Thursday, 19 April 2012

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bulgaria Decides to Build New Unit at Kozloduy

The process to build a new reactor at Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear power plant has started with an agreement in principle to go ahead with the project from the country's cabinet. The move comes two weeks after the government scrapped plans for a new plant at Belene.

Kozloduy's two operating units (Image: Kozloduy NPP)

Ministers formally agreed to authorise the country's minister of economy and energy to submit a report to the Council of Ministers on the merits and legalities of the project. Construction cannot begin until the necessary licences and permits are obtained under national and European Union law.

The announcement follows a recent government decision not to go ahead with the construction of a new nuclear power plant at Belene. Instead, the government decided that a more realistic option would be to build the unit at the existing Kozloduy site, where two Russian-designed VVER-1000 units are already in operation.

The new reactor would be Kozloduy's seventh unit. Kozloduy's first four reactors were closed down as a condition of Bulgaria's accession to the European Union and are now being decommissioned.

Preliminary site works had already begun and long-lead component contracts been placed by Russian supplier AtomStroyExport for the first of two 1060 MWe AES-92 pressurised water reactors at Belene when the government decided to drop the project. Belene had long been fraught with financing problems, following the withdrawal of German strategic investor RWE Power in 2009 and government reluctance to take a stake of 51% in the project as originally envisaged. The Bulgarian and Russian parties have been in negotiations over payments for work done to date, and Bulgaria has agreed to pay for the hardware that has already been manufactured, which will now be used at the new Kozloduy unit.

Prior to the cabinet decision, energy and economy minister Delian Dobrev confirmed that the seventh Kozloduy unit would not be state-funded and that a strategic investor would have to be found. A project company for the new reactor would not be likely to be formed until late in 2012 or early in 2013, he said, noting that a strategic investor would be unlikely to be found until extensive preparations - including environmental and geological studies plus licensing activities - were completed.

By World Nuclear News, 12 April 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012

New Reactor Begins Operation In China

A new 650-MW reactor PWR began commercial operation in China April 8, 60 days ahead of schedule, plant owner China National Nuclear Corp.

A new 650-MW reactor PWR began commercial operation in China April 8, 60 days ahead of schedule, plant owner China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) said. The construction of this reactor began in January 2007.

The unit, Qinshan II-4, uses China's indigenous technology CNP-600 and is the seventh unit at the , located in Zhejiang (east coast). Qinshan II has four units totaling 2,600 MW, according to CNNC.

Qinshan II-1, 2 and 3 are also CNP-600 reactors, which are scaled-up versions of the CNP-300 used for Qinshan I. CNP-300 was China's first indigenously designed nuclear reactor. Qinshan III has two operating heavy water reactors provided by the Atomic Energy of Canada.

Nowadays, China has 26 reactors under construction and 16 units in operation.

China's Qinshan nuclear power station includes two CANDU 6 reactors that were built on schedule and under budget. About 10 per cent of the world's more than 440 nuclear reactors are CANDUs.

By Foro Nuclear, 11 April 2012

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

EVENT Scale - Level 1-7

INES – The international nuclear and radiological event scale The INES Scale is a worldwide tool for communicating to the public in a consistent way the safety significance of nuclear and radiological events.

Just like information on earthquakes or temperature would be difficult to understand without the Richter or Celsius scales, the INES Scale explains the significance of events from a range of activities, including industrial and medical use of radiation sources, operations at nuclear facilities and transport of radioactive material. Events are classified on the scale at seven levels: Levels 1–3 are called “incidents” and Levels 4–7 “accidents”. The scale is designed so that the severity of an event is about ten times greater for each increase in level on the scale. Events without safety significance are called “deviations” and are classified Below Scale / Level 0.
INES Nuclear Even Level Scale

INES classifies nuclear and radiological accidents and incidents by considering three areas of impact:
People and the Environment considers the radiation doses to people close to the location of the event and the widespread, unplanned release of radioactive material from an installation.
Radiological Barriers and Control covers events without any direct impact on people or the environment and only applies inside major facilities. It covers unplanned high radiation levels and spread of significant quantities of radioactive materials confined within the installation.
Defence-in-Depth also covers events without any direct impact on people or the environment, but for which the range of measures put in place to prevent accidents did not function as intended.

Communicating Events
Nuclear and radiological events are promptly communicated by the INES Member States, otherwise a confused understanding of the event may occur from media or from public speculation. In some situations, where not all the details of the event are known early on, a provisional rating may be issued. Later, a final rating is determined and any differences explained.
To facilitate international communications for events attracting wider interest, the IAEA maintains a web-based communications network that allows details of the event to immediately be made publicly available.
The two tables that follow show selected examples of historic events rated using the INES scale, ranging from a Level 1 anomaly to a Level 7 major accident; a much wider range of examples showing the rating methodology is provided in the INES Manual.

Scope of the Scale
INES applies to any event associated with the transport, storage and use of radioactive material and radiation sources, whether or not the event occurs at a facility. It covers a wide spectrum of practices, including industrial use such as radiography, use of radiation sources in hospitals, activity at nuclear facilities, and transport of radioactive material.
It also includes the loss or theft of radioactive sources or packages and the discovery of orphan sources, such as sources inadvertently transferred into the scrap metal trade.
When a device is used for medical purposes (e.g., radiodiagnosis or radiotherapy), INES is used for the rating of events resulting in actual exposure of workers and the public, or involving degradation of the device or deficiencies in the safety provisions.
Currently, the scale does not cover the actual or potential consequences for patients exposed as part of a medical procedure. The scale is only intended for use in civil (non-military) applications and only relates to the safety aspects of an event. INES is not intended for use in rating security-related events or malicious acts to deliberately expose people to radiation.

What the Scale is Not For
It is not appropriate to use INES to compare safety performance between facilities, organizations or countries. The statistically small numbers of events at Level 2 and above and the differences between countries for reporting more minor events to the public make it inappropriate to draw international comparisons.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Incident at French Penly-2 Nuclear Power Plant Classified INES Level-1

French nuclear safety authority (ASN) has classified a small fire and a leak in the reactor building of unit 2 at the Penly nuclear power station a level-1 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

Smoke detectors released a fire alarm in the compartment of one of the four main reactor circulation pumps of the PWR unit 2 at Electricité de France's (EDF) Penly nuclear power site with two 1.300-megawatt pressurized reactor units at the French north-coast.

The operator declared a site alarm and informed local and national authorities. The fire brigade managed to locate the source of the fire and extinguish it successfully. The source was spilled lubrication oil of the main pump according to a provisional report by Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN).

Follow-up investigation by the operator showed that a bearing had lost oil and overheated. The pump damage released a reactor scram. Further investigation showed the pump was leaking and radioactive primary coolant liquid flew into the collection receptacle of the unit. EDF decided to depressurize and cool down the unit. This measure stopped the leakage.

According to EDF, no persons were injured, no radionuclides were released outside the reactor building, the cooling of the reactor core was permanently ensured and it is a safe state. Operation of Penly-1 continues. ASN was informed on the leak and has classified the event as an "anomaly" on level 1 of the INES.
By Foro Nuclear, 9 April 2012

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Does the World Need Nuclear Energy?

This interesting video below is a debate on whether the world needs nuclear energy or not. Watch this and decide for yourself...

Friday, 6 April 2012

Bill Gates Sees Future in Nuclear Energy

Bill Gates says he in investing in Generation IV nuclear power plants through Terra Power, which he says would be safer and more efficient than modern nuclear reactors. The first of such plants could come online in 2022 he tells Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray at the 2012 ''ECO:nomics conference''.

TerraPower is a nuclear reactor design spin-off company of Intellectual Ventures that is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington in theUnited States. TerraPower is investigating a class of nuclear fast reactors called the traveling wave reactor (TWR). One of TerraPower's primary investors is Bill Gates. In December 2011 India's Reliance Industries bought a minority stake through one of its subsidiaries. Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani will join the company's board.Where as standard light water reactors such as PWRs or BWRs running worldwide use enriched uranium as fuel and need fuel reloads every few years, TWRs, once started, use depleted uranium instead and are considered to be able to operate for between 40 to 60 years without fuel reloading.

TerraPower has chosen TWRs as a technology for further development. The major benefits of these reactors are that they can get high fuel utilization (enhancing sustainability) in a manner that does not require reprocessing and could eventually eliminate the need to enrich uranium TWRs are designed to convert typically unusable fertile nuclides such as U-238 into fissile nuclides like Pu-239 in-situ and then shift the power from the highly-burned region to the freshly bred region. This allows the benefits of a closed fuel cycle without the expensive and proliferation-sensitive enrichment and reprocessing plants typically required to get them. All the fuel required for between 40 to 60 years of operation could be in the reactor from the beginning. TerraPower plans to have a TWR prototype built by 2020 producing electricity for the grid in the several-hundred megawatt capacity range.

Thorium Lasers Could Make Nuclear Cars A Reality

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Action Against Lynas Plant Premature

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has set April 12 to decide on a preliminary objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers against the application for leave by local residents over the Lynas plant in Pahang.

Yesterday, High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Rohana Yusuf set the date after hearing lengthy submissions by parties.

Senior Federal Counsel Suzana Atan and SFC Noor Hisham Ismail acted for the A-G’s Chambers and Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) while Datuk Dominic Puthucheary represented Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Lead counsel Tommy Thomas and lawyer K. Shanmuga appeared for 10 local residents.

SFC Suzana submitted yesterday that local residents should have appealed to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and that a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) has been set up to look into the Lynas plant

SFC Noor Hisham argued that AELB director-general Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan has affirmed in an affidavit that the Lynas plant still cannot be operated.

Dominic submitted that nothing had been done by AELB to allow Lynas Malaysia to operate the plant, adding that the application is premature.

Tommy argued that the local residents still could bring the matter to the court for its consideration.

The residents filed the application on Feb 17 to challenge the AELB’s decision to grant Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd a temporary operation license (TOL) and named AELB, the director-general of Environment Quality and Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd as respondents.

The applicants are asking for leave to quash AELB’s Jan 30 decision to grant the TOL.

In Kuantan, Lynas Corp president Eric Noyrez said the issue of a permanent disposal facility site for its rare earth refinery would be irrelevant as all the residue produced would be recycled.

He said the three residue streams would be turned into economically viable products such as hardcore base for roads, plaster boards and fertilisers.

“We have no intention to dump the waste as we see money in it and have developed the technology to turn it into saleable items,” said Noyrez during a media briefing at the plant in Gebeng here on Tuesday.

- Taken from The Star dated 5th April 2012

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Nuclear UAV Drones Could Fly For Months At A Time!

By James Holloway

06:38 April 3, 2012

Nuclear-powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that would increase operational flight durations from days to months are a technological possibility today, according to a feasibility study undertaken last year by Sandia National Laboratories and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. A nuclear power supply would additionally double the availability of electrical power to onboard systems, including weaponry, the study found.

A General Atomics MQ-9 (a.k.a Predator B, Reaper or Guardian) UAV drone's flight duration could be extended from days to months with the addition of a nuclear power source according to recent military research.

The word nuclear appears nowhere in the project summary obtained and published by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), but there are numerous indications that this was indeed the prime power source under investigation. Though the project summary euphemistically refers to a focus on "power technologies that went well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies," the FAS identifies words such as "safeguards," "decommissioning and disposal," and "political conditions" that prevent such technology seeing the light of day (for now, at any rate) which seem to strongly suggest the examination of nuclear technology.

Further, Dr. Steven B. Dron, who was the project's lead investigator at Sandia is, as the FAS puts it, a "specialist in nuclear propulsion," who co-chaired a session titled Non-nuclear testing in support of nuclear thermal propulsion development at the 25th Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion in 2008.

With the usage of UAV drones, the US Air Force could carry out dangerous and risky  tasks without harming their troops. 

In a response to the FAS story, Sandia does not flatly deny the investigation of nuclear propulsion systems for unmanned drones, but does stress the preliminary nature of the study. "Sandia is often asked to look at a wide range of solutions to the toughest technical challenges," it told the FAS. "The research on this topic was highly theoretical and very conceptual. The work only resulted in a preliminary feasibility study and no hardware was ever built or tested. The project has ended."

However, the summary does make clear that UAVs fitted with "alternative" power sources would "be able to provide far more surveillance time and intelligence information per mission," and that the "technical goals for the project were accomplished."

The report suggests that only political will swayed by public opinion stands in the way of nuclear-powered drones. "Unfortunately, none of the results will be used in the near-term or mid-term future," it says, adding that "political realities would not allow use of the results."

In its interpretation of the report the UK's Guardian asserts that opposition would stem from "the inherent dangers of either a crash - in effect turning the drone into a so-called dirty bomb - or of its nuclear propulsion system falling into the hands of terrorists or unfriendly powers." However, the anticipated political objection could additionally stem from ethical objections to the idea of what effectively amounts to a permanent surveillance presence (with potential strike capability) over foreign territories.

Taken from

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Muhyiddin Joins World Leaders In International Cooperation On Nuclear Security

SEOUL: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin joined 52 other world leaders in discussions to enhance nuclear security on the second and final day of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit here, today.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin arrives for the opening plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Coex Center, in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. AP/ Susan Walsh

The plenary two would be preceded by plenary session one in the morning while leaders are expected to deliberate the issue of nuclear security-safety interface during their luncheon.

On both sessions, held at the venue of the summit, the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) here, Muhyiddin and other leaders will discuss national measures and international cooperation to enhance nuclear security, including future commitments.

Later in the evening, Muhyiddin will proceed to a hotel here to attend a gala dinner hosted by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and wife Kim Yoon-ok, thus signalling the end of the summit.

Muhyiddin and his wife Noorainee Abdul Rahman are scheduled to depart to Kuala Lumpur the same night.
Among the key agenda of the summit include nuclear threat response, illicit nuclear trafficking prevention and nuclear safety in the context of nuclear security.

The vision and implementation measures of the 2012 summit is to be embodied in the Seoul Communique, the final document of the summit.

The communique is a political statement regarding efforts to continue strengthening the security of the nuclear material and technology.

Carrying the theme "Beyond Security, Towards Peace", the summit is a follow up to the first one, attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and leaders from 46 other countries in Washington, two years ago.

Nuclear security refers to the prevention and detection of and response to, theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer or other malicious acts involving nuclear material, other radioactive substances or their associated facilities.

Overall, the Seoul summit would contribute to advancing the international nuclear security architecture from the stage of political declaration to practical steps toward concrete implementation. 


Remark From President Obama at Hankuk University

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by President Obama at Hankuk University

Seoul, Republic of Korea
10:32 A.M. KST
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please, thank you very much. 
To President Park, faculty, staff and students, thank you so much for this very warm welcome.  It is a great honor to be here at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Dr. Park for, a few moments ago, making me an honorary alumni of the university.  (Applause.)
I know that this school has one of the world’s finest foreign language programs -- which means that your English is much better than my Korean.  (Laughter.)  All I can say is, kamsa hamnida.  (Applause.) 
Now, this is my third visit to the Republic of Korea as President.  I've now been to Seoul more times than any other capital -- except for Washington, D.C.,  of course.  This reflects the extraordinary bonds between our two countries and our commitment to each other.  I’m pleased that we’re joined by so many leaders here today, Koreans and Americans, who help keep us free and strong and prosperous every day.  That includes our first Korean-American ambassador to the Republic of Korea -- Ambassador Sung Kim.  (Applause.)   
I’ve seen the deep connections between our peoples in my own life -- among friends, colleagues.  I’ve seen it so many patriotic Korean Americans, including a man born in this city of Seoul, who came to America and has dedicated his life to lifting up the poor and sick of the world.  And last week I was proud to nominate him to lead the World Bank -- Dr. Jim Yong Kim.  (Applause.)  
I’ve also seen the bonds in our men and women in uniform, like the American and Korean troops I visited yesterday along the DMZ -- Freedom’s Frontier.  And we salute their service and are very grateful for them.  We honor all those who have given their lives in our defense, including the 46 brave souls who perished aboard the Cheonan two years ago today.  And in their memory we reaffirm the enduring promise at the core of our alliance -- we stand together, and the commitment of the United States to the defense and the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.  (Applause.)
Most of all, I see the strength of our alliance in all of you.  For decades, this school has produced leaders -- public servants, diplomats, businesspeople -- who’ve helped propel the modern miracle that is Korea-- transforming it from crushing poverty to one of the world’s most dynamic economies; from authoritarianism to a thriving democracy; from a country focused inward to a leader for security and prosperity not only in this region but also around the world -- a truly “Global Korea.” 
So to all the students here today, this is the Korea your generation will inherit.  And I believe there's no limits to what our two nations can achieve together.  For like your parents and grandparents before you, you know that the future is what we make of it.  And you know that in our digital age, we can connect and innovate across borders like never before -- with your smart phones and Twitter and Me2Day and Kakao Talk.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s no wonder so many people around the world have caught the Korean Wave, Hallyu.  (Applause.)
Or consider this:  In advance of my visit, our embassy invited Koreans to send us your questions using social media.  Some of you may have sent questions.  And they called it, "Ask President Obama."  Now, one of you -- maybe it was you, maybe it was somebody else -- this is true -- asked this question:  “Have you posted, yourself, a supportive opinion on a website under a disguised name, pretending you are one of the supporters of President Obama?”  (Laughter.)  I hadn’t thought of this.  (Laughter.)  But the truth is I have not done this.  Maybe my daughters have.  (Laughter.)  But I haven’t done that myself.
So our shared future -- and the unprecedented opportunity to meet shared challenges together -- is what brings me to Seoul.  Over the next two days, under President Lee’s leadership, we’ll move ahead with the urgent work of preventing nuclear terrorism by securing the world’s nuclear materials.  This is an important part of the broader, comprehensive agenda that I want to talk with you about today -- our vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
Three years ago, I traveled to Prague and I declared America’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and to seeking a world without them.  I said I knew that this goal would not be reached quickly, perhaps not in my lifetime, but I knew we had to begin, with concrete steps.  And in your generation, I see the spirit we need in this endeavor -- an optimism that beats in the hearts of so many young people around the world.  It’s that refusal to accept the world as it is, the imagination to see the world as it ought to be, and the courage to turn that vision into reality.  So today, with you, I want to take stock of our journey and chart our next steps.
Here in Seoul, more than 50 nations will mark our progress toward the goal we set at the summit I hosted two years ago in Washington -- securing the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials in four years so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.  And since then, nations -- including the United States -- have boosted security at nuclear facilities. 
South Korea, Japan, Pakistan and others are building new centers to improve nuclear security and training.  Nations like Kazakhstan have moved nuclear materials to more secure locations.  Mexico, and just yesterday Ukraine, have joined the ranks of nations that have removed all the highly enriched uranium from their territory.  All told, thousands of pounds of nuclear material have been removed from vulnerable sites around the world.  This was deadly material that is now secure and can now never be used against a city like Seoul.
We’re also using every tool at our disposal to break up black markets and nuclear material.  Countries like Georgia and Moldova have seized highly enriched uranium from smugglers.  And countries like Jordan are building their own counter-smuggling teams, and we’re tying them together in a global network of intelligence and law enforcement.  Nearly 20 nations have now ratified the treaties and international partnerships that are at the center of our efforts.  And I should add that with the death of Osama bin Laden and the major blows that we’ve struck against al Qaeda, a terrorist organization that has actively sought nuclear weapons is now on the path to defeat.     
So in short, the international community has made it harder than ever for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons, and that has made us all safer.  We’re building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety.  But we’re under no illusions.  We know that nuclear material, enough for many weapons, is still being stored without adequate protection.  And we know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it -- as well as radioactive material for a dirty bomb.  We know that just the smallest amount of plutonium -- about the size of an apple -- could kill hundreds of thousands and spark a global crisis.  The danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security.

And that's why here in Seoul, we need to keep at it.  And I believe we will.  We’re expecting dozens of nations to announce over the next several days that they’ve fulfilled the promises they made two years ago.  And we’re now expecting more commitments -- tangible, concrete action -- to secure nuclear materials and, in some cases, remove them completely.  This is the serious, sustained global effort that we need, and it's an example of more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges.  This is how the international community should work in the 21st century.  And Korea is one of the key leaders in this process.

The United States will continue to do our part -- securing our own material and helping others protect theirs.  We’re moving forward with Russia to eliminate enough plutonium for about 17,000 nuclear weapons and turn it instead into electricity.  I can announce today a new agreement by the United States and several European partners toward sustaining the supply of medical isotopes that are used to treat cancer and heart disease without the use of highly enriched uranium.  And we will work with industry and hospitals and research centers in the United States and around the world, to recover thousands of unneeded radiological materials so that they can never do us harm. 

Now, American leadership has been essential to progress in a second area -- taking concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons.  As a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, this is our obligation, and it’s one that I take very seriously.  But I believe the United States has a unique responsibility to act -- indeed, we have a moral obligation.  I say this as President of the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons.  I say it as a Commander-in-Chief who knows that our nuclear codes are never far from my side.  Most of all, I say it as a father, who wants my two young daughters to grow up in a world where everything they know and love can’t be instantly wiped out.

Over the past three years, we’ve made important progress.  With Russia, we’re now reducing our arsenal under the New START Treaty -- the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly 20 years.  And when we’re done, we will have cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.

As President, I changed our nuclear posture to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.  I made it clear that the United States will not develop new nuclear warheads.  And we will not pursue new military missions for nuclear weapons.  We’ve narrowed the range of contingencies under which we would ever use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.  At the same time, I’ve made it clear that so long as nuclear weapons exist, we’ll work with our Congress to maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal that guarantees the defense not only of the United States but also our allies -- including South Korea and Japan.

My administration’s nuclear posture recognizes that the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited to today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism.  So last summer, I directed my national security team to conduct a comprehensive study of our nuclear forces.  That study is still underway.  But even as we have more work to do, we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need.  Even after New START, the United States will still have more than 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons, and some 5,000 warheads. 

I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal.

Going forward, we’ll continue to seek discussions with Russia on a step we have never taken before -- reducing not only our strategic nuclear warheads, but also tactical weapons and warheads in reserve.  I look forward to discussing this agenda with President Putin when we will meet in May.  Missile defense will be on the agenda, but I believe this should be an area of cooperation, not tension.  And I’m confident that, working together, we can continue to make progress and reduce our nuclear stockpiles.  Of course, we’ll consult closely with our allies every step of the way, because the security and defense of our allies, both in Europe and Asia, is not negotiable.   

Here in Asia, we've urged China -- with its growing nuclear arsenal -- to join us in a dialogue on nuclear issues.  That offer remains open.  And more broadly, my administration will continue to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  And after years of delay, it’s time to find a path forward on a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons -- ends it once and for all.

By working to meet our responsibilities as a nuclear power, we’ve made progress in a third area -- strengthening the global regime that prevents the spread of nuclear weapons.  When I came into office, the cornerstone of the world’s effort -- which is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- was fraying.  Iran had started spinning thousands of centrifuges.  North Korea conducted another nuclear test.  And the international community was largely divided on how to respond.

Over the past three years, we have begun to reverse that dynamic.  Working with others, we’ve enhanced the global partnership that prevent proliferation.  The International Atomic Energy Agency is now conducting the strongest inspections ever.  And we’ve upheld the basic bargain of the NPT:  Countries with nuclear weapons, like the United States and Russia, will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can have access to peaceful nuclear energy. 

Because of these efforts, the international community is more united and nations that attempt to flout their obligations are more isolated.  Of course, that includes North Korea. 

Here in Korea, I want to speak directly to the leaders in Pyongyang.  The United States has no hostile intent toward your country.  We are committed to peace.  And we are prepared to take steps to improve relations, which is why we have offered nutritional aid to North Korean mothers and children. 

But by now it should be clear, your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek; they have undermined it.  Instead of the dignity you desire, you're more isolated.  Instead of earning the respect of the world, you've been met with strong sanctions and condemnation.  You can continue down the road you are on, but we know where that leads.  It leads to more of the same -- more broken dreams, more isolation, ever more distance between the people of North Korea and the dignity and the opportunity that they deserve. 

And know this:  There will be no rewards for provocations.  Those days are over.  To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you.  This is the decision that you must make.  Today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea.  (Applause.)

This same principle applies with respect to Iran.  Under the NPT, Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear energy.  In fact, time and again the international community -- including the United States -- has offered to help Iran develop nuclear energy peacefully.  But time and again Iran has refused, instead taking the path of denial, deceit and deception.  And that is why Iran also stands alone, as the only member of the NPT unable to convince the international community that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes -- the only member.  That’s why the world has imposed unprecedented sanctions, slowing Iran’s nuclear program. 

The international community is now poised to enter talks with Iran’s leaders.  Once again, there is the possibility of a diplomatic resolution that gives Iran access to peaceful nuclear energy while addressing the concerns of the international community.  Today, I’ll meet with the leaders of Russia and China as we work to achieve a resolution in which Iran fulfills its obligations. 

There is time to solve this diplomatically.  It is always my preference to solve these issues diplomatically.  But time is short.  Iran’s leaders must understand they, too, face a choice. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency  that this moment demands.  Iran must meet its obligations. 

For the global response to Iran and North Korea’s intransigence, a new international norm is emerging:  Treaties are binding; rules will be enforced; and violations will have consequences.  We refuse to consign ourselves to a future where more and more regimes possess the world’s most deadly weapons.

And this brings me to the final area where we’ve made progress -- a renewed commitment to harnessing the power of the atom not for war, but for peaceful purposes.  After the tragedy at Fukushima, it was right and appropriate that nations moved to improve the safety and security of nuclear facilities.  We’re doing so in the United States.  It’s taking place all across the world.

As we do, let’s never forget the astonishing benefits that nuclear technology has brought to our lives.  Nuclear technology helps make our food safe.  It prevents disease in the developing world.  It’s the high-tech medicine that treats cancer and finds new cures.  And, of course, it’s the energy -- the clean energy that helps cut the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.  Here in South Korea, as you know, as a leader in nuclear energy, you’ve shown the progress and prosperity that can be achieved when nations embrace peaceful nuclear energy and reject the development of nuclear arms.

And with rising oil prices and a warming climate, nuclear energy will only become more important.  That’s why, in the United States, we’ve restarted our nuclear industry as part of a comprehensive strategy to develop every energy source.  We supported the first new nuclear power plant in three decades.  We’re investing in innovative technologies so we can build the next generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants.  And we’re training the next generation of scientists and engineers who are going to unlock new technologies to carry us forward.

One of the great challenges they’ll face and that your generation will face is the fuel cycle itself in producing nuclear energy.  We all know the problem:  The very process that gives us nuclear energy can also put nations and terrorists within the reach of nuclear weapons.  We simply can’t go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we’re trying to keep away from terrorists. 

And that’s why we’re creating new fuel banks, to help countries realize the energy they seek without increasing the nuclear dangers that we fear.  That’s why I’ve called for a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation.  We need an international commitment to unlocking the fuel cycle of the future.  In the United States we’re investing in the research and development of new fuel cycles so that dangerous materials can’t be stolen or diverted.  And today I urge nations to join us in seeking a future where we harness the awesome power of the atom to build and not to destroy.

In this sense, we see how the efforts I’ve described today reinforce each other.  When we enhance nuclear security, we’re in a stronger position to harness safe, clean nuclear energy.  When we develop new, safer approaches to nuclear energy, we reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and proliferation.  When nations, including my own, fulfill our responsibilities, it strengthens our ability to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities.  And step by step, we come closer to the security and peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

I know that there are those who deride our vision.  There are those who say ours is an impossible goal that will be forever out of reach.  But to anyone who doubts the great progress that is possible, I tell them, come to Korea.  Come to this country, which rose from the ashes of war -- (applause) -- a country that rose from the ashes of war, turning rubble into gleaming cities.  Stand where I stood yesterday, along a border that is the world’s clearest contrast between a country committed to progress, a country committed to its people, and a country that leaves its own citizens to starve. 

Come to this great university, where a new generation is taking its place in the world -- (applause) -- helping to create opportunities that your parents and grandparents could only imagine.  Come and see some of the courageous individuals who join us today -- men and women, young and old, born in the North, but who left all they knew behind and risked their lives to find freedom and opportunity here in the South.  In your life stories we see the truth -- Koreans are one people.  And if just given the chance, if given their freedom, Koreans in the North are capable of great progress as well.  (Applause.)

Looking out across the DMZ yesterday, but also looking into your eyes today, I’m reminded of another country’s experience that speaks to the change that is possible in our world.  After a terrible war, a proud people was divided.  Across a fortified border, armies massed, ready for war.  For decades, it was hard to imagine a different future.  But the forces of history and hopes of man could not be denied.  And today, the people of Germany are whole again -- united and free.  

No two places follow the same path, but this much is true:  The currents of history cannot be held back forever.  The deep longing for freedom and dignity will not go away.  (Applause.) So, too, on this divided peninsula.  The day all Koreans yearn for will not come easily or without great sacrifice.  But make no mistake, it will come.  (Applause.)  And when it does, change will unfold that once seemed impossible.  And checkpoints will open and watchtowers will stand empty, and families long separated will finally be reunited.  And the Korean people, at long last, will be whole and free.

Like our vision of a world without nuclear weapons, our vision of a Korea that stands as one may not be reached quickly.  But from this day until then, and all the days that follow, we take comfort in knowing that the security we seek, the peace we want, is closer at hand because of the great alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea -- (applause) -- and because we stand for the dignity and freedom of all Koreans.  (Applause.)  And no matter the test, no matter the trial, we stand together.  We work together.  We go together.  (Applause.)
Katchi kapshida! 

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

11:03 A.M. KST

Summary from the remarks:
  • The nuclear technology had created lots nuclear terrorism issue, US is now try their best to break up black markets and nuclear materials. In other words, the international community has made it harder than ever for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons, and that has made the world safer. They are building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety.
  • Nuclear weapons, radioactive material for dirty bomb are just a smallest part of plutonium usage. There are many others usage of plutonium which are benefits to everyone.
  • For example, medical isotopes that used to treat cancer and heart disease. US and several European partners are now working with industry, hospitals and research centers to recover thousands of needed radiological materials.
  • Not only that, nuclear technology helps make food safe, it prevents disease in the developing world.
  • Nuclear energy a.k.a the clean energy that helps cut the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.
  • With rising oil price and a warming climate, nuclear energy will only become more important.
  • US is now investing in innovative technologies to build the next generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants. They also train the next generation of scientists and engineer who are going to unlock new technologies to carry world forward.
  • US also invest in the research and development of new cycles so that dangerous materials cant be stolen or diverted. 
  • President Obama is now urge nations to join them in seeking a future where they harness the awesome power of the atom to build and not to destroy.

Image of Nuclear Power Plant

From the picture below, we can see the difference between the perception of nuclear power before and after its commencement. Currently, most of Malaysians think that nuclear energy brings more danger to the people than its benefits. In reality, we can obtain the benefits with the right knowledge and precaution taken in building nuclear power plant in Malaysia.

Image of Nuclear Power

Monday, 26 March 2012

Nuclear Fusion Now Seen As A Real Possibility

Computer simulations show we might one day use power source that makes stars shine

A prototype of the nuclear fusion system that relies on coils and compressing magnetic fields to produce energy

If new computer simulations pan out in the real world, nuclear fusion, the power source that makes stars shine, may be a practical possibility here on Earth, scientists say.

Simulations at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico revealed a fusion reactor that surpasses the "break-even" point of energy input versus energy output, indicating a self-sustaining fusion reaction. (This doesn't break any laws of physics for the same reason that starting a fire with a match doesn't).

Extremely high temperatures and pressures are needed to spark nuclear fusion, a process in which atomic nuclei — the protons and neutrons of atoms — literally fuse together to create a heavier element. And if the conditions are right, that fusion can release massive amounts of energy.

The results of the new study have applications in weapons testing (it's feasible to test the effects of nuclear weapons in the lab, but not in the real world) and for clean energy, as the experiment relied on deuterium, which could be extracted from seawater.

In stars, the mass of hydrogen is so large that its own gravity keeps the hydrogen and helium at the center in a small area, and the temperatures are in the millions of degrees. Essentially, the plasma (gas that has had its atoms stripped of electrons) is confined forever, and the protons can't escape and take their energy with them. So hydrogen fuses into helium, producing a lot of energy in the form of light and heat.

But that's a lot more difficult to do in a lab. For years, scientists and engineers have been looking for ways to confine plasma that is so hot it would melt the walls of any container and force atoms together to make them fuse.

A video clip explaining how nuclear fusion works:

Real-world tests

Even at Sandia, there isn't a machine that can generate such a huge pulse of energy. The Z machine, a powerful X-ray generator, can hit about 26 million amperes. That might be enough, though, to prove the concept works by hitting the break-even point, where the energy put into the reaction is the same as that which comes out.

Sandia scientists are currently testing the different components of the new machine; right now, they are working on the coils, but a full-scale test should happen in 2013, they say.

Sandia spokesperson Neal Singer noted that one purpose of this work is to study the effects of nuclear explosions without actually exploding a bomb. The United States currently abides by a moratorium on underground nuclear tests. But testing warheads in some manner is essential because the nuclear stockpile is aging. Being able to create fusion reactions in a laboratory setting will go a long way toward making nuclear explosions unnecessary.

Of course, it is still uncertain whether the reaction will work the way the researchers hope. Instabilities that appear in the magnetic fields that contain the plasma, for instance, have been an obstacle to working fusion power plants. Those instabilities allow the plasma to escape, so it doesn't fuse. But the work at Sandia is a step in the right direction, said Stephen O. Dean, president of Fusion Power Associates, an advocacy group that has pushed for development of fusion energy.

"They are working at a higher density than other fusion experiments," Dean told LiveScience. "So there's more classical physics … it's better understood." Other approaches, he said, such as using lasers to force deuterium nuclei together, produce interactions that have not been studied as extensively.

Though this work is ostensibly to test weapons, Singer acknowledged its application to power generation, and that it would be a big step.

Dean was more emphatic. "Even though it's a weapons program, (power) is in the back of everyone's mind," he said.

Taken from Science on (27/3/2012)

Nuclear Medicine: A Vital but Troubled Field

Nuclear medicine: A Vital but Troubled Field

VIENNA - Life begins at 40, but not for a small and ageing fleet of nuclear reactors vital for millions of life-saving medical procedures each year and using material that could go in an atomic bomb.
Ahead of this week's Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, there has been scant progress in addressing the concerns surrounding this other major use of atomic technology, despite the problems being known for years, experts say.

For almost all the world's medical isotopes, used to diagnose cancers and other diseases in 30 million procedures every year, the world relies on eight research reactors, all but one of which is four decades old or more.
These reactors produce "irradiated targets", which then go to five main producers of the most commonly used isotope, known as Mo-99, which decays into a radiopharmaceutical known as Tc-99, used once every second in procedures worldwide.

Of these eight reactors, the "big five" in Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands and South Africa, responsible for as much as 95 percent of global supply, are between 45 and 54 years old.
The other three are in Poland, 38 years old, the Czech Republic, 55, and in Australia, the youngster in the family at just five. There are also dozens of smaller plants around the world, including one in Iran, meeting domestic needs.

In its draft Nuclear Safety Review 2012 seen by AFP, the UN atomic agency says that the five main reactors have all reported "age-related problems", meaning expensive repairs and production halts that have played havoc with global supply.

This is despite the wake-up call of 2009-10 when Canada's National Research Universal (NRU), the biggest single producer and the main US supplier, shut for 15 months for repairs.
The High Flux Reactor in the Netherlands was also out of action for five months at the same time, creating major supply problems.
"That crisis is over but the broader concerns still remain," Ed Bradley, a nuclear engineer from the International Atomic Energy Agency's Research Reactors division, told AFP.
It is not just supply. Reliance on these facilities also raises bigger worries.

With the exception of OPAL in Australia and half of the Pelindaba plant's capacity in South Africa, the remaining production capacity uses highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used to form the core of a nuclear bomb.

In 2007, armed men broke into Pelindaba, which at the time housed enough HEU for 30 nuclear weapons. Although they stole no radioactive material, the incident highlighted the potential risks.
To tackle these security and supply concerns, recent years have seen a concerted international drive to diversify the number of producers and to switch to much less risky low-enriched uranium (LEU).
This has borne some fruit, said Tilman Ruff, a University of Melbourne professor and a senior member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Pelindaba's production is half LEU, Canada scrapped plans for two new HEU reactors, and newer plants in Australia, Argentina and Indonesia may export more. Research into alternatives to reactors also looks promising.
But a great deal remains to be done.
"Governments have generally been complacent and lacking in leadership and willingness to provide financial support," Ruff told AFP.

European conversion to LEU has been slow, while Canada's main Tc-99 maker Nordion has signed a deal with a firm in Russia, home to the world's biggest HEU stockpile, to supply it with uranium targets once NRU shuts for good in 2016.
The main reason for the lack of progress is economics, according to a 2010 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study that concluded that LEU-based production was "currently not supported by the market."
One reason, the report from the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency said, was that the main reactors were originally built using government money and continue to be effectively subsidised, thereby putting off new entrants to the market.

For Ruff, part of the blame also lies with his fellow doctors, who he says have "not played an active and constructive leadership role."
"Most doctors are still unaware of where the isotopes they use for their patients come from," he says.

by Agence France Presse

Addtional Infomation - Facts about MO-99

Molybdenum (Mo-99) is the key isotope used in the production of technetium generators and its supply chain has always been delicately balanced to meet world-wide technetium demand. While this delicate balance has been somewhat temperamental in the past, recent months have been particularly challenging. Used in 80 percent of nuclear medicine procedures, technetium is critically important in nuclear medicine with over 50,000 patients being imaged in the U.S. every day and tens of thousands of patients internationally. The limited production capability of Mo-99 is a recurring, global issue that impacts the nuclear medicine industry’s ability to effectively diagnose and treat patients on a daily basis. The challenge is real.

Diagram of the proposed process. An electron beam from a linear accelerator is used to produce high-energy X-rays. X-rays shine on a target consisting of molybdenum-100 (Mo-100) discs. An X-ray strikes the nucleus of a Mo-100 atom, knocking away a neutron to create molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which decays to become technetium-99m (Tc-99m). A radionuclide separator separates the Tc-99m from the Mo-100 so that it can be injected into patients undergoing medical tests. The Mo-100 can then be recycled into new targets.