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Government plans to give train operators a place on the board of the company proposed to replace Railtrack fall foul of European law, claim European Commission officials. The plan jeopardises compliance with a European directive governing the separation of train operation from responsibility for track. European Union countries have until March 2003 to comply with the legislation.

Negotiations on a new international agreement aimed at curbing official export credits for environmentally destructive projects have collapsed following disagreements between the US and Europe. The US, which adopted environmental guidelines for export credits in 1995 following the controversy over China's Three Gorges Dam project, said the proposal was too weak.

Partial privatisation of British Nuclear Fuels now looks unlikely before the next election after the government said it would not consider a sale before 2004-05.

North Korea has taken steps to improve the safety of its nuclear plants by signing a quality assurance agreement with a South Korea based consortium leading a project to construct two light-water reactors in the country.

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