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Nuclear News - 4/26/2012
PGS Nuclear News, April 26, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich


A.  Iran
    1. Russia Says Iran, West "Interested" in Nuclear Offer, Alexei Anishchuk (4/26/2012)
    2. Iran Nuclear-Program Raid Fears Ease, Conciliation Seen, Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg (4/26/2012)
    3. Iran Says It May Halt Nuclear Program Over Sanctions, Stepan Kravchenko and Henry Meyer, Bloomberg (4/25/2012)
    4. Russian Military Concedes Iran, N. Korea Nuclear Threat, RIA Novosti (4/24/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. North Korea Nuclear Test 'Ready Soon': Report, Oliver Tree, International Business Times (4/24/2012)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Rosatom Could Build Two Nuclear Power Stations in Britain, Artem Zagorodnov and Ben Aris, Telegraph (4/25/2012)
    2. Turkey to Analyse Japan, S.Korea and China for Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Sinop, Turkish Weekly (4/24/2012)
    3. S.Africa Wants Nuclear Contracts to Stay at Home, Sherilee Lakmidas, Reuters (4/23/2012)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Pakistan Follows India With Test of Nuclear-Capable Missile, Haris Anwar and Andrew MacAskill, Bloomberg (4/25/2012)
    2. High Level of Uranium Found in Mongolian Capital's Groundwater: Report, Xinhua News Agency (4/24/2012)
    3. GDF Suez Wants Quick Belgian Nuclear Decision, Cirelli Says, Tara Patel, Bloomberg, Bloomberg (4/23/2012)
E.  Japan
    1. OECD Urges Japan to Resume Operations of Nuclear Power Plants, The Mainichi (4/25/2012)
    2. Japan Fears Nuclear Plant Sits Atop Active Geological Fault, Reuters (4/25/2012)
    3. TEPCO Seeks to Reduce Groundwater Flowing into Reactor Buildings, The Mainichi (4/24/2012)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. A Coffin for Chernobyl, Alexander Sawitzki and Markian Ostaptschuk, Deutsche Welle (4/25/2012)
    2. Phasing Out Use of Highly-Enriched Uranium, Dave Brown, Business Insider (4/25/2012)
    3. Natural Nuclear Reactor May Unveil Physical Mysteries, Jordan Baker, Technician Online (4/24/2012)



A.  Iran

1.
Iran Nuclear-Program Raid Fears Ease, Conciliation Seen
Ladane Nasseri
Bloomberg
4/26/2012
(for personal use only)


Iranian and Israeli officials offered what may be conciliatory signs this week, easing concerns of a possible strike on the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear installations.

Iran’s envoy to Moscow, Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi, yesterday said officials are considering a Russian proposal to avert sanctions. Israel’s top military chief, meanwhile, said Iran’s leadership is “rational” and won’t seek to build a bomb, in comments reported the same day.

Tensions over the Iranian program helped drive Brent crude prices to about $125 a barrel last month, the highest in more than 3 1/2 years. Prices fell more than 2 percent on the next trading day after Iran and the world powers broke a 15-month stalemate on the nuclear conflict during talks April 14 in Istanbul. Negotiations are set to resume May 23 in Baghdad.

We’re seeing “signals of an easing of rhetoric on war, not an easing of pressure or sanctions,” said Scott Lucas, a professor at the University of Birmingham in England who founded a website that offers analysis on international affairs.

Odds compiled by Intrade.com that Israel or the U.S. will strike Iran by the end of this year dropped to about 28 percent this week, from 33 percent at the end of March and as high as 62 percent in February.

Iran is studying a proposal under which it would halt the expansion of its uranium enrichment work as part of its nuclear program and may allow stricter inspections of its atomic facilities, Sajjadi said in an April 25 interview at the Iranian Embassy in Moscow.

Lucas said it’s not clear whether Sajjadi was “speaking with the backup from the top.” It is yet to be seen whether this constitutes “a productive process leading to the Baghdad talks,” he said.
A European Union oil embargo against Iranian crude is set to come into force in July.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed Sajjadi’s remarks, saying he is “not a central player” in international talks over Iran’s nuclear program. “What’s most important is what Iran says and does at the negotiating table,” she told reporters yesterday in Washington.

Sajjadi also said his country will ensure it maintains its right to produce nuclear energy. Iran has long maintained that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it can enrich uranium on its soil.
While Iran says it needs the material for use as fuel in its Bushehr nuclear power plant and for a
Tehran medical- research reactor, the U.S. and EU accuse it of seeking to divert its use toward building nuclear weapons. Uranium enriched at higher degrees can form the core of a bomb.

In comments that preceded Sajjadi’s, Israel’s army Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz said in an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that a decision by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to build a bomb would be “an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile.”

“I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people,” Gantz said.
Gantz’s comments contrast sharply with the views of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, IHS Jane’s Middle East analyst David Hartwell wrote in a note today.

“Gantz’s unusually blunt intervention appears designed to quell the international hysteria that often accompanies the debate about Iran and military action,” Hartwell wrote. “While it appears to have been generally accepted, at least for the time being, that an Israeli attack is not imminent and indeed is very unlikely at all in 2012, Gantz’s comments will not reduce the Israeli government’s desire to keep the issue -- by whatever means -- near the top of the international diplomatic agenda for the rest of the year.”

Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-26/iran-nuclear-program-attack-fears-ease.html


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2.
Russia Says Iran, West "Interested" in Nuclear Offer
Alexei Anishchuk
4/26/2012
(for personal use only)


A Russian diplomat said on Wednesday that Iran and Western nations had shown interest in a Russian proposal aimed to help defuse the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, but suggested it had not been the focus of talks this month.

Russia has been calling for a "step-by-step" resolution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, which Western nations fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons and Tehran says is purely peaceful.

Moscow says Iran should take measures to ease concerns about its intentions and comply with U.N. demands, and in return be rewarded with the gradual easing of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and Western states.

In a proposal aired in February, Russia says that as a start, Iran could freeze the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment at current levels and place other restrictions on its centrifuge use. In return, global powers would refrain from imposing new sanctions on Tehran.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the proposal was discussed at talks in Istanbul on April 14 between Iran and six world powers - Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany - the first such meeting in over a year. A new round of talks is to be held on May 23 in Baghdad.

Ryabkov said Iran and Western powers indicated they were "interested" in the proposal, which he suggested was one of a number of ideas being discussed by the global powers as they seek to forge a common position among themselves and to find room for progress with Iran.

"We are keeping all our proposals on the negotiating table, but the work now is proceeding in a somewhat different format," said Ryabkov, Russia's representative at the talks.

"We are working in order for the (six powers) to have a consolidated position, and our ideas are given weighty consideration in this regard," he said by telephone.

Russia has not specified whether it believes agreement by Iran to the centrifuge restrictions would require the European Union to abandon plans, agreed in January, to stop all Iranian oil imports as of July.

"Many (EU) member states remain concerned about the idea of forsaking sanctions before they have even begun, and without negotiations having moved to the second stage," one Western diplomat said.
In late March, Ryabkov said some Western states involved in the diplomacy over Iran's nuclear programme were unlikely to be enthusiastic about the proposal. Iran has made little public comment about the idea.

Russia supported four rounds of sanctions against Iran in the U.N. Security Council, where it holds veto power, but has emphasised it opposes further sanctions and repeatedly said too much pressure can be counterproductive.

Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/uk-iran-nuclear-russia-idUKBRE83O1CB20120425


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3.
Iran Says It May Halt Nuclear Program Over Sanctions
Stepan Kravchenko and Henry Meyer
Bloomberg
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)


Iran is considering a Russian proposal to halt the expansion of its nuclear program in order to avert new sanctions, the country’s envoy in Moscow said.

“We need to study this proposal and to establish on what basis it has been made,” Ambassador Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi said in an interview at the Iranian embassy in Moscow today. The Russian plan, announced by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week, would let Iran avoid a European Union ban on its crude that is scheduled to come into force in July.

Iran will ensure it maintains its right to produce nuclear energy, Sajjadi said. The U.S. and European Union allege Iran is seeking to build a bomb, not just make fuel for electricity production and medical research, as the country maintains.

The EU is planning on July 1 to impose an embargo on crude from Iran, which accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s supply, as it works with the U.S. to ratchet up pressure on the Persian Gulf state. Oil prices retreated from a one-week high, dropping more than $1 today on the report.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed Sajjadi’s remarks, saying the Iranian is “not a central player” in international talks over Iran’s nuclear program. “Frankly, what’s most important is what Iran says and does at the negotiating table,” Nuland said at briefing with journalists.

The U.S. and EU have imposed financial sanctions on Iran and are pressuring nations including China to buy less of its oil as they seek to curtail its nuclear activities.

Ryabkov, who leads Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin’s delegation to the Iran talks, said the Russian proposal would be the first in a series of mutual concessions designed to end in an accord that would remove suspicions about Iranian intent regarding atomic weapons.

Iran might also be willing to ratify the so-called Additional Protocol, a step urged by the United Nations Security Council that includes more thorough inspections of Iranian facilities, as part of a wider settlement, Sajjadi said.

Under the Russian proposal, Iran would stop building centrifuges, machines used to enrich uranium, and mothball ones that haven’t been put into use yet.

“At that stage, as part of the step-by-step approach, the other side could announce that it will refrain from introducing new sanctions,” Ryabkov said April 17 after the latest round of talks in Istanbul between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members -- the U.S., U.K., China, Russia and France -- plus Germany. Those talks were the first Iran held with the so- called 5+1 group in 15 months. The next round, in Baghdad, is scheduled for May 23.

The EU will complicate efforts to resolve the feud if the 27-nation bloc goes ahead with the oil ban, Sajjadi said.

“If they actually impose the embargo, it will mean that they’re not serious about resolving the nuclear issue,” the Iranian ambassador said. “How can they want to pursue nuclear talks on the one hand and introduce sanctions on the other? What meaning will these talks have then?”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog said in February that the number of centrifuges at Iran’s underground Natanz facility had grown 14 percent to 9,156 from 8,000 in November, of which 8,808 were operating. Iran began enriching uranium with more than 300 centrifuges at a different underground site, Fordo, the International Agency for Atomic Energy said in a Feb. 24 report.

The IAEA report said Iran had tripled monthly output of enriched uranium from November to 31 pounds (14 kilograms). The country may be able to produce bomb-grade uranium in a matter of months, Olli Heinonen, the IAEA’s former top inspector for Iran, said on April 12.

“The proposed plan will keep the capacity to enrich uranium at the current level,” said Elena Sokova, executive director at the Center for Disarmament & Non-Proliferation in Vienna, by e-mail. “Thus it helps to avoid the expansion of enrichment but not to scale it back. In other words, no buildup of the program in exchange for no new sanctions.”

If Iran then ratified the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it would be “a big step forward as it would allow for much better transparency of the Iranian nuclear program and for the IAEA to carry out rather intrusive inspections,” Sokova said.

The Iranian nuclear program is an “imaginary threat,” Sajjadi said, adding that he was astonished by comments made by Nikolai Makarov, head of the Russian military’s General Staff, warning about the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran in an interview with state broadcaster RT.

Russia won’t benefit by cooperating with the U.S. and Europe, and the threatened EU oil embargo will damage the world economy by squeezing global supplies, the ambassador said.

Iran’s oil production, currently about 3.4 million barrels a day, may decline by as much as 950,000 barrels a day by the middle of this year as EU and U.S. embargoes take effect, the International Energy Agency said in its monthly Oil Market Report on April 12.

Crude oil for June delivery slipped 22 cents to $103.33 a barrel at 11:27 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract earlier touched $104.49, the highest intraday level since April 18. Brent oil traded 31 cents lower at $117.83 in London after reaching $119.25.

Tensions over the Iranian program, including Israel and the U.S. leaving open the possibility of a military attack, helped drive Brent crude prices to about $125 a barrel last month, the highest level in more than 3 1/2 years. Prices fell more than 2 percent on the next trading day after the April 14 talks in Istanbul, which the U.S. and EU said made progress.

“There are two ways we can proceed after the Istanbul talks,” said Sajjadi. “Either the West understands that it’s pointless to use the language of force with Iran or their flexibility is a temporary phenomenon. I hope the first is true as we would like to see a resolution.”

Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-25/iran-considers-halting-nuclear-expansion-to-avert-eu-oil-embargo.html


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4.
Russian Military Concedes Iran, N. Korea Nuclear Threat
RIA Novosti
4/24/2012
(for personal use only)


Russia's military leadership has for the first time acknowledged a nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea.

“The threat is always there, so we closely monitor the nuclear program developments of many countries," Army General Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the General Staff, told RT television.

"The analysis that we conducted together with the Americans confirms that, yes, there is a probability that the threat exists. And we agreed that it is necessary to create a missile defense system,” Makarov said.

The Russian Defense Ministry has previously held that there is no nuclear threat to Europe and Russia from Iran and North Korea, because they do not have the capacity to build nuclear weapons or deliver them.

“Many countries that claim not to possess nuclear weapons do in fact have them,” Makarov said.
“Certainly, if it gets into the hands of extremists, it represents a threat to international security,” Makarov said.

He added that in order to counter these threats, Russia is ready to work together with other countries.
“Let's solve this problem. Let us work together to get rid of the threats that may arise, not only for Europe but for Russia because we too are part of Europe,” the general said.

North Korea has conducted two underground nuclear weapon tests, in 2006 and 2009.
Earlier in April South Korean media reported that intelligence indicated North Korea was preparing a third in a row underground nuclear test. The information was based on satellite photographs of North Korean test site, where underground nuclear test had been previously conducted.

U.S. and other Western countries suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the guise of peaceful nuclear energy program. Tehran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at meeting the country's electricity needs.

Available at: http://en.ria.ru/russia/20120424/173017423.html


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B.  North Korea

1.
North Korea Nuclear Test 'Ready Soon': Report
Oliver Tree
International Business Times
4/24/2012
(for personal use only)


North Korea is on the brink of detonating a nuclear weapon in the wake of its failed satellite launch last week, according to a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing.

Speaking to Reuters, the unnamed source said the North had "almost completed" preparations for the nuclear test, which if it went ahead would draw strong international condemnation and further isolate the impoverished state from its sole major ally, China.

The proposed test comes in the wake of the North's failed rocket and satellite launch on April 13, a major embarrassment for the Pyongyang regime and a setback for the new leader Kim Jong-un.
"Soon. Preparations are almost complete," the source told Reuters when asked whether North Korea was planning to conduct a nuclear test.

The statement is the first time a senior official has confirmed long-suspected plans for a third nuclear test, following claims by the North that it detonated nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
Despite the claims, some experts believe Pyongyang may have only been partially successful in detonating a small-sized device on both occasions.

Nevertheless, North Korea's official pronouncements that it had formally joined the nuclear club were largely substantiated by international experts.

Analysts have estimated the North has enough material to build six to eight nuclear bombs.
After ignoring pleas from the United Nations and the U.S. to halt last week's rocket launch, Washington and its allies in Japan and South Korea are fearful the North will for the first time use an enriched uranium weapon - a process that would allow the country to build significant stockpiles of fissile material.

Previous devices have utilized Pyongyang's limited stockpile of plutonium.
Speculation surrounding the proposed detonation has been building since the failed rocket launch, with South Korean defense sources saying the North could test a weapon within two weeks.

Another North Korean expert suggested a device could be tested as early as next Wednesday's "Army Day" celebrations, according to Reuters.

Available at: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/332569/20120424/north-korea-nuclear-test-war-ready.htm


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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

1.
Rosatom Could Build Two Nuclear Power Stations in Britain
Artem Zagorodnov and Ben Aris
Telegraph
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)


Britain’s continuing commitment to low-carbon energy may lead to the adoption of Russian nuclear technologies.

Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, could be about to build two nuclear power stations in Britain. With a growing energy deficit and a commitment to cutting carbon emissions, the British government may find itself faced with an offer they can’t refuse.

Earlier this month, Rosatom said it was mulling over buying a stake in Horizon Nuclear Power after the British energy firm’s parent companies, RWE and E.ON, shelved a joint venture to construct two nuclear power plants at Wylfa, Anglesey and Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

Both German-owned, RWE and E.ON cited increased costs, a longer payback period and Germany’s retreat from the nuclear sector as reasons for their decision.

Before the Fukushima disaster, the world was slowly reverting back to nuclear power in the face of the relentless rises in the price of oil and gas.

Only six months before the disaster, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had reversed a campaign promising to wean Germany off nuclear power, which she reinstated again after the catastrophe.

“Germany has been talking about abandoning nuclear power since the early 2000s, and Fukushima was only a formal reason to finally do it,” said Rosatom press officer Vladislav Bochkov.

“The demand for nuclear power has not changed; its structure has changed. If before we had clients interested in second-generation nuclear reactors, now everybody wants the safest 3rd generation (and 3+) PWR reactors available. Globally, 
if you compare how many contacts we signed after Fukushima with the number in 2010, it has practically
 doubled,” he says. “If you look at long-term trends to 2030, we now expect a modest 8pc decrease in the number of nuclear plants to be commissioned – 598 against 652 before the disaster.”

The British Government finds itself on the horns of a dilemma. Britain used to be a net positive energy producer, following the discovery of oil and natural gas in the North Sea. But as the oil and gas fields neared exhaustion, it went into deficit in 2003.Since 2010 Britain has imported about 40pc of its oil and gas needs, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

An industry study in 2009 found that Britain will face a 20pc generation capacity shortfall by 2015 unless there is significant investment into the British energy sector. “Has any other country, let alone a major economy, experienced such speed and magnitude in its shift of energy systems outside wartime?” asks Chris Vernon of the widely respected Oil Drum magazine.

The British Government energy policy calls for an increase in the share of renewables to 10pc, as part of its commitment to The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan which was adopted in 2009, but progress on this has been slow and the programme has been criticised by industry experts.

The first step will be to close half of its coal-fired power stations by 2015 – they currently account for 40pc of UK power generation – although many see this coal-fired shutdown only exacerbating the energy deficit.

“The UK energy and climate change policy is failing, and failing at a high cost,” Professors Pierre Noel and Michael Pollitt of Cambridge University wrote in a paper which was presented to Parliament last year.

“Electricity bills are going up as consumers are asked to pay for ever-increasing subsidies to renewable energy, the deployment of which does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” It is hard to see how the goal will be met without the use of more nuclear power.’

There have been no new nuclear power stations commissioned in Britain since Sizewell B was built in Suffolk in 1995, but in 2009 the Government said it was considering constructing 10 new nuclear facilities.

In the UK, Rosatom already delivers nuclear fuel to the Sizewell B plant, which it produces together with France’s Areva. It has been exporting enriched uranium to British nuclear power stations for decades, while one of its daughter companies, Nukem Technologies, was involved in decomissioning several nuclear sites in Britain.

Most recently, Rosatom and Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of co-operation last summer under the eyes of important Russian and British political leaders. “No other country in the world has Rosatom’s experience in building nuclear power plants,” Mr Bochkov is quick to point out.

“We have opened 20 nuclear power-generating units worldwide over the past 25 years and currently have 25.2 gigawatts of combined capacity in Russia. We are second only to France’s EDF in total capacity for generating electrical energy.”

In the meantime, energy prices continue to rise sharply. A study last month by investment bank Liberum Capital said British energy bills are set to soar by as much as 70pc to £2,200 a year by 2020 due to the growing energy gap.

Energy production is sinking slowly but consumption has risen by 11.3pc between 2001 and 2011, while the cost of energy was up a whopping 23pc over the same 
period.

The potential Rosatom deal has inevitably raised the question of safety. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine remains the world’s worst nuclear accident.

However, Rosatom insists that the Chernobyl experience helped the Russian nuclear industry reach new standards in achieving safe nuclear power. “The Chernobyl accident 26 years ago gave us an additional impulse to develop ever more sophisticated safety systems at our nuclear power plants,” says Mr Bochkov.

“The ‘melt trap’ device, which automatically localises any radiation leaks in the event of an emergency within a non-inhabited space, was developed following a comprehensive analysis of the disaster. It’s currently in use at every Russian nuclear power plant.

“We’re talking about safety systems that are able to extract heat from the critical part of the reactor amid a complete lack of electricity flowing to the plant,” he continues. “Had these systems been in place at Fukushima, the world would never have heard about that nuclear disaster.”

Shortly after the Fukushima disaster, Rosatom’s head Sergei Kiriyenko went to India to inspect construction of the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear plant.

He stressed that Russian nuclear power projects meet all the high international safety requirements saying: “Even if, in the wake of Fukushima, you try to imagine what else should be added to the nuclear plant design to enable it to withstand every conceivable combination [of disasters] – earthquakes, tsunamis, power and water supply cuts, and so on – Kudankulam already has them all.”

Rosatom plans to build a total of 38 new reactors at home over the next 20 years, and hopes to sell the new generation 3+ reactors to other countries. As well as India, it has also sealed deals in Ukraine, China, Vietnam, Belarus, Bangladesh and Turkey, offering itself both as a vendor and investor.

Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/russianow/business/9226085/Rosatom-nuclear-power-Britain.html


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2.
Turkey to Analyse Japan, S.Korea and China for Construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Sinop
Turkish Weekly
4/24/2012
(for personal use only)


Turkish Energy & Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said that Turkey would analyse strong and weak sides of Japan, South Korea and China which were willing to undertake the construction of nuclear power plant in Turkey's northern Sinop city.

In an interview with Japanese Nikkei Business daily, Yildiz said that those three countries seemed equal at the moment, but each of them had different strong sides, adding that the strong side of Japan was its high technology.

We are willing to decide as soon as possible which country will construct the power plant, Yildiz said.

The interview with Yildiz was made before April 20 --the date Turkey also signed a protocol with Canadian Candu (Canada Deuterium Uranium) company regarding the nuclear power plant.

Yildiz said that Japan should speed up the reorganization in the country to gain back the time it lost following the accident in Fukushima.

Other nuclear power plant in Turkey was planned to be built in southern Mersin city. The project will be operated by Russia. Russian state-owned atomic power company ROSATOM is likely to start building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in 2013 and the first reactor is planned to generate electricity in 2018.

Turkey has been engaged in talks with Japan since last year to build country's second nuclear power plant in the Black Sea coastal province of Sinop in the north. However, talks were interrupted after the massive earthquake that hit Japan. Japan's magnitude-9 earthquake on March 11, 2011 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima.

Turkey and Japan resumed talks on construction of Turkey's second nuclear power plant in country's north coast in July 2011.

Turkish Energy & Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said that Turkey would analyse strong and weak sides of Japan, South Korea and China which were willing to undertake the construction of nuclear power plant in Turkey's northern Sinop city.

In an interview with Japanese Nikkei Business daily, Yildiz said that those three countries seemed equal at the moment, but each of them had different strong sides, adding that the strong side of Japan was its high technology.

We are willing to decide as soon as possible which country will construct the power plant, Yildiz said.

The interview with Yildiz was made before April 20 --the date Turkey also signed a protocol with Canadian Candu (Canada Deuterium Uranium) company regarding the nuclear power plant.

Yildiz said that Japan should speed up the reorganization in the country to gain back the time it lost following the accident in Fukushima.

Other nuclear power plant in Turkey was planned to be built in southern Mersin city. The project will be operated by Russia. Russian state-owned atomic power company ROSATOM is likely to start building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in 2013 and the first reactor is planned to generate electricity in 2018.

Turkey has been engaged in talks with Japan since last year to build country's second nuclear power plant in the Black Sea coastal province of Sinop in the north. However, talks were interrupted after the massive earthquake that hit Japan. Japan's magnitude-9 earthquake on March 11, 2011 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima.

Turkey and Japan resumed talks on construction of Turkey's second nuclear power plant in country's north coast in July 2011.

Available at: http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/134716/turkey-to-analyse-japan-s-korea-and-china-for-construction-of-nuclear-power-plant-in-sinop.html


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3.
S.Africa Wants Nuclear Contracts to Stay at Home
Sherilee Lakmidas
Reuters
4/23/2012
(for personal use only)


South Africa wants to see its firms eventually being awarded the bulk of the contracts in its $50 billion plan to build six nuclear plants to power Africa's biggest economy, the head of its electric utility said on Monday.

Firms from France, the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia have been lining up for years for a chance to win the contract, one of the biggest in the world for nuclear power.

Eskom chief executive Brian Dames said while the first of the nuclear power units might only secure 35 percent localised content, the country wants to see that rise to about 70 percent by the time the final plants are built.

"This is a key objective for us," Dames said at a National Union of Mineworkers nuclear energy seminar.

South Africa, which has the only nuclear plant on the continent, wants to build up the capability of its construction and manufacturing firms through the nuclear contract, putting pressure on foreign builders to procure more from local companies.

"Our view is we should do this in partnership with national players. We don't have to do this alone but majority ownership should remain in South Africa."

The energy-hungry country plans to build six new nuclear power plants, providing 9,600 megawatts (MW) of power, or about a quarter of current capacity. The first electricity is expected to come online in 2024.

The country is operating on razor-thin electricity margins and needs the power to grow its energy-intensive mining industry

Potential bidders are likely to include Areva, EDF, Toshiba's Westinghouse Electric Corp, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, South Korea's Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and Russia's Rosatom.

Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters told the same seminar no date had been set for when the bidding process will start.

The international contract will be one of the largest South Africa has offered since a multi-billion arms deal about a decade ago. That deal was mired in criminality with several political heavyweights convicted of receiving bribes.

South Africa is seen as coming to the aid of an ailing nuclear industry battling for new customers after new nuclear reactor builds were all but halted in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster last year.

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/23/safrica-nuclear-idUSL5E8FNAYO20120423


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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

1.
Pakistan Follows India With Test of Nuclear-Capable Missile
Haris Anwar and Andrew MacAskill
Bloomberg
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)


Pakistan successfully test fired an intermediate range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, six days after India announced a breakthrough in its missile program.

The Hatf-4 Shaheen-1A weapon tested today had “improved technical parameters” compared to earlier versions, Pakistan’s army said in a statement. The Shaheen missile series, adapted from Chinese designs, are the flagships of Pakistan’s current deployments and are able to strike most of India, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based policy group founded by Ted Turner and former Republican Senator Sam Nunn.

India on April 19 launched its Agni-V missile, with a range of 5,000 kilometers, for the first time taking the country a step closer to joining an exclusive club of five nations known to possess intercontinental ballistic weapons and allowing it to target parts of northern China previously beyond its capability. Photographer: Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images

“This is not just a coincidence coming after the India test,” said Gareth Price, London-based head of the Asia Program at foreign affairs institute Chatham House. “There has been a big increase in India’s defense spending and this is Pakistan’s way of saying we are not that far behind.”

India on April 19 launched its Agni-V missile, with a range of 5,000 kilometers, for the first time taking the country a step closer to joining an exclusive club of five nations known to possess intercontinental ballistic weapons and allowing it to target parts of northern China previously beyond its capability.

India is ramping up defense spending while seeking to resolve territorial disputes through talks with its archrivals in the region. India briefly went to war with China in 1962, while it has clashed with Pakistan at least three times.
Pakistan Spend

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are the only countries that have deployed missiles that can reach beyond 5,500 kilometers, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies based in London.

Pakistan, with which India has fought three wars, two over the divided mountainous region of Kashmir, raised its military spending by 11 percent to about $5.5 billion in the year ending June 30. India and Pakistan have this year announced a series of measures to boost bilateral trade, raising hopes of a broader improvement in ties.

“If history is any measure, Pakistan’s test is related to India’s missile launch as this kind of tit-for-tat testing is not unusual in the subcontinent,” Poornima Subramaniam, Asia- Pacific armed forces analyst at IHS Jane’s, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Still, the test is “largely only a display of equivalent retaliation because strategically, Pakistan already had a similar capability to strike India,” Subramaniam said.

Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-25/pakistan-test-fires-hatf-ballistic-missile-army-says.html


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2.
High Level of Uranium Found in Mongolian Capital's Groundwater: Report
Xinhua News Agency
4/24/2012
(for personal use only)


A high level of uranium has been detected in the groundwater in the Mongolian capital, local media reported.

The finding was made in a deep-well water research program conducted by a group of U.S. and Mongolian researchers in Ulan Bator last July in order to determine the arsenic content, according to the reports released Monday.

The joint team of University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and National University for Medical Science of Mongolia extracted water samples from 129 deep wells in the city's seven districts and sent the samples to the United States for analysis.

The results, according to the report, showed that the average uranium content is 4.6 milligram per liter, which is significantly above the safe level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The researchers have yet to determine the causes.

Uranium is a radioactive and poisonous chemical element which can produce negative impacts on the human genetic system. Drinking water with uranium can also damage such organs as liver and kidney and might eventually lead to cancer.

Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-04/24/c_131548737.htm


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3.
GDF Suez Wants Quick Belgian Nuclear Decision, Cirelli Says
Tara Patel, Bloomberg
Bloomberg
4/23/2012
(for personal use only)


GDF Suez (GSZ) SA is urging the Belgian government to make a decision as quickly as possible as to whether the utility has to close three atomic generators, Vice- Chairman Jean-Francois Cirelli said.

The utility wants to know whether it has to invest to dismantle the Belgian reactors operated by its Electrabel unit or to prolong their lives for another decade from 2015, Cirelli said at an annual meeting of shareholders today in Paris.
Dismantling Belgium’s seven reactors would cost 2.9 billion euros ($3.8 billion), he said. An energy tariff freeze in the country will shave an estimated 100 million euros from earnings this year, he added.

GDF Suez is reviewing its nuclear strategy following last year’s accident at Fukushima in Japan and the decision by Belgium to double a tax on atomic energy. The findings will determine whether the utility pursues atomic projects in countries such as the U.K., U.S., Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet said today.

“We are attached to having a nuclear base in our energy mix,” Mestrallet said. The strategy review will be completed by the middle of the year, he said.

Electrabel announced last week it will lower electricity and gas rates on May 1 for households and businesses signing up for year-long contracts.

“The prices are frozen starting April 1 to the end of this year,” Cirelli said today on a conference call on first-quarter earnings. The cap will shave about 100 million euros from 2012 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, he said.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo’s government is also considering a 550-million-euro levy on nuclear energy in the 2012 budget that has yet to be passed.

GDF Suez had threatened to shut three reactors in 2015, which would be earlier than previously agreed, if the government applies the tax, which is about double the rate of previous years. A decision on the reactor shutdowns hasn’t yet been taken by the government.

The utility has said the tax increase would go against a 2009 deal with a previous government in which Electrabel agreed to pay an annual levy of 215 million to 245 million euros through 2014 in exchange for prolonging the lifetime of the three oldest reactors, Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1, for another decade. The deadline for shutting the plants under that agreement was extended to 2025.

The pressurized water reactors began producing power in 1975 and have a capacity of 1,852 megawatts.
GDF Suez will have to spend an estimated 200 million euros on work on all seven reactors to bolster safety demanded by regulators following Fukushima, Mestrallet said today.

Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-23/gdf-suez-wants-quick-belgian-nuclear-decision-cirelli-says-1-.html



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E.  Japan

1.
Japan Fears Nuclear Plant Sits Atop Active Geological Fault
Reuters
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)


A nuclear plant in northwestern Japan may be sitting right on top of an active geological fault, the country's nuclear watchdog has said, raising the risk that the facility may never resume power generation for fear of an earthquake.

For the first time in more than 40 years, Japan faces the prospect of having no nuclear power within weeks, after last year's crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crushed public trust in nuclear power and prevented the restart of reactors shut for regular maintenance checks.

The fault fracture zone under the No.1 and No.2 units of the 1,517-megawatt Tsuruga plant could be an active fault that could move jointly with a confirmed nearby active fault, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) found in a site survey on Tuesday, a spokesman for the plant's operator said.

The operator, unlisted Japan Atomic Power Co, denies the existence of an active fault right under the plant, citing its geological assessment, but the NISA has ordered an additional investigation following its findings, the spokesman said.

Nuclear power, long advertised as safe and cheap, provided almost 30 percent of Japan's electricity before the crisis, but now all but one of Japan's 54 reactors are off-line, mainly for maintenance. The last reactor will shut down on May 5.

Japan has rules against installing a nuclear plant on top of an active fault that has moved within the last 120,000 to 130,000 years, and the Tsuruga site could be declared unfit to host a nuclear plant.

The plant's 357-MW No.1 unit and the 1,160-MW No.2 unit have been shut since last year for planned maintenance.

Japan Atomic Power had previously aimed to add No.3 and No.4 units at the plant, with capacity of 1,538 MW each, by 2018, but the plan has stalled, reflecting public worries over nuclear power after the Fukushima plant was wrecked in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, triggering radiation leaks that caused mass evacuations and widespread contamination.

The restart of the No.1 unit, which began operation in 1970, has been uncertain in light of Japan's plans to limit the life of reactors to 40 years, and permit extensions only under stringent terms. The company had planned to scrap the Tsuruga No.1 unit in 2016.

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/us-japan-nuclear-idUSBRE83O06620120425


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2.
OECD Urges Japan to Resume Operations of Nuclear Power Plants
The Mainichi
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)


The head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development urged Japan on Tuesday to resume the operation of nuclear power plants after their safety has been confirmed.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria told reporters in Tokyo that the organization supports Japan's continuing "to have an important nuclear capacity to generate electricity," despite a more cautious public view of resumption in the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

While showing understanding of the public reaction, he expressed concern that a power supply shortage would restrict production, saying, "As a condition of growth policy, you have to have sufficient sources of energy to fuel the economy, households, companies, and infrastructure."

Given that nuclear power comprised around 30 percent of Japan's energy supply before the earthquake and tsunami disaster in March 2011 crippled the Fukushima plant, Gurria said, "You cannot substitute 30 percent of installed capacity overnight."

At present, only the No. 3 reactor at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomari plant in Hokkaido is in operation among Japan's 50 commercial reactors. It is scheduled to go offline on May 5 for routine checkups. If no others resume operation by then, Japan will have no operating reactors.

Gurria also emphasized the importance of limiting the use of fossil fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and urged the introduction of an environmental tax on CO2 emissions as a measure to give renewable energy a competitive edge.

During a meeting with Finance Minister Jun Azumi, meanwhile, Gurria said he supports the Japanese government's plan to raise the nation's consumption tax to restore its fiscal health, the worst among major developed economies.

Gurria said Japan must pursue fiscal reforms, which also include public-sector debt reduction, in order to achieve its potential growth while beating chronic deflation, according to Japanese officials.

Azumi briefed Gurria on the government's policies as well as its expectations that Japan's economy will achieve a strong recovery path in fiscal 2012, which started this month, supported by accelerated reconstruction work following the natural disasters.

Available at: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120425p2g00m0bu028000c.html


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3.
TEPCO Seeks to Reduce Groundwater Flowing into Reactor Buildings
The Mainichi
4/24/2012
(for personal use only)


The operator of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Monday it aims to halve the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings by building about a dozen pumping wells.

The groundwater currently gets mixed with highly radioactive water accumulating inside the reactor buildings and adjacent reactor turbine buildings, resulting in an increase in the total amount of contaminated water at the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. thus wants to use the wells to direct part of the groundwater into the Pacific Ocean, likely to be about 1,000 tons per day, before all of the groundwater flows into the reactor buildings and elsewhere.

The utility known as TEPCO would check the contamination level of the groundwater before releasing it into the sea.

"By creating a groundwater bypass, the amount of water flowing (into the Nos. 1 to 4) reactor buildings is expected to be reduced by about 50 percent," TEPCO said in a paper submitted to a meeting of the company and the government to check the progress toward scrapping the four reactors.

A government official, who briefed reporters about the meeting, said the groundwater bypass is likely to start operating around September or October.

The Fukushima plant has been plagued with highly radioactive water accumulating inside reactor buildings and reactor turbine buildings as a result of the continuing injection of water to cool the stricken Nos. 1 to 3 reactors.

The water is recycled as a coolant after reducing its radioactive level through a water-processing facility, installed after the plant was hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year.

But tanks storing the processed water could eventually become full partly because of the groundwater.
Meanwhile, the chief of a government-appointed panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident said Monday it has questioned Naoto Kan, who was the prime minister when the nuclear crisis erupted.

Yotaro Hatamura did not elaborate on the exchanges during the hearing, telling a press conference he thinks it is "not appropriate," but added he felt Kan spoke "frankly about his thoughts at that time."

The hearing, which lasted several hours, was not made public because Kan did not strongly wish for it to be, an official of the panel's secretariat said.

The panel plans to compile its final investigation report in July.

Available at: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120424p2g00m0dm036000c.html


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F.  Links of Interest

1.
A Coffin for Chernobyl
Alexander Sawitzki and Markian Ostaptschuk
Deutsche Welle
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)
http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15907947,00.html


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2.
Phasing Out Use of Highly-Enriched Uranium
Dave Brown
Business Insider
4/25/2012
(for personal use only)
http://www.businessinsider.com/phasing-out-use-of-highly-enriched-uranium-20..


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3.
Natural Nuclear Reactor May Unveil Physical Mysteries
Jordan Baker
Technician Online
4/24/2012
(for personal use only)
http://www.technicianonline.com/features/natural-nuclear-reactor-may-unveil-..


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