Tourist Trip To HalabiyeFrom ArmsControlWonk
As you might know, close to the reactor there is an old Byzantine fortress called Halabiye (Frank Pabian mentioned it in his presentation). Tourists only seldom visit Halabiye, but still some travel-guides mention it, so a visit to the fortress was not too obvious. I tried to see how close I could get to the reactor, in the end I was 1.5 km away.
Clean Up in DesertNew satellite imagery show that a Syrian site believed to have been attacked by Israel last month no longer bears any obvious traces of what some analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor.
"It took down this facility so quickly it looks like they are trying to hide something," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, which analyzed the images.
An image taken Wednesday by a DigitalGlobe commercial satellite shows tractors or bulldozers and scrape marks on the ground where the building stood in photos taken prior to the September Israeli attack. The Syrians reported an attack by Israel in early September; the Israelis have not confirmed that.
Now that the site has been razed, it is going to be harder to figure what was there...
Arms Control Wonk
New York Times
Israel-SyriaJeffery weighs in on the recent Israeli attack on 'something' in Syria. As always, a good read @ armscontrol.wonk
Chernobyl to be covered in steelThe authorities in Ukraine have approved a giant steel cover for Chernobyl. Ukraine has hired a French firm to build the structure to replace the crumbling concrete casing put over the reactor after the 1986 accident. The casing project is expected to cost $1.4bn (£700m).
It will take five years to complete and the authorities say they will then be able to start dismantling the reactor. [via BBC News]
New leak at Japanese nuclear plantJapanese regulators discovered a fresh leak of radioactive material Thursday from a nuclear power plant damaged in an earthquake this week, news reports said, adding to criticism of the embattled plant operator.
Nuclear inspectors probed the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which suffered a barrage of leaks and malfunctions in Monday's 6.8-magnitude quake in northwestern Japan. The plant was ordered shut down indefinitely on Wednesday.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency found radioactive iodine had leaked from an exhaust pipe at the plant, Kyodo News agency and national broadcaster NHK reported. Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. already had announced the release of other radioactive materials from the exhaust vent previously. [via MSNBC]
North Korea shuts down Yongbyon reactorNorth Korea has told the United States it has shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facilities, the State Department said on Saturday.
"We welcome this development and look forward to the verification and monitoring of this shutdown by the International Atomic Energy Agency team that has arrived in" North Korea, said spokesman Sean McCormack.
North Korea said last week it would consider suspending the operation of its nuclear facilities as soon as it received the first shipment of oil from South Korea under the February 13 aid-for-disarmament deal. [via Yahoo! News]
North Korean Reactor shutdown?North Korea plans to seal its nuclear reactor, the source of weapons-grade plutonium, in the second half of July, Russia's Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing an unidentified North Korean diplomatic source.
Despite more than two months of delay in beginning the dismantlement of the North's atomic program, it would still be possible to complete the nuclear disarmament of the communist state by the end of the year, the chief U.S. nuclear envoy said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said on Monday a senior delegation would visit the North next week to agree on details for a return of its inspectors to monitor Pyongyang's promised nuclear shutdown.
"To stop the reactor, it will take about a month according to our specialists," the North Korean source was quoted as saying by Interfax.
"So we are counting on sealing it in the second half of July, in accordance with the agreements reached at the six-party talks," the source said. That Beijing forum brings together the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
The Interfax report comes as North Korea said at the weekend it had invited IAEA inspectors into the country as part of the six-party deal reached in February to shut down the Soviet-era Yongbyon reactor in exchange for aid.
The diplomatic source said the IAEA delegation would be present at the first stage of stopping the reactor. [via Yahoo! News]
North Korean Reactor shutdown?North Korea may be preparing to shut down its main nuclear reactor, news reports said Tuesday, renewing hopes that Pyongyang will comply with a disarmament agreement days after it missed a deadline to shutter the facility.
The Yongbyon reactor was still in operation, but there was a high possibility that movement of cars and people at the site seen in satellite photos could be linked to a shutdown, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed intelligence official. The Dong-a Ilbo daily carried a similar report. [via CBS News]