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Banning weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear ones – theme for September 2017

You might think that it’s naive to be talking about banning nuclear weapons, in this present climate of international tension. Yes, an international agreement to ban them is not going to get rid of nuclear weapons overnight, or indeed, anytime soon.

BUT – as things stand now, nuclear weapons, held by all the so virtuous States –  USA, Britain, France, India, China Pakistan, Israel, (- and now North Korea)  – are accepted as respectable ,  defensive, necessary

The idea of the world recognising weapons of mass destruction as unacceptable is not new.  It’s been done before.

Human beings, after all, are social animals, and their greatest successes have been achieved by co-operation. Years of co-operative effort by intelligent and thoughtful people have shed light on the humanitarian horror of mass killings, and mass sufferings of those who survived such attacks.

Under the auspices of he United Nations, the concerted efforts of so many have brought about  the recognition that mass murder is unacceptable, and has been judged to be illegal.  No, these threats have not been completely eliminated. But they have been vastly diminished, and no leader can get away with pronouncing them to be acceptable or necessary.

The United Nations Ban on  the use of chemical and biological weapons in warfare was signed in 1925, and  strengthened in 1997 in the  the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) 

The United Nations Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) came into force in 1975.

In both cases, these agreements outlawed  the development, stockpiling, acquisition, retention, and production of these inhumane weapons, and reaffirmed the 1925 ban on their use.

These bans, agreed on by 178 nations  (the BWC), 192 (the CWC) have been further developed over many years of successive conventions, the most recent being in November 2016.

There’s  a wealth of information on the effects of nuclear weapons production and use – not just the immediate effects on victim communities, but the pervasive global effect on climate, agriculture and teh world’ s food supply.

Right now, we all live under a terrible threat of nuclear war. It is surely time to make a start on removing that threat. The United Nations Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty is that start.


September 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Christina's themes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) call on all European nations to sign the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Nuclear weapons modernised as nations prepare to ban them, TONY ROBINSON 3 September 2017, DiEM25 calls on all European nations to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty as a matter of human survival., 3 Sept 17,   North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, which it apparently conducted today, comes while the world’s other nuclear powers are arming up. All nine of the world’s countries with nuclear weapons are investing massively in modernising them, according to a new report out last week by SIPRI. This is despite a reported 3% reduction of 460 weapons in 2017.

The USA and Russia between them hold 93% of the world’s arsenal, with thousands on hair-trigger alert and ready to be launched within seconds of the order being given. According to SIPRI, to take one example, the USA is due to spend up to $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

This terrifying statistic stands against another published by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), who are holding their international congress on September 4 in the UK city of York. Their 2013 report, prepared for a conference studying the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, indicates that a limited nuclear war with the use of 100 warheads dropped on cities would lead to a nuclear winter that could end the lives of up to 2 billion people.

These worrying numbers have led civil society campaigns such as ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, to heavily promote a nuclear weapons ban treaty, bringing nuclear weapons in line with chemical and biological weapons as legally prohibited weapons of mass destruction.

After years of promoting efforts to get the UN to agree to such a treaty, this year in June the text of a treaty was approved after negotiations with over 120 states.The treaty will be opened for signing during the UN General Assembly in September this year. With the signature and ratification of 50 States, the treaty comes into force.

DiEM25 believes that nuclear weapons have no place in European security doctrines and that all nuclear weapons should be removed from European territory, be they British, French, American or Russian. We call on all European nations to sign the Ban Treaty as a matter of human survival.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The problem facing the world – dealing with a nuclear North Korea

North Korea: What can actually be done to deal with a nuclear Pyongyang?, ANALYSIS By chief foreign correspondent Philip Williams, From the first tweak of the seismograph it was clear this was no ordinary tremor — it signalled the most powerful bomb of all.

The North Korean TV newsreader announced with a flourish this was the state’s first hydrogen bomb.If that now means Pyongyang has the weapon and the delivery system that could wipe out a Los Angeles, a San Francisco or a Sydney in a flash, then the world is now a different place.

Nuclear weapons are supposed to be a deterrent — make yourself so dangerous no-one will ever dare challenge you — and it is a fact that barring some Scuds aimed at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War and some border skirmishes between China and Vietnam and India and Pakistan, no nuclear-armed state has ever faced a serious attack by another country.

Clearly the thinking for three generations of Kim is that the regime is made safe if everyone fears you. And the clear impression you are crazy helps too — no-one wants to aggravate a disturbed mind.

But what to do? US President Donald Trump has described the test as hostile and dangerous and said Pyongyang “only understands one thing”.

Appeasement was not working, he said, and the rogue nation has become a “great threat and embarrassment” to China. He later tweeted the US was considering “stopping trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.

That would include both China and Russia. While both signed on to the latest UN sanctions, cutting trade altogether would be a far more serious step.

Beijing would have to cut off oil supplies and Moscow send back the North Korean labourers who “volunteer” to work in Siberian forestry camps in what have been described as slave-like conditions.

The whole region and beyond is in a fix. China especially is feeling the squeeze from the United States, and even Australia has argued Beijing has not applied full muscle against North Korea to mend its errant ways.

But the Chinese Government has agreed to the latest sanctions and deeply resents the assertion it could stop Kim Jong-un if it really wanted to. There is nothing for the Chinese to gain from a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

Not only would there be the risk of nuclear contamination, what really worries Beijing is the thought of millions of refugees pouring over the border seeking shelter from a nuclear storm. Not to mention the terrible human and economic cost of shattered neighbours.

The constant refrain from Mr Trump and Malcolm Turnbull for China to do more and do it now could soon become counterproductive. Beijing’s influence on North Korea’s leadership is often overstated.

Its troublesome neighbour has repeatedly embarrassed China by testing bombs or missiles at an inopportune moment. This latest test happened at the opening of a major BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) conference held in China and hosted by President Xi Jinping.

Not only was his thunder stolen, he and guest Vladimir Putin were forced to issue a joint statement condemning the test but urging a negotiated solution. Mr Trump underlined that via a tweet, saying: “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

For his part, the US leader has wedged himself with rhetoric — it was only a couple of days ago he said the time for talking was over. But what does that leave?

The US military will have its plans ready, just in case. And Mr Trump is the only person with power to order what would be the destruction of North Korea. Is he really contemplating the death of millions, the ruin of cites on both sides of the 38th parallel?

Only if North Korea crosses his red lines. Do they exist in the seas off Guam, Hawaii, or the West coast of the mainland itself?

Surely Mr Kim and his predecessors have not come all this way to self-destruct. After all, these bombs and missiles are supposed to protect, not trigger an end game conflict. No party to this conundrum wants this to happen.

But the scene is set, the main players less than predictable and the talk tough. North Korea will never willingly trade away its newfound military clout, it is seen as vital for survival, but successive US presidents have made it clear they will never live with a nuclear armed and able North Korea.

It is a country that revels in regular threats to wipe out entire US cities. It is no longer trash talk that can be ignored and no-one, it seems, has a plausible answer.

One commentator suggested arming both South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons to act as a foil to the North. That would mean five countries in the region with the ability to erase entire cities from the planet.

Our once relatively safe and increasingly prosperous neighbourhood is taking a serious turn for the worse. Only two people on the planet can change all that, and neither is showing signs there is a safe way out.

Asked by a reporter if the US would attack North Korea, Mr Trump said: “We’ll see.”

September 4, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea claims to have successfully tested hydrogen bomb

North Korea says it successfully tested hydrogen bomb, marking sixth nuclear test since 2006, ABC News, 3 Sept 17,  North Korea has said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), producing a greater yield than any of its previous nuclear tests.

Key points:

  • Previous recent tremors in North Korea have been caused by nuclear tests
  • Tremor came hours after state media said Kim Jong-un inspected new hydrogen bomb
  • Witnesses on the Chinese side of the border said tremor lasted roughly 10 seconds

The hydrogen bomb test ordered by leader Kim Jong-un was a “perfect success” and was a “meaningful” step in completing the country’s nuclear weapons programme, according to state television.

The announcement came hours after a large quake that appeared to be man-made was detected near the North’s known nuclear test site, indicating that the reclusive country had conducted its sixth nuclear test since 2006.

The tremor struck within a kilometre of the site of a magnitude-5.3 “nuclear explosion” from September last year, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

South Korea said this most recent test appeared to be several times stronger than its previous test, estimating the nuclear blast yield was between 50 to 60 kilotons — or five to six times stronger than the North Korea’s fifth test a year ago…….

September 4, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A warning to energy policy planners, about nuclear power

Nuclear Power: Caveats for Energy Policy 

Nuclear Power: Caveats for Energy Policy, Speaker: Prof. Derek Abbott, University of Adelaide, 1st Sept 2017. Is nuclear power globally scaleable? World energy consumption is 15TW. Energy efficiency could save perhaps 13TW. Consider 10 billion light bulbs in the world and replacing them with LEDs.

This could save 50GW – the output of 50 nuclear plants. Just the IEA countries alone in 2015 saved energy equivalent to the power consumption of the whole of Japan. If we were to seriously scale up to 15,000 nuclear stations we would only have 25 years worth of uranium left.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Japan’s Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant runs into trouble yet again

Nuclear plant operator halts uranium production, operator of a uranium enrichment plant in northern Japan has suspended uranium production to see if there are problems with its quality control system.

The plant in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture, is the only commercial facility in Japan to enrich uranium for nuclear power generation. A division of Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited that operates the plant was ordered to improve its quality control system last year.

It reported to the president that steps were taken, which turned out not to be true.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority then approved measures to prevent similar irregularities. The operator met the government requirements for producing uranium in May.

In one of a series of safety mishaps, a fire started at an emergency power generator. The operator had failed to replace parts for 28 years, more than 10 years longer than recommended by the manufacturer.

Officials at the authority said they wonder if the operator has the ability to determine problems and challenges. Japan Nuclear Fuel decided to take uranium out from enrichment facilities and once again check quality control problems.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

31 out of 32 South Carolina lawmakers received money from the utility and owners of failed V.C. Summer nuclear project

SCANA has given money to nearly all South Carolina lawmakers probing the failed nuclear project, Post and Courier, By Thad Moore, Sep 2, 2017  All but one of the 32 lawmakers investigating the demise of the V.C. Summer nuclear project have taken campaign contributions from the utility responsible for building it, highlighting the extent of the power industry’s lobbying efforts in Columbia.

The overwhelming majority have received funds from SCANA Corp., parent company to S.C. Electric & Gas Co., its subsidiaries and political action committees within the last two years, according to a Post and Courier review of campaign finance records. They include 14 who took contributions this year as uncertainties surrounding the construction project mounted.

Those lawmakers, who sit on twin House and Senate committees formed last month, are now tasked with probing what went wrong with the project, which cost $9 billion before construction was halted in July. They’re also responsible for forming ideas on how to limit the financial fallout and create safeguards that prevent another energy failure like it.

The lone lawmaker who didn’t receive contributions was Republican Kevin Hardee of Loris, which is outside of SCE&G’s service territory.

SCANA doesn’t cut big checks — it typically gives individual legislators $500 to $1,000, the maximum for a single election cycle — but critics say the steady dribble of contributions helped build warm relationships under the Statehouse dome.

The Cayce-based utility has also given tens of thousands of dollars to legislative caucus groups, and it spends around $200,000 a year to lobby the General Assembly, with a crew of eight lobbyists to monitor legislation and advance its message.

“They make them because they’re basically trying to gain access,” said Frank Knapp, president and chief executive of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, which has called for a ban on utility contributions. “They’re just not after good government. They’re looking for some return on their investment.”

[on original: – details of names of politicians and amounts of money given to each] Continue reading

September 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The well -kept secrets of depleted uranium and the toxic economy of war in Iraq

Invisibility and the Toxic Economy of War in Iraq, by Toby C. JonesIn April 2008 a small US engineering firm—Stafford, Texas-based MKM Engineers—brought to a close almost two decades of toxic cleanup work on a former US military facility just west of Kuwait City. Seventeen years earlier, in July 1991, a defective heating unit on a military vehicle loaded with 155mm artillery shells at Camp Doha caught fire and ignited a devastating inferno. The blaze injured several dozen people and damaged scores of other vehicles, including several highly prized M1A1 tanks.[1]

Thousands of artillery shells cooked in fire, setting off an extended explosive chain reaction. Ricocheting debris and bursting ordinance sent base personnel scurrying for safety in what quickly came to be known as the Doha Dash.[2] The fire also unleashed a toxic plume. Seared metal—the detritus of broken war machines and spent artillery—always leaves a hazardous legacy. But the base was also home to thousands of 120mm anti-tank depleted uranium (DU) artillery shells, weapons forged from the waste of the American nuclear fuel cycle. DU weapons are both radioactive and toxic. Normally, depleted uranium not put to military or other industrial use, is handled and stored as hazardous waste. The American Environmental Protection Agency and the Pentagon today have strict guidelines in place for its handling with both recognizing it as a danger to human and environmental health. At Camp Doha over 600 of the nuclear waste-turned-weapons detonated in the fire, coating the sky with noxious black smoke and dust that drifted for miles.[3]
Although having been informed over many years that DU, particularly its chemical toxicity, constituted a threat to health and environments, the US military limited its effort to address the mess in Kuwait.[4] Damaged machines were quietly returned to the US either to be scrubbed or destroyed. Spent weapons and some contaminated sand were packaged into barrels, many of which were shipped to remote parts of the Kuwaiti desert and buried. Claiming that it had only a minimal legal obligation to address the fallout and commit to the recovery of the environment around the base, the US abandoned the cleanup job only partially completed by the end of 1991.
Halliburton, the giant oil services company, carried out additional work on the site after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. But it was not until 2008 that the area around Camp Doha was fully neutralized and the danger abated by engineers from Texas. Financed by the Kuwaiti military, MKM Engineers oversaw the final excavation of the site, digging up almost 7,000 tons of toxic and irradiated sand. Once unearthed the poisoned sand was loaded aboard the container ship BBC Alabama and shipped thousands of miles away to the Port of Longview, Washington, nestled on Columbia River in the southwestern part of the state. From there, the sand was transported by rail to a private hazardous waste facility outside of Boise, Idaho where it was permanently buried.[5]
The details of the fire at Camp Doha and its toxic legacy—in which the US military forsake its responsibility to ameliorate a toxic site, only to have much of the site itself ultimately transported back to the US for final treatment and disposal, are absurd.
The global movement of hazardous waste remade as weapons in the United States and put to use the Middle East, in this case to be returned as waste years later, is remarkable and disturbing.
Beyond the details of the fire at Camp Doha, though, why does this episode help us think critically and more broadly about economies and political economies of war?
Below I suggest we set aside more conventional ways of thinking about the value of weapons and arms in war economies, particularly the oft-reported details of the monetary value of weapons bought and sold between global powers. (from monetary to exchange) Weapons systems are always also parts of environmental and health economies and ecologies. To think about this in part, I point toward broader visibility and invisibility as well as how we might use the environmental and health impacts of DU weapons’ use — which remain little known and more disturbingly, often deliberately obscured from view—to expand our frame of what a war economy includes and how parts of it are able to function.
It is the furtive character of DU weapons manufacturing, its testing (primarily and secretly in the American southwest), the scale of its use, and ultimately, the nature and impact that result, that makes it simultaneously difficult to investigate, but also so useful for the American military and its clients.
I suggest that the relative invisibility of DU weapons systems is more than just an idiosyncratic footnote to wars in the Middle East more generally. While non-DU weapons have almost certainly killed more people, caused more damage, and profited investors more significantly, the power of smaller systems and their secretive character transcends their relative “market share.” In one way this has to do with broader politics of visibility and war.
Much happens, from profit to pain, out of sight. War and those it benefits carry on much more easily, and perhaps enthusiastically, as a result. Indeed, the invisibility of key aspects of war and its wages create small, but critical access ways for a broader range of private, corporate and political interest to benefit. They also bracket off or diminish suffering of various kinds, including long term environmental and health impacts.
The magnitude of the damage done in Kuwait was relatively small compared to the devastation of war elsewhere, particularly in Kuwait’s northern neighbor Iraq, where the country was ravaged by the long American war there between 1991 and 2011.[6] The small cost of the Camp Doha fire, perhaps around $40million, is minor in comparison to the trillions of dollars of spent on war and damage in Iraq.[7] And while weapons manufacturing and sales, and the routine exchange of billions of dollars in oil revenues for American weapons and military systems, are critical for understanding the importance of the political economy of war in the Middle East—and its global entanglements—depleted uranium weapons, while not insignificant, make up a small fraction of the amount of weapons industry’s profit on wars in the region.
Since the 1970s when depleted uranium waste first began to be fashioned into weapons designed to destroy Soviet tanks, the total number of DU weapons manufactured is unknown. Made in small batches and designed primarily to destroy heavy armor, depleted uranium’s total production likely numbers in the hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds, millions of smaller caliber shells, as well as armor for tanks and other uses. Whatever the actual scale of production over decades, the United States military used DU weapons extensively against military and non-military targets in Iraq between 1991 and 2011—as well as in Afghanistan and Syria.[8] The Pentagon has been unwilling to disclose the full extent of its use of DU weapons, though anecdotal evidence from various media suggests it was widely deployed from Basra to Falluja against human and non-human targets.
The broader context and story around Camp Doha—in which DU weapons were made in places like Concord, Massachusetts, tested in places like Los Alamos, New Mexico, used in Iraq and Kuwait, finally disposed of by a firm from Texas in a global network that passed from the northern Persian Gulf to Idaho—enrolled and touched upon thousands of people, generated an unknown amount of damage and profit, and yet has remained almost entirely unknown. This invisibility is not trivial. Rather, it is productive, arresting the possibility of scrutiny, operating on multiple small levels simultaneously and over time, rendered local rather than caught up in the much broader networks of which it is a part, and almost entirely uncontested because the unseen is unseen.

The making and circulation of weapons, typically easily monetized and measured, are only one way to think through the cost of war and the character of its economies. There is a second dimension to the productive power of toxic invisibility for war-makers as well. Because so much around depleted uranium is deliberately mystified and withheld – a pattern that is at odds with how militaries often conspicuously celebrate the power of their weapons systems—military and political authorities have also been able to deny claims about its most pernicious toxic effects. While all war results in long lasting environmental, infrastructural, and embodied suffering, toxic weapons produce consequences that are particularly devastating and long lasting. Given their molecular qualities and the scientific and medical difficulty in linking particular cases of exposure to illness, and especially because they mete out their violence over years and decades—slow violence—the damage they do often persist well after that last bombs were dropped.

In spite of the Pentagon’s efforts to obscure the scale of the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and elsewhere as well as what amounts to obstruction of investigation into DU’s effects, Iraqi scientists and doctors, often assisted by global observers, have documented some of health and environmental damage done. The environmental and health impact has been significant and generational. In the face of extensive epidemiological and other evidence, the US military, alongside its allies that employ it in battle as well, deny the toxic dangers of DU weapons. Whatever the arguments put forward by other observers that DU’s hazardous effects are yet unproven, and there are many, claims of uncertainty are not driven by science, but by politics.[9] The evidence that DU causes health and environmental calamity is overwhelmingly understood to be true except to those who have an interest in believing otherwise.

Beyond the politically driven quest for scientific certainty around depleted uranium’s impact on Iraqi bodies and environments, much is lost. Because the impact of DU is denied by those with the power to potentially neutralize its effects, toxic DU dust is left suspended in Iraqi food systems, coated along infrastructure, lodged in the organs and bones bodies, passed on through childbirth, and left on scraps of metal destroyed in the war that themselves have become commodities exchanged in the country’s postwar economy. Iraqis in particularly affected areas come into constant contact with it. Their exposures are repeated and routine and, yet, remain unmeasured and untreated. And while experts can deny the linkage or withhold certainty about the connections between militarized toxins and affected communities, significant networks of suffering exist.

Indeed, alongside the weapons and the political economic terms of their production, use, and the veils that shroud them, the need for care in war-ravaged communities are the “other side” of these small parts of war economies. The injured and sick, particularly those who face long struggles as a result of toxic exposures, are also central to making sense of the economy of war.[10] Suffering and care, then, must also be accounted for not as the afterlife of war, but as central to our moral and economic calculations of what it involves in the first place. Like depleted uranium weapons themselves, the scale and cost of care and the struggle over health are too easily unseen and uncounted.[11]

[1] Associated Press, “56 Soldiers Hurt in Kuwait Blast,” New York Times, 12 July 1991,

[3] Thomas D. Williams, “The Depleted Uranium Threat,” Truthout, 13 August 2008,

[4] For one early example such a warning, see Wayne C. Hanson, “Ecological Considerations of Depleted Uranium Munitions,” Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, United States Atomic Energy Commission, June 1974.

[5] Williams, op cit. See also, Snake River Alliance, “Tons of Waste Shipped to Idaho From Kuwait,”; Penny Coleman, “How 6,700 Tons of Radioactive Sand from Kuwait Ended up in Idaho,” Alternet, 16 September 2008,

[6] Toby Craig Jones, “America, Oil and War in the Middle East,” Journal of American History 99, no. 1 (June 2012): 208-218,

[7] Daniel Trotta, “Iraq War Costs more than $2 trillion: Study,” Reuters, 14 March 2013, On the cost of the Camp Doha fire, see

[8] Samuel Oakford, “The United States Used Depleted Uranium in Syria,” Foreign Policy, 14 February 2017,

[9] Toby Craig Jones, “Toxic War and the Politics of Uncertainty in Iraq,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 46 no. 4 (October 2014).

[10] See Omar Dewachi, Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq (Stanford University Press, 2017).

[11] Omar Dewachi, “The Toxicity of Everyday Survival in Iraq,” Jadaliyya, August 13, 2013.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | depleted uranium, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Japan will fully insure bank loans for costly UK nuclear projects!

Hitachi UK reactors to get full Japanese loan insurance, Lenders seek guarantees as nuclear projects face post-Fukushima cost overruns, 2 Sept 17,  TOKYO — Japan intends to fully insure bank loans for one of Hitachi‘s British nuclear plant projects in order to encourage domestic lenders to finance a particularly risky type of infrastructure export that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government seeks to promote.

 When Abe met with U.K. counterpart Theresa May here Thursday, the two leaders reaffirmed bilateral cooperation on nuclear plant construction. Japan’s support will include coverage for two reactors at the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear station in Wales — a rare example of loan insurance for a project in an advanced economy.

State-owned Nippon Export and Investment Insurance will write the loan insurance for reactors, which Hitachi will build through British arm Horizon Nuclear Power. The Japanese conglomerate, together with Tokyo and London, will conduct working-level talks to hash out a funding support framework, with the aim of breaking ground in 2019.

The project is estimated to cost over 2 trillion yen ($18.1 billion). Hitachi, the U.K. government and two state-backed entities — Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan — are expected to pick up part of the tab. But private-sector financing will also be needed to close the funding gap.

NEXI, which normally indemnifies private lenders for 90-95% of financing, will enter into talks with Japanese banks toward fully guaranteeing loans for the Wylfa project.

Nuclear project costs have tended to balloon since since Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster owing to increased safety precautions. Seeing a higher risk of debt default, Japanese megabanks Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Bank have sought full coverage by NEXI for any loans for nuclear plant development. Such insurance typically covers financing for projects in developing countries. NEXI is expected to impose conditions, such as a loan period of several decades, in return for an exception.

An accident or other troubles at the plant could expose BTMU and Mizuho to lawsuits from third parties because the banks would bear responsibility for financing the project. The two banks will decide on Wylfa financing based partly on discussions between Tokyo and London concerning damage compensation.

A default on the Wylfa loans would entail a taxpayer-funded repairs to the balance sheets of NEXI and JBIC. The loan insurance proposal is likely to spark a debate on whether promoting infrastructure exports in this way is worth the risk. The Abe government, for its part, will try to use the NEXI assurances to elicit more funding, public and private, from the British side.

With little prospect of constructing new reactors in Japan following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, domestic builders have focused their business offshore. Chinese state-owned enterprises are undertaking more global infrastructure projects, emboldening those who argue that Japan will be left behind in the race for overseas orders unless the country takes risks. In 2015, the U.K. became the first developed nation to approve a Chinese-made reactor.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Japan, marketing, politics, UK | Leave a comment

San Onofre nuclear waste agreement – not likely to be a real solution

San Onofre nuclear waste agreement offers hope for some, an ‘illusion’ for others, San Diego Union-Tribune Rob NikolewskiContact Reporter, 3 Sep 17

Or is an out-of-court settlement announced last week just more of the same?

The attorneys for the plaintiffs who initiated the case describe the agreement as an important step toward finally soothing the nerves of many of the 8.4 million people in Southern California who live within a 50-mile radius of SONGS.

But the settlement has not assuaged a number of other activists, united in their antagonism for the utility that manages the now-shuttered plant, who consider the agreement practically toothless and say it offers false hope.

Stranded spent fuel is hardly unique to SONGS. Nuclear waste has piled up at plants across the country, nearing 80,000 metric tons, with the industry adding about 2,200 tons each year.

The federal government was supposed to come up with a long-term storage solution but has never opened a working site.

Michael Aguirre, the former City Attorney of San Diego who is one of the lead attorneys in the plaintiffs’ case, said he understands the scope of the problem.

What the settlement lays out

The settlement came after months of private negotiations between the plant’s operators, Southern California Edison, and a pair of the utility’s harshest critics. It was approved Monday afternoon by San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes.

Under the agreement, Edison will adhere to a quicker schedule to inspect and maintain the canisters containing SONGS waste and will produce a contingency plan should any of them crack or leak. The utility also pledged to give progress reports on a monthly, and then quarterly basis.

In addition, the deal stipulates that Edison make a good faith effort to look at sites to send SONGS waste. That includes spending $4 million to hire a team of experts to develop a strategy. In what Aguirre says is a critical element, the agreement is enforceable by the court, meaning the judge will retain authority to make sure its terms are carried out…….

Potential sites to send SONGS waste

Getting the waste off the beach at San Onofre has long been a priority for many who live in the area. California has a notable history of seismic activity, fueling fears of a Fukushima-like tsunami and SONGS is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean to the west and Interstate 5, one of the busiest freeways in the U.S., to the east.

The agreement specifically mentions three sites that could potentially accept SONGS spent fuel.

One is the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, located about 50 miles from Phoenix. Even before Monday’s announcement, Aguirre mentioned Palo Verde as a logical place for San Onofre’s waste because Edison is a part-owner at Palo Verde, with a 15.8 percent stake.

Last year an official with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said in an email to the Union-Tribune that Palo Verde used a different storage design than San Onofre.

The same day the settlement was announced, the utility that operates Palo Verde, Arizona Public Service, said it is not interested in accepting any spent fuel from SONGS……

The agreement also mentions two other sites, one in West Texas and one in southeastern New Mexico.

Each of the sites are categorized as “consolidated interim storage” facilities — based in relatively isolated locations that would require consent from their local communities to accept nuclear waste……..

The West Texas site is more problematic.

Located near the town of Andrews, Texas, the facility is owned by a company called Waste Control Specialists. The site already stores low-level radioactive waste but its plans to expand have been put on hold because of financial problems……..

The Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility criticized the plansaying it would “require transporting the waste twice, once to the temporary location and then again to a permanent facility, essentially doubling the transport risk.”

The group supports moving the waste within the premises of Camp Pendleton.

“It would address the issue of sea level rise,” said Denise Duffield, the group’s associate director. “One of the greatest risks associated with irradiated fuel is terrorism; it is hard to think of a better location to protect it (than) within a Marine base.”………

September 4, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Without any outcry, Donald Trump triggers a new arms race, promising $billions in new nuclear weapons contracts

Trump Quietly Promises Billions in New Nuke Contracts, This could trigger a new arms race with Russia and China. The American Conservative By SCOTT RITTER • September 1, 2017  “………Nuclear Armageddon was a pervasive reality during the Cold War, and America had an arsenal and doctrine to make it a reality. Again, flashbacks from my childhood make it all-too real: F-100 fighter-bombers carried nuclear bombs on air-strip alert at an air base in Turkey. F-106 fighter-interceptors armed with nuclear “Genie” air-to-air missiles were on constant air patrol over the skies of Michigan. My father told my mother how he never wanted to be assigned to Strategic Air Command because the “Chrome Dome” mission was insane—packs of nuclear-armed B-52 bombers constantly in the air, flying towards the Soviet Union only to be called back on a routine basis……..

September 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hanford will miss deadline to tear down plutonium-contaminated plant

,Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY, 3 Sept 17,  Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant will not be torn down by the legal deadline at the end of September.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, USA | Leave a comment

Nikki Haley , US Ambassador to the United Nations shows her ignorance of the Iran nuclear agreement

Haley’s remarks show US envoy’s ignorance of JCPOA text: Iran FM, Press TV, 3 Sept 17 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the recent remarks by US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley show her lack of familiarity with the content of the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

“What Ms.Haley has declared mostly show her ignorance of the text of the [nuclear] agreement in all fields, about which she expressed her opinion,” Zarif said in an interview with the official news website of the Iranian administration,, published on Saturday.

He added that the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a “completely clear and transparent” agreement, adding that the level of monitoring has been determined in it.

He said the JCPOA has been negotiated and written very precisely and has a complete framework with specified approaches in all fields.

Underlining the Islamic Republic’s stance, Zarif tweeted later on Saturday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certifies Iran’s commitment to the nuclear agreement according to the provisions and conditions outlined in the deal, “not the ulterior motives of US officials, nor of lobbyists.”

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany – signed the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Under the nuclear agreement, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking at a news conference in New York on August 25, Haley called on the IAEA to request access to Iranian military sites, in what is regarded as an attempt by Washington to undermine the JCPOA, which is a multilateral nuclear deal.

“We are encouraging the IAEA to use all the authorities they have and to pursue every angle possible with the JCPOA, and we will continue to support the IAEA in that process,” she said.

The IAEA is tasked with monitoring Iranian compliance with the deal, a basically technical matter that falls within the agency’s area of expertise. The IAEA has consistently verified that Iran has been in compliance since the start of the implementation of the deal.

In reaction to Haley’s comments, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on August 27 that the European countries of the P5+1 group must counter the US unilateral policies and said they should not allow any country to unilaterally undermine the JCPOA.  ……

September 4, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

A Canadian expert’s view: ‘We are not well prepared for climate change’

‘We are not well prepared’: An expert’s view of climate change and the next big storm, The federal government has struck an expert panel to consider adaptation, By Aaron Wherry, CBC News  Sep 03 How ready are we to cope with the impacts of climate change?”Quite honestly, I believe we are not well prepared,” says Blair Feltmate, a professor at the University of Waterloo and the new chair of an expert panel struck by the federal government to consider what Canadians and their governments should do to prepare.

It was an interesting week for such a panel to be announced.

Houston, of course, is under water. On a smaller scale, thousands of residents in and around Windsor, Ont., were flooded by record rainfall, the second time the area has dealt with historic flooding in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, wildfires in northern Manitoba prompted evacuations from several communities.

The degree to which any single disaster can be linked to climate change will perhaps always be debatable, but these are the sorts of events we have been told to expect: stronger storms, floods and fires.

But then this week only adds to the worrisome tally. Recent years in Canada have been marked by such events as flooding in Calgary and Toronto, and forest fires in Alberta and British Columbia.

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that climate change is here and the negative impacts associated with the manifestation of extreme weather are significant,” Feltmate says, “and we now need to be working to counter those negative impacts.”

Countering those impacts will require public resources, individual action and political will.

The problem of climate change effectively has to be approached from two directions.

The first is mitigation: reducing the carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere in order to limit further warming and, hopefully, avoid the most catastrophic consequences.

The second is adaptation: preparing communities and individuals to deal with the already unavoidable consequences of climate change, given the amount of carbon we’ve pumped into the atmosphere.

It is the first approach that is most often discussed. It is the second that Feltmate and his fellow panelists are being asked to study.

Threat of flood and fire

Feltmate considers flooding the primary concern.

Storms are capable of dumping enough water in a short enough period of time to overwhelm city sewer systems. As cities have grown, fields and forests have been paved over, leaving water fewer places to go. Urban infrastructure is aging. And homeowners have developed their basements into living space, increasing the cost of damages.

Insurers have been paying out for the consequences. The fire in Fort McMurray, Alta., last year cost a record $3.7 billion. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, spring flooding around Ottawa cost $223 million in insured damages……

September 4, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Trump is considering abandoning trade agreement with South Korea – (strange timing!)

Amid Nuclear Tensions, Trump Mulls Exit From South Korea Trade Deal, NYT,  SEPT. 2, 2017, WASHINGTON — President Trump is considering pulling out of a major trade agreement with South Korea as he tries to fulfill get-tough campaign pledges on international trade. But he has not yet made a final decision, two senior administration officials said Saturday.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment