Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major News and Commentary Military and Civilian Nuclear Activities

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Future For “New START” Murky After Election -- Global Security Newswire



WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration appears to face an even more daunting challenge in convincing the Senate to ratify a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty in the wake of this week's election results. How GOP gains in the chamber will impact the pact's chances, though, might not be known for weeks or months (see GSN, Nov. 4).

Proponents of "New START" urged the Senate to quickly bring the treaty to a vote, while skeptics argued for caution and more deliberation.

Read more ....

More News On Calls To Ratify The New Start Treaty

With Republicans gaining Senate seats, arms control advocates worried about nuclear weapons treaty -- CTNow
White House Pushes START Ratification Before New Congress Arrives -- Radio Free Europe
Obama urges Congress to vote on new START treaty by year end -- Xinhuanet
Obama hopes START treaty will pass Congress soon -- AFP
Obama: Hopes Russia arms pact ratified this year -- Reuters
Midterms 2010: Hillary Clinton wants 'lame-duck’ Congress to pass Start treaty -- The Telegraph
Kerry urges START ratification by end of year -- Politico
Russia Fears ‘Reset’ of Relations With U.S. -- Wall Street Journal
Abroad, Fear That Midterm Result May Turn U.S. Inward -- New York Times
National Review: Off To A Lame START -- NPR
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An Uncertain Nuclear Countdown By MATTHEW L. WALD

An Uncertain Nuclear Countdown

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., on the banks of the Connecticut River.Associated Press The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, Vt., on the banks of the Connecticut River.
Green: Business
If the clock is ticking on the lifetime of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, when will it actually close?
As I write in Friday’s Times, Entergy, which bought the plant in 2002, is looking for a buyer because the state Legislature has refused to give the company permission to run it after Vermont Yankee’s initial 40-year license expires in March 2012. (What is more, one of its top opponents in the Legislature was elected governor on Tuesday.)
But if the Legislature does not relent, it may not last even that long.
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President Obama's Midterm Election Press Conference: "Let's find those areas where we can agree."

http://www.youtube.com/user/NEINetwork?feature=mhum#p/a/6/7rE0qpkrxyo

Obama Must Acknowledge Iran's Right to Enrich


Robert Dreyfuss | November 4, 2010
I'm reprinting here my op-ed column that originally appeared in The Diplomat [1], a current affairs journal focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, based in Tokyo.
Sometime in mid-November, it’s likely that the Iran and the United States, along with the rest of the P5+1 world powers, will sit down in either Geneva or Vienna in an effort to restart talks over Iran’s nuclear programme. Unfortunately, it appears that Barack Obama’s administration will go into such talks with a strategy almost guaranteed to fail.
Unless the United States is willing to acknowledge that Iran, a signatory to the Non-proliferation Treaty, has the right to enrich uranium on its own soil, there’s no chance that the negotiations will work. Years of behind-the-scenes Track II, off-the-record discussions between senior Iranian officials and a number of retired US diplomats of the highest rank have shown that only a win-win outcome can resolve the crisis. The ‘win’ that Iran needs is recognition that it has the right to enrich, while the ‘win’ that the United States, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency needs is Iran’s agreement to abide by iron-clad oversight of its work by IAEA inspectors under strict, intrusive new protocols.
Despite his outreach to Iran since taking office in January, 2009, Obama has never once declared that Iran has the right to carry out an enrichment programme. Last June, Senator John Kerry—who is close to the president and who’s advised him since Obama was first elected to the Senate in 2004—told the Financial Times that Iran does indeed have that right. In his laudable Cairo speech that same month, in which the president outlined his vision of better relations between the United States and the Muslim world, Obama said that Iran retained the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.
At the time, I was in Teheran, meeting with Ali Akbar Rezaie, the director general for North and Central Americas at the Iranian foreign ministry, who’d read the Cairo speech very carefully. ‘President Obama didn't say that we have the right to enrich uranium. But he also didn't say that we do not have that right. It’s not clear to us whether he omitted that point intentionally or not,’ Rezaie told me. ‘We don’t know what’s in his mind.’
Sometimes, in diplomacy, creative ambiguity can be helpful. But, in the looming showdown over the Iranian nuclear programme, it’s time for some plain speaking.
Last autumn, in the first meeting between the United States and Iran in three decades, the P5+1 and Iran reached a deal to transfer about two-thirds of Iran’s low-enriched uranium (LEU)—about 1200 kilograms of the approximately 1800 kilos it had then—to Russia and France, where it would be further enriched and processed into fuel rods at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). That deal, intended to serve as a confidence-building measure, had the added benefit of leaving Iran without enough LEU to allow it to build even a single bomb, if it were further enriched to weapons-grade. It could also be argued that the October 2009 accord tacitly accepted Iran’s enrichment programme, since, under its terms, Iran didn’t have to shut it down.
But the deal was vague enough that no one was happy, and it fell victim to Iran’s opaque internal politics, opposed by ultra-hardliners, by the opposition Green Movement and finally by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. Efforts to revive it last spring, in a notably creative diplomatic manoeuvre by Turkey and Brazil, died, too, in part because the United States rejected the Turkey-Brazil proposal in its infancy.
Since then, Iran has continued to stockpile LEU, and it now has more than 3100 kilos. And, apparently convinced that tightened international sanctions will compel Iran to accept a deal even less attractive than the one it ultimately abandoned a year ago, the United States intends to propose that Iran transfer between 1800 and 2000 kilograms of its LEU stockpile out of the country—about 50 percent more than proposed last year.
According to weapons experts, it requires about 1000 kilograms of LEU, if refined to weapons grade, for one bomb. That means that the new proposal is muddled at best, since it still leaves Iran with more than enough enriched uranium for a bomb, if it so chooses to go down that route, yet it offers Iran no improvement on the deal it accepted and then rejected a year ago. Meanwhile, it still remains a confidence-building measure only, leaving the hard work of actually dealing with the core of the problem to future negotiations.
Yet by putting all of his cards on the table—i.e., by telling Iran that it can maintain its programme in exchange for inspections that can guarantee it isn’t seeking a nuclear weapon—Obama could once and for all test Iran’s willingness to reach a fair settlement to end the stalemate.
Of course, it still won’t be easy to achieve a happy outcome. Both Iran and the United States are beset by hardliners who brook no compromise with the other side. Ayatollah Khamenei, as an autocrat, perhaps can more easily overcome or suppress dissenters. Obama, on the other hand, must face down a passel of neoconservatives, pro-Israel hardliners and Republicans who’d assail any deal that leaves Iran’s enrichment programme intact, even under strict supervision. And, in the wake of massive Republican gains in Tuesday’s election, Obama’s freedom of movement is now even more constrained. His conservative opposition is gearing up for a push at the beginning of next year for Obama to speak more forcefully about military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, and according to the New York Times the White House is already debating whether the president ought to start emphasizing the military option now.
The Obama administration argues that tough new sanctions are hitting Iran’s economy hard. And that’s true, as far as it goes. Internal opponents of Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, including Mir Hossein Mousavi (who ran against Ahmadinejad in 2009) and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (the wily, billionaire ex-president who was Mousavi’s ally) say that sanctions are hurting, and they blame Ahmadinejad’s ‘adventurous’ foreign policy for cutting off Iran’s economy from Western investment and technology.
But it’s extremely unlikely that sanctions, no matter how onerous, can persuade Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to surrender Iran’s nuclear programme, since they are capable of using a formidable array of police and paramilitary units to suppress political unrest, strikes and protests over unemployment and inflation.
All this means that a breakdown in the next round of talks could result in an extremely dangerous standoff. Iran, for its part, might draw increasingly into itself, demanding that its population tighten its belt and endure worsening problems in order to defend the purity of the Islamic revolution. And the United States might throw up its hands, abandon Obama’s efforts to engage Iran and start a countdown to military confrontation. That’s why it’s worrisome, indeed, that the White House hasn’t come up with anything new to offer Iran this time around.

Links:
[1] http://the-diplomat.com/2010/11/04/obama’s-hopeless-iran-
strategy/

Friday, November 5, 2010

Energy Infrastructure Security: Pipelines by William (Tim) Shaw, PhD, CISSP, Senior Consultant - Cyber SECurity Consulting

http://www.pennenergy.com/index/research-and_data/oil-and_gas/product-display/7452962202/products/pennenergy/research/Petroleum/HSSE/reports/Energy-Infrastructure-Security-Pipelines.html

Sign of the Times: Hearings on “Scientific Fraud” of Global Warming Expected FireDogLake

So the Republicans run and win a campaign in a treacherous economic environment, when people are desperate for something tangible to improve their situation in life. And the Republicans will start that new era by putting science on trial.
Fresh off a dramatic victory in which it retook the House leadership, the Republican Party intends to hold major hearings probing the supposed “scientific fraud” behind global climate change.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder related the news in a little-noticed article Wednesday morning.
The effort is a likely attempt to out-step the White House on energy policy moving forward. Legislation on energy and climate change reform, one of President Barack Obama campaign promises, has yet to materialize, though Obama’s EPA recently classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
Holding hearings would please the Republicans’ conservative base, which increasingly doubts the scientific basis for global warming — especially human-induced global warming — and provide a reflection of the new GOP’s tenor.
What this Scopes Monkey trial for climate change won’t do is create one new job or improve one life in America. Well, maybe some climate denier whose new book could get a bump.
If show trials are really the answer the GOP thinks they have to the question of how to govern the country, this House majority could be a blip. More at:
http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/11/03/sign-of-the-times-hearings-on-scientific-fraud-of-global-warming-expected/
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Areva signs three deals with China, eyes EPR sale

Will supply 20,000 tons of uranium to CGNPC for $3.5 bln
* Industrial agreement with CNNC for used fuel and recycling
* Still hopes to sell two additional EPRs to China

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE6A32HW20101104

Wide support shown for PSEG Nuclear's Early Site Permit application, a first step toward building new reactor

CARNEYS POINT TWP. — There was wide support shown here Thursday at a public hearing on PSEG Nuclear’s application to the federal government for an Early Site Permit, the first step that could lead to the construction of a new nuclear reactor in the county.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which regulates the operation of the nation’s nuclear power plants, gathers comment as part of its application review.

“The NRC process works better when a broad group of interested stakeholders provides information to the agency,” said Gregory Hatchett of the NRC.

The review of the Early Site Permit application, which was filed by PSEG Nuclear on May 25, takes about 30 months.

It takes two parallel tracks. One is a safety review and the other an environmental review.

The safety review is handled by the NRC and does not include a request for public comment. The environmental review does seek public input such as what was offered Thursday. The environmental review not only focuses on land, air, water and wildlife, but includes the socioeconomic impact on a community that hosts a nuclear plant.

In two sessions at Salem Community College — one in the afternoon and one in the evening — nearly 30 people spoke and the majority offered strong support for PSEG Nuclear moving ahead with adding a fourth — and possibly a fifth — reactor at its generating complex on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

PSEG Nuclear already operates the Salem 1, Salem 2 and Hope Creek units there. They comprise the second largest commercial nuclear complex in the U.S.

“I think it’s important for you to know that Public Service is a very good neighbor to us,” Mayor Ellen Pompper of LAC told the NRC representatives.

She noted that no resident in the township has voiced any objections about the possibility of a new reactor being built.

Pompper said PSEG Nuclear has a good record of communication with the township.

Construction of a new reactor would mean jobs and a a positive economic spin-off in Salem County where the jobless rate is now above 10 percent.

“Any growth would only help our situation,” said Brian Duffy, chairman of the Salem County Chamber of Commerce. “PSEG has proven itself to be a great partner and neighbor.”

It has been estimated that if a new reactor were built it could provide up to 4,000 construction jobs at its peak and when finished provide about 600 permanent jobs.              

The cost of a new reactor varies widely, but most estimates range between $10 and $15 billion.                                                    
                                                                                                                         
PSEG Nuclear is already Salem County’s largest employer with more than 1,500 workers.

“We operate our plants within a culture of safety and transparency,” said Tom Joyce, president and chief nuclear officer for PSEG Nuclear. “We encourage our employees to raise issues and to be open on how we can do things better. There are always lessons to be learned. Our success is made possible by our employees.

“There are no surprises. Not in our operations and certainly not with our stakeholders. There is no new nuclear, without good old nuclear.”

Representatives from environmental groups, business leaders and public officials were among those who spoke Thursday afternoon and evening offering support.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney called for construction to move ahead. Mannington Mills Inc. Chairman of the Board Keith Campbell also offered a strong endorsement to the PSEG proposal.

The Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders has officially gone on record backing PSEG’s Early Site Permit application and possible expansion at the Island.

Questioning the permit application was Matt Blake of the American Littoral Society who was speaking on behalf of a coalition of groups. Blake told the NRC panel he questioned a plan involving PSEG Nuclear and the Army Corps of Engineers for the swap of 84 acres of land at the Island to make room for the new reactor.

Also, one speaker raised questions about water permits needed for the plants.

If the Early Site Permit is approved by the NRC, that is only one of many OKs from the state and federal government the utility would need before ground could be broken at the Island.

The utility would also be able to “bank” the application for up to 20 years if it is approved. That way, the utility could decide when the time is right to build — if it decides to move ahead. PSEG Nuclear has not yet committed to building a new reactor.

Also, depending on what design the utility might choose, either one or possibly two reactors could be built.

Once a draft environmental impact statement and the safety review are completed on the application another public hearing will be held.

Public comment on the Early Site Permit application will be accepted in writing by the NRC through Dec. 14.


http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2010/11/wide_support_shown_for_pseg_nu.html

Constellation Energy closes Unistar deal with EDF Baltimore company no longer in new nuclear business

A deal to transfer Constellation Energy Group's stake in a nuclear development company to its French partner, EDF Group, closed Wednesday, according to documents filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last month, Constellation agreed to sell its 50 percent stake in Unistar Nuclear Energy to EDF for $140 million, giving EDF sole ownership of the joint venture and its plans to develop a third unit at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland.

The deal called for EDF to transfer 3.5 million shares it owns, valued around $110 million, to Constellation and give up its seat on the Constellation board. EDF designee Samuel Minzberg has resigned.  More at:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-constellation-edf-deal-closes-20101104,0,5438442.story
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Exelon may bid on Vermont nuclear plant

Constellation, Exelon among potential bidders for Vt. plant
Constellation Energy Group, Exelon and NextEra Energy may bid for Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, analyst Brian Chin said. Entergy said it was considering selling the plant, months after state lawmakers agreed to its 2012 shutdown. "We will aggressively negotiate with buyers for extension of employment to all current employees as a condition of any sale," Entergy said. Crain's Chicago Business/Reutershttp://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20101104/NEWS11/101109909/exelon-may-bid-on-vermont-nuclear-plant
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Burmese Defector Reveals Truth About Junta's Nuclear Ambitions By: Simen Saetre | The Independent

A senior missile scientist who defected from Burma after leaking secrets about the junta's suspected nuclear programme has revealed how senior generals were personally involved in plans to develop a weapons system.
In his first in-depth newspaper interview since defecting seven months ago, Sai Thein Win, a major in the Burmese army, said he attended four presentations where the nation's nuclear ambitions were revealed. He gives a rare insight into the shambolic, demoralising conditions imposed on scientists, and reflects on the consequences of his flight on the family he has left behind. The interview was conducted just days before Burma holds its first elections for 20 years, which have been condemned as rigged by rights groups and the international community.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/burmese-defector-reveals-truth-about-juntas-nuclear-ambitions-2125746.html

close window Close * NOVEMBER 4, 2010, 9:47 A.M. ET NRG Energy: See DOE Decision On Nuclear Loan Guarantee In Few Weeks

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20101104-713044.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_middleHeadlines

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Obama: Let’s join forces on energy

President Barack Obama vowed today to find middle ground on energy issues with Republicans in the newly transformed Congress.
Although sweeping proposals to tackle global warming are too controversial to pass on Capitol Hill, Obama held out hope that Democrats and Republicans could forge consensus on some smaller plans to advance cleaner-burning natural gas, electric cars and nuclear power.
“When it comes to something like energy, what we’re probably going to have to do is say ‘here are some areas where there’s just too much disagreement . . . but let’s not wait; let’s go ahead and make progress on those things where we do agree.”
A prime candidate, Obama said, could be initiatives designed to promote the use and development of natural gas, which produces fewer carbon dioxide emissions when burned than coal.
“We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country,” Obama said. “Are we doing everything we can to develop those?”
Similarly, he noted, Congress can do more to encourage the use and development of electric cars that aren’t reliant on liquid transportation fuels.
Nuclear power could be another area for consensus, Obama said. “There’s been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases,” he said. “Is that an area where we can move forward?”
Republicans in control of the House next year are sure to butt heads with the Obama administration over the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other stationery sources. But Obama insisted that lawmakers can find a way to help move the country toward cleaner energy sources.
“Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” he said. “It’s not the only way. It was a means, not an end. I will be looking for other ways to solve this problem.”
Obama suggested that locking like-minded Republicans and Democrats in a conference room would do the trick.
“I think the smartest thing for us to do is to see if we can get Democrats and Republicans in a room who are serious about energy independence and are serious about keeping our air clean and our water clean and dealing with the area of greenhouse gases,” Obama said.
Policymakers can “find ways that we can solve these problems that don’t hurt the economy, that encourage the development of clean energy in this country, that in fact may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and new jobs that put us in a competitive posture around the world.”
http://fuelfix.com/txpotomac/2010/11/03/obama-lets-join-forces-on-energy-policy/
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Powerful industry group chief sees chances to block EPA climate rules

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/127473-powerful-industry-chief-group-sees-chances-to-block-epa-rules

Nuclear Industry Ponders Next Step for Waste

Industry awaits new approach for nuclear wastehttp://enr.ecnext.com/coms2/article_powo101103NuclearIndus
 

Industry observers are looking at how the Obama administration plans to handle permanent nuclear-waste storage after it decided to abandon the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, set up by the administration, is heading discussions on future nuclear-waste policy. "It's certainly [going to be] a starting point for whatever happens," said Rod McCullum, director of the Nuclear Energy Institute's used-fuel program. Engineering News-Record
 
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The Will and the Wallet Budget Insights for Foreign Affairs and Defense Policy Expecting the Unexpected: Defense and Foreign Affairs Budgets in the New Congress


Not all Congress’ are alike.  And this one is likely to be a unique mix of the old and the new when it comes to defense and international affairs spending. The consequences for defense and international affairs budgets and for the future of US global engagement will be striking.
On the defense side, it looks, at first glance, like business-as-usual.  HASC Chairman Ike Skelton is gone, but the memory of how the committee does much of its business will linger on.  The tone in the House will be significantly different.  On the ideological side, there will be an aggressive push on such issues as Iranian sanctions and endgame, the start of an Afghanistan build-down, missile defense, terrorism, support for Israel, and getting tough with China.  The incoming Republican leadership have already made that clear.
On the money, though, business for the HASC and for the defense appropriators will look much the same.  The administration will send up an FY 2012 budget that asks too much for defense, and the House committees will want to match, even raise this opening bid, to ensure members’ preferences are met.   Leadership and membership changes on these committees will not change that ages-old process and all the Tea Party opposition to earmarks in the world won’t keep them out of the bill.
The same cannot be said for the foreign affairs committees.  The switch from Berman to Ros-Lehtinen at the HFAC and Lowey to Granger at the HAC-SFO ensure a change both in tone and in substance.  All the above ideological agenda could come to the fore in the HFAC, along with such issues as future relations with Cuba.
And here, Tea Party concerns are likely to add support to a general Republican distrust of the State Department and, especially, of foreign assistance. The Berman agenda of foreign aid reform is probably a dead letter now. And the Obama administration’s goal of doubling foreign assistance, already in doubt, will not even tempt the new majority at the State/Foreign Operations subcommittee.
Pressures from outside the committees will have a big impact on how this plays out. Things may be quite different at the broader budget level.  Deficit reduction politics is coming, driven by real economic necessities and the politics of a “deal.”  Don’t look for the conservatives and the Tea Party to come out of the gates with full-throated support for high levels of defense spending.  They want smaller government, lower deficits, less debt, and lower taxes, and they want these things now.
The politics of this debate will be confusing and ugly for the next year.  The lame duck may put the FY 2011 issue off the table, just to get the old crew out of town.  But the new crew is going to wrestle the FY 2012 budget at great length.  And, given the reality that the Republicans do not control the Senate or the executive branch, they cannot get their way on this bigger budgetary agenda without cutting a deal.
And a deal is only possible if everything is on the table, including defense.  Foreign policy funding will pay an awful price, and there is likely to be a broad willingness to let that happen, sadly. But, as the President’s debt commission and the Rivlin-Domenici commission (at the Bipartisan Policy Council) have signaled for months, a Democratic-Republican deal will only happen if all the spigots are turned off together.
So watch in the next six months for the worm to turn, even though the path will be confusing.  Foreign policy budgets have reached their high mark, in all likelihood, implying a strong need for a reassessment of how State and USAID carry out their missions, a process starting with the forthcoming Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.  And, for all the desires of the House committees, defense budgets have also peaked and will start down in the next year, too, forcing a much-needed rethink of US military missions and the way in which the US uses its military tools in the post-Iraq/Afghanistan War issue.
Should be an interesting year.
Gordon Adams is a Professor in the US Foreign Policy Program at the School of International Service, American University.  He is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center.  For media inquiries, contact him at gadams@american.edu.
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S.Korea may send troops to UAE over reactor contract

S.Korea may send troops to UAE over reactor contract

by Staff Writers Seoul (AFP) Nov 3, 2010 Seoul is considering sending about 150 soldiers to the United Arab Emirates to protect South Korean companies and workers who will be building nuclear power plants there, an official said Wednesday. An international consortium led by the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp last December won a 20.4-billion-dollar deal to build four nuclear power plants in the Middle Eastern country.
Under the biggest single contract Seoul has ever won abroad, South Korean firms including Samsung, Hyundai and Doosan Heavy Industries will build four 1,400-megawatt reactors, the first of which will begin production in 2017.
Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young and senior military officials met lawmakers of the National Defence Committee on Wednesday and sought their support for the UAE mission, said an aide to committee chairman Won Yoo-Chul.
"The troops will also be helping the UAE's military training programmes and conducting joint military drills," he said, adding UAE military officials requested the troop deployment after a visit to Seoul earlier this year.
"They were impressed by the performance of South Korea's special military units back then... and asked us to help train their own troops," he said.
The official said Seoul would likely deploy commandos or marines.
Suspected Al-Qaeda militants Tuesday sabotaged an oil pipeline in Yemen operated by the state-run Korea National Oil Corporation.
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EU battles to lock down radioactive waste forever





Brussels (AFP) Nov 3, 2010 Europe offered new plans Wednesday to lock away forever lethal radioactive waste, but the proposals attacking hopelessly inadequate disposal facilities drew a stinging rebuke from environmentalists. Half a century after atomic power was first produced in Britain, the European Union's nuclear energy-producing countries stand accused of future negligence without a single "deep geological disposal" site equipped to withstand up to an estimated one million years of decay.
As a result, the EU's executive arm tabled for the third time legislative proposals that would see states pushed to build the kind of facility deep in the earth's crust that it says scientists claim is the only way to protect nature's balance.
"We have to make sure that we have the highest safety standards in the world to protect our citizens, our water and the ground against nuclear contamination," said EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, specifying that depths should be "a minimum of 300 metres (990 feet)."
The proposals immediately fell foul of anti-nuclear Greenpeace, whose "dirty energy" campaigner Jan Haverkamp termed them "sub-standard."
"It would take an engineering genius to safely bury white-hot, highly-dangerous nuclear waste deep underground for longer than mankind has been on the planet," he said.
"We fear a disposal facility could rupture high-level nuclear waste into the water table for hundreds of thousands of years."
Quite simply, added leading German Green EU lawmaker Rebecca Harms, the plans "do not address citizens' concerns given the danger posed by radioactive waste."
Oettinger acknowledged that two similar initiatives were previously batted away by states, but insisted this one "will not be blocked" under post-Lisbon treaty majority voting.
The commission is targeting adoption next year, and said states would then have four years to nail down a "concrete timetable" for constructing facilities, including "the financing schemes chosen."
The commission wants nuclear power plant operators "to put money aside for the financing of future disposals."
Producers would not be allowed to export nuclear waste to countries outside the EU for final disposal.
Current schemes offering so-called "interim storage" are given a lifespan of "maximal 50-100 years," the commission said, meaning waste "has to be retrieved and repackaged."
Spent fuel and radioactive waste "need continuous maintenance and oversight," it said.
As the material is typically near the surface, "there is in addition a risk of accidents, including airplane crashes, fires or earthquakes."
Each year, 7,000 cubic metres (247,000 cubic feet) of "high-level" waste that cannot be re-used are produced in the EU, and by 2020, a definitive solution must be found for 1.8 million cubic metres.
Once the rules are adopted, Brussels would be able to fine states that miss targets.
Finland plans to have the sort of repository the commission says science recommends operational in 2020, Sweden in 2023 and France in 2025, Oettinger's office said.
There are 143 nuclear power reactors in use across 14 of the EU's 27 states, with another two, Italy and Poland, planning to build their first.
Not every country would need to host a disposal site, should cross-border public support emerge for sharing.
Most European nations have settled on maintaining nuclear energy at the core of their power needs for coming generations, as oil threatens to run dry and new green technologies have yet to deliver their full potential.
The first nuclear plant to enter service in the EU was Calder Hall, which came on line in northwest England in 1956.
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Scarcity Of New Energy Minerals Will Trigger Trade Wars




China supplies the world with a lot of those rare earth elements, like neodymium, and will have little or none to export if it moves ahead with its wind power plans.
http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Scarcity_Of_New_Energy_Minerals_Will_Trigger_Trade_Wars_999.html Boulder CO (SPX) Nov 04, 2010 It's not hard to argue in favor of alternatives to fossil fuels these days, but one popular argument - domestic energy security - may be standing on very shaky legs. A lot of rare metals are needed to make photovoltaic panels, rare earth magnets for wind generators, fuel cells and high-capacity batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. But most industrialized nations, including the United States, are almost entirely dependent on foreign sources for those metals. The only way this is going to change is if there is more domestic exploration and mining.
"There's a misunderstanding in the public about moving to alternative energy and moving from mining, which can't be done," said James Burnell of the Colorado Geological Survey.
There is a long list of scarce metals needed for alternative energy and transportation. Metals like gallium, indium, selenium, tellurium, and high purity silicon are needed to make photovoltaic panels.
To make batteries there's zinc, vanadium, lithium and rare earth elements as well as platinum group minerals for fuel cell-powered vehicles. One of the biggest players in the scarce metals game is China, and they are starting to play hard ball, says Burnell.
China is preparing to build 330 giga-watts worth of wind generators. That will require about 59,000 tons of neodymium to make high-strength magnets - more than that country's annual output of neodymium.
China supplies the world with a lot of those rare earth elements, like neodymium, and will have little or none to export if it moves ahead with its wind power plans.
"So the source for the West is problematical," said Burnell. Trade wars are on the horizon, he predicted. Yet policy makers and the public seem only superficially aware of the problem.
"It is obvious that Japan was upset by the practical pause of rare earth export by China in late September," said Yasushi Watanabe of the Institute for Geo-Resources and Environment in Tsukuba, Japan.
New sources of these critical metals are needed, said Watanabe, as well as new methods for extracting the rare elements from different kinds of rocks.
"Extraction methods of metals from new minerals and materials are not well established," said Watanabe. "We need to develop new (refining) and smelting methods for new type ores."
We also need to find those ores and start exploiting them, said Burnell. That means more mining. It's the only way we can stay competitive in the new energy future.
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NATO, Russia must 'bury ghosts' at landmark summit:




http://www.spacewar.com/reports/NATO_Russia_must_bury_ghosts_at_landmark_summit_chief_999.html Moscow (AFP) Nov 3, 2010 NATO's chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen Wednesday called on the alliance and Russia to "bury the ghosts" of past Cold War enmity at an upcoming summit to be attended by President Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian president is to attend NATO's Lisbon summit on November 19, marking a major thawing in relations after the crisis caused by the war between Russia and the pro-Western ex-Soviet state of Georgia in 2008.
"I think that the summit will send a clear message to the Russian people. NATO does not see Russia as an enemy. We see Russia as a partner of strategic importance," Rasmussen said on a visit to Moscow.
The "summit is a real chance to turn the page once and for all to bury the ghosts of the past," the secretary general added, speaking after talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In a bid to take relations to a new level, NATO has invited Moscow to join its proposed new missile defence shield, but Moscow has still voiced suspicions over its purpose, despite alliance assurances that it was not aimed at Russia.
"NATO is trying to develop a NATO-based territorial missile defence system and we would very much like to cooperate with Russia in that respect," Rasmussen said.
Medvedev stressed last month Moscow needed to hear more about the project and Rasmussen insisted the alliance was in no way pressuring its former Cold War-era foe.
"We do not want to impose a specific missile defence architecture on Russia," he said.
"Today, I suggested a procedure, a way forward and I hope we can agree it at the summit."
Lavrov said that Russia wanted to see "responsible, far-sighted decisions" being taken at the summit.
He said there should now be a switch "from the stage of overcoming the consequences of the Cold War to building a true strategic partnership."
Previous US plans to deploy an anti-missile system in former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe angered the Kremlin, despite Western assurances they were aimed at states like Iran.
Medvedev hailed an improvement in ties, saying after his talks with Rasmussen that "overall, relations between Russia and NATO have become more productive and intensive."
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Ahmadinejad slams Russia for 'selling out to Satan'

Ahmadinejad slams Russia for 'selling out to Satan'

by Staff Writers Tehran (AFP) Nov 3, 2010 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Russia on Wednesday, saying it had "sold out" Iran to arch-foe the United States by cancelling a deal to supply S-300 ground-to-air missiles. "Some people who are under the influence of Satan (the United States) thought that if they unilaterally and illegally cancel some defence agreements that they have with us, it will hurt the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said in reference to the missile deal between Moscow and Tehran.
"They went and sold us out to our enemies by unilaterally cancelling the agreement for which they have been paid," he said at a public rally in the northeastern city of Bojnourd broadcast live on state television.
"I want to tell them on your behalf that we consider the deal to still be valid. They should execute it. If they don't, the Iranian people will seek its rights, the losses and the fines on it," he told a cheering crowd.
The remarks were Ahmadinejad's first direct reaction to Moscow's decision to cancel the delivery of the S-300 missiles.
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Iran says nuclear swap must be based on Brazil-Turkey deal



http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=247854211242866212 Tehran (AFP) Nov 3, 2010 Iran said on Wednesday that any nuclear fuel swap with the major powers must be based on an agreement it signed with Brazil and Turkey, dismissing reports a revised proposal was on the table. "If the Vienna group is ready for negotiation over the fuel swap... it would be based only on the framework defined in the Tehran Declaration," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state news agency IRNA.
Mottaki was reacting to reports that the six major powers which have been seeking to allay international concerns over Iran's nuclear programme have been drawing up a new fuel swap deal to replace one proposed last year.
Under the deal drafted in October last year by the UN nuclear watchdog, Iran would have received fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran from France and Russia in return for shipping out most of its stockpiles of low enriched uranium.
After a prolonged stalemate over the proposal, Brazil and Turkey brokered a modified agreement in May but the United States rejected it, arguing it failed to take into account additional uranium enriched in the meantime and led the Security Council in imposing a fourth package of UN sanctions.
Last month, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said any new fuel swap deal would be more onerous than the one on the table last year as Iran needed to be accountable for its persistent defiance of Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment.
"In order to live up to the responsibilities that they have made and to lift any sanctions, they would have great responsibilities," Gibbs said on October 28.
"The responsibilities get greater each and every day even as the sanctions impact their economy more and more."
Gibbs spoke after the New York Times reported that Washington and its European allies were preparing a new, more onerous offer for Iran than the one proposed last year.
The new offer would require Iran to send more than 4,400 pounds (1,995 kilogrammes) of low enriched uranium out of the country, an increase of more than two-thirds from the amount required under the deal proposed last year.
Iran and the major powers are set to hold fresh nuclear talks later this month after a year-long hiatus. The world powers want the talks to focus on Iran's overall nuclear programme.
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Japan Achieves Third Ballistic Missile Intercept


http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Japan_Achieves_Third_Ballistic_Missile_Intercept_999.html
 

Kauai HI (SPX) Nov 04, 2010 - The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) achieved its third ballistic missile intercept using a Raytheon Standard Missile-3. During Thursday's test, which marked the 18th SM-3 intercept, the SM-3 Block IA missile engaged and destroyed a medium-range ballistic missile target more than 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Personnel at the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on K ... more
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Russian MPs cool on missile treaty after US vote: official

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Russian_MPs_cool_on_missile_treaty_after_US_vote_official_999.html


Moscow (AFP) Nov 3, 2010 A Russian parliamentary committee has withdrawn its recommendation to ratify a new nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States after the results of the mid-term polls, an official said Wednesday. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in April but the accord has still to be ratified by the Russian lower house, the State Duma, or the US Senate.
The passage of the treaty -- which envisages major nuclear weapons cuts -- through the Senate already looked complicated before the elections and the polls have seen Republicans pick up seats at the expense of Democrats.
"The foreign affairs commission has taken this decision (to withdraw its recommendation)," said the chairman of the Russian Duma's foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev.
"If the 'lame duck' senators from the old make-up cannot do this in the next weeks then the chances of ratification in the new Senate will be radically lower than they were until now," he told the Interfax news agency.
The decision means the committee will restart the process of reviewing the treaty.
By early Wednesday, the Republicans had 46 seats in the US Senate against 51 for the Democrats out of 100 seats. US Senate ratification for presidential treaties requires 67 votes, with Republicans traditionally less enthusiastic on diplomatic advances with Russia.
The new treaty is a cornerstone of a much-touted "reset" in relations under Obama and the failure of the legislative chambers to ratify the treaty risks turning into a major diplomatic embarrassment.
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