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Iran says can make own nuclear fuel plates, rods

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi declared in a report Saturday that Iran is now capable of making its own nuclear fuel plates and rods, technology the West says the Islamic republic does not possess.

Two Iranian technicians at the zirconium production plant inside the Isfahan nuclear facility

Salehi, the driving force behind Iran’s contentious atomic programme, said the country has completed the construction of a facility in the central city of Isfahan to the fuel plates and rods which power nuclear reactors.


“We have built an advanced manufacturing unit in the Isfahan site for the fuel plates,” Salehi, who is also acting foreign minister, told Fars news agency in what was said to be an exclusive interview.


“A grand transformation has taken place in the production of (nuclear) plates and rods. With the completion of the unit in Isfahan, we are one of the few countries which can produce fuel rods and fuel plates.”


Salehi said it was the Western policies towards the Islamic republic which had propelled its nuclear achievements, including the making of nuclear plates and rods.


“This is in fact because of West’s actions that we came to this point,” he said.


“What we say is based on reality and truth. There is no exaggeration or deception in our work. It is them who do not want to believe that Iran has no intention, but to obtain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”


The West led by the United States suspects that Iran’s nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.


On November 23, Salehi had told state news agency IRNA that Iran would produce the nuclear fuel required for a research reactor in Tehran by September 2011.


“By the month of Shahrivar next year (September 2011), we will produce fuel for the reactor,” said Salehi, who is also one of Iran’s vice presidents.


Western powers have repeatedly said Iran does not possess the technology to make the actual nuclear fuel plates required to power the Tehran research reactor which makes medical isotopes.


In February 2010, Iran started refining uranium to 20 percent with the purpose of using it to make the plates that could power the reactor.


That came amid a deadlock with world powers over a nuclear fuel swap deal drafted by the UN atomic watchdog and aimed at providing fuel for the research unit.


Salehi told Fars Iran has now produced nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium enriched to the 20-percent level, despite Western calls for Tehran to suspend the work.


“We have nearly 40 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium,” he said in the interview.


The Islamic republic is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, the process at the centre of fears about Iran’s atomic work.


Enriched uranium can be used as fuel to power nuclear reactors as well as to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.


Salehi’s latest declaration comes ahead of the next round of talks in Istanbul between Iran and the six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear programme.


On Friday, an aide to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the talks could resume from January 20.


“It’s a tentative date we’re looking at… We have positive feedback from Iran,” Ashton’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP, adding the talks were expected to last one and half days.


A previous round of talks between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — spearheaded by Ashton, took place in Geneva on December 6-7.


That round followed a 14-month hiatus in the talks on Iran’s nuclear programme.



 

Source: SGGP

Russia to approve nuclear treaty with US

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:57 am

 Russia was due Friday to give initial approval to a historic nuclear arms pact with the United States that opens the way for the former Cold War foes’ cooperation on everything from Afghanistan to Iran.


The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that was passed after a months-long political battle by the US Senate on Wednesday has been the centerpiece of Washington’s efforts to “reset” lagging relations with Moscow.


The agreement slashes the two sides’ nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads per side and leaves each country with no more than 800 launchers and bombers.


But besides also restoring vital inspections the treaty also goes a long way toward easing Russia’s worries that it will soon begin losing nuclear parity with the United States — a point of national pride since the Soviet era.

US President Barack Obama leaves the White House.

The State Duma lower house of parliament was scheduled to hold the first of three required votes on the treaty in its final session of the year Friday.


But a top ruling party member said that no emergency sessions would be held next week and that final passage was not expected until lawmakers returned from their New Year’s vacations on January 11.


“Further work on the ratification bill will continue once the Duma resumes its work in January,” news agencies quoted the Duma’s foreign affairs committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev as saying.


Yet the timing glitch seemed of secondary importance as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev phoned US President Barack Obama in the wake of the Senate vote, according to a statement from Obama’s office Thursday.


“President Medvedev congratulated President Obama on the Senate’s approval of the new START Treaty, and the two leaders agreed that this was an historic event for both countries and for US-Russia relations,” said the White House statement.


Pro-Kremlin deputies also took turns hailing the agreement as an important signal that relations between the two one-time rivals were finally getting back on track.


“There are times when our interests do not contradict each other. This is precisely one of those times,” said the upper chamber’s foreign affairs committee chairman Mikhail Margelov.


“We are standing side by side on this one without stepping on each other’s toes.”


Obama and Medvedev had signed the agreement in April as part of a renewed US commitment to win both Russia’s trust and cooperation in the handling of pressing international disputes.


The treaty works in Moscow’s favour because it slashes the United States’ nuclear arsenal to a size that Russia can keep up with despite its financial difficulties and its need to take old nuclear warheads out of commission.


But it also suits the United States because it removes a major roadblock in the two sides’ relations and paves the way for Russia joining international efforts to halt the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.


Russia’s assistance is also important in transporting support equipment for the NATO-led campaign in Afghanistan and deputies said that all types of cooperation were possible now that the Senate had passed the pact.


“Ratification will have a positive effect on all areas of our bilateral cooperation — especially Afghanistan and Iran,” ruling United Russia party deputy Ruslan Kondratov said in comments posted on the party’s website.


Yet some lawmakers are uneasy about the non-binding amendments that US senators attached to the so-called “resolution of ratification” that was aimed at soothe sceptical Republicans’ worries about the pact.

Duma deputies were expected to add their own non-binding resolutions to the text that did not change the essence of the treaty but underscored Russia’s displeasure with US plans to deploy a new missile defence system in Europe.

The disputed US amendments are already a part of the treaty and several lawmakers said they understood that the additions were primarily meant for US audiences.

“This is all a part of a grand chess game … that Obama is playing home,” Margelov said.

Source: SGGP

CNN: North Korea agrees to return of UN nuclear inspectors

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 6:27 am

SEOUL, Dec 20, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea has agreed with US troubleshooter Bill Richardson to permit the return of UN nuclear inspectors as part of a package of measures to ease tensions on the peninsula, CNN reported Monday.


CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer, who is travelling with Richardson in Pyongyang, said the North Koreans had agreed to let inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency go back to its Yongbyon nuclear facility.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak (L) speaks during a meeting for a duties report on Ministry of Public Administration and Security at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on December 20, 2010. South Korea ordered civilians on five border islands to take shelter ahead of a live-fire exercise on December 20. AFP

They had also agreed to allow fuel rods for the enrichment of uranium to be shipped to an outside country, and to the creation of a military commission and hotline between the two Koreas and the United States, Blitzer said.

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Source: SGGP

Iran offers new dates for nuclear talks

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 at 3:51 am

German police, activists in long wait for nuclear showdown

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

German police remove nuclear waste train protesters

In Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 at 8:51 am

German protesters mobilise against nuclear waste train

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

Clinton hopes ‘lame-duck’ Congress will pass nuclear treaty

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:56 am

Russia eyes more nuclear power projects in Asia: FM

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

HANOI, Oct 30, 2010 (AFP) – Asian nations are keen on striking nuclear power deals with Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday, as world powers race to secure projects in the energy-hungry region.


“Our partners expressed particular interest in nuclear energy, noting Russia’s vast experience in this sphere,” Lavrov said in Hanoi, where President Dmitry Medvedev attended a regional summit.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the ASEAN summit in Hanoi on October 30, 2010. AFP

During Medvedev’s visit to Vietnam, Russia will also sign a multi-billion-euro deal on Sunday to build Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant.


An official with Russian state nuclear conglomerate Rosatom told AFP the construction of the two-unit plant is estimated at over 4.0 billion euros (5.5 billion dollars).


Russia is locked in a global race with competitors like the United States, Japan and France to clinch lucrative worldwide contracts as demand for nuclear energy increases.


Vietnam has approved the construction of the country’s first nuclear power stations, and its initial plans call for four reactors with a total capacity of 4,000 megawatts, at least one of which should be operational from 2020.


Lavrov added that Russia and its ASEAN partners were interested in pursuing joint projects in geothermal energy in the region.


“The prospects are quite good,” he said, adding the potential projects would be the focus of the countries’ action plan through 2015.


Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary general Surin Pitsuwan told reporters at the 10-member bloc’s summit in Hanoi that leaders agreed on the need for clean energy projects in the region.


“Without energy we could not drive our economy, but at the same time using traditional energy may impact upon our global environment,” he said, adding that member countries are working on “green energy, clean energy, new, alternative energy that would not have any impact on the environment”.

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Source: SGGP

Iran begins fuelling Bushehr nuclear reactor

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Tuesday began fuelling the reactor core of its Russian-built nuclear power plant while saying the content, date and venue of new talks with the big powers on its atomic programme have yet to be agreed.


“Today, the plant is going through the sensitive phase of loading fuel in the core … We hope that the electricity produced by the Bushehr nuclear plant will be connected to the national grid in three months’ time,” state television reported atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran. AFP file

“Bushehr power plant is one of the world’s exceptional plants … I am optimistic about the future and, with the commissioning of this plant, we will witness the construction of other plants in different areas of our country.”


The transfer of fuel into the facility began on August 21 in a process that was described as the “physical launch” of the power plant by Russia, which took over construction of the complex in the mid 1990s.


Rich in both oil and gas, Iran says it needs the plant to meet a growing demand for electricity.


Tuesday’s announcement takes Iran a step closer to putting its first nuclear power plant on stream.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Iran should be allowed to have civilian nuclear power but renewed accusations that it was seeking atomic weapons.


“Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program,” Clinton said on the sidelines of a UN Security Council debate.


“Our problem is not with their reactor at Bushehr, our problem is with their facilities at places like Natanz and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons program.”


Moscow has supplied 82 tonnes of fuel for Bushehr and also plans to reprocess the spent material.


Contractors from Germany’s Siemens began work on the Bushehr plant in the 1970s under the rule of the US-backed shah, but the project was shelved when the shah was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.


It was revived a decade later under current supreme leader Ali Khamenei and, in 1994, Russia agreed to complete its construction.


Tehran, at loggerheads with the West over its controversial nuclear drive, also said on Tuesday that the content, date and venue of mooted new talks with six major powers on its nuclear programme have yet to be finalised.


“We are hopeful that through exchange of views by both parties, we would come to an agreement regarding date, venue and more importantly content and agenda of this negotiation,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.


In remarks translated into English by Iran’s Press TV channel, Mottaki acknowledged that the “political will” for talks existed among both parties.


European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton proposed on Friday that the negotiations be held November 15-17 in Vienna.


Iran has always insisted that the talks be held on the basis of a package of proposals it gave the major powers before the last round of talks last October. The package does not explicitly talk of its atomic programme.


In a letter to Iran on Friday, Ashton insisted that the “main focus” of the talks be the “question of the Iranian nuclear programme,” which Western governments suspect is aimed at developing a weapons capability, an ambition Tehran strongly denies.


Ashton represents six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in the negotiations with Iran.


Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have broadly welcomed fresh talks, but a spokesman for Ashton said on Friday she was still waiting for Tehran’s formal response.


Ahmadinejad and several lawmakers have laid down three conditions they say the major powers must answer during the negotiations.


Lawmakers say these were outlined to Ashton in a July letter by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.


He told Ashton the world powers must say whether the talks are aimed at “engagement and cooperation or continued confrontation and hostility towards Iranians.”


“Will you be committed to the logic of talks which calls for avoiding threats and pressure?” he asked, while also urging the six powers to state their “clear view” on the “Zionist regime’s nuclear arsenal.”


Israel, which has not ruled out taking military action against Iran over its nuclear programme, is widely believed to have the Middle East’s sole but undeclared nuclear arsenal.


Iran is under four sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

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Source: SGGP