How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried), National Interest, Michael Peck, 18 Mar 17, During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.
The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships.
Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.
Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels.
The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.
In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT.
Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”
Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include:
• Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses.
• Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians.
• Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms.
• Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus.
• Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”
• “Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”
The Tartus deal is significant on several levels…… http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-russia-turning-syria-major-naval-base-nuclear-warships-19813
Russia eyes deal to build Kenya’s sole nuclear plant, The Star, Kenya Mar. 14, 2017, By WEITERE MWITA @mwitamartin Russia has offered to design, finance and build Kenya’s proposed nuclear power plant.
The seventh Nuclear Power Asia conference being held in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and Wednesday is bringing together the leaders of the Asian nuclear-power industry.
Session participants have concurred that nuclear power, being an economically and environmentally viable source of electricity, has the capacity to contribute greatly to Asia’s sustainable future.
“Sustainable future is impossible without sustainable energy,” said Egor Simonov, director of Rosatom Asia. “Nuclear power [emits] 25-30 times less [greenhouse gas] than coal- or oil-fired power plants. Therefore, nuclear power may be a viable solution for Asean nations willing to fulfil their climate-change commitments.”
Rosatom is Russia’s nuclear regulator, and its Southeast Asian regional branch is in Singapore. …….The Nuclear Power Asia conference is a platform to discuss the latest challenges, trends and achievements in the Asian nuclear industry. The event is annually attended by more than 300 participants from nuclear-energy authorities, energy commissions, nuclear energy programme implementing organisations, international developers and operators, technology suppliers, and academic society. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/breakingnews/30308264
Russia, Tajikistan to cooperate in nuclear energy field, AZER News, 1 March 17 By Kamila Aliyeva
Tajikistan and Russia have agreed to cooperate in atomic energy and border security. The relevant agreements were achieved within the framework of the visit of Russian leader Vladimir Putin to Tajikistan on February 27.
Thus an agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy was signed by Farhod Rakhimov, President of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, and Alexey Likhachev, Director General of ROSATOM, on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation.
The deal has provided the legal basis for interaction between Tajikistan and Russia in the nuclear power sector for the first time in history while determining a wide range of cooperation areas including design, construction, operation and decommissioning of research reactors; spent fuel and radioactive waste management; rehabilitation of tailing storage areas and utilization of decommissioned uranium mining and reprocessing facilities; production of radioisotopes; use of nuclear technology in industry, medicine, agriculture; education and training of highly skilled personnel for the nuclear power industry, etc.
Besides, the agreement envisages the formation of joint coordination commission with the view of further consulting in the issues relating to the implementation of the above mentioned peaceful uses of atomic energy and search for mutually beneficial opportunities…….http://www.azernews.az/region/109545.html
Did Putin help elect Trump to restore $500 billion Exxon oil deal killed by sanctions
Follow the money: Will Trump repay Putin by ending Russian sanctions and killing the Paris climate deal? Think Progess, Joe Romm , 28 Feb 17, “……. our democracy and our children have a new axis to worry about: Putin, Trump, and ExxonMobil, whose CEO Rex Tillerson — an extreme Russophile and long-time director of a US-Russian oil company — is Trump’s puzzling choice for Secretary of State.
I say “puzzling” because the long-serving Exxon employee (from age 23!) has no qualifications to be secretary of state — other than a history negotiating major oil deals with countries like Putin’s Russia, which in any sane world would actually disqualify him or at least force a recusal from all State Department dealings with Russia.
But that puzzle disappears if we follow the famous dictum from the Watergate era for uncovering a tangled web of covert campaign acts: “Follow the money.” And perhaps another puzzle is also solved: Why did Putin take such a “fearful risk,” as Frum put it, to “mount a clandestine espionage and disinformation campaign on behalf” of Trump and against Clinton, “when Putin had every reason to expect that he probably would end up facing a President Clinton,” and a tremendous backlash.
You can certainly make a plausible case, as U.S. intelligence agencies do in their bombshell new report, that Putin had plenty of motivation to interfere. He wanted to undermine the legitimacy of U.S. elections and a Clinton Presidency, he blamed Secretary Clinton for “inciting mass protests against his regime,” and he was angry with the U.S. for the Panama Papers leaks.
Those leaks showed a $2 billion trail of offshore accounts and deals that traced back to Putin and his cabal of kleptocrats, who, among other things, were getting rich “trading shares in Rosneft,” Russia’s state-owned (i.e. Putin run) oil monopoly.
But a half trillion dollars to line their pockets and prop up the Russian economy offers a much more tangible motivation for team Putin to get Trump elected. And it was Tillerson who had made the $500 billion oil dealwith Putin that got blocked by sanctions.
Blocking the deal did not just “put Exxon at risk,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained last month the biggest oil deal in history was “expected to change the historical trajectory of Russia.”
The top priority for Putin and the kleptocrats who benefit from his rule is enriching the Kremlin’s coffers and their own, which have been hurt by the sanctions. And Trump’s election already appears to have delivered $11 billion to the Kremlin through sale of a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft, “confounding expectations that the Kremlin’s standoff with the West would scare off major investors,” as Fortune has reported in a must-read piece.
Kleptocracy — and interfering with our election — pays…….
Indeed, if Trump and Tillerson instead end the sanctions that are blocking the Exxon-Rossneft deal, it is going to look suspiciously like a half trillion dollar quid pro quo for Putin’s help getting elected.
And if Trump and Tillerson work together to kill the Paris climate deal, the last best chance to save Americans from catastrophic climate change—and aridiculously good deal for the U.S.— that will look like they are putting Putin’s interests and Exxon’s profits above America’s national interest and the health and well-being of our children. It bears repeating that ExxonMobil’s future is inextricably tied to their stalled oil deal with Putin — and their future drilling plans would benefit from continued global warming and melting of polar ice…….. https://thinkprogress.org/putin-helped-trump-exxon-oil-deal-sanctions-6f169c4a4cd0#.hxgqiytyu
Trump’s US nuclear stance alarms Russia http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/nthamerica/2017/02/25/trump-s-us-nuclear-stance-alarms-russia.html
Published: 10:16 am, Saturday, 25 February 2017 Russian politicians close to the Kremlin say US President Donald Trump’s declared aim of putting the US nuclear arsenal ‘at the top of the pack’ risked triggering a new Cold War-style arms race between Washington and Moscow.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump said the US had fallen behind in its nuclear weapons capacity, a situation he said he would reverse, and he said a treaty limiting Russian and US nuclear arsenals was a bad deal for Washington.
Russian officials issued no reaction, with Friday a public holiday, but pro- Kremlin politicians expressed consternation about the comments from Trump, who Moscow had hoped would usher in new, friendlier relations between the two countries.
‘Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Make America great again’, if that means nuclear supremacy, will return the world to the worst times of the arms race in the ’50s and ’60s,’ said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament.
The president’s remarks in the interview with Reuters were, Kosachev said in a post on his Facebook page, ‘arguably Trump’s most alarming statement on the subject of relations with Russia’.
Over the course of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the US realised that achieving supremacy was dangerous, and accepted the doctrine of parity as the best way to ensure peace, Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page.
‘Are we entering a new era? In my view we need an answer to that question as soon as possible.’
During the US presidential race, Trump said he would try to end the enmity that broke out between the Kremlin and Washington during Barack Obama’s presidency.
But just over a month into the Trump presidency, that prospect has receded, especially with the sacking of Michael Flynn, a leading proponent of warmer ties with Moscow, from his job as national security adviser.
Another pro-Kremlin lawmaker, Alexei Pushkov, wrote on Twitter that Trump’s comments on increasing US nuclear capacity ‘put in doubt the agreement on limiting strategic arms, returning the world to the 20th century’.
He said a Cold War arms treaty laid the foundation for nuclear stability between Moscow and Washington. ‘That needs to be preserved. And the United States cannot achieve decisive superiority.’
‘Instead of trying to achieve an illusory nuclear supremacy over Russia, the US administration should find a solution to the exceptionally complicated nuclear problem of North Korea,’ wrote Pushkov, a member of the defence and security committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament. – See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/nthamerica/2017/02/25/trump-s-us-nuclear-stance-alarms-russia.html#sthash.fwqZWCfw.dpuf
– See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/nthamerica/2017/02/25/trump-s-us-nuclear-stance-alarms-russia.html#sthash.fwqZWCfw.dpuf
– See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/nthamerica/2017/02/25/trump-s-us-nuclear-stance-alarms-russia.html#sthash.fwqZWCfw.dpuf– See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/nthamerica/2017/02/25/trump-s-us-nuclear-stance-alarms-russia.html#sthash.fwqZWCfw.dpuf
Russia to rely less on nuclear weapons as their conventional strength rapidly increases, Business Insider, Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press, 21 Feb 17, MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will continue to see the development of its nuclear forces as a top priority, but the military will rely increasingly on conventional weapons to deter any aggression, the Russian Defense Minister said Tuesday.
Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that weapons such as the long-range Kalibr cruise missiles carried by navy ships, long-range cruise missiles carried by Russian strategic bombers and the land-based short-range Iskander missiles will play an increasingly important role as a non-nuclear deterrent. Those missiles can carry nuclear or conventional warheads.
Shoigu pointed to the new missiles’ debut in the Syrian conflict, saying they have proven themselves well.
“The development of strategic nuclear forces will remain an unconditional priority,” Shoigu said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. “Russian nuclear weapons ensure the guaranteed deterrence of aggression by any foreign power.”
At the same time, he added, “the role of nuclear weapons in deterring a potential aggressor will diminish, primarily thanks to the development of precision weapons.”
Until recently, Russia lacked long-range cruise missiles with conventional warheads similar to those in the U.S. inventory.
The post-Soviet economic meltdown left the Russian armed forces in disarray, but the Kremlin has beefed up the military’s conventional forces in recent years amid tensions with the West……http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-russia-to-rely-increasingly-on-non-nuclear-deterrent-2017-2?IR=T
Oliver Stone: Reports Russia to blame for Ukraine violence are fake news, Belfast Telegraph 04/02/2017 Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has branded reports that Russia is responsible for the escalating violence in Ukraine as “fake news”. The American film-maker said claims Russia was “aggravating the situation” in the warzone were untrue and insisted the United States had a “huge responsibility” for the continuing conflict.
Stone, who interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his new documentary, Ukraine On Fire, also backed President Donald Trump’s bid to improve US-Russian relations.
Speaking at a screening of the film in Los Angeles, Stone claimed America had used the Ukrainian conflict to “blackball” Russia and “keep the concept of Nato alive”.
He told the Press Association: “(America) has a huge role, a huge responsibility and has denied it. It’s completely denied the whole truth of the situation.
“It’s a very painful situation for the people who live in that area but at the same time it’s used by the United States to blackball Russia as much as possible and keep the concept of Nato alive.
“It’s a very important film and a very important subject that has been swept under the rug by our country. “Frankly today I’m shocked they published fake news that the Russians are aggravating the situation when all the casualties are in (rebel-held) Donetsk. He added: “It’s a horrible situation and totally fake.”………
Stone, who won best director Oscars for Platoon and Born On The Fourth Of July, produced the documentary Ukraine On Fire which looks at the country’s revolution in 2014.
The film features an interview with ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych and argues he was the victim of a US-inspired coup with the intent of pushing back against Russia. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/film-tv/news/oliver-stone-reports-russia-to-blame-for-ukraine-violence-are-fake-news-35422955.html
Russia fixes a reactor it initially refused to say was broken Russian nuclear officials say they’ve fixed a generator glitch that more than two months ago shut down its prized, first of a kind AES-2006 reactor under a cloud of embarrassment and initial secrecy. Bellona, January 31, 2017 by Charles Digges, Russian nuclear officials say they’ve fixed a generator glitch that more than two months ago shut down its prized, first of a kind AES-2006 reactor under a cloud of embarrassment and initial secrecy.
The November 10 generator failure at the reactor, which began operating last year at the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant south of Moscow, was kept under wraps by nuclear utility Rosenergoatom.
Official Russian news agencies reported the hiccup six days later, and referenced a statement from Rosenergoatom published the same day. Since then, however, the utility appears to have backdated its initial November 16 Russian language Web post on the incident to November 10.
When the company finally did publish information on the cause of the unexpected shutdown at the flagship reactor, also known as a VVER-1200, which Rosatom is building for a number of foreign customers, it cited a short circuit as the cause.
The apparently re-dated release emphasized that the shutdown was not unusual, and that it had no effect on the radiation safety of the plant. But the utility’s late reporting of the incident gave rise reports in local publications that the plant had suffered an emergency.
On November 15, Bloknot Voronezh, a Web site published in Voronezh Russia, ran a report citing an anonymous witness who reported hearing an explosion near the nuclear plant’s turbine hall, and who spoke of a burned out generator. The witness also reported burned out electrical equipment and a telltale loud noise.
Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom has staked much of its reputation on the successful operation of the AES-2006, which had long been under development. Its launch at the Novovoronezh plant was initially scheduled for 2012, but there was a four-year delay in its construction…….
both the AES-2006 reactor, which is Novovoronezh’s unit 6, and the next reactor from the line at unit No 7 are already seriously behind schedule. The original launch date for unit No 7 passed in 2016.
Previous to that it had been expected to come online in 2014 and 2015 as well, so in total, it’s not on time at all, but rather running five years behind.
But don’t tell that to Belarus, which is currently building an AES-2006 reactor, or Finland, Turkey, and Hungary, who all have orders in for one.
And Rosenergoatom’s initial impulse to not report the shutdown of Novovoronezh’s unit No 6 appeared to be an effort to keep things hushed up. Not until rumors of something far worse bubbled up in the local press did the utility attempt to correct the record by admitting a minor malfunction.
Even then, it apparently rewrote the date when the malfunction occurred on its press release to make it look like it had spoken up earlier. By turns, any of Rosatom’s customers should likely be prepared to receive backdated bills for late reactors when they finally get to building them.
Andrei Ozharovsky contributed to this report from Moscow. http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-01-russia-fixes-a-reactor-it-initially-refused-to-say-was-broken
Trump, Russia take a dangerous first step on nuclear arms control, The Hill, BY RICHARD NEPHEW AND ADAM MOUNT, 2 Feb 17 In a recent interview with the the London Times, Donald Trump suggested that he would offer to lift U.S. sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as part of a nuclear arms control agreement.
At a time when tensions between the two countries are growing, a verifiable and stabilizing new arms control agreement would be genuinely welcome. But a bad deal would only make matters worse.
The comments about sanctions relief raise real questions about whether the incoming administration is willing to pay any price to improve relations with Russia (and why).
Today, both countries are making investments to replace nuclear systems that were first fielded during the Cold War. An agreement to limit these modernization plans could save money, stabilize the nuclear balance, and be safer to maintain and operate.
Under President Obama, the United States found that it could meet its deterrence requirements after a further one-third reduction in deployed strategic warheads, beyond what was agreed in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in 2010, and offered this deal to Russia.
A new arms control agreement would be difficult to achieve today. Putin declined Obama’s one-third offer and has signaled that he is not willing to negotiate over his most dangerous systems, its vast and opaque stocks of low-yield and short-range weapons.
At the same time, Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by developing a new prohibited cruise missile and indicated no real willingness to address the concerns of the United States and other treaty participants. Arms control accords are among the most consequential and the most difficult negotiations in the world, features that will surely attract Trump — but changing Putin’s position will be a very tall order. …….http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/317403-trump-russia-take-a-dangerous-first-step-on-nuclear-arms
Mikhail Gorbachev: It ‘looks as if the world is preparing for war’ as nuclear threat re-emerges, Telegraph 27 JANUARY 2017 Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that a new arms race means “the nuclear threat once again seems real” as he stated it “looks as if the world is preparing for war”.
The former Soviet leader called on Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to work together to take steps to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal.
“Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defence doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war,” he wrote in an article for Timemagazine.
Mr Gorbachev said the US and Russian presidents should champion a resolution at the UN Security Council to guard against a nuclear conflict.
“I think the initiative to adopt such a resolution should come from Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin – the presidents of two nations that hold over 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility,” he wrote……
Mr Gorbachev, who detailed his own efforts at denuclearisation during the dying days of the Cold War in the 1980s, issued a stark warning of a world where weapons of mass destruction were becoming cheaper and more readily available.
“Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defence systems that undermine strategic stability,” he wrote.
He said his proposed UN Security Council resolution should state “nuclear war is unacceptable and must never be fought”…….http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/27/mikhail-gorbachev-looks-world-preparing-war-nuclear-threat-re/
At least one person has died in an explosion at a power plant in central Russia, media are reporting, citing Emergencies Ministry sources. The blast caused metal structures to collapse over a 600-square-meter area.
“According to preliminary reports, a gas mixture exploded at the power plant,” TASS news agency reported, citing a source at the Emergencies Ministry of the Penza region.
The total number of victims is yet unclear, the source said. However, TASS has reported that one person died, citing the Russian Center for Disaster Medicine.
The building of the TPP-1 power plant has been partially destroyed, and some 600 square meters of its roof are said to have collapsed, according to RIA Novosti, citing a source at Emergencies Services.
The incident has not affected the city’s heating supply, TASS reported, citing the head of the Emergencies Ministry’s press service, Anna Shupilova.
“The incident did not affect the heating system of the city; the whole heating system is operating in normal mode,” she said.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Source for this diagram ; http://www.gazprom.com/f/posts/01/207595/annual-report-2012-eng.pdf
Background on Plant
The Novocherkasskaya GRES coal-fired power plant is owned by OGK-2 (Second Generating Company of the Wholesale Power Market), a subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom. The plant is located near the city of Novocherkassk, and consists of eight 264-MW coal-fired units. Construction was originally approved in 1952; the first unit went online in 1965, and the final, eighth unit in 1972. The plant has since been converted to run on gas as a supplementary fuel, but the primary fuel is still coal.
The plant was formerly owned by OGK-6, which was also majority-owned by Gazprom; Gazprom merged OGK-6 into OGK-2 in November 2011. The boilers in Units 6 and 7 were replaced in 2005 and 2009, respectively.
Description of Expansion
In 2011, OGK-2 signed a contract for the construction of a 330-MW ninth coal-fired unit at Novocherkasskaya. The construction contractor is SWECO Soyuz Engineering, a subsidiary of SOYUZ Holding. Unit 9 will run on circulating fluidized bed technology. Total construction cost will be about $700 million. The boiler was built by U.S. company Foster Wheeler. Completion was originally scheduled for November 2015. In July 2015, the provincial government said the unit was on track to be completed in late 2015 or early 2016.
The unit was successfully tested in December 2015. The unit was completed and brought online in July 2016.[8
Russia’s Rosatom submits bid for South African nuclear project – TASS, Reuters Jan 24 Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom has submitted a bid for a nuclear power project in South Africa, TASS news agency cited the company’s General Director Alexei Likhachev as saying on Tuesday.
Rosatom had been considered the leading candidate for a tender to build 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity in South Africa by 2030, but South African nuclear state agency Necsa said last year it was no longer “the frontrunner”. (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by Jack Stubbs) http://www.reuters.com/article/russia-safrica-nuclear-idUSR4N1F7023
Russia, Kuwait Discuss Possible Construction of Nuclear Power Plant MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia and Kuwait discussed possible construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP) as well as cooperation in the spheres of petroleum services and gas, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 broadcaster on Sunday…….https://sputniknews.com/business/201701221049880931-russia-kuwait-nuclear-power-plant/