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“Present Danger: Nuclear Power Plants in War,” The US Army War College Quarterly: Parameters

 

what is still lacking, is a Pentagon assessment of what all this means militarily.

https://npolicy.org/present-danger-nuclear-power-plants-in-war-the-us-army-war-college-quarterly-parameters/ October 19, 2022, Author: Henry Sokolski

As the war in Ukraine drags on, daily developments at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant explode on our Google News screens. Last week, external power needed to prevent a core meltdown at the plant was cut off repeatedly, forcing reliance on emergency diesel generators.

Meanwhile, Russians have tortured, kidnapped, and killed Ukrainian staff at the plant to force them to renounce their loyalty to Ukraine and sign employment contracts with Rosatom, Russia’s electrical utility. Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, and Finland have all begun distributing iodine pills to reduce thyroid cancers if there is a loss of coolant accident at Zaporizhzhia and a radiological release that drifts their way.

And Washington’s response? Several senior US officials have condemned Russia’s assaults on Zaporizhzhia as being “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” Yet, well after Russia’s military assault on the plant, Westinghouse, the Energy and State Departments, and the President announced plans to construct nuclear power plants in Poland, Romania, and even Ukraine. No one has yet explained how or if these plants can be defended.

This is weird. Plants in Central Europe, like Zaporizhzhia, are not just electrical generators, they are stationary, potential slow-burning nuclear dispersal weapons that could conceivably trigger or even force a NATO response. Plants and such war zones present a real and present danger.

Late last month, the U.S. Army War College asked me to write a short piece on the military risks nuclear plants in war zones present. Attached, “Present Danger: Nuclear Plants in War,” is that analysis. It lays out a basic set of recommendations for the Pentagon.

Present Danger: Nuclear Power Plants in War

Zaporizhzhya’s nuclear plant, as of this writing, has been placed on cold shutdown. The plant and its military vulnerabilities, however, have generated some of the world’s most sensational headlines.1 Earlier this summer, online reports featured photographs of the plant’s damaged transformer, a system critical to assuring a steady supply of electricity to the plant’s all-important reactor coolant and safety systems. Throughout August and September, news organizations detailed how the plant’s external main power lines—built to keep electricity flowing to its reactors—had been cut. Some days, some of the plant’s six reactors were operating. Other days, none were. Repeatedly, the viability of the plant’s emergency diesel fuel electrical generators was “Topic A.”

Each of these stories raised the specter of a military-induced Fukushima: strikes against the plant or the power lines feeding into it that could cut off the electricity needed to run the reactors’ coolant pumps and safety equipment followed by nuclear fuel failures and a massive radiological release over Ukraine and its neighbors. Add to this firsthand accounts of Russian torture, the murder of “disloyal” Ukrainian reactor staff, and an emergency International Atomic Energy Agency visit, and you have everything needed for a Netflix docudrama.

What you would not have, however, and what is still lacking, is a Pentagon assessment of what all this means militarily.

Close friends have offered hints. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for stationing security forces at each of Japan’s nuclear plants, and his administration also suggested the possibility of deploying dedicated missile defense systems (as Belarus has done at its nuclear plant since 2019).2 Seoul crafted military exercises this year with US forces that included explosives detonating at one or more of South Korea’s civilian reactor sites.3 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of turning Zaporizhzhya into a prepositioned, slow-burning, radiation-dispersing “nuclear weapon.”4 Meanwhile, Tobias M. Ellwood, the British House of Common’s Select Committee on Defense chairman, insisted that if Russia intentionally struck Zaporizhzhya and spread harmful radioactivity to Poland or Romania, it would trigger NATO’s Article 5.5 Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine did more than talk. All three countries prepared to distribute iodine pills to their citizens (to reduce the thyroid cancers radiation might induce if Zaporizhzhya leaked radiation).6


  1. Wikipedia, s.v. “Crisis at the Zaporizhizhia Nuclear Power Plant,” last modified September 14, 2022, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_at_the_Zaporizhzhia_Nuclear_Power_Plant.
  2. Eric Johnston, “Japan to Discuss Creating New Police Unit to Guard Nuclear Plants,” Japan Times (website), March 14, 2022, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/03/14/national/nuclear-plant-police -unit/; and “TOR-M2 Air Defense Missile Systems to Protect Belarus Nuclear Power Plant,” Army Recognition (website), December 8, 2018, https://www.armyrecognition.com/december_2018_global_defense_security_army _news_industry/tor-m2_air_defense_missile_systems_to_protect_belarus_nuclear_power_plant.html.
  3. Sang-ho Song, “Upcoming S. Korea-U.S. Training Involves Drills on Repelling Attacks, Staging Counterattacks,” Yonhap News Agency (website), August 1, 2022, https://en.yna.co.kr/view /AEN20220801004000325.
  4. Rebecca Falconer, “Zelensky Says Russian Forces Using Zaporizhzhia Plant as ‘Nuclear Weapon,’ ” Axios (website), September 4, 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/09/05/zelensky-russia-zaporizhzhia-plant -nuclear-weapon.
  5. Article 5 requires NATO members come to the defense of any other member that suffers a military attack. See Tobias M. Ellwood (@Tobias_Ellwood), “Let’s make it clear: ANY deliberate damage causing potential radiation leak to a Ukrainian nuclear reactor would be a breach of NATO’s Article 5. @thetimes,” Twitter, August 19, 2022, 1:55 a.m., https://twitter.com/Tobias_Ellwood/status/1560505699179925509?s=20& t=FYfhPvuxW0pHm8lwXfe99w.
  6. Josh Lederman, “Radiation Tablets Are Handed out near Ukrainian Nuclear Plants as Fears of a Leak Mount,” NBC News (website), August 26, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-ukraine-war -zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant-radiation-fears-iodine-rcna45041; Ben Turner, “Ukraine War: Moldova Ships in One Million Iodine Pills amid Fears of Nuclear Disaster,” Euronews (website), August 16, 2022, https: // www.euronews.com /2022 /08 /15 /moldova-ships-in-radiation-pills-as-fighting-rages-near-zaporizhzhia -nuclear-power-plant-i; and Helen Collis, “Romania to Issue Iodine Tablets as Russian War Continues in Neighboring Ukraine,” Politico (website), April 3, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/romania-to-issue -iodine-tablets-as-russian-aggression-continues-in-bordering-ukraine/.

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October 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America’s new nuclear power industry has a Russian problem

Kitco News Reuters  Friday October 21, 2022,

WASHINGTON/LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) – U.S. firms developing a new generation of small nuclear power plants to help cut carbon emissions have a big problem: only one company sells the fuel they need, and it’s Russian.

That’s why the U.S. government is urgently looking to use some of its stockpile of weapons-grade uranium to help fuel the new advanced reactors and kick-start an industry it sees as crucial for countries to meet global net-zero emissions goals.

Production of HALEU is a critical mission and all efforts to increase its production are being evaluated,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said……..

without a reliable source of the high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU) the reactors need, developers worry they won’t receive orders for their plants. And without orders, potential producers of the fuel are unlikely to get commercial supply chains up and running to replace the Russian uranium……

The fact that Russia has a monopoly on HALEU has long been a concern for Washington but the war in Ukraine has changed the game, as neither the government nor the companies developing the new advanced reactors want to rely on Moscow.

HALEU is enriched to levels of up to 20%, rather than around 5% for the uranium that powers most nuclear plants. But only TENEX, which is part of Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom, sells HALEU commercially at the moment.

While no Western countries have sanctioned Rosatom over Ukraine, mainly because of its importance to the global nuclear industry, U.S. power plant developers such as X-energy and TerraPower don’t want to be dependent on a Russian supply chain.

“We didn’t have a fuel problem until a few months ago,” said Jeff Navin, director of external affairs at TerraPower, whose chairman is billionaire Bill Gates. “After the invasion of Ukraine, we were not comfortable doing business with Russia.”

………….. with large-scale projects still challenging for reasons including huge up-front costs, project delays, cost overruns and competition from cheaper energy sources such as wind, several developers have proposed so-called small modular reactors (SMR).

While the SMRs on offer from companies such as EDF (EDF.PA) and Rolls-Royce (RR.L) use existing technology and the same fuel as traditional reactors, nine out of 10 of the advanced reactors funded by Washington are designed to use HALEU…….

Companies in the United States and Europe have plans to produce HALEU on a commercial scale but even in the most optimistic scenarios, they say it would take at least five years from the point they decide to proceed……
“Nobody wants to order 10 reactors without a fuel source, and nobody wants to invest in a fuel source without 10 reactor orders,” said Daniel Poneman, chief executive of U.S. nuclear fuel supplier Centrus Energy Corp (LEU.A)…..

TerraPower, for example, said it will need 15 tonnes of HALEU for the first fuel load of its advanced reactor.

Other potential HALEU producers are further behind.

French state-owned uranium mining and enrichment company Orano says it could start producing HALEU in five to eight years, but will only apply for a production licence once it has customers with long-term contracts.

In a response to a DOE request for information about how to establish a programme to support HALEU production, Orano said it would be down to the U.S. government to kick-start the industry.

“Orano’s assessment shows that the single most important factor enabling success is the DOE guaranteeing a certain volume of demand,” the company said in a statement on its website.

European uranium enrichment company Urenco, meanwhile, says it is considering sites in the United States and Britain for HALEU production but has yet to apply for licences.

CLOCK IS TICKING

For TerraPower and X-energy, which have projects planned in the U.S. states of Wyoming and Washington respectively, the clock is ticking.

Washington awarded them contracts to build two demonstration rectors by 2028 and shared the costs. But without Russian fuel, that deadline will fall well before any alternative commercial suppliers would be up and running.

While the 20% enrichment levels for HALEU are well below the roughly 90% level needed for weapons, companies need special licences to produce it. Additional security and certification requirements are also required for production sites, packaging and transportation of the fuel.

To speed up the process and break the deadlock, the U.S. government is looking to “downblend” weapons-grade highly enriched uranium sitting in its stockpile, though that will also take time…..


The Inflation Reduction Act U.S. President Joe Biden signed in August contained $700 million to secure HALEU supplies from the government and a consortium partnered with the DOE for use in advanced reactors and research.

In September, the White House asked Congress for another $1.5 billion in a temporary government funding bill to boost domestic supply of low enriched uranium and HALEU, to address potential difficulties in accessing Russian fuel.

Lawmakers took the measure out of the bill over concerns about costs, though it remains a priority for some Biden officials, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Last year, nuclear power stations in the United States imported about 14% of their uranium from Russia, along with 28% of their enrichment services, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Reporting by Sarah McFarlane and Susanna Twidale in London and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Veronica Brown and David Clarke  https://www.kitco.com/news/2022-10-21/America-s-new-nuclear-power-industry-has-a-Russian-problem.html

October 21, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

SCOTT RITTER: Nuclear High Noon in Europe

Enter Volodymyr Zelensky, stage left. Speaking to the Lowy Institute, a nonpartisan international policy think tank in Australia, the Ukrainian president called for the international community to undertake “preventative strikes, preventive action” against Russia to deter the potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia against Ukraine

First and foremost, there has been zero talk about the employment of tactical nuclear weapons from the Kremlin.

The risk isn’t that Russia would start a pre-emptive nuclear war over Ukraine.

The risk is that America would.

 https://consortiumnews.com/2022/10/19/scott-ritter-nuclear-high-noon-in-europe/ By Scott Ritter Consortium News 19 Oct 22, Now is the time for Biden to clarify U.S. nuclear doctrine. But he remains silent.

On Monday, Oct. 17, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization kicked off Operation STEADFAST NOON, its annual exercise of its ability to wage nuclear conflict. Given that NATO’s nuclear umbrella extends exclusively over Europe, the indisputable fact is that STEADFAST NOON is nothing more than NATO training to wage nuclear war against Russia.

Nuclear war against Russia.

Enter Joe Biden, center stage. Speaking at a fund raiser on Oct. 6, the president of the United States said that, “For the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going.”

Biden went on: “We’ve got a guy I know fairly well. He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”

Biden concluded: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

The reader should let that sink in for a moment.

Don’t worry, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungscu reassured the rest of the world, the purpose of STEADFAST NOON is to ensure that NATO’s nuclear war-fighting capability “remains safe and effective.” It is a “routine” exercise, not linked to any current world events. Moreover, no “real” nuclear weapons will be used — just “fake” ones.

Nothing to worry about here.

Enter Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, stage right in the nuclear theater. In a statement to the press on Oct. 11, Stoltenberg declared that, “Russia’s victory in the war against Ukraine will be a defeat of NATO,” before ominously announcing, “This cannot be allowed.”

To that end, Stoltenberg stated, the STEADFAST NOON nuclear drills would continue as scheduled. These drills, Stoltenberg said, were an important deterrence mechanism in the face of Russian “veiled: nuclear threats.”

But they weren’t related to any current world events.

Enter Volodymyr Zelensky, stage left. Speaking to the Lowy Institute, a nonpartisan international policy think tank in Australia, the Ukrainian president called for the international community to undertake “preventative strikes, preventive action” against Russia to deter the potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia against Ukraine.

While many observers interpreted Zelensky’s words to imply a request for NATO to carry out a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia, Zelensky’s aides were quick to try and correct the record, saying he was simply asking for more sanctions.

Enter Joe Biden, center stage. Speaking at a fund raiser on Oct. 6, the president of the United States said that, “For the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going.”

Biden went on: “We’ve got a guy I know fairly well. He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”

Biden concluded: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

While it has been made abundantly clear by the White House that Biden’s comments were his personal view, and not based on any new intelligence regarding Russian nuclear posture, the fact that a sitting U.S. president was speaking about the possibility of a nuclear “Armageddon” should send chills down the spine of every sane individual in the world.

No Kremlin Talk of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

First and foremost, there has been zero talk about the employment of tactical nuclear weapons from the Kremlin.

Zero.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that Russia would use “all the means at its disposal” to protect Russia. He said this most recently on Sept. 21, when in a televised address announcing partial mobilization, he accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail,” citing “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.”

Putin was alluding to a statement that Liz Truss made prior to her election as British prime minister, when, in response to a question on whether she was ready to undertake the responsibility of ordering the use of the U.K.’s nuclear arsenal, she replied, “I think it’s an important duty of the prime minister and I’m ready to do that.”

“I want to remind you,” Putin said,

“that our country also has various means of destruction and in some components more modern than those of the NATO countries. And if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.”

Putin’s statements were consistent with that of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who in an address to the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security delivered on Aug. 16, asserted that Russia would not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. According to Shoigu, Russian nuclear weapons are authorized for use under “exceptional circumstances” as described in published Russian doctrine, none of which apply to the Ukraine situation. Any talk of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine, Shoigu said, was “absurd.”

Apparently not to Biden, who despite his claim to know Putin “fairly well,” got it all wrong when talking about the potential for nuclear conflict.

The risk isn’t that Russia would start a pre-emptive nuclear war over Ukraine.

The risk is that America would.

Biden’s Pledge of ‘Sole Purpose Policy’

Biden came into office in February 2021 promising to enshrine in U.S. nuclear doctrine a “sole purpose policy,” under which “the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal should be to deter — and, if necessary, retaliate against — a nuclear attack.”

It is now the middle of October 2022, and America finds itself in a situation where the president himself fears for a potential nuclear “Armageddon.”

If ever there was a time for Biden to make good on his pledge, now is it.

But he remains silent.

The danger inherent in Biden’s silence is that Putin and other Russian officials who are concerned about Russian national security must rely upon existing published U.S. nuclear doctrine, which continues to enshrine a policy of nuclear pre-emption promulgated during the administration of President George W. Bush. Under this doctrine, nuclear weapons are but another tool in the military’s toolbox, to be used as and when needed, including occasions where the destruction of battlefield targets for the simple purpose of gaining an operational advantage is the objective.

One can argue that this sort of non-nuclear preemption has its own inherent deterrence value, a sort of “madman” kind of vibe that makes an opponent question whether the president could act in such an irrational manner…………….

Former President Donald Trump breathed new life into Nixon’s “madman theory,” telling North Korea that if it continued to threaten the United States “[t]hey will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” Trump went on to have three face-to-face meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un in a failed effort to bring about the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

It was under the Trump administration that the U.S. Navy deployed the W-76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead on its Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles, giving the president a greater range of options when it came to the employment of nuclear weapons………………………………………………

As this article is being written, U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers are flying to Europe from their U.S. bases, where they will practice delivering nuclear weapons against a Russian target. Dozens more aircraft, flying from Volkel Air Force Base in the Netherlands (home to an arsenal of U.S. B-61 nuclear bombs), will practice employing NATO nuclear weapons against…Russia.

Russia has responded to the NATO nuclear drill by going forward with its own annual nuclear exercise, “Grom” (Thunder). ………………….

Now is not the time for drama, or theatrically inflammatory rhetoric. Now is the time for maturity, sanity…restraint. A sage leader would have recognized the possibility of misperception on the part of Russia when NATO, a mere week after being encouraged by the Ukrainian president to initiate a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia, carries out a major exercise where NATO practices dropping nuclear bombs on Russia. A sober leader would have postponed these drills and encouraged similar action from Russia regarding its nuclear exercises.

Instead, America gets an unscripted, off-the-cuff reference to a nuclear Armageddon from a narcissistic egomaniac who uses the horror of nuclear annihilation as a fund-raising mantra.

It would take but one miscalculation, a single misunderstanding to turn STEADFAST NOON into “High Noon,” and “Grom” (Thunder) into “Molnya” (Lightening).

We’ve seen this scenario before. In November 1983 NATO carried out a command post exercise, codenamed ABLE ARCHER ’83, designed to test “nuclear weapons release procedures.” The Soviets were so alarmed by this exercise, which they believed could be used to mask a preemptive nuclear strike by NATO against the Soviet Union, that they loaded nuclear warheads onto bombers, bringing NATO and the Soviet Union to the brink of a nuclear war.

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | 2 Comments

The Economics Of European Nuclear Power Don’t Add Up

the French nuclear industry is a basketcase, financially speaking…………  the enormous public as well as private investment involved “will put a heavy burden on the French budget”

Rainer Baake, the managing director of the Climate Neutrality Foundation in Germany, puts it bluntly. “Why would anyone invest in nuclear?” he wonders.

  https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinero/2022/10/21/the-economics-of-european-nuclear-power-dont-add-up/?sh=63eed2ae5d0cChristine Ro, Oct 21, 2022,

There are clear climate and energy security benefits to nuclear power, of course. But Baake says that it’s telling that countries without liberalized markets are the ones mainly investing in new nuclear plants (China domestically and Russia internationally, including in Slovakia and Belarus).

For the huge startup costs and risks make nuclear power financially illogical, according to Baake, who as a politician helped craft a plan for Germany to transition away from nuclear energy.

In European democracies, governments need to be heavily involved in propping up the nuclear industry. And though extensive subsidies have also helped renewable power to expand, renewables are now historically cheap. (They would be even cheaper without old-fashioned wholesale pricing systems based on gas, as in the UK.)

One place that has seen massive reductions in the prices of solar and wind energy is Germany, which has embarked on a double phaseout of nuclear and coal power. After protracted legal and political negotiations, the nuclear phaseout was supposed to have been completed in 2022. But the energy price crisis, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has led to the decision to keep two plants running until at least April 2023.

One of those plants, Neckarwestheim 2, is in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Andre Baumann is the state secretary for the Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector in Baden-Württemberg. As he points out, “the sun will not send us an energy bill.” Thanks in part to cheap solar energy, by 2035 the state is expected to produce more energy than it uses. This will involve a rapid ramp-up of supply: “Currently we can’t deliver solar panels and converters fast enough.”

In France, currently half of nuclear power plants are offline. And according to Yves Marignac, who heads the Nuclear and Fossil Energy Unit at the négaWatt Association in France, the French nuclear industry is a basketcase, financially speaking.

For one thing, as with the Olympics, costs for decommissioning always overrun. There’s a “lack of provisions for covering long-term costs,” says Marignac, and French nuclear operators consistently underestimate the expenses. Marignac says that according to global experiences, it currently costs about EUR 1 billion (approx. USD 974 million) to decommission each reactor.

Part of the problem is that the French operators are allowed to factor in just hazy intentions of reusing nuclear materials, which are then excluded from their waste disposal responsibilities. The separated plutonium stockpile is now at 80 tons, according to Marignac, with nuclear companies claiming that they’ll firm up plans for this material in later decades. And plutonium from energy production wouldn’t be practical for military use, Marignac says.

Long-term waste disposal is an even murkier matter. In Switzerland, the government and nuclear operators both contribute to funds for decommissioning and waste disposal. The current financing, of CHF 23.1 billion (roughly the same amount in USD), includes two deep geological repositories, although they wouldn’t even begin operating until at least 2050. The funds wouldn’t need to be paid in until 2100 at the earliest. Even within these nearly-impossible-to-plan-for timeframes, that CHF 23.1 billion is almost certainly a vast underestimate.

As for creating a reactor in the first place, many construction projects never actually make it to the operation stage. There is “virtually no chance of making new reactors profitable under current market conditions,” Marignac asserts.

Indeed, the Swiss energy company Axpo would be uninterested in building new ones if the law there were to change to allow this, while the exhausted German nuclear operators don’t even want an extension of current licenses. Meanwhile, France has green-lit at least six new facilities.

As the enormous public as well as private investment involved “will put a heavy burden on the French budget,” Marignac argues that the French utility EDF needs to be fully nationalized.

What of smaller, less clunky sources of nuclear power: the small modular reactors (SMRs) championed by the likes of Bill Gates? Baake is again characteristically direct regarding SMRs. “There’s only one problem: they don’t exist.”

The obvious question then is what should replace nuclear power, especially in nuclear-dependent countries like France and Bulgaria. The usual answer is renewable energy, although it’s not clear how quickly their use could be increased given supply issues (not to mention the human rights abuses associated for instance with solar components sourced from Xinjiang, China).

Amid painfully high energy prices, Europe is bracing for a winter that will be even costlier. Eventually, the costs of energy infrastructure will be passed on to taxpayers in some form, for multiple generations.

For many nuclear observers looking just at the balance sheets, nuclear power should be relegated to the past.

October 21, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE | Leave a comment

A European scramble for nuclear energy is hampered by risks of terrorist and cyber attacks, as well as the wastes problem.

Fabian Lüscher, who heads the nuclearenergy section at the Swiss Energy Foundation (SES), says that Europe’s ageing nuclear fleet is not adapted to deal with contemporary terrorist attacks and cyberattacks. “You even have to think of those very unlikely possibilities when planning risky infrastructure,” Mr Lüscher argues. And then, of course, there’s the problem of nuclear waste.

 Decisions around the future of nuclear energy are urgently needed in
Europe. Russian supplies of natural gas have been disrupted amidst the war
in Ukraine, energy prices have soared to emergency levels. Meanwhile, some
countries are suffering a lingering hangover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In France, half of the clearcountry’s nuclear power plants are currently not
operating. The main reasons are corrosion, planned maintenance, and delayed
maintenance due to pandemic-linked staffing issues, explains Phuc Vinh
Nguyen, who researches European energy policy at the Jacques Delors Energy
Center in France. Mr Nguyen warns that across the EU the energy price
crisis will probably last until at least 2024.

In this situation, some see the use of nuclear reactors as a way to decouple from Russian natural gas.

Russian influence also looms over many aspects of nuclear power generation:
Russia dominates the supply of nuclear fuel, the enrichment of uranium, and
the building of nuclear power plants in other countries. At Leibstadt,
Switzerland’s largest and youngest nuclear power plant, half of the uranium
supply currently comes from Russia. There, as elsewhere, there’s a scramble
to source more uranium from outside the Russian sphere of influence.

Fabian Lüscher, who heads the nuclear energy section at the Swiss Energy
Foundation (SES), says that Europe’s ageing nuclear fleet is not adapted to
deal with contemporary terrorist attacks and cyberattacks. “You even have
to think of those very unlikely possibilities when planning risky
infrastructure,” Mr Lüscher argues. And then, of course, there’s the
problem of nuclear waste.

 BBC 21st Oct 2022

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63245112

October 21, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

USA’s planned small nuclear reactors must have special uranium fuel – from Russia!

 Putin holds the key to Biden’s nuclear dreams as Russian fuel needed for
new US plants. The West has been scrambling to wean itself off Russian
energy amid the war in Ukraine, but a Kremlin-controlled firm has a tight
grip on a crucial part of the nuclear industry.

The US is vying to roll out its new small nuclear power plants amid the global energy crisis as it weans
itself off fossil fuels, but Russia is the only country which has the fuel
needed to power the next-generation reactors. Now, the US is scrambling to
use some of its stockpile of weapons-grade uranium, (uranium is the fuel
widely used in nuclear plants) as an alternative as it hopes to kickstart
the nuclear revolution. 

 Express 20th Oct 2022

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1685282/vladimir-putin-joe-biden-small-nuclear-reactors-us-uranium-russia-fuel-latest-science-news

October 21, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

NATO Chief  Raises Nuclear War Fever

Eurasia Review, By Patial RC 22 Oct 22, The world fails to learn lessons from the past Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and the NATO Exercise ‘Able Archer’ in November 1983  that almost triggered a Nuclear War.Soviet intelligence was suspicious that the US might carry out a nuclear strike under the guise of a drill. “In response to this exercise, the Soviets readied their forces, including their nuclear weapons for launch and that in a way  scared the NATO.The  Able Archer was designed to simulate the start of a nuclear war, and many argue that it almost did.

Putin told reporters following a summit of ex-Soviet nations in Kazakhstan. “We do not set ourselves the task of destroying Ukraine and does not plan more massive strikes against Ukraine for now.” 

Putin has repeatedly signalled he could use nuclear weapons  to defend his country. Russia’s nuclear doctrine envisions “exclusively retaliatory measures intended to prevent the destruction of the Russian Federation as a result of direct nuclear strikes or the use of other weapons that raise the threat for the very existence of the Russian state.”

NATO Chief Creates  Nuclear War Hysteria

NATO Secretary General  Stoltenberg having been the Prime Minister of Norway twice amid rising tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine went ahead with the Western military alliance  annual routine nuclear deterrent exercises “Steadfast Noon” from 17 October 2022. Fourteen NATO countries  without France are taking part in this exercise led by the major headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe, based in Mons. Some 60 combat aircraft, including Tornado and F-16s, are being used, as well as surveillance aircraft and tankers mobilized for this exercise organized more than 1,000 kilometers from the Russian border.

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg instead of canceling  or postponing the NATO Nuclear Exercises ‘Steadfast Noon’ amid rising tensions with Russia said on the eve of a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels “It would send a very wrong signal if we suddenly now canceled a routine, long-time planned exercise because of the war in Ukraine.

……………………………… Why could not the UN take  the initiative to stop the NATO Nuclear Exercises ‘Steadfast Noon’ to avoid misunderstandings, miscalculations  to increase the risk of escalation and mistakenly trigger a Nuclear War Hysteria!NATO Chief  Stoltenberg  through his actions and decisions is responsible for raising the  Nuclear War Fever.This rash decision was not expected from the NATO Chief  Stoltenberg  who has been twice the  Prime Minister of Norway. Appears his decisions come from the White House who looks to weaken Europe and Russia.US President Joe Biden has labeled Putin as a ‘War Criminal’  and has declared  that Putin “Cannot remain in power.”  https://www.eurasiareview.com/22102022-nato-chief-raises-nuclear-war-fever-oped/

October 21, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN Human Rights Council Presses US to Address Nuclear Legacy on the Marshall Islands

TGP The Geopolitics, 21 Oct 22,

On Oct. 7, 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on technical assistance and capacity building to address the human rights implications of the nuclear legacy in the Marshall Islands which the United States is responsible for. The resolution passed without voting on the basis of consensus. The draft resolution was sponsored by a number of Pacific Islands States and Australia.

Currently, the United States denies responsibility for a horrific past of nuclear testing that almost destroyed the Marshall Islands with 67 nuclear bomb detonations over the span of 12 years. The nuclear legacy dates back to the 40s and 50s, with continuing negative impacts until today, 70 years later. The US committed systematic human rights violations and never accounted for the past – until now, until it is now seeking to bring to its side the islands in the Pacific in a geopolitical race against China.

The U.S. government has asserted that the bilateral agreement between the US and the Marshal Islands signed in 1986 settled “all claims, past, present and future,” including nuclear compensation. That stance has been unacceptable to the Marshall Islands who now turn to the UN human rights body and the international community for support…………………..

The United Kingdom, which is also a nuclear power, opposed the Human Rights Council resolution with the explanation that the UK does not consider that there is international consensus on the legal basis of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. By extension, the UK does not accept the connection made in the Resolution to the testing of nuclear weapons and the impact on human rights.

Earlier in September, the Biden administration brought together the Pacific Island Countries’ leaders to a summit in Washington DC. The Summit included the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands stepped away from the re-negotiations of the bilateral treaty that governs relations between the US and the Marshall Islands, called the Compact of Free Association (COFA). The reason was the US refusal to admit, apologize and compensate for the wrongdoing and rights violations arising out of the US nuclear tests. The US government has argued that the Compact signed in 1986 settles all claims – past, present and future. Unhappy with the outcome, following the Summit in Washington in late September, the Marshall Islands turned to the UN Human Rights Council in October in order to raise their issues before the international community. It is far from over for the Marshal Islands.

The US and other nuclear powers are cautious not to open the door to massive rights-based litigation which will rest upon the right to a clean environment infringed upon by the big nuclear powers. The Marshal Islands are receiving a huge pushback. If the US is seeking a way out it first needs to recognize the horrendous scale of the human rights violations on the Marshall Islands and should compensate the Marshallese who continue suffering the consequences of the nuclear tests every day. Renegotiating the bilateral treaty will depend on that.

Previously, the UN Special Rapporteur carried out a visit to the Marshall Islands in 2012, outlining in a report the negative effect of the nuclear legacy on the enjoyment of human rights.

The Human Rights Council resolution now requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on addressing the challenges and barriers to the full realization and enjoyment of the human rights of the people of the Marshall Islands, stemming from the State’s nuclear legacy, to be submitted to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-seventh session, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue, with the participation of the National Nuclear Commission of the Marshall Islands.  https://thegeopolitics.com/un-human-rights-council-presses-us-to-address-nuclear-legacy-on-the-marshall-islands/

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Biden’s diplomatic nuclear faux pas regarding Pakistan

US President brought up Pakistan’s nuclear programme with shockingly undiplomatic language


Express Tribune Ozer Khalid October 21, 2022

At a Congressional Campaign Committee reception in Los Angeles on October 14, US President Joe Biden brought up Pakistan’s nuclear programme with shockingly undiplomatic language. He mentioned Pakistan twice at the public form first vis-à-vis China, then stating that Pakistan is “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” which has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.

Tragically, these were not off-the-cuff remarks and ramblings, as an official White House transcript indicated President Biden meant what he said, leading to strong rebuttals from PM Shehbaz Sharif and FM Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and a demarche by the Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Biden’s remarks lacked explanation, context and coherence. Ely Ratner, US Assistant Secretary of Defense, last month reminded that “US interests associated with defense partnership with Pakistan were primarily focused on counterterrorism and nuclear security”.

Given Washington’s mounting rivalry vis-à-vis Russia and China, it could be that Biden’s comment was a veiled threat at isolating Pakistan if it continued to pursue rapprochement with Moscow and Beijing. If so, it would be déjà vu of the ‘either you are with us or against us’ ultimatum issued by George W Bush post-9/11. Whatever his intentions, it was irresponsible of Biden to leverage regional-bloc politics to make unsubstantiated remarks about Pakistan’s secure nukes…………………..

Pakistan ill-deserves such unwarranted remarks given its impeccable nuclear stewardship with the Strategic Plans Division and diligent adherence to international IAEA best practices.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) report ranked Pakistan as the most “improved country” on Safety and Security of Nuclear Assets, ahead of India. Pakistan demonstrated exemplary restraint and sangfroid in response to India’s “accidental” firing of a BrahMos cruise missile that landed across the border in March, 2022. The BrahMos incident was a clear violation of global nuclear safeguards for which India faced no accountability.


In March 2022, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission confirmed that Pakistan’s updated nuclear safety regulations by the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority strengthened its nuclear and radiation safety. This includes the modernisation of Pakistan’s National Radiation Emergency Coordination Centre (NRECC) which strengthens Pakistan’s ability to respond to a nuclear or radiological emergency.

At the request of the Government of Pakistan, the IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service confirmed the country’s strengthening arrangements for regulatory inspections, authorisations, emergency preparedness and response, occupational radiation protection and environmental radiation monitoring.

The IAEA confirmed safety of Pakistan’s five civilian operating nuclear power reactors and that the country successfully implemented all 13 recommendations adequately addressing 29 out of 31 suggestions.

For President Biden to single out a responsible nuclear steward like Pakistan, with resilient nuclear safeguards, commands and controls in place with no reported incidents, while remaining conspicuously silent on serious incidents from India raises consternation……………………………………………………………… more https://tribune.com.pk/story/2382629/bidens-diplomatic-nuclear-faux-pas

October 21, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Golden Rule sails for peace to Burlington: ‘If we do nothing, we go nowhere’

Michaele Niehaus, The Hawk Eye, 21 Oct 22,

A group of about 20 southeast Iowa residents and city officials gathered Thursday near the Port of Burlington to welcome the Golden Rule and its crew, as well as recognize the importance of activism and kindness.

The refurbished, 64-year-old, 34-foot wooden sailboat has been navigating the shallowing waters of the Upper Mississippi River for the past month to spread a message of peaceful activism. It is carrying on its mission of worldwide nuclear disarmament that began in 1958, when a group of Quakers set sail from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands in protest of the nuclear weapons testing that was taking place there.

The sailboat never made it there, and the crew were arrested while en route.

Their mission and arrests spurred an attempt to sail a 50-foot boat there by Earle Reynolds, a doctor who was investigating the effects of ionizing material on the children of Hiroshima.

“So (Reynolds and his family) sailed down there and this guy got arrested. So between the two trials, his trial and the Golden Rule trial, there was enough national press to reach the president’s attention, and in the year that his family sailed, the president stopped testing under the provision that the USSR would stop testing. And so eventually things carried on and it ended up with John F. Kennedy signing the test ban treaty,” first mate Stephen Buck told The Hawk Eye from inside the cabin while holding a copy of Reynolds’ book, “The Forbidden Voyage.”

While the trials received much attention, the Golden Rule itself did not. It wasn’t until it sunk in Northern California’s Humbolt Bay in 2010 that its mission was resumed by Veterans for Peace, who were instrumental in the five-year effort to refurbish the ketch.

“We’re carrying on the original mission, which was an urgent need to stop bomb testing in the Pacific, above ground, in the air. And they were sending significant pollution of radioactive material to people who populated the Pacific, poisoning the land, poisoning the food, and those people are still here,” Buck said………………………………………………………….

Captain Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa noted the progress made on lessening the number of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing, but said the problem has not gone away.

“The last few years, all the bigger countries are bragging about, oh, we’ve got a bigger, more destructive (weapons) and we’re going to use it, so it’s time to pay attention again,” he said, noting that progress can be made through activism, such as with the Golden Rule, as well as on an individual level. “If we all continuously try to be the kind of people who treat every other person kindly, that grows into communities and countries likewise, and that is how you eliminate the root causes of war, so both are important.”…………………………………………………………..

The Golden Rule’s progress can be followed by visiting share.garmin.com/goldenrule, and those wishing to join its crew for a day or longer can apply by visiting vfpgoldenrule.org/crew-application/.  https://www.thehawkeye.com/story/news/local/2022/10/21/golden-rule-sailboat-brings-nuclear-disarmament-message-to-burlington/69569236007/

October 21, 2022 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

International mayors’ group calls for nuclear abolition at Hiroshima conference

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221021/p2a/00m/0na/014000c October 22, 2022 (Mainichi Japan),

HIROSHIMA — The 10th general conference of the international nongovernmental organization Mayors for Peace closed here on Oct. 20 after adopting “Hiroshima Appeal” that calls for nuclear abolition.

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the appeal stated that the risks of nuclear warfare “are at their highest after a threat of the use of nuclear weapons is made,” and pointed out that “the dangerous argument for nuclear deterrence is gaining momentum.”

The organization, founded in 1982, announced in the latest general conference that there are “no prospects for fostering international public opinion leading to a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.” It also stated that it will “demand immediate action toward nuclear disarmament” from the United Nations and governments around the world, especially nuclear powers and their allies.

The six-item immediate action plan includes; a complete execution of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and policies agreed in the NPT review conferences; a departure from the nuclear deterrence theory and ratification of the nuclear weapons ban treaty; and the promotion of efforts to pass down the reality of the effects of radiation from atomic bombings as an experience for the human race.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who heads the international organization, told a news conference after the general meeting, “We were able to reinforce solidarity among member cities that seek the realization of nuclear weapons abolition.”

The two-day, in-person general meeting was attended by 176 delegates from 102 cities in nine countries. The next general conference is scheduled for 2025 in the city of Nagasaki.

(Japanese original by Kiyomasa Nakamura and Akari Terouchi, Hiroshima 

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

M5.0 quake shakes Japan’s Fukushima, no damage reported

 https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/10/a43d370b386a-m51-quake-shakes-japans-fukushima-no-tsunami-warning-issued.html KYODO NEWS – 21 Oct 22,

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 struck northeastern Japan, including Fukushima Prefecture, on Friday afternoon, the weather agency said, though no tsunami warning was issued and no damage was reported.

The quake occurred at around 3:19 p.m. off Fukushima and registered a lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Naraha, a town in the prefecture’s coastal area, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

No new abnormalities were found following the quake at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi and nearby Daini nuclear power plants, which are set to be decommissioned in the aftermath of the 2011 killer quake and tsunami, according to the nuclear regulator. Naraha hosts the Daini power station.

An area fire department said it had received no reports of injuries or damage.

The quake’s focus was in the Pacific at a depth of about 29 kilometers.

Elsewhere in the prefecture, the quake registered 3 in the coastal city of Iwaki and 2 in the inland Aizu region. The quake was also felt in parts of the surrounding prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi and Miyagi, as well as in Chiba Prefecture.

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Russia says U.S. blocked its participation in nuclear conference

MOSCOW, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on Friday that the United States had effectively blocked Russia’s participation in a nuclear energy conference in Washington by failing to issue entry visas.

Relations between the United States and Russia have sunk to their lowest level since the depths of the Cold War after Moscow sent its armed forces troops into Ukraine in February.

Rosatom and Russia’s industrial safety watchdog, Rostekhnadzor, planned to attend the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) ministerial conference in Washington on Oct. 26-28 but have yet to receive visas, Rosatom said in a statement………………………………. more https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/russia-says-us-blocked-its-participation-nuclear-conference-2022-10-21/

October 21, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Kishida’s nuclear policy rekindles battle in small Japanese town

Opponents of planned power plant field mayoral candidate for first time in 11 years

Nikkei Asia, SAYUMI TAKE, Nikkei staff writer, October 22, 2022

TOKYO — The Japanese government’s nuclear policy reversal has stirred up an otherwise tranquil fishing town, home to 2,400 people and a long-frozen plan to build a nuclear power plant on its coastline.

Come Sunday, citizens of Kaminoseki in western Japan’s Yamaguchi prefecture will elect a new mayor. By extension, they will express their attitude toward the envisioned plant. For the first time in 11 years, an anti-nuclear local organization has fielded a candidate, making the election a faceoff with a pro-nuclear candidate.

As the global energy crisis forces a number of countries to take a fresh look at nuclear power, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in August that Japan would develop and build next-generation plants, after it largely shunned the atomic energy industry in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. This has rekindled the debate in the town, with supporters saying a nuclear plant would save the rapidly graying community but opponents arguing it would put human and marine life at risk.

“I became alarmed that Prime Minister Kishida mentioned nuclear power plants and new construction,” said 75-year-old candidate Tsutomu Kimura, a former schoolteacher who filed to run for office after 35 years of opposing the plant. “If I didn’t run, the government would think there is no one in town who is against the plans, and might make a move.”…………………………………………………………………….

 nuclear opponent Kimura and his supporters argue that more could be done to make alternatives work, such as getting creative to attract newcomers to settle down or encourage tourists to explore the town’s rich natural environment.

“Nuclear power plants have the potential to cause a disaster that would affect thousands, and no one can take responsibility for that,” Kimura argued. “I wonder whether our children, our future generations, would want to return to a town with such a facility.”…………………..

Nationwide, opinion appears to be divided over Kishida’s new nuclear policy. In a poll conducted by public broadcaster NHK in September, 48% were in favor and 32% opposed. Another poll by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper showed that 36% were in favor, while 44% were against. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Kishida-s-nuclear-policy-rekindles-battle-in-small-Japanese-town

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

U.S. Nuclear Reactors Among The Oldest In The World

Forbes, Katharina Buchholz 21 Oct 22,

The latest edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report shows that U.S. nuclear power plants are among the oldest in the world. The country’s 92 reactors currently in operation have a mean age of 41.6 years. The only nuclear fleets in the world that are older are those of Switzerland (46.3 years) and Belgium (42.3 years). However, these programs are a lot smaller than the United States’, which is currently the largest in the world. Also older are the singular reactors in use in Armenia and the Netherlands.

The U.S. was among the first commercial adopters of nuclear energy in the 1950s, explaining the number of aging reactors today. A building boom between the 1960s and 1970s created today’s nuclear power plants in the United States. Of the five reactors completed in the 1990s and the one finished in 2016, all were holdovers of delayed construction projects from the 1970s experiencing roadblocks due to regulatory problems and mounting opposition to nuclear energy.

The opposition the nuclear power industry has faced as well as the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 ultimately caused the fact that today, the most recent construction start date of a completed U.S. nuclear reactor is 1978. ………………………………………………

U.S. construction woes

The U.S. meanwhile remains one of only 15 countries which the World Nuclear Industry Status Report lists as actively pursuing nuclear energy. Two new reactors were started at Vogtle power plant in Georgia in 2013 but have not yet been completed. The approval process was lengthy in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster and delays continued after the groundbreaking, culminating in the bankruptcy of the reactor construction company. The U.S. government stepped in with a loan so that the project would be finished. One of the units is expected to become operational shortly around 17 years after its initial proposal.

The construction of two reactors in Utah is scheduled to begin next year and finish in 2030, after the proposal had already been introduced in 2007. Additionally, company NuScale is expected to build six small reactors in Idaho by 2030 using a new modular technology. Looking at past delays, however, the accuracy of these timelines as well as the ability of nuclear power to remedy current energy woes quickly or significantly—in the U.S. and elsewhere—is likely limited. While opposition to nuclear energy has softened given the current crisis, large parts of the population continue to reject it and local opposition to new projects will doubtlessly be as fierce as ever.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinero/2022/10/21/the-generational-divide-over-nuclear-power/?sh=5d8d990a6b13

October 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment