The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: How US 'second line of defence' tackles nuclear threat
‘The leaked US cables reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack. The leaked cables tell hair-raising tales of casks of uranium found in wicker baskets in Burundi, a retired Russian general offering to sell "uranium plates" in Portugal, and a radioactive Armenian car on the Georgian border. As part of what the US government calls its "second line of defence", it is America's diplomatic corps who are called out in the middle of the night when radiation detectors goes off on a border crossing or smugglers turn up with fissile or radioactive materials in his pocket. Each time that happens, and UN data suggests it has happened about 500 times in the past 15 years, it means the "first line of defence" has already been breached. The fissile material (the fuel for a nuclear warhead) or radioactive isotopes (which emit harmful radiation), have already been stolen from their source. Three months after taking office, Barack Obama vowed to secure all the world's vulnerable nuclear stocks within four years in a global drive to pre-empt nuclear terrorism. But a cash-strapped Congress has yet to do approve any increase in funding for the ambitious project and Obama's deadline looks almost certain to be missed. Meanwhile, from Africa to the former Soviet Union, there are signs it may already be too late.’

The Guardian: US embassy cables: Yemen sounds alarm over radioactive materials
‘1. (S) The lone security guard standing watch at Yemen's main radioactive materials storage facility was removed from his post on December 30, 2009, according toXXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX. The only closed-circuit television security camera monitoring the facility broke six months ago and was never fixed, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX. The facility XXXXXXXXXXXX holds various radioactive materials, small amounts of which are used by local universities for agricultural research, by a Sana'a hospital, and by international oilfield services companies for well-logging equipment spread out across the country. "Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen's nuclear material," a worried XXXXXXXXXXXX told EconOff. 2. (S) Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the Ambassador on January 7 that no radioactive material was currently stored in Sana'a and that all "radioactive waste" was shipped to Syria. XXXXXXXXXXXX 3. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX told EconOff that XXXXXXXXXXXX the XXXXXXXXXXXX was moved late on January 7 from the largely unsecured NAEC facility XXXXXXXXXXXX implored the U.S. to help convince the ROYG to remove all materials from the country until they can be better secured, or immediately improve security measures at the NAEC facility. XXXXXXXXXXXX’

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Nuclear industry in midst of skills crisis
OLKILUOTO, Finland — On a flat, low-lying island nestled in crisp waters off the west coast of Finland, the first nuclear power plant ordered in Western Europe since 1986 is inching towards start-up. More than 4,000 builders and engineers are at work on the sprawling Olkiluoto 3 project, whose turbine hall is so cavernous it could house two Boeing 747 jets stacked on top of each other. When it is dark, which in winter is most of the day, enormous spotlights throw into focus scores of scaffolding towers and the red hauling equipment that encircle the grey, unfinished reactor building. The heavy reactor vessel, made to withstand temperatures over 350 degrees Celsius, has been gingerly lifted into place by two cranes. Inside the building, a dozen workers carrying a single pipe across their shoulders create a human caterpillar that carefully wends its way through tarpaulin-covered tunnels lit by lamps and chinks of daylight. Walking through the expansive complex, still missing a domed cover on the reactor building, it takes a while to make out a peculiar but important detail: Many of the engineers and building experts working here are in their late 50s and early 60s; some are in their 30s, but few are in between. There's a hole in the nuclear workforce, not just in Finland but across the Western world. For the moment, the operator of the Olkiluoto 3 plant, power utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), is getting by with its most experienced staff. As those workers retire, though, the skills shortage could become a crisis.

Malaysiakini: Nuclear power plant - build it in Putrajaya
‘Godflesh: The government can't even ensure the quality of roads, bridges and buildings, now they want to go nuclear. While roads and buildings merely collapse, one just has to look at the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the devastation it caused from mismanagement and poor design. Hopefully Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin is aware of this. Alexius: I am all for the power plant if the government leads by example by building the plant in Putrajaya, preferably next to the PM's office or residence and they can also build the other one near minister Peter Chin's residence. If the plants are so safe, this should not be a problem, right? Imma Bee: The decision to use nuclear energy cannot be taken lightly as its impact on lives can be very devastating in the event of any mishap - however remote that may be - particularly to those living or working near such reactor. A public referendum must be positively obtained in such an undertaking before it is implemented due to its ramifications in the event of a disaster. In Malaysia's case, there is still no imminent energy shortage or urgency, and the cost of alternative renewable energy such as solar and wind is reducing exponentially by the day with increasing worldwide usage.’

Hindustan Times: Jaitapur - ‘Ramesh a chameleon’
‘Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray called Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh a chameleon for his “flip-flop” while clearing the Jaitapur nuclear power plant project. “The environment minister has changed his stand on the Jaitapur power plant like a chameleon,” Thackeray told journalists on Sunday. Residents from the Jaitapur-Madban belt and the Konkan Bachao Samiti had expressed concerns over the impact of the nuclear power plant on the environment and the health hazards it could pose. Those opposing the project, including the Sena, say Ramesh has still not cleared these apprehensions before giving the project a green go-ahead. Uddhav said the Sena will continue to oppose the project. Earlier in the day, he held a meeting with villagers from the region, who are protesting against the project.’

Bloomberg: Medvedev Joins Parade to India Chasing Weapons, Nuclear Deals
‘Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will seek arms and nuclear-power contracts during an Indian visit starting today that follows trips by U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Medvedev’s two-day trip comes after Sarkozy spent four days in India earlier this month and Obama visited in November to promote trade. He will arrive with an $11 billion tender for 126 warplanes and as much as $100 billion in nuclear-power contracts up for grabs. Wen led a delegation that signed $16 billion of deals during a trip that ended Dec. 17. India, Russia’s top arms customer, has tripled its defense budget over the last decade as it looks beyond a traditional military rivalry with Pakistan to counter China’s rising power. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spearheaded Russia’s efforts to fend off competition from the U.S. and Europe. Medvedev’s delegation will include Mikhail Pogosyan, Moscow-based MiG’s chief executive officer, Sergei Kiriyenko, the CEO of Moscow-based Rosatom, Sergei Prikhodko, the president’s foreign policy aide, told reporters in Moscow on Dec. 17. Sergei Chemezov, head of Moscow-based Russian Technologies Corp., a holding that includes Rosoboronexport, the state arms exporter, will also accompany Medvedev. Nuclear energy will be discussed “in detail” during the trip and the two countries will sign a cooperation agreement to open the door for future deals, Prikhodko said.’

PRWeb: EDF Confirm Nuclear Life Extensions Across Their Fleet
‘After announcements earlier this year from EDF stating that they would also be looking at 60 year lifetimes for their current fleet in France, it is clear that they plan to steamroller ahead with their life extensions and subsequent maintenance tasks. The World Nuclear Association states on their website that this proposed work “would involve replacement of all steam generators (3 in each 900 MWe reactor, 4 in each 1300 MWe unit) and other refurbishment, costing EUR 400-600 million per unit to take them beyond 40 years.” With utilities across Europe assessing the possibility and business case of life extensions and consequent maintenance tasks, this is going to mean huge spends for nuclear operators as well as big business for contractors and vendors.’