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Moltex Energy’s nuclear pyroprocessing project with plutonium would produce weapons grade material and encourage weapons proliferation

Will Canada remain a credible nonproliferation partner?  https://thebulletin.org/2021/07/will-canada-remain-a-credible-nonproliferation-partner/

By Susan O’DonnellGordon Edwards | July 26, 2021 


Susan O’Donnell
Susan O’Donnell is a researcher specializing in technology adoption and environmental issues at the University of New Brunswick.

Gordon Edwards
Gordon Edwards is a mathematician, physicist, nuclear consultant, and president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility,

The recent effort to persuade Canada to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has stimulated a lively debate in the public sphere. At the same time, out of the spotlight, the start-up company Moltex Energy received a federal grant to develop a nuclear project in New Brunswick that experts say will undermine Canada’s credibility as a nonproliferation partner.

Moltex wants to extract plutonium from the thousands of used nuclear fuel bundles currently stored as “high-level radioactive waste” at the Point Lepreau reactor site on the Bay of Fundy. The idea is to use the plutonium as fuel for a new nuclear reactor, still in the design stage. If the project is successful, the entire package could be replicated and sold to other countries if the Government of Canada approves the sale.

The recent effort to persuade Canada to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has stimulated a lively debate in the public sphere. At the same time, out of the spotlight, the start-up company Moltex Energy received a federal grant to develop a nuclear project in New Brunswick that experts say will undermine Canada’s credibility as a nonproliferation partner.

Moltex wants to extract plutonium from the thousands of used nuclear fuel bundles currently stored as “high-level radioactive waste” at the Point Lepreau reactor site on the Bay of Fundy. The idea is to use the plutonium as fuel for a new nuclear reactor, still in the design stage. If the project is successful, the entire package could be replicated and sold to other countries if the Government of Canada approves the sale.

On May 25, nine US nonproliferation experts sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing concern that by “backing spent-fuel reprocessing and plutonium extraction, the Government of Canada will undermine the global nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime that Canada has done so much to strengthen.”

The nine signatories to the letter include senior White House appointees and other US government advisers who worked under six US presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama; and who hold professorships at the Harvard Kennedy School, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, University of Texas at Austin, George Washington University, and Princeton University.

Plutonium is a human-made element created as a byproduct in every nuclear reactor. It’s a “Jekyll and Hyde” kind of material: on the one hand, it is the stuff that nuclear weapons are made from. On the other hand, it can be used as a nuclear fuel. The crucial question is, can you have one without the other?

India exploded its first nuclear weapon in 1974 using plutonium extracted from a “peaceful” Canadian nuclear reactor given as a gift many years earlier. In the months afterwards, it was discovered that South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Argentina—all of them customers of Canadian nuclear technology—were well on the way to replicating India’s achievement. Swift action by the US and its allies prevented these countries from acquiring the necessary plutonium extraction facilities (called “reprocessing plants”). To this day, South Korea is not allowed to extract plutonium from used nuclear fuel on its own territory—a long-lasting political legacy of the 1974 Indian explosion and its aftermath—due to proliferation concerns.

Several years after the Indian explosion, the US Carter administration ended federal support for civil reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in the US out of concern that it would contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons by making plutonium more available. At that time, Canada’s policy on reprocessing also changed to accord with the US policy—although no similar high-level announcement was made by the Canadian government.

Moltex is proposing to use a type of plutonium extraction technology called “pyroprocessing,” in which the solid used reactor fuel is converted to a liquid form, dissolved in a very hot bath of molten salt. What happens next is described by Moltex chairman and chief scientist Ian Scott in a recent article in Energy Intelligence. “We then—in a very, very simple process—extract the plutonium selectively from that molten metal. It’s literally a pot. You put the metal in, put salt in the top, mix them up, and the plutonium moves into the salt, and the salt’s our fuel. That’s it. … You tip the crucible and out pours the fuel for our reactor.”

The federal government recently supported the Moltex project with a $50.5-million grant, announced on March 18 by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc in Saint John.

At the event, LeBlanc and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs described the Moltex project as “recycling” nuclear waste, although in fact barely one-half of one per cent of the used nuclear fuel is potentially available for use as new reactor fuel. That leaves a lot of radioactive waste left over.

From an international perspective, the government grant to Moltex can be seen as Canada sending a signal—giving a green light to plutonium extraction and the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel.

The US experts’ primary concern is that other countries could point to Canada’s support of the Moltex program to help justify its own plutonium acquisition programs. That could undo years of efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of countries that might want to join the ranks of unofficial nuclear weapons states such as Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. The Moltex project is especially irksome since its proposed pyroprocessing technology is very similar to the one that South Korea has been trying to deploy for almost 10 years.

In their letter, the American experts point out that Japan is currently the only nonnuclear-armed state that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel, a fact that is provoking both domestic and international controversy.

In a follow-up exchange, signatory Frank von Hippel of Princeton University explained that the international controversy is threefold: (1) The United States sees both a nuclear weapons proliferation danger from Japan’s plutonium stockpile and also a nuclear terrorism threat from the possible theft of separated plutonium; (2) China and South Korea see Japan’s plutonium stocks as a basis for a rapid nuclear weaponization; and (3) South Korea’s nuclear-energy R&D community is demanding that the US grant them the same right to separate plutonium as Japan enjoys.

Despite the alarm raised by the nine authors in their letter to Trudeau, they have received no reply from the government. The only response has come from the Moltex CEO Rory O’Sullivan. His reply to a Globe and Mail reporter is similar to his earlier rebuttal in The Hill Times published in his letter to the editor on April 5: the plutonium extracted in the Moltex facility would be “completely unsuitable for use in weapons.”

But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stated that “Nuclear weapons can be fabricated using plutonium containing virtually any combination of plutonium isotopes.” All plutonium is of equal “sensitivity” for purposes of IAEA safeguards in nonnuclear weapon states.

Similarly, a 2009 report by nonproliferation experts from six US national laboratories concluded that pyroprocessing is about as susceptible to misuse for nuclear weapons as the original reprocessing technology used by the military, called PUREX.

In 2011, a US State Department official responsible for US nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries went further by stating that pyroprocessing is just as dangerous from a proliferation point of view as any other kind of plutonium extraction technology, saying: “frankly and positively that pyro-processing is reprocessing. Period. Full stop.”

And, despite years of effort, the IAEA has not yet developed an approach to effectively safeguard pyroprocessing to prevent diversion of plutonium for illicit uses.

Given that history has shown the dangers of promoting the greater availability of plutonium, why is the federal government supporting pyroprocessing?

It is clear the nuclear lobby wants it. In the industry’s report, “Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada,” released in March, the reprocessing (which they call “recycling”) of spent nuclear fuel is presented as a key element of the industry’s future plans.

Important national and international issues are at stake, and conscientious Canadians should sit up and take notice. Parliamentarians of all parties owe it to their constituents to demand more accountability. To date however, there has been no democratic open debate or public consultation over the path Canada is charting with nuclear energy.

Countless Canadians have urged Canada to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that came into force at the end of January this year. Ironically, the government has rebuffed these efforts, claiming that it does not want to “undermine” Canada’s long-standing effort to achieve a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty. Such a treaty would, if it ever saw the light of day (which seems increasingly unlikely), stop the production of weapons usable materials such as highly enriched uranium and (you guessed it) plutonium.

So, the Emperor not only has no clothes, but his right hand doesn’t know what his left hand is doing.

July 27, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, Canada, Reference, reprocessing, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The world’s climate catastrophe – there is little time left to act

 Reminders that our planet is wilting under the impact of human-driven climate change have been hard to avoid this month. Catastrophic floods have killed 160 in Germany while more than 50 died after massive inundations swept through the central Chinese province of Henan when a year’s worth of rain fell in three days last week.

At the same time, forest fires have ripped through one of the world’s coldest places, Siberia, after unusually hot, dry weather gripped the region. Canada and the US have also been afflicted by conflagrations that have destroyed communities and vast areas of woodland. One blaze in the US state of Oregon has spread over an
area 25 times the size of Manhattan and has raged out of control for weeks.

Global warming, triggered by rising levels of greenhouse gases, has beenimplicated in every case. The problem, say scientists, is that to halt worsening weather patterns by 2050, rises in global temperatures will have to be limited to around 1.5C from pre-industrial days.

However, the world has already heated up by 1.2C since then, thanks to the greenhouse gases we
have put into the atmosphere, and the prospects of limiting further rises to a fraction of a degree over the next 30 years look remote. In fact, estimates based on current pledges by nations to cut emissions suggest
temperatures are likely to rise by more than 2C above preindustrial levels by the middle of the century.

In such a future, more than a quarter of the world’s population would be likely to experience extreme drought for at least one month a year; rainforests would face eradication; melting ice sheets would result in dangerous sea level rises and trigger major changes in the behaviour of ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream.

In addition, loss of reflective ice from the poles would cause oceans to absorb more solar radiation, while melting permafrost in Siberia and other regions would release plumes of methane, another greenhouse gas. Inevitably, temperatures would soar even further.

This terrifying prospect has come about because politicians and business leaders have failed, for several
decades, to appreciate the risks involved in massively interfering with the make-up of our atmosphere and to instigate measures to limit the damage. As a result, the world faces a climate catastrophe with little time left to act to counter the threat.

 Observer 25th July 2021

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/25/observer-view-on-climate-change

July 26, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

Bill Gates’fast nuclear reactor ”Natrium” – not so safe and a nuclear weapons proliferation risk

At the March Senate hearing, TerrPower’s CEO described a future for the Natrium project that had almost unlimited export opportunities for Natrium and much larger plants. As Levesque explained, the current Natrium offering is a 345-megawatt (electric) machine—not so small in itself—because that size was what today’s market would accept. As TerraPower gained experience, though, he anticipated “growing Natrium output back up to gigawatt scale,” the size of current large light water reactors. The obvious conclusion is that, despite the current ballyhoo about the economic advantages of small units, TerraPower doesn’t think the smaller units would be as economic as larger ones. The “small” label is apparently just for the easily impressed.

Bill Gates’ Fast Nuclear Reactor: Will It Bomb?,  https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/bill-gates%E2%80%99-fast-nuclear-reactor-will-it-bomb-189967 The principal reason for preferring fast reactors, historically the only reason, is to gain the ability to breed plutonium. Thus, the reactor would make and reuse massive quantities of material that could also be used as nuclear explosives in warheads.

by Victor Gilinsky Henry Sokolski 23 July 21, “Fast” means Natrium relies on energetic neutrons as opposed to “slow” neutrons that drive all our current power reactors. That’s also what gives it the “advanced” label. DOE and nuclear enthusiasts have advertised that small, factory-built, modular reactors will be cheaper and safer, and will be so attractive to foreign buyers that they will revive America’s nuclear industry, currently dead in the water; that they will enable the United States to compete in an international market now dominated by China and Russia; and they will provide a solid nuclear industrial base for meeting U.S. military nuclear requirements.

With all these supposed advantages it is not surprising that DOE is pouring money into SMRs. And based on little more than slogans, it is also getting enthusiastic bipartisan Congressional support. To understand what is really going on, one has to look beyond most of DOE’s small reactor projects, mere distractions with little future, to TerraPower’s Natrium. This is not, by the way, the company’s original “traveling wave” concept. That one apparently did not work.

The Natrium project, more than any other, offers the possibility to fulfill the nuclear community’s eighty-year-old nuclear dream to develop a nuclear power plant that can run on all mined uranium, not just on the relatively rare uranium-235 fissile isotope, as current reactors do, thereby vastly increasing fuel resources. It does this by first turning the inert uranium into plutonium and then using the plutonium as fuel. It can even “breed” excess plutonium to fuel new fast reactors. Those outside the nuclear community have no idea of the grip this captivating idea has on nuclear engineers’ minds. It has, however, serious practical drawbacks. What concerns us here is that plutonium is a nuclear explosive—a few kilograms are enough for a bomb, and it is an awful idea to have untold tons of it coursing through commercial channels.

Fast breeder reactors are not exactly a new idea. The DOE’s predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, pushed fast breeder reactors in the 1970s as the energy solution in what was thought to be a uranium-poor world. It turned out we live in a uranium-rich world, so the expensive project, whose safety problems had not been fully resolved, made no economic sense. Congress canceled the Clinch River Fast Breeder Reactor demonstration project in 1983. Enthusiasts tried but failed to revive fast reactors during the second Bush administration. That effort flopped. Now they are trying again with Natrium, a scaled-up version of a General Electric design for a small sodium-cooled, plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactor (natrium is German for sodium).

TerraPower, of course, is Bill Gates’s company. One might ask, naively, why he of all people needs government support if the Natrium project is as good as he apparently thinks it is, but let us pass over that to focus on what the project technically entails and the difficulties those technical details pose.

Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s CEO, told a March 25 Senate Energy Committee hearing that the Natrium would be fueled with uranium enriched to 20 percent U-235 rather than explosive plutonium. But will that remain the preferred fuel if the Natrium reactor takes off and is offered for export? Currently, only a handful of nations can make 20 percent enriched uranium. It’s hard to believe that foreign customers will want to be tied to a U.S. supply of this fuel.

If they want another source for 20 percent fuel, will the United States go along with foreign enrichers offering it? We currently oppose Iran producing it on grounds that such material is too close to bomb-grade uranium. In a 1976 statement on nuclear policy, President Gerald Ford said the United States would not act in its civilian program in a way contrary to what we ask of others. Has this level of consistency and respect for others gone by the boards?

The thing to remember is that the principal reason for preferring fast reactors, historically the only reason, is to gain the ability to breed plutonium. That is surely what foreign customers will want. The original GE design on which Natrium is based included an onsite reprocessing plant. So configured, the reactor would make and reuse massive quantities of material that could also be used as nuclear explosives in warheads.

The potential weapons link is obvious in India, which has refused to allow international inspections of its fast reactor. And the recent disclosure that China is building two fast reactors more or less under wraps immediately provoked international concerns about Chinese possible weapons plutonium production. The plutonium produced in the fast reactor uranium “blanket” surrounding the reactor core is well over 90 percent plutonium 239, which is ideal for nuclear weapons.

At the March Senate hearing, TerrPower’s CEO described a future for the Natrium project that had almost unlimited export opportunities for Natrium and much larger plants. As Levesque explained, the current Natrium offering is a 345-megawatt (electric) machine—not so small in itself—because that size was what today’s market would accept. As TerraPower gained experience, though, he anticipated “growing Natrium output back up to gigawatt scale,” the size of current large light water reactors. The obvious conclusion is that, despite the current ballyhoo about the economic advantages of small units, TerraPower doesn’t think the smaller units would be as economic as larger ones. The “small” label is apparently just for the easily impressed.

Nor are the touted safety advantages of fast reactors what they seem. The low pressure of sodium-cooled reactors is an advantage. But sodium burns violently when exposed to air or water. And a fast reactor needs a large, concentrated amount of fissile material which becomes more reactive if it loses its coolant. In short, the comparison with the safety of light water reactors is at best a draw.

The March Senate hearing discussion about competing with Russia and China made clear the nuclear industry’s business plan centers on exporting fast reactor technology around the world, however implausible this may be given the cost and safety issues we’ve noted. The question for the U.S. government is, should it be encouraging nuclear technologies that threaten to flood the world with untold tons of plutonium?

Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter made it U.S. policy to discourage commercializing of plutonium-fueled reactors. Ford’s words bear repeating: In 1976, he announced that the United States wouldn’t support reliance on plutonium fuel and associated reprocessing of spent fuel until “the world community can effectively overcome the associated risks of proliferation.” Fast reactors like TerraPower’s Natrium don’t meet this test.

Victor Gilinsky serves as program advisor to The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, is a physicist, and was a commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations.

July 24, 2021 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Environmental degradation, illness, international tensions – small nuclear reactors had bad results in the Arctic

The U.S. military’s first attempts at land-based portable nuclear reactors didn’t work out well in terms of environmental contamination, cost, human health and international relations. That history is worth remembering as the military considers new mobile reactors

the U.S. still has no coherent national strategy for nuclear waste disposal, and critics are asking what happens if Pele falls into enemy hands.

The US Army tried portable nuclear power at remote bases 60 years ago – it didn’t go well   https://theconversation.com/the-us-army-tried-portable-nuclear-power-at-remote-bases-60-years-ago-it-didnt-go-well-164138
Paul Bierman
Fellow of the Gund Institute for Environment, Professor of Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 21 July 21

In a tunnel 40 feet beneath the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, a Geiger counter screamed. It was 1964, the height of the Cold War. U.S. soldiers in the tunnel, 800 miles from the North Pole, were dismantling the Army’s first portable nuclear reactor.

Commanding Officer Joseph Franklin grabbed the radiation detector, ordered his men out and did a quick survey before retreating from the reactor.

He had spent about two minutes exposed to a radiation field he estimated at 2,000 rads per hour, enough to make a person ill. When he came home from Greenland, the Army sent Franklin to the Bethesda Naval Hospital. There, he set off a whole body radiation counter designed to assess victims of nuclear accidents. Franklin was radioactive.

The Army called the reactor portable, even at 330 tons, because it was built from pieces that each fit in a C-130 cargo plane. It was powering Camp Century, one of the military’s most unusual bases.


Camp Century was a series of tunnels built into the Greenland ice sheet and used for both military research and scientific projects. The military boasted that the nuclear reactor there, known as the PM-2A, needed just 44 pounds of uranium to replace a million or more gallons of diesel fuel. Heat from the reactor ran lights and equipment and allowed the 200 or so men at the camp as many hot showers as they wanted in that brutally cold environment.

The PM-2A was the third child in a family of eight Army reactors, several of them experiments in portable nuclear power.

A few were misfits. PM-3A, nicknamed Nukey Poo, was installed at the Navy base at Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound. It made a nuclear mess in the Antarctic, with 438 malfunctions in 10 years including a cracked and leaking containment vessel. SL-1, a stationary low-power nuclear reactor in Idaho, blew up during refueling, killing three men. SM-1 still sits 12 miles from the White House at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It cost US$2 million to build and is expected to cost $68 million to clean up. The only truly mobile reactor, the ML-1never really worked.

The U.S. military’s first attempts at land-based portable nuclear reactors didn’t work out well in terms of environmental contamination, cost, human health and international relations. That history is worth remembering as the military considers new mobile reactors.

Nearly 60 years after the PM-2A was installed and the ML-1 project abandoned, the U.S. military is exploring portable land-based nuclear reactors again.

In May 2021, the Pentagon requested $60 million for Project Pele. Its goal: Design and build, within five years, a small, truck-mounted portable nuclear reactor that could be flown to remote locations and war zones. It would be able to be powered up and down for transport within a few days.

The Navy has a long and mostly successful history of mobile nuclear power. The first two nuclear submarines, the Nautilus and the Skate, visited the North Pole in 1958, just before Camp Century was built. Two other nuclear submarines sank in the 1960s – their reactors sit quietly on the Atlantic Ocean floor along with two plutonium-containing nuclear torpedos. Portable reactors on land pose different challenges – any problems are not under thousands of feet of ocean water.

Those in favor of mobile nuclear power for the battlefield claim it will provide nearly unlimited, low-carbon energy without the need for vulnerable supply convoys. Others argue that the costs and risks outweigh the benefits. There are also concerns about nuclear proliferation if mobile reactors are able to avoid international inspection.

A leaking reactor on the Greenland ice sheet

The PM-2A was built in 18 months. It arrived at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland in July 1960 and was dragged 138 miles across the ice sheet in pieces and then assembled at Camp Century.

When the reactor went critical for the first time in October, the engineers turned it off immediately because the PM-2A leaked neutrons, which can harm people. The Army fashioned lead shields and built walls of 55-gallon drums filled with ice and sawdust trying to protect the operators from radiation.

The PM-2A ran for two years, making fossil fuel-free power and heat and far more neutrons than was safe.

Those stray neutrons caused trouble. Steel pipes and the reactor vessel grew increasingly radioactive over time, as did traces of sodium in the snow. Cooling water leaking from the reactor contained dozens of radioactive isotopes potentially exposing personnel to radiation and leaving a legacy in the ice.

When the reactor was dismantled for shipping, its metal pipes shed radioactive dust. Bulldozed snow that was once bathed in neutrons from the reactor released radioactive flakes of ice.

Franklin must have ingested some of the radioactive isotopes that the leaking neutrons made. In 2002, he had a cancerous prostate and kidney removed. By 2015, the cancer spread to his lungs and bones. He died of kidney cancer on March 8, 2017, as a retired, revered and decorated major general.

Camp Century’s radioactive legacy

Camp Century was shut down in 1967. During its eight-year life, scientists had used the base to drill down through the ice sheet and extract an ice core that my colleagues and I are still using today to reveal secrets of the ice sheet’s ancient past. Camp Century, its ice core and climate change are the focus of a book I am now writing.

The PM-2A was found to be highly radioactive and was buried in an Idaho nuclear waste dump. Army “hot waste” dumping records indicate it left radioactive cooling water buried in a sump in the Greenland ice sheet.

When scientists studying Camp Century in 2016 suggested that the warming climate now melting Greenland’s ice could expose the camp and its waste, including lead, fuel oil, PCBs and possibly radiation, by 2100, relations between the U.S, Denmark and Greenland grew tense. Who would be responsible for the cleanup and any environmental damage?

Portable nuclear reactors today

There are major differences between nuclear power production in the 1960s and today.

The Pele reactor’s fuel will be sealed in pellets the size of poppy seeds, and it will be air-cooled so there’s no radioactive coolant to dispose of.

Being able to produce energy with fewer greenhouse emissions is a positive in a warming world. The U.S. military’s liquid fuel use is close to all of Portugal’s or Peru’s. Not having to supply remote bases with as much fuel can also help protect lives in dangerous locations.

But, the U.S. still has no coherent national strategy for nuclear waste disposal, and critics are asking what happens if Pele falls into enemy hands. Researchers at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Academy of Sciences have previously questioned the risks of nuclear reactors being attacked by terrorists. As proposals for portable reactors undergo review over the coming months, these and other concerns will be drawing attention.

The U.S. military’s first attempts at land-based portable nuclear reactors didn’t work out well in terms of environmental contamination, cost, human health and international relations. That history is worth remembering as the military considers new mobile reactors.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, environment, history, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Risk of cracks in pressure tubes of Canada’s ageing nuclear reactors – how long can they keep operating safely?

The regulatory violations at the Bruce station are the latest indication that the industry’s approach to managing the aging of pressure tubes, and predicting deuterium ingress, may be breaking down.

At issue is the industry’s ability to accurately predict how long Canada’s aging nuclear reactors, many of which have already exceeded their 30-year design life, can continue to operate safely

Reactors at Bruce nuclear station violated terms of operating licence,   MATTHEW MCCLEARN  Globe and Mail, 19 Juy 21,Two reactors at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station have violated the terms of its operating licence, its operator and the federal regulator have revealed.

Bruce Power, which operates the plant in Kincardine, Ont., announced in a July 13 statement that pressure tubes in Unit 3 and Unit 6 were found to have “higher-than-anticipated readings.” The following day, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) issued its own statement saying hydrogen equivalent concentration (Heq) levels in some of the station’s pressure tubes exceeded the allowable limit of 120 parts per million.

Pressure tubes are six-metre-long rods that contain bundles of uranium fuel. A CANDU reactor contains several hundred of them – and they are considered the principal life-limiting component of Canada’s reactor fleet. Pressure tubes with high Heq levels are at risk of developing blisters and cracks that could cause them to fracture.

Citing an ongoing “regulatory process” that “will continue to evolve,” Bruce Power did not answer questions from The Globe and Mail regarding how many tubes were affected or how much they exceeded the allowable limit……………..

At issue is the industry’s ability to accurately predict how long Canada’s aging nuclear reactors, many of which have already exceeded their 30-year design life, can continue to operate safely……….

Frank Greening, a retired OPG employee who worked for more than a decade with pressure tubes, said the Unit 6 tube reading is unprecedented and puts the regulator in a difficult position………….

Pressure tubes deteriorate as they age, picking up deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) through a corrosion process known as deuterium ingress. In combination with other aging processes, deuterium ingress causes tubes to grow in length and diameter, known as creep, which allows more coolant to bypass the fuel bundles, lowering the margin of safety. Over time, tube walls become thinner and more brittle, which can cause them to crack and eventually fracture.

In January, 2019, the CNSC renewed Bruce Power’s licence to operate the Bruce station for 10 years, to 2028. However, the regulator insisted that before Heq levels exceeded 120 ppm, Bruce Power would have to prove that its pressure tubes could continue to operate safely above that level. If any pressure tube reached the limit, it declared, the operator would have to shut down the reactor.

At the time, Bruce Power promised to “extend the validity limits of the existing fracture toughness model to 140 ppm of [Heq] in pressure tubes by the end of 2018 and to 160 ppm of [Heq] by the end of 2019.”

But the CNSC said it received a new fracture toughness model for review this May. “No decisions regarding acceptance of the model have been made at this time,” it said.

The regulatory violations at the Bruce station are the latest indication that the industry’s approach to managing the aging of pressure tubes, and predicting deuterium ingress, may be breaking down.

It shows their predictions aren’t worth beans,” Dr. Greening said. “Their predictions are failing. And this is not the first time.”

In March, The Globe reported that, since 2017, CNSC staffers had expressed concerns about unreliable data from pressure tube inspections by OPG at its Pickering plant, east of Toronto. CNSC staffers warned that measuring and predicting deuterium ingress is “potentially one of the biggest issues currently faced by the Industry.”………. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-reactors-at-bruce-nuclear-station-violated-terms-of-operating-licence/

July 20, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Astronauts to Mars – a game of cancer-russian-roulette, especially dangerous to women

women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation.

the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

New Space Radiation Limits Needed for NASA Astronauts, Report Says, Scientific American, By Ramin Skibba on July 14, 2021 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-space-radiation-limits-needed-for-nasa-astronauts-report-says/   Although meant to minimize risks to human health, the proposed new limits would still be exceeded by any conceivable near-future crewed voyage to MarsAstronaut Scott Kelly famously spent an entire year residing onboard the International Space Station (ISS), about 400 kilometers above Earth, and his NASA colleague Christina Koch spent nearly that long “on station.” Each returned to Earth with slightly atrophied muscles and other deleterious physiological effects from their extended stay in near-zero gravity.

But another, more insidious danger lurks for spacefarers, especially those who venture beyond low-Earth orbit.

Space is filled with invisible yet harmful radiation, most of it sourced from energetic particles ejected by the sun or from cosmic rays created in extreme astrophysical events across the universe. Such radiation can damage an organism’s DNA and other delicate cellular machinery. And the damage increases in proportion to exposure, which is drastically higher beyond the protective cocoon of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field (such as on notional voyages to the moon or Mars). Over time, the accrued cellular damage significantly raises the risk of developing cancer.

To address the situation, at NASA’s request, a team of top scientists organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report in June recommending that the space agency adopt a maximum career-long limit of 600 millisieverts for the space radiation astronauts can receive. The sievert is a unit that measures the amount of radiation absorbed by a person—while accounting for the type of radiation and its impact on particular organs and tissues in the body—and is equivalent to one joule of energy per kilogram of mass. Scientists typically use the smaller (but still quite significant) quantity of the millisievert, or 0.001 sievert. Bananas, for instance, host minute quantities of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, but to ingest a millisievert’s worth, one would have to eat 10,000 bananas within a couple of hours.

Every current member of NASA’s astronaut corps has received less than 600 millisieverts during their orbital sojourns, and most, including Koch, have received much less and can thus safely return to space. But a year on the ISS still exposes them to more radiation than experienced by residents of Japan who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents of 2011.

Everybody is planning trips to the moon and Mars,” and these missions could have high radiation exposures, says Hedvig Hricak, lead author of the report and a radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Using current spaceflight-proved technologies, long-distance voyages—especially to the Red Planet—would exceed the proposed threshold, she says.

That could be a big problem for NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to send astronauts to the moon in preparation for future trips to Mars. Another problem for the space agency is that the epidemiological data it uses mostly come from a longevity study of Japanese survivors of atomic bomb blasts, as well as from the handful of astronauts and cosmonauts who have endured many months or even years in low-Earth orbit. NASA’s current space radiation limit, which was developed in 2014, involves a complicated risk assessment for cancer mortality that depends on age and sex, yet more relevant data are necessary, Hricak argues. In the atomic bomb survivor study, for instance, women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation. “But with the knowledge we presently have, we know we cannot make a comparison between high exposure versus chronic exposure,” Hricak says. “The environment is different. There are so many factors that are different.”

NASA wants to update its standards now because the agency is on the cusp of sending so many astronauts well beyond low-Earth orbit, where greater amounts of space radiation seem destined to exceed previously mandated exposure limits. Furthermore, Hricak says, having a single, universal radiation limit for all space travelers is operationally advantageous because of its simplicity. A universal limit could also be seen as a boon for female astronauts, [ Ed. a boon?when they still are more susceptible to cancer than men are?] who had a lower limit than men in the old system and therefore were barred from spending as many days in space as their male counterparts.

The new radiation limit proposed by Hricak and her team is linked to the risks to all organs of a 35-year-old woman—a demographic deemed most vulnerable in light of gender differences in the atomic bomb survivor data and the fact that younger people have higher radiation risks, partly because they have more time for cancers to develop. The goal of the radiation maximum is to keep an individual below a 3 percent risk of cancer mortality: in other words, with this radiation limit, at most three out of 100 astronauts would be expected to die of radiation-induced cancer in their lifetime.

“NASA uses standards to set spaceflight exposure limits to protect NASA astronauts’ health and performance, both in mission and after mission,” says Dave Francisco of NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer. He acknowledges that, while astronauts on Mars missions would benefit from the thin Martian atmosphere that provides some limited protection, “transit in deep space has the highest exposure levels.”

That means long-haul space trips come with the biggest risks. A stay on the lunar surface for six months or more—presuming, of course, that astronauts eventually have a presence there and do not spend most of their time in subsurface habitats—would involve nearly 200 millisieverts of exposure, a higher amount than an extended visit to the ISS. And an astronaut traveling to Mars would be exposed to even more radiation. Whether they reached the Red Planet through a lunar stopover or on a direct spaceflight, they could have experienced significant radiation exposure en route. Even before they embarked on the trip back home, they could have already exceeded the 600 millisievert limit. The entire voyage, which would likely last a couple of years, could involve well more than 1,000 millisieverts. So if astronauts—and not just robots—will be sent to Mars, NASA likely will need to request waivers for them,

Hricak says, although the exact process for obtaining a waiver has not yet been laid out.

The report’s proposal for a new radiation maximum is not without its critics. “For a mission to Mars, a 35-year-old woman right at that limit could have an over 10 percent chance of dying in 15 to 20 years. To me, this is like playing Russian roulette with the crew,” says Francis Cucinotta, a physicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and former radiation health officer at NASA. Despite the supposed benefits the new limits would have for female astronauts, he is concerned that the risks are particularly pronounced for younger women in space.

On the contrary, Hricak says, in its request for new limits, NASA has sought to be conservative. The European, Canadian, and Russian space agencies all currently have a higher maximum allowed dose of 1,000 millisieverts, while Japan’s limit is age- and sex-dependent like NASA’s current one, mainly because of a shared dependence on the atomic bomb survivor data.

But unlike someone in the vicinity of a nuclear explosion, the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

considering how little is known about various health risks from different kinds of space radiation, compared with radiation we are familiar with on Earth, researchers will surely continue with more studies like these to protect astronauts as much as possible. “I can tell you exactly how much exposure you’re going to get from a CT scan,” Hricak says, “but there are many uncertainties with space radiation.”….. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-space-radiation-limits-needed-for-nasa-astronauts-report-says/  

July 15, 2021 Posted by | radiation, Reference, space travel, Women | Leave a comment

As the world starts to panic over climate change, nuclear evangelists offer spurious solutions.

I too wish that the things that the nuclear industry says about itself were true—I wish it was green and renewable. I wish that there weren’t multiple uranium mining sites around the world with thousands of tons of uranium tailings abandoned and open to the elements, continuing to harm the health of generations born long after mining ceased.

I wish that it didn’t take immense, carbon-intensive mining projects to extract uranium from the Earth, and then again to “deposit” the spent nuclear fuel from reactors back half a kilometer underground.

Nuclear Stockholm Syndrome, https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/09/nuclear-stockholm-syndrome/

BY ROBERT JACOBS  9 July 21,  Bhaskar Sunkara’s recent opinion piece extoling the virtues of nuclear power and castigating its opponents as paranoid and ill-informed, is clearly motivated by his deep concerns over the dire impacts of global warming, which loom closer by the hour. Unfortunately, his arguments amount to little more than regurgitated industry talking points, in their traditional form of a Jeremiad.

First, Sunkara poses the decline of the nuclear industry in the West as an achievement of progressive political movements. Specifically, he cites the decline of nuclear power in Germany as attributable to a “Green party-spearheaded campaign.” This decline has been more reasonably ascribed to both market conditions and missteps by nuclear industry giants such as Westinghouse and AREVA. From its inception, nuclear power has been heavily dependent on government subsidies to appear economically viable (subsidies such as insurance and the disposal of waste largely configured as taxpayer burdens).

Rather than succumbing to its political opponents on the left, the industry has been sunk by its structural economic dysfunctions. In the US, this has sparked schemes to secure additional taxpayer subsidies in legislative fixes such as guaranteed returns for nuclear utilities, and outright bribery of legislators for taxpayer bailouts of failing companies.

The most simplistic recitation of nuclear industry talking points is when Sunkara dismisses concerns about nuclear waste, and extolls the mythic separation between “civilian” and “military” nuclear technologies. He asserts that most nuclear waste “can be recycled to generate more electricity,” an assertion that goes back more than half a century and has been ritualistically recited by an army of nuclear industry PR professionals before him…yet here we are 50 years later and very little spent nuclear fuel has actually been recycled. The most successful nuclear recycling nation is France which, nevertheless, is experiencing a “nuclear exit” and is unlikely to ever use this recycled fuel. AREVA, the French nuclear giant, has gone bankrupt. Reprocessing facilities like the Rokkasho plant here in Japan have never functioned properly, unless you consider their role enabling the stockpiling of plutonium by Japan to hedge against future weapon needs to be an elemental goal.

There is a difference between what can be done, and what actually happens. Rather than being recycled, hundreds of thousands of metric tons of spent nuclear fuel await “final disposal” in deep geological repositories. Some have been waiting for over 70 years. Just last week, a panel advising the EU on categorizing nuclear plant as “green” energy, and thus eligible to receive EU funding as a “sustainable investment,” concluded that the problems of nuclear waste preclude that designation.

I would point out that even though plastics manufacturers assure us that most plastic can be recycled, we still seem to be living a world with ever increasing amounts of plastic waste. Their greenwashing has not eventuated in a world full of plastics made from recycled materials. The market reality is that it is cheaper to manufacture new plastic than it is to manufacture plastic from recycled materials. Similarly, it is cheaper to discard spent nuclear fuel than it is to reprocess it.

Sunkara dismisses the irrevocable link between military and civilian nuclear technologies as imaginary. First, let’s consider the present imbrication. A 2019 Atlantic Council study places the value of the US civilian nuclear complex to the US national security apparatus at $26 billion annually simply in terms of the human capital assets: “In terms of nuclear technology innovation, export capacity, and geopolitics, a vibrant civilian nuclear energy sector is a critically important national security asset.”

However, the civilian operation of nuclear power plants also places future generations at military risk. I have written that, historically, nuclear reactors were “born violent.” That is to say, they were invented by the Manhattan Project in the early 1940s to manufacture plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, and were instrumental in killing almost 100,000 people in 1945. The “first” American commercial atomic plant in Shippingport, PA that went critical in 1958, was actually the 14th industrial nuclear reactor built in the United States, the other 13 only manufactured plutonium, which by then formed the fissile cores of thousands of nuclear weapons.

In nuclear reactors used to make electricity, this plutonium is not separated out for use in weapons. However, all nuclear power plants remain plutonium production factories. The fact that most of those tons of plutonium remain in the spent fuel rods does not mean they will stay there forever. Thousands of years from now, some government or military may dig up the spent fuel in our deep geological repositories and separate that plutonium out to build nuclear weaponry. All it would take is the technology (technology we currently possess) and the will. We continue to manufacture that plutonium—perhaps for them to weaponize. Every nuclear power plant that operates adds to that inventory; more than 99% of existing plutonium was manufactured in nuclear reactors. In 1962, the US successfully detonated a nuclear weapon assembled with just such “reactor-grade” plutonium. Our generation’s use of nuclear power silently stockpiles fissile material that will remain militarily viable for millennia.

I too wish that the things that the nuclear industry says about itself were true—I wish it was green and renewable. I wish that there weren’t multiple uranium mining sites around the world with thousands of tons of uranium tailings abandoned and open to the elements, continuing to harm the health of generations born long after mining ceased. I wish that it didn’t take immense, carbon-intensive mining projects to extract uranium from the Earth, and then again to “deposit” the spent nuclear fuel from reactors back half a kilometer underground. Estimates before construction began at Onkalo spent fuel repository in Finland were that the site would entail a “half-billion-euro construction project will generate some 2,500 person years of employment,” and would take 100 years to complete. That is just to contain the spent fuel from five nuclear power plants. The United States, by contrast, has 94 commercial nuclear power plants. There is still no actual plan for the astonishingly large and carbon-intensive site it will take to bury the more than 140,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, with some hope of containing it for thousands of generations of future human beings. This doesn’t include the thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel from the nuclear reactors operated by the US military to provide the fissile cores of more than 70,000 nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

The panic-inducing impacts of anthropic climate change spark a desperate need for immediate reassurance and calming: we want to fix it now. We long to turn some corner that will change the situation. It is unlikely that the same short-sighted military-industrial technophilia that brought us to this climate crisis will flip over and provide us the urgent path to its resolution. Technological evangelists have been auditioning for the part of Climate Change Savior to anyone who will listen. Some proffer a Reagan-era Star Wars pitch: they will fill the skies with material to block the enemy (in this case sunlight rather than Soviet ICBMs). These geoengineering quick-fix schemes are more likely to cause unplanned outcomes than to achieve their missions.

At one time nuclear weapon producers imagined they too could geoengineer the planet to shape it to human desires. They tested the use of nuclear weapons to sculpt harbors into coastlines, and to release natural gas trapped in rock formations. These experiments led to some of the most significant radiological distributions and contaminated sites in the wide panoply of nuclear testing. Still, hyper-capitalist techno utopians like Elon Musk envision the key to human habitation on Mars is the detonation of a massive arsenals of thermonuclear weapons to shape it to our needs.

The nuclear industry will ignore its market dilemmas as long as taxpayers continue to backstop its investors. However, to believe that this massive, for-profit, military-based industry has concern for the welfare of the Earth and its inhabitants is akin to believing the plastic industry is actually beavering away to make the plastic waste disappear. Repackaging their talking points out of a genuine concern for living creatures is a resource they will continue to tap so long as it flows freely. Sunkara would do better to advocate for the mass social movements that have shifted giant industries towards social welfare in the past rather than preaching that the industries themselves are saviors. Time is obviously short, wrong turns are catastrophic.


Robert (Bo) Jacobs
 is a historian at the Hiroshima Peace Institute and Graduate School of Peace Studies at Hiroshima City University. He has written and edited multiple books and articles on nuclear history and culture including, The Dragon’s Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age, and Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb. He is a founder and a principal researcher of the Global Hibakusha Project, studying radiation exposed communities around the world. His book, Nuclear Bodies: The Global Hibakusha, will be published by Yale University Press in 2022. His Global Hibakusha blog can be found here.

July 13, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

Reaching net zero without nuclear

Our latest Talking Points makes the case

Not only is it possible, it’s essential   https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/07/11/reaching-net-zero-without-nuclear/

The fourth in our series of Talking Points draws on the new report by Jonathon Porritt, New Zero Without Nuclear: The Case Against Nuclear Power. Given the far-off illusory promise of new reactor designs; the enormous costs; the limited capacity for carbon reductions compared to renewables; the unsolved waste problem; and the inflexibility and outdatedness of the “always on” baseload model, nuclear power is in the way of — rather than a contributor to — climate mitigation. You can download the Net Zero Without Nuclear Talking Points here. This is the fourth in our series. You can find all four here.

By Jonathon Porritt 10 July 21

 I first took an interest in Greenpeace back in 1973, before I joined Friends of the Earth, CND and the Green Party (then the Ecology Party) a year later. I’d followed the campaigns against the testing of nuclear weapons in Amchitka (one of the Aleutian islands in Alaska), and then in the French nuclear testing area of Moruroa in the Pacific. I was 23 at the time, with zero in-depth knowledge, but it just seemed wrong, on so many different fronts.

That early history of Greenpeace seems much less relevant now, given all its achievements over the last 50 years in so many other areas of critical environmental concern. But it still matters. Greenpeace has been an ‘anti-nuclear organisation’ through all that time, sometimes fiercely engaged in front-line battles, sometimes maintaining more of a watching brief, and nuclear power plays no part in Greenpeace’s modelling of a rapid transition to a Net Zero carbon world. It’s been very supportive of my new report, ‘Net Zero Without Nuclear’.

I wrote this report partly because the nuclear industry itself is in full-on propaganda mode, and partly because that small caucus of pro-nuclear greens (that’s existed for as long as I can remember) seems to be winning new supporters.

And I can see why. The Net Zero journey we’re now starting out on for real (at long last!) is by far the most daunting challenge that humankind has ever faced. Writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books in June 2019, author and Army veteran Roy Scranton put it like this:

‘Climate change is bigger than the New Deal, bigger than the Marshall Plan, bigger than World War II, bigger than racism, sexism, inequality, slavery, the Holocaust, the end of nature, the Sixth Extinction, famine, war, and plague all put together, because the chaos it’s bringing is going to supercharge every other problem. Successfully meeting this crisis would require an abrupt, traumatic revolution in global human society; failing to meet it will be even worse.’

Not many people see it like that – as yet. But more and more will, as signals of that kind of chaos start to multiply. And we already know that the kind of radical decarbonisation on which our future depends is going to be incredibly hard. So why should we reject a potentially powerful contribution to that decarbonisation challenge?

I became Director of Friends of the Earth in 1984. The same year that my first book, ‘Seeing Green’, was published. Looking back on what I said then, I was indeed fiercely critical of nuclear power, but have to admit that my advocacy of renewables (as the principal alternative) was somewhat muted. Apart from a few visionaries in the early 1980s (including Friends of the Earth’s Amory Lovins and Walt Patterson), no-one really thought that renewables would be capable of substituting for the use of all fossil fuels and all nuclear at any point in the near future. And anyone expressing such a view in official circles was rapidly put back in their box.

Given the scale of the challenge we face, we need to have very strong grounds for keeping nuclear out of today’s low/zero-carbon portfolio. Not least as nuclear power, historically, has already made a huge contribution to low-carbon generation. Since the early 1960s, nuclear power has provided the equivalent of 18,000 reactor years of electricity generation. We’d be in a much worse place today if all that electricity had been generated from burning coal or gas.

Happily, there is no longer any doubt about the viability of that alternative. In 2020, Stanford University issued a collection of 56 peer-reviewed journal articles, from 18 independent research groups, supporting the idea that all the energy required for electricity, transport, heating and cooling, and all industrial purposes, can be supplied reliably with 100% (or near 100%) renewable energy. The solutions involve transitioning ASAP to 100% renewable wind – water – solar (WWS), efficiency and storage.

The transition is already happening. To date, 11 countries have reached or exceeded 100% renewable electricity. And a further 12 countries are intent on reaching that threshold by 2030. In the UK, the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology says we can reach 100% renewable electricity by 2032. Last year, we crossed the 40% threshold.

There is of course a world of difference between electricity and total energy consumption. But at the end of April, Carbon Tracker brought out its latest analysis of the potential for renewables, convincingly explaining why solar and wind alone could meet total world energy demand 100 times over by 2050, and that fears about the huge amount of land this would require are unfounded. The land required for solar panels to provide all global energy would be 450,000 km2, just 0.3% of global land area – significantly less than the current land footprint of fossil fuel infrastructures. As the Report says:

The technical and economic barriers have been crossed and the only impediment to change is political. Sector by sector and country by country the fossil fuel incumbency is being swamped by the rapidly rising tide of new energy technologies. Even countries where the technical potential is below 10 times energy demand. . . have devised innovative approaches to energy generation.

The fossil fuel industry cannot compete with the technology learning curves of renewables, so demand will inevitably fall as wind and solar continue to grow. At the current 15-20% growth rates of solar and wind, fossil fuels will be pushed out of the electricity sector by the mid-2030s and out of total energy supply by 2050.‘

The unlocking of energy reserves 100 times our current demand creates new possibilities for cheaper energy and more local jobs in a more equitable world with far less environmental stress.‘

Poor countries are the greatest beneficiaries. They have the largest ratio of solar and wind potential to energy demand and stand to unlock huge domestic benefits.’

Nuclear plays no part in any of these projections, whether we’re talking big reactors or small reactors, fission or fusion. The simple truth is this: we should see nuclear as another 20th century technology, with an ever-diminishing role through into the 21st century, incapable of overcoming its inherent problems of cost, construction delay, nuclear waste, decommissioning, security (both physical and cyber), let alone the small but still highly material risk of catastrophic accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima. My ‘Net Zero Without Nuclear’ report goes into all these inherent problems in some detail.

So why are the UK’s politicians (in all three major parties) still in thrall to this superannuated technology? It’s here we have to go back to Amchitka! Some environmentalists may still be taken aback to discover that the Government’s principal case for nuclear power in the UK today is driven by the need to maintain the UK’s nuclear weapons capability – to ensure a ‘talent pool’ of nuclear engineers and to support a supply chain of engineering companies capable of providing component parts for the nuclear industry, both civilian and military. The indefatigable work of Andy Stirling and Phil Johnston at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit has established the depth and intensity of these interdependencies, demonstrating how the UK’s military industrial base would become unaffordable in the absence of a nuclear energy programme.

What that means is that today’s pro-nuclear greens are throwing in their lot not just with a bottomless pit of hype and fantasy, but with a world still dangerously at risk from that continuing dependence on nuclear weapons. That’s a weird place to be, 50 years on from the emergence of Greenpeace as a force for good in that world.

July 12, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics, Reference, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Nuclear weapons testing has never really stopped. We just call underground testing ”subcritical”

10 July 21, We never ended nuclear detonations. The US has performed and continues to perform over 100 nuclear tests explosions 1000 feet below the desert floor on Western Shoshone holy land in Nevada where we have blown up plutonium with high explosive chemicals,

But because it doesn’t cause a chain reaction, Clinton characterized them in 1992, as “ subcritical” tests which he asserted don’t violate the not so comprehensive Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty!! Of course Russia immediately followed  our lead and does these nuclear test explosions at Novaya Zemlya in the fragile arctic area. .

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Reference, USA, 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

Shattered remains — the fallout from the Trinity nuclear bomb test

Tularosa Basin Downwinders continue their fight for recognition

Shattered remains — Beyond Nuclear International The fight to right the injustices of Trinity  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3391600721 By Tina Cordova, 14 June 21, In a world searching for sustainable energy infrastructures, the US has still not rectified the injustices that came about with the earliest moments of the nuclear era. On July 16, 1945, when the US government detonated the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site in South Central New Mexico, officials had little to no concern for the people who lived in the adjacent area.

Most of them were people of color, Native Americans and also Hispanos who had emigrated north from Mexico (or their ancestors had likely done so). These people were warned neither before nor after the so-called “test” as to the dangers they were facing as a result of the bomb

As we know, this “test” would be the first of many from both Western and Eastern superpowers. Within the US context, other communities considered marginal to the US would be devastated; the atomic explosions on the Marshall Islands and their impacts on Indigenous communities are one of the best-known of these horrific accounts. Debates around nuclear power continue to have great international resonance today. 
 
As documented in written and oral histories recorded by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), ash fell from the sky for days after the bomb was detonated and settled on everything—the people, the land, and the animals.  The TBDC was originally organized to bring attention to the negative health effects suffered by the people of New Mexico as a result of their overexposure to radiation as a result of the “test.”  Ultimately, the TBDC’S goals include raising awareness and attaining justice for impacted local communities and families.

Fallout
The bomb detonated at Trinity produced massive fallout that blanketed the earth and became part of the water and food supply that the people of the area rely on for sustenance. The bomb was incredibly inefficient, inasmuch as it was overpacked with plutonium: it incorporated 13 pounds of plutonium when only three pounds were necessary for the fission process.  The remaining 10 lbs. of plutonium—with a half-life of 24,000 years—was dispersed in the radioactive cloud that rose over eight miles above the atmosphere, penetrating the stratosphere.

The bomb was detonated on a platform at a height of 100 feet off the ground, the only time a device was ever detonated so close to the ground.  At this height the blast did not produce massive destruction—but it did produce massive fallout. In fact, Trinity produced more fallout than any of the atomic bombs detonated at the Nevada Site.  In Japan, the bombs were detonated at heights of 1600 (Nagasaki) and 1800 (Hiroshima) feet respectively, which produced massive destruction and the horrific images which we know too well. In contrast, the accounts of communities in southern New Mexico are best characterized by what Rob Nixon calls “slow violence.” Through this concept, Nixon wants us to focus on how environmental degradation that occurs at the hands of human actors can slowly accumulate and impact communities for years after an initial event. 

To understand the exposure received by New Mexicans in the area, it is important to understand the lifestyles of the people living there in the 1940s and ’50s. In rural parts of New Mexico in 1945 there was no running water, so people collected rainwater for the purpose of drinking, cooking, and the like. There was no refrigeration, so there were no grocery stores to buy produce, meat, or dairy products. Mercantile stores sold things like sugar, flour, coffee, rice, cereal, and other nonperishables, but all the meat, dairy, and produce that was consumed was grown, raised, hunted locally. Most if not all the food sources were negatively affected by the radioactive fallout that became part of almost everything that was consumed

The regional water infrastructures included cisterns, sometimes dug into the ground, to collect water directed off of rooftops. Once inside a cistern, radioactive debris would remain effectively forever (having no place else to go) so that water dipped out of a cistern for drinking or cooking would be replete with radioactive isotopes that were then consumed. Even one particle of plutonium inhaled or ingested would remain in the body giving off radiation and destroying cells, tissue, and organs.

Denial

People who have shared with the TBDC their stories of the blast that day have said that they thought it was the end of the world. Imagine: the bomb produced more heat and more light than the sun. It was detonated at about 5:30 a.m. and many reported that the explosion “knocked them out of bed.” They said first the sky lit up brighter than day, and then the blast followed. Many said that they were gathered up by their mothers and made to pray. The light is reported to have been seen all the way to California and the blast was felt as far north as Albuquerque. It was an unprecedented event that no one received warning about, and within days a lie was delivered and perpetuated by the US government: a munition dump at the Alamogordo Bombing Range had accidently exploded but no one was hurt, it claimed.

People who have shared with the TBDC their stories of the blast that day have said that they thought it was the end of the world. Imagine: the bomb produced more heat and more light than the sun. It was detonated at about 5:30 a.m. and many reported that the explosion “knocked them out of bed.” They said first the sky lit up brighter than day, and then the blast followed. Many said that they were gathered up by their mothers and made to pray. The light is reported to have been seen all the way to California and the blast was felt as far north as Albuquerque. It was an unprecedented event that no one received warning about, and within days a lie was delivered and perpetuated by the US government: a munition dump at the Alamogordo Bombing Range had accidently exploded but no one was hurt, it claimed.

The US government has never returned to conduct a full epidemiological study on the impacts of this exposure on the people of New Mexico. Yet in 1990, a bill was passed called the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which provided recognition, an apology, and reparations to the people living downwind of the Nevada Test Site and elsewhere in the Southwest not counting the region around the Trinity site. So while the people of New Mexico were the first to be exposed to this horrific form radiation anyplace in the world, while they lived much closer to the Trinity test site and were therefore exposed to much more higher doses of radiation, and while they were also documented as being downwind of the Nevada Test site, they have never been included in the RECA fund.   
 
Documentation

There has been a recent challenge by the National Cancer Institute to what we know to be true about the people’s use of cisterns in rural parts of New Mexico. To dispel the idea that people in the 1940s and ’50s didn’t use cisterns, the TBDC is now undertaking a process for collecting notarized affidavits in which people recount what they remember about how they acquired water for drinking and cooking purposes. Many of the statements are clear about how rainwater was collected mainly in cisterns and that this water was considered a precious commodity.

This archival work provides the TBDC with the opportunity to document, for the first time, the memories of local and elderly community members about the region’s water infrastructures and support their efforts for environmental justice. This ongoing archival work was even useful for TBDC’s March, 2021, presentation to the US Congress on the importance of expanding RECA.

The collection of affidavits is made public so that there is a record of what has been shared with the TBDC through this process. People who wrote the statements in these affidavits are from varying communities across New Mexico, and it is interesting to note that most of them were typically not familiar with each other, yet their statements have many common themes.   

The TBDC believes that there is an imperative to document the truth as told by those who experienced the Trinity bomb and know of their living conditions. It is hoped that the affidavits will inform the public as to the inaccuracies that are often told by the government and agencies that represent the government. All of this is especially crucial today as nuclear energy has continued to be of great importance globally. Numerous administrations have sought to expand US nuclear power abroad, yet as both the US and other governments around the world continue to look towards nuclear, its origins and those present during its origins must no longer be overlooked.

Tina Cordova is a seventh generation native New Mexican born and raised in the small town of Tularosa in south central New Mexico, and is past Vice President of the New Mexico Highlands University Foundation, her Alma Mater. A thyroid cancer survivor, in 2005 Tina co-founded the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

June 14, 2021 Posted by | environment, health, history, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World”

A secondary theme in the book is the role of a free press.  Blume observes that “Hersey and his New Yorker editors created `Hiroshima’ in the belief that journalists must hold accountable those in power.  They saw a free press as essential to the survival of democracy.”  She does, too.

Review: Lesley Blume’s “Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World”, Portside,  June 1, 2021 Lawrence Wittner  In this crisply written, well-researched book, Lesley Blume, a journalist and biographer, tells the fascinating story of the background to John Hersey’s pathbreaking article “Hiroshima,” and of its extraordinary impact upon the world.

In 1945, although only 30 years of age, Hersey was a very prominent war correspondent for Time magazine—a key part of publisher Henry Luce’s magazine empire………..

Blume reveals that, at the time of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Hersey felt a sense of despair—not for the bombing’s victims, but for the future of the world.  He was even more disturbed by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki only three days later, which he considered a “totally criminal” action that led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

…………. Blume shows very well how this approval of the atomic bombing was enhanced by U.S. government officials and the very compliant mass communications media.  Working together, they celebrated the power of the new American weapon that, supposedly, had brought the war to an end, producing articles lauding the bombing mission and pictures of destroyed buildings.  What was omitted was the human devastation, the horror of what the atomic bombing had done physically and psychologically to an almost entirely civilian population—the flesh roasted off bodies, the eyeballs melting, the terrible desperation of mothers digging with their hands through the charred rubble for their dying children.

The strange new radiation sickness produced by the bombing was either denied or explained away as of no consequence.  “Japanese reports of death from radioactive effects of atomic bombing are pure propaganda,” General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, told the New York Times.  Later, when, it was no longer possible to deny the existence of radiation sickness, Groves told a Congressional committee that it was actually “a very pleasant way to die.”

When it came to handling the communications media, U.S. government officials had some powerful tools at their disposal.  In Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of the U.S. occupation regime, saw to it that strict U.S. military censorship was imposed on the Japanese press and other forms of publication, which were banned from discussing the atomic bombing.  As for foreign newspaper correspondents (including Americans), they needed permission from the occupation authorities to enter Japan, to travel within Japan, to remain in Japan, and even to obtain food in Japan.  American journalists were taken on carefully controlled junkets to Hiroshima, after which they were told to downplay any unpleasant details of what they had seen there.

In September 1945, U.S. newspaper and magazine editors received a letter from the U.S. War Department, on behalf of President Harry Truman, asking them to restrict information in their publications about the atomic bomb.  If they planned to do any publishing in this area of concern, they were to submit the articles to the War Department for review…………

Hersey had concluded that the mass media had missed the real story of the Hiroshima bombing.  And the result was that the American people were becoming accustomed to the idea of a nuclear future, with the atomic bomb as an acceptable weapon of war.  Appalled by what he had seen in the Second World War—from the firebombing of cities to the Nazi concentration camps—Hersey was horrified by what he called “the depravity of man,” which, he felt, rested upon the dehumanization of others.  Against this backdrop, Hersey and Shawn concluded that he should try to enter Japan and report on what had really happened there……….

Hersey arrived in Tokyo on May 24, 1946, and two days later, received permission to travel to Hiroshima, with his time in that city limited to 14 days.

Entering Hiroshima, Hersey was stunned by the damage he saw.  In Blume’s words, there were “miles of jagged misery and three-dimensional evidence that humans—after centuries of contriving increasingly efficient ways to exterminate masses of other humans—had finally invented the means with which to decimate their entire civilization.”   Now there existed what one reporter called “teeming jungles of dwelling places . . . in a welter of ashes and rubble.”  As residents attempted to clear the ground to build new homes, they uncovered masses of bodies and severed limbs.  A cleanup campaign in one district of the city alone at about that time unearthed a thousand corpses.  Meanwhile, the city’s surviving population was starving, with constant new deaths from burns, other dreadful wounds, and radiation poisoning.

Given the time limitations of his permit, Hersey had to work fast.  And he did, interviewing dozens of survivors, although he eventually narrowed down his cast of characters to six of them.

……… Ross and Shawn decided to keep the explosive forthcoming issue a top secret from the magazine’s staff.  

Given the time limitations of his permit, Hersey had to work fast.  And he did, interviewing dozens of survivors, although he eventually narrowed down his cast of characters to six of them.

……… Ross and Shawn decided to keep the explosive forthcoming issue a top secret from the magazine’s staff.  

Groves believed that the Japanese deserved what had happened to them, and could not imagine that other Americans might disagree. ………. and he believed that an article that led Americans to fear nuclear attacks by other nations would foster support for a U.S. nuclear buildup.

The gamble paid off.  Although Groves did demand changes, these were minor and did not affect the accounts by the survivors…….  

On August 29, 1946, copies of the “Hiroshima” edition of the New Yorker arrived on newsstands and in mailboxes across the United States, and it quickly created an enormous sensation, particularly in the mass media.  Editors from more than thirty states applied to excerpt portions of the article, and newspapers from across the nation ran front-page banner stories and urgent editorials about its revelations.  Correspondence from every region of the United States poured into the New Yorker’s office.  A large number of readers expressed pity for the victims of the bombing.  But an even greater number expressed deep fear about what the advent of nuclear war meant for the survival of the human race.

Of course, not all readers approved of Hersey’s report on the atomic bombing.  Some reacted by canceling their subscriptions to the New Yorker.  Others assailed the article as antipatriotic, Communist propaganda, designed to undermine the United States.  Still others dismissed it as pro-Japanese propaganda or, as one reader remarked, written “in very bad taste.”

………………………… The conclusion drawn by Blume in this book is much like Hersey’s.  As she writes, “Graphically showing what nuclear warfare does to humans, `Hiroshima’ has played a major role in preventing nuclear war since the end of World War II.”

A secondary theme in the book is the role of a free press.  Blume observes that “Hersey and his New Yorker editors created `Hiroshima’ in the belief that journalists must hold accountable those in power.  They saw a free press as essential to the survival of democracy.”  She does, too.

………… Blume has written a very illuminating, interesting, and important work—one that reminds us that daring, committed individuals can help to create a better world.https://portside.org/2021-06-01/review-lesley-blumes-fallout-hiroshima-cover-and-reporter-who-revealed-it-world

June 3, 2021 Posted by | history, media, Reference, weapons and war | 4 Comments

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’, By Chris Wood, BBC News 30 May 21,  When David Purse was sent to Australia, he thought it would be a “wild adventure” in a little-explored place.

However, the RAF flight lieutenant’s posting to a remote area called Maralinga was to test atomic weapons.

Son Steve, 47, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, puts his own “unique” condition down to “a rare genetic mutation” caused by radiation.

The Ministry of Defence said three large studies found no link between the tests and ill health.

But a study at Brunel University is currently looking at the possibility genetic damage from the tests has affected the children of personnel.

“Flying through mushroom clouds or watching”, Steve believes men were “treated like guinea pigs” and wants recognition for them, adding: “It wasn’t an act of God but an act of government.”

In all, about 40,000 British personnel took part in the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most were in the Pacific – the biggest being Operation Grapple, where about 22,000 people oversaw the exploding of bombs in 1957.

Maralinga, in South Australia, saw the first test launches of atomic weapons from aircraft in 1962.

“He was told at short notice and was looking forward to visiting a warm country, a relatively unexplained place, and having a wild adventure,” Steve said of his father.

However, he was “close enough to ground zero to see sand to turn to glass” during tests, with no protective equipment.

Steve added: “There was a rope saying ‘do not enter’ but radiation was in the sand and would blow into food, into their face.

“They would swim in the lagoon, and catch fish that contained highly toxic radiation.”……………..

Steve describes his condition as “unique”, with doctors unable to diagnose it exactly, but says it is a form of short stature, similar to that of actor Warwick Davis.

He believes it is because of a “rare genetic mutation” as a result of the nuclear tests, and part of the “roulette” future generations must live with.

Steve is worried his baby son, Sascha, could also develop problems as he grows older.

“That’s the sad thing, it probably won’t die with veterans,” he said………

The possibility that children of personnel could be affected was first raised in a study at New Zealand’s Massey University in 2007.

Al Rowlands, who led the investigation at the university, said results were “unequivocal” that veterans had suffered genetic damage as a result of radiation.

Support group Labrats estimates there are 200,000 descendants of those who took part in British tests – and says the UK is the only nuclear state not to properly recognise its veterans and support them.

It conducted a health survey with 123 people who took part in tests, 76 from the UK.

“Many [problems experienced by descendants] tend to be autoimmune diseases, but if there are problems, they tend to be severe,” said founder Alan Owen.

“There are bone problems, teeth problems, eye sight. Issues that are meant to affect one in 1,000 – we talked to 10 descendants, four were affected.

“They have developed cancer, heart problems, a wide range of diseases.”

He described talking to veterans about their fears, adding: “When a grandchild is born, they don’t ask if it’s a boy or a girl, but if it’s okay. It’s quite sad they’re living with that now.”

Mr Owen’s father was involved at Operation Dominic, where the United States conducted 31 tests in the Pacific in 1962.

The American government has paid compensation to British personnel present and Mr Owen wants recognition by UK authorities.

He believes there are about 1,500 British nuclear veterans still alive, adding: “All they want is for the government to say ‘we did wrong, it was the 1950s’.

“No prime minister has ever met nuclear veterans. Anthony Eden was warned about the consequences and his reply was ‘it’s a pity but we can’t help it’…………

A number of veterans have already called for an apology, linking their cancer to the testing.

The Ministry of Defence responded by saying: “The National Radiological Protection Board has carried out three large studies of nuclear test veterans and found no valid evidence to link participation in these tests to ill health.”

The Brunel University study has been carried out with those involved in British nuclear tests and their children, with results due soon.

“We anticipate that our findings will have a lasting benefit for the broader nuclear community by providing scientific evidence that will resolve current uncertainties and speculation about potential adverse health effects in nuclear test veterans and their families,” said chief investigator Rhona Anderson.  https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-57157476

May 31, 2021 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The USA-UK nuclear cabal

A toxic relationship that could destroy the world

The USA-UK nuclear cabal — Beyond Nuclear International The USA-UK nuclear cabal
  May 30, 2021 by beyondnuclearinternational   
A “special relationship” in nuclear collusion
By Leonard Eiger On March 16th the United Kingdom announced (in its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign Policy and Development titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age) that it will increase the limit on its nuclear arsenal for the first time in decades. Instead of maintaining a cap of 180 warheads (as it had previously stated), the UK will increase its stockpile cap to 260 warheads — a 40% increase. The review also broadens the role of nuclear weapons to include the possible use of nuclear weapons to address emerging technologies (cyber attacks). This is shocking and unacceptable! Indeed, it seems the British Empire is flexing its imperial muscles as it breaks away from the rest of Europe.

The announcement comes at a precarious time. A new nuclear arms race is brewing. The US and Russia, the two largest nuclear powers (with some 93 percent of global nuclear warheads) are failing to lead the world away from reliance on nuclear weapons, and other nations are following their lead. At a time when most nations are calling for an end to nuclear weapons (UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons), rather than setting a positive example and supporting the treaty, the UK is instead fanning the flames of proliferation. And, it is getting loads of help along the way.

Just prior to the announcement a spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence reiterated the longstanding claim that the “UK is committed to maintaining its independent nuclear deterrent, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life.” The British have been claiming their nuclear weapons systems to be “independent” for so long that the world seems to have accepted this fraudulent claim. In fact, the UK’s nuclear forces are anything but independent, and there is ample evidence to disprove the governments claim. To more fully understand the situation, we need to study a bit of history.

Although the US declared its independence when the original 13 American colonies severed their political connections to Great Britain, the two countries have since found it mutually beneficial to develop a strong alliance; what has become known as the “Special Relationship,” an unofficial term used to describe certain aspects of their relationship including political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, and military.
And nowhere has their relationship been quite as special as is the case involving nuclear weapons. The two countries signed the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) in 1958, a secretly negotiated bilateral treaty on nuclear weapons cooperation under which both countries agreed to exchange classified information to develop their respective nuclear weapon systems. 

The treaty permits “the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons; nuclear technology and controlled nuclear information; material and equipment for the development of defence plans; training of personnel; evaluation of potential enemy capability; development of delivery systems; and the research, development, and design of military reactors.”
The MDA was last amended in 2014. In 2018, officials from the UK and US met to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the MDA. The official statement from the US State Department referred to “promoting peace to fighting terrorism” and “advancing each nations’ mutual understanding of the safety, security, and reliability of their respective nuclear weapon stockpiles,” while making no mention of the direct transfers of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems (missiles) currently deployed on British Trident submarines.

The MDA only came about after the UK developed its own thermonuclear weapons, and the US then agreed to supply delivery systems, and designs and nuclear material for British warheads. Both countries’ ballistic missile submarines are commonly referred to as “Trident” due to the missiles they both carry, which are the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aerospace, a US-based corporation.

The UK leases the Trident missiles, deployed on its four Trident submarines, from the US government. Those submarines return regularly to the US Trident submarine base in King’s Bay, Georgia, for the maintenance and replacement of the missiles. As of 2017, the UK paid an annual contribution of approximately $16.7 million towards the operations cost of Kings Bay. 

Both the Trident missile’s navigation and guidance systems are the same on both US and UK versions, and utilize US software. The US Navy supplies weather and gravity data to both US and UK submarines, which is vital to ensuring missile accuracy. Both hardware and software for the fire control system (used to assign targets to warheads) are produced by US companies. The hardware is produced by General Dynamics, a US-based corporation. 

All test launches of Trident missiles from British Trident submarines are conducted off the Florida coast and under US supervision. The test data is analyzed by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at Johns Hopkins University and by the Charles Stark Draper Laboratories.

The UK’s warheads are what the UK calls “Holbrook”, and are mounted on Trident II D5 missiles carried on British Vanguard-class “Trident” nuclear submarines. The “Holbrook” thermonuclear warhead is nearly identical to the US W76 warhead deployed on those same Trident II D5 missiles on US OHIO-class “Trident” submarines. Is this a case of plagiarism or just an all-too cozy, mutually beneficial relationship between two nuclear-armed nations?

According to the British government, their nuclear warheads are designed, manufactured and maintained by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the UK. AWE has been managed since 2000 by AWE Management, of which US-based Lockheed Martin Corporation is a partner, holding a 51 percent stake in the operation. It was announced in late 2020 that the British government will regain direct control of operations and development of AWE as of June 2021. 

A UK Ministry of Defence fact sheet states that their warheads are “designed and manufactured in the U.K.” However, a declassified U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) document obtained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) under the Freedom of Information Act directly links the warhead designs on U.S. and U.K. Trident missiles. Alas, the British nuclear warheads are not so British (if at all)……………

Looking into the future, both the US and UK are engaged in programs to build the next generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace their current fleets. Both new subs will incorporate the US-built Common Missile Compartment. There has been talk about a replacement missile for the D5, and a new warhead called the W93 is already being planned, and the British government is engaged in extensive lobbying for it.

The evidence is abundantly clear. The British Trident system is dependent on and, in many ways controlled by, the US in essentially every aspect. It is by no means an “independent nuclear deterrent,” even if you believe in deterrence theory. And this has deeply important meaning under international legal norms.

Article I of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which the US and UK are both signatories, explicitly prohibits the “transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly…” Under international law the NPT should take precedence over the the US-UK mutual defence agreement, and therefore the agreement would be in violation of the NPT. 

The US and UK have, for decades, undermined both the letter and intent of the NPT through their special nuclear relationship. They have found ways to make their nuclear arsenals more effective and continue to modernize in the name of deterrence and national security. And now, the UK has announced an increase in its nuclear warhead cap. While the UN and a number of countries have chimed in with grave concerns about the UK’s announcement, the US has been noticeably silent. Might the US be pondering such an increase? After all, aren’t treaties meant to be broken (as we saw in the prior US administration)?

sn’t it time to end the special nuclear relationship? Isn’t it time to re-think “deterrence” theory and “national security”? Isn’t it time to recognize that so long as nuclear weapons exist, humanity teeters on the brink of disaster?

And speaking of history, we need to learn the lessons of the past. We have come close to the nuclear precipice far too many times, and the (Doomsday) clock is still ticking. We can’t stop the Clock until we abolish nuclear weapons. Empires come and empires go, yet humanity has only one chance. As for the US and UK, it is time for citizens of both nations to come together to pressure our governments to end the special nuclear relationship, and sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, showing real leadership towards a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation.


Leonard Eiger is a student and practitioner of nonviolence, working for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. He coordinates media and outreach for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and the NO To NEW TRIDENT Campaign.

Headline photo by Nicholas Raymond/Creative Commons/www.freestock.ca     https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/05/30/the-usa-uk-nuclear-cabal/

May 31, 2021 Posted by | Legal, politics international, Reference, UK, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the war industry captures government (extract from A People’s Guide to the War Industry )

A People’s Guide to the War Industry -2: Profits & Deception  Consortium News, May 26, 2021   Christian Sorensen ”…………….Capitalists running the war industry utilize a five-step strategy to capture government:

  • Pull retiring military officers into war corporations
  • Stack the deck by placing ex-industry officials in the Pentagon’s leadership
  • Finance congressional campaigns
  • Lobby creatively and expansively
  • Fund think tanks & corporate media

War corporations recruit retired high-ranking military officers. War corporations use these eager retirees to open doors, influence policy, and increase sales. Generals and admirals retire from the U.S. Armed Forces and then join war corporations where they set to work converting their knowledge (about the acquisition process, senior military and civilian leaders, long-term military policy, and how the Pentagon works) and connections into profit.

Corporate jobs for these retired officers include manager, vice president, lobbyist, consultant, and director. Only a small number of 3- and 4-star officers declines this systemic corruption. War corporations have plenty to pull from, as there are more generals and admirals in uniform today in 2021 than there were at the end of World War II. Mere issuance of a bulletin announcing the hiring of a former high-ranking general or admiral often leads to a boost in stock price.

U.S. military officers benefit professionally and financially from implementing MIC aggression. There is no downside for high-ranking officers who support nonstop war. They’ll soon retire with full benefits, and likely go work for a war corporation. Officers who make it to the highest military ranks are very good at conforming to the system.

These officers support nonstop wars of choice and broad military deployments, and defer to pro-war pretexts and jargon coming from industry think tanks and pressure groups. They judge military activity in terms of numbers (dollars spent, weapons purchased, bases active, troops deployed) instead of clear soldierly goals.

Many officers are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the needs of a war corporation and the needs of a professional uniformed military. These U.S. military officers don’t see war corporations; they see a total force in which military and industry work together. An officer who dissents in a forceful manner risks their career. As the MIC crafts pretexts to justify its own existence and expansion, officers who go against the system from the inside are isolated, shed, or spit out.

Reality is difficult to stomach: There is an absolute dearth of class consciousness and moral courage within the Pentagon. The upper ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces are rife with a caliber of officer predisposed to seek out profit and reward upon retirement.


Executives move smoothly from corporations to the Pentagon, particularly the sundry civilian offices (secretary, deputy secretary, and assistant deputy secretary). These men and women who run the Pentagon have been raised in an environment of profiteering; they are steeped in corporate thought; their allegiance is to corporate success. They bring with them their industry contacts and an exploitative ideology. They turn to corporate products when presented with a military problem. They benefit professionally and financially.

Industry executives, the most rapacious of the capitalist class, enter “public service” and influence programs and policies. This invariably boosts the profits of former industry employers, who, thenceforth, capture and direct more of the U.S. military establishment. (Such actions, profit invested to make more profit, is money functioning as capital.)

Giant corporations finance the campaigns of people running for congressional office. Those people, once in office, help out the corporations. Washington is so corrupt that they’ve basically legalized this process — they’ve legalized bribery. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that limits on election spending are unconstitutional; in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the Supreme Court distorted the First Amendment’s free speech clause, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political contributions; and in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014), the Supreme Court got rid of limits on the total number of political contributions one can give over a two-year period.

We are told that the Supreme Court defends liberty and provides a check against the executive and legislative branches, however, the function of the Court, as its rulings demonstrate, is to abet corporate authority and financial interest in line with what the Executive and Legislative branches pursue.

The war industry targets both houses of Congress, particularly elected officials on relevant committees (Armed Services, Appropriations, Intelligence, Foreign Relations). The war industry finances many political action committees, or PACs. These are tax-exempt organizations that aggregate donations to fund political campaigns or influence federal elections. Super PACs (a.k.a. independent expenditure-only committees) allow unlimited contributions. Funding congressional campaigns directly impacts the way U.S. elected officials vote.

Politicians and their war industry bosses are proficient at claiming the “defense” industry creates jobs. Take caution when a war corporation throws the word “jobs” around. Many of these jobs are part-time, temporary, or menial (e.g. painter, welder, roustabout), parsed out to an increasingly desperate workforce. Some are construction jobs that vanish in a year or so. Working-class jobs in the war industry are often in difficult conditions.

Industry jobs that pay very well typically require advanced degrees, which the majority of the population does not have. Furthermore, some jobs are non-U.S. jobs (e.g. microchips manufactured overseas). Other jobs are induced (e.g. the mom making less-than-minimum wage on a ridesharing app driving an industry executive from work to a pub, or the waiter at a St. Louis restaurant where a missile engineer dines). Industry inflates job tallies. The goal is to confine the congressional side of the MIC, which cites the inflated jobs numbers and goes along for the ride.

The claim that the “defense” industry brings jobs is a stale public relations ploy. It hides the truth: Spending on healthcare, education, or clean energy creates more jobs than spending on the military.

The war industry can inflate job numbers because there is no accountability coming from Washington: Capitol Hill is largely content letting Corporate America police itself. Readers are likely familiar with cases where corporations get to inspect their own product (e.g. the airline industry, the pork industry) instead of external government inspectors doing the job.

Corporations policing corporations is rampant in the war industry, like when the advertising agency GSD&M measures the effectiveness of its own efforts at recruiting working class youth into the military. Sometimes one corporation polices part of industry, like when Calibre Systems conducts “cost and economic analysis of major weapons system programs and associated acquisition/financial management policies and procedures.” ………  https://consortiumnews.com/2021/05/26/a-peoples-guide-to-the-war-industry-2-profits-deception/

May 29, 2021 Posted by | politics, Reference, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment