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China is Willing to Negotiate on Nuclear Arms, But Not on Trump’s Terms

China is Willing to Negotiate on Nuclear Arms, But Not on Trump’s Terms, Defense One, BY GREGORY KULACKI, 30 Mar 20

 President Trump announced to the world in a March 5 tweet that he would propose “a bold new trilateral arms control initiative with China and Russia.” China immediately rejected the idea the very next day. It would be wrong, however, to infer that Chinese leaders are opposed to nuclear arms control. They are not. They are just not interested in what Trump appears to be offering.

There are good reasons for China to suspect Trump’s motives. He used China as a scapegoat when withdrawing from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, for example, and he may be using this vague new  initiative to justify allowing the New START Treaty to expire. China was not a party to either agreement. Walking away from treaties with Russia and blaming China for it is unlikely to encourage Chinese leaders to come to the negotiating table.

Trump premised his announcement of this new initiative with a questionable claim that China will “double the size of its nuclear stockpile” before the end of the decade. That sounds ominous, but in fact China has only about 300 warheads and barely enough plutonium to get to 600. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia each possess more than 6,000 warheads. Any new agreement based on parity among the three states would require steep U.S. and Russian cuts even if China did indeed double its arsenal.

China certainly would welcome major U.S. and Russian reductions. But there is no sign either nation is willing to make them. On the contrary, Trump and President Putin have announced ambitious nuclear modernization programs that dwarf China’s. Since neither of the two countries are planning to reduce their arsenals, it is difficult for Chinese leaders to understand what Trump wants to discuss. Neither the president nor his aides have provided a tentative agenda or cited desired outcomes.

Despite Trump’s apparent failure to engage China, if he or his successor wants to bring China to the negotiating table, there is a path to follow. Below are four steps the United States can take to convince Chinese leaders to negotiate on nuclear arms.

Step 1. Pursue International, not Multilateral, Negotiations

There is a marked difference between international and multilateral negotiations, and it matters to China……..

Step 2. Accept Mutual Vulnerability

Accepting mutual vulnerability sounds defeatist. But all it means is that no one can win a nuclear arms race. The United States cannot prevent China from being able to retaliate and deliver some number of nuclear weapons if the United States should ever choose to use nuclear weapons first during a war……

Step 3. Take No-First-Use Seriously

China is serious about not using its nuclear weapons first in an armed conflict. In a statement after its first nuclear test in 1964, the Chinese government declared it will “never at any time and under any circumstances be the first to use nuclear weapons.”…

Step 4. Discuss Limits on Missile Defense

When the United States and the Soviet Union finally realized that no one could win a nuclear arms race, they decided to talk. Negotiators quickly discovered that limiting offense was impossible without limiting defense as well, since an effective way to counter defenses is to build more offensive weapons…..https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/03/china-willing-negotiate-nuclear-arms-not-trumps-terms/164204/

 

March 31, 2020 Posted by | India, politics international | Leave a comment

Westinghouse nuclear reactors – a very poor deal for India

  Pushing the wrong energy buttons,  https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/pushing-the-wrong-energy-buttons/article30965454.ece?fbclid=IwAR1ymOL6TLlSxlUKkVVSL6_ukPPeiSzDlI_JM-He3CMG2qBD4HaBU0vezog, M.V. Ramana,   Suvrat Raju, MARCH 03, 2020 

The idea of India importing nuclear reactors is a zombie one with serious concerns about their cost and safety

For more than a decade, no major meeting between an Indian Prime Minister and a U.S. President has passed without a ritual reference to India’s promise made in 2008 to purchase American nuclear reactors. This was the case in the latest joint statement issued during U.S. President Donald Trump’s first official two-day visit to India (February 24-25), which stated that “Prime Minister Modi and President Trump encouraged the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse Electric Company to finalize the techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors in India at the earliest date”.

Red flags in the U.S. deal

Because of serious concerns about cost and safety, the two organisations should have been told to abandon, not finalise, the proposal.

Indeed, it has been clear for years that electricity from American reactors would be more expensive than competing sources of energy. Moreover, nuclear reactors can undergo serious accidents, as shown by the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Westinghouse has insisted on a prior assurance that India would not hold it responsible for the consequences of a nuclear disaster, which is effectively an admission that it is unable to guarantee the safety of its reactors.

The main beneficiaries from India’s import of reactors would be Westinghouse and India’s atomic energy establishment that is struggling to retain its relevance given the rapid growth of renewables. But Mr. Trump has reasons to press for the sale too. His re-election campaign for the U.S. presidential election in November, centrally involves the revival of U.S. manufacturing and he has been lobbied by several nuclear reactor vendors, including Westinghouse, reportedly to “highlight the role U.S. nuclear developers can play in providing power to other countries”. Finally, he also has a conflict-of-interest, thanks to his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, who accompanied him during the India visit.

In 2018, the Kushner family’s real-estate business was bailed out by a Canadian company that invested at least $1.1-billion in a highly unprofitable building in New York. Earlier that year, Brookfield Business Partners, a subsidiary of that Canadian company, acquired Westinghouse Electric Company. It violates all norms of propriety for Mr. Kushner to be anywhere near a multi-billion dollar sale that would profit Brookfield enormously.

What renewables can offer

Analysts estimate that each of the two AP1000 units being constructed in the U.S. state of Georgia may cost about $13.8 billion. At these rates, the six reactors being offered to India by Westinghouse would cost almost ₹6 lakh crore. If India purchases these reactors, the economic burden will fall upon consumers and taxpayers. In 2013, we estimated that even after reducing these prices by 30%, to account for lower construction costs in India, the first year tariff for electricity would be about ₹25 per unit. On the other hand, recent solar energy bids in India are around ₹3 per unit. Lazard, the Wall Street firm, estimates that wind and solar energy costs have declined by around 70% to 90% in just the last 10 years and may decline further in the future.

How safe?

Nuclear power can also impose long-term costs. Large areas continue to be contaminated with radioactive materials from the 1986 Chernobyl accident and thousands of square kilometres remain closed off for human inhabitation. Nearly a decade after the 2011 disaster, the Fukushima prefecture retains radioactive hotspots and the cost of clean-up has been variously estimated to range from $200-billion to over $600-billion.

The Fukushima accident was partly caused by weaknesses in the General Electric company’s Mark I nuclear reactor design. But that company paid nothing towards clean-up costs, or as compensation to the victims, due to an indemnity clause in Japanese law. Westinghouse wants a similar arrangement with India. Although the Indian liability law is heavily skewed towards manufacturers, it still does not completely indemnify them. So nuclear vendors have tried to chip away at the law. Instead of resisting foreign suppliers, the Indian government has tacitly supported this process.

Starting with the Tarapur 1 and 2 reactors, in Maharashtra, India’s experiences with imported reactors have been poor. The Kudankulam 1 and 2 reactors, in Tamil Nadu, the only ones to have been imported and commissioned in the last decade, have been repeatedly shut down. In 2018-19, these reactors produced just 32% and 38%, respectively, of the electricity they were designed to produce. These difficulties are illustrative of the dismal history of India’s nuclear establishment. In spite of its tall claims, the fraction of electricity generated by nuclear power in India has remained stagnant at about 3% for decades.

The idea of importing nuclear reactors is a “zombie idea” that, from a rational viewpoint, should have been dead long ago. In fact an earlier plan to install AP1000s in Mithi Virdi, Gujarat was cancelled because of strong local opposition. In 2018, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani declared that the reactors “will never come up” in Gujarat. The Prime Minister should take a cue from his own State and make a similar announcement for the rest of the country.

March 7, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, ENERGY, India, Legal, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

India retains its nuclear weapons no-first-use policy

No change in India’s nuclear doctrine: MEA, PTI NEW DELHI, MARCH 04, 2020 “There has been no change in India’s nuclear doctrine,” Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan said in the Lok Sabha   https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-change-in-indias-nuclear-doctrine-mea/article30981553.ece

There has been no change in India’s nuclear doctrine, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on March 4.

Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan said India is committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence and the policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons.

There has been no change in India’s nuclear doctrine,” he said.

India has a declared nuclear no-first-use policy under which a country cannot use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by nuclear weapons.

March 5, 2020 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA desperately pushing the fantasy of Small Nuclear Reactors to India

March 2, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s toxic nuclear sales pitch to India- undermining India’s nuclear liability law

March 2, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

Communist Party of India (CPI (M) oppose purchase of U.S nuclear, with Jared Kushner’s vested interest

February 25, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Trump to visit India as salesman for Westinghouse nuclear reactors

February 22, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Large U.S. nuclear delegation to India to con Indians into buying Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

February 20, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

Why India is not defined as a “Nuclear Power”, though it has nuclear bombs

India Has Nuclear Bombs—But It’s Not Defined As a ‘Nuclear Power’ National Interest, Here’s why. by Ramesh Thakur-19 Feb 20  Among the big changes in the global strategic landscape since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came into force in 1970 is the expansion of the nuclear club from five to nine. All five nuclear powers at that time were recognised as nuclear-weapon states by the NPT. Since then, four more countries have gate-crashed the Here’s why.

Among the big changes in the global strategic landscape since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came into force in 1970 is the expansion of the nuclear club from five to nine. All five nuclear powers at that time were recognised as nuclear-weapon states by the NPT. Since then, four more countries have gate-crashed the  exclusive nuclear club: Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

The first three have been de facto nuclear-armed states for decades, and North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. But because of an Alice-in-Wonderland definition in the treaty—nuclear-weapon states are countries that nuclear-tested before 1 January 1967—they can’t be recognised as nuclear-weapon states. The legal straitjacket means the NPT can’t function as the normative framework for the nuclear policies of four of the world’s nine nuclear-armed states: a triumph of definitional purity over strategic reality. …….. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/india-has-nuclear-bombs%E2%80%94-its-not-defined-nuclear-power-124721

February 20, 2020 Posted by | India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India’s problematic nuclear security

Mapping the Negative Indian Nuclear Security, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/02/14/mapping-the-negative-indian-nuclear-security/  By Rabia Javed, 14 Feb 20, Nuclear security has been a key issue for South Asia for several decades since India conducted its nuclear tests in 1974. Indian struggle to attain the maximum number of weapons is still underway since New Delhi conducted its so called peaceful nuclear test.  While living with the kind of achieving the maximum numbers of nuclear weapons by India, the Indian struggle to achieve the maximum is moving steadily forward without great exertion but with abundant support.That is unfortunate.

Overall, the issue mainly revolves around the dangerous bargain that India had with the United States (U.S.) under the civil nuclear cooperation. Countries with major powers has up till now bend the rules for making India’s nuclear program to maintain the cooperation U.S. had with India in nuclear trade. Supporting India was also done with the aim of countering China’s emergence as a super power and controlling its influence. These steps taken in support of India have encouraged New Delhi more in expanding her nuclear weapons program that is already expanding at a higher rate.

By and large, India has on various accounts progressed below par in a comprehensive international reportage, such as the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Nuclear Security Index. There have been other many reports that have shown that India’s nuclear security is quite under the negative flex. Ignoring these reports, it still is continuing to expand her nuclear forces.

Traditionally, the growing and bulging danger of insider threats also highlights the importance of personnel reliability programs (PRPs).Interestingly such issues exist in Indian facilities at larger scale.

While turning down pages from the past one can found that, CISF man kills 3 colleagues at Kalpakkam atomic plant.  The incident occurred was though a fresh example which must have considered as India’s serious shortcomings in securing its nuclear facilities. Where later estimates given by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that an estimate of around 110 nuclear bombs are stored in such or same facilities which are being guard by these security forces.

With large number of such incidents that started happening or being covered by mainstream media starting from 1993, there exists another important instance that happened in 2008.

A criminal gang was found in smuggling low grade uranium which can be used in a radiation dispersal device, from India to Nepal. However, in the same year another gang was caught in smuggling such materials that have close connections with an employee at India’s Atomic Minerals Division. Similar lapses had occurred in 2018 where, a uranium smuggling racket was busted by the Kolkata police with one kilogramme of radioactive material which has a market value of INR 30 million ($440,000). All of aforementioned factors highlight the security measure India has up till now in securing its facilities that cannot be ignored.

India is operating a plutonium production reactor, Dhruva, and a uranium enrichment facility that are not subject to IAEA safeguards. India’s build-up of South Asia’s largest military complex of nuclear centrifuges and atomic-research laboratories is somehow threatening efforts related to nuclear security and safety. These facilities will ultimately give India the ability to make more large-yield nuclear arms & hydrogen bombs. The international task force on the prevention of nuclear terrorism is of the view that the possibility of nuclear terrorism is increasing keeping in mind the rapid nuclear development by India. Whereas, U.S. officials and experts are of the view that India’s nuclear explosive materials are vulnerable to theft.

Amusingly, in India, nuclear facilities are guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and CISF guard admitted that security at the installations needs more enhancements. Mysterious deaths of Indian nuclear scientists is a matter of concern as some were reported suicide and some were murdered. The possibility of nuclear secrecy gets out in the hands of terrorists cannot be ignored.

Such risks stemmed in part from India’s culture of widespread corruption. India has refused and rebuffed repeated offers of U.S. help in countering such issue and alignments. The U.S. president’s coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction from 2009 to 2013, Gary Samore, stated that:

We kept offering to create a joint security project [with India] consisting of assistance of any and every kind. And every time they would say, to my face, that this was a wonderful idea and they should grasp the opportunity. And then, when they returned to India, we would never hear about it again.”

India has a dangerous history of unsafeguarded sensitive facilities, where exist larger insider threats of nuclear bomb being stolen by insiders with grievances, ill motives, or in the worst case, connections to terrorists.

At the bottom of this entire debate is a disturbing fact concerning how a country can be trusted with uranium and nuclear deals with over dozens of countries ignoring its security issues related to nuclear safety. What might change India’s calculation that more deals and weapons would not equates to more security? The safest route to reduce nuclear dangers on the subcontinent is through concerted efforts to improve relations. A nuclear arsenal built by proliferation, as India did in 1974, is inherently unstable.

 

February 15, 2020 Posted by | India, safety | Leave a comment

Delhi’s disaster – disappearing water supplies

February 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change, India | Leave a comment

India joins the panic to sell costly, impractical, nuclear power to Africa and Middle East

January 27, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing | Leave a comment

India – a case study in regulatory capture by the nuclear industry

In a Season of Impetuous Lawmaking, whither Nuclear Safety? The Leaflet SONALI HURIA, January 22,2020
In this piece, the author while discussing the issues around nuclear safety, debates on why it is important to re-examine the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill for better regulation, transparency, and liability. SINCE returning to power last year with an overwhelming majority in the 2019 general elections, the Modi-led government has passed a series of legislations in rapid succession without any credible dialogue both within and outside Parliament – …………even as there has been exceptional eagerness to push these amendments and pass new legislation, including notifying the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 despite intense country-wide protests and a raging debate on its underlying intent, there are urgent issues, such as, nuclear safety, which remain in indefinite suspension.

The UPA-II government, under Dr Manmohan Singh, had introduced the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill in the Lok Sabha on 07 September 2011, aimed at replacing India’s existing nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) with a purportedly improved and more autonomous Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) which would have the mandate to ‘regulate nuclear safety and activities related to nuclear material and facilities’.

The Bill, however, which had been referred to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, did not come up for discussion before the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, and subsequently, lapsed. The Standing Committee had reportedly endorsed the Bill with only minor suggestions for changes, while two members of the Committee from the CPI(M), gave dissent notes, arguing that the Bill provided ‘no substantive autonomy’ to the proposed NSRA. According to available information, in April 2017, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha had stated that a ‘fresh Bill’ similar to the earlier NSRA Bill, was ‘under examination’……….India’s nuclear regulatory framework has long been criticized for being so thoroughly enmeshed within the government structure so as to render its requisite independence, practically meaningless. Nuclear safety in India has been the remit of the AERB, which was set up in November of 1983 by an executive order of the Secretary of the DAE under Section 27 of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, with modifications made in April 2000 to “exclude all BARC facilities from (its) oversight, (following) the declaration of BARC as a nuclear weapons laboratory”.

The AERB has had the dishonourable reputation of being subservient to India’s exclusively public sector operators, which it is required to monitor, and is also acknowledged as suffering from an acute lack of independence from industry and government.

As things stand, the AERB is responsible for monitoring the safety of the various nuclear facilities operated by agencies such as, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), which fall under the purview of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). However, the Board is required to report to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), whose chairman is the Secretary of the DAE and one of whose members is the Chair of the NPCIL, and which overall, comes under the direct control of the Prime Minister of India. Thus, the regulatory board reports to the very agency it is required to assess and monitor in the interest of public safety.   

 Moreover, the AERB frequently draws upon the ‘expertise’ of scientists and engineers provided by the DAE – “almost 95% of the members in AERB’s review and advisory committees are drawn from among retired employees of the DAE, either from one of their research institutes like the Bhabha Atomic Research Center or a power generation company like the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.” –  thus, calling into question the AERB’s functional autonomy.

Dr A Gopalakrishnan, the former Chairman of the AERB has been at pains to explain how the present institutional setup makes nuclear safety regulation in India a ‘mere sham’ and that for the AERB to function effectively, the DAE’s hold on the Board needs to be urgently done away with. In 1995, during Dr Gopalakrishnan’s tenure as the nuclear regulator, the AERB had prepared a comprehensive ‘Document on Safety Issues in DAE Installations’ – a report detailing nearly 130 safety issues across India’s nuclear installations with 95 of them having been designated ‘top priority’, to which the first reactions from the NPCIL and BARC according to Dr Gopalakrishnan, were of denial and questioning AERB’s own technical expertise to review safety matters.

A 2012 Performance Audit Report on the AERB prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and submitted to the Indian Parliament labelled the AERB a ‘subordinate office, exercising delegated functions of Central government and not that of the regulator’.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) scrutinizing the CAG report in 2013 castigated the Regulatory Board for failing to prepare a ‘comprehensive nuclear radiation safety policy despite a specific mandate in its constitution order of 1983’. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Peer Review of India’s Nuclear Regulatory Framework in 2015 was also categorical in asserting that the AERB was in need of being separated from ‘other entities having responsibilities or interests that could unduly influence its decision making’.

As has been pointed out by MV Ramana, physicist and author of The Power of Promise, there have been accidents of ‘varying severity’ at several of the nuclear facilities being operated by the DAE, yet the regulatory board has frequently been seen downplaying the seriousness of such incidents, “postponing essential repairs to suit the DAE’s time schedules, and allowing continued operation of installations when public safety considerations would warrant their immediate shutdown and repair”. The charade of the AERB’s professed independence is further underscored by its conspicuous silence on the recent cybersecurity breach at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu in October 2019.

It is these glaring frailties of the nuclear regulatory framework coupled with the obdurate insistence of the Central government to massively expand its activities along the entire nuclear fuel cycle, despite unsettled safety concerns, a long-standing and vociferous people’s resistance against uranium mining and nuclear energy projects, and concerns surrounding the health, environmental, economic, and democratic costs of this expansion, that make imperative, the need for a fiercely independent and non-partisan nuclear regulator.

Does the proposed NSRA fit the bill?

The NSRA Bill, 2011 upon its introduction, had failed to invoke any enthusiasm among independent experts, nuclear sector watchers, and civil society actors, and instead, was met with grim scepticism given that among other things, it made light of the principle of ‘separation’ as required under Article 8 of the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety to which India is a State Party.

The NSRA Bill provides for the establishment of a ‘Council of Nuclear Safety’, headed by the Prime Minister and comprised of five or more Union Ministers, the Cabinet Secretary, Chairman of the AEC, and other ‘eminent experts’ nominated by the Central government, which in turn, will constitute ‘search committees’ to select the Chair and Members of the proposed Regulatory Authority. Moreover, under Article 14 of the Bill, the Chairperson and Members of the NSRA can be removed by an order of the Central government.

Dr Gopalakrishnan argues that the Bill makes only an ornamental show of granting independence to the NSRA by requiring the Authority to report to the Parliament instead of a government department, ministry or official. Concomitantly, however, the Bill also unambiguously provides for the supersession of and the assumption of ‘all the powers, functions and duties’ of the Authority by the Central Government, if in its ‘opinion’ the Authority fails to function in concert with the provisions of the proposed Act, and, requires the Authority to seek approval of the central government prior to initiating any interaction with nuclear regulators of other countries and/or international organizations ‘engaged in activities relevant to…nuclear/radiation safety, physical security of nuclear material and facilities, transportation of nuclear and radioactive materials and nuclear and radiation safety and regulation’.

Article 20 (q) of the Bill mandates the NSRA to ‘discharge its functions and powers in a manner consistent with the international obligations of India’. This provision, argues Dr Gopalakrishnan is deeply worrisome for it “could mean, that if the Prime Minister has promised the French President in 2008 that India would buy six European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs)…(this) unilateral and personal commitment…will now (be) labelled ‘India’s international obligation’, and the NSRA cannot question, even on strong safety grounds, the setting up of those six EPR units, since that will violate the said clause of the Bill” – this might prove disastrous for both, public and environmental safety in the long term.

Experts argue that far from separating the regulator from the government, these provisions contained in the NSRA Bill will only mean absolute government control over nuclear regulation, including over appointment and dismissal procedures, thus, opening the way for ‘pliant technocrats’ to occupy prominent positions within the Authority.

The proposed Bill is also fuzzy on the question of which nuclear facilities will fall under the purview of the NSRA – it empowers, for instance, the central government to exempt “any nuclear material, radioactive material, facilities, premises and activities” from the jurisdiction of the Authority, on grounds of ‘national defence and security’. ……….

These and other provisions of the Bill are a stark reminder that the DAE has no love lost for transparency and public oversight – take, for instance, Article 45 which requires the Chairperson, Members, and other employees of the Authority to sign a ‘declaration of fidelity and secrecy’ “to not communicate or allow to be communicated to any person not legally entitled to any information relating to the affairs of the Authority”. It is for these reasons that the former nuclear regulator, Dr Gopalakrishnan has described the proposed NSRA Bill as an exercise in ‘boxing in’ nuclear regulation “from all sides by government controls, diktats, and threats of retaliation”, thus making it even more emaciated than the existing nuclear regulator – the AERB. …..https://theleaflet.in/in-a-season-of-impetuous-lawmaking-whither-nuclear-safety/

 

January 23, 2020 Posted by | India, politics, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

For the 29th consecutive year, India and Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear facilities

India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-pakistan-exchange-list-of-nuclear-installations/articleshow/73056333.cms

The two countries exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan, the External Affairs Ministry said. This was done simultaneously through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad.

NEW DELHI: Continuing a 29-year unbroken practice, India and Pakistan on Wednesday exchanged a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral arrangement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.

The two countries exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan, the External Affairs Ministry said.

This was done simultaneously through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad.

The exchange of the list came amid tense diplomatic ties between the two countries over the Kashmir issue

The pact mandates the two countries to inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on the first of January of every calendar year.
This is the 29th consecutive exchange of the list with the first one taking place on January 1, 1992.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

How India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) got hacked

How a nuclear plant got hacked, Plugging nuclear plants into the internet makes them vulnerable targets for nation-state attack.  By J.M. Porup, Senior Writer, CSO   December  9, 2019  If you think attacking civilian infrastructure is a war crime, you’d be right, but spies from countries around the world are fighting a silent, dirty war to pre-position themselves on civilian infrastructure — like energy-producing civilian nuclear plants — to be able to commit sabotage during a moment of geopolitical tension.

What follows is an explanation of how India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) got hacked — and how it could have been easily avoided.

The KNPP hack The news came to light, as it so often does these days, on Twitter. Pukhraj Singh (@RungRage), a “noted cyber intelligence specialist” who was “instrumental in setting up of the cyber-warfare operations centre of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO),” according to The New Indian Express, tweeted: “So, it’s public now. Domain controller-level access Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The government was notified way back. Extremely mission-critical targets were hit,” noting in a quote tweet that he was aware of the attack as early as September 7, 2019, calling it a “causus belli” (an attack sufficiently grave to provoke a war).

In a later tweet, Singh clarified that he did not discover the malware himself. A third party “contacted me & I notified National Cyber Security Coordinator on Sep 4 (date is crucial). The 3rd party then shared the IoCs with the NCSC’s office over the proceeding days. Kaspersky reported it later, called it DTrack.”

At first the Nuclear Power Plant Corporation of India (NPCI) denied it. In a press release they decried “false information” on social media and insisted the KNPP nuclear power plant is “stand alone and not connected to outside cyber network and internet” and that “any cyber attack on the Nuclear

Power Plant Control System is not possible.”

Then they backtracked. On October 30, the NPCI confirmed that malware was in fact discovered on their systems, and that CERT-India first noticed the attack on September 4, 2019. In their statement, they claimed the infected PC was connected to the administrative network, which they say is “isolated from the critical internal network.”

“Investigation also confirms that the plant systems are not affected,” their statement concludes.

Power Plant Control System is not possible.”

Then they backtracked. On October 30, the NPCI confirmed that malware was in fact discovered on their systems, and that CERT-India first noticed the attack on September 4, 2019. In their statement, they claimed the infected PC was connected to the administrative network, which they say is “isolated from the critical internal network.”

“Investigation also confirms that the plant systems are not affected,” their statement concludes.

A targeted attack

Contrary to some initial reporting, the malware appears to have been targeted specifically at the KNPP facility, according to researchers at CyberBit. Reverse-engineering of the malware sample revealed hard-coded administrator credentials for KNPP’s networks (username: /user:KKNPP\\administrator password: su.controller5kk) as well as RFC 1918 IP addresses (172.22.22.156, 10.2.114.1, 172.22.22.5, 10.2.4.1, 10.38.1.35), which are by definition not internet-routable.

That means it is highly likely the attacker previously broke into KNPP networks, scanned for NAT’ed devices, stole admin credentials, and then incorporated those details into this new malware, a second-stage payload designed for deeper and more thorough reconnaissance of KNPP’s networks.

“This was a very targeted attack on just this plant,” Hod Gavriel, a malware analyst at CyberBit, tells CSO. “Probably this was the second stage of an attack.”

The malware discovered, however, did not include Stuxnet-like functionality to destroy any of KNPP’s systems. “This phase was only for collection of information, it wasn’t sabotageware,” Gavriel says. ….. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3488816/how-a-nuclear-plant-got-hacked.html

December 16, 2019 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment