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Anxiety in Norway over Russia’s missing reactor-powered cruise missile in the Barents Sea

«There is no reason for any state to have a nuclear-powered missile»

Russia’s missing reactor-powered cruise missile in the Barents Sea obviously causes concerns, says Norway’s Environment Minister, Ola Elvestuen. Barents Observer ByThomas Nilsen  August 23, 2018

«We have to take this seriously. From an environmental point of view this obviously causes concern,» Minister Elvestuen says to the Barents Observer.

Norway and Russia share the stocks of cod in the Barents Sea, a multi-billion business and important for tens of thousands of dinner-tables across Europe every day. A missing reactor-powered missile is no good news.

On Wednesday, Minister Ola Elvestuen met with the Barents Observer at the Fram Center in Tromsø, a Arctic climate and research center where also Norway’s High North section of the Radiation Protection Authority opened its new offices and lab.

«A possible missing nuclear-powered missile in important fishing grounds of the Barents Sea shows the importance of having a radiation emergency preparedness unit in Tromsø,» Elvestuen says.

First made public by President Vladimir Putin in March this year, the existence of a nuclear-powered cruise-missile was shown in a defense ministry video of the test-launching. Putin told that during the flight, the missile reached its design capacity and provided necessary propulsion. That would mean a start of the reactor, although the reactor going critical is not confirmed. During initial launch, the missile lifts off with regular fuel as can be seen in the video.

August 23, 2018

«We have to take this seriously. From an environmental point of view this obviously causes concern,» Minister Elvestuen says to the Barents Observer.

Norway and Russia share the stocks of cod in the Barents Sea, a multi-billion business and important for tens of thousands of dinner-tables across Europe every day. A missing reactor-powered missile is no good news.

On Wednesday, Minister Ola Elvestuen met with the Barents Observer at the Fram Center in Tromsø, a Arctic climate and research center where also Norway’s High North section of the Radiation Protection Authority opened its new offices and lab.

«A possible missing nuclear-powered missile in important fishing grounds of the Barents Sea shows the importance of having a radiation emergency preparedness unit in Tromsø,» Elvestuen says.

First made public by President Vladimir Putin in March this year, the existence of a nuclear-powered cruise-missile was shown in a defense ministry video of the test-launching. Putin told that during the flight, the missile reached its design capacity and provided necessary propulsion. That would mean a start of the reactor, although the reactor going critical is not confirmed. During initial launch, the missile lifts off with regular fuel as can be seen in the video………..

Attention to possible incidents or accidents involving nuclear reactors are raising in Norway, not least because of the increasing number of nuclear powered submarines sailing in Arctic waters. Both Northern Fleet submarines from  bases on the Kola Peninsula and U.S. or British submarines making port calls to Northern Norway.

For the nuclear experts at NRPA in Tromsø though, the news about testing of reactor-powered missile and crashes are worrying. From Russia, little information about what’s going on is available. The missile program is surrounded by secrecy by the military………

Intelligence service confirms crashes

Norway’s military intelligence confirms to the Barents Observer their knowledge about two of the tested missiles failing during flight.

«The intelligence service confirms that Russia in November 2017 conducted two failed test-shootings of a new land-based cruise-missile from a temporarily test range at Novaya Zemlya. The first failed shortly after launch and fell down on the island. The other had a longer flightpath before failing or the test was aborted. That missile fell down in the sea near the shores on the west coast of Novaya Zemlya,» says Major Brynjar Stordal, spokesperson with the Joint Headquarters.

He says the intelligence service connects the tests to the new weapon President Putin described earlier this year. «It is indicated that the new missile is using a reactor-propulsion system. The intelligence service can not confirm that the missiles tested in November 2017 had such propulsion system,» Stordal says.

Also, the intelligence service has so far not registered, or received any information about, unormal levels of radiation from this area that is located some 800 kilometers from Norway……..

Small reactor, little radiation

In July, the Russian online Popular Mechanics published a longer article about the new missile powered by a small reactor. The article argues that the reactor could be a fast neutron reactor like the largest space reactors used by the Soviet Union. Also, the core may consist of Americium-242.

The reactor is very small in size, maybe less than half a meter.

Nils Bøhmer, nuclear physicist with Bellona says such reactor core might be possible. «It would then need less fissionable material to reach critical mass and consequently it would be less radioactivity compared with amore traditional reactor with uranium fuel,» Bøhmer says.

He underlines that there are many unanswered questions and a lot of uncertainty  regarding such untested technology.

Testing a missile with a small nuclear reactor will, whatever, involve a calculated radiation risk. Any missile launched will have to come down, whether it is by accident or it hits its designated target. https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2018/08/there-no-reason-any-state-have-nuclear-powered-missile

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August 25, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Missile defense systems bad for India-Pakistan nuclear détente

Asia Times, By MOHAN GURUSWAMY AUGUST 24, 2018 It has been reported that theDefense Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has approved the “acceptance of necessity” (AoN) for the acquisition of the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) worth around US$1 billion from the United States. However, in 2002 the US had vetoed India’s bid to acquire the Israeli Arrow-2 missile interceptor system.

Consequently, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization began developing the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD), which will provide long-range high-altitude interception during an incoming ballistic missile’s mid-course phase as well as interception during the terminal phase. At various times these systems had different monikers, such as ballistic missile defense (BMD) or anti-ballistic missile system (ABM).The people who decide on such things reside in New Delhi and understandably their safety gets priority. So it is the National Capital Region that will get the expensive and exaggerated sense of protection such systems tend to generate.But no air defense system can be deemed impenetrable. The Americans and Russians realized long before the Cold War ended that the costs involved were prohibitive, even for them. But the idea was seductive
……….We need to learn from how nuclear-weapons strategies evolved during the Cold War, instead of mimicking US and Soviet follies. The notion of deterrence between the US and USSR was based on no escape from MAD.

Cold War follies peaked with the two antagonists together deploying almost 70,000 warheads each aimed at a specific target. At the height of this madness almost every open ground was targeted as possible tank-marshaling or military-logistics areas.

Hence the last thing India wants is to get into a numbers game with Pakistan or China. Credibility depends on reducing the uncertainty of use from the opposite perspective. The Indian PAD missile defense system only increases them.

India and Pakistan have ensured a modicum of confidence by not mating the warheads and delivery systems, giving a vital period to roll back the unleashing of Armageddon. But now both countries will have to evolve a launch-on-warning doctrine.

Clearly, the two South Asian nuclear powers have a local version of MAD in place. The Pakistani doctrine “commits itself” to use battlefield nuclear weapons if an Indian conventional assault threatens its essential nationhood, and hence it has steadfastly refused to accept the notion of “no first use” (NFU). The Indian doctrine emphasizes NFU but also makes it explicit that any Pakistani use of nuclear weapons on India or its forces will be responded to with a massive retaliation.

India may have fewer nuclear weapons, not because it cannot make more, but because what it has is enough to ensure the complete annihilation of Pakistan, which is geographically a much smaller country.

For its part, China has moved on from NFU to a doctrine now called “credible minimum deterrence.” But how much is credible?

Mercifully, nuclear doctrines these days are couched in such abstractions since MAD requires a degree of predictability, ironically ensured by opacity. The United States’ “single integrated operational plan” (SIOP) began with the ominous words that its objective, after the outbreak of a general war with the then Soviet Union, was to turn it into a “smoking, radiating ruin.” This was written by its certifiable US Air Force chief, General Curtis Lemay Jr, based on whom the character played by George C Scott in the Stanley Kubrick classic Dr Strangelove  was created.

But it was people like Lemay who gave MAD credibility. Since no one of a sane frame of mind would even contemplate the enormity of the disaster of a nuclear war, uncertainty of use was a key element of MAD. It has been written that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev used to have sleepless nights thinking of a man like Richard Nixon with his finger on the button.

India’s nuclear strategy documents in detail who the nuclear command would devolve to in the unlikely event of a decapitating first strike on New Delhi with the aim of eliminating its national leadership. It is said that the chain of nuclear command keeps descending to a major-general, a modern-day Raja Parikshit so to say, who will perform the final obsequies.

At last count India had more than 600 military officers at that level. Decapitating all of them is a near statistical and physical impossibility. It would take tens of thousands to precision nuclear weapons to annihilate India’s military chain of command, and it can be speculated whether even America or Russia could achieve that, let alone Pakistan.

Ironically, the evocative acronym MAD is an eminently sensible doctrine. Good sense should tell us: Enough of this madness, and leave MAD alone. http://www.atimes.com/missile-defense-systems-bad-for-india-pakistan-nuclear-detente/

 

 

August 25, 2018 Posted by | India, Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK: Licences may be needed to import nuclear materials under Brexit no deal.

Whitehaven News 24th Aug 2018 Licences may be needed to import nuclear materials under Brexit no deal.
And Government confirms a new domestic nuclear safeguards regime will come
into force. A paper – one of 24 released by Whitehall outlining
preparations and scenarios that could play out if no Brexit deal can be
agreed before Britain leaves the EU in March – on civil nuclear
regulation states that an import licence may be required to bring nuclear
material, equipment and technology from EU countries to Britain.

Licences are not required under current arrangements, but the document warns that
after March 29 2019 “importers may need to obtain an import licence for
imports of relevant nuclear materials from the EU”. It adds: “The UK will
engage with importers on any new arrangements that will apply from this
date and provide further guidance on these.”
http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/business/Licences-may-be-needed-to-import-nuclear-materials-under-Brexit-no-deal-da1a1c41-2c5f-4b57-b961-372fe47e7687-ds

August 25, 2018 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Big safety costs for Japan’s nuclear power stations- and costs will grow yearly

Asahi Shimbun 23rd Aug 2018 Mandatory steps to respond to possible terrorist attacks and other safety
measures will cost 11 nuclear plant operators at least a combined 4.41
trillion yen ($40 billion), according to this year’s estimate, an Asahi
Shimbun study found. The soaring outlays undermine a government claim that
nuclear energy will be the cheapest source of power in 2030.
What is clear is that costs will increase year by year. Operators are obliged to
strengthen their facilities to withstand a terrorist attack within five
years of clearing more stringent regulations on reactor restarts imposed by
the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808230044.html

August 25, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Taiwan Premier encorages renewable energy, repeats commitment to phase out nuclear power

Infrastructure Journal 23rd Aug 2018 , Premier Lai Ching-te has underscored Taiwan government’s commitment to
retiring nuclear power by 2025, lending greater confidence to the national
renewable energy agenda.
https://ijglobal.com/articles/134907/taiwan-cements-support-for-renewables

August 25, 2018 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Britain is now contributing to upgrade of Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor

Middle East Monitor 23rd Aug 2018 , Iran announced on Wednesday that Britain would contribute in upgrading the
Arak nuclear reactor after the United States withdrew from the nuclear
deal. “Experts from Britain will replace their US counterparts during
reactor redesign process,” said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic
Energy Organization.

Under the nuclear deal, experts from both the United
States and China were redesigning the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce
the amount of plutonium produced by the reactor as a by-product. In the
same vein, Iranian officials said that the choice of Britain as a partner
of China was not their call, according to media reports.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180823-tehran-britain-will-help-upgrade-arak-nuclear-reactor/

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

U.S. army increasing its investment and use of solar power

FT 24th Aug 2018 The US Army has increased its investments in solar power and is eyeing
further opportunities to work with the private sector to develop projects,
despite the Trump administration’s scepticism about renewable energy.
Michael McGhee, who leads the US Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives, told
the Financial Times that installing solar panels at army bases could
improve resilience against attacks or natural disasters, and provide
cost-effective electricity supplies.
https://www.ft.com/content/7c23057e-a3cc-11e8-8ecf-a7ae1beff35b

August 25, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

Success of London’s community renewable energy projects: mayor Sadiq Khan launches second round

Solar Power Portal 23rd Aug 2018 London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has today launched a second round of funding for community energy projects following the success of the first, which
funded the initial stages of 11 solar projects set to be installed by the end of the year.
First mooted a year ago when deputy mayor Shirley  Rodrigues sat down with Solar Power Portal in City Hall, the first round of the London Community Energy Fund (LCEF) awarded £150,000 to fund a range
of solar project feasibility and scoping activities.
Phase two will bringforward an additional £150,000 that as last time will offer grants of up
to £15,000 per project to support the development stages of community
energy projects.
https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/sadiq_khan_launches_second_phase_of_community_energy_funding_as_solar_push

August 25, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment