Iran Boasts of Further Nuclear Progress

Iran flaunted a new generation of centrifuges and mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle Wednesday as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, clad in a white lab coat, was on hand to load domestically made fuel rods into the core of a Tehran reactor.

Also announced was an intent to start production of yellowcake, a chemically treated form of uranium ore used for making enriched uranium. United Nations sanctions ban Iran from importing yellowcake. Domestic production would further Iran’s nuclear self-sufficiency.

In a speech outlining the latest developments, Ahmadinejad said Iran was willing to share its nuclear knowledge with other nations that subscribe to the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The U.S. State Department, however, dismissed Iran’s announcements as bluster for a domestic audience.

The first Iranian nuclear fuel rods, produced by Iranian scientists at the Natanz facility in central Iran, are to be used at the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, which Iran says is used primarily for medical purposes. The Tehran facility creates radio isotopes used for cancer treatment, Press TV reported, adding that 850,000 cancer patients were in dire need. Tehran’s latest activities have spiked tensions with Western powers, which believe Iran’s atomic ambitions are focused on building a bomb.

A November IAEA report found “credible” information that Tehran has carried out work toward nuclear weapons — including tests of possible bomb components. Iran called the November IAEA report a fabrication aimed at bolstering U.S. accusations that Iran is working toward making a bomb.

Source: CNN

Image: Sky News

Protesters Rage Against Restarting Japan’s Nuclear Plants

About 20 demonstrators carrying anti-nuclear signs disrupted the closed meeting of government agency representatives and energy officials who were there to review the stress-test results for two idled reactors and pave the way to bring the plants back online.

The meeting could be observed by the public from a television monitor in a separate room, something the demonstrators say symbolized the government’s intent to bring back two nuclear plants without public input. The panel, made up of Japanese nuclear experts, government members and professors, was eventually escorted out of the meeting room and assembled in another building.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear watchdog, presented a draft report at the meeting. It approves the stress test results from Kansai Electric Power Company, which owns the two reactors in question: No. 3 and No. 4 units at the Oi plant in Fukui prefecture, western Japan.

But an affirmative vote by the panel is just the first step in restarting the two plants. They won’t be brought back online until the Nuclear Safety Commission, another nuclear watchdog, reviews input from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Japanese experts. The government and people living in local communities will then decide on whether the plants should be brought back into full operation.

Japan began allowing nuclear reactors to fall idle across the country following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March last year, which was triggered by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Every 13 months, nuclear plants are taken off-line for maintenance. But in the wake of the disaster, those plants have not come back online.


Source: CNN

Image: Campus GH