[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Sarkozy pushes nuclear energy in Mideast

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Tue Jan 22 20:17:36 CST 2008


Sarkozy pushes nuclear energy in Mideast
Taipower plans to send spent nuclear fuel to France for processing
What different countries do with nuclear waste
EDF mulls UK's Sellafield as site for nuclear reactor - report
EU seeking greener energy but nuclear option fuels dissent

Sarkozy pushes nuclear energy in Mideast

PARIS (The Washington Post) - For French President Nicolas Sarkozy, 
nuclear reactors are the bridge between the West and the Islamic 

Currently the world´s most aggressive salesman for nuclear power, 
Sarkozy has visited multiple Muslim states in the last six weeks - 
including the globe´s biggest oil producers - to peddle French 
nuclear technology or make multibillion-dollar deals.

"Why should Arab countries be deprived of the energy of the future?" 
Sarkozy asked in an interview with al-Jazeera TV during a Middle East 
tour this past week. "Terrorism flourishes in the embrace of despair 
and backwardness. We want to help Arab countries develop, and we want 
to upgrade the economies of the 21st century."

Since December, Sarkozy has signed deals with or offered nuclear 
technical advice to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, 
Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.

He is attempting to promote a global revival of the nuclear industry 
at a time of record-breaking energy prices and strong international 
concern over global warming. Nuclear technology does not contribute 
directly to global warming because it does not burn fuel or emit 
greenhouse gases.

Sarkozy also describes the contracts as a way to boost the French 
economy and burnish his country´s flagging technological and 
diplomatic image abroad. The companies that develop and build the 
nuclear power plants are owned primarily by the French government.

France has long been a world leader in nuclear power, currently 
relying on it for 80 percent of electricity needs. But the "for sale" 
sign that Sarkozy has hung on French nuclear technology has alarmed 
critics who say nuclear proliferation could make an already volatile 
Middle East more dangerous.

"The countries where France is planning to build new plants are 
mostly nondemocratic regimes or dictatorships," said Stephane Lhomme, 
spokesman for Exit Nuclear Network, a French-based umbrella group of 
anti-nuclear associations. "The main concern is not that an Islamic 
country ends up with the atomic bomb; the main risk is the 
possibility of making dirty bombs with nuclear material."

U.A.E. Foreign Affairs Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan 
responded to similar criticism this past week after the emirates 
signed a deal with France to build two third-generation nuclear 

"The U.A.E. is conducting wide consultations to create a responsible 
framework for the evaluation and possible implementation of a 
peaceful nuclear program, ensuring compliance with the highest 
standards of nonproliferation, safety and security," he said.

France´s agreement to sell nuclear technology to Libyan leader 
Moammar Gadhafi has proved the most controversial of the deals. "The 
risk of proliferation goes up with every country that uses nuclear 
energy," Gernot Erler, Germany´s energy minister, said after news of 
the arrangement with Libya.

Sarkozy has countered that the Libyan leader´s decision in 2003 to 
halt his country´s weapons programs and terrorist activity deserved 
to be rewarded and that the agreement could be an inducement to rogue 
countries to follow suit.

The nuclear pacts with Arab countries are part of Sarkozy´s pet 
project to create an informal Mediterranean cooperation council. But 
he said he is willing to "help any country which wants to acquire 
civilian nuclear power."

Already he is pursuing two of the hottest nuclear markets in the 
world - China and India. Late last year, France inked a multibillion-
dollar deal to build two reactors in southern China, and Sarkozy is 
hoping to sign a nuclear energy accord with India during a visit this 
month. Argentina, Chile, Vietnam and Indonesia also are reportedly 
discussing the possibility of buying French-designed reactors.

But it is his agreements with the Middle East that have drawn the 
most attention. "This is the first time an intergovernmental nuclear 
accord of this importance has been signed in the Gulf, and it is a 
very big development," said Anne Lauvergeon, who heads France´s 
nuclear giant, Areva. The company will help build the two reactors in 
Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest of the seven emirates.

She said the contracts will be worth billions of dollars but declined 
to cite a specific amount.

Sarkozy´s sales trip came just after the Gulf Cooperation Council, a 
political and economic alliance of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, 
Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., announced that it planned to have a 
joint nuclear program operational by 2025.

With oil prices hitting record levels - bouncing up to $100 a barrel 
last month before settling at the current $90 level - many of the 
wealthy Arab oil exporters are enjoying unprecedented economic 
development. That is straining power grids and stretching capacities 
for desalinated water in many of the desert Gulf states.

Those rapidly expanding energy demands, coupled with warnings that 
oil reserves could be depleted in four to five decades, have prompted 
the oil-rich states to consider nuclear power alternatives.

"Forty years from now there will be no oil left, and in 100 years, no 
more gas," Sarkozy told reporters on the trip, adding that he 
believes nuclear power will be the replacement. "It is the energy of 
the future."

But some analysts say that nuclear development is likely to heighten 
military tensions and drive a regional arms race. Already the 
advanced state of Iran´s civilian energy programs have generated 
allegations by the United States, France and others that Iran aspires 
to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

"If you tell Arab nations they are not allowed civilian nuclear power 
because they are Arab, you give an extraordinary bonus to Iran, which 
has made that its whole argument," Sarkozy said on the recent Middle 
Eastern trip.

Taipower plans to send spent nuclear fuel to France for processing

Taipei - The Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) plans to send spent nuclear 
fuel to France for re-processing, a company official said on Monday. 
However, the shipment is still being evaluated because the 
transportation of nuclear fuel is a sensitive issue, Tsai Hsien-hsiu, 
head of Taipower's nuclear fuel management department, said.

"Sending the spent fuel to France for reprocessing is an alternative, 
but we need approval from higher authorities. We also need approval 
from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United States 
since we have signed a tri-partite nuclear safeguard agreement with 
them," Tsai said.

"The storage pools at our No 1 and No 2 nuclear power plants will be 
filled up by 2009 and 2015, so we must move the spent fuel out of the 
storage pools for dry storage, or send it to France for 
reprocessing," he said.

The No 1 and No 2 nuclear power plants went into operation in 1978 
and 1981 respectively.

On Sunday, the China Times daily reported that French nuclear power 
group AREVA has applied to Taiwan to help the state-run Taipower re-
process spent nuclear fuel.

The re-processing can reduce the quantity of the spent fuel by about 
97 per cent. The remainder, a plutonium fuel called mixed oxide 
(MOX), will be sent back to Taipower to be used as fuel in nuclear 

As uranium and plutonium can be used for making nuclear weapons, 
Taiwan's send the nuclear fuel to France may trigger protests from 
environmental protection groups, the China Times said.

Taiwan has three nuclear power plants and plans to build the fourth.

The No 1 and No 2 nuclear power plants each have two storage pools 
for spent nuclear fuel, storing a total of 11,676 fuel bundles.

However, this storage - called wet storage - is only temporary.

The spent nuclear fuel must eventually be stored on the ground - 
stored in metal canisters encased with concrete - in a method called 
dry storage, or be re-processed into mixed oxide so that the 
recovered uranium and plutonium can be used for power generation 

Taipower has not found a place for dry storage yet, so it is 
considering sending spent nuclear fuel abroad for reprocessing.

Currently France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan and China have 
the capability to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, but only France, the 
United Kingdom and Russia provide commercial reprocessing service to 
foreign countries.

What different countries do with nuclear waste

(AP) - Countries around the world are starting, expanding or reviving 
nuclear power programs. Here´s a look at how various nations handle 
the radioactive waste:

UNITED STATES: The country with the most nuclear reactors, more than 
120 spread out over 39 states, has no central system for dealing with 
waste. Plans for a long-term repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada 
have stalled for 25 years. For now waste is stored in dry casks and 
cooling pools at reactor sites. The U.S. government shuns waste 
reprocessing because of risks it could lead to nuclear weapons 
proliferation. A push by the Bush administration for a new 
reprocessing method is likely to stall pending November elections.

FRANCE: France, more dependent on atomic energy than any country, 
recycles most of its nuclear fuel - and fuel from several other 
countries as well. French researchers are conducting experiments in 
an underground lab beneath Champagne country toward building a long-
term storage facility. Meanwhile, it "vitrifies" its deadliest waste, 
turning it into glass to make it more stable, and stores it in 
shallow underground canisters.

Choic Properties

RUSSIA: In Russia, home of the world´s largest nuclear waste site, 
reprocessing is common. International environmental groups complain 
of poor safety records and oversight at reprocessing plants. 
Greenpeace has accused western European countries of secretly and 
illicitly shipping nuclear waste to Russia over several years.

FINLAND: Finland may become the first country to build a deep earth 
repository. The government has approved a long-term storage site, 
though it is not expected to be operational until after the country 
finishes building the world´s first "third-generation" reactor, 
expected in 2011.

TAIWAN: Taiwan, which has three plants and is building a fourth, 
sought to build long-term waste sites in North Korea and the Marshall 
Islands but was blocked by protests. Taiwan has stored 100,000 
barrels of nuclear waste on a tiny island but protests from an 
aboriginal group are forcing it to move the waste to another site, as 
yet unchosen, by 2013. 

EDF mulls UK's Sellafield as site for nuclear reactor - report

PARIS (Thomson Financial) - The Sellafield nuclear engineering 
complex in north western England is being considered as the site for 
a new nuclear reactor by EDF, The Times reported, without naming its 

Engineering group Amec is likely to work with EDF if Sellafield is 
chosen after a round of site investigations, which includes a 
government strategic site study, the report said.

Amec has been setting out the case for new nuclear reactors at 
Sellafield in Cumbria to a group of council, regional development and 
business interests to win round public opinion, according to the 

Nuclear power has been part of the Cumbrian economy since 1947, when 
work began on Britain's first reactors at the site, initially called 
Windscale. The industry was plunged into controversy in 1957 when 
fire closed the reactors.

The Sellafield site employs 12,000 people who work on reprocessing 
spent fuel and the decommissioning of contaminated facilities.

Without fresh investment, around 8,000 jobs are expected to go when 
fuel reprocessing ends in 2014-16, The Times said.

EU seeking greener energy but nuclear option fuels dissent

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission will on Wednesday unveil 
detailed plans to slash greenhouse gases by 2020, with the focus on 
renewable fuels and emissions trading, despite French attempts to 
push the nuclear option.

France has recently been joined by Britain at the forefront of the 
pro-nuclear lobby, extolling it as a more reliable, less polluting 
fuel supply which cuts down on Europe's huge dependence on Russia and 
the Middle East for increasingly scarce and expensive fossil fuels.

However the anti-nuclear camp has only to mention the nuclear plant 
disasters of Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), plus the 
long-term issue of radioactive waste storage, to raise the public 
alarm levels.

Nuclear power is certainly not among the EU's key list of clean, 
renewable energy sources central to Wednesday's package.

Last year EU leaders agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 
percent by 2020, against 1990 levels in a bid to tackle global 

The leaders also set a binding target for renewable energy -- wind, 
wave, solar -- to provide 20 percent of Europe's needs by 2020, 
compared to 8.5 percent currently.

The Commission will this week set out individual goals for the 27 
member states in order to achieve the overall cuts, including 
proposals to bolster emissions trading.

France, which derives over 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear 
energy, has in the past pleaded in vain for quotas to be drawn up for 
"low carbon emitting energies" -- a category in which nuclear power 
could be front and centre.

Paris is not alone in blowing the nuclear trumpet. According to a 
PricewaterhouseCoopers report European utilities, including Germany's 
E.ON as well as France's EDF, rank nuclear as the most likely 
technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the energy 
sector by 2017.

Industry officials are promoting third-generation pressurized water 
reactors which provide greater energy, improved security and reduced 
waste compared to earlier versions of nuclear reactors.

Earlier this month the British government approved a new generation 
of nuclear power stations, against a backdrop of oil prices hitting 
100 dollars a barrel.

"This announcement is aimed at securing energy supplies as well as 
tackling climate change," a British department for business spokesman 
told AFP.

Britain is looking beyond 2020 and is seeking to "decarbonise our 
energy sources" by 2050, he added.

Britain's governing Labour Party had called nuclear power an 
"unattractive" option as late as 2003. Environmental campaigners 
Greenpeace have certainly not changed their tune.

"The conclusion we draw is that, for climate change, nuclear power 
does too little, too late against too high costs," Greenpeace's EU 
policy campaigner on nuclear issues, Jan Haverkamb, told AFP.

He added that another by-product of a nuclear policy was that 
countries lose the incentive to seek alternative solutions to the 
environmental problem.

Last September Brussels set up a reflection group on nuclear energy. 
However a senior official with the European Commission -- the EU's 
executive arm -- believes that broad agreement within the EU on the 
merits of nuclear energy was not a realistic prospect for decades to 

While French President Nicolas Sarkozy has described nuclear power as 
the "energy of the future" and Britain has renewed its enthusiasm, 
Germany has decided to shut down all its reactors by 2020 while Italy 
abandoned nuclear power in 1987.

Currently nuclear power produces around a third of Europe's 
electricity, with 15 of the 27 member states producing it.

"It is not the EU's role to decide if they (EU nations) should or 
should not use nuclear power," EU Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso 
said last year.

Many agree that, regardless of what the scientists say, the nuclear 
decision remains largely political and economic rather than 

Greenpeace's Haverkamb also stresses the security aspect, citing the 
global threat of nuclear arms proliferation.

"In all the politically unstable areas of the world proliferation is 
a real concern... North Korea and Iran got (capability to build the 
bomb) on the back of civil nuclear technology".

That's certainly not an accusation that can be levelled at wind 
turbines or solar panels, he adds.

Sander C. Perle
Mirion Technologies, Inc., Dosimetry Service Division
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

Global Dosimetry: http://www.dosimetry.com/
Mirion Technologies: http://www.mirion.com/

More information about the RadSafe mailing list