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Nuclear News - 4/19/2012
PGS Nuclear News, April 19, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Iran
    1. Nuclear Talks Don't Exempt Iran from Attack: Barak, Ori Lewis, Reuters (4/17/2012)
    2. Iran Says Ready to Resolve Nuclear Issues, Marcus George, Reuters (4/16/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. North Korea Breaks Off Nuclear Accord as Food Aid Halted, Sangwon Yoon, Bloomberg (4/18/2012)
    2. North Korea Refuses To Allow IAEA Monitors, Says It Will Launch Another Rocket With Satellite, Sreeja Vn, International Business Times (4/17/2012)
    3. U.N. Condemns North Korea Launch, Warns on Nuclear Test, Louis Charbonneau , Reuters (4/16/2012)
C.  Japan
    1. Official 'Decommissioning' of Fukushima Reactors Brings Locals no Peace, The Mainichi (4/18/2012)
    2. Fukushima Damage Leaves Spent Fuel at Risk-U.S. Lawmaker, Roberta Rampton, Reuters (4/16/2012)
    3. Another Thermometer Breaks at Fukushima, The Japan Times (4/16/2012)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Japanese Nuclear Fuel Cycle under Review, World Nuclear News (4/18/2012)
    2. Kuwait's Nuclear Power Dilema, BBC News (4/16/2012)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. India Pitches for Membership of Global Non-Proliferation Regimes, Indrani Bagchi, Times of India (4/19/2012)
    2. French Sarkozy Denies Hawking Nuclear Reactor to Gaddafi, Reuters (4/17/2012)
    3. Ambassador: Ukraine to Participate in Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Jordan, Kyiv Post (4/16/2012)
F.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. India Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile that Can Reach China, Jatrindra Dash, Reuters (4/19/2012)
    2. Nuclear Reactor Shut Down in Ukraine over Power Line Accident, Xinhua News Agency (4/17/2012)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Nuclear Waste Burial Could Be in the Backyard, Linas Jegelevicius, The Baltic Times (4/18/2012)
    2. Russian Nuclear Reactors’ Designer Held on Suspicion of Fraud, RIA Novosti (4/17/2012)
    3. Saudi Arabia Looks to Develop own Nuclear Power, WND (4/15/2012)

A.  Iran

Nuclear Talks Don't Exempt Iran from Attack: Barak
Ori Lewis
(for personal use only)

Israel's defense minister said on Tuesday that Israeli military action against Iran remains an option even while nuclear negotiations are under way, and voiced strong doubts whether the talks would succeed.
Asked whether the negotiations, which began in Turkey on Saturday, could persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment, Ehud Barak told Army Radio: "It does not look to me as if it is going to happen - not now, in the wake of Istanbul, and not ... after the (Baghdad round of talks next month)."

Barak is due to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington on Thursday amid speculation in the Israeli media that Israel has promised its main ally that it will refrain from attacking Iran while the talks continue.

"We are not committing to anything," Barak said, when asked whether any such pledge had been made. "There is not, there has not been, there should not be and there cannot be (such a promise)."

Barak has said that Iran could soon enter a "zone of immunity" against Israeli attack as it puts its nuclear installations deep underground, comments that raised international concern that a strike could be nearing.

In the interview, he reiterated Israeli fears that the negotiations between Iran and a group comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany could drag on and waste what he described as "precious time".

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to open a rift with Washington over the talks by saying that a five-week break between the Istanbul meeting and the next session in Baghdad on May 23 gave Iran a "freebie" to continue enriching uranium.

U.S. President Barack Obama, responding to Netanyahu's accusations, said "so far at least we haven't given anything away" and that it had been made clear to Iran that "the clock is ticking" and there could be no "stalling process".

Israel and the West fear Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.

In an interview on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the Islamic Republic could make concessions on its higher-grade uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

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Iran Says Ready to Resolve Nuclear Issues
Marcus George
(for personal use only)

Iran is ready to resolve all nuclear issues in the next round of talks with world powers if the West starts lifting sanctions, its foreign minister said on Monday.

In an interview with the Iranian student news agency ISNA, Ali Akbar Salehi also hinted that Iran could make concessions on its higher-grade uranium enrichment, a key concern of Western powers which suspect Iran is covertly developing a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran denies the accusations.

Both sides said they were content with progress made in Saturday's talks in Istanbul which did not go into detail but, unlike earlier rounds of negotiations, stayed on the subject of Iran's nuclear programme.

"If the West wants to take confidence-building measures it should start in the field of sanctions because this action can speed up the process of negotiations reaching results," Salehi was quoted as saying.

"If there is goodwill, one can pass through this process very easily and we are ready to resolve all issues very quickly and simply and even in the Baghdad meeting," he added, referring to a second round of talks with world powers scheduled to take place in the Iraqi capital on May 23.

It is unclear whether the Iranian foreign minister was suggesting the lifting of sanctions prior to Iran taking steps to reassure the West over its nuclear activities, but Washington has said that would not be acceptable.

"Dialogue is not sufficient for any sanctions relief, one has to get to concrete actions that are significant," said a senior Obama administration official after the talks on Saturday.

"One only begins to look at those issues when there are sufficient concrete steps taken that warrant any changes in our approach to sanctions," the official said.

Denmark, holder of the European Union's rotating presidency, also said sanctions should not be eased until Tehran takes steps to comply with the demands of the major world powers.

"I think it would be very dangerous to create a situation where we say to Iranians we might lift part of the sanctions," Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal told reporters. "They are world champions in making very long negotiations lead nowhere."

Salehi asserted Iran's right to process uranium for peaceful purposes but that there might be room for a compromise on higher-level enrichment.

"Enrichment is Iran's right but we can negotiate on how we obtain uranium with different enrichment levels," he said.

"Making 20 percent (enriched nuclear) fuel is our right as long as it provides for our reactor needs and there is no question about that," he said, but added: "If they guarantee that they will provide us with the different levels of enriched fuel that we need, then that would be another issue."

The comments indicate that Iran may be prepared to consider an updated proposal of a 2009 fuel swap deal that collapsed when the two sides failed to agree on the details of implementation.

The 2009 deal would have seen Tehran export an agreed amount of its lower enriched uranium in return for fuel made from higher grade uranium which is required for the Tehran research reactor (TRR).

Iran says it started enriching uranium to a purity of 20 percent to fuel the reactor but many countries see that as a dangerous step towards the 90 percent enrichment required for an atomic bomb.

A Western diplomat said the Iranian delegation brought up the 2009 deal in Istanbul and described it as a "missed opportunity".

"This talk of the TRR could be a positive sign," he said. "We are ready to put the TRR back on the table, but with adapted quantities because things have moved since that offer."

The 2009 agreement envisaged Iran handing over 1,200 kg of low enriched uranium (LEU) in exchange for a sufficient quantity of higher-grade enriched fuel plates to feed the Tehran reactor.

Western experts estimate Iran's present stockpile of refined uranium is enough for four atomic bombs if processed much further.

While Salehi's comments strike a positive tone, the diplomat said perspective was needed: "There is no mystery, Baghdad will be complicated. It's not about opening talks for the sake of talks but moving towards Iran meetings its obligations."

Many analysts and some diplomats say both sides must compromise for any chance of a long-term settlement: Iran would be allowed to continue limited low-level enrichment if it in return accepts much more intrusive U.N. nuclear inspections.

Another Western diplomat said he believed the Iranians were trying to create momentum in a deal revolving around uranium enriched to 20 percent and Salehi's comments were more than just words.

"It has been quite a long time since the issue has been raised in such terms. I don't know where it could lead ... but it could at least be a good starter for the next meeting," he said.

But Israel, which sees Iran's nuclear plans as an existential threat, has demanded that the Islamic Republic halts all its enrichment, activity which can have both civilian and military purposes.

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B.  North Korea

North Korea Breaks Off Nuclear Accord as Food Aid Halted
Sangwon Yoon
(for personal use only)

North Korea broke off an agreement to halt testing of nuclear devices and long-range missiles after the U.S. canceled food assistance to the totalitarian regime following last week’s botched rocket launch.
North Korea is now “free” to take “necessary retaliatory measures” after the U.S. withdrew its offer of 240,000 tons of food, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement today carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

Jasper Kim, founder and chief executive officer of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, talks about North Korea's third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un and the nation's failed rocket launch. North Korea won’t be bullied by its nuclear-armed enemies, Kim Jong Un said in his first public address at a military parade yesterday as South Korea warned that his regime may conduct an atomic test.

It is also prepared to wage a “holy war” against South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s government and would take “special action” against targets that could include central Seoul, an unidentified spokesman of the supreme command of the Korean People’s Army said in a separate statement carried by KCNA. The regime often issues statements threatening war.

The Obama administration pressed North Korea to cancel the April 13 launch of the rocket, which disintegrated minutes after liftoff, saying it would nullify the Feb. 29 accord to provide food in return for the suspension of nuclear and missile tests. South Korea said the result may lead new leader Kim Jong Un to compensate for the failure by testing a nuclear device.

“There will be a cooling-off period where the U.S. and North Korea exchange criticisms and shift blame on the other,” said Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “Depending on China’s role in that process, this could turn to dialogue or additional provocation by North Korea.”

The U.S. is abusing the United Nations Security Council by “imposing its brigandish demand,” the foreign ministry said, referring to the 15-member body’s censure issued this week. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is the council president this month.

North Korea’s statement is “not surprising, given their recent behavior,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in Washington. Asked whether the U.S. had information North Korea was preparing to test a nuclear device, he said, “there’s been this pattern of bad behavior, if you will. So we can’t preclude anything at this point.”

The Security Council’s April 16 statement called the launch a “serious violation” of existing resolutions that ban North Korea from using its ballistic missile technology. The council also said it would update its list of sanctioned goods.

The UN body moved more quickly than in the past to censure North Korea, and China’s approval signals that the Kim regime’s only ally “might be taking a firmer stance against the North,” Yang said. China is a permanent veto-wielding member of Security Council.

The rocket, which was fired on April 13 to put a satellite into orbit, exploded shortly after liftoff over the Yellow Sea, scattering debris off the South Korean coast. A South Korean intelligence report warned a week ago that recent activity at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear testing site is consistent with preparations for previous atomic device detonations.

South Korea yesterday called off a search for debris after four days of unsuccessful attempts to locate parts from the rocket due to murky waters and strong currents.

Kim Jong Un, who took power in December following the death of his father Kim Jong Il, used his first public speech on April 15 to say the world can’t threaten or blackmail North Korea’s “undefeated” 1.2 millionong military.

Two UN resolutions are already in place after North Korea detonated atomic devices in 2006 and 2009. The measures call for stepped-up inspection of suspect air and sea cargo and seek to block funding for nuclear, missile and proliferation work.

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North Korea Refuses To Allow IAEA Monitors, Says It Will Launch Another Rocket With Satellite
Sreeja Vn
International Business Times
(for personal use only)

North Korea will not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspectors to examine the country's nuclear program, in retaliation to the UN's tough stand against its rocket launch.

Pyongyang went a step further and said it would continue with its satellite program and launch another rocket with a satellite in the next five years, according to the Japanese media as reported by The Telegraph.

Pyongyang had earlier promised that it would allow international nuclear monitors to examine its uranium enrichment program, in exchange of a food aid deal with the US.
However, North Korea said it would reject the IAEA nuclear monitors in the wake of the decision by the US to scrap the food deal and UN's condemnation following its failed rocket launch.

The US and North Korea had signed a deal two months ago, under which the US was supposed give several thousand metric tons of food aid to North Korea and, in exchange, Pyongyang would stop its nuclear program and ballistic missile testing. The deal also allowed international nuclear monitors access to the North's Yongbyon nuclear processing facility.

However, North Korea announced its satellite launch using a rocket with the ballistic missile technology and went ahead with the launch defying international pressure to back off. The rocket launch ended in a humiliating failure as it exploded immediately after takeoff.

The US scrapped the food deal while the UN Security Council strongly condemned the rocket launch and ordered tightening of sanctions.

This has prompted North Korea to announce that the nuclear moratorium agreement has been abandoned, while the state media has blamed the US for the same.

Nevertheless, collapsing of the deal means that now North Korea will not be bound by the UN resolutions and might even go ahead with its third nuclear test, The Telegraph report said.
It is being speculated that North Korea is preparing for an underground nuclear test. World powers, including China, Pyongyang's closest ally, have warned it against any further provocations.

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U.N. Condemns North Korea Launch, Warns on Nuclear Test
Louis Charbonneau
(for personal use only)

The U.N. Security Council on Monday strongly condemned North Korea's rocket launch, urged tightening of existing U.N. sanctions and warned Pyongyang of further consequences if it carries out another missile launch or nuclear test.

China, a permanent veto-wielding council member and North Korea's protector on the 15-nation panel, backed the council's "presidential statement," which was adopted unanimously.

U.N. diplomats said the council's relatively quick agreement on a declaration condemning Pyongyang signaled Beijing's irritation with its hermit neighbor over a satellite launch last week that North Korea had been widely urged not to carry out.

"The Security Council strongly condemns the 13 April 2012 (local time) launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," the statement said.

"The Security Council demands that the DPRK (North Korea) not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology and comply with (Security Council) resolutions ... by suspending all activities related to its ballistic missile program," it said.

The council declaration also demands that North Korea "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner ... and not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any further provocation."
It concludes with a warning to Pyongyang that the council is prepared to take further steps if necessary.

"The Security Council expresses its determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test," it said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who is the Security Council president this month, told reporters that Monday's decision showed how united the world was.

"The swift and unanimous adoption of this strong presidential statement shows that the international community is united in sending a clear message to North Korea that such provocations are serious and totally unacceptable," she said.

"The Security Council made clear that there will be consequences for any future North Korean launch or nuclear test," she said.

She said the statement was tougher than one the council issued after North Korea's April 2009 missile launch. The 2009 statement said the council "condemns" the launch, while Monday's declaration said it "strongly condemns" Pyongyang.

Rice described the council statement as calling for "new sanctions," though what it actually urges is an expansion of the list of firms, individuals and goods the Security Council blacklisted after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

Under those measures, North Korea is banned from using, developing or importing ballistic missile and nuclear technologies.

Rice said the U.S. delegation would soon propose a "robust package" of names of individuals and companies to be added to the existing U.N. blacklist, along with additional goods that North Korea would be banned from importing.

The statement does not result in an immediate expansion of the North Korea sanctions regime. Rather it instructs the U.N. sanctions committee to expand its existing sanctions blacklist within 15 days and to review that list annually.

The committee, which includes all 15 council members and works on the basis of consensus, will have to take a separate decision on expanding the U.N. blacklist. China will therefore have an opportunity to thwart any push for adding new names to the North Korea sanctions list if it chooses to do so.
Asked whether she expected Pyongyang to explode another atomic device in defiance of the council, Rice said North Korea followed its 2006 and 2009 missile launches with nuclear tests.

"Clearly the potential for that pattern to persist is one that all members of the international community are mindful of and think would be a disastrous course for the North to pursue," she said. "It will only lead to the North's increased isolation."

North Korea admitted its long-range rocket failed to deliver a satellite into orbit on Friday while U.S. and South Korean officials said it crashed into the sea a few minutes after launch.

While the statement called for tightening existing U.N. sanctions, diplomats said no council member had seriously pushed the idea of imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang in retaliation for the launch, something China and Russia would have opposed.

The existing U.N. blacklist of sanctioned firms and individuals includes those linked to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile industries.

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C.  Japan

Official 'Decommissioning' of Fukushima Reactors Brings Locals no Peace
The Mainichi
(for personal use only)

At the stroke of midnight on April 19, Japan's nuclear reactor count will officially drop from 54 to 50, as the ruined No. 1-4 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be formally retired.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) submitted the decommissioning paperwork to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at the end of March this year, and the necessary legal procedures have been progressing quietly ever since. While the operational lives of the shattered reactors may be officially over, however, they continue to be the source of significant problems, as well as of a serious threat to the lives and livelihoods of many across Japan.

The load is particularly heavy on those who have been literally dislocated by the March 2011 meltdowns, forced from their homes by radioactive contamination, such as the people of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture.

"How will you extract the melted fuel from the reactors?" "How can we believe you when you say, 'It will be safe after decontamination' even while radioactive material leaks continue?"

These were just a few of the angry comments and questions posed by Naraha townspeople at an April 11 central government information session in the prefectural city of Iwaki, where they now live as nuclear disaster refugees. Most of Naraha is currently covered by the 20-kilometer no-go zone around the Fukushima No. 1 plant, and the entire town was evacuated. The April 11 meeting was held to tell residents they would soon be able to go home, as the entire town -- with local radiation doses at 20 millisieverts per year or less -- was to be re-designated for preparation for lifting the evacuation order.
Happy news, one might think, but residents' anger became obvious during the question and answer section.

"We need safe air and water for our children," one person said. "We are not guinea pigs!" cried another. Kensuke Tomita, the government's representative at the meeting and deputy head of the Cabinet's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, finally replied that "TEPCO and the government will take responsibility for restoring local infrastructure, decontamination and (nuclear disaster) compensation," but he emerged from the encounter shocked.

"I never thought there'd be this much of a backlash," he said. The town government, meanwhile, has given up on plans to have Naraha re-designated before the end of April.

One of the main reasons for the townspeople's anger is the continued problems at the ruined nuclear plant, despite the government's December 2011 declaration that it was in "cold shutdown."
Just in April, there has been another contaminated water leak (April 5), a breakdown in the No. 4 reactor's spent fuel pool cooling system (April 12), and a halt in the flow of nitrogen gas to the No. 1-3 reactors, necessary to prevent further hydrogen explosions (April 13).

Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato told an April 16 meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters that the problems at the plant were "stirring anxiety among the people of the prefecture," and once more demanded the government supervise operations there thoroughly.

The official decommissioning of the plant's No. 1-4 reactors appears to be one step towards fulfilling the prefecture's demands that all nuclear reactors in its jurisdiction be shuttered, but "our goal in demanding reactors be shut down is the protection of our residents' safety," a Fukushima prefectural official told the Mainichi.

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Another Thermometer Breaks at Fukushima
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)

One of the two remaining thermometers at the bottom of the pressure vessel of reactor No. 2 at the Fukushima power plant is broken, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday.

The finding follows the discovery of a broken thermometer in the same unit in February and means only 18 of its 36 temperature sensors are working, magnifying concerns about the utility's long-term ability to monitor the crippled facility.

Tepco said that the sensor's reading instantaneously jumped 6 degrees to hit 60 around 9 p.m. Saturday.

After checking the equipment, engineers found that the electric resistance of the device had greatly increased and concluded it was broken.

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the reading of the only operational thermometer at the bottom of the reactor read 46.7 degrees, which is well below the "cold shutdown" threshold of 100 degrees, when water starts boiling and radioactive materials are released.

"We are able to check the temperatures at the vessel's bottom with the remaining one and assess whether a cold shutdown was being maintained by monitoring all the thermometers, including those at other locations," a Tepco spokesman said.

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Fukushima Damage Leaves Spent Fuel at Risk-U.S. Lawmaker
Roberta Rampton
(for personal use only)

Japan, with assistance from the U.S. government, needs to do more to move spent fuel rods out of harm's way at the tsunamiicken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Monday.

Wyden, a senior Democratic senator on the Senate Energy committee, toured the ruined Fukushima plant on April 6, and said the damage was far worse than he expected.

"Seeing the extent of the disaster first-hand during my visit conveyed the magnitude of this tragedy and the continuing risks and challenges in a way that news accounts cannot," said Wyden in a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States.

Last March, an earthquake followed by a tsunami wrecked the Fukushima plant, causing the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and prompting global scrutiny of the safety of nuclear power plants.
Wyden said he was most worried about spent fuel rods stored in damaged pools adjacent to the ocean, and urged the Japanese government to accept international help to prevent further release of the radioactive material if another earthquake should happen.

In a statement on his website, Wyden said the only protection for the pools from another tsunami appeared to be "a small, makeshift sea wall erected out of bags of rock."

Wyden said the spent fuel should be moved to safer storage sooner than anticipated under a 10-year clean-up plan from TEPCO, the owner of the nuclear plant.

The lawmaker also wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and top U.S. nuclear regulator Gregory Jaczko to ask them to find ways to help Japan address the problem.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Japanese Nuclear Fuel Cycle under Review
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

Japan is evaluating a wide range of nuclear fuel cycle options as part of the larger review of the future role of nuclear power within energy policy, a government minister told the annaul meeting of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum.

Goshi Hosano holds a range of positions in the Japanese government: Minister for the Environment, Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident, and Minister of State for Nuclear Policy and Administration. He explained the reviews of fuel cycle policy during a speech today at JAIF's 45th Annual Conference, being held in Tokyo.

A subcommittee has been established to look at the options for future nuclear fuel cycles that aims to sort out discussion points and organize the data available. These activities will include economic feasibility estimates for the various nuclear fuel cycle options.

The subcommittee will carry out its deliberations in three steps starting with a review of technical options. Five options are being considered, one scenario involving direct disposal of light-water reactor fuel after use, two scenarios where this is reprocessed and with fuel materials recycled as mixed-oxide fuel. Two more scenarios look at the use of fast reactors and fast breeder reactors.

A review of policy options is then to follow which will look at direct disposal of the used fuel, reprocessing of the country's entire stock and a combination of the two.

The last step is to combine the first two reviews, at the same time adding a time axis of mid-to-long term scenarios.

This review will quantify the amount of plutonium and used fuel generated by each option as well as looking at broader impacts such as energy security, the international perspective, and the impacts of the changes resulting from each of the potential policies.

Separately Japan is reviewing its Basic Energy Policy, which may recommend nuclear's contribution to electricity be targeted at either 0%, 20%, 26% or 36% for the medium term.

Hosono used his opportunity of speaking directly to the Japanese nuclear industry to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of workers who dealt with the immediate impacts of the Fukushima accident, saying they commanded his highest respect.

For the longer term the minister emphasised the importance of developing human resources to deal with the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi.

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Kuwait's Nuclear Power Dilema
BBC News
(for personal use only)

With growing power demands from its booming population, Kuwait suffers chronic energy shortages particularly in the summer months.

In a bid to solve this, the government had planned to turn to nuclear energy until Japan's Fukushima crisis prompted Kuwait to scrap plans to build four nuclear reactors.

The decision was welcomed by opponents who said Kuwait's limited landmass meant disposing of waste materials would be both dangerous and expensive.

But with neighbouring countries UAE and Iran both embarking on nuclear energy programmes, can Kuwait afford not to join the pack?

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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

India Pitches for Membership of Global Non-Proliferation Regimes
Indrani Bagchi
Times of India
(for personal use only)

India on Wednesday made the most persuasive case for India's "full membership" of the global non-proliferation regimes. In a major policy statement, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai told a gathering of nuclear experts that "the logical conclusion of partnership with India is its full membership of the four multilateral regimes."

Mathai, unusually, gave a detailed exposition of India's own strategic export control regime, national laws governing trade in sensitive items and its enforcement mechanisms. The aim, said officials, was to be more open about India's own efforts and systems while making a more compelling case for New Delhi's membership to the non-proliferation regimes. India's efforts to join the four top non-proliferation regimes - Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control regime (MTCR), Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement - started out in November 2010, but the campaign is yet to acquire critical mass.

While India is yet to make a formal application to join the regimes, its proposed membership has started a debate in these clubs. Over the next few months, all four clubs will be holding their plenary sessions where the Indian case will figure prominently. The government believes the top diplomat's statement today will provide an impetus to India's case and stir the debate. Another complaint has been about India's almost brahminical approach to what its doing in the non-proliferation field. Thus far, there has been little attempt by the Indian government to explain its non-proliferation objectives, systems and mechanisms to the world. With Mathai's speech, the government is also trying to clear the cobwebs about itself to the world.

In the months since November 2010, when India made a bid to join these groups, India has held several "outreach" sessions with all four. Mathai said he was in Vienna in March for the NSG outreach, while he expected to conduct an Australia Group outreach within the next few weeks. But its now being felt in the government that the Indian campaign has to move into higher gear. Today was a sort of opening salvo. Mathai clarified India has placed 12 out of 14 of its nuclear reactors under international safeguards, which puts India well within the deadline for compliance with its separation plan. He also reiterated India's commitment to ratify the additional protocol which envisages more intrusive checks into India's civilian nuclear sector.

India's membership is not an easy decision. First, there is an NPT adherence that is seen as crucial criteria. India has not signed the NPT and is not likely to do so, as a non-nuclear weapons state. So India's membership into these groups would have to take this refusal into account. Trying to transcend this hurdle, Mathai suggested they look at the bigger picture. "There are underlying objectives and principles that are common to all the regimes to which India subscribes to fully as it has demonstrated responsible non-proliferation and export control practices and has shown the ability and willingness to contribute substantially to global non-proliferation objectives." Whether this is acceptable is not yet clear. Although India wants to join with the four regimes in tandem, the NSG is believed to be the more important one. This year, India believes that with the US at the helm of NSG, its case might be easier.

Mathai said India, has the ability to produce and manufacture a large portion of the products that are controlled by these regimes. "As India's integration with the global supply chains moves forward, it would be in the interest of the four regimes that India's exports are subject to the same framework as other major supplier countries." It effectively puts the onus elsewhere - that outside the club, India can still manufacture sensitive items and they would be unregulated by the non-proliferation regimes. This should be a powerful argument for India being inside the tent. Of course, he left unsaid the fact that China's decision to supply nuclear reactors to Pakistan without the NSG waiver, has actually emasculated the global body.

Instead, Mathai interestingly placed India's actions and objectives of strong export control systems within India's development matrix. "As India's integration with global trade patterns and supply chains deepens, it would increasingly become an important hub of manufacturing and export of high technology items. Foreign investment including through offsets for governmental procurement will strengthen our global links. Our export control system would add to the reliability and credibility of Indian companies in the global market and thus increase their competitive edge."

The foreign secretary added, "India has continued with its policy of refraining from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR) to states that do not possess them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread." While India might be fully in compliance, the NSG has adopted a guideline that prevents ENR technologies from going to non-NPT states. This would put India out of the box. The current negotiations are trying to square that circle. Mathai said India supports the IAEA's fuel-bank resolution and pitched to become a supplier state. Obviously, India cannot be a full supplier if it cannot access latest ENR technologies.

India, he said, not only had a series of legislative tools to control sensitive trade - from Atomic Energy Act, Customs Act of 1962 to the WMD Act of 2005 - to a robust enforcement mechanism. Mathai said, "DGFT is in the process of introducing by June this year an online application system that would not only further ease the application process but also facilitate implementation." He added, "We view a strong and effective national export control system as an essential link between our broader national security goals and our wider foreign policy objectives."

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French Sarkozy Denies Hawking Nuclear Reactor to Gaddafi
(for personal use only)

President Nicolas Sarkozy denied on Tuesday an allegation by the former head of French nuclear group Areva that he had sought to sell a nuclear reactor to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi until mid-2010.

"There was never any question of selling a reactor to Mr. Gaddafi," Sarkozy told France Inter radio, a week after Anne Lauvergeon, Areva's chief executive until 2011, made the claim in an interview on the website of L'Express last Tuesday.

Lauvergeon, known as "Atomic Anne", was a top aide to late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand and has been tipped as a possible minister in a future Socialist government under Francois Hollande.

Her allegation has been read as a political salvo coming as the conservative Sarkozy battles in vain to narrow Hollande's double-digit lead for a May 6 presidential runoff that will follow a first-round vote on Sunday.

"Allow me to tell you that if there is one head of state in the world who has not associated with Mr. Gaddafi and who is responsible for his departure and his fate then that is me," Sarkozy told France Inter.

Sarkozy led the West's intervention in Libya that helped rebels end Gaddafi's 42-year rule. But in 2007 he welcomed the late dictator to Paris. A nuclear cooperation agreement between the two nations signed in December that year and made available to the media at the time provides for the supply of reactors.

Sarkozy's aides have said Lauvergeon was trying to settle scores and said that if she had been witness to any misconduct in her former post, she should have reported it at the time.

Sarkozy has been pounding Hollande for months over his agreement with the Greens party to reduce France's dependency on nuclear power if the left wins the election and has visited nuclear sites to underline his support for the industry.

Relations between Sarkozy and Lauvergeon have soured to the point where he blocked her reappointment as chief executive last year and Areva initially withheld her 1.5 million euro ($2 million) severance pay in a dispute over a botched takeover of Canadian uranium mining start-up UraMin.

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Ambassador: Ukraine to Participate in Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Jordan
Kyiv Post
(for personal use only)

Ukrainian companies want to participate in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Jordan, Ukrainian Ambassador to Jordan Serhiy Pasko has said.

He told Ukrainian reporters in Amman on Sunday that three companies, in particular, Canadian, French-Japanese and Russian (Rosatom), were currently participating in a tender for the construction of the nuclear power plant in Jordan.

"Of course, with our experience and our capabilities, Ukrainian enterprises could participate in this project as subcontractors. And we are keeping this issue under control... If Russia's Rosatom wins the tender, then, of course, Ukrainian companies will be able to join this project," Pasko said.

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F.  Nuclear Safety & Security

India Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile that Can Reach China
Jatrindra Dash
(for personal use only)

India successfully test-fired on Thursday a nuclear-capable missile that can reach Beijing and Eastern Europe, thrusting the emerging Asian power into a small club of nations that can deploy nuclear weapons at such a great distance.

Footage showed the rocket with a range of more than 5,000 km (3,100 miles) blasting through clouds from an island off India's east coast. It was not immediately clear how far the rocket flew before reaching its target in the Indian Ocean.

The defense minister said the test was "immaculate".

"Today's successful Agni-V test launch is another milestone in our quest to add to the credibility of our security and preparedness," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a message to the scientists who developed the rocket.

Almost entirely Indian-made, the Agni-V is the crowning achievement of a program developed primarily with a threat from neighboring China in mind. It will not be operational for at least two years, the government says.

Only the U.N. Security Council permanent members - China, France, Russia the United States and Britain - along with Israel, are believed to have such long-range weapons.

Fast emerging as a world economic power, India is keen to play a larger role on the global stage and has long angled for a permanent seat on the Security Council. In recent years it has emerged as the world's top arms importer as it upgrades equipment for a large but outdated military.

"It is one of the ways of signaling India's arrival on the global stage, that India deserves to be sitting at the high table," said Harsh Pant, a defense expert at King's College, London, describing the launch as a "confidence boost".

The launch, which was flagged well in advance, has attracted none of the criticism from the West faced by hermit state North Korea for a failed bid to send up a similar rocket last week.

China's Foreign Ministry said the two countries should "work hard to uphold friendly strategic cooperation", and for peace and stability in the region.

"China and India are large developing nations. We are not competitors but partners," the Chinese ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, said when asked about the missile test at a briefing.

The Global Times tabloid, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party's main mouthpiece the People's Daily, struck a less conciliatory tone.

"India should not overestimate its strength, "the paper said in an editorial published before the launch, which was delayed by a day because of bad weather.

India has not signed the non-proliferation treaty for nuclear nations, but enjoys a de facto legitimacy for its arsenal, boosted by a landmark 2008 deal with the United States.

On Wednesday, NATO said it did not consider India a threat. The U.S. State Department said India's non-proliferation record was "solid", while urging restraint.

India says its nuclear weapons program is for deterrence only. It is close to completing a nuclear submarine that will increase its ability to launch a counter strike if it were attacked.

India lost a brief Himalayan border war with its larger neighbor, China, in 1962 and has ever since strived to improve its defenses. In recent years the government has fretted over China's enhanced military presence near the border.

It is buying more than 100 advanced fighter jets, likely Rafales built by France's Dassault, in one of the largest global arms deals.

Even so, slow procurement procedures and corruption scandals mean its army, the world's second biggest, relies on critically outdated guns and suffers ammunition shortages.

Defense analyst Uday Bhaskar said India was not in an arms race with China, which has far greater capabilities, including missiles with a range closer to 10,000 km (6,000 miles).

"As and when Agni-V moves from technological proficiency to assured, credible and proven operational induction - maybe by 2014 - India will move towards acquiring that elusive mutuality it seeks with China," Bhaskar said in a column for Reuters.

Thursday's launch may prompt a renewed push from within India's defense establishment for a fully fledged intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, with weapons capable of reaching the Americas, though some of India's allies may bridle at such an ambition.

"Policy-wise it becomes more complicated from now on, until Agni-V, India really has been able to make a case about its strategic objectives, but as it moves into the ICBM frontier there'll be more questions asked," said Pant.

The Agni-V is the most advanced version of the indigenously built Agni, or Fire, series, part of a program that started in the 1960s. Earlier versions could reach old rival Pakistan and Western China.

The three stage rocket is powered by easier-to-use solid rocket propellants, can carry a 1-tonne nuclear warhead and is road mobile.

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Nuclear Reactor Shut Down in Ukraine over Power Line Accident
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

A high-voltage power transmission line broke at Yuzhnoukrainsk Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine's south late Monday, causing one nuclear reactor to shut, the Emergencies Ministry said Tuesday.

"Currently there is no threat of fire or radiation leak in the station," said the ministry's press service in a statement on its website.

The accident, which occurred around 8:16 p.m. local time (1816 GMT) on Monday, was caused by the destruction of the transformer of the second reactor, the statement said.

Yuzhnoukrainsk Nuclear Power Plant, in Mykolaiv region, is the second largest of five nuclear power stations in Ukraine. With three reactors, the plant has a net generation capacity of 2,850 megawatts.

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G.  Links of Interest

Nuclear Waste Burial Could Be in the Backyard
Linas Jegelevicius
The Baltic Times
(for personal use only)

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Russian Nuclear Reactors’ Designer Held on Suspicion of Fraud
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

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Saudi Arabia Looks to Develop own Nuclear Power
(for personal use only)

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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

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