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Nuclear News - 11/29/2012
PGS Nuclear News, November 29, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Iran
    1. Defiant Iran in Focus at UN Atomic Energy Meeting, Simon Sturdee, AFP (11/29/2012)
    2. Iran Will Enrich Uranium 'with Force': Atomic Chief, Farhad Pouladi, AFP (11/28/2012)
    3. Spanish Company Embroiled in Nuclear Smuggling Scheme with Iran, Reuters and Moscow Times (11/26/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. North Korea Pushing Ahead with new Nuclear Reactor: IAEA, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (11/29/2012)
    2. Satellite Photo Shows Increased Activity at N.Korean Launch Site, Reuters (11/27/2012)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. China’s 2015 Nuclear Power Capacity to Account for 10pc of World’s Total, South China Morning Post (11/29/2012)
    2. France Will Need Energy Spending After Atomic Debate, Batho Says, Tara Patel, Bloomberg, Bloomberg (11/28/2012)
    3. First Step in Permission for Nuclear Plant, Power Engineering (11/27/2012)
    4. Nuclear Power Key Issue in Japan Elections, UPI (11/27/2012)
D.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. IAEA to Use Fukushima Prefecture Facility as a Base for Nuclear Crisis Cooperation, The Japan Times (11/29/2012)
    2. Nigeria Plans Safety Measures for Nuclear Power, Ventures (11/27/2012)
E.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Hackers Did Not Steal Sensitive Nuclear Information: IAEA, Reuters (11/29/2012)
    2. South Korea Finds More Nuclear Parts with Fake Documents, Reuters (11/27/2012)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Greenland Pushes on with Uranium Policy, World Nuclear News (11/28/2012)
    2. Nuclear Summit Preparatory Meeting Starts in Istanbul, China Daily (11/27/2012)

A.  Iran

Defiant Iran in Focus at UN Atomic Energy Meeting
Simon Sturdee
(for personal use only)

Iran's suspected nuclear weapons drive dominated a meeting of the UN atomic agency Thursday, a day after Tehran declared it would continue to defy UN Security Council resolutions and expand its programme.

"Now is the time for all of us to work with a sense of urgency and seize the opportunity for a diplomatic solution," International Atomic Energy Agency's chief Yukiya Amano said at the opening of the two-day meeting.

"The IAEA is firmly committed to dialogue," he said.

Western countries were expected to refrain from seeking a censure motion from the 35-nation IAEA board against Iran during the meeting, in part to give renewed diplomatic efforts a chance to resolve the long-running crisis.

In September, 31 countries backed a resolution of "serious concern that Iran continues to defy" six UN Security Council resolutions for it to suspend its uranium enrichment, which can be used for peaceful means but also for a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA'S latest report on November 16 said that Iran is ready to double production at its Fordo facility, a key site dug into a mountain, enriching uranium to purities of 20 percent, close to the level needed for bomb.

The IAEA also said that Fordo's final machinery has been installed but not yet ready to be put into operation. Once it is, Iran will be able to triple its current monthly output of 20-percent enriched uranium to some 45 kilos (100 pounds).

Israel's "red line" for military action is thought to be when Iran has produced around 250 kilos. That would be enough, if further enriched -- although such a move would be quickly detected by the IAEA -- for one nuclear weapon.

Supporting however Iran's argument that its programme is for peaceful means is the IAEA's finding that of the around 230 kilos of enriched uranium produced so far, 95 kilos have been converted for use as fuel for a reactor producing nuclear medicines.

The rate of conversion has however slowed dramatically, indicating possible technical problems, and once Fordo is fully up and running, Iran will be producing far more material than its civilian facilities need, experts say.

Iran's nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, who in September alleged the IAEA was infiltrated by saboteurs and "terrorists", sounded a defiant note on Wednesday by saying that Iran would continue "with force" to install more centrifuges and increase enrichment.

This was in spite of the four rounds of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, which in combination with additional Western restrictions have began to cause real problems for the Iranian economy this year.

He also said that Iran would "soon test" its new heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak, which Western nations fear could produce weapons-grade plutonium.

His comments came also as renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis gather pace following a hiatus of several months caused in part by the lengthy US presidential election campaign won by Barack Obama on November 6.

The P5+1 powers -- the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- held a meeting in Brussels last week and said afterwards they want talks with Iran "as soon as possible." This may happen as soon as in December.

Parallel diplomatic efforts between the IAEA and Iran, focused on what the agency calls "overall, credible" evidence of past weapons research work, are meanwhile set to resume on December 13 in Tehran.

The IAEA's report also said that Iran, the only country with an operating nuclear reactor that does not adhere to the post-Chernobyl Convention on Nuclear Safety, has unloaded fuel at the Bushehr plant, shutting it down.

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told AFP that the move at Iran's only operating nuclear power plant was a "normal technical procedure" but Western diplomats said it raised fresh questions about safety there.

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Iran Will Enrich Uranium 'with Force': Atomic Chief
Farhad Pouladi
(for personal use only)

Iran on Wednesday said it will pursue "with force" the sensitive work of enriching uranium, which lies at the heart of the international community's concerns over its atomic drive.

The remarks, by Iran's nuclear chief, come ahead of a meeting Thursday in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over lack of progress in its efforts to verify whether Tehran's atomic activities are peaceful.

"We will continue enrichment with force," Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, was quoted as saying by official Iranian media.

"Despite (international) sanctions, we have had a significant increase in the number of old and new generation centrifuges and enrichment and we will continue this development in this (Iranian) year" ending March 2013, he said.

Since 2007, Iran has been slapped by several United Nations and Western sanctions for pursuing its nuclear programme, which the international community suspects of having a military dimension -- a charge vehemently denied by Tehran.

The United Nations has passed six resolutions urging Tehran to stop enriching uranium, but Iranian officials have insisted they would pursue the process and not give in to sanctions.

Iran maintains it has a right to undertake the process as the Islamic republic is signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The IAEA in its November report reiterated that it was "unable... to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

The five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, known as the P5+1 group and who have been negotiating in vain for the past three years with Iran, proposed last week to resume "as soon as possible" further talks with Tehran after the failure of the previous dialogue held in June in Moscow.

Tehran has not responded publicly to the proposal.

Abbasi Davani meanwhile said Iran would "soon test" its heavy water reactor which is under construction at the central town of Arak with "virtual fuel."

The IAEA noted in its report that Tehran was six months behind the earlier planned date of commissioning of the facility in the first quarter of 2014.

"Despite rumours, I say it with determination that with God's help and the effort exerted by our experts the Arak reactor is on schedule and is progressing without any problems," he said.

The nuclear chief said, without elaborating, that Iran was going ahead with caution on the reactor because of "security and safety issues since the enemy wants to inflict damage to the reactor."
"Other than that there is no technical problem," he said.

The heavy water nuclear reactor has been condemned by the Security Council and is being closely monitored by the IAEA.

The reactor does not require enriched uranium but uses plutonium which may have military applications.

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Spanish Company Embroiled in Nuclear Smuggling Scheme with Iran
Reuters and Moscow Times
(for personal use only)

A company from Spain's Basque country smuggled machinery to Iran for likely use in the country's nuclear programme through an elaborate scheme involving a shell company in Turkey, Spanish tax authorities said on Monday.

Spain's tax agency said the company had managed to send over seven machines designed to make parts for turbines used in energy plants, in a scheme that violated United Nations security council sanctions against Iran.

A source close to the operation named the company involved as ONA Electroerosion.

The machines, sold for nearly 1 million euros ($1.30 million), were destined for use in Iran's nuclear development programme, according to the agency's investigations to date.

The U.N., the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt nuclear enrichment, which Western powers fear is part of a plan to amass the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran argues its atomic work is for use in medicine and generating electricity.

The company, based in the Basque municipality of Durango, had been denied a license to export seven fan-manufacturing machines to Iran in September 2009, precisely because of fears they could be used in the nuclear programme.

But it later duped Spanish customs by using an intermediary company set up in Turkey by its Iranian business partner, and shipped the machinery to Istanbul before dispatching it to Tehran.

Spain's tax agency said it had raided the company's premises on Nov. 13, removing documents and other information it was still analysing.

Its operation, dubbed "Kakum", began earlier this year, when it became suspicious of the company's activities.

No one has yet been arrested or charged in relation to the scheme, the agency said, though added those responsible could face prison sentences and a fine of close to 6 million euros.

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B.  North Korea

North Korea Pushing Ahead with new Nuclear Reactor: IAEA
Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

North Korea has made further progress in the construction of a new atomic reactor, the U.N. nuclear chief reported on Thursday, a facility that may extend the country's capacity to produce material for nuclear bombs.

Pyongyang "has continued construction of the light water reactor and largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings," Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said.

But, he told the IAEA's 35-nation governing board that the U.N. agency "remains unable to determine the reactor's design features or the likely date for its commissioning."

North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Pakistan.

The light-water reactor is being built at the North's main Yongbyon nuclear facility, which consists of a five-megawatt reactor, a fuel fabrication facility and a plutonium reprocessing plant where weapons-grade material has been extracted from spent fuel rods.

North Korea was the first country to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and has denied IAEA access to its atomic sites, reneging on a February deal to do so after it announced plans to launch a long-range rocket, in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

It was believed earlier this year to be pushing ahead with plans for a third nuclear test.

Amano said he remained "seriously concerned" about the North's nuclear program, which his inspectors can only monitor via satellite images.

In May, website 38North said North Korea had resumed construction work on the experimental light water reactor (ELWR) after stopping in December.

38North - run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University and former U.S. State Department official Joel Wit - said the ELWR, when operational, could produce enough material for an additional nuclear bomb each year.

U.S. expert David Albright has estimated a higher potential production of about 20 kg of weapon-grade plutonium a year, enough material for four nuclear weapons or more. But he said it could also produce electricity.

A highly enriched uranium program running alongside this could allow North Korea to increase significantly the number of nuclear devices it could produce, giving it a dual track to nuclear weapons as it has big reserves of uranium.

Amano said: "While the agency continues to monitor the reported uranium enrichment facility, using satellite imagery, its configuration and operational status cannot be established."

North Korea carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and is under heavy U.N. sanctions for its atomic weapons program.

The IAEA said in August that "significant progress" had been made in the light water reactor's construction since a year earlier, including placing a dome on the containment building.

Also in August, the Institute for Science and International Security - founded by Albright - said satellite imagery from May and June showed construction "progressing apace". It said the reactor could be completed in the second half of 2013.

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Satellite Photo Shows Increased Activity at N.Korean Launch Site
(for personal use only)

A new satellite image shows a marked increase in activity at a North Korean missile launch site, pointing to a possible long-range ballistic missile test by Pyongyang in the next three weeks, according to satellite operator DigitalGlobe Inc.

The imagery was released days after a Japanese newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, reported that U.S. intelligence analysts had detected moves that were seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch as early as this month.

DigitalGlobe, which provides commercial satellite imagery to the U.S. government and foreign governments, on Monday released a new image that it said showed increased activity at North Korea's Sohae (West Sea) Satellite Launch Station.

It said the imagery showed more people, trucks and other equipment at the site, a level of activity that was consistent with preparations seen before North Korea's failed April 13 rocket launch.

"Given the observed level of activity noted of a new tent, trucks, people and numerous portable fuel/oxidizer tanks, should North Korea desire, it could possibly conduct its fifth satellite launch event during the next three weeks," DigitalGlobe said in a statement accompanying the image.

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment on the reported satellite images, but said the Defense Department's position on North Korea's missile development efforts had not changed.

She urged North Korea to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions that "require Pyongyang to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and re-establish its moratorium on missile launching."

North Korea, which carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and is under heavy U.N. sanctions for its atomic weapons program, has tried for years to influence major events in South Korea by waging propaganda or armed attacks. South Korea is gearing up for a presidential election on Dec. 19.

North and South Korea have been technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and regional powers have for years been trying to rein in the North's nuclear program.

North Korea is believed to be developing a long-range ballistic missile with a range of up to 4,200 miles (6,700 km) aimed at hitting the continental United States but the last two rocket test launches failed.

In April, under its new leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea launched a rocket that flew just a few minutes covering a little over 60 miles (100 km) before crashing into the sea between South Korea and China.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

China’s 2015 Nuclear Power Capacity to Account for 10pc of World’s Total
South China Morning Post
(for personal use only)

China’s installed nuclear power capacity in 2015 will reach 42GW, accounting for 10 per cent of the world’s total, the official Xinhua news agency reported, quoting an industry executive.

By 2015 or slightly later, there will be 41 operating nuclear power units in the country, the report quoted Zhang Huazhu, chairman of industry body China Nuclear Energy Association, as saying.

Last month the government said China would approve a small number of new nuclear reactors before 2015 to be built only in coastal regions.

The approval of new nuclear safety and development plans came after a near 20-month ban by Beijing on approvals of new plants following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Before Fukushima, many in the sector were expecting China to set a 2020 capacity target of around 80-90GW, up from the current 12.57GW. The new target has now been scaled back to 58GW.

China currently has six power plants and 15 working nuclear power units producing nearly 3.5 per cent of the world’s total electricity generated by nuclear power, according to the Xinhua report. Nuclear power accounts for 1.85 per cent of China’s total electricity generation.

“[By 2015], China will be building nearly 20 extra nuclear power plants ... With their good performances and the carefully chosen locations of the sites, China’s nuclear power plants have little chance of repeating what happened in Fukushima,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

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France Will Need Energy Spending After Atomic Debate, Batho Says
Tara Patel, Bloomberg
(for personal use only)

France’s energy future, to be decided by a national debate starting tomorrow, will require “considerable” extra investment in the coming years, according to Environment and Energy Minister Delphine Batho.

The government-led debate stems from a pledge by President Francois Hollande to cut the country’s reliance on nuclear power. Electricite de France SA’s 58 atomic reactors currently provide more than three-quarters of electricity, a proportion Hollande vowed to reduce to 50 percent by around 2025.

“Whatever the outcome, we will have to surmount a peak in investment,” Batho told a power producers’ conference in Paris today. The debate will take about six months and lead to a law she has said will provide a roadmap for France’s power production in the coming decades.

“The energy world needs planning,” Batho said. “There is nothing to fear from this debate and everything to gain.”

Hollande decided in September to shut EDF’s oldest reactor at Fessenheim in 2016 as well as maintaining a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to produce oil and gas from shale rock. Other decisions on energy have been pushed back until after the national consultation.

The debate’s outcome may determine how long EDF is allowed to operate existing reactors and whether it will have to shut more by the end of the decade. While Batho didn’t provide clues on nuclear reactors, she said France should develop more renewable energy and ensure that its carbon emissions don’t increase because of possible changes in its energy mix.

“Whatever direction is chosen at the end, we will need lots and lots of capital,” Laurence Parisot, head of the employers’ organization Medef, told the conference today. “We will be taking decisions that could impact us for the next 30 years.”

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First Step in Permission for Nuclear Plant
Power Engineering
(for personal use only)

The first new site licence for a UK nuclear power station in 25 years has been granted to EDF's proposed Hinkley Point plant.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has approved the site for NNB Generation Company (NNB GenCo), a subsidiary of the French energy giant which wants to build a new nuclear power station at the Somerset site.

The independent regulator said the move did not give the company the go-ahead to start construction of the reactor, but was a significant step towards building the first of a new generation of nuclear power plants.

Chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman said: "Although a significant step, it is important to note that granting a nuclear site licence does not constitute permission to start construction of a nuclear safety-related plant.

"That requires permission from the Office for Nuclear Regulation, permits from the Environment Agency and planning consent from the Secretary of State."

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy director of nuclear new builds, said: "The proposed new power station in Somerset will provide enough low carbon electricity to power five million homes and its construction will create around 25,000 jobs at the site alone, giving a real boost to the economy.

"However, there is still a great deal of work to be done before this nationally significant infrastructure project can become a reality."

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Nuclear Power Key Issue in Japan Elections
(for personal use only)

A new political party, expected to become the unifying force of an anti-nuclear energy coalition, has been formed in Japan ahead of next month's elections for the lower house of Parliament.

The upcoming vote would be the first national election since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

In announcing the Japan Future Party on Tuesday, Shiga prefecture Gov. Yukiko Kada, an environmental sociologist, said the phasing out of nuclear power would be one of her party's six key policy issues, Asahi Shimbun reports.

Prior to the Fukushima crisis, nuclear power provided 30 percent of Japan's electricity, making it the world's third-biggest nuclear generator. The government had aimed to increase that percentage to 50 by 2030.

Currently only two of Japan's 50 reactors are in operation.

The future of Japan's nuclear power generation is expected to be a key issue in the Dec. 16 elections.

While a number of Japan's small political parties oppose nuclear power, they have failed to build anti-nuclear momentum on their own, the Asahi Shimbun report says. But if Kada can round up those parties and other anti-nuclear politicians, her party could become a key player in the elections, rivaling the Japan Restoration Party to challenge the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan is expected to include its target of "zero nuclear power plants" operating in the 2030s, as stated in its Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment policy released in September.

The LDP hasn't clearly stated its position on the issue, the newspaper reports, but the party was a staunch supporter of nuclear energy until its defeat in the 2009 election.

In an interview Monday with Bloomberg News, party Chairman Hiroyuki Hosoda, citing energy prices, said "we are clearly in a situation where we need to restart the nuclear reactors."

Post-Fukushima, Japan's power utilities had little choice but to import more liquefied natural gas.

In 2011, Japan's total LNG purchases increased more than 50 percent year on year, reaching an all-time high of $60.3 billion, says the Japan External Trade Organization, resulting in Japan's first trade deficit in 31 years.

An editorial Monday in the Yomiuri Shimbun said the Fukushima crisis has resulted in the public becoming increasingly anxious over the safety of nuclear reactors and urged the government to "take all possible measures to boost their safety and prevent a similar crisis from occurring."

Noting that Japan's self-sufficiency in energy is just 4 percent, however, the editorial said it was "unrealistic for the nation to immediately abandon nuclear power."

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D.  Nuclear Cooperation

IAEA to Use Fukushima Prefecture Facility as a Base for Nuclear Crisis Cooperation
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)

The International Atomic Energy Agency plans to use a Fukushima Prefectural Government facility as a base for joint operations to deal with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdown crisis, Japanese government sources said Wednesday.

The IAEA and the prefecture will open the base, which will engage in such operations as radiation decontamination and health management services for local citizens, in the first half of next year.

They are now drafting a cooperation agreement for Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato and IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to sign at a high-level meeting starting Dec. 15 in the city of Koriyama.

The IAEA has sent teams to help Fukushima deal with the crisis, which started when tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake overwhelmed the ill-protected Pacific coastal complex.

In late August, Gov. Sato asked the IAEA chief in Vienna to work with the prefecture in efforts to decontaminate radioactive areas and dispatch experts. Amano accepted the request. Details regarding the nature of the joint operational base, the public health management program and the decontamination work were not specified.

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Nigeria Plans Safety Measures for Nuclear Power
(for personal use only)

The Nigerian government has stressed its commitment to engage the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and relevant stakeholders, in ensuring safe application of radioactive materials in its quest for power generation to drive economic growth. The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke stated this in Abuja at a workshop on Design Basis Threat (DBT) organised by the country’s nuclear power regulatory body, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), in conjunction with the IAEA, the world governing body for nuclear activities.

According to Nigerian daily, ThisDay, the minister said Nigeria’s choice of power generation from nuclear sources would come with various challenges that require urgent attention as the nation has had no experience with nuclear power generation.

“A very key factor is the issue of security of radioactive sources and nuclear materials in various applications, the decision of the government of Nigeria to harness nuclear technology for electricity generation will definitely present a new set of challenges for NNRA in terms of manpower development due to the peculiarities of the nuclear power programme,” Alison-Madueke said.

Consequently, the country has put in place adequate measures aimed at developing it’s internal capacity in threat assessment, systematic strengthening of security of nuclear material and other radioactive sources and facilities in the country, in line with existing international regulations and standard.

In his remark at the workshop, Mr. Muhammed Khaliq, an IAEA official, stated that the DBT workshop, which the agency usually provides to its member countries, is aimed at disseminating information about nuclear energy development.

“IAEA, besides other activities, helps the member states to identify the threats and vulnerability related to the security of nuclear and other radioactive material,” he said.

“Physical protection systems are intended to prevent unacceptable consequences arising from malicious activities and in this regard there is no room for lacklustre attitude because the more serious the consequences, the more important it is to have a high degree of confidence that physical protection will be safe and effective as planned,” he added.

Nigeria, Africa’s second largest economy has been pushing to increase power generation through various sources to drive economic growth. Today, its state-owned oil energy corporation, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) disclosed it had achieved sufficient gas supply for its planned Gas-to-Power project.

The country has also privatized its state-owned electricity body, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in the bid to raise funds from the private sector for sufficient power generation and distribution.

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E.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Hackers Did Not Steal Sensitive Nuclear Information: IAEA
(for personal use only)

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said on Thursday a hacking incident involving one of its servers was "deeply regrettable" but suggested that no sensitive information related to Iran's atomic activities had been stolen.

Yukiya Amano said the hacking - first reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday - had happened several months ago and that the server concerned had been closed down.

The hackers - a group using an Iranian-sounding name - on Sunday posted scores of email addresses of experts who have been working with the U.N. agency on a website, and urged the IAEA to investigate Israel's nuclear activity.

The U.N. agency did not say who it believed might have been behind the hacking. There has been an increase in suspected Iranian cyber attacks this year, coinciding with a deepening standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear program.

The most worrying, experts say, were those on Saudi oil firm Aramco - effectively destroying tens of thousands of computers - and Qatari gas export facilities.

Iranian officials have tended to deny involvement. But they say they have continued to come under cyber assault themselves, with systems at Iran's own oil facilities, communications and infrastructure firms suffering problems last month.

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South Korea Finds More Nuclear Parts with Fake Documents
(for personal use only)

South Korean nuclear regulators have discovered nearly a thousand more parts supplied for nuclear power plants with fake quality certificates, they said on Tuesday, adding that this would not lead to further reactor shutdowns.

Revelations that fake certificates were supplied by eight firms forced the shutdown of two of the country's 23 reactors this month, raising the risk of winter power shortages.

A third reactor was subjected to an extended maintenance period after microscopic cracks were found in tunnels that guide control rods. Nuclear normally accounts for a third of South Korea's power supplies.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said further investigation had uncovered 919 parts of 53 items supplied by two new firms with forged quality documents. Most had been fitted in six reactors -- five of which were already affected by the earlier revelations.

"We see it as possible for now to change the parts without shutting more reactors down," a commission spokeswoman told Reuters by telephone.

Six reactors are offline now, according to government data.

Authorities in Asia's fourth-largest economy, heavily dependent on oil and gas imports, have said they may have to introduce rolling blackouts this winter as the grid will have less than a third of normal reserve capacity.

The country's sole power transmitter and distributor, Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), said it would hold a drill on Wednesday to check for stable power supply and gauge the chances of outages this winter.

Authorities have stressed that the parts - such as fuses, switches and heat sensors - are not crucial to the nuclear process and there is no safety risk.

The Korean government has been criticized for a lack of transparency over safety in its nuclear program and for the dual supervisory and promotion roles of its regulators.

Public opinion is traditionally pro-nuclear, although an opposition lawmaker has pressed the government to resume publishing polls on nuclear safety after a loss of confidence in the sector following last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises industrialized nations and represents 28 oil importing countries, said last week that South Korea needed to rebuild public trust in nuclear power by boosting transparency and improving regulation.

In the first revelations this month, eight firms were found to have submitted 60 false certificates to cover more than 7,000 parts mostly used in the two reactors that were shut. That sparked an inspection in all 23 reactors as well as five under construction.

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F.  Links of Interest

Greenland Pushes on with Uranium Policy
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

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Nuclear Summit Preparatory Meeting Starts in Istanbul
China Daily
(for personal use only)

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