1. Iran Producing Enriched Uranium at Faster Pace: Experts
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Iran's uranium enrichment effort has picked up speed and Tehran could produce enough fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon within four months, experts told US lawmakers on Wednesday.
The rate of Iran's uranium enrichment has accelerated despite cyber sabotage from the Stuxnet virus in 2009, the experts said.
Based on the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "it's clear that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon very quickly should it wish to do so," said Stephen Rademaker of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
Iran has produced 3,345 kilos of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, according to the IAEA, which if it was enriched further would provide enough uranium for at least two atomic bombs, Rademaker told the House Armed Services Committee.
If the Iran leadership decided to go forward, "it would take them 35 to 106 days to actually have the fissile material for a weapon," he said.
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), told the same hearing that "it would take Iran at least four months in order to have sufficient weapon grade uranium ... for a nuclear explosive device."
Uranium 235 must be enriched close to 90 percent for use in an atomic bomb. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that the Iranians are about a year away from producing enough highly-enriched uranium needed for a nuclear weapon, a threshold that Washington views as a "red line."
More than 9,000 Iranian centrifuges are churning out 158 kilograms of 3.5 percent enriched uranium a month, three times the production rate compared to mid-2009, when the Stuxnet virus struck the program, Rademaker said.
The enrichment rate is "three times the rate of production prior to the Stuxnet virus, which many people have suggested somehow crippled their program."
"So Stuxnet may have set them back, but not by very much, at least not sufficiently," he added. According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama, and his predecessor in the White House, George W. Bush, approved the use of the Stuxnet virus to disrupt Iran's nuclear program, in the first known sustained US cyber attack.
Stuxnet -- a complex virus developed jointly with Israel -- sowed confusion at Iran's Natanz nuclear plant, the Times reported, but the virus later accidentally spread outside of Iran, appearing in computer systems other countries.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hXBSi91Eh1nTaXfqooBfHyjkLFYQ?docId=CNG.780c4bf9e65b341af8332455cba1b2e0.6b1
2. Israel Says Clock Ticking After Iran Talks Fail
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Israel has responded to the failure of the latest nuclear talks between world powers and Iran with a familiar refrain: sanctions must be ramped up while the clock ticks down toward possible military action. With diplomacy at an impasse, there is satisfaction among Israeli leaders at what they see as a tough line taken by the West in the negotiations on curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions, Israeli political sources said on Thursday.
A member of the British negotiating team quietly visited Israel on Wednesday to brief officials on this week's Moscow talks, the sources said, and new U.S. and European sanctions against Iran are due to come into effect in the next two weeks.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak stuck closely to his stated line, without offering any new sense of urgency, when asked by the Washington Post how much more time Israel can allow for diplomacy to work.
"I don't want to pretend to set timelines for the world," he said, "but we have said loud and clear that it cannot be a matter of weeks but it (also) cannot be a matter of years".
Preparations for any strike against Iran, which Israel and Western powers suspect is trying to develop the capacity to build a nuclear bomb, are closely guarded in Israel.
But Barak said that even in the United States, which has counseled against jumping the gun while a diplomatic drive with Iran is under way, "at least on a technical level, there are a lot of preparations".
Iran and six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - failed to secure a breakthrough in Moscow at what was the third round of the latest diplomatic initiative, and set no date for more political talks.
Last month, and again in Moscow, the powers asked Iran to close the Fordow underground facility where uranium is being enriched to 20-percent fissile purity, and to ship any stockpile out of the country, demands that come close to Israel's.
Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Wednesday.
"I explained that after the failure of the ... talks in Moscow, the West must impose a full oil embargo on Iran and tough financial sanctions," Mofaz said on his Facebook page, adding: "In parallel, preparations for other options must continue."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented publicly on the Moscow talks. He had complained that the months of talking had given Iran a "freebie" to continue enrichment.
The right-wing leader has been cautioned by former Israeli security chiefs against ordering attacks on Iran, amid skepticism about how effective Israeli air strikes would be.
Iran, which has called for Israel's demise, says its nuclear program is designed for energy production alone. Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to its existence.
Barak, in the newspaper interview, held out little hope that diplomacy would persuade Iran to bend.
"By the third meeting in a negotiation, you know whether the other party intends to reach an agreement or, alternatively, whether he is trying to play for time to avoid a decision," he said.
"It seems to me that the Iranians keep defying and deceiving the whole world. But it's up to the participants in the negotiations to reach this conclusion. We cannot afford to spend another three rounds of this nature just to allow the Iranians to keep maneuvering."
Weighing into the debate, Israeli President Shimon Peres told an audience in Jerusalem: "There's not much time. If the Iranians ... don't heed the warnings, the calls and the economic sanctions, the world will look to other options."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/us-nuclear-iran-israel-idUSBRE85K0OA20120621?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=71
3. U.S. Think-Tank Sees More Iran Site "Sanitization" Work
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A U.S. security institute published new satellite imagery on Wednesday which it said appeared to show further activity, including removing earth, to clean up an Iranian military site the U.N. nuclear watchdog wants to inspect.
Parchin, which Iran says is a conventional military complex, is at the center of Western allegations that Iran has conducted experiments - possibly a decade ago - that could help develop atom bombs. Iran denies any such ambition.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) published the latest satellite picture a day after Iran and six world powers failed to make progress on their decade-old nuclear dispute during two days of talks in Moscow.
Iran has so far refused to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to the Parchin facility as part of the U.N. agency's long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear bomb research in the Islamic Republic.
Western diplomats say they believe Iran may be trying to clean the sprawling site of any incriminating evidence before possibly allowing IAEA inspectors to go there.
Iran has dismissed the allegations, but IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano earlier this month said satellite images indicated that buildings were being demolished and soil removed at Parchin, about 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Tehran.
"I think there is real concern for what the Iranians are doing at Parchin," one Western envoy said on Wednesday.
ISIS last month published imagery which it said increased concerns that Iran was trying to "destroy evidence" of suspected past research relevant for developing a nuclear weapons capability, including the razing of two small buildings.
On Wednesday, the think-tank posted a picture from June 7 on its website which "shows what appears to be further sanitization activity" at the site in the Parchin complex where Iran is suspected to have conducted high explosive tests.
"The image shows heavy machinery tracks and earth displacement throughout the site," ISIS, which monitors Iran's nuclear program closely, said.
Debris from one of two razed buildings that were visible in a May 25 image "has now been consolidated into piles", it said.
"There is evidence of earth moving machinery and excavation activity near the second demolished building north of the building suspected to contain the high explosive testing chamber," ISIS added. ISIS founder David Albright after testifying at a congressional hearing in Washington on Iran, told Reuters that the "cleansing activity" shown in the satellite imagery increases mistrust about Iran's nuclear activities.
"I tend to think that something has taken place there and they are trying to hide it," Albright said. Iran has dismissed allegations aired about Parchin as "childish" and "ridiculous" and earlier this month accused the IAEA of behaving like a Western-manipulated spy agency.
An IAEA report last November said Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at Parchin in which to conduct explosives tests that the U.N. agency said were "strong indicators of possible weapon development".
It said a building was constructed around a large cylindrical object, a vessel designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kg of high explosives. Diplomatic sources say the suspected tests likely took place about a decade ago.
ISIS said: "If Iran has nothing to hide, its activities at this site add a further layer of suspicion and negatively impact efforts to build confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/20/us-nuclear-iran-parchin-idUSBRE85J13G20120620
4. US, Israel Secretly Collect Iran Nuclear Info Through Flame Virus: Report
International Business Times
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A new report surfaced Tuesday that the United States and Israel collected information on Iran's nuclear facilities by way of a computer malware program known as the Flame virus.
According to the Washington Post, the two countries developed the virus with the intent to slow down Iran's nuclear ability. The virus was designed to secretly map out Iran's computer networks, keep tabs on the country's officials' computers, and report back the information gathered. Flame was reportedly able to activate computer microphones and cameras, log keyboard strokes, snap screen shots on computers and perform other functions by using Bluetooth wireless technology.
The Flame report is the latest in a series of leaks some lawmakers consider a threat to National Security and the safety of Americans. It is, however, not the first cyber attack the U.S. and Israel carried out on Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities.
The New York Times recently reported that the two nations created the Stuxnet virus to secretly damage Iran's nuclear facilities. A programming error reportedly led to that worm escaping on the Internet, and President Barack Obama, who began ramping up cyber attacks on Iran as early as his first week in office, was wondering if he should stop the attacks. He later received word that damage is being done and that it wasn't clear how much the Iranians knew about the Stuxnet attack.
"This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action," said a high-ranking U.S. intelligence official who spoke to the Post.
That official also said both Flame and Stuxnet are just a part a broader assault that continues until this day.
"Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this," the official said. In May, the Post reported that officials in Iran acknowledged that computers across the country were infected with a sophisticated kind of virus. The virus was dubbed Flame. The country said they developed tools to detect that virus and remove it.
"It seems there is a close relation to the Stuxnet and Duqu targeted attacks," a statement from Iran's National Computer Emergency Response Team read. "The research on these samples implies that the recent incidents of mass data loss in Iran could be the outcome of some installed module of this threat." An investigation is underway into who has been leaking the information. Two U.S. attorneys, one of them a Bush appointee, have been appointed to conduct the investigation. The White house has denied any involvement in the leaks.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) has been calling for a special counsel to be assigned to the investigation, as he believes this will prevent any conflicts of interest.
Lieberman called the leaks the "worst in a long time" and said "an enormous amount has been done to our national security."
He stated that he worries if the leaks will compromise relationships between the U.S. and other foreign intelligence agencies. Lieberman also said "these leaks compromise the security of every American."
Former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden told Fox News Sunday that whether or not information about the leaks is truthful, it is "taunting" the Iranians and could prompt a response.
Available at: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/354100/20120619/flame-virus-israel-secretly-iran-nuclear.htm
The Treasury should drop its free market "dogma" and invest billions in nuclear power stations and renewables, a former government chief scientist has said.
Professor Sir David King warned that without Government intervention, the private sector would not deliver the huge sums needed to keep the lights on and end the UK's dependence on imported fossil fuels.
He said Government-led investment in major low-carbon energy infrastructure would reboot the economy following the financial crisis and de-couple it from fossil fuels. For example, there is a need to move road transport from petrol to electricity, which would require a new generation of nuclear reactors to cope with increased demand, he said.
But passively letting the situation unfold would see major energy companies building new gas-fired power stations, which would leave the UK dependent on imported gas, at the whim of exporting countries and facing rising costs as global demand for gas pushes up prices.
"I think the Treasury feels this is up to the market to deliver, but actually this isn't going to happen. Infrastructure on this scale is going to need public-private partnership with strong Treasury intervention to signal where the investment should take place," he said.
He said the Treasury and No 10 needed to grasp the problem, as it was not enough to leave decarbonising the economy up to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. He called for the Government to "pump prime" the process of investing in low-carbon infrastructure in the country's long-term interest.
Big infrastructure projects such as nuclear reactors or the Severn Barrage tidal energy scheme, which was ruled out by ministers as too expensive but could be back on the cards with private sector interest, would stimulate the economy and provide jobs, Sir David added.
The UK Government has legally binding commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and sees new nuclear build, along with renewables and technology that captures and stores carbon from fossil fuel power stations, as key to tackling climate change.
But a nuclear renaissance has faltered, with two of the "Big Six" energy companies pulling out of schemes to build reactors and French energy giant EDF warning it needs the electricity market reforms planned by the Government to boost investment in the sector to be robust to go ahead with its plans.
Sir David suggested "directed quantitative easing" could help stimulate investment in low carbon technology.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5g6eu0qGvmV-VGNeRBi9pk4MzK75Q?docId=N0005421340268970551A
On 21 June, Lithuania's Parliament passed the law on granting concession to the Visaginas nuclear power plant project company and also amended the law on the nuclear power plant to officially open the way for the multi-billion project to go ahead. All what is needed now are the symbolic signatures of President Grybauskaite, writes news2biz Lithuania.
Both acts were passed mostly by the ruling centre-right coalition as the opposition leader SocDem party (one of the expected winners of the next general election in October) did not take part in the vote. Only 74 MPs were present during the vote out of in the 141-seat Seimas; 70 voted 'for'.
The concession law gives the final OK for Lithuania together with Latvia, Estonia and, potentially, Poland to start the N-plant project with the strategic investor Japan's Hitachi. Lithuania has earlier signed a preliminary concession agreement with Hitachi but binding deals are yet to be signed with the project's regional partners.
The amended law on the nuclear power plant breaks down the project into four stages. Upon completion of three of them - signing of the concession agreement, establishing of the project company and drafting of the N-plant project, the Seimas will once again vote to allow the construction to start because it is only then that the final financial details of the undertaking will be known.
Available at: http://balticbusinessnews.com/article/2012/6/21/lithuania-parliament-endorses-nuclear-plant-project
3. Experts at Secret Meeting Decided to Cover Up Scenario for Dealing with Spent Nuclear Fuel
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Pro-nuclear power experts who gathered at secret meetings in March organized by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) decided to conceal a scenario for dealing with spent nuclear fuel which would be unfavorable to the promotion of fast-breeder reactors, from a subcommittee, it has been learned.
JAEC, under the umbrella of the Cabinet Office, has submitted three other scenarios to the subcommittee after deleting the scenario in question, clarifying that the secret meetings influenced the core of Japan's so-called nuclear fuel cycle policy.
The subcommittee of JAEC reviewing the nuclear cycle policy discussed the three scenarios and is set to submit them to the government's Energy and Environment Council.
Four members of a JAEC experts' panel on new nuclear energy policy have urged JAEC not to submit the scenarios to the government. "The proposals are unjustifiable because they were adopted in ignorance of a democratic process," read an opinion submitted to JAEC Chairman Shunsuke Kondo.
The Cabinet Office's atomic power policy division, five of whose members attended the March 8 secret meeting, refused to comment on the revelations. "We can't answer any question that could actually be a bluff."
In the nuclear fuel cycle project, spent nuclear fuel would be reprocessed and reused as fuel for nuclear reactors. Reactors in which the fission of a chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons in the process of reusing spent fuel are called fast reactors (FRs). Among these, reactors that produce more fuel than original fuel, such as the Monju prototype reactor in Fukui Prefecture, are called fast-breeder reactors (FBRs).
The Mainichi Shimbun has recently obtained a document detailing four scenarios on whether to go ahead with the nuclear fuel cycle project, including one that attendees of the secret meeting agreed to cover up.
Scenario 1 calls for the reprocessing of all spent nuclear fuel and its use in commercial FRs. Under scenario 2, part of spent nuclear fuel would be reprocessed and the remainder would be stored while research and development would be conducted to determine whether FRs can be put into commercial use.
Under scenario 3, part of the spent fuel would be reprocessed, the remainder would be disposed of and the project of putting FRs into commercial use would be discontinued. Scenario 4 calls for disposal of all spent nuclear fuel and the discontinuation of the project of putting FRs into practical use.
If scenarios 1 and 2 were adopted, the Monju-related research and development project would be continued, but scenarios 3 and 4 would mean that the project must be called off.
When the four scenarios were submitted to one of the secret meetings, held on March 8, for deliberations, attendees insisted that scenario 3 should be excluded.
"The subcommittee's discussions would certainly focus on the middle (scenarios 2 or 3) rather than scenario 1 that calls for reprocessing of all spent fuel or scenario 4 that envisages the disposal of all spent fuel. If scenario 3 were included, there would certainly be some subcommittee members who would choose it," one of them was quoted as telling the secret meeting.
"We've come to a crucial stage now. Scenario 2 is desirable and scenario 3 should be deleted," another reportedly said.
A document detailing the four scenarios was also distributed at another secret meeting on March 22. At the time, the moderator of the meeting said, "There was a plan to recommend four scenarios but we reduced them to three." However, attendees did not discuss the matter.
Available at: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120619p2a00m0na015000c.html
National Legal Internet Portal of the Republic of Belarus
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A mission of experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has arrived in Belarus to assess the country’s nuclear power infrastructure as part of the Belarusian NPP construction project, head of the international cooperation department of the Belarusian Energy Ministry Lilia Dulinets told BelTA.
“The mission comprises 14 experts from different countries with a wide experience in the area of nuclear power. Together with Belarusian specialists they will assess the country’s readiness for building a nuclear power plant. The mission will conduct the assessment in line with the IAEA recommendations developed for the countries that plan the construction of first nuclear power plants,” Lilia Dulinets said.
While in Belarus IAEA experts and independent foreign experts will assess 19 main indicators of nuclear power infrastructure: nuclear security, legal framework development, the site for the future NPP, environmental protection, emergency planning, radioactive waste management, personnel training.
“The mission will work in Belarus until 30 June 2012. The country will be given recommendations for reaching a necessary level of the national nuclear infrastructure for the NPP construction,” Lilia Dulinets said.
1. Japan's Bill on Atomic Regulations Raises Suspicion of Nuclear Armament
Yonhap News Agency
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The upper house of Japan's parliament passed a bill this week to strengthen its atomic regulations, but it also raised suspicion over nuclear armament by adding a contentious clause of "security guarantee" to the bill, a news report said Thursday.
The bill is aimed at creating an independent nuclear regulatory body following last year's atomic disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant, but the clause may pave the way for Japan to produce nuclear weapons, the Tokyo Shimbun reported.
The Article 2 of the bill, approved on Wednesday, stated that Japan should secure the safety of nuclear use for the protection of people's lives, health and wealth as well as the nation's "security guarantee," according to the report.
Although Japan's constitution strictly prohibits it from producing, possessing and using nuclear weapons, its atomic infrastructure makes it eminently capable of building a nuclear arsenal at will.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, however, denied the suspicion.
He told reporters later on Thursday that the bill "emphasized the peaceful use of nuclear power plants."
"There will be no military use of nuclear power," Fujimura said. "There is no change in our three principles for peaceful use of nuclear energy."
Those principles are never producing, possessing or allowing the entry of nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/06/21/7/0301000000AEN20120621003900315F.HTML
2. Russia Jails Two for Giving China Nuclear Secrets
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Russia has jailed two university professors for passing top secret information on Moscow's next generation nuclear missile system to China, sentencing each of them to at least 12 years in jail, local media reported on Wednesday. Russian investigators said the two professors - who worked at a St Petersburg university - had travelled to China in 2009 "where they gave classified information to representatives of Chinese military intelligence for money," state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
The information they are said to have divulged included the specifications of Russia's Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, which after a series of troubled tests is meant to become the cornerstone of the country's nuclear arsenal. Investigators said that Chinese intelligence officials had also asked for information about other nuclear missile systems such as the Topol-M and the Iskander, Interfax reported.
The two professors, named as Yevgeny Afanasyev and Svyatoslav Bobyshev, were arrested in 2010 and pleaded not guilty to the charges, but a Russian court did not believe them. "The court has sentenced Afanasyev to punishment in the form of a jail term of 12 years and six months ... and Bobyshev ... to punishment of 12 years," the presiding judge said.
Available at: http://www.brecorder.com/general-news/172/1203046/
3. Suspected Explosives Found at Swedish Nuclear Plant, Reuters, 6/21/2012
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Security personnel at Sweden's Ringhals nuclear power station found what they suspect was explosive material during a routine vehicle search, the facility's operator Vattenfall said in a statement late on Wednesday.
"In the afternoon, a suspected explosive was discovered in a truck on its way in to Ringhals' operating facility," the company said in a statement.
"A sample of the material was sent during the evening to the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science for analysis."
The company said it had taken all the mandated measures following such an incident.
Ringhals' four reactors, on the southwest coast of Sweden near the city of Gothenburg, produce nearly 20 percent of the country's electricity.
State-owned Vattenfall has a 70 percent stake in the plant and Germany's owns nearly 30 percent.
The plant has a production capacity of 28 terrawatt hours per year.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/us-sweden-nuclear-idUSBRE85K07B20120621
4. Japanese Authorities Sat on Data Showing Radiation Spread
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Japanese authorities failed to disclose U.S. data about the spread of radiation spewing from a crippled nuclear plant last year, a cabinet minister said on Tuesday, leaving some evacuees fleeing in the same direction as the radioactive emissions.
News that Japan's nuclear watchdog and the science and technology ministry sat on the information collected by U.S. military aircraft - another sign of the chaos at the time - is likely to add to mistrust of nuclear power just days after the government approved the restart of two idled reactors.
A March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo, triggering explosions and meltdowns and causing about 160,000 people to flee the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
U.S. military aircraft gathered radiation data from March 17-19 over a 45-km (28-mile) radius and found that people in an area about 25 km (15 miles) northwest of the plant - where some people were moving - were exposed to the annual permissible level of radiation within eight hours, Japanese media said.
The information was passed to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the science and technology ministry by Japan's Foreign Ministry but neither agency passed it to the prime minister's office, which was overseeing the evacuations.
"It is extremely regrettable that this information was not shared or utilized properly within the government and I have no words to apologize, especially to the disaster victims," Industry Minister Yukio Edano, top government spokesman during the crisis, told a news conference.
The government had previously admitted that it failed to quickly disclose computer forecasts showing the direction radioactive material would disseminate, due to poor internal communication. The result was that thousands fled in the same direction as the radioactive material was drifting.
Two panels of experts, one appointed by the executive branch and the other by parliament, are wrapping up investigations into the causes and responses to the Fukushima crisis.
Edano declined to comment on whether any government officials would be fired or otherwise punished after the panels' reports are issued.
Japan will also set up a new nuclear regulator in a few months after the expected passage of an enabling law, part of efforts to repair shattered trust in a regulatory regime long characterized by cozy ties between bureaucrats and utilities.
All of Japan's 50 reactors have gone off line for safety checks and maintenance since the disaster. But despite public opposition, the government on Saturday approved the resumption of operations at two plants in western Japan to avert a power crunch.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/19/us-japan-nuclear-idINBRE85I06Y20120619
5. The Big Threat: Nuclear Material Continues to Go Missing in India
Daily News & Analysis India
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As the world is transfixed by the impending horrors of nuclear plants or materials falling into terrorist hands in Pakistan, the situation in India is no different. A joint study conducted by British and Indian experts suggest there is clear danger from chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) materials falling into wrong hands within India’s borders.
While releasing the report prepared jointly by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation (ORF), former Union home secretary GK Pillai said the government woke up to CBR threats after discovering disappearance of 14,000 tonnes of chemicals in Madhya Pradesh three years ago.
Declaring that transportation of such materials is still an issue in India, he expressed apprehension that the bulk of the stolen chemicals may have gone into making explosives by Maoists and contractors engaged in illegal mining.
After the Union home ministry decided to declare ammonium nitrate an explosive chemical as terrorists increasingly started using it in making bombs, it was found that a British era rule has vested this authority with the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP). The department subsequently agreed to take up the responsibility and include the chemical in the family of explosives.
While the Mayapuri incident in Delhi, where Cobalt 60 was found in a scrap deal shop attracted much media attention, several other incidents have gone unnoticed.
Besides, 90 employees of the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka were affected by Tritium, when it got mixed with drinking water in 2009. “These incidents show while elaborate security structures have been put in place to prevent radioactive material falling into the hands of malicious actors, thus far it has not provided to be completely foolproof,” concludes the study.
The report warned that terrorist organisations may seek to carry out CBR attacks in future by detonating a radiological dispersal device (‘dirty bomb’); by carrying out an armed assault on an industrial facility handling CBR materials or on vehicles transporting material; or by infiltrating facilities to steal CBR materials or to sabotage the site.
Pillai admitted that for the government, CBR threats so far had been of “low priority importance”. Noted strategic expert Dr C Raja Mohan believes that while India is raising WMD-related issues at various international forums, not much work has been done on the domestic aspects of the issue.
The ORF-RUSI study found that site security at facilities and industries handling CBR materials is variable. Large industrial sites, particularly under the protection of the Central Industrial Security Force, are well-protected with robust security and safety arrangements, but this is not mirrored in all medium- and small-scale facilities, some of whom have employed private security agencies that are not adequately trained. The study suggested greater standardisation of site security with well-developed practical plans for implementation.
Since India faces a serious battle against terrorism from Naxals, insurgent and separatist groups such as United Liberation Force of Assam (ULFA), and other international terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, CBR threats needs to be taken care of more seriously, the report said.
Available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_the-big-threat-nuclear-material-continues-to-go-missing-in-india_1703764
Rosatom has strengthened its supply chain by signing memoranda of cooperation with a further thirteen Czech companies. These companies could become subcontractors for a significant part of the work should the AtomStroyExport consortium win the tender to build two more units at Temelin.
The Czech companies have signed memoranda of cooperation with Rusatom Overseas - a subsidiary established by Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom to promote Russian nuclear technologies in the global market. The memoranda define the basic conditions for long-term cooperation in the manufacture, assembly and construction of nuclear power plants based on VVER reactors, not just in Russia and the Czech Republic, but elsewhere around the world.
Among the companies signing the agreements are Armatury Group, Aura, Baest Machines & Structures, DEL, H Project, Inelsev, Klima, KPS Metal, Libensko-Vysočanská Obchodni Společnost, MBNS International, MICo, PSG International and V-Kuty.
Rosatom noted that it had already signed similar cooperation agreements with a total of 25 Czech and Slovak suppliers. In March, it signed agreements with ten Czech and Slovak companies for future collaboration.
Leoš Tomíček, executive vice president of Rusatom Overseas, said, "Currently Rosatom is building 28 reactors worldwide, which is a figure that none of our competitors can claim. Therefore, in the next twenty years we plan to purchase equipment and services for the construction of nuclear facilities worth more than $300 billion." He added, "It is for this purpose that we are constantly expanding our supplier chain and are logically approaching Czech companies, which have long-term experience working with VVER technology."
PSG International head Tomás Krones noted that cooperation with Rosatom "means a huge potential for the economic development of our company in the area of construction of power plant structures. Like the other signatories of the memoranda, we regard cooperation with the Russian partners as a guarantee of quality and bilaterally beneficial work, which will lead to the further development of the local industry."
Rosatom and its subsidiaries have taken delivery of equipment and services worth some CZK2.7 billion ($135 million) from the Czech Republic over the past four years, the company said.
Tomíček added, "We are cooperating with Czech colleagues in the long-term and count on them for our future projects. For example, the two units for India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant, we had nine Czech companies delivering fixtures, pumps, cables and other equipment worth almost $60 million."
In November 2011, Czech utility CEZ formally invited Areva, a Škoda JS/AtomStroyExport/OKB Gidropress consortium and Westinghouse to place their bids by 2 July for the contract to build two new units at the Temelin plant. Areva is putting forward its EPR design, while the AtomStroyExport consortium's bid is based on the MIR-1200 third generation VVER model and Westinghouse is proposing its AP1000. CEZ is to announce the winner in late 2013.
As the deadline for bids approaches, local engineering and construction companies have signed cooperation agreements with all three of the shortlisted reactor vendors.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Rosatom_enlists_more_Czech_suppliers-2006125.html
2. Western Firms Tap China Cash to Bid for UK Nuclear
Karolin Schaps and Arno Schuetze
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China may soon control one of Britain's top nuclear projects after two Chinese state firms teamed up with Western players to bid for the $24 billion development, industry and financial sources told Reuters.
China, which has the world's largest foreign exchange reserves of $3.3 trillion, has been expanding into Europe's energy and infrastructure sectors by buying stakes in firms such as Britain's Thames Water and Portuguese utility EDP.
The British government wants to see new nuclear plants built, but cost overruns in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the slowing global economy have made it increasingly difficult for Western developers to find the billions of dollars needed for these projects.
Nuclear reactor builders Areva and Toshiba-owned Westinghouse, which both want Horizon to use their reactor designs in Britain, have picked separate Chinese nuclear companies to help bid for Horizon.
"Areva and Westinghouse have both assembled consortiums of their own," said one source, who is familiar with the bidding process but who refused to be identified, while a second source in the banking sector confirmed the bidders.
German utilities RWE and E.ON, under pressure from Germany's decision to phase out all nuclear power, announced in March the sale of Horizon, a Gloucester-based joint venture through which they had planned to invest 15 billion pounds ($24 billion) to build plants at two UK sites in Oldbury and Wylfa, with combined capacity of at least 6 gigawatts.
Westinghouse has teamed up with China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), expanding their existing collaboration in China, to make a bid, while Areva has linked up with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co (CGNPC) to put forward a separate offer, the sources said.
Westinghouse, Areva and SNPTC declined to comment, and officials at CGNPC could not be reached for a reaction.
Japanese bank Nomura, which is acting for RWE and E.ON in the sales process, imposed a June 15 deadline for offers, which are expected at several hundred million pounds.
Two other groups are also believed to have expressed an interest, with Japanese-U.S. joint venture GE Hitachi a likely candidate, one of the sources said.
GE Hitachi refused to comment.
The group has previously said it was interested in the UK nuclear market and that it planned to submit an application for design approval of its ESBWR reactor in the UK.
Last year, SNPTC and Westinghouse extended by two years a partnership in China to build the U.S.-based firm's AP1000 nuclear reactor.
CGNPC chose Areva's EPR design for its Taishan nuclear power plant in China, and the two companies have founded an engineering joint venture in China.
Both the AP1000 and EPR designs have reached the final stages of regulatory approval in the UK.
Britain is trying to woo nuclear investors by reforming its electricity market in a way that guarantees a minimum price for producers of low-carbon energy, including nuclear power.
Energy Minister Charles Hendry last month called Horizon's nuclear sites at Wylfa and Oldbury two of the most attractive sites in Europe to invest in new nuclear, adding that there had been strong interest in buying the joint venture.
In a separate project, French utility EDF and Areva, together with junior partner Centrica, are planning to build four EPRs in Britain, and a final investment decision for the first plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is expected later this year.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/06/18/us-nuclear-horizon-sale-idUKBRE85H1BQ20120618
3. US, Latvia Commission Radiation Detection Equipment at Freeport of Riga
National Nuclear Security Administration
(for personal use only)
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the State Border Guard of Latvia (SBG) today announced the commissioning of specialized radiation detection equipment at the Freeport of Riga, in an effort to prevent the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials. Under a 2007 agreement between the U.S. and Latvia, NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program has been working with SBG on projects at seven sites and a training center in Latvia. The most recent installation represents a significant milestone in the U.S. and Latvia’s shared effort to combat nuclear terrorism.
“We appreciate Latvia’s commitment to advancing our shared effort to prevent dangerous nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists, smugglers and proliferators,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “By preventing the smuggling of nuclear materials across international borders, we are working together to implement President Obama’s nuclear security agenda while promoting peace and security around the world. We look forward to our continued work with our Latvian partners to make the world a safer place."
Radiation detection systems detect and deter illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials across international borders, forming an integral component of border control and the international nonproliferation regime.
The radiation detection systems installed at the Freeport of Riga and across Latvia will improve global security by enhancing Latvia's ability to detect, deter, and interdict nuclear smuggling.
NNSA’s SLD program works collaboratively with foreign governments at land border crossings, airports and seaports to install specialized radiation detection equipment, mobile radiation detection equipment, and associated communications equipment. Through its SLD program, NNSA also provides training to host government law enforcement officers and other personnel to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Available at: http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/rigasld61512
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