Little progress on nuclear deal after ‘breakthrough’ http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/little-progress-on-nuclear-deal-between-india-and-us-after-breakthrough/article7261405.ece NARAYAN LAKSHMAN 29 May 15 More than four months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a “breakthrough understanding” to resolve a long-standing impasse in the bilateral civil nuclear energy agreement, forward movement has apparently ground to a standstill and neither the government nor the private sector here held out hope for a speedy resolution.
Responding to queries from The Hindu this week a State Department spokesperson said that there was “nothing new to announce on the civil nuclear deal at this time.”
Even as early as February, a top State Department official, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal, indicated that there may not be much more that the two governments could do to smooth the path for U.S. corporations to supply India with nuclear reactors. Ms. Biswal said that while Washington was “still in the process of taking what [India’s latest] top-line commitments were and trading paper to be able to find the more detailed understandings,” for the U.S. resolution of this “lingering challenge” hinged on the convergence between India’s 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLND) and the 1963 CSC.
She emphasised that with the “breakthrough understanding” reached in January, “now it will be up to the companies to assess for themselves the business case scenarios and make their own decisions based on the commercial aspects – how to move forward.”
“Nothing happening” Continue reading
Last week India’s Economic Times reported that the Indian conglomerate Reliance Infrastructure—which owns stakes in numerous Indian defense companies—is seeking Russian assistance for programs to locally produce nuclear submarines and other stealth warships. According to the report, top Reliance executives were in Moscow last week to meet with Russian defense officials about finding a partner for a joint venture between a Russian defense company and Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering, India’s largest defense shipyard, which Reliance has an 18 percent stake in. Specifically, Reliance is looking for a Russian partner with the “requisite technology expertise for manufacturing warships in India.”
As the Economic Times points out, the meetings come on the heels of India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approving a plan for an Indian company to locally manufacture six nuclear submarines and seven stealth warships. The initial investment outlay for the project was set at Rs 1 trillion ($15.67 billion.)
Although the Russian government refused to specifically confirm the report, it did sound receptive to such a possibility…….http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-eyes-massive-nuclear-submarine-deal-india-12997
Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with China, quiet submarines and the South China Sea, SMH, May 11, 2015 Steven Mufson “……….The deal would allow Beijing to buy more US-designed reactors and pursue a facility or the technology to reprocess plutonium from spent fuel. China would also be able to buy reactor coolant technology that experts say could be adapted to make its submarines quieter and more difficult to detect.
The formal notice initially did not draw any headlines. Its unheralded release on April 21 reflected the administration’s anxiety that it might alarm members of Congress and non-proliferation experts who fear China’s growing naval power – and the possibility of nuclear technology falling into the hands of third parties with nefarious intentions.
Now, however, Congress is turning its attention to the agreement. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to hear from five Obama officials in a closed-door meeting on Monday to weigh the commercial, political and security implications of extending the accord. The private session will permit discussion of a classified addendum from the Director of National Intelligence analysing China’s nuclear export control system and what Mr Obama’s notification called its “interactions with other countries of proliferation concern”.
The White House’s willingness to push ahead with the nuclear accord with Beijing illustrates the evolving relationship between the world’s two largest powers, which, while eyeing each other with mutual suspicion and competitiveness, also view each other as vital economic and strategic global partners. The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, argues that the new agreement will clear the way for US companies to sell dozens of nuclear reactors to China, the biggest nuclear power market in the world………..http://www.smh.com.au/world/barack-obamas-nuclear-deal-with-china-quiet-submarines-and-the-south-china-sea-20150511-ggyl25.html
US nuclear deal with China raises proliferation concerns, Guardian Steven Mufson 12 May 15
Critics of Obama agreement are worried about Beijing’s growing naval power “……..The deal would allow Beijing to buy more US-designed reactors and pursue a facility or the technology to reprocess plutonium from spent fuel. China would also be able to buy reactor coolant technology that experts say could be adapted to make its submarines quieter and harder to detect.
The formal notice’s unheralded release on 21 April reflected the administration’s anxiety that it might alarm members of Congress and nonproliferation experts who fear China’s growing naval power – and the possibility of nuclear technology falling into the hands of third parties with nefarious intentions.
Now, however, Congress is turning its attention to the agreement. The Senate foreign relations committee was set to hear from five Obama officials in a closed-door meeting on Monday to weigh the commercial, political and security implications of extending the accord. The private session permitted discussion of a classified addendum from the director of national intelligence analysing China’s nuclear export control system and what Obama’s notification called its “interactions with other countries of proliferation concern”.
The White House’s willingness to push ahead with the nuclear accord with Beijing illustrates the evolving relationship between the world’s two largest powers, which, while eyeing each other with mutual suspicion and competitiveness, also view each other as vital economic and strategic global partners. The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, argues that the agreement will clear the way for US companies to sell dozens of nuclear reactors to China, the biggest nuclear power market in the world……..
The US has bilateral 123 agreements with 22 countries, plus Taiwan, for the peaceful use of nuclear power. Some countries that do not have such agreements, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Malaysia, have expressed interest in clearing obstacles to building nuclear reactors…………..
In December 2006, Westinghouse Electric — majority-owned by Toshiba — signed an agreement to sell its AP1000 reactors to China. Four are under construction, six more are planned, and the company hopes to sell 30 others, according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service.
When it comes to nuclear weapons proliferation, China is in a different category from other 123 agreement nations. It first tested a nuclear weapon in 1964 and now has an arsenal of about 250 nuclear warheads. So US concerns have focused more on whether China has transferred technology to other countries.
“Concerns persist about Chinese willingness as well as ability to detect and prevent illicit transfers,” the CRS report said. “Missile proliferation from Chinese entities is a continuing concern.” The US wants China to refrain from selling missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, a payload of 499kg, as far as 305km. A State Department compliance report in 2014 said that Chinese entities continued to supply missile programmes in “countries of concern”.
China has a pilot plant engaged in reprocessing in Jiu Quan, a remote desert town in Gansu province. Satellite photos show that it is next to a former military reprocessing plant, according to Frank von Hippel, a Princeton University physics professor who specialises in nuclear arms control. There is not even any fencing between the sites, he says. “That’s been one of the hang-ups of the (reprocessing) deal” that China has been trying to negotiate with France for several years, von Hippel said.
Sokolski said the agreement proposed by Obama lacks a requirement for explicit, case-by-case US permission for a reprocessing project using American technology or material from US reactors. It gives consent in advance. And he fears that over the 30-year life of the new 123 agreement, China might want to compete with Russian and US arsenals and make more bombs, for which plutonium is the optimal material…………http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/12/us-china-nuclear-deal-proliferation-concerns
Chinese Nuclear Firms Compete Abroad for Exports and for Market Share at Home, Energy Collective Two giant rival Chinese state-owned nuclear firms are pulling out the stops to achieve success with exports and increased market share of the restarted domestic reactor construction program. The so-called Hualong One, a 1000 MW PWR type reactor, is being hawked by both firms, but with significant enough design differences that potential customers worry about supply chain issues……..
Moving Inland from the Coast
Up to now China has been building its reactors at coastal sites. The reasons include the available seawater for cooling the units and the ability to deliver very large reactor components by barge. However, the China National Energy Administration is now looking at inland sites again. Following the Fukushima earthquake, the agency suspended consideration of new construction starts away from coastal regions.
The main issue was consideration of adequate cooling water supplies in an emergency. At issue is a 100% fail safe supply of water in regions which may have some areas which may have inadequate freshwater resources even without the demand of a new power plant………http://theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/2223861/chinese-nuclear-firms-compete-abroad-exports-and-market-share-home
Nuclear power industry hopes for a new era, Standard Times James Osborne, Apr 25, 2015“…….With high-profile advocates like former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Whitman on board, the industry is embarking on a very public campaign arguing nuclear must be part of any national energy plan. To accomplish that, it wants to examine amending power and licensing regulations to encourage nuclear and speed up construction.
the industry will face opposition. Nuclear remains a divisive issue among environmentalists. Some support it as a proven means to cut carbon emissions out of the nation’s power supply.
But there are many see its potential contamination risks as just too great to make it sensible……..http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/state/nuclearpowerda_54975979
Obama proposes 30-year agreement with China on nuclear power WASHINGTON
(Reuters) 22 Apr – President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed a 30-year agreement to cooperate with China on nuclear power, a deal that would allow the transfer of material, reactors, components and technology between the two nations, if approved by the U.S. Congress.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason!) http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/21/us-usa-china-nuclear-idUSKBN0NC29220150421
South Korea and the United States agreed a new nuclear cooperation pact Wednesday that stopped short of granting Seoul the permission it had sought to start reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
But Seoul welcomed the deal, saying it provided a framework for improving spent fuel management and boosting nuclear exports. The new pact, which replaces an existing 1974 accord, was struck after four-and-a-half years of intense, drawn-out negotiations.
The main sticking point had been South Korea’s desire to develop uranium enrichment and reprocessing capabilities in order to address concerns about energy security and the management of spent nuclear reactor fuel.
Seoul says its storage facilities for spent fuel will reach capacity in 2016.
Long-standing US policy opposes the spread of such capabilities because they can be used to produce weapons-grade nuclear material and therefore pose a significant proliferation risk.
A South Korean statement on the new deal was short on specific detail but suggested it opened the door to reprocessing sometime in the future, by allowing South Korea to conduct “research” into spent fuel management.
That includes research into “pyroprocessing”—a new technology considered largely proliferation resistant, since the product is thermally and radioactively far too hot to use for a weapon.
“We established a pathway to lift some restrictions on activities in Seoul-owned facilities and to allow certain activities in the future,” the statement from the foreign ministry said……..
The deal was signed by Park and the US ambassador to Seoul, Mark Lippert, and will now go through an internal review process in both countries prior to ratification.
South Korea is a key US military ally and analysts say Washington’s concerns on allowing reprocessing stem less from a distrust of Seoul’s ultimate intentions than from the impact it might have on negotiations with other countries.
There are also worries that wider concessions on reprocessing could further complicate efforts to roll back North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Currently, Japan is the only non-nuclear weapons state that has both the technical capability and international permission to operate a commercial spent-fuel reprocessing programme.
Seoul had argued that allowing Japan to reprocess while denying South Korea the same concessions, smacks of double-standards, but Japan was forced to accept highly intrusive safeguards and, US officials point out, it doesn’t have North Korea on its border.
South Korea is the fifth-largest consumer of nuclear energy in the world, and relies on 23 nuclear reactors to meet about 30 percent of its annual power needs.
It has sought to become a leading exporter of nuclear power plants since it won a $20 billion deal in 2009 to build nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates. http://phys.org/news/2015-04-south-korea-nuclear.html#jCp
The US Congress has to approve the nuclear cooperation agreement for it to go into effect. http://sputniknews.com/us/20150421/1021197861.html#ixzz3Xz1ERlru
RPT-“Made in China” nuclear reactors a tough sell in global market Mar 8, 2015 By Charlie Zhu and David Stanway (Reuters) – As China signs global deals to export its nuclear power technology, it faces a huge obstacle: it still needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home……..
Premier Li Keqiang told an annual parliamentary meeting this week that the China aimed to increase its share of global sales in a range of advanced industries, including implementing major projects in nuclear power. And in a sign of progress on exporting its own nuclear technology, China signed a preliminary agreement last month to sell its flagship Hualong 1 reactor to Argentina.
But despite state media describing the deal as the model’s “maiden voyage”, China has not yet built Hualong 1, raising questions about the country’s capacity to deliver reactors for the global market.
“Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough. There is a big gap with international standards,” said Xu Lianyi, a senior expert at China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC), referring to the challenges China faces expanding its nuclear power sector.
SNPTC, which was set up to receive technology transferred from Westinghouse Electric Co., is trying to develop another reactor ultimately targeted at the world market. Although China has operated Western-designed reactors at home for more than 20 years, it will need to convince buyers of the reliability of its own technology, particularly given a chequered reputation on industrial standards and safety in some other areas such as mining.
China’s first Hualong 1 project, in Fujian province, may not be completed until 2020, assuming it breaks ground this year and construction goes smoothly, said Li Ning, dean of the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University…….
Beijing has promised to stick to the highest safety standards, using so-called “third generation” reactors like Hualong 1 and CAP1400, another home-grown model identified for future export. Due to be based on technology transferred from Westinghouse, the launch of CAP1400 will depend on the completion of a pilot Westinghouse third-generation reactor in Zhejiang province, which is facing a three-year delay because of technological problems……
Under a hotly-fought multibillion-dollar nuclear power deal struck with Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse, China secured a significant technology transfer agreement in 2007. China has been absorbing and localising the technology to develop the CAP1400 and says it has full intellectual property rights on the model and Hualong 1.
The Beijing office of Westinghouse, which is now controlled by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
While technology rights may not stoke tensions, Beijing’s pledge to aid the overseas expansion of Chinese firms risks raising the hackles of competitors if sectors like nuclear are deemed unfairly subsidised…….
an official at the China National Nuclear Corporation, which is leading efforts to export Hualong 1 to Argentina, said China still has “huge amounts of work to do” before it can become a nuclear powerhouse, including rolling out Hualong I at home. The official declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media…….http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/08/china-nuclear-idUSL4N0WA0T620150308
Saudi Arabia, South Korea sign MOU on nuclear power Wed Mar 4, 2015 Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy, Saudi state news agency SPA said, building on a deal signed in 2011.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday in Riyadh during an official visit, SPA said.
The MOU calls for South Korean firms to help build at least two small-to-medium sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.
“If the two units go ahead, the cost of the contract will be (near) $2 billion,” the statement said……http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/saudi-south-korea-nuclear-idUSL5N0W61GM20150304
SA’s nuclear deal with Russia is far from done, Mail & Guardian 20 FEB 2015 LISA STEYN Money is the big problem with the initial agreement Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed last year, given the financial positions of both countries. Russia has emerged as an apparent frontrunner to participate in South Africa’s nuclear build, but selecting the technology is just the first of many challenges that could see a nuclear deal such as this come a cropper.
With the Russian economy in turmoil and the subsequent high cost of borrowing, its ability to raise the funding for its nuclear ambitions in many countries is being called into question – as is its ability to deliver on time.
For South Africa, it is even more of a mystery how the government will provide the loan guarantees that would be required, given that so many have been extended to ailing parastatals such as Eskom and SAA. The state may have hit its limit.
Regardless of which vendor is chosen, the guarantees and the government’s 50% localisation target for the project appear to be insurmountable obstacles, particularly given the challenges faced by the domestic construction industry.
The memorandum of understanding signed between Russia and South Africa last year is far more than a generic agreement, as the government had claimed it is. Rather, it lays the groundwork for government-to-government contracting, in terms that heavily favour Russia, the Mail & Guardian reported last week.
Not only will the agreement be binding for 20 years once in force, but the Russians will also be indemnified from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ life. Russia is also granted a host of regulatory concessions and favourable tax and other financial treatment. The designated competent authorities are South Africa’s department of energy and Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.
But unresolved issues could make the deal unworkable. An industry expert, who did not wish to be named, said: “My own view is I don’t think the guys driving it from the South African side have joined the dots. I don’t have huge confidence in the people running it and that they understand the issues.”
Despite the apparent commitment to forge ahead with Russian technology, the agreement defers a decision about funding.
The Russians are known to have offered South Africa a “build, own, operate” construction deal, according to which Russia would build and run the nuclear station, and sell the power to South Africa at an agreed price. This kind of vendor-assisted financing may be the only way South Africa could afford to go nuclear. But the bigger question now is: Can Russia?
First, sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its military intervention in the Ukraine. Then the oil price tumbled, severely hitting government revenues, which are heavily reliant on oil and gas taxes. Subsequently, the rouble has lost almost 50% of its value since the start of 2014, inflation has soared to 15%, and its sovereign credit rating was cut to sub-investment grade by one agency in January. And, in 2014 alone, $151-billion was taken out of the country.
Some nuclear economists and industry insiders believe this dire state of affairs could affect Russia’s nuclear ambitions, as new builds involve high upfront costs and are extremely sensitive to the cost of financing, which is mainly the interest rates at which the funding is secured…….
The unnamed industry expert, however, expressed concern that Russia might commit itself to a further agreement but not honour it. He said other nations that had signed nuclear deals with Russia, such as Vietnam, India and Turkey, had all experienced delays………….. http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-19-sas-nuclear-deal-with-russia-is-far-from-done
Russia and China outgun the West in civil nuclear exports Ft.com 20 Feb 15 By Matthew Cottee, International Institute for Strategic Studies
East–West nuclear rivalry is back. The Ukraine crisis threatens the emergence of a new Cold War, and with it the return to a standoff between nuclear-armed opponents. Meanwhile, nuclear rivalry is shaping up in another arena: exports of civil nuclear technology represent a new battleground in which Russia – and increasingly China – are significantly outgunning the West, with troubling implications for global nuclear governance……..
untested Chinese technology is being installed at a facility in Pakistan, although progress on construction was recently halted by courts in Karachi citing environmental concerns. Despite this setback, Beijing has ambitions to export nuclear technology on a large scale. The February merger of China Power Investment Corporation and State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation—designed to consolidate expertise in international technology transfer and nuclear power production—suggests that Beijing is positioning itself to increase international supply of its own nuclear technology in the future.
An assessment of the dynamics of nuclear supply already provides difficult reading for Western suppliers such as Areva or Westinghouse, who are simply unable to compete with Chinese and Russian financing. According to data from the World Nuclear Association, Russia is currently building 37 per cent of the civil nuclear facilities under construction globally, followed by China with 28 per cent. Rosatom, the Russian nuclear corporation, has orders on its books worth US$100bn.
Both Russia and China are offering prospective buyers, predominantly in emerging economies, generous financial support to gain access to a range of markets. Moscow has already transferred technology to Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela, and in November 2014 announced that it would build up to eight new nuclear reactors in Iran, despite continuing concerns about Tehran’s nuclear intentions. A preliminary agreement signed last week between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi suggests this trend shows no signs of abating.
In addition to the on-going relationship with Pakistan, China has also signed bilateral deals to provide new nuclear reactors to Argentina and is expected to be closely involved in the new nuclear build at Hinkley Point in the UK. While the Chinese contribution to the British facility will be financial, this is a likely precursor to an operational role at future UK nuclear sites, with the possibility of indigenously designed Chinese technology being installed on Britain’s east coast………http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2015/02/20/guest-post-russia-and-china-outgun-the-west-in-civil-nuclear-exports/
The sixty-year pitch.From a dancing housewife to Homer Simpson and beyond, here are some memorable moments in the long grind to sell nuclear power to a wary public. Environmental Health News Third of three parts. Part 1: Last Tango for nuclear?; Part 2: Atomic Balm. February 13, 2015 By Peter Dykstra The nuclear power industry has often been its own worst enemy through its marketing.
At the height of the Cold War in 1953, President Eisenhower rolled out the “Atoms for Peace” campaign, envisioning everything from electrical generation to harnessing atomic bombs to dredging harbors and damming rivers. The following year, Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss upped the ante, envisioning a day when “our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”
The Atom and Eve
Strauss was placing his bets on nuclear fusion, which, sixty years later, is still on the drawing board. And the meters are still ticking away.
Eager to invest in nukes, utilities took their cue from the AEC Chairman. The Atomic Industrial Forum, the first nuclear power trade association, led the way in messages equating nuclear power with easy living and patriotism. Utilities ran ad campaigns that promised cheap nuclear energy.
From hot times to deep freeze
Nuclear power plant construction hit its Golden Era in the 1960’s. A late Sixties video touting proposed New England nukes, “The Atom and Eve,” is a memorable example from the era: Eve is a dancing housewife, reveling in the virtues of an all-electric kitchen powered by clean, safe nuclear energy. The video’s cigarette-smoking safety engineer looks like he was plucked out of the fission edition of Mad Men, but it’s Eve’s show. She pirouettes around household appliances, caressing the refrigerator, fondling an electric range, and (viewer advisory!) at about the 8:45 mark, she pretty much makes it to third base with an electric washer-dryer combo.
By the end of the decade, rising protests at nuclear plant construction sites and the near-calamity of Three Mile Island changed the game. Public mistrust grew, particularly after Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers accused Pennsylvania officials and Three Mile Island’s operators of downplaying risks……
Nervous Nineties and beyond
In 1998, industry advertising was whacked by the Better Business Bureau, which ruled in favor of environmental groups and a windmill power producer that nuclear ads could not boast of producing “environmentally clean” power. When those claims continued, the groups won a similar ruling from the Federal Trade Commission a year later.
As the 21st Century rolled in, the industry increasingly marketed itself as a remedy to climate change concerns, with a parade of prominent citizens, some of them paid spokespeople, plugging nuclear.
Then, in 2011, came Fukushima, and the industry’s umpteenth redemption pitch was in doubt. And Japan, by reputation one of the best-prepared and most safety-conscious nation on Earth, went into damage control mode, including at least one world-class PR overreach: Tokyo Electric Power’s legal team argued in court that radiation released by the Fukushima meltdowns was no longer the company’s responsibility.
The court was not amused.
Today, the domestic nuclear industry is relying heavily on selling nuke plants as a climate change solution. ……http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2015/feb/essay-the-sixty-year-pitc
India to supply nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | 17 Feb, 2015 NEW DELHI: With an eye on checking China’s growing ambitions in South Asia, India has signed a landmark civil nuclear pact with Sri Lanka – the first such agreement to supply nuclear power reactors to a foreign nation – and decided to expand defence and security cooperation to address Colombo’s requirements.
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