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.

Japan Down To One Nuclear Reactor After Shutdown

TOKYO, March 26, 2012 (AFP) - Japan was Monday left with only one working nuclear reactor after Tokyo Electric Power Co. shuttered its final generator for scheduled safety checks.

The vast utility's entire stock of 17 reactors are now idle, including three units that suffered a meltdown when the tsunami hit Fukushima, as Japan warily eyes a spike in electricity demand over the hot and humid summer.
Only one of Japan's 54 units -- in northernmost Hokkaido -- is still working, and that is scheduled to be shut down for maintenance work in May.

The No. 6 unit at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant "stopped generating electricity at 23:59 Sunday, and its reactor was suspended at 1:46 Monday," TEPCO spokesman Osamu Yokokura told AFP.
The No. 6 unit is expected to undergo checks for several months, "but it depends on the result of checks and if we find some defects it may take more time to fix them," Yokokura said.
Japan's formerly-trusted nuclear power industry lost public confidence when the tsunami of last March knocked out cooling systems at Fukushima, sending three reactors into meltdowns.

Radiation was spread over a wide area, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and rendering farmland useless in the world's worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a century.
Reactors idled for tests must get the consent of host communities before being re-started, something many of those living near nuclear power plants are now unwilling to give, leaving power companies no choice but to rely more heavily on fossil fuels.

Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry Yukio Edano has said the government will not introduce a summer cap on the use of electricity nor the rolling blackouts that were carried out last year after the nuclear accident.
"We are expected to secure a stable supply of electric power for the time being," TEPCO president Toshio Nishizawa said in a statement on Sunday.
"But we call on customers to continue cooperating in saving electricity."

by SinChewJit Poh

Video below show a better understanding about How a Nuclear Reactor Work to give you all a better picture. Check it out..

Malaysia's Contribution To Check Nuclear Terrorism Outlined

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

SEOUL (March 26, 2012): Malaysia has made significant progress in fulfilling commitments agreed to at the inaugural Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in 2010, including strengthening its legislative framework, said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pix).

Speaking to Malaysian reporters on the sidelines of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit which opened here Monday, Muhyiddin said the government was now in the final stages of revising the Atomic Energy Licensing Act to become a comprehensive nuclear law.

He said this will allow Malaysia to accede to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), and its 2005 Protocol, ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol and adopt the various outstanding IAEA codes of conduct.

He also said that Malaysia continued to strengthen the global export control regime and, in this context, the Strategic Trade Act (STA) came into force on July 1, 2011. "This law has enabled Malaysia to contribute to global efforts to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said Muhyiddin.
At the 2010 summit, which Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and 46 other leaders attended, a non-binding communiqué was issued recognising nuclear terrorism as one of the most challenging threats to international security.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia had also endorsed the Statement of Principles to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). In combating illicit trafficking, he said, Malaysia continued to implement the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and the Megaport Initiative.
The CSI and Megaport Initiative are implemented at several ports in Malaysia.
The Megaport Initiative is targeted for further expansion this year.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia had supported and endorsed last year the IAEA Codes of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and the Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.
"On this aspect, Malaysia remains fully committed to implementing the IAEA Information Circular on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities," he said.
Malaysia also continued to work with the IAEA and with partner countries, both bilaterally and regionally, to increase training and awareness and capacity building, both for Malaysians and those from other countries, he said.

Malaysia also hosted several international, regional and bilateral capacity building programmes related to nuclear safety and security, he said and added that Malaysia's Nuclear Security Support Centre (NSSC), recognised by the IAEA, also served as a regional training centre.
Malaysia has benefited from cooperation with countries across the globe, including Canada, Japan, Germany and the United States as well as the European Commission, he said.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia was heading towards an expansion of peaceful applications of nuclear technology in traditional non-power sectors in industry, and, as such, the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation (MNPC) was established last year to function as the Nuclear Energy Programme Implementing Organisation (NEPIO).
He said Malaysia wanted to ensure safe, secure and peaceful utilisation of the nuclear technology. He also said that Malaysia hoped that one day the world would be totally free from any form of nuclear weapons.

On the safe use of nuclear energy, Muhyiddin said the preparation towards that should be undertaken by taking into account the fact that Malaysia might have no option when oil sources decrease.
He said Malaysia was fortunate that it could make use of alternative sources of energy such as solar, hydro and wind which had yet to be fully exploited.
Nuclear experts could play a role by explaining and creating awareness on nuclear technology, beginning at the level of students and through community programmes.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia had been involved for more than 30 years in nuclear technology research for peaceful purposes, and has 300 experts in the field.
Asked about the Lynas issue, he said the government and independent experts had provided explanations but certain quarters including the opposition political parties refused to understand the issue.
"This will serve as a lesson for the future when we have to manage matters pertaining to nuclear energy for better understanding and acceptance by the people," he said. –Bernama

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Last Enriched Uranium Rumbles Out of Ukraine

KIEV (Reuters) - A consignment of enriched uranium - enough to make a nuclear weapon, according to a U.S. expert - rumbled out of a Ukrainian railway depot late on Saturday bound for Russia, a move designed to coincide with an international summit on nuclear security.

Workers place a container with spent highly-enriched uranium on a train near Kiev
Spent highly enriched uranium being loaded into the containers
The 19 kilograms (42 pounds) of spent highly enriched uranium, loaded in four containers onto rail carriers in a high-security operation, was the last such material to be removed from the ex-Soviet republic under a two-year programme with the United States and Russia.

Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea on March 26-27
The completion of the programme was timed to raise the curtain on a March 26-27 nuclear security summit in Seoul, South Korea, to be attended by leaders from 50 countries including U.S. President Barack Obama and Ukraine's Viktor Yanukovich.

The summit will focus on measures to protect nuclear materials and facilities and to prevent illicit trafficking.
"What you are seeing here is enough material to make one nuclear weapon," Andrew Bieniawski, director of the Global Reduction Threat Initiative of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, told Reuters as the containers were loaded under guard at the depot outside Kiev.

Altogether 200 kilograms of weapons-grade material have been removed from Ukraine and sent back to Russia - the originating country - since May 2010.

The material will be delivered to the Mayak reprocessing nuclear facility in Russia's Ural mountains - a rail journey of about five days from Kiev.

Spent fuel rods being stored safely at the Mayak nuclear reprocessing plant

Bieniawski said similar material still had to be removed from NATO allies Czech republic and Hungary, and Vietnam, under programmes with the United States over the next four years.
"Ukraine is the model for future shipments ... We can say the world is safer. If you remove this material you make a country permanently safer because terrorists cannot acquire nuclear material," he said.
The enriched uranium shipped out on Saturday had been used in a reactor at a nuclear research facility in Kiev.
The Seoul conference will provide a rare opportunity for Yanukovich to rub shoulders with Obama and other Western leaders.
He has been left out in the cold by several European Union leaders at international gatherings and chastised by the United States because of the jailing of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on charges of abuse-of-office which Western governments say were politically motivated.

Copyright © 2012 Reuters

~Taken from TheStar on 25/3/2012

Nuclear Marine Propulsion

Nuclear marine propulsion is propulsion of a ship by a nuclear reactor. Naval nuclear propulsion is propulsion that specifically refers to naval warships (see Nuclear navy). Only a very few experimental civil nuclear ships have been built; the elimination of fossil fuel has not outweighed the technical, economic and political difficulties of this application of nuclear power.

Operation of a civil or naval ship power plant is similar to land-based nuclear power reactors. A sustained nuclear reaction in the reactor produces heat that is used to boil water. The resulting steam spins a turbine. The turbine shaft may be coupled through a gearbox speed reducer to the ship's propeller, or in a turbo-electric drive system may operate a generator that supplies electric power to motors connected to the propellers.

The Russian, U.S. and British navies rely on steam turbine propulsion, while the French and Chinese ships use the turbine to generate electricity for propulsion (turbo-electric propulsion). Most nuclear submarines have a single reactor, but Russian submarines and the USS Triton had two. Most American aircraft carriers are powered by two reactors, but theUSS Enterprise has eight. The majority of marine reactors are of the pressurized water type, although the US and Soviet navies have designed warships powered with liquid metal cooled reactors.

USS Ronald Reagan Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier
Nuclear power for propulsion has several operating and logistic characteristics that appeal to the designers of ships for both civil and military purposes. A small amount of nuclear fuel can provide energy equivalent to millions of times its weight in coal or oil. It is quite practical to build a reactor which will operate a vessel for several years without refuelling. Although the cost of manufacturing nuclear fuel elements is high, the overall cost of fuel is much lower than that of the amount of fossil fuel required to generate the same amount of energy. Like sailing ships, nuclear vessels are independent of the vagaries of procurement of fuel at every port. The laborious and costly process of loading and burning fuel is largely eliminated for most of the vessel's operating life. 

Because of its high power density and the elimination of the need for large fuel bunkers, a nuclear propulsion plant allows more space for paying cargo. It also allows a vessel to operate at higher speeds for years without refuelling. This improves the speed and efficiency of ocean-going commerce. Military vessels, such as submarines and aircraft carriers, can travel at high speeds over vast distances, limited only by the endurance of their crews. Arctic vessels can operate for months, independent of fuel supplies.

Nuclear reactors require no oxygen for combustion and emit no exhaust gas. This is a minor benefit for surface vessels, eliminating the ducts, exhaust stacks and machinery needed to support the burning of fossil fuels. For submersible vessels this is the single, most important advantage. With nuclear power, a submarine can be propelled at speeds comparable to those of surface ships for protracted periods, limited only by crew endurance instead of fuel supply or battery capacity. Although not a motivation for the original development of maritime nuclear power, environmental concerns have sparked increased interest on the part of some who are concerned about effects of CO2, SO2 and other air pollutants emitted by cargo ships. (For economic reasons, ships operate on the lowest-quality fuel their engines can tolerate, resulting in very high emissions of pollutants.

Marine-type Reactor
Marine-type reactors differ from land-based commercial electric power reactors in several respects. While land-based reactors in nuclear power plants produce thousands of megawatts of power, a typical marine propulsion reactor produces no more than a few hundred megawatts. Space considerations dictate that a marine reactor must be physically small, so it must generate higher power per unit of space. This means its components are subject to greater stresses than those of a land-based reactor. Its mechanical systems must operate flawlessly under the adverse conditions encountered at sea, including vibration and the pitching and rolling of a ship operating in rough seas. Reactor shutdown mechanisms cannot rely on gravity to drop control rods into place as in a land-based reactor that always remains upright. Salt water corrosion is an additional problem that complicates maintenance.

The fuel in a seagoing reactor is typically more highly enriched (i.e., contains a higher concentration of U235 vs. U238) than that used in a land-based nuclear power plant. Some marine reactors run on relatively low-enriched uranium (requiring frequent refueling). Others run on highly enriched uranium, varying from from 20% U235, to the over 96% U235 found in U.S. submarines, in which the resulting smaller core is quieter in operation (a big advantage to a submarine). Using more-highly enriched fuel also increases the reactor's power density and extends the usable life of the nuclear fuel load, but is more expensive and a greater risk to nuclear proliferation than less-highly enriched fuel

Russian Nuclear Powered Submarine

A marine nuclear propulsion plant must be designed to be highly reliable and self sufficient, requiring minimal maintenance and repairs, which might have to be undertaken many thousands of miles from its home port. One of the technical difficulties in designing fuel elements for a seagoing nuclear reactor is the creation of fuel elements which will withstand a large amount of radiation damage. Fuel elements may crack over time and gas bubbles may form. The fuel used in marine reactors is a metal-zirconium alloy rather than the ceramic UO2 (uranium oxide) often used in land-based reactors. Marine reactors are designed for long core life, enabled by the relatively high enrichment of the uranium and by incorporating a "burnable poison" in the fuel elements, which is slowly depleted as the fuel elements age and become less reactive. The gradual dissipation of the "nuclear poison" increases the reactivity of the core to compensate for the lessening reactivity of the aging fuel elements, thereby lengthening the usable life of the fuel. The life of the compact reactor pressure vessel is extended by providing an internal neutron shield, which reduces the damage to the steel from constant bombardment by neutrons.

Friday, 23 March 2012

What Can The IAEA & Nuclear Technologies Do For You? Isotopic & Nuclear Techniques For Improved Agricultural Water Management

Agriculture currently accounts for about 70% of global freshwater use and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) forecasts that, by 2050, global water requirements for agriculture will increase by 50% in order to meet the increased food demands of a growing population. With an increasing scarcity of freshwater, due to indiscriminate use and a changing climate with extreme weather events of droughts and flooding, there is an urgent need to improve the management of this resource. Isotopic and nuclear techniques are useful and effective tools to assess the soil water status, particularly in the immediate vicinity of crop roots, to trace soil water movement and to identify hot spots of land degradation that deliver sediments and affect downstream water quality. Such information assists in developing strategies for sustainable agricultural water management.

Water scarcity in Africa

Nuclear techniques for improved water use efficiency

Nuclear and isotopic techniques play an important and sometimes unique role in providing information essential to developing strategies aimed at improving agricultural water use efficiency, and hence in providing solutions to mitigate the increasing water scarcity. 

Soil moisture neutron probe used in agriculture

  • The soil moisture neutron probe (SMNP) is ideal for the measurement of soil water in the immediate vicinity of the crop roots, and providing accurate data on the accessibility to the crop of available water to establish optimal irrigation schedules. The SMNP is currently the most suitable instrument to accurately measure soil moisture under saline conditions. It is also widely used to calibrate conventional moisture sensors for direct use in farmers’ fields. 

  • Both oxygen and hydrogen are components of water. The use of the isotopic signatures of oxygen (18O) and hydrogen (2H) in water vapour taken from field crops can facilitate the quantification of crop water uptake, i.e. plant transpiration, and water lost through soil evaporation. It therefore provides information on factors affecting transpiration and evaporation, essential for improving the water use efficiency of crops.

  • Carbon (C) is an important building component of plants. Green plants assimilate carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is composed of two stable isotopes, the less abundant 13C and the lighter 12C. During photosynthesis the plant discriminates against the heavier isotope in favour of the lighter one. The extent of this discrimination depends on environmental factors, such as water availability and salts in the soil. The variation in the relative abundance of the carbon isotopes can therefore be used as a surrogate marker of water stress, water use efficiency and crop tolerance to drought and salinity.

Nuclear techniques for enhanced water quality

Pokok Padi Pada Hari Menuai
Good water means Good crops!

Traditional and recently developed isotopic techniques based on the use of stable isotopes, fallout radionuclides of caesium (Cs), lead (Pb) and beryllium (Be), and compound specific isotope analyses assist in determining agricultural activities that threaten water quality and in identifying hot spots of land degradation in agricultural landscapes.

  • 15N isotope tools are used to trace the movement of applied 15N-labelled nitrogen (N) fertilisers in soils, crops and water. Information on this movement is essential to identifying factors that potentially affect nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency and water quality in agricultural landscapes in order to improve farming practices.

  • Fallout radionuclides, such as caesium-137 (137Cs), lead-210 (210Pb) and beryllium-7 (7Be), assist in 
    • Establishing changes in soil redistribution patterns and rates in large catchment areas and in 
    • Evaluating the efficiency of soil conservation measures in controlling soil erosion and water quality.

  • Variations in the carbon-13 stable isotope (13C) signatures in specific plant components and in soils (Compound Specific Isotope Analyses) are used to identify areas of land degradation and sources of water pollution in the agricultural landscape, and hence provide essential data to develop effective soil conservation strategies to protect water quality.

For the continuation of resources

~taken from IAEA factsheet on Nuclear Technology on water