1. Iran Hopes Moscow Nuclear Talks Would Be "Step Forward": FM
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi expressed hope that the upcoming nuclear talks in the Russian capital Moscow would be a "step forward" in resolving the existing differences between Iran and the West, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Monday.
Speaking at a meeting with visiting former president of the Austrian National Assembly Werner Fasslabend in Tehran on Sunday, Salehi stressed that the progress in the upcoming talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) in Moscow depends on creation of an atmosphere of mutual trust, said the report.
"In concordance with the prevailing atmosphere of mutual trust and good will, I hope we should witness progress in the trend of Iran-P5+1 talks," he was quoted as saying.
During the visit, Fasslabend underscored that Iran's nuclear issue should be resolved through diplomatic means, said the report.
The next round of talks between Iran and P5+1, is scheduled to be held in Moscow on June 18-19.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-06/11/c_131645181.htm
2. Iran Wrangles with World Powers Ahead of Nuclear Talks
(for personal use only)
Iran's deputy negotiator said world powers were unprepared for the next round of talks over the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear programme and had failed to honour agreements reached in previous negotiations, Iranian media said on Sunday.
The comments - made in a letter from Ali Bagheri to his European counterpart - are the latest volley in an apparently escalating spat over preparations for the next round of meetings in Moscow on June 18-19.
Bagheri said Iran had previously made "specific" proposals regarding a framework for further negotiations and their substance, but world powers were holding the process up.
"Despite the follow-ups and numerous letters from the Islamic Republic of Iran, until now you have not been able to demonstrate readiness," Bagheri wrote in response to a letter from the European Union's Helga Schmid.
"We hope that you will be able to find the preparedness as quickly as possible," Bagheri said in his letter, a copy of which was published by the Iranian Students' News Agency.
At the heart of the dispute is Iran's desire to hold preparatory talks that include input from experts, but the P5+1 countries - comprising the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain - have indicated that all issues should be addressed in Moscow.
It is unclear what Iran hopes to gain from such preliminary talks. Western diplomats have often accused Tehran of seeking to buy time for its nuclear activities by trying to engage in talks about process rather than substance.
Schmid wrote to Tehran last week saying the P5+1 would insist on Iran curbing its production of high-grade uranium at the next round of nuclear talks in Moscow.
Schmid said in her letter she was "somewhat surprised" by Tehran's allegations and that world powers had shown readiness to hold in-depth discussions over their proposal, which would involve Tehran closing an underground enrichment facility and shipping out its stockpile of high-grade uranium. Western nations suspect that the Islamic Republic's higher-grade uranium enrichment is part of a clandestine programme to develop the material and components needed to be able to make nuclear arms, a charge Iran has repeatedly denied.
In his reply, Bagheri also expressed "surprise" at the content of Schmid's letter, which he said differed greatly from what they had agreed to at the previous round of talks in Baghdad, including the preparatory talks.
Last month U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington needed to see "concrete actions" from Iran.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/11/iran-nuclear-idINDEE85A00E20120611
3. Iran Says Cyber Attacks Boost Atomic Resolve, Asia Times Reports
(for personal use only)
Cyber attacks will only increase Iran’s resolve to pursue its nuclear work, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the country’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said according to the Asia Times.
Attacks by the Stuxnet or Flame viruses and the assassination of Iranian atomic scientists will boost Iran’s “determination to pursue its nuclear rights,” Soltanieh told the Hong-Kong based newspaper when asked about reports that President Barack Obama had authorized attacks on his country’s computer systems.
Soltanieh also said Iran will only consider ratifying the so-called Additional Protocol, which includes more intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities, if its dossier is pulled from the UN Security Council.
Reports that Iran has cleansed its Parchin military complex to destroy evidence of nuclear weaponization, are “baseless noise based on lousy intelligence,” Soltanieh said according to the report dated yesterday.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-10/iran-says-cyber-attacks-boost-atomic-resolve-asia-times-reports.html
4. UN Nuclear Watchdog, Iran Fail to Reach Deal on Probe
(for personal use only)
The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran failed at talks on Friday to unblock a probe into suspected atom bomb research by the Islamic state, a setback dimming any chances for success in higher-level negotiations between Tehran and major powers later this month.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, using unusually pointed language, said no progress had been made in the meeting aimed at sealing a deal on resuming the IAEA's long-stalled investigation, and it described the outcome as "disappointing."
It came just a few weeks after U.N. nuclear chief Yukiya Amano said he had won assurances from senior Iranian officials in Tehran that an agreement would be struck soon.
Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA's global head of inspections, said after the eight-hour meeting at its headquarters in Vienna that no date for further discussions on the matter had been set.
The IAEA had been pressing Tehran for an accord that would give its inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military complex, where it believes explosives tests relevant for the development of nuclear arms have taken place and suspects Iran may now be cleaning the site of any incriminating evidence. The United States, European powers and Israel want to curb Iranian atomic activities they fear are intended to produce nuclear bombs. The Islamic Republic says its nuclear programme is meant purely to produce energy for civilian uses.
Six world powers were scrutinising the IAEA-Iran meeting to judge whether the Iranians were ready to make concessions before a resumption of wider-ranging negotiations with them in Moscow on June 18-19 on the decade-old nuclear dispute.
The lack of result may heighten Western suspicions that Iran is seeking to drag out the two sets of talks to buy time for its uranium enrichment programme, without backing down in the face of international demands that it suspend its sensitive work.
"It should by now be clear to everyone that Iran is not negotiating in good faith," a senior Western diplomat said.
A European envoy also accredited to the IAEA said: "This is a dismal outcome ... Iran is simply wasting time with its evasions and refusal to engage."
Nackaerts said his team had come to the meeting with a desire to finalise the deal and had presented a revised draft that addressed earlier stated concerns by Iran.
"However, there has been no progress," he told reporters.
"And indeed Iran raised issues that we have already discussed and added new ones. This is disappointing. A date for a follow-on meeting has yet to be fixed."
Late last month, Amano returned from a rare, one-day visit to Tehran saying the two sides had decided to reach a deal and that he expected it to be signed soon.
Pierre Goldschmidt, a former chief U.N. nuclear inspector, said Iran likely did not want to make any concession to the IAEA just 10 days before the Moscow talks without getting something in exchange. "It is indirectly a deliberate and unnecessary insult to Director-General Amano who recently went to Tehran in order to reach a deal," he said.
Mark Fitzpatrick, a former senior U.S. State Department official and now a director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London, said:
"This situation is reminiscent of the Peanuts cartoon of Charlie Brown repeatedly believing Lucy this time will hold the football for him to kick, with her always snatching it away at the last minute, leaving him to fall flat."
Iran's IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said after Friday's talks that work on a so-called "structured approach" document, setting the overall terms for the IAEA investigation, would continue and there would be more meetings.
"This is a very complicated issue," Soltanieh said. "We have decided to continue our work and we are going to decide on the venue and date soon ... and we hope that we will be able to conclude this structured approach."
Asked about Parchin, Soltanieh said: "That is in fact one of the problems. The more you politicise an issue which was purely technical it creates an obstacle and damages the environment."
Both Iran - which insists it will work with the U.N. agency to prove allegations of a nuclear weapons agenda are "forged and fabricated" - and the IAEA said earlier that significant headway had been made on the procedural document.
But differences persisted over how the IAEA should conduct its inquiry. The United States said this week it doubted whether Iran would give the IAEA the kind of access to sites, documents and officials it needs to get to the bottom of its suspicions.
"Opening discussions with Iran is easy; closing a deal is incredibly difficult," said Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank. "The graveyard of international diplomacy is littered with failed Iran deals."
The talks pursued by world powers are aimed at defusing tension over Iran's nuclear works that has led to increasingly tough Western sanctions on Iran, including an EU oil embargo from July 1, and stoked fears of another Middle East war.
Full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA is one of the elements the world powers - the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany - are seeking from Iran.
But they also want Iran to stop its higher-grade uranium enrichment, which Tehran says it needs for a research reactor but which also takes it closer to potential bomb material.
For its part, Iran wants sanctions relief and international recognition of what it says is its right to refine uranium.
"The lack of progress at the talks today casts a shadow on the upcoming Moscow talks," U.S. proliferation expert David Albright said. "Iran appears once again to be choosing stonewalling over transparency and confrontation over negotiations."
But Cliff Kupchan, a Middle East analyst at consultancy Eurasia Group, said he did not expect the outcome in Vienna to have major implications for the Moscow meeting.
"The Iranians always bob and weave before meeting with the (six world powers), trying to get leverage," he said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/08/iran-iaea-talks-idUSL5E8H891O20120608
North Korea has said it has no plans to conduct a nuclear test "at present", the country's official news agency KCNA reported.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said South Korea tried to "rattle the nerves of North Korea in a bid to cause it to conduct a nuclear test, though such a thing is not under plan at present".
On May 19, a declaration made by the Group of Eight (G8) summit in the US urged Pyongyang to abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a "complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner" after North Korea's failed launch of an "earth observation" satellite in April, said Xinhua.
Responding to the declaration, Pyongyang said it had no plan to conduct nuclear tests alongside its "peaceful satellite development programme".
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, and were subsequently slapped with sanctions by the UN Security Council.
Available at: http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/north-korea-has-no-plans-for-nuclear-test_780965.html
1. Japan Wins Scientists’ Panel Nod to Restart Atomic Reactors
Tsuyoshi Inajima and Jacob Adelman
(for personal use only)
A panel of Japanese scientists reported that two nuclear reactors idled for safety checks are safe to operate, giving Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda the approval he needs to re-start the units.
After a meeting late Sunday that was moved to a new venue after anti-nuclear protests, the 12-member panel appointed by the governor of Fukui prefecture, where Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503)’s Ohi nuclear plant is located, released a document stating the plant can be operated safely.
“It has been evaluated that safety measures are satisfactory for ensuring reactor security even in the event of an earthquake and tsunami that must be anticipated based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident,” the panel said.
Noda, backed by businesses including Komatsu Ltd. (6301) and NEC Corp. (6701), said June 8 the nation needs to resume nuclear power generation to avoid blackouts and preserve quality of life. Polls show 70 percent of Japanese oppose atomic energy.
The science panel was appointed by Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa to provide an extra measure of safety checks after last year’s disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima plant in the northeast undermined support for atomic power. Radiation leaks prompted the evacuation of as many as 160,000 people.
Seventy-one percent of respondents to a Mainichi newspaper poll published on June 4 objected to a speedy restart of the reactors in Ohi. In a separate poll released June 5 by the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Japanese said the country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy and 52 percent said they were worried that they or someone in their family may have been exposed to radiation.
Nishikawa is expected to accept the panel’s advice, clearing the way for Noda to allow the reactors to resume operation. The prime minister and three cabinet members with final say on the restart may give the go-ahead as early as June 16, the Kyodo News agency reported, citing unnamed officials.
Japan, once the world’s biggest nuclear power generator after the U.S. and France, shut its last operating reactor on May 5 after last year’s March 11 quake and tsunami caused meltdowns and radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Supporters of restarting the two Ohi reactors, including Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Japan’s biggest business lobby Keidanren, say power shortages in the Kansai region could force factory shutdowns and slow the economic recovery.
While not legally required, central authorities typically seek the consent of local governments to restart reactors.
Local authorities near Fukui prefecture dropped their opposition to the restart on May 30, leaving the decision to the Fukui governor, the Ohi mayor and four key ministers: Noda, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, Environment Minister Goshi Hosono and Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.
In April the four approved safety measures at the plant and confirmed the necessity of the restart to avert power shortages.
Yukiko Kada, governor of Shiga prefecture, next to Fukui, criticized the government for what she called the “rush to restart the reactors” in an April 11 interview.
The Japanese government announced power-saving targets on May 18 in areas supplied by seven of 10 regional utilities, including Kansai Electric, which is most dependent on nuclear power. Homes and companies supplied by Kansai Electric should cut consumption by more than 15 percent from 2010 levels on weekdays beginning July 2 through Sept. 7, it said.
Six weeks will be needed for the two 1,180-megawatt reactors to reach full output, Akihiro Aoike, a Kansai Electric spokesman, said. Users in the Kansai region should prepare to conserve power even if the reactors are brought online because full production won’t be reached until after July, Edano told reporters on June 1.
Absent nuclear power, Kansai Electric’s electricity output may fall 14.9 percent short of peak demand this summer should the nation experience a heat wave similar to 2010’s, a government panel said last month.
Western Japan has a 40 percent likelihood of higher-than- average temperatures in the three months to August, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on May 24. The eastern and northern regions have a 30 percent possibility of a warmer-than-usual summer, the state-run agency said.
Even if power shortages during peak summer hours are averted, increased use of thermal power plants will keep draining Japan’s national wealth, the government panel said.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-06-10/scientists-approve-restarting-japan-reactors
Kazakhstan will build a Russian nuclear station, Tengrinews.kz reports from the ceremony of signing of bilateral agreements between Nursultan Nazarbayev and Vladimir Putin.
“We have talked about further cooperation in the economy. Energy, cooperation at the Caspian Sea and in nuclear industry are our priorities. We have respectable joint companies exploring the uranium deposits in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is involved in enrichment of uranium ore and processing it into nuclear fuel. In future, I think, we will work with our Russian partner on construction of a nuclear station in Kazakhstan. BN-350 was our best station and we would like to see its equivalent,” Nazarbayev said, commenting the signed agreements.
Besides nuclear energy, the parties agreed on cooperation in oil and gas industry.
“We have a good cooperation. This year we have achieved expansion of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium to 67 million tons per year. That means that the additional capacity of the oil production is 25 million tons. Next year we will be exporting oil via Russia. The capacity of this station will be increased from 23 to 65 million tons,” Nazarbayev said.
The parties also agreed on development of cooperation in space industry. “We have talked about enhancement of cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan, participation of Kazakhstan experts in this sector, training of young people and, most important, preservation of the infrastructure of Baikonur cosmodrome. A special statement of the two presidents has been adopted today on these issues,” Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said.
Vladimir Putin stressed that elimination of administrative barriers spurred GDP growth in both countries. He added that he discussed the possibility of cooperation in chemistry with Kazakhstan President. “We have talked about cooperation in mechanical engineering. Two of our companies, AvtoVAZ and SOLLERS-UAZ, are planning to make investments in this sector. The cars are to be manufactured in Kazakhstan. The plan is to produce up to 100 thousand cars at the initial stage,” Putin said.
“But the most important is that we are achieving such results mostly through elimination of administrative barriers and this is a result of the integration between Russia and Kazakhstan,” Russia’s President added.
One of the examples of elimination of such barriers is the agreement allowing citizens of both countries to stay at both territories for up to 30 days without registration. “We have been talking for a long time about the citizens of Kazakhstan and Russia staying in both countries for up to 30 days without registration. Finally, this agreement has been signed today,” Nazarbayev told the journalists.
“As a result of creation of the Common Economic Space we have received a several-percent increase in the GDP both in Russia and in other participating countries: Kazakhstan and Belarus,” Putin said and noted that creation of the Eurasian Union would become the next step that would require special attention and efforts of both parties.
The presidents of both countries signed a protocol on amendments to the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between Russia and Kazakhstan. Foreign Ministers of Russia and Kazakhstan also signed a protocol on amendments to the Agreement between the governments of both countries on the rules of crossing of Kazakhstan-Russian state border by the citizens of near-border territories. Kazakhstan Interior Minister and Direction of Russian Federal Migration Service signed a document defining the rules of stay of Kazakhstan citizens at the territory of Russia and Russian citizens at the territory of Kazakhstan. A cooperation document was signed between RusHydro and Kazakhmys PLC. The Presidents also agreed on celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Friendship Agreement in Moscow.
Available at: http://en.tengrinews.kz/markets/10621/
2. Russia Ready to Endorse Unit 7 of Bulgaria's Kozloduy N-Plant
(for personal use only)
Russia's state-owned Rosatom is ready to build Unit 7 at Bulgaria's Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, the company's CEO Sergey Kiriyenko has declared.
Kiriyenko has assessed positively Bulgaria's plans to have a new unit at its sole nuclear power plant instead of the Belene NPP project it abandoned in March, even though he believes the decision is not economically justifiable.
He reckons that Belene would have been the cheapest nuclear power plant project in Europe.
The most optimistic scenario for the construction of Kozloduy's Unit 7 would be for it to start within 3 or 4 years, since all international safety requirements need to be complied with, Kiriyenko has added, as cited by ITAR-TASS and the Bulgarian National Radio.
On Tuesday, it was made clear that Bulgaria has offered to Rosatom to participate in the construction of Kozloduy's Unit 7.
When the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party GERB government suspended the Belene NPP project, it was decided that one of the reactors earmarked for it would be used as unit 7 at the Kozloduy NPP.
After almost three years of balking at it, the Cabinet of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, abandoned the NPP project in March 2012. The plant was supposed to be built by the Russian company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom.
The construction of the Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene would have cost EUR 10.35 B in the best case scenario, according to the estimates of Bulgarian government's consultant for the project, the HSBC bank.
Available at: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=140098
The International Atomic Energy Agency gave on Monday a green light to the country’s oldest nuclear power reactor to continue operation after a week-long safety check.
Civic groups protested the inspection result, calling for a permanent shut-down of the plant which suffered a blackout in early February.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog announced that the Kori No.1 reactor in the northern part of Busan was satisfactory in a series of safety tests carried out by a team of international experts.
“The Kori Nuclear Power Plant has implemented several equipment replacements and upgrades to allow continued safe operation,” the delegation said in a statement Monday.
The inspection started on June 4 at the request of the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in response to the increased public anxiety following the incident.
The IAEA inspection team noted that some of the contributing causes identified by the expert mission include the “inability to counter the errors in handling the station blackout event and the subsequent leadership failures in communication and reporting.”
“The expert mission team made recommendations to address these contributing factors,” they noted.
During its inspection, the IAEA team also asked the operator to replace the worn-out pressure vessel in the reactor, which was thought to be the main cause of the power cut. But apart from that, the IAEA panel approved the reactor, saying it is safe for continued use.
Activists in Busan dismissed the IAEA’s inspection as “totally without value.”
“The IAEA’s safety inspection was thoroughly planned with the KHNP to deceive the public. They had concluded it is ‘safe’ and could ‘reactivate,’ prior to the inspection, so it has no legitimacy,” the environmental groups, including the No-nukes Busan Citizen Countermeasure Commission, said in a joint statement on Monday.
A power cut on Feb. 9 forced a temporary shut-down of the Kori No. 1 nuclear reactor that began operation in 1978. The power cut did not lead to any damage, but it caused a public uproar as the engineers were found to have tried to cover up the mishap.
The country’s oldest nuclear power plant had completed its life span in 2007. But it was granted a 10-year extension in 2008, following an inspection by the IAEA.
Korea currently operates 21 nuclear reactors with seven others under construction, and of the 21 operational reactors, nine have been running for more than two decades.
Last week, the IAEA panel also concluded the Wolseong nuclear plant is safe for use after an inspection of the reactor in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.
The No. 1 reactor of the Wolseong plant started operation in 1983 and its life span is due in November this year.
Available at: http://view.koreaherald.com/kh/view.php?ud=20120611001014&cpv=0
2. U.S Donates 35 Radiation Detectors to Jordan Nuclear Commission
(for personal use only)
The U.S. Embassy presented the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) today with 35 personal radiation detectors valued at over $105,800. The devices will be used in airports and at border crossings to detect radioactive materials.
Expressing appreciation for the donation, Dr. Jamal Sharaf, Director General of Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission, noted that the detectors would boost the commission’s capability to detect radioactive material and protect the environment. He added that this contribution demonstrates a strong, unique bilateral relationship between Jordan and the United States and reiterated
The Gamma-Neutron personal radiation detectors are able to detect the slightest amounts of the gamma and neutron radiation emitting materials and can detect even the slightest increase in radiation present in the environment.
The detectors were presented by Acting U.S. Embassy Economic Section Chief Thomas M. Rosenberger, who noted, "We are dedicated to helping the Government of Jordan eliminate terrorist and nuclear proliferation threats through the U.S. Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Program.” The EXBS program offers training and equipment to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, prevent irresponsible transfers of conventional weapons, and enhance export control measures.
Dr. Jamal Sharaf also expressed the Commission’s commitment to working with the U.S. Embassy in reaching those goals.
Available at: http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=16842
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.