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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Start fuel production in Brazil.

(November 2, 1998) At Resende, in Rio de Janeiro state, a nuclear fuel fabrication plant is under construction. It is expected to start end of this year, following the signing of a technology-transfer agreement last month to allow Industreas Nucleares do Brazil (INB) to manufacture Westinghouse 16 x 16 design assemblies for Angra-1. The fabrication of the assemblies is to start with 40 tons of uranium imported from Sweden and is part of the Brazilian policy to become self-supporting. Epoca (Br), 5 October 1998 / UI News Briefing 98/32-8


Russian sailor takes over nuclear sub. A 19-year-old soldier, Alexander Kuzminykh, held a nuclear submarine for almost two days before shooting himself September 12 as an assault was prepared against him. Negotiations with his mother failed. He captured the sub, from the Akula class, near Murmansk. It had a nuclear reactor aboard and might have carried nuclear warheads on torpedoes. Vladimir Prikhodko, chief of the Murmansk federal police, was quoted to said he feared the coasts of Murmansk and Norway could have been contaminated if Alexander had blown up the sub. Sergei Anufriev, spokesman for the Northern Fleet, said Alexander "simply went crazy". Nucleonics Week, 17 September 1998


Pilot study on Gulf War veterans confirms exposure to DU. On September 30 the US-based Military Toxics Project (MTP) released preliminary test results of Persian Gulf veterans, confirming depleted uranium in the veterans urine. It also confirmed that these veterans ingested or inhaled depleted uranium during their service in the Gulf. By calculating from rate of excretion formulas based on what is showing in the urine now, almost eight years after exposure, it was determined that veterans were exposed to anywhere from 1-10 grams of depleted uranium in the Gulf. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission notes that an intake of .01 gram in one week can cause health problems, and that a known or suspected inhalation of this amount of depleted uranium requires automatic medical testing.
The Pentagon admitted in January 1998 that thousands of soldiers might have been exposed in the Gulf. The Veterans Administration admitted in November 1997, and again on September 18, 1998, that is was finding neurocognitive disorders and depleted uranium in the semen of Gulf War veterans. The MTP, along with Swords to Plowshares and the National Gulf War Resource Center, released the Depleted Uranium Case Narrative in March, saying the number could be as high as 400,000 veterans exposed to depleted uranium. Yet, even though the NRC states that exposure to an intake of .01 grams requires automatic medical testing, the Department of Defense has only tested a few dozen veterans for depleted uranium. (See also WISE NC 489.4852: Case Narrative; Depleted Uranium Exposure)
Military Toxics Project, 30 September 1998


Latest on Nikitin trial! The court case against Russian whistleblower Alexandr Nikitin in St. Petersburg started mid October. After five trial days, and more than two hours of deliberation on Thursday October 29, Judge Golets, concluded that the indictment was too unclear and that the court could not accept any of the expert conclusions. He therefore dismissed all the evidence presented in the indictment and sent the case back to the prosecution for further investigations. "This is a major victory for us, and a total defeat for the FSB (the former KGB)," said chief defender Yury Schmidt afterwards. "There are no easy victories to be won against the FSB. The judge has made a courageous decision, although not super courageous. To have Aleksandr declared 'not guilty' would of course have been better, but we must understand the enormous pressure against the judge." Bellona, 29 October 1998


Iran: US$140 million for Busher-1. Iran has earmarked nearly US$140 million for the construction of the Busher nuclear power plant. The state-run Tehran Radio said on October 12 that the Supreme Economic Council, in a meeting headed by President Mohammad Khatami, approved funding of 418.8 billion rials (US$139.6 million) for the first unit.
The council is also said to have approved a request by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) to make changes in its contract with Russia for the construction of the power plant. Some Iranian media reports have said Iran is dissatisfied with the pace of construction and is urging Russia to speed it up.
In September, AEOI signed an agreement with Russia to finish Busher-1 within 62 months.
The construction of Busher started in 1975 by German company Siemens, which left the country after the Islamic revolution in 1979. According to industry sources, AEOI is still maneuvering to get the Germans back on the site to finish the plant. Within the European Union several countries seem to be in favor of Western involvement in its completion, now that Iran is moving again towards closer ties with Europe and the US. Reuters, 12 October & Nucleonics Week, 1 October 1998


Demonstration at Israel's Dimona reactor. More than 70 anti-nuclear activists came together near Israel's Dimona nuclear facility on September 22, the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The international demonstrators held signs and banners at the remote desert site calling for nuclear disarmament and for the immediate release of imprisoned nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.
The demonstration, organized by the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, brought together Israeli activists and representatives of the international free-Vanunu campaign from the UK, US, Norway, and Australia. By the side of the road where they gathered, they could see the large dome of the nuclear reactor.
Demonstrators called for the immediate closure of the reactor, asked that it be opened to international supervision and inspection, and demanded an immediate halt to the production by Israel of weapons of mass destruction. Several speakers addressed the gathering. The speakers included Nuri al-Ugbi, representing the Bedouin population in the Negev area. Al-Ugbi called the Dimona reactor "a monster threatening all life in the region". US Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu, 6 October 1998