Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bechtel Corp. to work on first Middle East nuclear plant Read more: Bechtel Corp. to work on first Middle East nuclear plant | San Francisco Business Times

Bechtel Corp. to work on first Middle East nuclear plant

Read more: Bechtel Corp. to work on first Middle East nuclear plant | San Francisco Business Times

Cause of missile defense test failure unclear: US

Out of 15 tests of ground-based interceptors since 1999, seven have failed, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

Washington (AFP) Dec 16, 2010 A top US general said Thursday it was unclear why an interceptor meant to knock out incoming ballistic missiles failed in a test for the second time in a row. General James Cartwright, the military's second highest ranking officer, said he had no doubts that the country's missile defense system could fend off potential threats, despite Wednesday's failed test.
"I'm not the least bit concerned that we don't have a capability to defeat, should we need to, that rogue threat that the system's been designed against," Cartwright told reporters.
In the test on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, an interceptor rocket launched from a base in California failed to intercept its target, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Missile Defense Agency said.
Officials will carry out an "extensive investigation to determine the cause of the failure to intercept the target," the agency said in a statement.
A similar test carried on January 31 resulted in failure.
Cartwright said the latest test involved an "upgraded version" of an interceptor, but that older models currently deployed were reliable.
"We test in order to find out if something works," Cartwright said.
"The question now is, make sure we understand, was it two failures that were of the same ilk or was it two very different failures?" he said.
"We just don't know those answers yet."
Out of 15 tests of ground-based interceptors since 1999, seven have failed, according to the Missile Defense Agency.
"The next flight test will be determined after identification of the cause of the failure," the agency said.
Aerospace giant Boeing is the lead contractor for the missile defense program.
The ground-based defense system is meant to shield the United States from a potential ballistic missile attack, possibly from North Korea or Iran.
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GE-Hitachi Venture to Pursue Nuclear Contracts in Saudi Arabia

GE-Hitachi Venture to Pursue Nuclear Contracts in Saudi Arabia

A venture between General Electric Co. and Hitachi Ltd. plans to pursue contracts in Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil supplier develops an atomic program to meet rising power demand.
“Nuclear is part of a natural progression for us to work with Saudi Arabia,” Daniel Roderick, senior vice president at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, said in a telephone interview in Riyadh today. “We want to work with the Saudi government on developing their program in the most efficient way.”
Saudi Arabia is turning to atomic energy to save oil reserves for overseas sales as economic expansion boosts power demand by 8 percent a year. GE is among companies seeking opportunities in the fledgling nuclear program after the U.S. agreed in 2008 to help the kingdom develop the industry.
Shaw Group, Toshiba Corp. and Exelon Nuclear Partners, a unit of Exelon Corp., said in July that they teamed up to pursue nuclear power contracts in Saudi Arabia. The group wants to provide engineering, procurement, construction and operations for nuclear power plants.
A delegation of 11 U.S. companies led by Francisco Sanchez, the undersecretary for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, visited the kingdom this month to explore investment opportunities, including in nuclear power. Companies on the delegation included Shaw Group and Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE.

Four-Year Nuclear Security Plan Needs More Detail, GAO Says

Four-Year Nuclear Security Plan Needs More Detail, GAO Says

The Obama administration should address in more specific terms how it plans to achieve its goal of securing all loose nuclear material in the world within four years, congressional investigators said in a report released yesterday (see GSN, April 14).
The National Security Council has signed off on a comprehensive approach for the material security plan "that describes the scope and objectives of the interagency effort and identifies the main efforts by U.S. agencies and programs to support the initiative," according to a summary of the Government Accountability Office report.
"However, this interagency strategy lacks specific details concerning how the initiative will be implemented, including the identity of vulnerable foreign nuclear material sites and facilities to be addressed, agencies and programs responsible for addressing each site, planned activities at each location, potential challenges and strategies for overcoming those obstacles, anticipated time lines, and cost estimates," according to the document. "As a result, key details associated with the initiative are unclear, including its overall estimated cost, time frame, and scope of planned work."
Congressional auditors found that two Energy Department nonproliferation programs -- the Materials Consolidation and Conversion program and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative -- have worked to lock down Russia's nuclear warheads and supplies less effectively than the department's Material Protection, Control and Accounting program (see GSN, Dec 13).
Moscow's uncertain dedication to joint U.S.-Russian nuclear threat reduction work has placed in question the future of the three programs, all of which are overseen by the Energy Department's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration, the report asserts.
The MPC&A effort faced an uphill drive to augment measures for protecting a number of Russian atomic sites against internal and external security risks and turning responsibility for the new safeguards over to Moscow, the document states. The difficulties were likely to prevent compliance with a U.S. legal mandate that Russia fully take over the MPC&A program by the start of 2013, the report says. The auditors urged the Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration to develop a more precise breakdown of the initiative's uncompleted objectives and anticipated expenses in Russia.
In China and India, political concerns have restricted NNSA nuclear security activities to the exchange of security best practices, training and demonstration efforts, the report notes.
The Energy Department agency was moving forward in negotiations with South Africa, Ukraine and other nations to expedite the removal of potential nuclear bomb ingredients within their borders, the auditors found (U.S. Government Accountability Office release, Dec. 15).
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Missile Interceptor Fails to Take Down Target from GSN Daily News

Missile Interceptor Fails to Take Down Target

A U.S. missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean yesterday ended unsuccessfully when the long-range interceptor was unable to eliminate its intermediate-range ballistic missile target, Reuters reported (see GSN, Feb. 2).
"The Missile Defense Agency was unable to achieve a planned intercept of a ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Ocean," MDA spokesman Richard Lehner said in a statement without addressing possible causes for the failure.
This was the second successive failed test this year of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system -- the United States' only protection from a long-range ballistic missile attack. A test at the end of January also ended without missile interception due to problems with the radar equipment. The missile defense system has had mixed success in testing, with seven of 15 attempted missile intercepts to date ending in failure, as judged by the Missile Defense Agency.
"This is a tremendous setback for the testing of this complicated system," Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance leader Riki Ellison said in shared comments. The test failure leads to doubts about the dependability of the approximately 30 land-based missile interceptors fielded at military bases in California and Alaska, he said.
Yesterday's test initially went according to plan as the target missile launched from the Marshall Islands and the nterceptor flew from from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to the agency. Sea-based radar equipment operated as desired, while the interceptor was able to fire off its "kill vehicle" at the target but failed to hit the missile.
The MDA statement said the agency would carry out a thorough assessment to identify what was behind the test failure. Only after a cause has been found would another test of the system be scheduled.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system was developed to eliminate a small number of long-range ballistic missiles that could be carrying nuclear, chemical or biological weapons payloads. The system has components based on land, at sea and in space.
Washington has allocated more than $10 billion annually in recent budgets for various antimissile efforts (Jim Wolf, Reuters/Yahoo!News, Dec. 15).
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IAEA Might Have Aided Pakistani Nuclear-Weapon Work

IAEA Might Have Aided Pakistani Nuclear-Weapon Work

New theory: Stuxnet was actually created by … China?

Darned compelling, and darned depressing. Not only because it snatches away our vicarious pride in U.S./Israeli ingenuity, but it feeds into western jitters about Chinese omnicompetence. Why, I’ll bet it was those Shanghai teens who cooked this thing up. During recess.
The circumstantial evidence is impressive. Just one question: Why would China do it?
China has an intimate knowledge of Iran’s centrifuges since, according to one source quoted above, they’re of Chinese design.
China has better access than any other country to manufacturing plans for the Vacon frequency converter drive made by Vacon’s Suzhou facility and specifically targeted by the Stuxnet worm (along with an Iranian company’s drive). Furthermore, in March 2010, China’s Customs ministry started an audit at Vacon’s Suzhou facility and took two employees into custody thereby providing further access to Vacon’s manufacturing specifications under cover of an active investigation.
China has better access than any other country to RealTek’s digital certificates through it’s Realsil office in Suzhou and, secondarily, to JMicron’s office in Taiwan.
China has direct access to Windows source code, which would explain how a malware team could create 4 key zero day vulnerabilities for Windows when most hackers find it challenging to develop even one.
That’s four pieces of evidence. Read the whole story and you’ll see that there’s more; plus, and needless to say, when it comes to cyberwar hijinks in the past few years, the Chinese are usually a safe bet as the culprits. More at:
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University of Tokyo and IAEA Join Forces to Improve Nuclear Science Education

University of Tokyo and IAEA Join Forces to Improve Nuclear Science Education

The IAEA and the University of Tokyo in Japan signed an agreement in Vienna, formalising their decision to work together to enhance nuclear engineering and management research, education and training.
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Areva, Westinghouse Lag in $10 Bln Czech Tender, Minister Says

Areva, Westinghouse Lag in $10 Bln Czech Tender, Minister Says

Turkish Power Goes Nuclear in 2013

Turkish Power Goes Nuclear in 2013

Putting the Cart Before the Horse with Nuclear R&D

Putting the Cart Before the Horse with Nuclear R&D

US Energy Information Administration Press Release Annual Energy Outlook 2011 Early Release Overview

Energy Information Administration (EIA) Logo - Need Help? 202-586-8800
DECEMBER 16, 2010
EIA energy outlook projects growing reliance on natural gas from shale,
reduced energy import shares, and increased electricity generation from renewables and natural gas
WASHINGTON, DC - The Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (AEO2011 ) Reference case released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) presents updated projections for U.S. energy markets through 2035. These Reference case projections do not include the effects of potential future policies that have not yet become law.
"Our Reference case projection shows the growing importance of natural gas from domestic shale gas resources in meeting U.S. energy demand and lowering natural gas prices," said EIA Administrator Richard Newell. "Energy efficiency improvements and the increased use of renewables are other key factors that moderate the projected growth in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions," said Newell.
Some key findings:
A higher updated estimate of domestic shale gas resources supports increased natural gas production at prices below those in last year's Outlook: The technically recoverable unproved shale gas resource is 827 trillion cubic feet (as of January 1, 2009) in the AEO2011 Reference case, 474 trillion cubic feet larger than in the AEO2010 Reference case, reflecting additional information that has become available with more drilling activity in new and existing shale plays. This larger resource leads to about double the shale gas production and over 20 percent higher total lower-48 natural gas production in 2035, with lower natural gas prices, than was projected in the AEO2010 Reference case (Figure 1 ).
Imports meet a major but declining share of total U.S. energy demand: Projected demand for energy imports is moderated by increased use of domestically produced biofuels, demand reductions resulting from the adoption of efficiency standards, and rising energy prices. Rising fuel prices also spur domestic energy production across all fuels, which moderates growth in energy imports. The net import share of total U.S. energy consumption in 2035 is 18 percent, compared with 24 percent in 2009.
Non-hydro renewables and natural gas are the fastest growing fuels used to generate electricity, but coal remains the dominant fuel because of the large amount of existing capacity: Coal remains the dominant energy source for electricity generation (Figure 2 ) because of continued reliance on existing coal-fired plants. EIA is not projecting any new central station coal-fired power plants, however, beyond those already under construction or supported by clean coal incentives. The generation share from renewable resources increases from 11 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2035 in response to Federal tax credits in the near term and State requirements in the long term. Natural gas also plays a growing role due to lower natural gas prices and relatively low capital construction costs that make it more attractive than coal. The share of generation from natural gas increases from 23 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2035.
Industrial natural gas demand recovers, reversing recent trend: Industrial natural gas demand grows sharply in the near term from 7.3 trillion cubic feet in 2009 to 9.4 trillion cubic feet in 2020. This growth reverses the recent downward trend, as a result of a strong recovery in near-term industrial production, growth in combined heat and power, and relatively low natural gas prices.
Assuming no changes in policy related to greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide emissions grow slowly, but do not again reach 2005 levels until 2027: After falling 3 percent in 2008 and nearly 7 percent in 2009, largely driven by the economic downturn, energy-related CO2 emissions do not return to 2005 levels (5,980 million metric tons) until 2027. CO2 emissions then rise by an additional 5 percent from 2027 to 2035, reaching 6,315 million metric tons in 2035 (Figure 3 ).
Other highlights of the AEO2011 Reference case projections:
  • World oil prices rise in the Reference case (Figure 4 ), as the world economy recovers and pressure from growth in global demand continues. In 2035, the average real price of crude oil in the Reference case is $125 per barrel in 2009 dollars. World liquids consumption grows from 83.7 million barrels per day in 2009 to 110.8 million barrels per day in 2035. Most of the growth is in non-OECD countries or regions, lead by China, India, and the Middle East.
  • In the AEO2011 Reference case, U.S. natural gas consumption rises 16 percent from 22.7 trillion cubic feet in 2009 to 26.5 trillion cubic feet in 2035. The total in 2035 is about 1.6 trillion cubic feet higher than in the AEO2010 Reference case (24.9 trillion cubic feet).
  • U.S. crude oil production increases from 5.4 million barrels per day in 2009 to 6.1 million barrels per day in 2019 and declines slightly from that level through 2035. Production increases come from onshore enhanced oil recovery projects and shale oil plays.
The Reference case projections from theEarly Release Overview of the AEO2011 are available at www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo. The full AEO2011 report, including projections with differing assumptions on the price of oil, the rate of economic growth, and the characteristics of new technologies, will be released in Spring 2011, along with regional projections.
The product described in this press release was prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. By law, EIA's data, analysis, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the United States Government. The views in the product and press release therefore should not be construed as representing those of the Department of Energy or other Federal agencies.
EIA Program Contact: John Conti, 202-586-2222, john.conti@eia.gov
EIA Press Contact: Jonathan Cogan, 202-586-8719, jonathan.cogan@eia.gov

The 50 Hottest Companies In Bioenergy For 2010-11


U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable

U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable -- New York Times

Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe.

The advice is based on recent scientific analyses showing that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the lethal radiation that follows a blast, a simple tactic seen as saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far.

Read more ....http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/science/16terror.html?ref=us
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Russia, Mongolia set terms for uranium mining venture

http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Russia_Mongolia_set_terms_for_uranium_mining_venture_999.html Moscow (AFP) Dec 14, 2010 Russia and Mongolia set the terms Tuesday for the operation of a jointly-run uranium mine in the former Soviet satellite. The Dornod Uran joint venture will dig for uranium in Mongolia's Dornod province and receive an initial investment of around 300 million dollars (225 million euros), Russian officials said.
The agreement was signed during talks here between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Mongolian counterpart Sukhbaatar Batbold.
Mongolia's mining industry is the country's largest, accounting for 40 percent of its export revenues, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Donrnod, Mongolia's biggest uranium deposit, was mined by a Russian subsidiary from 1988 to 1995.
Russia renewed interest in the site in 2009, when it initially created the new joint venture.
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Kuwait boosts stake in French nuclear giant Areva

http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Kuwait_boosts_stake_in_French_nuclear_giant_Areva_999.html Paris (AFP) Dec 11, 2010 Areva on Saturday approved a 900-million-euro (1.17 billion dollars) capital hike under which the Kuwait Investment Authority will hold nearly five percent stake in the French nuclear giant. The recapitalisation values the strategically important Areva at 11.5 billion euros, of which the Kuwaiti fund (KIA) will now control 4.8 percent.
"The group's supervisory board, meeting today under the chairmanship of Jean-Cyril Spinetta, examined and approved the launch of a reserved capital increase of 900 million euros, representing 7.2 percent of its share capital at the completion of the transaction," a statement said.
It said Kuwait would supply two-thirds of the capital hike and the French state the remaining third at 300 million euros.
Areva said its outlook for 2012 included a revenue of 12 billion euros and "a double-digit operating margin."
The French government holds 93 percent of Areva -- set up in 2001 -- and discussions about attracting other investors, including Qatar and Japan's Mitsubishi, have been underway for some time.
Areva's repeatedly delayed capital increase is aimed at funding its investment plans through to 2012 and had to be concluded by the end of the year.
Talks foundered with Qatar and Mitsubishi, a major player in nuclear power generation, meaning the French state had to contribute 300 million euros to the recapitalisation in order to make the end of year deadline.
Besides building nuclear power plants, Areva last year emerged as the world's largest miner of uranium, offering a complete range of services across the sector from fuel to energy production.
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Mitsubishi to produce nuclear fuel in US with AREVA

http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Mitsubishi_to_produce_nuclear_fuel_in_US_with_AREVA_999.html Tokyo (AFP) Dec 14, 2010 Japan's Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co. said Tuesday it had established a 50-50 venture in the United States with French industrial group AREVA to produce nuclear fuel for pressurised water reactors. The new company, named US Nuclear Fuel and located in AREVA's plant in Richland, Washington state, aims to start production in the second half of this decade, Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel said in a press release.
Seventy percent of Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel is owned by the Mitsubishi group and 30 percent by AREVA.
US Nuclear Fuel will produce fuel for advanced pressurised water reactors to be supplied by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to nuclear power plants in the United States, the statement said.
earlier related report
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

US Senate to open START debate

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_Senate_to_open_START_debate_999.html Washington (AFP) Dec 14, 2010 President Barack Obama's Democratic allies in the US Senate said Tuesday they would kick off formal debate on a landmark nuclear arms control pact with Russia and predicted its ratification this year. Obama has made the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) a lynchpin of his drive to "reset" relations with Moscow, and called for passage this year in what would be a signal diplomatic victory two months after an elections rout.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters he could bring up START late in the day or on Wednesday despite stiff objections from Republicans who say there is not enough time for a full debate.
Asked whether the accord would net the 67 votes needed for ratification and whether he would bring the agreement to a vote this year, as Obama has requested, Reid replied: "Yes. The answer is yes on both."
Obama's Democratic allies currently control 58 Senate seats, and need nine of the 42 Republicans to reach the 67 votes needed for approval -- but that number rises to 14 when a new Congress arrives in January.
The agreement -- which has the support of virtually every present and former US foreign policy or national security heavyweight -- restricts each nation to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a cut of about 30 percent from a limit set in 2002, and 800 launchers and bombers.
The agreement, which has broad American public support, would also return US inspectors who have been unable to monitor Russia's arsenal since the agreement's predecessor lapsed in December 2009.
"I believe we can pass the START treaty if we get a chance to (vote), the key is to get it going," Democratic Senator John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and the accord's lead champion, told reporters.
"It's on the agenda, we want to get it done but the key is sort of when we wrap up what," Kerry said, citing ongoing battles over tax cuts, government spending bills, and other matters with the 2010 legislative clock ticking.
Just three Republicans have publicly said they will back the treaty, but others have broadly signalled that they will support the accord as long as Democrats allow suitable time for debate.
The Republican point-man on the treaty, Senator Jon Kyl, has publicly said that he has not yet made up his mind, but his office has bombarded journalists with news articles critical of the accord and opinion pieces urging its defeat.
While Republicans were highly unlikely to muster the 51 votes needed to amend the treaty -- effectively killing it by forcing new talks with Moscow -- a source said they planned a series of politically difficult amendment votes.
Two Republican sources said they would try to strike language in the accord's non-binding preamble that declares there is a relationship between offensive nuclear weapons and missile defenses.
Republicans have charged that the accord may handcuff US missile defense plans fiercely opposed by Russia, though the Pentagon and arms experts of both parties have flatly denied any such impact.
And the White House has responded to worries from Kyl and others about funding the upkeep of the US nuclear arsenal by budgeting some 84.1 billion dollars over ten years for modernization and maintence.
The Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has indicated it will ratify the treaty only after its ratification by the US Senate.
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Taiwan trumpets cruise missile production

Taiwan, China to hold fresh round of talks next weekTaipei (AFP) Dec 14, 2010 - Taiwan and China agreed on Tuesday to hold a fresh round of negotiations next week focusing on medical and health cooperation, officials said. Top Taiwanese envoy Kao Koong-lian arranged the talks with Chinese counterpart Zheng Lizhong in Shanghai, said Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation which handles civil exchanges with the mainland in the absence of official contacts. China's chief negotiator Chen Yunlin is scheduled to fly to Taipei on Monday and hold talks with his Taiwanese counterpart Chiang Pin-kung the following day, it said. At the centre of the talks -- the sixth round since June 2008 -- will be epidemic control measures and research and development of medicines, herbal medicines and emergency cures. Chen will also meet Lai Shin-yuan, the chairman of the island's major China policy decision-making body, the Mainland Affairs Council.

But a much-anticipated deal to protect both sides' cross-Strait investments will not be signed due to a lack of consensus "as the agreement involves complicated problems, and more discussions will be needed before it can be signed", the Foundation said. Taiwanese businesses are among the biggest overseas players in mainland China, with at least 80 billion dollars invested, and there has been some clamour for a deal to be struck. Taipei and Beijing forged a comprehensive trade pact in June, known as the "Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement" (ECFA), that marked the culmination of the China-friendly policies of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou. Ties have improved markedly since Ma took office in 2008, with the two sides resuming routine high-level direct talks and adopting various measures to boost trade and tourism.
http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Taiwan_trumpets_cruise_missile_production_999.html Taipei, Taiwan (UPI) Dec 14, 2010 Taiwan has admitted that it is mass producing long-range cruise missiles capable of reaching mainland China. The announcement, made by Chao Shih-chang, Taiwans' deputy defense minister, confirms years of speculation by military analysts that the island was developing the Hsiung Feng 2E land attack cruise missile and the Hsiung Feng 3 anti-ship cruise missile.
The announcement also signals lingering military tension between Taiwan and China despite a thawing in political and economic ties in recent years.
Military analysts suggest the announcement marked a major break in Taiwan's long-standing strategy of preparing to thwart possible Chinese military attacks across the Taiwan Straits, developing, instead, a retaliatory capability as far-reaching as mainland China.
China and Taiwan split at the end of a civil war in 1949. Beijing, however, considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must be brought back into the fold. It has used a number of means, diplomatic and military, to deter other nations from officially recognizing Taiwan as an independent state.
Even so, relations between both sides have increasingly thawed, allowing Taiwan to pursue trade deals with other countries that have long been reluctant to antagonize Beijing.
Speaking to legislators, Chao said that "mass production" was "going smoothly." He refused to elaborate.
A senior official quoted by the Defense News Web site said that "a few [missiles] have been fielded and could be fielded in a case of war."
China continues to retain more than 1,000 ballistic missiles pointed at Taiwan and while Beijing traditionally accuses Washington of aiding Taipei, it hasn't issued a response to Taiwan's cruise missile production.
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To Conquer Wind Power, China Writes the Rules

To Conquer Wind Power, China Writes the Rules

Was Obama’s Asian tour a formation of a new nuclear alliance? Analysis by Hasbullah Shafi'iy

The glaring geopolitical significance of Obama’s well-planned strategic Asian tour last month has been deliberately or otherwise ignored by the mainstream media. India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. It cannot be by coincidence that these nations are encircling China (which has nuclear weapons) and secondly that they are all connected to a larger picture of nuclear alliances that are being formed. India is a nuclear power directly facing Pakistan, which is the only Muslim nation in the world that has nuclear weapons. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation with strong ties with Pakistan and Iran. South Korea faces North Korea, which has nuclear weapons. North Korea is not only a strong political as well as military ally of Iran, but also strong bilateral trade ties with China too; and Japan is situated next to both North Korea and China and is crucial to the containment policy against Russia, which is a nuclear power as well. Has the United States begun a containment policy for China as well?
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Moscow Attempts to Convince US and NATO it is Ready for a Nuclear Arms Race

Medvedev and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, have recently threatened the West with the prospect of a new arms race to press the US Senate to promptly ratify the New START arms control treaty and bully NATO into accepting Russian proposals on ballistic missile defense (EDM, December 2). Russian pundits have been promising that the Russian rocket industry is capable of revival and the Votkinsk rocket factory in the Urals may begin to produce up to 60 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's) (Kommersant, December 2). The GLONASS flop undermined the credibility of the Russian rocket industry at a really sensitive time, which could explain why foreign policy aid Prikhodko was so upset. More at:
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North Korea 'Enriching Weapons-Grade Uranium At A Number Of Sites' -- The Telegraph

North Korea has been enriching potentially weapons-grade uranium at up to four sites outside its main nuclear complex, South Korean intelligence has claimed.

The report of the secret additional enrichment facilities outside its Yongbon complex, first published by a South Korean newspaper, was confirmed by Seoul's foreign minister Kim Sung-hwan on Tuesday.

"It is a report based on what is still intelligence and let me just say that we have been following this issue for some time," Mr Kim said.

Read more ....http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/8201078/North-Korea-enriching-weapons-grade-uranium-at-a-number-of-sites.html
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Why are Arabs Racing to Go Nuclear? By Andres Cala


Why are Arabs racing to go nuclear?
A top US energy official said this week in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia expects to generate nuclear power within 10 years. Egypt will invite tenders for its first nuclear plant later this month. And Kuwait this week not only launched a feasibility study aimed at having nuclear power as early as 2020, it bought a 4.8 percent stake in French Areva, the world’s top reactor supplier.
That follows Jordan’s ongoing march to enrich uranium and to build a power plant and the United Arab Emirates’ years-old program aimed at completing its first nuclear power plant by 2017. Syria is believed to have been working on setting up its own nuclear plant before it was destroyed by Israelis.
Each country is in a different stage and not all will be successful, but few doubt that Arab countries will inevitably join the nuclear power frenzy sooner or later. It’s a question of economics, all countries say pointing to their insufficient power capacity and lack of options. But a driving force is unquestionably Iran’s nuclear program.
“There’s no doubt that there is rising interest in nuclear power in the Middle East,” said Charles K. Ebinger, senior fellow and director of the Energy Security Initiative in the Brookings Institute. “I think the reality is that all these countries will pursue this for energy security reasons. There’s an interest to address power demand and water desalination efforts.”
“But in light of Iranian situation we would be fooling ourselves if we deny there’s not a prospect of another motivation, which is to train their nationals to build weapons of their own if they feel threatened,” Ebinger said.
Most Arab countries have signed cooperation agreements with nuclear powers, including the US, France, Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan. Qatar is also mulling developing a nuclear program, as is Bahrain, and there is ongoing talk to share a regional program in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the six-country alliance in the Persian Gulf.
The need to rapidly boost power capacity is real and there are no alternative sources, other than oil, which is significantly more valuable, sold in international markets, as long as crude prices remain about $80 a barrel, Kuwait estimated. Only Qatar has enough indigenous gas resources.
The UAE and Oman already import gas supplies. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are burning millions of barrels of oil a day to meet demand, and Kuwait already suffers from blackouts. Egypt, which generates three quarters of its power with gas, will deplete its fields in 20 years. Jordan already imports 95 percent of its gas.
The question is whether Arab countries will follow the UAE in signing the so-called 1-2-3 agreements with Washington to access US nuclear technology on the condition that they forego enrichment and reprocessing, the two technologies that could be diverted for military purposes, as many believe Iran is doing.
Under International Atomic Energy Agency treaties, countries have the right to develop uranium enrichment, as long as they sign on to non-proliferation treaties. Egypt, for example, has said it intends to pursue enrichment. Jordan, with huge uranium deposits, said it will do the same in an effort to eventually become a regional supplier.
The more concerning case is Saudi Arabia, the regional powerhouse that rivals Iran. Riyadh recently agreed to buy up to $60 billion worth of American advanced weaponry to counter its enemy’s might. The Wikileaks documents exposed Arab concern over Iran’s nuclear program and support for a military campaign to derail Tehran, contradicting official Arab policy.
Earlier this week U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez said Saudis “seem to be very committed to having civil nuclear as part of what generates energy for them and to do it relatively quickly, like within the next 10 years.” Sanchez said he saw “wonderful opportunities” for American companies, which implies Riyadh would forego enrichment.
But while Saudi Arabia has said they won’t pursue enrichment, they “included enrichment in terms of reference” of a contract signed with the French company helping the country map its nuclear future, said Ebinger.
For the time being, it appears only the UAE and Egypt nuclear power programs are set in stone. Analysts say there is a lot of politics directed at Iran in the Arab march toward nuclear power. “I think there’s that message implied that they will not fall behind. They are saying they will not fall behind technologically and they will keep their weapons issue open,” Ebinger said.
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Oil prices rise on Chinese data, before OPEC meet

http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Oil_prices_rise_on_Chinese_data_before_OPEC_meet_999.html London (AFP) Dec 10, 2010 Oil prices rose on Friday following strong Chinese import data and on the eve of a meeting of OPEC to set the cartel's crude output levels, traders said. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January climbed 41 cents to 91.40 dollars a barrel in London trade.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January, gained 51 cents to 88.88 dollars a barrel.
China said Friday that exports and imports hit record highs in November, which analysts said would ramp up pressure on Beijing for further interest rate hikes and a stronger currency.
"China's crude oil imports soared in November by 22 percent, year-on-year, to 20.9 million tons (5.09 million barrels a day)," noted analysts at Commerzbank.
"China thus remains the main driver of global oil demand."
Oil demand and prices are meanwhile showing a year-end spurt, pushed by global growth and a surprising pick-up in advanced economies, but these pressures should ease in the medium term, the IEA said on Friday.
Strong growth in Asia remains the main driver of new demand for oil, but the International Energy Agency warned that inflation in China could unwind with a "hard landing".
Diesel was the key factor in the growth of demand, partly owing to the use of small generators and harvesting equipment in China. Another factor was rising demand for gasoline (petrol) for US motorists.
Elsewhere on Friday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised its forecast for oil demand in 2010 because of global economic recovery and cold weather in Europe, a day before OPEC ministers meet on production levels.
OPEC, which pumps about 35 percent of world oil, meets in the Ecuadoran capital on Saturday with the goal of keeping quotas as they are, despite a recent rise in the price of oil and a forecast increase in demand.
The meeting will be the last before Ecuador hands OPEC's rotating presidency to Iran for 2011 -- the first time in 36 years the Islamic republic will be the temporary leader of the cartel.
Stimulated by a weak US dollar and a cold snap in Europe and parts of the United States, the price of a barrel of crude recently broke the psychologically important 90-dollar barrier for the first time since October 2008.
The 12-member organization has maintained its official production target unchanged at 24.8 million barrels a day since January 1, 2009, when it agreed to a hefty cut aimed at boosting oil prices that had tumbled to about 30 dollars because of the financial crisis.
Most members consider a price of between 75 and 85 dollars a barrel to be adequate, though hard-line nations like Venezuela and Libya would like to see prices rise to 100 dollars or more to compensate for the weak dollar

Expert: Seven-year moratorium on Gulf oil drilling an unwise decision

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines

December 13, 2010 Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbinesEnlarge
UW researchers brave rough conditions in February to lower the monitoring tripod into the water. Credit: University of Washington
Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration project planned for Puget Sound will be the first tidal energy project on the west coast of the United States, and the first array of large-scale turbines to feed power from ocean tides into an electrical grid.

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines

Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines

December 13, 2010 Assessing the environmental effects of tidal turbines

UW researchers brave rough conditions in February to lower the monitoring tripod into the water. Credit: University of Washington
Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration project planned for Puget Sound will be the first tidal energy project on the west coast of the United States, and the first array of large-scale turbines to feed power from ocean tides into an electrical grid.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Back to Google News Ukraine to open Chernobyl area to tourists in 2011

Want a better understanding of the world's worst nuclear disaster? Come tour the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

IANS IAEA to help Bangladesh build N-power plant

  Dhaka, Dec 13 (IANS) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will extend all-out support to Bangladesh in setting up a nuclear power plant, visiting director general of the global nuclear watchdog Yukiya Anano said Monday.
'Bangladesh is an excellent partner of the IAEA. We will help the country strengthen the nuclear infrastructure and capacity building to set up the power plant,' he said.

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Nuclear Power Corp in talks with Coal India: report

Nuclear Power Corporation is in talks with government-owned Coal India on the plans to enter the atomic power sector through a joint venture, according to a report.
The report stated that NPC has launched a programme to increase capacity to 63,000 Mw by 2032 and Coal India is expected to produce 460 mn tonnes coal yearly by March 2012.
NPC’s chairman has reportedly said that Coal India would pump in money towards equity with NPC for various nuclear projects and nuclear projects are developed on a 70:30 debt to equity ratio.

Alstom signs strategic agreements with Russia's hydro, nuclear, thermal, grid firms

Alstom has signed strategic agreements with major Russian energy companies to jointly provide power generation products and services for Russia's power industry in the fields of hydro, thermal, nuclear and electricity transmission.
Russia is looking to expand its power generation capacity to support the country's growing energy needs. The government intends to increase hydropower by 60 per cent by 2020 and double it by 2030.
It has also launched a new nuclear programme with six large reactors under construction and seven replacement plants planned. Ten reactors totaling at least 9.8 GW are to be installed by 2016 and a further 21.7 GW by 2020.
The Russian government also intends to focus on improving energy efficiency by the retrofitting, retirement and replacement of its existing fleet of thermal power plants. To that end, Alstom and the following major Russian energy companies have entered into the following agreements:
In the field of hydropower, Alstom Power has signed a strategic co-operation agreement with RusHydro JSC, Russia's biggest hydropower generation company, to jointly exploit opportunities in the booming Russian hydropower industry.
The agreement covers four key directions of cooperation: reconstruction and modernization of the Kubanski cascade hydropower complex in Southern Russia; cooperation for the development of hydropower activities; cooperation in areas of R&D and investment; and local manufacturing of hydropower equipment in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia.
The Kubanski cascade project will include the installation of a new instrumentation and control system as well as a site security system, following an earlier memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two parties in September 2010.
In the field of nuclear power generation, Alstom Power and the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear infrastructure, under the 2007-established joint venture Alstom-Atomenergomash (AAEM), signed several new agreements to further support Russia's growing nuclear energy market.
One MoU details plans to set up a local facility to manufacture Alstom's Arabelle nuclear steam turbines, the most powerful steam turbines in the world, as well as steam turbines for fossil fuel applications. A second MoU with the Inter RAO UES - Worley Parsons (IRWP) joint venture was signed to establish an engineering consortium to jointly design turbine islands for Russia's VVER reactor-based nuclear power plants.
In the field of thermal power generation, Alstom Power and Inter RAO UES, a key power supplier with a number of generation and distribution assets in Russia and abroad, signed a MoU to develop cooperation in order to jointly provide industrial products and services for Russia's power industry.
Projects will include the installation of new instrumentation and control systems as well as site security systems. The joint venture will produce small steam turbine packages for power and joint district steam heating and power applications.
The MoU also covers cooperation for new and repowered steam plant installations, and for combined cycle applications and associated equipment (boilers, turbines, environmental protection systems, and power automation and controls) operating at supercritical (and above) steam conditions. A further agreement will consider Inter RAO UES' entry into the Alstom-Atomenergomash (AAEM) joint venture's capital.
Alstom Power also signed an agreement with Mosenergo, a subsidiary of Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company, to develop combined cycle power technologies, supply integrated power island solutions for thermal plants and modernize and repower Mosenergo's fleet.
In addition, Alstom has signed a co-operation agreement with Rostechnologii, a specialized Russian organization, involved in the production and supply of Russian high-tech material and equipment, to supply coal fired power plants with Alstom's market-leading steam plant technology and Rostechnologii's Boiler Circulating Pumps (BCP).
In the field of electricity transmission, Alstom Grid and OAO FSK EES, the federal operator of Russia's unified electrical grid system, signed an agreement to establish an Alstom Grid - FSK research cooperation in the Skolkovo technology zone of Moscow, focusing on a variety of tasks intended to increase the efficiency, reliability and security of the Russian electrical grids.
This builds on an earlier industrial and technology cooperation agreement for the modernization of the Russian electrical grid through improved local production and the introduction of advanced Smart Grid technologies. The companies have begun studying options for the localization of the production of Alstom Grid equipment.
The ongoing cooperation covers both technical and production process advancements for products such as high and ultra-high voltage power transformers, gas and air-insulated substations, high voltage direct current transmission (HVDC), flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS), and automation solutions.