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Nuclear News - 3/19/2012
PGS Nuclear News, March 19, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Iran
    1. Iran not to Make Concessions on Nuclear Program, Arab News  (3/19/2012)
    2. Iran Welcomes Nuclear Talks with Major Powers, Reuters (3/14/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. N. Korea Seeking to Develop Nuclear Missile: Seoul, Dawn (3/19/2012)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Most Japanese Are Not Radical About Nuclear Phase Out – Poll, The Tokyo Times (3/19/2012)
    2. Nuclear Safety Commission Approves Restart of Long-Dormant Reactor, The Vancouver Sun  (3/17/2012)
    3. IAEA: "Significant" Nuclear Growth Despite Fukushima, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (3/16/2012)
    4. Kazakhstan Reaffirms Nuclear Power Commitment, World Nuclear News (3/15/2012)
    5. Expert Praises UAE Nuclear Development, Jen Thomas, The National (3/15/2012)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Japan Watchdog Approves Stress Test for Ikata Reactor, Reuters (3/19/2012)
    2. Ukraine Nears Completion of Removing Weapons-Grade Uranium, The Korea Times (3/19/2012)
    3. More Problems Found at Calif. Nuclear Plant, Michael R. Blood, Boston Globe (3/17/2012)
    4. Korea to Boast Nuke Tech Supremacy, Park Si-soo, The Korea Times (3/15/2012)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Russia Ready with Bulgaria's Belene Nuclear Reactor, Novinite (3/17/2012)
    2. Vietnam, Russia Ink Nuclear Fuel Rods Deal, Tuoitrenews (3/16/2012)
    3. Firms to Adopt AP1000 Nuclear Plant Technology, Liu Yiyu, China Daily (3/15/2012)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Analysis: Sudden North Korean Turn Risks US Ties, Matthew Pennington, ABC News (3/17/2012)
    2. Europe Split Over Future of Nuclear Energy, David Sapsted, The National (3/15/2012)
    3. Stepping up International Cooperation to Combat Proliferation, Federal Foreign Office of Germany (3/13/2012)

A.  Iran

Iran not to Make Concessions on Nuclear Program
Arab News
(for personal use only)

Iran will make absolutely no concessions on its nuclear program, a key lawmaker declared yesterday amid high geopolitical tensions and ahead of mooted talks with world powers.

“The Parliament will never allow the government to go back even one step in its nuclear policy,” Aladin Borujerdi, the head of Iran’s parliamentary foreign policy commission, told the official IRNA news agency.

Iran’s recent announcements that is stepping up uranium enrichment and made its own 20-percent enriched nuclear fuel showed the country “totally masters nuclear science,” he said.
“If the P5+1 countries don’t accept the reality of Iran’s nuclear abilities, they will suffer from that,” Borujerdi was quoted as saying.

His comments precede expected talks agreed to by Iran and the P5+1 group of powers — the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.

Iran has formally requested a date and venue for the negotiations, the previous round of which collapsed in Istanbul in January last year.

The Islamic republic has been buffeted in recent months by ramped-up Western economic sanctions.
It has also been threatened with possible military action against its nuclear facilities by Israel and the United States.

Throughout, Tehran has maintained that its nuclear program is purely peaceful, denying Western suspicions — largely echoed in a November report by the International Atomic Energy Agency — that it was conducting military research toward designing nuclear weapons.

Borujerdi told IRNA that the United States and its allies have seen in recent months that Iran’s scientists have managed to make nuclear fuel enriched to 20 percent, among other achievements.

“Lawmakers expect the (Iranian) nuclear negotiating team to change the situation, to obtain a cancellation of (UN) resolutions (on Iran) and that the Iranian nuclear issue is taken from the Security Council and put back before the governors’ board of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he said.
The remarks suggested Iran was taking a defiant negotiating position for the talks with the P5+1 — one as hardball as the stance adopted by the United States and some of its allies, notably France and Britain.

US President Barack Obama has warned that Iran’s leaders have to understand that “the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking.”

The US Navy will have three aircraft carriers positioned near Iran in the coming days, and is doubling the number of minesweeping ships and helicopters based in the Gulf. Israel, meanwhile, is keeping up rhetoric that makes many think the Jewish state — the Middle East’s sole nuclear power, which is not involved in the talks — is serious about possibly attacking Iran, with or without US support.

A majority of Israel’s 14-member security Cabinet now supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in launching a pre-emptive strike on Iran in a bid to end its nuclear program, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Thursday, citing political sources it did not identify.

“Israel is very close to the point when a very tough decision should be made — the bomb or the bombing,” former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told reporters earlier this month.

The Western sanctions are taking a toll on Iran’s vital oil exports, though to what extent is unclear amid competing declarations from Tehran and from Western agencies.

While shipments have certainly been curtailed to several markets, the tensions over the showdown have driven global oil prices higher, giving the Islamic state higher revenue per barrel of oil it manages to sell.

Meanwhile, Britain has condemned Iran for blocking a website aimed at explaining the United Kingdom and its policies to Iranians.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday that barring the British government's "UK for Iranians" site — three days after it was launched — proves "the Iranian authorities fear their own citizens' interaction and involvement with the outside world."

Britain says Iran blocked the site on Saturday. It remains unavailable to users in Iran.
Diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran have deteriorated as tensions mount over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Britain pulled its diplomats out of Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from the UK following an attack on its embassy in Tehran in November.

The BBC's Persian service is regularly blocked in Iran.

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Iran Welcomes Nuclear Talks with Major Powers
(for personal use only)

Iran welcomed on Wednesday a new round of nuclear negotiations with six world powers, saying the two sides should set "the date and venue" of the talks, Iranian media reported.

Last week European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton accepted Iran's offer of further talks with the powers in a bid to reach agreement on the future of Iran's nuclear activities.

Iran has repeatedly rejected Western accusations that its nuclear energy progamme is a cover for developing nuclear weapons, saying its goals are entirely peaceful.

The United States and the EU have imposed punishing sanctions against Iran's banking and energy sectors pressure it to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

"In a letter to Catherine Ashton, Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili welcomed the political will of (the six) countries to return to the talks. He also said the two sides should stay in contact to set a date and venue for the talks," the official news agency IRNA said.

The report said that the letter emphasised having constructive, serious talks without preconditions with the aim of achieving permanent cooperation.

"Jalili has said that he welcomes Ashton's stance of respecting the rights of the Islamic Reupblic in using peaceful nuclear energy," IRNA added.

The last round of negotiations took place in Istanbul in January 2011 but could not even agree on an agenda.

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B.  North Korea

N. Korea Seeking to Develop Nuclear Missile: Seoul
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South Korea accused North Korea Monday of trying to develop a nuclear-armed missile through a satellite launch next month, after Pyongyang dismissed international calls to abandon the exercise.

“Our government defines North Korea’s so-called working satellite launch plan as a grave provocation to develop a long-distance delivery means for nuclear weapons by using ballistic missile technology,” said presidential spokesman Park Jeong-Ha.

The North announced Friday it would launch a long-range rocket between April 12 and 16 to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes.

The United States and other nations see the exercise as a thinly veiled long-range missile test, which would breach a United Nations ban and violate last month’s denuclearisation deal with Washington.

The North is thought to have enough plutonium for perhaps six to eight nuclear weapons, but it is unclear whether it can yet build an atomic warhead for a missile.
The launch is timed to coincide with mass celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il-Sung.

It will come just after an April 11 election in which the South’s ruling conservative party — bitterly opposed by Pyongyang — seeks to retain parliamentary control.

The issue could also overshadow next week’s Seoul nuclear security summit, to be attended by US President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

Seoul said it would work closely with the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the European Union to handle the issue during the summit, the biggest-ever diplomatic gathering in the South.

The North on Sunday rejected international protests, calling the criticism “a base move … to encroach upon our sovereignty.” Ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun Monday blasted Seoul for an “unprecedented policy of sycophancy” towards Washington.

The launch by the impoverished but nuclear-armed state seems likely to kill off a February 29 agreement with Washington, which had raised hopes of eased tensions under young new leader Kim Jong-Un.

The North agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, along with long-range missile launches and nuclear tests, in return for 240,000 tonnes of much-needed US food aid.

It maintains that a satellite launch is not a missile test.

But the US State Department has called the plan “highly provocative” and voiced strong doubt over providing the food if the launch goes ahead.

Japan, Russia and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have called for a change of heart and even China, the North’s closest ally, expressed concern.

The North’s first nuclear test in October 2006 came three months after a long-range rocket launch.

Its most recent such launch on April 5, 2009, purportedly to put a satellite into orbit, brought UN Security Council condemnation and tightened sanctions.

The North quit six-party nuclear disarmament talks in protest at the censure and conducted its second atomic weapons test in May 2009.

Some analysts see a similar scenario this time.

“Seen in the previous cases, North Korea has a pattern of conducting nuclear tests after missile tests,” Yun Duk-Min, of the South’s Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security, told the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Seoul’s defence ministry also suggested a nuclear test may follow the launch.

“We will thoroughly guard against potential additional military provocations or a nuclear test, as the North is highly likely to repeat its actions back in 2009 when it fired a long-range rocket,” a spokesman told a briefing.

He said the South and its US ally would intensively monitor areas around Tongchang-ri, the North’s new launch site in the extreme northwest.

The North said it has notified international aviation and maritime bodies of the flight path. Media reports said the first stage was projected to fall about 140 kilometres (87 miles) off the South Korean coast, in international waters between China and the South.

The second stage was tipped to splash down 190 km east of the Philippines.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

Most Japanese Are Not Radical About Nuclear Phase Out – Poll
The Tokyo Times
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Nearly 80 percent of Japanese are more or less in favor of phasing out nuclear energy from the country, but the general opinion is that this should not be done radically, according to a poll by Japan Association for Public Opinion Research.

About 69 percent of those interviewed agree that some nuclear reactors should be restarted so that the country has enough power, the poll showed. Only 28 percent opposed completely even a temporary restart of some reactors.

The results of this poll, published by the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, are in contrast with another poll in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper last week, where 57 percent of the people said they opposed restarting reactors.

Currently, only two of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are in operation, but they are scheduled to be shutdown by May.

If no reactors will resume activity before summer, the country could face a 10 percent energy shortage during peak hours in summer, according to trade minister Yukio Edano.

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Nuclear Safety Commission Approves Restart of Long-Dormant Reactor
The Vancouver Sun
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Canada's nuclear regulator has given Bruce Power the green light to restart the Unit 2 reactor, which has been offline for more than 15 years, the Ontario power utility said on Friday.

The approval, from Canada's Nuclear Safety Commission, allows the utility to power up the refurbished reactor to complete final safety and operations tests. The next step will be to link the reactor, located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, to Ontario's power grid.

Unit 2 is one of four reactors at Bruce Power's Bruce A plant. The 750-megawatt Candu reactor is expected to produce enough electricity to power 500,000 homes.

Bruce Power expects to have approval to bring Bruce A's Unit 1, also being refurbished, online in the coming months. Unit 1 and Unit 2 have been shut down since 1997 and 1995 respectively.

Once the two reactors are online, the Bruce A and Bruce B plants will be generating a combined 6,300 megawatts of power from eight reactors. Bruce Power generates about 4,700 megawatts from four units at Bruce B and two units at Bruce A.

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IAEA: "Significant" Nuclear Growth Despite Fukushima
Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

Global use of nuclear energy could increase by as much as 100 percent in the next two decades on the back of growth in Asia, even though groundbreakings for new reactors fell last year after the Fukushima disaster, a U.N. report says.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has not yet been made public but has been seen by Reuters, said a somewhat slower capacity expansion than previously forecast is likely after the world's worst nuclear accident in a quarter of a century.

But, it said: "Significant growth in the use of nuclear energy worldwide is still anticipated - between 35 percent and 100 percent by 2030 - although the Agency projections for 2030 are 7-8 percent lower than projections made in 2010."

Japan's reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant triggered by a deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year shook the nuclear world and raised a question mark over whether atomic energy is safe.

Germany, Switzerland and Belgium decided to move away from nuclear power to grow reliance on renewable energy instead.

The IAEA document, obtained by Reuters on Friday, said the number of new reactor construction starts fell to only three last year - two in Pakistan and one in India - from 16 in 2010.
Also last year, 13 reactors were officially declared as permanently shut down, including the four units at Fukushima as well as eight in Germany.

"This represents the highest number of shutdowns since 1990, when the Chernobyl accident had a similar effect," the Vienna-based U.N. agency said in its annual Nuclear Technology Review. "As a comparison, 2010 saw only one shutdown and 2009 three."

In 1986, a reactor exploded and caught fire at Chernobyl in the then Soviet Union, sending radiation billowing across Europe.

At Fukushima one year ago, fires and explosions caused a full meltdown in three reactors while a fourth was also damaged.

Today, the four reactors are in a stable, cold shutdown state and clean-up of the site continues, but the final phase of decommissioning will not happen for 30 or 40 years.

Almost all of Japan's 54 reactors sit idle, awaiting approvals to restart.

"The 7-8 percent drop in projected growth for 2030 reflects an accelerated phase-out of nuclear power in Germany, some immediate shutdowns and a government review of the planned expansion in Japan, as well as temporary delays in expansion in several other countries," the IAEA report said.
But many countries are still pushing ahead with nuclear energy, with 64 reactors under construction at the end of 2011, most of them in Asia, said the document prepared for a closed-door meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board last week.

Factors that had contributed to growing interest in nuclear energy before Fukushima - increasing demand for energy, concerns about climate change, energy security and uncertainty about fossil fuel supplies - had not changed, it said.

"In countries considering the introduction of nuclear power, interest remained strong. Although some countries indicated that they would delay decisions to start nuclear power programmes, others continued with their plans to introduce nuclear energy."

China and India are expected to remain the main centres of expansion in Asia and Russia is also forecast to see strong growth, it said.

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Expert Praises UAE Nuclear Development
Jen Thomas
The National
(for personal use only)

The UAE is the "gold standard" on which other countries should model their quest for nuclear power, an international industry expert says.

The Emirates has applied a "logical, well thought-out approach" to building the country's first four reactors, said Dr Dale Klein, a former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The country has been transparent about its plans and progress, which is central to building international and local trust, said Dr Klein, who is also the associate director of The Energy Institute at the University of Texas.

"The United Arab Emirates has been very good at explaining to the public what nuclear means, why it's important for the country and what steps it's taking," he said. "It's very important that people understand how nuclear power plants work and why they're being built."

Dr Klein's comments on Tuesday were part of a lecture at the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Infrastructure work and site preparation have begun for the four nuclear reactors in Baraka, more than 50 kilometres from Ruwais in Al Gharbia. The first plant is expected to start operating in 2017, with three more plants scheduled to be completed and operational by 2020.

Four more may also be in the works.

The UAE has made changes to its nuclear plans after the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year, Dr Klein said.

While the region is not likely to be struck by a major earthquake or tsunami, authorities have to account for Gulf conditions such as extreme heat and dust storms.

Watertight seals and battery compartments, which were missing at Fukushima, have been added to the plans for the Baraka plants and Dr Klein recommended extra electricity generators.
The UAE's nuclear progress is in stark contrast to neighbouring Iran, he said.

"Iran is not as transparent as the world would like," Dr Klein said. "It's not clear what their level of safety is. It's not clear what their level of training is.

"Radiation does not stop at a border. Their nuclear programme could be important for surrounding countries."

More than 60 nuclear reactors are under construction around the world, joining the more than 435 already in operation.

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Kazakhstan Reaffirms Nuclear Power Commitment
World Nuclear News
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Kazakhstan has not given up on its aim to build a nuclear power plant and intends to clarify its plans over the coming year, according to the country's ministers.

First Deputy Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov made the pledge during the presentation of a vision for the development of Kazakhstan's power industry to 2030 to the country's government. He spoke of intentions to follow up on a program which calls for 4.5% of Kazakhstan's total generation to be generated by nuclear power plants by 2030. "So this year we should settle this issue," he said.
Minister of industry and new technologies Asset Isekeshev confirmed that, although the construction of a nuclear power plant is very much on the agenda, it is seen as a long-term objective and that no decisions have yet been made on the type of reactor, the site or the timing of the project. Safety, and the selection of the best technology, would be major considerations, he said.

Kazakhstan can boast of being the world's leading producer of uranium, but does currently not have any nuclear power plants of its own. A Russian-supplied BN-350 fast reactor operated at Aktau on the Caspian Sea coast from 1972 to 1999. A project to build smaller Russian-designed nuclear reactors at Aktau has been under consideration for several years, and feasibility studies and environmental reviews have been carried out.

Plans for nuclear plants including large light-water reactors for the southern region, smaller units in western parts and smaller cogeneration units in regional cities have been under discussion for several years. In 2010 a trio of Japanese companies signed a memorandum of understanding on a feasibility study for the construction of a nuclear plant, with Lake Balkash in eastern Kazakhstan mooted as a likely location for a plant based on advanced boiling water reactor technology.

Overall the Kazakh government needs to invest a total of 9.5 trillion Tenge (about $64 billion) in its electricity sector by 2030, the government was told. This would include investments in new and replacement generation capacity, as well as modernisation of existing power plants and national grid developments. Isekeshev said investments in existing power plants of nearly 1.146 trillion Tenge ($7.8 billion) are planned by 2015

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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Japan Watchdog Approves Stress Test for Ikata Reactor
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Japan's nuclear watchdog on Monday compiled a report approving first-stage stress tests for the 890-megawatt No.3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co Inc's Ikata nuclear plant in western Japan.

The move marks the second approval that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has given following the two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co Inc's Ohi plant.

The three reactors currently shut for regular checks are among candidates for the first restart since the tsunami-triggered nuclear crisis a year ago.

Amid public safety concerns, only two reactors are currently online out of a total of 54. The last one is due to be shut down by early May for maintenance unless reactors are reactivated by then.

Stress tests, which use computer simulations to evaluate each reactor's resilience to severe events, are an initial step in rebuilding public trust in atomic energy after the worst nuclear accident in 25 years.

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Ukraine Nears Completion of Removing Weapons-Grade Uranium
The Korea Times
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Ukraine is close to the final stage of eliminating its stockpiles of highly enriched uranium as announced under a landmark agreement with the United States two years ago intended to prevent nuclear terrorism, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency held on Thursday at his presidential office, Yanukovich also said the second Nuclear Security Summit, a global atomic security conference to be hosted by South Korea next week, should be held on a permanent basis.

Ukraine gave an early boost to the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April 2010 by agreeing with the U.S. to get rid of about 90 kilograms of highly enriched uranium by 2012.
"The project is nearing a stage of completion," said Yanukovich, ahead of his scheduled visit to Seoul to attend the summit, which will draw representatives from 58 countries and international organizations, including some 48 heads of state, with U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon scheduled to attend.

Obama hosted the inaugural summit in 2010. Seoul officials said the Netherlands has agreed to host the third summit in 2014, but the likelihood of a fourth summit is remote.

"The Nuclear Security Summit should work on a permanent basis by being hosted by each continent," he said.

"We cannot simply remain calm until a nuclear security threat occurs. This topic should always be monitored by the public and all the countries of the world," said Yanukovich.

The main goal of the Seoul summit is to provide the groundwork to move from commitments made at the Washington gathering to specific actions and to chart a future course for securing all vulnerable nuclear materials to prevent terrorists from accessing them.

Ukraine, which once possessed the world's third-largest nuclear weapons arsenal it inherited in the collapse of the Soviet Union, surrendered all of the nuclear weapons in 1996 in return for a security guarantee from the U.S., Russia and Britain as well as economic assistance from the U.S.
Asked whether the experience by Ukraine should be seen as a model for dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Yanukovich took a cautious tone.

"The situation currently facing North Korea is completely different from the situation Ukraine faced in the past," he said.

With regard to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, Yanukovich said it is very important to start dialogue with the North.

The Ukrainian president expects the North's nuclear program to be discussed at the Seoul summit, saying, "all issues regarding nuclear security must be discussed."

Next week's summit is not aimed at dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions, but the issue can be discussed bilaterally on the sidelines of the summit, Seoul officials said.

On Friday, North Korea stirred global concerns by announcing that it plans to launch a satellite next month on the back of a long-range rocket.

The North's plan would break a recent deal between Pyongyang and Washington that raised hopes of a resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, Seoul and Washington officials said.

Under the deal, Pyongyang agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program and nuclear and missile tests in return for massive U.S. food aid. North Korea also agreed to allow U.N. inspectors to monitor a suspension of the nuclear activities.

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More Problems Found at Calif. Nuclear Plant
Michael R. Blood
Boston Globe
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Four more tubes that carry radioactive water at a Southern California nuclear power plant failed pressure tests, prompting new safety concerns, officials disclosed Friday.

The four tubes in a massive steam generator failed Thursday in the Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre coastal plant in northern San Diego County, according to Southern California Edison. Three other tubes failed earlier tests, the company said Wednesday.

The utility shut down Unit 3 and began testing samples from thousands of tubes on Jan. 31 after a leak was found. Traces of radiation escaped during the leak, but officials said there was no danger to workers or neighbors.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday it was sending a special team of inspectors to determine why the metal tubes, which were installed in Unit 3 in 2010, have become frail enough to pose a risk of leaks.

“This is a significant issue,’’ said NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding. “A tube rupture is really the concern.’’

Investigators have been looking into excessive wear on Unit 3 tubes and its twin, Unit 2, which has been off line for maintenance and refueling. In a $670 million overhaul, two huge steam generators, each with 9,700 tubes, were replaced in Unit 2 in 2009 and a year later in Unit 3.

Nineteen percent of all power used by SCE customers comes from nuclear generation.

A spokeswoman for the agency that operates the state’s wholesale power system, the California Independent System Operator, said the San Diego and Los Angeles areas could see rotating power outages this summer if both reactors remain off line. The agency is taking steps to prevent those shortages.

“It’s all about balancing supply and demand,’’ said ISO spokeswoman Stephanie McCorkle. “You have to have a certain amount of plant [power] generation where the heavily populated areas of California are.’’

Inside a steam generator, hot, pressurized water flowing through bundles of tubes heats nonradioactive water around them. The steam is used to turn turbines to make electricity.

The tubes are one of the primary barriers between the radioactive and non-radioactive sides of the plant, the NRC said.

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Korea to Boast Nuke Tech Supremacy
Park Si-soo
The Korea Times
(for personal use only)

South Korea will unveil homegrown technology that could significantly reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism for the first time in the world at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.

“We will showcase at the summit a nuclear technology that only South Korea possesses,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan said in an interview with The Korea Times, Wednesday. “The homegrown technology will make it possible for reactors working with highly enriched uranium (HEU) to generate the same level of performance with low enriched uranium.”
Several rogue countries, including North Korea, have been accused of abusing HEU to make nuclear weapons. Many nuclear experts have also worried that HEU in civilian industries, particularly the medical industry, is under constant threat of theft by terrorists and other non-state actors with malicious intent.

Kim said the new technology will undergo feasibility testing in other countries. “I strongly believe that the technology will largely contribute to reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism,” the minister said.
With the summit only 10 days away, Kim said his ministry is putting the final touches to the preparations for the meeting to ensure that the event flows smoothly in terms of security and protocol.
“We will continue to work to make the Seoul summit an event to be carried out with the people,” he said. “We are attempting to raise public awareness about the significance of the summit.”

Fifty-eight world leaders will come together in Seoul on March 26 and 27 in an orchestrated effort to prevent nuclear terrorism and ensure the safe use of weapon-useable radioactive materials such as plutonium and HEU. The last sherpa meeting will be held here on March 23 for a final review of the preparations for the world’s largest forum on the matters, including the outcome document, or the Seoul Communique.

“The Korean government is working closely with other participating countries so that effective and substantial commitments to improve nuclear security are announced at the summit,” Kim said.
The communique will identify specific goals through practical measures to realize the vision of a “four-year lockdown” of all vulnerable nuclear materials, he said.

In addition to the document, he said South Korea expects further announcements to be made on specific steps toward nuclear security. Among the expected actions are the elimination and minimization of weapon-useable nuclear materials such as HEU or plutonium, the signing or ratification of key nuclear security instruments, and contributions to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Security Fund.

He added the venue for the summit will be open to the public on the heels of its closure so that many people can see and experience the “historic setting.”

North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is not an agenda at the summit since it’s a matter of nonproliferation and is being dealt with within the separate framework of the six-nation talks.
Nevertheless the minister said the summit could send a strong message urging North Korea to eliminate any such materials.

“I believe the presence of 58 world leaders in Seoul to discuss nuclear security could serve as an occasion to renew the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
Kim didn’t rule out the possibility that President Lee Myung-bak would discuss the North Korean issue with other leaders on the sidelines of the summit. Lee is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with more than 20 heads of state during the event.

The nuclear-armed North has recently launched verbal assaults on the South for the latter’s hosting of the summit, defining the global gathering as a “grave threat to the Stalinist state” and threatening “It won’t sit back.”

Regarding the angry reaction, the South Korean foreign minister said it reflects Pyongyang’s deep frustration over the nuclear security summit being held under its nose.

The minister underscored that the Seoul summit will help upgrade the country’s national brand.
Seoul’s hosting of the summit is indicative of the “recognition by the international community of Korea’s standing and role in addressing global issues,” Kim said.

“Korea has already demonstrated its leadership in the global economic arena,” he said referring to the country’s host of the G20 summit in 2010 and the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011. “If the G20 summit and the Busan forum signified Korea’s transition from a recipient country of international aid to a donor state, the nuclear security summit demonstrates the leading role Korea is playing in the international security field.”

He went on to say that the country has actively tried to assume a “responsibility and role commensurate to our standing in the international community.”

“Indeed, we have actively taken part in global efforts to overcome common challenges,” he said. “The successful hosting of the summit will contribute to dissolving the Korea discount and instead serve as an opportunity to build a Korea premium.”

Kim wants South Korea to be portrayed among participating leaders as a “dynamic country with a rich cultural background” behind its modern success story.

To that end, the minister suggested three things which he hopes participating leaders will experience during their stay here ㅡ the new Gyeongheoru Yeonhyang, a traditional Korean performance, at Gyeongbokgung Palace; a moonlight tour of Chandeok Palace; and a stay at a Buddhist temple.
Chandeok Palace was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1997 and the templestay program has been promoted by the government in line with its promotional campaign on traditional Korean culture.

“I hope the leaders attending the summit will get a chance to taste a unique blend of rich cultural tradition and dynamic modernity during their stay in Korea,” the minister said.
Noting the country’s rise from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War, he said Korea is more than willing to share our experience with other countries seeking national development.

“We will do our best to make every leader’s stay in Korea most comfortable, and I hope many of them will revisit Korea for the Yeosu Expo, which opens in May.”

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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

Russia Ready with Bulgaria's Belene Nuclear Reactor
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Russia's Atomstroyexport has assembled the reactor for the first block of the Nuclear Power Plant NPP to be built in the Bulgarian Danube town of Belene.

The reactor BBEP-1000 has been test-assembled in the Izhor plants, which is one of the final stages before it is to be ready for transportation, the Bulgarian news agency BGNES reported Saturday, citing a press release of the Russian company that is part of the State Corporation Rosatom.

On Friday, Atomstroyexport said it would stop work on the Belene NPP over the "ambiguous position of the Bulgarian government." The company vowed to reduce the number of employees at the construction site.

Also on Friday, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, explained that there was an option to install at the existing Kozloduy NPP the first of the Russian-made nuclear reactors slated for the future Belene plant, for which Bulgaria has already paid two-thirds of the price.

The Russian company announced Saturday the reactor will be ready to be transported to Bulgaria in mid-April.

The press release stresses that with this Rosatom has fulfilled all commitments to build a second nuclear plant in Bulgaria while the whole technological operation had been observed by representatives of the Bulgarian National Electric Company, NEK.

"Atomstroyexport proposed to Bulgaria one of the most advanced projects for nuclear plants, which refers to the generation 3 +. The project meets all requirements of the contracting authority and international standards and recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," states the company.

In October 2011, Bulgaria and Russia reached an agreement to extend the negotiations over Belene nuclear project by another six months as of the beginning of October amidst continuing haggling over its price and feasibility.

The contract between Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK and Russia's Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, was extended by the end of March 2012.

The greatest issue over which Bulgaria and Russia have been haggling for the past two years under the Borisov Cabinet has been the price of the project, with Russia insisting it should be no less than EUR 6.3 B, while Bulgaria is demanding a price of no more than EUR 5 B.

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.

In November 2010, shortly after a visit to Sofia by Russian PM Putin, Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK and Russian state company Rosatom signed a memorandum providing for a final fixed price for the two reactors of EUR 6.298 B.

According to the non-binding memorandum expiring on March 31, 2011, Bulgaria's NEK will have a share of 51% in the Belene NPP, Rosatom – a share of 47%, Finnish company Fortum - a share of 1%, and French company Altran Technologies - a share of 1% with an option to increase it. Serbia has expressed interest in acquiring a share of 5%-10% but the talks for that have not been finalized yet.

In mid-March 2011, apparently acting on concerns caused by the situation in Japan's Fukushima NPP after the recent devastating earthquake there, the European Commission confirmed that it wants to reexamine the Belene NPP project - once Bulgaria finds an investor for it - even though it already approved it back in 2007.

In April 2011, the Bulgarian government formally signed a consulting contract with UK-based company HSBC (which won the tender in November 2010) for the financial analysis for the project for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant. Bulgaria will be paying HSBC EUR 2 M for its services plus 0.95% of the end price of the Belene NPP if it is realized. This means that if HSBC declares the Belene NPP project to be economically feasible, and it is constructed, it will get a fee of EUR 47.5 M if the plant costs EUR 5 B.

Another important issue plaguing the Belene NPP project that surfaced in the recent week is the mutual financial claims of the two parties over sums allegedly owed for the delivery of new equipment and buyout of old equipment for the future plant, with Atomstroyexport recently filing an EUR 58 M suit against NEK with the International Arbitration Court in Paris, and NEK responding with an EUR 61 M suit in Geneva.

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Vietnam, Russia Ink Nuclear Fuel Rods Deal
(for personal use only)

Vietnam and Russia have signed an inter-governmental agreement on transporting highly enriched uranium fuel rods used by Da Lat nuclear reactor into Russia.

The agreement was signed in Hanoi on March 16 by Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Le Dinh Tien and Deputy Director General Nikolay Spasskiy of the Rosatom Nuclear Energy Corporation.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Minister of Science and Education Nguyen Quan and Deputy Director General Nikolay Spasskiy said this is an important event reflecting Vietnam’s commitment in implementing the joint Statement of the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in 2010 and the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit this year.

Together with the agreement on building the proposed Ninh Thuan 1 nuclear power plant and the Nuclear Science and Technology Center, this agreement has reaffirmed the strategic cooperation between Vietnam and Russia in using atomic energy for peaceful purposes and ensuring security and safety and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, they said.

These agreements will facilitate Russia’s assistance and cooperation with Vietnam in building and developing the latter’s young nuclear energy sector as well as its implementation of commitments to ensuring security and safety and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the minister said.

Since 2007, Vietnam has involved in the program to change fuel used by Da Lat reactor from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to lowly enriched uranium (LEU). The program was jointly initiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the US and Russia to manage HEU fuel used in research reactors manufactured by the US and Russia to prevent the use of this source of fuel for non-peaceful purposes.

In September 2007, Vietnam transported 35 unused HEU fuel rods of Da Lat reactor to Russia and received 36 new LEU fuel rods made by Russia.

In December 2010, Vietnam received and transported 66 LEU fuel rods to Da Lat reactor to replace all HEU fuel rods being used. In 2011, Da Lat reactor successfully started its operation with LEU fuel.

Used HEU fuel rods are expected to be transported to Russia in May, 2013.

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Firms to Adopt AP1000 Nuclear Plant Technology
Liu Yiyu
China Daily
(for personal use only)

Chinese companies will be ready to take a type of nuclear reactor known as AP1000 to market by the end of 2012, industry experts said.

Equipment manufacturers such as Shanghai Electric Group Co Ltd, Dongfang Electric Corp and Harbin Electric Corp are now capable of making five AP1000 reactor units a year, said Wang Baozhong, vice-president of China First Heavy Industries Co, which makes equipment used in the mining and energy industries.

"Our production capacity has already surpassed developments in the industry," Wang said. "But we are still falling behind in cost and in process controls."
Yu Zusheng, a nuclear industry expert, had similar thoughts.

"Chinese manufacturers are capable of producing showcase products but are not ready for mass production yet," Yu said.

Putting quality and safety first can cause delays in a project, according to Tim Collier, Westinghouse Electric vice-president and managing director for China.

Twenty years ago, Westinghouse placed its highest priority on manufacturing equipment on schedule, he said. Now, though, the emphasis is on ensuring quality. Westinghouse Electric Co is the original developer of the AP1000 technology.

China now has four AP1000 reactors under construction, two in Zhejiang province and two in Shandong province. The technology was introduced by the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp Ltd in 2006.

The transfer of AP1000 technology is by far the most significant high-tech energy program between China and the US, worth an estimated 3.3 billion yuan ($520.9 million), according to the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp Ltd.

Since being introduced, the AP1000 has undergone several design changes, causing China's first projects involving that technology to be halted several times.

"Chinese culture concentrates on flexibility but, in the nuclear industry, flexibility really isn't an asset," Wang said. "You have to follow the guidelines strictly."

China is strengthening its nuclear technology and manufacturing capabilities and is expected to be able to generate 80 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2020, up from 11.3 gigawatts now.

The country is also expected to start using AP1000 nuclear technology on a large scale to help ensure the safety of its future nuclear power plants. That change has been prompted in part by the safety concerns that arose following the crippling of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant a year ago.

Statistics from the State Nuclear Power Technology show that 50 percent of the components needed for China's AP1000 demonstration projects can be produced domestically. After that, China is expected to be capable of producing 80 percent of the main components and materials used in the technology, according to the corporation.

The corporation, meanwhile, is also developing CAP1400, which is meant to be safer and cheaper to build than AP1000. The first demonstration project of CAP1400 is scheduled to take place in March 2013 in Rongcheng, Shandong province.

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F.  Links of Interest

Analysis: Sudden North Korean Turn Risks US Ties
Matthew Pennington
ABC News
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Europe Split Over Future of Nuclear Energy
David Sapsted
The National
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Stepping up International Cooperation to Combat Proliferation
Federal Foreign Office of Germany
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