The IPPNW World Congress in Basel, Switzerland, (August 25 – August 30, 2010) to also talk about nuclear power.
Nuclear weapons and disarmament are still hitting media headlines. The signing of the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was an important step towards the reduction of global nuclear arsenals. European governments are pushing for a withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from European NATO member countries. Leading politicians of several countries are calling for active and far-reaching reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons in the interests of world security. It was hoped for that the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in May in New York would bring further concrete measures. And although this did not happen the ‘Atomic Scientists’ decided to set back the Doomsday Clock one minute – from 5 minutes to 6 minutes to midnight.
On the other hand, some countries want to keep the prestige of being a nuclear power and some are becoming greatly interested in acquiring such power. Thousands of nuclear missiles still exist – decades after the end of the Cold War – on high alert, ready to be launched at a moment’s notice. Added to this, the interest of powerful companies in the military-industrial complex to continue building nuclear missiles is strongly influential. These companies put forward persuasive arguments for retaining the status quo through the use of intense political lobbying.
“Global Zero” is the desire of many millions of people and is also the vision of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Join them in sharing this vision in August at the 19th IPPNW World Congress in Basel, Switzerland. Traditionally the IPPNW only talks about nuclear weapons. This time their pre-conference programme also touches upon the issue of nuclear energy. Take this opportunity to discuss with them the important role ”civil” nuclear energy plays in increasing proliferation risks.
Check the programme at http://www.ippnw2010.org/
Italy: Regions have no say in siting nuclear reactors.
On June 30, Italy's highest court rejected an appeal by 10 Italian regions to have a say on the location of any nuclear power plants built.
Last July, the right wing majority in the Parliament adopted a law that gives extra power to the government in order to choose sites for new nuclear plants and provides the use of military forces to make its realization possible. On September 30, with the support of environmental organizations, 10 of 20 regions contested that law asking the intervention of the Constitutional Court. According to the regions the law violates the Italian Constitution by giving the government the power to decide without the consensus of local institutions. The June 30 ruling by the Constitutional Court effectively means the central government will have the final say on the site of the plants.
Nuclear power was abandoned in Italy nearly 25 years ago after a referendum in 1987. Enel and France's EDF would like to start building four nuclear power stations in Italy in 2013. Public opinion in Italy has been generally hostile to nuclear energy and local authorities had demanded a say in their approval.
Reuters, 23 June 2010 / Nuclear Monitor 702
On May 12, North Korea claimed its scientists succeeded in creating a nuclear fusion reaction - a technology also necessary to manufacture a hydrogen bomb. South Korean experts doubted the North actually made such a breakthrough. On May 15, however, the atmospheric concentration of xenon - an inert gas released after a nuclear explosion or radioactive leakage from a nuclear power plant - on the South Korean side of the inter-Korean border was found to be eight times higher than normal.
Nuclear fusion as cause for the Xenon-measurement is very unlikely (to say the least). To start with: the alledged fusion breakthrough supposedly took place in mid-April and the half-lives of its radioisotopes are counted in hours or days. So a measurement almost a month later is very unlike. But most important: a fusion reaction doesn’t produce fission products. Radioactive Xe isotopes, besides from a weapons test, can also be produced from operating a fission reactor with cracked fuel rods or from fission occurring in cooling water from released fuel. So possibly the higher levels could have been from built up Xe within a reactor containment vessel from an accident. A Science Ministry official said the wind was blowing from north to south when the xenon was detected and said it could have come from Russia or China, not necessarily from North Korea.
The Associated Press, 21 June 2010 / Armscontrolwonk.com, 21 June 2010
Nuclear projects in Baltic Region.
On June 16, antinuclear activists with protest banners greeted IAEA head Y.Amano and Lithuanian Prime Minister A. Kubilius during their participation in the Roundtable discussion on "Regional nuclear energy projects" in Vilnius, Lithuania. Activists called to cancel development of the three nuclear energy projects in the Baltic region and to switch investments and cooperation to renewables and energy efficiency. Ostrovec nuclear power plant (Belarus), Baltic npp (Russia, Kaliningrad region) and the Visaginas nuclear power plant (Lithuania) are primary targets for the criticism of environmentalists from Lithuania, Belarus and Russia. All these planned nuclear power plants face similar problems: safety, environmental, radioactive waste management, fake plans for investment.Later activists took part in the roundtable discussion as observers. Main issue there was that each country was convincing others how important their nuclear project is for the country and how good for the region. Lithuania was raising doubts about various aspects of Belarussian and Kaliningrad nuclear projects, promoting its own as "more transparent and safer".
Email: Lina Vainius, 17 June 2010
New name for GNEP: INFEC.
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership Steering Group met in Accra, Ghana on June 16-17, 2010 and approved unanimously several transformative changes. This to "reflect global developments that have occurred since the Partnership was established in 2007". The transformation includes a new name - the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (INFEC)-- and the establishment of a new Statement of Mission. One of the main points of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), announced by the United States in 2004, was to limit spread of enrichment (as well as reprocessing) technology. At the core of the strategy was the idea that countries that don't have fuel cycle facilities would refrain from acquiring them and accept the status of "fuel customers". Fuel services would then be provided by "fuel suppliers", who already have the necessary technology. There were doubts about the viability of this strategy from the very beginning.
The IFNEC acronym brings back echoes of the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE) program under the IAEA in the late 1970s. It too was set up on the initiative of the USA and worked on the "urgent need to meet the world's energy requirements," to make nuclear energy more widely available and "to minimize the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation without jeopardizing energy supplies or the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" all with special attention for the needs of developing countries. One interesting difference was the inclusion of Iran as co-chair of INFCE's group on uranium enrichment availability.
Last year in June, the US. Department of Energy (DoE) decided to cancel the GNEP programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) because it is no longer pursuing domestic commercial reprocessing, which was the primary focus of the prior administration's domestic GNEP program. That decision followed a change in government policy on commercial reprocessing since president Obama took over from Bush.
Jordan formally announced that it will host the next meeting of the International Framework's Executive Committee in the fall of 2010. Some 25 countries have joined the GNEP.
Press release US. Department of Energy, 18 June 2010 / World Nuclear News, 21 June 2010 / Nuclear Monitor 691, 16 July 2009
China bends international rules to sell reactors to Pakistan.
China has agreed to sell two nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Under the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s (NSG) guidelines, countries other than China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (the five recognized nuclear weapon states) are not eligible to receive nuclear exports from NSG members unless they agree to inspections known as full-scope safeguards. Pakistan currently does not open all of its nuclear facilities to international inspections.
The US government “has reiterated to the Chinese government that the United States expects Beijing to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese nonproliferation obligations.” Given that the US has signed a major nuclear deal with India – like Pakistan, a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – the move smacks of hypocrisy. The US pushed the IAEA into conceding to country-specific safeguards for India’s reactors, then lobbied for country-specific concessions for India from the NSG. As a result, lucrative nuclear contracts are being signed by India and countries like France, Russia and the UK. As such, when experts cite the violation of the NPT’s international guidelines by the Pakistan-China civilian nuclear deal, the IAEA and NSG concessions to India give this posturing little credibility.
(More on the deal and its consequences: Nuclear Monitor 709, 12 May 2010: "China: US-India deal justification for selling reactors to Pakistan")
The Sunflower (eNewsletter of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation), issue 156, July 2010.
Brazil: Angra 3 To Cost US$ 550 million more.
The overall budget for the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant in Brazil will be around R$ 9.9 billion (US$ 5.06 billion or 4.03 billion euro), according to the manager of Planning and Budgeting of Eletronuclear, Roberto Travassos. The increase of more than R$ 1 billion (US$ 550 million or 438 million euro) over the previous estimate (R$ 8.77 billion/ US$ 4.875 billion), is the result of contract revisions and monetary correction of former estimates.
Global Energy (Brazil), 1 July 2010
Outgoing UN Inspector: dubious role on Iran.
Olli Heinonen, the Finnish nuclear engineer who resigned July 1, after five years as deputy director for safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was the driving force in turning that agency into a mechanism to support U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran. Heinonen was instrumental in making a collection of intelligence documents showing a purported Iranian nuclear weapons research program the central focus of the IAEA’s work on Iran. The result was to shift opinion among Western publics to the view that Iran had been pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program. But his embrace of the intelligence documents provoked a fierce political struggle within the Secretariat of the IAEA, because other officials believed the documents were fraudulent.
Heinonen took over the Safeguards Department in July 2005 – the same month that the George W. Bush administration first briefed top IAEA officials on the intelligence collection. The documents portrayed a purported nuclear weapons research program, originally called the "Green Salt" project, that included efforts to redesign the nosecone of the Shahab-3 missile, high explosives apparently for the purpose of triggering a nuclear weapon and designs for a uranium conversion facility. Later the IAEA referred to the purported Iranian activities simply as the "alleged studies." The Bush administration was pushing the IAEA to use the documents to accuse Iran of having had a covert nuclear weapons program The administration was determined to ensure that the IAEA Governing Board would support referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council for action on sanctions, as part of a larger strategy to force Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program.
Long-time IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei and other officials involved in investigating and reporting on Iran’s nuclear program were immediately skeptical about the authenticity of the documents. According to two Israeli authors, Yossi Melman and Meir Javadanfar, several IAEA officials told them in interviews in 2005 and 2006 that senior officials of the agency believed the documents had been "fabricated by a Western intelligence organizations." Heinonen, on the other hand, supported the strategy of exploiting the documents to put Iran on the defensive. His approach was not to claim that the documents’ authenticity had been proven but to shift the burden of proof to Iran, demanding that it provide concrete evidence that it had not carried out the activities portrayed in the documents.
Gareth Porter at Antiwar.com, 2 July 2010
U.K.: Waste costs 'not acceptable' for industry.
The nuclear industry has been heavily lobbying to change proposed charges for managing wastes from nuclear reactors. Papers released under Freedom of Information show how the French company EDF pressed the previous government to change the proposed 'high fixed cost' for managing wastes and the timetable for handing the management of wastes to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The previous government made significant changes to the way it initially proposed charging companies for managing their wastes. It also agreed that responsibility for wastes should pass to the NDA after 60 years instead of the original 110 years. This would reduce the financial liabilities and costs for companies.
EDF told the government the original proposals were "non-acceptable" and made it uneconomic to develop new reactors.
N-Base Briefing 665, 9 June 2010