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Australian investigative journalist Mark Davis explodes the myths around Julian Assange

CN LIVE! Mark Davis Wikileaks Revelations

While the Internet was meant to democratise the transmission of information we see a few giant technology companies, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have near total control of what is seen and shared.

The situation is even worse in Australia with two or three media companies and the same technology giants having control. And the Government of Australia has granted them ever wider market access to extend their monopolies.

Slowly, instance by instance, the malicious and deceitful smears of Julian Assange’s character have been exposed for what they are; an effort to destroy trust in a system of anonymous leaking that will educate everyone.

WikiLeaks’ threat to the powerful was recognised and every effort was, and is, being made to criminalise anonymous leaking, which would be akin to criminalising Gutenberg’s printing press, but there is not much chance this criminalisation will succeed.

It’s time to bring Julian Assange home. Torturing and punishing him has never been legitimate and serves absolutely no purpose.

Media dead silent as Wikileaks insider explodes the myths around Julian Assange, Michael West, by Greg Bean — 16 August 2019 – It is the journalists from The Guardian and New York Times who should be in jail, not Julian Assange, said Mark Davis last week. The veteran Australian investigative journalist, who has been intimately involved in the Wikileaks drama, has turned the Assange narrative on its head. The smears are falling away. The mainstream media, which has so ruthlessly made Julian Assange a scapegoat, is silent in response.


August 17, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, investigative journalism, Reference | Leave a comment

Anxiety over risks of radiation and heat at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


Controversy over radiation and heat surrounding Tokyo Olympics, HANKYOREH  By Kim Chang-geum, staff reporter : Aug.14,2019

  “…… Safety from radiation and heat at the Tokyo Olympics

Most of the issues related to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which are now only a year away, boil down to safety concerns over radiation and extreme heat. Some baseball and softball matches are scheduled to be held in a stadium located close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor that took direct damage during the 2011 earthquake. Korean civic groups have also pointed out that the Japanese government has failed to properly control water contaminated by radiation from the reactor. Plans to source some of the rice and ingredients for the Tokyo Olympics Athletes Village from Fukushima are adding to these concerns. Although the level of radiation measured in such rice is within the acceptable standards in Japan, it is believed to exceed Korean standards.

Extreme heat is another potential issue. After an open water test competition in Odaiba Seaside Park, Tokyo, on Aug. 11, Sports Nippon reported, “Many athletes complained about a foul odor and the high water temperature, and one male athlete made the shocking claim that it ‘smelled like a toilet.’” Although the Olympic Committee did not reveal the water temperature on that day, it has been reported that the temperature was 29.9 degrees Celsius at 5am. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) cancels events if the water temperature reaches 31 degrees Celsius. There have also been warnings about road races. On August 8, Yusuke Suzuki, Japan’s star race-walker and world record holder in the men’s 20km, stated, “I tried training on the Tokyo Olympics race-walking course. There was no shade, so it could cause dehydration.”
Tokyo Olympics delegation heads meeting from Aug. 20-22It appears that the issue of safety from radiation and concerns about food ingredients will be conveyed during the upcoming three-day meeting with the leaders of each country’s delegation in Tokyo on Aug. 20-22, and a request will be made to the Japanese Olympic Committee to change the name of Dokdo used on maps. If the representatives from each country do raise the radiation issue, the IOC will have no choice but to intervene. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee is also considering providing separate Korean food to Korean athletes through specially prepared meals or lunchboxes.  ….

August 17, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Russian doctors kept in the dark about patients being nuclear accident victims

Russian Doctors Say They Weren’t Warned Patients Were Nuclear Accident Victims
One doctor was reportedly later found to have a radioactive isotope in their muscle tissue.


August 17, 2019 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Australia would be a mug to be conned into buying small modular nuclear reactors

7 reasons why Small Modular Nuclear Reactrs are a bad idea for Australia, more,13010

International news reports that, in a failed missile test in Russia, a small nuclear reactor blew up,  killing five nuclear scientists, and releasing a radiation spike.

In Australian news, with considerably less media coverage, Parliament announced an Inquiry into nuclear energy for Australia, with an emphasis on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Submissions are due by September 16.

A bit of background.  The U.S. government and the U.S. nuclear industry are very keen to develop and export small modular nuclear reactors for two main reasons, both explained in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018     Firstly, with the decline of large nuclear reactors, there is a need to maintain the technology and the expertise, trained staff, necessary to support the nuclear weapons industry. Secondly, the only hope for commercial viability of small nuclear reactors is in exporting them – the domestic market is too small.  So – Australia is seen as a desirable market.

The USA motivation for exporting these so far non-existent prefabricated reactors is clear.  The motivation of their Australian promoters is not so clear.

These are the main reasons why it would be a bad idea for Australia to import small modular nuclear reactors.

  1. COST.Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy concluded that the SMR industry would not be viable unless the industry received “several hundred billion dollars of direct and indirect subsidies” over the next several decades. For a company to invest in a factory to manufacture reactors, they’d need to be sure of a real market for them – Australia would have to commit to a strong investment up front.

The diseconomics of scale make SMRs more expensive than large reactors.  A 250 MW SMR will generate 25 percent as much power as a 1,000 MW reactor, but it will require more than 25 percent of the material inputs and staffing, and a number of other costs including waste management and decommissioning will be proportionally higher.

study by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, commissioned by the 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated costs of A$180‒184/MWh (US$127‒130) for large pressurised water reactors and boiling water reactors, compared to A$198‒225 (US$140‒159) for SMRs.

To have any hope of being economically viable, SMRs would have to be mass produced and deployed, and here is a “Catch-22″  problem The economics of mass production of SMRs cannot be proven until hundreds of units are in operation. But that can’t happen unless there are hundreds of orders, and there will be few takers unless the price can be brought down. Huge government subsidy is therefore required

  1. Safety problems. Small nuclear reactors still have the same kinds of safety needsas large ones have. The heat generated by the reactor core must be removed both under normal and accident conditions, to keep the fuel from overheating, becoming damaged, and releasing radioactivity.   The passive natural circulation coolingcould be effective under many conditions, but not under all accident conditions. For instance, for the NuScale design a large earthquake could send concrete debris into the pool, obstructing circulation of water or air.  Where there are a number of units, accidents affecting more than one small unit may cause complications that could overwhelm the capacity to cope with multiple failures.

Because SMRs have weaker containment systems than current reactors, there would be greater damage if a hydrogen explosion occurred.  A secondary containment structure would prevent large-scale releases of radioactivity in case of a severe accident.  But that would make individual SMR units unaffordable. The result?  Companies like NuScale now move to projects called “Medium” nuclear reactors – with 12 units under a single containment structure.  Not really small anymore.

Underground siting is touted as a safety solution, to avoid aircraft attacks and earthquakes. But that increases the risks from flooding.  In the event of an accident emergency crews could have greater difficulty accessing underground reactors.


Proponents of SMRs argue that they can be deployed safely both as a fleet of units close to cities, or as individual units in remote locations. In all cases, they’d have to operate under a global regulatory framework, which is going to mean expensive security arrangements and a level of security staffing.  ‘Economies of scale’ don’t necessarily work, when it comes to staffing small reactors.   SMRs will, anyway, need a larger number of workers to generate a kilowatt of electricity than large reactors need.  In the case of security staffing, this becomes important both in a densely populated area, and in an isolated one.

  1. Weapons Proliferation.

The latest news on the Russian explosion is a dramatic illustration of the connection between SMRs and weapons development.

But not such a surprise. SMRs have always had this connection, beginning in the nuclear weapons industry, in powering U.S. nuclear submarines. They were used in UK to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Today, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to use SMRs  as part of “dual use” facilities, civilian and military. SMRs contain radioactive materials, produce radioactive wastes – could be taken, used part of the production of a “dirty bomb” The Pentagon’s Project Dilithium’s small reactors may run on Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) , nuclear weapons fuel – increasing these risks.

It is now openly recognised that the nuclear weapons industry needs the technology development and the skilled staff that are provided by the “peaceful” nuclear industry. The connection is real, but it’s blurred.  The nuclear industry needs the “respectability” that is conferred by new nuclear, with its claims of “safe, clean, climate-solving” energy.

  1. Wastes.

SMRs are designed to produce less radioactive trash than current reactors. But they still produce long-lasting nuclear wastes, and in fact, for SMRs this is an even more complex problem. Australia already has the problem of spent nuclear fuel waste, accumulating in one place – from the nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.  With SMRs adopted, the waste would be located in many sites, with each location having  the problem of transport to a disposal facility.  Final decommissioning of all these reactors would compound this problem.   In the case of underground reactors, there’d be further difficulties with waste retrieval, and site rehabilitation.

6. Location. 

I have touched on this, in the paragraphs on safety, security, and waste problems.  The nuclear enthusiasts are excited about the prospects for small reactors in remote places. After all, aren’t some isolated communities already having success with small, distributed solar and wind energy?   It all sounds great. But it isn’t.

With Australia’s great distances, it would be difficult to monitor and ensure the security of such a potentially dangerous system, of many small reactors scattered about on this continent. Nuclear is an industry that is already struggling to attract qualified staff, with a large percentage of skilled workers nearing retirement. The logistics of operating these reactors, meeting regulatory and inspection requirements, maintaining security staff would make the whole thing not just prohibitively expensive, but completely impractical.

  1. Delay. 

 For Australia, this has to be the most salient point of all. Economist John Quiggin has pointed out that Australia’s nuclear fans are enthusing about small modular nuclear reactors, but with no clarity on which, of the many types now designed, would be right for Australia.  NuScale’s model, funded by the U.S. government, is the only one at present with commercial prospects, so Quiggin has examined its history of delays.   But Quiggin found that NuScale is not actually going to build the factory: it is going to assemble the reactor parts, these having been made by another firm, – and which firm is not clear.  Quiggin concludes:

Australia’s proposed nuclear strategy rests on a non-existent plant to be manufactured by a company that apparently knows nothing about it.

As  there’s no market for small nuclear reactors, companies have not invested much money to commercialise them. Westinghouse Electric Company tried for years to get government funding for its SMR plan, then gave up, and switched to other projects. Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, announced:

The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment ‒ it’s that there’s no customers. … The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market. 

Russia’s  programme  has been delayed by more than a decade and the estimated costs have ballooned.

South Korea decided on SMRs, but then pulled out, presumably for economic reasons.

China is building one demonstration SMR, but has dropped plans to build 18 more, due to diseconomics of the scheme.

There’s a lot of chatter in the international media, about all the countries that are interested, or even have signed memoranda of understanding about buying SMRs, but still with no plans for actual purchase or construction.

Is Australia going to be the guinea pig for NuScale’s Small and Medium Reactor scheme?  If so,when?  The hurdles to overcome would be mind-boggling. The start would have to be the repeal of Australia’s laws – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 Section 140A and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998. Then comes the overcoming of States’ laws, much political argy-bargy, working out regulatory frameworks, import and transport of nuclear materials, – finding locations for siting reactors, – Aboriginal issues-community consent,  waste locations.  And what would it all cost?

And, in the meantime, energy efficiency developments, renewable energy progress, storage systems – will keep happening, getting cheaper, and making nuclear power obsolete.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Russia’s fast nuclear reactor project is postponed

Rosatom postpones fast reactor project, report says, WNN, 13 August 2019

Rosenergoatom is expected to receive about RUB280 billion (USD4 billion) less in state funding for the construction of new nuclear reactors in Russia owing to the postponement of its fast neutron reactor programme, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported last week, citing anonymous sources. Rosenergoatom is the nuclear power plant operator subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

Rosatom’s investment plan received preliminary approval during a meeting in the Russian Energy Ministry on 2 August, according to the article, with funding out to 2035 to total RUB880 billion and not the RUB1.16 trillion Rosatom had allocated for the two new VVER-1200 units under construction for the Kursk II project, units 3 and 4 for the Leningrad II project and a BN-1200 fast reactor at Beloyarsk. Commissioning of the BN-1200 has been postponed to 2036, the article said, from the previous target of 2027.

Financing to pay for the new units will be paid back over 20 years, with an average rate of return on investment of 10.5% per year, the article said. Rosatom is prepared to consider a lower rate of return, it added.

Russia’s new investment cycle for its electricity sector will also take into account modernisation work at thermal power plants, the construction of remote energy facilities and the development of renewable energy sources. The funds must however be “distributed among market participants so that wholesale energy market prices do not rise above inflation”, the article said. The reduction in funding reflects “the restriction on tariff growth by inflation”, it added, and thus the launch of the BN-1200 will “most likely be postponed to 2036 in order to reduce energy market spending”…….

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment

Germany shows how it can lead the world in neatly shutting down nuclear power

Spectacular Video Shows Nuclear Power Plant Demolition in Germany

How to demolish a nuclear power plant without blowing it up, By Sheena McKenzie, CNN August 16, 2019 London (CNN Business)This is how you demolish a nuclear power plant German-style. No big red button. No dramatic countdown. No “kaboom!”

August 17, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

India ponders changing its “no first use” nuclear weapons policy

India hints at changing ‘no first use’ nuclear policy  Channel News Asia,    NEW DELHI: India’s defence minister hinted on Friday (Aug 16) that New Delhi might change its “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons, amid heightened tensions with fellow atomic power Pakistan.

India committed in 1999 to not being the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict. Among India’s neighbours China has a similar doctrine but arch rival Pakistan does not.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made the comment on Twitter after visiting Pokhran, the site of India’s successful nuclear tests in 1998 under then prime minister Atal Vajpayee.

“Pokhran is the area which witnessed (Vajpayee’s) firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’ (NFU),” Singh wrote.

“India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” Singh tweeted.

The statement comes as tensions rise with Pakistan after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Indian-administered Kashmir of its autonomy, a move sharply condemned by Islamabad……..

Observers said Singh’s statement is the clearest so far with regards to a change in India’s nuclear doctrine.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian Region Orders Gas Masks After Deadly Nuclear Blast

Russian Region Orders Gas Masks After Deadly Nuclear Blast – Reports top

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

GETTING TO KNOW: ADAM BROINOWSKI, Director of Metamorphosis @ The Street Theatre


Adam Broinowski is a theatre maker, academic and writer. Adam has worked as a director, performer and writer with Australian and international artists and companies since 1994, including as a member of Tokyo-based Gekidan Kaitaisha while a researcher at the University of Tokyo in the 2000s. He is a teacher and researcher in Interdisciplinary Humanities with a focus on Japanese and Asian Studies, Historical Studies, and critical International Politics. He earned a PhD in modern Japanese history and cultural studies (performance, film) from the University of Melbourne. His book Cultural Responses to Occupation in Japan: The Performing Body during and after the Cold War (Bloomsbury Academic) was published in 2016, and he recently completed an Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship entitled ‘Contaminated Life: ‘Hibakusha’ in Japan in the Nuclear Age’ at the School of Culture, History and Language at the ANU. He is co-founder of Social Repair Service with dancer/choreographer Emma Strapps.

The Street talked to Adam as he gets ready for rehearsals of Metamorphosis opening at The Street Theatre on the 17th of August.


As a theatre director I design my approach to suit the particularities and demands of each project. There are some consistent principles I work from. As theatre making is a collaborative pursuit which brings together the skills and knowledges of many people, creating a space for the layering of multiple perspectives is essential. The theatre is a live space which embraces all of the senses in devising ways to evoke the qualities as well as language-meaning of a story. I work with each designer and performer to build a palette of materials and refine a shared multi-sensory language. Theatre also provides a unique opportunity to express the marginalised voices and senses; an attempt to re-balance the homunculus-effect in our societies by creatively amplifying the little-heard perspectives which are so often ignored in public. In short, a people’s theatre which attempts to evoke the life of consciousness in the fullest way possible so as to even-out, if momentarily, the dominant dynamic which concentrates power in our human-made systems as they change over time.


Ignoring my urge to blank on this one, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, published around 1915 amid the collapsing Austro-Hungarian empire and the catastrophe of World War I, seems to have captured a state of being that readers from all over the world continue to identify with. Anchored in the realistic conditions of an aspirational middle-class family somewhere in Bohemia who suddenly lose their capacity to maintain their illusions of status and security, an enigma at the heart of this story stimulates the imagination and permits the reader to blur their boundaries of what shared reality is. While unrelentingly bleak – not surprising considering Kafka’s increasingly withdrawn condition, his battle with tuberculosis, and difficult familial relations – it is also cruelly funny. More politely ridiculous than nihilistic, Kafka beautifully articulates the arbitrary judgements imposed upon people for incomprehensible reasons through a profound wit which manages to find pleasure even as life slowly rolls inexorably toward the cliff… you can always write about it, until you can’t. Sound familiar? We see what can happen to someone and all they thought they had held dear, when for no explicable reason they get up on the ‘wrong side of bed’ in the morning.


Steven Berkoff’s adaption, originally published in the late 1960s, and which he toured around the world as a signature theatre piece over several decades, was a vehicle to promote his style of acting and directing. It remains remarkably close to the original. After all, Berkoff does state in the introduction to his script, ‘I am Kafka’. And yet the ending is somewhat more forgiving in Berkoff’s version. He manages to bring out a wider range of sensory qualities from Kafka’s world. Drawing from a rich legacy of physical theatre artists such as Jean-Louis Barrault, Etienne Decroux, Marcel Marceau and Jacques Lecoq, Berkoff is a genius at adapting modern classic texts using the theatrical tools of physical or total theatre: gesture, movement, design. While maintaining the beauty of the literary text, Berkoff concentrates on evoking shared psychological states, including the subconscious and materiality of emotions, through movement and stage technique in a simple and appealing way. Berkoff also wrote and performed his own plays, produced with his team of designers, actors and producers. As one of a band of mercurial theatre makers who could astutely position themselves within the political and social zeitgeist, particularly during the upheavals of 1980s Britain, Berkoff carved a place for himself within the British theatre scene and now his works are now well established in their own right.


In this version of Berkoff’s adaptation of Metamorphosis, over many readings of the story and the script, relevant literary criticism and from experience in stylised and naturalistic theatre, together with the wonderful talents of the creative and production team I have generated a range of devices and concepts to inform an overall approach. I situated my understanding of the distinct contexts of WWI Bohemia at the tail-end of the industrial revolution in Europe and of West Europe during economic and social recovery after the devastation of WWII in relation to conditions in Canberra in 2019. From the consistent patterns of militarism and contestation over vital resources, market control and boundaries, we see a thread interweaving these three periods – harsh work/life balance, conformity and stigmatisation, individual withdrawal and widespread desire for liberation amid growing inter-state tensions. Yet there is also new meaning to be found in Kafka’s story in the present. It is now undeniable that we are facing mass extinctions in the natural world at a scale we have never experienced in human history. As yet another legacy of the industrial age, a situation largely created from our abundant releases of carbon emissions from our fossil-fuel reliant economies, ‘becoming an insect’ has an altogether new dimension.


Combining the cast’s skills in physical theatre and mime, experience in butoh along with text-based theatre will support our imaginative interpretations of character. In embodying qualities, states and pressures imbedded in the text, we can further open up the psychological and emotional world tensions and time slippages which Berkoff so loves in his script images. We will also use devices from visual theatre, to help perform the transformations in the story as they take place over time.


Working as an ensemble means working as a chorus, in unison, as parts of a whole, as individuals who inform and support each other in sharing the telling of a story. With some nifty ideas and a bit of imagination we are using the theatrical tools of physical stylisation, mask and pre-recorded voice, object/set manipulation, paint and some vegetable matter to double-up some of the roles and to convey the story in an evocative way.


Working closely with the design team has meant providing catalytic stimuli from which to launch their creative realisations – clarifying the script for interpretation, trajectories, details, seeking ways to realise a world of Metamorphosis that layers the influences of three distinct time periods. Adopting a liberal approach to the script, to remain true to the text and the core dynamics of the scenes while not taking the specific stage directions too literally, we aim to contaminate it with present world conditions. This has been quite pleasurable, allowing us to have the freedom to enjoy where our imagination will take us while remaining within the structure of the script and the world of the story.


The work is never ready. It must be ready. It is ready when it is over. A work must have distilled the scenes as much as possible to their essence so they have layers of sediment and a clear flavour. To get there we work we create space for discovery – there are no right answers. Filtering a lot of ideas and materials, we get to the core and its practicable repetition throughout the season. The beauty is in finding things you didn’t expect that emerge from a range of combinations in unpredictable sequential complex: planning, chance, imagination, reflection. As the work is never ready until there is an audience to complete at least half of the whole, the theatre is a place of sensory and intellectual stimulation and engagement where new ideas are sewn and which hopefully germinate for a few weeks after at least.


I worked as a member of a contemporary Japanese theatre company for roughly five years in the 2000s. I learned an enormous amount. As a movement-based company with a strong reliance on concepts on the one hand, and movement techniques derived and adapted from ankoku butoh (dance of darkness), I was able to experience a different way of working in an ensemble and creative team. Working from a basic movement style, as opposed to character and story-telling, while still performing a show with a dramatic structure and arc, was a new way of working for me. Working immersed in a different language and culture was perhaps the most significant difference. This made me more aware of being a minority. It also had a maturing effect on me, helping me to understand different ways of organising and working, to be less assuming, less self-centred, to give more value to seemingly unimportant things, more empathetic of others’ perspectives based on their lived experiences and contexts, and appreciative of the uniqueness and ephemerality of the overall experience. It is truly remarkable what artists, humans overall, can achieve if they cooperate and focus on a shared goal. It is even more remarkable if they have the support of visionary cultural policy and the networks that engenders. It may have been a path I was on anyway, but I learned an enormous amount. I certainly learned to creatively make more out of less. This piece is a blend of some of these influences – minimalist movement, expressionist movement, dramatic theatre.


I want to continue to make theatre that is of relevance to the contemporary situation, which can offer new ways of interpreting our shared present and pasts, based on new and under-recognised connections and resonances between diverse communities and knowledges in this infinitely complex ensemble we call the Earth.


The Street and I have been steadily developing a relationship based on inspiration, reciprocity, generosity, trust, healthy realism, and advocacy of the importance of theatre and live performance for the wider community and a healthy social fabric. Artistic Director Caroline Stacey has generously made creative offers which I couldn’t refuse from The Street and the theatre and arts community including this wonderful opportunity.


A book called ‘The Songs of Trees’. An interesting book from the early 1990s called the Mudrooroo-Müller project that explores the adaptation of a Heiner Müller play by Aboriginal playwright Mudrooroo. Also, a book on Dario Fo.  There are several other ‘to read’ books and articles on my desk…

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s Government Ultimate Hypocrisy and Arrogance

“Remote-controlled robots that can withstand high radiation exposure are ‘expected in the near future’ to help remove melted nuclear fuel debris out of the reactors”

Uncapable at home to really handle a triple meldown  while sacrificing its own population with an intensive denial and cover-up campaign, Japan is now proposing to the U.S. to help denuclearizing North Korea. Isn’t that the ultimate height of hypocrisy and arrogance?


hghkjlmmù.jpg(File photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on April 23, 2019, shows the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, where decommissioning work is under way.)


Japan tells U.S. of plan to offer robots for denuclearizing N. Korea

August 16, 2019

Japan has told the United States that it is ready to provide its robot technology for use in dismantling nuclear and uranium enrichment facilities in North Korea as Washington and Pyongyang pursue further denuclearization talks, Japanese government sources said Friday.

As Japan turns to remote-controlled robots it has developed to decommission reactors that suffered meltdowns in 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it believes the same technology can be used in North Korea, according to the sources.

The offer is part of Japan’s efforts to make its own contribution to the denuclearization talks amid concern that Tokyo could be left out of the loop as the United States and North Korea are stepping up diplomacy.

Tokyo has already told Washington it would shoulder part of the costs of any International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of North Korean facilities and dispatch Japanese nuclear experts.

The scrapping of nuclear facilities such as the Yongbyon complex that has a graphite-moderated reactor will come into focus in forthcoming working-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to close the complex — seen as the center of the country’s nuclear material production activities — during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February.

But the Trump-Kim talks broke down after the two leaders failed to reconcile Washington’s demand for denuclearization and Pyongyang’s call for sanctions relief.

Earlier this year, Japan and the United States held a working-level meeting before the Hanoi summit, in which Washington pointed to the possibility of radioactive contamination near North Korea’s facilities due to its lax management of nuclear materials, the sources said.

Japan then offered “any support,” including technological assistance, according to the sources.

Remote-controlled robots that can withstand high radiation exposure are ‘expected in the near future’ to help remove melted nuclear fuel debris out of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, crippled since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

For such technology to be used in the decommissioning of a nuclear facility, experts need to inspect its internal structure and check radiation levels. Therefore, Pyongyang’s acceptance of such on-site inspections would be essential.

Trump has said on Twitter that he received a letter from Kim stating that the North Korean leader is willing to meet again after joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises end next Tuesday.

North Korea, which sees the joint drills as rehearsals for invasion, has fired a series of short-range missiles in apparent protest, most recently on Friday, but Trump has played down the significance of such launches.

While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who places priority on resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s, has expressed his hope to meet Kim “without preconditions,” such a summit appears unlikely.

Abe is the only leader yet to meet face-to-face with Kim among the countries involved in the long-stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program — the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Trump has delivered on his promise to Abe to raise the abduction issue during his meetings with Kim. The U.S. president takes the view that neighboring countries such as Japan need to pay for North Korea’s denuclearization and extend economic assistance in return for Pyongyang scrapping its nuclear facilities.

“Japan’s security will be left out if we fail to be part of the U.S.-North Korea negotiations,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry source said.


August 17, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment