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USA plans for seizing North Korea’s nuclear weapons if the regime fails

North Korea nuclear weapons up for grabs if regime falls, THE United States has revealed what would happen if it entered North Korea and what its first objective would be after entering. Debra Killalea and AFP news.com.auDECEMBER 19, 2017  WASHINGTON has told China how it plans to secure North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a Kim regime collapse.

The plan, which aims to avoid a clash between the rival powers, was revealed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week and would see America enter North Korea searching for weapons.

During a talk to the Atlantic Council last week, Mr Tillerson said the Trump administration has provided assurances to Beijing that if US troops landed in North Korea they would do their job, but would not stay.

The comment aimed to reassure China that the United States would not occupy North Korea if the Kim regime fell.

Beijing views North Korea as a buffer state preventing the 28,500 US troops in South Korea from camping on its doorstep.

Mr Tillerson said the US and China “have had conversations about in the event that something happened — it could happen internal to North Korea; it might be nothing that we from the outside initiate — that if that unleashed some kind of instability, the most important thing to us would be securing those nuclear weapons they’ve already developed and ensuring that they — that nothing falls into the hands of people we would not want to have it.”

He said the US was not seeking regime collapse or that the country planned to send forces north of the demilitarized zone. …….

Beijing had refused US calls to discuss the possible collapse of its neighbour for years, but according to Mr Tillerson top US and Chinese military officials have finally met to discuss the once-taboo topic.

New York-based Political analyst and Asian specialist Sean King told news.com.au he wasn’t sure what to make out of Mr Tillerson’s remarks.

Mr King, a senior vice-president of Park Strategies, said Mr Tillerson’s thinking appears out of sync with that of US President Donald Trump……. http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-up-for-grabs-if-regime-falls/news-story/9fc2e4d7df97e4fdfe35d593484e88a3

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December 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Government advisers urge China to prepare for war: anxiety over North Korea

‘North Korea is a time bomb’: government advisers urge China to prepare for war,  http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2124613/north-korea-time-bomb-government-advisers-urge-chinaThe risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula is the highest its been in decades and Beijing must mobilise resources for fallout, observers say, SCMP, Wendy Wu, China must be ready for a war on the Korean peninsula, with the risk of conflict higher than ever before, Chinese government advisers and a retired senior military officer warned on Saturday.

Beijing, once seen as Pyongyang’s key ally with sway over its neighbour, was losing control of the situation, they warned.

“Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” said Renmin University international relations professor Shi Yinhong, who also advises the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Shi said US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un were locked in a vicious cycle of threats and it was already too late for China to avert it. At best, Beijing could stall a full-blown conflict.

“North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator,” Shi said on the sidelines of a Beijing conference on the crisis.

Addressing the conference, Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, warned that war could break out on the Korean peninsula at any time from now on until March when South Korea and the United States held annual military drills.

“It is a highly dangerous period,” Wang said. “Northeast China should mobilise defences for war.”

Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies affiliated with China’s foreign ministry, said conditions on the peninsula were at their most perilous in half a century.

“No matter whether there is war or peace, regretfully, China has no control, dominance or even a voice on the issue,” he said.

China might already be preparing for the worst.

Last week, Jilin Daily, the official newspaper of the province bordering North Korea, published a full page of advice for residents on how to respond to a nuclear attack.

A document purportedly from telecom operator China Mobile about plans to set up five refugee camps in Jilin’s Changbai county also surfaced online last week.

Wang said the Jilin Daily article was a “signal to the country to be prepared for a coming war”.

He said China was also worried about the threat North Korea’s frequent nuclear tests were posing to unstable geological structures in the region.

Nanjing University professor Zhu Feng said that no matter how minor the possibility, China should be prepared psychologically and practically for “a catastrophic nuclear conflict, nuclear fallout or a nuclear explosion”.

“Why do we always act like ostriches? Why do we always believe a war won’t occur?” Zhu said.

“What China needs is a sense of urgency about its declining influence in strategy related to the peninsula and the way it brings down China’s status and role in East Asian security issues.”

He also said Kim’s failure to meet Chinese envoy Song Tao during his trip to Pyongyang last month was a “humiliation” for China.

Meanwhile at the United Nations in New York, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on China and Russia to increase their efforts to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

Tillerson also backtracked on his previous unconditional offer for talks by saying that Washington would not negotiate with Pyongyang until it stopped “threatening behaviours”.

North Korean ambassador to the UN Ja Song-nam accused the United States, Japan and the United Nations Security Council of waging a hostile campaign to stop Pyongyang from gaining nuclear weapons that it saw as necessary to defend itself.

Renmin University professor Shi said hopes for peace could not rest on Kim and Trump, and China and Russia should work together to argue against war.

In a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping said war on the peninsula was not acceptable.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump administration looks to use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear attacks

US could broaden its use of nuclear weapons, Trump administration signals
Wider role for weapons to counter ‘non-nuclear strategic attacks’ unveiled as part of Trump’s new security strategy, which also failed to address climate change,
Guardian, Julian Borger , 19 Dec 17, The Trump administration signaled that it could broaden the use of nuclear weapons as part of a new security strategy, unveiled by the president on Monday.

The wider role for nuclear weapons against “non-nuclear strategic attacks” was one of several ways in which Trump’s approach differed from his predecessor. The threat of climate change went unmentioned. The word “climate” was used only four times in the National Security Strategy (NSS), and three of those mentions referred to the business environment. Americans were instead urged to “embrace energy dominance”.

Announcing the NSS, Donald Trump depicted his election victory and his presidency as an unprecedented turning point in US history……..

Under the slogan of “peace through strength”, Trump emphasised the military buildup he had ordered, involving what the president described (wrongly) as a record in defence spending, $700bn for 2018.

“We recognise that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unrivaled power is the most certain means of defence,” he said.

The NSS policy document criticises the downgrading of the role of nuclear weapons in the US security strategy by previous administrations since the cold war, and suggested it had not prevented nuclear-armed adversaries expanding their arsenals and delivery systems.

“While nuclear deterrence strategies cannot prevent all conflict, they are essential to prevent nuclear attack, non-nuclear strategic attacks, and large-scale conventional aggression,” the NSS said.

“Non-nuclear strategic attacks” represents a new category of threat that US nuclear weapons could be used to counter, and points towards likely changes in the Nuclear Posture Review expected in the next few weeks…….

Hans Kristensen, the director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists. “It’s a taste of what will come in the Nuclear Posture Review. What is interesting is the broadening of the nuclear weapons mission against non-nuclear attacks. The question is – are we creating more pathways to potential nuclear war?”

Much of Trump’s speech launching the NSS was devoted to denigrating his predecessors, who he portrayed as having let their country down.  They lost sight of America’s destiny. And they lost their belief in American greatness. ……https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/18/nuclear-weapons-trump-national-security-strategy

December 20, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The humanitarian climate disaster – here already – climate refugees

governments and organizations such as the United Nations should consider modifying international law to provide legal status to environmental refugees and establish protections and rights for them.

The scale of this challenge is unlike anything humanity has ever faced

Climate change will displace millions in coming decades. Nations should prepare now to help them, https://theconversation.com/climate-change-will-displace-millions-in-coming-decades-nations-should-prepare-now-to-help-them-89274  The Conversation, Gulrez Shah Azhar Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School, 20 Dec 17, Wildfires tearing across Southern California have forced thousands of residents to evacuate from their homes. Even more people fled ahead of the hurricanes that slammed into Texas and Florida earlier this year, jamming highways and filling hotels. A viral social media post showed a flight-radar picture of people trying to escape Florida and posed a provocative question: What if the adjoining states were countries and didn’t grant escaping migrants refuge?

By the middle of this century, experts estimate that climate change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million people. If this group formed a country, it would be the fourth-largest in the world, with a population nearly as large as that of the United States.

Yet neither individual countries nor the global community are completely prepared to support a whole new class of “climate migrants.” As a physician and public health researcher in India, I learned the value of surveillance and early warning systems for managing infectious disease outbreaks. Based on my current research on health impacts of heat waves in developing countries, I believe much needs to be done at the national, regional and global level to deal with climate migrants.

Millions displaced yearly

Climate migration is already happening. Every year desertification in Mexico’s drylands forces 700,000 people to relocate. Cyclones have displaced thousands from Tuvalu in the South Pacific and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. Experts agree that a prolonged drought may have catalyzed Syria’s civil war and resulting migration.

Between 2008 and 2015, an average of 26.4 million people per year were displaced by climate- or weather-related disasters, according to the United Nations. And the science of climate change indicates that these trends are likely to get worse. With each one-degree increase in temperature, the air’s moisture-carrying capacity increases by 7 percent, fueling increasingly severe storms. Sea levels may rise by as much as three feet by the year 2100, submerging coastal areas and inhabited islands.

The Pacific islands are extremely vulnerable, as are more than 410 U.S. cities and others around the globe, including Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lisbon and Mumbai. Rising temperatures could make parts of west Asia inhospitable to human life. On the same day that Hurricane Irma roared over Florida in September, heavy rains on the other side of the world submerged one-third of Bangladesh and eastern parts of India, killing thousands.

Climate change will affect most everyone on the planet to some degree, but poor people in developing nations will be affected most severely. Extreme weather events and tropical diseases wreak the heaviest damage in these regions. Undernourished people who have few resources and inadequate housing are especially at risk and likely to be displaced.

Recognize and plan for climate migrants now

Today the global community has not universally acknowledged the existence of climate migrants, much less agreed on how to define them. According to international refugee law, climate migrants are not legally considered refugees. Therefore, they have none of the protections officially accorded to refugees, who are technically defined as people fleeing persecution. No global agreements exist to help millions of people who are displaced by natural disasters every year.

Refugees’ rights, and nations’ legal obligation to defend them, were first defined under the 1951 Refugee Convention, which was expanded in 1967. This work took place well before it was apparent that climate change would become a major force driving migrations and creating refugee crises.

Under the convention, a refugee is defined as someone “unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” The convention legally binds nations to provide access to courts, identity papers and travel documents, and to offer possible naturalization. It also bars discriminating against refugees, penalizing them, expelling them or forcibly returning them to their countries of origin. Refugees are entitled to practice their religions, attain education and access public assistance.

In my view, governments and organizations such as the United Nations should consider modifying international law to provide legal status to environmental refugees and establish protections and rights for them. Reforms could factor in the concept of “climate justice,” the notion that climate change is an ethical and social concern. After all, richer countries have contributed the most to cause warming, while poor countries will bear the most disastrous consequences.

Some observers have suggested that countries that bear major responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions should take in more refugees. Alternatively, the world’s largest carbon polluters could contribute to a fund that would pay for refugee care and resettlement for those temporarily and permanently displaced.

The Paris climate agreement does not mention climate refugees. However, there have been some consultations and initiatives by various organizations and governments. They include efforts to create a climate change displacement coordination facility and a U.N. Special Rapporteuron Human Rights and Climate Change.

It is tough to define a climate refugee or migrant. This could be one of the biggest challenges in developing policies.

As history has shown, destination countries respond to waves of migration in various ways, ranging from welcoming immigrants to placing them in detention camps or denying them assistance. Some countries may be selective in whom they allow in, favoring only the young and productive while leaving children, the elderly and infirm behind. A guiding global policy could help prevent confusion and outline some minimum standards.

Short-term actions

Negotiating international agreements on these issues could take many years. For now, major G20 powers such as the United States, the European Union, China, Russia, India, Canada, Australia and Brazil should consider intermediate steps. The United States could offer temporary protected status to climate migrants who are already on its soil. Government aid programs and nongovernment organizations should ramp up support to refugee relief organizations and ensure that aid reaches refugees from climate disasters.

In addition, all countries that have not signed the United Nations refugee conventions could consider joining them. This includes many developing countries in South Asia and the Middle East that are highly vulnerable to climate change and that already have large refugee populations. Since most of the affected people in these countries will likely move to neighboring nations, it is crucial that all countries in these regions abide by a common set of policies for handling and assisting refugees.

The scale of this challenge is unlike anything humanity has ever faced. By midcentury, climate change is likely to uproot far more people than World War II, which displaced some 60 million across Europe, or the Partition of India, which affected approximately 15 million. The migration crisis that has gripped Europe since 2015 has involved something over one million refugees and migrants. It is daunting to envision much larger flows of people, but that is why the global community should start doing so now.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

USA’s National Security Strategy now excludes mention of climate change

Trump Drops Climate Threats from National Security Strategy, Scientific American, The president claimed yesterday that the true danger to U.S. security is not climate change, but regulations By Jean ChemnickClimateWire on December 19, 2017 President Trump argued yesterday that the true threat to national security is not climate change but regulations that get in the way of U.S. economic and energy “dominance.”

Trump introduced his first National Security Strategy, in which he broke from the Obama administration in not listing climate change as a chief threat. His remarks at times sounded like an economic address, frequently veering into discussion of tax and trade, industrial deregulation, and a celebration of the stock market. Trump insisted that wealth and national security go hand in hand.

“Economic vitality, growth and prosperity at home is absolutely necessary for American power and influence abroad,” he said in an address that heavily focused on global competition over cooperation……

It was a sentiment that permeated the 56-page security strategy, and in particular the section titled “Embrace Energy Dominance,” which dealt with energy and climate issues…….

Sherri Goodman, a member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board, said Trump’s dismissal of climate change was misguided and could undermine U.S. competitiveness……. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-drops-climate-threats-from-national-security-strategy/

December 20, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump vows to take ‘ALL NECESSARY STEPS’ against North Korea nuclear missiles

DONALD Trump has vowed to take “all necessary steps” to stop North Korea’s nuclear arms race as tyrant Kim Jong-un bids for recognition as a nuclear power. Express UK, By REBECCA PINNINGTON, 20 Dec 17 Vowing  America would stand up for itself like never before, the US president vowed to tackle Kim’s hurried arms testing “head on”.

Mr Trump said the US had made an “unprecedented effort” to isolate dictator Kim’s regime in a bid to put a stop to the frenzied nuclear developments.

However, he said: “There is much more work to do. America and its allies will take all necessary steps to ensure denuclearisation and ensure that this regime cannot threaten the world.”

Mr Trump said: “This situation should have been taken care of long before I got into office, when it was much easier to handle. But it will be taken care of. We have no choice.”…….“In addition, many actors have become skilled at operating below the threshold of military conflict—challenging the United States, our allies, and our partners with hostile actions cloaked in deniability.”

Mr Trump also labelled China and Russia “rival powers” in the landmark speech, outlining his administration’s national security strategy……

 The strategic document says: “They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.”…….https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/894210/Donald-Trump-US-North-Korea-all-necessary-steps-nuclear-missile-denuclearisation

December 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Reported execution of North Korean official in charge of nuclear facilities

North Korean official in charge of nuclear facilities reportedly executed https://www.upi.com/North-Korean-official-in-charge-of-nuclear-facilities-reportedly-executed/2561513650935/, By Jennie Oh Dec. 18, 2017 SEOUL, South Korea,  (UPI) A senior North Korean official in charge of construction works on nuclear facilities is believed to have been executed, Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

A former North Korean soldier told the Japanese daily there have been unconfirmed reports that a director of Bureau 131 was recently removed from his position then executed for allegedly disclosing military secrets.

Bureau 131, or the General Bureau of Atomic Energy, is a subsidiary of the ruling Worker’s party, responsible for construction works on the North’s major nuclear and missile facilities, including the main nuclear test site of Punggye-ri and the Tongchang-ri missile launch pad.

The director is believed to have worked as a specialist at the bureau since its establishment. The Asahi report suggests his sentence may have been delivered due to the delayed timing of the regime’s sixth nuclear test, and the collapse of tunnels following the massive underground blast.

A source told the paper, “It seems he took the blame as the prolonged mining of the nuclear facility pushed back the test date to September when it was initially set for spring.”

North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test at the Pyunggye-ri nuclear facility on September 3, claiming to have tested a powerful hydrogen bomb.

The artificial explosion reportedly caused buildings and grounds in the vicinity to collapse, and has since triggered a series of landslides and aftershocks.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear research facilities named as no-drone zones

FAA names seven nuclear research labs as no-drone zones  Drones are now prohibited from flying within 400 feet of the facilities.Engadget  Mariella Moon@mariella_moon  20 Dec 17  The FAA has granted DOE’s request to make seven of its facilities no-drone zones — and they’re all nuclear research laboratories. Starting on December 29th, you can no longer fly your UAVs within 400 feet of Hanford Site in Franklin County Washington, Pantex Site in Panhandle Texas, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Idaho National Laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken South Carolina, Y-12 National Security Site in Oak Ridge Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Some of them are no longer operational — the Hanford site where plutonium was produced for the nuclear bomb detonated over Nagasaki, for instance, is now mostly decommissioned — but some are still active……https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/19/faa-nuclear-research-labs-no-drone-zone/

December 20, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Jim Green exposes the nuclear lobby’s lies about bananas

“The more the nuclear industry claims eating plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine and other fuel and fission products is OK because bananas exist and because the potassium is a needed nutrient, the more I consider them to be blatant liars.”

The Banana Equivalent Dose of catastrophic nuclear accidents, Jim Green, Online Opinion, 20 December 2017, http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19475&page=0

The ‘Nuclear for Climate’ lobby group recently attended the United Nations’ COP23 climate conference armed with bananas, in order to make specious comparisons between radiation exposures from eating bananas and routine emissions from nuclear power plants.

One of the reasons the comparison is specious is that some exposures are voluntary, others aren’t. Australian academic Prof. Barry Brook said in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster: “People don’t understand that they live in an environment that is awash with radiation and they make decisions every day which affect their radiation dose ‒ they hop on an airplane or eat a banana or sit close to the TV.” True ‒ but people choose to hop on an airplane or eat a banana or sit close to the TV, whereas radiation doses from nuclear plants and nuclear accidents are usually involuntary.

Another reason why the comparison made by ‘Nuclear for Climate’ is specious is that it ignores spikes in radioactive emissions during reactor refueling. Radiation biologist Dr Ian Fairlie notes that when nuclear reactors are refueled, a 12-hour spike in radioactive emissions exposes local people to levels of radioactivity up to 500 times greater than during normal operation. The spikes may explain infant leukemia increases near nuclear plants − but operators provide no warnings and take no measures to reduce exposures.

The comparison between bananas and nuclear power plants also ignores the spike in emissions and radiation doses following catastrophic accidents. So, what’s the Banana Equivalent Dose (yes, that’s a thing) of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters?

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the collective effective dose from Chernobyl was 600,000 person-Sieverts. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation estimates radiation exposure from the Fukushima disaster at 48,000 person-Sieverts.

Combined, exposure from Chernobyl and Fukushima is estimated at 648,000 person-Sieverts. Exposure from eating a banana is estimated at between 0.09-2.3 microSieverts. Let’s use a figure of 0.1 microSievert per banana. Thus, exposure from Chernobyl and Fukushima equates to 6,480,000,000,000 Banana Equivalent Doses ‒ that’s 6.48 trillion bananas or, if you prefer, 6.48 terabananas or 6,480 gigabananas.

End-to-end, that many 15-cm (6-inch) bananas would stretch 972 million kilometres ‒ far enough to reach the sun 6.5 times over, or the moon 2,529 times over.

Potassium cycle

Another reason the comparison made by ‘Nuclear for Climate’ is specious is explained by Dr Gordon Edwards from the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility:

“[T]he body already has a lot of “natural” potassium including K-40 [which is unavoidable], and any new “natural” potassium ingested is balanced by eliminating a comparable amount of “natural” potassium to maintain the “homeostasis” of the body. In other words the body’s own mechanisms will not allow for a net increase in potassium levels – and therefore will not allow for an increase in K-40 content in the body.

“Here’s what the Oak Ridge Associated Universities has to say; (ORAU was founded in 1946 as the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.): ‘The human body maintains relatively tight homeostatic control over potassium levels. This means that the consumption of foods containing large amounts of potassium will not increase the body’s potassium content. As such, eating foods like bananas does not increase your annual radiation dose. If someone ingested potassium that had been enriched in K-40, that would be another story.’

“The same argument does not work for radioactive caesium, or for any of the radioactive pollutants given off by a nuclear power plant, because most of these materials do not exist in nature at all – and those that do exist in nature are not subject to the same homeostatic mechanism that the body uses to control potassium levels. Consequently any foodstuffs or beverages containing radioactive caesium or other man-made radioactive pollutants will cause an additional annual dose of ionizing radiation to the person so exposed.”

Likewise, Linda Gunter explained in a 16 November 2017 article:

“At the COP23 Climate Talks currently underway in Bonn, a group calling itself Nuclear for Climate, wants you to slip on their false banana propaganda and fall for their nonsensically unscientific notion that bananas are actually more dangerous than nuclear power plants! I am not making this up. Here is the picture.

“The oxymoronic Nuclear for Climate people are handing out bananas complete with a sticker that reads: “This normal, every-day banana is more radioactive than living near a nuclear power plant for one year.” …

“If you smell something rotten in this banana business, you are right. So let’s peel off the propaganda right now. In short, when you eat a banana, your body’s level of potassium-40 doesn’t increase. You just get rid of some excess potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.

“To explain in more detail, the tiny radiation exposure due to eating a banana lasts only for a few hours after ingestion, namely the time it takes for the normal potassium content of the body to be regulated by the kidneys. Since our bodies are under homeostatic control, the body’s level of potassium-40 doesn’t increase after eating a banana. The body just gets rid of some excess potassium-40.

“The banana bashers don’t want you to know this and instead try to pretend that the potassium in bananas is the same as the genuinely dangerous man-made radionuclides ‒ such as cesium-137 and strontium-90 ‒ that are released into our environment from nuclear power facilities, from atomic bomb tests and from accidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

“These radioactive elements, unlike the potassium-40 in bananas, are mistaken by the human body for more familiar elements. For example, ingested radioactive strontium-90 replaces stable calcium, and ingested radioactive cesium-137 replaces stable potassium. These nuclides can lodge in bones and muscles and irradiate people from within. This is internal radiation and can lead to very serious, long-lasting and trans-generational health impacts.”

An unfortunate incident in Goiania, Brazil in September 1987 illustrates the hazards of cesium-137, a fission product. Two people stole a radiotherapy source from a disused medical clinic. A security guard did not show up to work that day; he went instead to the cinema to see ‘Herbie Goes Bananas‘. The radiotherapy source contained 93 grams of cesium-137. It was sold to a junkyard dealer. Many people were exposed to the radioactive cesium and they spread the contamination to other sites within and beyond the town. At least four people died from exposure to the radiation source and, according to the IAEA, “many others” suffered radiation injuries. Those injured included eight patients who required surgical debridments, amputation of the digital extremities and plastic skin grafts. The incident was rated Level 5 (‘Accident with Off Site Risk’) on the 7-point International Nuclear Event Scale.

Terrorists don’t arm themselves with bananas

There is a long history of nuclear power plants being used directly and indirectly in support of nuclear weapons programs. Bananas are of no interest to nuclear weapons proliferators. There’s no Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Bananas, no Comprehensive Test Banana Treaty, no Anti-Banana Missile Treaty. Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump aren’t threatening each other with bananas; not yet, at least.

Nuclear historian Paul Langley notes that terrorists don’t arm themselves with bananas:

“The potassium cycle in humans is no excuse for nuclear authorities anywhere on the planet to claim any benefit or natural precedent for the marketing of nuclear industry emissions contaminated food.

“The fission products are not nutrients. Do not eat them. The nuclear industry promises to keep its radioactive sources sealed. When the industry invariably fails in this undertaking, it turns around and claims that the residue of its pollution is like a banana. Crap. The residue is like the residue of a rad weapon. Fact. It’s the same stuff. Terrorists do not attempt to arm themselves with bananas. They are not dangerous.

“Radio Strontium, Radio Iodine, Radio cesium have NO PLACE in food. Nuke is not clean, it is not green and it relies on lies it has concocted over decades. … The more the nuclear industry claims eating plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine and other fuel and fission products is OK because bananas exist and because the potassium is a needed nutrient, the more I consider them to be blatant liars.”

December 20, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Netherlands tax-payers up for costs of nuclear maintenance, including for research reactor

Updating and cleaning up Dutch nuclear industry could cost state €400m http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/12/updating-and-cleaning-up-dutch-nuclear-industry-could-cost-state-e400m/ Updating the Netherlands nuclear industry could cost the state up to €400m, according to a review by four senior civil servants and quoted in Tuesday’s Volkskrant. Officials from the economic affairs, health, environment and finance ministries were asked to assess the cost of the clean-up and update by previous health minister Edith Schippers.

They say the biggest financial hit will come from demolishing the Dodewaard nuclear power station which was shut down in 1997. The government has insisted until now that the bill is paid by the power station’s shareholders, which include Vattenfall, the Volkskrant points out. However, the report indicates civil servants now assume the shareholders will default and put the cost of that project to the state at up to €200m.

A further €100m will be needed to deal with nuclear waste created at the Petten reactor – which makes medical isotopes. That waste is currently stored above ground near the Borselle nuclear power station and the state has paid €200m towards disposing of Petten’s waste over the past 20 years, the report says. In addition, the officials say that a ‘rough estimate’ of €60m to €100m will be needed to build a new reactor at Petten – another issue which the state has always assumed will be privately funded.

 Confidential The Volkskrant says the report is notable because it is virtually identical to one sent to parliament in July, although that report did not contain the financial details. At the time, a finance ministry spokesman told the paper the figures were confidential. However, the paper has now been published on the website containing all the documents used during the formation of the current government and was spotted by anti-nuclear power group Laka. Laka spokesman Dirk Bannink said the report shows that the nuclear industry cannot exist without state support. ‘The government has to step in every time,’ he said.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Remembering the radium girls – pioneers in radiation safety awareness

The legacy of the Radium Girls lives on through the ripples that their deaths created in labor law and our scientific understanding of the effects of radioactivity.
“Almost everything we know about radiation inside the human body, we owe to them,”
Radium Girls: The dark times of luminous watches

Jacopo Prisco, CNN  20th December 2017  A century ago, glow-in-the-dark watches were an irresistible novelty. The dials, covered in a special luminous paint, shone all the time and didn’t require charging in sunlight. It looked like magic.
One of the first factories to produce these watches opened in New Jersey in 1916. It hired about 70 women, the first of thousands to be employed in many such factories in the United States. It was a well-paid, glamorous job.
For the delicate task of applying the paint to the tiny dials, the women were instructed to point the brushes with their lips. But the paint made the watches glow because it contained radium, a radioactive element discovered less than 20 years earlier, its properties not yet fully understood. The women were ingesting it with nearly every brushstroke.
They became known as the “Radium Girls.”.

A miracle cure

Radium was discovered by Nobel laureate Marie Curie and her husband Pierre in 1898. It was quickly put to use as a cancer treatment.
Related:

The color purple: How an accidental discovery changed fashion forever

“Because it was successful, it somehow became an all-powerful health tonic, taken in the same way as we take vitamins today — people were fascinated with its power,” said Kate Moore, author of “The Radium Girls,” in a phone interview………

A slow killer

When ingested, radium is particularly dangerous: “Chemically, it behaves very much like calcium,” said Jorgensen. “Since the body uses calcium to make bone, ingested radium is mistaken for calcium and gets incorporated into bone. So the major health risk of ingesting radium is radiation-induced bone necrosis and bone cancers. How soon they develop depends upon the dose, but at the very high doses that the Radium Girls were exposed to, just a few years.”
The luminous paint, which worked by converting the radiation into light through a fluorescent chemical, was one of the most successful radium-based products. By putting the brushes in their mouths, the Radium Girls were especially at risk — so why did they do it? “Because it was the easiest way to get a fine point on the brush, to paint on numbers as small as a single millimeter in width,” said Moore.
But the girls didn’t embrace this technique blindly. “The first thing they asked was (whether) the paint was harmful, but the managers said it was safe, which was the obvious answer for a manager of a company whose very existence depended on radium paint.”

Not all that glitters

When the luminous watches grew fashionable in the early 1920s, the world was already becoming aware of the risks of radioactivity. But radiation poisoning isn’t immediate, so years went by before any of the workers developed symptoms…….

Radium jaw

In the early 1920s, some of the Radium Girls started developing symptoms like fatigue and toothaches. The first death occurred in 1922, when 22-year-old Mollie Maggia died after reportedly enduring a year of pain. Although her death certificate erroneously stated that she died of syphilis, she was actually suffering from a condition called “radium jaw.” Her entire lower jawbone had become so brittle that her doctor removed it by simply lifting it out. “The radium was destroying the bone and literally drilling holes in the women’s jaws while they were still alive,” said Moore.
Yet it would take another two years before the company that owned the factory, the United States Radium Corporation, took any action at all, through an independent investigation commissioned mostly to investigate the declining business rather than the health of the workers.
In 1925 Grace Fryer, one of the workers from the original New Jersey plant, decided to sue, but she would spend two years searching for a lawyer willing to help her. She finally filed her case in 1927 along with four fellow workers, and made front-page news around the world.
The case, settled in the women’s favor in 1928, became a milestone of occupational hazard law. By this time, the dangers of radium were in full view, the lip-pointing technique was discontinued and the workers were being given protective gear. More women sued, and the radium companies appealed several times, but in 1939 the Supreme Court rejected the last appeal.
The survivors received compensation, and death certificates would start reporting the correct cause of death. The year before, the Food and Drug Administration banned the deceptive packaging of radium-based products. Radium paint itself was eventually phased out and has not been used in watches since 1968.

An enduring legacy

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The game-changing design made to go unnoticed

It’s hard to calculate how many women suffered health problems due to the ingestion of radium, but the certainly number in the thousands, according to Moore. Some of the effects would only be felt much later in life through various forms of cancer. With a half-life of 1,600 years, once the radium was inside the women’s bodies, it was there for good.
The legacy of the Radium Girls lives on through the ripples that their deaths created in labor law and our scientific understanding of the effects of radioactivity. “In the 1950s, during the Cold War, many agreed voluntarily to be studied by scientists, even with intrusive examinations because they had been exposed for prolonged periods of time,” said Moore.
“Almost everything we know about radiation inside the human body, we owe to them,” she said. http://edition.cnn.com/style/article/radium-girls-radioactive-paint/index.html

December 20, 2017 Posted by | history, radiation, USA, women | Leave a comment

The global risks of North Korea’s questionable nuclear safety standards

The other North Korea nuclear threat we should be worried about CNBC, 20 Dec17

  • North Korea’s questionable nuclear safety standards and its isolation from the global scientific community increase the risk of a nuclear accident, according to 38North
  • The country’s leader Kim Jong Un was caught on tape smoking a cigarette next to an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this year
  • If a nuclear disaster does occur, it would likely cause regional panic
Nyshka ChandranThe risk of a North Korean nuclear meltdown can’t be ignored, according to a recent note published on 38North, a project of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Longstanding doubts over the hermit kingdom’s nuclear safety resurfaced in July, when a video emerged of leader Kim Jong Unsmoking a cigarette next to a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile.

“Kim’s recklessness is certainly notable, and it hints at an under-emphasized and potentially devastating possibility: the threat of a nuclear accident in North Korea,” said the 38North note, released late last week.

 Adding to the concern, Chinese researchers said in September that North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site was at risk of imploding. That was followed by TV Asahi’s October report of a tunnel collapse at the same nuclear site, an incident believed to have killed more than 200 people. Pyongyang, in response, called the report false and dismissed it as misinformation.

The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, the North’s major nuclear facility, is so densely concentrated that one fire could lead to a disaster potentially worse than Chernobyl, former South KoreanPresident Park Geun-hye claimed in 2014……..https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/19/kim-jong-un-north-korea-nuclear-accident-risks-rising.html

December 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear power in the Middle East – for nuclear weapons?

Perhaps nuclear power plants have become the new status symbols for developing nations, the modern equivalent of new steel mills so prized by developing nations after World War II. Or perhaps something more sinister is afoot.

“Why do you have a nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf? Because you want to have some kind of nuclear (weapons) contingency capability.”

Nuclear Power’s Resurgence In The Middle East, Oil Price.com, 

To begin the process the Saudis will soon solicit bids for two reactors. We expect bids for these initial projects from at least five national consortia: South Korean, French, Russian, Chinese and American (Westinghouse).

In order for American firms to submit bids or these projects, the U.S. would have to amend its policy that prohibits export of technology for enrichment and reprocessing of uranium.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Hasham Yamani, head of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, stated at a recent conference that his nation intended to become entirely self-sufficient with respect to the production and enrichment of uranium. ..

In the United Arab Emirates, the first of four units at the Barakah nuclear power station is slated to soon enter commercial operation. These 4 APR 1400 units are being constructed by South Korea’s KEPCO at an estimated cost of $30 billion. But unlike the Saudis, officials in the UAE expressed no interest in uranium mining and reprocessing, services the plant’s builder is typically only too happy to provide.

Another four reactor project was announced in Egypt. The El Dabaa Nuclear Power Project will host four Russian-designed VVER 1200 reactors. This project is also projected to cost $30 billion and is 85 percent financed by the vendor, Rosatom.

The Iranians also have a Russian-design 1 GW nuclear reactor at its Bushehr power station. Interestingly, this unit began its life as a Siemens-designed unit whose construction was terminated due to the 1979 revolution in Iran. Eventually Russians engineers took over and completed the plant…..

Iran and the U.S. have recently differed over Iran’s uranium enrichment and reprocessing efforts particularly at the Natanz facility. The U.S. appears eager to find the Iranians in violation of nuclear fuel reprocessing constraints signed under the Obama administration. Whether this will become a pretext for further escalation by the Trump administration remains to be seen…..

This present enthusiasm for nuclear power, though, does raise questions. These plants may not be competitive with alternative power sources unless the builders finance and subsidize them. This seems to be the strategy pursued by both China and Russia.

It is also unlikely, given the relatively long lead times for construction, to resolve existing electricity shortages that hamper economic growth. Perhaps nuclear power plants have become the new status symbols for developing nations, the modern equivalent of new steel mills so prized by developing nations after World War II. Or perhaps something more sinister is afoot.

Let us give the last word to highly respected Middle East energy and security analyst, Anthony Cordesman, currently of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies: “There’s no question. Why do you have a nuclear reactor in the Persian Gulf? Because you want to have some kind of nuclear (weapons) contingency capability.” He sounds skeptical that it’s all about atoms for peace.

You can find Leonard Hyman’s lastest book ‘Electricity Acts’ on Amazon

By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles  https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Nuclear-Powers-Resurgence-In-The-Middle-East.html

 

December 20, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, marketing of nuclear, MIDDLE EAST, weapons and war | Leave a comment