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May 19 Energy News



¶ “There’s an Elephant in the Room, and It Smells Like Natural Gas” • All the commentary reiterating the inevitability of coal’s decline and cheering the strength of renewables’ rise was right in facts, but incomplete in message: Coal is closing. Renewables are rising. But we really need to be talking about natural gas. [Union of Concerned Scientists]

Natural gas pipeline

Science and Technology:

¶ In a new perspective on carbon removal published in the journal Science, researchers at Stanford explain the risks of assuming carbon removal technologies can be deployed at a massive scale relatively quickly with low costs and limited side effects. They said the assumption is a gamble with the future of the planet at stake. [Stanford University News]

¶ Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent’s northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate…

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2017/05/17 Japanese Nuclear Reactor Restarts Despite Unresolved Safety Issues

Mining Awareness +

It is mind-boggling that there would be any nuclear restarts in Japan even as the Fukushima nuclear disaster is ongoing. Takahama is located on the quasi enclosed Sea of Japan.

2017/05/17 Japanese nuclear reactor restarts with unresolved safety issues
プレスリリース – 2017-05-17
Tokyo, 17 May 2017 – Today the Takahama 4 nuclear reactor in Fukui Prefecture was restarted, despite significant unresolved safety issues that place millions at undue risk. The restart comes after an injunction barring the operation of the Takahama 3 & 4 reactors was overturned by the notoriously nuclear-friendly higher court in March 2017. The restart of Takahama 3 is anticipated in the beginning of June.

“The fact that the reactor that restarted today has twice been barred from operation by the lower courts due to outstanding safety issues highlights the significance of the problems at the site. While the injunctions were overturned, as was…

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia to join in developing Generation IV nuclear reactors, WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC DISCUSSION??

Nuclear Australia

Submission to:  Inquiry: The Generation IV Nuclear Energy – Noel Wauchope, 24 April 2017

First of all, I find it very strange that this agreement has been signed up to in advance, not by any elected representative of the Australian Parliament, but by Dr Adi Patterson CEO of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, apparently pre-empting the results of this Inquiry!

I find it disturbing that this Inquiry is being held without any public information or discussion. Are we to assume that the decision to join this “Charter” is being taken without prior public knowledge?

It is a pretty momentous decision. According to the World Nuclear Association the 2005 Framework agreement “formally commits them (signatories) to participate in the development of one or more Generation IV systems selected by GIF for further R&D.”

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 currently prohibits the development of nuclear power in…

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May 19, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology | Leave a comment

Ministry shows plan to recycle radioactive soil in Fukushima

Minamisoma 18 may 2017.jpg

The Environment Ministry demonstrates an experiment on recycling contaminated soil, shown in black in the center, in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 17.

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–In an apparent attempt to quell fears, the Environment Ministry on May 17 showed how it will recycle radioactive soil in construction projects to reduce the growing piles of widely abhorred contaminated debris.

In the demonstration to media representatives here, the ministry measured radioactivity levels of bags of soil collected in decontamination work around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and sorted the earth from other garbage.

Using soil with readings up to 3,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, the ministry plans to create a 5-meter-tall mound measuring 20 meters by 80 meters. Such mounds could be used, for example, as foundations for seawalls and roads in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere.

Testing of the methods started on April 24.

After confirming the safety, the ministry wants to promote the use of the recycled soil.

Radioactive debris from the cleanup around the nuclear plant will be stored at interim facilities to be built in Futaba and Okuma, the two towns that host the nuclear plant. The government seeks to move the contaminated debris outside the prefecture for final disposal by 2045.

The government had a difficult time finding municipalities willing to take in the radioactive soil on an interim basis. And safety concerns have already been raised about the ministry’s plan to recycle the radioactive soil.

The cleanup has already collected about 16 million cubic meters of contaminated soil.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Anger as Fukushima to host Olympic events during Tokyo 2020 Games


An environmental activist wearing a gas mask takes part in a recent demonstration to mark the 6th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

The decision to hold baseball and softball matches in the city of Fukushima as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been criticised as a cynical manoeuvre by the Japanese government to convince the world that the 2011 nuclear crisis is over.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announced on Friday that the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium will host softball and baseball matches during the Games.

Venues in Tokyo will host the majority of the sporting events, which will take place six years after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off Tohoku, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and the melt-down of three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which is less than 50 miles from Fukushima City.

In a statement, the committee said it believes that “the hosting of events in Fukushima will support recovery efforts in the overall Tohoku region.

“Matches played in the Tohoku region will be further evidence of Tokyo 2020’s commitment to bring sporting events to the recovering areas and will demonstrate the power of sport”, it added.

The statement makes no mention of ongoing efforts at the Fukushima plant to bring the reactors under control and recover the nuclear fuel that has escaped from containment vessels. Authorities estimate it will take 40 years for the site to be rendered safe.

Work is also continuing to decontaminate areas that were beneath the nuclear plume immediately after the accident. According to government figures, around 120,000 people are still not able to return to their homes because of the disaster.

“It’s fine for athletes and spectators to go to Fukushima for a couple of days to compete, but the Japanese government is using this to claim that everything is back to normal and that he evacuees should go back to their homes”, said Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan.

“It’s unconscionable”, she told The Telegraph. “To tell people that because the Games are being held in Fukushima that it is perfectly safe for people to go back to their homes, for farmers to go back into their fields, for children to play in the open air is just wrong”.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Radiation Checks After Fire


Japan’s Forestry Agency is checking for the possible spread of radioactive contamination following a forest fire near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The fire started at the end of April and raged for almost 2 weeks. It destroyed 75 hectares in the area designated a no-go zone due to high radiation.

Officials and forest fire experts are inspecting the site looking for changes in radiation levels and the potential for landslides that could spread radioactive substances.

Fukushima Prefecture officials say they have not detected any major changes in radiation levels so far.

Inspections will continue for another day. The agency will publicize the results by the end of next month.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 2 Comments

Government Reporting on Nuclear Risks: Examining the Recent Forest Fires in Fukushima No-Go Zone


The forest fires in the exclusion zone in Fukushima, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP), were extinguished on May 10 after having burnt 75 hectares in 12 days, spreading from Namie to Futaba.

The wildfires raised a number of questions about the radiation related health hazards and the ways the information was treated by the Fukushima prefectural government and the mass media.

Fukushima prefecture maintained the attitude of under-evaluating the possible impact of the fire in regard to the dispersion of radioactive substances. Major media transmitted the Fukushima government’s official comments, and an exceptional local newspaper, Kii Minpo (Wakayama prefecture), had to apologize after having received complaints and criticism for its column alerting the local population to the dispersion of radioactive substances by the fire, and saying that the government as well as the national newspapers are too dismissive of the radioactive dispersal problem.

However, when it comes to the news source, the only one on which mass media as well as social media can rely for the moment is the radiation measurement results published by Fukushima Prefecture.

Before the results of the measurements by civil groups come out, they are the only values we have. But then, these results are accompanied by comments of the Fukushima prefecture. So there are measurements, but there is also their evaluation.

We will go through both of them to shed light on the facts but also on the government’s attitude to minimize or even ignore or deny the health hazard risks related to this fire which, if recognized, would question the lifting of the evacuation order, which authorizes the return of the population in the neighboring areas. This questioning would be very inconvenient for both the central and the local governments.

The relevant data in this kind of situation is the measurement of radioactive nuclides contained in the dust in the air. This is precisely what Fukushima prefecture published right after the breakout of the fire.

Nonetheless, this information is preceded by the airborne radiation dose measurement with the comment: “there is no change in the radiation dose” (see Graph 1&2, Table 1 of the picture below). This has certainly a strong effect to ease the worry of the population, and most of the media transmit the message that “there is no change in the radiation dose.”  This comment hides the fact of significant changes in the contamination levels in the dust in the air seen in the last table, which isn’t accompanied by a graph which would more clearly show the changes.

However, in the context of environmental radio-contamination, where the internal irradiation risk has to be taken into account, looking only at the airborne radiation dose can be fatally misleading, as it is only  a measurement to decide if you need to protect yourself against external radiation.  But even TEPCO itself established its workers’ radioprotection policy based on the view that both external and internal radiation protections are necessary. On this point, please see our article “Forest fire in the exclusion zone in Fukushima: Why monitoring the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection”, and in particular the table showing 12 zones which necessitate corresponding radioprotection methods.  The 12 zones are defined by the combination of the different levels of both airborne radiation dose, in Sieverts/time, and the environmental contamination density in Becquerels (surfaces: Bq/cm2 and air: Bq/cm3).

Keeping this in mind, and also the fact that only Cesium 134 and 137 have been measured, let’s look at the change of the values (see images below of Info May 12, page 3) as well as the map of the monitoring stations in relation to the fire site (idem, page 4, the site being the big red circle).
We clearly see the increase in measurement values at 3 stations (#5, 6, 7) on May 8 and May 11.



However, as we have mentioned above, this table appears in page 3, after the data in the pages 1 and 2 which show the stability of the values. Of the above 4 tables and graphs only the last table shows significant increases in radioactive dust in the air.  And there is no graph for the last table.  Is that because it would clearly show great changes?  The way in which data are presented can influence how you respond to a crisis.

What are the comments of Fukushima prefecture accompanying the results? The following may be a tedious process, but please be patient so that you can judge for yourself the Fukushima government’s attitude toward secondary dispersal of radioactive elements, which is revealed through these comments.
We will start with the comments of May 5.
Bold letter format, for emphasis, was added by the translator.

According to the measurement results of the survey meters near Mount Jyuman, the scene of the fire, no change has been noted compared to the result of the day before (table 1).
As for the airborne radiation dose measurements,
no change has been noted compared to the measurements of before the fire (Graph 1).
The measurement results of the dust in the air near the Mount Jyuman were between ND and 1.97mBq/m3 (table 2). The measures of the
Yasuragi so (Elderly people’s home Yasuragi) in Namie and those of Ishikuma Community Center increased, but as the data are still scarce, we will continue to monitor the change as well as that of the airborne radiation dose.
As for the measurement values of the dust in the air by the monitoring posts installed by the prefecture (Translator’s note: since before the fire),
no change in values has been noted in relation to those of before the fire.”

Here is the comment of May 9.

Since May 5 portable monitoring posts have been installed at three places near Mount Jyuman, the site of the fire, and we measure those daily. Their results as well as the measurement results of the pre-existing survey meters do not show any change compared to those of the day before (Graph 1, Table 1).

The results of the measurement of the airborne radiation dose by the monitoring posts installed near the fire scene since before the fire do not show any significant change compared to values of before the fire (Graph 2).

On the other hand, the results of the measurement of Cs 137 in the dust in the air near the Mount Jyuman are between 1.35 and 7.63mBq/m3. We are not able to judge the cause for the moment, but in addition to the penetration of the fire to the sedimentary layer of fallen leaves, which is the peculiarity of this wildfire, strong winds of the west which interfered with the operation of the helicopter, was observed throughout the day, so the influence of the upheaval of the dust and the incineration ash in the vicinity of the measurement point cannot be denied.”

Finally, the comment of May 12.

Yesterday (May 11), the measurement results of the dust in the air were between 0.80 and 15.55mBq/m3. (The maximum value before was that of May 8: 7.63mBq/m3). We are not able to judge the cause for the moment. With these data and the coming results of the survey conducted by the Forestry Agency, we will evaluate the influence to the surrounding area, taking into account experts’ opinions. As for the dust monitor installed with the pre-existing monitoring post since before the fire, no difference in the measurements is noted.

(For information)
The internal irradiation dose would be 0,0063 mSv/year if one inhales continuously the air containing 20mBq/m3 of Cs 137. This value corresponds to about 1/100 of 0,48 mSv/year* which is the internal irradiation dose due to the inhalation of radioactive substances existing in the natural environment. The value is sufficiently small.
*source: “The new edition of Daily Life Environmental Radiation (Radiation calculation of the national population) (Japan Nuclear Safety Research Association, December, 2011″

(end quote)

When we look at the wording, it is clear that the Fukushima prefecture consistently tries to deny the dispersion of radioactive materials and convey the information to minimize the risk of health damage without even mentionning the word “health”. With the quite spectacular increase to 15.55mBq/m3, no mention is made of a possible health hazard risk.
The last comment about the internal irradiation is added to reassure the population that there is minimal radiation risk due to the forest fires. Is this so ?

Let’s now look at two points to question these comments from the prefecture and the attitudes that they imply.

  1. Are the measurements significantly higher than those of before the fire ? Or is the increase insignificant?
  2. Are the radioactive substances in the ground likely to become airborne because of the fire and after the fire?

We will refer to two sources here. For the first point, we refer to the comments of M. Yoichi Ozawa of Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project, published in his FB page of May 10. For the second we will turn to the article by Shun Kirishima published in Syu Pre News on May 14.

Yoichi Ozawa’s comments:

According to the MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), the average amount of Cs137 measured throughout Japan on 2010, that is to say before the accident of the FDNPP, was 0.00012 mBq/m3.
(Translator’s note: The report of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of 2010,
Collection of articles of the 53rd research and study on the environmental radioactivity, p.20) (in Japanese).


The value of 7.63 mBq/m3 (Translator’s Note : the maximum value of May 8. The maximum value increased thereafter) measured this time during the forest fire in Namie is 63,583 times higher in relation to the above average value of the year 2010.

Another piece of data we can refer to comes from Kôhô Minamisoma (Newsletters from Minamisoma) which reports the measurement values of the dust in the air of the last two weeks of March 2017. Minamisoma city is located in the north of Namie. According to these data, the maximum value is 0.053 mBq/m3, and the average value is 0.021 mBq/m3. Even this average value is 100 times higher compared to the value of before the Fukushima Daiichi accident. This is already significantly high for health hazards.

The measurement values related to the forest fires in Namie are 10 – 100 times higher than the values of Minamisoma of March 2017, and several 10,000 times higher compared to those before the FDNPP accident.

The extinction of the fire does not mean that we are secure. When the air gets dry, the radioactive particles can become airborne and cause internal irradiation when ingested. Furthermore, the values cited above are only those of gamma rays of Cesium. We know that there are radioactive nuclides emitting alpha and beta rays. The internal irradiation of these radioactive nuclides is very dangerous.
(end quote)

Now let’s have a look of the article of Kirishima on the possibility of the scattering of the radioactive materials.

Extract :

In fact, was there no risk of radioactive material scattering with this wildfire? Professor Susumu Ogawa of the Nagasaki University Graduate School of Engineering says, “Cesium is definitely flying.”

The fire site is such a contaminated area that people cannot live there. It seems that the leaves and soils under the trees were absorbed in large quantities of cesium. If there is a fire, since the melting point of cesium is 28°C, it becomes a gas by heat, and it is dispersed in the sky. Then, it is cooled and is blown in the wind like pollen while becoming a particle shape. How far it scatters after that depends on the wind speed and direction. If a strong west wind blows, it will fly to the Pacific Ocean, but the nearby settlements will be contaminated if the wind is weaker. “

In addition, Professor Hiroshi Okochi of the Waseda University Science and Engineering Institute points out the example of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Two years ago, in 2015, a large-scale fire occurred in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and it is known that Cesium 137 was detected 10 times more than the reference value from the nearby monitoring post. Similarly, though we cannot know exactly before an investigation, there is the possibility of the scattering of radioactive materials in the forest areas in Fukushima also.”

Professor Okochi’s research group will begin an investigation near the fire site in Fukushima prefecture soon. It can be verified that radioactive scattering has occurred if the analysis of the dust taken from the air shows that it contains a particle named levoglucosan, which is generated when the plant is thermally decomposed with Cesium.

If the cesium is flying, the concern is how far it is dispersed and its effect on the human body.

According to the Fukushima prefecture, “the amount of cesium dust obtained by the measurement near the site is up to 7.63mBq/m3. This is a level that has almost no effect on health (Radiation management section)”. A milli Bq is 1/1000 of a Bq. The Prefecture’s stance is that there is no need to worry because it is a negligible amount. This implies that the Fukushima prefectural government would not take any particular action nor caution the surrounding residents.

On the other hand, Professor Ogawa points out that it is dangerous to judge only by the measurements of three monitoring emplacements.

We cannot say definitely that ‘there is no fear of irradiation’, when we consider that a great amount of cesium can pour into a small place in a short period of time, as in the case of a hotspot. The same can be said for the evaluation saying that there is no scattering because there is no change in the values of the monitoring post. People living downwind should be careful. “

A strong wind blows often from the west to the east in Fukushima prefecture blowing over the Ohu mountain range. At five kilometers to the northeast from Mount Jyuman, there are areas in Namie where the evacuation orders were lifted, and people are living there.
(end quote)

So the measurements that are known already at this point are much higher compared to the values of the average of 34 prefectures before the nuclear accident, or those of the vicinity before the fires, and it is very probable that cesium is scattered by the fire.

The way that Fukushima prefecture presents the measurement data deliberately emphasizes the airborne radiation dose and its stability, hiding the fact that the measurements of radioactive dust in the air show strong variation. It also conveys the implicit message that if the airborne radiation dose is stable, in terms of Sieverts, there is no need to worry. However, as we have seen above, we have to take into account the environmental contamination also measured in terms of Bequerels. Since the FDNPP accident, the myth of security (that there can’t be any accident) seems to be replaced by a myth of Sieverts, which hides the risk of internal irradiation, while erasing the problems of hotspots and hot particles in the air.

Opening the area for its population to return to be exposed to such risks and furthermore without informing them about the risks and the measures to protect themselves can hardly be justified. It can be endangering many people.


Read more

Fire crews finally extinguish Fukushima blaze in no-go zone as officials battle radiation rumors, Japan Times, May 11, 2017

Taminokoe Shimbun  民の声新聞 (in Japanese), articles of May 2, 4, 8, 10, 12 and 16. The article of May 2 is published in our blog in English. (Wildfires in Namie, Fukushima 311 Voices, May 2, 2017)

Wildfires in Fukushima: reliable data or disinformation?, Fukushima 311 Voices, May 7, 2017

12日間もの長い間燃え続けた、福島県浪江町の山火事を巡る、報道と市民の態度について考えたこと (in Japanese), May 12, 2017


May 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear, climate, news for the past week

The English language news media hops about from one theme to another. While the nuclear crisis about North Korea seems to continue- the focus has shifted to the USA’s President’s credibility problem. Well, as long as he’s the focus, I guess that Donald Trump is happy, anyway.

Meanwhile the present drama about the computer hacking of hospitals and businesses has taken on a more sinister aspect. People now realise that  computer hacking could affect nuclear power stations , even perhaps nuclear military sites.

A new twist to this subject is the realisation that “cyber warfare” – to paralyse a country’s computer systems, could become a more satisfactory way for an enemy to attack, rather than use nuclear weapons. Analysts now consider North Korea as potentially able to use this method.

Investigative journalism lives:  Close to Norway – Russia’s secret nuclear weapons build-up, and waste dumps

Next generation nuclear power is unlikely to save the industry from bankruptcy. The nuclear industry in financial meltdown

CLIMATE. April of 2017 was the Second Hottest in 137 Year Climate Record.   Severe coastal floods set to double in number, as sea levels rise. 19 May Climate News. Climate change could kill off all coral reefs by 2050.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Lego goes for 100% renewables.   World’s biggest wind turbines now generating power off UK coast.


INDIA. India diverts ‘peaceful’ nuclear materials to weapons development. India plans to build 10 nuclear reactors. India’s secret radioactive horror story – Jadugoda.

UK. British Labour Party supports renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, disappoints many voters. NuGen’s Moorside nuclear project in limbo – unstable and unsustainable. Britain’s new nuclear danger: cyber security attacksScottish Renewables publishes manifesto for 2017 UK General Election.

SOUTH KOREA. Global nuclear lobby very upset at election of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. Nuclear power in South Korea is forcefully opposed by Catholics.

SOUTH AFRICASouth Africa’s formidable anti nuclear women ready to take on the government again. South African government still determined to sign new nuclear power agreements. No costing for South Africa’s nuclear build programme,

USA. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged to pull the plug on nuclear bailout, as lawmakers work against it. Inadequate radiation shielding for USA workers handling highly radioactive liquid waste from Canada. USA signs up to Arctic agreement for action on climate change.

GUAM. America neglects Guam atomic test victims – hopes they all die?

JAPAN. Japan restarts another reactor. Mayors near Hamaoka nuclear plant say wider consensus needed for reactor restarts. In Fukushima, a land where few return. Fire crews finally extinguish Fukushima blaze in no-go zone as officials battle “radiation rumors”.  Families do not want to return to polluted Fukushima areas.  Diet Bill requires Tepco to create fund for Decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi.

SWITZERLANDSwitzerland to vote on promoting renewables and banning nuclear power.

CANADA. Scathing criticism of Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies

TAIWAN. Chang Hsien-yi, the Taiwanese scientist who tried to save his country from nuclear war.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Cyber war a more likely threat than nuclear war? North Korea has expertise in this

With the attention of the United States and its allies at present focused on North Korea’s nuclear activity, North Korea potentially has greater latitude to act aggressively in the cyber realm, especially against the private sector. 

North Korea, Iran, and the Challenges of Dealing With Cyber-Capable Nuclear States Luke McNamara, May 18, 2017 North Korea’s successful missile launch last Sunday has further sharpened the world’s focus on the country’s growing nuclear capabilities. But in remarks last month, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly commented that North Korea poses a more likely cyber threat than it does a nuclear concern.

While years of sanctions have isolated the Hermit Kingdom from much of the global financial system, North Korea may be seeking to fund the state’s coffers through a widespread cyber-crime campaign. It appears that its ability to do so may be enhanced, rather than hampered, by the increased attention that is paid to its accelerating nuclear program.

In early 2016, multiple South Korean security vendors who provide services to the country’s financial sector were targeted with malware in a campaign that also affected aerospace and defense. More notably last year, an intrusion at an Asian bank eventually revealed a manipulation of international systems and a loss of over $81 million dollars. Several months after that, similar activity was uncovered targeting the Financial Supervision Authority of Poland, where North Korea has an embassy that likely could have supplied cyber threat operators with Polish-language operational support. We now strongly suspect that this activity is linked to North Korean state-sponsored cyber espionage actors.

For close observers of North Korea’s capabilities, state-sponsored espionage actors carrying out financial theft should not come wholly as a surprise. To augment the little trade it is able to carry out under sanctions, North Korea has relied upon a government department, Office 39, to generate hard currency through everything from counterfeiting to weapons sales and other illicit activity, all for the financial benefit of the state and Kim regime. Given Office 39’s mission and North Korea’s need to fund (among other things) its nuclear weapons program, it is quite likely that this activity is as much for financial gain as it is for the destabilizing affect it has on the global financial system North Korea is mostly isolated from.

Even if these cyber-enabled thefts were opportunistic in the past, there may be reason to believe that more coordinated and intentional campaigns could surface in the near future. If the US successfully convinces China to apply pressure to North Korea—especially by reducing its economic relationship and following suit with India, which recently suspended most of their trade relationships—Pyongyang would be left with few options to compensate for lost income that it could ramp up as quickly as cybercrime.

Though large-scale heists might be North Korea’s preference, they could also leverage the increasingly professionalized and growing ransomware space to accomplish the same ends. Researchers have already noted potential North Korean ties to the recent WannaCry ransomware campaign that has affected hospitals and other organizations across Europe. While the financial gain netted from this activity—to date—seems to be minimal in relation to the affect it has been able to unleash, regardless of the responsible actors, it has likely served as an important proof of concept for future operations. A potentially riskier tactic they could employ from the cyber crime playbook would be the theft and public sale of data from international organizations, similar to the Shadow Brokers’ sale of reported NSA tools and Cuba’s traditional use of state-backed spies to sell purloined intelligence. While the motivations of the Shadow Brokers may be less aligned with financial gain, North Korea would be just as interested in this as the political impact of doxing a rival’s intrusion tools.

Beyond North Korea, this could also demonstrate a greater principle in how nuclear-armed and cyber-equipped states employ the latter capability in less-than-war situations, as Iran is currently doing. In late 2016 through early 2017, suspected Iranian wiper malware Shamoon returned in a campaign against Saudi Arabia, while a similar tool named Shapeshift (or StoneDrill) was discovered also targeting the petrochemical sector in the same country. By targeting a key US ally through show-of-force campaigns, Iran has signaled a willingness to employ destructive capabilities outside periods of heightened conflict. Without doubt, this will influence to some extent future negotiations over its weapons program. An Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon—while possessing destructive cyber capabilities—presents two security challenges to deal with and increases the country’s bargaining position in future negotiations. The upcoming elections in Iran this week may further serve as an inflection point that will better illuminate how these issues evolve.

In a domain of still-emerging norms, where responsible actors are seeking the most appropriate and proportional means of response, actors willing to employ cyber in novel and aggressive ways will likely continue to create space from which to negotiate and maneuver. A North Korea capable of delivering nuclear-armed ICBMs is certainly a nightmare scenario, but we should not lose sight of how Pyongyang may exploit those fears to its advantage in cyberspace. With the attention of the United States and its allies at present focused on North Korea’s nuclear activity, North Korea potentially has greater latitude to act aggressively in the cyber realm, especially against the private sector.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | 2 Comments

France’s new Prime Minister says France needs ‘massive’ renewables growth

France needs ‘massive’ renewables growth, nuclear not only energy solution, says PM May 18 France needs “massive and rapid” growth in renewable energy capacity and nuclear power is not the country’s only energy solution, new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday.

Philippe, who was appointed by newly inaugurated President Emmanuel Macron, used to work as head of public affairs for state nuclear energy group Areva, parts of which are set to be absorbed by EDF, the state power utility which operates the nation’s ageing nuclear power station fleet.

On Wednesday, Macron appointed environmentalist Nicolas Hulot as his environment minister with responsibility for energy matters – a move that hit EDF’s share price.

Nuclear power accounts for about three-quarters of French power generation at present.

France needs “to reach the objectives set out by the President,” Philippe said on France Inter radio. “That means an approach founded on the secure base of nuclear and a rapid, massive and visible development of renewables,” he added.

Philippe also said the government would take a “pragmatic” approach regarding France’s future energy and power supplies. (Reporting by Andrew Callus and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

Greenpeace’s lawsuit against French state aid for Hinkley Nuclear plant – upsetting for UK and French govts

Times 18th May 2017, Britain’s new £18 billion nuclear power plant is being funded by illegal French state aid, according to a lawsuit filed by Greenpeace. The environmental group is urging the European Commission to order EDF, the French state-owned energy giant that is building the plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, to repay the 6.8 billion euros it received from the French

The lawsuit is also a shot across the bows of Theresa May, who approved plans for Hinkley Point C last autumn, and President Macron of France, who organised the bailout of EDF when he was economy minister. At the time, EDF was struggling with debts of more than 37 billion and a requirement to find more than 50 billion to renovate its French reactors.

Critics, including the group’s own financial director, said that it could not afford its two-thirds share of the investment in Hinkley Point.

Greenpeace claims that the deal amounts to unfair state aid. “Instead of acting like a smart investor, the state is providing unconditional support to EDF and its nuclear projects that threaten the health of the company, notably Hinkley Point.

“There is no economic logic,”Laura Monnier, of Greenpeace France, said. “Greenpeace’s lawsuit aims to show that EDF’scapital increase is incompatible with European competition law.” The environmental organisation said that EDF had been wrong to invest in Hinkley Point “when it does not have the funds to invest in the maintenance and safety of its French nuclear fleet”.

Greenpeace’s lawsuit is unlikely to halt the Hinkley Point project, but it adds to the controversy over the scheme on both sides of the Channel.Shares in EDF slumped yesterday after the appointment of Nicolas Hulot, 62, France’s best known environmental campaigner, as minister of ecology and solidarity in Mr Macron’s government. Investors fear that Mr Hulot will press EDF to reduce its dependence on nuclear power and to pump funds into the development of renewable energy.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

India diverts ‘peaceful’ nuclear materials to weapons development

India Has Been Diverting Nuclear Materials to Make Weapons: Pakistan News .com May 18, 2017, Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday alleged that India has been diverting nuclear materials it had obtained for peaceful purposes under the NSG waiver to make weapons.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters that Pakistan has been underscoring for decades the risks of diversion by India of imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology, received pursuant to civil nuclear cooperation agreements and the 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver.

“The concerns over diversion are neither new nor unfounded. India enjoys the rare distinction of diverting nuclear material, obtained on its peaceful use commitment, to its nuclear weapons programme,” he said.

“The past and potential misuse of nuclear materials by India entails not only serious issues of nuclear proliferation but also carry grave implications for strategic stability in South Asia and national security of Pakistan.”

He said media reports and papers substantiate an otherwise largely “ignored fact” that India’s nuclear weapons programme is the fastest growing in the world.

Talking about a paper recently released by Harvard Kennedy School, he said that this paper and other several reports corroborate growing concerns related to the use of nuclear material acquired by India from abroad in its existing and future unsafeguarded nuclear reactors, plants and facilities for development of nuclear weapons.

“The recent Belfer paper inter alia concludes that India has accumulated nuclear material for over 2600 nuclear weapons,” he said.

He said that NSG states have a responsibility to take into account these well-founded concerns while considering transfer of nuclear material to India and its NSG membership bid.

 He claimed that many international nuclear experts, think tanks and media reports in the past years have consistently raised concerns over the lack of transparency, absence of international safeguards, and the potential for diversion of unsafeguarded nuclear material for nuclear weapons in India…….

May 19, 2017 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British Labour Party supports renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent, disappoints many voters

CND 17th May 2017 The Labour Party manifesto has now been published. Its policy on nuclear weapons states: Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. As a nuclear-armed power, our country has a responsibility to fulfil our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Labour will lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to
create a nuclear-free world.

This will come as a huge disappointment to many voters and CND supporters. Labour’s policy on nuclear weapons is in
accordance with the status quo, representing no change from what has gone before. At a time when a majority of countries are supporting a fresh initiative at the UN to negotiate a nuclear ban treaty, it is very disappointing that the Labour Party has made no reference to engaging with this process. There is a glimmer of hope from Labour’s planned Strategic
Defence and Security Review.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

The hypocrisy of owning nuclear weapons

 Jordan Times, Jonathan Power, May 18,2017 During the French presidential election, no candidate talked about France’s nuclear weapons.

In Britain, the subject has been raised in its election in an attempt to undermine the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.But the long-time anti-bomb activist compromised his views, saying in effect he was against them but Labour Party policy was for them.

Meanwhile, the Western nations worry and rage about North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

There is a lack of principle and honesty as well as an overdose of self-delusion as to their effectiveness as a deterrent in this whole bomb game.

We were standing in Hiroshima looking at a stone wall. All there was to see was the shadow of a man. It had been etched into the wall at the moment of his obliteration by the blinding light of the first atomic bomb.

Olof Palme, then prime minister of Sweden, stared hard at it. An hour later he had to give a speech as head of the Independent Commission on Disarmament of which I was a member.  “My fear,” he remarked, “is that mankind itself will end up as nothing more than a shadow on a wall.”

Charles de Gaulle once observed: “After a nuclear war the two sides would have neither powers, nor laws, nor cities, nor cultures, nor cradles, nor tombs.”

Nikita Khrushchev, who presided over the Soviet Union in the days of the Cuban missile crisis, later wrote: “When I learned all the facts about nuclear power I couldn’t sleep for several days.” And one of his successors, Mikhail Gorbachev, once recounted how during training to use his “nuclear suitcase”, he never pretended to give the order to fire.

Yet, against this sense and sensibility is arrayed popular inertia on one side and an extraordinarily deeply embedded culture of nuclear deterrence on the other.

As former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt analysed it, “there is an enormous body of vested interests not only through lobbying in Washington and Moscow but through influence on intellectuals, on people who write books and articles in newspapers and do features on television”.

And, in a shrewd afterthought, he added: “It’s very difficult as a reader or as a consumer of TV to distinguish by one’s own judgment what is led by these interests and what is led by rational conclusion.”

There are two main issues — moral and political — in any discussion on nuclear weapons………..

The title of Herman Kahn’s book on Cold War nuclear strategy, “Thinking the unthinkable”, captured the dilemma perfectly: that it is unthinkable to imagine the wholesale slaughter of societies, yet at the same time it appears necessary to do so, in the hope that you hit upon some formulation of deterrence that will preclude the act.

But then, in the process, you may wind up amassing forces that engender the very outcome you hope to avoid.

It is time not just to rant about North Korea’s bomb but to get on with disarmament in the West and Russia, even taking unilateral moves.

After all, that was the pledge they made in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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

Donald Trump in particular, should NOT have sole the authority to use nuclear weapons

No president — especially Trump — should have sole the authority to use nuclear weapons Diane Russell, May 18, 2017 When I was 8 years old, another rural Maine girl just two years older than me made international headlines when she had the audacity to write the Soviet premier and ask him if he was going to go to war against the United States. When her letter went around the world, Maine’s “fearless girl,” Samantha Smith, created space for world leaders to negotiate a de-escalation of the Cold War. The courage she showed resulted in three decades of nuclear arms control with what is now Russia, including treaties to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump’s erratic behavior, Twitter tirades and general instability has followed him off the campaign trail and into the White House, jeopardizing the relative progress we have made to reduce the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Despite the U.S. intelligence community’s reports that Russia interfered in the election to swing it in Trump’s favor, tensions between these two nuclear-armed nations remain worryingly high. Moreover, Trump’s rhetoric and posturing toward North Korea are increasing the risk of nuclear conflict on the Korean peninsula. A war with North Korea would be catastrophic.

With that in mind, Maine’s own Stephen King recently sent out a pointed tweet: “That this guy has his finger on the nuclear trigger is worse than any horror story I ever wrote.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Trump’s sole control of the United States nuclear arsenal is worse than any nightmare King could turn into a novel. But the real danger lies in the fact he can launch thousands of our nuclear weapons within the time it takes to order a cup of coffee — and there are no checks and balances in place stop him.

The framers of our Constitution purposefully gave the legislative branch of government the power to declare war because, as James Madison put it, the executive was not “ safely to be trusted with it.” American democracy is built on a system of checks and balances, ensuring that no one entity retains absolute power. But in a shocking disregard for this principle, ultimate authority over whether nuclear weapons are used rests solely with the president.

It takes approximately five minutes to launch a nuclear weapon. Once the president gives the order to launch, the Pentagon and everyone down the chain of command must comply with the commander-in-chief’s directive. Short of disobeying a direct order or an outright coup, no mechanism exists as a stopgap on this power.

This is, at its core, completely undemocratic. The decision to use nuclear weapons should be undertaken only with the utmost caution and not left up to any single individual, let alone one so erratic.

Growing alarm over this very real possibility isn’t isolated, and it isn’t occurring in a vacuum. Earlier this month, former nuclear commanders around the world launched a crisis group to serve as a “shadow security council” in order to advise world leaders in reducing the growing danger of a nuclear conflict. In January, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock, which signals how close humanity is to destruction, closer to midnight. And former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, who oversaw the U.S. nuclear arsenal for decades and played a supporting role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, continues expressing his alarm over the skyrocketing risks of a nuclear exchange.

Several members of Congress also have taken note of the great power that is vested in the executive branch when it comes to nuclear weapons. In February, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would prevent any president from launching nuclear weapon in a pre-emptive first strike without congressional authorization. The legislations is backed by at least 500,000 Americans who signed a petition calling on all members of Congress to co-sponsor it.

We have an opportunity to write a new page in the American history books for the courage of Maine leaders in reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. Let Stephen King write the horror stories. If U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King co-sponsor this common-sense legislation, they would be acting to uphold Samantha Smith’s legacy of preventing nuclear war.

Diane Russell served eight years in the Maine House of Representatives. She currently serves as the national security political director at Women’s Action for New Directions. Follow her on Twitter: @MissWrite.

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