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Japan’s plutonium surplus, its history, and its danger

Ed. Note: Many in Japan are now seeing this info for the first time since their PRESS has be limited by Abe’s Gov’t which is “in bed” with the Nuclear Industry.   

Japan’s Plutonium Overhang, Wilson Center, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project Jun 7, 2017 By William Burr   Plutonium, a key element of nuclear weapons, has been an issue in U.S.-Japan relations for decades. During the administration of Jimmy Carter, the Japanese government pressed Washington for permission to process spent reactor fuel of U.S. origin so that the resulting plutonium could be used for experiments with fast breeder nuclear reactors. The government of Japan wanted to develop a “plutonium economy,” but U.S. government officials worried about the consequences of building plants to reprocess reactor fuel. According to a memo by National Security Council staffer Gerald Oplinger, published for the first time by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, the “projected plants would more than swamp the projected plutonium needs of all the breeder R&D programs in the world.” That “will produce a vast surplus of pure, weapons grade plutonium … which would constitute a danger in itself.” Indeed, as a result of reprocessing activities since then, Japan possesses 48 tons of plutonium and could be producing more, with no clearly defined use, when a new reprocessing facility goes on line in 2018………

    • The risk of nuclear of proliferation was a significant element in Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, which raised questions about the hazards of nuclear energy and attacked the Ford administration for ignoring the “deadly threat posed by plutonium in the hands of terrorists.” Not long after his inauguration, Carter signed

Presidential Directive 8,-which declared that “U.S. non-proliferation policy shall be directed at preventing the development and use of sensitive nuclear power technologies which involve direct access to plutonium, highly enriched uranium, or other weapons useable material in non-nuclear weapons states, and at minimizing the global accumulation of these materials.”

Consistent with this, Carter called for an indefinite deferral of commercial reprocessing and the recycle of plutonium in the U.S. and restructuring U.S. breeder reactor programs to develop “alternative designs to the plutonium breeder.” He also directed U.S. nuclear R&D spending to focus on the “development of alternative nuclear fuel cycles which do not involve access to weapons useable materials.” …….
Since the 1988 agreement Japan’s nuclear plans have gone awry. The Fukushima disaster raised questions about nuclear energy as a power source while the Monju fast breeder reactor turned out to be a tremendously expensive boondoggle, which the Japanese government decided to decommission in late 2016 (during more than 20 years it operated only 250 days). The government remains interested in developing plutonium-fueled fast reactors but that is a remote prospect. Plans to use plutonium in a mixed oxide (MOX) reactor fuel have come to naught. At present, therefore, Japan has no clearly defined use for the 48 tons of separated plutonium that it owns, some 11 tons of which are on Japanese territory.
The surpluses, which emerged as anticipated, continue to worry arms control experts, including some, such as Robert Gallucci, who were involved in the 1980 debate. Terrorists would need only a few kilograms of plutonium for a weapon with mass destruction potential.   In the meantime, the Rokkasho reprocessing facility is scheduled to go on-line in 2018. The industrial scale facility is slated to separate 8 tons of plutonium maximum annually, although Japan has no specific plans for using most of it. 2018 is the same year that the 1988 U.S.-Japan agreement is slated to expire, although whether the Trump administration has any interest in renegotiating it remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the South Korean government, which cannot reprocess, under existing agreements with Washington, asks why it cannot do what Japan has been doing.

When NSC staffer Gerald Oplinger wrote that the plutonium surplus would constitute a “danger in itself,” he probably assumed an environmental hazard and possibly a proliferation risk and vulnerability to terrorism. He did not mention the latter risks, although the reference to surpluses of “weapons grade” material evoked such concerns. While Japanese reprocessing plants would be producing reactor-grade plutonium, it nevertheless has significant weapons potential.  On the question of Japan’s nuclear intentions, the documents from this period that have been seen by the editor are silent; it is not clear whether U.S. officials wondered whether elements of the government of Japan had a weapons option in the back of their mind. Any such U.S. speculation, however, would have had to take into account strong Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment, rooted in terrible historical experience, Japan’s membership in good standing in the nonproliferation community, and that since the days of Prime Minister Sato, the “three Nos” has been official national policy: no possession, no manufacture, and no allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory.  According to a 1974 national intelligence estimate, Japan was keeping “open” the possibility of a nuclear weapons capability and had the resources to produce weapons in a few years, but the intelligence agencies were divided over the likelihood of such a development. The CIA, State Department intelligence, and Army intelligence saw such a course of action as highly unlikely without a collapse of U.S. security guarantee and the emergence of a significant threat to Japan’s security.

Sources for this posting include State Department FOIA releases as well as recently declassified records at the National Archives, including the records of Gerard C. Smith and Secretary of State Edmund Muskie. Many documents on Japan from the Smith files are awaiting declassification review.

Documents in this release:…..https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/japans-plutonium-overhang

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April 18, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against Santee Cooper, claims that investors were deceived over nuclear project risks

Lawsuit: Santee Cooper misled investors about failed SC nuclear project, Post and Courier,   By John McDermott jmcdermott@postandcourier.comm Apr 17, 2019  

A Santee Cooper investor is suing the state-owned power company and its former chief executive, alleging they violated securities laws by not adequately disclosing the financial risks associated with the V.C. Summer nuclear project while selling debt several years ago.

Murray C. Turka is seeking class-action status to include others who purchased as much as $118 million of the utility’s “Mini-Bonds” from 2014 to 2016.

Lonnie Carter, who was Santee Cooper’s CEO at the time, is named a co-defendant in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston this week.

The lawsuit alleges Carter and other key decision-makers knew by mid-2015 that the expansion of the V.C. Summer power plant “was hopelessly behind schedule” based on a largely unfavorable assessment of the troubled project by the engineering firm Bechtel Corp.

Auditors found that the reactors’ designs were sometimes impossible to build, that construction wouldn’t be finished in time to qualify for critical federal tax breaks and that South Carolina’s utilities were either too “inexperienced or reluctant to act” as problems mounted.

“Still, executives disclosed nothing of this to Mini-Bond investors,” according to the complaint…….. https://www.postandcourier.com/business/lawsuit-santee-cooper-misled-investors-about-failed-sc-nuclear-project/article_2dc4cd10-612a-11e9-a41c-8f4e572cf265.html

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration stops govt practice of disclosing numbers of nuclear weapons

US halts recent practice of disclosing nuclear weapon total,  https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/US-halts-recent-practice-of-disclosing-nuclear-13775654.php Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer, April 17, 2019  WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has halted, without explanation, the recent U.S. government practice of disclosing the current size of the nuclear weapons stockpile.
The decision was revealed in a recent Department of Energy letter to the Federation of American Scientists, a private group that studies nuclear weapons issues and advocates for government openness on national security issues.
The Obama administration, in May 2010, had declassified for the first time the full history of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile from its beginning in 1945. It revealed that the warhead total stood at 5,113 as of Sept. 30, 2009, approximately the number that private experts had estimated and about 84 percent below the official peak number of 31,255 warheads in 1967.

As recently as last year, the Trump administration had disclosed that the stockpile consisted of 3,822 nuclear warheads as of Sept. 30, 2017, down 196 warheads from the year before. The 2017 figure was made public in response to a request by the scientists group, which asked for a 2018 update last October.

“After careful consideration … it was determined that the requested information cannot be declassified at this time,” the Energy Department wrote in an April 5 letter responding to the federation’s request. The department provided no explanation for the decision, which it said was made by the Formerly Restricted Data Declassification Working Group, consisting of officials from the departments of Defense and Energy.

“Formerly Restricted Data” is a category of classification that pertains to information such as nuclear stockpile quantities, warhead yields and locations.

The Russian government does not disclose its nuclear stockpile total. The Federation of American Scientists estimates Russia has about 4,350.

Nuclear warheads are attached to bombs and missiles, such as those carried by strategic bomber aircraft, ballistic missile submarines and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, which form the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Hans M. Kristensen, director of the federation’s Nuclear Information Project, wrote in an analysis Wednesday that the decision against disclosing the 2018 nuclear stockpile number was “unnecessary and counterproductive.” In his view there is no national security rationale for keeping the number secret.

“The decision walks back nearly a decade of U.S. nuclear weapons transparency policy — in fact, longer if including stockpile transparency initiatives in the late-1990s,” Kristensen wrote.

“With this decision,” he added, “the Trump administration surrenders any pressure on other nuclear-armed states to be more transparent about the size of their nuclear weapon stockpiles. This is curious since the Trump administration had repeatedly complained about secrecy in the Russian and Chinese arsenals. Instead, it now appears to endorse their secrecy.”

The Pentagon did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Conflicts of interest in the Trump group’s push to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia

April 18, 2019 Posted by | marketing, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

AARP Ohio, on behalf of its 1.5 million members and families, strongly Ohio nuclear subsidies

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, politics, USA | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear lobby spending up big to get $millions in State subsidies

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

China gambles on untested “Hualong One” nuclear reactor, and plans for international sales

China goes all-in on home grown tech in push for nuclear dominance, David Stanway, SHANGHAI (Reuters)17 Apr 19 – China plans to gamble on the bulk deployment of its untested “Hualong One” nuclear reactor, squeezing out foreign designs, as it resumes a long-delayed nuclear program aimed at meeting its clean energy goals, government and industry officials said.

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, was once seen as a “shop window” for big nuclear developers to show off new technologies, with Beijing embarking on a program to build plants based on designs from France, the United States, Russia and Canada.

But after years of construction delays, overseas models such as Westinghouse’s AP1000 and France’s “Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor” (EPR) are now set to lose out in favor of new localized technologies, industry experts and officials said.

……….Though China has yet to complete its first Hualong One, officials are confident it will not encounter the delays suffered by rivals, and say it can compete on safety and cost.

Beijing has already decided to use the Hualong One for its first newly commissioned nuclear project in three years, set to begin construction later this year at Zhangzhou, a site originally earmarked for the AP1000. [nL3N2152KM]

……… EDF, France’s state-run utility, which helped build the EPR project at Taishan in Guangdong province, declined to comment. Westinghouse, now owned by Brookfield after entering bankruptcy restructuring, also did not respond to a request for comment.

INTERNATIONAL AMBITIONS

China’s ambitions for the Hualong One extend overseas as well. The first foreign project using the reactor is under construction in Pakistan and the model is in the running for projects in Argentina and Britain……..https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-nuclearpower-hualong/china-goes-all-in-on-home-grown-tech-in-push-for-nuclear-dominance-idUSKCN1RT0C0

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, China, marketing, politics, safety | Leave a comment

More countries headed to go into nuclear debt to Russia

Rosatom forges more links with nuclear newcomers, 17 April 2019 Rosatom and its subsidiaries have this week signed a number of agreements with countries planning to introduce nuclear power to their energy mix, including Azerbaijan, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Serbia and Uzbekistan. The documents were signed during the XI International Forum Atomexpo 2019 that the Russian state nuclear corporation is holding in Sochi. It also signed an agreement with established nuclear power country China. ………http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Rosatom-forges-more-links-with-nuclear-newcomers

April 18, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to nuclear subsidy

Supreme court denies challenge to NY nuclear subsidy, Houston Chronicle, April 15, 2019 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a power industry trade group’s petition to challenge New York state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the subsidization of nuclear power plants.

The Electric Power Supply Association claimed in a lawsuit that the New York Public Service Commission had violated federal law requiring power rates be “just and reasonable” when they elected to award $7 billion in rate increases through their zero emissions credit program.

After that argument was rejected by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the group applied to the Supreme Court for relief in January. As is customary, the Supreme Court’s justices offered no explanation on their decision not to hear the case. …….https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Supreme-court-denies-challenge-to-NY-nuclear-13768307.php

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

North Dakota prohibits nuclear waste dumping in the state

Bill prohibits, sets guidelines for nuclear waste disposal

April 17, 2019  BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Legislature has passed a bill that prohibits nuclear waste dumping in the state. The bill passed by the House Wednesday and the Senate a day earlier also sets the regulatory framework for disposal and storage of the radioactive waste if the state is forced to accept it by the federal government…… (subscribers only) https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Bill-prohibits-sets-guidelines-for-nuclear-waste-13775275.php

April 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

EDF’s Belleville nuclear power plant to continue to have increased monitoring by France’s nuclear regulator

France’s ASN regulator keeps enhanced monitoring of EDF’s Belleville nuclear power plant  https://uk.reuters.com/article/france-nuclearpower-safety/frances-asn-regulator-keeps-enhanced-monitoring-of-edfs-belleville-nuclear-power-plant-idUKL5N21Z2CQ,  PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) – France’s ASN nuclear regulator said on Wednesday it was maintaining its close supervision of utility EDF’s 2,600 MW Belleville nuclear power plant, due to the need to continue to monitor safety practices despite some improvements.

The regulator placed the plant under enhanced supervision in September 2017, citing failures in safety standards.

It noted that the state of the plant’s installations and safety practices had generally improved in 2018, but there was still work to do.

“However… the progress noted remains to be consolidated and that the performance of the facilities must still improve,” the ASN said in a statement.

The ASN also said it will carry out additional inspections and checks to documentation, while keeping track of EDF’s action plan to fix the issues. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

April 18, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

U.S.nuclear bailouts – Exelon and the death of competitive energy markets

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

50 countries ban Japanese seafoods from Fukushima region, South Korea will maintain the ban

Seoul Welcomes WTO’s Ruling on Fukushima Seafood Ban  by Korea Bizwire  SEOUL, Apr. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea on Friday welcomed the World Trade Organization’s decision to rule in favor of Seoul’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and said it would keep the ban in place going forward.The WTO appellate body overturned several points of the 2018 verdict earlier in the day, saying the Seoul government’s measures are not unfair trade restrictions and do not fall into the category of arbitrary discrimination.

The appellate body, however, sided with Japan on one point, saying that Seoul has not provided enough information to Tokyo in terms of the import ban measures.

“The government has been making all-out efforts to follow the principle of making the health and safety of the people a priority, and the government highly appraises the WTO’s decision,” the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Energy said in a statement.

The South Korean government said it hopes that there would be no further trade dispute with Japan.

In 2015, Japan officially lodged a complaint at the WTO to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements on fish caught after 2013. Tokyo argued that radioactive levels of its fishery product were lower than those from a number of other nations.

The WTO’s dispute settlement body ruled in favor of Japan in February 2018.

South Korea has been placing import restrictions on 28 kinds of fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima since the nuclear power plant accident.

The South Korean government said it will keep the existing import ban on all seafood from the eight prefectures. All Japanese seafood companies will be required to hand in safety certificates when any traces of radiation are found, it added.

About 50 countries have maintained bans on imports since the nuclear disaster, but Japan has complained to the WTO about only one country — South Korea.

“Currently, 19 more countries have implemented an import ban (on Japanese seafood) at different levels,” said Yoon Chang-yul, the head of the social policy coordination office under the Office for Government Policy Coordination……..http://koreabizwire.com/seoul-welcomes-wtos-ruling-on-fukushima-seafood-ban/135802

April 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, South Korea | Leave a comment

World Trade Organization approves South Korea’s right to ban Fukushima seafoods

SOUTH KOREA WTO APPEAL SUCCEEDS IN JAPANESE FUKUSHIMA FOOD DISPUTE, https://www.agriculture.com/markets/newswire/update-2-south-korea-wto-appeal-succeeds-in-japanese-fukushima-food-dispute GENEVA, April 11 (Reuters) – South Korea won the bulk of its appeal on Thursday in a dispute at the World Trade Organization over import bans and testing requirements it had imposed on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Last year a WTO dispute panel supported Japan, saying South Korea was wrong to keep its initial trade restrictions in place. But Thursday’s ruling overturned several key points of that verdict, saying South Korea’s measures were not overly restrictive and did not unfairly discriminate against Japan.

The appeal looked solely at the panel’s interpretation of the WTO rules, without going into the facts about the levels of contaminants in Japanese food products or what the right level of consumer protection should be.

“The South Korean government highly appreciates the WTO’s ruling and welcomes the decision,” South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

Following the ruling, South Korea’s current trade restrictions on Japanese seafood will stay in place, the ministry statement added.

South Korea widened its initial ban on Japanese fishery imports in 2013 to cover all seafood from eight Japanese prefectures including Fukushima.

Japan launched its trade complaint at the WTO in 2015, arguing that radioactive levels were safe and that a number of other nations, including the United States and Australia, had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.

South Korea imported 10.9 billion yen ($102 million) worth of Japanese seafood in the year to August 2013 before it broadened its restrictions. Those imports then fell to 8.4 billion yen the following year, according to the Japanese government. (Reporting by Tom Miles; additional reporting by Jane Chung in SEOUL; Editing by Keith Weir and Hugh Lawson)

April 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Extradition of Julian Assange must be opposed. USA govt wants to silence all reports of govt atrocities

I’ve been told that Julian Assange is in favour of nuclear power – with the suggestion that we should not support him. Also that his revelations about Hilary Clinton helped to get the abominable Trump elected.

But does this matter? Assange revealed the truth. And what will happen to the next whistlebower, perhaps one that reveals the corruption in the nuclear industry?

Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must be opposed, Owen Jones, Guardian, 12 Apr 19, States that commit crimes in foreign lands depend on at least passive acquiescence. This is achieved in a number of ways. One is the “othering” of the victims: the stripping away of their humanity, because if you imagined them to be people like your own children or your neighbours, their suffering and deaths would be intolerable. Another approach is to portray opponents of foreign aggression as traitors, or in league with hostile powers. And another strategy is to cover up the consequences of foreign wars, to ensure that the populace is kept intentionally unaware of the acts committed in their name.

It is Manning who is the true hero of this story: last month, she was arrested for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, placed in solitary confinement for four weeks, and now remains imprisoned. We must demand her freedom.

These leaks revealed some of the horrors of the post-9/11 wars. One showed a US aircrew laughing after slaughtering a dozen innocent people, including two Iraqi employees of Reuters, after dishonestly alleging to have encountered a firefight. Other files revealed how US-led forces killedhundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, their deaths otherwise airbrushed out of existence. Another cable, which exposed corruption and scandals in the court of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the western-backed then-dictator of Tunisia, helped fuel protests, which toppled him……..

Assange must answer the  allegations of sexual assault   in Sweden without the threat of extradition to the US………. That Swedish case must be entirely disentangled from the US extradition attempt. And while opposing Assange’s rightwing libertarian politics is perfectly reasonable, it is utterly irrelevant to the basic issue here of justice……….

Assange’s extradition to the US must be passionately opposed. It is notable that Obama’s administration itself concluded that to prosecute Assange for publishing documents would gravely imperil press freedom. Yes, this is a defence of journalism and media freedom. But it is also about the attempt to intimidate those who expose crimes committed by the world’s last remaining superpower. The US wishes to hide its crimes so it can continue to commit them with impunity: that’s why, last month, Trump signed an executive order to cover up civilian deaths from drones, the use of which has hugely escalated in Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.

Silence kills, because a public that is uninformed about the slaughter of innocent people by their own government will not exert pressure to stop the killing. For the sake of stopping crimes yet to be committed, this extradition – and the intentionally chilling precedent it sets – must be defeated. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/12/julian-assange-extradition-wikileaks-america-crimes

April 13, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, media, USA | Leave a comment