Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reactors shut after checks reveal 'minor issues'

Reactors shut after checks reveal 'minor issues'
Dungeness B power station
Electricty generation at Dungeness B nuclear power station is at a standstill after routine work revealed repairs were needed to steel reactor supports.

Three-yearly maintenance checks resulted in the first reactor station being out of action for several weeks.

Problems with the steel supports were noticed and when the second reactor was checked, similar safety concerns were raised and that had to be shut down as well.

Work has also been carried out on one reactor to strengthen fuel plugs.

A spokeswoman for British Energy, which runs the power station, said “There are no safety implications – it is a question of dealing with minor issues before they become serious.

“One of the reactors was shut down as standard procedure, but repairs to the plugs took longer than originally thought.

“The other was then shut down to enable work to be carried out on the supports.

“It is unusual for both reactors to be shut down at the same time and no electricity to be generated at all.”

The company admitted it had taken a “commercial hit” because of the works.

“We have no electricity being produced and we also have to pay for the repair work,” said the spokeswoman.

“Also we have contracts with customers to supply power and so we have to buy supplies in – and we are charged a premium rate.

“We cannot say when the reactors will be back online, but it’s fair to say shortly. I think we are on the home strait.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

New round of IAEA-Iran nuclear talks kicks off

New round of IAEA-Iran nuclear talks kicks off
Tehran, Aug 18, IRNA

The United Nations nuclear watchdog's deputy director general, Olli Heinonen, held talks with senior Iranian nuclear officials on Monday.

Deputy Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Mohammad Saeedi and Iran's Permanent Ambassador to IAEA Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh were also present in the meeting.

Heinonen, arrived in Tehran early Monday upon an invitation of the IAEO.

Heinonen's previous talks with Iranian officials were held during his two-day visit to from August 7-8.

He had described his talks with senior Iranian officials as "constructive".

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei is due to present a report on Iran's nuclear program and the country's cooperation with the agency to the IAEA's Board of Governors in early September.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Russia considers nuclear missiles for Syria, Mediterranean, Baltic

Russia considers nuclear missiles for Syria, Mediterranean, Baltic

DEBKAfile Special Report

August 17, 2008, 9:25 AM (GMT+02:00)

Russia's nuclear-capable Iskandar missile

Russia’s nuclear-capable Iskandar missile

DEBKAfile’s military sources report Moscow’s planned retaliation for America’s missile interceptors in Poland and US-Israeli military aid to Georgia may come in the form of installing Iskandar surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

Russian Baltic and Middle East warships, submarines and long-range bombers may be armed with nuclear warheads, according to Sunday newspapers in Europe.

In Georgia, Russian troops and tanks advanced to within 30 km of Tbilisi Saturday, Aug. 15. A Russian general said Sunday they had started pulling out after president Dimitry Medvedev signed the ceasefire agreement with Georgia and president George W. Bush called again for an immediate withdrawal.

After routing Georgia over the breakaway enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow appears to be eying Poland, the Middle East, and possibly Ukraine, as the main arenas for its reprisals.

One plan on the table in Moscow, DEBKAfile’s sources report, is the establishment of big Russian military, naval and air bases in Syria and the release of advanced weapons systems withheld until now to Iran (the S-300 air-missile defense system) and Syria (the nuclear-capable 200 km-range Iskandar surface missile).

Shortly before the Georgian conflict flared, Moscow promised Washington not to let Iran and Syria have these sophisticated pieces of hardware.

The Iskander’s cruise attributes make its launch and trajectory extremely hard to detect and intercept. If this missile reaches Syria, Israel will have to revamp its anti-missile defense array and Air Force assault plans for the third time in two years, as it constitutes a threat which transcends all its defensive red lines.

Moscow’s war planners know this and are therefore considering new sea and air bases in Syria as sites for the Iskander missiles. Russia would thus keep the missiles under its hand and make sure they were not transferred to Iran. At the same time, Syrian crews would be trained in their operation.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report Syrian president Bashar Assad will be invited to Moscow soon to finalize these plans in detail.

Military spokesmen in Moscow said Saturday and Sunday that Russian military planners to started redesigning the nation’s strategic plans for a fitting response to America’s decision to install 10 missile interceptors in Poland and the war developments in Georgia.

The chairman of the Israeli Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee, Tzahi Hanegbi, spoke out strongly Sunday, Aug. 17, against treasury plans to slash the defense budget. He warned that the military faced grave confrontations in the coming year - possibly on several fronts.