A 1954 nuclear test on the Bikini Atoll. Photo: Wikimedia
The Pentagon is facing its worst cash crunch in more than a decade, with potential cuts of up to a half-trillion dollars over the next decade if Congress doesn’t act soon. Yet the U.S. military still somehow found the money on Tuesday to put a down payment on a $10 billion upgrade of its nuclear weapons in Europe — y’know, just in case there’s another Cold War.
The $178 million, three-year contract with Boeing is for a prototype “tail kit” for the B61 nuclear weapon. The fins and control systems will be similar to the ones on today’s conventional, GPS-guided bombs, potentially making this enhanced version of the B61 the most accurate weapon of mass destruction ever. It’s one part of a bigger package of improvements to the B61 that the Pentagon insists it needs in order to keep this slice of its nuclear arsenal ready for war, if needed. Everything from the spin rocket motors to the electronic neutrongenerators will be refreshed. Total cost: an estimated $10 billion.
Just about the only thing that won’t change is the weapon’s nuclear “pit,” and who the U.S. military plans on dropping the thing on. “Who’s the target? The Red Army. The Red Army that’s sitting in East Germany, ready to plunge into Europe,” explains. Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “No, I’m serious.”
The U.S. has other, bunker-busting nuclear weapons that might be employed if, God forbid, there was ever an atomic showdown with North Korea or Iran. These so-called “B61 mod 12s” are meant to replace the 180 or so earlier models that are currently deployed in Western Europe. And those weapons are meant to assure our allies that if Russia is ever in the mood to invade, America will be there with a capital-B Bomb. “Continued funding support is essential to the long-term safety, security, and effectiveness of our nation’s nuclear deterrent force,” Gen. Robert Kehler, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, told Congress last year.
Plants At Undercapacity
The declines however should be limited due to reduced nuclear power generation. A large number of nuclear plants have been down unexpectedly and it may take time to bring them online. U.S. nuclear generation is materially below normal for this time of the year, which should provide a floor to natural gas prices.
From Babylon, southern Iraq. Babylonian, about 539-530 BC
A declaration of good kingship.
This clay cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform with an account by Cyrus, king of Persia (559-530 BC) of his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC and capture of Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king.
Cyrus claims to have achieved this with the aid of Marduk, the god of Babylon. He then describes measures of relief he brought to the inhabitants of the city, and tells how he returned a number of images of gods, which Nabonidus had collected in Babylon, to their proper temples throughout Mesopotamia and western Iran. At the same time he arranged for the restoration of these temples, and organized the return to their homelands of a number of people who had been held in Babylonia by the Babylonian kings. Although the Jews are not mentioned in this document, their return to Palestine following their deportation by Nebuchadnezzar II, was part of this policy.
This cylinder has sometimes been described as the ‘first charter of human rights’, but it in fact reflects a long tradition in Mesopotamia where, from as early as the third millennium BC, kings began their reigns with declarations of reforms.
By: The Associated Press
Posted: 10:55 AM
NORFOLK, Va. – Captain James T. Kirk will be on hand when the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is officially retired.
A publicist for William Shatner tells the Daily Press (http://bit.ly/TtShbw ) that the actor will attend the ship’s inactivation ceremony Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk. Shatner is scheduled to perform Friday in Newport News.
Shatner played Kirk at the helm of the starship Enterprise in the “Star Trek” television series and several movies.
The world’s first-nuclear powered aircraft carrier returned to Norfolk from its final deployment earlier this month. Saturday’s inactivation will be its last public ceremony.
British anti-nukes campaigners are pressuring the government to change course on replacing its Trident nuclear weapons system at an annual cost of £3 billion and rather spend the money on housing.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said £3 billion is enough to build 30,000 homes in Britain every year that would fully eliminate the country’s need to build extra homes for social housing while creating 60,000 new jobs each year.
“Around 30,000 extra homes need to be built in the UK every year to meet the need for social housing. This would cost about £3 billion annually. £3 billion is what this country is currently spending every year on nuclear weapons,” the campaign group said.
“It’s a straight swap, homes or bombs. That’s why we’re calling on the government to get rid of Trident and build homes instead,” it added.
The CND has also launched a letter-writing campaign to British Chancellor George Osborne ahead of the December 5 parliamentary announcement on the way forward for the economy to pressure him to change policy on Trident.
This comes as Britain is pushing full steam ahead with a Trident replacement plan that the CND earlier estimated to cost the country more than £100 billion.
Evidence proves that the graph trumpeted by AP as evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is an obvious sham
An article published by Associated Press
about Iran’s nuclear program has sparked controversy (screen shot of AP story)
It’s important to return to the story about AP’s nuclear Iran “exclusive” which I wrote about yesterday. Although it was intuitively obvious that the graph trumpeted by AP as scary and incriminating of Iran’s nuclear program was actually a farce, there is now new, overwhelming, very compelling scientific evidence that is the case. Whether as victim or recklessly culpable participant, AP helped perpetrate a dangerous hoax, and owes an explanation and accounting for what took place, including identifying the “officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program” who made false claims about what this is.
To begin with, the graph AP touted as reflecting some sort of nefarious, highly threatening and complex nuclear calculation is, in fact, widely available all over the Internet in the most innocuous places. Just consider this side-by-side comparison of the AP graph on the left, with the graph on the right on this harmless site designed to teach beginner users how to use Microsoft Excel:
At the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS), Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress on Wednesday night wrote: “Graphs such as the one published by the Associated Press can be found in nuclear science textbooks and on the Internet.” Similarly, Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, a professor of chemical engineering at USC and expert in Iran’s nuclear program, told Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olum that “too many graphs like this can be generated by a competent undergraduate student.” So what AP presented to the world as some sort of highly complex, specialized document was, in fact, nothing more than a completely common graph easily found in all sorts of public venues.
Even worse, the calculations reflected on this graph are patently ridiculous. Butt and Dalnoki-Veress document that the graph “does nothing more than indicate either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax” [emphasis added]. That’s because, they explain, “the diagram features quite a massive error, which is unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level”; namely:
“The image released to the Associated Press shows two curves: one that plots the energy versus time, and another that plots the power output versus time, presumably from a fission device. But these two curves do not correspond: If the energy curve is correct, then the peak power should be much lower – around 300 million ( 3×108) kt per second, instead of the currently stated 17 trillion (1.7 x1013) kt per second. As is, the diagram features a nearly million-fold error.”
This error is patently obvious to anyone versed in nuclear physics. Nima Shirazi yesterday spoke with Dr. M. Hossein Partovi, who teaches coursesin thermodynamics and quantum mechanics at Sacramento State, and he echoed the BAS scientists:
“[Dr. Partovi], noting that the graph is plotted in microseconds, explains that ‘the graph depicted in the report is a nonspecific power/energy plot that is primarily evidence of the incompetence of those who forged it: a quick look at the energy graph shows that the total energy is more than four orders of magnitude (forty thousand times) smaller than the total integrated power that it must equal!'”
ASTANA. November 29, 2012, 20:52. BNews.kz
The former head of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi sent a letter in 1992, which pledged billions of dollars for the maintenance of nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan, the UN Deputy Secretary K.Tokayev said at Nazarbayev’s readings today.
The UN Deputy Secretary Tokayev remembered this fact of the political history of the young Kazakhstan today at the First Nazarbayev’s readings “I clearly remember several episodes of the dramatic history of the young state. In the beginning of 1992 Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry received a letter for Kazakhstan President from the leader of Libyan revolutioner Muammar Gaddafi, who called (Kazakhstan) to keep its nuclear arsenals at the territory of the country as ‘the first Islamic nuclear bomb’ and promised to provide a multi-million aide for its maintenance. This message must be somewhere in the archives and in my view it would be better to disclose it, so that our people and future generations and researches get a better picture of the dynamics of that difficult time,” Mr. Tokayev said.
“Such generous promises from a rich country’s leader could seem very attractive for any irresponsible politician, especially since Kazakhstan was facing very complicated economic problems after the collapse of the Soviet Union generous promises of rich nations could seem very attractive, but a real statesman is different from a common politician because he does not think in terms of immediate opportunistic benefits. He is governed by strategic considerations. Our nation’s leader has a political long-sightedness, he looks forward and sees a lot,” the UN Deputy Secretary said.
“The plan is to ship away some 21,000 spent nuclear fuel elements that today are stored in bad condition at the storage in Andreeva bay. The spent fuel comes from the reactors of Soviet subs and were placed there in the 70`s and 80`s.”
November 26, 2012
“It is our assessment that efforts related to a safe shipping lane between Andreeva bay and Murmansk is an important contribution to the safety of the entire operation,” says Norway’s top nuclear safety official Ole Harbitz.
Simultaneously as Russia deploys several new multi-billion nuclear submarines near its Arctic border to the west, Norway is analyzing how to upgrade the shipping lane inside territorial waters outside the coast of the Kola Peninsula.
The aim of the project is to improve sea safety for transport of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from Andreeva bay in the west, via the Saida bay to Atomflot base in Murmansk. This is the very same coastline where all of the Russian Northern fleet’s nuclear powered submarines are based, from Litsa to Severomorsk.
Norway’s Foreign Ministry granted the first NOK 200,000 (€27,300) to this project in May this year. The money comes via the long-lasting Norwegian grant program for improvements of nuclear safety in Russia.
[NOTICE!!! This information not confirmed!] Iranian nuclear officials are being secretive about the nature of an incident in the Iranian Isfahan nuclear plant that sent many staff members to nearby hospital emergency rooms Wednesday. The head of Iran’s Medical Emergency Agency told reporters that staff members of an Isfahan Nuclear plant “have observed some symptoms.” He stressed that all medical emergency units in Iran should be ready to “confront nuclear incidents.” “Those who have been around UCF Isfahan, have shown symptoms and are receiving treatment,” said Gholamreza Masoumi to Iranian state-run news agencies. He did not mention a specific time for the incident nor did he volunteer any details about the nature of it. “We have not yet had any incident outside nuclear designated areas,” he said. Masoumi said that the agency has been training the medical emergency unit staff on providing treatment for nuclear incidents. Masoumi told Mehr news agency that recently the Iranian government has formed a “Nuclear Emergency” task force to provide services that would be needed following nuclear incidents. Furthermore, Nuclear Emergency centers in provinces where nuclear sites are located will receive a boost. Masoumi stressed that there has never been an incident of nuclear leakage at any Iranian nuclear plant. Radio Free Europe reported that following the publication of this incident, Mehr news removed the article from its website, however, on June 28, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Freidoon Abbasi, tried to play down the incident. “Any kind of incident may occur in any plant,” said Abbasi to Iranian Fars News. “However it does not mean that such events lead to spread of radioactive material.”
Workers of Iran’s Isfahan nuclear facility experience health problems
Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 28 /Trend S.Isayev, T. Jafarov/
Some of the workers of Iran’s Isfahan uranium conversion facility (UCF) have been experiencing some health problems at work, the head of Iran’s emergency services, Gholamreza Massoumi said, Mehr reported on Tuesday.
Massoumi did not specify what kind of health problems the workers experienced.
There has also been no announcement made from the Isfahan’s facility itself.
“There is at the parliament a powerful group of parliamentarians and senators who are pro-nuclear, with some formerly from EDF,” she said, referring to the state utility that is Europe’s biggest electricity producer. “They are so close to the (nuclear) lobby that they are called ‘EDF allies’.”
By Muriel Boselli
PARIS | Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:26am GMT
(Reuters) – For decades, the elite engineers turned out by Paris’s grand Corps des Mines academy were faithful followers of the pro-atomic creed that transformed their country into the most nuclear-reliant nation in the world.
But a new generation of Mines graduates is starting to question that policy. It is a change of mindset that could aid efforts by President Francois Hollande to cut reliance on nuclear power from 75 percent to 50 percent of the electricity mix by 2025.
“Noone at the Corps des Mines questions the need for nuclear power in the energy mix, however the younger generation is more concerned about the environment and leaving room for other energy sources,” said Francois Bordes, a 40-year old Corps des Mines graduate who advises businesses on energy efficiency.
Bordes is part of a generation of Mines engineers who believe atomic energy has a role to play – but not the dominant one given it by elders who helped build the world’s second-largest nuclear programme after the United States.
“There is a generation gap between Mines members who had key jobs during the three booming post-war decades and those who started out in the past 15 years,” Bordes added.
The Corps des Mines was founded in 1794 to turn France’s now-exhausted coal mines to the advantage of Europe’s industrial revolution. But after World War Two it won a new raison d’etre when Corps des Mines engineer Pierre Guillaumat worked with De Gaulle to create the state-funded CEA nuclear research body.
It became an example of French post-war “dirigisme” – the policy under which the state seeks to direct the economy – determining how nuclear energy was used for civilian and military purposes, with the development of France’s atomic bomb.
“A RISKIER WORLD”
The construction of 58 nuclear reactors prompted successive French governments to investmassively in electric heating to absorb the supplies. France became the world’s top electricity exporter.
Now some Mines graduates say the heavy dependence on one energy form means France struggles to cope with seasonal demand spikes.
“We believed for too long that nuclear energy was cheap and that we could, for example, massively develop electric heating as a result. This is nonsensical,” said Vincent Le Biez, a 27- year-old Mines graduate.
Alumni include Anne Lauvergeon, ex-head of nuclear giant Areva, current head of France’s nuclear energy watchdog ASN, Pierre-Franck Chevet, his predecessor Andre-Claude Lacoste, and Jacques Repussard of the IRSN nuclear safety institute.
The nuclear industry’s image was tainted in the eyes of the French public after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when the nuclear watchdog insisted radioactive contamination from the accident had not spread to French territory.
In fact it released vast quantities of radioactive material over the whole of Europe and France was no exception. For many French, the episode created the perception of an invisible pro-nuclear lobby pushing its interests against those of the nation.
France’s nuclear lobby is hard to pin down because it is intricate. Its critics tend to be anti-nuclear NGOs or green politicians with no ministerial experience. A rare exception is Corinne Lepage, former ecology minister under Alain Juppe’s government between 1995 and 1997.
Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs
Climate Change news is very worrying, with latest research showing that the Arctic permafrost is thawing, and that this is likely to cause runaway releases of Co2, and irreversible global warming.
Japan is again the focus, as campaigning heats up for their December 16th elections. Nuclear power is the major issue, and Prime Minister Noda reaffirmed his plan to phase out nuclear power. Smaller political parties are uniting to form a stronger no-nuclear campaign.
Egypt is quite a worry at the moment, President Mohamed Morsi decided to give himself dictatorial power. In a volatile Middle Eastern country, with a nuclear power program, this is not a good look, not a safe look.
Investigation of remains of Yassa Arafat should shed light on whether or not he was murdered by use of radioactive polonium.
South Korea. To add to their worries about their planned nuclear export industry, and domestic safety, nearly 1000 more nuclear quality certificates have been found to be fakes.
UK govt boasts that it will not subsdise new nuclear power. But they craftily got around this, by promising electricity suppliers a definite price that consumers must pay for what they call “Low Carbon” energy. That lovely phrase, “Low Carbon” is code for nuclear power, with a bit of renewable energy chucked in, too.
USA. 60,000 homes near nuclear reactors in Illinois to be given Potassium Iodide pills, just in case of radiation exposure. Federal government casting around to find communities willing to host nuclear waste dump
India. Confusion and uproar over reported plan to dump Kudakulam nuclear waste into Kolar old gold mines.
Computer hackers got into International Atomic Energy Agency’s server, demanding an open investigation into Israel’s nuclear program.
Julian Assange’s book “Wikileaks” is published, with its warning on Internet surveillance
Rupert Murdoch might get big control of media in USA, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering changes to media cross-ownership rules. He is likely start by taking over the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, if the rules are weakened.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.
November 28, 2012
Using a calculator, I found that Lake Biwako occupies less of Shiga Prefecture than I thought. On a map, its blue expanse appears to cover a third of the prefecture. But in fact the lake occupies slightly less than 17 percent. Its significance as a water supply for 15 million residents along the Yodogawa river makes the lake look larger than it is.
Yukiko Kada, 62, is the governor of Shiga—and the guardian of Lake Biwako. She has announced the formation of a party, Nippon Mirai no To (Japan Future Party), with the banner of “moving on from nuclear power.” Kada, also an environmental sociologist, has retained a strong attachment to the lake since her student days at Kyoto University. Her motivation in forming the new party is a sense of crisis: that if a major accident occurs at one of the nuclear reactors on Wakasa Bay in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, Lake Biwako would be contaminated with radioactive materials—and so would the water it supplies.
25 NOVEMBER 2012
“The first victims of a serious nuclear accident are and will be children, with an increase in allergies and an aggravation of infectious diseases, which become chronic and involve serious complications…
“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot admit that these serious and common illnesses were caused by ionising radiation, because once known, it would prevent the development of the nuclear industry throughout the world. The IAEA… denies the health catastrophe and gives priority to economic considerations; its statutes forbid attributing to, or associating serious illness with, radiation. Incorrect estimates delay the evacuation of communities that have been highly exposed to radiation. It was almost incomprehensible that at Fukushima there was no distribution of stable iodine to the population that would soon be under threat.”
Fukushima: precious time has been lost
by Dr. Michel Fernex, Emeritus Professor, Basel Faculty of Medecine and Former Consultant, World Health Organization, 2 August 2012
“What should WHO have done after Chernobyl ?” asked Dr Nabarro in 2002 when he was Acting Director-General of the World Health Organization. I replied immediately, and then confirmed it in writing: “Convene a Scientific Working Group on Ionising Radiation and Genetics” like the one in 1956, and add the words “and Genomic Instability”.
The pledge amounted to a slight hardening of announcements made earlier this year when his cabinet said it would work towards scrapping nuclear power by the end of the 2030s
Japan goes to the polls on December 16, with most commentators expecting no party to gain overall control of the powerful lower house. A possibly shaky coalition government is seen as the likeliest outcome.
Japan’s ruling party to phase out nuclear power Radio Australia, 28 November 2012, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to rid Japan of nuclear energy in coming decades as he set out his party’s platform before next month’s general election. Continue reading
Shiga governor mulls new no-nuclear party, Japan Times, 27 Nov 12 Move might rally others unwilling to bend on ‘third force’ objectives Kyodo OTSU, Shiga Pref. — Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada is considering founding a new political party with the key goal of phasing out nuclear power, sources said Monday.
Although Kada didn’t make it official when she met the press in Otsu in the afternoon, her reported move to create a new party ahead of the Dec. 16 Lower House poll quickly drew attention from other small parties that aren’t fitting into the major “third
force” that has been evolving around Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) led by ex-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. Continue reading