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Did President Putin deny man made CO2 driven Climate change?

50 minutes in to the video and Putin mentions an Island in the Arctic called Franz Joseph. He said that the Austrian explorer Mr Bayer had gone there in the 1930`s and later in the 1950`s The Italian President took pictures of the ice and when the Austrian explorer saw them and said that they ice had drastically disappeared within 20 years. He then said that there was no man made effects at that time 1920 and that it could be a “Planetary cycle” effect when answering a question on the USA position on Climate change.


In the early part of the debate Putin said that commercialisation of the Arctic was inevitable and he expected a tenfold increase in Shipping traffic in the Arctic that he was planning for.

53 minutes in and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said he agreed with what Putin said but also pointed out that he was still hopeful with the Paris Climate change agreement.

55 minutes in and Putin looked at the ice on Franz Joseph island.. He saw evidence of black carbon on the ice from thousands of years ago that came from Mount Etna and was worse than man made causes of black carbon. Putin then addressed Iceland’s president, Gudni Johannesson. Earlier points but saying that science should be encouraged to develop business and protect the environment .

59 minutes in and the CNN reporter hosting the event, hit Putin with the USA election and Ukraine and Crimea.. Listen for your self .. “Bunch of lies” said Putin.. He goes on briefly to discuss some of the geopolitical issues in this area.
He then mentions cooperation with the USA including recent negotiations concerning the Bering straights where shipping agreements, scientific projects, safety and free travel between Alaska and Russia are in operation. He also mentions fishing and Polar bear conservation as the projected increase in shipping develops. Further to that, Putin talks of the developing of hydrocarbons and Russia working with Exxon, Mobil and other partners and that prospects are huge for the USA, Russia and the whole world, also that this will benefit relations with the USA and Russia (To a huge round of applause from the hundreds of attendees to the conference).

1 hr and 5 minutes in the CNN reporter hosting the conference then goes back off topic and reiterated the question, “you and the Russian government did not try to influence the US presidential American election and there will be no evidence found?”

Quoting Ronald Reagan Putin said “read my lips, No!”. The CNN reporter persisted and Putin said that the Russian conference wanted to cooperate with US authorities but here was blocks put up by the US authorities to clear up Russian business corruption.

1hr 12 min in and President Sauli Niinisto said that European dealings with Russia did not reflect the USA position. Even during the cold war where interrelations were still possible. Iceland’s president, Gudni Johannesson then pointed out that respect for international treaties and trust were very important and that even small countries had a voice in this process.

1 hr and 17 minutes in and the CNN host then mentioned Finland being in the American backed NATO treaty and then quoted General Mattis as saying that Russain moves in the arctic were “aggressive” . Putin responded “our aggressive steps?” and then the CNN host said it was “Umm a quote from James Mattis, the US defense secretary”
The audio on the video became bad at this point.. Putin defended this as the USA develops its military infrastructure in the area including its nuclear infrastructure. This means that Russia needs to retaliated because the US withdrew from the ABM treaty. He said that he is rebuilding the Arctic resources to limit smuggling, piracy and illegal fishing.. The Russian military infrastructure is dual use for emergency incidents , oil spills and scientists research deployment and that Russia is transparent and hopes for more cooperation with the USA on these matters.

1 hr 22mins in and Putin is asked by the CNN host how will cooperation be encouraged? An example of cooperation Putin said that aircraft transponders should be kept on when responding to concerns from Finland but when Putin asked for an agreement NATO said they would not comply. He then mentions the USA has the biggest military budget and the most planes flying. Putin did say that some cooperation is being agreed in Syria and he hoped this would expand to the Arctic. The Finnish Prime minister said that he asked for all transponders to be switched on and not just Russian planes. He also said that some NATO representatives are looking into turning transponders on. The discussion then turned to Syria and the need for global cooperation.
1hr 31 min in and the question of territorial claims (200 km from Russian border). Putin mentions the agreement with Norway and its successful conclusion in signing a treaty. The Icelandic prime minister added that the Arctic council was a general success and the issue of fish catch quotas were underway despite challenges. He also mentions difficulties with scientific differences and that the science behind fisheries has a good agreement.

1 hr 35 min in and the question of the future of the Arctic is mentioned.The host mentions that large contingent from China that wishes to make claims on its near Arctic resources. Putin mentions the international agreements and that all countries have the right to work in the arctic region mentioning business`s from N Korea China and India with 4 others. Rules of working on this area are underway. The Finnish minister mentions the N. eastern passage connecting the Pacific and Atlantic regions. Iceland`s minister acknowledged that other non Arctic nations have a right to resources and communication channels and mentioned that many discussions are underway irregardless of the size of the countries involved.

1hr 45 minutes in and the discussion turns to sanctions and Putin said that he doesn’t want to discuss these issues and other issues as there are ongoing discussions. He quotes concerns of the Arab spring and Ukrainian protests as the reason to clamp down on Russian protesters and sanctions destroying the lives of 100,000`s of Americans and Europeans effected by these sanctions. He hopes that future talks might might be a solution to this problem.

1 hr 53 minutes in and the host asks the ministers one way to move froward with positive outcomes.
Discussion, agreement, solutions and developing positive relations were mentioned and Putin said that he hoped these principles and agreements in the Arctic would spread globally.

Full video source on the International Arctic treaty can be found here ;

Streamed live on 30 Mar 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin is speaking at a plenary session of the International Arctic Forum, dubbed ‘The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue’. The conference is a major platform for discussing the problems and prospects of the Arctic. About 2,000 guests are expected at the forum in Russia’s northwestern city of Arkhangelsk, including Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Iceland’s president, Gudni Johannesson.


April 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anti-Nuke NGO Hikabusha at U.N. Conference on Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty


Toshiki Fujimori, left, hands folded paper cranes to the representatives of countries participating in the United Nations Conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations headquarters in New York on March 31, 2017.

Anti-nuke NGO hands paper cranes to delegates at U.N. conference

NEW YORK — As the first session of the United Nations conference to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons wrapped up here on March 31, an atomic bomb survivor and Nagasaki University students had a special present for each of the government representatives: a folded paper crane.

By handing the representatives this symbol of peace, Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Toshiki Fujimori, 73, and the students conveyed their hope for the establishment of a U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. The cranes were an initiative planned by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a non-governmental organization (NGO).

“I hope that the cranes will remind the representatives of their determination to abolish nuclear weapons each time they see them,” Fujimori commented.

Hanako Mitsuoka, 21, a third-year student at Nagasaki University and a Nagasaki Youth Delegation member, said everyone took the cranes with smiles on their faces.

ICAN called for the participation of more countries during the conference by also placing the cranes on the seats of representatives of countries that did not participate, including Japan, and running a campaign on social media posting pictures of the non-participating countries’ flags and a signboard with the message “Wish you were here.”

Fujimori, who gave a speech to the conference on its opening day on March 27, conveyed his determination to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

“There is no doubt that there is high hope for us members of civil society to abolish nuclear weapons, so we must act in order to meet those expectations,” he said.

A-bomb survivor comments on treaty talks

A representative of a group of atomic bomb survivors has criticized the Japanese government for its refusal to join UN discussions on a legally-binding treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Toshiki Fujimori is an assistant secretary general of Nihon Hidankyo, or the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

He said many participants during the first round described the experience of “hibakusha” or atomic bomb survivors. Fujimori himself told the General Assembly about his experience.

He said he expects Japanese officials to take a seat at the negotiating table and accept the outcome of the first round of talks. He says he believes a good treaty can be drafted in the next round.


Ambassador Thomas Hajnoczi

Word ‘hibakusha’ should be in nuke ban treaty preamble: Austrian U.N. delegate

NEW YORK — The permanent representative of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva has told the Mainichi Shimbun he hopes a treaty on the nuclear weapons ban being negotiated at the U.N. headquarters here will include the term “hibakusha” — a Japanese word for those exposed to radiation.

Ambassador Thomas Hajnoczi, who played a leading role in five days of international negotiations between March 27 and 31, told the Mainichi that he is lobbying other participating countries to push for the addition of “hibakusha” in the treaty’s preamble, and said he believes the word will indeed be included since no countries are opposed to the idea.

The term “hibakusha” used here is not just referring to survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, but those who were exposed to radiation from nuclear tests around the world.

The Austrian representative emphasized during a meeting on March 31 that articles on support measures for the victims of nuclear blasts should be included in the treaty since it will focus on human rights issues derived from nuclear weapons.

He also touched on the speeches made by atomic bombing survivors invited to the talks during the March 28 meeting and said he was moved by them. He argued that in the preamble, it is important to refer to suffering that the victims of nuclear explosions have been going through, a central part of the treaty.

Toshiki Fujimori, assistant secretary general of the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations, who was exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, told the U.N. meeting on March 27 that the treaty must reflect the calls of hibakusha “in express terms so that the world makes remarkable progress toward nuclear weapons abolition.”

Another hibakusha from the Hiroshima bombing, Setsuko Thurlow, who now lives in Canada, also made an address during the meeting, saying that she wanted the world to feel the souls of those who died in the two bombings.



April 1, 2017 Posted by | World Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

1st round of nuclear weapons ban treaty talks ends, aims to draft treaty next month


1st round of nuclear weapons ban treaty talks ends

Delegates from 115 countries have wrapped up the first round of talks on a proposed international treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
The 5-day meeting ended on Friday at United Nations headquarters in New York. It was held following a resolution adopted last December by the UN General Assembly. Non-nuclear countries such as Austria led efforts to press for the adoption.
The next round of talks is scheduled to be held from the middle of June to early July.
Costa Rican Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez chaired the meeting. She said there was constructive discussion on the scope, legal framework, and methods to prohibit nuclear arms.
She added delegates will aim to adopt a draft treaty by July 7th, the deadline for the next negotiations.
A UN statement said the discussion this time was about making nuclear arms illegal. It said the elimination process will be decided in later talks.
Nuclear-weapons countries such as the US and Russia are not participating in the negotiations.
Japan, the only country to have experienced atomic bombings, is also absent. It says nuclear disarmament should be a phased process involving the nuclear nations.

Head of nuclear arms ban talks aims to draft treaty next month

NEW YORK — The president of a conference on establishing a convention to outlaw nuclear weapons said she aims to draw up a draft of the convention next month and have it adopted in July.

The five-day first round of the conference, which was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, ended on March 31.

Over 100 countries are participating in the conference, and many of them have expressed hope that a treaty to outlaw the use, production, possession, stockpiling and experiments of nuclear arms will be concluded.

Elayne Whyte Gomez, Costa Rican ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva and president of the conference, will draw up a draft while coordinating views among participating countries, and is expected to present the draft to the participating states as early as late May.

Whyte also said a meeting will be held in Geneva by June to exchange opinions between the countries involved, and she aims to have it adopted by the end of the second round of the conference to be held from June 15 to July 7.

About 40 countries, including the five major nuclear states — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — and NATO members and others that rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, are opposed to a treaty that would ban nuclear arms and are not participating in the conference.

Japanese disarmament ambassador Nobushige Takamizawa announced in a speech at the outset of the conference on March 27 that Tokyo would not participate in the talks.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | World Nuclear | , | 1 Comment

As I See It: Flawed gov’t policies betraying Fukushima disaster victims


A demonstration takes place at Hibiya Park in Tokyo in March 2016, at which protesters express their distrust of the government which has failed to listen to the voices of Fukushima nuclear disaster victims.

Six years have passed since the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and the government’s policies for helping affected people are reaching the end of a chapter.

The government provision of housing to voluntary evacuees is coming to an end, and with the exception of a few selected areas, evacuation orders have been lifted or scheduled to be lifted soon. Compensation payments for such evacuees are scheduled to end, too — as these were given out in tandem with the evacuation orders.

With this kind of reality in mind, the “accelerated recovery” that was promoted by the government now just appears to be a hasty attempt to draw a curtain over the issue of evacuation from Fukushima. Government policies related to evacuation are seemingly one-way, and given that these policies have failed to gain the acceptance of affected residents, it can be said that they are corroding away at the core of democracy.

Over the past few years, I have continued to cover the situation in Fukushima using data such as health surveys, polls of voluntary evacuees, housing policies, and decontamination — with the aim of chasing after the real intentions of the creators of government policies. And yet, even though the government organizations and bureaucrats that are in charge differ depending on the issue, discussions go on behind closed doors, after which decisions are forced on the public that are completely out of touch with the needs of those affected. These kinds of policymaking procedures are all too common.

There are also cases of double standards. For example, the government had set the maximum annual limit of radiation exposure at 1 millisievert per year for regular people but immediately after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the figure was raised to 20 millisieverts per year as the yardstick for evacuation “because it was a time of emergency.”

Later, in December 2011, a “convergence statement” was released by then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in which he announced that the “emergency period” was over. Restructuring of the evacuation orders was subsequently carried out, and then the new criteria for relaxing such instructions were discussed in private.

From April 2013 onward, closed-door discussions continued to take place among section chiefs and other officials from organizations such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Reconstruction Agency. They then waited until after the House of Councillors election in July 2013 to announce that areas where the annual radiation exposure was less than 20 millisieverts per year would be exempted from the evacuation orders. A source told me that the timing of the announcement was set as “not to trouble the government.” In other words, the level of 20 millisieverts per year had switched from “the time of emergency level” to “the ordinary level,” and it was as though the previous 1 millisievert annual level for ordinary situations had been banished from history.

Nearly four years have passed since then. At an explanatory meeting for evacuees from the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Namie and Tomioka, hardly anyone agreed with the lifting of the evacuation order this coming spring. It’s clear in the term “unnecessary exposure to radiation,” often used by the Fukushima evacuees, that there is absolutely no reason for local residents to endure radiation exposure caused by the nuclear disaster. And it’s understandable that they have difficulties accepting policies that ignore the voices of those from the affected areas.

Another problem is government bodies’ practice of blurring responsibilities by deleting inconvenient elements in records of the closed-door decision making process, thereby making it impossible for third parties to review the process afterwards.

The government was planning to complete the majority of the decontamination work by the end of fiscal 2016. In June 2016, the Environment Ministry devised a plan for reusing the contaminated soil whose volume has ballooned due to the cleaning work. In a closed-door meeting with specialists, the ministry also set the upper contamination level limit for reusing the soil at 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. However, with regard to the reuse of waste generated from decommissioning work such as iron, the upper limit is set at 100 becquerels. What officials talked about in that closed-door meeting was how to make that kind of double standard appear consistent.

In June 2016, the Mainichi Shimbun reported this matter, and as a number of freedom-of-information requests were filed, the Environment Ministry decided to release the relevant records. Ministry officials claimed that they were making all the information public. However, they had deleted statements by the bureaucrats in charge; statements that suggested the entire discussion had been undertaken with the 8,000 becquerel limit as a given.

Speaking on the issue of helping affected people, politicians and bureaucrats have repeatedly spouted rhetoric such as “staying beside disaster victims.” Despite this, however, there have been cases where senior officials from organizations such as the Reconstruction Agency have shown their true feelings through abusive statements via social media such as Twitter. In August 2015, Masayoshi Hamada, the then state minister for reconstruction, stated in private about the housing provision for Fukushima evacuees, “Basically, we are accepting residents based on the assumption that we don’t support those who evacuated voluntarily.”

Hamada was promoted to the position of state minister in December 2012 — at the same time as the launch of the second Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and he was put in charge of supporting voluntary evacuees. For these evacuees, the housing provision policy was anticipated the most. Hamada’s irresponsible remarks, however, were almost equal to saying that the agency had no real intention of helping those who had evacuated of their own accord. I cannot help but wonder if politicians such as Hamada do in fact want to “stay beside disaster victims.”

The victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have always been kept on the other side of the mosquito net. The majority of policy discussions among the state and local governments concerning the affected people have taken place behind closed doors, and the records that have been released afterward have often been censored in order to conceal certain elements, with excuses such as “making these documents public could cause confusion.” In some of those closed door meetings, officials even talked about “how not to leak information.”

It might be stating the obvious, but unless information concerning policies is made public and there is transparency surrounding the decision making process, democracy cannot function. The way that the government has one-sidedly carried out its national policies by ignoring the voices of the Fukushima disaster victims, as well as people across Japan, poses risks to the very foundation of democracy. In some ways, this is one major part of the damage caused by the nuclear disaster.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order lifted for Fukushima town

1 04 2017 evacuation order lifted 3.jpg

The Japanese government has lifted the evacuation order for most parts of a town in Fukushima Prefecture. It was issued after the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The directive for Tomioka Town was lifted at midnight on Saturday in all areas except for no-entry zones with high radiation levels.

The town became the 9th municipality to be released from the order. The decree was initially imposed on 11 municipalities in the prefecture.

The government also withdrew the directives for some areas in Kawamata Town, Namie Town, and Iitate Village at midnight on Friday.

Areas still subject to the government evacuation order now make up 369 square kilometers. That is one-third of the initial size.

About 9,500 Tomioka residents are now allowed to return to their homes.

But in a survey conducted by the Reconstruction Agency and other institutions last year, only 16 percent of Tomioka’s residents said they wanted to return to their hometown.

The town government had opened a shopping mall and a medical facility ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.

In the future, it will be a challenge for the town to revive industries, decontaminate no-entry zones, and provide continued support for residents living outside the town.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Long-awaited announcement


A woman sheds tears at the ceremony to mark the government lifting the evacuation order for the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 31. The evacuation orders for the towns of Kawamata and Namie were also lifted, reducing the Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuation zones to the highly-contaminated difficult-to-return zones. However, of the roughly 22,500 residents of the three municipalities, only around 10 percent are expected to return to their homes. Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno nevertheless remained positive at the ceremony, stating, “The lifting of the order is not our goal, but it’s the beginning of reconstruction. I hope to strengthen our spirit of independence and will to restore our village.”


April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Doubt cast on prefecture after boy’s cancer diagnosis confirmed


A group supporting child cancer sufferers in Fukushima on Friday confirmed the diagnosis of a boy who at the time of the 2011 disaster was just four years old, contradicting the local government’s position that no child of that age has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The boy was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery after taking part in a Fukushima prefectural government survey to gauge the impact of the disaster. Local authorities, however, claim at the time of the survey he had not yet been officially confirmed as suffering thyroid cancer.

The survey found that of the 385,000 people aged 18 or younger at the time of the disaster, a total of 184 youths aged between 5 and 18 have been diagnosed with or are suspected to have thyroid cancer.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

3 Towns Evacuation Orders Lifted, Return of Residents Slow


A road remains blocked Thursday evening in the town of Tomioka near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. An evacuation order for Tomioka residents will be lifted Saturday.

Evacuation orders lifted for three more Fukushima areas but residents slow to return

FUKUSHIMA – Japan on Friday lifted its evacuation orders for the village of Iitate and two other areas that had been enforced due to the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.

The move came six years after Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s power station suffered meltdowns after the huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, triggering evacuation orders in many places in Fukushima Prefecture, including Iitate and the other two areas.

Residents of Iitate, the town of Namie and the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata, totaling some 22,100 at the end of February, can now return home, except in a handful of places included in no-go zones where radiation levels are still too high.

With the evacuation order set to be removed for the town of Tomioka on Saturday, Okuma and Futaba, the host towns of the crippled power station, will be the only Fukushima municipalities without an area where an evacuation order has been lifted.

Meanwhile, municipalities where evacuation orders have been removed have their own problems: a slow return of residents.

The central government and affected municipalities have channeled their efforts into improving commercial facilities, transportation systems and other infrastructure, hoping to attract residents, old and new.

In Tomioka, a ¥2.4 billion emergency hospital will be created, reflecting strong calls for medical institutions.

The return of residents has remained slow, however, with many returnees being elderly. In the five municipalities whose evacuation orders had already been lifted, only 14.5 percent of residents came back.

In Iitate, Namie and Kawamata’s Yamakiya district, the share of residents who said they want to go back to their hometowns in joint surveys mainly by the Reconstruction Agency stood at 33.5 percent, 13.4 percent and 43.9 percent, respectively.

The central government will begin work to revive areas in the no-go zones spanning seven municipalities. According to the government’s plan, each of the seven will have a reconstruction base for work to decontaminate local areas tainted with radioactive substances from the Tepco power station and build infrastructure.

Decontamination costs will be borne by the central government. It aims to lift evacuation orders in the no-go zones within about five years.

The government is resolved to fully lift the evacuation orders (in the no-go zones), even if it takes a long time,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently said.

But a concrete path to the goal is not in sight.



People pray in silence in front of a memorial for the victims of the 2011 disaster in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, early on March 31. The tsunami-struck Ukedo district remains empty in the background.

Most Fukushima evacuation orders end save for no-go zones

More than six years after the nuclear accident, evacuation orders for areas in two towns and one village in Fukushima Prefecture were lifted after midnight on March 30, allowing residents to finally return home.

The number of residents affected tops 32,000, including the population of Tomioka, where the same order is scheduled to be lifted on April 1.

That will result in the government’s evacuation order issued right after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being lifted for almost all affected areas, apart from highly contaminated areas designated as a “difficult-to-return zone.”

However, less than 20 percent of people had returned to areas where the order had already been withdrawn earlier, and not many residents from areas close to the nuclear plants are willing to go back.

On March 31, the order for parts of Namie and Kawamata towns and Iitate village was lifted.

In the coastal Ukedo district in Namie, about seven kilometers north of the No. 1 plant, about 30 people, including Namie residents and the town mayor, gathered at a memorial for the 182 victims from the town before the dawn, hours after the lifting of the evacuation order.

Just after 5:30 a.m., they held a minute of silent prayer.

I would like to achieve complete recovery until the ban (on the difficult-to-return zone in the town) is lifted entirely for Namie, while cooperating with the residents,” said Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba.

In Namie, Iitate and Tomioka, the entire population had been living outside their homeland.

After the nuclear crisis unfolded, spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the government issued evacuation orders to 11 municipalities, for the total population of about 81,000.

Since then, one by one, the authority had lifted bans on areas that met certain safety criteria–estimated annual radiation doses totaling 20 millisieverts or less, and infrastructure and lifelines were reconstructed.

In Okuma and Futaba, where the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is sited, the evacuation order remains in effect for all residents.

From now on, the government’s priority will shift to encouraging evacuees’ return and assisting them on becoming financially independent, while withdrawing in stages their compensation and accommodation payments.

In the government’s fiscal 2017 budget, a fund of 23.6 billion yen ($212 million) was set aside for restoring the local health-care system and facilities in the area impacted by the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and nuclear crisis.

Restoring the essential services for living is part of the plan to encourage evacuees to return to their homes.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Rebutting six deceptive arguments against a nuclear weapons ban

Six deceptive arguments against a nuclear weapons ban, OPEN 31 Mar 17 
Should we still strive for a world without nuclear weapons, despite global security concerns? Absolutely, writes Cesar Jaramillo, as he debunks the justifications for not taking current negotiations seriously.
This year’s multilateral negotiations toward a legally binding prohibition on nuclear weapons reflect a growing global recognition that a nuclear-weapons ban is an integral part of the normative framework necessary to achieve and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons. For some observers of nuclear issues, in and out of government, they also constitute a welcome shock to an otherwise lethargic nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime.

UN Resolution L41, which calls for negotiations toward a new ban on nuclear weapons, was adopted by a wide majority at the General Assembly last December (123 for, 38 against, 16 abstentions). It epitomizes a new political reality in the nuclear disarmament realm: Founded on the humanitarian imperative for nuclear abolition, it bears witness to a widely held perception that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as currently implemented, does not constitute a credible path to abolition.

Negotiations stemming from L41 began this week at the United Nations in New York and, after the first round ends Friday, will continue June 15 to July 7. All UN member states, along with international organizations and members of civil society, were called on to participate. Yet, several did not.

A majority of nuclear-armed states and their allies — including the United States and most other NATO members, such as Germany and Canada — have actively opposed this effort and have openly tried to undermine its rationale.

The U.S. envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, attempted to justify her country’s absence this week by telling reporters, “There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic… Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?” (As she said this, she confirmed that the U.S. itself did not agree to a nuclear weapons ban. The irony, of course, was not lost.)

And while it is hardly surprising that the very states that rely on nuclear deterrence would oppose a legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, the primary arguments used to oppose the ban cannot withstand close scrutiny. They are either misleading, based on a dead-end logic, or outright wrong.

Let us consider six of the most commonly cited arguments.

1. Negotiations fail to consider the global security environment.

This point has been frequently raised by opponents to condemn negotiations before they even start. In reality, however, neither the way in which the talks will unfold nor possible outcomes are predetermined. These naysayers have been repeatedly urged by a majority of NPT and UN states parties to participate in the talks, which would allow them to raise any and all international security concerns they may have. Instead, they preemptively indict the process and choose instead to boycott the negotiations.

…….Nobody, however, is advocating for a ban in isolation, and it has never been said that the global security environment would not be considered……There is no perfect time to seek nuclear disarmament ……Achieving nuclear abolition will be a lengthy undertaking that will necessarily coexist with international security crises of varying gravity. To expect otherwise is unbelievably — and perhaps deliberately — naïve.

2. A nuclear-weapons ban would be ineffective…… Remarkably, one of the best articulations of the significance of a legal ban comes from the U.S. and reflects NATO thinking and policy.

In an unclassified NATO document from October 2016 entitled “United States Non-Paper: ‘Defense Impacts of Potential United Nations General Assembly Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty,’” a legal prohibition of nuclear weapons is presented as anything but insignificant or ineffective. …….

3. The process to ban nuclear weapons is divisive and not based on consensus…….Indeed, these talks will be divisive. But they simply shed further light on longstanding divisions, which continue to be exacerbated by the blatant disregard of nuclear-weapon states for their obligations to disarm.

It should be noted that the very countries that blocked consensus in the process surrounding the nuclear-weapons-ban negotiations, including the adoption of Resolution L41, are now criticizing the lack of consensus……Perplexingly, states wishing to undermine the negotiations continue to point to their own unwillingness to participate as an inherent flaw in the process.

4. A legal prohibition of nuclear weapons is no substitute for actual weapons reductions……..The historic adoption of Resolution L41 and the process surrounding it constitute the strongest diplomatic signal in decades that the peoples of the world reject these horrifying instruments of mass destruction. Critically, these developments could well signal a turning point in the humanitarian, diplomatic and political struggle toward their elimination……… Many recent and current international efforts related to nuclear weapons did not and will not reduce the size of nuclear arsenals. Various UN panels of governmental experts, high-level meetings related to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and NPT-endorsed plans of action, which produced no warhead reductions, have received multilateral support over the years. Why should negotiations on a ban be denied similar backing?

 5. The pursuit of a nuclear-weapons ban undermines the NPT……..The World Court in 1996 further clarified the Article VI obligation. It indicated that the NPT requires states not only to engage in good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament, but also to bring them to a conclusion.

The NPT was designed to prevent non-nuclear-weapon states from acquiring nuclear weapons and to compel nuclear-weapon states to eliminate their arsenals. In no direct or implied phrase does the treaty limit complementary efforts, such as negotiations toward a nuclear-weapons prohibition, to implement its provisions and advance nuclear disarmament.

6. Better than a ban is a so-called progressive, pragmatic approach to nuclear disarmament…….No credible multilateral undertaking now exists that will lead to nuclear disarmament in the foreseeable future. Efforts to further the nuclear disarmament agenda have withered when denied support by nuclear-armed states……. Developments such as the rapid, costly modernization of nuclear arsenals and related infrastructure (some estimates put the price tag at more than $1 trillion), heightened tensions between superpowers, and a dysfunctional multilateral disarmament machinery, underscore the inadequacy of the current approach to nuclear disarmament.

The nuclear-weapons-ban movement must be understood in this context. It developed out of the failure of the NPT to deliver on the promise of complete nuclear disarmament. The “pragmatic” approach advocated by those resisting a legal ban has already been tried — and has been found wanting.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A call for diplomacy: the need for USA to maintain the Iran nuclear deal

Congress should be a voice of caution and restraint. Any marginal benefit of this legislation is outweighed by the risk of giving an impulsive president license to take steps that could undermine a deal that is working, isolate the United States, and put U.S. troops at risk. 

Dear Senators: Push Back Against Iran, but Not at the Expense of the
Nuclear Deal, Foreign Policy,  
BY ANTONY J. BLINKENAVRIL HAINESCOLIN KAHLJEFF PRESCOTTJON FINERPHILIP GORDONROBERT MALLEY MARCH 31, 2017 – During our time in government, there were few issues on which it was easier to build a bipartisan consensus in Congress than the need to contend with the range of threats posed by Iran. Congress played a critical role in penalizing Iran for supporting terrorism, providing support to U.S. partners in the region threatened by Iran, and establishing the sanctions regime that, combined with tough diplomacy, led to a deal that prevents Iran from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. Momentum is again building in Congress to impose additional sanctions on Iran, including with the introduction last week of the Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 by Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez. The bill has already garnered more than two-dozen cosponsors. Unfortunately, as currently drafted, this bill would do more harm than good.

Thanks in large part to Congress’s support — including some difficult votes — the United States and our partners were able to address the most immediate and consequential threat posed by Iran. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran has dismantled much of its nuclear infrastructure: removing two-thirds of the centrifuges it had installed (well over 10,000 centrifuges), shipping out 98 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium, decommissioning a reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb, and putting all of its nuclear facilities under strict international monitoring.
Iran has committed in writing that, pursuant to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it will never seek a nuclear weapon and has put all key elements of its program under close surveillance. Most important of all: The deal is working.

By all accounts — including those of International Atomic Energy Agency, inspectors we have trained, and our own intelligence community — Iran is complying with its commitments. In other words, we were able to eliminate a potential threat to our allies and our nation without firing a shot — and the only price we paid was a relaxation of those international sanctions whose very purpose was to enable us to address the nuclear threat at the negotiating table. Non-nuclear sanctions, on matters like ballistic missiles, terrorism, and human rights violations, remain in place. And Iran essentially paid for the nuclear deal with its own money, which the international community had frozen in banks around the world, to increase pressure on Iranian leaders to make a deal. In short,

President Donald Trump has inherited an Iran policy that leaves us significantly safer than when his predecessor took office. This context is important in evaluating the potential upsides — and downsides — of new legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran.

Many senators will be tempted to support the Corker-Menendez legislation, which at first glance seems to accomplish a rare feat in Washington these days: bringing together bipartisan support to address a known national-security threat. We share concerns about threats from Iran to the United States and our allies, including the challenges posed by Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. But when it comes to an arrangement as complex as the JCPOA, the details matter, and this legislation, in its current form, includes several significant risks that could undermine the nuclear deal.

First, the bill adds new conditions that must be met before Washington can lift sanctions on certain Iranian parties in the future, including sanctions we are already committed to remove if Tehran continues to comply with the nuclear deal……..

Second, the legislation would, most likely, lead the president to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist group. …….

Third, by mandating sanctions on any person or entity that “poses a risk of materially contributing” to Iran’s ballistic missile program, the bill introduces a standard that is overly broad and vague. Such a loose definition could potentially be used to impose sanctions in violation of the JCPOA — particularly when in the hands of an administration that is overtly hostile to the deal.

………Congress should not take any steps that our international partners might view as violating a deal that, so far, has fulfilled its goals. Rather than containing Iran, such steps would isolate the United States.

……..Trump promised during his campaign that his “number one priority is to dismantle” the deal. On February 2, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn publicly, and vaguely, put Iran “on notice,” followed the next day by Trump declaring on Twitter that Iran was “playing with fire.” Trump’s team has not since publicly outlined any overall approach to Iran policy, engaged openly with Iranian diplomats, or publicly committed to working with our closest allies in keeping the nuclear deal intact. In this uncertain environment, Congress should be a voice of caution and restraint. Any marginal benefit of this legislation is outweighed by the risk of giving an impulsive president license to take steps that could undermine a deal that is working, isolate the United States, and put U.S. troops at risk.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | politics | Leave a comment

The path to war? US legislation in Congress to unravel the Iran nuclear agreement

If Congress sends Trump this legislation, our new president will be granted the tools and the greenlight from Congress to unravel the Iran deal and put us back on the path to a war with Iran. Unless Democratic senators stand up against this bill soon, opponents of the Iran nuclear deal may wipe away Obama’s diplomatic legacy with Iran faster than even they thought was possible.
Why Give Trump The Keys To War With Iran?
When Trump won the elections, many worried that it could lead to war between the United States and Iran, due to his desire to kill the Iran nuclear deal. Now, thanks to the U.S. Senate, we may be one step closer to this nightmare scenario: The Senate is poised to pass legislation that will place President Trump’s trigger-happy finger on the ignition switch of a deadly conflict with Iran.

Introduced to coincide with the annual American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC) conference that concludes today, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 (S. 722) would give Trump new tools to violate the Iran nuclear deal. Perhaps most shockingly, a small group of Senate Democrats have joined Republicans to grant Trump some of the most dangerous authorities that would put the U.S. and Iran back on the path to war. The list of sponsors includes many of the usual suspects ― the consummate Iran hawks who worked to block Obama’s diplomacy with Iran and many of whom have sworn to “rip up” the nuclear deal: Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). But the list of sponsors also includes Ben Cardin (D-MD) ― who opposed the nuclear deal but has said the U.S. should still abide by it ― as well as Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) who supported the deal.

Yet now these senators are signed onto legislation that requires non-nuclear certifications that would block the president from removing sanctions that are set to expire in later stages of the nuclear agreement. Why would Democratic senators who support the nuclear deal sign on to a measure that would violate the agreement? Because, they have argued, the bill gives the president a case-by-case waiver for the deal-killing provisions. That means that these senators are trusting Donald Trump with new deal-killing authorities and abdicating to him whether the U.S. honors the nuclear deal or “rips it to shreds.”

The bill also enables Trump to re-impose sanctions on Iranian entities that were de-listed pursuant to the accord. And it mandates sanctions that would broadly target any person or entity that ― knowingly or unknowingly ― contributes to Iran’s ballistic missile program, including universities that conduct research and banks that process payments for the government. This would amount to a trickle-down reimplementation of sanctions on much of Iran ― and a violation of the nuclear accord. Finally, the bill would designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite branch of the Iranian military, as a terrorist group ― a major escalation. The IRGC is a highly problematic organization that has benefitted from years of a sanctions economy at the expense of Iran’s people. It is not unusual for individuals within the IRGC to be sanctioned if they are believed to have connections to Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, designating a foreign military branch as a terrorist organization is an extremely dangerous provocation that Pentagon leaders in multiple administrations have advised against. AIPAC has urged for the IRGC designation for the past decade, yet Barack Obama and even George W. Bush resisted. But now, with Donald Trump in the White House, AIPAC is pressing ahead with its proposal.

If this legislation is passed the U.S. can expect a negative response from Tehran that will undermine moderates in Iran’s upcoming May elections and empower anti-U.S. hardliners. The ranking member of Iran’s Parliament, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, has already signaled that Iranian lawmakers will consider designating the U.S. Army as a terrorist organization in retaliation. It is naïve to assume this exchange will be limited to words. U.S. special forces and IRGC units are currently fighting ISIS on the same front in Mosul. Despite some evidence that IRGC units targeted U.S. troops with IEDs during the height of the Iraq War, there have been no such incidents since U.S. soldiers reentered Iraq in the summer of 2014. In effect, the IRGC and the U.S.-backed coalition have agreed to stay out of each other’s way as they fight a mutual enemy in ISIS. This bill could change that reality by removing any incentive for Iran not to attack U.S. troops in Iraq, forbidding any cooperation with IRGC-backed militias against ISIS, and placing our Iraqi allies in a diplomatic catch-22.  It is for this very reason that back in 2007, President Bush’s Pentagon opposed an SDGT designation for the IRGC.

With thousands of AIPAC supporters on Capitol Hill to lobby senators on behalf of the bill, there is a strong chance that this bill could obtain filibuster-proof levels of support. If every Republican supports the bill, and just one more Democrat signs on, AIPAC’s bill will hit 60 votes. If that happens, and Congress sends Trump this legislation, our new president will be granted the tools and the greenlight from Congress to unravel the Iran deal and put us back on the path to a war with Iran. Unless Democratic senators stand up against this bill soon, opponents of the Iran nuclear deal may wipe away Obama’s diplomatic legacy with Iran faster than even they thought was possible.  This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

On foreign affairs, Trump’s ignorance is cause for concern

Trump has antagonized the leaders of allied countries like Mexico, Australia and Germany, and he has repeatedly demonstrated an extraordinary lack of knowledge about foreign affairs.

This is the president who faces what Warren Christopher, President Clinton’s first secretary of state, called problems from hell. A partial list, compiled by Project Syndicate, includes: intensifying conflicts and dissent within the European Union; the rise of illiberal forces, including welfare chauvinism and exclusionary nationalismthe danger to the continued independence of the buffer states surrounding Russia; a frayed consensus in support of western liberal democratic principlesaggression from a nuclear-armed North Korea and counter threats from the Trump administration of a pre-emptive strike; a foreign policy that The Economist reports has left America’s allies “aghast” — a policy that “seems determined to destroy many of the institutions and alliances created in the past half century.”


When the President Is Ignorant of His Own Ignorance, NYT  MARCH 30, 2017 How prepared is our president for the next great foreign, economic or terrorist crisis?

April 1, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Toshiba’s nuclear mess: shareholders hurl abuse at Toshiba managers

‘You’re trash’: Investors hurl abuse at Toshiba managers after nuclear debacle, SMH, Pavel Alpeyev and Takako Taniguchi, 31 Mar 17, Toshiba shareholders have lashed out at management and lamented the downfall of the Japanese icon before approving the sale of its memory chips division to cover the billion-dollar costs resulting from its disastrous foray into nuclear energy.

Incensed investors took turns to hurl abuse at executives during a Thursday meeting convened to take a vote on the intended disposal of its prized semiconductor business. Toshiba is looking to sell a majority stake in the unit to mend a balance sheet ravaged by billions of dollars in writedowns related to cost overruns at its nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric.

Westinghouse, which Toshiba bought for $US5.4 billion in 2006, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday. The Japanese company said it may now book a loss of as much as 1.01 trillion yen ($11.8 billion) in the year ending March, a record for a Japanese manufacturer.

“Toshiba is now a laughing-stock to the whole world,” one shareholder said during a question-and-answer section, raising his voice. “I think all of you are incompetent as managers. Do you even know what’s happening?”

Another shareholder addressed the executives as “trash.”…….

April 1, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Financial disaster looms for Georgia and S Carolina’s new nuclear stations, after Westinghouse bankruptcy

Westinghouse bankruptcy leaves costly nuclear mess for Southern utility customers By Sue Sturgis March 31, 2017 Federal and state officials who oversee nuclear power can’t say they weren’t warned that financial disaster was a very real possibility should they approve plans for new nuclear reactor construction projects at Southern Company/Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia, and SCANA/SCE&G’s Summer Plant near Jenkinsville, South Carolina.

Clean energy and consumer watchdog groups were outspoken in opposition to the projects, which involved a new type of reactor known as the AP1000. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) testified extensively with expert witnesses before the Georgia Public Service Commission to warn about the high risks of investing in expensive new nuclear power and to encourage turning instead to clean, affordable alternatives like energy efficiency, and SCE&G ratepayers intervened to try to block construction in South Carolina.

But in 2009, federal and state regulators approved two AP1000 reactors for each of the sites. While the Obama administration offered $8.3 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to help finance the construction of the Vogtle reactors, the Georgia legislature passed a law allowing Southern Company to finance them through a scheme called “construction work in progress” that forces ratepayers to pay in advance, with a charge of about $10 on the average customer’s monthly bill. South Carolina also has a law in place allowing prepayment; as a consequence SCE&G customers have faced nine rate hikes since 2009 driven in large part by the project.

Construction got underway at the two sites — but then came the predicted delays and cost overruns. With the first new reactors initially set to come online this year, the Vogtle project is only about 36 percent complete, and construction at Summer is only about one-third complete. And while state regulators have approved costs of around $14 billion for each project, Morgan Stanley has estimated the final bill at about $19 billion for the Georgia reactors and $22 billion for the South Carolina project. Ratepayers in Georgia have already forked over about $3.9 billion for the reactors, while those in South Carolina have paid about $4.5 billion. Meanwhile, the utilities are guaranteed a 10 percent return in profits, even in the case of cost overruns.

Now this week Westinghouse — the Pittsburgh-based division of Japanese tech conglomerate Toshiba and the reactors’ main contractor — cited those massive cost overruns in declaring bankruptcy. The move leaves the projects in limbo and utility customers in Georgia and South Carolina facing one of two unpleasant scenarios: paying billions for nothing, or continuing to pay even more for reactors whose completion remains uncertain.

Critics are reminding regulators that they should have seen this coming. “Time and time again, our legitimate concerns and consumer-protecting recommendations were ignored,” said SACE Director Dr. Stephen Smith. “Now there is a lot of wringing of hands and surprise by those with the power to protect utility customers claiming that no one could have predicted this. The reality is, they shouldn’t have ignored the predictions they were presented over and over again, and they should not ignore the predictions now.”

‘No option that doesn’t affect rates’

At the time the projects were first proposed, worried consumer advocates pointed to the nuclear power debacle of the 1970s and 1980s, when utilities nationwide canceled about 100 planned reactors due to cost overruns. In the end, ratepayers and taxpayers shelled out about $40 billion for those abandoned projects — over $200 billion in today’s dollars. Forbes magazine called it “the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.”

What will happen next in Georgia and South Carolina remains uncertain.. On a conference call this week, SCANA told investors that 5,000 workers would continue working on the Summer site for 30 days while the company considered its options. SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh said the company’s “preferred option” is to finish the reactors while its “least preferred option is abandonment.” Meanwhile, Georgia Power said it is looking at “every option.”

During a SACE conference call this week about the implications of the Westinghouse bankruptcy, Peter Bradford, a former member of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and adjunct professor at Vermont Law School, said Georgia and South Carolina utility customers should expect another rate hike if the reactors eventually go into service — or if they are abandoned.

Liz Coyle, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Georgia Watch, pointed out on the call that the costs ratepayers are being forced to bear for the unfinished reactors present a “tremendous burden” for low-income households — one that is unlikely to ease any time soon.

“We see no option ahead that doesn’t affect rates customers will be paying,” she said.

Smith, Coyle and others are calling on utility regulators in Georgia and South Carolina to conduct a careful, transparent analysis of what’s in the best interest of ratepayers and proceed accordingly — and to remain unswayed by corporate interests that want to press ahead at any cost. If the companies and regulators do decide to proceed with construction, Smith said, ratepayers’ financial exposure should be capped.

Smith is also urging regulators to ground all future decisions in a basic concept of fairness: that no utility customer should be forced to pay for any facility for which a company cannot offer a reliable price estimate and timetable.

“If companies choose to build electric generation facilities with unknown costs and schedules, they should have shareholders carry the risk,” Smith said. “We must call on regulators to do their job and look out for customers’ interests.”

April 1, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

UK nuclear power plans thrown into doubt by Westinghouse bankruptcy

Westinghouse Bankruptcy Could Stall UK Nuclear Plans, Oil Price, 

Toshiba was planning to build three Westinghouse-designed AP 1000 reactors at Moorside in Cumbria (UK). Government officials said these plants were expected to provide about 7 percent of the UK’s energy needs when they come on line around the year 2030. Toshiba owns 60 percent of the project along with French partner, Engie, which owns the balance. (Engie, formerly GDF Suez, is one of the largest generating companies in the world.)

Given the possibility of a Westinghouse bankruptcy, as well as related financial woes, Toshiba has been seeking to offload its interest in the Moorside project. The CEO of Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) initially sounded enthusiastic about assuming Toshiba’s Moorside stake stating publicly he was ready to “jump in” after questions of the project’s debt and equity were clarified. KEPCO, however, later ruled out buying Westinghouse.

Nowhere in various press report, though, did we see KEPCO officials embrace the Toshiba/Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design.The Koreans have their own nuclear reactor designs which they have had some success exporting. Actually, they have two of them; the OPR 1000 and the larger APR 1400….

Why does this matter?

It could take the UK’s nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Generation (ONR), at least four years to certify a new reactor design. The ONR’s latest Generic Design Assessment is almost complete for Westinghouse’s AP 1000.

As sophisticated designers and builders of new nuclear facilities, with their own proprietary technology, we believe there is little likelihood the Koreans will take on the AP 1000 design. Building with a new and unfamiliar design would add to their risk.

If the Koreans assume Toshiba’s Moorside stake and pursue their home-grown reactor design, this will add years to the plant’s estimated in service date. The only good news, here, is that Britain’s electricity demand has fallen so much that maybe the delay would be a blessing in disguise.

Once again, though, we wonder if the UK’s nuclear policymakers have a plan B. They never had one before.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment