Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Saturday, January 1, 2011

US helps Ukraine get rid of enriched uranium

Washington (AFP) Dec 31, 2010 The United States has helped Ukraine remove 50 kilos (111 pounds) of highly enriched uranium from three Ukrainian sites to be disposed of in Russia, US officials announced Friday. The move was made as part of a pledge by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych at a nuclear security summit in Washington in April to remove all his country's highly enriched uranium -- which can be used to make atomic weapons -- by 2012.
"This action brings us all one step closer to securing all vulnerable nuclear materials," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
"These actions represent continued Ukrainian leadership in making sure that nuclear weapons never fall into the hands of a terrorist, and working toward a world without nuclear weapons."
In April 2009, Obama promised in a landmark speech in Prague to work towards a world without nuclear weapons. But he has admitted he does not expect to see that goal reached in his lifetime.
"The removal of this highly enriched uranium from Ukraine is a major milestone that brings us one step closer to US President Obama's goal of securing all nuclear material around the world within four years," said Thomas D'Agostino, director of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
Five flights in the last half of December were made to remove the highly enriched uranium, fly it to Russia in specially designed caskets, and replace it with low enriched uranium for Ukraine, the NNSA said in its statement.
"NNSA worked closely with Ukrainian authorities, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom to complete this very complicated operation," it added.
As part of the deal, NNSA flew two air shipments of low enriched uranium -- which cannot be used to make a bomb -- to replace the highly enriched uranium located at the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research and the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology.
"The remaining three flights removed fresh HEU from the facilities in Kiev and Kharkiv as well as the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Industry and Energy," the NNSA statement added.
The United States also provided Ukraine with new safety equipment and agreed to work with Kiev and Moscow to build a state-of-the-art neutron source facility at the Kharkiv Institute, it added.
"The low enriched uranium and nuclear safety equipment provided to Ukraine in connection with this shipment will support Ukraine's development of safe and secure nuclear energy," Obama added in his statement.
In May, the NNSA working with Ukrainian authorities also successfully removed 56 kilograms (123 pounds) of Russian-origin highly-enriched uranium spent fuel which was taken to Russia by train for storage and disposal.
The US nuclear administration said it had now removed or helped to dispose of 3,085 kilograms (6,700 pounds) of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, adding that represented "enough material to make more than 120 nuclear weapons."
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PM to dedicate Tarapur nuke reprocessing unit next week

PM to dedicate Tarapur nuke reprocessing unit next week

Science and the media: 24 - 30 December

Science and the media: 24 - 30 December

Steve Corneliussen's topics this week:

  • James Fallows's long argument in the Atlantic that the world will inevitably rely on coal for many more decades—and that the US must therefore match China's seriousness about making the phrase clean coal more than an oxymoron.
  • Another "Radiation Boom" medical physics feature article from the front page of the New York Times.
  • A Wall Street Journal editorial accusing the secretary of agriculture of politicizing science.
  • A Times op-ed about global warming and recent cold winters in northern cities.
  • A Times Sunday magazine remembrance of Benoît Mandelbrot, the path-breaking mathematician.
"Clean coal": oxymoron? Let's ask China
George F. Will's 30 December Washington Post column in part discusses—and thereby raises the visibility of—James Fallows's recent Atlantic article "Dirty Coal, Clean Future."

Weapons Sales Maintains U.S. Supremacy

Weapons Sales Maintains U.S. Supremacy

Friday, December 31, 2010

Jordan Moving towards a Nuclear Future

[AMMAN] Jordan is to enter the nuclear age with the announcement on 9 December that construction of its first nuclear research and training reactor will begin by February next year.
The Jordan Centre for Nuclear Research, which will host the reactor, will be built at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, about 70 kilometres north of Amman.
Nedal Xoubi, nuclear fuel cycle commissioner of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), told SciDev.Net that the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR) will be built at the centre at an estimated cost of US$130 million. The building's foundation was laid last month (23 November).
"The new reactor is a keystone in the nuclear infrastructure of Jordan, as a new generation of nuclear engineers and scientists will be trained in the facility," he said.
A South Korean consortium is building the five-megawatt reactor, which will be used for radioisotope production and training and is expected to be fully operational by 2015.
A full nuclear plant will follow, in line with plans to lessen Jordan's dependence on fossil fuel.
"[We want] to transform Jordan from a net energy importer to a net electricity exporter by 2030, with the aim of making low-cost power available to sustain the country's continued economic growth, and to desalinate very much-needed water," said Khalid Touqan, chairman of Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.
"The pursuit of nuclear power is of crucial importance to a country like Jordan, which imports 96 per cent of its energy at a cost of 20 per cent of its gross domestic product and which faces severe water shortages," he said, adding that the kingdom has estimated uranium oxide reserves of about 70,000 tonnes.
But Ahmad Al-Malabeh, professor of earth and environmental sciences in the Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment at the Hashemite University, said: "Having such an ambitious nuclear project requires creating a functioning system for radioactive waste management, in order to avoid an environmental disaster".
Al-Malabeh said that the JAEC should have been subject to an economic feasibility study to compare it with solar power.
"They focused on the nuclear option because of the existence of significant quantities of uranium, despite the fact that Jordan is in the solar belt, which is excellent for generating solar power."
Ahmad Alkofahi, the executive director of the Jordan Environment Society, said: "The environmental societies [of Jordan] are not against initiating a nuclear reactor, but solar and wind power should be initiated in the same way, as they are much better environmentally and economically".
By. Hanan Alkiswany
Source: SciDev

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IAEA Highlights in 2010 A Retrospective View of Year's Major Events Staff Report

IAEA Highlights in 2010

A Retrospective View of Year's Major Events

Staff Report

Thursday, December 30, 2010

N.Korea can build a nuclear bomb a year: ex US defence chief

Report: N.Korea increases flight drills despite fuel pinchSeoul (AFP) Dec 29, 2010 - A North Korean jet has crashed as the country intensified air force exercises following its attack last month on a South Korean frontline island which sent tensions soaring, a newspaper said Wednesday. A MiG fighter disappeared off radar screens last week as the impoverished communist state held unusually extensive winter flight drills, the Korea JoongAng Daily said, quoting a military source. North Korea usually keeps flight drills to a minimum because of severe fuel shortages. The paper said there had been a 150 percent increase in the number of military drills involving all three services compared to December 2009. "It shows that the North Korean military has been very tense after the attack on Yeonpyeong Island," it quoted the source as saying. A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on military intelligence matters.

The North also carried out a corps-scale live-fire drill in response to a joint live-fire exercise by South Korea's army and air force last Thursday, Yonhap news agency said earlier this week. The news agency said the North has test-fired artillery and multiple-rocket launchers five times this month alone. The Korea JoongAng Daily said there have been frequent sightings of North Korean submarines near the disputed Yellow Sea border and artillery was moved nearer to the coast. The South has staged a series of military exercises, including one with the United States, since the North shelled the island near the Yellow Sea border on November 23 and killed four people, including two civilians.
http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/NKorea_can_build_a_nuclear_bomb_a_year_ex_US_defence_chief_999.html Tokyo (AFP) Dec 29, 2010 Former US defence chief William Perry said North Korea was capable of producing one nuclear bomb a year and that Washington should consider high-level talks to defuse tension, in an interview published Wednesday. Perry, who served as defence secretary under president Bill Clinton, told the Nikkei daily that the US government should review its policies towards North Korea and impose economic sanctions to reiterate its stance against Pyongyang's nuclear programmes.
Then, Washington should coordinate policies with Seoul and Tokyo before eventually sending a special envoy for direct talks with Pyongyang, Perry told the Nikkei.
Perry suggested former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former US senator Sam Nunn, an expert on nuclear arms reduction, as possible candidates for such talks, the Nikkei said.
The interview was released in Japanese, with no original English text immediately available.
If North Korea dedicated all of its recently unveiled uranium enrichment facility to making weapons-grade fuel, it could build one nuclear bomb a year, Perry told the paper.
Perry said he had been briefed by American scientist Siegfried Hecker, who recently toured a new uranium enrichment plant with 2,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex.
The facility is likely designed for making fuel for a civilian reactor and not bombs, but there is no way to confirm whether North Korea has another facility to build nuclear weapons, Perry said.
The former defence chief said he still believed in diplomatic solutions to the North Korean crisis.
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With Ink Barely Dry on START, Fight Looms Over Test-Ban Treaty

With Ink Barely Dry on START, Fight Looms Over Test-Ban Treaty
Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers: "Gorbachev, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, is a leading advocate of nuclear disarmament. His call for U.S. ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, foreshadows the next major battle over arms control policy following Obama's victory on Dec. 22, when the Senate ratified a new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty."
Read the Article

A Last-Minute Choice by Texas and Vermont By MATTHEW L. WALD

A Last-Minute Choice by Texas and Vermont

EDF's role in US nuclear market is clouded

NEI News: Nuclear Energy Plays Important Role in Clean Air Act That Marks 40 Years of Progress

Nuclear Energy Plays Important Role in Clean Air Act That Marks 40 Years of Progress
The 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act underscores the importance of nuclear energy in meeting the nation's environmental goals. Signed by President Richard Nixon on Dec. 31, 1970, the act has improved the quality of the air in most U.S. cities and communities. Nuclear energy plants don't burn anything, so they produce no combustion byproducts. Last year, U.S. reactors prevented the emission of 2 million tons of sulfur dioxide, a precursor of acid rain, and 560,000 tons of nitrogen oxide, a key component of ground-level ozone and smog. (Put another way, U.S. emissions of SO2 and NOx would have been 2 million tons and 560,000 tons higher, respectively, if fossil fuels had generated the electricity produced by America's 104 nuclear power plants.) In comparison, that same year, the U.S. electric sector emitted 5.8 million tons of SO2 and 2 million tons of NOx. In 2009, nuclear plants also prevented the emission of 647 million tons of carbon dioxide and thousands of tons of fine particulates.

UPDATE:Brazil BNDES Approves BRL6.1 Bln For Angra 3 Nuclear Plant

BNDES helps cover construction costs for new Brazilian nuclear plant
Brazil's BNDES granted $3.66 billion to fund the construction of the 1,400-megawatt Angra 3 nuclear plant in Angra dos Reis, Brazil. Eletronuclear is building the facility at an estimated cost of more than $5.7 billion. Brazil plans to build five power plants in the next 20 years to balance supply with increasing energy demand. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (12/29)
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China Guangdong Nuclear Plans Two Reactors in Lufeng in Southern Province

Guangdong Nuclear to develop 2 reactors in China
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group will construct two 1,000-megawatt reactors in Lufeng, China, to help cover the increasing demand for power in Guangdong province. The company is also carrying out studies for 25 reactors with more than 28,000 megawatts of capacity. Bloomberg
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Fueling America’s nuclear renaissance by reprocessing nuclear fuel By Dr. Bernard L. Weinstein

Fueling America’s nuclear renaissance by reprocessing nuclear fuel

By Dr. Bernard L. Weinstein - 12/21/10 11:43 AM ET

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama did an about-face and started voicing support for a revival of America’s nuclear power industry. To that end, he proposed a sizeable increase in federal loan guarantees to stimulate the construction of new commercial reactors. Then a few weeks ago, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu stated that Congress should include nuclear power as part of any renewable energy mandates.
But at the same time, the president continues to insist that Yucca Mountain in Nevada — the intended repository for spent nuclear fuel — be abandoned as a disposal site even before it opens. Should this happen, some 60,000 metric tons of spent fuel will remain in temporary on-site storage at 65 plants, and the power industry’s interest in building new nuclear plants could quickly evaporate.
Since 1982, utilities have paid almost $17 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund, an account administered by the DOE that continues to grow by $800 million annually, to cover the costs of permanent disposal. Even after spending $10 billion at Yucca Mountain, with accumulated interest the fund balance is currently around $20 billion. Not surprisingly, 16 utilities, along with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, have sued the DOE to halt further collection of fees, arguing that the country no longer has a disposal plan after ruling out Yucca Mountain.
The Obama administration now says it supports the temporary storage of spent fuel at power plants while technology paves the way for an alternative solution. In fact, that technology already exists — nuclear fuel reprocessing. Given the uncertainty over the future of Yucca Mountain, and the potential explosion of litigation that will only increase taxpayer exposure, why not rethink the decades-old ban on this technology? The ban was first imposed by President Jimmy Carter in the mid-1970s on the grounds it could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But that hasn’t stopped France, Britain, Russia, China and South Korea from pursuing fuel reprocessing; and no plutonium has ever been diverted from recycling facilities for weapons production in these countries.
With reprocessing, a technology that was developed in the United States, valuable plutonium and uranium in spent fuel are removed and then chemically processed into a mixed-oxide fuel that can be used again in a reactor to generate additional electricity. Up to 95 percent of the spent fuel volume can be reprocessed, leaving only about 5 percent to decay in a few centuries. Importantly, reducing the volume of spent fuel through reprocessing would simplify the challenge of storage and disposal. What’s more, squeezing more energy out of spent fuel would be beneficial both to the nation’s economy and the environment. By using reprocessed fuel, we generate more electricity for American homes and businesses while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
One reprocessing facility is already being constructed in South Carolina to recycle surplus plutonium from nuclear weapons into a mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants. Some of the funds that have accumulated in the Nuclear Waste Fund could be used to build a similar plant for recycling used fuel from commercial nuclear facilities.
About a year ago the DOE appointed a blue ribbon commission to evaluate policy options for a safe, long-term solution to nuclear waste disposal. The 15-member Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, co-chaired by former Congressman Lee Hamilton of Indiana and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and including scientists, industry representatives, and heads of environmental research organizations, will issue its final report by January 2012.
Recycling of spent nuclear fuel should be at the top of the Commission’s agenda. Reprocessing, along with centralized interim storage, makes a lot more sense than banking used fuel at nuclear plants indefinitely. At the same time, we should be doing everything we reasonably can to advance America’s nuclear renaissance, a task made more difficult by the ongoing uncertainty regarding the final disposition of spent fuel.
Dr. Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Between 1985 and 1995, he was with the speakers’ bureau of the Nuclear Energy Institute. His email address is bweinstein@smu.edu
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Restart for nuclear plants

New approaches needed to support new nuclear projects
The drive for new nuclear plants can be maximized if the financial and regulatory risks are minimized, writes L. Preston Bryant Jr., a former secretary of natural resources in Virginia. Lawmakers need to reshape the terms of loan guarantees to shield companies from economic uncertainties, he argues. State and federal regulators should also curtail their processes to lessen the upfront funding necessary for building, he adds. The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
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The Shah's Atomic Dreams

More than three decades ago, before there was an Islamic Republic, the West sought desperately to prevent Iran's ruler from getting his hands on the bomb. New revelations show just how serious the crisis was -- and why America's denuclearization drive isn't working.

The Dangers of a Nuclear Iran Eric S. Edelman, Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr, and Evan Braden Montgomery

The Dangers of a Nuclear Iran

Eric S. Edelman, Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr, and Evan Braden Montgomery
Iran's acquisition of a nuclear bomb would upend the Middle East. It is unclear how a nuclear-armed Iran would weigh the costs, benefits, and risks of brinkmanship, meaning that it could be difficult to deter Tehran from attacking the United States' interests or partners in the region. Read
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nuclear Energy Suffers Another Big Blow -- Will the Dying Industry Continue to Beg for More Government Subsidies?

Nuclear Energy Suffers Another Big Blow -- Will the Dying Industry Continue to Beg for More Government Subsidies?

2010 again left the "nuclear renaissance" in the Dark Age that defines the technology. But an Armageddon-style battle looms when Congress returns next year.
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France signs deal with India to supply nuclear power stations $9.2bn contract with Areva to equip site south of Mumbai

Areva closes deal with India to build nuclear power plants
France's Areva agreed with the Nuclear Power Corp. of India to build six 1,650-megawatt European Pressurized Reactors in Jaitapur, India, which are expected to open by 2020 at an estimated cost of $9.2 billion. The project site meets the criteria to "reconcile the objectives of economic growth, fuel-mix diversification, global diplomacy and environmental protection," said Jairam Ranesh, India's environment minister. The Observer (London)

CHAN AKYA The value of a nuclear Iran

The value of a nuclear Iran
A nuclear-capable Iran may be exactly what is required to destabilize the Wahhabi establishment, reduce support for extreme groups such as al-Qaeda - and usher in a new era of democracy across the Middle East. If the issue of Iran's attitude towards Israel can be addressed comprehensively, a strong Shi'ite state may well suit the strategic requirements of both the West and Asia. (Dec 17, '10)

Extending Nuclear Umbrella Is a Bad Idea by Ivan Eland,

Extending Nuclear Umbrella Is a Bad Idea
by Ivan Eland,

Saudi, Russia in talks to sign nuclear pact: report

http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=247854211242866212 Riyadh (AFP) Dec 28, 2010 Moscow and Riyadh are locked in talks to sign a framework agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation, a local daily reported on Tuesday quoting the Russian ambassador to the kingdom. "Signing a nuclear agreement between the two countries will open room for (further) cooperation between them," Oleg Ozerov told Al-Watan daily.
"We believe that if a final agreement was reached with the Saudi part it will be a start for positive and constructive technical and nuclear cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow," he added.
Nuclear cooperation will pave the way for the oil-rich Gulf monarchy to implement a civil atomic programme, said Ozerov.
The world's largest oil supplier is taking a strong interest in developing nuclear energy for domestic use.
The Saudi government has authorised the head of the new King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energies to draft a pact with Moscow on nuclear cooperation, Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja told the official SPA news agency in October.
In July, the cabinet gave the nod to a similar pact with France, which diplomats say is close to being ready for signing. That follows a 2008 nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States.
In April, the government announced the establishment of the centre for research and development into nuclear and renewable energies, and named former commerce minister Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani as its head.
Plans are being drawn up to construct the centre in the desert northwest of Riyadh, officials said at a water and electricity conference in early October
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US Renewables Now Neck-And-Neck With Nuclear Power

http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/US_Renewables_Now_Neck_And_Neck_With_Nuclear_Power_999.html Washington DC (SPX) Dec 29, 2010 According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "nuclear electric power accounted for 11% of primary energy production and renewable energy accounted for 11% of primary energy production" during the first nine months of 2010 (the most recent period for which data have been released). More specifically, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, and wind) accounted for 10.9% of domestic energy production and increased by 5.7% compared to the same period in 2009.
Meanwhile, nuclear power accounted for 11.4% of domestic energy production but provided 0.5% less energy than a year earlier.
Among the renewable energy sources, biomass and biofuels accounted for 51.95%, hydropower for 31.50%, wind for 10.52%, geothermal for 4.65%, and solar for 1.38%. Comparing the first three-quarters of 2010 against the same period in 2009, hydropower declined by 5.2% but geothermal expanded by 1.8%, solar grew by 2.4%, biomass/biofuels increased by 10.0%, and wind grew by 26.7%; combined, non-hydro renewables expanded by 11.5%.
Preliminary data also show that fossil fuels accounted for 78% of primary energy production. Overall, U.S. primary energy production rose by 2% compared with the first nine months of 2009.
"Members of the incoming Congress are proposing to slash cost-effective funding for rapidly expanding renewable energy technologies while foolishly plowing ever-more federal dollars into the nuclear power black hole," said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.
"The numbers clearly show this would be betting on the obvious loser while ignoring the clearly emerging winner in the energy race."
And according to EIA's latest "Electric Power Monthly," renewable energy sources accounted for 10.18% of U.S. electrical generation during the first three-quarters of 2010. Compared to the same period in 2009, renewables - including hydropower - grew by 2.2%.
While conventional hydropower dropped by 5.2%, non-hydro renewable used in electrical generation expanded by 16.8% with geothermal growing by 4.9%, biomass by 5.5%, wind by 27.3%, and solar by 47.1%. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 3.9% of total electrical generation from January 1 - September 30, 2010 - up from 3.5% the year before.
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U.S. dominates Middle East arms market

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_dominates_Middle_East_arms_market_999.html Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UPI) Dec 28, 2010 The United States-dominated defense sales in the Persian Gulf in 2005-09 and delivered 54 percent of the Middle East's military hardware, including advanced systems that had been denied Arab states because of Israeli objections, analysts say. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which monitors global arms sales, said in a recent study that the United Arab Emirates was the largest market for conventional arms in that time frame.
SIPRI reported that U.S. defense companies won 60 percent of contracts by value awarded by the federation of seven emirates, a key oil producer and a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
Dan Darling, a Middle East defense analyst with the U.S.-based Forecast International, said the United States has consolidated its status as the principal supplier of advanced military systems to the United Arab Emirates, which has emerged a regional military heavyweight.
"The U.S. arms sales to these countries are meant to improve the defense capabilities of the recipient nations, reinforce the sense of U.S. solidarity with its GCC partners and, finally, create a semblance of interoperability with American forces," Darling observed.
"This is noteworthy as France has traditionally been a supplier to the United Arab Emirates, selling them everything from combat aircraft to helicopters to battle tanks."
The United States plans to sell Saudi Arabia, the principal power in the GCC and Iran's main rival for regional leadership, advanced weaponry worth some $67 billion over the next 10 years.
That's the biggest arms deal in U.S. history and it's part of some $123 billion in anticipated arms purchases by the gulf states over the next decade as they build up their military capabilities to counter Iran.
"With the Persian Gulf in flux, the United States is trying to get back into a position where the natural Arab-Persian divide in the region balances itself out," the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor observed.
"From the U.S. point of view, Iran and Iraq could go on fighting each other for years -- as they did throughout the 1980s -- as long as neither is capable of wiping out the other.
"Right now, Iraq is in far too weak a position and is too wedded to the Iranians to rebuild itself as a useful counter to Iran, so that responsibility is increasingly falling to Iraq's neighbors."
Stratfor, noting the massive U.S. arms package proposed for Saudi Arabia, said the Americans are "investing the years into shaping the Saudi military into an effective force and encouraging the United Arab Emirates to reduce its vulnerabilities to Iran."
The top four nations providing arms to the region after the United States and France are Russia, Britain and China.
Most Russian and Chinese arms deliveries have gone to Iran. Western suppliers don't deal with the Islamic Republic because of international arms embargoes that have been in effect more or less since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
However, Russia still entertains hopes of securing an arms package worth $2 billion-$2.4 billion to Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh proposed a deal involving 150 T-90 main battle tanks, 250 BMP-3 armored personnel carriers and short- and long-range surface-to-air missiles, apparently to persuade Moscow not to sell powerful S-300PMU air-defense missiles to Iran.
Russia announced in June it wouldn't deliver on its $800 million 2007 deal with Tehran.
Israel, which got $2.78 billion in U.S. military aid in 2010, is the region's second largest defense spender. Its main supplier is the United States, which has vowed to maintain Israel's technological superiority.
"Though the U.S. remains sensitive to the potential erosion of Israel's regional qualitative military edge, it has granted major equipment sales to gulf nations in recent years," observed Darling of Forecast International.
These have included advanced the MIM-104 Patriot air-defense system built by the Raytheon Co. and Lockheed Martin GBU-28 "bunker buster" bombs to the emirates, Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow combat helicopters to Saudi Arabia and Lockheed Martin F-16s, Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon and Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to Egypt.
GCC defense spending is expected to rise in 2011 by an additional 2.5 percent, Darling reported.
"Over the next five years, the greater Middle East defense market is projected to grow by over 11 percent, reaching nearly $120 billion by 2014," he said.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

UAE Pushes on With Plan for First Nuclear Reactors

ENEC seeks permission to build UAE's first reactors
Emirates Nuclear Energy submitted a license application to United Arab Emirates regulators as part of its plan to build the country's first two nuclear power plants in Braka, Abu Dhabi. The state-owned company will be working with Korea Electric Power to model the facilities after reactors constructed in South Korea. ABC News/The Associated Press
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Department of Energy circulating year-end list of accomplishments By Andrew Restuccia

Report: Energy Dept.'s funds focused on nuclear hub, loan guarantees
The Department of Energy recently released its self-compiled list of 2010 accomplishments, which includes as much as $122 million for the development of a Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub and the loan guarantee for Southern Nuclear's Plant Vogtle in Georgia. "Over the past year, the Department of Energy accelerated the drive toward our clean energy economic and security goals, creating tens of thousands of jobs and helping the country to lead the way in science and innovation," the Energy Department said in its year-end report. The Hill/E2 Wire blog
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South Korea To Invest KRW49 Trillion In Power Plants By 2024

S.Korea must improve offer to win nuke deal: Turkish envoy

Seoul (AFP) Dec 27, 2010 South Korea must make an improved offer if it wants to secure a project to build a Turkish nuclear power plant, the country's ambassador to Seoul said Monday. Erdogan Iscan said negotiations that began in March effectively halted after last month's G20 summit in Seoul, when the two sides failed to settle key differences.
"The plan offered by South Korea did not meet Turkey's expectations," he told Yonhap news agency by phone. The embassy confirmed his comments.
South Korea operates 20 reactors, which generate 30 percent of its electricity needs, and is eager to export its expertise as a new growth engine for the economy.
In December 2009 a South Korean-led consortium won a 20.4 billion dollar contract to build four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates, and Seoul hoped to cap this with a deal with Ankara.
But the ambassador told Yonhap the price of electricity was one of three or four major sticking points that held up progress, although he did not elaborate.
Iscan said Turkey has not closed the "Korean file" on the bid to build the Sinop nuclear power plant on the Black Sea coast, but has started formal negotiations with Japan.
He said Turkey cannot delay too long since rapid economic growth is causing energy demand to rise by an average four percent every year.
Turkey wants both the Sinop plant and the Akkuyu plant in the south of the country, that was won by Russia, to go into operation in 2018-2020.
Iscan said that if Seoul decides to improve its offer, Ankara will review it as a competitive bid and consider it along with the proposal made by Tokyo.
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Moscow: Unilateral missile defence will wreck START - 2010-12-25

Moscow: Unilateral missile defence will wreck START
- 2010-12-25 

East vs. West – US nuclear plant costs increase while Chinese costs drop

East vs. West – US nuclear plant costs increase while Chinese costs drop


The Substitution Fallacy: Why the United States Cannot Fully Substitute Conventional for Nuclear Weapons by Elbridge Colby

The Substitution Fallacy: Why the United States Cannot Fully Substitute Conventional for Nuclear Weapons by Elbridge Colby

This guest submission arrives from Elbridge Colby, who offered it to New Paradigms Forum in the wake of Dr. Ford's December 19, 2010, posting on conventional weapons as a potential “replacement” for nuclear ones.  Colby and Ford both participated in the November 17, 2010, conference on “Conventional Deterrence in the Second Nuclear Age, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.  This is Colby's own take on the issue.
Elbridge Colby has served in several national security positions with the U.S. Government, most recently with the Department of Defense working on the follow-on to the START Treaty and as an expert advisor to the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission.  The views expressed in this essay are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of any institution with which he is or has been affiliated.
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Maintaining the triad U.S. bomber force needs a new nuclear cruise missile BY ELBRIDGE COLBY AND THOMAS MOORE

Maintaining the triad
U.S. bomber force needs a new nuclear cruise missile
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Istanbul talks can resolve nuclear row: Iran

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Istanbul_talks_can_resolve_nuclear_row_Iran_999.html Damascus (AFP) Dec 27, 2010 A senior Iranian official said in Damascus on Monday that next month's talks in Istanbul between world powers and Tehran could resolve their dispute over Iran's nuclear programme. "We think (the negotiations), in line with the agenda decided in Geneva, could clear the way to resolving problems," said Ali Baqiri, the deputy of Said Jalili, Iran's nuclear negotiator.
"Continuing the negotiations in Istanbul could bring gains to both the parties concerned," Baqiri told a news conference after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But he criticised the West's two-pronged policy of negotiations at the same time as sanctions, warning it would "lead nowhere."
Despite four sets of UN sanctions slapped on Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme, Iran was "carrying out the most extensive economic programme in its history, showing its level of political, economic and social stability."
Negotiations "based on dialogue and cooperation could bring the other parties out of their impasse," said Baqiri.
Assad, quoted by the state news agency SANA, called in his talks with Baqiri for "a diplomatic compromise guaranteeing Iran's right to possess peaceful nuclear energy."
Last week on a visit to Istanbul for a regional summit, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the world powers to choose cooperation over confrontation at the nuclear talks in late January.
"We think this meeting will be very important," he said.
The negotiations would be the second round between Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, United States and Germany -- after talks resumed in Geneva earlier this month following a 14-month hiatus.
"We have suggested that in the forthcoming Istanbul meeting confrontation be replaced with cooperation and... this will be in the interest of all sides," he said through an interpreter.
"In cooperation we will have a win-win situation. There is no failure or defeat for any party.
The West suspects that Tehran is developing am atomic bomb under the guise of a nuclear energy programme. Iran denies the charges and insists its activities have a purely peaceful purpose.
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Iran to launch 'reconnaissance' satellite

  http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iran_to_launch_reconnaissance_satellite_999.htmlTehran (AFP) Dec 25, 2010 Iran will launch a reconnaissance satellite dubbed the "Fajr" in the next few months, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in a report Saturday by the official IRNA news agency. Vahidi said the Islamic republic would also put into space around the same time another satellite, the Rasad 1 (Observation), whose launch was originally scheduled for August 2010.
Iran is "building different satellites and by end of the (Iranian) year (March 2011), the Fajr and Rasad satellites will be launched into space," the minister was quoted as saying.
The news agency reported that Fajr (Dawn) was a "reconnaissance satellite" that would operate on solar energy.
"These satellites are different from the previous models. They have better fuel systems and can stay in space for a longer time," Vahidi said.
Vahidi said he expected Rasad 1 to be delivered to the communication ministry and launched during the 32nd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution which falls on February 11, 2011.
In February 2009, Iran launched its first home-built satellite, the Omid (Hope).
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N.Korea may stage atom test to boost heir: think-tank

http://www.spacewar.com/reports/NKorea_may_stage_atom_test_to_boost_heir_think-tank_999.html Seoul (AFP) Dec 24, 2010 North Korea may carry out another atomic test next year to bolster the status of leader-in-waiting Kim Jong-Un, a Seoul state think-tank said Friday, a day after the North threatened a nuclear attack. Tensions remain high on the peninsula a month after the North bombarded a South Korean border island and killed four people including civilians.
The North may stage a third test "to demonstrate Kim Jong-Un's military prowess, to improve plutonium-based nuclear weapons and ratchet up military tensions", the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security said.
A new test is needed to improve its plutonium-based bombs using data from the second test in May 2009, the institute, which is affiliated to the foreign ministry, said in a report.
The North has been working for decades to build plutonium-based weapons and last month also disclosed a new uranium enrichment complex -- a potential new way to make bombs.
The report said the North is likely to build up its atomic arsenal next year and might test a uranium-based weapon "to maximise the shock to the outside world".
While six-party nuclear disarmament talks may well resume next year, chances of any progress are slim, it said.
The North is thought to have enough plutonium for maybe six to eight weapons but it is not known whether it can fit them to missile warheads. Nevertheless, it frequently raises the prospect of nuclear war.
On Thursday the North vowed readiness for a "sacred war" using its nuclear weapons.
"The revolutionary armed forces... are getting fully prepared to launch a sacred war of justice of Korean style based on the nuclear deterrent at any time necessary to cope with the enemies' actions deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war," said armed forces minister Kim Yong-Chun.
The North accuses the South of provoking its November 23 bombardment of Yeonpyeong island, near the disputed Yellow Sea border, by holding a firing drill there.
The South Monday staged another drill on Yeonpyeong but the North did not follow through with threats of a new and deadlier attack.
On Thursday Seoul deployed tanks, artillery and jet fighters in a show of force on the mainland.
And the South's defence ministry announced Friday that a giant Christmas tree near the North Korean border would stay lit until January 8.
The move is likely to anger Pyongyang since the date marks the birthday of Jong-Un, youngest son of leader Kim Jong-Il. The communist North sees the tree topped with a glowing cross as a provocative propaganda symbol.
The ministry said it hoped to send "a message of peace to the North" and the timing was just a coincidence.
An international think-tank urged the two Koreas to accept international arbitration to redraw the flashpoint sea border and lessen the possibility of all-out war.
The International Crisis Group, like many other analysts and the Seoul government, said the North's attacks are linked to moves to install Jong-Un as eventual successor.
They are an apparent attempt "to give the inexperienced heir some appearance of military and strategic prowess", the ICG said in a report.
"They also signal to potential rivals among North Korean elites that Kim Jong-Il is willing to take on the South to promote his son and he would therefore have no problem confronting domestic opponents."
There is "a real danger" the North will continue its attacks, it said.
The South's military, accused of a feeble response to last month's attack, has vowed to hit back harder next time by using air power.
The North offered apparent nuclear concessions to US politician Bill Richardson, who ended a visit to Pyongyang this week.
Richardson said it agreed to readmit UN atomic inspectors and negotiate the sale of nuclear fuel rods to a third party.
The New Mexico governor said Thursday a resumption of six-nation talks -- grouping the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan -- could help prevent a new escalation of tensions.
If "they don't react militarily again to this recent drill, then maybe the time has come for the six-party talks," he told CNN, referring to the South Korean exercise staged Thursday.
The North's news agency blamed the United States for the "alarming developments" on the peninsula this year.
It said Washington had orchestrated clashes to test a new military alliance it was forging with Japan and South Korea "to hold hegemony in the Asia-Pacific".
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Israel destroyed Syria nuclear reactor: WikiLeaks

  Jerusalem (AFP) Dec 24, 2010 Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in an air raid just weeks before it went online in 2007, said a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks and published on Friday in an Israeli daily. "On September 6, 2007, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor built by Syria secretly, apparently with North Korea's help," then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote in the cable published in Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
"Our intelligence experts are convinced that the attack targeted by the Israelis is in fact an atomic reactor of the same type built by North Korea in Yongbyon," she wrote in the message dated April 2008.
"We have good reason to believe that the reactor was not built for peaceful purposes," she said, adding the attack came only weeks before the reactor was to become operational.
Rice also noted the secrecy surrounding the construction of the nuclear facility, with the Syrian authorities refusing to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency or any media to inspect the site.
Syria has always denied that the structure targeted by Israeli warplanes was a nuclear reactor, although it has admitted it was a "military site under construction."
Israel has for its part never denied that its air force attacked a target in Syria, without ever officially claiming responsibility for the action.
Former US president George W. Bush recounted in his memoirs that he resisted Israeli pressure to bomb the site.
In 2008, current US President Barack Obama said when he was a Democratic hopeful for the White House that Israel was right to bomb the suspected nuclear facility in Syria.
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S. Korea's first nuclear repository goes into operation

Nuclear-waste repository goes online in South Korea
Korea Radioactive Waste Management started up its nuclear-waste repository in Gyeongju, South Korea, by accepting the first load of intermediate-level waste from the Uljin plant. "The waste can be held safely in the temporary holding area until the underground facility is completed in late 2012," the company said. The Korea Herald (Seoul)/Yonhap News Agency (South Korea)
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Japan, Turkey sign nuclear plant cooperation deal

Japan forges nuclear-cooperation pact with Turkey
Japan signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkey for the construction of a nuclear plant in Sinop, Turkey, according to Japan's trade ministry. Both countries seek to finalize an agreement within three months, said Japanese Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. Reutershttp://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFTOE6BN01C20101224
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