Friday, January 27, 2006

Russia/Former USSR:

Germany Hails Russian Plan For Iranian Uranium Enrichment
27 January 2006

A top German official on Thursday welcomed Iran's possible willingness to set up a joint venture with Russia on uranium enrichment as a way to defuse the crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme. "It looks as if a window of opportunity has been opened since yesterday," said Deputy German Foreign Minister Gernot Erler in a speech to parliament. Erler referred to comments by Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, who said Wednesday his country had a "positive" attitude to Russia's offer which is aimed at preventing Iran from setting up its own enriching facility.The IAEA will vote early next month on whether to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council where it could face the threat of sanctions. Erler and other German government and opposition politicians stressed Berlin did not want to consider a military option regarding Iran.

Source Reliability: 9.0

Comment: It is likely that the Russian plan for foreign enrichment of Iranian Uranium will be put into action in the next year, but not for any of the reasons that are being made public. For an Iranian regime which has been so completely critical of any foreign interference in their affairs, this is a very strange step. It is possible that some under-the-table deals are in process.

India/Pakistan:

US Says India Nuclear Deal May Depend On Iran Vote
25 January 2006

REUTERS (NEW DELHI) - The United States said on 25 January 2006 a nuclear cooperation deal with India may stall unless New Delhi votes against Iran next month at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) meeting. The IAEA meets on 02 February 2006 to discuss whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear program the West says is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. US ambassador to India, David Mulford, told the Press Trust of India news agency that if India decided not to vote against Iran, "the effect on members of the U.S. Congress with regard to the civil nuclear initiative will be devastating."

Source: Reliability: 8.0

India/Pakistan:

US Close To Nuclear Deal With India
27 January 2006

REUTERS (WASHINGTON) - The United States is close to reaching a nuclear cooperation deal with India and may clinch it before US President George W. Bush visits India in March, a senior U.S. official said 27 January 2006. Details of the India-US civilian nuclear deal are still in negotiations, including a plan to separate India's civil and military nuclear facilities. Also, the deal must gain acceptance from the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the U.S. Congress.

Source: Reliability: 8.0

India/Pakistan:

Pakistan: Russian Reactors Wanted
27 January 2006

STRATFOR (MOSCOW) – Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said in an interview with Russia’s Vremya Novostei newspaper published 27 January 2006 that Russia should sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan and invest in the Pakistani economy. Pakistan has a successful record of purchasing Mi-17 helicopters for military use from Russia and wants the cooperation between Pakistan and Russia to include the sale of Russian nuclear reactors for Pakistani power plants.

Source: Reliability: 8.0

Eastern Asia:

U.S. Democrats Urge Japan To Halt Plan To Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel
27 January 2006

JAPAN ECONOMIC NEWSWIRE (KYODO) - Six U.S. Democrats have urged Japan to suspend its plan to begin a test operation to extract plutonium at a nuclear-waste reprocessing facility in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture, Democratic congressional sources said January 27, 2005. The Democrats stated that the continued extraction of weapons usable plutonium poses significant threats to international security and nonproliferation. They are encouraging Japan to suspend plans to conduct active testing of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant. Tokyo said Japan firmly stands by its non-nuclear principles of not producing, not possessing and not allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into the country and follows domestic measures under the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The six Democratic lawmakers include Edward Markey from Massachusetts, who has expertise in energy policy and nuclear nonproliferation, and Donald Payne from New Jersey.

Source Reliability: 8.0

Eastern Asia:


Indonesia Says OPEC Should Maintain Output Due To Risks Over Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
26 January 2006

BUSINESS TIMES (JAKARTA) – Indonesian Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro stated that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) should maintain its current output levels as prices are likely to stay high over geopolitical concerns in Iran. Tehran has asked OPEC to cut oil production by 1 million barrels per day from April. Indonesia is the only Southeastern Asia member of OPEC and currently is a net importer of oil. OPEC is scheduled to meet next on January 31, 2006 in Vienna.

Source Reliability: 7.0

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Middle East:

China And Iran Warm To Russian Nuclear Proposal
26 January 2006

China and Iran expressed support on Thursday for a Russian proposal to resolve Tehran's standoff with Western governments, which suspect it of secretly planning to build a nuclear bomb. Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, on a one-day trip to Beijing to seek China's support, said the Russian proposal -- that Iran's uranium fuel enrichment take place on Russian soil rather than in Iran -- needed further discussion.
Tehran has previously shown little interest in the idea, intended to ensure it does not covertly divert enriched fuel towards a weapons program. It repeatedly insists it has no plans to build bombs but has the right to enrich uranium fuel on its territory for nuclear power generation. "The Russian suggestion is a useful one, but needs to be discussed further," Larijani told a Beijing news conference. He later told Reuters Iran was willing to show flexibility but rejected the "language of force", an apparent reference to the threat of U.N. sanctions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a news conference earlier that China wanted other countries to consider Moscow's proposal. "We think the Russian proposal is a good attempt to break this stalemate," he said. The Chinese, however, do not appear to support sending Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions. "We oppose impulsively using sanctions or threats of sanctions to solve problems," Kong said. The comments seemed to contradict the message China gave U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who left China on Wednesday after a three-day visit. Zoellick said Washington and Beijing had no major differences on the issue. Kong, the Chinese spokesman, declined to directly endorse that assessment.

Source Reliability: 8.0

**Pictured above: Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani**

Middle East:


Bush Backs Russian Nuclear Plan For Iran
26 January 2006

REUTERS (WASHINGTON) - President George W. Bush on Thursday backed a Russian proposal to resolve a nuclear stalemate with Tehran and said the United States supported democratic reformers in Iran. Washington and its European allies want Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, but Russia and China have urged caution. People ought to be allowed to have civilian nuclear power, Bush told a White House news conference. But he said he did not believe nations should allow "non-transparent regimes that threaten the security of the world" to gain the technology necessary to make an atomic weapon. Bush laid out conditions for an "acceptable alternative" for Iran. "That the material used to power the plant would be manufactured in Russia, delivered under IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors to Iran, to be used in that plant, the waste of which will be picked up by the Russians and returned to Russia."
"I think that is a good plan," he said. "The Russians came up with the idea and I support it."

Source Reliability: 8.0

Analysis: It is likely that the White House publicly announced its support for the Russian enrichment proposal for Iran because the success of other options is continually in doubt. First, the success of potential military strikes by the US or Israel is looking very bleak, due to the vast number of Iranian nuclear facilities that would have to be targeted. The potential success of the second option, sending Iran's nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council for sanctions, is fluctuating from day to day, as the support of the veto holders (namely Russia and China) continues to wax and wane.

Analytic Confidence: 8.5

Latin America:

Brazil Says Nuclear Program Is Peaceful
23 January 2006

AGENCIA BRASIL (BRAZIL) - According to Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) director Carlos Freire Moreira, Brazil’s first uranium enrichment factory (Pictured) in Resende, Rio de Janeiro, operated by INB, is exclusively industrial and commercial. The facility will supply fuel to Brazil’s two nuclear power plants. Moreira says Brazil is a signatory to nuclear non-proliferation treaties and the the Brazil-Argentina Nuclear Energy Application Agency (ABACC) will oversee operations at the Resende facility. He also says Brazil has a good relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Aquilino Serra, a researcher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, says competition in the field of uranium enrichment technology will be the only international concern relating to Resende. The Resende factory will enrich urnanium by 5%, the limit for industrial/commercial purposes. Serra said, "In order to make a bomb, you have to enrich to 95%."

Source Reliability: 7.0

Comment: Brazil's
two nuclear power plants are Angra I and Angra II.

Latin America:

Brazil Ready To Enrich Uranium
23 January 2006

AGENCIA BRASIL (BRAZIL) – Brazil’s first uranium enrichment facility, in Resende, Rio de Janeiro, begins operation at the end of January 2006. Operated by Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB), the factory will supply 60% of the enriched uranium needed by the country’s two nuclear power plants, Angra I and Angra II, between now and 2012 – supplying 100% of the country’s enriched uranium by 2015. The Brazilian Navy, supported by the National Institute of Nuclear Research (IPEN), developed the technology for the facilty, which cost $172 million to build. Operation at the Resende facility makes Brazil the ninth nation capable of enriching uranium on an industrial/commercial scale.

Source Reliability: 7.0

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Africa:

S. Africa Urges West To Seek Dialogue With Iran
18 January 2006

REUTERS(PRETORIA) Stating that without alternating, South Africa sees that the only option for the West in dealing with Iran is to continue dialogue. "We appeal to all parties to refrain from any action that could further increase tension and confrontation," the South African foreign ministry said. South Africa is a supporter of Iran in the IAEA and defends Iran’s right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Source Reliability: 9.0

Comment: That South Africa made a statement like this is nothing out of the ordinary, South Africa has been an outspoken defender of Iran in the IAEA over the past year, possibly relating to economic deals that have been cut between the two countries.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Eastern Europe/Balkans:


Bulgaria: Nuclear Plant Closure Paying For EU Membership
18 January 2006

SOFIA NEWS AGENCY (BULGARIA) - According to Bulgaria’s Energy and Economy Minister Rumen Ovcharov, the closing units 1 & 2 of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) and committing to the closure of units 3&4 is equivalent to paying an entry fee to join the European Union (EU). Bulgarian officials did not indicate this forced closure would affect Bulgaria’s willingness to become an EU member. In the meantime, Bulgaria is pursuing new projects involving the building of energy producing facilities at the Belene Nuclear Power Plant site and the modernization of its Maritza Iztok Thermal Power facilities.

Source Reliability: 8.0

Analysis: It is likely that Bulgaria will delay its EU accession scheduled for 2007. Bulgaria is hesitant to shut down Kozloduy, its only nuclear power plant. Bulgarian officials noted that initial EU negotiations did not provide funding for Kozloduy’s decommission, unlike the monetary assistance provided to Slovakia and Lithuania. Bulgaria may attempt to renegotiate Kozloduy’s closure deadlines.

Analytic Confidence: 6.5

Monday, January 23, 2006

Eastern Asia:

United States And South Korea Discuss North Korean Situation
23 January 2006

FINANCIAL TIMES (LONDON) – United States Treasury agents briefed South Korean officials on allegations of the North counterfeiting U.S. dollar bills as the U.S. continues to impose economic sanctions on North Korea. North Korea states that it will not return to the six-way nuclear talks until the U.S. lifts the sanctions. Both parties are adamant of their positions, showing little willingness to budge. South Korea is working hard to bring the countries back to the nuclear talks, stating that any meeting should show tangible progress, and not just meeting for the sake of meeting.

Source Reliability: 8.0