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Swedish accusations against Assange – always a political motive on behalf of USA

We need to ask ourselves why the focus is not on the crimes perpetrated by those involved in war crimes. Why is an Australian citizen being subjected to US espionage laws even though he was never on US soil? More importantly, why should an Australian citizen have allegiance to the US?

Australia and the Morrison government now face the stark choice. Do we defend an Australian citizen facing rendition and an effective death sentence, because of Trump – a President facing impeachment. Or do we abandon him?

The Swedish case against Assange was always political,  https://www.theage.com.au/national/the-swedish-case-against-assange-was-always-political-20191120-p53cgs.html,By Greg Barns and Alysia Brooks, November 20, 2019 It is almost a decade since Julian Assange woke to discover, on the front page of a Swedish newspaper, that Swedish authorities had decided to pursue him on allegations of sexual misconduct. Immediately, Julian presented himself to the police station to make a statement and clear his name. After speaking with prosecutors, he was told he could leave the country; so he did.

It was only after his arrival in London that an Interpol notice was issued for his arrest. In the meantime, Assange sought and was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy on the grounds that he would be subjected to grave human rights abuses should he be extradited to the US. Despite years of his legal team requesting that Swedish authorities provide assurances that he would not be extradited onwards to the US, the opportunity for Assange to formally clear his name was never afforded to him. Nor was the right to the presumption of innocence. Many in the media still falsely claim that charges were laid. It was trial by media.
The political nature of the Swedish case became apparent from the beginning. As early as 2013, emails from the UK Crown Prosecution Service, released under Freedom of Information, demonstrated that the prosecutors wanted to drop the case. However, pressure was placed on them to keep it open – and they were told not to get “cold feet”. The London-based organisation Women Against Rape point out that the case was pursued with “unusual zeal” and concluded it was only  pursued for the simple fact that he has uncovered war crimes.
Let’s make one thing clear, any sexual misconduct allegations should be treated seriously. But, as Women Against Rape and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture point out, this case was never about protecting the women involved; it was about ensuring the focus was kept off the war crimes that  WikiLeaks exposed, and assassinating Assange’s character.
The decision now to drop the investigation is welcome news for Assange and his legal team, and removes the possibility of extradition from Sweden to the US. However, the fact remains that an Australian citizen is being pursued by the Trump administration for political purposes and is facing serious human rights violations if extradited to the US.

Currently, Assange is held on remand in Belmarsh prison, in conditions that are exacerbating his already fragile health, and impeding his ability to prepare his defence. He is facing unprecedented charges under the US Espionage Act, for allegedly carrying out actions that journalists and publishers engage in as a part of their work. He is facing 175 years – an effective death sentence – for allegedly engaging in journalism.

And let’s not forget the material that was exposed by WikiLeaks. The releases included evidence of war crimes, including torture and unlawful killings, perpetrated during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the Guantanamo files, which demonstrated that the majority of men, and children, were being held and tortured at the prison, even though they were innocent of any crime.

We need to ask ourselves why the focus is not on the crimes perpetrated by those involved in war crimes. Why is an Australian citizen being subjected to US espionage laws even though he was never on US soil? More importantly, why should an Australian citizen have allegiance to the US?

Australia and the Morrison government now face the stark choice. Do we defend an Australian citizen facing rendition and an effective death sentence, because of Trump – a President facing impeachment. Or do we abandon him?

Greg Barns is a barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign. Dr Alysia Brooks is a human rights and due process advocate.

November 21, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, politics international, Sweden, UK | Leave a comment

Desperate times for the nuclear industry – could Australia be its saviour?

the number one goal of the nuclear lobby is to remove Australia’s national and state laws that prohibit the nuclear industry.

the campaign by the global nuclear industry, particularly the American industry, to kickstart another “nuclear renaissance”, before it’s too late.

Australia is the great ‘white’ hope for the global nuclear industry, Independent Australia, By Noel Wauchope | 19 November 2019, The global nuclear industry is in crisis but that doesn’t stop the pro-nuclear lobby from peddling exorbitantly expensive nuclear as a “green alternative”. Noel Wauchope reports.

The global nuclear industry is in crisis. Well, in the Western world, anyway. It is hard to get a clear picture of  Russia and China, who appear to be happy putting developing nations into debt, as they market their nuclear reactors overseas with very generous loans — it helps to have stte-owned companies funding this effort.

But when it comes to Western democracies, where the industry is supposed to be commercially viable, there’s trouble. The latest news from S&P Global Ratings has made it plain: nuclear power can survive only with massive tax-payer support. Existing large nuclear  reactors need subsidies to continue, while the expense of building new ones has scared off investors.

So, for the nuclear lobby, ultimate survival seems to depend on developing and mass marketing “Generation IV” small and medium reactors (SMRs). …..

for the U.S. marketers, Australia, as a politically stable English-speaking ally, is a particularly desirable target. Australia’s geographic situation has advantages. One is the possibility of making Australia a hub for taking in radioactive wastes from South-East Asian countries. That’s a long-term goal of the global nuclear lobby.   …..

In particular, small nuclear reactors are marketed for submarines. That’s especially important now, as a new type of non-nuclear submarine – the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarine, faster and much cheaper – could be making nuclear submarines obsolete. The Australian nuclear lobby is very keen on nuclear submarines: they are now promoting SMRs with propagandists such as Heiko Timmers, from Australian National University. This is an additional reason why Australia is the great white hope.

I use the word “white” advisedly here because Australia has a remarkable history of distrust and opposition to this industry form Indigenous Australians…..

The hunt for a national waste dump site is one problematic side of the nuclear lobby’s push for Australia. While accepted international policy on nuclear waste storage is that the site should be as near as possible to the point of production, the Australian Government’s plan is to set up a temporary site for nuclear waste, some 1700 km from its production at Lucas Heights. The other equally problematic issue is how to gain political and public support for the industry, which is currently banned by both Federal and state laws. SMR companies like NuScale are loath to spend money on winning hearts and minds in Australia while nuclear prohibition laws remain.

Ziggy Switkowski, a long-time promoter of the nuclear industry, has now renewed this campaign — although he covers himself well, in case it all goes bad, noting that nuclear energy for Australia could be a “catastrophic failure“. ……

his submission (No. 41) to the current Federal Inquiry into nuclear power sets out only one aim, that

‘… all obstacles … be removed to the consideration of nuclear power as part of the national energy strategy debate.’

So the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) should be changed, according to Switkowski. In an article in The Australian, NSW State Liberal MP Taylor Martin suggested that the Federal and state laws be changed to prohibit existing forms of nuclear power technology but to allow small modular reactors.

Switkowski makes it clear that the number one goal of the nuclear lobby is to remove Australia’s national and state laws that prohibit the nuclear industry. And, from reading many pro-nuclear submissions to the Federal Inquiry, this emerges as their most significant aim.

It does not appear that the Australian public is currently all agog about nuclear power. So, it does seem a great coincidence that so many of their representatives in parliaments – Federal, VictorianNew South WalesSouth Australia and members of a new party in Western Australia – are now advocating nuclear inquiries, leading to the repeal of nuclear prohibition laws.

We can only conclude that this new, seemingly coincidental push to overturn Australia’s nuclear prohibition laws, is in concert with the push for a national nuclear waste dump in rural South Australia — part of the campaign by the global nuclear industry, particularly the American industry, to kickstart another “nuclear renaissance”, before it’s too late.

Despite its relatively small population, Australia does “punch above its weight” in terms of its international reputation and as a commercial market. The repeal of Australia’s laws banning the nuclear industry would be a very significant symbol for much-needed new credibility for the pro-nuclear lobby. It would open the door for a clever publicity drive, no doubt using “action on climate change” as the rationale for developing nuclear power.

In the meantime, Australia has abundant natural resources for sun, wind and wave energy, and could become a leader in the South-East Asian region for developing and exporting renewable energy — a much quicker and more credible way to combat global warming. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australia-is-the-great-white-hope-for-the-global-nuclear-industry,13326

November 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, marketing, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

As negotiation deadline nears, tension between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump

Trump, Kim at odds as deadline looms in nuclear talks, Glen Carey and Jihye Lee, Bloomberg, November 18, 2019 

The bonhomie between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is nearing a key deadline showing new signs of strain.

Trump urged Kim over the weekend to “act quickly” to get a nuclear deal done, suggesting the two leaders could meet again “soon.” His comments came hours after North Korea ruled out nuclear talks without a policy change by the U.S. and reported on a military drill observed by Kim himself.

Veteran North Korea nuclear adviser, Kim Kye Gwan, told Trump that Pyongyang will no longer give him “things to boast about,” the state’s official KCNA news agency on Monday quoted him as saying. He added North Korea is no longer interested in talks that the U.S. “uses to buy time.”

Trump and Kim Jong Un, who have previously displayed what Pyongyang calls “mysteriously wonderful chemistry,” appear to be going in different directions as the clock ticks down. Kim has given Trump until the end of the year to ease up on sanctions or risk him taking a “new path,” meaning a possible escalation of military tensions during the U.S. presidential campaign…….

After more than a year of talks and three Trump-Kim meetings, the two sides remain divided on issues from sanctions relief to disarmament. Even though North Korea hasn’t taken any major steps to give up its weapons, Kim has won concessions from Trump that include canceling some U.S.-South Korean joint military drills that have drawn Pyongyang’s anger.

North Korea hasn’t explained what Kim intends to do on his “new path,” although the regime has often referred to his decision to halt tests of nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles two years ago. In May, North Korea resumed tests of shorter-range ballistic missiles.,,,,,,,

The North Korea warning about U.S. nuclear talks came despite the U.S.’s decision to suspend another round of military drills with South Korea. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on the sidelines of a regional security conference that Washington and Seoul had “jointly decided to postpone this month’s combined flying training event” after “close consultation and careful consideration.”

Pyongyang last week blamed U.S.-South Korean military drills “as a main factor of screwing up tensions.”

https://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Trump-Kim-at-odds-as-deadline-looms-in-nuclear-14842752.php

November 18, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea issues warning on nuclear negotiations deadline

North Korea warns U.S. will face ‘harsh suffering’ if nuclear deadline passes, Market Watch, Nov 13, 2019,  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un imposed an end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks with the United States.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s supreme decision-making body lashed out Wednesday at planned U.S.-South Korean military drills and warned that the United States will face a “bigger threat and harsh suffering” if it ignores North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks.

In a statement carried by state media, an unidentified spokesperson for the North’s State Affairs Commission said the drills would violate agreements between Kim and President Donald Trump on improving bilateral relations and compel North Korea to raise its war readiness.

Kim is chairman of the commission, which he established in 2016 following years of efforts to consolidate his power and centralize governance.

The statement is North Korea’s latest expression of displeasure over the military drills and slow pace of nuclear negotiations with Washington. The talks have stalled over disagreements on disarmament steps and sanctions relief.

North Korea has also ramped up its missile tests in recent months and experts say it is likely to continue weapons displays to pressure Washington as Kim’s deadline nears for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal.

The spokesperson said annual U.S.-South Korea military drills are continuing to cause a “vicious cycle” in relations between the U.S. and North Korea……  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/north-korea-warns-us-will-face-harsh-suffering-if-nuclear-deadline-passes-2019-11-13

November 16, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

European Union struggles to preserve Iran nuclear deal

November 16, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

US- North Korea negotiations may be revived

November 16, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Jared Kushner’s, Donald Trump’s secretive meetings with Saudi Arabia, Putin, Kim Jong Un

JARED KUSHNER, DONALD TRUMP BROKE THE LAW BY MEETING SAUDIS, PUTIN, KIM OFF THE RECORD: WATCHDOGS  https://www.newsweek.com/jared-kushner-donald-trump-broke-law-saudis-putin-kim-1418596

BY JESSICA KWONG ON 5/7/19 President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner have been accused of breaking the law by failing to keep records of their meetings with foreign government officials including Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and top Saudi officials.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Trump and the executive office of the president, the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleged that White House officials including the president and Kushner seem to have violated the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act by intentionally neglecting to create and keep records of meetings with Putin and Kim, among other foreign officials.

“There are a lot of questions surrounding Jared Kushner and the extent to which he, like the president, has an agenda that also serves his own personal and family business interests,” CREW’s chief FOIA counsel Anne Weismann told Newsweek on Tuesday.

The suit cites news reports that Trump had at least five different meetings with Putin with no notetaker in the room, meaning an official record of the meeting does not exist. Trump also confiscated a State Department interpreter’s notes after meeting with Putin in Germany, and had a private meeting with Kim in Vietnam with two interpreters but no record was produced, according to the suit.

In addition, the suit raises a recent meeting Kushner had with top Saudi officials that did not include State Department officials, and from which no record was created.

“The absence of records in these circumstances when the President and his top advisers are exercising core constitutional and statutory powers causes real, incalculable harm to our national security and the ability of our government to effectively conduct foreign policy,” the suit states, “Because the documentary record of this administration’s foreign policy regarding Russia, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia will be unavailable to policy makers and forever lost to history.”

Weismann said Kushner—whom Trump tasked with creating a supposedly soon-to-be-released Middle East peace plan—is meeting with very sophisticated and possibly adversarial foreign leaders and “that alone raises concerns.”

“He may be compromising American interests in ways that we don’t know about,” Weismann said. “Even if he’s not acting to pursue his business or financial interests, he doesn’t come to the job with experience in foreign relations.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Tuesday.

Co-plaintiffs in the suit are the National Security Archive and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, which has nearly 1,000 members.

“The problem goes beyond improperly shredding records, to the deliberate failure to create the records in the first place,” stated Tom Blanton, director of the archive, which has sued past presidents who failed to keep records.

Neglecting to make and preserve records “undermines the principle of government accountability that is the very bedrock of democracy,” the historians society president Barbara Keys stated.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s father comes to Ireland, Europe, to campaign for his son’s release

Will you come and help?’ Father of Julian Assange on campaign to free his son, Irish Examiner,  MICHAEL CLIFFORD  November 09, 2019    At 80, John Shipton thought he would be enjoying his retirement, he tells Michael Clifford. Instead, he is touring European capitals campaigning for his son, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

A parent’s work is never done. John Shipton entering his ninth decade. He’d like to kick back, maybe learn a few recipes, stroll at a leisurely pace towards the declining years.

But his son needs him. His son’s health is in serious danger and his future looks dark, with the prospect of spending decades, if not the remainder of his life, in prison.

His son is Julian Assange. It’s a name that is familiar to most people, although many would, at this remove, find it difficult to couple his celebrity standing with his talent or achievement.

Assange is an Australian who has been a serious thorn in the side of the powerful. His Wikileaks organisation was responsible for disseminating information that showed what exactly the US and its allies were getting up to in foreign wars.

Wikileaks exposed war crimes. It was the receptor for whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s treasure trove of documents that painted a picture of torture and maltreatment by US forces in Iraq, among other crimes.

Vanity Fair described the resultant stories as “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years… they have changed the way people think about how the world is run”…….

Assange is a category B prisoner, which means he’s not considered an immediate danger to fellow human beings or society in general, but his conditions of detention are still onerous.

“He’s locked up 22 or 23 hours a day,” his father says. “It’s a grade A maximum security prison. Because those in it are treated like terrorists, that’s what Julian is being subjected to.”

Shipton was in Dublin recently on a flying visit that now forms part of his current “job”. That entails lobbying, meeting, and publicising on behalf of his son. Shipton is on a tour of European capitals trying to round up support……

Assange is in a bad way, there is no doubt about that. Both physically and psychologically, his condition is deteriorating. The prison conditions are onerous but they come following eight years cooked up in the embassy, at times under serious stress. The day before arriving in Dublin Shipton had been in to see his son.

“As you would expect after nine years of persecution, he’s a bit down in the dumps,” he says.

“The report of the UN rapporteur on torture says it all really, pointing out that he has every sign of having suffered torture with both physical and mental results…..

The UN rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, did visit Assange with two doctors in June in Belmarch and were highly condemnatory of the conditions in which he was being kept.

Last week, Melzer issued a further statement, saying Assange’s life was at risk and that he must not be extradited to the US as a consequence of “exposing serious governmental misconduct”…..

Melzer goes further and offers an opinion on what is driving the harsh treatment.

“In my view, this case has never been about Mr Assange’s guilt or innocence, but about making him pay the price for exposing serious governmental misconduct, including alleged war crimes and corruption,” he says. “Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”…..

Since coming to power, Trump has railed against many forms of the free press. And his government has requested Assange’s extradition to stand trial for spying.

If he is extradited, his father doesn’t have much confidence in the prospects of a fair trial.

“The espionage law courts are held in Elizabeth, Virginia,” says Shipton. “It’s a town where all the constituents are from the intelligence community. Every judgement in the espionage courts they say just go to jail. It’s not theoretical. If he’s tried he will go to jail.”

The next hearing on extradition isn’t scheduled until February and on the basis that he previously did skip bail while awaiting an extradition hearing he is unlikely to get bail. For his family and close friends, the most immediate issue is his health rather than the political and legal vortex into which he has been drawn.

At a recent court appearance on October 21, he was described by eyewitnesses as appearing “distressed and disorientated”.

He is subject to a legal process, but few could argue that it is anything more than political. Assange published leaked material. In that he was performing an act of journalism.

Manning, for instance, was prosecuted and served seven years of what was originally a 35-year sentence. But Assange’s role was that of publisher.

Much of Wikileaks most serious material was presented in collaboration with leading global newspapers, including the New York Times and The Guardian.

His father believes that the attack on the press through Assange is not fully appreciated.

“It’s in the self interests of all journalists and news corporations to ensure that this is fought,” he says…… https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/views/analysis/michael-clifford/will-you-come-and-help-father-of-julian-assange-on-campaign-to-free-his-son-962776.html

November 11, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel

US and Israel were lone votes against UN resolutions opposing space arms race, nuclear Middle East, Cuba embargo, The United States and Israel were the only countries that voted against UN General Assembly draft resolutions calling for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, measures to stop an arms race in outer space, and an end to the blockade of Cuba. THE GRAYZONE, By Ben Norton, 11 Nov 19,

Important breakthroughs have arrived at the United Nations seeking to prevent an arms race in outer space and create a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. There are just two main obstacles: the United States and Israel.

While Washington and corporate media outlets portray China and Russia as aggressive warmongering rogue states, their votes at the UN show which nations are actually expanding dangerous militarism into new frontiers.

China and Russia joined dozens of other countries in sponsoring resolutions at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that sought to prevent armed conflict in space. Most of the international community supported these historic peace measures. The only consistent outliers were the US and Israel.

Beijing and Moscow have been leading global efforts to stop the use of weapons in space. Meanwhile, Washington has unilaterally blocked the international consensus on preventing the deadly space race.

Moreover, as nearly all UN member states have united in calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, the US and Israel have singlehandedly undermined their peace efforts.

This roguish behavior predates the election of President Donald Trump.

At the UNGA on November 7, almost every country in the world also voted to end the US embargo against Cuba. This was the 28th year in row that the international community united in calling for the American noose to be taken off the neck of the Cuban people.

While 187 member states supported the resolution demanding an end to the blockade, the US, Israel, and Brazil’s far-right government were the lone nations to oppose it. American allies Colombia and Ukraine abstained.

Washington’s UN votes show who truly is a rogue state.

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel

The UNGA’s First Committee, which oversees disarmament and international security, voted on November 1 to overwhelmingly approve a draft resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.”

A staggering 172 countries voted in support of this resolution. Only two nations voted against it: the US and Israel. Just two more countries abstained: the United Kingdom and Cameroon.

At the same meeting, the First Committee approved a draft resolution on “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,” which called for the region to abide by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Given Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, the UNGA resolution called on Tel Aviv to join the NPT (Israel has long refused to sign the treaty), and demanded that Israeli nuclear facilities be overseen by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

The draft resolution was also overwhelmingly approved, with 151 votes in support and a mere six votes against — from the US, Israel, and Canada, along with the tiny island nations of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, which function as vassals of Washington at the UN.

American and Israeli votes against resolutions to prevent an arms race in outer space…….https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/08/us-israel-un-resolutions-space-arms-race-nuclear/

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Israel, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

: The nuclear dimension of US security assistance to Ukraine

November 4, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

U.S. renews support for foreign companies working with Iran’s nuclear program 

U.S. renews support for foreign companies working with Iran’s nuclear program  CBS News, 1 Nov Washington — The Trump administration is keeping alive one of the last remaining components of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by extending sanctions waivers that allow foreign companies to work with Iran’s civilian nuclear program without U.S. penalties.

The waivers had been due to expire Tuesday but were extended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for another 90 days. The extensions were not announced until Thursday.

Pompeo has been a champion of President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the move “will help preserve oversight of Iran’s civil nuclear program, reduce proliferation risks, constrain Iran’s ability to shorten its ‘breakout time’ to a nuclear weapon, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites for proliferation-sensitive purposes.”

Pompeo also announced new sanctions on Iran’s construction sector, which he determines to be under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC was designated earlier this year as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Mr. Trump withdrew last year from the nuclear deal and has steadily ramped up sanctions on Iran that had been eased under the agreement. But the so-called “civilian nuclear cooperation” waivers will permit European, Russian and Chinese companies to continue to work at Iranian civilian nuclear facilities……https://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-renews-support-for-foreign-companies-working-with-irans-nuclear-program/

November 4, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

African countries being conned into nuclear debt, by Russia

African countries rush to sign nuclear deals with Russia, Daily Maverick By Peter Fabricius• 29 October 2019

But concerns are being raised about whether they can all afford nuclear energy.

The Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with about 18 African counties, as Russia accelerates its drive for nuclear business on the continent.

The growing commitment of African countries to high capital cost nuclear energy has raised some concern about whether they are committing themselves to unaffordable debt.

Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev revealed a large number of nuclear agreements with African countries after signing an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the Ethiopian Minister of Innovation and Technology, Getahun Mekuria Kuma, during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on the Black Sea last week.

Mekuria later told the Russian official news agency Tass that Ethiopia had plants to build a nuclear power plant.

Rosatom later also signed an agreement with Rwanda at the summit on cooperation for the construction of a centre of nuclear science and technology in Rwanda. Rosatom had a strong presence at the economic forum which paralleled the political summit. The Rosatom stand attracted scores of interested African government officials on the sidelines of the forum. …..

Likhachev told journalists after the discussion that Rosatom had now signed memoranda of understanding or intergovernmental agreements with about one-third of countries on the continent – about 18. He could not say how many of these were about scientific cooperation and how many were about producing nuclear energy “because very often those two tracks go hand in hand”.

But he did say in the discussion that about half of the African countries with which Rosatom had signed nuclear agreements were actively discussing joint projects with the corporation, which had been stipulated in contracts. The most advanced joint project is with Egypt, which has contracted Rosatom to build a 4,800MW nuclear power plant……

“We are ready to propose to Ethiopia cutting-edge solutions of nuclear technology. And our Ethiopian partners are invited to visit nuclear facilities in our country.

“Apart from larger capacity nuclear power plants, we also stand ready to offer smaller capacity, modular reactors.”

……..However, the apparent rush to nuclear energy by African countries has raised some concerns that they may be committing themselves to high capital costs of nuclear power production which they will be unable to afford.

Analysts have noted that even South Africa, one of the top two economies on the continent, backed away from an apparent commitment by former president Jacob Zuma to order 9,600MW of nuclear power plant production from Rosatom – at an estimated cost of about R1-trillion.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said after meeting Putin on the sidelines of the summit that the Russian president had once again asked him if South Africa was still interested in building a nuclear power plant and he had told him once again that it still could not afford to.

An African minister at the summit told Daily Maverick that although power plants could be an important source of economic growth, African countries were sinking further into debt and had to be careful to ensure they could afford the infrastructure they built.

Likhachev defended nuclear energy as an economical source of electricity over the long term. ……….

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwandan minister in charge of the East African community  would not be drawn on the cost and affordability implications, saying the details of the agreement would be announced in due course. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-10-29-african-countries-rush-to-sign-nuclear-deals-with-russia/

October 31, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Argentina’s Grossi chosen to head UN nuclear agency

Argentina’s Grossi chosen to head UN nuclear agency, Star Tribune, Associated Press, OCTOBER 29, 2019  
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors selected Grossi as its new director general. The appointment still requires the formal approval of the IAEA’s general conference, in which all of the nuclear watchdog’s 171 member countries are represented……

The new director general is due to start his four-year term by Jan. 1 and will be the IAEA’s sixth since the agency was founded in 1957.

Amano, a Japanese diplomat who died in July at age 72, was extensively involved in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and the cleanup of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.  http://www.startribune.com/argentina-s-grossi-chosen-to-head-un-nuclear-agency/564030732/

October 31, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

China Rejects Policy of Nuclear Launch on Warning of an Incoming Attack

China Rejects Policy of Nuclear Launch on Warning of an Incoming Attack https://allthingsnuclear.org/gkulacki/china-rejects-policy-of-nuclear-launch-on-warning-of-an-incoming-attack

GREGORY KULACKI, CHINA PROJECT MANAGER AND SENIOR ANALYST | OCTOBER 28, 2019Fu Cong, the Director General of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently called on all nuclear weapons states to abandon the policy of preparing to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an incoming nuclear attack. He issued the unprecedented official statement in his keynote address to a major international arms control conference held in Shenzhen in mid-October.

Cong also asked nuclear weapons states to take additional steps to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their national security doctrines, including joining China in publicly committing to never use nuclear weapons first.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s criticism of launch on warning comes less than two weeks after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced China was cooperating with Russia “to model a national early warning system.” At present only the United States and Russia have systems that allow them to detect missile launches.

Those systems give both nuclear-armed nations the option to launch a retaliatory response as soon as the system warns them of an incoming missile attack. Russia and the United States keep their missiles on high alert so they are ready for rapid launch on warning.

Both the Russian and the US early warning systems have a history of generating false warnings. The practice of combining those systems with preparations for rapid launch creates the danger that either country could start a nuclear war by mistake.

China’s current policy is to wait to retaliate until after being struck first. It protects its small nuclear force of several hundred nuclear capable missiles from an enemy first strike by hiding them in a large network of underground tunnels. The missiles are kept off alert and the warheads are stored separately. They would be brought together and mated with the missiles only after the Chinese leadership gave the order to prepare for a launch.

Some Chinese officials are concerned recent improvements to US satellite reconnaissance, forward-based radars, precision guidance systems and ballistic missile defenses might lead US decision makers to believe China’s nuclear forces could be neutralized, allowing the United States to strike China first without fear of nuclear retaliation. Recent improvements to Chinese nuclear forces, in particular the development of a longer range intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry multiple warheads, are intended to convince US decision-makers not to take that risk.

Several years ago researchers at the Chinese Academy of Military Science (AMS) suggested China could eliminate concerns about the vulnerability of its nuclear forces by moving to a launch on warning posture. Fu Cong responded to a question about the AMS suggestion by stating that in his view a launch on warning posture would be incompatible with China’s long-standing promise not to use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances.

Cong also said he was unaware of Putin’s statement on cooperation on an early warning system, but that the existence of such a project did not imply that China would change its nuclear policy and shift to a launch on warning posture. Such a change would also require China to keep its missiles on constant alert with warheads attached so that they could be launched quickly. A former director of China’s nuclear weapons lab told me privately that the cooperative project with Russia on warning technology would increase China’s overall situational awareness but would not lead to a change China’s nuclear doctrine, policy or practice.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says USA and Saudi Arabia negotiating on nuclear sales

U.S. says talks progressing with Saudi on possible nuclear program, DUBAI (Reuters) 27 Oct 19– U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Saturday that conversations with Saudi Arabia on a nuclear program are going forward.The world’s top oil exporter had said it wanted to use nuclear power to diversify its energy mix. It wants to go ahead with a full-cycle nuclear program, including the production and enrichment of uranium for atomic fuel.

In order for U.S. companies to compete for Saudi Arabia’s project, Riyadh would normally need to sign an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear technology with Washington.

Reuters has reported that progress on the discussions has been difficult because Saudi Arabia does not want to sign a deal that would rule out the possibility of enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel – both potential paths to a bomb.

“The kingdom and the leadership in the kingdom .. will find a way to sign a 1,2,3 agreement with the United States, I think,” Perry said.

Speaking at a round table in Abu Dhabi, Perry added that the United States was doing everything it could to have a ready global supply of oil…… https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uae-us-energy/us-says-talks-progressing-with-saudi-on-possible-nuclear-program-idUSKBN1X509E

October 28, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | 1 Comment