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Can Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese save Julian Assange?

New Prime Minister Anthony Albanese,  has said he couldn’t see any purpose in keeping Assange in gaol, stating “enough is enough”. In the first week of the Albanese Government, the ABC reported: ‘Mr Albanese is also a signatory to the Bring Julian Assange Home Campaign petition.’

Questioned by The Guardian – Albanese replied that it was his position that “not all foreign affairs is best done with the loudhailer”.

So – we are now getting used to an Australian Prime Minister who values thinking and diplomacy rather than bull-dozing and bullying tactics . So there’s hope.

On the other hand, there’s the determination of the U.S.military-industrial-complex, which rules U.S. politics – to punish Julian Assange for exposing U.S. military’s war crimes. And the subservience of the U.K. to USA, now vested in just oned person, Home Secretary Priti Patel, who shows no sign of having the integrity to stand up for justice.

It is ironic that everyone is now (rightly) jumping up and down about Russian military atrocities, and praising reporters who reveal these – but it seems it’s OK to persecute Assange for revealing U.S. military atrocities?

June 16, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Christina's notes, civil liberties, media, politics international | 1 Comment

The power of the global nuclear lobby makes a joke of the sanctions against Russia, and controls the European Union on climate policy.

France, the nuclear industry’s poster boy, and self-appointed leader of the European Union is deeply involved with Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom in expanding the global industry. France is gungho for sanctions against Russian gas and oil, – but nuclear trade is fine.

Joe Biden very keen for sanctions against Russian trade, but the nuclear lobby quickly fixed him, when it came to nuclear – so Russia’s Rosatom was excluded from sanctions.

Russia exports uranium to Europe and USA – so that’s fine.

When it comes to calling nuclear power clean and green and sustainable, Russia, along with the global industry lobbyists, exerted strong pressure in various ways to make sure that the European Commission toes the line.

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Julian Assange and family suffer as unjust detention continues

Independent Australia By Binoy Kampmark | 16 June 2022,

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian………………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian…………………..

The documentary Ithaka powerfully depicts the fight Julian Assange’s family is putting up for him, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark

JOHN Shipton, despite his size, glides with insect-like grace across surfaces. He moves with a hovering sense, a holy man with message and meaning. As Julian Assange’s father, he has found himself a bearer of messages and meaning, attempting to convince those in power that good sense and justice should prevail over brute stupidity and callousness. 

His one object: release Julian……………………………….

Soft, a voice of reed and bird song, Shipton urged activists and citizens to join the fray, to save his son, to battle for a cause imperishably golden and pure. From this summit, power would be held accountable, institutions would function with sublime transparency, and citizens could be assured that their privacy would be protected. 

In the documentary Ithaka, directed by Ben Lawrence, we see Shipton, Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, the two children, the cat and glimpses of brother Gabriel, all pointing to the common cause that rises to the summit of purpose. The central figure, who only ever manifests in spectral form – on-screen via phone or fleeting footage – is one of moral reminder, the purpose that supplies blood for all these figures. 

Assange is being held at Belmarsh, Britain’s most secure and infamous of prisons, denied bail and being crushed by judicial procedure.  But in these supporters, he has some vestigial reminders of a life outside.

The film’s promotion site describes the subject as ‘the world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’ a figure who has ‘become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes’. ………..

 suffer he shall, if the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel decides to agree to the wishes of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The DOJ insists that their man face 17 charges framed, disgracefully and archaically, from a U.S. law passed during World War I and inimical to free press protections. The Espionage Act of 1917 has become the crutch and support for prosecutors who see, in Assange, less a journalist than an opportunistic hacker who outed informants and betrayed confidences. ……………………..

Through the film, the exhausting sense of media, that estate ever-present but not always listening, comes through. This point is significant enough; the media – at least in terms of the traditional fourth estate – put huge stock in the release of material from WikiLeaks in 2010, hailing the effort and praising the man behind it. 

But relations soured, and tabloid nastiness set in. The Left found tell-all information and tales of Hillary Clinton too much to handle while the Right, having initially revelled in the revelations of WikiLeaks in 2016, took to demonising the herald. Perversely, in the United States, accord was reached across a good number of political denizens: Assange had to go, and to go, he had to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom and extradited to the United States.

The documentary covers the usual highlights without overly pressing the viewer.  A decent run-up is given to the Ecuadorian stint lasting seven years, with Assange’s bundling out, and the Old Bailey proceedings covering extradition. But Shipton and Moris are the ones who provide the balancing acts in this mission to aid the man they both love……….

The film has faced, as with its subject, the usual problems of distribution and discussion. When Assange is mentioned, the dull-minded exit for fear of reputation, and the hysterical pronounce and pounce. 

In Gabriel Shipton’s words

“All of the negative propaganda and character assassination is so pervasive that many people in the sector and the traditional distribution outlets don’t want to be seen as engaging in advocacy for Julian.”

Where Assange goes, the power monopolies recoil. Distribution and the review of a documentary such as Ithaka is bound to face problems in the face of such a compromised, potted media terrain. Assange is a reminder of the plague in the patient of democracy, a pox on the body politic. ……….. https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/julian-assange-and-family-suffer-as-unjust-detention-continues,16470#.YqqqxM6TP0M.twitter

June 16, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, media, UK | Leave a comment

The Rosatom Exemption: How Russia’s State-Run Nuclear Giant Has Escaped Sanctions

The French nuclear conglomerate Framatome has so far refused to end its cooperation with Rosatom. In December 2021, Rosatom and Framatome announced the signing of a “strategic cooperation” agreement to expand efforts to develop nuclear fuel and technologies.

And while more than 1,000 Western firms have either suspended or ended operations in Russia due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Framatome doesn’t appear ready to join them.

 https://www.rferl.org/a/rosatom-russia-nuclear-giant-escapes-sanctions/31899192.html 15 June 22, Europe has grappled with how to end its Russian energy addiction more than ever since Vladimir Putin launched his country’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The executive body of the 27-nation European Union agreed a plan in May to reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas by two-thirds by the end of the year, with a total phaseout of all Russian fossil fuel planned by the end of 2027. Coal, already on the outs in much of the bloc, will be banned by August.

But absent from sanctions, let alone discussion, is Rosatom, the Russian state-run nuclear power giant, despite a written appeal in the early days of the invasion from Ukrainian activists and NGOs to blacklist the company and ban nuclear fuel imported from Russia.

Brussels is not alone. When U.S. President Joe Biden announced a U.S. ban on Russian oil, natural gas, and coal imports in March, there was no mention of Rosatom. The Biden administration reportedly considered sanctioning Rosatom but backed off after nuclear industry lobbying and Biden’s plans to include nuclear power as part of the transition to clean energy, Reuters reported.

Rosatom’s footprint is deep in the global reactor and nuclear fuel business. That type of economic sway may explain why Russia’s nuclear industry “has managed to stay out of the limelight” during talk of sanctions, explained Oksana Ananyeva, an energy-policy analyst at the Ukrainian NGO Ekodia, one of the signatories of the March appeal addressed to Biden and EU leaders.

“One of the reasons for that is certainly the heavy reliance on uranium and nuclear fuel as most of the 32 countries that use nuclear power rely on Russia for some part of their nuclear fuel supply chain,” Ananyeva told RFE/RL.

The Numbers

Russian nuclear power radiates far beyond its borders. Of the 439 nuclear reactors in operation around the world in 2021, 38 of them were in Russia, an additional 42 were made with Russian nuclear reactor technology, and 15 more under construction were being built with Russian technology, according to a study published on May 23 at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Russia is also a source of uranium, the key ingredient in nuclear fuel. Europe gets some 20 percent of its uranium from Russia. The United States relies on Russia for 16 percent of its uranium, with another 30 percent from two of Moscow’s close partners, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Russia owned 40 percent of the total uranium conversion infrastructure in the world in 2020 and 46 percent of the total uranium enrichment capacity in the world in 2018, according to the Columbia University report.

An EU Rethink On Nuclear Power?

In recent years, Rosatom is reported to have been part of nuclear-power industry lobby efforts to convince the EU to embrace nuclear as the bloc considers how to move faster to cleaner forms of power. According to Greenpeace, new EU nuclear capacity could be worth an estimated 500 billion euros ($521 billion) of potential investment.

The EU is scrambling to meet a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 to prevent catastrophic global warming. Part of that process is defining what is and what isn’t a climate-friendly investment. Leaders in Brussels are seeking approval from EU countries and the European Parliament to include nuclear energy as a sustainable investment in its “taxonomy” policy for labeling green investments.

Rosatom has been accused by Greenpeace of using lobbying connections, which the environmental NGO describes as “reminiscent of nesting Russian dolls,” to press for the inclusion of nuclear energy in the taxonomy of sustainable investments, much like Russian energy firms Gazprom and LUKoil have done to include fossil gas.

In a report released on May 17, Greenpeace said its research had uncovered that Russian energy companies, including Gazprom, had met with EU commissioners and senior officials either directly or through subsidiaries and lobby groups at least 18 times since the European Commission published its action plan on sustainable finance in March 2018.

Beyond fuel, Rosatom is hoping to build new nuclear reactors, which are the core of its business. Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil, has voiced opposition to proposed EU bans on Russian energy. It also has plans with Rosatom to build new reactors at its Paks nuclear power plant.

After meeting Rosatom’s chief executive in Istanbul on May 5, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement that the planned construction of the two new blocks at Paks served Hungary’s strategic interests.

Szijjarto said the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority was reviewing the requests for permits submitted by Rosatom and once these are approved the project could enter its next phase.

The project, awarded in 2014 without a tender to Rosatom but plagued by delays, has often been cited as a sign of warm ties between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Putin.

While Hungary appears to be going ahead, Finland has announced it is pulling out from its planned reactor project with Rosatom. On May 2, the Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima said it had scrapped a contract with Rosatom citing delays and increased risks due to the war in Ukraine.

Rosatom, which owns a 34 percent stake in the consortium through a Finnish subsidiary, said on May 6 that it will demand compensation for the “unlawful termination” of the contract.

Europe’s Dependence

Continue reading

June 16, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Two key  committees of the European Parliament  strike down EU plans to label nuclear and gas as green investment .

MEPs strike down EU plans to label nuclear and gas as green investment.

https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2022/06/14/meps-strike-down-eu-plans-to-label-nuclear-and-gas-as-green-investment     By Jorge Liboreiro  & Alice Tidey  •  Updated: 14/06/2022 

The European Commission’s highly controversial plan to label gas and nuclear as sustainable energy sources was on Tuesday struck down by two key parliamentary committees. 

The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee rejected the proposal on Tuesday, with 76 MEPs voting to object and 62 voting in favour.

In a statement, MEPs on the committees said they “recognise the role of nuclear and fossil gas in guaranteeing stable energy supply during the transition to a sustainable economy.”

“But, they consider that the technical screening standards proposed by the Commission, in its delegated regulation, to support their inclusion do not respect the criteria for environmentally sustainable economic activities as set out in Article 3 of the Taxonomy Regulation,” the statement added.

They also requested that any new or amended delegated acts be subject to public consultation and impact assessments.

The objection will be put before the whole plenary in the first week of July. If the hemicycle replicates the outcome of the committees, the Commission’s plan will be officially scrapped.

The move pits lawmakers against a majority of member states, led by France, who had supported the inclusion of both gas and nuclear in the EU taxonomy.

A smaller group comprising Luxembourg, Spain, Austria and Denmark was vehemently opposed to the label, while Germany, which is highly dependent on gas, objected to the inclusion of nuclear as sustainable.

The committees’ rejection was welcomed by climate activists.  Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said in a statement that “MEPs stood with Ukraine today by voting to stop feeding Putin’s war machine with more money and inflaming the climate and nature crisis.”

“After more than 100 days of this devastating war, the European Parliament must now once and for all reject the greenwashing of fossil gas and nuclear energy in July. Do not give this shameful gift to Putin and his lobbyists,” she also said. 

Mariana López Dávila, Programme Manager on Sustainable Finance, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS) also commented, saying the vote “shows the Parliament’s willingness to stay true to science, and gives us hope that the EU can still lead the world into a truly sustainable future.”

“However, the veto is not yet a done deal. Members of the European Parliament stand a unique chance to walk the talk, and avoid greenwashing well-meaning investments into environmentally-harming projects,” she added. 

Adopted in 2021, the taxonomy is a catalogue that helps private and public investors make informed choices about climate-conscious investments.

It covers a long list of projects that make a “substantial contribution” to at least one environmental objective of the EU’s climate policy while avoiding significant harm to any of the others.

Sectors already labelled as green under the taxonomy include solar energy, geothermal, hydrogen, wind power, hydropower and bioenergy.

The Commission later proposed to add gas and nuclear, arguing the two sources could be used as a temporary bridge to wean the EU off coal and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

June 16, 2022 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Pope Francis again says that the West provoked or failed to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pope Doubles Down On NATO-Ukraine Comments: Russian Invasion Was “Provoked” https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/pope-doubles-down-ukraine-war-comments-russian-invasion-was-provoked

BY TYLER DURDEN, WEDNESDAY, JUN 15, 2022 –
Pope Francis has doubled down on prior controversial statements suggesting the Russia-Ukraine conflict is largely NATO’s fault, asserting also that “war cannot be reduced to distinction between good guys and bad guys” – as the Vatican’s own headline to the interview reads.

In statements published Tuesday by the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, the Roman Catholic leaders said that the Russian invasion was “perhaps somehow provoked” while again saying there were signs that NATO had been “barking at the gates of Russia” in the run-up.

The pontiff still condemned what he called the “ferocity and cruelty of the Russian troops” while warning against a pure ‘good vs. evil’ fairytale narrative of the conflict.

Just like with his initial similar comments made at the start of May, these latest statements have triggered outrage among Western pundits who’ve called for escalating military support to Ukraine at the expense of dialogue with Moscow toward negotiating a settlement to end the war:

“We need to move away from the usual Little Red Riding Hood pattern, in that Little Red Riding Hood was good and the wolf was the bad one,” Francis said. “Something global is emerging and the elements are very much entwined.”

That’s when in the interview he provided more context to his early May statements on the war. He said that a couple months prior to the Feb.24 invasion, he met with a “wise” head of state – though Francis didn’t name him or her

“…a wise man who speaks little, a very wise man indeed … He told me that he was very worried about how Nato was moving. I asked him why, and he replied: ‘They are barking at the gates of Russia. They don’t understand that the Russians are imperial and can’t have any foreign power getting close to them.'”

“He concluded, ‘The situation could lead to war.’ This was his opinion. On 24 February, the war began. That head of state was able to read the signs of what was happening.”

He added: “We do not see the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was, perhaps, somehow either provoked or not prevented.”

The Pope also reiterated that the arms industry in the West is benefitting from the bloodshed: “I also note the interest in testing and selling weapons. It is very sad, but at the end of the day that is what is at stake,” he said in the interview.

Someone may say to me at this point: but you are pro-Putin! No, I am not. It would be simplistic and erroneous to say such a thing. I am simply against turning a complex situation into a distinction between good guys and bad guys, without considering the roots and self-interests, which are very complex. While we witness the ferocity and cruelty of Russian troops, we should not forget the problems, and seek to solve them,” he explained.

According to Vatican News, the pontiff additionally described that even beyond Ukraine-Russian, “the world is at war

“We see what is happening now in Ukraine in a certain way because it is closer to us and pricks our sensibilities more. But there are other countries far away—think of some parts of Africa, northern Nigeria, northern Congo—where war is ongoing and nobody cares. Think of Myanmar and the Rohingya. The world is at war. Today, for me, World War III has been declared.”

The last time he suggested the West is at least equally to blame for the unfolding Ukraine war, an avalanche of op-eds and condemnations were issued by US and Western officials suggesting that somehow liberal Pope Francis too has been ‘compromised’ by Putin (ironically a smear typically reserved for Trump or Republicans in general).

June 16, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | 1 Comment

Nuclear-armed nations spent $82.4bn on weapons in 2021 

Nuclear-armed nations spent $82.4bn on weapons in 2021  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/6/15/nuclear-armed-nations-spent-82bn-on-weapons-in-2021

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons accuses nuclear-armed nations of ‘obscene’ spending and notes extensive industry lobbying. 

The world’s nine nuclear-armed countries spent $82.4bn upgrading their atomic weaponry in 2021, eight percent more than the year before, a campaign group has said.

The biggest spender was the United States, which accounted for more than half the total spending, followed by China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said in its annual report on nuclear spending.

“Nuclear-armed states spent an obscene amount of money on illegal weapons of mass destruction in 2021, while the majority of the world’s countries support a global nuclear weapons ban,” the group said in its report. “This spending failed to deter a war in Europe and squandered valuable resources that could be better used to address current security challenges, or cope with the outcome of a still raging global pandemic. This corrupt cycle of wasteful spending must be put to an end.”

ICAN noted that nuclear weapons producers also spent millions lobbying on defence, with every $1 spent lobbying leading to an average of $256 in new contracts involving nuclear weapons.

“The exchange of money and influence, from countries to companies to lobbyists and think tanks, sustains and maintains a global arsenal of catastrophically destructive weapons,” the report said.

On Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI) warned that all nine nuclear-armed countries were increasing or upgrading their arsenals, and that the risk of such weapons being deployed appeared higher now than at any time since the height of the Cold War.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, has openly threatened to use its nuclear weapons.

ICAN estimates North Korea spent $642m on nuclear weaponry in 2021 even as its economy struggled under United Nations sanctions and the pandemic-linked closure of borders.

Pyongyang walked away from denuclearisation talks after the collapse of a summit with then-US President Donald Trump in 2019, and has carried out a record number of missile launches this year. There are concerns it is preparing for its first nuclear weapons tests since 2017.

There is no official confirmation on the amount North Korea spends on nuclear weapons or its arsenal. SIPRI estimates it has as many as 20 warheads.

Nuclear weapons spending, 2021

Source: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

  1. United States $44.2bn
  2. China $11.7bn
  3. Russia $8.6bn
  4. UK $6.8bn
  5. France $5.9bn
  6. India $2.3bn
  7. Israel $1.2bn
  8. Pakistan $1.1bn
  9. North Korea $642m

June 16, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Many of UK’s coastal buildings may soon need to be abandoned due to sea level rise, – and what about the nuclear reactors?

Sea level rise threatens many coastal buildings in UK.

Is the UK government completely stupid? Not only are existing nuclear reactors at risk of flooding, but they plan new ones in the same threatened coastal areas?

Nearly 200,000 properties in England may have to be abandoned due to rising sea levels by 2050, a report says. It looks at where water will cause most damage and whether defences are technically and financially feasible.

There is consensus among scientists that decades of sea level rise are inevitable and the government has said that not all properties can be saved.

About a third of England’s coast will be put under pressure by sea level rise, the report says. “It just won’t be possible to hold the line all around the coast,” says the report’s author Paul Sayers, an expert on flood and coastal risks, adding that tough decisions will have to be made about what it is realistic to protect.

 BBC 15th June 2022

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61795783

The estimate of nearly 200,000 homes and businesses at risk of abandonment comes from researchers at the Tyndall Centre, in the University of East Anglia, published in the peer-review journal Oceans and Coastal Management.

 Guardian 15th June 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/15/sea-level-rise-in-england-will-force-200000-to-abandon-homes-data-shows

June 16, 2022 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

The deteriorating nuclear order

We’re returning to a time when nuclear threats were the norm — and the world flirted with Armageddon.

Politico, BY IVO DAALDER, June 15, 2022

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

So said the leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States for the very first time, just five months ago. Today, however, the prospect of nuclear weapons use is perhaps greater than any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Just weeks after co-signing the joint statement on preventing nuclear war, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war of aggression against a neighbor that had given up its nuclear weapons in return for Russia’s explicit assurance “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine [and] refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine.”

At the onset of war, Putin made an explicit threat to “those who stand in our way,” saying that the “consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.” And just three days later, he said he’d raise the alert level of its nuclear forces — though there are no indications that he did.

Russia has sought to enhance the threat of using nuclear weapons for years now. 

Realizing its conventional capabilities were no longer a match for the U.S. and NATO, some time ago, Moscow adopted a military doctrine in which its use of so-called tactical weapons might persuade an adversary to back down. And with progress in its war against Ukraine stymied by determined Ukrainian forces backed with sophisticated Western weapons, the possibility that Putin might decide to “escalate to deescalate” has become especially alarming.

But it’s not just Russian behavior and threats that are lowering the nuclear threshold. There are an increasing number of other worrying developments on the nuclear front, starting with actions taken by other established nuclear powers.

For one, the U.S. is in the midst of a massive nuclear modernization program, costing upward of $1 trillion and including new land-based missiles, a new strategic bomber and new missile-carrying nuclear submarines. It’s also deployed low-yield nuclear warheads to give Washington the capability to respond to any limited nuclear use by Russia — though few believe a nuclear exchange is or can remain limited.

China’s also modernizing and expanding its nuclear forces at a fast clip. It’s been digging new missile silos in the Gobi Desert, and the Pentagon estimates that it will deploy 1,000 nuclear warheads by the end of the decade — effectively ending its long-standing policy of relying on a minimal deterrent.

Britain, too, has announced that it’s increasing its nuclear capabilities, boosting its possible future sea-launched warhead numbers by 40 percent. And France has embarked on a major new modernization program of nuclear missiles and submarines.

But it’s not only the established nuclear powers that are expanding capabilities — newer and aspirant powers are as well.

Pakistan and India have growing nuclear arsenals that, in a few years, may equal those of France or Britain. North Korea not only has resumed nuclear material production but has also expanded the mission of its growing nuclear forces from deterring attack to advancing its national interests. And Iran now possesses enough material for a nuclear bomb as prospects of returning to the nuclear deal restraining it have all but vanished.

This increasing nuclearization around the world is putting new pressure on the nonproliferation regime.

The more countries look to the nuclear option to ensure security, the more the incentive for other countries to follow. For example, Iran’s emergence as a nuclear threshold state increases the pressure on countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey to reconsider their non-nuclear status…………………..

Pakistan and India have growing nuclear arsenals that, in a few years, may equal those of France or Britain. North Korea not only has resumed nuclear material production but has also expanded the mission of its growing nuclear forces from deterring attack to advancing its national interests. And Iran now possesses enough material for a nuclear bomb as prospects of returning to the nuclear deal restraining it have all but vanished.

This increasing nuclearization around the world is putting new pressure on the nonproliferation regime.

The more countries look to the nuclear option to ensure security, the more the incentive for other countries to follow. For example, Iran’s emergence as a nuclear threshold state increases the pressure on countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey to reconsider their non-nuclear status.  https://www.politico.eu/article/nuclear-weapons-russia-war-ukraine-united-states-china/

June 16, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Stop Sizewell C group questions UK government’s reasons for designating the project under the Regulated Asset Base model – and its secrecy about the plan.

The Secretary of State is intending to designate a company which no one knows who the owners will be. EDF and the government – both apparently intending to be minority partners in Sizewell C with 20% stakes – are continuing to negotiate with each other behind closed doors.

BEIS has today published draft reasons for designating NNB Generation Co (Sizewell C Co) as the first step towards the company being able to use a RAB funding model. All financial figures have been redacted. The BEIS press statement says “by publishing the draft reasons for designating Sizewell C under the RAB model, the government is going beyond the transparency requirements set out in legislation.”

Stop Sizewell C said: “It’s outrageous that ministers are hiding the cost to electricity bill payers
and the public purse of Sizewell C, while claiming to be transparent. By redacting the finances, it is impossible to know if the Secretary of State’s judgement on Value for Money is sound. We fail to understand why the government would not impose conditions related to the EPR reactor technology, when it has such a catastrophic track record, and one of the only working examples has been offline for almost a year in China”

Additionally we note the following: The Secretary of State is intending to designate a company which no one knows who the owners will be. EDF and the government – both apparently intending to be minority partners in Sizewell C with 20% stakes – are continuing to negotiate with each other behind closed doors.

The government intends to take a special share in Sizewell C, as a means of “protecting national security interests”, yet there is no mention of removing China General Nuclear from the project. The Value for Money assessment acknowledges that the (secret) figures provided by NNB require “uplift” (page 22 “

Given that largescale infrastructure projects have a tendency to cost more and take longer to
build than expected, the analysis has applied appropriate uplifts to these assumptions”), and conclude that “the estimated return on government investment is positive in the majority of scenarios modelled” (page 22). With no indication of the size of that majority, or the various cost
burdens, it is therefore clear that the return was negative in at least some scenarios.

The only cost for Sizewell C in the public domain is the original estimate of £20 billion, published over two years ago. Since then there have been major changes to the project and huge price hikes in construction materials. Despite references to lessons learned at other EPR projects, there are no specific conditions linked to design adaptations that will be required for Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C’s reactors basedon the experience of Taishan 1, where problems have led to the reactor
being offline for almost a year. (EDF reports, p116 “In addition [to fuel failure], a phenomenon occurring between the assemblies and a component enclosing the core has been identified, which would be linked to hydraulic stresses” and the French regulator, ASN, refers to (p14) “various
anomalies observed on the cores of the EPR reactors of Taishan“.

Such adaptations could have a serious impact on both cost and timescales. A government condition was attached to an (unused) offer of loan guarantees for Hinkley Point C, that the Flamanville EPR should be operating by December 2020. It is not expected to be operating until mid 2023 at the earliest. Finland’s Olkiluoto EPR is still testing at reduced capacity. 
Stop Sizewell C 14th June 2022
https://stopsizewellc.org/designation/

June 16, 2022 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C nuclear supply engineers go on strike

Plating engineers creating products to supply to the Hinkley Point C
nuclear power station go on strike today [13 June] in a pay dispute. Dozens
of workers at Darchem Engineering, in Stockton-Upon-Tees, will walk out
today after welders working for same firm were given an additional pay
supplement, while the engineers weren’t. Further strikes are planned for
20,21,28 and 29 June. Industrial action could lead to big delays at Hinkley
Point C – the £25 billion nuclear reactor in Somerset. GMB 14th June 2022 https://www.gmb.org.uk/news/hinkley-point-supply-engineers-strike

June 16, 2022 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

UK government’s new financing plan for %20 tax-payer funded Sizewell C nuclear project will increase costs and delays, – is aimed to cut China out.

The government has bought an option to take a 20% stake in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in a move that could ease China’s state nuclear company out of the project. Ministers took a £100m option to invest in Sizewell C’s holding company in January and said on Tuesday it would convert that into equity if the project reaches a final investment decision.

The venture on the Suffolk coast is jointly owned by EDF and China General Nuclear Power. The government is understood to be keen toremove CGN from the project amid concerns over China’s involvement in critical UK infrastructure. The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, set out the taxpayer-funded financing model for Sizewell C and future projects on Tuesday.

The strategy the government plans to use – a regulated asset
base model – involves taxpayers taking on risk alongside private investors. The government is
attempting to inject urgency into a notoriously slow-moving industry amid a
drive to boost Britain’s domestic energy supplies.

In April Boris Johnson set out plans to approve up to eight reactors by the end of the decade. A
decision on whether to grant Sizewell C planning consent was last month delayed until 8 July. Research by the University of Greenwich Business School seen by the Guardian last month showed the project could cost UK taxpayers more than double government estimates and take five years longer to build.

 Guardian 14th June 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/14/uk-buys-option-to-take-20-stake-in-sizewell-c-nuclear-power-plant

June 16, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Two European Parliamentary committees oppose inclusion of nuclear power and gas as environmentally sustainable

MEPs from the two responsible committees on Tuesday opposed the inclusion
of gas and nuclear power on the list of environmentally sustainable
economic activities. On Tuesday, at a joint meeting of the Committee on
Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on the Environment, Health
and Food Safety, MEPs adopted by 76 votes for, 62 against and 4 abstentions
an objection the Commission’s proposal to include specific nuclear and gas
activities in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities
covered by the EU taxonomy.

 European Parliament 14th June 2022

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/fr/press-room/20220613IPR32812/taxonomie-les-deputes-contre-l-inclusion-d-activites-gazieres-et-nucleaires





June 16, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

The US-led bloc is unwilling to fight Russia directly and treats Ukraine as a proxy, Dutch PM admits.

NATO pledges more heavy weapons for Ukraine

The US-led bloc is unwilling to fight Russia directly and treats Kiev as a proxy, Dutch PM admits. Rt.com  15 June 22,
Ukraine must get more NATO heavy weapons, the military bloc’s head said on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting of a US-led ‘contact group’ set up to discuss the plan’s logistics. NATO is trying to adapt to the “constantly changing” demands from Kiev, according to the American envoy to the bloc. 

“Ukraine should have more heavy weapons and NATO allies and partners have provided heavy weapons … and they are also stepping up,” its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday in The Hague, where he met with leaders of seven member states ahead of the NATO summit scheduled for the end of June……….

Meanwhile, US Permanent Representative to NATO Julianne Smith was reported as saying that NATO states are trying to adapt to Kiev’s demands for additional weapons, which are constantly changing.

According to the Pentagon, initial efforts to supply Ukraine focused on portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, but are now shifting to tanks and heavy artillery due to the nature of the current fighting in Donbass.

Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has said that Kiev urgently needs 1,000 howitzers, 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles, and 1,000 drones. 

While the US has pledged only four HIMARS rocket launchers, the Pentagon’s policy chief, Colin Kahl, on Tuesday revealed that they would be supplied with heavy guided missiles, with a range of 70 kilometers. ……..

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 Minsk Protocol was 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.  https://www.rt.com/news/557173-ukraine-heavy-weapons-nato/

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t to skip 1st U.N. nuclear ban meeting next week

 KYODO NEWS 15 June 22, – Japan will not join the first meeting of parties to a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons to be held in Vienna next week, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday, despite high expectations for its attendance as the only nation that has suffered atomic bombings.

Japan, which has not signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, did not complete the procedures for taking part in the three-day meeting, including as an observer, by the Tuesday deadline.

Survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, as well as member nations of the U.N. treaty, had hoped that the Japanese government would participate in the gathering that kicks off next Tuesday………………. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/740ac3501176-japan-govt-to-skip-1st-un-nuclear-ban-meeting-next-week.html

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment