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October 19, 2009

Iran uranium talks \”off to a good start\”

Iran uranium talks “off to a good start”

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Monday, October 19, 2009

File:Elbaradei.png

Mohamed ElBaradei
Image: IAEA (www.iaea.org).
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Talks between Iranian, Russian, French, and United States officials are “off to a good start” according to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

The four countries met at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today in Vienna, despite a statement on Iranian television shortly beforehand saying that the government would not deal directly with France, due to it previously failing to provide “nuclear materials”.

The countries are working on a deal which would allow Iran to send enriched uranium to France and Russia and converted for use in a medical isotopes research reactor. This is the first time that a deal has been worked on regarding Iran’s nuclear programme since the issue was brought up at a meeting in Geneva at the start of this month.

One concern is that Iran has not sent its atomic agency chief, an indication that a resolution of the matter may be be achieved; nevertheless ElBaradei remained positive. “We had this afternoon quite a constructive meeting. We’re off to a good start. Most of the technical issues have been discussed,” he said following the meeting. The head of the Iranian delegation, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, agreed with with the comments, but declined to comment on Iranian media reports that the government is reluctant to send its nuclear fuel. Talks are due to resume tomorrow morning.

Defiant stance

A senior Iranian official denied reports on state broadcaster Press TV that Iran only wanted to import higher-enriched uranium for its research reactor directly from France, Russia or the US, due to difficulties under current UN sanctions.

Iran’s nuclear energy agency spokesman, Ali Shirzadian, said the deal would not end nuclear enrichment activities, as it was not “economically feasible” to purify further low enriched uranium itself to the 130-300kg yield required, adding this was an option if talks “do not bring about Iran’s desired result”.

Sanctions

Iran escaped further UN sanctions after talks in Geneva earlier this month. It agreed to IAEA inspections of a hidden nuclear site, believed to be near the holy city of Qom and to send nuclear material to Russia and France for processing, part of the deal being negotiated at the Vienna talks. According to Western officials, Iran already agreed tentatively in Geneva to major points, but this is denied by Iran.

According to a Western diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, the talks this week were supposed to seal the deal. “But, since we have had no negotiations thus far with the Iranians, the next couple of days could reopen a lot of what we hoped was already agreed in principle,” he added.



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July 10, 2009

Canada pursues new nuclear research reactor to produce medical isotopes

Canada pursues new nuclear research reactor to produce medical isotopes

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Friday, July 10, 2009

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The Saskatchewan provincial government alongside the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have come together to establish a CA$500 million, 10 megawatts research nuclear reactor to produce medical isotopes.

Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan
Image: DanielPaquet.

“In 1949 … cobalt-60 treatment was tried for the first time here in Saskatchewan, where it saved a woman battling cervical cancer. Maybe we can lead again in terms of nuclear medicine,” said Brad Wall, the Premier of Saskatchewan, “Governments should be involved in pure research. We’re dealing with some circumstances as they present themselves”

“We’ve had faculty that are interested in this. We have an issue of national importance, We see a reason why the U of S and the province could assist in this national issue. We see how it could help the country. We see how it could build on the university’s research strength,” said Richard Florizone, U of S vice-president of finance and resources.

The research conducted at the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron on campus would be enhanced by a research reactor.

“In the case of a power reactor, in Saskatchewan we have much better alternatives. In the case of a medical isotopes research reactor, this may be a circumstance where the benefits outweigh the risks,” said Peter Prebble, director of energy and water policy for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

U of S located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (red star on map)

The nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ontario in Canada was shut down on Thursday, May 14 by the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) due to a leak of heavy water and will not re-open until late 2009 or spring of 2010.

The repairs of the NRU are complex and challenging. “I’ve heard it described as . . . trying to change the oil in your car from your living room. We’re faced with conducting remote investigations in a radioactive environment with high radiation fields, conducting the examinations and inspections through small openings in the top of the reactor and accessing over great distances,” said David Cox, director of the NRU engineering task force.

“The unplanned shutdown of the NRU will result in a significant shortage of medical isotopes in Canada, and in the world, this summer,” said Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources.

The Petten reactor in the Netherlands is another of the six extant nuclear reactors globally. It must also be shut down between mid July and mid August.

Medical isotopes are used in diagnostic procedures for cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions. When radioactive isotopes are injected into the body, radiologists can view higher radiation via medical imaging, enabling them to make a more accurate diagnosis.



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May 20, 2009

Canadian nuclear reactor shutdown causes worldwide medical isotope shortage

Canadian nuclear reactor shutdown causes worldwide medical isotope shortage

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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The nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ontario in Canada was shut down on Thursday, May 14 by the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) due to a leak of heavy water. Government officials say that by Saturday the demand for medical isotopes will no longer be met, due to the shortage caused by the closure.

Chalk River Labs seen from the Ottawa River
Image: Padraic Ryan.

Medical isotopes are used in diagnostic procedures for cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions. When radioactive isotopes are injected into the body, radiologists can view higher radiation via medical imaging, enabling them to make a more accurate diagnosis.

Estimates suggest that the reactor will be shut down for approximately one month for repairs. The Chalk River Laboratories produce 33% of the international supply of medical isotopes.

Lisa Raitt, Natural Resources Minister said, “A secure supply of medical isotopes is not only an issue for Canada, it is an international issue that is being addressed co-operatively by all isotope-producing countries.”

“It may mean that if you have an elective study booked … that patient is going to be deferred and will have to wait until the situation is resolved. I’m reasonably confident that for most patients, if they’re having an acute problem, that problem is going to be dealt with – and the greater the acuity, the more likelihood it’s going to be dealt with quickly and expeditiously,” said Dr. Karen Gulenchyn, a nuclear medicine expert.

“The government of Canada is engaging international isotope producers as well as companies such as MDS Nordion, Lantheus, and Covidien, who all play key roles in securing medical isotope supply for North America,” said Raitt and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

In December 2007, the 52-year-old reactor was shut down and the Canadian House of Common stepped in to restart the reactor.



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May 18, 2009

Court rules teen must take chemotherapy

Court rules teen must take chemotherapy – Wikinews, the free news source

Court rules teen must take chemotherapy

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Monday, May 18, 2009

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A judge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States ruled that a boy, Daniel Hauser, has been medically neglected by his parents and must take chemotherapy and radiation therapy for his cancer against his will.

Medical professionals testifying at the proceedings said that Daniel’s cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has a 90% survival rate with modern treatment, but only a 10% chance of survival without it.

The judge declared that the ruling was because there was a “compelling state interest in the life and welfare of Daniel sufficient to override the fundamental constitutional rights of both the parents and Daniel to the free exercise of religion and the due process right of the parents to direct the religious and other upbringing of their child.” as noted in his 60 page verdict.

Histopathologic image of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The boy lives in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and his mother is a member of the Nemenhah, a Native American style group that opposes medical practices that it believes to “harm the body.”

His parents first brought him for one out of six chemotherapy treatments and then refused to have the rest. In an initial filing, Daniel said that he was a medicine man and he himself made the decision to refuse the chemotherapy. An important question in the case was whether Daniel truly made the decision to refuse treatment, or whether he was pressured by his parents.

A vital piece of evidence was presented by a Thomas Sinas, an attorney for the boy’s court appointed guardian who doubted Daniel’s religious beliefs. Daniel also gave closed door testimony to the judge. The statement was released, and stated that Daniel’s faith wasn’t genuine, that he was shaken by the effects of his aunt’s chemotherapy.

“This matter … involves a 13-year-old child who has only a rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy,” said Judge John Rodenberg, “He genuinely opposes the imposition of chemotherapy. However, he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.”

Daniel’s court-appointed defense attorney, Philip Elbert, said, “I feel it’s a blow to families, it marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children’s medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us.”

Daniel’s parents will be required to give him a chest X-ray and proceed to give him chemotherapy and radiation therapy if a doctor says that they would still be effective. If they refuse to comply, Daniel will be taken into custody.

Daniel’s mother, Colleen Hauser, said, “If Daniel resists, it is a great question of how he will be treated. He may have to be sedated and that brings up the issue of forced treatment.”

The judge said that the court has a right to force treatment because Daniel does not understand his illness and the risks and benefits of therapy enough to create an informed consent.



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August 29, 2006

Iran voices defiance towards nuclear deadline

Iran voices defiance towards nuclear deadline

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Iran’s nuclear program
Iran's nuclear program
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran expressed his unwillingness to conform to UN Security Council demands on Tuesday. Ahmadinejad said, “Peaceful nuclear energy is the right of the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation has chosen that based upon international regulations, it wants to use it and no one can stop it.” Iran has until Thursday to comply with a U.N. Security Council demand to stop its uranium enrichment program. If Iran does not comply by Thursday, the UN has left open the possibility of economic sanctions. Ahmadinejad says that he is willing to listen to negotiations related to changing Iran’s nuclear program but that, “…any kind of dialogue should be based upon the certain rights of the Iranian nation.”

While the rights of which Ahmadinejad speaks are not currently available for public viewing, Iranian academics point to the six issues in Iran’s standard diplomatic policy.

Iran has consistently claimed that it is enriching uranium and building plutonium-producing reactors for solely peaceful purposes—for the generation of electricity, the exporting of materials for other civilian nuclear industries, and the creation of medical radioisotopes—while many western nations have accused the country of running a clandestine nuclear weapons program. They have cited as evidence for this Iran’s continual investment in dual-use technology which could be used for either civilian or military purposes, as well as alleging that Iran has not been forthright in disclosures of its nuclear developments.

Iran provoked international controversy in April 2006 when it announced an earlier nuclear success: the enrichment of a small amount of uranium to reactor-grade levels (3.5% of the isotope uranium-235 using gas centrifuge technology. Concern was raised by some that if Iran was able to scale up its enrichment facilities to thousands of centrifuges, they could be used to produce bomb-grade uranium (90% uranium-235).

Iran has insisted that under the terms of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. None of Iran’s facilities currently have the ability to produce weapons-grade nuclear material, and most experts say it would be at least a decade for Iran to be able to build a functional nuclear weapon.

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August 26, 2006

Iran inaugurates heavy-water production plant

Iran inaugurates heavy-water production plant

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Iran’s nuclear program
Iran's nuclear program
Recent stories
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  • Wikipedia article about Iran’s nuclear program
  • Wikipedia article about Iran and WMDs

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a heavy-water production plant in Arak, Iran on Saturday, according to reports on Iranian television. The plant is part of the nuclear program of Iran, which the Iranian government says is for peaceful purposes only in the face of accusations by western governments that the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The Arak facility, located 150 miles south of Teheran, is part of a larger project of building a heavy-water reactor in the city. The Iranian president has said that it will be used for medical purposes only, and has said that students, scientists, and journalists will be allowed to tour the plant. Construction on the production plant began in 1996. Iran provoked international controversy in April 2006 when it announced an earlier nuclear success: the enrichment of a small amount of uranium to reactor-grade levels (3.5% of the isotope uranium-235 using gas centrifuge technology. Concern was raised by some that if Iran was able to scale up its enrichment facilities, they could be used to produce bomb-grade uranium (90% uranium-235).

Heavy water is the colloquial name for deuterium oxide, 2H2O. To the unaided eye it appears identical to regular water, H2O, but it contains deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen. Among its many uses, it is commonly used as a moderator in certain types of nuclear reactors. It is considered a nuclear proliferation risk because heavy-water production reactors can easily use natural uranium, and in the process transmute it into the element plutonium, which can be reprocessed and used as the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. Heavy-water production reactors have been used for this purpose by India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia and USA. There is no evidence that heavy-water power reactors, such as the Canadian-produced CANDU reactor, have been used for military plutonium production, but in theory they can also be used for this purpose, as any uranium reactor will produce certain amounts of plutonium.

Critics have charged that current Iranian research reactors do not require the amount of heavy water which the production facility will be able to create. Iran’s other controversial reactor site at Bushehr does not require heavy water. Though many of Iran’s nuclear facilities do have possible peaceful uses, most of them are considered dual-use technology, which could also be diverted into military purposes.

In 2003, the still-developing production site was inspected by a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the non-proliferation wing of the United Nations in charge of enforcing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory. At the time, Iran claimed the heavy water would be for exporting to other countries, and later clarified that it would be used for a heavy-water reactor in Arak. Iran has claimed that it would have purchased a heavy-water research reactor from abroad but it had been unable to do so, and so had to resort to an indigenous design and construction. Iran claims that the reactor will be used to produce radioisotopes, which have many medical applications. IAEA inspectors questioned this on the basis that the reactor plans they had seen did not have adequate facilities for producing radioisotopes. Iran claimed that the plans were still developing and that the missing facilities, known as hot cells, could not yet be designed without knowing other characteristics of the reactor, and that they were building a separate facility with those capabilities at the same site.

Iran has insisted that under the terms of the 1968 treaty, it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The IAEA has called upon Iran in the past to freeze production of the heavy-water reactor at Arak, but the Iranian government has refused and began construction on the 40MW reactor facility in 2004. It has been estimated that it will take five years to build, based on the previous experience of North Korea.

None of Iran’s facilities currently have the ability to produce weapons-grade nuclear material, and most experts say it would be at least a decade for Iran to be able to build a functional nuclear weapon.

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May 26, 2006

Science minister visits Australia\’s newest nuclear reactor, receives nuclear power report

Science minister visits Australia’s newest nuclear reactor, receives nuclear power report

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Ms Julie Bishop, Australian Minister for Education, Science and Training

Australian Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop visited the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Lucas Heights, New South Wales today. The purpose of her visit was to inspect progress on Australia’s newest nuclear research reactor – OPAL. Whilst at the facility, she received a report on the economics and safety of a nuclear power industry in Australia.

OPAL, which stands for Open Pool Australian Light water reactor is expected to become fully operational by early 2007 and is in its final stage of development.

The reactor, which will replace Australia’s sole nuclear reactor – HIFAR will be used to research microbiology, biotechnology and gene therapy in addition to the production of agents used in nuclear medicine.

The report presented to Ms Bishop at ANSTO was written by Professor John Gittus and discussed the economics and safety of nuclear energy in Australia.

The major conclusion of the study was that new generation nuclear power plants would be as competitive as newer types of coal power plants in Australia. The report also found that nuclear energy is “the safest, most secure way of generating electricity with greater price stability in comparison to gas or coal power generation” according to Ms Bishop.

Prof Gittus’ report found that when the cost of environmental damage and carbon dioxide emissions from coal or gas fired power stations were considered, nuclear power becomes more attractive.

Speaking on the report, Ms Bishop said she wishes for an evidence-based debate about nuclear energy in Australia. “I welcome this report as a useful contribution to what I hope will be an evidence-based debate about nuclear power in Australia. The debate must focus on the facts and not be biased by emotion.” she said.

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