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Westinghouse-Toshiba Buys South African Nuclear Firm

Tensions Rise in the Horn of Africa

From Volume 6, Issue 46 of EIR Online, Published Nov. 13, 2007
Africa News Digest

Westinghouse-Toshiba Buys South African Nuclear Firm

Nov. 7 (EIRNS)—In what could turn out to be a significant boost to the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR)—arguably the safest and most versatile of the nuclear reactors in operation presently—the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation, has bought the South African firm IST Nuclear. IST Nuclear is a leading provider of services and systems for South Africa's unique PBMR project.

Westinghouse, which opened its newly acquired South African operation on Nov. 5, "has long been a proponent of the PBMR, and this acquisition will allow us to become even more involved as PBMR moves toward commercialisation," Nick Liparulo, vice president of engineering services for Westinghouse, said in a statement. At this point in time, however, Westinghouse is in the bidding for building two AP1000 pressurized water reactors in South Africa.

IST Nuclear was instrumental in the early development of the PBMR, working with South Africa's state-owned power supplier ESKOM and U.S.-based investors, including Westinghouse. More recently, IST Nuclear supplied a helium test facility for the PBMR. The company is also under contract to design key systems for a PBMR demonstration unit to be built at Koeberg, South Africa's only nuclear plant, by 2011.

Tensions Rise in the Horn of Africa

Nov. 9 (EIRNS)—Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu, backing Somalia's shaky Transitional Federal Government (TFG), were engaged today in heavy fighting, with the insurgents ostensibly seeking to uproot the TFG. The clash killed at least 40 Somalis.

The eruption of violence in Mogadishu coincides with a recent report of the International Crisis Group (ICG), warning the international community that the "Great Game" between Eritrea and Ethiopia has brought the Horn of Africa to the verge of war. The ICG believes the war could break out within a couple of weeks, qualifying its observation by claiming that both Eritrea and Ethiopia are ruled by narrow elites, which take all major decisions in secrecy, making it difficult to be precise in predicting events.

The ICG warning is based upon an alarming level of military build-up on both sides along their common border over the past few months. The war situation has developed because of the virtual breakdown of the Algiers agreement, which had stopped the war in 2000.

Ethiopia claims an encroachment by Eritrean troops into the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), demarcated in the Algiers agreement. Ethiopia announced on Sept. 25 that it was considering terminating the Algiers agreement. In reply, Eritrea accused Ethiopia of repeated violations of that peace treaty and has called upon the UN Security Council to enforce the decision on the boundary dispute.

In this conflict, the most important external factor is the United States, ICG claims. Having recognized Ethiopia as the primary power in that area, Washington has remained virtually oblivious of Ethiopia's power plays. On the other hand, Washington has played tough with Eritrea. Recently, the U.S. State Department threatened that it may declare Eritrea a state sponsor of terrorism, because of aid the State Department alleges Eritrea is supplying to the anti-TFG, anti-Ethiopian insurgents in Somalia.

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