The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia warns they will develop nuclear weapons, if Iran does

Saudi Arabia raises the stakes in Middle East with Iran nuclear threat, Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear weapons if its arch-rival Iran does so, the kingdom’s crown prince said in remarks released on Thursday, raising the prospect of a nuclear arms race in a region already riven with conflict.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS in a 60 Minutes interview that will air in the United States on Sunday.

He also reiterated previous comments he has made likening Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler.

“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time,” the prince says in the interview.

“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realise how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

The Sunni Muslim kingdom has been at loggerheads with revolutionary Shi’ite Iran for decades. The countries have fought a long-running proxy war in the Middle East and beyond, backing rival sides in armed conflicts and political crises including in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Prince Mohammed, who also serves as Saudi defence minister, said last year that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries “is waged in Iran”, prompting Iranian threats to hit back at most of Saudi Arabia except the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Riyadh has criticised the 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which economic sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for the Islamic Republic curbing its nuclear energy program. US sanctions will resume unless President Donald Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.

The comments by Prince Mohammed, who at 32 is heir to the throne, also have implications for Israel, another US ally which neither confirms nor denies the widespread assumption that it controls the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

Israel has long argued that, should Iran develop nuclear weapons, it would trigger similar projects among the Persian power’s Arab rivals and further destabilise the region.

It has never joined the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has said it would consider inspections and controls under the NPT only if was at peace with its Arab neighbours and Iran.

Civilian projects

Saudi Arabia is stepping up plans to develop a civilian nuclear energy capability as part of a reform plan led by Prince Mohammed to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.

The world’s top oil exporter has previously said it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful uses but has left unclear whether it also wants to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel, a process which can also be used in the production of atomic weapons.

The United States, South Korea, Russia, France and China are bidding on a multi-billion dollar tender to build the country’s first two nuclear reactors.

Prince Mohammed’s comments, ahead of a trip to the United States next week, could impact the bid by a consortium that includes Toshiba-owned Westinghouse.

US companies can usually transfer nuclear technology to another country only if the United States has signed an agreement with that country ruling out domestic uranium enrichment and the preprocessing of spent nuclear fuel — steps that can have military uses.

In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign up to any agreement that would deprive it of the possibility of one day enriching uranium.

Reactors need uranium enriched to around five percent purity but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to a higher, weapons-grade level. This has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns over the nuclear work of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival which enriches uranium domestically.

Riyadh approved a national policy for its atomic energy programme on Tuesday, including limiting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by international treaties.



March 17, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Support for Iran nucIear deal, from top USA general

U.S. general signals support for Iran nuclear deal, Idrees Ali, 13 Mar 18, WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. general on Tuesday signaled support for the Iran nuclear deal, saying the agreement, which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from, has played an important role in addressing Iran’s nuclear program.

“The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said U.S. Army General Joseph Votel. JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the formal name of the accord reached with Iran in July 2015 in Vienna.

Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the accord between Tehran and six world powers unless Congress and European allies help“fix” it with a follow-up pact. Trump does not like the deal’s limited duration, among other things.

Votel is head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran. He was speaking to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the same day that Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, including Iran.

Tillerson had joined Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in pressing a skeptical Trump to stick with the agreement with Iran.

“There would be some concern (in the region), I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA. … Right now, I think it is in our interest” to stay in the deal, Votel said.

March 14, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s chaotic approach to North Korea nuclear talks

Trump under pressure over chaotic approach to North Korea nuclear talks, Guardian  Jon Swaine 12 Mar 18

  • Republicans: denuclearisation must be prerequisite for meeting
  • CIA director and White House spokesman contradict each otherDonald Trump faced criticism from Republican allies on Sunday after apparently agreeing to meet Kim Jong-un without demanding that North Korea start scrapping its nuclear program.North Korea talks: Trump praises own role but Washington frets over details

    Senators from Trump’s own party expressed scepticism and urged him to set tougher preconditions, amid growing concerns over the administration’s chaotic approach to nuclear diplomacy.

    Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said Trump should not meet Kim until North Korea produces proof it has begun reversing its years-long pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

    “What we have to hear more of is how we are going to get to those concrete, verifiable steps towards denuclearisation before this meeting occurs,” Gardner told Face the Nation on CBS.

    Trump’s team has given a series of muddled statements on that precondition. No mention of it was made during an abrupt announcement on Thursday that Trump was willing to hold a summit with Kim by May, in what would be the first ever meeting of the two countries’ leaders…….

    The president has offered little clarity. After tweeting about conversations with world leaders on the issue he returned to it in a rambling speech to supporters in Pennsylvania on Saturday evening, saying of North Korean denuclearisation: “They are thinking about that – who knows what’s going to happen?”

  • The uneven public statements followed an eccentric unveiling of Trump’s historic acceptance of Kim’s invitation. The decision was announced to journalists on the White House driveway by a South Korean official, shortly after Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had said direct negotiations were a distant prospect.

    Having lambasted Barack Obama for what they deemed an overly conciliatory approach to Iran during nuclear talks, Republicanswere left struggling to defend Trump’s position.

    ……. Democrats, too, expressed concerns. “I am very worried that he’s going to go into these negotiations and be taken advantage of,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said on CNN.Warren said Trump should urgently address a lack of senior diplomats who would probably be needed for successful negotiations. The US has no permanent ambassador to South Korea or assistant secretary of state for the region.

    That view was echoed by Ben Rhodes, a former senior aide to Obama, who was involved in the Iran deal and said the Trump administration appeared unprepared for discussions of similar gravity.

    “There’s nothing more complex than nuclear negotiations; there’s no place in the world more volatile than the Korean peninsula,” Rhodes told ABC. “You cannot just approach this like a reality show.”


March 12, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump will demand “preconditions” for nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un

Trump’s nuclear summit with Kim ‘will have preconditions’ SMH, 12 Mar 18  Washington: US President Donald Trump’s condition for meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is that there be no nuclear or missile testing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday.”There shouldn’t be confusion,” Mnuchin told NBC’s Meet the Press when asked about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ statement on Friday that there would be no meeting without concrete and verifiable actions by North Korea.

The President has made it clear that the conditions are that there’s no nuclear testing and there’s no missiles and those will be a condition through the meeting.”

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo said Trump was serious about the meeting, and that his acceptance of Kim’s invitation wasn’t “just for show.”…….


March 12, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Analysing North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions And Abilities

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions And Abilities,  NPR’s Renee Montagne talks with Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, about North Korea’s nuclear program. National Public Radio. 11 Mar 18 

……….  HECKER: Well, first of all, I think it’s not very likely to happen, [the meeting between Trump and Kim] . What’s significant in the current situation is they’ve actually said that they would be willing to give up nuclear weapons, you know, if their security is assured, and they’re not threatened. However, to think that’s going to happen in the short term is just not realistic because to build a nuclear weapons program, it’s an enormous number of facilities. It’s a large number of people. It took, well, more or less 50 years but particularly the last 25 years to get to where they are today. They’re not going to turn that over overnight.

…….. MONTAGNE: Well, short of full denuclearization, what other steps could North Korea take to prove, you know, its sincerity in this?

HECKER: So there are very important steps. And one can lay those out. In other words, I look at the things that are highest risk. And those are the things you want them to stop first. So two that were highest on my list – they have, for the time being, said they would do a moratorium. And that’s no more missile tests and no more nuclear tests – because to increase the sophistication of your bombs, you have to do more nuclear tests. The next one would be not to make any more bomb-grade material, which means stop the operation of the reactors. All three of those are verifiable. The problem is on the bomb-grade material, you can also go the uranium route. Those are the centrifuge halls. We know where one of them is. We don’t know where the other one or two are. And that will be extremely difficult to verify. And that’s going to take a long time and a real detailed process with them to get there.

MONTAGNE: From what you know of North Korea from your time on the ground, are they motivated to use these weapons? Is this something to really be afraid of?

HECKER: What I worry about when it comes to the weapons is – one is capability. Second is motivation. And capability – for many years, I was able to say, look. You know, they have the bomb, but they don’t have much. They don’t have a nuclear arsenal. Then comes the motivation part. And would they be motivated to go ahead and attack the United States, Japan or South Korea basically out of the blue? I say absolutely not. They want those weapons to make sure to protect them. Perhaps they want the weapons so that they actually have sort of sufficient maneuvering room, you know, on the Korean Peninsula. What I’ve worried about is not so much that they’re motivated to attack us but rather that we’re going to stumble into a nuclear war.

MONTAGNE: Sig Hecker is a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, now at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.


March 12, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s historic gamble on meeting Kim Jong Un – so much could go wrong

Donald Trump’s historic bet on Kim Jong Un summit shatters decades of orthodoxy Straits Times 9 Mar 18  WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – US President Donald Trump took the biggest gamble of his presidency on Thursday (March 8), breaking decades of US diplomatic orthodoxy by accepting an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The bet is that Mr Trump’s campaign to apply maximum economic pressure on Mr Kim’s regime has forced him to consider what was previously unthinkable: surrendering the illicit nuclear weapons programme begun by his father.

If the president is right, the US would avert what appeared at times last year (2017) to be a steady march towards a second Korean War………

Regardless of how it turns out, the stunning decision by Mr Trump hands Mr Kim a prize long sought by the regime’s ruling dynasty: the legitimacy conferred by a historic meeting with the sitting president.

So much could go wrong.

…….Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, applauded Mr Trump’s diplomatic effort.

“Expectations should be low and history demonstrates that scepticism and careful diplomatic work are necessary, but it is better to be talking about peace than recklessly ramping up for a war,” he said on Twitter.


Mr Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said that while the talks would extend the period of relative warmth that began during the Olympics, denuclearisation remained “extremely unlikely”.

Nuclear weapons are fundamental to the Kim family’s grip on power at home.

“Kim Jong Un has rational incentives to keep his nuclear arsenal,” Mr Mount said in a phone interview.

He also cautioned that the meeting was “a massive coup” for a regime that “wants to be seen as a regular nuclear power”.

It could lend Mr Kim insights into how the US and South Korea coordinate, and the regime could test Mr Trump by asking for exorbitant terms in exchange for denuclearisation.

“I do worry about a president who has no foreign policy experience getting out-manoeuvred,” he said. “I don’t trust Donald Trump alone in a room with Kim Jong Un.”



March 10, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Donald Trump agrees to meet Kim Jong Un

Trump accepts invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un  Boston Globe,  

TOKYO – President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for talks, an extraordinary development following months of heightened nuclear tension during which the two leaders exchanged frequent military threats and insults.

Kim has also committed to stopping nuclear and missile testing, even during joint military drills in South Korea next month, Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean national security adviser, told reporters at the White House on Thursday night after briefing the president on his four-hour dinner meeting with Kim in Pyongyang on Monday.

After a year in which North Korea fired intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching all of the United States and tested what is widely thought to have been a hydrogen bomb, such a moratorium would be welcomed by the United States and the world.

Trump and Kim have spent the past year making belligerent statements about each other, with Trump mocking Kim as ‘‘Little Rocket Man’’ and pledging to ‘‘totally destroy’’ North Korea and Kim calling the American president a ‘‘dotard’’ and a ‘‘lunatic’’ and threatening to send nuclear bombs to Washington, D.C.

But Kim has ‘‘expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,’’ Chung told reporters.

‘President Trump said he would meet Kim

Jong Un by May,’’ Chung said, but he did not provide any information on where the meeting would be. In Seoul, the presidential Blue House clarified that the meeting would occur by the end of May.

The White House confirmed that Trump had accepted Kim’s invitation to meet…….



March 10, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia lobbying USA hard to get nuclear technology including enriching uranium

Saudis Enlist Washington Lobbyists in Bid for Nuclear Plants  By Jennifer A Dlouhy, 

  • Three firms file disclosures to consult with Saudi Arabia
  • Deal faces obstacles over fears about uranium enrichment

Saudi Arabia is enlisting blue-chip lobbyists in Washington as it prepares for a fight over its ambition to build nuclear power plants.

 Three law firms have filed disclosures saying they’re advising the kingdom on the issue, as American and Saudi leaders negotiate the contours of a possible nuclear technology-sharing agreement that could allow the enrichment of uranium.

The flurry of registrations underscores the high stakes in Saudi Arabia’s bid to build as many as 16 nuclear reactors over the next quarter century. Trump administration officials, eager to revive the moribund American nuclear industry, are pushing the kingdom to consider a consortium of U.S. companies for the job instead of competitors from Russia, China and other countries.

 One of the law firms, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLC, said in a Feb. 20 Justice Department filing that it would be billing the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources $890 per hour to give advice on a potential bilateral agreement with the U.S. “concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954” as well as “related legal matters concerning the development of a commercial nuclear program.”

DOJ Filings

Among the key players is Jeff Merrifield, a former presidential appointee on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who now leads Pillsbury’s energy practice.

King and Spalding LLP used almost identical language in a Feb. 21 filing with the Justice Department, which maintains registrations of foreign agents in the U.S. The firm said it would be paid as much as $450,000 for an initial 30-day contract, which could be extended.

And in a third registration on Feb. 20, David Kultgen, a lawyer and retired Saudi Arabian Oil Company executive, said he was recruited in early October to provide legal and consulting services to Saudi Arabia, including on its national atomic energy project.

Plutonium Warnings

Lawmakers and nonproliferation experts warn that without strict prohibitions, a deal to supply Saudi Arabia with nuclear power plants could allow spent fuel to be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with Saudi officials in London last week to discuss the possible nuclear plant deal, even as the Trump administration reluctantly prepares to offer the Saudis an accord that falls short of a so-called “gold standard” prohibition on enriching and reprocessing of uranium that was embedded in a nuclear-sharing agreement with the United Arab Emirates a decade ago.

At least one other such “123 agreement” to share nuclear technology — named after a section of the U.S Atomic Energy Act — contains similar prohibitions, but more than a dozen others fall short of that “gold standard.”

Supporters of a nuclear plant agreement are girding for a fight. Even if the Trump administration agrees to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, the deal faces bipartisan criticism in Congress. Federal law requires congressional approval of and consultation over any 123 agreements laying out the framework for nuclear cooperation, with a special role reserved for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Netanyahu’s Concerns

Under some scenarios, a 123 agreement can enter into force after 60 days unless Congress adopts a joint resolution disapproving it, according tothe Congressional Research Service.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared his concerns about Riyadh’s nuclear power goals with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week, telling lawmakers he opposed any agreement allowing the Saudis to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium.

The chairman of that committee, Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, said that “there will be a lot of attention paid as to how this is crafted.”

And that scrutiny is bipartisan. Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who also sits on the Foreign Relations panel, said any watering down of the gold standard “would set a negative precedent for the entirety of the Middle East.”

“It would be hard to say to the United Arab Emirates, to the Egyptians, and for that matter other countries around the world, that they shouldn’t also have uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing,” Markey said in an interview.

— With assistance by Ari Natter


March 10, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Crucial US-North Korea talks – could defuse nuclear tensions?

Nuclear crisis at ‘crucial moment’ for US-North Korea talks, Chinese minister says  SCMP, Teddy, 8 Mar 18

Wang Yi says the moment has arrived to test whether all sides are sincere in wanting to resolve tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme

 China called for direct dialogue between North Korea and the United States to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula and warned there was still the potential for chaos amid the stand-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

The warning by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday came despite the announcement that North and South Korea’s leaders are to meet at a summit, raising hopes that the nuclear crisis might be defused. …….

The South China Morning Post reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may propose sending his sister, Kim Yo-jong, to the US as part of efforts to launch direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

This may be one of a number of possible messages South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong will deliver to US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in Washington this week, a South Korean diplomatic source told the Post, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Chung is travelling to Washington with South Korea’s national intelligence service chief Suh Hoon, who, according to multiple South Korean diplomatic sources, will meet his US counterpart Mike Pompeo.

……. The fact that North Korea did not conduct nuclear and missile tests during the Winter Olympics, while South Korea and the United States have suspended their military drills, proved that China’s approach to handle the nuclear crisis was effective, Wang said.

Beijing has called for South Korea and the US to stop military exercises in exchange for North Korea not conducting nuclear tests……..



March 9, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea might send Kim Jong-un’s sister to USA for diplomatic talks on the nuclear crisis

Kim Jong-un’s sister could be sent to US to launch talks on ending nuclear crisis, South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong is to deliver an ‘unconventional’ and ‘very unusual’ message to US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster this week, the Post has learned SCMP,  Robert Delaney, US correspondent, 08 March, 2018  North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may propose sending his sister, Kim Yo-jong, to the US as part of efforts to launch direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang, according to a South Korean diplomatic source.

That may be one of a number of possible messages South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong will deliver to US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in Washington this week, the source told the South China Morning Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
……… Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s younger sister, spearheaded a charm offensive from Pyongyang when she attended the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea last month, and invited South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang.

Kim Yo-jong was the first member of the North’s ruling dynasty to visit South Korea.

The younger Kim’s presence in Pyeongchang laid the groundwork for visits by two South Korean government delegations to Pyongyang after the Games ended.

What has followed represents a reversal from the militaristic threats Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump lobbed at each other – Kim via North Korea’s state media and Trump via Twitter – throughout the second half of last year………

The message Chung and Suh are bringing from Pyongyang is likely to include a freeze or moratorium on the country’s nuclear weapons development programme in exchange for a downgraded or scaled-back version of joint US-South Korea military exercises, Korea Society senior director Stephen Noerper said in an interview.

“It’s a different tack for North Korea to go through South Korea,” Noerper said. “There could be an attempt to try to drive a wedge between the US and South Korea by saying ‘look, here’s all we’re offering and the Americans just aren’t listening’.

……… Other items in the six-point plan agreed upon during Chung’s most recent visit to Pyongyang include an assertion by the North Korean government that “it will not resume strategy of provocations such as additional nuclear and missile tests while conversation is ongoing”.


March 9, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un promises not to use nuclear weapons against Seoul after high-level talks

JUST when the world thought they had him pegged, Kim Jong Un has stunned with an apparent about face on nuclear weapons.   Victoria Craw@Victoria_Craw   7 Mar 18NORTH Korea has vowed not to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and could impose a ban on further nuclear and missile tests during talks with the US, South Korean media reports.

The stunning about face followed the first meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean officials since 2011.

It led to claims Kim Jong Un would not use conventional weapons against South Korea and had no reason to possesses nuclear weapons if it has a security guarantee.

The leaders also agreed to establish a “hotline” between the countries to reduce military tensions and will meet for another summit in late April at the border village of Panmunjom.

President Trump weighed in on the news on Twitter, saying “the US is ready to go hard in either direction”.

The surprising series of apparent concessions came after Kim Jong Un and top officials dined with South Korean leaders face-to-face in their first meeting in seven years.

The North Korean leader was joined by his wife Ri Sol-Ju and sister Kim Yo-jong, for the four hour session designed to advance inter-Korean relations.

South Korean security adviser, Chung Eui-yong told local media after the two-day talks in Pyongyang that North Korea committed to denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

“The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed,” he said.

He added the North said it would hold “candid” talks with the US on how to reinstate bilateral ties, while agreeing there would be no further tests while talks are in progress…………


March 7, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Iran’s president accuses US of sabotaging 2015 pact

Iran’s Rouhani: West will regret collapse of nuclear deal
Iran’s president accuses US of sabotaging 2015 pact as other officials say Tehran’s missile programme is non-negotiable. Aljazeera, 7 Mar 18

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned the West will come to “regret” the day the nuclear agreement collapses, laying blame on the United States for trying to sabotage the historic deal.

Rouhani’s comment came as a senior Revolutionary Guard official vowed on Tuesday that Iran will defy pressure to scale back the country’s ballistic missile programme – part of a new push by US President Donald Trump to renegotiate the original pact signed in 2015.

Following a meeting with France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Tehran on Monday, Rouhani said while Iran is ready for any “unfavourable” consequences, negotiations and diplomacy remain the best options to save the agreement.

“Remaining committed to the accord would prove to the world that the negotiation and diplomacy is the best way to solve problems, but the collapse of the deal means that political talks are a waste of time,” he said.

Rouhani stressed it is necessary for all signatories of the deal to adhere to their commitments, adding Tehran will never be the first party to violate the agreement, Tasnim News agency quoted him as saying.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, also said Europe should compel the US to abide by the deal, “rather than trying to appease” Washington. ………



March 7, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

South Korea hopes to open nuclear talks, sends national security chief to Pyongyang

Seoul sends envoy to North Korea in hope of opening nuclear talks, Telegraph UK , Nicola Smith, taipei 4 MARCH 2018 

South Korea is to send its national security chief to Pyongyang on Monday to discuss how to resume dialogue between the US and North Korea over its nuclear and weapons programme.

President Moon Jae-in announced on Sunday that Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office, and his intelligence chief Suh Hoon, would lead a ten member delegation on a two day trip to the North.

The envoys will deliver a letter from Mr Moon to North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, although it is still uncertain if they will meet with him personally. It would be the first time for Kim to meet with a South Korean official since he came to power in 2011.

The delegation is expected to hold talks that would pave the way for a possible summit meeting between the leaders of South and North Korea after Kim Jong-un last month invited Mr Moon to visit Pyongyang.

The envoys are “expected to hold talks with North Korea’s high level officials to discuss ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and develop the South-North Korea relationship,” presidential chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.



March 5, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Iran calls on US, Europe to scrap nuclear arms, missiles

CNBC 4 Mar 18 

  • Iran will not negotiate over its ballistic missiles until the United States and Europe dismantle their nuclear weapons, a top Iranian military official said on Saturday.
  • While Iran has accepted curbs on its nuclear work — which it says is for purely peaceful purposes — it has repeatedly refused to discuss its missile program.
  • Iran says its nuclear program is defensive because of its deterrent nature.
…….. European powers and Iran have started talks over Tehran’s role in the Middle East and will meet again this month in Italy as part of efforts to prove to U.S. President Donald Trump that they are meeting his concerns over the 2015 nuclear deal.

March 5, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan’s Mitsubishi joins French nuclear firm Orano (AREVA’s attempt at resuscitation of its business)

Japan’s Mitsubishi acquires 5% stake in French nuclear power firm Orano for $306m,  Deal Street Asia, Mars Woo February 28, 2018 Tokyo-headquartered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has completed its acquisition of a 5 per cent interest in Orano, a French multinational group specialising in nuclear power and renewable energy, for €250 million ($306 million).

In a statement on Wednesday, MHI said the completion of the investment, which was agreed upon in March 2017, would enhance technological and business cooperation between the two companies and strengthen global value chain for nuclear energy…….
Orano primarily focuses on the fuel cycle business, including uranium mining, enrichment, and conversion and processing of spent fuel. MHI had in 1991, partnered with Areva, now an Orano subsidiary, to form a joint venture in the fuel cycle business for the manufacture and sale of a full range of reprocessing equipment. The company said it aims to play an important role in forging stronger links between the Japanese and French nuclear energy industries, as confirmed by the two countries’ governments in October 2015.
The company said it aims to play an important role in forging stronger links between the Japanese and French nuclear energy industries, as confirmed by the two countries’ governments in October 2015. “By strengthening the relationship between manufacturers in Japan and France, every effort will be made to expand and improve structurally as a comprehensive manufacturer capable of supporting the global nuclear power generation business in all aspects; from production of nuclear fuel to plant design, construction and maintenance, and reprocessing of spent fuel,” MHI said in a statement.

March 3, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, France, Japan, politics international | Leave a comment