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Options for the future of the US intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme -the Carnegie Endowment fo International Peace.

The Pentagon has asked a Washington thinktank to draw up a report on the
future of the US intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme and
deliver it before the end of January. The Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace (CEIP) will present options based on three rounds of
virtual consultations, which began on Tuesday, between Pentagon officials,
nuclear weapons experts and arms control advocates.

 Guardian 9th Dec 2021

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/09/pentagon-orders-study-into-future-of-icbms-amid-nuclear-posture-debate

December 11, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body

AUSTRALIA CAPTUREDHow the military-industrial complex has captured Australia’s top strategic advisory body, MICHELLE FAHY, DECLASSIFIED AUSTRALIA 9 DECEMBER 2021

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has veered away from its founding vision of providing an array of independent diverse views, to now promote an aggressive militaristic solution to the heightened tensions in Australia’s region.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra is the government’s primary source of outside-government advice, research and analysis on military and strategic affairs. Since its establishment in mid-2001, it has veered away from its founding vision.

There is a jarring disconnect between the lofty goals of independence expressed in ASPI’s charter, and the infiltration of ASPI by tentacles of the military-industrial complex. This has been barely mentioned in Australia’s mainstream media.

Declassified Australia investigation has uncovered a casebook example of ‘state-capture’, with the development of deep connections between ASPI, and the world’s largest and most powerful military weapons manufacturers.

Australia is a significant participant in the global arms trade at present. Its $270-billion decade-long spending spree upgrading weapons and war machines is large by international standards, and Australia is increasingly becoming an arms seller too. As Australia moves militarily ever closer to the US, even defence insiders say the defence industry is ‘awash with money’.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen have made the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers richer, larger, and more influential. At the lesser-known end of the spectrum, the Yemen war is notable for its extensive human rights abuses and war crimes: it has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite pleas from the UN, the arms still flow and the war continues. The weaponry for this war has been supplied by the world’s top arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, and missile-maker Raytheon.

ASPI and the Weapons Lobby

The Australian subsidiaries of these and other global weapon-makers have been regular ASPI sponsors for years. Some of them have successfully used the back door to gain access to ASPI’s top table, its governing council. ASPI council members have included former senior military officers, defence ministers, and federal MPs who are also on arms and cyber company boards. It has also included former and current arms industry executives. The challenge to ASPI’s independence is large and real.

ASPI’s founding charter, since it was established in 2001 by then prime minister John Howard with bipartisan support from Labor leader Kim Beazley, declares it must ‘operate independently of Government and of the Defence Organisation’.

Further, it states that ‘the perception, as well as the reality, of that independence would need to be carefully maintained’. Thus, from the outset, the government was acknowledging how such an important think tank would be vulnerable to capture by vested interests, both ideological and commercial………..

Our investigation shows that the ASPI council has numerous members who represent or have close links to the military-industrial complex. Of the 11 non-executive directors on ASPI’s governing council, five sit on the boards or advisory boards of weapons or cybersecurity corporations, while numerous past council members have had similar connections.

The current council includes former Howard defence minister Robert Hill. He’s on the supervisory board of German weapon-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, and will soon also produce and export ammunition for the US Joint Strike Fighter program. Hill is also chair of Viva Energy Group, a major supplier of fuel to the Australian Defence Force (ADF)…………………….

Declassified Australia put questions to ASPI and the current council members. Dr Nelson declined to comment. No other council member responded by deadline. ASPI replied saying it manages conflict of interest matters in line with other Australian proprietary limited companies, and that ‘Council members will recuse themselves from discussions which may give rise to the perception of a conflict of interest matter’.

ASPI has a history of council members with interests in the defence industry. Jim McDowell was chief executive of BAE Systems in Australia for a decade, and then ran BAE in Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi military has since used BAE arms in the catastrophic war in Yemen. Returning to Australia, he was engaged by Liberal defence industry minister Christopher Pyne, and Defence, on numerous sensitive defence projects while also on ASPI’s Council. BAE Systems is in the running to provide Australia’s planned nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS pact.

Former Labor senator Stephen Loosley’s Council membership, including seven years as chair, coincided with board roles at French arms multinational Thales Australia, manufacturer of the Austeyr, the service rifle for all the Australian military, as well as armoured vehicles, submarine sonars and munitions. The Thales group has been accused of selling weapons to the Indonesian military who are running a war in West Papua against the independence movement.

Former Labor defence minister Kim Beazley was an ASPI distinguished fellow for two years in 2016-2018. For the majority of that time he was on the board of Lockheed Martin Australia while writing regularly for ASPI, without ASPI disclosing his board position at Lockheed.

………..ASPI’s independence is drawn into question not just by its board appointees but also by some research fellows. One recent example is the former director of cyber, intelligence and security at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Rajiv Shah, who cowrote a report on collaboration within the intelligence community that was sponsored by BAE Systems. Shah is now an ASPI fellow and a consultant to government and industry. ASPI does not disclose either in the report nor in his website bio Shah’s previous employment with BAE Systems, one of the world’s top 10 arms companies. Dr Shah did not respond to questions.

Declassified Australia does not imply any illegality by any past or present ASPI council members, fellows, or staff. The issue is the deep involvement of people associated with global weapons manufacturers, and the potential for, and perception of, conflicts with ASPI’s charter of independence.

The Reshaping of ASPI

At its foundation, the ASPI Council was instructed by the government to ensure its independence. As set down by the defence minister, it is required not only to be ‘politically non-partisan’ but also, most crucially, to ‘reflect the priority given to both the perception and substance of the Institute’s independence’.

The Howard government had envisaged that ASPI would do this by maintaining a ‘very small’ permanent staff while relying mostly on short-term contracts, secondments and similar arrangements for its research work. It would not publish views in its own name but would provide a forum for the views of a wide variety of outside experts.

20 years on, ASPI has morphed into a very different organisation.

A decision by Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd to make Stephen Loosley the ASPI Council chair in 2009, while Loosley was on the Thales Australia board, tested perceptions of independence. Then, in 2012, the Gillard Labor government appointed the current executive director directly from the senior position of Deputy Secretary of Strategy in the Defence Department. In the late 90s, Peter Jennings had been chief of staff to Liberal defence minister Ian McLachlan when the Howard Government first mooted the idea of creating ASPI.

Under this new leadership, ASPI set about expanding. Staff numbers have quadrupled in nine years from 14 to 60, plus there are now 29 research fellows and nine interns.

ASPI receives its core funding via a grant from the Defence Department. In 2018, the Morrison government approved a $20 million grant to cover five years’ of ASPI operations. In May 2021, this grant was increased by $5 million to cover two years of operations of a new Washington DC office.


Since 2012, ASPI has vigorously pursued additional funding. Within two years, annual income from commissioned research jumped from $37,000 to $1.1 million, and sponsorships were up 235% to $746,000. ASPI’s own-sourced revenue has continued to grow dramatically. In 2011-12, ASPI received less than $500,000 above its base funding, by 2020-21 it had exploded to $6.7 million.

The single largest source of ASPI’s funding in 2020-21, beyond its core funding, was from the US Government’s Departments of Defense and State ($1.58m), followed by additional funding from Defence ($1.44m) and other federal government agencies ($1.18m). The NSW and Northern Territory governments provided $445,000. In the private sector, the largest source was social media, tech and cybersecurity companies ($737,362), with Facebook ($269,574), Amazon ($100,000) and Microsoft ($89,500) being the largest. From the arms industry, ASPI received $316,636, with more than two-thirds of that coming from two of Australia’s largest defence contractors, Thales ($130,000) and BAE Systems ($90,000).

In 2019-20, Twitter gave ASPI $147,319 for its cyber research. Significantly, Twitter last week announced a partnership with ASPI said to be dealing with misinformation from the Chinese communist party that was seeking to counter evidence of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. As a result of ASPI’s research, thousands of “state-linked accounts” were shut down by Twitter.

While the cash from the arms industry may not appear substantial, as we have seen, the arms industry wields its major influence via its representatives finding their way on to seats at the top table.

The substantial extra funding from the US government, Defence and other Australian government departments, as well as corporate interests, provides a real challenge to ASPI’s responsibility to remain independent. It raises serious questions about undue influence, including foreign influence, at ASPI.

ASPI responded to our questions about protecting the perception of its independence by saying it retains ‘complete editorial independence on the material we choose to research’. It said it would not accept funding from parties attempting to constrain its editorial independence.

But just what does the US government get in return for its $1.57 million funding of ASPI, beyond its research projects on human rights violations, disinformation, and cybersecurity in China?

And what might BAE Systems get for its $90,000 grant to ASPI, other than a new report on the need for a ‘collaborative and agile’ intelligence community?

And what about Thales Australia, in return for its $130,000 grant to ASPI, beyond just being lead sponsor of the 2020 ASPI Conference?

The answer for them all, is ‘influence’.

ASPI’s role in advising the Australian government on defence strategy and procurements and cybersecurity would better serve the Australian people if it was to return to its original charter of researching and publishing a diversity of views from a position of uncompromised independence.

MICHELLE FAHY is an independent writer and researcher, specialising in the examination of connections between the weapons industry and government, and has written in various independent publications. She is on twitter @FahyMichelle, and on Substack at undueinfluence.substack.com   https://declassifiedaus.org/2021/12/09/australia-captured/?fbclid=IwAR0_MMo3hIrY7uDHK4d2l5M-nxdsGBFyA_6Xtim8jxjotqPkMXmFheeGNWM

December 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Industrial action set to ”cripple” the effective running of UK’s nuclear submarine base.

SPECIALIST staff are to escalate industrial action in a dispute which a
union has said is expected to “cripple” the effective running of UK’s
nuclear submarine base on the Clyde. Unite Scotland has confirmed that its
pay dispute with the ABL Alliance at the Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD)
Coulport is to escalate with around 70 workers set to take strike action
from next week.

 Herald 9th Dec 2021

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19772953.strike-action-start-next-week-cripple-clyde-nuclear-base/


				
                

December 11, 2021 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

UK government will ”prove the potential”of advanced nuclear reactors with its Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development and Demonstration Programme. 

  nuClear NewsNo 136 Dec 21, Advanced Reactors , Energy minister Greg Hands told the Nuclear2021 conference organised by the Nuclear Industry Association that the UK will build a high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR) as the centrepiece of its Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration Programme. 

The goal of the research programme is to “prove the potential” of advanced reactors and have a demonstration unit in operation “by the early 2030s, at the latest”. The key focus would be to produce high temperature heat which could be used for hydrogen production, to supply industrial processes and potentially district heating as well as electricity generation.

 Several other reactor concepts could have been selected. The emerging category of ‘advanced’ reactors includes the lead-cooled fast reactor, molten salt reactor, supercritical water-cooled reactor, sodium-cooled fast reactor and very-high-temperature gas reactor in addition to hightemperature gas reactors.  

 Paul Howarth, CEO of the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), called it “a further signal of the resurgence of nuclear.” He added, “With the opportunity HTGRs bring to deliver high temperature heat, hydrogen and synthetic fuels, the potential of this technology to help decarbonise our industries and energy grid is significant.” He noted that NNL is “actively working on the fuel, graphite and high temperature materials required for HTGRs.” 

The Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration Programme counts on £170 million of government funding from a £385 million package intended to accelerate development of highly flexible nuclear technologies. (1)  

  In July the Government sought views on its preference to explore the potential of High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research Development & Demonstration (AMR RD&D) Programme. It says the call found no significant, additional evidence to materially change the outcome of the Government’s underpinning analysis. As a result, the Programme will focus on High Temperature Gas Reactors with the ambition for this to lead to a HTGR demonstration by the early 2030s at the latest. In parallel, government continues to support the development of all AMRs as part of wider policy on advanced nuclear activities. This includes: opening the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process to advanced nuclear technologies and developing a siting approach for further nuclear developments. (2)   https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/nuClearNewsNo136.pdf

December 11, 2021 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Opposition to small nuclear reactor project for Oyster Creek

Small Nuclear Reactor Might Be Built At Oyster Creek, Jersey Shore Online, 10 Dec,

”……………….Janet Tauro, who serves as New Jersey Board Chair of Clean Water Action, told The Southern Ocean Times that her organization was not in favor of the idea. “The last thing we need is another nuclear reactor at a site that has millions of gallons of waste material still in their fuel pool.”

  She expressed concerns of where Oyster Creek’s current nuclear waste would end up, noting that Holtec’s application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a consolidated interim storage facility that would be based in New Mexico has not been approved and is facing resistance by residents and officials of that state.

 “Nothing is happening any time soon – if at all – and we don’t want to saddle other people with other state’s nuclear waste.” She noted spent nuclear fuel rods on site at Oyster Creek must be removed from their storage casks every 20 years and put into new containers.

  “This is a bad idea. Ocean County shouldn’t be a test case for unproven technology. Oyster Creek is the first nuclear power plant that Holtec has decommissioned. It is needless to expose Ocean County to that risk. Spent fuel rods should be nowhere near another nuclear reactor,” she added.

December 11, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Bradwell nuclear project would become vulnerable to sea level rise

BANNG refutes recent statement by BRB that Bradwell B would be Essex’s
biggest contribution to reduced carbon emissions. Low lying land at
Bradwell would become vulnerable to sea level rise. And Bradwell B would be
unlikely to start operating before the middle of next decade – far too
late to make an appreciable contribution to a net zero 2050. In fact it
would have a negative impact on renewable energy and flexibility.

 Maylands Mayl 10th Dec 2021

 

December 11, 2021 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s failure to reduce energy demand – the most important measure to address climate change.

 No2NuclearPower  No. 136 December 21 Overtly and comprehensively ignoring demand side management . In nuClear News No.135 we asked if UK electricity demand is really going to double. While many other countries are spending billions on energy efficiency measures and proactively aiming to reduce energy and electricity consumption, the UK seems to be giving up on the old ‘fabric first’ idea and putting all its eggs into the nuclear and electricity supply basket. On transport there seems to be far too much focus on electric vehicles rather than public transport and active travel. With a nuclear tax on consumers’ bills in prospect and a large percentage of the population dependent on non-car travel options, the Government’s climate policies threaten to exacerbate inequalities rather than promote ‘climate justice’.


Unlike the UK, Denmark has a policy to reduce total energy demand by 50% by 2050. (1) And, Germany is not projecting a doubling of electricity demand either, in fact gross electricity generation is projected fall by 2050. Energy efficiency is the main mechanism, but also less waste in the system, more flexibility in storage and grids, integration of the heat sector. These all come together to work towards less (or certainly no more) electricity use whilst switching to renewables. In 2010, the Federal Environment Agency wrote that in the households, industrial as well as trade, commerce and services sectors “a reduction of final energy consumption by 58%, from 1639.4 TWh in 2005 to 774.2 TWh in 2050” is expected. Electricity consumption by these sectors decreases by 19%, from 492.9 TWh in 2005 to 396.7 TWh in 2050. Electricity demand experiences a lower reduction rate than final energy consumption due to the switch from fossil fuels to electricity. Total electricity consumption is expected to fall from 564 TWh in 2005 to 506 TWh. (2) 

The National Audit Office (NAO) published a damning report on the Green Homes Grant debacle. It has seldom issued a more excoriating report. The scheme was originally supposed to make 600,000 homes more energy efficient. It may just have reached 47,500. It was meant to create somewhere between 100,000 and 140,000 jobs, but may have only sustained 5,600 people in employment. It was supposed to last 18 months. It was ignominiously abandoned over a weekend, after just 6 months. The NAO reckon “the rushed delivery and implementation of the scheme has significantly reduced the benefits that might have been achieved, caused frustration for homeowners and installers, and had limited impact on job creation for the longer term.” ………………..   https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/nuClearNewsNo136.pdf

December 11, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

100% renewables possible for USA – study demonstrates

A study led by Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson has
demonstrated that the US energy system running on wind, water and solar,
coupled with storage, not only avoids blackouts but lowers energy
requirements and consumer costs while creating millions of jobs, improving
health, and freeing up land. The Jacobson-led study conducted with
colleagues from Stanford University analysed grid stability under multiple
scenarios in which wind, water, and solar energy resources powered 100% of
all energy needs in the United States. The study, published in the journal
Renewable Energy, demonstrates a blackout-free energy system under ideal
circumstances, and a much reduced risk of blackouts in extreme weather
events compared to the current fossil fuel-led energy systems.

 Renew Economy 10th Dec 2021

December 11, 2021 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear talks pulled back from the brink as Tehran shifts stance

Iran nuclear talks pulled back from brink as Tehran shifts stance, Cautious optimism as Tehran revises its position after pressure from Russia and China   Guardian,  Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor, Fri 10 Dec 2021 Efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal have been hauled back from the brink of collapse as Tehran revised its stance after pressure from Russia and China and clear warnings that the EU and the US were preparing to walk away.

The cautiously optimistic assessment came at the start of the seventh round of talks on the future of the nuclear deal in Vienna. It follows what was seen as a disastrous set of talks last week in which the US and the EU claimed Iran had walked back on compromises reached in previous rounds.

The Russian ambassador to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said: “We managed to eliminate a number of misunderstandings that created some tension. Everyone confirmed their commitment to productive work [to restore the nuclear agreement].”

Nevertheless, Joe Biden warned that the United States was preparing “additional measures” against Iran, amid lingering fears that the talks could still fail…………..  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/09/iran-nuclear-deal-pulled-back-from-brink-of-collapse-as-talks-resume-in-vienna

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

China Wants to Join Southeast Asia’s Nuclear-Free Zone

A greater factor in China’s calculus is the AUKUS alliance among the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Under the security partnership announced in September, the U.S. and U.K. agreed to equip Australia with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. China wants to even the score. In a phone call with counterparts from Malaysia and Brunei that same month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi skewered AUKUS as anathema to the Bangkok Treaty. “The United States and Britain chose not to participate in the SEANWFZ [Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone] Treaty,” Wang reminded his peers. “Instead, they have transferred military nuclear technology to the region under various pretexts and also provided the region with highly enriched uranium materials, running counter to the efforts made by ASEAN countries to build a nuclear-free zone.”

China Wants to Join Southeast Asia’s Nuclear-Free Zone. Why Now? LawfareBy Ryan A. Musto Thursday, December 9, 2021  China is ready to rock with the Treaty of Bangkok.

In a rare appearance at the special online summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Nov. 22, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that China is prepared to sign the protocol of a 1995 agreement that establishes Southeast Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Under the agreement, known as the Bangkok Treaty, 10 regional states renounce the right to nuclear weapons in any form within the ASEAN zone. If it joins the treaty, China would agree not to use or threaten the use of nuclear weapons within the zone or against its members. It would make China the first nuclear-weapon state to adhere.

China’s support for the treaty is no surprise. To strengthen its enduring “no-first-use” policy to never initiate nuclear conflict, China routinely has asserted (most recently in a 2019 white paper) that it “is always committed to … not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.” For the Bangkok Treaty, ASEAN and China agreed in 2011 to a secret memorandum of understanding that preserves China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, removing the greatest hurdle to Beijing’s commitment. China was ready to sign the protocol and memorandum in 2012 but deferred once the other eligible “P-5” nuclear-weapon states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty—France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.—refused to join. Now, Xi wants to legally bind China to the treaty “as early as possible.” But what’s the rush?

Adherence to the Bangkok Treaty would burnish China’s image amid its rapid expansion in nuclear capabilities…………

A greater factor in China’s calculus is the AUKUS alliance among the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Under the security partnership announced in September, the U.S. and U.K. agreed to equip Australia with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. China is furious and wants to even the score. In a phone call with counterparts from Malaysia and Brunei that same month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi skewered AUKUS as anathema to the Bangkok Treaty. “The United States and Britain chose not to participate in the SEANWFZ [Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone] Treaty,” Wang reminded his peers. “Instead, they have transferred military nuclear technology to the region under various pretexts and also provided the region with highly enriched uranium materials, running counter to the efforts made by ASEAN countries to build a nuclear-free zone.”……….. https://www.lawfareblog.com/china-wants-join-southeast-asias-nuclear-free-zone-why-now

December 11, 2021 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment

To suck up to the American government, Australia’s government leaders agreed to buy nuclear submarines, with no Parliementary discussion.

And as for the process, involving a sudden announcement to the Australian public, it is extraordinary that this momentous decision could be made without parliamentary or public scrutiny. 

Australia bows down to America for nuclear submarines, Independent AustraliaBy Lee Duffield | 10 December 2021,  As tensions between the U.S. and China grow, Australia’s nuclear submarine program has become less to do with our defence and more about placating the American Government, writes Dr Lee Duffield.

DEFENCE INDUSTRY MINISTER Melissa Price, on 9 November, declared the country’s nuclear-powered submarines would be built in South Australia. 

How would this be done? Constructing the ships around imported reactors? It added into the brewing of questions and arguments since the sudden announcement of the nuclear plan and immediate cancellation of the French contract for conventional submarines on 16 September. 

Trying to make sense of it all, several analysts, mostly through the Lowy Institute publication, The Interpreter, and at think-tanks to the Left and Right, have produced these main points:  

  • that American policy towards China is the main factor in this mix;  
  • that Australian sovereignty stands to be diminished, even if its security might be helped; and
  • that the insult to France and its consequences, while not the main game, remains important — especially as it affects the standing of the Australian Government.

Sam Roggeveen, Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program, contributed two articles, seeing the China-USA contest as the heart of it, with Australia now brought in more as a great power client, less as itself. 

Roggeveen wrote:

‘The defence deal is a clear escalation and indication that Washington views Beijing as an adversary. It also has thrust Australia into a central role in America’s rivalry with China.’  

U.S. reacts — Australia goes, too

The deal in question is the full package of the new tripartite defence arrangement, AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States), with Australia obtaining probably eight nuclear submarines at the centre of it.

As Roggeveen explains: 

‘…the scale of this agreement and the close strategic and operational links it implies will create expectations from Washington. Australia cannot have this capability while assuming that it does not come with heightened expectations that Australia will take America’s side in any dispute with China.’

And as for the process, involving a sudden announcement to the Australian public, it is extraordinary that this momentous decision could be made without parliamentary or public scrutiny. 

Allan Behm, Director of International and Security Affairs at the Australia Institute, gave a similar reading, seeing the decision to build long-range nuclear submarines for Australia as an American game, little to do with the defence of Australia: 

The aim is to make possible an Australian contribution to U.S. battle plans against China which that country will view as profoundly threatening with implications also for war planning by Russia, North Korea and other nuclear-armed states. 

Even leaving aside the fiscal profligacy and defence opportunity costs for Australia of the literal blank cheque issued by the Morrison Government, the nuclear submarine decision takes Australia into the heart of naval warfighting in East Asia and Southeast Asia.

“Step up to the bully”  

Some steps to the right of Behm at the Australia Institute is Rowan Callick writing for the Centre for Independent Studies, a neoliberal and anti-communist lobby, in the current debate articulating much of the confrontationist thinking on how to deal with Beijing. …………

For the U.S., AUKUS is a win. It exemplifies the importance Washington attaches to deepening cooperation with key allies and strengthening their military capabilities to assist in deterring the security challenges posed by China in the region.  

A very hard and costly undertaking 

Great difficulty running a nuclear submarine program is foreshadowed for a country with no nuclear industry, where the navy for several years was unable to provide specialist crews for each of its Collins class submarines — rotating them ship-to-ship as vessels took turns in maintenance. There is also the long lead time proposed for getting the nuclear boats into service, starting with 18 months reserved for more discussion, for official thinking to get clarified on such questions.  

Oriana Skylar Mastro and Zack Cooper have talked about many critics already raising valid concerns

Critics of AUKUS… worry that 18 months is a long time to wait for clarity on the plan, and 18 years would be too long to wait for submarines. Nuclear-powered submarines will prove difficult and expensive for Australia to master and could create non-proliferation concerns. Washington, Canberra and London will have to mend ties with Paris as well as concerned friends in Southeast Asia, especially Jakarta. Others have argued that the deal ties Australia too closely to the United States or creates unnecessary tensions with China (although we would dispute these last two assertions)…………

In the vanguard of concerns about the French connection, Richard Ogier saw further risks to Australia’s options as a sovereign state, and considered that:  

‘In Europe, and not only in France, the image of Australia has suffered a direct hit. Australia may be a staunch U.S. ally, but under certain circumstances, was prepared to go beyond the old ANZUS alliance. Australians may be warm and welcoming, is the message sent, but watch for the kick when your back is turned.’ 

A full version of this article has been published in subtropic.com.au.   Dr Lee Duffield is a former ABC foreign correspondent, political journalist and academic.  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australia-bows-down-to-america-for-nuclear-submarines,15832

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear exit to unleash wind power in Northern Germany

Nuclear exit to unleash wind power in Northern Germany

By Charlotte Nijhuis and Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.com with CLEW 10 Dec 2021

The shutdown of the last nuclear power plant in Schleswig-Holstein will unclog the electricity grid and unleash wind power in the northern German state, according to its environment minister Jan Philipp Albrecht, reports Clean Energy Wire.

“Nuclear power is clogging our grids, especially in the direction of the south,” Albrecht told press agency dpa.

Due to grid bottlenecks, offshore wind turbines indeed have to be switched off in some cases. 

The importance of nuclear power as a whole is therefore overestimated,” Albrecht added.

After the shutdown of the nuclear plant at the end of this year, the north of Germany could cover 160% of its electricity needs with renewable energy and there will be more wind power exports to the south, Albrecht said. 

Fears of power blackouts due to the nuclear phaseout are unfounded, he said. “After all, we will continue to massively expand renewable energies in Germany now. In the future, we will not be dependent on nuclear power being generated in France.”

His anti-nuclear party, the Greens, have recently entered federal government in Germany, with Super-Minister Robert Habeck in charge of boosting the expansion of renewable energies up to 80% of the country’s power supply.

Germany is set to turn off the nuclear reactors Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf by the end of December.

Shutting down the remaining three nuclear reactors in 2022 will then conclude a decades-long struggle by the anti-nuclear movement that gave rise to the Green Party and other environmental groups in the 1980s. 

…….researchers are confident that the shutdown of Germany’s last nuclear power plants will not cause supply shortages, according to calculations by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin).

In order to keep grid operation stable, congestion management will need to be adjusted. But “the lights will not go out in Germany,” study author Claudia Kemfert said in statement. 

“On the contrary: the [nuclear] shutdown paves the way for the overdue expansion of renewable energies. Nuclear energy was uneconomical from the start and characterised by incalculable risks,” she added………https://www.euractiv.com/section/electricity/news/nuclear-exit-to-unleash-wind-power-in-northern-germany/

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Proposal would expand aid to more victims of nuclear weapons tests

Proposal would expand aid to more victims of nuclear weapons tests,   https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/health/2021-12-10/proposal-would-expand-aid-to-more-victims-of-nuclear-weapons-tests Boise State Public Radio News | By Madelyn Beck,

 December 10, 2021  A 30-year-old federal fund that compensates people sickened by radiation from nuclear weapons testing in the West is set to expire next year, but a new proposal would both extend and expand it.

Proposed changes to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act would allow far more “downwinders” to seek aid, including people in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Guam. It would also expand eligibility in Utah, Arizona and Nevada.

Lawmakers largely agree that government officials should have been more transparent about what they knew when the testing began: materials and fallout could cause illness, cancer and death.

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, explained to fellow lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday that the weapons tests were done when wind was blowing away from Las Vegas or California, but towards many other communities.

“Between 1945 and 1992, the United States conducted 206 above-ground nuclear weapon tests, releasing harmful radiation dust into the air and literally blanketing parts of the United States, including Utah, with poisonous air,” he said.

The proposal would also include aid for uranium miners who the federal government paid to provide materials for weapons testing. Many belonged to nearby tribes, including the Navajo Nation.

“Although the U.S. government – and the private mining companies it contracted with – knew the dangers inherent in uranium mining, they did little to warn these Native American uranium workers, or their communities,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY.

Support for the bill in the House Judiciary Committee was bipartisan but wasn’t unanimous. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, noted that uranium miners were not federal employees. He also said the proposed increase in compensation for current victims, alone, would be pricey.

“No one here disputes that the federal government recklessly took actions that led to our citizens getting cancer,” he said. “But based on what we now know [from this 2005 study], the science simply does not support the expansion of the program under this bill.”

But that study – a National Academy of Sciences report to Congress – was explicit in saying the law’s geographic boundaries for compensation eligibility should be expanded beyond the scope of the bill written in 2000, when it was last updated.

This proposal would extend RECA benefits for another 19 years after enactment.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Nevada Public Radio, Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan PM to push for progress at NPT meet to scrap nuclear weapons

Japan PM to push for progress at NPT meet to scrap nuclear weapons

TOKYO, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on Thursday to do his utmost to push for meaningful progress at a January meeting to review the Non-Proliferation Treaty and encourage action to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The comment by Kishida, who hails from the nuclear memorial city of Hiroshima, comes after the previous such meeting, in New York in 2015, failed to adopt a final document following disagreement over a plan for a nuclear-free Middle East…………  https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/japan-pm-push-progress-npt-meet-scrap-nuclear-weapons-2021-12-09/

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hunterston and Continuous Decommissioning 

 nuClear News No136 Dec 21,  Hunterston and Continuous Decommissioning    The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s 2021-24 Business Plan (1) says it has reviewed the Magnox reactor decommissioning strategy and endorsed a site-specific approach to Magnox reactor decommissioning which will involve a mix of decommissioning strategies. For some sites this will result in their decommissioning being brought forward whilst for others a deferral strategy will be the chosen approach. New Site-Specific Strategies will be developed for each Magnox station across Britain. These will support optimal sequencing of reactor dismantling – a rolling programme of decommissioning which will maximise the opportunity for sharing any lessons learned, developing and implementing new technologies and strengthening wider capability. 
These new site-specific decommissioning strategies are currently being defined. A timetable will be set that best suits each site and a business case developed to set out the benefits and cost and schedule impacts of any changes.  

  Reactor dismantling at the Hunterston A Magnox station, which ceased generation in 1990, is now expected to start in 2035. The previous strategy was to place the reactors into care and maintenance for up to 85 years to allow for radioactivity to decay. The current work programme which involves packaging various waste, sludges etc and placing the packages into an Intermediate Level Waste store will now take until 2030, 40 years after it ceased operation. The plant opened in 1964, so by 2030 Hunterston A will have spent longer being cleaned up than it actually spent generating electricity. Originally the current work programme was expected to be completed by 2022, but problems associated with retrieving waste in 5 bunkers has caused delays. The period between 2030 and 2035 will be spent demolishing various buildings.

 Under the old strategy the NDA was going to install a “weather envelope” around the old Magnox reactors. Work on this has now been suspended. 

  Hunterston B Meanwhile, Hunterston B – Reactor 3 switched off for final time on 26th November. The reactor was first switched on on 6th February 1976. When EDF acquired the power station it was expected to end generation in 2016. (2) Hunterston B Reactor 4 – is scheduled to shut down in January, which will see the end of power generation for the site in North Ayrshire, Scotland. (3)

 Reactor 3 and Reactor 4 were taken offline on 9 March and 3 October 2018, respectively, after cracks in their graphite cores were discovered during routine inspections. In August 2020, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) gave approval to EDF to restart Reactor 4 in August 2020 and Reactor 3 the following month. The reactors were taken offline earlier this year for further inspections of their graphite cores. In April, the ONR gave permission for the units to be    switched back on. However, it said continued operation would be for up to a total of 16.7 terawatt days for Reactor 3 and 16.52 terawatt days for Reactor 4 – about six months of operation for each reactor. Reactor 3 returned to service on 23 April and Reactor 4 on 5 June.


 In June, the UK government and EDF agreed on improved arrangements to decommission the UK’s seven AGR nuclear plants that are scheduled to close this decade. This followed an announcement by EDF that it had decided not to restart the first of the AGRs, Dungeness B, and to begin defuelling with immediate effect. (4) Each of the AGR sites will move across to the NDA on a rolling basis once defueling and fuel free verification are complete, for the decommissioning work to be overseen and managed by the NDA’s Magnox division. However, EDF’s defueling work will be supported by the NDA divisions Sellafield Ltd and Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS) alongside other parts of the NDA group. Spent fuel from Hunterston B will be sent by train to Sellafield. (5)

 EDF has now submitted a defueling safety case to ONR. First there will be what’s called “defueling outage” which will last about 60 days – making sure everything is safe to commence defueling. Defueling is then expected to start in March 2022 and will take around 3 years.
 After defueling the NDA will take control of the AGR reactors. Under the old regime it would have taken until about 2030 to prepare the reactors for a period of care and maintenance. Now Hunterston B will develop a site-specific decommissioning strategy which should involve reactor dismantling sooner rather than later, thus providing the prospect of more continuous employment on the site.


 The NDA, EDF and Magnox have been working together to investigate the feasibility of Hunterston B sharing the use of the Hunterston A Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) store and processing facility. Seems obvious that they should, but EDF has recently been working on plans for a standalone store. EDF and NDA have now agreed to share the Hunterston A store and EDF has suspended work on a Hunterston B store. ONR & SEPA still need to be consulted and a planning application made to North Ayrshire Council (NAC). (6)  https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/nuClearNewsNo136.pdf

 

December 11, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment