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Trump wants USA to hugely increase its nuclear weaponry

Trump Says U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Must Be ‘Greatly’ Expanded, Bloomberg, By  Alex Wayne, December 23, 2016
  •  Russian president said his arsenal also should be strengthened
  •  Obama has sought to both modernize and reduce U.S. weapons

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday the U.S. should increase its nuclear arsenal, an apparent reversal of a decades-long reduction of the nation’s atomic weaponry that came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated calls for his country’s arsenal to be reinforced.

“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump said in a Twitter post…….(subscribers only) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-22/trump-says-u-s-nuclear-arsenal-must-be-greatly-expanded

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Time that Japan faced up to the folly of its nuclear fuel cycle dream

As the situation stands, plutonium will start to pile up with no prospects of it being consumed. Reducing the amount produced is also an issue that needs to be addressed.

The United States and Britain have already pulled out of a nuclear fuel cycle.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Japan, Reference, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Sellafield’s safety dilemma- risk of coronavirus versus risk of nuclear accident

May 19, 2020 Posted by | employment, health, safety, UK | Leave a comment

The international nuclear weapons race

https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-pakistan-among-biggest-spenders-on-nuclear-weapons/30618712.html

May 19, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD | Leave a comment

A moment of reckoning – when coronavirus meets climate change

May 19, 2020 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at risk, due to Donald Trump’s accusations ?

Will the Trump administration’s accusations doom the nuclear test ban treaty? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Andreas Persbo, May 18, 2020  In April, while most of the world was focused on defeating a devastating viral pandemic, the US State Department quietly released its annual compliance report, describing whether and how the United States and other countries have been abiding by various arms control agreements. The report is sober reading for those hoping that the coronavirus would usher in a new era of international collaboration.

The report made waves for raising “concerns” about China’s adherence to a “zero-yield” nuclear testing standard, as called for by the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Although neither the United States or China has ratified the treaty, both have signed it, and both claim to abide by a nuclear testing moratorium.

US allegations in this regard are nothing new……….

Although US accusations are unlikely to be true, they could give a convenient pretext to officials who want to withdraw the US signature from the treaty, allowing the United States to resume its own nuclear testing. In fact, that may be the entire point. ……..

The treaty bans nuclear explosions, including hydronuclear testing, but it doesn’t prohibit all nuclear experiments. For example, it doesn’t prohibit preparations for nuclear tests, meaning that nuclear-weapon states can continue to maintain and staff their sites, and even place devices in boreholes or tunnels, provided that they don’t set them off. Both Russia and the United States conduct subcritical experiments (weapons-related work not involving an explosive chain reaction) and have been for decades. Since they are not generating yield, they are permissible under the treaty. In its rebuttal of the compliance report, Russia makes clear that it carries out “so-called subcritical tests, which,” it adds, “in no way run counter to our obligations in this area.”………

Why withdrawal would be lose-lose. If the United States is simply looking for a pretext to withdraw its signature so it can resume nuclear testing, that would be a lose-lose proposition.

First, it would give up a constraint on its strategic rivals, without receiving any clear benefits from its newfound freedom of action. While most nuclear weapon states have retained their capabilities to conduct tests by maintaining their tests sites and keeping staff on the books, they would all face different challenges to a resumption.

For China and the Russia, these obstacles can be overcome quickly, due to the nature of their political systems. Their test sites are maintained and appear to be in a state of readiness. For them, the main question would be whether they want to lose their diplomatic advantage by moving first to break the moratorium………

Perhaps the worst consequence of withdrawal, though, is that the United States would give up leverage to prevent future North Koreas from trying to join the nuclear club………..

…..the United States and Russia, if both were parties, could agree to mutual visits falling short of on-site inspections. They could decide on close monitoring of nuclear test sites. They could agree on the notification and monitoring of permitted activities, such as subcritical testing. Because the United States has not ratified, these options are not on the table. But it’s not too late. https://thebulletin.org/2020/05/will-the-trump-administrations-accusations-doom-the-nuclear-test-ban-treaty/

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Antarctic krill threatened by warming waters – climate change’s danger to the marine ecosystem

Climate change threatens Antarctic krill and the sea life that depends on it The Conversation, Devi Veytia, PhD student , University of Tasmania, Stuart Corney, Senior lecturer, University of Tasmania, 19 May 20, 

The Southern Ocean circling Antarctica is one of Earth’s richest marine ecosystems. Its food webs support an abundance of life, from tiny micro-organisms to seals, penguins and several species of whales. But climate change is set to disrupt this delicate balance.

Antarctic krill – finger-sized, swarming crustaceans – might be small but they underpin the Southern Ocean’s food web. Our research published today suggests climate change will cause the ocean habitat supporting krill growth to move south. The habitat will also deteriorate in summer and autumn.
The ramifications will reverberate up the food chain, with implications for other Antarctic animals. This includes humpback whales that feed on krill at the end of their annual migration to the Southern Ocean.

What we found

Antarctic krill are one of the most abundant animal species in the world. About 500 million tonnes of Antarctic krill are estimated to exist in the Southern Ocean.

Antarctic krill play a critical role in the ocean’s food webs. But their survival depends on a delicate balance of food and temperature. Scientists are concerned at how climate change may affect their population and the broader marine ecosystem.

We wanted to project how climate change will affect the Southern Ocean’s krill “growth habitat” – essentially, ocean areas where krill can thrive in high numbers.

Krill growth depends largely on ocean temperature and the abundance of its main food source, phytoplankton (microscopic single-celled plants)………

Krill growth habitat shifted south as suitable ocean temperatures contracted towards the poles. Combined with changes in phytoplankton distribution, growth habitat improved in spring but deteriorated in summer and autumn.

This early end to the growth season could have profound consequences for krill populations. The krill life cycle is synchronised with the Southern Ocean’s dramatic seasonal cycles. Typically this allows krill to both maximise growth and reproduction and store reserves to survive the winter.

A shift in habitat timing could create a mismatch between these two cycles.

For example, female krill need access to plentiful food during the summer in order to spawn. Since larger females produce exponentially more eggs, a decline in summer growth habitat could result in smaller females and far less spawning success.

Why this matters

Krill’s significant role in the food chain means the impacts of these changes may play out through the entire ecosystem.

If krill shift south to follow their retreating habitat, less food would be available for predators on sub-Antarctic islands such as Antarctic fur seals, penguins and albatrosses for whom krill forms a significant portion of the diet.

In the past, years of low krill densities has coincided with declines in reproductive success for these species…….. https://theconversation.com/climate-change-threatens-antarctic-krill-and-the-sea-life-that-depends-on-it-138436

May 19, 2020 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Over 120 local and national organizations urge U.S. Congress to help nuclear frontline communities.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA wants thousands of Hypersonic Missiles, using artificial intelligence

May 19, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Coronavirus likely to put a dint in USA’s nuclear weapons spending

ORDER FROM CHAOS, How COVID-19 might affect US nuclear weapons and planning Brookings Institute, Steven Pifer, May 18, 2020   Editor’s Note:  As it examines the administration’s proposed fiscal year 2021 defense budget, Congress should carefully consider the trade-offs and press the Pentagon to articulate how it weighed the trade-offs between nuclear and conventional forces, writes Steven Pifer. This piece original appeared in the National Interest.

The Department of Defense has begun to ratchet up spending to recapitalize the U.S. strategic nuclear triad and its supporting infrastructure, as several programs move from research and development into the procurement phase.  The projected Pentagon expenditures are at least $167 billion from 2021-2025. This amount does not include the large nuclear warhead sustainment and modernization costs funded by the Department of Energy, projected to cost $81 billion over the next five years.
Nuclear forces require modernization, but that will entail opportunity costs. In a budget environment that offers little prospect of greater defense spending, especially in the COVID19 era, more money for nuclear forces will mean less funding for conventional capabilities. That has potentially negative consequences for the security of the United States and its allies. While nuclear forces provide day-to-day deterrence, the Pentagon leadership spends most of its time thinking about how to employ conventional forces to manage security challenges around the world. The renewed focus on great power competition further elevates the importance of conventional forces. It is important to get the balance between nuclear and conventional forces right, particularly as the most likely path to use of nuclear arms would be an escalation of a conventional conflict. Having robust conventional forces to prevail in or deter a conventional conflict in the first place could avert a nuclear crisis or worse.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND BUDGETS

For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence for its security and that of its allies (whether we should be comfortable with that prospect is another question). Many U.S. nuclear weapons systems are aging, and replacing them will cost money, lots of money. The Pentagon’s five-year plan for its nuclear weapons programs proposes $29 billion in fiscal year 2021, rising to $38 billion in fiscal year 2025, as programs move from research and development to procurement. The plan envisages a total of $167 billion over five years. And that total may be understated; weapons costs increase not just as they move to the procurement phase, but as cost overruns and other issues drive the costs up compared to earlier projections……….

Some look at these figures and the overall defense budget (the Pentagon wants a total of $740 billion for fiscal year 2021) and calculate that the cost of building and operating U.S. nuclear forces will amount to “only” 6-7 percent of the defense budget. That may be true, but how relevant is that figure?

By one estimate, the cost of building and operating the F-35 fighter program for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines over the program’s lifetime will be $1 trillion. Amortized over 50 years, that amounts to $20 billion per year or “only” 2.7 percent of the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2021 budget request. The problem is that these percentages and lots of other “small” percentages add up. When one includes all of the programs, plus personnel and readiness costs as well as everything else that the Pentagon wants, the percentages will total to more than 100 percent of the figure that Congress is prepared to appropriate for defense.

OPPORTUNITY COSTS

The defense budget is unlikely to grow. Opportunity costs represent the things the Pentagon has to give up or forgo in order to fund its nuclear weapons programs. The military services gave an indication of these costs with their “unfunded priorities lists,” which this year total $18 billion. These show what the services would like to buy if they had additional funds, and that includes a lot of conventional weapons…………

These are the opportunity costs of more nuclear weapons: fewer dollars for aircraft, ships, attack submarines and ground combat equipment for conventional deterrence and defense…………..

If the United States and its allies have sufficiently robust conventional forces, they can prevail in a regional conflict at the conventional level and push any decision about first use of nuclear weapons onto the other side (Russia, or perhaps China or North Korea depending on the scenario).The other side would have to weigh carefully the likelihood that its first use of nuclear weapons would trigger a nuclear response, opening the decidedly grim prospect of further nuclear escalation and of things spinning out of control. The other side’s leader might calculate that he/she could control the escalation, but that gamble would come with no guarantee.  It would appear a poor bet given the enormous consequences if things go wrong. Happily, the test has never been run.

This is why the opportunity costs of nuclear weapons programs matter. If those programs strip too much funding from conventional forces, they weaken the ability of the United States and its allies to prevail in a conventional conflict—or to deter that conflict in the first place—and increase the possibility that the United States might have to employ nuclear weapons to avert defeat………

The United States and NATO still retain the option of first use of nuclear weapons. If the U.S. president and NATO leaders were to consider resorting to that option, they then would be the ones to have to consider the dicey bet that the other side would not respond with nuclear arms or that, if it did, nuclear escalation somehow could be controlled.

Assuring NATO allies that the United States was prepared to risk Chicago for Bonn consumed a huge amount of time and fair amount of resources during the Cold War…….

In modernizing, maintaining and operating a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, the United States should avoid underfunding conventional forces in ways that increase the prospect of conventional defeat and/or that might tempt an adversary to launch a conventional attack. If Washington gets the balance wildly out of sync, it increases the possibility that the president might face the decision of whether to use nuclear weapons first—knowing that first use would open a Pandora’s box of incalculable and potentially catastrophic consequences.

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT IN THE COVID19 ERA

This means that the Department of Defense and Congress should take a hard look at

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s F-35’s Nuclear Weapons Upgrade Delayed as Program Costs Top $1.6 Trillion

F-35’s Nuclear Weapons Upgrade Delayed as Program Costs Top $1.6 Trillion

   https://sputniknews.com/military/202005131079296398-f-35s-nuclear-weapons-upgrade-delayed-as-program-costs-top-16-trillion/  13.05.2020  The F-35 Lightning II’s Block 4 upgrade, which will allow the stealth aircraft to carry nuclear weapons, has been delayed by at least nine months. The F-35 is slated to become the primary nuclear strike aircraft for several US allies. Meanwhile, costs for the program have soared above $1.6 trillion.

According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional watchdog agency, the F-35’s planned Block 4 upgrade has been delayed by nine months, pushing the plane’s full-rate production decision back to sometime between September 2020 and March 2021

While Block 4 will integrate a number of new weapons into the F-35’s repertoire, such as Naval Strike Missile, the Meteor and SPEAR missiles and several laser-guided bombs, by far the most consequential weapon is the B61 nuclear gravity bomb, which is small enough to fit inside the F-35’s internal weapons bay.

Via the F-35 Block 4, NATO partners who wield US nuclear weapons thanks to nuclear sharing agreements will be able to continue to carry out nuclear strikes. With the Panavia Tornado exiting service with most European partners, a delay in fielding the F-35 Block 4 could leave a gap in NATO’s nuclear capabilities, especially for the Italian, Dutch and Belgian air forces.

However, the GAO report also notes the enormity of the Block 4 upgrade has driven up costs in the already colossal lifetime budget for the F-35. Noting that in 2019 it projected a baseline increase of $8 billion because of Block 4, the GAO stated in its Tuesday report that the update’s development and procurement costs are now estimated to be $13.9 billion and “that the sustainment costs to operate and maintain the F-35 fleet for its planned 66-year life cycle are $1.2 trillion, bringing the total cost of the F-35 program to over $1.6 trillion.”

“The planned $13.9 billion Block 4 effort exceeds the statutory and regulatory thresholds for what constitutes a major defense acquisition program, and Block 4 is more expensive than many of the other major weapon acquisitions already in DOD’s portfolio,” the GAO further states.
To provide better oversight into Block 4 activities, in 2016, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense hold a milestone B review – a critical point in an acquisition program leading to the engineering and manufacturing development phase – and manage it as a separate major defense acquisition program. DOD did not concur with our recommendation, and it continues to manage Block 4 within the larger F-35 program. We maintain that DOD should manage the Block 4 activities as a separate program.”

The oversight office further advised the Pentagon to continue oversight reports on Block 4 upgrade progress through 2026, even though its budget only provides for updates through 2023.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Move to prevent dumping of Hinkley radioactive mud on the South Wales coast

May 19, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Dismantling of Norway’s nuclear research reactors – up to 25 years, about $billion

Norwegian reactor dismantling to cost almost USD2 billion, WNN , 18 May 2020   The decommissioning of Norway’s shut down research reactors at Halden and Kjeller will cost around NOK20 billion (USD1.96 billion) and take 20-25 years, according to a report commissioned by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The report by Atkins and Oslo Economics mainly confirms assessments from the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) and risk management and quality assurance consultants DNV GL that were made in 2019. It estimates that demolition of facilities and restoration of the areas will cost around NOK7 billion. There will also be costs of around NOK13 billion for the treatment of used fuel and the storage of radioactive waste. However, it notes there is “considerable uncertainty” around these costs…….

“There have been limited reactor operations in Norway, but we have complicated facilities and waste that will cost a lot,” said Minister of Industry Iselin Nybø. “The report shows how costly and lengthy that dismantling can be. The proposed measures will help to make the cleanup as efficient as possible.

“We will clean up to protect ourselves from harmful consequences for people and the environment from the radiation from this past industry,” Nybø added. “The investigation is part of the puzzle that is now being put in place to ensure a safe and effective cleanup. It will be considered thoroughly and planned to be addressed by the government in the autumn of 2020.”

Norway’s two research reactors – the nuclear fuel and materials testing reactor at Halden and the JEEP-II neutron scattering facility at Kjeller – were declared permanently shut down in June 2018 and April 2019, respectively. Their ownership and responsibility for them will move to Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning (NND) from IFE……https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Dismantling-of-Norwegian-reactors-to-cost-almost-U

May 19, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Ministry of Defence’s poor management of contracts for nuclear infrastructure projects

MPs slam MoD’s ‘utter failure’ to improve contract management as nuclear project costs soar

Civil Service World  by Beckie Smith on 18 May 2020 

‘The department knows it can’t go on like this,’ says PAC chair   The Ministry of Defence’s poor management of contracts has left taxpayers picking up the bill after nuclear infrastructure projects have swelled beyond their planned time and budget, a public spending watchdog has found.

The Public Accounts Committee found three nuclear infrastructure projects had together gone £1.45bn over budget and were each between 1.7 and 6.3 years because of problems with their contracts’ design and management.

The committee’s inquiry examined three projects: the building of a nuclear warhead assembly and disassembly facility, known as MENSA, at AWE Burghfield; the Rolls Royce-owned and operated Core Production Capability facilities at Raynesway, where the department is upgrading facilities for nuclear reactor core production; and the BAE Systems-owned Barrow shipyard facility to allow modular build of Dreadnought-class submarines.

The MoD was unable to explain why it had made repeated mistakes designing and managing the contracts – which represent the three biggest nuclear infrastructure projects it is managing – despite being warned about the same issues in the past, PAC said in a report last week.

The MPs said that both PAC and the National Audit Office had been warning of similar contracting mistakes for more than 30 years. The MoD had also “failed to learn lessons from comparable projects in the civil nuclear sector and in the United States”, they added.

The PAC report followed a NAO finding in January that “inherent uncertainties of early designs [in the three contracts] do not incentivise site operators, or their sub-contractors, to negotiate and share risks, increasing risks for the department”.

“It is therefore disappointing to see that in their early days the department made the same mistakes, also experienced by others, as were made more than 30 years ago,” the NAO report said.

The ministry said it “immensely regretted” the waste of money but admitted costs could keep rising because the contracts had left the government to assume financial risk……. https://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/mps-slam-mods-utter-failure-improve-contract-management-nuclear-project-costs-soar

May 19, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Coronavirus: How to prevent a new nuclear arms race – and future pandemics


Coronavirus: How to prevent a new nuclear arms race – and future pandemics,
The National, Gavin Esler, May 18, 2020

Difficult though it may be, the world’s powers should find ways to engage with rogue actors and thereby use investment, otherwise meant for nuclear conflict, to better prepare for global health threats………..now, as we focus on another threat to our lives, our economies and our world – coronavirus – it is curious to compare all these elaborate and expensive preparations for nuclear conflict with the lack of preparation in western countries and in the states of the old Soviet Union for the global pandemic we are now experiencing.

Despite numerous warnings from virologists and epidemiologists that Sars and Mers would eventually be followed by something much worse, the world is still playing catch up on coronavirus.

Perhaps even more surprising, the danger of nuclear war has been forgotten in the public imagination but it has not gone away. The threat to the Gulf region and beyond from Iran’s nuclear programme has not been eliminated. North Korea has not abandoned its own extremely provocative missile programme. And figures released in the past few days have shown continuing reinvestment round the world in nuclear arsenals.

In 2019, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) the nine countries with nuclear weapons spent a total of $72.9 billion on those weapons, a 10 per cent increase on 2018. Of that sum, around half – $35.4bn – was spent by the Trump administration.

ICAN, as its name suggests, wants nuclear weapons to be banned. It points out that so much money that could be spent on making the world healthier – and preparing for the certainty of future pandemics – is being spent on the unlikelihood of a nuclear conflict.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment