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Red Cross and Red Crescent (IRRC) statement to UN on nuclear disarmament

red-cross-and-red-crescentWeapons: ICRC statement to the United Nations, 2016 https://www.icrc.org/en/document/weapons-nuclear-statement-unga-2016   Statement

12 OCTOBER 2016United Nations General Assembly, 71st session, First Committee, General debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items. Statement by Ms Christine Beerli, Vice President of the ICRCI am honoured to address the First Committee today, to bring the field-based experience of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and our expertise in international humanitarian law (IHL) to bear on some of the critical issues that will be discussed here.

For the ICRC, debates about weapons must always consider evidence of their foreseeable human costs in light of the strict limits imposed by IHL on the use of weapons.

States have a unique opportunity to make this 71st session of the UN General Assembly a turning point for progress towards prohibiting and completely eliminating the most destructive weapon ever invented – nuclear weapons.

The international community now has before it overwhelming evidence of the horrific, long-term and irreversible effects of these weapons on health, the environment, climate and food production – that is, on everything on which human life depends.

Already twenty years ago, based on evidence before it, the International Court of Justice (in its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons) found that the effects of nuclear weapons could not be contained in space or time, and concluded that the use of these weapons “would generally be contrary to” the principles and rules of IHL.
Since then, additional new evidence of the indiscriminate effects and unspeakable suffering caused by nuclear weapons has emerged, and was presented at three international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The evidence includes a key finding of the ICRC’s own studies, and those of UN agencies, that there is no adequate humanitarian response capacity to assist the victims of nuclear weapons.
The “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” were explicitly recognized six years ago by all States party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and in several resolutions adopted since then by a large majority of States in the First Committee. These include resolutions on “Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament” and on the “Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons”.

Having recognized these consequences, States now have a responsibility to take decisive action. And they have an unprecedented opportunity to do so, by acting on the recommendation adopted by the UN Open-Ended Working Group “Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations” in August with widespread support, that the General Assembly convene a conference in 2017, open to all, to negotiate a treaty “to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

In 2011, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, of which the ICRC is a part, appealed to all States to “pursue in good faith and conclude with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons through a legally binding international agreement, based on existing commitments and international obligations”. The Movement welcomes that, five years later, such negotiations may become a reality through an inclusive process in the framework of the UN General Assembly.

Although the prohibition of nuclear weapons is only one of the measures needed to ensure they are never again used and are eliminated, it is an indispensable building block in reaching the universal goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. As with chemical and biological weapons, unambiguous prohibition is both the foundation for disarmament and a disincentive for proliferation. It would be a long-awaited step towards fulfilling the NPT’s Article VI obligation to pursue effective measures to achieve nuclear disarmament, and repeated undertakings under NPT Action Plans.

If some States are unable at this time to join negotiations for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, we nevertheless continue to call on them to urgently take interim steps to reduce the immediate risks of intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons. Such steps include reducing the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrine and plans, and reducing the number of warheads on high alert. These and other risk-reduction measures derive from long-standing political commitments, including the Action Plan of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and should be followed through as a matter of urgency. Given the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, any risk of use is unacceptable.

Today’s complex security environment highlights the urgency of both the prohibition of nuclear weapons and action by nuclear-armed States to fulfil their existing obligations and political commitments, leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons once and for all.

Debates in the First Committee have highlighted increasing concerns about theweaponization and hostile use of outer space, with virtually all States seeking to prevent an arms race in outer space. For the ICRC, diplomatic initiatives should give due consideration to the potentially far-reaching humanitarian consequences on earth that would result from direct attacks against “dual-use” satellites (i.e. those used for both military and civilian purposes) or incidental damage to civilian satellites, and the limits already imposed by IHL on any form of warfare, including in space. Use of force in outer space – be it through kinetic or non-kinetic means, using space- or ground-based weapons – could have significant knock-on effects on civilian infrastructure, health-care services and humanitarian operations that depend on satellite communication, navigation and timing, and imagery networks. The vulnerability of space-based systems that serve essential civilian activity on earth presents significant challenges for respecting the IHL rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack, which States should thoroughly weigh up in their deliberations on outer space.

The ICRC is gravely concerned by the use of classical and improvised chemical weapons in Syria over the last three years, confirmed by fact-finding missions of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. While such use has been roundly condemned by the international community, there continue to be allegations of new use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere. At this session of the First Committee, States should reaffirm the absolute prohibitions on using chemical and biological weapons in armed conflict by any actor – State or non-State – in any type of armed conflict. The ICRC urges the handful of States that remain outside of chemical and biological weapons conventions to adhere to them without delay. Under these conventions and customary IHL, every State has a duty to criminalize, prosecute and punish the use of chemical or biological weapons by any individual under its jurisdiction or control.

Current and recent armed conflicts – such as those in Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Gaza – continue to expose the particularly devastating effects on civilians of heavy explosive weapons when used in populated areas. Large bombs and missiles, indirect-fire weapon systems such as mortars, rockets and artillery, multi-barrel rocket launchers, and certain types of improvised explosive devices, are prone to indiscriminate effects when used in population centres, owing to their wide-area effects. In addition to the high risk of incidental civilian death, injury and disability, heavy explosive weapons tend to cause extensive damage to critical civilian infrastructure, triggering debilitating “domino effects” on interconnected essential services such as health care, and water and electricity supply systems. This in turn provokes further civilian death and displacement. And these effects are exacerbated in protracted armed conflicts.

While there is no question that IHL permits parties to armed conflicts to attack military targets located in populated areas, it also constrains their choice of means and methods to do so, with the aim of protecting civilians from unacceptable harm. The ICRC welcomes that a growing number of States are engaging on this crucial humanitarian issue, and we encourage them to share how they put into practice the constraints of IHL on their choice of weapons in urban warfare. We continue to call on States and parties to armed conflict to avoid using explosive weapons with a wide impact area in densely populated areas, owing to the significant likelihood of indiscriminate effects.

It is clear that the tremendous human suffering generated by brutal armed conflicts, notably in parts of the Middle East and Africa, is also a consequence of the flow of conventional arms to warring parties that completely disregard IHL. As the ICRC is witnessing on a daily basis in its field operations, irresponsible arms transfers are facilitating serious violations of IHL, including acts of terrorism and sexual and gender-based violence. It is imperative that all States urgently fulfil their duty to ensure respect for IHL in their arms transfer decisions. This duty underlies the transfer prohibitions and export assessments under the Arms Trade Treaty, which the ICRC urges all States to join and faithfully implement. Ceasing the supply of weapons to parties to armed conflicts that violate IHL will reduce human suffering and ultimately contribute to creating the conditions for regional and global security.

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Religious groups lobby at UN on nuclear weapons ban

Faith groups state nuclear weapons ‘incompatible with values of faith traditions’ at UN General Assembly First CommitteeFifth joint statement highlighting moral and humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons,Religion News Service, 13 Oct 16     NEW YORK — On October 12, a joint statement by religious organizations calling for abolition of nuclear weapons was introduced during the civil society presentations at the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.

Dr. Emily Welty, Vice Moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs, introduced the Public Statement in Support of the Multilateral Negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons Ban in 2017, which reads in part: “Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the values upheld by our respective faith traditions which are also foundational elements in the development of international law—the right of people to live in security and dignity; the commands of conscience and justice; the duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that will safeguard the planet for current and future generations… ”

This is the fifth time the group, calling itself “Faith Communities Concerned about the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons,” has issued such a statement. On this occasion, individuals representing 11 faith-based organizations from the Christian, Buddhist and Islamic traditions have signed the statement so far. The statement can be read in full here……….http://religionnews.com/2016/10/13/faith-groups-state-nuclear-weapons-incompatible-with-values-of-faith-traditions-at-un-general-assembly-first-committee/

October 14, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Safety problems at USA’s nuclear waste dump continue to worry regulators

WIPPWatchdogs concerned about readiness of New Mexico nuke dump, WP   October 13 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A series of recent ceiling collapses at the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository has watchdogs calling on officials to ensure safety before moving ahead with a planned reopening later this year.

U.S. Energy Department officials and the contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico will update the public on the collapses during a meeting Thursday evening.

A radiation release forced the closure of the repository in February 2014. Since then, thousands of tons of waste left over from decades of nuclear weapon research and development have been stacking up at sites around the country, hampering the government’s multibillion-dollar cleanup program.

The waste is meant to be entombed in storage rooms carved out of a salt formation deep underground…….

There have been at least three collapses in recent weeks. In one case, chunks of salt dislodged from the ceiling and tore through chain link fencing that was meant to help stabilize the corridors. There were no injuries.

Don Hancock with the Albuquerque-based watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center said the collapses are no surprise but they raise questions about whether the repository will be ready to reopen in December.

He suggested more collapses could stir up contamination and threaten workers…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/watchdogs-concerned-about-readiness-of-new-mexico-nuke-dump/2016/10/13/5f7038d6-9175-11e6-bc00-1a9756d4111b_story.html?tid=twisira

October 14, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Canadian nuclear safety official in bed with nuclear industry?

in-bedflag-canadaCritics accuse nuclear safety official of acting as industry cheerleader http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/critics-accuse-nuclear-safety-official-acting-as-industry-cheerleader/article32341301/ GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Oct. 12, 2016 Opposition politicians and environmentalists are questioning the priorities of the man responsible for nuclear safety in Canada after a string of incidents in which he publicly defended the industry and was dismissive of concerns about potential hazards – a stance that runs contrary to his mandate at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

People and planet endangered by the Trans Pacific Partnership

TPP would allow firms to turn to secretive international tribunals where they can sue governments for millions or billions of dollars if environmental or other public interest regulations interfere with expected future profits

The TPP undermines sound climate policy. The TPP would ramp up global warming by increasing U.S. coal, oil and gas exports to the world

texy-TPP

7 ways the Trans Pacific Partnership threatens people and the planet, FOE USA,  by Bill Waren, senior trade analyst, 13 Oct 16,    The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is not so much about trade as it is about deregulation and forcing governments to pay corporations and wealthy investors for the cost of complying with environmental and other public interest safeguards. The TPP broadly restricts the policy space for governments to take effective environmental and climate action.

Unlike most international agreements, tribunals of trade lawyers would effectively enforce the TPP. Such tribunals could impose retaliatory sanctions like higher tariffs on the non-complying countries’ exports or award money damages that can run into millions or even billions of dollars.

Trade tribunals often treat environmental and public health regulations as trade barriers.

Until about twenty years ago, trade deals focused on reducing trade barriers like tariffs and quotas. Today’s trade deals, by contrast, focus on curbing the authority of democratic governments and legitimate courts to regulate the global marketplace. Trade tribunals often treat environmental and public health regulations as trade barriers. Trade deals like the TPP focus on dismantling many regulations that are alleged to interfere with the profits of multinational corporations and wealthy foreign investors.

Multinational corporations have lined up behind the TPP, as have Wall Street banks and Big Oil. But over 1,500 public interest organizations, such as internet freedom groups, faith-based organizations, labor unions, women’s & LBGT advocates and environmentalists, are standing up to oppose TPP……

Here are seven ways that the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal threatens people and the planet:

1) TPP investment tribunals subvert democracy. TPP would allow firms to turn to secretive international tribunals where they can sue governments for millions or billions of dollars if environmental or other public interest regulations interfere with expected future profits. This would discourage government action like restricting oil and gas drilling, imposing pollution controls, and limiting the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing). TransCanada, for example, is using a similar provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement to sue the U.S. for $15 billion for stopping construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

2) The TPP undermines sound climate policy. The TPP would ramp up global warming by increasing U.S. coal, oil and gas exports to the world. The TPP is designed to protect “free trade” in such dirty energy products shipped out of West Coast ports. The result would be worsened climate change from carbon emissions across the Pacific.

3) The TPP deal threatens bees. …….

4) TPP threatens deregulation of chemical safety standards…..

5) TPP undercuts prudent food safety regulations. ….

6) TPP encourages GMOs……

7) TPP puts family farms at risk. …….

If you want to join the fight against the TPP, contact Bill Waren at wwaren@foe.org.    https://medium.com/economic-policy/7-ways-the-trans-pacific-partnership-threatens-people-and-the-planet-ad49815f337b#.u2u3a5pif

October 14, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Cuomo’s nuclear plant bailout lets Exelon and Entergy rip off US taxpayers

taxpayer bailoutCuomo wrong on nuclear plant bailout: View, Lohud.com  Michael Shank October 12, 2016
New York state sets a trap with its plan to boost upstate nuclear plants by tacking on a fee to utility customers’ bills  
Bailouts are common in government — at the federal and state level and regardless of political party — and that’s what is happening now in New York for the nuclear industry.

New York’s nuclear bailout is merely the latest example of business getting off scot-free while taxpayers pick up multi-billion-dollar tabs. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to bail out the aging and money-losing Ginna, FitzPatrick and Nine Mile Point nuclear plants, some of America’s oldest nuclear plants owned by Exelon and Entergy, with nearly $8 billion of New Yorkers’ hard-earned money (and another $2.8 billion if energy prices fall).

That decision was made after Exelon alone spent $430,000 in lobbying Albany over the past two years. In the same amount of time, Entergy spent $1.7 million lobbying New York state. Money talks…….

The New York nuclear bailout falls into the same trap that riddled financial industry and auto industry bailout schemes. There’s little corrective action that’s encouraged, or regulated, and so the industry is allowed to continue making the same mistakes — all at a significant cost to our economy. Nothing could be more inefficient. The most common nuclear industry bailout props up companies operating old plants — in desperate need of repair, emitting radioactive waste, leaking toxic material often and keeping cooling systems that kill massive amounts of marine life — with no conditions. And it’s done using taxpayer dollars to prop up companies — such as Fortune 100 Company Exelon with $34 billion in annual revenues — that aren’t in need of extra revenue……

Neither New York’s nuclear industry nor the utilities industry should be passing on these costs to taxpayers, nor should state governments be picking up the corporate tab. These are costs that companies should cover, not citizens. http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/10/12/cuomo-nuclear-plant-bailout/91945160/

October 14, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Washington State seeks legal protection for the health of nuclear workers

justiceFlag-USAWashington State Seeks to Protect Nuclear Site Workers http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/washington-state-seeks-protect-nuclear-plant-workers-42759576  By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SPOKANE, Wash. — Oct 12, 2016     Washington state asked a federal judge Wednesday to issue an injunction requiring the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor to take steps to protect workers at a major nuclear waste storage site.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson says more than 50 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have been exposed to toxic vapors and the “culture of indifference to worker safety must end.”

From January through July, Hanford workers reported suspicious smells or symptoms that indicate exposure to chemical vapors, according to The Tri-City Herald. ( http://bit.ly/2dVsCtf )

U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane heard arguments on the safety issue and the federal agency’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Rice said he would rule at a later date.

Lawyers for the Energy Department have argued in motions that the state lacks standing to bring the lawsuit. Hanford Challenge, an advocacy group, and the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 598 are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The agency has said the plaintiffs in the case have not shown harm to Hanford workers from vapors. It has argued that symptoms like headaches are common and don’t necessarily indicate exposure to vapors.

The state called that claim astounding.

The trial for the case is set for Sept. 18, 2017, but Ferguson said workers can’t wait that long to have a safe workplace.

The injunction would force the agency and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, to provide supplied air for all workers within certain areas. The state also seeks the installation of additional monitoring and alarm equipment to warn workers when toxic vapors are being emitted.

Hanford’s 177 underground storage tanks contain more than 50 million gallons of toxic waste, the byproducts of decades of plutonium production, Ferguson said in a statement. Over a few days in late April and May, at least 48 workers were exposed to vapors from the tanks, and more were exposed in June.

The longterm effects are not known, he said.

October 14, 2016 Posted by | health, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

If they didn’t have mental problems before, Mars travellers sure will afterwards!

45213-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-cover-up-what-radiationMars-goers may face permanent brain damage from cosmic radiation Oct. 12, 2016 Deep space travel could cause serious, irreversible brain damage, NBC News reports. Scientists have long known that leaving Earth’s magnetosphere—the magnetic bubble of plasma surrounding our planet—strips astronauts of their protection from radioactive particles, putting them at higher risk for health issues, including heart disease. Now, a new study out this week in Scientific Reports suggests that changes at the cellular level could also lead to worsened anxiety and even brain cancer. That could be bad news for NASA and other commercial space companies that want to send humans to the Red Planet by 2030. But NASA is working on it: The agency is researching methods to prevent exposure to radiation, which could find their way into new, improved space suits.  http://www.sciencemag.org/news/sifter/mars-goers-may-face-permanent-brain-damage-cosmic-radiation

October 14, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, radiation, Reference | 1 Comment

Thorium polluted site added to America’s National Priorities List.

text thoriumRidgewood’s radioactive hotspot has been added to the state’s Superfund Program http://qns.com/story/2016/10/13/ridgewoods-radioactive-hotspot-added-states-superfund-program/     October 13, 2016

A radioactive, former industrial site on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border that’s already part of the federal Superfund program was recently been added to the state’s Superfund initative, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced.

Recent investigations by city, state and federal agencies at the former Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site, located at 1125 to 1139 Irving Ave. and 1514 Cooper Ave. in Ridgewood, detected radioactivity above background levels within sections of the on-site buildings, the soil beneath and around the facility, and above the area’s adjacent sidewalks, streets and sewers.

As of Oct. 6, the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company site was added to DEC’s Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites as a Class 2 site that presents a significant threat to public health and/or the environment.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), during a 2009-2010 investigation by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC), it was found that “visibly-contaminated soil is typically located within the top four feet under the pavement/ground surface; there is one area where the visibly-contaminated soil is approximately eight to 10 feet deep.”

In more recent years, a study found that radioactivity levels were found in the sewer system nearly a quarter mile away from the site.

The EPA further states that in 2013, “an investigation performed on behalf of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] detected radiological constituents above background concentrations in the sewer system at least as far away as the intersection of Irving Avenue and Halsey Street, approximately 1/4 mile away from the site.”

On May 12, 2014, the site was added to the National Priorities List.

According to the DEC, the Wolff-Alport site is contaminated with radioactive thorium-232, and radon-220 — which is a key component of the thorium-232 decay series and is a radioactive gas commonly referred to as thoron — which emanates from surfaces where thorium-232 is present.

Between 1920 and 1954, Wolff-Alport extracted rare earth metals from monazite sand through a process that led to the production of a sludge containing radioactive thorium. This element was commonly used during the Atomic Age in the development of nuclear weapons and reactors.

For years, workers simply dumped the radioactive sludge into nearby sewers, a practice halted in 1947 at the order of the federal Atomic Energy Commission. The agency purchased the thorium sludge for its own purposes for the next seven years until Wolff-Alport shut down in 1954.

To address the potential health risk at the site, the EPA installed a combination of lead, steel and concrete shielding in several buildings at the site and along a portion of the Irving Avenue sidewalk that is adjacent to the site, as well as a radon mitigation system inside one of the buildings. The former rail spur behind the on-site buildings was also covered with a layer of rock and clean fill.

It was found in subsequent surveys that these steps have reduced exposure rates by between 69 to 94 percent, while radon concentrations were brought down by more than half.

The DEC is set to further investigate and cleanup the site.

While the levels of radiation at the Wolff-Alport site are far less dangerous than other radioactive hotspots across the globe — such as Fukushima in Japan and Chernobylin Ukraine — prolonged exposure to radon and thorium puts people at risk of developing cancer and other illnesses.

QNS has reached out to DEC for comment and is awaiting a response.

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear-powwered USS Ronald Reagan to join U.S.-South Korean joint naval drills

U.S.-South Korean joint naval drills kick off; nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan set to take part, Japan Times, BY , STAFF WRITER OCT 10, 2016

The large-scale naval drills, known as Invincible Spirit, kicked off Monday and are due to run for six days, the South’s navy said in a statement.

On Monday, the allies carried out exercises involving ship-to-ground and submarine-to-ground cruise missiles with average flight ranges of up to 1,000 km, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.

The exercises come just days after reports that the North may be making preparations for a sixth nuclear test or a long-range rocket launch…….

The reclusive nation [North Korea] also stoked concern in August when it claimed to have successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called that test “the greatest success” after the missile landed in Japan’s air defense identification zone, flying about 500 km — its longest test-flight by a weapon of that type.

The SLBM test has left the United States, South Korea and Japan worried that further developmental successes could give the North a difficult-to-detect weapon that would pose a serious security threat to all of them.

The U.S. and its Asian allies have responded to the North’s tests by showing off their own military muscle.

Late last month, the U.S. and South Korea conducted joint naval exercises in the Sea of Japan after Washington earlier in the month flew two supersonic bombers over the South — with one landing on the Korean Peninsula for the first time in 20 years.

One of the bombers also flew the closest a B-1B strategic bomber had ever flown to the border between the North and South. It was the second time in less than a month that the U.S., which has about 28,500 troops in South Korea, had flown bombers over the country. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/10/asia-pacific/u-s-south-korean-joint-naval-drills-kick-off-nuclear-powered-uss-ronald-reagan-set-take-part/#.V__uQeV97Gg

October 14, 2016 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

North Korea on track to ramp up its nuclear weapons

US think tank warns North Korea could develop up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/us-think-tank-warns-north-korea-could-develop-100-nuclear-weapons-by-2020-1585557   Rand Corporation says Pyongyang is testing nuclear missiles that can threaten targets across the Pacific Ocean. By   October 10, 2016  A US-based think tank has estimated that given the pace of North Korea’s nuclear programme, Pyongyang could have enough fissile material to develop up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020. The organisation has warned ahead of the US presidential elections that the new administration would face major challenges from the East Asian country, highlighting the need to review its policy on Pyongyang.

In its latest report, Rand Corporation – an American nonprofit global policy think tank – said that Japan and South Korea are “losing faith in the US nuclear umbrella”. The think tank warned that it was upset as Washington failed to constrain North Korea’s nuclear programme, which has led to the two US allies to call for “independent nuclear arsenals”. Rand Corporation noted that the new administration that takes charge in Washington following the 8 November election would have to focus on tackling the growing security threats in the Korean peninsula.

“During the next four to six years, Pyongyang will possess a nuclear force of sufficient size, diversity, reliability, and survivability to invalidate our regional military posture and war plans by holding at risk key bases and amplifying the risk to allies.

“The most recent open-source estimates suggest North Korea may already have enough fissile material to build between 13 and 21 nuclear weapons; by 2020, it could possess enough for 50 to 100. The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea] can already deliver nuclear weapons by aircraft or ship and perhaps by theater ballistic missiles; it is now testing nuclear-capable missiles that could threaten targets across the Pacific Ocean, including the continental United States. “Current estimates suggest a number of these nuclear-tipped missiles—long-range, road-mobile, and submarine-launched—could be operational between 2020 and 2025,” the report warned.

It further stated: “A DPRK nuclear force approaching 100 weapons with multiple delivery means likely poses an unacceptable threat to US and South Korea [or the Republic of Korea, ROK] security, as well as a serious proliferation threat.”

The foreign policy think tank stressed that the incoming US administration will have to face “critical policy questions” involving what measures need to be taken to stop North Korea’s Kim Jong-un from pursuing their nuclear programme; what should the US do if provocation continues and what should be done if South Korea initiates a counterforce attack or begins developing its own nuclear force.

October 14, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Putin orders overseas Russian officials to bring family members home

WORLD WAR 3 THREATS LOOM AS PUTIN ORDERS ALL RUSSIAN OFFICIALS TO BRING FAMILY MEMBERS LIVING ABROAD BACK HOME, INQUISITR, 13 Oct 16  As threats of a global war rise, Russia is apparently ordering all its officials to bring their family members living abroad back home. According to local media in Russia, Several high-ranking officials and politicians have received a warning message from Vladimir Putin, urging them to bring their family members back to the “Fatherland.”

This news comes after Putin cancelled his previously planned visit to France following disagreements over Russia’s involvement in Syria.

And according to local media, all high ranking officials are now being told that it would be wise to bring their family members living abroad back home. The “recommendation” has been imposed upon officials of every level, including administration staff, regional administrators, lawmakers and even employees of public corporations. It has also been said that those that ignore this recommendation may lose their chance of being promoted in the public sector……..http://www.inquisitr.com/3589849/world-war-3-putin-russia-nuclear-war-officials-bring-family-living-abroad-home/

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain slips down in sustainable energy ratings

UK loses top 10 spot in global energy ranking for the first time
World Energy Council warns of potential gap in energy supply due to government’s lack of clarity and myriad changes,
Guardian, , 11 Oct 16, The UK has fallen out of the top 10 of a respected international league table of countries’ energy sectors for the first time.

The World Energy Council blamed the government’s lack of clarity and myriad changes which it said have left the country facing a potential gap in energy supply.

The UK has previously been one of the top performers in the council’s “Trillema Index”, which has ranked countries on energy security, costs and decarbonisation efforts for the last six years.

But the Brexit vote, cuts to renewable energy subsidies and planned changes on foreign ownership have created investment uncertainty and significant challenges for the UK, according to the latest edition of the index for the London-headquartered agency, whose members include energy companies across the world…….

Despite the recent decision to go ahead with new nuclear reactors at Hinkley in Somerset, the UK had a “distinct lack of policy direction”, the council’s chief said……..

The result of the EU referendum vote in July has also cast a cloud over thegovernment’s pledge last year to phase out coal power by 2025, as leaving the single market as part of a hard Brexit “could significantly increase the cost of its energy imports”. Imports via interconnectors to the continent accounted for around 6% of the UK’s electricity supply last year.

Planned changes to rules on foreign ownership of energy infrastructure, announced during May’s review of Hinkley Point C contract, added to the investment uncertainty, the report said.

The council also highlighted government cuts to onshore wind and solar subsidies since it took power, which Office for National Statistics figures showed last week had led solar power installations to crash. The changes could hinder investments in those sectors, the council said. ….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/11/uk-loses-top-10-spot-in-global-energy-ranking-for-the-first-time?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco

October 14, 2016 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Google keenly promoting wind energy in Africa

Why Google Cares about Wind Power in Africa Millions of people are coming online, and that requires (renewable) energy, Scientific American  By Daniel CusickClimateWire on October 12, 2016 

Google Inc.’s investment in Kenya’s Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is its largest on the African continent to date, but it almost certainly won’t be the last.

The California internet giant has shown a growing interest in sub-Saharan Africa since it made its first cash outlay three years ago—a $12 million investment in the Jasper Solar Power Project in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

The 96-megawatt photovoltaic project, completed in 2014, was built by U.S.-based SolarReserve LLC and is capable of powering roughly 80,000 South African homes.

The Lake Turkana deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, calls for Google to acquire 12.5 percent of the nearly $700 million project from Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark after the wind farm is completed next year.

“We are investing in clean energy projects like Lake Turkana because they make business sense and can help accelerate the deployment of renewable energy,” a Google spokesperson said in an email to E&E News.

She added that the company sees “a large opportunity in fast-growing markets with rich renewable energy resources, where both the need and the potential are great.”

The ownership group includes lead developers Aldwych International Ltd. of Great Britain and KP&P Africa BV of the Netherlands, with additional financial support from international development funds in Norway, Finland and Denmark.

As with Jasper in South Africa, Google said its wind power investment “will help bring much needed capacity and stability to Kenya’s energy supply, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and emergency diesel generation while providing some of the most cost effective power in the country.”

In total, Google has committed more than $2.5 billion to 22 renewable energy projects around the world, mostly through power purchase agreements and direct ownership of wind and solar farms, officials said. Much of its purchased power goes to support massive Google data centers in the United States and Europe.

But the company sees a future in the developing world, where millions of new internet users are coming online annually……..https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-google-cares-about-wind-power-in-africa/

October 14, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, renewable | Leave a comment

Nuclear power facing a close-down deadline in Switzerland

Is time up for nuclear power in Switzerland?, Swisssinfo ch, By Luigi Jorio , 13 Oct 16 

Banning construction of nuclear power plants and limiting to 45 years the use of existing ones: that’s what a people’s initiative from the Green Party, to be voted on in November, proposes. It has not been endorsed by the cabinet or by parliament.On March 11, 2011, dramatic footage from Japan showed the destruction caused by an earthquake and tsunami. The coastal nuclear power plant at Fukushima sustained severe damage. There was worldwide concern, and a few weeks later the Swiss government announced its historic decision that “existing nuclear power plants [in Switzerland] should be decommissioned at the end of their safe operational lifespan and not be replaced by new nuclear power plants”.

According to the government, the lifespan of nuclear power plants, based on technical safety criteria, is “about 50 years”. This was too long for the Greens, who want to walk away from nuclear power without any shilly-shallying. In May 2011 they launched a people’s initiative “For a planned phase-out of nuclear energy”, which they handed in with well over 100,000 signatures in November 2012. As a result, the people will now have to decide on the future of Switzerland’s nuclear power plants in a nationwide vote.

‘Permanent state of emergency’

The initiative calls for Swiss power plants – which supply on average 35% of the country’s electricity – to be shut down after no more than 45 years of operation. This would mean that the stations Beznau I and II (in canton Aargau) and Mühleberg (Bern) should shut down in 2017, Gösgen (Solothurn) in 2024 and Leibstadt (Aargau) in 2029.

“Switzerland has the oldest nuclear power plants in the world. Beznau I has been going for 47 years,” points out Regula Rytz, president of the Swiss Greens and co-chair of the Alliance for a planned phase-out of nuclear power. Using data from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the committee to support the initiative notes that the 151 nuclear power plants that had been closed around the world as of late 2015 had reached an average age of less than 26 years.

“Nuclear energy puts us in a state of permanent emergency. This is a high-risk technology, and its negative consequences are going to be around for thousands of years,” warns Rytz, referring to accidents at Windscale (Britain, 1957), Three Mile Island (US, 1979), Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986) and Fukushima.

What will replace nuclear power? While supporting the basic principle of the initiative, the Swiss government opposes the constitutional amendment put forward by the Greens. Fixing a time limit, it says, means having to implement “too hurried a shut-down of Swiss nuclear plants, thus requiring major imports of electricity from abroad”. The government is instead holding to the “orderly and step-by-step” phase-out detailed in its Energy Strategy 2050, which was recently endorsed by parliament.

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard, one of the key players in the energy shift announced five years ago, warns that if the initiative is accepted, the country will not be ready with renewable energies. “We will have to import power from abroad, produced by coal- and gas-fired stations. Is this really what the Greens want?” she asks.

As far as advocates of the initiative are concerned, however, finding a clean alternative to nuclear power is not likely to be a problem. Renewable sources (water, wind and sun) and progress in energy efficiency will pick up the slack from nuclear power, they maintain.

About 40,000 clean energy projects have applied for incentive funding from the government, notes Rytz. “On their own, these could provide electricity equivalent to the output of Mühleberg and Beznau I and II.”

Billions to phase out power plants

One thing bothering the government is the likelihood of steep demands for compensation from the operators of nuclear power plants that would be facing early closure. Former head of the Axpo electricity company Heinz Karrer, quoted in the daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, has said compensation could amount to billions of francs.

As part of the price-tag for phasing out nuclear power, the business lobby economiesuisse – currently headed, as it happens, by Heinz Karrer – points to the costs of dismantling the stations and managing the waste……..http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/november-27-vote_is-time-up-for-nuclear-power-in-switzerland-/42506884

October 14, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment