The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China concerned at the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal

China warns North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is expanding, report says, Guardian, 23 Apr 15 
Chinese experts believe their communist ally may already have an arsenal of 20 warheads and the enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year. 
Chinese nuclear experts believe North Korea may already have a nuclear arsenal of 20 warheads and the uranium enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The estimate, which the Journal said was relayed to US nuclear specialists in a closed-door meeting in February, is significantly higher than any previously known Chinese assessment.

It also exceeds recent estimates by US experts which put the North’s current arsenal at between 10 and 16 nuclear weapons.

A leading expert on North Korea’s nuclear programme, Siegfried Hecker, who attended the February meeting, said a sizeable North Korean stockpile would only compound the challenge the international community faces in persuading Pyongyang to decommission the weapons.

“The more they believe they have a fully functional nuclear arsenal and deterrent, the more difficult it’s going to be to walk them back from that,” Hecker told the Journal.

The Chinese estimate reflects growing concern in Beijing about the nuclear ambitions of its errant ally, and is the latest in a series of expert assessments that suggest Pyongyang is moving faster down the nuclear path than previously thought.

A recent report by US researchers warned that North Korea appeared poised to expand its nuclear program over the next five years and, in a worst case scenario, could possess 100 atomic arms by 2020……

April 25, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US uranium mine- how Russia gained control

How Putin’s Russia Gained Control of a U.S. Uranium Mine, Bloomberg, 24 Apr 15  by  Since 2013, the nuclear energy arm of the Russian state has controlled 20 percent of America’s uranium production capacity.

Rosatom’s acquisition of Toronto-based miner Uranium One Inc. made the Russian agency, which also builds nuclear weapons, one the world’s top five producers of the radioactive metal and gave it ownership of a mine in Wyoming.

The deal, approved by a committee that included then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also followed donations from Uranium One’s Canadian chairman to the Clinton Global Foundation, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

 In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ian Telfer, the former Uranium One chairman and current chairman of Goldcorp Inc., said he pledged a donation of $3 million to the Clinton charity in March 2008, “when it was never contemplated that at some point in the future the Russian government would become a major shareholder of Uranium One.”……

Rosatom gained full control of Uranium One in early 2013.

Rosatom styles itself as Russia’s national nuclear corporation and today Uranium One is its international mining arm. As well as Willow Creek and the Kazakhstan assets, it owns mines in Australia and has exploration assets in Africa and the U.S…….

April 25, 2015 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium deal by Canada to India puts South Asian security at risk

Nuclear non-proliferation selectivism Senator Sehar Kamran April 22, 2015 Canada recently signed a 280 million dollar deal for the supply of 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium over the next five years to India, a nuclear weapon state outside the NPT. This deal comes against the backdrop of experts’ warnings that the agreement will spur proliferation in the region, and if the Indian test of Agni III, mere hours after the signing of the deal, is any indication of things to come, the warnings are not without cause. The deal, if put in perspective of the recent efforts by the West to bring outlier states to abide by the rules of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), undermines the efforts for the universalisation of a rules-based nuclear non-proliferation regime.

It is staggering to think that the very same country that forsook all nuclear cooperation some 45 years earlier with India after the latter diverted nuclear fuel from Canadian reactors, supplied for ‘peaceful, civilian’ use, to conduct a nuclear weapons test would now actively sign a 5-year deal that can only further exacerbate the South Asian security dilemma. The deal brushes aside the entire controversy of the Indian episode of proliferation of nuclear fuel for conducting a nuclear test. At the very least, it is not a story any of the major powers are ready to lend an ear to anymore, busy as they are cashing in on the growing market economy of India. Paul Meyer, Canada’s former permanent representative to the Geneva Disarmament Conference expressed his fears in this regard saying that, “All of this flows from decisions where we essentially sold the shop some years back, sacrificing our nuclear non-proliferation principles and objectives for some other considerations, and I think it’s been a very poor deal for us in terms of the risks of nuclear proliferation.”

This deal cannot be seen but in the context of the Indo-US strategic partnership and the civilian nuclear deal forged between New Delhi and Washington in 2007. It is after all the Indian civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the US that has opened the floodgates of nuclear technology for an otherwise sanctioned India. This agreement between the US and India was tailored to bring the country at par with other nuclear weapon states of the NPT, without, unfortunately, any of the ensuing non-proliferation obligations that come with the NPT.   Given the geopolitical context and timing of the Indo-US deal, it appears to have been a strategic necessity for a superpower in decline, struggling to maintain a unipolar world order and checking the rise of an economically strong challenger – China. India’s role therefore, on this strategic chessboard has come to be that of a strategic bulwark against China.
The Indo-US deal indicates an implicit recognition of India’s nuclear weapon status, proffering a unique status to India notwithstanding its similar case for nuclear weapons acquisition as Pakistan. It also works against the much-touted US principles of propagating nuclear restraint in South Asia. The agreement has enhanced India’s strategic capability, freeing its domestic uranium reserves for military use, apart from its equally unsafeguarded breeder reactors programme.
Following the US-India nuclear agreement and the NSG waiver, several other states have also engaged in nuclear commerce with India, and the Canadian deal is only the most recent example. Thus far, India has secured nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, France, the US, Australia and Canada. Noticeable here is the fact that Australia despite being a NNWS of NPT that held out for so long against such a deal has in the end, given in for economic benefits over moral ground.
India has made it a point in these deals, to convince its nuclear partners to forgo the provision of tracking the nuclear fuel end bound for India, especially from Australia and the US. Such a commitment is not only a violation of the NPT, to which all these states except India are a party, but also raises serious non-proliferation related challenges. It essentially demonstrates how India would be free to divert the nuclear fuel supplied for civil nuclear energy production for weapons with no check.
A series of measures have also been instituted by the US for easing nuclear-related sanctions on India and facilitating its access to nuclear technology control regimes. This includes the assurances by Washington to India for membership of the export control regimes.
India’s membership of NSG opens the gates for advanced technology in the nuclear field for dual-use items, making India a potential supplier as well. India as a state outside NPT, non-signatory to CTBT and continuing to produce fissile material, does not fulfill the criteria for NSG membership. Moreover, the resultant technological advancements pose an equally great challenge for Pakistan in this field and destabilise deterrence stability in the region.
While debating the non-proliferation issues in South Asia, one also has to take into cognisance the fact that India’s so-called ‘Peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE)’ triggered the South Asian proliferation in the nuclear domain and also led the international community to think of controlling nuclear technology more stringently. The NSG, now considering the Indian membership, was created specifically after the illegal Indian diversion of nuclear fuel for the nuclear test.
For Pakistan, the reward for a stringent export control on nuclear technologies and a transparent nuclear command and control structure has not been forthcoming from the international community. The lesson learnt is that it is geopolitics rather than a good non-proliferation record that governs eligibility for nuclear commerce.
Unlike its regional rival and other nuclear weapon states, Pakistan is the only state that has made its nuclear command and control structure explicit and constructively engages with the international community on these issues.
The regional security complex in which Pakistan is situated has left the state with few options. While American strategic compulsions might require building India as a counter weight to China, it will be at the cost of undermining regional non-proliferation and global nuclear non-proliferation norms, and the repercussions will be for Pakistan to bear. Many believe the nuclear competition in Southern Asia to be triangular; however, the nuclear cooperation offered by world powers to India will have direct implications for Pakistan specifically. Being conventionally weaker and constrained by economy, the state has to rely on maintaining a precarious strategic balance vis-à-vis India. India’s increasing fissile material stocks, both Pu and HeU, alongside its introduction of capabilities like BMD systems, canister launch system for missiles, MIRVed technology combined with the confidence to fight a conflict and control escalation, involve dangerous trends for the region. Indian missiles, cruise, hypersonic missiles and long-range ICBM production negate any claim of a minimum credible deterrence.
On the issue of the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, criteria governing the inclusion of prospective outliers can help lessen the damage done to the non-proliferation regime by exemptions such as the 123 Agreement. It would also ensure that only those states qualify for nuclear commerce that uphold the nuclear non-proliferation norms and promote them. Such a move would also reiterate the nuclear community’s impartiality in mainstreaming nuclear non-proliferation treaty outliers.
Unless the regional concerns relating to development of technologies and impartiality in determining the future of non-proliferation outliers is established, non-proliferation concerns in South Asia will continue to pose a challenge. To convert this challenge into opportunity, the international community should promote indiscriminate policies to establish balanced and criteria-based engagements in the nuclear arena.

