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After the Afghanistan war, the time for change is now.

After Afghanistan . . . a Truth Commission?. Wednesday, http://commonwonders.com/after-afghanistan-a-truth-commission/ September 1st, 2021  By Robert C. Koehler

Let’s open the books, declassify the secrets and lies, let our vets talk about PTSD and moral injury, let refugees talk about loved ones found in the rubble, let the corporate militarists disclose their finances, and demand full coverage by the media.

The first step in ending war is seeing it for what it is. I realize how terrifying this must seem to those who have secrets to hide, to those who have accepted the façade of idealism — “we’re fighting for freedom!” — and allowed this façade to justify murder. But the point isn’t condemnation. The point is transcendence.

“Ten members of one family — including seven children — are dead after a US drone strike targeting a vehicle in a residential neighborhood of Kabul . . .

“The youngest victims of Sunday’s airstrike were two 2-year-old girls, according to family members.

“Relatives found the remains of one of the girls, Malika, in the rubble near their home on Monday.”

Ho hum, life goes on — especially if you call it collateral damage and refuse to imagine the corpse of your own loved one lying in the rubble. The deaths, described in a brief CNN story, resulted from a retaliatory airstrike following the ISIS suicide bombing at the Kabul airport last week, as the U.S. was allegedly ending its 20-year war with Afghanistan . . . 80,000 bombs dropped, several hundred thousand people killed, 2.3 trillion dollars wasted, a country left utterly shattered and impoverished.

The secret to waging war, especially endless war, involves sweeping all this cold, hard data out of the public consciousness. It also involves maintaining a total disconnect between one’s own acts of violence and those perpetrated by the enemy (the enemy is motivated solely by immoral interests, not by retaliatory outrage). And above all, perhaps, it involves never acknowledging one’s own economic and geopolitical interests in a given conflict, but endlessly blathering about our ideals and the need to “fulfill our mission.” Indeed, in Afghanistan, as in Iraq (or Vietnam), our mission could have been code-named Casper the Friendly Ghost, so lacking was it in actual substance.

Such rules, of course, must be followed not simply by governmental spokespersons but by the mainstream media. If we all love our wars, we won’t be living in a “divided nation.”

“The rapid reconquest of the capital, Kabul, by the Taliban after two decades of a staggeringly expensive, bloody effort to establish a secular government with functioning security forces in Afghanistan is, above all, unutterably tragic.

“Tragic because the American dream of being the ‘indispensable nation’ in shaping a world where the values of civil rights, women’s empowerment and religious tolerance rule proved to be just that: a dream.”

The takeaway here, of course, is that nothing has been learned, the annual U.S. military budget is still in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars, and China looms as our potential next enemy — that is, the challenger to our global idealism. We want to empower women, for God’s sake, and we’ll drop as many bombs as necessary to give them — at least those who survive — the right to get an education.

What seems not to be part of the editorial board’s sense of unutterable tragedy is this:

At the conclusion of twenty years of occupation and at a cost of one to two trillion dollars,” write Ben Phillips and Jonathan Glennie at Inter Press Service, “Afghanistan has been left the poorest country per capita in Asia; the number of Afghans in poverty has doubled; half of the population is dependent on humanitarian assistance; half lack access to drinkable water; poppy cultivation has trebled and opium production is at its height.”

And as Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies point out, “Even as UN agencies warn of an impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the U.S. Treasury has frozen nearly all of the Afghan Central Bank’s $9.4 billion in foreign currency reserves, depriving the new government of funds that it will desperately need in the coming months to feed its people and provide basic services.

“. . .instead of atoning for our role in keeping most Afghans mired in poverty, Western leaders are now cutting off desperately needed economic and humanitarian aid that was funding three quarters of Afghanistan’s public sector and made up 40 percent of its total GDP.”

While President Biden’s decision to end the 20-year war is necessary and no doubt politically courageous, it’s not enough. Many — perhaps a majority — of Americans know this, but . . . so what? Militarism, and its corporate beneficiaries, still rule, basically with a public shrug of “that’s just the way it is.”

This. Must. Change.

And I believe the time for change is now. The American empire is floundering in chaos of its own making and progressives are claiming political traction. After Biden announced the withdrawal, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted: “America’s longest war is finally over. As we continue working to help our allies and welcome Afghan refugees with open arms, let’s also commit to stopping endless wars once and for all.”

And Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-California) said, “The answer cannot be more war and violence. The answer cannot be launching more ineffective and unaccountable counterterrorism operations.” She added, according to Truthout, that the United States “owes it to all those who lost their lives to not commit the same mistakes” in the wake of Sept. 11.

Let us not let such words evaporate as soon as we declare our next enemy. Simply suggesting change — wishing and hoping for it — is never adequate. Overcoming war is probably as enormous an effort as waging it, and perhaps one place to start is with . . . get ready: a truth commission. Truly, truly the time has come to make all the realities of war, horrific and otherwise, fully public,

Let’s open the books, declassify the secrets and lies, let our vets talk about PTSD and moral injury, let refugees talk about loved ones found in the rubble, let the corporate militarists disclose their finances, and demand full coverage by the media.

The first step in ending war is seeing it for what it is. I realize how terrifying this must seem to those who have secrets to hide, to those who have accepted the façade of idealism — “we’re fighting for freedom!” — and allowed this façade to justify murder. But the point isn’t condemnation. The point is transcendence.

September 2, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Advanced nuclear reactors need the government to create a market – nuclear loves socialism

……….………. Advanced reactors are in a position where they need a HALEU supply for commercialization of their technology to be possible, but there needs to be commercial market with demand for the fuel in place for the HALEU supply to get off the ground, according to nuclear engineer Matthew Corradini, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. “It’s a chicken and egg situation,” he said

One solution proposed by NEI is for the federal government to create the market ………….

Nuclear reactors of the future have a fuel problem, Utility Dive

Higher levels of uranium enrichment can unlock value from smaller and simpler reactors, but they come with new hurdles that the nuclear industry says only the federal government can address. Aug. 30, 2021 By Matthew Bandyk

President Joe Biden entered office being hailed by nuclear power advocates as perhaps the most pro-nuclear-energy president ever. He followed up his campaign trail discussions of nuclear energy as a necessary source of carbon-free emissions with a budget that proposed a record-setting $1.85 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy

But many in the nuclear industry are concerned that the budget does not sufficiently address a problem that could prevent nuclear reactors of the future from being able to function. The impasse would stand even if technological advancements to make nuclear energy technology cheaper and easier to operate are realized. Some of the most prominent of these next-generation reactor designs can only run on a fuel for which there is no commercial supply chain currently — and building that supply chain could take years and lots of political will, according to reactor developers and nuclear fuel supply companies alike.

The nuclear industry, beset by massive cost overruns in the construction of current-generation reactors, has placed its hopes for new nuclear capacity in “advanced” or “next-generation” reactor designs, a broad category that includes everything from smaller versions of conventional light-water reactors to designs that eschew water entirely in favor of other cooling substances in the nuclear core like helium or salt. These reactors have the potential to help achieve decarbonization goals [an unlikely claim, and certainly not in time for the urgent climate need] by replacing fossil fuel plants, powering the production of clean hydrogen and firming renewable energy, among other possibilities. Several companies are developing designs and targeting deployment of their first commercial demonstration projects over the next decade.

Both the Biden and Trump administrations have supported research and development efforts toward advanced reactors, and Congress has passed legislation intended to streamline the regulatory path ahead. But the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the primary trade association for the nuclear industry, argues that if advanced reactors are to succeed, the federal government needs to do much more to create a domestic market for this fuel. “The commercialization of many advanced nuclear technologies is in jeopardy,” NEI President and CEO Maria Korsnick said in a 2020 letter to then-U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

The biggest policy change advocated by NEI is for the federal government to sign a contract with a nuclear fuel supplier to essentially create a new market.

Both the Biden and Trump administrations have supported research and development efforts toward advanced reactors, and Congress has passed legislation intended to streamline the regulatory path ahead. But the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the primary trade association for the nuclear industry, argues that if advanced reactors are to succeed, the federal government needs to do much more to create a domestic market for this fuel. “The commercialization of many advanced nuclear technologies is in jeopardy,” NEI President and CEO Maria Korsnick said in a 2020 letter to then-U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

What is HALEU?

What most of the advanced reactor developers seeking Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval have in common, however, is that they would not be fueled by the form of uranium used in most nuclear power plants operating around the world today. Rather, they would use a form that is more highly enriched — or, to be more specific, has been made into a more fissionable form by using technology such as centrifuges to alter the balance of protons and neutrons in the uranium……….

TerraPower, the Bill Gates-funded startup that is developing the Natrium sodium fast reactor with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, is also banking on HALEU. While, at 345-MW, the Natrium reactor is much larger than Oklo’s, TerraPower’s design also relies on the high uranium-235 content of HALEU to allow the reactor to run efficiently, particularly when ramping up or down to follow changes in load driven by renewable energy. TerraPower declined to comment for this story. The startup and Centrus have said they plan to work together to expand HALEU production after Centrus’s DOE contract ends in 2022.

……………….. Advanced reactors are in a position where they need a HALEU supply for commercialization of their technology to be possible, but there needs to be commercial market with demand for the fuel in place for the HALEU supply to get off the ground, according to nuclear engineer Matthew Corradini, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. “It’s a chicken and egg situation,” he said

One solution proposed by NEI is for the federal government to create the market ………….   https://www.utilitydive.com/news/nuclear-reactors-of-the-future-have-a-fuel-problem/604707/

September 2, 2021 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Since 9/11, US Has Spent $21 Trillion on Militarism at Home and Abroad

Since 9/11, US Has Spent $21 Trillion on Militarism at Home and Abroad  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/09/01/911-us-has-spent-21-trillion-militarism-home-and-abroad“Our $21 trillion investment in militarism has cost far more than dollars.” JAKE JOHNSONSeptember 1, 2021

In the 20 years since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has spent more than $21 trillion at home and overseas on militaristic policies that led to the creation of a vast surveillance apparatus, worsened mass incarceration, intensified the war on immigrant communities, and caused incalculable human suffering in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere.

According to State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11 (pdf), a report released Wednesday by the National Priorities Project, the U.S. government’s so-called “War on Terror” has “remade the U.S. into a more militarized actor both around the world and at home” by pouring vast resources into the Pentagon, federal law enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency established in response to the September 11 attacks.

Released in the wake of the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after two decades of devastating war and occupation, the new report argues that the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country “raises deep questions about our military investments to date.”

“Twenty years ago, we were promised a vision of the War on Terror that did not come to pass: that Afghanistan would not become a quagmire, or that the Iraq War would be over in ‘five weeks or five days or five months’ and cost a mere $60 billion,” the report notes. “As the country went to war and refocused domestic security spending on terrorism, few had any inkling of the far-reaching ramifications for the military, veterans, immigration, or domestic law enforcement.”

The National Priorities Project (NPP), an initiative of the Institute for Policy Studies, estimates that of the $21 trillion the U.S. invested in “foreign and domestic militarization” in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, $16 trillion went to the military, $3 trillion to veterans’ programs, $949 billion to DHS, and $732 billion to federal law enforcement.

In addition to fueling death and destruction overseas, the new report stresses that spending on overseas wars heightened domestic militarization, making police crackdowns on dissent at home even more violent.

There is evidence that the War on Terror drove transfers of military equipment to police, as surges ended and the Pentagon looked to divest from surplus equipment,” the analysis notes. “Transfers in 2010, when the military was still deeply engaged in the War on Terror, totaled $30 million. Over the next few years, the U.S. pulled forces out of Iraq, and military equipment transfers skyrocketed, peaking at $386 million in 2014. Today, transfers are still far higher than they were early in the War on Terror, totaling $152 million in 2020 and $101 million in just the first half of 2021.”

Lindsay Koshgarian, program director of NPP and lead author of the new report, said in a statement Wednesday that “our $21 trillion investment in militarism has cost far more than dollars.”

There is evidence that the War on Terror drove transfers of military equipment to police, as surges ended and the Pentagon looked to divest from surplus equipment,” the analysis notes. “Transfers in 2010, when the military was still deeply engaged in the War on Terror, totaled $30 million. Over the next few years, the U.S. pulled forces out of Iraq, and military equipment transfers skyrocketed, peaking at $386 million in 2014. Today, transfers are still far higher than they were early in the War on Terror, totaling $152 million in 2020 and $101 million in just the first half of 2021.”

Lindsay Koshgarian, program director of NPP and lead author of the new report, said in a statement Wednesday that “our $21 trillion investment in militarism has cost far more than dollars.”

  • $4.5 trillion could fully decarbonize the U.S. electric grid;
  • $2.3 trillion could create five million $15-per-hour jobs with benefits and cost-of-living adjustments for 10 years;
  • $1.7 trillion could erase student debt;
  • $449 billion could continue the extended Child Tax Credit for another 10 years;
  • $200 billion could guarantee free preschool for every 3-and-4-year old for 10 years, and raise teacher pay; and
  • $25 billion could provide Covid vaccines for the population of low-income countries.
  • The NPP report was published on same day that Brown University’s Costs of War Project released a new analysis estimating that U.S.-led post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have killed at least 929,000 people—a figure deemed likely to be a “vast undercount”—and cost more than $8 trillion.”The end of the war in Afghanistan represents a chance to reinvest in our real needs,” Koshgarian said Wednesday. “Twenty years from now, we could live in a world made safer by investments in infrastructure, job creation, support for families, public health, and new energy systems, if we are willing to take a hard look at our priorities.”

September 2, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Oblivion and 9 Other Best Dystopian Films About Nuclear War

Oblivion & 9 Other Best Dystopian Films About Nuclear War

Whether they show the build-up, detonation, or aftermath of a nuclear war, these movies portray those disasters better than others. Screen Rant BY TRICIA MAWIRE, 1 Sept 21,  Nothing is more thrilling and simultaneously terrifying like a film about nuclear war. From the build-up to the detonation and aftermath of the attack, every minute is an emotional experience using fiction to show the grim reality of such a disaster. Although not all these movies show a post-apocalyptic dystopian world, those that do paint quite a picture of what life would be like when disaster strikes.

……On The Beach (1959)………………    . With the central theme being the end of the world, there are no happy endings in this one, even for the romance storyline which has a tragic ending.   


Dr. Strangelove (1964)……….  As one of Stanley Kubrick’s best productions, the film combines humor and the doom and gloom of nuclear warfare to create a feeling of comic dread throughout its run. ……..


Testament (1983)…………. Testament is an emotionally devastating film with an accurate depiction of the fallout of a nuclear war. The factual accuracy of the impact and effects of such a disaster are haunting, leaving a heartwrenching image in the minds of all who watch the movie.

Special Bulletin (1983)………. a group of terrorists threatens to detonate a homemade nuclear device if the U.S. government doesn’t agree to hand over the triggers for their nuclear weapons. 
The Day After (1983)………  depicts ordinary people living their lives, the terrifying build-up to the disaster, and the aftermath of the nuclear attack. This approach shows the audience how easily an ordinary day can turn tragic within seconds.

Threads (1984)……….. 
 struggles to survive the post-apocalyptic world where food has become the only thing of value and the cause of many fights……  Most dystopian movies about nuclear war have a grim tone, but Threads takes it a notch higher. It shows the horrifying reality of a nuclear war, highlighting the message that no one wins when it comes to such a tragedy. From the beginning right until the heartbreaking end, Threads is unrelentingly dreadful.

When The Wind Blows (1986)……..Despite the animated nature of the film, it captures the couple’s emotions throughout the attack in a way that’s touching and relatable……Miracle Mile (1988)………. mainly focuses on the leading moments before the attack, capturing Harry’s panic and the doubts of the unconfirmed attack he keeps warning others about….

The Divide (2011) ………. an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic world that captures the sentiment “survival of the fittest” in a brutal way. It holds the audience’s attention but is one of those creepy movies fans wouldn’t watch twice.

Oblivion (2013)……  
 The post-apocalyptic action flick paints a gruesome picture of a war-torn planet….  https://screenrant.com/oblivion-best-dystopian-films-about-nuclear-war/

September 2, 2021 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Not Seeing the Contaminated Forest for the Decontaminated Trees in Fukushima — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Robert Jacobs Abstract: This article explores how the models of medical risk from radiation established in the aftermath of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are insufficient for understanding the risks faced by people in contaminated environments like Fukushima. These models focus exclusively on levels of external radiation, while the risk faced by people […]

Not Seeing the Contaminated Forest for the Decontaminated Trees in Fukushima — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

September 2, 2021 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

UK might have to move its nuclear submarines overseas, if Scotland gains independence.

MoD could move UK nuclear subs abroad if Scotland breaks away Contingency plans for Trident look at US and French bases if no long-term lease possible on navy facilities like Faslane Ft.com  Sebastian Payne and Helen Warrell in London, and Mure Dickie in Edinburgh. 1 Sept 21,

The UK has drawn up secret contingency plans to move its Trident nuclear submarine bases from Scotland to the US or France in the event of Scottish independence. Another option under consideration is for the UK to seek a long-term lease for the Royal Navy’s nuclear bases at their current location in Faslane and Coulport on the west coast of Scotland. This would create a British territory within the borders of a newly separate Scotland, said people briefed on the plans. 
 The UK government is fiercely opposed to Scottish independence but the prospect of a potential break-up of the Union is worrying Whitehall. The governing Scottish National party returned to power in May and has pledged to ban all nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland.  

Several senior officials told the Financial Times that the contingency plans for moving the submarines underscored the difficult choices ministers will have to make for Britain’s nuclear programme after a potential Scottish breakaway. The exercise was undertaken recently, said people briefed on the plans, although one senior government official disputed the timing. The exercise concluded that the Trident programme would have three options after the formation of an anti-nuclear independent Scottish state. The first would be to relocate the bases elsewhere on the British Isles, with the Royal Navy’s Devonport base cited as the most likely location to replace Faslane.  

  An analysis by the Royal United Services Institute think-tank written just ahead of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum estimated the relocation costs of such a move at £3bn to £4bn.    

The second option would be to move the UK’s nuclear bases to an allied country such as the US, with one defence expert citing Kings Bay, Georgia, the base for the US Navy’s Atlantic fleet of Trident submarines. Officials also examined moving the UK’s submarine base to Île Longue in Brittany, France. Moving the bases to the US is the preferred option of the UK Treasury, as it would require minimal capital investment, according to officials. But basing Trident outside Britain could be politically difficult, as it would likely be viewed as a threat to defence sovereignty. 
 The third option is to negotiate a new British Overseas Territory within an independent Scottish state that would contain the Faslane and Coulport bases, dubbed by one insider as a “Nuclear Gibraltar”.  

Following negotiations on Scotland exiting the UK, Whitehall would hope to lease the land for “several decades”, according to officials……..

  The MoD declined to comment on contingency plans for a Scottish breakaway. Asked about the UK contingency plans,
 the Scottish government said it firmly opposed the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and was “committed to the safe and complete withdrawal of Trident from Scotland”.  ………………. https://www.ft.com/content/2e73ab9d-772b-4112-871a-24207f0e982a

September 2, 2021 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Formidable radiation dangers in travel to Mars

Missions to Mars Shouldn’t Exceed Four Years Due to Radiation Risks, Scientists SayAstronauts will experience enormous exposure to particle radiation during Mars missions, but the dangers can be mitigated. Gizmodo, By George Dvorsky 1 Sep 21

An international collaboration of scientists say it’s safe for astronauts to fly to Mars and back, provided the length of the mission does not exceed four years and that crewed flights to the Red Planet coincide with a well-known solar cycle.

Space can kill you in all sorts of different ways, with particle radiation being among the most serious hazards. Small doses of ionizing radiation aren’t the problem—it’s the long-term exposure that’ll get you. The deleterious effects of particle radiation are cumulative, leading to health conditions such as cancer, a damaged nervous system, cataracts, radiation sickness, and reproductive issues that can influence the health of offspring.

These risks are of obvious relevance when it comes to planning of a crewed trip to Mars, as NASA is doing right now. The current plan is to send American astronauts to the Red Planet in just 12 years, so it’s important that NASA understands the ways in which it can protect its crew.

“This would only result in the cost of capital for clean energy projects in Australia remaining more expensive than other advanced economies,” he said.

The Investor Group of Climate Change, backed by funds managing $2 trillion of assets, said many nations had moved beyond net zero and were making more ambitious near term goals

Indeed, once in space, the astronauts won’t have Earth’s magnetosphere to protect them. Even with shielding, the crew will be exposed to solar energetic particles and galactic cosmic rays, the latter of which is particularly harmful to human health.

An international team of scientists recently investigated this topic to learn if a round-trip mission to Mars might be too dangerous for humans and if the timing of such missions could offset potential risks. Researchers from UCLA, MIT, GFZ Potsdam, and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow were involved in the study, which now appears in the science journal Space Weather.

They made their calculations by referencing models of particle radiation inside our solar system and models of how this radiation might impact human health and the state of a spacecraft. Results showed that a potential mission to the Red Planet should not exceed four years and that, “while space radiation imposes strict limitations and presents technological difficulties for the human mission to Mars, such a mission is still viable,” write the researchers in their study.

…… Missions to Mars lasting more than four years will require protective measures, such as better shielding, underground habitats, and possibly even biological interventions.

The next best windows for the shortest flights to Mars will appear in 2030 and again in 2050, with both departure dates corresponding to periods of solar maximum, according to the research. Interestingly, “for the previous solar cycle, the smallest effective dose would have been accumulated for a flight starting in 2000, during solar max,” write the scientists.

Another key finding of the study has to do with the thickness of the spacecraft’s protective shielding. The researchers found that thick shielding would protect the crew—but only to a point. Beyond a certain threshold of thickness, the shielding would only serve to amplify the incoming radiation, which it would do by bouncing the radiation around inside the spacecraft. Aluminum shielding at the designated optimal thickness would expose astronauts to 0.5 Sieverts during missions lasting 1.9 years, while the maximum allowable career dose for astronauts of 1 Sieverts would be accumulated after a flight lasting 3.8 years, according to the study, co-authored by Yuri Shprits, a geophysicist at UCLA.

As the researchers admit, however, their analysis was limited to aluminum shielding. “Composite materials including hydrogen-rich composites have often been discussed for use in deep space habitats,” they write. “Materials such as a carbon composite with significant hydrogen content may potentially improve shielding and allow for longer flight times, as materials containing light elements result in lower fluxes of secondary [i.e. bounced] particles.”

So this is really good news, but it shows how much work still needs to be done to protect astronauts during long-duration missions. The new paper doesn’t even get into the deleterious effects of microgravity, which is also very bad for human health. We’re highly motivated when it comes to exploring and living on Mars, but making it safe will prove to be a formidable challenge. https://gizmodo.com/missions-to-mars-shouldn-t-exceed-four-years-due-to-rad-1847598717

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uranium prices and the true financial and climate costs of the Megatons to megawatts program

the Russian price the Americans paid for fuel from bombs bears no relationship to the actual costs of producing it, not only in money, but in greenhouse CO2 pumped into the atmosphere.

Megatons to Megawatts’: Prices and true costs of nuclear energy, SEP 1, 2021 KELVIN S. RODOLFO, Rappler.com

Clearly, the uranium market is not a free one in any sense of the word, and never will be’The following is the 13th in a series of excerpts from Kelvin Rodolfo’s ongoing book project “Tilting at the Monster of Morong: Forays Against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and Global Nuclear Energy.”
Promoters of nuclear power say it’s “cheap.” If you want to invest in it, however, look at how fickle uranium prices have been. Over time, they have varied by more than eight times!

Clearly, the uranium market is not a free one in any sense of the word, and never will be’The following is the 13th in a series of excerpts from Kelvin Rodolfo’s ongoing book project “Tilting at the Monster of Morong: Forays Against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and Global Nuclear Energy.”
Promoters of nuclear power say it’s “cheap.” If you want to invest in it, however, look at how fickle uranium prices have been. Over time, they have varied by more than eight times!

Besides satisfying Russia’s urgent needed for cash, selling this cheap Megatons to Megawatts fuel was a means to two ends. The first is much-extolled: to shrink the huge global stockpiles of nuclear weaponry. But has the project really made us safer?


All the world’s nuclear weapons have declined from as many as 70,300 in 1986 to about 13,890 in early-2019. The reduction happened mostly during the 1990s. But today’s weapons are much more lethal; the nuclear countries, instead of planning to disarm, are retaining large arsenals, making new weapons, and increasing their use in geopolitics.

The second, central role of Megatons to Megawatts was to keep nuclear power financially affordable, so the power industry would continue to use it. Now that the Russian leadership is better-off financially, it is less eager to trade bombs for electricity, and the jittery global realpolitik may well also direct more uranium away from fuel and back to weapons once again.

Finally, and most importantly: what did the reactor uranium made from old Soviet warheads really cost in treasure, and in greenhouse CO2? We know the market price of this new fuel, but what were the true costs of its manufacture, from its mining, milling, enrichment to weapons grade, then its dilution back down into reactor fuel?

During the mad rush to gain nuclear equality with the US, the Russians spared no expense. Their oldest weapons contained uranium that had been enriched with technologies that used about 40 to 60 times more electricity for every kilo of highly-enriched uranium than modern centrifuges do. And more energy, money, and CO2 emissions were used to dilute that warhead uranium back.

Finally, and most importantly: what did the reactor uranium made from old Soviet warheads really cost in treasure, and in greenhouse CO2? We know the market price of this new fuel, but what were the true costs of its manufacture, from its mining, milling, enrichment to weapons grade, then its dilution back down into reactor fuel?

During the mad rush to gain nuclear equality with the US, the Russians spared no expense. Their oldest weapons contained uranium that had been enriched with technologies that used about 40 to 60 times more electricity for every kilo of highly-enriched uranium than modern centrifuges do. And more energy, money, and CO2 emissions were used to dilute that warhead uranium back down to reactor grade, for which work the Russians eventually received $8 billion.In short, the Russian price the Americans paid for fuel from bombs bears no relationship to the actual costs of producing it, not only in money, but in greenhouse CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. A later Foray will evaluate the true costs in greenhouse CO2 for making nuclear fuel. On top of  whatever values we arrive at, we must recognize that significant but forever unknowable amounts were generated by Megatons to Megawatts.

Our next Foray is about the intricate entanglement between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. – Rappler.com  https://www.rappler.com/voices/thought-leaders/opinion-megatons-megawatts-prices-true-costs-nuclear-energy

September 2, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Illinois very soon to vote on a Bill for the state to prop up the nuclear industry

Gina McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s climate adviser, has said existing nuclear plants are “absolutely essential” to hit U.S. goals to decarbonize the electric grid by 2035 and the administration has supported federal incentives for the nuclear in

Illinois could vote Tuesday on bill that aims to save nuclear plants,   By Timothy Gardner,  Aug 31 (Reuters) – The Illinois legislature is edging closer to a vote as soon as Tuesday on a bill that aims to prevent two nuclear power plants from shutting, as the owner moves to close the first plant next month unless the state acts.

The legislature could vote in a special session on a compromise of a wide-ranging energy bill, introduced Monday, or a narrow version of it that would allow nuclear plants to earn carbon mitigation credits for generating virtually emissions-free power  [not really emissions-free, considering the whole nuclear fuel chain]. Tuesday’s session is on legislative mapping, but could include the energy bill vote………..

Lawmakers were set to meet on Tuesday to consider a measure on the bill.

Exelon Corp (EXC.O) has said it will close the Byron nuclear plant in mid September and the Dresden plant in November if a state or federal program does not come to the rescue.

Gina McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s climate adviser, has said existing nuclear plants are “absolutely essential” to hit U.S. goals to decarbonize the electric grid by 2035 and the administration has supported federal incentives for the nuclear industry.

September 2, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

Not Seeing the Contaminated Forest for the Decontaminated Trees in Fukushima

Robert Jacobs

Abstract: This article explores how the models of medical risk from radiation established in the aftermath of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are insufficient for understanding the risks faced by people in contaminated environments like Fukushima. These models focus exclusively on levels of external radiation, while the risk faced by people in areas affected by radioactive fallout comes from internalizing fallout particles. These models have helped to obscure the health impacts over the last 76 years of those exposed to fallout, from the people who experienced the Black Rain in Hiroshima, to the global hibakusha exposed through nuclear testing, production and accidents, and now to those living where the plumes deposited radiation in Fukushima.

When nuclear disasters happen, we look to past incidents to help us predict what human health impacts may follow, but not all radiological disasters are alike. The Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents were highly publicized and loom large in the public imagination, but these disasters are mere data points on a graph of nuclear incidents that have exposed the public to radiological harm. The “global hibakusha,” human beings that have been exposed to ionizing radiation, have suffered those exposures in multiple ways. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only people to have been directly attacked by nuclear weapons. However, since then there have been more than 2,000 nuclear weapons detonated in tests. The communities downwind from those test sites did not suffer direct attack, but rather, were exposed to radioactive fallout from the mushroom clouds as they drifted. Besides the above listed nuclear meltdowns, multiple accidents have befallen nuclear reactors. Additionally, many people have been exposed to radiation through nuclear production at uranium mines, or plutonium production sites like Hanford. The disease toll from radiological exposure depends on the type of exposure. The most important distinction is between being exposed to radioactive waves that pass through your whole body, and radioactive particles that get inside your body and remain there. The biological routes are different and so the health outcomes also differ. 

For the last 12 years I have been working on the Global Hibakusha Project, conducting field work in radiologically contaminated communities and populations all around the world (Broderick and Jacobs, 2018).1 As a historian, it is natural for me to think that looking to the past can help us imagine and anticipate the future. In April of 2015, four years after the Fukushima disaster, I gave a talk as part of the “4.11 International Symposium: From Hiroshima and Bikini to Fukushima and the World,” in Fukushima City. My lecture was titled, “Pretending Fukushima is New: How Studying Sites of Radiological Contamination Around the World Can Help Us to Understand the Present and Future in Fukushima.” The primary health risk that people in Fukushima face is from internalizing alpha-emitting or beta particles through inhalation, swallowing or abrasions. Yet predictions of their risks are almost entirely modeled on data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the exposures were predominantly from external gamma waves. This disconnect is visibly reflected to us in the maps of danger that always accompany discussions of the radiological legacy of Fukushima, maps like the one below. This application of data about external exposures to dismiss the health concerns of people immersed in a landscape dense with long-lived radioactive particles is not unique to Fukushima, it is elemental to how the majority of the millions of global hibakusha have remained invisible—have been rendered invisible.

Fig. 1: Radiation map showing both the distribution of radioactive iodine and concentric circles
radiating out from the site of the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Power Plants (Kyodo)

My chapter in Legacies of Fukushima: 3.11 in Context, “Fukushima Radiation Inside/Out,” argues that the maps of contamination we use to understand the risks downwind from the Fukushima Daiichi plant are flawed. They model a pattern of danger and safety that works as hard to obscure certain dynamics as it does to delineate others. These broken maps reflect health models about harm from radiation that are limited yet invariably presented as inclusive and comprehensive. 

As mentioned above, we biologically encounter radiation in two distinctly different manners. Our whole bodies are exposed to radioactive rays when we are immersed in high levels of radiation that are external to our bodies, as happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The detonations of those weapons released high-energy gamma and neutron waves that were similar to a single giant x-ray that penetrated entire bodies and extended out several kilometers from the hypocenter. Separately from this form of exposure is when we encounter radionuclides, individual radioactive particles that remain after nuclear detonations, either as beta particles or alpha-emitting particles. We often refer to radiation in this form as “radioactive fallout” since it usually deposits into our ecosystems by “falling out” of clouds drifting from radiological explosions or fires. Once the particles have dispersed into the ecosystem, they are harder to locate. These are primarily dangerous to us if we internalize them inside of our bodies. If they remain inside of our bodies, they emit their very small amounts of radiation to nearby cells 24 hours a day for however long the specific particle remains radioactive. For some particles that is days, for many it’s centuries or longer. Cesium-137, a particle that spread in large amounts after both Chernobyl and Fukushima, remains dangerous to living creatures for 300 years. These two forms of exposure (external whole body vs. internalized in a specific bodily organ) present distinctly different risks to human health (for a primer on these forms of radiation see here).

The risks that people downwind from the Fukushima plants face is primarily from fallout. Large amounts of fallout can also present danger from their collective external radiation when they first deposit, however, now, 10 years later, those particles have distributed into the ecosystem. Settling into soil, moving with rainwater and groundwater, being taken up by plants and animals: they are embedding and migrating. As they spread out, our ability to detect them degrades. Since Geiger Counters measure the external energy that the particles radiate, we usually find them when they are present in large amounts. Now that they are widely dispersed, many have migrated far from the color-coded maps of risk we see of Fukushima. Those maps are snapshots of external readings at a specific moment that has passed. 

In Fukushima, relatively few people are being exposed to high levels of external radiation except for the cohorts of onsite workers at the nuclear plant site, those involved in decontamination efforts, and those who lived where the fallout deposited in large amounts. People living in most (but not all) of the areas where heavy fallout deposited were evacuated fairly quickly. For those who continue to live in, or are being returned to areas of lower contamination, we still measure the external levels of gamma radiation to predict the risks they face. However, just as with the Marshallese after US thermonuclear testing, just as the Kazakhs after Soviet testing, and just as with those living in contaminated areas downwind from the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine and Belarus, the primary risk to the public health is not the external radiation, the primary risk is that one may internalize radioactive particles and retain them inside the body. Telling someone that the external levels of radiation are not high is not actually saying that they are not at risk, it is just a way of saying that we only have models that delineate risks from the external levels. And if those are low, we declare, health agencies declare, UN public health bodies declare: there is no significant risk. Yet there is. Those living in contaminated regions of Fukushima join a long list of people whose homes and communities have received significant deposits of radionuclides through fallout. All have invariably had their levels of risk minimalized. Many have had their anxieties cited as irrational and pathologized as “radiophobia.”2 Almost none have received any compensation for their health problems and the loss of value of their lands and businesses.3

In Fukushima, as downwind from nuclear test sites, communities experienced large deposits of radioactive fallout, yet the model that has always been used to predict health outcomes is based on studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: this is the wrong model for these disasters. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki there was a massive burst of external radioactive gamma and neutron waves at the moment the nuclear weapons detonated, lasting less than a minute. This was followed by radioactive fallout as the mushroom clouds deposited radioactive particles (beta and alpha-emitters) and drifted.4 The health models built out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki only assessed the harm from the external exposures. These models emerged from studies done at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Hiroshima and Nagasaki since 1946 (reformed in 1975 as the Radiation Effects Research Foundation), especially the Life Span Study (LSS) which began in 1950. This study establishes a large database, corelating radiation exposures to subsequent health outcomes and early mortality. The study is rigorous, yet its use in the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has frequently been careless. The LSS assesses only external radiation exposures, it explicitly excludes consideration of the health effects of internal radiation exposures from living with fallout. There is nothing wrong with this methodological choice. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were events in which a large cohort of people were exposed to a single large dose of external gamma radiation. It would have been very difficult at the time to determine who had internalized a radionuclide and who hadn’t. In the early years of the Cold War, it was assumed that future wars would involve the use of nuclear weaponry and the exposure of many people to large bursts of gamma rays as were the people near the hypocenter of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But that was not what happened; instead, over 2,000 nuclear weapons were tested, and millions of people were exposed to radioactive fallout. We did not have a robust database on the health consequences that might result from these exposures—so we used the tool we did have, the LSS. The LSS tells us little about the risks faced by people living with large depositions of fallout. 

The Cold War period, and beyond, are periods in which the invisibility of the health consequences of exposures of internalized radiation was made invisible, and the misapplication of the LSS was elemental to this cloaking. A key reason that the LSS has been weaponized to obscure the health effects of internalized radiation exposures is that since the exposures did not happen as acts of war, but rather as weapon development, those exposed should be entitled to compensation for their health problems, and the loss of value to contaminated land. This would likely have restricted nuclear weapon testing. These dynamics have been extended to obscure and shield compensation obligations in other historical instances of large-scale radiological contaminations such as waste dumping and nuclear accidents. 

All of us have been dealing with the horrors and the terrors of the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. Viscerally, we feel the anxieties and fears that accompany uncertainty about dire risks to our lives and loved ones. Being cautious about our public activities in the age of COVID makes intuitive sense. We navigate our potential exposures, work to mitigate our potential contaminations, and worry endlessly about loved ones with health concerns. Each small, unrelated medical symptom a family member exhibits is met with anxiety. This is a reality for people worldwide. Those who live in areas dense with radionuclides face similar anxieties: the locations of the risk are indeterminable; who is being exposed and who is safe is unclear, even while the damage is inflicted; daily life is rife with anxiety. But in radiologically contaminated communities it is not conspiracy theorists on social media dismissing them as irrational, it is state health officials. They draw maps, based entirely on externally measured levels of radiation, and use those maps to tell people to move back to villages where the levels of contamination are “acceptable,” to send their children to schools and move back to towns where the presence of radioactive particles is not dense enough to register on Geiger counters placed high above the ground.

Fig. 2: Fixed station radiation monitor post.

Imagine a map of COVID cases that shows high levels in one city and low levels in the adjoining city, and being told that therefore there is no risk at all once you enter the city with lower levels. We would all continue to be cautious. That is common sense, not (radiophobic) irrationality. If a group of 10 people were to stand downwind from someone coughing out COVID microbes, some may get sick and some may not. Who has inhaled a microbe and who hasn’t will not be visible until the disease presents. This is what it is like to live in an ecosystem with migrating radionuclides. Even if their presence is not significant enough to make a Geiger counter ping, caution is rational. However, the history of fallout contamination is a history of dismissing the health concerns and worries of the populations living in the areas where fallout came down. 

A clear way to visualize how the reliance on external measurements to determine risk is problematic is to examine the scientific literature on Fukushima. Biologist Timothy Mousseau, with colleague Anders Møller, has conducted field work in the Zone of Exclusion in Chernobyl for decades (primarily on birds and small insects for whom multiple generations of inheritance have passed), and have sought to conduct corollary field studies in the evacuation zones of Fukushima. Speaking to an IPPNW symposium on the 10th anniversary of Fukushima, Mousseau examined the top 500 articles in the Web of Science database. He found that only 10 out of the top 500 papers (2%) were based on actual biological fieldwork assessing the impacts of radiation on living organisms. Almost all of the other 98% were studies of “calculated doses and the possible link to health impairments rather than any sort of directly measured biological consequences” (Mousseau, 2021).5 Most of the scientific literature around Fukushima, and Chernobyl, are based on estimates of health impacts utilizing externally measured radiation and applying statistical models such as the Life Span Study. These estimates are not observed findings, but predictions of the numbers of cancers and early mortality that may be expected in the future among the exposed population.

This model of utilizing measurements of external radiation and statistical databases of disease probabilities has been a critical component of how the global hibakusha have been ignored since the advent of nuclear weaponry. As radioactive fallout blanketed communities downwind from the Nevada Test Site, and other nuclear test sites around the world, such assessments were routinely used to dismiss the health concerns of downwinders. Now, many of those same individuals (in America) whose health concerns were dismissed are recipients of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act funds from the US government. Ignored and dismissed for decades because of the use of external modeling and statistical correlation of that modeling to the LSS, select members of these communities were only able to obtain recognition and some small compensation late in their lives because they were full citizens with access to legal remedies in a wealthy nation. 

As I detail in my forthcoming book Nuclear Bodies, nuclear test sites are not chosen because of their scientific properties, rather, communities are selected to be irradiated because of their political inability to resist such treatment. Nuclear test sites are built upwind of these communities. Hence, most of the exposures of global hibakusha were in colonial or postcolonial spaces, or were citizens of poor or developing nations and have not been recognized or awarded compensation for their suffering.6 Their subaltern political status was fundamental to their communities being chosen as radiologically disposable. For example, the British and French never tested nuclear weapons within their own national borders. Along with the United States, the British and French tested all of their thermonuclear weapons (hydrogen bombs that yield vastly larger fallout clouds) in Pacific nations either directly under their control, or of actual colonial status (specifically, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and French Polynesia). Keeping these big fallout clouds outside of their own borders was national policy to protect their own populations, and conversely, put them inside the borders of other nations and subjected their populations to risk. This has never been accidental. Nuclear power plants are not sited inside of the urban areas where their electricity is consumed, but in the rural areas at a distance so that if there is a radiological release it exposes less people, but also less politically powerful people. Kate Brown has cited how the Soviet government purposefully seeded clouds from Chernobyl to rainout their particles in Belarus rather than over the large Russian cities they were drifting towards.7

Relying exclusively on maps of externally measurable radiation and medical models based solely on the harm caused by external exposures extends this invisibility for further generations and will continue to legitimize dismissing and ignoring both the health and emotional impacts of radiation exposures into the future. Fukushima is part of a continuum of the dismissal of the harm endured by those who suffer from internal exposures to radioactive particles from nuclear tests, nuclear accidents and nuclear production worldwide. Looking at the broken maps works to obscure the real risks in Fukushima.

Many of the particles embedded in the ecosystem of Fukushima will remain dangerous to living creatures for hundreds, or even thousands of years. During this period, they will not stay put. As I point out in my chapter in Legacies of Fukushima: 3.11 in Context, this reveals the decontamination theater of soil removal in Fukushima. The years since 3.11 have seen a continual media presentation of crews removing radioactive topsoil from towns, schoolyards and homes in Fukushima.

Fig. 3: Decontamination crew works to decontaminate a roadside in Iitate in 2015 (Greenpeace).
Almost certainly the particles in the forest canopy and on the trees will re-contaminate this roadside within a year.

The reduction in radiation levels is the predicate for declaring towns safe for return. The particles themselves remain radioactive; the fields filled with plastic bags of particles stacked around the region are now nuclear waste sites that must be managed for generations. The theatrical aspect is in pretending that by removing the radioactive particles from the towns they are now “clean.” Since the towns are themselves situated in larger ecosystems full of radionuclides, this “decontamination” cannot last: wind, rain, typhoons will all strip particles down from the forests and mountains surrounding the towns and re-contaminate them. Similar to how the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were meant to produce the impression that Fukushima has recovered, all theater requires the willing suspension of disbelief. When we placed a containment dome over the melted core of Chernobyl reactor unit #4 people assumed that the Chernobyl disaster was clearly over, only to be surprised to read in the papers about ongoing criticalities in the subterranean core that threatened ongoing releases. Long-lived particles create ongoing and fluctuating realities. Fukushima is not simply something that happened, it is something that is still happening.

References

Broderick, M. and Robert J. (2018) ‘The Global Hibakusha Project: Nuclear post-Colonialism and Its Intergenerational Legacy’, Unlikely: Journal for the Creative Arts, 5 [online]. (Accessed: June 5, 2021).

Brown, K. (2019) Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future. London: Allen Lane.

Jacobs, R. (2013) ‘Nuclear Conquistadors: Military Colonialism in Nuclear Test Site Selection During the Cold War’, Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, 1(2), pp. 157-177.

Mousseau, T. 2021. “Ecology in Fukushima: What Does a Decade Tell Us?” [Online video]. (Accessed June 5, 2021).

Petryna, A. (2013) Life Exposed: Biological Citizenship after Chernobyl. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Stawkowski, M. (2017) ‘Radiophobia Had to be Reinvented’, Culture, Theory and Critique, 58(4), pp. 357-374.

Notes

1

The outcomes of this research will be published next year in, Robert Jacobs, Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022), forthcoming. Also, see my blog Global Hibakusha.2

Stawkowski, 2017.3

Petryna, 2013.4

The areas where fallout came down most heavily downwind of Hiroshima is referred to as being affected by “black rain,” this is because rain strips fallout particles from the air and brings them down in large quantities, and the black soot from the fires in Hiroshima made the rain black and sticky. The rights of those who suffered illness from exposure to black rain, and also from exposures resulting from entering the city in the weeks after the nuclear attack, are still being litigated and contested in Japanese courts today.5

Mousseau, 2021.6

Jacobs, 2013.7

Brown, 2019, p. 42.

https://apjjf.org/2021/17/Jacobs.html

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | | Leave a comment

Illinois Senate passes bill to save nuclear plants

Illinois Senate passes bill to save nuclear plants, sends to House, By Timothy Gardner  Sept 1 (Reuters) – The Illinois Senate passed a bill early on Wednesday that aims to prevent two nuclear power plants from shutting this autumn, sending the legislation to the House where it was uncertain if the chamber would bring the legislation to a vote.

The Senate voted 39-16 to pass a wide-ranging energy bill, with two senators voting “present.” The bill contains more than $600 million in carbon mitigation credits for nuclear plants which generate virtually emissions-free electricity. [that’s as long as you ignore the full nuclear fuel chain]


U.S. nuclear plants have been struggling to compete with wind and solar farms and plants that burn low-cost natural gas. Exelon Corp has said it will close its Byron nuclear plant in mid-September and its Dresden plant in November if a state or federal program does not come to the rescue.

It was uncertain whether the House would move fast enough to pass the legislation to prevent the shutting of the first plant, located in Byron, Illinois…….. https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-nuclearpower-illinois-idUSL1N2Q31QZ

September 2, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Iran’s new foreign minister Warns Tehran May Not Return to Nuclear Talks Until November

New Iranian FM Warns Tehran May Not Return to Nuclear Talks Until November . by Sharon Wrobel, 1 Sept 21,

Iran’s new foreign minister hinted that a resumption of talks on the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal could take up to two to three months.

“The other side understands that it will take two or three months for the new government to be established in Iran and plan for any sort of decision on this topic,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state TV in an interview on Monday night.

Last week, Iran’s parliament approved most of the hardline nominees put forward by newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi…………   https://www.algemeiner.com/2021/08/31/new-iranian-fm-warns-tehran-may-not-return-to-nuclear-talks-until-november/

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear missile silo expansion: From minimum deterrence to medium deterrence

China’s nuclear missile silo expansion: From minimum deterrence to medium deterrence, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , By Hans M. KristensenMatt Korda | September 1, 2021  US defense officials have claimed for several years that China is planning to at least double its nuclear warhead stockpile over the next decade, but without providing the public any details to back up their claim. That changed this summer, when two nongovernmental organizations—our own included—disclosed construction of what appears to be hundreds of new missile silos in central China.

Not surprisingly, reactions from defense hawks and arms controllers to this development span a wide range. Some claim that China is becoming an even greater nuclear threat that requires the United States and its allies to beef up their militaries even more. Others claim that China is responding to US provocations, and that arms control is the only way forward.

Most will probably use the disclosure to reaffirm existing beliefs. But that would be a mistake. The development requires all sides to think hard about what it means for Chinese nuclear policy, how it plans to operate its nuclear forces, how other nuclear-armed states will or should respond, and what the international nuclear nonproliferation and arms control community can and should do to reduce nuclear risks.

How many silos are under construction? The Chinese government has made no official public announcement about what it is building, and the nature, scale, and role of the suspected missile silos remains uncertain. (Some have even suggested they are not silos, but windmills.) But the satellite imagery that we have analyzed, combined with US government officials issuing apparent confirmations (herehere, and here), indicate that the construction involves hundreds of missile silos.

The first missile silo field near Yumen was disclosed by the Middlebury Institute in late-June. The second field near Hami was disclosed by the Federation of American Scientists in late-July. The third field near Ordos (Hanggin Banner) was disclosed by a military research unit at Air University in mid-August.

The three sites are in different stages of construction. The Yumen field began construction in March 2020 and appears to include 120 silos. Construction of the Hami field began in February 2021 and might eventually include 110 silos. The Ordos field, which began construction in April or May 2021, has a different layout and so far only appears to include about 40 silos (it could potentially grow later). Each missile silo field appears to include a number of other facilities that might be launch-control centers, bases, and support facilities.

Construction of the Yumen, Hami, and Ordos missile silo fields follow shortly after construction began of half a dozen silos that we discovered at the PLARF training site near Jilantai in Inner Mongolia, initially described in September 2019 and reported expanding further in February 2021.

In addition to these four projects, open-source researchers noted in 2020 that China might also be building a small number of silos near its traditional missile silo area near Checunzhen (Sundian) in the Henan Province.

All told, these discoveries indicate that China might be constructing nearly 300 new missile silos.

Why is China building so many silos? Missile silos are nothing new for China, which has deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in silos since the early 1980s. It is estimated that China currently has about 20 silos for the old (but modified) liquid-fuel DF-5 ICBM. However, building nearly 300 silos is certainly new. The decision to do so has probably not been caused by a single issue but by a combination of factors. In all these cases, it is important to remember that Chinese planning is not solely occupied with the United States, but also what Russia and increasingly India are doing:

Reducing the vulnerability of China’s ICBMs to a first strike: China is concerned that its nuclear deterrent is too vulnerable to a US (or Russian) surprise attack. The previous small number of fixed silos have long been seen as particularly vulnerable. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency, China’s decision to develop the modern road-mobile ICBMs we see today was a reaction to the US Navy’s deployment of Ohio-class Trident ballistic missile submarines in the Pacific. Road-mobile launchers are less vulnerable, but they’re not invulnerable. By increasing the number of silos, more ICBMs could potentially survive a surprise attack and be able to launch their missiles in retaliation. This action-reaction dynamic is most likely a factor in China’s current modernization.

Overcoming potential effects of missile defenses: Chinese planners are likely concerned that increasingly capable missile defenses could undermine China’s retaliatory capability. The US Sentinel (and particularly the Safeguard) missile defense systems in the 1960s and 1970s were partly intended to defend against Chinese ICBMs. Chinese officials reacted to the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 by saying that they would compensate as necessary. Part of that reaction might have been the decision to equip the DF-5B ICBM with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). The new DF-41 ICBM is also MIRV-capable and the future JL-3 SLBM will be capable of carrying multiple warheads. By increasing the number of silo-based, solid-fuel missiles and the number of warheads that they can carry, Chinese planners might be seeking to ensure that a sufficient number of warheads will be able to penetrate missile defense systems…………….

Increasing China’s nuclear strike capability: China’s “minimum deterrence” posture has historically kept the number of nuclear launchers at a relatively low level. But the Chinese leadership might have decided that it needs more missiles with more warheads to hold more adversary facilities at risk. This is not just about targeting the United States and its facilities in the Pacific. Russia is also increasing its military forces, and India is developing several types of longer-range missiles that appear to be explicitly intended to target China. All of these adversaries influence China’s decision on how many and what types of nuclear weapons it needs…………..

China now appears to be moving from a “minimum deterrent” to a “medium deterrent” that will position China between the smaller nuclear-armed states (France, Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea) and the two big ones (Russia and the United States)…………….

The Biden administration is now preparing its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that will outline the role and structure of the US nuclear posture for the next decade. When he was vice president and again during his presidential election campaign, Joe Biden spoke in favor of reducing the numbers and role of nuclear weapons. But Admiral Richard has publicly been making it quite clear that he opposes US significant changes: …………. https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/chinas-nuclear-missile-silo-expansion-from-minimum-deterrence-to-medium-deterrence/

September 2, 2021 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Germany calls on Iran to resume nuclear talks

Germany calls on Iran to resume nuclear talks, DW, 2 Sep, 21

Informal negotiations stalled after Iran’s new hardline president was elected in June. Tehran has caused an international outcry in recent months over the broadening scope of its nuclear program.

The German Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it “vehemently” urged Iran to restart negotiations aimed at reviving a defunct nuclear deal.

“We are ready to do so, but the time window won’t be open indefinitely,” a ministry spokesman said.

The French foreign ministry made a similar statement later on Wednesday………

Iran disputes accusations

On Tuesday evening, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said the “other parties” should be well aware that a new administration requires a few months to get set up. He rejected the notion that Iran was “walking away from the negotiating table.”

US President Joe Biden has signaled his eagerness to resume direct talks, but Iranian officials have yet to do the same.

Since 2018, Iran has enriched uranium far beyond the restrictions set in place by the JCPOA, prompting Germany, France, and the UK to voice “grave concerns” about the news. However, the government has consistently denied that they are seeking to make atomic weapons.   https://www.dw.com/en/germany-calls-on-iran-to-resume-nuclear-talks/a-59053930

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greta Thunberg, critical of governments, may not attend COP26

Ahead of the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November, Ms Thunberg added
that some politicians were “less worse” than others when commenting on
the Scottish Greens’ deal to enter government. The Swedish campaigner
told BBC Scotland she recognised some countries “do a bit more than others”
but that none were coming close to what is necessary to properly tackle the
climate crisis.

Ms Thunberg also said she was “not 100% sure” that she
would attend the COP26 talks later this year, adding that her decision
would be based on whether the event was “safe and democratic”.

 Scotsman 31st Aug 2021

https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/greta-thunberg-scotland-not-a-world-leader-on-climate-change-says-young-activist-ahead-of-cop26-3364953

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