Australian news, and some related international items

Rotting in jail’: Thousands march for Julian Assange’s release as his brother urges Anthony Albanese to act. Oct 22,

Supporters of jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have formed a human chain in Melbourne’s city centre to protest his detention.

Thousands have marched through Melbourne’s city centre calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The 51-year-old Australian has been in London’s Belmarsh prison since he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in 2019.

Mr Assange is fighting  a long-running legal battle to avoid extradition to the United States, 

Melbourne protesters marched through the city streets and formed a human chain across a Southbank bridge on Saturday morning as they called on the Australian government to intervene.

“There’s an expectation in the electorate that the prime minister and this government is going to get Julian out of jail,” Mr Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told AAP.

“The prime minister’s statements before the election – enough is enough, he doesn’t see what purpose is served by Julian being kept in prison – those were seen as a commitment.

“It’s been so many days of this government and Julian is still rotting in that prison.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese should contact the United States president directly and plead Mr Assange’s case, Mr Shipton said.

“They can pick up the phone, call Joe Biden and say, hasn’t Julian suffered enough? Drop the charges and extradition,” he said.

“Julian would walk free.”

What’s the latest on Julian Assange’s case?

In June, then-United Kingdom home secretary Priti Patel  approved Mr Assange’s extradition to the US

.Then, in August, lawyers for Mr Assange filed an appeal , arguing he is being prosecuted and punished for his political opinions.

Mr Assange was charged by the US with 17 counts of espionage and one charge of computer misuse after WikiLeaks published thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents.

Melbourne’s demonstration against Mr Assange’s detention was one of many being held across the world on Saturday.

It was heartening to see such global solidarity for Mr Assange’s cause, Mr Shipton said.

“The movement is growing around the world as evidenced by these protests,” he said.

“We’re not going to stop. We are not going to be quiet.”


October 8, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power: the Right’s giant red herring By Ralph Evans, Oct 5, 2022

Politicians of the Right keep suggesting Australia should build nuclear power stations. Why? They are slow to build, very expensive and potentially risky, and we have far better alternatives. Their aim is to divide and to wedge. We should treat it as a giant red herring.

Why do politicians on the Right keep bringing up nuclear power?

Eric Abetz used to do it at every opportunity, before he lost his senate seat and (bizarrely) reappeared as head of the Monarchist movement.

Early this month Peter Dutton said in a speech to the Minerals Council that Australia needs “a frank debate” about nuclear power and that it presents “a wonderful opportunity to add value” to our uranium resources.

Many readers will have seen an interview by David Speers with a barely coherent Barnaby Joyce on Insiders. Twice, with no prompting, Joyce brought up the idea of small modular nuclear reactors. Speers commented wryly that these are not something people are talking about at the checkout in IGA.

The latest pro-nuclear voice is Matt Canavan, the Queensland senator who loves to dress up as a coal miner, replete with face covered in coal dust. Canavan announced in a tweet this week that he would join a group of senators proposing repeal of the current law banning nuclear power in Australia. He said “It is time to join the rest of the world and treat nuclear energy as a safe and effective option”.

This is just nonsense, babble. Nuclear power is a non-starter in Australia today. Nobody is champing at the bit to invest billions in nuclear, as they are in solar, wind, storage and hydrogen. So why is the Right carrying on about it?

We were bound to hear more of this when CPAC met in Sydney last weekend. CPAC is a conclave of deplorables, an American franchise.

Even if its economics were better, nuclear power would take far too long to build to contribute to our urgent need to reduce emissions. There is no way we could see nuclear power on-line here before the later 2030s, at the earliest. First, Parliaments (state and federal) would have to repeal the ban. Then governments would have to set up a strong regulatory regime, which is not a simple thing. Next, in the unlikely event that somebody were to step forward to propose a plant, there would be a long process of argument about sites and environmental approval. Who wants one of these in their neighbourhood? Last, construction and testing could easily take a decade or more, based on American and European examples.

Barnaby’s small modular reactors are an intriguing idea, but they don’t exist yet. The first, being built by US start-up Nuscale Power, is due to be complete in 2028 or 2029. It will take years after that to establish whether these smaller reactors have the lower costs and faster construction their proponents hope for.

CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator published their 2021-22 edition of their annual Gencost report in July. They concluded (once again) that an integrated mix of solar and wind power and storage offers the lowest-cost new-build means of supplying the Australian market with electricity. The report saw no prospect of small modular nuclear reactors operating here in this decade. It said their cost could possibly come down in the future, but this would depend on successful deployment overseas.

Stories abound of delays and cost overruns with nuclear power. Britain’s Hinkley Point C station was first estimated to cost £4 billion. It is now over a decade late and expected to come in at £22-3 billion. Do we seriously want to get into this, when a renewable network can be built far more quickly and in smaller pieces?

The safety record of nuclear power is generally good. But when accidents occur they can be very big indeed. Naturally, they can prompt widespread community opposition. The Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine led to strong opposition to nuclear power in Germany and a plan to exit nuclear power. Fukushima led the government of Japan to mothball many existing nuclear stations. The total cost of the Fukushima clean-up may be as high as US$1 trillion. We have no need to take this kind of risk in Australia.

So why do the politicians of the Right keep talking up nuclear power? No doubt, some want to attract attention to themselves or to ingratiate themselves with interest groups like the Minerals Council. In addition, I suspect, they aim to sow confusion and to drive wedges into the community.

Nuclear power is a great subject for an old bore to bang on about in a pub or at a barbecue. It is easily linked to other hardy perennials, like the Bradfield Plan to pump water from coastal Queensland rivers like the Burdekin over the Great Divide to irrigate the inland. This has been demonstrated time and again to be uneconomic, but its advocates go on about it like a dog with a bone.

Nuclear power for Australia is nothing more than a giant red herring and should be treated as such.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Radiation ‘hotspots’: legacy of British nuclear tests lingers on idyllic islands in Western Australia

Tourists warned not spend more than an hour at the Montebello Islands sites – as a new study examines the effect of radioactive sands on marine life.

Guardian, Narelle Towie, @narelletowie 8 Oct 22,

The white ocean sands of Western Australia’s Montebello Islands may appear inviting, but 70 years ago they were the site of Britain’s first nuclear tests.

Now researchers are working to uncover how much and what type of radioactive material persists in sediment on the ocean floor of the archipelago, made up of 265 low-lying islands and islets, 1,200km north of Perth. They hope to get a clearer idea of its effects on the area’s abundant marine life and any lingering dangers to people who visit the islands for tourism or fishing.

The nuclear fallout from atomic blasts in the 1950s have been well studied on land, but little is known about how radioactive sands affect the 60,000-hectare marine park’s ecosystem.

In June 2020 a team led by Madison Hoffman, an environmental radioecologist at Edith Cowan University, collected hundreds of kilograms of sediment from an area near the blast sites, 120km west of Dampier, for analysis.

Hoffman says they detected levels of radioactivity higher than background levels, as expected.

“Those levels are highest in areas around where those three detonations took place, but we also have some areas which have come up with levels a little higher than we expected for where we found them.”


The 12 nuclear tests carried out between 1952 and 1957 – including three in the Montebellos – were part of a secretive deal between Britain and Australia that was championed by the then prime minister, Robert Menzies. Further “minor trials” were carried out in South Australia until 1963.

The first test, codenamed Operation Hurricane, took place on 4 October 1952 at a lagoon off Trimouille Island in the Montebellos.

A decommissioned warship, HMS Plym, was rigged up with a 7kg plutonium device, sending tonnes of seawater and mud 3,000 metres into the air and impregnating the ocean sand with radioactive isotopes.

On 16 May and 19 June 1956 two more bombs were set off from towers at Trimouille and Alpha islands as part of Operation Mosaic. The bombs were boosted with hydrogen and lithium and were the biggest ever detonated in Australia.

Hoffman says while some radionuclides, or radioactive atoms, are blasted inside sand grains, others attach to the surface of sediment and shift in rough weather, such as during cyclonic activity.

“When we know what radionuclides there are and what ratios they are in, they can act like a fingerprint, kind of like a forensics tool that is distinct to the Montebellos,” Hoffman says.

“When sediment rock gets moved from point A to point B, it is taking those radionuclides with it and potentially moving those hotspots and migrating them around.”

Hoffman wants to know where these hotspots are so she can study how the radiation exposure affects sediment-dwelling marine life. The area is home to a rich variety of marine species including dugongs, turtles, whales, hundreds of fish species and mangroves………………….

 Darren Koppel, a marine contaminant expert with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, says low levels of radiation over long periods can cause chronic toxicity to plants and other organisms.

“We do not have much data on the chronic effects of radiation to marine organisms, so this type of research is critical to fill those data gaps,” Koppel says.

“The most likely effect is that sensitive organisms and plants will have stopped living or growing in the areas with higher radioactivity, leaving only the more tolerant species.”

The Montebello Islands are managed by the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

It says there are still “slightly elevated radiation levels” at Trimouille and Alpha islands and warns tourists not to camp or spend longer than one hour at those sites.

Tourists travel from the nearby towns of Karratha, Port Hedland, Onslow and Dampier on fishing trips. Despite warning signs , the department has found evidence of campers on the islands in recent years.

In the Great Victoria Desert, in outback South Australia, authorities spent millions trying to clean up radioactive fallout from nuclear testing at Maralinga, where the British detonated seven atomic bombs.

According to researchers at Monash University, residual plutonium and uranium still contaminate the land at Maralinga as tiny radioactive grains in the soil.

Little heed was given to the Anangu Pitjantjatjara people who lived on the land, who lived with the legacy of the explosions for decades afterwards. It wasn’t until 1994 that the Australian government paid $13.5m in compensation for what had been done to the land.

British and Australian servicemen exposed to radiation by the blasts have also fought long campaigns for the effects on their health to be recognised and adequately compensated…………………

Hoffman says that key technical documents about the nuclear testing, which could help with her research, were reclassified by the UK in 2018.

“We have so little documentation or information about what really happened,” Hoffman said.

“Without that information and all the really crucial statistics [about the blasts] it is really difficult to make sense of the answers we have now in relation to what originally happened.”

October 8, 2022 Posted by | environment, weapons and war, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Zelensky aide attempts to walk back call for ‘preemptive strike’

It’s not clear what Zelensky meant by a “pre-emptive strike”. He might not have meant that NATO/USA should use a nuclear weapon.

But – he might well have meant that USA/NATO should strike at Russian nuclear sites

And that would indeed mean a Nuclear Pre-emptive Strike 7 Oct 22, The Ukrainian president didn’t urge NATO to attack Russia with nuclear weapons, he pointed out.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s call for a preemptive NATO strike against Russia should not be interpreted as a request to attack the country, his press secretary has insisted.

“Colleagues, you have gone a bit too far with your nuclear hysterics and hear ‘nuclear strikes’ where there are none,” Sergey Nikoforov wrote on Facebook on Thursday, responding to widespread alarm over the president’s words.

The press secretary pledged that Ukraine will never resort to nuclear threats, calling it something only the “terrorist state Russia” would do.

Moscow has denied that its senior officials were threatening anybody when they described the country’s official nuclear posture, in the context of warning NATO members against attacks on Russia.

Hours earlier, Zelensky told the Australian Lowy Institute that NATO should carry out preemptive strikes against Russia so that it “knows what to expect” in the event that it uses atomic weapons.

Such an attack would “eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” the Ukrainian leader claimed. He urged the US and its allies to make a show of force, recalling how he appealed to other nations for preemptive measures against Russia before Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in late February.

“I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: preemptive strikes so that they [Russians] know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around,” he said.

His press secretary also noted that before the hostilities started, “the only measures we talked about were preemptive sanctions”.

Russian officials have accused Zelensky of trying to provoke a global nuclear war. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described him as “a monster, whose hands can destroy the planet,” after being pumped with Western weapons.

The Russian military doctrine allows the use of nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict, if Moscow believes that the existence of the country is under threat. Russian officials have repeatedly warned against escalating the crisis in Ukraine, stating that it could spiral out of control and result in a global nuclear exchange.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lavrov explains why Russia sees Ukraine as a threat – Zelensky asked NATO for a pre-emptive nuclear strike. 7 Oct 22, President Zelensky did ask NATO for a preemptive nuclear strike, despite claims to the contrary, the Russian foreign minister said.

A call by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for NATO members to deploy nuclear weapons against Russia is a reminder of why Moscow launched military action against his country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“Yesterday, Zelensky called on his Western masters to deliver a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia,” Moscow’s top diplomat stated during a media conference on Wednesday

In doing so, the Ukrainian leader “showed to the entire world the latest proof of the threats that come from the Kiev regime.” Lavrov said Russia’s special military operation had been launched to neutralize those threats.

He dismissed as “laughable” an attempt to downplay Zelensky’s words made by his press secretary, Sergey Nikoforov.

We all remember how [Zelensky] declared in January Ukraine’s intention to acquire nuclear weapons. Apparently, this idea has long been stuck in his mind,” the Russian minister said.

On Thursday, Zelensky told the Australian Lowy Institute that NATO must carry out preemptive strikes against Russia so that it “knows what to expect” if it uses its nuclear arsenal. He claimed that such action would “eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” before recalling how he urged other nations to preemptively punish Russia before it launched its military action against his country.

“I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: Preemptive strikes so that [the Russians] know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around,” he said.

His spokesman then claimed that people interpreting Zelensky’s words as a call for a preemptive nuclear strike were wrong, and that Ukraine would never use such rhetoric.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2022 Nobel Peace Prize award violates the purpose of the prize

2022: Nobel Committee Gets Peace Prize Wrong Yet Again, 7 Oct 22,

The Nobel Committee has yet again awarded a peace prize that violates the will of Alfred Nobel and the purpose for which the prize was created, selecting recipients who blatantly are not “the person who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.”

With its eyes on the news of the day, there was no question that the Committee would find some way to focus on Ukraine. But it steered clear of anyone seeking to reduce the risk of that thus-far relatively minor war creating a nuclear apocalypse. It avoided anyone opposing both sides of the war, or anyone advocating for a ceasefire or negotiations or disarmament. It did not even make the choice one might have expected of picking an opponent of Russian warmaking in Russia and an opponent of Ukrainian warmaking in Ukraine.

Instead, the Nobel Committee has chosen advocates for human rights and democracy in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. But the group in Ukraine is recognized for having  “engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population,” with no mention of war as a crime or of the possibility that the Ukrainian side of the war was committing atrocities. The Nobel Committee may have learned from Amnesty International’s experience of being widely denounced for documenting war crimes by the Ukrainian side.

The fact that all sides of all wars have always failed and always will fail to engage in humane operations is possibly why Alfred Nobel set up a prize to advance the abolition of war.  It’s too bad that prize is so misused. Because of its misuse, World BEYOND War has created instead the War Abolisher Awards.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Media hide the fascist ideology of Ukrainian militia who visit U.S. Congress.

The U.S. financed Anti-Corruption Action Center is now promoting the visits of fascists to the center of U.S. power. Democrats are welcoming them. Their hate of anything Russia allows them to ally with even the worst people one can think of while main stream media provide cover for those people’s hateful ideology.


‘Western’ media continue to denazify Ukraine by pretending that the Nazi formations in that country, which they had long decried, are now a harmless collection of celebrities.

One could follow those changes along various pieces in the New York Times:

Mar 15 2019:

On his flak jacket was a symbol commonly used by the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organization.

Feb 11 2020:

Defenders of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which the F.B.I. calls “a paramilitary unit” notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology,” accuse us of being part of a Kremlin campaign to “demonize” the group.

Mar 17 2022:

Facebook last week said it was making an exception to its anti-extremism policies to allow praise for Ukraine’s far-right Azov Battalion military unit, “strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine National Guard.”

Apr 29 2022:

These scenes are from videos shared online in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military, which says they were taken in the mazelike bunkers beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.

As I had written previously:

What was once “a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organization” which even the FBI said is notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology” was first relabeled as merely “far right” before it became a normal “unit in the Ukrainian military”.

Today the New York Times topped that evolution by turning a Ukrainian government press release into a tear dripping story about the reunion of freed Azov losers with their families:

Released Azov commanders have an emotional reunion with family members in Turkey

Commanders of Ukraine’s celebrated Azov Battalion have held an emotional reunion with their families in Turkey, Ukrainian officials said, honoring the fighters released from Russian confinement last month as part of the largest prisoner swap since the start of the war.

Among the 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war released in the exchange were 108 members of the Azov Battalion……………… Ms. Zelenska said she gave the Azov Battalion members “thanks from Ukraine, from the president and all the people for whom they are fighting.”

How can anyone working at the New York Times not be ashamed of this whitewash of a deeply fascists organization.

The NYT is far from the only ‘western’ media doing this. I was easy to find some 40 stories in main stream media which between 2014 and April 2022 which critically discussed the ‘controversial’ Nazi ideology of Azov and other Ukrainian militia. Then the coverage abruptly changed turning those fascist groups into harmless patriots.

Others have done similar analyses:

In order to get a better sense of how Canadian media’s approach to reporting on the Azov Regiment (formerly the Azov Battalion) has changed over the years, we searched for every mention of the group in the archives of the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and National Post. We also searched through the CBC News website, as well as some of their broadcasts. All of the 90 unique mentions we found (as of August 10) were compiled, with the description of Azov provided in said article or broadcast being noted for comparison. We found that these news outlets (and the wire services much of their coverage relied upon) went from directly acknowledging Azov’s neo-Nazi ideology to suggesting that the group is merely “controversial” or has a “checkered past.” Some reports included no qualifiers at all, and simply presented the group as just another Ukrainian military unit fighting against Russia.

It is not just the media but also politicians who have done a U-turn from condemning Azov and other Nazi groups to welcoming them as guests in Washington DC.

On March 27 2018 The Hill reported:

Congress bans arms to Ukraine militia linked to neo-Nazis

A little-noticed provision in the 2,232-page government spending bill passed last week bans U.S. arms from going to a controversial ultranationalist militia in Ukraine that has openly accepted neo-Nazis into its ranks. House-passed spending bills for the past three years have included a ban on U.S. aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion, but the provision was stripped out before final passage each year.

This year, though, the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law last week stipulates that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to provide arms, training or other assistance to the Azov Battalion.”

White supremacy and neo-Nazism are unacceptable and have no place in our world,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), an outspoken critic of providing lethal aid to Ukraine, said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. “I am very pleased that the recently passed omnibus prevents the U.S. from providing arms and training assistance to the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion fighting in Ukraine.”

A year later that language was again stripped from the omnibus spending bill.

Three years on and the very same Nazis are greeted by prominent members of Congress:

California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, who pushed the Trump-Russia hoax as hard as anyone, invited neo-Nazis serving in Ukraine’s Azov Battalion to the U.S. Capitol and met with them on Monday. “The American Left is openly aligning itself with Nazis while painting its domestic political opposition as Nazis who present a danger to democracy,” Sean Adl-Tabatabai noted in a Sept. 27 News Punch analysis.

How quickly they seem to forget.

Just three years ago, 40 U.S. senators signed a letter demanding that the Azov Battalion be added to a list of terrorist organizations.

When it was reported that the Azov Battalion was in the thick of the fight against Russia’s invasion this year, however, Democrats and their legacy media allies treated them more as heroes than terrorists, critics say.

During their visit, the Ukrainian soldiers reportedly thanked the U.S. Congress for the billions in aid it has approved thus far … and then asked for more.

There is whole series of pictures of Democrat congressmen and senators meeting such groups posted by Daria Kaleniuk, the assistant director of a Ukrainian activist group called Anti-Corruption Action Centre. The Anti Corruption Action Center is a U.S. government financed non-government organization in Kiev. Together with Ukraine’s controversial National Anti-corruption Bureau it is a political enforcer which accuses anyone in Ukraine of ‘corruption’ as soon as they divert from the U.S. dictated line. Back in July it even took on Zelenski:

[M]any political experts and anti-corruption activists viewed the removal of Ivan Bakanov, head of Ukraine’s state intelligence service, the SBU, and Iryna Venediktova, the country’s prosecutor general, by presidential decree as Zelenskyy taking advantage of extraordinary wartime authority to consolidate his own power. “It’s not a move to do the right thing. It’s a move to gain more control over our top law enforcement bodies,” Tetiana Shevchuk, a lawyer and activist at the Kyiv-based Anti-Corruption Action Center, said in an interview.

The U.S. financed Anti-Corruption Action Center is now promoting the visits of fascists to the center of U.S. power. Democrats are welcoming them. Their hate of anything Russia allows them to ally with even the worst people one can think of while main stream media provide cover for those people’s hateful ideology.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are Putin’s nuclear threats really likely to lead to Armageddon?

The realities underlying the menacing vocabulary are a grey area – it is far from certain that Putin would be prepared to use nuclear weapons

Guardian, by Julian Borger in Washington, Sat 8 Oct 2022

The past week has seen a rapid escalation in nuclear rhetoric, beginning with Vladimir Putin’s threat to use “all forces and means” to defend newly seized territory in Ukraine and ending with Joe Biden’s warning of “Armageddon” if Russia crosses the nuclear Rubicon.

However, the realities underlying the menacing vocabulary are a far greyer area than the bluster suggests. It is far from certain that Putin would be prepared to be the first leader to use nuclear weapons in wartime since 1945, over his territorial ambitions in Ukraine. If his primary goal is to stay in power, that could be exactly the wrong way of going about it.

Even if he did issue the launch order, he has no guarantee it would be carried out. Nor can he be absolutely sure that the weapons and their delivery systems would work.

On the US side, despite the US president’s apocalyptic language at a private fundraiser on Thursday night, it is not at all inevitable that Washington would respond to Putin’s nuclear use with nuclear retaliation. Past wargaming suggests there would be vigorous debate within the administration to say the least.

Like US presidents, Putin is normally accompanied by an aide carrying a briefcase with codes used to authorise a nuclear launch. In the US it is called the football, in Russia it is the cheget. In the Russian system, the defence minister and the chief of the general staff have their own chegets but it is believed that Putin can order a launch without them.

However, the cheget is relevant for the strategic nuclear forces, the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) launched from land or sea, or long-range bombers. Because they need to be launched within minutes in case of enemy attack, the warheads need to be deployed, mounted on the delivery systems.

Any nuclear use in Ukraine would be likely to involve non-strategic, or tactical, weapons with shorter-range delivery systems, and which are usually (but not necessarily) less powerful than strategic arms, though on average they are many times more powerful that the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs.

The US only has one kind of tactical weapon, the B61 gravity bomb, of which there are about a hundred in Europe and a similar number in the US, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

FAS estimates Russia has 2,000 tactical weapons, in very many shapes and sizes for use on land, sea and air. The weapons are not deployed on missiles or aircraft, but kept in bunkers in storage sites dotted around Russia. There are 12 national storage sites, known in Russian military parlance as “Object S”, one of which is in Belgorod, right on the Ukrainian border.

There are also 34 “base-level” sites, closer to the delivery systems. In a time of crisis, warheads would be moved from national to base-level sites – and up to now western intelligence agencies say no such movement has been observed.

Any such movement would be carried out by the 12th main directorate of the Russian armed forces, which has the job of storing and maintaining the warheads and then delivering them in specialised trains or trucks to base-level sites, or directly to the unit designated to launch them.

Pavel Baev, a military researcher who worked for the Soviet defence ministry, said that Putin cannot count on these weapons actually working.

“Most of these warheads stored there are very old,” Baev, now a professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said. “Without testing it’s really hard to say how suitable they are because many of them are past their expiration date.”

Baev added that it was also far from clear that the Russian can successfully pair old warheads with the much newer delivery systems that would have to be used, possibly 9K720 Iskander or Kinzhal hypersonic missiles……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The key question is more likely to be whether the US and its allies should respond with devastating conventional firepower, as Poland’s foreign minister, Zbigniew Rau, and the former CIA director David Petraeus have suggested. But that would transform the war into one between Russia and Nato, in which escalation to a nuclear exchange could become hard to stop.

According to Eric Schlosser, the author of a book about the nuclear establishment, Command and Control, the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) conducted another war game in 2019 focused on Russian nuclear use in Ukraine. That wargame appears to have been updated, suggesting it is in constant use. The results in 2019 are top secret, but as Schlosser wrote in the Atlantic, one of the participants told him: “There were no happy outcomes.”

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No nuclear power ‘renaissance’ as Europe wrestles energy crisis

“Most efforts right now are based on developing renewables, that’s what you can see in the European strategy in response to the Russian crisis,” “Nuclear is still not a shared solution in Europe.”

Russian invasion of Ukraine sparks incremental shifts in divisive issue, but no major pivot seven months into fighting.

Aljazeera, By Joseph Stepansky 6 Oct 20226

Nuclear power, and the heavy safety baggage it carries, has long divided European opinion, with individual countries charting vastly divergent paths on the industry’s role in future energy sustainability and security plans.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has again brought the atomic question to the fore, as nations scrambled for short-term solutions before winter sets in, as well as longer-term safeguards, to avoid similar energy upheavals in the years ahead.

But after eight months of fighting in Ukraine, and an energy crisis compounded most recently by the alleged sabotage of the arterial Nord Stream 1 and 2 Russia-to-Europe pipelines in the Baltic Sea, European governments long opposed to nuclear power have shown only incremental shifts in their attitudes, which have been informed by years of concerns about nuclear waste and safety.

A wider pivot has remained absent…………………..

Mark Hibbs, a Germany-based non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “I don’t see a major [nuclear power] watershed from what’s happening in Ukraine.”

Instead, the situation has reinforced some trends among countries already bought into nuclear energy, he said, while slowing some opponents’ phase-outs of the technology.

Europe’s nuclear hesitancy

Opposition to nuclear power, coupled with other factors, has created a 25 percent overall decline in electricity produced by splitting atoms in the 27-country European Union from 2006 to 2020, according to the bloc’s executive wing, the European Commission.

By 2020, the EU produced 24 percent of the bloc’s overall electricity from nuclear plants, with 13 countries operating nuclear reactors: France, Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Countries that already have nuclear power capacity, according to Hibbs, are likely to face the greatest demands in light of the conflict in Ukraine, particularly as typically 30- to 40-year power plant licences begin to expire.

“There will be pressure on European governments and industry to continue operating their nuclear power plants,” he said, adding that pressure will grow as the conflict stretches on…………………………………….

More recently, Greenpeace, an organisation that has long opposed nuclear power, has pointed to fighting around the Russian-seized Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine as an example of the ever-present danger of relying on nuclear as an energy source.

Denmark, Ireland and Serbia, countries that do not have nuclear power industries, have longstanding bans on developing the technology. Others, such as Greece, have avoided the technology for fear of natural disasters……………………………………………………………………………………..

No short-term solutions

Still, a more immediate pivot has been widely constrained by the reality that nuclear power’s ability to address Europe’s short-term energy challenges is “fairly limited”, according to Cobb.

“And the reason for that is, in most countries, nuclear operates in a baseload mode. So, it is already the case that nuclear plants tend to operate full-time,” he said. “They’re not like gas plants that operate at a peaking load, producing electricity, when demand is at the highest. They’re always operating”.

Meanwhile, developing new nuclear facilities remains a daunting, costly and years-long ambition, with a high barrier of entry, IDDRI’s Berghmans said.

“It’s a complex industry,” he said. “You need big infrastructure. You need to plan where you can put these facilities. You need nuclear know-how, which is not as widespread as it used to be in Europe.”

Proponents of new generation small modular reactors (SMRs), which can be built off-site and transported, have said the new technology could offer more efficient and cheaper development, although the plants are still years away from operating and have raised their own unique safety concerns.

And while nuclear power analysts have said the nuclear supply chain is generally more stable and easier to reroute than that of many fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, it does not come without its own Russia problems.

In 2020, EU utilities imported about 20 percent of their natural uranium, the fundamental resource needed to produce nuclear energy, from Russia. The bloc also received 26 percent of its enrichment services, the required process of altering uranium’s makeup before it can be used to create energy, from Russia, according to the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine also currently operate Russian-made nuclear reactors, raising questions about their long-term needs for specific Russian-made parts and services, according to an analysis by Matt Bowen and Paul Dabbar of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

To date, Russia’s nuclear industry has broadly escaped Western sanctions.

Recent outages at French power plants, because of maintenance, corrosion problems and heat stresses, have also reinforced longstanding hesitancy towards nuclear power, according to Carole Nakhle, the founder of the Crystol Energy consulting organisation.

“Mind you, one of the problems that the EU faced that made the current crisis even worse were the nuclear outages in France,” she told Al Jazeera. “France, which usually exports electricity, had to import this year because its power plants couldn’t keep up.”

Given the myriad challenges that continue to surround nuclear, governments are more likely to see renewable energies, such as wind and photovoltaic energy, as “more economical” alternatives to energy security and sustainability, according to Berghmans.

“Most efforts right now are based on developing renewables, that’s what you can see in the European strategy in response to the Russian crisis,” he said. “Nuclear is still not a shared solution in Europe.”

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands to receive U.N. support over nuclear legacy KYODO NEWS -8 Oct 22,

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution Friday aimed at assisting the Marshall Islands in its efforts to secure justice for people suffering from the impact of the United States’ former nuclear testing program in its territory.

“We have suffered the cancer of the nuclear legacy for far too long and we need to find a way forward to a better future for our people,” Samuel Lanwi, deputy permanent representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in Geneva told the body in an emotional speech.

The United States conducted dozens of nuclear weapons tests in the islands of the Pacific state in the 1940s and ’50s, including the 1954 Castle Bravo test at Bikini Atoll, the biggest U.S. bomb ever detonated.

The text tabled by five Pacific Island states — the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa and Vanuatu — was backed by Australia and did not demand reparations.

It called on the U.N. rights chief to submit a report in September 2024 on the challenges to the enjoyment of human rights by the Marshallese people stemming from the nuclear legacy.

The United States as well as other nuclear weapons states such as Britain, India and Pakistan expressed concern about some aspects of the text but did not ask for a vote on the motion. Japan did not speak at the meeting.

The Marshallese people are still struggling with the health and environmental consequences of the nuclear tests, including higher cancer rates. Many people displaced due to the tests are still unable to return home.

A concrete dome on Runit Island containing radioactive waste is of particular concern, especially in relation to rising sea levels as a result of climate change, according to the countries that drafted the resolution.

The Marshall Islands says a settlement reached in 1986 with the United States fell short of addressing the extensive environmental and health damage that resulted from the tests.

The U.S. government asserts the bilateral agreement settled “all claims, past, present and future,” including nuclear compensation.

Observers say some nuclear states fear the initiative for the Marshall Islands could open the door to other countries bringing similar issues to the rights body.

October 8, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

October 7 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Michigan Has Potential To Reduce Emissions By Over 94%” • The 2030 Report: How Michigan Should Meet Its Climate Change Goals outlines the most feasible and ambitious set of policies that would help Michigan reduce health-harming pollution and greenhouse gases while putting the state on a strong path for meeting its climate goals. […]

October 7 Energy News — geoharvey

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment