Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Iran receives more nuclear fuel from Russia

Xinhua, China
A second shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran's ongoing Bushehr power plant sent by Russia arrived in Iran on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The second shipment of fuel for our Bushehr power plant arrived in Iran Friday... and the amount of it was equal to the previous consignment," Ahmad Fayazbaksh, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying. The shipment was in line with the schedule agreed with Russia, which would deliver 82 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran in eight consignments in two months, he added.

The first consignment of nuclear fuel from Russia was delivered to Iran on Dec. 17 after being checked by the experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Russian nuclear specialists.
(full story)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Opinions around Iran nuclear program - another opinion

US and Middle East
Published in The Daily Star
Sultan Mohammed Zakaria
It is very interesting to note that President Bush, all of a sudden, has started walking anti-clockwise. A hawk who never knew anything besides war and war of words suddenly turns into a peace-broker! This move, however, raises some doubts among the critics. Is this a groundwork for initiating another war in the Middle East? Is this the preparation of Israel and the US for the so-called pre-emptive aerial attack on Iran's nuclear sites? The fear remains high. It would be interesting to examine the following issues.The US in the last several years has been recklessly trying to halt Iran's uranium enriching process, which Iran relentlessly claims to be only for peaceful purpose. On the other hand, Russia is trying the reverse, reinvigorating Iran's efforts in building more nuclear sites including supplying the needed raw uranium. The show came into intensity level during the last two years. The US was looking to use the UN Security Council to go ahead with its Iran venture instead. The Iraq experience barred the US from going unilaterally and pushed them to think that way. But a number of US initiatives supported by the western powers were blocked by two other permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia and China who have great economic interest in Iran. Yet, the US unilaterally imposed more rigid sanctions on Iran and continually considered attacking the Islamic Republic. Now, it is up to the Arab nations to assess the situation. If Annapolis can bring any positive results for the millions of Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East people, that would be a real milestone. But there are many questions that need to be answered before we get a clear picture.

Russia poised to build power plant in Belarus

RBC, 26.12.2007, Moscow 11:23:13.
Russia is willing to participate in the construction of a nuclear power plant in
Belarus if the latter country's government makes a decision to this effect, a
source in the Russian government told journalists prior to a meeting of the
Council of Ministers of the Union State in Moscow. Trade between the two
countries was somewhat inefficient, as energy products accounted for the most
significant part of Russia's imports to the republic. Nuclear power plant
construction is projected to improve trade and economic cooperation between the
two countries, the source said.

Reasoning given here for Russia's participation in Belarusian nuclear power plant actually does not seem to give a full picture of Russia's interest in this project. Russia is and has been for quite a long while the largest consuming market for Belarusian goods, and one can say that the trade turnover is large enough to say that countries are economically cooperating. An energy project in Belarus is important for Russia as a strategic point - Belarus is so far considered the only ally of Russia left out of the former USSR, and building an energy project in Belarus will only strengthen this connection. Such a step seems needed when Belarusian economy has stepped into crisis after gas prices were risen on 31st of December 2006. Moreover, own nuclear power plant means a lot for the country's political ambitions.

Editorial in NYTimes on Iran fuel delivery

Fuel for Bushehr
NY times Opinion, Published: December 27, 2007

President Bush is not eager to pick another fight with the Russians. So he
did the diplomatic thing last week and said that it is good that Russia finally
delivered fuel for Iran’s Russian-built nuclear power reactor at Bushehr. Don’t
believe it.
The Bush administration should remind everyone who will listen about the
dangers posed by an Iran that even knows how to build a nuclear weapon. But it
will have a lot more credibility if it backs that up with a serious offer of
comprehensive talks and real rewards if Iran is willing to give up its fuel
program and cooperate with international inspectors. That may not change Iran’s
behavior. It may be the only way to stop the rest of the world from following
Russia’s path to Tehran’s door.

I would rather leave this without a comment - it shows clearly the US tendency to point to the "rest of the world" where to stand in this case. Sounds so openly propagandistic - that it even awakes a nostalgy for press opinion articles in the former USSR.

Another similar article can be found in yesterdays Wall Street J0urnal -
Dealing With Iran's Nuclear Bomb Ambitions

The thoughtful commentary by ex-CIA chief and Secretary of Defense James
Schlesinger regarding the National Intelligence Estimate's stunning reversal on
Iranian nuclear proliferation is right on the mark ("Stupid
Intelligence on Iran
," op-ed, Dec. 19). This report has dashed most
remaining hope that China and Russia (and perhaps much of Europe as well) will
support stiffer sanctions against Iran's 24/7 uranium enrichment program.
Mr. Schlesinger points out, it's well known that it's a short, easy path from
uranium enrichment (the hard part) to an operable nuclear weapon (the easy part
-- it's just a simple pipe bomb). Thus Iran continues full-bore developing the
hard part right under our noses.

Again, the US is behaving as a "world watchdog", at the same time more focused on their own interest than anyone else's, and as soon as someone who is not an ally to the US is trying to make a successful deal or there is a certain risk of gaining more power (including nuclear power), this is an appropriate reaction one can expect from US state structures.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Iran: Bushehr plant ready by March

Today CNN has reported the statement of Iranian Energy Minister confirming that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be launched withing 3 months, approximately in March. Russia has already made the first fuel delivery to this site.
Iran's first nuclear power plant will be operational within three months,
providing electricity to Iran's national power grid by the summer, according to
Iranian Energy Minister Parviz Fattah.

Russia, which is building the Bushehr plant for Iran, started delivering
nuclear fuel to the facility a week ago as part of a compromise effort to
alleviate concerns over Iran's nuclear intentions while supporting Iran's right
to a nuclear energy program.

However, Sergei Shmatko head of Atomstroyexport, Russian company constructing the plant, said 3 days ago in his interview to RIA Novosti:
"I promised to verify the timeframe for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant, but I can say with certainty that the plant will not be commissioned before the end of 2008."

End 2008 or beginning 2008 - which estimation to consider correct?
Time will show, but it seems as Iranian officials are eager to launch the plant as soon as possible while the construction agents are estimating the commissioning date of the plant including some extra time to finalize the work with maximum quality. Therefore one can expect the launch of Bushehr somewhere in between those 2 dates - let's say, summer 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

How Russia's nuclear fuel delivery to Iran benefits nonproliferation

Analytical from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
By Pavel Podvig
It's possible that by delivering the first 180 fuel assemblies to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on December 16, Russia scored a critical victory for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Early acknowledgement of the event's importance came from an unlikely source--President George W. Bush. Commenting on the Russian shipment, he publicly urged Iran to now suspend its controversial enrichment program, arguing that with Russian fuel, Iran no longer needed to enrich uranium on its own. Of course, it's unlikely that Iran will stop its centrifuges--at least not any time soon. But if Washington accepts the shipment of rector fuel to Bushehr as legitimate--despite the continuing controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear program--it will set an important precedent that should help build a workable system of fuel supply guarantees.
(full story here)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

NIE, IAEA reports influenced Russia’s approach toward Iran: politicos

This recent article from Tehran Times analyzes the situation around Iran nuclear program.

The recent IAEA and NIE reports have made Russia adopt a more realistic approach and finally ship nuclear fuel to Iran, MP Mohammad-Ali Rudaki said here on Wednesday.
The latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran, which was compiled by sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, and all the reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency have said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Iran and Russia reached an agreement last week on a schedule to finish building the Bushehr nuclear power plant after years of delay. The first shipment of nuclear fuel arrived in Bushehr on Sunday.

“The process of nuclear negotiations between Iran and Russia clearly shows
that Iran must become self-sufficient in the production of nuclear fuel. Of
course, the best justification is Russia’s behavior in delivering fuel to the
(Bushehr) plant.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nuclear news 19-12-2007

This newsblock is mainly devoted to Iranian nuclear fuel delivery and it's political concequences - the US still demands sanctions on Iran in front of the UN while as for Russia and China it is obvious that Iran just like any other nation of the world has the right to proceed own peaceful nuclear program with enough technical assistance from foreign specialists. So far nuclear power is the only cost-efficient alternative to oil and gas,which becomes more an more obvious as such nations as India and Pakistan head on building new reactors. Although nuclear power is still a political issue which makes me think that the Cold War is to be continued - opposition Russia-US as two major nuclear export players in the game can be clearly seen in the news below.
(Alexandra Prokopenko)

Iran: Delivery of nuclear fuel - blow to American policy
Al Bawaba (Jordan)
Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council for International Affairs Javad Vaeedi said on Tuesday that delivery of nuclear fuel to Bushehr power plant would prevent a consensus on issuance of next UNSC resolution against Iran. Speaking to reporters, he said: "If the next UNSC resolution requires consensus, Russia will have to offer more evidences to approve it."

Iran to build nuclear power plant within 8 years: Saeedi
Bushehr power plant will be operated coming Iranian new year and Iran will be able to construct average nuclear power plants within 8 years, the international deputy of Iran's atomic energy organization said.
Besides launching bids among foreign companies to establish more nuclear power plants, Iran intends to cede the responsibility of building a number of stations including a small reactor in Iran's central city Araq to its own experts, Mohammad Saeedi pointed.

Plan panel pitches for Indo-US nuclear deal
The Hindu
The Planning Commission on Tuesday pitched for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, saying the agreement will open doors for supply of fuel needed to augment the country's power generation capacity.
"The nuclear deal will remove restrictions on supplies... (otherwise) we will be limited to existing supplies," Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, told reporters on the eve of the National Development Council (NDC) meeting to discuss the 11th Five-Year Plan.
"We have stated the factual position (in the draft document)," he said when asked to comment on the observations made in the draft document which states that India is making efforts to import nuclear fuel for power plants.

Security excellent at all nuclear plants: Musharraf
Daily Times, Pakistan
President Pervez Musharraf said on Tuesday that Pakistan stands as a respectable nuclear state having excellent safety and security standards at all its nuclear power plants.“Pakistan’s nuclear safety regulatory infrastructure is effective, functional and respected by the world bodies,” said the president while addressing a gathering at the Chashma Nuclear Plant-II. The president, who is also the country’s National Command Authority chairman, said the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) should work in unison towards the cherished goal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Russia delivered first fuel to Iran

(see LA Times story)

After years of delay, Russia announced Monday that it had delivered its
first shipment of nuclear fuel to a reactor in southern Iran, a move Washington
had long tried to delay to pressure Tehran not to pursue its own enrichment

Seems like this step will make much noise both in mass media and nuclear circles. However, this shipment only means that Iran will be able to launch the plant within 6 months as planned.
One can spend a lot of time wandering for all the reasons US has to block the nuclear activities in Iran, and in most cases it sounds pretty much the same as finding bacteriological weapons in Iraq several years ago. In other words, a reason for certain statements and certain actions.

Jury Bandazhevsky calls Belarusian nuclear power plan a populist idea

Belarusian news portal Naviny.by recently interviewed professor Bandazhevsky in Brussels, and discussed the current situation with radioactive pollution in Belarus, mentioning also the perspective of the nuclear power plant construction.
"To my opinion, we just do not need a nuclear power plant, that's a
populist idea, first of all because for the world community this step will
automatically mean that Belarusians has forgotten about Chernobyl and they do
not need any assistance anymore. Second reason (and the most important one) is
th nuclear waste that will produce higher radioactive background. In case the
waste will be exported to Russia, we put ourselves into even more dependancy on
Russia then before. Third reason is that the plant will not solve the energy
problem. The apartments will get electricity, but the industry still needs large
amounts of oil and gas. The authorities tend to close the Chernobyl problem,
instead of taking care for the health of the nation. When the acciden in
Chernobyl happened, Belarus was openly announcing the problems, and the world
community was helping us. In November the UN Assembly closed the Chernobyl
issue, so to say, take care for your "zone" yourselves."
Jury Bandazhevsky is a former rector of Gomel Medical Institute, a scientist who studied the concequences of exposion to small radioactivity doses on the human body. In June 2001 he was sentenced for 8 years in prison (officially for receiving bribes, but many see the reason for his imprisonment in his research and critics towards the policies of the current government and president on polluted regions and health care connected to Chernobyl consequences). He was freed from prison in August 2005 and currently continues to work in France.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

16/12/2007 Nuclear news

Soaring energy needs, oil prices push SE Asia to nuclear power
The India Times
As oil prices and energy demand soar in tandem in Southeast Asia, many nations are turning to nuclear power -- to the horror of environmentalists who say it is not a safe option. Thirsting for energy to fuel their growing economies, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam have all put in place nuclear power strategies, aiming to build the first plants by 2015 at the earliest.

US firms eye nuke tie-ups with India
Press Trust of India
US fuel suppliers are queuing up to tap the vast potential of India's civilian nuclear industry notwithstanding the delay in IAEA negotiations, mandated by the Indo-US nuclear deal.Last week, representatives of over 20 US companies were in Mumbai exploring the possibilities of partnership in India, which could run into several billion dollars in nuclear fuel supplies alone.Concerned over the delay in the negotiations, US companies' representatives feared that India may lose out to China if it did not hurry. It is expected that at least 200 to 300 nuclear power reactors would come up globally and the fuel supply chain was very important.

IAEA in full control of Iran's nuclear program: Russia
Russia has said it believes Iran's nuclear programme is fully under control of the UN Nuclear watchdog and that in the presence of the international agency the Islamic country will not go for weaponisation.
'The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has full control over Iran's nuclear activities and the country will never obtain high enriched uranium while the IAEA is there,' Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said Saturday.

Iran: No date for completion of Bushehr nuclear power plant
Al Bawaba
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini on Sunday said that no date can yet be fixed for completion of Bushehr nuclear power plant. Addressing foreign and domestic reporters, he termed talks between Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Russian officials in Moscow as "comprehensive and effective".
"We believe that Russians are serious in their commitments," he said adding, "But still no date can be fixed for completion of Bushehr power plant."

New era of nuclear power beginning, but at what risk?
Hattiesburg American
Power companies are beginning to file applications to build up to 32 nuclear plants over the next 20 years, the first since the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania halted plans for new reactors and led to sweeping changes in safety regulations. It's partly a reflection of how, amid concerns about climate change, communities have become more open to nuclear power as a cleaner alternative to pollution-belching coal-fired plants.
Critics and advocates of nuclear power generally agree that improvements in equipment and employee training have helped to make nuclear plants safer since the partial meltdown of a reactor at Three Mile Island.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nuclear news 1/12/2007

Nuclear power protesters moved on
BBC News
Protesters blocking the entrance road to a nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk have been moved away.
Police said three women and a man had "locked" themselves into place outside the power station using concrete.

UN's IAEA inspects Russian fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant


UN nuclear officials completed five days of inspections of the first consignment of Russian fuel for Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr, a statement from the fuel factory said.

Russian officials sealed the containers of nuclear fuel in the presence of a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, said a statement from the TVEL defence factory in Novossibirsk.

China gears up to become world's biggest operator of nuclear plants

International Herald Tribune
China, its safety reputation tattered by lead paint in toys, cancer-causing chemicals in seafood and antifreeze ingredients in toothpaste, is gearing up to become the world's biggest producer and operator of nuclear plants, and a nuclear exporter.
The country plans to build about 30 reactors by 2020, at a cost totaling 450 billion yuan, or $61 billion. It could add as many as 300 eventually, said an official from Atomic Energy of Canada.

Turkey's nuclear plant project to kick off in February
The New Anatolian
Turkish authorities are expected to invite bids for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant in February, Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said late Wednesday.
"Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS), the state-run company to market the plant's power production, could make the announcement on February 21," Guler said. "Turkey's Atomic Energy Institute (TAEK) is working on technical criteria for the plant, a process expected to conclude by December 21."

Iranian Pushes Nuclear Talks Back to Square 1
The New York Times
In a sign tha Iran hardened its position on its nuclear program, its new nuclear negotiator said in talks in London on Friday that all proposals made in past negotiations were irrelevant and that further discussion of a curb on Iran’s uranium enrichment was unnecessary, senior officials briefed on the meeting said.
The Iranian official, Saeed Jalili, also told Javier Solana, who represented the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in the five-hour talks, that United Nations Security Council resolutions punishing Iran for not suspending its enriched uranium activities were illegal, the officials said.