Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Latest Qinshan unit goes commercial

Qinshan Phase II unit 3 has become China's 13th nuclear unit to enter commercial operation, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced. 

China currently boasts some 23 reactors under construction, mostly of indigenous design but also including four Westinghouse AP1000s at Sanmen and Haiyang, and two Areva EPRs at Taishan. Construction is pencilled in to start on many more over the next few years.
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Coercing Iran Stop it, says Paul Pillar

Ken Pollack’s article in these spaces about policy toward Iran is worth close attention, mostly because he explains clearly some of the reasons that the use of military force as a supposed solution to the problem of Iran’s nuclear program would be folly. Not only would such a resort to war elicit a wide assortment of reactions by Iran and others that would be highly harmful to U.S. interests; such an act would be at least as likely to speed up Iranian development of a nuclear weapon as to slow it down, given subsequent Iranian determination to redouble efforts in that direction. There are additional detrimental consequences that could be mentioned, but the ones Pollack adduces are enough to show that this course of action would be a disaster for the United States. 
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Tidal Power: The Next Wave? By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

Over the next few years, we can expect to see huge advances in our ability to harness power from the ocean’s waves and tides, a new report from IHS Emerging Energy Research, a Cambridge, Mass., consulting firm, predicts.
A tidal energy turbine developed by Atlantis Resources.Getty Images A tidal energy turbine developed by Atlantis Resources.
Until recently, that sector has had limited popularity and mixed success, even as the number of installations generating power from other renewable resources like the wind, sun and biomass has grown rapidly.
“The global ocean energy sector is at a turning point,” the company’s report says. More than 45 wave and tidal prototypes are expected to be ocean-tested in 2010 and 2011. Only nine were tested in 2009.
More important, perhaps, while previous test projects tended to be operated by small, boutique firms, the giants of hydropower, which have decades of experience drawing power from rivers, are now getting into the ocean business. More at:

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Iran admits some of its nuclear scientists spied for the West

A top-level Iranian government official has admitted that some scientists and technicians in Iran’s nuclear energy program were successfully lured into spying for Israeli and Western intelligence agencies in the past. The disclosure, which was characterized as “stunning” by the Associated Press, marked the first-ever open admission by the Iranian government that the country’s nuclear energy program has been penetrated by foreign spies. It was made last weekend by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Vice President and Director of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization. According to the Iranian government-controlled Fars News Agency, Vice President Salehi told an audience that individual scientists and technicians working in Iran’s nuclear program had used their access to classified relevant information to benefit from “foreign purchases and commercial affairs”. The Fars report was vague and made no specific reference to the nature of the compromised information or the precise timing of the alleged espionage. But it did note that Mr. Salehi made clear that, although “[i]n the past personnel had easy access to information”, this “is not the case anymore now”. More at:
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Mumbai Terror Scout Shot Footage of Indian Nuclear Site from GSN Daily News

A man who admitted to scouting out target locations for the Mumbai terror attacks said he also shot footage of India's Bhabha Atomic Research Center and its living quarters for Pakistan's intelligence service, the Times of India reported today (see GSN, Oct. 19).
Former Chicago resident David Headley told Indian investigators he was asked by Major Iqbal, his manager at Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, to scope out the Mumbai-based nuclear facility and its residential area as a possible attack site. "He gave me the mobile phone camera (and) some counterfeit money," said Headley, who is now in U.S. custody. More at: http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20101022_2723.php
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Airborne Laser Test Again Ends Unsuccessfully from GSN Daily News

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency's experimental aircraft-mounted laser, in a test yesterday off the coast of Southern California, failed for the second consecutive time to eliminate a target missile, Reuters reported (see GSN, Sept. 13).
Initial understanding of the test failure is that the Airborne Laser Test Bed, located in the front of a converted Boeing 747, followed the target missile's emissions plume but then failed to pass the information to another "active tracking" system as required before the laser could be activated, MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said.
"The transition didn't happen," Lehner said. "Therefore, the high-energy lasing did not occur" (Jim Wolf, Reuters, Oct. 21).
Agency officials will work to identify the cause of the powerful chemical laser's "transition failure," according to a press release. "The intermittent performance of a valve within the laser system is being examined" (U.S. Missile Defense Agency release, Oct. 21). M

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Senators Taking Seats in November Could Affect "New START" Vote from GSN Daily News

Several Democratic senators are expected to vacate their seats right after next month's midterm election, enabling their replacements to potentially ensnare an Obama administration bid to win Senate approval of a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia before other newly elected lawmakers take their seats in January, Foreign Policy reported (see GSN, Oct. 20).
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April signed "New START," which requires their nations to each cut deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads, down from the maximum of 2,200 allowed by 2012 under an earlier agreement. They must both also restrict their active nuclear delivery vehicles to 700, with another 100 platforms allowed in reserve.
The pact is awaiting a ratification vote in the Senate, where the 67 votes required for passage must include at least eight Republicans in this Congress. A significant number of Republicans have expressed reservations over the treaty, and anticipated party gains could raise the number of required GOP supporters to between 16 and 18 in the next Congress if the ratification process dragged into 2011, according to Foreign Policy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for a vote during the current Congress's "lame-duck" session between the Nov. 2 election and Christmas; however, lawmakers elected in Delaware, Illinois and West Virgina are set to take seats immediately after next month's vote, making their positions on the treaty key to its ratification prospects.
Democrat Chris Coons, now the leading Senate candidate in Delaware, has not taken a public stance on the arms pact. Republican rival Christine O'Donnell, though, pledged in an e-mail statement to "look very carefully at any treaty before the U.S. Senate."
"There is nothing wrong in principle with reducing nuclear weapons as long as it is verifiable and we ensure that we can meet all of our defense requirements. There are several concerns with New START treaty as it stands before the U.S. Senate right now," O'Donnell wrote in the statement, referring to missile defense language in the pact, Russian efforts to curb Iranian atomic activities and the Obama administration's commitment to refurbishing U.S. nuclear weapons. "Before I could vote in support of New START, each of these concerns would have to be fully addressed," she said.
Representative Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who showed a slight lead in a recent poll, has not taken a stance on the treaty, according to a statement by his office. Kirk has worked with Democrats in the past on security matters, suggesting he could support the agreement's ratification, according to Foreign Policy. Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias in an e-mail said he would endorse the pact.
West Virginia Democrat Joseph Manchin, who polled ahead of his Republican competitor by a thin margin, would consider the positions of "our commanders and generals on the ground" in formulating his position on the treaty, according to a statement by his office. Republican candidate John Raese opposes the treaty, a spokesman said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) probably would not allow a vote on New START to proceed unless the White House verified 67 senators were in favor of ratification, Foreign Policy reported. Such a vote was one of a number of "possible" items the Senate could take up during the lame-duck period, according to one Senate leadership staffer.
"We're taking nothing for granted and we're addressing every concern and giving every reassurance where we can," an Obama administration official said. "That's where we are" (Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy, Oct. 21).
Meanwhile, Russia yesterday denied allegations that it had negotiated an undisclosed deal with the United States linked to New START, RIA Novosti reported.
"No secret arrangements beyond the limits of what is written in the document and its appendixes exist," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said (RIA Novosti, Oct. 22).
"I can only tell you one thing: everything we had agreed on is fixed in the treaty and in the ample appendixes to this treaty. This is an open document," the Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying (Xinhua News 
http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20101022_8525.phpAgency, Oct. 21).
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U.S. Seeks Details on Pakistan-China Atomic Deal from GSN Daily News

The United States has called on Pakistan to offer specifics on its nuclear power plant development deal with China, Asian News International reported today (see GSN, Sept. 23).
"We have asked Pakistan to provide details about the nuclear pact with China," U.S. special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said. "It is yet to be seen what international requirements [the] Pak-China nuclear pact fulfills," the Nation reported him as saying.
Washington has suggested Beijing must obtain Nuclear Suppliers Groups clearance to build two new 300-megawatt reactors in the South Asian state's Chashma nuclear site. As it developed strategic weapons outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Islamabad has been cut off from most atomic trade.
China argues that it did not need approval from the atomic exporter nations as its work at the Chashma site predates its membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Both Beijing and Islamabad have said the deal would meet the International Atomic Energy Agency's nonproliferation requirements.
High-level Pakistani diplomats and defense officials met this week with Obama officials in Washington for a third round of strategic talks (see GSN, Oct. 20).
Holbrooke said the two sides discussed Islamabad's wish for a bilateral nuclear civilian trade agreement with Washington, similar to the deal India received in 2008. The United States has played down the potential for a deal that would give Pakistan access to U.S. nuclear materials and technology.
"We are well aware of the Pakistani strategic goal and desire. It's one of the many things we have talked about frankly in private with our friends in Pakistan," Holbrooke said (Asian News International/Sify.com, Oct. 22).
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Blix: Israeli Military Strike on Iran Might be Illegal By Martin Matishak Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- Any possible military action by Israel against Iran's nuclear installations is likely to violate the international rule of law, according to former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Hans Blix (see GSN, Oct. 21).
Former International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Hans Blix, shown in July, on Wednesday warned that potential Israeli strikes on nuclear facilities in Iran could violate international law (Ben Stansall/Getty Images).
Since Tehran has not launched an armed campaign on another nation, nor does it appear to be preparing for one, "it doesn't seem to me that an attack on Iran can be legally defended," he said Wednesday during a panel discussion at the Georgetown University Law Center.
The U.N. charter states that member nations, including Israel, "shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent" with the goals of the international body.
Observers "can see many other reasons, very good reasons, why there should not be an attack on Iran," including the unintended consequences such an event might have throughout the region, but the legal argument has yet to be explored in depth, Blix told the audience.
He did not specify what kind of consequences, from a formal condemnation or something more serious, Israel might incur from the international organization if it moves against Iran. More at:

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Nuclear material transport accord signed from World Nuclear News by Warwick Pipe

lRussia, Ukraine and Slovakia have signed an intergovernmental agreement on the transportation of nuclear materials between Russia and Slovakia via Ukraine. The agreement enables the continued shipment of Russian fuel through Ukraine to Slovakia's power reactors. More at:

Japan Atomic to delay construction of 2 new reactors

TOKYO Oct 21 (Reuters) - Electricity wholesaler Japan Atomic Power said on Thursday it would delay the start of construction of new No.3 and No.4 reactors at its Tsuruga nuclear plant from October due to a delay in trade ministry safety checks.http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFTKB00711420101021

Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia sign nuclear fuel transit deal

Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia sign deal on fuel shipments
The governments of Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia have signed a deal to ease the transportation of nuclear fuel through Ukraine, according to Russia's Rosatom. The agreement would also ensure that Slovakian nuclear plants would receive continuous supplies of the material from Russia. RIA Novosti (Russia)http://en.rian.ru/world/20101021/161043820.html
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France seeking nuclear energy deals with Libya

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Obama Sowing Doubt About Venezuela's Nuclear Reactor Plans, Chavez Says

U.S. is trying to unsettle Venezuela's nuclear plans, Chavez says
President Barack Obama seeks to "sow doubt" on Venezuela's intention to build its first nuclear plant, said President Hugo Chavez. This statement comes after Obama said Tuesday that he won't oppose Venezuela's plan to develop nuclear energy as long as it is used for peaceful purposes. Venezuela signed a deal with Russia's Rosatom to develop a nuclear plant, which could take 10 years. Bloomberghttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-21/obama-sowing-doubt-about-venezuela-s-nuclear-reactor-plans-chavez-says.html
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GE Hitachi finds indication of cracks in control rod blades By Jim Brumm

Cracking signs on overseas control rod blades get scrutiny
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy detected signs of cracks in some control-rod blades that were manufactured in 1997. The company has "not identified any safety issues or concerns to date; therefore, GEH does not recommend any additional plant action at this time," said spokesman Michael Tetuan. Facilities equipped with the control rods were advised to proceed with standard monitoring procedures, he added. Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20101021/ARTICLES/101029883/-1/news300
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N.H. OKs Seabrook power plant's license renewal

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Water Scarcity a Bond Risk, Study Warns

 The municipal bonds that help finance a major portion of the nation’s water supply may be riskier than investors realize because their credit ratings do not adequately reflect the growing risks of water shortages and legal battles over water supplies, according to a new study.
As a result, investors may see their bonds drop in value when these risks become apparent, and water and electric utilities may find it more expensive to raise money to cope with supply problems, the study warned. 
Looking at significant water bond issuers across the southern part of the country, the report concluded that Wall Street’s rating agencies had given similar ratings to utilities with secure sources of water and to those whose water sources were dwindling or were threatened by legal battles with neighboring utilities.
Among the seven cities and agencies examined in the report, Los Angeles and Atlanta were identified as the ones whose water systems faced the greatest risk in the years ahead.More at:
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Baker Institute studies wind, fossil fuel power generation

Baker Institute studies wind, fossil fuel power generation 

Posted on 10/20/2010
US wind power generating capacity primarily has displaced natural gas-fired generation so far, yet a recent study by the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University concludes that increased wind-generation capacity is likely to result in more investment in gas-fired generation capacity.

“A number of studies have shown that the expansion of wind has thus far displaced natural gas more than coal,” said a study entitled “Wind Power in the United States: Prospects and Consequences” by Peter R. Hartley, a Rice economics professor and scholar of energy economics for the Baker Institute.

But he sees this as being a short-term situation because gas is a good complement to renewable sources that are highly variable.

“In the longer run, the intermittency of wind and the fact that wind generation satisfies base-load demand more than intermediate or peaking loads should discourage investment in base-load coal and nuclear capacity,” he said.
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New Report: Growing Water Scarcity in U.S. is 'Hidden' Financial Risk for Investors Owning Utility Bonds

BOSTON, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Growing water scarcity in many parts of the United States is a hidden financial risk for investors who buy the water and electric utility bonds that finance much of the country's vast water and power infrastructure, according to a first-ever report on the issue released today by Ceres and Water Asset Management.
The report, The Ripple Effect: Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market, evaluates and ranks water scarcity risks for public water and power utilities in some of the country's most water-stressed regions, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta. The report shows that some of the nation's largest public utilities may face moderate to severe water supply shortfalls in the coming years, yet these risks are not reflected in the pricing or disclosure of bonds that public utilities rely on to finance their infrastructure projects. There are about 50,000 public water utilities in this country serving an estimated 258 million Americans. The electric power sector is enormously water-intensive – it accounts for 41 percent of the nation's freshwater withdrawals.
"Water scarcity is a growing risk to many public utilities across the country and investors owning utility bonds don't even know it," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which authored the report.  "Utilities rely on water to repay their bond debts. If water supplies run short, utility revenues potentially fall, which means less money to pay off their bonds. Our report makes clear that this risk scenario is a distinct possibility for utilities in water-stressed regions and bond investors should be aware of it."

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Solar Cheaper than Grid Nuclear? Think Again! by Daren Bakst and Carlo Stagnaro

Barack Obama Still Deserves an F on Energy

In March of 2009 I wrote a post in which I argued Barack Obama deserved an F for his energy policy. This continues to be the case with the Obama administration continuing to make poorly thought out energy related decisions. Virtually every Obana administration energy related decision over the last 18 months, has been poorly thought out and has wasted opportunities.

Obama has used the stimulus package to offer further subsidies to the renewable energy industry, even though renewable energy is unreliable and is not cost effective when compared to nuclear energy.

Obama has avoided a heads up comparison of renewables and and nuclear energy by failing to appoint a commission on the national energy future.

The Obama administration has mismanaged nuclear loan guarantees.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

US says another NKorean nuclear test would be provocative

Another atomic weapons test by North Korea would be provocative, a State Department spokesman said, adding he could not confirm reports that Pyongyang was preparing for such a test. "I'm aware of the reports. They obviously go into intelligence matters so I can't really go into any detail commenting on them," spokesman Mark Toner said when asked to comment on a report in South Korea's newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
"But this hasn't changed our position vis-a-vis North Korea. We said all along that they need to adhere to their commitments and they also need to refrain from provocative actions," Toner said.
"Another nuclear test would certainly fall into the rubric of provocative actions," he added.
He said "no" when asked whether he had evidence to support the details of the news report.
According to Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's biggest-selling newspaper, US satellites detected movements of personnel and vehicles at the site where the the North carried out its first two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Chosun quoted an unidentified government source as also saying that the North also appears to be restoring tunnels demolished during the first two tests.
"However, it is unlikely (the North will) carry it out soon. It is expected to take another three months (to complete preparations for a third test)," the source said.
But a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said there was no evidence of any such preparations.

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The Hunt for Uranium is On

Last year Kazakhstan became the world's largest supplier of uranium, overtaking Australia and Canada, at 14,000 tonnes, or one fifth of world production. As supplies of oil are being sought in increasingly inhospitable regions of the globe to meet rising demand against finite supply, the hunt is on for uranium in the face of an emphasis to turn-away from fossil-fuel based power stations and toward nuclear. The statistic is often given that there is about 40 years worth of uranium left, and this is the duration therefore of the provision of nuclear power.
In fact, there is much more uranium around than that, and the use of thorium and "waste" transuranics would see the industry continue well beyond the foreseeable future, including potential technology that actually destroys nuclear waste and turns it into useful energy. The EROEI of all the other energy sources that must be employed in the fabrication of nuclear fuel rods/pellets and the power plants themselves must be considered too in the necessary book-keeping exercise of viability. Ultimately, it is hoped, much of the energy for these tasks might be supplied in the form of nuclear electricity.

Peak Oil and Climate Change: The Time for Arguing is Over


IAEA Wants Research Reactors to use Low Enriched Uranium

 There are approximately 250 operating civilian research and test reactors worldwide, of which around 75 use highly enriched uranium (HEU) as their fuel. But the use of HEU has the potential of nuclear proliferation as it could also be used for producing material used for nuclear weapons. The IAEA works with global partners focusing on how to convert HEU reactors to ones that can use low enriched uranium (LEU). More at:
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Russia Seeks Further Dialogue on NATO Antimissile Plan

Russia yesterday indicated it would maintain dialogue with NATO and the United States regarding an invitation to collaborate with the military alliance on missile defense operations, the Xinhua News Agency reported (see GSN, Oct. 19).
Any options for a joint antimissile effort "will be discussed," Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.
"NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has put forth an initiative (on the creation of a joint missile defense system) and it is now being studied thoroughly," Grushko said. "We'll continue contacts with American partners and NATO countries on this issue in the short term" (Xinhua News Agency, Oct. 21).
NATO nations are expected to determine at their Nov. 19-21 summit in Lisbon, Portugal, whether to formally include missile defense among alliance objectives, paving the way for a program to integrate and augment the antimissile systems of member countries. The 28-state organization has sought Russian collaboration on the project, which it says is intended to increase protection from ballistic missiles held by countries including Iran and North Korea. More at:http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20101021_7766.php
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NRC Considers Changes to Radioactive Iodine Rules

U.S. Approves Design For Advanced Ballistic Missile Radar

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin said yesterday it has received approval from the U.S. Air Force for its initial blueprint for a new transportable long-range radar system (see GSN, Oct. 1).
The Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar would become the chief ground-based detector for finding, tracking dispatching information on missiles and aircraft for the Marine Corps and the Air Force, according to a company press release. The system would succeed the Air Force's AN/TPS-75 air surveillance system and possibly the Marines' AN/TPS-59 ballistic missile surveillance system.
An initial test of the system's capabilities in March met with Air Force approval. A follow-up demonstration is expected before winter. Lockheed received a $25 million contract to develop the system in May 2009 (Lockheed Martin release, Oct. 20).


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Islamic Nations Demand Israeli Atomic Transparency

The 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference yesterday called for U.N. inspections of Israel's nuclear arsenal, Iran's Press TV reported (see GSN, Sept. 24).
Israel is widely believed to possess the only nuclear arms in the Middle East, though it has for decades maintained a policy of neither confirming nor denying its arsenal.
"Israel's nuclear weapons should be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency," OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said at a nuclear security and nonproliferation summit in Cairo, Egypt (see GSN, Oct. 19). The meeting was set to address nuclear counterterrorism, efforts to secure potential nuclear-weapon ingredients and efforts to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.
All countries should encourage Jerusalem to abandon its atomic arsenal and join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Ihsanoglu said. He backed the right of all states to develop civilian nuclear power programs while arguing it was indefensible to permit only certain nations to possess nuclear weapons.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog is not an appropriate forum for lobbying Israel to join the nonproliferation pact, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in September. Jerusalem has offered complete cooperation with the Vienna-based atomic agency, he said (Press TV, Oct. 20).


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North Korea Reported to be Readying New Nuke Test

A U.S. satellite has reportedly spotted heightened operations at a nuclear weapons test location in North Korea, possibly indicating the Stalinist state is readying for a third nuclear test blast, Reuters reported today (see GSN, Oct. 20).
North Korean soldiers stand guard yesterday at Panmunjom, near the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas. Increased activity at a site in North Korea suggests Pyongyang could be preparing to conduct a third nuclear test, a South Korean official said (Park Ji-hwan/Getty Images).
The South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper cited a government official in Seoul as the source of its information. The report follows satellite photographs from last month that point to renewed construction or excavation activities at the site of a destroyed cooling tower in the North's plutonium-producing Yongbyon nuclear installation.
Fully aware it is monitored by satellites, Pyongyang could be simply shifting equipment around in a ruse to suggest test preparations. The United States last spring rejected reports that the North was preparing to detonate a third test device.
North Korea carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Those tests were used by autocratic ruler Kim Jong Il to increase his standing domestically and to build support for his military-first policy.
Another test would bolster the Stalinist state's capacity to build strategic arms while also reducing its quantity of weapon-ready material. The North is believed to have fissile material stores adequate for building six to eight weapons (Jeremy Laurence, Reuters, Oct. 20).
The anonymous government source told Chosun that "hectic movements of personnel and vehicles have recently been detected in Punggyeri," Agence France-Presse reported.
North Korea also seemed to be repairing tunnels destroyed by the previous two nuclear tests, the source said.
"However, it is unlikely (the North will) carry it out soon. It is expected to take another three months (to complete preparations for a third test)," the source said.
A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman, though, said there were no sure signs of groundwork for another nuclear test.
"We have no concrete evidence to support the news report," the spokesman said. "We're watching closely any development concerning the North's nuclear facilities and sharing information with countries concerned."

An unidentified South Korean Defense Ministry official indicated activities like those reported by newspaper were fairly standard, potentially for the regular upkeep of important strategic installations. More at:


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Is N.Korea Preparing for Another Nuke Test?

Is N.Korea Preparing for Another Nuke Test?

This image taken on Oct. 16, 2006 by South Koreas multipurpose satellite Arirang No. 2 shows Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong Province, believed to be the site of North Koreas nuclear tests. /Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Research Institute This image taken on Oct. 16, 2006 by South Korea's multipurpose satellite Arirang No. 2 shows Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong Province, believed to be the site of North Korea's nuclear tests. /Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Research Institute
A U.S. reconnaissance satellite has detected signs of North Korea preparing for a nuclear test in North Hamgyong Province, where it had conducted two earlier tests in October 2006 and May 2009.

A South Korean government source on Wednesday said "brisk movement" of vehicles and people has been detected in Punggye-ri recently, including signs of activity there to repair a tunnel that collapsed after the two earlier nuclear tests.

However, it seems unlikely that the North will conduct a third nuclear test in the immediate future since current activities there suggest it will take "about three months" to prepare, the source added.

There is speculation that the North will attempt to reach a deal with the South Korean and the U.S. governments to ease sanctions while giving the impression that it is constantly ready to perform another nuclear test.

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Why People Are Afraid of Nuclear Power By: David Ropeik | The Moscow Times

Germany’s ambivalence about nuclear energy, common in many developed countries, has been on display again recently, following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to extend the operating life of the country’s 17 nuclear plants for an average of 12 years beyond their currently scheduled closure dates. Merkel says this will help Germany develop the “most efficient and environmentally friendly energy supply worldwide.” Opposition leaders say the government is “selling safety for money.”
Both sides argue about the facts, but underlying that debate is an argument about how those facts feel. How risk is perceived — whether the risk is nuclear power or genetically modified food or any other potential threat — is never a purely rational, fact-based process.
Decades of research have found that risk perception is an affective combination of facts and fears, intellect and instinct, reason and gut reaction. It is an inescapably subjective process — one that has helped us survive, but that sometimes gets us into more trouble because we often worry too much about relatively smaller risks, or not enough about bigger ones, and make choices that feel right, but that actually create new risks.
So, as Germany grapples with the issue of nuclear power, there are important lessons to be learned, not only about nuclear power per se, but also about how we perceive risk in the first place, because understanding that subjective system is the first step toward avoiding its pitfalls.
Consider the two aspects of the risk of nuclear radiation: the facts and the feelings. More at:
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Renewed TVA projects could spark business for Areva, B&W

Two utilities have commenced groundwork for reactors located in Georgia and South Carolina, which is an indicator that the development of new facilities is not delayed, said Mitch Singer, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute. These projects could secure approval from federal and state regulators during 2011, Singer added. The News & Advance (Lynchburg, Va.)
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Vt. DPS chief: VY is safe

Vt. official says Vermont Yankee plant continues to operate safely
Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant can continue to operate safely, said David O'Brien, commissioner of the state Department of Public Service. "The plant scores highly in industry peer review, and its problems, although well-publicized, do not pose health concerns," he said during the 90th annual meeting of Associated Industries of Vermont. The facility and renewable sources should each be included in the state's future, O'Brien said. Brattleboro Reformer (Vt.)
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Nuclear power will cut Italy emissions: official

Italy's nuclear revival will boost country's image, official says
The Italian government's decision to resume nuclear energy production will improve the country's standing internationally and help fulfill its commitment to cut back on emissions, said Stefano Saglia, Italy's junior minister for energy. The government issued a decree in February to overturn a decades-old moratorium on nuclear energy. Google/Agence France-Presse
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Iran Claims To Have Produced 30 Kilograms Of Enriched Uranium

(RTTNews) - Iran, slammed with a fifth round of UN sanctions for not stopping uranium enrichment, has already produced 30 kilograms of the potential nuclear-bomb-making material, according to the nation's atomic chief.http://www.rttnews.com/Content/MarketSensitiveNews.aspx?Id=1450741&SM=1
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Russian company seeks control of Canadian uranium-mining firm operating in Rockies By Bruce Finley The Denver Post Read more: Russian company seeks control of Canadian uranium-mining firm operating in Rockies - The Denver Post

Russia's government is trying to enter the U.S. nuclear industry, poised to spend $1.5 billion to acquire a controlling share of Uranium One, a Canadian company operating in the Rocky Mountain region.
"Do you mind some investment? It is a normal commercial operation — not something that is operating on any political guidance," Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said Tuesday, addressing the deal in an interview during a visit to Denver.
"It doesn't matter whether it is uranium or steel or oil or gas," Kislyak said. "What is important is that the positive ties between our two countries seem to be getting more and more expanded. Politically, that is very important."
U.S. Treasury and nuclear regulatory officials must approve the deal. Some Republican lawmakers have objected. More at:

Read more: Russian company seeks control of Canadian uranium-mining firm operating in Rockies - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_16382080#ixzz130ayKiaU


Bob Guccione and Small Nuclear Power - Fusion Promoters Seduced Him by Rod Adams

Nuclear Plan Shows Cuts and Massive Investments

The Obama administration’s first nuclear weapons stockpile management plan is ready
By Hans M. Kristensen
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has sent Congress the FY 2011 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP) with new information about what the administration plans to spend on maintaining and modernizing nuclear weapons and facilities over the next 15-20 years.
FAS and UCS got hold of the unclassified sections of the plan and have analyzed what the Obama administration’s first nuclear weapons management plan tells us about how the Prague speech vision will be translated into national nuclear weapons policy. The SSMP consists of five sections (three are unclassified):
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