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

The US Energy Department’s renewed promotion of plutonium-fueled reactors. 

Plutonium programs in East Asia and Idaho will challenge the Biden administration, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Frank N. von Hippel | April 12, 2021  ”’…………. The US Energy Department’s renewed promotion of plutonium-fueled reactors. The US plutonium breeder reactor development program was ended by Congress in 1983. A decade later, the Clinton Administration shut down the Idaho National Laboratory’s Experimental Breeder Reactor II for lack of mission. At the time, I was working in the White House and supported that decision.

The nuclear-energy divisions at the Energy Department’s Argonne and Idaho National Laboratories refused to give up, however. They continued to produce articles promoting sodium-cooled reactors and laboratory studies on “pyroprocessing,” a small-scale technology used to separate plutonium from the fuel of the Experimental Breeder Reactor II .

During the Trump administration, this low-level effort broke out. With the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy headed by a former Idaho National Lab staffer and help from Idaho’s two Senators, the Energy Department and Congress were persuaded to approve the first steps toward construction at the Idaho National Laboratory of a larger version of the decommissioned Experimental Breeder Reactor II.

 The new reactor, misleadingly labeled the “Versatile Test Reactor,” would be built by Bechtel with design support by GE-Hitachi and Bill Gates’ Terrapower. The Energy Department awarded contracts to the Battelle Energy Alliance and to university nuclear-engineering departments in Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oregon to develop proposals for how to use the Versatile Test Reactor.

The current estimated cost of the Versatile Test Reactor is $2.6-5.8 billion, and it is to be fueled with plutonium. The Idaho National Laboratory’s hope is to convince Congress to commit to funding its construction in 2021.

The Energy Department also committed $80 million to co-fund the construction of a 345-megawatt-electric (MWe) “Natrium” (Latin for sodium) demonstration liquid-sodium-cooled power reactor proposed by GE-Hitachi and Terrapower which it hopes Congress would increase to $1.6 billion. It also committed $25 million each to Advanced Reactor Concepts and General Atomics to design small sodium-cooled reactors. And it has subsidized Oklo, a $25-million startup company financed by the Koch family, to construct a 1.5 MWe “microreactor” on the Idaho National Laboratory’s site to demonstrate an extravagantly costly power source for remote regions.


In all these reactors, the chain reaction would be sustained by fast neutrons unlike the slow neutrons that sustain the chain reactions in water-cooled reactors. The Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy has justified the need for the Versatile Test Reactor by the fast-neutron reactors whose construction it is supporting. In this way, it has “bootstraping” the Versatile Test Reactor by creating a need for it that would not otherwise exist.

This program also is undermining US nonproliferation policy..………..https://thebulletin.org/2021/04/plutonium-programs-in-east-asia-and-idaho-will-challenge-the-biden-administration/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MondayNewsletter04122021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_EastAsia_04122021

April 13, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, Reference, reprocessing, USA | 1 Comment

USA’s nuclear rocket plan, and the Nazi history behind it.


The US plans to put a nuclear-powered rocket in orbit by 2025,  David Hambling.. (subscribers only)
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2274199-the-us-plans-to-put-a-nuclear-powered-rocket-in-orbit-by-2025/#ixzz6rrl4rEGB

April 13, 2021 Posted by | Reference, space travel, USA, weapons and war, YouTube | Leave a comment

Nuclear space craft very clearly is part of nuclear weapons programme

DARPA awards nuclear spacecraft contracts to Lockheed Martin, Bezos’ Blue Origin and General Atomics
PUBLISHED MON, APR 12 2021 HTTPS://WWW.CNBC.COM/2021/04/12/DARPA-NUCLEAR-SPACECRAFT-LOCKHEED-BEZOS-BLUE-ORIGIN-GENERAL-ATOMICS.HTML

The Pentagon’s DARPA awarded contracts to General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin under the agency’s DRACO (Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations) program.

The Pentagon’s research and development arm on Monday awarded a trio of companies with contracts to build and demonstrate a nuclear-based propulsion system on a spacecraft in orbit by 2025.

General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA awards, under the agency’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations program or DRACO.

The goal of the program is deceptively simple: Use a nuclear thermal propulsion system to power a spacecraft beyond low Earth orbit.

April 13, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New nuclear power may not be feasible in USA – former NRC chair says

Former NRC chair questions economic feasibility of new nuclear in US,  Utility Dive Iulia Gheorghiu. 12cApr 21,

Without further aid from Congress and the White House, the prospects for the U.S. nuclear industry will dwindle in the face of cheaper resources that are getting built faster than new nuclear generators, according to a former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission………

Excepting NuScale Power, which has advanced in permitting with the NRC, the near-term potential for other small modular reactor designs to replace physical coal plants is “very low in the near future, like zero,” Allison Macfarlane, …..

The only U.S. reactors currently under construction continue to face delays. Vogtle Unit 3 and Unit 4 are poised to be the first nuclear plants completed in the United States [since 2016]……….

Excepting NuScale Power, which has advanced in permitting with the NRC, the near-term potential for other small modular reactor designs to replace physical coal plants is “very low in the near future, like zero,” Allison Macfarlane, …..

The only U.S. reactors currently under construction continue to face delays. Vogtle Unit 3 and Unit 4 are poised to be the first nuclear plants completed in the United States [since 2016]……….

Georgia Power, one of the owners of the two nuclear reactors at Vogtle Power Plant, recently announced construction remediation work, signaling further delays for the unit that is expected to be operational later this year.

“If we don’t pay attention to this issue, there is no future for nuclear, you will not build anything. It will all be too expensive, it will all take too long,” she said.

She remarked on supply chain issues with larger designs, such as the Westinghouse AP1000 design, a pressurized water reactor power plant that was used in V.C. Summer and Vogtle construction.

“The AP1000 is a good design, but it may be a dead design,” Macfarlane said.  https://www.utilitydive.com/news/former-nrc-chair-questions-economic-feasibility-of-new-nuclear-in-us/598188/

April 13, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

The United States collaborates on nuclear pyroprocessing with South Korea. 

Plutonium programs in East Asia and Idaho will challenge the Biden administration, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Frank N. von Hippel | April 12, 2021,  ”…………………………………The United States collaborates on pyroprocessing with South Korea. The Idaho and Argonne National Laboratories also continue to promote the pyroprocessing of spent fuel. After the Clinton Administration shut down the Experimental Breeder Reactor II in 1994, the laboratory persuaded the Energy Department to continue to fund pyroprocessing as a way to process Experimental Breeder Reactor II spent fuel and blanket assemblies into stable waste forms for disposal in a deep underground repository. The proposal was to complete this effort in 2007. According to a review by Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, however, as of the end of Fiscal Year 2016, only about 18 percent of the roughly 26 metric tons of assemblies had been processed at a cost of over $200 million into waste forms that are not stable. (Since then, an additional three percent has been processed.)

During the George W. Bush administration, Vice President Cheney accepted Argonne’s argument that pyroprocessing is “proliferation resistant” and the two US national laboratories were allowed to share the technology with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.

At the beginning of the Obama administration, however, a group of safeguards experts from six Energy Department national laboratories, including Argonne and Idaho, concluded that pyroprocessing is not significantly more resistant to proliferation than PUREX, the standard reprocessing technology originally developed by the United States to extract plutonium for its weapons.

In 2014, the US-Republic of Korea Agreement for Cooperation on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy was due to expire, but the negotiations on a successor agreement bogged down over Korea’s insistence that the new agreement include the same right to reprocess spent fuel as the 1988 US-Japan Agreement for Cooperation.

The compromise reached the following year was that the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and the Idaho National Laboratory would complete their Joint Fuel Cycle Study on “the technical, economic, and nonproliferation (including safeguards) aspects of spent fuel management and disposition technologies.” If the United States could be convinced that the proliferation risks of pyroprocessing were manageable, the secretary of energy would give consent for South Korea to use the technology on its territory. The final report from the joint study is due this year.

Meanwhile, in 2017, Moon Jae-in was elected president of the Republic of Korea on a platform that included not building any more nuclear power plants in South Korea. Fast-neutron reactors and pyroprocessing obviously do not fit with that policy. This gives the Biden administration an opportunity to end a cooperative nuclear-energy research and development program that is contrary to both US nuclear nonproliferation policy and South Korea’s energy policy. The United States could propose instead a joint collaborative program on safe spent fuel storage and deep underground disposal……………https://thebulletin.org/2021/04/plutonium-programs-in-east-asia-and-idaho-will-challenge-the-biden-administration/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MondayNewsletter04122021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_EastAsia_04122021

April 13, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, Reference, South Korea, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Two years since Julian Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian Embassy

the Biden administration has continued Trump’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder—in 2010, Biden had labelled him a “high-tech terrorist”. 

Two years since Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian Embassy, World Socialist Website, Thomas Scripps, 9 April 2021   Two years ago on Sunday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He has been incarcerated ever since, fighting extradition to the United States where he faces life imprisonment in barbaric conditions for exposing war crimes, coup plots, mass state surveillance, torture and corruption.

On April 11, 2019, Assange’s political asylum status was revoked by the Ecuadorian government and British police entered the embassy building, dragging him away. The recently published diaries of former Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan confirm the involvement of the highest levels of the state in this lawless operation.

Duncan explains how he watched the police raid on a live feed from the “Operations Room at the top of the Foreign Office.” Codenamed “Pelican”, Duncan recalled how one of its officials looked on, “wearing a pelican-motif tie.” Duncan’s diary entry concludes, “So, job done at last—and we take a commemorative photo of Team Pelican. It had taken many months of patient diplomatic negotiation, and in the end it went off without a hitch. I do millions of interviews, trying to keep the smirk off my face.”

The sadism of the British state’s snatch-and-grab operation was matched only by the degraded efforts of the pseudo-left to vilify Assange and blacken his reputation in support of a manufactured sexual assault investigation launched by Sweden in 2010. Rightly fearing that his extradition to Sweden would be a stepping-stone to US extradition, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy. While he was there, his former “media partners”, most prominently the Guardian, and an international roll call of pseudo-left groups, launched a despicable years’ long slander campaign to smear him as a sexual predator………………

The Trump administration, it was later revealed, was working with the CIA to spy on Assange, including his privileged communications with lawyers and doctors, and to steal his personal documents. CIA operatives discussed plans for Assange’s kidnap or assassination, until Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno agreed to turn him over to the UK police.

Once in the hands of the British state, Assange was subjected to two years of pseudo-legal persecution, culminating in a degrading show trial. Hauled in front of Westminster Magistrates Court just hours after he was seized from the embassy, Assange was found guilty of violating bail. District judge Michael Snow declared, “His assertion that he has not had a fair hearing is laughable. And his behaviour is that of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.”………..

Assange’s time in Belmarsh was characterised by the repeated and flagrant denial of his legal rights, aimed at crushing him and which left him suicidal. He was repeatedly denied proper access to his lawyers and to materials necessary to prepare his defence. When Assange reached the end of his sentence, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ordered that he continue to be held in Belmarsh on remand. During the initial week of Assange’s extradition hearing, held in February 2020 at Woolwich Crown Court, he was held in a glass box, with Baraitser preventing him from speaking or communicating effectively with his lawyers. He was stripped twice and handcuffed 11 times on the first day.

In the run-up to the main hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in September 2020, Assange was repeatedly denied bail, even as COVID-19, to which he is especially vulnerable on account of a respiratory condition, ripped through Belmarsh prison.

The US government used this time to develop its monstrous assault on democratic rights. The initial indictment of the WikiLeaks founder, unsealed on the day of his seizure from the embassy, charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, with a maximum sentence of five years. On May 23, 2019, the US unveiled 17 new charges under the 1918 Espionage Act with a combined potential sentence of 170 years. These charges have chilling implications for freedom of the press, criminalising basic journalistic practices and holding them tantamount to treason or espionage.

Another superseding indictment was issued on June 24, 2020, after one phase of Assange’s hearing had been completed and a matter of weeks before the defence was due to submit its skeleton argument for the second. Besides being a gross abuse of due process, the new indictment, based largely on testimony from FBI informants with histories of fraud and entrapment, expanded the framework of the charges to an even wider range of journalistic activity.

The immense significance of WikiLeaks’ and Assange’s journalism, and the criminality of their persecution, was underscored at his hearing in September. Dozens of witnesses spoke to WikiLeaks’ pioneering source protection and the global impact of releases like the Collateral Murder video, revealing the massacre of Iraqi civilians, journalists and first responders by a US Apache helicopter gunship. The US case was exposed as a groundless, vindictive witch-hunt designed to destroy Assange and set a dictatorial precedent for what will happen to any journalists who dare expose imperialist crimes.

With a ruling in favour of extradition considered all but assured, Baraitser delivered a surprise decision against on January 4 of this year. But her politically calculated ruling blocked the extradition request solely on the grounds that it would be oppressive by reason of Assange’s compromised mental health and his risk of suicide if he were imprisoned in the US. She accepted every other element of the prosecution’s case, including its denial of free speech and freedom of the press, and its justification of the abuse of Assange’s democratic rights.

This left the gate wide open to a US appeal. The US Department of Justice quickly responded, “While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr. Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offense, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States.”………

the Biden administration has continued Trump’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder—in 2010, Biden had labelled him a “high-tech terrorist”. As the World Socialist Web Site and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) have warned, Assange’s persecution is integral to the war drive of US imperialism, escalated by Trump and now intensified by his successor.

Biden has engaged in an aggressive anti-China campaign and is whipping up anti-Chinese xenophobia at home, promoting conspiracy theories on the origin of COVID-19. The US and its allies stand on a cliff edge with Russia over Crimea and eastern Ukraine, with NATO’s endless anti-Russia provocations and proxy incursions threatening to spill into war.

Military conflicts of such catastrophic scope can only be pursued abroad by destroying democratic rights at home. WikiLeaks’ releases of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs were a spark to mass anti-war sentiment all over the world. The ruling class in the imperialist countries around the world are determined to prevent their war plans and crimes being reported and have sought to crack down on left-wing, socialist and anti-war opposition. The Assange case is emblematic of this turn to dictatorship.

In the two years since Assange’s arrest, two sharply opposed political perspectives have defined themselves in the fight for his freedom. The official campaign, run by Don’t Extradite Assange (DEA), has based itself on rotten appeals to the state and its representatives. The DEA’s first champion was former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Throughout the 2019 general election, as leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn maintained a politically criminal silence on Assange, blocking the development of a mass movement against British and US imperialism to secure his freedom. When Corbyn did finally speak, it was to appeal to Boris Johnson and the British justice system that had trampled Assange’s democratic rights………..

The pandemic has proved beyond all doubt that there is no constituency in the ruling class for even the most basic democratic rights, including the right to protest and assembly and the right to life. It has responded to the virus with a policy of social murder and by advancing its preparations for state repression and war on a vast scale……….

On the second anniversary of the WikiLeaks founder’s seizure, we reaffirm our demand for Assange’s immediate, unconditional freedom and our commitment to a programme of class struggle to achieve it. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/04/10/assa-j01.html?pk_campaign=assange-newsletter&pk_kwd=wsws

April 12, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, UK, USA | Leave a comment

Records falsified at Turkey Point nuclear power station

Feds say Turkey Point staff falsified records. FPL says it will pay proposed $150,000 fine

BY DAVID GOODHUE, APRIL 09, 2021 Federal investigators say employees at Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Homestead falsified records and deliberately recorded inaccurate information on maintenance reports in 2019.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended Thursday that Florida Power & Light, which operates the power plant on south Biscayne Bay, be fined $150,000 for the violations.

The utility said Friday that it will pay the civil fine, and that it had also conducted its own

 investigation, which resulted in the firing of the employees involved in the inquiry……

The NRC said in a press release that two of its investigations in 2020 “determined FPL employees engaged in deliberate misconduct” the year before………. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/homestead/article250551789.html

April 11, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Despite the influence of Bill Gates, experts find that nuclear power is the wrong climate solution

“A decade ago, perhaps one could still argue we need new nuclear power plants to combat global warming, and that better approaches were hopefully just around the corner,” Howarth says. “But in 2021, it is very clear that we can completely rebuild the energy economy of the world moving forward built on renewable energy alone, with no need for fossil fuels or nukes. To build our future on renewables is that fastest, safest, and cheapest way to address climate disruption.”

How Bill Gates’ company TerraPower is building next-generation nuclear power, CNBC Make It, , Apr 8 2021 ”…….  Selected by the U.S. federal government to demonstrate the viability of nuclear power through its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), TerraPower aims to build “fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within 7 years of the award,” according to the Office of Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy………

TerraPower’s ability to achieve those goals will be in no small part due to the money and influence of the company’s founder.“The most important factor is that Bill Gates is behind this,” principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology department of nuclear science and engineering Charles Forsberg tells CNBC Make It………..

Still, some say nuclear power is the wrong solution,  Despite what Gates and TerraPower see as benefits, the debate over nuclear power is fierce.    On March 18, for instance, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit group of 250 scientists and related professionals, issued a 140-page rebuke of “advanced nuclear” reactor designs.

“If nuclear power is to play a larger role to address climate change, it is essential for new reactor designs to be safer, more secure, and pose comparable or—better yet—lower risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism than the existing reactor fleet,” says Edwin Lyman, Director of Nuclear Power Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC, in a statement released with the report. “Despite the hype surrounding them, none of the non-light-water reactors on the drawing board that we reviewed meet all of those requirements.”

The UCS even recommends the Department of Energy (DOE) suspend it jointly funded ARDP demonstration project (in which TerraPower is a particpant) until regulatory agencies determine what kind of prototyping is necessary, and calls on the DOE to have an independent commission to review the project.

“It doesn’t make sense to us for either government or industry to devote a lot of resources to pursuing high-risk, low-reward technologies – or technologies that could be even worse than what we have now,” Lyman tells CNBC Make It.  Instead, more federal government spending to improve conventional reactors is a better tactic, according to the UCS.

“Investment to address the shortcomings of conventional reactors would have a higher chance of success because there is a large base of operating experience and experimental data that researchers can draw upon,” Lyman says………

Still others say focusing on nuclear power at all is the wrong approach.

Nuclear power, which has been around since the 1950s, “has proven to be very slow to deploy, very expensive, and fraught with dangers,” says Robert W. Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University. “And no one has ever solved the problem with what to do with nuclear wastes.”

Safe and affordable nuclear power is “a pipe dream” that “never materialized,” he says.

Michael E. Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC), argues that nuclear energy “comes with unnecessary risks when better alternatives (i.e. wind, solar, geothermal) are available.”

And “investment in nuclear likely crowds out investment in the safer alternative (renewable energy),” he says.

Both Howarth and Mann are signatories on a declaration that calls for decarbonization through 100% renewable energy, like wind and solar.

“A decade ago, perhaps one could still argue we need new nuclear power plants to combat global warming, and that better approaches were hopefully just around the corner,” Howarth says. “But in 2021, it is very clear that we can completely rebuild the energy economy of the world moving forward built on renewable energy alone, with no need for fossil fuels or nukes. To build our future on renewables is that fastest, safest, and cheapest way to address climate disruption.”

April 10, 2021 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

An American village made dependent on the nuclear industry. Perry schools’ crisis if the nuclear power station shuts down

After Being “Promised Wealth:” What Happens to Perry if the Nuclear Power Plant Shuts Down? Spectrum News, By Micaela Marshall Cleveland, Apr. 08, 2021, PERRY, Ohio — What’s been called the largest corruption and money-laundering scheme in Ohio history has dominated headlines since last summer.

The political back-and-forth surrounding House Bill 6 has led to uncertainty in communities that rely on the two Ohio nuclear power plants caught up in the controversy.

What You Need To Know

The money-laundering scheme surrounding House Bill 6 has been in the headlines for months

House Bill 6 is a bailout for nuclear power plants

The halting of the bailout causes concerns the plants may close

The communities and schools depending on the employment at the plants are worried.

The village of Perry in Lake County is known for two things: The Perry Nuclear Power Plant and Perry Local Schools, and the relationship between the two is vital to the local economy. ……

Less than three miles away [from the schools complex] is the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.

It was commissioned in 1987 and a big promise was made to the people of Perry, in return for the risk of exposure.

“Back in the day, they were promised wealth that would go on through eternity,” Thompson said.

That guarantee held up at first and allowed for the Perry Local Schools District to become home to state-of-the-art facilities. 

“We were able to build and have some amenities that were not common,” Thompson said.

The Goodwin Theatre, and a campus fitness center with an Olympic-sized pool are some of those amenities. 

“You’re not going to see another district that’s built like this,” he said.

Grants have led to upgrades over the years. …..

The two-story building’s architecture is elaborate. There’s even a clock tower.

“It has absolutely zero use other than aesthetics,” Thompson said. 

Many of the features are unique for a school, especially one in rural Ohio.

“You have this outside veranda that is just gorgeous,” he said pointing to the area outside the middle school.

………… “Nothing’s going to replace the revenue that the nuclear power plant has brought this community over the last 30 years,” Thompson said. ………. https://spectrumnews1.com/oh/columbus/news/2021/04/08/-they-were-promised-wealth-that-would-go-on-through-eternity–what-happens-to-perry-if-the-nuclear-power-plant-shuts-down-

April 10, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. – China co-operation on cyber security

China-U.S. Cyber-Nuclear C3 Stability,  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,  GEORGE PERKOVICH,  ARIEL (ELI) LEVITE,  LYU JINGHUA,  LU CHUANYING,  LI BIN,  FAN YANG,  XU MANSHU, 9 Apr 21,

Cyber threats to nuclear command, control, and communications systems (NC3) attract increasing concerns. Carnegie and partners have developed a platform of unclassified knowledge to enable U.S.-China engagement on this issue.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

This paper was produced through a three-year dialogue led by Carnegie and the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, with inputs and review provided by American and Chinese technical and military experts.

FOREWORDS

CHEN DONGXIAO

The impact of cyber on nuclear stability is one of the most forward-looking and strategic topics in the current international security field. The Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) have conducted a joint study around this topic, aiming to provide a reference for the establishment of cyber and nuclear stability mechanisms among nuclear states.

Cyber attacks on nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) systems have become a potential source of conflict escalation among nuclear powers. Yet major powers have not established effective risk-reduction mechanisms in this regard. While information technology strengthens nuclear strategic forces in many ways, including the modernization of NC3, it also poses an increasingly serious cyber threat to nuclear command and control systems. Cyber operations against the strategic command and control systems of nuclear states—including those probing major vulnerabilities in the command and control systems and satellite communications systems, cyber threats from third parties, and the lack of strategic trust in cyberspace—have exacerbated the impact of cybersecurity on nuclear stability.

Because of the unique nature of nuclear weapons, any cyber incidents concerning nuclear weapons would cause state alarm, anxiety, confusion, and erode state confidence in the reliability and integrity of nuclear deterrent. Cyber attacks against a nuclear command and control system would expose the attacked state to significant pressure to escalate conflict and even use nuclear weapons before its nuclear capabilities are compromised. At the same time, compared to the mature experience and full-fledged mechanisms in nuclear deterrence, crisis management, and conflict escalation/de-escalation among the traditional nuclear powers, states not only lack a comprehensive and accurate perception of the threat posed by cyber operations but also lack consensus on crisis management and conflict de-escalation initiatives.

Given that not enough attention has been paid to this new type of threat on the agenda of security dialogue between nuclear powers, SIIS and CEIP launched a joint research project on cyber and nuclear stability in U.S.-China relations in 2017, focusing on exploring the possibility of building consensus and agreement among nuclear states. It is hoped that the cyber-nuclear nexus will awaken national policymakers to the urgency of maintaining cyber stability and that nuclear states will fully recognize the dangers of cyber attacks and their respective vulnerabilities to such attacks, and thus take steps to reduce nuclear instability accompanying advancing cyber technologies and prevent nuclear war.

…………  Obviously, with today’s evolving information technology, it is in the interest of both countries to avoid war and reduce conflicts that may escalate into war, and it is both the international responsibility of major powers and the common expectation of the international community. Hopefully, this joint study will promote in-depth dialogue and security cooperation between China and the United States and establish a corresponding workable and professional mechanism.

This is an important joint study released by two prominent think tanks in China and the United States, hoping to improve mutual understanding between China and the United States on each other’s security concerns, interests and solutions to problems, promote stability in China-U.S. relations, and facilitate the healthy development of overall China-U.S. relations. I also believe it has important reference value for the two governments on how to bridge differences and forge consensus in sensitive areas. ………

THOMAS CAROTHERS

Military and national security experts increasingly warn that the most likely cause of major warfare—conventional or nuclear—between the United States and China is a minor conflict that escalates sharply, even despite the desires and efforts by one or both countries to avert such a spiraling disaster. Cyber operations, whether by China against the United States, or vice versa, are especially prone to provoking an escalation.   It is very difficult for officials who detect an intruder in their country’s strategic computer networks to determine the intruder’s intentions. These intentions might be primarily defensive—seeking to gain warning of a future attack. But they might be offensive—precursors of efforts to disrupt or destroy the functioning of warning systems and/or command and control and communications systems related to a nuclear deterrent. Without knowing what an intruder is seeking to do, those who detect the digital footprints of an intrusion may well assume the worst. Pressure could thus mount quickly to strike first, before the other side can make this more difficult or even impossible.

Such risks are especially evident between the United States and China because these two powers, unlike the United States and Russia, have never defined their strategic relationship as one of mutual vulnerability, with attendant understandings of how to stabilize it. The asymmetry between their nuclear forces and other offensive and defensive capabilities may incline Chinese officials to assume that the United States will at some point act on the temptation to negate China’s nuclear deterrent. Chinese actions, especially in the cyber domain, to try to avoid such a possibility might make U.S. officials fear that China is seeking to impede the U.S. nuclear deterrent. 

These risks will grow as dual-use systems—satellites, missiles, or command and control systems that are used both for potential conventional and nuclear warfare—are deploye  by one side or the other. An adversary may intend only to preempt or retaliate against conventional war-fighting capabilities, but the target of the attack could perceive them to be directed against or at least affecting its own nuclear forces.

This pathbreaking paper, which is being published in English and Mandarin, calls attention to these rising dangers. It is the product of a unique multi-year joint venture between the Shanghai Institute for International Studies and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It aims to provide a robust open-source foundation for discussion of these issues in both China and the United States, overcoming the barriers of high classification and institutional compartmentation that frequently impede analysis and deliberation. The co-authorship of the paper by Chinese and U.S. teams also aims to overcome (at least partially) barriers of culture and language that render mutual understanding in this domain so difficult.

The paper begins by detailing plausible scenarios of grave concern and providing a framework for analyzing them. It then explores steps that the U.S. and Chinese governments—and, with their encouragement, nongovernmental groups such as think tanks in both countries—could take to diminish inadvertent cyber threats to nuclear command, control, and communication systems. …………. https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/04/08/china-u.s.-cyber-nuclear-c3-stability-pub-84182

April 10, 2021 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Scientists urge Biden administration to reduce spending on nuclear weapons.

Science Group Urges Biden Administration to Reduce Spending on Nuclear Weapons   https://www.ucsusa.org/about/news/biden-administration-urged-reduce-nuclear-spending

Statement by Stephen Young, Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2021)—The Biden administration Fiscal Year 2022 budget overview released today indicates that its request for spending on the military will be even higher than the Trump administration’s last defense budget. As the final 2022 budget request develops, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) calls on the administration to make substantial cuts to the proposed $753 billion in military spending by significantly reducing funding for dangerous and unnecessary nuclear weapons, freeing up funds to better meet the nation’s many other challenges and opportunities.

In particular, UCS urges the administration to eliminate funding for the nuclear missile program known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) so it will be better positioned to advance President Biden’s spending priorities such as such as COVID relief, infrastructure, climate change solutions, and economic and racial justice.

In advance of the budget release, Sen. Edward J. Markey and Rep. Ro Khanna set a good example by recently introducing the Investing in Cures Before Missiles (ICBM) Act of 2021 that proposes eliminating all funding for the GBSD and diverting $1 billion of that money toward the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine.

Below is a statement by Stephen Young, senior Washington representative and acting co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“It is far past time for the United States to reconsider its nonsensical plans to spend a trillion dollars to build thousands of new nuclear warheads, hundreds of new long-range nuclear-armed missiles, a hundred long-range nuclear-armed bombers, and a dozen new submarines each carrying 16 nuclear-armed missiles. The world survived one massive nuclear arms race during the Cold War; but we should not tempt fate again. That money could be much better invested in protecting everyone in the United States from this pandemic and the next, from the ravages of climate change, and from the injustice of racial inequality.

“The poster child of wasteful spending is the proposal to spend $264 billion for a new land-based nuclear-armed missile. Those missiles, vulnerable to attack and kept on hair trigger alert, actually increase the risk of nuclear war rather than reduce it.

“The United States must stop relying on the Cold War-created threat of mutually assured destruction to maintain national security. Such a precarious approach risks fatal human error in defiance of all common sense.

“We call on the Biden administration to make major cuts to proposed nuclear weapons programs and start us on the path to actual national and international security.”

April 10, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Texas lawmakers want to ban dangerous radioactive waste.

Texas lawmakers want to ban dangerous radioactive waste.

Texas lawmakers want to ban dangerous radioactive waste.    The proposal would give a nuclear waste company a big financial break.

A bill advancing in the House seeks to ban spent nuclear fuel, one of the most dangerous types of radioactive waste, from coming to Texas.

TEXAS TRIBUNE, BY ERIN DOUGLAS APRIL 8, 2021  As a nuclear waste company’s plan to store the most dangerous type of radioactive waste in West Texas moves forward at the federal level, state lawmakers are aiming to ban the materials from entering the state.

Environmental and consumer advocates for years have decried a proposal to build a 332-acre site in West Texas near the New Mexico border to store the riskiest type of nuclear waste: spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants, which can remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

A bill advancing in the House, filed by Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, whose district includes Andrews County — where the proposed facility would be located — seeks to stop the plan by banning that type of radioactive waste from being disposed of or stored in Texas.

But House Bill 2692 would also give that same company a big break on state fees it pays for its existing disposal facility for lower-risk radioactive waste.

“This bill bans high-level waste altogether,” Landgraf said during a committee hearing in March, “and focuses on making low-level waste the safest and best, most competitive and most efficient facility it can be.”

Waste Control Specialists has been disposing of the nation’s low-level nuclear waste, including tools, building materials and protective clothing exposed to radioactivity, for a decade in Andrews County. The company is currently pursuing, with a partner, a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to store spent nuclear fuel on a site adjacent to its existing facility.

Waste Control Specialists and Interim Storage Partners — a joint venture between WCS and Orano USA, a subsidiary of one of the world’s biggest nuclear power companies — declined to comment on the proposed bill through a spokesperson.

Interim Storage Partners applied for the license in 2016. Scientists agree that spent nuclear fuel, which is currently stored at nuclear power plants, should be stored deep underground, but the U.S. still hasn’t located a suitable site. The Interim Storage Partners plan proposes storing it in above-ground casks until a permanent location is found. It expects federal regulators to make a decision sometime this year.

The plan faces stiff opposition from Gov. Greg Abbott, some oil companies that operate in the region and environmentalists over concerns about the risk of groundwater contamination and transportation accidents. Abbott wrote to federal regulators last year asking them to deny the license application, stating that the proposal presents a “greater radiological risk than Texas is prepared to allow.”………

The facility currently accepts Class A, B and C radioactive waste, which typically includes a wide range of contaminated items such as radioactive gloves, shoe covers and medical tubes. Some environmental and consumer advocates asked Landgraf to also include a ban on “greater than Class C” waste in his bill as well — it falls into what nuclear waste experts call a gray area between the lower-level categories and spent nuclear fuel. That type of waste is currently banned by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may soon consider regulations that would allow WCS to accept that waste.

Landgraf said he chose not to include a ban on that type of waste in the bill because it is technically not considered “high level” by the federal government, although it is currently treated that way for disposal purposes. Nuclear waste experts have told the Tribune that this category can be wide ranging, both in terms of danger and the time it will remain radioactive………….https://www.texastribune.org/2021/04/08/nuclear-waste-texas-ban/

April 10, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste director: Proposed New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility is illegal, 

Nuclear waste director: Proposed New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility is illegal,   https://www.thecentersquare.com/new_mexico/nuclear-waste-director-proposed-new-mexico-nuclear-waste-storage-facility-is-illegal/article_5c2497f2-9716-11eb-a1c7-f34c8873c0ba.html (The Center Square) 7 Apr 21, – Safety and economic concerns over a proposed nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad have prompted the state of New Mexico to sue the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

To be built by Holtec in southeast New Mexico, the facility would be an above-ground complex for storing spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.

The state’s lawsuit is built on legal concerns.

Holtec has stated the federal government is going to fund the facility, but according to federal law, utilities are responsible for storage, said Don Hancock, director of the Southwest Research and Information Center’s Nuclear Waste Program.

The state argues consistently throughout the complaint that this whole facility is illegal because the federal law doesn’t authorize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to authorize this kind of consolidated facility,” he told The Center Square.

Hancock added that the state’s entire list of complaints is 47 pages long.

“The federal government has said in law that this spent fuel, this irradiated fuel from nuclear power plants, is highly toxic and highly dangerous, and its permanent disposal requires it to be disposed deep underground in stable geologic formations, so that’s the law,” he said. “This facility is none of that.”

Holtec and NRC attempted to circumvent that issue by terming the storage facility as temporary, however, the state pointed out that Holtec and NRC can’t provide a timeframe for when it would be moved and have admitted they don’t have any plans for where it would go, said Hancock.

These legal concerns only compound the economic issues raised.

The facility would be built in the middle of the biggest oil and gas production areas in the state and poses a significant threat to operations.

“In the best of all circumstances it would be disruptive and, the worst of all circumstances, it would close down a multi-million dollar industry,” Hancock said.

Disruption would be caused by global perceptions that New Mexico oil producers are OK with having an illegal nuclear storage facility nearby that could leak into the supply of oil, Hancock said. The worst-case scenario is a leak that leaves New Mexico’s oil supply radioactively contaminated and causes billions of dollars in economic damage.

“If there was a leak or an accident and the nation and the world heard there was a major nuclear accident in the middle of the oil and gas production field of New Mexico or Texas, what do you think people are going to think about that?” he asked.

After failed attempts to get the NRC to consider their concerns, the state turned to the courts to make their voice heard, said Hancock.

“The state feels ignored,” he said.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Ohio’s Electric Power Association happy to see the end of customer-funded nuclear subsidies

EPSA expresses support for Ohio’s end of customer-funded nuclear subsidies, https://dailyenergyinsider.com/news/29767-epsa-expresses-support-for-ohios-end-of-customer-funded-nuclear-subsidies/?amp  Chris Galford,  With Gov. Mike DeWine’s approval last week, Ohio House Bill 128 officially put an end to nuclear energy subsidies in the state and amended existing law to better benefit solar resources instead, earning praise from the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA).

Specifically, H.B. 128 took aim at the provisions of another bill, H.B. 6, from the last General Assembly.

“Today is a long-awaited day for Ohio families and businesses,” Todd Snitchler, head of the EPSA, said. “The nuclear subsidies included in H.B. 6 were unnecessary and unjustified, and only passed due to the alleged unprecedented corruption in the legislative process and referendum effort. The H.B. 6 debacle shows that politically motivated efforts to subsidize favored energy resources at the behest of powerful and well-funded interests invites malfeasance, undermines competition and innovation, and drives up costs for consumers without ensuring better energy solutions for those paying the bill.”

H.B. 6 had, at the time, been widely promoted by FirstEnergy Corp. and FirstEnergy Solutions. It categorized nuclear power alongside other renewable energy sources. It allowed providers to draw credits for each megawatt hour of electricity reported and to draw from a $20 million annual disbursement fund for renewable sources, among other things.

The EPSA staunchly opposed that fact, and even now, Snitchler added that the rest of H.B. 6 should be taken up by the Legislature and resolved. However, the national trade association did call the current moves a win for fair market competition and consumer choice.

H.B. 128 was sponsored by state Reps. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) and Dick Stein (R-Norwalk)

April 6, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Ohio Senate votes to remove nuclear power subsidies

Ohio Senate eliminates nuclear subsidies from House Bill 6 Jessie Balmert, https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2021/03/24/ohio-senate-vote-axing-nuclear-subsidies-house-bill-6/6971129002/Cincinnati Enquirer   COLUMBUS – Lawmakers once touted $1 billion in ratepayer-financed subsidies as essential to saving nuclear plant jobs in northern Ohio. Now, they are ready to repeal those fees. 

Ohio Senate unanimously passed House Bill 128, which would eliminate fees for nuclear plants on Ohioans’ electric bills, ax another fee on FirstEnergy customers’ bills and eliminate another benefit for the Akron-based company.

The legislation, which will soon head to Gov. Mike DeWine, comes two years after Ohio lawmakers passed House Bill 6, saying it was needed to save jobs at the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants in northern Ohio.


Nuclear fees in House Bill 6 made headlines last July when former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were arrested in connection to a nearly $61 million bribery scheme to pass the law and defend the legislation against a ballot effort to block it. 

The scandal is one reason why lawmakers wanted to start over on portions of House Bill 6.

“When the story broke about the scandal and what was happening behind the scenes, I along with every member of this General Assembly was angry, disgusted and disappointed in what we were hearing,” said Rep. Jim Hoops, R-Napoleon. “We did not vote for what was happening behind the scenes and in a room somewhere outside the Statehouse.”

But the scandal was not the only reason. The energy landscape has changed since the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature approved $1 billion in fees on Ohioans’ electric bills for nuclear plants now owned by Energy Harbor. 

A late 2019 change from federal utility regulators effectively penalizes companies that receive state subsidies when they sell their power at regional capacity auctions. That means Energy Harbor sees relinquishing the House Bill 6 subsidies as a competitive advantage. 

Those in nuclear power are also banking on Democratic President Joe Biden’s policies hurting their competitors: natural gas. Biden stopped the Keystone XL pipeline and blocked new fracking on federal land

The Ohio Senate passed similar changes in two separate bills, but House Bill 128 was selected as the piece of legislation to hit DeWine’s desk. The bill also includes a review of whether transmission projects – under-scrutinized fees on ratepayers’ bills – are cost-effective. 

House Bill 128 keeps $20 million each year for solar projects. The changes would drop the monthly fee from 85 cents to 10 cents for residential customers and from $2,400 to $242 for industrial customers. Fees already charged on some customers’ bills would be refunded. 

The legislation doesn’t change cuts to energy efficiency incentives, fees for two coal plants owned by Piketon-based Ohio Valley Electric Corporation or eliminated mandates to incorporate renewable energy into the mix. Those topics could be addressed later.  Sen. Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, said she would continue to advocate for a full repeal. 

The House must approve some technical changes before the bill hits DeWine’s desk. 

March 25, 2021 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment