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Zarif: U.S. must accept consequences if nuclear deal is ditched

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Thursday that Iran reserves the right to respond should the US, as a party to the 2015 nuclear deal, withdraw from the landmark agreement. Zarif compared Tehran’s full commitment to its side of the bargain to Washington’s breach of the deal, which is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Press TV reported. On 11 occasions, he said, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has implemented all its obligations under the JCPOA, but “the US has consistently violated the agreement especially by bullying others from doing business with Iran.” Zarif also slammed the European countries’ appeasement to US President Donald Trump as a deadline looms for Washington to announce whether it will continue suspending anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted under the nuclear accord.

“In the last year or so, we’ve been told that President Trump is unhappy with the deal and it now appears that the response from some Europeans has been to offer the United States more concessions from our pocket,” he said. “This appeasement entails promises of a new deal that would include matters we all decided to exclude at the outset of our negotiations, including Iran’s defensive capabilities and regional influence. But please understand on both issues, it is Iran, not the West, that has serious grievances and much to demand,” he added.

North Korea offers to give up nukes if US vows not to attack

in ASIA/POLITICS by

After making a very public promise to end his nuclear weapons program during his recent successful inter-Korean summit with the South Korean President Moon Jae In – now, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un is revealed to have said that his proclamation comes with certain conditions. A South Korean government spokesman has revealed that the North Korean leader told Moon Jae In when they met that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States would agree to formally end the Korean War and promise that it would not invade his country. Further, officials in Seoul also revealed that Kim Jong Un had also vowed to invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown of his the only known underground nuclear test site in North Korea, next month.

The announcement came as a faith-building gesture by the North Korean leader, ahead of a summit meeting with Trump. Further, the South Korean leader also spoke with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to relay Kim’s willingness to also open dialogue with Tokyo, which has also felt threatened by the North’s nuclear weapons and missile development. Young-chan added that North Korea’s promise to invite outsiders to Punggye-ri reflected “Mr. Kim’s determination to actively and pre-emptively deal with the process of verifying denuclearization.”

Mogherini: Keeping Iran nuclear deal in place vital for EU

in MIDLE EAST/POLITICS by

The European Union foreign policy chief said preserving Iran nuclear deal is vital for the European bloc. Federica Mogherini told reporters on Monday ahead of the bloc’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg. “On the Iran deal, we’re doing all we can to work with our American friends to make sure that all parties stay fully committed to the full implementation of the agreement,” Mogherini was quoted by European External Action Service (EEAS) as saying. “As it is the case so far as we know the last joint commission that we chaired was positive, everybody recognized that Iran is fully compliant with its nuclear commitments as has been confirmed by the IAEA for 11 times,” she said.

“Let me add that preserving the agency credibility is crucial especially in a time when we enter maybe hopefully, some interesting discussions with DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. So work is ongoing and we believe it would be essential to stay united in this,” she noted. The top EU diplomat continued, “Let me also add the Europeans have always made it clear for us that keeping the agreement in place is vital. It is a strategic interest for the EU and we will stick to it.” On the sanctions, the top official said, “I do not foresee any decision to be taken today on this. As you know, we have already sanctions in place on Iran – non-nuclear related. I do not expect [foreign] ministers to take decision on this today.”

PH assumes chairmanship of ASEAN’s nuclear program

in PHILIPPINES by

Being the representative of the country, Philippine Energy Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos has been elected recently in Malaysia as chairman of the Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN) under the auspices of the ASEAN Energy Cooperation. Marcos explained that the strategic thrusts of the NEC-SSN shall include “building capabilities in policy, technology and regulatory aspects of nuclear energy as an option for the future in the ASEAN region” and “the Philippines will lead the implementation of NEC-SSN’s work program for 2018-2019.” The Philippines is among the countries in the region keenly advancing its “nuclear renaissance” aspiration, not just with the planned re-powering of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) but even with the deployment of new nuclear technologies, including the floating modular nuclear facilities that are ideal for off-grid areas. The country is currently at its nuclear policy fine-tuning phase, and the next step as previously indicated by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi shall be to present the national roadmap to President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Erdogan, Putin Turkey’s first nuclear plant

in ENERGY/turkey by

During a ceremony in the capital Ankara on April 3, Turkey and Russia launched construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in the province of Mersin. Erdoğan said that the Akkuyu plant will become the 56th nuclear plant under construction in the world and the first reactor of the Akkuyu plant will put into operation in 2023. Erdogan added that the relationship with Russia is very important, referring to an agreement for Ankara to purchase long-range S-400 missile defense systems from Russia and the Turkstream natural gas pipeline project to transport Russian gas. Putin said that they are founding Turkey’s nuclear sector and they aim to produce the first energy unit in 2023, on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. He added that the nuclear plant will supply 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity demand. The plant will have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts in four units and a working life of 8,000 hours per year. In the first phase of the construction, two units with a capacity of 2,400 megawatts are planned. 

Turkey’s TAEK atomic energy authority on April 2 granted Russian builder Rosatom a construction license to start work on the first unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Turkey’s approval for Gazprom’s onshore portion of the TurkStream gas pipeline’s second line is still pending, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on April 3. All permissions for the offshore part have been received and it is under construction, he added. Akkuyu nuclear plant will be built by Russia’s Rosatom on the Mediterranean coast for a price tag of $20 billion. Rosatom holds a majority share in the plant with 51 percent, while 49 percent was originally planned to be divided between a Turkish consortium of three contracting conglomerates under the name Cengiz-Kolin-Kalyon (CKK), but Kolin and Kalyon decided to pull out of the project because of an inability to agree on commercial terms. Rosatom has said it is talking to Turkish state electricity producer EÜAŞ as a new shareholder in the project. 

Korea’s denuclearization, South Korea’s preparing for a summit next month

in FAR EAST by

South Korea is preparing for an inter-Korean summit next month on hopes for “progress” in developing its ties with North Korea and resolving the nuclear issue. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also suggested that the two Koreas may be able to hold more summits during the five-year term of President Moon Jae-in. “The government is preparing for the summit, hoping for better results in resolving the North Korea nuclear issue, along with an improvement in inter-Korean ties,” Cho told a forum with South Korean servicemen at the Gyeryongdae military complex in the country’s central South Chungcheong Province.

For North Korea’s denuclearization, Cho raised the need for a “comprehensive” strategy that includes the provision of a security guarantee for the North’s regime and the promotion of economic cooperation.

China needs more nuclear warheads to deter US threat, military says

in ASIA/TECHNOLOGY by

The Chinese military’s mouthpiece said China must expand its nuclear stockpile so it can better deter and hit back at an enemy strike as geopolitical uncertainties mount and the US appears bent on a nuclear build-up.
China had enough nuclear weapons to prevent “bullying” by other nuclear powers but still needed to respond to changes in US strategy. The commentary comes as the administration of US President Donald Trump is expected to unveil its new military weapons policy later this week.

Onodera, Perly call for pressure on North Korea

in ASIA/DEFENCE by

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, agreed Saturday to maximize pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile development. The ministers also confirmed at a meeting in Tokyo that their countries will cooperate to maintain maritime order and promote Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. Japan hopes to work to deepen its special partnership with France this year, including through mutual visits by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Abe, Kono said.

Saudi Arabia turn to nuclear power

in ENERGY/MIDLE EAST by

In the perspective of diversifying its energy supply, Saudi Arabia turns to nuclear power. The world’s top oil exporter wants nuclear power to eventually enable the kingdom to export more crude rather than burning it to generate electricity. It plans to build 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of around 16 reactors, surprisingly making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. By the month of April or May, Saudi Arabia plans to prequalify for bidding firms from two to three countries for the first nuclear plans. A joint venture between the Saudi government and the winning developers would be signed in 2019, after the shortlisting by the end of 2018. Commissioning of the first plant, which will have two reactors, is expected in 2027.

Trump is about to put his mark on the US nuclear arsenal

in AMERICAS/ENERGY/POLITICS by

The Pentagon is putting the finishing touches on the first comprehensive review of US nuclear forces in nearly eight years. It’s shaping up as President Donald Trump’s signature nuclear weapons initiative in the face of a growing North Korean nuclear threat. The review, which may allow Trump to put his mark on the nuclear inventory for decades to come, could lead to more than $1 trillion in spending over nearly 30 years. There have been three such reviews since the end of the Cold War, the most recent in 2010 under President Barack Obama.

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