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As Trump trashed nuclear weapons treaty, Putin promises ‘symmetrical response’ to US missile test

Putin promises ‘symmetrical response’ to US missile test after end of nuclear treaty Telegraph UK   23 AUGUST 2019

Vladimir Putin has promised a “symmetrical response” to the US test of a missile banned under a nuclear weapons treaty rubbished this month by the Trump administration amid fears of a new arms race.A new land-based version of the navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile fired from an island in California struck a target more than 310 miles away on Sunday, according to the Pentagon. The recently defunct 1987 US-Russian intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty banned land-based missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,410 miles.

On Friday, Mr Putin told his security council that the test just 16 days after the treaty’s demise proved that the United States had long been developing weapons in violation of the agreement, while accusing Russia of the same as part of a “propaganda campaign”……

He ordered the defence and foreign ministries to “analyse the level of the threat to our country created by the aforementioned actions of the United States and take exhaustive steps to prepare a symmetrical response”.  While he did not say exactly what that would be be, it was reported in February that Russia could begin producing a land-based version of its Kalibr cruise missile with a range of 1,600 miles by the end of the year.

“For a symmetrical response, it would be enough to take Kalibr and put it on land and conduct a launch,” defence analyst Alexander Golts told The Telegraph. “That wouldn’t take a huge effort.”

Donald Trump’s announcement in February that he would withdraw from the INF treaty, which ended the deployment of US ballistic missiles to Europe and of Soviet nukes targeting them, raised fears of a new arms race. …… https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/23/putin-promises-symmetric-response-us-missile-test-end-nuclear/
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August 24, 2019 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Radioactive patients – a concern following Russian nuclear accident

Russian nuclear accident: Medics fear ‘radioactive patients’,  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49432681  23 Aug 19, Russian medics who treated radiation victims after a military explosion in the Arctic had no protection and now fear they were irradiated themselves.

Two of the medics in Arkhangelsk spoke to BBC Russian about the victims’ evacuation, on condition of anonymity.

Five nuclear engineers died on 8 August when an “isotope-fuel” engine blew up at the Nyonoksa test range, officials said. Two military personnel also died.

President Vladimir Putin said the test involved a new weapon system.

Six people were injured in the accident, but officials gave few details about it.

On 14 August Russia’s weather service Rosgidromet revealed that radiation levels had spiked 16 times above normal, in Severodvinsk, a city 47km (29 miles) east of Nyonoksa.

According to the official data, the radiation that reached Severodvinsk was not heavy enough to cause radiation sickness.

Experts in Russia and the West say the test was most likely linked to the new 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, called “Skyfall” by Nato. Last year Mr Putin said the technology would give the missile “unlimited” range.


The Arkhangelsk medics, who spoke to the BBC’s Pavel Aksenov, said at least 90 people came into contact with the casualties, but the military did not warn them of any nuclear contamination risk.

Contamination fears

The medics were at the civilian Arkhangelsk regional hospital, which treated three of the injured, while three other casualties were taken to an Arkhangelsk hospital called Semashko, which is equipped for radiation emergencies.

The medics said they were speaking out now because they feared for their own health and did not want any similar “[safety] violations” to recur.

“We don’t want them to bring us next time not three, but ten people, God forbid, and hide the information from us again,” said one.

The degree of secrecy surrounding the explosion has drawn comparisons with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, when Soviet officials were slow to admit the truth.

The Arkhangelsk medics said it was clear that the three brought to their regional hospital were very sick. Doctors examined them in the emergency room, then sent them to an operating theatre.

But the emergency room continued to admit other patients for about an hour, the medics said, until the doctors realised that the three “had received a very high radiation dose”. The hospital handles pregnancy complications and other difficult medical conditions.

“The radiation picture was developing by the hour. Blood tests were being done, and every hour you could see that this or that cell count was plunging. That signified a very high radiation dose,” they said.

The hospital staff kept treating the victims despite knowing about the radiation dose. The staff had to improvise some self-protection – for example, they took face masks from the helicopter crews’ emergency kit.

The next day the three victims were transferred to a hospital in Moscow which has radiation specialists. Their condition now is unknown.

Nuclear decontamination

A military team later carried out decontamination work in the Arkhangelsk hospital.

The medics said the casualties’ clothing was removed, along with stretchers and a “highly radioactive bath”.

“Our cleaners should have been advised, they’re just simple country folk, they were just picking up sacks and bundles and carrying them out,” said one.

The other medic said hospital staff were now mentally stressed, knowing that radiation safety information had been withheld from them during the emergency.

Two weeks after the explosion the Russian health ministry said none of the medics at the Arkhangelsk hospitals had received a hazardous radiation dose. Its conclusion was based on medical examination of 91 staff.

Incomplete data

On Monday an international nuclear agency reported that the two Russian radiation monitoring stations nearest to Nyonoksa had gone offline soon after the explosion. The revelation fuelled suspicions that the radiation could have been heavier than officially reported.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said the technical failure at those sites was then followed by a failure at two more. It tweeted an animation showing the potential radiation plume from the explosion.

Russia said the weapons test was none of the CTBTO’s business, and added that handing over radiation data was voluntary. Two of the monitoring stations have since started working again.

 

August 24, 2019 Posted by | health, Russia | Leave a comment

Massive wildfires are burning across the world- July was hottest month ever

August 24, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, Brazil, climate change | 1 Comment

“ZATO” Russia’s many closed cities, – some site of nuclear accidents

August 24, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran working productively with France, to save nuclear deal

August 24, 2019 Posted by | France, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Trumped Up: Wiki cables show Australia thinks Iran is not the aggressor,

Trumped Up: Wiki cables show Australia thinks Iran is not the aggressor, Michael West, by Prof. Clinton Fernandes — 23 August 2019  Wikileaks cables reveal Iran presents no threat to Australia and little threat to the US. Instead, clear intelligence from the US, Australia and Iran confirms Iran, although portrayed as aggressive, has pursued a defensive military strategy. Clinton Fernandez reports.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Iran, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

UK Office of Nuclear Regulation seems to have increased the number of cracks permitted in Hunterston nuclear reactor.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Massachusetts Attorney General objects to transfer of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station license to Holtec

August 24, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

White House new system guidelines for nuclear power in space includes weapons grade materials

White House Overhauls Launch Approval Process for Nuclear Spacecraft, AIP, 23 Aug 19, The White House has announced a new launch authorization process for spacecraft that use nuclear-powered systems, instituting a tiered framework that delegates decision-making for less risky missions and provides explicit guidance on acceptable risk levels……

The memo categorizes missions into three tiers based on the amount and type of nuclear material they contain as well as the estimated probability that a launch accident would result in a certain level of exposure to any member of the public. Unlike the prior policy, it also lays out criteria specific to fission reactor systems and non-federal missions.

The least risky missions fall in Tier 1, where the director of the sponsoring agency can approve the launch. In Tier 2, an interagency review process is triggered, though the sponsoring agency director maintains authority over the launch decision. The memo directs NASA to establish a standing Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Board to perform this function, which formerly was handled by an ad hoc committee empaneled on a mission-by-mission basis.

Spacecraft that use fission reactors automatically fall in at least Tier 2, and the memo requires NASA to identify additional safety guidelines for “safe non-terrestrial operation of nuclear fission reactors, including orbital and planetary surface activities.”

Tier 3 missions require presidential authorization, which for non-defense missions is delegated to the OSTP director, who may opt to forward the decision to the president. Due to nuclear nonproliferation considerations, missions that use highly enriched uranium automatically fall in Tier 3.

The memo also establishes a set of safety guidelines that apply to spacecraft across all tiers. It specifies that the probability a launch accident would result in any individual receiving a total effective dose between 0.025 rem and five rem should be no greater than 1 in 100. The probability for exposures between five rem and 25 rem should not exceed 1 in 10,000, and above 25 rem the probability should not exceed 1 in 100,000. For comparison, the average effective doseindividuals receive from natural background radiation in the U.S. is about 0.3 rem per year, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s dose limit for radiation workers is five rem per year…….

According to a 2015 study, the U.S. has launched 47 nuclear power systems and hundreds of heater units on 31 missions since 1961. The most recent scientific missions to employ an RPS were New Horizons, a Pluto fly-by mission launched in 2006, and the Mars Curiosity Rover, launched in 2011. The follow-on Mars 2020 Rover and the recently selected Dragonfly rotorcraft mission to Saturn’s moon Titan are currently the only two approved NASA spacecraft in development that will use an RPS.

The relatively infrequent use of nuclear systems on spacecraft is in part attributed to the complexity and cost of the safety review process, which generally has limited them to flagship-class missions. Low availability of plutonium for civilian uses has also constrained the mission cadence…….

NASA has recently emphasized the potential value of fission reactors for human deep space exploration missions. At the National Space Council meeting this week, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said nuclear thermal propulsion technologies could significantly reduce transit time to Mars. He also pointed to other potential applications, such as using fission to power a space-based laser that could deflect asteroids and deorbit space debris.

NASA is also exploring how nuclear reactors could meet the power demands of planetary bases. One such concept, called Kilopower, could provide up to 10 kilowatts per reactor using highly enriched uranium. Bridenstine visited members of the Kilopower team this week at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

The concept is not without critics. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), a former Fermilab physicist who advocates using alternatives to highly enriched uranium, pressedBridenstine on the subject at a hearing this year.

A future where every space-faring nation has a big inventory of weapons-grade material to service the reactors that they are using all over the Moon and all over Mars is not a very safe space environment,” Foster said. “There will be some small performance compromises in going with low enriched non-weapons grade material, but I really urge you to look hard at keeping alive the prospect of having an international collaboration to develop workable non weapons grade-based materials that the whole world will use.” …….https://www.aip.org/fyi/2019/white-house-overhauls-launch-approval-process-nuclear-spacecraft

August 24, 2019 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Dismay at safety risks of restarting Hunterston Nuclear Reactor 4

Largs and Millport Weekly News 19th Aug 2019 A SERIES of safety failure at Hunterston could have had ‘serious
consequences’ if the reactors had been in full operation, it was claimed
this week. The Nuclear Free Local Authorities group, which is made up of
councillors around the UK concerned about nuclear power, described the
incidents as ‘notable’. The incident which prevented cooling gas from being
circulated around a reactor was highlighted by the group as ‘a real
concern’. However the nuclear regulators described the incident as ‘minor’
as both incidents happened when both reactors were offline. n relation to
the incident, a spokesperson for Nuclear Free Local Authorities said:
“Whilst there were no radiological consequence from them, this is largely
due to the reactors not being in operation. “A loss of cooling is of real
concern as the consequences of such an eventuality when the reactors are in
full operation could have been extremely serious.”

https://www.largsandmillportnews.com/news/17833610.anger-series-safety-failures-hunterston/

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is disappointed with the decision
of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to permit resumption of
electricity generation at Reactor 4 in the EDF-owned Hunterston site in
North Ayrshire. NFLA believes the age, the amount of keyway root cracks in
both Reactors 3 and 4, and the precautionary principle should have been
considered in the reactors not being reopened for generation.

NFLA 21st Aug 2019

http://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/nfla-disappointed-onr-decision-resume-operations-reactor-4-hunterston-b/

August 23, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Toxic leak from North Korea’s nuclear programme

August 23, 2019 Posted by | incidents, North Korea | Leave a comment

Bitcoin Hackers Charged As Nuclear Power Plant Security Compromised

August 23, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear regulators concerned about possibility of an electromagnetic pulse attack

August 23, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Warning on radiation risks at some parts of Fukushima, for Olympic Games 2020

[Herald Interview] Sports bodies need to make own assessments of Fukushima: Greenpeace nuclear specialist,    http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190821000749 By Kim Bo-gyung  (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)    Nuclear specialist warns of unknown long-term health, environmental risks from Japan’s radioactive water disposal plan  Aug 21, 2019  With less than a year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, concerns are growing over the safety of the baseball and softball venues in disaster-hit Fukushima.

Seeking to break away from Japan’s association with high levels of radioactivity, the Abe government has branded the 2020 Olympics the “Recovery Games.”

But health and environmental risks from high levels of radiation persist in parts of Fukushima after the 2011 nuclear meltdown.

According to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, those visiting Fukushima for the Summer Games next year should take a proactive approach to educating themselves on which areas of Fukushima are affected by radiation and on the impact of exposure to radiation.

  • “In terms of safety, there are certain areas of Fukushima where we would certainly not advise athletes or spectators to spend any time. Those are areas particularly close to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, including where the torch processions will be taking place,” Burnie said in an interview with The Korea Herald at Greenpeace Korea’s office in central Seoul last week.

    “They are areas that are not safe for people to live. If you visit, you need to follow a radiation protocol. It is a bizarre situation that you are having Olympic events where people are concerned about radiation,” he added.

    While noting that not all parts of Fukushima should be off limits, Burnie said athletes and sports bodies need to seek independent assessments on Fukushima, rather than relying on information provided by the Japanese government.
    “It’s dangerous to just dismiss the whole of Fukushima as a radioactive disaster zone. It’s much more complex than that. The first thing is … don’t trust the Japanese government, educate yourself. If you’re an organizing body, get independent verification and independent information about what the relative radiation levels are, what the risks are,” Burnie said.

    As the senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, Burnie has followed the Japanese government’s handling of the tsunami and earthquake in March 2011 that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.

    In a report published in January, Burnie alleged that Tokyo plans to dispose of some 1 million metric tons of contaminated water by discharging it into the Pacific Ocean after the Summer Olympics.

    If Japan follows through with the move, radioactive water is expected to be present in Korea’s East Sea a year later.

    “For the past five years we’ve been accessing the process, the discussions, the documents submitted by Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) … we were reviewing some of Tepco’s data (last year) and we looked at it and went ‘there is something wrong here with Tepco’s processing,’” Burnie said.

    “It became very clear there has been bad decisions made, not really surprising, by Tepco, by the (Japanese) government over the last five or six years and how to manage the water crisis.”

    Last year Tepco acknowledged its Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, had failed to purify contaminated water stored in tanks at the Dai-ichi power plant.

    A committee under Japan’s Ministry of Economy in 2016 put together five scenarios for the Japanese government to deal with the massive volume of pollutants stored at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

    The amount of water stored at the plant is to reach its full capacity of 1.3 million tons by the end of 2020, with about 170 tons accumulating daily.

    According to Burnie, Tokyo has chosen to discharge the radioactive water instead of acting on any of the other four suggestions because “it is the most cheap and fast.”

    Besides increased levels of radioactive cesium found in Fukushima and in the East Sea, Burnie warned of “cesium-rich micro particles” extremely small in size and inhaled through breathing.

    Cesium is one of the largest sources of radioactivity from the 2011 disaster and has a half-life of 30 years.

    “There is evidence from samples … some scientific literature has published the results and they found concentrations of these particles in areas 20-30 kilometers from the plant. … The problem is these particles can be inhaled. Then some of them lodge inside your lung at which point you are getting an internal dose, a very focused, very localized, relatively high-exposure dose to individual cells,” Burnie said.

    “That’s a real problem because there is very little known about how cesium in that form will affect your long-term health. … Again, the people most at risk are those returning to live in areas of Fukushima affected by these particles. But the Japanese government has not taken into account in any of its assessments what those risks are,” he added.

    Stressing that the risks of exposure to radiation should not be exaggerated, Burnie noted there is no safe level of radiation exposure and the long-term effects are unknown.

    “The effects you will only see over decades. It won’t be instant, it’s not an acute radiation exposure, it’s low-level radiation,” Burnie said.

    “The country that will be next impacted will be Korea, because it’s the geographically closest. … There is no safe threshold for radiation exposure. … Why should you be exposed when there is a clear alternative, which is you store?”

August 22, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Kremlin cover up on weapon tested, and radioactive contamination?

Russian radiation detectors ‘go dark’ after mystery explosion
The mysterious shutdown of four nuclear monitoring stations after a fatal blast at a military site has fuelled fears of radioactive contamination. news.com.au 22 Aug 19

Russian officials have dismissed concerns, declaring on Tuesday the country had no obligation to share its data with the CNTBTO — raising fears of a Kremlin cover up on the type of weapon involved and the extent of contamination.

Elevated radiation levels — of up to 16 times the average — were detected 40 km away in the city of Severodvinsk in the aftermath of the event, according to The New York Times.

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday there was no risk to the public, although officials have yet to disclose how much radiation was released………

US National Nuclear Security Administration former deputy William Tobey said it was “at least an odd coincidence” Russian sensors stopped transmitting data about the same time as the explosion occurred.

“Power outages, other failures, can knock down a particular place, but if more than one site is out, it would seem that that is a less likely explanation,” Mr Tobey said.

Russian authorities have offered changing and contradictory information about the explosion fuelling speculation about what really happened and what type of weapon was involved.

While the Russian Defense Ministry said no radiation had been released in a rocket engine explosion, officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported a brief rise in radiation levels.

The contradiction drew comparisons to Soviet attempts to cover up the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

In his first comments on the explosion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that it hasn’t posed any radiation threat. Putin added that experts are monitoring the situation to prevent any “unexpected developments.”

He didn’t say what weapon was being tested when the explosion occurred, but described the

test as a “state mission of critical importance.”…….

The Russian military said the explosion killed two people and injured six, while the state nuclear corporation Rosatom acknowledged later that it also killed five of its engineers and injured three others.

Rosatom said the explosion occurred on an offshore platform during tests of a “nuclear isotope power source.”……

Rosatom’s mention of a “nuclear isotope power source,” led some observers to conclude that the weapon undergoing tests was the “Burevestnik” or “Storm Petrel,” a prospective nuclear-powered cruise missile first mentioned by Putin in 2018 and was codenamed “Skyfall” by NATO.

US President Donald Trump backed that theory in a tweet last week, saying America is “learning much” from the Skyfall explosion.

The US worked to develop a nuclear-powered missile in the 1960s under Project Pluto, but the idea was discarded as impractical and risky. Mr Tobey said Russia’s apparent revival of the concept raises significant risks.

“Effectively, Russia is thinking about flying around nuclear reactors,” he told AP.

“The very idea of this system is, I think, a risky system. It probably poses more risk to the Russian people than to the American people. If it crashes, it could spread radiation.”

Nuclear expert Michael Krepon, who co-founded the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan public policy research body, said it was not surprising that Russia might take steps to conceal its activities because “they just can’t accept transparency when it comes to screw ups”.

“This weapon poses a danger first and foremost to the people who are working on it,” Mr Krepon said.

“It’s dumb, it’s stupid, it’s expensive, and there are so many other ways that you can deliver nuclear weapons long distance. The more Putin advertises this system, the more he’s likely to be embarrassed by it.” https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/military/russian-radiation-detectors-go-dark-after-mystery-explosion/news-story/4ab6ce7b4b3926379381a9a7d20baab3

August 22, 2019 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment