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African countries being conned into nuclear debt, by Russia

African countries rush to sign nuclear deals with Russia, Daily Maverick By Peter Fabricius• 29 October 2019

But concerns are being raised about whether they can all afford nuclear energy.

The Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with about 18 African counties, as Russia accelerates its drive for nuclear business on the continent.

The growing commitment of African countries to high capital cost nuclear energy has raised some concern about whether they are committing themselves to unaffordable debt.

Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev revealed a large number of nuclear agreements with African countries after signing an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the Ethiopian Minister of Innovation and Technology, Getahun Mekuria Kuma, during the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on the Black Sea last week.

Mekuria later told the Russian official news agency Tass that Ethiopia had plants to build a nuclear power plant.

Rosatom later also signed an agreement with Rwanda at the summit on cooperation for the construction of a centre of nuclear science and technology in Rwanda. Rosatom had a strong presence at the economic forum which paralleled the political summit. The Rosatom stand attracted scores of interested African government officials on the sidelines of the forum. …..

Likhachev told journalists after the discussion that Rosatom had now signed memoranda of understanding or intergovernmental agreements with about one-third of countries on the continent – about 18. He could not say how many of these were about scientific cooperation and how many were about producing nuclear energy “because very often those two tracks go hand in hand”.

But he did say in the discussion that about half of the African countries with which Rosatom had signed nuclear agreements were actively discussing joint projects with the corporation, which had been stipulated in contracts. The most advanced joint project is with Egypt, which has contracted Rosatom to build a 4,800MW nuclear power plant……

“We are ready to propose to Ethiopia cutting-edge solutions of nuclear technology. And our Ethiopian partners are invited to visit nuclear facilities in our country.

“Apart from larger capacity nuclear power plants, we also stand ready to offer smaller capacity, modular reactors.”

……..However, the apparent rush to nuclear energy by African countries has raised some concerns that they may be committing themselves to high capital costs of nuclear power production which they will be unable to afford.

Analysts have noted that even South Africa, one of the top two economies on the continent, backed away from an apparent commitment by former president Jacob Zuma to order 9,600MW of nuclear power plant production from Rosatom – at an estimated cost of about R1-trillion.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said after meeting Putin on the sidelines of the summit that the Russian president had once again asked him if South Africa was still interested in building a nuclear power plant and he had told him once again that it still could not afford to.

An African minister at the summit told Daily Maverick that although power plants could be an important source of economic growth, African countries were sinking further into debt and had to be careful to ensure they could afford the infrastructure they built.

Likhachev defended nuclear energy as an economical source of electricity over the long term. ……….

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwandan minister in charge of the East African community  would not be drawn on the cost and affordability implications, saying the details of the agreement would be announced in due course. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-10-29-african-countries-rush-to-sign-nuclear-deals-with-russia/

October 31, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Worrying legacy of radioactive trash under planned Moscow roadway

October 28, 2019 Posted by | environment, Russia | 1 Comment

Highly toxic nuclear waste being imported into Russia, from Germany

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Germany, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

High Radiation Along Planned Moscow Highway Route

Greenpeace Finds High Radiation Along Planned Moscow Highway Route, Moscow Times, Oct. 21, 2019, Soil samples taken along the route of a planned highway in Moscow are emitting radiation levels that pose cancer risks to residents, Greenpeace Russia said Monday.

Activists have warned that the eight-lane highway, which authorities hope to start building next year and finish by 2024, will release buried radioactive dust into the air and the Moscow River.

“We now have official proof that radioactive waste lies on the route and not somewhere nearby,” Greenpeace Russia said Monday.

Greenpeace demanded in July that construction be halted, months after state-run safety tests revealed radiation levels near the planned highway 200 times higher than the norm.

The NGO and hired experts found five locations on the highway route between the Moscow Polymetals Plant and the Moskvorechye commuter rail station where topsoil emitted up to eight times the normal level of radiation.

“Borehole measurements half a meter deep showed greater [radiation] values than on the surface,” Greenpeace said…….https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/10/21/greenpeace-finds-high-radiation-along-planned-moscow-highway-route-a67834

October 24, 2019 Posted by | environment, Russia | Leave a comment

Russian obfuscation over nuclear accident is a dangerous precedent

October 24, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Russian nuclear submarine aborts ballistic missile test

October 22, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia showcases its nuclear arsenal with huge war games

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Putin warns on the need for a new nuclear weapons treaty

PUTIN TAKES SWIPE AT TRUMP FOR WITHDRAWING FROM NUCLEAR TREATY: ‘IT WAS NOT WORTH RUINING’, Newsweek, 

BY BRENDAN COLE ON 10/14/19 Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that a new nuclear weapons deal needed to be struck urgently as he criticized the decision by Donald Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty which had been in place since the Cold War.

In an interview with Arabic-speaking journalists ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Putin reiterated Russia’s opposition to the withdrawal in February from the INF, which had been signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan.

It banned missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles but the U.S. and Nato had accused Russia of violating the pact by deploying a new type of cruise missile, a claim Moscow denied.

Putin said: “It think it was a mistake…and that they could have gone a different path. I do understand the U.S. concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defences, Russia and the U.S. have tied their own hands with this treaty. However, I still believe it was not worth ruining the deal; I believe there were other ways out of the situation.”

Putin said that the U.S. must back a new START Treaty, which expires in 2021, to restrict a race to acquire strategic nuclear weapons.

“The new START Treaty is actually the only treaty that we have to prevent us from falling back into a full-scale arms race. To make sure it is extended, we need to be working on it right now. We have already submitted our proposals; they are on the table of the U.S. administration. There has been no answer so far.

“If this treaty is not extended, the world will have no means of limiting the number of offensive weapons, and this is bad news. The situation will change, globally. It will become more precarious, and the world will be less safe and a much less predictable place than today,” Putin said, according to a transcript of the interview on the Kremlin website.

Putin said that his doubt over the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament stretched back to 2002, when under President George W. Bush, Washington withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which had imposed limits on missile defence systems……… https://www.newsweek.com/putin-start-treaty-trump-arms-race-1464921

October 15, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia and the quest for nuclear power in space

Below are extracts from this very thoroughly researched article. The original contains much historical detail, good diagrams and excellent references

Ekipazh: Russia’s top-secret nuclear-powered satellite, The Space Review, by Bart Hendrickx, Monday, October 7, 2019  There is strong evidence from publicly available sources that a Russian company called KB Arsenal is working on a new type of military satellite equipped with a nuclear power source. Called Ekipazh, its mission may well be to perform electronic warfare from space.

KB Arsenal, based in St. Petersburg, is no newcomer to the development of nuclear-powered satellites. In the Soviet days it built satellites known as US-A (standing for “active controllable satellite”), which carried nuclear reactors to power radars used for ocean reconnaissance (in the West they were known as “radar ocean reconnaissance satellites” or RORSAT for short.)  ……………
 evidence emerged in the past few years for the existence of another KB Arsenal project with the odd name Ekipazh (a French loanword meaning both “crew” and “horse-drawn carriage”). The name first surfaced in the 2015 annual report of a company called NPP KP Kvant, which manufactures optical sensors for satellite orientation systems. It revealed that the company had signed a contract with KB Arsenal under project Ekipazh to deliver an Earth sensor (designated 108M) for “transport and energy modules.” According to the 2015 report, test flights of Ekipazh were to be completed in 2021.
Documentation published in recent weeks and months on Russia’s publicly accessible government procurement website zakupki.gov.ru has now confirmed that Ekipazh and TEM are indeed separate efforts. While TEM is a civilian project started jointly by Roscosmos and Rosatom in 2010, Ekipazh officially got underway on August 13, 2014, with a contract signed between KB Arsenal and the Ministry of Defense. It has the military index 14F350, an out-of-sequence number in the 14F satellite designation system, pointing to the satellite’s unusual nature………
While this procurement documentation reveals little about the true nature of Ekipazh and its “transport and energy module,” contractual information that appeared on the procurement website this summer provides conclusive evidence that Ekipazh is a nuclear-powered satellite and leaves little doubt that it uses the Plazma-2010 platform or an outgrowth of it…………

Regulatory issues

Despite the safety risks associated with launching nuclear reactors into space, there are no international rules forbidding nations from doing so. In September 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations did adopt the so-called “Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space,” but these do not have the same binding force as the UN Outer Space Treaties.

One of the Principles stipulates that nuclear reactors may be operated on interplanetary missions, orbits high enough to allow for a sufficient decay of the fission products, or in low-Earth orbits if they are boosted to sufficiently high orbits after the operational part of the mission. As explained earlier, the latter procedure was followed for the Soviet-era RORSAT missions, but it is highly unlikely that Russia would want to risk repeating the Cosmos 954 experience of 1978. In fact, the very presence of a “transport and energy module” on Ekipazh is a sure sign that it will be placed into an orbit high enough to prevent any harm. Before the nuclear-powered TEM is even activated, a liquid-fuel propulsion system may first boost the satellite to an orbital altitude of at least 800 kilometers, the same procedure that has been described for the one-megawatt TEM. During a recent question-and-answer question with students in St. Petersburg, Roscosmos chief Dmitri Rogozin confirmed that 800 kilometers is the minimum operating altitude for nuclear reactors. Judging from Russian press reports, Rogozin was actually replying to a question about Ekipazh, but seemingly dodged that by talking about the one-megawatt reactor instead.[38]

Another Principle states that launching nations should make a thorough and comprehensive safety assessment and share the results of that with other nations before launch:

The results of this safety assessment, together with, to the extent feasible, an indication of the approximate intended time-frame of the launch, shall be made publicly available prior to each launch and the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall be informed on how States may obtain such results of the safety assessment as soon as possible prior to each launch.

Russia adhered to this rule on the only occasion that it launched nuclear material into space after the adoption of the 1992 Principles. This was on the ill-fated Mars-96 interplanetary mission, which carried two surface penetrators powered by small radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). However, unlike Ekipazh, Mars-96 was an international scientific mission and the presence of the RTGs was widely known. It will be interesting to see how Russia deals with this issue once the top-secret Ekipazh nears launch.

Outlook

It may well be several more years before that launch takes place. Although the initial goal appears to have been to finish test flights by 2021, the available procurement documentation suggests that the first mission is still some time off. Ekipazh may well be experiencing the same kind of delays suffered by many other Russian space projects due to both budgetary issues and Western-imposed sanctions that have complicated the supply of electronic components for space hardware. On top of that, the development of a nuclear-powered satellite is bound to pose some daunting technical challenges that may further contribute to the delays.

One also wonders if the Russians are biting off more than they can chew by simultaneously working on two nuclear electric space tugs (Ekipazh and the one-megawatt TEM). An attempt to streamline this effort seems to have been made by giving KB Arsenal a leading role in both projects in 2014, making it possible to benefit from the company’s earlier experience in the field and infrastructure that it may already have in place to test related hardware. Still, the two projects use fundamentally different nuclear reactors built by different organizations.

The slow progress made in developing the one-megawatt gas-turbine reactor has left many wondering if it will ever fly in space. If Russia plans to use nuclear reactors solely for practical applications in Earth orbit, it may make more sense to abandon the gas-turbine reactor altogether and upgrade the capacity of Krasnaya Zvezda’s thermionic reactors. The company has already done conceptual work on thermionic reactors with a maximum capacity of several hundred kilowatts, even though their operational lifetime would be limited.[39] If this path is chosen, Ekipazh could serve as a testbed for all the nuclear reactors that Russia intends to fly in the near future. However, the country is unlikely to let all the money and effort invested in the one-megawatt TEM go to waste, even if its capabilities may not be needed until well into the 2030s or even later.
Project Ekipazh is discussed in this thread on the NASA Spaceflight Forum, which is updated with new information as it becomes available……. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3809/1

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Russia, space travel | Leave a comment

Russia’s fatal Skyfall missile test- a fatal nuclear accident

Putin’s Skyfall missile failed a test and exploded in a deadly nuclear accident, the US says. Business Insider, ELLEN IOANES, OCT 12, 2019, 

  • A report from a US State Department official on Thursday provides a clearer picture as to how the August 8 Skyfall accident occurred at a secret Russian military testing range.
  • “The United States has determined that the explosion near Nyonoksa, Russia, was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile,” the official wrote. “The missile remained on the bed of the White Sea since its failed test early last year, in close proximity to a major population centre.”
  • Amid confusion and obfuscation from Russia and speculation from analyst, the report gives a clearer picture of how the accident, which killed seven Russians, occurred.
An August 8 nuclear accident near Nyonoksa, Russia, was caused by a nuclear reaction that occurred while Russians were attempting to recover a nuclear-powered cruise missile submerged in the White Sea after a failed test last year.

report to the UN General Assembly First Committee on Thursday by Thomas G. DiNanno, the deputy assistant secretary and senior bureau official at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, ended months of speculation about the exact cause of the accident, which killed seven Russians.

While experts at the time determined that the cause was a nuclear-reactor explosion and tied it to the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, which NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, DiNanno’s report gives a clearer picture of how the accident occurred.

“Russia also has much to answer for regarding the August 8th ‘Skyfall’ incident,” DiNanno wrote. …….

After the accident, Russia’s explanations and reactions to it varied greatly, from ordering an evacuation of the area to canceling it hours later. Four radiation sensor sites also went mysteriously offline after the accident, pointing to a potential cover-up. Russian officials said they were not obligated to share the data, which could have helped point to the cause of the accident, The New York Times reported.

Officials also declined to tell doctors treating engineers affected by the blast that they had been exposed to nuclear radiation and requested hospital staff sign a nondisclosure agreement, The Moscow Times originally reported……. https://www.businessinsider.my/us-putins-skyfall-missile-failed-test-and-exploded-during-recovery-2019-10/

October 12, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia has a pointless, but scary Seaborne Nuclear Weapon

Russia Has a Terrifying Seaborne Nuclear Weapon, Sebastien Roblin

The National Interest•October 11, 2019  

Key point: Moscow’s deadly weapon is pointless but is still apart of mutually-assured-destruction.On May 22, 2018, the Russian submarine Yuri Dolgoruky slipped beneath the waves of the Arctic White Sea. Hatches along the submerged boat’s spine opened, flooding the capacious tubes beneath. Moments later, an undersea volcano seemingly erupted from the depths.

Amidst roiling smoke, four stubby-looking missiles measuring twelve-meters in length emerged one by one. Momentarily, they seemed on the verge of faltering backward into the sea before their solid-fuel rockets ignited, propelling them high into the stratosphere. The four missiles soared across Russia to land in a missile test range on the Kamchatka peninsula, roughly 3,500 miles away.

You can see the launch sequence in this video.

Like the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operated by United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, and India, the primary purpose of Borei-class submarines is almost unimaginably grim: to bring ruin to an adversary’s cities, even should other nuclear forces be wiped out in a first strike.

Each of the submarine’s sixteen R-30 Bulava (“Mace”) missiles typically carries six 150-kiloton nuclear warheads designed to split apart to hit separate targets. This means one Borei can rain seventy-two nuclear warheads ten times more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on cities and military bases over 5,800 miles away.

The Borei is the most advanced SSBN in the Russian Navy, and is designed to replace its seven Soviet-era Delta-class SSBNs. Throughout most of the Cold War, Soviets submarines were noisier than their Western counterparts, and thus vulnerable to detection and attack by Western attack submarines. …….

The Bulava has an unusually shallow flight trajectory, making it harder to intercept, and can be fired while the Borei is moving. The 40-ton missiles can deploy up to forty decoys to try to divert defensive missiles fire by anti-ballistic missiles systems like the Alaska-based

October 12, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Massive Nuclear Explosion similar to Kyrshtym by Mayak Can Happen Happen at Hanford if the site is not Monitored and tanks not taken care of

 Lane, 6 Oct 19  Mayak Explosion
Ten Thousand Gallon Tank at Mayak Exploded from Heat Decay. The Heat Deacy was from Strontium 90, Cesium 137, Cobalt 60 and Plutonium Stored in the Underground Tank. The explosion was equivalent to 100 tons of TNT. There are55 million gallons of the same Radionuclide Mix stored at Hanford, in UnderGround Tanks. If they become too concentrated and hot, the same thing will Happen there, contaminating a Great Portion of the Pacific NW USA and southe western Canada.

Medvedev, Zhores A. (4 November 1976). “Two Decades of Dissidence”. New Scientist.
Medvedev, Zhores A. (1980). Nuclear disaster in the Urals translated by George Saunders. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-74445-2. (c1979)

In 1957 the cooling system in one of the tanks containing about 70–80 tons of liquid radioactive waste failed and was not repaired. The temperature in it started to rise, resulting in evaporation and a chemical explosion of the dried waste, consisting mainly of ammonium nitrate and acetates (see ammonium nitrate/fuel oil bomb). The explosion, on 29 September 1957, estimated to have a force of about 70–100 tons of TNT,[10] threw the 160-ton concrete lid into the air.[8] There were no immediate casualties as a result of the explosion, but it released an estimated 20 MCi (800 PBq) of radioactivity. Most of this contamination settled out near the site of the accident and contributed to the pollution of the Techa River, but a plume containing 2 MCi (80 PBq) of radionuclides spread out over hundreds of kilometers.[11] Previously contaminated areas within the affected area include the Techa river, which had previously received 2.75 MCi (100 PBq) of deliberately dumped waste, and Lake Karachay, which had received 120 MCi (4,000 PBq).[7]

In the next 10 to 11 hours, the radioactive cloud moved towards the north-east, reaching 300–350 km (190–220 mi) from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 to 20,000 km2 (310 to 7,720 sq mi), depending on what contamination level is considered significant, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90.[7] This area is usually referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace EURT

October 6, 2019 Posted by | history, incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia’s manipulations in supplying Bangladesh with nuclear technology

Derek Abbott  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch Australia,7 Oct 19

I’m at an engineering meeting and got to meet an engineer working on the nuclear program in Bangladesh.

I asked him if Bangladesh had renewables. He said they have a lot.

I then made the point that nuclear is therefore not a good investment as his grid is now in greater need of sources that turn on and off quickly. As nuclear can’t do that, nuclear is not cost effective.

He agreed and said for that reason the Bangladeshi govt would actually never pay upfront for a nuclear station on an economic basis.

He said the nuclear program was a result of a political deal with the Russians.

He said that Pakistan and India have nuclear in the region, so the idea of Bangladesh having a nuclear station is a show of “arm flexing.”

The Russians were pushy and made a deal too hard to resist: The Russians will only charge 1% of the cost per annum for the first 30 years of operation and have agreed to remove all waste and ship it back to Russia.

I said that deal does seem too hard to resist.

I then naively asked why on earth the Russians would go to such lengths at an apparent economic loss to them.

His answer was that Bangladesh is seen as an economically strategic region. Labour costs are lower than India, and it has a very capable workforce with a GDP that is over 5 times (per head) higher than India!

I hadn’t realised that and asked how they are making money. He said that India is no longer the power house of the clothing industry. Due to lower wages, clothes are now made in Bangladesh. All your designer labels you might be wearing come from there and have been rebranded.

There are very strong trade deals between China and Bangladesh, and it his belief that Russia’s “bargain basement” nuclear deal is way of getting a foothold in the region themselves. It is a geopolitical maneuver.

What the Russians giveth with one hand, they’ll probably find a way to taketh with another.

October 6, 2019 Posted by | ASIA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia’s deadly explosion in August has awakened Russians to the nuclear danger

September 30, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

New nuclear weapons that could make continents uninhabitable

Russia’s New Nuclear Weapon Could Make America Uninhabitable, The National Interest•September 20, 2019  

Can’t lose if we all lose.

by Sebastien Roblin  Key point: This is a weapon of last resort. Total overkill  
“…….Like the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operated by United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, and India, the primary purpose of Borei-class submarines is almost unimaginably grim: to bring ruin to an adversary’s cities, even should other nuclear forces be wiped out in a first strike.

Each of the submarine’s sixteen R-30 Bulava (“Mace”) missiles typically carries six 150-kiloton nuclear warheads designed to split apart to hit separate targets. This means one Borei can rain seventy-two nuclear warheads ten times more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on cities and military bases over 5,800 miles away. ……..

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment