1. North Korea Can Launch Nuclear Missiles, U.S. Spy Agency Says
David Alexander, Christine Kim and Narae Kim
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North Korea has the ability to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, although they would likely be unreliable, a Pentagon spy agency has concluded, as the United States and South Korea kept watch on Thursday for a missile test-launch by Pyongyang.
The Defense Intelligence Agency study, dated last month, appeared to be the first time the agency had reached such a conclusion.
"DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low," said Republican U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn, who disclosed the conclusion during a congressional hearing on Thursday.
Lamborn said the agency reached the conclusion in a mostly classified March 2013 report. He did not say what range the nuclear-capable North Korean missiles might have.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment when asked if he agreed with that assessment, saying he had not seen the report.
The strong consensus inside the U.S. government is that North Korea does not yet have a nuclear device that would fit longer-range missiles which conceivably could reach U.S. territories.
Despite recent threats to attack U.S. bases and the South, North Korea started to welcome a stream of visitors for Monday's celebrations marking the birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States would work diplomatically to reduce tensions with North Korea, while warning that Washington would take "all necessary steps" to protect America and its allies.
Obama met at the White House on Thursday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called for China and other nations with influence over North Korea to help calm the situation.
North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to defense assessments by Washington and Seoul, possibly in readiness for a test-launch that would demonstrate its ability to hit U.S. bases on Guam.
"There are signs the North could fire off Musudan missiles any time soon," an unnamed intelligence source in Seoul told Yonhap news agency.
Most observers say Pyongyang has no intention of starting a war that would likely bring its own destruction, but they warn of the risks of miscalculation on the highly militarized Korean peninsula.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/11/us-korea-north-idUSBRE93408020130411
North Korea said Tuesday the Korean peninsula was headed for "thermo-nuclear" war and advised foreigners to consider leaving South Korea, as the UN chief warned of a potentially "uncontrollable" situation.
Tuesday's advisory -- greeted largely with indifference -- followed a similar one last week to foreign embassies in Pyongyang, to consider evacuating by April 10 on the grounds war may break out.
"The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermo-nuclear war," the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
Saying it did not want to see foreigners in South Korea "fall victim", the statement requested all foreign institutions, enterprises and tourists "to take measures for shelter and evacuation".
The committee blamed the heightened war risk on the "warmongering US" and its South Korean "puppets" who were intent on invasion.
White House spokesman Jay Carney criticised Pyongyang for more "unhelpful rhetoric that serves only to escalate tensions".
The "thermo-nuclear war" threat has been wielded several times in recent months -- most recently on March 7 -- despite expert opinion that North Korea is nowhere near developing such an advanced nuclear device.
"It is our current assessment that there is no immediate risk to British nationals in South Korea," a British embassy spokesman said, echoing similar statements from the US, French and other missions.
Last week's warning to embassies in Pyongyang was also largely dismissed as empty rhetoric, with most governments making it clear they had no plans to withdraw personnel.
Breaking with international efforts to play down the threats, one South Korea lawmaker said Tuesday that Seoul had the right to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to match North Korea's nuclear work step-by-step.
Chung Mong-Joon, a billionaire businessman who belongs to the ruling conservative New Frontier Party, said on a visit to Washington that the latest crisis with North Korea showed that diplomacy had failed with Pyongyang.
"It would send a clear warning that, by continuing its nuclear programme, North Korea is releasing the nuclear genie in East Asia," Chung told a conference of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The Korean peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military tensions since the North's third nuclear test in February, which drew toughened UN sanctions.
Pyongyang's bellicose rhetoric has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, with near-daily threats of attacks on US military bases and South Korea in response to ongoing South Korean-US military exercises.
Yonhap news agency Tuesday cited South Korean intelligence as saying the North had completed preparations for an expected missile test-launch -- possibly to coincide with April 15 celebrations for the birthday of late founder Kim Il-Sung.
Japan, where the armed forces have been authorised to shoot down any North Korean missile headed towards its territory, said Tuesday it had deployed Patriot missiles in its capital as a pre-emptive defence measure.
A top US military commander said Tuesday that he favoured shooting down a North Korean missile only if it threatened the United States or Washington's allies in the region.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said during a visit to Rome he had spoken to the Chinese leadership to try to calm tensions, and would discuss the issue with US President Barack Obama on Thursday.
"The current level of tension is very dangerous, a small incident caused by miscalculation or misjudgement may create an uncontrollable situation," he said.
However Tuesday's threat was unlikely to worry South Korea's foreign community of around 1.4 million that has calmly weathered the rhetorical storm thus far.
Earlier Tuesday North Korean workers followed Pyongyang's order to boycott the Kaesong joint industrial zone with South Korea, signalling the possible demise of the sole surviving symbol of cross-border reconciliation.
The North announced Monday it was taking the unprecedented step of pulling out its 53,000 workers and shutting the complex down indefinitely.
Established in 2004, Kaesong has never closed before. Pyongyang's move reflects the depth of the current crisis, which has otherwise been notable more for fiery rhetoric than action.
Kaesong, 10 kilometres (six miles) inside North Korea, is a crucial hard currency source for the impoverished North, mainly through its cut of the workers' wages.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said the North's action was "very disappointing" and displayed a total disregard for investment norms that would return to haunt Pyongyang in the future.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5il2I83gr8P2OsJbFCNVSviz_VAXw?docId=CNG.e1686bf590f01073b4ec9e47639896fe.61
1. Iran Announces Plans for Six More Bushehr Reactors
Construction Week Online
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The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) announced plans to build more nuclear reactors in the Bushehr coastal fault zone across from its Arabian Gulf neighbours on the same day that a powerful earthquake struck the area around Iran's only atomic energy plant.
The death toll from Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude quake rose to at least 37 by the end of last Wednesday. The earthquake struck 90km south-east of the town of Bushehr, flattening about 12 villages and injuring more than 900.
Across the Gulf, tremors from the quake were felt in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, some high-rise buildings were evacuated. H.H. Sheikh Khalifa, president of the UAE, also sent a message of condolence to the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, chief of AEOI, subsequently stated that the Bushehr site capable of holding six reactors on state television late on Tuesday, as reported by the Mehr News Agency and then Reuters. He added that construction of at least two 1,000MW units would start there in the "near future".
According to Iran and the Russian company that built the existing nuclear facility, located 18km south of Bushehr, the plant is quake-proof and escaped unscathed.
While Iran has been keen to reassure Gulf Arab states that there is no danger from the Bushehr plant, the nuclear facility’s site is closer to Kuwait City, Manama, Doha and Abu Dhabi than it is to Tehran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has also indicated its satisfaction that there is little danger to the plant, the price tag for which over its four decades of its construction ran to $11bn.
Situated at the juncture of three tectonic plates, the reactor is designed to withstand a quake of magnitudes greater than 8.0, as verified by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Following last Tuesday's quake, there have since been dozens of powerful aftershocks up to a magnitude of 5.2.
Iran has officially counted 800 homes among the destroyed structures in a sparsely populated, rural part of the country. Many houses are made of mud bricks that crumbled easily in the strong quake.
Available at: http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-21868-iran-announces-plans-for-six-more-bushehr-reactors/
2. Russian Nuclear Experts to Inspect Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant after Earthquake
Russia Beyond the Headlines
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Russian nuclear experts have set up a special commission to inspect equipment at the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran after an earthquake that hit the country on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Nizhny Novgorod-based engineering company Atomenergoproject incorporated into the Rosatom state corporation told Itar-Tass.
On Tuesday, an earthquake measuring 6.3 points on the Richer scale was registered in Iran. According to seismologists, its epicenter was located some 90 kilometres southeast of the city Bushehr, near which the nuclear power plant of the same name is situated. A magnitude 5.4 aftershock occurred 18 kilometres away from the first earthquake area. The tremors were felt in Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
“Neither of the two quakes affected the work of the Bushehr plant,” Russian experts say. According to Igor Mezenin, head of Atomsptoiexport’s department for the nuclear plant construction in Iran, the BUshehr reactor was in the subcriticality mode during the quake. “The plant’s personnel works in the routine regime, the radiation situation is within the natural background levels,” he stressed.
Atomsptroiexport is building the plant’s first unit on a turnkey basis. The project is at the final stage. Since 2012, the project has been implemented by Atomenergoproject. In August 2012, the unit reached its rated capacity. It is planned that the unit will be accepted by the client in May 2013.
Available at: http://indrus.in/news/2013/04/10/russian_nuclear_experts_to_inspect_irans_bushehr_nuclear_plant_after_ear_23675.html
Iran plans to build a new 360-MW nuclear power plant in the south of the country, Naser Shariflou, a former manager of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, said on Tuesday, according to the IRNA news agency.
The plant, in the Darkhoein region, is “at the design stage,” he said, adding the necessary equipment for it will be manufactured at home.
Iran celebrates National Nuclear Technology Day on Tuesday.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the launch of the Shahid Rezaeinejad yellowcake production plant and Saghand uranium mines in Ardakan on Tuesday, as well as the country’s first Rhodotron accelerator in the city of Taft, the ISNA news agency reported.
The uranium extracted from the Saghand mines in Yazd will be processed into yellowcake at the Shahid Rezaeinejad complex, which has a capacity of 60 tons of yellowcake a year.
Fereydoun Abassi Davani, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Tuesday the operation of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be officially handed over to Iran before the end of April, IRNA reported.
Construction at Bushehr by West Germany's Kraftwerk Union AG began in the 1970's, but was plagued by delays. German involvement ceased in 1980 due to concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the change of regime in the country. Russia signed a billion-dollar deal with Tehran to complete the plant's Power Unit 1 in 1995, according to Atomstroyexport.
The plant's launch in August 2010 prompted Israel and other nations to express fear that the reactor could help Iran create an atomic bomb. Tehran has denied the allegations, saying the facility will be used for peaceful power generation only.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in February Tehran expected to start work on a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, with a capacity of up to 5,000 megawatts, in cooperation with Russia.
Last summer Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko denied Russia was negotiating with Iran over joint construction of a second reactor at Bushehr.
Western powers say Iran is attempting to build an atomic weapon, but Tehran insists its program has entirely peaceful purposes and has decried international pressure as unacceptable interference in its sovereign affairs.
Talks last week in Kazakhstan between six major powers and Iran over its nuclear program foundered over the issue of Iran's insistence on its right to enrich uranium.
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/world/20130409/180536478.html
Iran will keep the option of withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on the table and will seriously consider it if the West intensifies sanctions or refers the case to the U.N. Security Council, a leading lawmaker warned Monday.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Iran cannot remain an NPT member while it is punished for exercising its nuclear rights, while offering terms for a deal at the same time — halting high-quality enrichment in exchange for cancellation of punishing Western sanctions.
"It's not acceptable that Iran respects NPT but the U.S. and the West ignore NPT's Article 6 — reducing nuclear weapons — and Article 4 — right to enrichment," Boroujerdi said, according to the state TV's Al-Alam website.
"Therefore, there is no reason for Iran to remain an NPT member under such circumstances," he said. Boroujerdi heads the Iranian parliament's security and foreign policy committee.
The 1968 treaty aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Signatories commit to allowing international inspections of their nuclear facilities. Article 4 endorses the right of nations to peaceful nuclear development, and Article 6 states the goal of eventual nuclear disarmament. Iran signed the pact in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. Key nuclear powers, like India, Pakistan and Israel, have not signed. India and Pakistan have tested nuclear bombs.
The West fears Iran may be aiming to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its program is geared toward generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.
Boroujerdi said the final decision on pulling out of NPT rests with the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Supreme National Security Council, the body that handles the country's nuclear policy.
The latest round of talks between Iran and a group of six world powers, in Kazakhstan over the weekend, failed to narrow the differences. The six want Iran to stop its highest level uranium enrichment — 20 percent — and shut down its underground Fordo enrichment site as confidence-building measures.
In return, and only after confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has implemented the measures, the U.S. and European Union would suspend sanctions on gold and precious metals, and the export of petrochemicals. But severe sanctions including a ban on exporting oil and restrictions on banking would remain in place.
Iran said the proposal by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany is "not balanced" and "not proportionate." Iran's income from oil and gas exports has dropped by 45 percent as a result of the sanctions.
Boroujerdi said Iran has the right to enrich uranium even higher than 20 percent, based on its needs. "They say stop 20 percent enrichment. This is while such level of enrichment and even 20 and 50 percent is authorized on the basis of IAEA rules. The red line is nuclear bomb," Al-Alam quoted him as saying.
Even so, he said Iran will reciprocate proportionately if sanctions are lifted.
"If we are to cooperate in areas such as 20 percent enrichment, sanctions against Iran must definitely be lifted in return," he said.
He rejected closing the underground Fordo facility. "Fordo is to protect our nuclear equipment from the danger of air attacks or missile strikes by the Zionist regime," he said. "No sane person would put its wealth at the disposal of the enemy's target."
Available at: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/lawmaker-iran-could-exit-nuclear-treaty
5. Stalled Talks with Iran Over Nukes Boost Sanctions
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The failure of negotiations between six world powers and Iran over its disputed nuclear program has jumpstarted the congressional push for even tougher sanctions aimed at crippling the economy in Tehran.
The latest talks this past weekend in Kazakhstan proved inconclusive as the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany pressed Iran to significantly limit its production and stockpiling of uranium enrichment. The international community fears Tehran is developing a nuclear weapon; Iran insists its work is for peaceful purposes.
The stalled negotiations — there were no plans for new talks — gave fresh impetus to bipartisan legislation in the House to impose new sanctions on Iran while Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., was putting together a package of penalties likely in the next week or so, according to congressional aides and sanctions experts.
The penalties are certain to draw strong bipartisan support as lawmakers, fearful of Iran's ambitions and worried about its threat to Israel, have overwhelmingly embraced past sanctions legislation. The latest effort would mark the fifth time since June 2010 that Congress has slapped penalties on Iran.
"I'm concerned Tehran is only using talks as a delaying tactic — in the same way North Korea used a similar tactic to develop its nuclear arsenal," Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. "Rather, the bipartisan legislation I've introduced further increases economic pressure on Iranian leaders to give up their nuclear weapons program. Congress will continue to turn up the pressure; it is our best chance to succeed."
Royce and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the committee, introduced legislation in February that would broaden sanctions on Iran by expanding the list of blacklisted Iranian companies and moving to cut off Tehran's access to the euro.
Kirk, a top sponsor of sanctions legislation since his arrival in the Senate in January 2011, is crafting a bill that would target regime officials on human rights with travel bans and seizure of assets, and essentially impose a commercial and financial embargo on Iran.
It also would basically impose a tough arms embargo on Iran, its proxies in Gaza and southern Lebanon, as well as North Korea, Syria and Sudan. The measure would close loopholes in current law on Iran's access to foreign exchange reserves.
Current sanctions have undercut the Iranian economy, causing high unemployment and inflation while daily oil production and the value of the country's currency, the rial, have dropped.
In the latest round of talks, the six world powers were unable to persuade Iran to limit its production and stockpiling of uranium enrichment to 20 percent and close its underground Fordo enrichment site.
Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert and executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said lawmakers sense an imperative to act and ratchet up the pressure.
"I think everybody was waiting for this latest round in Almaty (Kazakhstan). Now that that's deemed to be a failure, Congress realizes that time is running out and clearly the current sanctions have not yet cracked the nuclear will of Iran's supreme leader," Dubowitz said.
The concern is that Iran is 15 months from an undetectable nuclear breakout yet has the sufficient foreign exchanges to last beyond that date.
"The question now is whether in that short period of time, the U.S. can massively intensify the sanctions and bring the regime to the brink of economic collapse before the regime achieves an undetectable nuclear breakout," he said.
Available at: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/stalled-talks-iran-over-nukes-boost-sanctions
1. Leaks Spur Japan's Crippled Nuclear Plant to Expand Storage
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Tokyo Electric Power, the utility that operates the Japanese nuclear plant devastated two years ago by an earthquake and tsunami, is scrambling to build more tanks to safely store radioactive water after leaks were found at makeshift pits.
Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have so far filled up more than 80 percent of the 325,000 metric tons (1 metric ton = 1.102 tons) of available storage with groundwater contaminated by the damaged nuclear reactors.
Leaks in the current water transfer and storage system have added to the urgency to expand this capacity: on Thursday, the utility known as Tepco said pipes used to transfer radioactive water from a leaking pit burst in what is the fourth leak in less than a week.
"We've been told it's an emergency situation and we have to speed up the construction of the water tanks any way we can," said a worker at the plant who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
"There are a lot of makeshift fixes. They are walking a tightrope from one jerry-rigged fix to another," he said at the site, now a cluster of ramshackle buildings and exposed steel girders on Japan's northeastern coast.
On Wednesday, Tepco president Naomi Hirose said the utility would transfer all the contaminated water currently stored in the makeshift pits to reinforced tanks by early June.
A Tepco spokeswoman on Thursday confirmed the utility was planning to build new tanks, but declined to be more specific.
The utility currently has 933 reinforced steel tanks with a maximum capacity of 1,100 tonnes, while 5 out of 7 massive pits lined with plastic sheeting still hold toxic water.
Tepco has struggled with the clean-up of Fukushima, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling to the station, causing meltdowns in three reactors.
Recent mishaps, including two power outages, have heightened concerns about Fukushima's stability and called into question Tepco's ability to decommission the plant.
Renewed radiation fears could also scuttle Tokyo's hopes to be chosen as the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games.
"The issues are just snowballing. Tepco cannot do this alone, but the government, the regulator, they all refuse to take responsibility," said Masashi Goto, a retired nuclear engineer and industry expert.
Tepco's Hirose, however, has rebuffed suggestions that the utility needs outside help.
Last month, Tepco lost vital power used to cool spent uranium fuel rods in pools in the complex. The utility later said the 29-hour power outage was caused by a rat that shorted a temporary switchboard.
Two weeks later, workers attempting to install a net to block rodents tripped the same system again.
The Asahi Shimbun, one of the biggest newspapers in Japan, called the Fukushima plant "a toxic water production facility" in an editorial this week. It also urged the government to take a more active role in the plant's decommissioning.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/11/us-japan-nuclear-leaks-idUSBRE93A0AD20130411
2. Japan’s Nuclear Watchdog Drafts New Safety Rules
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Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday published new draft safety standards that it hopes will prevent a repeat of the disaster at Fukushima.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said measures must be taken to defend atomic power plants against tsunamis, earthquakes and terrorist attacks.
Under the proposed rules there will be a ban on building reactors near active tectonic faults, which themselves will be redefined in a move that will make many more of them fit that definition.
At present, active faults are defined as those that have moved in the last 130,000 years, but the NRA will move the benchmark to any time in the last 400,000 years.
Up to five nuclear plants in Japan sit atop a possible active seismic fault, NRA-appointed experts have said.
Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA, said earlier this year that plants would have to be able to survive a direct hit from a hijacked airliner or ship, as well as withstand tsunamis like the one that crippled Fukushima.
The move comes after repeated criticism that lax regulation and an overly cosy relationship between authorities and the big-money companies they were supposed to police worsened the catastrophe of March 2011, when a tsunami swamped the coastal Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless by the disaster and tracts of prime agricultural land were left unfarmable after radiation spread across a large area.
Anti-nuclear sentiment is running high in Japan, which used to rely on atomic power for around a third of its electricity needs.
The proposals will now go out to public consultation for 30 days and new rules will come into force in mid-July.
All but two of Japan’s reactors remain offline after being shuttered for regular safety checks in the aftermath of the 2011 crisis.
Available at: http://www.livemint.com/Politics/Jx7kgvRoxYUayooUMkUk5L/Japans-nuclear-watchdog-drafts-new-safety-rules.html
3. IAEA To Review Decommissioning Of Japan's Tsunami-Crippled Nuke Plant
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Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will review ongoing work relating to decommissioning of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan's northeast later this month, Japanese media reported on Monday.
Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog will have talks with officials of the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) as well as officials from Japan's Natural Resources and Energy Agency during their planned visit to the facility on April 17-19, and suggest ways to deal with leaks of contaminated water from the plant's underground tanks.
Apart from reviewing the entire decommissioning process, the IAEA inspectors will also check measures to protect workers from exposure to radiation. IAEA officials visited the plant in May 2011 one month after the nuclear accident to examine the extent of the disaster.
According to TEPCO officials, it will take at least 40 years to decommission the plant completely.
More than 160,000 residents around a 30-kilometer radius of the stricken plant had been evacuated following large scale radiation leak that contaminated water and food. Most of the evacuees were still living in makeshift shelters as the affected areas were yet to be decontaminated.
Available at: http://www.rttnews.com/2090625/iaea-to-review-decommissioning-of-japan-s-tsunami-crippled-nuke-plant.aspx?type=gn&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=sitemap
1. Man Dies in Explosion at Nuclear Waste Processing Plant in France
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One was killed and four others were injured after an explosion at a nuclear plant in one of the France's most popular tourist areas today.
The blast at the vast Marcoule site, close to Bagnols-sur-Ceze, in the Gard department, immediately raised fears of an atomic disaster.
Marcoule, which is used to store and melt down radioactive waste, is close to the beaches of the French Riviera and major cities including Montpellier and Marseilles.
But, following the explosion at around 11.45am, a spokesman for ASN, France's nuclear safety watchdog, claimed 'right now, there no radioactive leak'.
Despite this, the fire service was refusing to enter the facility to assess the damage, and a safety perimeter fence had been placed around the facility.
A source among the workforce at Marcoule, which has been in operation since 1956, said: 'The explosion caused the instant death of one man, while another is in a critical condition with horrific burns.
'He has been transported to hospital in Montpellier by emergency helicopter. Another three workers are less seriously injured, and they have been evacuated to hospital in Bagnols-sur-Ceze.'
Marcoule was used to carry out some of the earliest plutonium experiments by French military scientists.
It once housed a number of nuclear reactors, but these have been shut down. Now it contains a pressurized water reactor, with cooling for all its plants coming from the Rhone River.
France produces almost 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power - the highest percentage in the world.
EDF (Electricity of France) - the country's main electricity provider - has managed the country's 59 nuclear power plants since 2002, with potentially dangerous incidents kept to a minimum.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan earlier this year, Prime Minister Francois Fillon called for 'open and transparent' checks of all nuclear installations.
He particularly wanted to examine the risks of leaks, floods, earthquakes, loss of power and cooling, and accident management processes.
Following the Fukushima disaster, which was directly caused by a Tsunami and earthquakes, an OpinonWay poll of March 2011 found that 57 per cent of French people were opposed to nuclear energy in France.
Despite this, Nicolas Sarkozy's government has pledged the country to a nuclear future, encouraging companies to export nuclear-produced energy to countries including Britain.
Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2036589/France-nuclear-explosion-Man-dies-processing-plant-near-French-Riviera.html
2. U.S. Nuclear Agency Warned to Expand Power Plant Evacuation Zones
Environment News Service
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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission should look at evacuation plans for areas beyond a 10-mile radius around America’s nuclear power plants, the independent research branch of Congress advised Wednesday.
In a report requested by four senators, the Government Accountability Office, GAO, said that to better inform radiological emergency preparedness efforts, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to obtain information on public awareness and likely public response outside the current 10-mile evacuation zone, and incorporate insights into guidance.
Nationwide, each of the 65 operating commercial nuclear power plants has a 10-mile emergency planning zone around the plant; in total, these zones include at least 490 local and state authorities.
“Without better information on the public’s awareness and potential response in areas outside the 10-mile zone, [the Nuclear Regulatory Commission] may not be providing the best planning guidance,” the GAO report concluded.
The NRC disagreed with this finding, stating that its research shows public response outside the zone would generally have no significant impact on evacuations.
“While the NRC remains confident in the basis of the 10-mile emergency protection zone, we will be looking at the question of whether the zone should be expanded and public education/information efforts enhanced as part of our post-Fukushima review of nuclear power plant safety,” said the agency in a statement Wednesday.
The GAO report was prepared at the request of three Democratic senators and an Independent after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, releasing radiation and forcing evacuations within 19 miles of the plant.
Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, was one of those requesting the GAO report. “Clearly, this is a common sense recommendation after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima,” Boxer said. “After this tragedy, the Japanese government evacuated people within 19 miles of the damaged nuclear power plant, while the American government recommended that those within 50 miles evacuate.”
“It is of great concern to me that the NRC apparently plans to ignore GAO,” she said. “I urge them to follow the reasonable recommendations made in this report.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, said, “There are 23 reactors in the United States, including Vermont Yankee, with designs similar to the Fukushima reactor in Japan. Many of them are close to populated areas. The NRC needs to expand its emergency planning procedures to better protect all of the people living near nuclear reactors, not just those in the 10-mile zone.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, said the GAO report shows “we can, and must, do more to prepare for nuclear disasters.”
“Thousands of Rhode Islanders live within the 50-mile emergency planning zone of a nuclear power plant,” said Whitehouse. “Ensuring a safe evacuation for our citizens in the event of a disaster is absolutely vital, and I hope this report will spur additional action here in the U.S.”
Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said, “It is clear from this report that more needs to be done to know what residents who live outside of a 10-mile radius understand regarding appropriate emergency procedures and what they would do in the event of an emergency at a nuclear power plant.”
“Over 10 million Pennsylvanians, which is 80 percent of the population of the state, live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant,” said Casey. “Strong emergency plans are critical to make sure constituents remain safe in the event of an emergency and that shouldn’t stop at a 10-mile radius.”
The NRC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, are collectively responsible for providing radiological emergency preparedness oversight and guidance to commercial nuclear power plant licensees and local and state authorities around the plants. In general, NRC is responsible for overseeing licensees’ emergency preparedness on-site at the plants, and FEMA is responsible for overseeing preparedness by local and state authorities off-site around the plant.
Nuclear power plant licensees are responsible for managing on-site radiological emergency preparedness and developing and maintaining plans that define activities that the nuclear power plant must take to prepare for and respond to a potential incident at the plant.
Participating local and state authorities within the 10-mile zone must develop protective actions for responding to a radiological incident, including plans for evacuations and sheltering in place.
A recent NRC task force considered the adequacy of the zone size and concluded that no change was currently needed but said zone size will be re-evaluated as part of the lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi incident.
On March 11, 2011, power to the nuclear plant’s cooling systems was blacked out when a massive earthquake off the Pacific coast of Japan’s Honshu Island touched off a tsunami that inundated the power plant. Nuclear fuel at three of the plant’s six reactors suffered meltdowns, which combined with hydrogen gas explosions in the damaged reactors, spread radiation far and wide. It was the largest release of radiation since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Japanese authorities evacuated at least 200,000 residents from a 30 kilometer (20 mile) radius around the damaged power plant. The U.S. government recommended that U.S. citizens evacuate from a 50 mile radius around the facility. Most evacuees are still not permitted back into the area.
In the United States, the NRC and FEMA review emergency plans developed by licensees and local and state authorities to ensure that planning standards are met.
NRC and FEMA also observe exercises for each plant that licensees and local and state authorities conduct every two years to demonstrate their ability to respond to an incident.
NRC also requires licensees to develop estimates of how long it would take for those inside the 10-mile zone to evacuate under various conditions. Licensees are to provide these evacuation time estimates to local and state authorities to use when planning protective action strategies.
The nonprofit Riverkeeper monitors Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York, less than 30 miles from the Bronx, one of New York City’s five boroughs. Nuclear power from Indian Point provides New York City with up to one-quarter of its electricity.
“You’re living living in a dream world if you think we can evacuate after an accident in Indian Point,” said Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper.
“If you live in New York City and there’s an accident like there was in Fukushima,” said Gallay, “you’re not going to be able to escape, and there’s going to be enough radiation to make you sick.”
Indian Point is one of the power plants visited by the GAO investigating team, who also visited St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant in Florida and Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania.
The GAO report found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not adequately understand the “shadow evacuation” phenomenon at nuclear reactors, and that its emergency planning regulations do not adequately account for the strong likelihood that far more people would evacuate, from much further distances than NRC plans, in a real nuclear emergency.
“The report did not cover another crucial and little-known flaw in current U.S. nuclear emergency plans,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of the nonprofit Nuclear Information and Resource Service, “which is that they are designed to protect only against very high levels of radiation exposure capable of causing immediate health effects, and would not prevent large-scale exposure to radiation levels that would cause chronic illness, including cancer.”
“It’s past time for the NRC to strengthen its emergency rules—that’s a clear lesson from the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters, both of which resulted in evacuations far beyond the NRC’s current 10-mile zone,” said Mariotte.
“In a real radiation release, the American people will expect the government to act to protect them against exposures that could cause damaging health effects,” Mariotte said. “This is especially important since the NRC’s current antiquated rules are based on exposure effects to an average adult man—yet women and children are far more susceptible to radiation than men.”
A Petition for Rulemaking submitted by NIRS last February asks the NRC to expand the size of the current 10-mile emergency planning zones around U.S. reactors to 25 miles and to make other planning and training improvements. That Petition, backed by some 6,000 organizations and individuals, is still pending before the Commission.
Available at: http://ens-newswire.com/2013/04/11/u-s-nuclear-agency-warned-to-expand-power-plant-evacuation-zones/
3. US Nuclear Power Plants are Safe, Despite Jaczko Remarks: NEI CEO
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US nuclear power plants are operating safely, and safety has been enhanced by upgrades since the Fukushima-1 accident in Japan, a nuclear industry representative said in response Tuesday to a former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman's remarks Monday about design flaws in plants.
"US nuclear energy facilities are operating safely," Nuclear Energy Institute President and CEO Marvin Fertel said. "That was the case prior to Greg Jaczko's tenure as [US] Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman. It was the case during his tenure as NRC's chairman, as acknowledged by the NRC's special Fukushima response task force and evidenced by a multitude of safety and performance indicators. It is still the case today, particularly as every US nuclear energy facility adds yet another layer of safety by implementing lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident."
NEI issued the statement in response to Jaczko's comments after his presentation Monday at a conference held by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
Asked during the question and answer period after his presentation whether nuclear power should be phased out, Jaczko said there is "a fundamental design problem" with all power reactors in the US, in that, even when the reactors are not operating, their fuel must be actively cooled to avoid meltdowns and radioactive releases resulting from residual "decay heat" in the fuel, as occurred in March 2011 at three of the six Fukushima-1 units.
Responses by industry and regulators to Fukushima, and to previous nuclear power accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, are "always chasing the previous problem," and retrofits cannot eliminate this "fundamental design challenge," Jaczko said.
New reactors with "low energy density" cores should be designed that do not generate enough decay heat to melt fuel, Jaczko said. More broadly, fundamental questions should be asked about whether nuclear power is needed at all, he said.
Jaczko did not say by what date operating US nuclear power plants should be closed. He noted that, because these plants provide 20% of the country's electricity, they cannot be shut "tomorrow."
Jaczko said, contrary to the industry's claims, that operating the current generation of reactors beyond 60 years "is probably not feasible."
According to NEI, 73 of the 103 operational nuclear power plants in the US have had their original 40-year operating licenses extended for an additional 20 years, and the industry has said almost all the other power reactors are expected to apply for such renewals.
The industry has been discussing with NRC and the US Department of Energy the feasibility of operating some plants in the current fleet beyond 60 years, and the first application to NRC for a second license renewal is expected by the end of the decade.
Jaczko said Monday that US nuclear utilities are seeing that even operating for 60 years "may be difficult" for some plants, noting recent decisions by some operators to close plants in Florida, New Jersey and Wisconsin prior to expiration of their licenses, for economic and other reasons.
As chairman, Jaczko was the sole vote against the commission's decision in February 2012 to issue licenses to build and operate four new power reactors in Georgia and South Carolina, the first new reactor construction projects in the US in 30 years. At the time, he said he did not disagree with NRC staff's assessment that the Westinghouse-designed AP1000 reactors could be operated safely, but he had been unable to persuade his fellow commissioners to formally condition the licenses on implementation of post-Fukushima upgrades.
Jaczko told reporters on the sidelines of the conference Monday that even the AP1000 reactor has a "design flaw" in that it "still has the potential for severe accidents," and evacuation plans must be in place in case of such accidents.
The risk of severe accidents should be minimized "at the design stage," Jaczko said. Smaller, "more distributed" nuclear power plants -- perhaps using designs such as the small modular reactors being developed by some vendors -- have the potential to contribute to this safety goal, he said.
Jaczko was appointed as an NRC commissioner in July 2008 and was appointed chairman in May 2009. He resigned in May 2012 after allegations that he had bullied some NRC officials and withheld information from his fellow commissioners. He was succeeded as commissioner and chairman by Allison Macfarlane, who has consistently said -- as did Jaczko when he was chairman -- that US nuclear power plants are operating safely after Fukushima.
Available at: http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/21926397
1. Slovakia Happy for Russia to Join Nuclear Plant Expansion
Business New Europe
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Abandoned by Czech utility CEZ, Slovakia is ready to accept Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom as a partner for the construction of a new nuclear reactor, the Economy Ministry in Bratislava said on April 9.
The Slovak state, which holds pre-emptive rights for CEZ's 49% stake in a project to build a new unit at the existing Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power plant, is ready to negotiate with the Russian company on conditions for allowing it to take the shares, a document scheduled for cabinet discussion says, according to Bloomberg.
CEZ joined the €4bn-6bn project in partnership with state-controlled Slovak company JAVYS in 2008, at a cost of €117m. However, the Czech power giant is facing a bill of €8bn-10bn for the expansion of its Temelin nuclear plant at home, and has admitted the cost is only likely to be manageable if it abandons other major projects.
The Russian company is likely to welcome the offer. Moscow has pushed the export of nuclear technology in recent years; it's one of the few successful elements of its bid to diversify the Russian economy away from raw materials and toward high-tech, value-added production. Rosatom is building nuclear plants in numerous emerging economies, mostly in Asia.
At the same time, Moscow is always keen to increase its influence in Europe, and especially in CEE. Rosatom is currently pushing for a contract to expand Hungary's nuclear capacity, while a subsidiary leads one of the two remaining competitors in the tender for CEZ's Temelin contract.
Available at: http://www.bne.eu/story4792/Slovakia_happy_for_Russia_to_join_nuclear_plant_expansion
2. Abdullah bin Zayed Takes Part in Non -Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative Meeting
Emirates News Agency
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H. H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister, today participated in the plenary meeting of the Sixth Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a ministerial-level group initiated by Australia and Japan.
The first working session of this meeting was attended by Ambassador Hamad Al Ka'abi, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Foreign Ministers of the Netherlands, of Germany, of Japan, and of Turkey (TBC) also participated in the conference, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada.
The membership of the NPDI includes the UAE, the Netherlands, Canada, Chile, Germany, Mexico, Poland and Turkey. The group aims to build confidence measures among the nuclear countries through encouraging greater transparency surrounding nuclear disarmament and proliferation.
The NPDI is currently focused on the commencement of negotiations of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). In May and August 2012, NPDI members Germany and the Netherlands organised scientific experts' meetings in Geneva to support the commencement of negotiations.
In his opening remarks, Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, stressed the need for a balanced approach to disarmament and non-proliferation in the global context. He also established a clear link between the work in this NPDI Conference and the review cycle of the universal Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He furthermore welcomed the adoption of the The Hague Joint-Statement coming out of the conference.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the UAE Foreign Minister met Fumio Kishida, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The two sides discussed the bilateral relations and ways to enhance them. They also discussed the resolutions of the NPDI meeting.
After the NPDI Conference, the UAE Foreign Minister held a series of talks with representatives from the Netherlands. He met Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen. The two sides discussed the bilateral relations, especially in the area of trade and boosting the investment between the two countries, as well as the humanitarian situation in Syria and the Syrian refugees.
Sheikh Abdullah also met Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The two ministers reviewed the issues tackled by the NPDI meeting as well as the resolutions. They also discussed the relations between the two countries, especially in the areas of investment, trade, culture and politics. In addition, they exchanged views on important regional issues, most notably Iran, Syria, and the Middle East Peace Process.
The UAE minister stressed that there is joint interest to further strengthen the bilateral relations, encourage mutual investments, and open new markets.
He said that the UAE market is open to Dutch business, as the UAE is an exemplary partner for the Netherlands in the Gulf region.
Sheikh Abdullah said that the Netherlands pledged to remove all obstacles that hamper growth in trade, and the movement of people and capital between the two countries.
After the meetings, the banquet was hosted in honour of the participants. Followed by the press conference attended by the UAE Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherland, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs of Canada.
Below is the statement issued by the Non -Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI):
1. We, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates reaffirm our shared commitment to take forward the consensus outcome of the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and jointly advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agendas as mutually reinforcing processes.
2. We reaffirm our shared commitment to the NPT as the essential foundation for the achievement of nuclear disarmament, as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and as the basis for the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology for those who choose to do so. We stress the importance of universal adherence to the NPT and call on all States not party to the Treaty to accede to it immediately as non-nuclear weapon States.
3. We convened at ministerial level in The Hague with the aim of giving further impetus to our contribution to the NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) to be held in Geneva from April 22nd to May 3rd 2013. We reaffirm our deep commitment to actively implement the Action Plan agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. As individual State Parties and collectively as the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), we will actively contribute to the work of the PrepCom including by sumitting, for further elaboration by all State Parties, working papers on reducing the role of nuclear weapons, nonategic nuclear weapons, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT), the wider application of safeguards, nuclear weapons-free zones and export controls as well as an update of last year's working paper on disarmament and non-proliferation education.
4. We reaffirm that the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is their total elimination. In this regard, we stress the need for systematic and continued reduction of all nuclear weapons, including nonategic nuclear weapons, by all nuclear weapon States, in a pragmatic and step by step approach aiming at their total elimination. While we welcome the ongoing implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by the United States and the Russian Federation, we call upon all nuclear weapon States to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, deployed and non-deployed, in an irreversible, transparent and verifiable way. In particular, we urge the inclusion of nonategic nuclear weapons in any future nuclear disarmament processes.
5. We attach great importance to transparency as a vital confidence-building measure on disarmament. In accordance with Actions 5 and 21 of the Action Plan, we proposed to the Nuclear Weapon States a draft reporting form that aims to provide details regarding their efforts to fulfill their disarmament commitments under NPT Article VI. We will, individually and as a group, continue to encourage the Nuclear Weapon States to take practical steps on transparency concerning their nuclear weapons. We take note of the continuing discussions among the Nuclear Weapon States about the issue of transparency, verification and mutual confidence, in support of their undertaking to report to the 2014 NPT PrepCom. We look forward to the outcomes of the fourth meeting of the Nuclear Weapon States in Geneva, in April 2013, in particular on accelerated implementation of and greater transparency on these issues.
6. The NPDI emphasizes the importance of reducing the role and significance of nuclear weapons in military and nuclear doctrines. To stimulate the debate on this subject, the NPDI has submitted a working paper to the 2013 PrepCom on this topic and will organize a seminar in the margins of the meeting. Steps towards reducing the role and significance of nuclear weapons are important contributions towards the goal of complete nuclear disarmament and will be mutually reinforcing with further quantitative reductions.
7. We reiterate our deep concern and frustration with the continued stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). The CD must agree on and implement a comprehensive Program of Work that will start substantive work on the CD's four core issues. We welcome the outcome of last year's session of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly that could contribute to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament, especially in the view of the continued stalemate in the disarmament machinery as a whole.
Three important resolutions were adopted at the 67th session of the General Assembly in December last year, on the establishment of a group of governmental experts to make recommendations on aspects contributing to a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (67/53); on the establishment of an open-ended working group to develop proposals for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons (67/56); and on the establishment of a High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament (67/39). We hope these new developments give a much needed impetus to the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation agendas.
8. The immediate commencement of negotiations on a verifiable treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices remains a priority for disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. Such a treaty remains an essential step towards a world without nuclear weapons. Pending such negotiations, all States possessing nuclear weapons should declare and maintain a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
9. We also firmly believe that universalization and early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) are essential steps to achieve nuclear disarmament. We welcome the ratification of the Treaty this year by Brunei Darussalam and Chad, bringing the total of ratifications to 159. The recent nuclear test by Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) once again underscores the importance of the ratification and entry into force of the Treaty. We appeal urgently to all countries that have not yet become Parties, in particular to the remaining eight States listed in Annex II of the Treaty, to sign and ratify the CTBT without further delay. The Nuclear Weapon States have a particular responsibility to encourage ratification of the CTBT and we call on them to take the initiative in this regard. Pending the entry into force of the Treaty, we call upon all States to refrain from nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions.
10. Strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the IAEA safeguards system has been a priority of the NPDI since its creation. We strongly promote universal adherence to key non-proliferation instruments. We consider the IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, in combination with an Additional Protocol, to be the international verification standard. We call upon all States that have not yet concluded an Additional Protocol to do so without delay. We stand ready to share our experience and best practices, as well as legal and practical assistance, in concert with the IAEA, in the conclusion and implementation of Additional Protocols. Furthermore we will continue our outreach to call on States, where appropriate, to rescind or amend the Small Quantities Protocol, and to sign and ratify the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
11. Furthermore, we underscore the crucial role of export controls in achieving nuclear non-proliferation obligations under paragraph 2 of Article III of the NPT. We urge all States to establish, develop, and maintain appropriate effective national export controls for nuclear and related dual-use goods and technology, including as required by United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1540. As mentioned in the NPDI working paper for the 2013 NPT PrepCom, the NPDI members stand ready to share their individual experiences in the field of export controls with other State Parties.
12. Recognizing the serious threat of nuclear terrorism, we reaffirm our commitment to work together to strengthen nuclear security including by fully implementing relevant international requirements. We welcome the third Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) which will be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, in less than a year. The members of the NPDI fully support the objectives of the NSS on strengthening nuclear security and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism. We are participating in the preparations for the 2014 Summit and are working towards its successful conclusion. We also welcome the International Conference on Nuclear Security to be convened by the IAEA in Vienna from July 1st -5th, 2013.
13. The NPDI strongly condemns the nuclear test by the DPRK on February 12th 2013, which is a serious violation of UNSCRs 1718, 1874 and 2087, and which constitutes a grave challenge to the NPT. While deploring this third nuclear test, which undermines peace and security in the region and beyond, we welcome the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 2094 on March 7th. We strongly urge the DPRK to sincerely heed the strong warning and condemnation repeatedly expressed by the international community and to comply faithfully and fully with all of the obligations included in all relevant UNSCRs, the NPT and its IAEA safeguards agreement. We also strongly urge the DPRK to refrain from further escalatory actions and provocations including nuclear testing and missile launches or the threat of nuclear weapons' use.
14. [In relation to Iran's nuclear program, we deeply regret the lack of progress in resolving the outstanding issues with the IAEA. We urge Iran to seriously engage with the IAEA. We also deeply regret that no progress was achieved the lack of advancement at the latest meeting with the E3+3 in Almaty. To address the immediate concerns of the international community, we urge Iran to engage with the E3+3 on the proposal tabled in Almaty in February and further elucidated by experts in Istanbul last month in order to reach an agreement on first concrete confidence building steps. We strongly urge Iran to fully comply with its international obligations including IAEA and UNSC resolutions without delay in order to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program. We support the IAEA's essential role in establishing this confidence. We further support the E3+3 seeking a comprehensive, negotiated, long-term settlement to the Iranian nuclear issue, while respecting Iran's legitimate rights to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in conformity with the NPT and its obligations under IAEA and UNSC resolutions.]
15. As an important cooperation and confidence-building measure, we encourage and support the establishment of internationally recognized and effectively verifiable nuclear-weapon-free-zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States of the regions concerned. We also call for genuine and constructive engagement of all States, especially the Nuclear Weapon States in support of this objective.
16. We regret that the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, which is an essential and integral part of the final outcome of the 1995, 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences outcomes, could not be held in 2012. We call for the earliest possible convening of a successful conference with the participation of all States of the region on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at. We support the facilitator in his efforts to realise this and we call upon the States in the region to engage in a spirit of constructive cooperation that will lead to an inclusive, substantive and goal-oriented conference and follow-on steps eventually leading to the establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
17. The members of the NPDI participated in the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that took place in Oslo, Norway on March 4th and 5th 2013. We remain deeply concerned by the risk for humanity represented by the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use. The discussions at the Oslo Conference illustrated once more the devastating immediate and long-term humanitarian effects of a nuclear weapon detonation. We welcome the offer of Mexico to convene a follow-up conference on this issue.
18. We recognize the significant role that civil society can play in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The NPDI is ready to intensify its engagement with civil society organizations in order to attain our common objectives.
The members of the NPDI are further resolved to empowering members of our societies with the necessary awareness, knowledge and skills to make their own contribution, as national and world citizens, to the realization of the global disarmament and non-proliferation objectives. We, therefore, recognize the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation education as an integral part of our joint work. The NPDI welcomes Japan's announcement of launching the "Youth Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons" program and the UAE initiative to support convening workshops for journalists on the subject of disarmament and non-proliferation.
19. We recall the positive atmosphere of the 2012 NPT PrepCom that took place in Vienna from April 30th to May 10th 2012, as reflected in the Chairman's Summary. The NPDI calls on all State Parties to take part in the deliberations of the 2013 NPT PrepCom in Geneva in that same spirit of cooperation and good faith. We are convinced that a successful result at the NPT PrepComs and the Review Conference in 2015 is within reach if the overall goal of the NPT, a world without nuclear weapons, guides the State Parties that will participate in the meeting. It is this goal that brought us together in The Hague this year and that in 2014 will bring us together in Hiroshima.
Available at: http://www.wam.org.ae/servlet/Satellite?c=WamLocEnews&cid=1290004096683&p=1135099400124&pagename=WAM%2FWamLocEnews%2FW-T-LEN-FullNews
3. Angola at International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems
(for personal use only)
Angola will attend the International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems, in Ottawa, Canada, on April 08-12, Angop has learnt.
The Angolan Ambassadors to Austria and Canada, Maria de Jesus and Agostinho Tavares, respectively will represent the country at the event.
The meeting which is being promoted by the International Agency of Atomic Energy, in partnership with the commission of nuclear security of Canada, will discuss issues related to the nuclear security.
The initiative is intended to avoid disasters similar to that one that happened in Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear central and create regulating mechanisms for prevention of accidents.
According to the Ambassador Maria de Jesus, Angola's representative at the International Agency of atomic Energy, the special attention will centre on boosting the international co-operation on the management of emergency.
The meeting will also focus on mechanisms to support the new member countries and the increasing of a legal framework to regulate the emerging programmes of nuclear energy.
The conference follows the previous one held in Moscow, (Russia), in 2006, and in 2009, in Cape town, South Africa.
Available at: http://www.portalangop.co.ao/motix/en_us/noticias/politica/2013/3/15/Angola-International-Conference-Effective-Nuclear-Regulatory-Systems,5081adf6-3db3-4479-b93e-7bb78fffbfb8.html
Westinghouse Electric Co. and Ameren Missouri confirmed on Monday that they will pursue up to $226 million federal funding for a small-scale nuclear reactor in central Missouri.
The companies sought a similar grant last year. But the U.S. Department of Energy instead chose to fund a consortium led by Babcock & Wilcox, a company known for making nuclear reactors for ships and submarines.
The Energy Department last month requested additional proposals for small modular reactors that could begin producing electricity by 2025. Any funding award requires a dollar-for-dollar match from recipients.
Westinghouse on Monday said it sent a letter of intent to the Energy Department. Applications are due July 1, and the government expects to select a single grant recipient in September.
At least one other company, NuScale Power, based in Portland, Ore., and majority-owned by engineering and contracting giant Fluor Corp., has also signaled intent to compete for the funds.
Warren Wood, Ameren Missouri’s vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs, said the Westinghouse-Ameren application was runner-up during the initial round of funding and should compete well again this time.
“The Westinghouse SMR design, we think, is the most advanced and the most likely to be license-able in a short period of time,” he said.
The 225-megawatt Westinghouse small modular reactor is based on the company’s full-size AP1000 reactor that has already been certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is being built in the United States and China.
Ameren and Westinghouse plan to pursue design certification of the smaller reactor and then seek a combined construction and operating license for a plant that would be located next to the utility’s Callaway Energy Center.
St. Louis-based Ameren said there’s no guarantee it will build a second reactor at Callaway, even with federal help. But the small reactors are seen as an option to replace aging coal-fired plants.
The smaller reactors, generally less than a third the size of today’s plants, have been touted by President Barack Obama and the nuclear industry as sources of around-the-clock power that would be easier for utilities to finance and deploy and safer to operate.
Because the plants would be built in modules at a central factory and shipped worldwide, they’re seen as a potential new source of manufacturing jobs — a lure that has drawn support from Missouri politicians.
But opponents of nuclear power question whether promised benefits can be achieved, especially because none of the smaller reactors have been built yet and there’s no guarantee they’ll be economically competitive against relatively inexpensive natural gas.
Available at: http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/ameren-westinghouse-to-pursue-nuclear-funds/article_ee6c9f34-3f65-5288-8e5d-a80acd05050f.html
Nuclear regulators have signed an agreement marking the start of plans to build new reactors in north Wales.
The deal clears the way for Horizon Nuclear Power to submit initial proposals for a new power station at Wylfa on Anglesey.
Horizon's owner Hitachi wants to build new Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) in the UK, including at Wylfa.
ABWR plants are in operation at four sites in Japan, but have yet to be approved in Britain.
The agreement between the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Horizon will be seen as one of the first concrete milestones on the long road to building a new nuclear plant on Anglesey, and at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
It signals the start of the technical process known as the generic assessment design (GDA), which makes a detailed examination of all aspects surrounding nuclear reactors. The review of the designs and final licensing could take several years.
The last new reactor design to be agreed was in December last year for energy firms EDF and Areva, for sites at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and Sizewell at Suffolk.
The process to approve those designs took five years, costing an estimated £35m.
The new deal signed off by the ONR and Horizon-Hitachi ensures that the nuclear developers will foot the entire bill for putting the new ABWR designs under the microscope.
But the bill for assessing the reactor designs is seen as a tiny proportion of what could be an £8bn project for Anglesey.
Horizon's chief operating officer, Alan Raymant said: "Now that the assessment agreements are in place, Hitachi-GE will be able to begin a meaningful preparatory process for their first major submissions to the regulator later this year."
"GDA is a long term and rigorous process, which will ultimately determine whether the regulators will consider the ABWR suitable for construction in the UK."
Ken Sato, the general manager for licensing at Hitachi Europe, added: "We are very pleased to have made such swift progress over the recent months.
"This is a key early step and we look forward to the development of between four and six ABWR reactors in the UK."
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-22104340
After encouraging farmers to adopt organic farming, the Bihar government is now exploring how farmers might benefit from nuclear technology, officials said on Wednesday.
V.B Patel, chairman of the horticulture department of Bihar Agricultural University (BAU) at Sabour in Bhagalpur district, said that nuclear energy could be used in plant breeding and for developing new varieties. Radiation could be used for mutation, he said, and nuclear energy could also be used to increase the shelf life of vegetables like potatoes and onions.
A team of scientists from the BAU is set to visit the Mumbai-based Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India's premier nuclear research organisation next month (May) to explore the possibility of using nuclear energy in agriculture, Mewa Lal Choudhary, vice chancellor of BAU, said.
Choudhary said that BARC scientists have engaged in agricultural research that shows that nuclear energy could help increase the shelf life of fruit like mango and litchi for 48 days. The technology could also aid in altering the nutrients in fruit like banana, thus making for a higher iron content that would be of great use to people with anaemia.
The team of scientists visiting BARC from BAU would understand how nuclear energy could be harnessed for agriculture, Choudhary said.
An official in chief minister Nitish Kumar's office told IANS that the matter has been of great interest to the chief minister.
"It was Nitish Kumar who took the initiative to hold a workshop here Tuesday, allowing scientists and experts of BAU to interact with officials from the New Delhi-based Department of Atomic Energy and the Mumbai-based BARC on the use of nuclear energy in agriculture," the official said.
The official asserted that there was no cause for worry in the move to harness nuclear technology to boost agricultural production and expand the shelf life of vegetables and fruit: The agricultural products would pose no health hazard, he said, as Choudhary added that millions of farmers stood to benefit.
S.F D'Souza, associate director, Bio-Medical Group, Nuclear Agriculture and Bio-Technology, BARC, said that nuclear technology could change farming by bringing about beneficial changes in seed development, tissue culture and preservation techniques.
D'Souza said BARC was working on developing crops that could tolerate changes in climate, and resist certain diseases.
"On the preservation side, we do radiation processing of onions and potatoes to prevent early sprouting and extend shelf life. The chemical process to preserve the litchi fruit has been transferred for commercialization. We have also developed the nuclear process of litchi preservation," D'Souza said.
Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy, employing 81 per cent of the workforce and generating nearly 42 per cent of the state's domestic product, according to the state government.
Last year, President Pranab Mukherjee launched the much-awaited agriculture roadmap of Bihar. Its main objective is to help to bring a "rainbow revolution" in the state in the next five years, boosting production and processing of agricultural and farm goods and pushing up growth rate in the sector.
The five-year agriculture roadmap covers the period 2012-17, with an investment of Rs 1.52 lakh crore. It aims at raising agri-growth to a minimum of seven per cent per year.
Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-04-10/patna/38432963_1_shelf-life-nuclear-agriculture-barc
3. Fukushima May Delay World Nuclear Energy Growth by Ten Years: IAEA Expert
Xinhua News Agency
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The Fukushima nuclear disaster may even delay the growth of world nuclear energy market by ten years, as forecasts have been revised downward repeatedly, a senior expert of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday.
However, this does not mean that the growth of the nuclear energy demand will be reversed. It will continue to grow, said Alan McDonald, program coordinator at the IAEA.
Speaking at the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle conference in Singapore, McDonald said that the IAEA had been constantly revising its growth forecasts upward for the nuclear energy industry amid a rosy picture in the several years before the Fukushima incident in March 2011.
However, the growth forecasts were cut substantially after the incident.
In one of its forecasts made in 2012, the watchdog projected a total installed generating capacity in the range of 456 gigawatts to 740 gigawatts for the world by 2030, compared with 370 gigawatts at the time.
This represents a downward revision by 9 percent and 1 percent from projections made in 2011 for the lower and upper ends of the range, respectively.
If compared them with the projections made before Fukushima, the projections were revised downward by 16 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
"In the lower case, the accident has effectively delayed projected growth by ten years, with the capacity that was projected for 2020 before the accident now being projected for 2030," McDonald said.
Despite the revision, the installed capacity is still projected to grow by 25 percent to 100 percent by 2030, he added.
Some of the industry players said that it could be that people had turned too bullish about the prospects of the industry before the Fukushima incident. One thing or another inevitably weighs on the projections, based on experience from the past, they said.
The growth of the market eventually is determined by whether there is a business case for the nuclear energy in terms of cost and returns, said Geoff Varley, vice president of commercial consulting at NAC International.
The World Nuclear Fuel Cycle is an annual event organized by the London-based World Nuclear Association and the United States Nuclear Energy Institute.
There are now 433 nuclear reactors in operation around the world as of mid-2012, with 104 in the United States, 58 in France, 50 in Japan, 33 in Russia and 23 in South Korea, according to statistics from the World Nuclear Association.
However, Asia is now by far the fastest growing market for nuclear energy. Of the 68 nuclear power reactors under construction now across the world, 46 are in Asia. By March this year, the Chinese mainland has 17 nuclear power reactors in operation and 28 under construction.
China established a strategic plan to develop nuclear power in a bid to optimize its energy market structure, with the installed nuclear power generating capacity projected to grow to 58 gigawatts by 2020, said Yan Jinquan, vice president and chief engineer at Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute.
People now have a more thorough and objective understanding of Fukushima two years after the incident, and industry players and regulators have been reviewing their nuclear development plans and safety requirements, said Tian Jiashu, deputy chief engineer of China National Nuclear Corporation.
"The incident, which happened under extreme conditions, should not stop us from exploring the option of nuclear energy in the long run," he said.
Tian said that China has always put safety first and adopted the highest safety standards in developing nuclear power plants and that it is also prudent in approving new nuclear power projects.
"Nuclear power is an essential part of our long-term national energy strategy, though it only accounts for 1.8 percent of our energy consumption, down from 2.1 percent several years earlier," he said.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-04/10/c_132299033.htm
4. German Nuclear Operators to Pay for $2.6 Billion Waste Site
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German nuclear-power operators will have to pay an estimated 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) for identifying and building an atomic-waste depository, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said.
“The cost of dealing with nuclear waste will be borne by those who produced it,” Altmaier said today in an interview on N24 television. “In the end, it’s also in the interests of the nuclear operators that we identify a depository.” RWE AG (RWE), EON SE and EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG (EBK) currently operate the country’s remaining nine nuclear plants, one of which is shared with Vattenfall AB.
Altmaier, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, is seeking political consensus on energy policy as federal elections approach in less than six months. He is due to meet today with state leaders and the heads of Germany’s main political parties to begin anew the search for a facility to handle the country’s most dangerous nuclear waste amid public opposition to the sole existing provisional site, at Gorleben in Lower Saxony state.
He wants a cross-party commission to draw up criteria for identifying a permanent site by the end of 2015, with an operational facility to be in place by 2031. A draft for identifying the depository should be created “as soon as possible” with the goal of pushing through the law before parliament’s summer break, Altmaier said in a statement today.
Altmaier’s predecessor, Norbert Roettgen, tried and failed to restart the search after holding cross-party talks in November 2011. At that point, Germany, which plans to close all its atomic reactors by 2022, had already spent more than 1 billion euros of taxpayers’ money since the 1980s to determine whether the Gorleben site was appropriate. The previous government of Social Democrats and Greens blocked research at the site for 10 years through 2010.
“In the last 30 years the search has been so difficult because it’s been so controversial politically,” Altmaier said. After Japan’s Fukushima disaster and the decision to shutter Germany’s nuclear plants, “we’re looking for a new beginning.”
Altmaier said that he had pledged no further nuclear waste will be transported to Gorleben “while the search goes on,” and that Germany “will do everything to ensure that no German nuclear transport goes outside the country.”
Gorleben became a focus of anti-nuclear protests after exploration began in 1979 with the aim of setting up a permanent underground storage site. Work was halted with the 2000 nuclear shutdown law brought in the then ruling Social Democrats and Greens.
Merkel, a former minister for the environment and reactor safety in Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government from 1994 to 1998, appeared before a parliamentary inquiry in September 2012 to explain her role in planning the Gorleben facility.
Deutsches Atomforum, a lobby group of the operators of German nuclear power plants, said it saw no legal grounds for funding the search for alternative sites to Gorleben until a final judgment on the former salt mine’s suitability has been made.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-09/german-nuclear-operators-to-pay-for-2-6-billion-waste-site.html
It's called a nuclear pressure vessel and some opponents of the nuclear reactors project at Plant Vogtle say it's been "stranded" at the Port of Savannah since December. Whatever term one uses, the reactor vessel is still at the Port. Westinghouse, which is charge of making parts for the nuclear reactor project told me that in December there was an attempt to move the vessel (which came from Korea) to Plant Vogtle. But there was a problem and the rail car was damaged.
"It's 300 tons and Georgia Power and Westinghouse haven't demonstrated they can actually carry it to the Plant Vogtle site," says Tom Clements from the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. "It is just confusing that they can't move this stranded reactor out of the port, it's just still there on this specialized rail car."
Clements says it's unclear if there are costs for shipping and storage, but wonders if there are, if rate payers will pay the price.
Meanwhile, Mark Williams from Georgia Power says project milestones were met recently in pouring concrete for the reactors. "We poured about 7 thousand cubic yards of nuclear grade concrete base mat vertical place components made on site as we build this reactor."
Williams says the reactor pressure vessel is the component that will hold nuclear material. But Georgia Power says it's not needed yet. "We won't need that until later in the year, so right now it's being safely and securely stored until the time it can be transported from the site."
Georgia power says the plant Vogtle project remains vital for electric generation for customers and the state. but Clements points out the pouring of concrete was about a year behind schedule. He wonders how long a key part will be sitting here. "I think Georgia Power needs to do some explaining about why they can't move this thing out of the Port of Savannah," Clements says.
But Georgia Power says moving the vessel is the responsibility of Westinghouse. A spokesman from Westinghouse told me that since December they have evaluated the problem and ordered new equipment to repair the rail car. But he said he had no schedule on when the equipment will arrive. He did say the reactor vessel is not damaged.
Available at: http://www.wsav.com/story/21924483/key-part-for-nuclear-reactors-still-at-port
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