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A People’s Guide to the War Industry -5: Portfolio of Conflicts

“They ignored the real threat: The U.S. Armed Forces’ rampant carbon-based military activity contributes to anthropogenic climate change, which melts Arctic ice, which opens up northern sea lanes, into which the Pentagon projects its polluting arsenal, which puts more carbon in the atmosphere.”

A People’s Guide to the War Industry -5: Portfolio of Conflicts — Rise Up Times A PEOPLE’S GUIDE TO THE WAR INDUSTRY -5: PORTFOLIO OF CONFLICTS June 9, 2021 ·
When war is profit, death ensures a healthy bottom line, writes Christian Sorensen in this  final installment of his five-part series on the military-industrial-congressional complex.
Read Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 (also available on Rise Up Times)   

By Christian Sorensen  Special to Consortium News  June 2, 2021 Without looking at military adventurism through the lens of the corporation, analysts are bound to produce error-filled studies. For example, one analyst contended in an interview on The Real News Network, “Military force is almost never going to achieve your political aims. The Americans learned this in Vietnam. They’re learning it in Afghanistan. They’re learning it in Syria… So [President Barack] Obama supporting the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen is a sign really of incoherence on the part of the United States.”

Far from incoherence, the behavior actually is quite rational. A variety of conflicts, disparate and some seemingly futile, is precisely the aim. Conflict itself — producing untold mountains of profit for war corporations and Wall Street — is the goal.

Recall that capital is money used to expand business in order to make more profit. Capital isn’t just building new factories to produce more goods from which to profit.

Capital is also putting money toward cultivating and promoting politicians who advocate for wars and broad military deployments; media and think tanks to propagandize and generate militant narratives; attaining through neoliberal economic policies a U.S. military establishment so rife with corporations that it becomes one bloated, self-sustaining, profitable entity; arranging industry pressure groups and think tanks to encourage and award high-ranking military officers who support and extend conflicts overseas; and marketing, pushing, and operating goods and services that harm populations and destabilize countries around the world, generating more profitable conflict.

The war industry pursues a portfolio of conflicts as any organized, dominant industry views the global marketplace, parses demographics, shapes consumer tastes, and pursues profit maximization at all costs. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, Iraq, Iran, Korea, Libya, Mexico, Palestine, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, the Sahel, Ukraine, Yemen — each conflict has advantages and challenges, unique terrain and unique obstacles.

Industry’s products monitor, control and destroy populations. The particular goods and services selected are not the point here. The real rub is that from the eyes of the corporate suite, conflict must endure. Peace is not profitable. A strong portfolio of conflicts, which vary in intensity and scope, is what industry has achieved. Global capitalism demands infinite growth. War corporations’ portfolio approach demands endless, dispersed armed conflicts of varying intensity.

The U.S. war industry sells to capitalist regimes around the world through direct commercial sales and foreign military sales (FMS). FMS tend to deal with big-ticket items or goods and services of a sensitive nature. Through FMS, the U.S. government procures and transfers industry goods and services to allied governments and international organizations.

The U.S. war industry sells to capitalist regimes around the world through direct commercial sales and foreign military sales (FMS). FMS tend to deal with big-ticket items or goods and services of a sensitive nature. Through FMS, the U.S. government procures and transfers industry goods and services to allied governments and international organizations.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) is the intermediary between the U.S. war industry and the FMS customer overseas. On any given day, DSCA is managing “14,000 open foreign military sales cases with 185 countries,” Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper explained at the Brookings Institution in 2019.

Violent and oppressive regimes are frequent customers, including London, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. The Leahy Law, which is intended to prevent U.S. military assistance from reaching militaries that have committed serious human rights violations, is almost never enforced when it comes to FMS. The Arms Export Control Act requires recipients of U.S. war industry goods and services to use them only in self-defense.

So, customers of the U.S. war industry typically affirm that they’re using the goods and services in self-defense, and the U.S. government doesn’t press them on the matter. After all, there is a lot of cash at stake. In fiscal year 2020 alone, the war industry sold $50.8 billion through FMS and $124.3 billion through direct commercial sales.

The Pentagon often cites industry’s claim that FMS reduces the cost of military systems to the U.S. Armed Forces. The Pentagon supports FMS because foreign militaries dependent on U.S. equipment, knowhow, training, parts, and software are more likely to listen to the U.S. government on military matters, the direction to take in regional conflicts, and international policy.

Without tensions, military provocations, and ongoing hot or cold wars (e.g. Japan v. China, South v. North Korea, Taiwan v. China, absolutist Arab regimes and Apartheid Israel v. Iran, Apartheid Israel v. Arab populations, the global war on drugs) to justify endless transactions, the U.S. war industry would lose billions in annual sales to allied regimes and sales to the U.S. military that is “responding” to such conflict.

Major war corporations place people in charge of selling to each Arab country in the Persian Gulf (e.g. Joe Rank, a career soldier who helped guide Middle East policy for the U.S. Secretary of War, now oversees Lockheed Martin’s business with Saudi Arabia). U.S. flag officers who work on FMS often doff the uniform and then join war corporations to help sell goods and services overseas.

For Profit, Against Democracy

From May 2015 through March 2016, U.S. war corporations sold over $30 billion of goods and services to anti-democratic Arab Gulf allies. Given the U.S. war industry’s long sales history to regimes like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it stands firmly on the side of profit, and firmly against democracy. Or, as Raytheon’s website puts it,

“With more than 50 years in the Middle East, Raytheon’s steadfast commitment and uninterrupted presence in the region is a testament to the tremendous value we place on being there for our customers.”

The 1945 Quincy Pact between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz al-Saud started it all: Washington would entrench bases in and around the Persian Gulf and protect the House of Saud, while the latter would keep the oil flowing and give preferential treatment to U.S. corporate interests.

The Saudi regime would later agree to use the dollar in international oil trading. Saudi Arabia purchases a lot of goods and services from U.S. industry, including the war industry. The Washington regime assented when in 2015 the Saudi and Emirati regimes turned U.S. weaponry on Yemen.

The U.S. war industry, in addition to U.S. military and intelligence assistance, has been the cornerstone of the UAE/Saudi destruction of Yemen. Yemenis now suffer from raging famine, disease outbreaks, and crippled infrastructure. The UAE-Saudi coalition has hit civilians (school field trips, funeral processions, weddings, markets) and prevented humanitarian aid from entering Yemen.

In autumn 2018, the head of the U.S. State Department’s legislative affairs team (a former Raytheon lobbyist) certified that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were taking steps to reduce civilian deaths in Yemen. Roughly 233,000 people have died in Yemen as a result of the war, according to the United Nations humanitarian office. Such destruction is evidence of the military-industrial-congressional triangle functioning as designed.

In early February 2021, the Biden administration announced it would halt support for Saudi-UAE “offensive” operations in Yemen. This claim is full of loopholes and is unlikely to substantially alter or end the myriad of ways the U.S. ruling class aids and abets anti-democratic Arab regimes.

Zionism is the ideology that justifies the colonization of Palestine and the maintenance and expansion of that colonization using brutal violence and espionage. Zionists declared independence when they set up a new state, Israel, in Palestine in May 1948, ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the land.

Each year, Washington gives roughly $3.8 billion to Israel, which then is supposed to use such monies to purchase from the U.S. war industry. The occupation of Palestine and Zionist aggression against neighboring countries provide the U.S. war industry with a valuable slice of its portfolio: an outsourced proving ground to test, evaluate, use, and improve weaponry.

When war is profit, death ensures a healthy bottom line.

The Advantages of Zionism The aggressive military posture inherent to Zionism is a commercial advantage from an industry perspective. Israel has killed Arabs quite effectively with a variety of aircraft and weaponry purchased from U.S. corporations. The U.S. State Department turns a blind eye, as it is once again doing in the current Israeli operation.  Of course, Israel claims self-defense when using U.S. and Israeli weaponry to kill Arabs……….

This is the final installment in the author’s five-part series.

Christian Sorensen is an independent journalist mainly focused on warprofiteering within the military-industrial complex. An Air Forceveteran, he is the author of the recently published book,Understanding the War Industry. He is also a senior fellow at theEisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of independent veteranmilitary and national security experts. His work is available atWar Industry Muster.   https://riseuptimes.org/2021/06/09/a-peoples-guide-to-the-war-industry-5-portfolio-of-conflicts/

June 10, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Great powers’competition – the war industry’s best tactic

”……………..Pretexts keep the military budget elevated, sustain the war industry’s profits, and incite a violent foreign policy. Manufactured fear is essential. After pumping the “War on Terror” for trillions of dollars — and with veterans and the U.S. public growing skeptical of such interventions — the war industry has returned to targeting Russia and China through “great power competition.  

A PEOPLE’S GUIDE TO THE WAR INDUSTRY -5: PORTFOLIO OF CONFLICTS,  By Christian Sorensen     by Rise Up Times · Great Power Competition , 9 June 21,

  ”……………..Pretexts keep the military budget elevated, sustain the war industry’s profits, and incite a violent foreign policy. Manufactured fear is essential. After pumping the “War on Terror” for trillions of dollars — and with veterans and the U.S. public growing skeptical of such interventions — the war industry has returned to targeting Russia and China through “great power competition.  

Facing off against Russia and China is more comfortable territory for war corporations. In the calculus of corporate suites, the big-ticket items inherent to competition with another major industrial nation are where the real money can be made. A war on terror was lucrative for a decade or two, and it will continue, but it is not enough to justify excessive spending on cyber, submarines, satellites, hypersonic propulsion, anti-ballistic missiles, nuclear weaponry, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and aircraft carriers.

Competition against Moscow and Beijing also continues the militarization of U.S. society, channeling anger (which might otherwise manifest itself as class awareness and/or physical protest against Washington’s corruption) into outrage against a stereotypical enemy that resides overseas — just as the War on Terror did.

Great power competition is fully entrenched in the Pentagon, as made clear by the 2018 National Defense Strategy, developed in 2017 by military and corporate personnel. It emphasized, “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”

Etching the National Defense Strategy into stone, the then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford declared in November 2018, that great power competition was here to stay, demanding a shift in Pentagon funding priorities and weapons development. Dunford was speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum, sponsored by corporations (e.g. Boeing, CAE, United Technologies) and NATO, among other powerful groups, including energy and IT firms.

Four months later, the war industry pressure group NDIA presented General Dunford with its most prestigious award. Dunford soon retired and joined the board of Lockheed Martin.

Great power competition has enabled a high volume of war industry goods and services and U.S. military personnel to deploy to Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and eastern Europe, particularly in the Baltic States and Romania, as well as other clients surrounding China, particularly South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Guam. Large engineering and project management firms build and sustain the associated infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s construction is framed as a threat. “I mean, this is insane. Look at all that crazy construction,” remarked a U.S. naval officer observing Chinese military construction projects in the South China Sea. Though a useful bogeyman, Beijing’s construction in the South China Sea does not hold a candle to what Washington has built up overseas.

Great power competition fills peaceful voids. At the Sea Air Space Forum of 2019 (sponsored by CACI, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls), MIC officials cited the “threat” of great power competitors in order to justify expansion of U.S. military power into the Arctic.

They ignored the real threat: The U.S. Armed Forces’ rampant carbon-based military activity contributes to anthropogenic climate change, which melts Arctic ice, which opens up northern sea lanes, into which the Pentagon projects its polluting arsenal, which puts more carbon in the atmosphere.

Great power competition’s consequences are terrifying: increased militarization of an already militarized U.S. economy and public life; greater likelihood of wars big and small; more pollution (notably toxic particulates, carbon emissions, and radiological contamination) in an era of climate catastrophe and mass extinction; nuclear weapons on a hair trigger; narrowing of permissible speech and assembly; and relentless corporatization of the U.S. Armed Forces, the world’s mightiest organization.

The pretext known as great power competition is off to an impressive start, financially, bureaucratically, and industrially. It is incumbent upon the workers of the world to stop it. ”https://riseuptimes.org/2021/06/09/a-peoples-guide-to-the-war-industry-5-portfolio-of-conflicts/

June 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Navy to cancel development of super expensive nuclear missile

Navy eyes canceling nuclear missile

By BRYAN BENDER , 06/09/2021 NIXING A NUKE? PoliticoActing Navy Secretary Thomas Harker has issued a memo directing the service to cancel development of a nuclear-armed cruise missile in fiscal 2023, a potential signal that the Biden administration could dial back some nuclear modernization programs, Aerospace Daily scooped on Tuesday.

The June 4 memo, also obtained by POLITICO, is part of preparations to craft a five-year spending plan. The memo declares that the Navy may have to choose either a new fighter jet, destroyer or submarine and delay two of them.

“The Navy cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation of air, surface, and subsurface platforms and must prioritize these programs balancing the cost of developing next-generation capabilities against maintaining current capabilities,” Harker wrote.

It “makes clear that budgets aren’t expected to increase enough in the coming years to undertake all of the modernization efforts envisioned by the Navy,” as our colleague Paul McLeary writes for Pros………. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-defense/2021/06/09/navy-eyes-canceling-nuclear-missile-795839

June 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Euphoria about nuclear costs, especially about decommissioning – Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) warns Indonesia.

IEEFA: Nuclear power euphoria in Indonesia is all smoke and mirrors with no current technical, financial or market viability,

2 June 21,    https://ieefa.org/ieefa-nuclear-power-euphoria-in-indonesia-is-all-smoke-and-mirrors-with-no-current-technical-financial-or-market-viability/

Renewables should be the focus of Indonesia’s net-zero pledge.   (IEEFA Indonesia) In growing energy markets like Indonesia, decision makers are facing a barrage of pro-nuclear media coverage as the nuclear industry floods the market with panels and webinars focused on the potential of nuclear power.

new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) highlights that while nuclear is promising as a baseload substitute for coal power, it currently has no technical, financial, or market viability in the Indonesian context. Author of IEEFA’s report Elrika Hamdi says that Indonesian nuclear power supporters often promise that nuclear will be an affordable, safe and sustainable solution for the problem of over-reliance on fossil fuel.

Yet, 70 years after the first nuclear power developments were announced, the technology is quickly losing market share as global power markets pivot toward more cost-competitive renewables and storage solutions.

“Despite the steady erosion of nuclear power’s competitive potential, key Southeast Asian energy ministries continue to be lobbied by nuclear advocates. Many of these lobbyists are international backers of new small modular reactor (SMR) technologies, who are actively engaging with governments and utilities around the region,” says Hamdi.

As old generation large-scale nuclear units face decommissioning, there is little consensus about how long it will take for newer small-scale nuclear technologies to be economically viable or how long-standing safety and waste disposal risks will be addressed.


“Determining the suitability of nuclear for the Indonesian power market will be a challenging task that will require honest and deep engagement by senior policymakers to ensure there is a high degree of accountability as Indonesians need to know the real cost of having nuclear in the power system as well as how the government will handle the problem of nuclear waste.”

Hamdi says that the short-list of nuclear power issues includes technology reliability, safety and safeguards, the geographic conditions of Southeast Asia, the prospects for decommissioning, waste treatment and permanent disposal, fuel availability, affordability, and the risk of persistent cost overruns and frequently overlooked shut-down costs.

Research has shown that an estimated 97% (175 out of 180 projects examined) of nuclear power projects exceed their initial budgets. The average cost overrun for a nuclear power plant was US$1.3 billion per project with construction delays adding 64% more time than initially projected.

Nuclear waste disposal costs also complicate the cost estimation process—typically raising project costs as political risk factors crystallize. The inability of leading nuclear nations to find safe and affordable solutions for permanent high-level nuclear waste disposal leaves expensive back-end cost issues on the table.

The economics of nuclear power in Indonesia is also blurred by the fact that under existing regulations, nuclear accident liabilities for nuclear owners/operators are capped at a maximum of IDR 4 trillion (US$276 million) for power plants with a capacity of more than 2000MWe. It is cut in half as the capacity decreases. This means smaller nuclear reactors would be liable for only a fraction of potential accident costs.

“These open-ended cost issues make it hard to evaluate claims about the market viability of nuclear power in Indonesia’s cost-sensitive market. This is particularly true when most established nuclear nations are pivoting away from commitments to new nuclear power facilities as more flexible renewable plus storage options reshape power sector economics,” says Hamdi.

“If a decision is reached to move ahead with pilot stage nuclear projects, policymakers and the government will need to do a lot of policy work including the technical evaluation, the regulatory preparation and the financial support, including preparation of the currently non-existent third-party liability insurance framework.

“This will place a serious burden on a government already taxed by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to revitalize the financially constrained PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), Indonesia’s national power company.”

PLN also recently pledged to become carbon neutral by 2060. However, the plan released shows nuclear only entering the energy mix in 2040. This demonstrates that PLN is realistic about the technical, financial, and market challenges that need to be overcome if nuclear power is to successfully integrate into Indonesia’s future energy mix.

Hamdi says that until these issues have been acknowledged and fully addressed, the safe path for Indonesia, for now, would be to pause and set realistic goals for its power development strategy.

This includes taking advantage of Indonesia’s abundance of renewable energy resources and market viability.

“Currently only 2.5% of Indonesia’s 400GW renewable energy potential has been utilized.  That means that new technology options such as nuclear must compete with the deflationary cost curve in evidence with increasingly low-cost and low-risk renewable power solutions.

“New innovations to support grid flexibility such as demand response and storage are providing a cost-effective alternative to baseload-heavy planning disciplines. This trend raises questions about how small-scale nuclear reactors will fit into a more diverse power market where more cost-competitive renewable options could under-cut untested technologies that are years away from realizing economies of scale.

“The smaller, easily dispatchable, and walk-away safe promise of the new Gen-IV SMR technology offer is promising, IF and when the technology reaches commercial stage. But until such technology is proven to be technically and financially feasible, Indonesia’s safest option is to pause and set a more realistic net-zero scenario with resources and technologies that are already readily available with less cost, less risk, and less future liabilities.”

Read the report: Tackling Indonesia’s Nuclear Power Euphoria

June 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, Indonesia | Leave a comment

“IT’S VERY PROFITABLE to prepare for omnicide,”

NOT EVEN COVID-19 COULD SLOW DOWN NUCLEAR SPENDING  https://theintercept.com/2021/06/07/nuclear-weapons-spending-pandemic-ican/
A new report finds that nine countries collectively spent $72 billion in 2020 on nukes., Jon Schwarz
,
June 7 2021, IT’S VERY PROFITABLE to prepare for omnicide,” Daniel Ellsberg, famed whistleblower and anti-nuclear weapons activist, said in a recent interview. “Northrop Grumman and Boeing and Lockheed and General Dynamics make a lot of money out of preparing for such a war. The congressmen get campaign contributions, they get votes in their district and almost every state for preparing for that.”

But don’t just take it from Ellsberg. At an investor conference in 2019, a managing director from the investment bank Cowen Inc. queried Raytheon’s CEO on this subject. “We’re about to exit the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] with Russia,” said the Cowen executive. Did this mean, he asked, whether “we will really get a defense budget that will really benefit Raytheon?” Raytheon’s CEO happily responded that he was “pretty optimistic” about where things were headed.

There are currently nine countries that possess nuclear weapons: the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. ICAN calculated that they collectively spent $72.6 billion in 2020 on nukes. (picture below – a little out of date – 2019 )

The U.S. was responsible for just over half of this doomsday payout, at $37.4 billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. nuclear spending is anticipated to soon increase sharply due to plans for technological upgrades, rising to $41.2 billion next year and totaling $634 billion during the 10 years from 2021-2030.

China came in second in 2020 at an estimated $10.1 billion. Russia was third at $8 billion. Notably, in a year when the world economy was flattened by the coronavirus pandemic, nuclear spending continued on an upward trajectory without a hiccup.

Despite these hefty numbers, they’re probably an underestimate. “There’s always more [nuclear spending] out there … even more still lurking in the shadows,” said Susi Snyder, co-author of the report and managing director of the project Don’t Bank on the Bomb. Snyder points out that “governments, especially U.S., U.K., [and] France are always demanding ‘transparency’ … yet they do not hold themselves to the standards they demand of others.”

A great deal of U.S. nuclear spending consists of profitable contracts with private corporations.

The four companies Ellsberg said were raking in cash “preparing for war” indeed received the most money in 2020:

  • Northrop Grumman — $13.7 billion
  • General Dynamics — $10.8 billion
  • Lockheed Martin — $2.1 billion
  • Boeing — $105 million

These enormous contracts create obvious incentives for these companies to lobby for more government expenditures on Armageddon, and they assiduously do so. Indeed, lobbying unquestionably is the most profitable investment these companies make. According to ICAN’s report, for every $1 they spent on lobbying, they received $239 in nuclear weapon contracts.

The specifics are notable here. Northrop reported $13.3 million in lobbying expenses in 2020. Last year it was formally awarded the enormous initial contract to develop a new intercontinental ballistic missile system called the “Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.” It will inevitably receive the contract for the entire program, estimated to be worth $85 billion over its life. In discussion on the GBSD, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition stated that he didn’t see the pandemic affecting nuclear spending.

There is also much more to lobbying than that which goes by the name. In the 2006 documentary “Why We Fight,” journalist Gwynne Dyer explained that President Dwight Eisenhower considered the military-industrial complex actually to have three components: the military, defense corporations, and Congress. But now, Dyer said, there’s a fourth: think tanks, which generally push their funders’ policies under a thin veneer of scholarship.

According to the report, companies profiting from nuclear weapons contributed $5-10 million to think tanks in 2020. Northrop alone spent at least $2 million funding nine of them, including the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, the Center for a New American Security, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

However, ICAN did not produce the report for passive consumption or as an inducement to despair. Instead, it is part of a sophisticated strategy to eventually make nuclear weapons as taboo worldwide as chemical and biological weapons are now.

ICAN was a key force behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in 2017 at the United Nations. It makes illegal any activities related to nuclear weapons and has been signed by 86 countries and ratified by 54. It entered into force this past January.

None of the nuclear powers are signatories. Yet they need not be for the treaty to create a noose around those countries and their companies that should tighten over time. For instance, Airbus produces missiles for France’s nuclear weapons arsenal. But it is headquartered in the Netherlands, so if that country ratified the TPNW, it could no longer do so.

This financial threat has now attracted the attention of the stockholders of these nuclear corporations. Snyder notes that a 2020 Northrop shareholders resolution stated that the company “has at least $68.3 billion in outstanding nuclear weapons contracts, which are now illegal under international law,” and it received 22 percent support. A similar Lockheed resolution got over 30 percent support. The KBC Group, the 15th-largest bank in Europe, has announced that it will not fund any nuclear weapon-related activity because of the TPNW.

Success here will obviously require a long-term campaign and increased activism across the world. But the trajectory is headed in the right direction. “The days of spending with impunity on WMD,” believes Snyder, “are numbered.”

June 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Illinois nuclear power stations’future hangs in the balance, awaiting decision on taxpayer subsidies.


Fate of Illinois nuclear plants in balance after PJM auction fail and stalled subsidy 
plan. Utility Dive  June 7, 2021  By Scott Voorhis  

Dive Brief:

  • Exelon Corp. reports that three of its nuclear plants in Illinois failed to clear the PJM Interconnection’s capacity auction last week.
  • Exelon, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed that its Bryon, Dresden and Quad Cities nuclear plants in Illinois all failed to sell their power at the PJM auction, losing out to other power plants and energy resources. Bryon and Dresden are currently slated to be retired this fall, with Quad Cities remaining open thanks to previously awarded subsidies from the state of Illinois.

The fate of Illinois’ nuclear power sector, meanwhile, remains in the balance, as an impasse drags on in the state legislature over an energy bill that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to the sector………….. https://www.utilitydive.com/news/fate-of-illinois-nuclear-plants-in-balance-after-pjm-auction-fail-and-stall/601324/

June 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK spent more than £8000 every minute on nuclear weapons in 2020,

UK spent more than £8000 every minute on nuclear weapons in 2020, report says, The National , By Kirsteen Paterson  @kapaterson 7 June 21,    THE UK spent more than £8300 a minute on nuclear weapons last year, a new report claims.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) estimates £4.38 billion was splurged on the defence systems in 2020, making the UK the fourth biggest spender behind the US, China and Russia.

The UK has around 200 nuclear weapons and is committed to replacing the ageing Trident submarine system, which is housed at HM Naval Base Clyde, near Scotland’s biggest population centre. However, it does not publish detailed accounts of its spending on this area.

In a report released today, analysis by Ican suggests that is equivalent to $11,769 per minute. The estimate is based on reports from the National Audit Office, the Ministry of Defence and more.

Janet Fenton, Ican’s Scottish liaison and the vice chair of Scottish CND, told The National: “Scotland has been forced to act as an involuntary host to the UK’s nuclear weapons, while the UK is one of the least transparent nuclear armed states about its expenditure and the technical difficulties it faces in upgrading and replacing its nuclear weapons system.

“All this is regardless of the complete democratic deficit in a Scotland that has just elected a parliament with a majority that supports independence and returned an even bigger number of parliamentarians who are committed to supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons than the number who support independence.”………………..

The Scottish Greens are vocal opponents of nuclear weapons. The party’s external affairs spokesperson Ross Greer MSP, who represents the West Scotland region, said: “Nuclear weapons are an abomination. The day the world is free of these weapons of mass slaughter can’t come soon enough. Not only do nuclear weapons present a real and immediate danger, this report shows that they put us at greater risk by diverting vast sums of public money which could otherwise be spent on what really keeps us safe, such as high quality health and care services during a pandemic.

“Spending such vast sums on these evil weapons can never be justified but for the UK Government to prioritise this expenditure at a time when it is slashing international aid budgets just sums up the mentality of this heartless Tory administration.”   https://www.thenational.scot/news/19353768.uk-spent-8000-every-minute-nuclear-weapons-2020-report-says/

June 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Exelon and NRG share prices fall as U.S. nuclear power firms to be hit by plunge in grid payments

Plunging Payouts on Top U.S. Power Grid Slam Coal, Nuclear,  Bloomberg Green, By Will Wade and Mark Chediak3 June 2021, 

  •  Power providers will get $50 a megawatt-day, down from $140
  •  ‘I can’t imagine how nuclear is going to be able to cover’

Coal plants, nuclear reactors and other generators will take a hit next year on the biggest U.S. power grid as payments designed to ensure the lights remain on from New Jersey to Illinois plunge 64%.

Suppliers to PJM Interconnection LLC’s grid, which serves more than 65 million people, will get $50 a megawatt-day to provide backup capacity for the year starting June 2022, according to the results of an auction released Wednesday. It’s the lowest price in 11 years.

The results are an especially harsh blow for coal plants and nuclear reactors already struggling to compete. The PJM auction is the single most important event for generators across the eastern U.S., including Calpine Corp., NRG Energy Inc. and Exelon Corp., because it dictates a big chunk of their future revenue.

It also plays a pivotal role in shaping the region’s electricity mix, determining how much the region is willing to stick with coal and natural gas plants or replace then with wind and solar.

“I can’t imagine how nuclear is going to be able to cover all their fixed costs with such a low price,” said Brianna Lazerwitz, an analyst for BloombergNEF.

Exelon shares fell as much as 2% before trading opened in New York Thursday. NRG fell 1.6%. And Vistra fell 2%.

“It’s a direct hit to the companies’ income statements,” Gayle Podurgiel, a power markets analyst at Moody’s, said in an interview. She predicted it would push more coal plants to close.

Analysts had expected the auction would hurt renewables and nuclear power, while potentially boosting coal. That’s because of new rules imposed by regulators under Former President Donald Trump were designed to blunt any advantage wind, solar and reactors gained from state subsidies.

But in the end, the rule wasn’t much of a factor, in part because the steep price decline mitigated some participants’ advantages. Plus, many bidders were granted exemptions. As a result, coal plants fared disastrously………..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-02/electricity-payouts-on-biggest-u-s-grid-fall-64-in-auction-kpfwja1a

June 7, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

The transition to clean energy is held back by subsidies to the nuclear industry

Nuclear Subsidies May Be Slowing Transition to Clean Energy, Advocates Say, BY Leanna FirstAraiTruthout, 6 June 21,

The fight to define what counts as clean energy has grown more contentious as the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill takes shape. Many activists, scientists and lawmakers agree that nuclear energy — which provides one fifth of power in the U.S — is by definition not “clean” or renewable, given that spent fuel remains radioactive and dangerous for thousands of years…..  A group of staunch advocates say billions in state and federal subsidies that prop up the nuclear industry — payments that the Biden administration has signaled it may continue to support — may be slowing the transition to a truly clean energy economy……   Four days after Indian Point shuttered, on May 4, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a 20-year license renewal for two Dominion Energy reactors in Virginia, now slated to run until May 25, 2052. Half of the United States’ nuclear fleet of 93 remaining reactors will similarly be required to seek license extensions by 2040, or retire.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) supported the closure of Indian Point, Steve Clemmer, director of research and analysis for the organization’s climate and energy program, told Truthout, noting that other nuclear plants must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Based on data from a September 2019 presentation by a state task force, increases in energy efficiency and renewable generation spanning 2011-2021 were projected to not only replace but exceed Indian Point’s capacity. But Clemmer notes that according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), output by the shuttered reactor has ultimately been replaced by three new natural gas plants built over the past three years.


Clemmer said California is similarly projected to burn more natural gas when its last nuclear plant closes mid-decade, which would cumulatively raise global warming and air pollution emissions over the next 10 years. But, Clemmer added, it doesn’t have to be that way. “With sufficient planning and strong policies, existing nuclear plants like Diablo Canyon can be replaced with renewables and energy efficiency without allowing natural gas generation and heat-trapping emissions to increase,” he said. In the case of California, a February 2021 UCS analysis called for more rigorous emissions standards, and accelerating wind build-outs while slightly slowing solar and battery storage build-outs.

Elizabeth Moran, environmental policy director for the New York Public Interest Research Group characterized New York’s failure to replace Indian Point’s energy output with clean energy as “a total lack of planning.” Moran is among a group of clean energy advocates who have deemed New York’s ongoing reliance on both nuclear energy and natural gas as unnecessarily postponing the work required to achieve what’s laid out in the state’s climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. “These are bridges to nowhere,” Moran said. “They delay investment in what we truly need to be putting money towards, which is safe, clean, green renewable energy like solar, wind and geothermal.”

With Indian Point now closed, New York has four remaining nuclear reactors at three power stations upstate, all on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The plants — which are indirectly owned and operated by Exelon Corporation — receive millions in annual subsidy payments — a total of $7.6 billion to be paid from 2017 to 2029. That’s upwards of $1.6 million dollars per day, which Moran estimates shows up on ratepayers’ bills as about three dollars extra each payment period. New York residents pay among the highest rates for electricity in the U.S.

Under the subsidy system, which other states, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, have since considered and is currently under negotiation in Illinois, subsidies for “zero carbon” power, which the nuclear facilities qualify for, have far eclipsed financial support for wind and solar. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s latest financial status report, the state’s nuclear facilities received over $500 million in 2020, where renewable energy facilities received only $5 million.

Clean energy advocates highlight that ratepayers’ dollars would stretch further if spent supporting the most affordable energy options. According to a 2020 analysis by the asset management firm Lazard, each megawatt hour of nuclear power generated without subsidy payments cost $129-$198 in comparison with the price of generating the same amount of energy via wind power, estimated at $26-$54, or community solar power, at $63-94. Amory Lovins, founder of energy think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, explained in Forbes that curbing climate change requires saving the most carbon in the least amount of time, a calculus in which price plays a major role. “Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus, even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” Lovins wrote.

Under the subsidy system, which other states, including Maryland and Pennsylvania, have since considered and is currently under negotiation in Illinois, subsidies for “zero carbon” power, which the nuclear facilities qualify for, have far eclipsed financial support for wind and solar. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s latest financial status report, the state’s nuclear facilities received over $500 million in 2020, where renewable energy facilities received only $5 million.

Clean energy advocates highlight that ratepayers’ dollars would stretch further if spent supporting the most affordable energy options. According to a 2020 analysis by the asset management firm Lazard, each megawatt hour of nuclear power generated without subsidy payments cost $129-$198 in comparison with the price of generating the same amount of energy via wind power, estimated at $26-$54, or community solar power, at $63-94. Amory Lovins, founder of energy think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute, explained in Forbes that curbing climate change requires saving the most carbon in the least amount of time, a calculus in which price plays a major role. “Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus, even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” Lovins wrote.

Energy policy analyst and activist Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear reinforced Lovins’s point. “Operating economically distressed and deteriorating nuclear power stations diverts critical resources and wastes what precious little time remains for deploying more carbon reduction quicker, more cost effectively,” he told Truthout. Gunter also suggested that replacing nuclear plants with efficiency upgrades to cut down on demand, and renewables, can be a one-to-three-year process. If the owners of the plants don’t give enough public notice about their closure, more natural gas may be burned, but that can be offset over the following years by other carbon-free substitutes, Gunter said.

Jessica Azulay is executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for a Green Economy. She told Truthout state regulators should find a way to end contracts with the nuclear plants earlier than planned, which would enable an accelerated phase-out and save consumers money. “We think that will be more advantageous than delaying the renewable energy transition until 2029 when the nuclear subsidies end.”

Energy policy analyst and activist Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear reinforced Lovins’s point. “Operating economically distressed and deteriorating nuclear power stations diverts critical resources and wastes what precious little time remains for deploying more carbon reduction quicker, more cost effectively,” he told Truthout. Gunter also suggested that replacing nuclear plants with efficiency upgrades to cut down on demand, and renewables, can be a one-to-three-year process. If the owners of the plants don’t give enough public notice about their closure, more natural gas may be burned, but that can be offset over the following years by other carbon-free substitutes, Gunter said.

Jessica Azulay is executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for a Green Economy. She told Truthout state regulators should find a way to end contracts with the nuclear plants earlier than planned, which would enable an accelerated phase-out and save consumers money. “We think that will be more advantageous than delaying the renewable energy transition until 2029 when the nuclear subsidies end.”

Activists who have dedicated decades to pushing for the closure of Indian Point, like Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, have said they are not aware of or planning efforts to shut down the state’s remaining nuclear plants ahead of schedule. Rather, helping to ensure a safe decommissioning process at Indian Point is already an all-hands-on-deck effort. “There’s a direct danger to the workers as they’re cutting equipment apart — radioactive dust and isotopes — and that can cause worker and community exposure,” Greene said.

Greene noted that activists are also pushing Congress to closely oversee the NRC, which she described as having a history of granting waivers and exemptions and not following their own safety regulations during decommissioning.

said, there’s still a lot of radioactive material to figure out what to do with. “That is the legacy of 40 years of generating electricity using nuclear power. It’s a very toxic and dangerous legacy with a lot of unanswered questions,” she said. “If we didn’t have all these other solutions, some of this risk might be worth undertaking, but we’ve got plenty of opportunity for renewable energy with storage and efficiency and that’s where we should be investing.” https://truthout.org/articles/nuclear-subsidies-may-be-slowing-transition-to-clean-energy-advocates-say/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=9c5e3c09-f9ca-446a-b9ad-869dd4d7b4c7

June 7, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Old nuclear grinding to a halt in Britain

nuClear news, No 1333    5 June 21 In February it was reported that Centrica had suspended the sale of its nuclear business. Centrica owns a 20% interest in the UK’s 8.25 GW of operational nuclear power generation fleet. In 2018 it announced it was looking for a buyer for the stake. The Company continues to look at options, but the divestment process has now been paused mainly because of the graphite cracking issue at Hunterston and Hinkley and pipe corrosion at Dungeness. 

The company’s nuclear output for 2020 was down 10% year on year to 9.134 TWh, while the achieved price was up 4% to £51.30/MWh. Centrica’s nuclear segment made an operating loss of £17 million, down from a £17 million operating profit in 2019. A £525 million impairment charge on power assets included £481 million relating to nuclear, “largely as a result of a reduction in price forecasts and availability issues at the Hunterston B, Dungeness B and Hinkley Point B power stations.” (1)

 

Dungeness 

 EDF Energy is reported to be exploring a range of scenarios for Dungeness B, including bringing forward its decommissioning date of 2028. The Company may decide to start defuelling the reactors seven years early unless a number of “significant and ongoing technical challenges” are overcome. 

On 27 August 2018 Dungeness B shut down Reactor 22 for its planned statutory outage. On 23 September 2018 Reactor 21 was also shut down for the planned double reactor outage. Both reactors have been shut since while a multi-million-pound maintenance programme was carried out. This work was due to be completed last year but that timeline changed to August 2021 following a series of delays.

  Now EDF say the ongoing challenges and risks “make the future both difficult and uncertain”. As a result, the energy company is now exploring a range of options – including shutting the station down later this year, seven years ahead of schedule. A statement from EDF reads:

 “Dungeness B power station last generated electricity in September 2018 and is currently forecast to return to service in August 2021. The station has a number of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges that continue to make the future both difficult and uncertain. Many of these issues can be explained by the fact that Dungeness was designed in the 1960s as a prototype and suffered from very challenging construction and commissioning delays. We expect to have the technical information required to make a decision in the next few months, as it is important we bring clarity to the more than 800 people that work at the station, and who support it from other locations, as well as to government and all those with a stake in the station’s future.”   

 EDF Energy said it has spent more than £100 million on the plant during its current outage. (2) 
EDF’s latest announcement was that Reactor 21 might restart on June 6, 2022 instead of Aug. 2 this year and Reactor 22 reactor might restart on May 27, 2022 instead of July 23 this year. (3)   Dungeness B was the first AGR to be ordered in 1965. It was expected to begin operation in 1970/1, but didn’t produce commercial electricity until 1989. It is thought to have exceeded its budget by 400%. (4)

  Hunterston

In April the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) gave EDF permission for reactors 3 and 4 at the Hunterston to return to service for a limited period of operation after scrutiny of EDF’s safety case. Operation is permitted for up to a total of 16.7 terawatt days for reactor 3 and 16.52 terawatt days for reactor 4 – approximately six month’s of operation for each. This will be the final period of operation before the reactors are shut-down and the spent fuel removed. (5) 

Reactor 3 has already re-started but Reactor 4 is not expected to be back on-line until 9th June. The end date for Hunterston B will be 7 January 2022 at the latest.  

Hinkley Point B 

On 17th March Hinkley Point B’s two reactors were granted permission by ONR to restart. Reactor 4 and Reactor 3 were taken offline on 21 February and 8 June 2020, respectively, for a series of planned inspections of the graphite core. The company plans to run Hinkley’s two reactors for six months, pause for further inspections and, subject to ONR approval, generate power for a second six-month period. Last November EDF announced that Hinkley Point B would operate no later than July 2022 before moving into the defuelling phase. EDF has spent £3 million over the past year upgrading the plant while detailed assessments have been completed on the graphite in the nuclear reactors. (6)  

  Sizewell B

 EDF Energy extended the outage at Sizewell B by three months to carry out ‘additional work’. The reactor went offline for planned refuelling and maintenance work on April 16, initially scheduled to end on May 29. This has been updated to 30th August following additional work required on some components identified during the shutdown. (7) This is because some steel components are wearing out more quickly than expected, forcing EDF to carry out lengthy unscheduled repairs. (8)  


  Plant Life Extensions 

A look at the age structure of existing nuclear power plants shows the importance of analysing risks of life-time extension and long-term operation. Some of the world’s oldest plants are located in Europe. Of the 141 reactors in Europe, only one reactor came into operation in the last decade, and more than 80 percent of the reactors have been running for more than 30 years. Nuclear power plants were originally designed to operate for 30 to 40 years. Thus, the operating life-time of many plants are approaching this limit, or has already exceeded it. The ageing of nuclear power plants leads to a significantly increased risk of severe accidents and radioactive releases. 

A new study has analysed the risks of life-time extensions of ageing nuclear power plants. At present, life-time extensions in Europe do not have to be comprehensively relicensed according   

  to the state of the art in science and technology. Time limited licenses can be extended by decision of the competent authorities. However, such decisions do not meet the requirements of Nuclear Power Plant licensing procedures in regard to public participation. More often than not environmental impact assessments with public participation are not carried out. However, the situation has changed with the ruling of the European Court of Justice of 29th of July 2019 on the life-time extension of the Doel NPP (Belgium) and the new guidance under the ESPOO Convention. Accordingly, environmental impact assessments with transboundary public participation are now required for life-time extensions.

However, there are still no binding assessment standards for life-time extensions. It is still up to each regulatory authority to decide what and how to assess. In particular, the authorities are not obliged to carry out a comprehensive licensing procedure in which all safety issues are comprehensively examined according to the current state of knowledge. (9)    https://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/nuClearNewsNo133.pdf

June 5, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Bill Gates’ Terra Power nuclear reactors for Wyoming

This is a long article – reads like a handout from Bill Gates. But at the end, they do tack on a little caveat

Nuclear power experts have warned that advanced reactors could have higher risks than conventional ones. Fuel for many advanced reactors would have to be enriched at a much higher rate than conventional fuel, meaning the fuel supply chain could be an attractive target for militants looking to create a crude nuclear weapon, a recent report said.

Bill Gates’ next generation nuclear reactor to be built in Wyoming, Reuters 3 June 21, Timothy Gardner, Valerie Volcovici  Billionaire Bill Gates’ advanced nuclear reactor company TerraPower LLC and PacifiCorp (PPWLO.PK) have selected Wyomingto launch the first Natrium reactor project on the site of a retiring coal plant, the state’s governor said on Wednesday.

TerraPower, founded by Gates about 15 years ago, and power company PacifiCorp, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N), said the exact site of the Natrium reactor demonstration plant is expected to be announced by the end of the year. ……….

June 3, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

5 Republicans and 1 Democrat – the U.S. Senate nuclear caucus – Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition – bribed by nuclear weapons companies to pour $1.7trillion into new and ‘modernised’ nukes

why the missile caucus is so influential is: money

Meet the Senate nuke caucus, busting the budget and making the world less safe,   https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/05/26/meet-the-senate-nuke-caucus-busting-the-budget-and-making-the-world-less-safe/ These lawmakers represent states with a direct interest in pouring billions into modernizing and building new weapons.   Marcy Winograd and Medea Benjamin, MAY 26, 2021    

Democrats might control the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government right now, but a small Republican-dominated Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition exercises outsized influence in a frightening campaign for nuclear rearmament.

The coalition, comprising six senators from states that house, develop, or test underground land-based nuclear weapons, is pushing a wasteful and dangerous $1.7 trillion, decades-long plan to produce new nuclear weapons, some with warheads 20 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

While the 1980s witnessed the nuclear freeze and a mass movement to demand nuclear disarmament between the U.S. and Soviet Union, the 1990s gave birth to the missile caucus, the Congressional engine careening the U.S. into a renewed nuclear arms race.

All but one of the members of this caucus is a Republican from a deep red state — including North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota — that didn’t vote for Joe Biden. Members of the Senate ICBM Coalition are Co-Chairs John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.); John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); Steve Daines (R-Mont); Mike Lee (R-Utah); and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

The lone Democrat, Tester, a third-generation farmer and former elementary school music teacher, wields a critical gavel as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, a committee that will write the appropriations bill for military expenditures. Tester told the D.C.-based Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance this year that he was committed to keeping new nuclear weapons production “on track.”

If the ICBM Coalition and the weapons lobby have their way, the United States will brandish a new nuclear arsenal in order to, in their view, replace aging and outdated nuclear weapons ill-suited to meet the challenges of a renewed Cold War. Critics charge that the development and production of new nuclear weapons violates the spirit and letter of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), signed by the United States and Soviet Union in 1968.

In addition to violating a treaty joined by 191 nations, U.S. production of new nuclear weapons is likely to escalate the arms race, sabotage future arms control negotiations with Russia or China and encourage non-nuclear nations to enrich weapons-grade uranium.

Although it was the Trump administration that in 2020 awarded Northrop Grumman a $13.3 billion sole-source contract to build new land-based nuclear missiles called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), it is the Biden administration that is slated to include, as part of its record high $753 billion military budget, $30 billion or more for the GBSD. This would be  a down payment on the estimated $264 billion cost to replace all 400 underground Minuteman III missiles in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Colorado, from 2029 through 2075. 

The GBSD is part of a euphemistically labeled “nuclear modernization” program proposing, in addition to new ICBMs, new ballistic missile submarines outfitted with low-yield, five-kiloton tactical nuclear weapons, as opposed to larger 100-kiloton “strategic” nuclear weapons meant for a global nuclear showdown.

 The Trump administration’s 2018 nuclear posture review reasoned these “more usable” tactical nuclear weapons would keep the Russians and Chinese in check. Critics argue that these smaller, shorter-range tactical nuclear weapons blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear war, making these weapons more likely to be employed under the misguided assumption that a nuclear war can be limited.

The push for rearmament, including a new nuclear cruise missile, a modified gravity bomb with two-stage radiation implosion and long-range strike bomber, comes amid concern the Biden administration’s heated anti-China rhetoric could plunge us into a nuclear war.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg recently released classified documents that revealed U.S. military leaders penned plans in 1958 to execute a first nuclear strike against China in a dispute over Taiwan’s sovereignty. According to the documents, Pentagon officials were willing to risk a million deaths in the event the Soviet Union fired back with nuclear weapons.  In releasing the classified material and purposefully risking prosecution, Ellsberg told the New York Times, “I do not believe the participants were more stupid or thoughtless than those in between or in the current cabinet.”

With Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Republicans and Tester cheerleading for the GBSD, a missile caucus lobbyist might think the American people would prefer to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new ICBMs and nearly two-trillion dollars on the entire nuclear escalation package than investing in Medicare for All or clean water in Flint, Michigan. A 2020 University of Maryland poll revealed, however, that 61 percent of Americans–including both Democratic and Republican majorities–support phasing out the United States’s 400 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Knowing this, why would Biden and Democratic politicians carry out the mission of the small Republican-dominated missile caucus and its chums in the profitable weapons industry? Northrop Grumman, with a net worth of $50 billion, promises nuclear rearmament will create 10,000 jobs, but compare that number to the 3-million employed under FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps that planted 3-billion trees.

The answer to why the missile caucus is so influential is: money. And lots of it.

ICBM weapons contractors contributed more than $15 million from 2012-2020 to members of the Senate and House Armed Services and Appropriations committees and subcommittees, according to the Arms Control Association. Steven Semler, co-founder of the Security Policy Reform Institute, notes these contractors even buy influence among members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), last year donating $376,650 to Democrat Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee; $148,135 to Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and $63,086 to Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), all of whom belong to the CPC.

While Biden may fear appearing “soft” on defense if he retreats from relaunching our nuclear program, progressives are preparing for a fierce debate. GBSD opponents include an impressive diplomatic team: William Perry, former Secretary of Defense; Daniel Ellsberg, author, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner; and William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy.

Hartung, author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex,recommends nixing the ICBMs entirely“Because of their extreme vulnerability to attack, ICBMs are kept on high alert status, leaving the president a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them on warning of an impending attack,” he says.

There is no law of gravity that compels the current president or Congress to continue funding this drive for nuclear rearmament.

June 1, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A People’s Guide to the War Industry, by Christian Sorensen — Rise Up Times

“The main role of the federal government under capitalism is to maintain the capitalist economic system and set the general conditions by which large corporations and billionaires are able to accrue more and more profit.”

A People’s Guide to the War Industry, by Christian Sorensen — Rise Up Times A People’s Guide to the War Industry -2: Profits & Deception  https://consortiumnews.com/2021/05/26/a-peoples-guide-to-the-war-industry-2-profits-deception/May 26, 2021   Christian Sorensen maps out the global system of weapons mongering. Second in a series of five articles on the U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex.   By Christian Sorensen

Special to Consortium News   War corporations are spread across the United States. The top war industry hubs in the U.S. are Huntsville, Alabama; greater Boston; greater Tampa, Florida; the Dallas-Fort Worth region; southern California; and the corridor stretching from northeast Virginia, through Washington, to Baltimore (consistently home to the wealthiest counties in the country).

The U.S. war industry profits well through global supply chains, including setting up subsidiaries in allied capitalist countries and using those countries’ industrial bases to produce parts of a weapons platform (such as the costly, underperforming F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, parts of which are built in locations as diverse as Italy and Japan).

War corporations manage global chains by organizing, coordinating, and enforcing a hierarchical command structure upon disparate locations. Orders flow down the chain and capital flows up, allowing the corporation’s executives, and ultimately Wall Street — not workers who make the products — to harvest enormous amounts of wealth. This exacerbates inequality, not just in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania, and Marietta, Georgia, but also Rochester, England, and Aire-sur-l’Adour, France — all locations where U.S. war products are made. War corporations paint these actions as “building lasting capacity” and other euphemisms.

A euphemism is a kinder, gentler term used in place of a direct, often more accurate one. The MIC employs euphemisms adeptly. Public relations gurus know the English language very well. Recall George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language:”

”In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible… Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

With the care of a sommelier, MIC propagandists select the perfect euphemisms to mask their activities and present death and destruction in comfortable terms. Getting rid of euphemism, pursuing an honest language, is one step toward achieving a system that benefits people and planet.

Globe-Spanning Installations

Military installations are avenues through which corporations route goods and services. Sometimes the U.S. military sets up an installation overseas with permission from the allied capitalist regime. Sometimes the ruling class orders the military to take the land by force. It stole land in Guam, compensating locals a paltry sum or nothing at all. It took the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It stole Vieques, Puerto Rico. It teamed up with the Danish government to remove the indigenous Inughuit to make way for Thule Air Base in northwest Greenland. And the Pentagon and State Department teamed up with the United Kingdom to remove Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean in order to set up what is now called Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia.

Incredible corporate profit (e.g. base operations, ordnance, platforms, construction, fuel, maintenance) runs through each military installation. Most U.S. military bases overseas are not located in active war zones. The largest concentrations of U.S. troops are on bases in the Persian Gulf, Europe, and the Western Pacific.

There are thousands of U.S. military installations inside the United States (land stolen from the Native Americans). As contract announcements indicate, Corporate America is sometimes put in charge of studying and documenting the effect a planned base or weapons range might have on the surrounding community — aircraft noise, potential for mishaps and accidents, and the extent to which land use works with or against local designs — even though Corporate America stands to benefit if the base or range gets established.

Duping Workers

In the capitalist economic system, relatively few people control the means of production (e.g. machinery, factories). In order to survive, most people (the working class) sell their ability to work. They receive a wage in return. A worker’s work is what makes money for the ruling class. This is true across all industries, including the war industry.

Workers who design and assemble the major weapons of war form the core of the working class within the war industry. They put together missiles at Raytheon’s factory in Tucson, Arizona. They manufacture drones at General Atomics’ factory in Poway, California. They fabricate land vehicles at AM General’s factory in South Bend, Indiana. They build landing craft at Textron’s factory in New Orleans, Louisiana. Whatever the workers produce is not theirs to use or sell. Instead, their output belongs to the capitalist class. These rulers (literally sitting in corporate suites) decide what to produce, how to produce it, and to whom to sell it.

The ruling class profits by underpaying the workers. A given worker on a given day produces value, which we’ll call A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The corporation pays the worker a wage comparable to F and G. The rest (A, B, C, D, E) is “surplus value.” This difference between what a worker is paid in wages and the value a worker creates is how the corporation profits

Those profits go toward executives’ compensation (CEO pay at the top five war corporations totaled almost half a billion dollars over the course of 2015-2019); boost stock price and allow for stock buybacks; and are invested to make more profit. Money used to expand business to increase future profits is functioning as capital. An example of this is General Dynamics building a 200,000-square-foot building for submarine assembly at its Groton, Connecticut, shipyard in order to make more goods to sell for profit.

The ruling class inundates the working class with various forms of advertising, public relations gimmicks, propaganda, and disinformation in order to keep the working class (which greatly outnumbers the ruling class) passive and compliant. Many within the working class have swallowed such deception.

Working class jobs within the war industry are various, and include administrative assistant, analyst, armed mercenary, astrophysicist, data officer, engineer, lawyer, lobbyist, linguist, mathematician, public relations specialist, technician, and tradesperson. From the haughtiest academic to the humblest welder, what propaganda have they seized in order to justify working in the war industry?

Civilian Use

Unlike products from other industries, the public cannot eat, consume, play with, learn from, or interact with most goods and services sold by the war industry. Employees of war corporations invoke civilian applications of military technology: The internet, the jet engine, radar, and satellite technology all came about from military funding.

But these are ancillary benefits. Imagine what technological benefits society could achieve if $750 billion per year was directed intentionally toward research and development of technology that benefits human wellbeing and the natural world, not military and war.

We can harness the human mind in many ways. Nonetheless, so far — by the numbers — the U.S. government has only spent significant monies on military and war. Try throwing that kind of money at the sciences and arts every year — via other federal departments, such as Interior, Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Transportation — and see where unpressured, non-militarized research and development lead.

Distancing 

Lockheed Martin’s director of communications once said, “The missile has nothing to do with the manufacturer… Lockheed Martin was not the one that was there, firing the missile” (Robert Fisk, Independent,May 18, 1997).

Such distancing is no different from an engineer at a U.S. university who justifies her work on nuclear weapons along the lines of, “Well it’s not me pushing the button. Surely, there are military professionals in charge of these weapons.” Other workers in the war industry rationalize by arguing, “I might disagree with the wars, but I’m not the one elected to make such decisions. I’m just doing my job.” Those who resort to distancing focus on their own daily, incremental tasks, blocking out all consequence.

Traditional Patriotism 

Traditional patriotism rallies a person around the flag and shuns holding authority to account. Traditional patriotism allows the wars to continue. True patriotism, however, involves questioning government, making government accountable, and changing government when it is polluted and corrupt. True patriotism, as retired Major Danny Sjursen puts it, is “participatory and principled.”

Support the Troops 

Some people justify working for the war industry by saying they do it for the troops. Journalist Jeffrey Stern describes how one machinist at a missile factory rationalizes his role:

“[T]he thing that he said made him most proud about working at Raytheon was helping to keep American servicemen and women safe. The company makes a point of hiring veterans with combat injuries, which reminds him of whom he’s working for and why. He feels it when he sees the gigantic photos of service members that the company hangs in the most prominent parts of the plant. The photos, he explained, are of relatives of Raytheon workers. When he’s at work, the notion of helping American servicemen and women is not abstract. It’s almost tactile.”

Well played, Raytheon! The phrase “support the troops” is a clever slogan through which the MIC throws a blanket of patriotism over the underlying issue: supporting the wars. “Support the troops” has been very effective in getting the working class to line up in favor of war.

Delusion & Moral Bankruptcy 

Many people within the war industry are deluded or morally bankrupt and therefore have no problem working in such a destructive industry. Delusion and moral bankruptcy are the direct result of decades of refined capitalist propaganda and indoctrination. Many workers don’t understand that the system exists because of their exploitation. Many don’t understand that the war industry exists as a means of profit. Nor does the increasingly privatized and standardized public-school system emphasize the critical thinking needed to alter such a sad state of affairs.

Lack of Courage

Many smart people, blissfully comfortable with the paycheck that being part of the war industry work brings, lack the courage to act. Consider one plucked at random from the middle ranks of a war corporation. The man’s résumé is impressive: degree from a prestigious university, awards from industry and the Pentagon, and not one ounce of moral courage. His participation in the war industry leads directly to the deaths of innocents abroad and perpetuates war.

This flexible, powerful recipe allows one to justify working in the war industry.

A few people within the MIC recognize the gravity of the situation — that funneling so much money toward military, espionage, and war has a negative effect on U.S. security because it drains manpower, time, and capital, and forestalls social care — but are afraid of the consequences of speaking up.

Group think, hierarchy, compartmentation, economic incentive, and chain of command enforce the status quo. Violence and social isolation deter the few who push back against the machinery of war. The minor whistleblower is ostracized and demoted, the leaker fined and locked up. When just a few people push back, the MIC crushes them. When the working class pushes back, united and together, the MIC has a problem on its hands.

The ruling class employs other devices to ensure the workers continue to sell their labor power. Divide and conquer is a popular device: pit the workers against one another, profiting the capitalist while exhausting the worker. Wedge issues, such as race and nationalism, further split the working class along arbitrary, divisive lines, as seen when U.S. workers buy into the demonization of Arab, Persian, or Chinese workers.


Capitalists also elevate a few workers here and there above other fellow workers (think of the foreman in a Virginia shipyard or a taskmaster in an office producing signals intelligence software). These elevated few are given a tad more money in exchange for keeping the majority of the workers in line.

Replacing workers with machines and automating jobs keeps the workforce desperate. With so many people unemployed and underemployed, capitalist rulers get to pick the most passive laborers for war industry jobs, the ones who will keep their heads down and not raise a fuss about the relative pittance they’re paid. Purchasing the necessities of life (e.g. food, exorbitant healthcare, sky-high rent, utilities) requires that workers continue to sell their labor (the products of which maim and kill the working class in other countries) through which the ruling class becomes fantastically wealthy.

Academia

Education in the United States exists within narrow confines. The working class educated in elementary and secondary schools are not given the opportunity to learn about capitalism, let alone the horrific nature and devastating effects of the U.S. war industry. They are not taught about how the interests of the ruling class (including the Pentagon’s leadership, industry executives, Wall Street financiers, and Congress) clash head-on with the interests of the working class. An uneducated population will not mobilize effectively against its oppressors. This atmosphere of ignorance greatly benefits the MIC.

The war industry and the Pentagon fund extensive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives across the U.S. and in allied countries. By attracting students into STEM careers, the war industry and the Pentagon prepare and safeguard their future. Industry promotion of STEM lays the groundwork for future design, engineering, and production capacity, while the Pentagon promotes STEM in order to foster a technologically literate workforce and future generations of enlisted troops who are capable enough to operate the war industry’s products. STEM efforts are comprehensive, covering a wide geographical area and all ages, from elementary through university.

Many universities in the United States are part of the U.S. war industry. The role of these academic institutions is threefold: research and develop technology, serve as a holding station (e.g. Harvard’s Belfer Center) for MIC elites before they rotate into government or corporate suites, and accept philanthropy from war profiteers thereby whitewashing capitalist brutality. The main academic participants in the war industry include but are not limited to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the University of Dayton, and Georgia Tech.

The U.S. government runs many research labs pursuing military and intelligence R&D. The Army Research Lab and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity are located in Maryland. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research are in Arlington, Virginia. The Air Force Research Lab is run out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, northeast of Dayton, Ohio, with branches in New Mexico and upstate New York. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research & Development Center is in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Most work in and for these labs is carried out by corporations and academic institutions, not uniformed military personnel.

report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued in September 2020 detailed, “DOD does not know how contractors’ independent R&D projects fit into the department’s technology goals.”


“Brain drain” happens when industry herds intelligent people toward purposes of war, like when a graduate of an engineering school goes to work for a war corporation instead of a municipality. Humanity thus loses skilled human beings as a result. Brain drain is a great tragedy, and the war industry’s biggest success. In Boston, the U.S. Air Force alone funds ninety different research projects, according to the Air Force Secretary. And that’s just the publicly declared actions of one branch of the military in one city.

Lockheed Martin alone employs nearly 50,000 scientists and engineers, according to its CEO in her presentation to the Society of Women Engineers. Imagine if these minds were working on problems and projects for the betterment of humanity and the planet, instead of devising more ingenious ways to surveil or murder. Imagine the possibilities.

Effective science is based on free, open discussion. Military funding and stipulations (compartmentation, shoehorned focus, classification, near-term deadlines, stove-piped fields) oppose free, open discussion. Breakthroughs benefitting humanity rarely happen when people are tied to military-industry funding priorities, schedules, and narrow cognitive confines. Military and industry shun and condemn the polymath, the free thinker, and the uninhibited tinkerer. Military and industry embrace and fund the careerist, the complicit academic, the rigid functionary, the greedy corporatist, and the aspiring bureaucrat. Military-industry science may possess strong minds, but it does not often make the scientific breakthroughs society needs.

Influence

Strategy involves establishing priorities, making choices, and then matching available resources to goals, means to ends. Capitalists running the war industry utilize a five-step strategy to capture government:

  • Pull retiring military officers into war corporations
  • Stack the deck by placing ex-industry officials in the Pentagon’s leadership
  • Finance congressional campaigns
  • Lobby creatively and expansively
  • Fund think tanks & corporate media

War corporations recruit retired high-ranking military officers. War corporations use these eager retirees to open doors, influence policy, and increase sales. Generals and admirals retire from the U.S. Armed Forces and then join war corporations where they set to work converting their knowledge (about the acquisition process, senior military and civilian leaders, long-term military policy, and how the Pentagon works) and connections into profit.

Corporate jobs for these retired officers include manager, vice president, lobbyist, consultant, and director. Only a small number of 3- and 4-star officers declines this systemic corruption. War corporations have plenty to pull from, as there are more generals and admirals in uniform today in 2021 than there were at the end of World War II. Mere issuance of a bulletin announcing the hiring of a former high-ranking general or admiral often leads to a boost in stock price.

U.S. military officers benefit professionally and financially from implementing MIC aggression. There is no downside for high-ranking officers who support nonstop war. They’ll soon retire with full benefits, and likely go work for a war corporation. Officers who make it to the highest military ranks are very good at conforming to the system.

These officers support nonstop wars of choice and broad military deployments, and defer to pro-war pretexts and jargon coming from industry think tanks and pressure groups. They judge military activity in terms of numbers (dollars spent, weapons purchased, bases active, troops deployed) instead of clear soldierly goals.

Many officers are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the needs of a war corporation and the needs of a professional uniformed military. These U.S. military officers don’t see war corporations; they see a total force in which military and industry work together. An officer who dissents in a forceful manner risks their career. As the MIC crafts pretexts to justify its own existence and expansion, officers who go against the system from the inside are isolated, shed, or spit out.

Reality is difficult to stomach: There is an absolute dearth of class consciousness and moral courage within the Pentagon. The upper ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces are rife with a caliber of officer predisposed to seek out profit and reward upon retirement.


Executives move smoothly from corporations to the Pentagon, particularly the sundry civilian offices (secretary, deputy secretary, and assistant deputy secretary). These men and women who run the Pentagon have been raised in an environment of profiteering; they are steeped in corporate thought; their allegiance is to corporate success. They bring with them their industry contacts and an exploitative ideology. They turn to corporate products when presented with a military problem. They benefit professionally and financially.

Industry executives, the most rapacious of the capitalist class, enter “public service” and influence programs and policies. This invariably boosts the profits of former industry employers, who, thenceforth, capture and direct more of the U.S. military establishment. (Such actions, profit invested to make more profit, is money functioning as capital.)

Giant corporations finance the campaigns of people running for congressional office. Those people, once in office, help out the corporations. Washington is so corrupt that they’ve basically legalized this process — they’ve legalized bribery. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that limits on election spending are unconstitutional; in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the Supreme Court distorted the First Amendment’s free speech clause, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political contributions; and in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014), the Supreme Court got rid of limits on the total number of political contributions one can give over a two-year period.

We are told that the Supreme Court defends liberty and provides a check against the executive and legislative branches, however, the function of the Court, as its rulings demonstrate, is to abet corporate authority and financial interest in line with what the Executive and Legislative branches pursue.

The war industry targets both houses of Congress, particularly elected officials on relevant committees (Armed Services, Appropriations, Intelligence, Foreign Relations). The war industry finances many political action committees, or PACs. These are tax-exempt organizations that aggregate donations to fund political campaigns or influence federal elections. Super PACs (a.k.a. independent expenditure-only committees) allow unlimited contributions. Funding congressional campaigns directly impacts the way U.S. elected officials vote.

Politicians and their war industry bosses are proficient at claiming the “defense” industry creates jobs. Take caution when a war corporation throws the word “jobs” around. Many of these jobs are part-time, temporary, or menial (e.g. painter, welder, roustabout), parsed out to an increasingly desperate workforce. Some are construction jobs that vanish in a year or so. Working-class jobs in the war industry are often in difficult conditions.


Industry jobs that pay very well typically require advanced degrees, which the majority of the population does not have. Furthermore, some jobs are non-U.S. jobs (e.g. microchips manufactured overseas). Other jobs are induced (e.g. the mom making less-than-minimum wage on a ridesharing app driving an industry executive from work to a pub, or the waiter at a St. Louis restaurant where a missile engineer dines). Industry inflates job tallies. The goal is to confine the congressional side of the MIC, which cites the inflated jobs numbers and goes along for the ride.

The claim that the “defense” industry brings jobs is a stale public relations ploy. It hides the truth: Spending on healthcare, education, or clean energy creates more jobs than spending on the military.

The war industry can inflate job numbers because there is no accountability coming from Washington: Capitol Hill is largely content letting Corporate America police itself. Readers are likely familiar with cases where corporations get to inspect their own product (e.g. the airline industry, the pork industry) instead of external government inspectors doing the job.

Corporations policing corporations is rampant in the war industry, like when the advertising agency GSD&M measures the effectiveness of its own efforts at recruiting working class youth into the military. Sometimes one corporation polices part of industry, like when Calibre Systems conducts “cost and economic analysis of major weapons system programs and associated acquisition/financial management policies and procedures.”

The claim that the “defense” industry brings jobs is a stale public relations ploy. It hides the truth: Spending on healthcare, education, or clean energy creates more jobs than spending on the military.

The war industry can inflate job numbers because there is no accountability coming from Washington: Capitol Hill is largely content letting Corporate America police itself. Readers are likely familiar with cases where corporations get to inspect their own product (e.g. the airline industry, the pork industry) instead of external government inspectors doing the job.

Corporations policing corporations is rampant in the war industry, like when the advertising agency GSD&M measures the effectiveness of its own efforts at recruiting working class youth into the military. Sometimes one corporation polices part of industry, like when Calibre Systems conducts “cost and economic analysis of major weapons system programs and associated acquisition/financial management policies and procedures.”


Second in a five-part series by the author. Part 3 on Friday: ‘Bribery and Propaganda’

Christian Sorensen is an independent journalist mainly focused on war profiteering within the military-industrial complex. An Air Force veteran, he is the author of the recently published book, Understanding the War Industry. He is also a senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of independent veteran military and national security experts. His work is available at War Industry Muster

May 29, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Education, employment, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

For USA, health care is too costly, while weapons makers wildly profitable -as $634 Billion to go to nuclear arms

The US Will Spend on Nuclear Weapons in the Next Decade,  https://jacobinmag.com/2021/05/military-spending-nuclear-weapons-department-of-defense

BY JULIA ROCK, 26 May 21, According to a new Congressional Budget Office report, we’re set to spend well over a half a trillion dollars over the next decade on nuclear weapons. Yet we’re somehow told that Medicare for All is too expensive.

As Capitol Hill lawmakers continue to insist that initiatives like Medicare for All are too expensive, a new congressional report shows that the United States government is on a path to spend more than a half-trillion dollars on nuclear weapons in just the next decade. The report emerges at the same time a separate analysis shows that a handful of top executives at defense contractors are being wildly enriched by a Pentagon spending spree.

The first report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that the federal government is on track to spend $634 billion over the next decade to maintain its nuclear forces. Almost two-thirds of those costs are for the Department of Defense, mostly to maintain ballistic missile submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles. About one-third is for the Department of Energy.

For comparison that is:

The new CBO estimate represents a 28 percent increase over the last ten-year estimate that the CBO made on US nuclear forces two years ago.

The figures were released just a few weeks after a new analysis from the Center for International Policy, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, found that “In 2020 alone, the CEOs of the [Pentagon’s] top five contractors received a total of $105.4 million in compensation.”

When accounting for all top corporate officials, these firms paid out more than a quarter billion dollars of total executive compensation in 2020 — and paid out more than $1 billion over the last four years.

About half of the Pentagon’s budget goes directly to corporations such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, according to the report.

So far, the deficit scolds who wanted to narrow eligibility for stimulus checksstudent debt cancellation, or rent relief haven’t complained about the spending.

May 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Uranium at lowest price since 2007

Uranium Week: Struggling With Low Prices

FN Arena    Weekly Reports By Mark Woodruff May 25 2021, As the uranium spot price rose 2% for the week and 9% for the month, an EIA report revealed the lowest price paid since 2007 by owners and operators of US commercial nuclear plants

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released both its 2020 US Uranium Marketing Annual Report and its 2020 Domestic Uranium Production Report last week. 

Despite covid roiling energy markets during 2020, the reports pointed to nuclear energy being a fundamental source of base load electricity generation (20%) with capacity factors steady at 94%, explains Canaccord Genuity. The broker believes coverage of future demand will continue to provide an impetus for a more active term market over 2021.

The EIA is responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating energy information to inform policy making and efficient markets. It also adds to the public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

The released reports in 2020 quantify developments in the US uranium industry, including decreased inventories, explains industry consultant TradeTech. They also showed an elevated aggregated contractual coverage rate among owners and operators of US civilian nuclear power reactors. Additionally, lower weighted average uranium prices and historically low uranium production were reported.

The Uranium Marketing Annual Report showed owners and operators of US commercial nuclear plants in 2020 purchased nearly 49mlbs uranium from US and foreign suppliers. These were transacted at a weighted-average price of US$33.27/lb, which represents a 1% increase in volume and a -7% decline in price compared to 2019 data. The weighted average price is the lowest price paid by owners and operators of US civilian power reactors since 2007.

Of the US deliveries, 76% were through longer-term contracts, averaging US$34.74/lb. As Canaccord notes, it’s always darkest before the dawn, with pricing failing to represent the marginal cost of production let alone the incentivisation price for restarts or new developments.

During 2020, 11.7mlbs or 24% of sales were on a spot basis, up from 10.5mlbs in 2019 and the highest since 2014. This illustrates that long-term contracts signed post-Fukushima (2011-2015) are starting to expire, explains Canaccord.

The report showed Australian and Canadian-origin uranium combined accounted for 42% of reported volumes by country of origin. Uranium purchased by owners and operators of US civilian power reactors from Russia again was the lowest weighted average price paid at US$25.73/lb, while purchases from Australia occupied the highest cost position at US$39.86/lb.;;;;;;;;;;;;;; https://www.fnarena.com/index.php/2021/05/25/uranium-week-struggling-with-low-prices/

May 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment