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Nuclear News - 8/16/2012
PGS Nuclear News, August 16, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Iran
    1. Peres Says Israel Can't Go it Alone in Iran, Trusts Obama, Jeffrey Heller, Reuters (8/16/2012)
    2. Insight: Standard Chartered's New York Nemesis Wins Deal but Makes Enemies, Carrick Mollenkamp, Brett Wolf and Karen Freifeld, Reuters (8/15/2012)
    3. Germany Arrests Four Men Suspected of Busting Iran Embargo, Madeline Chambers, Reuters (8/15/2012)
    4. Russia Says New U.S. Sanctions on Iran Could Affect Ties, Reuters (8/13/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. N.Korea May Complete Reactor Next Year: Think Tank, AFP (8/16/2012)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. UK May Okay EDF, Areva Reactor Design by Year-End, Reuters (8/14/2012)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Attack on Pakistan Base Raises Fear about Nuclear Arsenal, Los Angeles Times (8/16/2012)
    2. UN Atom Agency Sees "Significant" Nuclear Safety Progress, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (8/15/2012)
    3. Japan Video Shows Delay in Using Seawater to Cool Meltdown Reactor, Risa Maeda, Reuters (8/14/2012)
    4. DHS DNDO, IAEA Sign Security Development Agreement, Mark Rockwell, Government Security News (8/13/2012)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. UAE Awards Nuclear Fuel Supply Contracts, Worth $3 Bln, Stanley Carvalho and Maha El Dahan, Reuters and Moscow Times (8/15/2012)
    2. Kazakhstan Reveals Whether it Will Supply Iran With Uranium, Trend (8/15/2012)
    3. Japan's Toshiba Eyes Nuclear Power Alliance, AFP (8/14/2012)
    4. MP Government to Ink Power Purchase Pact with NPCIL, Business Standard (8/13/2012)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. New U.S. Nuclear Regulator Says Spent Fuel A Top Priority, Kasia Klimasinsk, Bloomberg (8/14/2012)

A.  Iran

Peres Says Israel Can't Go it Alone in Iran, Trusts Obama
Jeffrey Heller
(for personal use only)

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday came out against any go-it-alone Israeli attack on Iran, saying he trusted U.S. President Barack Obama's pledge to prevent Tehran from producing nuclear weapons.

"I am convinced this is an American interest. I am convinced (President Obama) recognizes the American interest and he isn't saying this just to keep us happy. I have no doubt about it, after having had talks with him," Peres told Israel's Channel Two television.

"Now, it's clear to us that we can't do it alone. We can delay (Iran's nuclear program). It's clear to us we have to proceed together with America. There are questions about coordination and timing, but as serious as the danger is, this time at least we are not alone."

The elder statesman's remarks appeared to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who have both raised the prospect of a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran.

An unidentified top Israeli official, widely believed to be Barak, said in an interview with the Haaretz newspaper on Friday that the Jewish state "cannot place the responsibility for its security and future even in the hands of its greatest ally", a reference to the United States.

As president, Peres, 89, has little political power in Israel. But he has won the respect of many Israelis while serving in the post and travels abroad frequently to meet foreign leaders.

A flurry of comments by Israeli officials and Israeli media reports over the past week put financial markets on edge by appearing to suggest a strike could be launched before the U.S. presidential election in November.

At a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it was important that military action be the "last resort", adding that there was still time for sanctions and diplomatic pressure to work.

"I don't believe they've made a decision as to whether or not they will go in and attack Iran at this time," Panetta said.

In parliament on Thursday, Barak said Israeli deliberations on a course of action were on-going.

"There is a forum of nine (ministers), there is a (security) cabinet, and a decision, when it is required, will be taken by the Israeli government," Barak said.

"This doesn't mean there aren't differences. The issue is complicated, but the issue is being deliberated," he added.

Israeli officials have told Reuters that the cabinet was split on the issue, while the top military leadership was believed to be opposed to any mission that did not have full U.S. support.

Iran rejects Israeli and Western allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons.

It has threatened wide-ranging reprisals if attacked, retaliation that could draw the United States into the conflict.

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Germany Arrests Four Men Suspected of Busting Iran Embargo
Madeline Chambers
(for personal use only)

German police have arrested four men suspected of delivering valves for a heavy water reactor to Iran, breaking an embargo on such exports to the Islamic Republic imposed over its disputed nuclear program.

Prosecutors said some 90 customs officers arrested the men, a German and three with dual German-Iranian citizenship, at their homes in the northern cities of Hamburg and Oldenburg and the eastern town of Weimar, and searched flats and offices.

"In 2010 and 2011 the suspects are believed to have helped in the delivery of special valves for the construction of a heavy water reactor in Iran and therefore to have broken the Iran embargo," prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday.

They did not name the plant, but Iran is building a heavy water research reactor near the central town of Arak, a type which Western experts say could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Iran, which has said it hopes to bring Arak on line by the end of 2013, says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and that the reactor will produce isotopes for medical and agricultural use.

To avoid export controls, the men are suspected of having described their customer as a firm based in Turkey and Azerbaijan.

"The deliveries were part of an order worth several million euros (dollars) which Iran was trying to use to secure the necessary valve technology to make a heavy water reactor," said the prosecutors.

The men were therefore suspected of breaking Germany's law on foreign trade and breaching military weapons controls.

Prosecutors named the men only as Kianzad Ka., Gholamali Ka., Hamid Kh. and Rudolf M. Customs officials also searched the property of another suspect in the eastern town of Halle/Saale as well as that individual's business.

A Washington-based think-tank, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), said Iran's aim to start operating Arak in 2013 could be "delayed because of problems acquiring necessary items overseas or in building the reactor".

Analysts say increasingly tough sanctions and suspected sabotage are slowing Iran's nuclear advances.

Once up and running, the Arak reactor could produce about 9 kg of plutonium annually, or enough for about two nuclear weapons each year, if operating optimally, ISIS said on its website.

Iran has been hit with several rounds of U.N. sanctions, plus tougher measures imposed by the European Union and United States, since 2006 due to its refusal to suspend enrichment of uranium, a process that yields fuel for nuclear power stations but also nuclear bombs, depending on the level of refinement.

The world's No. 5 oil exporter, says it does not want to build a bomb but rather needs nuclear energy for electricity to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population.

On Tuesday, Standard Chartered Plc reached a $340 million settlement with New York's bank regulator for transactions linked to Iran although the bank may still face investigations into transactions by other U.S. agencies.

The New York Financial Services Superintendent had this month accused Standard Chartered of breaking U.S. sanctions on Iran, saying it had hidden Iran-linked transactions worth a total of $250 billion from regulators.

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Insight: Standard Chartered's New York Nemesis Wins Deal but Makes Enemies
Carrick Mollenkamp, Brett Wolf and Karen Freifeld
(for personal use only)

Benjamin Lawsky played hardball with Standard Chartered Plc and a gauntlet of federal and New York regulators and prosecutors right up until the last hours of the $340 million settlement on Tuesday with the British bank over improper and concealed transactions tied to Iran.

Based on a dozen interviews, Reuters has learned that Lawsky, New York's top banking regulator, ignored on Monday the entreaties of federal regulators to drop his own action in favor of a single, global settlement. He also insisted on Monday that the bank agree that the settlement specify that it had engaged in $250 billion of transactions, a figure the bank had vigorously disputed.

Spokespersons for the bank and Lawsky declined to comment.

Despite criticism of his aggressive approach — both from Standard Chartered and government officials — Lawsky's tactics carried the day, and the repercussions for Standard Chartered and other banks he regulates are far-reaching.

Until now, banks accused of money laundering or other illegal activity typically have reached settlements with federal and local regulators and prosecutors that revealed few details of their alleged activities.

In contrast, Lawsky released embarrassing communications that exposed internal discussions, painted Standard Chartered as what he termed a "rogue institution" and threatened to pull its New York banking license. He won a settlement far larger than many experts thought was possible.

"It announces to the regulatory community that this agency is going to demand a seat at the table in pretty much every major financial investigation in the future," said Stephen Miller, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Lawsky at the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.

But others say Lawsky's brash move alienated federal officials and will make it tougher for him to partner with them on future cases.

Lawsky began his gambit with what federal regulators and the bank considered an ambush on August 6 when he filed a scathing order against the bank that revealed its failure to halt money laundering for Iranian entities.

The order included the now infamous, incendiary quote from Standard Chartered's Chief Financial Officer Richard Meddings: "You f---ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we're not going to deal with Iranians?" Standard Chartered has vehemently disputed the accuracy of the quote.

In the subsequent eight days, a shaken Standard Chartered management came under intense pressure from shareholders to reach a settlement rather than face the threat of losing its New York license, which could have crippled its ability to process U.S. dollar transactions.

In public, bank officials disputed Lawsky's allegations, especially Lawsky's contention that $250 billion of transactions were involved. The bank's tally: Less than $14 million.

Standard Chartered Chief Executive Peter Sands also defended the bank, telling reporters that Lawsky's threat to yank Standard Chartered's license was "disproportionate" to how other banks had settled sanction cases.

Bank officials set up a war room at the lower Manhattan law office of Sullivan & Cromwell, which offers sweeping views of the Statue of Liberty. Among those on the team: Rodgin Cohen, the New York lawyer often quietly at the center of these types of cases.

By late last week, the bank's stance appeared to soften. Bank officials feared that Lawsky would leak more documents or emails that would embarrass the bank. On August 9, Sands was scheduled to appear on CNBC. At the last minute, the network announced that Sands wouldn't appear because of "logistical reasons".

A few blocks from the bank war room, in a gray tower near the Staten Island ferry terminal, Lawsky worked with a team of New York lawyers with ties to federal prosecutors or politicians such as New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Lawsky's brain trust included Daniel Alter, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in terrorism cases. Others involved included Anthony Albanese, Gaurav Vasisht and Kathryn Diaz.

From the start, the settlement talks largely focused on just one thing: The financial penalty Standard Chartered would pay. The two sides also discussed the fact that Standard Chartered would install a monitor for two years who would report to Lawsky's office the bank's efforts to strengthen anti-money laundering systems, terms that were eventually accepted.

Lawsky believed the federal investigation, which dates to 2010, was growing stale. But in fact federal investigators were trying to conclude a settlement with Standard Chartered by Labor Day, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department and Manhattan district attorney also were juggling numerous cases, according to these people, and had only in June wrapped up a $619 million settlement with ING Bank NV, a Dutch bank that allegedly violated sanctions against Cuba and Iran.

Sands, who cut short a vacation when Lawsky filed his order, flew in to New York from London as the deal neared a conclusion.

As a deal was finalized, Lawsky delivered a final blow. About an hour before he publicly announced the settlement, Lawsky's office told bank officials that it specifically would include the whopping $250 billion figure that the bank had so strongly disputed.

Lawsky's initial order alleged the bank had "schemed" with Iran and hid from regulators transactions totaling $250 billion.

By the time a settlement was struck, less inflammatory language was used, but the dollar figure remained: "The parties have agreed that the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion."

"What were they (Standard Chartered) supposed to do?" said a person familiar with the bank's dilemma.

For federal regulators, Lawsky's unilateral actions also changed the rules of the game. First, Lawsky issued the order against Standard Chartered after giving other regulators and prosecutors involved in the investigation only short notice.

Lawsky's move drew the ire of U.S. and British regulators, prompting Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to suggest that the United States was unfairly targeting British banks.

Lawsky didn't back down.

Then, as Lawsky's office neared a deal, he yet again went his own way. He rejected an eleventh-hour request from a task force of federal and local law-enforcement agencies that he join the pack and stand down.

The upshot: Standard Chartered's $340 million settlement is only with Lawsky's office. Federal regulators now have to strike their own separate deals with the bank.

The friction between Lawsky and the other regulators exposes a growing rift among law-enforcement agencies about how quickly to act against banks suspected of lax controls to prevent money laundering or illicit transactions.

In July, a U.S. Senate investigative panel led by Sen. Carl Levin released a damning report of money-laundering lapses inside another British bank, HSBC Holdings Plc. The bank has apologized for the problems. That report said the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had allowed compliance problems to "fester" at HSBC and the agency failed to take strong action until it learned that two U.S. law-enforcement agencies were investigating HSBC.

In a statement Tuesday, Levin lauded Lawsky's quick action, saying his department "showed that holding a bank accountable for past misconduct doesn't need to take years of negotiation over the size of the penalty; it simply requires a regulator with backbone to act."

But Lawsky has risked alienating other regulators. A source close to the federal probe of Standard Chartered said it's unlikely Lawsky's office will be included in future investigations of sanctions violations.

This person said that while Lawsky's department has the authority to demand documents from banks, other agencies aren't likely to share tips nor are they likely to partner with it.

Lawsky's department "had great potential. This was just a short-sighted move that is going to end up really backfiring," the source said.

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Russia Says New U.S. Sanctions on Iran Could Affect Ties
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Russia sharply criticised new U.S. sanctions against Iran on Monday, saying the measures to punish banks, insurance companies and shippers that help Iran sell its oil would harm Moscow's ties with Washington if Russian firms are affected.

Russia, which has long opposed sanctions beyond those approved by the U.N. Security Council to pressure Tehran over its nuclear programme, called the measures "overt blackmail" and a "crude contradiction of international law."

The United States ceased most trade with Iran many years ago and has put increasing pressure other countries to reduce their business with the Islamic Republic.

The measures approved by Congress on Aug. 1 build on oil trade sanctions signed into law by Obama in December that have prompted Japan, South Korea, India and others to slash purchases of Iranian oil.

"We are talking about restrictive measures not only against Iran but also affecting foreign companies and individuals working with it, including in the hydrocarbon extraction and transport, petrochemicals, finance and insurance industries," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We consider efforts to ... impose internal American legislation on the entire world completely unacceptable," it said. "We reject methods of overt blackmail that the United States resorts to in relation to the companies and banks of other countries."

"Those in Washington should take into account that our bilateral relations will suffer seriously if Russian operators ... come under the effects of the American restrictions," the ministry said.

Relations between Moscow and Washington improved after President Barack Obama moved to "reset" ties early in his term, but they have been strained by disputes over Syria and President Vladimir Putin's accusation of U.S. meddling in Russian politics.

In the statement, Russia repeated its argument that unilateral sanctions - as opposed to those approved by the Security Council, where Moscow has veto power - are counterproductive.

The "constant increase of pressure on Tehran" undermines unity among the six nations leading diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear programme - Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany - and hurts the chances of success.

Russia balances its role in the diplomatic attempts to ensure Tehran does not develop nuclear weapons with aid to the civilian nuclear programme in Iran, where it built a nuclear power plant that came on line this year.

Talks between Iran and the six powers in Moscow in June failed to end the standoff over Tehran's nuclear activities including the enrichment of uranium which Western nations fear is part of a bid for weapons capability.

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B.  North Korea

N.Korea May Complete Reactor Next Year: Think Tank
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North Korea may finish work by late 2013 on a light-water reactor that could be used to support its nuclear weapons program, a US think tank said Tuesday.

The Institute for Science and International Security published satellite images taken in May and June of the Yongbyon nuclear complex showing cranes and metal beams that could be used to bring heavy components into the reactor.

An expert who reviewed the photographs "estimated that the reactor could be completed in the second half of 2013," the Washington-based think tank said in a report.

Most major external work appears to be complete except for covering the reactor with a dome, which has been seen lying next to the site since November, the think tank said.

A separate assessment of earlier satellite imagery, released in May by Johns Hopkins University's US-Korea Institute, also described advances but doubted the facility would be operational before 2014 or 2015.

North Korea first disclosed in 2010 to visiting US scientists that it was working on a new light-water reactor, ostensibly for civilian purposes. The impoverished nation desperately needs energy, but the reactor could also be run to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

The reclusive regime has based its nuclear weapons program on plutonium and has tested two nuclear bombs since 2006, triggering repeated international crises.

Pyongyang has also said that it is building a uranium enrichment plant to produce low-enriched fuel for the new reactor. Scientists believe the accompanying site could be converted to produce highly enriched uranium, giving North Korea a second way to make nuclear weapons.

Young leader Kim Jong-Un's regime said it would suspend nuclear and missile tests along with uranium enrichment under a February 29 deal with the United States in return for badly needed food assistance.

But the agreement quickly collapsed after North Korea launched a rocket on April 13 in what US officials believe was a disguised, albeit unsuccessful, missile test.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

UK May Okay EDF, Areva Reactor Design by Year-End
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Britain's nuclear regulator said it may resolve by the end of the year all outstanding issues regarding the proposed operation of EDF's and Areva's new-generation European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) in Britain.

The French companies, together with junior partner Centrica, plan to build four EPRs in Britain, the first of which would be located at Hinkley Point in Somerset, England.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation is in the process of licensing the EPR design for operation in the UK, a thorough review also known as Generic Design Assessment (GDA) that has already taken several years.

The new nuclear plants, including Hinkley Point, would still need planning and other government approvals before construction could begin.

The regulator said on Tuesday that two GDA issues had been resolved for the EPR and that it could close all outstanding issues by the end of the year.

The issues closed on Tuesday included concerns about the monitoring of irradiation damage to material and evidence that concrete used at the reactor provided adequate shielding to ensure that workers and the public would be protected from radiation.

The regulator said work was ongoing with EDF, Areva and Centrica's joint venture company NNB Generation Company on improvements that would increase confidence it would be able to safely operate the new plant.

"If EDF and AREVA sustain these improvements for the significant number of submissions that are still to be delivered, and if they remain responsive to any questions that we raise, then we believe that the programs that are set out in the revised resolution plans can be achieved," the Office of Nuclear Regulation said.

"In that case, and if we are satisfied by the safety, security and environmental arguments that they put forward, we might be able to close all of the remaining GDA Issues by the end of the year," it added.

Areva and EDF welcomed the report.

"We are pleased that the efforts have resulted in major progress towards securing GDA acceptance within the next few months," Areva UK's Chairman Alain-Pierre Raynaud said in a separate statement.

"We, and our partners Centrica, aim to take our final investment decision at the end of this year. It is vital that momentum is maintained in the legislative process and that we maintain the momentum in the licensing process," said Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy's managing director of nuclear new build.

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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Attack on Pakistan Base Raises Fear about Nuclear Arsenal
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

A militant raid early Thursday on a northern Pakistan air force base with suspected links to the country's nuclear weapons program has renewed questions about Islamabad's ability to safeguard its nuclear arsenal in the face of an insurgency that shows no signs of waning.

A team of eight militants climbed over a perimeter wall at the base in Kamra, about 25 miles northwest of Islamabad, and exchanged gunfire with Pakistani security forces for more than two hours, said air force spokesman Tariq Mahmood. All eight attackers were eventually shot to death, but not before they fatally shot a Pakistani security officer and damaged an aircraft with a rocket-propelled grenade, officials said.

The base at Kamra abuts the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, which assembles fighter jets and other weapons systems, and is a major research hub for the country's air force. Experts have long believed that the compound at Kamra is also used to store some of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, though the military has always denied this.

"Questions will be raised about nuclear weapons -- though the militants were stopped, they entered a high security area and kept security forces engaged for more than two hours," said security analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi. "That means the government of Pakistan and the military will have to address the lapses and weaknesses that exist in their security systems."

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was aimed at avenging the 2009 U.S. drone missile attack that killed Taliban leader Baitullah Mahsud, as well as last year's U.S. commando raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In recent years, the Pakistani Taliban, the country's homegrown insurgency, has been responsible for waves of suicide bombings and other terror attacks on military installations as well as markets, mosques and other civilian targets.

The attack on the base began at about 2 a.m. The militants, wearing explosives-filled suicide vests and armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, were fired on shortly after clambering over the wall and were unable to reach any of the base's hangars, Mahmood said. The base's commander, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, was shot in the shoulder but was not critically injured. Security forces later found two homemade bombs that the attackers had brought into the compound but were unable to detonate, officials said.

Pakistani authorities touted the deaths of the militants as ample evidence of the country's ability to keep its military installations secure. "Everyone did what they were supposed to do," Defense Minister Naveed Qamar told reporters in Islamabad on Thursday. "The security forces challenged the militants and eliminated them."

Nevertheless, the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal remains a major concern for the U.S., given the continued presence of Al Qaeda and other allied militant groups in the country's volatile tribal areas along the Afghan border. U.S. experts say Pakistan is expanding its arsenal, which is estimated to number about 100 nuclear weapons.

"The great danger we've always feared is that if terrorism is not controlled in their country, then those nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told reporters at a Pentagon news conference Wednesday.

Pakistan's history of militant attacks on military and security facilities has reinforced Western fears about Islamabad's ability to secure its nuclear program. The base at Kamra has been the scene of two previous attacks, one in 2009 when a suicide bomber on a bicycle killed seven people at a checkpoint outside the base, and the other in 2007, when a suicide bomber injured five children on a Pakistani air force bus as they were heading to a school near the base.

Last year, a team of militants scaled the perimeter wall of a naval base in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and launched a 17-hour siege on the compound that killed 10 Pakistani security personnel and destroyed two U.S.-supplied maritime surveillance aircraft. In October 2009, militants stormed the army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and took hostages, setting off a 22-hour standoff that ended in the deaths of 23 people, including nine militants.

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UN Atom Agency Sees "Significant" Nuclear Safety Progress
Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

Important progress has been made towards strengthening global nuclear safety after Japan's Fukushima accident last year, according to the United Nations atomic watchdog, but a leading environmental group disputed this.

The International Atomic Energy Agency made the assessment in a report prepared for next month's annual meeting of IAEA member states, which endorsed a safety action plan by consensus last September despite criticism that it did not go far enough.

"Since the adoption of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, significant progress has been made in several key areas," the Vienna-based U.N. agency said.

These included "improvements in emergency preparedness and response capabilities," it added in the nine-page document posted on its website.

But environmental campaign group Greenpeace, which opposes nuclear energy, said there had been "no real" progress.

"The IAEA's action plan does not address any of the real lessons of Fukushima," Aslihan Tumer of Greenpeace International's nuclear campaign said in an e-mailed comment.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was hit by an earthquake and tsunami that knocked out power supply and swamped its backup power and cooling systems, resulting in meltdowns of three of its six reactors.

About 150,000 people were forced to flee as radioactive materials spewed. Some residents never returned.

In Japan last month, a government-appointed inquiry raised doubt about whether other nuclear plants in the country were prepared for massive disasters.

Last week in Europe, Belgium's regulator said it had halted production at one of the reactors of a nuclear plant until at least the end of August to carry out an investigation into suspected cracks found in a core tank.

The IAEA plan approved six months after the Fukushima accident was criticised by some nations for not championing more mandatory measures. It outlined voluntary steps intended to help prevent a repeat of such a crisis event anywhere in the world.

It also called on countries to promptly carry out assessments of their nuclear power plants on how they would be able to withstand extreme natural hazards as well as steps to strengthen emergency preparedness and information.

The IAEA report on the plan's implementation so far - which will be presented to the September 17-21 General Conference of the agency's more than 150 member states - said there had been progress in areas including assessments of "safety vulnerabilities" of atomic plants and strengthened peer reviews.

These and other measures had contributed to "the enhancement of the global nuclear safety framework", it said.

"Significant progress has also been made in reviewing the agency's safety standards which continue to be widely applied by regulators, operators and the nuclear industry in general."

But continued efforts need to be made to ensure more effective communication to the public if there is a radiological or nuclear emergency, the report said.

The IAEA was criticised for its initial handling of the Fukushima disaster, with media and Vienna-based diplomats saying it was slow to give information in the early days of the crisis.

The accident spurred a rethink about nuclear energy worldwide and calls for more concerted action, including beefed-up international safety checks of nuclear power plants.

But preparatory work last year on the IAEA plan exposed differences between states seeking more international commitments and others wanting safety to remain an issue strictly for national authorities.

One group of nations - including Germany and France - voiced disappointment about the safety action plan for not including stricter measures, while the United States, India and China stressed the responsibility of national authorities.

Greenpeace said changes were needed in the entire system for regulating the nuclear industry and a few "touch-ups" here and there were not enough.

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Japan Video Shows Delay in Using Seawater to Cool Meltdown Reactor
Risa Maeda
(for personal use only)

A Japanese nuclear power company hesitated before using corrosive seawater to cool the No. 2 reactor at the stricken Fukushima plant because it hoped it could be used again, video released by the company shows, contradicting official findings.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), was struck by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year, crippling cooling systems and triggering fuel rod meltdowns and radiation leaks that led to mass evacuations and widespread contamination.

The video, one of dozens of fraught vignettes of officials and plant workers grappling with the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, flies in the face of Tepco assertions that executives didn't delay in using seawater.

The grainy video clips, mostly without sound, provide a picture of the chaos that characterized the early phase of the disaster as workers used everything from car batteries to fire hoses to try to bring the reactors under control as radiation levels rose and explosions rocked the site.

"We think using seawater in a hasty way would be wasteful because materials will be corroded," an unidentified company official at Tepco headquarters in Tokyo is heard telling then plant manager Masao Yoshida two days after the quake.

"We don't have the option to use fresh water. That will cause further delays," Yoshida replies, emphasizing there was no time to find enough fresh water to do the job.
They were referring to reactor No. 2. Of the three reactors to suffer fuel rod meltdowns, it was the only one managers hoped could be reused. They had already started using seawater to cool reactors Nos. 1 and 3.

Tepco on Aug 6 relented to pressure from the media and government and released 150 hours of footage taken from cameras installed in the control bunker at the plant, the company's headquarters and other locations.

The videos were released after four inquiry teams, including Tepco's own, presented their final reports on the disaster, which led to the evacuation of 160,000 people from around plant, many of whom may never return.

"The explosion (of reactor No. 3) had the biggest impact. Afterwards we learnt it was a hydrogen explosion but at the time we thought something really terrible was happening and we would die," Yoshida said in an interview taped in July that was shown to overseas journalists for the first time on Monday.

Yoshida, who stepped down as plant manager after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, said he asked staff left at the plant to deal with the crisis to write their names on a whiteboard in the operations centre.

"I wanted a list of those who stayed till the last," Yoshida said in the interview.
Tepco has denied any link between the radiation leak and the cancer.

One of the four inquiries found that Fukushima was a preventable disaster resulting from "collusion" between the government, regulators and Tepco. The inquiries also underline the lack of preparation by Tepco for dealing with a station blackout as occurred at Fukushima.

While the videos fail to shed light on these claims, they contradict assertions made by Tepco in its final report, which was released on June 20.

The footage shows executives knew early in the crisis that at least one of the three reactors that were operating before the disaster had probably gone into meltdown, something they wouldn't admit to publicly for two months.

Tepco also concluded in its report that Yoshida and other officials, including those at headquarters, carried out the seawater injection following appropriate procedures and didn't delay the exercise.

Japanese media have complained loudly about the limited disclosure of the video clips, some of which have been altered so that individuals speaking are not identifiable.

Only accredited journalists are allowed to view the videos at Tepco's head office in Tokyo on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. No sound or visual recordings are allowed, although a short edited version was released publicly by the company.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association has urged the utility to release all videos without restrictions.

The videos also fail to resolve a feud between then-prime minister Naoto Kan over whether Tepco had planned to abandon the Fukushima plant as the crisis risked spinning out of control.

Tepco has denied allegations by Kan, who resigned last year under heavy fire for his handling of the disaster, that it was planning to pull out all its staff.
One video shows Kan, shot from behind and gesturing, addressing headquarters staff on March 15, but with no sound.

Tepco has said one of its video recorders connected to the TV conference system had a technical glitch, an explanation Kan has said he found "unnatural".

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DHS DNDO, IAEA Sign Security Development Agreement
Mark Rockwell
Government Security News
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The DHS office that oversees anti-nuclear and radiological terror efforts has signed an agreement with the primary international nuclear security organization to further develop a global nuclear security framework.

In a post on the DHS Web site on Aug. 10, Huban Gowadia acting director of DHS’ Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) said she met with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Office of Nuclear Security Director Khammar Mrabit on Aug. 7 to sign the DHS-IAEA Practical Arrangements. Gowadia called the arrangements “an important step forward…” in the development of joint security plans.

The Practical Arrangements, said Gowadia, build on the extensive collaborative relationship between DHS and the IAEA, outlining the importance of strengthening nuclear security, and denoting four key areas for cooperation.

Those areas include: Development and implementation of guidelines for the IAEA Nuclear Security Series of publications that provide international guidelines and best practices related to nuclear security; collaboration on standards, testing, characterization, and evaluation for nuclear detection instruments; providing expertise to the Nuclear Security Support Centres and Academic Research Initiatives as they pertain to radiation/nuclear detection; and cooperation in the development and review of nuclear forensics related best practices and guidelines.

DNDO and the IAEA have been working since July 2011 to develop a joint work plan identifying areas of cooperation on nuclear security. DNDO is responsible for coordinating the U.S. government’s interagency efforts to develop the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture (GNDA), a layered defense against nuclear and radiological terrorism.

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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

Kazakhstan Reveals Whether it Will Supply Iran With Uranium
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Kazakhstan will not be supplying Iran with uranium, head of Kazakh national atomic company "Kazatomprom" Vladimir Shkolnick said, IA Novosti-Kazakhstan reported.

Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, Shkolnick also noted that the international uranium export control system monitores every transportation to ensure it is only for peaceful purposes.

"We have created an international system that controls exports of uranium. When we supply a country with uranium we receive a document from them that the uranium will only be used for peaceful purposes. This is being monitored by the system," Shkolnick explained.

The new US sanctions build on Iranian crude sanctions, signed into law by US President Barack Obama, penalize other countries for buying or selling Iran's oil. The sanctions took effect on June 28.

The US sanctions are meant to pile up pressure on Iran over its nuclear energy program, which Washington, Tel Aviv, and some of their allies claim may include a military aspect.

Iran refutes the allegation and holds that, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

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UAE Awards Nuclear Fuel Supply Contracts, Worth $3 Bln
Stanley Carvalho and Maha El Dahan
Reuters and Moscow Times
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The United Arab Emirates awarded $3 billion in contracts to six foreign firms, including global miner Rio Tinto and France's Areva on Wednesday, to supply fuel for the Gulf Arab state's first nuclear power plant.

The Barakah plant is slated to open in 2017 and the contracts, which range from the purchase of uranium to conversion and enrichment services, will cover its fuel supply for the first 15 years of operations, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) said.

"These contracts will provide ENEC with long-term security of supply, high quality fuel and favorable pricing and commercial terms," Mohamed al-Hammadi, ENEC's chief executive, said in a statement.

The other firms are U.S.-based ConverDyn, Canada's Uranium One, government-controlled nuclear group Urenco and Russia's Tenex, the world's largest exporter of low-enriched uranium. The fuel supply programme will begin in 2014-2015.

A spokesman for Areva, the world's biggest maker of nuclear plants, said its share of the contract was worth 400 million euros ($492.86 million).

In July, the UAE's nuclear regulator granted ENEC a licence to construct the country's first two nuclear reactors, to be built by a South Korean-led consortium that will eventually build and operator four 1,400 megawatt reactors in total.

The OPEC member will be the first Gulf Arab state to begin building a nuclear power plant. It wants to save its oil reserves for export rather than using them to generate electricity, for which demand is rising rapidly.

The UAE, and other top oil exporters in the region, have been seeking alternative energy resources to meet soaring electricity demand on the back of a growing population and industrialization that threatens to absorb precious oil and gas reserves.

The contracted fuel will enable the plant, located west of the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, to generate up to 450 million megawatts over the first 15 years, ENEC said.

The company added it "expects to return to the market at various times to take advantage of favorable market conditions and to strengthen its security of supply position."

The enriched uranium will be supplied to KEPCO Nuclear Fuels - ENEC's prime contract consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp - which will make the fuel assemblies for use in the four planned UAE units.

Before granting the contract to the South Korean consortium, the UAE signed an agreement under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act with the United States in early 2009, forfeiting its right to enrich uranium domestically.

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Before granting the contract to the South Korean consortium, the UAE signed an agreement under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act with the United States in early 2009, forfeiting its right to enrich uranium domestically.

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Japan's Toshiba Eyes Nuclear Power Alliance
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Toshiba plans to sell some of its controlling stake in nuclear-power unit Westinghouse Electric as it looks to form an alliance to tap demand in emerging markets, reports said on Tuesday.

The Japanese engineering giant, which holds about 67 percent of Westinghouse, said it would sell as much as 16 percent of the US firm to buyers with a foothold in nations eager to build nuclear plants, after demand in post-Fukushima Japan fell away.

"While keeping our stake at more than 50 percent, we are considering selling the rest to a potential partner," Toshiba spokesman Atsushi Ido told Dow Jones Newswires.

Toshiba's plan was part of a strategy aimed at building an alliance with multiple partners to help tap China and other emerging nations, the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

The demand for new reactors in Japan vanished after last year's March 11 quake-tsunami disaster sparked reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

In the wake of the crisis, Japan switched off its stable of 50 nuclear reactors. It has since restarted two reactors, sparking huge protests amid a wave of anti-nuclear sentiment.

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MP Government to Ink Power Purchase Pact with NPCIL
Business Standard
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Madhya Pradesh government will ink an agreement with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for purchasing 2,100 MW power from its two proposed plants in the state.

The decision was taken by the state cabinet at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan here today, official sources said.

NPCIL plans to set up a 1,400 MW plant at Bhimpur in Mandla district and another of 700 MW capacity at Chutka in Shivpuri district.

The cabinet also gave a nod to Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company to buy 400 MW for supplying uninterrupted electricity to domestic users from October 2012 to March 2014, they said.
In another decision, it approved a relief and rehabilitation package for National Thermal Power Corp's 2X660 MW proposed plant, spread over three villages, in Khargone district. NTPC will supply 50 per cent of the electricity from this plant to Madhya Pradesh, the sources said.

The cabinet approved a Rs 6016.17-crore expenditure plan under 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) for state-run power companies.

In a separate meeting, Chouhan, while reviewing the activities of Urban Administration and Development Department, took stock of the progress of starting Metro Rail in Bhopal and Indore, the sources said.

The metro project will cost around Rs 8,000 crore, of which 70 per cent will be funded through loans and the remaining 30 per cent will be borne by the Centre and the State Government in equal proportion.

The Chief Minister directed the authorities to ensure time-bound implementation of the project, they added.

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F.  Links of Interest

New U.S. Nuclear Regulator Says Spent Fuel A Top Priority
Kasia Klimasinsk
(for personal use only)

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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.

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