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U.S. nuclear lobby wants to sell advanced nuclear technology to China, on the spurious claims of ”safety” and ”advancing climate action”

Nuclear Advocates Urge Biden, Congress To Reverse Trump Policy, Open China To U.S. Nuclear, Forbes, Dipka Bhambhani 9 July 21

A growing chorus of nuclear energy stakeholders is asking the Biden administration and Congress to reverse course and open up the Chinese market to U.S. nuclear energy companies in the name of safety and climate change.

At issue: a pair of Senate and House bills—S. 1260, the Endless Frontiers Act, and H.R. 3524, Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act—both of which effectively end bilateral cooperation with China on civil nuclear projects.

China’s unique policy allows it to share nuclear technology between its civil and military sector

A growing chorus of nuclear energy stakeholders is asking the Biden administration and Congress to reverse course and open up the Chinese market to U.S. nuclear energy companies in the name of safety and climate change.

President Biden is continuing former President Trump’s 2018 nuclear energy policy restricting U.S. nuclear energy companies from exporting to, or developing nuclear energy technology with, China.

Some say restricting American nuclear energy companies from the Chinese market threatens global nuclear energy safety, undermines global climate change efforts to reduce emissions worldwide, and reflects an incongruent trade policy.

Meanwhile Congress is preparing to codify that Trump policy.

In a memo obtained by Forbes, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) told stakeholders, “Growing anti-China sentiment in Congress has put U.S.-China nuclear cooperation in increasing jeopardy. Cutting off cooperation is of great concern to the entire U.S. nuclear industry because of the potential harm to global nuclear safety cooperation and the U.S. supply base.”

NEI predominately represents U.S. nuclear power plant owners and operators but its membership also includes reactor developers and other companies across the supply chain, universities, research labs, law firms, labor unions and international electric utilities.

At issue: a pair of Senate and House bills—S. 1260, the Endless Frontiers Act, and H.R. 3524, Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act—both of which effectively end bilateral cooperation with China on civil nuclear projects.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee could advance H.R. 3524 as early as this month, which could include more restrictive measures in the form of amendments.

At stake: a global nuclear construction marketplace expected to be $5 trillion by 2050.

ANS represents more than 10,000 professionals in nuclear science and technology.

Piercy said locking U.S. companies out of the Chinese market threatens operational safety of nuclear power plants in China and those built by China around the world. And it reduces U.S. influence.

“We want to make sure that we have the ability to influence international safety norms and understand what is happening in global markets,” Piercy told Forbes.

The global Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty already allows the U.S. nuclear energy industry to work freely to share its technology. Though China’s unique policy allows it to share nuclear technology between its civil and military sector, there is a way to protect U.S. commercial interests, Piercy said.

“Can we conduct commerce without giving away the U.S. crown jewels in this area?” Piercy said. “The answer is yes. We do not have to pick up our ball and go home because we’re afraid that we’re going to get taken.”

Intellectual property protection, keeping U.S. technology from being copied unfairly, are all possible while working in and with China, he said.

According to a recent Forbes article on nuclear energy, 96 nuclear reactors have been connected to the grid in 13 countries over the past 20 years. Of these, 45 were constructed in China.

The U.S. has an opportunity “to steer the way the global renaissance unfolds,” Piercy said. “It’s going to happen, whether the U.S. participates in it or not.”

According to the U.S.-China Business Council, a nonprofit nonpartisan group that represents 200 companies that do business with China, sales of nuclear energy technology have totaled about $170 million before 2018, a number they said was “not significant,” when then-President Trump restricted newer U.S. nuclear technology from export. Technology export is now limited to replacement parts for older reactors. But China needs smaller reactors that can float or power ships, the group said.

For new technology export, American companies could request a waiver from the U.S. Commerce Department, but there is a presumption of denial, so no U.S. nuclear energy companies, including Bill Gates’ TerraPower, were allowed into the Chinese market.

TerraPower, which had announced in 2017 it would build a test reactor south of Beijing with China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC), had to pivot once Trump announced his policy.

Sources close to the deal say Gates was furious and petitioned DOE. There was some consolation for the company.

Forbes reported in December that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million to build advanced reactors that could be used in the U.S. and overseas.

Trump’s then Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, Dr. Rita Baranwal, also awarded TerraPower and GE-Hitachi $80 million to demonstrate their unique Natrium reactors, sodium-cooled fast reactors, in Wyoming in a partnership with PacifiCorp, in lieu of its deal with Beijing’s CNNC.

The funding came from DOE’s $230 million Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program which Baranwal launched last Fall………………….

Biden is continuing to allow the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to grant loans for nuclear power projects abroad, another Trump administration policy to expand the use of U.S. nuclear technology in the developing world.

And that declaration that climate change is a matter of national security invites the Defense Department, the intelligence community, and others into the conversation, said Retired Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, CEO of Allied Nuclear and its parent IP3.

“It opens up the aperture to the conversation of nuclear power through the lens of climate change and national security that was missing before,” Hewitt said.

Allied Nuclear is a U.S.-based global nuclear energy adviser, a start-up that helps foreign governments procure nuclear technology from American and commercially driven international companies, tailors financing and helps countries start nuclear energy programs……..

Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told NEI in June at its Nuclear Energy Assembly that nuclear energy must be used to meet U.S. climate goals. She asked the President for $1.85 billion in his Fiscal 2022 budget for nuclear energy, a 23% increase over the previous year.

While Granholm told World Nuclear News that nuclear is essential for the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions 52% by the end of 2030, she fell short of addressing how U.S. nuclear technology could help the rest of the world do so……………..

Not everyone is in agreement on how open China should be to U.S. companies……… https://www.forbes.com/sites/dipkabhambhani/2021/07/09/nuclear-advocates-urge-biden-congress-to-reverse-trump-policy-open-china-to-us-nuclear/?sh=370a04c02bc4,

July 10, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Energy Will Not Be the Solution to Climate Change – not enough time, even if it were effective.

Nuclear Energy Will Not Be the Solution to Climate Change

There Is Not Enough Time for Nuclear Innovation to Save the Planet 
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-07-08/nuclear-energy-will-not-be-solution-climate-change?fbclid=IwAR1LI64yKHqz72O4z7eQXrSiZF64Bsmkm3tZhkiJHZQkB5M_J3H5Mhx9CqA By Allison Macfarlane, July 8, 2021 

For all these reasons, nuclear energy cannot be a near- or perhaps even medium-term silver bullet for climate change. Given how many economic, technical, and logistical hurdles stand in the way of building safer, more efficient, and cost-competitive reactors, nuclear energy will not be able to replace other forms of power generation quickly enough to achieve the levels of emission reduction necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

 The world is almost out of time with respect to decarbonizing the energy sector. Doing so, experts agree, is essential to forestalling some of the most alarming consequences of climate change, including rising sea levels, droughts, fires, extreme weather events, ocean acidification, and the like. These threats have helped generate fresh interest in the potential for nuclear power—and, more specifically, innovative nuclear reactor designs—to allow people to rely less on carbon-spewing electricity sources such as coal, natural gas, and oil. In recent years, advanced nuclear designs have been the focus of intensive interest and support from both private investors such as Bill Gates—who founded TerraPower, a nuclear reactor design company, in 2006—and national governments, including that of the United States.Advocates hope that this renewed focus on nuclear energy will yield technological progress and lower costs.

But when it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late. Put simply, given the economic trends in existing plants and those under construction, nuclear power cannot positively impact climate change in the next ten years or more. Given the long lead times to develop engineered, full-scale prototypes of new advanced designs and the time required to build a manufacturing base and a customer base to make nuclear power more economically competitive, it is unlikely that nuclear power will begin to significantly reduce our carbon energy footprint even in 20 years—in the United States and globally. No country has developed this technology to a point where it can and will be widely and successfully deployed.

STRUGGLING FOR VIABILITY

Nuclear power currently provides the United States with about 20 percent of its electricity, but the industry has struggled for decades to remain economically viable. When New York’s Indian Point power plant shut down its last nuclear reactor on April 30 this year, it was the 12th such closure since 2013. At least seven more U.S. reactors are slated to close by 2025. 

An October 2020 analysis by Lazard showed that in the United States, capital costs for nuclear power are higher than for almost any other energy-generating technology.

There are multiple efforts underway to make nuclear reactors more efficient and, ultimately, more competitive with other forms of energy production that can cut down on carbon emissions. Each of these designs faces its own set of logistical and regulatory hurdles, however.

The power reactors currently in operation or under construction in the United States, France, Japan, and a number of other countries are all variations on the light-water reactor, a plant that is powered by low-enriched uranium fuel and cooled and “moderated” by water. (“Moderation” reduces the energy of neutrons released in a fission reaction to improve the likelihood of causing further fission in uranium fuel.) Canada operates reactors that use slightly enriched uranium fuel and are cooled and moderated by heavy water, which contains deuterium, a type of hydrogen isotope. The United Kingdom operates a single light-water reactor, as well as some gas-cooled reactors. These types of reactors are all large, capable of generating between 600 and 1,200 megawatts of electricity. 

New reactor makers propose to make reactors smaller and to use different types of fuels, coolants, and moderators. One of these new designs, the NuScale reactor—a small, light-water reactor that is capable of generating 77 megawatts of electricity and emphasizes passive safety features—is in the midst of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The first customer for the NuScale design is Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, which has plans to begin operating a plant in Idaho by 2027. The U.S. Department of Energy has backed this project with a $1.355 billion award.

NuScale has shown that it is possible for vendors of innovative new reactor designs to engage in the licensing process. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose approval of new designs carries considerable weight in other countries, is working on a new regulation to license some of the more exotic designs.

NuScale is further along in the approval process than other, more unconventional reactor designs, such as the sodium-cooled fast reactor. This is the holy grail of nuclear power—a design that creates more fuel than it uses. Eight countries have built multiple versions of this type of reactor over the last six decades at a cost of over $100 billion, but none have proven reliable enough to produce electricity competitively.

Nonetheless, the Department of Energy has decided on this design for its Versatile Test Reactor, to be constructed at the Idaho National Laboratory in conjunction with GE Hitachi and TerraPower. The Versatile Test Reactor, estimated to cost between $3 billion and $6 billion, is slated to start testing fuels by 2026.

Other startup vendors are also considering two other designs. The first is for molten salt reactors, only a few of which have ever operated. These use either fluoride or chloride salts, often mixed with lithium or beryllium. More promising are high-temperature gas reactors that use helium as a coolant and graphite, rather than water, as a moderator. The United States built and operated two of these power reactors between the 1960s and the 1980s. China, Germany, and Japan have all built and operated test versions of high-temperature gas reactors.

Another major challenge is that these new reactors must also use new fuels, which must be licensed as well as produced, managed during use, and stored and disposed of when spent. Some new reactor designs depend on the use of fuels that require higher enrichments of uranium—material that the United States currently has little capability to produce. The higher enriched fuels have set off concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation and would require international safeguards. 

Even if these tricky fueling problems could be solved, unconventional reactor designs also face formidable construction challenges. Many of the new advanced designs rely on the availability of adequate sites and efficient construction to achieve profitability. But the nuclear industry has been plagued by long construction times and cost overruns. Since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, the construction time to build most reactors in the United States has surpassed 10 years. Meanwhile, costs have skyrocketed. The Vogtle plant in Georgia is the only new build of reactors in the United States. The plant’s two reactors were initially priced at $14 billion and expected to start in 2016 and 2017 after five years of construction. Instead, construction is still ongoing and the plants may not start until 2022 at a final cost of $25 billion.

And the recent new build experience in Europe is similar: the French EPR reactor design has experienced multiple delays and large cost overruns in both France and Finland. These megaprojects face challenges in program management and quality control and regulatory issues that result in lengthy delays.

The United States is hardly an outlier in this regard. Nuclear reactors worldwide are aging and, for the most part, are not being replaced as they are shut down. In 2019, for instance, six reactors started operations and 13 units were shut down. The average age of the world’s 408 operating reactors in 2020 was 31 years, with 81 of them over the age of 41 years.

NO SILVER BULLET

For all these reasons, nuclear energy cannot be a near- or perhaps even medium-term silver bullet for climate change. Given how many economic, technical, and logistical hurdles stand in the way of building safer, more efficient, and cost-competitive reactors, nuclear energy will not be able to replace other forms of power generation quickly enough to achieve the levels of emission reduction necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Innovations in reactor designs and nuclear fuels are still worthy of significant research and government support. Despite its limitations, nuclear power still has some potential to reduce carbon emissions—and that is a good thing. But rather than placing unfounded faith in the ability of nuclear power to save the planet, we need to focus on the real threat: the changing climate. And we need strong government support of noncarbon-emitting energy technologies that are ready to be deployed today, not ten or 20 years from now, because we have run out of time. We cannot wait a minute longer.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The nuclear rort in Georgia. Consumers may end up paying for billions of dollars in cost overruns on the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion.

Nuclear cost overrun could mean billions in extra Georgia Power profit,  By Matt Kempner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9 July 21, The more utility spends, the more it can earn; consumers pay price.

Consumers may end up paying for billions of dollars in cost overruns on the Plant Vogtle nuclearexpansion.

But for Georgia Power and its parent Southern Co., the extra costs could represent a huge financial windfall: billions of dollars in extra profit.

That’s because the electric utility’s profit from the sprawling project is tied largely to how much it spends, not whether it stays within budget.

The tab for 2.6 million Georgia Power customers — and the profit for Southern and its shareholders — could start becoming clearer this fall, when elected state regulators hold hearings to determine how much of Vogtle’s initial construction expenses can be added to electric bills for the first time.

By state law, Georgia Power can charge its customers for reimbursement of “prudent and reasonable” capital costs, such as from building a new plant, and for profit set as a percentage of those expenses. The higher the allowed costs, the greater the profit.

The Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates the electric monopoly, could rule that many of Vogtle’s cost overruns weren’t prudent or reasonable, sharply limiting increases in consumer bills and reducing Georgia Power’s total profits.

But so far there are no indications that will happen, at least not in the long term.

Stock analysts, bond-rating agencies and the company’s own executives cite the risk, but they also often praise regulators’ “constructive” relationship with Georgia Power. In late 2019, the PSC agreed to let Georgia Power collect one of the highest rates of return among its peers around the nation.

“Their decisions, for lack of a better term, have been protective of or supported investments of Georgia Power,” saidJeff Cassella, a senior credit officer for bond-rating firm Moody’s Investors Service. He said he’s seen no indication the PSC will deny Vogtle costs.

Vogtle basics

Project: Build two new nuclear reactors near two existing reactors at Plant Vogtle south of Augusta, near the South Carolina line.

Owners: Georgia Power (45.7%), Oglethorpe Power (30%, represents electric membership cooperatives), the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7%, represents city utilities), Dalton Utilities (1.6%).

Benefits: Expected to provide a reliable, stable power supply for at least 60 years….

Downsides: Beyond concerns such as toxic nuclear waste, the all-in-cost of the new electricity is projected to be higher than that from competing forms of electricity generation, according to state staffers.

Costs: Georgia Power’s portion of the total project cost was slated to be $6.1 billion. So far, it’s increased to $11.1 billion.

How Georgia Power’s portion of the project will be paid for: The company’s customers are already paying a fee in monthly bills for a portion of Vogtle financing costs and company profits on the project. It’s estimated that average residential Georgia Power customer will have paid over $850 in such fees before the project is completed. Then their bills are expected to rise higher to cover all “prudent” and “reasonable” construction costs and company profits that rise with those costs.

Who decides what costs are prudent and reasonable: The five elected members of the Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates Georgia Power, a territorial monopoly that is part of Southern Company.

Had Georgia Power met its original budget and schedule, it would have made $7.4 billion in profits on the project, according to testimony of state independent monitors and PSC staff. But because costs have soared by billions of dollars, those profits could rise to $12.6 billion over the decades-long life of the two new reactors under construction, they testified in 2017.

Costs at Vogtle have continued to climb since 2017. As a result, profits could rise higher, too……………..

Vogtle’s expansion, meanwhile, has been riddled with problems and delays since the PSC approved the project in 2009. The company negotiated a contractor deal with Westinghouse to insulate the utility and customers from some of the worst of the possible overruns, but that was negated after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection.

Georgia Power’s share of the initial estimated total project cost, $6.1 billion, has ballooned to $11.1 billion at the latest estimate.

The reactors were supposed to go into operation in 2016 and 2017, but the timetable has been repeatedly extended. Now, Georgia Power predicts the first unit will be finished in the first quarter of next year. A monitor for the state, though, says the earliest would be the summer of 2022, followed by the second reactor a year later, at best. And he cautioned that constructioncosts for Georgia Power and its partners could rise another $2 billion…………

Vogtle was set up for streamlined U.S. regulatory approvals, billions of dollars in federal loan guarantees and dibs on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits. Georgia’s legislators and then-Gov. Sonny Perdue allowed the company to collect financing costs and some profits years before any electricity was produced.

As a result, the average Georgia Power residential customer will have paid $854toward the project before it goes into operation. That doesn’t include the actual costs of construction, which keep growing.

Echols, the PSC’s vice chairman, said in an email that the enactment of short-term profit reductions shows the regulator is holding the company accountable and “sends a painful and embarrassing message to Georgia Power.”

Those cuts essentially last until the first new reactor goes into operation. Then profit rates can rise back up for what could be decades to come, dwarfing the initial penalties………

Georgia isn’t alone in allowing regulated utilities to potentially profit on project overruns. A number of other states in the Southeast operate under a similar framework, according to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners………. https://www.ajc.com/news/business/nuclear-cost-overrun-could-mean-billions-in-extra-georgia-power-profit/YIA3T3YHZRHI5A7GCZHREIXCPE/ 

July 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

In the USA State of Ohio, pro nuclear legislation is helped along by misinformation on renewable energy

How misinformation propped up Ohio lawmakers’ latest attack on renewables

Unsupported and misleading statements were the “means to the end” for a bill to cripple new solar and wind energy in Ohio, critics say.
by Kathiann M. Kowalski July 7, 2021 

False and unsubstantiated claims about renewable energy have flourished for years, but critics say different forms of misinformation played a big role in Ohio lawmakers’ latest move to stifle the growth of wind and solar energy.

“Misinformation is the means to the end,” said Trish Demeter, chief of staff for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund. “Misinformation, bad information, misconstrued information, partial information: All of those are tactics that are supporting the goal, which is to block and kill renewable energy from being built in Ohio.”

Senate Bill 52 would let counties keep out new solar and wind farms from all or part of their territories, holding those projects to a higher standard than fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Continue reading

July 10, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Australian Members of Parliament from right and left parties call on US President Biden to drop charges against Julian Assange,

Australian MPs call on US President Biden to drop charges against Assange,   https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australian-mps-call-on-us-president-biden-to-drop-charges-against-assange-20210629-p585a1.html By Rob Harris, June 30, 2021 Former security analyst turned federal Labor MP Peter Khalil has joined a group of Australian politicians directly lobbying the United States to drop an appeal over a British court’s ruling against the extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

In a video message to US President Joe Biden released on Wednesday evening Australian time, 11 federal MPs from across the political spectrum have also appealed to Washington to drop its espionage charges against the Australian citizen and for the British government to allow him to return home.

Before entering politics Mr Khalil, the member for the Victorian seat of Wills, was director of National Security Policy of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. As a national security adviser to former prime minister Kevin Rudd, he was personally named in diplomatic cables sent to Washington by the US Embassy, which were later released by Wikileaks.

While he has previously criticised Mr Assange’s actions in helping obtain and leak classified information on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr Khalil said the case was “not just about one individual”.

“In an era where rising authoritarian regimes are denying and attacking freedom of the press, such as the shut down of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily by the Chinese Community Party, it is more important than ever that when it comes to condemning the denial of press freedom the rhetoric of liberal democracies is actually matched with substantive actions to protect the right of journalists and the media to do their work freely to hold governments to account,” Mr Khalil said.

He said while the Obama administration had clearly chosen not to indict Mr Assange because it would set a damming precedent against journalistic practice and behaviour, the Trump administration aggressively pursued the case.

“Therein lies the problem. These charges are so broad-based that if successful they would go well beyond this individual case – they would impact investigative journalism and open up prosecutions of countless media doing this journalism, they would have a chilling effect on all journalists reporting on national security and foreign affairs matters,” he said.

The 49-year-old Mr Assange has been in Belmarsh Prison since April 2019 trying to avoid extradition to the US to face charges on multiple counts of conspiring with and directing others, from 2009 to 2019, to illegally obtain and release US secrets.

In doing so he aided and abetted hacking, illegally exposed confidential US sources to danger and used the information to damage the US, according to the charges. If convicted on all counts he faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years.

In 2012 Mr Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation that he denied. An investigation into the 2010 rape allegation has since been dropped by Swedish prosecutors.

He was awarded a Walkley award, Australian journalism’s highest honour, in 2011 for a “most outstanding contribution to journalism” for his “brave, determined and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency”.

In March this year Nationals MP George Christensen, Independent Andrew Wilkie and Labor’s Julian Hill personally met with the US embassy’s charge d’affaires, Michael Goldman, arguing that Mr Assange should be allowed to return home.

A 24-member parliamentary group established to support Mr Assange’s bid to return home contains members from all major parties, including now Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in January Mr Assange would be allowed to return to Australia if all charges were dropped. He said consular support had consistently been offered to Mr Assange, but made clear the government were “not parties to those set of proceedings”. 

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July 10, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

France’s government helps settle the debts of bankrupt nuclear company AREVA (which is now resuscitated as ORANO)

 

French state helps Areva settle Finnish EPR liabilities. To settle a new additional cost of 600 million euros, the State will buy back from the company, for 994.1 million euros, part of the shares it holds in the capital of Orano, the group responsible for managing the fuel cycle.

 Le Monde 8th July 2021

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2021/07/08/nucleaire-l-etat-francais-aide-areva-a-solder-le-passif-de-l-epr-finlandais_6087579_3234.html

July 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

U.S. proposals about extradition of Julian Assange are designed to keep him in prison for life

Assange fiancee rejects US proposals over possible extradition

Stella Moris says measures intended to keep her partner ‘in prison effectively for the rest of his life’,    
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jul/08/julian-assange-fiancee-rejects-us-proposals-over-possible-extradition Ben Quinn@BenQuinn75, Thu 8 Jul 2021

US assurances that Julian Assange would not be held under the strictest maximum-security conditions if extradited from the UK have been rejected by his fiancee, who described them as a formula to keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

Details of the proposals made to British authorities emerged after permission was granted this week to appeal against January’s ruling that the Wikileaks co-founder cannot be extradited on mental health grounds.

They include assurances that Assange, if convicted in relation to charges of alleged espionage and hacking, would be allowed to serve any jail time in his native Australia.

The package contains a particular assurance that Assange would not be subject to “special administrative measures” (SAMs) in US custody or imprisoned at the “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado, procedures reserved for high-security prisoners. The assurances were subject to change if he were to “do something” subsequently that met the US test for the imposition of the high-security measures.

Details were contained in excerpts of the UK court ruling granting limited permission to appeal, which were released by the Crown Prosecution Service.

In January, the district judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled Assange could not be extradited because of concerns over his mental health and risk of suicide in a US prison.

Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee, described reports about US undertakings as “grossly misleading”, adding that 80,000 prisoners in US prisons were held in solitary confinement on any given day and only a handful were held in the conditions specifically mentioned in the proposals.

“The US government also says it may change its mind if the head of the CIA advises it to do so once Julian Assange is held in US custody,” she added.

In relation to him serving jail time in Australia, she said that it had always been his right to request a prison transfer to finish serving his sentence.

“What is crucial to understand is that prisoner transfers are eligible only after all appeals have been exhausted. For the case to reach the US supreme court could easily take a decade, even two.

“What the US is proposing is a formula to keep Julian in prison effectively for the rest of his life.”

Nick Vamos, a partner at the Peters & Peters law firm and a former head of extradition at the Crown Prosecution Service, said it was “highly unusual” for the US Department of Justice to offer broader assurances to a foreign court on prisoner treatment upfront. In fact, he said it had previously refused to do so in terrorism cases.

“It’s not unusual in extradition, but it is for the Americans to give this type of assurances because their previous approach over many years has been to say, ‘the US legal system is a fair one and our prison system is capable of dealing with people with all kinds of conditions,’” he said.

While a date has yet to be set for a high court hearing in relation to the US appeal, Vamos suggested things could move “quite quickly”.

While the ruling earlier this year had gone in Assange’s favour, he added: “The difficulty he and his legal team now have is that, if the court says we are denying extradition because we are concerned about his treatment, we are worried that a, b or c might happen, and the requesting state then provides an assurance which says, ‘under no circumstance will that ever happen’, then it defeats the objection.

“There’s also a longstanding history of our courts accepting the assurances from requesting states. The question is: ‘Does the assurance address it in fact or can it be undermined by suggesting that it is not quite as good as it appears or that they will dishonour it anyway?’”

July 10, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator to order review of earthquake risks of Genkai nuclear plant

NRA to call for quake resistance review at Genkai nuclear plant, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, July 8, 2021   The Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to order Kyushu Electric Power Co. to review the quake resistance of its Genkai nuclear plant, which could force the utility to make costly safeguards for the facility in Saga Prefecture.

The nuclear watchdog in April updated the method for estimating standard seismic ground motion, the maximum acceleration of earthquakes anticipated at and around nuclear plants.

It has directed electric power companies to review their estimates of how much seismic motion their plants can withstand based on the new method……….

The recent update concerns earthquakes that have focuses that have not been located and is based on findings of 89 temblors that have occurred since 2000.

While Kyushu Electric reviewed estimation of the standard seismic ground motion for its Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, it has dismissed the need for a review at the Genkai plant.

But Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the NRA, criticized the company’s response, questioning its approach toward the safety issue……… https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14390280

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

U.S. government offers meaningless assurances on Julian Assange’s well-being, as it gets right to appeal on UK court ruling against his extradition

UK High Court grants US government right to appeal on Assange extradition, World Socialist Website, Laura Tiernan7 July 2021  Stella Moris, the partner of imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, spoke outside Britain’s High Court yesterday warning he is “still at risk of extradition” after a judge decided the US government can appeal an earlier court ruling that blocked his extradition on health grounds.


The judge also ruled that Assange must remain in prison until the appeal is heard, effectively extending his incarceration for at least many more months.The ruling underscores the Biden administration’s determination to ensure Assange’s removal to the US. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, based on excerpts of the judge’s ruling supplied by the UK Crown Prosecution Service, the US government offered “assurances” that Assange would not be imprisoned in oppressive conditions and could be permitted to serve any sentence in Australia.Such assurances are meaningless. Once Assange is in US custody, those pledges will be cast aside. The Wall Street Journal reported: “The US said it reserved the right to impose special measures on Mr. Assange, or hold him in a Supermax jail, if ‘he were to do something subsequent to the offering of these assurances’ that meets the test for applying them.”

Assange has been denied bail and remains detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison despite a January decision by District Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser denying his extradition to the US. Assange faces trumped-up charges under the Espionage Act over his exposure of war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and torture by the US and its allies. He has been held captive in the UK for a decade.

Baraitser ruled January 4 that Assange’s extradition to a US federal prison would be “oppressive” because of his compromised mental health and risk of suicide. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) under President Donald Trump immediately appealed Baraitser’s decision. Two days later, Trump mounted a fascist coup attempt in Washington D.C. The Democrats under Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris have seamlessly continued US imperialism’s political vendetta against Assange.The WikiLeaks publisher is being held in violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press and in breach of international human rights law.
Britain’s High Court has reportedly granted a right of appeal to the US on three grounds. The court will decide whether Baraitser applied the Extradition Act correctly; whether sufficient advance notice was given of the court’s decision, and whether “assurances” by the US over mitigating the risk of suicide were properly considered.A date for the appeal hearing has not been announced, but it will likely take place after the courts’ summer recess. This leaves Assange imprisoned at Belmarsh indefinitely in conditions long condemned by doctors and human rights lawyers as “psychological torture.”

In a letter sent yesterday to Biden and US Attorney General Merrick Garland by Doctors for Assange, 250 doctors from 35 countries demanded the dropping of all charges against the WikiLeaks publisher. They denounced his ongoing imprisonment due to the US appeal as “amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the UK.”……….. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/07/08/gnkp-j08.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

July 10, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

UK residents face higher electricity bills, paying in advance, for the construction of new nuclear reactors

Consumers face higher energy bills to pay for new nuclear power. EDF wants to recoup some of the £20bn cost of the new Sizewell C plant in Suffolk before it starts producing electricity. Households face higher energy bills to help pay for the planned £20bn Sizewell C plant in Suffolk as the Government seeks to replace the UK’s ageing nuclear power stations.

 
Ministers are preparing to introduce legislation so that nuclear developers can recoup some of their costs through energy bills while a new plant is being built, rather than having to wait until it has been developed, the Financial Times reported. Supporters stress the so-called regulated asset base model can help cut the huge costs of nuclear power because it reduces risk for developers, although critics argue it unfairly heaps risk onto consumers. EDF has been in negotiations with the Government since December over a funding deal for its proposed Sizewell C plant amid public debate about the role nuclear power should play in the energy ecosystem.

It was estimated in 2019 that energy bills could rise by about £6 a year if the regulated asset base model is used for Sizewell. The financing model is used for other infrastructure projects such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel
but not yet for power generation, meaning new legislation is needed. The nuclear industry has been increasingly vocal in recent months about the importance of replacing the UK’s nuclear plants, most of which are due to close by the end of the decade.

 Telegraph 7th July 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/07/consumers-face-higher-energy-bills-pay-new-nuclear-power/

July 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Rapid growth of renewable energy: it’s the major energy source in Europe

Renewable energy capacity around the world grew by a record amount during 2020, even as China continued to build new fossil-fuel burning coal plants. Capacity of wind and solar power grew by 238GW globally – about 50pc larger
than any previous expansion, according to the latest annual review of world energy by oil and gas giant BP.

The jump in renewable output amounts to about seven times the total installed capacity in the UK, and came in a
year marked by a slump in energy use as the pandemic triggered a slowdown in global travel. The share of renewable power, including wind and solar, in the global power mix also rose from 10.3pc to 11.7pc. In Europe, that share reached 23.8pc, making it the first region where renewables are the main source of fuel, BP said.

 Telegraph 8th July 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/08/wind-solar-power-surges-record-year/

July 10, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | 1 Comment

As Germany’s election approaches, political parties differ on the future of U.S. nuclear weapons based there,

Germany’s upcoming election and the future of nuclear sharing,  https://www.brookings.edu/research/germanys-upcoming-election-and-the-future-of-nuclear-sharing/    Steven PiferJuly 2021   In a paper for the Brookings-Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative (BBTI), Steven Pifer describes the views of the major German political parties regarding the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons and “nuclear sharing” ahead of September’s federal elections, how negotiations for likely coalitions might address these issues, and how the U.S. can influence those negotiations.

The United States has long deployed nuclear weapons in Germany under “programs of cooperation” in which the weapons are maintained under U.S. custody but, in a conflict, and with proper authorization, could be turned over to the German military for use. The current delivery system is the German Air Force’s Tornado aircraft, which is dual-capable — it can deliver both conventional and nuclear weapons — but nearing the end of its service life.

Participation in this nuclear role is often referred to as “nuclear sharing” in Germany. However, the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons is not popular with the German public. With national elections which will determine who replaces long-serving chancellor Angela Merkel to be held September 26, two of the three leading political parties have called for an end to nuclear sharing and the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear arms — although with some ambiguity regarding timing. The issues of nuclear sharing and replacement of the Tornado with another dual-capable aircraft may not arise as major questions in the campaign, but these issues will figure in the coalition negotiation between the parties that will form the next government. This paper describes the views of the major German political parties regarding nuclear sharing and the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons and how the possible coalition negotiations might address these issues.

The United States has an interest in how that negotiation turns out. At a minimum, the U.S. government does not want a German policy that seeks to end nuclear sharing in a unilateral manner, which could unravel NATO’s current deterrence and defense posture. Given the contribution of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe to extended deterrence and, in particular, to assurance of allies across the continent regarding the U.S. commitment to NATO’s defense, changes to the alliance’s nuclear posture should come about as the result of an alliance process, not as the result of one country’s unilateral decision. Washington can take steps in the coming months, such as articulating its approach to nuclear arms control, that could help shape how the coalition negotiation in Berlin addresses the nuclear sharing issue.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear arms control hasn’t worked. We need a new approach.


Why nuclear arms control is dead, The Hill, BY WARD WILSON, — 07/09/21
:   This year the MacArthur Foundation said it will cease funding anti-nuclear weapons efforts by 2023. That means the largest foundation working in the nuclear weapons field is throwing in the towel. Ten million dollars a year of scholarly research, diplomatic conferences, track II meetings, and other work to limit nuclear weapons will disappear within two years.

Why would MacArthur do such a thing? They aren’t doing it because nuclear weapons have been eliminated. Perhaps it is because of a loss of faith in the cautious, step-by-step effort to slowly limit the number of nuclear weapons and, over time, work down to zero. 

If MacArthur’s board decided that the step-by-step approach isn’t working, they wouldn’t be the first to come to that conclusion. The John Merck Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Skoll Foundation — all these funders evidently have concluded the same. And a report in the Washington Post last week seems to confirm that they are right.

…………………  we are entering a new and dangerous era of international competition and tension. The Cold War may have ended 20 years ago, but arms races often signal impending hot wars — and a nuclear arms race is the gravest of signs. Time is short. The cautious, step-by-step approach of arms control, with the minimalist goal of “limiting” nuclear weapons, indeed has failed.

The need for a more aggressive approach ought to have been obvious, if for no other reason than the rest of the world already has given up hope for arms control. In 2017, more than 60 percent of the world’s nations — 122 countries — voted for a United Nations treaty not to limit, not to “one day” eliminate, but to abolish nuclear weapons now. If the apparent loss of faith in arms control by funders isn’t enough, the loss of faith by much of the world ought to be unmistakable proof.

Clearly, a more muscular approach is needed. Continuing to try long-term, careful approaches to the problem guarantees that efforts to oppose nuclear weapons eventually will wither and die. It is time for a stronger, more aggressive strategy — and past time to directly challenge the fundamental beliefs of nuclear weapons advocates. The arms control approach clearly has failed. 

It has failed because it took the claims and assumptions of nuclear weapons advocates at face value. Nuclear weapons experts said that nuclear weapons were the “ultimate guarantee” of safety, and arms control nongovernmental organizations and scholars then tried to work within that assumption………..

Nuclear weapons advocates say that nuclear weapons are the “ultimate weapon.” Arms control advocates asked themselves, “How can we persuade people that a ban on the ultimate weapon would ever work?” They should have asked: “Isn’t utility the measuring stick of a weapon? How can a weapon be the ultimate weapon if it’s never used? Isn’t it possible that nuclear weapons are too clumsy, too poisonous, too dangerous to be useful? Isn’t it possible that they aren’t used because they aren’t militarily useful? And isn’t that why nearly 75 years have passed with them sitting idly in silos?”

Arms control is dead. The second nuclear arms race is on. The hour is late — but it is, perhaps, not too late to aggressively challenge the Cold War assumptions and the blinkered mindset that have kept us from seeing the reality of nuclear weapons.  https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/561786-why-nuclear-arms-control-is-dead

July 10, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea Needs the Bomb to Protect Itself From America

North Korea Needs the Bomb to Protect Itself From America

Pyongyang isn’t crazy, just focused on a credible threat. 

Foreign Policy,By Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. 9 July 21,  ”’…………..  North Korea’s quest for nukes has helped make it an economic disaster, turning it into a global pariah and diverting resources from economic investment. That’s one reason the country, as Kim admitted in public recently, is facing another critical food crisis. However, it now is an unofficial member of the world’s exclusive nuclear club.

Nevertheless, the mere possession of nuclear weapons does not mean it threatens America with them. North Korea makes no pretense of having global concerns, other than using diplomatic relations for profit when possible. In the abstract, the Kim dynasty has no interest in the United States or even the Western Hemisphere. Pyongyang’s priority is regional, especially avoiding domination by another power.China exerted substantial influence (Russia less so) over the ancient Korean kingdom, long known as a shrimp among whales. Japan was a colonial oppressor during the first half of the 20th century. Most important today is North Korea’s relations with South Korea, as the two states remain engaged in a de facto civil war, short-circuited by outside intervention in 1953. One reason China’s importunities against North Korea’s nuclear program fall flat is because such weapons help Pyongyang preserve its independence from Beijing.

However, the United States has intruded in Northeast Asia. America intervened in the Korean War, maintains forces in and around the Korean Peninsula, is prepared to intervene in a future conflict, and regularly threatens to wage preventive war.

Indeed, Washington’s willingness to routinely oust governments on Uncle Sam’s naughty list makes the United States particularly dangerous. Washington can’t even be trusted to live up to a denuclearization accord, as Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi discovered a decade ago. The Iranians learned that one president’s word does not bind their successor.The North desires a deterrent. At the party congress earlier this year, Kim explained, according to a summary report by state media, that “Korea was divided by the U.S., the world’s first user of nukes and war chieftain, and the DPRK has been in direct confrontation with its aggressor forces for decades, and the peculiarities of the Korean revolution and the geopolitical features of our state required pressing ahead uninterruptedly with the already-started building of nuclear force for the welfare of the people, the destiny of the revolution and the existence and independent development of the state.”

That is a prolix way of saying Pyongyang needs the bomb to protect itself from Washington………… https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/07/07/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-united-states-deterrence/

July 10, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Investors won’t back the nuclear ”white elephant”, neither should the UK taxpayers

 The City won’t back new nuclear power stations – so why should we? The nuclear industry has a wretched track record when it comes to building new reactors. Giant cost overruns are practically a given; so too extraordinary delays.

Take EDF, the French state-backed outfit. Its nuke in Flamanville, Normandy was originally meant to come on line in 2009. Instead it won’t be ready until next year, 14 years later than originally planned and £10bn over budget.

Then there’s Hinkley Point C, Britain’s first new nuclear plant in three decades. Initially pencilled in for completion in 2017, it is now not expected until 2026 with a £23bn bill instead of £16bn.

No wonder, then, that the City has baulked at helping to finance Sizewell C, a project so radioactive that Sir Iain Duncan Smith has dubbed it “the next Huawei” because of the involvement of Beijing-backed CGN. The politics of
that are enough to put off most investors, but there are plenty of other risks that traditional fund managers will struggle to square with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) guidelines they are increasingly governed by.

But is this really the way to go about it? It is eight years since the influential Energy and Climate Change Committee called for the Government to come up with a plan B because of repeated problems with building new nuclear power. Yet we seem no closer to having one.

 T elegraph 7th July 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/07/city-wont-back-new-nuclear-power-stations-should/

July 10, 2021 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment