Bits From Abroad (March 2011)

April 2011

Iran has told atomic inspectors that it has run into a serious problem at the newly completed Bushehr reactor, and is to unload its nuclear fuel.  It was supposed to start feeding electricity into the national grid this month.  Iran gave no reason for the unexpected fuel unloading, but it has previously admitted that the Stuxnet computer worm infected the reactor.  

David Cameron and William Hague are understood to be unhappy about the Defence Secretary’s hawkish statements on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Sources said Mr Cameron was worried that high-profile warnings about the Iranian nuclear programme could strengthen the domestic position of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime by lending it credibility. Telegraph 28.2 

For the first time since 2008, Syria has agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit a nuclear site.

American intelligence agencies believe that Pakistan now has over 100 deployed nuclear weapons, an increase of nearly 40 per cent in two years.  It is about to overtake Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power, behind only the United States, Russia, France and China.  The Pakistan military says it needs more nuclear weapons because of India’s military conventional superiority.

 The Governor of Tokyo has again said that Japan should develop nuclear weapons, as its enemies and near neighbours, China, North Korea and Russia, have them.

 

The Obama administration has asked that the 2012 budget should include about $216 billion for replacements of the land, air, and sea based components of its nuclear arsenal.  The funding will honour the promise given to the Republicans, in return for their support for the ratification last December of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia. It asks for: A new generation of submarines capable of firing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles; next-generation strategic bomber; a successor to the Minuteman 3 Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles.

Mining has been banned in the Grand Canyon National Park since President Roosevelt declared it a national monument in 1908.  But in the last eight years, there have been 2,215 claims to prospect, mostly for uranium.