Saturday, February 11, 2006

Latin America:

Brazil Poised To Join Nuclear Elite
10 February 2006

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS (BRAZIL) - Brazil, Latin America's largest country, is weeks away from becoming the ninth country to produce large amounts of enriched uranium, which can be used to generate nuclear energy or to make nuclear weapons. The Resende plant will initially produce 60 percent of the nuclear fuel used by Brazil's two nuclear reactors. With a third reactor in the planning stages, the Brazilian government hopes to eventually produce enough nuclear fuel for all of Brazil's reactors and have excess for export. Brazilian energy officials said the Resende plant will make Brazil's nuclear program self-sufficient and allow the country to stay in the nuclear race with other world leading nations. Brazil needs more than 120 tons of enriched uranium a year, but Lawrence Scheinman, a former U.S. arms control official, said that need doesn't warrant an industrial facility of Resende's magnitude since global supplies of enriched uranium are running high. With Iran's controversial uranium enrichment program stirring international concern, some United States (U.S.) observers fear Brazil's Resende program will spur more countries to make nuclear fuel, thus increasing the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. However, Brazil is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has all 20 of its nuclear material facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and has worked closely with the IAEA during Resende's planning and construction contrary to Iran, also a NPT member, which hid their uranium enrichment work for 18 years and is a known state sponsor of terrorism. Originally planned for January 20, 2006, the Resende plant's inauguration was postponed due to construction delays. Brazil has the world's sixth largest deposit of uranium.

Source Reliability: 7.0

Comment: Brazil's two nuclear reactors are Angra I and Angra II with Angra III planned.

Analysis: With the most advanced nuclear program in Latin America, Brazil's will likely emerge as the region's dominant nation in the next two years with the addition of uranium enrichment at Resende.

Analytic Confidence: 8.0

Friday, February 10, 2006

Latin America:


Castro Invites Iranian President To Cuba
08 February 2006

IRANMANIA (LONDON) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Pictured: Right) accepted an invitation to visit Cuba from Cuban President Fidel Castro (Pictured: Left) in appreciation of Cuba's public support for Iran's controversial nuclear program. On Saturday, February 4, 2006, Cuba, along with Venezuela and Syria, voted against the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution referring Iran to the United Nations (UN) Security Council. The vote ended in a 27-3 decision in favor of reporting Iran the the UN Security Council. During his visit to Cuba, Ahmadinejad will attend the September 11-16, 2006, Non-Aligned Summit in Havana, Cuba.

Source Reliability: 7.0

Comment: Cuba, Iran and political ally Venezuela are all part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an international organization of 114 countries not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. NAM nations represent nearly two-thirds of UN membership.

Middle East:

Germans, Russian Aid Iran Arms Program
08 February 2006

REUTERS (BERLIN) - Two German businessmen, a former Russian military officer, and North Korea are among those helping Iran develop missiles that the West fears could one day carry nuclear warheads, diplomats and intelligence officials say.

Last month, two German men were formally charged with espionage by federal prosecutors and accused of "having sold a vibration testing facility in 2001 and 2002 on behalf of a foreign military intelligence procurement entity," according to a statement on the prosecutor's office website. A German official familiar with the case, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the case, said the country involved was Iran. The prosecutor's office did not reveal the names of the men or the German company they worked for.

Recently, US intelligence officials recovered information from a stolen laptop computer that suggests Iranian missile experts are trying to develop a missile re-entry vehicle capable of carrying a relatively small nuclear warhead, EU and US officials said.

A European and non-European intelligence official told Reuters that Russian middlemen were helping Iran get missile technology from North Korea that could bring central Europe within range of Iranian missiles. An EU diplomat, citing his country's intelligence, said Iran purchased 18 disassembled BM-25 mobile missiles with a range of around 2,500 km from North Korea.

One intelligence official said a former Russian military officer with the first name of Viktor helped Iran get Soviet-made SSN6 missile technology from Russia and North Korea, which Iran could use to improve the accuracy of its newly-bought BM-25s and increase their range to as much as 3,500 km. Iranian Shahab-3 missiles have a range of some 2,000 km. With a range of 3,500 km, the missiles could reach central Europe.

Source Reliability: 8.5

**Pictured above: Russian SS-N-6 SERB Medium-Range Ballistic Missile**

India/Pakistan:

Outside View: India And Nonproliferation
09 February 2006

UPI (PHILADELPHIA) - Nonproliferation advocates in Washington argue that recent U.S. efforts extending civilian nuclear cooperation with India would undercut global nonproliferation. One argument is that many states like Japan and Brazil either had nuclear bombs or the ability to make them but gave up that ability in return for the civilian nuclear cooperation guaranteed by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). If India now gets the same benefits outside the NPT and without being forced to give up its weapons, detractors argue, some of these countries could rethink their NPT commitments.

Another idea postulated against the US-Indian nuclear deal is that such an important deal with a NPT non-member would undermine the normative international nuclear set up. However, this argument is based on the wrong notion that the current NPT-based nuclear setup is totally rules-based without exceptions. In fact, the NPT-system by itself is defined by different treatment for different nations, largely based on global geopolitical concerns. For example, when Iraq was found to be in violation of its NPT pledge to not develop nuclear weapons following the first Gulf war in 1991, the world community came down hard on Baghdad with a tough sanctions regime. However, when China was clearly in violation of its NPT obligations when it was caught selling weapons related "ring magnets" to Pakistan in 1995, the U.S. buried the violation in order not to jeopardize the Clinton administration's efforts to forge better U.S.-China relations. Even recently, when investigations pertaining to the A.Q.Khan nuclear scandal revealed that China may have leaked a nuclear warhead design that was found in Libya, the Bush administration refused to bring China to account and went ahead with proposed nuclear reactor sales to China.

Source Reliability: 8.0

Middle East:

Annan Urges Iran To Maintain Nuke Freeze
09 February 2006

AP (UNITED NATIONS) – The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board voted on Saturday to send Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council, saying it lacked confidence in Tehran’s nuclear intentions and accused Iran of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Immediate action against Iran will not be taken, however, because Russia and China insisted that the US, Britain, France and Germany wait until March when the IAEA board meets to review the agency’s investigation of Iran’s nuclear program and compliance with board demands that it renounce uranium enrichment. The IAEA expects the report at the end of the month.

Iran also indicated that it is still interested in a Russian proposal to shift large-scale nuclear enrichment operations to Russian soil in an effort to allay suspicions. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Iran to “continue to freeze its activities…to allow talks to go forward, to allow them (the Iranians) to pursue the Russian offer, and to allow negotiations with the European three and the Russians to come back to the table.” High-level talks are scheduled to begin in Moscow on February 16. The proposal is backed by the United States and the EU as a way to provide additional oversight of Iran’s use of atomic fuel.

Meanwhile, US Ambassor to the UN John Bolton, the current Security Council president, sent a short letter to IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei on Wednesday acknowledging the receipt of the Iran file. Bolton’s letter, circulated Thursday, noted that the documents include steps required by Iran to ensure the international community it’s nuclear program is peaceful. ElBaradei’s letter said the steps include suspending all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, promptly ratifying the IAEA additional protocol which allows unannounced inspections, and reconsidering construction of a heavy water research reactor.

Source Reliability: 8.5

Russia/Former USSR

Putin Welcomes Uzbekistan Into Nuclear Alliance
08 February 2006

JOURNAL OF TURKISH WEEKLY (MOSCOW) Russia strengthened its commitment to atomic energy on Wednesday, as President Vladimir Putin welcomed Uzbekistan into an emerging nuclear alliance. Known to have extensive uranium-ore reserves, Uzbekistan will give Russia "additional long-term possibilities for the building of a stable nuclear fuel energy base," Putin said at the Eurasian Economic Community summit in St. Petersburg, Interfax reported. His comments came just two weeks after Putin met with his Kazakh and Ukrainian counterparts to forge a nuclear energy alliance that could follow Soviet-era lines. "Russia is firmly determined to widen its cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Community in the field of global energy safety. One of the priorities here -- the development of collaboration in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy," Putin said. Uzbekistan's entry brings the number of EEC members to six.

Source Reliability: 8.5

Comment: Russia is working very hard to set up nuclear cooperation in central Asia. The Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and now Uzbekistan are all on board in a partnership. The committment to nuclear power should lessen the countries' reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

India/Pakistan:

‘US N-Deal Will Affect India’s Development Of Warheads’
09 February 2006

INDIA MONITOR (NEW DELHI) - Former Indian national security advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra has said that the US-India civilian nuclear deal will affect India’s development of nuclear warheads, and has asked the government to re-negotiate the deal to protect its strategic interests. Also, Mishra stated that he was not opposed to a deal with the US or the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). “We must have some kind of deal with the US and the NSG. It is to our advantage. The problem with this deal is that it will affect our strategic nuclear program; that is, the development of our nuclear warheads”. He continued by saying the US wanted specific Indian facilities put under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, which would lead to “curbing our capacity to maintain a credible minimum deterrent, which was envisaged in our nuclear doctrine adopted two years ago”.

Source Reliability: 6.0

Eastern Asia:


North Korea And Japan End Talks But Agree To Continue Negotiations
09 February 2006

PEOPLE’S DAILY ONLINE (BEIJING) - The talks between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Japan ended in Beijing Wednesday but the two sides agreed to continue negotiations at a later date. No definite date or venue for the next round of talks has been suggested, but officials announced that the two countries agreed to settle differences through diplomatic channels. Song Il Ho, ambassador of the DPRK in charge of the DPRK-Japan talks, told the press in a Beijing hotel after a 30-minute meeting on Wednesday morning that the two sides had engaged in honest and open-minded discussions. He admitted that the DPRK and Japan had discovered large differences during the five days of talks. "We need to work on to narrow the differences," he said. At a press briefing at the Japanese embassy at noon, Japanese chief negotiator Koichi Haraguchi confirmed that the two sides had reached some agreement and that they would continue to hold similar talks. During the talks, Japan reiterated the need to resolve the abduction issue before improving diplomatic ties and providing economic assistance.

Source Reliability: 5.0

Comment: Some analysts consider this a productive meeting and state there is some potential for improved diplomatic relations between the two countries. There are still a number of issues to be addressed, but the meeting was a positive starting point.

*Map Source

Eastern Asia:

South Korea Seeks Free Trade Agreement With U.S.
10 February 2006

THE KOREAN TIMES (SEOUL) – South Korean Vice Finance Minister Kwon Tae-Shin stated that a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between South Korea and the U.S. would help ease concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. Last week, South Korea and the U.S. announced in Washington they will launch negotiations for a trade pact with the aim of concluding it in the first half of next year. South Korea also said the deal will bring the two allies politically and economically closer. Formal negotiations will begin in May, because the U.S. government is required to have three months of consultations with Congress before starting such talks.

Source Reliability: 6.0

Africa:

Koeberg Nuclear Plant Poses Power Problems For Namibia
07 February 2006

The Namibian(NAMIBIA) Namibia’s reliance on South Africa for its power is cause for concern in that country. Issues with the nuclear power station at Koeberg have knocked out power in the country at intervals for the last several months. Officials in Namibia have expressed concern over their country’s lack of independent energy production. Currently, the black outs are just an annoyance, but in the future will become a hindrance to development.

Source: Reliability: 8.0

Comment: South Africa is in the beginning stages of building a brand new, state of the art pebble bed nuclear reactor. Currently, they supply large amounts of power to Zimbabwe and Namibia, and the building of this new may be part of a bid to supply more of Southern Africa with power.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Eastern Europe/Balkans:

Slovenia Passes Radioactive Waste Management Program
06 February 2006

SLOVENE PRESS AGENCY (SLOVENIA) - The Slovenian Parliament passed a resolution on the national program for radioactive waste management and spent nuclear fuel for the period of 2006-2015 on 01 February 2006. The resolution outlines the probable scenarios of radioactive waste management and includes a proposal for technical measures. Slovenia's largest producer of radioactive waste is the country's sole N-plant Krsko (NEK). Its in-house waste management facility will reach its maximum capacity by 2010. The document describes a planned facility for storing low-medium level radioactive waste and spent fuel. The facility, built in Slovenia, will store Slovenia's share (50%) of waste produced by the NEK plant, co-owned by Croatia. Slovenian Parliament officials stated the document should define Slovenia's activity in great detail in case Croatia failed to accept its share of the waste by 2023, when NEK's life span runs out.

Source: Reliability: 8.0





Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Latin America:

Venezuela Advocates Destruction of Nukes But Supports Iran
06 February 2006

EL UNIVERSAL.COM (VENEZUELA) – On Monday, February 6, 2006, Venezuelan Foreign Integration minister Gustavo Marquez said Venezuela advocates full nuclear disarmament worldwide, preventing the construction of new nuclear weapons and the destruction of existing ones, though the Venezuela openly opposed Iran's referral the the United Nations (UN) Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Marquez said Venezuela opposes nuclear weapon production in all countries. However, Venezuela, accompanied by Cuba and Syria, voted against the IAEA resolution referring Iran to the UN Security Council on Saturday, February 4, 2006, arguing Tehran is conducting a non-military nuclear program – similar to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s plans for a Venezuelan nuclear program. Following the IAEA vote, Nicholas Burns, the United States (U.S.) Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, branded the governments of Caracas, Havana, and Damasco as "a gang of three." Marquez claimed Washington and its allies are trying to monopolize world nuclear energy production. He also claimed an IAEA report on "the peaceful use of nuclear energy" in Iran was not disclosed. Marquez said the report allegedly shows Iran does not have a nuclear program with military purposes. Marquez added that the U.S. "has said nothing" about nuclear weapons owned by Israel – saying the U.S. could have supported Israeli nuclear weapons development.

Source Reliabilty: 7.0

Comment: The Venezuelan government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has a long-standing reputation for animostiy toward the U.S.

Analysis: It is unlikely an IAEA report on Iran's "peaceful use of nuclear energy" was suppressed by the IAEA. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday, February 9, 2006, the IAEA had not finished the report on Iran, but would complete it by the end of February 2006.

Analytic Confidence: 8.0

* Image Source: IAEA & IRAN.