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“Worst Criminality against Humankind” Report from Fukushima by Kazuhiko Kobayashi —

Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi has done ground breaking work with the University of Tokyo on the impact of climate change on rice nutrition. This is important work and it has been widely featured in national and international media. Kazuhiko’s real passion however is to warn people about the worst criminality against humankind: nuclear power and […]

via “Worst Criminality against Humankind” Report from Fukushima by Kazuhiko Kobayashi —

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May 11, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

International politics – a sad story of boys playing with nuclear toys – theme for May 19

World leaders are dimly becoming aware of the global Climate Crisis.  Unfortunately there are few world leaders for whom the penny has dropped – that a global crisis is not just a domestic matter –   that to tackle it is a matter for international co-operation..

There is another crisis, which seems to be below everybody’s radar, and invisible to world leaders,  especially disregarded by the leaders of nuclear nations.  This is the apocalyptic danger of nuclear war – started either by intention, or by accident.  The dangers of the nuclear industry in general are also global –   with the creeping toxicity of ionising radiation accumulating in the ecosphere.

The boys that run the world are pretty much oblivious of those twin global threats – like little schoolkids taunting each other –   they have no concept of working together to defuse the climate and nuclear dangers.  They show no sign of understanding the concept of international co-operation.

And don’t the nuclear industry and weapons companies love it this way!!!

 

 

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes, politics international | 3 Comments

The vulnerability of nuclear weapons systems to cyber threats

May 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The problematic arrival of Artificial Intelligence for NuclearWeapons

From the A bomb to the AI bomb, nuclear weapons’ problematic evolution, more  https://www.france24.com/en/20190510-nuclear-weapons-artificial-intelligence-ai-missiles-bombs-technology-military, France 24 LIVE, Sébastian SEIBTm 10 May 19

From autonomous nuclear submarines to algorithms detecting a threat, to robot-guided high-speed missiles, artificial intelligence could revolutionise nuclear weapons – risking some profound ethical conundrums – a recent report reveals.

At 2:26 A.M. on June 3, 1980, Zbigniew Brezezinski, US President Jimmy Carter’s famously hawkish national security adviser, received a terrifying phone call: 220 Soviet nuclear missiles were heading for the US. A few minutes later, another phone call offered new information: in reality, 2,220 missiles were flying towards the US.

Eventually, as Brezezinski was about to warn Carter of the impending doom, military officials realised that it was a gargantuan false alarm caused by a malfunctioning automated warning system. Thus, the Cold War nearly became an apocalypse because of a computer component not working properly.

This was long before artificial intelligence (AI) rose to prominence. But the Americans and Soviets had already begun to introduce algorithms into their control rooms in order to make their nuclear deterrence more effective. However, several incidents – most notably that of June 3, 1980 – show the disadvantages of using AI.

Novelty implies new vulnerabilities’

Almost forty years on from that near debacle, AI seems to have disappeared from the nuclear debate, even though such algorithms have become ubiquitous at every level of society. But a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published on May 6 underlines the importance of this aspect.

The nuclear arms race still poses a considerable threat, seeing as Donald Trump’s America has promised to modernise its arsenal, North Korea seems uninterested in abandoning its nuclear programme, and relations are tense between neighbouring nuclear powers and historical antagonists India and Pakistan.

However, technological breakthroughs in AI show “enormous potential in nuclear power, as in the areas of conventional and cyber weapons”, said Vincent Boulanin, the researcher at SIPRI responsible for the report, in an interview with FRANCE 24. In particular, machine learning is “excellent for data analysis”, Boulanin continued. Such work could play an essential role in intelligence gathering and the detection of cyber attacks.

Russia resurrects Soviet AI system

“In truth, we know very little about the use of AI in nuclear weapons systems at present,” Boulanin admitted. Russia is the only world power to have brought up the issue recently, with President Vladimir Putin announcing in March 2018 the construction of a fully automated nuclear submarine called Poseidon. Furthermore, in 2011 Moscow resurrected and updated the Perimetr system, which uses artificial intelligence to be able (under certain conditions) to detect an atomic bomb by another state. But experts consider these announcements to be lacking in concrete details.

In part, such scepticism stems from the fact that “the adoption of new technologies in the nuclear field tends to be rather slow because novelty implies the possibility of new vulnerabilities”, Boulanin pointed out. Those in control of nuclear weapons programmes prefer to work on outdated computers instead of state-of-the-art technologies that are at risk of being hacked.

Nevertheless, Bounanin continued, it’s only a matter of time before the nuclear powers adopt AI in their weapons systems, considering the enticing prospects of such technology. Its main advantage is that algorithms are an awful lot faster than humans at processing information.

AI could also make guidance systems for missiles more accurate and more flexible, according to Boulanin. “This would be especially useful for high velocity systems that human can’t manoeuvre,” he said. Indeed, several countries are working on prototypes of hypersonic aircraft and missiles able to fly five times faster than the speed of sound. It would be impossible for humans to intervene on the trajectory of such missiles, while AI could correct the aim if necessary.

The dark side of AI in nuclear weapons

There is, however, a very dark side to AI. By nature, it implies the delegation of decision-making from humans to machines – which would carry serious “moral and ethical” implications, noted Page Stoutland, vice-president of the American NGO Nuclear Threat Initiative, which collaborated in the SIPRI report.

On this basis, “the guiding principle of respect for human dignity dictates that machines should generally not be making life-or-death decisions”, argued Frank Sauer, a nuclear weapons specialist at the University of Munich, in the SIRI study. “Countries need to take a clear stance on this” so that they don’t have robotic hands on the red button.

That’s while algorithms are created by humans and, as such, can reinforce the prejudices of their creators. In the US, AI used by the police to prevent reoffending has been shown to be “racist” by several studies. “It is therefore impossible to exclude a risk of inadvertent escalation or at least of instability if the algorithm misinterprets and misrepresents the reality of the situation,” pointed out Jean-Marc Rickli, a researcher at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, in the SIRI report.

Risk of accidental use

Artificial intelligence also risks upsetting the delicate balance between the nuclear powers, warned Michael Horowitz, a defence specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, in the SIRI study: “An insecure nuclear-armed state would therefore be more likely to automate nuclear early-warning systems, use unmanned nuclear delivery platforms or, due to fear of rapidly losing a conventional war, adopt nuclear launch postures that are more likely to lead to accidental nuclear use or deliberate escalation.” That means that the US – which boasts the world’s largest nuclear stockpile – will be more cautious in adopting AI than a minor nuclear power such as Pakistan.

In short, artificial intelligence is a double-edged sword when applied to nuclear weapons. In certain respects, it could help to make the world safer. But it needs to be adopted “in a responsible way, and people needs to take time to identify the risks associated with AI, as well as pre-emptively solving its problems”, Boulanin concluded.

One sobering comparison might be with the financial services industry. Bankers used the same arguments – the promises of speed and reliability – to introduce AI to the sector as those used by its advocates in the nuclear weapons field. Yet the use of AI in trading rooms has led to some very unpleasant stock market crashes. And of course, nuclear weapons will give AI much more to play with than mere money.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power isn’t needed for Green New Deal

May 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Democrats trying to stop funding for US nuclear transfers to Saudi Arabia

Congress tries to defund US nuclear transfers to Saudi Arabia. Al-Monitor House Democrats are trying to use the power of the purse to block the transfer of US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia amid concerns that the Donald Trump administration is too keen to strike a deal with the kingdom.

The House foreign aid panel’s spending bill for fiscal year 2020, released today, would bar the use of federal funds to “support the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.” The provision comes as Democrats accuse the Trump administration of using a legal loophole to provide undisclosed nuclear technology and assistance to Riyadh.

“Given the administration’s failure to share important information about these activities with Congress, we included this provision, which prevents the administration from allowing the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” a House Democratic aide who did not want to be identified told Al-Monitor. “We hope this will force much-needed transparency on this issue.”

Lawmakers are concerned that Riyadh has not agreed to terms that would preclude it from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium on its territory, precursors to a nuclear weapons program. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman notably raised eyebrows last year by vowing that Saudi Arabia would pursue a nuclear weapon if Iran obtained one.

But some nonproliferation experts are skeptical that the legislation unveiled today would effectively deter the administration, which is determined to strike a civil nuclear deal with Riyadh, from continuing nuclear transfers……… https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/05/congress-tries-defund-us-nuclear-transfers-saudi-arabia.html

May 11, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Increased tension as U.S. has seized a North Korean ship for sanctions violations

In Middle of Nuclear Standoff, U.S. Seizes North Korean Cargo Ship Illicitly Exporting Coal, Slate, By HANNON, 9 May 19

May 11, 2019 Posted by | incidents, North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Global paralysis in weapons control agreements as a new arms race begins

Nuclear paralysis and nuclear risk, Japan Times, BY DAVID HOWELL, MAY 10, 2019, LONDON – We are dangerously close to a world without arms control agreements. That is what some of the most experienced U.S. defense and disarmament experts are now warning, and a recent detailed report from a U.K. House of Lords Committee fully shares their alarm. The implications for the increasing risk of nuclear weapons use, tactical or strategic, are direct, immense and horrific. The disarmament process, on which the previous generation put so much hope, has come to a halt and what is termed “policy paralysis” has set in.

Whether these warnings are going to attract the urgent attention, and the action, they deserve is an open question. Of course in the Pacific Rim region the nuclear threat seems obvious and omnipresent, with unpredictable North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ongoing missile-launching activity still looming over nearby states, notably Japan.

But in the West it is quite different. A thick layer of complacency surrounds Western opinion about arms control and nuclear risk, built up from assumptions that the basic architecture of global arms stability of the last 70 years still works and stays firm. Preoccupation with other issues, such as Brexit, immigration and global warming, blots out most media coverage of nuclear matters, even though one nuclear slipup could kill millions in minutes.

Comfort is drawn from the belief that the balance of mutual deterrence between nuclear powers still holds firm, that Russia and the United States — which possess 90 percent of the world’s stock of nuclear weapons — still have some sort of dialogue despite their antagonism (as in the Cold War), that the proliferation of nuclear weapons has been reasonably contained and will continue to be so, and that the full range of arms control and limitation treaties, agreed on 20 or 30 years ago, are still valid or can be renewed.

Unfortunately none of these conditions still hold true. It is just dawning on Western policymakers that the whole arms stability structure, far from maintain the balance of the decades since World War II, could soon become highly unstable.

First, there has been a vast deterioration in both Russian-U.S. and Russian-European relations……..

Second, the “game,” if that is not a misnomer, is no longer a binary affair between two superpowers but, with the ascendancy of China, between at least three …….

Third, while the global spread of nuclear weapons, much feared half a century ago, has up to now been limited, as far as is known, to four new countries — namely India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea……

Fourth, in August America is withdrawing from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 and requiring the progressive destruction of short- and medium-range missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads…….

Fifth, new cybertechnologies are now of such power that they can disrupt anti-missile warning systems, send fake alarms, attack command and control systems and provoke “accidents.”…….

Next year will come a major review of the 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which somehow holds the whole precarious pattern in place. The treaty accepts the legal right of the original five nuclear powers — the U.S., United Kingdom, Russia, China and France — to have nuclear weapons as long as they make progress to disarm and eventually get rid of them…….

a new arms race is beginning and the nuclear risk is increasing when the world has enough troubles already and can ill afford any more.

David Howell is a Conservative politician, journalist and economic consultant. He is chairman of the House of Lords International Relations. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/05/10/commentary/world-commentary/nuclear-paralysis-nuclear-risk/#.XNXwyhQzbGg

May 11, 2019 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran Supports Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Tehran, May 10 (Prensa Latina) Iran supports the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to the full extent, Iran’s Representative to the UN, Mohammad Ali Robatjazi, said in a statement quoted in Tehran on Friday.

During a meeting held in New York, Robajatjazi described the atomic weapon as greatest threat to humanity.

The best way to stop the development of these lethal tools is the total application of the NPT, to which all countries must subscribe, he said.

The Iranian delegate criticized the U.S. nuclear aid to Israel, which reflects its double standards for the possession and development of atomic technology.

Israel must be forced to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and submit to inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he stressed…… https://www.plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=41815&SEO=iran-supports-nuclear-non-proliferation-treaty

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Over $5 Trillion A Year On Oil And Gas Subsidies !

The World Blows Over $5 Trillion A Year On Oil And Gas Subsidies: Report  https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/05/the-world-blows-over-5-trillion-a-year-on-oil-and-gas-subsidies-report/ Brian Kahn, May 11, 2019, The world subsidized its own demise to the tune of $7 trillion in 2017.

That’s how much 191 nations collectively spent directly and indirectly subsidizing fossil fuels, according to the hippies at the International Monetary Fund. The staggering number shows why failure to account for climate change, air pollution, and other societal ills when it comes to fossil fuel extraction is often described as the biggest market failure ever, and also that maybe the market isn’t going to save us.

Thinking about $7 trillion is hard. It’s equivalent to 6.5 per cent of the entire world’s annual GDP. It’s more than France and Germany’s GDP combined. One thing is obvious: it is an absolutely stupid amount of money to be throwing away on something that is actively harmful to life on Earth.

IMF’s report released late last week breaks down where the huge figure comes from. On the one hand, you have you have your direct price subsidies that help offset costs consumers pay for, say gas or heating oil. Those totals are still profound at more than $430 billion in 2017, but the real subsidies are hidden in the impacts burning fossil fuels have on society.

Burning oil, gas, and coal cause widespread health problems tied with air pollution and disrupt the climate, and fossil fuels aren’t paying their fair share.

In their calculations, IMF relies on a metric called the social cost of carbon to estimate these hidden subsidies. It uses a middle of the road estimate of $57 per ton of carbon, with a 3 per cent rise annually. While there are lines of research showing a carbon tax of $57 per ton isn’t high enough, that’s how IMF arrives at its $7 trillion figure.

Using 2015 data, the report also breaks down subsidies by individual countries. The biggest subsidizer by far is China, which committed $2 trillion to subsidizing fossil fuels. The U.S. wasted $930 billion, the equivalent of using $2,907 per person to set the world on fire.

If fossil fuels were correctly priced in 2015, IMF’s research shows carbon emissions would have been 28 per cent lower and 46 per cent fewer people would’ve died from air pollution, which kills 4.2 million annually. Tax revenues would also have gone up 3.8 per cent and the total economic benefits would have been equal to 1.7 per cent of global GDP.

As things are currently structured, dirty fossil fuels like coal are an increasingly tenuous bet financially. But then they’ve also become indefensible scientifically as the world inches closer to catastrophic climate change. Despite this, the world continues to kowtow to entrenched interests. And the longer it does, the more this and future generations will suffer the consequences.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The difficulty in knowing if Iran did start making a nuclear bomb

It may become impossible to tell if Iran starts making a nuclear bomb,   https://www.newscientist.com/article/2202247-it-may-become-impossible-to-tell-if-iran-starts-making-a-nuclear-bomb/   By Debora MacKenzie, 10 May 19, 

The most ambitious effort ever to peacefully stop a country getting a nuclear bomb hangs by a thread this week. On 8 May Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced that his country would start stockpiling low-enriched uranium and heavy water – a potential step towards building nuclear weapons.

The move was in response to US sanctions, despite Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which aims to limit the country’s potential bomb-making nuclear activities.

JCPOA imposed an unprecedented inspections regime on Iranian nuclear plants, which has been testing novel monitoring technology that could severely limit the spread of the bomb.

The deal does not stop Iran making enriched uranium to fuel its nuclear power plant, or heavy water for a reactor it was building at Arak. But it prevents it stockpiling either or enriching uranium further towards weapons-grade, and says Arak must be re-designed to produce less of another bomb fuel, plutonium.

The incentive for Iran was a lifting of trade sanctions, imposed after it was found to have covertly enriched uranium in the early 2000s. Since then the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has judged Iran to be in compliance with the deal.

But one year ago, US president Donald Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, saying he was unhappy with the deal. The US re-imposed trade sanctions and threatened countries that did business with Iran with severe trade penalties. Since then Iran’s oil exports have since fallen from 2.5 to 1 million barrels a day.

Now, Rouhani’s pledge means Iran will stop exporting low-enriched uranium and heavy water, which was mandated by the JCPOA, so Iran could continue production without exceeding caps on stockpiles.

The build-up of the materials will not immediately violate the JCPOA. But Rouhani added that if European countries do not, in 60 days, find some way for banks and importers to do business with Iran without suffering US sanctions, Iran will start enriching uranium further – and build Arak to existing specifications. That will be the end of the JCPOA, as Iran resumes its path to a bomb.

We may not even know if it does. The JCPOA provides three levels of safeguards in Iran. It gets the standard inspections the IAEA does in all countries with nuclear plants; additional inspections agreed in 1997 and voluntary for IAEA member states; and extra, unprecedented inspections, including continuous monitoring using novel technology.

James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, says that without the JCPOA, Iran gets only the basic inspections – which it successfully evaded in the past. Without extra inspections the IAEA cannot draw credible conclusions about the absence of undeclared activities in Iran, says Acton.

In theory inspectors outside Iran could watch for krypton-85, a tell-tale gas emitted when plutonium is extracted from heavy water reactors. But Acton is not even sure Iran would attempt to keep that secret. The idea of having nuclear weapons is to deter attack – and as Dr. Strangelove observed, it isn’t much of a deterrent if no one knows you have it.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The International Atomic Energy Agency itself predicted 4,000 cancer deaths from the Chernobyl nuclear accident

5 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About Chernobyl, Live Science, By Laura Geggel, Associate Editor | May 9, 2019 The Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded more than three decades ago, in 1986, but you can watch it unfold on HBO’s TV miniseries “Chernobyl,” which premiered earlier this week.

While most people know the general story — that due to human error, the nuclear reactor exploded and unleashed radioactive material across Europe — few know the nitty-gritty details. Here are five weird facts you probably didn’t know about Chernobyl. [Images: Chernobyl, Frozen in Time]

About 30,000 people were near Chernobyl’s reactor when it exploded on April 26, 1986. Those exposed to the radiation are thought to have received about 45 rem (rem is a unit of radiation dosage), on average, which is similar to the average dose received by survivors after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, according to the book “Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2008) by Richard Muller, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

While 45 rem is not enough to cause radiation sickness (which usually occurs at about 200 rem), it still increases the risk of cancer by 1.8%, Muller wrote. “That risk should lead to about 500 cancer deaths in addition to the 6,000 normal cancers from natural causes.”

However, a 2006 estimate from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is associated with the United Nations, calculated much higher cancer fatalities. The IAEA looked at the total distribution of the radiation, which reached across Europe and even to the United States, and estimated that the cumulative radiation dose from Chernobyl was about 10 million rem, which would have led to an additional 4,000 cancer deaths from the accident, Muller wrote…… https://www.livescience.com/65450-weird-chernobyl-facts.html

May 11, 2019 Posted by | health, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Increase in Iran Snap Nuclear Inspections as Tensions With U.S. Rise

Iran Snap Nuclear Inspections Jump as Tensions With U.S. Rise, Bloomberg,By Jonathan Tirone, May 11, 2019, 

  •  Nuclear monitors conducted record surprise visits in 2018
  •  Iran has ‘most robust verfication system in existence’

Snap inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities jumped last year, underscoring the wide-reaching ability of international monitors to access potential sites that could feed clandestine research.

The finding was included in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest Safeguards Implementation Report, which is circulating among nuclear-security officials as the specter of another Middle Eastern conflict rises. Europe in particular has found itself squeezed between hostile governments in Washington and Tehran after the U.S. left the nuclear deal and slapped sanctions on Iran.

According to a copy of the restricted report published this week and obtained by Bloomberg News, inspectors deployed in Iran conducted a record number of so-called complementary accesses for a third year running in 2018. Almost 400 inspectors spent some 1,867 person-days combing Iranian sites and triggered more than three surprise visits a month………https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-10/iran-snap-nuclear-inspections-jump-as-tensions-with-u-s-rise

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Why Iran decided to partially withdraw from the nuclear weapons treaty

Iran’s ambassador to the UN blames ‘U.S. bullying’ for decision on nuclear treaty,  PBS NewsHour  Iran said it plans to cease complying with portions of the nuclear deal it signed with Western powers in 2015, though it didn’t withdraw from the agreement altogether. But the announcement increases already escalating tensions with the U.S. Nick Schifrin talks to Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, about why Iran made the decision now and whether it can trust President Trump.
May 8, 2019

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Today, Iran announced it plans to stop complying with portions of the nuclear deal it signed with Western powers in 2015. Iran stopped short of withdrawing from the deal altogether.

    But, as Nick Schifrin reports, the announcement increases already escalating tensions with the United States.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The Iran deal made a fundamental trade: Iran restricted its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

    One year ago today, the Trump administration withdrew from the deal, and has since reimposed sanctions. For the last year, Iran complied with the deal, but, today, Iran said it would not abide by all the deal’s restrictions….. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/irans-ambassador-to-the-un-blames-u-s-bullying-for-decision-on-nuclear-treaty

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Rosatom keenly pursuing international nuclear sales, especially nuclear-weapons related

Rosatom expects foreign business income to double by 2024, WNN,10 May 2019  Rosatom expects to double revenue from its overseas business, from USD6.6 billion last year to USD15 billion by 2024, its director general, Alexey Likhachov, has told Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. In their meeting, on 6 May, Likhachov said foreign projects were the “key theme” of the state nuclear corporation’s future growth.

According to a transcript of their conversation published by Medvedev’s office, Likhachov also said the “open part” of Rosatom’s revenue had for the first time exceeded RUB1 trillion and that investment was also at a record level of one-quarter of a trillion rubles ….
It is also making progress with its new businesses. “It is important to emphasise here that more than 50% of the revenue from new businesses is provided by enterprises of the nuclear weapons complex, defence companies. …….. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Rosatom-sees-income-from-foreign-business-doubling

May 11, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment