Russia to contribute $17 mln to Chernobyl cleanup

Russia to contribute $17 mln to Chernobyl cleanup

18:41 | 29/ 09/ 2008

VIENNA, September 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will provide $17 million to help improve safety at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster, and fully decommission it, a top Russian nuclear official said on Monday.

Three reactors of the Chernobyl plant continued to operate for several years after reactor number four exploded in 1986, the last reactor shutting down in 2000. The reactors still contain nuclear fuel rods, and require constant monitoring. The fourth reactor is housed in a Soviet-era sarcophagus set to be replaced by a $1.4 bln metal structure.

Speaking at an IAEA conference, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the state-run corporation Rosatom, said: “The Russian Federation intends to help Ukraine improve security at the site of the Chernobyl power plant, and speed up the start of work to decommission it. For these purposes we will contribute $17 million to the Nuclear Safety Account and the Chernobyl Shelter Fund.”

The Nuclear Safety Account was set up in 1993 to finance nuclear safety projects in central and eastern Europe. It is run by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as is the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, a project aimed at building the new sarcophagus over reactor number four.

The protective shell currently in place was built shortly after the disaster, and continues to leak radiation. The hurriedly built structure has been repaired on numerous occasions.

A nuclear waste storage facility is also to be built at the site, as well as a processing plant to manage nuclear fuel assemblies.

The Chernobyl Shelter Fund, which involves 28 countries, is aimed at protecting the personnel, population and environment from radioactive threat and preparing a stable and environmentally safe system to last 100 years.

The Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986 was caused by overheating following a disastrous experiment involving fuel rods, which was ironically aimed at improving safety.

While the initial Soviet cover-up was condemned by the West, it is almost certain that the authoritarian regime in place at the time, which sent hundreds of workers to their certain death in the operation to seal the damaged reactor, averted much greater loss of life using means that would have been inaccessible to an open, democratic society.

Estimates by international bodies as to the number of deaths caused by the Chernobyl accident vary dramatically. Fifty-six people were reported to have been killed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and another 4,000 died of thyroid cancer shortly afterwards.

The disaster is thought to have released at least 100 times more radiation than the atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in WWII.

Vast areas, mainly in the three then-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, were contaminated by the fallout of the Chernobyl explosion. More than 300,000 people were relocated. Around five million people still live in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine classified as “contaminated” by radioactive elements.

Findings issued in 2005 by the UN Chernobyl Forum – a consortium of UN agencies led by the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and UNDP – and subsequent studies confirmed that the majority of people in the affected regions have little to fear from radiation, but need better social and economic opportunities.


Anti-Palin Rally Calls for Colberg Removal

Anti-Palin Rally Calls for Colberg Removal

by Kyle Hopkins

A protest slamming Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of the state’s so-called Troopergate investigation — and calling for the attorney general to lose his job — drew more than 1,000 people to the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage on Saturday.

Erik Hill, ADN)]Participants hoist a variety of messages at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally along I Street Saturday September 27, 2008 on the Delaney Park Strip. (Photo: Erik Hill, ADN)

Protesters chanted “recall Palin!” as organizers told the crowd to push state legislators to keep after their investigation into the governor’s firing of her top cop.An investigator hired by the lawmakers is scheduled to present his report on Oct. 10.

“This report needs to be released. Not just for us … it needs to be released for all those people in the Lower 48 who are going to make a decision on Nov. 4,” Democratic blogger Linda Kellen Biegel told hundreds of protesters gathered on the Park Strip grass.

The McCain-Palin campaign dismissed the rally as nothing more than a partisan strike from Barack Obama loyalists.

The crowd lined I Street, waving signs that said “Steady on her heels, wobbly on her words” and “Dude, where’s my governor?” at passing cars. They dressed as Richard Nixon, or Hillary Clinton, or as Palin herself, holding a sign that said “hold me accountable.”

A group calling itself Alaskans for Truth organized the event, which at times resembled an Obama campaign rally.

Between speeches, Anchorage singer-songwriter Libby Roderick led the crowd in a chorus of “We’re gonna keep on moving forward” and “Stand tall for Obama.” Obama volunteers signed up supporters under a nearby tent.

“Clearly this was an Obama rally and nothing else,” Palin campaign spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said in an e-mailed statement. “The rally proves the point of partisanship which the Governor has been trying to remove from the investigation in an effort to get a fair and just result.”

Organizer Camille Conte, a radio host on left-leaning KUDO 1080 AM, said the event was about holding Palin to her word, and the pro-Obama message wasn’t supposed to be part of the rally.

“It was hard to stop that once it started, and the crowd seemed to want it,” she said.


Next to the political fliers sat petitions calling for the removal of Attorney General Talis Colberg.

On July 28, the Legislative Council — a bipartisan group of 12 state lawmakers — voted to launch an abuse-of-power investigation into Palin’s firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

Some Republican lawmakers have tried to get the Legislative Council, or the court, to delay the investigation until after the presidential election.

Rally organizers handed out talking points Saturday urging people to e-mail and call council members and tell them to stick with the probe.

Palin initially said she’d cooperate with the investigation. Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Palin as his running mate Aug. 29, and the McCain camp has argued that the investigation became a partisan witch hunt spurred by Democrats.

Colberg is suing to quash the Legislature’s subpoenas of Palin aides in what’s become a struggle between the state’s executive and legislative branches of government.


Nicole McCullough came to the rally with her grand-niece and grand-nephew — twins born the day before Palin’s youngest son, Trig. McCullough wore a pitbull mask with giant red lips, a reference to a Palin’s joke about hockey moms, pit bulls and lipstick at the Republican National Convention.

The twins held pit bull masks too.

A Hillary Clinton supporter earlier in the election, McCullough called Palin “a female Dan Quayle” and carried a sign that read: “Gov. Pitbull: call off your McCain dogs.”

It was a reference to the McCain spokespeople and attorneys, including the self-described “Truth Squad” who have been defending the governor in regular Anchorage press conferences.

The Outside lawyers are clogging Alaska’s legislative process, McCullough said.

The McCain camp says it’s the other side that’s making things political. For example, they say statements by Sen. Hollis French, who is overseeing the investigation and said the probe could end in impeachment, show Democrats are gunning for the governor.

The rally stretched past two hours, with a string of speeches from bloggers, the head of the troopers union and Monegan’s mom. Someone read a written statement from Democratic Anchorage Rep. Les Gara — which at one point ignited a chant of Obama’s campaign slogan, “Yes we can” — and calling for a “shout out” to French.

Like a similar rally two weeks earlier, the event gathered anti-Palin protesters from all corners. Some held signs saying “My body, my rights,” while others criticized her views on aerial wolf-hunting.

Unlike last time, no organized counter-protest appeared.

Call on Congress to protect Native sacred sites

Call on Congress to protect Native sacred sites

September 28, 2008 |

A group of Tribal Nations, Native Rights Organizations, and Social/Environmental Justice Allies have joined forces to address the US federal governments’ lack of cooperation and consultation when it comes to corporate development on Indigenous Territories.

“Corporate development of federal lands that overlap sacred Tribal ancestral lands not only further the desecration and destruction of sacred places and areas which Indigenous Peoples have traditionally used and safeguarded, but harm longstanding and positive Tribal social and cultural structures, increase threats to endangered and threatened species, and cause environmental destruction”, states Mark LeBeau, Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites. “The protection and preservation of sacred places are essential to the practice of Indigenous Peoples’ freedom of religions, a fundamental human right which is recognized by both federal and international law.”

Highlighting the Medicine Lake Highlands in California and the San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona, the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites — along with the Save the Peaks Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network, International Indian Treaty Council, Seventh Generation Fund, Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council, and Morning Star Institute — are focusing on the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee & Other Congressional Committees to immediately convene Hearings to protect these and hundreds of other threatened sacred sites.

The groups are also calling on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to investigate the federal governments’ non-compliance with its obligation to consult Tribal Nations and to assist in immediately remedying the problems.

To support the effort, the groups ask that you fax a brief letter to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee urging them to hold a hearing on these issues as soon as possible. The Committee fax number is 202-228-2589. Alternatively, you can send them an email at

For further information, contact: James Hayward, Redding Ranche ria/Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, 530-410-2875; Klee Benally, Save the Peaks Coalition,928-380-2629; Radley Davis, Pit River Nation/Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, 530-917-6064; Mark LeBeau, Pit River Nation/Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, 916-801-4422; Andrea Carmen, International Indian Treaty Council, 907-745-4482; Chris Peters, Seventh Generation Fund, 707-825-7640; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, 218-751-4967; Wounded Knee, Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council, 707-556-8776; Suzan Shown Harjo, Morning Star Institute, 202-547-5531

For Immediate Release: September 25, 2008

Tribal Nations, Native Rights Organizations, and Social/Environmental Justice Allies Call on Congress and Administration to Immediately Address Tribal Sacred Lands Protection

Senate Indian Affairs Committee & Other Congressional Committees Urged to Convene Hearings on Sacred Lands

Indian Country, USA — Tribal Nations, Native rights organizations, and social/environmental justice allies are calling on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee and other Congressional Committees to conduct hearings concerning federal land management practices that threaten or destroy Tribal sacred lands. The Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites, The Save the Peaks Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network, International Indian Treaty Council, Seventh Generation Fund, Vallejo Inter-Tribal Council, and Morning Star Institute have joined together to address the lack of federal government cooperation and consultation with Tribes in balancing destructive corporate development of Tribal ancestral lands and honoring Tribal rights and needs. The groups are also calling on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to investigate federal government non-compliance with Tribal consultation requirements and to assist in immediately remedying the problems.

“Corporate development of federal lands that overlap sacred Tribal ancestral lands not only further the desecration and destruction of sacred places and areas which Indigenous Peoples have traditionally used and safeguarded, but harm longstanding and positive Tribal social and cultural structures, increase threats to endangered and threatened species, and cause environmental destruction,” stated Mark LeBeau, Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites. “The protection and preservation of sacred places are essential to the practice of Indigenous Peoples’ freedom of religions, a fundamental human right which is recognized by both federal and international law.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007. This Declaration represents the dynamic development of international legal norms and sets an important standard for the treatment of Indigenous Peoples by states. It is a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet’s 370 million Indigenous Peoples and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalization. Article 12 of the Declaration affirms that “Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies and the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites.”

“Congress and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation must intervene where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal agencies have fallen short in their fiduciary responsibilities to federally-recognized Tribes, including working cooperatively and constructively with Tribes to resolve disputes,” said Radley Davis, Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites.

On July 11, 2008, more than 1,000 Native rights and environmental justice advocates arrived in Washington, DC after walking across the US to raise awareness about key issues affecting Native peoples and the environment. The successful journey, known as the Longest Walk 2, delivered a 30-page manifesto and list of demands to Congress, which included the protection of sacred places and climate change mitigation.

House Judiciary Chair, US Representative John Conyers (D-MI) promised representatives from the Longest Walk 2 that their issues would be addressed but set no timetable. “The Committee on the Judiciary will hold hearings on each one of these items that you have outlined here,” stated Rep. Conyers.

Tribal Nations and Native rights organizations are aware of hundreds of threatened sacred places throughout the US and are highlighting two critical threatened sacred places as evidence for immediate political action: The Medicine Lake Highlands located in California and the San Francisco Peaks located in Northern Arizona.

The Medicine Lake Highlands, northeast of Mt. Shasta, are sacred to the Pit River, Wintu, Karuk, Modoc, Shasta, and other Tribal nations. The Pit River people believe that the Creator and his son bathed in the lake after creating the earth, and then the Creator placed healing medicine in the lake. In the 1980s the BLM gave energy development leases in the Highlands to developers, without first conducting adequate environmental review and consulting any of the Tribes that would be affected by the projects. Developers such as Calpine Energy Corporation have used any tactic that money could buy to try to achieve their goal of building massive power plants in the sacred Highlands to harness geothermal energy, including activating teams of20lawyers, lobbying state and federal representatives, buying-off some adversaries, and information spinning.

“The developers are attempting to move ahead in spite of the fact that project-drilling in the Highlands would likely release dangerous chemicals, including arsenic, chromium, and hydrogen sulfide, into the surface and ground waters that Californians and all other living things in this region rely upon,” stated James Hayward, Co-Chair of the Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites. “This proposed project must be stopped and the US government must assist in this effort.”

In November 2006, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal agencies neglected their fiduciary responsibilities to the Pit River Nation by violating the National Environmental Protection and the National Historic Preservation Acts and that the agencies never took the requisite “hard look” at whether the Highlands should be developed for energy at all. As a result, the court rejected the extension of leases that would have allowed Calpine to build geothermal plants and ordered judgment in favor of Pit River. Now BLM and Calpine are at it again as they prepare to attempt to conduct geothermal resource exploration in the sacred Glass Mountain region of the Highlands. BLM contends that the ruling was not explicative enough and so it is moving forward with the exploration. The Advocates for the Protection of Sacred Sites strongly oppose BLM’s reinterpretation of the ruling and will stop the agency.

Louis Gustafson, Citizen of the Pit River Nation, says, “The government has agreements not to bomb holy mosques when they’re at war, but we have to go through all these hoops just to protect our holy place.”

Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks are recognized internationally as a sacred place. The Peaks are a unique ecological island and are held holy by more than 13 Native American Nations. Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort, located on the holy Peaks, is attempting to expand development, clear-cut acres of old growth trees, and make fake snow from treated sewage effluent, which has been proven to have harmful contaminants. The US Forest Service manages the San Francisco Peaks as public land and has faced multiple lawsuits by the Navajo Nation, Hopi, White Mountain Apache, Yavapai Apache, Hualapai, and Havasupai tribes, as well as the Sierra Club, Flagstaff Activist Network, Center of Biological Diversity, and others after it initially approved the proposed ski area development in 2005.

On August 8, 2008 the 9th Circuit of Appeals overturned a previous court ruling stopping the proposed development. The case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

“We have no guarantee for the protection for our religious freedom when it comes to government land use decisions,” stated Klee Benally of the Save the Peaks Coalition. “This case underscores the fact that we need legislative action to ensure protection for places held holy by Native American Tribes. Federal land management policies are inconsistent when addressing Native American religious practice relating to sacred places. From the San Francisco Peaks, Medicine Lake Highlands, Yucca Mountain, Bear Butte, Mt. Taylor, Mt. Graham and the hundreds of additional sacred places that are threatened or are currently being desecrated, we need consistent protective action now.”

“The corporate projects proposed in the Medicine Lake Highlands and on San Francisco Peaks must be stopped. Key federal lawmakers and administration officials must work more rigorously with Tribes to ensure adequate cooperation and consultation on proposed projects that overlap Tribal sacred lands,” stated Radley Davis. “Our call for hearings is a critical measure that must be taken seriously to ensure that balancing corporate and agency development of Tribal ancestral lands and the needs and rights of Indigenous Nations are honored.”

Please fax a brief letter to Senate Indian Affairs Committee urging that a hearing be held on these issues as soon as possible. The Committee fax number is 202-228-2589.

IMPACT: Nuclear waste piles up at hospitals

Waste is secured inside steel drums, encased in concrete vaults in an uncapped trench at Energy Solutions in Barnwell, S.C. Friday, Sept. 19, 2008. A South Carolina law that took effect July 1 ended nearly all disposal of radioactive material at the landfill, leaving 36 states with no place to throw out such stuff. (AP Photo/Virginia Postic)
©2008 Google – Map data ©2008 Tele Atlas – Terms of Use

AP IMPACT: Nuclear waste piles up at hospitals

BARNWELL, S.C. (AP) — Tubes, capsules and pellets of used radioactive material are piling up in the basements and locked closets of hospitals and research installations around the country, stoking fears they could get lost or, worse, stolen by terrorists and turned into dirty bombs.

For years, truckloads of low-level nuclear waste from most of the U.S. were taken to a rural South Carolina landfill. There, items such as the rice-size radioactive seeds for treating cancer and pencil-thin nuclear tubes used in industrial gauges were sealed in concrete and buried.

But a South Carolina law that took effect July 1 ended nearly all disposal of radioactive material at the landfill, leaving 36 states with no place to throw out some of the stuff. So labs, universities, hospitals and manufacturers are storing more and more of it on their own property.

“Instead of safely secured in one place, it’s stored in thousands of places in urban locations all over the United States,” said Rick Jacobi, a nuclear waste consultant and former head of a Texas agency that unsuccessfully tried to create a disposal site for that state.

State and federal authorities say the waste is being monitored, but they acknowledge that it is difficult to track and inspected as little as once every five years. Government documents and dozens of Associated Press interviews with nuclear waste generators, experts, watchdogs and officials show that thousands of these small radioactive items have already been lost, and that worries are growing.

“They’ll end up offered up on eBay and flea markets and sent to landfills, or metal recycling plants — places where you don’t want them to be,” said Stephen Browne, radiation control officer at Troxler Electronic Laboratories, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial gauges that use radioactive material.

There are millions of radioactive devices in use for which there is no long-term disposal plan. These include tiny capsules of radioactive cesium isotopes implanted to kill cancerous cells; cobalt-60 pellets that power helmet-like machines used to focus radioactive beams on diseased brain tissue; and cobalt and powdered cesium inside irradiation machines that sterilize medical equipment and blood.

Most medical waste can simply be stored until its radioactivity subsides within a few years, then safely thrown out with the regular trash. Some institutions store their radioactive material in lead-lined safes, behind doors fitted with alarms and covered with yellow-and-black radiation warning signs.

Over the past decade, however, 4,363 radioactive sources have been lost, stolen or abandoned, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report released in February. Though none of the material lost was rated “extremely dangerous” — meaning unshielded, up-close exposure can cause permanent injury within a few minutes and death within an hour — more than half the radioactive items were never recovered, the NRC said.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, owners of dangerous amounts of radioactivity have been told by the government to take greater precautions, such as having 24-hour surveillance, erecting barriers and fingerprinting employees, regardless of whether the devices are in use or stored as waste.

Yet in 2003, the federal Government Accountability Office reported there wasn’t even a record of how many radioactive sources existed nationwide. In June, the GAO concluded that while there has been progress, more must be done to track radioactive material to prevent it from falling into terrorists’ hands and ending up in a dirty bomb, or one that uses conventional explosives to scatter radiation.

“I don’t think we’re yet in crisis, but certainly there’s information out there to suggest we may be closer to that than is comfortable for me,” said Gregory Jaczko, a commissioner with the NRC, one of the agencies charged with tracking the material.

In 1987, four people died and hundreds fell ill after looters in Brazil found a cancer-therapy machine in an abandoned medical clinic and sold it as scrap metal. More recently, 19 small vials of cesium-137, implanted for cervical cancer treatments, disappeared in 1998 from a locked safe at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, N.C. The tubes were never found and were believed stolen.

A terrorist would need to gather far more of those vitamin-sized capsules to create a dirty bomb capable of killing anyone within one city block, said Kelly Classic, a health physicist at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

For decades, the government urged states to build low-level nuclear waste landfills, either on their own or in cooperation with nearby states. But those efforts have run into strong not-in-my-backyard resistance of the sort that led South Carolina lawmakers to close the Barnwell County landfill to all but three states. Only one low-level landfill, in Utah, has opened in the past 30 years. One more could open in Texas by the end of next year, but it would accept trash from only Vermont and the Lone Star State.

The government never set up penalties for states that failed to build landfills.

“Congress should have gotten involved a long time ago,” said Richard Gallego, vice president of Thomas Gray and Associates Inc., a California company that prepares low-level waste for disposal.

Rich Janati, chief of nuclear safety for Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, said: “It’s a national issue, and we should look at it as a national problem and come up with a solution.”

The government this week did move to shore up security by requiring hospitals and labs to better secure machines used to irradiate blood. Also, dirty-bomb fears have prompted the National Research Council to urge replacing the roughly 1,300 such machines in the U.S. with less hazardous but more expensive equipment.

Google News

Tribes Want Quarantined Yellowstone Bison

Tribes Want Quarantined Yellowstone Bison

September 28, 2008

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Five American Indian groups from Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota are in the running to receive a small herd of bison spared from a capture and slaughter program at Yellowstone National Park.

The herd of 40 bison has been kept under quarantine for almost three years to ensure the animals don’t have the livestock disease brucellosis.

Most bison attempting to migrate outside the park are slaughtered to prevent the disease’s spread to cattle. The quarantined herd is part of an experimental program to keep some of those bison alive and restore the animals across parts of the West where they once flourished.

The program is jointly run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Montana officials will have final say over where the bison are relocated.

The five groups seeking the animals are Montana’s Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Reservations, Sinte Gleska University on South Dakota’s Rosebud Sioux Reservation, Wyoming’s Northern Arapaho Tribe and a Blackfeet Tribe member in Montana.

“There’s a lot of interest with all the tribes,” said Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Bison Cooperative, which submitted a preliminary application for the bison program on behalf of the Northern Arapaho and Fort Peck tribes.

“They want to see them come out of there (Yellowstone) and not be slaughtered,” Carlson said.

Yellowstone bison prized for genetics

Because Yellowstone’s bison are considered among the most genetically pure in the country, Carlson said tribes could use them to bolster the genetics in existing herds that have intermingled with cattle.

Ken MacDonald, a division administrator with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the tribal groups have until the end of November to submit detailed plans to accept the bison.

A decision on where the bison will go will be made in January and the animals could be moved in February or March, MacDonald said.

The animals have been tested multiple times for brucellosis. The disease, which causes pregnant cows to abort their calves, can lay dormant for months without being detected.

“If any (bison) were to test positive between now and when they go out, the whole thing will be re-evaluated,” MacDonald said.

Infections discovered in two herds in Montana recently caused the state to lose its federal brucellosis-free status. Wyoming is on the brink of losing its status after a herd near Daniel was found to be infected.

Iran may reconsider nuclear talks

Iran may reconsider nuclear talks
Mon, 29 Sep 2008 03:45:25 GMT

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani

Iran says the recent UN Security Council resolution against the country may cause Tehran to reconsider negotiations over its nuclear program.

According to Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani, the UN Security Council approval of a new resolution against Iran over its enrichment activities has come as a shock because prior to the measure there had been talk of setting a timeline for nuclear talks.

“This move once again provides clearer indication that US verbiage regarding Iran’s nuclear issue is based on mere political pretense and not on legal proceedings,” he said.

His warning comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in its September 15 report on Iran, declared that it could not find any ‘components of a nuclear weapon’ or ‘related nuclear physics studies’ in the country.

The senior Iranian official blasted the West over claims that it is interested in building confidence through negotiations, saying such resolutions downgrade the value of negotiations to that of a political game and may prompt Iran to evaluate whether negotiations should continue with the P5+1.

The P5+1 group – the five members of the UN Security Council (the US, China, Russia, France and the UK), plus Germany – passed a resolution on Saturday in New York against Iran.

The resolution does not impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic but reaffirms three previous sanctions, calling on Tehran to halt uranium enrichment and increase cooperation with the UN nuclear agency.

Western countries accuse Iran of conducting ‘studies of weaponization’, pressuring the UN nuclear watchdog to probe into the issue based on information they claim to have found on a laptop.

The UN nuclear watchdog has thus requested Iran to provide the agency with documents to shed light on the ‘alleged studies of weaponization’, accusing the country of withholding information needed to explain ‘serious’ intelligence.

Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh, has responded with a request that the agency provide Tehran with the original documents. Tehran says with the original documents it may be able to prove the allegations to be based on ‘fabricated’ data.

The UN nuclear watchdog, however, says it is not in a ‘position’ to do so – Washington has only provided the IAEA with copies of the documents.

India, France set to sign nuclear agreement

G Sudhakar Nair
Marseilles (France), Sept 29 (PTI) India and France are poised to ink a landmark civil nuclear deal similar to the one with the United States, which will be the first such agreement to be initialled by any country with New Delhi signalling an end to its 34-year-old nuclear apartheid.

Though Indian officials said that the Indo-French Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is expected to be signed soon, France gave its clear indications that it will be inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Paris tomorrow for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy had told PTI that the prospects of cooperation between France and India in the civil nuclear field are “very promising” considering his country’s expertise, long tradition of cooperation with New Delhi and an atmosphere of trust.

India and France had initialled the Framework Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation in January but could not sign it pending a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. Now that the NSG has given its nod, New Delhi and Paris are free to sign the agreement during Singh’s visit to Paris.

The framework agreement was inked during Sarkozy’s visit to India in January this year.

“We have already initialled the framework agreement in civil nuclear matters. It will certainly come up for review and possible signature during my visit,” Singh told reporters yesterday when asked whether he expected the nuclear agreement to be signed during his two-day tour to Paris. PTI