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China trying to market nuclear technology to Argentina

Chinese delegation set to revive stalled Argentina nuclear power plant talks
Technical team expected to go to Latin American country to discuss project reportedly worth up to US$8 billion, SCMP, 16 Mar, 2019 A delegation from China will visit Argentina this month to discuss the construction of a nuclear power plant, signalling possible progress in a deal that could increase Beijing’s deepening influence in the South American nation.

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March 18, 2019 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

“Never Recognised India, Pakistan As Nuclear Countries,” Says China 

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/china-never-recognised-india-pakistan-as-nuclear-countries-2001316

हिंदी में पढ़ेंবাংলায় পড়ুন

“China has never recognised India and Pakistan as nuclear countries. Our position on this has never changed,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing in Beijing.

“China has never recognised India and Pakistan as nuclear countries. Our position on this has never changed,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing in Beijing.

He was replying to a question whether China would recognise North Korea as a nuclear state like India and Pakistan as talks between Trump and Kim at the second summit in Hanoi broke down over Pyongyang’s refusal to give up two nuclear processing plants.

China has been blocking India’s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the ground that New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

After India applied for NSG membership, Pakistan too applied for the same following that China has called for a two-step approach which states that NSG members first need to arrive at a set of principles for the admission of non-NPT states into the NSG and then move forward discussions of specific cases.

March 2, 2019 Posted by | China, India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

Wind and solar power in China – fast outstripping nuclear power

Wind & Solar In China Generating 2× Nuclear Today, Will Be 4× By 2030,  Clean Technica, February 21st, 2019 by Michael Barnard, Close to five years ago I published an assessment of nuclear scaling vs wind and solar scaling using China as the proving ground in the CleanTechnica article “Wind Energy Beats Nuclear & Carbon Capture For Global Warming Mitigation.” Today, the China example is more clear proof that wind and solar are the better choice for global warming mitigation than nuclear generation.China’s example is meaningful because it disproves several arguments of those in favor of increased nuclear generation. It’s not suffering under regulatory burden. It’s mostly been using the same nuclear technologies over and over again, not innovating with every new plant. It doesn’t have the same issues with social license due to the nature of the governmental system. The government has a lot of money. The inhibitors to widespread deployment are much lower.

Yet China has significantly slowed its nuclear generation rollout while accelerating its wind and solar rollout. Even strong industry insiders accept this, ones such as former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd, writing in Nuclear Engineering International in 2017.

Kidd estimates that China’s nuclear capacity will be around 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, well below previous expectations. Forecasts of 200 GW by 2030 were “not unusual only a few years ago,” he writes, but now seem “very wide of the mark.” And even the 100 GW estimate is stretching credulity ‒ nuclear capacity will be around 50 GW in 2020 and a doubling of that capacity by 2030 won’t happen if the current slow-down sets in.

Why is China slowing its nuclear rollout so drastically? Because nuclear is turning out to be more expensive than expected, new nuclear designs are proving to be uneconomical, and new wind and solar are dirt cheap and much easier to build.

Recently I published an assessment of the potential for wind and solar to massively exceed US CO2 reductions from nuclear in the CleanTechnica article US Could Achieve 3× As Much CO2 Savings With Renewables Instead Of Nuclear For Less Money. As usual, many of the comments from nuclear advocates related to the relative success of China, its speed of deployment compared to other jurisdictions and similar things.

In the discussion threads, I attempted to find apples-to-apples comparisons of China’s nuclear, solar, and wind generation compared, but none seemed to exist. As a result, I developed a model spanning 2010 to 2030, core years for all three programs. The charts are generated from the model

As I noted in 2014, the wind generation program had started much later than the nuclear program yet had been able to build much more capacity much more quickly, roughly six times more real wind energy capacity than nuclear per year over the years of 2010 through 2014. At the time, I used best of breed capacity factors for both wind and nuclear. One of the arguments against this at the time and on an ongoing basis is that China is curtailing wind and solar generation and achieving lower capacity factors. However, China is also experiencing less than best of breed capacity factors with its nuclear fleet, averaging 80% instead of 90%. This would have put the real world generation in the range of 3–4 times better for wind than for nuclear.

It doesn’t really matter as even with the diminished capacity factors for wind and solar currently experienced, they generated more than double the electricity generated by nuclear in 2018. Wind and solar each generated more electricity last year than nuclear did. By 2030, the ratio is very likely to be 4:1 in favor of wind and solar. And as Lazard has shown, wind and solar are much, much cheaper than nuclear, so China will be getting a lot more electricity at a lower cost point.

The chart above uses the capacity factors being experienced for wind, solar and nuclear to date in China and projects that all three will improve over the coming decade as operational efficiencies and grid connections improve………….

The quote from Kidd above suggests China might achieve only 100 GW of nuclear capacity by 2030. That’s an overestimation according to the actual data. Nuclear reactors in construction today only bring Chinese nuclear capacity to 55 GW by 2023. Reactors scheduled to start construction in the next three years only bring that number to 66 GW. Reactors planned but not scheduled at all are only likely to see 88 GW by 2030. There is no planned capacity that achieves even 100 GW, never mind the heady days when 200 GW was thought to be possible.

And to be clear, even if 200 GW of nuclear had been realized, it still would have been less actual generation than wind and solar.

As I indicated in the recent article on US ability to decrease carbon load, nuclear is much lower carbon per MWh than either coal or gas generation, as well as being free of chemical and particulate pollution. However, wind is still quite a bit lower than nuclear in CO2e per MWh and solar is around the same. Given the speed of deployment per GW of capacity and the much lower price per MWh of wind and solar, nuclear as part of the mix doesn’t make a lot of sense in most places…………https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/21/wind-solar-in-china-generating-2x-nuclear-today-will-be-4x-by-2030/

February 23, 2019 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

A headache for Britain – its reliance on China for nuclear technology

UK’s reliance on China’s nuclear tech poses test for policymakers, Britain risks alienating Beijing if it scraps power deals over security concerns, Ft.com, 15 Feb 19, 

The UK has no easy way to block China’s ambitions to export nuclear reactor technology to Britain on security grounds, despite growing public anxiety about Chinese involvement in sensitive infrastructure, according to people familiar with the situation. The government’s willingness to permit the state-owned utility, CGN, to participate in the UK’s nuclear power generation programme has raised eyebrows in recent months as Chinese investment has come under hostile scrutiny, both in Europe and the US.

In October, an assistant US secretary of state, Christopher Ashley Ford, even warned the UK explicitly against partnering with CGN, saying that Washington had evidence that the business was engaged in taking civilian technology and converting it to military uses. More recently, concerns about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei and cyber security have also prompted calls for the government to back away from closer energy ties. But government policies requiring nuclear projects to be “developer-led”, and interlocking commitments given to Chinese investors by David Cameron’s government in 2014, make it awkward for the government to reverse course………..

Is Chinese involvement really a problem? Opposition to the deal ranges from the strategic to the practical. Economist Dieter Helm said he finds it astonishing that an independent nuclear military power should be “complacent about allowing potential enemies into the core of its nuclear technologies”. Some critics also worry about the availability of fuel and spares in what will be a 60-year plant should Britain and China fall out………..

The bigger risk to CGN’s ambitions may be the UK’s waning appetite for more nuclear reactors, and the lack of competitive tension among developers in seeking new deals. A report last summer from the National Infrastructure Commission warned against “rushing” to support more nuclear stations and suggesting only one more be agreed before 2025, preferring to place bigger bets on renewable energy.

The government has been lobbied by EDF to consider a new form of financing for nuclear, known as the regulated asset base model, which would impose a charge on consumers during the construction phase, helping to reduce the project’s cost of capital, and potentially unlocking private sector investment. This could make the highly geared French group less dependent on Chinese capital to proceed with Sizewell C. According to one civil servant, the business department, BEIS, is considering these proposals “very seriously”.

In the meantime, CGN, which declined to comment on its UK operations, continues to invest heavily in the UK. The total is £2.7bn and counting on Hinkley, the design assessment for the Bradwell reactor and 340 megawatts of renewables plant. According to a source close to CGN: “This is an important year and it is important to remember that the company is a utility, not a bank.” “The Chinese see this UK deal as a strategic imperative and seem intent to do what it takes to make it happen,” said the consultant. “If the UK has changed its mind, it is going to be hard to let them down gently.” https://www.ft.com/content/7734e3be-2f6f-11e9-8744-e7016697f225

February 16, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

India’s submarine rivalry with China in the second nuclear age 

The Strategist , 15 Feb 2019|Ramesh Thakur There are substantially fewer nuclear weapons today than at the height of the Cold War. Yet the overall risks of nuclear war—by design, accident, rogue launch or system error—have grown in the second nuclear age. That’s because more countries with fragile command-and-control systems possess these deadly weapons. Terrorists want them, and they are vulnerable to human error, system malfunction and cyberattack.

The site of great-power rivalry has shifted from Europe to Asia with crisscrossing threat perceptions between three or more nuclear-armed states simultaneously. With North Korea now possessing a weaponised ICBM capability, the US must posture for and contend with three potential nuclear adversaries—China, Russia and North Korea.

The only continent to have experienced the wartime use of atomic weapons, Asia is also the only continent on which nuclear stockpiles are growing. The total stockpiles in Asia make up only 3% of global nuclear arsenals, but warhead numbers are increasing in all four Asian nuclear-armed states (China, India, North Korea and Pakistan). None of them has yet ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, although China is a signatory. Asia stands alone in nuclear testing in this century.

The Cold War nuclear dyads have morphed into interlinked nuclear chains, with a resulting greater complexity of deterrence relations between the nuclear-armed states. Thus, as I’ve previously argued, the tit-for-tat suspensions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by the US and Russia has a significant China dimension. The nuclear relationship between India and Pakistan is historically, conceptually, politically, strategically and operationally deeply intertwined with China. While Pakistan’s nuclear policy is India-specific, the primary external driver of India’s policy has always been China.

……….the race to attain a continuous at-sea deterrence capability through nuclear-armed submarines is potentially destabilising in Asia because the regional powers lack well-developed operational concepts, robust and redundant command-and-control systems, and secure communications over submarines at sea……… https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/indias-submarine-rivalry-with-china-in-the-second-nuclear-age/

February 16, 2019 Posted by | China, India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is nuclear power REALLY a clean-power fix for Africa – as Russia and China push it

Russia, China back nuclear as a clean-power fix for Africa

Money Web , Sebastien Malo, Thomson Reuters Foundation  /  10 February 2019  “…….For now, South Africa is the only country on the continent operating a nuclear power plant.

But in recent years, at least seven other sub-Saharan African states have signed agreements to deploy nuclear power with backing from Russia, according to public announcements and the World Nuclear Association (WNA), an industry body………

Like Ethiopia, emerging nuclear states Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia and Ghana have signed agreements with Russia’s state nuclear corporation, ROSATOM – most since 2016.

Their content ranges from language on the construction of nuclear reactors to assistance with feasibility studies and personnel training, press statements show.

ROSATOM’s solutions for managing spent fuel and radioactive waste vary from country to country, but are normally worked out at the later stages of a nuclear new-build programme “in the strictest compliance with international law”, a spokeswoman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Chinese state-owned nuclear firms have also taken the lead in the region, sealing deals with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, WNA data shows.

South African student Masamaki Masanja, 23, won a ROSATOM competition for young people to make videos about Africa’s nuclear potential, and got to visit the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in western Russia in 2017.

“It was mind-blowing,” said the second-year mechanical engineering student, via Skype.

The experience left him with a strong sense that nuclear power should be adapted quickly for Africa’s needs………

Rebel risk

Some political observers, however, are concerned about the prospect of nuclear reactors backed by Russia in some countries with rebel groups and weak government institutions.

An Africa-based Western diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, doubted Russia’s assurances it would collect nuclear waste from projects it helped establish.

“You could end up with very unfortunate situations in parts of Africa … if you have a decaying nuclear power plant overrun by rebels, with waste that’s not going away,” he said.

Multiple requests for an interview with Russia’s ambassador in Ethiopia were declined.

So-called dirty bombs can combine conventional explosives like dynamite with radioactive material such as nuclear waste. ………

It could take 20 years for Ethiopia to build a nuclear power plant, estimated Hong-Jun Ahn, a Korean electrical engineer who advises the Ethiopian government on its nuclear plans.

Yonas Gebru, director of Addis Ababa-based advocacy group Forum for Environment, said green activists could prove another hurdle amid debate over whether nuclear power is “clean” energy.

“It would be good, and it would be wise also … to better capitalise on already started initiatives such as hydropower, wind energy (and) solar energy,” said Gebru. https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/africa/russia-china-back-nuclear-as-a-clean-power-fix-for-africa/

February 12, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, China, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Despite the severe disadvantages to Uganda, of nuclear power, Uganda’s govt succumbs to China’s nuclear marketing

Uganda to generate nuclear energy amidst safety, environmental concerns, DAVID MAFABI | PML Daily Senior Staff Writer KAMPALA Uganda is in the final stages of efforts to start generating some 2000 megawatts of electricity from five nuclear plants it plans to build in five districts scattered in the country’s four geographical regions……..

February 11, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, China, marketing | Leave a comment

China urges dialogue, as Russia and USA ramp up nuclear weaponry, pull out of weapons treaty

Russia withdraws from Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with US  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-02/russia-withdraws-from-cold-war-era-nuclear-weapons-treaty/10774536 Russia has suspended a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty, President Vladimir Putin said, after the United States accused Moscow of violations and said it would withdraw from the arms control pact.

Key points:

  • Russia will start work on new missiles, including hypersonic ones
  • US and Russia both allege the other has violated the INF treaty
  • China urges dialogue amid fears of nuclear arms race

The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty prevents the two superpowers from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

The United States announced it will withdraw from the INF treaty in six months unless Moscow ends what it says are violations of the pact, but Russia denied violating the treaty.

“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Mr Putin said during a televised meeting with foreign and defence ministers.

Mr Putin said Russia will start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic ones, and told ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, accusing the United States of being slow to respond to such moves.

“We have repeatedly, during a number of years, and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue,” Mr Putin said.

“We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives.”

The US alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the important pact, signed by former leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Russia said the missile’s range put it outside the treaty, and accused the US of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty it wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles.

Russia also rejected the demand to destroy the new missile.

During the meeting with Mr Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the US of violating the INF and other arms deals, including the non-proliferation treaty.

Mr Putin said Russia would not deploy its weapons in Europe and other regions unless the US did so.

Fears of new arms race

The row over the INF treaty is yet another twist in Russia’s worsening relations with the United States and the West, with tensions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine as well as allegations of it meddling with the presidential election in the US and being behind a nerve agent attack in Britain.

The treaty’s suspension has drawn a strong reaction from Europe and China.

European nations fear the treaty’s collapse could lead to a new arms race with possibly a new generation of US nuclear missiles stationed on the continent.

In a statement, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the bilateral treaty was important to maintain “global strategic balance and stability”.

“China is opposed to US withdrawal action and urges the United States and Russia to handle their differences properly through constructive dialogue,” the statement said, warning that unilateral withdrawal could trigger “negative consequences”.

February 4, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How US and China’s African nuclear mission could provide model for disarming North KoreaSC

MP,  Lee Jeong-ho, 20 Jan 19, 

  • The recent joint operation to remove uranium from Nigeria could provide a template for denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula
  • Although the two countries have proved they can still work together, the challenges posed by North Korea are likely to prove far more challenging
China and America’s recent joint nuclear non-proliferation mission in West Africa could provide a precedent for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, analysts have said, but warned that the scale and political complexity of the task will be far greater.

This week it emerged that Chinese and American nuclear experts had cooperated on a project to remove highly enriched uranium (HEU) from a reactor in Nigeria to prevent the material falling into the hands of terrorists.

The mission last year, which also involved British and Norwegian experts along with contractors from Russia and the Czech Republic, was completed within a day despite violent clashes in Kaduna province where the reactor was located, according to Defensenews.com.

The logistics and security arrangements needed to fly the material to China were completed within six weeks, showing the capacity of both the US and China to set aside their differences and cooperate when their mutual interests are at stake.

The Nigerian operation was not the first time the two countries had worked together to prevent nuclear proliferation in West Africa; a similar operation to remove HEU to China was carried out in Ghana in 2017.

Because neither China nor America’s interests are served by a nuclear-armed North Korea, similar work could be carried out in the future should talks on denuclearisation come to fruition.

Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the James Martin centre for non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “It is conceivable in the case of denuclearisation that North Korea’s nuclear weapons or material could be taken to China.

“Given the fact that China already has nuclear weapons, the US could likely accept that although the US would likely then push for their disassembly.”

Bruce Bennett, a senior defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said the two countries would continue to cooperate on dismantling nuclear weapons.

“If instability developed in North Korea, China may well be at greater risk from terrorists or Chinese dissident groups seizing North Korean nuclear weapons and using them against China,” he said……… https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2182564/how-us-and-chinas-african-nuclear-mission-could-provide-model

January 21, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pentagon report on China’s nuclear weapons program, still “significantly below” the U.S.

The Pentagon Believes China Is Likely Developing A Long-Range Nuclear Bomber, Task and Purpose, Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News, January 17, 2019 WASHINGTON — China is likely developing a long-range bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons and a space-based early warning system it could use to more quickly respond to an attack, according to a new report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

The development of the bomber, when combined with China’s land-based nuclear weapons program and a deployed submarine with intercontinental ballistic missile technology, would give Beijing a “triad” of nuclear delivery systems similar to the U.S. and Russia, according to the report published Tuesday.

“China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region,” the report’s author, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, said in the introduction.

The report comes as President Donald Trump’s administration focuses on the potential for “great power” conflict with countries like China and Russia as part of its national defense strategy. It also comes amid heightened trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, and continuing disputes about China’s posture in the South China Sea.

……… The DIA assessment released Tuesday underscores that China maintains a “no first-use” nuclear policy but adds that there is “some ambiguity, however, over the conditions under which China’s NFU policy would apply.”

Despite a slew of disputes over Taiwan, the South China Sea and global trade, the review also says there is no indication in Chinese military strategic documents that Beijing views war with the U.S. as looming.

Moreover, while China’s defense spending climbed an average of 10 percent per year from 2000 to 2016, total spending remains “significantly below” the U.S., the report said. Spending was about 1.3 percent of gross domestic product from 2014-2018, compared to more than 3 percent of GDP for the U.S. over the same period.

China is trying to strike a balance between expanding its capabilities and reach without “alarming the international community about China’s rise or provoking the United States, its allies and partners, or others in the Asia-Pacific region into military conflict or an anti-China coalition,” the report adds.

Underlying China’s concerns are its view that the U.S.-led security architecture in Asia seeks to constrain its rise and interfere with its sovereignty, particularly in a Taiwan conflict scenario and in the East and South China Seas, said DIA.

The DIA’s observations will likely be used by proponents of the Pentagon’s drive to modernize the U.S. aging nuclear weapons infrastructure over 30 years, an effort that, when operations and support costs are included, could total about $1 trillion………. https://taskandpurpose.com/the-pentagon-believes-china-is-likely-developing-a-long-range-nuclear-bomber

January 19, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Concerns about safety of China’s planned 46 nuclear reactors within a radius of about 100 km from Hong Kong and Macau.

China’s Guangdong to have 26 nuclear reactors, Indigenous Hualong reactors to be built at new megaplant in Huizhou,  JANUARY 17, 2019  China’s southern Guangdong province is on a spree constructing nuclear power plants, with the latest addition to the province’s nuclear plant cluster in the city of Huizhou, 90 kilometers northeast of Hong Kong…..

The 120 billion yuan (US$17.74 billion) megaproject, to be run by the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), will bring the total number of nuclear reactors in Guangdong, a manufacturing powerhouse and China’s largest provincial economy, to 26.

CGN’s ultimate plan is to boost that number to 46, spanning 11 plants, to power Guangdong’s booming economy, whose gross domestic product in 2018 is tipped to hit the 10-trillion-yuan mark and surpass South Korea and Canada.

The new reactors in Huizhou, already given the go-ahead by China’s environmental watchdog, will be built around China’s indigenous, third generation Hualong (China Dragon) pressurized water nuclear reactor ……..

The first Hualong reactor went live in Fujian province in 2017.

Still, concerns are being raised about the safety of so many nuclear plants, including Daya Bay, Ling’ao, Taishan, Lufeng, Yangjiang and Huizhou, within a radius of about 100 km from Hong Kong and Macau.

Guangdong’s aggressive plans to harness nuclear energy have long stoked fears about safe operations and the disposal of spent fuel rods.

CGN has sought to allay misgivings by promising more transparent consultation, reactor management and notification of incidents, but the company has given scant information about the Huizhou plant, the built-in safety infrastructure and contingency plans.

The company told Xinhua that the National Nuclear Safety Administration would conduct a further assessment of the plant’s design and safety facilities and decide the start of its construction. http://www.atimes.com/article/chinas-guangdong-to-have-26-nuclear-reactors/

January 19, 2019 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

USA-China co-operation in removing nuclear material from Nigeria

How the US and China collaborated to get nuclear material out of Nigeria — and away from terrorist groups, Defense News, By: Aaron Mehta, 14 Jan 19,    “……… Moving the nuclear material out of Nigeria has been a long-sought goal for the United States and nonproliferation advocates. But the goal has taken on increased importance in recent years with the rise of militant groups in the region, particularly Boko Haram, a group the Pentagon calls a major terrorist concern in the region.

Underscoring the importance of the operation: the key role China played in transporting and storing the plutonium, with the operation happening just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump made an explicit threat to China about growing America’s nuclear arsenal.
………….Material that is attractive to terrorists’

It was the mid-1990s when Nigeria, with technical support and backing from China, began work on what would become Nigerian Research Reactor 1, located at Ahmadu Bello University in Kaduna. The location opened in 2004, and is home to roughly 170 Nigerian workers.

NIRR-1 is classified as a miniature neutron source reactor, designed for “scientific research, neutron activation analysis, education and training,” per the International Atomic Energy Agency. Essentially, the reactor powers scientific experiments, not the local grid.

The design, however, used highly enriched uranium, or HEU, a type of nuclear substance often referred to by the general public as weapons-grade uranium. This kind of uranium forms the core of any nuclear weapons material, and the Nigerian material was more than 90 percent enriched, making it particularly attractive for anyone looking to use it.

Since NIRR-1 went online, however, improvements in technology meant that experiments involving highly enriched uranium could now be run with a lesser substance. Across the globe, the IAEA and its partners have worked to swap out weapons-grade material with lightly enriched uranium, or LEU, which is enriched at less than 20 percent, and hence unusable for weapons. In all, 33 countries have now become free of HEU, including 11 countries in Africa.

With just over 1 kilogram of HEU, the Nigerian material, if stolen, would not be nearly enough to create a full nuclear warhead. However, a terrorist group would be able to create a dirty bombwith the substance or add the material into a stockpile gathered elsewhere to get close to the amount needed for a large explosion.

In a statement released by the IAEA, Yusuf Aminu Ahmed, director of the Nigerian Centre for Energy Research and Training, was blunt about his concerns over keeping the weapons-grade material in his country. “We don’t want any material that is attractive to terrorists,” he said.
And the nature of these types of reactors, used primarily for research, means they are ideal targets for terrorist groups looking for nuclear material, said Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear expert who served as senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the U.S. National Security Council from 2014 to 2017.

They’re small reactors, they’re not power reactors where the fuel is so radioactive it kills you,” he said. “This is very attractive to a proliferation point of view, and they are research reactors, so they are often at universities without high security.”

All of which gave the governments involved incentive to get the material out of Nigeria sooner rather than later, and which led to the group of experts sitting in Ghana, waiting for a call………..

Replacing HEU with LEU in research reactors naturally requires caution, as anything nuclear-related comes with risks. But the Nigerian mission was particularly difficult because of security concerns, Hanlon said. He noted that Boko Haram, while not in the Kaduna region, has been operating in Nigeria for quite some time.

“We had concerns about the security on the ground, in the region. Working very closely with the U.S. embassy, there were additional security requirements put upon us and limitations for us on having people on the ground at the facility itself,” Hanlon said.
……………While the technicians were able to leave the country once their daylong mission was complete, security on site remained thick for the next five weeks as administrators worked the logistics and clearances needed to fly nuclear material over other nations’ airspace. Asked about the security level during this down period, Dov Schwartz, an NNSA spokesman, said that “extensive planning went into ensuring the removed highly enriched uranium was safe and secure prior to transport.”

“All of our partners understood that operational security was paramount,” Schwartz said. “The world is a safer place today as a result of the determined work to remove this weapons useable Uranium from Nigeria.”

Finally, on Dec. 4, the HEU was escorted by the Nigerian military toward the An-124, loaded onto the aircraft and sent on its way to its final destination.  The material was heading for China.

China’s role

The removal operation cost roughly $5.5 million, with the United States contributing $4.3 million. The United Kingdom ($900,000) and Norway ($290,000) also chipped in. But while it didn’t contribute money, China’s role in the operation was outsized — and occurred as the war of words from the Trump administration toward Beijing was reaching a fever pitch, one that did not die down in the weeks to come.

As the October operation was just hours from starting, U.S. President Donald Trump took to the press to discuss nuclear material and China.

“Until people come to their senses, we will build [the nuclear arsenal] up,” Trump told reporters just hours before the Nigeria operation was to begin. “It’s a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can’t do that. You can’t play that game on me.”

By the time the Antonov plane — carrying the HEU, along with American inspectors and security — arrived at Shijiazhuang airport in China on Dec. 6, the arrest of a Chinese technology executive in Canada had inflamed fears of a trade conflict between the two countries.

Once the material landed in China, local officials took possession of the uranium, marking the end of the Nigerian mission — but not necessarily the end of the material……..
That the United States and China were able to ignore politics to get the HEU removal done shouldn’t be a surprise, Wolfsthal said. Traditionally, countries that supply uranium to partners around the world take that material back if needed.

“Even though the national level conversation is really poor because of trade and other issues, the technical collaboration between laboratories, between nuclear engineers, that’s generally gone pretty well,” he said. He added that China has invested heavily in LEU over the last decade, and therefore also has an interest in encouraging others to switch to that technology.

Whether that cooperation continues if relations between the two nations continue to deteriorate will be a true test going forward……… https://www.defensenews.com/news/pentagon-congress/2019/01/14/how-the-us-and-china-collaborated-to-get-nuclear-material-out-of-nigeria-and-away-from-terrorist-groups/

January 15, 2019 Posted by | China, Nigeria, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

China reportedly tests powerful non-nuclear weapon

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/world/china-reportedly-tests-powerful-nonnuclear-weapon/video/65a3ed7ab4203f574d820f7a2d8dac23  8 Jan 19

China has tested one of the most powerful non-nuclear weapons in existence, according to state media. Video released by the Xinhua news agency shows the testing of the massive bomb, dubbed the Chinese ‘Mother of All Bombs’.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chinese state media boasts nuclear weapons escalation, in response to Trump

Signaling a harder edge for 2019, China threatens US carriers, an invasion of Taiwan, and nuclear war, Washington Examiner by Tom Rogan January 03, 2019,  In a highly aggressive editorial on Thursday, Chinese state media taunted the U.S. with nuclear weapons, threatened U.S. aircraft carriers, and called for preparations to invade Taiwan. The editorial reflects growing Chinese nationalist fury in the face of Trump administration pressure.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s done one good thing – stopped the Bill Gates- China “new nuclear power” push

Bill Gates shelves nuclear reactor in China, citing U.S. policy, Axios, Dec 30

TerraPower, a nuclear-energy company founded by Bill Gates, is unlikely to follow through on building a demonstration reactor in China, due largely to the Trump administration’s crackdown on the country.

Why it matters: This is a blow to America’s attempts to commercialize advanced, smaller scale nuclear technology and, separately, further evidence of soured relations between the U.S. and China under President Trump.

Driving the news: In a year-end blog post covering various topics published Saturday night, Gates said of TerraPower: “We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely.”

Details: The Trump administration, led by the Energy Department, announced in October that it was implementing measures to “prevent China’s illegal diversion of U.S. civil nuclear technology for military or other unauthorized purposes.”

  • Those measures have made it nearly impossible for TerraPower’s project to go forward, according to multiple people familiar with the development.
  • TerraPower had pursued plans to build a pilot reactor in China because that country has two things America doesn’t — growing electricity demand and a long-term strategic energy plan — a top TerraPower executive told me last year.
  • Morning Consult and, separately, an analyst for the think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, covered the impacts of the October policy change shortly after it occurred, with brief mentions of the likely negative impact on TerraPower………

What’s next: “We may be able to build it [the reactor] in the United States if the funding and regulatory changes that I mentioned earlier happen,” Gates said in his post, although he didn’t specify which funding or regulations.

Meanwhile, the Energy Department just announced it plans to buy some of the power from new advanced reactors being pursued by NuScale, another advanced nuclear company, for here in the United States. https://www.axios.com/bill-gates-nuclear-reactor-china-terrapower-be4c792c-6f76-4723-bf63-d8f9fb527dc1.html

 

January 1, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics, USA | 2 Comments