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Nuclear politics -theme for June 2018

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimate the “Doomsday Clock” at two minutes to midnight–  meaning that the chances of a catastrophic nuclear war are very high:   Major nuclear actors are on the cusp of a new arms race, one that will be very expensive and will increase the likelihood of accidents and misperceptions. Across the globe, nuclear weapons are poised to become more rather than less usable because of nations’ investments in their nuclear arsenals.

 

For whatever reason –   because  national political leaders tend to be sociopaths, or because they’re beholden to the nuclear and weapons industries, and to the military – they are in the main, focused on distrust, hostility, and confrontation with each other.

USA, formerly the most influential world power, is now stuck with an incompetent negotiator, and a dangerous narcissist, in Donald Trump. The North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is consequently looking more reasonable, by comparison. Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and China’s Xi Jinping are watching as the Korean Peninsula crisis unfolds. South Korean leader Moon Jae-in continues to try desperately for a peaceful solution.

Meanwhile, animosities continue between India’s President Modi  and Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain.

Iran and Europe try to hang on to the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Middle East conflicts involve “proxy wars” between not only USA and Russia, but also Iran versus Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Israel has nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates almost certainly aim to get nuclear. weapons.

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All this is joy to the global nuclear power industry, which is now publicly recognised as an essential part of nuclear weapons development, as well as delight for the military top brass, and for the nuclear weapons industry, – both now receiving out of control amounts of tax-payer  money

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May 28, 2018 Posted by | Christina's themes | 4 Comments

Donald Trump managing to isolate USA’s allies, by his failures in negotiation

Think Progress 25th May 2018 , The events of the past few days signal a worrying trend for the administration of President Donald Trump: The world will not hold its breath for the United States on issues of international politics and
security.

In trying to isolate his targets — Iran and North Korea — what Trump has so far done is push his allies away from the United States and closer to states he views as hostile. First, North Korea: That the talks in the lead up to the now-cancelled June summit to negotiate Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missiles weren’t going well for the past week was obvious. North Korea balked at comments made by National Security Adviser John Bolton (who called for the “Libya model” of denuclearization) and Vice President Mike Pence (who flat out said North Korea might end up like Libya).
https://thinkprogress.org/iran-north-korea-nuclear-issues-world-moves-on-without-us-4a380e4047d9/

May 28, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Thousands Held Arbitrarily – increasing numbers in Detention Without Trial in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: Thousands Held Arbitrarily, Dramatic Increase in Detention Without Trial  Human Rights Watch , 6 May 18, (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia is detaining thousands of people for more than six months, in some cases for over a decade, without referring them to courts for criminal proceedings. Saudi Arabia’s attorney general should promptly charge or release all criminal defendants and stop holding people arbitrarily.

Human Rights Watch analyzed data from a public online Interior Ministry database, which revealed that authorities have detained 2,305 people who are under investigation for more than six months without referring them to a judge. The number held for excessively long periods has apparently increased dramatically in recent years. A similar Human Rights Watch analysis in May 2014 revealed that only 293 people had been held under investigation for that period.

“If Saudi authorities can hold a detainee for months on end with no charges, it’s clear that the Saudi criminal justice system remains broken and unjust, and it only seems to be getting worse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“It seems that MBS’s ‘Vision2030’ plan better describes the length of detentions without charge than an aspirational time horizon for reforms.”

Saudi Arabia’s use of arbitrary detention has faced increasing scrutiny since the November 4, 2017 mass arrest of 381 people on corruption allegations. The arrests raised human rights concerns and appeared to take place outside of any recognizable legal framework, with detainees forced to trade financial and business assets for their freedom.

…….Human Rights Watch analyzed the data on April 2, which was updated through March 31. Of the 5,314 people in the database, 3,380 had been held for over six months without a conviction or their “case file under judicial review,” including 2,949 for more than a year and 770 for over three years. The database indicated Saudi authorities were holding 2,305 people “under investigation” for more than six months, 1,875 for more than a year, and 251 for over three years.

Saudi authorities have held one Saudi citizen without a conviction since September 2003 and another “under investigation” since December 2006. Of the 251 held “under investigation” for over three years, 233 are Saudis.

“We’ve reverted to a Saudi version of Kafka when authorities detain citizens for over a decade without charge because they are ‘under investigation’,” Whitson said. “This effectively means that Saudi authorities can detain and jail anyone they want by claiming they are  investigating them, however endless the investigation.”………..

Extended detention without charge or trial or without an appearance before a judge is arbitrary, and violates both Saudi law and international human rights standards.

“Mohammad bin Salman’s promises to modernize and strengthen the rule of law mean very little when the authorities can lock away thousands of people for years and throw away the key,” Whitson said.  https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/06/saudi-arabia-thousands-held-arbitrarily

May 28, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Yes, there are concerns, but North Korea’s dismantling of the nuclear weapons site is a positive step

N Korea’s Destroyed Nuke Site Lays Basis for Denuclearization Talks – Expert  https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201805261064829259-north-korea-site-destruction-talks-prospect/ WASHINGTON 27 May 18,  – North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear weapons test site should be seen as a positive step towards resolving the crisis on the Korean peninsula, Institute for Science and International Security President David Albright said in a statement on Friday.

“North Korea’s action should not be trivialized but viewed as an important step to reduce tensions and lay the basis for denuclearization negotiations,” Albright said. “It is not fair to portray it as part of an effort to hide or disguise its nuclear weapons capabilities.”

North Korea’s action, he added, is even better than a freeze because it represents a permanent disabling of the site. Three minutes of film footage taken by a journalist makes it clear that major buildings and tunnel entrances were destroyed, according to Albright.

But like many disabling steps, North Korea could likely resume nuclear weapons tests within a few months by digging tunnels in nearby mountains, Albright said. Moreover, the action does not affect North Korea’s existing stockpile of nuclear bombs and its ability to make additional weapons, even if the lack of a test facility could inhibit the nation’s ability to field reliable and deliverable warheads, according to the release.

On Friday, Trump signaled that the meeting with Kim may actually go forward after the US president received a “warm” letter from Pyongyang. In comments published by North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA, Kim said on Friday that he wanted the United States to know Pyongyang wants to sit down at “any time” to solve problems with Washington.

Before founding the institute, Albright worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1992 to 1997 and was the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. He was also a Senior Staff Scientist at the Federation of American Scientists.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

It’s dangerous that Donald Trump does not understand that nuclear negotiations are not like Reality TV

White House–watchers feared a move toward the “preventive war” National Security Adviser John Bolton is on the record favoring. And war on the peninsula, with a predicted 300,000 Korean casualties in the opening days alone, even if nuclear weapons were not used — plus the deaths of American soldiers, plus the prospect of a nuclear launch — is decidedly real life, not a movie. 

What Happens When You Treat Nuclear Diplomacy Like a Reality-TV Show http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/trump-nuclear-diplomacy-is-like-a-reality-tv-show.html   Recently, a reader asked why my columns often compare Trump administration moves to TV shows. The reason is simple — Trump’s actions often seem inexplicable or counterproductive if viewed through a traditional national security lens. Seeing them as moves to promote a media narrative often makes them easier to understand — and offers a way to predict what comes next. Trump’s reality-TV approach to foreign and domestic policy has served him well — getting him elected and keeping his base closely enough bound to him that members of his own party do little to challenge him. Continue reading

May 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | 2 Comments

U.S. Senator Ed Markey points out the absurdity of John Bolton’s suggesting the “Libya model” for negotiating with North Korea

The $100 billion dollar man Senator Ed Markey wants to slash nuclear weapons spending and get the US back to the negotiating table with North Korea By Linda Pentz Gunter

May 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Troubled Australian uranium company Paladin mothballs Langer Heinrich uranium mine, in Namibia

Paladin mothballs Namibia uranium mine   Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly 25TH MAY 2018  BY: ESMARIE SWANEPOEL  CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR: AUSTRALASIA   PERTH (miningweekly.com) 27 May 18 – Dual-listed  Paladin Energy on Friday confirmed that its Langer Heinrich uranium mine, in Namibia, was being placed under care and maintenance, but said that the low-cost openpit operation would be one of the first to resume production when the uranium market normalised.

Paladin in April said that it was unlikely to resume physical mining activities at the mine despite the medium-grade ore stockpile currently feeding the processing plant set to be exhausted before mid-2019.

The ASX and TSX-listed company on Friday said that it had received consent from all the relevant stakeholders to place the operation under care and maintenance, and had now stopped presenting ore to the plant.

There would be a run-down phase of up to three months where various stages of the plant would be progressively suspended and cleaned, and during this time, there would be some continued production of finished uranium.

Paladin noted that once the run-down phase was complete, operations would have been completely suspended and Langer Heinrich would be under care and maintenance. ……http://www.miningweekly.com/article/paladin-mothballs-namibia-uranium-mine-2018-05-25

 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

28 May – deadline day for Hitachi over whether or not to proceed with UK Horizon nuclear power plant

Deadline day for Japan’s Hitachi over Wales £15bn Horizon nuclear plant  Sunday Times, 27 May 18   The fate of a £15bn-plus nuclear power station is set to be decided this week — and with it the future of Britain’s atomic renaissance.

The Japanese industrial giant Hitachi is due to decide tomorrow whether to proceed with Horizon, a twin-reactor plant on Anglesey, north Wales.

Hitachi’s decision has huge implications for industrial collaboration between Britain and Japan and the country’s nuclear power industry. The project hinges on winning financial support from Westminster.

This weekend, ministers are expected to set out their offer to Hitachi in a letter ahead of the crucial meeting. The proposal is expected to include UK taxpayers taking a direct stake in the plant, alongside Hitachi and the Japanese state, as well as guaranteeing loans.

In return, Westminster wants Hitachi…(subscribers only) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/deadline-day-for-japans-hitachi-over-wales-15bn-horizon-nuclear-plant-mdxhnj9x8

May 28, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

International governments now realising that waves of climate refugees will be happening

The Coming Wave of Climate Displacement https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/climate-change-global-compacts-migration-refugees-by-kumi-naidoo-2018-05, 

Not since 1951 has the international community produced a treaty to protect the legal status of the world’s refugees. Now, two agreements are currently under discussion at the United Nations, and each offers a rare opportunity to protect global migrants from the biggest source of displacement today.

JOHANNESBURG – Governments around the world are engaged in a series of talks that could fundamentally alter how the movement of people across borders is managed. One dialogue is focused on the protection of refugees; the other on migration.

These discussions, which are being led by the United Nations, will not re sult in legally binding agreements. But the talks themselves are a rare chance to forge consensus on contemporary migration challenges. And, most importantly, they will offer the international community an opportunity to plan for the impact of climate change, which will soon become a key driver of global displacement and migration

At last count, there were some 258 million migrants worldwide, with 22.5 million people registered as refugees by the UN Refugee Agency. These numbers will be dwarfed if even the most modest climate-related predictions are borne out. According to the International Organization for Migration, climate change could displace as many as one billion people by 2050. And yet no international treaty covers climate-induced migration – a gap that must be addressed now.

Not since 1951 have international standards for refugee protection received so much attention. That year, with more than 80 million people displaced after World War II, UN member countries ratified a comprehensive framework to standardize their treatment of refugees. The Global Compact on Refugees that is currently under discussion builds on this framework with strategies to empower refugees and assist host governments. Most significantly, it would commit signatories to protecting “those displaced by natural disasters and climate change.”

The second agreement is even more consequential for the management of climate-induced displacement. There has never been a global treaty governing migration, and past bilateral efforts have focused almost exclusively on violence and conflict as root causes of displacement. The proposed Global Compact for Migration goes beyond these factors, and notes that climate change is among the “adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin.”

This type of regulatory language reaffirms what at-risk populations around the world already know: droughts, natural disasters, desertification, crop failure, and many other environmental changes are upending livelihoods and rendering entire communities uninhabitable. In my country, South Africa, a record drought is forcing major cities to consider water rationing. If water shortages persist, migration is certain to follow.

Resource scarcity is particularly dangerous in politically unstable states, where climate change has already been linked to violent conflict and communal upheaval. For example, disputes over fertile land and fresh water fueled the war in Darfur, and even the current crisis in Syria – one of the greatest sources of human displacement today – began after successive droughtspushed Syrians from rural areas into cities. It is not a stretch to predict that climate change will produce more bloodshed in the coming years.

The two UN frameworks could serve as a basis for planning how to manage the coming climate-induced migrations. With scientific modeling to guide decision-making, states could draft orderly, dignified, and equitable relocation strategies. This is certainly a smarter approach than the ad hoc responses to date.

But history tells us that governments are reluctant to seek out collective solutions to forced migration. This failure is visible today in the haunting and inexcusable plight of refugees around the world.

As we enter the final months of the Compact talks, what should we expect of those negotiating the global plan for managing unprecedented movements of people? The causes and consequences of climate change demand close attention. Displaced people must be able to get on with their lives in dignity. The test of world leaders will be whether the global compacts on refugees and migrants can achieve this.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Japan is poised to FLOOD the Pacific with one million tons of radioactive water contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear plant

  • Storage space for contaminated water at Fukushima is running dangerously low 
  • Nearly 160 tons of radioactive water is produced at the abandoned plant per day
  • The Japanese government may decide to deposit the waste into the Pacific
  • Officials plan to secure 1.37 million tons of storage capacity by the end of 2020

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5753411/Japan-poised-flood-Pacific-one-million-tons-radioactive-water-Fukushima.html#ixzz5Gk3S8tE4

May 28, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Workers at Waste Isolation Pilot project evacuated due to a container problem

Container problem spurs evacuation at nuclear waste site http://www.kristv.com/story/38282972/container-problem-spurs-evacuation-at-nuclear-waste-site
May 26, 2018 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Workers had to evacuate the U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository after finding a container of waste misaligned inside its packaging, but officials confirmed Friday that no radiation was released.

    It marked another problem for the New Mexico facility where a drum of radioactive waste leaked in 2014 and shut down operations for nearly three years. The leak highlighted safety concerns and resulted in a costly recovery and sweeping changes in the way low-level nuclear waste destined for the dump is treated and handled.

In the latest incident, the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant activated its emergency operations center after discovering the misaligned container Thursday night. Officials later determined conditions were stable and deactivated emergency operations.

Donavan Mager, a spokesman with Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, said Friday that officials are investigating how the problem occurred.

In disposing the waste, seven 55-gallon drums are wrapped together in a tight formation to go deep inside the ancient salt formation where the repository is located. The idea is that the shifting salt will eventually entomb the waste.

Workers found one drum wasn’t aligned with the six others that made up the waste package. Work was immediately halted.

Procedures call for officials to develop a plan to re-enter the underground portion of the repository to deal with the pack of drums. It was not immediately known how long that would take.

“The plan is developed with extreme conservatism to ensure workers are protected,” Mager said.

Shipments to the repository resumed in 2017 following the lengthy closure stemming from the container of waste that was improperly treated at Los Alamos National Laboratory, also in New Mexico.

The repository has been receiving several shipments a week of waste that includes gloves, clothing, tools and other debris contaminated by plutonium and other radioactive elements. The Cold War-era waste was generated over years of bomb-making and nuclear weapons research.

The shipments are coming from Los Alamos lab and installations in Idaho, Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Peace activists- anti-nuclear protests in Massachusetts 

Peace activists plan anti-nuclear protests in Massachusetts  https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Peace-activists-plan-anti-nuclear-protests-in-12947245.php BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) 25 May 18 — Peace activists are planning nonviolent actions to protest what they call nuclear escalation.

Massachusetts Peace Action says participants in Sunday’s demonstration will stand frozen for two minutes on Battle Green in Lexington. They’ll then walk about three miles to the gates of Hanscom Air Force Base to engage in “acts of peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience.”

The action represents the frigid cold of a nuclear winter as well as the Doomsday  .

Clock, which is now at 2 minutes. It also commemorates those who worked in the 1980s to freeze nuclear stockpiles.

Organizers say they chose Hanscom because it’s the future site of a command post that would control weapons in a nuclear war.

The protest originally was set for mid-April but was rescheduled.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

South Carolina suing the USA govt over closure of MOX fuel reprocessing program

South Carolina sues federal government over end of nuclear fuel program  http://www.wrdw.com/content/news/South-Carolina-sues-federal-government-over-end-of-nuclear-fuel-program-483786421.html May 26, 2018 AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina is suing the federal government after the Energy Department announced it was stopping construction of a plant to turn plutonium used in nuclear weapons into fuel for nuclear reactors.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s lawsuit filed Friday says Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t consult Governor Henry McMaster before ending construction at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The lawsuit also says the Energy Department didn’t perform an analysis of how to store the plutonium already at SRS.

Instead of creating mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, the National Nuclear Security Administration suggests SRS make new plutonium pits for nuclear weapons.

Wilson called the decision to end MOX another chapter in the long, tortured history of broken promises by the federal government.
The Energy Department didn’t immediately respond.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Grand Canyon – too important, too majestic, to be ruined by uranium mining

Renewed uranium mining is an unconscionable threat to the Grand Canyon   Chicago Sun Times, Thomas Frisbie, 05/26/2018,  @thomasfrisbie | email

The spectacular and majestic Grand Canyon, eons in the making, needs our help. Some Republican members of Congress want President Donald Trump to overturn a ban on new uranium mining nearby, along with other conservation measures. We need to urge Congress to protect this national jewel.

Some six million people arrive each year to view the vast, multi-hued and intricate canyon, though most don’t venture far from the rim. For them, it’s an inspiring and breath-taking sight. But hardy trekkers who explore remote trails might see something else: signs warning them they are entering an area of the canyon tainted by radioactivity spewed years ago from uranium mines. National Geographic reports uranium leaching from old mines has rendered 15 springs and five wells inside the canyon unsafe to drink. We don’t need more of that.

Uranium pollution is no way to treat an immense and ancient panorama of stunningly varied rock that has been called one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Recently, I had an opportunity to backpack with intrepid family members from the rim to the bottom and camp along Bright Angel Creek, near where it flows into the Colorado River. The ever-changing vista along the rocky trails was magnificent. Unafraid mule deer browsed just a few feet from us. A rare condor flew overhead. Bold rock squirrels waited for a chance to gnaw and rummage through any backpacks absent-mindedly left on the ground.

….. We now have a president who last year ordered federal agencies to review anything that could interfere with domestic energy production. In response, the Forest Service in November recommended reopening land near the Grand Canyon for uranium mining. In March, groups representing the mining industry asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the ban on new uranium mining on public land bordering the Grand Canyon National Park.

Uranium mining is extremely risky for the environment. Mining releases radioactive dust into the air and contaminates the land and water with radioactive and toxic substances.

“Uranium mining has left a toxic trail across the West — including at the Grand
Canyon itself,” the environmental group Environment America wrote in its April report update, “Grand Canyon at Risk: Uranium Mining Threatens a National Treasure.”

The waste rock and dirt left behind can remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years and also contain toxic chemicals such as arsenic that can contaminate the surrounding environment and make the mines themselves permanently hazardous, the report says.

Steve Blackledge, Environment America’s conservation program director, says, “Some places are too majestic, too important to ruin. At a time of energy abundance and the remarkable growth of clean renewables, messing with the Grand Canyon to turn on a few more light bulbs is beyond absurd.”……https://chicago.suntimes.com/working/renewed-uranium-mining-is-an-unconscionable-threat-to-the-grand-canyon/

May 28, 2018 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear weapons – many less than USA’s and Russia’s

China’s Nuclear Weapons: Everything You Always Wanted to Know National Interest,    Steve Weintz, 25 May 18, 

With its first nuclear test on October 16, 1964, China joined the other victorious allies of World War II in the nuclear club, both cementing and unsettling the postwar order. Hard experience of the American nuclear threat during the Korean War and the divorce from the Soviet Union, propelled China towards the bomb in ways familiar to those observing North Korea’s current quest. Mao Zedong himself said in 1956, “…if we don’t want to be bullied, we have to have this thing.”

But China for all its size has made itself a limited nuclear power. It has demonstrated its ability to build very big bombs but chose to test and make few of them. The size of China’s arsenal is a highly guarded state secret, but estimates put it in the several hundreds, not thousands. Beijing can hold armies and cities at risk, but not make the rubble bounce several times over…………

One H-bomb test nearly went horribly wrong. When test pilot Yang Guoxiang lined up his Q-5A fighter-bomber for its drop maneuver and pulled the weapon release, the bomb failed to drop. After three attempts Yang returned to base with a live hydrogen bomb slung beneath his plane. The whole airbase – all 10,000 crew – sheltered in underground tunnels while a lonely Yang carefully climbed out of his cockpit and awaited assistance. All ended well this time and Yang later successfully carried out his mission.

China’s last big blast, a one-megaton warhead test in October 1980, ended the era of atmospheric testing. No nuclear-weapons state has tested above ground since. But nuclear testing never ends, really, not when they were conducted not far from populated areas. As with natives to the Pacific atolls and Russian steppes, the Gobi Desert and its peoples will bear the long-term impact of radiation from those nuclear tests for a long time.  http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/chinas-nuclear-weapons-everything-you-always-wanted-know-25980

 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment