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August 2- The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty expires- new arms race begins

Demise of US-Russian Nuclear Treaty Triggers Warnings, VOA News , By Charles Maynes, July 31, 2019  “………  “Gorbachev and Reagan had the goal of arms reduction and they did not allow themselves to be pushed off track,” Palazhchenko says.

 “[It was] definitely a huge step forward. Two great nations, two nuclear superpowers have finally been able to stop the arms race in at least two categories of nuclear weapons.”

With the agreement, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. formally renounced the development and deployment of ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Both sides were still armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy one another — and the rest of the planet. But George Shultz says the INF’s elimination of short- and medium-range arsenals made the world infinitely safer in one critical regard — time……….

the short-range weapons also magnified the risks of what some called a potential “Euroshima.”

Where once the Cold War threat consisted of missiles lobbed across oceans, the new quick delivery missiles incentivized a first strike and immediate response. There was little time to verify whether an attack was real — or a false alarm.

Fear of the superpowers stumbling into nuclear Armageddon gripped the European public. Thousands marched in opposition to the U.S. missiles — a factor that increasingly influenced Washington’s own decision-making.

“We were negotiating not only with the Soviets but the European public,” recalls Shultz. “Who would want a nuclear missile on their soil? It makes you a target.”

Indeed, public opposition in Europe — and a desire to grab the moral high ground — drove President Reagan to embrace a concept called the “Zero Option.”

The idea? That when it came to negotiating over intermediate and short-range nukes, Reagan wouldn’t just push for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to limit their arsenals. They’d demand both sides give up everything.

Russian proverb

Critical to selling the idea to skeptics were intensive inspections — with Reagan often citing an old Russian proverb: doverai no proverai. Trust but verify.

“The INF treaty contains in it the most clear verification provisions — onsite inspections!” Schultz says. “People said we could never get that but we did.”

Over the next three years, inspectors observed as both sides destroyed their arsenals — over 800 missiles by the U.S. and nearly double that from the Soviet side.

Viktor Litovkin, a military journalist who covered the events for the the Soviet daily Izvestia newspaper, remembers watching as Soviet engineers carried out the treaty’s provisions — destroying missile after missile with tears in the eyes.   ………

INF 1987-2019 (RIP)

Today, the Trump administration argues it is the INF Treaty that has now outlived its use.

Last October, President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, traveled to Moscow to deliver the news: The U.S. would leave the INF agreement amid long-standing U.S. accusations that Russia was violating the treaty………..

Russian President Vladimir Putin soon followed suit — announcing that Russia, too, was leaving the pact.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, the INF treaty expires Aug. 2. Both sides have vowed to develop weapons once banned under the INF. 

A new arms race?

All of this has left Europe, once again, the battleground in a potential new arms race — with tomorrow’s weapons promising shorter warning times…..

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s coverup of 2017 nuclear accident in the Ural mountains

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Elizabeth Warren proposed “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons

Warren, Bullock spar over ‘no first use’ nuclear policy, The Hill 

In defending the proposed policy, Warren argued for diplomatic and economic solutions to conflict, saying “we should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”

But Bullock opposed that proposal, saying, “I don’t want to turn around and say, ‘Well, Detroit has to be gone before we would ever use that.’”

Warren is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of a bill that would make it U.S. policy not to use nuclear weapons first.

It has long been the policy of the United States that the country reserves the right to launch a preemptive nuclear strike.

Backers of a no first use policy argue it would improve U.S. national security by reducing the risk of miscalculation while still allowing the United States to launch a nuclear strike in response to an attack.

During the debate, Warren argued such a policy would “make the world safer.”

“The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world,” she said. “It reduces the likelihood that someone miscalculates, someone misunderstands.”

Bullock argued he wouldn’t want to take the option off the table, but that there should be negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons……

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Samantha Smith – a 10 year old who acted to reduce nuclear weapons

Your voice matters in reducing nuclear weapons

August 1, 2019 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Murky Middle East nuclear deal involving Trump’s billionaire friend

Trump’s friend tried to profit from Middle East nuclear deal, lawmakers say

Congressional report finds Tom Barrack tried to buy Westinghouse as he sought a related government post

A billionaire friend of Donald Trump pursued a plan to buy Westinghouse Electric Corp – even as he lobbied Trump to become a special envoy and promote the company’s work on nuclear power in Saudi Arabia, a congressional report released on Monday.

While Tom Barrack failed in both efforts, the report provides fresh evidence of the ease with which some corporate and foreign interests have gained access to the US president and other senior members of his administration.

Documents obtained by the Democratic-led House oversight committee raise “serious questions about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons”, the report said.

The report is the second from the panel’s investigation into the plan to construct 40 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. The plan was supported by Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; Barrack, Trump’s inaugural committee chairman; and a consortium of companies led by retired US military commanders and former White House officials called IP3.

One company was Westinghouse, the only US manufacturer of large reactors, which was bought out of bankruptcy by Brookfield Asset Management last August.

The report comes alongside a number of other investigations into the administration being conducted by the panel chaired by the US representative Elijah Cummings – including into the use of personal texts and emails for official business by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Trump attacked Cummings, an African American from Baltimore, in weekend tweets that the president’s critics denounced as racist.

Monday’s report was based largely on thousands of documents provided by unidentified private companies. The White House, the report said, provided no documents, while other federal agencies submitted some.

The committee may subpoena White House documents, it said.

Documents showed that Barrack negotiated with Trump and other White House officials to seek “powerful positions”, including special Middle East envoy, as he took steps to profit from the civil nuclear scheme he advocated.

A previous committee report, published in February, said efforts to advance the nuclear power scheme began during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump officials have continued meeting with IP3 even though White House lawyers in January 2017 instructed staff to cease work on the plan over concerns that Flynn was breaking conflict of interest laws, according to that report. Flynn, fired by Trump in February 2017, advised IP3 while serving on his campaign and transition team, said both reports.

White House lawyers also worried that promoters of IP3’s so-called “Middle East Marshall Plan” sought to transfer US nuclear know-how to Saudi Arabia even as they pushed back on Riyadh’s behalf against certain safeguards, the reports said. Known as the “Gold Standard”, the safeguards are designed to prevent nuclear weapons development. IP3 called the standard a “total roadblock”, Monday’s report said.

A Barrack spokesman said the billionaire had been cooperating with the oversight committee and had provided it with requested documents. Barrack’s investments and business development in the region were for a “better aligned Middle East”, he said. “This is not political, it is essential.“

The White House and IP3 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

 Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts takes step towards Repealing Ohio Nuclear Bailout

August 1, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | 4 Comments

Collapse of the INF treaty could be followed by the expiry of New Start

Pillars of nuclear arms control are teetering
Collapse of the INF treaty could be followed by the expiry of New Start,

Barring a miraculous turnround, a key pillar of the cold war-era nuclear arms control architecture will tumble this week. First the US then Russia suspended participation this year in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned missiles with a range of 500km-5500km, over Washington and Nato’s claims that Moscow has developed missiles breaching the agreement. Unless Russia destroys those missiles by August 2, the US is set to terminate the treaty. This is not just highly dangerous for European security. It is a further step in the unravelling of arms control and rekindling of the nuclear arms race.

More than 40 years of talks between the US and Moscow produced nine significant treaties and agreements to limit and then reduce nuclear weapons. The demise of the INF treaty follows the US withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so the country could proceed to develop a missile defence system to counter rockets from “rogue” states such as Iran and North Korea.

Another, bigger, pillar is now teetering. The New Start treaty on reducing strategic nuclear warheads, signed by then US and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, will expire in 2021. Though the treaty terms allow it to be extended to 2026, the Trump administration has dragged its feet on doing so. ……..

The demise of New Start, after the INF deal, would not just remove constraints on a new arms race but leave the two big nuclear powers for the first time in decades without the ability to verify each other’s weapons. After Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous signal to existing and aspiring nuclear weapons states. If the biggest atomic powers see no need to submit to controls, or honour nuclear deals with third countries, why should they?

It may now be too late to rescue the INF deal. But Washington should engage rapidly with Moscow on renewing New Start. …….

August 1, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear power has never been financially viable

August 1, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Fukushima governor accepts Tepco plan to scrap No. 2 nuclear plant and store spent fuel on site

Fukushima governor accepts Tepco plan to scrap No. 2 nuclear plant and store spent fuel on site, Japan Times, 31 July 19

KYODO   Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday his prefecture will accept a decision by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., or Tepco, to scrap the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear complex, which is located near the No. 1 plant that was crippled in the March 2011 disaster.

In a meeting with Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the president of the utility, the governor also accepted its plan to build an on-site storage facility to store spent nuclear fuel.

The decision means that all 10 nuclear reactors in the northeastern prefecture, including the six at the Fukushima No. 1 complex 12 kilometers from the No. 2 plant, will be scrapped, though the decommissioning work will take decades.

Tepco’s decision to scrap the No. 2 complex, expected to cost around ¥280 billion ($2.6 billion), was formally approved at the company’s board meeting held on Wednesday.

While three of the reactors at the No. 1 complex experienced meltdowns in March 2011, the earthquake and tsunami disaster did not cause serious structural damage to the No. 2 plant…….

Tepco has not picked a final disposal site for the spent fuel from the No. 2 complex, raising concern among local residents that the radioactive nuclear waste may remain stored on-site for a long time.

“The premise is that the nuclear fuel will be transported out of the prefecture. Temporary storage for the time being is unavoidable,” Uchibori said.

He later told reporters Tepco had assured him that the storage facility would not be permanent.

The No. 2 plant currently has around 10,000 assemblies of spent fuel cooling in pools.

The scrapping of the No. 2 plant also means that the central government’s annual subsidies of around ¥1 billion for each of the towns of Naraha and Tomioka that host the facility will eventually be terminated.

Revenue linked to the nuclear plant, from property taxes and in other forms, accounted for 25 percent of Naraha’s total revenue and 40 percent of Tomioka’s.

Uchibori said he will ask the government to take into account “the financial situation of the two towns in view of the special circumstances relating to the decommissioning.”

August 1, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Hunterston B Twinned with Chernobyl ? —

A Letter to EDF and the Office for Nuclear Regulation on Hunterston B and the cracked graphite. Chernobyl Could Never Happen Here ? Hi Simone and all at EDF and ONR Thank you for putting back the restart date of Reactor 4 to the 5th August from the 22nd July. This has made Scotland a […]

via Hunterston B Twinned with Chernobyl ? —

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plymouth Plans to Pressure NRC Over Review of Nuclear Power Station Sale to Holtec — Mining Awareness +

From “Plymouth plans to pressure NRC over review of nuke sale By David Kindy Posted Jul 26, 2019 at 1:00 PM It’s about to get a lot warmer in Plymouth. Local officials are ready to turn up the heat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) [1] following the announcement by the proposed buyer of […]

via Plymouth Plans to Pressure NRC Over Review of Nuclear Power Station Sale to Holtec — Mining Awareness +

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pilgrim Watch Files Third Contention Against Sale of Plymouth Nuclear Power Station to Holtec — Mining Awareness +

From “Pilgrim Watch files third contention against sale of Plymouth nuke By David Kindy Posted Jul 20, 2019 at 1:00 PM Updated Jul 20, 2019 at 7:11 PM PLYMOUTH – A local nuclear watchdog group has filed a third contention against the proposed sale of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station [1] by Entergy Inc. [2] to Holtec International [3]. Pilgrim Watch [4] filed motions […]

via Pilgrim Watch Files Third Contention Against Sale of Plymouth Nuclear Power Station to Holtec — Mining Awareness +

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

40 Ways Ohio Now Proposes Nuclear Suicide

By Harvey Wasserman, 1 August 19
A bought, gerrymandered Ohio Legislature has just handed a much-hated $150 million/year public bailout to two dinosaur nuke reactors primed to explode.
It also bails out two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and guts programs for increased efficiency.
But a possible repeal referendum could reverse all that—-and have a serious impact on the Trumpsters who pushed it—-in the 2020 election.
Here are some basics:
X  The 42-year-old Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo and 33-year-old Perry, east of Cleveland, are both dangerously crumbling.
X  Neither can compete with wind, solar, gas or increased efficiency.
X   Both would shut immediately in a free market environment.
X  Like all nuke reactors, both emit substantial quantities of heat, radiation and carbon.
X  Both threaten the entire north coast and Great Lakes region with a radioactive apocalypse.
X   Neither can get private disaster insurance.
X   Their owner, FirstEnergy (FE) of Akron, is bankrupt.
X   The utility stands to gain some $150,000,000/year at the expense of ALL Ohio electric consumers, not just those in its territory.  .
X   FE’s top seven execs are paid roughly $25,000,000/year; CEO Chuck Jones gets $9,500,000.
X   In 2003 FE blacked out 50,000,000 people.
X   Davis-Besse’s infamous 2002 “hole-in-the-head” came when boric acid ate nearly all the way through the reactor pressure vessel.
X   In 1986 (as the Challenger blew up) Perry became the first US reactor to be damaged by an earthquake; a 4.0 shock recently hit less than 25 miles away.
X    A state-mandated 1986-7 study showed northern Ohio cannot be evacuated from a melt-down…and certainly not amidst an earthquake.
X     Ohio’s North Coast is flat, blown by constant lake-based winds, criss-crossed with transmission lines and good turbine sites near the cities to be served.
X    Local farmers are desperate for the income the turbines would provide.
X   Some $4.2 billion in private capital is poised to pour into the region for wind farms creating thousands of jobs and lowering electric rates.
X   Turbines in Lake Erie, plus land-based wind and solar farms, enhanced by batteries and efficiency, can provide all Ohio’s electricity far cheaper than from nukes and/or fossil fuels, creating far more jobs.
X   But in 2014, with zero basis in health or environmental protection, FE’s bought legislators put in the Ohio Code a setback clause that has killed wind development in the state.
X   Ohio now has far less installed wind capacity than neighboring Indiana, Michigan, New York or Pennsylvania, which have comparable wind resources but no such set-back clause.
X  Ohio is a national leader in manufacturing wind turbine components, virtually none of which are deployed in Ohio.
X  Perry & DB have been repeatedly bailed out dating back at least to 1999, when FE scammed a $9 billion “stranded cost” give-away.
X   It was called a “stranded cost” bailout because FE complained even then the reactors could not compete in an open market.
X    This latest bailout was directly pushed by Trump, at least one of whose co-conspirators personally lobbied key legislators for it.
X   Ohio is roughly 50/50 Republican/Democrat, but the GOP has heavily gerrymandered majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
X  In 2018 FE targeted a dozen GOP legislative primaries, buying at least 11 bailout votes.
X   This latest bailout bill could not have passed without votes from key corporate Democrats.
X  A strong statewide grassroots movement arose to oppose the bailout.
X   An overwhelming majority of testifiers before the Legislature were opposed.
X   A strong majority of the state’s newspapers was also opposed.
X  All were ignored by Democrats and Republicans alike.
X   Efforts are now underway to put a referendum on the fall 2020 ballot.
X   If filed within 90 days, the bailout will be put on hold until the vote.
X   Polls show a strong majority of Ohioans oppose the bailout.
X  If the bailout is on the 2020 ballot, it could encourage a strong opposition turnout that could hurt Trump and help tip the election in a key swing state.
X   But Trump, FE and the nuke industry will spend unlimited millions to defeat it.
X   It’s been widely known since at least 2004 that Ohio’s registration rolls and voting procedures are heavily rigged to favor the GOP and its corporate owners.
X  The longer Perry and Davis-Besse operate the higher the odds they’ll obliterate Toledo, Cleveland and the entire Great Lakes region.
X  Neither has private disaster insurance.
X  FE can’t handle its radioactive wastes, evacuate the region when disaster strikes or credibly maintain the reactors in their current (deteriorating) state.
Should the referendum get on the ballot, it could help take down Trump and save the region from an apocalyptic catastrophe, as well as economic ruin.  Should it fail, the odds on a major nuclear catastrophe along the shores of Lake Erie are too high to contemplate.
The stakes could not be higher.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

The Deep Isolation Texas nuclear waste plan

An excellent article, explaining Deep Isolation, and thoroughly outlining the global problem of radioactive trash.
What a pity, then, that this article, and its title, mindlessly accept the current dogma about nuclear power being the solution to climate change!. To believe this is to ignore nuclear’s serious problems, and especially the fact that the thousands of nuclear reactors required would never be built in time to have any effect on global warming – even if that claim were true – which it isn’t.


The Deep Isolation Texas demonstration 

“………Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 site will remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years. In July 2019, 33 years after the explosion, 200 metric tons (220 tons) of uranium, plutonium, liquid fuel and irradiated dust was finally encased below an enormous 36,000-metric-ton (40,000-ton), €1.5 billion steel and concrete structure taller than the Statue of Liberty. The new sarcophagus will last about 100 years — after which it will deteriorate and future generations will have to decide how to dismantle and store it permanently.

Skip forward to Cameron, Texas, on January 16, 2019. This was a nerve-wracking day for Liz Muller, co-founder of California startup technology company Deep Isolation and her father, Richard Muller, professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and now chief technology officer at Deep Isolation.

The father-daughter team had invited 40 nuclear scientists, U.S. Department of Energy officials, oil and gas professionals, and environmentalists to witness the first-ever attempt to test whether the latest oil-fracking technology could be used to permanently dispose of the most dangerous nuclear waste.

At 11:30 a.m., the crew of oil workers used a wire cable to lower a 30-inch (80-centimeter)-long, 8-inch (20-centimeter)-wide 140-pound (64-kilogram) canister — filled with steel rather than radioactive waste — down a previously drilled borehole. Then, using a tool called a “tractor” invented by the industry to reach horizontally into mile-deep oil reservoirs, they pushed it 400 feet (120 meters) farther away from the borehole through the rock.

Five hours later, the crew used the tractor to relocate and collect the canister, attach it to the cable and pull it back to the surface — to the cheers of the workers. Until then, few people in the nuclear industry believed this could be done.

By avoiding the need to excavate large, expensive tunnels to store waste below ground, the Deep Isolation team believes it has found a solution to one of the world’s most intractable environmental problems — how to permanently dispose of and potentially retrieve the hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste presently being stored at nuclear power plants and research and military stations around the world.

“We showed it could be done,” Elizabeth Muller says. “Horizontal, directional drilling has come a long way recently. This is now an off-the-shelf technology. Using larger canisters, we think about 300 boreholes with tunnels up to 2 miles (3 kilometers) long would be able to take much of the U.S.’s high-level nuclear waste. We think we can reduce by two-thirds the cost of permanent storage.” ……In 80-odd years of nuclear power, in which more than 450 commercial reactors, many experimental stations and tens of thousands of nuclear warheads have been built, great stockpiles of different levels of waste have accumulated.

Depending on how countries classify waste, only about 0.2–3% by volume is high-level waste, according to the World Nuclear Association, a London-based industry group that promotes nuclear power. Mostly derived from civil reactor fuel, this is some of the most dangerous material known on Earth, remaining radioactive for tens of thousands of years. It requires cooling and shielding indefinitely and contains 95% of the radioactivity related to nuclear power generation.

A further 7% or so by volume, known as intermediate waste, is made up of things like reactor components and graphite from reactor cores. This is also highly dangerous, but it can be stored in special canisters because it does not generate much heat.

The rest is made up of vast quantities of what is called low-level and very low level waste. This comprises scrap metal, paper, plastics, building materials and everything else radioactive involved in the operation and dismantling of nuclear facilities.

The consensus is that around 22,000 cubic meters (29,000 cubic yards) of solid high-level waste has accumulated in temporary storage but not been disposed of (moved to permanent storage) in 14 western countries, along with unknown amounts in China, Russia and at military stations. A further 460,000 cubic meters (600,000 cubic yards) of intermediate waste is being stored, and about 3.5 million cubic meters (4.6 million cubic yards) of low-level waste. Some 34,000 cubic meters (44,000 cubic yards) of new high-level and intermediate waste is generated each year by operating civil reactors, says another nuclear industry group, the World Nuclear Association (WNA).

The U.S., with 59 nuclear power plants comprising 97 working civil reactors each generating at least several tons of high-level waste per year, has around 90,000 metric tons (99,000 tons) of high-level waste awaiting permanent disposal, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Although it’s impossible to come up with a global total because of differences in how quantities are measured and reported, and with some inventories kept secret, other countries harbor significant amounts of waste as well.

Many Ideas

In the early days of nuclear power, waste of any sort was barely considered. BritishU.S. and Russian authorities, among others, dumped nuclear waste, including more than 150,000 metric tons (160,000 tons) of low-level waste at sea or in rivers. Since then, billions of dollars have been spent trying to identify how best to reduce the amount produced and then store it for what may be eternity.

Many ideas have been investigated, but most have been rejected as impractical, too expensive or ecologically unacceptable. They include shooting it into spaceisolating it in synthetic rockburying it in ice sheetsdumping it on the world’s most isolated islands; and dropping it to the bottom of the world’s deepest oceanic trenches.

Vertical boreholes up to 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) deep have also been proposed, and this option is said by some scientists to be promising. But there have been doubts because it is likely to be near impossible to retrieve waste from vertical boreholes…….

Only Finland is close to completing a deep repository for high-level waste. In May, work started on an “encapsulation” plant where waste will be packed inside copper canisters that will be transferred into 400- to 450-meter (1,300- to 1,500-foot)-deep underground tunnels. But doubt has been cast on the long-term safety of the canisters.

“The problem is intractable,” says Paul Dorfman, founder of the Nuclear Consulting Group, a group of around 120 international academics and independent experts in the fields of radiation waste, nuclear policy and environmental risk. “The bitter reality is that there is no scientifically proven way of disposing of the existential problem of high- and intermediate-level waste. Some countries have built repositories, some plan them. But given the huge technical uncertainties, if disposal does go ahead and anything goes wrong underground in the next millennia, then future generations risk profound widespread pollution.”

Many people now doubt that a satisfactory final repository will ever be found. …..

August 1, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

U.S. bipartisan lawmakers aim to restrict nuclear deals with Saudi Arabia

U.S. Senate Targets Saudi Nuclear Technology

The bipartisan bill follows the revelation that a longtime Trump advisor was pushing for lucrative nuclear deals with Riyadh.

BY ROBBIE GRAMER JULY 30, 2019  A bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing new legislation aimed at restricting the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, the latest sign of growing congressional backlash to the Trump administration’s close relationship with the wealthy Gulf nation.

The bill, put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, would bar the U.S. Export-Import Bank from financing the transfer of nuclear technology and equipment to Saudi Arabia, absent nuclear cooperation agreements, and adopting restrictive international standards to safeguard against nuclear proliferation. The Export-Import Bank plays a key role in funding the export of U.S. nuclear energy equipment and technology abroad.

We should never allow nuclear material to fall into the wrong hands, and certainly the [Saudi] crown prince and this regime have demonstrated they can’t be trusted,” said Van Hollen in a phone interview.

The legislation comes on the heels of a bombshell new report from a House oversight committee that alleges a longtime associate of U.S. President Donald Trump, the wealthy businessman Thomas Barrack, was using his relationships in the White House to advance lucrative business deals on nuclear power in Saudi Arabia and stood to profit from the efforts.

The report, released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Monday, “exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

Van Hollen and Graham’s bill, according to a draft obtained by Foreign Policy, would bar the Export-Import Bank from funding such transfers to Saudi Arabia unless Riyadh renounces uranium enrichment and reprocessing, establishes a nuclear cooperation agreement in line with the Atomic Energy Act that regulates civilian nuclear energy, and adopts additional safeguard protocols in line with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Republican Sen. Jerry Moran and Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley are also co-sponsoring the bill.

The legislation would also require the bank to report to Congress details of any agreement on nuclear transfers to Saudi Arabia. One such proposal is already underway. The Export-Import Bank in 2018 received an application to finance U.S. exports for a proposed nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia, according to an email sent by a senior Export-Import Bank official to Senate staff, obtained by Foreign Policy. “The application is in the early stages of review,” the official wrote in the email.

While Saudi Arabia has plans to develop an extensive nuclear power program, its government thus far “has demonstrated little willingness to accept strong non-proliferation measures” the draft legislation reads.

Critics of the Trump administration say it is not requiring Saudi Arabia to use the so-called “gold standard” in a nuclear cooperation agreement, which requires a foreign country to commit to not using transferred nuclear technology to make nuclear weapons.

Van Hollen said the Trump administration has not been transparent with Congress on its push to transfer nuclear technologies to Saudi Arabia. “This administration’s been secretly moving ahead to try to transfer nuclear technology to the Saudis without appropriate oversight and without appropriate conditions,” he said. When Congress asks for more information, “they’ve been totally opaque, they’ve been dragging their feet, they’ve not been providing information,” he said.

The Trump administration has locked horns with Congress for months over the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Riyadh’s role in the deadly conflict in Yemen and Saudi officials’ roles in the murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.


August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment