1. Iran Seeks to Boost Nuclear Work in Bunker: Diplomats
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Iran is believed to be carrying out preparations to expand nuclear activity deep inside a mountain, diplomats say, in a further sign of defiance in the face of intensifying Western pressure to curb its sensitive uranium enrichment drive.
Increased capacity at the Fordow underground site would probably heighten Western suspicion of Iran's intentions, after it last month started refining uranium there to a level that cuts the time it would need for any nuclear weapons bid.
A senior team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) failed again this week to get the Islamic state to start addressing their mounting concerns about its nuclear work and returned empty handed to Vienna after two days of talks in Iran.
The setback increased worries about a downward spiral towards conflict between the Islamic Republic and the West, and sent oil prices to a nine-month high.
The U.N. agency is now putting the finishing touches to its next report on Iran, expected to include information on the Tehran talks as well as more detail on the status of the Fordow plant near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom.
"I think we will see a jump in the potential state of readiness of the facility," one Vienna-based envoy said.
Fordow is of particular concern for the West and Israel as Iran is shifting the most controversial aspect of its nuclear work, refining uranium to a level that takes it significantly closer to potential bomb material, to the site.
Estimated to be buried beneath 80 meters (265 feet) of rock and soil, it gives Iran better protection against any Israeli or U.S. military strikes.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has warned that the Islamic state's nuclear research could soon pass into what he called a "zone of immunity," protected from outside disruption.
In a report issued on Thursday, the International Crisis Group think-tank said prospects for a military confrontation erupting in the long-running nuclear row, though still unlikely, appeared "higher than ever." "As Israel sees it, the nuclear program represents a serious threat; the time when Iran's putative efforts to build a bomb will become immune to a strike is fast approaching; and military action in the near future - perhaps as early as this year - therefore is a real possibility," it said.
A Western official said Fordow was a very sensitive issue: "I'm not quite sure the Iranians understand they are playing with fire there." Iran last month said it had started to refine uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, compared with the 3.5 percent normally used for nuclear power plants, at Fordow.
Soon afterwards, it doubled production capacity to a total of more than 600 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Fordow, diplomats have told Reuters.
Iran now appears to be making preparations for a further increase in the number of the cylindrical machines, spinning at supersonic speeds to increase the concentration of the fissile U-235 isotope, at the facility.
"They are working towards full installation," said another diplomat in the Austrian capital. "But they are not installed and ready to operate yet."
Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to 90 percent, but Western experts say much of the effort required to get there is already achieved once it reaches 20 percent concentration, shortening the time needed for any nuclear weapons "break-out."
Olli Heinonen, a former head of safeguards inspections at the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, said he believed its next report would include information about the progress in setting up the required infrastructure for enrichment at Fordow.
But diplomats said they expected Iran to mainly keep using old-generation centrifuges, not the newer and more efficient models which it has tried for several years to develop. "I don't have any indications that cascades of new machines are ready to be operated," one of them said.
Neither Iranian officials nor officials at the Vienna-based IAEA, which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites including Fordow, were available for comment.
The United States and its allies say Iran is trying to develop the means to make atomic bombs. The Islamic Republic maintains that its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and isotopes for medical treatment.
Iran said last year that it would transfer its highest-grade uranium refinement work to Fordow from an above-ground research and development facility at its main enrichment plant at Natanz, and sharply boost capacity.
It says it will use 20 percent-enriched uranium to convert into fuel for a research reactor making isotopes to treat cancer patients, but Western officials say they doubt Iran has the capability to do that on an industrial scale.
In addition, they say, Fordow's capacity - up to 3,000 centrifuges - is too small to produce the fuel needed for nuclear power plants, but ideal for yielding smaller amounts of high-enriched product typical of a nuclear weapons program.
Western officials believe Iran has not yet decided whether it will indeed "weaponize" enrichment, but rather is seeking now solely to establish the industrial and scientific capacity to do so if needed for military and security contingencies.
Iran disclosed the existence of Fordow to the IAEA only in September 2009, at least two years after construction began, after learning that Western spy services had detected it.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/23/us-nuclear-iran-iaea-idUSTRE81M0RL20120223
The U.N. nuclear watchdog's latest mission to Iran failed to budge a defiant Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme, sending oil prices to a nine-month high over fears of an increasing risk of confrontation with the West.
The United States criticised Iran on Wednesday over the collapse of the International Atomic Energy Agency's talks in Tehran, saying it again showed the Islamic Republic's refusal to abide by international obligations over its nuclear programme.
Expressing defiance, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran's nuclear policies would not change despite mounting international pressure against what the West says are Tehran's plans to obtain nuclear bombs.
"With God's help, and without paying attention to propaganda, Iran's nuclear course should continue firmly and seriously," he said on state TV. "Pressures, sanctions and assassinations will bear no fruit. No obstacles can stop Iran's nuclear work."
A team from the Vienna-based IAEA had hoped to inspect a site at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, where the agency believes there is a facility to test explosives. But the IAEA said Iran "did not grant permission".
The failure of the two-day IAEA visit could hamper any resumption of wider nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers - the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany - as the sense grows that Tehran feels it is being backed into a corner.
The standoff has rattled oil markets. On Wednesday, London-traded benchmark Brent crude for April delivery rose for a third day - up $1.24 a barrel at $122.90, a nine-month high. U.S. crude futures for April were up 3 cents at $106.28 a barrel.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States was evaluating Iran's intentions.
"This particular action (over the IAEA mission) by Iran suggests that they have not changed their behaviour when it comes to abiding by their international obligations," Carney told reporters. Iran rejects accusations that its nuclear programme is a covert bid to develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying it is seeking to produce only electricity.
As Western sanctions mount, ordinary Iranians are suffering from the effects of soaring prices and a collapsing currency. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed over the past two years in bomb attacks that Tehran has blamed on its arch-adversary Israel.
Major oil importer Japan was in final talks with Washington on an agreement for cuts in Iranian crude oil imports that could amount to a higher-than-expected 20 percent or more a year, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
China, India and Japan, the top three buyers of Iranian oil, are all planning cuts of at least 10 percent. They buy about 45 percent of Tehran's crude exports.
In response to Western pressure and sanctions, Iran has issued a series of statements asserting its right to self-defence and threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil tanker route. The collapse of the nuclear talks occurred as Iran seems increasingly isolated, with some experts seeing Tehran's defiance in response to sanctions against its oil industry and financial institutions as evidence that it is in no mood to compromise with the West.
Parliamentary elections on March 2 are expected to be won by supporters of Khamenei, an implacable enemy of the West.
The United States and Israel have not ruled out using force against Iran if they conclude that diplomacy and sanctions will not stop it from developing a nuclear bomb.
In Jerusalem, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed appeals by world powers to avoid any pre-emptive attacks against Iran's nuclear programme.
Lieberman said that "with all due respect I have for the United States and Russia, it's none of their business. The security of Israel and its residents, Israel's future, is the responsibility of Israel's government."
The failure of the IAEA's mission may increase the chances of a strike by Israel on Iran, some analysts say.
But this would be "catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.
Referring to Iran's role in the failure of the IAEA mission, French Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said: "It is another missed opportunity. This refusal to cooperate adds to the recent statements made by Iranian officials welcoming the progress of their nuclear activities."
In the view of some analysts, the Iranians may be trying to keep their opponents guessing as to their capabilities, a diplomatic strategy that has served them well in the past.
"But they may be overdoing the smoke and mirrors and as a result leaving themselves more vulnerable," said professor Rosemary Hollis of London's City University.
Iranian analyst Mohammad Marandi said providing the West with any more access than necessary to nuclear sites would be a sign of weakness.
"Under the current conditions it is not in Iran's interest to cooperate more than is necessary because the West is waging a war against the Iranian nation," he told Reuters.
Earlier, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Tehran expected to hold more talks with the U.N. agency, but IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's spokeswoman said no further meetings were planned.
"During both the first and second round of discussions, the agency team requested access to the military site at Parchin. Iran did not grant permission for this visit to take place," the IAEA said in a statement.
"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin. We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached," Amano said.
A Western official, who declined to be identified, said: "We think that if Iran has nothing to hide, why do they behave in that way?"
Iran's refusal to curb sensitive atomic activities which can have both civilian and military purposes and its record of years of nuclear secrecy have drawn increasingly tough U.N. and separate U.S. and European measures.
An IAEA report in November suggested Iran had pursued military nuclear technology. It helped precipitate the latest sanctions by the European Union and United States.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/23/iran-nuclear-idUSL5E8DN02420120223
3. Iran Research Center Had Key Role in Atom Work, Group Says
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An Iranian research center that has been investigated by U.N. nuclear inspectors appears to have played a key role in Tehran's atomic program, which Western powers fear is aimed at producing weapons, according to a new report released on Wednesday.
The study by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) will likely cast further doubt on Tehran's denials that it is seeking atomic bombs as the U.N. nuclear agency prepares to publish a new report on Iran in the coming days.
Iran's Physics Research Center was established in 1989 "as part of an effort to create an undeclared nuclear program," according to ISIS's president David Albright, a nuclear expert and former inspector for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as Andrea Stricker and Paul Brannan. "Although Iran has admitted that the PHRC was related to the military and had a nuclear purpose in the area of defense preparedness and radiation detection, its actual nuclear role appears much more extensive," the ISIS report said.
The Iranian research center was established a year after the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, in which Saddam Hussein's troops used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers.
According to the U.N. nuclear watchdog's November 2011 report on Iran, the Physics Research Center was established at Lavizan, a complex near a military installation in Tehran.
Full story available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/22/us-iran-nuclear-report-idUSTRE81L27720120222
1. TEPCO to Cover Seabed Near Fukushima Plant to Prevent Radiation Spread
The Mainichi Daily News
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it will cover the seabed near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant with cement and clay to prevent the spread of large concentrations of radioactive substances that have accumulated there following the leak last April of highly radioactive water from the plant.
Construction for a two-layered cover over an area of around 70,000 square meters will begin Wednesday and is scheduled to take three to four months to complete, it said. The utility known as TEPCO expects the cover to be effective for 50 years.
The move is aimed at preventing the spread of radioactive materials due to waves and vessels coming in and out of the port near the plant, which has been crippled since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120222p2g00m0dm027000c.html
1. U.S. Raises Nuclear Issue in First N. Korea Talks Since Kim Died
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The U.S. is “cautiously optimistic” about talks in Beijing today with North Korea, the first such meeting since Kim Jong Il died in December and his son inherited leadership of the isolated, nuclear-armed country.
The U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, Glyn Davies, told reporters in Beijing he will hold two sessions with his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan today. He said he will raise humanitarian issues and nuclear nonproliferation.
“We’re always, I think, cautiously optimistic,” Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, said at a briefing yesterday. He wouldn’t say if the U.S. and North Korea would discuss a food aid deal, referring to the meeting as “exploratory talks.”
Today’s meetings are the third since the U.S. resumed direct talks with North Korea in efforts to bring the country back to negotiations aimed at persuading the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The U.S. seeks to gauge the country’s intentions since the younger Kim took over and ease tension between South and North Korea, analyst John Park said.
“The proposition is that by engaging North Koreans in talks, negotiations, this is an effective means by which the U.S. side can hopefully prevent future provocations by North Korea against South Korea,” Park, a fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, told Bloomberg TV today.
In a briefing yesterday, Davies said the possibility of restarting six-party talks over the North’s nuclear weapons program is up to Pyongyang. The North backed out of the talks, which include Russia, China, the U.S., Japan and the two Koreas, in April 2009 and has shown no sign since Kim Jong Un took over that it’s willing to resume them.
Also yesterday, Japanese six-party talks negotiator Shinsuke Sugiyama met his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei in Beijing to discuss the negotiations, China’s Foreign Ministry said on its website. Last October, Kim Jong Il said North Korea is ready to restart the talks as long as they occur without preconditions. The U.S. State Department said in August that North Korea must refrain from nuclear testing and missile launches and meet other conditions before the talks can resume. The North revealed a secret uranium-enrichment program in 2010.
“I find it a positive sign that relatively soon after the beginning of the transition in North Korea, the DPRK has chosen to get back to the table with us,” Davies said yesterday, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “I think that’s a good thing.”
Davies will head to South Korea on Feb. 25 to meet his counterpart there, Lim Sung Nam. Speaking at a news conference yesterday, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak said North Korea can use the leadership change to transform itself, adding that he is open to resuming dialogue provided the regime is genuinely interested.
Seoul will host a nuclear security summit on March 26-27 to discuss preventing nuclear terrorism. North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency released a report yesterday quoting government officials denouncing the planned gathering.
“We will never pardon the United States and the Lee Myung Bak regime, which push the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of war by taking issue with the DPRK’s self-defensive nuclear deterrent,” KCNA quoted Pak Song Il, deputy director of the Secretariat of the North Headquarters of the Pan-National Alliance for Korea’s Reunification, as saying.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-23/u-s-raises-nuclear-issue-in-first-n-korea-talks-since-kim-died.html
1. India plans 63,000 MW nuclear power capacity by 2032
The Economic Times
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The country plans to have a nuclear power generation capacity of 63,000 MW in the next 20 years as atomic power is advantageous in terms of transportation and storage, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said today.
"India plans to have a total installed nuclear capacity of 63,000 MWe (megawatt electric) by the year 2032 both by indigenous technology and the imported reactors as additionalities," he said while addressing a seminar at India International Nuclear Symposium.
"Nuclear technology has several distinct advantages - it is compact and highly manageable in terms of handling, transportation and storage of the fuel," he said, adding that it is greener than all other technologies of power generation.
Nuclear power generation falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Atomic Energy, a wing of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
International cooperation, including Indo-US nuclear deal, on civil nuclear collaboration is a significant move for the expansion of India's nuclear power programme.
Highlighting the challenges in the conventional power generation, Shinde said, "The thermal technologies have the problems of greenhouse gas emissions, fly-ash and handling, transportation, storage problems of large quantities of fuel as well as availability of coal."
Even though hydro power is considered as a cleaner source of energy, hydro technology has problems of submergence and geological surprises, he said.
The wind and solar power technologies are seriously limited by site specific and season specific nature of their availability, he added.
At present, 20 nuclear power reactors are in operation and seven reactors are under construction, including a 500 MWe fast breeder reactor.
Total nuclear capacity of the country stands at about 4,800 MW.
Available at: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-02-22/news/31086876_1_nuclear-power-nuclear-capacity-power-generation
2. India, Pak Agree to Extend Nuclear Risk Reduction Pact for 5 Years
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India and Pakistan on Tuesday announced that they had agreed to extend a pact on reducing the risk from accidents related to nuclear weapons for another five years.
The two sides agreed to extend the validity of the ’Agreement on Reducing the Risk from Accidents Relating to Nuclear Weapons’ for five years with effect from today in line with an understanding reached during the sixth round of bilateral expert-level talks on nuclear confidence building measures held in Islamabad on December 27, 2011.
The agreement had entered into force on February 21, 2007 for an initial duration of five years, said a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office.
“It aims at reducing the risk from accidents related to nuclear weapons,” it said.
During the talks held in December, India and Pakistan decided to move forward on proposals to extend two key agreements related to pre-notification of ballistic missile tests and reducing the risk from accidents related to nuclear weapons.
The two sides reviewed a range of existing nuclear and conventional CBMs and discussed proposals for additional measures in areas where the two countries could make forward movement.
A proposal for an agreement to prevent “incidents at sea”, involving naval vessels of the two countries, also came up during those talks.
The talks on nuclear and conventional CBMs were part of the peace process that resumed last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2916521.ece
Tapping its abundant thorium reserves, the Government has decided to commence the construction of 300-MW thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor in the next 18 months, a senior official said on Tuesday.
“Under the third stage of nuclear programme based on thorium utilisation, a reactor of 300 MW will be constructed in a year and a half from now..,” Kalpakkam-based Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research Director, Mr S.C. Chetal, told reporters here.
“The work for that will commence in the next Five-Year Plan,” he said on the sidelines of a function. According to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), the currently known thorium reserves in India amount to 3,58,000 GWe-yr of electrical energy and can “easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond.” Mr Chetal said, a technology to separate uranium from thorium was being developed by BARC in the third phase of its nuclear programme.
India was also having collaboration with France and the US.
“We will have reactors at different parts of the country... at Jaitapur in Maharashtra with the help of the French (1,650 MW) and with US, sites are being identified and target for nuclear energy is 20,000 MW. Today we have 4,780 MW,” he said.
Asked whether States were keen to set up nuclear power facilities, he replied in the affirmative. “In fact, the rush is much from various States which are not able to fulfil (energy) requirements. For example, we have potential sites at Hisar in Haryana and sites in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. We have demand from every State.”
A large part of construction of India's first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam had been completed. .
“As of last month, 81.5 per cent of the construction is over,” Mr Prabhat Kumar, Project Director, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd, said.
Available at: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/economy/article2916878.ece?ref=wl_industry-and-economy
1. Kuwait Scraps Nuclear Power in Light of Fukushima Crisis
The Mainichi Daily News
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Kuwait is no longer pursuing nuclear power following the disaster in Japan, scrapping a plan last July to build four reactors by 2022, officials of a Kuwaiti government research body told Kyodo News and other media Tuesday.
While a number of countries, such as Germany, Switzerland and Italy, have decided to turn away from nuclear power due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis, it is rare for a country which has signed a civil nuclear power cooperation agreement with Japan to do so.
Nuclear energy was intended to be part of Kuwait's strategy to preserve its oil resources and it had set up a national nuclear energy committee in 2009.
But in July, four months after the radiation-leaking crisis broke out at the Fukushima plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, emir of Kuwait, issued an order to dissolve the committee, according to Osama Al-Sayegh, a research scientist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.
Some of the duties previously undertaken by the committee are now assigned to the institute. Al-Sayegh and two of his colleagues told reporters that after the Fukushima accident, public opinion questioning why it was necessary to build nuclear reactors in Kuwait grew much stronger. Kuwait, with its limited land area, also faced the problem of securing space to store radioactive wastes from the reactors, they said.
In addition to Japan, the major oil producing country has also signed agreements with the United States, France and Russia to boost cooperation in atomic energy and the development of nuclear plants, among other areas.
Available at: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120222p2g00m0dm102000c.html
2. Power Hungry China May Restart Nuclear Projects in April
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China, the world’s largest energy consumer by some measures, could restart approving new nuclear projects as early as the end of April if the government approves two industry plans, local news portal sina.com reported, citing unnamed industry sources.
The National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner, is currently reviewing the Nuclear Power Mid-to Long-Term Plan, while a separate plan regarding nuclear safety has been revised and returned to the State Council, China’s cabinet, for approval, the sources said.
Those plans could be passed as early as April, following which Beijing could resume assessing and approving new nuclear projects. China suspended new projects after last year’s nuclear safety incident in Japan.
In a sign of the determination of the government to ensure safety, officials in an earthquake prone region earlier this month ordered construction on a nuclear power station to be stopped immediately. China plans to have 80 million kilowatts of installed capacity at its nuclear plants by 2020, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a Feb.14 report. That is double the 40 million kilowatts capacity (including 27 plants under construction) the China Nuclear Energy Association says is currently installed.
The NEA report, which surprised analysts who had been expecting a planned total of 60-70 million kilowatts by 2020, underscores the nation’s determination to proceed with nuclear power to fuel its development and economic growth.
Available at: http://en.21cbh.com/HTML/2012-2-22/3MMjQ5XzIxMTc3MA.html
3. Saudi Arabia's Road Map to Nuclear Energy Outlined
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Dr. Abdullah M. Al-Shehri, Governor of the Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA), Tuesday outlined Saudi Arabia's road map in building its nuclear capabilities for peaceful means.
Speaking here at the conclusion of the First Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), he revealed five key requirements for building a national nuclear program. "First, we need to secure international cooperation; second, come up with long term planning; third, study the required safety measures mandated by the international community; fourth, ensure we have the needed fuel supply; and fifth, we must prepare a national workforce that is educated in nuclear engineering and operation," Al-Shehri said.
These directions, he said, will be undertaken by the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE), the national agency established last year tasked with formulating nuclear development and application strategies. KA-CARE will be headquartered in the "Atomic City" now being built in Riyadh.
"We are now weighing our options and deciding whether the Kingdom will do it alone or participate with others in the various nuclear program projects. We also need to secure uranium supply agreements," Al-Shehri said.
Al-Shehri said the nuclear road map will also require funding support for construction, maintenance of the facilities when already operational, safety procedures and decommissioning, and radioactive waste management.
Dr. Maher A. Alodan, Consultant at KA-CARE, addressing the same conference, said the Kingdom's nuclear energy development plan is purely for innovative nuclear technology development. He said the nuclear energy plan will include medical and industrial application; nuclear fuel management research; safety, safeguard and security system analysis; radioactive waste management systems; radiation protection and modeling; and environmental monitoring and protection and human demographics.
Delegates to the conference have concluded that nuclear power is a vital component in the Saudi energy mix.
The immediate thrust, they said, is for Saudi Arabia to embark on photovoltaic and thermal solar energy development.
Available at: http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20120222042858
1. Britain and France Collaborating on Nuclear Projects
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Britain and France confirmed mutual interest in a nuclear power commitment, declaring their desire to see a strategic nuclear industry partnership emerge. The countries also expect to cooperate on educational development and responsible risk management of potential nuclear emergencies.
A series of commercial contracts regarding the construction of nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom were signed at a summit last week. The AREVA Group, AMEC, Assystem, Electricité de France SA, Rolls-Royce, and a joint venture between Kier and BAM were involved.
Full story available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/britain-and-france-collaborating-on-nuclear-projects-2012-2
2. Russians Already Building Reactor Vessel for Bulgaria’s Belene NPP
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Russia's Izhorskiye Zavody, part of OMZ Group, has launched check assemble of the reactor vessel VVER-1000 for the first energy unit at Bulgaria's Belene NPP, even though Bulgaria is yet to say officially whether it wants the power plant.
For the first two reactors of the second Bulgarian nuclear power plant Izhorskiye Zavody plans to produce 2 reactor vessels internals, 2 top blocks, 2 pressurizers, 8 blocks of steam generators with collectors of the coolant (steam generators, four corps had already been shipped to OJSC ZIO- Podolsk), 2 sets of units for the main circulation pipeline, as well as eight accumulator tanks of the core emergency cooling system and 16 tanks of passive protection of the reactor core, 4-traders has informed.
The check assembly of the reactor vessel internals and the cover of the upper unit is one of the final stages in the manufacturing process of the reactor vessel prior to delivery to the customer. Bulgaria has been haggling with Russia's state corporation Rosatom and its subsidiary Atomstroyexport for the price of the 2000 MW Belene NPP – and for other issues – for years.
After it was first started in the 1980s, the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube was stopped in the early 1990s over lack of money and environmental protests. After selecting the Russian company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, to build a two 1000-MW reactors at Belene and signing a deal for the construction, allegedly for the price of EUR 3.997 B, with the Russians during Putin's visit to Sofia in January 2008, in September 2008, former Prime Minister Stanishev gave a formal restart of the building of Belene. At the end of 2008, German energy giant RWE was selected as a strategic foreign investor for the plant.
The Belene NPP was de facto frozen in the fall of 2009 when the previously selected strategic investor, the German company RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B in exchange for a 49% stake, pulled out.
Available at: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=136907
3. Turkey Mulls Cooperation with China in Nuclear Energy
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Turkey's first nuclear power plant in the country's southern province of Mersin will be built by Russia under an agreement signed in May 2010 and the construction is planned to begin in 2013.
Turkey has expressed willingness to do nuclear business with China in Ankara's declared drive to build three nuclear power plants in the next decade as talks with South Korea and Japan were underway with an already-wrapped-up deal with Russia for Turkey's first ever nuke plant.
"A process of dialogue will begin between the Turkish Energy Ministry and our Chinese counterparts," Ali Babacan, Turkish deputy premier, told reporters Wednesday after a business forum meeting between China and Turkey in Istanbul.
"For the first plant we have agreed with Russia. And for the second one, we are negotiating with Japan and South Korea. But there is a third nuclear plant project we aim to do. And it depends on the course the talks will take whether the second or the third plant would be commissioned to the Chinese," Babacan said.
Available at: http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=86181
US export control regime has become a major stumbling block for concluding commercial nuclear agreements under the four-year-old Indo-US civil nuclear agreement signed in 2008 for peaceful uses of nuclear power.
US nuclear suppliers on Wednesday identified their own country’s control regime as the spoil sport for entering into agreements with Indian companies. The most immediate concern for the two US nuclear majors – GE and Westinghouse – is a specific provision in the US export control rules under which they have to obtain clearance from the US government not only for supplying reactors to NPCIL but also for other Indian companies involved in constructing a nuclear power plant.
“The 810 licence in the US export control regime is the most immediate issue,” Aris S Candris, president and chief executive officer of Westinghouse told Deccan Herald on the sidelines of an international nuclear symposium here.
At the symposium organised by the World Nuclear Association, both Westinghouse and GE flagged 810 licence as the most immediate stumbling block to kick-start nuclear commerce between the two countries, though both admitted that stiff Indian nuclear liability regime posed another big hurdle. India currently plans to purchase two AP-1000 light water reactors from Westinghouse to install in Chhaya Mithi Virdi in Gujarat and two 1000 MW reactors from GE for Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh. However, land acquisition process has not started yet.
Candris said Westinghouse obtained the 810 approval for the Indian operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India and regulator, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. But it needed similar clearance for other nuclear industry players like Larsen and Toubro as well as other companies who will be engaged in constructing nuclear power plant.
“Its an issue with the US administration. The approval boils down to every company and to individuals. Same time was taken by the US administration before supplying reactors to China. We have obtained the shipping licence from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Candris said.
According to the US department of commerce, Part 810 refers to the process set forth in 10 Code of Federal Regulations. Under the US Atomic Energy Act of 1957, it authorises the US Secretary of Energy to give clearance to the production of special nuclear material outside the US. The provision applies to transfers and technical assistance to all activities of the nuclear fuel-cycle, including non-power reactors.
The Centre hopes to resolve the stalemate at Kudankulam nuclear power plant within two months after which the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd can start working towards operationalising the first of the two 1000 MW units, reports DHNS from New Delhi. “We expect normalisation in KKNPP in four-six weeks after which we need four months to start operations,” NPCIL chairman and managing director S K Jain said.
Available at: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/229404/us-control-regime-hurdle-n.html
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