Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Koreas on collision course, big powers must step in: experts

Koreas on collision course, big powers must step in: experts
Seoul (AFP) May 27, 2010 - Limited clashes between North and South Korea are possible in their worst standoff since 1953 but their superpower patrons are likely to pull them back from fullscale military conflict, analysts say. Tensions have risen sharply since a multinational investigation concluded last week that a North Korean submarine fired a heavy torpedo to sink the South Korean corvette that sank on March 26 wi ... more http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Koreas_on_collision_course_big_powers_must_step_in_experts_999.html

UN rift widens over Brazil-Turkey deal with Iran

UN rift widens over Brazil-Turkey deal with Iran
Brasilia (AFP) May 27, 2010 - A bitter rift between the world's top powers led by the United States and emerging nations Brazil and Turkey widened Thursday as differences over how to tackle Iran's suspect nuclear program erupted into sharp exchanges. Turkey accused critics of a deal brokered with Iran last week for a nuclear fuel swap of being "envious" of the "diplomatic success" it represented - in an implicit swipe a ... more

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama’s Letter to Lula Regarding Brazil-Iran-Turkey Nuclear Negotiations

I am really, really curious, to know how all the folks who now claim
that a 1200 kg transfer of Iranian LEU to Turkey is worthless, are
going to explain this:

Obama’s Letter to Lula Regarding Brazil-Iran-Turkey Nuclear Negotiations

Japan, China in Spat over Nuclear Arsenal Agence France-Presse

Japan, China in Spat over Nuclear Arsenal Agence France-Presse

Japan has urged China to cut its nuclear arsenal or at least to stop stockpiling more atomic weapons, prompting a strong reaction from Beijing at their foreign ministers' talks, officials said Sunday.
Full Article

* ArmsControlWonk: Did Yang Jiechi Lose it?

Ban Nuclear Tests in Middle East Pierre Goldschmidt and Nima Gerami, The Guardian

Ban Nuclear Tests in Middle East Pierre Goldschmidt and Nima Gerami, The Guardian

Beyond the war of words between the US and Iran at the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) review conference in New York lies the potential of a catastrophic nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Fears are high that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capability, its neighbours will wish to follow.
Full Article

NPT Conference Mulls Draft of Possible Measures

NPT Conference Mulls Draft of Possible Measures
Michael Adler, Agence France-Presse
Israel and Iran would be expected to attend talks on making the Middle East free of nuclear weapons, according to a draft final document of a UN non-proliferation conference released Tuesday.
Full Article

* 2010 NPT Review Conference Draft Final Declaration (PDF)

* ISIS Report: NPT Review Conference: Final Days

* Two More States to Ratify Test Ban Treaty

Nuclear Warhead Total Revealed James Blitz, Financial Times

Nuclear Warhead Total Revealed James Blitz, Financial Times

Britain revealed for the first time yesterday the full size of its atomic weapons-arsenal in an effort to boost international confidence in the scope and nature of its independent nuclear deterrent.

But while the announcement allowed William Hague, the foreign secretary, to bring the UK into line with recent reform of nuclear weapons policy in the US, it still left key questions unanswered on the future of the submarine-launched deterrent.
Full Article

* FAS Strategic Security: Britain Discloses Size of Nuclear Stockpile: Who's Next?

India to establish working group with Japan on nuclear energy

India to establish working group with Japan on nuclear energy
from NEI SmartBrief
India and Japan have reportedly decided to establish a working group to study the possibility of cooperating in nuclear energ -More-

Vietnam official: Russia is picked to construct nuclear plant

Vietnam official: Russia is picked to construct nuclear plant
from NEI SmartBrief
Vietnam has picked Russia to build its first nuclear plant, said Vuong Huu Tan, director of Vietnam's Atomic Energy Institute -More-

Israel's Bomb Out of the Shadows by Jonathan Cook

Israel's Bomb Out of the Shadows by Jonathan Cook

Israel faces unprecedented pressure to abandon its official policy of "ambiguity" on its possession of nuclear weapons as the international community meets at the United Nations in New York this week to consider banning such arsenals from the Middle East. Israel's equivocal stance on its atomic status was shattered by reports on Monday that it offered to sell nuclear-armed Jericho missiles to South Africa's apartheid regime back in 1975.


Monday, May 24, 2010


from Clusterstock by Gus Lubin

Barack Obama

Obama released a statement this morning showing full support for South Korea's retaliation plan for the destruction of the Cheonan.

Technically, we're now one illegal ship movement by North Korea away from nuclear war.

From the White House:

President Obama fully supports President Lee in his handling of the ROKS Cheonan incident and the objective investigation that followed. The measures that the government of the Republic of Korea announced today are called for and entirely appropriate. The Republic of Korea can continue to count on the full support of the United States, as President Obama has made clear.

Specifically, we endorse President Lee’s demand that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior. U.S. support for South Korea’s defense is unequivocal, and the President has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression. We will build on an already strong foundation of excellent cooperation between our militaries and explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the Peninsula as part of our ongoing dialogue.

As President Lee stated in his address earlier today, the Republic of Korea intends to bring this issue to the United Nations Security Council. We support this move. Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice are each consulting very closely with their Korean counterparts, as well as with Japan, China, and other UN Security Council member states in order to reach agreement on the steps in the Council.

In response to the pattern of North Korean provocation and defiance of international law, the President has directed U.S. government agencies to review their existing authorities and policies related to the DPRK. This review is aimed at ensuring that we have adequate measures in place and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate.

The U.S. will continue to work with the Republic of Korea and other allies and partners to reduce the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability. Secretary Clinton is currently in Beijing and she will travel to Seoul for discussions with President Lee and his senior advisors on May 26 before reporting back to the President on her consultations in the region. Secretary Gates is in close contact with ROK Defense Minister Kim and will meet with him and other counterparts at the June 4-6 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. President Obama and President Lee agreed to meet in Canada at the time of the G-20 Summit.

Don't miss: What you need to know about the Korean economy >

Iranian uranium agreement submitted to IAEA

Iranian uranium agreement submitted to IAEA
from World Nuclear News by Warwick Pipe

Iran has formally submitted details of its nuclear fuel swap agreement, reached in negotiation with Turkey and Brazil, to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

China's Troubling Iran Ties Richard Weitz, The Diplomat

China's Troubling Iran TiesRichard Weitz, The Diplomat

For the first time, the Chinese government has indicated that it will vote in favour of another UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its suspicious nuclear activities.

Of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Council, Beijing has shown the greatest reluctance to adopt additional sanctions on Tehran, perhaps not surprising considering China buys a considerable amount of Iranian oil and sells the Islamic Republic refined gasoline as well as conventional weapons and consumer goods. Indeed, Beijing only consented to the latest round of sanctions after the draft resolution largely left these unaffected.

Read Full Article

Italy's Enel Might Invest in Bulgaria's Nuclear Plant Project 'Belene'

Enel may invest in Bulgarian nuclear project, PM says
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said Italy's Enel has shown interest in taking part in Bulgaria's Belene nuclear project. A decision whether to invest will come after Enel's experts take a look at the project's condition, Borisov said. Novinite (Sofia,

Bangladesh, Russia sign nuclear power deal

Nuclear talks between Russia, Bangladesh are moving forward
Bangladesh, Russia sign nuclear power deal
Russia is completing an agreement to build nuclear power plants in Bangladesh, an official said. "We will require signing a few more agreements with Russia to go for the final implementation," said the official, who declined to be named. The Washington Post/The Associated Press

Brazil hints US should accept fuel swap

Brazil calls on U.S. to approve Iran's nuclear-fuel swap
The U.S. should acknowledge Iran's nuclear-fuel swap because it included provisions given by President Barack Obama, Brazilian officials said. This comes as the Obama administration is seeking a fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Iran. The proposal contains aspects outlined in a letter Obama dispatched to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a Brazilian spokesman said. Press TV (Iran)

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons Chris McGreal in Washington The Guardian, Monday 24 May 2010

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons
Chris McGreal in Washington
The Guardian, Monday 24 May 2010

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa. Photograph: Guardian

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

A spokeswoman for Peres today said the report was baseless and there were "never any negotiations" between the two countries. She did not comment on the authenticity of the documents.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. (http://www.amazon.com/Unspoken-Alliance-Is...8991&sr=8-1) At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads". Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."

* guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010