Friday, February 03, 2006

Eastern Europe/Balkans:

Bids On Bulgaria's Belene Nuclear Plant
02 February 2006

SOFIA NEWS AGENCY (BULGARIA) - Russia's Atomstroiexport and the Czech company Skoda Alliance submitted bids for the design and construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene located on the Danube River. Bulgaria will announce the winning bidder for the 2 billion euro project in about six months. According to local press reports, however, no matter which company is selected, it will be controlled to some extent by Russian giant Gazprom who's bank recently acquired Skoda JS, which is part of the Skoda Alliance consortium. Gazprombank also owns 51% of the shares of Atomstroiexport, which will use the French company Framatome as a subcontractor. The new NPP project envisions the construction of two Russian-designed VVER reactors of 1,000 megawatts each, the same as those of Units 5 and 6 at the Kozloduy NPP in Bulgaria and at the Czech Temelin NPP.

Source: Reliability: 8.0

Comment: The Belene project was approved last April to offset the drop in electricity output after the shutdown of two 440-megawatt Soviet-era reactors at the Kozloduy in December 2006 and to help sustain Bulgaria's leading position on the regional power market. The project was started in 1986 and then suspended in 1991 due to financial problems and pressure from environmental groups. The first of the two reactors is expected to become operational by 2011; the second by 2013.

**Photo Source:**

Eastern Europe/Balkans:

Italy's Nuke Re-launch Targets Slovakia/France
31 January 2006

REUTERS (MILAN) – Italy's biggest utility, Enel, aims to spearhead a nuclear re-launch and is presently seeking possibilities to strengthen its nuclear experience abroad. Enel aims to build two nuclear blocks in Slovakia where it has sealed a deal to buy major power maker Slovenske Elektrarne. It has also struck a preliminary deal to take part in France's new nuclear reactor program. Italian energy experts advised that Italy needs political will and popular support to re-launch its nuclear power, banned nearly 20 years ago, and gain energy independence in the face of gas supply problems.

Souce: Reliability: 8.0

Analysis: It is unlikely Italy's nuclear program will re-launch in the near future due to lack of public/political support and the fact that it takes 10-15 years to start up new plants. Enel has an economic interest in an Italian 'Nuclear Rennaissance", but for now it will be marketing its unwanted expertise abroad.

Analytic Confidence: 7.0


India Will Have To Live With US Ambassador Mulford’s Statements About The US-India Civilian Nuclear Deal
03 February 2006

WEBINDIA (WASHINGTON) - Indians might be upset with US Ambassador David Mulford's linking of New Delhi's Iran vote with the Indo-US nuclear pact, but he was only articulating the official US position. Mulford's remarks led to allegations that he was trying to interfere in New Delhi's internal affairs. The Indian foreign ministry lodged a complaint, while some opposition parties demanded his recall. Ultimately, it is not Mulford's words but rather India's vote on Iran's nuclear program that is going to make or break the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation deal.

Source Reliability: 6.0

Analysis: It is likely India will vote with the United States in referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. India understands the immense importance of the US-India nuclear deal for their growing economy and will in the end do what is necessary to close the deal with the US.

Analytic Confidence: 8.0


Iran Threatens Full-Scale Enrichment Work, India Leaning To Support Referral
02 February 2006

ABCNEWS (VIENNA) - Iran threatened to retaliate 02 February 2006 in the face of almost certain referral to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei said the dispute was "reaching a critical phase." Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and a few other nations at odds with the United States remained opposed to referral. India is leaning toward supporting the US in the referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

Source Reliability: 8.0

Eastern Asia:

United States Considers Security Council Referral For North Korea
02 February 2006

MAIL AND GUARDIAN ONLINE (WASHINGTON) - North Korea's reluctance to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear weapons program has fuelled speculation the United States may seek to refer the Stalinist state, like Iran, to the United Nations Security Council. Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator to the six-party nuclear talks, indicated on Wednesday that Washington might consider other options if North Korea stayed away from the stalled negotiations. Hill also stated that a diplomatic solution is certainly the best solution, but may not be the only solution. Some interpret Hill’s remarks as a signal to North Korea that it could face the same pressure applied to Iran if it refuses to honor its pledge to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. South Korea has continued expressing its concern about the financial sanctions the U.S. placed on North Korea. The South has recently made progress with the North and has come to odds with the U.S. over the sanctions.

Source Reliability: 5.0

Analysis: The U.S. is likely using the current situation with Iran to pressure North Korea into reconsidering its unwillingness to cooperate with the rest of the world regarding its nuclear program. If the U.N. sanctions Iran, North Korea may be more willing to cooperate.

Middle East:

IAEA Delays Vote To Send Iran To Security Council
03 February 2006

REUTERS (VIENNA) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog deferred until Saturday a vote to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council over fears it is seeking atomic bombs, as the European Union lobbied developing nations to back the measure.
Diplomats said a clear majority on the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board favored notifying the council on Iran, but EU diplomats needed more time to persuade as many developing states as possible to vote yes rather than abstain.
Iran warned it would curb IAEA checks on its atomic sites if sent to the council, a threat that seemed to influence efforts by developing states to soften the EU-sponsored resolution.
EU diplomats said the threat would not deter their efforts to induce the Islamic Republic to change course.
The IAEA board held a crisis session on Thursday and had planned to reconvene on Friday, before the delay was announced. The board is now due to meet at 0900 GMT on Saturday.

Source Reliability: 8.5

*Pictured above: IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei briefs the media during a board of governors meeting in Vienna's U.N. headquarters, February 2, 2006. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Latin America:

Non-Aligned Nations Resist EU3 Over Iran
03 February 2006

MEHRNEWS.COM (IRAN) - Cuba, South Africa and Malaysia, forming the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) board (Pictured: NAM Logo), delayed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ meeting regarding Iran’s nuclear issue for two hours. NAM strongly disagreed with the European Union Three (EU3), comprised of Britain, Germany and France. over a draft resolution to report Iran to the United Nations (UN) Security Council. The five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany, seek a consensus in favor of the European Union (EU)-drafted resolution. However, Cuba and Venezuela said they will oppose moves to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. Though the IAEA traditionally achieves decisions by consensus, a vote will decide Iran’s referral to the UN Security Council if any country withholds consent.

Source Reliabilty: 7.0

Comment: The five permanent UN Security Council Members are: United States, China, Russian Federation and United Kingdom.

Russia/Former USSR:

Russia Proposes International Nuclear Center In Siberia
03 February 2006

XINHUANET (MOSCOW) -- An international center for uranium enrichment and the handling of fissile materials may be created in Siberia, the deputy chief of the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom said on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed setting up a global network of nuclear fuel cycle services including enrichment but said the network must be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency and be accessible on a non-discriminatory basis. "We have facilities in Siberia that may fit in well with all requirements for creating an international center responsible for keeping and recycling of spent fuel, uranium enrichment and production of fuel for the nuclear energy industry," Rosatom deputy chief Sergei Antipov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency.

Source Reliability: 8.0

Analysis: The proposed Russian international nuclear center is likely to be acceptable to the world at large and is likely to be built in the near future. President Putin's comments that the IAEA would have supervision and also that the center would provide civilian energy-level enrichment of uranium and not weapons-grade will assuage the fears of many and will be the key factor behind other nations accepting and helping the center's construction.


SA Will Pay For Backing Iran
30 January 2006

NEWS 24 (CAPETOWN) There is concern internally in South Africa about the open backing of Iran and its decision to pursue nuclear ambitions. Douglas Gibson, Member of Parilament from the Democratic Alliance in South Africa, said openly that SA support may cost his conuntry the support from major trading partners. This allienation of leading European Union countries and the United States will have implications regarding South African standing in the international order, as well as internally. As Gibson stated, "Without the support of these vitally important countries, there is little chance that South Africa will be able to achieve the level of economic growth that is critical to roll back unemployment."

Source: Reliability: 7.0

Comment: Through its connection to the Non-Aligned Movemtn, South Africa has thrown its lot with many Third World countries in support of Iran, notably Cuba and Venezuela. This is not a first for South Africa, in the past South African politicians have shown open support of other pariah states, including: Sudan, Libya, and Zimbabwe.