The writer is the President of Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) and Member Senate Standing Committees on Defence.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | politics international | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal a good template for all countries, to reduce nuclear weapons proliferation

diplomacy-not-bombsCould Iran be the start?  Erika Simpson,  Postmedia Network Friday, April 17, 2015 Japan’s prime minister during the Fukushima catastrophe, Naoto Kan, delivered a message at the World Uranium Symposium in Quebec City in mid-April that it is time for the world to put an end to nuclear power. The symposium, held for the first time in Canada, tackled uranium issues, ranging from mining to fuel for nuclear reactors to explosive material for nuclear weapons.

This year will be a key year for debating the future of uranium, nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. It’s the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it’s time again for the UN conference that reviews the nuclear non-proliferation treaty every five years.

But the most high-profile nuclear issue is the interim accord between Iran and six world powers to restrict Iran’s development of nuclear power.

In the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, one fatal flaw is the quid pro quo deal in which the nuclear haves agreed to provide uranium and nuclear energy to the have-nots, which would continue to be non-nuclear, and in exchange the haves promised to get rid of their nuclear arsenals and move toward general disarmament. Fifty years ago, diplomats should have foreseen the problems with such discriminatory arrangements.

Another problem with the treaty stems from oil-rich countries, like Iran, and poor countries, like India and Pakistan, seeking to build nuclear power plants for reasons ranging from abundant energy and technological prestige to their not-so-secret desire to build nuclear weapons.

But by agreeing in the interim accord to enrich uranium to 3.7% only, Iran will forego the possibility of producing weapons-grade and weapons-usable uranium. Iran also promises to take two-thirds of its centrifuges out of service — the most-advanced centrifuges needed to make highly-enriched uranium.

In fact, India, Israel, Pakistan and many other countries will have nuclear programs that are far more extensive and dangerous than Iran’s. Moreover, all countries with nuclear power and nuclear weapons will continue to produce hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste that need human stewardship for many generations into the future.

If the fundamentals of the Iranian deal could be treated as a template for all countries, the international community would be well on its way to choking off the supply of weapons-usable material everywhere.

But the Iran deal will be opposed by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Republicans in the U.S. Congress and the remaining strong supporters of Israel in the Harper cabinet. In a rare bit of bipartisan compromise, the U.S. Congress and the Senate foreign relations committee amended language that threatened to give U.S. hawks a chance to derail the talks and raise the risk of military strikes.

All the proliferators that refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty and accept the strictest safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency — like Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan — must be sanctioned, not just Iran………

Within the existing framework of international law, the proposed Iranian deal is as good as we can expect.

The entire nuclear regime, especially its cornerstone treaty, needs much stronger debate and qualified support.

The good news is there are many regional nuclear-weapon-free treaties around the world, covering large swaths of Central and Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia. Each commits the states not to deploy, construct, receive or test nuclear weapons on its territory. Already 113 nations — a majority of UN members — have signed or ratified these treaties, and 50% of the world’s land area is governed by them.

There are even opportunities here in Canada to dismantle the nuclear option……..

Erika Simpson was a speaker at the World Uranium Symposium and will be a speaker at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. She is an associate professor of international relations at Western University and the author of the book NATO and the Bomb.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Austria’s opposition to nuclear power

Why Austria traditionally opposes nuclear power Andreas Molin The Daily Star Last October, the European Union approved a controversial subsidy deal to allow billions of pounds of state aid for Hinkley Point C, a new nuclear reactor planned for the United Kingdom. Austria’s intention to launch a legal challenge against this decision has provoked controversial comments in international media. So, why does Austria care about a nuclear power plant being built in the U.K., and what are the real issues at stake?

Austria has been deeply skeptical about nuclear power for decades. Recall that in a 1978 referendum, the Austrian electorate decided not to start the operation of the nuclear Zwentendorf power plant. After the catastrophic events in Chernobyl in 1986, the opposition to and concerns about nuclear power became deeply rooted in the Austrian population, at all levels of society. (Austria was among those countries in Central Europe that were most affected by the disaster.)

Information regarding the safety of nuclear power plants of Russian design, which became public after 1989, reinforced these apprehensions, leading to explicit government policy in 1990.

A joint publication by the Heads of the European Radiological protection Competent Authorities and the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association released in October 2014 clearly states “that the possibility of severe accidents … cannot be completely ruled out. Such accidents could be as severe as the Fukushima one, affect more than one European country and require rapid protective actions in several of them.”

The transboundary nature of the risks associated with nuclear power dictates that the legitimate interests of Austrian citizens are represented in relation to all nuclear projects and installations.

As a matter of principle, Austria does not consider nuclear power to be compatible with the concept of sustainable development. Therefore, it does not consider reliance on nuclear power to be a viable option to combat the greenhouse effect. Sustainable development, if fully applied to the energy sector, would require substantial increases in energy efficiency and energy saving as well as a switch to renewable sources of energy.

It has been argued that the Austrian government’s long-standing position on this subject, supported by numerous resolutions in parliament, is at the core of the intended legal challenge. But that is not the case. Austria fully respects every country’s sovereign right to decide on its national energy mix.

The Austrian objection stems from concern about the provision of British aid for the project, and the extent to which it would comply with common European state aid and competition rules. The current European Environmental and Energy State Aid Guidelines allow, under strictly defined circumstances, for state aid to renewable energy projects, but there are no such rules for nuclear power projects. Therefore, an assessment has to be made on the basis of general EU competition law.

As a general rule, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union prohibits state aid, while it leaves some room for certain policy objectives for which state aid can be considered compatible with the internal market.

European Commission guidelines and decision practice, as well as the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction, have developed a set of principles that put these exemptions to the general rule into concrete terms. As the planned state aid for Hinkley Point C differs tremendously from all of these principles, it seems inevitable that the European Commission’s decision will be challenged.

The commission seems to be relying heavily on the idea of market failure, for instance, to justify its decision. This cannot be accepted: If the market fails to finance an unsustainable project, it is simply doing its job.

In essence, the arguments raised in order to justify this state aid could apply to any other large-scale power project as well. State aid for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant could therefore not only serve as a model for further nuclear new build projects, but also lead to a run on state aid throughout the entire EU energy sector.

Against this background, Austria felt it had no option but to challenge this state aid decision in the courts of the European Union. This action is not aimed at any particular EU member state, but rather seeks to defend a common competition regime, which this decision could render meaningless.

Andreas Molin is the director of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. He is the Austrian representative in the Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has served as vice chairman of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group(ENSREG) since 2011. This commentary originally appeared at TheMark News (

April 22, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, opposition to nuclear, politics international | Leave a comment

Call to Australian and Canadian govts not to sell uranium to India

International call not to sell uranium to India April 15, 2015

QUÉBEC CITY, CANADA: The Australian Conservation Foundation has called on the
India-uranium1Canadian and Australian governments not to further advance controversial plans for uranium sales to India.

The call comes as Australian nuclear free campaigners join Indigenous landowners affected by uranium projects to present at the World Uranium Symposium in Québec.

The conference takes place against the backdrop of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s trip New Delhi to advance planned uranium sales.

“Canada and Australia should show responsibility restraint and prudence, as India has been criticised widely over the safety, security and transparency of its nuclear industry,” ACF’s Dave Sweeney said. “Australia and Canada should not rush into uranium sales agreements with India while serious concerns about safety and security remain unresolved.”

Australia’s controversial uranium deal with India has been widely criticised, including by former safeguards director John Carlson, who was for two decades head of Australia’s safeguards regime and was a keen nuclear promoter.  Mr Carlson has raised concernsthat the new treaty’s administrative arrangements could substantially depart from Australia’s usual safeguards conditions, meaning Australia may be unable to keep track of what happens to uranium supplied to India.

Speaking from Québec ACF’s Dave Sweeney called on the Canadian and Australian governments not to further fuel instability in South Asia by selling uranium into the already volatile region.

“Uranium is not like other minerals.  It is the fuel for nuclear weapons and creates carcinogenic waste that lasts for thousands of years,” he said. “Fuelling danger and instability in India is not in the interests of Canada or Australia.”

April 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Canada, India, politics international | Leave a comment

Significant concessions made by Iran in nuclear deal

diplomacy-not-bombsAs Iran pursues a peaceful nuclear programme, Iran’s enrichment capacity, enrichment level and stockpile will be limited for specified durations, and there will be no other enrichment facility than Natanz. Iran’s research and development on centrifuges will be carried out on a scope and schedule that has been mutually agreed.

flag-IranThe grand bargain: What Iran conceded in the nuclear talks, Brookings, Richard Nephew | April 18, 2015  
Since the P5+1 and Iran announced the agreed parameters for a comprehensive settlement of the Iran nuclear issue earlier this month, Washington punditry has obsessed over the fine points of both the joint statement read by EU Foreign Minister Mogherini and Iranian FM Zarif, and the fact sheet released by the Obama administration, to identify concessions made by the United States.

Much attention has centered on centrifuge numbers, the strategic implications of the Iranian nuclear program within the context of the deal and the decision to provide early sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for substantial nuclear steps by Iran.As with everything in Washington as late, the discussion quickly divided into two camps: those convinced that Obama gave up critical advantage over Iran too readily in order to get a nuclear deal that, even if better than what was anticipated, still is not satisfactory; and, those convinced that, given the alternatives, what Obama achieved was worth such concessions.

Lost in all of the noise is any consideration of what Iran had to give up in order to get a deal and the value of what it will really get from sanctions relief (bearing in mind, of course, the fact that no deal has actually yet been signed and its premature to start the score-carding). For some, it is assumed that Iran’s temporary concessions are so meager that, in effect, the Iranians sacrificed nothing for a deal.But, this misses an important point: Iran had to make several compromises in order to get a satisfactory nuclear deal and, in the end, the separation between Iran’s public and private stances is far wider than those of the Obama administration. Moreover, the U.S. readiness to engage in sanctions relief is not a give-away to Iran but rather a result of a proportional exchange of concessions that, though some may wish not to hear it, is the only way that diplomacy actually works.Iranian compromisesTo get this far, Iran had to make several compromises on its longstanding nuclear policy. This started in the Joint Plan of Action, in which Iran agreed to permit the P5+1 (and the United States in particular) to have a role in its nuclear program decision-making. For a country as proud of its independence as Iran, the significance of this step should not be discounted. And, a similar mindset is manifest in what emerged from Lausanne earlier this month……… Continue reading

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Next week’s round of talks with Iran on the difficult path to a final nuclear deal

diplomacy-not-bombsNext Round of Nuclear Talks With Iran Set for Next Week By  APRIL 16, 2015 TEHRAN — The next round of nuclear talks between world powers andIran is scheduled for next week in Vienna, as the two sides begin to address the issues they left unresolved earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland, and try to conclude a comprehensive agreement by the end of June.

The European Union, the host of the talks, said in a statement released on Thursday that its senior negotiator, Helga Schmid, will meet with Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, on Wednesday, to pursue an agreement that would restrict Iran to peaceful research in the nuclear area in exchange for the phased lifting of economic sanctions.

After the parties reached a framework agreement in Lausanne, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, complicated matters by insisting that all sanctions would have to be lifted immediately and that all military sites would be off limits to inspectors.

President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday acknowledged the problems but said he remained optimistic that the negotiators would reach a deal. “There is a difficult path ahead of us towards the final deal,” he said at a news conference during a trip to northern Iran, but the country’s “will and decision is to continue the negotiations until a final deal is reached.”

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

A nuclear arms race in Middle East must be avoided

The Ultimate Nightmare: A Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East, The National Interest,  John Carlson 14 Apr 15, If the framework announced in Switzerland on April 2 regarding Iran’s nuclear program and detailed in a US State Department Fact Sheet is successfully carried forward to an agreed Plan of Action (due to be concluded by June 30), it will be a major achievement.

But it should not be seen as the end of the process. It is a definitive step, but it will need to be followed by a number of concrete actions before we can consider that the Iranian nuclear problem has been resolved.

If the deal is agreed in June, and if it is faithfully implemented, it will give all parties – Iran, its neighbors, and the wider international community – 15 years of breathing space. It is essential to use this time effectively to ensure the deal doesn’t just kick the can down the road. During this period decisions need to be made by Iran and others to ensure that the Middle East does not end up in a South Asia-style nuclear arms race.

It is by no means a forgone conclusion that Iran wants nuclear weapons, though Iran no doubt believes that having the capability to produce nuclear  weapons within a relatively short time – what is termed nuclear hedging – has major strategic value. It is essential to ensure that the consequences for crossing the threshold remain high enough to deter Iran from doing so. This will require the US to keep a high level of engagement in Middle East affairs for the foreseeable future.

But having Iran maintain “just” a hedging posture cannot be considered a good outcome – we have already seen some of Iran’s neighbors wanting to develop nuclear programs that will give them a similar capability. A situation of strategic competition in nuclear capability will be destabilizing for the Middle East……..

Another essential project to pursue during the breathing space is a Middle East WMD-free zone. Iran must be persuaded that the best way of ensuring its long-term national security is not through nuclear capability but through the establishment of such a zone, a point recently made by Saudi Arabia. If Iran pursues nuclear weapons, or a stronger hedging posture, its current advantage will erode over time as others pursue the same. Eventually Iran will find itself with nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable neighbors, and its strategic circumstances will be substantially worse than anything it can imagine today.

The same challenge confronts Israel. If others in the region become nuclear armed or even just nuclear capable, the strategic advantage Israel now enjoys will disappear. It would be very risky to rely on nuclear deterrence in these circumstances. For Israel as well as Iran, a WMD-free zone offers the best long-term future. This means that eventually Israel will have to divest itself of nuclear weapons. This may seem unthinkable today, but a future where others in the region also have nuclear weapons is even more unthinkable. Others in the region must be realistic; Israel cannot be expected to disarm as a pre-condition for a WMD-free zone. But Israel must be prepared to think in terms of a phased approach, disarming in stages as a WMD-free zone is established and is shown to be effective. ……

April 15, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Danger of nuclear tensions in volatile South Asia

Nuclear tensions rising in South Asia, BBC 14 Apr 15  Jawad Iqbal Analysis and insight editor

 The time, attention and effort devoted to reaching a deal with Iran over its nuclear ambitions has unwittingly tended to obscure the growing dangers of nuclear proliferation elsewhere in the world.
South Asia, a volatile and unstable region, has been witnessing an escalation in military and nuclear rivalry, somewhat overshadowed by the understandable fears of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

This part of the world, according to analysts, is fast becoming a race for nuclear supremacy between three powers – India, Pakistan and China (while technically not classified as South Asia, the country shares borders with both India and Pakistan). This rivalry in the eyes of many analysts is dangerous in itself but is made even more complex by the mutual suspicions and historical enmities that bedevil the region………

Lethal cocktail?

The fierce nuclear competition in South Asia is seen by many as a recipe for instability in a region already burdened with problems.

Narendra Modi recently confirmed India’s No First Use doctrine

It is a potentially lethal addition to the cocktail of territorial disputes and cross-border terrorism. The capacity of other world powers to influence the situation is hampered by the fact that neither India nor Pakistan belong to the NPT.

Pakistan’s economic and political instability also poses huge and troubling questions. The country is persistently challenged by militant groups and fears persist that these groups could get their hands on nuclear materials, despite strong insistence from Pakistani officials that its nuclear facilities are secure.

America and Russia still possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons but South Asia, home to three nuclear states, remains a growing worry, perhaps one that will get more attention in the coming months.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | ASIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom will fund, and control, Nigeria’s $20bn nuclear power project

Russian-BearNigeria in $20bn nuclear power talks with Russia – struggling S. Africa currently has eight times more capacity 14 APR 2015 BLOOMBERGJOSEPH BURITE   “………….South Africa, with a third of Nigeria’s population yet eight times more installed capacity, has also signed an agreement with Rosatom as the nation looks to add 9,600 megawatts of atomic power to its strained grid.

South Africa’s agreement with Rosatom gave the company the right to veto the nation doing business with any other nuclear vendor, Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian reported in February.

Majority stake
Rosatom and Nigerian officials met last month within the framework of a 2009 intergovernmental agreement to discuss cooperation, Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said by phone from Istanbul. To date, no memorandums have been signed about the development of a nuclear plant, he said.

Rosatom will hold a majority, controlling stake in Nigeria’s nuclear facility while the rest will be owned by the country, with roles to be specified in contracts, Osaisai said. “The government will enter a power-purchasing agreement for the nuclear plant.”

The plants will be financed by Rosatom, which will then build, own, operate and transfer them to the government, he said.

Rosatom is marketing its reactors with generous financing offers as Moscow seeks new markets for its technology amid a looming recession. Over the last year, its international portfolio of orders has grown to more than $100 billion, including deals to build new reactors in Iran, Hungary, India and Jordan.

Africa’s sole nuclear power station is Koeberg in South Africa, which is owned by state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. (Bloomberg)

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Nigeria, politics international | Leave a comment

Michigan lawmaker urges Congress to oppose Canada’s waste dump plan near Lake Huron

Oscar-wastesMichigan lawmaker: Congress should oppose Canada’s plan to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron Star Tribune  by: JOHN FLESHER , Associated Press  April 10, 2015 –  TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee said Friday he will push Congress to officially oppose Canada’s plans to allow nuclear waste to be stored underground less than a mile from Lake Huron, saying the country should find a site farther away from the Great Lakes, the world’s largest body of surface fresh water.

Kildee offered a similar resolution during the last congressional session, and numerous cities in the Great Lakes region have come out against the storage plan, but it failed to win House approval. Even if successful, it would have no force of law because Canadian officials will make the final decision.

Even so, the Democrat from Flint Township said the effort was worth making. He said the Ontario Power Generation plan to bury radioactive material, including discarded parts from the reactor core and ashes from incinerated floor sweepings and map heads, was “dangerous and an unnecessary risk we shouldn’t take.”

“The Great Lakes aren’t just a source of natural wonder,” said Kildee, whose district includes a section of the western Lake Huron coastline. “As the world’s largest body of fresh water, they’re vital to our way of life.”

Publicly owned Ontario Power Generation wants to bury 7.1 million cubic feet of low- and intermediate-level waste from its nuclear plants about 2,230 feet below the earth’s surface at the Bruce Power generating station near Kincardine, Ontario……..

Critics say there’s no way to guarantee the lake’s safety over the thousands of years that would be required for all the waste to lose its radioactivity.

Kildee’s office said the plan is opposed by 146 cities in the Great Lakes region, from Chicago to Toronto to Rochester, New York.

“My congressional resolution seeks to find an alternative location for this Canadian nuclear waste storage site so it does not endanger our state’s livelihood or economy — now or for future generations,” the congressman said.

A review panel of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has conducted hearings on the project and is expected to issue a report by May 6. The Canadian environment minister would decide whether to approve or deny the project. If the minister endorses it, the review panel will decide whether to issue a construction license.

April 11, 2015 Posted by | Canada, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Complex nuclear relationship between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran

Pakistan Has Complicated Nuclear Relationship With Saudi Arabia, Iran VOA,  Ayesha Tanzeem  April 07, 2015 ISLAMABAD—

Iran’s foreign minister visits Pakistan Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Yemen, which many see as a fight for influence between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran also has recently reached a framework nuclear agreement with six world powers to possibly curb the weapons potential of its nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia, in the past, has reportedly sought to form its own nuclear alliances to counter a perceived Iranian threat. A member of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, warned a few months ago that the kingdom would seek the same nuclear capabilities that Tehran is allowed to maintain under any deal.

In this regard, Pakistan’s relationship with the kingdom is unusual.

On one hand, it has sold nuclear secrets to Iran in the past through a network run by former chief Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan. The network also sold nuclear technology or know-how to Libya and North Korea.

On the other, it has faced allegations of promising Saudi Arabia a nuclear umbrella against Iran.

‘Unacknowledged nuclear partnership’…….

April 10, 2015 Posted by | Iran, Pakistan, politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Safest option for the world is a nuclear deal with Iran

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranA nuclear deal with Iran is the best option By Fareed Zakaria WP April 2 When making up their minds about the nuclear deal with Iran, people are properly focused on its details. But to figure out whether an agreement that limits and inspects Iran’s nuclear program is acceptable, one has to consider seriously the alternatives to it — and there are really only two.

First, a return to sanctions. Let’s say that the U.S. Congress rejects the final agreement reached by all in June. What then? The current sanctions regime against Iran is almost unprecedented in that all the world’s major powers, and Iran’s neighbors, support it. Usually sanctions wear thin over time.

If other countries believe that Iran made a reasonable offer that the United States turned down, they are unlikely to continue to support a tight sanctions regime. Most studies confirm that it is the multilateral aspect of the sanctions against Iran that has made them effective………

Would continued sanctions halt the nuclear program? That’s highly unlikely. Iran has expanded its nuclear program under sanctions for the last two decades. In 2003, Iran had under 200 centrifuges. Today it has 19,000. The restrictions are now tighter — if they last — but Iran’s nuclear establishment is also much larger. Keep in mind that Iran began showing active interest in a nuclear program as early as the 1950s. It now has thousands of nuclear scientists and technicians who work in the field.

That raises option two, a military attack. People speak of a strike on Iranlike Israel’s against an Iraqi reactor in 1981 and a Syrian facility in 2007. But those were single facilities. Iran, by contrast, has a vast nuclear industry, comprising many installations spread across the country, some close to population centers, others in mountainous terrain. The United States would effectively have to go to war with Iran, destroying its air defenses, then attacking its facilities in dozens — perhaps hundreds — of sorties. The bombers would be equipped with highly explosive weapons, demolishing buildings, reactors and laboratories, but also producing considerable collateral damage.

What would be the effect of such an attack? When any country is bombed by foreigners, its people tend to rally around the regime. The Islamic Republic would likely gain domestic support. It would also respond in various ways, through its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. The attacks might be directed at U.S. troops or allies.

An attack would also mean the splintering of the international coalition against Iran. Russia, China and many other countries would condemn it. Iran would be seen as the victim of an unprovoked invasion. The sanctions would crumble. Its nuclear program would be devastated, but Iran would begin to rebuild it. Even under the current sanctions regime, Iran makes tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues, more than enough to afford to rebuild its facilities.

Finally, once it had been attacked, Tehran would invoke the need for a deterrent against future attacks and would work directly and speedily not on a nuclear program but a nuclear weapon. In his op-ed advocating war with Iran, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton argues that military attacks “should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.” But bombing and then threatening the Islamic Republic’s existence would likely produce exactly the opposite effect — a government strengthened at home with a clear rationale to acquire a nuclear deterrent.

April 4, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Landmark agreement in nuclear deal between Iran and the West

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranWorld powers agree ‘historic’ nuclear deal–iran-hail-nuclear-talks-breakthrough.html Iran and world powers have agreed on the framework of a potentially historic deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear drive after marathon talks in Switzerland.

t marks a major breakthrough in a 12-year stand-off between Iran and the West, which has long feared Tehran wants to build a nuclear bomb. US President Barack Obama welcomed the ‘historic understanding’ with Iran but cautioned more work needed to be done. ‘If Iran cheats, the world will know it,’ he said in a televised address from the White House on Thursday.

After eight days of talks that sometimes went through the night, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in return for the lifting of punishing sanctions, said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

The main outlines agreed at the negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne now have to be finalised in a highly complex agreement by June 30.

-US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed a ‘big day’, saying on Twitter that the global powers and Iran ‘now have parameters to resolve major issues on nuclear program. Back to work soon on a final deal’.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the drafting of a full agreement would begin immediately with the aim of completing it by the June 30 deadline. Iranian media said the deal will include Iran slashing by two-thirds, to 6000 from 19,000, the number of centrifuges, which can make fuel for nuclear power but also the core of a nuclear bomb.

Mogherini said the United States and the EU will lift all nuclear-related sanctions on Iran once the UN atomic agency has verified that Tehran has stuck to the ground-breaking deal. Mogherini, in a joint press statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, also said that the design of a new reactor will be changed so that no weapons-grade plutonium can be produced.

The Fordo facility, built deep into a mountain, will remain open but will not be used for enrichment but for research and development.

The so-called P5+1 group – the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany – hope that the deal will make it virtually impossible for Iran to make nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian program. France warned that the sanctions could be reimposed if Tehran does not fully keep its side of the bargain.The office of President Francois Hollande said in a statement that Paris would watch closely to ensure a ‘credible’ and ‘verifiable’ final agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

April 3, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment


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