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Kazakhstan to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference

world-nuclear-weapons-freeAstana to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference http://astanatimes.com/2016/08/astana-to-host-major-nuclear-disarmament-conference/ BY AIMAN text-relevantTUREBEKOVA  24 AUGUST 2016

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital will host the international conference “Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World,” dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and commemorating UN International Day against Nuclear Tests at the Palace of Independence Aug. 29, the Senate of the Parliament announced.

The Kazakh Senate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) have co-organised the conference.

It will be addressed by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and will bring together parliamentarians, representatives of international organisations, civil activists, scholars, mayors and media from around the world.

The event will include a plenary session and four panel sessions: “Security without nuclear weapons or war: Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”; “A nuclear test ban and the role of the UN in achieving nuclear disarmament;” “National prohibition and nuclear-weapons-free zones. Geography of a sustainable world;” “Initiatives and campaigns – legislators, religious leaders and civil society”.

Conference participants will commemorate victims of nuclear tests, consider current disarmament  issues and make proposals on how to strengthen international security.

According to Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the 25th anniversary since the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is a date of global significance.

“President Nursultan Nazarbayev is recognised as a leader of the global antinuclear movement. His decision on the full closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site is the first and the only such case in the disarmament history of the world. The idea of complete nuclear disarmament underpins the Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century.” The anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is the best opportunity for the entire world community to consider the paramount importance of establishing sustainable peace on the planet and to propose new common solutions to security problems,” he said on the eve of the event.

On Dec. 2, 2009, at Kazakhstan’s initiative, the UN unanimously declared Aug. 29 the International Day against Nuclear Tests. “For nearly a decade as UN Secretary-General, I have witnessed many of the worst problems in the world, as well as our collective ability to respond in ways that at times seemed impossible. Our ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have demonstrated the power of political will to break long-standing deadlocks. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on the world to summon a sense of solidarity commensurate with the urgent need to end the dangerous impasse on this issue,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a special message on this year’s International Day against Nuclear Tests.

In his message, made public by the UN shortly prior to the date, Ban Ki-moon said, “Today marks a quarter of a century since the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, ground zero for more than 450 nuclear tests. The victims there are joined by others scattered across Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific.”

He continued, “A prohibition on all nuclear testing will end this poisonous legacy. It will boost momentum for other disarmament measures by showing that multilateral cooperation is possible, and it will build confidence for other regional security measures, including a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. When I visited Semipalatinsk in 2010, I saw the toxic damage – but I also witnessed the resolve of the victims and survivors. I share their determination to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The UN Secretary General went on to urge Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation member states to act now.

“Those states whose ratification is required to bring the treaty into force should not wait for others. Even one ratification can act as a circuit breaker. All states that have not done so should sign and ratify because every ratification strengthens the norm of universality and shines a harsher spotlight on the countries that fail to act,” he said.

Kazakhstan knows well those catastrophic human consequences. The Soviet nuclear weapons tests at the Semipalatinsk site, caused illnesses and premature death to an estimated 1.5 million people and contaminated a huge area.

The Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century,” which was released by Nazarbayev earlier this year, is another contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and to an end to war. The main idea of the manifesto is to prevent war by utilising common security and international law approaches such as diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Kazakhstan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK figuring out how to get out of the Hinkley nuclear power deal

Hinkley planflag-UKHinkley Point nuclear power station: Whitehall officials ‘exploring ways UK could pull out of deal’ Theresa May’s administration called an unexpected halt to the project amid security and viability concerns, Independent Joe Watts Political Editor @JoeWatts_  Thursday 25 August 2016 Whitehall officials reviewing the massive Hinkley Point nuclear project are exploring how the UK might withdraw from the deal while minimising financial risk and damage to international relations, it has been claimed.

Westminster sources told The Independent civil servants are looking to see if there is any loophole, clause or issue in contracts yet to be signed that allow the Government to pull back without huge loss and while also saving face.

Ministers are acutely aware of the potential damage a withdrawal could do to relations with China, which is committed to pouring billions of pounds into the controversial project.

Former Chancellor George Osborne was an enthusiastic supporter of the £18 billion scheme, but since Theresa May’s arrival it is being reviewed by the new administration.  A Whitehall source said: “There is a working assumption of people in government that the civil service is looking for a way out, a legal loophole, a clause.

“They are looking for anything that will allow the Government to withdraw and also allow the Chinese to withdraw while also saving face.”

It was expected last month when the board of French energy company EDF voted to go ahead with Hinkley C power station that the British Government would give its approval.

Instead new Business Secretary Greg Clark announced he needed more time to make a decision.

It followed claims that the price promised for Hinkley’s electricity at £92.50 per MWh, more than double the wholesale price, was too expensive……..

EDF may also have problems fulfilling its end of any agreement. The company’s finance director Thomas Piquemal resigned earlier this year, fearing Hinkley could lead to the firm’s insolvency.
title=”24 August 2016 16:26 London”>A senior Government figure said: “The other thing no-one is talking about is what happens after the French election.

“Hollande is not going to be there and it is not clear whether Sarkozy or Juppe are committed to it.”

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “No contract has been signed and it is only right that a new Government considers all component parts carefully before making a final decision.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/hinkley-point-edf-nuclear-power-station-deal-how-uk-could-pull-out-a7207776.html

August 26, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

UN Security Council warned on danger of nuclear drone terror attacks

drone-near-nuclear-plantBritain warns UN security council it MUST act over threat of nuclear drone terror attacks BRITAIN has warned the UN security council that not enough is being done to prevent chemical, nuclear and biological weapons finding their way into the hands of terrorists. Express, By SIOBHAN MCFADYEN , Aug 25, 2016 And they say evolving terrorist threats include materials created through technological advances including 3D printers and drones. The British Government is worried that border security is not tight enough to prevent the materials from falling into the wrong hands.

And they say that the security council, which is being chaired by Spain, should be able to implement an action plan before the end of the year.

UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Matthew Rycroft spoke to the council this week as fears the UN is not moving fast enough to clamp down on terrorists. Mr Rycroft said: “The threat of toxic, poisonous or nuclear materials falling into the hands of non-state actors, particularly terrorists, is a top priority that requires the closest cooperation between all Member States, as well as civil society and industry……. http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/704011/Britain-warns-UN-security-council-it-MUST-act-over-threat-of-nuclear-drone-terror-attacks

August 26, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

France to launch 6 tenders for solar energy projects

sunflag-franceFrance ushers in 3 GW solar tender across six rounds, PV Magazine, 25. AUGUST 2016, BY:  IAN CLOVER

Energy ministry confirms series of six tenders of 500 MW each to be launched between 2017 and 2020 as country gradually reignites efforts to boost its solar PV sector.  “……the government appears to at least be coming to terms with its solar shortsightedness, and this week announced that it will launch a series of solar PV tenders next year to support an additional 3 GW of PV by 2020.

The energy ministry will oversee a series of six tenders of 500 MW each, beginning in 2017. This steady and regular roll out of available projects will, the ministry said, provide stability and visibility to the French solar industry, delivering jobs and aiding the country’s carbon reduction efforts.

The tenders will be available to ground-mounted PV systems between 500 kW and 17 MW in size, and the first round of bidding ends on February 1, 2017.

During each of the six, 500 MW rounds, 300 MW capacity will be reserved for solar farms larger than 5 MW, while 135 MW of capacity will be for plants with a capacity between 500 kW and 5 MW. The remaining 65 MW will be offered to developers looking to build PV systems on carports, provided they are sized between 500 kW and 10 MW.

France is famously largely nuclear-powered, but a new solar support mechanism introduced in May – whereby bidders receive a premium on top of the market price for the PV power they feed to the grid – will hopefully deliver the types of revenue guarantee that can help the country make the transition towards more renewables.

France’s solar installation aims target 10.2 GW of PV by the end of 2018, with anywhere between 18.2 GW to 20.2 GW by 2023.   http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/france-ushers-in-3-gw-solar-tender-across-six-rounds_100025903/#ixzz4IPyzWiC8

August 26, 2016 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear police physically unable to work to age 65

Civil nuclear police: Working to 65 ‘physically impossible’, BBC News, 24 August 2016  Representatives of 1,250 armed police officers who protect UK civil nuclear sites have challenged a rule forcing them to work beyond the age of 60.

While most UK police can retire at 60, Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers must work until 65 under a new law.The Civil Nuclear Police Federation says it will be “physically impossible” for officers in their mid-60s to protect the public from terrorism.

It has taken the case to London’s High Court to try to get the rule changed.

It argues its officers have the most physically demanding role in the police service and will not be able to maintain their standards of fitness and weapons proficiency into their 60s.

A government spokesperson said the Civil Nuclear Police Authority – which oversees the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) – was “considering how to implement changes and reforms”.

The changes were brought in as part of the Public Service Pensions Act………

Analysis By Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondentUnlike other forces that are in the headlines nearly every day – the Met, West Midlands and Greater Manchester Police, for example – you don’t hear a lot about the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

Much of its work goes unseen, guarding nuclear sites in remote corners of the UK and protecting material in transit.However, it is vital work, particularly at a time when the terrorism threat level is graded “severe” with an attack assessed as “highly likely”. That’s one reason why its officers are incensed – and baffled – by pension changes which mean they’d have to work until at least 65 before retiring……..http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37169994

August 26, 2016 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Germany’s green power going strong, withg more renewable energy than it ever had nuclear

In short, Germany is paying coal to shut down, ramping up renewables far faster than nuclear shrinks, and enjoying unparalleled power reliability—while New York fails to move with solar and wind, pays nuclear to stay on, and has as much downtime a month as Germany has in a year.

logo-EnergiewendeGermany already has more green power than it ever had nuclear, Energy Transition 24 Aug 2016   by   “….. Craig Morris takes a look at the data……In Germany, however, solar and wind are reducing the wholesale prices that baseload nuclear and coal sell at—because green power is growing fast. In 2002, the country adopted a plan to phase out nuclear by around 2022 (this is still the target). Most onlookers thought it would be impossible to ever offset nuclear power with renewables in such a short time. In fact, Germany hit that target last year—seven years early.

What about the charge of a “large increase” in coal? To account for Chancellor Merkel’s sudden phaseout in 2011, we could compare the figures from 2010 to 2015 (see chart on original) ). We then see a rise of less than one percent in power from hard coal and around six percent for lignite. Judge for yourself whether this is a “large increase,” and keep in mind that power from both hard coal and lignite were down further in the first half of 2016 by 1.9 and 1.6 percent, respectively (PDF in German)—in a year when the German population grew by more than one percent because of refugees. Also keep in mind that net power exports (orange line), which reached a record high last year at nearly 10 percent of total power supply, increase demand for non-renewable electricity because renewable power has priority dispatch. To quote German utility umbrella group BDEW (not a pro-renewables organization), foreign demand for German power increases domestic generation from fossil fuels. Throw in the other fossil fuel, natural gas, and you have an overall decrease—so much that fossil fuel consumption in the power sector reached a 35-year low in 2014 (even with rising exports)…….
where do the claims of rising German carbon emissions come from? There were minor upticks in 2012 and 2013 (an argument that reminds me of the famous face-palm graphicfor global warming). And though we don’t have the CO2 numbers yet, energy consumption rose overall in 2015 and the first half of 2016—due, as the official explanation reads, to colder weather, economic growth, and the sudden population growth from refugees. Essentially, the pro-nuclear camp mistakenly attributes a rise in emissions from oil and gas for heat supply to coal consumption in the power sector (which is flat to down).
In their attempt to promote nuclear, some New Yorkers thus overemphasize the role of coal in Germany and exaggerate the limits of wind and solar. For instance, the New York Times recently claimed that the German government “will pay billions to keep coal generators in reserve, to provide emergency power at times when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.” In reality, these plants will have 11 days to ramp up. No weather forecast extends that long, and no power shortage announces itself that far in advance. Experts doubt this lignite reserve will be used at all. It is a political compromise: to meet the 2020 carbon targets, Berlin has paid coal firms to shut down old coal plants. The payoff for a shutdown is called a “reserve” to make it more palatable to the public.

“Unless we’re willing to go back to candles, which would be uncomfortable and inconvenient, we need energy generation,” New York’s Governer Cuomo said in explaining the nuclear bailout. In doing so, he unwittingly reiterated the long-disproven claim by German nuclear proponents that the lights would go out without nuclear. Like the rest of the US, New York State counts downtime (SAIDI) in hours (PDF), with New York coming in at around two hours of power outages annually—or just over 10 minutes a month. Germany had 12 minutes a year in 2014.

In short, Germany is paying coal to shut down, ramping up renewables far faster than nuclear shrinks, and enjoying unparalleled power reliability—while New York fails to move with solar and wind, pays nuclear to stay on, and has as much downtime a month as Germany has in a year.

Craig Morris (@PPchef) is the lead author of German Energy Transition. He directs Petite Planète and writes every workday for Renewables International. He is co-author of Energy Democracy, the first history of Germany’s Energiewende.   http://energytransition.de/2016/08/germany-already-has-more-green-power-than-it-ever-had-nuclear/

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Bulgaria seeks solution for costly blowout for Belene nuclear power plant

Bulgaria seeks least worst outcome for Belene nuclear fiasco BME IntelliNews,  By Clare Nuttall in Bucharest August 25, 2016 More than two months after an international court ruled Bulgaria must compensate Russia’s Atomstroyexport for work carried out on the Belene nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government is still struggling to find ways to minimise the financial damage from the project, which was cancelled back in 2013.

A Geneva-based court under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce ruled on June 16 that Bulgaria’s state National Electricity Company (NEK) must pay €550mn to Atomstroyexport, a unit of Rosatom, for the nuclear reactor the Russian company has already produced.

While the figure is lower than the €1.2bn sought by Atomstroyexport, it is a substantial sum for Sofia, when taken in combination with the €708mn Bulgaria has already sunk into the project. In addition, Bulgaria faces a bill of around €170,000 in penalty interest per week.

In an analyst note issued after the ruling, Timothy Ash of Nomura wrote that the order to pay compensation was a “significant blow to Bulgaria, with a cost of well over 1% of GDP eventually likely to fall on public finances”.

The options for the Bulgarian government are limited; far from finding the optimal solution for the country, it is a case of searching for the least costly and damaging outcome……..

White elephant

The third option put forward by Sofia is instructing the country’s privatisation agency to sell the project to private investors, who would then complete it with the help of the state. Again, it is questionable how realistic this is – there have long been doubts as to whether Bulgaria needs additional generation capacity. However, on August 24 Novinite reported that Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova had met with representatives of China General Nuclear power Group (CGN) to discuss Belene, reportedly at the request of the Chinese company………

Reviving the project could therefore be a case of throwing good money after bad, as Sofia invests yet more money only to end up with a costly white elephant power plant. This is the argument put forward by Greenpeace Bulgaria, which campaigned against Belene together with several other environmental NGOs.

“The government is trying to find a pretty way out of the situation but in reality there is no accountability for the over €1bn spent on this project,” Greenpeace Bulgaria spokesperson Denitza Petrova told bne IntelliNews. She claims that Belene “has never been economically viable … There will be no private investor in it as it is risky and useless, and will not pay off the investment.”……..http://www.intellinews.com/bulgaria-seeks-least-worst-outcome-for-belene-nuclear-fiasco-104739/

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

USA considers supplying weapons grade uranium to Belgium!

U.S. mulls long-term, bomb-grade uranium exports to Belgium Reuters By Timothy Gardner and Robert-Jan Bartunek | WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS, 25 Aug 16 

The U.S. nuclear regulator is considering long-term shipments of weapons-grade uranium to a medical research reactor in security-challenged Belgium, something critics say would set back global anti-proliferation efforts.

With a final decision still months away, the Belgian Nuclear Research Center is seeking permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to receive 317 pounds (144 kilos) of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, fuel in a series of shipments over 10 years.

The United States has supplied the reactor, which produces radioisotopes for fighting cancer, with HEU for decades. But the long-term nature of the latest request is unprecedented; previous agreements have been for periods of one to three years.

The Belgian research center has told U.S. officials since at least 2005 that it is on the verge of converting to low-enriched uranium, or LEU, not suitable for bombs. But there is no definitive date set for that change.

“Now more than a decade has passed and they are asking for another 10 years – that seems to be a bit preposterous,” said Armando Travelli, who until 2005 headed the U.S. Energy Department’s program to convert research reactors to safer uranium and bring bomb-grade uranium back to the United States.

If the Belgian reactor closes before the end of the 10 years, it could leave the center with an HEU supply over which the United States would have little control, he said……..http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-belgium-idUSKCN10Q0VL?feedType=RSS&feedName=GCA-Commodities

August 26, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Westinghouse puts on hold plans to build nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine

US Westinghouse gives no confirmation of decision to build nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine, 
Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Nasalik earlier announced that Westinghouse and Kiev had reached a deal on building a nuclear fuel factory in Ukraine.

KIEV, August 16. /TASS/. The US-based Westinghouse has not confirmed a decision to finance the construction of a nuclear fuel factory in Ukraine as was previously announced by Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Igor Nasalik.

As Westinghouse Vice-President and Managing Director for Northern and Eastern Europe Aziz Dag told Deutsche Welle publication, surplus capacities for nuclear fuel production can be observed in the world at present and, therefore, the construction of a new factory won’t bring any considerable economic benefits for the country….. http://tass.ru/en/economy/894536

August 24, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Trends in Europe’s changing energy systems

Europe’s Energy Transition: Megatrends & Tipping Points (Part 3)  Shifting Power-Generating Resources, Forbes, 18 Aug 16 By Mark Livingstone & Jan Vrins In our initial blog on Europe’s energy transition, we discussed seven megatrends that are fundamentally changing how we produce and use power. In this third blog in the series, we discuss the shift in power generation fuel mix and how this is transforming the European power industry.

European electricity-generating facilities that use oil, coal, and nuclear are devaluing and at risk of becoming stranded as generation sources shift to less expensive renewable generation and natural gas generation. This shift is playing out in different ways across Europe.

 Generation Fuel Mix Shift Is Accelerating

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), net European generation capacity will increase by 7 GW in 2016. Much of Europe’s new capacity comes from renewables, with close to 75% of new capacity coming from wind (44%) and solar (29%). While new coal (16%) and gas (6%) capacity was added, far more coal assets were decommissioned. As a result, net new capacity in Europe is virtually 100% renewables. While recent subsidy cuts have tempered solar’s growth, wind is marching onward. There is still no effective utility-scale solution to the inherent intermittency in renewable generation, as storage solutions and grid interconnection/active management are still lacking penetration at scale. Natural gas is the bridging fuel during the shift to renewables, supported by the abundance of natural gas available globally, lower long-term prices, and increasing import capacity in Europe.

What Are the Drivers Behind This Shift?

We see five main drivers for the shift in generation resources described above:

  1. Climate Change Policy: Europe has taken definitive steps to decarbonize its power generation, including relatively generous support for renewables and economic penalties for carbon emitters via the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). See our previous blog on the rising number of carbon emissions reduction policies and regulations.
  2. European Market Coupling: A second aspect of Europe’s power sector is the physical and economic integration of markets. Interconnection growth has been strong, and the economic incentives via use of power exchanges for dynamic price signaling has provided further support for low-carbon generation.
  3. Generation Economics: While policy and regulatory support for low-carbon generation has taken centre stage, the economics of various forms of generation have also been shifting. Within 7 years, solar power has gone from a heavily subsidized resource to a key component of the generation mix, even with zero or minimal subsidies. Europe continues to lead the world in development of offshore wind, particularly in the North Sea. Thermal generation economics have also changed—despite relatively low gas and coal prices, low marginal cost renewables are increasingly forcing thermal plants to shift from stable baseload operation to less efficient cycling and reliance on ancillary service contracts.
  4. Decentralization of Generation: The scale of distributed energy resources (DER) is not yet huge across Europe; however, this trend is already shaking the traditional utility business models. The rise of the prosumer is gathering momentum, be it an industrial customer who invests in combined heat and power, a new commercial building with a biomass boiler, or a housing development with rooftop solar panels.
  5. Public Sentiment: This driver cannot be underestimated given the prevalence of democratically elected governments in Europe. Public support for action to curb climate change despite the costs has been most obvious in Germany, where the changes via nuclear shutdowns and solar growth have been massive—and expensive. In the UK, it is more expensive to construct offshore wind than onshore, but the public and political preference is that location trumps economics.

How Does This Play Out Across Europe?……. http://www.forbes.com/sites/pikeresearch/2016/08/18/europes-energy-transition-megatrends-tipping-points-part-3/#6d68a5b124e8

August 24, 2016 Posted by | ENERGY, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Russian financing, Russia selling nuclear power plant to Jordan

Russian-BearJordan seeking funds for first nuclear power plant — official, Jordan Times By Mohammad Ghazal – Aug 20,2016 –  AMMAN — Jordan’s first nuclear power plant could be operational by 2025, if sufficient financing is secured, the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) said on Thursday.

“Jordan is currently in talks with German, Czech, Chinese and Japanese companies among others to supply turbines and electrical systems for the power plant and things are going well,” said JAEC Chairman Khaled Toukan.

Thirty per cent of the $10 billion project will be financed equally by Jordan and Russia, who are partners in the project. JAEC is engaged in discussions with companies to secure the remaining 70 per cent to pay for turbines and electrical systems, Toukan said.

“If we secure finance by the end of 2017, we will be able to operate the first reactor by 2025,” he noted.

Under an agreement with Russia, Jordan plans to build a power plant with two nuclear reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

Toukan was speaking at a press conference on Thursday to announce the results of a report on the programme by the International Advisory Group (IAG).

The IAG was formed in November 2015 to provide consultations on the strategy to deal with nuclear waste, and the best options and mechanisms to finance the plant.

The group includes former energy minister Khaled Shraideh and seven international industry experts. …….http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/jordan-seeking-funds-first-nuclear-power-plant-%E2%80%94-official

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Jordan, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point’s nuclear weapons connection

peaceful-nukeHinkley’s Hidden History , 18 Aug 2016 Morning Star 
With the government decision over the new reactor at Hinkley postponed, text-relevantnuclear historian DAVID LOWRY reveals how the British nuclear power and weapons programmes were born together – and have yet to be separated  
THE first nuclear power plant on the Hinkley Point site in Somerset was built in the 1960s.

At the time, the United States, was intimately involved in the planning. Why was this?

The first public hint is to be found in a statement by the Ministry of Defence on June 17 1958 on “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs” in Britain’s first-generation magnox reactor.

By chance, on the same day, France’s president Charles de Gaulle authorised a nuclear test to be held early the next year.

The site chosen was the Reganne oasis 700km south of Colomb Bechar in the Sahara Desert of Algeria.

France also used a magnox-style reactor at Chinon in the Loire Valley to make the plutonium explosives.

A week later in the British Parliament, Labour’s Roy Mason asked why the government had “decided to modify atomic power stations, primarily planned for peaceful purposes, to produce high-grade plutonium for war weapons” and “to what extent this will interfere with the atomic power programme?”

He was informed by paymaster general Reginald Maudling: “At the request of the government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise…….

The headline story in the Bridgwater Mercury, serving the community around Hinkley was: “MILITARY PLUTONIUM To be manufactured at Hinkley.”

The article explained: “An ingenious method has been designed for changing the plant without reducing the output of electricity.”

The CND was reported to be critical, describing this as a “distressing step,” insisting: “The government is obsessed with a nuclear militarism which seems insane.”

Sadly, with the blinkered push to replace Trident today, not much seems to have changed in the 55 years since……

on July 3 1958, Britain and the US signed a detailed agreement on co-operation on nuclear weapons development, after several months of congressional hearings in Washington DC — but, significantly, with no oversight whatsoever in Parliament.

As this formed the basis, within a mere five years, for Britain obtaining the Polaris nuclear WMD system from the US, and some 20-odd years later for Britain to buy US Trident WMD, the failure of Parliament to at least appraise the security merits of this bilateral atomic arrangement was unconscionable……

Following further detailed negotiations, the Ango-American Mutual Defense Agreement on Atomic Energy matters (defence is spelled with an “s” even in the British version of the treaty, demonstrating the origin of the drafts), to give it its full treaty title, was amended on May 7 1959, to permit the exchange of nuclear explosive material for military purposes.
The Times science correspondent wrote on May 8 1959 under the headline: “Production of weapons at short notice” that “the most important technical fact behind the agreement is that of civil grade — such as will be produced in British civil nuclear power stations — can now be used in weapons.”……

And so it may be seen that Britain’s first civil nuclear programme was used as a source of nuclear explosive plutonium for the US military, with Hinkley Point A the prime provider.
Two decades later, Wales national daily, the Western Mail, reported on October 8 1984 that the largest magnox reactor in Britain, at Wylfa on Anglesey, had also been used to provide plutonium for the military.

Plutonium from both reactors went into the British military stockpile of nuclear explosives and could well still be part of the British Trident warhead stockpile today.

Subsequent research by the Scientists Against Nuclear Arms, published in the prestigious science weekly journal Nature, has demonstrated that around 6,700kg of plutonium was shipped to the US under the military exchange agreement, which stipulates explicitly that the material must be used for military purposes by the recipient country.

To put this quantity into context, a nuclear warhead contains around 5kg of plutonium so this is a very significant quantity.

What would Iran and North Korea make of this deliberate intermixing of civil and military nuclear programmes by one of the nuclear weapons superpowers which leads the criticisms of them for allegedly doing this very thing today?

Dr David Lowry is senior research fellow at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-dabf-Hinkleys-hidden-history#.V7dqoFt97Gg

August 20, 2016 Posted by | history, Reference, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Foreign companies depend on UK nuclear success for their global marketing drive

marketig-nukesThe major hurdle for Horizon and NuGen is that they must sell their visions to global investors. Both developers say they will build their plants for less than the £18bn it will cost to build Hinkley Point, but they will not say by how much……

For Toshiba and Hitachi, building nuclear reactors in the UK represents a Buy-Japan's-nukes-2chance to boost their reputations — and the image of nuclear power more generally around the world

Energy: Generating criticism Kiran Stacey, Energy Correspondent, Ft.com 18 Aug 16  The UK’s ambitious plans to build six nuclear plants are raising concerns that it is losing control over critical infrastructure
In a field in a remote part of north-west Wales, a lone farmer cuts the grass, parcelling it up into hay bales which can be sold for a modest profit. His farm, and even the hill on which it sits, will soon be demolished by the Japanese-owned company Horizon — ground zero in an ambitious scheme to build one of a string ofnuclear power stations across the UK.

Wylfa, on the island of Anglesey, is one of several sites designated for the plants, which could cost up to £100bn and, if all goes to plan, will replace the UK’s ageing coal power stations. But despite the billions of pounds about to be poured into nuclear energy in Britain, only some is likely to stay in the UK. Of the six plants being planned, none will be owned by a British company.

For nuclear power groups from France, China, the US and Japan, the UK’s ambitious plans represent a ripe opportunity in an otherwise difficult global market. Following the meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in Japan in 2011, several countries, including Japan and Germany, scaled back or cancelled their nuclear energy plans.

The lack of British participation in such a massive domestic programme has drawn opposition. Critics say the project represents yet another example of the country’s propensity to allow foreign companies and governments to profit from the UK’s most sensitive — and lucrative — infrastructure projects.

That critique appears to be shared by some in the UK government. When Theresa May, the prime minister, unexpectedly delayed the £18bn plant planned for Hinkley Point in south-west England, allies said it was over concerns about the involvement of two Chinese state-backed companies alongside France’s EDF, the state-backed utility. Some officials see the plant as a matter of national security, warning that the Chinese state could have the power to turn off a large chunk of Britain’s electricity supply.

Mrs May’s decision has caused consternation in Beijing, where officials had been reassured by the previous government’s unflagging support for the project. She will travel to China next month to steady bilateral relations, and is expected to make a decision over the project around the time of that trip…….

Made in Japan  At Wylfa, the Hitachi branding on the cranes involved in initial groundworks give a signal of how integral the Japanese company, which owns Horizon, is to every stage of the process. The entire station will be built in Hitachi City in Japan before being shipped over, piece by piece, to north Wales. Horizon has submitted its design to regulators for approval, and will only make the final decision to go ahead after it has funding in place and made the necessary planning applications.

At Moorside, in the northern county of Cumbria, a company called NuGen is developing another site over the road from Sellafield power station. NuGen is a joint venture of Japan’s Toshiba and Engie, the French utility, whose biggest shareholder is the French state. Its reactor has been designed by Westinghouse, the US industrial company, most of which is owned by Toshiba.

If Mrs May is worried about the Chinese being able to shut down Hinkley Point, she might be even more concerned with the plans of EDF, China General Nuclear Power and China National Nuclear Corp in eastern England. After the consortium develops another plant at Sizewell, in Suffolk, the Chinese groups are hoping to design and build the plant at Bradwell in Essex……..

One of the main motivations for EDF’s Chinese partners to invest in the UK is the stamp of quality they would gain as they market their Hualong One design internationally.

“With both the government and public opinion in favour of nuclear power, Britain is a very attractive market for building new nuclear plants,” a spokesman for Hitachi says.

The major hurdle for Horizon and NuGen is that they must sell their visions to global investors. Both developers say they will build their plants for less than the £18bn it will cost to build Hinkley Point, but they will not say by how much……

For Toshiba and Hitachi, building nuclear reactors in the UK represents a chance to boost their reputations — and the image of nuclear power more generally around the world…….. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8135630a-5a5d-11e6-9f70-badea1b336d4.html#axzz4HoS1C8dw

August 19, 2016 Posted by | marketing, UK | Leave a comment

Romania Denies Accepting US Nuclear Weapons

warheads nuclear http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/romania-denies-nuclear-weapons-transfer-on-its-soil-08-18-2016  Bucharest officials have denied media reports that US nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey are being transferred to Romania after the coup attempt against the Ankara government. Marian Chiriac
BIRN Bucharest -The Romanian foreign ministry, MAE on Thursday dismissed claims that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania amid tensions in relations between Washington and Ankara.

“The MAE firmly rejects these pieces of information,” the ministry said in a press release, without elaborating.

Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc said that such media reports were just speculation and “so far there have not been any plans or discussions [among NATO members] on this topic”.

The statements came after website Euractiv reported on Thursday morning that more than 20 B61 nuclear weapons were being moved from Turkey’s Incirlik air base to the Deveselu base in Romania.

According to one of the two anonymous sources quoted by Euractiv, “US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the [recent attempted] coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons”.

US and Turkish officials made no immediate response to Euractiv’s request for a comment.  NATO said however that US allies must ensure that “all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective”.

In Romania, analysts said they doubted whether the transfer would happen. “Such a transfer is very challenging in technical and political terms. I doubt the Alliance would run against its political commitments to cooperation with Moscow, based on the Founding Act of mutual relations and security between NATO and Russia,” said political analist Andrei Tarnea.

The Founding Act, signed in 1997, says NATO allies “have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members [such as Romania], nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy – and do not foresee any future need to do so”.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, said in a Twitter post that Romania does not have the capacity to store the weapons.  “For one thing, there are no WS3 vaults at Deveselu – or anywhere in Romania – to store the B61s,” Lewis said.

In December 2015, the US Navy formally inaugurated its new missile defence base in Deveselu in southern Romania. The base became operational in mid-May this year.  It is one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield, a scheme which is viewed with deep suspicion by Russia.

Russia has warned Romania to abandon the anti-missile system that the US is installing at Deveselu. Relations between Bucharest and Moscow are already rocky. Romania has been among the strongest regional backers of the package of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in connection with the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Romania also hosts another major US military base, at Mihail Kogalniceanu airport, near the Black Sea, which became operational in 2007.

August 19, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

President Reagan worked with Russia to defuse the nuclear arms race; time that President Obama did that, too

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag_RussiaAn Urgent History Lesson in Diplomacy with Russia, CounterPunch,text-relevant 12 Aug 16 by RENEE PARSONS As prospects for peace appear dim in places like the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan and now with a renewed bombing of Libya, the President of the United States (and  his heiress apparent) continue to display an alarming lack of understanding of the responsibilities  as the nation’s highest elected officer.  As has been unsuccessfully litigated, Article II of the Constitution does not give the President right to start war; only Congress is granted that authority (See Article I, Section 8).

So for the nation’s Chief Executive Officer to willy-nilly arbitrarily decide to bomb here and bomb there and bomb everywhere in violation of the Constitution might be sufficient standard  for that CEO  to be regarded as a war criminal. Surely, consistently upping the stakes with a strong US/NATO military presence in the Baltics with the US Navy regularly cruising the Black and Baltic Seas, accompanied by a steady stream of confrontational language and picking a fight with a nuclear-armed Russia may not be the best way to achieve peace……

text-historyReagan, who was ready to engage in extensive personal diplomacy, was an unlikely peacemaker yet he achieved an historic accomplishment in the nuclear arms race that is especially relevant today as NATO/US are reintroducing nuclear weapons into eastern Europe……

According to Jack Matlock  who served as Reagan’s senior policy coordinator for Russia and later US Ambassador to Russia in his book, “Reagan and Gorbachev:  How the Cold War Ended,” one of Reagan’s pre-meeting [with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev] notes to himself read “avoid any demand for regime change.”  From the beginning, one of Reagan’s goals was to establish a relationship that would be able to overcome whatever obstacles or conflicts may arise with the goal of preventing a thermonuclear war. … 

After a lengthy personal, private conversation, it became obvious that the two men had struck a cord of mutual respect…. At the conclusion of Geneva, a shared trust necessary to begin sober negotiations to ban nuclear weapons had been established. Both were well aware that the consequences of nuclear war would be a devastation to mankind, the world’s greatest environmental disaster.  At the end of their Geneva meeting, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that “nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”……

In December of 1987, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington DC to sign the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (including Short Range Missiles) known as the INF Treaty.  The Treaty eliminated 2,611 ground launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometers (310 -3,400 miles).  Paris is 2,837 (1,762 miles) kilometers from Moscow.

In  May 1988, the INF Treaty was ratified by the US Senate in a surprising vote of 93 – 5 (four Republicans and one Democrat opposed) and by May, 1991, all Pershing I missiles in Europe  had been dismantled. Verification of Compliance of the INF Treaty, delayed because of the USSR breakup, was completed in December, 2001.

At an outdoor press briefing during their last meeting together and after the INF was implemented, Reagan put his arm around Gorbachev.  A reporter asked if he still believed in the ‘evil empire’ and Reagan answered ‘no.”   When asked why, he replied “I was talking about another time, another era.”……..

As the current US President and Nobel Peace Prize winner prepares to leave office with a record of a Tuesday morning kill list, unconscionable drone attacks on civilians, initiating bombing campaigns where there were none prior to his election and, of course, taunting Russian President Vladimir Putin with unsubstantiated allegations, the US-backed NATO has scheduled AEGIS anti ballistic missile shields to be constructed in Romania and Poland, challenging the integrity of INF Treaty for the first time in almost thirty years.

In what may shed new light on NATO/US build-up in eastern Europe, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov denied US charges in June, 2015 that Russia had violated the Treaty and that the US had “failed to provide evidence of Russian breaches.”  Commenting on US plans to deploy land-based missiles in Europe as a possible response to the alleged “Russian aggression” in the Ukraine, Lavrov warned that ‘‘building up militarist rhetoric is absolutely counterproductive and harmful.’  Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov suggested the United States was leveling accusations against Russia in order to justify its own military plans.

In early August, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration authorized the final development phase (prior to actual production in 2020) of the B61-21 nuclear bomb at a cost of $350 – $450 billion.  A thermonuclear weapon  with the capability of reaching Europe and Moscow, the B61-21 is part of President Obama’s $1 trillion request for modernizing the US aging and outdated nuclear weapon arsenal.

Isn’t it about time for the President to do something to earn that Peace Prize?  http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/12/an-urgent-history-lesson-in-diplomacy-with-russia/

August 17, 2016 Posted by | history, politics international, Reference, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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