Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Geopolitics: The US Russia Pipeline Wars - Engdahl

Geopolitics: The US Russia Pipeline Wars - Engdahl

Jayne Lyn Stahl Nukes by the Numbers

Jayne Lyn Stahl
Nukes by the Numbers

After Yucca Mountain: What to Do With Nuclear Waste?

Robert Alvarez
After Yucca Mountain: What to Do With Nuclear Waste?

The Next GOP Screw-Up by James Carroll

The Next GOP Screw-Up

by James Carroll

The Arms-Control Agreement: Not Worth a Victory Lap

The Arms-Control Agreement: Not Worth a Victory Lap

Obama, Clinton, Gates Brief on START Treaty - The White House

Obama, Clinton, Gates Brief on START Treaty - The White House

Questions Abound as "New START" Agreement is Completed

Questions Abound as "New START" Agreement is Completed

From Global Security Newswire:

WASHINGTON -- With the United States and Russia announcing that they have reached agreement on a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, experts and pundits are eagerly awaiting details and raising questions about what comes next (see GSN, March 25).

U.S. President Barack Obama said today that he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed during a telephone conversation this morning to meet April 8 in Prague to sign the so-called "New START" agreement. That is just three days after the one-year anniversary of Obama's major speech in the Czech capital, in which the president laid out his vision for the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

Read more ....

US And Russia Seal Deal To Slash Nuclear Arsenals By A Third -- The Telegraph

US And Russia Seal Deal To Slash Nuclear Arsenals By A Third -- The Telegraph

President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, on Friday sealed a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty that they will sign together in Prague next month.

After months of deadlock, the deal on a successor to the Cold War-era Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) was hailed as Mr Obama's most significant foreign policy achievement since taking office.

It boosted the US president's efforts to "reset" ties with Moscow.

Read more ....

Friday, March 26, 2010

China wary of US-Russia nuclear embrace

China wary of US-Russia nuclear embrace
from Asia Times Online :: Asian news hub providing the latest news and ...
The first major United States-Russia nuclear weapons agreement of the post-Cold War era is a foreign policy milestone for President Barack Obama and equally timely for his counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev. Beijing sees a desire to keep China's rise in check as a leitmotif of the US "reset" in relations with Moscow and has dispatched an important visitor to the Russian capital in response. - M K Bhadrakumar


If You Want To Be Green, Move To China from Green Sheet by Gus Lubin

If You Want To Be Green, Move To China from Green Sheet by Gus Lubin

Even with many American disadvantages, it's embarrassing to fall behind in green tech investment to a country with a 70% smaller economy.

A new Pew study shows China slaughtering the U.S. in wind investment and keeping even with solar (via FT Alphaville).

Looking at investment compared to overall economy, China comes in third at 0.39%. America comes in eleventh at 0.13%.

American disadvantages in the tech race are the same as any old generation trying to learn a new technology. We've already built the old infrastructure and don't see the need to change.

Don't miss: The Sexy Chinese Bullet Trains Coming Soon To America

See Also:

* China: A Threat Or Opportunity For A Greener Future?

* Will Chinese Electric Cars Dominate The Decade?

* How Investors Can Jump On The Environmental Bandwagon

South Korean ship sinking, North attack suspected: report

South Korean ship sinking, North attack suspected: report

Friday, March 26, 2010; 11:38 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean naval vessel with more than 100 aboard was sinking on Friday in waters near North Korea and Seoul was investigating whether it was hit in a torpedo attack by the North, South Korean media said.

Broadcaster SBS said many South Korean sailors on the stricken vessel were feared dead.

South Korea's YTN TV network said the government was investigating whether the sinking was due to a torpedo attack by the North, and Yonhap news agency said the Seoul government had convened an emergency meeting of security-related ministers.

Yonhap also reported a South Korean navy ship firing toward an unidentified vessel to the north.

North Korea in recent weeks has said it was bolstering its defenses in response to joint South Korean-U.S. military drills that were held this month.

(Reporting by Cho Mee-young and Jon Herskovitz; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

NKorea threatens 'nuclear strikes' on SKorea

NKorea threatens 'nuclear strikes' on SKorea, US Mar 26, 3:58 AM (ET)


, South Korea (AP) - North Korea's military threatened South Korea and the United States on Friday with "unprecedented nuclear strikes" as it expressed anger over a report the two countries plan to prepare for possible instability in the totalitarian country, a scenario it dismissed as a "pipe dream."

The North routinely issues such warnings. Diplomats in South Korea and the U.S. have repeatedly called on Pyongyang to return to international negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear programs.

"Those who seek to bring down the system in the (North), whether they play a main role or a passive role, will fall victim to the unprecedented nuclear strikes of the invincible army," North Korea's military said in comments carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The North, believed have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen atomic bombs, conducted its second atomic test last year, drawing tighter U.N. sanctions.

Experts from South Korea, the U.S. and China will meet in China next month to share information on North Korea, assess possible contingencies in the country, and consider ways to cooperate in case of an emergency situation, South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported earlier this month, citing unidentified sources in Seoul and Beijing. The experts will also hold follow-up meetings in Seoul in June and in Honolulu in July, it said.

The North Korean statement Friday specifically referred to the March 19 newspaper report.

A spokeswoman said the South Korean Defense Ministry had no information.

Gen. Walter Sharp, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, says the possibility of turmoil in the North is of real concern, citing the country's economic weakness, malnourishment in both the military and general population, and its nuclear weapons.

"The possibility of a sudden leadership change in the North could be destabilizing and unpredictable," he said in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee hearing earlier this week.

South Korean media have reported that Seoul has drawn up a military operations plan with the United States to cope with possible emergencies in the North. The North says the U.S. is plotting to topple its regime, a claim Washington has consistently denied.

Last month, the North also threatened a "powerful - even nuclear - attack," if the U.S. and South Korea went ahead with annual military drills. There was no military provocation from North Korea during the exercises.

China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. have been trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in six party talks. The North quit the negotiations last year.

The fate of the North's nuclear weapons has taken on added urgency since late 2008 as concerns over the health of leader Kim Jong Il have intensified.

Kim, who suffered an apparent stroke in 2008, may die within three years, South Korean media have reported. His death is thought to have the potential to trigger instability and a power struggle in the North.

US Caves On Iran Sanctions U.S. Softens Sanction Plan Against Iran -- Wall Street Journal

US Caves On Iran Sanctions
U.S. Softens Sanction Plan Against Iran -- Wall Street Journal

VIENNA—The U.S. has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran in order to win support from Russia and China for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the U.S. sent to key allies last month were sanctions aimed at choking off Tehran’s access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran’s national air cargo and shipping lines, according to the individuals.

Read more ....

More News On Iran Sanctions

US softens Iran sanctions plan to win support: report -- AFP

Report: US softens Iran sanctions plan -- YNET News

U.S. Easing up on Iran and Yuan -- World Market Media

Six Major Powers Hold Conference on Possible Iran Sanctions -- Voice of America

China to join in talks on sanctioning Iran over uranium -- Washington Post

Russia says may support Iran nuclear sanctions -- Reuters

Russia's Lukoil flees Iran -- UPI

The Promise of the U.S.-Russia Arms Pact - Council on Foreign Relations

The Promise of the U.S.-Russia Arms Pact - Council on Foreign Relations\\

The Strategic Arms Treaty's Promise
March 25, 2010
Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies


U.S. and Russia Must Build on Nuclear Deal - The Guardian US-Russia nuclear deal: Two tribes don't go to war

U.S. and Russia Must Build on Nuclear Deal - The Guardian

US-Russia nuclear deal: Two tribes don't go to war

A major arms control agreement with Russia is not being made at eastern Europe's expense


Dialing for Proliferation Dollars

Dialing for Proliferation Dollars


Thursday, March 25, 2010

China and Russia Pressed Iran to Accept U.N. Deal

China and Russia Pressed Iran to Accept U.N. Deal
Ellen Barry and Andrew Kramer, The New York Times
Russia disclosed on Wednesday that Russian and Chinese envoys had pressed Iran's government to accept a United Nations plan on uranium enrichment during meetings in Tehran early this month but that Iran had refused, leaving "less and less room for diplomatic maneuvering."
Full Article

United States and Russia Reach Nuclear-Arms Deal

United States and Russia Reach Nuclear-Arms Deal
Mary Beth Sheridan and Philip P. Pan, The Washington Post
ChuThe United States and Russia have reached a deal on their most extensive nuclear arms-control agreement in nearly two decades, the Kremlin announced Wednesday. The pact appeared to represent President Obama's first victory in his ambitious agenda to move toward a nuclear-free world.

The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would replace a 1991 pact that expired in December. Experts called the new agreement the most significant arms-control accord since the 1993 signing of START II, which the Russians never ratified.
Full Article

US peeks into China's nuclear fortress By Peter J Brown

US peeks into China's nuclear fortress
By Peter J Brown

The Chinese government is probably unhappy about a new report by a Virginia-based, non-partisan think-tank called Project 2049 [1] that reveals significant and previously little known details about Base 22 in the Qinling mountains in Shaanxi province, China's primary storage facility for nuclear weapons. Publicity about this new report - "China's Nuclear Warhead Storage and Handling System" - first appeared in Defense News in early March. [2]

One can quickly understand the reason for Beijing's displeasure. Although the existence of this strategic storage complex in northwest China has been known for years, what has been said in the report about the size - 400 square kilometers, the tunnel complex inside Taibai Mountain, and the railway lines leading to
this mysterious fortress is not the kind of detailed information that China is eager to share with the outside world.

"I would expect the Chinese government to be a little disconcerted about such information appearing in the public domain, but the report's author, Mark Stokes, has noted elsewhere that China is becoming more open so I would expect Chinese readers to react across the spectrum, from rage to shrugs," said Dr Jeffrey Lewis, director of the Nuclear Strategy and Non-proliferation Initiative at the Washington DC-based New America Foundation.

Stokes, a former US defense attache who worked at the US embassy in Beijing in the early 1990s, is now executive director of Project 2049. He is probably not the most popular person in Beijing these days, but his report actually paints a very positive picture of the rigid yet reliable system of controls put in place by the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission (CMC) to ensure the absolute safety and security of China's nuclear warheads. Base 22 and the entire centralized storage and handling system falls under the control of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery.

"The key thing is that China appears to manage its limited nuclear inventory in a responsible manner, and it is worth examining ways to deepen and broaden cooperation in safeguarding nuclear warheads and materials on a global basis," said Stokes.

Any report that includes new details about China's strategic weapons let alone the infrastructure that China has built surrounding these weapons is bound to compliment as well as fuel the ongoing attempt by US conservatives to confront and ultimately defeat US President Barack Obama's plan to dramatically reduce the US stockpile of nuclear weapons. In addition, this report comes at a time when US conservatives are focused on implementing a grander missile defense scheme to counter what is unfolding in Iran, North Korea, and China.

Obama recalls bunker-buster bomb kits to bar Israeli strike on Iran DEBKAfile Special Report

Obama recalls bunker-buster bomb kits to bar Israeli strike on Iran
DEBKAfile Special Report
March 20, 2010, 6:54 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tags: bunker-busters Israel Obama
Advanced BLU-100 recalled by President Obama

Shortly after the flare-up of a US-Israel row over new homes in East Jerusalem, US president Barack Obama ordered a consignment of Joint Direct Attack Munitions- JDAM already on its way to Israel to be diverted to the US Air Force base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. This step in mid-March, the pointer to a US arms embargo for preventing Israel attacking Iran's nuclear sites, is first revealed here by debkafile's military sources.

South African Nuclear Project May Get $10 Million for U.S. Deal

South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor expects to receive about $10 million for a U.S. nuclear-power deal. The company is part of a group chosen by the Energy Department for the development of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, Pebble Bed spokeswoman Lorna Skhosana said. Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Westinghouse secures contract for U.K. nuclear site

Westinghouse secures contract for U.K. nuclear site
Westinghouse has signed a long-term deal to manage the Springfields nuclear-fuel-manufacturing facility, according to the U.K. government. The company had said that if it secured an agreement, it would consider investing in the plant. Reuters

NUCLEAR WASTE: Energy chief blasted as panel foresees battle over Yucca shutdown Lawmaker says energy chief needs congressional approval

Energy chief takes more heat over Yucca Mountain decision
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was challenged by House lawmakers over his decision to shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository in Nevada. Members of a House energy subcommittee questioned the legality of closing the project's office and restructuring the workforce. Las Vegas Review-Journal/Stephens Washington News Bureau


Stop Hand-Wringing About Peak Oil and Climate Change and Do Something

Stop Hand-Wringing About Peak Oil and Climate Change and Do Something
by Judith Schwartz, Miller-McCune.com at AlterNet.org
A movement aimed at tackling the energy crisis with aplomb has been stepping on the gas since its formation.

U.S. Officials Outline Missile Defense Goals

Officials Outline Missile Defense Goals
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

By Otto Kreisher

WASHINGTON -- Top U.S. defense officials on Monday reaffirmed the Obama administration's commitment to an "effective ballistic missile defense" capability and rejected any idea of abolishing the Missile Defense Agency and transferring its functions to the different armed services (see GSN, March 4).

(Mar. 23) - Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright, shown in 2009, yesterday endorsed a missile defense strategy adopted last year by the Obama administration (U.S. Defense Department photo).

The officials also emphasized the need to extend the "phased adaptive approach" of regional missile defense now focused on Europe to the western Pacific and the Middle East. To do that, the nation's second highest military officer said, the United States must open its missile defense program to systems developed by its allies, for both cost and deterrence reasons.

The officials spoke at the opening session of the annual missile defense symposium co-sponsored by MDA and aerospace industry groups at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.

Officials outline missile defense goals -- Government Executive
Pentagon Looks to ’Phase In’ Missile Defense -- US Department of Defense
U.S. wary of ballistic missile threat -- UPI
Lockheed sees opportunities in missile defense -- Reuters
U.S. raps quality on missile defense programs -- Reuters
Company Funds Withheld Due to Poor Work on Missile Interceptors -- Business Week/Bloomberg
Missile Defense Vital for the U.S. and its Allies -- DoD Live
Missile Defense Is What Really Matters -- Heritage Foundation

Russia, U.S. Reach Agreement On New Arms Pact: Kremlin

Russia, U.S. Reach Agreement On New Arms Pact: Kremlin -- New York Times/Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and the United States have reached agreement on a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, a Kremlin official said on Wednesday.

"All documents for the signing of START have been agreed," said a Kremlin official who asked not to be identified.

The official said U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would decide when to sign the landmark treaty, and that Prague was the most likely site for the signing ceremony.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. - Russian Arms Agreement

Russia says it has reached deal with U.S. to cut nuclear arsenals -- Washington Post
Kremlin source: New arms treaty ready for signing -- AP
Nuclear Arms Treaty Set for April -- Wall Street Journal
Russia-U.S. arms pact ready, could be signed in Prague - Kremlin source -- RIA Novosti
U.S., Russia Reach Nuclear Arms Accord, Kremlin Says -- Business Week/Bloomberg
Kremlin source: U.S., Russia reach arms deal -- MSNBC
Obama Looks for Double-Reset in Prague -- Wall Street Journal
US nominates Prague for Russia nuclear treaty signing -- AFP
US-Russian nuclear deal to be signed in Prague -- AP
Czechs Would Host U.S.-Russia Disarmament Signing -- Radio Free Europe

Washington's Shrinking Options on Iran Sanctions -- Time Magazine

Washington's Shrinking Options on Iran Sanctions -- Time Magazine

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the Israel lobbying group AIPAC on Monday, one of her best-received lines was her vow that "the United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." Israel and its advocates in Washington see Iran's nuclear program, rather than the conflict with the Palestinians, as the prime issue in the U.S.–Israel conversation. So Clinton talked up the Administration's efforts to halt Iran's uranium-enrichment program, citing "a growing international consensus on taking steps to pressure Iran's leaders to change course."

Read more ....

More News On Talks To Impose Sanctions On Iran

Russia and China Pressed Iran on Nuclear Deal -- New York Times
Six key powers hold conference call on Iran: diplomat -- AFP
China joins big-power talks on Iran sanctions -- Washington Post/Reuters
Russia, China press Iran on nuclear programme -- Reuters
China, Russia Seen Pressing Iran on U.N. Uranium Plan -- Global Security Newswire
Turkey rebuffs U.S. call to join Iran sanctions -- Reuters
ANALYSIS - "Containing" Iran debated as sanctions options falter -- Reuters
Washington and Tehran rhetoric heats up over Iran nuclear program -- Christian Science Monitor

U.S. Officials Outline Missile Defense Goals

U.S. Officials Outline Missile Defense Goals

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 15 Oil And Gas Pipelines That Are Changing The World's Strategic Map

The 15 Oil And Gas Pipelines That Are Changing The World's Strategic Map

TAPIThe geopolitical landscape of the world is being remade by the increasing demand for energy resources rom rising powers like China and India and preserved leaders, like the United States and Europe.
That demand is resulting in a massive expansion of oil and gas delivery projects which are redrawing the battle-lines of resource conflicts, both in war and in diplomacy.
The oil and gas business is taking advantage of the demand, and we have a rundown of the key pipelines reshaping the global economy.

15 crucial pipelines >

North America: Denali Pipeline

North America: Denali Pipeline
Start: Alaska north slope Delivery: Alberta, Canada, then onto the American mid-west
What Will It Carry: Natural Gas
Completion Date: Unknown
Strategic Impact: While two major groups are still competing over the project, the impact would be significant for the growth of the natural gas industry in Alaska, further reliance on the energy source in the U.S., and the potential involvement of Russian gas giant Gazprom in the project.
Source: Wiki, Denali

North America: Keystone Pipeline

North America: Keystone Pipeline
Start: Alberta, Canada Delivery: Illinois and Oklahoma
What Will It Carry: Oil
Completion Date: 2009-2012
Strategic Impact: Extensive use of shale oil on North American continent. Allows for reduced need of oil from non-North American sources. Significant business for U.S. refineries.
Source: TransCanada, Wiki

European Independence: IGI Poseidon Pipeline

European Independence: IGI Poseidon Pipeline
Start: Greece Delivery: Italy
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: 2012
Strategic Impact: Provides a connector for gas traveling through other Southern European projects to Italy. Depending on which pipelines it is eventually connected to, could be in the interest of Russia or another supplier.
Source: IGI Poseidon, Wiki

Russian Dominance: Mozdok Pipeline

Russian Dominance: Mozdok Pipeline
Start: Azerbaijan Delivery: North Ossetia
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: Operational this year
Strategic Impact: The strategic impact of this site is already being felt, as Russia went to war in the region in 2008. The pipeline also passes through Chechnya, a disputed Russian territory.
Source: Wiki

Russian Dominance: Altai Pipeline

Russian Dominance: Altai Pipeline
Start: Russia Delivery: China
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: 2011-2015
Strategic Impact: This pipeline provides a direct link between the Russian natural gas industry, specifically Gazprom, and the Chinese buyer. It creates a further strategic dependence for China on Russia for its energy needs, which could lead to further diplomatic tightening through organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and in combined actions on the UN Security Council.
Source: Wiki, Oil Capital

Russian Dominance: South Stream

Russian Dominance: South Stream
Start: Russia Delivery: Austria, throughout Southern Eastern Europe
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: 2015
Strategic Impact: Russia's move to continue gas dominance over Europe, the pipeline is to offer gas directly to Europe, while bypassing the often troublesome Ukrainian middleman.
Source: South-Stream.info, Wiki

Russian Dominance: Nord Stream

Russian Dominance: Nord Stream
Start: Russia Delivery: Germany
What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2011
Strategic Impact: A sign of a broadening energy partnership between Germany and Russia, this keeps Russia in the European game in a strong way. And also gives them a voice in Brussels via Germany.
Source: Nord-Stream.com, Wiki

Against Russia: TransCaspian Pipeline

Against Russia: TransCaspian Pipeline
Start: Turkmenistan Delivery: Azerbaijan
What Will It Carry: Natural Gas
Completion Date: Unknown
Strategic Impact: Serves as another route for Central Asian countries to avoid going through Russia to get to Europe to deliver their natural gas reserves. European markets therefore are serviced from more sources, reducing Russia's grip on the continent.
Source: Wiki, SRAS.org

Against Russia: White Stream

Against Russia: White Stream
Start: Georgia Delivery: Romania, and then on to Western Europe
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: 2016
Strategic Impact: Circumventing Russian dominance of gas markets, this pipeline would further compete with Russian power and give great E.U. connectivity to its neighbor, Georgia.
Source: Emportal.rs, Wiki

European Independence: Nabucco

European Independence: Nabucco
Start: Turkey Delivery: Austria, South Eastern Europe
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: 2015
Strategic Impact: Reducing the influence of Russia in European energy markets by supplying a link for the continent to Central Asian gas supplies. Broadens Turkish partnerships with Europe, and could eventually make use of Iranian gas reserves.
Source: Nabucco-pipeline.com, Wiki

SCO Growth: Kazakhstan-China Pipeline

SCO Growth: Kazakhstan-China Pipeline
Start: Kazakhstan Delivery: China
What Will It Carry: Oil

Completion Date: Completed, further portion in 2011
Strategic Impact: China's first direct oil import link, the pipeline serves to broaden ties between China and its Central Asian neighbors. These energy moves feed into a broader economic story evidenced by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's growth in the region.
Source: SRAS.org, Wiki

Russia-China Partnership: ESPO Pipeline

Russia-China Partnership: ESPO Pipeline
Start: Russia Delivery: China (potentially also Japan)
What Will It Carry: Oil

Completion Date: 2014
Strategic Impact: ESPO has the impact of tying China into its strategic partnership with Russia as it draws more from its neighbor's energy reserves. If Japan remains out of the equation, it may serve to bolster the China-Russia partnership, the SCO organization they both lead, and continue to ostracize US allied Japan.
Source: Reuters, Wiki

Iran: Pars Pipeline

Iran: Pars Pipeline
Start: Iran Delivery: Turkey
What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2014
Strategic Impact: Would give Iran access to European markets, competing with Russia for the gas trade. Completion would apply a strategic broadening between Turkey and Iran, as well as a reduction of U.S. strength in the region.
Source: lngpedia.com, Wiki

Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline

Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline
Start: Iran Delivery: India and Pakistan
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: 2015
Strategic Impact: A definite power move for Iran if it pulls it off. With the potential to serve both Pakistan and India, both strategic U.S. partners with large populations and growing economies, with natural gas could broaden its protections from sanctions and keep its regime safe.
Source: Harvard.edu, Wiki

US Influence: TAPI Pipeline

US Influence: TAPI Pipeline
Start: Turkmenistan Delivery: India
What Will It Carry: Gas
Completion Date: Unknown
Strategic Impact: The key gas pipeline in opposition the Iranian offer in the region. Backed by the U.S. government, this pipeline would further ostracize the Iranians economically by exporting gas to the key emerging economy of India, without involving Iran.
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Wiki

Now Check Out 15 Depressing Facts About The Coming Water Crisis

Now Check Out 15 Depressing Facts About The Coming Water Crisis

See them here >>>

China to Build 28 More Nuclear Power Reactors by 2020

China targets construction of more nuclear power plants
China will spend about $2.1 billion each for the construction of 28 nuclear energy facilities as part of a revamped 2020 target to meet growing demand for clean energy. Work on 20 of the 28 reactors has started, said Sun Youqi, vice president of China National Nuclear. Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Israel is conducting nuclear-feasibility study

Israel is conducting nuclear-feasibility study
Israel has begun researching the construction of a nuclear power plant to curb its reliance on fossil fuels, said Shaul Tzemach, chairman of the Infrastructure Ministry. The study would help the country determine how to achieve a 2025 targeted opening for the facility, he added. Reuters

Democrats Assail Nuclear-Dump Move

Key House Democrats call for restoration of funds for Yucca Mountain
The Obama administration's withdrawal of funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository in Nevada violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and could cost billions of dollars in liability payments, according to a number of key House Democrats. The chairman of the House Budget panel, Rep. John Spratt, D-N.C., the House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D.-S.C., and three other lawmakers asked the Department of Energy to restore funds for the project. The Wall Street Journal 

France abandons plans to introduce carbon fuel tax over competition fears By PETER ALLEN


Daily Mail             
24th March 2010
France abandons plans to introduce carbon fuel tax over competition fears

Comments (8)

U-turn: French Prime Minister Francois Fillon
has abandoned his carbon fuel tax plans

France today abandoned all plans to introduce a carbon fuel tax aimed at combating global warming.  
The policy u-turn will be viewed as a huge disappointment to the green lobby around the world.
Many had hoped that if a major western economy like France took the lead in taxing harmful emissions, then other countries would follow suit.
But the scrapping of the tax plan was announced by Prime Minister Francois Fillon who said it could only be introduced across Europe so as to 'avoid harming the competitiveness of French companies'.

He told a meeting of MPs in Parliament that the priority for the country was getting its stagnating economy working again following the international financial crisis.

Last year President Nicolas Sarkozy said a tax on the use of oil, gas and coal would make his country one of the greenest in the world.
It was provisionally set at pounds 15 per per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide (CO2), and would apply to homes as well as businesses.
Mr Sarkozy said money from the new tax - which would amount to some pounds 4billion a year - would be spent on green initiatives.
But there was stiff opposition from across the political spectrum, with critics saying the tax was just a ploy to boost ailing state finances.
In polls, two-thirds of French voters said they were opposed to the new levy, fearing they would struggle to pay higher bills. The government was forced to amend its proposals after they were rejected by the high court in December.

The court ruled then that too many exemptions created inequalities and unfairly placed the burden of cuts on a minority of consumers.
Its ruling prompted the government to respond with fresh safeguards for businesses, but now it was has been scrapped altogether.
The climbdown comes during a disastrous period for Mr Sarkozy and his ruling UMP party, who have just been roundly beaten by the Socialist opposition in regional elections.  

Mr Fillon told the meeting of MPs today that the government's priorities were now 'growth, jobs, competitiveness and fighting deficits'.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Probe To Investigate A.Q. Khan's Nuclear Weapons-Related Business With Iran And Iraq

Probe To Investigate A.Q. Khan's Nuclear Weapons-Related Business With Iran And Iraq

Photo: Dr Khan was freed from five years of house arrest in 2009 (Photo from The BBC)

Pakistan Asks Court To Let It Reopen Probe Of Nuclear Scientist A.Q. Khan -- Washington Post

The Pakistani government on Monday sought a court's permission in Lahore to reopen its probe into scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and his role in nuclear weapons-related discussions and transactions with Iran and Iraq.

If the court agrees, the inquiry could create new headaches for Khan, who has been under a form of house arrest since detailed information about Pakistan's exports of nuclear gear first became public in 2004. Khan, who is widely considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, now is shepherded everywhere by security personnel and generally prohibited from meeting with foreigners or traveling abroad, restrictions that have caused him to protest to the court.

The government cited two recent articles in The Washington Post about Khan in making its request.

Read more

More News On A.Q. Khan

The Media, Generals, & Passion of AQ Khan -- Arms Control Wonk
Pakistan seeks court backing to probe scientist AQ Khan -- BBC
Pakistan's nuclear 'godfather' in new inquiry -- The Independent
Pakistan May Investigate Nuclear Scientist’s Ties to Iran -- New York Times
Pakistan Pursues Probe of Khan Nuclear Dealings -- Global Security Newswire
Pakistan Renews Scrutiny of Nuclear Pioneer -- CBS News
Pakistan Court Defers Ruling To Interrogate A Q Khan -- Rtt News

My Comment: This is an encouraging sign from Pakistan. If this inquiry goes forward, it will make official what everyone now knows .... that A.Q. Khan was directly involved in assisting Iran's and Iraq's nuclear program.

US Must Consider Pak Track Record before N-Deal: Krishna

US Must Consider Pak Track Record before N-Deal: Krishna

Iftikhar Gilani, Daily Times
Reports that the US is inking an India-type nuclear deal with Pakistan has shocked Indian political circles and the strategic community, with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna saying America needs to take a "holistic view ... the US should consider Pakistan's track record before any deal".
Full Article

Pakistan Seeks to Probe Nuclear Secrets Scientist

Pakistan Seeks to Probe Nuclear Secrets Scientist

Kamran Haider, Reuters
Pakistan wants to investigate a disgraced scientist on charges of transferring nuclear secrets to Iraq and Iran, a government lawyer said Monday, just before important nuclear talks begin with Washington.
Full Article

Iran's Supreme Leader Cold to Obama Overture

Iran's Supreme Leader Cold to Obama Overture

Nasser Karimi, Associated Press
Iran's supreme leader sharply denounced the United States on Sunday, accusing it of plotting to overthrow its clerical leadership, in a chilly response to an overture by President Barack Obama for better cultural ties with Iran.
Full Article

Toshiba, Bill Gates to Cooperate on Next-Generation Nuclear Reactor

Toshiba, Bill Gates to Cooperate on Next-Generation Nuclear Reactor

Kyodo News
Toshiba Corp. will study cooperating with U.S. venture firm TerraPower, funded by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, to jointly develop a next-generation nuclear reactor that can operate for up to 100 years without refueling, company officials said Tuesday.
Full Article

America's New Nuclear Option

America's New Nuclear Option

Steven Chu, The Wall Street Journal
ChuEditor's Note: Although the Obama administration has supported subsidies for a new round of nuclear power plants in the United States, the loan guarantees will not take effect until the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves operating licenses for the reactors. It remains to be seen whether and how the lack of a permanent nuclear waste repository, coupled with lingering safety and infrastructure concerns, will affect new nuclear reactor construction.
Full Article

Bill Gates Wants To Build A Nuclear Reactor

Bill Gates Wants To Build A Nuclear Reactor

nuclear plant tbi
TerraPower, a startup backed by Bill Gates, is in talks with Toshiba to build a small-scale nuclear reactor, The Wall Street Journal reports.
TerraPower has technology to create underground plants that it claims will make nuclear power cheaper and smaller. The Obama administration has offered $8 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power as part of its wider alternative energy push, making this an attractive time to launch such experimental projects.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal >
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US hopeful of implementing 123 deal: Roemer

Official: Nuclear-cooperation deal to be beneficial to U.S., India
The U.S. is "optimistic and positive" that its nuclear-cooperation pact with India will be completed within months, U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer said. Both countries would benefit from the implementation of the agreement, he added. Press Trust of India

U.S. to help Nigeria, others develop nuclear energy, official says

U.S. to help Nigeria, others develop nuclear energy, official says
The U.S. has vowed to help Nigeria and other African countries that plan to use nuclear energy to generate electricity. The U.S. would provide the assistance via the International Atomic Energy Agency, in cooperation with the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority and Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, said Robin Sanders, U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. Punch (Nigeria)

N.C. official wants joint nuclear project between Duke, Progress

N.C. official wants joint nuclear project between Duke, Progress
Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Carolinas should consider jointly building nuclear plants in North Carolina, said Ed Finley, chairman of the state Utilities Commission. His statement comes after both companies outlined planning and resources proposals for the commission. Duke and Progress could share construction expenses and space them out, Finley added. American City Business Journals/Charlotte, N.C.

Toshiba in talks with Gates-backed company for small-scale reactor

Toshiba in talks with Gates-backed company for small-scale reactor
Toshiba is in preliminary talks with TerraPower, an energy startup backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, to collaborate on a small-scale nuclear reactor, said Keisuke Ohmori, a Toshiba spokesman. TerraPower maintains that its technology allows its reactor to operate for decades on depleted uranium without the need to refuel it or remove used fuel. The Wall Street Journal

nnovative reactor designs, energy policy to boost U.S. nuclear sector

nnovative reactor designs, energy policy to boost U.S. nuclear sector
Small modular reactors and other innovative reactor technologies will give the U.S. a competitive edge in the global clean-energy race, according to Steven Chu, U.S. secretary of energy. But the most effective action for the U.S. nuclear industry would be a comprehensive energy-and-climate policy to put a price on carbon emissions, Chu added. The Wall Street Journal



By Michael B. Kraft

State Department and non-government experts have told Congress that a biological weapons attack is a clear and present danger and that countering the threats overseas is essential to protect the United State.

The issues were discussed at a hearing Thursday by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on "the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats," chaired by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California).
Mr. Vann H. Van Diepen, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, testified that “The biological threat has several important components, including intent from groups that have expressed interest in obtaining biological weapons and expertise, emerging infectious diseases that create new opportunities for havoc, and growing biotechnology capacity in areas of the world with a terrorist presence.”
The State Department official said “a biological weapons attack is a real and present danger, particularly in light of the 2001 anthrax attacks.” He added that “We have tangible evidence that Al Qa’ida leadership directed a focused effort to develop the capability to conduct a biological threat with anthrax.” He did not elaborate.

At the hearing, Prof. Barry Kellman, President of the International Security and Biopolicy Institute (ISBI), said “Homeland security is international security and vice versa. We cannot wall ourselves from worldwide bio-attacks.”
He added that “global biopreparedness must be a high foreign policy priority of the United States, working with our allies and the international system. This means having a global network of stockpiled medicines linked to delivery systems to get them to where they are needed quickly with effective plans to ensure smooth distribution.”

Steven Rademaker,
a former assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, who also served on the Congressionally mandated WMD Commission added that: “ It is possible …with proper preparation and with effective detection and monitoring, to mitigate the damage caused by a biological attack. Indeed, highly effective response capabilities are probably our most effective means of preventing a biological weapons attack. “If terrorists or other potential attackers are satisfied that any biological attack on us will likely fail, in the sense that it can be expected to cause few or no casualties due to our ability to rapidly detect and mitigate the effects of the attack, they will be much less interested in attacking us with such weapons.”
During the March 18 hearing, subcommittee chairman Rep.Sherman placed into the record the extensive survey
that the ISBI prepared at the panel’s request on U.S. government agencies, policies and programs to help other countries strengthen their biosecurity. (The study, which co-authored, included interviews with many government officials. I am a board member of the ISBI, a non-profit organization that was established last year.)
For additional details on the testimony at the House hearing see my report on the blog section of the ISBI web site.

What's The Point Of Nuclear Weapons On Instant Alert?

What's The Point Of Nuclear Weapons On Instant Alert?

Monday, March 22, 2010

U.S. Storing Bunker Busting Bombs At Diego Garcia. Target Iran?

U.S. Storing Bunker Busting Bombs At Diego Garcia. Target Iran?

US Navy photo of bombs with Blu-117 warheads (from WikiMedia Commons)
Photo taken from FireDogLake

Final Destination Iran? -- Herald Scotland

Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the US government signed a contract in January to transport 10 ammunition containers to the island. According to a cargo manifest from the US navy, this included 387 “Blu” bombs used for blasting hardened or underground structures.

Read more ....

More News On A Possible Military Strike Against Iran

Report: US shipping arms ahead of strike on Iran
-- Ynet News
Report: U.S. positioning 'bunker-busters' for possible Iran strike -- Haaretz
A bluff? Or are we prepping an Iran strike? (Updated) -- American Thinker
Obama prepares for a new war from the ‘British’ island of Diego Garcia -- Examiner
Is US planning to strike at Iran’s n-facilities? -- Asian Tribune
Report: US sending hundreds of bunker-buster bombs to staging area for Persian Gulf -- Hot Air
Bunker Busters Shipped to Diego Garcia: Imminent Attack or Strategic Move? -- Fire Dog Lake
Diego Garcia: Iran attack mystery deepens -- Herald Scotland

Israel to ask US for bombs in the fight against Iran's Nuclear sites -- Times Online
'Netanyahu seeks US bombs for Iran attack' -- Press TV
Obama blocks delivery of bunker-busters to Israel -- World Tribune
Obama recalls bunker-buster bomb kits to bar Israeli strike on Iran -- Debka File

Stakes Rise as U.S. and Russia Stall Over Nukes

U.S. - Russian nuclear arms Talks near Completion

Stakes Rise as U.S. and Russia Stall Over Nukes

U.S. and Russian leaders say they're "optimistic" that they will soon reach a new treaty limiting both sides' arsenal of long-range nuclear weapons, although they've said that before and failed to deliver. But with a massive review conference due in May for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon (NPT) — an increasingly strained but still crucial lynchpin in global security — getting Washington and Moscow on the same page about nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly urgent.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Russian Negotiations For An Arms Treaty

US-Russian deal on nukes nearly completed -- Washington Post/AP
Russian diplomat sees U.S. arms pact in days -- Reuters
New US-Russia nuclear deal 'soon' says Hillary Clinton -- BBC
Russia, U.S. to finalize arms deal within days: diplomat -- Xinhuanet
Russia-U.S. arms deal 'on the verge' of finalization -- Ria Novosti
New START is likely to be signed in April -- Voice of Russia
Russia, US to finalise nuke deal -- Straits Times
Russia, U.S. Seen on "Brink" of Reaching Arms Control Deal -- Global Security Newswire

6,000 Nuclear Weapons No Longer Matters?


6,000 Nuclear Weapons No Longer Matters?

Now we're going to have to threaten to use them....
Two-year notes sold by the billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in February yield 3.5 basis points less than Treasuries of similar maturity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson and Lowe’s Cos. debt also traded at lower yields in recent weeks, a situation former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. chief fixed-income strategist Jack Malvey calls an “exceedingly rare” event in the history of the bond market.
Got that one?
The Market has now called the bluff of Obama and the rest of the government: go ahead and keep deficit spending, and there will be private companies that are safer - in terms of credit risk - than the United States Government.
This is not "exceedingly rare", it is a warning. 
A strong, clear warning.
It's one I expect the administration to ignore, but sticking one's head in the sand on this issue is extremely dangerous.  Doing so could easily lead to the government winding up with a spiral going the wrong way - and fast.
Don't expect Obama and Geithner to "get it" until it's too late... but as I pointed out this weekend we are rapidly approaching the point where all this arm-waving simply won't matter.

Japan to expand nuclear energy use to curb emissions


A Nuclear Policy Debate

A year ago in Prague President Obama confirmed an American "commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."   This statement was applauded by many in the U.S. and around the world.   Since that time the administration has been working on a Nuclear Posture Review (now overdue and expected within weeks) which many hope will provide insight into the Obama plans for a pathway from the current nuclear posture, to deep reductions in nuclear armaments (through treaties and other means) and to the eventual elimination of this class of weapons.
Paul Ingram on February 15th said, "...when a President gets up and makes a speech that contains within it commitments to a world free of nuclear weapons, proposing a number of initiatives, and looking forward to concrete commitments in the near term, it pays to be hopeful, but not gullible. And we have the first test of this hope in the very near future when the President comes to publish a version of his long awaited Nuclear Posture Review."
Some evidence regarding nuclear posture planning appeared with the budget on February 1st.  On February 10th Greg Mello pointed out in a commentary in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that the budget request includes some of the largest increases in the history of warhead spending and will create new capacities that will allow production of new weapons in some years from now.   
Martin Senn immediately added the concern that moves by the U.S. to connect theater missile defense systems (TMD) to advanced remote sensor capabilities will create serious strategic vulnerabilities for Russia and China when considering future reductions in numbers of strategic delivery systems. 
On February 18th Todd Fine wrote, "...if the President fails to inspire others to adopt his 'vision' and work toward elimination concretely, he may miss a singular opportunity.  If CTBT... is not ratified by the [NPT] conference in May, these [weapons complex] budget requests alone may devastate U.S. credibility."
The above are from just four of the ten voices (to date) in an important new debate among disarmament advocates and nuclear policy experts collected on the Defense Strategy Review web page.   You can find them all at:
If you think this exchange is a useful contribution to making progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons (or more simply, better national policy) please pass the link along to others who may be interested.
Sincerely yours, 
Charles Knight co-director
Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA)
Commonwealth Institute
Cambridge, MA USA
follow PDA on Twitter:
C'est mon Devoir - please do something for Haiti today... and next month, as well.
PDA in the news: 
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4508379 and http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1967353,00.html

National Journal's CongressDailyAM March 22, 2010 Forward Observer Kill The F-35?

From Winslow Wheeler

Few people alive today can match the 50 years of experience Thomas Christie has had with tactical aviation.  From 1955 to 2005 Christie worked inside the Department of Defense and the Institute for Defense Analysis in the bowels of the bureaucracy and as a top level manager.  He ended his career as the presidentially appointed Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. For tactical aircraft, he's seen them all, winners, losers, and mediocrities.

Christie has a simple solution for the F-35:  Kill it.  With more cost and problems yet to be uncovered, don't waste any more money on this obvious loser.  Instead, buy F-16s, F-18s, and bring usable A-10s, the most effective attack aircraft we have used in wars since 1991, out of the boneyards.

But that won't happen, says Christie.  Today's top Pentagon managers are too scared to not show anything for the billions of dollars already invested.  They probably hope the program can be rescued, especially in as much as many of them played a role in the conceptualization of the basic characteristics of the F-35 program in the Clinton Administration - characteristics that have not surprised Christie in the slightest to be responsible for the failure of the program - a failure now so apparent to any willing to observe.

Veteran defense journalist George Wilson recently interviewed Christie on the F-35 and summarized the interview in his column, "Forward Observer," in National Journal's Congress Daily.  It contains some additional important insights by Christie and Wilson; it follows:

National Journal's CongressDailyAM
March 22, 2010

Forward Observer

Kill The F-35?

A fully certified expert on warplanes and their weapons who has filled top Pentagon jobs in both Democratic and Republican administrations would order the Air Force and Navy to modernize their shrinking and aging air arms with F-16 fighter bombers and F-18 Es and Fs, respectively, rather than spend additional millions on trying to fix the trouble-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

But Thomas Christie, whose last Pentagon job was director of weapons testing and evaluation for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, told me in recommending cancellation of the F-35 that "it's not going to happen" even though it should.

The kind of politics that wastes taxpayers' dollars will win out, Christie predicted in a voice of resignation, if not disgust. He said government leaders will keep the F-35 JSF alive no matter how sick it gets so they will have something to show for all the money they spent on it. The JSF could end up costing the taxpayers as much as $329 billion for 2,443 planes for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Christie's analyzing of warplanes and their weapons dates back to 1955, when he worked as a civilian for the Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He said the Air Force and Navy fleets of airplanes have become dangerously small and old with no quick fixes in sight except buying planes like the F-16 and latest F-18 already in production. They are over the growing pains now plaguing and delaying the F-35.

Christie contended the ailments afflicting old planes the Air Force and Navy keep flying beyond their normal retirement age pose a bigger threat to the lives of American pilots than the foreign planes in any hostile air force.

Is the Pentagon asking too much of the F-35, thus explaining some of its delay and cost overruns? Some aeronautical experts have long argued that more smarts should be built into a warplane's weapons and less in the plane itself.

A combat pilot can yank and bank his fighter bomber so hard the gravitational forces knock him unconscious. A missile is bloodless and therefore does not lose consciousness as it yanks and banks on the way to the target.

Looking at the warplanes the United States has sent against the bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan and will need for the expanding global war against terrorists, Christie sees a worrisome gap.

He argues the United States needs more planes that can fly low and slow like the A-10, which also armors the pilot against rifle bullets. "It's all-important to see and identify the target before you launch your weapons," he said. The pilot of a jet flying high and fast over a mountain in Afghanistan might think he sees Taliban hiding behind rocks and launch his bombs, only to learn he killed civilians.

Christie's recommendation to the Air Force is to look for A-10s in its bone yards that still have combat life left in them and send them to Afghanistan to support Green Berets and other stealthy units hunting the Taliban. He added it's past time for the Pentagon to design and buy a modern version of the A-10.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. field commander in Afghanistan, has insisted that pilots make sure before dropping their bombs that the suspected Taliban are not Afghan civilians. When I went to Hanoi after the Vietnam War had ended, I learned first hand that blinding airplane speed can indeed be blinding. North Vietnamese army veterans told me that all they had to do to hide from American jets patrolling the Ho Chi Minh trail was to hold thick branches above their heads and stop moving.

Largely because of its complicated software and computerized gadgetry, the estimated price tag for one JSF has jumped from $50.2 million in 2002 dollars to $80 million to $95 million in 2002 dollars.

Christine Fox, director of Pentagon cost assessments, gave those estimates to the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 11. The GAO told the committee "there's still significant risk on the program," noting the Pentagon still intends to buy 300 JSFs off the Lockheed Martin production line before development tests designed to detect flaws are completed.

Christie would plain give up on the short takeoff and vertical landing version of the F-35 the Marines so dearly want. Too complicated, too expensive in his opinion. Order the Marines to use the Air Force version of the F-35 and save millions of dollars and months, if not years, of delays is Christie's recommendation. This from a man who knows warplanes better than anyone on Defense Secretary Gates' team.

As one who reported in the 1960s on former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's failure to build the same basic airplane for three services and sell it to many foreign countries as well, the TFX, or tactical fighter experimental, I see the same kind of trouble ahead for the JSF.

If the Pentagon and Congress insist taxpayers buy the JSF despite its problems, why put hundreds of JSFs into production before the development models have been thoroughly tested? Even Ashton Carter, Pentagon procurement czar, has testified that "the level of concurrency" -- finding the flaws in aircraft test models at the same time you are producing uncorrected ones -- "is unprecedented." What's the rush?

by George C. Wilson

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Russia Makes Huge Push To Reassert Claims On Arctic Resource-Rich No Man's Land

Russia Makes Huge Push To Reassert Claims On Arctic Resource-Rich No Man's Land

Old Russian Lady
If you remember, back in 2007 Russia sent a mini submarine to plant a flag on the sea floor at the North Pole.
Now, despite sharp opposition from nations such as Norway, Canada, and the U.S., Russia is moving to consolidate this early land-grab.
"There has been much ado around the Arctic region. You know how the (Russian) flag was erected (on the seabed) and how negatively our neighbors reacted to this," Putin told members of the Russian Geographic Society. "Nobody has ever stopped them from erecting their own flags. Let them do it. But we work under the rules established by the United Nations and in line with international maritime laws."
Why the international interest all of a sudden? The area in question is suspected to be rich in natural resources.

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