Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major News and Commentary Military and Civilian Nuclear Activities

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Arab Nation May be Going Nuclear

Arab Nation May be Going Nuclear
January 09, 2010
Military.com|by Bryant Jordan

http://www.military.com/news/article/arab-nation-may-be-going-nuclear.html

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shaw sees potential in nuclear-reactor uprate market

Shaw sees potential in nuclear-reactor uprate market
More U.S. companies are electing to uprate their nuclear reactors, creating a market worth $25 billion, the Shaw Group said. Thirty-seven of the country's 104 reactors have finished or are in the process of raising their generating capacities, with the engineering company taking part in more than half of them, Shaw Chairman Jim Bernhard said. World Nuclear News

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Shaw_eyes_US_reactor_uprate_market-0701104.html

Shaw's chairman Jim Bernhard said that 37 reactors out of the USA's total of 104 had already completed or were in the process of implementing power uprates. He added that Shaw had participated in over half of these uprates, helping to add over 3000 MWe to the grid - roughly the equivalent of three new reactors.

This, Bernhard said, leaves a further 67 American reactors that could potentially be uprated. With the average cost of uprating a unit at $250-500 million, he put the value of this potential market at around $25 billion. Shaw noted that both Exelon and Entergy have announced plans to uprate some of their reactors, to which Shaw already provides fleet-wide maintenance services.


Uprate options

The NRC recognises three categories of power uprates:

'Measurement uncertainty recapture' power uprates, which involve implementing enhanced techniques for calculating reactor power and can typically increase reactor capacity by up to 2%;

'Stretch' power uprates, which usually involve changes to instrumentation settings but are within the design capacity of the plant and can typically add up to about 7% capacity; and

'Extended' power uprates, which involve significant modifications to major plant equipment and can result in up to 20% capacity increases.


Since 1977, the NRC has approved some 124 nuclear power plant uprates, representing about 5640 MWe of added capacity.


Exelon operates the largest nuclear fleet in the USA and the third largest fleet in the world. The company's ten plants - comprising 17 reactors - currently represent some 20% of the US nuclear industry's power capacity. In June 2009, Exelon launched a series of power uprates at its reactors, which in total will add between 1300 and 1500 MWe of additional generating capacity by 2017. According to Shaw, the total cost of these uprates will be in the region of $3.5 billion, making them more economic and far less risky than a new nuclear build project of the same capacity.

Uprates are underway at Exelon's Quad Cities, Dresden and LaSalle plants in Illinois, as well as the Limerick and Peach Bottom plans in Pennsylvania. These are expected to account for almost one-quarter of the new generating capacity. Additional uprate projects at nine other Exelon reactors, beginning this year, will add the remainder of the new capacity by 2017.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A False Nuclear Alarm Joseph Cirincione, Foreign Policy

A False Nuclear Alarm
Joseph Cirincione, Foreign Policy
With its latest editorial calling for more nuclear weapons and more weapons spending, the Wall Street Journal has gone over a journalistic cliff. The serious factual errors in its Jan. 5 screed, "A False Nuclear Start," raise serious questions about the newspaper's credibility and integrity.
Full Article

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/06/a_false_nuclear_alarm

Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels William J. Broad, The New York Times

Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels
William J. Broad, The New York Times
Last September, when Iran's uranium enrichment plant buried inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum was revealed, the episode cast light on a wider pattern: Over the past decade, Iran has quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers across the country.
Full Article

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/world/middleeast/06sanctions.html

Think Again: Nuclear Weapons John Mueller, Foreign Policy

Think Again: Nuclear Weapons
John Mueller, Foreign Policy
President Obama's pledge to rid the world of atomic bombs is a waste of breath. But not for the reasons you might imagine.
Full Article

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/04/think_again_nuclear_weapons

Nuclear Threat Demands a Sustained U.S. Effort

Nuclear Threat Demands a Sustained U.S. Effort
Howard James Hubbard and Leon Lederman, Atlanta Journal Constitution
The end of the Cold War changed the world, and 9/11 changed it again. But despite new threats to our security, we continue to rely on outdated thinking when it comes to nuclear weapons.
Full Article

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/nuclear-threat-demands-a-268753.html

U.S. Nuclear Posture Review Delayed Until March

U.S. Nuclear Posture Review Delayed Until March
Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire
ObamaThe Obama administration will not unveil the results of a major review of U.S. nuclear weapons strategy until March 1, a senior Defense Department official told Congress late last month (see GSN, Jan. 4).

Initially anticipated for release last month, the Defense Department-led Nuclear Posture Review is a major assessment of nuclear forces, strategy and readiness, sometimes dubbed the "NPR." A congressional deadline for submitting the report was subsequently set for the end of January, just prior to the due date for the fiscal 2011 budget request.
Full Article

http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100106_9016.php

Time not right for new Iran sanctions: Chinese envoy

Time not right for new Iran sanctions: Chinese envoy
United Nations (AFP) Jan 5, 2010 - China's UN ambassador Zhang Yesui said Tuesday it is too early to contemplate new sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work, and called for more diplomacy. His comments came after the United States on Monday said "the door is still open" for Iran to meet world demands on its nuclear aims, but warned it was discussing with its allies the "next steps," which c ... more

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Time_not_right_for_new_Iran_sanctions_Chinese_envoy_999.html

South Korean opposition leader seeks revisions to U.S. nuclear pact

South Korean opposition leader seeks revisions to U.S. nuclear pact

South Korea must renegotiate its 1974 nuclear treaty with the U.S. so it can expand its commercial nuclear program, said Lee Hoi-chang, leader of the conservative Liberty Forward Party. South Korea is prohibited from reprocessing spent fuel under the agreement, which will expire in 2014. Some experts, however, think the U.S. may not be amenable to such a move because it could complicate international efforts to scale back North Korea's nuclear program. The Korea Herald (Seoul)
http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2010/01/06/201001060112.asp

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Nuclear Posture Review, now and later By Joshua Pollack

The Nuclear Posture Review, now and later
By Joshua Pollack | 6 January 2010

The long-awaited report of the third Nuclear Posture Review is now scheduled for delivery to Congress on March 1. According to a recent New York Times article, the posture review will consider the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism to be equally as important as the nuclear deterrence mission. It remains to be seen how this mission will be accomplished, but these choices will form the substance of what could be a refreshing departure from tradition.

There is nothing new about any of the three ideas, taken separately. Deterrence is the core mission of strategic nuclear forces. The prevention of nuclear proliferation is enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And preventing terrorism with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons has been a sustained concern of the U.S. government since at least the mid-1990s. Since 2004, when the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1540, keeping WMD out of the hands of "non-state actors" has been, in principle, a global priority.

If the overwhelmingly powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal sufficed to check the spread of nuclear weapons and the potential for nuclear terrorism, then our concerns about these problems wouldn't be growing today."

Connecting nonproliferation to deterrence isn't entirely new, either. A 2009 Strategic Posture Commission report stated that extended deterrence, in the form of guarantees to the allies of the United States and the Soviet Union, "strongly inhibited" nuclear proliferation during the Cold War. The same report also tied counterterrorism to nonproliferation, anticipating "the imminent danger of nuclear terrorism if we pass a tipping point in nuclear proliferation."

Indeed, one way to link deterrence, nonproliferation, and counterterrorism would be to assert, without much further elaboration, that each mission supports the next, in the order above. But this reasoning makes for cold comfort. If the overwhelmingly powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal sufficed to check the spread of nuclear weapons and the potential for nuclear terrorism, then our concerns about these problems wouldn't be growing today.

Fresh thinking is needed.

The Times reports that the posture review will call for added support for collecting intelligence on would-be nuclear smugglers or terrorists and for advancing the science of nuclear forensics. While the timing of the review means that it cannot affect these programs in the fiscal year 2010 budget, it could have an influence in future years.

Still, there are at least two ways that the posture review might quickly and usefully address the threats of nuclear proliferation or terrorism. Neither requires any special technology or innovation. Both are simple, straightforward ideas involving traditional aspects of nuclear posture--nothing too exotic or complex.

The first proposal concerns declaratory policy, an issue I discussed in my October column. According to a Los Angeles Times article, an internal debate is raging over whether to recommend making a statement that the U.S. nuclear arsenal exists solely to deter attack against the United States and its allies. Making this type of announcement comes at little, if any, price and would strengthen Washington's hand in its efforts to reinforce the nuclear nonproliferation regime. It would underscore that U.S. nuclear weapons do not play any coercive role that could be seen as legitimizing proliferation.

The second proposal concerns the security of U.S. nuclear weapons. A 2008 Air Force blue-ribbon review PDF observed that security at the NATO air bases designated capable of hosting tactical nuclear weapons "varies from country to country in terms of personnel, facilities, and equipment," and in most places was well short of Defense Department standards. It recommended the consideration of "consolidation of resources," implying a withdrawal of bombs from less secure facilities. Carrying out a consolidation could help to keep U.S. nuclear weapons away from criminals or terrorists.

There are undoubtedly other ways of trying to address proliferation and terrorism, but some of them should be avoided. One particularly counterproductive idea would be to return to a proposal featured in the 2001 nuclear posture review: to acquire and deploy conventionally armed "strategic strike systems," either in the form of intercontinental ballistic missiles or submarine-launched ballistic missiles. This idea has found little favor in Congress. Regardless, a 2008 report of a panel of National Research Council called for a conventional modification of the submarine-launched Trident missile deemed capable of delivering strikes anywhere in the world against "fleeting targets" such as WMD smugglers or terrorists, even in as little as an hour's time.

With counterterrorism and counterproliferation as features of the posture review, this idea may seem attractive at first glance. But for reasons I examined in detail in a Bulletin article last year, the conventional Trident concept would be, at best, beside the point. Experience with pursuing "high-value targets" has shown that the most persistent difficulties do not involve range, speed, accuracy, lethality, or any other weapons-system characteristic. The main challenge is correctly identifying the target. This point isn't lost on anyone associated with the USS Vincennes-Iran Air 655 disaster of 1988 or the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999. Nor must it be explained to the commanders in Afghanistan who have imposed restrictive rules of engagement on the use of air power after multiple incidents involving civilian casualties.

The development of reliable intelligence on a fleeting target is a painstaking, time-consuming process that requires assets in theater. A prime example is the successful pursuit of the Jordanian terrorist Abdu Musab Al Zarqawi in Iraq. When this sort of high-quality intelligence cannot be had, as in the pursuit of Pakistani Taliban commander Beitullah Mehsud, it is possible to end up shooting at the wrong target, even repeatedly. If anything, relying on long-range strikes would compound the difficulty of correctly identifying targets, since it allows no possibility of pre-attack visual confirmation. Using ballistic missiles also would magnify the consequences of error.

As unorthodox as it may be to incorporate nonproliferation and counterterrorism into a nuclear posture review, the idea could be a net gain for national security. If the drafters make the right choices in deciding how to pursue it, the posture review might have a lasting and constructive legacy.
http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/joshua-pollack/the-nuclear-posture-review-now-and-later

More doubts over Iran's 'nuclear trigger'

More doubts over Iran's 'nuclear trigger'
A major British newspaper published leaked documents purporting to be compelling evidence of an Iranian nuclear-weapons program, but problems in the translation - and belated acknowledgements in the newspaper itself - have damaged the credibility of this "evidence". - Gareth Porter (Jan 6, '10)

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LA07Ak04.html

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

South Korea Consortium Gets $20.4B UAE Nuclear Contract

South Korea Consortium Gets $20.4B UAE Nuclear Contract
Margaret Coker, The Wall Street Journal
A South Korean-led consortium won on Sunday a landmark contract, valued at around $20.4 billion, to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates, in what officials in this Persian Gulf country have said is the region's largest-ever energy deal.
Full Article

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091227-702726.html

Intel Report: Iran Seeking to Smuggle Raw Uranium

Intel Report: Iran Seeking to Smuggle Raw Uranium
George Jahn, Associated Press
Iran is close to clinching a deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan, according to an intelligence report obtained by The Associated Press. The assessment is heightening international concern about Tehran's nuclear activities, diplomats said.
Full Article

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/30/AR2009123000210.html

France Rejects Iran's Nuclear Counter-Proposal

France Rejects Iran's Nuclear Counter-Proposal
Agence France-Presse
France rejects Iran's latest move to set a new deadline to end the standoff over its contested nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday.
Full Article

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jPn8cninMh0Wlab01yoBhYJ_5bOg

Obama's Nuclear-Free Vision Mired in Debate

Obama's Nuclear-Free Vision Mired in Debate
Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
President Obama's ambitious plan to begin phasing out nuclear weapons has run up against powerful resistance from officials in the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies, posing a threat to one of his most important foreign policy initiatives.
Full Article

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-obama-nuclear4-2010jan04,0,2198537,full.story

A Radioactive Situation

A Radioactive Situation
Mark Hibbs, Foreign Policy
Strategists in the United States and Iran are now wrestling with a question central to their high-stakes game of nuclear chicken: Who is Yukiya Amano?
Full Article

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/12/22/a_radioactive_situation

Uncovering Syria's Covert Reactor

Uncovering Syria's Covert Reactor
Gregory L. Schulte, Policy Outlook
Assad"Essentially, no progress..." Thus stated bluntly the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its November 2009 report on the agency’s investigation of undeclared nuclear activities in Syria.

The absence of progress is no fault of the IAEA’s professional cadre of inspectors. Indeed, the IAEA Department of Safeguards has uncovered more than the Syrian government ever wanted to be known about the reactor destroyed by an Israeli air strike in September 2007.
Full Article

http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=24651

Study: Demand for nuclear energy is expected to grow

Study: Demand for nuclear energy is expected to grow
Nuclear power will gain importance amid rising demand for a stable energy supply and concerns about climate change, according to a report from South Korea-based POSCO Research Institute. Emissions-reduction technologies, efforts against resource depletion and environment-friendly vehicles are other promising industries, the report added. The Korea Times
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2010/01/123_58348.html

Report touts nuclear as a safe alternative power source

Report touts nuclear as a safe alternative power source
Lawmakers should permit the expanded use of nuclear energy now that many states require a portion of their electricity to be generated from renewable sources, a National Center for Policy Analysis report concluded. Nuclear is "one of the safest and most reliable forms of energy available, and it emits no greenhouse gases," said H. Sterling Burnett, a co-author of the study. Recycling used fuel could also ease the country's nuclear-waste disposal issues, the report added. Environmental Protection

http://eponline.com/articles/2010/01/04/ncpa-report-nuclear-power-is-safe-could-answer-energy-mandates.aspx