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UAE energy minister says nuclear power project slightly delayed

 https://uk.reuters.com/article/emirates-energy-nuclearpower/uae-energy-minister-says-nuclear-power-project-slightly-delayed-idUKB2N1YE024, ABU DHABI, Jan 9 (Reuters) – United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said on Wednesday that the country’s nuclear power plant project was slightly delayed.

“Nuclear is coming (but) there will be a bit of a delay,” he said at an event in Abu Dhabi. He did not provide a timeline.

The country’s nuclear regulator said last July the start-up of a reactor at the nuclear power plant, which was set to open in 2017, would depend on the outcome of further reviews of the project.

Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; writing by Alexander Cornwell; editing by Christian Schmollinger

January 10, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

EDF’s plans for construction of the Sizewell C twin-reactor will cause widespread disruption

East Anglian Daily Times 7th Jan 2019 ,Campaigners have been left furious over the latest plans for a new nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast – and say EDF Energy is still not
listening to residents’ concerns. The construction of the Sizewell C
twin-reactor is expected to cause widespread disruption with concern over
hundreds of trucks using unsuitable roads, the impact on the local economy
and worries over the effect on RSPB Minsmere. A main concern is the use of
land near Eastbridge for a campus for 2,400 workers which campaigners say
are “substantially unchanged” from early designs. Alison Downes,
co-chairman of Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell (TEAGS),
was furious at the lack of consideration being taken of the villages as EDF
clamours to start construction.
https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/edf-energy-sizewell-plan-slated-by-theberton-middleton-eastbridge-activists-1-5840910

January 10, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

“Nuclear modernization” a euphemism that ushers in a new and dangerous global nuclear arms race.

Introduction: The wasteful and dangerous worldwide nuclear modernization craze https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00963402.2019.1555973

John Mecklin, 07 Jan 2019 The military is a prime breeding-ground for euphemism. During the Vietnam War, “pacification” often meant the shelling and bombing of villages and forced relocation of entire populations. The Reagan administration championed a fearsome, 10-nuclear-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile. Its name? “Peacekeeper.” Russia did not invade or annex Crimea, according to President Putin; it “enhanced” its forces there.

“Nuclear modernization” is a euphemism covering a wide range of activities that constitute, in the view of many experts, a new and dangerous global nuclear arms race. And an expensive one. In the United States, the 30-year cost of the plethora of programs under the nuclear modernization umbrella – including new nuclear-capable bombers, land-based nuclear missiles, and nuclear submarines – has been estimated at $1.2 to $1.7 trillion. Observers who remember the $640 toilet seats and $437 tape measures of Defense Department history11. See http://articles.latimes.com/1986-07-30/news/vw-18804_1_nutView all notes believe that if the entire modernization program were actually funded and carried out, the cost would be much higher than these estimates.

In this issue, Bob Rosner of the University of Chicago and Stanford University’s Lynn Eden – leading nuclear experts who sit on the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board – give an overview of the astonishing complexities of the US modernization program and try to answer the core question: What does the United States need to do – and what could it reasonably not do – to ensure the reliability of its nuclear arsenal but reduce the cost of maintaining it? Another Science and Security Board member – former Obama administration arms control adviser Jon Wolfsthal – suggests that the first step in responsibly managing the US nuclear budget would require the Trump administration to actually develop a nuclear strategy. Andy Weber and Christine Parthemore of the Council on Strategic Risks, meanwhile, look at once-discarded nuclear weapon capabilities that the Trump administration has resurrected – particularly a proposed low-yield warhead for submarine-launched nuclear missiles and other “small nuke” options – and find them unnecessary and destabilizing.

The nuclear modernization craze is hardly restricted to the United States. As Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitri Trenin notes, Russian leaders have always been keen observers of US nuclear policy, and as Russia nears the end of its own nuclear modernization cycle, strained East-West relations have created a dangerous situation.

“Against a backdrop of deep mistrust,” Trenin writes, “the coming US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the new US emphasis on tactical [nuclear] systems revive the specter of a nuclear war in Europe.” And because the US-China competition is turning “increasingly serious and even hostile,” Tong Zhao of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy argues, the United States should take a number of steps to ease tensions. After all, Zhao notes, the United States is the most important external influencer of Chinese nuclear policy, and as such could prevent a “more negative cycle of action-and-reaction” involving both nations’ nuclear arsenals.

As Trenin and Zhao explain, United States nuclear policy often drives the nuclear policies of Russia and China. Of course, US officials often suggest the obverse: American nuclear policy initiatives are responses to Russian and Chinese defense policies and programs.

There are reasonable and practical ways to short-circuit the new, self-reinforcing worldwide nuclear arms race that is euphemized as “modernization.”  As Rosner and Eden point out, the United States could save a lot of money without sacrificing security by taking the “hard decision” to eliminate one of the three legs in its nuclear triad, most likely its land-based nuclear ballistic missiles. As Wolfsthal notes, the United States could adequately deter any adversary with a nuclear arsenal and array of delivery platforms that is significantly smaller (and less expensive) than the Trump administration proposes.

The mere official contemplation of such down-sizing moves in the United States would send a global signal. It’s a signal that could well lead to negotiations on slowing or even halting the 21st century modernization sequel to the bad arms race movie the world watched throughout the Cold War. The next Congress should begin contemplating immediately. The world has seen more than enough of this ritual squandering of national resources on weapons of horror that can never reasonably be used.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America’s male-dominated nuclear cognoscenti have tunnel vision, oblivious to proliferation risks, and to public demand for nuclear weapons abolition

January 10, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Russia might revive its fearful automatic nuclear weapons launch system

Meet “Dead Hand”: This Might Be Russia’s Most Terrifying Nuclear Weapons Idea Yet https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/meet-dead-hand-might-be-russias-most-terrifying-nuclear-weapons-idea-yet-40937

Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack.  But the system, known as “Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever, by Michael Peck , 9 Jan 19, If Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.

Russia has a knack for developing weapons that—at least on paper—are terrifying: nuclear-powered cruise missiles, robot subs with 100-megaton warheads .

Perhaps the most terrifying was a Cold War doomsday system that would automatically launch missiles—without the need for a human to push the button—during a nuclear attack.

But the system, known as “Perimeter” or “Dead Hand,” may be back and deadlier than ever.

This comes after the Trump administration announced that the United States is withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated the once-massive American and Russian stockpiles of short- and medium-range missiles. Donald Trump alleges that Russia has violated the treaty by developing and deploying new, prohibited cruise missiles.

This has left Moscow furious and fearful that America will once again, as it did during the Cold War, deploy nuclear missiles in Europe. Because of geographic fate, Russia needs ICBMs launched from Russian soil, or launched from submarines, to strike the continental United States. But shorter-range U.S. missiles based in, say, Germany or Poland could reach the Russian heartland.

Viktor Yesin, who commanded Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces in the 1990s, spoke of Perimeter/Dead Hand during an interview last month in the Russian newspaper Zvezda [Google English translation here]. Yesin said that if the United States starts deploying intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will consider adopting a doctrine of a preemptive nuclear strike. But he also added this:

Zvezda: “Will we have time to answer if the flight time is reduced to two to three minutes when deploying medium-range missiles near our borders? In this version, all hope is only on Perimeter. And for a retaliatory strike. Or was Perimeter also disassembled for parts?

It is not clear what Yesin meant when he said the system has been “improved,” or even exactly what he meant by “functioning.” Perimeter works by launching specially modified SS-17 ICBMs, which transmit a launch signal to regular nuclear-tipped ICBMs in their silos.

David Hoffman, author of “The Dead Hand,” the definitive book on Perimeter, describes Perimeter in this way:

“Higher authority” would flip the switch if they feared they were under nuclear attack. This was to give the “permission sanction.” Duty officers would rush to their deep underground bunkers, the hardened concrete globes, the shariki. If the permission sanction were given ahead of time, if there were seismic evidence of nuclear strikes hitting the ground, and if all communications were lost, then the duty officers in the bunker could launch the command rockets. If so ordered, the command rockets would zoom across the country, broadcasting the signal “launch” to the intercontinental ballistic missiles. The big missiles would then fly and carry out their retaliatory mission.

There have been cryptic clues over the years that Perimeter still exists.

Which illustrates one of the curiosities of this system, which is that the Soviet Union kept its existence secret from the American enemy whom it was supposed to deter.What is unmistakable is that Perimeter is a fear-based solution. Fear of a U.S. first-strike that would decapitate the Russian leadership before it could give the order to retaliate. Fear that a Russian leader might lose his nerve and not give the order.

And if Russia is now discussing Perimeter publicly, that’s reason for the rest of us to worry.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Dept of Energy again confirms its plans to use SRS plutonium for nuclear weapons

DOE reaffirms plans to use SRS plutonium for pit production in New Mexico https://www.aikenstandard.com/news/doe-reaffirms-plans-to-use-srs-plutonium-for-pit-production/article_59e7b02a-1291-11e9-bd1e-936df797de19.html, By Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com, Jan 7, 2019 

      The U.S. Department of Energy has again confirmed its plans to use plutonium currently stored at the

Savannah River Site

       for nuclear weapons purposes.

In a document filed Jan. 4 in Nevada district court, the DOE explained 1 metric ton of plutonium — in pit form at SRS — will eventually be sent to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico where it will be remanufactured into “new pits.”

Doing so will further the National Nuclear Security Administration‘s longterm stockpile work, according to the same court document. Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores, often referred to as triggers.

NNSA Chief of Staff William “Ike” White in a Nov. 20 letter, which was made public via other court filings, described the weapons-grade plutonium stored at SRS as “mission-essential” and integral to nation’s defense enterprise.

“This material will ultimately be used for vital national security missions and is not waste,” White wrote, later adding: “We will keep you updated on our progress as the pit production mission moves forward.” White’s letter was sent to Nevada government officials. Before the plutonium is relocated to Los Alamos, the nation’s plutonium science and production center of excellence, it will be staged at either the Nevada National Security Site or the Pantex Plant in Texas, according to the NNSA.

The shipments between Nevada and New Mexico would take place over “a period of years,” according to the Jan. 4 filing.

The DOE is removing 1 metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from SRS — South Carolina, more broadly — to comply with a Dec. 20, 2017, court order. The plutonium must be out of the state no later than 2020, according to the order, which was issued by U.S. District Court Judge J. Michelle Childs.

The prospective weapons use of the SRS plutonium was first fully documented in an NNSA environmental assessment issued last year.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) will brief Scottish Parliament on Hunterston nuclear power plant

The National 8th Jan 2019 ,ANTI-nuclear campaigners will brief MSPs tomorrow on their concerns about the safety of two reactors at the Hunterston B nuclear power plant in North
Ayrshire. Reactors 3 and 4 have been offline since March and October
respectively after cracks were found during a routine inspection. Operators
EDF hope to gain approval for their re-opening in the spring.

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) will give the Scottish Parliament briefing,
which will be chaired by Green MSP Ross Greer. He said: “Long-running
safety and job concerns from the community around Hunterston have increased
significantly.”
https://www.thenational.scot/news/17341200.msps-to-meet-anti-nuclear-campaigners/

January 10, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Vermont-based New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution will participate in NRC conference on wastes regulation

Local nuke group going to regulatory meeting https://www.recorder.com/Group-to-attend-NRC-meeting-on-casks-22611857 Brattleboro, Vt.-based New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution will participate in this week’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission enforcement conference on design failures in radioactive-waste storage containers like those at Vermont Yankee and several other nuclear plants. Wednesday’s conference at the federal regulator’s Bethesda, Md. headquarters follows its complaint against Holtec International for its adopted design of steel and concrete spent-fuel casks without federal approval.

NRC officials say the company made changes after discovering a loose “bolt” last March at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California. The small threaded posts connect to the bottom of shims in the canister of the cask to create space between multiple aluminum shims and the bottom of the canister to keep the basket stabilized in each of the casks.

The nuclear watchdog group’s technical adviser, Raymond Shadis, along with and board member Clay Turnbull, plan to monitor and offer comments on the canisters.

The coalition twice intervened before Vermont’s public utilities commission on using the Holtec steel canister-in-a-concrete-cask design at the Vernon plant, where 58 spent-fuel casks are now in place awaiting eventual transfer to a federal repository. It says its involvement helped result in more frequent radiation and temperature reporting, more conservative cask spacing, a protective line-of-site barrier wall and prohibition of using corrosive de-icing salts.

The coalition, which has repeatedly advocated for partially buried cask or earthen berm protection for the shuttered Vermont plant’s spent fuel, also commented on a previous Holtec design change, which it says resulted in a more in-depth NRC staff safety analysis.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Holtec altered the cask design without a written evaluation, violating federal safety regulations.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Increasing major cracks in Hunterston nuclear reactors: call to close them permanently

Ferret 9th Jan 2019 Pressure is mounting to keep two nuclear power reactors at Hunterston in
North Ayrshire closed after the company that runs them, EDF Energy, said it
had found more cracks and was again postponing plans to restart.
The French company now estimates that there are 370 major cracks in the graphite core
of reactor three and 200 cracks in the core of reactor four.  Reactor three has been closed down since 9 March 2018, and reactor four since 2 October.
The day after The Ferret revealed in November that 350 cracks had been
discovered in reactor three in breach of an operating safety limit, EDF
postponed restarting both reactors to January and February.
On 9 January the group of nuclear-free local authorities is holding a safety briefing on
Hunterston for MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. Experts will call for the
reactors to stay closed rather than risking a nuclear accident, and for new
jobs to be created in Ayrshire. Nuclear policy consultant, Dr Ian Fairlie,
will argue that the increasing number of cracks in the ageing reactors
spelled their end. “There is only one thing you can do and that is close
them, as they cannot be repaired,” he told The Ferret.
https://theferret.scot/cracks-hunterston-reactors/

January 10, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment