Iran expects to reopen talks with world powers that could defuse mounting tensions over its disputed nuclear program on April 13, Iranian media quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying on Wednesday.
Turkey has offered to host the talks and the location will be decided in the next few days, Salehi said, after greeting Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on his arrival in Tehran. A Brussels-based diplomat also said April 13 was the likely date.
"Talks regarding the venue are underway," Salehi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency. "Turkey has announced its willingness to host the talks between Iran and major powers and it seems that P5+1 has welcomed it. This suggestion has also been given to Iran and we are considering it."
Tehran would formally reply soon, he said.
The last meeting between Iran and the representatives of the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China - a group known as the P5+1 because it comprises all five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany - in Istanbul in January 2011, failed to even agree an agenda. Since then Washington and the European Union have imposed tough new sanctions on Iran, accusing Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Relations with the EU hit new lows when the bloc announced an embargo on Iranian oil and Britain closed its Tehran embassy after it was ransacked by protesters.
Western diplomats have said it is hard to be optimistic about the talks given Iran's previous track record, but analysts say the negotiations could provide a breathing space for all sides over the possibility of an immediate Israeli attack on Iran.
"It will be difficult for the Israelis to attack Iran while there are nuclear talks ongoing," said Gala Riani, an analyst at London-based risk consultancy Control Risks.
"It will also temporarily boost the position of Western camps ... as they will seek to illustrate that tighter sanctions on Iran are having a desired effect by bringing the Iranians back to the negotiation table." Israel and the United States have threatened military action if Iran fails to abandon its uranium-enrichment activities. On Tuesday an Israeli official played down the prospect of an imminent attack on Iran, saying Iran's atomic program could still be hampered through sanctions and sabotage. E U foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expected once again to lead the talks on behalf of P5+1. Earlier this month the group called on Iran "to enter, without pre-conditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue, which will produce concrete results."
The United States and its allies have repeatedly accused Iran of covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says it has the right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has refused to suspend uranium enrichment.
Turkish premier Erdogan arrived in Tehran for two days of talks on Iran's nuclear program amid strained relations between the two countries over the continuing bloodshed in Syria.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/28/us-iran-nuclear-salehi-idUSBRE82R0BT20120328
2. US, European Officials Probe Iran Nuclear Smuggling
Marc Hosenball and John Shiffman
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A dramatic expansion in nuclear and military smuggling investigations should lead to a flood of new criminal cases, primarily against Iranian and Chinese middlemen, U.S. law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.
U.S. officials said they are investigating 30 percent more cases this year than three years ago. U.S. agencies have deployed agents posing as arms brokers at more than 20 undercover companies targeting smugglers, said the officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Undercover arms smuggling investigations typically take two to four years to unfold, one of the officials said, which is why he expects an increase in indictments soon.
"We've got some good undercover cases going," a senior U.S. official said.
The new cases also offer insight into one metric for measuring Iran's possible interest in nuclear weapons: They show that Tehran continues to try to acquire "dual-use" items, products that can be used for both military purposes, such as nuclear weapons, or peaceful ones, the officials said. "We're seeing the same trends," a senior U.S. law enforcement official who closely monitors Iranian smuggling investigations told Reuters. "The pace is the same - the same networks, sometimes in different ways."
"We continue to see a steady drumbeat of cases," said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. Some of the dual-use technology, such as vacuum pumps, pressure transducers and carbon fiber material, are of particular use for uranium enrichment. Other materials investigators believe Iran has been making clandestine efforts to obtain include specialty metals and alloys used in missiles. "Iran may have nine out of the ten parts it needs for a weapon, and that tenth part may seem innocuous," said an American official in Dubai, a favored smuggling venue. "It's the tenth item you have to worry about, and unfortunately we don't always know which of the nine dual-use items they already have, so you have to guard against them all."
A Reuters analysis - calculated using indictments the Justice Department identifies as "major export cases" over the last eight years - shows that nearly one-third of them involved alleged smuggling to Iran.
Of 260 major U.S. export cases since 2003, 83 involved Iran, the most of any nation. Sixty-one of the 83 Iranian cases can be categorized as military-related smuggling: they involve radar and night-vision gear, fighter jets, airplane components and missile technology. Eight of 83 cases included alleged attempts to acquire equipment with nuclear applications.
"It's important to shine a light on this because it is further proof of the Iranians' effort to get nuclear capability and the way they will violate any law to do so," said Robert Casey, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on the region.
U.S. and European intelligence agencies, including the FBI, are seeing the same trends with regard to Iran, officials said, but some European agencies are more focused on gathering information than making arrests.
A security official for an allied government said European governments were tracking "hundreds" of cases in which middlemen suspected of acting on behalf of Iran were trying to buy technology which could be used for nuclear purposes.
The pattern of these attempted acquisitions, the official said, led some European intelligence officials to conclude that Iran was actively pursuing at least some elements of a nuclear weapons development program.
Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at developing energy for peaceful purposes. The increase in law enforcement activity has been led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, which has doubled the number of counter-proliferation squads in recent years, officials said.
ICE recently opened a new, 18-agency Export Enforcement Coordination Center, designed to reduce redundancies and increase statistical analysis, shortcomings officials acknowledge have hampered previous efforts.
Arms smuggling cases are primarily conducted undercover and agencies often find themselves bumping into each other. In one recent case, an official said, the new export center discovered that one group of undercover agents was trying to buy arms from another group of U.S. agents. U.S. officials say they do not keep sophisticated statistics on export smuggling prosecutions - a point highlighted in a Government Accountability Office report to Congress released on Tuesday. "While there is a good exchange of intelligence ... no formal process or means existed for these groups to collectively quantify and identify statistical trends and patterns relating to information on illicit transshipments," the report said.
In court cases in 2010, the United States won convictions against three Iranian-born men: two were convicted for smuggling vacuum pumps and the third for trying to acquire and smuggle American-made pressure transducers.
Underscoring the difficulty of such prosecutions, the United States lost one of its most significant cases in 2010, when France refused to extradite Majid Kakavand, whom the Americans accused of supplying companies involved in Iran's nuclear effort.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/28/usa-iran-smuggling-idUSL2E8ERODR20120328
3. Ex-IAEA Chief Challenges US, Israeli Reports on Iran
The Voice of Russia
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In an interview to Al Jazeera, International Atomic Energy Agency’s former chief Hans Blix has stressed that the agency got most of its intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program from the US and Israel. “My view is that they must assess it very carefully and critically because otherwise they can be pulled by their noose,” he said, noting that not all data stemming from these two anti-Iran powers are trustworthy.
Hans Blix also dismissed Israel’s allegations that Iran was on the verge of creating a nuclear bomb. “If you ask the Israelis, it is just around the corner all the time, but they have said that for years, so I think one ought to be a bit cautious about it,” he asserted.
The ex-IAEA chief called on the West to stop intimidating Iran, back its WTO bid and cooperate with Tehran in research in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Last November, the agency released an Iran report, claiming that Tehran’s nuclear program was pursuing a military agenda. The Islamic Republic denounced the report as unprofessional and fabricated under the US pressure.
Available at: http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_03_26/69633866/
1. U.S. Suspends Food Aid to N.Korea over Missile Plan
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The United States has suspended planned food aid to North Korea as Pyongyang vows to push ahead with a plan to launch a long-range missile in defiance of international warnings, U.S. military officials said on Wednesday.
Reclusive North Korea has said it is merely sending a weather satellite into space, but South Korea and the United States say it is a disguised ballistic missile test.
North Korea said on Tuesday there was no reason to fire a missile after February's agreement to suspend nuclear and missile tests in return for food aid with the United States.
But Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Security Affairs Peter Lavoy told the House of Representative Armed Services Committee that the announcement of the launch was in breach of the February agreement.
"This planned launch is highly provocative because it manifests North Korea's desire to test and expand its long-range missile capability," Lavoy told the House panel.
"We believe this reflects their lack of desire to follow through on their commitments, their international commitments, and so we've ... been forced to suspend our activities to provide nutritional assistance to North Korea."
A U.S. official confirmed the United States had detected activity that looked like launch preparations at a facility near the country's northwestern border with China.
The launch, which even drew criticism from ally China, will mark the 100th birth anniversary of state founder Kim Il-sung.
The website GlobalSecurity.org published satellite imagery last week of a launch pad and tower without a rocket at the Tongchang-dong launch site. A U.S. official indicated there were signs the North Koreans were getting the site ready.
"The U.S. has seen indications that the North Koreans are preparing to launch a long-range rocket," said the official.
Pentagon spokeswoman Leslie Hull-Ryde said the United States and South Korea were monitoring North Korea, but declined to comment on specific intelligence on the launch.
North Korea, which three years ago pulled out of on-again-off-again six-party talks on reining in its nuclear programme, has said the rocket will travel south towards the Philippines or Indonesia, Lavoy told U.S. lawmakers.
U.S. military officials told the House panel the North's large conventional military, nuclear weapons programmes, ballistic missiles and newer capabilities in cyber warfare all threatened the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
North Korea has added sophisticated cyber attack capabilities to its arsenal of threatening weapons and this year was rife with opportunities for military provocations from Pyongyang, beginning with the rocket launch next month, the U.S. defence officials said on Wednesday.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/03/29/usa-korea-north-idINDEE82S08N20120329
2. Ukraine May Offer its Experts for IAEA North Korea Inspection Team, Says Ambassador
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Ukraine is ready to offer its experts for the IAEA team of monitors to be sent to North Korea's nuclear facilities, Ukrainian Ambassador to South Korea Vasyl Marmazov has said.
"We are ready to offer our experts for all of the international initiatives that contribute to building a safer world," he told Ukrainian journalists in Seoul on Monday.
According to the ambassador, Ukrainian experts in the field of nuclear safety enjoy great prestige worldwide.
"A number of meetings were held on the eve of the summit, in particular, a meeting of experts in the field of nuclear security, and representatives of Ukrainian government agencies and academic institutions were actively involved in them, and they made good impression. I saw how attentively their counterparts listened to them," Marmazov said.
The ambassador also said that Ukraine is ready to share its experiences in the issue of nuclear safety, given the work done to clean up the damage of the accident at Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant. According Marmazova, this issue will be raised during Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's meetings at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
Yanukovych arrived in Seoul on Monday to participate in this summit.
Available at: http://www.interfax.com.ua/eng/main/99103/
1. Nuclear Giants RWE and E.ON Drop Plans to Build New UK Reactors
Fiona Harvey and Dan Milmo
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The government's nuclear energy policy is in disarray after German utilities RWE and E.ON dropped their plans to build two reactors in the UK.
RWE confirmed this morning that it is ending the Horizon joint venture and putting its stake on the market. According to industry sources, the Horizon consortium owned by RWE and E.ON is up for sale following a row over the technology that would be used in the power stations planned for Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
A senior nuclear industry figure told the Guardian that the German government's abandonment of nuclear power last year in the wake of the Fukushima disaster had played a significant role. The source said: "This is an obvious consequence of what happened in Germany last year. It's a total train wreck – you can't imagine the importance of this to the economy of north Wales. This programme is bigger than the whole Olympics. The government now has to try to find another buyer."
France's EDF is now the most likely buyer of the Horizon consortium, but the project would still be mired in wider doubts over nuclear power's future, while the government is still working on a floor price on carbon that would financially underpin a multi-billion pound construction programme.
Horizon had planned up to 6,000MW of new nuclear plants in Britain by 2025, encouraged by a more pro-nuclear government than in other countries, and driven by a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050.
"E.ON and RWE's withdrawal is clearly very disappointing, but the partners have clearly explained that this decision was based on pressures elsewhere in their businesses, and not any doubts about the role of nuclear in UK's energy future," said energy minister Charles Hendry. "The UK's new nuclear programme is far more than one consortium and there remains considerable interest. Plans from EDF/Centrica and Nugen are on track and Horizon's sites offer new players an excellent ready-made opportunity to enter the market."
The row over who will build the reactors for the Horizon venture has threatened to develop into a full-blown legal confrontation in recent months. Detailed legal documents drafted by a competitor, seen by the Guardian under condition of anonymity, state that if France's Areva wins the contest to build the Wylfa and Oldbury reactors, it will secure a market monopoly that should trigger a "sector inquiry". Areva is owned by the French state and is competing against Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba, to build the Wylfa and Oldbury sites.
Giving an insight into the tensions behind the contract, the document argues that awarding the contract to the world's largest reactor maker will have a detrimental effect on UK jobs.
"It will have a permanent and significantly negative impact on the UK nuclear industry, jobs, manufacturing skills, supply chains and SMEs. Westinghouse have pledged to 'buy where they build' and source 70% UK content, Areva have existing supply chains in France and their UK commitment would be significantly less."
The document also warns that an Areva win would tie up the British nuclear market because France's state-owned EDF, a minority shareholder in Areva, is the dominant player in the UK nuclear sector.
The Horizon news also raises questions over E.ON's and RWE's bills to UK consumers. High bills have been justified by the need to finance major investments in nuclear power. That explanation faces challenges in the wake of today's news. RWE owns npower in the UK.
Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/29/nuclear-reactors-rwe-eon-energy?newsfeed=true
Bulgaria has abandoned plans to build a nuclear power plant with a Russian reactor at Belene, which Sofia and Moscow agreed on in 2008, the country’s Deputy Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said on Wednesday.
A natural gas power plant will be built on the site instead, Goranov told journalists after a government meeting.
The nuclear reactor, which has already been assembled by Russian state nuclear power corporation Rosatom’s subsidiary Atomstroyexport and was originally meant for Belene, will be used in Kozloduy, Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant, bringing the number of reactors there to three.
Delyan Dobrev, Bulgaria's energy minister, will head to Moscow on Thursday to formally tell the Russian leadership of the decision to abandon the Belene project, the Sofia News Agency reported. Sofia will pay Moscow some 100 million euros ($133.5 million) for the reactor’s design and installation, according to the Bgnes news agency.
The Belene plant has been plagued by development problems including its spiralling price. Bulgaria said it could not afford the plant, and German investor electric power and gas utility RWE pulled out in 2009. Opposition to the project was also voiced by environmentalists.
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/world/20120328/172444965.html
Russian space officials say the country is dedicated to the successful building of a nuclear engine for spacecraft by 2017.
A megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system for long-range manned spacecraft is expected to be ready by 2017, Denis Kovalevich of the Russian think tank Skolkovo Foundation said Wednesday. "At present we are testing several types of fuel and later we will start drafting the design," Kovalevich told RIA Novosti. "The first parts [of the nuclear engine] should be built in 2013, and the engine is expected to be ready by 2017."
Russia's nuclear power agency Rosatom said the development and construction of a nuclear propulsion system for spacecraft will cost more than $247 million.
The Russian government earmarked $16.7 million in 2010 to start a project to build a spacecraft with a nuclear engine, while the overall investment in the project is estimated at over $580 million until 2019, RIA Novosti reported.
NASA began a similar program to develop a nuclear propulsion system in 2003 and spent several hundred million dollars on the project before funding was cut.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/03/28/Russia-plans-to-build-nuclear-space-engine/UPI-19841332980668/?spt=hs&or=sn
4. Nuclear Power Plants Planned for Construction in Lithuania’s Neighborhood Receive International Attention,
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President Grybauskaitė underlined that nuclear security was a priority item on Lithuania’s agenda. Lithuania was acting in full compliance with all safety requirements at both the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which was being dismantled, and the planned Visaginas nuclear power plant.
“There are no problems whatsoever regarding Lithuania,” Yukiya Amano said.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, the people of Lithuania however were highly concerned about the safety of the nuclear power plants projected for construction in the neighboring Kaliningrad region and Belarus and well as about the fact that their construction did not conform to international conventions and standards.
“The focus and role of international organizations in ensuring the safety of the existing and planned nuclear power facilities are of utmost importance for public trust in nuclear energy. Lithuania seeks to have the same strict security standards applied to all nuclear power plants, both the neighborhood and around the world, with international organizations performing monitoring and supervision missions,” the President said.
At all international events Lithuania proposes to make nuclear safety requirements obligatory and more stringent as well as to enhance the IAEA role in monitoring commitments. At Lithuania’s initiative, last year the European Council gave a mandate to EU institutions for requesting that stress tests be carried out not only at nuclear power plants operating in the European Union, but also worldwide.
Lithuania welcomes all IAEA initiatives in this field and seeks to make IAEA site and infrastructure assessments of planned nuclear power plants obligatory and their results publicly known.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė pointed out that information about the IAEA missions and their results in Belarus and Kaliningrad would ensure a more transparent implementation of these projects. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said that he was planning to visit Belarus this coming April to discuss issues related to the construction of a nuclear power plant in Astravets, which raises some serious concerns for Lithuania.
The safety of nuclear power facilities to be built in Kaliningrad and Belarus is among the agenda items discussed at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
Available at: http://baltic-review.com/2012/03/nuclear-power-plants-planned-for-construction-in-lithuanias-neighborhood-receive-international-attention/
1. Tepco Detects High Radiation Levels Inside Fukushima Reactor
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it found the highest radiation levels inside one of the crippled reactors at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant since the disaster in March last year.
Radiation levels inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel were between 31.1 and 72.9 sieverts per hour, Naohiro Omura, a spokesman for the utility, said by phone. The high levels indicate the presence of radioactive substances from melted fuel inside the containment chamber, said Omura.
The findings came more than three months after Tepco and the government declared they succeeded in bringing the crippled reactors into a safe state known as cold shutdown. Tepco will need to conduct further studies to see whether the high radiation levels would affect its plan to decommission the reactors within 30 to 40 years, Omura said.
“We still believe melted fuel is being cooled” as the water temperature was between 48.5 and 50 degrees Celsius (119.3 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit) even as the water level inside the containment was lower than expected, Omura said. The water level was 60 centimeters from the bottom of the containment vessel, compared with as much as 4.5 meters estimated by the utility before the investigation, he said.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-28/tepco-detects-high-radiation-levels-inside-fukushima-reactor.html
A few decades ago, the two countries were on opposite sides in the Cold War era. Now, they are seeking ways for win-win business solutions.
Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with its Vietnamese counterpart on checking the viability of building a nuclear power plant.
They will initiate studies next month, which are expected to take around a year to conclude.
“Korea has practically clinched the status as preferred bidder to construct a nuclear power plant in Vietnam by agreeing to start feasibility checks for the project,” Deputy Knowledge Economy Minister Moon Jae-do said.
If the Vietnamese government and assembly approve, the Korean side would be able to win the project to operate a pair of nuclear plants there.
The Vietnamese government wants the plants to meet the rising demand for electricity and Korea wants to export its APR 1400 reactors to the Southeast Asian nation.
Late last year, the two nations agreed to cooperate on nuclear energy and this is the first substantive contract under which they would come up with specific plans.
Should Seoul be able to sign an agreement with Hanoi, it would mark a second achievement of the former in its plan to export its nuclear energy technology.
A Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp. signed an $18.6 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates in late 2009 under which they would build a total of four nuclear reactors there.
After the largest energy deal in the Middle East, Korea has strived to seal follow-up contracts to little avail, particularly in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan last March.
If the Vietnamese deal fares well, Asia’s No. 4 economy is expected to gain fresh momentum in its long-term goal of raising its status through nuclear energy.
Korea is one of the world’s nuclear powerhouses as the country depends on the energy source to meet around a third of its energy consumption.
Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2012/03/123_107941.html
2. India Offers Help in Search of Orphan Radioactive Sources
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Offering assistance through the global nuclear watchdog IAEA, India today said that it can help in search and recovery of orphan radioactive sources in countries that were unable to effectively deal with them.
"India offered assistance through the IAEA for search and recovery of orphan radioactive sources in countries which were unable to effectively deal with them and had sought such assistance," said the National Progress Report, presented by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the second Nuclear Security Summit here.
The report also stresses on minimisation of use of civilian Highly Enriched Uranium, which was the base for the fuel in the Apsara reactor located inside the Bhahba Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai. "...the enriched uranium based fuel in the APSARA reactor was placed in a safeguarded facility in December 2010. APSARA will use indigenous fuel which is not high enriched uranium," the report said. However, it noted the growing demand for large-scale production of isotopes for a range of applications -- healthcare, industry, food and agriculture.
"India's three-stage nuclear programme is based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle, the principle of 'reprocess-to-reuse' and ensuring control over nuclear material at all stages," it said. The report lists steps taken by India to secure it nuclear material under eight heads, including signing international legal instruments, support to the International Atomic Energy Agency, UN and other mechanisms, the national legal framework, reduction of nuclear material and international cooperation. On Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP), being set up on the outskirts of Delhi near Bahadurgarh in Haryana, the report said the Centre is envisioned as an international facility for research and development of systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant and sustainable.
"The Centre will carry out research and development in radiation monitoring, including development of detectors and nuclear emergency management," the report said.
It will also have state of the art training facilities for Indian and international participants and research by Indian and visiting international scientists.
On initiatives in this regard, the report states that India had recently developed an Advance Heavy Water Reactor based in low enriched uranium and thorium with new safety and proliferation-resistant features.
"India is party to all the 13 universal instruments accepted as benchmarks for a State's commitment to combat international terrorism," the report said.
It said that India was party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and was amongst the few countries which have also ratified the 2005 amendment to the Convention. "India looks forward to early entry into force of the 2005 Amendment." the report said.
India is also Party to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, it said, adding the country supported efforts for promoting the universality of these two Conventions. On UN efforts, the report said that since 2002, India has piloted a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly on measures to prevent terrorists gaining access to Weapons of Mass Destruction. "This resolution has been adopted by the General Assembly by consensus," it noted.
It said India was also a party to Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and has participated in its working groups on nuclear detection, nuclear forensics and response and mitigation.
"While nuclear security is being addressed at different fora, there is need to ensure that these efforts are mutually complementary and reinforce the related activities of the IAEA," it said.
"We also cooperate with the Interpol's Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit and the World Customs Organisation. India participated in the High Level Meeting called by the UN Secretary General on Nuclear Safety and Security on 22 September 2011," the report said.
Available at: http://zeenews.india.com/news/technology/india-offers-help-in-search-of-orphan-radioactive-sources_766392.html
Sweden recently carried out a secret operation in which three kilogrammes of plutonium was shipped to the United States for disposal, foreign minister Carl Bildt divulged on Tuesday.
The plutonium was sent over on the condition that it would be safely destroyed in a cooperative effort to increase worldwide nuclear safety.
"This highly sensitive material has now, under high security ... been transferred to the United States for disposal within the framework of the US Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI)," Bildt wrote in an article published in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
The GTRI is aimed at protecting sensitive material to prevent it being used for the production of nuclear devices or in acts of terrorism.
The plutonium, which Bildt wrote was shipped to the US “for final and safe disposal”, was allegedly shipped with utmost discretion from the shores of Sweden.
The US government has guaranteed that the plutonium will not be used by the military. Bildt pointed to this cooperation as being a “concrete contribution” by Sweden in the efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear material.
The Swedish consignment was shipped by boat "under great discretion," Bildt said. "Several countries have previously shipped enriched uranium, but the Swedish contribution breaks new ground because it is the first time that reprocessed plutonium has been transferred within the framework of the GTRI," he added.
He wrote that the plutonium has its background in Swedish research and development programmes from the 1950s and 1960s.
Most of it comes from the now-closed Ågesta nuclear reactor outside stockholm, while smaller amounts were acquired "at an early stage" from the United States and Britain for research into nuclear weapons.
According to the minister, Sweden’s actions can serve as support and inspiration to other countries, and will hopefully lead to an international cooperation in terms of ridding the world of nuclear material. “Together, we must do all we can to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, to prevent the further spreading and so that they never, ever, shall be used,” Bildt wrote in DN.
On Tuesday, Bildt will discuss this international cooperation at a summit on nuclear safety in Seoul, South Korea.
Available at: http://www.thelocal.se/39912/20120327/
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