Air Force to launch fixes to nuclear program

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is launching an ambitious campaign to repair flaws in its nuclear missile corps, after recent training failures, security missteps, leadership lapses, morale problems and stunning breakdowns in discipline prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to demand action to restore public confidence in the nuclear force.

Air Force leaders are planning to offer bonus pay to missile force members, fill gaps in their ranks, offer a nuclear service medal and put more money into modernizing what in some respects has become a decrepit Minuteman 3 missile force that few airmen want to join and even fewer view as a career-enhancing mission.

The potential impact of these and other planned changes is unclear. They do not appear to address comprehensively what some see as the core issue: a flagging sense of purpose in a force that atrophied after the Cold War ended two decades ago as the military's focus turned to countering terrorism and other threats.

GAO faults Energy Department for questionable uranium transfers

The Washington Post

A Government Accountability Office report faulted the Energy Department for allowing uranium transfers that ignored laws concerning fair pricing and national security to benefit the now-bankrupt USEC, The Washington Post reports.

US, Iran hold direct nuclear talks in Geneva

GENEVA (AP) — Negotiators from the United States and Iran have held face-to-face talks in Geneva in hopes of pushing forward efforts to reach a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear program.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington that U.S. and Iranian officials met for more than five hours Monday and the talks are expected to continue all day Tuesday.

Harf said the substance of the discussions was kept private to "give them the best chance of success."

U.S. firm hired to filter Fukushima water


Tokyo Electric Power Co. has hired U.S.-based Kurion Inc. to filter strontium and other isotopes from water stored at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, Bloomberg reports.

US reassembles key officials for Iran nuke talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is reassembling key members of the diplomatic team that held secret negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, leading to a breakthrough agreement, and sending them to Geneva for direct talks with representatives from Tehran in hopes of making progress toward a comprehensive final deal.

The discussions involving Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden's top foreign policy adviser, are set for Monday and Tuesday. The European Union's political director, Helga Schmid, will sit in.

The interim deal reached in November by Iran and six world powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — limited Iran's uranium enrichment program. In exchange, some penalties imposed against Iran were eased. But sanctions such as those targeting Iran's oil imports, have remained in place.

Nuclear agency chief pledges freedom to disagree

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission pledged Friday to set a tone where staffers can disagree with their bosses without fear of retaliation.

Responding to an in-house survey that reflected concern about freedom to dissent, Allison Macfarlane said it's important to encourage debate in an agency dealing constantly with highly technical issues.

"I maintain an open-door policy myself," Macfarlane said in an interview with The Associated Press after visiting two nuclear power plants in Michigan. "Any employee is welcome to make an appointment and talk to me. We encourage an open, collaborative work environment. We encourage all managers and supervisors to have similar policies."

EPA carbon rule may encourage nuke plant construction


New nuclear plants could provide carbon-free power generation to help the push toward cutting emissions, while new designs for them address many of the concerns over safety, according to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, Platts reports.

West: Iran must clear up nuclear arms allegations

VIENNA (AP) — The U.S. and its allies stuck to their demands on Wednesday that Iran clear up all suspicions it worked on nuclear arms if it wants full sanctions relief — suggesting a broad new accord isn't likely by a July target date.

The comments outside a 35-nation board meeting of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency added to doubt that a comprehensive deal with Iran — including a conclusion on whether it worked on nuclear arms — can be reached by the informal July 20 deadline.

UN probe of Iran nuke program may slow Iran talks

VIENNA (AP) — The head of the U.N. nuclear agency suggested Monday that a probe of suspected atomic arms work by Iran may stretch into next year — which would push Tehran's overall nuclear agreement with world powers long past the July 20 target date.

The International Atomic Energy Agency investigation is formally separate from six-power talks with Iran that are meant to build on a first step-accord struck late last year and focus on substantially trimming Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for full sanctions relief.

The U.S. and its western allies at the negotiating table insist that Iran and the IAEA must wrap up the investigation as part of the overall nuclear agreement that Iran and the powers want to finalize by July 20.

Senate Environment hearing on NRC post-Fukushima reforms

Washington, June 4, 2014, 9:30 am

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, "NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety." NRC members to testify.


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