Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major News and Commentary Military and Civilian Nuclear Activities

Friday, January 15, 2010

Taiwan firm put on watch list after sales to Iran

Taiwan firm put on watch list after sales to Iran
Taipei (AFP) Jan 6, 2010 - Taiwan has placed a local company on a watch list after the firm sold specialised equipment to Iran, an official said on Wednesday. "The company is on an observation list, which means it must obtain prior export permits, after it imported 108 pressure sensors from Europe and sold them to Iran in March 2008," said an official at the Bureau of Foreign Trade. Pressure sensors can measure al ... more

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Taiwan_firm_put_on_watch_list_after_sales_to_Iran_999.html

Murdered Iran atomic scientist mired in mystery

Murdered Iran atomic scientist mired in mystery
Tehran (AFP) Jan 13, 2010 - "Hezbollahi" or staunch supporter of Iran's regime, active backer of the opposition, even apolitical scientist -- the political affiliation of murdered atomic scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi was unclear on Wednesday. Official media and regime hardliners reacted to Tuesday's deadly bombing by calling the victim "a revolutionary teacher who was martyred," state television reported, while Tehra ... more

http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Murdered_Iran_atomic_scientist_mired_in_mystery_999.html

France, Kuwait sign nuclear cooperation deal

France, Kuwait sign nuclear cooperation deal
Kuwait City (AFP) Jan 14, 2010 - Kuwait and France signed on Thursday a cooperation agreement for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, officials said. The oil-rich emirate had announced plans to set up a civilian nuclear project mainly to produce power and also established a national committee for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. "This is the first step of cooperation and to share experience in the nuclear field," the ... more

http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/France_Kuwait_sign_nuclear_cooperation_deal_999.html

S.Korea signs deal to build nuclear reactor in Jordan

S.Korea signs deal to build nuclear reactor in Jordan
Seoul (AFP) Jan 14, 2010 - South Korea has agreed to build Jordan's first atomic research reactor, just two weeks after winning a landmark 20.4 billion dollar deal in the United Arab Emirates, officials said Thursday. The contract, estimated at 200 billion won (178 million dollars), is to build a five megawatt reactor in Jordan by 2014, the South Korean science ministry said. The consortium that won the deal is le ... more
http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/S.Korea_signs_deal_to_build_nuclear_reactor_in_Jordan_999.html

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Iran accuses US, Israel of murdering nuclear scientist

Iran accuses US, Israel of murdering nuclear scientist

Tehran (AFP) Jan 12, 2010 - A leading Iranian nuclear scientist was murdered in Tehran on Tuesday in a rare bomb attack that the government quickly blamed on "mercenaries" in the pay of archfoes the United States and Israel. The daylight killing came amid an increasingly bitter standoff between Iran and world powers over Tehran's controversial nuclear drive, which the West suspects is masking an atomic weapons programm ... more

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iran_accuses_US_Israel_of_murdering_nuclear_scientist_999.html

German govt. rows over nuclear revival

German govt. rows over nuclear revival
Berlin (UPI) Jan 12, 2009 - The German government is bickering over how many nuclear power plants it should save from closure. When Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union was re-elected in a team with the pro-business Free Democratic Party in September 2009, it was widely believed that nuclear would get a quick boost. Both parties had campaigned in favor of nuclear power, arguin ... more

http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/G...evival_999.html

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ukraine's Nuclear Nostalgia (PDF)

Ukraine's Nuclear Nostalgia (PDF)
Mykola Riabchuk, World Policy Institute
Editor's Note: Ukraine agreed to relinquish nuclear weapons left on its soil after the collapse of the Soviet Union and to forego their acquisition in the future, but some Ukrainians increasingly question whether that decision benefited the nation. In this article, Mykola Riabchuk argues that Ukraine's nuclear nostalgia, stemming from the perceived threat of Russia and the feeling that Ukraine is being ignored by the West, is irrational and distracts society from tackling real political and economic problems. "Ukrainians are not politically mobilized on the issue of acquiring nuclear arms," Riabchuk writes, "yet they occasionally regret that nuclear weapons were surrendered. This is a discrepancy between the rational and emotional, between the reasonable recognition of objective international and domestic constraints and the feelings and displays of insecurity from abroad." Riabchuk's article offers important insights into the politics and psychology of nuclear disarmament and proliferation.
Full Article
http://www.carnegieendowment.org/static/npp/pdf/riabchuk_wpj.pdf

Iran Formally Demands Uranium Proposal Changes, Official Says

Iran Formally Demands Uranium Proposal Changes, Official Says
Global Security Newswire
Iran rejected key terms of an International Atomic Energy Agency proposal for enriching the nation's uranium in its official response to the plan late last month, a U.S. nonproliferation official told Politico yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 8).
Full Article
http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100111_7675.php

Global Implications of the U.S.-India Deal

Global Implications of the U.S.-India Deal
George Perkovich, Daedalus
US-IndiaEditor's Note: The U.S.-India nuclear deal, signed in October 2008, remains in limbo as U.S. and Indian civil nuclear legislation face scrutiny in both countries before the deal can be made operational. In a special issue of Daedalus on the "Global Nuclear Future," George Perkovich explores the implications of the U.S.-India deal and how it transformed into an agreement by the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) exempting India from nonproliferation rules. Although the United States and India undermined the cause of nonproliferation and disarmament, Perkovich argues, all members of the NSG were ultimately complicit in the deal. Now, they should all feel compelled to cooperate in the refurbishment of the nonproliferation regime.
Full Article

http://carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=24674

Iran places trust in 'passive defense'

Iran places trust in 'passive defense'
Contrary to reports claiming Iran wanted to hide the existence of nuclear facilities from the outside world, it actually wanted Western intelligence to conclude that it was putting some of its key nuclear facilities deep underground. Tehran believed it needed to convince United States and Israeli military planners that, in the event of an attack, they wouldn't be able to find and destroy a number of Iran's nuclear sites. - Gareth Porter

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LA13Ak06.html

Iran's Ahmadinejad dismisses nuclear sanctions

Iran's Ahmadinejad dismisses nuclear sanctions
Tehran (AFP) Jan 9, 2010 - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that further UN Security Council sanction will not deter Tehran from pursuing its controversial nuclear programme. The hardliner also vowed that Iran will not back down "one iota" in the face of international pressures over the atomic work, which the West fears may be a cover for weapons development despite Iran's persistent denial. ... more

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Irans_Ahmadinejad_dismisses_nuclear_sanctions_999.html

Iranian Nuclear Plant

Iranian nuclear plant
Baghdad (AFP) Jan 11, 2010 - The Iraqi government on Monday called for "explanations" from the UN nuclear watchdog on a reported plan for Iran to build a nuclear reactor near the border between the two countries. "The Iraqi government has asked for explanations from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on information concerning the construction of an Iranian nuclear reactor near the border with Iraq," it said. ... more


http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iraq_wants_explanations_on_Iran_border_nuclear_plant_999.html

New EU foreign chief distances herself from anti-nuclear past

New EU foreign chief distances herself from anti-nuclear past

Brussels (AFP) Jan 11, 2010 - The EU's new foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, distanced herself Monday from her anti-nuclear past, as European lawmakers grilled her about her suitability for the post. "The relevance of the 1970s is not the relevance of 2010," she told deputies in Brussels. "I'm not a member of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and have not been a member of CND for 28 or 29 years. "I do not ... more
http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/New_EU_foreign_chief_distances_herself_from_anti-nuclear_past_999.html

US Biofuels Policies Flawed

US Biofuels Policies Flawed
Houston TX (SPX) Jan 12, 2010 - The United States needs to fundamentally rethink its policy of promoting ethanol to diversify its energy sources and increase energy security, according to a new policy paper by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. The paper, "Fundamentals of a Sustainable U.S. Biofuels Policy," questions the economic, environmental and logistical basis for the billions of dollars in federa ... more

http://www.biofueldaily.com/reports/US_Biofuels_Policies_Flawed_999.html

India plans construction of energy parks to raise nuclear generation

India plans construction of energy parks to raise nuclear generation
India seeks to build up to five energy parks by 2032 in an effort to boost its nuclear-power capacity. The country intends to have 35,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2020 and 60,000 megawatts by 2032, said Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of the nation's Atomic Energy Commission. Press Trust of India

http://www.ptinews.com/news/462704_India-to-have-five-nuclear-energy-parks-by-2032

U.S. to work with industry on nuclear-plant construction

U.S. to work with industry on nuclear-plant construction
The White House intends to assist the nuclear sector with construction of a power plant as part of efforts to combat climate change and diversify energy supplies, climate adviser Carol Browner said. "The president believes that nuclear needs to be a part of our energy future," she added. Officials have been studying ways to increase nuclear energy's role in the Senate's climate bill to gain support from Republicans. Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60B04920100112

Yucca Haunts Admin's Lagging Efforts on Nuclear Waste Study Panel

Nuclear-waste panel delays won't affect new projects, NEI says
Delays in the appointment of a commission that would recommend a waste-disposal alternative to Nevada's Yucca Mountain should not hamper the industry's plans for additional facilities, said Derrick Freeman of the Nuclear Energy Institute. But the industry and electricity ratepayers still pay fees on generated power, adding to a waste fund that lacks a goal. "If the administration does defund or eliminate Yucca, we should be able to suspend our fees or put them into an escrow account," he said. The New York Times/Greenwire

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/01/11/11greenwire-yucca-haunts-admins-lagging-efforts-on-nuclear-24943.html

Monday, January 11, 2010

Libya moves forward with civilian nuclear energy program

Libya moves forward with civilian nuclear energy program
Libya has taken "practical measures" in its bid to utilize nuclear energy for power and desalination purposes, according to the country's Atomic Energy Institute. Committees have been formed to draft a nuclear law and to identify potential sites for nuclear power plants, said Ali Mohamed Gashout, an executive with the institute. World Nuclear News

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Libya_moving_forward_with_nuclear_power_plans-0801107.html

Israeli General, Formerly Head of Nuclear Weapons, Denies Iran as a Nuclear Threat

Israeli General, Formerly Head of Nuclear Weapons, Denies Iran as a Nuclear Threat

Posted: 10 Jan 2010 05:56 PM PST

Needless to say, it isn’t often that a retired, well respected general disputes official policy. But war leader and “pillar of the defence establishment” Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam has gone public with his views that Iran is a very long way from having nuclear weapons capability. Eilam contends that the official view is “hysterical” and attributes it to political objectives on behalf of both the military and government leaders.

From the Times Online (hat tip reader Marshall):

A general who was once in charge of Israel’s nuclear weapons has claimed that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capability”.

Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam…believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons…

Israeli forces have been in training to attack Iranian nuclear installations and some analysts believe airstrikes could be launched this year if international sanctions fail to deter Tehran from pursuing its programme.

Eilam, who is thought to be updated by former colleagues on developments in Iran, calls his country’s official view hysterical. “The intelligence community are spreading frightening voices about Iran,” he said.

He suggested that the “defence establishment is sending out false alarms in order to grab a bigger budget” while some politicians have used Iran to divert attention away from problems at home.

“Those who say that Iran will obtain a bomb within a year’s time, on what basis did they say so?” he asked. “Where is the evidence?”…

According to well-placed defence sources, Israel is speeding up preparations for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear sites…

But Eilam argues “such an attack [against Iran] would be counter-productive”.

“One strike is not practical. In order to delay the Iranian programme for three to four years, one needs an armada of aircraft, which only a super-power can provide. Only America can do it.”

Readers may have taken note of the fact that the US is now of the view that Iran’s long-term stability is in doubt and is more actively looking to back the opposition. But as we found with Iraq, reports from the opposition and/or exiles seeking US aid can be less than reliable (remember the claim that US troops would be welcomed with flowers? Since when has a foreign occupier been welcomed by the locals?). Moreover, efforts that are so open that the US newspapers are writing about them are likely to backfire. The opposition then can be portrayed as a tool of the US, and painted as serving the interests of Israel, not the Iranian people.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/01/isreali-general-formerly-head-of-nuclear-weapons-denies-iran-as-a-nuclear-threat.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A new approach for Obama on Iran, not new deadlines Tony Karon

A new approach for Obama on Iran, not new deadlines
Tony Karon
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100110/OPINION/701099962/1080

The US president Barack Obama, when confronted with tough choices, tends to split the difference. Those instincts have been shown over the past year as he first allowed himself to be painted into a corner by setting a January 1 deadline for Iran to accept western demands on its nuclear programme and then manoeuvred adroitly out of that same corner as the New Year dawned.

The Obama administration had threatened “crippling sanctions” should the Iranians fail to comply – and the US House of Representatives has already passed legislation aimed at cutting off Iran’s gasoline imports by punishing its third-country suppliers — but last week, Team Obama abruptly changed its tune.

“We want to keep the door to dialogue open,” said the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, adding that “although the United States has avoided using the term deadline, it cannot wait indefinitely to hear from Iran.” That took the wind out of the sails of hawks proclaiming that Tehran had squandered its final chance, and would now face a sharp escalation of economic pressure. Instead, Clinton said, the administration would focus its sanctions efforts on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, the key player in the current crackdown on opposition protesters, “without contributing to the suffering of ordinary [Iranians], who deserve better than they are currently receiving”. In other words, don’t expect to see Mr Obama try and apply gasoline sanctions.

The pretext for this shift was the resurgence of street protests in Iran during the Shiite commemoration Ashura. With the opposition proving its resilience, the administration could argue that adopting sanctions such as the gasoline embargo that would hurt ordinary Iranians was unconscionable, and would strengthen the hand of those in power. But the deeper reason for the shift was simply that shutting off engagement and ratcheting up economic pressure was clearly not going to change Tehran’s position on its nuclear programme.

Iran’s domestic political turmoil has limited its ability to engage with the West; even the opposition flatly rejected the terms being demanded by the US and its allies; and China and Russia – and a host of neighbouring countries – oppose a significant increase in sanctions. The sticks-and-ultimatums track required by his deadline would have left Mr Obama, a year from now, being pressed by Israel and its hawkish allies in Washington to recognise the failure of sanctions and order the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities, setting off a potentially disastrous war.

The US will still press for sanctions in the weeks ahead, but it knows support will be limited. China’s ambassador to the UN made clear last week that Beijing believes there is no need for new sanctions at this point. While western officials complain that this position is simply a product of China’s trade interests in Iran, Beijing simply does not share Washington’s view of the situation. American journalists visiting China recently report that most of that country’s foreign policy advisers don’t believe Iran has a military nuclear programme. They argue that engagement should be given years to integrate it into the international mainstream.

The Chinese may have a point. Despite the continuous stream of innuendo and hype in western media outlets, there is no credible evidence that Iran is currently at work building nuclear weapons. What is reliably known is that Iran is assembling, under the rubric of a civilian nuclear programme, the “breakout” capacity to build a weapon. Its lack of transparency has raised questions over its ultimate intentions. The rest is hypothesis, and it’s worth noting that those who are most shrill in proclaiming that Iran is one to three years away from building a nuclear weapon have been saying the same thing since 1992.

Sure, Iran has sufficient low-enriched uranium that if it were reprocessed into highly enriched uranium it would be enough for a simple nuclear bomb. But that’s a very big if. To do so, Iran would have to kick out inspectors, unambiguously declaring its intentions, and then still have a year or two to go before being able to create and deploy a weapon. The Obama administration has lately begun acknowledging that Iran is only currently using about half of its centrifuge enrichment capability.

In short, there’s no imminent danger of Iran building nuclear weapons, and the fact that the West approached the recent nuclear-fuel negotiations on the basis that separating Iran from its uranium stockpile by the end of this year was somehow a pressing matter of international security may have contributed to their failure.

The fact that Mr Obama has walked back from his dysfunctional deadline is to be welcomed. But it’s worth remembering why he had adopted it in the first place. He came into office having promised to seek engagement with Iran in order to break the nuclear stalemate, but immediately faced a barrage of scepticism from hawkish interests in Washington. It was in dealing with the impatient Israelis that Mr Obama first came out with the idea that he’d give engagement until the end of 2009 to show results. And to further placate the hawks, he warned that tough sanctions would follow if Iran was not forthcoming. Perhaps with an eye over his right shoulder, he also refrained from adjusting the demands western powers were making of Iran, despite Tehran having made clear that it had no intention of relinquishing the right to enrich uranium for energy purposes no matter who was asking.

Mr Obama, in other words, had arrived at his Iran policy by splitting the difference with the hawks, pursuing engagement, but in pursuit of the same demands as his predecessor, on a limited deadline that effectively created ultimatums backed by threats. Rather than rushing to impose new sanctions, the Obama administration would be better served by thoroughly reviewing its Iran policy, basing it on a realistic appraisal of any “threat” from Iran, analysing the failures of the past and realistic goals, and developing an approach whose goal is to integrate the Islamic Republic into a set of security arrangements aimed at promoting regional stability.