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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Is Trump aware of that other imminent nuclear war danger – the standoff between India and China ?

The potential conflict between nuclear powers that Trump barely acknowledges, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/08/18/the-potential-conflict-between-nuclear-powers-that-trump-barely-acknowledges/?utm_term=.bdf29c5159e7   August 18The two most populous countries in the world are dangerously close to armed conflict. Both are fast-growing and ambitious nations with something to prove — and they have nuclear weapons. Yet you’ll find surprisingly little discussion of the issue in Washington, where President Trump’s ongoing controversies and the threat of terrorist attacks (more on the horrific attack in Barcelona later in the newsletter) continue to dominate the discussion.The military standoff between India and China over a remote plateau in the Himalayas has been going on for months now. This week, The Post’s Annie Gowen and Simon Denyer took a look at the complicated dispute, which was sparked by China’s move to build a road in territory claimed by Bhutan, a close ally of India that does not have formal diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Territorial disputes between in the area are far from new — India and China briefly went to war over contest territory in 1962. And much of the present dispute dates back to an 1890 border agreement made between British India and China’s Qing Dynasty, one of a number of lingering problems caused by colonial cartographers.

But experts say the current standoff is the worst in decades and has taken on a different tone than previous flare-ups. “It would be very complacent to rule out escalation,” Shashank Joshi, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London, told The Post. “It’s the most serious crisis in India-China relations for 30 years.”

Both India and China are speaking openly and seriously of armed conflict, with Beijing’s state media striking a indigent and at times uncharacteristically vulgar tone. An English-language video posted by the Xinhua news agency Wednesday accused India of “trampling international law” and “inventing various excuses to whitewash its illegal moves” — before showing a Chinese actor in a Sikh turban who spoke in an insulting Indian accent.

If India and China were to go to war, it would be no small matter. Over 2.6 billion people live in the two nations. Between them, they are estimated to have 380 nuclear weapons (though both China and India subscribe to a “no first use” policy, which should — hopefully — mean they wouldn’t be used in such any conflict).

In a briefing last month, the U.S. State Department urged restraint. During a press briefing last week, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “It’s a situation that we have certainly followed closely. And as you know, we have relationships with both governments. We continue to encourage both parties to sit down and have conversations about that.”

The dispute centers not only on the territory in question — an obscure, 34-square-mile area known as the Dolam Plateau that is claimed by both Bhutan and China — but a narrow strip of strategically important Indian land called the Siliguri Corridor. This tract, unaffectionately nicknamed the “chicken’s neck,” connects the bulk of the India with its remote east. Delhi has long feared Chinese troops could cut across the corridor if war broke out, effectively cutting the country in half. It’s not an unreasonable fear, given that the region is just 14 miles wide at its thinnest point; Ankit Panda of the Diplomat once dubbed it a “terrifyingly vulnerable artery in India’s geography.”

It is widely assumed that Washington would side with India in the dispute. Trump is a frequent critic of China, and some in his administration have pushed for tough responses to other territorial claims made by Beijing, such as the ongoing disputes in the South China Sea. Trump called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s Independence Day this week, which some media outlets interpreted as a gesture of support for New Delhi.

And yet, there is a nagging sense among some in India that Trump won’t have Modi’s back if push comes to shove. “If ever there was a war with China, America would never come to our rescue,” one government official told Indian journalist Barkha Dutt recently, according to a story Dutt wrote for The Post’s Global Opinion section.

Washington also may be diplomatically limited in the region: A number of key State Department positions that would have responsibility for handling an India-China crisis remain unfilled. Another part of the problem is simply the complexity of the issue, which could prove hard to communicate to a leader with seemingly limited knowledge of the world and a notoriously short attention span.

There is also an argument that perhaps Trump should keep his nose out of this. The Post’s Jackson Diehl wrote he didn’t find much enthusiasm for U.S. involvement in the dispute while in Delhi last week. The U.S. president has gained a reputation there for being hotheaded and impulsive — even the drawdown in tensions with North Korea seems to have happened in spite of his involvement, not because of it.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | China, India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China calls for stopping U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises

China calls for end to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/08/17/China-calls-for-end-to-US-South-Korea-joint-military-exercises/3911502966370/ By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Aug. 17, 2017 Aug. 17 (UPI) China again called for the “dual suspension” of North Korea‘s nuclear weapons program and U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises on Thursday.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the statement before reporters at a regular press briefing, following reports Washington and Seoul are planning to begin drills on the Korean peninsula on Aug. 21, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

“Many countries including the United States have expressed their desire to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue peacefully through diplomatic means,” Hua said. “The most feasible and reasonable way to do this in the tense and complex situation at present is a dual suspension” on both sides.

The Chinese spokeswoman added although “the recent situation on the Korean peninsula is showing signs of easing tensions, it is still highly complex and fragile.”

“North Korea, the United States, and other parties directly concerned with the nuclear issue should do more,” Hua said. “The essence of the Korean peninsula issue can be found in the security problem, and the door to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue can really be opened when the concerns of each country are resolved in a balanced way. The most pressing issue now is to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, and end the vicious cycle of increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula.”

Hua also said if the United States has a better plan that “involves the peaceful resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue and the restoration of peaceful dialogue, China will support it with a positive and open attitude.”

Hua added she welcomed an earlier suggestion from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to dial down the rhetoric and “dial up diplomacy.”

“This is the same as China’s solution to the North Korea nuclear issue,” Hua said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in previously defended the joint exercises as legitimate drills of a defensive nature, while condemning North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations as illegal.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment

China’s more rational response to the North Korean situation

China and the North Korean nuclear challenge, In Beijing’s eyes, the status quo is preferable to the upheaval that would result from action to topple Kim, Japan Times, BY RAMESH THAKUR, 17 Aug 17 GUANGZHOU, .ON A SUPERFICIAL READING, CHINA IS FEELING THE SQUEEZE TO TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION TO BRING NORTH KOREA TO HEEL OVER ITS ROGUE NUCLEAR PROGRAM. ON A DEEPER READING, CHINA’S GAINS FROM THE CRISIS EXCEED THE COSTS. ON A WIDER READING, WASHINGTON DAILY VINDICATES PYONGYANG’S NUCLEAR CHOICES……..

Stability and conflict-avoidance in its immediate region remains a vital national interest for China’s development and peaceful rise. Heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear antics risk an uncontrolled armed conflict, strengthened U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliances and enhanced prospects of nuclear breakouts by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

But China’s leverage over Pyongyang, although greater than that of others, is limited. Pyongyang has proven indifferent to what others think and impervious to external pressure. With 80 percent of trade with China, more U.N. sanctions amount to more sanctions on China. It is cost-free for Washington and Western countries to engage in virtue signaling by enacting still tougher international sanctions whose costs have to be borne by China.

If the sanctions succeed in destroying North Korea’s economy and engineer a collapse, millions of desperate refugees will flood into China and a crucial geographical buffer against U.S. forces will disappear.

By what right does Washington tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of its ally Israel but demand that China force a rollback of North Korea’s? In Beijing’s eyes, the U.S. provokes a crisis but holds China responsible for solving it. U.S. threats also stir memories among elderly Chinese of how they were treated in the early year’s of China’s own nuclear program.

Any further weakening of Pyongyang’s links with Beijing and Moscow will feed North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s siege paranoia and solidify reliance on nuclear weapons as the only assured guarantee of regime and personal survival. The U.S. record of infidelity to political package deals — the 1954 Geneva accords on Indochina, understandings with Russia on Eastern Europe on ending the Cold War, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s abandonment of his nuclear program — inspires distrust. Every fresh bellicose threat from Washington deepens Pyongyang’s dependence on and attachment to a nuclear deterrent that can strike the U.S. mainland.

On balance, therefore, in China’s calculation the status quo of a nuclearized North Korea, however unpalatable, is preferable to the upheaval that would result from military strikes or regime collapse. This is consistent with the sober conclusion of The Economist that all options for dealing with North Korea are bad but blundering into a war would be the worst………

Chinese President Xi Jinping is the very model of a circumspect, calm and statesmanlike leader urging restraint in rhetoric and action by both sides and calling for a phased program (freeze-for-freeze) to reduce tensions. Each new step on the escalation ladder does further damage to the U.S. reputation for responsible leadership while boosting China’s profile and prestige. It also obscures China’s own past culpability in enabling North Korea’s nuclear program while underlining the history of U.S. forcible regime change as the main driver of Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuit.

This, in turn, this amplifies the larger narrative of the diminishing U.S. presence in Asia…..

Japan and South Korea have managed to live for years with the reality of vulnerability to North Korea’s nukes. There is no reason why the U.S. cannot learn to do the same. Kim should be left in no doubt that an attack on any of the three allies would bring instant military strikes and elimination of the regime. But there will be no preventive strikes. Instead a policy of containment — which requires credible threats, not bluster — will be instituted along with risk avoidance and crisis stability measures that served all sides well during the Cold War.

The only genuine progress on eliminating nuclear threats will be a universal ban treaty followed by a verifiable and enforceable plan for destroying and dismantling nuclear weapons programs in all countries.

Professor Ramesh Thakur is director of the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/08/17/commentary/world-commentary/china-north-korean-nuclear-challenge/#.WZYqftIjHGg

August 18, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

USA does not grasp China’s point of view on the North Korea nuclear situation

US Talks to China about North Korea, But Does Not Listen, UCS, GREGORY KULACKI, CHINA PROJECT MANAGER AND SENIOR ANALYST | AUGUST 16, 2017The United States and China both want North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The North Korean leadership continues to defy them both. The United States says it is willing to risk a war to stop them. China is not.

China’s top priority is preserving the peace, however uneasy that peace might be. A credible North Korean capability to launch a nuclear-armed ICBM may make US officials psychologically uncomfortable. But the Chinese leadership does not feel that increased US anxiety is a sufficient justification for starting a war that could conceivably kill hundreds of thousands of people and collapse Asia’s economy, even if no nuclear weapons were used.

China has made its priorities clear to both the United States and North Korea. An August 10 editorial published in China’s Global Times warned both sides against striking first. The editorial was not an official statement of Chinese government policy but it almost certainly was reviewed and approved at the highest level. It suggested to the leadership in Pyongyang that, “If North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral”. It also suggested to Washington that, “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

China has also made it clear that it will not agree to sanctions that strangle North Korea’s economy. China supports economic penalties that punish North Korea for defying the United Nations and continuing its testing programs. And China is willing to work with the United States and the international community to deny North Korea access to critical technologies. But on August 5th, in an official statement made at the time of the vote on the latest round of UN sanctions, China emphasized, as it has many times in the past, that China “did not intend to negatively impact such non-military goods as food and humanitarian aid.”

US Refusal to Listen

Though China’s position on North Korea is clear and consistent, US policy is based on the assumption that China’s position will change.  On August 13th, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson penned an editorial in which they repeated the claim, believed by most US policy makers and analysts,  that China has “decisive diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea.” The implication is that China can force the North Korean leadership to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The joint editorial reiterated a US policy announced earlier this year by Secretary Tillerson, who said the Trump administration was engaged in an unprecedented effort to “lean hard into China” in order to pressure its leaders to change their policy.

Presumably this means trying to compel China to take steps to strangle the North Korean economy. The United States reportedly attempted to include a crude oil embargo in the latest round of UN sanctions. But China refused, as it has in the past, to agree to sanctions that would have the kind of suffocating economic impact the United States believes would force North Korea to surrender its nuclear ambitions. In their editorial Tillerson and Mattis told their Chinese counterparts they expect China to “do more” than enforce the current round of UN sanctions. They want China to cut off North Korea’s “economic lifelines.”…..

History may well record that in this particular moment of high tension, China’s president acted with greater patience, skill and prudence than the president of the United States.

On August 14th, as tensions began to subside, an editorial in the overseas edition of China’s People’s Daily chastised both the United States and North Korea for “playing a game of chicken on the Korean peninsula.” That’s not the language of a country that lacks confidence in its current position or is overly concerned about upsetting the United States. http://allthingsnuclear.org/gkulacki/us-talks-to-china-about-north-korea-but-does-not-listen

August 18, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

China again urging calm dialogue, not angry words and actions, on the Korean peninsula

China urges all sides to put out fire, not add to flames, in North Korea standoff, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-china-idUSKCN1AV0N5?il=0Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Philip Wen; Editing by Nick Macfie, BEIJING (Reuters) AUGUST 15, 2017– China on Tuesday reiterated calls for restraint on the Korean peninsula, saying it hoped all sides could put out the flames, not add oil to the fire, with their words and actions.

Speaking at a daily press briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged a peaceful resolution of the standoff.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam while he waits to see what the United States does next, the North’s state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea’s president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment

China’s economic advantage in control of rare earths

Control of rare earths gives China a fresh economic advantage, Las Vegas Sun, By Llewellyn King, Aug. 10, 2017……China controls the world’s production and distribution of rare earths. It produces more than 92 percent of them and holds the world in its hand when it comes to the future of almost anything in high technology.

Rare earths are great multipliers and the heaviest are the most valuable. They make the things we take for granted, from the small motors in automobiles to the wind turbines that are revolutionizing the production of electricity. For example, rare earths increase a conventional magnet’s power by at least fivefold. Strategically, they are the new oil.

Rare earths are also at work in smartphones and computers. Fighter jets and smart weapons, like cruise missiles, rely on them. In national defense, there is no substitute and no other supply source available…….

If President Donald Trump — apparently encouraged by his trade adviser Peter Navarro, and his policy adviser Steve Bannon — is contemplating a trade war with China, rare earths are China’s most potent weapon.

A trade war moves the rare-earths threat from existential to immediate.

In a strange regulatory twist the United States — and most of the world — won’t be able to open rare-earths mines without legislation and an international treaty modification. Rare earths are often found in conjunction with thorium, a mildly radioactive metal and a large regulatory problem.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency have defined thorium as a nuclear “source material” that requires special disposition. Until these classifications, thorium was disposed of along with other mine tailings. Now it has to be separated and collected. ….

Meanwhile, future disruptions from China won’t necessarily be in the markets; they could be in the obscure but vital commodities known as rare earths: China’s not-quite-secret weapon. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/aug/10/control-of-rare-earths-gives-china-a-fresh-economi/

August 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics international, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

China losing confidence in nuclear power

Nuclear Engineering International 10th Aug 2017, One of the conclusions of my most recent article on China was that many ofthe negative factors which have affected nuclear programmes elsewhere in
the world are now also crucial there.

The last year has confirmed that this was a reasonable judgement. Despite five new reactors starting up in 2016,
to bring the number in operation to 36, with combined generating capacity
of 32.6GWe, it is clear that the programme has continued to slow sharply.

The most obvious sign is the lack of approvals for new construction.
Although there are 21 units under construction, representing 23.1GWe, there
have now been no new approvals for 18 months. Other signs of trouble are
the uncertainties about the type of reactor to be utilised in the future,
the position of the power market in China, the structure of the industry
with its large state owned enterprises (SOEs), the degree of support from
top state planners and public opposition to nuclear plans.

There are a few possible explanations for the slowdown in approvals. Delays in imported
Generation III reactor designs (the Westinghouse AP1000 and Areva EPR) have
no doubt concerned regulators. Problems with the AP1000 projects at Sanmen
and Haiyang are more serious, as this reactor was destined for most of
China’s future reactor sites. Now hot testing is complete the first
Sanmen unit may go into operation before the end of 2017, but this will not
bring forward a flood of new approvals.

The Chinese have suffered a severe dent in their confidence about the AP1000, not helped by Westinghouse’s
bankruptcy. The authorities will want to see clear evidence of successful
operation before authorising more units. If they do, the first will be at
the existing two sites, but there are several others that have been ready
to go for several years now. http://www.neimagazine.com/opinion/opinionnuclear-in-china-why-the-slowdown-5896525/

August 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics | Leave a comment

China confident about new sanctions on North Korea: Trump prepared for “preventive war”

China Counting on Sanctions to Block North Korea Nuclear Push, Bloomberg , By Keith Zhai  and  Kambiz Foroohar    August 7, 2017, 
  • Measure aims to cut $1 billion a year from Pyongyang’s exports
  • Trump’s security adviser says ‘preventive’ war an option
China expressed confidence that new United Nations sanctions would help bring North Korea to the negotiating table to end its push for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho to calmly react to measures to curb its exports and avoid more provocations when they met on Sunday in Manila, where diplomats from more than 20 countries are attending a security forum. Wang, who also called for the U.S. and South Korea to reduce tensions, said after meeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the sanctions “created the conditions to find a breakthrough.”

“The goal is to effectively block the DPRK’s nuclear development process,” Wang told reporters in Manila. “Sanctions are needed but not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and to seek a final solution.”

As North Korea’s main ally and biggest trading partner, China’s role is crucial to pressuring leader Kim Jong Un into halting his push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the U.S. mainland…….

Many analysts see the North Korean program as too advanced for sanctions to make much difference, and doubt the country will ever completely give up nuclear weapons……

Trump isn’t ruling out a “preventive war” to stop North Korea from being able to threaten the U.S., National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in an interview with MSNBC done earlier in the week and broadcast Saturday. The danger posed by North Korea was “a grave threat,” he said.

“If they had nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States, it’s intolerable from the president’s perspective,” McMaster told MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt. Even so, the U.S. would prefer to resolve the threat “short of what would be a very costly war in terms of the suffering of, mainly, the South Korean people,” McMaster said. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-06/china-confident-un-sanctions-can-block-north-korea-nuclear-push

August 7, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Future of China’s nuclear export industry in doubt

China’s nuclear export ambitions run into friction https://www.ft.com/content/84c25750-75da-11e7-90c0-90a9d1bc9691   by: Matthew Cottee , 3 Aug 17,China is using infrastructure exports to build strategic relationships with a range of countries in Asia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. As part of its One Belt One Road (OBOR) policy, Beijing has pledged more money than went into the postwar Marshall plan on high-speed rail schemes around the world in an effort to secure diplomatic allies and develop new markets. The economic and diplomatic impact of its massive investment, however, remains questionable.

By providing technology, Beijing seeks to develop alliances with key states in a variety of regions. It aims to provide long-term contracts to construct, operate, maintain, provide fuel, train staff, and develop infrastructure while establishing links to high-level government representatives. But will nuclear exports prove any more influential and successful than high-speed rail?
The combined cost of cancelled rail projects equates to roughly a third of the estimated $143bn in total planned investment for projects involving Chinese contractors. As the FT highlights, some of the cancellations are the result of factors beyond China’s control, such as civil war in Libya. Other cases have been caused by a lack of transparency on the part of Chinese companies, the inability of recipients to manage large amounts of debt, and alternative models of government that delay decision making. Factors beyond Beijing’s control may also influence the success of its nuclear export strategy. Global interest in nuclear energy is experiencing a lull, prompting valid questions about China’s decision to invest in such technology as a long-term export market. Environmental consciousness is one reason for reducing reliance on nuclear energy. Political decisions in South Korea and France — two key proponents of nuclear energy — highlight this evolving trend. In Seoul, President Moon Jae-in has decided to phase out domestic electricity production from nuclear power plants. Nicolas Hulot, France’s minister of ecological and social transition, has also mooted efforts to cut the share of nuclear in its energy mix to 50 per cent by 2025, as required by a 2015 law.
The significant costs of nuclear energy mirror the issues highlighted by rail projects. Many existing nuclear projects are dependent on Chinese financing; China’s Exim Bank is bankrolling 82 per cent of the cost of Pakistan’s new reactors and is thought to be contributing to the construction of reactors in Romania alongside the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. In November 2015, China National Nuclear Corporation invested $4.7bn in Argentina’s Nucleoelectrica. In the UK, China is to provide 33 per cent of the estimated £20bn for the Hinkley Point C project. In exchange, Beijing has been promised the opportunity to build its indigenously developed nuclear technology in Essex. The open question is whether such investment will eventually pay off. The current leader in the nuclear export market, Russia’s Rosatom, is reportedly shifting focus to hydropower and wind turbines rather than its usual reactor business. Speaking at the ‘Technoprom-2017’ conference in Novosibirsk, the deputy general director of Rosatom, Vyacheslav Pershukov, suggested that the export market for nuclear reactors has been exhausted.
The various setbacks to traditional nuclear energy providers, namely Areva, Toshiba and Westinghouse, suggest that market competition is dwindling. South Korea’s proposed diversification away from nuclear will also have significant ramifications for its nuclear export industry, given the key role government support plays in getting contracts agreed. Time will tell whether these developments represent an opportunity or a forewarning for China’s grand nuclear ambitions. Beijing is committed to sustained development of nuclear energy domestically but will hope that the nuclear vision remains bright in the untapped international markets with which it has signed exploratory agreements. As long-time proponents of nuclear are questioning its future role, and seasoned nuclear exporters are seeking to diversify, however, China’s nuclear efforts could be destined to go down the same track as its high-speed rail strategy. Dr Matthew Cottee is research associate, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China | Leave a comment

China at UN urges negotiated solutions to North Korea nuclear issue

Chinese envoy stresses negotiated solutions to Korean nuclear issue http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/01/c_136490946.htm 2017-08-01  UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy to the United Nations Monday called for negotiated solutions to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN, made the statement at a press conference on Monday, marking the end of China’s rotating term of the Security Council President for the month of July.

Liu said China is firmly opposed to any violation of the Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, including nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

China has been urging the DPRK and other relevant countries not to exacerbate the situation on the Korean Peninsula by avoiding words and actions that could escalate regional tensions, which run counter to the objectives sought by the UNSC.

“Our objective is to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and to seek negotiated solutions through dialogues and consultations,” said the ambassador.

China is opposed to conflicts or wars on the peninsula, he said.

“Basically, if you can generalize broadly what relevant resolutions contain, they contain sanctions to address the nuclear ballistic missile programs in the DPRK,” he added. Liu said that normal economic relations should be maintained, and the resolutions are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the DPRK’s civilians.

“China has been working very hard to try to initiate an negotiated solution of the issues of denuclearization, peace and stability,” he said.

“In doing so, we have proposed a package solution, including ‘freeze for freeze’, ‘suspension for suspension’ and denuclearization for peace or security mechanism on the ground,” he added.

At the meeting, the ambassador also told the media that China has been working with the Russian Federation to put forth a road map for achieving regional peace and the UNSC’s objectives.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

China now out of favour with Donald Trump

Donald Trump says China does ‘nothing’ to thwart North Korea’s nuclear quest Trump has previously used conciliatory and at times fawning language to refer to China’s President Xi, but the honeymoon appears to be over, Guardian, Tom Phillips 30 July 17Donald Trump has launched his latest Twitter assault on China, accusing its Communist party leaders of doing “NOTHING” to help the United States thwart North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons.

“I am very disappointed in China,” Trump wrote. “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet … they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.

“We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” he added.

The comments came after Kim Jong-un celebrated his country’s second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test late on Friday, in what North Korean state media described as a warning to the “beast-like US imperialists”.

On Saturday, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, accused Russia and China of being North Korea’s “principal economic enablers” and claimed they bore “unique and special responsibility” for its “belligerent” pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Conservative news outlets in the US appeared to relish Trump’s decision to assail Beijing for its alleged role in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

“Trump rips China on Twitter,” ran a Fox News headline……..

There were reports, later, that two US B-1 bombers fly over the Korean peninsula in response to North Korea’s missile test. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/30/donald-trump-says-china-does-nothing-to-thwart-north-koreas-nuclear-quest

July 31, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

China’s display of conventional and nuclear weapons might

Chinese military displays conventional, nuclear missiles at parade, Economic Times, Jul 30, 2017, BEIJING: Chinese military today showcased five models of its homemade conventional and nuclear missiles in a massive military parade, marking the 2.3-million strong People’s Liberation Army’s 90th founding anniversary.

The models include the Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile, which can be fired at short notice and fitted with a nuclear warhead, the Dongfeng-21D land-based anti-ship ballistic missile described as a “carrier killer” and the Dongfeng-16G conventional missile designed for precision strikes against key enemy targets.

Also on display were two types of solid-fuel inter- continental strategic nuclear missiles, which rumbled on top of long-bed missile launchers, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The equipment and soldiers driving the mobile launch vehicles came from the PLA’s Rocket Force, which was established in December 2015 as part of the PLA’s extensive military structural reform. …

The parade was held in the backdrop of over month-long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam in Sikkim section.

Besides Doklam, China is also concerned by the situation in North Korea and the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile by the US in South Korea much to the opposition of Beijing. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/chinese-military-displays-conventional-nuclear-missiles-at-parade/articleshow/59831588.cms

July 31, 2017 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China’s marketing strategy – Poland and Britain as springboards for China’s nuclear marketing

CGN eyes Poland for China’s nuclear exports By Zheng Xin | China Daily : 2017-07-26 China General Nuclear Power Corp is eyeing Poland as a potential destination for nuclear exports, as part of its expansion in Europe apart from the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Romania.

Polish authorities have been consulting with CGN, China’s largest nuclear operator, on cooperating and building the country’s first nuclear power station, according to a statement on the CGN website on Monday.

“CGN attaches substantial significance to the Polish nuclear power market and is willing to become a long-term strategic partner of the country,” said Shu Guogang, vice-president of CGN.

The two parties signed a Memorandum Of Understanding on cooperation on civil nuclear energy use earlier this month, which Shu said would bring mutual benefits to both countries.

According to Poland’s Energy Ministry, the visit to China earlier this month was to explore the possibility of cooperation between the Polish and Chinese nuclear sectors……..

The Memorandum Of Understanding is yet more evidence that the drive by Chinese electric power industry to diversify abroad is gradually expanding, said Joseph Jacobelli, a senior analyst of Asian utilities and infrastructure at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“CGN’s experience and financing capability and capacity means the company should be able to lock in one or more overseas deals in the next few quarters, despite the fact that whether the company can nail more deals in Eastern Europe is difficult to say at this stage because of the complex nature,” said Jacobelli.

“Nuclear investments take a long time to complete as they are more complex, while projects may also create local social backlashes and have security considerations.”

According to Jacobelli, CGN’s cooperation with the British government is more of a springboard for the company to reach other destinations in the European continent.

CGN signed an agreement on the Hinkley Point C power plant with French utility EDF and the British government last September, which has been hailed as a gateway to promote Chinese nuclear technology.

“The UK is the perfect base from a logistics perspective. It is a perfect springboard for development,” he said. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-07/26/content_30248171.htm

July 28, 2017 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

Conflict in remote Himalayan plateau could lead to war between India and China

Warnings of a ‘chance of war’ between India and China as nuclear rivals face off Benedict Brooknews.com.au JULY 17, 2017 ASK most people to name a current crisis between nuclear armed states and North Korea and the US’ rapidly worsening relations would come to mind.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | China, India, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The international nuclear industry in financial meltdown

Global Meltdown? Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilis, Jim Green, New Matilda, 9 July 2017 https://newmatilda.com/2017/07/09/global-meltdown-nuclear-powers-annus-horribilis/

This year will go down with 1979 (Three Mile Island), 1986 (Chernobyl) and 2011 (Fukushima) as one of the nuclear industry’s worst ever ‒ and there’s still another six months to go, writes Dr Jim Green.

Two of the industry’s worst-ever years have been in the past decade and there will be many more bad years ahead as the trickle of closures of ageing reactors becomes a flood ‒ the International Energy Agency expects almost 200 reactor closures between 2014 and 2040. The likelihood of reactor start-ups matching closures over that time period has become vanishingly small.

In January, the World Nuclear Association anticipated 18 power reactor start-ups this year. The projection has been revised down to 14 and even that seems more than a stretch. There has only been one reactor start-up in the first half of the year according to the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System, and two permanent reactor closures.

The number of power reactors under construction is on a downward trajectory ‒ 59 reactors are under construction as of May 2017, the first time since 2010 that the number has fallen below 60.

Pro-nuclear journalist Fred Pearce wrote on May 15: “Is the nuclear power industry in its death throes? Even some nuclear enthusiasts believe so. With the exception of China, most nations are moving away from nuclear ‒ existing power plants across the United States are being shut early; new reactor designs are falling foul of regulators, and public support remains in free fall. Now come the bankruptcies…. The industry is in crisis. It looks ever more like a 20th century industrial dinosaur, unloved by investors, the public, and policymakers alike. The crisis could prove terminal.”

Pro-nuclear lobby groups are warning about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis“, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“, and noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

United States

The most dramatic story this year has been the bankruptcy protection filing of US nuclear giant Westinghouse onMarch 29. Westinghouse’s parent company Toshiba states that there is “substantial doubt” about Toshiba’s “ability to continue as a going concern”. These nuclear industry giants have been brought to their knees by cost overruns ‒estimated at US$13 billion ‒ building four AP1000 power reactors in the U.S.

The nuclear debate in the US is firmly centred on attempts to extend the lifespan of ageing, uneconomic reactors with state bailouts. Financial bailouts by state governments in New York and Illinois are propping up ageing reactors, but a proposed bailout in Ohio is meeting stiff opposition. The fate of Westinghouse and its partially-built AP1000 reactors are much discussed, but there is no further discussion about new reactors ‒ other than to note that they won’t happen.

Six reactors have been shut down over the past five years in the US, and another handful will likely close in the next five years. How far and fast will nuclear fall? Exelon ‒ the leading nuclear power plant operator in the US ‒ claims that “economic and policy challenges threaten to close about half of America’s reactors” in the next two decades. According to pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress‘, almost one-quarter of US reactors are at high risk of closure by 2030, and almost three-quarters are at medium to high risk. In May, the US Energy Information Administration released an analysis projecting nuclear’s share of the nation’s electricity generating capacity will drop from 20 per cent to 11 per cent by 2050.

There are different views about how far and fast nuclear will fall in the US ‒ but fall it will. And there is no dispute that many plants are losing money. More than half in fact, racking up losses totalling about US$2.9 billion a year according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And a separate Bloomberg report found that expanding state aid to money-losing reactors across the eastern US may leave consumers on the hook for as much as US$3.9 billion a year in higher power bills.

Japan

Fukushima clean-up and compensation cost estimates have doubled and doubled again and now stand at US$191 billion. An analysis by the Japan Institute for Economic Research estimates that the total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation could be far higher at US$443‒620 billion.

Only five reactors are operating in Japan as of July 2017, compared to 54 before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. The prospects for new reactors are bleak. Japan has given up on its Monju fast breeder reactor ‒ successive governments wasted US$10.6 billion on Monju and decommissioning will cost another US$2.7 billion.

As mentioned, Toshiba is facing an existential crisis due to the crippling debts of its subsidiary Westinghouse. Toshibaannounced on May 15 that it expects to report a consolidated net loss of US$8.4 billion for the 2016‒2017 financial year which ended March 31.

Hitachi is backing away from its plan to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors in Wylfa, Wales. Hitachi recentlysaid that if it cannot attract partners to invest in the project before construction is due to start in 2019, the project will be suspended.

Hitachi recently booked a massive loss on a failed investment in laser uranium enrichment technology in the US. A 12 May 2017 statement said the company had posted an impairment loss on affiliated companies’ common stock of US$1.66 billion for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2017, and “the major factor” was Hitachi’s exit from the laser enrichment project. Last year a commentator opined that “the way to make a small fortune in the uranium enrichment business in the US is to start with a large one.”

France

The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever” according to former EDF director Gérard Magnin. France has 58 operable reactors and just one under construction.

French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns for the two reactors amount to about US$14.5 billion.

Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“. Now Areva itself is in tatters and is in the process of a government-led restructure and another taxpayer-funded bailout. On March 1, Areva posted a €665 million net loss for 2016. Losses in the preceding five years exceeded €10 billion.

In February, EDF released its financial figures for 2016: earnings and income fell and EDF’s debt remained steady at €37.4 billion. EDF plans to sell €10 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, and to sack up to 7,000 staff. The French government provided EDF with €3 billion in extra capital in 2016 and will contribute €3 billion towards a €4 billioncapital raising this year. On March 8, shares in EDF hit an all-time low a day after the €4 billion capital raising was launched; the share price fell to €7.78, less than one-tenth of the high a decade ago.

Costs of between €50 billion and €100 billion will need to be spent by 2030 to meet new safety requirements for reactors in France and to extend their operating lives beyond 40 years.

EDF has set aside €23 billion to cover reactor decommissioning and waste management costs in France ‒ just over half of the €54 billion that EDF estimates will be required. A recent report by the French National Assembly’s Commission for Sustainable Development and Regional Development concluded that there is “obvious under-provisioning” and that decommissioning and waste management will take longer, be more challenging and cost much more than EDF anticipates.

In 2015, concerns about the integrity of some EPR pressure vessels were revealed, prompting investigations that are still ongoing. Last year, the scandal was magnified when the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of parts manufactured at the site. At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Work at the Creusot Forge foundry was suspended in the wake of the scandal and Areva is awaiting ASN approval to restart the foundry.

French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot said on June 12 that the government plans to close some nuclear reactors to reduce nuclear’s share of the country’s power mix. “We are going to close some nuclear reactors and it won’t be just a symbolic move,” he said.

India

Nuclear power accounts for just 3.4 percent of electricity supply in India and that figure will not rise significantly, if at all. In May, India’s Cabinet approved a plan to build 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR). That decision can be read as an acknowledgement that plans for six Westinghouse AP1000 reactors and six French EPR reactors are unlikely to eventuate.

The plan for 10 new PHWRs faces major challenges. Suvrat Raju and M.V. Ramana noted: “[N]uclear power will continue to be an expensive and relatively minor source of electricity for the foreseeable future…. The announcement about building 10 PHWRs fits a pattern, often seen with the current government, where it trumpets a routine decision to bolster its “bold” credentials. Most of the plants that were recently approved have been in the pipeline for years. Nevertheless, there is good reason to be sceptical of these plans given that similar plans to build large numbers of reactors have failed to meet their targets, often falling far short.”

South Africa

An extraordinary High Court judgement on April 26 ruled that much of South Africa’s nuclear new-build program is without legal foundation. The High Court set aside the Ministerial determination that South Africa required 9.6 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear capacity, and found that numerous bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements were unconstitutional and unlawful. President Jacob Zuma is trying to revive the nuclear program, but it will most likely be shelved when Zuma leaves office in 2019 (if he isn’t removed earlier). Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on June 21 that South Africa will review its nuclear plans as part of its response to economic recession.

South Korea

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in said on June 19 that his government will halt plans to build new nuclear power plants and will not extend the lifespan of existing plants beyond 40 years. President Moon said: “We will completely re-examine the existing policies on nuclear power. We will scrap the nuclear-centred polices and move toward a nuclear-free era. We will eliminate all plans to build new nuclear plants.”

Since the presidential election on May 9, the ageing Kori-1 reactor has been permanently shut down, work on two partially-built reactors (Shin Kori 5 and 6) has been suspended pending a review, and work on two planned reactors (Shin-Hanul 3 and 4) has been stopped.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s Cabinet reiterated on June 12 the government’s resolve to phase out nuclear power. The government remains committed to the goal of decommissioning the three operational nuclear power plants as scheduled and making Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025, Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said.

UK

Tim Yeo, a former Conservative politician and now a nuclear industry lobbyist with New Nuclear Watch Europe, saidthe compounding problems facing nuclear developers in the UK “add up to something of a crisis for the UK’s nuclear new-build programme.”

The lobby group noted delays with the EPR reactor in Flamanville, France and the possibility that those delays would flow on to the two planned EPR reactors at Hinkley Point; the lack of investors for the proposed Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa; the acknowledgement by the NuGen consortium that the plan for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside faces a “significant funding gap”; and the fact that the Hualong One technology which China General Nuclear Power Corporation hopes to deploy at Bradwell in Essex has yet to undergo its generic design assessment.

The only reactor project with any momentum in the UK is Hinkley Point, based on the French EPR reactor design. The head of one of Britain’s top utilities said on June 19 that Hinkley Point is likely to be the only nuclear project to go ahead in the UK. Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive officer of SSE, an energy supplier and former investor in new nuclear plants, said: “The bottom line in nuclear is that it looks like only Hinkley Point will get built and Flamanville needs to go well for that to happen.”

There is growing pressure for the obscenely expensive Hinkley Point project to be cancelled. The UK National Audit Office report released a damning report on June 23. The Audit Office said: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits… Today’s report finds that the Department has not sufficiently considered the costs and risks of its deal for consumers…. Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C’s contract for difference has increased from £6 billion to £30 billion.”

Writing in the Financial Times on May 26, Neil Collins said: “EDF, of course, is the contractor for that white elephant in the nuclear room, Hinkley Point. If this unproven design ever gets built and produces electricity, the UK consumer will be obliged to pay over twice the current market price for the output…. The UK’s energy market is in an unholy mess… Scrapping Hinkley Point would not solve all of [the problems], but it would be a start.”

And on it goes. Hinkley Point is one of the “great spending dinosaurs of the political dark ages” according to The Guardian. It is a “white elephant” according to an editorial in The Times.

EDF said on June 26 that it is conducting a “full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project” and the results will be disclosed “soon”. On July 3, EDF announced that the estimated cost of the two Hinkley reactors has risen by €2.5 billion (to €23.2 billion, or €30.4 billion including finance costs). In 2007, EDF was boasting that Britons would be using electricity from Hinkley to cook their Christmas turkeys in December 2017. But in its latestannouncement, EDF pushes back the 2025 start-up dates for the two Hinkley reactors by 9‒15 months.

Oliver Tickell and Ian Fairlie wrote an obituary for Britain’s nuclear renaissance in The Ecologist on May 18. Theyconcluded: “[T]he prospects for new nuclear power in the UK have never been gloomier. The only way new nuclear power stations will ever be built in the UK is with massive political and financial commitment from government. That commitment is clearly absent. So yes, this finally looks like the end of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’.”

Switzerland

Voters in Switzerland supported a May 21 referendum on a package of energy policy measures including a ban on new nuclear power reactors. Thus Switzerland has opted for a gradual nuclear phase out and all reactors will probably be closed by the early 2030s, if not earlier.

Germany will close its last reactor much sooner than Switzerland, in 2022.

Sweden

Unit 1 of the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden has been permanently shut down. Unit 2 at the same plant was permanently shut down in 2015. Ringhals 1 and 2 are expected to be shut down in 2019‒2020, after which Sweden will have just six operating power reactors. Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan have made deliberate decisions to phase out nuclear power; in Sweden, the phase out will be attritional.

Russia

Rosatom deputy general director Vyacheslav Pershukov said in mid-June that the world market for the construction of new nuclear power plants is shrinking, and the possibilities for building new large reactors abroad are almost exhausted. He said Rosatom expects to be able to find customers for new reactors until 2020‒2025 but “it will be hard to continue.”

China

With 36 power reactors and another 22 under construction, China is the only country with a significant nuclear expansion program. However nuclear growth could take a big hit in the event of economic downturn. And nuclear growth could be derailed by a serious accident, which is all the more likely because of China’s inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of the World Information Service on Energy’s Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, politics, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, USA | Leave a comment