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March 3 Energy News

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Opinion:

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¶ “Note To Congress: Climate Change Is Real, And It’s Expensive” In 2016 alone there were 15 extreme weather and climate-related disasters that cost more than a billion dollars apiece. Climate change is contributing to worsening risks of loss from many of these types of events. And those risks are expensive to all of us. [Ecosystem Marketplace]

World:

¶ Community Energy Social Enterprises Limited, a Nigerian company, and Renewvia Energy Corporation, an American firm, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to power to 25 Nigerian communities using local solar microgrids. They are expected to be operational by the end of this year and to have a total capacity of 10 MW. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “worst case” scenario as the baseline, new research has determined that Europe’s coastal cities may be facing as…

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March 3, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Key Figures for the Fukushima 6th Anniversary

6 years later, the catastrophe at Fukushima is still far from being resolved, still ongoing. 3 reactor core meltdowns still releasing radioactive nanoparticles into the open skies, contaminated water still leaking continuously into the Pacific ocean, plus partially decontaminated water also been dumped into the ocean.

All available information and figures controlled by Tepco and the Japanese government, with no independent party allowed to verify the veracity of the given information. A massive permanent public relations campaign of disinformation and denial, to brainwash the Japanese population and the whole world that everything is now under control and ok, denial of the radiation risks for the people health, economics being the Japanese government priority, not the population health protection. Evacuated persons coerced to return to live with high radiation in their previously evacuated townships. So that Japan would seem safe, clean and beautiful to welcome the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

If Fukushima taught us one thing it is that people should not expect the government to protect them nor corporations to be held responsible in time of nuclear disaster.

This written article is based on officially released data by Tepco and the Japanese government, therefore all the figures and claims should be therefore taken with a pinch of salt. Always keep in mind that the officially released information does not really teach us the essential about the still ongoing catastrophe and about its victims getting more abandoned than ever.

Key figures for the sixth anniversary

As we approach the sixth anniversary of the disaster, here are some key figures as they appear in the media and official sites.

Reactor Status

The main aim of the work is to secure the damaged reactors which are still threatening. In the vicinity, the dose rates are such that the attendance time must be very limited, which complicates the work. See the latest official Tepco document with dose rates. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/surveymap/images/f1-sv2-20170224-e.pdf

Reactor # 4

The reactor vessel was empty on March 11, 2011, and there was no melting of the core, but a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. Since December 2014, the reactor fuel pool has been emptied and the work is stopped.

Reactor # 3

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. All debris from the upper part were removed using remotely operated gear. A new building that will cover the whole and allow to empty the fuel pool is being assembled. The dose rate is so high that the work is more complex than expected and the site has fallen behind.

Reactor # 2

There was a core meltdown, but the reactor building is whole. Tepco did not begin to remove the spent fuel from the pool, but attempted to locate the corium, this mixture of molten fuel and debris, by various means. The dose rates inside the building are such that it is impossible to work on it. In the containment, record levels were observed. Even the robots that were sent there did not resist long.

Reactor # 1

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. This building was covered with a new structure in 2011, which was completely dismantled in November 2016. Tepco will begin to remove the debris from the upper part of the reactor and then rebuild a new structure to empty the fuel pool.

Contaminated water

Tepco injects 72, 108 and 72 m3 of water per day into reactors 1, 2 and 3 to cool the corium.http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170217e0101.pdf.

This makes a total of 252 m3 / d. This water is strongly contaminated and infiltrates into the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings where it mixes with the ground water that floods these basements.

To reduce radioactive groundwater leakage into the sea, Tepco pump water upstream before that water is contaminated by the reactors and then rejects it directly into the ocean. It has also built a barrier along the shoreline and pumped groundwater at the foot of the reactors. Part of this water is partially decontaminated and dumped into the ocean. Another part, too contaminated, is mixed with the water pumped in the basements of the reactors to be put in tanks after treatment, waiting for a better solution.

As a result, Tepco is pumping 135 m3 of contaminated water into the basements of the reactors and turbine buildings daily, in addition to the one it injects for cooling and 62 m3 of groundwater. A total of 197 m3 is accumulated daily in tanks after treatment. It is more when it is raining, or even more during the typhoons. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170213_01-e.pdfTepco

Tepco announced that it had already processed 1,730,390 m3 of contaminated water, which generated 597 m3 of radioactive sludge. Part of this is used for cooling and the rest is stored in tanks. According to the company, the stock of treated or partially treated water amounts to 937,375 cubic meters, to which must be added the 52,200 cubic meters of water in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings. There are nearly a thousand tanks to keep this water that occupy almost the entire plant site. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170217e0101.pdf 

Since March 2016, Tepco has been trying to freeze the ground around the damaged reactors to reduce infiltration and dispersal of polluted water, but this is not as effective as expected. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the NRA, seriously doubts the effectiveness of this technique, which it now considers as secondary. It can be seen on this graph, where the drop in the volumes of water to be stored each day is not very high. The ice does not take place, where the underground currents are strongest. Official data on freezing of the ground. About half of the workers on the site are there because of the contaminated water. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170209_02-e.pdf

Workers

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

From March 11, 2011, to March 31, 2016, 46,956 workers were exposed to ionizing radiation at the site of Fukushima Daiichi, including 42,244 subcontracted workers. It is the subcontracted workers who take the highest doses, with an average of between 0.51 and 0.56 mSv per month between January and February 2016. It is between 0.18 and 0.22 for employees of Tepco.

There are also 1,203 people who have a higher limit to continue entering the site. Their average cumulative dose since the beginning of the accident is 36.49 mSv and the maximum value of 102.69 mSv.

On April 1, 2016, all measures were reset. Thus, 174 workers who have exceeded the dose limit will be able to return. Since that date, up to 31 December 2016, 14,643 workers have been exposed to ionizing radiation at the site of Fukushima Daiichi, of which 13,027 are subcontracted workers (89%). Subcontracted workers take the highest doses. Among them, it is not known how many were already exposed to radiation before April 1, 2016.

There were workers of Brazilian origin who did not speak good Japanese and did not always understand the instructions of radiation protection. The Embassy of Brazil reacted and protested.

While  progress has been made in working conditions on the site, with the construction of a building dedicated to reception and rest, equipped with a canteen and a mini market, there are still problems thanks to cascade subcontracting.

3 workers had their cancer recognized as occupational disease: two leukemias and one thyroid cancer. One filed a complaint against Tepco and Kyûshû Electric. There are 15 cancers in all of these workers, including 8 cases of leukemia.

Radioactive pollution mapping

The latest aerial mapping of radioactive pollution around the Fukushima Daiichi plant dates from 2015 and is available online on the dedicated site: http://ramap.jmc.or.jp/map/eng/

Cartographie de la pollution radioactive mars 2017.png

This new map shows the areas still evacuated and an average decrease of 65% of the ambient dose rate compared to what was measured in autumn 2011. The radioactive decay is responsible for a drop of 53%. The remainder is due to the leaching of soils and, in some places, to decontamination work.

Decontamination

The decontamination of evacuated areas is the responsibility of the government. Elsewhere, where the external exposure could exceed 1 mSv / year, it is the municipalities that have to deal with it.

In the evacuated areas, decontamination work is officially completed, except for so-called difficult return zones. This means that decontamination has been carried out in homes and their gardens, along roads, on agricultural land and over 20 m in the forest bordering these areas. http://josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf.

In non-evacuated areas, 104 townships were affected, but with the natural decline in radioactivity, the number became now 94. A map is given on page 14 of this document. In Fukushima, 15 out of 36 municipalities have been completed.

The other prefectures concerned are Iwaté, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saïtama and Chiba. The number of townships where work was completed is on page 15 of the same document. It should be noted that a township in Tochigi prefecture has still not established a decontamination program. http://josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

Radioactive waste

According to official data, there are 7,467,880 bags of contaminated soil from decontamination work in evacuated areas (one bag is approximately 1 m3), and in non-evacuated areas, 5,740,858 m³ of contaminated soil spread over 146,489 sites. http://josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

For the interim storage facility, which is expected to contain approximately 22 million cubic meters of waste over 1,600 ha or 16 km2 around the Fukushima Daiichi plant for a maximum of 30 years, the government signed a contract with only 633 landowners (26.8%), for a total area of 287 ha (or 2.87 km2), or just 17.9% of the total area. The authorities want to reuse these soils when they have fallen below the limit of 8 000 Bq / kg for cesium. http://josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

Displaced persons

Japan conducts a census of its population every 5 years. The last two took place in 2010, just before the disaster and in 2015. As of October 1, 2015, the population of Fukushima province decreased by 5.7% compared to 2010 (115,000 fewer people) Miyagi of 0.6% and that of Iwate of 3.8%.

This census is based on the persons actually present and not on the registered persons. Thus, in the townships of Namie, Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka there is zero inhabitant.

The population of Kawauchi, where the evacuation order was partially lifted in 2014, the population decreased by 28.3%. In Naraha, where the evacuation order was fully lifted in September 2015, the population decreased by 87.3%.

Some townships hosting displaced persons have seen their population increase.

In all of Japan, the number of inhabitants decreased by 0.7% (- 947,000) in five years and was 127.11 million by 1 October 2015. The number of inhabitants increased in Tokyo (+2, 7%), Saïtama and Aïchi prefectures. The biggest decline was in Akita prefecture (-5.8%), which was not affected by the triple disaster. Fukushima prefecture has the second biggest drop, with -5.7%.

In Fukushima, there are still officially 84,289 displaced persons, 40,405 of them residing outside the prefecture. http://www.pref.fukushima.lg.jp/uploaded/attachment/195697.pdf

  • The evacuation order was lifted in 5 townships, but only 13% of the persons concerned have returned. It should also be lifted at the end of March 2017 in a part of Iitate and Kawamata.

Map of evacuated areas:

evacuation map march 2017.png

Health Impact

With regard to thyroid cancers: the total is 184 potential cases of which 145 are confirmed after surgery. http://fmu-global.jp/survey/the-26th-prefectural-oversight-committee-meeting-for-fukushima-health-management-survey-2/

• The number of disaster-related deaths due to worsening living conditions (worsening of the disease, suicides …) is 2,099 at Fukushima, as of 28 November 2016. http://www.pref.fukushima.lg.jp/uploaded/attachment/195697.pdf

Nuclear reactors

Of the 54 nuclear reactors operating before the nuclear disaster, 6 were partially or completely destroyed at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. 6 others, too old, were stopped definitively. So there are only 42 nuclear reactors left in Japan.

Only 26 of them have applied for restart authorization and only 12 reactors have been granted a restart authorization. Two reactors at the Sendai power station in Kagoshima prefecture generate electricity to power the grid. A third is in operation at the Ikata power station in Ehime prefecture, both in southern Japan..

Reports on the occasion of the sixth anniversary

Greenpeace : No Return to Normal

http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2017/Greenpeace-exposes-high-radiation-risks-in-Fukushima-village-as-government-prepares-to-lift-evacuation-order/

Source: L’ACROnique de Fukushima

http://fukushima.eu.org/chiffres-cles-pour-le-sixieme-anniversaire/

Translated by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

March 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Brexit creates a huge impediment to Britain’s nuclear industry

questionflag-UKThe nuclear fallout from Brexit When Britons voted to leave the EU few realised the implications for its nuclear industry. Financial Times, 2 Mar 17 by: Andrew Ward and Alex Barker Perched on a remote stretch of coastline in north-west England is Europe’s most dangerous building. Inside the innocuous-sounding Product Finishing and Storage Facility at the Sellafield nuclear plant is enough plutonium for about 20,000 nuclear bombs.

It is the world’s largest stockpile of civilian plutonium — one of the most toxic substances on the planet — accumulated from decades of reprocessing nuclear fuel from power stations not only in the UK but also Germany, France, Sweden and other countries. When Britain voted to leave the EU last June few voters contemplated what the decision would mean for this deadly stash of radioactive material. Yet, as officials in Whitehall and Brussels prepare to negotiate Brexit, regulation of nuclear energy is emerging as one of the most difficult and pressing issues to resolve. One senior negotiator simply called it “a nightmare”.
Britain’s plutonium stockpile is overseen by inspectors from Euratom, the pan-European body that regulates the use of nuclear energy. The organisation has a permanent presence at Sellafield and owns the cameras, seals and testing laboratory used to monitor Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Brexit threatens to upend this decades-old arrangement because the UK’s departure from the EU will require withdrawal from Euratom, a separate legal entity but one governed by EU institutions. At stake is not just the safeguarding of Sellafield but also critical pillars of UK energy security, scientific research and even medicine.
All trading and transportation of nuclear materials by EU countries, from fuel for reactors to isotopes used in cancer treatments, is governed by Euratom. The UK now faces a scramble to assemble a new regulatory regime to uphold safety standards, while negotiating dozens of international agreements needed to maintain access to nuclear technology. Rupert Cowen, a nuclear specialist at Prospect Law, a London law firm, told a parliamentary hearing this week that the UK was “sleepwalking” to disaster. “If we do not get this right, business stops,” he said. “If we cannot arrive at safeguards and other principles which allow compliance [with international standards] no nuclear trade will be able to continue.” The potential consequences of failure — from the shutdown of nuclear power stations to the loss of radiotherapy for cancer patients — seem implausible, but coming up with a fix will not be easy. British ministers must renegotiate a relationship with Euratom where no template for close co-operation with outsiders exists. They must pass legislation to set up a new safeguarding system, then find, hire and train the personnel needed to do the job in an industry known for its chronic skills shortage. And Britain must strike up to 20 deals to re-establish the basis on which it engages with other countries, such as the US and Japan, outside of Euratom.
“There is a plethora of nuclear agreements that would have to be struck . . . before we could begin to move not only materials but also intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector,” Dame Sue Ion told MPs. She is chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which advises the UK government. “We would be crippled without [these deals] in place,” she added. All this potentially must be done by 2019, when the UK is due to leave the EU. There is a safety valve — remaining part of Euratom for a transition period — but the EU will demand that European courts oversee the arrangement, which crosses one of the red lines in the UK’s negotiating strategy. Little wonder industry is rattled………
Today, Euratom’s 160-strong nuclear inspectorate spend about a quarter of their time focused on British facilities.
Critical to replacing the Euratom regime will be a bilateral deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which oversees global nuclear safety and security. Euratom reports into the IAEA on behalf of its members and the UK would need to replicate this relationship. One option would be for IAEA inspectors to replace those of Euratom in the UK, although industry leaders questioned whether the global body would want its resources diverted from its non-proliferation monitoring in places such as Iran.
Yukiya Amano, the IAEA director-general, told the Financial Times that a rapid deal with the UK was possible. But he added a catch. “It depends very much on the progress on the UK-Euratom, UK-EU side. UK-IAEA negotiations [do not] go ahead of the UK-Euratom negotiations, we always follow,” he said. “If negotiations with UK-Euratom go fast, we can fix this issue fast.” However, if Britain sticks to an expected exit date of 2019, at best the UK may have 18 months or a year to re-secure its place in the international nuclear market. “There is a chicken and egg situation,” says one official involved in Brexit preparations. “You have to move seamlessly from one regime to another. But you can’t do that without a new safeguarding regime that [other countries] are satisfied with.” Britain has little experience of negotiating nuclear agreements. It took four years of “lengthy and difficult” negotiations in the 1990s to agree an upgrade to the Euratom-US co-operation agreement, which was due to lapse. And even then the deal could not be ratified on time by the US Senate. The wait caused a three-month hiatus when all transatlantic nuclear trade stopped dead. That is something the UK would not want to risk today. …….
Asked by MPs whether new arrangements could be put in place within two years, Dame Sue said: “I do not think it is possible.” One option to buy time would be to carry on paying Euratom to provide safeguarding services. But it is run by the European Commission, the EU’s executive, rather than as an independent agency which would have given Britain political cover. Perhaps more importantly, it relies on the European Court of Justice to give teeth to its intrusive inspection powers. Britain is determined to leave ECJ jurisdiction. But the nuclear area is where the EU will be most reluctant to split legal authority; the powers are too important, and the potential consequences and liabilities too big. “The only framework we are comfortable with is the existing framework,” says one EU official preparing for talks. “It works rather well.”………..https://www.ft.com/content/9b99159e-ff2a-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30

March 3, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Global stability is undermined by US nuclear force modernization

missiles s korea museumFlag-USAHow US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze,  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Hans M. Kristensen ,  Matthew McKinzie , Theodore A. Postol , 1 Mar 17 The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing—boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three—and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.

Because of improvements in the killing power of US submarine-launched ballistic missiles, those submarines now patrol with more than three times the number of warheads needed to destroy the entire fleet of Russian land-based missiles in their silos. US submarine-based missiles can carry multiple warheads, so hundreds of others, now in storage, could be added to the submarine-based missile force, making it all the more lethal.

The revolutionary increase in the lethality of submarine-borne US nuclear forces comes from a “super-fuze” device that since 2009 has been incorporated into the Navy’s W76-1/Mk4A warhead as part of a decade-long life-extension program.

We estimate that all warheads deployed on US ballistic missile submarines now have this fuzing capability. Because the innovations in the super-fuze appear, to the non-technical eye, to be minor, policymakers outside of the US government (and probably inside the government as well) have completely missed its revolutionary impact on military capabilities and its important implications for global security.

Before the invention of this new fuzing mechanism, even the most accurate ballistic missile warheads might not detonate close enough to targets hardened against nuclear attack to destroy them. But the new super-fuze is designed to destroy fixed targets by detonating above and around a target in a much more effective way. Warheads that would otherwise overfly a target and land too far away will now, because of the new fuzing system, detonate above the target.

The result of this fuzing scheme is a significant increase in the probability that a warhead will explode close enough to destroy the target even though the accuracy of the missile-warhead system has itself not improved.

As a consequence, the US submarine force today is much more capable than it was previously against hardened targets such as Russian ICBM silos. A decade ago, only about 20 percent of US submarine warheads had hard-target kill capability; today they all do. (See Figure 1.)

This vast increase in US nuclear targeting capability, which has largely been concealed from the general public, has serious implications for strategic stability and perceptions of US nuclear strategy and intentions.

Russian planners will almost surely see the advance in fuzing capability as empowering an increasingly feasible US preemptive nuclear strike capability—a capability that would require Russia to undertake countermeasures that would further increase the already dangerously high readiness of Russian nuclear forces. Tense nuclear postures based on worst-case planning assumptions already pose the possibility of a nuclear response to false warning of attack. The new kill capability created by super-fuzing increases the tension and the risk that US or Russian nuclear forces will be used in response to early warning of an attack—even when an attack has not occurred.

The increased capability of the US submarine force will likely be seen as even more threatening because Russia does not have a functioning space-based infrared early warning system but relies primarily on ground-based early warning radars to detect a US missile attack. Since these radars cannot see over the horizon, Russia has less than half as much early-warning time as the United States. (The United States has about 30 minutes, Russia 15 minutes or less.)

The inability of Russia to globally monitor missile launches from space means that Russian military and political leaders would have no “situational awareness” to help them assess whether an early-warning radar indication of a surprise attack is real or the result of a technical error.

The combination of this lack of Russian situational awareness, dangerously short warning times, high-readiness alert postures, and the increasing US strike capacity has created a deeply destabilizing and dangerous strategic nuclear situation.

When viewed in the alarming context of deteriorating political relations between Russia and the West, and the threats and counter-threats that are now becoming the norm for both sides in this evolving standoff, it may well be that the danger of an accident leading to nuclear war is as high now as it was in periods of peak crisis during the Cold War.

How the new accuracy-enhancing fuze works. The significant increase in the ability of the W76-1/Mk4A warhead to destroy hardened targets—including Russian silo-based ICBMs—derives from a simple physical fact: Explosions that occur near and above the ground over a target can be lethal to it. This above-target area is known as a “lethal volume”; the detonation of a warhead of appropriate yield in this volume will result in the destruction of the target……..

The history of the US super-fuze program. The super-fuze is officially known as the arming, fuzing and firing (AF&F) system. It consists of a fuze, an arming subsystem (which includes the radar), a firing subsystem, and a thermal battery that powers the system. The AF&F is located in the tip of the cone-shaped reentry body above the nuclear explosive package itself. The AF&F developed for the new W76-1/Mk4A is known as MC4700 and forms part of the W76 life-extension program intended to extend the service life of the W76—the most numerous warhead in the US stockpile—out to the time period 2040-2050………

The implications. The newly created capability to destroy Russian silo-based nuclear forces with 100-kt W76-1/Mk4A warheads—the most numerous in the US stockpile—vastly expands the nuclear warfighting capabilities of US nuclear forces. Since only part of the W76 force would be needed to eliminate Russia’s silo-based ICBMs, the United States will be left with an enormous number of higher-yield warheads that would then be available to be reprogrammed for other missions……….

Even after Russia’s silo-based missiles were attacked, the US nuclear firepower remaining would be staggering—and certainly of concern to Russia or any other country worried about a US first strike.

Because of the new kill capabilities of US submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), the United States would be able to target huge portions of its nuclear force against non-hardened targets, the destruction of which would be crucial to a “successful” first strike………

The appearance created by the vast expansion of this missile defense program can and will contribute to perceptions among Russians that the United States is seeking nuclear dominance.

The Russians have most recently reacted to this ongoing program by publicly displaying and implementing a new and novel sea-based nuclear weapons delivery device as a hedge against US missile defenses.

In particular, Russia is now in the process of testing a 40-ton nuclear-powered underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV) that could robotically deliver, across thousands of kilometers, a 100-megaton nuclear warhead against the coastal cities and ports of the United States. The technical details of this bizarre system were released by Putin himself in September 2015—apparently intentionally—and testing began in December 2016. Such actions by the Russian government clearly indicate a grave concern about the unpredictable character of ongoing US missile defense programs……….

Our conclusions. Under the veil of an otherwise-legitimate warhead life-extension program, the US military has quietly engaged in a vast expansion of the killing power of the most numerous warhead in the US nuclear arsenal: the W76, deployed on the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines. This improvement in kill power means that all US sea-based warheads now have the capability to destroy hardened targets such as Russian missile silos, a capability previously reserved for only the highest-yield warheads in the US arsenal.

The capability upgrade has happened outside the attention of most government officials, who have been preoccupied with reducing nuclear warhead numbers. The result is a nuclear arsenal that is being transformed into a force that has the unambiguous characteristics of being optimized for surprise attacks against Russia and for fighting and winning nuclear wars. While the lethality and firepower of the US force has been greatly increased, the numbers of weapons in both US and Russian forces have decreased, resulting in a dramatic increase in the vulnerability of Russian nuclear forces to a US first strike. We estimate that the results of arms reductions with the increase in US nuclear capacity means that the US military can now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos using only about 20 percent of the warheads deployed on US land- and sea-based ballistic missiles………..

The decision by the Obama administration in 2009 to deploy the Aegis ship-based European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense system has created a program under which the United States could eventually have between 500 to 700 anti-missile interceptors that could in theory be used to defend the continental United States from ships off the country’s coasts. In spite of its severe limitations, this growing defense system could appear to both Russia and China as a US attempt to reduce the consequences of a ragged Russian or Chinese retaliation to a US first strike against them.

We cannot foresee a situation in which a competent and properly informed US president would order a surprise first strike against Russia or China. But our conclusion makes the increased sea-based offensive and defensive capabilities we have described seem all the more bizarre as a strategy for reducing the chances of nuclear war with either Russia or China.

That Russian silos are more vulnerable to W76-1/Mk4A warheads will not come as an earth-shattering revelation to Russian military officials; they would have to expect that the silos would be destroyed anyway, by US land-based ICBMs. But the growing capability of the US forward-deployed sea-based nuclear missiles could raise serious questions in the minds of Russian military planners and political leadership about US intentions—especially when seen in context of growing US cyber, advanced conventional, and missile defense capabilities—almost certainly deepening mistrust and encouraging worst-case planning assumptions in Moscow.

We end this article with quotes from Vladimir Putin, talking impromptu to a group of journalists during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016.  His unrehearsed remarks are clear and candid predictors of how he will assess the implications of the super-fuze:

No matter what we said to our American partners [to curb the production of weaponry], they refused to cooperate with us, they rejected our offers, and continue to do their own thing.

… They rejected everything we had to offer.

… the Iranian threat does not exist, but missile defense systems are continuing to be positioned…

That means we were right when we said that they are lying to us.

Their reasons were not genuine, in reference to the “Iranian nuclear threat.”

Your people [the populations of the Western alliance] … do not feel a sense of the impending danger—this is what worries me.

A missile defense system is one element of the whole system of offensive military potential.

It works as part of a whole that includes offensive missile launchers.

One complex blocks, the other launches high precision weapons, the third blocks a potential nuclear strike, and the fourth sends out its own nuclear weapon in response.

This is all designed to be part of one system.

I don’t know how this is all going to end.

What I do know is that we will need to defend ourselves. http://thebulletin.org/how-us-nuclear-force-modernization-undermining-strategic-stability-burst-height-compensating-super10578

March 3, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Direct military action’ against North Korea is under consideration by Trump administration

White House ‘considers direct military action’ to counter North Korean nuclear threat

North Korea threatens to ‘mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword’, Independent, 2 Mar 17 Samuel Osborne   @SamuelOsborne93   , An internal White House review of strategy on North Korea reportedly includes the possibility of direct military action or regime change to counter the hermit kingdom’s nuclear threat.

Deputy national security adviser K T McFarland held a meeting with other officials ot discuss the US response to a fresh series of provocations from the North, the Wall Street Journal reports.

March 3, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Huge slabs of permafrost disintegrating in Northwest Canada

flag-canadaMassive Permafrost thaw in Northwest Canada. #ClimateChange #auspol, John Pratt 2 Mar 17  Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers.

A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama.

According to researchers with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, the permafrost collapse is intensifying and causing landslides into rivers and lakes that can choke off life downstream, all the way to where the rivers discharge into the Pacific Ocean.
Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geology in early February. The study didn’t address the issue of greenhouse gas releases from thawing permafrost.

But its findings will help quantify the immense global scale of the thawing, which will contribute to more accurate estimates of carbon emissions.

Permafrost is land that has been frozen stretching back to the last ice age, 10,000 years ago.

As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, the long-frozen soils thaw and decompose, releasing the trapped greenhouse gases into the air.

Scientists estimate that the world’s permafrost holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. The new study was aimed at measuring the geographical scope of thawing permafrost in northwest Canada.

Using satellite images and other data, the team studied the edge of the former Laurentide Ice Sheet, a vast expanse of ice that covered two-thirds of North America during the last ice age.

The disintegration of the permafrost was visible in 40- to 60-mile wide swaths of terrain, showing that, “extensive landscapes remain poised for major climate-driven change.”
“Things have really taken off.

Climate warming is now making that happen. ……https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/17124327/posts/1358475019

March 3, 2017 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Will people step out of comfort zone and stop the nuclear military madness?

Nuclear Midnight Is Closer Than Ever – So Where’s the Resistance?  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/03/01/nuclear-midnight-closer-ever-so-wheres-resistance by  Allison McGillivray  

I watched from the front gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:39 pm PDT on February 8, 2017 as a pencil-thin beam of lig   ht shot above the treeline and disappeared into the atmosphere. The United States had conducted the first test launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile under Trump’s administration. Loaded with depleted uranium, in lieu of a real nuclear warhead, it sped at Mach 23 (over 17,000 miles per hour) toward the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Site in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a sovereign nation in Micronesia treaty-bound to receive United States nuclear testing. The missile disappeared into space, and the force of its propulsion grew to a roar that my fellow observers and I could feel in our bodies and under our feet. Windows rattled in neighboring towns. As I traveled the twenty miles back home, the missile met its target over 4,000 miles away.

I considered the devastating power of the triadic warheads crowning the Minuteman III, a load total twenty times that of Little Boy which decimated Hiroshima. I considered Rick Perry’s nomination to oversee the nuclear stockpile as Energy Secretary despite his earlier stated desire to dismantle the department. I considered the readily displayed ignorance of our Commander-In-Chief regarding the US nuclear arsenal, his bullying arrogance in international diplomacy, and the xenophobic company he keeps. My head spun.

During the past ten years, I have been on the periphery of the unceasing effort for nuclear disarmament. While helping to organize the archives of the Nuclear Resister, a paper that publishes news of nonviolent resistance to nuclear weapons, I’ve had the unique opportunity to study the anti-nuclear movement’s most vibrant decade, the 1980s, which saw the mass mobilization of thousands; hundreds of creative, direct actions confronting nuclear test sites and power plants, missile silos, military bases and headquarters of weapons manufacturers; and many demonstrators sentenced and jailed for their peaceful protest. Even with increasing awareness of the local and international dangers posed by nuclear technology, the end of the Cold War mollified activists and the frequency of demonstrations plummeted.

Currently, there is a small and dedicated group who maintain a tradition of witness against the threat of nuclear weapons. The majority of today’s anti-nuclear activists in the US are aging, white, and driven by faith. (This is not entirely so among the international effort.) Still, some create waves with back country actions onto nuclear facilities, exposing security risks and reminding the public these weapons indeed exist and must be disarmed. Yet the nuclear issue has little traction with Millennials who are rightfully busy taking action against economic and racial injustice, ecological destruction, and the socio-political aftermath of global capitalism and perpetual wars. The question lingers in the minds of these US anti-nuclear activists: will the work against nuclear weapons be among the lot adopted by our younger generations?

Possibly so, but the movement will not look like it did in the 1980s with crowds gathering specifically in support of nuclear abolition. Just as feminists of the Reagan era and Earth First! activists found their goals intertwined with nuclear disarmament, today’s popular movements and the anti-nuclear cause do intersect and there exists the opportunity for broader education and cooperation among justice groups. Uranium mines are endangering sacred indigenous sites, past nuclear tests poison thousands here and abroad, and the US’s $35 billion annual budget to “maintain, upgrade, and operate its nuclear arsenal” robs the American public of well-funded healthcare, education and infrastructure.

The continued concern of nuclear annihilation is neither outdated nor unfounded. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced in January we are closer to doomsday than ever before, basing their assessment on international relations, proliferation of nuclear weapons, and climate change. At this vulnerable time, as money and politics collude in the White House, there is need for continued vigilance for opportunists who would sacrifice the well-being of the American public for elite coffers. Rick Perry is one such opportunist. His relationship with Energy Transfer Partners demonstrates priority of personal investments over secure water sources, indigenous sovereignty, and environmental safety. He has ignored opinions of professionals in the construction and expansion of a Texas radioactive waste site, and there are concerns that his financial ties will be a potential conflict of interest for the Department of Energy nominee.

Sister Jackie Hudson, an anti-nuclear recidivist who died in 2011, would ask that others step out of their comfort zone, to face personal inconvenience for the benefit of justice. There is ample opportunity for us each to orient our values with our actions, and we should. In the end, we do not need to act to save a movement. We need to act to save each other.

March 3, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

India launches nuclear destroyer missile

flag-indiaNuclear destroyer missile launched by India in chilling warning to world, Daily Star , 2 Mar 17  INDIA has fired a nuclear destroyer missile as the nation prepares for all-out war. The low altitude interceptor was fired over the Bay of Bengal to destroy an incoming ballistic missile.

Defence officials in the country are developing a two-tier ballistic missile defence to protect against impending nuclear war.

When fully operational, the defence system will be able to tackle missiles from more than 3,000 miles away.  A statement from India’s defence ministry said: “All the mission objectives were successfully met.”….
India’s defence ministry’s statement continued: “The weapon system radars tracked the target and provided the initial guidance to the interceptor which could precisely home on to the target and destroyed it in the endo-atmospheric layer.

“The complete event including the engagement and destruction was tracked by a number of electro-optical tracking systems using infrared imagery…..http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/592823/Nuclear-war-destroyer-missile-World-War-3-India-Pakistan-conflict

March 3, 2017 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment