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Saudi Arabia’s push for nuclear power and nuclear weapons ability has met an obstacle

Canada may secure America’s nuclear nonproliferation bacon, 

In the latest you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up event, Saudi Arabia’s furious campaign of economic retaliation against Canada — in response to Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland’s criticism of the arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists — threatens to dash Westinghouse’s hopes for a lucrative nuclear deal with the Saudis. And, ironically, it may help to preserve tough rules on nuclear exports (“gold standard”) that the Saudi deal might otherwise scuttle.

On Aug. 7, the Saudis recalled their ambassador and expelled Canada’s ambassador, canceled flights to and from Canada, ordered Saudi students and even Saudis in Canadian hospitals to leave Canada, ordered the immediate sale of Saudi-owned Canadian assets “no matter the cost,” and — what is most important for our story — suspended all new business with Canada.

Why this matters takes a bit of background. The story has, as they say, many moving parts.

The White House has been working hard for months to negotiate a U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperation agreement to permit the sale of Westinghouse nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia. Although headquartered in Pennsylvania, it was until recently owned by Toshiba Nuclear Energy Holdings. But it is headquartered near Pittsburgh and it has over 5,000 US employees in Pennsylvania, an important political state.

The company has not done well recently. After losing money through its mismanagement of two large US nuclear construction projects, Westinghouse was forced seek protection in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017. The one remaining two-unit construction project formerly run by Westinghouse, the Vogtle plant in Georgia, now has an estimated completion cost of $27 billion, double the original cost estimate. Toshiba, the parent company, which itself lost money from backing Westinghouse, decided it had enough and sold Westinghouse to Brookfield Asset Management. The deal became final on Aug. 8, and thereby pulled Westinghouse out of bankruptcy. The kicker is that Brookfield is a Canadian-owned company, one that presumably falls under the new Saudi edict.

The Trump White House is unlikely to let go. The Saudi nuclear business was supposed to be worth untold billions. The Saudis had announced they would start with a twin-unit nuclear plant and claimed they would go on to build a dozen more. That they would do so, and that they would choose Westinghouse was always implausible — it made much more sense for the Saudis to hire a South Korean construction team, and there are cheaper alternatives to nuclear power.

Last fall, the White House was reported to be “flexible” on the gold standard, a critical nonproliferation issue. This concerned whether to leave open in the U.S.-Saudi agreement the possibility of the Saudis reprocessing their spent (irradiated) fuel to extract the contained plutonium and, even more importantly, operating uranium enrichment plants. Such enrichment plants could also produce highly enriched uranium. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium are, of course, the basic nuclear explosives in nuclear weapons. Conceding that Saudi Arabia had the right to produce these explosives would be a major setback for US nonproliferation policy.

The United States had previously negotiated a gold standard agreement with the United Arab Emirates that ruled out reprocessing and uranium enrichment. The Saudis, and their paid supporters in Washington, have insisted that the Kingdom is too proud and too important — being the major weapons buyer in the world — to submit to such conditions. Moreover, the Saudi Crown Prince, in an interview during his charm tour of the United States, famously said that, although he was negotiating an agreement for “peaceful” nuclear cooperation and did not intend to make bombs, if Iran produced a nuclear weapon, so would Saudi Arabia. He made it unambiguous that Saudi Arabia intended to match Iran in uranium enrichment, and that the purpose was not to make fuel, but to have the capacity to make nuclear explosives.

Which presented a dilemma for the White House. It wanted to accommodate the Saudis, but the gold standard is precisely the restriction it wants to impose on Iran, and letting Saudi Arabia get into enrichment would make it much harder to get Iran to quit the technology. Significantly, the Israelis urged a tough US nonproliferation standard for the Saudis. The Trump administration told Congress it would stick with the tough standard. Nevertheless, hard cases make bad law, and the betting within the Beltway has been that the Trump White House, in its eagerness for the putatively lucrative deal, might soften the nonproliferation rules for the Saudis.

Now, however, the Saudi hysterical response to Canadian criticism has upended the betting. The Saudis appear to have left themselves no room for retreat. Nor does it seem that Canada will back down. If that remains so, it should become clear that the Westinghouse option is dead and that it will not help to weaken U.S. nuclear export rules. In that case, the nonproliferation gold standard may be left standing, which would be a clear win for nonproliferation.

Victor Gilinsky served on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. He is program adviser for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993.


August 15, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

More evidence of Israeli secret nuclear bomb test – radioactive sheep in Australia

Radioactive sheep shed light on secret nuclear weapons test, Christopher Carbone, Fox News, August 14, 2018 Newly discovered data from radioactive sheep provides strong evidence that a mysterious “double flash” detected almost 39 years ago near a remote island group was a nuclear explosion.

Ever since the flash was observed by a US Vela satellite orbiting above Earth in September 1979, there’s been speculation that it was produced by a nuclear weapon test by Israel. International researchers in the journal Science & Global Security analyzed previously unpublished results of radiation testing at a US lab of thyroid organs from sheep in southeastern Australia in order to make their determination.

The flash was located in the area of Marion and Prince Edward islands, which are in the South Indian Ocean about halfway between Africa and Antarctica.

“A new publication sheds further light on the Vela Incident of 1979,” said Professor Nick Wilson of Otago University at Wellington, who highlighted the findings but was not involved with the study itself. “[The research] adds to the evidence base that this was an illegal nuclear weapons test, very likely to have been conducted by Israel with assistance from the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Wilson, an epidemiologist and member of the Australia-based Medical Association for the Prevention of War, said the test would have violated the Limited Test Ban Treaty signed in 1963, and urged the United Nations to mount a full inquiry.

The researchers conclude that iodine-131, which is an unstable radioactive form of the element iodine found in the thyroids of some Australian sheep, “would be consistent with them having grazed in the path of a potential radioactive fallout plume from a [Sept. 22, 1979] low-yield nuclear test in the Southern Indian Ocean.”

Thyroid samples from sheep killed in Melbourne were regularly sent to the US for testing — monthly in 1979 but also in the 1950s and 1980s, researchers say.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the sheep had been grazing in an area hit by rain four days after the flash incident was observed, which would have been in the downwind path from the suspected explosion site.

Researchers also said the detection of a “hydroacoustic signal” from underwater listening devices at the time is another piece of evidence pointing to a nuclear test.

Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a nuclear program, dismissed the claim that it was responsible for the 1979 incident.

srael’s ambassador to New Zealand, Itzhak Gerberg, told the Herald, when asked if Israel was responsible for the explosion: “Simply a ridiculous assumption that does not hold water.”

However, the country’s former Knesset speaker, Avrum Burg, told a conference in 2013 that “Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons” and called for public discussion.

Commenting on the findings, US nuclear weapons expert Leonard Weiss of Stanford University said in the online Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the “important” new evidence “removes virtually all doubt” that the flash was a small-yield nuclear explosion.

Weiss added that there was “growing circumstantial evidence” that it was conducted by Israel.

“Israel was the only country that had the technical ability and policy motivation to carry out such a clandestine test,” he said.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Israel flagrantly violated the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

A double-flash from the past and Israel’s nuclear arsenal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Leonard Weiss, 12 Aug 18 , August 3, 2018 

For more than half a century, Israel has maintained a cover of silence and opacity regarding its nuclear program and arsenal, backed up by the threat of severe punishment and persecution for any Israeli (see Mordechai Vanunu) who dares publicly breach the cover. In return for this silence, plus a pledge of restraint on certain nuclear development activities, the United States has reportedly agreed in writing not to pressure Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or get rid of its nuclear arsenal. (See this recent New Yorker article by Adam Entous.) US policy on Israel also includes its own public silence concerning Israeli nuclear weapons. But this policy should change as a result of a new scientific study of an event that took place nearly 40 years ago, during the Carter Administration. That study makes it virtually certain that the event was an illegal nuclear test. This strengthens previous analyses concluding that Israel likely carried out a nuclear test in violation of US law and the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The response to this new study will determine whether the United States and the international community of nations are serious about nuclear arms control.

On September 22, 1979, a US Vela satellite, designed to detect clandestine nuclear tests, recorded a “flash” off the coast of South Africa that every nuclear scientist monitoring the satellite’s detectors at the time believed fit the classic description of a nuclear explosion. President Jimmy Carter’s book based on his White House diaries notes that he was immediately informed of the “flash” by his national security team; with the information came speculation that the event was an Israeli nuclear test at sea, with South African participation. ……..

Important new and dispositive evidence that the “flash” was a nuclear test has been added recently by two respected scientists, Christopher Wright of the Australian Defense Force Academy and Lars-Eric De Geer of the Swedish Defense Research Agency (Ret.), writing in the journal Science & Global Security. (The 22 September 1979 Vela Incident: The Detected Double-Flash, Science & Global Security, 25:3, 95-124, DOI: 10.1080/08929882.2017.1394047) ……….

The new study by Wright and De Geer should receive wide attention because it provides a test of the commitment by the international community to nuclear arms control and nonproliferation norms. While a comprehensive nuclear test ban is yet to be achieved, the nations of the world did manage to put in place an extremely important arms control, non-proliferation, and environmental protection measure called The Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT). This treaty, which went into force in 1963, bans nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water, thus rendering legal only those nuclear tests performed underground. Israel signed the treaty in 1963 and ratified it in 1964. The Israeli nuclear test puts Israel in violation of the LTBT, which has been signed by 108 countries, including all the officially recognized nuclear weapon states plus India, Pakistan, and Iran. Israel would also be in violation of the Glenn Amendment to the Arms Export Control Act, a US law passed in 1977, requiring the cutoff of military assistance to any country setting off a nuclear explosion. The president can waive the sanction, but he has to face the issue.

In the meantime, what should be a consequence of the flagrant violation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty?

At a time when public demands for nuclear transparency are loudly and justifiably trumpeted toward Iran and North Korea, which are pariahs in many Western eyes, it is illogical at best and hypocritical at worst for the world, and particularly the United States, to maintain public silence on Israel’s nuclear program, especially in the face of a violation of an important nuclear norm. For the sake of future progress on arms control, on steps to reduce nuclear risk, and on honest public as well as private communication among governments and their constituents to achieve such progress, it is time to end an existing double standard that has allowed Israel to escape accountability for developing advanced nuclear weapons by violating a major international treaty.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Israel, politics international | Leave a comment

Egypt going into a huge debt to Russia for building Dabaa nuclear plant

Middle East Monitor 10th Aug 2018 , Egypt will obtain a license to build the Dabaa nuclear plant by mid-2020,
the Russian deputy minister of industry and trade said. Georgy Kalamanov
added that Russian experts are currently completing designing the nuclear
plant and surveying the area where it will be built.

In 2015, Russia andEgypt signed a deal which would see Russia build Egypt’s first nuclear
power plant in the Dabaa area, located on Egypt’s northwestern coast.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cairo would access a loan for the project
from Moscow. In 2016, the Egyptian official Gazette reported that the loan
would amount to $25 billion, which would finance 85 per cent of the cost of
contracts signed for the plant’s construction. The loan repayment period
is 35 years. Egypt will finance the remaining 15 per cent.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Egypt, marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Will Iran go nuclear over reimposed sanctions?

 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Ezra Friedman, August 7, 2018 

Yesterday US President Donald Trump issued an executive order restoring one set of economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama-era nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The sanctions cover Iranian trade in items including metals such as gold and steel, automobiles, and aircraft.

In early November, Trump plans to reintroduce even more crippling sanctions on Iranian oil and banking. Collectively, these sanctions are likely to cause immense damage to the Iranian economy. Even carpets and foodstuffs are being sanctioned by the United States. The European Union and the three European countries that signed the nuclear deal (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) are attempting to assemble an economic package that will save the deal from complete collapse, but so far with little progress and growing frustration on all sides. A joint statement issued yesterday by European foreign ministers says they “deeply regret” the White House decision.

By reimposing sanctions, Trump aims to force the current regime in Iran to negotiate a more comprehensive nuclear deal, or to inflict enough economic pain to change the regime’s behavior—if not the regime itself. Iran now finds itself in the crosshairs of a president who has made it his personal mission to aggressively combat Tehran.

Trump’s strategy might not have the intended effect, but it is likely to cause Iran to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Does that mean Iran will go all Pyongyang and start developing nuclear weapons? Probably not. But unless a new nuclear deal can be made, Iran can be expected to resume its pre-JCPOA program of uranium enrichment, taking the country to the threshold of becoming a nuclear weapons state.

Why Iran will probably leave the JCPOA. When the JCPOA was signed three years ago, its supporters hailed it as a breakthrough against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a chance to welcome Iran back into the fold of nations following a long exile that began in 1979. The nuclear deal’s detractors claimed that the agreement was not broad enough, because it allowed Iran to continue its ballistic missile program unabated and to support its proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen—thereby continuing to push an agenda of regional hegemony.

The May 8 withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA amplified the debate. The United States is pursuing an almost fanatical campaign, lobbying its allies and partners across the globe, and educating them about the latest sanctions package—as well as the penalties for noncompliance. Critics say the sanctions regime will be ineffective because China and other countries will take advantage of the situation. But others, including several major foreign companies, are taking the sanctions seriously, in some cases withdrawing altogether from Iran.

What is clear is that sanctions will make an already difficult domestic economic situation worse in Iran. Iranians are largely young, educated, and tired of the regime’s policies. Many are angry about the billions of dollars spent in support of foreign wars, and protests are escalating. Iran also finds itself overextended regionally with challenges to its grand strategy in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria. While Tehran’s ally Bashar al-Assad will remain in power, Iran will now find itself in competition with Russia for dominance in Syria, both economically and politically, despite the high price Tehran has paid in both men and money to support Assad………..

Why it’s not in Iran’s interest to leave the NPT. Iran has several options once it leaves the JCPOA. Some statements by Iranian leaders suggest that Iran will race to acquire a nuclear device, ramping up its nuclear program so as to achieve this goal as quickly as possible, either overtly or covertly. Iran’s critics point to its past violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the early 2000s, confirmed by an Israeli intelligence operation earlier this year. (Iran has been a party to the treaty since 1970.)

While frightening, this scenario is unlikely, because it would place Iran in the same category as North Korea: a pariah in the eyes of the international community. On a strategic level, Tehran is keenly aware of this possibility and wants to avoid it at all costs. Even if Iran would like to have a militarized nuclear program, the cost would be massive if not unbearable for the regime.

………Rather than withdrawing from the NPT, it is more likely that Iran will return to something akin to a pre-JCPOA scenario, with a nuclear program that is enriching uranium to 20 percent or more without the full oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency—which will almost certainly lose its current ability to access Iran’s known non-military nuclear sites upon Iran’s exit from the JCPOA. In this scenario, Iran will have a short “breakout period”—the time needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build its first nuclear device—estimated at five weeks to a year.It is important to note that there is a strong likelihood that some trading partners considered important to Iran economically—such as China, India, Turkey, and the European Union—will at least partially flout US extraterritorial sanctions. Such a scenario would be the best of both worlds for Tehran, allowing the regime to achieve the prestige and tacit recognition of a nuclear program that is illicit in nature, all the while not being subject to UN Security Council resolutions and maintaining its standing in the international community……….

August 11, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Israel said to have 300 Nuclear Weapons. And Some Are in the ‘Ocean.

Israel Might Have as Many as 300 Nuclear Weapons. And Some Are in the ‘Ocean.’ National Interest
Thanks to Germany, 
by Sebastien Roblin, 24 July 18
Israel has  never officially admitted to possessing nuclear weapons.

Unofficially, Tel Aviv wants everyone to know it has them, and doesn’t hesitate to make thinly-veiled references to its willingness to use them if confronted by an existential threat. Estimates on the size of Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile range from 80 to 300 nuclear weapons, the latter number exceeding China’s arsenal……..

Though Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is preoccupied by the fear that an adversary might one day attempt a first strike to destroy its nuclear missiles and strike planes on the ground before they can retaliate. Currently, the only hostile states likely to acquire such a capability are Iran or Syria.

To forestall such a strategy, Israeli has aggressively targeted missile and nuclear technology programs in Iraq, Syria and Iran with air raids, sabotage and assassination campaigns . However, it also has developed a second-strike capability—that is, a survivable weapon which promises certain nuclear retaliation no matter how effective an enemy’s first strike……….In the 1990s the United States declined to provide Israel with submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles due to the rules of the Missile Technology Control Regime prohibiting transfer of cruise missile with a range exceeding 300 miles.

Instead, Tel Aviv went ahead and developed their own. In 2000, U.S. Navy radars detected test launches of Israeli SLCMs in the Indian Ocean that struck a target 930 miles away. The weapon is generally believed to be the Popeye Turbo—an adaptation of a subsonic air-launched cruise missile that can allegedly carry a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. However, the SLCM’s characteristics are veiled in secrecy and some sources suggest a different missile type entirely is used. An Israeli Dolphin submarine may have struck the Syrian port of Latakia with a conventional cruise missile in 2013 due to reports of a shipment of Russian P-800 anti-ship missiles.

July 30, 2018 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump ready to go to war against Iran?

Don’t Let Trump Go to War With Iran Fifteen years after the U.S. entered Iraq, the president is inching us closer to another unnecessary fight. 

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

US to open new military bases in Iraq, Kuwait

US to open new military bases in Iraq, Kuwait: Reports , Press TV , 14 July 18   

New reports say the United States will open new bases in Iraq and Kuwait in defiance of widespread calls to end its military presence in the region.

The Erbil-based BasNews reported on Friday that the US is planning to inaugurate its third military base in Iraq, near the town of al-Qa’im in western Anbar Province bordering Syria.

The report quoted a source from Anbar Province as saying that the new American facility will join the already operating US airbases in Iraq, namely Ain al-Assad in Anbar and Habbaniya, both in Anbar.

The source also noted that the new base will oversee several Anbar cities, the western desert of Iraq and the strategic international road connecting Baghdad to Damascus………

Iraqi officials have in numerous occasions called on the US-led coalition forces to withdraw from their homeland.

Separately on Friday, Kuwait’s al-Rai newspaper reported that the US will soon open a major military air hub near the country’s international airport.

Citing a statement from the US command in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti daily said the facility is intended to serve as a strategic military logistics supply point and the largest aerial port of debarkation in the Middle East.

The facility, the statement said, is further meant to fill the gap until the opening of West Al-Mubarak Airbase in Kuwait in 2023.

“Once finished, the total functional space at ‘Cargo City’ will feature an area of nearly 33,000 square meters,” said Captain Sean Murphy, a civil engineering flight officer in charge of the $32 million project……


July 16, 2018 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Concern that Iran might abandon nuclear deal, – package will not fully compensate for U.S. sanctions

Germany says Iran package will not fully compensate for U.S. sanctions, 6 july 18 

VIENNA (Reuters) – Germany’s foreign minister said on Friday world powers would not be able to fully compensate for companies leaving Iran due to new U.S. sanctions, but warned Tehran that abandoning its nuclear deal would cause more harm to its economy.

“We will not be able to compensate for everything that arises from companies pulling out of Iran,” Heiko Maas told reporters before a round of talks among the remaining parties to the deal.

He said he did not think this round of talks would end negatively but it was likely more negotiations would be needed on the issue.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; writing by John Irish; editing by Parisa Hafezi

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran warns that it may reduce co-operation with IAEA if USA increases sanctions

Iran threatens to cut cooperation with nuclear body after Trump move, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, -5 July 18 

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, President Hassan Rouhani told the body’s head on Wednesday, after he warned U.S. President Donald Trump of “consequences” of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales.

In May, Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

“Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA,” Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying after meeting IAEA head Yukiya Amano in Vienna.

“The responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation,” he added.

Rouhani said earlier in the day Tehran would stand firm against U.S. threats to cut Iranian oil sales.

“The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero … It shows they have not thought about its consequences,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by IRNA.

On Tuesday, Rouhani hinted at a threat to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries if Washington tries to cut its exports.

He did not elaborate, but an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander explicitly said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile U.S. action.

“If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Ismail Kowsari was quoted as saying by the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website.

Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force, in charge of foreign operations for the Revolutionary Guards, said in a letter published on IRNA: “I kiss your (Rouhani’s) hand for expressing such wise and timely comments, and I am at your service to implement any policy that serves the Islamic Republic.”

Rouhani, in Vienna trying to salvage the nuclear deal, said U.S. sanctions were a “crime and aggression”, and called on European and other governments to stand up to Trump.

“Iran will survive this round of U.S. sanctions as it has survived them before. This U.S. government will not stay in office forever … But history will judge other nations based on what they do today,” he said.

Rouhani told reporters that if the remaining signatories – the Europeans Britain, France and Germany as well as China and Russia – can guarantee Iran’s benefits: “Iran will remain in the nuclear deal without the United States.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

French engineering group to help Saudi Arabia towards nuclear power

World Nuclear News 4th July 2018 , French engineering group Assystem is to conduct site characterisation and
impact studies for Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear power plant under a
contract from the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy
(KA-CARE). The contract was awarded recently following an international
call for tenders launched by KA-CARE. Assystem said the services to be
provided under the contract include site characterisation studies –
including geological and seismic analyses – as well as studies on the
impact of a nuclear power plant on the environment, demographics and on
electricity grids. These services will be provided over an 18-month period.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

UAE further delays launch of first nuclear reactor 

5 July 18 Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation now says first reactor to come online in late 2019 or early 2020,  The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday that its first nuclear reactor would come online in late 2019 or early 2020, further delaying the launch of the Arab World’s first atomic power station….

July 6, 2018 Posted by | politics, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

In the race to sell off nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, South Korea looks like the winner

South Korea’s KEPCO shortlisted to bid for Saudi nuclear project, Reuters Staff, 1 July 18   SEOUL  – State-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (015760.KS) (KEPCO) had been shortlisted to bid for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia along with the United States, France, China and Russia, South Korea’s energy ministry said on Sunday.

“We were informed by our Saudi counterpart, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, that KEPCO was shortlisted for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the winner of the tender was expected to be chosen in 2019. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, plans to build two nuclear plants to diversify its energy supply and has been in talks with companies from South Korea, the United States, Russia and China for the tender.

In May, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met South Korean Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu in Seoul. Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event that he was “optimistic” about South Korea being on the tender shortlist.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power user, is seeking to export its nuclear reactors abroad.

In 2009, a South Korean consortium led by KEPCO won an $18.6 billion (14.08 billion pounds) deal to construct four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates, the country’s ever nuclear export success.

KEPCO was also selected as a preferred bidder in December last year for Toshiba’s NuGen nuclear project in Britain and the Korean company planned to talk with Toshiba to buy a stake in the project.

Reporting By Jane Chung and Cynthia Kim. Editing by Jane Merriman

July 2, 2018 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, South Korea | Leave a comment

Unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict prevents region-wide prohibition of nuclear weapons

Palestinians and Nuclear Weapons, The National Interest, 
The unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict is one of the major factors preventing an effective region-wide prohibition of nuclear weapons.,
 by Paul R. Pillar , June 29, 2018

The Palestinians

“……… Consider the issue of nuclear weapons. Most of the states of the region have actively supported diplomacy aimed at making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone. Israel, backed by the United States and now especially by the Trump administration, has opposed this diplomacy and looked for ways to impede it. These lines of contention were apparent this spring at a preparatory meeting for the next quinquennial review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Israel argues that restrictions on nuclear weapons cannot be considered in isolation from other regional security issues. On the face of it, that is a valid argument, given the possible role of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against perceived non-nuclear threats. But Israel and its U.S. backer define the stumbling block in more Israel-specific terms. The Trump administration’s representative at the preparatory committee meeting spoke of many ostensible and mostly vaguely worded reasons to slow-roll diplomacy on a regional nuclear weapons-free zone, but the specific problem he singled out was “the non-recognition of Israel by some regional states.”

Any talk of recognition or non-recognition of Israel should immediately evoke the Arab League peace initiative , which has been on the table since 2002 and commits all the Arab states to recognition of, and peace with, the state of Israel contingent on a withdrawal from occupied territories and a just settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem.
Subsequent modification of the initiative has made clear the Arabs’ acceptance of land swaps that would not require rigid adherence to boundaries that existed prior to the 1967 war. Saudi Arabia took the lead in constructing this peace proposal. The initiative is still on the table. Despite the dalliance with Israel of de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman and reports that he is willing to throw Palestinians under the bus as he pursues his own agenda, his government still subscribes to the terms of the initiative.
……… Full recognition requires the players in question to recognize the national rights of all other players and not to occupy someone else’s territory indefinitely. Also fair: amid much talk about recognizing Israel’s right to exist, it surely is just as reasonable to insist on recognition of the Palestinians’ right to exist. The conclusion: the unresolved Israel-Palestinian conflict is one of the major factors preventing an effective region-wide prohibition of nuclear weapons.

That the Trump administration has gone all in with the Israeli government’s wishes while continuing to claim for itself the principal mediator’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute augurs very badly for any settlement of the conflict in the foreseeable future. The pessimism is only accentuated when taking into account the personal and financial interests of would-be U.S. mediators that make it understandable for Palestinian leaders to reject them as hopelessly biased. The kind of suffering that has played out in Gaza and along the Gaza fence is one reason to regret the dim prospects for peace on this issue.

July 2, 2018 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Questions on whether Saudi Arabia plans for nuclear weapons

Analysis: Israeli regime backs Saudi nuclear ambitions: Tactic or Strategy?, July 1, 2018 – (AhlulBayt News Agency) – On Tuesday, the Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Tel Aviv will support Saudi Arabia’s entry to the club of nuclear states if Riyadh signs the treaty preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, NPT.

Steinitz, addressing World Gas Conference in Washington, said that the Israeli regime supports the development of nuclear power in the Arab kingdom if it includes the gold standard protections and if the kingdom purchases uranium from the US.

The remarks on the Saudi nuclear ambitions on the one hand signal the sensitivity and significance of a nuclear Saudi Arabia in the Israeli security strategy and on the other hand carry hallmarks of an eased tone of Tel Aviv on Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions after the Arab monarchy showed a will to support Arab-Israeli diplomatic normalization efforts. Saudis are winning the Israeli positive stance as they are deeply engaged in an endeavor to pave the way for the “deal of the century” on al-Quds (Jerusalem) through putting strains on the Palestinians to bow.

The oil-rich Arab monarchy has designed ambitious plans to develop the nuclear energy as part of a futuristic roadmap. A royal decree issued in 2010 by then-King Abdullah led to setting up a nuclear power and renewable energies research center, dubbed (KA-Care), in the capital Riyadh. The facility was meant to suggest solutions to address energy and water needs of the country in the future. A year later, the center announced the kingdom aims to build 16 nuclear reactors to produce about 20 percent of its electricity by 2032.

The nuclear roadmap resulted in nuclear cooperation agreements with a series of nuclear technology holders, including France, Argentina, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. According to the deals, Saudi Arabia will see its nuclear industry fully operational and production-ready by 2040. In June 2017, Prince Mohammed bin Salman replaced Prince Mohammad bin Nayef as crown prince. The young crown prince very soon started his motion to get the US green light and technology allowing the Saudis to enrich the uranium on their soil. Media reports suggested that nuclear cycle acquisition was a top case in the prince’s negotiations with the American officials during his March visit to the US.

Despite the Saudi show of desire to become a nuclear state, some factors affect the nuclear technology acquisition possibility: The argument on the type of nuclear power use, Tel Aviv’s role-playing in this course, and the Israeli insistence on keeping its military superiority in the region through nuclear weapons monopoly.

Now a question presents itself: Is the Israeli compromise to the Saudi nuclear ambitions a fruit of Prince Mohammed-led pro-normalization policy, concession to the Israelis, and turning a blind eye to US embassy relocation to al-Quds at the price of the Palestinian cause?

…….. Another reason for Saudi Arabia to move towards developing nuclear arms is its military weakness and vulnerability caused by its geopolitical position. With its 2.15 million square kilometers of area size, Saudi Arabia is a big country. The capital is in the center, but the income sources and facilities, like oil facilities, are located on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea coasts, hence being an easy target for military action from air and sea. The failure to win a war waged against Yemen in 2015 after three years has exhibited the Saudi military weakness.

But Saudi nuclear ambitions are unlikely to materialize despite Riyadh’s compliance with the Western and Israeli interests in the Palestinian dispute. An unclear Saudi future caused by the fragility of the Al Saud family rule prevents a US go-ahead to nuclear technology acquisition.

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment