nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Fukushima native replaces reconstruction minister after quake gaffe

jlmlkk.jpg

Fukushima native replaces disaster minister after quake gaffe

Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister Masahiro Imamura resigned Wednesday, a day after saying it was “a good thing” the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan rather than the Tokyo area.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe picked Masayoshi Yoshino, a House of Representatives member from Fukushima Prefecture and the chairman of a special lower house committee on disaster reconstruction, to replace Imamura.

“I severely troubled and hurt people in (northeastern Japan),” Imamura told reporters at Abe’s office after submitting his resignation, which the prime minister accepted immediately.

“I apologize from my heart for my lack of virtue,” he added, while rejecting calls to also resign as a lawmaker.

Abe also apologized, both to the residents of areas recovering from disasters and the Japanese public as a whole, after accepting Imamura’s resignation.

Imamura made the “good thing” comment at a function in Tokyo for a faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which Abe was also attending, on Tuesday evening. He immediately retracted the remark and apologized, but the damage was done.

The lawmaker made the remark after citing a figure of 25 trillion yen ($225 billion) for the damage to social capital and other infrastructure from the March 2011 disaster.

“It’s a good thing it was over there in the northeast. If it had been close to the greater Tokyo area, there would have been vast, enormous damage,” he said.

The disaster left 15,893 people dead and 2,553 still listed as missing, the National Police Agency said in its latest tally.

Imamura, 70, prompted calls for his resignation earlier this month when he suggested people displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the quake should fend for themselves.

A native of Saga Prefecture in Japan’s southwest, Imamura was given his post in a Cabinet reshuffle in August last year.

His 68-year-old replacement Yoshino, a fellow LDP lawmaker and former senior vice environment minister, hails from Iwaki, a city in Fukushima on the Pacific coast that bore the brunt of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

hgjhjk

“My own home was damaged by the tsunami, and my campaign office was completely destroyed, so I think I understand better than anyone else the feelings of those affected by the disaster,” Yoshino said at his first press conference as a Cabinet minister later Wednesday.

The choice of a Fukushima local apparently reflects the administration’s desire to avoid further criticism that the reconstruction minister is unable to relate to people affected by the disaster.

Imamura’s resignation prompted the main opposition Democratic Party and three smaller opposition parties to also seek his resignation as a lawmaker.

The opposition demanded holding Diet committee sessions to pursue Abe’s responsibility in the matter.

The LDP and Democratic Party agreed Wednesday to hold such a session in the lower house on May 8. They are expected to arrange a House of Councillors committee session on May 9 or near that date.

The opposition parties had essentially threatened not to turn up for Diet deliberations until such a date was fixed.

Imamura’s resignation follows a series of blunders by Cabinet ministers and has dealt another blow to the government at a time when it is already facing issues that risk splitting public opinion.

The Diet is deliberating a bill to criminalize conspiracy to commit serious crimes, ostensibly to combat terrorism, which opponents say could result in the suppression of civil liberties.

Public sensitivity also surrounds a special bill in the works to enable the abdication of Emperor Akihito.

The string of embarrassments prompted Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, to warn last week the administration is “strikingly lacking in a sense of alertness.”

Yamaguchi spoke after LDP lawmaker Toshinao Nakagawa resigned as parliamentary vice minister of economy, trade and industry amid media reports of extramarital affairs.

The week before that, regional revitalization minister Kozo Yamamoto, another LDP lawmaker, called curators of cultural properties a “cancer” that needs to be “eradicated,” before being forced to apologize and retract the remark.

“(The administration) must take seriously the suggestions that we are becoming slack,” Abe acknowledged Wednesday in his apology over Imamura’s resignation, vowing to “win back the public’s trust.”

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/04/43790ecd62a8-update5-fukushima-native-replaces-disaster-minister-after-quake-gaffe.html

 

fhgjk.jpg

 

Disaster minister quits after quake gaffe, Fukushima rep takes over

Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister Masahiro Imamura resigned Wednesday, a day after saying it was “a good thing” the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan rather than the Tokyo area.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe picked Masayoshi Yoshino, a House of Representatives member from Fukushima Prefecture and a former senior vice environment minister, to replace Imamura.

Imamura tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday morning and the prime minister accepted it immediately.

“I severely troubled and hurt people in (northeastern Japan),” Imamura told reporters at the prime minister’s office after submitting his resignation.

hjlkl.jpg

 

“I apologize from my heart for my lack of virtue,” he added, while rejecting calls to also resign as a lawmaker.

Abe also apologized, both to the residents of areas recovering from disasters and to the Japanese public at large, after accepting Imamura’s resignation.

Imamura made the “good thing” comment at a function in Tokyo for a faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which Abe was also attending, on Tuesday evening. He immediately retracted the remark and apologized, but the damage was done.

Imamura had prompted calls for his resignation earlier this month when he suggested people displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the quake should fend for themselves.

The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party on Wednesday said Imamura’s resignation is not enough on its own.

“This brings into question Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s responsibility for having appointed (Imamura),” Renho said at a party meeting.

Abe acknowledged that this responsibility lies with him in his apology. “(The administration) must take seriously the suggestions that we are becoming slack,” Abe said, vowing to “bring back the public’s trust.”

Imamura, a native of Saga Prefecture in Japan’s southwest, was given his post in a Cabinet reshuffle in August last year.

His replacement Yoshino hails from Iwaki, a city in Fukushima on the Pacific coast that bore the brunt of damage in the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

“I have been making reconstruction my life, so I’m happy to be given a challenging post,” Yoshino told reporters at the LDP’s head office in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.

Imamura’s resignation has prompted the suspension of House of Representatives proceedings scheduled for Wednesday morning and most of the House of Councillors proceedings scheduled for Wednesday.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/04/e8335852ad1d-update2-disaster-minister-quits-after-quake-gaffe-fukushima-rep-takes-over.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Utility seeks to restart two reactors in Fukui from mid-May

takahama npp.jpg

The Takahama Nuclear Power Plant’s No. 3 reactor, left, and No. 4 reactor are pictured in this file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — Kansai Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it will seek to restart its two idled reactors in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, in mid-May and early June, respectively.

Shigeki Iwane, the utility’s president, presented the plan to reboot the two units at the Takahama plant on the Sea of Japan coast when meeting with Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa.

“It is correct that (Kansai Electric Power) will take procedures to start operations,” Nishikawa told reporters after the meeting.

Kansai Electric Power will start to load nuclear fuel at the No. 4 unit later this month, eyeing the start of electricity generation in late May while aiming to reactivate the No. 3 reactor in early June after fueling the facility in mid-May, according to the schedule released by the Osaka-based company.

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been promoting the restart of nuclear reactors across Japan, most of the reactors remain offline amid safety concerns among residents following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

The two reactors in Takahama were brought back online in early 2016 after meeting the safety requirements introduced after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

While the No. 4 unit was shut down immediately after its restart in February last year due to a technical problem, the No. 3 reactor was forced to go offline the following month in the wake of an Otsu District Court order that resulted from a lawsuit filed by residents in neighboring Shiga Prefecture.

In March this year, the Osaka High Court struck down the lower court’s decision, making it possible for the two reactors to resume operation.

Among the four units at the Takahama plant, Japan’s nuclear regulators approved June last year the utility’s plan to extend the operation of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors beyond the government-mandated 40-year service period.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170426/p2g/00m/0dm/001000c

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japanese buying nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers, in fear of nuclear attack

Report: Japanese seeking out nuclear shelters, air purifiers over North Korean threat https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/04/24/japanese-seeking-nuclear-shelters-air-purifiers-north-korea-threat/22053701  As North Korea ratchets up international tensions with missile tests and aggressive rhetoric, some residents of a neighboring country are reportedly taking actions to protect themselves in advance.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Just 10 minutes to prepare for a North Korean nuclear attack, Japan’s government says

Japanese citizens have 10 minutes to prepare for a North Korean nuclear attack, Missile ‘will not take long to reach Japan,’ says government, The Independent, Harriet Agerholm  @HarrietAgerholm 25 Apr 17, Japanese citizens will have just 10 minutes to prepare a North Korean ballistic missile attack, authorities in the country have warned.

In the event of an attack, a document posted on the country’s civil protection site advises people to find the strongest concrete building possible or go underground.

Then they should then take cover under tables and stay away from windows, it says.  A ballistic missile would likely take around 10 minutes to travel 1,600 km (1,000 miles) from its launch pad in North Korea to Okinawa, it adds, citing a launch in February last year which took that length of time to fly over the Japanese island.

The warning comes as tensions ratcheted up between North Korea, its Asian neighbours and the US. ​The secretive communist state test-fired four ballistic missiles last month, three of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, just off the coast of the country.

It has subsequently emerged that the country’s civil defence website had 5.7 million visitors in the first 23 days of April — more than 14 times the usual monthly traffic.

Japan’s early-warning system, which issues missile strike alerts to the population via loudspeaker and telephone has come under increased scrutiny amid the rising tensions.

In 1998, North Korea demonstrated that its missiles were capable of reaching Japan when it fired a missile to launch a satellite across Japanese territory that landed in its economic zone on the Pacific Ocean side.

Japan’s government has been briefing local authorities on what they should do if a missile lands in their area and urging them to hold evacuation drills. Sales of nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers have also surged in recent weeks. ……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-north-korea-nuclear-attack-10-minutes-prepare-missile-tests-warheads-kim-jong-un-a7700971.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea says America is preparing for war: highlights 1250 US marines to Darwin, Australia

North Korea highlights 1250 US marines in Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war, SMH, Kirsty Needham and James Massola,  25 Apr 17, North Korea’s state newspaper has singled out the United States’ deployment of 1250 marines to Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war.

And as regional tensions escalate and a US carrier strike group approaches the Korean peninsula, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the secretive regime “must be stopped” as it represented a threat to the region and, potentially, globally.

In a phone call with US president Donald Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping said China opposed any actions that went against UN security council resolutions, as Japan confirmed it was joining drills with the strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson that is headed to Korean waters.

Pusan National University associate professor Robert Kelly told Fairfax Media North Korea’s missiles might have the range to reach northern Australia, but played down the threat as “the question is guidance, not range”.

Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, highlighted the US marines’ arrival in northern Australia on April 18. The marines will be joined by 12 military helicopters including five Cobra helicopters and four Osprey carriers.

“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday. “America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness,” it claimed.

The story, on page six of the North Korean newspaper, was headlined: America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments. Darwin was the only city named…….

Australia-based defence experts believe it is unlikely North Korea has the capacity to strike Australia yet, though they may do within the next three years. The nation’s most recent missile test, earlier this month, failed just seconds after launch…….

The deployment of 1250 marines is the largest to Darwin since the former prime minister Julia Gillard and former president Barack Obama struck a deal back in 2011 to undertake the yearly rotation of troops.

with Sanghee Liu, AAP http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/north-korea-highlights-1250-us-marines-in-darwin-to-claim-america-is-preparing-for-nuclear-war-20170424-gvrbzl.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan’s very big problem of nuclear wastes from its failed Tokai Reprocessing Plant

The three-tier disposal scheme for the waste generated by the Tokai Reprocessing Plant is based on radiation level.

Waste with the highest radiation level, which will fill some 30,000 drums, will be buried more than 300 meters underground.

Mid-level waste, which will fill about 24,000 containers, is expected to be buried several dozens of meters underground.

Low-level waste, involving another 81,000 drums, will be buried close to the surface, the JAEA said. In the meantime, the plant’s tainted equipment and facilities will need to be decontaminated and scrapped before being filled with cement and mortar and put in drums for transport to a final disposal site.

The big problem is, there has been little progress in deciding where to bury the drums because they can’t find anyone willing to accept them.

Closure of Tokai Reprocessing Plant to cost an estimated ¥800 billion: JAEA source http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/23/national/closure-tokai-reprocessing-plant-cost-estimated-%C2%A5800-billion-jaea-source/#.WP_gPUWGPGg The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has revealed that the scrapping of the Tokai Reprocessing Plant, the nation’s first facility for reusing spent nuclear fuel, will cost an estimated ¥800 billion, an official said.

The state-backed JAEA did not reveal the cost to taxpayers in 2014, when it made the decision to shut down the plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, over a 70-year period.

The facility started operation in 1977 as part of Japan’s desire to establish a nuclear fuel cycle, in which all spent fuel is reprocessed to extract its plutonium and uranium to make more fuel. The policy is designed to ensure resource-dependent Japan uses its nuclear fuel as efficiently as possible.

The JAEA decided to scrap the sprawling plant after it became too costly to run under the more stringent safety rules introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. The facility comprises around 30 buildings and has large areas rife with contamination caused by its task of disassembling spent nuclear fuel.

According to the official, the startling decommissioning estimate is based on an estimate the agency made in 2003. The JAEA is finalizing the assessment and on course to submit it for approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as June.

The three-tier disposal scheme for the waste generated by the Tokai Reprocessing Plant is based on radiation level.

Waste with the highest radiation level, which will fill some 30,000 drums, will be buried more than 300 meters underground.

Mid-level waste, which will fill about 24,000 containers, is expected to be buried several dozens of meters underground.

Low-level waste, involving another 81,000 drums, will be buried close to the surface, the JAEA said. In the meantime, the plant’s tainted equipment and facilities will need to be decontaminated and scrapped before being filled with cement and mortar and put in drums for transport to a final disposal site.

The big problem is, there has been little progress in deciding where to bury the drums because they can’t find anyone willing to accept them.

Despite the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government is trying to resume nuclear power generation and continue its pursuit of a nuclear fuel cycle.

This policy, however, has experienced setbacks from the recent decision to decommission the Monju fast-breeder reactor, an experimental facility in Fukui Prefecture that was considered key to the nuclear fuel cycle plan.

And the completion of a new fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, has also been largely behind schedule for years.

In the meantime, public concerns about the safety of atomic power remain strong at a time when the government is aiming to make it account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s electricity supply by 2030.

The new estimate for decommissioning the Tokai Reprocessing Plant includes ¥330 billion for storing waste underground, ¥166 billion for decontaminating and dismantling the facility, and ¥87 billion for transportation costs.

The JAEA facility is not to be confused with the private uranium-processing facility in Tokai where a fatal criticality accident occurred in 1999.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing, wastes | Leave a comment

Mothers who fled Fukushima fallout raise voices against Genkai plant restart in Saga

n-genkai-a-20170424-870x582

Mothers who fled to the Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, to escape radiation spewed by the March 2011 core meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture say they are concerned about the safety of the Genkai nuclear plant in neighboring Saga Prefecture.

SAGA – A group of mothers who evacuated from the Kanto region to Fukuoka Prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis is ramping up protests against efforts to restart the Genkai nuclear plant in neighboring Saga.

After meeting with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko on Saturday, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi is expected to approve the restart of two reactors in the town of Genkai as early as Monday.

Earlier this month, four of the moms gathered for a meeting in Itoshima in Fukuoka and discussed plans to send the city a document and an inquiry conveying their opposition.

As they racked their brains to deliver effective expressions, the meeting lasted for around six hours until their children returned home from school.

Three of the moms moved to Itoshima after becoming worried their children would be adversely affected by exposure to the fallout spewed by the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011. The plant is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

I wanted to go far away for the sake of my unborn child,” said 39-year-old Fumiyo Endo, the leader of the group.

But the place she relocated to was within 30 km of the Genkai plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co.

In March, she attended a meeting of residents to get explanations about the restart but was concerned whether safety would be ensured by sheltering indoors as instructed should an accident occur.

She also felt angry after hearing a utility official say that restarting the plant is necessary “for a stable supply of power.” She said it sounded as if the utility did not care about human lives.

But she did not decide to leave Itoshima because she wanted to keep living there, to stay close to the sea and mountains.

Another member of the group said it was important to keep resisting.

It is significant to protest against nuclear plants near the plant sites,” said photographer Nonoko Kameyama, 40.

Kameyama, a mother of three, has published a photo book of mothers hoping to bring about a society without nuclear power plants.

A day after attending the residents’ meeting, Endo and other members called the Saga Prefectural Government to urge it to reject the restart.

When asked by a prefectural official during the call what the name of their group was, they came up with an impromptu title: “Mothers Who Want to Save Children’s Lives.” Dozens of people have recently joined in response to its Facebook post.

The group has submitted petitions to Saga Gov. Yamaguchi and Itoshima Mayor Yuji Tsukigata.

Resuming operations only makes residents feel unsettled and we cannot see a bright future,” said Endo. “We want our leaders to understand such feelings.”

Yamaguchi is expected to approve the Genkai restart as early as Monday, after meeting with METI chief Seko on Saturday.

The central government has shown a strong determination to work on nuclear energy policy in a responsible manner,” Yamaguchi said Saturday, adding he wants to convey his decision “as early as possible.”

The government is pushing for reactor restarts despite the triple core meltdown at Fukushima No. 1, saying nuclear energy is Japan’s key energy source.

In January, reactor Nos. 3 and 4 at the Genkai plant passed the tougher safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. On Feb. 24, a majority of the Genkai Municipal Assembly voted in favor of restarting the plant.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/23/national/moms-fled-fukushima-fallout-raise-pressure-genkai-plant-restart-saga/

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

North Korea issues nuclear warning to Australia’s hawkish Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop

North Korea issues nuclear warning to Australia, Camden Narellan Advertiser ,23 Apr 2017 Beijing: North Korea’s foreign ministry has lashed out at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and warned Australia was “coming within the range of the nuclear strike”. The threats were reported by the North Korean state news agency KCNA as being made on Friday, in response to a radio interview given by Ms Bishop.

According to a translation of the KCNA report, which was dated Friday, the same day US Vice-President Mike Pence arrived in Australia, Ms Bishop had said in the radio interview that North Korea seriously threatens regional peace and she supports the US policy that “all options are on the table”.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of North Korea – officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – was quoted as saying: “The present government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line. It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government.”….

“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK.”….

The KCNA report continued: “The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday pledged support for the US policy on North Korea and again urged China to do more to place economic pressure on North Korea.

China has turned back coal shipments to North Korea in recent weeks, one of the regime’s few sources of funding. Chinese media have speculated the Chinese government is also considering cutting oil supplies.

There are renewed concerns that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of its military, and China said this week it was “gravely concerned”.

China’s official People’s Daily newspaper on Saturday evening reported online that new satellite images of the North Korean nuclear test site had shown probable new trailer activity, citing US research website 38 Northhttp://www.camdenadvertiser.com.au/story/4614177/north-korea-issues-nuclear-warning-to-australia/?cs=5

April 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Japan sending people back to radioactively contaminated area in Fukushima

A girl holds her petition to ask the education ministry to protect children from radioactive contamination at Fukushima prefecture during a rally at the Education Ministry in Tokyo on May 23, 2011. Some 400 civic group members, including 60 parents and children from Fukushima, demanded to review the radiation limit of 3.8 microsieverts per an hour as the education ministry has set a radiation limit to allow children in Fukushima. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima where people are being forced to live! European News Weekly,  April 22, 2017Mirrored, Source for article https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima/

The evacuation orders of the most populated areas of Namie, Fukushima were lifted on March 31st this year.

“Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” has published airborne radiation measurements map and soil surface density map. The results are simply incredible. This is far much worse than in Radiation Control Zone. Any area becomes designated as such when the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months, or when the surface density is over 40,000Bq/m2. In the Radiation Control Zone, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

Namie’s radio contamination is far over these figures! And people are told to go back to these areas……..https://europeannewsweekly.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima-where-people-are-being-forced-to-live/

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

The multi-million death toll that would result from a pre-emptive strike on North Korea

But besides demanding North Korea give up its only trump card — no pun intended — some are pushing the administration to go even further: to consider launching a preemptive strike on Pyongyang.

What happens next is one of the worst military and human tragedies in history: Kim orders a nuclear strike on Seoul. While the missile lands four miles outside of the city thanks to a targeting error, millions of people are instantly killed with millions more poisoned by radioactive fallout. In a sheer panic, the millions of people who survive the attack rush south, creating a massive humanitarian crisis of the worst magnitude.

From here, things get even worse……the price of such a victory could be millions of people dead and large sections of Korea rendered uninhabitable for decades, if not longer.

No one wants to talk to the dictator of a nation with over 200,000 people or more in prison camps — but an attack that could lead to a conflict where millions could die in a nuclear war is far worse. The stakes are too great to at least not consider it.

How a preemptive strike on North Korea could end up killing millions http://theweek.com/articles/692872/how-preemptive-strike-north-korea-could-end-killing-millions   Harry J. Kazianis 21 Apr 17 While North Korea might not have tested another nuclear weapon in recent days, tensions in Asia keep rising — and Washington is at least partially to blame.

First, it seems the Trump administration is ready to take the toughest of lines when it comes to dealing with the Hermit Kingdom. In an interview with The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin, Vice President Pence declared that North Korea must give up its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for nothing, not even talks.

As the piece points out, it is tough to tell at this point if this was just rhetoric, maybe a trial balloon of sorts, or a new Trump administration policy. The vice president, however, seemed clear: “I think the path of negotiations with North Korea has been a colossal failure now for more than 25 years.”

But besides demanding North Korea give up its only trump card — no pun intended — some are pushing the administration to go even further: to consider launching a preemptive strike on Pyongyang.

In an interview on the Today show, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that if China would not stop North Korea from building a missile that can hit the U.S. homeland, Washington should use diplomacy, sanctions, and possibly “a military strike to stop their program.”

On the surface, both comments in isolation might not draw oodles of attention. But taken together with the facts that Washington will not negotiate with North Korea and that the Hermit Kingdom already has, according to most estimates, 10-20 nuclear weapons, the comments are nothing short of apocalyptic.

 In order to appreciate the ramifications of such a policy, let’s game out what such ideas would look like in practice. Let us assume in the near future that Washington decides to push China hard into somehow “solving” the North Korea issue. Beijing, for its part, does cut back some food and fuel aid and does, to its credit, end all direct and indirect aid to Pyongyang’s various military programs. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs continue to advance, but instead of racing towards a missile that can nuke America, the program is slowed dramatically.

The Trump administration is not satisfied. It threatens China, declaring that it must do more. But Beijing does not want to precipitate the possible downfall of the Kim dynasty. They fear Washington’s wrath, but they’re much more worried about millions of hungry North Koreans trying to seek refuge in China as well as potentially loose nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Combined with Beijing’s other great concern — that Seoul would eventually unite the Korean peninsula under its control and continue its military alliance with the U.S. — China decides to take its chances with America.

Washington is now faced with a dilemma. They have made substantial progress on curtailing the speed in which Pyongyang can pair a nuclear warhead with a long-range missile — but the threat does remain. So the Trump administration leaks to the press that it is considering military action, and begins to move its best military assets into the region — and this time it’s for real. President Trump orders B-2 bombers at the ready, with the ability to evade radar and drop large, bunker-buster bombs on North Korean nuclear facilities.

But North Korea is not to be deterred. It declares to the world that if the Trump administration decides to attack, Pyongyang will unload its full arsenal on South Korea and Japan. And considering North Korea’s large military — thousands of artillery pieces, rocket launchers, 4,300 tanks, 1.1 million men under arms, 200,00 special forces, and a dangerous offensive cyber warfare capability — it is a threat that can’t exactly be taken lightly

But Trump presses ahead. After moving three aircraft carrier battlegroups into the region and sending additional bombers and fighters to South Korea, Japan, and Guam, the administration warns North Korea that “it must decide whether it wants peace or war” and that “the Kim regime clearly can see that now we truly have all options on the table.” Trump then goes on Twitter, declaring, “I hope Kim makes the right choice!”

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s third dynastic dictator, decides not to budge. He knows that if he gives up his nukes he has no leverage with America. And even worse, North Korea’s political elites will see him as weak — and regime change could occur from within. He makes the only choice he can, and hopes Trump is bluffing.

Unfortunately for Kim, and Asia, war is now inevitable.

Trump orders a massive assault on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. The goal is simple: Destroy not only Pyongyang’s ability to create nuclear weapons and advanced missiles, but the current stockpiles they have. Washington launches what can only be described as a “shock and awe” campaign on steroids: over 1,000 cruise missiles in the first few hours alone, B-2 bombers flying around the clock from bases in Missouri with stealth F-22 Raptors leading the way.

The assault itself, according to every metric conceivable, is a success. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are set back a decade or more with most of Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile launchers destroyed. Republicans and Democrats alike applaud President Trump’s bold actions — acting when leaders of the past decided to do nothing.

There is however a catch to what seems like a resounding military success: The Kim regime’s nuclear deterrent was not completely destroyed. One weapon, buried deep underground, survived the attack. And since North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons were largely hidden underground as well, Kim has a terrible choice to make: Use the weapons he has now, or lose them in a potential second wave of strikes. He decides to use his full arsenal before it’s too late.

What happens next is one of the worst military and human tragedies in history: Kim orders a nuclear strike on Seoul. While the missile lands four miles outside of the city thanks to a targeting error, millions of people are instantly killed with millions more poisoned by radioactive fallout. In a sheer panic, the millions of people who survive the attack rush south, creating a massive humanitarian crisis of the worst magnitude.

From here, things get even worse. Kim launches dozens of chemical and biological weapons at South Korea and Japan. Sarin, VX ,and other toxins are lobbed at Tokyo, Pusan, and other large cities. Millions of people try to flee the impacted areas just as in Seoul — creating a panic not seen since World War II.

In just a few hours, hell is unleashed on the Korean peninsula. And while the United States and its allies would eventually win any war against North Korea, it is clear from the above — far from what could be the most extreme of examples of a Second Korean War — what damage the Kim regime could do in a military confrontation. Indeed, the price of such a victory could be millions of people dead and large sections of Korea rendered uninhabitable for decades, if not longer.

Yet, there is another path forward. It seems due time for President Trump to remember his own words from the campaign when it comes to talking to North Korea — and maybe even to Kim Jong Un directly: “I would speak to him. I would have no problem speaking to him.”

No one wants to talk to the dictator of a nation with over 200,000 people or more in prison camps — but an attack that could lead to a conflict where millions could die in a nuclear war is far worse. The stakes are too great to at least not consider it.

 

April 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Satellite images indicate that North Korea has resumed work at its nuclear test site

Volleyball Over, North Koreans Go Back to Work at Nuclear Site, Analysts Say, NYT, APRIL 22, 2017, SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts who studied satellite images of the site, renewing concerns that a major weapons test could be imminent.

Many observers had feared that North Korea would test a nuclear device at the site around April 15, the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the North’s founding president and the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. But Mr. Kim’s government celebrated the day instead with a military parade in Pyongyang, the capital, during which a fleet of missiles were rolled out, including what analysts believed were never-before-seen long-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea carried out a missile test on Sunday, but it was considered an embarrassing failure, with the projectile exploding immediately after liftoff.

But North Korea is preparing to celebrate another major holiday this coming week: Tuesday will be the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army, and the North often uses such occasions to show off its military advances…….

On Friday, the analysts Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu posted new satellite images of the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in northeastern North Korea, on 38 North, a website affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies……

Mr. Bermudez and Mr. Liu said it was unclear whether the latest activity from Punggye-ri reflected a “tactical pause” before a coming nuclear test, a prolonged “stand-down” from testing or normal operations at the site.

“Regardless, satellite imagery continues to indicate that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site appears able to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time once the order is received from Pyongyang,” they concluded…..

On Saturday in Sydney, Australia, Mr. Pence said that an American naval strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was expected to be in the Sea of Japan, which borders the Korean Peninsula, by the end of April.

Senior aides to Mr. Trump have said that military options are not off the table in dealing with North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear and missile technologies. Those remarks prompted fears in the region that the new American president might order a pre-emptive strike at North Korea’s weapons sites, which could set off a war…….https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/22/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test-preparations.html?_r=0

April 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea: All major candidates vow to stop building new reactors

Future of nuclear energy bleak in Korea All major candidates vow to stop building new reactors, Korea Times, By Jung Min-ho, 21 Apr 17,  The future of nuclear energy looks bleak in Korea for whoever becomes the next president.
All major candidates have vowed to stop building new nuclear reactors and close down older ones in an effort to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear energy.

Left-leaning Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) candidate Moon Jae-in, the frontrunner in the race, promised to cancel construction plans for two additional nuclear reactors ― Shin Kori 5 and 6. He believes Korea will have to phase out all of its remaining nuclear power plants over the next 40 years.

Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party, the runner-up, also made the same promises, though he did not mention specifically by when he plans to remove all nuclear reactors. Korea has 23 nuclear reactors in operation, from which it gets about 30 percent of its power. Five more reactors are under construction.

Sim Sang-jeung of the minor Justice Party is taking the strongest stance against nuclear energy. She said she will immediately close down all the reactors under construction and rid the country of nuclear reactors by 2040.

The two right-wing candidates ― Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party and Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party ― are more cautious about the idea of removing all the nuclear reactors, but still, they are not far apart on the issue compared to other candidates.

Four of the candidates have also vowed to reduce the country’s dependence on coal power plants as well to resolve the issue of fine dust, which has become worse in recent years. Hong alone remains skeptical of doing so, but he said he will regulate their operations more strictly instead…….
Meanwhile, all the candidates vowed to increase investment into developing renewable energy sources. The two leading candidates said they will initiate the project to increase the country’s reliance on renewable energy to 20 percent by 2030.

“Compared with the previous presidential election, candidates have taken more progressive approaches over the issue,” said Kim Mi-kyung, a climate change activist at the environmental group Greenpeace. “We expect Korea to follow the global trends of nuclear-free, coal-free and more renewable energy.”

But the activist noted the candidates lack details on how they will cope with energy shortage issues as they reduce the number of nuclear and coal power plants. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/04/371_228046.html

April 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Homeland Security Secretary says risk of North Korea nuclear missiles to America within 4 years

Kelly: Trump will face nuclear North Korea in this term http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/330107-kelly-trump-will-deal-with-nuclear-north-korea-before-his-second-term  Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that President Trump will face a nuclear-armed North Korea with missiles that could reach the United States in this term.

“I think Mr. Trump will be dealing with this in real terms before he starts his second term,” Kelly told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Kelly refused to answer host Dana Bash’s question over whether or not the U.S. military could shoot down a missile from North Korea, telling Bash that the information is classified. Kelly did say the United States will be “at grave risk” when a North Korean missile can reach its shores.

“The instant that happens, this country is at grave risk,” said Kelly.

North Korea earlier this month failed to launch a ballistic missile on its east coast. The launch came amidst mounting tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, as the Trump administration continues talks with China over how to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tragic climate change effects already there, in Bangladesh

The Unfolding Tragedy of Climate Change in Bangladesh A three-foot rise in sea level would submerge almost 20 percent of the country and displace more than 30 million people—and the actual rise by 2100 could be significantly more, Scientific American, By Robert Glennon on April 21, 2017 

In some places, the impact of climate change is obvious. In others, scientists predict that climate change will occur based on elaborate computer models. In Bangladesh, it is already happening at a scale that involves unprecedented human tragedy………..

Sea surface temperatures in the shallow Bay of Bengal have significantly increased, which, scientists believe, has caused Bangladesh to suffer some of the fastest recorded sea level rises in the world. Storm surges from more frequent and stronger cyclones push walls of water 50 to 60 miles up the Delta’s rivers.

At the same time, melting of glaciers and snowpack in the Himalayas, which hold the third largest body of snow on Earth, has swollen the rivers that flow into Bangladesh from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and India. So too have India’s water policies. India diverts large quantities of water for irrigation during the dry season and releases most water during the monsoon season.

According to the Bangladesh government’s 2009 Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, “in an ‘average’ year, approximately one quarter of the country is inundated.” Every four to five years, “there is a severe flood that may cover over 60% of the country.” Rapid erosion of coastal areas has inundated dozens of islands in the Bay. For example, Sandwip Island, near Chittagong, has lost 90 percent of its original 23-square-miles—mostly in the last two decades.

Climate change in Bangladesh has started what may become the largest mass migration in human history. In recent years, riverbank erosion has annually displaced between 50,000 and 200,000 people. The population of what the Bangladesh government calls “immediately threatened” islands, called “chars,” exceeds four million.

The Bangladesh riverine environment is so dynamic that, as chars wash away, the process of accretion creates new chars downstream.  Land is so scarce and the population so dense that the displaced people try to eke out an existence on these new, highly unstable sand bars.

A three-foot rise in sea level would submerge almost 20 percent of the entire country and displace more than 30 million people. Some scientists project a five-to-six foot rise by 2100, which would displace perhaps 50 million people. As perspective, the ongoing tragedy in Syria has caused the exodus of approximately three million people.

Already, the intruding sea has contaminated groundwater, which supplies drinking water for coastal regions, and degraded farmland, rendering it less fertile and eventually barren.

It is not just people who are affected. The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and a World Heritage Site, lies in the delta of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and India. Home to the iconic Bengal tiger, the Sundarbans also play a critical role in protecting Bangladesh’s coastal areas from storm surges caused by cyclones.

Nevertheless, across coastal Bangladesh, sea-level rise, exacerbated by the conversion of mangrove forest for agricultural production and shrimp farming, has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of acres of mangroves. In the Sundarbans, the number of tigers has plummeted. The World Wildlife Fund predicts that the tiger may become extinct. Further loss of mangrove habitat, especially in the Sundarbans, also means that Bangladesh will lose one of its last natural defenses against climate change-induced super-cyclones.

Engineering adaptations to climate change that have been successful in other nations—such as the dikes constructed in the Netherlands—won’t work in Bangladesh because the soils are sandy and constantly shifting.  The government has undertaken measures to adapt to climate change. It has developed an effective early warning system to alert coastal rural areas of impending cyclones; built a network of 2,100 cyclone shelters, which can accommodate more than a million people; and financed 4,000 miles of coastal embankment projects. It is even planting trees on chars in an effort to create islands that are more durable. However, despite its economic progress, Bangladesh remains a poor country with limited resources. Some measures, such as levees made of sand bags along the Bay of Bengal and the Sangu River, may temporarily stem the ocean’s advance, but they offer at best a short-term fix.

These changes are happening to the people of Bangladesh, not caused by them. As a country, Bangladesh emits only 0.3 percent of the emissions producing climate change.

February 16, 2017.  “Where will they go?” Climate refugees, mostly rural farmers and fishermen, are moving into the slums of the country’s two largest cities, Dhaka and Chittagong. As conditions deteriorate, the capacity of these areas to absorb more people is nearing the end. The sad reality offers limited options to those displaced. Climate refugees from Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country, are not welcome in the neighboring countries of India and Myanmar. India is building its version of a border wall, a barbed-wire fence; violence in Myanmar in December 2016 drove an estimated 65,000 Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority, into Bangladesh.

It is exceedingly unlikely that the Trump Administration either will welcome Bangladeshi refugees or provide financial support to underwrite costs of relocation to other countries. Opportunities for resettlement in the rest of the world are dwindling.

The unfolding calamity demands a response from the international community. Wealthy countries have generated most of the greenhouse gases that are harming Bangladesh. If these countries are unwilling to absorb tens of millions of refugees, there is a moral imperative for them to help. They should underwrite the adaptation efforts of the Bangladesh government and the construction of roads, power plants, water supply systems, housing and other infrastructure to allow these climate refugees to remain and thrive in their own country. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-unfolding-tragedy-of-climate-change-in-bangladesh/

 

April 22, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

China praises US on nuclear issue, criticizes North Korea

China criticizes North Korea, praises US on nuclear issue, By Brad Lendon, CNN April 20, 2017  China may be getting fed up with continued nuclear bluster from long-time ally North Korea and tilting toward the United States. A day after North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister said Pyongyang would test missiles weekly and use nuclear weapons if threatened, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing was “gravely concerned” about North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile activities.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment