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Iran’s foreign minister says Tehran will offer a constructive plan for nuclear talks

Iran’s Zarif to offer ‘constructive’ plan for nuclear talks

Announcement comes after European diplomatic sources said Tehran recently gave encouraging signs about opening informal talks over the nuclear deal.   Iran will soon present a “constructive” plan of action, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday, after European sources said Tehran gave positive signs about opening informal talks about its nuclear programme.

“As Iran’s FM [foreign minister] & chief nuclear negotiator, I will shortly present our constructive concrete plan of action – through proper diplomatic channels,” Zarif said on Twitter.

A French diplomatic source and another European official said on Thursday that Iran had given encouraging signs in recent days about opening informal talks after European powers scrapped plans to criticise Tehran at the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has so far refused to take part in a meeting brokered by the European Union between world powers and the United States on reviving its 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s nuclear policy is decided by the country’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and not the president or the government.

Tehran and Washington have emerged from former US President Donald Trump’s attempts to wreck Iran’s nuclear deal but are locked in a standoff over who should move first to save it. Trump pulled out of the landmark accord in 2018.

Britain, France, and Germany decided to pause the submission of a resolution critical of Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday to not harm the prospects for diplomacy, after what they said were concessions gained from Iran to deal with outstanding nuclear issues.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Armenia should shut down, not repair, its dangerous nuclear power station

Armenia’s nuclear power plant is dangerous. Time to close it. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , By Brenda Shaffer | March 5, 2021  In late 2020, the Armenian government announced that its Metsamor nuclear power plant would close for five months in 2021 to attempt significant upgrades. Soon after, the EU urged Armenia to make the closure permanent since the plant “cannot be updated to fully meet internationally accepted safety standards.” A major nuclear or radiation accident at Metsamor would not only affect the people of Armenia, but citizens in neighboring Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and southern Europe. Besides, Armenia can meet its energy needs without Metsamor’s output, especially as it exports to Iran over half of the plant’s electricity. Further, thermal plants and renewable sources could replace what is used domestically. Metsamor does not even help Armenia achieve its declared goal of energy independence, as Russia–Armenia’s main energy supplier–provides the country with most of its natural gas, along with nuclear fuel and specialized technicians for the plant. But none of these arguments have swayed Armenia to close Metsamor in the past.

Is there an argument that could work now?

The EU might urge Armenia to consider a closure in light of recent developments. Post-war road, railway, and energy-development plans should increase trade and transportation linkages in the South Caucasus region after the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The new infrastructure and financing provide Armenia with a fresh opportunity to tap newer, safer, and more diverse energy supplies. By closing Metsamor, Armenia would not only contribute to the safety of its own citizens and those in neighboring countries but strengthen peace in the South Caucasus.

Metsamor nuclear power plant. Metsamor is located in a major seismic zone close to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, and near Armenia’s border with Turkey. The original, Soviet-built plant included two 400 megawatt reactors. Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1977. Both units were closed by the Soviet authorities in 1989, following the Chernobyl accident and the massive Spitak earthquake in Armenia in 1988, which killed over 25,000 people.

In 1995, following Armenia’s independence, Metsamor Unit 2 was restarted at 375 megawatts electrical with Russian funding and technical support. The plant’s original operating license was supposed to end in 2016, but Yerevan extended it to 2021, and late in 2020 announced its intent to extend the plant’s operation even longer. Unit 1 has remained closed.

Metsamor is one of five of the last operating Soviet-era reactors without a containment vessel, which is a requirement of all modern reactors. …………..

In 1995, following Armenia’s independence, Metsamor Unit 2 was restarted at 375 megawatts electrical with Russian funding and technical support. The plant’s original operating license was supposed to end in 2016, but Yerevan extended it to 2021, and late in 2020 announced its intent to extend the plant’s operation even longer. Unit 1 has remained closed……..

Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, Germany and other key EU states shut down their nuclear power production. Also, the EU has succeeded in closing dangerous Soviet era plants among its new members. However, EU citizens remain in danger when problematic plants in their neighborhood remain operational. The EU now has an opportunity to remove one of these dangers while strengthening regional cooperation, but only if it convinces Armenia to scrap plans to repair Metsamor in favor of shutting it down altogether.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Montana legislatures to review the law restricting nuclear developments

Nuclear on the radar: Part II Montana Free Press, 5 Mar, 21,   –In Part II we explore emerging nuclear technology that some Montana lawmakers laud as a smaller, safer and more affordable source of energy than the nuclear power plants of the past.

At the same time the House was reviewing a bill sponsored by Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, to remove restrictions on nuclear development, the Senate was at work on Senate Joint Resolution 3, which directs the state to study advanced nuclear reactors. The resolution appears well-positioned to pass — halfway through the session, SJ 3 has garnered unanimous support in the Senate.

Sponsor Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, becomes audibly excited discussing the measure. He said he sees modern nuclear technology as a way for Montana to send electrons to the energy-thirsty markets of the Pacific Northwest by tying into the high-voltage transmission lines leading out of Colstrip……..

Gauthier is particularly interested in a company called NuScale, based in Portland, Ore., that’s garnered more than $1.3 billion from the federal government to advance its small modular reactor, or SMR, design. It’s the only company that’s received approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission for that type of design — a significant milestone on the journey to market……….

Much of the debate about the environmental impact associated with nuclear energy is focused on what to do with the spent fuel. Some kinds of nuclear fuel can remain radioactive for hundreds or thousands of years. The U.S. has yet to arrive at a long-term solution for re-using or storing spent fuel, creating a contentious political issue that’s spanned decades.

As is the case with larger-scale traditional nuclear plants, spent fuel from SMRs remains a “significant issue,” according to Darby.

NuScale’s plan is to store used fuel underwater in a stainless-steel lined concrete pool located onsite for at least five years. They say the pool is designed to withstand “a variety of severe natural and human made phenomena” like earthquakes and aircraft impacts. After the five-year period when the used fuel is both hottest and most radioactive has elapsed, it’s moved to a stainless-steel canister surrounded with concrete that’s designed to contain the radioactivity.

The United States doesn’t have a permanent underground repository for high-level nuclear waste, so those concrete containment vessels generally remain on-site or near the plant they came from. A 33-year-old effort to create such a long-term storage repository northwest of Las Vegas is still subject to heated debate. ……….

Another question hanging over nuclear energy development is the price of building a new plant. It’s not uncommon for new construction costs to exceed $1 billion. Concerns about cost increases led several cities that had committed to participate in NuScale’s demonstration plant in Idaho Falls to pull out of the multi-billion-dollar project last year.

NuScale told Montana Free Press that once production is rolling on their product, it anticipates the facility construction cost to be about $2,850 per kilowatt of producing capacity for its largest, 12-module iteration. For comparison, new construction of a natural gas plant averaged about $837 per kilowatt of capacity in 2018, and wind plants clocked in at $1,382, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brad Molnar, a Republican senator from Laurel, told MTFP that cost will be an important consideration as the state plots its energy future. He said the study Gauthier is spearheading should involve the Public Service Commission, because it doesn’t make sense to conduct the study without landing on a cost-per-megawatt estimate.

Gauthier knows that nuclear is by no means the least expensive energy source, particularly if calculations are based on a strict dollars-and-cents equation…….

It’s not yet clear if Montana’s 1978 law requiring voter approval before a nuclear energy plant can be built in the state will still be on the books next year. The Legislature is still deciding the fate of HB 273, which would strike that law and remove nuclear projects from the purview of the Major Facility Siting Act.

Sen. Molnar has been asked if he’d carry HB 273 when it’s heard in the Senate, but he said he has reservations about the measure.

“By and large, I’m really hesitant to overturn a [voter] initiative,” he said, adding that the order of operations seems a little off to him.

“First you do the study, then you take action,” he said. “You don’t take action and then do the study.”

As of March 4, both HB 273 and SJ 3 have been transmitted to the Senate and House, respectively, for review. Hearing dates before those chambers’ energy committees have not been set.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Safety expert recommends shutdown of several of France’s old, dubiously safe, nuclear reactors

Objectif Gard 28th Feb 2021, The engineer and international consultant in energy Bernard Laponche signs a report on the safety of the Tricastin nuclear power plant (Drôme), whose reactors have been the subject of their fourth ten-year inspection for two years, which means that they are entering their fortieth year of operation.
An operation that EDF intends to extend for ten or twenty years, which, according to Bernard Laponche, poses serious problems. So much so that this former CEA, president of the association Global Chance, advocates outright the shutdown of several plants, including Tricastin. Interview.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Widespread public support for Germany’s nuclear phaseout, as renewable energy expands

TechXplore, 5 Mar 21,    ”……….By the end of 2022, Germany will have achieved its goal of completely phasing out nuclear power, set by Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 30, 2011.

The plan represented a dramatic change of course by Merkel’s ruling conservatives, who just a few months earlier had agreed to extend the lifespan of Germany’s oldest power stations.

It was met with widespread public support in a country with a powerful anti-nuclear movement, fuelled first by fears of a Cold War conflict and then by disasters such as Chernobyl.

Yet it also prompted a lengthy legal battle with major energy companies, which ended Friday with Berlin’s agreement to pay 2.4 billion euros worth of compensation to nuclear power plant operators………

The German government is still looking for a long-term storage site for the country’s residual nuclear waste.

Renewables have seen a spectacular rise since 2011 and in 2020 made up more than 50 percent of Germany’s energy mix for the first time, according to the Fraunhofer research institute—compared with less than 25 percent 10 years ago.

The declining importance of nuclear power (12.5 percent in 2020) “has been compensated for by the expansion of renewable energies”, Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert at the DIW economic research institute, told AFP.

Nuclear power stations have therefore not been replaced by coal, though the fossil fuel does still represent almost a quarter of the electricity mix.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Biden’s first budget should reduce excessive expenditure on nuclear weaponry

March 6, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Germany to pay nuclear operators 2.4 bln euros for plant closures

March 6, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Germany, politics | Leave a comment