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Can Donald Trump manage nuclear diplomacy with North Korea? It’s unlikely

TrumpIn Nuclear Poker, Don’t Bet on Trump, Bloomberg JAN 19, 2017 BY  Is North Korea’s belligerent young leader, Kim Jong-un, bluffing when he says the “last stage” is underway for testing a ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S.? What about President-elect Donald Trump, when he tweets, “It won’t happen“?

As Trump’s administration begins, a showdown with North Korea over ICBMs seems all but inevitable. Just yesterday, South Korean media reported possible signs that the North may be preparing a new missile launch. In managing this conflict, few things will be more crucial than understanding the nature of bluffing. Unfortunately, for all his talk of being a good deal maker, Trump is a terrible bluffer — and his lack of skill is likely to destabilize nuclear politics.

A bluff is an untrue but plausible story. In the mindsport of poker, bluffs work when your opponent believes you have a better hand, so he can’t call your bet or raise, conceding you the pot. The savvier player wants to steadily grind away at the stack of his opponent over a large number of small pots, without risking too many of his own chips in any single hand. The weaker player can counter the “small ball” strategy by raising all-in fairly often, forcing all-or-nothing confrontations.

To understand why these dynamics are so crucial in nuclear negotiation, consider the work of John von Neumann, the prodigiously gifted polymath who immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1933 and later contributed to the Manhattan Project. Von Neumann loved poker because its strategy involves guile, probability, luck and budgetary acumen, but is never transparent; it always depends on the counterstrategies deployed by opponents.

 Expert players misrepresent the strength of their hands, simulate irrational behavior, and deploy other mind games to confuse their opponents. In a nutshell, they bluff. It was von Neumann’s efforts to express bluffs in mathematical terms that helped him develop game theory, which has numerous real-world applications, nuclear strategy foremost among them……..

Trump bluffs almost constantly. He has spent his entire adult life overstating the value of his real estate holdings and branding endeavors, while bragging relentlessly about his wealth, sex life, length off the tee, and on and on. His bluffs during the campaign — that he had a replacement for Obamacare, a secret plan to defeat Islamic State and so on — were plainly false to anyone paying attention. To Trump, what was true hardly mattered.

Such tendencies would not serve him well in a poker game. Any player who continually misrepresents the size of his hand would cause sharp opponents to give his bets little credit. They’d simply wait for above-average hands and call him. As Daniel Negreanu, the all-time winningest poker tournament player, put it to me, “Trump’s bluffs are very effective against level-one thinkers. His lies are so outlandish that people think they have to be true or he wouldn’t have said it. The constant barrage makes him tougher to read. But sharper players would pick him apart.”

Kim may not be irrational, but he knows how to seem that he is, which gives him leverage. Kim’s contempt for most North Koreans means that he has less to lose by threatening to nuke an American city. The more we know about his pretensions to deity, his labor camps, the food and electricity shortages his policies have prolonged, the easier it is to believe he might sacrifice millions of Koreans in an absurd attempt to save face. Kim isn’t threatening to defeat the U.S., a bluff no one would credit; he’s trying to prove he could grievously injure it before dying himself, a bluff that must be taken seriously. As Negreanu puts it, Kim is “a scary player. Being unpredictable, capable of any move at any time, makes him hard to prepare for.”

In such circumstances, Trump’s long history of empty boasts is destabilizing. Kim may calculate that he has renewed leverage to push for concessions from the U.S. He might engage in riskier behavior, such as firing more test missiles or launching cyberattacks. Almost certainly, he’ll persist in developing missiles that can reach the U.S., calculating all the while that Trump’s Twitter outbursts are simply talk.

That may be true. But what if, for once in his life, Trump means what he says? What if he can’t bear to have his bluff called, and really is tempted to launch a preemptive attack if it looks like North Korea poses a real threat to the U.S. mainland?……..https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-19/in-nuclear-poker-don-t-bet-on-trump

January 21, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia and Iran to co-operate on nuclear power development

Russian-Bearflag-IranIran, ROSATOM sign roadmap for nuclear cooperation http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/410263/Iran-ROSATOM-sign-roadmap-for-nuclear-cooperation January 20, 2017 TEHRAN – The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the Russian ROSATOM signed on Thursday a roadmap for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The document was signed in Russia by Behrouz Kamalvandi, the AEOI deputy chief, and Nickolay Spasskiy, ROSATOM deputy director general, as a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding in Nov. 11, 2014.

Also, the two sides finalized a pre-project contract for the retrofitting of two gas centrifuge cascades in the Fordo facility.

The documents were approved and prepared for signing as a result of recent negotiations between the AEOI and ROSATOM.

The agreement is in line with a 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which resulted in removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear program.

Under the deal, Iran has committed to convert the Fordo facility into a nuclear, physics and technology center to benefit from international collaboration including in the form of scientific joint partnerships in agreed areas of research.

Also, by the accord, two of the six centrifuge cascades at the Fordo facility have to spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification, for stable isotope production.
Stable isotopes are used for medical and industrial purposes.

Iran launched a facility to produce raw material for stable isotopes in August 2016.

Also, in an August interview with Azerbaijani state news agency AZERTAC, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We will further assist our Iranian partners in implementing the Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, including the processing of enriched uranium and the conversion of facilities to produce stable isotopes.”

January 21, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Risk of nuclear war with China is raised in comments by Trump’s proposed secretary of state

Atomic-Bomb-SmFlag-USATrump’s China policy threatens nuclear war World Socialist Website,  James Cogan 13 January 2017 The confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees confirm that his administration intends to vastly intensify US demands for massive economic and strategic concessions from the Chinese regime. In pursuit of the predatory ambitions of a tiny layer of corporate oligarchs, policies are being put forward that could result in a military clash and trigger a nuclear exchange.

On Thursday, Rex Tillerson, Trump’s proposed secretary of state, made unprecedented statements on the attitude the next US government will take toward China’s land reclamation activities and construction of facilities on the islets and reefs Beijing claims as sovereign territory in the South China Sea.

Tillerson declared: “We are going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

The implications of such a policy are immense. The islands referred to by Tillerson are occupied by Chinese military personnel. The waters surrounding them are patrolled by the Chinese Coast Guard and Navy. The airspace above them is patrolled by the Chinese air force. The only conceivable way to deny China access would be through the large-scale deployment of US aircraft carriers and associated military forces into the South China Sea.

Media headlines around the world have reflected the recognition that war would be the most likely outcome of attempting to implement Tillerson’s declaration. For its part, the Chinese state-owned publication Global Times, whose editorial line is believed to come directly from the highest echelons of the Chinese regime, has not hedged its words in response.

Its January 13 editorial states: “Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish. The US has no absolute power to dominate the South China Sea. Tillerson had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories [emphasis added].”

An analysis of the social forces and economic interests that stand behind Trump leaves no room for doubt that his administration is more than prepared to threaten a full-scale war with China, posing the risk of a nuclear exchange.

Before he is even sworn in, Trump and the cabal of billionaires and ex-generals who will comprise his cabinet have signaled they will provoke conflict with China over a range of issues. In addition to rejecting Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, these policies include imposing tariffs on Chinese exports; demanding Beijing force North Korea to shut down its nuclear weapons program; and threatening to repudiate the “One China policy” under which Washington, since 1979, has formally recognised that the island of Taiwan is part of China and not an independent state.

Adding to the possible list of provocations, one of Trump’s chief supporters in the Congress, Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, joined with Republican presidential aspirant Marco Rubio to introduce the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” in November. The Act would require the US government to take action to ensure Hong Kong remains “sufficiently autonomous” from the mainland regime. Tibetan nationalists have enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s election as a signal that their cause might also be taken up by the incoming administration.

The focus on China flows directly from the interests of a powerful faction of the American corporate elite who view it as their greatest immediate economic, geopolitical and potential military competitor.

Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of oil conglomerate ExxonMobil, personifies this layer. Under Tillerson, ExxonMobil aggressively pursued access to potential oil and gas fields in the South China Sea, in partnership with Vietnam and in defiance of China’s territorial claims. In 2014, one of its fields was occupied by a Chinese oil rig. ExxonMobil’s ambitions for a stake in mainland Chinese energy production and distribution have been hindered also by the dominance of the Chinese state-owned companies that monopolise the domestic industry. Around the world—even in US-occupied Iraq—bids by American energy corporations for contracts have been undercut by their Chinese rivals.

The preoccupation of the Trump oligarchs with shattering Chinese competition is most clearly demonstrated in their willingness to defy the furious demands in the American ruling class for action first against Russia. Trump has thus far largely brushed aside the hysterical calls from the Democratic Party, figures in the Republican Party and the intelligence agencies for an immediate confrontation with Moscow over its alleged interference in the US election and its intervention in Syria to protect the regime of Bashar al-Assad from US-backed Islamist rebels……..ttps://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/01/13/pers-j13.html

January 14, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US ‘threatens to involve Australia in war with China’

flag-AustraliaAtomic-Bomb-Sm US ‘threatens to involve Australia in war with China’: Paul Keating condemns US secretary of state nominee’s comments, The Age, Fergus Hunter, 14 Jan 17  

 Former prime minister Paul Keating has rounded on President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, accusing him of threatening to bring on war with China and making “ludicrous” comments on the tense South China Sea dispute.

In a statement released on Friday, Mr Keating warned the Australian government to reject Rex Tillerson’s declaration this week that a “signal” needed to be sent to Beijing that the construction of artificial islands in the contested region must stop and “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed”. The remarks from the former chief of Exxon Mobil, in which he also called for regional allies “to show backup”, have set the stage for sharply increased tensions between the US and China as the Asian superpower builds up its military presence on the islands to defend against competing territorial claims from neighbouring countries.

According to Mr Keating, Mr Tillerson’s testimony to his US Senate confirmation hearing “threatens to involve Australia in war with China”. And he has urged the Australian people to “take note” and recommended the government tell the Trump administration, which will take over on January 20, “that Australia will not be part of such adventurism, just as we should have done in Iraq 15 years ago”. “That means no naval commitment to joint operations in the South China Sea and no enhanced US military facilitation of such operations,” the former Labor prime minister said.

“Tillerson’s claim that China’s control of access to the waters would be a threat to ‘the entire global economy’ is simply ludicrous. No country would be more badly affected than China if it moved to impede navigation. On the other hand, Australia’s prosperity and the security of the world would be devastated by war.”……… http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/us-threatens-to-involve-australia-in-war-with-china-paul-keating-condemns-us-secretary-of-state-nominees-comments-20170113-gtqy0k.html

January 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hungary’s nuclear regulator not independent, but European Commission approves its Russian-supplied nuclear reactors anyway

exclamation-Smflag-EUBrussels unswayed by concerns over Hungarian nuclear project http://www.politico.eu/article/brussels-unswayed-by-concerns-over-hungarian-nuclear-project-paks-ii-tender/  Opponents are continuing to fight, but Budapest insists the reactors will be built.  and  1/13/17,

The European Commission is standing behind its approval of Hungary’s decision to buy two nuclear reactors from Russia for its Paks II power plant without holding a tender.

The Commission dismissed the concerns of environmental groups questioning the lack of a bidding process in a letter, saying the “arguments put forward did not provide new elements that would have led the Commission to reconsider its previous position.”

Hungary had argued that only Rosatom’s VVER-1200 reactors could fulfill all of its requirements for the project.

Under EU rules, competitive tenders can be skipped when “for technical reasons the contract may be executed only by a particular economic operator.” Hungary wouldn’t be the first country to make use of that rule. France’s EDF handed the contract to build a reactor at the Flamanville nuclear power plant to state-owned Areva in 2007, arguing it was the only company that could fulfill the technical requirements.

Critics, including Greenpeace and Hungarian Green MEP Benedek Jávor, complained that the Commission hasn’t given an explanation as to why only Russian technology could fulfill Hungary’s requirements. They also pointed out that Hungary had been thinking of holding a competitive bid for the contract before opting for the Russian reactors.

The letter from the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said that although Hungary may have initially thought of holding a competitive process, nothing precluded it from concluding that “only the Russian technology could technically fulfill the final Hungarian requirements.”

The Commission still needs to give its final say on whether financial support for the €12 billion project breaches EU state aid rules; Moscow is financing 80 percent of the costs with a loan. However, Brussels is expected to grant its approval in the coming weeks.

Hungary’s nuclear law raises concerns

Despite the Commission’s refusal to block Paks, opponents of the project are continuing a broader fight over Hungary’s nuclear policies.

The parliament in December passed amendments allowing the government to seize powers from the Hungarian Atomic Energy Agency.

The move has raised worries that the new rules not only compromise the regulator’s independence but also enable the Hungarian government to change the license conditions the agency set for Paks II. Environmental groups worry that this essentially makes the government the funder, owner, operator and regulator of the nuclear power station.

A group of NGOs called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to raise concerns about the developments at its next meeting on nuclear safety in March and April.

Budapest dismissed the claims in a statement to POLITICO, calling them attempts “to provoke international tension related to Hungary’s pro-nuclear stance.”

The government said it has no plans to reverse course on Paks II, saying it “is necessary, and we shall realize it — despite opposition from anti-nuclear green organizations.”

January 14, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Mutually Assure Destruction – a MAD danger that might be increased by Donald Trump

The “madman theory” of nuclear war has existed for decades. Now, Trump is playing the madman. VOXby  Jan 4, 2017, Is Donald Trump a madman? Or, at least, would he like foreign leaders to think he might be just a little unstable? Such questions are being batted around in papers like the Boston Globe and the Washington Post in response to the president-elect’s foreign policy moves: his provocations toward China, his attacks on NATO and the UN, his warm overtures toward Rodrigo Duterte and Vladimir Putin.

Across the pundit-sphere, analysts are asking, is he crazy, or crazy like a fox?

In no context is the question more pertinent than Trump’s position on nuclear weapons. His comments both as candidate and president-elect show a more cavalier attitude toward their proliferation and use than any president in the past 30 years. “You want to be unpredictable,” Trump said last January on Face the Nation when asked about nuclear weapons. More recently, he tweeted that it was time for the US to start stockpiling nukes again. The comments prompted instant parallels to Richard Nixon’s “madman theory” of foreign relations: the idea that the president couldn’t be controlled — including where America’s nuclear arsenal was concerned — so foreign leaders should do everything in their power to appease him.

The madman question is so important here because madness has been a mainstay of nuclear culture since the atomic age flashed into being in the Jornada del Muerto desert in 1945. The bomb, carefully engineered by some of the 20th century’s most brilliant scientists, able to raze cities and civilizations, has always spanned rationality and irrationality, logic and madness.

The brightest minds created the most destructive force, and then leaders spent years working out rationales for its world-ending use. It was a madness begot by logic. But that madness doesn’t always present in the same way, which is why the history of nuclear madness has to precede our understanding of the Trump-as-madman debate…….

A brief, terrifying history of America’s nuclear mishaps

 four years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviets tested their own nuclear bomb, and the race was on for more powerful bombs, for better strike capability, for the ability to annihilate the other side before it could return fire. By the mid-1950s, the arms race had reached its illogically logical endpoint: If one side struck, everyone would be wiped out. Mutual assured destruction. MAD.

The acronym stuck, perhaps because of the horrific absurdity of it all. The logical conclusion, the position to which the world had been brought by the combined education and expertise of scientists and strategists, was the verge of obliteration………

As time passed, Mutually Assured Destruction came to seem — MAD……….

Maybe it was the exhaustion of the arms race, or the terror of the missile crisis, or the apocalyptic consequences of MAD, but by 1964 the idea of ever using nuclear weapons was considered insane. If the outcome truly was mutual assured destruction, then it would take an act of self-destructive madness to press the button………

World leaders understand that nations with nuclear weapons are treated differently than those without, and so there is a rational reason for pursuing nuclear technology. At the same time, the use of nuclear weapons against an enemy would make a nation-state into a global pariah. It would be insane.

Enter Donald Trump. The president-in-waiting is schooled in none of these particulars, claiming to believe only in strength and the desire to use it. His loose talk about nukes has re-raised the long-dormant question: Is he crazy enough to actually press the button?

Here, the history of nuclear madness may be as much a trap as a guide. Because the questions now shouldn’t be about Trump’s madness but his impulsivity and ignorance. Whatever one thinks of Nixon and Kissinger’s madman theory, it was a calculation. Kissinger was steeped in game theory and Nixon had a deep knowledge of international affairs. Reagan was a foreign policy autodidact with experienced ideological advisors. Their administrations could tell a hawk from a handsaw. (Admittedly, some of these comforting thoughts were only fully evident in hindsight.)

Trump doesn’t share his predecessors’ considered strategic thinking and mastery of geopolitics, but that doesn’t make him a madman. The madness is in the weapons themselves, powerful enough to obliterate entire countries, entire peoples, and in the logics that grew up around them to govern their disuse. The only hope is that, as with Nixon and Reagan before him, Trump’s time in office makes clear how badly things can go in an atomic age, and how important it is to continue the push to contain, if not eliminate, the madness in our midst.

Nicole Hemmer, a Vox columnist, is author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American PoliticsShe is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and co-host of the Past Present podcast.  http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/1/4/14165670/madman-theory-nuclear-weapons-trump-nixon

January 6, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China criticises India’s nuclear weaponry, says Pakistan should have the same nuclear “privileges”

Pak should have privileges as India in nuclear development: Chinese state media   Hindustan Times,  Jan 05, 2017 India has “broken” UN limits on nuclear arms and long-range missiles and Pakistan should also be accorded the same “privilege”, state-run Chinese media said on Thursday as it criticised New Delhi for carrying out Agni-4 and 5 missile tests whose range covers the Chinese mainland.

“India has broken the UN’s limits on its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile,” the ruling Communist Party-run tabloid Global Times said in its editorial.

“The US and some Western countries have also bent the rules on its nuclear plans. New Delhi is no longer satisfied with its nuclear capability and is seeking intercontinental ballistic missiles that can target anywhere in the world and then it can land on an equal footing with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members,” it said.

………At this time, Pakistan should have those privileges in nuclear development that India has,” it said, indicating that China which shared all-weather ties with Islamabad will back it if it develops long-range missiles.

“In general, it is not difficult for India to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles which can cover the whole world. If the UN Security Council has no objection over this, let it be. The range of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles will also see an increase. If the world can adapt to these, China should too,” it said.

The references to violation of UN rules by the daily were significant as the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying while reacting to India’s Agni-5 missile test said on December 27 that ”on whether India can develop this ballistic missile that can carry nuclear weapons, I think relevant resolutions of the UNSC have clear rules”. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pak-should-have-privileges-as-india-in-nuclear-development-chinese-state-media/story-ac8Oad5ab7abln3mfzNlcM.html

January 6, 2017 Posted by | China, India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

IAEA documents show that Iran can not make nuclear weapons

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-Iran‘Unrecoverable’: revealed N-documents show Iran can not make nuclear weapons , The Age,  Vienna, 24 Dec 16 : In an unusual move, Iran and six world powers have released previously restricted documents about their nuclear deal to enforce their view that Tehran is not in a position to try to make nuclear weapons.

Some of the documents are dated January 6, 2016, shortly before the pact was implemented. But they were not made public until Friday, when they were posted on the public website of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IAEA is monitoring the nuclear deal, which Iran reached with Germany and the five permanent UN Security Council members – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain.

The agreement stipulates that Iran can possess only low-enriched uranium, which is not suitable for weapons, and it is limited to possessing no more than 300 kilograms at any time. That is far less than would be needed to make a nuclear weapon even if it were further enriched to weapons-grade levels used for the core of nuclear warheads.

When the nuclear deal was agreed on, Iran had more than 100 kilograms of liquid or solid waste containing low-enriched uranium as part of its enrichment activities. Some of the material remains and the documents posted on Friday declare the low-enriched uranium it contains as “unrecoverable” and thereby not part of the 300-kilogram limit.

A letter on behalf of the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, authorising publication of the documents was also posted on the IAEA website.

It comes at a time that the incoming US administration has served notice it might seek to pull out of the agreement…….http://www.smh.com.au/world/unrecoverable-revealed-ndocuments-show-iran-can-not-make-nuclear-weapons-20161224-gthmpe.html

December 26, 2016 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Fake story” prompted Pakistan to issue a nuclear warning to Israel

flag-pakistanPakistan issues nuclear warning to Israel in response to ‘fake news’ story Israeli Ministry of Defence forced to point out initial story ‘completely fictitious’, The Independent Matt Broomfield  @hashtagbroom  25 Dec 16, The Defence Minister of Pakistan has issued a reminder to Israel of his country’s nuclear capability, in apparent response to a false news story.
Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in a tweet: “Israeli [Defence Minister] threatens nuclear retaliation presuming [Pakistani] role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”

Pakistan has remained relatively neutral in the Syrian civil war, though they have placed themselves on the side of the Assad regime, with their Foreign Secretary saying the world’s sixth-largest country is “against foreign military intervention in Syria.”

But a fake story published on the website AWDnews falsely suggested that Pakistan planned to “send ground troops to Syria as part of an international coalition to fight against Islamic State”.

The anonymously-authored story then features an apparently invented quote from former Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon, who resigned in May this year, sayig: “If, by misfortune, they arrive in Syria… we will destroy them with a nuclear attack.”

It is this story, which also includes a fabricated quote from the Pakistani Foreign Minister, which seemingly prompted Mr Asif’s tweet. The Israeli Ministry of Defence replied with a tweet of its own, pointing out the story was “completely fictitious”……. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/pakistan-israel-nuclear-warning-fake-news-story-response-islamabad-syria-a7494961.html 

 

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump ready to restart costly and dangerous nuclear arms race

Trump Welcomes Nuclear Arms Race: “We Will Outmatch Them at Every Pass”, Slate 23 Dec 16 By Daniel Politi President-elect Donald Trump is doubling down on a statement that alarmed non-proliferation experts around the globe, essentially saying he’s cool with a nuclear arms race. “Let it be an arms race,” Trump told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski when she asked him to clarify comments about expanding the country’s nuclear weapons capabilities. In the off-air conversation with the co-host of Morning Joe, the president-elect expressed confidence that the United States would come out on top anyway so there’s nothing to fear. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” Trump reportedly said.

Trump’s statement came a day after the president-elect shocked the world by writing on Twitter that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”…….

Donald Trump Says U.S. Should ‘Greatly’ Expand Nuclear Arsenal

The New York Times agrees there seems to be little doubt that at least based off on Trump’s statements, the president-elect seems willing to “restart the costly and dangerous Cold War-era nuclear weapons competition between the United States and the old Soviet Union.”……

The Russian leader said that his country’s military is stronger than any potential aggressor, even if he recognized the United States has a larger military. “Of course the U.S. has more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, but what we say is that we are stronger than any aggressor, and this is the case,” he said, adding that Russia has weapons that can penetrate U.S. defense systems.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/12/23/trump_welcomes_nuclear_arms_race_confident_we_will_outmatch_them_at_every.html

December 24, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran has shown commitment to the nuclear agreement – UN atomic energy watchdog

Head of U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran showing commitment to deal http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-amano-idUSKBN147083?il=0

Iran has shown commitment to the deal on its nuclear program agreed with world powers, the head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog said on Sunday, following complaints by Tehran over what it calls a U.S. violation of the accord.

The White House said on Thursday that a bill extending U.S. sanctions against Iran for 10 years would become law without President Barack Obama’s signature, adding this would not affect overall implementation of the nuclear agreement.

“We are satisfied with the implementation of the (agreement) and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA director general Yukiya Amano was quoted as telling reporters in Tehran by the IRNA news agency.

 “Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” Amano was quoted as saying after meeting Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi.

In response to the U.S. sanctions extension, Iran ordered its scientists last week to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels.

That action is expected to worsen tensions with Washington, already heightened by a promise by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s to scrap the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Amano on Sunday and “expressed hope Iran and the IAEA will be able to have good technical cooperation on nuclear propulsion for transports”, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said he presented the nuclear propulsion project to Amano during their meeting, adding that Iran would provide details of it in three months, IRNA reported.

Nuclear experts have said that Iran’s move, if carried out, would probably require Tehran to enrich uranium to a fissile purity above the maximum level set in the nuclear deal to allay fears of the country building an atomic bomb.

Salehi said the fuel used for nuclear propulsion could range between 5 and 90 percent in enrichment, but added: “We will certainly act within the framework of the (agreement),” IRNA reported.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Tehran is not allowed to enrich uranium above a 3.67 percent purity for 15 years, a level unlikely to be enough to run such vessels, according to experts.

Iran on Saturday also requested a meeting of a commission comprising representatives of signatories to the accord that is overseeing its implementation.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Sami Aboudi and Raissa Kasolowsky)

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Japanese government to provide $8.5 billion) for a UK nuclear power plant project in Wales

Tax - payersJapan, Hitachi to stump up $8.5 billion for Horizon nuclear project in Wales: source http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-nuclear-hitachi-idUSKBN1440BA   By Takaya Yamaguchi | TOKYO, 15 Dec 16 The Japanese government and a Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) unit will compile a package worth around 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) for a UK nuclear power plant project, a government official involved in the project said on Thursday.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan will provide financing for the project, the official told Reuters.

The funding plans are a boost for the project, one of several new nuclear plants planned in the UK, which is aiming to replacing its ageing fleet of atomic reactors.

Hitachi’s Horizon unit plans to construct at least 5.4 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity across two sites in Britain.

The funds will be provided for the first plant planned at Wylfa Newydd in Wales.

The Nikkei newspaper said Hitachi would invest about 10 percent of the expected 19 billion pounds ($24 billion) cost of the project. A Hitachi official declined to comment, saying the amount has not been announced.

($1 = 117.2600 yen)

($1 = 0.7971 pounds)

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Japanese government planning to subsidise Britain’s new nuclear build

Tax - payersTokyo eyes ¥1 trillion in financial support for Japanese firms pursuing U.K. nuclear plants http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/16/business/tokyo-eyes-%C2%A51-trillion-financial-support-japanese-firms-pursuing-u-k-nuclear-plants/#.WFONt9J97Gg The government is considering offering financial assistance through state-affiliated banks for projects won by Japanese companies for nuclear power plant construction in Britain, sources said Thursday.

Under study is a plan for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan to invest in and provide loans to local companies that build and operate nuclear power stations, the sources said.

 The Japanese government hopes to establish a framework for financial assistance totaling about ¥1 trillion within 2017 also by asking major Japanese and British private financial institutions to participate in the scheme, according to the sources.

Visiting British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday that Britain is holding talks with the Japanese government, Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. on a financial support framework for nuclear power plant construction projects in his country.

On the same day, Hammond met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to exchange opinions about nuclear plant construction.

British Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark plans to visit Japan as early as next week and hold meetings with officials of Hitachi, Toshiba and the JBIC.

Under the envisaged scheme, the Japanese government expects to offer financial assistance to Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., a unit of Hitachi, and NuGeneration Ltd., which is under the wing of Toshiba.

December 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships, and mounts legal challenge against US trade restrictions

RouhaniIran’s President Hassan Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships as he accuses US of ‘violating’ deal http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-nuclear-powered-war-ships-response-us-sanctions-a7471566.html

Leader mounting legal challenge against US trade restrictions Harriet Agerholm  @HarrietAgerholm Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation to start planning the development of nuclear-powered ships in reaction to what he called the United States’ violation of their nuclear deal.

Earlier in December the US Senate voted to extend the Iran Sanctions Act by 10 years, a decision that was criticised by the Iranian foreign minister at the time who said it showed the US government had “a lack of credibility”.

In a letter read out on Tuesday on state television, Mr Rouhani condemned the move as a breach of the 2015 nuclear accord and told the nation’s scientists to begin “planning the design and production of fuel and nuclear power plants for maritime transport”.

The leader also said he had ordered the foreign minister to mount a legal challenge against the US.

The 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers lifted a variety of sanctions against the nation in exchange for restrictions on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Yet the US keeps its own set of trade restrictions against the country – separate from the agreement – which were set to expire at the end of the year.

Politicians in the Senate said the sanctions were extended not only because of nuclear issues, but also over concerns about ballistic missile-testing and human rights in the country.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the extension into law in the coming days.

The nuclear marine propulsion technology Iran has vowed to develop uses a nuclear reactor to generate electricity on a ship. Tensions in the Middle East have grown since the US elected Donald Trump as President, Iran’s defence minister said on Sunday.

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal involves several nations – not just the USA

flag-IranNuclear agreement not a deal solely between U.S. and Iran: Daryl Kimball, Tehran Times By Javad Heirannia December 13, 2016 TEHRAN – Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, says the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran that can be unilaterally abrogated by the incoming administration of Donald Trump.

“The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran,” Kimball tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Kimball says, “If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.”

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: During presidential campaigns Donald Trump said he would “renegotiate” the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran. What is your prediction?

A: Yes, Mr. Trump did pledge to “dismantle” the 2015 agreement between six world powers and Iran, which has led to verifiable limits on Iran’s capacity to produce material that could be used for nuclear weapons, allowed Iran to continue peaceful nuclear activities, and led to the removal of nuclear-related international sanctions — a win-win scenario for both sides.

It is not clear at this point whether and how Trump would seek to do this or why. Trump’s campaign statements on many issues appear to have been designed to pander to hard-right elements of the Republican Party in order to obtain votes and to criticize the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton………..

Q: If Trump violates the JCPOA, how will Washington’s European allies and JCPOA parties react?

A: If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.

The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran. Washington worked with Russia, China, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to build an international sanctions regime to pressure Iran to the negotiating table and then reach a deal to block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. None of these countries have any intention of walking away from the agreement, which is working well for them, and the people of Iran.

If the United States administration or Congress takes actions that violate the JCPOA (such as failing to renew waivers of nuclear-related sanctions under the “Iran Sanctions Act”) or measures that are clearly designed to provoke Iran to take actions that would violation the JCPOA, I think it very likely that the United States’ P5+1 partners will resist such actions and seek to insulate the JCPOA as much as possible. Many American foreign policy experts and a significant majority of the American people would also question such a cynical and counterproductive move…….

If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments. After sending such a message to the international community, Trump would be hard-pressed to build an international sanctions coalition strong enough to push Iran back to the negotiating table.

On the other hand, if the IAEA finds that Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the deal, however minor the infraction, it is likely that hard-liners in Congress and in the Trump administration will seek to use this as a reason to blame Iran and walk away from the deal and reimpose sanctions. This makes it essential, in my view, for Iran to continue to meet its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/409095/Nuclear-agreement-not-a-deal-solely-between-U-S-and-Iran-Daryl

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment