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Nuclear News - 8/2/2012
PGS Nuclear News, August 2, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Completes Cleanup of Suspect Nuclear Site, Group Says, Terry Atlas, Bloomberg Businessweek (8/1/2012)
    2. Israel to US: Time Running Out in Iran Nuclear Dispute, Reuters (8/1/2012)
    3. Iran Significantly 'Speeds Up Nuclear Enrichment', AFP (7/31/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. N. Korea Says Will Build Up Nuclear Arsenal Against U.S., Yonhap News Agency (7/31/2012)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Bulgarian Rulers Say Reluctant 'Yes' to Nuclear Plant Referendum, Novinite (8/1/2012)
    2. Japan July Nuclear Usage Rises to 2.9 Pct from Zero, Reuters (8/1/2012)
D.  Nuclear Forces
    1. Australia Rules Out US Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Base,, Martin Parry, AFP (8/1/2012)
    2. Russia to Get Stronger Nuclear Navy, Putin Says, Gleb Bryanski, Reuters (7/30/2012)
E.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Japan's Chubu Electric Faces Moment of Truth for Damaged Nuclear Reactor, Risa Maeda, Reuters (8/2/2012)
    2. Incident at Younggwang Plant the Latest in a long String of Nuclear Troubles, Noh Hyung-woong, The Hankyoreh (8/1/2012)
    3. Vattenfall Applies To Replace Several Swedish Nuclear Reactors, Janina Pfalzer, Bloomberg (7/31/2012)
    4. Interior Ministry Tenders for Chemical, Radiation 'Sniffer' Vehicle, RIA Novosti (7/30/2012)
F.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Australia, UAE Agreement Paves Way for Uranium Sales, Reuters (7/31/2012)
    2. Uzbekistan to Return Spent Nuclear Fuel to Russia, China Daily (7/31/2012)
    3. EDF Ready to Open Up UK Nuclear Projects for Partners, Reuters (7/31/2012)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Sri Lanka Calls for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Xinhua News Agency (8/2/2012)
    2. Japan's Pro-Bomb Voices Rise as Nuke Power Debated, Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press (8/1/2012)

A.  Iran

Iran Completes Cleanup of Suspect Nuclear Site, Group Says
Terry Atlas
Bloomberg Businessweek
(for personal use only)

Satellite images show that Iran has completed cleanup activity at a suspected nuclear weapons- related site, a Washington-based research group said today.

The Parchin military complex attracted international attention early this year when the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, sought to inspect the site because of suspected undeclared nuclear activities.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based non-profit research group, reported in May that satellite images taken in April indicated that Iran had begun substantial earth removal and other activities at the site to eliminate evidence of nuclear weapons work.

“Over the subsequent four months there was considerable activity with the razing of two buildings within the site, notable earth removal and displacement, the likely cleanup of the inside of the suspect building and possibly its exterior surfaces, the removal of the security perimeter, and the removal of all roadways,” according to the report today by David Albright, president of the non-profit research group, and Robert Avagyan.

“The degree of the site’s modification and the fact that this apparent cleanup work started soon after the IAEA’s request for access cast further doubt on Iran’s claims that its nuclear program does not or has never had any military aspects,” they wrote.

The report comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today in Israel that all possible means must be tried before a military strike against Iran and that the U.S. is prepared to use force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

In November, the IAEA reported that it had “credible” evidence that Iran built a container inside of which scientists studied blast patterns useful for triggering a nuclear weapon.

After the IAEA sought permission to send inspectors to the site, Iran in early June denied a visit to the military base 18 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Tehran.

As recently as June 21, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said access to Parchin remained a “matter of priority” for inspectors.

Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful and charged that the allegations are based on fabricated intelligence provided to IAEA inspectors by Western nations.

Albright and Avagyan wrote that the IAEA may not be able to make further progress at the site, and the issue should be sent to the UN Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Iran.

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Israel to US: Time Running Out in Iran Nuclear Dispute
(for personal use only)

Israel warned visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday that time was running out for a peaceful settlement to the nuclear dispute with Iran, saying sanctions and tough talk over possible military action were failing to sway Tehran.

Speculation is rampant over whether Israel will make a military strike against Iran to halt a nuclear programme that the West suspects is aimed at building an atomic bomb but which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

Panetta assured Israel the United States would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb. Setting a tough tone, he suggested military action was possible after all other options were exhausted.

"This is not about containment. This is about making very clear that they are never to be able to get an atomic weapon," Panetta said at one point in the day.

"If they make the decision to proceed with a nuclear weapon ... we have options that we are prepared to implement to ensure that that does not happen," he said separately.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that such declarations were of little comfort, noting that Panetta himself had said a few months ago "that when all else fails, America will act".

"However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them," Netanyahu said, standing next to Panetta.

"Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear programme. This must change, and it must change quickly because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out."

Any conflict could easily draw in the United States, where debate over Israel and Iran figures in campaigning for the presidential election in November. Republican candidate Mitt Romney visited Israel this week.

The Jewish state - which declines to confirm its own suspected nuclear arsenal - says little time remains before Iran achieves a "zone of immunity" in which Israeli bombs would be unable to penetrate deeply buried uranium enrichment facilities.

The United States has more potent weapons that would allow more time for the sanctions push to work.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at a news conference with Panetta, said the chances that sanctions would ultimately force Tehran's hand were extremely low.

"We have clearly something to lose by this stretched time (during) which sanctions and diplomacy takes place because the Iranians are moving forward, not just in enrichment," Barak said, possibly referring to missile development.

Panetta's trip to Israel highlighted the strong security ties between the two countries, with the two defence chiefs visiting a U.S.-backed Israeli anti-rocket battery known as "Iron Dome".

Barak said those relations had never been better despite Israel's misgivings over the Iran strategy pursued by Washington and other world powers.

Romney, on a visit to Israel that ended on Monday, said "any and all measures" must be used to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Even as it strengthens sanctions, Washington is bolstering Israeli defences.

Obama last week announced he was releasing $70 million in approved funding for Iron Dome, a protection against Palestinian rockets that is backed by the powerful U.S. pro-Israel lobby. On Tuesday, he laid out new U.S. sanctions against foreign banks that help Iran sell its oil.

Obama received 78 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2008 election but a nationwide Gallup poll in June showed him down to 64 percent backing versus Romney's 29 percent.

The political jousting on the U.S. campaign trail is mirrored in Israel, where the media have reported misgivings among the military top brass about going it alone against Iran. Speculation is rife that Netanyahu wants to take action ahead of a possible Obama re-election in November.

"The struggle behind the scenes over attacking Iran is reaching a boiling point," the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz wrote in a front-page analysis.

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Iran Significantly 'Speeds Up Nuclear Enrichment'
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Iran has significantly stepped up the pace at which it is enriching uranium, shortening the time it would take for it to reach a nuclear threshold, two Israeli newspapers reported on Monday.

"Iran has broken new records in terms of the pace at which it has been enriching uranium, and it has continued to race ahead so as to create as short a 'storming distance' as possible between it and the bomb," the Maariv daily said.

Sourcing the story to unspecified "intelligence reports," the paper said Iran had been able to up the pace of enrichment due to the fact that it was now operating "close to 10,000 centrifuges" including "a new type of centrifuge that is far more sophisticated."

Israel says a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state and officials believe Tehran may be on the cusp of "break out" capacity -- the moment when it could quickly produce weapons-grade uranium.

A similar report on the Ynet news website, the online version of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, had identical figures but did not cite a source.

"The data indicate that Iran has significantly increased the pace of its uranium enrichment over the past four months," it said, without giving details.

"Currently the Islamic republic produces 230 kg (507 pounds) of LEU (low-enriched uranium) each month and 12 kg (about 26 pounds) of uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20 percent," it said.

It said Tehran currently held stocks of some 160 kg (352 pounds) of 20 percent enriched uranium, which was about 100 kg, or 220 pounds, less than the amount required to produce a bomb.

"Should the Iranians continue to enrich uranium at the current pace, they will have some 260 kg (about 570 pounds) of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent in January or February of 2013," the website said.

"With this amount, it would take Iran only about two months to produce weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear warhead or bomb -- a 'nuclear threshold' situation."

In May, the IAEA nuclear watchdog published figures showing Iran had already produced 146 kilos of 20 percent-enriched uranium since February, of which just under a third had been converted into fuel plates for the Tehran research reactor, rendering it unsuitable for further enrichment.

Israel, which is widely believed to have the Middle East's only, albeit undeclared, nuclear arsenal, has warned that a military option cannot be ruled out to prevent Iran from developing an atomic weapons capability. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

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B.  North Korea

N. Korea Says Will Build Up Nuclear Arsenal Against U.S.
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

North Korea vowed on Tuesday to further build up its nuclear capabilities, accusing the United States of attempting to topple its communist regime.

In a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, a spokesperson of the North Korean foreign ministry said the country will counter any U.S. hostility with the utmost resoluteness.

"While talking about the livelihood of people in other countries, the U.S. is blocking our economic development and improvement of our people's livelihood with its most vicious and persistent anti-republic sanctions," the statement said.

"And for such a country to say we will be better off once we give up our nuclear weapons only reminds us of a coyote who tells a ram that it will not be eaten if it gives up its horns."

The statement said the North did not need the U.S.'s support to develop its economy now that it has nuclear capabilities and the means to further build up its stockpile.

"With a rifle in one hand and a banner of industrial revolution in the other, we will surely build a powerful socialist nation while facing the U.S.'s anti-DPRK policies with the utmost resoluteness," it said. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The statement comes shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama last week said North Korea, along with Iran, "cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons."

"It is our firm decision to counter U.S. hostility with stronger nuclear deterrence," the statement said.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

Bulgarian Rulers Say Reluctant 'Yes' to Nuclear Plant Referendum
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Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, his Cabinet, and the ruling party GERB support the holding of a referendum on the construction of the currently abandoned Belene nuclear power plant.

This has emerged after Wednesday's sitting of the Bulgarian Cabinet, after on Friday Sergey Stanishev, the leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, tabled to the Bulgarian Parliament a referendum petition supported by 770 000 signatures.

Under Bulgarian legislation, the Parliament and Cabinet are obliged to schedule a referendum under any petition that is supported by at least 500 000 signatures, which technically makes irrelevant the support that Borisov and the GERB party declared on Wednesday for the referendum.

"Stanishev says that he will have to protect the referendum from GERB. To the contrary, I am asking any of you to tell the people that we and the government are in favor of a referendum," Borisov told the government ministers on Wednesday.

"However, a referendum will cost BGN 30-40 M, it's like holding elections. We will be holding general elections in June next year anyway, so I don't know where I can get this kind of money from. We might have to revise the budget. So we are in favor, but I will insist that this referendum in favor or against the Belene NPP should include conditions. If you vote in favor, this will mean that every Bulgarian will have to pay the price of a Mercedes to the NPP, the cost of electricity will go up, it won't be cheap because somebody will have to pay for those credits. Stanishev knows that very well. He is just acting really surreptitiously towards the Bulgarians at the moment," Borisov explained.

He thus reiterated the arguments that his Cabinet used in order to abandon the Belene NPP project in March 2012 – claiming that the project is economically unfeasible for Bulgaria because of its huge cost.

Last Friday, Sergey Stanishev said the Bulgarian Socialist Party hopes that the referendum on the fate of the abandoned Bulgarian-Russian Belene Nuclear Power Plant project will be held by the end of 2012.

BSP leader Sergey Stanishev pointed out that the referendum would be the first one in the country since the fall of the Communist regime back in 1989.

After years of indecision, Bulgaria's government officially gave up on Belene at the end of March. The project was supposed to be built by Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russia's state-owned Rosatom.

The construction of the 2000 MW Belene Nuclear Power Plant would have cost EUR 10.35 B in the best case scenario, according to the estimates of Bulgarian government's consultant for the project, the HSBC bank.

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Japan July Nuclear Usage Rises to 2.9 Pct from Zero
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Japan's total nuclear power plant utilisation rate at its 10 nuclear power generators rose to an average 2.9 percent in July f r om zero in June, a Reuters calculation based on trade ministry data showed on Wednesday, reflecting the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear plant.

The run rate still marks a sharp fall from 33.9 percent in July 2011.

Last month, western Japan's Kansai Electric resumed operations at two reactors to avert potential blackouts over the summer. They were the first restarts since last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster, which by early this May had left all of the country's 50 units offline for safety checks.

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D.  Nuclear Forces

Australia Rules Out US Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Base,
Martin Parry
(for personal use only)

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith has rejected a proposal to base a US nuclear aircraft carrier and other warships in the country, a move that would rankle key trade partner China.

The idea of using the Australian navy's western base, HMAS Stirling near Perth, to host an American carrier group and other fighter jets was reportedly raised in a study of US military posture in the Asia-Pacific.

Media in Australia said the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report, commissioned by the US Defence Department, had been submitted to Congress.

Smith said after a speech late Wednesday that while increased US access to HMAS Stirling was possible long-term, American aircraft carriers would not be based in Australia.

"The report is an independent report to the United States government. It's not a United States government document," he said.

"We don't have United States military bases in Australia and we are not proposing to. What we have talked about in terms of either increased aerial access or naval access is precisely that -- greater access to our facilities.

"The strategic rationale for that is the growing importance of India and the growing importance of the Indian Ocean rim, particularly in a naval and maritime sense."

In June, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta announced in Singapore that the United States would shift the bulk of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020 as part of a new strategic focus on Asia.

It followed a visit to Australia last year by US President Barack Obama, who announced an enhanced defence cooperation with Canberra which will see up to 2,500 US Marines deployed in the country.

The first troops touched down in April on a six-month rotational basis, based on the outskirts of the northern city of Darwin.

It is part of Washington's plan to bolster its military presence in the strategically vital Asia-Pacific, amid concerns about China's increasing assertiveness.

The CSIS report considers various options for increasing, decreasing or leaving US military presence in the region at its current level, Australian media said.

Another proposal in the report canvasses expanding the Marines' presence to a full air ground taskforce that would see thousands more troops in Australia's north, according to the Australian Financial Review.
But Smith played this down.

"There is no suggestion being made to us that Australia should receive such a large number of Marines transferred from Okinawa or from Guam," he said.

The United States announced in April it would pull 9,000 Marines out of Japan as it seeks to ease a long-running standoff over the future of its huge military presence in one of its top Asian allies.

In his speech on Australia's changing strategic circumstances, Smith highlighted the shift towards the Asia-Pacific as a region of global significance, particularly the Indian Ocean rim.

"The US, China and India will be the great strategic powers of our region and the international community," he said.
"The emergence of three great strategic powers in the region will see an adjustment in the balance of power across the region and around the globe.

"A continued, indeed enhanced, United States' presence in the Asia-Pacific is essential to peace and stability in our region," he added.

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Russia to Get Stronger Nuclear Navy, Putin Says
Gleb Bryanski
(for personal use only)

President Vladimir Putin oversaw the start of construction of one of Russia's newest generation submarines on Monday and vowed to boost nuclear naval forces to safeguard the country's position as a leading sea power.

Warning that its navy would protect top energy producer Russia's interests in the oil-rich Arctic, Putin led the ceremony to begin building the submarine Prince Vladimir, named after the ruler who founded a precursor state to modern Russia.

The vessel is the fourth Borei class submarine, designed to carry one of the country's newest and most powerful intercontinental nuclear missiles, the Bulava, or Mace.

"We believe that our country should maintain its status of one of the leading naval powers," Putin told a meeting of naval commanders and government officials at the sprawling Sevmash shipbuilding yard in northern Russia.

Invoking Cold War rhetoric, Putin took a stab at the United States nuclear submarine forces, which Moscow carefully watched across the Atlantic Ocean for decades.

"First of all we are talking about the development of the naval part of our strategic nuclear forces, about the navy's role in maintaining the strategic nuclear parity," he said.

Putin is working to make the submarines and the missiles they will carry a cornerstone of the Russian navy, which will receive nearly a quarter of the 20 trillion roubles ($621.31 billion) to be spent by the end of the decade.

After nearly two decades characterized by a lack of funding, Russia is pushing to modernize its fighting forces, and redesign its armaments.

Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the defense industry, Dmitry Rogozin, also said on Monday that Moscow was likely to ask state-controlled banks to finance 200-to-300 billion roubles annually in credits as part of the overall plan.

Rogozin said the move would leave more cash in state coffers as a safety buffer.

"We see what is happening in the world now, we see in what turbulences south European countries are, we see the problems in the euro zone," he said.

"That should not mean cutting spending assumed in the government armaments program," he also said, adding Sberbank, Gazprombank, VTB and VEB were among potential creditors.

On Monday Putin also said that Russia will have eight Borei submarines by 2020, by which time the navy will have received 51 new ships.

In a reference to Russia's ambitions in the Arctic, where Moscow plans to expand its claims, Putin said the navy would protect Moscow's interests in the icy North.

"Obviously, the navy is an instrument to protect national economic interests, including in such regions as Arctic where some of the world's richest biological resources, mineral resources are concentrated," he said.

Moscow has planned to submit a claim this year to redraw the map of the Arctic and give itself a bigger swath of the territory, which could hold huge deposits of oil, gas and mineral wealth.

Russia, Norway, the United States, Canada and Denmark are at odds over how to divide up the Arctic seabed, thought to hold 90 billion barrels of oil and 30 percent of the world's untapped gas resources, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Russia has said it will spend millions of dollars on studies to prove that an underwater mountain range - rich in oil, natural gas and mineral deposits - is part of its own Eurasian landmass.

Canada and Denmark reject the claim, saying the geographical formation, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, which stretches across the Arctic Sea, is a geographical extension of their own land.

The Borei submarine project, started shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, had long been plagued by shortages of cash and furthermore by failures in testing the Bulava missile.

The first two Borei class submarine built, the Yury Dolgoruky and Alexander Nevsky are expected to enter service this summer, Russia's Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was quoted as saying earlier this year.

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E.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Japan's Chubu Electric Faces Moment of Truth for Damaged Nuclear Reactor
Risa Maeda
(for personal use only)

Chubu Electric Power Co could face the prospect of decommissioning Japan's biggest nuclear reactor after assessing damage this month from the world's first known case of seawater infiltration of a reactor core.

More than a year after the firm's Hamaoka nuclear plant was shut for safety reasons following the Fukushima disaster, water contaminated with low-level radiation is seeping internally in the No.5 unit's turbine building, suggesting serious damage to the core, experts said.

"We have not decided if the unit is to be decommissioned or whether the unit will be operable after repairs. We're making assessments in order to make a decision," Chubu Electric spokesman Akio Miyazaki said on Thursday.

A decommissioning or prolonged shutdown for repairs means Chubu Electric, which has reported four consecutive quarters of losses since Hamaoka was idled, will have to keep tapping oil and gas markets to run fossil-fuel stations, adding to the woes of Japan's third-biggest utility.

Reuters calculations show the company may have to import an extra 5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas for each year the 3,617-megawatt Hamaoka plant is closed, assuming the generation shortfall is solely met by gas-fired plants.

Seawater entered the No.5 unit when Chubu Electric was shutting Hamaoka in May last year on orders from then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan because of concerns a large earthquake might strike nearby, producing a tsunami that would overwhelm the plant, as in the Fukushima disaster two months earlier.

As the shutdown of the seven-year-old unit with a capacity of 1,380 MW started, saltwater used for cooling steam from the boiling water reactor entered t h e core after a burst pipe damaged one of its heat exchangers.

About 400,000 litres (88,000 gallons) of corrosion-causing sea water entered the turbine building, with 5,000 litres getting into the reactor itself.

The extremely rare event set off an investigation that has unearthed widespread corrosion in the labyrinth of piping, pumps and steel partitions in the reactor building and secondary units.

As recently as Monday, the utility said it found water contaminated with low levels of radiation in the turbine building adjacent to Hamaoka's No.5 reactor.

"More detailed data from the operator is needed to make a judgement. But we should assume the reactor's strength has been impaired," said Atsushi Kasai, a former technical advisor on nuclear power to Shizuoka prefecture, where Hamaoka is located about 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Chubu Electric says no radiation has leaked to the environment but the discovery of radioactive cobalt below a 13-meter-high cooling tank beside the reactor confirms unusually fast corrosion through the walls of the stainless-steel tank.

As reactors abroad mostly use river water to cool the steam turbines used for power generation, no similar incident has been reported and little data is available for comparisons, Japan's atomic regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, says.

Should Chubu Electric find serious damage inside the reactor pressure vessel after the fuel rods are removed, the damage may be irreparable, despite efforts to wash out the saltwater.

At a minimum, corrosion deposits may have formed a hard scale on the fuel rods, making them unusable, said Toyoshi Fuketa, deputy director general of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, who is on a regulatory panel examining Chubu Electric's findings.

"They have to think hard about what they are going to do," Fuketa told Reuters.

The panel's experts have focused on whether below-par welding could have accelerated metal fatigue in the pipe that burst or if the structure of the heat exchanger was to blame.

Chubu Electric said on Monday completion of the plant's tsunami defences, including a 1.6 km seawall on a raised embankment 18 meters above sea level at a cost of 1 4 0 billion yen ($1.79 billion), w i l l take one year longer than planned and won't be finished until next December.

For the April-June quarter, Chubu said it had a net loss of 12.54 billion yen because of extra fuel and maintenance costs to run fossil fuel plants.

The company has not estimated the cost of repairs to the No.5 unit. There were no problems with the station's No.3 and No.4 units during the shutdown last year. In 2008 the company decided to decommission the No.1 and No.2 units about 10 years earlier than planned because of higher costs to meet tougher earthquake standards introduced in 2006.

The company will next meet the regulator's panel on Aug 10 and aims to end its investigation by the end of this year.

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Incident at Younggwang Plant the Latest in a long String of Nuclear Troubles
Noh Hyung-woong
The Hankyoreh
(for personal use only)

Reactor 6 at Younggwang Nuclear Power Plant in South Jeolla province was shut down again on July 30 due to a malfunctioning reactor rod.

The reactor rod functions as a safety shield for reactors. The basic structure of a reactor can be simplified as follows: heat is produced when neutrons come into contact with uranium, and that heat turns the turbines to generate electricity.

The main challenge of reactor safety is keeping that fission stable. The Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear accident in history, occurred because the reactor rods were removed quickly, which stimulated fission.

The repeated problems with Younggwang reactor 6 have residents in the area nervous. Reactor 6 first broke down during a 2002 trial run. Since then, it has gone out of action 9 times in past 10 years.

Among those cases, some were trivial, due to lightning strikes and a mistake on operation. But in Dec. 2008, the reactor was stopped because warning signals appeared, indicating the reactor rod was in the wrong position.

Yang-yi Won-young director of Common Action for Nuke Free Society said, “The reactor rod is the last line of defense against a serious accident. It was fortunate that the reactor was shut down in time. If it hadn‘t been, it would have created a terrible disaster.”

Some brought up the problem of Korean-style pressurized light water reactors, citing their frequent breakdowns. “The reactors that recently broke down, including reactor 6 at the Younggwang plant, are localized as Korean style,” said Professor Suh Kune-yull at the Nuclear Engineering Dept. of Seoul National University. “It seems that their electronic circuits and other components fail frequently.”

A source from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) said, “If we have a trouble with a reactor rod, we can go straight into fuel cell and stop nuclear fission. For this time, the operation was stopped as planned.” He added, “Furthermore, there are a lot of reactor rods in operation. There’s no doubt about safety.”

KHNP emphasized that this breakdown conformed to standard 0 of accident conditions according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They added this accident didn‘t have an effect on the plant’s safety.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) seems puzzled since more and more people raised the questions of the safety of nuclear power plants. In particular, the Younggwang accident happened while MKE has been moving to restart Kori Nuclear reactor No.1.

A source from MKE said, “The residents of Busan are protesting strongly to stop the Kori reactor, but we still need to operate it to satisfy demand for electricity. It is embarrassing that the accident happened at this time.”

He added, “First, we will inspect in order to determine the cause of the accident, and then will restart the reactor. Also, we will continue to persuade the residents of Busan about the safety of operating Kori reactor No.1.”

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Vattenfall Applies To Replace Several Swedish Nuclear Reactors
Janina Pfalzer
(for personal use only)

Vattenfall AB, the Nordic region’s biggest utility, applied to Swedish safety regulators to build one or two nuclear reactors to replace its older plants.

“There has been no investment decision,” Chief Financial Officer Ingrid Bonde said today. “It’s a very long process.”

Sweden in 2010 agreed to keep a total of 10 reactors in the country while allowing older plants to be replaced. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority said it may take 10-15 years from the receipt of a request for a new reactor to start up. Replacements may be needed after 2025, according to Vattenfall’s application.

The authority will draw up regulations for the new reactors by the end of 2014 at the earliest, according to the agency.

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Interior Ministry Tenders for Chemical, Radiation 'Sniffer' Vehicle
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Russia's Interior Ministry has launched a tender for a radiological and chemical detector vehicle in a contract worth up to 33 million rubles ($1.06 million), according to a statement on the state procurement website.

The vehicle must have on-board and portable systems for biological, chemical and radiological detection and control systems which must include test equipment, an automated weather station, communications systems, and systems for marking of contaminated areas.

The vehicle must also have life-support systems for three crew, including filtration systems, storage for contaminated clothing, an automated diesel powerplant, automated firefighting system, air conditioning system and smoke grenade dispensers. The vehicle must also have storage space for the crew's personal weapons, body armor and other equipment.

A technical proposal for the vehicle must be ready by November 30, 2012, with a prototype to be manufactured and initial testing to be completed by November 2013. State testing is to be complete, with the vehicle ready for series production, by November 2014.

The invitation to tender is open until August 30, after which a decision on the tender competition will be taken on September 13.

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F.  Nuclear Cooperation

Australia, UAE Agreement Paves Way for Uranium Sales
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Australia and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement paving the way for sales of Australian uranium to the UAE's fledgling nuclear power programme, officials said on Tuesday.

"It is a commitment by the Australian government setting up conditions under which nuclear material will be supplied to the UAE," Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr told a news conference.

"It sets up a framework under which we will become a reliable supplier of uranium to the UAE."

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said: "This is not a commercial agreement. It is just outlining the nature of the relationship between the two countries in this sector. It is up to future work between importers and exporters to reach the suitable prices and quantities."

Two weeks ago the UAE's nuclear regulator granted a licence to Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) for construction of the country's first two nuclear reactors, which will be built by a South Korean-led consortium, a project worth billions of dollars.

ENEC said last year that it was in talks with a number of countries including Australia and Russia to buy fuel for the reactors. The consortium plans to build and operate four 1,400 megawatt reactors, with the first starting operations in 2017.

The UAE 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.

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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EDF Ready to Open Up UK Nuclear Projects for Partners
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French state-controlled utility EDF is considering looking for more partners for its nuclear projects in Britain to help it share costs and limit its debt burden, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.

EDF, along with junior partner Centrica, plans to build four new 1,600-megawatt (MW) European Pressurised water Reactors as Britain looks to reform its power market to reward producers of low-carbon energy, including nuclear power.

"EDF's goal has always been and remains to be in control of the operations, to control the projects ... but this does not mean that we absolutely need to control 80 percent of the projects," CFO Thomas Piquemal said in a conference call. "This is why we are looking into opening up a little bit more our capital in these projects by finding new partners."

Earlier on Thursday, EDF posted a 4.6 percent rise in its first-half core earnings as higher hydroelectronic output after heavy rains and other renewable energies offset the effect of longer-than-expected nuclear outages.

EDF shares were up 1.5 percent at 16.84 euros at 0717 GMT, outperforming the European sector, which was 0.1 percent lower.

Core earnings, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), reached 9.1 billion euros ($11.14 billion)in the first half, beating EDF's own expectations, on sales up 8.2 percent at 36.22 billion. Recurring net income rose 10.3 percent to 2.9 billion euros.

Net debt stood at 2.5 times its EBITDA at the end of the first half, in line with EDF's goal for 2010-2015 to have it at that level at the most. EDF has said it would invest 12.5 billion euros this year, mainly on nuclear, and maximum 15 billion euros in 2015.

Earnings at EDF, which makes about 57 percent of its sales in France, come as demand for energy, particularly among industrial groups, is weighed down by Europe's debt crisis.

While EDF confirmed its financial targets for the years 2010-2015, Piquemal cut the group's nuclear output target in France to 415 TWh this year from a previous goal of 420-425 TWh due to longer-than-expected maintenance works at nuclear plants.

EDF is diversifying its nuclear-dominated portfolio by growing its businesses in coal, hydropower and renewables and it hopes to use Italy's second largest electricity and gas group Edison to develop its gas business.

A big debate will kick off in September with plans expected to include a focus on developing renewable energy forms to compensate for a gradual reduction in reliance on nuclear energy. France could also decide open up a debate to reconsider a ban on drilling for unconventional shale gas.

The U.S. shale gas boom has significantly pushed down U.S. natural gas prices, changing the energy landscape. General Electric's CEO Jeff Immelt reckons it has become "hard to justify" costly investments in nuclear energy. GE is among the leading power generation engineering groups and helps to design and build nuclear reactors.

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Uzbekistan to Return Spent Nuclear Fuel to Russia
China Daily
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Uzbek President Islam Karimov has approved an intergovernmental cooperation agreement under which spent nuclear fuel in Uzbekistan will be returned to Russia, local media reported Monday.

According to the agreement, spent fuel from research reactors at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Uzbek Academy of Science will be taken to Russia.

Uzbekistan and Russia signed an agreement on return of spent fuel to Russia in May in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. Head of the Russian State Atomic Agency Sergei Kirienko said in June that, Russia would retrieve used nuclear materials from Uzbekistan by the end of this year.

Russia started taking back fissionable materials from nuclear power plants abroad in accordance with the Return of Research Reactor Spent Fuel to the Country of Origin, which was initiated by the United States and Russia in 1999.

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G.  Links of Interest

Sri Lanka Calls for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
Xinhua News Agency
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Japan's Pro-Bomb Voices Rise as Nuke Power Debated
Yuri Kageyama
Associated Press
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