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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Trump, ready to make it easy for Saudi Arabia to get ‘peaceful” nuclear, AND nuclear weapons

Trump Considers Easing Nuclear Rules for Saudi Project https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/trump-is-said-to-consider-easing-nuclear-rules-for-saudi-project By Jennifer Jacobs,  Ari Natter,and Jennifer A Dlouhy  

  • Westinghouse is looking for new markets after bankruptcy
  • Past deals barred uranium enrichment for overseas projects

The Trump administration is encouraging Saudi Arabia to consider bids by Westinghouse Electric Co. and other U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in that country and may allow the enrichment of uranium as part of that deal, according to three people familiar with the plans.

 Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Saudi Arabia this month where the projects were discussed, according to two people. The people familiar asked not to be identified discussing the confidential negotiations.
Previous U.S. agreements have prohibited the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium, and that had scuttled negotiations to use U.S. technology in Saudi nuclear projects during the Obama administration. The administration is mulling easing that requirement now as a way to help Westinghouse and other companies win Saudi Arabian contracts, two people said.

A meeting to hammer out details of the nuclear cooperation agreement, known as a 123 Agreement for the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act that requires it, will be held at the White House Wednesday, two administration officials said.

A successful U.S. bid would help deliver on President Donald Trump’s promise to revive and revitalize the domestic nuclear industry, helping American companies edge out Russian and Chinese competitors to build new fleets around the world. Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Westinghouse, the nuclear technology pioneer that is part of Toshiba Corp., went bankrupt in March, after it hit delays with its AP1000 reactors at two U.S. plants. After it declared bankruptcy, Westinghouse — whose technology is used in more than half the world’s nuclear power plants — said it shifted its focus to expanding outside the U.S.

Winning contracts in Saudi Arabia could provide a new market that Westinghouse needs and provide at least a partial vindication for the investment in the AP1000 technology.

“Westinghouse is pleased that Saudi Arabia has decided to pursue nuclear energy,” Sarah Cassella, a spokeswoman, said in a emailed statement. “We are fully participating in their request for information and are pleased to provide the AP1000 plant, the industry’s most advanced technology.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said weakening the prohibition against enrichment and reprocessing, often referred to as “the gold standard,” is disturbing given what he said was Saudi Arabia’s “sub-par nuclear nonproliferation record.”

“We shouldn’t compromise our longstanding efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons in order to play favorites with certain companies or countries,” he said in an email, calling the idea “disturbing and counterproductive.”

— With assistance by Chris Martin

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December 13, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

China builds refugee camps – prepared for influx should Kim Jong-un’s regime collapse

China building network of refugee camps along border with North Korea https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/12/china-refugee-camps-border-north-korea Document suggests at least five camps are being set up as Beijing prepares for possible influx of refugees should Kim Jong-un’s regime collapse, Guardian, Tom Phillips , 12 Dec 17, China is quietly building a network of refugee camps along its 880-mile (1,416km) border with North Korea as it braces for the human exodus that a conflict or the potentially messy collapse of Kim Jong-un’s regime might unleash.

The existence of plans for the camps, first reported in English by the Financial Times last week, emerged in an apparently leaked internal document from a state-run telecoms giant that appears to have been tasked with providing them with internet services.

The China Mobile document, which has circulated on social media and overseas Chinese websites since last week, reveals plans for at least five refugee camps in Jilin province.

The document, which the Guardian could not independently verify, says: “Due to cross-border tensions … the [Communist] party committee and government of Changbai county has proposed setting up five refugee camps in the county.”

It gives the names and locations of three such facilities: Changbai riverside, Changbai Shibalidaogou and Changbai Jiguanlizi. The New York Times reportedthat centres for refugees were also planned in the cities of Tumen and Hunchun.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry declined to confirm the camps’ existence at a regular press briefing on Monday but did not deny they were being built. “I haven’t seen such reports,” Lu Kang told reporters.

The question was purged from the foreign ministry’s official transcript of the briefing, as regularly happens with topics raised by foreign journalists that are considered politically sensitive or inconvenient.

North Korea fortifies part of border where defector escaped

The leaked document contains the name and telephone number of a China Mobile employee who drafted it but calls to that number went unanswered on Tuesday. The construction of the camps appears to reflect growing concern in Beijing about the potential for political instability – or even regime collapse – in North Korea.

Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea specialist from Renmin University in Beijing, said while he could not confirm whether the document was genuine, it would be irresponsible for China not to make such preparations.

“Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula … it is on the brink of war. As a major power and a neighbouring country, China should make plans for all eventualities.”

Jiro Ishimaru, a Japanese documentary maker who runs a network of citizen journalists inside North Korea and on the Chinese side of the border, said a contact in Changbai county had recently told him that while they had not seen signs of camps being built there, they “had heard there are plans to build a facility”.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have soared this year as the US president, Donald Trump, has stepped up pressure on his North Korean counterpart and Pyongyang has accelerated its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Trump has baited Kim with the nickname “Little Rocket Man” and threats of military action, while Kim has responded with insults of his own, and a succession of nuclear and missile tests that have brought two new rounds of UN sanctions.

Following its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test on 29 November, Pyongyang claimed the ability to strike anywhere on US soil.

‘Quite backwards’: Chinese tourists gawk at impoverished North Koreans

In an interview with the Guardian in Beijing on Monday, Dennis Rodman, the NBA star turned would-be peacemaker, played down fearsof a catastrophic nuclear conflict and denied Kim, whom he calls his friend, was “going to try and bomb or kill anyone in America”.

“We ain’t gonna die, man, come on, no … It’s not like that,” Rodman insisted, urging Trump to use him as an intermediary to engage with Kim. He described the verbal war between Trump and Kim as “a chess game” that should not be taken too seriously.

Beijing seems less certain. Last week one official newspaper in Jilin, the Chinese province closest to North Korea’s nuclear test site, hinted at that nervousness with a full-page article offering tips on how to react to a nuclear incident.

Iodine tablets, masks and soap were useful allies in the event of such a catastrophe, readers of the Jilin Daily learned.

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen and Justin McCurry in Tokyo.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Russioa denies USA allegations : says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact

Russia says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact, Reuters Staff,   MOSCOW (Reuters) 9 Dec 17 – Russia said on Saturday it was fully committed to a Cold War-era pact with the United States banning intermediate-range cruise missiles, a day after Washington accused Moscow of violating the treaty.

   The U.S. State Department said on Friday Washington was reviewing military options, including new intermediate-range cruise missile systems, in response to what it said was Russia’s ongoing violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The warning was the first response by President Donald Trump’s administration to U.S. charges first leveled in 2014 that Russia had deployed a ground-launched cruise missile that breaches the pact’s ban on testing and fielding missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kms (310-3,417 miles).

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said those allegations were “absolutely unfounded”……

Echoing previous Russian statements, Ryabkov said Moscow was fully committed to the treaty, had always rigorously complied with it, and was prepared to continue doing so.

“However, if the other side stops following it, we will be forced, as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has already said, to respond in kind,” he added.

The U.S. allegation has further strained relations between Moscow and Washington, and the State Department on Friday hinted at possible economic sanctions over the issue…… https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-usa-nuclear/russia-says-it-is-fully-committed-to-nuclear-missile-pact-idUSKBN1E30HZ

December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea – open to talks with USA?

North Korea ready to open direct talks with US, says Russia’s Sergei Lavrov https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/07/north-korea-ready-direct-talks-us-sergei-lavrov

Pyongyang ‘wants above all to talk to the US about guarantees for its security’
Lavrov says he informed Rex Tillerson in Vienna on Thursday, Guardian, Julian Borger in Washington, 8 Dec 17North Korea is open to direct talks with the US over their nuclear standoff, according to the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said he passed that message to his counterpart, Rex Tillerson, when the two diplomats met in Vienna on Thursday.

There was no immediate response from Tillerson but the official position of the state department is that North Korea would have to show itself to be serious about giving up its nuclear arsenal as part of a comprehensive agreement before a dialogue could begin.

Lavrov conveyed the apparent offer on the day a top UN official, Jeffrey Feltman, met the North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, in Pyongyang, during the first high-level UN visit to the country for six years. Feltman is an American and a former US diplomat, but the state department stressed he was not in North Korea with any message from Washington.

“We know that North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations,” Lavrov said at an international conference in Vienna, according to the Interfax news agency. “Our American colleagues, [including] Rex Tillerson, have heard this.”

The diplomatic moves come amid an increased sense of urgency to find a way of defusing the tensions over North Korea’s increasingly ambitious nuclear and missile tests. The standoff reached a new peak on 29 November, when North Korea tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-15, capable of reaching Washington, New York and the rest of the continental United States. The missile launch followed the test of what was apparently a hydrogen bomb in September.

Pyongyang has said that current joint exercises by the US and South Korea involving hundreds of warplanes, along with “bellicose remarks” by US officials have “made an outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula an established fact”.

“The remaining question now is: when will the war break out,” a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

North Korean officials have said in recent informal meetings that they are particularly concerned by the threat of a surprise “decapitation” strike, aimed at killing the country’s leaders and paralysing military command and control systems before Pyongyang could launch its missiles.

The heightened tensions and threatening language have increased fears around the world that the two sides could blunder into war through miscalculation, mistaking war games for a real attack or misreading blurred red lines.

US and North Korean positions are currently far apart, with Pyongyang rejecting any suggestion that its nuclear disarmament would be on the table at any future negotiation. The regime wants the US to recognise it as a nuclear weapons power and cease its “hostile policies” to North Korea, including sanctions and military manoeuvres off the Korean peninsula.

For its part, the US has rejected a “freeze-for-freeze” proposal advanced by Russiaand China, by which North Korea would suspend nuclear and missile tests while the US would curtail its military exercises.

State department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday that direct talks with North Korea were “not on the table until they are willing to denuclearize.”

However, the two sides have had informal contacts this year, involving Joseph Yun, the US special representative for North Korea policy. Those contacts, known as the “New York channel” were cut by the North Koreans after threatening remarks by Donald Trump during the UN general assembly in September. But there have been some recent signs that Pyongyang might be interested in restoring the channel.

At a meeting in Stockholm that brought together western experts and officials from Pyongyang in late November, a North Korean representative appeared to raise, for the first time, the possibility of a channel for military-to-military communication with the US.

“In an informal discussion that we had in Stockholm, an official made an observation that there isn’t at present a way for the US and North Korea to work together to prevent an accident. I thought that was an interesting observation that I had not heard them say before,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America thinktank who has played a leading role in back-channel contacts with Iran and North Korea, and who attended the Stockholm meeting.

“I think the US would be best served by putting aside the focus on denuclearisation and instead look at ways to prevent accidents, reduce risks and de-escalate. Those to me seem like achievable goals.”

Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst who was director for Korea, Japan and Oceanic affairs at the national security council in the Bush and Obama administrations, said Washington might be amenable to such a military hotline being established.

“I think even this administration recognises that some sort of an open channel is needed for that, not to negotiate but to have a little more transparency,” she said. “I think everyone recognises that is needed.”

Terry, who was deputy national intelligence officer for east Asia at the national intelligence council from 2009 to 2010, said that it was also possible that Yun could re-establish the New York channel with Pyongyang. But she added there was little sign such contacts would lead to substantive negotiations in the current climate.

“This latest test put a big hole in the possibility of negotiation at this moment, she said. “Ambassador Yun might do that but it’s different with the White House. I’m not sure he has strong White House support.”

December 9, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA internationally isolated as Donald Trump continues menacing North Korea

Donald Trump’s menacing talk on North Korea is leaving the US isolated https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/30/donald-trump-menacing-talk-north-korea-us-isolated

The US president seems oblivious to the consequences of war, and international support for his belligerence is weakening, Guardian, Simon Tisdall, 1 Dec 17, Donald Trump’s latest threat to destroy North Korea’s regime by force produced an angry response from Russia on Thursday. Yet elsewhere, the menacing talk from Washington was mostly met with uncomfortable silence.

While there is no shortage of international concern about Kim Jong-un’s latest, “breakthrough” missile test on Wednesday, Trump’s bellicose talk of war is rendering the US increasingly isolated.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, appeared to voice doubts shared by other countries when he claimed on Thursday that Trump was deliberately pushing Pyongyang towards military confrontation. “It seems they have done everything on purpose to make Kim lose control and make another desperate move,” he said.

Lavrov rejected imposing additional sanctions demanded by Trump. Lavrov suggested previously unscheduled US military exercises in December were part of an undisclosed plan to trigger a conflict. “The Americans need to explain to us all what they are actually up to. If they seek a pretext to destroy North Korea, they should openly say so.”

Reacting to Wednesday’s test, Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, upped the ante again, pinning blame wholly on Kim’s shoulders. “If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday … If war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed,” she said.

It’s a view rejected by China which, like Russia, has repeatedly urged Trump to halt the military buildup and start talking. The official China Daily said opportunities created by Beijing to launch a dialogue had been “casually wasted” by the US. By re-designating North Korea as a sponsor of state terrorism, Trump had reignited a crisis that had abated since September, the paper said.

Trump’s uncanny ability to lose friends and alienate people makes it unlikely Xi Jinping, China’s president, will heed his latest appeal, made in a personal telephone call, for a full oil embargo on North Korea.

Trump continues to taunt Kim. Speaking in Missouri this week, he added the insult “sick puppy” to his previous, mocking description of Kim as “little rocket man”. This kind of playground name-calling and casual presidential rudeness is becoming familiar to allies as well as foes, as Theresa May discovered this week.

Whatever his military advisers may be telling Trump about the feasibility of “taking out” Kim’s regime, there seems scant understanding in Trump’s White House of the human, political and diplomatic consequences of forcible regime change. The US relationship with Xi’s China would be wrecked by any unilateral, potentially illegal military action in Beijing’s backyard. It could dash Trump’s hopes for more balanced economic ties. It might also induce China to increase defence spending and redouble its efforts to supplant the US as the Asia-Pacific’s leading military power.

Russia would take full advantage of such a rift, which could extend to the US-Europe and Nato relationships. It cannot be assumed the western alliance, frequently denigrated by Trump, would support the US in such a scenario. On past form, France and Germany would be reluctant to back what most of the world would certainly view as US aggression against a weaker adversary. The split over Iraq in 2003 might be magnified many times over.

An outbreak of hostilities undoubtedly risks large-scale loss of life. Even if North Korea failed to retaliate effectively – a big if – public and political outrage in South Korea and Japan would seriously damage America’s regional interests. Japan’s hawkish prime minister, Shinzo Abe, a Trump golf buddy, would be likely to face a fierce backlash. There would be renewed pressure to close US bases in both countries.

Meanwhile, the negative effect on the global economy, stock markets, oil prices and business can only be guessed at. Trump’s obliviousness to the possible consequences of his actions is the main reason why international support for Washington’s increasingly menacing stance seems to be weakening, even as the North Korean conundrum intensifies. By threatening Armageddon, Trump may ensure Kim wins.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | 1 Comment

President Trump throws a diplomatic bomb into the Middle East peace process

With Jerusalem Move, Trump Sabotages His Own Mideast Peace Process, By Robin Wright December 6, 2017

December 9, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Russian authorities deny that radioactive cloud came from its Mayak nuclear plant

Russia claims radioactivity spike not due to nuclear plant http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/russia-spike-radioactivity-unrelated-nuclear-plant-51665118, By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, ASSOCIATED PRESS, MOSCOW — Dec 8, 2017, Russian authorities denied Friday that a radioactivity spike in the air over Europe this fall resulted from a nuclear fuel processing plant leak in the Ural mountains, saying their probe has found no release of radioactivity there.

Vladimir Boltunov of Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear corporation said an inspection of the Mayak nuclear plant has proven that it wasn’t the source of Ruthenium-106, a radioactive isotope spotted in the air over Europe and Russia in late September and early October.

France’s nuclear safety agency said last month that increased levels of Ruthenium-106 were recorded over most of Europe but posed no health or environmental risks.

The Russian panel that involved experts from Rosatom and other agencies failed to identify where the isotope came from, but alleged it could have come from a satellite that came down from its orbit and disintegrated in the atmosphere.

Nuclear safety expert Rafael Arutyunian said while isotopes of plutonium, cesium or strontium are normally used as power sources for satellites, it can’t be excluded that Ruthenium-106 could have been used in some satellite equipment.

The assumption that the isotope came from a crashing satellite would explain its broad spread over Europe, he argued.

Arutyunian, deputy head of the Institute for Safe Nuclear Energy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that a broader panel will continue investigating the radioactivity.

Last month, the Russian state meteorological office reported high levels of Ruthenium-106 in late September in areas close to Mayak, but Arutyunian and other experts emphasized that they were still tens of thousand times less than the level that would pose health risks.

The environmental group Greenpeace alleged that Mayak could have been the source of a Ruthenium-106 leak, but the panel insisted the plant doesn’t extract the isotope or conduct any other operations that may lead to its release.

The commission said a thorough inspection of the plant had found no safety breaches and checks of its personnel also hadn’t detected any trace of the isotope.

Vyacheslav Usoltsev of Rosatom’s safety inspectorate said a sophisticated monitoring system at the plant would have spotted any release of radiation.

The panel also noted that while increased levels of Ruthenium-106 were spotted in the Urals and over Europe, they weren’t detected over a 2,000-kilometer (1,250-mile) swath of land between the Urals and Russia’s western border. It argued that if the source of the leak were on the ground, it would have spread the trace of Ruthenium-106 midway.

Mayak, in the Chelyabinsk region, saw one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents on Sept. 29, 1957, when a waste tank exploded. That contaminated 23,000 square kilometers (9,200 square miles) and prompted authorities to evacuate 10,000 residents from neighboring regions.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | environment, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

USA claims that Russia is violating 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

U.S. presses Russia to comply with nuclear missile treaty  WASHINGTON (Reuters) 9 Dec 17, – The United States is reviewing military options, including new intermediate-range cruise missile systems, in response to what it says is Russia’s ongoing violation of a Cold War-era pact banning such missiles, the State Department said on Friday.

Washington is prepared “to cease such research and development activities” if Russia returns to compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The warning was the Trump administration’s first response to U.S. charges first leveled in 2014 that Russia had deployed a ground-launched cruise missile that breaches the pact’s ban on the testing and fielding of missiles with ranges of between 500-5,500 kms (310-3,417 miles).

U.S. officials have said the Russian cruise missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and that Moscow has refused to hold indepth discussions about the alleged breach.

Russia has denied that it is violating the accord.

The U.S. allegation has added to strains in relations between Moscow and Washington. U.S. and Russian officials are due to discuss the issue at a meeting in coming weeks of the special commission that oversees the treaty, said a U.S. official, who requested anonymity…….https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-russia/u-s-presses-russia-to-comply-with-nuclear-missile-treaty-idUSKBN1E224A

December 9, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. ex-envoy Robert Gallucci urges Washington and Pyongyang to consider China’s ‘freeze to freeze’ compromise

Japan Times, 7 Dec 17  KYODO, WASHINGTON – A former U.S. envoy has urged the Washington to  hold talks with Pyongyang without preconditions to break the impasse over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile threats.

“I am of the view that the two sides should agree to have ‘talks about talks’ without any preconditions,” Robert Gallucci, chief negotiator for the now-defunct 1994 nuclear freeze struck with North Korea, said in an interview.

 Gallucci’s view is at odds with U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy of imposing “maximum pressure” on North Korea in concert with the international community to compel the hermit country halt its provocative acts and engage in credible talks for denuclearization.

Gallucci also questioned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s emphasis on pressuring North Korea, pointing out Abe’s insistence that now is not the time to talk to the country, given that it hasn’t changed its provocative behavior.

“I can’t believe refusing to talk with North Korea is in the best interests of Japan,” he said, referring to Abe’s resolve to address Pyongyang’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. “I think an effort at lowering tensions would be. That he does not see it that way, I regret.”………

In a separate interview, Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, said he does not believe pressure and sanctions alone will achieve the Trump administration’s goal of denuclearizing North Korea.

Pollack described the relationship as a seemingly endless cycle of provocations and pressure.

“Both countries are stuck in this loop where we increasingly are looking for additional increments of punishment and pressure, and they’re looking for additional increments of pressure through a sense of danger,” he said…….https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/12/07/national/politics-diplomacy/u-s-ex-envoy-robert-gallucci-urges-washington-pyongyang-consider-chinas-freeze-freeze-compromise/#.Wint99KWbGh

December 7, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Living with a nuclear North Korea – a better idea than panicking into nuclear war

Why can’t we live with a nuclear North Korea?, The Week,  Gracy Olmstead  6 Dec 17 How do you “solve” the North Korea problem? This question has dominated U.S. foreign policy discussions for years. Former President Barack Obama warned President Trump before his inauguration that the small, poor, nuclear-armed country could pose the most urgent foreign policy challenge of his presidency.

Despite extensive economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure, North Korea continues to advance its military power. Last week, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could potentially reach the entire continental U.S. American politicians are scrambling to figure out how to respond.

Unfortunately, the first and primary position on the part of most U.S. policymakers has been panicked overreaction. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN, “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. If there’s a war with North Korea it will be because North Korea brought it on itself, and we’re headed to a war if things don’t change.”…….

North Korea is an oppressive and dictatorial country, one that has committed a plethora of human rights atrocities against its citizens, and which uses propaganda and antagonism to anger its opponents on the world stage. We know this. But while concerning, this new step by North Korea is neither unexpected nor revolutionary. The fundamentals of the situation remain unchanged. Policymakers need to take a deep breath.

Calling for war or military strikes to remove their nuclear capabilities is a counterproductive and dangerous policy. U.S. resources and presence in the region are already considerable — as American University scholar Joshua Rovner explains, “The best way to deter nuclear powers from using their arsenals to act more conventionally aggressive is by maintaining local conventional superiority. This enhances deterrence without risking escalation, which in turn reduces questions about credibility and alleviates stress on alliances.”

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in opposes preventive strikes in response to North Korea’s recent tests, and has expressed some concern that the U.S. might act prematurely. “We must stop a situation where North Korea miscalculates and threatens us with nuclear weapons or where the United States considers a pre-emptive strike,” he said at a recent emergency meeting in Seoul.

Attempting to overthrow or undermine North Korea’s regime would have massive implications for South Korea, as well as for China and North Korea’s vulnerable citizenry. In this instance, preventive military action would result in a bevy of unintended consequences, yet nobody in the Trump administration talks about this…….

Calling for war or military strikes to remove their nuclear capabilities is a counterproductive and dangerous policy. U.S. resources and presence in the region are already considerable — as American University scholar Joshua Rovner explains, “The best way to deter nuclear powers from using their arsenals to act more conventionally aggressive is by maintaining local conventional superiority. This enhances deterrence without risking escalation, which in turn reduces questions about credibility and alleviates stress on alliances.”

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in opposes preventive strikes in response to North Korea’s recent tests, and has expressed some concern that the U.S. might act prematurely. “We must stop a situation where North Korea miscalculates and threatens us with nuclear weapons or where the United States considers a pre-emptive strike,” he said at a recent emergency meeting in Seoul.

Attempting to overthrow or undermine North Korea’s regime would have massive implications for South Korea, as well as for China and North Korea’s vulnerable citizenry. In this instance, preventive military action would result in a bevy of unintended consequences, yet nobody in the Trump administration talks about this.

…….”Maximum pressure” will not work with North Korea. The U.S. must instead consider a strategy that acknowledges North Korea’s purpose and personality — and one that inspires confidence and respect in our allies, most especially South Korea, whose confidence in us seems to have been shaken by recent events…….

Although a nuclear North Korea is far from ideal, descending into panic will not serve U.S. interests abroad, and it won’t keep America safe. The Trump administration must consider the dangerous ramifications of their belligerent stance toward North Korea, before they make a catastrophic miscalculation. http://theweek.com/articles/740247/why-cant-live-nuclear-north-korea

December 6, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN General Assembly endorses a Japanese anti-nuclear resolution

UN adopts Japan’s nuke abolition motion, but support down http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2122891/un-adopts-japans-nuke-abolition-motion-support-down   Among other things the resolution renews the determination of all states to take united action toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons    05 December, 2017 , The UN General Assembly on Monday endorsed a Japanese anti-nuclear resolution by a wide margin, although fewer countries backed it than in previous years amid perceptions of its back-pedalling on disarmament.

The motion, submitted by Japan for the 24th year in a row, was supported by 156 nations, down 11 from last year. It was opposed by the same four nations as last year – China, North Korea, Russia and Syria – while 24 abstained, up by eight.

The vote this year took place against the backdrop of the July 7 adoption of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which for the first time bans nuclear weapons. Its supporters have consistently criticised the text of Japan’s latest resolution, saying its language backtracks on previous agreements and makes no mention of the ban treaty.

Among other things the resolution “renews the determination of all states to take united action toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons through easing of international tension and strengthening the trust between states … to facilitate disarmament and through strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

Meanwhile, an official from a nuclear possessor state who requested anonymity praised Tokyo for “reflecting what is actually happening in the world” through its revised text.

In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono stressed the breadth of support for the resolution, saying it was backed by 95 countries agreeing with the ban treaty as well as nuclear powers the United States, Britain and France.

“Out of all the motions on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation submitted to the United Nations, Japan’s has the most support from countries taking various different positions,” Kono told a press conference.

The ban treaty got an extra boost in October when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for their work highlighting the plight of atomic bomb survivors, such as Setsuko Thurlow. She has often spoken out at the United Nations and will be among those there at the Oslo award ceremony for the prize.

A UN committee in late October backed Japan’s motion by 144 votes, with four ‘no’ votes and 27 abstentions. The greater number of yes votes at the General Assembly was due to some countries not present for the committee vote casting positive votes, including Fiji, Vanuatu, Sierra Leone and Gambia.

December 6, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

United Nations’ political chief makes rare visit to North Korea

U.N. political chief makes rare visit to North Korea for ‘wide-ranging’ discussions, Japan Times, AP, AFP-JIJI, KYODO, STAFF REPORT

The U.N.’s political chief, and America’s highest-ranking national in the U.N. Secretariat, arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to begin a rare four-day visit at the invitation of Pyongyang, for a “wide-ranging” discussion on policy issues “of mutual interest and concern.”

The trip comes a week after the isolated regime launched its most powerful missile to date, and during a massive joint air exercise by the U.S. and South Korea on the Korean Peninsula involving 230 aircraft and 12,000 American troops.

 The highest-level U.N. official to visit North Korea in more than six years, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman had met with China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong on Monday before setting off for North Korea’s capital the next day, according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric. Feltman was later confirmed to have arrived in Pyongyang, after being seen earlier Tuesday in a U.N.-flagged car at the Chinese capital’s international airport from which North Korea’s Air Koryo operates flights.

Asked whether Feltman would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Dujarric said that his current schedule included meetings with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk, diplomats and U.N. staff for “wide-ranging” discussions.”………

Feltman’s visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between North Korea and South Korea, Japan and the United States, sparked by the reclusive country’s frequent missile launches and recent nuclear test, and particularly by its latest long-range ballistic missile launch.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump have traded insults and engaged in escalating rhetoric in recent months……..https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/12/05/asia-pacific/politics-diplomacy-asia-pacific/u-n-political-chief-jeffrey-feltman-heads-north-korea-rare-visit-tensions-soar/#.WicB7NKWbGg

December 6, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Russia slams North Korea’s nuclear gambling and US’ provocative conduct

Russia lambasts both North Korea’s nuclear gambling and US’ provocative conduct – Lavrov http://tass.com/politics/978758  December 02 MINSK,   Moscow condemns both Pyongyang’s gambling with nuclear weapons and missiles and Washington’s provocative behavior, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Belarussian television STVon Saturday.

“Condemning Pyongyang’s nuclear missile gambling, we cannot but condemn our American counterparts’ provocative behavior. Unfortunately, they are trying to draw to their side the Japanese and South Koreans who will fall the first victims in case war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula,” Lavrov said.

Speaking about the missile launch conducted by North Korea earlier in the week, the Russian foreign minister pointed out that “the North Korean leader had not been involved in any reckless scheme over the past two months.”

“Simultaneously, in September our American counterparts made it clear that the next major military exercise off the Korean Peninsula had been scheduled for the next spring,” Lavrov said. “There came a hint that amid the current situation, if the pause, which naturally emerged in the US-South Korean drills, had been used by Pyongyang in order not to disturb the placidity, conditions could have been created for some sort of dialogue to start. We said we appreciated the stance and were working with Pyongyang.”

 “Then, all of a sudden, two weeks later after the Americans had sent us a signal, they announced extra drills, that is not in the spring but in October and then in November,” he continued. “Now they announced another exercise in December. There is an impression that they had provoked [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un on purpose so that he could not hold a pause but snapped under their provocations.”

Lavrov pointed out that the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a security alliance of former Soviet states, “abides largely by a unified stance” on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

“We do not tolerate the DPRK’s nuclear weapon claims [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea],” Lavrov said. “All the CSTO members support the resolution of the UN Security Council. We comply with the imposed sanctions.”

Simultaneously, the CSTO states “call to leave behind rhetoric, threats and insults and to find ways to restart the talks,” he said.

In the morning on November 29, North Korea conducted a missile launch, the first one since September 15. According to North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA), a Hwasong-15 missile covered a distance of 950 kilometers in 53 minutes, reaching an altitude of 4,475 kilometers. The Japanese Defense Ministry said the missile had fallen into the sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, 250 kilometers west off the coast of Japan’s Aomori Prefecture.

December 4, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Michael Flynn claims that the Trump campaign ordered him to contact Russia

Michael Flynn says senior Trump campaign officials directed his communications with Russians
The former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI,
Independent UK,  Emily Shugerman New York, 1 Dec 17,  Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has claimed the Trump campaign ordered him to contact Russia during their transition to the White House.

Michael Flynn alleged in a plea deal that a senior campaign official directed him to make contact with Russian officials. The plea deal did not name the senior official.

Mr Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to making a false statement to the FBI regarding the investigation. The ex-adviser lied to agents about his conversations with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, telling them he had not counselled Mr Kislyak on how to respond to sanctions imposed by then-President Barack Obama during the transition.

The former national security adviser is the first senior member of the Trump transition team to plead guilty as a result of the Russia investigation.

In a statement, Mr Flynn called his actions “wrong,” and said he had chosen to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’sinvestigation “in the best interests of my family and of our country”. Mr Mueller is investigating possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice by the Trump team……..

The 58-year-old is the fourth Trump campaign associate to be charged in Mr Mueller’s Russia probe. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were charged with various financial crimes last month. Both pleaded not guilty.

George Papadopolous, a former campaign adviser also charged by Mr Mueller, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia sources http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/michael-flynn-trump-russia-directed-communications-mar-a-lago-senior-official-latest-news-updates-a8087431.html

December 2, 2017 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

USA nuclear industry keen to sell to ANYBODY – pushing for Saudi Arabia sales

U.S. firms push Washington to restart nuclear pact talks with Riyadh: sources    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-nuclear-usa/u-s-firms-push-washington-to-restart-nuclear-pact-talks-with-riyadh-sources-idUSKBN1DV586?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews. Reem ShamseddineSylvia Westall RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) 1 Dec 17,  – U.S. firms attracted by Saudi Arabia’s plans to build nuclear reactors are pushing Washington to restart talks with Riyadh on an agreement to help the kingdom develop atomic energy, three industry sources said.

Saudi Arabia has welcomed the lobbying, they said, though it is likely to worry regional rival Iran at a time when tensions are already high in the Middle East.

One of the sources also said Riyadh had told Washington it does not want to forfeit the possibility of one day enriching uranium – a process that can have military uses – though this is a standard condition of U.S. civil nuclear cooperation pacts.

“They want to secure enrichment if down the line they want to do it,” the source, who is in contact with Saudi and U.S. officials, said before U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry holds talks in Riyadh early next week.

Another of the industry sources said Saudi Arabia and the United States had already held initial talks about a nuclear cooperation pact.

U.S. officials and Saudi officials responsible for nuclear energy issues declined to comment for this article. The sources did not identify the U.S. firms involved in the lobbying.

Under Article 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, a peaceful cooperation agreement is required for the transfer of nuclear materials, technology and equipment.

In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign up to any agreement with the United States that would deprive the kingdom of the possibility of one day enriching uranium.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, says it wants nuclear power solely for peaceful uses – to produce electricity at home so that it can export more crude. It has not yet acquired nuclear power or enrichment technology.

Riyadh sent a request for information to nuclear reactor suppliers in October in a first step towards opening a multi-billion-dollar tender for two nuclear power reactors, and plans to award the first construction contract in 2018.

Reuters has reported that Westinghouse is in talks with other U.S.-based companies to form a consortium for the bid. A downturn in the U.S. nuclear industry makes business abroad increasingly valuable for American firms.

Reactors need uranium enriched to around 5 percent purity but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to a higher, weapons-grade level. This has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns over the nuclear work of Iran, which enriches uranium domestically.

Riyadh’s main reason to leave the door open to enrichment in the future may be political – to ensure the Sunni Muslim kingdom has the same possibility of enriching uranium as Shi‘ite Muslim Iran, industry sources and analysts say.

POTENTIAL PROBLEM FOR WASHINGTON

Saudi Arabia’s position poses a potential problem for the United States, which has strengthened ties with the kingdom under President Donald Trump.

Washington usually requires a country to sign a nuclear cooperation pact – known as a 123 agreement – that forfeits steps in fuel production with potential bomb-making uses.

“Doing less than this would undermine U.S. credibility and risk the increased spread of nuclear weapons capabilities to Saudi Arabia and the region,” said David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

It is not clear whether Riyadh will raise the issue during Perry’s visit, which one of the industry sources said could include discussion of nuclear export controls.

Under a nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 with world powers – but which Trump has said he might pull the United States out of – Tehran can enrich uranium to around the level needed for commercial power-generation.

It would be “a huge change of policy” for Washington to allow Saudi Arabia the right to enrich uranium, said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas office at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

“Applying the ‘golden standard’ of not allowing enrichment or preprocessing (of spent fuel) has held up a 123 agreement with Jordan for many years, and has been a key issue in U.S. nuclear cooperation with South Korea,” said Fitzpatrick, a nuclear policy expert.

The United States is likely to aim for restrictions, non-proliferation analysts say.

These could be based on those included in the 123 agreement Washington signed in 2009 with the United Arab Emirates, which is set to start up its first South Korean-built reactor in 2018 and has ruled out enrichment and reprocessing.

“Perhaps Saudi Arabia is testing the Trump administration and seeing if the administration would be amenable to fewer restrictions in a 123 agreement,” ISIS’s Albright said.

It would be “a huge change of policy” for Washington to allow Saudi Arabia the right to enrich uranium, said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas office at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

“Applying the ‘golden standard’ of not allowing enrichment or preprocessing (of spent fuel) has held up a 123 agreement with Jordan for many years, and has been a key issue in U.S. nuclear cooperation with South Korea,” said Fitzpatrick, a nuclear policy expert.

The United States is likely to aim for restrictions, non-proliferation analysts say.

These could be based on those included in the 123 agreement Washington signed in 2009 with the United Arab Emirates, which is set to start up its first South Korean-built reactor in 2018 and has ruled out enrichment and reprocessing.

“Perhaps Saudi Arabia is testing the Trump administration and seeing if the administration would be amenable to fewer restrictions in a 123 agreement,” ISIS’s Albright said.

December 2, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment