Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

U.S. Airborne Laser Eliminates Target Missile
Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency used its Airborne Laser to eliminate a mock ballistic missile during a test yesterday, Reuters reported (see GSN, Aug. 20, 2009).

The test occurred at 8:44 p.m. Pacific Standard Time at the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range not far from Ventura, Calif., Reuters reported.

"The Missile Defense Agency demonstrated the potential use of directed energy to defend against ballistic missiles when the Airborne Laser Testbed successfully destroyed a boosting ballistic missile," the agency stated.

"This was the first directed energy lethal intercept demonstration against a liquid-fuel boosting ballistic missile target from an airborne platform," it added.

The weapon is carried aboard a converted Boeing 747 and is intended to destroy ballistic missiles in the early stage of flight.

"The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defense, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometers (miles), and at a low cost per intercept attempt compared to current technologies," the agency said (Wolf/Alexander, Reuters, Feb. 12).

Shortly after the first test, the Airborne Laser yesterday successfully targeted but intentionally did not destroy a solid fuel short-range missile, according to an agency press release. The weapon had been used to eliminate an identical missile on Feb. 3 (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Feb. 11).


Boeing 747 uses laser to destroy missile

Boeing 747 uses laser to destroy missile

A U.S. military aircraft, equipped with an airborne laser device, successfully shot down a test missile in the sky off the central California coast Thursday night.

The high-energy laser, mounted on the nose of a modified Boeing 747-400F, was focused on the missile target during its boosting phase. The laser beam burned a hole in the side of the missile.

It was the first time that a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, and is the first time that any system has accomplished destroyed a missile as it was in its boosting phase.

More here:

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy | Foreign Affairs by KA Lieber

The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy | Foreign Affairs
by KA Lieber - 2008 - Cited by 36 - Related articles
Could the U.S. government really destroy all of an adversary's nuclear weapons in a nuclear first strike? Does Washington want that ability? ...


America's Nuclear Strategy: Defensive or First Strike?

America's Nuclear Strategy: Defensive or First Strike?
Apr 18, 2000 ... The systems itemized above are the five essential ingredients of a first-strike capability. The US is vigorously pursuing each one and some ...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Europe's Five "Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States"

Europe's Five "Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States"
Are Turkey, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy Nuclear Powers?
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2010-02-12


Thursday, February 11, 2010

IAEA Suggests Iran's New Enrichment Modest

IAEA Suggests Iran's New Enrichment Modest
George Jahn, Associated Press
AhmadinejadIran expects to produce its first batch of higher enriched uranium in a few days but its initial effort is modest, using only a small amount of feedstock and a fraction of its capacities, according to a confidential document shared Wednesday with The Associated Press.

But the document also indicated that Iran was keeping silent on whether or not it would ramp up production, which would bring it closer to the ability to produce the fissile core of nuclear weapons.
Full Article

* February 10, 2010 IAEA Report on Iran (PDF)
* ISIS Report: Iran's Enrichment for the Tehran Research Reactor

Iran Is Now A Nuclear State

Iran Is Now A Nuclear State
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses tens of thousands of Iranians gathered in Azadi (Freedom) Square in southwestern Tehran today, marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution

Iran is now a 'nuclear state', President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced this morning.
He spoke as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.Today Ahmadinejad told scores of cheering Iranians that the Islamic Republic is capable of producing weapons-grade uranium.

Read more

More News On Iran

'Tense' Iran marks anniversary, confirms nuclear breakthrough -- CNN

Iran Claims Nuclear Gain as Protesters Clash -- New York Times

Ahmadinejad hails 'nuclear' Iran -- AFP

Iran 'makes first batch of 20% enriched uranium' -- BBC

Iran Makes Batch of Highly Enriched Uranium -- Time Magazine/AP

Technical setbacks cause Iran to falter in push to enrich uranium, report says -- Washington Post

US wants UN sanctions resolution on Iran within weeks -- Reuters

US to Target Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps with New Sanctions -- Voice of America

Treasury Dept. sanctions four firms for ties to Iran's arms programs -- Washington Post


IS - China silence signals softening on Iran sanctions -- Yahoo News/Reuters

Renewed focus on China position on Iran sanctions -- Yahoo News/AP

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TVA board nominees support nuclear growth from World Nuclear News by Jeremy Gordon

TVA board nominees support nuclear growth
from World Nuclear News by Jeremy Gordon

Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) proposed expansion of its nuclear power plant fleet is likely to get the backing of its board of directors after four nominees to the board expressed support for nuclear energy during a US Senate confirmation hearing.


Jordan and U.S. Move Closer to Nuclear Pact Washington Seeks Civilian-Cooperation Deal, With Limits, as Prospect of Mideast Arms Race Looms

Jordan and U.S. Move Closer to Nuclear Pact
Washington Seeks Civilian-Cooperation Deal, With Limits, as Prospect of Mideast Arms Race Looms

Jordan is continuing discussions to finalize a civilian nuclear-cooperation deal with the U.S., officials said. The completion of the talks would make Jordan the second Arab state to get nuclear aid from the U.S.

Wall Street Journal, The


Eximbank to financially support nuclear energy exports, exec says

Eximbank to financially support nuclear energy exports, exec says

The Export-Import Bank of Korea seeks to play an important role in nuclear-export business by establishing a lenders group to manage financing for local companies, Chairman Kim Dong-soo said. The financial institution will take part in the United Arab Emirates nuclear energy business and will do what it can to turn South Korea into an industry powerhouse, he added.

Korea Times, The

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wash. lawmaker touts Hanford site as "ideal" for nuclear expansion

Wash. lawmaker touts Hanford site as "ideal" for nuclear expansion
Washington Republican Rep. Norman "Doc" Hastings said he supports the construction of another nuclear energy facility at the Hanford site. Speaking at a clean-energy gathering in Washington state, Hastings said that Hanford is an "ideal" site to expand nuclear production. KNDO-TV/KNDU-TV (Yakima, Wash.)


Yucca Mountain seen as possible reprocessing site Nuclear waste still up in air

Yucca Mountain seen as possible reprocessing site

Nuclear waste still up in air

Republican Senate and gubernatorial candidates in Nevada have stated their support for studying nuclear-waste reprocessing at Yucca Mountain, a week after a plan to store such material at the site suffered a setback. "If the safety precautions are there, we should do it," said U.S. Senate hopeful Danny Tarkanian, who placed reprocessing on top of his list of steps to diversify the state's economy. Las Vegas Review-Journal


Monday, February 8, 2010

Iran moves closer to nuclear warheads

Iran moves closer to nuclear warheads
from The Washington Times stories: News by George Jahn ASSOCIATED PRESS
VIENNA, Austria -- Iran moved closer to being able to produce nuclear warheads Monday with formal notification that it will enrich uranium to higher levels, even while insisting that the move was meant only to provide fuel for its research reactor. Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the Associated Press that he informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of the decision to enrich at least some of its low-enriched uranium stockpile to 20 percent, considered the threshold value for highly enriched uranium. Mr. Soltanieh, who represents Iran at the Vienna-based IAEA, also said that the U.N. agency's inspectors now overseeing ...

Official: Argentina's third nuclear plant to be completed this year

Official: Argentina's third nuclear plant to be completed this year
Work on the Atucha II nuclear power plant in Argentina will be finished by the end of the year, Planning Minister Julio De Vido said. The facility, which is projected to generate about 700 megawatts, will supply about 3% of the country's total electricity. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires


GE Hitachi is looking to build nuclear facility in India's Gujarat state

GE Hitachi is looking to build nuclear facility in India's Gujarat state
GE Hitachi Nuclear said it is eager to construct its nuclear-power project in India's Gujarat state -- one of the sites the Indian government selected for U.S. reactor vendors. The company is seeking to bring in its next-generation 1,520-megawatt Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor model for the venture. The Hindu Business Line (India)

Commentary: Pragmatic rules required to advance nuclear energy

Commentary: Pragmatic rules required to advance nuclear energy
President Barack Obama has emphasized the need to be realistic in the development of energy sources, including nuclear, according to this editorial. Regulatory agencies must follow through on Obama's pledge and craft pragmatic policies to develop and advance nuclear and other clean-energy sources, the editorial argues. The Detroit News


Exelon's Rowe to Serve on Nuclear Waste Disposal Panel

Exelon's Rowe to Serve on Nuclear Waste Disposal Panel

More details are emerging on a plan by the Obama administration to set up a Blue Ribbon Commission to study and develop long-term solutions for storing spent nuclear fuel rods from the nation's power plants (DEN, Jan. 29, Ex-Rep. Hamilton, Scowcroft to Lead New DOE Nuclear Waste Panel), the Phoenix Business Journal reported. The panel, which will be led by former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., and ex-National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, will include 15 commission members. Named to the panel were Exelon President and CEO John Rowe, former Sens. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., ex-FERC commissioner Vicky Bailey and ex-NRC commissioner Richard A. Meserve. The commission was given 18 months to ready an interim report and 24 months to submit the final version, but Hamilton said he hoped progress would "move on a faster track than that."

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said President Obama's endorsement of nuclear power, the commission and higher loan guarantees for construction would "enable the United States to catch up with the rest of the world in building the most reliable way to produce cheap, carbon-free electricity." The announcement of the commission, following news of the raised loan guarantees, rapidly spurred opposition from some environmentalists, Sustainable Business reported.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service said 3,000 letters against nuclear power plants were sent to the White House in 48 hours. The group's president, Michael Mariotte, said Obama "needs to remember what Candidate Obama promised: no more taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power." Ellen Vancko, Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear energy and climate change project manager, said: "At a time when our country is struggling economically, it is a mistake to force U.S. taxpayers to assume financial risks that the private sector will not by guaranteeing tens of billions of dollars in risky loans to an industry with a track record of cancellations and defaults."

Sustainable Business via Reuters.com, Feb. 6; Phoenix (Ariz.) Business Journal, Feb. 5.

DOE news release, Jan. 29.

Dangerous steps in Iran's nuclear dance

Dangerous steps in Iran's nuclear dance
Just days after Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Tehran's nuclear fuel could be processed abroad, he ordered stockpiles of uranium to be enriched to a high degree domestically. Tehran's dualistic diplomacy is designed to increase Iran's bargaining ability in regards to a fuel deal, while proving a point to hawks in the United States. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi (Feb 8, '10)


Iran threat real, but Al-Qaeda danger greater: Clinton

Iran threat real, but Al-Qaeda danger greater: Clinton
Washington (AFP) Feb 7, 2010 - The Iranian nuclear threat is real but the United States faces an even greater danger from Al-Qaeda, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in an interview Sunday. "In terms of a country, obviously a nuclear-armed country like North Korea or Iran pose both a real or a potential threat," Clinton told CNN's "State of the Union", making it clear the Iranians don't yet possess an atomic weapo ... more


Moscow 'concerned' by US-Romania missile shield deal

Moscow 'concerned' by US-Romania missile shield deal
Moscow (AFP) Feb 5, 2010 - Russia's foreign ministry voiced its concern Friday at Romania's plans to host part of a new US missile shield system in Europe, saying it would seek explanations from Europe and Washington. "This is a serious matter which we will be analysing with care," the ministry said in a statement. "Naturally, we are concerned by this. There is a need to obtain clarifications. "We will raise this ... more


Defiant Ahmadinejad orders higher enrichment of uranium

Defiant Ahmadinejad orders higher enrichment of uranium

Tehran (AFP) Feb 7, 2010
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday ordered Iran's atomic chief to begin higher uranium enrichment, raising the stakes in a dispute with the West days after seeming to accept a UN-drafted nuclear deal.

Ahmadinejad's declaration drew immediate fire from Britain, which said it was "clearly a matter of serious concern," while US Defence Secretary Robert Gates called for mounting "international pressure" on the Islamic republic.

In a speech at an exhibition on laser technology broadcast live on state television, Ahmadinejad blamed world powers for the stalemate over the nuclear fuel deal, but left the door open for possible negotiation over the proposal.

"I had said let us give them (world powers) two to three months and if they don't agree, we would start ourselves," he said.

"Now Dr (Ali Akbar) Salehi, start to make the 20 percent with the centrifuges," the hardliner told Iran's atomic chief, who was in the audience, referring to high-enriched uranium required as fuel to power a Tehran reactor.

Britain said that if Iran ploughed ahead with higher uranium enrichment, it would be in breach of five United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"Reports that Iran is planning to enrich some of their fuel to 20 percent level of enrichment are clearly a matter of serious concern," a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry said in a statement issued in London.

Gates, meanwhile, called on the international community to stand united against Iran.

"The international community has offered the Iranian government multiple opportunities to provide reassurance of its intentions. The results have been very disappointing," Gates said after meeting his Italian counterpart Ignazio La Russa in Rome.

"If the international community will stand together and bring pressure on the Iranian government, I believe there is still time for sanctions and pressure to work. But we must all work together."

Analysts called Ahmadinejad's comments an attempt to pressure Washington and drive a wedge between the six world powers, some of whom are still hesitant to back fresh sanctions against Tehran.

"Ahmadinejad wants to put pressure on the West, especially the US. He was responding to those in the West who do not want Iran to strike a deal," Iranian analyst Mohammad Saleh Sadeghian told AFP.

"I think that Iran prefers a swap deal over the option of producing the fuel" of 20 percent enriched uranium itself, he added.

A Western analyst who asked not to be named said Iranian declarations such as Ahmadinejad's on Sunday were attempts to "delay potential sanctions by dividing the six world powers without backing down on the nuclear programme."

World powers fear that Tehran wants to enrich uranium to very high levels for use in an atomic weapons programme, and hence want to remove its low-enriched uranium (LEU) through the UN-drafted deal.

Iran insists its nuclear enrichment drive is purely peaceful.

Tehran and world powers are locked in a stalemate over the UN-drafted deal, which envisages the Iran's 3.5 percent LEU being sent to Russia and France for enrichment to 20 percent and then returned as fuel for the Tehran reactor.

Ahmadinejad insisted that world powers "unconditionally" accept exchanging Iran's LEU for high purity 20 percent enriched uranium to be used as nuclear fuel for the Tehran reactor, which makes medical isotopes.

His statement comes after he indicated in an interview on state television last Tuesday that Iran was ready to send its LEU abroad for conversion into 20 percent nuclear fuel.

Iranian officials have opposed the UN-brokered proposal, saying they would prefer a simultaneous exchange on Iranian soil, a plan rejected by world powers.

Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that if the world powers "come forward and say 'we will exchange (uranium) unconditionally and cooperate on your reactors and medicine'... fine then we will cooperate" too.

Salehi also emphasised that world powers have little time left on a fuel deal with Iran.

"If they do not enter this fuel exchange we have to be ready for 20 percent enrichment," Fars news agency quoted him as saying.


US doubts Iran claim nuclear deal 'close'

US doubts Iran claim nuclear deal 'close'
Ankara (AFP) Feb 6, 2010 - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed doubts Saturday that a deal was close on Iran's disputed nuclear programme, as the UN atomic chief said Tehran presented no new proposals at talks in Germany. The comments come amid growing Western impatience with Iran for failing to respond clearly to a proposal for sending some of its uranium abroad for enrichment, amid fears Tehran may be trying ... more

Iran opens two new missile plants

Iran opens two new missile plants

File image courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Feb 6, 2010
Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi opened two new missile production plants on Saturday, just three days after Iran fired a rocket carrying live animals into space, state television reported.

The plants will produce a ground-to-air missile dubbed the Qaem (Rising) and a surface-to-surface missile dubbed Toofan 5 (Storm), the broadcaster said.

The Qaem is designed to target helicopters at low and medium altitudes, it added.


Indian govt hails test of nuclear-capable missile

Indian govt hails test of nuclear-capable missile
Bhubhaneswar, India (AFP) Feb 7, 2010 - India successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile on Sunday, a defence ministry spokesman said, days after the government proposed a resumption of talks with arch-rival Pakistan. The surface-to-surface Agni-III missile with a range of more than 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles) was fired from Wheeler Island, off the coast of the eastern state of Orissa. "It hit the target with pin-point a ... more