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Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back.

weaponizing space could become a classic case of trying to solve one problem while creating a much worse problem.

It’s time for arms control planning to address the issues raised by this drift toward militarization of space. Space is a place where billions of defense dollars can evaporate quickly and result in more threats about which to be concerned. China and Russia have been proposing mechanisms for space arms control at the United Nations for years; it’s time for the U.S. to cooperate in this effort. 

Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back. 

The US should negotiate a ban on basing weapons in space, BY JOHN FAIRLAMB,  — 02/04/21,

The Biden administration is assembling a deep bench of personnel with experience negotiating arms control agreements and already has agreed with Russia to extend the New Start Treaty. It’s clear the administration intends to initiate another look at the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and the massive buildup in nuclear weapons begun by the Trump administration. While it’s good that the Biden administration intends to resume negotiations to continue nuclear force reductions, the specter of placing weapons in space is another area that requires a serious arms control effort.

Now that separate space organizations have been established, major military commands are advocating to develop new capabilities. Pentagon buzzwords characterize space as a “contested domain” and some consider actual war-fighting in space to be inevitable. Some advocates argue that the U.S. should strive for technological superiority in space to ensure our dominance of that critical domain. 

The history of technological advancement in weapons systems shows that any advantage gained usually lasts fewer than five years and guarantees a cycle of ever-increasing cost and new perceptions of threat. Already, there are weapons that can be targeted against space-based assets from non-space domains. Russia and China are believed to have deployed ground-based capabilities to attack satellites, and India joined this club last year by using a ground-based missile to bring down a satellite.  

Although it isn’t clear how the Biden administration will shape space policy, during his confirmation hearing, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin seemed to signal a shift away from a more muscular approach and back to a focus on space resiliency and protecting U.S. space assets. As one analyst concluded, the language Austin used signals the Biden team wants to “start to lean away from … the pugilistic aspects of what’s been articulated [by the Trump administration].” Responding to a question about what his advice would be to the U.S. Space Command concerning military space operations, Austin stressed measures to protect U.S. assets that don’t include offensive options for taking the fight to adversaries. While not a fully articulated space policy, this is a welcome change of tone after the past few years of heavy breathing about waging war in space.

If the U.S. and other nations continue the current drift toward organizing and equipping to wage war in space, Russia, China and others will strive to improve capabilities to destroy U.S. space assets. Over time, this would greatly increase the threat to the full array of U.S. space-based capabilities. Intelligence, communications, surveillance, targeting and navigation assets already based in space, upon which the Department of Defense (DOD) depends for command and control of military operations, increasingly would be at significant risk. As a consequence, weaponizing space could become a classic case of trying to solve one problem while creating a much worse problem.

For example, buried in the DOD 2020 budget is $150 million for research into putting missile defense assets in space to attack enemy nuclear missiles in the boost phase. If the U.S. or another nation does deploy weapons in space, it would be the first country to do so and likely would be a disaster for strategic stability. To ensure the credibility of their nuclear deterrents, Russia, China and others could be expected to respond by deploying additional and new types of long-range ballistic missiles, as well as missiles employing non-ballistic trajectories that are harder to hit.  Russia and China also would strive to improve their ability to destroy U.S. space-based interceptors, which would greatly increase the threat to the full array of U.S. space assets.

It’s time for arms control planning to address the issues raised by this drift toward militarization of space. Space is a place where billions of defense dollars can evaporate quickly and result in more threats about which to be concerned. China and Russia have been proposing mechanisms for space arms control at the United Nations for years; it’s time for the U.S. to cooperate in this effort. 

In 2015, Frank Rose, assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance in the State Department, called for arms control in space at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum workshop on space security. But, he said the Obama administration opposed a 2008 Russian and Chinese proposal to ban all weapons in space because it was unverifiable, contained no prohibition on developing and stockpiling space arms, and did not address ground-based space weapons such as direct ascent anti-satellite missiles.

Instead of just criticizing others’ proposals, the U.S. should join in the effort and do the hard work of crafting a space arms control agreement that deals with the concerns we have and that can be verified. A legally binding international treaty banning the basing of weapons in space should be the objective. 

Let’s be clear: Deploying weapons in space crosses a threshold that cannot be walked back.  Given the implications for strategic stability, and the likelihood that such a decision by any nation would set off an expensive space arms race in which any advantage gained would likely be temporary, engaging now to prevent such a debacle seems warranted.    

John Fairlamb, Ph.D., is a retired Army colonel with 45 years of government service, much of it in joint service positions formulating and implementing national security strategies and policies, including  two four-year details in the Department of State and as the political-military affairs adviser for a major Army command. His doctorate is in comparative defense policy analysis.  


February 5, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

At last, UK government will investigate birth defects amongst children of nuclear test veterans

Mirror 3rd Feb 2021, Thousands of sick children and adults have finally been offered government research into whether their DNA was damaged by Cold War nuclear bomb tests.

An estimated 155,000 descendants of National Servicemen who took part in atomic weapons tests in the 1950s now report 10 times the normal rate birth defects, and are five times more likely to die as infants. Now Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer has promised to consider thorough research into whether they suffer a genetic legacy from Britain’s radiation

February 5, 2021 Posted by | children, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Africa’s new nuclear power plan would be a costly mistake


February 5, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

NextEra Energy wants to avoid shutdown costs, extend license for old Point Beach Nuclear Plant.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, safety | Leave a comment

Research into radiocesium in forests after the Fukushima disaster: Concerns and some hope

Dynamics of radiocesium in forests after the Fukushima disaster: Concerns and some hope
Scientists compile available data and analyses on the flow of radionuclides to gain a more holistic understanding, 

Research News After the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP) disaster was the second worst nuclear incident in history. Its consequences were tremendous for the Japanese people and now, almost a decade later, they can still be felt both there and in the rest of the world. One of the main consequences of the event    is the release of large amounts of cesium-137 (137Cs)–a radioactive “isotope” of cesium–into the atmosphere, which spread farther away from the power plant through wind and rainfall.

Considering the massive threat posed by 137Cs to the health of both humans and ecosystems, it is essential to understand how it has distributed and how much of it still lingers. This is why the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently published a technical document on this specific issue. The fifth chapter of this “Technical Document (TECDOC),” titled “Forest ecosystems,” contains an extensive review and analysis of existing data on 137Cs levels in Fukushima prefecture’s forests following the FDNPP disaster.

The chapter is based on an extensive study led by Assoc. Prof. Shoji Hashimoto from the Forestry and Forestry Products Research Institute, Japan, alongside Dr. Hiroaki Kato from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, Kazuya Nishina from the National Institute of Environmental Studies, Japan, Keiko Tagami from the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan, George Shaw from the University of Nottingham, UK, and Yves Thiry from the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (ANDRA), France, and several other experts in Japan and Europe.

The main objective of the researchers was to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of 137Cs flow in forests. The process is far from straightforward, as there are multiple elements and variables to consider. First, a portion of 137Cs-containing rainfall is intercepted by trees, some of which is absorbed, and the rest eventually washes down onto the forest floor. There, a fraction of the radiocesium absorbs into forest litter and the remainder flows into the various soil and mineral layers below. Finally, trees, other plants, and mushrooms incorporate 137Cs through their roots and mycelia, respectively, ultimately making it both into edible products harvested from Fukushima and wild animals.

Considering the complexity of 137Cs flux dynamics, a huge number of field surveys and gatherings of varied data had to be conducted, as well as subsequent theoretical and statistical analyses. Fortunately, the response from the government and academia was considerably faster and more thorough after the FDNPP disaster than in the Chernobyl disaster, as Hashimoto explains: “After the Chernobyl accidents, studies were very limited due to the scarce information provided by the Soviet Union. In contrast, the timely studies in Fukushima have allowed us to capture the early phases of 137Cs flow dynamics; this allowed us to provide the first wholistic understanding of this process in forests in Fukushima.”

Understanding how long radionuclides like 137Cs can remain in ecosystems and how far they can spread is essential to implement policies to protect people from radiation in Fukushima-sourced food and wood. In addition, the article also explores the effectiveness of using potassium-containing fertilizers to prevent the uptake of 137Cs in plants. “The compilation of data, parameters, and analyses we present in our chapter will be helpful for forest remediation both in Japan and the rest of the world,” remarks Hashimoto.

When preventive measures fail, the only remaining option is trying to fix the damage done–in the case of radiation control, this is only possible with a comprehensive understanding of the interplay of factors involved.

In this manner, this new chapter will hopefully lead to both timely research and more effective solutions should a nuclear disaster happen again.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

UK’s Infrastructure Planning Inspectorate recommends against development of Wyfa nuclear project

Planning Inspectorate 4th Feb 2021, Following the recent withdrawal of the application, and in the interests of openness and transparency, we have taken the decision to publish the
Examining Authority’s Recommendation Report. In the light of the ExA’s
findings and conclusions, the ExA under s105 of the PA2008 recommends the
Secretary of State for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy does
not grant the Wylfa Newydd Project Development Consent Order.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Cuba signs up to another nuclear disarmament treaty

February 5, 2021 Posted by | SOUTH AMERICA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Two Ohio state Republican Senators aim to remove subsidies to nuclear power plants

NEO Senators Introduce Bill to Remove Nuclear Power Plant Subsidies from HB6. WKSU | By Jay Shah, February 5, 2021 A new bill introduced by two Republican state senators aims to remove the part of House Bill 6 that provides subsidies to two nuclear power plants owned by Energy Harbor, formerly FirstEnergy Solutions.

State Senators Jerry Cirino of Kirtland and Michael Rulli of Salem have introduced Senate Bill 44. Cirino says it does not repeal or replace House Bill 6. It just removes the subsidy provision, which he says will lower electric bills.

“We are eliminating, in the bill, $130 million plus per year that if HB6 was left intact, would be going to the nuclear facilities,” Cirino said. “So we’re taking that away and they’re on their own to figure out how to operate better and what they can do with the federal government.”

PJM Interconnection is a Regional Transmission Organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity across 13 states including District of Columbia and Ohio.

They are offering pricing support to energy operators, but Cirino says it would be difficult for PJM to provide this support to operators accepting these subsidies.
Cirino says he supports nuclear power and says the plants will remain open with federal support that can help them continue to operate without the subsidy.
The Senate Energy Committee will have hearings about Senate Bill 44 beginning next week.

Read the bill as proposed:…………


February 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

ICAN urges all countries to sign the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Nuclear Weapons control urged Helen Loing, Princeton , 5 Feb 21,

On January 22, 2021, the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) became international law. More than 50 nations have already ratified this treaty, but the U.S. has not. It is my strong feeling that the new administration should make nuclear arms control and non-proliferation top priorities.

I would urge you to contact your congressional representative, Tom Emmer (202-225-2331) or Pete Stauber (202-225-6211), and our two senators, Amy Klobuchar (202-224-3244) and Tina Smith (202-224-5641), to sign the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons pledge (ICAN) to work for the ratification of the TPNW in the U.S.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons was the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and is urging all lawmakers, in all countries, to support it. I hope you will, too.


February 5, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

America’s new strategy for space nuclear power pays little consideration to safety aspects

America’s New Strategy for Space Nuclear Power, By Zhanna Malekos Smith.  Wednesday, February 3, 2021 

Among the flurry of executive orders and proclamations signed during his final weeks in office, President Trump issued two directives that have received little fanfare—about space. One directive concerns enhancing the cybersecurity of GPS satellites. The other is perhaps more exciting: It focuses on exploring Mars and the moon.

Since the late 1960s, the United States has leveraged nuclear energy technology to help power spacecraft. Recent examples include the ongoing New Horizons mission, the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Voyager 1 mission to reach interstellar space for the first time in history. These missions used radioisotope power systems—nuclear energy technology that converts heat into energy by harnessing the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238.
On Dec. 16, 2020, Trump established a national strategy for enhancing space nuclear power. Space Policy Directive-6 prioritizes developing more advanced radioisotope power systems capabilities and nuclear propulsion systems to support robotic and human exploration of Mars and the moon. Stretching across the solar system from Mercury to Neptune, the United States was the first state to reach every planet with a space probe and complete a reconnaissance study of the dwarf planet Pluto. Now, the United States is poised to become the first state to launch a space nuclear propulsion system under Space Policy Directive-6. According to the Trump White House’s directive, although “no space nuclear propulsion systems have been launched to-date,” these systems are necessary for space exploration because they will shorten travel time to Mars. But while the directive’s goal of space exploration is admirable, it gives too little attention to crucial safety considerations. …..
………. ….. Under this new policy, the United States could become the first state to launch a space nuclear propulsion system. As written, however, Space Policy Directive-6 provides greater guidance on leveraging advanced nuclear power systems to explore Mars than it does on promulgating security principles for criticality accident planning and launch safety.   

Criticality assessment—that is, evaluating each system function for potential points of failure and evaluating how to minimize loss of life or damage to the system in the event of an accident —is essential for many reasons. For example, it could help quickly determine a course of action if a nuclear-powered satellite were to malfunction and accidentally reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, contaminating Earth surfaces with radiation. But despite these concerns about accidental reentry from Earth orbit or during an Earth flyby, the directive is surprisingly silent on criticality assessment standards; instead, it briefly mentions that a “highly reliable operational system” is needed for spacecraft operating fission reactors in low-Earth orbits. Likewise, although the directive states that any sponsoring agency of space nuclear power and propulsion programs will hold the “primary responsibility for safety,” it fails to define the baseline safety standards for the operation and disposition of these advanced systems.
………….  if the U.S. cuts any safety corners for the operation and disposition of these advanced systems, other states may view that approach as something to emulate. As noted in the Department of Defense’s 2020 Defense Space Strategy, communicating with allies and other partners is necessary for ensuring space stability. ……
At the time of this writing, the Biden administration has not addressed the issue of space nuclear power. According to Breaking Defense, space policy “isn’t expected to have a high profile in the administration of incoming President Joe Biden, given the pandemic, the flailing economy, the climate crisis and a number of foreign policy challenges[.]” Even so, Lloyd J. Austin III testified, at his confirmation hearing to serve as secretary of defense, that “[i]f confirmed, I will ensure the space domain is carefully considered across the range of upcoming strategic reviews.”
………  To advance America’s strategic leadership in space, the new administration should ensure that these laudable space goals are pursued in equal measure with safely harnessing advanced nuclear power systems.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | safety, space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Pandemic causes Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine replacement to be delayed by another year

Trident nuclear submarine replacement delayed by another year
Announcement raises new questions as to whether UK’s current ageing fleet can be relied on, 
Guardian, Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor. Fri 5 Feb 2021 

Britain’s £31bn replacement for its ageing Trident nuclear submarines has been delayed by another year owing the pandemic, raising fresh questions about whether the UK can rely on the existing fleet.

Official documents released at the end of last year quietly confirmed that the current phase of the Dreadnought programme had been put back to March 2022, although the update was not highlighted and it was only spotted by a pressure group.

An SNP member of the defence select committee has now called for it to hold an inquiry into the Trident replacement programme, complaining about a lack of transparency.

An annual update on nuclear replacement, released to MPs before Christmas, said that “recognising the high levels of uncertainty caused by the pandemic” and its impact on supply chains, “delivery phase 2 will continue until March 2022”.

It did not say that this amounted to a one-year delay to the sprawling programme. This was spotted by David Cullen, of the Nuclear Information Service, who recalled a promise made a year earlier to conclude the work in March 2021.

“Covid is going to be with us for a while, and nobody will be surprised if there are other delays to Dreadnought,” Cullen said, arguing that the relative secrecy suggested “this isn’t the behaviour of a department that is confident it can deliver on its promises”.

The Dreadnought programme, first approved by Labour in 2007, has been repeatedly delayed by governments since. The first submarine was initially due to come into service in 2024, then 2028, and now the “early 2030s”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says……….

Britain prefers to shroud its nuclear programme in secrecy, but there have been accidents in the past. In 1998 HMS Vanguard, carrying 96 nuclear warheads and 135 crew, plunged into a deep dive following a power failure between Cornwall and the south of Ireland. The crew only managed to regain control through a backup power system.

In February 2009, Vanguard collided with a French nuclear submarine, Le Triomphant, in a freak accident in the Atlantic. Details were initially hushed up, before it was leaked to a newspaper. Fortunately the accident happened at a relatively low speed. Ministers were told that at the time that nuclear safety had not been compromised.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, an SNP member of the defence select committee, said: “It is simply unacceptable that we need to parse UK government statements for half phrases and words which the MoD could be using to cover its own backside.” He said he would be writing to the chair of the committee to demand an inquiry……

February 5, 2021 Posted by | health, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Economics’ failure over destruction of nature presents ‘extreme risks’

Economics’ failure over destruction of nature presents ‘extreme risks’

New measures of success needed to avoid catastrophic breakdown, landmark review finds

Guardian 2nd Feb 2021. The world is being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world and needs to find new measures of success to avoid a catastrophic breakdown, a landmark review has concluded.

Prosperity was coming at a “devastating cost” to the ecosystems that provide humanity with food, water and clean air, said Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Cambridge University economist who conducted the review. Radical global changes to production, consumption, finance and
education were urgently needed, he said.
The 600-page review was commissioned by the UK Treasury, the first time a national finance ministry has authorised a full assessment of the economic importance of nature. A
similar Treasury-sponsored review in 2006 by Nicholas Stern is credited with transforming economic understanding of the climate crisis.
The review said that two UN conferences this year – on biodiversity and climate
change – provided opportunities for the international community to rethink an approach that has seen a 40% plunge in the stocks of natural capital per head between 1992 and 2014.

February 5, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, environment | Leave a comment

Unprecedented number of France’s nuclear reactors to go offline, and strikes continue.

French nuclear retreats from 12-month high amid early start to 2021 maintenance, S and P Global, AuthorAndreas Franke , EditorAndreas Franke London 5 Feb 21, — French nuclear generation availability is trending lower with three reactors scheduled to come offline for maintenance Feb. 6, market data showed Feb. 5.

From Feb. 6, six French reactors will have started 2021 maintenance, with five more to come this month, an unprecedented 11 reactors starting maintenance before March.

Reactors set for 10-year overhauls in 2021…………

S&P Global Platts Analytics assumes February output to average around 46 GW, a new record low for that month, before recovering above last year’s monthly averages………

wo strikes, an incident at Paluel and a return to milder and at times windy weather affected nuclear output in the second half of January.

Strikes continue

Another 24-hour strike was scheduled to start Feb. 9 at 2000 GMT, EDF said on its transparency website Feb. 4.

EDF workers are protesting against planned restructuring of the French state-owned utility, splitting nuclear and other operations.

Ongoing discussions with the European Commission about the details of the planned reform of the ARENH price mechanism have delayed a first presentation of those plans envisaged in January.

EDF currently has to sell 100 TWh of nuclear generation at Eur42/MWh to domestic suppliers.

The reform aims to lift prices as well as volumes……….

February 5, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

Nuclear Care Partners is helping former Pantex workers

Nuclear Care Partners is helping former Pantex workers  Feb 4, 2021

February 5, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New Iran envoy shows Biden is serious about reviving nuclear deal

February 5, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment