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Middle East has 80 nuclear weapons, and they’re all owned by Israel

All 80 nuclear warheads in Mideast owned by Israel: Zarif  http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/424573/All-80-nuclear-warheads-in-Mideast-owned-by-Israel-ZarifJune 19, 2018  

TEHRAN – Referring to recent statistics released by a Stockholm-based research institute, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said all proven nuclear warheads stationed in the Middle East are entirely owned by the Zionist regime of Israel.

In a message in his Twitter account, Zarif denounced the Israeli regime for “howling incessantly” about Iran’s activities, while the regime itself owns all the 80 nuclear warheads in the Middle East.

“There are at least 80 nuclear warheads stationed in the Middle East. None are in Iran; rather, they’re at the fingertips of a warmonger who howls incessantly about fabricated Iranian ‘ambitions’,” Zarif said.

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June 20, 2018 Posted by | Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump pledges Israel that he’ll ignore their nuclear weapons

Report: Trump pledges not to pressure Israel on nuclear issue

http://www.israelhayom.com/2018/06/19/report-trump-pledges-not-to-pressure-israel-on-nuclear-issue/?platform=hootsuite

Donald Trump becomes fourth U.S. president to sign letter saying U.S. will not pressure Israel to forfeit its rumored nuclear capabilities, New Yorker reports • Obama aides failed to brief Trump officials on letter during transition, report says.

Israel Hayom StaffIsrael has managed to secure a written pledge from four successive U.S. presidents to safeguard its presumed nuclear deterrent, The New Yorker magazine reported on Monday.

According to uncorroborated reports in the foreign media, Israel has as many as 200 nuclear warheads as part of a presumed military nuclear program dating back to the 1960s. Israel has never publicly acknowledged these reports.

Israel has also pledged not to be the first nation to introduce nuclear weapons in the region.

According to Monday’s report, in the wake of the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, Israel felt that the unwritten understanding struck between President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Golda Meir in the early 1970s to ensure Israel would never be compelled to denuclearize was insufficient.

Eventually, Israeli policymakers convinced President Bill Clinton to put the Nixon-Meir understandings into writing.

“The first iteration of the secret letter was drafted during the Clinton administration as part of an agreement for Israel’s participation in the 1998 Wye River negotiations with the Palestinians,” said the report, by The New Yorker’s Adam Entous.

“In the letter, according to former officials, President Bill Clinton assured the Jewish state that no future American arms-control initiative would detract from Israel’s deterrent capabilities, an oblique but clear reference to its [alleged] nuclear arsenal.”

The letter was later signed by President George W. Bush. But when President  Barack Obama won office in 2008, Israel was concerned he would hold off on renewing the pledge.

“With Obama, we were all crazy,” an Israeli official was quoted in the report. A former U.S. official is quoted as saying that Obama’s advisers believed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “paranoid” that the U.S. would try to take away Israel’s presumed nuclear weapons, but that “wasn’t our intent.”

Ultimately, Obama signed “an updated version of the letter.”

According to the report, efforts to renew the pledge when President Donald Trump assumed office initially stalled, when Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer made the request in a surprise move in February 2017. When he came to the White House, the Trump officials said they needed more time, but the Israelis “wanted to limit who could take part in discussions of the letter, citing the need for secrecy.”

According to the report, part of the tensions then arose because the White House was not aware of the letters.

“The very existence of the letters had been a closely held secret. Only a select group of senior American officials, in three previous administrations, knew of the letters,” the report said.

When Trump became president, his aides “didn’t find any copies of the previous letters left behind by their predecessors. The documents had been sent to the archives.”

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Israel, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry warn on cancers due to radioactive waste in Coldwater Creek, St Louis County

Radioactive waste in Coldwater Creek increases cancer risk, says federal report, St Louis Public Radio,  • JUN 18, 2018, 

A federal government agency has concluded radioactive contamination in a north St. Louis County creek could cause increased risk of certain types of cancer in residents who live near the north St. Louis County waterway.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s public health assessment, released Monday, states that residents who were exposed to the area around Coldwater Creek had a higher risk of exposure to radioactive contaminants, and thus a higher risk of bone cancer, lung cancer or leukemia. The federal organization is also calling for the public to comment and add to the report through Aug. 31.

Advocates for residents near Coldwater Creek were pleased to hear representatives of a federal agency acknowledge what they have long suspected.

“What they’re saying [is] they confirm our exposure could be linked to our cancer and our illnesses,” community activist Kim Visintine said.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry assesses the risk of hazardous waste sites, among other tasks. It’s part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta.

Radioactive waste generated by the Mallinckrodt Company from work on the

Manhattan Project was stored in an open site close to the creek. Over years, that waste migrated into the dirt in the Coldwater Creek bed. A report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found an increased rate of certain types of cancer in the area around the creek.

According to the federal agency’s report, the highest risk for exposure is in children and adults who lived near the creek in 1960s through the 1990s.

“Our evaluation did find an increased risk of some cancer, especially for the past exposures, people who grew up in the area and played very often or frequently in or near the creek,” said Jill Dykin, an environmental health scientist for the agency.

Dykin added the report can’t link individual people’s health problems with exposures, just draw a connection to the risk.

For Visintine, that’s enough. The former north St. Louis County resident and the co-founder of the group Coldwater Creek – Just the Facts said the report confirms years of suspicions.

“It’s one thing for a group of citizens to say there’s an issue, and another thing to actually receive government validation,” Visintine said

She said the federal acknowledgement could pave the way for residents to receive relief from the government through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which provides compensation to people whose cancers can be linked to nuclear weapons tests.

“The big thing you’re now eligible for these grants and funds for your community screening clinics, for insurance,” Visintine said. “To even get to that point, to pursue legislation, you have to have the CDC acknowledge there was exposure.

“It’s a big long process and we’ve come a long way but we sure have a long way to go.”

…. ….Representatives of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will visit St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Florissant on June 27 and 28 to answer questions and elicit feedback on the report and will hopefully receive more information to add to its findings.“We’ve been working with the community and some community leaders through our entire process,” Dykin said. “We actually based a lot if the assumptions we made for how frequently and how long kids played in and along Coldwater Creek on information we got from the community.”

Follow Sarah on Twitter: @petit_smudge  http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/radioactive-waste-coldwater-creek-increases-cancer-risk-says-federal-report#stream/0

June 20, 2018 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Why Japan should disconnect from fast-breeder reactor project – The Asahi Shimbun

EDITORIAL: Japan should disconnect from fast-breeder reactor project http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201806180025.html, June 18, 2018

France has decided to sharply scale down its ASTRID fast-reactor project, which is supported by Japan.

France’s decision underscores afresh the dismal outlook of Japan’s plan to continue the development of fast-reactor technology by relying on an overseas project.

Now that it has become unclear whether participation in the ASTRID project will pay off in future benefits that justify the huge investment required, Japan should pull out of the French undertaking.

Fast reactors are a special type of nuclear reactors that burn plutonium as fuel. The ASTRID is a demonstration reactor, the stage in reactor technology development just before practical use.

The French government has said the Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration, if it comes on stream, will generate 100 to 200 megawatts of electricity instead of 600 megawatts as originally planned. Paris will decide in 2024 whether the reactor will actually be built.

Japan has been seeking to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system, in which spent nuclear fuel from reactors will be reprocessed to extract plutonium, which will then be burned mainly in fast reactors.

When the Japanese government in 2016 pulled the plug on the troubled Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, which was at the technology stage prior to that of a demonstration reactor, it decided to make the joint development of the ASTRID the centerpiece of its plan to continue the nuclear fuel recycling program.

The government will provide some 5 billion yen ($45.2 million) annually for the French project through the next fiscal year, which starts in April, and decide, by the end of this year, whether and how it will be involved in the project after that.

Because of significant differences in the roles of prototype and demonstration reactors, a simple comparison between the Monju and the ASTRID can be misleading.

But it is clearly doubtful whether the ASTRID, which will be smaller than the Monju, will offer sufficient benefits for Japan’s fuel recycling program.

If it fully commits itself to the joint development of the ASTRID in response to France’s request, Japan will have to shoulder half the construction cost, estimated to be hundreds of billions to 1 trillion yen, and assign many engineers to the project. But these resources could end up being wasted.

Over the years, the government spent more than 1.1 trillion yen of taxpayer money on the Monju, designed to be a small-scale example of the potential of the fast-breeder reactor technology. But the prototype reactor remained out of operation for most of the two decades after it became operational. It actually accomplished only a small fraction of what it was designed to achieve.

The government should make an early decision to end its involvement in the ASTRID to avoid repeating the mistake it made with the Monju project, which was kept alive at massive cost for far too long as the decision to terminate it was delayed for years without good reason.

The government has only itself to blame for the current situation. Despite deciding to decommission the Monju, it stuck to the old fuel cycle policy without conducting an effective postmortem on the Monju debacle. Instead, the government too readily embraced the ASTRID project as a stopgap to keep its fast-reactor dream alive.

The government needs to rigorously assess whether it is wise to continue developing fast-reactor technology.

Producing electricity with a fast reactor is costlier than power generation with a conventional reactor that uses uranium as fuel. The United States, Britain and Germany phased out their own fast-reactor projects long ago.

France has continued developing the technology, but feels no urgent need to achieve the goal. The country predicts that the technology will be put to practical use around 2080 if it ever is.

Even if Japan wants to continue developing fast-reactor technology, it would be extremely difficult to build a demonstration reactor for the project within the country given that even finding a site to build an ordinary reactor is now virtually impossible.

The government would be utterly irresponsible if it aimlessly keeps pouring huge amounts of money into the project when there is no realistic possibility of the technology reaching the stage of practical application.

If it abandons the plan to develop fast-reactor technology, the government will have to rethink the entire nuclear fuel recycling program.

Any such fundamental change of the nuclear power policy would have serious implications. But there is no justification for postponing the decision any further.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Blowback Over Japanese Plan to Reuse Radioactive Soil From Fukushima

 http://www.legitgov.org/Blowback-Over-Japanese-Plan-Reuse-Radioactive-Soil-Fukushima

Mon, 18/06/2018   Blowback Over Japanese Plan to Reuse Radioactive Soil From Fukushima | 14 June 2018 | Japan’s plan to reuse soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant accident for agriculture is sparking something of its own nuclear reaction. Residents and other critics don’t want any part of it. “Pollutants contained in crops will surely pollute air, water and soil, thereby contaminating food to be consumed by human beings,” Kazuki Kumamoto, professor emeritus at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo told Bloomberg Environment. Contaminated crops “could trigger the release of radiation.” …The international agency standard is 100 becquerel, a measure of radioactivity, per kilogram. Japan revised its limit to 8,000 becquerel per kilogram for nuclear waste and soil, exempting a greater amount of contaminated soil from strict treatment requirements and allowing it to be reused for public works projects and agricultural land.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Radioactive Pollution At Los Angeles Jewish Camp

Scientists Concerned About Radioactive Pollution At Los Angeles Jewish Camp https://forward.com/fast-forward/403091/scientists-concerned-about-radioactive-pollution-at-los-angeles-jewish/  

Four nationally known scientists are recommending new testing at a popular Los Angeles-area Jewish camp to determine if contaminants at a nearby former nuclear testing site have posed health risks to past and current campers, NBC Los Angeles reported.

The scientists independently reached that conclusion after reviewing various reports of past testing at Camp Alonim and the land it sits on, the Brandeis-Bardin campus, owned by the American Jewish University. The camp is located just below Santa Susana Field Laboratory, which for decades hosted rocket and experimental nuclear reactor testing. The laboratory has long been closed but is still awaiting a full cleanup, according to NBC. Both AJU and state toxics regulators say the land is safe.

“If you looked at this historically and said, ‘Could being at the camp have led to radiation exposure’ the answer is yes,” said Dr. Jonathan Samet, an internationally known radiation expert and dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, one of the scientists interviewed.

Among the key findings from the two-year investigation are that the test results cited by the camp and state regulators are either too old or too inconclusive to definitely say whether children are safe from contamination from the Field Lab. The article also claimed a 2016 study paid for by the camp’s owner, to investigate concerns about contamination, is flawed. AJU also says the camp has no history of growing food for children to eat in the potentially toxic soil, a claim challenged by past staff.

The article originally was planned to appear in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, but according to NBC, the Jewish Journal’s new publisher declined to publish the story.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

 

June 20, 2018 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

‘Vague assurances’ to Ireland on post-Brexit nuclear safety ‘not worth much’

‘Vague assurances’ on post-Brexit nuclear safety ‘not worth much’

Fianna Fáil expresses concerns about Britain’s capacity to maintain standards, Brian Hutton 

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Ireland, politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Australian uranium company Paladin Energy has left such a mess in Namibia and Malawi

Who cleans up the mess when an Australian uranium mining company leaves Africa?Jim Green, 18 June 2018, The Ecologist   www.theecologist.org/2018/jun/18/who-cleans-mess-when-australian-uranium-mining-company-leaves-africa

Australian mining companies have a poor track record operating in Africa. Australian uranium company Paladin Energy has now put two of its mines into ‘care-and-maintenance’ and bankruptcy looms. But who cleans up the company’s mess in Namibia and Malawi, asks JIM GREEN

Many Australian mining projects in Africa are outposts of good governance – this is what Julie Bishop, the country’s Foreign Minister, told the Africa Down Under mining conference in Western Australia in September 2017. The Australian government “encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons-learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration,” the minister said.

But such claims sit uneasily with the highly critical findings arising from a detailed investigation by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ noted in a 2015 report that since 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian mining companies in Africa.

The ICIJ report further stated: “Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.”

Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi provides a case study of the problems with Australian mining companies in Africa. Western Australia-based Paladin exploited Malawi’s poverty to secure numerous reductions and exemptions from payments normally required by foreign investors.

United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter noted in a 2013 report that “revenue losses from special incentives given to Australian mining company Paladin Energy, which manages the Kayelekera uranium mine, are estimated to amount to at least US$205 million (MWK 67 billion) and could be up to US$281 million (MWK 92 billion) over the 13-year lifespan of the mine.”

Paladin’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of numerous critical reports

Standards at Kayelekera fall a long way short of Australian standards ‒ and efforts to force Australian mining companies to meet Australian standards when operating abroad have been strongly resisted. The Kayelekera project would not be approved in Australia due to major flaws in the assessment and design proposals, independent consultants concluded.

Care-and-maintenance

Kayelekera was put into care-and-maintenance in May 2014, another victim of the uranium industry’s post-Fukushima meltdown. And just last month, Paladin announced that its only other operating mine ‒ the Langer Heinrich mine (LHM) in Namibia ‒ will be put into care-and-maintenance.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the decision to mothball LHM is that Paladin claims it is the lowest cost open-pit uranium mine in the world. Moreover, the company wasn’t even paying to mine ore ‒ mining ceased in November 2016 and since then ore stockpiles have been processed. Thus a low-cost mine can’t even turn a profit processing mined stockpiles.

The cost of production was US$23.11 / lb uranium oxide in December 2017, and the average realised sale price in the second half of 2017 was $21.82.

Anticipating the decision to mothball LHM, Paladin Energy CEO Alex Molyneux said in late-April: “The uranium market has failed to recover since the Fukushima incident in 2011, with the average spot price so far in 2018 the lowest in 15 years. It’s deeply distressing to have to consider suspending operations at LHM because of the consequences for our employees, and the broader community. However, as there has yet to be a sustainable recovery in the uranium market, and with the aim of preserving maximum long-term value for all stakeholders, it is clearly prudent to consider these difficult actions.”

Paladin hopes to resume mining at LHM and Kayelekera following “normalization” of the uranium market, which it anticipates in the next few years. But with no operating mines, Paladin may not survive for long enough to witness a market upswing.

Paladin was placed into the hands of administrators in July 2017 as it was unable to pay French utility EDF a US$277 million debt.

In January 2018, Paladin’s administrator KPMG noted that an Independent Expert’s Report found that the company’s net debt materially exceeds the value of its assets, its shares have nil value, and if Paladin was placed into liquidation there would be no return to shareholders.

The company was restructured, with Deutsche Bank now the largest shareholder, and relisted on the Australian Securities Exchange in February 2018.

Perhaps LHM will be sold for a song, either before or after Paladin goes bankrupt. A subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has held a 25 percent stake in LHM since January 2014. Last year, the CNNC subsidiary considered exercising its contractual right to buy Paladin’s 75 percent stake in LHM, but chose not to exercise that right following an independent valuation of US$162 million for Paladin’s stake.

Mine-site rehabilitation 

Paladin hopes to resume mining following “normalization” of the uranium market ‒ but low prices could be the new normal. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd said in May 2014 that the industry is set for “a long period of relatively low prices”. Prices were far higher in 2014 than over the past twelve months. Paladin’s CEO Alexander Molyneux said that “it has never been a worse time for uranium miners” in 2016 and the situation has worsened since then for the industry ‒ prices have fallen further still.

Sooner or later ‒ probably sooner ‒ both the LHM and Kayelekera mine-sites will need to be rehabilitated. Yet it is extremely doubtful whether Paladin has set aside adequate funds for rehabilitation. Paladin’s 2017 Annual Report lists a ‘rehabilitation provision‘ of US$86.93 million to cover both LHM and Kayelekera.

One problem is that the funds might not be available for rehabilitation if Paladin goes bankrupt. A second problem is that even if the funds are available, they are unlikely to be sufficient.

For comparison, Energy Resources of Australia’s provision for rehabilitation of the Ranger uranium mine in Australia ‒ also an open-pit uranium mine, like LHM and Kayelekera ‒ is US$403 million (A$526 million). That figure is additional to US$346 million (A$452 million) already spent on water and rehabilitation activities since 2012 ‒ thus total rehabilitation costs could amount to US$749 million (A$978 million) … and the current cost estimates could easily increase as they have in the past.

Rehabilitation of LHM and Kayelekera could be cheaper than rehabilitation of Ranger for several reasons, such as the relative size of the mine-sites. However it stretches credulity to believe that the cost of rehabilitating both LHM and Kayelekera would be an order of magnitude lower than the cost of rehabilitating one mine in Australia.

Paladin was required to lodge a US$10 million Environmental Performance Bond with Malawian banks and presumably that money can be tapped to rehabilitate Kayelekera. But US$10 million won’t scratch the surface. According to a Malawian NGO, the Kayelekera rehabilitation cost is estimated at US$100 million.

Paladin has ignored repeated requests to provide information on the estimated cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera (and also ignored an invitation to comment on a draft of this article), but the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond and it is extremely unlikely that Paladin’s provision of US$86.93 million for the rehabilitation of both LHM and Kayelekera is adequate.

If Paladin goes bankrupt, it seems likely that most of the costs associated with the rehabilitation of LHM and Kayelekera will be borne by the Namibian and Malawian governments (with a small fraction of the cost for Kayelekera coming from the bond) ‒ or the mine-sites will not be rehabilitated at all.

Even if Paladin is able to honour its US$86.93 million provision, additional costs necessary for rehabilitation will likely come from the Malawian and Namibian governments, or rehabilitation will be sub-standard.

Problems most acute for Kayelekera

The problem of inadequate provisioning for rehabilitation is most acute for Kayelekera ‒ it is a smaller deposit than LHM and more expensive to mine (Paladin has said that a uranium price of about US$75 per pound would be required for Kayelekera to become economically viable ‒well over twice the current long-term contract price). Thus the prospects for a restart of Kayelekera (and the accumulation of funds for rehabilitation) are especially grim.

Is it reasonable for Australia, a relatively wealthy country, to leave it to the overstretched, under-resourced government of an impoverished nation to clean up the mess left behind by an Australian mining company? Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to a 2013 UN report, more than half of the population live below the poverty line.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should intervene to sort out the situation at Kayelekera and to prevent a repetition of this looming fiasco. The conservative Minister’s eyes might glaze over in response to a moral argument about the importance of Australia being a good global citizen. But there is also a hard-headed commercial argument for intervention to ensure that the Kayelekera mine-site is rehabilitated.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government.

Australia is set to become the biggest international miner on the African continent according to the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group. But Australian companies can’t expect to be welcomed if problems such as Kayelekera remain unresolved.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter, where a version of this article was originally published. He is co-author of a new report titled ‘Undermining Africa: Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Malawi’.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malawi, Namibia, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Trump’s plan for new low-yield nuclear weapon – superfluous and dangeroud

Trump Wants a New Low-Yield Nuclear Weapon. But the US Has Plenty Already. UCS 

ERYN MACDONALD, ANALYST | JUNE 18, 2018, The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), released in February of this year, calls attention to the composition of the US nuclear arsenal and its adequacy as a deterrent. The NPRcalls for a new lower-yield submarine-launched nuclear warhead, arguing that it is needed to “counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable ‘gap’ in U.S. regional deterrence capabilities.” We decided to put together the chart in Fig. 1 to illustrate the range of nuclear weapons alreadyavailable in the US arsenal.

One thing that this visual immediately makes clear is that it would be difficult to perceive any real gap in US capabilities—the existing arsenal certainly does not lack for nuclear options for any occasion……….Labeling such deadly and destructive weapons “low-yield” may give leaders the dangerous impression that using them is not as serious as using a nuclear weapon with a larger yield, and that their use would not lead to full-scale nuclear war. But in reality, no one knows what would happen if a nuclear weapon—of any size—were once again used in war. As Defense Secretary James Mattis has said,

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Any nuclear weapon used at any time is a strategic game changer.”

The administration’s choice of language in the NPR rationale for the new warhead is also interesting. It does not argue that such a gap actually exists, but that it is concerned that an adversary might mistakenly perceive one. While perceptions are always an important consideration in deterrence, it’s useful to keep in mind the fact that 1) we don’t actually know what our adversaries are thinking, and we’ve been dangerously wrong in past guesses; and 2) trying to ensure that no country could ever possibly perceive that it might have any type of military advantage is how arms races happen. Most relevant in the current situation, it is how the US and Soviet Union ended the Cold War with arsenals of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons each. This type of thinking is not about deterrence, but about “escalation dominance” and “nuclear warfighting,” both of which are even more unstable and dangerous.

Recognition of the particular dangers of low-yield nuclear weapons has, until recently, been widespread and bipartisan among US military and political leaders. Over the past several decades, the United States has eliminated much of its arsenal of low-yield nuclear weapons for this and other reasons. The Trump administration’s new move to develop more of these weapons is a step in the wrong direction that is both unnecessary and dangerous. https://allthingsnuclear.org/emacdonald/trump-wants-a-new-low-yield-nuclear-weapon

June 20, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A political problem for US Republicans – conservatives hate Trump’s coal and nuclear bailout

Lots of conservatives hate Trump’s coal and nuclear bailout — that’s a big political problem, The Hill, Conservative opposition to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has dominated headlines — losing stalwarts like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Laura Ingraham stings. However, the Trump administration’s bigger political problem among conservatives could be its controversial proposal to spend billions on a coal and nuclear bailout.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

New Zealand’s Antarctic veterans are advised on effects of their exposure to nuclear radiation

New Zealand warns its Antarctic veterans about radiation risks from leaky US Navy reactor  https://www.stripes.com/news/new-zealand-warns-its-antarctic-veterans-about-radiation-risks-from-leaky-us-navy-reactor-1.533546  By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES  June 19, 2018

The New Zealand government is warning personnel who worked in Antarctica in the 1960s and ‘70s about radiation from a leaky U.S. Navy reactor.

Alerts were posted online by the New Zealand Defence ForceAntarctica New Zealand and other government entities in January and reported by local media last month.

They advise people to contact the New Zealand Office of Radiation Safety or their doctor if they think they may have been exposed to radiation from the reactor used to power McMurdo Station, Antarctica, from 1962 to 1979.

The U.S. Department of Defense has assessed the risk of radiation exposure for those who worked near the power plant as low.

However, the Department of Veterans Affairs ruled in November that retired Navy veteran James Landy’s “esophageal, stomach, liver, and brain and spine cancers, [were] incurred in active duty service.”

Landy worked at McMurdo as a C-130 flight engineer from 1970 to 1974 and from 1977 to 1981 before dying at age 63 in 2012, said his widow, Pam Landy.

He had pain in his kidneys and went to the doctor and they sent him to an oncologist who said he had cancer from radiation exposure,” she said in a phone interview Monday from her home in Pensacola, Fla.

Veterans who served in Antarctica should have been warned about the radiation risk, Pam Landy said.

“The government knew that thing was there. If they had given people a heads up he could have been diagnosed early and might have a shot at being alive,” she said. “I got a payout from the VA, but it’s a pittance compared to a life.”

The McMurdo reactor had many malfunctions, but personnel might also have been exposed during its decommissioning when soil and rock from the site was trucked through the base to be shipped off the continent, she said.

Peter Breen, 64, was a New Zealand Army mechanic about 2 miles from McMurdo at Scott Base from 1981 to 1982. Rock and soil from the reactor site was taken to a wharf in open trucks, and Breen fears he could have been exposed to contaminated dust blown by the wind or on ice harvested from nearby cliffs.

He’s campaigning for New Zealand Antarctic veterans to be recognized with a medal and offered health checks.

“It is not compensation that guys are after,” he said in a phone interview from his home in Tauranga, New Zealand. “They want a health-check program.”

robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1

June 20, 2018 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Julian Assange’s 6 years of confinement in Ecuadorian Embassy in London

2,192 Days of Confinement: Assange’s 6 Years in Ecuadorian Embassy in Numbers, https://sputniknews.com/europe/201806191065516777-assange-6-years-embassy-london/  

June 19 marks six years since the founder of WikiLeaks entered the building of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He hasn’t stepped foot outside it since.

Julian Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge while facing sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

981 days have passed since the Metropolitan police removed dedicated 24/7 guards from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy on October 12, 2015.

“Like all public services, MPS resources are finite. With so many different criminal, and other, threats to the city it protects, the current deployment of officers is no longer believed proportionate,” a statement by the Met police said.

865 days since the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) ruled in a majority decision that Assange was being detained inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London arbitrarily and was allowed to leave.

READ MORE: UN Ruling on Assange’s Illegal Detention Explained

396 days since the allegations were dropped by Swedish prosecutors, but the Wikileaks founder would still get arrested if he left the embassy’s premises — by the UK police — for failing to surrender to the court in 2012.

158 days since Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship and subsequently the UK was asked to recognize the whistleblower as a diplomatic agent. Had the British agreed — it would have given Assange immunity to finally leave the embassy.

However, the UK refused the request, meaning he remains confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, which has been found “dangerous physically and mentally” and “a clear infringement of his human right to healthcare.”

83 days since the whistleblower’s access to the Internet was cut off “in order to prevent any potential harm.”

“The government of Ecuador has suspended the systems that allows Julian Assange to communicate with the world outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London… The measure was adopted due to Assange not complying with a written promise which he made with the government in late 2017, whereby he was obliged not to send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states,” the government of Ecuador said in a statement.

Julian Assange fears extradition to the United States to be prosecuted for espionage after his website leaked classified US data.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

How Netanyahu Got Trump to Sign Off on Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal Amid the Flynn Scandal,

Trump became the fourth U.S. president to uphold the decades-long pledge not to press Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, The New Yorker reports,  Haaretz 19 June 18,  

Israel wants to keep aging Dimona nuclear reactor operating until 2040, when it will be 80

How Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was concealed from the U.S………https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/how-bibi-got-trump-to-sign-off-on-israel-s-nuclear-arsenal-1.6192718

June 20, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

European Commission gives environmental approval to planned Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant

Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant gets EU environmental backing BBC News, 19 June 18

The planned Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant on Anglesey has been granted environmental approval by the European Commission.

Developer Horizon has been given a “positive” opinion by the commission.

The ruling means it was considered that it would not have health or environmental impacts on other member states.

Horizon will now need approval from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and ultimately the UK Government.

The commission assessed that the application fully complied with European safety standards covering routine operations, decommissioning and spent fuel storage as well as the possibility of accidental release.

Horizon CEO Duncan Hawthorne said that the approval under Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty added to the “significant momentum” behind the project……..https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-44522730

 

June 20, 2018 Posted by | politics international | Leave a comment

Closure of nuclear power stations will not cause increase in electricity prices

Nuclear power shutdowns won’t spike power prices, Science Daily 

Date:
June 19, 2018
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Despite economic woes that could shutter two of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants — which generate 6 percent of the state’s power — power prices will remain steady due to low natural gas prices, according to an associate professor of energy policy and economics.

Despite economic woes that could shutter two of Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants — which generate 6 percent of the state’s power — power prices will remain steady due to low natural gas prices, according to Seth Blumsack, associate professor of energy policy and economics, Penn State.

Owners of both Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, and Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station, west of Pittsburgh, have cited financial troubles due to historically low electricity prices. Blumsack said rock-bottom power prices are expected to continue for years to come because energy use has plateaued and efficient natural gas power plants — which are nowhere near peak production — have recently come online. That situation is coupled with extremely low natural gas prices.

“There’s just so much extra generation capacity in this region,” Blumsack said. “These nuclear power plants are big, but even if you were to lose these big power plants there’s so much other generation capacity that can produce electricity at costs competitive with the nuclear plants that the market outcomes aren’t going to change and the reliability of the grid won’t be compromised.”

Blumsack studied the impact of the two nuclear power plants coming offline and found wholesale energy prices would rise between 4-10 percent each year over a three-year period if those plants were not replaced. When that lost nuclear capacity is replaced by natural gas, however, wholesale energy prices decline each year by between 9 percent and 24 percent. The more new generation capacity that enters the market, the larger the reduction in wholesale energy costs as long as market prices for natural gas remain low.

The research will be published in an upcoming issue of The Electricity Journal.

Natural gas prices, which are projected to increase only slightly for the next several years, according to the World Bank Natural Gas Price Forecast, would have to increase by 300 percent at Appalachian trading hubs for nuclear power to again be competitive, Blumsack said………

“Overall, electricity demand in the U.S. has not grown in the past decade so you have this combination of no growth in demand and excess power generation capacity,” Blumsack said. “That prompts the market to crash, which causes some players to lose and in this case that appears to be the nuclear power plants.” ….. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180619122409.htm

June 20, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment