The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran began a new round of talks on Friday in an attempt to seal a framework deal to resume a long-stalled probe into suspected nuclear weapon research in the Islamic state, a charge Tehran denies.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, smiled but declined to comment to reporters as he entered the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna for his meeting with senior agency officials.
The IAEA wants an agreement that would enable its inspectors to visit a military complex, Parchin, and other sites which it suspects may be linked to what it calls the "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear programme.
Iran has said it will work with the agency to prove that such allegations are "forged and fabricated". Both sides say progress has been made in previous discussions on the issue this year, though differences remain.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/08/us-nuclear-iran-talks-idUSBRE8570DB20120608
2. U.N. Watchdog to Press Iran for Access in Nuclear Probe
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Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog began a new round of talks on Friday in an attempt to seal a deal to resume a long-stalled probe into suspected atomic weapon research in the Islamic state. The United States, European powers and Israel want to curb Iranian atomic activities they suspect are intended to produce bombs. Tehran says the aims of its nuclear program are purely civilian.
World powers will be watching the IAEA-Iran meeting in Vienna closely to judge whether Tehran is ready to make concessions before its broader talks with them later this month in Moscow on their decade-old nuclear dispute.
The International Atomic Energy Agency will press Iran for an agreement that would give its inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military complex, where it believes explosives tests relevant for the development of nuclear bombs have taken place.
Iran has said it will work with the U.N. agency to prove that such allegations are "forged and fabricated".
Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh smiled but declined to comment to reporters as he entered the IAEA's headquarters in the Austrian capital for his meeting with senior agency officials.
Both Iran and the IAEA say significant progress has been made on the so-called "structured approach" document that would set the overall terms for the IAEA's investigation.
But differences remain on how the IAEA should conduct its probe, and the United States said this week it doubted whether Iran would give the U.N. agency the kind of access to sites, documents and officials it needs.
"I'm not optimistic," Robert Wood, the acting U.S. envoy to the IAEA, told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the U.N. agency's governing board. "I certainly hope that an agreement will be reached but I'm not certain Iran is ready."
Mark Hibbs, a nuclear proliferation expert of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he "strongly doubted" there would be a final agreement on Friday.
"There are a number of issues that have not been resolved," he said.
Western skepticism was reinforced by defiant remarks by Soltanieh, who accused the U.N. body on Wednesday of acting like a Western-manipulated spy service and said Iran's military activities were none of its business.
The Iranian envoy said Iran would "not permit our national security to be jeopardized", suggesting it might limit the scope of the U.N. inspectors' investigation.
A European diplomat said Soltanieh's remarks signaled Iran would be in no mood to compromise in Friday's Vienna talks.
Western officials, who suspect Iran is dragging out the two sets of talks to buy time for its nuclear program, say the value of any deal will depend on how it is implemented.
The European Union said the IAEA should be free to conduct its probe in an open way and not be forced to close areas of inquiry prematurely, suggesting this may still be a bone of contention.
"The Agency must be able to revisit areas as their work progresses and as new information becomes available," the 27-nation EU said in a statement to the IAEA's 35-nation board.
The IAEA's immediate priority is gaining access to the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, where it believes Iran built a steel vessel in 2000 for high explosives tests and may now be cleaning the site of any incriminating evidence.
Iran says Parchin is a conventional military facility and has dismissed such suggestions as "ridiculous." Diplomats and analysts say Iran may offer the IAEA increased cooperation as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with world powers, which resumed in April after a 15-month hiatus and are to continue in the Russian capital on June 18-19.
Those talks are aimed at defusing tension over Iran's nuclear program that has led to increasingly tough Western sanctions on Iran, including an EU oil embargo from July 1, and created fears of a war in the region.
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 halt 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.
"Parchin access is not among the key concessions that the six powers are seeking from Iran in Moscow," said nuclear proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank in London.
"They are focused on confidence-building measures that would limit Iran's ability to make a sprint for a nuclear weapon."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/08/us-nuclear-iran-iaea-idUSBRE8570F120120608
3. Russia Supports 'Peaceful' Nuclear Drive in Iran
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Russia supports Tehran's atomic programme as long as it is "peaceful", President Vladimir Putin told Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday ahead of global talks on Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Iranian president, meanwhile, called for more cooperation between Iran and Russia as NATO "sets its sights on the east", in a likely reference to a missile defence system currently being deployed by the Western alliance.
"We have always supported the right of the Iranian people to modern technologies, including the peaceful use of atomic energy," Putin told Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of a regional security summit in Beijing.
"But I want to emphasise that it is peaceful that we are talking about. You know our position." The West believes Iran is trying to develop an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian programme but Tehran insists its intentions are purely peaceful, and the situation has brought about a shaky standoff. The talks between the two leaders at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit -- the first since Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term -- come as Russia prepares to host the latest round of global talks on Iran.
The June 18 and 19 meeting between world powers and Iranian negotiators will try to find a diplomatic solution to the current standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme.
Russia has in the past urged Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to clear up any suspicions about the nature of its nuclear programme.
But it has never explicitly backed Western claims that Iran is seeking to develop an atomic weapon -- a stance reiterated on Thursday.
"We are very strong supporters of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," Putin said. "But we know your position and the position of all the Iranian leadership, which is that Iran is not working on the creation of a nuclear weapon. We are proceeding based on this."
Putin's comments came after leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's member states issued a statement Thursday opposing any use of force in Iran, saying it could threaten global security. "Any attempts to solve the Iranian problem with force are unacceptable and could lead to unpredictable circumstances that threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world," said the statement signed at the end of a summit.
In his talks with Putin, Ahmadinejad called for "serious and broader cooperation between Iran and Russia" due to developments "in the region and the world".
"Iran and Russia are now on the same side of the barricades," he told Putin. "There are people who stand against the progress and development of both Russia and Iran. Especially considering that now, NATO has set its sights on the east," he said.
Ahmadinejad was likely referring to a NATO defence system that is being deployed over several years to protect Europeans from the threat of ballistic missiles from countries such as Iran.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gxERyZ8qLtnGM7eYYBejgXg90oWg?docId=CNG.820731f7e8380482109b48415cf15a9a.541
4. China's Wen Says Opposes Nuclear Weapons in Middle East
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday that China opposes any Middle East country acquiring nuclear weapons, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Iran is at the centre of a standoff over its disputed nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its aim is the peaceful production of electricity. Wen added that China "upholds that the Iranian nuclear issue should be addressed through diplomatic channels in an impartial way", the report added.
Ahmadinejad is in China to attend a security summit hosted by the Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
China and Iran have close energy and trade ties, and Beijing has repeatedly resisted U.S.-led demands to impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions.
China has repeatedly urged a negotiated solution to the dispute over Tehran's atomic activities and has condemned sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union which have not been supported by the U.N. Security Council.
However, differences have arisen between China and Iran in the development of Iran's oil and gas resources.
"Our intention is to comprehensively develop our relations with China. We are very happy to see China's prosperity," Ahmadinejad later told Wen, according to a pool report.
"Our bilateral ties have no negative aspects and we are very happy to keep developing our ties." For his part, Ahmadinejad told university students in Beijing that a "wolf" was trying to consume the world in a thinly disguised criticism of the United States, and urged Beijing to stand with Tehran to promote world peace.
"In our time, a wolf has been discovered that is trying to devour the world," he said, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.
"This wolf has launched several wars across the globe and along with the Zionist regime, it has put the Palestinian nation under pressure... In this world today, we need leaders who are virtuous."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/06/china-iran-idUSL3E8H669Z20120606
1. Bangladesh to Produce 5,000 MW by Nuclear by 2030
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Bangladesh will produce 5,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from nuclear energy by 2030, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told parliament while presenting the budget for the fiscal year to June 2013.
Listing a number of plans to augment electricity production in this energy-starved country, he said that to meet the growing demand for power, Bangladesh will import 250 MW electricity from India by 2013.
"In addition, (the) import of electricity from Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan is also under consideration," Muhith said.
He said steps had been taken to construct coal-based power plants with a capacity to produce 2,938 MW electricity, under joint-venture investments, by 2016.
The demand for electricity in the country now stands at 7,518 MW while it produces 6,066 MW, leaving 1,452 MW shortages a day.
Bangladesh will allocate 5.0 percent of its total expenditure for power and energy, the minister said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/07/bangladesh-budget-power-idUSL3E8H76L220120607
2. Uranium Enrichment Plant in France Ceases Operation
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After 33 years of operation, EURODIF’s Georges Besse enrichment plant in the Tricastin site in France’s Drôme department and operated by Areva, permanently ceased production at the end of the shutdown process that began May 14.
Using the gaseous diffusion process, the site met demand from nearly 100 nuclear reactors around the world since it was commissioned in 1979.
Areva has invested more than 3 billion euros ($3.78 billion) in recent years in the new Georges Besse II site to take over from EURODIF’s historic Georges Besse plant. The new plant has been in production since April 2011 using the centrifugation enrichment technology.
Available at: http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2012/06/uranium-enrichment-plant-in-france-ceases-operation.html
1. Japan PM Says Two Reactors Must Restart for "Survival of Society"
Linda Sieg and Aaron Sheldrick
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Japan's prime minister said on Friday that two idled nuclear reactors in western Japan must be restarted to protect jobs and ensure the "survival of society", risking a voter backlash given safety fears more than a year after the Fukushima crisis.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sought to soothe those worries at a news conference just hours after the former president of Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co testified in front of a panel appointed by parliament to probe the disaster.
The ex-president, Masataka Shimizu, denied allegations he had considered pulling out all the plant's workers as they battled the world's worst atomic accident in 25 years following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
But he acknowledged he might not have been clear about his intentions.
Noda's decision to restart the two reactors, expected to be confirmed at a meeting with key ministers, will ease worries about power shortages among firms in the region, including struggling electronics giants Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp.
But the move, seen by many as a first step to bringing more reactors on line even before a new nuclear regulator is in place, could undermine Noda's already sagging support among voters still worried about safety.
Noda said the government had confirmed that even if Kansai Electric Co's two reactors at its Ohi plant in Fukui lost power as happened after Fukushima, there would be no damage to the reactors' core.
"Cheap and stable electricity is vital. If all the reactors that previously provided 30 percent of Japan's electricity supply are halted, or kept idle, Japanese society cannot survive," Noda said, pointing to the possibility that more companies would shift output offshore and jobs would be lost.
"It is my decision that Ohi reactors No.3 and No.4 should be restarted to protect the people's livelihoods."
Nuclear power had supplied nearly 30 percent of Japan's electricity before last year's quake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima plant, spewing radiation and forcing mass evacuations.
All of the country's 50 reactors have gone offline since, risking power shortages especially in the western metropolis of Osaka and other parts of Kansai Electric's service area.
The governor of the host prefecture of Fukui had insisted that Noda make his stance clear to the public. A formal decision is expected to be made soon at a meeting of Noda and other key ministers after the Fukui governor responds.
Japanese voters, however, have grown wary of nuclear power since Fukushima, with surveys showing that about 70 percent want to abandon reliance on atomic energy even if not immediately.
Around 1,000 people protested outside the prime minister's office in central Tokyo after his news conference, chanting "We oppose restarts" and "Protect our children". More were joining the crowd of office workers, mothers with children and elderly as they waved banners opposing nuclear power.
"The overwhelming majority of the public do not want nuclear reactor restarts, and they are more than ready to work together and conserve power over the summer to remain nuclear free," environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement.
"By ignoring them and continuing his reckless push to restart Ohi, Prime Minister Noda is compromising the health and safety of millions, and showing just how deep his government is in the pocket of the nuclear industry," it said.
The government is currently thrashing out a new medium-term energy strategy to replace a 2010 plan that would have boosted nuclear power to 30 percent of electricity supply by 2030.
Experts say a 15 percent target for 2030 is likely but the government is not likely to pledge to abandon atomic energy completely by mid-century given the clout of the nuclear industry and business worries about higher electricity costs.
In a sign of the close ties that bind corporate Japan, former Tepco president Shimizu, a target of public outrage after the accident, will this month become an outside board member of Fuji Oil Co., which is owned by AOC Holdings Inc, a firm in which Tepco has an 8.7 percent stake.
Shimizu was widely criticized for vanishing from public view three days after the disaster struck. He was later hospitalized for dizziness and high blood pressure, leaving the utility's chairman to supervise operations during his absence.
On Friday, he apologised again for the nuclear disaster but denied charges by then-premier Naoto Kan that he had considered pulling out all the plant's workers.
When pressed, however, Shimizu - whose frequent comments that he could not recall certain conversations prompted a rebuke from the panel chairman - said he had never clearly stated that some staff would remain.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/06/08/japan-nuclear-reactors-idUKL4E8H87CV20120608
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency plans to conclude that the Mihama nuclear power plant's No. 2 reactor in Fukui Prefecture is safe enough to operate beyond 40 years, the period of operation that requires safety assessments, sources said Wednesday. It would be the first time since the Fukushima disaster last year for NISA to give such permission to a reactor.
However, the fate of reactors designated as operable beyond 40 years will be reconsidered once a new nuclear regulatory body is launched to replace NISA as part of efforts to enhance nuclear regulations. The government has also submitted a bill to revise the law regulating reactors that would set a 40-year lifespan for reactors.
Under such circumstances, a decision by NISA to extend the life of the Mihama reactor could draw public criticism.
NISA was expected to present a draft report later in the day to a panel of experts discussing the issue, in which it was to say that Kansai Electric Power Co.'s safety evaluation on reactor 2 is appropriate.
Mihama Mayor Jiro Yamaguchi welcomed the expected move.
"It's necessary to examine safety under the current system," Yamaguchi told reporters.
"New standards (under the new regulatory body) will be stricter, but checks (anyway will need to) be conducted again," the mayor said.
Although reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant had been operating for almost 40 years when it was crippled last year, the agency has not urged utilities to take additional measures to deal with potential dangers connected with aging, saying it is not clear whether that was a factor in the crisis.
The Mihama reactor 2 started operating July 25, 1972. Two other reactors have been permitted to keep running for more than 40 years. They are reactor 1 at Japan Atomic Power Co.'s Tsuruga power station in Fukui Prefecture and reactor 1 at Kepco's Mihama plant.
NISA conducted on-site inspections on Mihama's reactor 2 in April and judged there is no problem in Kepco's management and operation plan, the sources said.
Under the current rule, utilities need to assess the safety of reactors older than 30 years. NISA checks the evaluation and the utility is required to conduct safety assessments every 10 years after that.
Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120607a3.html
2. Hungary Receives Nuclear Plant Bid From Rosatom, Portfolio Says
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Hungary received a bid for the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear plant from Russia’s state- run nuclear holding company Rosatom Corp., news website Portfolio said, citing Pal Kovacs, state secretary at the Development Ministry.
Hungary, which plans to build two additional blocks in Paks, expects to get at least five bids, Istvan Hamvas, the plant’s chief executive officer said, according to Portfolio.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-06/hungary-receives-nuclear-plant-bid-from-rosatom-portfolio-says.html
AREVA said it has inked a series of agreements with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) for the supply of natural uranium from 2012 to 2025.
AREVA chief executive officer Luc Oursel said these agreements illustrate the relationship between the company and the Chinese nuclear industry in which CNNC is a major player.
"They also strengthen our mining partnership with this strategic partner, in particular in the field of uranium supply, and are in line with the links we have already forged in other areas of the nuclear cycle", he added.
AREVA and the Chinese nuclear industry have partnered to work together on the supply of natural uranium, the delivery of nuclear fuel and offer services to existing power plants.
The companies have been undertaking the construction of new reactors, where the Chinese nuclear sector currently has 15 reactors in operation and 26 reactors under construction.
Available at: http://nuclearfuels.energy-business-review.com/news/areva-inks-uranium-supply-deals-in-china-050612
4. Russia, China May Build Fast Neutron Reactor, RIA Novosti Says
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The Russian state-run civil nuclear corporation Rosatom may sign an initial agreement with Chinese energy companies to build a commercial fast neutron reactor in China, RIA Novosti reported, citing Rosatom’s head Sergei Kiriyenko.
The companies of the two countries may sign protocols to work out the initial stage of the project this summer, RIA reported, citing Kiriyenko.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-06/russia-china-may-build-fast-neutron-reactor-ria-novosti-says.html
A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is currently making an official visit the Kingdom to provide technical consultation and assistance to the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) on documents related to the design of the nuclear research plant.
The team will focus on reviewing studies related to nuclear safety at the research plant conducted by the JAEC to acquire the necessary license for the construction of the plant.
The visit reflects Jordan's keenness to abide by all international rules and criteria as well as the IAEA instructions to implement the nuclear plant.
The delegation will make a field visit to site of the research nuclear plant on campus of Jordan University of Science and Technology to check on progress achieved with regard to the implementation of the project.
The commission said the visit is part of previous visits made by experts of the IAEA to Jordan within technical aid offered to Jordan to enhance nuclear safety and support human and technical capacities.
The team, which is led by Pablo Adelfang comprises international experts with wide experience in the management and use of research plants.
Available at: http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=16796
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