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UK’s planned Sizewell power station likely to become a ‘nuclear island’

Rising sea levels could turn new Sizewell power station into ‘nuclear island’ East Anglian Daily Times, 10 January, 2020, Andrew Hirst

Surging sea levels due to climate change could mean new power station Sizewell C is cut off by the water within decades, a top scientist has warned.

 Sue Roaf, emeritus professor of architectural engineering at Heriot Watt University, said it was madness to build a new power station near flood risk sites.

She warned the proposals on the Suffolk coast risked lives and could transform parts of the area into a “toxic wasteland”.

“It’s ridiculous the government is even considering another power station on the coast,” Prof Roaf said.

“You can downplay the future risk, but even by conservative estimates sea levels will have risen by a metre by 2100, potentially making Sizewell a nuclear island during storm surges.”

EDF Energy, which operates Sizewell B and is expected to submit final plans for Sizewell C in the coming months, said its assessments of flood risk already took into account extreme high tides and sea-level rises.

A spokesman said EDF had considered climate change using the “worst case, but plausible sea-level rise” forecasts – and its sea defences could adapt, if needed….

But some forecasts show how rising sea levels could pose problems for nuclear plants, which are mainly based on the coast to use seawater for cooling.

Sizewell itself is shown above the flood level – but almost surrounded by flooded sites.

The Environment Agency’s map already shows much of the land around Sizewell to be at medium or high risk of flooding.

Government analysis of nuclear sites, obtained by the Guardian, found Sizewell had been deemed at high risk of flooding in 2010.

US-based Climate Central recently produced a map showing swathes of Suffolk’s coast and estuaries below the annual flood level by 2050, based on predictions that sea levels will rise 10cm a decade.

Prof Roaf said Suffolk already faced “chronic environmental risk” in protecting Sizewell A and B, as well as their spent fuel, from the sea – and claimed adding Sizewell C would increase the risks.

Nick Scarr, who lives in Aldeburgh and owns an international engineering consultancy, has also written reports highlighting concerns about how spent fuel from Sizewell will be dealt with amid rising sea levels.

Mr Scarr said Suffolk was set to become a “nuclear waste storage facility for at least 200 years” and communities deserved to know more about how it would be safeguarded.

He said current proposals failed to consider the risk of extreme sea events, which according to the International Panel on Climate Change, were likely to happen every year by 2050. Mr Scarr said it was “extraordinary” the government was seemingly oblivious to these warnings and progressing with new nuclear sites on the coast.

Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) raised similar concerns at the Nuclear Free Local Authorities seminar in Colchester last year. TASC’s Pete Wilkinson said as Sizewell was predicted to be an island within a century, or sooner, any new nuclear plant at the site was “irresponsible”.

Paul Dorfman of UCL’s Energy Institute warned during a debate on nuclear power that sites such as Sizewell may need considerable investment to protect against rising sea levels or “even abandonment in the long term”……..

January 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors’ costs and toxicity

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19

“……….4 Small Modular – Nuclear – Reactors’ costs & toxicity

That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful than we are. This is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be.

Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors.” None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.

The chances that any one design will corner enough of the market to become financially viable in the long run is unlikely. So the second Nuclear Renaissance may carry the seeds of its own destruction right from the outset. Unfortunately, governments are not well equipped to do a serious independent investigation of the validity of the intoxicating claims made by the promoters, who of course conveniently overlook the persistent problem of long-lived nuclear waste and of decommissioning the radioactive structures. These wastes pose a huge ecological and human health problem for countless generations to come.

Finally, in the list of projects being investigated, one finds a scaled-down “breeder reactor” fuelled with plutonium and cooled by liquid sodium metal, a material that reacts violently or explodes on contact with air or water. The breeder reactor is an old project abandoned by Jimmy Carter and discredited by the failure of the ill-fated French SuperPhénix because of its extremely dangerous nature. In the event of a nuclear accident, the Tennessee Clinch River Breeder Reactor was judged capable of poisoning twelve American states and the SuperPhénix half of France.

One suspects that our three premiers are only willing to revisit these bygone reactor designs in order to obtain funding from the federal government while avoiding responsibility for their inaction on more sensible strategies for combatting climate changes – cheaper, faster and safer alternatives, based on investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.

By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix.

Gordon Edwards, PhD
Michel Duguay, PhD
Pierre Jasmin,

This article is also published in French, link here.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019 dispels the illusion of nuclear power as a fix for climate change

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019.  (Picture at left is of cover of 2017 report) Tom Burke 8th Jan 2020,
At a time when truth is under systematic political attack and digital technologies are collapsing the public attention span, the publication of long data series such as the Nuclear Industry Status Report becomes
increasingly important.
The real world is not a headline; it does not have a half-life of 24 hours; in it there are real consequences for real people.
Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to dealing with nuclear issues where a loss of perspective, a failure of memory, a persistent illusion, can have catastrophic consequences. This remains true whether you arethinking about nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.
The illusion that nuclear energy offers the world a cornucopia of affordable and reliable electricity has been a persistent illusion for more than half a century. It has always been an expensive illusion. It is now becoming dangerous.
For the past two decades this Report has subject the nuclear industry’s fantasises and politicians illusions to the searchlight of hard data. They have not stood up well to the illumination. The failure of policy makers to make use of the evidence of nuclear futility provided by the Status Report has led to
high electricity costs for businesses and consumers; a massive waste of
public money; the unproductive diversion of scare engineering talent and
material resources and to an as yet uncounted cost for managing the
back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Wasteful as the nuclear illusion has been, and locally dangerous as we have seen at Chernobyl or Fukushima, these were risks we have been able to live with. However, the latest illusion to emanate from the nuclear industry is far more globally dangerous. This is the illusion the nuclear energy is necessary to prevent climate change. This is a truly dangerous illusion. Climate change poses a number of unique challenges to humanity.
One of the most difficult is that the world not only needs to get to a specific place – a carbon neutral global energy system – but it must also get there be a specific time – the middle of the century – otherwise the policy has failed.
The Nuclear Industry Status Report documents exactly why nuclear energy has no further part to play in dealing with climate change. You simply could not build enough nuclear reactors fast enough even to replace the existing reactors that will reach the end of their life by 2050 let alone to replace fossil
fuels in the existing electricity system and even more so for the more
electricity intensive global economy we are currently building.
Let me put that in context. Simply to replace the existing nuclear reactors we will use by 2050, the rate of reactor construction, which is falling, would need
to triple. To build enough to replace fossil fuels would be a global
project far bigger than the Manhattan Project or the us Moonshot.
This would be true even if you were willing and able to overcome all the other
unsolved problems that nuclear reactors face: affordability, accidents,
waste management, proliferation, special materials and talent scarcity and
system inflexibility. In the real world however, there will not be
unlimited capital and other resources available to deal with climate
change. And there is no time.
So, for climate policy to succeed, public policy must adopt energy policies which can deliver the largest reductionin carbon per year per pound invested. In the UK there is no conceivable way in which any further investment in nuclear can meet this criterion.
Indeed, since, in the real world, there will not be unlimited capital for
energy investment, every further pound invested in nuclear power will delay
the achievement of the government’s net zero by 2050 goal. The Prime
Minister has begun a review of departmental spending. He is looking to
identify unnecessary or inappropriate projects. Cancelling the remainder of
the current nuclear programme would meet this goal admirably. It would also
free up resources for the manifesto commitment to energy efficiency that
would get both carbon emissions and energy bills down.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

UK’s competition watchdog to investigate Jacobs’ acquisition of Wood Nuclear Limited

Times and Star 9th Jan 2020, The proposed £250 million acquisition of a major player in the clean-up of the Sellafield site in West Cumbria could be blocked. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into global engineering firm Jacobs’ acquisition of Wood Nuclear Limited – the nuclear arm of the Wood Group.

The proposal deal – announced in August last year – would see Wood Nuclear Limited along with “subsidiary and certain affiliated companies” come under control of Jacobs’ UK division. Jacobs would also take on existing contracts held by the business – which include managing the Design and Engineering lot for the Programme and Project Partners (PPP) framework.

20-year contract awarded last year by Sellafield Limited as part of its push to “revolutionise” the decommissioning of the site, could be worth up to £769 million. Wood’s nuclear division is already a long-standing big tier company at Sellafield and, in December was awarded a £50m contract to provide programmable digital control technologies to the plant.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Pro -war opinion in Washington Post, -but the author is, quietly, a board member of weapons company Raytheon

Washington Post Runs Pro-War Column Without Disclosing Author’s Raytheon Ties, TruthOut, Robert Galbraith, Eyes on the Ties-January 10, 2020 

This week The Washington Post published an opinion column by Stephen Hadley, a former Bush administration official and member of the board of directors of Raytheon. In his op-ed, Hadley justified the Trump administration’s assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and argued that the United States should keep its military force in Iraq. Hadley wrote that killing Soleimani was “a bold move with potentially far-reaching consequences. It unquestionably heightens the risk of war; it could also open the door to diplomacy.”

For Hadley, a heightened risk of war could mean big profits, though this is not noted anywhere in his piece.

The Post, which adopted the motto “Democracy dies in darkness” after President Donald Trump’s attacks on it and other U.S. media institutions, described Hadley as national security advisor to former President George W. Bush. However, it did not disclose that Hadley sits on the board of directors of the weapons manufacturer Raytheon, as Adam Johnson noted on Twitter. Hadley earned $304,946 in cash and stock from Raytheon last year, and owns shares in the company worth more than $2.4 million.

Hadley is far from the only defense industry-tied pundit praising the Trump administration’s escalation of hostility with Iran without reporting their profit motive in pushing the U.S. towards war. As Lee Fang reported in the Intercept, other figures — such as David Petraeus, Jeh Johnson, Jack Keane, and John Negroponte — have also been doing a media circuit defending Soleimani’s assassination. Keane and Negroponte both figured in our earlier report on Syria as well……..

We will continue to monitor the media outlets giving a platform to military industry representatives without disclosing their corporate ties throughout the coming weeks and months.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – a wasteful distraction from real efforts to combat climate change

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best, NB Media Cop. by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin, 21 Dec 19“…….3 Climate changes’ valid preoccupation (1)

Many people concerned about climate change want to know more about the moral and ethical choices regarding low-carbon technologies: “Don’t we have a responsibility to use nuclear?”  The short reply is: nuclear is too slow and too expensive. The ranking of options should be based on what is cheapest and fastest — beginning with energy efficiency, then on to off-the-shelf renewables like wind and solar energy.

In Germany, Dr. David Jacobs, founder of International Energy Transition Consulting, is proudly mentioning the green energy sector’s contribution in achieving the lowest unemployment rate since reunification of his country in the early 1990s. Post-Fukushima Angela Merkel’s decision to close down all of its nuclear reactors by 2022 has pushed the country to purchase photovoltaic solar panels and 30,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in only 8 years: an impressive achievement – more than twice the total installed nuclear capacity of Canada. It would be impossible to build 30,000 megawatts of nuclear in only 8 years. By building wind generators, Germany obtained some carbon relief in the very first year of construction, then got more benefit in the second year, even more benefit in the third, and so on, building up to a cumulative capacity of 30,000 MWe after 8 years.

With nuclear, even if you could manage to build 30,000 megawatts in 8 years, you would get absolutely no benefit during that entire 8-year construction period. In fact you would be making the problem worse by mining uranium, fabricating fuel, pouring concrete and building the reactor core and components, all adding to greenhouse gas emissions – earning no benefit until (and IF) everything is finally ready to function. In the meantime (10 to 20 years), you will have starved the efficiency and renewable alternatives of the funds and political will needed to implement technologies that can really make an immediate and substantial difference.

In Saskatchewan, professor Jim Harding, who was director of Prairie Justice Research at University of Regina where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project, has offered his own reflection; here is the conclusion of his December 2, 2019 comment:

“In short, small reactors are another distraction from Saskatchewan having the highest levels of GHGs on the planet – nearly 70 metric tonnes per capita. While the rest of Canada has been lowering emissions, those here, along with Alberta with its high-carbon tar sands, have continued to rise. Saskatchewan and Alberta’s emissions are now almost equal to all the rest of Canada. Shame on us!”

In the USA, engineers and even CEOs of some of the leading nuclear companies are admitting that the age of nuclear energy is virtually over in North America. This negative judgment is not coming from people who are opposed to nuclear power, quite the opposite — from people lamenting the decline. See, for example, one major report from the Engineering faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Thousands march in Australian cities protesting government inaction on climate change

Sydney CBD climate protest attracts over 30,000 people, SMH, By Janek Drevikovsky and Matt Bungard, January 10, 2020 — More than 30,000 protesters brushed off hot and humid conditions to voice their displeasure at the federal government’s handling of the bushfire crisis and its attitude towards climate change.The event in Sydney’s CBD was set up a few weeks ago by Uni Students for Climate Justice, in conjunction with Extinction Rebellion…….

Protesters chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho ScoMo has got to go” as speakers climbed Town Hall’s side steps, and later moved on to “The liar from the shire, the country is on fire”.

Izzy Raj-Seppings, 13, waited to address the crowd.

She was given a move-on order by police while protesting outside Kirribilli House last September. Her hope is that Friday’s protest will create change……….

Protests also took place in other Australian capital cities.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Bradwell nuclear power plan – foolish, in view of climate change predictions

BANNG 8th Jan 2020, As we enter a new year, Andy Blowers muses on the massive challenge of climate change that lies ahead, globally and locally, in the column for Regional Life, January 2020.

In East Anglia, we are increasingly aware of record heatwaves, milder and wetter winters, retreating coastlines and loss of precious habitats and declining and disappearing species. To an extent, these may be tackled by adaptive measures such as managed retreat of the coastline or hard defences. Even then, land loss and inundation will be unavoidable.

The idea of a massive nuclear power station at Bradwell on a
site threatened by the impacts of climate change seems foolish in the
extreme. Far better to go for cheaper, less risky and easily deployable
renewable options. Concerted action worldwide and locally, by governments,
businesses and individuals, is needed now if we are to reduce carbon
emissions to net zero and avert catastrophe. That was a clear message from
the General Election. Now we must get on with it.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

The twin horrors of nuclear weapons and climate change

We might also fathom the ties between natural disasters related to climate disturbance and nuclear accident risk. Major forest fires have burned dangerously close to nuclear weapons production and storage facilities, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2011, where up to 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste are stored above ground. In 2018, California’s Woolsey fire began near the shuttered Rocketdyne facility, the site of a partial nuclear meltdown some decades ago and the subject of stalled cleanup efforts thereafter. Forest fires have recently raged in the “nuclear exclusion” zone of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, raising dangers of re-suspension and dispersal of contaminants from a site that has exposed millions of people to radioactivity for decades, along with their water, land and biosphere.
Twin inconvenient truths: nuclear arms and climate change, Jan 10, 2020, by Charles Geisler 
At a time when major nuclear arms’ treaties are being orphaned and climate disruption is ballooning, many are asking if there are connections between these twin threats to Creation. The answer is an obvious and uncomfortable yes.

Continue reading

January 11, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As conventional nuclear reactors fail economically, the pro nuclear turn to the fantasy of small nuclear reactors

Small modular nuclear reactors – a case of wishful thinking at best,  NB Media Coop, by Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay, Pierre Jasmin,  21 Dec 19

On Friday the 13th, September 2019, the Saint John Telegraph-Journal’s front page was dominated by what many readers hoped will be a good luck story for New Brunswick – making the province a booming and prosperous Nuclear Energy powerhouse for the entire world. After many months of behind-the-scenes meetings throughout New Brunswick with utility company executives, provincial politicians, federal government representatives, township mayors and First Nations, two nuclear entrepreneurial companies laid out a dazzling dream promising thousands of jobs – nay, tens of thousands! – in New Brunswick, achieved by mass-producing and selling components for hitherto untested nuclear reactors called SMNRs (Small Modular Nuclear Reactors) which, it is hoped, will be installed around the world by the hundreds or thousands!

On December 1, the Saskatchewan and Ontario premiers hitched their hopes to the same nuclear dream machine through a dramatic tripartite Sunday press conference in Ottawa featuring the premiers of the provinces. The three amigos announced their desire to promote and deploy some version of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in their respective provinces. All three claimed it as a strategy to fight climate change, and they want the federal government to pledge federal tax money to pay for the R&D. Perhaps it is a way of paying lip service to the climate crisis without actually achieving anything substantial; prior to the recent election, all three men were opposed to even putting a price on carbon emissions.

Motives other than climate protection may apply. Saskatchewan’s uranium is in desperate need of new markets, as some of the province’s most productive mines have been mothballed and over a thousand uranium workers have been laid off, due to the global decline in nuclear power. Meanwhile, Ontario has cancelled all investments in over 800 renewable energy projects – at a financial penalty of over 200 million dollars – while investing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild many of its geriatric nuclear reactors. This, instead of purchasing surplus water-based hydropower from Quebec a lot less expensive and more secure.

In a December 2 interview on QUB radio, Gilles Provost, spokesperson for the Ralliement contre la pollution radioactive (Movement against radioactive pollution, a Quebec-based group) and former environmental journalist at Le Devoir, criticized the announcement of the three premiers as ill-considered and premature, since none of the conjectural nuclear reactor prototypes exist in reality. Quite a contrast to the three premiers’ declarations, boldly claiming that “SMRs” (they leave out the “N” to minimize public opposition) will help solve climate change, knowing full well that it will take a decade or more before any benefits can possibly be realized – IF EVER.

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. Declaring them a success before they are built is quite a leap of faith, especially in light of the three previous Canadian failures in this field of “small reactors.” Two 10-megawatt MAPLE reactors were built at Chalk River and never operated because of insuperable safety concerns, and the 10-megawatt “Mega-Slowpoke” district heating reactor never earned a licence to operate, again because of safety concerns. The Mega-Slowpoke was offered free of charge to two universities – Sherbrooke and Saskatchewan –both of whom refused the gift. And a good thing too, as the only Mega-Slowpoke ever built (at Pinawa, Manitoba) is now being dismantled without ever producing a single useful megawatt of heat.

2 “Nuclear renaissance” – clambering out of the dark ages?

This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet. That initiative turned out to be a complete flop. Only a few large reactors were launched under this banner, and they were plagued with enormous cost-over-runs and extraordinarily long delays, resulting in the bankruptcy or near bankruptcy of some of the largest nuclear companies in the world – such as Areva and Westinghouse – and causing other companies to retire from the nuclear field altogether – such as Siemens.

Speculation about that promised Nuclear Renaissance also led to a massive (and totally unrealistic) spike in uranium prices, spurring uranium exploration activities on an unprecedented scale. It ended in a near-catastrophic collapse of uranium prices when the bubble burst. Cameco was forced to close down several mines. They are still closed. The price of uranium has still not recovered from the plunge.

Large nuclear reactors have essentially priced themselves out of the market. Only Russia, China and India have managed to defy those market forces with their monopoly state involvements. Nevertheless, the nuclear contribution to world electricity production has plummeted from 17 percent in 1997 to about 10 percent in 2018. In North America and Western Europe, the prospects for new large reactor projects are virtually nil, and many of the older reactors are shutting down permanently without being replaced. By Gordon Edwards PhD, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility; with assistance by Michel Duguay, PhD, professor at Laval University & Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

We must halt war funding and slash the giant Pentagon budget.

As We Work to Prevent Iran War, It’s Time to End All Our Wars, We must halt war funding and slash the giant Pentagon budget.LAUREN WALKER / TRUTHOUT, 21 Dec 19

Progressives are rightly mobilizing in force against with Iran. Preventing another war is certainly imperative. In addition, we must recognize it is Browse revisions past time to end the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a foreign policy that is increasingly synonymous with war, will profit-minded Pentagon contractors and a politicized military leadership win another year of pointless world domination, as if it’s all a big game of Risk?

Pentagon contractors saw their stock prices — and their CEOs’ stock holdings — spike after the Trump administration courted war by killing Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. And those same contractors checked a major item off their Christmas lists in early December with the bipartisan passage of a military spending bill that provides another year of funding for endless war and another year of champagne-popping profits. The Pentagon spending deal was made just days before The Washington Post published a harrowing account of how military leaders covered up the failure of the war in Afghanistan, painting the clearest picture yet of how the military has misled the public for nearly 20 years.

The spending bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, handed $738 billion to the military, including $71.5 billion in war funding, as part of a prior agreement that puts the Pentagon on a path toward record-breaking spending. Just days before news of the “Afghanistan Papers” broke, the negotiation cut a handful of critical antiwar provisions that were included in an earlier House-passed version.

This calls for a do-over. In February, budget negotiations for 2021 will begin. The game is rigged, in that total military spending for 2021 was already set at $740 billion by the 2019 Bipartisan Budget Act. Apologists for the forever wars and Pentagon profiteers are guaranteed at least one more year of soaring Pentagon spending.

But while the money will be spent, the stakes are still life and death. The 2021 budget could spell the end of the wars if Congress sees fit to finally take on its rightful role as the sole declarer of wars……..

Progressive Measures Left on the Cutting Room FloorThe 2020 military budget negotiations left some game-changing progressive measures on the cutting room floor. Those measures are exactly what progressives need to dust off and rally behind.

A House version of the bill that passed over the summer included the same egregious level of spending, but it also imposed some long-overdue limits on presidential war powers, including measures that would have prevented further U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen, limited presidential power to start a war with Iran, and made major steps toward finally ending the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House version also would have prevented the president from shifting military funds to build a wall at the southern border; prevented spending on a new class of more “usable” nuclear weapons; and protected the right of trans people to serve openly in the military. Despite its major flaw — a deeply excessive Pentagon budget — the House version would have done a lot to minimize the damage.

None of those progressive provisions made it into the final deal. Instead, the most progressive advance in the new bill is a provision for paid parental leave for federal employees. The leave policy is an important and welcome change, and long overdue, but it was also a hastily passed, partial measure that leaves much to be desired.

First, End the Wars

Barring another Trump stunt to throw a bone to hungry progressives, the military budget for 2021 must involve a tougher negotiation that results in real changes to Pentagon and presidential war powers. No parade of partial victories is worth the continuation of endless war, or the bankrupting of our nation that the $6.4 trillion (and counting) federal war budget represents.

The country has been at war in Afghanistan for 18 years, the longest war in U.S. history, and so far, the 21st century has been a story of constantly expanding Pentagon power. The war budget for 2020 — for Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere — is $71 billion, though it’s widely acknowledged that the war fund has also become a convenient way for military leaders to skirt legal spending limits. A new war with Iran would only increase the feeding frenzy….

Any meaningful reining in of the Pentagon budget must start with ending the wars, both because of the savings inherent in finally bringing the troops home (and the contractors, weaponry and entire machinery of war with them), but also because a reduced Pentagon budget will depend on establishing a common perception of our relative safety in the world. As long as the country remains at war, the Pentagon is politically untouchable. …….

January 11, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK nuclear weapons programme £1.3bn over budget.

BBC 10th Jan 2020,  UK nuclear weapons programme £1.3bn over budget. The Ministry Of Defence’s “poor management” of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme has led to rising costs and lengthy delays, according to the government spending watchdog.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy for Uganda – a bad option

January 11, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons systems don’t make either Russians or Americans safer

Is Russia’s 100-Megaton Nuclear Torpedo More Trouble Than Its Worth? The National Interest, Lyle J. Goldstein, The National Interest•January 8, 2020

Key Point: The development of new weapons systems may benefit the military-industrial complex, but they don’t benefit the safety of Russians or Americans.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment