nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The worst performing countries for climate action- USA and Saudi Arabia

US, Saudi Arabia back-of-the-pack on curbing climate change,  Researchers have identified the United States and Saudi Arabia as the climate change laggards. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-saudi-arabia-back-of-the-pack-on-curbing-climate-changeThe United States and Saudi Arabia rank last when it comes to curbing climate change among the 56 nations accounting for 90 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Monday.A large number of laggards means the world is dangerously off-track when it comes to slashing the carbon pollution that has already amplified droughts, flooding and deadly heatwaves worldwide, they reported on the margins of UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

Only a few countries have started to implement strategies to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit),” the cornerstone target of the 2015 Paris climate treaty, according to NewClimate Institute and Germanwatch, an NGO.

Most governments “lack the political will to phase out fossil fuels with the necessary speed.”  Continue reading

Advertisements

December 11, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge 

Guardian, Jonathan Wattsand Ben DohertyMon 10 Dec 2018 , Move shocks delegates at UN cnference as ministers fly in for final week of climate talks The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C.

After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of high-level discussions.

It has also raised fears among scientists that the US president, Donald Trump, is going from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively undermining them alongside a coalition of climate deniers.

Two months ago, representatives from the world’s governments hugged after agreeing on the 1.5C report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commissioned to spell out the dire consequences should that level of warming be exceeded and how it can be avoided.

Reaching a global consensus was a painstaking process involving thousands of scientists sifting through years of research and diplomats working through the night to ensure the wording was acceptable to all nations.

But when it was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on Saturday, the four oil allies – with Saudi Arabia as the most obdurate – rejected a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they said it should merely be “noted”, which would make it much easier for governments to ignore. The motion has not yet been able to pass as a result of the lack of consensus.

t opened up a rift at the talks that will be hard to close in the coming five days. During the plenary, the EU, a bloc of the 47 least developed countries, as well as African and Latin and South American nations, all spoke in favour of the report. Several denounced the four countries trying to dilute its importance. ………

Scientists were also outraged. “It is troubling. Saudi Arabia has always had bad behaviour in climate talks, but it could be overruled when it was alone or just with Kuwait. That it has now been joined by the US and Russia is much more dangerous,” said Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy in the Union of Concerned Scientists….

Ministers have only five days to establish a rulebook for the Paris agreement. A wild card is the role of the host nation, Poland – the most coal-dependant nation in Europe – which will chair the final week of the meeting………

As well as acceptance of the report, there are several other potential fights brewing regarding transparency rules for reporting emissions and proposals for wealthy high emitters to provide financial support to poorer nations struggling to adapt. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/09/us-russia-ally-saudi-arabia-water-down-climate-pledges-un

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium – the cancer-causing weapon still taking its toll in Iraq

Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq Counter Punch, by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR , DECEMBER 7, 2018, At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.

Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”

Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren’t soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq’s repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.

This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.

Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren’t the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.

Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.

Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.

When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert winds for decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.

In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause “permanent lung damage.” In the late, 1950s Al Gore’s father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.

After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton’s orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.

Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it’s not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.

The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US’s NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.

If the US has kept silent, the Brits haven’t. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths.”

The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn’t. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a “nuclear cocktail,” containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.

Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy’s sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller.: “The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced.”

Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports: “during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant… created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium”

But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered “safe”. He knows where to place the blame. “There can be no reasonable doubt about this,” Rokke told Australian journalist John Pilger. “As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”

Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there’s a grim one that will stay around for an eternity.

This article is adapted from Been Brown So Long, It Looked Like Green to Me.   https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/07/cancer-as-weapon-of-mass-destruction-poppy-bushs-radioactive-war-on-iraq/

 

December 10, 2018 Posted by | environment, health, Iraq, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia tried to erase meaning of UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming  

Climate science on 1.5C erased at UN talks as US and Saudis step in Climate Home News,  08/12/2018In a moment of drama in Poland, countries closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming  By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen

Four big oil and gas producers blocked UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as a meeting in Poland descended into acrimony on Saturday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary. “This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying islands and coastal villages in the Arctic. But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45% by 2030……….

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

It was a long and emotional plenary meeting to mark the halfway point in a fortnight of negotiations.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talksfrom welcoming the most influential climate science report in years – and met backlash from a broad range of poor, developing and rich countries. The battle was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia wanted the final statement to merely “note” the UN science report on the effects of 1.5C rise in the global temperature. But a call that started with the alliance of small island states pushed to “welcome” the findings.

The plenary chair’s attempt to find a compromise fell flat, setting the scene for a big political fight when ministers arrive in Katowice next week.

And that wasn’t the only moment of drama on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the Paris Agreement. “You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” one negotiator said.

The change will mean new proposals could come next week.  http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/12/08/climate-science-1-5c-erased-un-talks-us-saudis-step/

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

In 2014, Saudi Arabia tried to delete part of UN climate science report 

Saudis accused of deleting part of UN climate science report   Climate Home News 23/05/2014 British scientist expresses his surprise when parts of IPCC text were ‘mutilated’ at April meeting in Berlin By Ed King

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia attempted to mask their contribution to rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions during discussions at the UN’s most recent climate science meeting.

That’s the charge laid by John Broome, a British philosopher and economist at Oxford University, and contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report.

He’s not the first to make these accusations – that prize goes to Giovanni Baiocchi, an economist at the University of Maryland.

But Broome is the first to offer a compelling narrative of how the four–day Berlin meeting of IPCC Working Group 3 scientists in April unfolded.

In a detailed blog published on May 20 he says the ‘Summary for Policymakers’, a concise document that pulls together thousands of pages of work, was “mutilated” by government officials.

“The degree of compression in the SPM meant that every sentence counts. In drafting it, we authors each found ourselves defending our favourite sentences,” Broome writes.

“Some sections were cut to pieces because the different views of the delegations turned out to be irreconcilable.”

Broome contends that in the early hours of April 12, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia insisted that all figures showing emissions of greenhouse gas from countries classified by their “income group” were deleted. Other reports indicate China was also part of this push. ……..

Key summary

It should be stressed the SPM is the only part of the IPCC texts that receives this level of political interrogation or interference from governments – perhaps because they know it’s the only part most policymakers will read.

This can then form the basis of various negotiating positions at UN climate talks, which are heating up as a global emissions reduction deal scheduled to be signed off in December 2015 draws close.

The original findings remain untouched…….. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2014/05/23/saudi-blocking-of-un-climate-science-report-exposed/

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia renews nuclear energy ties with Argentina as pressure over Khashoggi rises 

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/energy/saudi-arabia-renews-nuclear-energy-ties-with-argentina-as-pressure-over-khashoggi-rises

December 6, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, SOUTH AMERICA | 1 Comment

Japan to scrap Turkey nuclear project

Post-Fukushima safety measures doubled costs for Mitsubishi and partners Nikkei Asain Review 

DECEMBER 04, 2018 TOKYO — A Japan-led public-private consortium is set to abandon a Turkish nuclear power project that had been touted as a model for Tokyo’s export of infrastructure, Nikkei has learned.The delayed project’s construction costs have ballooned to around 5 trillion yen ($44 billion), nearly double the original estimate, making it difficult for lead builder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and its partners to continue with the plans.

The increase was due to heightened safety requirements in the wake of the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The recent fall in the Turkish lira has also contributed to the cost increases.

The decision to cancel the project, now in final negotiations among the parties, comes as a blow to Japan’s nuclear industry, which is looking for avenues for growth overseas as it becomes increasingly unlikely that a new plant will be built at home post-Fukushima.

The Japanese and Turkish governments agreed in 2013 on the project, with an alliance of Japanese and French businesses centered on Mitsubishi Heavy to build four reactors in the city of Sinop on the Black Sea. Initial plans had construction beginning in 2017, with the first reactor coming online in 2023………

In 2017, global investment toward building new nuclear projects plunged roughly 70% year on year to $9 billion, according to the International Energy Agency. With safety costs rising, nuclear has grown less competitive with other forms of energy.

A number of aging Japanese reactors are set to be decommissioned soon, with Kansai Electric Power planning to scrap the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at its Oi plant in Fukui prefecture, and Tohoku Electric Power the No. 1 unit at a plant in Miyagi Prefecture’s Onagawa. Meanwhile, new nuclear projects have hit a standstill in the face of deep public wariness. https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Japan-to-scrap-Turkey-nuclear-project

December 4, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, Turkey | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS) and his goal of a nuclear kingdom

The Crown Prince May Build Himself a Nuclear Kingdom https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/crown-prince-may-build-himself-nuclear-kingdom-37292 The Trump administration should keep a close eye on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear connections and activities. by Ronen Dangoor, 28 Nov 18

The horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi shed light on the reckless and dangerous decisionmaking process of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS). In addition to the latest crisis The New York Times recently published a story about how the prince’s closest security personnel sought to hire private foreign companies to assassinate senior Iranian officials—an act that could have trigger a regional military conflict. This conduct follows a string of other bizarre events in the last few months, initiated by MbS.

The crown prince has demonstrated arrogant, cruel, amateur and capricious behavior. His aggression has been left almost unmonitored by checks and balances inside the Saudi hierarchy. Indeed, MbS has constrained all his potential rivals and has taken full controlof Saudi Arabia’s security and intelligence bodies. As the Khashoggi scandal has proven—such power enables dictators to secretly execute dangerous operations. In parallel, he managed to become the darling of the West after he initiated economic reforms and launched his so called modern 2030 vision .

Now add Saudi’s long history of nuclear ambitions to the mix. For years, Saudi officials have warned that Saudi Arabia will not curb its nuclear ambitions if it will sense a threat to its national security, or if Iran advances in its nuclear program. Rumors were that Pakistan was obliged to provide the Saudis a ready-for-use nuclear weapon if and when the time comes. Things only got more complicated once the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) with Iran was signed in 2015, practically legitimizing Iran’s rights to maintain and develop its uranium enrichment capabilities. At the beginning of November 2018, the crown prince participated in the opening ceremony marking the launch of construction of Riyadh’s first research reactor . It’s still early days and only a symbolic act—the Saudis lack knowhow, technicians, infrastructure and academic expertise—but the country has both enough ambition and funds to advance anyway. Shortly after that the Saudi energy minister said the kingdom launches uranium exploration program.

Over the last decade, purchasing sixteen nuclear power reactors—later scaled back to two reactors—plus uranium enrichment capabilities preferably from the United States, has

featured prominently on the Saudi agenda. The official rationale is the country’s future needs to supply energy —with self-sufficient nuclear materials. While having enrichment capabilities can serve to counterbalance Iran, it may also constitute a future military nuclear program. During previous negotiations with Saudi officials, the Obama administration insisted that Saudi Arabia must comply with the “ gold standard ,” reflective of the conditions imposed on the UAE when it agreed to buy U.S. reactors in 2009. This standard requires a commitment not to enrich uranium or to produce plutonium as a strict condition for any agreement to sell nuclear reactors. According to current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration has maintained this policy . In an interview with CBS in March 2018, MbS maintained that “without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible.”

Following the murder of Khashoggi, Senate members urged the Trump administration to curb any intention to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudi regime. This move is certainly necessary, but not nearly enough. An American refusal to his demands can push the prince to seek an alternative option elsewhere, with producers that will be all too happy to assist—for the right price.

Much of MbS’s current conduct lies parallel to previous experience with three other Middle East tyrants: former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Libya’s leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. These cynical dictators have a common denominator in their infinite ambitions, which ultimately led them to secretly promote a nuclear weapons program. They all relied heavily on their security systems in initiating these plans. Libya and Syria had no sufficient nuclear infrastructure, so they bought a turnkey nuclear project from Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan Network, and in the Syrian case from North Korea .

The Saudi nuclear issue has placed a challenge before the administration. If the prince is successful in surviving the current crisis, then that could prompt him to make even riskier decisions, including taking the nuclear path. Much like in Iraq, Libya and Syria, all the necessary components for that are now in place: A de facto dictator with delusions of grandeur and poor judgment, full control over the security services, unlimited funds for the purpose, a national sense of isolation, an acute threat, and a long-term nuclear vision. As Iran seems to be complying with the JCPOA, a Saudi move could instigate a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. To avoid this, the Trump administration should warn and restrict the Saudi heir. It should also keep a very close eye on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear connections and activities.

Ronen Dangoor is the former deputy head of the research and analysis division at the Israeli prime minister’s office.

 

November 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Trump’s international nuclear negotiations will lead to Saudi Arabia getting nuclear weapons

Why Saudi Arabia Will Acquire Nuclear Weapons If the Trump administration continues to turn its nuclear negotiations into a boondoggle, then nothing will prevent Riyadh from building bombs.,National Interest by Paul R. Pillar, 28 Nov 18

The Trump administration’s handling of nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia promises to lay bare some realities about security issues and nuclear programs in that part of the world that the administration has refused to acknowledge. A front-page article by David Sanger and William Broad in the New York Timesreviews some of the still-unresolved questions. The Saudi regime insists on producing its own nuclear fuel, which would be different from terms the United States has negotiated with some other states, including the United Arab Emirates, that have sought U.S. assistance in developing their nuclear programs. The Saudis have balked at comprehensive international inspections to detect any work on nuclear weapons. And Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has explicitly threatened to develop nuclear weapons, ostensibly in response to any similar development by Iran.

A useful model for approaching this situation involves Iran. The model is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multilateral accord commonly known as the Iranian nuclear deal, which Donald Trump has castigated and on which his administration has reneged by imposing new economic sanctions despite continued Iranian compliance with the JCPOA. The JCPOA closed all possible pathways to development of an Iranian nuclear weapon through stringent restrictions on enrichment of uranium, the gutting of reactors that otherwise might be used to produce plutonium, and the prohibition of any reprocessing by Iran of nuclear fuel. The agreement also established a thorough inspection system that involves not only routine monitoring of nuclear facilities but also the ability of international inspectors to inspect any other sites they may have reason to suspect are housing nuclear-related activity, with the other parties to the agreement being able to outvote Iran in the event of disagreement about the relevance of a requested inspection. This is the kind of highly intrusive inspection arrangement that the Saudis reportedly are refusing to apply to themselves.

The principal U.S. negotiator has been Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, for whom this is a learning-on-the-job experience. Perry was initially unaware of the Department of Energy’s nuclear responsibilities and believed his job would consist of promoting the oil industry. (This contrasts with Perry’s predecessor, Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist who played a key role in negotiation of the highly detailed JCPOA.)………

Amid all the talk among opponents of the JCPOA about ballistic missiles, it is worth noting that Saudi Arabia has been ahead of its regional neighbors on that count as well. Two decades ago, Saudi Arabia secretly purchased medium-range missiles from China that, although reportedly configured to carry conventional weapons, were of a type originally designed to deliver a nuclear warhead. The Saudis in more recent years have modernized their missile force, again relying on China as the supplier.

Destabilizing regional activity also implies that Saudi Arabia is more of a worry than most states regarding the implications of possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia has bombed Yemen into becoming a humanitarian catastrophe, has kidnapped and attempted to coerce into resignation the prime minister of Lebanon, and has used diplomatic facilities in foreign countries to assassinate nonviolent dissidents. The impetuous young prince behind these policies has been moving toward one-man rule, shedding even the restraints of what had been a collective family autocracy.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has drawn some recent and welcome attention to this pattern of behavior, although it has not budged Donald Trump from his stance of sticking with MbS no matter what he does. California Rep. Brad Sherman has appropriately observed, “A country that can’t be trusted with a bone saw shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

The administration’s assault on the JCPOA may provide the trigger for Saudi Arabia to try to obtain such weapons. If the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign succeeds in negating completely the economic relief Iran was supposed to have received under the JCPOA, then Iranian leaders may yet throw up their hands in disgust and pronounce the agreement null and void. This would release Iran from all its nuclear restrictions under the agreement, which in turn might provide the perfect rationale for Riyadh, especially as long as MbS is in charge, to acquire the bomb.

Paul R. Pillar is a contributing editor at the National Interest and the author of Why America Misunderstands the World . https://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/why-saudi-arabia-will-acquire-nuclear-weapons-37197

 

November 29, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman – wanting a nuclear bomb?

November 24, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

IAEA Director General Amano says Iran is abiding by nuclear deal, says North Korea should re-admit inspectors

IAEA calls on North Korea to re-admit nuclear inspectors, Money control , 23 Nov 18
IAEA inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009 but Director General Yukiya Amano said the agency continues to prepare for their possible re-admittance.  
 The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog has called on North Korea to allow inspectors back into the country to monitor its nuclear program………

On the other hand, Amano told board members that Iran continues to abide by the deal reached in 2015 with major world powers that aimed at preventing Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives.

He reiterated the agency’s findings in a report distributed to member states earlier this month that “Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

The issue has grown more complicated since the US withdrew unilaterally in May from the deal and then re-imposed sanctions. Iran’s economy has been struggling ever since and its currency has plummeted in value.

The other signatories to the deal — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — are continuing to try to make it work. Amano stressed that “it is essential that Iran continues to fully implement” its commitments.

In its full report, the IAEA said its inspectors continue to have access to all sites in Iran that it needs to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

“The agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its safeguards agreement,” Amano said. “Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue.https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/world/iaea-calls-on-north-korea-to-re-admit-nuclear-inspectors-2-3213921.html

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Almost truly incredible – the farce of Saudi Arabia’s Investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder

Saudi Arabia’s Investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder Is a Tragic Farce, New Yorker, By Robin Wright, November 16, 2018     Despite six weeks of ferocious denials by Saudi Arabia, U.S. intelligence has concluded that the kingdom’s ambitious young crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, personally ordered the execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Istanbul last month, the Washington Postreported late Friday. The U.S. assessment was reportedly based on a growing array of hard data as well as a psychological study of the thirty-three-year-old prince. The most damning and specific intelligence was provided by Turkey, including audio recordings of the murder inside the Saudi consulate and a call from the diplomatic mission back to Saudi Arabia immediately afterwards. Turkey shared both with the C.I.A. director Gina Haspel. But the United States also had its own electronic intercepts of conversations, some retrieved in a search of its electronic archives after Khashoggi’s murder on October 2nd, the Post reported. One was reportedly between the crown prince’s brother Khalid, who was the Saudi Ambassador to Washington at the time, and Khashoggi, who was told to go to Istanbul to get official papers proving his divorce so he could remarry.

November 19, 2018 Posted by | Reference, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran hopeful that Europe can salvage nuclear deal – foreign ministry 

Channel News Asia, 19 Nov 18   Iran is still hopeful that its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers can be saved despite the withdrawal of the United States, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday. DUBAI: Iran is still hopeful that its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers can be saved despite the withdrawal of the United States, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

“There are some ambiguities on implementation of the EU’s mechanism to protect trade with Iran from America’s sanctions … But we remain hopeful that the Europeans can save the deal,” Bahram Qasemi told a news conference broadcast live on state TV.

Other signatories trying to salvage the deal since May, when U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned it. Washington restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transportation sectors this month.

The European Union has been trying to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for non-dollar trade with Iran to save the deal, under which most sanctions were lifted in 2016 in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme………  (Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Darren Schuettler and John Stonestreet)

Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/iran-hopeful-that-europe-can-salvage-nuclear-deal—foreign-ministry-10946216

November 19, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Turkish environmentalists go to the Supreme Court to stop construction of nuclear power station

November 19, 2018 Posted by | Legal, opposition to nuclear, Turkey | Leave a comment

Iran is keeping to the conditions of nuclear deal: latest U.N. report

The Latest: Nuclear watchdog: Iran stays within deal limits https://www.kansas.com/news/business/article221528430.html, The Associated Press, November 12, 2018 VIENNA  The Latest on U.N. nuclear watchdog’s new report on Iran :

The U.N. atomic watchdog says Iran continues to stay within the limitations set by the nuclear deal reached in 2015 with major powers, aimed at keeping Tehran from building nuclear weapons in exchange for incentives.

In a confidential quarterly report distributed to member states Monday and seen by The Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has stayed with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The issue has grown more complicated since the U.S. withdrew unilaterally in May from the deal and then re-imposed sanctions. Iran’s economy has been struggling ever since and its currency has plummeted in value.

The other signatories to the deal — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — are continuing to try and make it work.

The IAEA says the agency had access to all sites in Iran that it needed to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment