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This week’s nuclear and climate news

I scratch around for good news. There is plenty, on the renewable energy scene. And this: CO2 emissions from energy remain flat for third year running.  Total number of global nuclear weapons has dropped.

Not so good news. Disaster looms over North Korea: how could this be stopped? US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, rejects negotiation with North Korea, and keeps journalists out. Tillerson considers a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

Massive amounts of heat being stored in the oceans.   G20 will not be mentioning that nasty left-wing phrase “climate change”.

EUROPE. The very serious threat of sea level rise.

USA.

JAPAN. 

UK. UK government boycotts UN nuclear disarmament talks.  UK plans for small nuclear reactors stalling. Bechtel pulls out. UK’s Moorside nuclear project in more doubt, with Toshiba’s crisis.

RUSSIA. Russia Plans to Fuel Floating Nuclear Reactor(s) in St. Petersburg – Endangering the City of 5 Million, Before Towing It Around Scandinavia. Russia will pay Kenya to buy its nuclear technology.

TAIWAN. Taiwan govt reaffirms aim to phase out nuclear power by 2025. Thousands in Taiwan protest against nuclear power, demand low carbon sustainable energy.

TURKEY. Call for Turkey to get its own nuclear weapons.

FRANCE. Areva factory for nuclear parts gets poor report from regulator.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Disaster looms over North Korea: how could this be stopped?

How to stop a North Korean nuclear trainwreck, The Hill, The assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, is yet another bizarre episode in a string of reality TV events that is now commonplace in our public discourse.

It’s easy to get sucked into the intrigue, but it distracts from the big picture: The United States is in the middle of a slow-motion trainwreck with North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile program. North Korea’s missile tests on Monday are just the latest alarm in what could spiral into a full-blown crisis.

We better start listening.

Unless we do something about it now, a “metal on metal” collision could be in the offing, marked by more North Korean tests and calls within Washington for military strikes to stop them.

Kim Jong Nam’s murder and the subsequent media circus obscure more crucial events: China’s decision last month to ban all coal imports from North Korea; the Feb. 11 test launch of a mobile, land-based, solid-fueled missile; and, critically, the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises happening this month, that almost  certainly sparked last weekend’s tests………

 we have no choice but to swallow a bitter pill. Using what little leverage and pressure we have, we must talk with the North Koreans at sufficiently high levels, something we haven’t done for some time.

But we must make these hard choices now — or they will be made for us.

Philip W. Yun is executive director of Ploughshares Fund, a San Francisco-based peace and security foundation. He previously served as senior adviser to the assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and as a senior adviser to two U.S. coordinators for North Korea Policy: former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Yun was a member of a government working group that managed U.S. policy and negotiations with North Korea under President Clinton and was part of the U.S. delegation that traveled to North Korea with then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000. http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/defense/324461-how-to-stop-a-north-korean-nuclear-trainwreck

March 18, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Tillerson rejects negotiation with North Korea, and keeps journalists out

In Asia, on his first major trip overseas as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson has been heavily scripted in his few public comments, and he has gone out of his way to make sure he is not subject to questions beyond highly controlled news conferences, at which his staff chooses the questioners. In a breach of past practice, he traveled without the usual State Department press corps, which has flown on the secretary’s plane for roughly half a century.

Rex Tillerson Rejects Talks With North Korea on Nuclear Program, NYT,  MARCH 17, 2017 SEOUL, South Korea — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | media, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

The world’s largest bleeding sore – Fukushima Daiichi

Fukushima Daiichi is still the world’s largest bleeding sore http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/2017-03-17t000000/fukushima-daiichi-still-worlds-largest-bleeding-sorePenney Kome March 17, 2017 Six years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ruined four nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, urgently needed clean up is still stalled.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

For US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, a pre-emptive attack on North Korea is an option

Military action against North Korea ‘an option’, warns Rex Tillerson
US secretary of state says policy of strategic patience has ended due to threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme,
Guardian,  , 17 Mar 17 , A pre-emptive US military strike against North Korea may be necessary if the threat posed by its nuclear weapons programme reaches a level that “requires action”, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has warned.

Speaking in Seoul on the second day of a visit to the Asia-Pacific region, Tillerson said Washington’s policy of “strategic patience” towards the regime in Pyongyang had ended.

In his strongest comments yet on concerns that North Korea is moving closer towards developing a nuclear strike capability that could threaten the US mainland, Tillerson said “all options are on the table”.

“Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict,” he said at a joint press conference with South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action, then that option’s on the table. “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures.”

Those words hint at a departure from the North Korea policy pursued by the Obama administration, which sought to use multilateral sanctions to pressure the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, into agreeing to denuclearisation in exchange for aid and investment…….

Aside from repeating that Washington’s policy options remain open, Tillerson has not offered details of how the Trump administrationplans to address the rising threat from North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles…….

Tillerson faces potentially the most difficult leg of his three-country visit when he arrives in Beijing on Saturday…..https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/17/military-action-against-north-korea-an-option-warns-rex-tillerson

March 18, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s divide and conquer tactics produce a toxic White House environment

Trump White House is ‘a pretty hostile environment to work in,’ and staff are getting paranoid, Daily Kos, By Laura Clawson   Mar 16, 2017 As the head of a private business, Donald Trump is known for keeping his employees divided and suspicious of one another, and his White House is not turning out any different. Add an ongoing beef with the intelligence community and the mere existence of civil servants throughout government who aren’t Trump loyalists, and Trump’s people are descending to full-on paranoia. A senior administration aide told Politico that “People are scared” in a White House that’s “a pretty hostile environment to work in.” But there’s more:

March 18, 2017 Posted by | psychology - mental health, USA | Leave a comment

Trump budget would boost nuclear weapons spending, slash diplomatic and aid programmes

Trump budget: An extra billion dollars for nuclear weapons, Salon.com, 17 Mar 17 His draft 2018 budget would boost the budget for nuclear weapons production by 11 percent President Donald Trump has proposed to boost federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018 while slashing or eliminating spending on many federal programs related to diplomacy, foreign aid, and social needs, in a budget proposal that reflects the first tangible expression of his defense priorities.

  The $1.4 billion budget increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration amounts to just a small fraction of the overall $54 billion boost he requested over the military’s roughly $639 billion 2017 budget, but it is a proportionally higher increase (11 percent) than the Defense Department itself would get (8 percent), signaling that he and his advisers feel the U.S. nuclear weapons program deserves special treatment.

The 64-page budget document released by the White House on March 16 — and entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — contained only a few sentences about the proposal, which would give the NNSA a total of $14.3 billion in fiscal year 2018. But the blueprint said the new spending would support “the goals of moving toward a responsive nuclear infrastructure and advancing the existing program of record for warhead life extension programs.”

That language refers to an existing effort to modernize three types of warheads, so they can be deployed with bombers, submarine-launched missiles, and land-based missiles, some of which will themselves be modernized in years to come. That warhead work is well under way, although the budget document suggested it had been slowed by Obama-era defense spending caps. Some independent experts have cautioned, however, that the speed of the work is limited mostly by its sheer complexity, rather than by fund shortages, and expressed doubt that it could be accelerated.

Trump’s budget proposal also says the additional NNSA funds would address its “critical infrastructure maintenance” needs — which is Washington-speak for everything from laboratories and test tracks to office buildings — which NNSA director Frank Klotz has pegged in public statements at roughly $3.7 billion. That tally includes both nuclear weapons-related work and nonnuclear work related to the cleanup of wastes from past weapons production activities……..

Many in Washington say that Congress is unlikely to approve Trump’s budget. Nonetheless, the special status Trump has assigned to nuclear weapons work is exemplified by the fact that even as the NNSA’s budget would expand under his proposal, the rest of the Energy Department’s budget would decline by around 20 percent, or $1.7 billion.

Gone would be the department’s weatherization, gas mileage, and clean energy programs. The Office of Science, which supports research into new technologies and basic physics as well as climate change, would be cut by nearly twenty percent. Elsewhere in the government, the State Department would get a 28 percent budget cut, funds for U.N. peacekeeping would be scaled back, humanitarian aid would be focused on fewer nations, and all federal spending for the U.S. Institute of Peace would disappear.

The current U.S. nuclear weapons modernization program, which was initiated and strongly supported by former President Barack Obama, was already estimated to cost $1 trillion or more over the next three decades. But Trump, in a Dec. 22 tweet, said “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” — implying that this should be beyond what Obama had set in motion.

As if to hammer that point home, Trump on March 16 also announced the appointment to the position of Pentagon policy chief of a defense analyst who helped write a new U.S. nuclear policy in 2001 that supported research on new types of nuclear warheads. The policy, overseen in part by Trump nominee David J. Trachtenberg, a former Pentagon deputy assistant secretary under President George W. Bush, also downplayed the significance of arms control, and supported an expansion of U.S. ballistic missile defense programs……..http://www.salon.com/2017/03/17/trump-budget-an-extra-billion-dollars-for-nuclear-weapons_partner/

March 18, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment