Monday, April 14, 2014

Nuclear Suppliers Group: Nuclear Export Group Debates Ties with Israel

Reuters
April 14, 2014
Link

The United States and three European allies want a global body controlling nuclear exports to consider whether to establish closer ties with non-members including Israel, despite its assumed atomic arsenal, a confidential document showed.

The issue is sensitive as Israel is outside a 1970 international pact designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and the Jewish state is widely believed to be the only country with such arms in the volatile Middle East.

Arab states and Iran often criticize Israel for not signing up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel and Washington say it is Iran, which is in the 189-nation NPT, that poses the region's most urgent proliferation threat, although Tehran says its program is for peaceful uses only.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chinese Man, Iran Firms Charged in Nuclear Export Case - Pressure Transducers

Bloomberg
April 4, 2014
Link

A Chinese national and two Iranian firms were charged in the U.S. with conspiring to export devices that can be used in uranium enrichment, the second case revealed this week in a Justice Department crackdown on the proliferation of restricted technology.

Sihai Cheng was arrested Feb. 7 while traveling in the U.K., the U.S. said today in a statement. He is being held there pending a June hearing on extradition to face charges in Boston.

Iran is among countries including Pakistan and China being aided by networks of people to evade U.S. trade embargoes and obtain parts with military uses or restricted technology. More than 100 people have been charged with exporting such items to Iran since the U.S. began a crackdown in 2007.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Japan to Export Nuclear Technology to Turkey, UAE After Parliamentary Holdup

Shanghai Daily
April 4, 2014
Link

Japan's lower house of parliament on Friday passed two nuclear treaties with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UEA) to allow Japan to begin exporting its nuclear power technology and related equipment to both countries.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), its coalition New Komeito ally and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan ( DPJ) voted to pass the treaties, which could come into effect as early as May.

Under the agreement, Japan will be able to export its nuclear power-related technology and infrastructure to both Turkey and the UAE -- the deal with the two countries was originally made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he visited the two countries last May.

Parliamentary deliberations on the treaties failed last fall, as anti-nuclear sentiment was rife in the wake of the 2011 nuclear meltdowns at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, and were postponed until the current Diet regular session.

The DPJ opted to back the treaties and break the deadlock as the opposition party was "pro-nuclear exports" when it was in power prior to falling to the LDP in December 2012.

Japan has nuclear treaties with 11 countries and is currently eyeing wrapping up similar deals with Brazil and India.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Three Men Indicted for Smuggling WMD Technology to Pakistan (Optima Plus International, and Afro Asian International)

Bloomberg Businessweek
April 2, 2014
Link

A former Pennsylvania resident and two Pakistani nationals were indicted by a federal grand jury for smuggling technology to Pakistan, highlighting the U.S. Justice Department’s focus on illegal exports that might be used for weapons of mass destruction.

The men used two corporations, Optima Plus International, and Afro Asian International to export “dual-use” items, with both commercial and military or nuclear applications, for resale to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, an arm of the Pakistani army, prosecutors said.

The U.S. has been cracking down on the use of personal networks to evade export restrictions on dual-use goods destined for countries including Pakistan and Iran. U.S. export licenses are required for such items because they can be used as nuclear weapons detonators, according to the Justice Department.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Location Leaves Brunei Open to Nuclear Material Smuggling

The Brunei Times
February 14, 2014
Link

Brunei’s strategic location in Borneo could leave the country open to nuclear material smuggling and therefore accidents or criminal incidents, said a visiting expert on nuclear security.

Andrea Cavina said this threat existed even though Brunei did not conduct nuclear research or dispose of radioactive waste.

Cavina is one of three speakers from the United Nations Inter-Regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) invited to speak at the two-day National Action Plan workshop, which started yesterday.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Iran and Russia Discuss New Nuclear Deal- 2 New Power Stations

Al Jazeera
March 12, 2014
Link

Iran and Russia have discussed a draft agreement to build at least two nuclear power stations in the Islamic Republic, Iran's official news agency reported.

Visiting Russian official Nikolai Spassky and Iranian nuclear officials reached an initial agreement on Wednesday about the facilities, IRNA said.

"Iran and Russia reached a preliminary agreement to build at least two new nuclear power plants," Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told the news agency.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Technology that Could Circumvent Missile Defense Systems Should Face Stronger Export Restrictions, According to Study

Government Security News
March 6, 2014
Link

A new government-funded report from the Santa Monica, CA-based Rand Corp., a nonprofit research group, highlights several technologies that it says should have tighter export controls because of the possibility they could be used to outmaneuver missile defense systems.

The paper, sponsored mainly by the U.S. Threat Reduction Agency, recommends that the 34-member international Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) adopt new rules restricting the sale of 19 types of so-called "penetration aids," or technologies that can be used with an offensive missile to help them avoid defense capabilities.

“One of the greatest problems with ballistic missile defense has been the problem of countermeasures,” said report co-author Richard Speier in an interview with GSN. “That attackers would use decoys and jammers and other techniques to make it difficult for missile defense interceptors to hit their target.”

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction becomes a greater threat when accompanied by the proliferation of effective means of delivery, according to the report. Some policy makers have been increasingly interested in missile defenses as missile threats from so-called rogue nations have been an ongoing concern, Speier notes.

There are three kinds of technologies that should likely be the most restricted, or placed into the MTCR’s Category I, according to the report. These include boost-glide vehicles and their subsystems; missiles that are used in interdictions tests; and complete missile borne countermeasure subsystems.

Boost-glide vehicles, designed to use aerodynamic forces to control their direction, do not adhere to a ballistic trajectory, according to the report, so are more difficult to monitor and intercept. Target missiles used in tests should be tightly controlled, as they employ technology that can be interchangeable with -- or even indistinguishable from -- some kinds of penetration aids. “Nations could use the manufacture of such dummy missiles as a cover for developing antimissile countermeasures,” the report states.

There may be a reluctance to place too many technologies in Category I, according to the report. It could therefore make more sense to place some of the additional technologies that are recommended for restriction into Category II, which includes dual use technologies that are judged on a case-by case basis. In some instances, “it may be more realistic to perform a case-by-case review to maintain room for negotiation and avoid overloading the export-control framework.” Other technologies listed are clearly dual-use and so should be in Category II.

In addition to the MTCR’s procedures to coordinate export decisions among its members, the U.S. has legislation providing sanctions against domestic and foreign entities that contribute to missile proliferation, the report notes.

China Wants to Join South Africa’s Nuclear Build

Business Day Live
March 6, 2014
Link

China has officially joined the growing queue of countries hoping to participate in South Africa’s nuclear build programme, holding formal talks with Energy Minister Ben Martins in Cape Town last week over a draft agreement on the construction and funding of nuclear power plants.

South Africa’s more than R1-trillion proposed nuclear plan, which would see the commissioning of three power stations to supply 9,600MW, has attracted great interest from state-owned and private nuclear power firms around the globe. It would be South Africa’s single biggest procurement, dwarfing the controversial R30bn arms deal in 1999.

While the National Planning Commission and the Department of Energy have produced new modelling which suggests that the nuclear programme be delayed and cheaper options such as gas pursued, President Jacob Zuma indicated in his state of the nation address last month that the government "expected to conclude the procurement" of 9,600MW of nuclear energy.

Thai Customs Department embarks on Nuclear and Radioactive Material Detection Project with US

National News Bureau of Thailand
March 6, 2014
Link

The Customs Department will undergo a Nuclear and Radioactive Material Detection Project with the US to in order to build confidence in international trade.

The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will provide technical support, install equipments, provide tools, and train staff to prevent, detect and deter the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials, which could be assembled or converted into weapons that cause major damage. The project is aimed at preventing smugglers of nuclear and radioactive materials from illegally crossing borders, which will increase the level of trading competitiveness of the country and increase confidence in international trading––a core strategy of the Customs Department.

At the Secondary Inspection Station at the Customs Office of Laem Chabang Port, Sriracha District, dignitaries presided over the launch of the Nuclear and Radioactive Material Detection Project between U.S. Department of Energy and Customs Department of Thailand, including: Mr. Mike McNamara, a representative of U.S. Embassy in Thailand, Mr. Narin Kallayanamit, Principle Advisor on Development of Customs Incentives System and Mr. Paisarn Chuenchitra, Deputy Director General of Department of Customs,.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Three Chinese State Firms Looking to Build Nuclear Plants Abroad

South China Morning Post
March 5, 2014
Link


daya_bay_cheungchifai.jpgState Nuclear Power Technology, one of three Chinese state-owned firms seeking to build nuclear plants overseas, is keen to take a crack at opportunities in Brazil, Britain and South Africa, an official at its finance unit said.
 
Wang Henghai, deputy general manager of State Nuclear Power Finance, told the Asia Nuclear Business Platform conference last week that the firm would consider a variety of financing options to help its potential customers in those countries.

"We hope to have a mixture of domestic and international funding, a mixture of equity and debt financing, and a mixture of government- and market-based financing," Wang said.
China has all the necessary ingredients for success in global nuclear power expansion.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

South Korea Scrutinizing U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Deal

Yonhap News Agency
February 27, 2014
Link


A civilian nuclear pact between the U.S. and Vietnam, approved by President Barack Obama this week, may provide some leeway for South Korea as it seeks Washington's advance consent for uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, diplomatic sources here said Wednesday.

Obama's move Tuesday opened a 90-day review process in Congress about the U.S.-Vietnam deal, under which Washington reportedly dropped the so-called "gold standard" provision banning enrichment and reprocessing.

The preamble of the "123 agreement" instead contains a Vietnamese commitment, not legally binding, to refrain from pursuing uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, according to Arms Control Association.

NASA IG Finds no Evidence of Intentional Export Control Violations at Ames

Space News
February 27, 2014
Link

Officials at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., did not intentionally violate export control laws but “exercised poor judgment” in sharing export-controlled information with foreign nationals at the center, NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded in a report summary published Feb. 26.

The investigation stemmed from complaints that foreign nationals working at Ames had access to information that should have been restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The OIG’s investigation continued after the U.S. attorney’s office closed its criminal investigation a year ago without filing any charges. The OIG’s investigation wrapped up in February with a 41-page report to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. The full report was not publicly released “because it contains information protected by the Privacy Act of 1974,” the summary notes.

The OIG investigation, like the earlier criminal probe, found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by any Ames officials, but did identify some carelessness in how they treated access to ITAR-restricted information. “In sum, we did not find intentional misconduct by any Ames civil servants,” the OIG summary states, “but believe some Ames managers exercised poor judgment in their dealings with foreign nationals who worked on Center.”

The report summary adds that there was “significant disagreement between scientists and engineers at Ames and export control personnel at the Center and NASA Headquarters as to whether the work the foreign nationals were performing at Ames involved ITAR-controlled technology,” which contributed to the issue. “We concluded that these incidents resulted more from carelessness and a genuine disagreement about whether the information qualified for ITAR protection than an intentional effort to bypass ITAR restrictions.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

UK Wants to Trade Nuclear Energy Know-how with Turkish Investment

Balkans.com
February 26, 2014
Link

The UK can offer technical support to Turkey in the nuclear energy sector in exchange for more Turkish investment in the UK, said UK's Minister for Europe David Lidington on Tuesday during the opening of an energy conferererce in Ankara, the Turkish capital Anadolu Agency reported.
He said the UK recognizes Turkey as Europe's only emerging economic power with a sustainable economic growth.

The minister called on Turkish businesspeople who have now a special visa agreement to invest more in the UK.

"Britain has much to offer to Turkish businesses in all sectors both large and small. The UK can provide Turkish businesses with a springboard into Europe and to the wider world," he said.
He said the UK can provide emerging countries with search and development programs in the nuclear energy sector.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Japan, Saudi Arabia to Promote Talks for Civil Nuclear Pact

Kyodo News International
February 19, 2014
Link

Japan and Saudi Arabia agreed Wednesday to accelerate bilateral talks for a civil nuclear cooperation accord that would enable Japanese manufacturers to export reactors to the Middle East country.

The agreement came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Tokyo, where they also agreed that the two countries should enhance security cooperation through dialogue between their foreign and defense officials, a Japanese government official said.

"I would like to strengthen further the comprehensive partnership between the two countries," Abe said at the start of the meeting. The crown prince, who is also deputy prime minister and defense minister, responded by saying he will seek to "further develop the existing cooperative relationship."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Australia Seeks to Draw India into Tighter Embrace with Nuclear Deal

Times of India
February 17, 2014
Link

Australia, which in the past has expressed serious reservations about New Delhi's nuclear programme, appears extremely keen to close a deal to supply uranium to India. "We see it as a priority and want to move as quickly as possible. The political will certainly exists within this government," Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop told reporters here even as the two countries were in the middle of their fourth round of talks for a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

It's a sentiment that finds resonance across the five-month-old Liberal-National coalition government of Tony Abbott. "We have a very strong commitment to making this deal happen. We want to be seen as a trusted partner of India," trade and investment minister Andrew Robb said.

Both Bishop and Robb were critical of the Kevin Rudd-led Labour government for overturning Liberal predecessor John Howard's decision to supply uranium to India. "The Howard government, in which I was a minister, had signed off on it. Unfortunately, the next government had a different policy," Robb said. "I think it will provide a great opportunity for peaceful power generation. We have 40% of the world's uranium deposits and have a great willingness to ensure that it is made available to India."

Peter Varghese, secretary for foreign affairs and trade, made the same point, albeit with the nuanced cautiousness of a career diplomat, when he said, "I think we'll get an agreement on uranium supplies. The Abbott government is very supportive of it. We are very optimistic."

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