1. Iran Waiting for P5+1 Group to Take Confidence-Building Steps: Lawmaker
Xinhua News Agency
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An Iranian lawmaker said Iran is waiting for the P5+1 group, including Britain, France, Russia, the United States, China and Germany, to take confidence-building steps to help advance the course of talks, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Monday.
"In addition to permitting numerous inspections, the Islamic Republic has answered all questions and (cleaned up) ambiguities, and has always welcomed proposals to hold negotiations, so now the P5+1 group should take confidence-building steps," Hossein Naqavi- Hosseini, a member of Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said.
The latest round of talks between Iran and six world powers as well as the European Union (EU) ended in Moscow on June 19. The two parties failed to make a breakthrough at talks on Tehran's nuclear program, but agreed to meet again in Istanbul in July 3 at the expert level.
The lawmaker also said the only way to solve Iran's nuclear issues is to continue the talks, so Iran does not welcome an end to negotiations.
On new sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and EU, Naqavi-Hosseini said it is not a right approach to increase sanctions while negotiations are underway, adding that "The P5+1 group should lift sanctions as the first step toward confidence- building."
The United States and EU have imposed several rounds of sanctions to pressure Iran to give up its uranium enrichment activities. Days after some fresh U.S. sanctions started prohibiting the world's banks from conducting oil transactions with Iranian banks, a new EU oil embargo that prevents its member states from buying Iranian crude took effect on July 1.
The United States, Israel and some other Western countries suspect that the Iranian nuclear program is a cover for building nuclear weapons. The Islamic republic has rejected the allegations and insisted on the "peaceful" nature of its nuclear activities.
2. EU, Iran Diplomats to Meet for Nuclear Talks in July, Reuters, 7/9/2012
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Senior diplomats from the European Union and Iran will meet on July 24 for technical talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear programme to try to salvage diplomatic efforts to resolve the decade-long standoff, EU officials said on Monday.
The meeting in Istanbul will be the second in a series of discussions to clarify technical aspects of Tehran's activity.
It follows an agreement by Iran and six world powers in June to use such talks to decide whether diplomacy tackling broader political issues should continue in the face of vast differences in views over the nature of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"The objective for the meeting ... is to look further at how existing gaps in positions could be narrowed and how the process could be moved forward," a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
Ashton is spearheading nuclear talks with Iran on behalf of the United States, China, Russia, Britain, Germany and France.
Without a deal, the stalemate over Iran's nuclear aspirations could boil over into a regional war that could destabilise oil markets and damage the fragile global economy.
In a series of negotiation rounds this year, neither side has been willing to budge. The six powers want Tehran to scale back its uranium enrichment, and in particular to stop refining the material to levels close to weapons-grade, because of their suspicions that Tehran wants to acquire a nuclear bomb.
Iran, which denies its work has any military dimensions, wants international sanctions lifted before it makes any concessions, and formal recognition of a right to enrich uranium. But the six are loath to make concessions before seeing evidence of Iranian willingness to address their concerns.
New sanctions went into place in the past few weeks, with EU governments imposing an embargo on Iranian oil on July 1.
Ashton's spokesman said talks would continue after the July 24 meeting between Iran's deputy chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, and a senior member of Ashton's team, Helga Schmid. Ashton and Iran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, would be in contact in the future, he said.
Tensions between the West and Iran have increased since high-level negotiations foundered in Moscow in June, with Tehran saying it had successfully tested medium-range missiles capable of hitting Israel as a response to threats of attack.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/09/iran-nuclear-talks-idUSL6E8I9A4F20120709
1. Japanese Nuclear Reactor at Full Power After First Post-Fukushima Restart
Japan Daily Press
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The Oi, Fukui Prefecture nuclear power plant in western Japan, the first to be restarted since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, has one of its reactors back to full operations as of Monday, says Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), the plant’s operator. With Japan’s last nuclear plant going into suspension on May 5th, the Oi facility’s restart on July 1st also brought an end to the country’s two-month period with no electricity generated from nuclear power. KEPCO says it will start one more reactor at the Oi plant before this month is over.
A spokesman for KEPCO has said that the reactor returned to operation without any problems, and has remained stable since its output began. This announcement comes only days after an independent investigation ordered by the Japanese parliament reported its findings that the Fukushima disaster was essentially man-made, and could have been prevented. The primary cause was Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s deliberate ignoring of warnings, along with collusion between the central government and nuclear regulators. Yet, the same government, led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, gave the order to restart the Oi power plant, despite nation-wide protests and a resistance to returning to the use of nuclear power.
All 50 of Japan’s nuclear reactors began going into suspension for safety checks and maintenance immediately after the crisis at Fukushima. Since then, the country’s utility companies have drastically increased their use of fossil fuels like oil and liquified natural gas. A fear of power shortages over the electricity-demanding summer months were the primary justification for the reactor’s restart, but the government has still called for citizens and businesses to conserve their electricity, and KEPCO has even warned they still may resort to rolling blackouts.
Available at: http://japandailypress.com/japanese-nuclear-reactor-at-full-power-after-first-post-fukushima-restart-106305
2. Study Finds Waste-Fuelled Nuclear Reactor "Feasible" for UK
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The prospect of the UK's first nuclear reactor running on spent fuel edged closer to reality yesterday with the submission of a feasibility study by developer GE Hitachi (GEH).
The next-generation PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Modular) reactor is one of the solutions the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is looking at to deal with the 100 tonnes of plutonium waste being stored in the country.
The government has made it known its preferred option is to convert the waste into mixed-oxide fuel (mox) that can be used in standard reactors, despite the fact the UK's first mox plant closed last year after posting huge losses.
An initial application to build a PRISM reactor at Sellafield in Cumbria, home to over 80 tonnes of plutonium waste, was reportedly rejected in January, with the NDA claiming the technology was years away from being commercially viable.
However, GEH is adamant its reactor offers a more cost effective solution than mox plants and has submitted the 1,000 page feasibility report in an attempt to persuade the NDA to support the proposal.
The report includes a vote of confidence by analysts DBD Ltd, which says that in terms of fuel fabrication, reactor operation, and fuel storage, there are "no fundamental impediments" to licensability in the UK.
GEH adds the reactor would not only generate around 600MW of low carbon electricity, but also be cheaper for UK taxpayers. The company envisages the project would be funded by a private consortium, with the government paying per tonne of plutonium processed, although some public funds are still likely to be needed for construction.
"After reviewing the report, we feel strongly that we have the best, lowest-risk solution to meet the NDA's and ultimately UK citizens' needs," said Danny Roderick, senior vice president of nuclear plant projects at GEH.
"We applaud NDA's transparency and objectivity in looking at plutonium reuse alternatives and look forward to a detailed analysis of all technologies being considered." The NDA is expected to make a recommendation to government by the end of the year, after which officials will select a final proposal.
In related news, the government today appointed Professor Laurence Williams, its former chief inspector of nuclear installations, as Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, an independent body providing advice and scrutiny to the UK and devolved governments.
Available at: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2190361/study-waste-fuelled-nuclear-reactor-feasible-uk
3. China Plans Nuclear Deep-Sea Mining Base, Liat Clark
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A Chinese company is set to build a nuclear-powered mobile deep-sea station in the western Pacific, according to local reports.
The China Ship Scientific Research Centre's proposed station -- which will have huge propellers to enable free movement in the ocean depths -- will be manned by 33 crew for up to two months at a time and powered by a nuclear reactor.
Its main goal, according to reports in the South China Sea Post, will be to mine for precious metals. The nation, which recently announced it is stockpiling rare earth elements amid fears of shortages, would use the facilities to hunt mainly for copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and oil.
Underwater mining is typically a costly affair, full of potential dangers and problems. Canadian-owned Nautilus Minerals Inc was the first commercial copper-gold mining venture to be granted permission to explore the Bismarck Sea floor surrounding Papua New Guinea, but has already run into problems with environmentalists warning the mining could destroy marine life and cause devastating oil spills. China's Tongling Non-ferrous Metals Group had signed up as the project's very first customer in April 2012, but a dispute with Papua New Guinea also stands to halt the mining project's 2013 launch completely
The Chinese company appears to be wary of these issues, and is therefore treading carefully, with plans for the bold venture slated for a more reasonable 2030 launch -- according to experts the South China Sea Post spoke to -- and a smaller 12-crew prototype capable of 18-day dives set to launch by 2015. The larger 60-metre-long craft will weigh in at 2,600 tonnes.
In preparation, the China Ship Scientific Research Centre has been engaging in test dives of manned vehicles -- its Jiaolong model reached a record-breaking 7,020 metres at the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean on the same day that China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft docked at the Tiangong 1 space station.
Reports suggest that the project is being funded by the state's 863 Program, a fund specifically for the development of innovative technologies, which has links with the military. Nevertheless, mining for oil and copper seem to be the most likely priorities on the agenda, with crew on the station able to spend two months at a time living and mining underwater.
Shanghai is hosting the 41st Underwater Mining Institute conference October 2012, and further details could potentially be revealed then. In the meantime, a look at the China Ship Scientific Research Centre's website reveals fields of interest that range from manned submersibles such as the Jiaolong vessel to atmospheric one-man diving suits and autonomous underwater robots -- the latter would be exponentially beneficial in aiding aquanauts during danger-filled underwater mining missions.
The centre also appears to be keen on waterslides. Definitely one to watch.
Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-07/09/china-underwater-mining-station
1. Fuel Rod Containers At Japanese Nuke Plant Found Damaged
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Damage to fuel rod containers has been detected at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Japan's Miyagi prefecture causing concern among local residents.
Japan's nuclear safety agency has ordered the plant's operator Tohoku Electric Power Company to check and report on whether the damage was caused by the massive earthquake of March 11, 2011, Japanese media reported on Wednesday.
The utility recently used an underwater camera to inspect the 4.5-meter-high metal containers in a fuel rod storage pool. It detected a two centimeter-long, several-millimeter-wide chip on one of the containers. It also found more than 12 places on other containers where pieces were missing. Such damage has never been reported at a nuclear plant in Japan.
Tohoku Electric says the fuel rods are intact, and that there are no safety concerns because the plant's reactors are out of operation. The company will investigate the damage in detail, and inspect the plant's all three reactors.
Japan remains alert on nuclear plants since the 2011 quake-triggered tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant sending out radiation that forced evacuation of thousands of people in a 30 kilometer radius of the plant.
Available at: http://www.rttnews.com/1920666/fuel-rod-containers-at-japanese-nuke-plant-found-damaged.aspx?type=gn&Node=B1
2. Suspended S. Korea Nuclear Plant Gets Green Light to Resume Operation
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South Korean nuclear safety regulators on Wednesday approved resumption of a nuclear power plant near Busan that was suspended in March over safety concerns, following a blackout event the previous month.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said inspections carried out at the Gori 1 Nuclear Power Plant near the southern port cityhave ascertained that it is safe to resume operation.
One of the two reactors at the plant lost power for 12 minutes during a safety check on Feb. 9. The plant's operations were suspended on March 13 after a public outcry triggered by the discovery that senior engineers had tried tocover up the Feb. 9 mishap for more than a month.
Besides the non-reporting of the blackout event, senior engineersat the plant failed to take immediate steps restore an emergency backup diesel generator, and they compounded their negligence by removing nuclear fuel inside the reactor on Feb. 10 without the emergencydiesel generator in operable condition.
The diesel generator was reportedly not repaired until Feb. 13 asdoing so would have revealed the power cut.
Citing "total safety insensitivity" among Gori officials, state prosecutors have indicted five engineers at the plant for suspected involvement in the cover-up.
Last month, an international team of nuclear safety experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency completed a weeklong reviewof safety practices at the plant at the request of its operator, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co.
The team -- comprised of experts from Belgium, Britain, France, Sweden and the IAEA -- concluded in part that "shortcomings in safetyculture" at the plant "led to an inability to counter the errors inhandling the station blackout event and the subsequent leadership failures in communication and reporting."
It recommended improved safety culture, better preparedness to deal with unexpected or difficult situations, better reporting and analysis of events, and more independent oversight.
The team determined that the plant's equipment, including that which caused the station blackout, to be in good condition in the wakeof replacements and upgrades since February, while it lauded the broad scope of safety improvements being implemented since then.
Nuclear safety has become a growing public concern in South Koreaafter last year's nuclear disaster in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture.
Available at: http://www.power-eng.com/news/2012/07/10/suspended-s-korea-nuclear-plant-gets-green-light-to-resume-operation.html
3. NNSA Announces Elimination of 450 Metric Tons of Russian Weapons Highly Enriched Uranium
National Nuclear Security Administration
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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has monitored the elimination of more than 450 metric tons (MT) of Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU) under a landmark nuclear nonproliferation program. The 1993 U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement is now 90 percent complete and by the end of 2013 a total of 500 MT of Russian nuclear weapons HEU will be eliminated by being converted into low enriched uranium (LEU), which is intended for peaceful uses.
The agreement requires Russia to convert weapons-origin HEU into LEU. The resulting LEU is delivered to the U.S., fabricated into nuclear fuel, and used in nuclear power plants to generate roughly 10 percent of all electricity consumed in the U.S. each year. Nearly half of all commercial nuclear energy produced in the U.S. comes from nuclear fuel derived from Russian nuclear weapons.
“Down-blending weapons origin HEU into LEU that is used for commercial energy is a core NNSA nonproliferation mission,” said Anne Harrington, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “Supervising the elimination of Russian origin HEU directly supports the president’s mission to eliminate vulnerable nuclear material around the globe in order to improve international nuclear security.”
NNSA's HEU Transparency Program monitors the Russian HEU-to-LEU conversion process to ensure that all LEU delivered to the U.S. under the agreement is derived from Russian weapons HEU. The HEU Transparency Program implements extensive access and monitoring rights during 24 annual monitoring visits to four Russian HEU processing facilities. At these facilities, U.S. experts measure and observe HEU processing firsthand, analyze Russian HEU-to-LEU processing forms, and use U.S. monitoring equipment. This information allows the U.S. to confirm that Russian HEU-to-LEU conversion activities fulfill the agreement’s nonproliferation goals.
Since 1995, the NNSA program has conducted 335 monitoring visits to Russian HEU processing facilities and since 2000, U.S. experts have monitored the elimination of 30 metric tons of Russian HEU each year – the yearly equivalent of about 1,200 nuclear weapons. By the end of 2013, NNSA will have monitored the elimination of HEU roughly equivalent to 20,000 nuclear weapons.
The Russian Federation also conducts reciprocal monitoring activities at U.S. facilities to confirm the exclusively peaceful use of all LEU delivered under the agreement. The agreement will be fully completed in the 2014-2015 timeframe when all LEU is manufactured into nuclear fuel and all final accounting and transparency documents are provided to the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom).
The U.S. Enrichment Corporation and Techsnabexport, the executive agents for the agreement, manage the commercial aspects and logistics of the uranium shipments and transfers. Follow NNSA News on our Blog and on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Flickr.
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://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/450tons070912
1. The Nuclear Plant to Be Built in Turkey's Mersin Akkuyu May Cost USD 25 Billion
Balkans Business News
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During a press statement, Vladimir Ivanovski, Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey said the nuclear plant to be built in Mersin Akkuyu may cost as high as USD 25 billion, while the initial costs were estimated at USD 20 billion.
Ivanovski said, “Our primary objective is to construct the nuclear plant. The initials costs were set at USD 20 billion; however it is likely that this figure may rise up to USD 25 billion. The groundbreaking of the Akkuyu nuclear plant will take place in 2013, while the first unit will be commissioned in 2019. The units will go into operation one after another each year and the plant will be completed in 2022, creating employment opportunities for at least 3,000 people.
Available at: http://www.balkans.com/open-news.php?uniquenumber=150768
2. Areva Will Bid on Horizon Nuclear Project with Chinese Partners
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Areva will make a joint bid with a number of electrical companies, including China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp. (CGNPC), for the British Horizon project, an Areva spokesperson said. Areva’s CEO, Luc Oursel, first told reporters of the plans to make a bid at a conference in southern France on July 7.
Horizon Nuclear Power was formed in January 2009 with the aim of developing up to 6,600 MW of new nuclear power station capacity. In March 2012, shareholders of Horizon, E.ON UK and RWE npower, announced their plans to withdraw from UK nuclear and seek new owners for Horizon. Horizon owns two nuclear plants, Wylfa, where it planned to develop new plants, and Oldbury.
Available at: http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2012/07/areva-will-bid-on-horizon-nuclear-project-with-chinese-partners.html
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