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Donald Trump will not be able to make the Iran nuclear deal fail

President Trump Can’t Make The Iran Nuclear Deal Fail – Yet, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2017/07/20/president-trump-cant-make-the-iran-nuclear-deal-fail-yet/#447eb4277409, James Conca ,  On the two-year anniversary of the Iran Nuclear Deal, President Trump reluctantly certified that Iran is complying with the international nuclear agreement that prevents Iran from attaining an atomic weapon.

But he really didn’t want to. The President argued with his top national security advisers who, thankfully, convinced him that the deal was working.

Monday’s decision was the second time Mr. Trump has certified Iran’s compliance since taking office. By law, the administration must notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is living up to the deal. But aides said the frustrated President told his security team he would not keep doing so indefinitely.

It took an hour of cajoling by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser Lt. General McMaster, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dunford Jr. to convince the President that not certifying the deal would be really really bad.

Trump wants to scuttle the nuclear deal in order to keep a campaign promise. But actually hurting the United States’ national security interests, and the world, is making that difficult. Even with help from like-minded Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), David Perdue (R-GA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Trump may not get the war he wants.

Which is good. Two-third of Americans feel that Trump will get us into another major war, and half of Americans think he will use nukes when he gets the chance. Neither of these is good for America. Most people forget that the Iraq war that toppled Hussein’s Baathist government took out Iran’s natural enemy and made the defeated Baathists morph into ISIS.

 Fortunately, Iran is actually meeting the terms of the nuclear dealhammered out in Switzerland two years ago by the United States-led P5+1 Group. According to the United Nations’ nuclear watch dog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran shipped nearly its entire fissionable stockpile to Russia last year, over 12 tons of enriched uranium that could have been used to make uranium atomic bombs. Iran then mothballed thousands of centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium for this type of atomic weapon.

Iran also removed the core of its heavy water reactor at Arak, and filled it with concrete. That reactor could have produced plutonium for the other type of atomic bomb, one that is more easily mounted on missiles, like the ones North Korea has.

While Tehran still remains a threat in the region, and will likely try some covert activities like those pointed out by the Senators, they cannot easily re-acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, which is the most important outcome of this deal. And they can’t without us finding out, as long as the deal is in place.

But if the United States breaks the deal, it would leave Iran holding all the cards. Sanctions would not snap back on if we break the deal as the rest of the world will correctly blame us, not Iran. And Iran could then expel the inspectors and ramp up their nuclear program without sanctions. The United States would look like idiots and we would only have the military option since we would have broken the only successful diplomatic one.

In fact, Tehran’s hard-liners argue that America has already violated the nuclear deal since President Trump has been pressuring businesses not to engage with Iran even though those particular sanctions have been lifted. Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif declared last Sunday to Fareed Zakaria on CNN, ‘That is a violation of not the spirit but of the letter of the nuclear deal.’

Through this nuclear deal, Zarif and Iranian President Rouhani have demonstrated to the people and the theocrats of Iran that they could successfully deal with the West. In fact, the nuclear deal is the best weapon Rouhani has against the hardliners who want to continue the fight against the West, obtain nuclear weapons, and keep the region embroiled in conflict.

American critics of the deal have always wanted to couple the nuclear deal with other issues like regional terrorism and human rights, and want to apply tougher sanctions and the threat of military force. But the regional problems are tied to the larger Shia-Sunni divide that pits Iran against Saudi Arabia in regional civil conflicts, like Syria and Yemen. America needs to resist getting dragged into these ancient religious conflicts as they never work out well for us.

President Trump has strongly aligned the United States with Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Arab states, as well as Israel, in their mutual struggle with Shia Iran over control of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is definitely not happy about the Iran nuclear deal working and is not happy that its archenemy is losing its pariah-state status.

The Saudis have been stoking sectarian violence in the region for the last two years in the hopes of pushing Iran off the wagon and claiming itself as the only rational partner in the region.

However, the Saudis keep beheading people at breakneck speed, some for just criticizing the government, some for drug offences or just being on social media. But when the Saudis, who are Sunni, executed a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric last year, Iranian protesters burned the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

That the Saudis did this, despite urgent pleas from the United States, speaks volumes about how much our ally does not want this nuclear deal to work.

Now it seems to be our new Administration’s policy as well.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | politics international | Leave a comment

Europe’s struggle to find a solution to nuclear waste disposal

Burying the atom: Europe struggles to dispose of nuclear waste Political opposition, not technical hurdles, poses biggest challenge to finding permanent storage sites for deadly radioactive material.
Politico, By KALINA OROSCHAKOFF AND MARION SOLLETTY, 7/19/17,  URE, France — Half a kilometer underground in floodlit tunnels, a French government lab is testing the safety of a site intended to hold 80,000 cubic meters of deadly radioactive waste.

Crews drill barrel-sized openings into the sides of the shafts, dug deep into the earth not far from the small town of Bure, in northeastern France. The containers will have to be retrievable for a century, in case better technologies for dealing with radioactive materials are developed. Barring such a discovery, the idea is for the waste to spend the next 100,000 years underground.

The technical hurdles will be the easy bit. Far more difficult for France’s radioactive waste management agency, Andra, will be overcoming political opposition to the construction of the site — of any site — intended to serve as the final resting place for tons of radioactive waste.

Six decades after the construction of the first wave of nuclear power plants, no country has opened a permanent storage site. Spent nuclear fuel and other contaminated material — deadly byproducts of electricity generation — remain stockpiled in temporary locations around Europe and the world, sometimes alongside the reactors where they were used.

The problem is only getting more urgent as power plants across the world near the end of their lives and Western Europe cuts back on nuclear electricity generation.

In the EU alone, more than 50 of the 129 reactors currently in operation could shut down by 2025, Energy and Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said recently. “These reactors will need to be decommissioned, and the radioactive waste generated in this process will need to be safely managed.”

The stakes are less technical than political. The dispute goes to the heart of a running debate over the sustainability of nuclear power. Failing to resolve it would leave the industry vulnerable to its critics, who argue that the technology is so inherently risky — and dirty — that it cannot be relied on to generate electricity, even to combat climate change.

The European Commission is keen to hurry countries along. On July 13, it escalated an infringement procedure against Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy and Portugal, pushing them to fully comply with the bloc’s radioactive waste rules and inform Brussels of their national nuclear waste management programs, which were originally due by August 23, 2015. Only Finland, set to open the world’s first final repository early in the next decade, has a plan it can implement.

Experts agree that today’s stop-gap solutions are unsustainable — and more dangerous than building long-term depositories deep underground where radioactive material can spend tens of thousands of years decaying, protected from natural disasters and out of reach of criminals and terrorists………

The issue is a headache for Nicolas Hulot, France’s new environment minister and a former green campaigner, who is part of the government that will have to give the final approval for the site. France is scaling back nuclear from 75 percent of power production to 50 percent by 2025, but it will still need to find a permanent storage site for the waste its plants produce.

Hulot expressed concerns about the site in Bure in 2016. “We can’t impose [such a project] on a local population just because they live in a remote area, without consulting them, without transparency,” he said on French TV.

On June 2, anti-nuclear campaigners wrote an open letter to Hulot asking him to stop the project. Since taking office, he has mostly kept quiet about the subject, but in a recent interview with Ouest-France, a regional newspaper, he vowed to ensure the waste will be stored with “absolute safety.”

The project still faces serious safety challenges, including fire risks, the French nuclear safety authority concluded in a recent assessment. On July 17, Andra pushed back a self-imposed deadline to submit a formal authorization request for the project by a year, to mid-2019.

Outreach

The government has responded to the protest with careful — and very public — safety tests, and an emphasis on its economic benefits for the region. “The project relies on 20 years of research,” said David Mazoyer, the site’s director. “Every scenario is studied with maximum security margins.” Some tests even involve releasing radioactive particles to track their movement in the surrounding clay.

The government has also splashed cash around — €30 million a year as “accompanying measures” for each of the two districts neighboring the site. “People don’t support the project for free,” said Gérard Longuet, a senator from the region and a key project supporter. “They support it because it boosts the area.”

So far, the effect of the outreach is, at best, mixed.

A 2016 poll commissioned by Andra found that 59 percent of local residents said they trust the agency to manage the site. But 63 percent expressed concerns over safety issues, and 76 percent said they think the project is dangerous for the environment.

“When you are listening to Andra, everything is all fine and rosy,” said Jean-Francois Bodenreider, an anti-nuclear campaigner and local resident. But, “they have no control over this,” said his wife Marie-Eve Bodenreider. An anti-nuclear sign hangs outside their physiotherapy practice in Gondrecourt-le-Château.

The site currently employs 370 people, with construction work foreseen to employ more than 2,000. But opponents say the jobs have yet to materialize. “The only jobs here are for security guards,” said Labat, the local resident and demonstrator. “They are everywhere!”

Birth of a movement

If German history is any guide, the French government will not have an easy time at the Bois Lejuc………..

‘Back on the streets’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision, after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster, to shutter the country’s last reactor by 2022 has taken some of the wind out of the opposition’s sails.

The challenge facing the anti-nuclear movement now will be “whether you can switch gears from blockade mode to having a constructive argument about how to best deal with the final storage issue,” Harms said…….. http://www.politico.eu/article/europes-radioactive-problem-struggles-dispose-nuclear-waste-french-nuclear-facility/

July 21, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

UK threatens to return radioactive waste to EU without nuclear deal

Brexit department warns EU counterparts it will ‘return waste to its country of origin’ if an agreement on nuclear cooperation cannot be reached, Guardian, Daniel Boffey 20 July 17, Britain has warned the EU that it could return boatloads of radioactive waste back to the continent if the Brexit talks fail to deliver an agreement on nuclear regulation.

In what is being taken in Brussels as a thinly veiled threat, a paper setting out the UK position for the negotiations stresses the right “to return radioactive waste … to its country of origin” should negotiations collapse.

The UK paper, detailing the British government’s hopes for future cooperation once it leaves the Euratom treaty, at the same time as leaving the EU, further stresses the “strong mutual interest in ensuring close cooperation in the future”.

Britain currently has a 126-tonne stockpile of radioactive materials originating from EU countries such as Germany, Italy and Sweden.

The state-owned Sellafield plant in Cumbria has been reprocessing spent nuclear field from across Europe since the 1970s, producing reusable uranium, plutonium and radioactive waste. Almost a fifth of the UK’s stockpile of civilian plutonium at Sellafield originates from overseas…….

Britain has signalled that while it is leaving the Euraotom treaty, of which it has been a member since 1957, it wants to continue to cooperate on nuclear regulation after the UK leaves the union in March 2019. The treaty regulates the civilian use of atomic technology and critics of the government’s position fear there is a threat of disruption to UK supplies of nuclear reactor parts, fuel and medical isotopes vital for the treatment of cancer if a new agreement outside membership of the EU is not reached……

The EU insist, however, that such cooperation on nuclear regulation would require the UK to recognise the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, which is a red line for Theresa May…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/19/uk-threatens-to-return-radioactive-waste-to-eu-without-nuclear-deal

July 21, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK | 1 Comment

Marshallese people evacuated from their islands now face harsh situation in Oklahoma

The U.S. Tested 67 Nuclear Bombs in Their Country. Now They’re Dying in Oklahoma. Narratively, by Zoë Carpenter , 20 July 17 After a series of military experiments devastated their homeland, Marshall Islands residents were permitted to immigrate to the U.S. But they didn’t know their American dream came with a catch

Lately, Terry Mote has been going to a lot of funerals. There were at least five in the early spring, sometimes on consecutive weekends. The elderly get sicker when the weather changes, he’s noticed – though the friends dying lately aren’t all that old, and they aren’t dying just because of the weather.

One breezy evening in April, on a weekend with no funeral, Mote’s kitchen filled with steam and the snapping sound of hot oil. He’d driven a hundred miles the previous day, to Oklahoma City, to buy bitter melon and small fish that he placed delicately into the frying pan with a pair of tongs. They were among the things he missed from the Marshall Islands, where he grew up. Fresh seafood is hard to find in the dry, windy city where he lives now – Enid, Oklahoma, a hunkered-down prairie town at the eastern edge of the Great Plains…….

Many leave the islands in search of the same things as other migrants – work, education, health care. But an unusual shadow trails the Marshallese. Following the Second World War, the United States used the islands as a testing ground for its nuclear weapons program, detonating more than 60 bombs over a dozen years. The largest, the “Castle Bravo” test, blew a crater 6,510 feet wide in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll and ignited a fireball visible from 250 miles away. Children on neighboring islands played in the ashy fallout, which fell like snow from the sky.

Today, thanks to a treaty signed when the Marshall Islands gained independence from the U.S. in 1986, Marshallese citizens are allowed to live and work in the States. Between 2000 and 2010, the number here grew by 237 percent. This mass migration is driven in part by poverty and lack of services in the islands. But it’s also a legacy of the U.S. occupation and the various damages it left behind. And it’s accelerated by climate change, which has started to drown the low-lying archipelago……

Mote and many other Marshallese in the U.S. live in a precarious state of in-between. Granted residency but not citizenship, the Marshallese have virtually no political influence and rank as the single poorest ethnic group in the U.S. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (or welfare reform) eliminated federal health care funding for Marshallese by excluding them from the group of “qualified aliens” who are eligible for benefits. That means that Marshallese citizens who live, work and pay taxes in the U.S. are ineligible for Medicaid and Medicare unless states opt to provide it. Oklahoma has not done so.

Mote loves Enid, but life is more difficult than he anticipated. Rent and groceries are expensive, and there is the problem of the funerals. Few of the elderly Marshallese in the city live into their 70s, according to Mote and other residents I spoke with. Instead, they’re dying young – of diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease, illnesses they might have been able to manage under other circumstances. Often they leave behind families saddled with medical debt.

Mote described the struggle in his community as part of a legacy of broken promises made by the U.S. – promises that the islanders displaced by the nuclear program would be able to return; that those relocated or sickened would be provided for; that the testing was for “the good of mankind.” America tested 67 nuclear bombs in the islands, Mote reminded me. “Then they’re just going to let us die over here?”

…………Inside the clinic I met Daina Joseia, a 63-year-old woman wearing a loose, floral-print dress of a style worn by many Marshallese women. Joseia smiled easily, but she seemed frail and tired. She moved to Enid in 1999, seeking care for various physical ailments – too many for me to write down, she said. Once she arrived, she found she couldn’t afford insurance. She often feels scared or ashamed to see a doctor because she’s uninsured, but she’s sick enough that she can’t avoid it. She has a lot of bills to pay. The day we met, Joseia had a large sore on her back.

Joseia believes her ill health might be connected to something she saw in the islands when she was a little girl: an enormous flash of light, she told me through an interpreter, “a real bright color, like a fire.” It wasn’t until she was an adult that she understood what she’d seen.

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States tested 67 nuclear bombs on or near two atolls at the northern end of the Marshall Islands – an area that became known as the Pacific Proving Grounds. The largest weapons test, a hydrogen bomb set off on Bikini Atoll in 1954, detonated with more than a thousand times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Though Bikini Atoll had been evacuated, the wind blew radioactive fallout onto several inhabited islands, and perhaps much further away. (A few days later, a doctor in Tennessee reported that cattle in the state showed unusually high levels of radioactivity in their thyroids.) Officially, the U.S. claimed only three inhabited islands were seriously affected by fallout from Bravo. But an internal report declassified in the 1990s suggested that radiation from that and subsequent tests may have affected as many as 13 atolls.

On neighboring islands, many health effects were immediate: radiation burns, damage to stomach linings, low blood cell counts. Others surfaced gradually in the following months and years. Rates of leukemia, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer rose. Children were born deformed, or had their growth stunted.

“In a nation that lacks a single oncologist or cancer treatment facility, the Marshallese experience extremely high rates of cancer; degenerative conditions associated with radiation exposure; miscarriage and infertility; and, the birth of congenitally deformed children,” environmental anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnston wrote in a 2013 report on the legacy of the tests. According to a 2012 report by a special rapporteur for the U.N., those health issues were “exacerbated by near-irreversible environmental contamination,” which in turn led to “indefinite displacement” for many Marshallese.

According to Dr. Neal Palafox, a cancer specialist at the University of Hawaii who worked in the Marshall Islands for nearly a decade, the weapons testing damaged more than flesh and bone. It constituted a form of cultural trauma, too. Palafox believes the U.S. chose to conduct the testing where it did because residents had little power to push back. “Not for a second does anybody believe that there was any kind of informed consent,” Palafox said in an interview. There is some evidence the U.S. knew that the winds had shifted before the Bravo test in a direction that endangered inhabited islands, yet proceeded anyway. Afterward, many of the people most heavily exposed to the Bravo fallout became test subjects in Project 4.1, a classified medical study of radiation exposure run by the U.S. government. Later in 1954, the Congress of the Marshall Islands requested a halt to the testing, which the U.S. rejected on the grounds that the islanders “had no medical reason to expect any permanent after-effects on the general health of the inhabitants.”

Joseia remembers the sickness that followed the bright light. She remembers women giving birth to babies that “didn’t look like human beings.” One man I met in Enid described infants born looking “like jellyfish.” Another woman, Joelynn Karben, told me she remembered infants born after the nuclear tests as incoherent lumps of flesh, like bunches of grapes. Her own brother was born missing part of his skull, and her mother died from what she thinks was thyroid cancer.

The bombings are deeply etched in the islands’ collective memory, and some people I met in Enid blamed them for all manner of illnesses. It’s impossible to say which, if any, of Joseia’s health issues are directly related. The sore she had on her back the day we met was actually a symptom of her diabetes, a nurse told me later – though that, too, is linked to the U.S. military presence in the islands, specifically to the dietary changes that accompanied imports of processed, sugary foods.

More than 90 percent of the food in the Marshall Islands is imported from the U.S. now. Before the U.S. occupation, the Marshallese ate mostly fish, breadfruit, coconut, and pandanus, a knobby fruit resembling a large pinecone. World War II and the nuclear testing that followed damaged local crops and created a stigma around local foods, which residents of islands affected by fallout had been warned by the U.S. not to eat. Some people were forced to relocate to desolate islands where growing food was impossible. Imported white rice, canned meats, refined sugar, and other cheap, processed foods filled the gap. Diabetes rates soared.

In Enid, it seemed like almost everyone I met had diabetes. In fact, the Marshallese have the second highest rate of Type II diabetes in the world. While the illness can be controlled, it becomes gruesome if not properly managed. Complications can escalate to blindness, nerve damage, and serious infections, which can require amputation.

Joseia’s diabetes is acute. Her kidneys are failing, and she needs dialysis. But there’s nowhere for her to get it in Enid without insurance. When her condition gets bad enough she can be admitted to an emergency room – but only in a crisis……..

Marshallese also bear the rare burden of radiation-related illness. Cancer killsmore Marshallese citizens than any other disease but diabetes, and according to a 2004 report by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, it is likely some radiation-related cancers have yet to develop or be diagnosed in people who lived on the islands between 1948 and 1970………

Mote is an optimistic guy, and a relentless jokester. He claims that “tired” is not part of his vocabulary. He hesitates to speak badly about anyone.

But watching Enid’s Marshallese families get sick so often, listening to them fret about coming up with rent money, going to all the funerals – it does wear on him. He constantly fields requests for help, but there’s only so much he can do; his toehold in the city bureaucracy is still tenuous. He’d like to run for a seat on the city council, but without citizenship he’s ineligible. Mote believes that if Oklahomans understood more about the history and culture of the islands, they might be more sympathetic to the plight of their people. But he also acknowledges that Enid, which is more than 80 percent white, “has a lot of issues with race” to overcome first.

“I don’t want to blame someone,” Mote said, when I asked what he thought the U.S. owed the Marshallese. “But yes, I feel frustrated sometimes, to see all these people getting sick every day, dying every day… If the state is not going to help us, and the government is not listening to us, who will help us?” He went on, “Do we just scatter our stuff and leave Oklahoma?”…….http://narrative.ly/how-years-of-ruthless-nuclear-testing-in-the-south-pacific-forged-americas-most-impoverished-ethnic-group/

July 21, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea’s motivation for having nuclear weapons? To Deter a U.S. Attack

North Korea Wants to Deter a U.S. Attack. That’s Why It Has Nukes. Truth Dig Jul 17, 2017 By Col. Ann Wright / Consortiumnews Despite the rhetoric from the Trump administration about military confrontation with North Korea, the common theme of many U.S. experts on North Korea is that the U.S. presidential administration must conduct a dialogue with North Korea—and quickly. Military confrontation is not an option, according to the experts.

And most importantly, the new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, was elected in May 2017 on a pledge to engage in talks with North Korea and pursue diplomacy to finally officially end the Korean conflict. Nearly 80 percent of South Koreans support a resumption of long-suspended inter-Korean dialogue, according to a survey by a presidential advisory panel showed in late June.

On June 28, 2017, six former high-level experienced U.S. government officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations over the past 30 years sent a letter to President Trump stating that “Kim Jong Un is not irrational and highly values preserving his regime. … Talking is not a reward or a concession to Pyongyang and should not be construed as signaling acceptance of a nuclear-armed North Korea. It is a necessary step to establishing communication to avoid a nuclear catastrophe. The key danger today is not that North Korea would launch a surprise nuclear attack. Instead the primary danger is a miscalculation or mistake that could lead to war.”

The experts:

–William J. Perry, 19th U.S. Secretary of Defense under the Clinton administration,

–George P. Shultz, 60th Secretary of State under the Reagan administration and now Distinguished Fellow, Hoover institution, Stanford University,

–Former Gov. Bill Richardson, U.S. Secretary of Energy and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Clinton administration,

–Robert L. Gallucci, former negotiator in the Clinton administration and now with Georgetown University,

–Sigfrid S. Hecker, nuclear weapons expert and the last U.S. official to visit the North Korea nuclear facilities and now with the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University,

— Retired U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Indiana, now President of the Lugar Center,

They wrote: “There are no good military options, and a North Korean response to a U.S. attack would devastate South Korea and Japan. Tightening sanctions can be useful in increasing pressure on North Korea, but sanctions alone will not solve the problem. Pyongyang has shown that it can make progress on missile and nuclear technology despite its isolation. Without a diplomatic effort to stop its progress, there is little doubt that it will develop a long-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the United States.”

The experts ended their letter to President Trump calling for quick action: “Today, there is a window of opportunity to stop these programs, and it may be the last chance before North Korea acquires long-range capability. Time is not on our side. We urge you to put diplomacy at the top of the list of options on the table.”…….http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_united_states_double_standard_with_north_korea_20170717

July 21, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Methane from thawing permafrost could be increasing the rate of global warming

Thawing permafrost poses even greater global warming threat than previously thought, suggests study As the world warms, methane trapped underneath the frozen tundra could be released, increasing the rate of warming in a vicious circle, The Independent,  Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent  @montaukian 19 July 17 Runaway global warming is, without a doubt, a nightmare scenario for humanity.

As the temperature rises, it has knock-on effects that drive the mercury higher still in a vicious circle that the likes of Professor Stephen Hawking have warned could turn the Earth into a planet like Venus, where it’s a balmy 250 degrees Celsius and the rain is made of sulphuric acid.

One of the most feared of these feedback loops is the vast amount of organic material currently trapped in permafrost, which would release methane and other greenhouse gases in large amounts given the right conditions.

And now a team of researchers has discovered another significant source of emissions that would result from the thawing of the tundra. For the frozen ground acts as a cap on much more ancient gas deposits, preventing them from escaping into the atmosphere.

These seeps were known about, but just how important they would be was poorly understood.

The new study, of 10,000 square kilometres of the Mackenzie Delta in Canada, found that the seeps there were responsible for 17 per cent of the total emissions from the land even though they were only found in about one per cent of the area, according to a paper in the journal Scientific Reports……..

the thawing of permafrost in places like the coastal plains of North Alaska and the major river basins of Siberia could open up new methane seeps.

By studying the Mackenzie Delta, Professor Sachs said the researchers had opened “a window into the future”.

How big an effect this new source of methane would be was “speculative”, he added, adding that further study was needed to try to work this out. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/thawing-permafrost-global-warming-climate-change-glaciers-antarctic-threat-mackenzie-delta-a7849211.html

July 21, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The Iran nuclear deal is working

Iran nuclear deal is working
 The Editorial Board, USA TODAY  July 20, 2017 Facts get in the way of Trump’s plan to dismantle Obama’s agreement: Our view “…..
This week, for the second time since taking the oath of office, Trump grudgingly stood by the deal Iran reached with the United States and five other nations in 2015. He certified that Tehran was complying with strict terms that bar the nation from creating enough fissile material for building a nuclear weapon.

Why the turnaround? The answer is simple: The agreement is working.

With a few minor exceptions that have nothing to do with proliferation — each quickly corrected when discovered by inspectors — Tehran has abided by limits on stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, heavy water for nuclear plant operation and centrifuges for enriching uranium. Last year, for example, Iran poured concrete into the core of its only heavy-water plant capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, ruining it..

All these matters and more are monitored continuously and stringently by inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They use permanently placed cameras and electronic seals to track whether valves, stockpiles or other indicators have been altered. They conduct in-person inspection of 19 declared sites and, despite Iranian officials claiming that military bases are off limits, can see any other location where they suspect something might be amiss. Should Iran object, and a negotiation process that can take no longer than 24 days fails to satisfy inspectors’ demands, the nuclear deal can be abrogated.

Iran has used the unfreezing of assets to re-engage the world’s economy, including with a $3 billion Boeing airliner deal that could create or sustain 18,000 American jobs.

 To be sure, the Iran nuclear deal has its flaws. Iran can resume its nuclear programwithin 15 years. The release of frozen assets has allowed the underwriting of Tehran’s militancy. Predictions that the deal would moderate the regime in Tehran have proved naive…….

bad actor without nuclear weapons is better than a bad actor with nuclear weapons. Imagine how much safer the world would be if a similar deal had been struck with North Korea years ago, before it could threaten to incinerate part of the United States. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/07/20/iran-nuclear-deal-working-editorials-debates/488460001/

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Chicago at last to clean up its radioactive thorium pollution

Chicago park will finally be cleansed of radioactive waste, By  (• July 20, 2017 

Chicago has a bit of a thorium problem.

The radioactive element, once heavily used in the making of gas light mantels, can now be found in contaminated superfund sites across the city. One of those sites also happens to be the long-delayed and much-anticipated DuSable Park in the downtown Streeterville neighborhood. While the park is on the Chicago Park District’s website, it has not been programmed or developed in any way. Now, 30 years after its founding, the park is set to finally be cleared of its radioactive waste, enabling its development into a usable public space……

July 21, 2017 Posted by | environment, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa, with excellent renewable resources, does not need expensive, dirty, nuclear power

Nuclear energy development under the spotlight http://bereamail.co.za/114003/nuclear-energy-development-under-the-spotlight/, 1 July 17 

“The money planned to build the power stations can be used to improve our ailing education system.” THE jury is still out on why a country like South Africa, rated number five on the world as best suitable for renewable energy, would want to build eight new nuclear power stations at cost of R1 trillion.

Should the 9,600MW of nuclear capacity project go ahead, it could be one of the world’s biggest nuclear contracts in decades. The South African Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI) and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SADCEA) held a Nuclear Court Case Feedback workshop, at Diakonia on Friday, following their landmark victory at the Western Cape High Court, which saw government’s notorious nuclear deal agreements with Russia, the United States and South Korea set aside and declared unlawful and unconstitutional.

According to Lydia Mogano, who is Safcei’s regional coordinator, a nuclear energy development in South Africa will have negative socio-economic and environmental implications on ordinary citizens.

“Electricity tariffs are already high, with residents paying close to R1.50 per unit, but with nuclear energy they will pay R1.80 and above, making it even more difficult for them survive. Even the government’s own research done by the CSIR, shows that we do not need nuclear at all and renewable energy will be much cheaper. Nuclear energy demand is on the decline across the world, it takes 10 to 15 years to build a nuclear power station. Research done by CSIR shows that solar provides 70 percent of energy globally,” Mogano said.

Despite critics saying the country does not have the money, necessary skills to procure, build, operate, maintain and regulate six new nuclear power stations, Presient Jacob Zuma, addressing Parliament last month, said government still intended to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a “pace and scale” that the country could afford. He further added that building nuclear power stations would “bring dividends and profits for many thousands of years to come.”

However, Mogano said funds planned to build the power stations could be used to improve our ailing education system, the backlog of houses millions of people still needed houses and improvements could be made to the country’s water and sanitation systems.

Legal representative for Safcei and Earthlife, Adrian Pole, who was also in attendance said: “Transparency in the nuclear procurement process, including access to cost estimates and feasibility studies, has been at the heart of this case. Public participation without that kind of information being made available would render it, in itself, unfair.”

Environmental activist Desmond D’sa said should the nuclear energy development not go ahead, the R240 million that has already been spent on two years of research needs to be accounted for. According to industry executives, regulators and scientists with proper management, vigilance and safety enhancements, a nuclear power plants lifespan is 40-70 years and the decommission costs the same amount as when you build it.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Legal, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Japan planning to export nuclear technology to India

All approvals in place, Japan nuclear deal comes into force http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/all-approvals-in-place-japan-nuclear-deal-comes-into-force/articleshow/59690053.cms, By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau| Jul 21, 2017 NEW DELHI: The landmark Indo-Japanese civil nuclear deal signed in November 2016 came into force from Thursday that would enable Japan to export nuclear power plant technology as well as provide finance for nuclear power plants in India.

Japan would also assist India in nuclear waste management and could undertake joint manufacture of nuclear power plant components under the Make in India initiative, persons familiar with the development told ET.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is expected to visit India this September and growing civil nuclear ties will be highlighted as one of the key elements of Indo-Japan strategic partnership.

Japanese industrial conglomerate Toshiba — which owns Westinghouse — will have a major role when US nuclear major supplies technology for the pair of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh. Since June, this will be the third major development in India’s civil nuclear outreach beginning with pacts with Russia for Units 5 & 6 for Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant anfirst uranium shipment from Australia. 

Last November India and Japan signed a landmark civil nuclear cooperation deal — upgrading MoU at the 2015 Annual summit. Subsequently, the Japanese government got approval from the Diet for the nuclear deal with India. The two countries had reached a broad agreement for cooperation in civil nuclear energy sector during Abe’s visit to India in December 2015. Hitachi, also from Japan, has stakes in GE, which has also proposed to set reactors in India.

India is the only non-NPT signatory with which Japan has entered into a civil nuclear deal in what can be described as a recognition for Delhi’s impeccable non-proliferation record, said a person familiar with the matter. American nuclear major

July 21, 2017 Posted by | India, Japan, marketing | Leave a comment

Nuclear and Renewable power really don’t work well together

German nuclear damage shows atomic and renewable power are unhappy bedfellows, Euractiv, By Dagmar Dehmer | Der Tagesspiegel | translated by Sam Morgan 20 July 17 A Germany nuclear plant was damaged because its operators increased and decreased its output to respond to energy grid fluctuations. The incident supports the theory that nuclear and renewable energy generation are incompatible. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Finland’s TVO wins partial ruling in nuclear reactor dispute with Areva

Reuters 19 Jul 17 

*Olkiluoto nuclear project almost decade late* Finnish TVO, French Areva claim billions from each other

* Final decision seen coming in early 2018 (Adds comments, detail)

By Jussi Rosendahl and Benjamin Mallet HELSINKI/PARIS, July 20  – Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said on Thursday it had received another favourable partial decision from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in its long-running dispute with nuclear reactor supplier Areva.

The companies are claiming billions of euros from each other due to years of delays and cost overruns on the Olkiluoto 3 EPR reactor project in southwest Finland.

The new partial ruling addressed preparation, review, submittal, and approval of design and licensing documents on the project…..

The cost of Olkiluoto 3 was initially estimated at 3.2 billion euros ($3.7 billion), but Areva in 2012 estimated the overall cost at closer to 8.5 billion euros……http://www.reuters.com/article/tvo-areva-arbitration-idUSL5N1KB1V4

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Finland, Legal | Leave a comment

Time to abandon the V.C. Summer nuclear project and avoid $10 billion more in costs

Report: Summer nuke could cost up to $10B more, should be abandoned, Utility Dive Peter MaloneyJuly 20, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • report by Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School finds that continuing construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear project could add as much as $10 billion to South Carolina ratepayers’ bills.
  • The report argues for the abandonment of the project, saying that even though $9 billion has already been spent or committed, dropping Summer now would save significant amounts of money. The paper provides a preview of the testimony the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth plan to present to the South Carolina Public Service Commission in October.
  • A separate report filed with regulators by plant owners Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas last year found that Santee’s reserve margin could reach up to 44% once the reactors are completed, and SCE&G’s could hit 27% before declining, according to The State.

​Dive Insight:

The V.C. Summer nuclear project being built by South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper was already over budget and behind schedule when Westinghouse Electric, the project’s equipment supplier and contractor, went bankrupt.

The owners now face the tough decision of whether or not to push ahead with project.

The report from the Vermont Institute, “The Failure of the Nuclear Gamble in South Carolina,” argues that the project should be abandoned and ratepayers should be issued refunds because of imprudence on the part of SCE&G…….http://www.utilitydive.com/news/report-summer-nuke-could-cost-up-to-10b-more-should-be-abandoned/447482/

July 21, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Utah’s White Mesa Uranium Mill – will the State allow further pollution from this site?

Don’t let this uranium mill repeat history http://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-pollution-a-uranium-mill-in-utah-threatens-to-repeat-a-history-of-pollution The White Mesa Mill’s license is up for renewal under the Trump administration. Stephanie Malin  July 19, 2017 Tucked inside the Trump administration’s proposed budget is $703 million in funding for nuclear weapons. Although that’s about 30 percent less than last year, you would hardly know it here in the heart of Utah’s canyon country, where the nation’s last operating conventional uranium mill — the White Mesa Mill — is forging ahead.

 The mill sits on an arid mesa just a few miles east of the newly established Bears Ears National Monument, with Monument Valley to the south and Canyonlands National Park to the north, and is owned by a subsidiary of the Canadian energy giant Energy Fuels Resources, which also owns and operates uranium mines around the Grand Canyon. Today, despite a litany of risks, Energy Fuels Resources is asking Utah to renew the mill’s license, which expired in 2007 and has been in “timely renewal” ever since.

Energy Fuels has influential friends, including high-powered lobbyists Andrew Wheeler, who worked on the Trump campaign and was involved with transition planning, and Mary Bono, the former California congresswoman and widow of Sonny Bono. So far, Utah seems to be welcoming the permit renewal as an economic boon for rural San Juan County, though the mill is staunchly opposed by its nearest neighbors — the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and White Mesa residents who are mostly tribal members. Few have forgotten what happened to two towns and surrounding communities after uranium mills there were shuttered.

When the Monticello uranium mill closed, the environmental mess it left behind became two federal Superfund sites, one of which encompassed the entire community of Monticello. A $250 million taxpayer-funded cleanup effort ensued, even as cancers, respiratory problems, reproductive issues, allergies and birth defects plagued the residents of this small uranium town. In decades earlier, child and adolescent leukemia clusters appeared in the community. Residents suspected these ailments were linked to long-term uranium exposure, and a 2007 Utah Department of Health study found the mill to be a “plausible” cause of elevated rates of certain cancers.

 In both Moab and Monticello, uranium mills have permanently contaminated the groundwater and poisoned surface water, both scarce resources in the arid West. Adding insult to injury, the Moab mill owner declared bankruptcy and stuck taxpayers with the cleanup bill. The site still isn’t completely cleaned up, and with cuts to the Department of Energy’s budget, cleanup could be delayed indefinitely. Why, despite this history of mismanagement just up the road from White Mesa, do state regulators seem content to let history repeat itself?

Already, the problems that have emerged at the White Mesa Mill look a lot like the problems plaguing Monticello and Moab. The shallow groundwater aquifer underneath the mill is contaminated with heavy metals, and the bond posted by the company to fund cleanup is laughably low — about $22 million, which is less than a fifth of professional cleanup-cost estimates.

 If Utah regulators fail to stand up for the public interest now, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, southeastern Utahns, and ultimately American taxpayers risk paying a high price. But nowhere are the risks higher than in White Mesa. The tribal community is immediately down-gradient and often downwind from the mill. Community members describe finding rainbow-colored meat when butchering animals hunted near the mill site. When the wind blew from the direction of the mill, people kept their children inside, reporting that they smelled strong chemical odors.

In both 2012 and 2013, the mill’s own reports show that it emitted more radon — a cancer-causing air pollutant — than the Clean Air Act allows. And in 2015, 2016 and 2017, radioactive spills occurred as materials were transported to the mill for processing. Numerous cases of cancer have been reported in White Mesa, although no epidemiological studies have begun.

Still, Utah regulators seem unconvinced that the risks are real, and now, the state has opened the mill’s license renewal to public comment. With Energy Fuels lobbying in Utah and in Washington, D.C., Americans have only until July 31, 2017, to urge regulators to stop continued environmental injustice at White Mesa. Email comments to dwmrcpublic@utah.gov with the subject line: “Public Comment on White Mesa RML Renewal” or submit comments by mail to Scott Anderson, Director, Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control, P.O. Box 144880, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4850.

 At the very least, state regulators should require Energy Fuels to post a substantial bond to guarantee that the company pays for the mill’s cleanup. It’s time to stop asking taxpayers to pay for an industry’s toxic mess

July 21, 2017 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s policies mean serious damage to climate science research

‘Frightening’: Senior climate scientist warns of potential Donald Trump damage http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/frightening-senior-climate-scientist-warns-of-potential-donald-trump-damage-20170719-gxe3xm.html, Peter Hannam, 20 July 17  Budget cuts to key US climate programs proposed by President Donald Trump are “frightening” for the global science community, threatening to set back recent advances, a leading international researcher says.

Valerie Masson-Delmotte,  co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group, said the planned cuts were “a major worry” given America’s outsized contribution to the global research.

“I cannot hide the huge anxieties about the strength of research capacities in the US in the coming years,” Dr Masson-Delmotte said.

Geosciences, including climate research, face cuts of as much as 40 per cent, including the scrapping for four climate-related satellites. “It’s a major worry given the weight of the US scientific communities” in this field, she said.

US work includes as much as 30 per cent of ocean climate research, and running core data centres used by international researchers. Such cuts, if applied, would be difficult for US universities – or other nations – to fill.

Cuts proposed by Australia’s CSIRO in monitoring of the Southern Ocean stirred similar concerns last year before a public outcry prompted the Turnbull government to step in to create a special climate centre with longer-term funding guaranteed.

China has significantly increased its ocean monitoring and climate modelling work “but it is not sufficient to cover what would happen if such a big player as the US would reduce their effort”, said Dr Masson-Delmotte, who is also a senior scientist at France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement at the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace.

While researchers continue to expand knowledge of how the rise in greenhouse gases is causing a build-up in planetary heat, important gaps remain.

Research priorities include increasing observations in remote regions, such as Antarctica, where melting ice could trigger global sea-level rises of metres over centuries if the giant sheets collapse.

More understanding is also needed about feedback processes, which could amplify climate change and trigger abrupt shifts such as in ocean circulation patterns.

A third priority is the development of models that can correctly project the changes, particularly on a regional scale.

The sixth IPCC assessment report is due to be completed in 2021, with special reports on the impacts of a 1.5-degree warming, the cryosphere, and climate change effects on land set for release in the next two years.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment