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Nuclear News - 9/24/2012
PGS Nuclear News, September 24, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Iran
    1. Iran Accuses Siemens of Nuclear Sabotage, Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press (9/23/2012)
    2. Iran Accuses IAEA of Passing Nuclear Secrets to Israel, Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters (9/23/2012)
    3. Top Iran Commander Warns for First Time of Potential Israel War, Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg (9/23/2012)
    4. West Defeats Iran Initiative at Major U.N. Nuclear Meeting, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (9/22/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. IAEA Members Urge N. Korea to Stop Nuclear Activity, The Korea Herald (9/22/2012)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Turkey to Build 3 Nuclear Power Plants by 2023, Xinhua News Agency (9/22/2012)
    2. EDF Energy Begins Planning for Nuclear Power Plant in UK, Power Engineering (9/21/2012)
    3. Emirates, Saudis Drive for Nuclear Power, UPI (9/21/2012)
    4. Romania Gets No Bids for Nuclear Reactors, Ziarul Financiar Says, Andra Timu, Bloomberg Businessweek (9/21/2012)
    5. EDF Nuclear Execs Protest Fessenheim Closure Plan, Reuters (9/20/2012)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. IAEA Action Plan on Safety Will Be Implemented: R. K. Sinha, The Hindu (9/22/2012)
    2. NRC Finds Substantial Safety Issue at Wolf Creek Nuke Plant, Reuters (9/22/2012)
    3. Moldova Says it Detains Uranium Dealers from Rebel Region, Reuters (9/21/2012)
    4. Pentagon Should Take Over U.S. Nuclear Plant Security -Lawmaker, Roberta Rampton, Reuters (9/21/2012)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Bulgaria Picks US Firm for Arbitration Battle with Russia over Belene, Novinite (9/23/2012)
    2. U.S.-Russia Commission Discusses New START Implementation, RIA Novosti (9/21/2012)

A.  Iran

Iran Accuses IAEA of Passing Nuclear Secrets to Israel
Yeganeh Torbati
(for personal use only)

A senior Iranian lawmaker accused the UN nuclear watchdog on Sunday of passing confidential details of Iran's atomic work to Israel, and a military commander said Tehran may consider a pre-emptive strike on the Jewish state if it looked set to attack.

Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of parliament's presiding board, said International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano had made "repeated trips" to Israel, divulging sensitive information about what Tehran says is its peaceful nuclear programme.

"Amano's repeated trips to Tel Aviv and asking the Israeli officials' views about Iran's nuclear activities indicates that Iran's nuclear information has been disclosed to the Zionist regime and other enemies of the Islamic Republic," Jahangirzadeh was quoted as saying by Iran's English-language Press TV.

The IAEA declined to comment. Records show Amano has made only one visit to Israel in his capacity as IAEA chief, in August 2010. He visited Tehran in May this year.

"If the agency's actions lead to Iran cutting cooperation with this international body, all responsibility will be with the IAEA director general," said Jahangirzadeh, also a member of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.

After weeks of increased hints by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel could strike Iran's nuclear sites, prompting speculation that might happen before U.S. elections in November, an Iranian military commander said Iran could strike first if sure Israel were poised to attack.

"Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack if it was sure that the enemies are putting the final touches to attack it," Iran's state-run Arabic language Al-Alam television quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as saying.

While Hajizadeh's comments might be seen as part of the usual hawkish rhetoric from the Iranian military, the politician's accusation against the IAEA's Amano suggest Tehran's relations with the agency are severely strained.

Last week, Iranian nuclear energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said "terrorists" might have infiltrated the Vienna-based agency.

He suggested the IAEA included too much sensitive information about Iran's nuclear programme in its reports that he said could be used by saboteurs.

Western diplomats dismissed his allegations as an attempt to distract attention away from the agency's bid to gain access to a site in Iran it suspects was used for nuclear weapons research, something Tehran denies.

Iran blames Israel and its Western allies for the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran, including an unsuccessful attempt on Abbasi-Davani in November 2010. It also blames those countries for computer viruses that appeared designed to damage its nuclear machinery.

The 35-nation board of the agency censured Iran earlier this month for defying international demands to curb uranium enrichment and failing to address mounting disquiet about its suspected research into atomic bombs.

The resolution prompted Iran's Parliament Speaker, Ali Larijani, to cast doubt on the benefit of Iran's membership in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Tehran Times reported.

In another allegation of underhand behaviour against Iran, the head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee said German engineering company Siemens had planted explosives in equipment it sold to Iran for use in its nuclear programme.

Siemens, which was building a nuclear power station in Iran before the Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah in 1979, denied Alaeddin Boroujerdi's accusation.

"Siemens does not have any business ties with Iran's nuclear programme and does not supply any technical equipment for it," a spokesman for the Munich-based multinational said.

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Iran Accuses Siemens of Nuclear Sabotage
Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Iran accused Germany's Siemens on Saturday of implanting tiny explosives inside equipment the Islamic Republic purchased for its disputed nuclear program, a charge the technology giant denied.

Prominent lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iranian security experts discovered the explosives and removed them before detonation, adding that authorities believe the booby-trapped equipment was sold to derail uranium enrichment efforts.

"The equipment was supposed to explode after being put to work, in order to dismantle all our systems," he said. "But the wisdom of our experts thwarted the enemy conspiracy."

Siemens denied the charge and said its nuclear division has had no business with Iran since the 1979 revolution that led to its current clerical state.

"Siemens rejects the allegations and stresses that we have no business ties to the Iranian nuclear program," spokesman for the Munich-based company Alexander Machowetz said.

Boroujerdi, who heads the parliamentary security committee, alleged that the explosives were implanted at a Siemens factory and demanded the company take responsibility.

Any sale of nuclear equipment to Iran is banned under U.N. sanctions, raising the possibility that if it indeed has some, it may have been acquired through third parties. Boroujerdi did not say when or how Iran obtained Siemens equipment. Despite a wide array of international sanctions, Germany remains one of Iran's most important trading partners.

The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran's nuclear work is aimed at producing weapons. Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and asserts it has been the target of a concerted campaign by Israel, the U.S. and their allies to undermine its nuclear efforts through covert operations.

Some Iranian officials have also suggested in the past that specific European companies may have sold faulty equipment to Iran with the knowledge of American intelligence agencies and their own governments, since the sales would have harmed, rather than helped, the country's nuclear program.

According to Iran, the alleged campaign has included the abduction of scientists, the sale of faulty equipment and the planting of a destructive computer worm known as Stuxnet, which briefly brought Iran's uranium enrichment activity to a halt in 2010.

Iran's nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, said Monday that separate attacks on Iran's centrifuges — through tiny explosives meant to disable key parts of the machines — were discovered before the blasts could go off on timers.

Abbasi also told the U.N. nuclear agency in Vienna that "terrorists and saboteurs" might have infiltrated the International Atomic Energy Agency, after the watchdog's inspectors arrived at the Fordo underground enrichment facility shortly after power lines were blown up through sabotage on Aug. 17.

Iran has repeatedly accused the IAEA of sending spies in the guise of inspectors to collect information about its nuclear activities, pointing to alleged leaks of information by inspectors to U.S. and other officials.

Five nuclear scientists and researchers have been killed in Iran since 2010. Tehran blames the deaths on Israel's Mossad spy agency as well as the CIA and Britain's MI-6. Washington and London have denied any roles. Israel has not commented.

Boroujerdi said the alleged leaks of nuclear information to its adversaries by the IAEA may finally push Tehran to end all cooperation with the agency.

"Iran has the right to cut its cooperation with the IAEA should such violations continue," he said.

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Top Iran Commander Warns for First Time of Potential Israel War
Ladane Nasseri
(for personal use only)

The commander in chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. for the first time said Israel may attempt to attack the Persian Gulf country, a move he said would result in the Jewish country’s destruction.

“The Zionist regime seeks to go to war with us and it’s unclear when such a war would be,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said yesterday in Tehran, according to the state-run Mehr news agency. “They don’t realize that if they undertake this act they will be destroyed.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have indicated that, as Iran proceeds with its nuclear work and negotiations stall, Israel is considering a strike against the country’s atomic facilities. While Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, Israel and the U.S. say the Islamic Republic is trying to build an atomic weapon.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Feb. 10 said threats of a military strike against the country are “empty.” Iran doesn’t recognize the existence of Israel and Khamenei in a Feb. 3 sermon called the Jewish state a “cancerous tumor.”

“We can’t deny that a war will happen in the future but one must know that it won’t be a repeat of the eight-year war with Iraq” in the 1980’s, Jafari said. “Iran’s armed forces and the Guards now have efficient equipment at their disposal and no country will be able to resist us.”

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West Defeats Iran Initiative at Major U.N. Nuclear Meeting
Fredrik Dahl
(for personal use only)

Western states defeated an Iranian proposal at the U.N. nuclear agency's annual assembly on Saturday to amend their draft resolution on a policy area central to its work in preventing the spread of atom bombs.

The draft text was adopted in a vote shortly after midnight after days of closed-door negotiations failed to achieve the traditional consensus, with divisions between a small number of countries led by Iran and a much larger Western-dominated group.

Diplomats said Iran and Egypt had wanted to include language in the resolution suggesting the U.N. agency should have a role also in nuclear disarmament, apparently reflecting frustration on their part at the lack of faster progress on this issue.

This was opposed by a large majority including the United States, Britain, France and Russia - four officially recognised nuclear weapon states - which believe the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not the right forum for this, they said.

The West accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability in secret. The Islamic Republic denies the charge.

Tehran often hits out at the United States over its atomic arsenal, and also criticises Iran's arch foe, Israel, and that country's assumed nuclear weapons.

The annual General Conference of the 155 IAEA member states traditionally adopts several resolutions, setting out general and often vaguely worded policy aspirations and guidelines, during a week-long meeting in Vienna.

As in 2011, the most contentious issue was a text regarding the IAEA's activities in seeking to make sure nuclear material is not diverted for non-peaceful purposes, a crucial task for the U.N. agency under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Last year, the gathering failed to agree the resolution on "strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards system" submitted by some 30 Western states.

Safeguards refer to measures undertaken by U.N. inspectors to discover any attempt by non-nuclear weapons states to use atomic technology or material for developing weapons - for example regular visits and camera surveillance of sites.

This year, Iran said a paragraph saying IAEA "safeguards are a fundamental component of nuclear non-proliferation" should be amended to add "and nuclear disarmament." This was rejected by 55 votes against and nine for. The resolution then passed by 89 for, no vote against and 16 abstentions, including Iran.

Several countries, including South Africa and Brazil, stressed their support for nuclear disarmament even though they voted against the Iranian proposal.

Under the NPT, a 1970 pact, the five recognised atomic bomb "haves" agreed to work toward eliminating their nuclear weapons, and the "have-nots" pledged not to pursue them.

Critics say there has been more emphasis on meeting the non-proliferation goal than getting the five major powers - the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain - to fulfil their part of the deal.

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B.  North Korea

IAEA Members Urge N. Korea to Stop Nuclear Activity
The Korea Herald
(for personal use only)

The U.N. nuclear watchdog adopted a resolution Friday denouncing North Korea for its continued nuclear activity.

In the resolution approved at the annual general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, its member states urged North Korea "not to conduct any further nuclear test."

The secretive communist nation has conducted two underground nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009.

The resolution also "calls upon (North Korea) to come into full compliance" with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003.

It also demands North Korea fulfill its commitments made under the Sept. 19, 2005, deal with its five dialogue partners in the six-party talks. In the 2005 joint statement, Pyongyang agreed to abandon its nuclear program in return for political and economic incentives.

Following a Feb. 29 agreement with the United States, Pyongyang invited an IAEA delegation to visit there to "discuss technical issues with regard to the monitoring of moratorium on uranium enrichment activities" in its main nuclear site in Yongbyon.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

Turkey to Build 3 Nuclear Power Plants by 2023
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Turkey will advance its nuclear program by building three nuclear power plants by the year of 2023 despite the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, a Turkish expert said Friday at the International Nuclear Technology Transfer Congress.

Addressing more than 100 Turkish and foreign academicians, politicians and scientists, Suleyman Sensoy, the president of Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies, said that Turkey plans to build three nuclear power plants for the nation's development program by 2023.

"By 2023, Turkey aims to become one of the top 10 economies in the world," Sensoy said.

At present, 80 percent of Turkey's energy depends on foreign countries, which greatly affects Turkey's independent economy growth. Thus, Turkey aims to develop its own nuclear plants with technology cooperation with other countries, he said.

"Nuclear energy is going to meet 10 percent of Turkey's energy demand by the year of 2023," Sensoy said.

Turkey presently has no nuclear power plants. However, in August 2006, the Turkish Government announced its plan to have three nuclear power plants with total capacity of 4,500 MWe ( megawatts electrical), operating by 2012-2015.

The program was delayed due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 and the government is more prudent on the nuclear power program.

Necmi Dayday, a Turkish nuclear physicist and a retired International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspector, said at the congress that Turkey would miss its chance if it neglects developing nuclear power.

"The lack of human resource and infrastructure support are the biggest obstacles of Turkey's nuclear strategy." he said.

Necati Yamac, head of Nuclear Project Implementation Department of Turkey's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, told Xinhua that China would be a great strategic partner for Turkey in nuclear plant construction and technology transfer.

During Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's official visit to China in April, Turkey and China signed a series of cooperation agreements on peaceful utilization of nuclear power and nuclear energy cooperation.

On Thursday, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz said Turkey was in negotiation with countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and Canada to construct a nuclear power plant in Turkey's Black Sea province of Sinop.

Yildiz said proposals of these countries were being completed but one of them would drop out of the competition by the end of September, adding that Turkey's economic growth and its energy consumption required nuclear power plants to be built.

Turkey had already sealed an agreement with Russia for the construction of the country's first nuclear plant in the Akkuyu region of the Mediterranean port city of Mersin.

A Russian state nuclear company is expected to begin constructing Akkuyu plant in 2013 with the construction of four nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 4,800 megawatts. The plant is estimated to cost at least 20 billion U.S. dollars.

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EDF Energy Begins Planning for Nuclear Power Plant in UK
Power Engineering
(for personal use only)

EDF Energy on Sept. 21 said it has started making plans to build a new nuclear plant at the existing, single-unit, 1,191 MW Sizewell station in the UK.

Following initial meetings, EDF Energy said it sent a draft Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) to Suffolk authorities to invite feedback on the proposed consultation program for the Sizewell C project, with its formal public consultation planned for the end of November.

"We are very pleased to signal the start of our formal consultation for Sizewell C. It demonstrates our clear intent to progress our role at the forefront of the UK's nuclear renaissance,” said Richard Mayson, director of Planning and External Affairs for EDF Energy Nuclear New Build.

EDF Energy also said that Sept. 22 marks the end of the Planning Inspectorate's six-month, examination of EDF Energy's application to build and operate a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The Planning Inspectorate now has up to three months to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Hinkley Point C is subject to planning consent and a final investment decision by the end of the year.
EDF Energy operates eight nuclear power plants in the UK.

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Emirates, Saudis Drive for Nuclear Power
(for personal use only)

The United Arab Emirates, one of the top oil exporters, is leading the race to develop nuclear power in the Arab world and has awarded contracts worth $2 billion to provide, convert and enrich uranium.

For now, only the Emirates and Saudi Arabia have the political clout and the financial reserves to achieve nuclear power programs that will transform their economies. They also have the backing of the United States for this strategic geopolitical transition in return for pledges not to militarize their nuclear programs.

All three countries are bitterly opposed to Iran's nuclear drive. Tehran swears it's purely for peaceful purposes but the Islamic Republic's adversaries insist it masks a clandestine effort to develop nuclear weapons.

The Saudis' program, costing $100 billion, is by far the most ambitious, with 16 nuclear reactors planned by 2030, the first scheduled to start producing electricity by 2019.

But it's trailing the Emirates, which launched its program in 2009 and plans to build four 1,400-megawatt reactors. The first is scheduled to deliver electricity by 2017, with the other three coming on stream at a rate of one a year until 2020.

The uranium fuel contracts were signed by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Persian Gulf federation and its economic powerhouse, with six companies Aug. 15.

They are ConverDyn of the United States, Uranium One of Canada, Urenco and Rio Tinto of Britain, Russia's Tenex and French energy giant Areva, and indicate the Emirates is spreading its supply of nuclear fuel among the world's main suppliers as a hedge against future geopolitical changes.

"It's a good balanced move," observed Robin Mills, an energy economist with Manaar Consulting of Dubai, the Emirates' financial hub.

ENEC, the state nuclear agency, signed a $20 billion contract to build the first reactor to a consortium led by a South Korean enterprise, Korea Electric Power Corp., which beat out more seasoned nuclear power producers in the United States, France and Japan.

The U.S. Import-Export Bank authorized a $2 billion direct loan to the Emirates' Barakah One Co. to purchase U.S. equipment and construction services to build the initial Emirates' reactor, which will be the first nuclear power plant built on the Arabian Peninsula.

The reactors will all be built along the sparsely populated Barakah region of the gulf coast about 140 miles from Abu Dhabi near the Saudi border. Between them they will produce 5,600 megawatts gross electricity.

By comparison, Saudi Arabia's 20 reactors should produce 41GW within 20 years, with geothermal and waste-to-energy systems providing another 4GW.

At present, the kingdom's electricity output is 52GW generation by 79 power stations.

Along with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, other Arab states such as Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan have said they will pursue nuclear programs aimed at boosting electricity production to meet a steadily growing demand caused by swelling populations and industrialization.

But their prospects are poor. The Middle East Economic Digest observed recently that "it is unlikely any of them will fulfill those ambitions. Qatar is too small to house a nuclear reactor, the others fail in terms of political stability and financial resources.

"Kuwait has the cash, but has been through eight governments in the past six years ... Bahrain continues to face destabilizing protests by its majority Shiite population and its budget is already in deficit," the weekly noted.

"Jordan's nuclear plans have been scuppered by a vote in Parliament" as "too hazardous and costly ... Elections in Egypt have not brought political stability. Nor is there any immediate hope of transforming the state's perilous-looking finances."

For the Saudis, nuclear power is becoming increasingly vital. At present it's having to use increasing amounts of oil for domestic electricity generation. That means less crude for export, which is backbone of the Saudi economy.

Some experts say if the kingdom's current energy consumption growth rate of 7 percent a year continues, it'll be burning some 8 million barrels per day within 20 years.

That's about two-thirds of its current production level.

The state oil company, Saudi Aramco, puts the figure at 3 million bpd by 2028, but that's still a big problem as the world's leading oil exporter uses up more and more energy at home.

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Romania Gets No Bids for Nuclear Reactors, Ziarul Financiar Says
Andra Timu
Bloomberg Businessweek
(for personal use only)

Romania received no offers for stakes in a project to build two additional nuclear reactors at its Cernavoda power plant, Ziarul Financiar reported, citing unidentified Economy Ministry officials.

The ministry plans to find alternative funding for the project, the cost of which is estimated at 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion), the newspaper said. A ministry official told ZF that a letter from a China-based company expressing interest had contained no firm offer. Enel SpA (ENEL) and Arcelor Mittal have minority stakes in the project and the state has 85 percent, the newspaper added.

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EDF Nuclear Execs Protest Fessenheim Closure Plan
(for personal use only)

EDF's nuclear plant managers have assailed government plans to close the state-controlled company's Fessenheim nuclear power station in a letter of support to the facility's workers, French media reported.

The letter, signed by EDF managers of 22 nuclear reactors throughout France, said they understood "the feeling of injustice" among the plant's employees.

French President Francois Hollande, who took office in May, said on Friday he would shut Fessenheim in Alsace, near the German border, by the end of 2016, sticking to his election pledge to halt its operations by the end of his mandate in 2017.

The facility, which went into service in 1977, is France's oldest nuclear power plant and has been a frequent focus of safety concerns since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Last week, environmental groups called for its early closure after a steam leak at the plant triggered a brief fire alert.

A study commissioned by EDF's works council found that some 2,200 jobs could be threatened in the eastern French region where the plant is located, financial daily Les Echos reported.

"This decision creates profound uncertainty about EDF's entire plan for its nuclear reactor fleet," the managers said in the letter, describing their "incomprehension" at the move.

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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

IAEA Action Plan on Safety Will Be Implemented: R. K. Sinha
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

In the face of an ongoing agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, Dr. Ratan Kumar Sinha, chairperson, Atomic Energy Commission of India, has said work on the first of the two 1000 MWe Light Water Reactors (LWRs) at Kudankulam is complete. The operation of unit-1 is expected to commence shortly and the second unit may be commissioned early next year.

A year after the Fukushima Daiichi accident, India was committed to implementing the IAEA action plan on nuclear safety, Dr. Sinha said. He was speaking at the 56th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference in Vienna on September 19. A copy of his speech was made available by the Department of Atomic Energy.

The preparation and planning for inviting IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) for peer review of India’s regulatory system was also in progress and, in due course, India would approach the Agency with a request to undertake this mission. In October this year, India in collaboration with the IAEA, would host an international workshop on “Safety of Multi-Unit Nuclear Power Plant Sites against External Natural Hazards.” This will be preceded by a meeting of the working group of the IAEA project on ‘Seismic safety of nuclear power plants.’

“Our experts will continue to participate and assist the IAEA Secretariat in its endeavour to enhance nuclear safety through a cluster of measures it has formulated,” he said. “The first Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) mission to India for Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) units 3 and 4 is now planned from the end of October this year.”

Nuclear power generation in India continued to grow due to an improvement in the supply of uranium from domestic as well as international sources. This year, the country had registered about 23 per cent increase in generation over last year. The average annual availability of the reactors had also increased from 83 per cent to 91 per cent, he pointed out.

India had identified new resources of uranium, he said. In the last five years, the country’s reserves had registered a steep increase of about 70 per cent. Production of PHWR (Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor) fuel was 751 MT in 2011-12, an increase of about 15 per cent over the previous year.

He also referred to the published results of recently concluded Indian studies based on screening newborns for congenital malformations in the high level natural radiation areas (HLNRA) in Kerala, where the radiation fields ranged from less than 1 mGy/year to 45 mGy/year, against the global average of approximately 2.4 mGy/year from natural sources of radiation. During the period August 1995 to December 2011, over 140,000 newborns in the HLNRA and normal radiation level area were screened for different health-related parameters.

The studies had shown that there was no significant difference between the populations belonging to HLNRA and normal radiation level area with respect to the frequency of congenital malformations, Down Syndrome and still-births. No significant difference was observed in the frequency of occurrence of chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei too.

Earlier studies carried out in the same region on nearly 400,000 people did not show any significant increase in the incidence of any type of cancer in the HLNRA, he added.

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NRC Finds Substantial Safety Issue at Wolf Creek Nuke Plant
(for personal use only)

The U.S. nuclear power regulator said it would increase inspections and oversight at the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant in Kansas after it determined that a loss-of-power event earlier this year had a substantial safety significance.

On Jan. 13, Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp's 1,166-megawatt Wolf Creek nuclear power plant was shut after the failure of a main generator electrical breaker, followed by an
unexplained loss of power to a transformer.

At that time, the plant operators declared an Unusual Event, the lowest of four levels of nuclear emergency.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has determined that the company's inadequate oversight of contractors performing work associated with safety-related equipment in April last year set the stage for the incident in January.

"The licensee failed to identify that electrical maintenance contractors had improperly connected wires on an electrical component. This allowed an electrical short to prevent transfer of power to a transformer on Jan. 13," the NRC said.

Under the NRC reactor oversight process, inspection findings are evaluated using a significance determination process and assigned a color indicating the safety significance.

Findings with very low safety significance are labeled "green." "White" findings have low to moderate safety significance; "yellow" findings have substantial safety significance; and "red" findings have high safety significance.

The "yellow" finding moves Wolf Creek into the "degraded cornerstone" column of the NRC action matrix, and the plant now joins six other nuclear units in the column: Hope Creek 1, Palisades, Perry 1, Saint Lucie 1, Salem 1 and Salem 2.

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Moldova Says it Detains Uranium Dealers from Rebel Region
(for personal use only)

Moldovan police have detained seven suspected members of a group that traded firearms and uranium, operating in the separatist Transdniestria region, the former Soviet republic's interior ministry said on Friday.

"We have documented numerous cases involving shipments of hand grenades, TNT blocks, Kalashnkikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher charges and containers with radioactive uranium-235," Vitalie Briceag, the head of the ministry's investigations department, told reporters.

Briceag said the group sold Kalashnikovs for $2,000 (1,232 pounds) and RPG charges for 200 euros but provided no details about the alleged uranium deals or the origins of the nuclear fuel.

"We are trying to find out how they acquired (the weapons)," he said.

In May, a Moldovan court convicted three people of illegal trafficking of uranium-235, which can be used in making nuclear weapons. Intelligence services from the United States, Germany and Ukraine were involved in that case.

Transdniestria, a narrow strip of land along Moldova's border with Ukraine populated by half a million people, broke away from Moldova after a brief war in 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Although unrecognised internationally, it has been de facto independent for the last 20 years and hosts 1,200 Russian peacekeepers.

The Chisinau government has long accused Transdniestria of being a "black hole" for smuggling arms, cigarettes and other contraband, a charge denied by local authorities.

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Pentagon Should Take Over U.S. Nuclear Plant Security -Lawmaker
Roberta Rampton
(for personal use only)

The Defense Department should take over security for U.S. nuclear weapons sites after a nuclear complex was broken into with ease in July by an 82-year-old nun and two other peace activists, a top lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Friday.

Mike Turner, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services panel that oversees the Energy Department's nuclear weapons complex, has drafted legislation to put the U.S. military in charge of protecting facilities like the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

"The fact that this vulnerability is so widely known has got to be addressed," Turner said in an interview.

The Y-12 facility, built after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had been previously touted as "the Fort Knox of uranium" and was supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the United States.

But in July, the three anti-nuclear activists cut through several fences and vandalized a building which holds the U.S. stockpile of highly enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs.

An internal Energy Department watchdog found guards ignored motion sensors because they were routinely triggered by wildlife, and a security camera that should have shown the break-in had been broken for about six months.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department, is continuing to investigate what went wrong with its oversight of contractors.

The facility is run by Babcock & Wilcox Co, and WSI Oak Ridge, owned by G4S, provides security. Their contracts are being reviewed, and a number of personnel have been removed from their jobs.

"We have seen just an absolute failure of security at Y-12. We believe from our classified briefing that this is system-wide, that NNSA and (Energy Department) are incapable of providing the level of security necessary for our nuclear weapons facilities," Turner said.

Turner, who has spent a decade monitoring issues with the Energy Department's management of the complex, said he does not believe the NNSA can fix the issues that allowed for the incursion.

Putting the Pentagon in charge would increase security, allow for better technology and weapons to be used in protecting facilities, and eliminate any interdepartmental issues in sharing classified intelligence about threats, he said.

Turner's bill also would charge the Pentagon with securing the transportation of nuclear materials between facilities.

"I am more concerned about the transport than I am the facilities, and the facilities have already shown to be highly vulnerable," he said.

Turner has so far gathered about six Republican cosponsors for his bill, which he hopes to see become part of the annual defense policy legislation when the Senate and House finalize it after the Nov. 6 election.

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E.  Links of Interest

Bulgaria Picks US Firm for Arbitration Battle with Russia over Belene
(for personal use only)

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U.S.-Russia Commission Discusses New START Implementation
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

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