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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 21, 2007) As we mentioned very briefly in the last issue, Myanmar signed a contract with Russia for a nuclear research centre. Regional rival Thailand immediately responded and meanwhile if we have to believe the media-reports, it looks as if the two countries are on the brink of constructing their first nuclear power plant. According to Thailand 's Minister of Energy Amaranand the 4000MW nuclear power plant will be finished in 2020 but unclear until now is if there is a contract signed. The nuclear power plant is expected to cost 4.5 billion Euro.

(657.5809) Laka Foundation - Thailand is only one of many countries announcing to go 'the nuclear path'. It almost seems that every selfrespected government announces such plans, even unlikely candidates as Nigeria or Morocco or Myanmar (see related article in this issue). It's very unlikely that even a majority of those plans will materialise for many reasons. Not the least important reason is that it is obviously harder to built a countries' first as the second or third nuclear power plant. And that shows: it's been a while since a country built it's first nuclear power plant, despite all those countries at one time saying they where planning to do so.

According to a June 2007 World Nuclear News factsheet ("Emerging nuclear countries") nearly twenty countries are at the moment actively considering embarking upon nuclear power programs. Italy, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Belarus, Ireland, Turkey, Iran, Gulf states, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Chile, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand are all countries where the nuclear power option is under serious consideration (although not necessarily at government level).

According to the IAEA governments need to create the environment for investment in nuclear power, including professional regulatory regime, policies on nuclear waste management and decommissioning, and involvement with international non-proliferation and insurance arrangements. Although nuclear technology can be imported, beginning a nuclear power program requires a country to have a certain high level of native skills, robust administrative structures and a regulatory body independent of government.

First power from first nuclear power plant.
Currently there are 437 nuclear power plants in operation in 31 (including Taiwan) countries (two countries abandoned nuclear energy and closed their reactors -Kazakhstan and Italy). Most of those countries constructed (or at least started construction of) their first nuclear power plant in the sixties of seventies of the last century.

Date of first power:
In the 1960's (11 countries): USA ('60); UK ('62) France, Italy ('63); Russian Federation ('64); Japan ('65); Germany ('66); Canada ('67); Netherlands, Spain ('68); Switzerland ('69) In the 1970's (13 countries): Pakistan, Sweden ('71); India, Slovak Republic ('72); Kazakhstan ('73); Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria ('74); Armenia ('76); Finland, Rep. Of Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine ('77)

This following table shows which countries produced nuclear energy for the first time after the 1970's. Only 9 countries did so, and if we look at countries who started construction of their first nuclear power station, we find that only China and Romania did so after the 1970's (so after the accident at Three Miles Island in March 1979)


Country start of construction of first n-power plant first power of first n-reactor nr of reactors (as of June 2007)
Slovenia 3-1975 10-1981 1
Brazil 5-1971 4-1982 2
Hungary 8-1974 12-1982 4
Lithuania 5-1977 12-1983 1
South Africa 7-1976 4-1984 2
Czech Republic 1-1979 2-1985 6
Mexico 10-1976 4-1989 2
China 3-1985 12-1991 11
Romania 7-1982 7-1996 1


Except from China, all those counries have not been the growthmarket the industry once hoped for. Far from it! Although some have a lot of ambitions - like South Africa for instance - it does not seems likely that the number of reactors in these countries will grow rapidly.

Reactors under construction
Important question of course on this subject is to look where reactors are currently under (active) construction. According to the IAEA PRIS database 30 reactors are being build in 13 countries. There is only one country which is building it's first reactor: Iran. And we all know the story of Iran. Construction of Busher started in 1975 (!) way back under the Shah when especially the US tried to sell nuclear technology (including a reprocessing facility) to it's close ally in the Middle East. According to PRIS the reactor will be finished November this year, but everybody knows that is very doubtful, to say the least (see box).

Sources: Telegraaf (NL), 12 June 2007 / IAEA PRIS Database / World Nuclear Industry Handbook /
Contact: Laka Foundation, Ketelhuisplein 43, 1054 RD Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel: +31 20 6168294


Has Russian nuclear fuel arrived at Bushehr?

There is a detailed account on the internet about Russia releasing the long-withheld nuclear fuel for Iran's nuclear reactor in Bushehr: 24 hours before Israel launched its new military imaging satellite Ofeq-7, in the week before the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, According to the report (on special nuclear containers were loaded on a train at JSC Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant on June 2-3. The train then headed to Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea, 2,000 km awaym where the containers were loaded aboard a Russian ship destined for Bandar Anzili, the Iranian military port on the Caspian shore. Then, still according to the Debka website, Iranian trucks transported the nuclear fuel to Bushehr, a distance of 850km, arriving June 10 or 11. However, no other sources are confirming the shipment, and one would expect some media attention for it. To the contrary: on June 19, a press report from Malaysia (Putin pays the country a visit) is citing a Russian source close to Atomstroiexport, saying: '(Construction of the plant) is held up only by financing, and that's a political question' The source added that delivery of nuclear fuel to the plant - an event that had been slated to take place in March - was no longer being discussed.
So, what's the story???
Debka-Net-Weekly, 12 June 2007 / M&C, 19 June 2007