1. U.N. Nuclear Agency Denies Its Head Plans to Visit Iran
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The U.N. atomic watchdog denied on Wednesday its head planned to visit Iran to discuss his mounting concerns over possible military dimensions to Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted on his ministry's website as saying Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was to travel to Tehran to resume discussions with Iranian officials, though he gave no date.
"The IAEA has seen media reports that Director General Amano will visit Iran to discuss nuclear issues. There are no such plans at this time," Serge Gas, IAEA director of public information, said.
Amano said last week the IAEA had yet to agree a date for further talks with Iran and had little hope for a speedy resolution to a standoff with Tehran over its nuclear programme.
Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability, saying its programme is a peaceful bid to generate electricity.
The IAEA and Iran have held a series of meetings since January this year over the agency's suspicions of nuclear weapons research, so far without any concrete results.
Western diplomats accuse Iran of stonewalling the IAEA's long-stalled inquiry. Amano made a high-profile visit to Tehran in May, but failed to achieve a breakthrough.
The IAEA's relations with Iran have become increasingly strained, with Iran's atomic energy chief last month saying "terrorists" may have infiltrated the Vienna-based U.N. agency.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/10/us-nuclear-iran-iaea-idUSBRE8990WF20121010
1. Nuclear Envoys to Hold Talks in Tokyo Next Week
The Korea Herald
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Nuclear envoys from South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold trilateral talks in Tokyo next week to discuss North Korean nuclear issues, a Seoul official said Thursday.
Lim Sung-nam, Seoul’s chief envoy to the six-party talks on ending the North’s nuclear weapons program, will hold talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Glyn Davies and Shinsuke Sugiyama, next Wednesday, the foreign ministry official said.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the nuclear envoys “will jointly assess the current situation with the North Korean nuclear issues and discuss ways to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
The three-way talks come amid reports of progress in the North’s light-water reactor project that experts say may help expand the North’s nuclear weapons capacity.
Last month, Lim visited Beijing and held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei. During the Beijing talks, the two sides agreed to keep a “close watch” on progress in the North’s light-water atomic reactor project, Seoul officials said.
South Korea is concerned that the North’s reactor that is under construction at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon might be a cover to stockpile enriched uranium, a fissile material used to make bombs, although Pyongyang claims it is for producing electricity.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said North Korea has made “significant” progress in the light-water reactor project.
Citing satellite imagery, the U.N. said the North has put a dome over the facility.
The six-party talks, which involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008.
After the trilateral talks in Tokyo, the U.S. envoy will make a three-day visit to South Korea from Oct. 18, Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters.
Davies plans to visit Seoul as part of his regional trip to Northeast Asia, including China, Cho said.
Meanwhile, First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young and U.S.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will hold a fourth round of vice ministerial meetings in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss a range of bilateral issues, including North Korea, Cho said.
North Korea has stepped up its harsh rhetoric against South Korea and the U.S. after Seoul announced on Sunday that it has signed a new arms deal with Washington under which it can extend the range of its missiles from the present 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers, far enough to strike any part of its northern communist neighbor.
Available at: http://view.koreaherald.com/kh/view.php?ud=20121011000639&cpv=0
1. India-Japan Energy Dialogue Proceeds Ahead of Indian PM’s Visit
Japan Daily Press
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India‘s Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia is currently in Japan, co-chairing talks regarding the civil nuclear cooperation between the two counties. The countries have been discussing the possibility of working together and have already held three rounds of negotiations for a bilateral civil nuclear deal.
Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit Tokyo next month. Ahluwalia is in Tokyo currently holding talks with his Japanese counterparts. One of the issues that have surfaced is the details and clarifications sought by Japan on issues related to civil nuclear liability law from India’s department of atomic energy.
A joint working group on nuclear energy, which is a part of the broader India-Japan Energy Dialogue has concluded its sixth round of talks. Interestingly Ahluwalia has confirmed that Japan has categorically stated that it will not wean off nuclear energy dependency. Currently 30% of energy supply in Japan is from nuclear power plants. As far as India-Japan ties are concerned, Tokyo sided the India-US civil nuclear deal in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However Japan has been insisting that India accepts stricter non-proliferation commitments. Let us see how the Indian Prime Minster’s visit turns out, regarding this issue.
Available at: http://japandailypress.com/india-japan-energy-dialogue-proceeds-ahead-of-indian-pms-visit-1115492
2. Russia-Ukraine Nuclear Fuel Plant Begins Construction
Nuclear Engineering International
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A joint Russian-Uranium fuel fabrication plant started construction on 4 October in Smolino village, Kirovograd district, Ukraine. The aim of the plant is to supply all fifteen Ukrainian nuclear reactors with fuel starting from 2015.
The plant will manufacture up to 800 TVSA fuel assemblies a year, Rusatom Overseas announced in a statement. And while the capacity is initially designated for Ukrainian fuel, nuclear fuel assemblies may, 'in future,' be supplied to third countries. TVSA fuel assemblies are currently used in VVER reactors at Russia’s Kalinin1-4, Kozloduy 5&6 in Bulgaria, Temelin 1&2 in the Czech Republic, as well as at 13 units in Ukraine.
The total project cost is expected to reach $462.5 million, Rusatom said. The first phase of construction will amount to some $324.5 million, including $30 million for manufacturing equipment, which will be supplied by TVEL. This phase of the project is scheduled for completion in 2015.
The second phase of construction is expected to cost approximately $138 million, and again equipment will be supplied by TVEL.
Commenting on the event, Ukrainian prime minister Nikolay Azarov said: “I am really glad that the implementation of such a great project has started today. It must be the most large-scale project since the independence, which is to serve the energy independence of Ukraine.”
Head of Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko also confirmed that Russia and Ukraine are negotiating the possibility of establishing a joint uranium enrichment plant in Russia. “We’ve agreed on the principle that it could be a joint venture (on uranium enrichment) situated on the Russian territory,” he said.
If the project were to go ahead, the Russian party would own 50% plus one share of the project, with the remaining shares belonging to the Ukrainian partner. “This is important, because the country, on the territory of which the facilities are situated, bears responsibility for its safe operations” Kirienko added.
Available at: http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectioncode=132&storyCode=2063173
3. UAE May Join Turkey Nuclear Power Plant Project: Turkey Nuclear Plant Project
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The UAE could join a project to build Turkey’s second nuclear power plant if South Korea is involved, Turkey’s energy minister said Thursday.
“Officials from the UAE said they could be a partner in the project if South Korea undertakes the building of the nuclear power plant,” in northern Turkey, Taner Yildiz was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency.
The government plans to build three nuclear power plants within five years in the hope of preventing a possible energy shortage and reducing dependence on foreign energy supplies.
Turkey struck a deal with Russia in 2010 to build the country’s first power plant at Akkuyu in the southern Mersin province.
The government plans to build a second reactor in northern Turkey, near the Black Sea city of Sinop. But it has not yet announced a location for a third reactor.
Ankara is negotiating with a number of countries including South Korea, China and Japan for the second power plant.
Available at: http://gulfnews.com/business/economy/uae-may-join-turkey-nuclear-power-plant-project-turkey-nuclear-plant-project-1.1088238
Alexey Kalinin, of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, will today say that it is willing to invest in the UK’s reactor programme.
Speaking at a Centre for Policy Studies event, he is expected to explain that Rosatom is seeking a “foot in the door” to the UK's nuclear market, most likely though acquiring a stake in one of the new-build plans.
Its long-term ambition is to use its own reactor technology in the UK but getting regulatory approval for its design could easily take five years.
Rosatom had expressed interest in - but decided against - bidding for the Horizon nuclear venture, which plans plants on Anglesey and in Gloucestershire and was put up for sale by German utilities in March.
However, it could yet offer financial backing to one of the bids that have been submitted by rival reactor makers, or potentially express interest in buying into EDF Energy’s planned project at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
EDF is already in talks with Chinese corporations about sharing the project’s estimated £14bn cost. Rosatom has a cooperation agreement with Areva, whose reactor design will be used at Hinkley Point.
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9594476/Russia-eyes-stake-in-UK-nuclear-plants.html
1. Despite More Water, Radiation Still High in Fukushima Reactor
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More water than expected has been found, but dangerously high radiation levels will make it difficult to remove the melted fuel from the most heavily damaged reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Oct. 10 that a maximum radiation level of 11.1 sieverts per hour was detected during its first full-scale survey inside the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel.
A person would die if he or she were exposed to that level of radiation for less than an hour.
However, the figure was lower than about 73 sieverts per hour detected in the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel in March, a level that would be fatal to humans in several minutes.
TEPCO inserted a camera into the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel on Oct. 9 for the first time since the plant was crippled by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
The surface of water could be seen 2.8 meters above the bottom of the containment vessel. TEPCO believes that the melted fuel, lying under the water, is being cooled.
TEPCO had earlier estimated the water was 2 meters deep based on pressure values in the containment vessel. But the company said water levels were within its expectations.
Images taken by the camera showed rust on equipment and piping in the containment vessel, as well as steam.
“Some data on radiation levels and water levels have become available,” said Masayuki Ono, acting general manager of TEPCO’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division. “We think we have obtained important information in planning future responses.”
Fumiya Tanabe, who was a senior researcher at the now-defunct Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, said he was surprised that water levels were so high. He added that the water could have been maintained at these levels because the lower parts of the containment vessel escaped severe damage.
TEPCO said the camera has so far detected no major damage to equipment although the surfaces of some parts have been corroded.
However, Keiji Miyazaki, an expert on nuclear reactor engineering and professor emeritus at Osaka University, said detailed conditions will not become clear until control rod drives and other devices under the pressure vessel can be examined.
He said the investigations will take time because workers cannot enter the containment vessel due to high radiation levels.
The survey found what appeared to be a bolt on a platform for workers in the containment vessel. TEPCO said the bolt was probably not used to support a large structure, but some equipment may have been damaged in the hydrogen explosion that rocked the reactor building in the early days of the crisis.
Questions also remained about the location of the melted fuel.
The maximum radiation level of 11.1 sieverts per hour was detected at a height of 8.6 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel.
Radiation levels generally fell toward the lower parts of the containment vessel. The reading was 4.7 sieverts per hour near the water surface and 0.5 sievert in the contaminated water.
TEPCO’s Ono said it is difficult to identify where the source of radiation is from the available data.
The company believed that almost all melted fuel fell through the bottom of the pressure vessel and accumulated in the outer containment vessel. Under that scenario, radiation levels would rise toward the bottom of the containment vessel.
Steam in the No. 1 reactor appeared not as dense as in the No. 2 reactor, where drops of water were falling when a camera was inserted in March.
TEPCO said radioactive materials may be flowing differently in the two reactors. The No. 1 reactor was successfully vented, while the No. 2 reactor was not.
The No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors melted down after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant lost all power sources in the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
The following day, the upper parts of the No. 1 reactor building were blown off in the hydrogen explosion.
TEPCO said the No. 1 reactor’s pressure vessel was the most heavily damaged because of the speed at which the nuclear fuel melted.
Available at: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201210110078
The Russian Defense Ministry is planning to raise and scrap two sunken nuclear submarines in the northern Barents and Kara seas in order to prevent potential radioactive pollution of the area, the Izvestia newspaper said on Thursday.
The ministry will announce an international tender, which may include companies from the France, the Netherlands, South Korea and United States, as the Russian Navy does not have the necessary equipment to carry out deep-sea salvage operations, Izvestia said, citing a military source.
The B-159 (K-159), a November class nuclear submarine, sank in the Barents Sea in August 2003, 790 feet (238 m) down, with nine of her crew and 1760 lbs (800 kg) of spent nuclear fuel, while being moved for dismantling.
The K-27 was an experimental attack submarine built in 1962 and decommissioned in 1979 due to its troublesome nuclear reactors. Her reactor compartment was sealed and the submarine was scuttled in the eastern Kara Sea in 1982 at the depth of 220 feet (75 m).
After the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000, Russia has bought a number of deep-sea submersibles from the UK and Iceland, but these vessels are designed for search-and-rescue operations rather than salvage work.
Two Dutch companies, Mammoet and Smit International, contracted by the Russian government, salvaged the Kursk in 2001.
Meanwhile, the wreck of another sunken submarine, the Komsomolets, will most likely forever remain at the site where it sank in a 1989 accident, as a salvage operation would be too costly and dangerous.
The K-278 Komsomolets nuclear submarine sank in the Norwegian Sea on April 7, 1989, south of Bear Island. The submarine sank with its active reactor and two nuclear warheads on board, and lies at a depth of 5,560 feet (1,685 m).
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/mlitary_news/20121011/176553800.html
3. Greenpeace Activists Hide Overnight at Swedish Nuclear Plants
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Six environmental activists evaded police and hid overnight at two Swedish nuclear power plants after the sites were invaded on the previous day by Greenpeace campaigners demanding the closure of the stations on grounds of poor security.
A spokeswoman for Greenpeace Nordic said on Wednesday the six had remained in restricted areas around the west-coast Ringhals plant and Forsmark on the east coast by hiding on rooftops.
On Tuesday, plant owner Vattenfall said police had detained in all 59 people who had climbed over or cut through fences into the grounds of Ringhals and Forsmark.
"There was a heavy police search yesterday and still they didn't find them," spokeswoman Birgitte Lesanner said.
She said police resumed the searches again Wednesday morning after one of those hiding at Ringhals tweeted her whereabouts.
"I'm inside Ringhals have been here for 27h + no guards seems to be looking. Security at Swedish NPPs (nuclear power plants) terrible," Isadora Wronski tweeted.
A Vattenfall spokesman said police had found and detained all six by mid-day.
State-owned Vattenfall said on Tuesday security measures had worked as planned, while Greenpeace said its "stress test" showed the plants had serious safety deficiencies and urged the government to shut the reactors.
Swedish nuclear plants have suffered several incidents in recent years, including a fire at a Ringhals reactor last year, fuelling criticism of nuclear power in the country.
Swedes voted in a 1980 referendum to phase out nuclear power. The centre-right government which took power in 2006 decided in 2010, however, to allow the replacement of existing reactors with new ones.
The country has in all 10 nuclear reactors at three plants, generating some 40 percent of the country's electricity. Vattenfall in July filed an application to Sweden's Radiation Safety Authority to replace one or two reactors in Sweden.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/10/us-sweden-nuclear-activists-idUSBRE8990H620121010
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