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How the U.S. Started a Cold War with Russia and Left Ukraine to Fight It

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies, 1 Mar 22,

The defenders of Ukraine are bravely resisting Russian aggression, shaming the rest of the world and the UN Security Council for its failure to protect them. It is an encouraging sign that the Russians and Ukrainians are holding talks in Belarus that may lead to a ceasefire. All efforts must be made to bring an end to this war before the Russian war machine kills thousands more of Ukraine’s defenders and civilians, and forces hundreds of thousands more to flee. 

But there is a more insidious reality at work beneath the surface of this classic morality play, and that is the role of the United States and NATO in setting the stage for this crisis.

President Biden has called the Russian invasion “unprovoked,” but that is far from the truth. In the four days leading up to the invasion, ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) documented a dangerous increase in ceasefire violations in Eastern Ukraine, with 5,667 violations and 4,093 explosions. 

Most were inside the de facto borders of the Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics, consistent with incoming shell-fire by Ukraine government forces. With nearly 700 OSCE ceasefire monitors on the ground, it is not credible that these were all “false flag” incidents staged by separatist forces, as U.S. and British officials claimed.

Whether the shell-fire was just another escalation in the long-running civil war or the opening salvos of a new government offensive, it was certainly a provocation. But the Russian invasion has far exceeded any proportionate action to defend the DPR and LPR from those attacks, making it disproportionate and illegal. 

In the larger context though, Ukraine has become an unwitting victim and proxy in the resurgent U.S. Cold War against Russia and China, in which the United States has surrounded both countries with military forces and offensive weapons, withdrawn from a whole series of arms control treaties, and refused to negotiate resolutions to rational security concerns raised by Russia.

In December 2021, after a summit between Presidents Biden and Putin, Russia submitted a draft proposal for a new mutual security treaty between Russia and NATO, with 9 articles to be negotiated. They represented a reasonable basis for a serious exchange. The most pertinent to the crisis in Ukraine was simply to agree that NATO would not accept Ukraine as a new member, which is not on the table in the foreseeable future in any case. But the Biden administration brushed off Russia’s entire proposal as a nonstarter, not even a b820asis for negotiations.

So why was negotiating a mutual security treaty so unacceptable that Biden was ready to risk thousands of Ukrainian lives, although not a single American life, rather than attempt to find common ground? What does that say about the relative value that Biden and his colleagues place on American versus Ukrainian lives? And what is this strange position that the United States occupies in today’s world that permits an American president to risk so many Ukrainian lives without asking Americans to share their pain and sacrifice? 

The breakdown in U.S. relations with Russia and the failure of Biden’s inflexible brinkmanship precipitated this war, and yet Biden’s policy “externalizes” all the pain and suffering so that Americans can, as another wartime president once said, “go about their business” and keep shopping. America’s European allies, who must now house hundreds of thousands of refugees and face spiraling energy prices, should be wary of falling in line behind this kind of “leadership” before they, too, end up on the front line.

At the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact, NATO’s Eastern European counterpart, was dissolved, and NATO should have been as well, since it had achieved the purpose it was built to serve. Instead, NATO has lived on as a dangerous, out-of-control military alliance dedicated mainly to expanding its sphere of operations and justifying its own existence. It has expanded from 16 countries in 1991 to a total of 30 countries today, incorporating most of Eastern Europe, at the same time as it has committed aggression, bombings of civilians and other war crimes. 

In 1999, NATO launched an illegal war to militarily carve out an independent Kosovo from the remnants of Yugoslavia. NATO airstrikes during the Kosovo War killed hundreds of civilians, and its leading ally in the war, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is now on trial at The Hague for the appalling war crimes he committed under the cover of NATO bombing, including cold-blooded murders of hundreds of prisoners to sell their internal organs on the international transplant market. 

Far from the North Atlantic, NATO joined the United States in its 20-year war in Afghanistan, and then attacked and destroyed Libya in 2011, leaving behind a failed state, a continuing refugee crisis and violence and chaos across the region.

In 1991, as part of a Soviet agreement to accept the reunification of East and West Germany, Western leaders assured their Soviet counterparts that they would not expand NATO any closer to Russia than the border of a united Germany. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker promised that NATO would not advance “one inch” beyond the German border. The West’s broken promises are spelled out for all to see in 30 declassified documents published on the National Security Archive website.

After expanding across Eastern Europe and waging wars in Afghanistan and Libya, NATO has predictably come full circle to once again view Russia as its principal enemy. U.S. nuclear weapons are now based in five NATO countries in Europe: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey, while France and the U.K. already have their own nuclear arsenals. U.S. “missile defense” systems, which could be converted to fire offensive nuclear missiles, are based in Poland and Romania, including at a base in Poland only 100 miles from the Russian border. 

Another Russian request in its December proposal was for the United States to simply rejoin the 1988 INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), under which both sides agreed not to deploy short- or intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Trump withdrew from the treaty in 2019 on the advice of his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who also has the scalps of the 1972 ABM Treaty, the 2015 JCPOA with Iran and the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea dangling from his gun-belt.

None of this can justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the world should take Russia seriously when it says that its conditions for ending the war and returning to diplomacy are Ukrainian neutrality and disarmament. While no country can be expected to completely disarm in today’s armed-to-the-teeth world, neutrality could be a serious long-term option for Ukraine. 

There are many successful precedents, like Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Finland and Costa Rica. Or take the case of Vietnam. It has a common border and serious maritime disputes with China, but Vietnam has resisted U.S. efforts to embroil it in its Cold War with China, and remains committed to its long-standing “Four Nos” policy: no military alliances; no affiliation with one country against another; no foreign military bases; and no threats or uses of force. 

The world must do whatever it takes to obtain a ceasefire in Ukraine and make it stick. Maybe UN Secretary General Guterres or a UN special representative could act as a mediator, possibly with a peacekeeping role for the UN. This will not be easy – one of the still unlearned lessons of other wars is that it is easier to prevent war through serious diplomacy and a genuine commitment to peace than to end a war once it has started.

If and when there is a ceasefire, all parties must be prepared to start afresh to negotiate lasting diplomatic solutions that will allow all the people of Donbas, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and other NATO members to live in peace. Security is not a zero-sum game, and no country or group of countries can achieve lasting security by undermining the security of others. 

The United States and Russia must also finally assume the responsibility that comes with stockpiling over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and agree on a plan to start dismantling them, in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Lastly, as Americans condemn Russia’s aggression, it would be the epitome of hypocrisy to forget or ignore the many recent wars in which the United States and its allies have been the aggressors: in Kosovo, AfghanistanIraq, Haiti, SomaliaPalestinePakistanLibyaSyria and Yemen

We sincerely hope that Russia will end its illegal, brutal invasion of Ukraine long before it commits a fraction of the massive killing and destruction that the United States and its allies have committed in our illegal wars.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK Women for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher with CODEPINK and the author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. 

March 1, 2022 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian military claims Chernobyl nuclear plant under joint protection with Ukrainian forces

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A fatal disconnect? the different narratives of Russia and the West on the Ukraine crisis

Putin’s Nuclear Threat. The disconnect between the Western and Russian narratives in the current conflict could prove fatal to the world, writes Scott Ritter.

Vladimir Putin is a madman. He’s lost it. At least that is what the leaders of the West would like you to believe. According to their narrative, Putin — isolated, alone, confused, and angry at the unfolding military disaster Russia was undergoing in Ukraine — lashed out, ostensibly threatening the entire world with nuclear annihilation.

In a meeting with his top generals on Sunday, the beleaguered Russian president announced, “I order the defense minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service.”

The reason for this action, Putin noted, centered on the fact that, “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country” in relation to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

The “deterrence forces” Putin spoke of refers to Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

What made the Russian president’s words resonate even more was that last Thursday, when announcing the commencement of Russia’s “special military operation” against Ukraine, Putin declared that “no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to the destruction and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.” He emphasized that Russia is “one of the most potent nuclear powers and also has a certain edge in a range of state-of-the-art weapons.”

When Putin issued that threatThe Washington Post described it as “empty, a mere baring of fangs.” The Pentagon, involved as it was in its own review of U.S. nuclear posture designed to address threats such as this, seemed non-plussed, with an anonymous official noting that U.S. policy makers “don’t see an increased threat in that regard.”

NATO’s Response

For NATO’s part, the Trans-Atlantic military alliance, which sits at the heart of the current crisis, issued a statement in which it noted that:

“Russia’s actions pose a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security, and they will have geo-strategic consequences. NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the security and defense of all Allies. We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime assets. We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies.”

Hidden near the bottom of this statement, however, was a passage which, when examined closely, underpinned the reasoning behind Putin’s nuclear muscle-flexing. “[W]e have held consultations under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty,” the statement noted. “We have decided, in line with our defensive planning to protect all Allies, to take additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defense across the Alliance.”

Under Article 4, members can bring any issue of concern, especially related to the security of a member country, to the table for discussion within the North Atlantic Council. NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland triggered the Article 4 consultation following the Russian incursion into Ukraine. In a statement issued on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expanded on the initial NATO statement, declaring that NATO was committed to protecting and defending all its allies, including Ukraine.

Three things about this statement stood out. First, by invoking Article IV, NATO was positioning itself for potential offensive military action; its previous military interventions against Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2004, and Libya in 2011, were all done under Article IV of the NATO Charter. Seen in this light, the premise that NATO is an exclusively defensive organization, committed to the promise of collective self-defense, is baseless.

Second, while Article V (collective defense) protections only extend to actual NATO members, which Ukraine is not, Article IV allows the umbrella of NATO protection to be extended to those non-NATO members whom the alliance views as an ally, a category Stoltenberg clearly placed Ukraine in.

Finally, Stoltenberg’s anointing of Ukraine as a NATO ally came at the same time he announced the activation and deployment of NATO’s 40,000-strong Response Force, some of which would be deployed to NATO’s eastern flank, abutting Ukraine. The activation of the Response Force is unprecedented in the history of NATO, a fact that underscores the seriousness to which a nation like Russia might attach to the action.

When seen in this light, Putin’s comments last Thursday were measured, sane, and responsible.

What Happens if NATO Convoys or EU Jets Are Hit?

Since the Article IV consultations began, NATO members have begun to supply Ukraine with lethal military aid, with the promise of more in the days and weeks to come. These shipments can only gain access to Ukraine through a ground route that requires transshipment through NATO members, including Romania and Poland. It goes without saying that any vehicle carrying lethal military equipment into a war zone is a legitimate target under international law; this would apply in full to any NATO-affiliated shipment or delivery done by a NATO member on their own volition.

What happens when Russia begins to attack NATO/EU/US/Allied arms deliveries as they arrive on Ukrainian soil? Will NATO, acting under Article IV, create a buffer zone in Ukraine, using the never-before-mobilized Response Force? One naturally follows the other…

The scenario becomes even more dire if the EU acts on its pledge to provide Ukraine with aircraft and pilots to fight the Russians. How would these be deployed to Ukraine? What happens when Russia begins shooting down these aircraft as soon as they enter Ukrainian airspace? Does NATO now create a no-fly zone over western Ukraine?

What happens if a no-fly zone (which many officials in the West are promoting) is combined with the deployment of the Response Force to create a de facto NATO territory in western Ukraine? What if the Ukrainian government establishes itself in the city of Lvov, operating under the protection of this air and ground umbrella?

Russia’s Nuclear Doctrine

In June 2020, Russia released a new document, titled “On Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence,” that outlined the threats and circumstances that could lead to Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. While this document declared that Russia “considers nuclear weapons exclusively as a means of deterrence,” it outlined several scenarios in which Russia would resort to the use of nuclear weapons if deterrence failed.

While the Russian nuclear policy document did not call for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons during conventional conflicts, it did declare that “in the event of a military conflict, this Policy provides for the prevention of an escalation of military actions and their termination on conditions that are acceptable for the Russian Federation and/or its allies.”

In short, Russia might threaten to use nuclear weapons to deter “aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”

In defining Russia’s national security concerns to both the U.S. and NATO last December, Putin was crystal clear about where he stood when it came to Ukrainian membership in NATO. In a pair of draft treaty documents, Russia demanded that NATO provide written guarantees that it would halt its expansion and assure Russia that neither Ukraine nor Georgia ever be offered membership into the alliance.

In a speech delivered after Russia’s demands were delivered, Putin declared that if the U.S. and its allies continue their “obviously aggressive stance,” Russia would take “appropriate retaliatory military-technical measures,” adding that it has “every right to do so.”

In short, Putin made it clear that, when it came to the issue of Ukrainian membership in NATO, the stationing of U.S. missiles in Poland and Romania and NATO deployments in Eastern Europe, Russia felt that its very existence was being threatened. 

The Disconnect

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, when seen from the perspective of Russia and its leadership, was the result of a lengthy encroachment by NATO on the legitimate national security interests of the Russian state and people. The West, however, has interpreted the military incursion as little more than the irrational action of an angry, isolated dictator desperately seeking relevance in a world slipping out of his control.

The disconnect between these two narratives could prove fatal to the world. By downplaying the threat Russia perceives, both from an expanding NATO and the provision of lethal military assistance to Ukraine while Russia is engaged in military operations it deems critical to its national security, the U.S. and NATO run the risk of failing to comprehend the deadly seriousness of Putin’s instructions to his military leaders regarding the elevation of the level of readiness on the part of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.

Far from reflecting the irrational whim of a desperate man, Putin’s orders reflected the logical extension of a concerted Russian national security posture years in the making, where the geopolitical opposition to NATO expansion into Ukraine was married with strategic nuclear posture. Every statement Putin has made over the course of this crisis has been tied to this policy.

While the U.S. and NATO can debate the legitimacy of the Russian concerns, to dismiss the national security strategy of a nation that has been subjected to detailed bureaucratic vetting as nothing more than the temper tantrum of an out of touch autocrat represents a dangerous disregard of reality, the consequences of which could prove to be fatal to the U.S., NATO, and the world.

President Putin has often complained that the West does not listen to him when he speaks of issues Russia deems to be of critical importance to its national security.

The West is listening now. The question is, is it capable of comprehending the seriousness of the situation?

So far, the answer seems to be no.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. 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.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Mapping the unthinkable: inside the new nuclear war games

A final area of thought nuclear strategists are turning their attention to are what the American’s call “off-ramps” – concessions that can be offered which would allow Putin to back off while saving face.

We can strengthen Ukraine’s hand in negotiations by making the consequences of a deal more attractive for Russia,”

Mapping the unthinkable: Inside the new nuclear war games

Not since the Cold War have the stakes been so high, as experts rush to understand Putin’s nuclear strategy and plot counter moves telegraph,  
By Paul Nuki, GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY EDITOR, LONDON and Sarah Newey, GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, 28 February 2022 ”…………………….   Since the end of the Cold War, the number of nuclear weapons across the globe has dropped drastically, from a peak of around 70,300 in 1986, to roughly 12,700 in early-2022. But there are still more than enough. Russia and the US have by far the largest arsenals, with 5,600 and 6,200 weapons, respectively.

These weapons are much more powerful than those dropped on Japan. Just 50 modern bombs could kill 200 million people – or the combined populations of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, it is estimated.

…………..   Western intelligence agencies are watching closely to see exactly what Putin’s order means in practice, but most have interpreted it as a shift to a general state of nuclear readiness. The US could match the Russian move and raise its own response to Defcon 3 – “known to moviegoers as that moment when the US Air Force rolls out bombers, and nuclear silos and submarines are put on high alert”, as The New York Times puts it – but has so far chosen not to.

Experts suggested there were two reasons that the US and other nuclear armed Nato nations, including the UK and France, are not following suit.

“The United States won’t want to alert because then it would certainly be a nuclear crisis,” said Dr Mount. “The dominant strategy is to do what we can to impose costs in the areas where Putin is weak rather than agreeing to compete where Putin is stronger.”
There is also, in practical terms, little to be gained as Nato is, as a matter of course, always ready to strike back…………

Underpinning the nuclear standoff which has existed between Nato and Russia for decades is the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). It saw us through the Cold War but experts caution it may not be as reliable today. And even in the Cold War there were mistakes that brought nuclear armageddon close.

In October 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a Russian commander operating in a sweltering submarine with broken air-conditioning almost launched a tactical nuclear torpedo. The Soviet B-59 sub was under fire from US forces, who were dropping non-lethal depth charges. The officer was unaware the action was designed to make him surface, and instead interpreted the situation as the beginning of a third world war.

But launching the torpedo required the approval of all three senior officers on board and one – Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov – refused. He was honoured with the “Future of Life” award in 2017, almost two decades after his death, for averting a nuclear conflict.A simple mistake or misunderstanding remains one of the principal risks today – a risk that is increased because, over the past 30 years, nuclear drills have been practised less frequently and the technology has aged.

Another risk – one that threatens the deterrence provided by MAD – is the proliferation of smaller “battlefield” nuclear weapons.

“Russian nuclear forces can be divided into strategic (which can reach the US) and nonstrategic (which can’t),” said

James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He added that it is not yet clear whether Putin’s order would result in both being “alerted” or readied for action.Given that Nato’s systems for strategic retaliation are already in place (our Trident submarines are already at sea) it would be intelligence which suggests Putin is preparing tactical nukes that would cause most immediate concern…………….Sahil Shah, a policy fellow at the European Leadership Network who advises senior US and European decision makers on reducing strategic and nuclear risks, said that not everything rests on Putin. There are checks and balances in place in Russia, just as there are in the West.

Russia has inherited a two-person rule throughout the chain of nuclear command and control from the Soviet days,” he told the Telegraph. Three people have “nuclear footballs”, or codes needed to authorise the launch of weapons: the President, Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff. It is thought that two of the three codes are needed to grant the military permission to deploy nuclear weapons.

“In effect, the Minister of Defence or possibly the Chief of the General Staff would need to validate the authorisation to use nuclear weapons for the Russian military to launch them,” Dr Shah said. “If that were to occur, the order would be passed to the Nuclear Strategic Forces Command and Control Centre, where two officers would need to simultaneously carry them out.”

A final area of thought nuclear strategists are turning their attention to are what the American’s call “off-ramps” – concessions that can be offered which would allow Putin to back off while saving face. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, President John Kennedy saved Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s blushes (to some extent) by agreeing to remove Nato missiles from Turkey in return for the Soviets dropping their attempts to arm Cuba.

“It’s difficult for the West to create a de-escalation pathway; much presumably depends on how Putin views the domestic consequences of his backing down – something over which the West has no control,” said  James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“But we can at least reduce the costs to his backing down by making it clear that the most punishing sanctions – central bank and Swift – will be lifted if the status quo ante is restored.

“I encourage others to think creatively now about other elements of a potential off-ramp for Russia. To be sure, it’s unsavoury to think about providing inducements to Putin for backing down while Ukrainians are being slaughtered.“However, Ukraine and Russia are now reportedly engaged in negotiations. We can strengthen Ukraine’s hand in negotiations by making the consequences of a deal more attractive for Russia,” he added.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Bury it? Shoot it into space? Why scientists still can’t find a place for nuclear waste

This is the first time that I have ever seen an American mainstream media outlet making this HERETICAL SUGGESTION:

Until scientists find a secure, long-term, cost-effective way to dispose of the already generated nuclear waste on planet Earth, we must stop generating yet more of it.

Bury it? Shoot it into space? Why scientists still can’t find a place for nuclear waste,  (CNN)A major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, to be released Monday, is expected to warn that humans are wrecking the planet so profoundly that we may run out of ways to survive the crisis. The report speaks of a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

This might make it tempting to rush to nuclear energy as a quick, low-carbon fix.

But its faults are numerous, not least that there is still no answer to the 80-year-old question: Where to store the burgeoning tons of highly radioactive spent fuel?

Propositions abound: from catapulting it into space, ditching it between tectonic plates, or burying it deep underground on remote islands.

But try as they have, scientists can’t find a safe, long-term, cost-effective way to dispose of nuclear waste.

Even as new countries like Poland, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Indonesia line up to start nuclear programs — on the face of it, a low-carbon energy source that could cut emissions — every nation in the world with nuclear power struggles with the same dilemma.

Thus far, the determined hunt for a secure nuclear graveyard has been unsuccessful — and there’s no fix in sight. While the search goes on, ever more of the highly toxic refuse — a lethal by-product of the plutonium and uranium used in nuclear energy and weaponry production — piles up on top of the 370,000 tons of fission residue that languishes in stockpiles worldwide. Experts say that could jump by 1.1 million tons in a century.

Germany is shutting down its last nuclear power plant at the end of this year. France, on the other hand, just announced a massive build-out of its already prodigious nuclear fleet. The US is betting on nuclear to help hit climate goals.

Like most nations with nuclear power, they store the toxic spent fuel in steel cannisters at temporary locations, usually at nuclear plant facilities and military stations — often incurring the wrath of local residents who want nothing to do with the hazardous material that remains radioactive for a million years.

Indeed, proponents and adversaries of nuclear power agree these interim solutions are untenable: we can’t just dump this toxic mess on subsequent generations, and then they on others. Moreover, spent fuel, though no longer usable for energy production, remains radioactive and thus poses health, security, and proliferation risks.

At the moment, the Finns are putting deep geological disposal on the table as a solution — currently the least objectionable of the options under discussion. But the Nordics’ claim to have finally cracked this headache from hell is riddled with uncertainties.

This summer, on a tiny, sparsely populated island in the Baltic Sea, the first of hundreds of tightly sealed volcanic-clay-and-copper-clad drums of spent nuclear fuel will be lowered into a 500-meter deep granite vault and, eventually, cemented shut — not for a million but, presumably, for about 100,000 years.

Yet this geological tomb is only another, ultimately temporary, fix. As nuclear waste expert Andrew Blowers, author of “The Legacy of Nuclear Power” and a former member of the UK’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, says, “Currently no options have been able to demonstrate that waste will remain isolated from the environment over the tens to hundreds of thousands of years.”

Copper and cement will eventually corrode and decay, while nuclear waste remains radioactive and highly toxic for millennia. Some experts though say the risk of leaks, and water contamination, is higher than Finnish authorities acknowledge.

Moreover, earthquakes or other dramatic shifts in geological conditions could set the poisonous elements free. And then there’s the cost: Finland will spend €3.5 billion ($3.9 billion) on the facility, which will in the course of the next 100 years house 6,500 tons — of their own — spent fuel.

Other countries, such as the US, Britain, and Sweden say they will also, one day, bury their nuclear refuse in similar vaults. But even where the unique geological conditions exist, the same obstacle always arises: opposition from locals. Nobody but nobody wants radioactive waste anywhere near their families.

This is why another option, tectonic burial, looks appealing — until one looks more closely. The idea is to send nuclear waste plummeting into the earth’s core, basically hitching a ride on a geological plate on the ocean floor that is in the process of diving beneath an adjacent plate. The further the downward plate submerges beneath the earth’s skin, the further away the nuclear waste is carried from our natural world.

But geologists pour scorn on the notion: the movement of tectonic plates is much too slow, the volume of nuclear refuse too great, and then there’s the threat of subterranean volcanos or quakes that could send the mess spewing back into the ocean.

Hurtling nuclear waste in the other direction, namely into space, is also a nonstarter. There, the risk of rocket failure, the issue of space debris, and the wildly prohibitive cost stop this ploy dead in its tracks.

The exorbitant cost of the ongoing search — and then of the “solution” itself — illustrate why we don’t want ever more of this menacing debris. Thus far, the US has spent $13 billion of taxpayer money in its unsuccessful effort to rid the country of its 90,000 tons of radioactive waste.

In Finland, at least, the nuclear industry picks up the bill. At the Finns’ rate, disposing of all of the world’s current nuclear waste could total €135 billion ($153 billion) and another €6 billion ($6.8 billion) a year for the estimated 10,500 more metric tons produced annually.

Yet, since no long-term secure repository is in sight, says Blowers, “on-site storage of spent fuel is likely to remain for several generations, at least until mid to end of next century. As the volume grows, they will have to cope with ever more complex, difficult management issues.”

And we can’t just cut and run.

Until scientists find a secure, long-term, cost-effective way to dispose of the already generated nuclear waste on planet Earth, we must stop generating yet more of it. Genuinely renewable energy is cheaper, safer, faster, and cleaner. Nuclear power is the opposite of a quick fix.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

Mass starvation, extinctions, disasters: the new IPCC report’s grim predictions, and why adaptation efforts are falling behind

Mass starvation, extinctions, disasters: the new IPCC report’s grim predictions, and why adaptation efforts are falling behind

Mark Howden et al 1Mar 22

Even if we manage to stop the planet warming beyond 1.5℃ this century, we will still see profound impacts to billions of people on every continent and in every sector, and the window to adapt is narrowing quickly. These are among the disturbing findings of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russia still part of Iran nuclear talks, US hopes for progress, White House says

Russia still part of Iran nuclear talks, US hopes for progress, White House says,  WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Russians continue to be part of nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the Biden administration hopes to make progress in those talks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Opponents of plutonium shipments to petition New Mexico governor

Opponents of plutonium shipments to petition New Mexico governor
, By Scott Wyland   28 Feb 22,

Opponents of the federal government’s plans to truck plutonium through New Mexico, including Santa Fe’s southern edge, will deliver a petition with 1,142 signatures to the Governor’s Office on Tuesday, with the aim of pressing state officials to deny the necessary disposal permits. 

The two most vocal opponents — an activist and a Santa Fe County commissioner — have spoken out against the Department of Energy’s plans to dispose of diluted plutonium at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, which they say was never meant to take this type of radioactive material. 

Plutonium is far more radioactive than the transuranic waste — contaminated gloves, equipment, clothing, soil and other materials — Los Alamos National Laboratory normally ships to WIPP. 

The plutonium shipments would travel through a dozen states and cover 3,000 miles — and would go through Santa Fe twice in different forms.

With this petition, more than 1,000 residents are showing their concerns about plutonium being hauled through their communities, said Cindy Weehler, who co-chairs the watchdog group 285 ALL. 

“I think it’s kind of important for the governor to see that she has constituents all over the state who really would like to know more about this and would really like her protection and any actions she can take,” Weehler said. 

The petition drew signatures from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Gallup, Roswell, Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Silver City and Tucumcari, among others, she said. 

Binding agreements and at least one law limit WIPP to taking transuranic waste, with no allowance for modified weapons grade plutonium, Weehler said, arguing the governor could use this as the legal basis to deny the disposal permits. 

The Governor’s Office and the state Environment Department, which oversees hazardous waste, didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday……………………………

March 1, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Experts: Finnish nuclear project “directly supports Russian nuclear weapon production”

Experts: Finnish nuclear project “directly supports Russian nuclear weapon production”

Finland is planning to build a nuclear power plant, sourcing the reactor from Russia.  YLE NEWS, 22.2. 20,

Two professors told Yle that the Fennovoima nuclear power project, which is part-owned by Russian companies, entails big risks connected to the Russian nuclear industry.

The project is using a reactor from Russian state-owned firm Rosatom, which also produces Russia’s nuclear weapons.

“If we invest in Russian nuclear power in this current Fennovoima structure, then we directly support Russian nuclear weapon production and therefore also Vladimir Putin‘s geopolitical goals,” said Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, a professor in Russian environmental policy.

The project was approved in 2014 with Rosatom holding a 35 percent stake. Other shareholders are mostly Finnish energy companies, with a Croatian firm apparently owned by two students owning a crucial shareholding.

Without that stake, the holding company would not have enough EU-based owners to meet security requirements.

The decision to grant a permit was controversial at the time, with the Green League leaving Prime Minister Alexander Stubb’s (NCP) government in protest.

Final building permits are due to be granted this year, with nuclear regulator STUK set to evaluate the project.

Professor of International Business Kari Liuhto said that the project looked too risky, in his view.  “The Fennovoima project will surely be on the government’s agenda during this year,” said Liuhto. “If Russia attacks Ukraine, in my opinion the project should be stopped.

Nuclear power increases reliance on Russia

Rosatom became the largest single shareholder in the project in 2014……………

Journalists from Yle’s MOT programme asked politicians including President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), and former Prime Ministers Antti Rinne (SDP), Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Juha Sipilä (Cen) for an interview on the topic, but all of the politicians declined to discuss it.

Fennovoima also refused to comment.  Journalists from Yle’s MOT programme asked politicians including President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), and former Prime Ministers Antti Rinne (SDP), Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Juha Sipilä (Cen) for an interview on the topic, but all of the politicians declined to discuss it.

Fennovoima also refused to comment.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Finland, politics international | Leave a comment

‘Managed retreat’ from coastal living could soon be reality, climate report warns

‘Managed retreat’ from coastal living could soon be reality, climate report warnsThe world’s scientists declare climate change is now a threat to human wellbeing, warning we are about to miss the window to “secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

United Nations climate change report reveals how much can still be saved

Drawing on the IPCC findings and analysis from outside experts, The Washington Post envisioned how three locations around the globe could be transformed depending on humanity’s emissions trajectory over the next 80 years.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 28 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Interview: Tony Seba On The Cleantech Revolution” • Zachary Shahan sat down rwith the famous and widely loved Tony Seba to talk about the revolutions underway in energy (clean energy is taking over the energy world), transportation (the EV revolution is rolling fast now), and food. You can listen to the interview on […]

February 28 Energy News — geoharvey

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The week in nuclear news

Some bits of good news (hard to find this week!):

India’s Mass Tree Planting Success: Forest Cover Grows by Half-Million Acres in Two Years
Humpback whales no longer listed as endangered after major recovery.

What can I say ?–  No breakthrough at Ukraine talks as Russian assault continues. Ralph Nader: Everyone Loses in the Conflict Over Ukraine We’re in a new era. Not only is the war situation now so different, with the nuclear threat looming as never before.   But also, the media war has become so very complex and confusing. Social media plays its role –   but increasingly  – much information is crooked, devised to mislead the recipient. Bad enough from Western sources, but Russia has turned this deception into a pervasive mass art.

A rogue journalist ponders on Ukraine situation. Glenn Greenwald: war propaganda about Ukraine becoming more militaristic, authoritarian, and reckless. Blanket anti-Russian propaganda leaves no tolerance for nuanced reporting – media censorship is expanding.

As Russia Seizes Chernobyl Site, Ukraine’s 15 Nuclear Reactors Pose Unprecedented Risk in War Zone.

Climate impacts should be a regular part of war coverage

UN report on global increase in wildfires due to climate change change.

ANTARCTICAAntarctica’s pristine snow besmirched with horrid black pollution, scientists say

UKRAINE. Ukraine has 0% of winning, so sending weapons is a pointless exercise, except for the money. U.N. nuclear watchdog to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine. Russian control of Chernobyl may have been aimed against alleged Ukrainian plan to produce nuclear weapons

Ukraine’s reactors – largest nuclear complex in Europe – IN DANGER Russian forces now control Chernobyl, inviting speculation and uncertainty. The Most Immediate Nuclear Danger in Ukraine Isn’t Chernobyl. 

Increased radiation levels around Chernobyl probably due to military’s disturbance of soil around exclusion zone.    Radiation levels increased at Chernobyl, after Russian troops seized the area.     

Why nuclear risk from war in Ukraine isn’t missiles but accidental hits on reactors. Putin says that Ukraine is a nuclear threat. Abandoned mines and old Yunkom nuclear test site in Donbas region of Ukraine pose ”singular threat” of radiation contamination.

RUSSIA. Russia President Vladimir Putin puts his nuclear forces on alert.

EUROPEEU to purchase weapons for Ukraine — live updates, DW.

JAPAN. PM Kishida rules out Japan’s possession of nuclear weaponsRadioactive farm to be leased to wind farm without decontamination. Online Tour by Reconstruction Agency to Consider Decommissioning of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. 46% of school lunches use ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture, the highest rate since 2010. Miyagi prefectural assembly: “Don’t hand out flyers to schools about treated nuclear water.

UK. The U.K. Wanted to Extradite Assange to the U.S. From the Start. .Britain’s nuclear submarine base at risk from climate change. UK government study shows that nuclear test veterans were more likely to have cancer and die. On shaky ground? Latest EDF planning application casts doubt on suitability of Sizewell site.

USA. Activist groups to rally against plutonium disposal project at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Doubts about extending the lives of USA’s nuclear reactors as federal regulators halt 80 year extension time for 3 reactors. Vogtle delayed again — $30 billion reactors may never be completed.

FRANCE. Warning on faults in EPR nuclear reactors – Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité. 12 nuclear power reactors in France shut down, 6 because of corrosion problems. 

Limitless power arriving too late: Why fusion won’t help us decarbonise.French nuclear regulator halts assembly of huge ITER nuclear fusion reactor. France’s nuclear company EDF fined a measly 300 million euros for its decades of deception and misuse of its position. France’s nuclear ”energy independence” is a fake, as it has to import all its uranium fuel. 

BELARUS. Belarus to end its non-nuclear-weapon status.

FINLAND. Finland’s Russian-backed Fennovoima nuclear power station project now coming to a halt.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATESDrone and missile attacks on UAE’s Barakah nuclear plant.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa removes critic of nuclear power from regulatory board.

IRANIran rejects deadline – wants IAEA to drop politically motivated claims in nuclear talks.

AUSTRALIA. How Australian uranium ended up in war-torn Ukraine. Meet Australian Public Affairs, the lobbying firm that pushed the Kimba nuclear waste dump for the Federal Government. 

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment