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This week’s nuclear news

It’s a critical time for the world, as Russia and USA face off over Ukraine – the mainstream media showing an extraordinary ignorance on the background for all this. In Australia we get only the USA government’s point of view – I don’t know about other countries.

The UK government is poised to legislate for electricity consumers to pay for nuclear reactors long before they are built, and to cop the costs of delays, things going wrong, or the wonderful new reactors not actually operating anyway.. Meanwhile Europe continues to contort itself with the conundrum of deciding that nuclear is ”green” and worthy of tax-payer funding. 
Coronavirus news– it’s all too much for me. We’re all in limbo – and a kind of mental paralysis sets in !

Climate Change.  No, it hasn’t gone away. The last seven years were the hottest on record.

Some bits of good news . To cheer myself up, I’ve been reading a lot about butterflies. AND, the nearly endangered Monarch Butterflies are back  – in their many thousands,  Developing food crops that can thrive in dry and hot conditions. 

Extraditing Julian Assange Threatens Journalists Worldwide.

 Treaties, Constitutions, and Laws Against War — limitless life What if deterrence doesn’t work?

Ukraine crisis.  US-Russia Talks May Be the Last Chance .     What War With Russia Would Look Like. NATO chieftain to Russia: Georgia, Ukraine belong to us, take it or leave it. On eve of Biden-Putin, NATO-Russia talks, Blinken blasts Russia as threat to European continent.

Emissions from the five major economies set to cause a doubling of extremely hot years in many nations. “Don’t Look Up:” Hollywood tackles the myths that fuel climate denial — RenewEconomy

Nuclear energy backers say it’s vital for the fight against global warming. Don’t be so sure. Nuclear is not a practicable means to combat climate change.

Six reasons to say ‘no’ — Beyond Nuclear International

To preserve the planet, we must reduce our consumption of resources..

UN chief welcomes P5 statement on nuclear war prevention . Five world powers vow to prevent spread of nuclear weapons.

Changing patterns for spreading misinformation on pandemics and climate change.

Going nuclear: Should nations unilaterally decide?

Hundreds of thousands of satellites brightening the night sky with negative effects on the ecosphere.

ANTARCTICA. Enormous Antarctic glacier becoming unstable. Maori workers exposed to radiation in cleaning up USA’s failed nuclear reactor in Antarctica.


Argentina pressures UK over deployment of nuclear weapons in Malvinas conflict .


EUROPE. New generation European nuclear power will need investment of 500 billion euros by 2030. Existing plants will require 50 billion. European citizens divided over nuclear energy . European Commission’s divisive plan to label nuclear power ”green”, revealed on the sly? Anger as European Union is poised to subsidise the corrupt and rapacious nuclear industry. Including nuclear power as ”sustainable” completely undermines the European taxonomy’s original aim of the Green Deal.

AUSTRIA. Austria ready to take legal action against inclusion of nuclear power in Europe’s ”green taxonomy”.

RUSSIA. Russia’s nuclear submarine construction reaches a post-Soviet high. Russia’s secret nuclear waste city – Ozersk, City 40.

FRANCE. France – a serious anomaly detected in several EDF nuclear reactors. Fault found in France’s Chooz 2 nuclear reactor – its outage shutdown now extended.

GERMANY. German government struggles to unite on EU energy proposal.

NETHERLANDSFacebook’s gigantic data farm planned for Netherlands causing a severe energy problem.

IRELAND. Ireland’s EU commissioner Mairead McGuinness insists that nuclear power is ”green”, amidst backlash over the EU ”taxonomy”.

GIBRALTARNuclear submarine visiting Gibraltar puts people and the environment in danger.

NORTH KOREA. What we know about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and their military power.

SOUTH AFRICA. Nuclear power station life-extension project running late — even before it starts.

AUSTRALIA. The Australian government is complicit with USA and UK imperilling the health of Julian Assange, may well cause his death. The Australian media colludes with USA, UK and Australian governments’ persecution ofJulian Assange -”Crikey journal” typifies this . .     

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

US-Russia Talks May Be the Last Chance 

 It’s crunch time in Russia-U.S. relations. High-level talks starting Monday will determine the shape of world security for decades to come, observes Tony Kevin. Consortium News, BTony Kevin, Pearls and Irritations  10 Jan 22,

On Monday, vital Russia-U.S. talks will start in Geneva. Russia’s delegation will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and the U.S. by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

These are ‘precursor’ negotiations – ‘talks about talks’, in the old strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT) terminology. Russia is driving the pace. The U.S. is in reactive mode, trying unsuccessfully to slow things down, to trim Russia’s sails. So far they are not succeeding.

Russia’s best-case scenario for Monday is this:  Successful precursor talks will be followed soon after by substantive, detailed foreign minister level negotiations, led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with participation of top military brass from both sides.

Russia is seeking detailed U.S.-Russia agreements on mutual security guarantees in Europe.

Unusually, Russian drafts of these agreements were handed over by Russia to the U.S. and at the same time made public on Dec. 17. Russia will want to achieve these solemn written mutual commitments, as well-summarized by Patrick Lawrence in Consortium News on  Dec. 28:

  • NATO will cease all efforts to expand eastward, notably into Ukraine and Georgia.
  • NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missile batteries in nations bordering Russia.
  • An end to NATO military and naval exercises in nations and seas bordering Russia.
  • The effective restoration of the treaty covering intermediate-range nuclear weapons. The U.S. abandoned the INF pact in August 2019.
  • An ongoing East-West security dialogue

These desired agreements would be backed up by early NATO-Russia negotiations in Brussels to achieve corresponding agreements at that level. Finally, the two presidents would formally seal the deal.

Russia’s worst-case scenario: that if the U.S. fails to negotiate towards this complete package – if the U.S. tries in its usual way to equivocate, delay, or cherry-pick Russia’s proposed deal – Russia will terminate the talks.

Coldest War

Russia-U.S. and Russia-NATO relations would then enter the deepest of deep freezes since the worst years of Cold War One. Russia would focus its economic and diplomatic resources entirely on relations with the East and South – backstopped by the Belt and Road Initiative of its reliable friend China. Russia would effectively stop trying to dialogue with U.S. and NATO Europe and call the U.S. bluff on enhanced sanctions. 

On the now highly militarized Russia-NATO frontier, armies, navies and tactical intermediate range missile forces (sufficient to destroy most of Europe and European Russia) would confront each other. Risks of East-West war by provocation or accident would be far greater than in the years 1989-2014, before the sharp deterioration in East-West relations brought about by the U.S.-backed, 2014 Ukraine coup.

Time Running Out

These present talks instigated by Russia are thus really the Last Chance Saloon: the last opportunity maybe for decades to pursue relaxation of East-West tensions – ‘détente’, in the old, nearly forgotten word of late Cold War One. Russia has had enough of years of creeping security deterioration and has drawn its red lines………

Russia has seen how under successive U.S. presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden, a strategically destructive pattern of U.S. and NATO behavior had emerged since 1999, when President Bill Clinton welshed on the 1989-91 agreements between Reagan and George H.W. Bush with Gorbachev, that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe following the reunification of Germany. ‘Though there was no formal written treaty as such, subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were well founded in numerous written contemporaneous memcons and telcons (formal written records of conversations) at the highest levels. 

As the West offered soothing words and prevarications, NATO expanded, first with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in 1999. There were further large expansions in 2004 and 2009, bringing NATO right up against Russia’s Western frontiers. Provocatively, NATO then listed Ukraine and Georgia as candidates for NATO membership……………………………….

Putin is now holding the strongest negotiating cards. My betting — indeed my hope — is that Russia will achieve its demanded mutual security guarantees in Europe in the coming weeks.

International security – Australia’s security — will be greatly strengthened if he succeeds.

Much could still go wrong. There are troublemakers in the Western bloc whose careers depend on maintaining East-West tensions at just below the level of war. They will try hard to subvert and derail Russia’s goals.

In Australia, as in the U.S., there is almost complete public ignorance of this subject matter. Be prepared for massive disinformation in the coming weeks from the partly Pentagon and State Department funded think tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and from mainstream media, hysterically whipping-up alleged threats of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.  This propaganda offensive, turning Russia’s defensive posture into aggression, is already under way, especially in the U.S.

Australia sadly no longer has the intellectual resources for an informed and balanced public discussion of these momentous developments. Ignorance and groundless fears of Russia prevail. Dissenting voices such as mine have been marginalized and almost silenced.

One might hope there is more reality-based knowledge in the national security community. But if there is, they are not telling the public. I fear that there too, ignorance and prejudice have taken hold. We are perilously leaving the strategic thinking on Russia to our Big Brother in Washington.

.Tony Kevin is a former Australian senior diplomat, having served as ambassador to Cambodia and Poland, as well as being posted to Australia’s embassy in Moscow. He is the author of six published books on public policy and international relations.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

To bankroll the failing nuclear industry, the UK government will push thousands into fuel poverty, with its Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill

Bad for fuel poverty, bad for climate action: why MPs should vote against the Nuclear Energy Bill on Monday.

Controversial legislation is being rushed through parliament which will transfer billions of pounds onto
individual consumers, whilst affording them no protection from the spiralling construction costs of nuclear power. Introduced at the end of October when attention was rightly focused on COP26, the Bill has received little attention.

Yet it will have a profound impact on millions of families forced to foot the bill and will push thousands more into fuel poverty. So why is the government forcing more families into fuel poverty?

To bankroll a failing industry. With all 15 British nuclear power plants set to be closed by 2030, funding for eight new ones is in a state of collapse. Only one plant – Hinkley Point C – is under construction and
this is running ten years late and £4.5 billion over budget. The Bill enables energy companies to use a regulated asset base (RAB) model to transfer the construction costs – and financial risks – onto consumers
and start making a profit even before the plants generate any electricity.

 Labour Outlook 9th Jan 2022

January 10, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

What War With Russia Would Look Like

Consortium News, January 10, 2022   Wendy Sherman thinks her aim in talks with Russian officials starting Monday is to lecture them on the cost of hubris. Instead she’s set to lead the U.S., NATO, and Europe down a path of ruin, warns Scott Ritter.By Scott Ritter

Special to Consortium News If ever a critical diplomatic negotiation was doomed to fail from the start, the discussions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine and Russian security guarantees is it.

The two sides can’t even agree on an agenda.

From the Russian perspective, the situation is clear: “The Russian side came here [to Geneva] with a clear position that contains a number of elements that, to my mind, are understandable and have been so clearly formulated—including at a high level—that deviating from our approaches simply is not possible,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the press after a pre-meeting dinner on Sunday hosted by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is leading the U.S. delegation.

Ryabkov was referring Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands to U.S. President Joe Biden in early December regarding Russian security guarantees, which were then laid out by Moscow in detail in the form of two draft treaties, one a Russian-U.S. security treaty, the other a security agreement between Russia and NATO.

The latter would bar Ukraine from joining NATO and rule out any eastward expansion by the trans-Atlantic military alliance. At the time, Ryabkov tersely noted that the U.S. should immediately begin to address the proposed drafts with an eye to finalizing something when the two sides meet. Now, with the meeting beginning on Monday, it doesn’t appear as if the U.S. has done any such thing……….

All the U.S. has been willing to do, it seems, is to remind Russia of so-called “serious consequences” should Russia invade Ukraine, something the U.S. and NATO fear is imminent, given the scope and scale of recent Russian military exercises in the region involving tens of thousands of troops. This threat was made by Biden to Putin on several occasions, including a phone call initiated by Putin last week to help frame the upcoming talks.

Yet on the eve of the Ryabkov-Sherman meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken simply reiterated these threats, declaring that Russia would face “massive consequences” if it invaded Ukraine………..

Lessons of history

It is as if both Biden and Blinken are deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to reading Russia.

Ryabkov has alluded to a fact already made clear by the Russians—there will be no compromise when it comes to Russia’s legitimate national security interests. And if the U.S. cannot understand how the accumulation of military power encompassed in a military alliance which views Russia as a singular, existential threat to its members’ security is seen by Russia as threatening, then there is no comprehension of how the events of June 22, 1941 have shaped the present -day Russian psyche, why Russia will never again allow such a situation to occur, and why the talks are doomed before they even begin.

As for the American threats, Russia has given its response—any effort to sanction Russia would result, as Putin told Biden last month, in a “complete rupture of relations” between Russia and those countries attempting sanctions. One need not be a student of history to comprehend that the next logical step following a “complete rupture of relations” between two parties that are at loggerheads over matters pertaining to existential threats to the national security of one or both is not the peaceful resumption of relations, but war.

There is no mealy-mouthed posturing by Foggy Bottom peacocks taking place in Moscow, but rather a cold, hard, statement of fact—ignore Russia’s demands at you own peril. The U.S., it seems, believes that the worst-case scenario is one where Russia invades Ukraine, only to wilt under the sustained pressure of economic sanctions and military threats.

Russia’s worse-case scenario is one where it engages in armed conflict with NATO……………

The Shape of War  What would a conflict between Russia and NATO look like? In short, not like anything NATO has prepared for. ………………….

Given the overwhelming supremacy Russia has both in terms of the ability to project air power backed by precision missile attacks, a strategic air campaign against Ukraine would accomplish in days what the U.S. took more than a month to do against Iraq in 1991……….

While the U.S., NATO, the EU, and the G7 have all promised “unprecedented sanctions,” sanctions only matter if the other side cares. Russia, by rupturing relations with the West, no longer would care about sanctions. Moreover, it is a simple acknowledgement of reality that Russia can survive being blocked from SWIFT transactions longer than Europe can survive without Russian energy. Any rupturing of relations between Russia and the West will result in the complete embargoing of Russian gas and oil to European customers.

There is no European Plan B. Europe will suffer, and because Europe is composed of erstwhile democracies, politicians will pay the price. All those politicians who followed the U.S. blindly into a confrontation with Russia will now have to answer to their respective constituents why they committed economic suicide on behalf of a Nazi-worshipping, thoroughly corrupt nation (Ukraine) which has nothing in common with the rest of Europe. It will be a short conversation.

NATO’s Fix…………

Russia won’t wait until the U.S. has had time to accumulate sufficient military power, either. Russia will simply destroy the offending party through the combination of an air campaign designed to degrade the economic function of the targeted nation, and a ground campaign designed to annihilate the ability to wage war. Russia does not need to occupy the territory of NATO for any lengthy period—just enough to destroy whatever military power has been accumulated by NATO near its borders.

And—here’s the kicker—short of employing nuclear weapons, there’s nothing NATO can do to prevent this outcome. Militarily, NATO is but a shadow of its former self.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sherman will face off against Ryabkov in Geneva, with the fate of Europe in her hands. The sad thing is, she doesn’t see it that way. Thanks to Biden, Blinken and the host of Russophobes who populate the U.S. national security state today, Sherman thinks she is there to simply communicate the consequences of diplomatic failure to Russia. To threaten. With mere words……..

One wonders if Sherman, Biden, Blinken, and the others have thought this through. Odds are, they have not, and the consequences for Europe will be dire.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As nuclear power’s failures become more apparent, government and media enthusiastically promote it.

Why is support for nuclear power noisiest just as its failures become most clear?  The UK government and mainstream media agree we need nuclear to avoid the worst climate change. They’re wrong – so why aren’t we hearing that? Open Democracy, Andrew Stirling, Phil Johnstone, 9 January 2022, 

”…………………….This Green Party case is particularly noteworthy, since it is (strangely given underlying patterns of public concern on nuclear issues), the only organised political force in England collectively offering a consistently sceptical position about nuclear power in Parliament. With the longstanding Green grounding on this issue so strong over a half-century, it is especially strange that this development should come at a time when – at least for the Greens – the argument is more over than it has ever been.

What remains particularly striking about all the instances we cite is that none engage substantively with the real-world performance of nuclear power as it is. Despite vivid rhetorics around needs for ‘science-based’ policy – and occasionally colourful fear-mongering about intermittency ‘putting the lights out’ – none of these prolific voices address (let alone refute) the worldwide substantive picture that shows nuclear power overwhelmingly to be slower, less effective and more expensive at tackling climate disruption than are renewable and storage alternatives.

UK government policy

Despite the surface commitment, we see this trend in UK government energy policy too. Dig into more specialist civil service policy papers and you find spiralling prices and little in the way of an energy-related case for nuclear power. But – in a remarkable departure from the normally diligent attention to costs – the most recent energy white paper ignored all that boring economic detail. Official UK nuclear attachments are treated as an unquestionable given.

So, it might be understood why deep-rooted nuclear interests are seeking to hide these inconvenient facts behind pretty pictures of the West Highlands. But why is the media so keen to help, squirrelling realities away from view behind tales of repentant environmentalists? Why is so much new noise building up behind nuclear power in formerly critical political parties, just when the case has grown weaker than ever?

Profound issues are raised here, not only concerning the cost and speed of climate action, but about the independence and professionalism of the UK media and the health of British democracy as a whole. Whichever opinion we each take on nuclear issues – and whatever the undoubted uncertainties and ambiguities – we should all care very deeply about this.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | media, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The Australian media colludes with USA, UK and Australian governments’ persecution ofJulian Assange -”Crikey journal” typifies this

After seven years of arbitrary detention followed by three years of solitary confinement and other tortures in London’s Belmarsh Prison, Assange thinks of suicide constantly. That the U.S. is slowly killing this Australian journalist, partner and father before our eyes for exposing war crimes while the Australian Government does nothing and the majority of our press either remains silent or – when they say anything at all – write flippant and inaccurate stories about him demonstrates just how broken this country’s media is.

Australian media must stand up for Assange’s freedom,,15918 By Matilda Duncan | 10 January 2022,  For far too long the Australian media has remained silent in the face of Julian Assange’s persecution and that must change, writes Matilda Duncan.

LAST MONTH, Crikey’s legal correspondent Michael Bradley wrote a bizarre analysis of Julian Assange’s impending extradition to the U.S. without any regard for basic facts.

It’s worth examining, as it typifies the failures and absurdities of Australian press responses to Assange going back a decade — filled with lies, smears and false narratives that prevent the public from understanding the significance and substance of his case.

In writing about one of the gravest threats to press freedom in years, Bradley went as far as to include a cringeworthy – if not downright pernicious, given Assange recently suffered a stroke and is in precarious health – reference to a Monty Python quote being inscribed on Assange’s tombstone that ‘he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’. 

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

In allowing his thoughts to remain mired in diversionary debates and myths about WikiLeaks and Assange, Bradley completely misses the point of the U.S. extradition case and fails to mention the dire threat to investigative journalism around the world it presents.

He does not confront or condemn the alarming legal precedent of the United States charging a foreign national, one of our citizens, with espionage under U.S domestic law — despite Assange not being a U.S. citizen and WikiLeaks not being a U.S.-based publication.

Continue reading

January 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Russia’s secret nuclear waste city – Ozersk, City 40

Russian city hiding chilling Cold War secret from world

By Richard Wood • Senior Journalist Jan 9, 2022 There has been a “slow-motion” disaster unfolding over the past 70 years at one of Russia’s most secretive sites. Ozersk, codenamed City 40, was the birthplace of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons program at the dawn of the Cold War.

On the surface, it was a clean modern city that boasted good housing, spacious parks and high quality schools to attract the country’s top nuclear scientists.And its purpose was seen as so important that Russian authorities effectively hid it from the rest of the country and the world. But while, the work of Ozersk’s army of scientists developing Russia’s plutonium supplies was cloaked in secrecy, its environmental impact proved harder to contain.Today its legacy of radiation pollution has earned Ozersk the title ‘Graveyard of the Earth’.

Building Russia’s nuclear shield

Ozersk’s origins can be traced to the US dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 at the end of World War II.

Alarmed at the terrifying new weapon of mass destruction, Russian leader Josef Stalin ordered his scientists to build a nuclear arsenal to combat the American threat.The Mayak plant deep in the Urals was founded in 1948 to develop essential large scale plutonium supplies for the Soviet atomic bomb. The work needed hundreds of workers.

Ozersk was founded nearby, initially as a sort of shanty town of wooden huts to house the workers. But over ensuing yeas, it grew to become a modern city of 100,000 people, with many of its citizens working at the Mayak plant.


US environmental historian Kate Brown has described Ozersk and its counterpart nuclear cities in the US as “Plutopias”, a merging of the words plutonium and utopia. Professor Brown, who wrote Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, told that Ozersk residents were the envy of most Russians.

‘When I wrote about plutopia, I mean by that special, limited-access cities exclusively for plutonium plant operators who were well paid and lived comfortably. The people who lived in them were ‘chosen’,” Professor Brown said.”The plutonium cities such as Ozersk provided wonderful opportunities because not only was the housing very cheap and the wages very good, but the schools were good.”

But in Cold War Russia this all came at the price of intrusive security and curbs on personal freedom.Ozersk did not appear on maps and its citizens were struck from the national census.Residents were even forbidden to contact families and friends for up to years.

And for decades, the city was ringed by barbed wire fences and guard posts and entry was strictly controlled.

Lake of Death’

Professor Brown said both the Russians and American governments were prepared to cut corners in their dash to develop an edge in nuclear weapons.

And in 1957 one of the cooling systems at the Mayak plant, near Ozersk, failed, causing one of the tanks that contained the plant’s nuclear waste to overheat and explode.

While there were no casualties from the blast itself, more than 20 million curies of nuclear waste were swept up by the wind and scattered around the nearby countryside.The full effects of the Mayak radiation release and other incidents took years, even decades to become fully apparent, Professor Brown said.

The plutonium disasters were not big, explosive overnight affairs. They were slow-motion disasters that occurred over four decades,” she sai d.Officials from the Mayak plant also ordered the dumping of its waste into nearby lakes and rivers, which flow into the the Arctic Ocean.

Prof Brown said one of the lakes near Mayak has been so heavily contaminated by plutonium that local people have renamed it the ‘Lake of Death’.

‘Cover up’

The scale of the pollution was hushed up by Russian authorities for decades.

“Thanks to exhaustive efforts by the Soviet government and the already secretive nature of the location, for a long time, no one outside of the Ozersk area was even aware that it happened.

“It wasn’t until renegade Soviet scientists exposed the cover-up in the 1970s that scientists started to grasp the extent of the disaster.”

Radioactive spills have also happened at other secret Russian military and industry sites.In August 2019 a brief spike in radioactivity was recorded following a mysterious and deadly explosion at the Russian navy’s testing range in Nyonoksa on the White Sea.The explosion killed two servicemen and five nuclear engineers.

Campaigners expose contamination

Today the Mayak plant now serves the more peaceful purpose of reprocessing spent radioactive fuel.In Ozersk many restrictions have been eased, with residents free to leave when they want.

But the city is still surrounded by thick walls and guard fences, and entry by outsiders is strictly controlled by government officials.And while efforts have been made to clean up the environment, radiation pollution remains a threat to the health of residents.

recent study showed that Ozersk residents are more than twice as likely to develop lung, liver, and skeletal cancers and far more likely to experience chronic radiation syndrome.Prof Brown says Russian environmental activists still face threats and persecution for exposing the radiation levels.

“They’ve paid a heavy price in terms of prosecution by the state and receiving threats of fines and even jail,” she said.  “But they were determined to expose what really was disaster by design.”

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Spain, wastes | Leave a comment

Blinken on CNN: Unrelenting bellicosity, full-court offensive for control of former Soviet territory — Anti-bellum

Based on the transcript of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union show on January 9, below, as posted on the State Department website. Much of what has been excised is standard diplomatic verbiage along the lines of we’d prefer a diplomatic solution but….We’d like to think […]

Blinken on CNN: Unrelenting bellicosity, full-court offensive for control of former Soviet territory — Anti-bellum

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Open Democracy busts the spin of nuclear front group ”Young Generation Network”

Why is support for nuclear power noisiest just as its failures become most clear?  The UK government and mainstream media agree we need nuclear to avoid the worst climate change. They’re wrong – so why aren’t we hearing that? Open Democracy, Andrew Stirling, Phil Johnstone, 9 January 2022, 

At Edinburgh’s Haymarket station, on the route used by COP26 delegates hopping across to Glasgow in November, a large poster displayed a vista from the head of Loch Shiel. In the foreground, a monument to the Jacobite rebellion towers from the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard. From there, the water sweeps back to a rugged line of hills.

This is one of Scotland’s most iconic views, famous for both its history and its role in the Harry Potter films.

On the poster, written in the sky above the loch are the words: “Keep nature natural: more nuclear power means more wild spaces like these.” At the bottom is a hashtag – #NetZeroNeedsNuclear – with no further mention of who might be behind this advert.

But it’s not hard to find a website for this group, which claims to be run by “a team of young, international volunteers made up of engineers, scientists and communicators”, all with the engagingly smiley profile pictures to be expected from citizen activists.

Only when you scroll to the end do you see these activities are ‘sponsored’ by nuclear companies EDF and Urenco. At the bottom, it is explained that Nuclear Needs Net Zero is part of the Young Generation Network (YGN) – “young members of the Nuclear Institute (NI), which is the professional body and learned society for the UK nuclear sector”. The website asserts that the Nuclear4Climate campaign – described as “grassroots” both on the site and in a presentation to an International Atomic Agency conference in 2019 – is in fact “coordinated via regional and national nuclear associations and technical societies”.

Of course, all this is par for the course in the creative world of PR. But there are more substantive grounds why nuclear advocates might wish to avoid too much public scrutiny at the moment. One reality, which can be agreed on from all sides, is that this is by far the worst period in the 70-year history of this ageing industry. So how come it is benefitting from growing and noisy support in mainstream and social media? Why are easily refuted arguments still being deployed to justify new nuclear power alongside renewables in the energy supply mix? And why has the media seized so enthusiastically on a few prominent converts to the nuclear cause?

Nuclear loses out to renewables

At current prices, atomic energy now costs around three times as much as wind or solar power. And that’s before you consider the full expense of waste management, elaborate security, anti-proliferation measures or periodic accidents. For more than a decade, nuclear has been plagued by escalating costsexpanding build times and crashing orders. Trends in recent years are all steeply in the wrong direction.

So the rising clamour of advocacy seems to be in inverse proportion to performance. Whatever view one takes, nuclear power is in a worse position than it’s ever been compared with low-carbon alternatives – and a position that is rapidly declining further.

Among those few countries still pursuing large-scale nuclear new-build programmes, most (like the UK) are either equipped with, or actively chasing, nuclear weapons. But even in the UK (home to one of the proportionally most ambitious nuclear programmes in the world), official data unequivocally shows that renewable energy seriously outpaces nuclear power as a pathway to zero-carbon energy.

Why are easily refuted arguments still being deployed to justify new nuclear power?

In fact, despite misleading suggestions to the contrary by senior figures, background government data has for decades shown that the massive scale of viable UK renewable resources is clearly adequate for all foreseeable needs. Even with storage and flexibility costs included, renewables are available far more rapidly and cost-effectively than nuclear power.

So, for all the breakdancing, it really is a conundrum why persistently bullish government and industry claims on nuclear power remain so seriously under-challenged in the wider debate. It is becoming ever more clear that nuclear plans are diverting attention, money and resources that could be far more effective if used in other ways.

One impact of this continuing official nuclear support is that climate action is being diminished and slowed. As a paper in Nature Energy (which one of us co-authored) showed last year, in worldwide data over the past three decades, the scales of national nuclear programmes do not tend to correlate with generally lower carbon emissions. The building of renewables does.

In fact, this study found “a negative association between the scales of national nuclear and renewables attachments. This suggests nuclear and renewables… tend to crowd each other out.”

The issues are, of course, complex. But this finding supports what the dire performance picture also predicts: that nuclear power diverts resources and attention away from more effective strategies, increasing costs to consumers and taxpayers. So it is even odder that loud voices continue to make naïve calls to ‘do everything’ – that nuclear must on principle be considered ‘part of the mix’ – as if expense, development time, limited resources and diverse preferable alternatives are not all crucial issues………. .

January 10, 2022 Posted by | spinbuster, Ukraine | 4 Comments

Very quietly, NRC plans mass shipments of high level radioactive waste.

Critics of the proposed licensing are demanding that the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board halt the Holtec licensing because it is illegal. 

Plans for Mass Shipments of High-Level Radioactive Waste Quietly Disclosed BY JOHN LAFORGE

How far is your house or apartment from a major highway, or railroad line? Do you want to play Russian roulette with radioactive waste in transit for 40 years?

Last month US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff quietly reported preparing for tens of thousands of cross-country shipments of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactors to the desert Southwest. The oft-disparaged US infrastructure of decrepit of roads, faulty bridgesrickety rails, and rusty barges may not be ready for such an onrush of immensely heavy rad waste casks.

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January 10, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Austria ready to take legal action against inclusion of nuclear power in Europe’s ”green taxonomy”

 Austria is ready to contest if Europe grants the green label to nuclear and gas. Under pressure from certain European states, the latest version of its “green” label to attract private capital includes gas and nuclear.
Austria, which has banned the atom in its constitution, is negotiating to remove it from this classification and reserves the right “to take legal action” if it does not, confirms diplomat Wolfgang Wagner.

 Ouest France 7th Jan 2022

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Belarus, climate change, politics international | Leave a comment

New generation European nuclear power will need investment of 500 billion euros by 2030. Existing plants will require 50 billion.

New generation European nuclear power plants will require an investment of "500 billion [euros] by 2050," said in an interview in the Journal du dimanche (JDD) dated January 9 the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton , which considers “crucial” to open the green labeling to nuclear power as part of the energy transition.

"Existing nuclear power plants alone will require 50 billion euros of investment by 2030. And 500 billion by 2050 for new generation ones! », Affirms the French commissioner.

European Commission unveiled a green labeling project for nuclear and gas power plants, which aims to facilitate the financing of installations contributing to the fight against climate change..........

Nuclear power is the subject of heated debates between the Twenty-Seven, a dozen countries - France in the lead - actively promoting nuclear power in the face of States very reluctant to the civilian atom, such as Germany or Austria. Le Monde 9th Jan 2022

January 10, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Enormous Antarctic glacier becoming unstable

Boaty McBoatface craft to explore further beneath ‘Doomsday glacier’ than ever before

Glacier the size of the UK contains enough water to raise global sea levels by 65cm

Harry Cockburn, Environment Correspondent,

Antarctica’s enormous Thwaites glacier, AKA the “Doomsday glacier”, is the size of Britain, but is becoming increasingly unstable and poses a major risk to millions of people living on coastlines around the world.

Thwaites contains enough water to directly raise sea levels by 65cm if it collapses, but there are fears it could also spark a chain reaction leading to

even greater sea level rises of several metres. Now, a new research mission has been launched using a fleet of underwater robots, to further investigate the melting ice sheet which is – for now – holding the
glacier back.

 Independent 6th Jan 2022

January 10, 2022 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear Energy Financing Bill – a poisoned chalice for the UK public.

 The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is supporting calls to MPs to reject the Nuclear Energy Financing Bill when it comes back to the House of Commons for its Report Stage reading next Monday (10th January). The Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee, Councillor David
Blackburn, called the bill a ‘poisoned chalice’ for the British public:

“This bill will mean that consumers will ultimately pay the cost of developing any new ultra-expensive nuclear power plants through a surcharge applied to customers’ electricity bills. “Civil nuclear projects are
notorious for being delivered massively above budget and enormously behind time.

Consequently, there are only two main players in the nuclear market, and these have had their financial fingers burned. “The government wants to sweeten the pill by introducing a new method of financing nuclear plants called the Regulated Asset Base. This will mean that customers pay for cost
overruns and delays, and even the cost of abortive projects, whilst the developer and operator reap all of the rewards.”

 NFLA 7th Jan 2022

 The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill aims to provide for a new model for
financing new nuclear power stations in the UK. This briefing covers the
Bill’s progress through Parliament, through second reading and committee

 House of Commons Library 7th Feb 2022

January 10, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons states like USA must end the hypocrisy

Simple logic decries the hypocrisy that acknowledges the apocalyptic risk of the very existence of these weapons yet fails to acknowledge the continued pursuit of new and enhanced weapons.

Nuclear weapon states like US must end the hypocrisy ROBERT DODGE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/08/22 

In an open letter to President Biden over 1,000 physicians, health professionals and concerned citizens have called on the president to take bold action toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons in anticipation of his administration’s Nuclear Posture Review expected to be released in the next month.

As first responders dealing with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic — and recognizing that there is no adequate medical or humanitarian response to nuclear war — they understand the only way to prevent catastrophic consequences is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. 

Their call joins recent initiatives for sensible nuclear policy called for by defense and disarmament experts, U.S. local and state elected officials, and scientists asking the U.S. to take a leadership role in the abolition of nuclear weapons, with immediate steps to defuse the global nuclear tensions that have moved humanity to 100 seconds until midnight, the graphic representation of nuclear Armageddon determined by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

hese immediate steps outlined in the Back from the Brink Coalition include:

  • Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals
  • Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first
  • Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. president to launch a nuclear attack
  • Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
  • Canceling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons

Knowing the science of the climate devastation that would follow even a limited, regional nuclear war, it must be asked under what circumstances any nation is willing to commit collective suicide by launching a nuclear attack? The country, and indeed the world, awaits President Biden‘s Nuclear Posture Review, at which point the president will take ownership of U.S. nuclear policy and our future.

Thus far, little change is noted from the Trump era nuclear and defense policy. The current fiscal year has seen the United States spend over $74 billion on nuclear weapons programs alone. Initial indications are that the Biden defense budget will see this amount increase — at a time when the world struggles to get the entire planet vaccinated against COVID 19 with an estimated global cost of $50 billion according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This recent joint statement by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states on the eve of the COVID-postponed NPT Review Conference on “Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races” acknowledged avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities, while affirming the “Reagan/Gorbachev” principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. They stated that nuclear weapons exist to deter aggression — when in fact they are the most egregious aggressive threat to all of humanity.

The joint statement expresses the importance of arms control and nonproliferation treaties, including compliance with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while — in fact — each nation is aggressively modernizing and growing their nuclear arsenals, spending billions of dollars in the process. 

Simple logic decries the hypocrisy that acknowledges the apocalyptic risk of the very existence of these weapons yet fails to acknowledge the continued pursuit of new and enhanced weapons.

What will it take to deter these leaders in their false narrative of why these weapons continue to exist? We must demand bold and immediate action to make their closing statement credible: “We are resolved to pursue constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests and concerns.”

Their actions alone will demonstrate their commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. 

January 10, 2022 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment