Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Breaking News...

Germany arrests 4 for supplying Iran reactor parts

BERLIN German prosecutors say they have arrested one German man and three German-Iranian dual nationals on suspicion they supplied Iran with parts needed to build a nuclear reactor in violation of the country's trade embargo on such items.
Prosecutors' spokesman Marcus Koehler said suspects Rudolf M., a German, and dual citizens Kianzad Ka., Gholamali Ka. and Hamid Kh., were taken into custody Wednesday on suspicion they had illegally supplied valves needed for the reactor's construction in 2010 and 2011.
The three, whose last names were not released in accordance with German privacy laws, are accused of supplying the parts to Iran through front companies in Turkey and Azerbaijan in deals worth millions of euros.
Some 90 customs agents and prosecutors searched their homes and businesses in Hamburg, Oldenburg and Weimar.

Three die as new storm slams Philippines

TROPICAL storm Kai-Tak has slammed the northern Philippines, triggering flash floods and landslides and killing at least three people.
The storm landed on Wednesday, one week after deadly monsoon rains battered the country, disaster relief officials said.
Kai-Tak, packing maximum sustained winds of 75km/h and gusts of up to 90km/h, made landfall over the north-eastern Philippines before dawn. Twenty northern provinces have been under storm warnings since Tuesday.
The Office of Civil Defence said one man drowned when he suffered a seizure and fell into a flooded rice field in the province of Pangasinan and another drowned while crossing a swollen river on Tuesday in Ilocos Norte province.
Another man was electrocuted in La Union province, said Superintendent Jovencio Badua, a regional police spokesman.
At least 3,500 people were evacuated from their homes in La Union and Pangasinan because of flash floods. Several highways were cut off because of landslides, Badua said.
"The rains were heavy overnight, and flash floods occurred in some towns," said Edgar Gumabay, a regional disaster response officer based at San Fernando City in La Union.
"Floods reached up to the neck (1.25 metres) in some areas."
The regional disaster response agency said a landslide occurred along a national highway in La Union province, blocking traffic and isolating some towns.
Schools were shut down in the affected provinces, while several domestic flights to the north were cancelled.
The weather bureau said Kai-Tak was moving west-north-west at 13km/h and was expected to be out of the country by Friday.

UN atom agency sees "significant" nuclear safety progress

Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:35pm BST
* IAEA states adopted nuclear safety plan despite divisions
* U.N. agency sees "significant progress" in key areas
* These include improvements in emergency preparedness
By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Important progress has been made towards strengthening global nuclear safety after Japan's Fukushima accident last year, according to the United Nations atomic watchdog.
The International Atomic Energy Agency made the assessment in a report prepared for next month's annual meeting of IAEA member states, which endorsed the safety plan by consensus last September despite criticism that it did not go far enough.
"Since the adoption of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, significant progress has been made in several key areas," the Vienna-based agency said.
These included "improvements in emergency preparedness and response capabilities," it added in the nine-page document posted on its website.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was hit by an earthquake and tsunami that knocked out power supply and swamped its backup power and cooling systems, resulting in meltdowns of three of its six reactors.
About 150,000 people were forced to flee as radioactive materials spewed, some never to return.
Last month in Japan, a government-appointed inquiry raised doubts about whether other nuclear plants in the country were prepared for massive disasters.
The IAEA plan approved six months after the accident was criticised by some nations for not championing more mandatory steps. It outlined a series of voluntary steps intended to help prevent a repeat of such a crisis event anywhere in the world.
It called on countries to promptly carry out assessments of their nuclear power plants on how they would be able to withstand extreme natural hazards as well as steps to strengthen emergency preparedness and information.
The IAEA report on the plan's implementation so far - which will be presented to the Sept. 17-21 General Conference of the agency's more than 150 member states - said there had been progress in assessing "safety vulnerabilities" of atomic plants.
This and other measures had contributed to "the enhancement of the global nuclear safety framework", it said, without giving details about the situation in individual countries.
"Significant progress has also been made in reviewing the agency's safety standards which continue to be widely applied by regulators, operators and the nuclear industry in general."
There is "increased attention and focus on vitally important areas such as accident prevention", it added.
But continued efforts need to be made to ensure more effective communication to the public if there is a radiological or nuclear emergency, the report said.
The IAEA was criticised for its initial handling of the Fukushima disaster, with media and Vienna-based diplomats saying it was slow to give information in the early days of the crisis.
The Fukushima accident spurred a rethink about nuclear energy worldwide and calls for more concerted action, including beefed-up international safety checks of nuclear power plants.
But preparatory work last year on the IAEA plan exposed differences between states seeking more international commitments and others wanting safety to remain an issue strictly for national authorities.
One group of nations - including Germany and France - voiced disappointment about the final version of the IAEA's safety action plan for not including stricter measures.
The United States, India and China were among countries stressing the responsibility of national authorities.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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