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Nuclear workers to be balloted for strikes in pensions row

Staff at Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria after among the nuclear workers set to be balloted for strike action. Credit: PA

Thousands of nuclear workers across the UK are to be balloted for strikes in a row over pensions.

Around 16,000 workers from several trade unions will vote on whether to organise walkouts over Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's plans to make £660 million savings.

The workers are based at the following sites:

  • Sellafield (Cumbria)
  • Magnox (Anglesey)
  • Ayrshire
  • Dorset
  • Dumfriesshire
  • Essex
  • Gloucestershire
  • Gwynedd
  • Kent
  • Oxfordshire
  • Somerset
  • Suffolk
  • Direct Rail Services (Cumbria)
  • Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (Caithness)
  • Low Level Waste Repository (Cumbria)
  • International Nuclear Services (Cumbria, Warrington)

The unions said the Government's expectation is for final salary pension schemes in place across the NDA estate to be reformed by April 2018.

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB, said action was proposed as the Government was "determined to break its promises" and was "not prepared to negotiate".

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Hitachi agrees deal to help fund UK nuclear plant

An artist's impression of the planned new nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd. Credit: Natural Resources Wales

Hitachi Ltd and the Japanese government have reached a deal worth around 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) to fund a UK nuclear power plant project, according to a government official.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan will provide financing for the project, the official told Reuters.

The funding plans are a boost for the project, one of several new nuclear plants planned in the UK, which wants to replacing its ageing fleet of atomic reactors.

Hitachi's Horizon unit plans to construct at least 5.4 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity across two sites in Britain.

The funds will be provided for the first plant planned at Wylfa Newydd in Wales.

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Iran: US-imposed missile test sanctions are 'illegitimate'

US sanctions imposed on Iranian entities as punishment for a recent ballistic missile test are illegitimate, the Islamic Republic has said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Washington's profitable sales of weaponry to the Middle East undermined the sanctions, which deny 11 companies and individuals access to the US banking system.

"The US sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile programme ... have no legal or moral legitimacy," he said.

The UN's atomic watchdog found Iran had upheld promises to drastically scale back its nuclear programme. Credit: Reuters

"America sells tens of billions of dollars of weaponry each year to countries in the region. These weapons are used in war crimes against Palestinian, Lebanese and most recently Yemeni citizens," he said.

The dispute came after international nuclear sanctions were lifted on Iran for dramatically cutting back its nuclear programme and dumping tonnes of uranium in return for a lifting of crippling sanctions.

US president Barack Obama said the west had “cut off every single path” that Iran could have used to build a nuclear weapon through the landmark deal.

Iran prisoner swap shows warming relations with US

Dr Sanam Vakil

The release of a US journalist and three other dual citizens by Iran shows the extent to which relations have improved between the former foes, a Middle East analyst has said.

Dr Sanam Vakil said the releases under a bilateral prisoner swap had been a "surprise addition" to a landmark nuclear deal that saw international sanctions on Iran lifted last night.

"Its a sign of the confidence building that has come out of the nuclear agreement," she said.

Neither Iran nor the United States have had diplomatic relations for well over three decades - there's a lot of tension and mistrust.

But its sign that this is an administration in Iran that is seeking to build bridges and in areas of mutual interest there can be cooperation.

– Dr Sanam Vakil
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