Japan’s energy pact with Turkey raises nuclear weapons concerns Asahi Shimbun, This article was compiled from reports by Sachiko Miwa in Tokyo and Kazuyuki Kanai in Istanbul., 7 Jan 14, A pact required for Japan’s first nuclear plant export after the Fukushima disaster faces opposition over concerns about a possible proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Debate over the issue is expected when the government seeks Diet approval for the nuclear energy agreement with Turkey during a session that convenes this month. Japan and Turkey agreed to conclude the nuclear energy pact, a precondition for exporting nuclear technology, in May. It requires the recipient country to use technology, as well as equipment and materials, only for peaceful purposes.
However, the pact includes a provision allowing Turkey to enrich uranium and extract plutonium, a potential material for nuclear weapons, from spent fuel if the two countries agree in writing. A senior Foreign Ministry official said the clause was added at the request of Turkey.
The agreement would also pave the way for exporting Japan’s enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technologies if revisions are made.
The provision has sparked criticism that it contradicts Japan’s stance against nuclear weapons. Continue reading
The Last Gasp of American Democracy Common Dreams, by Chris Hedges, 8 Jan 14
This is our last gasp as a democracy. The state’s wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us—one of the final ones, I suspect—is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives.
The public debates about the government’s measures to prevent terrorism, the character assassination of Edward Snowden and his supporters, the assurances by the powerful that no one is abusing the massive collection and and storage of our electronic communications miss the point. Any state that has the capacity to monitor all its citizenry, any state that has the ability to snuff out factual public debate through control of information, any state that has the tools to instantly shut down all dissent is totalitarian. Our corporate state may not use this power today. But it will use it if it feels threatened by a population made restive by its corruption, ineptitude and mounting repression. The moment a popular movement arises—and one will arise—that truly confronts our corporate masters, our venal system of total surveillance will be thrust into overdrive…….
The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling, a climate in which government killing and torture are used against only a handful of unmanageable renegades. The totalitarian state achieves this control, Arendt wrote, by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized. It turns the courts, along with legislative bodies, into mechanisms to legalize the crimes of state.
The corporate state, in our case, has used the law to quietly abolish the Fourth and Fifth amendments of the Constitution, which were established to protect us from unwarranted intrusion by the government into our private lives.
The loss of judicial and political representation and protection, part of the corporate coup d’état, means that we have no voice and no legal protection from the abuses of power. The recent ruling supporting the National Security Agency’s spying, handed down by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, is part of a very long and shameful list of judicial decisions that have repeatedly sacrificed our most cherished constitutional rights on the altar of national security since the attacks of 9/11. The courts and legislative bodies of the corporate state now routinely invert our most basic rights to justify corporate pillage and repression. They declare that massive and secret campaign donations—a form of legalized bribery—are protected speech under the First Amendment.
They define corporate lobbying—under which corporations lavish funds on elected officials and write our legislation—as the people’s right to petition the government. And we can, according to new laws and legislation, be tortured or assassinated or locked up indefinitely by the military, be denied due process and be spied upon without warrants
Obsequious courtiers posing as journalists dutifully sanctify state power and amplify its falsehoods—MSNBC does this as slavishly as Fox News—while also filling our heads with the inanity of celebrity gossip and trivia. Our culture wars, which allow politicians and pundits to hyperventilate over nonsubstantive issues, mask a political system that has ceased to function……..http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/06-1
Niger and France reach impasse on uranium talks EurActiv 7 Jan 14 Negotiations between Niger and the French nuclear energy conglomerate Areva have hardened as the two sides seek to reach an agreement on uranium extraction in the Western African country. EurActiv.fr reports.
The talks are still ongoing despite a 31 December deadline, with fiscal matters seen as the most sensitive issue.
Discussions centre on the implementation of Niger’s 2006 mining law that allows Niamey to increase taxes on uranium extraction. Areva refuses to comply with the taxation rules and wants to conserve the fiscal exonerations foreseen by the previous extraction agreement.
Although uranium represents 70% of Niger’s exports, it only contributes 5.8% to its GDP, according to Oxfam, the development NGO. …….
“The mines are under maintenance until mid-January,” Areva says, refusing to link the progress in the negotiations with the current maintenance operations.
For Oxfam, this is no less than blackmail. “This is typical for this kind of trade negotiations: laying-off employees temporarily, thereby raising the spectre of unemployment,” claims Anne-Sophie Simpere, an advisor at Oxfam.
Areva is also using another lever in the negotiation, warning about the drop in global demand for uranium since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. According to the French multinational, the Japanese nuclear disaster has put the profitability of the two mines in Niger at risk…..http://www.euractiv.com/development-policy/negotiations-niger-france-areva-news-532604
Advisor to Iran supreme leader urges direct nuclear talks with U.S. LA Times, By Ramin Mostaghim and Carol J. Williams December 27, 2013, TEHRAN — The chief foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for direct talks with the United States on nuclear issues, a possible sign from the supreme leader that he is amenable to ending the animosity that has defined relations with Washington for 34 years.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been the target of fierce criticism by political and religious hard-liners since he helped broker a deal with the United States and five other Western powers last month that will put Iranian high-level enrichment of uranium on hold for at least six months…….
The next round of talks between Iran and the six powers is to begin Monday in Geneva, and Velayati’s appeal for addressing each nation’s particular concerns individually could clear away obstacles to a permanent agreement imposed by some of the ideologically diverse P5-plus-1 members. http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-iran-us-nuclear-talks-20131227,0,592216.story#ixzz2onYWZ5xt
SPECIAL REPORT-The U.S. government lab behind China’s nuclear power push Dec 20, 2013 Dec 20 (Reuters) – Scientists in Shanghai are attempting a breakthrough in nuclear energy: reactors powered by thorium, an alternative to uranium.
The project is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government body with close military ties that coordinates the country’s science-and-technology strategy. The academy has designated thorium as a priority for China’s top laboratories. The program has a budget of $350 million. And it’s being spearheaded by the influential son of a former Chinese president.
But even as China bulks up its military muscle through means ranging from espionage to heavy spending, it is pursuing this aspect of its technology game plan with the blessing – and the help – of the United States. Read more »
The discussion about the pending and increasing dilemmas as to how to deal with North Korea. North Korea perceived as an increasing threat,
– North Kore a being an increasing threat…..
.North Korea in 2001 still the country remaining communist, closely spied by its Government, cut off from almost all outside contacts and over and over armed…….
It is one of those countries who perceive in their isolation threats from the outside world, – perceive their family neighbour from the south as an enemy, – perceive the US as an enemy. And in all this are preparing for conflict, – being both irrational and pointless……. Continue reading
Study warns of nuclear instability in South Asia , THE HINDU, 18 Dec 13 NARAYAN LAKSHMAN A book released this week by a major think-tank in Washington has cautioned that in the fifteen years since India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998, they have together introduced 17 new nuclear weapon-capable delivery systems and this has produced “conditions that could lead to uncontrolled escalation.”
One of the authors of the study, Michael Krepon of the Stimson Centre, told The Hindu that although Indian and Pakistani leaders said after the 1998 tests that “offsetting nuclear capabilities would be stabilising and that they would facilitate more normal relations… things haven’t worked out that way.”
The book, Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia, provides an uncompromising analysis of the dangers that have emerged in the sub-continent from recent developments in the nuclear field, including Pakistan’s introduction of short-range, tactical delivery vehicles, or “theatre nukes” whose utility depends on their proximity to battlefields and “leaves much to chance.”…….http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/study-warns-of-nuclear-instability-in-south-asia/article5469010.ece
The Treasury Department announced last week that it would freeze assets and ban transactions for companies and individuals that attempt to evade U.S. sanctions and continue doing business that helps Iran’s nuclear industry. The move prompted Iranian negotiators to leave ongoing talks in Geneva Thursday evening, saying it was against the “spirit” of the deal reached last month to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
“That was a very wrong move,” Zarif told CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer in an interview from Tehran. He said he was “saddened” by the move but that he is committed to the short-term deal meant to allow for a longer, six-month period of negotiations.
“We are committed to the plan of action and the implementation of Geneva – but we believe it takes two to tango,” Zarif said. “The process has been derailed, the process has not died,” he added later. “We are trying to put it back and to correct the path, and continue the negotiations because I believe there is a lot at stake for everybody.”
Many U.S. lawmakers are still eager for a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, even if they were only made operative in six months if the attempt to reach a long-term nuclear deal fails…….www.cbsnews.com/news/nuclear-talks-are-derailed-not-dead-iranian-official-says/
Iran Nuclear Accord Is a Good Deal, BU Today, Critics of agreement miss the lessons of history 12.09.2013 By Robert Loftis Strip away all the rhetoric, and the November 23 agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program emerges as an exercise in realism. It recognizes that three decades of enmity and distrust will not be erased overnight, nor can the knowledge of how to make a nuclear weapon be destroyed. This interim agreement represents a first step in verifiably ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program can be strictly limited to peaceful purposes. It is definitely a path worth pursuing.
The outlines of the agreement are simple: in return for a six-month halt to certain construction and enrichment activities, conversion and dilution of an existing 20 percent of enriched uranium stocks, and intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States and other powers will offer limited relief from crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.
In essence, it deprives Iran of the opportunity to readily further enrich uranium to levels of purity necessary for nuclear weapons. Over the course of this six-month agreement, the sides will explore the possibility of a comprehensive pact that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is limited to civilian purposes and that treats Iran as any other signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If, during the next six months, it becomes clear that the Iranians are cheating or trying to hide a military program, then the sanctions can be reimposed immediately and further steps considered. It is worth highlighting that the Iranians made this agreement not just with the United States and its European allies, but also with the Russians and the Chinese. The Iranians would have to weigh the costs of crossing its most sympathetic global powers by failing to live up to the agreement.
Far from being the “historic mistake” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends, the accord is the first step toward a goal that we all claim to share: an Iran that does not pose a nuclear threat to our friends and allies. …………….http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/pov-iran-nuclear-accord-is-a-good-deal/
Israel wants Australia to use its influence in UN Security Council to amend nuclear deal with Iran SMH, December 11, 2013 Peter Hartcher, Israel has urged Australia to use its new found influence to force a much tougher deal on Iran over its nuclear program.
Israel’s Minister for the Economy, Naftali Bennett, told Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Israel ”badly wants a deal” to halt Iran’s nuclear progress, Mr Bennett said.
Israel is deeply unhappy with the terms of the interim deal negotiated by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the so-called P5 – plus Germany on November 24. ……..Australia can be an important factor in shaping the final deal, due in six months, Mr Bennett said, because it is a member of the UN Security Council next year and also the chairman of the council’s sanctions committee on Iran.
Iran has agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear program and dilute its most highly concentrated uranium in return for a partial easing of the international sanctions that have forced it into recession.
Israel’s essential demand is that Iran be forced to surrender its nuclear fuel-making machinery. Where the P5+1 deal has allowed Iran to keep its centrifuges for concentrating uranium into nuclear fuel, Israel wants them removed. : http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/israel-wants-australia-to-use-its-influence-in-un-security-council-to-amend-nuclear-deal-with-iran-20131210-2z42x.html#ixzz2nBQ2kJxj
John Kerry defends Iran nuclear deal to Congress sceptics BBC News 10 Dec 13, US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the six-month nuclear deal struck with Iran to a sceptical panel of congressmen.
Mr Kerry said if the US Congress imposed new sanctions against Iran, it would risk the “delicate” diplomatic effort needed for a larger deal.
The US and other world powers have promised no new sanctions in exchange for a curb of Iran’s nuclear programme.
But US critics of the deal say it gives Iran cover to expand the programme.
And they have called for even tougher sanctions now, saying they would strengthen the hand of the so-called P5+1 group of nations engaged in negotiations with Iran…………
“I would state to you unequivocally, the answer is yes, the national security of the United States is stronger under this first-step agreement than it was before,” Mr Kerry said…….
During the hearing in the House foreign affairs committee, Mr Kerry was accused of grovelling to the Iranian government and letting down allies, the BBC’s Jonny Dymond reports.
But our correspondent says Mr Kerry pushed back against every suggestion of weakness on Iran, stressing that without a deal, the country would be closer to developing nuclear weapons.
“We are asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs and that includes asking you while we negotiate that you hold off imposing new sanctions,” Mr Kerry told the panel……http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25326782
One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately run international court.
Previously leaked TPP documents have sparked alarm among global health experts, Internet freedom activists, environmentalists and organized labor, but are adamantly supported by American corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information — banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents
Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal HUFFINGTON POST 12/09/2013 WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation, according to two internal memos obtained by The Huffington Post. Continue reading
Obama says Iran could be allowed a modest nuclear enrichment program President Obama says that it isn’t realistic to try to force Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear complex, but that strong monitoring would be needed. LA Times, By Paul RichterDecember 7, 2013, WASHINGTON — President Obama signaled Saturday that he was prepared to allow Iran to enrich uranium on its own soil, saying that a final deal could be structured to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
Obama also put the odds of success for the upcoming international negotiations with Iran at not “more than 50-50.”…….
But Obama is struggling to sell the deal in the face of intense resistance from Congress, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others who fear it will leave Iran with the ability to secretly edge toward a nuclear weapons program. Congress may adopt new sanctions in the coming weeks that Obama fears could upset the fragile diplomacy before negotiations resume.
The comments marked the first time that Obama has acknowledged Iran could be granted international approval to enrich uranium to low levels, provided it satisfied world concerns about its nuclear program and agreed to intrusive monitoring. ……….http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-obama-us-mideast-20131208,0,2891554.story#axzz2mzg6eYug
Niger says seeks better uranium terms from French Areva au news 6 Dec 13Paris (AFP) – Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said in Paris on Friday that his country wanted to renew its uranium mining agreement with French nuclear giant Areva, but on more equitable terms….. Areva’s contract to extract uranium in the west African country expires on December 31, after more than four decades of mining at two sites on the southern edge of the Sahara, with a third under development………http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/world/a/20197961/niger-says-seeks-better-uranium-terms-from-french-areva/
analysts at Liberum Capital argued that the guarantees offered to EDF could prove to be “economically insane”. They said by agreeing an inflation-linked price Davey had made a huge bet the cost of fossil fuels would rocket by the time Hinkley Point starts operating in 2023.
“The government cannot escape that clear fact by talking about ‘support mechanisms’ and ‘insurance policies’ instead of ‘subsidies’,” the committee said in a report.
European commission inquiry into Hinkley Point deal could delay project Brussels to look at UK state aid for nuclear power plant after government offers EDF Energy a set price for 35 years The Guardian, Tuesday 3 December 2013 The government’s deal to underwrite the £16bn Hinkley Point nuclear power station plan faces delay and possible rejection after the European commission said it was ready to launch an in-depth inquiry into the agreement.
The EU competition commissioner said Brussels was likely to investigate the deal, which guarantees a minimum power price for 35 years, to make sure it conformed with state aid rules. The commission frowns on national governments offering deals to companies that stifle competition and distort the market.
Joaquín Almunia said: “We are starting to analyse what is in the British proposal. Probably we will open a formal investigation because many people are asking the same question [whether the UK's agreement was too long].”
Energy secretary Ed Davey gave the go-ahead in October for a consortium led by France’s EDF Energy to build the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset. Its two reactors will cost £8bn each and will provide enough power to supply 7% of Britain’s homes for 60 years.
Davey agreed a minimum price of £92.50 for every megawatt hour (MWh) of energy that Hinkley Point generates – almost twice the current wholesale cost of electricity. The deal with EDF was unprecedented and made the UK the first European country to offer a set price over 35 years for a new nuclear project……..
- Almunia gave no indication of how long an investigation might take but the commission sees the government’s deal with EDF, Areva and China’s General Nuclear Power as complex and highly novel. An investigation is therefore likely to be in-depth to investigate all aspects of the proposals……..
- The government’s proposals were always likely to receive attention from the commission but Almunia’s comments suggest they will be subjected to intense scrutiny.
The UK wants the EU to accept that nuclear power should be given special status like renewable energy but Germany and Austria oppose such a move and Hinkley Point is likely to be considered like any other state aid case.
Moves by the commission to block or radically alter the nuclear deal could spark a major dispute between London and Brussels. Many Conservative MPs and constituency parties are virulently opposed toEurope‘s influence over UK policy and David Cameron has pledged a referendum on UK membership of the EU if the Tories win the 2015 election……
- The government’s case was dealt a blow a month ago when analysts at Liberum Capital argued that the guarantees offered to EDF could prove to be “economically insane”. They said by agreeing an inflation-linked price Davey had made a huge bet the cost of fossil fuels would rocket by the time Hinkley Point starts operating in 2023.
The House of Commons’ environmental audit committee has also criticised the government for refusing to admit that the Hinkley Point deal had subsidised EDF and its consortium partners.
“The government cannot escape that clear fact by talking about ‘support mechanisms’ and ‘insurance policies’ instead of ‘subsidies’,” the committee said in a report.
EDF declined to comment.http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/02/european-commission-inquiry-hinkley-point-deal
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