nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Another anxious week in nuclear news

Some bits of good news – What went right this week: hope for the climate, plus more positive news.     Nature has priority’: Rewilding map showcases nature-led restoration .  Once Rocked by Nuclear Disaster, Fukushima Is Now a Renewables Hub.   Solar Panels That Make Electricity at Night are Finally Here – And They’re Cheap and Don’t Need Batteries. 

CORONAVIRUS.  Global COVID-19 cases pass grave milestone as highly contagious BA.2 subvariant surges around the world.

CLIMATE.  Pole to Pole with Paul Beckwith – I highly recommend this Radio Ecoshock  interview with this top climate communicator 

NUCLEAR. What can I say ?   Are we on the brink of nuclear war? Can we have any confidence in our leaders to make sensible decisions?    It is exhausting to rummage through the media spin in the search for accurate information.

Caitlin Johnstone sheds a critical gaze on media reporting on Ukraine, and asks why Julian Assange is criminalised for revealing military atrocities.        Glenn Greenwald: The Censorship Campaign Against Western Criticism of NATO’s Ukraine Policy Is Extreme.      How Much Are We Prepared To Sacrifice To Help The US Win A Propaganda War Against Putin?

NATO gloats over second, bloodier phase of Ukraine war

NATO’s military buildup on eastern flank to lengthen, broaden war — Anti-bellum

The US-Australia-UK pact seems determined to pursue great power competition at the risk of real conflict.

UKRAINE. Russian soldiers received ‘shocking amount’ of nuclear exposure at Chernobyl site – some may have less than a year to live. Carelessness of Russian soldiers around Chernobyl – shows danger of nuclear sites in wartime. Kyiv Independent news is anything but independent. It’s a mouthpiece for NATO-USA-Azov-nazi propaganda and unverified atrocity stories. Ukrainian blogger gets 15 years gaol for saying that Zelensky govt takes orders from other governments. Zelensky gives his vision of peace deal with Russia.

Zelensky adviser: Ukraine war can last till 2035, best option is for Russia to be broken

 NATO’s shift to Asia-Pacific: Biden trip to Japan designed to rally Asia against Russia, China

USA. 

CANADA. A call for World-class Cleanup at Chalk River Laboratories. Canada’s Federal Budget Funding for New Nuclear Reactors a ‘Climate Throwaway’ .

MIDDLE EAST. For the Middle East, the introduction of nuclear reactors poses dangers at every turnhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybdwXo14sQI

JAPAN.  Japan severely breaches obligations under international law by persisting in discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into ocean .      Japanese groups voice growing opposition, organize rallies over govt’s nuclear-contaminated water dumping plan decided one year before.    Japan’s planned release of radioactive wastewater draws concern- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2RB7yw9ceE   Protests in various locations demanding withdrawal of ocean discharge of treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.    Fukushima Thyroid Examination October 2021: 221 Surgically Confirmed as Thyroid Cancer Among 266 Cytology Suspected Cases

UK.

EUROPE. Able Archer: The NATO exercise that almost went nuclear. Nuclear and gas in EU taxonomy slammed as ‘greenwashing’. NATO’s incorporation of Finland, Sweden could pose nuclear threat to Europe — Anti-bellum. Europe aiming to stop importing gas, oil, coal from Russia, – but uranium for the nuclear industry – well, that’s OK.

RUSSIA. Fears sunken Russian warship Moskva was carrying nuclear weapons. Russia’s ‘broken arrow’: Fears that NUCLEAR MISSILES sank with Putin’s flagship Moskva.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea tests new weapon bolstering nuclear capability

FINLAND. Finland to buy as many as 2,000 drones, boost military ahead of joining NATO. Not all trade with Russia is stopped – Finland’s still getting nuclear power project built by Russia.

FRANCE. France working out how to save debt-laden nuclear company EDF. French presidential election – Macron and LePen have differing pro-nuclear policies – but in both cases, very costly.

CHINA. China’s view –  After disrupting Europe, NATO aims to destabilize Asia, whole world: Chinese Foreign Ministry Chinese, Vietnamese FMs vow not to allow Ukraine-type tragedy in region

DENMARK. Denmark prepares nuclear emergency plan.

SOUTH AFRICA.. South African Anti-nuclear activist taking Energy Minister to court for firing him.

SPAIN. Spain outraged as massive US nuclear-powered submarine arrives in Gibraltar.

AUSTRALIA.  Pine Gap’s role in China–US arms race makes Australia a target.     Nuclear risks, the war in Ukraine, and Australia’s significant contribution to these dangers. 

April 18, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Our news analyses of the Ukraine war come from politicians, not from genuine military intelligence

Military Situation in Ukraine: An Update by Jacques Baud  The Postil
Mon, 11 Apr 2022

This allows us to deduce that the American and European political leaders deliberately pushed the Ukraine into a conflict that they knew was lost in advance — for the sole purpose of dealing a political blow to Russia.

“…………………The Conduct of Battle.

As for the course of operations, the analyses presented in our media come most often from politicians or so-called military experts, who relay Ukrainian propaganda.

Let’s be clear. A war, whatever else it is, is drama. The problem here is that our strategists in neckties are clearly trying to overdramatize the situation in order to exclude any negotiated solution. This development, however, is prompting some Western military personnel to speak out and offer a more nuanced judgment. Thus, in Newsweek, an analyst from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the American equivalent of the Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM) in France, noted that “in 24 days of conflict, Russia has carried out some 1,400 strikes and launched nearly 1,000 missiles (by way of comparison, the United States carried out more strikes and launched more missiles on the first day of the Iraq war in 2003).”

While the West likes to “soften up” the battlefield with intensive and prolonged strikes, before sending in ground-troops, the Russians prefer a less destructive, but more troop-intensive approach. On France 5, the journalist Mélanie Tarvant presented the death of Russian generals on the battlefield as proof of the destabilization of the Russian army. But this is a profound misunderstanding of the traditions and modes of operation of the Russian army. Whereas in the West, commanders tend to lead from the rear, their Russian counterparts tend to lead from the front — in the West they say, “Forward!” In Russia, they say, “Follow me!” This explains the high losses in the upper echelons of command, already observed in Afghanistan — but it also tells of the much more rigorous selection of staff-personnel than in the West.

Furthermore, the DIA analyst noted that “the vast majority of the airstrikes are over the battlefield, with Russian aircraft providing ‘close air support’ to ground forces. The remainder — less than 20 percent, according to U.S. experts — has been aimed at military airfields, barracks and supporting depots.” Thus, the phrase “indiscriminate bombing [that] is devastating cities and killing everyone” echoed by the Western media seems to contradict the U.S. intelligence expert, who said, “If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”

In fact, Russian operations differ fundamentally from the Western concept of the same. The West’s obsession with having no fatalities in their own forces leads them to operations that are primarily in the form of very lethal air strikes. Ground troops only intervene when everything has been destroyed. This is why, in Afghanistan or in the Sahel, Westerners killed more civilians than terrorists did. This is why Western countries engaged in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa no longer publish the number of civilian casualties caused by their strikes. In fact, Europeans engaged in regions that only marginally affect their national security, such as the Estonians in the Sahel, go there just to “get their feet wet.”

In the Ukraine, the situation is very different. One only has to look at a map of linguistic zones to see that the Russian coalition operates almost exclusively in the Russian-speaking zone; thus, among populations that are generally favorable to it. This also explains the statements of a US Air Force officer: “I know that the news keeps repeating that Putin is targeting civilians, but there is no evidence that Russia is intentionally doing so.”

Conversely, it is for the same reason — but in a different way — that the Ukraine has deployed its ultra-nationalist paramilitary fighters in major cities, such as Mariupol or Kharkov — without emotional or cultural ties to the local population, these militias can fight even at the cost of heavy civilian casualties. The atrocities that are currently being uncovered remain hidden by the French-speaking media, for fear of losing support for the Ukraine, as noted by media close to the Republicans in the United States.

After “decapitation” strikes in the first minutes of the offensive, the Russian operational strategy was to bypass the urban centers, and to envelop the Ukrainian army, “pinned down” by the forces of the Donbass republics. It is important to remember that the “decapitation” is not intended to annihilate the general staff or the government (as our “experts” tend to understand it), but to sunder the leadership structures so as to prevent the coordinated maneuver of forces. On the contrary, the aim is to preserve the leadership structures themselves in order to be able to negotiate a way out of the crisis.

On March 25, 2022, after having sealed the cauldron of Kramatorsk which denied any possibility of retreat to the Ukrainians and having taken most of the cities of Kharkov and Marioupol, Russia has practically fulfilled its objectives — all that remains is to concentrate its efforts on reducing the pockets of resistance. Thus, contrary to what the Western press has claimed, this is not a reorientation or a resizing of its offensive, but the methodical implementation of the objectives announced on February 24.

The Role of the Volunteers

A particularly disturbing aspect of this conflict is the attitude of European governments that allow or encourage their citizens to go and fight in the Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to join the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine, which he recently created, has been greeted with enthusiasm by European countries.

Encouraged by the media that present a routed Russian army, many of these young people head off, imagining they are going — literally — on a hunting trip. However, once there, disillusionment is high. Testimonies show that these “amateurs” often end up as “cannon fodder,” without having any real impact on the outcome of the conflict. The experience of recent conflicts shows that the arrival of foreign fighters brings nothing to a conflict, except to increase its duration and lethality.

Moreover, the arrival of several hundred Islamist fighters from the Idlib region, an area under the control and protection of the Western coalition in Syria (and also the area in which two Islamic State leaders were killed by the Americans) should arouse our concern. Indeed, the weapons we are very liberally supplying to the Ukraine are already partly in the hands of criminal individuals and organizations and are already beginning to pose a security problem for the authorities in Kiev. Not to mention the fact that the weapons that are being touted as effective against Russian aircraft could eventually threaten our military and civilian aircraft.

The volunteer proudly presented by the RTBF on the 7:30 p.m. news of March 8, 2022 was an admirer of the “Corps Franc Wallonie,” Belgian volunteers who served the Third Reich; and he illustrates the type of people attracted to the Ukraine. In the end, we will have to ask ourselves, who gained the most — [in this case] Belgium or the Ukraine?

Distributing weapons indiscriminately could well make the EU — volens nolens — a supporter of extremism and even international terrorism. The result — we are adding misery to misery, in order to satisfy the European elites more than the Ukraine itself.

Three Points Deserve to be Highlighted by Way of Conclusion

1. Western Intelligence, Ignored by Policymakers

Military documents found in Ukrainian headquarters in the south of the country confirm that the Ukraine was preparing to attack the Donbass; and that the firing observed by OSCE observers as early as February 16 heralded an imminent outbreak in days or weeks.

Here, some introspection is necessary for the West — either its intelligence services did not see what was happening and they are thus very bad, or the political decision-makers chose not to listen to them. We know that Russian intelligence services have far superior analytical capabilities than their Western counterparts. We also know that the American and German intelligence services had very well understood the situation, since the end of 2021, and knew that the Ukraine was preparing to attack the Donbass.

This allows us to deduce that the American and European political leaders deliberately pushed the Ukraine into a conflict that they knew was lost in advance — for the sole purpose of dealing a political blow to Russia.

The reason Zelensky did not deploy his forces to the Russian border, and repeatedly stated that his large neighbor would not attack him, was presumably because he thought he was relying on Western deterrence. This is what he told CNN on March 20th — he was clearly told that the Ukraine would not be part of NATO, but that publicly they would say the opposite. The Ukraine was thus instrumentalized to affect Russia. The objective was the closure of the North Stream 2 gas pipeline, announced on February 8th, by Joe Biden, during the visit of Olaf Scholz; and which was followed by a barrage of sanctions.

2. Broken Diplomacy

Clearly, since the end of 2021, no effort has been made by the West to reactivate the Minsk agreements, as evidenced by the reports of visits and telephone conversations, notably between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin. However, France, as guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has not respected its commitments, which has led to the situation that the Ukraine is experiencing today. There is even a feeling that the West has sought to add fuel to the fire since 2014.

Thus, Vladimir Putin’s placing of nuclear forces on alert on February 27 was presented by our media and politicians as an irrational act or blackmail. What is forgotten is that it followed the thinly veiled threat made by Jean-Yves Le Drian, three days earlier, that NATO could use nuclear weapons. It is very likely that Putin did not take this “threat” seriously, but wanted to push Western countries — and France in particular — to abandon the use of excessive language.

3. The Vulnerability of Europeans to Manipulation is Increasing

Today, the perception propagated by our media is that the Russian offensive has broken down; that Vladimir Putin is crazyirrational and therefore ready to do anything to break the deadlock in which he supposedly finds himself. In this totally emotional context, the question asked by Republican Senator Marco Rubio during Victoria Nuland’s hearing before Congress was strange, to say the least: “If there is a biological or chemical weapon incident or attack inside the Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians behind it?” Naturally, she answered that there is no doubt. Yet there is absolutely no indication that the Russians are using such weapons. Besides, the Russians finished destroying their stockpiles in 2017, while the Americans have not yet destroyed theirs.

Perhaps this means nothing. But in the current atmosphere, all the conditions are now met for an incident to happen that would push the West to become more involved, in some form, in the Ukrainian conflict (a “false-flag” incident).

April 18, 2022 Posted by | media, Reference, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NuScale: Not new, not needed — Beyond Nuclear International

Costs, delays and competition will likely kill SMR

NuScale: Not new, not needed — Beyond Nuclear International Risks of rising costs, likely delays, and increasing competition cast doubt on long- running development effort
By  David Schlissel and Dennis Wamsted
In a new analysis, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis looked at NuScale’s proposed Small Modular Reactor, concluding that its costs will be far higher than NuScale predicts and that the reactor is fundamentally not needed. What follows are the Executive Summary and Conclusions sections of the report. The full report can be read and downloaded here.
Executive Summary

The second set of problems with the NuScale proposal are contractual. As the power sale agreement is currently structured, anyone who signs on to buy power from NuScale’s SMR will have to pay the actual costs and expenses of the project, not just the $58 per MWh estimated target price now being promoted by NuScale and UAMPS. And participants would have to continue to do so for decades, even if the price of the electricity from the SMR is much more expensive than NuScale and UAMPS now claim or even if participants don’t receive any power from the project for a significant part of its forecast operating life. These are risks that far outweigh any potential project benefits.

Too late, too expensive, too risky and too uncertain. That, in a nutshell, describes NuScale’s planned small modular reactor (SMR) project, which has been in development since 2000 and will not begin commercial operations before 2029, if ever. 

As originally sketched out, the SMR was designed to include 12 independent power modules, using common control, cooling and other equipment in a bid to lower costs. But that sketch clearly was only done in pencil, as it has changed repeatedly during the development process, with uncertain implications for the units’ cost, performance and reliability. 

For example, the NuScale power modules were initially based on a design capable of generating 35 megawatts (MW), which grew first to 40MW and then to 45MW. When the company submitted its design application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2016, the modules’ size was listed at 50MW. 

Subsequent revisions have pushed the output to 60MW, before settling at the current 77MW. Similarly, the 12-unit grouping has recently been amended, with the company now saying it will develop a 6-module plant with 462MW of power. NuScale projects that the first module, once forecast for 2016, will come online in 2029 with all six modules online by 2030. 

While these basic parameters have changed, the company has insisted its costs are firm, and that the project will be economic. 

Based on the track record so far and past trends in nuclear power development, this is highly unlikely. The power from the project will almost certainly cost more than NuScale estimates, making its already tenuous economic claims even less credible. 

Worse, at least for NuScale, the electricity system is changing rapidly. Significant amounts of new wind, solar and energy storage have been added to the grid in the past decade, and massive amounts of additional renewable capacity and storage will come online by 2030. This new capacity is going to put significant downward pressure on prices, undercutting the need for expensive round-the-clock power. In addition, new techniques for operating these renewable and storage resources, coupled with energy efficiency, load management and broad efforts to better integrate the western grid, seriously undermine NuScale’s claims that its untested reactor technology will be needed for reliability reasons. 

This first-of-a-kind reactor poses serious financial risks for members of the Utah Associated Municipal Power System (UAMPS), currently the lead buyer, and other municipalities and utilities that sign up for a share of the project’s power. 

NuScale is marketing the project with unlikely predictions regarding its final power costs, the amount of time it will take to construct and its performance after entering commercial services: 

  • There is significant likelihood that the project will take far longer to build than currently estimated;
  • There is significant likelihood that its final cost of power will be much higher than the current $58 per megawatt-hour claim; 
  • There is significant likelihood that the reactor will not operate with a 95% capacity factor when it enters commercial service. 

As currently structured, those project risks will be borne by the buying entities (participants), not NuScale or Fluor, its lead investor. In other words, potential participants need to understand that they would be responsible for footing the bill for construction delays and cost overruns, as well as being bound by the terms of an expensive, decades-long power purchase contract. 

These compelling risks, coupled with the availability of cheaper and readily available renewable and storage resources, further weaken the rationale for the NuScale SMR.

Conclusions

There are serious problems with the proposed NuScale SMR project. 

The first set of problems revolve around the company’s optimistic assumptions regarding its untested, first-of-a-kind reactor. NuScale claims it will be able to accomplish a performance trifecta that has never been accomplished: 

  • Completing construction at the new facility in 36 months or less; 
  • Keeping construction costs in check and thereby meeting a target power
    price of less than $60/MWh; and 
  • Operating the plant with a 95% capacity factor from day one. 

As this report has demonstrated, these are unduly optimistic assumptions. Costs and construction times for all recent nuclear projects have vastly exceeded original estimates and there is no reason to assume the NuScale project will be any different. For example, costs at Vogtle, the project most like NuScale in terms of modular development, now are 140% higher than the original forecast and construction is years late with significant uncertainty about a final completion date. 

The second set of problems with the NuScale proposal are contractual. As the power sale agreement is currently structured, anyone who signs on to buy power from NuScale’s SMR will have to pay the actual costs and expenses of the project, not just the $58 per MWh estimated target price now being promoted by NuScale and UAMPS. And participants would have to continue to do so for decades, even if the price of the electricity from the SMR is much more expensive than NuScale and UAMPS now claim or even if participants don’t receive any power from the project for a significant part of its forecast operating life. These are risks that far outweigh any potential project benefits.

The second set of problems with the NuScale proposal are contractual. As the power sale agreement is currently structured, anyone who signs on to buy power from NuScale’s SMR will have to pay the actual costs and expenses of the project, not just the $58 per MWh estimated target price now being promoted by NuScale and UAMPS. And participants would have to continue to do so for decades, even if the price of the electricity from the SMR is much more expensive than NuScale and UAMPS now claim or even if participants don’t receive any power from the project for a significant part of its forecast operating life. These are risks that far outweigh any potential project benefits.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) examines issues related to energy markets, trends and policies. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy. www.ieefa.org. Director of Resource Planning Analysis David Schlissel is a long-time consultant, expert witness, and attorney on engineering and economic issues related to energy. He has testified in more than 100 court proceedings or cases before regulatory bodies. Analyst/Editor Dennis Wamsted has covered energy and environmental policy and technology issues for 30 years. He is the former editor of The Energy Daily, a Washington, D.C.-based newsletter. 

April 18, 2022 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Europe’s reliance on Russian nuclear supplies isn’t ending with the war

In the relevant Council Regulation of 15 March 2022, civil nuclear-related activities were excluded from the definition of the energy sector and are therefore, quite explicitly, not covered by the prohibition on investments in the Russian energy sector. 

The only difference is that while this dependence on gas has been widely discussed, the same cannot be said of the nuclear industry. And yet the EU member states have no intention of ending this nuclear dependence. 

Putin’s uranium self-enrichment — Beyond Nuclear International How dependent is Europe on the Russian nuclear sector?
The below is the second half of the Öko-Institut blog entry — “Energy policy in times of the Ukraine war: Nuclear power instead of natural gas?” — looking at Europe’s reliance on the Russian nuclear sector. Read the full blog article.

By Anke HeroldDr Roman Mendelevitch and Dr Christoph Pistner, 17Apr 22,

Europe is heavily dependent on Russia for nuclear energy as well, perhaps to an even greater extent than for gas. The main sources of uranium imports into the EU in 2020 were Russia (20%), Niger (also 20%), Kazakhstan (19%), Canada (18%), Australia (13%) and Namibia (8%). Just 0.5% of the uranium used in the EU comes from the EU itself. 

However, this apparent diversity of sources is deceptive. Russia has a close relationship with Kazakhstan, while the mines in Niger belong to Chinese state-owned companies, as do two of the three largest uranium mines in Namibia. The third Namibian mine is largely Chinese-owned. 

In other words, in 2020, only 21% of uranium imports into Europe were supplied by firms that are not owned by totalitarian regimes. It follows that here too, Europe has placed itself in a position of high import dependence.

Around 25% of uranium enrichment and some processes in fuel rod fabrication for the EU take place in Russia. Many Russian-designed reactors source their fuel rods largely from the Russian company TVEL – now part of Rosatom – on the basis of long-term supply contracts that run for 10 years or more. 

There are Russian-designed nuclear reactors in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia. The 16 older pressurised water reactors, type WWER-440, are totally dependent on TVEL for fuel rod fabrication. These older reactors can be found in Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. 

Even the Euratom Supply Agency itself identifies this dependence as a significant vulnerability factor. The operators are dependent on imports of Russian technology. 

The Western European nuclear power plants are also far from being independent. The French company Areva collaborates with TVEL in order to supply fuel rods for seven reactors in Western Europe, including the Loviisa nuclear power plant in Finland. 

As recently as December 2021, the French nuclear company Framatome signed a new strategic cooperation agreement on the development of fuel fabrication and instrumentation and control (I&C) technologies.

The Russian fuel rod manufacturer TVEL was also keen to enter into fuel rod production at the factory in Lingen, Germany, which currently belongs to the French company ANF. Lingen supplies fuel rods to British, French and Belgian nuclear power plants. The German Federal Cartel Office approved the venture in March 2021, whereupon the Federal Economics Ministry conducted an open-ended review until the end of January 2022. 

On the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ministry announced that the Rosatom subsidiary TVEL had withdrawn its application. In Germany, the Rosatom Group also owns a subsidiary, NUKEM Technologies, which specialises in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, decontamination, waste management and radiation protection. In Germany, it plans and constructs storage facilities for radioactive waste and is involved in decommissioning the Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg nuclear power plants.

So Putin manoeuvred the European nuclear industry into a position of dependence on Russia long ago, and he himself earns income from the decommissioning of the German nuclear power plants. 

The only difference is that while this dependence on gas has been widely discussed, the same cannot be said of the nuclear industry. And yet the EU member states have no intention of ending this nuclear dependence. 

In the relevant Council Regulation of 15 March 2022, civil nuclear-related activities were excluded from the definition of the energy sector and are therefore, quite explicitly, not covered by the prohibition on investments in the Russian energy sector. 

Although practically 100% of the EU’s uranium is imported, as is most of the fuel rod supply, the EU classes nuclear energy as “domestic” production because fuel rods can easily be stockpiled.

Here, we see a similar Orwellian use of language as in the EU Taxonomy, which describes nuclear energy as a technology which does not cause significant harm to the environment.

As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on 18 March 2022, even the EU’s flight ban on Russian aircraft was lifted for a delivery of nuclear fuel into Slovakia.

So our conclusion on this topic is that as regards nuclear energy too, the dependence on Russia must be drastically reduced. Supply security with no dependence on totalitarian regimes requires a substantial reduction in nuclear energy use in Europe. Read the full blog.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

Military Situation in Ukraine: An Update by Jacques Baud 

The vagueness maintained in the West about the situation of the Ukrainian forces, has other effects. First, it maintains the illusion of a possible Ukrainian victory. Thus, instead of encouraging a negotiation process, the West seeks to prolong the war. This is why the European Union and some of its member countries have sent weapons and are encouraging the civilian population and volunteers of all kinds to go and fight, often without training and without any real command structure — with deadly consequences.

You don’t win a war with bias — you lose it. And that’s what is happening. Thus, the Russian coalition was never “on the run” or “stopped” by heroic resistance — it simply did not attack where it was expected. We did not want to listen to what Vladimir Putin had explained to us very clearly. This is why the West has thus become — volens nolens — the main architect of the Ukrainian defeat that is taking shape. Paradoxically, it is probably because of our self-proclaimed “experts” and recreational strategists on our television sets that the Ukraine is in this situation today. 

Jacques Baud, The Postil, Mon, 11 Apr 2022  The Operational Situation

As of March 25, 2022, our analysis of the situation confirms the observations and conclusions made in mid-March.

The offensive launched on February 24 is articulated in two lines of effort, in accordance with Russian operational doctrine:

1) A main effort directed toward the south of the country, in the Donbass region, and along the Azov Sea coast. As the doctrine states, the main objectives are — the neutralization of the Ukrainian armed forces (the objective of “demilitarization”), and the neutralization of ultra-nationalist, paramilitary militias in the cities of Kharkov and Mariupol (the objective of “denazification“). This primary push is being led by a coalition of forces: through Kharkov and Crimea are Russian forces from the Southern Military District; in the center are militia forces from the Donetsk and Lugansk republics; the Chechen National Guard is contributing with engagement in the urban area of Mariupol;

2) A secondary effort on Kiev, aimed at “pinning down” Ukrainian (and Western) forces, so as to prevent them from carrying out operations against the main thrust or even taking Russian coalition forces from the rear.

This offensive follows, to the letter, the objectives defined by Vladimir Putin on February 24. But, listening only to their own bias, Western “experts” and politicians have gotten it into their heads that Russia’s objective is to take over the Ukraine and overthrow its government. Applying a very Western logic, they see Kiev as the “center of gravity” (Schwerpunkt) of Ukrainian forces. According to Clausewitz, the “center of gravity” is the element from which a belligerent derives his strength and ability to act, and is therefore the primary objective of an adversary’s strategy. This is why Westerners have systematically tried to take control of capitals in the wars they have fought. Trained and advised by NATO experts, the Ukrainian General Staff has, predictably enough, applied the same logic, focusing on strengthening the defense of Kiev and its surroundings, while leaving its troops helpless in the Donbass, along the axis of the main Russian effort.
If one had listened carefully to Vladimir Putin, one would have realized that the strategic objective of the Russian coalition is not to take over the Ukraine, but to remove any threat to the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass. According to this general objective, the “real” center of gravity that the Russian coalition is trying to target is the bulk of the Ukrainian armed forces massed in the south-southeast of the country (since the end of 2021), and not Kiev.

Russian Success or Failure?

Convinced that the Russian offensive is aimed at Kiev, Western experts have quite logically concluded that (a) the Russians are stalling, and that (b) their offensive is doomed to failure because they will not be able to hold the country in the long term. The generals who have followed each other on French TV seem to have forgotten what even a second lieutenant comprehends well: “Know your enemy!” — not as one would like him to be, but as he is. With generals like that, we don’t need an enemy anymore.

………………………………………….  Ukrainian forces are never indicated on our maps, as this would show that they were not deployed on the Russian border in February 2022, but were regrouped in the south of the country, in preparation for their offensive, the initial phase of which began on February 16th. This confirms that Russia was only reacting to a situation initiated by the West, by way of the Ukraine, as we shall see. At present, it is these forces that are encircled in the Kramatorsk cauldron and are being methodically fragmented and neutralized, little by little, in an incremental way, by the Russian coalition.

The vagueness maintained in the West about the situation of the Ukrainian forces, has other effects. First, it maintains the illusion of a possible Ukrainian victory. Thus, instead of encouraging a negotiation process, the West seeks to prolong the war. This is why the European Union and some of its member countries have sent weapons and are encouraging the civilian population and volunteers of all kinds to go and fight, often without training and without any real command structure — with deadly consequences.

We know that in a conflict, each party tends to inform in order to give a favorable image of its actions. However, the image we have of the situation and of the Ukrainian forces is based exclusively on data provided by Kiev. It masks the profound deficiencies of the Ukrainian leadership, even though it was trained and advised by NATO military.

Thus, military logic would have the forces caught in the Kramatorsk cauldron withdraw to a line at the Dnieper, for example, in order to regroup and conduct a counteroffensive. But they were forbidden to withdraw by President Zelensky. Even back in 2014 and 2015, a close examination of the operations showed that the Ukrainians were applying “Western-style” schemes, totally unsuited to the circumstances, and in the face of a more imaginative, more flexible opponent who possessed lighter leadership structures. It is the same phenomenon today.

In the end, the partial view of the battlefield given to us by our media has made it impossible for the West to help the Ukrainian general staff make the right decisions. And it has led the West to believe that the obvious strategic objective is Kiev; that “demilitarization” is aimed at the Ukraine’s membership in NATO; and that “denazification” is aimed at toppling Zelensky. This legend was fueled by Vladimir Putin’s appeal to the Ukrainian military to disobey, which was interpreted (with great imagination and bias) as a call to overthrow the government. However, this appeal was aimed at the Ukrainian forces deployed in the Donbass to surrender without fighting. The Western interpretation caused the Ukrainian government to misjudge Russian objectives and misuse its potential of winning.

You don’t win a war with bias — you lose it. And that’s what is happening. Thus, the Russian coalition was never “on the run” or “stopped” by heroic resistance — it simply did not attack where it was expected. We did not want to listen to what Vladimir Putin had explained to us very clearly. This is why the West has thus become — volens nolens — the main architect of the Ukrainian defeat that is taking shape. Paradoxically, it is probably because of our self-proclaimed “experts” and recreational strategists on our television sets that the Ukraine is in this situation today.  …………………….https://www.sott.net/article/466805-Military-Situation-in-Ukraine-An-Update-by-Jacques-Baud

… 

April 18, 2022 Posted by | Reference, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The average American tax-payer gave $900 to military contractors last year.

Most serious of all, there’s the problem of U.S. weapons feeding conflicts in ways the Pentagon didn’t foresee, but probably should have.

Compared to the $900 for Pentagon contractors, the average taxpayer contributed only about $27 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $171 to K-12 education, and barely $5 to renewable energy.

Average US Taxpayer Gave $900 to Military Contractors Last Year,  https://truthout.org/articles/average-us-taxpayer-gave-900-to-military-contractors-last-year/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=1f951de0-ce82-4df9-b85e-0a76f6faf974

Lindsay KoshgarianOtherWordsPUBLISHEDApril 17, 2022  

ost of us want our tax dollars to be wisely used — especially around tax time.

You’ve probably heard a lot about corporations not paying taxes. Last year, individuals like you contributed six times more in income tax than corporations did.

But have you heard about how many of your tax dollars then end up in corporate pockets? It’s a lot — especially for corporations that contract with the Pentagon. They collect nearly half of all military spending.

The average taxpayer contributed about $2,000 to the military last year, according to a breakdown my colleagues and I prepared for the Institute for Policy Studies. More than $900 of that went to corporate military contractors.

In 2020, the largest Pentagon contractor, Lockheed Martin, took in $75 billion from taxpayers — and paid its CEO more than $23 million.

Unfortunately, this spending isn’t buying us a more secure world.

Last year, Congress added $25 billion the Pentagon didn’t ask for to its already gargantuan budget. Lawmakers even refused to let military leaders retire weapons systems they couldn’t use anymore. The extra money favored top military contractors that gave campaign money to a group of lawmakers, who refused to comment on it.

Then there’s simple price-gouging.

There’s the infamous case of TransDigm, a Pentagon contractor that charged the government $4,361 for a metal pin that should’ve cost $46 — and then refused to share cost data. Congress recently asked TransDigm to repay some of its misbegotten profits, but the Pentagon hasn’t cut off its business.

Somewhere between price-gouging and incompetence lies the F-35 jet fighter, an embarrassment the late Senator John McCain, a Pentagon booster, called “a scandal and a tragedy.”

Among the most expensive weapons systems ever, the F-35 has numerous failings. It’s spontaneously caught fire at least three times — hardly the outcome you’d expect for the top Pentagon contractor’s flagship program. The Pentagon has reduced its request for new F-35s this year by about a third, but Congress may reject that too.

Most serious of all, there’s the problem of U.S. weapons feeding conflicts in ways the Pentagon didn’t foresee, but probably should have.

When U.S. ground troops left Afghanistan, they left behind a huge array of military equipment, from armored vehicles to aircraft, that could now be in Taliban hands. The U.S. also left weapons in Iraq that fell into the hands of ISIS, including guns and an anti-tank missile.

Even weapons we sold to so-called allies like Saudi Arabia have ended up going to people affiliated with groups like al Qaeda.

Military weapons also end up on city streets at home. Over the years, civilian law agencies have received guns, armored vehicles, and even grenade launchers from the military, turning local police into near-military organizations.

Records also show that the Pentagon has lost hundreds of weapons which may have been stolen, including grenade launchers and rocket launchers. Some of these weapons have been used in crimes.

Taxpayers shouldn’t be spending $900 apiece for these outcomes. My team at the Institute for Policy Studies and others have demonstrated ways to cut up to $350 billion per year from the Pentagon budget, including what we spend on weapons contractors, without compromising our safety.

Even better, we could then put some of that money elsewhere.

Compared to the $900 for Pentagon contractors, the average taxpayer contributed only about $27 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $171 to K-12 education, and barely $5 to renewable energy.

How much more could we get if we invested even a fraction of what we spend on military contractors for these dire needs?

Compared to the $900 for Pentagon contractors, the average taxpayer contributed only about $27 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $171 to K-12 education, and barely $5 to renewable energy.

How much more could we get if we invested even a fraction of what we spend on military contractors for these dire needs?

Most Americans support shifting Pentagon funds to pay for domestic needs. Instead of making Americans fork over another $900 to corporate military contractors this year, Congress should put our dollars to better use.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Russia’s ‘broken arrow’: Fears that NUCLEAR MISSILES sank with Putin’s flagship Moskva

Russia’s ‘broken arrow’: Fears that NUCLEAR MISSILES sank with Putin’s flagship Moskva amid claims that 452 of the 510 crew have drowned and top admiral has been arrested after cruiser was ‘hit by Ukrainian missile’ , Daily Mail  By WILL STEWART and CHRIS PLEASANCE and CHRIS JEWERS FOR MAILONLINE 16 April 2022

Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, has been confirmed to have sunk near port of Sevastopol

Experts and analysts are now warning that the warship may have been carrying two nuclear warheads They are calling for an urgent probe into ‘broken arrow’ incident – military slang for an accident with nukes

 Meanwhile questions remain over the fate of Moskva’s 510-strong crew, most of whom are unaccounted forIlya Ponomarev, a politician exiled from Russia, said as many as 452 members of the crew could have died 

The Moskva, a Soviet-era guided missile cruiser, sank near the port of Sevastopol on Thursday after Ukraine said it hit the ship with two cruise missiles. Today, Mykhailo Samus, director of a Lviv-based military think-tank; Andriy Klymenko, editor of Black Sea News; and Ukrainian newspaper Defence Express all warned that the Moskva could have been carrying two nuclear warheads designed to be fitted to its P-1000 ‘carrier killer’ missiles.

If true, the loss of the warheads into the Black Sea could spark a ‘Broken Arrow’ incident – American military slang for potentially lethal accidents involving nuclear weapons.

‘On board the Moskva could be nuclear warheads – two units,’ Samus said, while Klymenko called on other Black Sea nations – Turkey, Romania, Georgia, and Bulgaria – to insist on an explanation. ‘Where are these warheads? Where were they when the ammunition exploded,’ he asked.

Meanwhile Ilya Ponomarev, a politician exiled from Russia for opposing Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, said just 58 of the 510-strong crew have since been accounted for – raising the prospect that 452 men went down with the ship in what would be a bitter loss for Vladimir Putin’s already beleaguered army.

The figure, while unconfirmed, is consistent with losses suffered on exploding warships. During the Russian Navy’s infamous defeat at the Battle of Tsushima against Japan, an explosion on board the Borodino – slightly smaller than the Moskva – saw all-but one of her 855 crew killed.

Russia claims all the Moskva’s sailors were ‘successfully evacuated’ but video taken in Sevastopol overnight shows dozens of cars purportedly belonging to the sailors still parked in the port – suggesting their owners had not returned to collect them……………….. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10721351/Ukraine-war-Fears-Moskva-warship-carrying-nuclear-weapons-sank.html  


April 18, 2022 Posted by | Spain, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How Much Are We Prepared To Sacrifice To Help The US Win A Propaganda War Against Putin?

Once “journalists” accepted that their most important job is not to tell the truth but to keep people from thinking bad thoughts about the status quo political system, it was inevitable that they’d start enthuHow Much Are We Prepared To Sacrifice To Help The US Win A Propaganda War Against Putin?siastically cheerleading for more internet censorship. They see it as their duty, which is why now the leading proponents of online censorship are corporate media reporters.

This is a conversation which should already have been going on in mainstream circles for some time now, but it never even started. Let’s start it


  https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/how-much-are-we-prepared-to-sacrifice?s=w Caitlin Johnston 17 Apr 22. One severely under-discussed aspect of the latest round of escalations in Silicon Valley censorship which began at the start of the Ukraine war is the fact that it’s an entirely unprecedented order of censorship protocol. While it might look similar to all the other waves of social media purges and new categories of banned content that we’ve been experiencing since it became mainstream doctrine after the 2016 US election that tech platforms need to strictly regulate online speech, the justifications for it have taken a drastic deviation from established patterns.

What sets this new censorship escalation apart from its predecessors is that this time nobody’s pretending that it’s being done in the interests of the people. With the censorship of racists the argument was that they were inciting hate crimes and racial harassment. With the censorship of Alex Jones and QAnon the argument was that they were inciting violence. With the censorship of Covid skeptics the argument was that they were promoting misinformation that could be deadly. Even with the censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story it was argued that there was a need to protect election integrity from disinformation of potentially foreign origin.

With censorship relating to the Ukraine war there is no argument that it’s being done to help the people. There is no case to be made that letting people say wrong things about this war kills Ukrainians, Americans, or anyone else. There is no case to be made that disputing claims about Russian war crimes will damage America’s democratic processes. It’s just, “Well we can’t have people saying wrong things about a war, can we?”

Ask a properly brainwashed liberal why they support the censorship of someone who disputes US narratives about Russian war crimes in Bucha or Mariupol and they’ll probably tell you something like “Well, it’s disinformation!” or “Because it’s propaganda!” or “How much is Putin paying you??” But what they won’t be able to do is articulate exactly what specific harm is being done by such speech in the same way that they could when defending the censorship of Covid skeptics or the factions responsible for last year’s riot in the Capitol building. 

But what does that mean exactly? It means if we accept this argument we’re knowingly consenting to a situation where all the major news outlets, websites and apps that people look to for information about the world are geared not toward telling us true things about reality, but toward beating Vladimir Putin in some weird psywar. It means abandoning any ambitions of being a truth-based civilization that is guided by facts, and instead accepting an existence as a propaganda-based civilization geared toward making sure we all think thoughts that hurt Moscow’s long-term strategic interests.

And it’s just absolutely freakish that this is a decision that has already been made for us, without any public discussion as to whether or not that’s the kind of society we want to live in. They jumped right from “We’re censoring speech to protect you from violence and viruses” to “We’re censoring speech to help our government conduct information warfare against a foreign adversary.” Without skipping a beat.

Continue reading

April 18, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

After Undermining International Criminal Court, US Now Wants It to Charge Russians,  

Marjorie CohnTruthout,  17 Apr 22

Athough the United States has tried mightily to undermine the International Criminal Court (ICC) since it became operational in 2002, the U.S. government is now pushing for the ICC to prosecute Russian leaders for war crimes in Ukraine. Apparently, Washington thinks the ICC is reliable enough to try Russians but not to bring U.S. or Israeli officials to justice.

On March 15, the Senate unanimously passed S. Res 546, which “encourages member states to petition the ICC or other appropriate international tribunal to take any appropriate steps to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Armed Forces.”

When he introduced the resolution, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, “This is a proper exercise of jurisdiction. This is what the court was created for.” The United States has refused to join the ICC and consistently tries to undercut the court. Yet a unanimous U.S. Senate voted to utilize the ICC in the Ukraine conflict.

Since February 24, when the Russian Federation launched an armed attack against Ukraine, horrific images of destruction have been ubiquitous. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented 3,455 civilian casualties, including 1,417 killed and 2,038 injured as of April 3. Most of those casualties have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, which includes heavy artillery and multiple launch systems as well as air and missile strikes.

On February 28, Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, opened an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. He said that his preliminary examination found a reasonable basis to believe that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Ukraine. Khan’s formal investigation will “also encompass any new alleged crimes . . . that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine.”

As I explained in prior Truthout columns, in spite of U.S.-led NATO’s provocation of Russia over the past several years, the Russian invasion of Ukraine constitutes illegal aggression.

Nevertheless, the ICC does not have jurisdiction to prosecute Russian leaders for the crime of aggression.

The ICC’s Rome Statute Prohibits Aggression

In 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called the waging of aggressive war “essentially an evil thing,” adding that, “to initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, called aggressive war “the greatest menace of our times.” Jackson said, “If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

Aggression is prohibited by the ICC’s Rome Statute. Article 8bis defines the crime of aggression as “the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Adopting the central prohibition of the UN Charter against the use of aggressive force, Article 8bis defines an act of aggression as “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.” The charter only allows the use of military force in self-defense or with the consent of the Security Council, neither of which happened before Russia invaded Ukraine.

In order to secure a conviction for aggression, the prosecutor of the ICC must prove that a leader who exercised control over the military or political apparatus of a country ordered an armed attack against another country. An armed attack can include bombing or attacking the armed forces of other country. The attack must be a “manifest” violation of the UN Charter in its character, scale and gravity, which includes only the most serious forms of the illegal use of force. For example, a single gunshot would not qualify but George W. Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq would………………………………………….

When he introduced the resolution, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, “This is a proper exercise of jurisdiction. This is what the court was created for.” The United States has refused to join the ICC and consistently tries to undercut the court. Yet a unanimous U.S. Senate voted to utilize the ICC in the Ukraine conflict.

Since February 24, when the Russian Federation launched an armed attack against Ukraine, horrific images of destruction have been ubiquitous. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented 3,455 civilian casualties, including 1,417 killed and 2,038 injured as of April 3. Most of those casualties have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, which includes heavy artillery and multiple launch systems as well as air and missile strikes.

On February 28, Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, opened an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. He said that his preliminary examination found a reasonable basis to believe that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Ukraine. Khan’s formal investigation will “also encompass any new alleged crimes . . . that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine.”

As I explained in prior Truthout columns, in spite of U.S.-led NATO’s provocation of Russia over the past several years, the Russian invasion of Ukraine constitutes illegal aggression.

Nevertheless, the ICC does not have jurisdiction to prosecute Russian leaders for the crime of aggression……………….


“So, the U.S. wants to help the International Criminal Court prosecute Russian war crimes while barring any possibility the ICC could probe U.S. (or Israeli) war crimes,” observed Reed Brody, a commissioner for the International Commission of Jurists, an international human rights nongovernmental organization.

U.S. hypocrisy is no more apparent than in the first “Whereas” clause of the Senate’s unanimous resolution condemning Russia. It says, “Whereas the United States of America is a beacon for the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights across the globe . . .”

One hundred members of the U.S. Senate affirmed that sentiment in spite of the U.S. wars of aggression in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the commission of U.S war crimes. If the senators truly believe that the ICC is dependable enough to prosecute Russian leaders, they should push Biden to send the Rome Statute to them for advice and consent to ratification. What’s good for the Russian goose should also be good for the U.S. gander.  https://truthout.org/articles/after-undermining-international-criminal-court-us-wants-it-to-charge-russians/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=1f951de0-ce82-4df9-b85e-0a76f6faf974

April 18, 2022 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Pine Gap’s role in China–US arms race makes Australia a target

Rakesh, April 15, 2022  https://community99.com/pine-gaps-role-in-the-arms-race-between-china-and-the-united-states-makes-australia-a-target/

Developments at the U.S.-Australian satellite intelligence base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs give the United States an unprecedented ability to detect Chinese spacecraft from space and potentially destroy them.

Previously, detection was mainly based on ground-based radars, which are no longer seen as suitable for identifying these spacecraft if they were weapons. China has said it has only tested new space vehicles.

As shown below, two different versions of the latest Pine Gap satellites can do this job together. The difficulty is how to further destabilize the nuclear balance between China and the United States in order to help maintain peace.

Last October, it was reported that China had tested a nuclear-capable highly maneuverable hypersonic glider after it was lifted into space by a missile. The nuclear warheads released from US intercontinental ballistic missiles are also manoeuvrable and independently targeted. But the United States sees a serious threat from these hypersonic vehicles that can drive at more than five times the speed of sound.

This development makes Australia more closely integrated with any American offensive in space, as well as with defensive capabilities. Yet there has been no political debate in Australia about the consequences of avoiding war. No senior politician is trying to create momentum to support a new arms control deal, as Presidents Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev did in 1971, when the number of nuclear weapons escalated alarmingly, to more than 30,000 each.

The latest arms build-up is highlighted by a meeting in late March between Australian intelligence and military officials and senior US military officers at Pine Gap. Although the United States clearly considers Pine Gap to be crucial in fighting war in space, these military officers did not speak to the Australian media. Instead, they choose to talk to a London-based journalist Financial Times.

It is unclear whether the government intends to inform the Australian public about developments at Pine Gap. These have implications for Australia’s own security and its potential obligations under the outer space treaty, which limits the militarization of space without completely banning it. If Pine Gap was not already a Chinese nuclear target, it probably will be now.

That Financial Times reported the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral John Aquilino, said the United States wanted to integrate all elements of the U.S. military power with its allies. In this context, Aquilino said Australia has capabilities that make it an “extremely advanced partner”. He said increased visibility in space would help counter Chinese hypersonic weapons. “The ability to identify and track and defend against these hypersonics is really key.”

The head of the U.S. Space Command, General James Dickinson, was also interviewed for the play, saying Australia was a “critical partner” in efforts to improve space domain awareness and monitor Chinese space operations. He said, “This is the perfect place for many things to do.”

The deputy head of the U.S. Cyber Command, Lieutenant General Charles Moore, said digital convergence between the United States and Australia gives the Unit

Pine Gap’s own satellites also pick up signals from radars and weapon systems, such as ground-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, fighter jets, drones and spacecraft, along with other military and civilian communications. From Pine Gap, a huge amount of military data is fed into the American war machine in real time.ed States “the potential to conduct offensive operations.” He added that cooperation with allies created an “asymmetric advantage” over China, which lacks similar partnerships. One consequence is that China cannot gather near as much electronic intelligence from across the globe as the United States.

An idea of the growing importance of Pine Gaps for the United States is given by its extraordinary growth. Originally, it was a ground station for a single satellite to collect what is called signal intelligence as it orbited 36,000 kilometers above the Earth. There are now at least four much more powerful satellites connected to the base. Their antennas automatically intercept everything that is transmitted within their frequency range. This includes a large selection of electronic signals for intelligence analysis, including text messages, emails, phone calls and more. In addition, terrestrial antennas at Pine Gap and other Australian locations pick up a large amount of information transmitted via commercial satellites.

Pine Gap’s own satellites also pick up signals from radars and weapon systems, such as ground-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, fighter jets, drones and spacecraft, along with other military and civilian communications. From Pine Gap, a huge amount of military data is fed into the American war machine in real time.

Pine Gap operates in connection with similar interception satellites attached to a base at Menwith Hill in England. Their use to lead counterfeit drone strikes that have killed a large number of civilians has been much debated in England. The combined coverage of the two bases includes the former Soviet Union, China, Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Atlantic landmass.

Pine Gap is also linked to infrared satellites, which are of great interest to Americans. Their original function, which is still important, is to provide early warning of the firing of nuclear-armed Russian or Chinese ballistic missiles. Added options now allow them to use their infrared telescopes to detect and track heat from spacecraft as well as from large and small missiles and military jets. Some satellites have very elliptical orbits that can go close to Earth instead of being 36,000 kilometers above Earth.

These satellites now provide highly coveted information about Chinese spacecraft, amplified by the data from the signal intelligence satellites. Taken together, this gives access to signals and infrared intelligence, and its location relative to China, Pine Gap plays a crucial role in the United States’ plans to fight wars in space. This capability will be enhanced by a new space-based detection and tracking system called Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR).

On April 6, the leaders of the AUKUS pact – Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and Joe Biden – announced that they would develop hypersonic missiles and subterranean robots after previously promising to supply Australia with nuclear submarines from around 2040.

These new missiles will also travel at more than five times the speed of sound, but are air-breathing unlike those designed for use in space. The United States and Australia had already developed hypersonic cruise missiles using ramjet engines.

No figures are available, but the cost of developing, building and testing very long-range missiles will be high. A large part of the test is expected to take place in Australia. The new missiles are also intended for use against Chinese targets.

Again, China can be expected to build more missiles with the ability to target Australian and US forces in the region. Separately, Secretary of Defense Peter Dutton announced that the Australian government will spend $ 3.5 billion on new missiles with a longer range of 900 kilometers for Australian ships and fighter jets.

The background to what is happening at Pine Gap illustrates how much more important the base is to the United States than any contribution Australia may have made by a pair of fighter jets or frigates to the United States’ integrated international force that was at a distance from China. At this stage, neither side of Australian policy seems willing to refuse participation in yet another US-led war that violates Australia’s obligations under both the UN Charter and Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty. Both documents oblige Australia to reject the use of force in international relations, other than defensively.

Although rarely mentioned, Pine Gaps’ growing importance to the United States increases Australia’s leverage with the United States to refuse to contribute ships, aircraft and troops to an integrated military force should it violate international rules. It may be harder to dismiss some aspects of Pine Gap’s operations. But there are provisions in the ground rules that Australia only acts with “full knowledge and agreement” with what is happening. Australia does not have to agree.

A further question is how to revive arms control negotiations between Russia and the United States and include China. The two large ones have 1550 intercontinental warheads, but they also have smaller ones. According to the Pentagon, China had only about 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles by 2021 and about 200 smaller warheads. This gives China reasonable cause for concern that it does not have enough strategic warheads to be able to retaliate against a US first attack and thus perpetuate deterrence.

To overcome this, the Pentagon projects that China will have around 1,000 intercontinental warheads by 2030. All sides must reach a new agreement to make major cuts in the number of warheads if the chances of nuclear war are to be reduced.

Whether or not China develops hypersonic spacecraft, it is already committed to getting more traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles that can disperse maneuverable warheads. Restraint on all sides is necessary.

I asked the Secretary of State, Marise Payne, and her Labor counterpart, Penny Wong, if Australia could refuse to integrate with the United States and other forces if they considered a proposed deployment in violation of Article 1 of the ANZUS Treaty or the UN Charter. I also asked if Australia could withdraw its military assets from integrated US operations if there was a more urgent need for Australia to confront a local threat that was not of interest to the US. None of them responded before the print deadline.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 16, 2022 as “Mind Pine Gap”.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Zelensky gives his vision of peace deal with Russia

Had ‘the collective West’ not interfered, this ‘war’ might have ended weeks ago, lives saved, deals signed. But that is not how the utilization of a patsy works.

  https://www.sott.net/article/466833-Zelensky-gives-his-vision-of-peace-deal-with-Russia 17 Apr 22,

RT A peace agreement with Russia might consist of two separate documents that would cover the two key issues – security guarantees for Kiev and its future relations with Moscow, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.

Speaking to Ukrainian media, Zelensky explained that Moscow would like to have one comprehensive document that would address all the issues. However, because the security guarantees involve other countries, two documents could be a solution. According to the Ukrainian leader:

“A peace treaty with Russia can consist of two different documents. One of them should concern security guarantees for Ukraine, the other to directly address its relations with the Russian Federation.”

He explained that a document covering security guarantees could be signed by those countries “who are ready for these security guarantees,” while another document could cover future relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Zelensky claimed that the UK, US, Italy and Turkey have shown a willingness to provide security guarantees for Ukraine, but there has been no final answer from any of them. A previous list of potential guarantors also included Germany, France, Poland and Israel. Zelensky continued:

“Moscow would like to have one agreement that addresses all the issues. However, not all see themselves at the same table with Russia. For them, security guarantees for Ukraine are one issue, and agreements with Russia are another.”
Despite the apparent progress achieved in the negotiations between Moscow and Kiev in Istanbul in late March, earlier this week Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the peace talks had “returned to a deadlock.” He explained that Ukraine has refused to fulfill one of Russia’s key requests: to recognize Crimea as Russian and the Donbass republics as independent.

Putin’s remarks followed an announcement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Kiev had submitted new written proposals that deviated from what was offered during the in-person talks. The new proposal, according to Lavrov, fails to mention that the security guarantees Kiev wants to obtain do not cover Crimea.

Obtaining security guarantees from world powers has been named by Kiev as a key condition for agreeing to a neutral status and abandoning its ambition to join NATO.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

Moscow has warned Western countries against “pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, saying that these actions were exacerbating the conflict.

Comment: The potential ‘two-part’ agreements indicate Ukraine is incidental in this power play, otherwise the forces d’jour would accept a deal between Russia and Ukraine and step aside.

Meanwhile, conflict threatens to break off talks:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has threatened to break off talks with Moscow should Russian forces wipe out the remaining Ukrainian soldiers trapped in Mariupol as Moscow claimed it had taken control of the besieged and battered port city after a weeks-long battle.

The Russian Defense Ministry on April 16 said it had cleared the Mariupol urban area of Ukrainian troops and had trapped a few remaining fighters in the Azovstal steel plant.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman was quoted by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency as saying that Ukrainian forces have lost a total of 4,000 troops during the long fight for the city. Casualty figures from both sides have proved impossible to independently confirm.

Ukraine has not commented on the latest Russian claims but in recent days has indicated the situation in Mariupol was desperate, with deaths mounting among the trapped civilian population and many experts predicting the city would soon fall to the Russians.

In an interview published earlier on April 16 with Ukrayinska Pravda, Zelenskiy warned Russia against committing atrocities against Ukrainian soldiers in the city.

“The elimination of our troops, of our men [in Mariupol] will put an end to any negotiations. That will bring an impasse as we don’t negotiate on either our territories or our people. The situation is very difficult [in Mariupol]. Our soldiers are blocked, the wounded are blocked. There is a humanitarian crisis…. Nevertheless, the guys are defending themselves.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said at least one person was killed and several others wounded in early morning attacks.

“For those Kyivites who left and are already thinking of heading back to return to the capital, I ask you to refrain from this and stay in safer places.”

In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said:

“The success of our military on the battlefield has been really significant. Historically significant. But it’s still not enough to clear our land from the invading forces. The sanctions against Russia are very serious, economically painful. But it is not enough to starve Russia’s military machine. We need to promote stronger, more destructive sanctions. This will determine how long this war will last.”

Meanwhile, the United States and its Western allies continued to pile pressure on Moscow over its campaign. The German government said on April 15 that it plans to release more than 1 billion euros in military aid for Ukraine. The move comes amid criticism from Ukraine and some EU partners such as Poland and the Baltic states that Germany has not done enough to send armaments to Kyiv.

The UN refugee agency said as of April 16 that 4,836,445 million Ukrainians had left the country since the Russian invasion — up by 40,200 from the previous day’s total.

Had ‘the collective West’ not interfered, this ‘war’ might have ended weeks ago, lives saved, deals signed. But that is not how the utilization of a patsy works.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | politics, Ukraine | Leave a comment

North Korea tests new weapon bolstering nuclear capability

North Korea says it has successfully test-launched a newly developed tactical guided weapon

  • By HYUNG-JIN KIM – Associated Press
  • Apr 17, 2022   

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has test-fired a new type of tactical guided weapon designed to boost its nuclear fighting capability, state media reported Sunday, a day before its chief rivals the United States and South Korea begin annual drills that the North views as an invasion rehearsal.

The 13th weapons test this year came amid concerns that North Korea may soon conduct an even larger provocation. That may include a nuclear test in an effort to expand the country’s arsenal and increase pressure on Washington and Seoul while denuclearization talks remain stalled…………………………..   https://www.news-gazette.com/coronavirus/north-korea-tests-new-weapon-bolstering-nuclear-capability/article_0413e1d9-3fb7-5c42-a63c-e1ea66b3e084.htm

April 18, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden’s genocide comment raised concern

SOTT, Carol E. Lee, Josh Lederman, NBC News, Fri, 15 Apr 2022

President Joe Biden’s declaration this week that Russia is committing “genocide” in Ukraine raised concerns among some officials in his own government and has so far not been corroborated by information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to senior administration officials.

At the State Department, which is tasked with making formal determinations of genocide and war crimes through an independent legal process, two officials said that Biden’s seemingly offhand declaration during a domestic policy speech in Iowa on Tuesday made it harder for the agency to credibly do its job.

U.S. intelligence agencies collect information when allegations are made of actions that could amount to genocide, but policymakers are the ones who actually decide whether to declare it. Intelligence reports on Ukraine currently do not support a genocide designation, officials said.

“Genocide includes a goal of destroying an ethnic group or nation and, so far, that is not what we are seeing.”…………..

The question of when to label Russia’s actions in Ukraine “genocide,” particularly the legal threshold for doing so had been discussed inside the White House ever since images of mass graves and civilian torture and assassinations emerged in Bucha, people familiar with the discussions said. Biden had recently begun to make his views clear in private, so White House officials weren’t surprised that he called what’s happening in Ukraine “genocide,” but they were taken aback that he did so offhandedly in a speech in Iowa about inflation, the people said.

Biden’s ‘personal’ views

The president’s declaration of genocide in Ukraine was the third time in recent weeks that the president has tried to separate what he says are his personal views from official U.S. policy to take a position that he believes is right even though it’s not aligned with the position of his own government.

Biden said Russia was committing war crimes in Ukraine — another symbolically and legally significant moment in which he got ahead of his own administration — a week before the U.S. government completed its legal process and formally made that declaration.

Biden also said Russian President Vladimir Putin should no longer be in power, prompting a scramble by his aides to say that’s not what he meant and stress that U.S. policy is not regime change in Moscow. Biden later said he did mean what he said — that it was his “personal” view — but not U.S. policy.
……………  “These aren’t gaffes,” said one person close to the White House. “He’s doing this very purposefully.”

Responding to questions about Biden’s genocide declaration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this week, “The president was calling it like he sees it, and that’s what he does.”

The apparent disconnect between the president and the bureaucracy he oversees is striking given Biden’s extensive experience in foreign policy and government. Biden also has stressed since the 2020 campaign that “the words of a president matter.” And he’s gone out of his way to say he would not try to influence independent Justice Department decisions, but some administration officials see a willingness for him to do just that with other independent legal processes.

Once the president says he believes genocide and war crimes have been committed, administration officials said that puts immense pressure on career government officials to reach the same conclusion. The concern is that if and when the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice reaches those conclusions on its own, the office risks appearing late to the game or like it’s trying to justify Biden’s public comments, the officials said. One of the administration officials said Biden’s comments had put particular pressure on Beth Van Schaack, the U.S. ambassador for global criminal justice, who was confirmed by the Senate last month. On Friday, Schaack met with Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, to compare notes as Venediktvoa’s office investigates alleged Russian war crimes by Russia. Venediktova, like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has already accused Russia of genocide in Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence shows that the Russians have been told that Ukrainians in the eastern Donbas region, where fighting is expected to intensify, are Nazis and that the Ukrainian civilians are Nazi sympathizers, raising concerns about genocide, officials said. The Russians also have been told the same about Ukrainians in Mariupol, officials said, with one noting how brutal Moscow’s military campaign has been there.

Genocide is a specific crime defined under international law, and proving it requires showing an intent at high levels to commit genocide.

Biden’s early accusation against Russia, which was welcomed by Zelenskyy, came even ahead of human rights organizations that have often pushed U.S. administrations to declare that a regime has committed genocide.

Human Rights Watch, for instance, so far has not found evidence of a genocidal campaign waged by Russia, according to Tara Sepehri Far, acting deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office.

“Our research is not matching the definition yet,” said Sepehri Far. “It doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

Biden has throughout his decades long career at times been quicker than others in the U.S. government to speak out about genocide…………………………..  https://www.sott.net/article/466834-Biden-genocide-comment-raised-concern-among-some-U-S-officials

April 18, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dissent is dying in America – the backlash is vitriolic

AMERICAN DISSENT ON UKRAINE IS DYING IN DARKNESS   https://popularresistance.org/american-dissent-on-ukraine-is-dying-in-darkness/  AUDIO 

When It Came To The Ukraine Conflict, Professor Michael J. Brenner Did What He’s Done His Whole Life: Question American Foreign Policy.

This time the backlash was vitriolic.

As the death toll in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues to rise, there have only been a handful of Westerners publicly questioning NATO and the West’s role in the conflict. These voices are becoming fewer and further between as a wave of feverish backlash engulfs any dissent on the subject. One of these voices belongs to Professor Michael J. Brenner, a lifelong academic, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS/Johns Hopkins, as well as former Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas.

Brenner’s credentials also include having worked at the Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense and Westinghouse, and written several books on American foreign policy. From the vantage point of decades of experience and studies, the intellectual regularly shared his thoughts on topics of interest through a mailing list sent to thousands of readers—that is until the response to his Ukraine analysis made him question why he bothered in the first place.

In an email with the subject line “Quittin’ Time,” Brenner recently declared that, aside from having already said his piece on Ukraine, one of the main reasons he sees for giving up on expressing his opinions on the subject is that “it is manifestly obvious that our society is not capable of conducting an honest, logical, reasonably informed discourse on matters of consequence. Instead, we experience fantasy, fabrication, fatuousness and fulmination.” He goes on to decry President Joe Biden’s alarming comments in Poland when he all but revealed that the U.S. is—and perhaps has always been—interested in a Russian regime change.

On this week’s “Scheer Intelligence,” Brenner tells host Robert Scheer how the recent attacks he received—many of a personal, ad hominem nature—were some of the most vitriolic he’s ever experienced. The two discuss how many media narratives completely leave out that the eastward expansion of NATO, among other Western aggressions against Russia, played an important part in fueling the current humanitarian crisis. Corporate media’s “cartoonish” depiction of Russian president Vladimir Putin, adds Brenner, is not only misleading, but dangerous given the nuclear brinkmanship that has ensued. Listen to the full discussion between Brenner and Scheer as they continue to dissent despite living in an America that is seemingly increasingly hostile to any opinion that strays from the official line.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Jews Favor Return to Iran Deal

Jews support a return to the Iran deal by 68-32, according to a new survey. And when Jews are asked to name their top two political issues, Israel shows up near the bottom of the list, well behind climate change.

Portside, April 16, 2022, Philip Weiss MONDOWEISS

merican Jews overwhelmingly support the renewal of the Iran deal, and very few American Jews consider Israel a political priority, according to a new survey of American Jewish voters.

Jews support a return to the Iran deal by 68-32, the Jewish Electoral Institute found in a poll of 800 Jews this spring. The proportion is nearly 4-to-1 among Reform Jews (79-21) and women (77-23). And Jews over 65 are for the deal by a larger percentage (72-28) than Jews under 40. Only the orthodox are against the Iran deal, by 85-15! But orthodox make up just 9 percent of the Jewish population.

Now here’s the indifference to Israel question.

Voters were asked to say which two issues they wanted the president to focus on. Israel got clobbered. Only 4 percent listed it as one of their two issues.

When you break it out by denomination, it’s even starker. 1 percent of non-denominational Jews and 2 percent of Reform Jews think Israel should be a priority. And those two groups make up more than two-thirds of American Jews — 31 percent non-denominational, 37 percent Reform. Though 5 percent of Conservative and 18 percent of Orthodox Jews see Israel as a priority.

Other issues are just way more important. 42 percent of nondenominational Jews say climate change should be a top priority; 32 percent say voting rights; 12 percent say crime…………………

The new poll also shows that 93 percent of American Jews are concerned about antisemitism. The Reform number there is 95 percent concerned, the orthodox 96 percent, the non-denominational 89 percent concerned…….   https://portside.org/2022-04-16/us-jews-favor-return-iran-deal

April 18, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment