World News Brief, Wednesday March 16

Japanese PM warns of "very high" radiation leak risk; Nuclear industry faces renewed scrutiny amidst crisis; Nikkei loses sixth of value in two days; China to avoid exchange rate negotations at G20; Iran angry as foreign troops enter Bahrain, Intelligence reports question Afghan surge, one year on; and more

Top of the Agenda: Nuclear Crisis Widens in Japan

Japan's nuclear crisis (NYT) drifted toward catastrophe on Tuesday following an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that damaged the core in one reactor, and a fire in another that ejected large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. In statements to the press, Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged calm, but cautioned "a very high risk" of further leakage. The blast is the third in four days at the plant, and appears to have damaged the reactor's containment system (BBC) for the first time. Japanese officials claim that radiation readings (CNN) outside the plant had spiked, but have returned to level not harmful to humans.

Japan's Nikkei stock average (FT) closed down 10.6 percent on Tuesday. A sixth of the market's value has been erased in just two trading days since the earthquake. In response to the Japanese crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (DeutscheWelle) announced Berlin will shut down all seven of its nuclear power plants that began operation before 1980.


US nuclear power faces renewed scrutiny amid Japan's crisis, but it is far too early to gauge the damage suffered by Japan's industry and the effect on US atomic energy's future, says CFR's Michael Levi.

This editorial for Japan Times examines the nuclear crisis and suggests that the Japanese government and power industry "failed to implement necessary safeguards" and recommends a full review of the country's nuclear generation policy.


This CFR interactive guide explores the past, present, and future of nuclear power, focusing on its unique benefits and risks.

This interactive map from the Financial Times shows the areas of greatest devastation and the locations of Japan's key energy infrastructure.

This interactive feature from the New York Times demonstrates how a reactor shuts down and what happens in a meltdown.


PACIFIC RIM: China Currency Not on G20 Agenda

According to Chinese officials, the exchange rate for Chinese yuan (ABC) will not be part of the G20 negotiations on March 31 in Nanjing. Beijing faces pressure from its trading partners to let the yuan rise in an effort to correct trade imbalances that favor Chinese exports.



- Iran Condemns Saudi Troops in Bahrain
- Questions About Afghanistan Surge, One Year On
- Pakistan Delays Davis Immunity Decision


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