Monday, October 31, 2005

The Global Nuclear Fuel Market - supply & demand 2005-2030

Uranium Information Centre weekly digest: "

WNA Market Report updates outlook

The nuclear industry's 2-yearly report: The Global Nuclear Fuel Market - supply & demand 2005-2030 has been published by WNA. It shows that the key feature of this market 'is likely to be the need for primary production to expand rapidly', despite the continuing importance of secondary supplies - mostly US and Russian demilitarised materials. However, recent reliance on these has led to neglect of the rest of the supply infrastructure, which needs to be remedied. The reference scenario suggests a doubling of world mine production by 2030. Copies available from WNA @ �200."

US feasibility study for new reactors

Uranium Information Centre weekly digest:

US feasibility study for new reactors

[This study is supposed to be available but it is not : ]

Under a DOE program for promoting building of new-generation nuclear plants, a $4 million feasibility study on building two ABWRs at Bellefonte in Alabama was undertaken by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plus vendors GE and Toshiba as well as Bechtel and others. The 1350 MWe ABWR was the first Generation 3 reactor design to enter service, a number of units are operating and under construction in Japan and it already has design certification in the USA. The study showed that twin 1371 MWe ABWRs would cost $1611 per kilowatt, or if they were uprated to 1465 MWe each, $1535 /kW, and be built in 40 months.

However TVA has apparently decided not to proceed, as they would be the only ABWR units in USA.
Nucleonics Week 29/9/05."

Nuclear option is at least 20 years away

Utilities, Utility news, Times Online

By Angela Jameson, Industrial Correspondent

BRITAIN will not benefit from a new fleet of nuclear power stations until 2025 at the earliest, even if the decision to begin building plants is taken next year.
Experts agree that each new power station will take at least ten years to build. Therefore to construct ten, even at a rate of one per year, would require a 20-year building programme.

In the meantime, household fuel bills and industry’s energy costs are likely to continue to rise steeply unless the Government acts to speed up the planning process.

Tony Blair has said that the Government will make a final decision on the nuclear issue next year and ministers appear to be softening their stance on the need for nuclear.

Companies that want to get involved in the expected multibillion-pound business are suggesting that the Government should follow America’s lead and introduce legislation to prevent new power stations being delayed during planning. The United States has changed its planning process to speed up construction of nuclear power stations and expects to cut the time from 15 years to seven.

People in the nuclear industry have told ministers that they should consider following next year’s energy White Paper with a Bill to shorten the inquiry process.

“The real issue is not the actual build — you can build a station in five years — it is the planning and consent process that is likely to hold things up. The public inquiry process can be very costly and drawn out, as we know from Terminal Five, which took ten to twelve years,” an industry insider said.

Sir Peter Mason, chief executive of Amec, the engineering group, which wants to build new generators, said: “While due democratic process must, of course, be respected, and everyone is entitled to have a say, we need to achieve this without totally derailing the progress of important projects and imposing substantial and potentially unrecoverable sunk costs on private-sector investors.”

Ian Fells, a leading adviser for the Government on energy issues, will tell a conference organised by a United Nations research institute in Italy next month that Britain risks falling behing on nuclear power.

“If we do not decide soon to go down the nuclear route, we will be so far behind the new build queue that it will be 25 years before we begin to see any benefit,” Professor Fells will tell the conference.

Professor Fells is also concerned that Britain no longer has the skills to build new nuclear power stations, because its nuclear programme has been in abeyance for so long.

“Being at the back of the queue is an issue. France, the US, China are all moving forward. We are urging Government to get a move on,” Philip Dewhurst, chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said.

Once it was a dirty word, now it offers the clean answer for energy

Utilities, Utility news, Times Online

By Christine Buckley

JUST OVER 18 months ago the Government launched an energy White Paper extolling the virtues of renewable energy and calling nuclear power “an unattractive option”.
Yet now the future seems distinctly nuclear. Tony Blair said recently that it should be considered and much energy is about to be expended in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to produce a new White Paper that will look very different to the last one.

So why the about-turn? Possibly ministers feel able to tackle the nuclear issue just after a general election rather than just before one. Furthermore, soaring fuel prices have concentrated minds on broader energy issues, which so far have been been left largely to the market.

Power prices have jumped markedly over the past year, pushed by the oil price, and the issue has become one of the main concerns of business. Industry groups believe that higher energy costs in Britain will force business overseas.

Security of power supply is another factor. As North Sea yields dwindle, Britain is importing more power and soon will become a net importer. That has sparked fears that it will become reliant for fuel supplies on less stable parts of the world.

According to critics in business and the unions, security and diversity of power supply is something that the Government has failed to tackle, leading to the allegation that it has no real energy policy.

The Confederation of British Industry, which by its nature prefers light-touch government, greeted the last White Paper — which pinned great hope on industry’s voluntary development of renewable power — with dismay. It said that it was difficult to see any substance in the paper, nor any means by which renewable targets would be achieved.

The last White Paper was not the Government’s first crack at energy. It produced a White Paper in 1998 in response to a crisis in the coal industry, when ten of just over twenty pits were threatened with closure because of supply contract problems. Peter Mandelson, then the Trade and Industry Secretary, blamed the Conservatives for “a policy of drift towards over-dependence on a single fuel source, distorted markets and prices higher than they needed to be”.

Recently the DTI calculated that by 2020, 70 per cent of electricity will be generated by gas and that 90 per cent of that gas will have to be imported.

The acknowledgment of nuclear power is also likely to be a nod to climate change. Britain is committed to carbon dioxide emission reduction targets of 60 per cent by 2050 and many doubt that this can be achieved without a shake-up in the mix of fuels that generate electricity. Nuclear power has the greenhouse virtue of producing virtually no carbon dioxide emissions.

Another factor helping nuclear power is the rehabilitation of British Energy, the nuclear generator whose financial crisis required a government bail-out three years ago. When British Energy nearly went into administration in 2002, it seemed symbolic of nuclear power’s ailing fortunes. If it could not even make money, it seemed there was little to commend it. Now that British Energy is back on its feet and is profitable, nuclear power appears to make business sense.

Nuclear power has been dogged by concerns over safety since it was introduced into Britain in 1954. Safety fears grew when Windscale, now called Sellafield, had a reactor fire in 1957. Pressure against nuclear power grew alongside the peace movements against nuclear weapons in the 1970s and 1980s. The explosion of a reactor at Chernobyl in 1986 still hangs as a spectre over the development of nuclear power, despite undoubted advances in technology and the absence of any major incident for years.

So if the Government does announce a programme for nuclear power by the end of next year, it will be highlighting long-term energy needs and climate change considerations.

Rifkin y De Palacio auguran la llegada de la era del hidrógeno

Rifkin y De Palacio auguran la llegada de la era del hidr�geno - - edici�n impresa - Econom�a

La pila de combustible se impondrá tras un periodo de convivencia con energías renovables

R. C. - Madrid

EL PAÍS - Economía - 27-10-2005
Loyola de Palacio, ex comisaria europea de Energía y Transportes y coordinadora de la Unión Europea para la Red Transeuropea de Transportes, vaticinó ayer, junto con el experto internacional en fuentes de energía, Jeremy Rifkin, "una nueva revolución energética que garantice el suministro y la seguridad mundial ante el creciente agotamiento de las energías fósiles". En las próximas décadas se desarrollará un periodo de transición previo a la era del hidrógeno. Loyola de Palacio intervino ayer en una jornada sobre el futuro de las fuentes de energía para el automóvil organizadas por la Fundación Barreiros, en la que destacó el creciente protagonismo que tomarán el recurso a los biocarburantes, la utilización del gas y los sistemas híbridos, que marcarán un periodo transitorio que se extenderá en las próximas décadas hasta llegar a "la auténtica revolución a largo plazo, que se construirá en torno al hidrógeno y a las pilas de combustible".

La ex comisaria de Energía y Transporte destacó que más del 30% del consumo energético mundial en estos momentos se origina en el transporte, una realidad que puede verse alterada de manera importante en el futuro por el desarrollo de países como China o la India. China ha incrementado su consumo enérgético en 2002 en un nivel equivalente al consumo anual de Holanda y Austria juntas, en torno al 1% del consumo mundial. Ese mismo año, China aumentó sus emisiones de dióxido de carbono (CO2) en 450 millones de toneladas, una cantidad superior al ahorro global de esas emisiones previsto en el protocolo de Kioto para toda la Unión Europea entre 2010 y 2012. Además, si China tuviera hoy un consumo semejante a la media de los países de la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico, el consumo energético mundial se incrementaría en torno al 40%.

De Palacio defendió la necesidad de las alternativas energéticas al petróleo, como las renovables y la energía nuclear, con el objetivo de "garantizar el suministro energético universal a unos precios y ritmos razonables". Asimismo, destacó que el objetivo de la UE es alcanzar en el año 2020 un 20% del consumo energético de carburantes alternativos, de los cuales un 5% procederán del hidrógeno y el resto del gas y los biocarburantes.

Por su parte, el presidente de la Fundación de Tendencias Económicas y experto en temas de energía, Jeremy Rifkin, anunció una tercera revolución industrial protagonizada por el hidrógeno, semejante a la del carbón y la informática.

Una era que cambiará el mercado y las estructuras políticas y sociales actuales. Según Rifkin, dentro de 36 meses ya estarán en el mercado pilas de combustible que podrán dar energía para 20 días a un ordenador portátil, y para 2010 habrá bastantes coches que usen el hidrógeno como fuente energética. Una tecnología en la que ya hay prototipos desarrollados por empresas como General Motors, BMW, Honda o Toyota.

Solar power holds more promise than nuclear

The State | 10/31/2005 | Solar power holds more promise than nuclear

A couple of articles recently have called attention to the benefits of hydrogen as a clean fuel and as the basis of an industry that can boost the economy of South Carolina.

That’s good, but unfortunately the same articles are looking to hydrogen as the savior of a moribund nuclear industry.

Nuclear power is moribund for good reason. It is inherently dirty, bringing radioactivity into our world where it must be dealt with safely for periods of time two or three times longer than the entire duration of human civilization so far. Methods to ensure a level of nuclear safety that inspires confidence have not worked out yet.

Consequently the cost of nuclear energy, including all the burdens that the industry sloughs off on society, is too high, and the industry flounders. Tying nuclear energy to hydrogen, a clean fuel, does nothing to redeem nuclear energy from its fatal flaw.

Further, tying hydrogen to large-scale, highly centralized energy infrastructure is a mistake. Hydrogen can be produced and used locally, using small-scale and diversified technologies. There is no economy of scale associated with hydrogen production, storage and utilization.

The amount of solar energy falling on our state is many times our need. It can be captured on rooftops, parking lots and agricultural shelters scattered over the land and converted to hydrogen on the spot, where it can be stored for use as needed.

Making that vision economically viable should be the goal of our research. Consider the benefits of an industry that creates entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses and employs lots of people locally in high-quality jobs.

Consider the benefit of everybody being in the energy business, saving or making money as operator of a mini-utility.

Consider the benefit of energy that is immune to power outages and independent of foreign sources.

Consider an energy infrastructure that can start with one small installation at a single location and be built, one small piece at a time, until it covers the land.


Nuclear power is an option: Blair News - Latest News - Nuclear power is an option: Blair

The major threat of climate change can only be tackled if developing and emerging nations work together, Tony Blair has said.

The Prime Minister, writing in a Sunday newspaper, also stated that nuclear power was among the options that should be considered to produce "low carbon power".

His comments come a few days after Prince Charles said the issue of global warming should be treated with "a far greater degree of priority than is happening now".

Mr Blair's article in the Observer stated: "There are huge opportunities in environmental technology and huge possibilities in sustainable development, if the right framework for low carbon energy generation can be stimulated.

"But none of this is going to happen unless the major developed and emerging nations sit down together and work it out, in a way that allows us all to grow, imposes no competitive disadvantage and enables the transfer of the technology needed for sustainable growth to take place."

Mr Blair highlighted the importance of an international summit on climate change on Tuesday that will see the G8 nations come together with China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa in London.

The Prime Minister went on to say: "We need to see how the existing energy technologies we have such as wind, solar and - yes - nuclear, together with new technologies such as fuel cells and carbon capture and storage, can generate the low carbon power the world needs."

The Government will be taking action soon to achieve its domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010, said Mr Blair.

He explained that one policy being considered was increasing the use of eco-friendly biofuels - made from plant oils.

But Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the Government was not doing enough to tackle the problem.

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2005, All Rights Reserved.

US to transfer nuclear reactor tech to China

People's Daily Online -- US to transfer nuclear reactor tech to China:

A senior US official Tuesday expressed repeated commitment to transferring nuclear reactor technologies to China. China has drafted ambitious plans to use nuclear power to alleviate growing energy shortages.

Administrator of the US National Nuclear Security Administration, Linton Brooks, told China Daily: "There is no reason why the (reactor) technology should not be transferred to a country like China."

Industry insiders said the commitment from Brooks, who is also undersecretary of the US Department of Energy, is expected to boost US nuclear power company Westinghouse's attempts to win a US$8-billion contract to build four nuclear reactors at Sanmen in Zhejiang Province and Guangdong Province's Yangjiang.

So far, the Chinese Government has been busy reviewing bid application from the US company, France's Areva and Russia's AtomStroyExport.

Several high-level US officials have expressed interest in loosening controls over exports of nuclear reactor technologies to China. The controls have rendered Westinghouse unable to participate in China's nuclear reactor construction, despite the company having had a presence here for years.

An earlier report said that Westinghouse plans to sell its new AP1000 reactor, which is to be approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of the year.

China is considering picking one strong partner to help it build dozens of new nuclear plants over the coming years, as part of the plan to raise the country's nuclear power generating capacity fourfold by 2020 to 36,000 megawatts.

Brooks said the US will forge a partnership with China to enhance nuclear security capacity.

He said a week-long demonstration has been organized by his department and the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) in Beijing, to prevent nuclear material theft, diversion and sabotage.

"The demonstration, which ends on Friday, is the first one we have held in China, and in fact the first one we have held outside the US," said Brooks.

CAEA Chairman Sun Qin said the demonstration is to promote the adoption of modern security practices and technologies at civilian nuclear facilities in China.

Brooks also said that the US does not conduct nuclear security co-operation with China at military level, despite "the great potential."

US to transfer nuclear reactor tech to China

US to transfer nuclear reactor tech to China

ISN Security Watch - Venezuelan nuclear technology is a long shot

ISN Security Watch - Venezuelan nuclear technology is a long shot

President Hugo Chavez's intention to develop a peaceful nuclear program highlights the possibility of a nuclear weapons bluff and reveals potential threats to regional security.

By Sam Logan and Julio Cirino for ISN Security Watch (26/10/05)

When Argentina’s Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa announced on 10 October that Venezuela was seeking to purchase a medium-sized nuclear reactor from his country, many asked why such an oil-rich nation as Venezuela would make public its aspirations to obtain nuclear power, raising suspicions about President Hugo Chavez’s real nuclear intentions.

This latest move in Venezuelan political maneuvering to further unite the region also has given Washington more cause for concern.

Regardless of the Chavez’s true intentions, the realities of this announcement reveal the tip of an iceberg that entails more than nuclear power and bilateral relations between Venezuela and neighboring Argentina and Brazil.

Regional nuclear initiatives
Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are the only countries in Latin America capable of generating power through the use of nuclear technology. Argentina is the region’s nuclear technology pioneer, having begun construction on its first nuclear power reactor in 1964, five years before Mexico, and a full decade before Brazil.

Brazil began construction on its first nuclear plant, Angra I, in 1974. Today, the country operates that plant and a second, Angra II, which it built with the help of the German government. Angra III is still under construction. Many observers believe it will never reach completion, and will be due for decommissioning soon.

Mexico began construction on its only reactor, Laguna Verde, in 1969. To date, this reactor operates at loss and generates little power, accounting for only 3.2 per cent of the country’s electricity. It will likely be decommissioned in the coming years, spelling the end of Mexico’s ability to contribute significantly to regional nuclear science.

Argentina began operating Atucha I in 1974, a decade after construction on the power plant began. Atucha II is still under construction and will likely also find itself on the chopping block.

Through decades of nuclear technology research, development, and implementation, Brazil and Argentina have achieved two significant capabilities: uranium enrichment and a scientific brain trust.

Added value
Soon after the Brazilians began operating Angra II, they applied significant research and development resources to nuclear technology, focusing on uranium enrichment. This research and development, in part, led to the Brazilian claim that it was able to enrich uranium with a process that left the nuclear fuel up to 30 per cent more potent that other processes used around the world.

This process is one of the fundamental scientific technologies that any developing country must master before generating nuclear technology.

Brazil’s desire to guard this technology made for tense negotiations with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when the agency expressed interest in inspecting Brazil’s newest nuclear fuel enrichment plant, which opened last year.

Brazil’s Resende plant, located some 100 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, contains a fuel-fabrication facility, a uranium conversion plant under construction, and a uranium enrichment plant. Brazil barred the IAEA from inspecting this plant twice in 2004, citing the need to protect Brazilian technology.

It was a dubious argument at a time when the world was captivated by revelations that the father of Pakistan’s nuclear technology, Abdul Qadeer Khan, had sold nuclear technology to the highest bidders around the world, including North Korea and Iran.

Brazil eventually reached an agreement with the IAEA, but Brazilian scientists still know how to enrich uranium better than anyone in Latin America.

Argentina knows how to construct and sell nuclear reactors, having sold reactors to Peru, Australia, Algeria, and Egypt. The experience necessary to construct and sell a reactor is in place, as well as the scientific brain trust to transfer the technological know-how appropriate for the safe operation of such plants.

As Argentina has prepared four other countries for the safe use of nuclear reactors, there is no reason to believe it could not do so again. And with a price tag of some US$500 million, there is certainly an incentive to make a sale.

Both countries could give significant added value to Venezuela’s initiative for nuclear power. The question remains, however, how serious all three countries are about preserving South America as a “nuclear free” zone.

Central to this argument is the possible dual use of fuel, specifically uranium.

Simply put, enriched uranium used for peaceful nuclear reactions can just as well be used in a budding nuclear weapons program. With nuclear scientists and the capability to enrich nuclear fuel, it is possible for a country to either push for the development of nuclear weapons or to simply bluff in exchange for international attention and some control.

Argentina and Brazil have the capability and technology to deliver all of Chavez' requirements to effectively execute a nuclear energy program. And many observers do not discount the fact that Chavez has the money and the political connections to take such a program and bring it close enough to a nuclear weapons program to ensure a believable bluff.

Ground-level movement
Venezuela has been talking to Argentina about purchasing a mid-sized nuclear plant since May of this year, when an Argentine delegation that included at least one retired member of the military flew to Caracas to discuss nuclear technology cooperation with Chavez.

Initially, the discussions centered around training and technology transfer. Only recently have they begun to focus more on the purchase of a mid-sized reactor, according to an Argentine nuclear scientist close to the talks.

Argentina is interested in completing the sale, but is adamant about meeting international standards and expectations for transparency, which means it would register its intent with the IAEA. The IAEA, in turn, would monitor the process closely and is likely to request a complete review of the plant once the facility is installed and operational in Venezuela.

There is no guarantee, however, that Venezuela will yield to the will of an international agency, much less one that has been ignored and badgered by countries around the world since its inception.

There are questions in Argentina, however, as to whether the transfer of the technology required to operate a mid-sized nuclear reactor would constitute a “dual-use” situation. This is a touchy subject. It is difficult to see how Argentina would benefit from transferring technology necessary to operate a dual-use nuclear reactor. The international pressure would be fierce.

Venezuela claims that it is only interested in a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes. Yet no one can ignore that fuel used for a peaceful nuclear reactor can also be used in a nuclear weapons program. And Brazil has been very careful to date about what it says publicly concerning any deal with Venezuela over nuclear fuel enrichment programs.

Brazil and Argentina are willing to negotiate with Chavez, but they want to be very careful as to what exactly they sell to Venezuela. It is likely that their involvement in this process will adhere to international standards and expectations for transparency.

Regional pressures
“Chavez has been very specific in keeping to plans that he has announced,” Julian Lumer, Latin American analyst for private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, told ISN Security Watch.

Lumer points out that Chavez said he would repatriate land and did. Chavez said he would raise taxes on foreign oil companies, and he did. He has been very public about joining Mercosur, and the country is now on track to becoming a full member.

It is clear that Chavez has the money and the political will to follow through on his announcement to obtain peaceful nuclear technology. But it will not be easy. Already rumors have begun to surface that Washington is working behind the scenes to prevent Argentina from selling a nuclear reactor to Venezuela.

Sources in the Pentagon say they expect Washington to pressure Argentina not to sell a reactor. Clearly, the last thing the Pentagon, or anyone else in Washington, wants to deal with is a southern neighbor threatening to acquire a nuclear weapons program.

Brazil’s capacity to enrich uranium is certainly attractive for Venezuela. But the Brazilian government is hesitant to bring more attention from the IAEA to this continent, which is exactly what would happen if the two countries announced a deal to share nuclear fuel enrichment facilities.

Regional alliances are stronger than the fear of upsetting an international regime perceived to be largely controlled by the US. But these alliances are trumped by sovereignty and national security considerations. Neither Brazil nor Argentina would benefit from a nuclear weapons program in Venezuela.

“There is nothing concrete,” insists Brazilian presidential foreign policy advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia. He argues that Brazil’s nuclear program is transparent and protected from any military use.

Aurelio Garcia goes further to speculate that in any initial phase of a nuclear program in Venezuela, Argentina would provide the reactor while Brazil would provide the enriched uranium. He believes that neither country would provide enough technology transfer to allow the Venezuelans to take complete control of the process.

The real cause for concern
What worries observers in Washington, however, is not Brazilian or Argentine intentions - which many consider to be carefully thought out and to have benign motivations - but rather Chavez’s constant communication with Iran and North Korea. Though this is not alarming at present, it is worth careful consideration.

If Brazil and Argentina are not willing to provide the technology transfer required for an independent Venezuelan nuclear program, it is possible that both Iran and North Korea will be more accomodating - especially North Korea, considering its need for fuel and Venezuela’s abundance of oil.

Both North Korea and Iran are relatively advanced in the field of nuclear technology, an area where Venezuela has literally no experience or technological know-how. Neither country would suffer adverse effects from a nuclear weapons program in Venezuela.

Considering their antagonistic stance vis-à-vis the US, it is more plausible that North Korea and Iran would support Venezuela’s intention to at least threaten to acquire a nuclear weapons program.

It is plausible that Chavez has already invited scientists from both countries to Venezuela. The confirmed installation of a North Korean embassy in Caracas reinforces the possibility of North Korean scientists in Venezuela.

Politics vs. reality
Yet sources within Venezuela are convinced that Chavez’s nuclear announcement is more political than actual.

“The nuclear plan is [hollow],” Venezuelan journalist and political observer, Manuel Malaver told ISN Security Watch.

Malaver argues that Chavez has embarked on a strategy similar to that of the North Koreans, threatening the use of nuclear technology and leveraging heightened international tensions to ensure access to resources and technology that he could not obtain otherwise.

“I don’t believe Chavez has an interest in developing nuclear [technology], which would take years, considering Venezuela does not have nuclear scientists,” Malaver said, adding, “for Chavez it’s more important to demonstrate that he has the support of the region in his desires for nuclear technology than to actually have the technology itself.”

Clearly, the wild cards here are Iran and North Korea, and it is difficult to predict what either country will do. Chavez has clearly engaged both countries, but it is unclear to what ends. Equally unclear is whether Chavez is serious about cloaking a nuclear weapons program with the peaceful use of nuclear technology, or if he is just trying to make international headlines again.

Smoke and mirrors
Chavez has a strong track record. He has engaged Argentina and Brazil for assistance in developing so-called peaceful nuclear technology. Argentina and Brazil have tacitly agreed, effectively giving him the regional support he covets.

The reality that Chavez does not have a group of Venezuelan nuclear scientists cannot be ignored. He needs to borrow the expertise from elsewhere. He does not know how to build a reactor, or operate one. And his neighbors in the region, while having demonstrated an ability to build and operate nuclear reactors, are still subject to international pressure in the form of the IAEA.

Additionally, the countries in the region that do have nuclear energy required no less than ten years to build a reactor. If Chavez is serious about bringing nuclear power to Venezuela, he would need at least ten years, if not closer to 20, to realize the first kilowatt of nuclear power output. There is currently little guarantee that he can stay in power that long.

Producing nuclear power would allow Venezuela to export more oil and generate additional revenues for the state treasury. If Chavez manages to stay in power long enough to take advantage of nuclear technology in Venezuela, he is likely to use the extra energy to alleviate domestic need for oil he would rather export. Herein lies the strongest chord of truth.

Venezuelan oil output is limited. Many suggest the country's oil output has declined and will continue to do so. Chavez’s intention to pull together the region with the carrot of generous oil export contracts and other financial incentives suggests that over time, he will need more money, more oil, and another reliable source of energy.

These two factors would allow him to benefit from a regional spending spree that will only grow each year if the region becomes more dependent upon Venezuela’s riches, rather than gamble with international markets. With a second, reliable source of energy from nuclear power, Chavez will have a secure path to continue his march toward his true goal of regional integration.

Any use of a peaceful nuclear program to conceal or hint at a nuclear weapons program would come as a fringe benefit, an ace up Chavez' sleeve, but nothing more than that. This prospect is something to watch out for, but will not be a threat to regional security for at least a decade, if at all.

Sam Logan is an investigative journalist who has covered security, energy, politics, economics, organized crime, terrorism, and black markets in South America since July 1999. He has reported from Santiago, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. He currently lives in Buenos Aires. (
Julio Cirino is an Argentine historian and journalist specializing in international security affairs.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ontario Adults Support Nuclear Power

::.Angus Reid Consultants.::

Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many adults Ontario favour atomic energy, according to a poll by Leger Marketing. 54 per cent of respondents in Canada’s most populous province support the use of nuclear power for generating electricity.

Earlier this month, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty announced that two nuclear reactors would be refurbished, and two others would be upgraded as part of a strategy to boost the province’s power grid. The Ontario government has said the four reactors would fill 25 per cent of Ontario’s electricity needs when they become fully operational in 2012.

McGuinty is also expected to receive a report from the newly created Ontario Power Authority (OPA) in December.

There are 17 nuclear power reactors in Canada, which supply approximately 14 per cent of the country’s electricity needs.

Polling Data

Thinking specifically about nuclear power, overall, do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the use of nuclear power for generating electricity in Ontario?

Strongly support

Somewhat support

Somewhat oppose

Strongly oppose


Don’t know

Source: Leger Marketing
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,000 Ontario adults, conducted from Oct. 12 to Oct. 18, 2005. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.

N-power is renewable, Sainsbury tells Lords / World / UK - N-power is renewable, Sainsbury tells Lords

By Jean Eaglesham,UK Business Editor
Published: October 29 2005 03:00 | Last updated: October 29 2005 03:00

Nuclear power is a renewable source of energy and new stations are needed if Britain is to make headway in cutting greenhouse gases over the next 15 years, the science minister has asserted.


Lord Sainsbury's contentious comments are the strongest signal yet the government intends to commit to replacing ageing nuclear power stations in next year's energy policy review.

The energy minister also said it would be "very optimistic" to believe the government could meet its target of generating 20 per cent of electricity from wind, wave and solar power and other non-nuclear renewable sources by 2020. Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth are promoting renewables and increased energy efficiency as an alternative to building new nuclear power stations.

But Lord Sainsbury told the House of Lords that anyone who cared about climate change had to consider that nuclear power did not produce the carbon dioxide emissions that are a prime cause of global warming. There was a "key and simple argument which the energy review will have to consider," peers were told.

"If we run down nuclear power stations, by 2020 we take out 20 per cent of our clean energy sources. If you are very optimistic - you would have to be very optimistic - you might get renewables to 20 per cent [by that date]. But that would simply mean we have gone 20 years without making any impact on our emissions," Lord Sainsbury said. "If you care about climate change, you have to ask yourself whether that is an acceptable situation or whether you should bring in nuclear."

Concerns about the cost and acceptability of nuclear waste would have to be resolved before any commitment could be given to building new nuclear power stations. Such a commitment would be preceded by the "fullest public consultation" and a white paper setting out the proposals in detail.

The Conservatives said the comments were "part of a softening-up exercise" ahead of a decision next year that could face significant public hostility. Bernard Jenkin, shadow energy minister, backed ministers' increasingly pro-nuclear stance but said: "The government don't seem to recognise the urgency of making a decision [created by] the time lag on nuclear construction." He called on the government to legislate to allow the fast-tracking of the regulatory and planning approvals needed for new reactors.

The government's short-term energy policy has also come under fire from the Tories. Mr Jenkin wrote to Alan Johnson, trade and industry secretary, claiming ministers' "contradictory statements and complacency" about potential gas shortages this winter were "creating exactly the kind of panic atmosphere we must surely seek to avoid".

The letter cites assurances given to MPs by Geoff Hoon, leader of the Commons. Asked this week if ministers could "guarantee energy supplies to business and domestic consumers this winter," Mr Hoon said: "Yes they can and we are looking at this matter very carefully. Obviously that will depend on the nature of this winter's weather but we are prepared for all contingencies."

The answer contradicts recent statements from Mr Johnson and Malcolm Wicks, energy minister, who have said business could face power cuts. Mr Wicks told the FT he had no idea how bad gas shortages might be but said there was no threat to domestic supplies.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The chief scientific adviser has become a government spin doctor

Guardian Unlimited | Columnists | The chief scientific adviser has become a government spin doctor

The man who told the truth about climate change is now selling nuclear power for his political masters

George Monbiot
Tuesday October 25, 2005
The Guardian

I report this with sadness: Sir David King has lost his bottle. Until a few weeks ago, the chief scientific adviser looked to me like one of the few brave souls in the British government. In an article in Science at the beginning of last year, he argued that "climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today - more serious even than the threat of terrorism" and criticised the Bush administration for "failing to take up the challenge". In response, he was viciously attacked by the Exxon-sponsored climate change denier Myron Ebell. Being viciously attacked by Ebell is something to which all self-respecting scientists should aspire.

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Last month he was attacked again, and this time he deserved it. At a meeting of climate change specialists, King announced that a "reasonable" target for stabilising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 550 parts of the gas per million parts of air. It would be "politically unrealistic", he said, to demand anything lower.
Simon Retallack, from the Institute for Public Policy Research, reminded King what his job was. As chief scientist, his duty is not to represent political reality - there are plenty of advisers schooled in that art - but to represent scientific reality. Retallack's own work, based on the latest science, shows that at 550 parts per million the chances of preventing more than two degrees of global warming are just 10%-20%. To raise them to 80%, carbon concentrations will have to be stabilised at 400 parts. Two degrees is the point beyond which most climate scientists predict catastrophe: several key ecosystems are likely to flip into runaway feedback; the biosphere becomes a net source of carbon; global food production is clobbered, and 2 billion people face the risk of drought. All very reasonable, I'm sure.

King replied that if he recommended a lower limit, he would lose credibility with the government. As far as I was concerned, his credibility had just disappeared without trace. By shielding his masters from uncomfortable realities, he is failing in his duties as both scientist and adviser. Anyone who has studied the BSE crisis knows how dangerous the cowardice of scientific counsellors can be.

As if to prove that his nerve has gone, on Friday King made his clearest statement yet that he sees nuclear power as the answer to climate change. With the right carbon taxes, he said, nuclear power would become cheaper than coal. "It's important we do take the public with us on the environmental debate," he said. "That is why I'm trying to sell it." He may have political reasons for "trying to sell" new nuclear power stations - at the Labour party conference Tony Blair said he wants to re-examine the nuclear option - but King would, I suspect, have as much trouble identifying a scientific case as he had at the meeting last month. The figures leave him stranded.

Let us forget, for the moment, that nuclear power spreads radioactive pollution, presents a target for terrorists and leaves us with waste that no government wants to handle. Like King, I believe that while all these problems are grave, they are not as grave as climate change. Let us concentrate on value for money.

It seems clear that new nuclear power stations will not be built unless the government supports them. A recent review by the economics consultancy Oxera shows that even if you exclude the cost of insurance and include the benefits of emissions trading (which attaches a price to carbon dioxide), "a programme of public assistance ... would be needed to boost predicted [rates of return] to a level that is acceptable to private investors". The consultants suggested that £1.6bn of grants might be enough to tip the balance in favour of a new nuclear programme.

The first "even if" is a big one. Private insurers will not cover the risk. Three international conventions limit investors' liability and oblige governments to pick up the bill on their behalf. According to a report commissioned by the European parliament, the costs of a large-scale nuclear accident range from €83bn to €5.5 trillion. They would have to be met by us.

But let us also forget the costs of insurance. If the public sector (or for that matter, given that funds are limited, the private sector) invests in nuclear power, is this the best use to which the money can be put? This is the question addressed in a new paper by the physicist Amory Lovins.

He begins by examining the terms of reference used by people like King, who compare nuclear power "only with a central power plant burning coal or natural gas". If the costs of construction come down, and if the government offers big enough subsidies and makes carbon emissions sufficiently expensive, Lovins says, nuclear power might be able to compete with coal. "But those central thermal power plants are the wrong competitors. None of them can compete with windpower ... let alone with two far cheaper resources: cogeneration of heat and power, and efficient use of electricity."

Ten cents of investment, he shows, will buy either 1 kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity; 1.2-1.7 of windpower; 2.2-6.5 of small-scale cogeneration; or up to 10 of energy efficiency. "Its higher cost than competitors, per unit of net CO2 displaced, means that every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar." And, because nuclear power stations take so long to build, it would be spent later. "Expanding nuclear power would both reduce and retard the desired decrease in CO2 emissions."

Already, the market is voting with its wallet. "In 2004 alone," Lovins notes, "Spain and Germany each added as much wind capacity - 2bn watts - as nuclear power is adding worldwide in each year of this decade." Though the nuclear industry in the US has guzzled 33 times as much government money as wind and has "enjoyed a regulatory system of its own design for a quarter-century", it hasn't fulfilled a single new order from the electricity companies since 1973. And, unlike nuclear power stations, wind, cogeneration and energy efficiency will all become much cheaper.

It's certainly a good idea, as people like King recommend, to have a "diversified energy portfolio". But, as Lovins points out, "this does not mean ... that every option merits a place in the portfolio purely for the sake of diversity, any more than a financial portfolio should include bad investments just because they're on the market". Building new nuclear power stations in Britain would be a political decision, not a scientific one.

So what has happened to the man who once bravely did battle with the new Inquisition? A memo sent by Blair's private secretary, Ivan Rogers, a month after King's article was published in Science, instructed him to stop criticising the Bush administration on the grounds that it "does not help us achieve our wider policy aims". Mock interviews King conducted with his political minders, which were found by a journalist on a disk dropped by his press secretary, show him learning to recite the government's line. Could he have had his arm twisted over the nuclear issue too?

I hope not, and I hope he can produce some robust figures to support his contentions. But I fear that the government's chief scientist is mutating into its chief spin doctor.

Sensible regulation, disposal would revive nuclear power

News Sentinel | 10/28/2005 | Sensible regulation, disposal would revive nuclear power

I spent six years as a reactor operator on a nuclear submarine in the U.S. Navy. I spent another two years as an equipment operator in a civilian nuclear power plant in Nebraska.

I strongly believe that nuclear power is a good source of energy and is safe. The nuclear power industry has been nearly destroyed by the United States government and its excessive regulation. The regulations are so oppressive that I decided to make a career change in 1998. I do not think we will ever complete a new nuclear power plant in the United States.

The government has undermined nuclear power in two ways:

The first way is through excessive regulation. The plant where I worked, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station, is a perfect example. In 1978, before Three Mile Island, the plant employed about 80 people, mostly equipment operators and security guards. The plant was operated safely and efficiently.

Today, that same plant employs about 550 people. The plant makes the same amount of power today that it did in 1978; it just costs a lot more to produce it. The plant hired about 470 people just to comply with government regulations after Three Mile Island.

The second problem is dealing with nuclear waste in the form of spent fuel rods. These fuel rods are radioactive and must be safely disposed of. The U.S. government decided to tax all consumers of nuclear power in the country and collect enough money so the government could build a disposal facility.

The Nuclear Waste Fund was created in 1982. One-tenth of a cent was charged for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced at nuclear power plants. By 1992, the government collected enough tax revenue to build a state-of-the-art disposal facility. Eventually, due to pressure from the utility industry, the government agreed to build the facility by Jan. 31, 1998, at Yucca Mountain.

Yucca Mountain was not completed in 1998. Approximately 60 lawsuits were filed by the utility industry and various states against the federal government for breach of contract. It is estimated these lawsuits could cost the federal government – that is, taxpayers – as much as $50 billion.

In 2001, the Department of Energy completed a cost study and determined it would cost $4.5 billion to build the Yucca Mountain facility. Today, the Nuclear Waste Fund has almost $16 billion. The nuclear waste disposal facility at Yucca Mountain is nowhere near completion; in fact, Department of Energy officials now openly question whether the facility will be completed by 2010, 12 years after the promised completion date.

Since the disposal facility is not operational, nuclear power plants have been forced to store their own spent fuel rods at their own cost.

President Bush wants to spur the growth of nuclear power plants. I am all for nuclear power, but Bush’s proposal makes no sense. It will waste billions of dollars. The new energy bill provides almost $6.5 billion in subsidies and direct spending to nuclear power generation companies to convince them to build new nuclear power plants. This is absurd. I would suggest the Department of Energy finish Yucca Mountain before it gets involved in building new nuclear power plants.

If we want new plants to be constructed, we need to minimize government regulation. A new nuclear power plant has not been started since 1973 due to excessive government regulation. The free market, not the government, should dictate which power generation companies succeed and which ones fail.

Mike Sylvester is chairman of the Libertarian Party of Allen County.

Basayev planned to attack the Kremlin and nuclear power plant with planes?

Basayev planned to attack the Kremlin and nuclear power plant with planes? - Russian News - REGNUM

Russian Interior Ministry calls “fantastic” the version, that militants attacked the Nalchik airport to capture the planes and use them to conduct terror acts on important objectives through all Russia, similar to events of 9/11 2001 in the United States. “The airport takeover was not the main task of the attackers. According to the chronicle of the attack, the militants needed weapons, as it was last year during the attack on the Drug Control Department in Nalchik,” said Head of South Federal Region Department of Internal Ministry Lieutenant General Mikhail Pankov, informs ITAR-TASS.

American think-tank Stratfor, that is connected with the American intelligence, published a report, according to which Russian law enforcement agencies prevented a large-scale terror act by repelling the attack on Nalchik. According to Stratfor, the full scale attack on Nalchik using 700 militants and supporters form the town was needed to capture at least five large civil airplanes, that later would have been used to attack governmental buildings in Moscow (the Kremlin or the White House, where the Russian government sits), Balakovskaya nuclear power plant, a railroad junction in Rostov-na-Donu and one of hydroelectric power stations on the Volga River.

Shamil Basayev, who took responsibility for the attack on Nalchik said, that airport takeover was planned, but has been spoiled by the Russian intelligence that had received information through a leakage.

Russia to commission three nuclear power plant units by 2010

YEKATERINBURG-ASTANA, October 28. KAZINFORM. - Three power plant units with the total capacity of 3,000 megawatt will be commissioned in Russia by 2010, Chairman of the State Duma Energy, Transport and Communications Committee Valery Yazev said at a Friday seminar on legislative regulation of the fuel and energy industry.

He said the second unit of the Rostov nuclear power plant would be commissioned in 2008, and the fourth unit of the Kalinin nuclear power plant and the fifth unit of the Balakovo nuclear power plant would be commissioned in 2010, Kazinform quotes Itar-Tass.

“The service life of six large units of Russian nuclear power plants would expire by that time,” Yazev said. “The Federal Atomic Energy Agency decided to delay the commissioning of the fifth unit of the Kursk nuclear power plant from 2007 to 2014 although the unit is ready at more than 70%. The construction and commissioning of power plant units, especially at nuclear power plants, is lagging behind the growing needs of the Russian economy,” he said.

“The construction of a fast neutron reactor with a closed fuel cycle and a possibility to dispose war-grade plutonium, a BN-800 unit of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant, is a priority that requires governmental support,” he said. “The design of a new generation of fast neutron reactors will make it possible to use natural uranium, war-grade plutonium and spent nuclear fuel,” he said.

The Beloyarsk nuclear power plant’s third unit has the world’s only industrial fast neutron reactor, BN-600. Its service life will expire by 2010.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yucca Mountain repository to be simpler

Nuclear Engineering International: "Yucca Mountain repository to be simpler"

26 October 2005

The US Department of Energy’s (DoE's) Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) has instructed its managing contractor to devise a plan to operate the Yucca Mountain repository as a primarily 'clean' or non-contaminated facility.

The direction for the change in design, outlined in a letter to Bechtel SAIC, will see most spent nuclear fuel sent to the repository in a standardised canister that would not require repetitive handling of fuel prior to disposal, the DoE said.

Previous plans called for shipping spent fuel assemblies in various types of canisters to the repository where workers would handle 70,000 tonnes of spent fuel up to four separate times per fuel assembly.

The improved design is intended to simplify fuel handling and the construction of the repository, while easing complexities of Yucca Mountain’s post-construction operations.

Switching to a clean facility frees the project from having to construct several spent fuel handling facilities and reduces the potential hazards caused by the oxidation of bare spent nuclear fuel during handling.

Yucca Mountain repository to be simpler

France in nuclear sell-off U-turn

BBC NEWS | Business | France in nuclear sell-off U-turn

The French government has cancelled plans to part-privatise nuclear power group Areva, claiming strategic and safety concerns for its U-turn.
The announcement by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin comes as privatisation plans continue for other state firms.

He said ongoing state control of Areva would ensure the necessary assurances.

Shares in Areva were due to be issued next year, with the sale set to raise up to 3.6bn euros ($4.4bn; £2.4bn).

State guarantees

Areva is the world's largest maker of nuclear power stations, operating all France's plants and other facilities around the globe.

Plans to part-privatise the business were first announced back in February.

"In a sector as strategic as the supply of fissile matter, enrichment and the treatment of nuclear waste, state control must supply the guarantees which are necessary to our citizens and our foreign clients," said Mr Villepin.

"You will understand that under these conditions, the opening of Areva's capital is not part of my government's agenda."

The French government is continuing with other part-privatisation plans, despite strong opposition from unions and workers.

On Friday a 15% stake is being sold in Electricite de France, and 22% of stock in Gaz de France was floated back in the summer.

Mr Villepin has also repeated plans to sell a majority stake in France's toll-road motorway operators.

"There still is a willingness by the government to go ahead with privatisations, but the issue has proved to be politically difficult, with trade union opposition," said Christian Parisot, an economist at Paris financial brokerage Aurel Leven.

French nuclear power company Areva

Stock Market News and Investment Information |

PARIS, Oct 27 (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Thursday shelved plans to partially privatise state-owned Areva (CEPFi.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), the world's largest maker of nuclear reactors.
Following are some key facts about the group.

* Areva was formed in 2001 from French state entities CEA-Industrie, Cogema, Framatome-ANP and FCI, taking its name from an abbey in northern Spain.

* Areva has annual sales of 11.1 billion euros ($13.4 billion) and over 70,000 staff in more than 100 countries.

It makes equipment for nuclear power generation, transmission and distribution and connectors linking electrical cables and equipment.

Its main rivals are British state-owned BNFL, the owner of U.S. nuclear plant builder Westinghouse, and General Electric Co. (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

* Areva management is headed by Anne Lauvergeon, a former aide to Socialist President Francois Mitterrand.

* The state owns 5.2 percent directly and other public entities hold 88.2 percent. The government had planned to raise some 3.6 billion euros by floating 30 to 40 percent of the company in 2006.

* Germany's Siemens (SIEGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) has a 34 percent stake in Areva's nuclear power reactor building unit Framatome-ANP. French engineering group Alstom (ALSO.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) was also closely eyeing a possible flotation of Areva as a renewal of France's nuclear power stations approaches.

Media reported that construction group Bouygues (BOUY.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) was also interested in a tie-up.

Bankers have said cash-rich oil firm Total (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) might have been interested as a way of diversifying into other energy sources.

* About 5 percent of Areva's capital is held by investors via investment certificates. The certificates, which carry the right to a dividend but no voting rights, were down 1.2 percent at 396.4 euros shortly after Villepin's announcement.

* Areva had first-half 2005 sales of 5.4 billion euros and net income of 301 million, with free cash flow of 535 million and net debt of 416 million. Third-quarter sales are due on Oct. 28.

For more on France's plan to scrap the privatisation of Areva, double-click on [ID:nL27641809]

German parties deadlocked on nuclear power -CDU

Reuters AlertNet - German parties deadlocked on nuclear power -CDU

27 Oct 2005 12:32:52 GMT

Source: Reuters

BERLIN, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Germany's potential ruling coalition parties are deadlocked over whether to extend the life of German nuclear power stations beyond an existing deadline in 2020, a conservative environmental expert said on Thursday.

Peter Paziorek, a senior Christian Democrat (CDU) official on the working group for reactor safety and environment, said talks between conservative parties and the Social Democrats (SPD) on the nuclear issue had ground to a halt.

"We haven't moved forward one bit," Paziorek told Reuters.

"Our positions lie very, very far apart from each other."

He said working group talks would resume next week.

The conservative CDU and centre-left SPD are attempting to build a "grand coalition" after neither party won enough support in a Sept. 18 general election to form a government with their preferred partners.

The CDU and their Christian Social Union (CSU) allies pledged during campaigning for the election to extend the life of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants for as long as possible.

But the SPD promised to adhere to a law of June 2000 -- pushed through with the help of their then-coalition partners the Greens -- and phase out atomic energy by 2020.

Officials have said neither party wants the nuclear issue to be a stumbling block in the coalition talks, expected to last until next month, and their negotiators have already discussed a plan to extend the power plants' life by nearly a decade.

But a number of Social Democrats have publicly attacked the idea of prolonging the life of nuclear power in Germany.

Michael Mueller, leader of the SPD's left wing in parliament, said there was no room for flexibility when it came to scrapping the energy source.

"It's incomprehensible that the SPD has needlessly complicated the negotiations with its public statements," Paziorek said.

While nuclear energy is a tricky issue, the parties have agreed to maintain the outgoing government's policy of pursuing renewable energy from sources like wind, party sources said.

"There is unity on this issue among the partners," a party source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

Nuclear power, which became extremely unpopular in Europe after the 1986 Chernobyl accident, has been making a comeback in recent years. One of the reasons for its return to favour is the fact that nuclear reactors emit virtually no greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

UK manufacturers back new nuclear power

Nuclear Engineering International

26 October 2005

EEF, the UK manufacturers’ organisation has urged the government to back replacement nuclear build as part of a balanced sustainable long-term energy strategy for the UK.

The call comes with the release of a new report: Sustainable Energy – a Long Term Strategy for the UK which contains substantial modelling and analysis of the costs of various energy sources. The report sets out a wide- ranging future energy strategy for the UK to deliver secure, reliable and competitive low carbon energy. In particular, future policy should include a range of options which feature fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear power.

Large rises in prices, supply fears over the next two winters and rising carbon emissions urgently require a sustainable long-term energy strategy, says the EEF, without which UK competitiveness will be threatened.

EEF’s modelling of the cost of various energy sources shows that:

in a high gas and carbon cost scenario, nuclear power could be the most competitive form of energy supply;
the competitiveness of nuclear power is very sensitive to the rate of return required by those potentially financing the construction of new plants and that the government can have a significant influence on this;
the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is currently too immature to send a strong signal to investors about future carbon prices;
EEF therefore recommends the government:

address planning, licensing and liabilities issues that will make a substantial difference to the rate of return required by investors in nuclear power;
make a decision on the disposal of radioactive waste;
exempt nuclear power from the climate change levy
replace the current Renewables Obligation with a zero carbon obligation in 2015.
consider the use of long term power contracts with consortia of major energy consumers, or other forms of intervention which might assist the financing of large scale, low carbon power generation.
Commenting on the report, EEF director general, Martin Temple said: “Energy is now right at the top of the agenda and there is no time to lose in putting in place a long-term strategy that will provide a competitive, reliable and secure supply and generate significant reduction in emissions. Business values the benefits of a liberalised energy market and would strongly oppose the government underwriting the nuclear industry. However, in current circumstances, the market will provide little other than new gas plants which will not provide us with a secure energy supply or deliver lower emissions. The government must therefore take clear lead on this issue to create a secure environment which will encourage investment in future energy sources.”

India Trade deficit increases to 20.3 billion USD

The Hindu News Update Service

Mumbai, Oct. 25 (PTI): The demand of imports coupled with rising international crude oil prices has widened the overall trade deficit in the first half of the current fiscal to 20.3 billion US dollars from 11.9 billion USD a year ago, the Reserve Bank said today.

Imports rose by 33.1 per cent against increase of 37.3 per cent in the corresponding period last year due to demand emanating from the vibrant domestic industrial activity, the central bank said here in its mid-term review of the annual policy.

Exports during the first half of 2005-06 increased by 20.5 per cent in USD terms as compared with 30.8 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year, the RBI said.

Merchandise exports growth of the country surpassed that of most of the Asian countries during this period, it added.

Containers of depleted uranium may be corroding

WKYT 27 NEWSFIRST & WYMT Mountain News - Containers of depleted uranium may be corroding

PADUCAH, Ky. A report this morning says cylinders in which depleted uranium is stored at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant may be corroding.

The Courier-Journal has obtained a federal memo that says toxic gas was mistakenly left in the cylinders.

The memo says about 18-hundred cylinders at the plant had been used in the past to store phosgene, a chemical warfare gas.

The newspaper report says the memo was from the Department of Energy Inspector General's Office to nuclear facilities in Paducah, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Portsmouth, Ohio.

Experts have said a cylinder breached by corrosion could release hydrogen fluoride, a ground- hugging toxic gas. But the Energy Department says existing safeguards would protect Paducah's 12-hundred workers and people who live near the plant.

The plant is about ten miles west of Paducah.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

New (old) power options: Coal, nuclear

New (old) power options: Coal, nuclear - 2005-10-24 - Orlando Business Journal

Florida utilities feel pinch from rising fuel prices, surging population.
Jill Krueger
Staff Writer
Electrical power companies operating in Central Florida are discussing something they haven't considered seriously in 30 years: new nuclear power plants.

With natural gas and petroleum prices soaring and the supply of coal still abundant, utilities officials say they are exploring alternative fuels, including nuclear power, and new methods to run the mega-power plants they will need in the coming decades to keep pace with demand brought on by Florida's population explosion.

Consider: Progress Energy Florida is looking to add another nuclear plant in its southern service area and may locate it at its Crystal River nuclear facility. Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light is part of a group of utilities that wants to put a new nuclear power plant in the Southeast. And Orlando Utilities Commission intends to add a coal gasification unit, which turns coal into gas, at its Stanton Energy Plant in east Orange County.

"What you're doing is planning for the next base load plant ... and are looking at the history of fuel prices and what they are going to be," says Rick Kimble, spokesman for Raleigh, N.C.-based Progress Energy Inc., parent company of Progress Energy Florida.

But such alternatives as increased coal use or the return of nuclear power are stirring concerns among those who fear safety and environmental issues.

"I'm hearing concerns from residents regarding new coal-fired plants," says Holly Binns, field director for the Florida Public Interest Research Group, a Tallahassee-based environmental consumer advocacy group. But, she adds, "That's nothing compared to when they hear that they (utilities) want to build a new nuclear plant."

Alternative fuels, methods
Utility officials insist there's a great need to explore alternative fuels and power-generation methods, especially since oil and natural gas costs have risen sharply in recent years.

The price of crude oil shot up to $69.81 per barrel on Aug. 30, up from $28.98 a barrel on Aug. 30, 2002, and the highest since the early 1980s when adjusted for inflation, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

And the price that utilities pay for natural gas under a 12-month contract has risen from $3.33 per million British Thermal Units (BTUs) on Aug. 7, 2002, to $11.83 per million BTUs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

At the same time, Florida's population is projected to swell to 18.87 million by 2009, and utilities operating in Central Florida and other parts of the state say they are already planning to add new mega-plants to keep up with electric demand.

Further, industry officials say the state's power plants are aging. Some of them are 50 years old, Kimble points out.

Unfortunately, utility officials say the same fuel options that were available half a century ago -- oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy -- are what they now have to work with.

That's because in Florida, certain alternate power sources won't run the new mega-watt plants that will be required, utilities experts say. For instance, the state doesn't have enough wind power. And even though Florida is the Sunshine State, its cloud cover doesn't make solar power a cost-effective alternative, officials say.

"What are the alternatives?" asks Kevin Bloom, spokesman for the Florida Public Service Commission.

Looking to nuclear, coal
Utilities are leaning toward nuclear energy and coal because they don't have any other options, they say.

Progress Energy Florida, which serves 1.5 million state customers, wants to build a nuclear power plant somewhere within its Florida, North Carolina or South Carolina service area.

If a Florida site is selected, it would be the first nuclear reactor in the state since 1983 when FPL added to its plant on Hutchinson Island near Port St. Lucie.

"We have notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that we plan to submit an application for construction and an operating license of a nuclear power plant by 2008," Progress Energy's Kimble says.

"And we've also said that we will have a location and which type of reactor would power that nuclear plant identified by end of this calendar year."

At this point, he says, Progress Energy is considering Crystal River, where it already operates a nuclear plant.

FPL, with more than 4 million statewide customers, has two nuclear power plants in Florida and is participating in an effort to create new nuclear reactors in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Planning for new plants
"We are looking at trying to expand and further diversify our fuel supplies," says FPL spokesman Bill Swank.

Besides proposing new nuclear plants, utilities are exploring more efficient ways of powering coal plants and alternative fuel delivery methods.

For instance, Swank says FPL is considering adding a coal-fired plant in St. Lucie County. Kissimmee Utility Authority and 14 other city utilities that belong to the Florida Municipal Power Agency in Orlando plan to build a coal plant in Perry.

In addition, the Orlando Utilities Commission is looking to break ground on a $557 million coal gasification unit at the Stanton Energy Plant in east Orange County in 2007. The unit will convert coal to a synthetic gas that will burn like natural gas. The combined-cycle unit will be able to use either gas or coal.

Industry officials say many utilities are equipping their units to take more than one type of fuel so they can use whatever is less costly at the time.

OUC, which provides electric and water services to more than 196,000 customers in Orlando, is seeking a $235 million grant to help pay for it.

"When it's complete, it will be the most advanced coal-burning technology in the world," says OUC spokesman Grant Heston.

FPL, in the meantime, is looking at better ways of delivering liquified natural gas. Under a new process, natural gas is frozen and turned into a liquid that is more easily transportable, then re-gasified at the destination facility, says Swank, explaining that this makes it easier to import natural gas from other countries.

"FPL is not an R&D company," Swank says. "We really have to rely on what's happening in the industry."

Money, approval drawbacks
Nuclear and coal plants, however, raise significant safety and environmental concerns. Nuclear reactors require safety backup systems that must function properly to cool down the nuclear reactors in the event of an accident. Today, when safety equipment isn't functioning properly, which recently happened at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station outside of downtown Phoenix, Ariz., it is shut down and customers are left in the dark.

In addition, a utility must securely transport and properly store the spent fuel. And then there's the cost for a new nuclear plant -- tens of billions of dollars. On top of all this, getting a nuclear plant approved is hardly a snap.

At the federal level alone, the approval process takes a minimum of 2 1?2 years, explains Roger Hannah, public affairs officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which must make environmental, safety and financial antitrust reviews of each application for a new nuclear plant.

Coal, meanwhile, has drawbacks as well: Mainly, it requires costly scrubbers to reduce air emissions, says Binns with the Tallahassee consumer watchdog group. Further, she says, a byproduct of coal plants is mercury, which can kill fish in nearby bodies of water and cause learning disabilities in children.

Utility officials argue, though, that their goal is to make future power plants less vulnerable to fuel-price fluctuations, whether using a different fuel, or fuel-burning or delivery method.

"As we see the natural gas supply start to dwindle, we have to look at other alternatives," KUA spokesman Chris Gent says.

Binns' group believes other steps should be taken before Florida starts building a host of new power plants.

"The bottom line is that in Florida we shouldn't be building new coal and nuclear power plants until we've done everything feasible on energy efficiency and conservation programs," she says.

EPR and reactor security against airplane crash

Revue de presse (extraits)

Le Canard enchaîné - Mercredi 19 octobre 2005

Nucléaire: des hauts et débats

Le débat public sur la centrale EPR de Flamanville a explosé avant d'avoir commencé : atomique, non? (…) Certes, l'Assemblée nationale a déjà donné le feu vert à cette centrale EPR, prototype d'une nouvelle série qui essaimera dans toute la France, mais mieux vaut un débat qui ne sert à rien que pas de débat du tout, non?
Non, ont décidé jeudi dernier les écolos après avoir commencé par jouer le jeu : six associations (Greenpeace, les Amis de la Terre, France Nature Environnement, Agir pour l'environnement, Réseau Action Climat et Sortir du nucléaire) se sont retirées du débat. La raison ? Le 13 septembre dernier, le président de la commission annonce qu'il censure six lignes du " Cahier d'acteurs " (sic) qui devait être distribué au public. Le réseau Sortir du nucléaire y faisait état d'un texte classé confidentiel-défense laissant entendre que contre un crash suicide du type 11septembre aucune centrale, même EPR, ne tient le choc.

Libération - mercredi 19 octobre 2005

En France, le grand raout sur le réacteur EPR atomisé

Organiser un débat public sur le futur réacteur EPR relève d'un numéro d'équilibriste... ivre. La Commission particulière du débat public (CPDP), chargée de mettre en oeuvre ce débat, a annulé la séance d'ouverture prévue le 19 octobre à Cherbourg, et ajourné les rendez-vous suivants.
En effet, comment aborder avec le public des questions liées à la sécurité du futur réacteur quand les réponses relèvent du secret défense ? Impossible. (…)
Pleins de bonne volonté, les membres de la CPDP sont très gênés par la tournure prise par les choses, reconnaissant qu'il est extrêmement compliqué d'organiser un débat pluraliste sur le nucléaire.

L'Humanité - 20 octobre 2005

Est-il possible de débattre de façon sereine sur le nucléaire en France ? (…) la réponse est bel et bien négative. Lundi, sur son site Internet, la commission a ainsi annoncé, sans plus d’explications : « La réunion du 19 octobre est annulée. » Prévue à Cherbourg, lieu stratégique s’il en est puisque tout proche du site de Flamanville où doit être implanté le futur réacteur EPR, cette réunion devait constituer le coup d’envoi du débat national, dont le terme était fixé à février 2006. Mais depuis, le bel édifice construit pierre par pierre par les membres de la CNDP s’est effondré. (…)
Devant l’insistance du gouvernement à « respecter les délais d’organisation », le débat a donc officiellement démarré hier... par une réunion fantôme. Le premier vrai rendez-vous est désormais fixé au 3 novembre, à Lyon.

Le Monde - Samedi 22 octobre 2005

Le débat sur le futur réacteur nucléaire d’EDF s’ouvre dans la confusion

Débat ou pas, l’EPR se fera. Le projet est inscrit noir sur blanc dans la loi d’orientation sur l’énergie votée au Parlement en juin. Le numéro un italien de l’électricité, ENEL, doit participer à hauteur de 12,5 % au financement du projet. Dominique de Villepin estime qu'une partie de l’avenir et de l’indépendance énergétiques du pays repose sur le lancement du projet, qu’il souhaite très rapide.

Après la tête de série de Flamanville (Manche), normalement mise en service en 2012, EDF compte "remplacer la majorité des tranches nucléaires actuelles par l’EPR à un rythme pouvant atteindre de 1 à 1,5 tranche par an au-delà de 2020", précise le document de base publié à la veille de l’introduction en Bourse du groupe d’électricité. Un des plus gros chantiers industriels des décennies 2020 et 2030 : sur la base d’une tête de série à 3 milliards d’euros, puis des EPR de série à 2,2 milliards, le coût de remplacement des 58 réacteurs en service dans les 19 centrales nucléaires d’EDF atteindrait 130 milliards.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Industry seeks drive for atomic generators

Natural resources, oil news, mining news, Times Online

By Angela Jameson, Industrial Correspondent

BRITAIN’S main manufacturers’ group is urging the Government to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, as part of a balanced strategy for acceptable long-term low-cost energy in the UK.
Research conducted for the EEF has found that when gas prices are high — as they are now — nuclear power could be the cheapest way of providing energy for the country, and is less than half the cost of offshore wind farms.

The manufacturers want the Government to:

relax planning and licensing legislation for nuclear plants;
make a decision on the disposal of radioactive waste; and
replace the current renewables obligation with a zero carbon obligation in 2015
The EEF’s analysis that new nuclear plant can be built at a cost of just £32 per megawatt hour — compared with offshore wind farms at £71 per megawatt hour — when both gas prices and the penalty for carbon emissions are high, shows how attractive nuclear power, which emits no carbon, is becoming.

Nuclear power provides a fifth of the UK’s electricity. However, all but one of Britain’s 12 nuclear power stations will be closed by 2023.

Tony Blair has called for an “open-minded” debate over the future of nuclear power in the UK and has said that a decision will be taken by next year.

However, the EEF has said that there is no time to lose because its members have been hit by a 50 to 80 per cent jump in wholesale power prices this summer and may have their supplies cut, to protect domestic users, over the next two winters.

Martin Temple, the director-general of the EEF, said: “The Government must take a clear lead on this issue to create a secure environment which will encourage investment in future energy sources.”

Mr Temple said that failing to put in place such a strategy would mean relying on new technology and energy efficiency, both of which had shown little sign of providing solutions to the problems of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and providing low-cost secure supplies.

The EEF’s report was not a call for subsidy of the nuclear industry, but a plea for government to encourage responsible private investment in the sector, Mr Temple said. “In current circumstances, the market will provide little other than new gas plants,” he said.

In a damning assessment of government energy policy, the EEF finds that the Government’s plan to rely on energy efficiency to cut carbon emissions has backfired, with households and the transport sector now using more energy than they used to. It also says that it is unrealistic to expect wind farms to provide a fifth of our future energy needs.

A Department of Trade and Industry spokeswoman said: “A review of energy policy is under way. There is no silver bullet to meeting our objectives. We will be examining the options for civil nuclear power, and whether and to what extent we should replace the exisiting generating stations.”

Chief scientist backs nuclear power revival

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Chief scientist backs nuclear power revival

PM's adviser calls for new generation of reactors
· Relying on renewable energy 'tough challenge'

David Adam, environment correspondent
Friday October 21, 2005
The Guardian

The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Monday October 24

The use of the phrase carbon tax in the interview with Sir David King, below, was misleading. Prof King was referring to carbon emissions trading, a scheme which already exists.

The government's chief scientific adviser has sent his clearest signal that Britain will need to revive its nuclear power industry in the face of a looming energy crisis and the threat of global warming. In an interview with the Guardian, Sir David King said there were economic as well as environmental reasons for a new generation of reactors.

He said nuclear power had "the safest record of all the power industries in the world". Professor King, who has previously said more nuclear power stations "may be necessary" to meet carbon dioxide emission targets, said the decline of North Sea oil and gas could tip the balance. "We need indigenous energy sources so we don't rely on imported gas from Russia. We're the last in the pipeline across Europe, so a second requirement is that we have a secure energy supply. Indigenous supplies include all renewables and nuclear."
Relying on renewable sources including wind, solar and wave power to replace lost capacity when existing nuclear power stations close would be a "remarkably tough challenge," he said. "At the moment 24% of energy on the grid comes from nuclear power; by 2020 that will be down to 4%. That gap of 20% is going to be very difficult to cover over the period 2010 to 2020 without new nuclear build."

More power stations burning coal and gas would give Britain little chance of meeting ambitious targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming. Generating electricity using the heat of nuclear reactors to turn water into steam to drive turbines does not produce carbon dioxide directly, though building and dismantling the plants and mining uranium fuel all do.

Prof King, one of Tony Blair's most trusted advisers, said the public debate on nuclear power needed to focus on the environmental benefits. "It's important we do take the public with us on the environmental debate. That is why I'm trying to sell it - it's precisely because of the emissions."

He added that the possible introduction of carbon taxes would make nuclear power a cheaper option than coal. "People are concerned about nuclear energy in terms of its expense, but if we had just €23 [£15.50p] per tonne on carbon dioxide then you already switch the economic argument in favour of nuclear."

His remarks come in the build-up to international talks in Montreal on how to address the threat of climate change when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. He denied suggestions - sparked by comments from Mr Blair that he was changing his mind on whether international treaties were the best way to tackle global warming - that Britain was moving closer to the stance of the US, which has refused to back Kyoto-style emission reductions.

"The British government's position is that we believe emissions trading is absolutely vital. We believe that capping processes are vital and we believe that declared objectives for 2010, 2020 etc are necessary," said Prof King. He criticised a partnership between the US, Australia and several Asian countries that relies on developing new technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Monday, October 17, 2005

BBC NEWS: Is nuclear power the answer?

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Analysis: Is nuclear power the answer?

With Prime Minister Tony Blair calling for an "open-minded" debate on the future of nuclear power in the UK, the BBC's Alex Kirby explores the pros and cons of atomic energy.

Nuclear power looks as if it should be the answer to all our energy conundrums, and perhaps even to climate change.
It provides a steady stream of energy, and does not depend on hydrocarbon supplies from unstable regimes.

It is the nearest thing we have to a non-polluting energy source, apart from natural renewables.

But it still engenders massive distrust, so much that many people say it can never be part of the way to avoid a disastrously warming world.

Supplies of cheap domestic gas are running low
Oil and gas prices have risen dramatically
Government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2010
Nuclear generates 20% of the UK's electricity
All but one of UK's nuclear power stations are set to close by 2023 and no more are planned

Nuclear energy has always had its proponents, their ranks swollen now by people who dislike the technology but believe it may be essential.
They point out that a reactor emits virtually no carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas released from human activities (though of course building the power station produces a lot of CO2).

They say nuclear power is safe, and that the 1957 Windscale fire in the UK, Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, and even Chernobyl have killed massively fewer people than the oil and coal industries.

'More economic'

Beyond that, they say modern reactors are inherently far safer than those built 20 or 30 years ago, reducing a small risk still further.

Supporters say uranium prices have remained steady for decades, meaning nuclear energy is far more secure than fossil fuels can ever be.
And they argue that modern nuclear power systems are far more economic than the older versions, and are therefore a good investment.

And yet their opponents insist that, if nuclear power really is the answer, then we must be asking the wrong question.

Terror fears

There is an inevitable link between civil and military atoms, they retort. If we say we need them to stave off climate change, then so can countries like Iran and North Korea - and there is no impermeable barrier between electricity and bombs.

In his 2005 party conference speech, Prime Minister Tony Blair promised an energy review in 2006
He said "assessment of all options, including civil nuclear power" was necessary
Trade Secretary Alan Johnson has said a decision on new nuclear power stations must be made "pretty soon"
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was set up in April 2005 to take responsibility for all UK decommissioning
The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), set up to recommend options for waste disposal, is due to report in 200

They say nuclear energy is economic only under a very restricted analysis - by the time you have factored in the costs of construction, insurance, waste disposal and decommissioning, you need huge subsidies.
And, opponents ask, what happens to the waste? The only answer we have come up with so far entails storing the most radioactive waste under guard for millennia, until it has decayed to safe levels.

Certainly nuclear power would provide energy to a centralised supply system. But it would do nothing directly to reduce CO2 from transport, unless it made the advent of the hydrogen economy likelier.

Also, given the long planning and construction lead times, it would be a good decade or so before we saw any new power stations, even if we decided to go ahead today.

I once heard from a British environment secretary, Chris (now Lord) Patten, a telling definition of the problem. "Nuclear power? To most people, it's witchcraft," he told his hearers.
Most of us worry far more about something that we see as very unlikely but grotesquely horrible than we do about what we perceive as far likelier but much more mundane.

We have a horror of dying in an air crash, but not of driving to the airport along far more dangerous roads.

We fear radioactive death, but cock an insouciant snook at the risk of dying painfully from the effects of smoking, or obesity, or alcohol.

To that degree, our distrust of nuclear energy may be partly irrational. In other ways, though, it makes very good sense.

Consumer demand

Getting rid of civil reactors would not remove the risk of a nuclear war breaking out, but it would reduce it.

Beyond that, the nuclear industry (at least in the UK) has often been cavalier with the truth.

One Conservative Minister said 15 years ago: "It is depressing to stand up in the House of Commons and broadcast explicit assurances from our nuclear 'experts' one day, only to find them discredited the next."
A veteran of the nuclear industry wrote this: "What the industry needs to regain the support of the British public is... something akin to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"It needs to be admitted that governments and industry lied to the public about the links with the military programme" (Nuclear Europe Worldscan, 1998).

The signs are that the captains of today's industry are different and far more open. But the distrust persists.

Two sets of figures crystallise the dilemma. The UK's nuclear power stations produce about 20% of the country's electricity, and by 2023 all are due to have closed. But by 2030 it is estimated world CO2 emissions will be 62% higher than today, as global demand for energy grows.

By mid-century we could be on the verge of producing power from nuclear fusion, a radically different technology.

Getting from here to there is the tricky bit. We are understandably terrified of nuclear meltdown, but far fewer of us yet fear the prospect of planetary overheating as we should.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

New nuclear power stations are the only option say scientists

Tribune 14 Ooctober 2005 : Chris McLaughlin

Britain's leading academic experts have given the Government a “scientific warranty” to go ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The move will provide crucial underpinning of the expected decision to fill the looming energy gap with the nuclear option rather than renewable energy supplies.

It is the first time Britain’s foremost scientists, including physicists, environmentalists, geologists, chemists and climatologists, have produced a collective view on the energy crisis.

In early November they are expected to publish a call for the Government to adopt nuclear energy to avert energy shortages in the next decade.

The consensus among the scientists, who met in conference in London this week organised by the Geological Society, is that the nuclear option is the only way to avoid catastrophic “black outs” and rationing.

They will argue that investment in renewable alternatives must be stepped up, but that wind, wave and other options will not be a feasibly sufficient supplier for 30-40 years.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Nobel Prize Slaps Bush Nuke Policy

Nobel Prize Slaps Bush Nuke Policy - Empire? - Global Policy Forum

By Marjorie Cohn*
October 11, 2005
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The award was a slap at George W. Bush, who had pressed for ElBaradei's removal just months before. It was also a blow to Bush's policies of dealing with nuclear issues unilaterally, and the US focus on non-proliferation to the exclusion of disarmament - both of which are required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Bush administration tried to engineer the ouster of ElBaradei after the IAEA chief refused to endorse Bush's claims that Saddam Hussein had restarted Iraq's nuclear weapons program. The US also perceived ElBaradei as too soft on Iran, a charter member of Bush's axis-of-evil. A month before George W. Bush invaded Iraq, ElBaradei told the United Nations, "We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq." John Bolton, then Undersecretary of State for Disarmament, now United States ambassador to the UN, responded that ElBaradei's statement was "impossible to believe." Dick Cheney said, "I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong."

But it turned out that ElBaradei was right about the absence of nukes in Iraq, and his refutation of Bush's allegation that Iraq had bought tons of enriched uranium from Niger has also been corroborated.

A few days before Bush launched "Operation Iraqi Freedom," ElBaradei revealed that the US had relied on fabricated documents to support its Niger claim. This revelation raised the ire of Bush, who had included the false Niger assertion in his state of the union address in order to whip up support for his impending illegal invasion of Iraq.

In the run-up to the war, ElBaradei said, "No, we are not finding any evidence of weapons of mass destruction." He added courageously, "No, we are not going to give the US the kind of report they wanted that would have served as a legal justification for war against Iraq."

ElBaradei is the first UN official to call for Israel to eliminate its secret nuclear weapons program. He advocated a nuclear-free Middle East, consistent with Security Council Resolution 687 that ended the Gulf War in 1991. In Article 14, the resolution spells out the need to create a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East. Ironically, this US-crafted resolution created enhanced powers for the IAEA and arms inspection verification. "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction," ElBaradei said, "yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security - and indeed continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use."

ElBaradei was likely referring to the hypocrisy of the United States, which continues to expand its nuclear arsenal and promulgate policies that would allow it to pre-emptively use its nukes, all the while setting its sights on countries like Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs. The Pentagon's March 15th "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" provides for the US to use nuclear weapons to counter potentially overwhelming conventional adversaries, to secure a rapid end of a war on US terms, or simply "to ensure success of US and multinational operations."

By standing up to the mighty United States, ElBaradei showed uncommon courage, leading the Nobel Committee to describe him as "an unfraid advocate of new measures to strengthen" the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The US and ElBaradei are squaring off again, this time over Iran. ElBaradei says there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. In an attempt to discredit him, the US eavesdropped on dozens of phone calls between ElBaradei and Iranian diplomats, according to the Washington Post.

But the United States' efforts to collect ammunition against ElBaradei were unsuccessful. When his re-election was put up for a vote, 34 of the IAEA countries voted for ElBaradei to continue as head of that organization. Only the US voted no. Although the IAEA recently passed a resolution that discusses the possibility of sending the issue of Iran's nuclear capacity to the Security Council, the Nobel Prize may embolden the IAEA to stand up to US pressure to refer Iran to the Council, according to Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

"The fact that the United States government doesn't like the government of Iran doesn't give them the right to impose their own version of what the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] requires and doesn't require," Bennis said on Democracy Now! The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, whose highly classified findings were disclosed by the Washington Post, reported the intelligence community's consensus judgment that Iran remains 6 to 10 years away from the threshold of nuclear weapons capability.

Dr. Vojin Joksimovich, a nuclear engineer in San Diego, told me that Iran is not violating the NPT by its civilian use of nuclear power. Although there is no right to enrich uranium to 90 percent or more, which would be weapons grade material, Iran is enriching to 3 to 5 percent for fuel for nuclear power plants, according to Joksimovich. Brazil, he said, is also enriching uranium using the centrifuge technique that Iran wants to use. But the US doesn't challenge Brazil; Bush seeks to build a case for war with Iran. In a dejá vu from the run-up to "Operation Iraqi Freedom," Bush began rattling the sabers against Iran in August. He declared on Israeli television that "all options are on the table" if Tehran does not comply with international demands.

Bush might think that attacking Iran would bolster the Republican Party's showing in the 2006 mid-term elections, by distracting attention from his failed Iraq war. Ironically, the Bush administration is supporting Iraq's Shiite government, which has close ties to Iran. ElBaradei said in August that the only way to resolve the situation with Iran "is through negotiation." German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder responded to Bush's threatening comments by saying, "Let's take the military option off the table. We have seen it doesn't work."

Russia agrees that diplomacy is the answer. A statement on the ministry's web site said, "We favor further dialogue and consider the use of force in Iran counter-productive and dangerous, something which can have grave and hardly predictable consequences ... We consider that problems concerning Iraq's nuclear activities should be solved through political and diplomatic means, on the basis of international law and Tehran's close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency." Bennis hopes the peace prize will encourage ElBaradei to call directly on the five nuclear powers (who also happen to be the veto-bearing members of the Security Council), and particularly the United States, to give up their nuclear arsenals, as required by the NPT.

Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, countries that don't have nuclear weapons agree not to acquire them, in exchange for the promise from nuclear states to progressively disarm. Disarmament and non-proliferation are two sides of the same coin or two contractual promises exchanged. Thus, when the Bush administration unilaterally decides not to disarm, but instead to develop and even contemplate using new nukes, it is in flagrant violation of the NPT. The US cannot "choose" non-proliferation over disarmament.

Tragically, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were omitted from the Outcome Document at last month's UN Summit that marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. It was the Bush administration that insisted on the omission.

About the Author: Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. She writes a weekly column for t r u t h o u t.