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Nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia – theme for May 18

Saudi Arabia and Israel have been itching for an attack on Iran.  That would be a dangerous move by either of those States.  But hey!  What if you get get America to do this on their behalf?  With Trump now surrounding himself with belligerent advisors, like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, and with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner cosying up to Israel and Saudi Arabia – there’s every chance that USA will move closer to the military brink.  After all, Trump recently warned Iran that if it started enriching uranium “there will be very severe consequences,” and “something will happen”

Of course, it’s a different story for the Trump and the USA, when it comes to letting the Saudi Arabians enrich uranium. Westinghouse is keen to sell U.S,. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, and the Trump administration is writhing about trying to bypass the “123 rule” which prohibits uranium enrichment.

Saudi Arabia has been quick to militarily attack in the past  – Bahrain 1994 and 2011 – Yemen recently.

The regime’s brutality towards its own citizens should surely give the world pause to think about how it might behave towards other people, when it’s in possession of nuclear bombs.  Cruelty and beheadings are “normal” for crimes -not only for murders, but also for apostasy,  blasphemy, atheism.

Of course, super salesman Donald Trump would find this irrelevant, indeed encouraging. After all, 12 months ago,   Trump visited Riyadh , returning  with a $350 Billion arms contract for America.

Nuclear power for Saudi Arabia becomes an absurd idea, when you consider that Saudi Arabia is not only the “Saudi Arabia” of oil, but also of sunshine.  Their motivation for nuclear weapons is clear.



May 11, 2018 Posted by | Christina's themes, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The week to 11th May in nuclear news

Trumpiness AGAIN!  Yes! He’s pulled America out of the Iran nuclear deal. Doesn’t augur well for the North Korea – USA summit to be held in Singapore on June 12. Increased risk of war in the Middle East.

Thirty thousand experts, policy people and diplomats are in Poland, planning for the next round of climate talks, The 1.5 degree C limit is a matter of life and death for some Pacific Island nations. 2 degrees is beyond safe.

Isn’t it good to learn about some sane, co-operative action? The power of environmentalism – Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians unite in campaign for the environment.


USA, Australia, want to keep fossil fuel lobbyists in climate talks – developing nations want them OUT.

Renewable Energy Now Employs 10.3 Million People Globally.

ANTARCTICA. Global warming is melting Antarctic ice from below.

IRAN.   Rouhani says Iran will remain in nuclear deal .  Iran might now resume cyber attacks on USA institutions.


ISRAEL. Israel prepares missile defence systems and BOMB SHELTERS as US leaves Iran nuclear deal.

EUROPE. Can Europe salvage the Iran nuclear deal?.  European leaders consider ways to save the Iran nuclear deal.    Poland embraces wind power – a better deal than nuclear.

JAPAN. Contaminated water leak found at Ehime Pref. nuke plant.  Ohi No.4 reactor restarted.  Anti-terror emergency response centre for Sendai nuclear power plant.   Fukushima New Data for Unit 2’s Missing Fuel.  Fukushima ETHOS: Post-Disaster Risk Communication, Affect, and Shifting Risks.

UK. Britain coy about whether or not it is funding Hitachi nuclear power project in Wales.  Hitachi encouraged by British assurance of guaranteed loan for Wylfa nuclear power plant construction. Hitachi Ltd’s Horizon Nuclear Power unit has received assurance of UK govt funding for nuclear build in Wales.  UK Energy minister Lord Henley would consider storing nuclear waste under national parks.  EDF Energy hit with £120m bill over cracks in Hunterston B nuclear reactor in Scotland.

NORTH KOREA.   An impossible task? – “permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement” of North Korea’s nuclear program.  North Korea is willing to discuss its nuclear program in talks with the United States. Current activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site.  Geophysicists say North Korea’s huge underground nuclear test DID move the mountain.

SYRIA. Syrian opposition praises Donald Trump’s Iran nuclear deal exit.

CANADA. Call from Michigan to stop nuclear waste dumping near Great Lakes.

SAUDI ARABIA. Saudi Arabia applauds Donald Trump in pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.

SWITZERLAND. Swizerland’s Health Office recalls jewellery contaminated with radioactive thorium and uranium.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia, Israel, dictating to Trump USA foreign policy on Iran nuclear deal?

Trump Outsources US Foreign Policy to Riyadh, Tel Aviv Over Iran Deal – Analysts  Jonathan Ernst 17 10.05 WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States by exiting the Iran nuclear agreement has now essentially outsourced US foreign policy in the Middle East to both Israel and Saudi Arabia, analysts told Sputnik.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the United States is ready to announce an additional set of sanctions against Iran as early as next week in response to its alleged development of nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the P5+1 and EU, which ensures Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful in exchange for sanctions relief. In addition, the US Treasury said it would reimpose the highest-level economic sanctions possible on Iran.

In the week prior to Trump’s decision Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an internationally-broadcast address presented old intelligence and tried to claim that Tehran was continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

In fact, Iran has remained compliant under the conditions of the JCPOA as verified by the IAEA in 11 reports since January 2016 — a reality US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo even admitted during his confirmation hearings.

Israeli, Saudi Victory

Retired US Army Major and historian Todd Pierce told Sputnik that Trump’s announcement was a triumph for the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of whom want the United States to confront Iran.

“Trump has placed US foreign policy in the hands of the coalition of Israel under Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia under [Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Salman, which his son in law Jared Kushner helped bring together to collectively wage war against Iran and Syria,” he said.

Trump’s statement on why he was pulling out of the international nuclear agreement with Iran was expressed in terms that made it sound like Trump was determined to go to war, Pierce observed.”Constructively, in effect, Trump’s talk sounded like a declaration of war against Iran, with the first step being to tighten up the ‘blockade’ of Iran, meaning in the 21st century version of that, US sanctions,” Pierce said.

Trump’s address was also notable for how closely it followed the arguments made eight days earlier by Netanyahu in his efforts to persuade the US government and Congress to scrap the agreement, Pierce pointed out.

Trump, like his ally and friend Netanyahu had shown scant regard for factual accuracy in his presentation.Trump was not an extremist or aberration in setting such policies but was fulfilling goals that had been followed for decades, Pierce pointed out.

Tehran Undaunted

Global peace activist and expert on the medical dangers of nuclear energy, Dr. Helen Caldicott, told Sputnik that she expected Tehran to continue honoring its commitmentsunder the 2015 nuclear accord.

“I think there will not be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East despite the fact that Israel was vehemently opposed to the treaty and surreptitiously lobbied against it with the powers that be in the US,” Caldicott said.

Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the organization that was the co-winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, noted that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had pledged to remain in the accord.

“Rouhani says that Iran will abide by the JCPOA, a stand which I intuitively had predicted,” she said. “It also seems clear that the European nations will definitely not abide by Trump’s terms of increased sanctions, after begging him to comply.”
The United States still needed to realize that Russia was not an ideological enemy of the West any more the way the Soviet Union had been throughout the Cold War, Caldicott maintained.

“If America could come to its senses and decide that all nuclear weapons are useless symbols of annihilation and have absolutely nothing to do with ‘defense’ it could lead the world to sanity, survival and nuclear disarmament,” she said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said on Wednesday that the country may start development of nuclear weapons if Iran continues its nuclear program.

Caldicott is the author of many books, including “The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex” and “War in Heaven:” The Arms Race in Outer Space.” The Smithsonian Institution has named her one of the most influential women of the 20th century.


May 11, 2018 Posted by | Iran, Israel, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Bechtel engineering very happy at prospect of selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

US engineering giant sees ‘tremendous opportunity’ in Saudi nuclear energy plans  –Saheli Roy Choudhury

  • A senior executive at engineering giant Bechtel told CNBC on Thursday that U.S. businesses should be involved in Saudi Arabia’s civilian nuclear energy ambitions.
  • The presence of American firms would likely be welcomed by the Saudis and should also be welcomed by the U.S. government, according to Stuart Jones, regional president for Europe and Middle East at Bechtel.
  • Saudi Arabia has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years, costing more than $80 billion.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, marketing, Saudi Arabia, USA | 1 Comment

Expert commentary on the Trump decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal: its implications for North Korea

The Trump decision: dangerous, irresponsible, and full of implications for North Korea EXPERT COMMENTARY 9 MAY 2018, Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy, Arms Control Association

Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran clearly violates the multilateral Iran nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While the move is unsurprising—given Trump’s failure to recognize the nonproliferation value of the deal and frequent threats to walk away—it is dangerous and irresponsible, and it risks manufacturing a nuclear crisis that the international community cannot afford.

There was no legitimate reason for Trump to reimpose sanctions. For the past two years, the nuclear deal has verifiably restricted Iran’s nuclear program and subjected it to intrusive monitoring and verification. Even critics of the deal, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have admitted that there is no evidence that Iran is in violation of the agreement.

Trump’s main criticism—that the deal paves the way to an Iranian nuclear weapon in 10 years—is based on a flawed analysis that discounts the value that the permanent monitoring mechanisms and prohibitions put in place by the deal possess. They are a bulwark against nuclear weapons development.

By violating the deal, Trump has only isolated the United States and undermined Washington’s credibility. His “plan B” —to negotiate a “better deal” with Iran— is completely unrealistic. After this clear demonstration that the United States cannot be counted on to implement an agreement in good faith, Trump will hard pressed to gain any support for sanctions, let alone new talks. As a result, Trump is inciting a proliferation crisis, rather than working with allies to develop a long-term diplomatic strategy that would build on the agreement in the years ahead and address Iran’s malign activities outside of the accord.

Despite Trump’s reckless decision to reimpose sanctions, it would be premature to declare the nuclear deal dead. The JCPOA is a multilateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council and Washington’s P5+1 partners—China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom—which have pledged to implement the deal, irrespective of US actions. And these states and the European Union have powerful tools at their disposal to block the secondary effects of US sanctions.

It will be critical that these states move quickly to insulate legitimate business from US sanctions, demonstrating to Iran that there is still an incentive—trade with Europe and other developed economies—to continue abiding by the nuclear commitments made under the accord. Failure to ensure that Iran has international trading opportunities will make it more likely that Tehran will respond to Trump’s violation by breaching the nuclear limits. While Iran is unlikely to dash for a bomb, Iranian officials have left the door open to restart uranium enrichment to 20 percent uranium 235, a level of fissionable material currently prohibited by the deal. If Iran choses this path it would destabilize the region and increase the risks of conflict.

Trump’s decision has nonproliferation consequences beyond Iran. Trump is about to sit down at an important summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Violating the Iran deal undermines US credibility in those negotiations and sends a message to Kim Jong-un that even if an agreement is reached and North Korea abides by its terms, there’s no guarantee that Washington will fulfill its commitments. This is a dangerous precedent to set and risks this historic opportunity to de-escalate tensions with North Korea.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | Iran, North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump tweets that the U.S.-North Korea summit will be held in Singapore on June 12th

Singapore will host U.S.-North Korea summit, nuclear issue to dominate Steve HollandMatt Spetalnick  WASHINGTON (Reuters), 11 May 18 Leaders of the United States and North Korea will meet for the first time when President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un hold a summit on June 12 in Singapore where the U.S. side will try to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

…….. “The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!” Trump wrote on Twitter…….

Trump is embarking on this high-stakes meeting with Kim after sending shockwaves through the world on Tuesday when he announced that the United States was pulling out of a 2015 accord imposing international oversight of Iran’s nuclear program.

The move raised questions over whether North Korea might now be less inclined to negotiate its own nuclear deal with Washington.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone on Wednesday and the White House said the two leaders “affirmed the shared goal of North Korea abandoning its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs” and remained committed to cooperating with South Korea.

Japan worries that it could be the target of any first-use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang.

……… Kim recently promised to suspend missile tests and shut a nuclear bomb test site.

North Korea is still technically at war with the United States and its ally South Korea because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a treaty.

The choice of Singapore will put the summit on friendly turf for Trump, as the island nation is a strong U.S. ally and the U.S. Navy frequently visits its port.

The wealthy financial and shipping hub is seen as a gateway between Asia and the West and has been called the “Switzerland of Asia,” in contrast to North Korea’s isolated economy that its leaders now want to modernize.

Nonetheless, Human Rights Watch has described Singapore as having a “stifling” political environment with severe restrictions on “basic rights.”………

May 11, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump exits the Iran nuclear deal: its future now uncertain

Trump withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal. What now?  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, John Mecklin  May 18 

With his decision today to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump has put the long-term future of the deal in doubt, at the very least. In a televised announcement from the White House, Trump said the United States would reimpose the “highest level” of economic sanctions against Iran and would hold other nations accountable for violating those sanctions. During his truculent presentation, Trump asserted that the Iran nuclear deal—known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—was “horrible” and “one-sided.” Even if Iran complied with the terms of the “decaying and rotten structure” of the JCPOA, the president claimed, it could move to the verge of creating nuclear weapons in “a very short time” even as it continued to build nuclear-capable missiles and support terrorism across the Middle East and the world. (The president’s claims run counter to the assessments of the numerous international security experts who note that the JCPOA’s intrusive inspection regime and other components would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons indefinitely.)

As he announced US withdrawal from the Iran deal, Trump threatened dire consequences for Iran if it resumed work toward nuclear weapons. At the same time, he asserted that his administration would work with allies toward a new deal that he was “ready, willing and able” to negotiate with Iran. Iran has previously insisted it will not renegotiate the JCPOA.

In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s decision, it was unclear how Iran, the other five countries that agreed to the JCPOA—Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany—and the rest of the world would respond over the long term. The Bulletin invited a wide variety of top international security experts to provide comments on Trump’s decision and its potentially wide-ranging ramifications. Their responses are published below, in hopes they will help the international community find the best possible path forward. ……….


May 11, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Can Europe salvage the Iran nuclear deal?

Europe scrambles to salvage Iran nuclear deal after US withdraws  ANKARA , 10 May — European countries are powerless to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran after the United States pulled out, the deputy head of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) said Thursday.

Britain, France and Germany said they remained committed to the deal despite Tuesday’s decision by President Trump to withdraw.

But Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said Europe “cannot act independently over the nuclear deal,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Tehran would remain in the 2015 agreement, though Europe had only a “limited opportunity” to preserve it.

On Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast doubt on the ability of the European signatories to guarantee Tehran’s interests, adding: “I do not trust these countries either.”

Khamenei has the final say on all state matters and commands the loyalty of the IRGC, which has huge political and economic influence domestically.

Salami said Iran’s enemies were not seeking military confrontation. “They want to pressure our country by economic isolation … Resistance is the only way to confront these enemies, not diplomacy,” Fars quoted him as saying.

Trump also said Tuesday he would revive US economic sanctions against Iran, penalizing foreign firms doing business with Tehran and further undermining what he called “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”

Europeans fear a collapse of the deal could raise the risk of deepening conflicts in the Middle East.

Early on Thursday, Iranian forces launched their first attack on Israel from inside Syria, firing rockets at army bases in the Golan Heights, Israel said.

That prompted one of the heaviest Israeli barrages against Syria since the conflict there began in 2011.

The pact, the signature foreign policy achievement of Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb in exchange for lifting most sanctions that had crippled its economy. Sanctions were removed in 2016.

Trump complained that the agreement failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 or its role in conflicts in the Middle East, where Tehran has been involved in a proxy war from Lebanon to Yemen for decades.

In defiance of Western pressure to curb the missile program, Tehran says it is an essential precautionary defense against the United States and other adversaries, primarily Gulf Arab states and Israel.

“Exiting the deal and their concerns over Iran’s missile work are excuses to bring our nation to its knees,” Salami said.

The IRGC’s overseas arm, the Quds force, operates in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, among other places.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Growing risk of Middle East war, as USA exits Iran nuclear deal, – Iran Israel strikes

Iran-Israel strikes show risk of Middle East war is growing after US exit from nuclear deal, CNBC, 11 May 18 

  • The U.S. exit from the Iran nuclear deal threatens to inflame tensions in the Middle East and heighten the risk of open conflict among regional powers, analysts say.
  • Israel launched an attack on Iran’s positions in Syria on Thursday, following an earlier strike by Iranian forces on the Golan Heights in retaliation for earlier Israeli strikes.
  • A long-standing fear is that open military conflict among the Middle East’s dominant players will devolve into a regionwide conflict that drags global powers into war.

A series of rocket exchanges between Iran and Israel along the Syrian border on Thursday may confirm what many feared: The U.S. exit from the Iran nuclear deal will inflame regional rivalries and heighten the risk of open conflict in the Middle East.

Israel launched a deadly attack on Iranian positions in Syria on Thursday, responding to an earlier rocket attack by Iran’s forces on the Golan Heights, a border area Israel captured from Syria in 1967. Iran’s attack itself followed several strikes by Israel on its bases in Syria, where the Iranians are supporting President Bashar Assad in the nation’s long-burning civil war.

The earlier Israeli strikes came both before and after President Donald Trump announced he is withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and restoring wide-ranging sanctions aimed at crippling the Iranian economy. Thursday’s rocket exchange came just two days after Trump’s announcement.

Middle East watchers warn that Trump’s decision to abandon the nuclear deal emboldens Israel and Saudi Arabia to take a more aggressive stance against Iranian forces and proxies in the region. They say it also marginalizes Iran’s political moderates like President Hassan Rouhani and emboldens the nation’s hard-line conservatives and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite military organization loyal to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“US withdrawal from the JCPOA could shift the balance of power among the Iranian leadership from those who want to keep the deal operational to hardline elements more willing to risk escalation by strengthening support for regional proxies, and who favour economic self-sufficiency and opposed President Rouhani’s push for greater engagement with the West,” ratings agency Fitch said Thursday, referring to the deal by its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The long-standing fear is that open military conflict among the Middle East’s dominant players will devolve into a regionwide conflict that drags global powers like the United States and Russia into war. It could also choke off oil supplies from the world’s largest energy export hub. …….

May 11, 2018 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain coy about whether or not it is funding Hitachi nuclear power project in Wales

Britain plays down media report of Hitachi nuclear deal, Susanna Twidale  -10 May LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Britain’s government on Wednesday played down a media report that it will guarantee Hitachi Ltd’s Horizon Nuclear Power loans for the construction of two reactors in Wales.

British Prime Minister Theresa May met Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi last week in London and asked him to go ahead with the project, conveying the government’s intention to fully guarantee the loans, Japan’s Mainichi newspaper paper said, without citing a source.

“We don’t recognise these reports,” a spokesman for Britain’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in an emailed statement.

“Nuclear power remains a crucial part of the UK’s energy future but we have always been clear that this must be delivered at the right price for consumers and taxpayers,” he said.

Britain is seeking new ways to fund nuclear projects after criticism over a deal awarded to France’s EDF to build the first nuclear plant in Britain for 20 years, which could cost consumers 30 billion pounds.

“These discussions are commercially sensitive and we have no further details at this time,” the BEIS spokesman said.

Hitachi’s Horizon plans to construct at least 5.4 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity at two sites in Britain – the first at Wylfa Newydd in Wales, and a second at Oldbury-on-Severn in England.

…….. The Mainichi report said Hitachi is still pushing for the British government to take a stake in the project and guarantee electricity prices to ensure it is profitable.

The cost of the Hitachi project in Wales has ballooned to 3 trillion yen (20.2 billion pounds) due to tougher safety measures, the newspaper said. Hitachi declined to comment, when contacted by Reuters.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale, Yoshiyasu Shida and Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Alexandra Hudson

May 11, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Hitachi encouraged by British assurance of guaranteed loan for Wylfa nuclear power plant construction

Mainichi 9th May 2018 [Machine Translation] The UK government presented to Hitachi about a debt
guarantee for the full amount of borrowing necessary for the project, surrounding Hitachi’s nuclear power plant project to be planned in central UK.

Until now, the Japanese government had a policy of guaranteeing debt from borrowing from Japanese banks. The British government, which had been asked to strengthen support from Hitachi, said it showed stronger involvement in finance.

Based on this, Hitachi is expected to judge continuation of investment within the month. As a loan, 3 megabanks such as
Mitsubishi UFJ Bank and other government-affiliated international cooperation banks are planning to participate from Japan, and it was planned that the Japan Trade Insurance, wholly owned by the government, will guarantee the loans of three lines.

However, in late April, the British government showed Hitachi’s intention to guarantee full debt of both Japanese and English bank loans. Prior to this, Hitachi reported that there is a possibility of withdrawing from business unless UK government’s adequate support is obtained, the UK side seems to have presented as part of the support measures.

If the loan is burned down due to an accident or the like due to the guarantee of debt, there is a possibility that the
British people will eventually bear a burden. Although the burden of Hitachi is not immediately reduced compared with the case where the Japanese government guarantees the debt, the British government owes the risk of the failure of the project, so that the meaning that the British government can continue to support in the future can be expected is there.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Hitachi Ltd’s Horizon Nuclear Power unit has received assurance of UK govt funding for nuclear build in Wales

Reuters 9th May 2018, Hitachi Ltd’s Horizon Nuclear Power unit has received an assurance from
the British government that it will guarantee loans for the construction of
two reactors in Wales, the Mainichi newspaper reported on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May met Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi
last week in London and asked him to go ahead the project, conveying the
government’s intention to fully guarantee the loans, the paper said,
without citing a source.

As the project costs have increased to meet new safety provisions, Hitachi is still pushing for the British government to
take a stake in the project and guarantee electricity prices to ensure it
is profitable, the Mainichi said. The cost of the Hitachi project in Wales
has ballooned to 3 trillion yen ($27.4 billion) due to the tougher safety
measures, the newspaper said.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Current activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site

Something’s going on at North Korea’s nuclear test site, By Anna Fifield and Adam Taylor, 11 May 2018 —  Tokyo: North Korea could be taking preliminary steps to close its nuclear test site, according to new satellite images that suggest Kim Jong-un might be making good on one of the surprising pledges he’s made over the last month.

Or, he’s making the rest of the world think he is by arranging a performance for the satellites that pass overhead.

Satellite images taken since last month’s inter-Korean summit show a steady reduction in the number of buildings around North Korea’s known nuclear test site, built under Mount Mantap in the Punggye-ri area in the north of the country.

“At the very least, this a welcome PR move,” said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia program at the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California.

“Over the past two weeks, five or six buildings have inexplicably come down,” Lewis said, citing commercial satellite images from the San Francisco-based firm Planet Labs that have a resolution comparable to Google maps. “Something is clearly happening there.”

As part of the extraordinary rapprochement now going on, North Korea has vowed to dismantle the test site, where all six of its nuclear detonations have taken place, this month. But as with so many things about North Korea, it’s difficult to tell how much of this is wheat and how much is chaff.

Kim made the pledge during a historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which laid the groundwork for a meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump that will likely take place in the next month or so.

Kim said he would invite security experts and journalists to the North to observe the closure of the site, the South’s presidential Blue House said.

All six of North Korea’s nuclear tests have taken place deep under the mountain at Punggye-ri, with five of them occurring in the tunnel complex accessed through an entrance known as the north portal. There are two other entrances to the site, the west and south portals.

The last test, in September last year, was so huge that some experts wondered if Mount Mantap was suffering from “tired mountain syndrome” and had become unusable. But numerous nuclear experts have cast doubt on that theory, noting that even if the tunnels leading to the north portal were unusable, the other two entrances could still be operational.

Tunnelling and activity at the west portal had been visible as recently as April 20, a week before the inter-Korean summit, according to an analysis for 38 North, a website devoted to North Korea.

There are clusters of buildings at the portals, including administration buildings and a command center, as well as smaller buildings.

The big, main buildings are still there but the smaller, more peripheral ones at the north and south portals, the entrances to the main tunnels, have come down, Lewis said.

This could be part of the preparations for inviting journalists and experts to watch the closure of the site, which, Lewis said, could be as simple – and as reversible – as blocking the portals.

“Shutting down the test site is something they can easily do. It’s just tunnels so they can seal the entrances – but they can also unseal them,” he said.

“And the tunnels are always going to be there,” he added, unless North Korea blows up the whole site.

Still, analysts wanting to be optimistic about the diplomatic process say that declaring the site finished and taking some steps towards closing it would support their theory that Kim is making an effort, just like this week’s release of three Americans who had been held in North Korea.

But sceptics say that closing a test site that might well be spent is just cosmetic.

A group of Chinese scientists last month said they believe the test site had collapsed after September’s huge test, which caused an earthquake so big that satellites caught images of the mountain above the site actually moving.

North Korea claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb, which would be exponentially more powerful than the atomic devices previously tested, and experts said the size of the earthquake suggested that it had indeed been a hydrogen, or thermonuclear, explosion.

Adding to theory that the site has outlived its utility is new research from scientists from the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technical University, who claim to have found evidence that the damage at Mount Mantap was more substantial than other research shows.

In their study, which will be published in the journal Science on Thursday, they argued that by using satellite radar imagery to supplement ground-based seismological readings they were able to gain a more accurate picture of the September 3 test.

Sylvain Barbot, a researcher with the Earth Observatory of Singapore, wrote in an e-mail that the nuclear test last year was so large that “we could ‘feel’ it from space.”

The amount of shaking that accompanied the explosion was so severe that traditional radar measurements were inaccurate, Barbot said, and his team had to use unusual techniques to compensate for significant changes in the landscape.

By using these techniques, the researchers were able to estimate a depth for the nuclear detonation: Around 450 metres, beneath the summit of Mount Mantap. Researchers then combined this information with seismological readings to come up with an estimated yield for the weapon of between 120 kilotons to 304 kilotons.

Much of this range would be far higher than officials from the United States and South Korea estimate.

The researchers also found evidence that a significant part of Mount Mantap had collapsed after the explosion, supporting the Chinese study. A “very large” part of the facility had collapsed, Barbot said, “not merely a tunnel or two.”

Washington Post

May 11, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America got the Iran nuclear program going

How America Jump-Started Iran’s Nuclear Program, History,  // MAY 9, 2018 

For several decades now, the U.S. has sought to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But ironically, the reason Iran has the technology to build these weapons in the first place is because the U.S. gave it to Iran between 1957 and 1979. This nuclear assistance was part of a Cold War strategy known as “Atoms for Peace.”

The strategy’s name comes from Dwight Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech, given before the United Nations General Assembly in 1953. In it, he suggested that promoting the non-military use of nuclear technology could discourage countries from using it to create nuclear weapons, or “Atoms for War.”

The speech came only eight years after the invention of the atomic bomb, at a time when the U.S. was anxious to keep these new and frightening weapons from proliferating around the world. Strange as it sounds, President Eisenhower viewed his “Atoms for Peace” strategy partly as a form of arms control.

“He thought that sharing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes would reduce the incentives of countries to want to make nuclear bombs,” says Matthew Fuhrmann, a political science professor at Texas A&M University and author of Atomic Assistance: How “Atoms for Peace” Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity. ……..

the U.S. provided nuclear assistance to countries it wanted to influence, such as Israel, India, Pakistan, and Iran.

At the time, the U.S. was closely allied with Iran’s Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. So closely, in fact, that when Iran toppled the Shah’s monarchy and democratically elected a prime minister, the CIA staged a 1953 coup d’état that put the Shah back in power. Part of the reason the U.S. valued Iran as an ally was because of its strategic location bordering the Soviet Union. During the early part of the Cold War, the U.S. set up a base in Iran to monitor Soviet activity.

In this context, the United States’ nuclear cooperation with Iran “was, in part, a means to shore up the relationship between those countries,” Fuhrmann says. The cooperation lasted until 1979, when the the Iranian Revolution ousted the Shah and the U.S. lost the country as an ally.

All of the nuclear technology the U.S. provided Iran during those years was supposed to be for peaceful nuclear development. But the “Atoms for Peace” strategy ended up having some unintended consequences.

“A lot of that infrastructure could also be used to produce plutonium or weapons-grade, highly-enriched uranium, which are the two critical materials you need to make nuclear bombs,” Fuhrmann says. In effect, the U.S. laid the foundations for the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Iran first became seriously interested in creating nuclear weapons during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War. It tried unsuccessfully to develop them in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Still, Iranian nuclear development remains an international concern, especially now that Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In the weeks leading up to Trump’s decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to convince him to exit the deal by arguing that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons. Other policy experts and world leaders have rejected this claim, and Fuhrmann says he’s seen no evidence that “Iran has violated the deal, or that Iran has done anything since 2003 … to build nuclear bombs.”

However, now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the nuclear deal, Fuhrmann worries “Iran is going to have incentives to do those things, whereas under the deal, those incentives were greatly reduced.”

May 11, 2018 Posted by | history, Iran, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Congress approves bill to revive Nevada nuclear waste dump plan

House approves bill to revive Nevada nuclear waste dump    WP,  May 10   WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday approved an election-year bill to revive the mothballed nuclear waste dump at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain despite opposition from home-state lawmakers.

Supporters say the bill would help solve a nuclear-waste storage problem that has festered for more than three decades. More than 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants sit idle in 121 communities across 39 states.

The bill would direct the Energy Department to continue a licensing process for Yucca Mountain while also moving forward with a separate plan for a temporary storage site in New Mexico or Texas.

The House approved the bill, 340-72, sending the measure to the Senate, where Nevada’s two senators have vowed to block it.

“The House can vote all they want to revive #YuccaMountain, but let’s be clear – any bill that would turn Nevadans’ backyards into a nuclear waste dump is dead on arrival,” Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto tweeted. “Yucca will never be anything more than a hole in the ground.”

……. “The House can vote all they want to revive #YuccaMountain, but let’s be clear – any bill that would turn Nevadans’ backyards into a nuclear waste dump is dead on arrival,” Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto tweeted. “Yucca will never be anything more than a hole in the ground.”

……..While the fight over Yucca resumes, lawmakers say they hope to make progress on a plan to temporarily house tons of spent fuel that have been piling up at nuclear reactors around the country. Private companies have proposed state-of-the-art, underground facilities in remote areas of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico to store nuclear waste for up to 40 years.

The nuclear industry has said temporary storage must be addressed since the licensing process for Yucca Mountain would take years under a best-case scenario.


May 11, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment