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U.S. accuses Iran of plotting to restart nuclear weapons program

  https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/22/sanctions-iran-weapons-program-1232221, By KATIE GALIOTO, 03/22/2019
U.S. officials on Friday accused Iran of plotting to restart work on its nuclear weapons program, despite Tehran agreeing in a 2015 accord to not pursue such weapons.The charges were made as the Treasury and State Departments announced a new round of sanctions against 14 individuals and 17 entities linked to the Iranian Ministry of Defense unit responsible for nuclear weapons development, senior administration officials said Friday.

Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also referred to by the acronym SPND, maintains technical experts and critical ties to Iran’s previous nuclear efforts — notably to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of Iran’s pre-2004 nuclear weapons program, officials said.

They added that Tehran-based SPND may not currently be working to develop nuclear weapons, but that the connections to Iran’s previous nuclear programs increase the threat of the country developing weapons of mass destruction. Iran has long claimed to have no interest in developing nuclear weapons, but the United Nations in 2015 uncovered a secret program that lasted until at least 2009.

The sanctions are the latest step the U.S. has taken to ramp up economic pressure on Iran after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact, in which the country’s Islamist regime agreed to abandon any nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic sanctions relief. The other parties in the agreement — including several European countries, China and Russia — have all remained in the deal, and international organizations say Tehran

has complied with the agreement.

Trump has bashed the the international pact for not doing enough to stop Iranian efforts to build nuclear bombs. Since leaving the accord, his administration has leaned on other countries to cut off their interactions with Iran.

“Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Friday.

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March 23, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)-a law unto itself, joins with China to make new nuclear reactors

Australia is back in the nuclear game, Independent Australia,  By Noel Wauchope | 24 March 2019, One of Australia’s chief advocates for nuclear power Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, (ANSTO), has done it again.

This time in China, he quietly signed Australia up to spend taxpayers’ money on developing a new nuclear gimmick — the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR).

This new nuclear reactor does not physically exist and there is no market for it. So its development depends on government funding.

Proponents claim that this nuclear reactor would be better and cheaper than the existing (very expensive) pressurised water reactors, but this claim has been refuted. The TMSR has been described by analyst Oliver Tickell as not “green”, not “viable” and not likely. More recently, the plan has been criticised as, among other things, just too expensive — not feasible as a profitable commercial energy source.

Paterson’s trip to China and his signing up to this agreement received no Parliamentary discussion and no public information. The news just appeared in a relatively obscure engineering journal.

The public remains unaware of this.

In 2017, we learned through the Senate Committee process that Dr Paterson had, in June 2016, signed Australia up to the Framework Agreement for International Collaboration on Research and Development of Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems (also accessible by Parliament Hansard Economics Legislation Committee 30/05/2017).

This was in advance of any Parliamentary discussion and despite Australia’s law prohibiting nuclear power development. Paterson’s decision was later rubber-stamped by a Senate Committee……..

Dr Paterson was then obviously supremely confident in his ability to make pro-nuclear decisions for Australia.

Nothing seems to have changed in Paterson’s confidence levels about making decisions on behalf of Australia.

Interestingly, Bill Gates has abandoned his nuclear co-operation with China. His company TerraPower was to develop Generation IV nuclear reactors. Gates decided to pull out of this because the Trump Administration, led by the Energy Department, announced in October that it was implementing measures to prevent China’s illegal diversion of U.S. civil nuclear technology for military or other unauthorised purposes.

Apparently, these considerations have not weighed heavily on the Australian Parliament.

Is this because the Parliament doesn’t know anything about Dr Paterson’s trip to China and his agreement for Australia to partner with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) in developing Thorium Molten Salt Reactors?  https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/australia-is-back-in-the-nuclear-game,12488#.XJWdhxDqitc.twitter

March 23, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

UN raps Israel’s use of ‘unlawful force’ against Gazans 

  Press TV, 23 Mar 19, The United Nations (UN)’s Human Rights Council has denounced Israel’s use of “unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against unarmed Palestinian protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gazans started protesting along a fence that separates the Gaza Strip from the Israeli-occupied territories on March 30, 2018 demanding the right to return for those Palestinians driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression and calling for a halt to Israel’s inhumane blockade of the enclave.

Israeli forces deployed to the area have used force from across the fence against the protesters, killing over 260 Palestinians and injuring thousands since the protests started.

On Friday, the Humans Rights Council adopted a resolution on accountability tabled by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The resolution was adopted with 23 votes in favor, eight against, and 15 abstentions. The delegation of one member state was absent.

The text also called for cooperation by the Israeli regime with a preliminary examination that was launched by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015 into Israeli human rights violations.

The resolution was based on a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report that found that Israeli forces had committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that “may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity” in killing 189 Palestinians and injuring thousands between March 30 and December 31, 2018……..https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/22/591676/UN-Human-Rights-Council-Israel-lethal-excessive-force-Gaza

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Gaza, Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bradwell B nuclear project – a risk to UK’s national security?

Is Bradwell B a risk to nationalsecurity?    Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group  (BANNG)21 March 2019

Andy Blowers considers whether the ‘golden relationship’ with China might be a Trojan Horse in the BANNG Column for Regional Life March 2019.  The state visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in October 2015 proclaimed the beginning of a ‘golden era’ in Sino-British relations. The deal was sealed with the promise that China would be offered the opportunity to construct a new nuclear power station at Bradwell with a state-owned company, CGN, using its own technology. In return the Chinese would provide the lion’s share (two-thirds) of investment in the project, with its partner the French state backed-company EDF finding the rest.

The jubilation of the Cameron Government turned to scepticism when his successor’s Joint Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, declared, ‘The Government is selling our national security to China’. Fears that a critical part of sensitive infrastructure could be open to control by a potentially hostile power have continued to cloud the project. The fact that China, like the UK, is a military as well as civil nuclear power makes the issue of security and control especially worrying.

Bradwell B – a Trojan Horse?
Concerns about security threats are not without foundation. There is the broad charge that China plays by its own rules and the United States has long claimed that China has stolen American atomic secrets…….
Fears of Chinese infiltration in national security have led the United States to ban foreign ownership or control of nuclear power plants (see Box). No such injunction has been proclaimed in the UK; rather, at this very moment, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation is deeply engaged in the process which may lead to approval for the Chinese Hualong One reactor design, thereby paving the way for overseas expansion of Chinese nuclear technology and the inevitable proliferation of security concerns. Bradwell B could be the Trojan Horse that leads into the heart of our national security  …..

nothing is said at all about what will be a deteriorating nuclear complex with stores of highly radioactive nuclear wastes strewn on a disappearing coast for the indefinite future. And will the Chinese still be around when the risks increase?

The Chinese are intent on accelerating the Bradwell B programme to begin construction before the end of the next decade. That is a tall order but they have the resources and apparent determination. But, the risks to national and local security and safety from a nuclear power station constructed and controlled by a foreign power cannot easily be allayed. Despite all the soothing words and promises of energy security, Bradwell B, if it materialises, may be a dangerous and unpredictable cuckoo in the nest.  https://www.banng.info/news/is-bradwell-b-a-risk-to-national-security/

March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton leads us back to the Nuclear Precipice

Back to the Nuclear Precipice, Project Syndicate, Mar 20, 2019 

Long a global leader in efforts to reduce nuclear-weapons stockpiles and limit nuclear proliferation, the United States is now fostering the conditions for a new global arms race. With hawks calling the shots in US President Donald Trump’s administration, a nuclear conflagration in one of the world’s hot spots is becoming more likely.

………. the author of The Art of the Deal has followed the advice of someone who has yet to meet a deal he didn’t want to tear up: Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton. Having already dispensed with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, during his tenure in President George W. Bush’s administration, Bolton has used his position in the Trump administration to launch attacks against the INF Treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA) with Iran. Most likely, his next target will be New START. Signed by Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague in 2010, that nuclear arms reduction treaty will expire in 2021, barring an agreement on its extension.

With the steady collapse of the international arms-control architecture has come a fresh race to develop new types of nuclear weapons. The potential use of these weapons is now discussed with such frivolity as to foreshadow a return to the darkest days of the Cold War, but one that is even more dangerous, because other countries not subject to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), such as North Korea, have since joined the nuclear club.

During Trump’s first year in office, his incendiary public exchanges with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought relations between Washington, DC, and Pyongyang to their tensest point in decades. While Trump has since abandoned his threats of “fire and fury” and given diplomacy a chance, his administration’s approach to North Korea has ignored all of the canons of effective diplomacy. This has given rise to another kind of frivolity: the spectacle of vacuous praise.

In the end, the lack of consensus among US foreign policymakers and the misaligned expectations of the two negotiating parties, combined with Trump’s own improvisations, condemned his recent summit with Kim to failure. A reorganization is now urgently needed, particularly to incorporate the other regional powers and keep Bolton and other hawks in the administration from derailing the process further.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan, two other NPT non-signatories, recently engaged in a cross-border military confrontation, following a terrorist attack last month in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Once deemed “the most dangerous place in the world” by former US President Bill Clinton, Kashmir is essentially shared between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, and China. Not since Pakistan revealed its nuclear capacity to the world in the late 1990s have Indian-Pakistani relations been so tense. Worse, as the latest instability shows, the presence of nuclear weapons is not sufficient to prevent conflict. Instead, it merely raises the risk that quarrels will escalate into existential conflagrations.

Lastly, in the Middle East, the Trump administration has actively sowed the seeds for nuclear proliferation. The decision to abandon the JCPOA was entirely counterproductive, merely reflecting Trump’s blind support for Israel – another NPT non-signatory – and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Trump administration is even exploring the possibility of exporting nuclear material to the Saudi regime without putting the necessary safeguards in place.

Apparently, Trump is not bothered by the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has neither ruled out developing nuclear arms nor committed to a strict regime of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One false step, though, could plunge the Middle East into a nuclear arms race – truly a worst-case scenario for such a fraught region.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan, two other NPT non-signatories, recently engaged in a cross-border military confrontation, following a terrorist attack last month in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Once deemed “the most dangerous place in the world” by former US President Bill Clinton, Kashmir is essentially shared between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, and China. Not since Pakistan revealed its nuclear capacity to the world in the late 1990s have Indian-Pakistani relations been so tense. Worse, as the latest instability shows, the presence of nuclear weapons is not sufficient to prevent conflict. Instead, it merely raises the risk that quarrels will escalate into existential conflagrations.

Lastly, in the Middle East, the Trump administration has actively sowed the seeds for nuclear proliferation. The decision to abandon the JCPOA was entirely counterproductive, merely reflecting Trump’s blind support for Israel – another NPT non-signatory – and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Trump administration is even exploring the possibility of exporting nuclear material to the Saudi regime without putting the necessary safeguards in place.

Apparently, Trump is not bothered by the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has neither ruled out developing nuclear arms nor committed to a strict regime of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One false step, though, could plunge the Middle East into a nuclear arms race – truly a worst-case scenario for such a fraught region.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump raised a red flag for the umpteenth time when he suggested that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons as a means of self-defense. This idea couldn’t have been more wrongheaded. Logic dictates that if more countries acquire nuclear weapons, the likelihood of such weapons being used will increase.

The Cold War gave us a glimpse of the risks we run when our single-minded pursuit of some geopolitical interests causes us to lose sight of the most important of them all: international security. As Obama emphasized ten years ago in Prague, the US is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons, and therefore has an historic responsibility to ensure that they are never used again. For the US to forsake this responsibility and champion a new era of nuclear proliferation would be a tragic outcome. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-trump-nuclear-proliferation-by-javier-solana-2019-03

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Irish Council opposes dumping of UK’s nuclear waste in any part of Ireland

Councillors back motion to oppose dumping of nuclear waste, The Impartial Reporter, 18th March A motion to oppose the dumping of any toxic waste in any part of Ireland was passed unanimously by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, however it was not without some political wrangling between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein’s John Feely states the Council’s opposition who said that the “dumping of nuclear waste has dire consequences for our environment and also poses a serious health risk to the population”.

Councillor Feely said the geological screening for geological disposal facilities for nuclear waste raised a number of questions such as about how much radiation would reach the surface and water sources.

He added that the proposals by the British Government showed once again “the complete and total disregard” it has for the citizens of “Fermanagh and Omagh, the North of Ireland and all its people”.

Councillor Barry Doherty seconded the motion saying everybody had obligation to ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the area in the same way that people do today and Ireland should not turn into anyone’s dumping ground……..

Councillor Alex Baird said the UUP were happy to support the motion with an amendment to stop anybody dumping toxic waste in Northern Ireland.

Councillors, Shields, McAnespy and Deehan all welcomed the motion, with Councillor Deehan describing the prospect of a disposal facility for nuclear waste in the country as “chilling”…….. https://www.impartialreporter.com/news/17495254.councillors-back-motion-to-oppose-dumping-of-nuclear-waste/

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Ireland, politics international, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

The merits of letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, for now

Nuclear North Korea Can Keep Its Weapons, Kim Jong-un may not be willing to denuclearize now, but it’s possible that his calculations could change after some trust has been established and Pyongyang’s relations with its neighbors have become more productive.

National Interest, 20 Mar 111119,  Daniel R. DePetris Follow @DanDePetris on Twitter   Over two weeks removed from a U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi that concluded without even a minor agreement to meet again, North Korean vice foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had some pointed remarks for the Trump administration during a March 15 news briefing in Pyongyang. While she notably left President Donald Trump out of her critiques, Choe tore apart his negotiating team as inept and insincere charlatans worried more about politics than making a mutually-acceptable deal. She accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton of deliberately sabotaging the talks with a hardline approach. She questioned why U.S. negotiators let a good opportunity slip from their fingers. And she was unapologetic about Pyongyang’s position, calling its demand for a relaxation of some of the most stringent UN Security Council sanctions a fair payment for the closure of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear research center.

Then came the kicker: Kim Jong-un, Choe said, may decide to suspend the talks with Washington altogether. “On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said. “For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?” she told the room . “I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the United States will eventually put the situation in danger. We have neither the intention to compromise with the United States in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.”

Secretary Pompeo brushed aside the comments the next morning at the State Department, calling them all part of the song-and-dance of high-stakes diplomacy. Coming on the heels of a report in the Washington Post detailing confusion in the Trump administration about how it should proceed post–Hanoi and during a period of increased murmuring on Capitol Hill for additional sanctions on the North Korean economy, the current negotiations appear to be incredibly vulnerable to an irrevocably break.

Trump has three general options going forward. Option one would be to persist with what can best be described as the John Bolton model, where Washington continues to demand immediate, full, and complete nuclear disarmament from Kim in exchange for economic sanctions relief and diplomatic normalization later on. Option two would be the status quo, but with more sanctions slapped on the North Koreans in the hope that more restrictive banking measures and oil quotas will coerce Kim into desperately returning to the table in a far weaker position.

As was vividly demonstrated in Hanoi, the first choice is a road to nowhere—one that would not only eliminate whatever diplomatic opening was available but could very well result in a confrontation neither the United States or North Korea wants. The second choice will likely miss the mark too; as the latest comprehensive report from the Security Council panel of experts dutifully documents, the Kim regime is a master at sanctions evasion. Previous sanctions regimes on North Korea have been regarded as ineffective by UN monitors, and there is no evidence that more Security Council resolutions would be any more impactful on Kim’s wallet than the dozen that came before it (China can single-handedly render sanctions moot). Indeed, if Pyongyang can find loopholes in the three strongest Security Council resolutions enacted since 2017, then it can find loopholes in the fourth.

Fortunately, there is a third option.

For the past quarter-century, U.S. policy has been centered on denuclearization-for-peace. In this policy, the Kim regime can only have peaceful relations with the United States and become a full valve in East Asia’s economic engine if it gives up each and every last nut and bolt of its weapon of mass destruction program—including its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. Successive U.S. administrations have operated on the same paradigm ever since the North Korean nuclear issue became a top U.S. national-security concern. The only difference across the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations is the negotiating tactics each administration has used to persuade North Korea to denuclearize. ……….

Rather than denuclearization before peace, the Trump administration should shake up the playbook and reverse the order. Just because the Kim regime will remain nuclear-capable for the foreseeable future does not mean the United States and its allies in South Korea and Japan should have a perpetually hostile relationship with the North. If Washington dealt with a nuclear-capable Soviet Union, China, and Pakistan with cordiality, then Washington can do the same with a nuclear North Korea.

This does not mean the United States has to accept Pyongyang’s nuclear status, its human rights abuses, its illicit arms sales, or its cyberhacking—none of which are conducive to acceptable international behavior. If U.S. security, political, or economic interests are directly at stake, then the Trump administration should not hesitate to defend them.

What this change in approach does require, however, is a Washington that is finally prepared to end its daily fixation on short or even medium-term North Korean nuclear disarmament at the cost of everything else, including an inter-Korean reconciliation process that—if taken to its fruitful conclusion—would lessen the hostility on the Korean Peninsula considerably……..

As a country infinitely stronger and more resourceful than North Korea, the United States can afford to wait for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. What the United States should no longer wait for, though, is an end to seventy years of animosity.

Daniel R. DePetris is a foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative and a frequent contributor to the National Interest. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/nuclear-north-korea-can-keep-its-weapons-48342

March 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

UK pledges to fully fund EU nuclear-fusion facility

Britain will pay £60 million to keep the Joint European Torus near Oxford running if negotiations to continue EU funding stall. Nature, Elizabeth Gibney, 20 Mar19,

The UK government has said that it will step in to pay for a European Union-funded nuclear-fusion laboratory near Oxford after 29 March, if European cash cannot be agreed in the next ten days.

The Joint European Torus (JET) laboratory currently has only a short-term funding contract with the European Commission, which will run out on 28 March, the day before Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union. Until now, JET has received around 88% of its funding from EU sources, and the remainder from the United Kingdom. Negotiations with the EU to agree a new contract to fund the facility until the end of 2020 are ongoing, but have stalled in part because of uncertainty over Brexit.

In a statement to Parliament on 13 March, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond promised to front up to £60 million (US$80 million) to run the JET in 2019–20, should no new agreement be reached in time.

The £60 million would cover the whole of the lab’s 2019–20 budget, says Ian Chapman, chief executive of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy near Oxford, which hosts JET. Chapman says that the pledge is effectively an “insurance policy”: he is still optimistic that a contract with the EU will be signed in time, and that the commission will continue to fund JET in the long term. “It’s not the intention on either side for [JET] to become a UK facility. This is to make sure we’re covered and operations continue in every eventuality,” he says. ……

Unless the deal is passed by Parliament, or Brexit is delayed, the United Kingdom will leave the EU without a deal. Although it would be possible for the bloc to keep funding JET in a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it is unclear whether this would happen. A UK government spokesperson said that the funding for JET would come from existing funds earmarked for science. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00930-3

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, technology, UK | 1 Comment

Indian military confirms deployment of nuclear subs amid rising tensions with Pakistan

AMN By News Desk2019-03-17  Tensions between the two nuclear-armed Asian powers escalated last month, after an incursion into Pakistani territory in Kashmir by Indian Air Force warplanes to strike at Jihadist militants led to skirmishes in the air and small arms and artillery fire along the shaky Line of Control border.

Major combat units of the Indian Navy including the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier-led battle group, nuclear submarines “and scores of other ships, submarines and aircraft” were quickly shifted from exercises to operational deployment as tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad escalated, India’s Ministry of Defence revealed in a statement Sunday……..

Earlier Sunday, sources speaking to Reuters reportedly said that India and Pakistan had threatened to lob nuclear missiles at each other during the crisis and that only US officials’ intervention helped to defuse what may have well turned into a much deadlier conflict. ……

Tensions continue to smolder, with regular reports of airspace violations, military drills held in the sensitive border area, and back and forth allegations of ceasefire violations amid small arms and artillery fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/indian-military-confirms-deployment-of-nuclear-subs-amid-rising-tensions-with-pakistan/

March 18, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scotland’s First Minister refused to meet Australian Aboriginal nuclear waste protestor – for political reasons

Gaffe reveals why Sturgeon refused to meet nuclear waste protestor    https://theferret.scot/sturgeon-nuclear-waste-protestor/  James McEnaney on March 14, 2019 The Scottish Government has mistakenly revealed that Nicola Sturgeon refused to meet an Aboriginal nuclear waste protestor in an attempt to avoid political damage – not because she was too busy, as her officials said. 

Internal emails uncovered by The Ferret reveal that the First Minister was advised to turn down a request for a meeting in 2018 so as not to become a “focus for criticism”. But officials said the public reason given for her refusal would be “on the standard basis of diary pressures”.

Campaigners reacted with sadness, saying that the Scottish Government’s “ears are closed”. The government stressed that it had “very limited scope” to address the issues raised.

Nuclear fuel was sent from an Australian research reactor to Dounreay on the north coast of Scotland for reprocessing in the 1990s. The resulting radioactive waste, amounting to 51 cemented drums, was originally due to be returned to Australia for disposal.

But under the terms of a waste substitution deal in 2014, Scottish and UK governments agreed that the drums should stay at Dounreay. Instead, the plan is to send four containers of “radiologically equivalent” waste to Australia from the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria.

Two sites have been identified for a planned store for the waste in south Australia – Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker, and Kimber – both of which face opposition from indigenous communities. The Ferret reported in February that Scottish ministers had been advised that they had powers to prevent the waste being exported to protect human rights.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Top general opposes U.S. plan for ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine

Top general opposes shift to ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/14/dunford-oppose-shift-no-first-use-nuclear-doctrine/  – The Washington Times – Thursday, March 14, 2019

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came out forcefully against a change in U.S. military policy which say the U.S. would not be the first to use nuclear weapons on a conflict with an adversary.

The “no first use” policy has been embraced by several Democratic candidates running for president in 2020, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who co-sponsored a bill in January that would establish in law that the U.S. would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

But Gen. Joseph Dunford told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that “I absolutely believe that the current policy is the right policy.”

The Pentagon has long resisted adopting a blanket “no first use” doctrine in its nuclear strategy.

“I wouldn’t make any decisions to simplify an adversary’s decision-making calculus,” Gen. Dunford told lawmakers. “I can also imagine a few situations where we wouldn’t want to remove that option from the president.”

March 16, 2019 Posted by | politics international, United Arab Emirates, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A nuclear nightmare is brewing between India and Pakistan

March 12, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The US has hardened its position on North Korea- the influence of John Bolton?

A top US diplomat just laid out the new approach to North Korea. It’s doomed.

Stephen Biegun told a Washington audience that “we are not going to do denuclearization incrementally.”Vox, By The top US diplomat tasked with negotiating with North Korea just laid out a denuclearization plan that’s destined to fail.

above – John Bolton 

In his first public comments since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Vietnam last month, Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, told a Washington audience Monday that the administration wants Pyongyang to give up all of its weapons of mass destruction before anything else.

“We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally,” the envoy said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear conference. “The foundation of US policy is denuclearization.”

But it’s not just nuclear weapons: The Trump administration also wants the complete removal of chemical and biological weapons from North Korea, Biegun said, meaning the US wants Pyongyang only to have conventional weapons by the end of the process.

Let’s be extremely clear about what this means: If the US maintains this position, any chance for the US to convince North Korea to part with its nuclear arsenal is gone.

Pyongyang for years has said that the only way it would consider giving up its nuclear weapons is through a step-by-step process where both sides offer reciprocal, commensurate concessions. By resolving smaller disagreements, like lifting sanctions in exchange for the closure of an important nuclear facility, over time the US and North Korea would eventually arrive at the grand prize: the end of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

But Biegun said the US won’t do that. Instead, the Trump administration wants to see North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal before it offers any economic or diplomatic benefits. That’s just not going to work, experts say.

The US has hardened its position on North Korea………..

It’s unclear why the US position has changed so starkly. One of the main theories is that National Security Adviser John Bolton, a noted North Korea hardliner, has gained more power in the negotiation process. ……… the US now openly holds an “all or nothing” stance toward North Korea. And if that’s the case, the talks are doomedhttps://www.vox.com/world/2019/3/11/18260024/north-korea-stephen-biegun-nuclear-trump-kim-bolton

March 12, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Hanoi nuclear summit: Where were the women?

Hanoi Summit: Where were the women?Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  By Rachel Emond, March 7, 2019 Based on the pictures from the second Trump-Kim summit, it looks like the women who spent the most time in the room where the leaders met were the interpreters.

This is a far cry from previous administrations that had women running or helping to run nuclear negotiations—Madeleine AlbrightCondoleezza RiceWendy Sherman, and Rose Gottemoeller, to name a few.

No doubt, there were women present at the margins in Hanoi. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was in the room with Vietnamese officials when the Trump administration pitched arms exports from the United States to their hosts. Kim Yo-jong—Kim Jong-un’s younger sister—was spotted holding an ashtray for the North Korean leader and mostly stayed not more than a few feet from her brother throughout the summit. Other women were serving in support roles back in Washington, but that’s not the same as being at the table.

So who are the women that have been most involved in the Trump-Kim summit process so far?……..

By excluding women from active negotiating roles, Washington and Pyongyang reduced their possible chances for success. There is no excuse for this, as there are scores of women experts on North Korea nuclear policy, and more who focus on the peace process. For example, Women Cross DMZ—a group of female activists working to achieve a peaceful end to the Korean conflict—places a special emphasis on the role that women should play in peace negotiations. Their philosophy is not baseless. According to research, peace agreements that are signed by women feature higher-quality content and higher rates of implementation than those not signed by women, and therefore lead to longer-lasting agreements. On the whole, women are also more likely to insist that parties stay at the table until an agreement is made. There were a lot of factors that played into the outcome (or lack thereof) of the summit in Hanoi, but to ensure future success, leaders in Washington and Pyongyang should think about bringing more women to the next negotiations. …… https://thebulletin.org/2019/03/hanoi-summit-where-were-the-women/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=WomenatSummit_030720

March 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war, Women | Leave a comment

Need for a prcactical treaty to cap and eliminate nuclear cruise missiles

Nuclear ‘cruise control’ can stop a spiraling new arms race, The Hill, The genius of the mortally wounded Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was that it sharply reduced the risk of nuclear war. It made Europe more secure by eliminating an entire class of surprise-attack nuclear weapons designed for use on its territory. We are now on a glide path to repeat the existential nightmare that such weapons created.Russia and the United States once again are investing heavily in sea-, air- and ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles, and talking cavalierly about using them in “limited,” “low-yield” nuclear attacks. What makes this type of nuclear weapon so dangerous is that it can be launched without warning in decapitating sneak attacks.

These cruise missiles also can be armed with conventional explosives, and there is no way to distinguish nuclear from non-nuclear ones when they are in flight. Such ambiguity erases the line between conventional and nuclear weapons, and increases the likelihood of accidental Armageddon. This is precisely why, in 1987, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev urgently made progress in eliminating them.

We can, and must, seek to repeat their historic achievement today. We need to remember that arms control is not a pollyannaish exercise, but rather a potent tool of hard national security……….

Recently, Russia’s top arms control diplomat said Russia stands ready for talks on a possible successor to the INF Treaty. “We are ready for dialogue,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “If the U.S. is interested, it should spell out its proposal.”

Since it appears nobody has done so, let’s spell it out. Our next agreement should focus less on overall numbers and, instead, seek to cap and eliminate the single most dangerous and destabilizing class of nuclear weapons: all nuclear-tipped cruise missiles of any range. We should start “cruise control” negotiations bilaterally between the United States and Russia, and leave room for other countries that have not yet deployed such systems — including China, India and Pakistan — to join now or later.

For three years, my colleagues and I have been laying the groundwork for such an ambitious global effort to cap and eliminate nuclear cruise missiles. In private talks with current and former senior officials from the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Germany, Japan and other key countries, we have found broad support and enthusiasm for this approach.   ……… https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/433075-nuclear-cruise-control-can-stop-a-spiraling-new-arms-race

March 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment