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USA has conned Australia into paying for its super-costly nuclear submarine project

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

Has PM put Australia on the hook to finance struggling UK, US submarine projects? Michael West Media, By Marcus Reubenstein| September 23, 2021,

“Almost comical”. Experts lambast Scott Morrison’s “crazy” AUKUS deal to buy nuclear submarine tech from parlous UK and US programs. Marcus Reubenstein finds a real prospect Australia will be used to “underwrite” the foundering foreign submarine industry.

Twenty-five years of ongoing maintenance delays for nuclear submarines, chronic shortage of both parts and skilled workers, under capacity at shipyards, and attack class submarines missing from deployments for up to nine months. These sound like potential problems for Australia’s future nuclear submarine fleet but they are actual problems right now confronting the US Navy and its fleet of 70 submarines.

The US is at the cutting edge of nuclear propulsion. It has the largest and most sophisticated submarine fleet in the world, its first nuclear submarine was commissioned 67 years ago, and the US has literally decommissioned twice as many nuclear subs as Australia is planning to buy. 

If the US cannot manage to keep its fleet in the water, how can the Morrison government commit up to $100 billion of taxpayer money to secure nuclear submarines and guarantee they will be always operational and ready for deployment?

Professor Hugh White, ANU Professor of Strategic Studies, former Deputy Secretary of Defence and an eminent figure in strategic policy, wrote in The Saturday Paper, “The old plan was to build a conventionally powered version of a nuclear-powered French submarine. It was crazy.”

“The new plan—to buy a nuclear-powered submarine instead—is worse”. 

Says White, “There is a reason why only six countries, all of them nuclear-armed, operate nuclear powered subs.”

The sales pitch is underway 

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

The ripples of the announcement, however, reached British shores in double-quick time. Just two days after the AUKUS alliance UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallis announced a $320 million (£170m) grant to be shared between BAE Systems and Rolls Royce to develop technology for Britain’s next generation submarines. 

According to Department of Finance figures, In the past twelve months BAE Systems has collected $1.88 billion from Australian taxpayers. The Astute class submarine, touted as one of the two options Australia is considering, is manufactured by BAE Systems. 

US Naval analyst, and Forbes Defense columnist, Craig Hooper predicts AUKUS could give the US Navy a big shot in the arm as well. He says a deal with Australia could effectively underwrite major improvements to the US Navy’s outdated submarine maintenance facilities by supporting “America’s decade-long, $US25 billion ($34.6 billion) effort to refit the U.S. Navy’s four aging public shipyards. With yard repair costs already high, America would go to great lengths to welcome any additional bidders for shipyard capability improvements.”

US subs in dry dock In a report published six months ago, the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found: “The Navy’s four shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on its submarines (all of which are nuclear-powered).” ………. Should Australia go down the nuclear sub path what choice will it have other than to outsource the fleet’s maintenance?   …..

Her Majesty’s sub optimal fleet

Britain, touted as the alternative nuclear submarine supplier to Australia, has problems of its own. The Royal Navy operates ten submarines, only four of them were designed and commissioned this century. 

Like their American nuclear counterparts there are systemic problems keeping these subs in service……

That report also indicated significant delays to the BAE Systems built Astute hunter-killer submarines, the same class of nuclear submarine being touted for Australian as part of the AUKUS deal………. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/has-pm-put-australia-on-the-hook-to-finance-struggling-uk-us-submarine-projects/

September 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, marketing, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Nuclear submarine deal planned for 18 months – French ambassador says this is treasonous

Recalled French ambassador accuses Australia of ‘treason in the making’  https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/recalled-french-ambassador-accuses-australia-of-treason-in-the-making-20210918-p58ssg.html. By Anthony Galloway

 France’s recalled ambassador to Australia has likened Canberra’s actions to treason after the Morrison government dumped a $90 billion submarine contract with Paris and instead decided to build nuclear-powered submarines with the United States and Britain.

France on Saturday has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors from Australia and the US, as the fallout grows from a new defence pact that has infuriated French President Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age hours before he was recalled, France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, did not rule out suspending talks to allow French troops greater access to Australian military bases after his nation was “stabbed in the back”.

Adding insult to the process… we have very reliable reports from the independent press, which I thank, about the fact that all this was in the making for 18 months. Which means we have been blind-sided intentionally for 18 months…. The crime was prepared for 18 months,” he said.

France’s recalled ambassador to Australia has likened Canberra’s actions to treason after the Morrison government dumped a $90 billion submarine contract with Paris and instead decided to build nuclear-powered submarines with the United States and Britain.

France on Saturday has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors from Australia and the US, as the fallout grows from a new defence pact that has infuriated French President Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age hours before he was recalled, France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, did not rule out suspending talks to allow French troops greater access to Australian military bases after his nation was “stabbed in the back”.

“Adding insult to the process… we have very reliable reports from the independent press, which I thank, about the fact that all this was in the making for 18 months. Which means we have been blind-sided intentionally for 18 months…. The crime was prepared for 18 months,” he said.

He slammed Australia for allowing a meeting to go ahead between Mr Dutton and Foreign Minister Marise Payne late last month with their French counterparts where they spoke about enhancing defence ties between the two countries.

“It is us, through letters that were sent by the President [Macron] some months ago to the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison], who proposed to look at more ambitious and new ambitious cooperations,” Mr Thebault said……….. The extraordinary move follows the Morrison government’s decision to tear up a $90 billion contract to buy 12 French submarines in favour of a new nuclear-powered fleet using technology from the US and United Kingdom under a new partnership called AUKUS.


September 20, 2021 Posted by | France, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Russia urges IAEA monitoring, ‘transparency’ on US-Australia nuclear sub pact,


Russia urges IAEA monitoring, ‘transparency’ on US-Australia nuclear sub pact, Press TV, Friday, 17 September 2021
 Russia warns against Australia’s attempt to becoming a nuclear power under a trilateral pact Canberra signed with the United States and Britain earlier this week.

Russian Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said on Friday that “time has not come yet for such estimations” about Australia turning into a nuclear power.

Under a new Australia-UK-US alliance (Aukus), Canberra would be building at least eight nuclear submarines, using US technology.

The first of the submarines is expected to enter service is 2036.

Ulyanov warned that the plan “is alarming and makes you keep a close eye on that.”

“Australia is a non-nuclear power,” he said, adding that “all this should be closely supervised by the IAEA and its inspection mechanism.”……..

Many observers warned that  the trilateral pact could lead to a situation very similar to the US-Russian arms race during the cold war…… https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2021/09/17/666731/Russia-Australia-nuclear-powered-submarines-Aukus-

September 20, 2021 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Mossad assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist using an artificial-Intelligence-powered, remote-controlled machine gun

Mossad assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist using an AI-powered, remote-controlled machine gun, report says, Business Insider Joshua ZitserSep. 19, 2021,  Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, was on Israel’s hit list since 2007.In November 2020, the Mossad pulled off a hit using a remote-controlled, AI-powered machine gun.It was controlled by operatives outside of Iran, who killed Fakhrizadeh in under a minute, per NYT……………….. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/mossad-remote-controlled-machine-gun-kill-iran-nuke-expert-nyt-2021-9 

September 20, 2021 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iranian Guards Physically Harassed Female U.N. Nuclear Inspectors, Diplomats Say .

Allegations come amid rising tensions between Tehran and the U.N. atomic energy agency  While Iran says it isn’t trying to build nuclear weapons, a look at its key facilities suggests it could develop the technology to make them. WSJ breaks down Tehran’s capabilities as it hits new milestones in uranium enrichment and limits access to inspectors.   WSJ, By Laurence Norman, Sept. 14, 2021

Iranian security guards have physically harassed several female United Nations atomic agency inspectors at a nuclear facility over the past few months, diplomats say, and the U.S. has demanded that Iran stop the behavior immediately.

The previously unreported incidents at Iran’s main nuclear facility, Natanz, allegedly included inappropriate touching of female inspectors by male security guards and orders to remove some clothing, the diplomats said….. (subscribers only) https://www.wsj.com/articles/iranian-guards-physically-harassed-female-u-n-nuclear-inspectors-diplomats-say-11631626649

September 16, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, Iran | Leave a comment

Prison sentence for corrupt nuclear executive

Ex-SCANA CEO to become first to get handed a prison sentence over VC Summer failure, https://www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/article254135578.html      BY JOHN MONK SEPTEMBER 11, 2021 COLUMBIA, S.C.

An Oct. 7 date has been set for the sentencing of Kevin Marsh, the former CEO of SCANA who pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal conspiracy fraud charges involving a cover-up of financial troubles connected to the failure of the company’s $10 billion V.C. Summer nuclear project.

Marsh, 65, who pleaded guilty in February, has agreed to a two-year prison sentence for his role, according to federal court records.

Marsh was eligible to receive a maximum five-year sentence for his crimes, but he caught a break after he agreed to cooperate in other ongoing investigations and prosecutions in the SCANA case, according to court records. Marsh had worked his way from a position in SCANA’s accounting department to CEO.

The Oct. 7 hearing will be at the federal courthouse in Columbia before U.S. District Judge Mary Lewis.

Marsh would be the first person to receive a prison sentence in the failure of the company’s nuclear project. Another former SCANA executive, Stephen Byrne, also has pleaded guilty to similar conspiracy charges.

Marsh is one of four senior executives — two from SCANA and two from Westinghouse Electric Corp. — charged in the four-year federal investigation into the July 2017 abandonment of the nuclear project by SCANA and its junior state-owned project partner, Santee Cooper.

From 2008 to July 2017, Westinghouse was the major contractor for SCANA’s nuclear project, overseeing construction at the utility’s VC Summer site in Fairfield County, north of Columbia.

At Marsh’s guilty plea in February, assistant U.S. Attorney Jim May told Lewis that Marsh’s crime was “a violation of public trust” — not an effort to illegally make millions for himself.

What Marsh did was hide the true state of the project as costs were spiraling out of control and finishing dates were being unduly delayed from the public, investors and regulators, May said at the hearing.

The highly publicized project had a worthy goal, May said.

“The project was to do something that it had not been done in the United States since late 1970’s — build a nuclear power plant — with the idea that this success would spark a nuclear renaissance and provide for reduction on dependence of fossil fuels,” May said.

SCANA was under pressure to meet construction deadlines to qualify for more than $1 billion in federal tax credits, but it also was under obligation to make public true information about the status of the project, May said.

“Mr. Marsh did not make these disclosures but repeated positive (false) information about the project’s status. It is for this failure that he is criminally liable,” May said.

MORE FACE CHARGES

Two of the other three have pleaded guilty and one is fighting the federal charges connected to giving false information about the project. They are:

 Carl Churchman, a Westinghouse official who oversaw construction at the nuclear project. He has agreed to plead guilty to lying to an FBI agent about what he knew about the progress of the project when it was still ongoing.

 Jeffrey Benjamin, a former Westinghouse senior vice president of new plants and projects, faces multiple counts of fraud, according to an 18-page indictment made public in August in U.S. District Court in Columbia. Benjamin’s lawyer has said he is innocent of the charges and plans on seeking a trial.

Stephen Byrne, a former top SCANA official, pleaded guilty in July 2020 to criminal conspiracy fraud charges in federal court in Columbia.

Byrne’s guilty plea, the first of three guilty pleas so far, showed that SCANA’s downfall — triggered by the failed nuclear project — was the result of not just mismanagement or incompetence, but criminal conduct at the company’s highest levels.

Like Marsh, Churchman and Byrne have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and could be witnesses in any future court proceedings, including those concerning Benjamin.

SCANA, a Fortune 500 publicly traded company whose business lineage traced back to 1846, was one of the crown jewels of South Carolina’s economy.

But the failure of its effort to build two nuclear reactors at its plant in Jenkinsville led to multiple lawsuits and mounting financial troubles. Eventually the company was absorbed by Dominion Energy. SCANA’s downfall is perhaps the most costly business failure in state history.

Once SCANA and Santee Cooper announced they were abandoning the venture in July 2017, SCANA’s stock price began to plummet and its financial and political troubles began to mount. SCANA was hit by multiple lawsuits, most of which have now been settled with multi-million dollar payoffs to investors and ratepayers.

The motives of Westinghouse and SCANA officials in covering up the project’s true status were different, according to evidence in the case.

Westinghouse officials lied about of the status in order to have SCANA keep on paying the company for ongoing construction; the lies of SCANA officials were aimed at deceiving the public and regulators in hopes of figuring out a way to still get the federal tax credits, even if SCANA missed the deadline to qualify for the credits, according to evidence in the case.

SCANA’s failure affected the pocketbooks of hundreds of thousands of people and businesses.

For years, the company had jacked up customers’ monthly power bills to help pay billions in ongoing construction costs for the two nuclear reactors that were supposed to be built, but now will never generate power.

When the plant was abandoned, several thousand construction employees also lost their jobs.

September 13, 2021 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA Bill to protect journalists – EXCEPT FOR JULIAN ASSANGE

press freedom advocates, while supportive of the press freedom bill, said that the legislation would yield the biggest impact if the U.S. followed its own policies.

“Anytime we, or the U.S. government, or members of Congress are talking about press freedom internationally, it’s, in my mind, a good thing,” said Trevor Timm, co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “But for any of that advocacy to be remotely effective, it’s important for the U.S. to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

PRESS FREEDOM BILL WOULD PROTECT JOURNALISTS FACING PERSECUTION — BUT NOT JULIAN ASSANGE  https://theintercept.com/2021/09/08/julian-assange-international-press-freedom-act/ 8 Sept21,

Senators say they want to protect foreign journalists from government aggression. But what happens when the U.S. is the aggressor? Rose Adams

September 8 2021, EARLIER THIS YEAR, just days before World Press Freedom Day, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined forces to introduce the International Press Freedom Act of 2021, a bipartisan bill to protect at-risk journalists working in highly censored countries. The legislation is predicated on the idea that the United States is a uniquely safe place for journalists — but that notion doesn’t always hold up under scrutiny.

Introduced on April 29, the International Press Freedom Act is one of at least three press freedom bills that Congress has considered since Saudi authorities killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. But while other bills have proposed piecemeal protections — such as sanctions on restrictive governments or a government office for threatened journalists — Kaine and Graham’s bill takes a more comprehensive approach. In addition to directing State Department funds toward investigating and prosecuting crimes against journalists abroad, the law would create a new visa category for threatened reporters and open a State Department office with a $30 million annual fund to help journalists report safely or relocate.

Press advocacy groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists have praised Kaine and Graham’s bill, claiming that the legislation would “bolster U.S. foreign diplomacy on global press freedom.” In a statement, Kaine emphasized the U.S.’s responsibility to spread its free speech ethos.

“Enshrined in both our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, press freedom is a core American value that we must constantly promote around the globe,” he said in a press release. “With this bill, our country will let journalists know that we will protect their right to report and offer safe harbor when they are threatened.”

But that safe harbor doesn’t seem to apply to foreign journalists the U.S. government itself has threatened. For years, the Justice Department has worked to extradite and prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing Army war logs provided by Chelsea Manning in 2010, and increased the pressure following his 2016 publication leaked Democratic Party emails that the Justice Department said were hacked by Russia. And though the government’s extradition efforts are inching closer to fruition amid several U.S. appeals, Kaine and Graham have remained silent.

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September 9, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

COP26 – the need to scrutinise hidden climate agendas

there may be a need to recognize the short comings of some of the technical fixes being promoted, for example, by some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts. The NGOs can perhaps help here.  For example, Oxfam has produced a useful report, ‘Tightening the Net’, which claims that using land-based techniques alone to remove CO2 from the air and help the world reach net zero by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests. That is equivalent to 5 times the size of India, or more than all the farmland on the planet.

The charity’s report, says governments and companies are hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘unreliable, unproven & unrealistic carbon removal’ schemes, so as to ‘continue dirty business-as-usual activities’. 

COP26 Agendas  https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/09/with-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate.html?showComment=1630897750625#c4129514770472857573  September 04, 2021 With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) having produced a new very grim report on climate issues, all eyes are now focused on COP 26, the 26th meeting of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change to be held in Glasgow in November. COP 26 has the obvious formal agenda of continuing with the negotiation process over climate policy, developing on the outline COP21 Paris agreement in terms of national and global emission targets and aid funding. There is a lot to do, with many key countries still dragging their feet and the main focus will be trying to improve on that. 

However, there are also underlying policy agendas reflecting different views as to how best to cut carbon, and they may shape what goes on and what is seen as important.  Most are backed by specific groups or interests. Most familiar, there are the vested fossil fuel interests- global/local oil, coal & gas companies. Some in the past backed climate change denial, but most are now in defensive mode, seeking to limit damage to their profits/portfolios. Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) is their fall back option as part of a ‘net zero’ carbon offset concession, with 2050 targets presumably being seen as far enough off to be survivable.

At the other end of the spectrum there are the various green NGO’s, all keen on maximum carbon cuts as soon as possible. Most back renewables as the main plank, along with energy saving and a commitment to reduced energy demand- and even perhaps reduced economic growth. Most greens oppose fossil CCS, but some do back biomass CCS as a negative carbon option. Very few however like nuclear, which, as ever, is trying to get in the act despite its generally poor showing compared with renewables. But you’ll find nuclear lobbyist hard at it, always, for good or ill, keeping the nuclear debate alive – even if nuclear PR displays were apparently blocked from access to the Green Zone at COP26!

Hydrogen has meantime become a new area offering angles for all sides. The fossil lobby looks to allegedly low-carbon blue hydrogen (from fossil gas SMR with CCS), an option that seems increasing challenged.  The greens look to zero carbon green hydrogen via electrolysis (using power from renewables), and costs do seem to be falling, while the nuclear lobby (both fission and later fusion) hopes it can also get in on the hydrogen act. That seems a long shot. Especially since there is also a strong showing from the electricity lobby, which wants to see heat pumps used, not hydrogen gas – and certainly not fossil gas!

Some underlying issues

Lobby groups certainly do keep it all alive.  Although the fossil and nuclear industry lobby groups are familiar enough, there is less of an obvious renewables industry lobby, apart from some trade associations. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) doesn’t get involved much direct campaigning. So it’s often left to political pressure groups and NGOs, and their interests transcend energy policy and spread across the whole of field of eco-sustainability. 

 The renewables v nuclear/ CCS issue has already been noted, and the role of hydrogen. However, there are also issues relating to scale and distribution. Most greens would prefer energy to be generated and used locally at the smaller scale. That can be aided by PV solar, but, even with storage, there may still be a need for top-ups and balancing from outside.  That means grids, and some actually see grids as a key thing, with low-loss supergrids allowing for power trading long-distance. ……………

Transport is also obviously a key area. The standard green argument is that flying is very bad, but actually, it is only making a small contribution to CO2 at present- about 2% globally. Cars are vastly worse (they use 45% of global energy) and many more people drive than fly. But, longer-term, flying demand will build up vastly, unless blocked. ………….

What can we expect from COP26? 

It will be interesting to see how the various technical fixes & social fixes issues are dealt with in Glasgow. It’s only a week, and that may mostly be taken up with haggling on targets and dodging invoices for aid!  But some of the wider issues and social fix options may get an airing. The world is changing, and though issues like meat eating are still on the fringe, wider issue are emerging, with Scotland often being a pioneer.   More immediately, Scotland is now getting almost all its power from from renewables, so that technical fix may be an inspiration to many people. . Though perhaps a bit peevishly, Greta Thunberg was not that impressed with Scotland’s progress. However, there may be a need to recognize the short comings of some of the technical fixes being promoted, for example, by some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts. The NGOs can perhaps help here.  For example, Oxfam has produced a useful report, ‘Tightening the Net’, which claims that using land-based techniques alone to remove CO2 from the air and help the world reach net zero by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests. That is equivalent to 5 times the size of India, or more than all the farmland on the planet. The charity’s report, says governments and companies are hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘unreliable, unproven & unrealistic carbon removal’ schemes, so as to ‘continue dirty business-as-usual activities’. 

Well, CCS and the like may not be the main reason, but it certainly is worrying that growth in renewable capacity had slowed in the UK. The latest DUKES statistics indicate a year-by-year fall in new capacity added since 2015, with just a 1GW expansion last year, half of that being for offshore wind. The slow down is arguably mainly due the demise of the Feed in Tariff and the block to CfD access for onshore wind and large PV. That may be reversed in the next CfD round, due to be opened up for bids in December. Let’s hope so, otherwise we could have the odd spectacle of the UK promoting renewables hard at COP26 while its own efforts have been diminishing. 

September 6, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | 2 Comments

Over 200kg uranium theft in India poses threats of nuclear terrorism.

Over 200kg uranium theft in India poses threats of nuclear terrorism, The News, 5 Sept 21,  I SLAMABAD: The theft of over 200 kilograms of nuclear material during last two decades in India poses serious threats of nuclear terrorism, necessitating the global powers’ role to raise safety standards in the country.

The countries in the region including China and Pakistan have repeatedly called for strengthening regulations following repeated incidents of theft of nuclear material in India. Such incidents raised concerns about India emerged as a potential hotspot in illegal trade of nuclear technology and materials vital for a malicious nuclear supply chain for state and non-state actors.

According a timeline issued by The South Asia Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI), 18 nuclear material’s theft and lost incidents were reported in India from 1994 to 2021 involving over 200kg nuclear material.

The Indian authorities recovered 2.5kg uranium in 1994; 111kg in 1998, also involving an opposition leader; 59.1kg in 2000; 200 grams in 2001; 225 grams in 2003; 4kg in 2008; 5kg in 2009; 9kg in 2016; 1kg in 2018 and 13.75kg in 2021 in multiple incidents.

According to a research paper jointly issued by SASSI President Dr Maria Sultan and now Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari, the reports of Indian involvement in the theft of nuclear fissile material dates back to the early 1970s, the magnitude of the threat increased manifold in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the late 1980s, the CIA had concluded that India was trying to develop a sophisticated Hydrogen bomb. In 1994, on a tip-off, a shipment of beryllium was caught in Vilnius, worth $24 million. “The material could fall into the hands of extremists and terrorists in India with disastrous consequences. The out-of-control material could also be a cause of concern due to the proliferation reasons. It is also the responsibility of global organisations and India’s partners to raise the standard of nuclear safety and security in the country and investigate shortcomings for maintaining tight controls on nuclear and radioactive materials,” said Sarman Ali, an Islamabad-based defence analyst.

Pakistan had repeatedly called for thorough investigation of such incidents and measures for strengthening the security of nuclear materials to prevent their diversion.

Foreign Office spokesperson said in a recent statement that such incidents were a matter of deep concern as they point to lax controls, poor regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, as well as possible existence of a black market for nuclear materials inside India………….. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/888297-over-200kg-uranium-theft-in-india-poses-threats-of-nuclear-terrorism

September 6, 2021 Posted by | incidents, India, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club saw it coming – corruption is killing the nuclear industry

Friends of the Earth and Sierra club saw it coming

Public interest intervenors were prescient in their early assessments of the project. Friends of the Earth, which intervened before the Public Service Commission against the project in August 2008, noted SCANA’s disregard for energy efficiency and alternative forms of energy. That organization predicted that the project’s fate would be what the US Attorney’s Office affirmed in the August 18, 2021 indictment: “from the outset, the Project was characterized by cost overruns and significant delays.” Likewise, toward the end of the project in June 2017, just after Westinghouse declared bankruptcy, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club filed a formal complaint detailing why the project must be canceled. As money hemorrhaged, the owners made that earth-shaking decision a month later. And the mighty crash still reverberates.

With pursuit of large light-water reactors in the United States all but dead, the nuclear industry is now endlessly touting an array of “small modular reactors” and a dizzying menu of so-called “advanced reactors,” all of which exist only on paper. It’s unclear if there’s a path forward for this nuclear renaissance redux, and if there is, whether taxpayers will be put on the hook for financing some of it.

US attorney details illegal acts in construction projects, sealing the fate of the “nuclear renaissance”  https://thebulletin.org/2021/08/us-attorney-details-illegal-acts-at-construction-projects-sealing-the-fate-of-the-nuclear-renaissance/By Tom Clements | August 31, 2021

The ill-fated construction of new nuclear reactors in South Carolina—one of two such troubled Westinghouse reactor construction projects in the United States—was abruptly terminated on July 31, 2017, but the effort to determine legal accountability for the project’s colossal failure is only now hitting its stride.

The South Carolina legislature conducted hearings about the project’s collapse. But it has fallen to the United States Attorney for South Carolina to outline internal decisions that led to project abandonment—via court filings, plea agreements, and indictments. These filings are proving to be the best documentation so far of criminal behavior related to projects that were part of a much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” that began in the early-2000s but has since petered out in the United States.

On August 18, 2021, a second Westinghouse official was charged in a federal grand jury indictment filed with the court in Columbia, South Carolina. The charges outline “the scheme” to cover up key details about the problem-plagued project to construct two 1,100 megawatt (MW) Westinghouse AP1000 light-water reactors at the VC Summer site north of Columbia.

The project was initiated in May 2008 and gained final approval in February 2009.

According to the 18-page indictment, former Senior Vice President of New Plants and Major Projects Jeffrey Benjamin “had first-line responsibility for Westinghouse’s nuclear reactors worldwide.” He was charged, according to a news release, “with sixteen felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record.” On August 30, the US attorney’s office announced that Benjamin would be arraigned on August 31.

The indictment reveals important new information about how Benjamin and Westinghouse conspired to hide crucial information about reactor completion dates from the owners, the publicly held utility SCANA, now defunct, and its junior partner, the state-owned South Carolina Public Service Authority (known as Santee Cooper). It states that the defendant made “false and misleading statements” and “knowingly devised a scheme” to continue the project based on misrepresentations via Westinghouse to the owners, state regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission, investors, and ratepayers. Nervous SCANA officials played along with the inept cover-up efforts and passed on false and inaccurate information to regulators.

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September 4, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Westinghouse Electric Co has paid $21bn and will co-operate with federal investigators over South Carolina nuclear fraud.

Failed nuclear contractor signs $21M deal, working with feds,  https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/failed-nuclear-contractor-signs-21m-deal-working-feds-79721520

The chief contractor at a failed multibillion-dollar project to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina has agreed to pay more than $20 million as part of a cooperation agreement with federal authorities probing the fiasco
, By MEG KINNARD Associated Press31 August 2021  COLUMBIA, S.C.

The chief contractor at a failed multibillion-dollar project to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina has agreed to pay more than $20 million as part of a cooperation agreement with federal authorities probing the fiasco.

Under an agreement announced Monday by Acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart, Westinghouse Electric Co. will contribute $5 million to a program intended to assist low-income ratepayers affected by the project’s failure. Another payment of $16.25 million will be due before July 1, 2022.

The company will also be required to cooperate with federal investigators still probing the company’s role in the 2017 debacle, which cost ratepayers and investors billions and left nearly 6,000 people jobless.

Westinghouse was the lead contractor on the construction of two new reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Columbia. South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. parent company SCANA Corp. and state-owned utility company Santee Cooper spent nearly $10 billion on the project before halting construction in 2017 following Westinghouse’s bankruptcy.

The collapse of the V.C. Summer project spawned multiple lawsuits, some by ratepayers who said company executives knew the project was doomed and misled consumers and regulators as they petitioned for a series of rate hikes. Three top-level executives have already pleaded guilty in the multi-year federal fraud investigation. A fourth has been charged and is expected in federal court Tuesday.

Earlier this year, a federal judge signed off on a plan to disperse $192 million among former SCANA shareholders, a settlement that attorneys for the investors said was the largest securities class action recovery obtained in South Carolina when a judge approved it last year.

On Monday, DeHart said Westinghouse has given federal investigators more than three million pages of documents, data and correspondences and made employee witnesses available for interviews. Through its former parent company Toshiba, Westinghouse has also made more than $2 billion in settlement payments related to the project.

Since the failure, Westinghouse has removed, reassigned or retrained its senior management, elected a new board and implemented new financial controls, according to DeHart.

“Our office continues to seek justice for the victims of the V.C. Summer Project failure,” DeHart said in a news release. “Westinghouse’s cooperation is vital to our ongoing efforts to hold accountable the individuals most responsible for this debacle.” 

August 31, 2021 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Secret nuclear waste proposals initiated by private landowners and companies

Dr Ruth Balogh, West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth.
The NDA is touring West Cumbria with yet another set of proposals for a
deep geological disposal facility for high & intermediate level radwaste in
West Cumbria. The idea of siting this dump in the nuclear industry’s
traditional dumping ground, the Irish Sea, is enjoying favour.

Interest in such proposals has been expressed elsewhere, in Lincolnshire and
Hartlepool, to – unlike in West Cumbria – some political acrimony. In the
NDA press release about the Hartlepool initiative, Steve Reece, Head of
Siting said: ‘This is a process that is driven by communities.’

Yet all of these proposals were initiated in secrecy by private landowners and
companies. In Allerdale’s case the company isn’t even situated in the
Borough. It was followed by the establishment of a small Working Group with
a Borough Council representative on it.

Overtures from at least one community group to take part have been rebuffed. Which community is in the
driving seat here? Not ours. If the NDA want to dig an almighty hole, and
fill it with waste which has been waiting decades for a rational plan- and
which is going to be compounded by far more from Hinkley Point than we have
here already at Sellafield, it’s time they called a spade a spade. We
deserve truthful engagement, not high-minded aspirations.

 Times and Star 26th Aug 2021

https://www.timesandstar.co.uk/opinion/

August 30, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

Greater powers to be given to UK’s armed Civil Nuclear Constabulary – a threat to peaceful protest?

UK Government plan to give armed nuclear police more powers raises ‘profound concerns The Ferret,Billy Briggs
August 23, 2021

A UK Government plan to give an armed police force called the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) greater powers has raised “profound concerns” and been described as “deeply worrying”.

The CNC is a specialist force tasked with protecting civil nuclear sites in Scotland, England and Wales and nuclear materials in transit both in the UK and internationally. 

Counter-terrorism is a major part of its policing and the force employs 1,500 police officers. The CNC guards nuclear sites at Torness, Hunterston and Dounreay in Scotland, among other places across the UK.

It’s remit is set out in the Energy Act 2004 but the UK Government has just held a consultation seeking views on a plan to expand and diversify the force’s role.

Anti-nuclear groups have voiced fears over the proposal, however, arguing that the CNC’s remit should be limited to civil nuclear sites. The Scottish Greens said that centralised control over an armed police force with new powers would be a “very concerning development”…………..

Those responding to the consultation included the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) which submitted a joint response with anti-nuclear groups – Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group, Together Against Sizewell C, CADNO, People Against Wylfa B, Stop Hinkley and Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates.

The NFLA argued that the CNC’s powers should be “limited to civil nuclear sites, as its title implies”. Any expansion to other roles and duties for the CNC, they argued, would “represent an expansion of nuclear police at expense of the civil police force”


Councillor David Blackburn
, NFLA steering committee chair, said: “NFLA has joined with these six other campaigning groups to raise its profound concerns that an expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and an increase in its powers is moving it in the wrong direction. What is required rather is concerted efforts to reduce the risks of the UK’s nuclear legacy and to avoid developing new nuclear reactor sites.”

He argued that by making nuclear sites safer “there will become less of a need for an armed police force”.

“The concerning wider push for new laws which could reduce peaceful protest also greatly concerns us,” Blackburn said. “The proposals in this consultation move the CNC further into being an extensively armed police force, when we should instead be looking at ways to have a democratically controlled and accountable police force protecting the public in a measured way.”………    https://theferret.scot/uk-government-plan-to-give-armed-police-more-powers/

August 24, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, safety, UK | 1 Comment

WikiLeaks and the Crimes of the West in Afghanistan

In 2010, WikiLeaks published 76,000 previously classified documents about the war, containing references to hundreds of other war crimes. But instead of investigating these cases and bringing the guilty to justice, the messenger, Julian Assange, was pursued.

Today he is sitting, critically ill, in a British high-security prison and has to fear being extradited to the U.S., where he is threatened with life imprisonment under inhumane conditions.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, came to the conclusion, after an in-depth investigation of the case, that Assange had been and is systematically tortured by Western authorities.

WikiLeaks & the Crimes of the West in Afghanistan  https://consortiumnews.com/2021/08/20/wikileaks-the-crimes-of-the-west-in-afghanistan/ August 20, 2021   Fabian Scheidler says so much suffering — including Assange’s imprisonment for exposing war criminals — buries the idea of “humanitarian intervention.” By Fabian Scheidler
Common Dreams

The heedless flight of NATO troops from Afghanistan and the havoc they leave behind are only the last chapter in a devastating story that began in October 2001.

At that time, the U.S.  government, supported by allies including the German administration, announced that the terror attacks of Sept. 11 should be answered by a war in Afghanistan.

None of the assassins were Afghan. And the Taliban government at the time even offered the U.S.  to extradite Osama bin Laden — an offer the U.S.  did not even respond to. Virtually no word was said about the country of origin of 15 of the 19 terrorists — Saudi Arabia.

On the contrary: members of the Bin Laden family were flown out of the U.S. A in a night-and-fog operation so that they could not be interrogated. After classified parts of the 9/11 commission report were released in 2016, it emerged that high-ranking members of the Saudi embassy in Washington had been in contact with the terrorists before the attacks. Consequences? None. They are our allies.

So, Afghanistan was attacked. Already during the Cold War, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had supported Islamists there on a large scale against the Soviet Union.

Now the Islamist warlords of the “Northern Alliance” were the new allies. The German Armed Forces flanked the U.S. troops. While their deployment was shrouded in the narrative of a “humanitarian intervention”, the Bundeswehr in fact worked hand in hand with the warlords, as investigative journalist Marc Thörner reported. (He was the only German reporter on site who was not embedded in the military.)

Thörner predicted that the complicity of the NATO troops in the war crimes and the “counterinsurgency methods from the colonial era” would turn the population more and more against the West and strengthen fundamentalism. We see the result today: the triumph of the Taliban across the country.

Supporting War Criminals & Committing War Crimes 

The U.S. troops as well as the Bundeswehr and other allies not only supported war criminals on the ground, they also committed serious crimes themselves. None of the perpetrators was ever convicted in court for this.

Take Kunduz, for example: in September 2009 the Bundeswehr bombed a mainly civilian trek here, with over one hundred dead or seriously injured, including children. The proceedings against those primarily responsible, Colonel Georg Klein and Defense Minister Jung (CDU), ended with acquittals.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published 76,000 previously classified documents about the war, containing references to hundreds of other war crimes. But instead of investigating these cases and bringing the guilty to justice, the messenger, Julian Assange, was pursued.

Today he is sitting, critically ill, in a British high-security prison and has to fear being extradited to the U.S., where he is threatened with life imprisonment under inhumane conditions.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, came to the conclusion, after an in-depth investigation of the case, that Assange had been and is systematically tortured by Western authorities.

Most of the big media, which got a lot of attention and made money with the leaks of their journalist colleague, have now largely dropped him. And with it the defense of the freedom of the press, which is especially crucial when it comes to questions of war and peace. So, Assange is on trial — and not the war criminals.

All those who warned against the Afghanistan war were ridiculed from the start as naive pacifists or even accused of evading humanitarian responsibility and thus playing into the hands of the Islamists.

But today it is finally clear: the alleged humanitarian operation only plunged the country further into misery and strengthened the Islamists. As in Iraq, as in Libya, as in Mali. It is time to finally bury the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect,” which was coined at the time of the beginning of the Afghan war, and to brand it as what it was from the beginning: a neocolonial project.

Instead of military interventions, one could, for example, begin to drain the terror sponsor Saudi Arabia financially and stop all arms exports there. It would also be worthwhile to advance the project of a Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East, which — based on the model of the détente policy of the OSCE in Cold War Europe — could be working on a new civil security architecture for the region.

The Afghanistan debacle should also be an occasion to question the enormous expansion of Western military budgets in recent years, which was justified not least of all by deployments abroad.

German military spending went up from € 40 billion to € 52 billion from 2015 to 2020, an increase of a whopping 30 percent. The U.S. military budget is at $ 778 billion, about 12 times of what Russia spends for its army. This money is urgently needed for tasks that really move the world forward, especially for countering the climate urgency and for a socio-ecological transition. The U.S.  military not only has a gloomy balance sheet in terms of peace policy, but is also THE largest greenhouse gas emitter on Earth. It is time for a slimming cure.

Fabian Scheidler is the author of “The End of the Megamachine. A Brief History of a Failing Civilization” (2019).  See more of his work on his website here. Follow him on Twitter: @ScheidlerFabian.

August 23, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Top Westinghouse Nuclear Executive Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud

Top Westinghouse Nuclear Executive Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud in 16-Count Federal Indictment, Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDistrict of South Carolina.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021.   Columbia, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina M. Rhett DeHart announced today that a Federal Grand Jury has charged former Westinghouse Electric Company Senior Vice President Jeffrey A. Benjamin for his role in failing to truthfully report information regarding construction of new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant.

Benjamin, who served as Senior Vice President for New Plants and Major Projects and directly supervised all new nuclear projects worldwide for Westinghouse during the V.C. Summer project, is charged in a federal indictment with sixteen felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record.  

The charges Benjamin faces carry a maximum of twenty years imprisonment and a $5,000,000 fine. 

The indictment alleges that Benjamin was personally involved in communications between Westinghouse and its owners, SCANA and Santee Cooper, regarding the status of the V.C. Summer project.  

The indictment further alleges that, throughout 2016 and into 2017, when Westinghouse had direct control over the construction and schedule of the project, Benjamin received information that the V.C. Summer units were materially behind schedule and over budget.  Nevertheless, at various times from September 2016 through March 2017, the indictment alleges that Benjamin assured the owners that the units would be completed on schedule and took active steps to conceal from the owners damaging information about the project schedule.  During this time period, the owners paid Westinghouse over $600,000,000 to construct the two V.C. Summer units, both of which were ultimately abandoned.

“Our commitment to investigate and prosecute the V.C. Summer nuclear debacle has never wavered,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart.  “While the indictment – and the allegations contained within – speak for itself, it is further proof of our commitment to seek justice for South Carolina ratepayers and all others affected by the V.C. Summer project failure.”

“This indictment with its attendant allegations and charges is another step toward justice for all those responsible for the V.C. Summer nuclear plant fiasco,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic.  “The FBI has devoted substantial resources to investigating this matter and will continue to work with the United States Attorney’s Office, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office to find facts and prove criminal conduct.”

Benjamin is the fourth individual to be charged in the ongoing federal investigation, stemming from the exhaustive and multi-year joint investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Former SCANA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh, former SCANA Executive Vice President Stephen Byrne, and former Westinghouse Vice President Carl Churchman have all pleaded guilty to federal felony charges for their roles in the matter.

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment