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“Nuclearity” – how politics trivialises the nuclear threat – the probability of global nuclear catastrophe

Scholar on Nuclear Disasters: ‘I Am Not Optimistic About Our Collective Future’

On the 32nd anniversary of the most destructive man-caused disasters in history, the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, Sputnik discussed the liquidation of nuclear incidents throughout the world with Majia H. Nadesan, Risk Innovation Fellow in the Graduate Faculty of Hugh Downs.

Sputnik: In your view, how do politics affect such disasters as the Fukushima incident?

Majia H. Nadesan: Politics is an inevitable dimension of social life. Unfortunately, consolidated political power over critical decision-making can have catastrophic consequences, particularly when decision-makers are driven by singular logics that are intolerant of dissent.

We see in the case of nuclear energy how centralization of decision making power legitimized by symbolic appeals to national and economic security have produced never-ending catastrophes, illustrated best by Hanford in the US, Chernobyl in the Ukraine, Mayak in Russia, and Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.

Each of these catastrophes poisons air, soil, and water as toxic radionuclides migrate, bio-accumulate, and bio-magnify in biological life.

Although no authority will deny the hazards of radioactive activity and the challenges of nuclear waste management, the institutionally vested logic of nuclear, what Gabrielle Hecht referred to as “nuclearity,” routinely seeks to contain and trivialize representations of radiation risk. We saw this tendency toward trivialization in the WHO’s rush during the early stages of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to declare no long-term health risks.

It is relatively easy to contain and trivialize representations of radiation risk because effects for all but the most extreme exposures are protracted and do not manifest equivalently across exposed populations because of variations across exposure forms and conditions and the contingencies of biological vulnerabilities. Most troubling, the transgenerational genetic and epigenetic effects of elevated exposure to chemically toxic and radioactive elements are studied least frequently of all and yet may pose the greatest risk to biological life.

Containment and trivialization of radiation risk are foundational to the symbolic logic of nuclear security, yet blind us to the hazards we’ve engineered into our infrastructures, as observed by Ulrich Beck.

Sputnik: What measures need to be taken to prevent these catastrophes from happening?

Majia H. Nadesan: Efforts to redress catastrophic risks must first and foremost acknowledge the scope and severity of hazards. Powerful governmental and corporate organizations vested in the nuclear industry and its symbolic logic of national security are often unwilling to take this first step and so we see efforts in the US to extend the operations of antiquated reactors and in Japan efforts to return Fukushima refugees to areas with still-elevated radiation levels.

Failure to acknowledge infrastructural hazards across the nuclear supply, utilization, and waste cycles promises more disasters and each one will contribute to the genotoxic load of radionuclides circulating and concentrating in the biological life upon which we depend.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the way the previous catastrophes were handled?

Majia H. Nadesan: It is quite instructive to compare how Chernobyl was managed as compared to Fukushima. There is little doubt that the Soviet deployment of hundreds of thousands of liquidators was on a scale that has not yet been surpassed. The Soviets also set the exposure level at a fraction (5 millisieverts) of the up-to-twenty millisieverts of annualized exposure now allowed by Japan’s government. However, many observers note that the autocratic nature of the Soviet system and the availability of space for relocating refugees contributed to the more aggressive mitigation and evacuation in Chernobyl as compared to Japan.

Containment and trivialization of radiation risk are foundational to the symbolic logic of nuclear security, yet blind us to the hazards we’ve engineered into our infrastructures, as observed by Ulrich Beck.

Sputnik: What measures need to be taken to prevent these catastrophes from happening?

Majia H. Nadesan: Efforts to redress catastrophic risks must first and foremost acknowledge the scope and severity of hazards. Powerful governmental and corporate organizations vested in the nuclear industry and its symbolic logic of national security are often unwilling to take this first step and so we see efforts in the US to extend the operations of antiquated reactors and in Japan efforts to return Fukushima refugees to areas with still-elevated radiation levels.

Failure to acknowledge infrastructural hazards across the nuclear supply, utilization, and waste cycles promises more disasters and each one will contribute to the genotoxic load of radionuclides circulating and concentrating in the biological life upon which we depend.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the way the previous catastrophes were handled?

Majia H. Nadesan: It is quite instructive to compare how Chernobyl was managed as compared to Fukushima. There is little doubt that the Soviet deployment of hundreds of thousands of liquidators was on a scale that has not yet been surpassed. The Soviets also set the exposure level at a fraction (5 millisieverts) of the up-to-twenty millisieverts of annualized exposure now allowed by Japan’s government. However, many observers note that the autocratic nature of the Soviet system and the availability of space for relocating refugees contributed to the more aggressive mitigation and evacuation in Chernobyl as compared to Japan.

suspect that although the incidents of severe accidents will increase, the public will hear less about these accidents. Driven by the logic of adaptation, governments across the globe are re-thinking allowable exposure levels. In addition to increasing exposures standards, governments may censor or otherwise limit access to data on measured pollutants. For example, we see in the US how the EPA’s Radnet System shutdown monitors and limited access to beta data in the months and years following the Fukushima disaster. The public’s right to know appears to be faltering.

Since radiation detection requires access to specialized equipment, controlling perceptions of radiation risk may be easier to achieve than controlling actual exposures.

I am not optimistic about our collective future.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics | Leave a comment

Was the collapsed nuclear test site Kim Jong Un’s REAL reason for suspending nuclear tests?

That’s One Reason To Suspend Nuclear Tests: North Korea’s Most Recent Blast Collapsed a Mountain,By DAVID MEYER .April 25, 2018

Last weekend, North Korea suspended its nuclear tests and shut down the site where the last six detonations took place: underneath Mount Mantap, in the country’s northeast.

The reasons are ostensibly diplomatic, pointing to a thaw in relations between Kim Jong-un’s regime and South Korea and the West, but some noted that Pyongyang might have also been worried that the mountain was at risk of collapsing, as it visibly shifted during the last nuclear test. However, two separate groups of Chinese scientists now say Mount Mantap did in fact collapse after that detonation.

That means there’s a risk of radioactive contamination spreading not only within North Korea, but to other countries in the region. The site is not far from North Korea’s borders with China and Russia.

According to geologists from the University of Science and Technology of China, the collapse took place minutes after Kim Jong-un’s regime conducted its last nuclear test in September of last year.

The test of the 100-kiloton bomb, which led Chinese seismologists to register a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, apparently opened up a hole of up to 656 feet in diameter. Part of the mountain then fell into the hole.

The findings of the team, led by renowned seismologist Wen Lianxing, are set to be published next month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

According to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, another team from the China Earthquake Administration reckons the collapse created a “chimney” that could allow the escape of fallout. The publication quoted researcher Zhao Lianfeng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences as saying the site was “wrecked” beyond repair.

So Pyongyang’s renouncement of land-based nuclear tests, for now, appears to be motivated by more than mere diplomatic concerns.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

French President Macron says that Donald Trump is likely to scrap Iran deal

Donald Trump likely to scrap Iran deal amid ‘insane’ changes of stance, says Macron, Guardian,  Julian Borger 27 Apr 18

French president’s frank comments come after Congress address in which he stood up for policies his US counterpart has sought to destroy 

Emmanuel Macron conceded he had probably failed in his attempt during a three-day trip to Washington to persuade Donald Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal, describing US flip-flopping on international agreements as “insane”.

The French president had hoped to convince Trump to continue to waive sanctions on Iran, as agreed by the 2015 nuclear deal, in which Iran agreed to accept strict curbs on its nuclear activities. Macron offered Trump the prospect of negotiations on a new complementary deal that would address Iranian missile development and Tehran’s military intervention in the Middle East.

But speaking to US reporters before leaving Washington, Macron said: “My view – I don’t know what your president will decide – is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons.”

Noting that Trump had also pulled the US out of the Paris climate change accord – another commitment of the Obama administration – Macron said such frequent changes in the US position on global issues “can work in the short term but it’s very insane in the medium to long term”.

For his part, Trump implied in a phone interview on Thursday morning with the TV show Fox and Friends, which mainly focused on matters involving his attorney Michael Cohen, that he thought he had swayed Macron closer to his way of thinking on the Iran deal………

Over the course of a 50-minute address to a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday, the French president said he was “sure” the US would one day return to the Paris climate change accord, and vowed that France would not abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action (JCPOA).

More broadly, Macron presented himself to the US legislature as an unabashed advocate of the liberal world order of global institutions and free trade – the very opposite of the America First nationalism that fuelled Trump’s rise to the White House. The speech – delivered in English – was interrupted by frequent standing ovations, many from both sides of the aisle.

“We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity,” Macron said. “It is a critical moment. If we do not act with urgency as a global community, I am convinced that the international institutions, including the United Nations and Nato, will no longer be able to exercise a mandate and stabilising influence.”


Macron also made a full-throated argument for global action to combat climate change, built around the 2015 Paris accord, which Trump announced in June he was walking away from.

“What is the meaning of our life if we [are] destroying the planet while sacrificing the future of our children?” the French president asked. “Let us face it. There is no planet B.”………


April 27, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

United Nations report finds Chernobyl radiation has caused many cases of thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer link to Chernobyl radiation Australian Associated Press, 26 Apr 18

Since the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Soviet Chernobyl reactor, one in four thyroid cancer cases has been caused by radiation in the region, UN scientists report in their first such estimate.

After reviewing various statistics and existing studies, the Vienna-based UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation said around 20,000 such cancers were registered between 1991 and 2015 in the area surrounding the reactor, which takes in all of Ukraine and Belarus, as well parts of Russia.

 This figure covers people who were younger than 18 years at the time of the nuclear accident.

“Thyroid cancer is a major problem after the Chernobyl accident and needs further investigation to better understand the long-term consequences,” UNSCEAR chairman Hans Vanmarcke said in a statement on Wednesday.

Based on limited data covering only the 1991-2005 period, UNSCEAR had previously put the total number of registered thyroid cancers in the region at 7000, but had not estimated the share that can be linked to radiation exposure.

The overall number of cases has increased nearly threefold to 20,000, not only because of radiation effects, but also because the group of people being monitored has been getting older, which has increased their natural risk of getting cancer.

In addition, the high awareness about thyroid cancer in the region and improved diagnostic methods have allowed doctors to detect a higher number of cases, UNSCEAR says in its paper.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | children, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Report from China that North Korea’s “nuclear mountain” test site has collapsed


North Korea radiation WARNING as shock report deems nuclear test site UNUSABLE

NORTH Korea’s main nuclear test site has collapsed after multiple explosions and could be vulnerable to radiation leaks, according to a team of Chinese geologists.By SIMON OSBORNE

Scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China said the partial collapse of a mountain containing test tunnels, as well as the risk of radiation leaks, have potentially rendered the site unusable. Their study was published soon after Kim said his country would stop testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and close down Punggye-ri before his meeting with Moon.

The Chinese scientists collected data after the most powerful of the North’s six nuclear tests last September.

The controlled explosion, which caused a magnitude 6.3 tremor, is believed to have triggered four more earthquakes over the following weeks.

The study found there was “a near-vertical on-site collapse towards the nuclear test centre” about eight minutes after the test.

The report said: “In view of the research finding that the North Korea nuclear test site at Mount Mantap has collapsed, it is necessary to continue to monitor any leakage of radioactive materials that may have been caused by the collapse.”

North Korean nuclear tests have caused seismic events in Chinese border towns and cities, forcing evacuations of schools and offices, sparking fears of wind-borne radiation and leading to a backlash among some Chinese against their country’s unpredictable traditional ally.

On Saturday, Kim announced North Korea would close its nuclear testing facility and suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests – a move welcomed by US president Donald Trump as “big progress” – and which comes ahead of a planned summit between the leaders in late May or early June.

But Kim stopped short of promising to give up his nuclear weapons, and the missile test ban does not include shorter-range weapons capable of reaching Japan and South Korea.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | incidents, North Korea | Leave a comment

Flawed UK government policy in drive to make Cumbria host nuclear waste dump

Whitehaven News 26th April 2018 , Search to find nuclear waste storage site is ‘flawed’, Cumbria council chiefs claim. Cash incentives are being offered to communities that step forward to host an underground waste bunker.

A NEW search to find a community willing to host an underground nuclear waste storage bunker is based on ‘fundamentally flawed’ government policy, council officials in Cumbria have said.

The nationwide scheme to identify a location for a £12 billion geological disposal facility buried at least 200 metres below the surface was relaunched by the government in January and is expected to take
20 years to secure. It promises incentives including £1m per year for five
years for the five communities that volunteer to be on the shortlist – with
£2.5m a year for the two that go forward to the testing stage, which would
see deep boreholes dug underground.

But experts within Cumbria County Council have instead called for more clarity on how the high level waste -the majority of which is currently kept in storage vessels in west Cumbria
– will be kept safe if a suitable location is not identified within the time frame.

They also state the right of willing communities to withdraw from the process is not clear enough within the proposal.

The authority’s official response, expected to be adopted by members of its cabinet
committee in Carlisle today, states: “The county council believes the
policy on which this consultation is based is fundamentally flawed.

Having a plan B for the safe storage of this waste during the 15 to 20 year period
the government estimate this process, to identify and select a site, will
take is vital. “The waste is still in situ and needs safe surface or near
surface storage facilities in the intervening time, which cannot be of a
sub-standard quality.”

April 27, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

SAN ONOFRE’S NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE TANKS ALREADY BREAKING  BUSTED BOLT FOUND IN NEW TANK MEANT TO HOLD SPENT FUEL,  BY JUSTIN HOUSMAN  Just a few months into Southern California Edison’s very controversial plan to relocate spent nuclear fuel to holding tanks on the beach at San Onofre, crews are finding the holding tanks aren’t working properly.

The LA Times reported last month that when workers tried to move spent fuel from a cooling tank to dry storage tanks–that are kept a mere 100-feet from the shoreline–broken bolts were found in the long-term storage tanks. Those tanks are meant to hold and stabilize the spent fuel rods indefinitely.

Work stopped for ten days after the bolts were found, but has since resumed, angering nearby residents and people opposed to the plan to store waste at San Onofre, who were already worried about the safety of keeping nuclear waste so near the ocean and major population centers.

Now that broken bolts have been found, those fears are heightening.

The broken bolts are part of a system that helps keep the rods balanced in the storage tanks. They’re apparently a new design, and four of them have already been filled with radioactive waste. Unfortunately, there’s no way for Southern California Edison to test the already-filled containers for the same issue.

Edison is trying to assuage fears and insists there’s no threat to the public. And they’ve resumed filling more storage tanks, but not the newly-designed tanks with bolt issues.

But for watchdog groups who were already warning that unforeseen problems made storing this waste highly dangerous, malfunctioning tanks so early in the relocation process isn’t sitting very well.

“We warned them that this was going to happen, and nobody listened to us,” Donna Gilmore of told the LA Times. “Now they are trying to tell us: ‘Everything is OK. Don’t worry.’ This is insane. Edison has proven they can’t keep us safe.”

As part of a lawsuit settlement, Edison has agreed to look into options to store the spent fuel permanently in New Mexico or Arizona, far from millions of Orange County and San Diego County residents.

For now though, the waste is still headed to San Onofre, busted bolts and all. All 3.6 million pounds of it.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Sea level rise will force evacuation of communities from low-lying islands

Guardian 25th April 2018 ,Hundreds of thousands of people will be forced from their homes on
low-lying islands in the next few decades by sea-level rises and the contamination of fresh drinking water sources, scientists have warned.

A study by researchers at the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Deltares Institute in the Netherlands and Hawaii University has found that many small islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans will be uninhabitable for humans by the middle of this century. That is much earlier than previously thought.

Experts say the findings underline the looming climate change driven migration crisis that is predicted to see hundreds of millions of people forced from their homes in the coming years. More than half a
million people around the world live on atoll islands, often extraordinary and beautiful structures based on coral reefs. Their closeness to sea level makes them particularly vulnerable to climate change.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Loss of ice in Russian Arctic has doubled over past 10 years

Russian Arctic glacier loss doubles as temps warm UNIVERSITY , 25 Apr 18, ITHACA, N.Y. – Ice mass loss in the Russian Arctic has nearly doubled over the last decade according to Cornell University research published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.

The research focused on Franz Josef Land, a glaciated Russian archipelago in the Kara and Barents seas – among the northernmost and most remote parcels of land on Earth.

“Glaciers there are shrinking by area and by height. We are seeing an increase in the recent speed of ice loss, when compared to the long-term ice-loss rate,” said lead researcher Whyjay Zheng, a Cornell University doctoral student in geophysics. “We are finding out that the ice is changing more rapidly than we previously thought,” said Zheng. “The temperature is changing in the Arctic faster than anywhere else in the world.”

From 1953 to 2010, the average rate of ice surface loss was 18 centimeters per year. From 2011 to 2015, the ice surface decrease was 32 centimeters per year, which is a water loss of 4.43 gigatons annually, said Zheng. For perspective, that much water would raise the level of Cayuga Lake — the longest of New York state’s Finger Lakes, at 38 miles — by 85 feet and inundate the cities of Ithaca and Seneca Falls.

he Arctic has been warming in recent decades, but glaciers across the region are responding in different ways. “Previous studies have shown that the glaciers in northern Canada seem to be shrinking at a faster rate than the ones in some parts of northern Russia,” said senior author Matt Pritchard, Cornell professor of geophysics.

“Our work takes a closer look at the Russian glaciers to understand why they might be responding to a warming Arctic differently than glaciers in other parts of the Arctic. Why glaciers in Franz Josef Land have been shrinking more rapidly between 2011 and 2015 than in previous decades is possibly related to ocean temperature changes,” said Pritchard.


Support for Zheng’s research was provided by an Overseas Ph.D. Scholarship funded by the Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

How can USA and Russia’s Plutonium Disposition Program finally become effective?

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 24th April 2018 , During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union manufactured
enormous quantities of plutonium for use in nuclear weapons. When that era
ended, the United States and the newly formed Russian Federation began to
reduce their nuclear arsenals. Both nations possessed large stockpiles of
plutonium—a problem that posed both a sustained threat to the environment
and a risk of future nuclear weapons proliferation.

In 2000, the United States and Russia pledged to dispose of their excess plutonium in order to
mitigate the security concerns, safety risks, and storage costs. They
signed the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which requires
each country to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons plutonium.

Unfortunately, the agreement failed to solve the excess plutonium problem.
Eighteen years later, the United States has been unable to develop a
successful strategy to safely, affordably, and permanently dispose of
plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons, despite a high degree of
industrial capability and technical expertise. Why has the United States
been unable to either implement its obligations under the disposition
agreement or execute its own policy? And how can the Plutonium Disposition
Program finally become effective?

April 27, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, USA | Leave a comment

Many low-lying atoll islands could be uninhabitable by mid-21st century, US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Sea-level rise and wave-driven flooding will negatively impact freshwater resources on many low-lying atoll islands in such a way that many could be uninhabitable in just a few decades. According to a new study published in Science Advances, scientists found that such flooding not only will impact terrestrial infrastructure and habitats, but, more importantly, it will also make the limited freshwater resources non-potable and, therefore, directly threaten the sustainability of human populations.

Most of the world’s atolls are in the Pacific and Indian oceans. The scientists focused on Roi-Namur Island on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands for their site study from November 2013 to May 2015. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has more than 1,100 low-lying islands on 29 atolls, is home for numerous island nations and hundreds of thousands of people.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Deltares, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Hawai?i at Mānoa used a variety of climate-change scenarios to project the impact of sea-level rise and wave-driven flooding on atoll infrastructure and freshwater availability. The approach and findings in this study can serve as a proxy for atolls around the world, most of which have a similar morphology and structure, including, on average, even lower land elevations.

“The tipping point when potable groundwater on the majority of atoll islands will be unavailable is projected to be reached no later than the middle of the 21st century,” said Curt Storlazzi, USGS geologist and lead author of the new report.

Sea levels are rising, with the highest rates in the tropics, where thousands of low-lying coral atoll islands are located. Previous studies on the resilience of these islands to sea-level rise projected they will experience minimal inundation impacts until at least the end of the 21st century. However, those previous studies did not take into account the additional hazard of wave-driven overwash (storm waters and waves that wash up and over the low-lying island) nor its impact on freshwater availability.

“Such information is key to assess multiple hazards and prioritize efforts to reduce risk and increase the resiliency of atoll islands’ communities around the globe,” said Storlazzi.

These findings have relevance not only to populated atoll islands in the Marshall Islands, but also to those in the Caroline Islands, Cook Islands, Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Society Islands, Spratly Islands, Maldives, Seychelles, and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Thus, the study scientists project that, based on current global greenhouse gas emission rates, the interactions between sea-level rise and wave dynamics over coral reefs will lead to an annual wave-driven overwash of most atoll islands by the mid-21st century. Such annual flooding would result in the islands becoming uninhabitable due to frequent damage to infrastructure and the inability of their freshwater resources to recover between overwash events.

The primary source of freshwater for populated atoll islands is rain that soaks into the ground and remains there as a layer of fresh groundwater that floats on top of denser saltwater. As atoll islands come to be overwashed annually, on average, in the next few decades (assuming current greenhouse gas emission rates), flooding impacts to infrastructure and the loss of freshwater resources would make human habitation difficult in most locations beginning between the 2030s to 2060s, requiring the relocation of island inhabitants or significant financial investments in new infrastructure.

“The overwash events generally result in salty ocean water seeping into the ground and contaminating the freshwater aquifer. Rainfall later in the year is not enough to flush out the saltwater and refresh the island’s water supply before the next year’s storms arrive repeating the overwash events,” explained Stephen Gingerich, USGS hydrologist and co-author of the new report.

The full report, “Most Atolls will be uninhabitable by the mid-21st century due to sea-level rise exacerbating wave-driven flooding,” in Science Advances is available online.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Just Stood Up to One of The Most Powerful Industries in The World

No more drilling. Af, CARLY CASSELLA, 13 APR 2018   Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is doing everything in her power to wean New Zealand off fossil fuels.

This week, the New Zealand government announced it will no longer grant any new offshore oil exploration permits. The 22 permits that have already been issued are set to expire in 2030.

The new Prime Minister, who took office last year, says this is all part of her aggressive, long-term plan to move towards a carbon-neutral future.

“When it comes to climate change, our plan is clear,” said Ardern, according to The New York Times.

“We are committed to the goal of becoming a net zero emissions economy by 2050.”

Ardern added that her ultimate goal is to switch the country’s electricity system to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

….. Ardern’s government has promised that “no current” jobs will be lost as a result of the change, which still honors “all agreements with current permit holders.”

April 27, 2018 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand | Leave a comment

The ‘demonising’ of Iran, by USA and other Western powers, despite Iran’s good record on the nuclear deal

What’s behind the push against Iran nuclear deal?
Iran being ‘demonised’ for opposing western powers and their allies attempting to dominate the Middle East, experts say. 
Aljazeera, by Ali Younes, 27 Apr 18

A sustained effort by the administration of US President Donald Trump and its allies at home and in the Middle East to cancel, or at least renegotiate, the Iran nuclear deal appears to have succeeded in bringing one major European country, France, to its side.

French President Emmanuel Macron said during a visit to the United States this week that he hoped to “work on a new deal with Iran” following “frank discussions” with Trump.

The US president is a fierce critic of the landmark 2015 pact, signed between Tehran and the US, France, Russia, Germany, China, the UK and the European Union.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani swiftly countered, saying: “You [Trump], along with the leader of some European country, are deciding for an agreement reached among seven parties. Who allowed you to do that?”

Iran experts argue, however, that the real issue is not Tehran’s nuclear programme, that even if it were taken out of the picture, “Iran would still be demonised and made evil” by its regional adversaries – similar to what has been happening, they argue, since the 1979 revolution.

“The root causes of Israeli and Western animosity towards Iran has to do with its opposition to Western hegemony in the region and its support and sympathy with the Palestinian people,” said Mohammad Marandy, professor at the University of Tehran.

“Iran’s key foreign policy objectives since the 1979 revolution were its moral stance against the South African apartheid and its solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

A push against Iran

The push against Iran in Washington acquired more ammunition when Trump recently appointed John Bolton as his national security adviser.

Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN during the presidency of George W Bush, has been a vocal opponent of the 2015 deal, which was signed by the administration of President Barack Obama.

In a 2015 opinion piece at the New York Times, Bolton floated the idea of a US or Israeli bombing of Iran’s nuclear reactors.

……The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), eased sanctions on Iran in return for it agreeing that it would not develop nuclear weapons.

Fatemeh Aman, a Washington-based Iran analyst, said if Tehran “decided to make between one to three nuclear bombs, it could have made them within two, three months based on the amount of highly enriched uranium they had before they signed the agreement with the US and its allies.

“But once they signed the agreement and shipped their highly enriched uranium to Russia, Iran is now much further away from producing a nuclear bomb,” she added.

“This has put Iran nuclear programme back to 10-15 years.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified Iran’s compliance with the 2015 agreement, while the country is also a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a signatory of the Additional Protocols, which stipulate strict safeguard measures against nuclear proliferation, Aman noted……..

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Pretty much permanent now- the slump in the uranium industry

Uranium industry slumps, nuclear power dead in the water, Chain Reaction magazine, Dr Jim Green, April 2018

Very few mines could operate at a profit at current prices. Some mines are profitable because earlier contracts stipulated higher prices, while many mines are operating at a loss. Many companies have been loathe to close operating mines, or to put them into care-and-maintenance, even if the only other option is operating at a loss. They have been playing chicken, hoping that other companies and mines will fold first and that the resultant loss of production will drive up prices. “We have to recognise that we over-produce, and we are responsible for this fall in the price,” said Areva executive Jacques Peythieu in April 2017.

Current prices would need to more than double to encourage new mines ‒ a long-term contract price of about US$70–$80 is typically cited as being required to encourage the development of new mines.

The patterns outlined above were repeated in 2017. It was another miserable year for the uranium industry. A great year for those of us living in uranium producing countries who don’t want to see new mines open and who look forward to the closure of existing mines. And a great year for the nuclear power industry ‒ in the narrow sense that the plentiful availability of cheap uranium allows the industry to focus on other problems.

Cut-backs announced 

The patterns that have prevailed over the past five years or so might be changed by decisions taken by Cameco and Kazatomprom (Kazakhstan) in late 2017 to significantly reduce production. Canada closed McArthur River in Canada in January and plans to keep it closed for around 10 months ‒ it had been producing more uranium than any other mine in the world. Kazakhstan has been producing almost 40% of world supply in recent years and plans to reduce production by 20% from 2018‒2020.

Previous cut-backs in Canada and Kazakhstan have had little or no effect, and so far the late-2017 announcements have had no effect. But the cut-backs are significant and their impact might yet be felt.

A late-2017 report by Cantor Fitzgerald equity research argued that the decisions by Cameco and Kazatomprom could result in a “step change” for uranium prices. But Warwick Grigor from Far East Capital was downbeat about Cameco’s announcement. “I don’t see this as a turnaround for the uranium price; at best they will stay where they are, but it doesn’t signal a boom in price,” he said in November 2017.

BHP marketing vice-president Vicky Binns said in December 2017 that uranium markets would remain oversupplied for close to a decade, with downward pressure remaining on uranium prices despite Cameco’s production cuts. She said that demand for uranium could outstrip supply by the late 2020s but that could change if developed nations close their nuclear reactors earlier than expected, or if renewables take a larger than expected market share.

Equally downbeat comments have been made by other industry insiders and analysts in recent years. Former Paladin Energy chief executive John Borshoff said in 2013 that the uranium industry “is definitely in crisis” and “is showing all the symptoms of a mid-term paralysis”. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd in May 2014 predicted “a long period of relatively low prices”. Nick Carter from Ux Consulting said in April 2016 that he did not see a supply deficit in the market until “the late 2020s”.

Perhaps a uranium price increase is on the way but it will do little to salvage Australia’s uranium industry. Apart from BHP’s Olympic Dam mine in SA, the only other operating uranium mine in Australia is Beverley Four Mile in SA. At Ranger in the NT, mining has ceased, stockpiles of ore are being processed, and ERA is planning a $500 million project to decommission and rehabilitate the mine site.

And with the cost of a single power reactor climbing to as much as $20 billion, proposals to introduce nuclear power to Australia seem more and more quixotic and are now largely limited to the far right ‒ in particular, Australians Conservatives’ luminary Senator Cory Bernardi and the Minerals Council of Australia.

Even Dr Ziggy Switkowski ‒ who used to be nuclear power’s head cheerleader in Australia and was appointed to lead the Howard government’s review of nuclear power ‒ recently said that “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed”. He said nuclear power is no longer cheaper than renewables and the levelised cost of electricity is rapidly diverging in favour of renewables.

Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter produced by the World Information Service on Energy and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service.

Published in Chain Reaction #132, April 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

The accidental dropping of two nuclear bombs, on North Carolina

The U.S. Once Dropped Two Nuclear Bombs on North Carolina by Accident sheer luck, neither detonated.,  , APRIL 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 Posted by | history, incidents, USA | Leave a comment