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
Iran nuclear deal foes rein in criticism LA Times, The deal’s backers and opponents are recalibrating strategies in light of war-weary Americans’ conflicted views of Iran and strong support for the accord. By Paul Richter November 27, 2013, WASHINGTON — As they prepare for battle over the new deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the accord’s supporters and foes are calibrating strategies based on their reading of Americans’ conflicted views about the Islamic Republic.
American war-weariness forms a big part of the Obama administration’s campaign for the accord, a preliminary agreement to curb Iran’s disputed nuclear program. Administration officials have said that without a diplomatic deal, the country would be on a “march to war.”
For now, the administration appears to have the upper hand. Many skeptics of the deal, who issued sharp criticism shortly after its announcement, have since muted their words.
Instead of attacking the agreement directly, opponents have pinned their hopes on continued American suspicion of Iran and its leaders. They expect the government in Tehran to fail to meet its obligations under the agreement and are poised to go on the offensive if that happens.
“Critics of the deal are reluctant to attack it too frontally because they realize how popular it is,” said Dylan Williams, legislative director for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that supports the deal……
a Reuters-Ipsos survey released Tuesday showed 44% of respondents supported the new accord; 22% opposed it. If the deal failed, 49% would favor more sanctions, 31% wanted more diplomacy, and 20% wanted to turn to military force.
“The appetite for military engagement anywhere is very low,” said pollster Julia Clark of Ipsos. After two wars that were far longer and costlier than expected, “we in the public feel burned.”……….
The preliminary agreement between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., was announced Sunday in Geneva. It would temporarily ease some of the sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy in return for a halt to key aspects of the country’s nuclear program.
The deal is intended to allow time to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear program…….
Israeli officials have strenuously opposed the accord, and lawmakers who support Israel have been prominent among the deal’s critics. But statements from major pro-Israel organizations in the United States have been relatively mild………http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-iran-deal-20131128,0,7605298.story#axzz2m40yK2dZ
World Bank says no nuclear investment http://www.skynews.com.au/businessnews/article.aspx?id=928794 November 28, 2013 The World Bank and United Nations have appealed for billions of dollars to provide electricity for the poorest nations but say there will be no investment in nuclear power.
‘We don’t do nuclear energy,’ said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim on Wednesday, as he and UN leader Ban Ki-moon outlined efforts to make sure all people have access to electricity by 2030. Kim said $US600-800 ($A659-878) billion a year will be needed to meet the campaign target of universal access to electricity, doubling energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy by 2030. In some countries, only 10 per cent of the population has electricity.
So far, the campaign has a pledge of one billion US dollars from the OPEC Fund for International Development, Bank of America has raised $US500 million through the world’s first ‘green bond’ and Norway has committed to spend two billion krone (US$325 million) on renewable energy efforts in 2014.
Kim said the World Bank is preparing energy plans for 42 countries that would be ready in June, but said any money raised would only go to new power sources. ’Nuclear power from country to country is an extremely political issue,’ Kim told reporters.
‘The World Bank Group does not engage in providing support for nuclear power. We think that this is an extremely difficult conversation that every country is continuing to have. ’And because we are really not in that business our focus is on finding ways of working in hydro electric power in geo-thermal, in solar, in wind,’ he said.
‘We are really focusing on increasing investment in those modalities and we don’t do nuclear energy.’
Kim highlighted private financing for power expansion in Nigeria and Ivory Coast and said efforts were being made to launch a similar deal for Myanmar, where the government has launched major reform efforts. ’We are working and moving very quickly to try to ensure that Myanmar experiences a clear democracy dividend,’ Kim said. The World Bank chief said it had been difficult to find long term capital for poorer countries but insisted: ‘We will show investors that sustainable energy is an opportunity they cannot afford to miss.’
The key is that the nuclear village retains veto power over national energy policy and citizens will not get to decide the outcome even if an overwhelming majority support phasing out nuclear energy. In addition, Washington is leaning on the Japanese government to not pull the plug on nuclear energy.
Japan: Deeply enmeshed in the global nuclear industrial complex Abe’s Nuclear Energy Policy and Japan’s Future 安倍首相の原子力政策と日本の未来 Jeff Kingston : http://www.japanfocus.org/-Jeff-Kingston/3986#sthash.CV9q1CUY.dpufhttp://www.japanfocus.org/-Jeff-Kingston/3986“……..Why has Fukushima not been a game changing event? The institutions of Japan’s nuclear village (principally the utilities, bureaucracy and Diet) enjoy considerable advantages in terms of energy policymaking and have enormous investments at stake. The nuclear village has openly lobbied the government and actively promoted its case in the media while also working the corridors of power and backrooms where energy policy is decided. Here the nuclear village enjoys tremendous advantages that explain why it has prevailed over public opinion concerning national energy policy.
The Global Threat of Fukushima, counterpunch A Global Response is Needed WEEKEND EDITION OCTOBER 25-27, 2013 by KEVIN ZEESE AND MARGARET FLOWERS ”………… The Solutions The three major problems at Fukushima are all unprecedented, each unique in their own way and each has the potential for major damage to humans and the environment. There are no clear solutions but there are steps that need to be taken urgently to get the Fukushima clean-up and de-commissioning on track and minimize the risks.
The first thing that is needed is to end the media blackout. The global public needs to be informed about the issues the world faces from Fukushima. The impacts of Fukushima could affect almost everyone on the planet, so we all have a stake in the outcome. If the public is informed about this problem, the political will to resolve it will rapidly develop.
The nuclear industry, which wants to continue to expand, fears Fukushima being widely discussed because it undermines their already weak economic potential. But, the profits of the nuclear industry are of minor concern compared to the risks of the triple Fukushima challenges.
The second thing that must be faced is the incompetence of TEPCO. They are not capable of handling this triple complex crisis. TEPCO “is already Japan’s most distrusted firm” and has been exposed as “dangerously incompetent.” A poll foundthat 91 percent of the Japanese public wants the government to intervene at Fukushima.
Tepco’s management of the stricken power plant has been described as a comedy of errors. The constant stream of mistakes has been made worse by constant false denials and efforts to minimize major problems. Indeed the entire Fukushima catastrophe could have been avoided:
“Tepco at first blamed the accident on ‘an unforeseen massive tsunami’ triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Then it admitted it had in fact foreseen just such a scenario but hadn’t done anything about it.”
The reality is Fukushima was plagued by human error from the outset. An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design. On this point, TEPCO is not alone, this is an industry-wide problem. Many US nuclear plants have serious problems, are being operated beyond their life span, have the same design problems and are near earthquake faults. Regulatory officials in both the US and Japan are too corruptly tied to the industry.
Then, the meltdown itself was denied for months, with TEPCO claiming it had not been confirmed. Japan Times reports that “in December 2011, the government announced that the plant had reached ‘a state of cold shutdown.’ Normally, that means radiation releases are under control and the temperature of its nuclear fuel is consistently below boiling point.” Unfortunately, the statement was false – the reactors continue to need water to keep them cool, the fuel rods need to be kept cool – there has been no cold shutdown. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/25/the-global-threat-of-fukushima/
Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and onEconomic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.
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