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

USA has conned Australia into paying for its super-costly nuclear submarine project

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

Has PM put Australia on the hook to finance struggling UK, US submarine projects? Michael West Media, By Marcus Reubenstein| September 23, 2021,

“Almost comical”. Experts lambast Scott Morrison’s “crazy” AUKUS deal to buy nuclear submarine tech from parlous UK and US programs. Marcus Reubenstein finds a real prospect Australia will be used to “underwrite” the foundering foreign submarine industry.

Twenty-five years of ongoing maintenance delays for nuclear submarines, chronic shortage of both parts and skilled workers, under capacity at shipyards, and attack class submarines missing from deployments for up to nine months. These sound like potential problems for Australia’s future nuclear submarine fleet but they are actual problems right now confronting the US Navy and its fleet of 70 submarines.

The US is at the cutting edge of nuclear propulsion. It has the largest and most sophisticated submarine fleet in the world, its first nuclear submarine was commissioned 67 years ago, and the US has literally decommissioned twice as many nuclear subs as Australia is planning to buy. 

If the US cannot manage to keep its fleet in the water, how can the Morrison government commit up to $100 billion of taxpayer money to secure nuclear submarines and guarantee they will be always operational and ready for deployment?

Professor Hugh White, ANU Professor of Strategic Studies, former Deputy Secretary of Defence and an eminent figure in strategic policy, wrote in The Saturday Paper, “The old plan was to build a conventionally powered version of a nuclear-powered French submarine. It was crazy.”

“The new plan—to buy a nuclear-powered submarine instead—is worse”. 

Says White, “There is a reason why only six countries, all of them nuclear-armed, operate nuclear powered subs.”

The sales pitch is underway 

Last week’s AUKUS announcement was nothing more than PR stunt in Australia, with the government merely committing to spend the next 18 months deciding what to buy—which conveniently kicks any actual the decision far enough down the road to avoid the next federal election. 

The ripples of the announcement, however, reached British shores in double-quick time. Just two days after the AUKUS alliance UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallis announced a $320 million (£170m) grant to be shared between BAE Systems and Rolls Royce to develop technology for Britain’s next generation submarines. 

According to Department of Finance figures, In the past twelve months BAE Systems has collected $1.88 billion from Australian taxpayers. The Astute class submarine, touted as one of the two options Australia is considering, is manufactured by BAE Systems. 

US Naval analyst, and Forbes Defense columnist, Craig Hooper predicts AUKUS could give the US Navy a big shot in the arm as well. He says a deal with Australia could effectively underwrite major improvements to the US Navy’s outdated submarine maintenance facilities by supporting “America’s decade-long, $US25 billion ($34.6 billion) effort to refit the U.S. Navy’s four aging public shipyards. With yard repair costs already high, America would go to great lengths to welcome any additional bidders for shipyard capability improvements.”

US subs in dry dock In a report published six months ago, the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found: “The Navy’s four shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on its submarines (all of which are nuclear-powered).” ………. Should Australia go down the nuclear sub path what choice will it have other than to outsource the fleet’s maintenance?   …..

Her Majesty’s sub optimal fleet

Britain, touted as the alternative nuclear submarine supplier to Australia, has problems of its own. The Royal Navy operates ten submarines, only four of them were designed and commissioned this century. 

Like their American nuclear counterparts there are systemic problems keeping these subs in service……

That report also indicated significant delays to the BAE Systems built Astute hunter-killer submarines, the same class of nuclear submarine being touted for Australian as part of the AUKUS deal……….

September 23, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, marketing, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New push on to expand nuclear radiation compensation in US

New push on to expand nuclear radiation compensation in US, Sep. 22, 2021 By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A bipartisan group of lawmakers is renewing a push to expand a U.S. compensation program for people who were exposed to radiation following uranium mining and nuclear testing carried out during the Cold War.

Advocates have been trying for years to bring awareness to the lingering effects of nuclear fallout surrounding the Trinity Site in southern New Mexico, where the U.S. military detonated the first atomic bomb, and on the Navajo Nation, where more than 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted over decades to support U.S. nuclear activities.

Under legislation introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico, and Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho, other sites across the American West would be added to the list of places affected by fallout and radiation exposure. Eligibility also would be expanded to include certain workers in the industry after 1971, such as miners.

The legislation also would increase the amount of compensation someone can receive to $150,000 and provide coverage for additional forms of cancer.

A multibillion-dollar defense spending package approved last year included an apology to New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and other states affected by radiation from nuclear testing, but no action was taken on legislation that sought to change and broaden the compensation program.

Advocates, including those who testified before Congress earlier this year, say it’s time to do so, especially because the existing provisions are set to expire next July. The legislation would extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, or RECA, another 19 years.

Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, said she has been working on the legislation for months with other residents of places affected by radiation, from Indigenous communities in New Mexico to Gaum.

Continue reading

September 23, 2021 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Militarism’s Toxic Impact on Climate Policy

Biden told the UN General Assembly that “…as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” But his exclusive new military alliance with the U.K. and Australia, and his request for a further increase in military spending to escalate a dangerous arms race with China that the United States started in the first place, reveal just how far Biden has to go to live up to his own rhetoric, on diplomacy as well as on climate change

U.S. Militarism’s Toxic Impact on Climate Policy,    Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies LA Progressive  22 Sept 21,  President Biden addressed the UN General Assembly on September 21 with a warning that the climate crisis is fast approaching a “point of no return,” and a promise that the United States would rally the world to action. “We will lead not just with the example of our power but, God willing, with the power of our example,” he said

But the U.S. is not a leader when it comes to saving our planet. Yahoo News recently published a report titled “Why the U.S. Lags Behind Europe on Climate Goals by 10 or 15 years.” The article was a rare acknowledgment in the U.S. corporate media that the United States has not only failed to lead the world on the climate crisis, but has actually been the main culprit blocking timely collective action to head off a global existential crisis. 

The anniversary of September 11th and the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan should be ringing alarm bells inside the head of every American, warning us that we have allowed our government to spend trillions of dollars waging war, chasing shadows, selling arms and fueling conflict all over the world, while ignoring real existential dangers to our civilization and all of humanity. 

The world’s youth are dismayed by their parents’ failures to tackle the climate crisis. A new survey of 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 in ten countries around the world found that many of them think humanity is doomed and that they have no future.

Three quarters of the young people surveyed said they are afraid of what the future will bring, and 40% say the crisis makes them hesitant to have children. They are also frightened, confused and angered by the failure of governments to respond to the crisis. As the BBC reported, “They feel betrayed, ignored and abandoned by politicians and adults.” 

Young people in the U.S. have even more reason to feel betrayed than their European counterparts. America lags far behind Europe on renewable energy. European countries started fulfilling their climate commitments under the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s and now get 40% of their electricity from renewable sources, while renewables provide only 20% of electric power in America. ………..

 the enormous amount of money the U.S. spends on militarism. Since 2001, the United States has allocated $15 trillion (in FY2022 dollars) to its military budget, outspending its 20 closest military competitors combined. The U.S. spends far more of its GDP (the total value of goods produced and services) on the military than any of the other 29 Nato countries—3.7% in 2020 compared to 1.77%. And while the U.S. has been putting intense pressure on NATO countries to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their militaries, only ten of them have done so. Unlike in the U.S., the military establishment in Europe has to contend with significant opposition from liberal politicians and a more educated and mobilized public.  ………

On climate change, the infrastructure bill includes only $10 billion per year for conversion to green energy, an important but small step that will not reverse our current course toward a catastrophic future. Investments in a Green New Deal must be bookended by corresponding reductions in the military budget if we are to correct our government’s perverted and destructive priorities in any lasting way. This means standing up to the weapons industry and military contractors, which the Biden administration has so far failed to do. 

The reality of America’s 20-year arms race with itself makes complete nonsense of the administration’s claims that the recent arms build-up by China now requires the U.S. to spend even more. China spends only a third of what the U.S. spends, and what is driving China’s increased military spending is its need to defend itself against the ever-growing U.S. war machine that has been “pivoting” to the waters, skies and islands surrounding its shores since the Obama administration.

Biden told the UN General Assembly that “…as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” But his exclusive new military alliance with the U.K. and Australia, and his request for a further increase in military spending to escalate a dangerous arms race with China that the United States started in the first place, reveal just how far Biden has to go to live up to his own rhetoric, on diplomacy as well as on climate change

The United States must go to the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November ready to sign on to the kind of radical steps that the UN and less developed countries are calling for. It must make a real commitment to leaving fossil fuels in the ground; quickly convert to a net-zero renewable energy economy; and help developing countries to do the same. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, the summit in Glasgow “must be the turning point” in the climate crisis.

That will require the United States to seriously reduce the military budget and commit to peaceful, practical diplomacy with China and Russia. Genuinely moving on from our self-inflicted military failures and the militarism that led to them would free up the U.S. to enact programs that address the real existential crisis our planet faces – a crisis against which warships, bombs and missiles are worse than useless.

September 23, 2021 Posted by | climate change, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tragically, Biden continues same nuclear weapons ”modernization” budget as Trump’s

Biden’s Nuclear Weapons Commitments: Dangerous Continuities Tragically, despite widespread high hopes for change, in the existential realm of potentially omnicidal nuclear war preparations, the Biden administration has signaled more continuity than change.

Common Dreams, JOSEPH GERSONSeptember 18, 2021   ”…………………………….. The sad and dangerous truth is that the nuclear weapons budget President Biden submitted to Congress differs little from Trump’s nuclear weapons “modernization” commitments. Despite Biden’s election year and earlier statements that the “sole use” of nuclear weapons that he could imagine was in response to a nuclear attack against the United States, the budget he submitted to Congress includes funding to replace the country’s entire arsenal of first-strike—use them or lose them—ground based ICBMs. So too the budget Congress will be voting on includes funding to produce 80 plutonium pits (the fissile core of a nuclear warhead) per year—each one of which with the destructive capability to devastate cities as large as Shanghai, Karachi and Moscow. Biden and his Pentagon also expect to win funding for the extremely destabilizing “more usable” tactical (roughly Hiroshima sized) B-61-12 bound for Europe, the nuclear air-launched cruise Long Range Standoff Weapon, and new warheads for submarine launched missiles, all designed to hold China hostage to a U.S. first-strike attack. 

What is driving China’s anticipated increase in the size of its nuclear arsenal and fears that it might abandon its no first use doctrine? The answer is those standoff cruise missiles and U.S. missile defenses that are being deployed along China’s periphery that Chinese officials and analysts fear could make first-strike nuclear war fighting attractive to U.S. leaders.

Days prior to the Congressional budget debate and on the eve of the launching of the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Intelligence Agency stoked elite panic with the release of photographs which convincingly demonstrate that Beijing has initiated construction of 250 missile silos for Chinese land-based strategic intercontinental nuclear missiles. 

Yet,former lead U.S. arms control negotiator and Deputy NATO Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silo holes being dug in northern China are a simply a “great distraction”.  As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and unwilling to press for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: “getting rid of them.”  She is willing to concede that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to reinforce its “second strike deterrence posture”, which is threatened by U.S. nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited U.S. resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruples the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of those silos, it will still have fewer nuclear weapons than the United States or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not to be panicked into funding the Pentagon’s wish list of Strangelovian nuclear weapons     former lead U.S. arms control negotiator and Deputy NATO Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silo holes being dug in northern China are a simply a “great distraction”.  As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and unwilling to press for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: “getting rid of them.”  She is willing to concede that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to reinforce its “second strike deterrence posture”, which is threatened by U.S. nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited U.S. resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruples the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of those silos, it will still have fewer nuclear weapons than the United States or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not to be panicked into funding the Pentagon’s wish list of Strangelovian nuclear weapons  former lead U.S. arms control negotiator and Deputy NATO Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silo holes being dug in northern China are a simply a “great distraction”.  As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and unwilling to press for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: “getting rid of them.”  She is willing to concede that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to reinforce its “second strike deterrence posture”, which is threatened by U.S. nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited U.S. resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruples the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of those silos, it will still have fewer nuclear weapons than the United States or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not to be panicked into funding the Pentagon’s wish list of Strangelovian nuclear weapons.

At the policy making level there are four theaters of political struggle: 1) Congress and its debates over Biden’s $634 ten-year nuclear weapons funding proposal and No First Use legislation; 2) the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review; 3) January’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the U.N., and 4) the March 2022 governmental First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in Geneva.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has called out the Biden administration for failing to propose a nuclear weapons spending that “does not reflect your longstanding efforts to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons.” They oppose funding for new submarine launched nuclear warheads, to maintain the B83 gravity bombs with an explosive yield of up to 100 times the Hiroshima A-bomb, and for the Long-Range Standoff Weapon described above. And, while not calling for the total elimination of first-strike land-based ICBMs, they oppose funding for the creation of a new generation of these omnicidal weapons. They also urge that the Biden Nuclear Posture Review, which will be conducted with little public or Congressional input by the Pentagon and senior administration “national security” officials, mandate reduction of the nation’s reliance on nuclear weapons. 

Internationally, pressure for nuclear weapons abolition will manifest itself at the NPT Review Conference and TPNW First Meeting early in the new year. With the world’s nuclear powers upgrading, and in many cases expanding,  their nuclear arsenals, there is little hope that progress will be made to fulfill the nuclear powers’ Article VI Treaty commitment to engaging in good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals. And, with the Biden administration’s embrace of Israel’s new right-wing (and racist) government, it is unlikely that it will voice support for or take action to implement Washington’s earlier NPT commitment to co-convene an international conference for the creation of a Middle East Nuclear and WMD-Free Zone.  

Dim as prospects are for a successful NPT Review, it remains important for activists and international civil society to press as hard as we can for the full implementation of this seminally important treaty. Silence, being consent, would leave the nuclear powers with an open field.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Don’t Let Presidents Start Nuclear Wars on Their Own

Don’t Let Presidents Start Nuclear Wars on Their Own

In the U.S., one person has vast, essentially unchecked power to launch a nuclear strike. The country needs stronger guardrails to protect against a catastrophic miscalculation.  Bloomberg, By Editorial Board 20 September 2021 In the final days of Donald Trump’s administration, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered some very unusual instructions to senior military officials. If they received orders to launch an attack, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons, they were to “do the process” of consulting with him first. The general asked all of the officers to verbally signal their assent, which he reportedly considered “an oath.”

That’s according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Milley had become so alarmed at Trump’s addled behavior, the authors say, that he felt the added safeguards were necessary to forestall a calamity……..

.. highlight a longstanding but largely unresolved danger: the lack of guardrails to prevent a reckless or unstable president from starting a nuclear war.

Following the latest revelations, Republicans have accused Milley of everything from insubordination to treason. But whether he acted improperly is debatable.

…… As it happens, there’s no evidence that Trump was contemplating using nukes. But that doesn’t mean the world is safe from future presidents in a similar situation……

September 21, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear Modernization Casts Budget Shadow Over Air Force Plans

Nuclear Modernization Casts Budget Shadow Over Air Force Plans

“There’s no free money, right, so it has to come from somewhere,” said Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements. Breaking Defense, By   THERESA HITCHENS September 20, 2021

 AFA: The fundamental budget challenge facing the Air Force is the “nuclear bow wave” of spending required to modernize its nuclear force structure, with a “major danger” that those costs will make all the service’s other modernization plans untenable, said Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, who leads future force development.

“There’s no free money, right, so it has to come from somewhere,” he told reporters during the annual Air Force Association conference here. “But if it comes from the top line of the Department of the Air Force, and frankly the Department of Navy, it’s going to crowd out other things, other investments, and it’s going to be very difficult to have a modern Air Force and a modern Space Force, a modern Navy, and recapitalize the nuclear triad. That’s where we are right now.”

The Congressional Budget Office in May 2021 estimated the price tag for the total DoD triad modernization effort at $405 billion from 2021 through 2030, up from the $238 billion it estimated in 2019. This ginormous price tag does not include spending by the Energy Department to build the nuclear warheads that would be carried by DoD’s ICBMs, bombers and subs…….

September 21, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bipartisan House group asks Biden to stop Canada’s Great Lakes nuclear storage plans

Bipartisan House group asks Biden to stop Canada’s Great Lakes nuclear storage plans, The Hill, BY SHARON UDASIN – 09/17/21 01:20 PM EDTRep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) is calling on the Biden administration to stop the Canadian government from storing nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin. 

 The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a nonprofit established by the Canadian government, recently unveiled plans to construct a site that “would permanently store more than 50,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste” in the town of South Bruce, Ontario, Kildee’s office said.

South Bruce, located within the Great Lakes Basin, is about 30 miles east of Lake Huron.

Kildee in a release from his office described high-level nuclear waste as “the most dangerous form of nuclear waste,” and said that if an accident involving such waste occurred in the Great Lakes region, it could take a catastrophic toll on public health in surrounding U.S. and Canadian communities.

“The Great Lakes are central to our way of life, and permanently storing nuclear waste so close to our shared waterways puts our economies and millions of jobs at risk in the fishing, boating and tourism industries,” Kildee said. “People in both the U.S. and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, which could be contaminated if there ever was a nuclear waste incident.”

Kildee is offering a bipartisan resolution asking President Biden to work with the Canadian government to stop the plans for the storage. The resolution is co-sponsored by 11 Democrats and nine Republicans from states surrounding the Great Lakes.

“From recreational activities to economic opportunities, the Great Lakes are integral to our daily lives, and a spill of hazardous materials would be devastating to communities across the state,” one of the co-sponsors, Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), said in a statement. “We must continue to urge our Canadian allies to find an alternative storage site for nuclear waste.”

Tribal Chief Tim Davis, of the Michigan-based Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, added his concerns, noting his community’s ongoing work “to eliminate the continuing threat of nuclear waste being deposited into Mother Earth so close to the largest fresh water repository on Earth.”……….

September 19, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics international, USA, water | Leave a comment

U.S. generals planning for a space war they see as all but inevitable

U.S. generals planning for a space war they see as all but inevitable, Space News, by Sandra Erwin — September 17, 2021 A ship in the Pacific Ocean carrying a high-power laser takes aim at a U.S. spy satellite, blinding its sensors and denying the United States critical eyes in the sky.

This is one scenario that military officials and civilian leaders fear could lead to escalation and wider conflict as rival nations like China and Russia step up development and deployments of anti-satellite weapons.

If a satellite came under attack, depending on the circumstances, “the appropriate measures can be taken,” said Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command.

The space battlefield is not science fiction and anti-satellite weapons are going to be a reality in future armed conflicts, Shaw said at the recent 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

U.S. Space Command is responsible for military operations in the space domain, which starts at the Kármán line, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface. This puts Space Command in charge of protecting U.S. satellites from attacks and figuring out how to respond if hostile acts do occur…………

A key reason why the space race is accelerating is that technology is advancing so rapidly, Smith said. A second reason is the absence of “binding commitments on what the operating norms are going to be in space,” she said. “And without that, we’re very likely to have a space war.”

The only foundation of international space law that currently exists, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, is outdated and doesn’t address most space security issues that could set off a war, Smith noted.

The treaty bans the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, prohibits military activities on celestial bodies and contains legally binding rules governing the peaceful exploration and use of space. But a new set of rules is needed for the current space age, Smith said. “We really haven’t addressed some of the very difficult questions. Can a nation tailgate another nation’s satellite? Is preemptive self defense going to be permissible? Are we going to ban any form of weapons in space?”…….

September 18, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Generals Should Not Have to Break the Rules to Prevent Nuclear War

Generals Should Not Have to Break the Rules to Prevent Nuclear War, Rather than criticizing Milley, we need to change the policy that put him in an impossible spot. Defense News,  BY TOM Z. COLLINA, POLICY DIRECTOR, PLOUGHSHARES FUND, SEPTEMBER 16, 2021 

Just after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Gen. Mark Milley faced an impossible choice: should he allow President Trump to retain sole authority to start nuclear war, or should he intervene to block such an order?

Convinced that Trump had suffered “serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election,” Gen. Milley decided to intervene, ordering his staff to come to him if they received a strike order from the president.

“No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure,” Milley told the officers, according to Peril, a new book by journalist Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. “You never know what a president’s trigger point is.”But Gen. Milley—though chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president’s chief military advisor—is not formally part of that procedure. As former Defense Secretary Bill Perry and I explore in our book The Button, policy established during the Cold War puts decisions about the use of nuclear weapons are solely in the hands of the civilian president, not Congress and above all not the military. All the president needs to do is call the Pentagon’s War Room—using the nuclear “football” or some other means—then identify himself and give the order to launch. The president may choose to consult with senior advisors such as Gen. Milley but is not required to.

If the Woodward-Costa report is accurate, therefore, Gen. Milley was breaking the rules and his actions were likely illegal and unconstitutional. (His spokesperson has said that the general “continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution.”) And his efforts might not have worked anyway, since his staff could still have chosen to honor the president’s orders over the general’s………

Even so, it was the right thing to do. Should Gen. Milley have let a clearly unstable president start nuclear war just to follow protocol? Of course not. ..

September 18, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Mexico backs Texas in opposing nuclear fuel storage

New Mexico backs Texas in opposing nuclear fuel storage
APN News, By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, 17 Sept 21, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Top New Mexico leaders say they’re open to “most anything” that would prevent spent nuclear fuel and other high-level waste from being stored indefinitely in the state, including legislation like a measure recently adopted by Texas to prevent the shipping and storage of such waste.

The renewed criticism this week of planned temporary storage facilities in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico came as federal regulators just granted a license for the proposed operation in Texas.

Interim Storage Partners LLC plans to build a facility in Andrews County that could take up to 5,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods from power plants and 231 million tons of other radioactive waste.

In New Mexico, Holtec International is awaiting approval of its license application for a facility that initially would store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent fuel over six decades.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and other top officials already have submitted comments in opposition to the multibillion-dollar proposal on their side of the state line and to the Texas project. New Mexico also is suing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, claiming it hasn’t done enough to vet Holtec’s plans.

Lujan Grisham’s office said it would be open to exploring legislation and to seeking funding that could boost efforts by New Mexico regulators to push back administratively……..

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has a similar stance and tweeted this week that “’Texas will not become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground.”……..

September 18, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Top U.S. general feared that Trump might start a nuclear war

Top general was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart, new book says. ‘Peril,’ by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reveals that Gen. Mark A. Milley called his Chinese counterpart before the election and after Jan. 6 in a bid to avert armed conflict. WP, By Isaac Stanley-Becker, 5 Sept 21,

Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict.

In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Donald Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.

The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China.

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

Li took the chairman at his word, the authors write in the book, “Peril,” which is set to be released next week.

In the second call, placed to address Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6, Li wasn’t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him, “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

Li remained rattled, and Milley, who did not relay the conversation to Trump, according to the book, understood why. The chairman, 62 at the time and chosen by Trump in 2018, believed the president had suffered a mental decline after the election, the authors write, a view he communicated to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a phone call on Jan. 8. He agreed with her evaluation that Trump was unstable, according to a call transcript obtained by the authors.

Believing that China could lash out if it felt at risk from an unpredictable and vengeful American president, Milley took action. The same day, he called the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, and recommended postponing the military exercises, according to the book. The admiral complied.

Milley also summoned senior officers to review the procedures for launching nuclear weapons, saying the president alone could give the order — but, crucially, that he, Milley, also had to be involved. Looking each in the eye, Milley asked the officers to affirm that they had understood, the authors write, in what he considered an “oath.”

The chairman knew that he was “pulling a Schlesinger,” the authors write, resorting to measures resembling the ones taken in August 1974 by James R. Schlesinger, the defense secretary at the time. Schlesinger told military officials to check with him and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs before carrying out orders from President Richard M. Nixon, who was facing impeachment at the time.

Though Milley went furthest in seeking to stave off a national security crisis, his alarm was shared throughout the highest ranks of the administration, the authors reveal. CIA Director Gina Haspel, for instance, reportedly told Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup.”

The book’s revelations quickly made Milley a target of GOP ire.

Trump, speaking Tuesday evening on the conservative television network Newsmax, labeled the chairman’s reported actions “treason” and said, “I did not ever think of attacking China.”Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote a letter to President Biden urging him to dismiss the Joint Chiefs chairman, saying he had undermined the commander in chief and “contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party in advance of a potential armed conflict …” A White House spokeswoman earlier Tuesday declined to comment on the book. Milley’s office did not respond to a request for comment…………

 In discussions about Iran’s nuclear program, Trump declined to rule out striking the country, at times even displaying curiosity about the prospect, according to the book. Haspel was so alarmed after a meeting in November that she called Milley to say, “This is a highly dangerous situation. We are going to lash out for his ego?”

………………. with Jan. 6, Milley thought as he wrestled with the meaning of that day, telling senior staff: “What you might have seen was a precursor to something far worse down the road.”

September 16, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Latest on America’s plutonium ”pits” costly fiasco

Stumbling plutonium pit project reveals DOE’s uphill climb of nuclear modernization,  BY TOM CLEMENTS, — 09/15/21   

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is mounting a full-court press for the “modernization” of the nuclear weapons production complex, an effort packed with capital-intensive projects on which contractors thrive. A cornerstone of modernization, a new plant to make the plutonium “pits” for new nuclear weapons already faces problems. Yet, Congress and the Biden administration are moving ahead despite gathering storm clouds.

“Pits” are the hollow plutonium spheres that cause the initial nuclear explosion in all U.S. nuclear weapons. New pits would first go into the new W87-1 warhead for a new missile, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), meant to replace the U.S.’s current ICBMs. Second in the queue is a submarine launched missile. Both weapons have their detractors, but pits could prove to be their ultimate stumbling block.

The new pit plant will be at DOE’s sprawling Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Already SRS’s plans face massive cost increases and schedule delays, causing skepticism in Congress.

In 2020, NNSA presented an initial cost estimate of $4.6 billion for the SRS pit plant. By June of this year that cost estimate had more than doubled to a stunning $11 billion. Timelines continue to slip as well. NNSA has quietly admitted in its fiscal year 2022 budget request that the original 2030 operational date to produce 50 pits had slipped until between 2032 and 2035.  

While more schedule setbacks loom, the NNSA has tried to save some time by cutting corners. The most obvious is the rushed manner in which they conducted a legally required environmental analysis of the project. In their haste, NNSA failed to analyze environmental justice concerns and impacts of pit production across the DOE complex. Of paramount concern, disposal of plutonium waste has not been reviewed. Public interest groups filed a lawsuit against DOE on June 29, demanding preparation of a required Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. A response to the lawsuit is due on Sept. 27. 

None of this should be surprising. SRS lacks pit production experience and has a record of problems. Perhaps that is why the NNSA is also having the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico to also produce pits. That lab has been assigned to ramp up its current pit production with a goal of producing 30 pits per year by 2026 ¾ a tall task for a facility plagued by plutonium-handling problems.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, knows all of this. He highlighted the agency’s chronic inability to carry out modernization projects earlier this year saying, “in nearly every instance, NNSA programs have seen massive cost increases, schedule delays, and cancellations of billion-dollar programs. This must end.”

On Aug. 31, when speaking about pit production in a Brookings Institution virtual event, Smith went further saying that “Savannah River sort of gives me an involuntary twitch after the whole MOX disaster. I don’t trust them.” 

And what a disaster it was. MOX was a plutonium fuel plant at SRS that NNSA wasted $8 billion on before termination in 2018. Smith’s mistrust is well placed— his committee should investigate the failed construction of the MOX plant before handing the same facility billions more for a new project.

In the event at Brookings, Smith defended his lack of action on pits and the GBSD, saying that decisions about them are in a “tactical pause” until the cost of the SRS plutonium bomb plant is clearer and as we wait and see if President Biden will honor his pledge to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, of which almost 4,000 are deployed or in active reserve. 

Of course, Smith is incorrect as there is no pause in either the projects or the spending. If he wants a real pause, he must act. Without strong leadership and oversight, the programs could quickly develop the same inertia as MOX leaving us with another multi-billion fiasco with nothing to show for it.

He and his colleagues should fight to reduce fiscal year 2022 funding authorization in the National Defense Authorization Act for the SRS pit plant ($710 million), Los Alamos pit production ($1 billion) and the W87-1 warhead ($691 million for NNSA and $2.6 billion for the Department of Defense). He should review the reuse of 15,000 existing pits stored at DOE’s Pantex Plant in Texas. He should also demand a proper environmental review of pit production.

Waiting for Biden is an inadequate strategy. Action is needed now by Chairman Smith and Congress to increase our collective security by fulfilling their leadership responsibilities. Requiring a true pause on pit production would not only stop money from being wasted on this project but would act as a wake-up call that nuclear weapons projects don’t have a blank check from Congress.

Tom Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch a public interest organization in Columbia, South Carolina, which monitors U.S. Department of Energy management of weapon-usable materials, nuclear weapons production, and clean-up of high-level nuclear waste, with a focus on the Savannah River Site.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A site once earmarked for nuclear power will now assemble wind turbines

A site once earmarked for nuclear power will now assemble wind turbines,   WHYY, This story originally appeared on NJ Spotlight. Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight, 15 Sept 21,

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and PSEG have signed a longtime lease on land that is planned to become home to the New Jersey Wind Port — a step enhancing the state’s goal of becoming the hub of a burgeoning offshore wind industry.

The site, located on an artificial island in Lower Alloways Creek in Salem County next to three PSEG nuclear plants, is viewed by the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy as an almost ideal location to serve the supply needs of an offshore wind sector that’s expected to take root up and down the Eastern seaboard.

With an expansive footprint alongside Delaware Bay, lack of height restrictions, and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean’s wind farm lease areas, the Wind Port is one of a few select spots on the East Coast that can accommodate the marshalling, assembly and shipping of the huge turbines used to generate offshore wind power. Hundreds of feet tall, offshore wind turbines cannot fit beneath bridges, power lines and other naturally occurring barriers.

For PSEG, the lease agreement also should prove to be lucrative. The site was once viewed as the location for a fourth nuclear unit. But the company abandoned that concept when it appeared economically unsound. Now it’s looking to use the land to help secure its foothold in the emerging offshore wind industry. PSEG already has a 25% stake in the state’s first offshore wind farm, a 1,100-megawatt facility off Atlantic City to be built by Ørsted……….

“The New Jersey Wind Port is a transformational investment that will create hundreds of good jobs and drive billions of dollars of economic activity in South Jersey and throughout the state,” said EDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.

PSEG Chief Operating Officer Ralph LaRossa agreed. “Alongside PSEG nuclear plants, the New Jersey Wind Port will establish South Jersey as the heart of New Jersey economy,’’ he said. “By supporting the development of renewable energy and offshore wind power, this lease will establish New Jersey as the destination for clean energy development, operations, training, skills and innovation.’’

New Jersey has approved three wind projects, including two by Ørsted, one of the largest offshore wind developers, and another by New Shell Ventures and EDF Renewables — all in the Atlantic Ocean. The Murphy administration wants to develop 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035.

Along the East Coast, offshore investment through 2035 is anticipated to exceed $150 billion, according to the EDA.

The first rule of real estate and offshore wind is location, location, and location,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “The New Jersey Wind Port is uniquely positioned to jump start the state’s offshore wind industry and offshore wind in the region.’’

September 16, 2021 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

USA developing space-based electromagnetic warfare

This is just the beginning.

How DOD is taking its Mission to Space SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 | WALTER PINCUS  Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief.  Pincus spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  He is the author of Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders (releasing November 2021)

While others this past weekend have been looking back to 9/11, U.S. Space Command is looking forward to the next domain of warfare — in the heavens — to be directed from a Space Electromagnetic Operating Base somewhere in the United States.

Space Command’s Systems Command, Enterprise Corps and Special Programs Directorate, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., are looking for potential contractors to run an ambitious, five-year program that will, by 2027, design, develop, deliver and operate a Space Electromagnetic Warfare facility whose primary purpose would be to jam or destroy enemy satellite and land-based communications in time of war.

It all was described in a request for information published September 1, for possible contractors to provide their potential capabilities and interest in taking on the job.

The U.S. may not have done well here on earth against the Taliban in Afghanistan, but Space Command is moving to stay ahead of its big-power competitors in using the electromagnetic spectrum for use as a weapon against potential adversary satellites in space.

As the Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently described it, “The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of wavelengths or frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. It includes radio waves, microwaves, visible light, X-rays, and gamma rays.”

The majority of military communications capabilities use radio waves and microwaves. Infrared and ultraviolet spectrums can disseminate large volumes of data, including video, over long distances – for example, intelligence collection and distribution. The military can also use lasers offensively, to dazzle satellite sensors, destroy drones, and for other purposes, according to the CRS.

Electronic warfare is not new – it was extensively used in World War II and its uses have been growing ever since.

CRS described it this way: “Missiles in general, and anti-air munitions in particular, use either infrared or radar for terminal guidance (i.e., guiding a missile once it has been launched) to targets. Electronic jammers are used to deny an adversary access to the spectrum. These jammers are primarily used in the radio and microwave frequencies (and sometimes paired together), preventing communications (both terrestrially and space-based) as well as radar coverage. Militaries have also begun using lasers to disable intelligence collection sensors, destroy small unmanned aerial systems (aka ‘drones’), and communicate with satellites.”

Back in 1977, I covered a House hearing when Dr. George Ullrich, then-Deputy Director of Defense Special Weapons Agency, described resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing in 1962 following a three-year testing moratorium. One test, called Starfish Prime, was a 1.4 megaton, high-altitude detonation. It took place over Johnston Island in the South Pacific at an altitude of about 250 miles – the largest nuclear test ever conducted in outer space.

Ullrich testified that the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) effects of the Starfish explosion surprisingly knocked out the telephone service and street lights on Hawaiian Islands, which were 800 miles east of the detonation. Years later, Ullrich wrote that another surprise outcome had been that months after the 1962 detonation, an AT&T satellite transmitting television signals from space died prematurely followed by the early failure of other satellites.

Ullrich closed on a note more relevant to today. “High-altitude EMP does not distinguish between military and civilian systems. Unhardened infrastructure systems, such as commercial power grids, telecommunication networks, as we have discussed before, remain vulnerable to widespread outages and upsets due to high-altitude EMP. While DOD (Defense Department) hardens their assets it deems vital, no comparable civilian programs exist. Thus, the detonation of one or a few high-altitude nuclear weapons could result in serious problems for the entire U.S. civil and commercial infrastructure.”

There are also non-nuclear, EMP weapons that produce pulses of energy that create a powerful electromagnetic field capable of short-circuiting a wide range of electronic equipment, particularly computers, satellites, radios, radar receivers and even civilian traffic lights.

Key to the proposed Space Electromagnetic Operating Base is L3Harris’ next generation CCS (Counter Communications System) electronic warfare system known as Meadowlands, that can reversibly deny adversaries’ satellite communications. In March 2020, Space Force declared initial operational capability of Meadowlands as “the first offensive weapon system in the United States Space Force.” Currently a road-mobile system, an additional $30 million was added to the program in this fiscal year (2021) to “design forward garrison systems…Accelerate development of new mission techniques to meet advancing threat and integrate techniques into the CCS program of record.”

Defense Daily reported last month that in May, Space Force put out a bid for production of an additional 26 Meadowlands systems with production to go on through fiscal 2025.

The first task listed for the proposed, new Space Electromagnetic Operating Base is to provide a “Space EW (Electromagnetic Warfare) Common Operating Picture” that displays relevant space electromagnetic warfare information via the remote modular terminals (RMTs) of the Meadowland program. Another task will be mission planning to include providing “executable tactical instructions, planning weapon-target pairings, & enabling automated control of multiple SEW assets by a single operator.”

The proposal called for the Space EW common picture to depict the current adversary’s Space Order of Battle (SOB), the current state of space electromagnetic warfare tasking, and real-time status of operations.  The information displayed will come from “real time intelligence, C2, and operational units.  The information from intelligence will include SOB and Battle Damage Assessment (BDA). Command and control (C2) will provide its information to SEWOL [Space Electromagnetic Warfare Operating Location] via secure communications. Operational units will provide systems status, electromagnetic support (ES) reporting, Electromagnetic Attack (EA) strike assessment, and remote assets situational awareness (SA).”

The eventual contractor “will integrate the Meadowlands and RMT Remote Operations capability into the facility’s eventual architecture,” according to the proposal. The architecture of the proposed space warfare operating base “will be scalable and flexible to allow incorporation of future SEW [space electromagnetic warfare] systems. Future SEW systems could have substantially different interfaces from the RMT and Meadowlands systems without a baseline interface, and the development of the COI [common operating interface] will help streamline integration of future systems,” according to the proposal.

While Space Command is focused on an initial location in the continental U.S., the proposal said, “It will then expand to include multiple geographically dispersed operating locations…[which] will be able to control a scalable number of assets. In addition, they can be used interchangeably and/or collaboratively to provide high resiliency and operational flexibility.”

Three weeks ago, on August 24, Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander, declared the nation’s 11th combatant command achieved initial operational capability (IOC). “We are a very different command today at IOC then we were at stand-up in 2019 — having matured and grown into a war fighting force, prepared to address threats from competition to conflict in space, while also protecting and defending our interests in this vast and complex domain.”

to conflict in space, while also protecting and defending our interests in this vast and complex domain.”

This is just the beginning.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Reference, space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Turkey Point nuclear station vulnerable to hurricanes, sea level rise, as climate change continues

Safety concerns at Turkey Point are rising, along with the sea level

BY RACHEL SILVERSTEIN AUGUST 24, 2021 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently granted the world’s first 80-year operating license to Miami’s Turkey Point nuclear reactor – that’s 40 years longer than the plant was ever meant to operate. While there are environmental concerns, this is, first and foremost, an issue of safety.

In the past year alone, three staff members were fired for forging safety inspections, and the plant experienced four unplanned shutdowns, or “scrams” — a disconcerting series of events that led the NRC to take the rare step of downgrading Turkey Point’s safety rating. Turkey Point is now one of only three reactors (out of almost 100 operating nationwide) to have received that ignominious distinction. As Turkey Point’s neighbors, this should alarm us.

Built in the 1970s by Florida Power & Light (FPL) — at a time when the world’s most powerful computers contained about as much storage capacity as a Casio watch — Turkey Point is the NRC’s first foray into this high-stakes game of nuclear roulette. The NRC’s extended license will allow the Turkey Point reactor to continue limping along through 2052. No nuclear plant anywhere in the world has ever operated that long, and the plant — with its Cold War technology, Cold War design and Cold War engineering — was never intended to do so.

If you live in South Florida, you likely know all about the crippling deficiencies that have hampered this aging plant for the past decade or so. It is uncontested, even by FPL, that the reactor’s cooling system — a giant, radiator-like series of unlined canals that’s not used in any other plant in the United States — has been leaking into Miami’s drinking-water supply; this contamination, in turn, has made it difficult for the reactor to tap into a reliable source of fresh water — without which the scalding reactor cannot properly cool itself.

South Florida, of course, gets hurricanes, and Turkey Point — like the Japanese reactor at Fukushima — sits precariously right on the water’s edge, with a growing population of more than 3 million people living less than 25 miles away. Now layer on the NRC’s refusal to consider realistic sea-level rise projections. Instead of trusting federal government recommendations to plan critical infrastructure for at least 6 feet of sea level rise by 2100, the NRC, instead, is accepting FPL’s own internal estimate: just one foot of sea-level rise by 2100.

Even the least severe government projections (as calculated by University of Florida mapping tools) predict that the cooling system will be underwater by 2040 — 12 years before this new license is set to expire.

Given the lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima —that the costs of nuclear meltdowns are essentially infinite — should this unaccountable administrative agency really get to ignore key science from other federal agencies? This is why citizen groups such as mine and our partners have been challenging this license through the NRC’s administrative court system.

But the NRC granted this unprecedented license to FPL before our appeal had even been decided, let alone heard by a federal judge.

In doing so, the agency has seriously curtailed judicial oversight of the executive branch. Considering the close relationship between the nuclear industry and the NRC, it’s no surprise that the NRC has never — not once — refused to extend a nuclear reactor’s operating license.

Our community deserves to have all the facts about Turkey Point and its safety considerations. Reach out to our representatives to get answers to these important questions:

Who is in charge of a cleanup if the canals or the plant is inundated? What is FPL’s plan for dealing with sea-level rise? What is Plan B for providing energy to this region if the plant can no longer operate? What does this alarming safety-rating downgrade mean for us?

Our country, in short, doesn’t need limitless license extensions for flood-prone, leaking, vulnerable nuclear plants. What we need instead is to unleash American scientific and technical ingenuity to engineer the renewable-energy solutions of the future — and the regulatory support to foster the emergence of these new solutions.

Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D., is executive director and waterkeeper of Miami Waterkeeper, a South Florida-based non-profit organization with a mission to ensure swimmable, drinkable, fishable, water.

“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.

September 14, 2021 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment