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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

USA persuades India to weaken its nuclear liability law – double standards here

Under pressure from GE and Westinghouse, the two American nuclear vendors hoping to sell billions of dollars worth of reactors to India, the Obama administration has demanded that Section 17(b) and Section 46 of the Indian liability law be deleted or amended.

Double standards? The irony is that American nuclear suppliers operate under a domestic liability regime that allows operators to sue them for recovery of damages in the event of an accident. That is how Metropolitan Edison, the operator of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, sued Babcock Wilcox after the infamous 1979 accident.


Modi,-Narendra-USAWhy India should say no to US demand to dilute its nuclear liability law
 The Modi government should resist pressure from Barack Obama, who landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning, to change key provisions to favour foreign supplier of reactors. Siddharth Varadarajan Scroll.in  26 Jan 15 

With the issue of nuclear liability emerging as an obstacle in the relationship between India and the US, the Modi government is under pressure to dilute the law in favour of foreign reactor suppliers. Without this, we are told, it will not be possible to operationalise the US-India nuclear agreement and provide the country with the electricity its people need.

In the event of a major nuclear accident in India, one which damages lives and property, what does the law say about how liability is to be apportioned? Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Details remain vague on nuclear deal between Obam and Narendra Modi

Obama and Modi agree to limit US liability in case of nuclear disaster, Guardian,  in Delhi @RobertsDan 26 Jan 15 Decision set to lead to contracts worth billions of dollars but hopes for a US-China-style air pollution deal are dashed. US industrial interests took centre-stage at the start of Barack Obama’s visit to India as he and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, outlined a deal to limit the legal liability of US suppliers in the event of a nuclear power plant catastrophe.
Modi,-Narendra-USA

Thirty years after an infamous chemical leak killed thousands at Union Carbide’s factory in Bhopal, the threat of tough Indian compensation laws has frustrated US hopes of an export boom in the energy sector – despite an agreement by former US president George W Bush to share civil nuclear technology in 2005.

After pressure from US diplomats, the Indian government was thought to have agreed a state-backed insurance scheme that would cap the exposure of nuclear suppliers and open the door to billions of dollars of new contracts. India will also allow closer tracking of spent fuel to limit the risk of it falling into terrorist hands.

“Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our civil nuclear cooperation,” Obama said on Sunday………

Details of the deal remain vague, however, and officials stressed they were still working out the finer arrangements of the scheme, which is designed to avoid the need to change Indian law……….

The two governments also said they had struck deals to share defence technology and improve dialogue in future, with a security hotline between Obama and Modi……….

“Nuclear liability remains the cinder in the eye of the relationship right now,” Rick Rossow, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in Washington last week. “Nuclear cooperation was the high-water mark for our bilateral history and the fact that India’s nuclear liability law precludes American involvement, it stings.”

US suggestions of full legal indemnity for suppliers were knocked by the Indian government, which is wary of trying to overturn a 2010 nuclear liability law in parliament……. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/25/obama-modi-limit-us-liability-nuclear-disaster

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

US Republicans out to destroy nuclear talks with Iran

fight Iran Sanctions Supporters Don’t Want To Improve Nuclear Talks. They Want To Destroy Them. 
Huffington Post  01/23/2015 WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appeared to have pulled off a masterful political victory against the Obama administration Wednesday when he revealed that he had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the dangers of the administration’s negotiations with Iran.Coming a day after President Barack Obama threatened to veto new Iran-related sanctions legislation that he said could harm the negotiations, Boehner’s move looked like a smart way to reinforce support for such bills — a priority for the Republican-led Congress — by showing that the U.S.’s top ally in the region supported them.

Then things started to fall apart.………

Kerry’s comment altered the conversation, making it about whether Republicans want to torpedo nuclear talks with Iran. The Obama administration describes the negotiations as the only way to ensure that Iran cannot gain a nuclear weapon to threaten the very country Boehner says the administration is failing: Israel. Kerry’s message: It’s Republicans, and the Democrats who support them on new sanctions, who would fail Israel by antagonizing Iran and destroying the chance of a peaceful resolution to the years-long controversy over Tehran’s nuclear program……….

the story had shifted as Kerry boxed the Republicans into admitting their possible true intentions — and all Boehner was left with was a promise for a Netanyahu address at the time of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in early March, by which point the administration has said it hoped to already have a framework for the deal.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu got his own rebuke as the White House revealed that it would not meet with him during that March trip. “We do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.

Ryan Grim and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

This article has been updated to include comments from M  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/22/kerry-israel-boehner-_n_6527826.html

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Mossad breaks ranks with Israel’s PM Netanyahu, warning against Republican inspired sanctions against Iran

flag-IsraelMossad says Netanyahu is wrong about Iran nuclear sanctions, The Times 23 Jan 15 Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has broken ranks with Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, to warn that Republican-inspired sanctions on Iran would wreck nuclear talks.

John Kerry, the secretary of state, said that a senior Mossad official had told him that passing a new sanctions bill would be “like throwing a grenade into the process” of talks towards a deal with Iran on its nuclear programme. The same warning was delivered to a congressional delegation that visited Israel last week – ……(subscribers only)  http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article4331537.ece

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Israel, politics international | Leave a comment

Russia pulls out of US nuclear security alliance

safety-symbol-Smflag_RussiaRussia ends US nuclear security alliance Accord worked to keep stockpiles secure By  BOSTON GLOBE STAFF  JANUARY 19, 2015 WASHINGTON — The private diplomatic meetings took place over two days in mid-December in a hotel overlooking Moscow’s Red Square.

But unlike in previous such gatherings, the sense of camaraderie, even brotherhood, was overshadowed by an uncomfortable chill, according to participants.

In the previously undisclosed discussions, the Russians informed the Americans that they were refusing any more US help protecting their largest stockpiles of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from being stolen or sold on the black market. The declaration effectively ended one of the most successful areas of cooperation between the former Cold War adversaries.

“I think it greatly increases the risk of catastrophic terrorism,” said Sam Nunn, the former Democratic senator from Georgia and an architect of the “cooperative threat reduction” programs of the 1990s.

Official word came in a terse, three-page agreement signed on Dec. 16. A copy was obtained by the Globe, and a description of the Moscow meeting was provided by three people who attended the session or were briefed on it. They declined to be identified for security reasons.

Russia’s change of heart was not unexpected. The Globe reported in August that US officials were concerned about the future of the programs, because of increased diplomatic hostilities between the United States and Russia. The New York Times reported in November that it appeared likely many of the programs would end……..

Now security upgrades have been cancelled at some of Russia’s seven “closed nuclear cities,” which contain among the largest stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, according to the official “record of meeting” signed by the sides in December.

The Russians also told the Americans that joint security work at 18 civilian facilities housing weapons material would cease, effective Jan. 1. Another project at two facilities to convert highly enriched uranium into a less dangerous form also has been stopped.

Lack of US funding and expertise also jeopardizes planned construction of high-tech surveillance systems at 13 buildings that store nuclear material, as well as a project to deploy radiation detectors at Russian ports, airports, and border crossings to catch potential nuclear smugglers.

A limited amount of cooperation will continue in other countries that have highly enriched uranium that originated in Russia. The two sides also will continue working on ways to secure industrial sources of radioactive material, which could be used to make a “dirty bomb.’’ The Russian decision will not affect inspections that both sides regularly conduct of each other’s active nuclear arsenals as part of arms control treaties……….

Some warn that the distrust on both sides could bleed into other areas, including arms control treaties.

“It’s important for the US and Russia to have nuclear security, but it is also important for us to believe we have nuclear security,” said Matthew Bunn, a weapons proliferation specialist at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. “That’s hard to do just by saying so.”

US government officials, for their part, insist they are trying to make the best of it.

“We are encouraged that they statedmultiple times that they intend to finish this work,” said David Huizenga, who runs the nonproliferation programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration, an arm of the Department of Energy. Huizenga led the US delegation to Moscow last month.

But he said US officials still hope that the Russians will change their mind and restart a partnership that by most accounts has significantly strengthened global security.

“[It will be] harder to resurrect if we don’t actually engage in any meaningful way,” Huizenga said.

Bryan Bender can be reached at bender@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBender. http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2015/01/19/after-two-decades-russia-nuclear-security-cooperation-becomes-casualty-deteriorating-relations/5nh8NbtjitUE8UqVWFIooL/story.html

January 20, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Nuclear meeting between USA and North Korea

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea, US have nuclear meeting, SBS News, 18 jan 15 
 North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator has met with US academics and former senior officials in Singapore. US academics and former senior officials have met with North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator in Singapore.

The meeting was set to get a feel for each other’s positions amid a years-long standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons buildup. Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, a US-based nonprofit, told reporters that the meeting will cover the North’s nuclear missile programs.

He said “it’s two ways of taking each other’s temperature.”

The US and North Korea have no formal diplomatic ties, but former US officials occasionally meet the North’s diplomats in a bid to settle the impasse over Pyongyang’s pursuit of a long-range nuclear-armed missile that could hit the US mainland. North Korea’s team was led by Ri Yong Ho, the chief negotiator for six-party denuclearisation talks……http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/01/18/north-korea-us-have-nuclear-meeting

January 19, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

The Convention on Supplementary Compensation, or CSC, for nuclear damage, will come into force on April 15: Japan signed

scrutiny-on-costshighly-recommendedNuclear-Accident Fund Opens as Japan Signs After 17 Years, Bloomberg, By Jonathan Tirone  Jan 16, 2015 Japan signed on to a global nuclear-compensation treaty in Vienna that will create a fund to help victims of accidents like the one that devastated Fukushima Dai-Ichi in 2011.

The Convention on Supplementary Compensation, or CSC, for nuclear damage, will come into force on April 15. The decision taken by Japan, with the world’s third-biggest installed nuclear capacity, ended a 17-year wait for the treaty to become legally binding……….

The convention will allow countries and companies to offset liability in the event of a nuclear accident. The U.S., with the world’s largest installed nuclear-power base, has championed the convention but struggled to get other leading atomic powers on board. ArgentinaMoroccoRomania and theUnited Arab Emirates are the only other signatories………

Countries have struggled to reassure populations about the safety of nuclear power after a 2011 tsunami caused three Japanese reactors to melt down and forced 160,000 people to evacuate their homes. At a meeting next month in the Austrian capital, nations will consider a Swiss-led European initiative forcing nuclear operators to mitigate against accidents.

While the new compensation fund is intended to encourage nuclear trade between companies located in countries adhering to the pact, it won’t come without costs for U.S. manufacturers. Nuclear suppliers will be on the hook to pay at least $70 million in compensation in the event of an accident, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which asked industry for comments last month.

“Initial great expectations for the CSC have been tempered by the long road to its entry into force,” James Glasgow, a partner at Washington-based Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw LLP, wrote last month in an article sent via e-mail. There are still “doubts that the CSC will gain sufficient members to constitute a global regime.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Ben Sills, Leon Mangasarian http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-16/nuclear-accident-fund-opens-as-japan-signs-after-17-years.html

January 17, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | | Leave a comment

Iran can build 2 nuclear reactors: not in violation of Joint Plan of Action

flag-IranState Dept: Iran’s New Nuclear Reactors Don’t Violate Joint Plan of Action by TheTower.org Staff | 01.15.15 Iran’s announced construction of two light-water reactors does not violate the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) signed between Iran and the P5+1 nations in November 2013, a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon today.

“We are aware of the announcement and are reviewing the details,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record. However, “in general, the construction of light water nuclear reactors is not prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions, nor does it violate the JPOA,” the official said. …

“We have been clear in saying that the purpose of the negotiations with Iran is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively for civilian, peaceful purposes,” the official said. “The talks that we have been engaged in for months involve a specific set of issues relative to closing off all possible pathways to Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. That remains our focus.”………http://www.thetower.org/1502-state-dept-irans-new-nuclear-reactors-dont-violate-joint-plan-of-action/

January 16, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Rouhani’s and Obama’s difficult path to a nuclear compromise

RouhaniSaving the Nuclear Deal With Iran, NYT,  By  JAN. 10, 2015 Twice recently, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has acted boldly in support of his biggest political gamble, pursuit of a nuclear agreement with the major powers. In a speech last Sunday on Iran’s troubled economy, he argued that Iran will never enjoy sustained growth if it is isolated from the rest of the world. Three weeks earlier, he made clear that he would confront Iran’s hard-liners in his efforts to clinch a deal in which Iran would agree never to produce a nuclear weapon in return for the lifting of crippling international sanctions.

But Mr. Rouhani is not the only leader trying to keep a potential agreement from being savaged by domestic opponents. President Obama has a similar problem in Congress, where Senators Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, are expected to introduce legislation that could torpedo any deal by imposing new sanctions on Iran, including tighter controls on its battered oil industry.

Negotiators for Iran and the major powers — the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — resume their talks next week in Geneva. While they have made significant progress, they remain at odds over how large a nuclear program — geared for energy production and medical uses — Iran will be permitted to have.

Mr. Rouhani has shown his seriousness by openly challenging the Iranian hard-liners who are hostile to a deal and by appealing for support from intellectuals, academics, businesspeople and others who are open, even eager, for one. To rally political support, he has also hinted that he might bypass established power centers and submit the issue to a popularreferendum. “Our ideals are not bound to centrifuges,” Mr. Rouhani said in reference to the nuclear program.

Mr. Rouhani’s path to compromise is not easy. ……..http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/opinion/sunday/saving-the-nuclear-deal-with-iran.html

January 12, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Little chance that USA will get India to really change its Nuclear Liability Act

Buy-US-nukesInsuring nuclear power   | January 12, 2015 Given the relatively low level of political capital it has in the Rajya Sabha, and the backdrop of the Bhopal gas tragedy and recent tragedies such as the Fukushima disaster in 2011, it seems unlikely the government is going to go out of its way to try and amend the Civil Liability of Nuclear Damage Act in a hurry—the Act has once again come to the forefront with US President Barack Obama coming to the Republic Day function.

text-risk-assessmentSince no US firm is going to build nuclear plants in India until Section 17(b) of the Act allows the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to take action against them in case of a nuclear accident, revoking this has been on the US agenda for a long time. Apart from the political sensitivity around such an action, as finance minister Arun Jaitley acknowledged at a seminar on the Act earlier this week, both the BJP and the Congress had passed the Act—so changing an integral part of the Act doesn’t look as if it is on the cards…….http://www.financialexpress.com/article/economy/editorial-insuring-nuclear-power/28748/

January 12, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nuclear deal offer to USA

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-S-KoreaNorth Korea Offers U.S. Deal to Halt Nuclear Test, NYT By JAN. 10, 2015 SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Saturday that it had told the United States that it would impose a temporary moratorium on nuclear tests if Washington canceled its joint annual military exercises with South Korea to help promote dialogue on the divided Korean Peninsula.

The North proposed its “crucial step” in a message it delivered to the United States on Friday through an unspecified channel, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. In the past, North Korea has relayed messages to Washington through its United Nations mission in New York.

Until now, the United States has dismissed North Korea’s routine demand for an end to its joint military exercises with South Korea. The North has called them a rehearsal for an invasion while the United States and South Korea have insisted that their annual war games are defensive in nature.

But the North’s latest proposal included a new incentive for Washington, offering to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in return for a suspension of the joint military exercises this year.

The North’s overture followed the New Year’s Day speech of its leader, Kim Jong-un, in which he said he was ready to meet with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea if “the mood was right.” Mr. Kim said the two Koreas should mark their 70th anniversary of liberation from Japanese colonial rule this year with great strides toward inter-Korean reconciliation. North Korea has since significantly toned down its habitually harsh language when referring to South Korea…….

The United States on Saturday rebuffed the North Korean proposal……..http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/asia/north-korea-offers-us-deal-to-halt-nuclear-test-.html?_r=0

January 12, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

USA and Russia should not ignore Mikhail Gorbachev’s warning on the nuclear war danger of the Ukraine crisis

Atomic-Bomb-Smflag-UkraineGorbachev issues new warning of nuclear war over Ukraine http://www.dw.de/gorbachev-issues-new-warning-of-nuclear-war-over-ukraine/a-18182899 9 Jan 15 Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that the crisis in Ukraine could lead to a major war, or even a nuclear war. In an interview with a German magazine, he criticized both Russia and the West. In an interview with the German weekly news magazine Spiegel, 83-year-old former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said the crisis in Ukraine could lead to large-scale war in Europe or even a nuclear war. “We won’t survive if someone loses their nerves in the current tension.”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate decried the “loss of trust” between Russia and the West as “catastrophic,” and said ties must be “defrosted.” Gorbachev accused the West and NATO of destroying the structure of European security by expanding its alliance. “No head of the Kremlin can ignore such a thing,” he said, adding that the US was unfortunately starting to establish a “mega empire.”

The man seen as a key player in the reunification of former East and West Germany in 1990 also accused Germany of interfering in Ukraine’s crisis, saying, “The new Germany wants its hands in every pie. There seems to be a lot of people who want to be involved in a new division of Europe. “Germany has already tried to expand its influence of power towards the East – in the Second World War. Does it really need another lesson?”

He said Western attempts to disempower Russian President Vladimir Putin and destabilize Russia were “very stupid and extremely dangerous.” He defended the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula last year, but criticized the Russian leader’s authoritarian style of leadership. He said Russia needed free elections and “the participation of the people in free elections.

“It is simply not acceptable when someone such as the anti-corruption blogger and politician Alexei Navalny is under house arrest for speaking out.”

Recent warnings Gorbachev has warned of a nuclear war on a number of occasions in recent months. In an article for the Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, published on December 11, he warned: “The situation in Europe and the world is extremely alarming … the result of the events that took place in the last months is a catastrophic loss of trust in international relation,” which could lead to war. He urged Russia and the US as well as Russia and the EU to hold talks “without preconditions” and without fear of “losing face.”

“We must think of the future,” the former leader said.

diplomacy-not-bombsUkraine talks On Monday, January 12, the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine are set to meet in Berlin to launch another attempt to break the deadlock in the Ukraine conflict.

The ministers are expected to discuss the possibility of a summit of the four countries’ leaders in Kazakhstan, which Ukraine had suggested take place on January 15.

Regarding the fragile four-month-old ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, which has been broken on a number of occasions, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter S

January 10, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The nuclear dangers in Ukraine energy wars: don’t miss the full article!

What’s profitable for the nuclear industry in the US and Japan is toxic for the EU, particularly its more environmental and anti-nuclear member-nations including Germany and Austria, which will have no choice but to accept this legal precedent for continent-wide fracking and a revival of nuclear power.

highly-recommended

Ukraine Energy Wars Are Leading To  A Fukushima-Chernobyl Debacle In Europe 
By Yoichi Shimatsu. Rense1-5-15
 full article at http://www.rense.com/general96/ukraineenenerg.html
Clashes over energy in Ukraine between the West and Russia could prompt another Chernobyl-type accident or a catastrophe on the order of a Fukushima that will complete the nuclear devastation of the Northern Hemisphere. As news media fixate on conflicts over pipelines that supply Europe with Russian gas, another energy war is erupting over control of Ukraine’s nuclear-power industry, which generates half that nation’s electricity.Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk’s campaign for “energy independence” from Russian-sourced natural gas and nuclear fuel is not a study in cost control, economic security or even national sovereignty. His corporate-giveaway policies are actually a concession to Western energy interests in return for their influence over the EU, which can provide loans to avert an imminent default on Kiev’s debt to the IMF and World Bank. With an annual budget shortfall of $15 billion and a currency collapse, Ukraine is staggering under external sovereign debt estimated at between $140 and $200 billion.

Map-Ukraine-nuke-reactors

The IMF and World Bank have halted further transfers of loan tranches to Kiev, which is now unable to make payments on its gas imports from Russia. Kiev policymakers are therefore desperately looking to expand their nuclear industry. Unfortunately two recent accidents at its largest nuclear-power plant highlight the serious risks to a nation still grappling with the long-term effects of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. ……….
An ongoing series of nuclear-fuel deals between Toshiba-Westinghouse and Ukraine energy monopoly Energoatom is aimed at severing Kiev’s reliance on Russian technology and Kazakh uranium. The competition to supply the global market for MOX (mixed oxides of uranium and plutonium) is pitting a consortium of Westinghouse, AREVA and their US suppliers against their Moscow-based rival Rusatom and nuclear-engineering firm TVE. Continue reading

January 7, 2015 Posted by | politics international, safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Australian uranium miner Paladin will have to comply with Canada’s new tax transparency laws

Canada transparency laws force ASX companies to disclose tax bills, The Age December 26, 2014    Business reporter Two Australian mining companies will be forced to disclose how much tax they pay in every country around the world by new transparency laws introduced in Canada.

Paladin Energy and OceanaGold, both dual-listed in Australia and Canada, will have to comply with new Canadian laws requiring all oil, gas and mining companies to report payments they make to governments overseas, including taxes, royalties, bonuses, regulatory charges and licence fees.

The Australian government is being pushed to introduce similar rules.

The legislation aims to tackle corruption and tax avoidance in poor countries, as well as payments to indigenous groups. It follows mounting global pressure by transparency organisations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to introduce a country-by-country reporting regime.

The new rules are expected to come into force by June 2015 after passing through the Canadian parliament on December 16.

Claire Spoors, a spokeswoman for advocacy group Publish What You Pay, said the Abbott government should consider introducing similar laws in line with Canada’s.

“Australia, as a mining giant, could make a real difference in helping resource-rich but poor countries prosper by ensuring there is greater transparency,” she said.

“Well-managed and properly accounted-for resource revenues can be invested in health, education and putting countries on sustainable development pathways.”……….

the Abbott government has signalled it could water down transparency laws introduced under Labor. The tax disclosure laws would mean that from July, companies with $100 million or more in turnover would have their tax information disclosed on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Fairfax Media the government would review the laws following complaints by private business owners that they could be kidnapped and held for  ransom when people realised how wealthy they were  from their published tax information.

Senator Cormann said the laws showed a “ham-fisted, ill-thought-out approach trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer”.

But advocates say greater transparency will boost confidence in the broader community that large companies are paying their fair share of tax.

Australia has endorsed the OECD’s reporting regime, which is not due to be introduced until 2018.

It has also signed up to the OECD’s common reporting standard for governments sharing tax information, after criticism that it delayed the process by consulting big business.

OceanaGold has operations in New Zealand, the Philippines and Australia. Paladin Energy has projects in Namibia, Malawi, Niger, Canada and Australia.  : http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/canada-transparency-laws-force-asx-companies-to-disclose-tax-bills-20141224-12akhd.html#ixzz3OBT5BW5V

January 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

For world peace, a nuclear arms control agreement between USA and Russia is vital

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag_RussiaA Vital Nuclear Agreement, at Risk, NYT,  By  JAN. 1, 2015There’s much more to the deeply troubled Russian-American relationship than Ukraine. Under the radar, tensions have also been brewing over compliance with a number of arms control treaties that for decades have been vital to keeping the peace between the two nuclear powers and setting an example for other countries.

Washington accuses Moscow of violating at least five of these agreements. A failure to resolve the impasse could have extremely dangerous consequences for the post-Cold War order, since even 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the two sides together possess more than 10,000 nuclear weapons, more than 90 percent of what exists in the world.

The most serious dispute centers on the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which bans both sides from deploying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 300 and 3,400 miles that carry nuclear or conventional warheads. These were among the weapons America once stationed in Europe to demonstrate a commitment to its allies and deter the Soviets from aggression.

Under the treaty, signed by President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, America destroyed 846 missiles and the Soviets, 1,846 missiles. Both sides had come to see the systems as unacceptably risky to their own forces…………….

Despite the dispute, it would be a huge mistake for the United States to withdraw from the I.N.F. treaty, as some congressmen have demanded. That would remove all restraints on Russia and seriously weaken a system of treaties that has been remarkably effective over decades at curbing the spread of destructive weapons.

It would also be a mistake for either side to reintroduce the banned weapons onto their own territory or elsewhere. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, recently asserted Moscow’s right to put nuclear missiles in Crimea, while Brian McKeon, a senior Pentagon official, told Congress this month that one response to Russia’s treaty violation could be to deploy American ground missiles in Europe. New deployments would reverse a trend in which the two countries have substantially reduced their huge arsenals in recent years.

The Obama administration should continue pursuing a diplomatic solution to the treaty dispute and resist the growing pressure in Congress for quick retaliation, which could make the situation worse. And it should explore other forms of pressure, like economic punishment and deployment of new defenses against cruise missiles.

So far, there is no evidence that Russia has deployed its new missiles, which would be a serious escalation. The United States and its allies should make efforts to bring Russia back into compliance with the treaty, and Russia needs to know that defiance will come at a cost.http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/opinion/a-vital-nuclear-agreement-at-risk.html?_

January 3, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

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