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In nuclear talks, Kim Jong Un fears risking the same fate as Muammar Gaddafi of Libya

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

Why North Korea is angered by ‘Libya Model’ in nuclear talks https://www.smh.com.au/world/why-north-korea-is-angered-by-libya-model-in-nuclear-talks-20180517-h10674.html
By Megan Specia and David Sange, 

When North Korea suddenly threw a historic summit with the United States into question on Wednesday, it cited – five times – the fate of another country and another leader, half a world away, as an example of why no one should trust American efforts to disarm another nation.

The country was Libya, and the leader was Muammar Gaddafi, who made a bad bet that he could swap his nascent nuclear program for economic integration with the USA.

That deal, executed by the Bush administration nearly 15 years ago, is a footnote to American histories of that era. But it has always loomed large for the North Koreans.

The planned June 12 meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been regarded by disarmament advocates as an opportunity to end decades of animosity between North Korea and the US.

But in the mind of Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, who was an architect of the Libya deal, that is the model of how things should play out as the two leaders meet: Complete nuclear disarmament in return for the promise of economic integration. Bolton said as much last weekend.

In issuing its threat to back out of the summit meeting, the North referred to Bolton’s comments, calling them a “Libya mode of nuclear abandonment”.

So why is the Libya model suddenly becoming a sticking point in the meeting between Trump and Kim?

What happened in Libya

In 2003, Gaddafi saw the US invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, and may well have concluded he was next. In a lengthy, secret set of negotiations with Britain and the US, he agreed to voluntarily hand over the equipment he had purchased from Abdul Qadeer Khan, a leader of the Pakistani nuclear program. North Korea and Iran had also been customers of Khan, who was later placed under house arrest after his activities were exposed.

The Libya material was flown out of the country, much of it placed at a US weapons laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. When president George W. Bush announced the deal, he made a clear reference to North Korea and Iran when he said “I hope other leaders will find an example” in Libya’s action.

What happened less than a decade later might be at the heart of what Kim appears to fear.

The US and its European allies began a military action against Libya in 2011 to prevent Gaddafi’s threatened massacre of civilians. US president Barack Obama acceded to arguments from secretary of state Hillary Clinton to join the European-led action.

But no one in the Situation Room debated what message the decision to turn on Gaddafi might send to other countries the US was trying to persuade to relinquish their weapons, according to interviews conducted later with more than half a dozen people engaged in the discussion.

The Libya intervention allowed anti-government rebels to put Gaddafi on the run, and months later they pulled him from a ditch and killed him. Since then, Libya has devolved into a dysfunctional state. And North Korea has taken notice.

North Korea’s Libya fears

North Korea’s fear of meeting the same fate as Libya – or maybe more specifically its leader meeting the same fate as Gaddafi – has appeared to factor into North Korea’s thinking about its own weapons program for years.

In 2011, after the US and allies launched airstrikes in Libya, North Korea’s foreign minister said the denuclearisation of the North African nation had been an “an invasion tactic to disarm the country”.

After Gaddafi was killed, the narrative in North Korea became clear: Had he not surrendered his nuclear program, North Korean officials said, he might still be alive.

In 2016, shortly after North Korea conducted a nuclear test, its state-run news outlet, the Korean Central News Agency, made direct reference to Libya and Iraq. “History proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasured sword for frustrating outsiders’ aggression,” the agency said.

“The Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and the Gaddafi regime in Libya could not escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations for nuclear development and giving up nuclear programs of their own accord,” it said.

But North Korea was also clear to draw a line between itself and the two nations. Its statement on Wednesday said it was off base to suggest that the “dignified state” of North Korea could share the same destiny as Libya or Iraq, which “collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers”.

“The world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq, which have met miserable fates,” the statement said. The North made explicit reference to a homegrown achievement that Gaddafi never neared: It had already become a nuclear-armed country.

Unlike North Korea, Libya was not actually a nuclear weapons state. During inspections in 2003, the Americans discovered Libya had centrifuges that could be used to produce highly enriched uranium – fuel for a bomb.

“It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya, which had been at the initial state of nuclear development,” the North Korean statement said, using the initials for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea has tested six nuclear weapons, and US intelligence agencies believe it has 20 to 60 more, as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States.

What is the White House saying about the Libya model?

North Korea’s statement Wednesday also made direct reference to Bolton.

In his first televised interviews after becoming national security adviser last month, Bolton told Face the Nation on CBS and Fox News Sunday that Libya’s denuclearisation was what he envisioned when moving ahead with North Korea talks.

“We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004,” he said on Fox. “There are obviously differences. The Libyan program was much smaller, but that was basically the agreement that we made.”

When a reporter asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, specifically about the Libya model and if the administration’s approach to North Korea would be the same, she backed away from Bolton’s comparison.

“I haven’t seen that as part of any discussions, so I am not aware that that’s a model that we are using,” Sanders said Wednesday. “There is not a cookie cutter on how this works.”  New York Times

 

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May 18, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | 2 Comments

The British government has offered 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) to Hitachi to built Wylfa nuclear power station

British government offers $18 billion to Hitachi’s UK nuclear project: Kyodo, Reuters Staff TOKYO (Reuters) 17 May 18 – The British government has offered 2 trillion yen ($18 billion)in financial support to a unit of Japan’s Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) to build nuclear reactors in Wales, Kyodo News reported on Thursday.

…….. The British government is offering support in loans and other ways to Hitachi unit Horizon Nuclear Power to cover a large proportion of the cost of its Wylfa Newydd project in Wales, Kyodo reported, citing a source close to the matter.

…….. Hitachi could decide as early as this week whether to go ahead, Kyodo said. It said the government’s offer was aimed at easing concerns about rising cost expectations, which have increased to 3 trillion yen.

A Hitachi spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The Kyodo report cited unidentified observers questioning whether the government would be able to carry out the offer, due to parliamentary opposition.

The British government played down a Japanese media report last week which said it would guarantee loans for the construction of the two reactors in Wales.

Britain is seeking new ways to fund nuclear projects after drawing criticism over a deal awarded to France’s EDF (EDF.PA) to build the UK’s first nuclear plant for 20 years, which could cost 30 billion pounds ($40 billion).

Hitachi’s Horizon plans to construct at least 5.4 gigawatts of nuclear capacity at two sites in Britain – the first at Wylfa Newydd, and the second at Oldbury-on-Severn in England…….. Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick and Kiyoshi Takenaka; additional reporting by Nina Chestney in London; editing by Christian Schmollinger, Jason Neely and Dale Hudson https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-nuclear-hitachi/british-government-offers-18-billion-to-hitachis-uk-nuclear-project-kyodo-idUSKCN1II17C

May 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

National Geographic now a stooge for the International Church of Nuclear

Wild Edens” i s a new documentary series from National Geographic, initiated by Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation

The first film in the series premiered at the X International Forum ATOMEXPO 2018, held on May 14-16 in Sochi (Russia). The documentary will be broadcast on the National Geographic channel in summer 2018.

The premiere was introduced by Ben Heard, from Australia. Pretty much unknown in Australia, Heard is very well known and revered  by the global lobbyists for “new nuclear” –  Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, –  by Rosatom, by the South African nuclear lobby, and American companies like Terrestrial Energy.

Wild Edens promises to focus on climate change. Heard is happy to “ see a major corporation like Rosatom step boldly forward in this way and claim this issue on behalf of nuclear technologies“.

The series is filmed in the world’s most stunning untouched places and their inhabitants – wildlife and fauna alike, endangered by the effects of climate change”  – blah blah

Like a few other recent documentaries ( “Pandora’s Promise”, “Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” and a Brian Cox documentary) – this will be a very soft sell for the nuclear industry.

It will surely be very beautiful, informative about wild places, and worth watching. Just be aware of the underlying religious propaganda about:

  • nuclear power being the essential cure for climate change
  • nuclear power being clean and green
  • nuclear waste problem being solved now, or will be solved.

Ben Heard launches the project

May 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | 2 Comments

Greenpeace demands strict safety controls on floating nuclear reactor in the Arctic

Floating nuclear power plant reaches the Arctic, Greenpeace demands strict safety controls   by Greenpeace International    Vienna, Austria – As Russia’s state-run corporation Rosatom prepares to celebrate the arrival of its first purpose-built floating nuclear power plant in the Arctic city of Murmansk, campaigners are warning of threats to people and nature and calling for a full environmental impact assessment and independent nuclear oversight.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, safety, technology | Leave a comment

The business case for nuclear power – Oh – it’s NOT GOOD

Nuclear industry urged to address business case, 16TH MAY 2018 ,BY: REBECCA CAMPBELL CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR   Decisions on the future energy mix for South Africa need to be forward looking, not backward looking. So affirmed EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland in his keynote address to the National Nuclear Regulator’s second Nuclear Regulatory Information Conference on Wednesday.

Nuclear power in South Africa was constructed in the 1980s and has served South Africa well for the past three decades,” he said. It was the cheapest electricity source in the country until a decade ago. But that was no longer the case, he stated. Nuclear power would now be more expensive than new coalpower, or gas generation or renewable energy sources. …….

…………”The nuclear sector needs to address the real elephants in the room,” he asserted. “In my view the biggest elephant in the room is not the technology, but the business case.” There is great uncertainty about the future demand for grid electricity. Megaprojects have high costs and risks. Nuclear power plants also have long construction periods and high up-front costs. There are serious financing issues, both with the public and private sectors in South Africa (local institutions were unwilling to invest in nuclear projects). Nuclear power plants had to be run constantly at a high output level for maximum efficiency.

The risk associated with nuclear power was not low. While the risk of technological failure was low, when such failures did happen, the consequences were very serious. The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan had very severe financial consequences. Consequently, the private sector was reluctant to insure nuclear power plants, leaving that to governments.

Moreover, a nuclear new build programme would require a 100-year commitment to an energy technology and a specific vendor — in an uncertain world. He observed that nuclear energy was more prone to political interference because of geopolitical factors. At home, the image of the nuclearindustry had been severely damaged by its association, in the public mind, with former President Jacob Zuma and the allegations of large-scale corruption involving him, key members of his administration, and high ranking officials…….http://www.miningweekly.com/article/nuclear-industry-urged-to-address-business-case-not-technology-2018-05-16/rep_id:3650

May 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

A New ‘Screw Nevada’ Bill Passes the House

A New ‘Screw Nevada’ Bill Passes the House

On Thursday, May 10, the  U.S. House of Representatives approved the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 2018 – HR 3053 – by a vote of 206 to 179, with 94 Democrats and 85 Republicans voting ‘Nay.’

Now, what some Nevadans have dubbed, ‘The Screw Nevada Bill 2.0,’ will go to the Senate, perhaps in this Session.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, just as with the first attempt to push it as the national high-level radioactive waste repository, opposition in Nevada continues to be strong.

In a letter to House leaders, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce made the quite logical point that,

Nevada is ranked by the U.S. Geological Survey as the fourth most active seismic area in the United States. The potential for seismic activity in the region raises serious questions about the logic and prudence of storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Seismic activity in the region is another reason why Yucca Mountain is not a feasible or practical site for the storage of nuclear waste.

And in their own letter to the House, Las Vegas business owners made it clear that,

We stand with the many concerned citizens, small-business operators and bipartisan members of the Nevada delegation in staunch opposition to any attempt to restart the repository licensing process and will work tirelessly to ensure that radioactive waste is never stored anywhere near the world’s entertainment capital in Las Vegas.

The Shimkus Bill

Named for its author, Illinois Rep. Congressman John Shimkus, the legislation seeks to renew the licensing and funding process to re-open Yucca Mt., and authorize a so-called Centralized Interim Storage (CIS) program that would trigger massive, on-going shipments of high-level radioactive wastes on the country’s poorly-maintained network of highways, bridges and rail lines, through major population centers, for many years to come.

Grassroots nuclear safety advocacy groups have variously dubbed the plan ‘Mobil Chernobyl’ and ‘the Fukushima Freeway.’  Each of the 10,000 plus shipments would contain roughly the same amount of radioactive Cesium as was released by Chernobyl, and as much plutonium as was in the Hiroshima bomb.

To some, it may seem ironic that, as China moves ahead on its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, known as the ‘New Silk Road’ – a trade and transport network across Eurasia, Africa and beyond – forces in the U.S. are hard at work to establish a network of ’new nuke roads’ all across America.

Revisiting the Sad, Silly Saga of Yucca Mountain

In Nevada, just across the California border, sits a volcanic formation called Yucca Mountain.  It’s in a region of ongoing volcanic and earthquake activity, on land long held sacred – and still claimed as tribal land according to the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley – the Western Shoshone and the Southern Paiute.  Largely composed of a porous material called volcanic tuff, the mountain is permeable to water penetration and sits in close proximity to an aquifer extensively used by regional inhabitants – both native American and white – for their drinking and agricultural water supplies.

Yucca is located about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in what’s called the Great Basin, south of the Nevada Test and Training Range in the Nevada National Security Site, where over a hundred atmospheric and underground nuclear bomb tests were carried out for decades.  It is, in large part, already a national nuclear ‘sacrifice area.’

In the government’s search for permanent deep geological repositories in which to bury the country’s energy and weapons waste that it pledged to take possession of and responsibility for, the government’s original goal was to identify and ‘scientifically characterize’ at least two sites, one east, one west of the Great Divide.

As the process played out over the years, however, it came to be more one of politics than of science.  Of the nation’s 99 licensed, operating reactors, less than a dozen are West of the Mississippi.  The so-called ‘NIMBY’ or ‘Not In My Backyard’ syndrome kicked in big time.  Eventually just three potential sites were identified, all in the west: in Texas, Washington and Nevada – with the latter being at the time the state with the least political clout.

Thus, in 1987, came to be passed the first, now infamous “Screw Nevada” bill.

Though Nevada has no nuclear power plants of its own, its Yucca Mountain site became the sole target for waste from all the nation’s nuclear energy and weapons-producing states.  Millions of dollars were spent in an attempt to justify ‘scientifically’ a site that had actually been chosen politically.

But then, for a while at least, the political balance of power changed.  Enter Nevada Senator Harry Reid.

As an erstwhile Democratic power broker, Reid secured a pre-election promise from then-candidate Obama to shutter the Yucca project in return for electoral support.  Once in the White House, President Obama actually kept his promise.  In 2009, the project was effectively terminated: its staff scattered to other employment, its equipment sold off, its infrastructure allowed to sink into desuetude, the site effectively abandoned.  Just a big, expensive hole in the volcanic tuff, a monument to the nation’s on-going nuclear follies.

Then the political balance of power picture changed again with Senator Reid’s retirement and the GOP/Trump ascendancy.

Back in 2014 the unashamedly ‘captive regulatory agency,’ the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), had set the stage for a potential Yucca revival by releasing a long-delayed report concluding that the Department of Energy had “demonstrated compliance with NRC regulatory requirements” that would limit leakage from the repository for the long-term.

A New York Times headline of the day trumpeted, “Calls to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste site, now deemed safe.” Rep. Congressman John Shimkus – from the nation’s most densely nuclearized state, Illinois – exulted, “Today’s report confirms what we’ve expected all along: Nuclear waste stored under that mountain, in that desert, surrounded by federal land, will be safe and secure for at least a million years.”

The Distinguished Gentleman from Illinois then introduced H.R 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018, which passed the House today.

Close analysis of the Shimkus Bill reveals that, if passed in its present form, it will:

  – Preempt or jeopardize existing federal, state and local water and air rights, and rights to oversight, input, transparency, and other rights, including congressional oversight.

  – Remove storage and transport safety requirements needed to prevent radioactive leaks.

  – Provide inadequate funding to transport and store nuclear fuel waste.

  – Make federal reimbursement for nuclear waste storage discretionary instead of mandatory.

  – Allow ownership of nuclear fuel waste to be transferred to the Department of Energy (DOE) at existing nuclear utility sites, making them vulnerable to insufficient funding for nuclear waste storage. Current DOE nuclear waste sites have repeatedly leaked radiation into groundwater and air partly because of this.  https://sanonofresafety.org/

Once upon some indefinite future date, when Yucca is deemed ready to take all that waste from ‘interim’ sites, it is slated to be moved again, for ‘permanent isolation’ in the site’s volcanic tuff.

There are many problems with this rosy scenario, of which more below.  But chief among them, according to many critics – including former NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky – is that “The NRC staff did not explain, and no one in the media seems to have caught on, that its favorable conclusion reflected the Energy Department’s pie-in-the-sky design for Yucca Mountain—not the repository as it is likely to be configured.

In his 2014 article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, ‘Yucca Mountain redux,’ Gilinsky explains,

The [actual] likely repository configuration doesn’t come close to meeting NRC requirements.  The key design element in question is something the Energy Department calls a “drip shield.” This is a kind of massive, corrosion-resistant titanium alloy mailbox that is supposed to sit over each of the thousands of waste canisters in Yucca Mountain’s underground tunnels. In NRC’s definition, it is designed “to prevent seepage water from directly dripping onto the waste package outer surface.”

The name drip shield itself is a giveaway that there is a water problem at Yucca Mountain. There is indeed a lot more water, and it is flowing faster, than the Energy Department imagined when it picked the site, which is why it added the drip shield to the original design. Without the titanium shields, dripping water would corrode the waste canisters placed in the repository and release radioactive waste, and the moving underground water would carry it to the nearby environment.

Using the corrosion data in the Energy Department’s license application, one can calculate that this corrosion would take not the “million years” cited by Mr. Shimkus, but about 1,000 years.

Nonetheless, the NRC-approved DOE plan – in an apparent attempt to make up-front costs more palatable to Congress – does not call for the installation of the ‘drip shields’ until a hundred years have passed.

Gilinsky concludes, “If you look more closely into the situation, you can’t escape the conclusion that it is highly implausible that the drip shields will ever be installed. In fact, as a practical matter, it may not even be physically possible to install them.”

Pie-in-the-Underground

Will the DOE, or the US government even exist in a hundred years?  Will the know-how, institutional memory, technology, manufacturing base and funding still be available at that distant date to build the necessary infrastructure to allow robots to enter the highly radioactive, probably geologically degraded and possibly collapsed repository tunnels to perform the intricate operations required to install hypothetical ‘drip shields’ that have not as yet even been designed or fabricated?

And what deadly, irremediable leakage into the environment will by then have occurred?

Ian Zabarte, spokesperson for the Western Shoshone, calls this environmental racism.

Meanwhile, the bureaucratic, technological, budgetary and political impediments to actually restarting the project are legion, and sure to delay any real progress for years, if not decades.

Based on its record, there’s no use expecting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to act in the interest of public safety.  Gilinsky points out that,

A truly independent regulatory agency—one truly representing the public interest—would not have been silent on the low likelihood that drip shields will ever be installed and would have insisted on getting the Energy Department’s calculations on what happens if the drip shields don’t get installed. What it comes down to is this: The NRC is going along with a shell game to advance the political fortunes of the Yucca Mountain project.

CIS – A Nuclear Shell Game – Fighting ‘Fukushima Freeway’

So just imagine, if you dare, the following proposed harebrained scenario known as ‘Consolidated Interim Storage’ or CIS:

For decades to come, ultra-heavy shipments of thousands of metric tons of high-level radioactive waste will become a common daily occurrence on America’s already rickety roads, railways and collapsing bridges, headed for the Southwest.

They will pass un-announced – but probably easily identified by those who know what to look for – through our nation’s towns and densely populated urban areas, vulnerable to human error, accidents and terrorist attacks.

Their deadly radiation fields – extending for a yard in every direction – will shower train passengers and motorists, unlucky enough to share those routes and be close enough, with DNA and immune system damage.

The shipment carriers will pull into gas stations, truck stops and roadside rest areas, exposing the luckless families, children and pregnant women nearby using those same facilities.

Then, if they do manage to reach their temporary, ‘interim’ waste consolidation sites without catastrophe, they will eventually hit the road again, on their way to the mythical Yucca repository.

Local Opposition

Eighty percent of Nevada residents and elected officials strongly oppose this Yucca reboot plan.  As before, their legal and technical opposition will prevent the plan from going forward for many years.  Additionally, a new railroad line would need to be built through several mountain ranges at great expense.  Will Congress provide the funding?

But, what might be more immediately enabled, are two proposed ‘interim storage facilities’ currently seeking NRC license approval on either side of the New Mexico-Texas border.  A few politicians are promoting these sites as ‘good for the local economy,’ but public opposition is strong among those who know about the plan – including the region’s growers, dairy ranchers and especially oil men for whom the region is a fracking and drilling cash cow.

Both proposed sites are in what locals call ‘Nuclear Alley,’ just down the road from the Urenco uranium enrichment plant and the infamous Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIIP), site of the recent nuclear ‘cat litter’ explosion.

If approved as part of the Shimkus Bill’s Consolidated Interim Storage provision, these ‘parking lot’ dumps could well become the nation’s de facto permanent radioactive waste depository, in the very likely event that Yucca never gets built.

More on that in future articles, except to note that the dire implications of CIS and its ‘Fukuishima Freeway’ failed to be acknowledged in the House’s approval of HR 3053.

For more, check out the Nuclear Information and Resource Service’s Don’t Waste America page.

James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan.  Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection is now in post-production.  He can be reached at  jamesmheddle@gmail.com

May 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration’s incoherence threatens success of nuclear summit with North Korea

White House chaos is the reason North Korea talks are faltering, not a fickle dictator  Quartz, Heather Timmons,  16 May 18 

We have been here before. North Korea, a weaponized family-run dictatorship, seems close to an agreement with Western powers to disarm—only for things to fall apart before that happens.

North Korea is reconsidering holding a summit with Donald Trump, a senior diplomat said May 14. Past deals with the West—in 1985, 1995, and 2005—have also fallen apart.

But if Trump and Kim Jong-un fail to get a deal, or even meet, this time around, the Trump administration’s incoherent and rapidly shifting messaging will be as much to blame as the fickleness of North Korean leaders, a Korean peninsula expert says.

…….. The problem is, it’s impossible to tell whether Trump and his administration have any strategic plan on North Korea, or if they’re just “winging it,” he said. Bolton has said he wants a preemptive strike(paywall), while Pompeo, Guase says, is twisting in the wind: “One day he’s offering a compromise, the next day he’s taking the hardline.” Trump, meanwhile, is likely to listen to whoever he spoke to last.

The National Security Council, the White House, and State Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The White House said Wednesday morning that the turnaround was “fully expected,” despite the fact that Trump last week announced a date for his meeting with Kim, calling it a “special moment for World Peace.”

Later in the day, Trump gave what has become his standard reply on North Korea: “We’ll see what happens.” https://qz.com/1279476/north-korea-talks-are-faltering-because-of-white-house-chaos-not-kim-jong-un/

May 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Britain’s wind power stations providing more electricity than its nuclear stations, in first quarter of 2018

Wind power overtakes nuclear for first time in UK across a quarter https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/wind-power-overtakes-nuclear-for-first-time-in-uk-across-a-quarterNews of milestone comes as MPs say policy changes have caused collapse in investment in renewables, Guardian,  Adam Vaughan, 16 May 18, 

Britain’s windfarms provided more electricity than its eight nuclear power stations in the first three months of 2018, marking the first time wind has overtaken nuclear across a quarter.

The renewable energy industry hailed the milestone as a sign the UK was well on its way to an electricity system powered by cheap, domestic green energy.

Across the first quarter, wind power produced 18.8% of electricity, second only to gas, said a report by researchers at Imperial College London.

At one point overnight on 17 March, wind turbines briefly provided almost half of the UK’s electricity. Wind power helped during the cold snaps, too, supplying 12-43% of electricity during the six subzero days in the first three months of the year.

Two nuclear plants were temporarily offline for routine maintenance, while another was shut because of seaweed in the cooling system.

While wind together with solar supplied more power than nuclear in the final three months of 2017, thiswas the first time wind has managed the feat alone.

Dr Rob Gross, one of the authors of the Drax Electric Insights report, said: “There’s no sign of a limit to what we’re able to do with wind in the near future.”

The opening in December of a new power cable between Scotland and north Wales also helped unlock electricity from Scottish windfarms, some of which would normally be turned off to help National Grid cope.

The Western Link connection has drastically cut the amount of money paid by National Grid to windfarm owners for that curtailment. The company paid £100m in 2017 for curtailment. This year payments are already down by two-thirds.

Emma Pinchbeck, the executive director at industry group RenewableUK, said: “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy.”

News of the quarterly milestone came as MPs said UK emissions targets were threatened by government policy changes, which had caused a collapse in clean energy investment since 2015, including a 56% fall in 2017.

Mary Creagh, Labour MP and chair of the environmental audit committee, said: “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets. But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.”

Separately, the spending watchdog concluded that £23bn spent on a government subsidy scheme for low-carbon heating had been poor value for money and did not deliver its aims.

The public accounts committee said the renewable heat incentive had “wildly optimistic” goals and that the government failed to understand what consumers wanted.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Donald Trump is being manipulated by both Kim Jong Un and his own security adviser John Bolton

On North Korea, Trump is getting played by both sides, WP,     May 16

Since the moment he agreed on a whim to a summit between himself and Kim Jong Un, President Trump has been almost giddy about the breakthrough he’s about to achieve, even musing about his upcoming Nobel Peace Prize.

But like everything about being president, it’s turning out to be more complicated than Trump understands. Today he’s getting a reminder:

North Korea is rapidly moving the goal posts for next month’s summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, saying the United States must stop insisting it “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear program and stop talking about a Libya-style solution to the standoff.

The latest warning, delivered by former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan on Wednesday, fits Pyongyang’s well-established pattern of raising the stakes in negotiations by threatening to walk out if it doesn’t get its way.

This comes just hours after the North Korean regime cast doubt on the planned summit by protesting joint air force drills taking place in South Korea, saying they were ruining the diplomatic mood.

The North Koreans actually have this in common with Trump, who also likes to use threats to walk away as a negotiating tactic………

Trump… has been hyping the possibility of an agreement that results in North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons to an almost absurd degree, given how often these kinds of deals have failed in the past. He clearly wants a “win” he can proclaim as something he accomplished when no other president could. And Kim will use that desire against him.

What does Kim want? Economic assistance and an end to sanctions, obviously. He also wants a summit alongside the leader of the global hegemon, which would grant him enormous prestige. That’s something the United States has withheld from North Korea in the past, but Trump has already granted it. And above all, Kim wants to ensure his own survival and that of his regime.

Which is why most everyone except Trump seems to realize that there is no way Kim is going to give up his nuclear weapons, which he sees — quite rationally — as a guarantee against foreign invasion or a move to depose him.

Here’s where we see how Trump is being played from the other side, most specifically by his new national security adviser, John Bolton. Bolton, who has long advocated that we start bombing North Korea at the earliest possible opportunity, made a point of saying publicly that we should look as a model to the arrangement made with Libya in 2003, in which it gave up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief and a reintegration into the international community.

Which, if you knew nothing about anything, might sound perfectly fine. But to the North Koreans, there’s almost nothing more provocative you could say than bringing up Libya. North Korean officials regularly cite the experience of Libya as precisely the reason they won’t give up their nuclear weapons. Moammar Gaddafi did so, and what happened to him? He was deposed and killed. The same fate befell Saddam Hussein.
……. Given his desire for a military strike, it seems at least possible, and perhaps likely, that Bolton is trying to plant the seeds of doubt that will ultimately result in a breakdown of talks, after which he can say to the president, “Well, sir, we tried. But you see how unreasonable they are. We have no choice but to strike now.”

……. it’s entirely possible Trump will make some kind of agreement in which the North Koreans pledges to do something that costs them little — curtailing future missile tests, leaving the size of their arsenal where it is now — and which they might renege on anyway, just so he can say he got a win and tell everyone he’s the greatest negotiator in history. North Korea, like everyone else in the world, is realizing not just that this isn’t true, but also that Trump actually believes it — and that as a result, it won’t be that hard to manipulate him. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/05/16/on-north-korea-trump-is-getting-played-by-both-sides/?utm_term=.0f959b7bcd80

 

May 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Leaked document shows Britain’s nuclear fuel supply at risk after Brexit

UK missing deadlines for post-Brexit nuclear safeguards, leak shows
Failure to put safeguards in place could disrupt flow of materials needed to fabricate nuclear fuel after Brexit, Guardian,  
Lisa O’Carroll, 17 May 18, 

Brexit deadlines have put the supply of nuclear raw material for power stations at risk, a leaked government document has suggested.

The document, obtained by Sky News, shows that the UK is already missing critical deadlines to put full safeguards in place to keep the flow of components and raw material needed to fabricate nuclear fuel after Brexit.

The UK does not produce uranium. It must have its own safety measures in place, including a governing body to regulate the safe transport of the raw material, once it leaves the European safeguarding body Euroatom after Brexit.

Five “high-level risks” in setting up this government body have been identified by the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation, according to an internal “risk register” paper obtained by Sky.

Work on a new IT system, which should have started by the end of March, is already behind and the deadline has already been “irretrievable lost”, the document says.

The other four areas categorised as “red” on a red, amber, green (RAG) project management ranking including recruitment, lack of training for inspectors and funding.

Failure to arrange the “comprehensive handover” of hardware from Euratom are also cited in the document.

The document was leaked just days after the chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, warned that Britain could have a period with no nuclear fuel unless the safeguards were in place in time. ……..
Scientists have warned that British power stations may not be able to source nuclear fuel if it cannot be legally transported across borders. …….https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/16/uk-missing-deadlines-for-post-brexit-nuclear-safeguards-leak-shows

May 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Solar power is ideal for African countries – nuclear power just doesn’t make sense there

Why nuclear power for African countries doesn’t make sense: The Conversation 15th May 2018 

Over the last  few years reports have surfaced of a range of African countries planning
nuclear power plants. At the moment, the only nuclear plant in operation in
Africa is South Africa’s Koeberg, producing 1.86GW of power. This,
according to some African leaders, is about to change.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently made the astonishing statement that his country is
planning 30GW of nuclear power by 2026. That equates to 16 times the
current total of nuclear energy on the entire African continent.

Uganda’s is only one of a number of countries interested in nuclear power.
Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom has boasted that it’s concluded nuclear
power memoranda of understanding with Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and
Zambia. Uganda is also on the list. Most African countries suffer from
severe electricity shortages. The majority need to double their generating
capacity to meet current needs.

According to International Energy Agency
figures, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia are primarily dependent on hydroelectric
power. A 2.4GW nuclear plant would double their electricity production.
Nigeria’s dominant energy source is gas, and here it would take a 4.8GW
nuclear plant to double its capacity.

Many countries, including Egypt and Kenya, enjoy ample sunshine, making them ideal for solar power generation.
With the right incentives, these could drive an African energy generation
boom.

https://theconversation.com/why-nuclear-power-for-african-countries-doesnt-make-sense-96031

May 18, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Aboriginal people fight against nuclear waste dumping – again and again

EXTRACT from:  A journey to the heart of the anti-nuclear resistance in Australia: Radioactive Exposure Tour 2018, NUCLEAR  MONITOR  Author: Ray Acheson ‒  NM859.4719, May 2018 “……The federal government of Australia wants to build a facility to store and dispose of radioactive waste in South Australia, either at Wallerberdina Station near Hawker or on farming land in Kimba.

Wallerberdina Station is located in the Flinders Ranges, the largest mountain range in South Australia, 540 million years old. Approaching from the north on our drive down from Lake Eyre can only be described as breathtaking. The red dirt, the brown and green bush, and the ever-changing purples, blues, and reds of the mountains themselves are some of the most complex and stunning scenes one can likely see in the world.

Most people might find it shocking that the federal government would want to put a nuclear waste dump smack in the middle of this landscape. But after visiting other sites on the Rad Tour, it was only yet another disappointment ‒ and another point of resistance.

What is known is that the Wallerberdina site is of great cultural, historical, and spiritual significance to the Adnyamathanha people.  It borders the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area, which is a crucial location for biodiversity in the Flinders Ranges. Its unique ecosystem provides a refuge for many native species of flora and fauna, contains many archaeological sites as well as the first registered  Aboriginal Songline of its type in Australia, and is home to Pungka Pudanha, a natural spring and sacred woman’s site.

In case that isn’t enough, the area is a known floodplain. Our travels around the proposed site contained ample evidence of previous floods that sent massive trees rushing down the plain, smashing into each other and into various bridges and other built objects. The last big flood occurred in 2006.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners were not consulted before their land was nominated for consideration by the government for the waste dump. “Through this area are registered cultural heritage sites and places of huge importance to our family, our history and our future,” wrote Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners in a 2015 statement.  “We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything).”

We met Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners Vivianne and Regina McKenzie, and Tony Clark, at the proposed site. They invited us into the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area to view the floodplains and swim in the beautiful Pungka Pudanha. We’d just been camping at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges National Park only a few kilometres away. It is impossible to understand the government’s rationale for wanting to build a toxic waste dump on this land so cherished by its Traditional Owners, local communities, and tourists alike.

The McKenzies have been working tirelessly to prevent the proposed dump from being established, as have other local activists. Fortunately, they have some serious recent successes to inspire them. In 2015, the federal government announced a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste from around the world to South Australia as a commercial enterprise. But Traditional Owners began protesting immediately, arguing that the so-called consultations were not accessible and that misinformation was rife.  In 2016, a Citizen’s Jury, established by then Premier Jay Weatherill and made up of 350 people, deliberated over evidence and information. In November that year, two-thirds of the Jury rejected “under any circumstances” the plan to import or store high-level waste.24 They cited lack of Aboriginal consent, unsubstantiated economic assumptions and projections, and lack of confidence in the governmental proposal’s validity.

Other battles against proposed nuclear waste dumps have been fought and won in South Australia. From 1998 to 2004, the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern South Australia, successfully campaigned against a proposed national nuclear waste dump near Woomera. In an open letter in 2004, the Kungkas wrote: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

Connected communities

The attempts by the Australian government and the nuclear industry to impose a waste dump in the Flinders Ranges, just like their attempts to impose waste dumps and uranium mines elsewhere in the country, or their refusal to compensate victims and survivors of nuclear testing, are all mired with racism. They are rooted in a fundamental dismissal and devaluation of the lives and experiences of indigenous Australians, and of proximity to cities but more importantly, to power.The industry and government’s motivations for imposing nuclear violence on these people and this land are militarism and capitalism.

Profit over people. Weapons over wellbeing. Their capacity for compassion and duty of care has been constrained by chronic short-termism ‒ a total failure to protect future generations. The poison they pull out of the earth, process, sell, allow others to make bombs with, and bury back in the earth, wounds us all now and into the future.

But nuclear weapons are now prohibited under international law. New actors are challenging the possession of nuclear weapons in new ways, and nucleararmed states are facing a challenge like never before.

The nuclear energy industry ‒ and thus the demand for uranium ‒ is declining. Power plants are being shuttered; corporations are facing financial troubles. Dirty and dangerous, the nuclear industry is dying.

This is in no small part due to the relentless resistance against it. This resistance was fierce throughout all of the country we visited, from Woomera up to Lake Eyre, from Roxby Downs to the Flinders Ranges. We listened to stories of those living on this land, we heard their histories, witnessed their actions, and supported their plans…..

https://antinuclear.net/2018/05/12/a-journey-to-the-heart-of-the-anti-nuclear-resistance-in-australia-radioactive-exposure-tour-2018/#more-60401

May 18, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator reviewing Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant

Review of nuclear fuel reprocessing plant resumes https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180517_32/  Japan’s nuclear regulator has resumed its review of an under-construction nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, following a suspension of 8 months because of a maintenance problem discovered last summer.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Thursday resumed its review of the plant in Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture. The resumption came after the plant’s operator, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, gave notice that it has worked out a plan to introduce new safety measures.

Last August, rainwater was found to have flowed into a building for emergency power generators at the plant. The rainwater leak was blamed on a failure by the company to conduct mandatory inspections of the area over a period of several years.

During Thursday’s review session, Japan Nuclear Fuel explained how it will improve its maintenance programs at the plant.

In response, officials from the Regulation Authority said the company should conduct a more rigorous assessment of its past maintenance work.

In future review sessions, the regulator is planning to ask about the company’s contingency plans for emergencies such as the fallout of volcanic ash from a nearby volcano, or a plane crash.

The company is aiming to complete the construction of the plant in 3 years.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

US could use canceled MOX plutonium fuel plant to make new nuclear weapons

MOX got nixed. Now it could be the pits  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/05/16/mox-got-nixed-now-it-could-be-the-pits/   

May 18, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NDP and Greens call for closure of Pickering Nuclear Station in August

 http://www.cleanairalliance.org/ndp-greens-call-for-closure-of-pickering-nuclear-station-in-august/

We sent an all-candidates questionnaire to the leaders of the four major parties running in the provincial election. We asked their position on closing the Pickering Nuclear Station, and on water power imports from Quebec.

 The NDP and the Green Party are calling for the closure of the Pickering Nuclear Station when its licence expires this August.
The Liberal Party supports the continued operation of the Pickering Nuclear Station until 2024.
The PC Party did not respond.
To read the parties’ full responses to our questionnaire, please click here.
The Pickering Nuclear Station is the fourth oldest nuclear plant in North America. It was originally designed to operate for 30 years, but it has now been running for nearly half a century. More than two million people live within 30 km of the Pickering Station – at least twice the number of any other nuclear station on the continent.
A recent report looked at what would happen in the GTA if a major accident occurred at Pickering – similar in scale to the accident that took place at the Fukushima Nuclear Station in Japan. The report found that an accident at Pickering could lead to the evacuation of more than 650,000 people for 30 to 100 years, cause 13,000 cancer deaths, and result in $125 billion in lost real estate value just for single-family homes.
Replacing Pickering’s electricity with water power from Quebec would lower our electricity costs by $1.1 billion per year and eliminate our need to export surplus electricity to the U.S. at a financial loss.
By immediately dismantling and decommissioning Pickering after it closes, we can create 32,000 person-years of direct and indirect employment between now and 2032. This will permit most of the 300 hectare Pickering waterfront site to be revitalized and returned to the local community by 2032.
The full cost of decommissioning can be funded by money that is already in Ontario Power Generation’s Nuclear Decommissioning Fund.
Ask candidates where they stand when reaching out for your vote, and let them know where you stand.

May 18, 2018 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment