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Nuclear disarmament: how Africa can play a role in securing a nuclear weapons free world

Nuclear disarmament: how Africa can play a role in securing a nuclear weapons free world, The Conversation October 22, 2021 Joelien Pretorius, Associate Professor in Political Studies, University of the Western Cape.

Why should African states and people be concerned about nuclear disarmament? After all, there are no nuclear weapons on the continent. South Africa, the only African nation to have had nuclear weapons, gave them up in 1989, and Libya stopped its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

Today, all African states bar South Sudan are members of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. And enough support for the Pelindaba Treaty, an agreement among African states that prohibits the acquisition, stockpiling, testing and other activities that promote nuclear weapons or assist in their production, has turned the continent into a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.

Nuclear weapons may seem to be an issue far removed from Africa’s immediate security concerns, which is rather centred on small arms, intra-state conflict and human security issues. Nevertheless, nuclear disarmament should still be high on the priority list of African states’ foreign policy pursuits.

Nuclear weapons matter to every country in the world because they pose a threat on three grounds. Firstly, nations that have them are disregarding arms control agreements. Secondly, they are pursuing technologies that have increased the risk of nuclear war in an era of increasing geopolitical tension – particularly between China, the US and Russia. Thirdly, nuclear war poses an existential threat to everyone.

African countries have a role to play in promoting a total ban on nuclear weapons. They can throw their diplomatic weight behind the calls to eliminate them and use the power of their numbers to strengthen the pressure on nuclear-armed states to disarm.

The danger nuclear weapons pose………………….

African states and civil society played an important role in the Ban Treaty process, but need to keep the momentum by asserting Africa’s role on this issue. They can do so by prioritising nuclear disarmament in their foreign policy, creating awareness among Africans that nuclear disarmament is a worthy cause.

They should also encourage more states to join the treaty, especially African states – only nine are members. With every state that joins, the value of the Ban Treaty grows. African states and people can also participate in transnational networks to stigmatise nuclear weapons, with a view to extending the Ban Treaty’s legal reach to include nuclear armed states.  https://theconversation.com/nuclear-disarmament-how-africa-can-play-a-role-in-securing-a-nuclear-weapons-free-world-170149

October 23, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

We must question why small modular reactors and the rebirth of nuclear energy are all the rage

These considerations should lead us to make saner and more realistic choices for our children and our children’s children

Roland Ngam • 11 October 2021, We must question why small modular reactors and the rebirth of nuclear energy are all the rage,    Daily Maverick, 

Small modular nuclear reactors are being widely punted as the energy source of the future. But if we are looking only at costs, solar and wind are way cheaper than small modular reactors and battery technology is way better today than it was only three years ago.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) seem to be all the rage these days. Dismiss them at your peril. I am no conspiracy theorist, but everyone is talking about them just as energy prices are spiking in Europe, the UK is struggling to supply its filling stations with fuel, the green parties want to cancel Nord Stream 2 and China is rationing electricity after recent widespread outages in 22 states.

Could it be that some of these crises — and ergo, energy panic — are artificially made in order to give fossils one last hurrah in the limelight? Nuclear energy is renewable   [Ed. this is not true] , but I mean, you need fossils and a lot of capital investment to make them! Also, are those who are betting on SMRs as the technology of the future right to place their hopes in this sector rather than in greener alternatives?………………

America has been subsidising research in SMRs for more than a decade now. They paid $226-million in research grants for the light-water SMR built by Nuscale Power for Energy Northwest. The US Congress has already passed a nuclear production tax credit (PTC) act to subsidise energy from the plant for the next 10 years and the Department of Energy further approved $1.355-billion to fund the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), which involves investing massively in SMRs.

China already has a bunch of floating SMR powerships and started construction on a 125 MWe land-based pressurised water reactor (PWR) in Hainan province in June 2021. The project was officially launched by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (which is another point I will get back to in a moment, i.e. that countries are pushing nuclear hard as the green solution of the future).

In the United Kingdom, SMRs are a key part of the decarbonisation strategy. Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £525-million investment in SMR development and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is about to approve a contract for Rolls-Royce to build a fleet of them in order to assure energy self-sufficiency, which has become a hotly debated topic after Brexit and now amidst the fuel shortages that have hit the nation.

Not to be outdone, French President Emmanuel Macron wants to make SMRs a cornerstone of his 2022 re-election campaign. It is believed that France will spend €50-million from the Euro Recovery Plan on SMR research. Industry players in the nuclear space have already announced plans for the construction of a university of nuclear research. About 30 research centres have also received funds from the France Relance plan for nuclear research. Although France is a world leader in nuclear technology, they have been caught napping by Russia, the US and China which are already way ahead of them in SMR technology.

So the race is on to scale up production of affordable commercial land-based SMRs which could potentially fill up the manufacturing companies’ order books.

Now, back to why nuclear technology is enjoying a comeback — well, it never went away, but it is enjoying a renaissance of sorts among the ever-more confident G20 leaders — because, as Maud Bregeon puts it in Nucléaire: un patrimoine industriel et écologique, even the IPCC and the UN say that “all low-carbon technologies are needed to meet our climate goals, including nuclear.

……..  is the world right to focus on SMRs as the future? If we are looking only at costs, solar and wind are way cheaper than SMRs and battery technology is way better today than it was only three years ago.

According to the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the kilowatt-hour price for SMR is almost certainly always going to be higher than what bigger power plants can offer. It is for this reason that many question why South Africa’s Energy Minister is still determined to commit to new nuclear capacity in line with the integrated resource plan (IRP). That allocation could be shifted to a cheaper energy source.

Three billion dollars is a massive drop from the $10-billion that is the going rate for a big nuclear plant. However, even at $3-billion in start-up for a small plant, the average African country simply cannot afford this type of technology. By comparison, they can get going on a modular solar plant with only a few thousand dollars. 

Then there is the toll that continued investment in nuclear has on the environment. In an essay titled An Obituary for Small Modular Reactors, Friends of the Earth Australia argues that “about half of the SMRs under construction (Russia’s floating power plant, Russia’s RITM-200 icebreaker ships, and China’s ACPR50S demonstration reactor) are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere”.

Drought-hit Namibia, which has about 5% of the world’s uranium resources has seen an increase in investments in the uranium sector. Russia (

Helpless activists in Namibia have also been trying to draw the world’s attention to the unusually high numbers of former uranium mine workers who have been dying of cancer, without much success. As investments in uranium pick up, and as some environmental activists make the case for nuclear as green technology, it is important to remember the toll that it is taking on people and ecological systems in the Global South.

These considerations should lead us to make saner and more realistic choices for our children and our children’s children. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2021-10-11-we-must-question-why-small-modular-reactors-and-the-rebirth-of-nuclear-energy-are-all-the-rage/

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October 12, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, South Africa | Leave a comment

A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa

Friends of the Earth Africa today launched ‘A Just Recovery Renewable Energy Plan for Africa’ which offers a practical and much-needed opportunity to change the trajectory of energy development, distribution, and access on the African continent.

The report stresses the urgency to democratise energy systems, reduce the power of transnational corporations and enable peoples and communities to access sufficient energy to live a dignified life. The report which was launched during a webinar with key climate justice voices demands a complete shift from current dirty energy systems to achieve 100% Renewable Energy in Africa.

The plan found that it is technically and financially feasible, with an annual investment requirement of around US$130 billion per year. It lays out clear targets for this vision, with over 300GW of new renewable energy by 2030, as agreed
by the African Union, and over 2000GW by 2050. It also shows that the finance and investment needed to achieve the 100% renewable energy goal can be done through public finance from the global North, ending tax dodging and dropping the debt.

 All Africa 2nd Sept 2021

https://allafrica.com/stories/202109020695.html

September 6, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, renewable | Leave a comment

Walking the nuclear dog – a South African tale

Walking the nuclear dog – a South African tale,   ESI Africa,  By Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Business Intelligence, 6 Sept 21

Apparently, in government, there is an activity known as “walking the dog” – a strategy intended to keep self-serving politicians, officials and stakeholders quiet, and to calm them down when they are getting agitated and fidgety for some of the action.

Of course, there is some excitement at the prospect of sniffing out the territory on a brisk walk, with the anticipation that something big is on the cards. But this is inevitably short-lived, and things soon revert back to the normal and more leisurely state of inaction. Mission accomplished.

There are some examples of this in the coal and nuclear energy sectors of South Africa. The media and the public need to be careful not to be bamboozled by the noxious smoke and mirrors, sometimes radioactive, that emanate from these quarters in their excitement.

2,500MW of new nuclear power?

However, in the days following the board meeting, Nersa seemed to be acting very coy – firstly about clarifying exactly what it was that the board had concurred with, and secondly, whether this was even a concurrence by Nersa after all, as opposed to a conditional concurrence that was still subject to a number of suspensive conditions.

Of course, the independent Regulator was treading a very delicate line – to at least give the appearance that the noisy nuclear sector had got its way, while covering all political bases and legal angles, protecting its fragile reputation, and taking care not to become the scapegoat for scuppering the nuclear ambitions of a fractious Minister.

However, on 3 September 2021, Nersa finally succumbed to the growing pressure to release full details of its actual decision on 26 August 2021, with the reasons for the decision (RFD) to follow in due course. In so doing, the tricky game that Nersa was having to play became clearer.

Following a meeting by the board of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) on 26 August 2021, there were breathless public statements to the media by officials at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) regarding a decision by the Regulator in respect of 2,500MW of new nuclear power in South Africa.

The Regulator was said to have “concurred” with a so-called Section 34 ministerial nuclear determination in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA). Some in the media fell for this hook, line and sinker. The nuclear energy sector was ecstatic, asserting that the procurement of 2,500MW of new nuclear power in South Africa would now commence.

Suspensive conditions?

Contrary to the public statements and media interviews by DMRE officials, written details of the board decision reveal that Nersa has in fact not yet concurred with the Section 34 determination per se, but that such concurrence is still subject to a number of suspensive conditions which have not yet been met.

The precise wording of Nersa’s decision of 26 August 2021 in respect of the suspensive conditions, indicate that the Energy Regulator has decided:

To concur with the commencement of the process to procure the new nuclear energy generation capacity of 2,500MW as per Decision 8 of the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2019 – 2030 … subject to the following suspensive conditions:


  1. Satisfaction of Decision 8 of IRP 2019 – 2030, which requires that the nuclear build programme must be at an affordable pace and modular scale that the country can afford because it is no regret option in the long term;
  • Recognition and taking into account technological developments in the nuclear space; and
  • To further establish rationality behind the 2,500MW capacity of nuclear. A demand analysis aimed at matching the envisaged load profile post 2030, with the generation profile that would be needed to match that load profile, is required. This will assist to determine the capacity and the scale at which the country would need to procure nuclear.

It is thus clear that Nersa is only concurring with Decision 8 of the current Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity, IRP 2019 – 2030, to “commence preparations for a nuclear build programme to the extent of 2,500MW”, with this itself being subject to the suspensive conditions listed.

The Regulator is not concurring with the commencement of a request for proposals (RFP) for new nuclear power in South Africa, nor is Nersa giving the green light to any new nuclear construction programme.

Not so fast please!

It goes without saying that any public procurement must still comply with the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Constitution. As such, National Treasury remains a gatekeeper through the requirement for a positive outcome to a detailed cost-benefit analysis, and the requirement for National Treasury to establish the affordability of any such procurement.

It is still far from resolved as to the technology to be used for a nuclear new-build programme in South Africa. Would these be giant pressurised water reactors (PWRs) such as the Rosatom VVER 1200 units? Or small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) that still have to be developed, piloted, commercialised, licenced and proven elsewhere in the world?

The suspensive conditions even indicate that the very rationality of a 2,500MW nuclear new-build programme still needs to be established through long-term demand forecasting for the period post-2030 in order to determine the mix of the generation capacity required to meet that demand. 

Finally, as no new nuclear power is provided for in the current IRP in the years to 2030, it is clear that any new nuclear procurement can only commence, at the earliest, after an updated IRP has been considered by government’s “social partners”, approved by the Cabinet, and promulgated.

1,500MW of new, clean, coal-fired power?

A further example of “walking the dog” may be found in ongoing suggestions by the Minister and his officials at the DMRE that “clean coal” technologies can be deployed……………….

The 9,600MW nuclear fleet?

Yet another case of “walking the dog” was detailed in an article in Daily Maverick on 26 August 2021. In the article, former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas reveals that there was a general understanding in government that the 9600 MW nuclear deal with Russia, being pushed in 2017 by then-President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister David Mahlobo, would be terrible for South Africa.

According to Jonas, President Ramaphosa’s instruction was to “walk it” as long as possible. “He [Ramaphosa] said that by the time we have to make a decision, Zuma will be gone. He told us to find everything in the book to delay”.Does a question arise as to whether the upsides of dog walking really outweigh the downsides? It is hard to give a clear answer to this question, but it would seem that our President clearly prefers walking the dog to dealing firmly with self-serving elements within the party circle.However, a poorly-founded but nagging question keeps popping up as to what Vice-President DD Mabuza was really up to during his extended five-week leave of absence in Russia in July 2021?Putin would likely be a big, vicious dog, ready for a fight, and not easily controlled on the walk – actually more of a bear than a dog. And I would hate to be walking a grumpy bear.    https://www.esi-africa.com/industry-sectors/generation/op-ed-walking-the-nuclear-dog-a-south-african-tale/

September 6, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear Disarmament: What the World can Learn from Africa

Although nuclear disarmament is a global aspiration, Africa teaches that influence on the global stage is best achieved through regional unity. The creation of multiple nuclear-weapons-free zones across the world will send a powerful message to nuclear-armed states who are currently not directly accountable to the conditions of the Ban Treaty. Other current nuclear-weapons-free zones include Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and South-East Asia.

Africa: Nuclear Disarmament: What the World can Learn from Africa     https://allafrica.com/stories/202109030801.html, By Isabel Bosman, 3 Sept 21,

On 22 January 2021, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty) entered into force. Under the Ban Treaty, states are prohibited from ‘developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, or stockpiling nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices’. The Ban Treaty is a culmination of decades-long global campaign efforts to end the development of nuclear weapons. But while its entry into force is widely celebrated, the real work is only just beginning.

The world’s nuclear-armed states oppose the Treaty, and uncertainty about the direction of nuclear programmes in Iran and North Korea adds to the tension. Until such time as a nuclear-armed state decides to join the Ban Treaty, it is up to the world’s non-nuclear-armed states to continue leading disarmament campaigns. Having experienced the destructive power of nuclear weapons testing first-hand in the 1960s, African states are some of the oldest and most outspoken supporters of global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Africa’s commitment to nuclear disarmament holds two important lessons: Firstly, a world free of nuclear weapons begins at home. And secondly, if at first you do not succeed, shift the narrative.

African states are able to influence international opinion on nuclear disarmament partly because they have established a strong regime of disarmament and non-proliferation. The continent’s commitment to nuclear disarmament dates to 1964 and the adoption of the ‘Declaration on the Denuclearisation of Africa’ by the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union (AU). At present, this commitment is best embodied by the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (1996), also known as the Pelindaba Treaty. States party to the Pelindaba Treaty are prohibited from ‘conducting research on, developing, manufacturing, stockpiling, acquiring, possessing, or having control over any nuclear explosive device’. States are also not allowed to receive assistance to research or develop nuclear weapons.

The 12th anniversary of the Pelindaba Treaty’s entering into force was marked on 15 July 2021 (after being opened for signature 25 years ago). During an online event to commemorate this, Messaoud Baaliouamer, Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), the implementing body of the Pelindaba Treaty, described it as ‘an important step towards the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, the promotion of cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, complete disarmament, and the enhancement of regional peace and security’.

To date, the Pelindaba Treaty has been signed by 52 AU member states and ratified by 42. This uptake makes Africa the largest Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the world. Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), remarked at the same event that the Pelindaba Treaty is ‘testimony’ to Africa’s role as global leader on nuclear disarmament. High levels of commitment to the nuclear weapons ban on a continental level also meant that African states were able to play ‘a leading role in the negotiation, adoption, and promotion’ of the Ban Treaty.

African states’ determined approach was instrumental in ultimately creating the necessary momentum. Fihn noted that African countries have ‘repeatedly challenged the narrative advanced by nuclear-armed states’. The justification traditionally given by nuclear-armed states for possessing nuclear weapons is deterrence of conflict and ensuring ‘inter-State security’. This narrative is gradually being replaced by a humanitarian justification for banning nuclear weapons, which values human security over state security. This narrative has been growing in popularity and attention to the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons ‘has been more sustained than any other recent initiative to encourage renewed activity on nuclear disarmament’, according to Elizabeth Minor, a researcher at UK NGO Article 36.

The 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have not been forgotten. However, more than 75 years after the world witnessed the devastating effects of the atomic bomb, there are still over 13,000 nuclear weapons in existence. These are dispersed among the world’s nine nuclear weapons states: China, the USA, the UK, Russia, Israel, France, North Korea, India and Pakistan.

By setting an example through its legal instruments, and continuously promoting the humanitarian narrative, Africa can play an important role in realising a global nuclear weapons ban. African states can strengthen this position by also becoming party to the Ban Treaty. Considering the similarities between the Pelindaba Treaty and the Ban Treaty, signature and ratification should come easily. To date however, the Ban Treaty has been signed by 29 African states but only 9 have ratified it. The continent will be able to make a bigger impact by adopting the Ban Treaty at the same levels seen in the Pelindaba Treaty. This will re-affirm Africa’s commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation. More importantly, it will cement the continent’s reputation as not only a  a regional example, but an international example of commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Although nuclear disarmament is a global aspiration, Africa teaches that influence on the global stage is best achieved through regional unity. The creation of multiple nuclear-weapons-free zones across the world will send a powerful message to nuclear-armed states who are currently not directly accountable to the conditions of the Ban Treaty. Other current nuclear-weapons-free zones include Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and South-East Asia.

The world’s non-nuclear-armed states stand to gain the most from following Africa’s example. By ascribing to the humanitarian narrative to nuclear disarmament, non-nuclear-weapons states are able to exert moral pressure on nuclear-armed states – a position with significant weight in a debate in which these states were previously at a disadvantage due to the prevailing narrative. Reluctance to dismantle and the threat of expanding nuclear arsenals are but some of the challenges in the path to nuclear disarmament. But with the Ban Treaty now part of international law, nuclear policy will be affected by it whether states are party to it or not.only a regional example, but an international example of commitment to nuclear disarmament. But with the Ban Treaty now part of international law, nuclear policy will be affected by it whether states are party to it or not.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As South Africa restarts nuclear plan, critics and advocates clash over its clean energy credentials

As SA restarts nuclear plan, critics and advocates clash over its clean energy credentials, Fin 24, Jan Cronje 30 August 21,  As South Africa’s revived nuclear power plan moves forward, questions over the green credentials of atomic power have added another dimension to an already fraught debate between critics and proponents of nuclear energy.

The debate mirrors one taking place internationally about where, if at all, nuclear power should fit into the battle against climate change…… (Subscribers only) https://www.news24.com/fin24/economy/as-sa-restarts-nuclear-plan-critics-and-advocates-clash-over-its-clean-energy-credentials-20210830

August 31, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) opposes plan for new nuclear power


Nersa gets green light to approve new nuclear power procurement, but Ts & Cs apply,   Fin24, 20 Aug 21
, A National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) committee has recommended that the regulator approve a plan to procure 2 500 MW of new nuclear power.

It will now be up to Nersa’s full board to make a decision on whether it agrees with the plan as set out by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in August last year.

At a meeting on Friday morning, Nersa’s electricity subcommittee was broadly supportive of Mantashe’s plan. This followed public hearings earlier in the year.  Liz McDaid, Parliamentary and energy advisor to the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), said that South Africans would now have to wait see what Nersa’s board decides.

If the board decides to concur with Mantahse’s determination, it will have to publish the reasons behind its decision, including the “suspensive conditions” mentioned in the meeting on Friday.

Outa is opposing the new nuclear build, saying it is “not affordable, not appropriate and should not be approved”. No requests for proposal have yet been issued for the new nuclear build. …….. https://www.news24.com/fin24/companies/industrial/nersa-gets-green-light-to-approve-new-nuclear-power-procurement-but-ts-cs-apply-20210820

August 21, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Algeria: deep resentment of French colonialism and the effects of nuclear bombing -still very real today.

In Algeria, France’s 1960s nuclear tests still taint ties,   https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20210729-in-algeria-france-s-1960s-nuclear-tests-still-taint-ties   More than 60 years since France started its nuclear tests in Algeria, their legacy continues to poison relations between the North African nation and its former colonial ruler.The issue has come to the fore again after President Emmanuel Macron said in French Polynesia on Tuesday that Paris owed “a debt” to the South Pacific territory over atomic tests there between 1966 and 1996.

The damage the mega-blasts did to people and nature in the former colonies remains a source of deep resentment, seen as proof of discriminatory colonial attitudes and disregard for local lives.

Diseases related to radioactivity are passed on as an inheritance, generation after generation,” said Abderahmane Toumi, head of the Algerian victims’ support group El Gheith El Kadem.

“As long as the region is polluted, the danger will persist,” he said, citing severe health impacts from birth defects and cancers to miscarriages and sterility.
France carried out its first successful atomic bomb test deep in the Algerian Sahara in 1960, making it the world’s fourth nuclear power after the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain.

Today, as Algeria and France struggle to deal with their painful shared history, the identification and decontamination of radioactive sites remains one of the main disputes.

In his landmark report on French colonial rule and the 1954-62 Algerian War, historian Benjamin Stora recommended continued joint work that looks into “the locations of nuclear tests in Algeria and their consequences”.

France in the 1960s had a policy of burying all radioactive waste from the Algerian bomb tests in the desert sands, and for decades declined to reveal their locations.

‘Radioactive fallout’

Algeria’s former veterans affairs minister Tayeb Zitouni recently accused France of refusing to release topographical maps that would identify “burial sites of polluting, radioactive or chemical waste not discovered to date”.”The French side has not technically conducted any initiative to clean up the sites, and France has not undertaken any humanitarian act to compensate the victims,” said Zitouni. According to the Ministry of the Armed Forces in Paris, Algeria and France now “deal with the whole subject at the highest level of state”.

“France has provided the Algerian authorities with the maps it has,” said the ministry.

Between 1960 and 1966, France conducted 17 atmospheric or underground nuclear tests near the town of Reggane, 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) from the capital Algiers, and in mountain tunnels at a site then called In Ekker.

Eleven of them were conducted after the 1962 Evian Accords, which granted Algeria independence but included an article allowing France to use the sites until 1967.

A radioactive cloud from a 1962 test sickened at least 30,000 Algerians, the country’s official APS news agency estimated in 2012.
French documents declassified in 2013 revealed significant radioactive fallout from West Africa to southern Europe. Algeria last month set up a national agency for the rehabilitation of former French nuclear test sites.

In April, Algeria’s army chief of staff, General Said Chengriha, asked his then French counterpart, General Francois Lecointre, for his support, including access to all the maps.

We respect our dead’Receiving the maps is “a right that the Algerian state strongly demands, without forgetting the question of compensation for the Algerian victims of the tests,” stressed a senior army officer, General Bouzid Boufrioua, writing in the defence ministry magazine El Djeich.”France must assume its historical responsibilities,” he argued.President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, however, ruled out any demands for compensation, telling Le Point weekly that “we respect our dead so much that financial compensation would be a belittlement. We are not a begging people.”France passed a law in 2010 which provided for a compensation procedure for “people suffering from illnesses resulting from exposure to radiation from nuclear tests carried out in the Algerian Sahara and in Polynesia between 1960 and 1998”.

But out of 50 Algerians who have since launched claims, only one, a soldier from Algiers who was stationed at one of the sites, “has been able to obtain compensation”, says the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

No resident of the remote desert region has been compensated, it said.

In a study released a year ago, “Radioactivity Under the Sand”, ICAN France urged Paris to hand Algeria a complete list of the burial sites and to facilitate their clean-up.

The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons obliges states to provide adequate assistance to individuals affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons.

It was signed by 122 UN member states, but by none of the nuclear powers. France argued the treaty was”incompatible with a realistic and progressive approach to nuclear disarmament”.

ICAN France in its study argued that “people have been waiting for more than 50 years. There is a need to go faster.

“We are still facing an important health and environmental problem that must be addressed as soon as possible.”

July 31, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, environment, health, politics international, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Buried in the sand of Southern Algeria – the radioactive pollution from French nuclear tests





Algérie: sous le sable, les déchets nucléaires français,  translation by


Hervé CourtoisC.A.N. Coalition Against Nukes, 2 July 21

This is one of the major issues in the reconciliation of memories between France and Algeria. A subject that has long remained buried in the sands of the Sahara: the pollution of southern Algeria by French nuclear tests.

More than fifty years after the last test in 1966, Algiers has just created an agency for the rehabilitation of former nuc;ea test sites.

The Propaganda

From 1960 to 1966, the French army conducted 17 nuclear tests in southern Algeria, on the sites of Reggane and In Ekker. At the time, Albdekrim Touhami, a native of Tamanrasset, was a teenager. In Ekker is 150 kilometers north. He remembers the installation of the French military base, seen then as a welcome source of employment.”For us, it was a godsend. Everyone came running to get a job as a laborer or simple worker on the site. We didn’t think that this bomb was going to be a disaster for the region. We were told, “Here it is, the bomb will go off at such and such a time. You may feel some shaking, like an earthquake. But don’t worry, there will be no problem.” “

Fifteen years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the danger of nuclear weapons is known. Southern Algeria is chosen to conduct these tests, because the area is considered quite deserted compared to the Southern Alps or Corsica, while being close to the French mainland.

France wanted to quickly demonstrate its capacity to use the bomb in the context of the Cold War and the race for nuclear deterrence.”France wanted to catch up with the other nuclear powers, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom, to remain in what was called at the time “the big league”. This partly explains why the priority was the result, not the concern about the environmental impact or the collateral damage to the population. The priority was to explode the bomb,” recalls Patrice Bouveret, co-founder of the Observatoire de l’armement, an independent center of expertise.A highly polluted area .

In1962, Algeria became independent. The tests continued. Most of them, eleven, were carried out between 1962 and 1966 and therefore with the agreement of the new Algerian authorities. Systematically, the waste generated by these tests was buried, explains Jean-Marie Collin, spokesperson for Ican-France (International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons) who published a study with Patrice Bouveret, “Under the sand, the radioactivity! “.

Very clearly, France has a desire to bury,” emphasizes Jean-Marie Collin. It considers the desert as an ocean, an ocean of sand, and it buries everything that is likely to be contaminated. Algerian independence and the fact that France left Algeria under rather complicated conditions did not play in favor of depollution. On the contrary, even more waste was left behind. “Waste that goes from the simple screwdriver to the tank exposed to test the resistance of military equipment to the atomic bomb. Another pollution linked to nuclear tests, the accidental one during the Berryl underground test in 1962.

The reason for the tests was that the nuclear technology was not fully mastered and therefore there were accidents that released radioactive lava,” continues the Ican-France spokesman. The test concerned was in 1962. We were there in 2007. The scientists measured the radioactivity, which was extremely high, and they told us: “You should not stay more than twenty minutes on the spot, if you do not want to absorb radioactivity that is dangerous for your body. “

Only one victim compensated.

Contaminated rocks left in the open air, in areas of passage. Contaminated sand disseminated by the winds beyond the Algerian borders, particularly in neighboring Niger. For about fifteen years, in the area of Tamanrasset and with very few means, Abdelkrim Touhami and his association Taourirt tries to draw up a sanitary assessment.We learned that many people died of suspicious deaths,” he confides. People were dying little by little. Babies were being born with deformities. Cancers were occurring through this disaster. “

To date, no official census of the people exposed, whether French or Algerian. Only one Algerian victim has been compensated under the Morin Law (2010). The decree of May 31 creating an agency for the rehabilitation of test sites in Algeria is an important step for Jean-Marie Collin of Ican-France.

Until now,” he explains, “the Algerian state created a certain surveillance zone on these sites, but there had never been any action to protect these zones in order to avoid any real access. This decree opens up the possibility that international organizations such as States could come and help rehabilitate these nuclear test sites. What we have at the same time are discussions between France and Algeria, officially revealed in April, whereas until then, these discussions did not officially exist.

“These discussions took place within the framework of the Franco-Algerian working group on nuclear tests, created in 2008 under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy. This issue of rehabilitation was also included in the report by Benjamin Stora on the reconciliation of memories between France and Algeria. Algiers must ratify the Tian, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to which France is not a signatory, before mid-October.

.Supporters of the rehabilitation of former nuclear test sites want a joint Franco-Algerian mission to be sent to map the polluted sites in order to circumscribe them, and eventually treat them so that the inhabitants are no longer exposed to radioactivity. . https://www.rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20210629-alg%C3%A9rie-sous-le-sable-les-d%C3%A9chets-nucl%C3%A9aires-fran%C3%A7ais?fbclid=IwAR2Gn0qmn8xngwhyIaCBN1ut9lU9w_YwziHLSr9S2SkwmBGc9oaWL0f18As

July 3, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, environment, France, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

South Africa the only country to have dismantled its nuclear weapons capability,

SA the only country to have dismantled its nuclear weapons capability, Robin Möser 25 Jun 2021   ext month, on 10 July, marks the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), but it seems this step will not receive the world’s attention it should get. South Africa is still the only example of a state that has given up its indigenously developed nuclear weapons arsenal and subsequently adhered to nonproliferation norms.

Today, developments concerning continuous missile and nuclear tests in North Korea, the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018, and the last-minute extension of the New Start Treaty between the US and Russia in February this year demonstrate the urgency of discussing nuclear disarmament on a global scale.

Revisiting the unique South African case of nuclear disarmament and NPT accession provides a crucial starting point, as it demonstrates that disarmament is possible. Moreover, the South African example shows that to forgo nuclear weapons needs both domestic political preconditions and an international context perceived to be conducive. It cannot succeed solely based on the moral conviction of political leaders that disarmament is good. The actions taken by the FW De Klerk government between 1989 and 1991 illustrate that his decisions gravitated to assessing domestic political risks and potential benefits that the decision to disarm and sign the NPT would bring for his government………………………. https://mg.co.za/opinion/2021-06-25-sa-the-only-country-to-have-dismantled-its-nuclear-weapons-capability

June 26, 2021 Posted by | politics international, South Africa, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Long legacy of France’s nuclear tests in Algeria

Abdelkrim touhami was still a teenager when, on May 1st 1962, French
officials in Algeria told him and his neighbours to leave their homes in
the southern city of Tamanrasset. It was just a precaution.

France wasabout to detonate an atom bomb, known as Beryl, in the desert some 150km
away. The blast would be contained underground. Two French ministers were
there to witness the test.

But things did not go as planned. Theunderground shaft at the blast site was not properly sealed. The mountain above the site cracked and black smoke spread everywhere, says Mr Touhami.
The ministers (and everyone else nearby) ran as radioactive particles
leaked into the air. Nevertheless, in the months and years after, locals
would go to the area to recover scrap metal from the blast for use in their
homes.

 Economist 24th June 2021

 https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2021/06/24/the-long-legacy-of-frances-nuclear-tests-in-algeria

June 26, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Koeberg Nuclear Plant is like an old car that simply can’t be kept on the road’

Cape Talk,    7 June 2021, by Barbara Friedman    Refilwe Moloto speaks to Hilton Trollip, a research fellow in energy at UCT’s Global Risk Governance Programme.

  • Koeberg GM suspended but energy expert says the nuclear power station is past its sell-by date
  • Researcher Hilton Trollip is skeptical about refurbishing Koeberg
  • All coal-firing and nuclear plants need to end and move over to renewable sources, says Trollip

On Friday the general manager of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station was replaced by Eskom’s Chief Nuclear Officer. Velaphi Ntuli has been suspended for operational reasons.

RELATED: Eskom suspends Koeberg Power Station GM for ‘performance-related issues’

One of those being that one of Eskom’s biggest generating units with a capacity of 900MW, Koeberg Unit 1 has been on an outage since January 2021.

Just how concerned should we be as we head into winter, and at the same time, try to revive our economy?

We don’t know what’s happening inside Koeberg because we have no information on that, but what we do know is that Eskom is sitting with a power station fleet that is 30, 40, and 50 years old.

Hilton Trollip, Research Fellow – Global Risk Governance Programme UCT

Koeberg was built in 1985 and reaches the end of its design life in 2024, he notes.

It’s like a 20 or 30-year-old car. There comes a stage when it simply can’t be kept on the road, or to keep it on the road is too expensive or you are going to have regular breakdowns.

…………….Should the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station be given a longer lease on life?

There are plans to refurbish it, but I am skeptical about the wisdom of that. I am an engineer and everybody knows, things wear out, including power stations. Hilton Trollip, Research Fellow – Global Risk Governance Programme UCT
He says the government as a whole has not taken on board the fact that this energy era has to come to an end and be replaced with renawables……….. https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/418543/koeberg-nuclear-plant-is-like-an-old-car-that-simply-can-t-be-kept-on-the-road

June 8, 2021 Posted by | politics, safety, South Africa | Leave a comment

Sixty years on, Algerian desert region still struggles with effects of French nuclear tests

Sixty years on, Algerian desert region still struggles with effects of French nuclear tests,   13 May 21, https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/revisited/20210514-sixty-years-on-algerian-desert-region-still-struggles-with-effects-of-french-nuclear-testsIn February 1960, France carried out its first nuclear test in the Algerian desert, codenamed “Blue Jerboa”. Three more atmospheric tests and 13 underground tests followed, until 1966. The consequences for humans and the environment were disastrous.

More than 60 years on, the after-effects are still visible and the victims of nuclear tests are struggling to be heard. FRANCE 24 reports from both sides of the Mediterranean: with former French conscripts who performed their military service in Algeria and are trying to receive compensation, and Algerians, who feel abandoned to their fate.

May 17, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA | Leave a comment

The corruption surrounding the South African government’s push for nuclear power


Part one | Zondo’s nuclear deal revelations,   
https://www.newframe.com/part-one-zondos-nuclear-deal-revelations/

  • By: Neil Over 12 May 2021, In the first of this two-part series, evidence before the state capture inquiry shows how the multibillion-rand deal went ahead despite warnings about the exorbitant cost and danger to health.

It is common knowledge that former president Jacob Zuma fired then minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 because he would not support Zuma’s 9.6GW nuclear deal. But what is less well known are the falsehoods told by the deal’s supporters to coerce reluctant Cabinet ministers – and the country at large – into believing that nuclear power was in South Africa’s best interests. 

Witnesses before the Zondo commission investigating state capture revealed the lies told about nuclear power relating to its alleged safety, its alleged cost and the alleged handling of nuclear waste. Evidence before Judge Raymond Zondo shows that parts of the ANC executive were hell-bent on pursuing the deal, with scant regard for South Africa’s fiscal health, or the health and interests of its residents. 

The Department of Energy presented these falsehoods to Cabinet on 9 December 2015, in a presentation declassified before the Zondo commission. The department was then headed by Tina Joemat-Pettersson, a Zuma loyalist. 

To start, the department led Cabinet to believe that seven other African countries would be operating nuclear power plants within the following 10 to 15 years, five of which were said to be procuring nuclear power by 2020. To date, only one has begun to build a nuclear power station: the controversial El Dabaa plant that Russian state-owned Rosatom is building in Egypt for $30 billion. No other African country has made a commitment to nuclear power.

The department told Cabinet that nuclear power is safe. It said only 60 people died because of the Chernobyl catastrophe in then Soviet Ukraine in 1986, and that no one died because of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster caused by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan in 2011. The Chernobyl fatalities figure that the department cited was based on the original assessment by the United Nations, which it increased dramatically in 2005 to 4 000 fatalities. But many consider this figure to be a gross underestimate, with some sources claiming that as many as 500 000 will die because of that nuclear disaster (the Russian Academy of Sciences estimates 200 000). 

The Ukrainian government compensates 35 000 spouses of people it has deemed to have died from Chernobyl-related health problems, while non-profit science advocacy organisation the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates the death toll at 27 000. 

We will never know the true fatality total because there has not been a comprehensive, longitudinal examination of the health impacts of the disaster. This means that deaths from cancer in the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are simply recorded as such and are not linked to Chernobyl, despite increasing evidence that long-term exposure to low levels of ionising radiation is more dangerous to human health than previously thought. 

For the same reasons, we will also never know how many people have died or will die from the Fukushima accident because deaths from cancer are not linked to the disaster. There is also a problem in simply recording death rates as this tends to hide chronic illnesses, suffering caused by illnesses and negative impacts on mental health.

In Fukushima, for example, nearly 600 people died after they were evacuated from around the plant owing to what has been described as “evacuation stress”. The stress of forcing thousands of people to abandon their homes, most permanently, is significant. In Japan, 160 000 people were forced to abandon their homes, while 350 000 were evacuated in the Ukraine. 

Hidden costs

The department also brazenly told Cabinet that nuclear waste was not a problem because it “is stored deep underground”. Nowhere is nuclear waste from power generation stored underground. Where it is being attempted, for example in Finland, it is hugely expensive and no one knows yet if it will work. 

Critically, the department told Cabinet that nuclear power was the cheapest option for South Africa. It presented figures stating that the operating costs of nuclear were six times cheaper than those of coal in the country. What the department conveniently forgot to mention was that these costs excluded the enormous cost of construction for Koeberg – Africa’s only nuclear power station on the Western Cape coast, which cost more than planned – and the colossal cost of decommissioning this plant when the time comes.

It did not include the cost of “safely” disposing of nuclear waste. Neither did it include the cost of renewable energy compared with nuclear generation. 

May 13, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa – Cabinet appoints critic as member of nuclear regulator board

Cabinet appoints critic as member of nuclear regulator board, IOL, By Mwangi Githahu    26 Apr 21, Cape Town – The government has responded to civil society demands for a public representative on the National Nuclear Regulator’s (NNR) board by appointing one of its most vocal critics, Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) spokesperson Peter Becker.

Spokesperson Phumla Williams said the Cabinet approval of the appointment of Becker and three others would be subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance……

Last year in response to concerns raised by the KAA, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and other groups, department spokesperson Thandiwe Maimane said Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had initiated a comprehensive consultative process with Nedlac and Sanco to identify suitable candidates.

Becker said: “The NNR board has been without a representative since August last year and while this announcement is welcome, it is long overdue……….. https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/cabinet-appoints-critic-as-member-of-nuclear-regulator-board-31357be2-1d75-406b-928a-79bf389c97ba

April 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment