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USA considers show of strength, shooting down North Korea missile tests,

US military considers shooting down North Korea missile tests, sources say As Pentagon looks for strategies to pressure into denuclearization, officials worry that intercepting missiles could escalate tensions and risk war, Guardian,  in New York and  in Tokyo, 18 Apr 17, The US military is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang, two sources briefed on the planning have told the Guardian.

Amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, the Pentagon is looking for ways short of war to pressure the country into denuclearization, particularly if Pyongyang goes forward with a sixth nuclear test.

The defense secretary, James Mattis, has briefed Congress on the option, but the military has not yet decided to intercept a test missile.

One US official said the prospective shoot-down strategy would be aimed at occurring after a nuclear test, with the objective being to signal Pyongyang that the US can impose military consequences for a step Donald Trump has described as “unacceptable”.

On a visit to South Korea this week, the US vice-president, Mike Pence, warned Pyongyang against testing Trump’s “resolve”, and declared an end to Obama’s “strategic patience” policy.

 But North Korea’s deputy foreign minister, Han Song-Ryol, told the BBC that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis”. All-out war would ensue if the US took military action, he said.

Experts and former officials said shooting down a North Korean missile during a test would risk an escalation that Washington might not be able to control, which would risk potentially devastating consequences to US allies South Korea and Japan……..https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/18/us-military-shoot-down-north-korea-missile-tests

April 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Men in charge of nuclear warheads are ready to use them! This is criminal

Nuclear war has become thinkable again – we need a reminder of what it means https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/nuclear-war-has-become-thinkable-again-we-need-a-reminder-of-what-it-means Paul Mason As Trump faces down North Korea, it’s alarming to
think that most of the world’s nuclear warheads are now in the hands of men who are prepared to use them 

Last week, Donald Trump deployed his superweapon Moab, the “mother of all bombs” – 10 tonnes of high explosive detonated in mid-air in such a way as to kill, it is claimed, 94 Isis militants. The Russian media immediately reminded us that their own thermobaric bomb – the “father of all bombs” – was four times as powerful: “Kids, meet Daddy,” was how the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today put it. But these are child’s play compared with nuclear weapons. The generation waking up to today’s Daily Mail strapline – “World holds its breath” – may need reminding what a nuclear weapon does.

The one dropped on Hiroshima measured 15 kilotons; it destroyed everything within 200 yards and burned everybody within 2km. The warhead carried by a Trident missile delivers a reported 455 kilotons of explosive power. Drop one on Bristol and the fireball is 1km wide; third-degree burns affect everybody from Portishead to Keynsham, and everything in a line from the Bristol Channel to the Wash is contaminated with radiation. In this scenario, 169,000 people die immediately and 180,000 need emergency treatment. Given that there are only 101,000 beds in the entire English NHS, you can begin to imagine the apocalyptic scenes for those who survive. (You can model your own scenario here.)

But a Trident missile carries up to eight of these warheads, and military planners might drop them in a pattern around one target, creating a firestorm along the lines that conventional Allied bombing created in Hamburg and Tokyo during the second world war.

I don’t wish to alarm you, but right now the majority of the world’s nuclear warheads are in the hands of men for whom the idea of using them is becoming thinkable.

For Kim Jong-un, it’s thinkable; for Vladimir Putin, it’s so thinkable that every major Russian wargame ends with a “nuclear de-escalation” phase: that is, drop one and offer peace. On 22 December last year, Trump and Putin announced, almost simultaneously, that they were going to expand their nuclear arsenals and update the technology.

Right now, a US aircraft carrier strike force is steaming towards North Korea(the DPRK) to menace Kim’s rogue regime. We don’t know what secret diplomacy went on between Xi Jinping and Trump at Mar-a-Lago, but the US is sounding confident that China will rein the North Koreans in.

What we do know is that Trump has been obsessed since the 80s with nuclear weapons, that he refuses to take advice from military professionals and that he seems not to understand the core Nato concept of nukes as a political deterrent, as opposed to a military superweapon.

This sudden mania for speaking of nuclear warfare, among men with untrammeled power, should be the No 1 item on the news, and the No 1 concern of democratic and peace-loving politicians.

The video fireworks on US cable news channels have progressed in the space of 10 days from cruise missile launches to bunker-busting airburst porn. One US news host referred to the former as “beautiful”.

I will always remember the Botoxed faces of the US news anchors when they arrived in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It was as if they had been woken up from a dream, and the best of them realised how they had been sleepwalking towards the disaster.

Katrina shows what happens when a disaster hits a fragile, poverty-stricken and socially fragmented city. In New Orleans, for a few days, civilisation fell apart. Policemen, suddenly called on to haul their overweight frames into self-sacrificing and arduous work, quit on the spot. The modern equivalent of lynchings happened. Central government and unified military command of the situation broke down. My experience there convinced me that, in the event of mass fatalities being inflicted on a developed world city, the real problem would be social chaos, not mass radiation sickness.

Trump is ramping up the military rhetoric for a horribly simple reason: two weeks ago, the isolationist wing of his team got outflanked by generals; they tried some war to see how it went down and it went down well.

We may get lucky. It may be that the Chinese leadership is prepared to put serious pressure on North Korea to prevent Kim’s regime staging some kind of provocation against the US navy. Or we may get unlucky: the DPRK has a nuclear weapon, even if the missiles needed to deliver it are unstable.

It has been human nature, given the scale of devastation a nuclear war would bring, to blank the possibility from our minds, to worry about small risks because the big one is incalculable. But from the 50s to the 00s, we had – in all nuclear powers – military/industrial complex politicians who understood the value of multilateralism. All around us high politics is becoming emotion driven, unilateral, crowd-pleasing and falling under the control of erratic family groups and mafias, rather than technocrats representing ruling elites.

For the warmongers, true multilateralism is a serious annoyance; that’s why so many of the world’s autocrats are busy forcing NGOs to register, cutting off foreign funds to them and decrying the presence of international observers or sabotaging their work.

If Theresa May wanted to send a useful message at Easter it could have been: in compliance with the non-proliferation treaties, we will never use our nuclear weapons first; we will stick to diplomatic and economic pressure to get the DPRK to comply; and we will use our own, independent diplomatic clout to strengthen disarmament and non-proliferation.

That is what a responsible nuclear-armed power would do. The UK’s silence as Trump toys with military escalation and nuclear rearmament is criminal.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

$billions of Americans’ tax money squandered on weapons

Where Your Taxes Go: The Militarized Budget On the other hand, there is another side of the US government: the government of tax breaks and tax cuts for the rich, the one that squanders as much on the military as the next seven countries combined.

Only 22 percent of military taxes go to US troops for pay and benefits. Meanwhile, nearly half of the military budget goes to a powerful group of multinational corporations that make billions in profits from US warmongering.

Take Lockheed Martin. As the federal government’s biggest military contractor, it received $36 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2015, amounting to 80 percent of its revenues from all sources.

And that’s just one contractor. In all, the Department of Defense handed out more than $297 billion in contracts in 2016….Events like the Syria bombing, and Trump’s election, tend to send stock prices for these companies soaring.

Where Your Dollars Are Going: Why Some Antiwar Activists Are Withholding Taxes, April 18, 2017, By Lindsay KoshgarianTruthout | News Analysis Among the marches, petitions and call-in campaigns that comprise much of the Trump resistance movement, one resistance tactic gets little attention: withholding taxes. As the US seems ready to slide into yet another Middle East war in Syria while preparing for massive cuts to government programs at home, what role does tax resistance play in opposing regressive and violent policies?

While being anti-tax is typically associated with conservatism, there is a small but longstanding tradition within the progressive movement of withholding taxes — specifically, war taxes.

How does tax resistance work, and does it result in a lack of support for government programs that most progressives support and would like to see grow? How much of our taxes go to war, the military and militarism anyway, and how much to worthy programs like education, aid for struggling families, the environment and more?

Paying income taxes may not usually spur introspection, but it might if Americans realized that, for example, they are working 27 days out of every year to pay taxes that support war profiteers. Most progressives and many on the right of the political spectrum would never willingly write a check to weapons contractors, or speak in support of weapons systems that will fuel tomorrow’s air strikes and drone attacks. If Lockheed Martin, the nation’s most prolific military contractor, were a store or coffee shop, many would boycott it. So why willingly give Lockheed $170 a year through taxes — which the average taxpayer now does?

Pride and Prejudice: How the Government Helps (and How Americans Pay for It) The extent to which government helps those who need it most and strengthens every community is certainly underappreciated in a country obsessed with “small government,” a nation that reveres former President Ronald Reagan, who once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Of course, the government does help. More than half of almost every group of Americans — from every region of the country, white, Black, Latino, rural, urban, conservative, liberal — have benefited at some point in their lives from government programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment and welfare. Government programs are often targeted to help those most in need of aid or those historically oppressed. Half of the students who receive Pell grants for college tuition come from families with incomes below $15,223, and 77 percent of them would be the first generation of their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. Nearly one in four Pell recipients is Black. Meanwhile, programs like Meals on Wheels for seniors are almost universally beloved and respected for taking care of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. The federal government serves as a crucial source of support for many………

Where Your Taxes Go: The Militarized Budget

On the other hand, there is another side of the US government: the government of tax breaks and tax cuts for the rich, the one that squanders as much on the military as the next seven countries combined; the one that has increased its spending on federal prisons by 10 times over the last 40 years — the government that seeks to consolidate power and exert control over the world’s most vulnerable people.

The US government promotes an extreme overreliance on military might and a disturbing parallel of policing, incarceration, surveillance and immigration raids and deportations here at home. A recent National Priorities Project analysis of the US discretionary budget showed that 64 percent of the federal discretionary budget — the budget decided by Congress each year, which is covered almost entirely by income taxes — is devoted to the military and militarism: to making and preparing for war, dealing with the consequences of war, and to programs that amount to intimidation and oppression here at home.

At least 23 percent of income taxes go to the military — and if you count spending on veterans’ benefits, national debt due to past wars, or other militarized spending like that for the FBI, federal prisons or immigration enforcement, the estimates only go higher. In addition to paying an average of $3,290 in yearly income taxes for the traditional military, Americans each pay $88 for border control and immigration and customs enforcement, $33 for the federal prison system, and more for programs ranging from the FBI to the CIA and beyond.

Only 22 percent of military taxes go to US troops for pay and benefits. Meanwhile, nearly half of the military budget goes to a powerful group of multinational corporations that make billions in profits from US warmongering.

Take Lockheed Martin. As the federal government’s biggest military contractor, it received $36 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2015, amounting to 80 percent of its revenues from all sources. Lockheed used those taxpayer dollars to pay its CEO more than $19 million in 2015. Taxpayers contributed six times as much to this one weapons maker as they did to all foreign aid in 2016. This should give us pause when we consider how often the US turns to military intervention versus prevention, diplomacy or other means during international crises.

And that’s just one contractor. In all, the Department of Defense handed out more than $297 billion in contracts in 2016 — more than half of the department’s budget.

Events like the Syria bombing, and Trump’s election, tend to send stock prices for these companies soaring.

An Act of Resistance

So, how does it all balance out? Does the government help more than it harms? Is there a way to support the good while resisting the bad?

This is what some war tax resisters attempt to do. In practice, resisting war tax runs the gamut from not paying any taxes at all to withholding a token amount of tax — as low as a few dollars — as a way of registering resistance. For those who want to support the government in its helping capacities, or who want to see those capacities grow, the second may be the better option.

Clearly, resisting taxes is not for everyone — it can come with legal penalties, headaches and a good deal of uncertainty. And of course, war tax resisting is not the only way to influence how your tax dollars are used: calling, visiting or writing your representatives in government; voting; and engaging in street protests play key roles in resisting war and militarism. Still, we are in the midst of a big resistance, and for some, resisting tax may be just what the doctor ordered. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40248-where-your-dollars-are-going-why-some-anti-war-activists-are-withholding-taxes

April 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Will USA provoke a nuclear war ?

Washington pushes world to brink of nuclear war, WSWS, 18 April 2017  The repeated statements by US Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials Monday that the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over and “all options are on the table” have laid bare the mounting threat that Washington will provoke a war on the Korean peninsula involving the use of nuclear weapons and the deaths of millions.

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence declared during a provocative visit to South Korea that brought him to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the North Korean border. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Pence said.

This boasting about the reckless acts of military aggression—first, the cruise missile attack on Syria on April 7 and then, a week later, the use in Afghanistan of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, the most destructive weapon unleashed anywhere since the US incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—cannot be read by the government of North Korea as anything other than an ultimatum to accept US demands or expect to be on the receiving end of far greater violence.

With the naval strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson set to take up a position off the Korean peninsula, the means of inflicting such violence are being put into place. The global implications of this buildup were underscored Monday with the report that both Russia and China have dispatched spy ships to trail the Vinson battle group. For these two nuclear-armed countries, Washington’s launching of a war against North Korea poses an existential threat.

The drive toward a military confrontation in Asia that could lead to a nuclear third world war has unfolded largely behind the backs of the people of the United States and the entire world. Neither the politicians of the two big business parties in the US nor the corporate-controlled media have so much as hinted to the public the horrific consequences of even a “limited” nuclear exchange on the Korean peninsula, nor the likelihood that such a catastrophe would draw all of the major nuclear powers into a global conflagration.

The recklessness of the path being pursued by Washington is staggering. Why the “era of strategic patience” has ended is not explained, nor are the conclusions drawn from this declaration even challenged. There are a whole number of states that now have nuclear weapons. North Korea’s pursuit of such arms does not represent a credible threat to the US.

“All options are on the table” can only mean that Washington is prepared to launch an unprovoked first strike against North Korea. Yet, within the media, there is barely a mention that such a course involves the threat of nuclear war. Nor is there the slightest suggestion that the US Congress should convene to vote on whether to authorize an attack that could produce casualties in the millions. The accepted wisdom is that Donald Trump doesn’t have to tell anyone what military action he will take until after the attack is executed. The only hint Trump gave of his intentions was at a Monday Easter egg-rolling event on the White House lawn, where he declared that North Korea has “gotta behave.”

The real character of the policy being pursued by Washington was indicated by John Bolton, the Bush administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, who told Fox News that the “way to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is to end North Korea,” i.e., topple the government and militarily smash the country.

The real and growing danger posed by Washington’s reckless policy is beginning to be registered, if only in the mildest form.

The New York Times, which had previously celebrated the Trump administration’s turn toward stepped-up militarism against Syria and Russia, proclaiming its feeling of “emotional satisfaction and justice done” over the cruise missile strike of April 7, has become somewhat nervous that things are spinning out of control………..

The assumption that China can be pressured into imposing Washington’s diktat in relation to North Korea is without foundation….. If Beijing were to accede to these demands, it would have immense strategic implications for China as well as major internal political consequences.

There are already indications that tensions between Beijing and Washington are escalating on the Korean peninsula after Seoul’s announcement that it intends to move ahead rapidly with the installation of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, which the US claims is designed to defend against North Korean missiles, but which China recognizes as a means of assuring the US a nuclear first-strike capability……

Everything that is being done by the US government involves astonishing levels of risk, including that of a nuclear war. Whether it happens in the immediate confrontation with North Korea cannot be predicted, but that this is the course Washington is prepared to pursue all over the world is undeniable……..https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/04/18/pers-a18.html

April 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA scientists ready for 22 April’s mass march against Trump’s war on science

Science strikes back: anti-Trump march set to draw thousands to Washington  Scientists are ditching their labs for the streets in a mass protest against the Trump administration’s war on facts, but will the effort resonate with skeptics? Guardian,  18 Apr 17,  On Saturday, thousands of scientists are set to abandon the cloistered neutrality of their laboratories to plunge into the the political fray against Donald Trump in what will likely be the largest-ever protest by science advocates.

The March for Science, a demonstration modeled in part on January’s huge Women’s March, will inundate Washington DC’s national mall with a jumble of marine biologists, birdwatchers, climate researchers and others enraged by what they see as an assault by Trump’s administration upon evidence-based thinking and scientists themselves.

 The march is a visceral response to a presidency that has set about the evisceration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many of its science-based rules, the dismissal of basic climate change tenets by the president and his appointees and a proposed budget that would remove around $7bn from science programs, ranging from cancer research to oceanography to Nasa’s monitoring of the Earth.

Many scientists at federal agencies, concerned their work may be sidelined or censored for political purposes, will take the unusual step of publicly damning the administration.

“It’s important for scientists to get out of the lab and talk about what’s important,” said Andrew Rosenberg, who spent a decade at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is now at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “You don’t check your citizenship at the door when you get a PhD. No one would tell an architect they can’t have a view on HUD [the Department of Housing and Urban Development]. That would be nonsense.”

 Rosenberg said younger scientists, in particular, are increasingly rejecting a stance of studied silence when faced with what they see as threats to their profession…….

The march now has dozens of people grappling with the logistics of the DC march and more than 500 companion events around the world. More than 100 organizations have lent their support, including the institutional heft of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciencethe world’s largest general scientific organization, and the American Geophysical Union.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA | Leave a comment

THE U.S. IS BUILDING A NUCLEAR MISSILE THAT’S MORE ACCURATE THAN EVER,

NewsWeek, BY  ON 4/18/17 The U.S. has built a better, smarter nuclear bomb capable of replacing all four of its predecessors and, as of last month, it’s ready to fly.

The U.S. Air Force said Thursday it conducted an inert test in March of an upgraded version of one of its primary nuclear gravity bombs, the B61, in an effort to refurbish the nuclear arsenal of the nation with the second-largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world. The long-awaited upgrade comes amid a new effort by President Donald Trump to conduct a massive review of the nation’s nuclear capabilities.

An F-16 dropped the non-nuclear B61-12 over the Nellis Test and Training Range Complex in Nevada, assessing functions such as the weapon’s fire control system, radar altimeter, spin rocket motors and weapons control computer. The B61-12 was set to replace four current models—the B61-3, -4, -7, and -10, according to theAviationist. The initiative, which hoped to see the weapon in production by 2020, was part of the nuclear life-extension program overseen by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration……….

The life-extension program continued as the Pentagon announced Monday the beginning of its Nuclear Posture Review, according to Defense News. The six-month process was commissioned by an executive order signed January 27 by Trump and would assess the nation’s nuclear forces in light of the current geopolitical scheme. Former President Barack Obama conducted the last review in 2010, and the new administration would likely take into account heightened tensions in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Trump has recently feuded with his former political ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who currently commands the largest nuclear force on the planet, and has suggested a harder line on nuclear-armed North Korea.

Modernizing the U.S.’s entire nuclear arsenal would cost $400 billion by 2026, according to a figure released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Some military officials have reportedly suggested abandoning nuclear projects such as the Long-Range Standoff nuclear cruise missile (LRSO) in favor of optimized conventional strike options. http://www.newsweek.com/us-build-better-nuclear-missile-585686

April 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New military posture review for Trump’s Pentagon

Pentagon starts U.S. nuclear posture review under President Trump’s order, WASHINGTON, April 17 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Defense Ministry has officially started a review of the country’s nuclear posture and will submit a final report to President Donald Trump at the end of this year, the Pentagon announced Monday.

“Today, Secretary (James) Mattis directed the commencement of the review, which will be led by the deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and include interagency partners,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.

“The process will culminate in a final report to the president by the end of the year.” said the statement.

The nuclear posture review was ordered by President Trump in a January executive action on military readiness, according to a theHill news daily report.

The January memo called for a review “to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.”…….

Though planned since January under Trump’s order, the start of the nuclear review comes at a time of high anxiety over increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The last time the Pentagon conducted a nuclear posture review was in 2010.http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-04/18/c_136216300.htm

April 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s changed attitude to NATO – he now wants it bigger and tougher

‘Trump’s U-turn on NATO: Making it more expansionist, rather than more defensive, ’https://www.rt.com/op-edge/384649-nato-trump-policy-defense/  13 Apr, 2017 President Trump is going along with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on the alliance’s increased deployment in Eastern Europe to supposedly deter Russia, but it will only reduce European security, Martin Sieff of the Global Policy Institute told RT.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday had his first face-to-face meeting with NATOSecretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington DC.

He admitted changing his position on NATO, calling the alliance the “bulwark of international peace and security.”

However, his stance on having peaceful relations with Russia also stays in place, and Stoltenberg supported it.

It would be wonderful, as we were discussing just a little while ago if NATO and our country could get along with Russia. Right now, we’re not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in terms of a relationship with Russia. This has built over a long period of time. But we’re going to see what happens. Putin is the leader of Russia. Russia is a strong country. We’re a very, very strong country. We’re going to see how that all works out,” Trump said.

Former CIA analyst Elizabeth Murray shared her thoughts with RT on President Trump’s change of tune on NATO.

That seems to be in line with a lot of contradictory messages that have been coming from the White House. It seems like just over a week ago we heard that the Syrian people were going to decide their leadership. Apparently now it seems they don’t have that option. So it seems that we’re hearing a lot of contradictory statements from the White House and it is hard to know what to make of it,” she said.

As to why this is happening, Murray suggested that perhaps this has something to do “with the ratcheting up of tensions and ratcheting up of rhetoric vis-à-vis both Syria and Russia.”

As you well know, we have a record number of NATO troops massed on the border with Russia – in Poland and the Baltic States. This is consistent with the tensions that have been rising since last week after this chemical incident in Syria and then the bombing of the Syrian airfield. I’m just hoping that dialogue, cool heads, and adult supervision will prevail here,” she added.

Martin Sieff of the Global Policy Institute called Trump’s change of rhetoric “depressing” but at the same time “predictable.

President Trump is inexperienced in the foreign policy area. He has not made the same effort he made in the economic sphere to appoint senior officials and advisors who would implement the policies that he spilled out consistently during his election campaign. Instead, he is letting himself be swayed by establishment positions,” he told RT.

Effectively, in Seiff’s view, Trump has made a U-turn on his NATO policy.

He repeatedly said during his campaign that NATO was obsolete, that it needs to be restructured. Now he says it is not obsolete,” he said. “If he is going to change NATO radically, it looks like he is going to change it by making it more expansionist rather than more defensive and stabilizing. This is exactly the opposite of the positions he took consistently during his campaign.”

Speaking on Wednesday Trump yet again raised the spending issue.

Fair burden-sharing has been my top priority since taking office. We have now turned a corner,” the president said.

Seiff says that even if European countries do increase their NATO spending, it will make no difference in practical terms.

Secretary General Stoltenberg today in Washington – and he is a hawk in these issues – expressed confidence that the overall spending rates would be rising to 3.8 per cent for NATO. He said there are now $10 billion more of defense spending in NATO. But when you look currently – only five NATO nations have reached the two per cent of GDP standard, which Stoltenberg has been pushing, and which Trump is now also pushing – last year in 2016. Stoltenberg says another two or three nations will reach this stage in the next year or two. This includes very small countries: Romania, which although is a large country geographically, has a very weak economic base; and Latvia, which is a very small country indeed,” he explained.

He went on to say that in Germany and France powerful political forces are emerging who want neither increases in defense spending nor heightened tension with Russia.

This year we’re going to see elections in a couple of weeks in France – the first round of the presidential elections. And we’re going to see the German elections for the Federal government coming in the fall, in September. If those go against the hawks, then all of Trump’s hopes to have increased spending in NATO is going to go by the board. It is not going to happen,” he said.

Trump’s reassessment of NATO could also have an impact on the United States’ relations with Russia, the analyst said.

The signs again in the short term are very pessimistic, unfortunately. NATO has been pushing under President Obama and under NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg to deploy increased numbers of forces in Eastern Europe allegedly to deter Russian aggression. This will only have the opposite effect. It is Russia that was invaded from Western Europe and devastated in WWI and WWII. It was the Russian people who suffered more than anyone else. This concern, these historic memories go deep in Russia. Even relatively small forward NATO deployments, especially in countries that have very anti-Russian popular traditions in them – small countries even like Latvia, or even larger countries like Poland – create great alarm in Russia,” he said.

So far from giving increased security to NATO and to its eastern members, these deployments that Stoltenberg wants, and Trump is going along with, will reduce security in Europe, and are much more likely to threaten the very catastrophes and breakdown of peace and security that they allegedly claim to prevent,” Seiff concluded.

If he is going to change NATO radically, it looks like he is going to change it by making it more expansionist rather than more defensive and stabilizing. This is exactly the opposite of the positions he took consistently during his campaign.”

April 19, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korean envoy at UN warns of nuclear war possibility: USA ready to do a pre-emptive strike

North Korean envoy at UN warns of nuclear war possibility | 17 April 2017 | North Korea’s UN deputy representative, Kim In Ryong, on Monday unleashed at a hastily called UN press conference a torrent of threats, war scenarios and rhetoric aimed at the United States. The press event was held hours after US Vice President Mike Pence visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Pence warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the United States “or the strength of our military forces.” In New York, North Korea’s UN ambassador condemned the US naval buildup in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, plus the US missile attacks on Syria. Kim said, “It has created a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment on the peninsula and poses a serious threat to world peace and security.”
U.S. May Launch Strike If North Korea Reaches for Nuclear Trigger | 13 April 2017 | The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News. North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend. The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea simply sees nuclear weapons as essential for its survival

“At the end of the day, the North Koreans believe that their nuclear weapons are too foundational to their survival and to the survival of their regime.”

WITH the whole world staring daggers at North Korea, why is it so intent on harnessing the very weapon that could destroy it? Charis Chang news.com.au, 18 Apr 17, 

Another factor that has added pressure to the situation is the political turmoil in South Korea.

The US made a deal with South Korea to place a powerful anti-missile system in the country that could intercept and destroy missiles fired from North Korea.

But this deal was placed under a cloud earlier this year when then-president Park Geun-hye was impeached for corruption and then removed from office.

The man seen as a frontrunner to replace her, Moon Jae-in, does not seem supportive of continuing with the deal, and said he wanted to review the decision. While the presidential race has since narrowed, if Moon was elected on May 9, it could weaken the US bargaining position.Moon has said he wants to met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang as a priority over going to Washington, indicating he favours working with the dictator.

This may calm tensions in the area but could allow North Korea to continue developing its nuclear weapons.

With South Korea currently under interim leadership favourable to the US, Prof Blaxland said there was a “certain moment of opportunity” for the US to act.

Last month the US started installing its advanced missile defence system called THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) in South Korea, despite some saying it should wait until the presidential elections were held.

US President Donald Trump has also ordered a naval strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, to the region, though the vessels remain a long way from the peninsula………

CAN CHINA HELP?  Many countries have been looking to China to try and solve the impasse, saying it should exert its influence over North Korea to get it to fall in line. But Brad Glosserman said the belief the Chinese could force an outcome in Pyongyang was a mistake.

He pointed to the US relationship with Israel as an example, saying despite all that America does to help the Jewish state, it is unable to force Israel to do what it wants. “The problem with North Korea’s relationship with the world, is the North’s relationship with the US,” he said.

“What China believes is that if there is to be a resolution, it must be a resolution between Washington and Pyongyang. “Beijing’s only real role is to facilitate that task, the idea that they can put the screws on … and deliver North Korea is something that the Chinese don’t believe and I don’t believe.”

SHOULD NORTH KOREA BE ALLOWED TO HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS?

If the US did become open to the idea of a nuclear-armed North Korea, Mr Glosserman said this would place stress on the US relationship with South Korea and also with Japan.

“It undermines the integrity of the non-proliferation treaty,” he said.

“I believe North Korea went nuclear because Pakistan went nuclear and got away with it. And I’m willing to bet that if North Korea goes nuclear, Iran will go nuclear and if Iran goes nuclear who knows what other dominoes will fall?.

“If North Korea is allowed to become a nuclear weapons state, I would suggest South Koreans might be encouraged to do the same and the Japanese will actively be pushed to do the same.

“There are a number of nuclear dominoes that have the potential to fall.”

HOW CAN WE STOP THEM?

According to the New York Times, the US has been trying to sabotage North Korea’s development of missile program using cyber and electronic strikes.

This may even have been why a ballistic missile launched on Saturday was unsuccessful. Lately, President Donald Trump is reportedly considering “utterly destroying” Kim Jong-un’s nuclear sites using pre-emptive strikes.

But Mr Glosserman said he didn’t think the US knew where North Korea’s warheads or missiles were located.

“The idea that we can intimidate the North Koreans strikes me as being a bit of a stretch,” he has previously said.

But while it may be hard for the US to take out North Korea’s weapons stockpile if it doesn’t know where to target, the use of a military option was still a possibility………

Mr Glosserman said the countries involved needed to be very careful as diplomacy was everyone’s preferred outcome.

Unfortunately Mr Glosserman said he didn’t think a deal could ultimately be brokered.

He said the US was demanding that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons but this is something they were not willing to do. The Chinese have asked for a freeze in activity but this doesn’t get rid of what the weapons they have already got.

“At the end of the day, the North Koreans believe that their nuclear weapons are too foundational to their survival and to the survival of their regime.,” he said.

“No one has come up with good terms by which we can at least begin a process to cap then roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”http://www.news.com.au/technology/why-its-so-important-for-north-korea-to-develop-nuclear-weapons/news-story/ae936c8099fdcfb137860260afcee844

Email: charis.chang@news.com.au | Twitter: @charischang2

April 19, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear industry titan is teetering

As the industry struggles, is it ‘time to recognize the nuclear show’s over’?, LA Times,  17 Apr 17, There was a time when nuclear power was considered to be the bulwark of America’s energy future.

Now the titan appears to be teetering. Westinghouse Electric Co. — long considered the leader in nuclear power development — filed for bankruptcy protection in late March. The move puts in jeopardy the completion of two nuclear plants in the Southeast that had been heralded as proof the industry’s future was still vibrant.

The news added to a long list of nuclear’s woes:

  • California is on the verge of eliminating its last remaining nuclear power plant.
  • Nuclear waste, stranded in places such as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, isn’t going away any time soon.
  • The industry is still reeling from the 2011 tsunami that hit the Fukushima plant in Japan, which prompted some countries such as Germany to turn away from nuclear power…….

Even the industry’s biggest supporters acknowledged the Westinghouse news was bad.

“I’m freaked out, honestly,” said Michael Shellenberger, president of [Ed. – nuclear front group] Berkeley-based Environmental Progress, a group that considers nuclear power an essential element to battle climate change……..

even before the Westinghouse announcement, nuclear energy faced growing competition from natural gas and renewable sources.

Utilities have increasingly turned to natural gas, which emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal. And thanks to the booming shale market, natural gas can be extracted in burgeoning supplies at a price that has remained consistently low for years.

Renewable sources such as wind and solar also have grown while their costs have dropped. That’s left nuclear struggling to just hold onto its 20% share of the nation’s energy mix.“The bottom line is that nuclear was already having problems and in decline,” said Andy Smith, senior analyst covering utility stocks for the investment firm Edward Jones.

Bedeviled at Diablo The Diablo Canyon facility near San Luis Obispo is the last nuclear power plant operating in California — but maybe not for long.The plant’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., announced plans last summer to shut down the site for good by 2025, blaming greater renewable sources in the state’s power mix, developments in energy efficiency and battery storage as well as lower demand.

In the meantime, the list of nuclear closures keeps growing. A plant in Nebraska shut down at the end of last year, and as many as 10 other reactors are proposed to go offline in the coming years, including the two at Diablo. Ohio’s two nuclear plants are in danger of going down.

The country’s nuclear fleet is also getting older, with 99 reactors having an average age of 35 years old……

April 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Court case: $234B In Aid To Israel Violates US Law Against Supporting Secret Nuclear States

Lawsuit Warns $234B In Aid To Israel Violates US Law Against Supporting Secret Nuclear States, Mint Press, By Kit O’Connell Follow on Facebook |  @KitOConnell | August 16, 2016

The lawsuit warns that the U.S. gave Israel about $234 billion in foreign aid since the passage of the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976, despite a ban on support for secret nuclear weapons programs.​
By Kit O’Connell AUSTIN, Texas — A lawsuit warns that U.S. aid to Israel violates a law meant to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, even as the United States prepares to increase the already massive Israeli aid program.

Filed Aug. 8 by Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, or IRMEP, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the suit alleges that U.S. aid to Israel violates two amendments to the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, known as the the Symington and Glenn Amendments, which collectively ban support for countries engaged in clandestine nuclear programs.

In the lawsuit, Smith alleges that violating these amendments means that Israel has received approximately $234 billion in illegal aid since the passage of the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.

The lawsuit reads:

“This lawsuit is not about foreign policy. It is about the rule of law, presidential power, the structural limits of the U.S. Constitution, and the right of the public to understand the functions of government and informed petition of the government for redress.”…….

Israel’s dangerous ‘nuclear ambiguity’

The IRMEP lawsuit argues that Israel’s policy of official secrecy on its nuclear weapons program perfectly fits the definition of the 1976 Export Control Act, and that the U.S. government broke the law through its “failure to act upon facts long in their possession while prohibiting the release of official government information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, particularly ongoing illicit transfers of nuclear weapons material and technology from the U.S. to Israel.”

Smith wrote that the U.S. offers material support to Israel’s nuclear program while helping suppress information about the program. He continued:

“These violations manifest in gagging and prosecuting federal officials and contractors who publicly acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons program, imposing punitive economic costs on public interest researchers who attempt to educate the public about the functions of government, refusing to make bona fide responses to journalists and consistently failing to act on credible information available in the government and public domain.”

This policy of secrecy goes by many names, he noted. “These acts serve a policy that has many names all referring to the same subterfuge, ‘nuclear opacity,’ ‘nuclear ambiguity,’ and ‘strategic ambiguity.’”

Although long denied by both American and Israeli politicians, Israel’s nuclear program was first revealed by whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who spent 16 years in prison for sharing secret details of the program with Britain’s Sunday Times in 1986, and has been repeatedly arrested for continuing to publicly speak out.

Although the program is still not officially acknowledged, a November report by the Institute for Science and International Security suggested the Israeli government has amassed enough material to create at least 115 nuclear warheads. That would put Israel, a country roughly the size of New Jersey, on nearly equal nuclear footing with India and Pakistan…….http://www.mintpressnews.com/lawsuit-warns-234b-aid-israel-violates-us-law-supporting-secret-nuclear-states/219502/

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Israel, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Long delay in development of India’s fast breeder nuclear reactor

Fast breeder nuclear reactor delayed by 8 yrs, Deccan Herald, Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi, Apr 15 2017,   On record, the target continues to be October 2017  The Centre has set a new target schedule of mid-2018 to commission India’s first gen-next fast breeder nuclear reactor – eight years behind original schedule. Sources in the Department of Atomic Energy told Deccan Herald that the middle of 2018 was being looked at a more realistic target to put the new reactor into operation.

Once functional, the fast breeder reactor would usher in the second stage of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme as envisioned by Homi Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear programme.

Fast breeder reactors “breed” more fissile material than the fuel they consume. They burn plutonium – generated in Uranium-fueled pressured heavy water reactors and light water reactors – to breed a special type of fissile uranium known as U-233, which is used as fuel.

Anti-nuclear activists, however, are concerned on the FBR reactors for two reasons. No one is sure about its long-term commercial viability and ecological-impact in the absence of similar reactors in other nations. Secondly, it uses liquid sodium, a hazardous material as coolant.

The sodium cooling leads to a temperature of 600 degrees Celsius inside the reactor, because of which there are safety concerns.

“From the day of pouring liquid sodium into the system, we need at least five months for the FBR to generate commercial electricity,” sources said.

As per the original schedule, the project was to be commissioned in September, 2010, which was later rescheduled to September 2014.

The goalpost was against shifted to September 2016 and later on to October 2017….http://www.deccanherald.com/content/606431/fast-breeder-nuclear-reactor-delayed.html

April 19, 2017 Posted by | India, technology | Leave a comment

Survival of the richest: nuclear bunkers in high demand

  Staff writers news.com.au 19 Apr 17 FILTHY rich people who have prepared for nuclear warfare and other catastrophic disasters by investing in five-star luxury bunkers might soon move into their multi-million dollar purchases as concerns grow over a nuclear war. 

Sports stars, hedge fund managers and even tech gurus including Bill Gates are rumoured to have invested in doomsday bunkers worldwide.

The bunkers are designed to withstand a nuclear blast and ensure some of the world’s richest people don’t go without a cinema and spa facilities during the attack.

But what once seemed like an over-the-top purchase designed for the super-paranoid and filthy rich has suddenly become a more sensible concept as North Korea threatens “a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment … if the US dares opt for a military action”.

North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador Kim In Ryong told a news conference on Monday the country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.” amid increasing tension between the nations.

He said the Trump administration’s deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group to waters off the Korean Peninsula again “proves the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario”.

BUNKERS SELLING QUICKLY Sports stars, hedge fund managers and even tech gurus including Bill Gates are rumoured to have invested in doomsday bunkers worldwide.

The bunkers are designed to withstand a nuclear blast and ensure some of the world’s richest people don’t go without a cinema and spa facilities during the attack.

But what once seemed like an over-the-top purchase designed for the super-paranoid and filthy rich has suddenly become a more sensible concept as North Korea threatens “a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment … if the US dares opt for a military action”.

North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador Kim In Ryong told a news conference on Monday the country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.” amid increasing tension between the nations.

He said the Trump administration’s deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group to waters off the Korean Peninsula again “proves the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario”.

BUNKERS SELLING QUICKLY…..more http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/design/survival-of-the-richest-nuclear-bunkers-in-high-demand/news-story/05fa82889c6585ff524a3ea04425fd18

April 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Solar power taking over in First Nation Above the Arctic Circle

Meet the First Nation Above the Arctic Circle That Just Went Solar https://www.desmog.ca/2017/03/28/meet-first-nation-above-arctic-circle-just-went-solar  By Matt Jacques • Tuesday, March 28, 2017 Across Canada’s north, diesel has long been the primary mode of providing year-round electricity to remote communities — but with the advent of small-scale renewables, that’s about to change.

Northern communities were already making strides toward a renewable energy future, but with $400 million committed in this year’s federal budget to establish an 11-year Arctic Energy Fund, energy security in the north has moved firmly into the spotlight.

This level of support shows positive commitment from the Canadian government on ending fossil fuel dependency in Indigenous communities and transitioning these communities to clean energy systems,” said Dave Lovekin, a senior advisor at the Pembina Institute.

Burning diesel not only pollutes the atmosphere, but getting it into remote communities is often inefficient in and of itself: it’s delivered by truck, barge or, sometimes when the weather doesn’t cooperate, by plane.

There are more than 170 remote indigenous communities in Canada still relying almost completely upon diesel for their electricity needs.

But, for some, at least, that’s beginning to change. Take the community of Old Crow (Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation), above the Arctic circle in the Yukon.

Despite its northern latitude, and near total darkness between December and February, a 2014 Government of Yukon pilot study demonstrated that solar represents a major untapped renewable resource for the community. Now Old Crow has a number of small-scale solar panel installations, including an 11.8 kilowatt array at the Arctic Research Centre — but its sights are set higher. Plans for a 330 kilowatt solar plant are well underway. A 2016 feasibility study estimated that this large-scale installation could offset 17 per cent of the community’s total diesel use, or up to 98,000 litres of fuel each year.

Anything that affects our community, we want to have control over. That’s our goal with this project is to have ownership over the facility,” said William Josie, director of Natural Resources for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation. “We burn a lot of fuel up here per capita and we’re trying to reduce that.”

Josie said his community is excited to build further solar capacity.

This has been in the works for a long time, and it’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s the first solar project of this size in the Yukon with community ownership.”

The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation has a self-governing final agreement in place with the Government of Canada, the Government of the Yukon and the Council of Yukon First Nations. So too does the Kluane (Burwash Landing/Destruction Bay) First Nation in the southwestern Yukon, which is taking another approach to delivering a similar level of renewable energy capacity.

A major $2.4 million wind power generation project is set to be installed in 2018. Three refurbished 95 kilowatt turbines will deliver just under 300 kilowatts of total power and are estimated to offset 21 per cent of the community’s total diesel use.

One of the big things for the community is to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Diesel is neither of those two,” explains Colin Asseltine, general manager of the Kluane Community Development Corporation. “We’re looking at what we can possibly do to reduce our carbon footprint and move off-grid.”

The wind project will expand on the earlier successes in the community. Since 1998, Burwash Landing has used biomass for district heating, and began selling solar power back into the grid not long after installing a 48 kilowatt array in 2003. Along the way, they have been collecting the data required to inform the next steps and increase the impact of the community’s investment in renewable energy.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, decentralised | Leave a comment