Nuclear: Mickey Mouse energy solutionToday's big stories from the nuclear industry:

Mohamed ElBaradei tells Atomic Energy Agency he has hit ‘dead end’ with Iran

‘The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday that he had reached a ‘dead end’ in his investigation into Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme. The remark from Mohamed ElBaradei, at the agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, came as member nations prepared to vote on a key resolution condemning the Tehran regime. Mr ElBaradei, who has three days left in the job, has been dogged by criticism over his perceived weakness in dealing with Tehran and internal infighting at the agency over a reluctance to release incriminating evidence. Yesterday, however, he criticised Iran for rejecting an internationally endorsed plan to send its nuclear fuel abroad, delaying the moment it could manufacture a nuclear bomb. The agency’s resolution is expected to be passed today with the backing of all members of the E3+3; the international negotiating group on Iran comprising the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.’

INDIA: Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal on Track, But Kinks Remain

‘NEW DELHI, Nov 26 (IPS) - As Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wound down his state visit to the United States, Indian analysts say a major achievement has been ensuring that the civilian nuclear agreement between the two countries is on track. Singh had to fight domestic opposition to the deal and at one point even staked his job over what its other main architect, former President George W. Bush, described during a visit to India last month as this country’s "passport to the world." The March 2006 deal ended India’s nuclear isolation, which began when it first tested a nuclear device in 1973. Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, who holds nuclear non-proliferation as a key plank of his foreign policy, had appeared hesitant to implement the treaty. Singh said ahead of the trip, in an interview with the Newsweek magazine, that he would be seeking a "positive affirmation" that the process would be carried through. Obama was obliging. At a joint press conference in Washington on Tuesday, the U.S. President said, "I reaffirmed to the Prime Minister my administration’s commitment to fully implement the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement, which will increase American exports and create jobs in both countries."’

Quake risk threatens Taiwan nuclear plants: activists

‘Taiwanese environmental groups on Wednesday voiced concern over the safety of two nuclear power plants after a survey found they were located near a zone at risk from earthquakes. "The plants are old and it's not easy to upgrade their quake resistance features," said Herburt Lee, secretary general of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union. The plants, in northern Taiwan, are as close as five kilometres (three miles) from a fault line estimated to be 40 kilometres (25 miles) long and growing, according to new data from the government's Central Geological Survey. In light of the information, the groups have opposed a plan by the government to extend the licences for the ageing plants, which have been in operation for three decades. "The government should shut them down for safety reasons once the permits expire," said Lee.’

Proglio: UAE to award nuclear power reactors contract to a French consortium

‘Reuters cited Mr Henri Proglio head of utility group GDF Suez as saying that UAE will award USD 40 billion contract to build several nuclear power reactors to a French consortium in the next few weeks. He said that the grouping includes GDF Suez, nuclear engineering group Areva and oil company Total, with technical support from power utility EDF. The French team originally seen as the frontrunner for the deal had appeared in recent weeks to be losing ground to a rival bid by Korean groups. Other bidders include a consortium comprising General Electric and Japan's Hitachi and another involving Korea Electric Power Corporation, Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Samsung C&T corporation. The contract will be the largest ever energy contract awarded in the Middle East.’

Uranium shortage to affect nuclear push?

‘Owners of uranium mines have highlighted the possibility of future fuel shortages, threatening the push towards nuclear power. This revelation comes at a time when nations are preparing for the largest nuclear power investment in decades. According to a report from New Scientist, mined uranium currently caters for 60 per cent of the demand for nuclear fuel, with the remainder being provided by secondary sources. However, the security of this supply is being questioned. The publication states that uncertainty is hampering investment in new mines, which could cause shortages in the future, while the current low cost of uranium is not provided an incentive to put cash into the sector.’

France Counters Speculation That Areva Will Be Broken Up

‘FLAMANVILLE, FRANCE - The French prime minister on Thursday quashed speculation that the government would break up Areva, the world’s biggest builder of nuclear reactors, saying the company would continue to operate throughout the nuclear supply chain. “The government wants to further strengthen Areva’s nuclear specialization by giving it the means to develop,” François Fillon said in Flamanville, Normandy, where Areva and Électricité de France are building the country’s first E.P.R., a new generation of reactor. “The integrated model of the group is unique in the global nuclear world.” Areva’s structure “has permitted it to get to its No. 1 position,” he added. The hastily arranged visit to Flamanville by Mr. Fillon, who was accompanied by the Areva chief executive, Anne Lauvergeon, and Henri Proglio, who was named chief executive of E.D.F. on Wednesday, came days after Mr. Proglio called for a ‘rethink’ of the nuclear industry.

Nuclear plans still flawed, says watchdog

‘The nuclear safety regulator has warned that two new reactor designs earmarked for use in Britain remain incomplete and could be rejected unless improvements are made. The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) said that it was concerned about several features of both the US-Japanese and French reactor technologies that had been proposed for use in a new generation of British nuclear power stations. The NII, which is part of the Health and Safety Executive, is conducting a safety review of the so-called AP-1000 reactor from Toshiba-Westinghouse and the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) from Areva of France. Final approval of the designs is not due to be granted until 2011, but an update on progress said that significant questions remained unanswered.’

Vitrified waste is good to go

‘Radioactive waste belonging to Sellafield's Japanese customers is packed and ready for its journey home. Due to a waste substitution policy a single shipment amounting to 14 tonnes will complete the job. The completion of checking of the canisters and the loading of the flask finishes the on-site preparations for the first return of canisters, and sees the handover of operations from Sellafield to the transport arm of the operation, run by International Nuclear Services (INS). State-of-the-art railway wagons have been specifically designed to carry the flasks, which are bigger and heavier than flasks that have been transported along the Sellafield to Barrow railway line in the past. The shipment comes under the auspices of the Vitrified Residue Return (VRR) program, which will see waste from UK reprocessing services returned to overseas customers in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy over a 10-year period. The first shipment is planned to be complete by March 2010 subject to final detailed arrangements with customers and authorisations from regulatory bodies in the UK and Japan, a Sellafield spokesperson told World Nuclear News.’