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June 2 Energy News


Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement:

¶ “China likely to lead climate initiatives as Trump quits global pact” • It’s not hard to imagine Chinese president Xi Jinping having a wry smile at both the decision by Donald Trump to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord and the global reaction. Xi is now free to accept the mantle of global leadership on climate action. [The Rakyat Post]

Mythology peddler Donald Trump (Credit: Reuters)

¶ “Trump climate deal pullout: The global reaction” • President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement has drawn strong reaction from a very few supporters and a great many opponents inside America and around the world. Here are statements from members of both groups. [BBC]

¶ “Paris climate deal: US firms criticise Trump move” • General Electric, Facebook, Goldman Sachs and Walt Disney…

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June 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi H4 Tank Farm Dismantled, Contents Transferred

31 May 2017 water tanks dismantled b.jpg


On May 26 Tepco finished dismantling the 56 tanks from the H4 tank farm. Tepco mentioning some soil remediation having being done, but providing no details about it.

Those tanks were used to contain contaminated water and sludge from the reactors and the contaminated water treatment systems.

Those tanks panels having not been welded but only bolted with rivets, caused numerous leals in 2013. Those tanks panels were removed and sent to an automated cutting system for further dismantling and storage as radioactive waste. Their content was transfered to other more recent tanks, those welded.



June 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Mayor to link reactor decommissioning to restarting 2 others at same TEPCO plant



KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata — The mayor of this city, home to the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, said he intends to demand at least one of five reactors at the plant be decommissioned as a precondition for restarting two others.

“I’m not assuming that all seven reactors will be in operation,” Mayor Masahiro Sakurai told a regular news conference on June 1.

This is the first time that the mayor has mentioned specifically the possible decommissioning of reactors at the power station.

Mayor Sakurai said, “There are growing worries for local residents,” citing the insufficient strength of the power station’s special quake-proof building that will serve as a headquarters in the event of an emergency and North Korea’s firing of missiles.

Sakurai suggested it is inevitable to scale down the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. “Considering the Fukushima nuclear accident, seven reactors are too many,” he said.

At the same time, the mayor emphasized that he does not intend to demand that all of the No. 1 to 5 reactors at the plant be shut down as a precondition for reactivating the No. 6 and 7 units, for which the Nuclear Regulation Authority is conducting safety inspections.

He said he will offer to leave a decision on which reactors will be decommissioned to plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the national government, and urged these entities to present a decommissioning plan within two years.

Mayor Sakurai also said he believes that businesses related to the reactor decommissioning will help revitalize the local economy.

In response to the mayor’s comments, a TEPCO official said, “We haven’t heard anything directly from the Kashiwazaki Municipal Government. We’d like to continue to listen to their opinions on us.”

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Trial of Three Key Tepco Executives Starting

l3 key executive tepco.jpg


The trial of the three key Tepco executives in charge during the Fukushima disaster began this week. They are charged with criminal negligence, for not taking know safety measures to protect the plant against a large tsunami.
The trial
is finally taking place long after prosecutors in Tokyo refused to prosecute the case, thanks to a citizen group using a legal maneuver to force a case to be brought to trial.

The three key TEPCO executives are :
Tsunehisa Katsumata (ex-chairman)
Ichiro Takekuro (ex-vice president)
Sakae Muto (ex-vice president)

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

80% of voluntary evacuees not yet returned to Fukushima Prefecture

evacuees june 1 2017


More than 80 percent of households voluntarily evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant apparently have not returned to the prefecture even after the prefectural government stopped providing free housing, according to a survey by the Fukushima prefectural government.

More than six years have passed since the nuclear accident occurred. Many households have started new lives in the locations they evacuated to outside of the prefecture, finding jobs and seeing their children advancing to higher education. More and more voluntary evacuees have settled down in their new homes.

The survey was conducted on 12,239 households who voluntarily evacuated from areas outside the evacuation zone, including households in a part of eastern areas of the village of Kawauchi and other places where evacuation orders were lifted by June 2015, when the Fukushima prefectural government announced a plan to stop providing free housing.

Before the termination at the end of March this year, prefectural government officials visited individual households concerned to learn their intentions regarding where they would live from April. The prefectural government compiled the survey based on the results obtained from 8,744 households whose intentions the prefectural government could learn.

Of them, 4,781 households evacuated to areas outside Fukushima Prefecture, and 3,736 of those said they would continue to live in the prefectures where they had evacuated to.

Furthermore, 169 households said they would move to other prefectures from their current evacuation destinations. A total of 81.7 percent of those living outside Fukushima Prefecture said they would continue to do so.

The prefecture failed to learn the intentions of about 3,500 households. An official at the prefectural government said, “There might be more voluntary evacuees who will not return to Fukushima Prefecture.”

Of the 3,963 households who evacuated to other municipalities within the prefecture, 2,639 households, or 66.6 percent, said they would return to the municipalities where their homes are located.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Commercial plutonium a bomb material

p8-gilinsky-a-20170601-870x580.jpgThe Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant under construction in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture. Japan currently possesses 48 tons of reactor-grade plutonium

Reprocessed nuclear fuel can be used to make effective and powerful nuclear weapons

You would think that by now, in discussing the future of Japan’s plutonium stockpile, one fact would be incontrovertible: Commercial plutonium — often called reactor-grade plutonium — can be used as an effective nuclear explosive material in weapons. We are not talking about simple or primitive nuclear weapons, but modern weapons comparable in sophistication and performance to those held in the arsenals of the major nuclear powers.

Yet despite the availability of public information and repeated statements by knowledgeable officials, the advocates of commercial plutonium use as fuel still refuse to acknowledge the point. The respected Council for Nuclear Fuel Cycle (CNFC) prominently displays on its website an article that dismisses concerns expressed by nuclear experts over stockpiles of Japanese plutonium separated from power reactor fuel. The Tokyo-based CNFC specifically criticizes expert statements at meetings in Japan in 2015. As we were among those experts expressing concern at those meetings, we think it is important to explain why CNFC is wrong.

It is understandable that CNFC defends commercial use of plutonium. The organization believes that plutonium use is essential to long-term reliance on nuclear energy. It has been devoted for many years, in its own words, to “promotion of peaceful uses of plutonium.” It has relied on the assumption that plutonium from Japan’s nuclear power reactors — of the so-called light water reactor (LWR) type — cannot be used for bombs. The fact that it is now clear such plutonium is useful for bombs threatens the foundation of CNFC’s thinking. It is difficult to convince the public that a plan to use many tons of nuclear explosives to fuel power plants is an entirely peaceful one when 1 ton could be used to produce over 100 nuclear warheads. The usability of reactor-grade plutonium for weapons thus threatens the whole nuclear fuel-cycle concept of CNFC. This includes not only extraction of plutonium by reprocessing and recycling it in LWRs, but also the planned use of plutonium from LWRs to fuel a future generation of fast breeder reactors — the ultimate goal of plutonium advocates.

CNFC is naturally looking for some way to protect its traditional position on the necessity to use plutonium fuel in the face of undeniable facts about plutonium’s weapon usefulness. The council has been forced to concede that it is indeed possible to use reactor-grade plutonium for a nuclear “device.” But it seizes on the difference between weapon-grade plutonium and reactor-grade plutonium, the latter coming from spent fuel that has been irradiated for a much longer time than weapon-grade plutonium produced in military production reactors. The reactor-grade material contains an admixture of undesirable plutonium isotopes (other forms of plutonium). CNFC insists the use of it for an explosive device poses difficult technical problems. Such a device, in its view, would be too heavy and bulky and dangerous to be a practical weapon. No country has created an arsenal of such weapons, from which CNFC concludes it would be “absurd” to think any country would do so in the future. It goes on to flatly predict: “Nuclear weapons will never be made from plutonium extracted from LWR fuels.”

The problem is that CNFC’s thinking regarding the technical characteristics of nuclear weapons is 70 years out of date, and simplistic as a result. The additional plutonium isotopes in reactor-grade plutonium increase the radioactivity, and therefore also the heat output, of the material. But nuclear- weapon designers have found ways to keep the devices from overheating, without significantly adding to the weight. And fabricators can easily cope with the additional radioactivity.

Some of the additional isotopes spontaneously release neutrons. In the first nuclear- weapon designs this neutron background would tend to initiate a chain reaction too early and thus tend to reduce the yield of the explosion and make it less predictable. But this is an irrelevant consideration for the weapons use of this material by an industrially advanced country.

Quoting from the U.S. Department of Energy Publication — Nonproliferation and Arms Control Assessment of Weapons-Usable Fissile Material Storage and Excess Plutonium Disposition Alternatives dated January 1997: “Advanced nuclear weapon states such as the United States and Russia, using modern designs, could produce weapons from reactor-grade plutonium having reliable explosive yields, weight, and other characteristics generally comparable to those of weapons made from weapons-grade plutonium.”

Until now, CNFC has apparently been unaware of this. This should make CNFC aware of the essential equivalence of reactor grade and weapons grade plutonium for modern nuclear weapons use. One of us, having extensive experience in nuclear explosives design, can attest to the truth of this U.S. government statement.

We would urge CNFC and others who hold similar views to reflect on this and to reconsider their position on the weapon usability of reactor-grade plutonium. It may have been tenable years ago, but no longer. It would be a shame if those who guide Japan’s nuclear energy policy disregarded this fact out of suspicion that it is presented for political purposes. It is undeniable that reactor-grade plutonium — extracted from spent reactor fuel by reprocessing — can be used for effective and powerful nuclear weapons.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Resilience in Retrospect: Interpreting Fukushima’s Disappearing Consequences



By John Downer

1. Introduction

The third anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns occasioned a new round of US media scrutiny. Among the leitmotifs of this coverage was a story that pertained less to the disaster itself than to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) efforts to manage the public’s  perception of it. Particularly notable in this regard were a slew of internal NRC emails obtained  by NBC reporters via the Freedom of Information Act, which shone a light on the regulator’s response to the unfolding crisis. The emails suggest a systematic effort to obfuscate or downplay implications of the accident that might be detrimental to the nuclear industry’s credibility at home: a high-level decision to disavow prior NRC concerns about the seismic vulnerability of US plants, for instance, and a policy of ignoring questions about the potential effects of meltdowns on US soil.  NBC’s revelations could not have been surprising to most seasoned nuclear observers. As early as July 2011, the Wall Street Journal 

was reporting on private NRC emails suggesting that the industry and its regulators were actively hiding evidence that many US reactors were at risk from earthquakes that had not been anticipated in their design. At the same time in the UK, The Guardian published an archive of internal UK government emails that showed the nuclear industry working closely with civil servants to downplay the Fukushima accident and keep it from delaying proposed plants.

It is easy to see why US and UK nuclear regulators would be concerned by a disaster in Japan. The entire logic of Western nuclear policy, planning and legislation is premised on the idea that meltdowns like Fukushima’s are either: a) literally impossible, or b) so unlikely as to be beyond  political consideration. The US, for example, takes the latter approach. By invoking quantitative risk assessments, it formally categorizes meltdowns as ‘hypothetical’ events that are ‘theoretically possible’ but too improbable to warrant genuine policy consideration much like alien invasions or catastrophic meteorite-strikes. This determination then underpins almost all its discourse around nuclear power. It is implicated, for instance, in formal cost-benefit analyses, which ignore the possibility of accidents when weighing the economics of different energy options (e.g. OECD 2010). It is implicated in its emergency response planning, which is framed around small leaks rather than Fukushima-scale meltdowns. It is implicated in planning decisions, such as the in the ‘clustering’ of multiple reactors in single sites where the failure of one can imperil the others (as was the case in Japan). It is even evident in a substantial body of its social science research, which routinely treats ‘nuclear risk’ as an established property, to be contrasted, or reconciled, with public perceptions of that risk.

The understanding that meltdowns will not (or cannot) occur is so foundational to this discourse that the appearance of three reactor meltdowns in a single week (all at the Fukushima site) could have unequivocally upended the way industrial societies conceive and manage nuclear risks. The accident’s outsized dramas – which upstaged even the momentous earthquake and tsunami that instigated it – only seemed to confirm the intolerability of nuclear disasters, while simultaneously undermining assertions that such disasters were too improbable to merit consideration. Long-standing critics of nuclear power could hardly have looked for a clearer vindication of their fears. It would have been easy to imagine that that atomic energy would have little future post-2011.

For all this, however, the credibility of nuclear energy proved surprisingly resilient to Fukushima. Some nations retreated from reactors after the accident. Japan, for instance, was gripped by a groundswell of public opposition to atomic power, while Germany resolved to

abandon reactors entirely. In most instances, however, dreams of ‘nuclear renaissance’ lived on.

Prior to Fukushima, 547 reactors were either proposed, planned or under construction throughout the world; a year later, this number had increased to 558. In early 2012, the NRC issued approvals for four new reactors – the first since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Around the same time, Britain and France signed a formal agreement paving the way for a new generation of reactors in both countries. In these nations and more, the expert and public consensus on nuclear energy ‘escaped’ the touch of Fukushima, just as it escaped that of Windscale in 1957, Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and countless other brushes with disaster.

The durability of the nuclear industry’s credibility speaks to the flexibility of risk as a concept, and to the nature of the structures in which it is embedded. It was achieved, in large part, through the promulgation of narratives that framed the disaster in two ways:

i)By arguing that Fukushima was ‘exceptional’, and, as such, did not undermine reliability calculations proving that meltdowns should be beyond consideration. and/or…

ii)By arguing that Fukushima showed meltdowns were more ‘tolerable’ events than formal risk assessments had previously imagined (thereby implying that the reliability of reactors is less essential and inviolable).

These narratives – which internal correspondences, such as those released by NBC and The Guardian show being framed – were constructed and disseminated at the highest levels, shaping policy discourse and reverberating throughout the mainstream media. This chapter will discuss their logic and their consequences. Section 2, below, begins by briefly outlining and then critiquing the argument that Fukushima was ‘exceptional’. It argues that Fukushima reveals more significant and generalizable vulnerabilities than narratives of the disaster usually suggest. Section 3 is the heart of the chapter. In three parts – each focusing on different ways of construing the disaster Ñ it outlines and critiques the argument that Fukushima was ‘tolerable’.

The accident, it concludes, was more costly and alarming than publics are encouraged to believe. The concluding section of the chapter consists of two parts. The first asserts that it is reasonable to construe Fukushima’s public portrayal as a form of denial, and tackles the thorny question of agency. Drawing on two sociology literatures – ‘Agnotology’ and ‘Science and Technology Studies’ (STS) – it offers different perspectives on how and why narratives about Fukushima have come to be misleading, and considers their relative implications. The second and final part draws on the conclusions of the first to reflect on nuclear resilience. Outlining five ways in which protecting the credibility of nuclear experts from disasters undermines the practices that  protect people, it argues that the resilience of nuclear authority compromises the resilience of nuclear infrastructures.

To read more :

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

To June 2nd CLIMATE CHANGE and nuclear news

As I write, the world is reacting to Donald Trump’s announcement  that America will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.  We knew this was coming, but it is still a shock. USA, under Barack Obama was, along with China, a world leader, at least symbolically, in the struggle to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. (Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker, has an original opinion on this.)

Donald Trump excelling himself in policies to ruin not only America, but the world.

Climate deniers hijacking a climate science conference in Rome.

If USA moves into Crimea, Russia prepared to use nuclear weapons.  North Korea ramps up nuclear warning to USA. Danger of conflict between USA and North Korea: North Korea has 100 Unidentified Nuclear Facilities.

EUROPE‘s nuclear power stations aging – nearing retirement: Nuclear transboundary consultations.


UK.The danger of catastrophic cyberattack on UK’s Trident nuclear submarines. Britain’s exit from European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) – a real damper on UK’s nuclear industry.   Theresa May govt plans to weaken climate action rules.

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea soon to announce plans to phase out nuclear power.

BELARUS. Europe should not turn a blind eye to the developing nuclear threat in Belarus.

INDIA. India going into debt to Russia, for expanded Kudankulam nuclear plant ? A victory for Indian farmers, as nuclear power proposal shifted from coastal district of Gujarat. As solar costs plunge, India rethinks coal projects.

SOUTH AFRICA. Nuclear power company Eskom wants a blank cheque from the South African government. South Africa’s anti nuclear movement renews its campaign.

CHINA. China suspends permits for new coal plants.

JAPAN.  Nuclear storage crisis grows as reactor restarts continue.  UN Rapporteur Received Reports that Japan Media Avoids Covering Ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster; Reporter Demoted-Salary Reduced for Writing About Fukushima.   Toshiba to present UNAUDITED accounts at the company’s AGM next month.

SWEDEN. In Sweden, civil society can influence nuclear waste decisions.

SPAIN. A promising first: hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries.

POLYNESIA. Declassified: Polynesia  vastly affected by radioactivity from French nuclear bomb testing.


June 2, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Donald Trump excelling himself in policies to ruin not only America, but the world

Trump just cemented his legacy as America’s worst-ever president  Dana Nuccitelli

Trump is doing his best to ruin the world for our children and grandchildren

In an inexplicable abdication of any semblance of responsibility or leadership, Donald Trump has announced that he will begin the process to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate treaty, joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only world countries rejecting the agreement. It now seems inevitable that the history books will view Trump as America’s worst-ever president.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris treaty is a mostly symbolic act. America’s pledges to cut its carbon pollution were non-binding, and his administration’s policies to date had already made it impossible for America to meet its initial Paris climate commitment for 2025. The next American president in 2020 can re-enter the Paris treaty and push for policies to make up some of the ground we lost during Trump’s reign.

However, withdrawing from the Paris treaty is an important symbolic move – a middle finger to the rest of the world, and to future generations. America is by far the largest historical contributor to climate change. Ironically, on the heels of Trump’s claim that most NATO members aren’t paying their fair share to the organization, America has announced that we won’t do our fair share to curb the climate change threats that we are the most responsible for.

The Rotting Republican Party

And the GOP has become the Party of Trump. His decision was reinforced by a letter from 22 Republican senators urging withdrawal from the Paris climate treaty. Those senators have coincidentally received over $10m in donations from the fossil fuel industry over the past five years.

Their reasoning was dubious at best, arguing that environmental attorneys will cite the international agreement in their efforts to prevent the Trump administration from eliminating President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. By law, the US government is required to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act, because it poses a threat to public welfare. The Republican Senators wrote:

 Environmentalists will argue that these [Clean Air Act] Section 115 requirements are, in fact, met more easily by the Paris Agreement because it includes enhanced transparency requirements in Article 13, which establishes a process for nations to submit plans to reduce emissions to one another and then to comment on the plans of one another.

As National Resource Defense Council climate and clean air program senior attorney David Doniger explained to me, this argument is nonsense:

They are making things up. EPA did not rely on Paris to justify the Clean Power Plan, and none of the parties defending the Plan has cited Paris as a legal basis. On Clean Air Act Section 115, no one I know has made, or even thought of, this argument.

It’s difficult to discern the Republican Senators’ motivations behind this letter. Even big oil and coal and many of America’s largest companies supported America staying in the Paris agreement. Industries don’t like the uncertainty involved in lurching in and out of international treaties, and experts are concerned about the effect on America’s international influence from tearing up this critically important agreement that we helped broker less than two years ago, that was signed by nearly every world country.

Perhaps the Republican Senators are trying to ride Trump’s nationalist, anti-globalist coattails. Maybe they think that their right-wing base will be excited if they stick it to the rest of the world on Paris. However, majorities of voters in every single county in the US support regulating carbon as a pollutant, and 71% of Americans (including 57% of Republicans) think the US should participate in the Paris agreement.

In short, efforts to pull out of the Paris treaty are woefully misguided, and almost everyone knows it. Everyone except 42% of Senate Republicans including leader Mitch McConnell, James Inhofe, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and of course Trump’s senior advisor Steve Bannon and his EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Additionally, the Koch brothers and Vladimir Putin are not fans of the treaty. Those two factors may best explain this decision by Trump and the Republican senators.

Good luck kids, you’ll need it

Political calculations aside, pulling America out of the Paris agreement is grossly immoral. Human-caused climate change puts the well-being of our children and grandchildren at risk. That’s especially true for poorer countries that lack the resources to adapt to its impacts, and that contributed the least to the problem. However, the move will also hurt the American economy, as Joseph Robertson wrote on these pages earlier this week:

With China, India, and the EU all moving toward record investments in clean energy and high-efficiency construction, transport and industrial production, withdrawal from the Paris Agreement risks making the US into an economic backwater. Withdrawal would effectively deprive American businesses and communities of the most efficient ways to boost investment, hiring, innovation, and return on investment.

Some Republican leaders are struggling to preserve their party’s credibility and viability. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned against the withdrawal. 20 House Republicans have now joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, whose goal is to craft economically beneficial climate policies that both parties can support. And a group of Republican elder statesmenincluding Secretaries of State and Treasury to Presidents Reagan, George HW Bush, and George W Bush met with the White House seeking support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax plan.

So far, these leaders’ laudable efforts have failed. Trump and the majority of Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to increase American carbon pollution. They want to repeal all of America’s climate policies with no replacement plan. In short, they’re happy to let the world burn, and for our children and grandchildren suffer the consequences.

2020 election will be a climate referendum

This is the rotten state of today’s GOP. They’re happy to sell out the future of humanity for their own short-term political gain. Noam Chomsky was right – the Republican Party may be the most dangerous organization in human history. This move comes at a time when the need to act on global warming has been clear for decades, but the GOP has blocked all American climate policy efforts, and we’re now running out of time to avoid dangerous climate change.

America’s withdrawal from the Paris treaty will take four years, meaning that the 2020 election (and the 2018 midterms) will be a referendum on Trump’s decision today. American voters must send the world a signal in that election. In the meantime, it will be up to the rest of the world – particularly China and the EU – to take up the mantle of leadership on climate change that America has left behind.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump: U.S. will withdraw from Paris climate accord

Trump: U.S. will withdraw from Paris climate accord

Paris climate deal: Donald Trump withdraws US from the accord, SMH, 2 June 17 Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason  Washington: President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, spurning pleas from US allies and corporate leaders in an action that fulfilled a major campaign pledge.

“We’re getting out,” Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in which he decried the Paris accord’s “draconian” financial and economic burdens.

“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said. But he added that the United States would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or “a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”

With Trump’s action, the United States will walk away from nearly every nation in the world on one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. The pullout will align the United States with Syria and Nicaragua as the world’s only non-participants in the accord.

The United States was one of 195 nations that agreed to the accord in Paris in December 2015, a deal that former US President Barack Obama was instrumental in brokering.

Supporters of the accord condemned Trump’s move as an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace.

“At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

“Ignoring reality and leaving the Paris agreement could go down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the US further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip,” Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse added.

Former US president Barack Obama, who signed on to the accord, wasted no time in criticising Trump’s move. In a statement, Obama said the Trump administration was rejecting the future by pulling out of the climate pact……..

Under the pact, which was years in the making, nations both rich and poor committed to reducing emissions of so-called greenhouse gases generated by burning fossils fuels and blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

The United States had committed to reduce its emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2025. The United States, exceeded only by China in greenhouse gas emissions, accounts for more than 15 per cent of the worldwide total.

Trump, who campaigned for president last year with an “America First” message, promised voters an American withdrawal.

US supporters of the pact said any pullout by Trump would show that the United States can no longer be trusted to follow through on international commitments……..

In a statement backed by all 28 EU states, the EU and China were poised to commit to full implementation of the agreement, officials said.

Trump has already moved to dismantle Obama-era climate change regulations, including the US Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing emissions from main coal-fired power plants.

Some US states, including California, Washington and New York, have vowed to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and continue engaging in the international climate agreement process.

Oil majors Shell and ExxonMobil Corp supported the Paris pact. Several big coal companies, including Cloud Peak Energy, had publicly urged Trump to stay in the deal as a way to help protect the industry’s mining interests overseas, though others asked Trump to exit the accord to help ease regulatory pressures on domestic miners.    Reuters

June 2, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Global dismay at Donald Trump’s withdrawal of USA from Paris climate agreement

Donald Trump, climate change: World reacts to US withdrawal from Paris agreement, GLOBAL reaction to Donald Trump’s “arrogant” decision has been brutal. World leaders aren’t happy.  2 June 17 Debra Killalea@DebKillalea  CRITICS have blasted Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement to curb climate change as reckless, immoral and a massive middle finger to the world.

While it fulfils Mr Trump’s election promise to pull out of the pact — which he has labelled a job killer — the announcement has caused widespread shock and outrage.

European leaders have condemned the decision and even big business is angry.

Former president Obama called the decision a “rejection of the future”, while former US vice president and ardent climate change campaigner Al Gore blasted Mr Trump’s move as “indefensible”.

CNN climate change and social justice columnist John D Sutter described the decision to pull out on the Paris Agreement as “a middle finger to the future” and “catastrophic both for this country and the planet.”

“The worst part: There is absolutely no reason for it. Aside, perhaps, from bravado and arrogance,” he writes. Sutter said, in walking away from the agreement, Mr Trump was turning his back on the entire world and on the consensus of climate science. Continue reading

June 2, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics international | 1 Comment

If USA moves into Crimea, Russia prepared to use nuclear weapons

Veteran Russian MP warns that Moscow could use nuclear weapons if the U.S. makes a move into Crimea, The Independent 1 June 17, Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend its position if forces led by the US or Nato make a move into Crimea, a veteran politician in the country has claimed.

“If US forces, Nato forces, are, were, in the Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, Russia is undefendable militarily in case of conflict, without using nuclear weapons in the early stage of the conflict,” Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov told a global security forum in Slovakia.

Mr Nikonov, who has served on the staff of Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, said that he had heard this at some point “from the Russian military”, according to Defense One.

He was speaking the GLOBSEC Bratislava Global Security Forum.  The politician added that the west was “not just a force for good”, and said he was concerned about the lack of dialogue between Russia and the US and its allies to find a political solution. ……..

Although President Donald Trump has faced much criticism over his alleged links to Russia, US sanctions against the country remain in place over Crimea.

After Mr Trump’s initial overtures to Mr Putin, relations between Washington and Moscow have become more strained in recent weeks, with the White House reiterating America’s demand that Russia withdraws from Crimea.

Mr Nikonov said is worrying that US officials have been fired for talking to their Russian counterparts as this could cause relations between the superpowers to deteriorate further.

The Pentagon this week successfully simulated the shoot-down of a hostile long-range ballistic missile launch in the first ever live test of its kind, seen as a warning to hostile regimes such as North Korea and Iran but widely noted in the world media, including Russia.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea ramps up nuclear warning to USA

NORTH KOREA CLAIMS ‘MOST POWERFUL NUCLEAR WEAPON’ IN STORE FOR U.S. IF MILITARY DOES NOT BACK OFF, NewsWeek, BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 6/1/17 North Korea told the U.S. Thursday to withdraw its military assets from the region, warning via state-run media that a military showdown would end in nuclear destruction.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency released an article titled “U.S. Urged Not to Adventure Military Actions,” in which an official tasked with inter-Korean relations criticized the U.S.’s military moves in the region. Japan, an ally of Washington and rival of Pyongyang, began major naval and air force exercises Thursday with the U.S.’s Carl Vinson and Ronald Reagon aircraft carriers, Reutersreported. The U.S. warships were dispatched to the region in response to suggestions that North Korea would conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test, something President Donald Trump has vowed to prevent. In a statement Thursday, a spokesperson for North Korea’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said the U.S. military moves proved it was to blame for heightened regional tensions…….

North Korea argues its pursuit of nuclear weapons technology is for deterrence purposes. The nation is believed to possess up to 20 nuclear warheads as well as an extensive ballistic missile arsenal. Analysts do not believe North Korea will be able to produce a viable nuclear-capable intercontinental missile until at least 2020, but the militarized, authoritarian state is thought to be capable of launching nuclear attacks against neighboring nations, including South Korea and Japan, both of which host U.S. military installations and personnel.

The Trump administration announced Thursday additional economic sanctions targeting companies that allegedly play a role in North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, according to the Los Angeles Times. The White House’s latest efforts to prevent North Korea from carrying out another nuclear weapons test through sanctions come as Trump seeks help from China, a traditional rival and North Korea’s greatest ally, to rein in the North’s nuclear ambitions. The presence of U.S. warships and ongoing military drills, however, could appear as a reminder of Trump’s willingness to use military force quickly and unexpectedly, as he did in Syria in April.

These actions have left North Korea and its young leader, Kim Jong Un, deeply suspicious of any U.S. attempts to establish a dialogue. Since Trump dispatched the naval aircraft carrier strike group in April, North Korea’s government-controlled media has been awash with criticism of U.S. foreign policy and reports of alleged U.S.-backed plots against Kim and his administration. The articles frequently cite North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction as being existentially necessary to the country’s survival, and assert the nation’s right to possess and develop them in the face of U.S. threats of intervention. In Thursday’s piece, the Korean Central News Agency called on Washington to reverse its course of action or face nuclear assault….

June 2, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The danger of catastrophic cyberattack on UK’s Trident nuclear submarines

‘vulnerable to catastrophic hack’   Thinktank sceptical about MoD assurances, saying cyber-attack could lead even to ‘exchange of nuclear warheads’, Guardian, Ewen MacAskill, 1 June 17, The UK’s Trident submarine fleet is vulnerable to a “catastrophic” cyber-attack that could render Britain’s nuclear weapons useless, according to a report by a London-based thinktank.

The 38-page report, Hacking UK Trident: A Growing Threat, warns that a successful cyber-attack could “neutralise operations, lead to loss of life, defeat or perhaps even the catastrophic exchange of nuclear warheads (directly or indirectly)”.

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly said the operating systems of Britain’s nuclear submarines cannot be penetrated while at sea because they are not connected to the internet at that point.

But the report’s authors, the British American Security Information Council (Basic), expressed scepticism.

“Submarines on patrol are clearly air-gapped, not being connected to the internet or other networks, except when receiving (very simple) data from outside. As a consequence, it has sometimes been claimed by officials that Trident is safe from hacking. But this is patently false and complacent,” they say in the report.

Even if it were true that a submarine at sea could not be attacked digitally, the report points out that the vessels are only at sea part of the time and are vulnerable to the introduction of malware at other points, such as during maintenance while docked at the Faslane naval base in Scotland.

The report says: “Trident’s sensitive cyber systems are not connected to the internet or any other civilian network. Nevertheless, the vessel, missiles, warheads and all the various support systems rely on networked computers, devices and software, and each of these have to be designed and programmed. All of them incorporate unique data and must be regularly upgraded, reconfigured and patched.”

The UK has four nuclear missile-carrying submarines, which are in the process of being replaced. Their replacements are scheduled to go into service in the early 2030s.

The report comes after the cyber-attack last month that disrupted the NHS, which uses the same Windows software as the Trident submarines. There was speculation too that the US used cyberwarfare to destroy a North Korean missile test. A Trident test-firing of a missile last year off the coast of Florida also went awry, with no official explanation given…….

Abaimov said: “There are numerous cyber vulnerabilities in the Trident system at each stage of operation, from design to decommissioning. An effective approach to reducing the risk would involve a massive and inevitably expensive operation to strengthen the resilience of subcontractors, maintenance systems, components design and even software updates. If the UK is to continue deploying nuclear weapon systems this is an essential and urgent task in the era of cyberwarfare.”

The report’s authors estimate that the capital costs for the UK government to improve cybersecurity for the Trident programme would run to several billions of pounds over the next 15 years.

The report is to be published on the Basic website.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Europe should not turn a blind eye to the developing nuclear threat in Belarus

Belarus nuclear plant: A disaster waiting to happen  By SIJBREN DE JONG, THE HAGUE, 31. MAY, Just over 30 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which saw Belarus lose a quarter of its territory due to nuclear contamination, the former Soviet republic is set to see its first nuclear power station enter operation in one and a half year’s time from now.

The location in the Belarusian town of Astravets – a mere 50 kilometres from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius – is understandably giving its neighbour the jitters. To make matters worse, the construction of the plant has been mired by a series of mishaps and incidents, sparking major concerns over the safety of the installation.

With Belarusian authorities not budging and full inspections remaining elusive, the Lithuanian government has resorted to taking active steps to protect the country against the plant.

Playing the silent game   In August last year, news emerged that a crane had dropped the 330 tonne heavy reactor from a height of 4 metres during a test lift. If dropping a nuclear reactor was not bad enough in itself, the Belarusian authorities’ attempts to deny or otherwise keep silent on the matter for weeks on end sparked eerie memories of how the Soviets handled the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

“We never get any information, or we hear something only a month after it happened”, says Darius Degutis, Lithuania’s ambassador at large for the issues related to the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant.

Russian state-owned company Rosatom, the nuclear plant’s main contractor, is complicit in playing the “silent game” by first denying that the accident caused any damage to the reactor shell, only to change its story afterwards by offering to replace the shell. Adding to the concerns was another incident in February 2017, whereby the second reactor hit a power pillar during transport.

The incident could have caused significant tension and deformation, thus impacting on the safety of the reactor vessel. However, rather than properly investigating the impact, the vessel was hoisted into position on 1 April of this year.

Move along, nothing to see here  In order for the international community to be fully informed about the safety standards employed in the plant’s construction, the Lithuanian government has pressed for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Site and External Events Design (SEED) mission to be invited for a full-scope review.

A full-scope review consists of a six-step assessment, involving reviews and inspections on site selection, environmental impact, design safety and numerous other aspects. A major problem thus far is that the Belarusian authorities limited the scope of the IAEA’s mission only to an assessment of the plant design’s safety.

This means that major verification steps pertaining to the choice of location, local geology and the plant’s environmental impact were skipped.

According to Degutis, the location at Astravets is “known to have been seismically active in the past and no proper international assessment of the site’s location was ever carried out”.

Other failures relate to the measuring of the population density around the site. In doing so, Belarusian officials only assessed population density on the Belarusian side of the border, thus not taking into account that this density on the Lithuanian side is far higher and a third of the country’s population would be at risk in case of a meltdown.

By limiting the scope of the IAEA’s mission, the nuclear watchdog cannot comment on these kinds of issues. To make matters worse, the Belarusian government declared that it would itself perform the plant’s risk and safety assessment.

Given how the numerous incidents at the plant have been handled so far, it is questionable as to whether the Belarusian authorities can be trusted with performing these stress tests in full accordance with European specifications.

Acquiescence is not an option  After having attempted for several years to get the IAEA’s SEED mission full access to the site, the Lithuanian authorities have started to resort to different measures to guard themselves against the plant.

In April of this year, the Lithuanian parliament adopted a law that forbids the purchase of electricity generated from a third country power plant that is constructed or operates in violation of international environmental and nuclear safety requirements.

Earlier this month, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia also agreed to link their power systems to other EU members and, in that way, disconnect from the Soviet-era electricity network.

Given that Belarus repeatedly signalled its intention to sell part of the electricity produced at Astravets in other European countries, the Baltic States have effectively deprived the plant from access to European electricity markets.

Although such actions qualify as last-resort measures, both decisions are entirely defensible when viewed in light of the continuous mishaps witnessed at Astravets. With the memories of Chernobyl still looming large, Europe should not turn a blind eye to this developing nuclear threat and firmly support Lithuania in its quest for full access to the site.

The Crude World monthly column on Eurasian (energy) security and power politics in Europe’s eastern neighbourhood is written by Sijbren de Jong, a strategic analyst with The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), specialised in Eurasian (energy) security and the EU’s relations with Russia and the former Soviet Union

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Belarus, safety | Leave a comment