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Advantages of cross-border energy interconnection between UK and Europe

Green Alliance: UK must look to EU interconnection amid ‘crumbling’ nuclear plans, Business Green, Michael Holder, 21 January 2019

  “……… New analysis by the environmental think tank highlights myriad benefits for the UK from trade in electricity with European countries, but warns leaving the EU – particularly under a ‘no-deal’ scenario – threatens to undermine opportunities to enhance cross-border interconnection.

Published on Friday, the analysis shows that a mix of increased electricity interconnection with the EU in addition to installing more renewable energy in the UK would help to keep consumer bills down, boost access to and trade in clean power, and also maintain energy security, in the face of on-going struggles to deliver planned new nuclear projects.

It follows Japanese firm Hitachi’s announcement last week that it has halted construction of the £16bn Wylfa nuclear project in Wales after failing to agree a funding support package with the government. Hitachi’s plans for another nuclear plant in Gloucestershire have also been shelved.

Green Alliance said trading power across borders with Europe could help reduce energy sector emissions in the short term without the need to build more capacity, and that interconnection could also help provide instant back up power when needed at peak times.

It also highlights the economic benefits of interconnection, with cross border trading delivering a combined value of £700m to UK markets in 2017, according to Friday’s analysis.

However, leaving the EU without a deal could cost the UK as much as £2.2bn per year at the current level of interconnection, the think tank warned.

Similar research by climate think tank E3G recently argued the merits of the UK maintaining membership of the EU internal energy market in order to fully realise the cost and carbon benefits of electricity interconnection with Europe.

At present, the UK is one of the least interconnected countries in Europe, and it therefore has the most to gain from improving its power connections with the rest of the continent, argued Chaitanya Kumar, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance……….

In the short term, Kumar suggested boosting interconnection could help strengthen the case for scaling up UK renewables capacity, and that negotiating continued participation in the EU’s internal energy market should therefore be a crucial part of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, particularly as the government’s nuclear energy plans “are crumbling”.

“Instead of doubling down on subsidised, expensive nuclear, the government should now be focusing on building cheaper alternatives in more renewables and electricity interconnection with Europe,” he said. “The UK’s climate ambitions are not under any immediate threat from the failed nuclear plans, but that can only be guaranteed if the existing alternatives are scaled up.”

The report follows news last week that plans for a new interconnector between Peterhead and the Norway took a step forward, after securing planning permission from Aberdeenshire Council.

The North Connect transmission link would see a 415-mile cable link Peterhead with the Norwegian Coast, providing up to 1.4GW of power between the two countries from 2023.

A number of similar projects are in the pipeline, but experts fear their prospects are largely dependent on the UK securing a Brexit agreement with the EU that allows for streamlined energy trading – something that is not guaranteed under a ‘no deal’ scenario. https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3069586/green-alliance-uk-must-look-to-eu-interconnection-amid-crumbling-nuclear-plans

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January 22, 2019 Posted by | ENERGY, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un continuing to play to the vanity of Donald Trump?

While Kim plays to Trump’s ego, he builds his nuclear arsenal, CNN, By Samantha Vinograd,  January 20, 2019  “……..When President Donald Trump met Kim Jong Un in June 2018, they came to a vague agreement that North Korea would work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But, as Vice President Mike Pence stated last week, North Korea has failed to take concrete steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons, and it still represents a serious nuclear threat.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | 1 Comment

Trump plans North Korea nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un for February 

Jan. 19, 2019, By Jonathan Allen, Abigail Williams and Dan De Luce

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to meet face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month for a second nuclear summit, the White House announced Friday. …..https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-meets-top-north-korean-official-second-kim-summit-possibility-n960301

January 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

The value of informal talks about nuclear security

Let’s talk about nuclear security — informally, SF Chronicle, By James Goodby and Kenneth Weisbrode Jan. 19, 2019

With the high-profile conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation, a U.S. threat to withdraw from a nuclear missile treaty, a worsening political situation in Ukraine, an ongoing conflict in Syria, not to mention recent reports that the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump — the citizens of Russia and the United States should worry that their countries are soon reaching a point of no return.

Diplomats will say that few such points exist, and that professionals can and will continue to keep the channels of dialogue open. What’s missing here is not the capacity to talk but a political consensus on both sides to reaffirm why both countries still need to cooperate and how to go about finding it.

Mikhail Gorbachev and George P. Shultz recently called for a “broad strategic dialogue” among Americans and Russians to pull our nations out of their trough, or at least to look beyond it. Gorbachev and Shultz propose an “informal forum,” and that makes sense. The U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, nuclear arms control talks, and other formal arrangements appear to be stalled. The establishment of dialogue at a higher level — similar to efforts in the 1990s to encourage mutual investments and business opportunities — would probably be a nonstarter. What would an informal forum look like?………. https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Let-s-talk-about-nuclear-security-informally-13547680.php

January 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

How US and China’s African nuclear mission could provide model for disarming North KoreaSC

MP,  Lee Jeong-ho, 20 Jan 19, 

  • The recent joint operation to remove uranium from Nigeria could provide a template for denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula
  • Although the two countries have proved they can still work together, the challenges posed by North Korea are likely to prove far more challenging
China and America’s recent joint nuclear non-proliferation mission in West Africa could provide a precedent for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, analysts have said, but warned that the scale and political complexity of the task will be far greater.

This week it emerged that Chinese and American nuclear experts had cooperated on a project to remove highly enriched uranium (HEU) from a reactor in Nigeria to prevent the material falling into the hands of terrorists.

The mission last year, which also involved British and Norwegian experts along with contractors from Russia and the Czech Republic, was completed within a day despite violent clashes in Kaduna province where the reactor was located, according to Defensenews.com.

The logistics and security arrangements needed to fly the material to China were completed within six weeks, showing the capacity of both the US and China to set aside their differences and cooperate when their mutual interests are at stake.

The Nigerian operation was not the first time the two countries had worked together to prevent nuclear proliferation in West Africa; a similar operation to remove HEU to China was carried out in Ghana in 2017.

Because neither China nor America’s interests are served by a nuclear-armed North Korea, similar work could be carried out in the future should talks on denuclearisation come to fruition.

Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the James Martin centre for non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “It is conceivable in the case of denuclearisation that North Korea’s nuclear weapons or material could be taken to China.

“Given the fact that China already has nuclear weapons, the US could likely accept that although the US would likely then push for their disassembly.”

Bruce Bennett, a senior defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said the two countries would continue to cooperate on dismantling nuclear weapons.

“If instability developed in North Korea, China may well be at greater risk from terrorists or Chinese dissident groups seizing North Korean nuclear weapons and using them against China,” he said……… https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2182564/how-us-and-chinas-african-nuclear-mission-could-provide-model

January 21, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Germany urges Russia to destroy missile to save nuclear treaty

  http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/germany-urges-russia-to-destroy-missile-to-save-nuclear-treaty/article/541215 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday called on Russia to destroy a controversial missile system Washington says breaches a key arms control treaty.

“We believe Russia can save this treaty,” Maas said after talks with Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF).

“It affects our security interests in a fundamental way.”

Tensions have raged between Russia and the United States over the fate of the INF agreement signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

US President Donald Trump has promised to walk away from the agreement and Russian leader Vladimir Putin threatened a new arms race, saying Europe would be its main victim.

Washington says Moscow’s 9M729 missile system violates the treaty and warned it would withdraw from the agreement if Russia does not get rid of it.

Russia denies the claim, accusing the United States of violating the treaty which forbids ground-launched short- and intermediate-range missiles.

“Like other NATO members, we believe that there is a missile violating this treaty and it should be destroyed in a verifiable manner to get back to the implementation of this agreement,” Germany’s Maas told reporters.

Maas commended Moscow for trying to salvage the agreement and expressed hope that talks between Russian and US negotiators would resume in the near future.

Last month Washington gave Russia a 60-day deadline to dismantle missiles that it claims breach the INF treaty or the US would begin the six-month process of formally withdrawing from the deal.

Lavrov for his part said Washington provided no evidence that Russia’s tests of the missile violated the INF treaty.

He said Washington’s demands to destroy the missiles and have regular access to Russian sites were just “a pretext to exit the treaty.”

“During official contacts on arms control and disarmament issues back in October the United States said the decision is definitive and their announcement of the withdrawal from the INF treaty is not an invitation to dialogue. This is a quote.”

Earlier this week, talks between US and Russian officials in Geneva to salvage the deal led nowhere. Moscow said Washington did not appear to be in the mood for more talks while a US official said Russia was just paying “lip service” to transparency.

Russian officials said US representatives had confirmed Washington’s intention to begin withdrawing from the treaty from February 2.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Germany, politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA to begin pullout from Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, rejecting Russian offer

US to begin nuclear treaty pullout next month after Russia missile talks fail, Guardian, Julian Borger in Washington, 17 Jan 2019 

    • Officials reject Russian offer to inspect new missile
    • US says it will suspend observance of INF treaty on 2 February

The US has rejected Moscow’s offer to inspect a new Russian missile suspected of violating a key cold war-era nuclear weapons treaty, and warned that it would suspend observance of the agreement on 2 February, giving six-months’ notice of a complete withdrawal. The under secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, confirmed the US intention to withdraw from the treaty after a meeting with a Russian delegation in Geneva, which both sides described as a failure.

Donald Trump took US allies by surprise when he announced his intention to leave the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in October. The agreement led to the destruction of thousands of US and Soviet weapons, and has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused the US of intransigence, saying Moscow had offered to allow US experts to inspect the suspect missile, which it insists does not infringe the limits laid down in the treaty.

“However, US representatives arrived with a prepared position that was based on an ultimatum and centred on a demand for us to destroy this rocket, its launchers and all related equipment under US supervision,” Lavrov said.

Thompson noted that the US had been demanding Russian transparency over the missile for more than five years. She confirmed that the offer of inspections was not enough and that the US was demanding the destruction of the missile system, known as the 9M729……..

She said that there were currently no plans for follow-up talks on the INF before the 2 February deadline laid down by the Trump administration, though US and Russian diplomats would be meeting, including at a summit of the Nato-Russian council next week.

Thompson said that if Russia did not show willingness to comply with the treaty by the deadline, the US would suspend its own obligations, meaning that the US defense department could start research and development on missiles with ranges currently banned by the INF, from 500 to 5,500km.

At the same time, she told reporters, the US would formally give notice of its withdrawal from the treaty, which could come into effect on 2 August.

After that, there would be no restrictions on deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe or the Pacific………..

The Trump administration was criticised by former officials and arms control advocates for not pursuing the Russian offer of inspections.

“We’ve spent years trying to get something – anything – out of the Russians on INF. The Russian offer of an exhibition of the 9M729 is not enough, but it is something,” Alexandra Bell, a former senior state department official who is now senior policy director at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

“Perhaps it is a foundation on which to build. Not trying to take advantage of this opportunity is to leave diplomatic options on the table and that’s just foolish.”

Daryl Kimball, the head of the Arms Control Association said: “If the INF is terminated on 2 August, there will be nothing to prevent Russia from deploying nuclear missiles that threaten Europe and the Trump administration will have no hesitation in pursuing the deployment of INF-prohibited weapons in Europe.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/16/us-russia-inf-treaty-nuclear-missile  

 

January 19, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Top North Korea envoy meets Trump at White House for nuclear talks

Straits Times, WASHINGTON (REUTERS) 18 Jan 19, – A top North Korean nuclear envoy met President Donald Trump at the White House after holding talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday (Jan 18) in a diplomatic flurry aimed at laying the groundwork for a second US-North Korea summit.

The visit of Kim Yong Chol, Pyongyang’s lead negotiator with the United States and a hardline former spy chief, marked a rare sign of potential movement in a denuclearisation effort that has stalled since a landmark meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last year.

Kim Yong Chol and Pompeo, with tight smiles, posed together for photographs at a Washington hotel before holding about 45 minutes of talks that could help determine whether the two sides can make headway.

After that meeting, the White House said Trump hosted Kim Yong Chol in the Oval Office to “discuss relations between the two countries and continued progress on North Korea’s final, fully verified denuclearisation.”

There has been no indication of any narrowing of differences over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons programme that threatens the United States or over Pyongyang’s demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

Hours before Kim Yong Chol’s arrival on Thursday, Trump – who declared after the Singapore summit in June that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea was over – unveiled a revamped US missile defence strategy that singled out the country as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat.”

The State Department said after Friday’s meeting that Pompeo had a “good discussion” with Kim Yong Chol “on efforts to make progress on commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore.”

But it provided no specifics.

The high-level visit could yield an announcement of plans for a second summit. Both Trump and Kim have expressed an interest in arranging but some US-based analysts say it would be premature due to the lack of obvious progress so far………. https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/north-korea-envoy-in-us-for-talks-with-secretary-of-states-mike-pompeo-possibly

January 19, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

The Trump administration’s dangerous strategy of provocation – led by John Bolton

January 19, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA-China co-operation in removing nuclear material from Nigeria

How the US and China collaborated to get nuclear material out of Nigeria — and away from terrorist groups, Defense News, By: Aaron Mehta, 14 Jan 19,    “……… Moving the nuclear material out of Nigeria has been a long-sought goal for the United States and nonproliferation advocates. But the goal has taken on increased importance in recent years with the rise of militant groups in the region, particularly Boko Haram, a group the Pentagon calls a major terrorist concern in the region.

Underscoring the importance of the operation: the key role China played in transporting and storing the plutonium, with the operation happening just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump made an explicit threat to China about growing America’s nuclear arsenal.
………….Material that is attractive to terrorists’

It was the mid-1990s when Nigeria, with technical support and backing from China, began work on what would become Nigerian Research Reactor 1, located at Ahmadu Bello University in Kaduna. The location opened in 2004, and is home to roughly 170 Nigerian workers.

NIRR-1 is classified as a miniature neutron source reactor, designed for “scientific research, neutron activation analysis, education and training,” per the International Atomic Energy Agency. Essentially, the reactor powers scientific experiments, not the local grid.

The design, however, used highly enriched uranium, or HEU, a type of nuclear substance often referred to by the general public as weapons-grade uranium. This kind of uranium forms the core of any nuclear weapons material, and the Nigerian material was more than 90 percent enriched, making it particularly attractive for anyone looking to use it.

Since NIRR-1 went online, however, improvements in technology meant that experiments involving highly enriched uranium could now be run with a lesser substance. Across the globe, the IAEA and its partners have worked to swap out weapons-grade material with lightly enriched uranium, or LEU, which is enriched at less than 20 percent, and hence unusable for weapons. In all, 33 countries have now become free of HEU, including 11 countries in Africa.

With just over 1 kilogram of HEU, the Nigerian material, if stolen, would not be nearly enough to create a full nuclear warhead. However, a terrorist group would be able to create a dirty bombwith the substance or add the material into a stockpile gathered elsewhere to get close to the amount needed for a large explosion.

In a statement released by the IAEA, Yusuf Aminu Ahmed, director of the Nigerian Centre for Energy Research and Training, was blunt about his concerns over keeping the weapons-grade material in his country. “We don’t want any material that is attractive to terrorists,” he said.
And the nature of these types of reactors, used primarily for research, means they are ideal targets for terrorist groups looking for nuclear material, said Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear expert who served as senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the U.S. National Security Council from 2014 to 2017.

They’re small reactors, they’re not power reactors where the fuel is so radioactive it kills you,” he said. “This is very attractive to a proliferation point of view, and they are research reactors, so they are often at universities without high security.”

All of which gave the governments involved incentive to get the material out of Nigeria sooner rather than later, and which led to the group of experts sitting in Ghana, waiting for a call………..

Replacing HEU with LEU in research reactors naturally requires caution, as anything nuclear-related comes with risks. But the Nigerian mission was particularly difficult because of security concerns, Hanlon said. He noted that Boko Haram, while not in the Kaduna region, has been operating in Nigeria for quite some time.

“We had concerns about the security on the ground, in the region. Working very closely with the U.S. embassy, there were additional security requirements put upon us and limitations for us on having people on the ground at the facility itself,” Hanlon said.
……………While the technicians were able to leave the country once their daylong mission was complete, security on site remained thick for the next five weeks as administrators worked the logistics and clearances needed to fly nuclear material over other nations’ airspace. Asked about the security level during this down period, Dov Schwartz, an NNSA spokesman, said that “extensive planning went into ensuring the removed highly enriched uranium was safe and secure prior to transport.”

“All of our partners understood that operational security was paramount,” Schwartz said. “The world is a safer place today as a result of the determined work to remove this weapons useable Uranium from Nigeria.”

Finally, on Dec. 4, the HEU was escorted by the Nigerian military toward the An-124, loaded onto the aircraft and sent on its way to its final destination.  The material was heading for China.

China’s role

The removal operation cost roughly $5.5 million, with the United States contributing $4.3 million. The United Kingdom ($900,000) and Norway ($290,000) also chipped in. But while it didn’t contribute money, China’s role in the operation was outsized — and occurred as the war of words from the Trump administration toward Beijing was reaching a fever pitch, one that did not die down in the weeks to come.

As the October operation was just hours from starting, U.S. President Donald Trump took to the press to discuss nuclear material and China.

“Until people come to their senses, we will build [the nuclear arsenal] up,” Trump told reporters just hours before the Nigeria operation was to begin. “It’s a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can’t do that. You can’t play that game on me.”

By the time the Antonov plane — carrying the HEU, along with American inspectors and security — arrived at Shijiazhuang airport in China on Dec. 6, the arrest of a Chinese technology executive in Canada had inflamed fears of a trade conflict between the two countries.

Once the material landed in China, local officials took possession of the uranium, marking the end of the Nigerian mission — but not necessarily the end of the material……..
That the United States and China were able to ignore politics to get the HEU removal done shouldn’t be a surprise, Wolfsthal said. Traditionally, countries that supply uranium to partners around the world take that material back if needed.

“Even though the national level conversation is really poor because of trade and other issues, the technical collaboration between laboratories, between nuclear engineers, that’s generally gone pretty well,” he said. He added that China has invested heavily in LEU over the last decade, and therefore also has an interest in encouraging others to switch to that technology.

Whether that cooperation continues if relations between the two nations continue to deteriorate will be a true test going forward……… https://www.defensenews.com/news/pentagon-congress/2019/01/14/how-the-us-and-china-collaborated-to-get-nuclear-material-out-of-nigeria-and-away-from-terrorist-groups/

January 15, 2019 Posted by | China, Nigeria, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA govt could live with a Nuclear North Korea, but wouldn’t admit it

Can America Live with a Nuclear North Korea? National Interest, January 11, 2019 MilitaryTechnologyWorldICBM

Question: Can America live with an atomic North Korea, and could any presidential administration openly admit it can? The answer: Yes it can, and no it couldn’t.

by James Holmes friend asks: can America live with an atomic North Korea, and could any presidential administration openly admit it can? Yes it can, and no it couldn’t. The Trump administration and its successors can live with a North Korean doomsday arsenal because living with it represents the least bad option at hand. Military action is the other apparent alternative to the administration’s “ maximum pressure ” strategy of stifling the North into compliance through diplomacy and UN-approved economic sanctions . Yet the hazards, costs, and sheer uncertainty of war abound. Few presidents would embrace armed force barring an unambiguous and egregious provocation from Kim Jong-Un & Co.

Forcibly disarming Pyongyang could and probably would involve sacrificing thousands of American and Korean lives. Here’s a crude yardstick. The Korean War, a conventional conflict to preserve an independent South Korea, cost the United States some 37,000 military lives. Many more service folk suffered wounds. Thirty-seven thousand. That’s more than fivefold the combined American military death toll from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars since 9/11. And that leaves aside countless more Korean military and civilian lives expended fighting to the current standstill along the inter-Korean border.

It’s hard to see how war could be waged more cheaply than it was in 1950-1953 when the principal combatants, not to mention North Korea’s ally China and neighbor Russia, all boast nuclear weapons to accompany formidable conventional forces. And Washington must not delude itself into thinking air and sea power can do the job alone, any more than aviators and mariners repulsed the North Korean invasion in 1950. It took land forces back then—and today, in all likelihood, ground combat would be required to destroy the dug-in North Korean nuclear complex.

Any military strategy worth the name would demand that U.S. Army and Marine forces again seize and control ground—allowing them the leisure to ferret out underground facilities and armaments.

In short, a new Korean War would not be a come-and-go affair. Such a forecast is solidly grounded in the classics of strategy. For instance, Admiral J. C. Wylie points out that the proper goal of military strategy is to impose control on the foe. Aircraft and missiles flit by overhead while ships remain offshore. Though formidable, their presence is too intermittent to qualify as control. That being the case, he pronounces the soldier slogging through mud the “ultimate determinant” of who emerges the victor. The soldier goes and stays. “He is control,” proclaims Wylie. No control, no strategic success.

Or as the historian T. R. Fehrenbach puts it regarding the Korean War: “you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men in the mud.” Wylie says much the same thing when he observes that— aviators’ and rocketeers’ assumptions notwithstanding—the ability to destroy something from aloft does not equate to controlling it.

Nor is it obvious that winning control is crucial in Northeast Asia………

Chances are, then, Washington will continue to insist on complete disarmament on the Korean Peninsula but will refrain from using force to bring about that happy end. …….https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/can-america-live-nuclear-north-korea-41387

January 14, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

A nuclear cover-up? Britain removes from public access, files on atomic bomb tests in Australia

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe in UK to beg for more money for Wylfa nuclear project?

Unearthed 9th Jan 2019 Doug Parr: Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is in London this week, and it seems likely in his meeting with Theresa May that the Japanese-backed
nuclear power plant in Wales will come up. The Wylfa project, to be built
by Hitachi and its subsidiary Horizon, is one of a clutch of planned
nuclear power stations which the UK government has heavily prioritised for
security of power supply, and meeting the country’s climate obligations.

Late last year another of the 6 major projects, the proposed Moorside plant
in Cumbria, was effectively abandoned after Toshiba pulled out. And another
has come under fire as questions are raised about security issues flowing
from the Chinese builders.

These developments effectively illustrate that
UK nuclear power policy is heavily dependent on overseas developers.

What is less understood is that there are significant shifts underway in Japan
which strongly suggest Hitachi’s projects may too be at risk. The most
advanced of Horizon’s nuclear plans is a large power station to be built
at Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales. In fact, with the collapse of Moorside,
the Wylfa plant is the only nuclear project that could realistically be
built before 2030, in addition to the plant already under construction at
Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Japan, however, is reconsidering its nuclear
export strategy. Because it keeps going wrong. Until recently it had 3
companies interested in building nuclear power stations abroad: Toshiba,
Mitsubishi and Hitachi. These companies have experience building nuclear
stations at home but since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, they have had to
look elsewhere.

Seeking to help these giants of Japanese industry to
maintain their businesses, Prime Minister Abe reportedly wanted to turn
Japan into a “nuclear export superpower”. Hitachi, however, are
reportedly be thinking of scrapping the project as its costs and risks
become unmanageable. Hitachi could be looking at Toshiba’s
near-bankruptcy and thinking ‘let’s not go there’. According to their
chairman the project was in “an extremely severe situation” as it
struggled to attract investors, even though UK government may have promised
as much as two thirds of the build cost.

Despite this already generouslargesse (on behalf of UK taxpayers, not offered to any other energy projects) Hitachi are intending to come back to UK government and ask for
more. It looks like no assessment of the risks by a private funder come
back looking good, and the only way nuclear plants can be built is with
government stepping into very risky projects that require taxpayers to
shoulder the risk.

The aversion from private investors may not only be
because of the rising costs, but also that the operating performance of the
proposed reactor is pretty poor (albeit partly due to earthquakes).

Notably Hitachi continues to be happy to spend many billions of pounds on power
grid investments, but not its own nuclear reactor, which it wants UK
taxpayers to fund. Major Japanese newspapers have opposed their own
taxpayers lending support to the Wylfa project, even though a home-grown
company would be getting the benefits.

 

And during the Xmas break, Japan’s
third largest newspaper called for the nuclear export strategy to be
abandoned. Another paper attacks the ‘bottomless swamp’ of nuclear
funding in UK and remarks upon how few countries seem to be following the
UK-style nuclear-focused policy. Reportedly Japanese government has asked
its development banks to fund the ‘nuclear export strategy’, and Wylfa
in particular, but they don’t want to. It is quite difficult to see how
Hitachi can manage the risks of this project without some home support, and
support in Japan is ebbing away.
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/01/09/japan-uk-nuclear-plans-go-awry/

January 12, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia keen to get nuclear technology from USA

Saudi Arabia to work closely with US on nuclear power plans,  https://www.straitstimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-to-work-closely-with-us-on-nuclear-power-plans JAN 10, 2019, RIYADH (REUTERS) – Saudi Arabia aims to work closely with the United States on its plans to build nuclear power generation capacity in the oil producing kingdom, the energy minister said on Wednesday (Jan 9).Riyadh wants Washington to be “part and parcel” of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear programme, which will be entirely for peaceful purposes, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said.

He also said the United States was a key provider for nuclear technology.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Speech stressed energy development, and co-operation wit South Korea

Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Speech: On the Domestic Front, 38 North, BY: GLYN FORD, JANUARY 9, 2019  “……

Kim acknowledged that challenges to this domestic agenda certainly exist, noting especially the misallocation of labor, lack of expertise and poor productivity. In his speech, he instructed a reallocation of labor and resources, both for the military and the Party, to start to address these barriers to success. He also indicated that contingency plans were being explored in case a second summit with Trump fails to set US-DPRK relations back on track.

………Focus on Energy Generation

The country’s principal economic bottleneck is the desperate need for a massive increase in electricity production. A first step is the renovation and modernization of the supply industry. By singling out the Pukchang Thermal Power Complex for praise all the others inevitably lie in its shadow. Yet the most aggravating problem is fuel shortages. Under the current sanctions regime, the short-term solution—and by no means good news for the climate-change lobby—to the electricity shortage is massive increases in productivity in the coal sector. ………..

While hydroelectric plants merit a passing mention, in reality, the North is close to maximizing the use of the water resources available with both floods and droughts sharply reducing output. In the longer term, Kim argued that the country needs to “create a capacity for generating tidal, wind and atomic power under a far-reaching plan.” The last underlines Pyongyang’s perception that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula does not preclude ambitions to be a civil nuclear power. The ongoing construction of their indigenous Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center suggests that light water reactors will form the backbone of the industry, harking back perhaps to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) from the 1990s. ………..

There is no question the Party is now on top as well as on tap with constant references to its primacy. Kim emphasized in his speech that the KPA is to “defend the Party and revolution and the security of the country and the people and continuously perform miraculous feats at all sites of socialist construction.” Echoing that sentiment, the People’s Internal Security Forces are there to protect Party, system and people, in that order.

Delivering peace and prosperity to the Korean Peninsula is the stated goal for both Pyongyang and Seoul. Kim underscored this mandate with:

“When north and south join hands firmly and rely on the united strength of the fellow countrymen, no external sanctions and pressure, challenges and trials will be able to hinder us….We will never tolerate the interference and intervention of outside forces who stand in the way of national reconciliation, unity and reunification with the design to subordinate inter-Korean relations to their tastes and interests.”

The “dog that didn’t bark” is the “end-of-war” declaration. Last summer, Pyongyang complained long and hard that Washington had not delivered on its promise to sign a political declaration ending the Korean War. In Kim’s New Year’s speech, this declaration failed to get even a mention. Pyongyang seems to have moved on, from Washington at least. Kim stated, “it is also needed to actively promote multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire on the Korean peninsula with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatories to the armistice agreement so as to lay a lasting and substantial peace-keeping foundation.” The concept of a bilateral US-DPRK declaration signed by Seoul and Beijing has now become a multilateral proposition and negotiation. Which parties would be involved is unclear, but this may have been one of many topics discussed between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping during Kim’s birthday visit to Beijing

……….Until now Pyongyang has rigidly adhered publicly to parallel bilateral negotiations, one with Washington looking for a peace settlement accompanied by sanctions relief and a second with Seoul on economic cooperation. Now with the potential for the first set of negotiations to go multilateral, the second set may follow suit, increasing pressure on Moon to put clear blue water between Seoul and Washington with respect to “maximum pressure.”https://www.38north.org/2019/01/gford010919/

January 12, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics, politics international | Leave a comment