forum.
As part of the process to restart six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, officials expect shuttle diplomacy to pick up.
The South's nuclear envoy met his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Thursday and urged him to persuade the North to halt its nuclear activities to allow for the resumption of the talks, the South's Yonhap news agency reported.
Cho said the North's nuclear envoy Ri Yong-ho had also proposed another U.S.-North Korea meeting.
Yonhap quoted an unnamed South Korean official as saying that a meeting could take place in a third country, with the cities of Singapore, Berlin and Geneva among the possible choices.
"North Korea is pushing to hold the next round of bilateral talks with the U.S. in Pyongyang, but Washington is strongly against it," said the senior South Korean official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"Currently, the two sides are discussing the possibility of meeting in a third country."
In July, U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth held two days of talks with veteran North Korean nuclear negotiator Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan in New York, their first such interaction since 2009.
Most experts say the mercurial North is unlikely to ever give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, but the six-party process is useful as it serves to contain the North's nuclear programme and hinders proliferation.
In Vienna, member states of the U.N. atomic agency unanimously adopted a resolution on North Korea, deploring Pyongyang's actions to cease cooperation with the U.N. agency in 2009 and strongly urging it not to carry out any further nuclear tests.
It also called on North Korea to "come into full compliance" with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
"We hope this unified message from the international community will be heard loud and clear by North Korea. I also hope it will pave the way for achieving the denuclearisation eventually," a South Korean diplomat told the gathering.
On Wednesday, the two Koreas' nuclear envoys met for the second time in two months in Beijing, amid a thaw in tensions on the divided peninsula.
Both sides said the talks were productive and useful, but did not produce any breakthroughs to allow for a restart of the regional nuclear talks, which the North walked out of more than two years ago.
Seoul and Washington insist that Pyongyang must first halt its nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment programme, and allow the return of international nuclear inspectors before talks can restart.
"Our government believes the two sides were able to expand the scope of mutual understanding of each other's overall position on the nuclear issue, and has come to expect that further dialogue will lead us to reach a point of agreement," Cho said.
Analysts expect it will take a few more months of diplomacy before an agreement can be reached on restarting the regional talks which offer the impoverished North economic and energy aid in return for disabling its nuclear weapons programme.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/09/22/idINIndia-59494220110922?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=401
The UAE will award a contract in early 2012 for the supply of nuclear fuel to run its four nuclear reactors which the country is planning to construct as part of an ambitious peaceful programme to meet its growing energy needs.
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), a government establishment created last year to oversee the ambitious project, also said it would launch construction work for the infrastructure of the plants in Barrakah in the western region in mid 2012 to pave the way for their operation in 2017.
“Enec will announce the winner of a bid to supply nuclear fuel for the four plans in the first quarter of 2012,” said Fahd Al-Qahtani, information director at Enec.
“Fuel supplies will cover an operational period of 15 years…our tender to buy nuclear fuel conforms to the highest quality and international safety standards,” he told the semi official Arabic language daily 'Al Ittihad'.
The UAE will be the first country in the region to have nuclear power plants for peaceful purposes under a landmark $20-billion (Dh74 billion) contract signed with a South Korean-led consortium just before the end of 2009.
Under the agreement, inked on December 27, the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) and is partners in the consortium will design, build and run the reactors that will produce 5,600 MW of electricity.While the contract to build the reactors is worth about $20 billion, the consortium expects to earn another $20 billion by jointly operating the plants for 60 years.
The reactors are scheduled to start supplying electric power to the UAE grid in 2017. The Kepco-led consortium includes Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp,Doosan Heavy Industries, and US-based Westinghouse Electric, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp.
“Infrastructure construction work for the first plant will be launched in mid 2012…work for the other units will be launched before the end of 2013 in line with a plan devised by ENEC,” Qahtani said.
The UAE has said the project is intended to diversify its energy supply sources and meet its rapid growing electricity demand, which is projected to surge to around 40,000 MW in 2020 from nearly 15,000 MW in 2009.Officials said the project would also save the country’s hydrocarbon resources, estimated at 98 billion barrels of crude oil and 6.5 trillion cubic metres of gas.
'Al Ittihad' said the nuclear project will provide nearly 25 per cent of the UAE’s total energy needs of nearly 40,000 MW in 2020. Around seven per cent will be generated through renewable energy and the rest through conventional means.
Available at: http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/uae-nuclear-fuel-deal-in-early-2012-2011-09-25-1.420362
2. Markey Calls for Scrutiny of Nuclear-Power Loan Guarantees
Brian Wingfield and Julie Johnsson
(for personal use only)
Congress should examine whether the U.S. nuclear industry pressed lawmakers and the Energy Department to alter loan-guarantee requirements for reactors, Representative Edward Markey said.
“I urge you to commence hearings into the implementation of the nuclear power plant loan-guarantee program,” including an $8.3 billion award to a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. (SO), Markey said today in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican.
The nuclear industry successfully pushed to put reimbursement for private investors ahead of taxpayers in the event of a bankruptcy or liquidation, said Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. The Energy Department agreed in 2009, he said.
House Republicans are investigating a $535 million loan guarantee for solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6. In February, Solyndra persuaded the Energy Department to accept refinancing that put the U.S. behind new investors to keep the company going.
All government loan-guarantee programs may be the subject of an investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Darrell Issa, the panel’s chairman and a California Republican, said on Sept. 20.
The Energy Department awarded Southern’s Georgia Power a conditional guarantee in February 2010 to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle plant near Waynesboro, Georgia. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is scheduled to hold a Sept. 27 hearing on Southern’s license application for the reactors.
“We should subject the nuclear loan-guarantee program to the same level of rigorous scrutiny as we are now insisting the solar loan-guarantee program undergo,” Markey said in a statement.
Fallout from the collapse of Solyndra after getting a loan guarantee isn’t likely to affect Southern’s federal backing, Steve Higginbottom, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview.
Southern, the largest U.S. utility by market value, plans to make a financing commitment to the Energy Department after it obtains final federal licensing approval early next year to build the reactors, Higginbottom said.
The Energy Department would have a first claim on Southern’s new reactors and wouldn’t take a back seat to other lenders, Higginbottom said, refuting Markey’s comments.
“Our exceptional financial strength and 30-year history of operating nuclear plants makes Southern Company a solid, credit- worthy candidate” for a guarantee, Higginbottom said.
Southern’s $14 billion expansion at Vogtle is the largest of 23 power-generation projects the federal government has pledged to assist, with total project costs of almost $41 billion, according to the Energy Department’s website.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-23/markey-calls-for-scrutiny-of-nuclear-power-loan-guarantees-1-.html
Russian nuclear power company Rosatom says it isn't worried about its partner, German engineering conglomerate Siemens, opting to leave the nuclear industry.
Siemens in 2009 signed a memorandum of understanding to help the Russian company launch ambitious expansion plans that included building up to 400 nuclear plants around the world by 2030.
The German company was to play a key role in Rosatom's efforts to recruit Asian and Latin American countries reliant on fossil fuels for electricity generation into the nuclear power club.
But those plans fell off the table when Siemens Chief Executive Officer Peter Loscher told the German weekly Der Spiegel that his company, like the German government, is abandoning the nuclear industry.
"The chapter is closed for us," Loscher told the weekly. "We will no longer be involved in managing the building or financing of nuclear plants."
Loscher, only two years after hailing nuclear power's "renaissance" as a potential $1.5 trillion opportunity, said Siemens would get out of the business because of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, as well as "German society and politics' clear position on ending nuclear energy."
That has left Rosatom without a key partner in its expansion plans. But its officials said this week they understand Siemens' move and aren't concerned about its implications.
Rosatom CEO Sergei Kiriyenko, speaking to Itar-TASS at the 55th general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said his company and Siemens will continue cooperate in other ways, such as in radiation medicine.
The Russian and German firms had achieved "a high level of confidence that the Russian side is not going to lose," Kiriyenko said, adding, "Our partnership will be developing but it will not encompass cooperation in nuclear energy."
The Rosatom leader said Russia followed "two basic principles" in its joint venture with Siemens.
"One principle is the nuclear energy market is a global market and the right strategy on it is a strategy of open partnership and alliances. For us, this logic remains the same, we'll keep moving on.
"The other principle is that cooperation is to be maintained with highly professional companies and we are committed to partnerships and alliances with the leaders only."
Uranium mining, enrichment, fuel manufacturing, power generation and scientific research remain on the table for future joint ventures, he said.
Despite the Siemens setback, Rosatom's other foreign contracts haven't been affected by Fukushima, the Financial Times reported.
China, for instance, has forged ahead with plans to buy two reactors from Rosatom to expand its Tianwan plant, while the Russian company has also signed an agreement with the Britain's Rolls-Royce to cooperate on nuclear power, the newspaper said.
Although the Germany government's decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and public unease about the technology may have been the trigger for Siemens' decision, doubts about the sustainability of the "nuclear renaissance" had crept in before that.
Delays and cost overruns at prominent nuclear projects, such as France's Flamanville reactor and Finland's Olkiluoto plant, have left serious questions about their financial viability. India this week postponed a final decision on the purchase of six new nuclear reactors from the French company Areva until after post-Fukushima nuclear safety tests on France's EPR-type reactors is completed, The Hindu reported.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/09/23/Rosatom-not-worried-about-Siemens-move/UPI-22431316774940/
Burma’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has told a gathering of the organisation that his country cannot afford to develop nuclear weapons, but admitted that atomic research was being done.
Tin Win told a recent gathering in Vienna, Austria, that the government “would like to restate that Myanmar [Burma] is in no position to consider the production and use of nuclear weapons and does not have enough economic strength to do so,” according to Reuters. He added that Burma abided by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
It mirrors comments made in June by Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo, who told visiting US senator John McCain that the country was “too poor” for a nuclear weapons programme.
The US has persistently voiced concerns about Burma’s nuclear ambitions, which can be traced back to a US$150 million deal in 2001 with Russia for a 10 megawatt research reactor.
That deal seemingly ended when the Burmese were either unwilling to conclude or unable to pay, but concerns again grew when Burma resumed diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2007. Last year the IAEA questioned Tin Win on the issue of nuclear cooperation with North Korea, allegations which the government labeled as “groundless”.
Speculation about the shift towards North Korea centred on Burma’s unwillingness to succumb to the legal requirements of a Russian reactor and the necessary IAEA inspections, which presumably would not be present with a North Korea-purchased reactor.
Tin Win, apparently responding to such concerns, claimed that dealings with Russia had lead to a “misunderstanding” within the international community.
This contrasts however with claims made by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official who is quoted in a leaked US cable as telling Australian diplomats that the “Burma-DPRK connection is not just about conventional weapons. There is a peaceful nuclear component intended to address Burma’s chronic lack of electrical power generation.” The perennial issue of electricity availability in Burma was raised last week by electricity minister Zaw Min, who told journalists that the controversy surrounding the Myitsone Dam, whose output will be sold to China, must be contrasted against what he claimed was the inability of Burmese to use up current quotas for power.
A former director in the IAEA, Robert Kelley, alleged in an article for DVB in June that the cessation of the Russian project was “designed to obscure the ongoing military nuclear program that is being carried out in secret.”
The government has publicly claimed that the Russian project, as Tin Win put it yesterday in Vienna, was to ensure that the country would “not lag behind other countries in that field and to improve the applications of nuclear technology in its education and health sectors.”
Kelley pointed out however in June that Burma’s health sector was so underfunded that the use of nuclear technology in the sector was inconceivable.
In terms of current budget, government revenues are buoyant, with the Economist Intelligence Unit noting recently that, “Central government tax revenue jumped by 260% year on year in April.”
Despite this the government appears to still have a growing deficit, with the military still accounting for some 40 percent of the government’s spending.
Available at: http://www.dvb.no/news/cashapped-burma-cannot-afford-nukes/17782
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