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World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2021

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2021 (WNISR) was released overnight.  For nearly 30 years, these reports have provided important factual antidotes to industry promotion and obfuscation. This year’s report is the work of 13 interdisciplinary experts from across the world.

Naoto Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister at the time of the Fukushima disaster, writes in the foreword: “As Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the disaster, I now believe that the time has come for Japan and the world to end its reliance on nuclear power.”

In broad terms, nuclear power has been stagnant for 30 years. WNISR notes that the world’s fleet of 415
power reactors is 23 fewer than the 2002 peak of 438, but nuclear capacity and generation have marginally increased due to uprating and larger reactors being built.

There is one big difference with the situation 30 years ago: the reactor fleet was young then, now it is old. The ageing of the reactor fleet is a huge problem for the industry (as is the ageing of the nuclear workforce ‒the silver tsunami). The average age of the world’s reactor fleet continues to rise, and by mid-2021 reached 30.9 years. The mean age of the 23 reactors shut down between 2016 and 2020 was 42.6 years. The International Atomic Energy Agency anticipates the closure of around 10 reactors or 10 gigawatts (GW) per year over the next three decades.

Reactor construction starts need to match closures just for the industry to maintain its 30-year pattern of stagnation. But construction starts have averaged only 4.8 per year over the past five years, and
there’s no indication of looming growth. Nuclear power’s contribution to global electricity supply has fallen from a peak of 17.5 percent in 1996 to 10.1 percent in 2020 (a 4.3 percent share of global commercial primary energy consumption).

Renewables reached an estimated 29 percent share of global electricity generation in 2020, a record share. Non-hydro renewables(10.7 percent in 2020) overtook nuclear in 2019 and the gap grew in 2020.

Criminality

In addition to a vast amount of energy data, WNISR includes detailed analyses of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters; the vulnerabilities of nuclear power to the impacts of climate change (e.g. dwindling and warming water resources, storm impacts, sea-level rise, etc.); and a chapter on nuclear decommissioning.

WNISR details the slow and unsteady progress of small modular reactors. The report notes that “so-called advanced reactors of various designs, including so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), make a lot of noise in the media but their promoters have provided little evidence for any implementation scheme before a decade at the very least.”

WNISR notes that previous reports have covered irregularities, fraud, counterfeiting, corruption, and other criminal activities in the nuclear sector. This year’s report dedicates a chapter to nuclear criminality and includes 14 case studies with serious implications (safety, public governance) that came to trial in the period 2010-2020.

The report states:

“A stunning number of revelations in recent years on irregularities, fraud, counterfeiting, bribery, corruption, sabotage, theft, and other criminal activities in the nuclear industry in various countries suggest that there is a systemic issue of “criminal energy” in the sector. …

“Although not comprehensive, this analysis offers several noteworthy insights:

* Criminal activities in the nuclear sector are not new. Some major scandals date back decades or have been ongoing for decades.

* Organized crime organizations have been supplying workers to nuclear sites — e.g. the Yakuza in Japan — for over a decade.

* Serious insider sabotage has hit major nuclear countries in recent years — like a Belgian nuclear power plant — without ever leading to arrests.

 There is no systematic, comprehensive, public database on the issue.

* In 2019, the IAEA released a report on cases of counterfeit or fraudulent items in at least seven countries since at least the 1990s.

* In Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index about half of the 35 countries operating or constructing nuclear power plants on their territory rate under 50 out of 100.

* In the Bribery Payers Index (BPI, last published in 2011), seven out of the ten worst rated
countries operate or are building nuclear power plants on their territory.”

Author: Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia

 Renew Economy 29th Sept 2021

September 30, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics international | 1 Comment

Greta Thunberg mocks world leaders’ words at Youth4Climate

The Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, used her speech at the Youth4Climate conference in Milan to mock the words of world leaders, including UK PM Boris Johnson. The 18-year-old used soundbites from Mr Johnson, such as “expensive bunny hugging” and “build back better”, to highlight what she called the “empty words and promises” of politicians.

Later in the speech, she urged people not to give up hope, saying that change is “not only possible, but urgently necessary”. Many countries have announced ambitious targets to reduce their emissions to tackle climate change.

Analysts say some recent announcements, such as China’s statement that it would not build any more coal plants overseas and the US, EU and others pledging to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, are signs that progress is being made. But they caution that some major challenges remain.


The UK, for example, has pledged to cut 78% of its emissions by 2035, from a 1990 baseline. But the government’s current plans are projected to deliver less than a quarter of the cuts needed to meet the goal.

 BBC 28th Sept 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-58726531

September 30, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts | Leave a comment

No, a nuclear-powered superyacht won’t save the world

Earth to CNN: No, a nuclear-powered superyacht won’t save the world, https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/earth-to-cnn-no-a-nuclear-powered-superyacht-wont-save-the-world/ By Dawn Stover | September 28, 2021 Who knew that a sexy nuclear superyacht could save us from climate catastrophe? That was the awesome news from CNN’s travel desk yesterday.

CNN wasn’t alone. ForbesBBC Science Focus Magazine, and a host of other media outlets have previously hailed the world-rescuing potential of what CNN described as “an emissions-free megaship that will pit together climate scientists and the wealthy in a daring quest to save the planet.”

“Pit together” sounds like an apt description of a would-be merger between luxury tourism and climate action. You can put those two things together in a sentence, but in the real world they mix about as easily as oil and water.

And there’s another big problem with the plan for this overhyped 300-meter-long vessel and its global research: Earth 300, as the $700 million superyacht is called, will be powered by a molten salt nuclear reactor that doesn’t exist yet and won’t be certified for at least five years. The company’s website illustrates the reactor with a scale model of an experiment done in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The website also says the scientists onboard Earth 300 will have the world’s first ocean-going quantum computer. But that, too, has yet to be built.

Meanwhile, the climate crisis needs immediate attention. “We really are out of time,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned this month.

While they wait for a modular nuclear reactor that might never come, the developers of Earth 300 say they will use green synthetic fuels. These are liquid fuels derived from coal or natural gas in a process that captures carbon. However, they are much more expensive than fossil fuels. Aaron Olivera, the entrepreneur behind Earth 300, told CNN he plans to “eventually” retrofit the yacht with a reactor being developed by the UK company Core Power in collaboration with TerraPower, a US nuclear engineering firm chaired by Bill Gates.

Globally, there are at least 171 motorized megayachts that are 75 meters (246 feet) or more in length. Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, is rumored to be buying a superyacht so big that it will have a dock for its own “support yacht.” Eclipse, an even bigger superyacht owned by Russian-Israeli billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich, has its own missile defense system. The largest yacht currently operating, Azzam, is 180 meters (590 feet) long and consumes 13 metric tons of fuel per hour at its top speed of 33 knots. That’s about 0.01 miles (or a little over 50 feet) per gallon.

And the customers Olivera would like to attract—the wealthiest people in the world—also tend to have the world’s largest carbon footprints, thanks in no small part to their habit of traveling aboard superyachts and private airplanes. According to calculations by two researchers at Indiana University, a superyacht with a permanent crew and helicopter pad is “by far the worst asset to own from an environmental standpoint.”

Earth 300’s luxury suites will each rent for $300,000 a day, which presumably will cover the personnel and expenses needed to operate the ship and its 22 scientific laboratories. But construction won’t begin until 2025 at the earliest, and any groundbreaking scientific discoveries or billionaire epiphanies that could help stabilize the climate are even further into the future.

Construction is already delayed on another 600-foot-long yacht that will combine climate research with charters for paying customers. Financed by Kjell Inge Røkke, a Norwegian billionaire who made his fortune in fishing and oil drilling, REV Ocean will investigate climate change and ocean acidification, plastic pollution, and overfishing, but the nonprofit project is at least three years behind schedule.

Who will be aboard these superyachts? CNN asked Olivera which famous people he’d like to host on his future ship, and he named Elon Musk, Michelle Obama, Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein and Yvon Chouinard. Like the superyacht itself, some of those potential guests seem more aspirational than realistic.

Greta Thunberg doesn’t take airplanes or motor yachts. Elon Musk doesn’t take vacations. And Bill Gates may be hurt that he’s not on the A-list.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

With breathless enthusiasm, media applauds another nuclear lobby confidence trick – ”Earth 300”

Full of deceptive words and phrases – “clean” ”emissions-free” ”solutions to climate change” ”safe and sustainable atomic energy from a molten salt reactor” – journalists can hardly contain themselves as they regurgitate the propaganda from the nuclear lobby. Not so long ago, nuclear proponents were climate change deniers. Now they see that getting on the climate change bandwagon is their only chance to get taxpayers’ money, to fund their failing industry.

Tickets for this nuclear-powered superyacht will cost $3 million for VIPs and be free to scientists and students selected to help study climate change., Business Insider, APR 13, 2021,  

The striking behemoth has been dubbed Earth 300‚ with a stated mission to carry out research expeditions in order to “confront earth’s greatest challenges,” according to Jefferson. Featuring naval architecture by NED, it spans an insane 984 feet—300 meters, hence the suffix—which makes it even longer than RMS Titanic (883 feet). The majority of that real estate has been dedicated to scientific equipment and tech straight from Silicon Valley.

The vessel will reportedly be powered by nuclear tech known as molten salt reactors (MSRs). ……he project has gained a number of partners, including IBM, RINA, Triton Submarines and EYOS Expeditions. Iddes anticipates Earth 300 will launch in 2025,- Robb Report 14 Apr 21,

September 30, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Norway paid to help Russian nuclear submarine waste clean-up – but now – new submarines!


Norway celebrates 25-years paying for nuclear-dump cleanup. Russia showcases new reactor weapons

Rosatom officials and Norwegian project partners are Wednesday marking that it is 25 years since the first money check was sent from Oslo to help improve infrastructure at the ill-fated Andreeva Bay dump site for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste accumulated from the operation of Cold War submarines.  The Barents Observer ,By Thomas Nilsen September 29, 2021

Hindered from on-site meetings due to the pandemic, today’s 25-years anniversary meeting in Andreeva Bay is long overdue. However, the meeting comes in pole position as the two countries are trying to improve bilateral relations in times of more complex geopolitics and higher tensions between NATO and Russia up north.

……. ensuring nuclear safety is another topic for good bilateral cooperation.

For the Soviet nuclear navy, the Coastal Technical Base in Andreeva Bay became the main storage site for both spent fuel assemblies from submarine reactors, as well as a site to store containers with solid radioactive waste. Focus was not on safety and after years of exposure to Arctic climate, the site became contaminated and the infrastructure started to fall apart. With Russia being broke after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the call for international action was precarious. Norwegian money, and will to solve the problem, was most welcomed……………

Success story 

More than 2 billion kroner (nearly €200 million) of Norwegian taxpayers money are spent on helping Russia secure its nuclear legacy since the mid-1990ties. The ground-breaking nuclear safety work initiated on the Kola Peninsula, only some 60 km from the border to Norway, has since been followed by many other countries and international financial grant programs.

For projects in Andreeva Bay, Norway has paid more than €30 million on things like fixing electricity, water pipelines, roads, fences, constructing a new sanitary building and improving the old pier in port with a new lifting crane. About half of the 21,000 spent uranium fuel elements originally stored in three rundown concrete tanks is so far lifted out, repacked and shipped out of Andreeva Bay. First to Atomflot in Murmansk, then by train further to Russia’s reprocessing plant at Mayak in the South Urals. Some 10,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste that previously was stored outdoor and exposed to snow and frost is now under roof in a new building erected at the site. Soon, also that will be transported away.

Present at the celebrations in Andreeva Bay is also representatives from the environmental NGO Bellona. It was this organization, with offices both in Murmansk and Oslo, that before the official country-to-country cooperation started, was first to uncover security breaches and the urgency to act before the entire storage site turned out to be a Chernobyl in slow-motion.

“Time has come” 

Bellona’s Aleksandr Nikitin says to the Barents Observer that the time has come for Russia to solve its own nuclear challenges, not the international community. “But first we have to complete already started international projects, like the nuclear legacy,” Nikitin says and points to the ongoing work in Andreeva Bay………….

Meanwhile, and unlike the 1990ties, Russia is now investing huge money in building new nuclear-powered submarines and other military nuclear installations. A key question is whether Moscow now is arming the country again into a nuclear age that later could cause similar radiological waste challenges as the legacy from the last Cold War created.

…….. It is a task for Russia and Rosatom. We cannot hire anymore for a rich uncle from the west to come and help again. It was a time when it was necessary, not anymore.”

Meanwhile, Aleksandr Nikitin is glad to see the solution-oriented results of the work in Andreeva Bay.

“Bellona started it, and we have to finish it,” he says………………………………….

A Norwegian intelligence official has previously expressed fears for more accidents with the reactor-powered weapons systems now under testing and development in Norway’s neighboring areas up north.

For Norway, a challenge is to balance the aid-support to nuclear safety with making sure no funding ends up in Russia’s new crazy nuclear weapons programs…………..

The “Serebryanka” dilemma  

A review made by the Barents Observer of the publicly available documents on financial aid from Norway and Sweden to equip modern communication and positioning systems on board “Serebryanka” shows that about 9 million kroner (€900,000) were spent on the project in 2013 and 2014. That was shortly before the Burevestnik testing program started. 

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, in charge of the project, says in its annual overview of Non-Proliferation cooperation for 2013 that the “Serebryanka” was the largest project initiated in the Murmansk region.

Stockholm spent 4,1 million Swedish kroner (SEK) on equipment for “Serebryanka” in 2013 and an additional 217,000 SEK in 2014.


Describing the project
, the Radiation Safety Authority writes: “This project is co-financed with Norway and the purpose is to equip the vessel “Serebryanka” with a physical protection system, as well as communications and positioning systems, in order to increase security when transporting nuclear materials and radioactive substances.”

The Norwegian share of the project was 3 million Norwegian kroner, paid as part of the Nuclear Action Plan financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Conflict-of-interests 

Asked about the potential conflicting interests, State Secretary Audun Halvorsen in Norway’s Foreign Ministry told the Barents Observer upfront of the annual meeting in the Norwegian-Russian Commission on Nuclear Safety this spring that “…. our bilateral cooperation on nuclear safety projects are related to civilian activities only, and questions regarding military activities are therefore considered outside of the scope of the commission by the Russian side.”  https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/nuclear-safety/2021/09/while-norway-celebrates-25-years-paying-cleanup-nuclear-dumpsite-russia-gives

September 30, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, politics, politics international, Russia, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear submarines – a gand announcement leading to a grand shambles

Bitter truth is we will likely never get any nuclear subs, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/yes-weve-cancelled-the-french-but-now-what/news-story/99b43465c2124c01a579672d8ef19349 Greg Sheridan, 30 Sept 21, As things stand, it is unlikely Australia will ever get a nuclear submarine. All that we have done so far is cancel the French submarine. My guess is this delays any submarine at all by at least 10 years.   It fills me with regret to say this, but analytically the conclusion is inescapable that the nuclear subs under the AUKUS rubric will probably proceed the way of all our other submarine announcements. They will enjoy a brief flower of credibility before doubts creep in, critics become mobilised, the prime minister who ordered them moves on and eventually they are consigned to the dustbin for a new submarine announcement that can enjoy its brief season in the sun.

Our submarine acquisition process remains a complete shambles and the chances of anything significant emerging from it remain remote.
My colleague Dennis Shanahan reported from the recent prime ministerial trip to the US that the government was not interested in leasing a nuclear submarine from the US over the next several years. Instead it wanted to add new submarines to the allied fleet, rather than take a sub or two out of the existing US and British lines. On its own, this approach probably guarantees that nothing of consequence comes of this initiative.

It is impossible to understand why the Brits are in the mix, apart from PR. If we choose the British Astute sub and don’t modify it, that means ditching the jewel of our defence technology, the US combat system that we have on the Collins, as well as most of the US weapons we use on the Collins. So the US, at the end of all this, would be getting billions of dollars less work from us and our navies would be less integrated.
Malcolm Turnbull was savage in his National Press Club attack on the Morrison government’s decision to ditch the French subs and go nuclear. Turnbull exaggerates the diplomatic cost. However, his technical critique of the nuclear subs proposal was substantial. He drew attention to obvious contradictions in the process.
All we have done so far is cancel the French subs. As of now, we have no future submarine program at all. The Morrison government scored a diplomatic triumph in getting the Americans to agree to transfer nuclear submarine propulsion to us and in the way AUKUS was presented.

But the global reaction was based on the idea, wholly mistaken, that we would be getting the nuclear subs some time soon.In his first press conference, Scott Morrison said the subs would be built in Adelaide and he hoped we might start the build before the end of this decade and get the first one into service before the end of the next decade; that is, 2040. Here are some laws of the physical universe and the operation of logic that cannot be contradicted or transcended. If we do not lease a sub and instead make them all in Adelaide we will not get the first one before 2040. Frankly, even that date involves almost miraculous virtuosity.

Every major, complex naval build we’ve undertaken has come in way over budget and long over schedule.In the history of human habitation of this continent, nothing remotely comparable in complexity to building a nuclear submarine has ever been attempted.

Obviously, it makes no industrial or military sense to build the subs in Adelaide. Doing so will add years to the schedule and tens of billions of dollars to the cost. The French are criticised for prospective delays in their conventional subs, but we could have had them much more quickly if they were built in France.But here is a moral certainty. The dialectics of Australian politics will force both the Coalition and Labor, before the next election, to commit to building all the subs in Adelaide.

Say by some miracle the process stays on track and we actually get a boat in the water by 2040 – pretty unlikely, but not absolutely impossible – that does not mean we have our replacement submarine fleet by 2040. If we can build one nuclear sub every three years after that we will be doing very well. That means we would get our fleet of eight subs by 2061.In terms of military capability in the face of the strategic challenges we face in the next decade or two, that is truly a sick joke. It’s the three-card trick all over again.

The capability gap we have to bridge is not up to 2040 but up to, say, 2055, when we might get the sixth nuclear boat and can therefore replace, one for one, the Collins boats. Of course the nuclear subs will be much more capable than the Collins, but they’re no good at all if they don’t actually exist.

Australian submarine policy right now requires the Collins boats to remain our frontline submarine capability until at least the 2040s. No living Australian prime minister has commissioned a sub that actually got built. The last prime minister to do so was Bob Hawke. The Collins boats were commissioned in the 1980s, yet must serve into the 2040s. The frankly batshit crazy quality of our circumstances is evident in this comparison: it would be as if Britain commissioned a new weapons system under Queen Victoria in 1901 and it was still in service as the main British weapons system at the time of the Beatles in the 1960s.

It is impossible to understand why the Brits are in the mix, apart from PR. If we choose the British Astute sub and don’t modify it, that means ditching the jewel of our defence technology, the US combat system that we have on the Collins, as well as most of the US weapons we use on the Collins. So the US, at the end of all this, would be getting billions of dollars less work from us and our navies would be less integrated.

Alternatively, there is talk of choosing the Astute but putting a US combat system, US weapons and even US propulsion system into it. Dear God in heaven, if we embrace the insanity of designing a new nuclear sub just for Australia, even 2060 will be optimistic for the first boat.Or if we choose the Virginia, as we must, the Brits get nothing, yet Boris Johnson was assuring the British public that AUKUS meant hundreds and hundreds of well-paid jobs in Britain’s north. We made a mistake choosing the British Type 26 frigate, which still is not in service even in Britain and is two years behind schedule and counting. Just imagine a Brit submarine saga.

So the government has solved only the problem that its own incompetent, lazy and inexplicable failure to champion its own defence programs brought about, but so far has substituted nothing concrete for it.


The result is likely no submarine capability for us at all, except museum piece Collins boats and whatever submarine visits the Americans or Brits send along. We should have kept the French subs going, perhaps at a reduced number of six or even three, then gone nuclear in an orderly way.

Instead we have once more followed our own traditions of grand announcement leading to grand shambles.
A cynical interpretation might be that the Liberals never explained, championed or campaigned for their own choice of the French sub. Choosing Marise Payne and then Linda Reynolds as defence ministers was grotesque, by Turnbull and Morrison respectively, as neither could carry the debate or the portfolio.

So the government has solved only the problem that its own incompetent, lazy and inexplicable failure to champion its own defence programs brought about, but so far has substituted nothing concrete for it.The result is likely no submarine capability for us at all, except museum piece Collins boats and whatever submarine visits the Americans or Brits send along. We should have kept the French subs going, perhaps at a reduced number of six or even three, then gone nuclear in an orderly way.

Instead we have once more followed our own traditions of grand announcement leading to grand shambles.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | Leave a comment

Australia the sucker for cash-strapped U.S, and U.K submarine companies General Dynamics and BAE Systems

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is close to BAE, the UK defence contractor whose nuclear subs program is struggling. The submarine program in the US too is foundering, so the game plan by our AUKUS partners is to rope in the dopey Aussies for a hundred billion dollars-plus to finance their distressed submarine sectors.

Both US submarine builder General Dynamics and its British counterpart BAE are looking for a new income stream from Downunder.

$66 Billion Reasons: did Scott Morrison get the French submarines right? By Michael West| September 30, 2021  ….. Michael West investigates the awkward AUKUS alliance and whether Scott Morrison made the right call on French submarines.As if ……….being dead last in the developed world on climate action , Scott Morrison and his Coalition have now burnished their reputation for incompetence on the global stage.

In one fell swoop, the sudden AUKUS declaration, they have achieved a stunning betrayal of the French, further peeved our biggest trading partner China, upset half of Europe, shown the bird to New Zealand and our neighbours in the Asian region, and waved an open cheque-book at the US and the UK military industrial complex.

Yet, in their ardour to crawl back to the Mother Country and bat their debutante eyes at Washington, they appear to have got something right: axing the French submarines. Are our self-described band of “Superior Economic Managers” accidental heroes, or did they mean to get it right?

If they double down and splash $100b plus on nuclear submarines, they will have got it doubly wrong.

Defence correspondent Michelle Fahy has documented here the $90b shocker which is Australia’s deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group. Naval itself has an ugly history of corruption and there are serious questions about how the deal came about in the first place, indeed serious questions about the billions in public money smoked every year in Defence procurement.

Murder, corruption, bombings – the company at centre of Australia’s submarine deal

The arms company at the centre of a deadly criminal saga and numerous global corruption scandals, Naval Group, was selected by the Australian government to build our new fleet of submarines – a deal heralded as ‘one of the world’s most lucrative defence contracts’. How did this happen? In this special investigation Michelle Fahy discovers significant gaps in anti-bribery and corruption measures.

Yet there is upside. Scott Morrison and co have junked a deal which would have delivered a fleet of expensive, obsolete submarines 20 years too late for the war which the government’s champions in the media keep telling us we might have to fight against China. Even though a war with China is nothing more than a grotesque proposition, scaremongering by the weapons lobby and media to distract from corruption and mismanagement at home. Media war porn.

The same might be said of the F-35 Strike Fighter debacle and the BAE frigates scandal. Every large defence procurement is marred by billions of dollars in waste. But here’s the thing with the subs; there is a solid body of work which suggests submarines are already obsolete, nuclear or not. They can be tracked; they are a titanic waste of money.

The National Security College (Federal Government and ANU) published a working paper in May 2020 saying nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines will be detectable at sea.

Meanwhile, the French are complaining we owe them $US66 billion for reneging on the deal with Naval. That’s an ambit claim, to be sure. It might cost the government $5b-$10b all up, some already sunk, the rest to stave off an embarrassing court action; but the result so far is: one, no obsolete subs deal with the French, and two, only a mooted nuclear subs deal with the Brits and Americans which may never happen. Hopefully.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is close to BAE, the UK defence contractor whose nuclear subs program is struggling. The submarine program in the US too is foundering, so the game plan by our AUKUS partners is to rope in the dopey Aussies for a hundred billion dollars-plus to finance their distressed submarine sectors.

The doctrine of the gullible Aussie is getting airplay in the US press. According to war contractor expert Charles Tiefer in Forbes:

“Under the cloud of smoke around the Australian submarine deal, are the unspoken aspects of the enrichment of American military contractors. There is no public mention of which American contractors will build the expensive parts of the expensive Australian submarines.”

Both US submarine builder General Dynamics and its British counterpart BAE are looking for a new income stream from Downunder.

Should the Coalition stay true to its track record of dithering though, it may soon become evident that submarines in general are a leviathan waste of money and public money ought to be expended on something less wasteful. 

Scott Morrison might, unwittingly, have got it right. He might not have to spend much on submarines at all. The question then becomes, what has he got us into?

Back to the future

As three former prime ministers in Paul Keating, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd have already pointed out, AUKUS puts Australians in greater danger, renders Australia a vassal to foreign power and antagonises our neighbours in the region.

Depending on how you count them, there are probably already four US bases in operation now:

  • Pine Gap near Alice Springs, Northern Territory,
  • Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt, north of the town of Exmouth, Western Australia,
  • Robertson Barracks in Darwin, Northern Territory,
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station near Geraldton, WA.

However, the US military already has access to all major Australian Defence Force (ADF) training areas, northern Australian RAAF airfields, port facilities in Darwin and Fremantle, and probably future access too to an expanded Stirling naval base in Pe

Under AUKUS, this may just be the beginning. It was largely ignored during the AUKUS media blitz and the dramatic cuckolding of the French but Peter Dutton had this to say at his press conference on September 16,   

Unveiling plans for new facilities on Australian soil for US naval, air, and ground forces would entail “combined logistics, sustainment, and capability for maintenance to support our enhanced activities, including … for our submarines and surface combatants”. That is on top of “rotational deployments of all types of US military aircraft to Australia”.

If the plan is to shred Australia’s sovereignty and make us a target for China, he is succeeding with aplomb. We are about to be swamped by US military.

Forward to the past

It is poetic too, that at this very time we are striking even stronger and even more unnecessary ties with Westminster and Washington. Boris Johnson’s government is beset by the chaos which is Brexit, such chaos now that it has spawned a global energy emergency. While the EU has the wobbles on its trade deal with Australia, Boris is in the market for a friend.

It is poetic too, that at this very time we are striking even stronger and even more unnecessary ties with Westminster and Washington. Boris Johnson’s government is beset by the chaos which is Brexit, such chaos now that it has spawned a global energy emergency. While the EU has the wobbles on its trade deal with Australia, Boris is in the market for a friend…………   https://www.michaelwest.com.au/aukus-french-submarines-scott-morrison/

September 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear submarine deal a distraction from international climate action

the main focus of Australia’s government has remained on the continuing mining and export of fossil fuels (for reasons I’ve detailed in The Hill previously). Even while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in Washington his government was attempting to persuade the Australian States to adopt a “Coalkeeper” policy that seemingly would continue to protect the fossil fuel industry and constrain new renewable energy projects

Is Australia’s nuclear submarine deal a distraction from international climate action? The Hill,  BY DAVID SHEARMAN, — 09/28/21   Climate warming and environmental degradation are damaging humanity each and every day and all the decisions we make must be questioned for their human health and survival implications.

The fundamental issue at the UN climate conference COP26 is not the distant target of zero emissions by 2050 but the need to focus on the huge task of delivering emission reductions of 45 percent or more by 2030 to limit a temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Currently, the contribution of nations in the Paris Agreement will lead to an emissions rise of 16 percent and a 2.7 degree Celsius rise. 

Australia and indeed some other countries must ask themselves if nuclear submarines will be relevant to their likely plight in 2050 or whether the $90 billion (AUD) should be a small down payment on the huge ongoing costs of survival from the predicted climatic ravages which have already commenced worldwide. 

One positive has arisen from Australia’s shameful diplomatic treatment of France,  whose earlier defense deal with Australia was abruptly canceled and replaced with AUKUS. There will now be much greater scrutiny of the proposed Australia-EU trade deal to ensure Australia complies with climate and environmental needs, as well as with means to assess compliance.  Such pressure on Australia’s trading future is already having an impact on policy.

Impact on Australia’s Pacific policy

Trust and cooperation between Australia and France are essential for the needs of the Pacific Island nations. It had been expected that the French through their Pacific territories and commitment to climate change would encourage Australia to recognize its responsibilities.

Over many years, Australia has continued to dismiss the pleas of the islands for a climate policy that would help them avoid inundation. At the time of the 2019 Pacific Island Forum in low-lying Tuvalu, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack infamously said that Pacific island nations affected by the climate crisis will continue to survive “because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit.”…………

Even more shaming is Australian indifference to the needs of the Torres Strait Islanders who are the Indigenous peoples of this Australian territory. They have claimed before the UN Human Rights Committee that Australian inaction infringes their human rights. Australia has opposed their claim……… 

In 2050, conflicts will likely be within countries and between close neighbours over resources such as water and productive land — not based on nuclear threat. Defense services including those of the United States and China will be engulfed in saving lives and infrastructure from fire, flood, storm and drought.

Such conflicts are already with us and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cited war in Syria, Mali, Yemen, South Sudan and Ethiopia due to water shortages.

Currently, Australia spends $45 billion (AUD) or 2.1 percent of GDP on defense. It has spent $130 billion on the economic recovery from COVID-19 much by increasing gas mining for export, but less than 2 percent of which has been spent on solutions to reduce emissions and even less on climate adaptation. Indeed, Australia does not have a national coordinated national adaptation policy.

The relevant questions are whether the defesnse agreement between the U.S., UK and Australia to provide nuclear submarines, dubbed AUKUS, has encouraged or coerced Australia to accept and deliver even a 2050 emission target —and how Australia can now cooperate on emission reduction within the Asian Pacific region and particularly the Pacific Island States.

Impact on Australian climate policy

The AUKUS agreement has already resulted in the re-examination of climate policy but discussion has  been distracted by worries about AUKUS compromising our sovereignty in the event of armed conflict — and by the diplomatic failure to discuss the issue with Pacific neighbours. There are also concerns about the weakness of U.S. democracy and the possible irrationalities of any future president that could lead to Australian involvement in unnecessary conflict.

However, the main focus of Australia’s government has remained on the continuing mining and export of fossil fuels (for reasons I’ve detailed in The Hill previously). Even while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in Washington his government was attempting to persuade the Australian States to adopt a “Coalkeeper” policy that seemingly would continue to protect the fossil fuel industry and constrain new renewable energy projects

No wonder many Australian eyebrows were raised when U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hailed Australia as a global leader on climate change.

Currently, Australia is ranked 15 highest of 90 countries for domestic emissions and fifth or sixth if exports of fossil fuels are included. Clearly, Australia is the world’s laggard when the country has the wealth and expertise to take action.

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/574349-is-australias-nuclear-submarine-deal-a-distraction-from

September 30, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear news this week – submarines and more

Well, this is something of an overdose on nuclear submarines. Sorry, because, important though they are , especially for Australia, they are not the only issue for this week. It’s getting closer to the COP26 climate summit  (31 October – 12 November 2021).  Research shows that children will face more climate disasters than their grandparents did.  Lord Stern and Mary Robinson are among  the key people warning that Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil the aims of the Paris agreement, but they still offer hope.  The nuclear issue is a huge threat, but the world is awakening – too late, really, to global heating, and struggling to find ways to address it..   Of course, the pandemic is still there too

 
Women to bring a wake-up call
 to a world facing nuclear annihilation. 2030 . Jane Goodall launches effort in support of planting 1 trillion trees by 2030 . Young global climate strikers vow change is coming – from the streets

‘Humanity remains unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation, says UN chief on International Day. Security Council marks 25th anniversary of Test Ban Treaty with call for nuclear weapons-free worldThe Record-Breaking Failures and Costs of Nuclear Power.

Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare..

Going nuclear: the secret submarine deal to challenge China, PODCAST  Vatican concerned over deal for Australian nuclear-powered subs.

Interaction of Nuclear Waste With the Environment More Complicated Than Previously Thought.

Bitcoin miners strike deals with nuclear industry [on the ”clean energy” lie].

Novel chemical entities: Are we sleepwalking through a planetary boundary?


JAPAN
LDP candidates debate on nuke power must be based on realities. Japan’s election campaign – Liberal Democratic Party candidates’ differing views on nuclear recyclingNuclear submarine for Japan? Kono says yes, Kishida says no . Will Fukushima’s Water Dump Set a Risky Precedent?       More evac ation orders to be lifted in Fukushima for some areas.

FRANCEAUKUS deal leaves France out of South East Asian security arrangement.

GERMANYClimate change to loom large in talks to form new German government

  USA. 

UK. 

IRAN. Iran clearly wants to return to nuclear talks.   Iran and IAEA in new disagreement over nuclear monitoring.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea returns to its missile diplomacy.

UKRAINE. Chernobyl’s legacy recorded in trees.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. Already the ‘‘nuclear for climate for COP26 ” deceitful propaganda is underway, with a ”clean energy certificate”.

GERMANYIn ageing Germany, the young get desperate over climate .

BRAZIL.  Brazil might get nuclear-powered submarines even before Australia.

AUSTRALIA.
Nuclear submarines. – what it’s about Why America is ecstatic about Morrison’s AUKUS pact. Much posturing, but little content, on how AUKUS, and the nuclear submarines, will work. An incompetent threesome – Morrison, Biden; Johnson – out of their depth on nuclear submarine decision.


International ramifications
.  Talk of war with China reveals Australia’s delusions of grandeur.  What is the Quad?.   AUKUS and talk of conflict with China could torpedo COP26 climate summit.   AUKUS and confronting China throws fuel on the fire of Indo-Pacific tensions – an accelerating arms race will follow. France and other NATO members perturbed at the AUKUS agreement. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the defensive as Europe and South-East Asian countries react badly to AUKUS and the nuclear submarines. “Rolling amateur hour”: Kevin Rudd lashes Scott Morrison’s handling of nuclear subs deal.   

Deception and politics. Morrison and cronies have really botched this nuclear submarine deal. Deceived’: France says it had assurances from Australia on day subs deal cancelled. The Federal government’s nuclear submarine promotion masks a huge mess of its own making. Former Labor PM Paul Keating castigates Labor for supporting the Liberals’ AUKUS and submarine deal.


Highly Enriched Fuel (HEF) and related problems.  AUKUS, nuclear submarines, Highly Enriched Uranium and weapons proliferation.   .  Nuclear submarines – a step towards full nuclear chain, importing wastes, and joining in USA nuclear brinkmanship.    . Nuclear submarines must be ‘subject to rigorous parliamentary review’: Senator Rex Patrick.


Financial aspects. 
USA has conned Australia into paying for its super-costly nuclear submarine project. The massive subsidy to nuclear submarines must not be used to justify subsidy to nuclear power.   

Opposition to programme Former subs boss blasts ‘hocus pocus’ nuclear deal. Maritime and electrical trades unions stand against nuclear submarines.   Australia’s Nuclear-Sub Shakeup Hits Shipbuilding Supply Chain. Submarine shift puts thousands of jobs at risk: unions. No nuclear submarines, say protesters.

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil aims of Paris agreement, key players warn, but still offer hope

Some people would be disappointed by the admission that the high hopes for an outcome that would fulfil the Paris aspiration would not be met, said Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group, former UN climate envoy and former president of Ireland. “The NDCs will be disappointing, given the urgency and given the climate impacts. It is disappointing that leaders have not been able to step up enough. But the momentum will be there, and that’s very important. I am determined to be hopeful.”

Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil aims of Paris agreement, key players warn.   Major figures privately admit summit will fail to result in pledges that could limit global heating to 1.5C  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/27/cop26-climate-talks-will-not-fulfil-aims-of-paris-agreement-key-players-warn, Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent Mon 27 Sep 2021  Vital United Nations climate talks, billed as one of the last chances to stave off climate breakdown, will not produce the breakthrough needed to fulfil the aspiration of the Paris agreement, key players in the talks have conceded.

The UN, the UK hosts and other major figures involved in the talks have privately admitted that the original aim of the Cop26 summit will be missed, as the pledges on greenhouse gas emissions cuts from major economies will fall short of the halving of global emissions this decade needed to limit global heating to 1.5C.

Senior observers of the two-week summit due to take place in Glasgow this November with 30,000 attenders, said campaigners and some countries would be disappointed that the hoped-for outcome will fall short.

However, the UN, UK and US insisted that the broader goal of the conference – that of “keeping 1.5C alive” – was still in sight, and that world leaders meeting in Glasgow could still set a pathway for the future that would avoid the worst ravages of climate chaos.

That pathway, in the form of a “Glasgow pact”, would allow for future updates to emissions pledges in the next few years that could be sufficient for the world to stay within scientific advice on carbon levels.

A senior UN official said: “We are not going to get to a 45% reduction, but there must be some level of contributions on the table to show the downward trend of emissions.”

A UK official said: “Cop26 will not deliver all that we want [on emissions].” But the UK, charged as host with delivering a successful outcome, is hoping that progress will be made on other issues, including phasing out coal, providing climate finance to poor countries, and improving the protection of forests.

A US official told the Guardian countries must still aim as high as possible on emissions cuts: “We are going to try to achieve [the emissions cuts necessary]. No one in the administration wants to admit defeat before we have made the maximum effort. You should set an ambitious agenda and may have to, in the end, take baby steps but you should plan for long strides. We are taking long strides.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, the climate economist, said falling short on emissions plans should not be equated with failure. “I agree with [the UN] and most observers that we will not close that gap [between emissions pledges and scientific advice] completely,” he said. “But we should hope for good progress in closing that gap and we should hope for mechanisms and ways forward on how we close that gap further between now and 2025. That’s the way we should think about what is a good, or better, or worse result – a language of success or failure doesn’t seem to me to be very helpful.”

At the Paris climate summit in December 2015, 196 nations agreed to hold global temperature rises to “well below 2C” with an aspiration to limit rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But the pledges on emissions – known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs – they brought to the French capital were not enough to fulfil either goal, and would have led to catastrophic heating of at least 3C.

For that reason, the French hosts wrote into the agreement a “ratchet mechanism” that would require countries to return to the negotiating table every five years with fresh targets to meet the temperature goals. Cop26, which was postponed by a year because of Covid, is the fifth Cop – conference of the parties – since Paris.

Some people would be disappointed by the admission that the high hopes for an outcome that would fulfil the Paris aspiration would not be met, said Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group, former UN climate envoy and former president of Ireland. “The NDCs will be disappointing, given the urgency and given the climate impacts. It is disappointing that leaders have not been able to step up enough. But the momentum will be there, and that’s very important. I am determined to be hopeful.”

She said the original conception of the Paris agreement, of returning every five years, should be revised so that countries would be asked to return every year with their plans.

The UN takes a similar view. “The Paris agreement built this five-year cycle of ambition, but there is nothing preventing a country from reviewing and updating its NDC next year,” said the senior UN official.

“Cop26 is a very important milestone but it should not be seen as the end of the game, where we give up on 1.5C,” he added. “[It] will signal that 1.5C remains in reach [through] a combination of NDCs, negotiated outcomes and signals in the real economy.”

While the UK, the US and the EU have submitted NDCs requiring much stiffer cuts than those proposed at Paris, the world’s biggest emitter – China – has yet to submit an NDC, and has only indicated that it will cause emissions to peak by 2030, which experts said was not enough to hold the world to 1.5C.

Alok Sharma, the UK cabinet minister who is Cop26 president-designate, said: “Cop26 has always been about delivering urgent action to ensure we keep the path to a 1.5C world alive. Those nations which have submitted new and ambitious climate plans are already bending the curve of emissions downwards by 2030. But we continue to push for increased ambition from the G20 to urgently close the emissions gap. The clock is ticking, and Cop26 must be the turning point where we change the course of history for the better.”

China has still not said whether president Xi Jinping will attend Cop26, causing consternation among climate diplomats who fear China will make no major move at the summit. Relations with China and the US and the UK have been strained by the announcement of the Aukus defence pact with Australia, and by trade differences.

Other countries have also failed to come up with improved NDCs, including Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia. India is also the subject of intense diplomacy, as the world’s fourth-biggest emitter after the EU.

Campaigners said the focus should be on the biggest emitters. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, an activist for Fridays for Future in the Philippines, who joined the youth climate strike last Friday, said: “We have seen how big polluters, like the US and China, have promised and pledged less than what is needed from them in the past, yet have fallen short on those every time. Unlike the so-called leaders who like to cheer themselves on for subpar speeches [at the UN], the youth aren’t impressed.”

September 28, 2021 Posted by | climate change | 3 Comments

No quick fix. Reducing demand is the key to energy supply.

Let’s hope that in the final weeks before vital international climate talks in Glasgow our political leaders show that, although there can be no quick fixes to this crisis, they’ve finally understood the way through.

Only by reducing demand will gas supply no longer be an issue    For the electricity the UK will certainly need, we need to rapidly  ramp up the rollout of renewable energy projects   https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/opinion/gas-prices-energy-climate-crisis-b1927213.ht

Doug Parr , 27 Sep 21  As the effect of the gas price shock starts to seep into the lives of ordinary people over the coming weeks and months – causing bills to rise, energy suppliers to go bust and supermarket shelves to empty – many will be left wondering how the government could have allowed this to happen.

While it is true that a global surge in demand, coupled with geopolitical games and electricity supply issues in the UK have resulted in a squeeze   on supply and subsequent price hike, this is only half the story.

What ministers are failing to talk about as they reassure us that they do “not expect” supplies to run out this winter, is that it is not supply but the UK’s dependency on gas, and the failure of successive governments to wean us off the stuff years ago, that has left the UK dangerously exposed.

The UK is one of the most gas-dependent countries in Europe – more than four-fifths of homes are still heated by it and almost half of our electricity is produced by burning it. Failed government policy over decades must shoulder much of the blame. The UK has the least energy-efficient housing stock in western Europe. Yet, we still don’t have a programme in place to insulate the millions of homes across the country that desperately need retrofitting.

There’s a pattern to these mistakes. Earlier this year the government botched its Green Homes Grant programme, scrapping it after just six months. Before that George Osborne binned the Zero Carbon Homes initiative after years of development. Before that, David Cameron reportedly told ministers to “get rid of the green crap”.

Insulating the UK housing stock is essential – it would reduce our dependence on gas, our exposure to such price shocks, slash emissions, reduce fuel poverty and, as Greenpeace UK’s recent report pointed out, create up to 138,000 new jobs and inject almost £10bn into the economy.

The latter economic benefit would also require a mass rollout of heat pumps, which would further reduce our dependence on gas. But once again, poor policy decisions have gotten in the way. The UK is last when it comes to the sale per household of these sources of clean heating, behind Poland, Slovakia, Estonia and almost everyone else in Europe.

Those calling for an increase in domestic supply by expanding production in the North Sea or having another go at fracking are completely wrong. This is a price shock, not an availability shock so more domestic gas production can’t and won’t affect global or regional prices – and will have zero impact on the present crisis. Seeking more supply repeats the mistakes of the past.

It also won’t reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, which is fundamental to tackling the climate crisis and something the government is legally bound to do. Reducing demand is the only option to solve the problems of the UK’s gas exposure and the climate crisis simultaneously.

For the electricity the UK will certainly consume, we need to urgently push the rollout of renewable energy projects and the job opportunities that should come with them. The government loves to boast about its record on offshore wind, but it has stalled repeatedly when it comes to onshore wind and solar. The sooner we have a renewables sector that can cater to our energy needs the faster we relieve ourselves of the risks of gas dependence.

Investment in renewables must come with investment in a smarter, more flexible grid and better storage so that even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining, energy supplies and prices don’t become a problem.

New nuclear power cannot realistically help. Continual cost escalation and ever-increasing delivery timeframes have proven that it is not a viable alternative to fossil fuels. According to EDF the next UK plant that could be approved wouldn’t be up and running until 2034 and that’s assuming none of the usual long delays. We can’t wait 13 years or more for a magic nuclear bullet, even if the issues such as waste can be solved.

Aside from taking the shackles off the construction of new renewables power, the upcoming Spending Review is the government’s chance to start righting past wrongs on energy efficiency. Rishi Sunak must commit to an extra £12bn of public investment for the rest of this parliament to improve energy efficiency, green our homes. We also need to properly fund a just transition for fossil fuel workers.

Boris Johnson has spoken at the UN this week of his “frustration” with world leaders at not taking climate change seriously enough. So he must be livid with his government departments, especially the Treasury, for the missteps over the last few years which have over-exposed the electorate and economy to expensive, climate-wrecking fossil gas.

Let’s hope that in the final weeks before vital international climate talks in Glasgow our political leaders show that, although there can be no quick fixes to this crisis, they’ve finally understood the way through.

Dr Doug Parr is Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist

September 28, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | 1 Comment

Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare. 

The history of nuclear power’s imagined future: Plutonium’s journey from asset to waste, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By William Walker, September 7, 2021 

Bill Gates is deluded in believing that the plutonium-fuelled, sodium-cooled, “Versatile Power Reactor” in which his company Terrapower is involved, has a commercial future.[18] His support is also unwelcome insofar as it helps to perpetuate the myth that plutonium is a valuable fuel, posing acceptable risks to public safety and international security. Reprocessing is a waste-producing, not an asset-creating, technology. It adds cost rather than value. It merits no future when seen in this way.

‘ ………..Plutonium’s history  and its legacies are the subject of a recent book by Frank von Hippel, Masafumi Takubo and Jungmin Kang.[1] Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare. It is an impressive study of technological struggle and ultimate failure, and of plutonium’s journey from regard as a vital energy asset to an eternally troublesome waste

Toward heaven or hell?  The conflict over plutonium’s future…………..

From creation of a future to preservation of the present

Construction of the British and French reprocessing plants at Sellafield and Cap de la Hague proceeded throughout the 1980s.[6] Their primary justification—preparing for the introduction of fast breeder reactors—had lost all credibility by the time of their completion. The German, British and French breeder programs had been cut back, soon to be abandoned, and in 1988 Germany cancelled plans to build its own bulk reprocessing plant at Wackersorf. Although Japan’s confidence in its fast breeder reactor program also waned, it was kept alive to avoid disrupting construction of the reprocessing plant at Rokkasho-mura.

Faced by the plutonium economy’s demise, reprocessing was re-purposed by its supporters to provide the industry and its governmental backers with reason not to do the obvious—abandon ship. Creating an essential future was replaced by a rationale designed to preserve and activate the newly established reprocessing infrastructures. ……. plutonium’s energy value could be realised through its replacement of fissile uranium in “mixed-oxide fuels” for use in existing thermal reactors………

Thirty years after the Euro-Japanese reprocessing/recycling system’s launch, the experiment can only be judged a failure. The reasons are set out in persuasive detail in von Hippel, Takubo and Kang’s book. It is a system undergoing irreversible contraction after a long struggle, involving heavy expenditure and many troubles. Germany and the UK have already exited, the UK shutting its THORP reprocessing plant in 2018 and delaying its Magnox reprocessing plant’s closure only because of the coronavirus pandemic.[9] Instead, its Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been given the costly (more than $138 billion) and long-lasting (more than 100 years) task of returning Sellafield and Dounreay to “green-field sites.”

Japan’s engagement with reprocessing and plutonium recycling was already deeply troubled before the Fukushima accident closed reactors: The Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant was operating only fitfully, MOX recycling was not happening, and plutonium separated from Japanese spent fuels in France and the UK was marooned there, probably indefinitely, by inability to manage its return in MOX fuel (cutting a very long story short).[10] The declared intention to soldier on with bulk reprocessing seems increasingly bizarre and is surely unsustainable. ……….

France’s national utility EDF, saddled with enormous debts, is striving to reduce its exposure to reprocessing.  It is symptomatic that no spent fuel discharged from EDF-owned and -operated reactors in the UK, including those under construction at Hinkley Point, will be reprocessed………

The move away from reprocessing is being accompanied by a transition towards dry-cask storage of spent fuels. It entails their removal from water pools at reactors after a few years’ cooling and their insertion in large concrete or stainless steel containers, ………

 Reprocessing continues in India and Russia, if fitfully, where fast reactor programmes are still being funded. Japan’s commitment remains. ………

There is particular concern about China’s engagement with reprocessing and its dual civil and military purposes…………

……………. Separated plutonium is a waste

The authors remind readers of the persistent dangers that reprocessing poses to public safety and international security: the risks of accident and exposure to radiation, the proliferation of weapons, the possibility of diversion into nuclear terrorism, and the undesirable complication of radioactive waste disposal. “In our view, it is time to ban the separation of plutonium for any purpose” (their italics) is their concluding sentence. This may be the case, but the US and other governments are unlikely to respond to their call. They have so much else to contend with—climate change, pandemics, economic distress, arms racing on a long list—leaving a ban on plutonium separation low in their priorities. They are also all too aware of past failures to institute such bans,  whether in commercial or military domains, from the Carter Policy in the 1970s to the stalled Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty in the 1990s and subsequently.

Another conclusion cries out to be drawn from this book. Plutonium’s separation and usage for energy purposes was an experiment that can now decisively be pronounced a failure.  Experience has shown that separated civil plutonium is a waste. The book’s first of many figures, reproduced below,  is the most telling. Up to the mid-1980s, the global stock of separated plutonium was predominately military and held in warheads, peaking at around 200 tons. It now exceeds 500 tons. The increase is due to the ballooning of civil stocks as plutonium’s separation has outstripped consumption. The global stock of separated plutonium now includes material extracted from the post-Cold War dismantlement of Russian and US nuclear warheads that is also effectively a waste.[16]

Civil plutonium is therefore not an asset, it is not “surplus to requirement;” it is a waste.  This is the message that needs to be proclaimed and acknowledged, especially by governments, utilities, and industries desiring that nuclear power have a solid future and make a contribution to the avoidance of global warming. For reasons set out in von Hippel’s recent article in the Bulletin, Bill Gates is deluded in believing that the plutonium-fuelled, sodium-cooled, “Versatile Power Reactor” in which his company Terrapower is involved, has a commercial future.[18] His support is also unwelcome insofar as it helps to perpetuate the myth that plutonium is a valuable fuel, posing acceptable risks to public safety and international security. Reprocessing is a waste-producing, not an asset-creating, technology. It adds cost rather than value. It merits no future when seen in this way.

Even if all civil reprocessing ceased tomorrow, the experiment would have bequeathed the onerous task of guarding and disposing of over 300 tons of plutonium waste, and considerably more when US and Russia’s military excess is added in. Proposals come and go.  Burn it in specially designed reactors? Blend it with other radioactive wastes? Bury it underground after some form of immobilization? Send it into space? All options are costly and hard to implement. Lacking ready solutions, most plutonium waste will probably remain in store above ground for decades to come, risking neglect. How to render this dangerous waste eternally safe and secure is now the question.     Extensive References . https://thebulletin.org/premium/2021-09/the-history-of-nuclear-powers-imagined-future-plutoniums-journey-from-asset-to-waste/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ThursdayNewsletter09272021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_HistoryOfNuclearPowersImagined_09102021


September 28, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD, Reference | Leave a comment

AUKUS and confronting China throws fuel on the fire of Indo-Pacific tensions. An accelerating arms race will follow.

Australia commits fully to China containment

Canberra is now a fully paid-up member of a China containment front, whether it wants to admit it, or not. In the process, it has yielded sovereignty to the US by committing itself to an interlocking web of military procurement decisions that includes the acquisition of a nuclear-propelled submarine fleet.

New drives to counter China come with a major risk: throwing fuel on the Indo-Pacific arms race  SMH, Tony Walker Tony Walker is a Friend of The Conversation.Vice-chancellor’s fellow, La Trobe University September 27, 2021 An accelerating arms race in the Indo-Pacific is all but guaranteed now that China finds itself a target of new security arrangements — AUKUS and the Quad — aimed at containing its power and influence.

This has the makings of a new great game in the region in which rival powers are no longer in the business of pretending things can continue as they are.

The AUKUS agreement, involving Australia, the US and UK to counter China’s rise means a military power balance in the Indo-Pacific will come more sharply into focus.

The region has been re-arming at rates faster than other parts of the world due largely to China’s push to modernise its defence capabilities.

In their latest surveys, the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report no let-up in military spending in the Indo-Pacific. This is despite the pandemic.

SIPRI notes a 47% increase in defence spending in the Indo-Pacific in the past decade, led by China and India.

China can be expected to respond to threats posed by the new security arrangements by further expediting its military program.

It will see the formation of AUKUS as yet another attempt to contain its ambitions — and therefore a challenge to its military capabilities.

The Quad makes clear its ambitions

Unambiguously, AUKUS implies a containment policy.

Likewise, the further elevation of the Quad security grouping into a China containment front will play into an atmosphere of heightened security anxiety in the Indo-Pacific.

The four Quad participants – the US, Japan, India and Australia – have their own reasons and agendas for wanting to push back against China.

After their summit last week in Washington, the Quad leaders used words in their joint statement that might be regarded as unexceptional in isolation.

Together with other developments such as AUKUS, however, the language was pointed, to say the least:

Together, we re-commit to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The “beyond” part of the statement was not expanded on, but might be read as a commitment to extend the Quad collaboration globally.

All this has come together at the dawn of a new US administration whose members include several conspicuous China hawks, and at a moment when China has shown itself to be ever-willing to throw its weight around.

Beijing’s crude campaign against Australian exports in an effort to bend Australia’s policy to its will is a prime example. It is doubtful an AUKUS or an invigorated Quad would have emerged without this development.

The Obama administration talked about pivoting to the Asia-Pacific without putting much meat on the bones.

Under President Joe Biden, this shift will be driven by a hardening in American thinking that now recognises time is running out, and may already have expired, in the US ability to constrain China’s rise.

These are profound geopolitical moments whose trajectory is impossible to predict.

Australia commits fully to China containment

Canberra is now a fully paid-up member of a China containment front, whether it wants to admit it, or not. In the process, it has yielded sovereignty to the US by committing itself to an interlocking web of military procurement decisions that includes the acquisition of a nuclear-propelled submarine fleet.

Whether these submarines are supplied by the US or Britain is a bit immaterial since the technology involved originates in America.

The submarines will not be available for the better part of two decades under the most optimistic forecasts. However, in the meantime, Australia could base US or British submarines in its ports or lease American submarines.

Meanwhile, Australia is committing itself to a range of US-supplied hardware aimed at enhancing the inter-operability of its military with the US.

This is the reality of fateful decisions taken by the Morrison government in recent months. Such a commitment involves a certain level of confidence in America remaining a predictable and steadfast superpower, and not one riven by internal disputes.

Australian defence spending likely to rise. What is absolutely certain in all of this is that an Indo-Pacific security environment will now become more, not less, contentious. …………………………………

What other Indo-Pacific nations are doing

Many other Indo-Pacific states can now be expected to review their military acquisition programs with the likelihood of a more combative security environment.

Taiwan, for example, is proposing to spend $US8.69 billion (A$11.9 billion) over the next five years on long-range missiles, and increase its inventory of cruise missiles. It is also adding to its arsenal of heavy artillery.

South Korea is actively adding to its missile capabilities. This includes the testing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Seoul has also hinted it might be considering building its own nuclear-propelled submarines (this was among President Moon Jae-in’s election pledges in 2017). Signs that North Korea may have developed a submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles will be concentrating minds in Seoul.

All this indicates how quickly the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific is shifting.

Australia — perhaps more so than others — is the prime example of a regional player that has put aside a conventional view of a region in flux. It now sees an environment so threatening that a policy of strategic ambiguity between its custodial partner (the US) and most important trade relationship (China) has been abandoned.  
The price tag for this in terms of equipment and likely continuing economic fallout for Australian exporters will not come cheap.   https://theconversation.com/new-drives-to-counter-china-come-with-a-major-risk-throwing-fuel-on-the-indo-pacific-arms-race-168734

September 28, 2021 Posted by | ASIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why America is ecstatic about Morrison’s AUKUS pact

Why Washington was so ecstatic about Morrison’s AUKUS pact,  SMH, 28 Sept 21,

Political and international editor  ”………….. For many years, a critical element of American war planning has been to defeat China’s navy by bottling it up in the shallow waters of the South China Sea.

It would do this by blocking choke-points that allow passage in and out. And submarines are the most effective tool for achieving this.

If much of China’s navy is contained in those coastal waters, it’s relatively easy for the US to find and destroy. China’s submarines are at their most vulnerable in the shallow littorals nearest their homeland. It’s easier to shoot fish in a barrel than in a pond.

“US forces and their allies will stand a far greater chance of finding Chinese submarines, hemmed into the South China Sea, than China will of finding America’s in the vast Pacific,” as Rory Medcalf of the ANU’s National Security College puts it.

This helps explain why Beijing has put such effort into asserting control of the South China Sea and, just to its north, the East China Sea.    In the event of a crisis, China’s priority is to scramble its submarines well beyond the first island chain into the deep waters of the Pacific where they can operate freely, concealed and lethal.

……………In the event of all-out war, the US wants Tokyo’s 22 subs and Canberra’s six to complement the US fleet of 68. Japan’s have been pencilled in to operate in the north and Australia’s in the south.

This is where AUKUS come in. It includes in-principle agreement from Washington and London to supply Australia with nuclear propulsion technology for a new fleet of eight submarines instead of the planned 12 diesel-electric subs, now ditched.

Why was this greeted rapturously in Washington? “The long-term prospect of eight nuclear-powered RAN subs prowling the Pacific resets the naval balance of power,” says Mike Green of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

…….. Australian officials say it will take almost 20 years to actually get the first Australian-built, nuclear propelled sub into the water. ……. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s subs expert, Marcus Hellyer says that the only plausible way that Australia could put a nuclear-powered sub in the water in time to be relevant to the looming US-China contest would be if America handed over some of its ageing Los Angeles class subs. The Pentagon is currently pensioning them off. They’d need to be refurbished. But that’d still be a lot faster, taking years rather than the decades of waiting for the first Australian-made one…..

And AUKUS is about much more than subs. “It’s about areas like cyber and emerging technologies…….https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-washington-was-so-ecstatic-about-morrison-s-aukus-pact-20210927-p58v3c.html

September 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUKUS deal leaves France out of South East Asian security arrangement.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the three nations had agreed to “a new enhanced trilateral security partnership”.


The subtext of France and Australia’s submarine deal,
Aljazeera, 27 Sep 21,

What do a new security pact and a cancelled military contract say about France’s place in the world?    It was supposed to be an announcement of a pact, not the start of a foreign relations crisis between allies. But as Australia announced a new security partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States, dubbed AUKUS, it also cancelled a multibillion-dollar contract to buy submarines from France. So how did an abandoned deal for a dozen submarines turn in to the diplomatic version of a lover’s quarrel?Australia’s decision to cancel a multibillion-dollar order for French submarines in favour of American and British technology has sparked a diplomatic row of unprecedented proportions between longtime Western allies.

The French foreign ministry recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia citing “duplicity, disdain and lies”.
China’s Xi warns of ‘interference’ as Australia brushes off angerHundreds arrested in Australian anti-lockdown protestsFrance accuses Australia, US of ‘lying’ over submarine deal

Alongside the economic damage for tens of billions of euros, France said it resents the way Australia and its partners have handled the matter. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, said, “There has been contempt so it’s not going well between us, not at all.”

President Emmanuel Macron will have a call with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in the next few days, the French government said on Sunday.

Australia’s strategic alignment

Australia announced on Wednesday it would ditch a contract worth more than 50 billion euros ($59bn) to acquire 12 French-made diesel-electric submarines.

Instead, it will commission at least eight US nuclear-powered submarines in the framework of a new alliance – known by its acronym AUKUS – which will see Australia, the US, and the United Kingdom share advanced technologies with one another.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the three nations had agreed to “a new enhanced trilateral security partnership”.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | ASIA, France, politics international | Leave a comment