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Iraq plans nuclear power plants to tackle electricity shortage | Business and Economy News

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Iraq is working on a plan to build nuclear reactors as the electricity-starved petrostate seeks to end the widespread blackouts that have sparked social unrest.

OPEC’s No. 2 oil producer – already suffering from power shortages and insufficient investment in aging plants – needs to meet an expected 50% jump in demand by the end of the decade. Building atomic plants could help to close the supply gap, though the country will face significant financial and geopolitical challenges in bringing its plan to fruition.

Iraq seeks to build eight reactors capable of producing about 11 gigawatts, said Kamal Hussain Latif, chairman of the Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority. It would seek funding from prospective partners for the $40 billion plan and pay back the costs over 20 years, he said, adding that the authority had discussed cooperation with Russian and South Korean officials.

Plunging crude prices last year deprived Iraq of funds to maintain and expand its long-neglected electricity system. The resulting outages triggered protests that threatened to topple the government.

“We have several forecasts that show that without nuclear power by 2030, we will be in big trouble,” Latif said in an interview at his office in Baghdad. Not only is there the power shortage and surge in demand to deal with, but Iraq is also trying to cut emissions and produce more water via desalination — “issues that raise the alarm for me.”

Raising financing will be a major task given that Iraq has suffered budgetary crises amid volatile oil prices. Even with crude at about $70 a barrel now, the country is only just balancing its budget, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

The government will also have to tackle geopolitical concerns around the safety of atomic energy, which have stymied nuclear ambitions elsewhere in the region.

Nuclear power, which doesn’t produce carbon dioxide, would help Gulf states’ efforts to cut emissions as governments worldwide look to become greener. The technology would also allow them to earmark more of their valuable hydrocarbons for export. Saudi Arabia, which is building a test reactor, burns as much as 1 million barrels of crude a day in power plants during its summer months when temperatures soar beyond 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

The Iraqi cabinet is reviewing an agreement with Russia’s Rosatom Corp. to cooperate in building reactors, Latif said. South Korean officials this year said they wanted to help build the plants and offered the Iraqis a tour of reactors in the United Arab Emirates run by Korea Electric Power Corp. Latif said the nuclear authority has also spoken with French and U.S. officials about the plan.

Kepco, Rosatom

Kepco, as the Korean energy producer is known, is not aware of Iraq’s nuclear plans and hasn’t been in touch with Iraqi officials or been asked to work on any projects there, a company spokesman said Tuesday. Rosatom didn’t immediately comment when asked about an agreement with Iraq.

Even if Iraq builds the planned number of power stations, that still won’t be sufficient to cover future consumption. The country already faces a 10-gigawatt gap between capacity and demand and expects to need an additional 14 gigawatts this decade, Latif said.

With this in mind, Iraq plans to build enough solar plants to generate a similar amount of power to the nuclear program by the end of the decade.

Iraq currently boasts 18.4 gigawatts of electricity, including 1.2 gigawatts imported from Iran. Capacity additions mean generation will rise to as much as 22 gigawatts by August, but that’s well short of notional demand that stands at almost 28 gigawatts under normal conditions. Peak usage during the torrid months of July and August exceeds 30 gigawatts, according to the Electricity Ministry. Demand will hit 42 gigawatts by 2030, Latif said.

The nuclear authority has picked 20 potential sites for the reactors and Latif suggested that the first contracts could be signed in the next year.

It won’t be Iraq’s first attempt to go nuclear. Four decades ago, an Israeli air strike destroyed a reactor under construction south of Baghdad. The Israelis alleged the facility, called Osirak, was aimed at producing nuclear weapons for use against them. Iraq suffered more than a decade of violence and upheaval after the 2003 U.S. invasion, which was also motivated by allegations that Iraq wanted to develop weapons.

(Updates with Kepco comment in 10th paragraph.)
–With assistance from Dina Khrennikova, Olga Tanas and Heesu Lee.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Kanungu DHO Dr Sebudde Dies of Covid19

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Dr Stephen Ssebudde the Kanungu District Health Officer has succumbed to COVID-19.

Dr Ssebudde passed away on Sunday evening at Entebbe hospital where he has been receiving treatment for Covid19 after he started feeling unwell early this week.

News of his death was confirmed by a family who told this reporter that Ssebudde died at around 6Pm after three days of admission in Entebbe Hospital.

“Kanungu District Health Officer Dr Ssebudde died at around 6pm today after 3 days of admission in Entebbe Hospital. As per family, RIP” message from a family member reads.

Hajji Shaffiq Ssekandi the Kanungu Resident District Commissioner who also heads the District COVID-19 taskforce described Ssebudde’s death as a big blow to the district health department since he has been working selflessly to ensure that all people in the community are equally served when it comes to health.

His death comes at a time when the country has already registered cumulative confirmed covid19 cases of 61,977 representing a test positivity rate of 18.7%.

The country has 884 Active cases on admission, 48,160 Cumulative recoveries, and 428 total deaths.

According to Ministerial statistics, 777,895 Persons have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The post Kanungu DHO Dr Sebudde Dies of Covid19 first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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Iran says it has broad agreement with the US on lifting sanctions | Boycott Divest and Sanctions News

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The landmark accord has been delayed because there are some sticking points, but not an impasse, Iran said.

By Bloomberg

Iran said it has reached a broad agreement with the U.S. over the lifting of sanctions on its industrial sectors, including energy, but warned there was “very little time left” for world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, didn’t give more detail on the potential easing of trade restrictions, which have all but prevented the Islamic Republic from exporting oil and battered its economy. The landmark accord was being delayed because there are still sticking points, he told reporters in Tehran on Monday.

Oil markets are closely watching the negotiations, which are taking place in Vienna, for any clues as to when the OPEC member will be able to resume crude sales and how quickly Washington will allow it to ramp up production.

“Some minute technical, political, legal and practical issues remain,” Khatibzadeh said. “No task was impossible for negotiators” and there’s no impasse, he said.

Brent crude rose 1% to $73.43 a barrel at 8:50 a.m. in London, extending its gain this year to 42%. Traders have pushed back their estimates for Iran’s oil comeback as the talks drag on.

World powers are trying to revive the 2015 agreement that the U.S. abandoned three years ago. It restricted Tehran’s atomic activities in return for sanctions relief.

On Saturday, Iran’s lead envoy in Vienna, Abbas Araghchi, said a deal was unlikely before presidential elections in his country this Friday.

President Hassan Rouhani — who negotiated the original deal in 2015 — is due to leave office in August after serving two terms. He is widely expected to be replaced by Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric generally seen as hostile to engaging with the U.S.

Still, a government spokesman said last week that the decision to try to resuscitate the accord was made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and won’t be affected by Rouhani’s departure.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Who’s who in Israel’s new patchwork coalition government | Middle East News

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Israeli prime minister came to an end as the country’s parliament on Sunday approved a new coalition government led by right-wing nationalist leader Naftali Bennett.

The new government, a hodgepodge of political parties, has little in common other than a desire to unseat now-former Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The coalition spans from the far-left to the far-right and includes for the first time a small party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for 21 percent of the country’s population.

Analysts say it is expected to focus mostly on economic and social issues rather than risk exposing internal rifts by trying to address major diplomatic issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian leaders have dismissed the change in government, saying new the Israeli prime minister will likely pursue the same right-wing agenda as his predecessor.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued said it was “inaccurate” to call Bennett’s coalition government a “government of change” unless there was a significant shift in its position on the Palestinian right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Here are the leaders who will be leading the new government:

Naftali Bennett – prime minister

Naftali Bennett will serve as Israel’s prime minister for two years until he is replaced by Yair Lapid [Fiel: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Bennett leads the ultranationalist Yamina (Rightwards) party that champions illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A former Netanyahu ally, Bennett has defended his decision to join the new coalition to save the country from a period of political turmoil that could otherwise see a fifth election in just over two years. He served in previous Netanyahu-led governments, most recently as defence minister.

He is opposed to Palestinian independence and strongly supports illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and much of the international community see as a major obstacle to peace. Settlements are illegal under international law.

The Israeli leader has in the past called for the annexation of the occupied West Bank but analysts believe that plan seems unfeasible, given his new centrist and leftist partners.

Bennett, who made a fortune in Israeli high-tech before entering politics in 2013, is known to be ultra-liberal on the economy.

The new prime minister has expressed opposition to reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. And in his speech in the Knesset after winning the vote, he vowed to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy towards Iran.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Under the coalition deal, Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years and until he is replaced by Yair Lapid. He will be the country’s first leader to wear a kippah, a skullcap worn by Orthodox Jews.

Yair Lapid – foreign minister

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid heads the Yesh Atid party [File: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP]

Yair Lapid heads the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party and was the architect behind the new government. His party is the biggest in the coalition but he agreed to share power with Bennett to secure a parliamentary majority.

He quit his job as a TV anchor in 2012 and formed his own party, running on the promise to ease financial pressures on the middle class. He also seeks to end many of the state-funded privileges enjoyed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, a long-running source of anger for many secular Israelis.

He initially served as finance minister before moving to the opposition, which he led until Sunday.

Lapid will serve as foreign minister for two years and then take over as prime minister until the end of the government, provided it lasts that long.

Benny Gantz – defence minister

Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz is also the leader of the Blue and White party [File: Jalaa Marey/AFP]

Just two years ago Gantz, a former military chief heading the centrist Blue and White party, was the opposition’s best hope to unseat Netanyahu.

He came closer than other contenders to toppling Netanyahu in an unprecedented three elections between April 2019 to March 2020, preventing the former prime minister from forming a governing bloc of right-wing and religious parties.

But he agreed to join Netanyahu in a “unity” government last April, a decision that angered many of his supporters.

He will be a part of the new coalition, remaining in the post of defence minister that he held under Netanyahu.

Avigdor Lieberman – finance minister

Israel’s Minister of Finance Avigdor Lieberman leads the Yisrael Beitenu party [File: Ammar Awad/Reuters]

A far-right immigrant from Moldova who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, Lieberman has been a political wildcard over the past decade. He has joined Netanyahu governments, including as defence minister, but also quit.

As finance minister, he will have to rein in a budget deficit that ballooned during the coronavirus crisis.

He has also said he will try to change the status quo between the government and Israel’s politically powerful ultra-Orthodox minority, which is a mainstay of Netanyahu’s outgoing government.

The ultra-Orthodox community has low participation rates in the workforce and relies heavily on government handouts while focusing on religious studies. Lieberman has said he will work to integrate them more into the economy.

Gideon Sa’ar – justice minister

Likud party member Gidon Saar was the main rival of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu [File: Abir Sultan/EPA]

Gideon Sa’ar was Netanyahu’s main rival within Likud, but the former prime minister did his best to keep him out of the spotlight and away from the highest-level portfolios. Frustrated, Sa’ar launched a failed leadership bid then spun off his own party.

As head of the New Hope party, Saar will be bumped up to justice minister, where he will oversee the legal system and become a member of the security cabinet.

Mansour Abbas – deputy prime minister

Mansour Abbas is the leader of the United Arab list [File: Abir Sultan/AFP]

Abbas’s small United Arab List will be the first party in an Israeli government to be drawn from Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

He split with other Palestinian politicians who prefer to remain outside government and cast aside differences with Bennett and other right-wingers to tip the scales against Netanyahu.

Abbas is expected to serve as a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office. He aims to negotiate a big increase in government spending in Palestinian towns and villages.

But his presence is a potentially destabilising factor. He has been criticised by Palestinians for agreeing to support an Israeli government while Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories.

Addressing these tensions, Abbas told the Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday: “There will be difficult decisions to be made, including security decisions. We have to juggle our identity as Palestinian Arabs and citizens of the State of Israel, between civil and nationalistic aspects.”

 



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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