Oh my! It looks like Stevie is getting us more entwined in the nuclear industry, along with the Aussies. Take a look at these documents, lengthy but informative:
1. Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 27
US wants Australia in nuclear group
Anne Davies, Herald Correspondent in Washington
August 27, 2007
US President George Bush will invite Australia to be part of two plans aimed at guaranteeing future energy supplies: to produce ethanol from wild grasses, and a global nuclear partnership, which includes many of the main nuclear players.
Mr Bush will raise the two issues during bilateral talks with the Prime Minister, John Howard, before the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum meeting next week, senior officials said.
The US, through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, is driving a research effort to develop a new generation of fast-cycle reactors that would produce far less hazardous waste than conventional nuclear reactors.
The group includes many of the main countries involved in the nuclear fuel cycle, including Russia, China and France. Its broader aim is to eventually secure the entire fuel cycle and con ine production and reprocessing to the group, with smaller countries effectively leasing nuclear fuel from the partnership and returning waste to it for reprocessing.
Australia and Canada, both uranium-producing countries, have so far stalled on joining because of domestic concerns about obligations to take back nuclear waste and store it.
This is a hot-button issue in Australia.
But a senior official said last week that the US would not be pressuring Australia to take back nuclear waste if it joined.
“We want Australia to be part of the research effort. It doesn’t mean Australia would have to take back nuclear waste,” the official said.
Documents obtained by the Herald two months ago revealed the Department of Foreign Affairs and the US Department of Energy were working on a bilateral nuclear partnership, which would see closer research ties and more involvement by Australia.
Ethanol will also be a major area of discussion. The US has announced a progra to boost ethanol production to 35 billion gallons by 2017 in an attempt to reduce by 20 per cent the US’s dependence on foreign oil.
But the scheme has been heavily criticised because corn is already the most subsidised crop in the US – more than $35 billion was spent between 1999 and 2005 to subsidise farmers, and critics say that even if the entire crop was devoted to ethanol production, it would not make sufficient quantities to meet the targets.
The other potential source of ethanol is cellulose, which can be derived from sugarcane waste or grasses.
Mr Bush has taken a big interest in the potential for wild grasses to be harvested and turned into ethanol and is expected to brief Mr Howard on the research effort so far.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss clean-coal technologies and future research in this area.
No. 2 – News story from The Age, Australia, Aug. 21
Nuclear alliance quandary
Katharine Murphy and Brendan Nich lson
THE AGE, Australia
August 21, 2007
SENIOR Government players are exploring whether Australia can become part of a controversial global nuclear alliance in a special deal whereby the country would not be required to take back radioactive waste.
Sources have told The Age discussions are under way that could see Australia and Canada made part of the powerful Washington-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership on a “parallel” track, without having to assume full membership of the organisation.
The Bush Administration has made it plain to the Howard Government informally that it would like Australia to be part of the GNEP — which is an alliance designed to restrict the number of countries enriching uranium to current players, such as the US, Britain, France and Russia.
GNEP members operate on a “leasing” concept whereby nuclear fuel is produced and exported and members ship back nuclear waste.
But given the acute political sensitivity around nuclear issues c ose to the federal election campaign, discussions have centred on ways Australia can be a participant without having to fully sign on to leasing — at least in the short term.
Labor yesterday kicked off its electorate by electorate campaign against nuclear power, making a nuclear pledge in the Queensland city of Gladstone.
The Government has just signed off on a controversial decision to sell uranium to India, and cabinet will consider soon whether to create the necessary national regulations to govern uranium mining, enrichment and nuclear power plants.
Despite the escalating political debate, speculation is increasing about how Australia will resolve its position on the GNEP before a visit early next month by US President George Bush for the APEC leaders summit in Sydney.
No. 3 News story from Melbourne Herald Sun, July 20, 2007
Our bid to join nuke club
Melbourne Herald Sun
July 20, 2007
EXCLUSIVE: AUSTRALIA is on the brink o joining the world’s most influential and exclusive nuclear club, a move that would pave the way for uranium enrichment here.
Australia and Canada — the world’s largest uranium producers — will be invited to the next meeting of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership in Vienna in September.
The move could also see Australia house nuclear waste.
Under GNEP proposals, companies and countries that supply enriched uranium to nuclear power stations around the world would have to take back and dispose of the spent fuel.
The GNEP — grouping the United States, Russia, China, Japan and France — is developing a worldwide regulatory regime to manage nuclear power growth and curb the number of countries capable of processing uranium.
Membership could hand Australia a chance to enrich locally mined uranium for its own power generation or export.
Under the regulatory system, uranium enrichment and processing would be restricted to a handful of countries.
The partnership was established in Ma by US President George W. Bush to support the roll-out of nuclear power under an international system that aims to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister John Howard talked to Mr Bush about the GNEP last year and speculation has grown that Australia is about to join it.
A spokesman for Mr Howard declined to comment on details of Australian participation, but confirmed that talks with the US about membership were continuing.
“Australia has an ongoing dialogue with the US regarding the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership,” the spokesman said.
Mr Howard has long advocated nuclear power which he believes should be adopted to cut carbon emissions
When he gave details of the Government’s carbon trading scheme on Tuesday, Mr Howard said Australia could become an energy superpower.
The push for Australia to embrace nuclear power has gathered momentum since the Government appointed Dr Ziggy Switkowski in June last year to review Australia’s energy options.
Since then several le ding business figures and companies have signalled intent to invest in nuclear generation, uranium processing and waste storage.
Local business leaders Ron Walker, Hugh Morgan and Robert Champion de Crespigny have formed Australian Nuclear Energy to invest in prospective power generation and waste storage projects.
A Melbourne-based company, Australian Nuclear Fuel Leasing, was established in December last year to provide nuclear fuel management services to companies that enrich uranium around the world.
The GNEP aims to promote the adoption of nuclear power in developing and developed countries while also ensuring that authoritarian states do not acquire weapons capabilities.
Joining the GNEP could see Australia pursuing activities such as uranium enrichment.
Experts have told the Australian Government that the economics of enrichment do not stack up unless Australia embraces nuclear power generation.
A high-level Government source told the Herald Sun it was likely that Australia wo ld participate in the September meeting of the GNEP.
The GNEP meeting will be held after the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
No. 4 News article from The Australian, August 2006
By Geoff Elliott
August 17, 2006
THE Bush administration has indicated it will support Australia developing a uranium enrichment industry, despite the White House’s policy to restrict new entrants to the world nuclear club.
In response to John Howard’s campaign to ensure the existing nuclear powers do not lock Australia out of future nuclear development, a senior US official has said “special rules” apply to Australia and Canada.
Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary for nuclear power at the US Department of Energy, said Australia and Canada were likely to be given special consideration because they would play a pivotal role in a new nuclear suppliers club the US is trying to establish.
“I think Australia, and Canada for that matter, pl y a special role in world nuclear affairs because obviously you are two countries that have the majority of economically recoverable uranium resources,” Mr Spurgeon said in an exclusive interview with The Australian yesterday.
Asked if this gave Australia and Canada a strong bargaining chip in negotiating their entry into a new nuclear club, he replied: “Exactly. So in any discussion, you have to take into account the facts as they lay.”
“I think Australia is viewed as a totally reliable and trustworthy country, so I don’t think there is any issue there whatsoever.”
The Government has launched an inquiry, headed by former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski, to examine the economics of expanding Australia’s uranium mining sector, becoming involved in uranium enrichment and establishing a domestic nuclear power industry.
It comes after the Bush administration unveiled last year the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which is designed to restrict the number of countries enriching uranium to existing players such as the US, Britain, China, Russia and France.
But under the GNEP, nuclear fuel would be shipped to feed energy-hungry developing countries and the spent fuel taken back to the supplier so it could not reprocessed and used for weapons. Its clear aim is to prevent nuclear proliferation as witnessed in rogue states such as North Korea and as fears grow that Iran’s civilian nuclear push is simply a cover for nuclear weapons manufacture.
It is also designed to promote a fuel source that does not produce greenhouse gases.
But the plan caught the Howard Government off guard and it was one of the main issues the Prime Minister raised with US President George W.Bush on his trip to Washington in May. Mr Howard then travelled to Canada to discuss the GNEP program with counterpart Stephen Harper.
Last month, Mr Howard told The Australian he was not suspicious of the initiative “but I’m keen to keep an eye on it and keen to ensure it doesn’t damage Australia’s position”.
The GNEP policy, as it stands, would freeze Australia out of the enrichment club and presents an awkward policy conflict between Australia and the US.
Mr Spurgeon admitted the GNEP policy as envisaged presented an “unusual situation” in relation to Australia and Canada.
“Any time you make a general rule you always find maybe it doesn’t apply in all circumstances,” he said. “The United States depends on, and wants to continue to have, a very close partnership and working relationship with Australia.
“We end up with a little bit of an unusual situation here because the policy is really designed to try to help countries like Vietnam, for example, to be able to have the benefit of nuclear energy without needing that kind of enrichment plant and without needing a reprocessing facility.”
Keen to assuage fears that Australia would not be dealt a bad hand in the program, Mr Spurgeon added that future discussions with Australia “comes down to the way in which we might jointly agree on a path forward for implementing he principles contained in GNEP”.
“But it is just that. It’s a discussion. It’s not a dictation in any manner of speaking.
“We are pleased Australia is looking at nuclear energy and does want to be an active partner as we attempt to increase the use of nuclear energy worldwide in a responsible way.”
He stressed he was not in a position to make a definitive comment on what the administration’s position would be on Australia enriching uranium, saying that was for the State Department to comment on.
However, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Non-proliferation declined to comment.
No. 5 News article from Canadian Press, May 20, 2006
Canada seems poised to join Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate
May 20, 2006
By Bruce Cheadle Canadian Press
GATINEAU, Que. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the strongest signal yet Friday that Canada is poised to join an international climate-change forum that’s seen as a rival to the yoto process.
At the same time, Mr. Harper used a visit by Australian Prime Minister John Howard to say his Conservative government is “looking carefully” at a United States proposal that would compel uranium exporting countries such as Canada to repatriate and dispose of spent nuclear fuel.
Both developments left environmental groups aghast.
“It in effect makes Canada an international waste dump,” said Dave Martin, Greenpeace Canada’s energy co-ordinator.
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has been hinting for weeks that Canada is interested in the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a six-nation group that includes Australia, China, India and the United States.
But it took a visit by Mr. Howard, a staunch conservative upon whom Mr. Harper has modelled much of his policy platform, to spur a more definitive signal from Ms. Ambrose’s boss.
“We believe it’s the kind of initiative the world needs,” Mr. Harper, flanked by Mr. Howard, sa d at a news conference at Meech Lake.
“As a government that finds itself left 35 per cent behind existing Kyoto targets and with a need to do something, we think it’s encouraging. We’ve talked to the prime minister about the possibility of Canada becoming a participant in this.”
The Asia-Pacific Partnership’s emphasis on technological development to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Harper added, “is very much the path our government is looking at.”
Perhaps more striking for Canadians is a proposal by the Bush administration to create something called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. The so-called GNEP has escaped widespread media attention in this country but is being hotly debated in Australia.
The idea is to create a consortium of nations that supply nuclear fuel in order to better control weapons proliferation. Canada and Australia together export 43 per cent of the world’s uranium.
A key component of the GNEP, according to the U.S. Department of Energ , is the concept of ‘cradle-to-grave’ fuel leasing that incorporates ‘used fuel take-back’ for exporting countries.
Neither Mr. Harper nor Mr. Howard directly addressed the question of repatriating nuclear fuel waste, but both indicated nuclear power is part of their energy futures and that the U.S. proposal is in play.
“Australia and Canada, as the two major uranium producers in the world, have considerable interest in whatever the United States and the international community have in mind in terms of future uranium development, production and marketing,” said Mr. Harper.
“We’ve agreed we’re going to collaborate very closely together to make sure Australian and Canadian interests are closely protected while the Americans and others discuss the future of that industry.”
Mr. Howard was more plain-spoken. “We don’t approach this American proposal with antagonism. We approach it with interest.”
Canada is already wrestling with the long-term disposal of roughly two m llion radioactive bundles from the country’s 22 nuclear power plants.
And as far back as 2003, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, president of the national Nuclear Waste Management Organization was warning “there may come a time when you’re actually required to take back your own (exported) fuel.”
No. 6 Excerpt from John Howard speech in Canada, May 2006
In the energy area which is of course allied to climate change, Canada and Australia have much in common. We are the holders of the largest uranium reserves in the world and both of us must work together in relation to the recently proposed global nuclear energy partnership which seeks laudably to control proliferation, but we must as the holders of these vast uranium reserves, ensure that that particular partnership does not work against the interests of countries such as Canada and Australia.
No. 7 — Excerpt from John Howard press conference in Ottawa in May 2006….
I welcome very much what the Prime Minister told me about his interest in Canada being more closely associated with the Asia Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Energy, and also as countries which between them have some 43 percent of the worlds uranium reserves and 52 percent of the worlds uranium production, we follow very closely the American led initiative for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership – which is designed as a counter-proliferation strategy but obviously has implications for countries like Canada and Australia – both of which are rich in uranium reserves and I think the two countries can work together in partnership to make sure that we not only follow the development of that initiative, but also ensure that the initiative does not work in a way that in any way affects our own interests or the legitimate exploitation of our uranium reserves.
No. 8 – Excerpt from Stephen Harper, transcript of press conference with John Howard, May 2006
PRIME MINISTER HARPER:
Well I’ll begin, in terms of our government, we, I can say haven’t established really our policy for nuclear energy – although as you know Canada has atomic energy, Canada Limited. So we do have interests in nuclear energy and I believe nuclear energy is going to be apart of the mix, an important part of the mix as we deal with energy and environmental challenges in the next century. In terms of the… well there’s a couple of things in your question I could address.
… I think you also made some allusion in your question to American proposals on, I think they’re calling it GNEP. Australia and Canada as the Prime Minister said, Australia and Canada as the two major uranium producers in the world, have considerable interest in whatever the United States and the international community have in mind in terms of future uranium development, production and marketing. And we’ve agreed that we’re going to collaborate very closely together to make sure Australian and Canadian interests are closely protected while the Americans and others discuss the future of t at industry.
No. 9 — Press release from U.S. Dept. of Energy regarding the U.S.-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, May 2007
Senior International Energy Officials Issue Joint Statement in Support of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and senior energy officials from some of the world’s leading economies issued a joint statement in support of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) and nuclear energy cooperation. The People’s Republic of China, France, Japan, Russia and the United States issued the Joint Statement, which addresses the prospects for international cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including technical aspects, especially in the framework of GNEP.
“Today’s Joint Statement officially puts the ‘P’ in the Global Nuclear Energy ‘Partnership,’” Secretary Bodman said. “For Americans, pursuing nuclear power is wise policy; fo industry it can be good business; internationally, it is unmatched in its ability to serve as a cornerstone of sustainable economic development, while offering enormous potential to satisfy the world’s increasing demand for energy in a clean, safe and proliferation-resistant manner.”
The Joint Statement was agreed upon today in Washington, DC, after high-level international officials participated in a DOE-hosted ministerial meeting, bringing together some of the leading nuclear fuel cycle states to discuss GNEP and its path forward toward increasing the use of safe, reliable and affordable nuclear power worldwide. Chairman Ma Kai of the People’s Republic of China (National Development and Reform Commission); Chairman Alain Bugat of France (Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique); Minister Sanae Takaichi of Japan (Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Science and Technology Policy, Innovation, Gender Equality, Social Affairs and Food Safety); Deputy Director Nikolay Spasskiy o the Russian Federation (Federal Atomic Energy Agency); and Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman of the United States participated in today’s ministerial meeting on GNEP and nuclear energy cooperation. The United Kingdom and the International Atomic Energy Agency also participated as observers to the ministerial.
In addition to providing overviews on each countries’ national and international nuclear energy policies in relation to GNEP, senior officials are also moving forward on topics considered crucial to GNEP’s development. The topics include: infrastructure development needs for countries considering nuclear power; development of advanced fuel cycle and safeguards technology; establishment of reliable fuel services; spent fuel management; and building the partnership and next steps to pursue this major global initiative.
GNEP is a Presidential initiative, which includes key research and technology development programs as well as international policy cooperation. It addresses two l ng-standing barriers to enable expansion of nuclear power: (1) the means to use sensitive technologies responsibly in a way that protects global security, and (2) the pathway to safe management and disposition of spent fuel. GNEP focuses on overcoming these barriers, and doing so in cooperation with other advanced nuclear nations, to bring the benefits of nuclear energy to the world safely and securely. To meet the goals of GNEP, collaboration among industry, the U.S. national laboratories and other nations will be essential.
GNEP, first announced by President Bush in 2006, is part of his Advanced Energy Initiative, which aims to change the way we power our lives by utilizing alternative and renewable fuels to increase energy, economic and international security. GNEP seeks to develop worldwide consensus on enabling expanded use of clean, safe, and affordable nuclear energy to meet growing electricity demand. GNEP proposes a nuclear fuel cycle that enhances energy security, while promoting non-proliferation.